Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 177

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 177

New this week on OTPbooks.com: Dan goes back to second grade to expand on the compass that has helped guide him to find balance in his life.. [CONTINUE READING]


Utah is deep in our local version of Spring. We deal with snow and sunburns and pollen and mud…almost every hour. I had a full backyard of people over for Easter Brunch and the weather, for once, was so absolutely perfect that we all joked that “it’s the perfect day to sell the house.”

This is also the time of year I get calls from various coaches to help out with a thrower. My old friend, Jeff, used to call me the Mendicant Throws Coach. I visit schools and meet up with throwers in various locations and try my best to fix young throwers. I like the ones who truly are interested in learning. Often it comes down to their feet: they forget to use them.

I had this weekend at home, but I start roadtripping again this upcoming week. I will be in Milwaukee for a Hardstyle KB cert and a RKCII. I enjoy these days and I like the curriculum. I also VERY much enjoy the town. I love the food, the beer and the general “vibe” of Milwaukee. And, of course, it was immortalized in Wayne’s World:

Alice Cooper: Yes, Pete, it is. Actually, it’s pronounced “mill-e-wah-que” which is Algonquin for “the good land.” Wayne Campbell: I was not aware of that.

Part of my journey on the internet this week was sparked by a discussion on the Q and A over at Dave Draper’s forum. We started talking about Laird Hamilton and someone mentioned his “Way of Eating.” So, I started exploring.

This first article gives us the basics of his diet. Although some think it is extreme, I thought the basics were pretty good.


One of those things that doesn’t sound right, even though it is, is the idea that eating fat doesn’t make you fat. The biggest and most fundamental change Hamilton has made over the years was to embrace the necessity of fat, and to eliminate as much sugar as possible from his diet. He’s even cut down the amount of fruit he eats, stressing that fruit is meant to be eaten seasonally and not stockpiled year-round. That’s a huge shift in anyone’s diet, but he eased into it. “The biggest mistake anyone can make is being too strict. That stress far outweighs the value of what you’re doing. There’s a disciplined way to do things.”

Tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in water
Espresso with coconut oil

During the day
Turmeric juice

Fish with roasted cauliflower and arugula salad

Beef vegetable stew

End quote

This week, I visited the dentist and I got a good report. Katerina, the hygienist, explained to me how quickly gums can be destroyed by lack of proper flossing and general care. It was nice to see that Laird flosses too.


What are your grooming essentials?I only use non-fluoride toothpaste, so my favorite toothpaste is Weleda. Dr. Hauschka is one of my favorites, I only use his lip stuff. I use some Epicuren lotion. And I have these incredible Plackers Twinline Flossups which are the best floss tools in the history of flossing. I don’t use a lot of hair stuff. I use coconut oil; I eat a lot of coconut oil, and I use coconut oil on my skin, probably not as much as I should. And then I use Dr. Bronner’s, which is a castile soap.

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I try to keep a balance of health, longevity, fitness and performance in my workshops. This article discusses something that many longevity experts consider key: metformin. This is a very pro-pill article, but I liked it.


He was confident that metformin was good enough for the job. He has maintained this confidence ever since he read a 2014 study that reviewed the fate of 90,400 type 2 diabetics taking either metformin or another medication. The metformin patients in the study not only outlived the diabetics taking the other drug—a not especially surprising result if metformin is a superior treatment—but also outlived the nondiabetics studied as a comparison.

In the end, the scientists holed up in the Spanish prison settled on an unusual clinical trial designed to test whether metformin can, in addition to extending life, delay the onset of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive impairment. The FDA will not make its decision on whether metformin becomes the US’s first antiaging drug until the study, dubbed Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME for short), is complete. That won’t happen for at least another five years. But, based on their June 2015 meeting with FDA officials, Barzilai and his colleagues are optimistic that the FDA is onboard. “Within five minutes, we were all in complete agreement that this is plausible” and “a good idea,” S. Jay Olshansky says.

End quote

Exercise, metformin, coffee…the list of things that help with longevity continues to grow. Fasting seems to do the same, too. This article gets us looking at the “big picture.”


Other Calerie researchers don’t buy it. “You can have a low resting metabolic rate because you’re dying of starvation,” says Luigi Fontana, an internist who led the Washington University trial. “Does that make it a biomarker of longevity? No. You can be calorie restricted by eating half a hamburger and a few fries each day but will you live longer? No, you will die of malnutrition.”

Fontana’s own work with Calerie trial data suggests changes to specific insulin pathways matter more than overall metabolism decrease. He also points to studies where rats were made to swim in cold water for hours a day, dropping their metabolism. They didn’t live any longer than room temperature rats. In other studies, scientists overexpressed enzymes that protected mice from free radicals. They didn’t live any longer either. Redman’s data is interesting, he says, but it’s not the whole picture. “Twenty years ago the dogma was the more calorie restriction the better,” he says. “What we are finding now is that it’s not the number that matters. Genetics, the composition of the diet, when you eat, what’s in your microbiome, this all influences the impact of calorie restriction.”

End quote

I also like to use games, especially Yahtzee and chess, to keep my mind sharp. Maybe I overstate this, but this article, on chess, really has good advice for any sports and games.


General rule #1

Do not play the moves just because you can, it’s not the point of chess to make moves. Making some moves is easy, making good moves is difficult and making the best moves is almost impossible. Before making a move, think what problems would this move impose on your opponent? The best move is the one that does multiple things at once, such as develops your own pieces, threatens to win some material and prevents your opponent from any dangerous actions. Good move is the one that forces your opponent to play something he does not want to play. If the move you play does not create any threats and does not make your opponent’s life harder, it’s most likely not a good move. Look for a better one.

Remember, the point of making moves at chess is to create problems for your opponent! The more problems you create for your opponent the safer your own King will be.

End quote

But, as much as I agree with keeping the brain in shape, exercise STILL is king.


And yet we shouldn’t lose hope. A number of other scientific studies suggest that physical exercise–as opposed to mental exercise–can meaningfully improve our cognitive abilities, from childhood through old age. One study led by Charles Hillman, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois, found that children who regularly exercise, writes The New York Times:

displayed substantial improvements in … executive function. They were better at “attentional inhibition,” which is the ability to block out irrelevant information and concentrate on the task at hand … and had heightened abilities to toggle between cognitive tasks. Tellingly, the children who had attended the most exercise sessions showed the greatest improvements in their cognitive scores.

And, hearteningly, exercise seems to confer benefits on adults too. A study focusing on older adults already experiencing a mild degree of cognitive impairment found that resistance and aerobic training improved their spatial memory and verbal memory. Another study found that weight training can decrease brain shrinkage, a process that occurs naturally with age.

End quote

Actually, as I review this week’s reading, it’s not a bad template for life, the universe and everything else. The answer, of course, is “42,” as we learn in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

So, until next time, keep on lifting and learning.


New this week on OTPbooks.com: Dan goes back to second grade to expand on the compass that has helped guide him to find balance in his life.. [CONTINUE READING]


The Sword in the Stone


The Joust: Meeting Pellinore


A humblebee came zooming between them, under the grandstand and out into the sunlight.

“Would you like to see some real knights errant?” asked the magician slowly. “Now, for the sake of your education?”

“Oh, I would! We have never even had a tournament since I was here.”

“I suppose it could be managed.”

“Oh, please do. You could take me to some like you did to the fish.”

“I suppose it is educational, in a way.”

“It is very educational,” said the Wart. “I can’t think of anything more educational than to see some real knights fighting. Oh, won’t you please do it?”

“Do you prefer any particular knight?”

“King Pellinore,” he said immediately. He had a weakness for this gentleman since their strange encounter in the Forest.

Merlyn said, “That will do very well. Put your hands to your sides and relax your muscles. Cabricias arci thuram, catalamus, singulariter, nominativa, haec musa. Shut your eyes and keep them shut. Bonus, Bona, Bonum. Here we go. Deus Sanctus, est-ne oratio Latinas? Etiam, oui, quare? Pourquoi? Quai substantive et adjectivum concordat in generi, numerum et casus. Here we are.”

While this incantation was going on, the patient felt some queer sensations. First he could hear the sergeant calling out to Kay, “Nah, then, nah then, keep the ‘eels dahn and swing the body from the ‘ips.” Then the words got smaller and smaller, as if he were looking at his feet through the wrong end of a telescope, and began to swirl round in a cone, as if they were at the pointed bottom end of a whirlpool which was sucking him into the air. Then there was nothing but a loud rotating roaring and hissing noise which rose to such a tornado that he felt that he could not stand it any more. Finally there was utter silence and Merlyn saying, “Here we are.” All this happened in about the time that it would take a sixpenny rocket to start off with its fiery swish, bend down from its climax and disperse itself in thunder and coloured stars. He opened his eyes just at the moment when one would have heard the invisible stick hitting the ground.

They were lying under a beech tree in the Forest Sauvage.

“Here we are,” said Merlyn. “Get up and dust your clothes.

“And there, I think,” continued the magician, in a tone of satisfaction because his spells had worked for once without a hitch, “is your friend, King Pellinore, pricking toward us o’er the plain.”

“Hallo, hallo,” cried King Pellinore, popping his visor up and down. “It’s the young boy with the feather bed, isn’t it, I say, what?”

“Yes, it is,” said the Wart. “And I am very glad to see you. Did you manage to catch the Beast?”

“No,” said King Pellinore. “Didn’t catch the beast. Oh, do come here, you brachet, and leave that bush alone. Tcha! Tcha! Naughty, naughty! She runs riot, you know, what. Very keen on rabbits. I tell you there’s nothing in it, you beastly dog. Tcha! Tcha! Leave it, leave it! Oh, do come to heel, like I tell you.

“She never does come to heel,” he added.

At this the dog put a cock pheasant out of the bush, which rocketed off with a tremendous clatter, and the dog became so excited that it ran round its master three or four times at the end of its rope, panting hoarsely as if it had asthma. King Pellinore’s horse stood patiently while the rope was wound round its legs, and Merlyn and the Wart had to catch the brachet and unwind it before the conversation could go on.

“I say,” said King Pellinore. “Thank you very much, I must say. Won’t you introduce me to your friend, what?”

“This is my tutor Merlyn, a great magician.”

“How-de-do,” said the King. “Always like to meet magicians. In fact I always like to meet anybody. It passes the time away, what, on a quest.”

“Hail,” said Merlyn, in his most mysterious manner.

“Hail,” replied the King, anxious to make a good impression.

They shook hands.

“Did you say Hail?” inquired the King, looking about him nervously. “I thought it was going to be fine, myself.”

“He meant How-do-you-do,” explained the Wart.

“Ah, yes, How-de-do?”

They shook hands again.

“Good afternoon,” said King Pellinore. “What do you think the weather looks like now?”

“I think it looks like an anti-cyclone.”

“Ah, yes,” said the King. “An anti-cyclone. Well, I suppose I ought to be getting along.”

At this the King trembled very much, opened and shut his visor several times, coughed, wove his reins into a knot, exclaimed, “I beg your pardon?” and showed signs of cantering away.

“He is a white magician,” said the Wart. “You need not be afraid of him. He is my best friend, your majesty, and in any case he generally gets his spells muddled up.”

“Ah, yes,” said King Pellinore. “A white magician, what? How small the world is, is it not? How-de-do?”

“Hail,” said Merlyn.

“Hail,” said King Pellinore.

They shook hands for the third time.

End quote

On the list of things “I did not know,” the term “humblebee” might be in the top half. As we sit back and “hear” the word, the large bee certainly seems to hum a bit and the “bumble” seems to be a story to hear. There is. I found this:

“When Darwin, or indeed any of his contemporaries, wrote of the animated bundles of fluff, he would have called them humblebees. But they weren’t humble in the sense of lowly beings doing the drudge work of nectar and pollen collecting; rather they would have been celebrated for the powerful evolutionary interaction with the flowers they had visited for millions of years. Darwin would have called them humblebees because, as they fly, they hum. Simple.

“The etymological change of entomological names occurred gradually and imperceptibly, but some key events can be pin-pointed. The first great 20th-century book on bees was by Frederick Sladen, and his 1912 opus on their life history was firmly in the “humble” camp. By then, bumble, which had always been knocking around in the background as a second-rate alternative, had started to gain some ground. In Beatrix Potter’s Tale of Mrs Tittlemouse (1910), the eponymous heroine is troubled by squatters making mossy nests in her back yard. Chief troublemaker is one Babbitty Bumble.

“It is, perhaps, at about this time that the myth of the bumblebee’s scientifically impossible flight came into play. As aeronautics took off between the wars, along with faster and sleeker planes, the clumsy-looking furry bee with its pitifully small wings and tubby body was the perfect match for its new, slightly belittling name, as it bumbled from droopy bloom to droopy bloom. By the time of the next bee monograph, by John Free and Colin Butler (1959), the humblebee had gone forever.”

I had no idea. As always, the deeper I travel into The Sword in the Stone, the more I discover what I don’t know. T. H. White was from a generation of people who specialized in generalization and were able to converse, discuss, study and test a variety of fields. White took on hawking, hunting, literature and history during a typical week. The more I read this book, the more I learn, too.

The concept of Knight Errant will come up throughout every Arthurian Cycle.

“Cycle,” by the way, is a term that reminds us of the ways the original troubadours presented the original stories: a poet, singer or balladeer would present a variation of a story and, next, someone else would step up and pick up the story. By adding details, links, and other variations, soon the story would expand in all kinds of directions. That is why, for example, we have so many variations of the Death (or not-death) of Arthur, the Holy Grail stories and the intrigues of Camelot. Lots of singers…lots of variations.

The Knight Errant, the wandering hero, certainly is my image of knighthood. This is a person wandering from place to place defeating evil, saving people and being an overall good person. My image is probably the opposite of the historical truth, but it is what we see in most movies. After the Viking attacks, Europe moved to the feudal, manorial system and Knights Errant were probably just wandering bullies.

In literature, however, they become our “Shanes,” if you know your movie history.

Our incantation here is not as fun as the one that turned Wart into a fish (basically, Merlyn spoke backwards). This one is from Molière’s play, The Doctor in Spite of Himself (Le Médecin Malgré Lui), Act II, Scene 4 (tr. Donald M. Frame):

SGANARELLE. Do you understand Latin?
GÉRONTE. Not in the least.
SGANARELLE (getting up in astonishment). You don’t understand Latin?
SGANARELLE (assuming various comical poses). Cabricias arci thuram, catalamus, singulariter, nominativo haec Musa, “the Muse”, bonus, bona, bonum, Deus sanctus, estne oratio latinas? Etiam, “yes.” Quare, “why?” Quia substantivo et adjectivum concordat in generi, numerum, et casus.
GÉRONTE. Oh! Why did I never study?
JACQUELINE. Land! That’s an able man!
LUCAS. Yup, that’s so purty I can’t make out a word of it.

In the French:
SGANARELLE. Entendez-vous le latin?
GÉRONTE. En aucune façon.
SGANARELLE (se levant avec étonnement). Vous n’entendez point le latin!
SGANARELLE (en faisant diverses plaisantes postures). Cabricias arci thuram, catalamus, singulariter, nominativo haec Musa, “la Muse”, bonus, bona, bonum, Deus sanctus, estne oratio latinas? Etiam, “oui.” Quare, “pourquoi?” Quia substantivo et adjectivum concordat in generi, numerum, et casus.
GÉRONTE. Ah! que n’ai-je étudié!
JACQUELINE. L’habile homme que velà!
LUCAS. Oui, ça est si biau, que je n’y entends goutte.

Thank you, Internet!

This section is considered White’s funniest work. I’m not necessarily a fan as I don’t like the fact that two good people in our story (Pellinore and Sir Grummore Grummursum) are going to end up trying to hurt each other. But, I get the jokes. They are the kind people say I make: bad puns.

This one is a groaner:

“How-de-do,” said the King. “Always like to meet magicians. In fact I always like to meet anybody. It passes the time away, what, on a quest.”

“Hail,” said Merlyn, in his most mysterious manner.

“Hail,” replied the King, anxious to make a good impression.

They shook hands.

“Did you say Hail?” inquired the King, looking about him nervously. “I thought it was going to be fine, myself.”

End quote

Hail: it’s hello and a weather pun. Ouch.

Until next time, let’s shake hands for a third time and begin the adventure.


New this week on OTPbooks.com: Dan goes back to second grade to expand on the compass that has helped guide him to find balance in his life.. [CONTINUE READING]


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