más MAS #1

más MAS is a new feature I’m adding to the Critical MAS blog. These will be links to things that I’m doing that are outside of this blog. In this first edition, I will catch up on the first half of 2018.


Your SEO Backlink Strategy Will Backfire With Me – I get great emails from Critical MAS readers. Unfortunately, that is not true for my coffee website. This is how I’m responding to the SEO consultants that advise a backlink strategy. After this article was posted, I got unfriended by someone I know in that industry. Seems I struck a nerve. Good.

Detecting the Country Code of your user with SiteGround and CloudFlare Caching Enabled using WordPress – Some PHP code that bloggers with a global audience might find useful.


Although I updated several older articles, these are the new ones I wrote.

The Lazy Person’s Guide to Making Coffee at Home

Next Generation Instant Coffee Reviews – There are at least 2 new instant coffees that are surprisingly good.

How to Store Coffee Beans (Tips and Recommendations)

Prismo Filter Upgrade For AeroPress Review and Tips

How to Make Iced Coffee With the Gabi Drip Master

Camping Showdown: Steeped Coffee vs The Bripe Coffee Pipe – This article includes the worst coffee brewing method I ever tried.

Make Cold Brew Coffee Quickly with the Gourmia Automatic Cold Brewer


CoffeeClub.app – I’m really proud of this site. It is a dashboard site that manages the 12 years of history of the Coffee Club of Seattle Meetup group. I use the Meetup API and the Yelp API for the data and Bootstrap 4 for the design. I’m adding more code on a regular basis.

LiftSlow.com – I planted a flag for a future site. (more info)

MichaelAllenSmith.com – I redesigned my portal using Bootstrap 4 cards.

CoffeeCookery.com – This is a test to see if I could spin-off a recipe site dedicated to using coffee as an ingredient. So far I have not been giving the site much of my time. After I launched the site, I got a MUCH BETTER idea for a new coffee website. More on that idea later in the year.


Miami Herald Covers the Neil Rogers Audio Recovery Project – I was interviewed by the Miami Herald about the radio archive project I began in 2011.


5 Foods That Were Key to My Fat Loss

A few posts ago, I tipped my hand that I have lost 20 pounds since March by changing my understanding of metabolism and using the power of story to keep me focused. Both of those posts are coming up, but before then, I first want to share the 5 foods that helped me lose weight the most.

The foods below are not magical. With the exception of coffee, in normal times I would consume a normal amount. But this wasn’t a normal period. It was a period where fat loss was the primary goal. All other goals were secondary.

I see higher than normal consumption of these foods as a means to an end. They are designed to get me to an ideal weight. Being at that ideal weight will have the greatest benefit to my health – even if the foods I chose are less than optimal. An optimal food might be more nutritious, but may not be the best tool for fat loss. Got it?

#1 Potato

The potato has the highest satiety of any food. I consume 12-15 pounds of cold boiled potatoes with salt every week. This graphic from Precision Nutrition visually explains the case.


From the article Here’s why you’re always hungry.

A pound of cold boiled potatoes is only 350 calories. Knock out several meals a week in this manner and you’ll start dropping weight. But more importantly, you will drop weight without experiencing hunger. See my post The Potato Diet is a Calorie Savings Account for more convincing.

#2 Celery

One of the biggest things holding me back from losing weight was that my eating window was too long. I’d eat something between 6 am and 7 am for my first meal and between 8 pm and 9 pm. I needed to reduce my eating window.

Because I MUST HAVE food before sleep, I shortened my eating window by pushing breakfast back a few hours. To deal with the hunger I began eating celery with salt. Celery has negative calories, meaning it requires more calories to digest than are actually in the food. The fiber in the celery steps on the hunger – a little. Not a lot, but enough to reduce the amount of willpower it took to delay my first meal.

I used this trick for the first month or so and it really helped. My eating window which used to be 15-16 hours is now 10-12. Celery helped me do this a manner that reduced my hunger.

#3 Sardines

Even though I know I need to increase protein to reduce hunger to lose weight, this is something I have failed at for years. Protein needs to be more convenient. Sardines are as easy as opening a can. A can of sardines in water is just 90 calories and 17 grams of protein. When I eat 2 or 3 cans, my hunger is crushed for hours.

There is a debate on if sardines are healthy for a few reasons (location, heavy metals, and denatured protein). Besides avoiding the ones from China, I’m not concerned at this time. My primary goal is to hit my ideal weight. Once I’m there and I have maintained that weight for a significant period, I may look deeper into the sardine debate.

#4 Eggs

Dirt cheap pockets of protein. I eat 4 soft boiled eggs at a time. Yolks and all. Several times per week. Easy to prepare and almost no cleanup. And before someone asks, I often eat the cheapest eggs, which I refer to as ghetto eggs. I promise to explain my decision to buy the ghetto eggs over the fancy eggs in a future post.

#5 Coffee

I have a range of coffee that I can consume and still feel good. When I push the upper boundary of that limit I get extra energy which helps me deal with fewer calories. I also get a zero calorie flavor signal, which helps my mood.

The problem is when I go for weeks or months at this upper boundary I start to feel worse. I get tired more easily and want even more coffee. But adding more coffee never helps. The only way forward is to cut back, but cutting back always leads to an increase in appetite.

Whereas the potato only helps, coffee cuts both ways. What I do know from past experience is that I need to get my coffee levels down before October comes. When Seattle goes into the dreary rainy season, I’ll need my coffee to maintain sanity.


Other Key Foods?

Do you have any foods that you have found help you lose weight?

“Turn Up the Heat” – 1 Month Update

Actually this is the 1 month and 1 week update to my “Turn Up the Heat” experiment, where I am using ideas from the Diet Recovery 2 book as an attempt to increase my body temperature. I outlined the strategies I would use in the post My Plan for the “Turn Up the Heat” Experiment.

  1. Drink LESS water, tea and coffee.
  2. Eat less chicken and pork (PUFA). Eat more beef and lamb (Saturated Fat).
  3. More cheese. No Nuts/Seeds. (Diet Recovery 2 lists cheese as the #1 warming food)
  4. Cook stews with less liquid or use coconut milk.
  5. Since I’ll be eating more red meat, continue with the weekly beef bone broth. Also supplement with gelatin.
  6. Eat more salt. (see Brian’s comment for ideas)
  7. More calm time. If higher body temps causes calmness, then the opposite is likely true. Relax to warm up. See this story on monks meditating to increase their temperature.
  8. More carbs. Not a problem for me. I regularly consume rice and potatoes. Wheat is still evil.
  9. Eat carbs upon waking. This will be a huge change for me.
  10. Eat popcorn for salty snack.

With the exception of #9, I have been very good about the items on the list. Because I must eat before going to sleep or else I’ll wake in the middle of the night hungry, I really don’t want to eat first thing in the morning. In one interview, Matt Stone talked about a 12 hour eating window. For me that means my first meal should be at 10 AM, not at 6 AM when I wake up. Not sure which rule is most important, but I really don’t want an 18 hour eating window. (UPDATE: I meant to say 16 hour eating window – 6 AM to 10 PM)


Cheese by Anne Hornyak

Anyway, my body temperature is EXACTLY THE SAME. This means that either I didn’t follow the advice strict enough or I need to follow the protocol longer. Another possibility is maybe my body type doesn’t want to be warmer or as Richard Nikoley said, this might be a “parlor trick“.

With the exception of #9, I’m going to continue with the experiment, because they are all still sound ideas. My guess is 20 years of caffeine abuse is probably going to take a while to overcome. Even if it doesn’t help with body temperature, I am confident it will reduce my headaches. My coffee consumption is already down 35% in April from March. My plan is to continue lowering coffee levels as the weather improves.