Jazz, Teacher, Guitar, Niksa

Cooking with Niksa

In Technicolor!

Weight Loss
Jazz, Teacher, Guitar, Niksa
A brief history of time...
The only time that I was really happy with my weight was around the end of highschool. I was around 170 lbs. This was not a healthy achievement though, as I was quite depressed at the time and was eating next to nothing (break up...hormones...the usual) Regardless, with the weight training and exercise that I did then, it really got me looking and feeling great.

Then came University.
Late night sub runs, and crappy yet delicious bad-for-you food all the time took its toll quickly. In subsequent years, living with Jos and Brian, we were hitting the gym often, and doing some crazy Charlie Poole workouts. Very little cardio for me, but heavy muscle development which means heavier Mike.

Towards the end of university, my pallette started accepting beer. It didn’t just accept it, it thirsted for it. Mmm...beer. But, with the beer comes the beer gut. There was a direct correlation between beer and pub food. Chicken wing and beer nights, Raptors and beer, jazz clubs and beer. You get the picture. My weight was frequently between 210-220 give or take.

Then came teaching.
I usually didn’t eat breakfast, and had a very small to-go meal (either soup, or a granola bar) for lunch. Being on my feet, and being busy all the time at work my weight dropped during the day, but my metabolism would kick my ass with the giant double portions I would consume at dinner. I would also usually have something later at night like chips, or general bad-for-you snacks.

To compound this bad eating cycle, I would frequently overeat on the weekend, and have a lot of fried food and...you guessed it: beer!

Now, summer vacation seemed to be the worst. World of Warcraft beer junk. BREAK OUT THE DORITOS! Most people would probably take advantage and be outside and doing active activities during the summer season, but mine was spent with listless hours doing dick-all. I blame the internet. By the time I would hit school again, I’d be around 225 lbs.

2009-The change
By the time September was over, I was around 215 lbs.
Both of my former roommates are currently in good shape. During the wedding we were at, I was drilling one of them for information on getting healthy and losing weight. After my 7th or so Corona (free!), I told Jos that my goal was to be under 200lbs for my birthday (November 6th) After several more free Corona’s, a midnight seafood buffet and the hangover the next day, I was ready to start.

Diet Changes
Diet for me was the killer. I liked eating delicious things, and no vegetables. I would eat when I was hungry. I really had to shift my thinking away from the ‘eating to be full’ ideal, to the ‘eating as fuel for the body’ thought train.

All things considered, your weight is pretty much determined by the number of calories you take in. If you take in more calories than your body burns throughout a day, you will put on weight. If you take in less calories than your body burns in a day, you lose weight.

Armed with this knowledge, I set to change my eating habits. Working for a school that has two nutribreaks is actually a good thing (basically our school is set up into three time intervals.) All of the literature I’ve come across suggests that you should try and eat several smaller meals throughout the day to maintain your energy level, and keep your metabolism at optimum functioning.

I went cold turkey with my diet. And I’ve also stopped calling it a diet, and started calling it a life-style change...sounds more permanent. Here’s what I used to eat, and what I eat now..

Orange juice, bagel w/cream cheese OR McDonalds Breakfast Wraps
During the day:
Several coffee’s with cream, 2-3 nutri-grain bars, or soup-at-hands
After school:
Some type of bad snack (small bowl of chips, or other not-so-good things)

Dinner -
I would make sure there were no leftovers usually

Beer Fried goodness from the pub
Big delicious (high calorie) meals made from scratch.
- Sitting around doing nothing

Current Diet:
Morning -
-Half bowl of cereal (either cornflakes, regular cheerios) with some bran flakes on top and skim milk
- Glass of water
- Protein shake

During the day
- 1 and half Nutrigrain Bar (other half before going to the gym from school to give me the energy boost for the gym)

- Protein shake
- Water
- Freshly prepared food, one serving. Usually have leftovers
- Grapes or apples for snacks if really hungry during the evening (but I’m usually okay)

- These are still tough for me, but it’s getting easier.
- I’ll usually have my same breakfast, and the two protein shakes throughout the day.
- Usually I’ll have leftovers from the week for lunch
- Something homemade for dinner

- I’ll usually have a couple of drinks, and some type of not so good for you snack, but rather than lets say devouring a bag of chips, I’ll do up one bag of popcorn for the night (shared)
That’s it more or less food wise.

Here are the biggest changes -
Absolutely NO fast food. Burger joints, Taco joints, and Fry wagons are a thing of the past. The convenience of these (usually) high calorie places were hard to pass up...more so for the convenience sake. But I really don’t miss them. We still eat out, but I watch what I order from restaurants, and will only get a half a sub with no dressing if I hit up the sub places. Buffets are a no-no.

Yes, it’s delicious and wonderful, but on average about 100 calories per beer (bottle). Once you work off 100 calories on a treadmill, you get a new respect for what you’re eating/injesting. With beer (liquor) you’re also usually tempted to snack too. I make a sober vow to my sober self not to overeat if I’m going to have a few, and make sure I have healthy snacks on hand.

Loved sweet chili heat doritos. Loved spicy pepperoni sticks. GONE. Homemade guacamole and sow sodium chips = great weekend alternative. Staying away from the occasional layer dip too (sour cream, meat, cheese, etc.)

The largest part of losing weight, or getting healthier is definitely the diet. You can work out all the time, but if you eat horribly, chances are you’ll not get your results. One of the hardest things that I’ve had to deal with is my changing metabolism as I get older. Basically, your metabolism is how your body handles and stores food. If you’re inactive, your body stores a lot more.
Here’s how I started off at the gym.

Running is usually considered the best form of cardio. Your body isn’t getting any help from a machine. It’s just you, pulling your own weight. So I started on the treadmill.

My first goal was to figure out how much I’d burn off in a 20 minute span. It came to about 190 calories in 20 minutes. Next time I went to the gym, I ran again, and had the goal of of 200 calories in 20 minutes. My main goal was to hit 250 calories in twenty minutes. The first day I actually did it, I nearly died after, but it was uber satisfying to achieve my goal. I keep upping my goal, and am currently at 310 calories in 20 minutes consecutively. When it comes to cardio, I leave part of my soul on the treadmill. My mind takes control of my body, and forces it to meet my goal. I’m flat out dead when I’m done. But it starts to rip the weight off you really quick.

When I lift weights, I lift at high intensity. Very little breaks between to keep my heart rate up. I’m not looking to become Mr. Universe ripped, but I have a goal of being ‘lean’. If anyone is interested in my workout, I’ll post what I do. I keep it fresh though, I don’t stay with things too long.

215lbs. (September start of year)

208lbs (October 2nd)

I was under 200 lbs by Halloween

[As of when I write this] I’m currently at 186 lbs, having lost 29 lbs since the start of the school year. I’m really quite proud of it. People are noticing, and as vain as it may sound, it makes me feel good. And I feel better too. I have more energy, I want to do things other than just bum around, and I’ve started to really enjoy the gym, rather than it being a chore.

***Jan 12 - 177lbs

Again, I have no real end goal in mind, when I’m going to stop...I’m always redefining what I want to do, and when I’ll have it done by. My current goal is to be under 180lbs for 2010 [which I met], and if I reach it earlier, I’ll adjust from there.

Just some general tips that have worked for me

- Announce your goal. I’ve found that this really helped, because you’re actually trying to live up to a verbal promise you’ve made.

- Cut out the juice. Juice is loaded with sugars...just eat fruit if you crave juice

- Cut out the pop. Drink Water.

- Drink water

- Start with small goals: A lot of people start with "I want to lose 50 pounds." Sure, it may be true, but you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s a huge number, and results don’t come quick. Start with something more manageable, like 5 lbs by the end of the month, or a decrease in fat % by the end of the month. Or to fit into an old pair of pants.

- Cut out the fast food: as I said, it’s actually easier to do than you think

- Prepare meals using fresh ingredients (fresh veggies, and lean meats)

- Do at least one thing active every day (whether it’s going to the gym, skating, swimming, going for a walk, walking the dog...and be true to yourself to do it daily)

- Be aware of calories. I’m not saying that you need to calorie count, but when you actually look at what you have to do to burn calories, you start to appreciate lower calorie options.

- Tell people of successes

- Don't be afraid to tell your relapses...accountability

- Reward yourself when you’ve reached a goal. This doesn’t need to be food...it could be buying new clothes, going to a nice restaurant, etc.

The Engagement Story
Jazz, Teacher, Guitar, Niksa
The One Ring
It’s amusing how much lead up and work it comes to saying the four words “will you marry me?” Not that I am making light of the tradition, but the amount of effort, thought, and planning is quite a bit. Here’s my story!

CHAPTER ONE - Engaging the Engagee
Kim and I had been courting for three years. Our first official ‘couple’ activity was attending a party of Kim’s friend, who I didn’t know. She was a doctor, and there were all doctors there. Interesting. Things progressed smoothly for most of the time - we had small fights here and there, but nothing really big. Anyways, I started to feel ‘pressure’ from people about ‘popping the question’. I had been merely content to just date for a while, but I started giving it the ‘serious thoughts’ last summer (2008) and had made up my mind by mid-summer.

CHAPTER TWO - A plan is hatched
I had intended for a long while to do it on our dating anniversary (the second of February), but was also torn between the idea of Christmas Break, and Valentines day. I was somewhat hesitant about Valentines day, mainly because it’s too expected. I’d also briefly considered new years day, but also decided against it due to the aforementioned reason.

CHAPTER 3 - The Ring
A series of difficult events happened for Kim around the time of September/October, and we had only gone to look at rings once. She had picked one out then that she liked and I took the information. However, I didn’t want to limit it to just Georgetown, so we eventually made it out to several other stores to look around. She again pointed out the same ring. Now, since it was close to Christmas they had all had their sales on jewelry, so it was about $500 off. That’s the pitch the lady at the jewelry store gave to me and Kim. She was sure to tell me that the sale would only last for three more days. She said that a few times before we left. Now, enter the weather report.

CHAPTER 4 - The Transfer of Funds
There was a massive snow storm that hit us on the Friday before Christmas break. This was considered one of the three days left on the sale. So...there goes getting the ring after work. Though we nearly died driving home, we still made it. I awoke early the next morning, and headed over to the mall. I arrived a bit early, and purchased a few sets of headphones for my sister for Christmas from the 24-hour Walmart. The jewelry store was open by then, so I went and I purchased it. I had a beaming smile for the next ten minutes, which, if you know me isn’t very frequent! Giddily, I drove home.

Now, if you know Kim, you know that she sleeps until like 4 p.m. every day. Not today though! As I entered, Kim was standing there. I immediately applied my trademark stoic face, and bade her good morning. She asked where I’d been, and I told her that I’d wanted to pick up the stuff for my sister, as it was a one day sale. She seemed to take that without any questioning looks or thoughts. Bullet dodged.

CHAPTER 5 - Seeds of deception
I know that Kim’s friends on staff last year had questioned her about (not) being proposed to over the break. I knew that they would do so again this year as well, so I had to create a distraction. After Christmas, I had told Kim that she needed to book off the “second weekend in February”, which she immediately recognized as Valentines day. Immediately the questions flew...where we would be going, when, why, etc... to which I quite calmly dismissed with “I don’t know yet!” I’m good.

CHAPTER 6 - The Ring Bearer
Anyways, the day finally came where I got the call on my mobile phone from People’s telling me that the ring was ready. That night when Kim went to band practice, I picked up the precious. I had to think of a good hiding place, and I did. I can not disclose the location of this hiding place, because it is too perfect, and will likely be used again. It was that good.

CHAPTER 7 - A Twist in the Tale
We now arrive to February first, the Sunday. It was my intention to call to get the ‘family permission’ while Kim was still asleep. What wound up happening though, is that she woke up early, and her cat was sick. There was talk of putting the cat down, staying home with him, etc. This was one of those OH MY GOD moments. I’d had the plan all set out, and there’s nothing quite like a “put the cat to sleep” to dampen the excitement of an engagement proposal. After an hour of driving/waiting/cat crapping all over the vet’s table, all was well. However, the vet left Kim with a good dagger phrase:

“If he hasn’t pooped by morning, you should stay with him to observe him”

Why she said this, I have no clue. But I knew. I just knew. I knew this cat wasn’t going to release its bowels. This cat has had it out for me ever since I marked my alpha-male scent. This was his checkmate move, and I didn’t get to call the family.

Now, here was the plan:

Kim had band on Monday (this puts an extra hour onto her coming home time)
I had last period prep (this puts an extra 35 minutes on to my ‘prepare’ time
I was going to get a haircut
I was going to get a half-dozen roses
I was going to bundle them in groups of 3, 2, and 1
I was going to shave, and shower (not in that order)
I was going to clean the bedroom, and light the candles when she got home.
I was going to say my thing
I was going to propose
My spider sense tingled though. I purchased the roses, but held off on the haircut (because I had a feeling that Kim would be home, and then go to see her grandma afterwards.) So I got into the parking garage, and saw her car was there. I left the roses in the trunk, and went up to kick her out. I didn’t cut my hair, because I didn’t want to arouse suspicion. I’d been playing it very cool the whole day, and all of yesterday. So, she left, and I set about my planning without a hair cut. Oh well.

CHAPTER 8 - The Unveiling
So, the idea was to get her into the room. She gave me my anniversery presents, and then I led her with eyes closed into the bedroom. I sat her down on the bed, and had her open her eyes. Here’s what the plan was:

Give a set of three roses first.

Say - “These three roses represent that we’ve been together for three happy years, and I hope for many more to come”

This one was successful.

Have her close eyes

Give a pair of roses

Say: “These two roses represent that we will be spending two romantic days in Niagara Falls at the Sharaton Hotel overlooking Niagara Falls

This one worked fine

Close her eyes for the last time
Open eyes and present single rose

Say “This rose represents the idea that when I met you, that I knew you were the one for me. This rose also represents the two of us, together as one for the rest of our lives”
*Down on one knee*
“Kimberly Saunders, will you marry me?”

Close her eyes for the last time
Open eyes and present single rose
Say nothing (I actually could not speak at this point)
*hug Kim*
Again, try to say line, nothing
Retake rose, and smile
Eventually get out “and this last rose”
Tear up a bit, so I try and position myself behind her
Mentally tell myself to man up
Say (slowly) the line "represents that I've known ever since I've met you that you were the one for me"
*Down on one knee*
“Kimberly Saunders, will you marry me?”

She said yes, and I placed the ring on her finger. We both had a teary happy hug/kiss, and took some pictures.

This is one of the few times that I've been very happy in recent years.

CHAPTER 9 - Aftermath

We went for dinner at the Stuffed Olive in Georgetown. Had some wine, and some pasta dishes. Really good stuff.

Yet to be written.

Living Life
Jazz, Teacher, Guitar, Niksa
My hair has started to recede
Some of it is grey
I have friends that have had children
I have friends that are married
I work nine to five (Well, 7 until 3)
I'm living for the weekend
I'm living for June
Music is dead
I am thinking I will buy a house
I have aches
I have pains
I am tired......
I am always very tired

If I am only as old as I feel...

A few other bits....
Jazz, Teacher, Guitar, Niksa
Just fired it up. Has what I think your looking for in tone Niksa.
The Air Zone in the bridge spot has kind of a warm bright thing going for it, so it should be good for the Straty blues kind of thing or even rock lead, and the Virtual PAF at the neck is warm so it should lend itself well to jazz stuff, even blues. The combo together is a cross. Sooo should do the things you are looking for in tone. Oh yeah, the neck is probably one of the lowest action necks I've done, came out real nice, if I do say so myself.

Now to let it settle-in over night. Then give it a once over and ship.

I've been really concentrating on really straight and VERY level frets with no fret more than .002" height difference from the two or three on each side of the one being measured. Usually there is no light under a 6" straightedge when I'm doing frets, so they are basically dead level. When the truss is adjusted to bring the neck into a straight condition.

I shoot for .040 and under at the last fret nowadays. And about .010 on the first when filing nut slots.

Just needs the nut
Jazz, Teacher, Guitar, Niksa
OK. Here's the latest.
After a repaint of the headstock, didn't like how it came out the first time. The guitar is wired and neck installed. Time to install the nut, file nut slots, string and set it up. Then ready to go.

Painting done
Jazz, Teacher, Guitar, Niksa
Well...I had the idea for a 'burst', but looking through my emails to the luthier I never told him that! I guess i just verbalized it. Regardless, I think it looks pretty cool. I'd asked to go with the just regular finished back (non painted)...I think next time I'll go with the full colour. But it's looking prettttty sweeeeet.

Finally have the body back from paint. Worth the wait, as usual my friend and paint guru does some very good work.

Body top face. The trans black came out quite nice. Hard to take a photo as it's really a high gloss and a deep finish. Photo doesn't do it justice. Plus the flash just washed it out too much so had to turn it off, soooo it's just a bit blurry. But not too bad.

The body back. Way nice. (If I say so myself)

Will post photos of the assembly to start ....

Body done!
Jazz, Teacher, Guitar, Niksa
Body binding channel routed. An end shot and a side/top shot.

Binding installed. I use super glue as it melts the plastic binding and actually welds it to the body. Plus I love the feel of superglue on the fingers in the morning.



More top

And one more another angle

Binding sanded, scraped and trimmed.

Another angle

Binding trimmed, sanded and scraped


Body all sanded and ready for finish. Note the rounded back edges. Rounding over router bits are nice. Body was already shipped out to my finisher.

Top Side - With Gut profile.


And top

All for now .. time to get back at it .... Neck photos will be up soon ...

Jazz, Teacher, Guitar, Niksa
A couple more pics.

Who needs a stinking CNC when ya have a pencil, two hands and a stationary 6" belt sander.

Here's the rough sanded gut cut.

and the forearm profile.

Now to route the radius on the back edge, for more comfort, and to route the binding channel.
(Note: I moved the usual input jack location to a more ergonomic and easier to get-to location, pointing up towards the strap button, like on the BD model, not down and out from the lower bout like the original Steiny. Just seemed to be the better location.)

Jazz, Teacher, Guitar, Niksa
Another update :)

Bridge holes drilled. Also drilled the hole for the bridge ground.

Control cavity layed out. Drilled holes for the string ferrules and also for the neck screw washers.

Control cavity routed. Also drilled for input jack and crossdrilled for wiring.

All for now. Almost ready for binding and then off to get painted.


And a morph...

It has begun!
Jazz, Teacher, Guitar, Niksa
Copied/pasted from www.buckdharma.com chatboards where I frequent (and progress is being tracked)

This is a custom Steinberger shape guitar for Niksa. Without any trem, so it should be interesting, plus it will be getting a white binding applied to the top body edge and then will be sent out for a trans black finish for the top and clear back and sides. Should be quite unique when finished.

I would like to mention, a big thank you to Melne for generously sending me a body tracing from one of her Steinbergers, since I seem to have lost the tracing that I had for years.

And away we go .... the first few photos.

First photo, body blank. A one piece body blank from a 14" wide piece of African Mahogany.

Body rough cut and rough sanded.

Body layed out for pickup and neck pocket routes. Plus also bridge location scribed.

Pickup cavities and neck pocket routed.

And, control holes drilled.

That's all for now. Will be posting more almost every day, as time allows.


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