Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 186

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 186

New this week on OTPbooks.com: How do you define motor control? How do you discern movement competency in your clients or patients? Greg Dea covers definitions, practical examples and the true importance of motor control…. [CONTINUE READING]


I just rolled out of bed here in South San Francisco, my hometown. I’m here for a wedding and a funeral. My wife’s former co-worker got married and we memorialized Ray De Jong, South City’s legendary football coach.

I visited my folk’s grave, hit the beach, went to a Giant’s game and visited family. Wednesday, as you receive Wandering Weights, I will be flying to London for a few weeks. It’s a busy time.

At Coach De Jong’s service, there were lots of things from my years playing at SSF. Tiffini found pics of me, “Hey, this is you,” and a football signed by me and my time when we won the league. It was pretty amazing.

It also has my brain dancing in 1974 and wondering “where did it all go?”

Until I figure that out, this week was fun playing on the internet. My wife and I keep, and give our kids, 72-hour kits for four people to keep in every car (I also have one or two in the house). These are inexpensive and I hope they are never used. Tiffini explained to me years ago about asymmetrical risks: that inexpensive kit with water and food and whatever is worth everything if you break down in the desert. This article really takes this kind of thinking a lot further.


Asymmetries: Finally, you need to think about something we might call “metaprobability” —the probability that your probability estimates themselves are any good.

This massively misunderstood concept has to do with asymmetries. If you look at nicely polished stock pitches made by professional investors, nearly every time an idea is presented, the investor looks their audience in the eye and states they think they’re going to achieve a rate of return of 20% to 40% per annum, if not higher. Yet exceedingly few of them ever attain that mark, and it’s not because they don’t have any winners. It’s because they get so many so wrong. They consistently overestimate their confidence in their probabilistic estimates. (For reference, the general stock market has returned no more than 7% to 8% per annum in the United States over a long period, before fees.)

Another common asymmetry is people’s ability to estimate the effect of traffic on travel time. How often do you leave “on time” and arrive 20% early? Almost never? How often do you leave “on time” and arrive 20% late? All the time? Exactly. Your estimation errors are asymmetric, skewing in a single direction. This is often the case with probabilistic decision-making.[2]

Far more probability estimates are wrong on the “over-optimistic” side than the “under-optimistic” side. You’ll rarely read an about an investor who aimed for 25% annual return rates who subsequently earned 40% over a long period of time. You can throw a dart at the Wall Street Journal and hit the names of lots of investors who aim for 25% per annum with each investment and end up closer to 10%.

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I started deep diving on Marty Gallagher’s work this week. I found this older Heavy Hands article. Marty is always worth reading…even twenty years ago.



He found that the highest male and female oxygen uptakes ever posted were achieved by cross-country skiers. He deduced that the reason the cross-country skiers were the most aerobically capable group of athletes was that they used their arms continually as they pumped their ski poles in conjunction with their leg movements. Thus they used all four limbs – two arms, two legs – to propel themselves. Each limb is encountering significant resistance as it performs its athletic function.

Schwartz asked himself: “How could I recreate this four-limbed resistance to obtain the aerobic benefits of a four-limbed phenomenon?”

Running worked the legs very well, as evidenced by the excellent V02 rating of the long-distance runner – but the aerobic edge obtained by the skier was superior and a direct result of the arm involvement. Small weights, Schwartz was convinced, effectively recreated the requisite arm resistance. Extensive laboratory testing confirmed his belief; hand weights, used vigorously and combined with leg movements, produce a hybrid aerobic system that produced excellent results.

In 1982 Schwartz published his book Heavyhands. It created a commotion in the fitness world on a par with The Beatles arriving in America. Suddenly, everybody was jumping on the Heavyhands bandwagon. Celebs and Supreme Court justices, rock stars and housewives; everyone, it seemed, was running hither and yon, toting those funny little red hand weights with the curved handles. Heavyhands seemed on its way to being enshrined in the exercise hall of fame.

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Marty updated this with his booksPurposeful Primitive and Strong Medicine.


The final deathblow for HeavyHands occurred when the public ignored Len’s protocols. It was critically important that the little hand weights, regardless the poundage, be raised to predetermined heights: low, medium or high. The height selected was used to create the cardio intensity needed to achieve the desired training effect. The public turned HeavyHands into “CarryHands”. The red-handled dumbbells were seen everywhere, yet despite their popularity, no one got the promised gains. The lack of results was directly attributable to the total disregard of Len’s protocols: instead of pumping the arms to any height, the public speed-walked or jogged with HHs, carrying them like heavy suitcases at the end of a long trip or clutched to the chest of the jogger/runner in a death-grip.

The “CarryHands” protocol actually reduced arm motion and diminished results. Now, the immobile and frozen arms actually contributed less then if walker/jogger was empty handed, swinging their un-weighted arms normally. Naturally, no one got results from “CarryHands” and it killed HeavyHands.

In 2015, we’re resurrecting Len’s “old wine” theories, strategies and protocols. The first order of business was to select a new tool. We found a retro tool, the Fan Bike, that allowed us to invoke Schwartz’s strategies in a manner and fashion that could equal or exceed results derived from HeavyHands or kettlebells. The retro Fan Bike allows the user to tax both arms and legs in two directions: forward and backward. We place old wine (Schwartz’s philosophies and protocols) into a new bottle (a modern retro tool that enables us to maximally tax ourselves to the desired degree.) The end result is an exciting new avenue of progress for the informed and enlightened fitness seeker.

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Microbes in the belly seem more important each week. This article explains the role in therapy.


Although the excitement about microbes and immunotherapy has emerged only in the past three years, some researchers have been exploring connections between gut bacteria and cancer for much longer. Scientists first linked the infectious bacterium Helicobacter pylori to gastric cancer back in the 1990s, for example. And since then, other bacteria have been associated with cancer initiation and progression. Some of these microbes activate inflammatory responses and disrupt the mucus layers that protect the body from outside invaders, creating an environment that supports tumour growth. In other cases, they promote cancer survival by making cells resistant to anticancer drugs.

But gut bacteria can also help fight tumours. In 2013, a group led by Laurence Zitvogel at Gustave Roussy and one led by immunologists Romina Goldszmid and Giorgio Trinchieri at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, showed that some cancer treatments rely on the gut microbiome activating the immune system.

Zitvogel’s team found that the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide damages the mucus layer that lines the intestine, allowing some gut bacteria to travel into the lymph nodes and spleen, where they activate specific immune cells. For mice raised without microbes in their guts or given antibiotics, the drug largely lost its anticancer effects.

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I like articles on packing. I think it makes me think better to do this kind of thing.


Another idea: Take along some of the items you’ll need on your trip without putting them in your bag. “If you’re traveling in the winter or going somewhere cold, wear your biggest boots and your bulkiest jacket on the plane,” says Jessica Dodson, travel expert at luggage manufacturer Eagle Creek. “It will keep you warm and take up less space.”

If you carry a purse, put that inside a larger tote bag for more space to carry on if you’re flying. The tote can go under the seat in front of you, while your suitcase will go above.

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This week’s challenge, please send in a full video. 


The lifter will take a bar onto the shoulders with a weight equal to 150 per cent of the lifter’s bodyweight. The lifter will then carry this weight a distance of one mile. Gait is optional.  Stopping to rest is allowed, but neither the lifter nor the weight may be supported in any manner.  The bar must not be touched by any assistants once the mile has begun or it will be a disqualification. The bar must stay on the back the entire mile. The lifter may be handed refreshments during the mile. Records will be kept for time.

Now to the answer whether it has ever been done.  IT HAS NOT (at least not officially in the USAWA).

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The problem of reading fast on computers is an issue for me. I thought this was good.


While the white card works great for printed text, such as books and project briefs, it’s not practical for screen reading. Holding up a physical index card to your monitor while reading lengthy emails, PDFs, and web pages would get tired very quickly thanks to gorilla arm syndrome. And you would just look silly. But Beal says it’s easy to adapt the white card trick to on-screen text:

“To adapt this to a screen, line up the first line of text to the top of the screen where an application’s toolbar or upper window border might be,” says Beale. “Then using the scroll bar on the right, advance down one line at a time, which forces the words up as if covered by a white card.”

If you use only one speed reading trick, make it this. That’s because, as Beale points out, “Reading text on-screen, without any strategies, is about 25% slower than reading on paper,” so you’re already at a disadvantage if most of your workplace reading is done on-screen.

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This advice should get you reading WW faster each week. And, until next week, let’s keep lifting and learning.


New this week on OTPbooks.com: How do you define motor control? How do you discern movement competency in your clients or patients? Greg Dea covers definitions, practical examples and the true importance of motor control…. [CONTINUE READING]


The Sword in the Stone, Part 43


“Wart drew his breath at the sight of all these stately figures, standing so still that they might have been cut of stone. He was overwhelmed by their magnificence, and felt no need of Merlyn’s warning that he was to be humble and behave himself.

Presently there was a gentle ringing of a bell. The great peregrine falcon had bestirred herself and now said, in a high nasal voice which came from her aristocratic nose, “Gentlemen, you may converse.”

There was dead silence.

Only, in the far corner of the room, which had been netted off for Cully—loose there, unhooded and deep in moult—they could hear a faint muttering from the choleric infantry colonel.

“Damned niggers,” he was mumbling. “Damned administration. Damned politicians. Damned bolsheviks. Is this a damned dagger that I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Damned spot. Now, Cully, hast thou but one brief hour to live, and then thou must be damned perpetually.”

“Colonel,” said the peregrine coldly, “not before the younger officers.”

“I beg your pardon, Mam,” said the poor colonel at once. “It is something that gets into my head, you know. Some deep demnation.”

There was silence again, formal, terrible and calm.

“Who is the new officer?” inquired the first fierce and beautiful voice.

Nobody answered.

“Speak for yourself, sir,” commanded the peregrine, looking straight before her as if she were talking in her sleep.

They could not see him through their hoods.

“Please,” began the Wart, “I am a merlin….”

And he stopped, scared in the stillness.

Balan, who was one of the real merlins standing beside him, leaned over and whispered quite kindly in his ear, “Don’t be afraid. Call her Madam.”

“I am a merlin, Madam, an it please you.”

End quote

Cully is the Goshawk we met on our adventure with Madame Mim. Cully seems to be grumpy quite a bit in this book. When I studied molting, I discovered, like hair and nails, that feathers are dead and need to be replaced, “molting.” I can only guess it is like a dog shedding his hair, but much, much worse. It takes a lot of time.

Molting in most passerines takes from 5 to 12 weeks, but some raptors may require two years or more to completely replace their feathers.”

We will meet Cully again in one of my favorite “cut to the chase” chapters of all time, Chapter Twenty:


It was hay-making again, and Merlyn had been with them a year. The wind had visited them, and the snow, and the rain, and the sun once more. The boys looked longer in the leg, but otherwise everything was the same.

Six other years passed by.

Sometimes Sir Grummore came on a visit. Sometimes King Pellinore could be descried galloping over the purlieus after the Beast, or with the Beast after him if they happened to have got muddled up. Cully lost the vertical stripes of his first year’s plumage and became greyer, grimmer, madder, and distinguished by smart horizontal bars where the long stripes had been. The merlins were released every winter and new ones caught again next year. Hob’s hair went white. The sergeant-at-arms developed a pot-belly and nearly died of shame, but continued to cry out One-Two, in a huskier voice, on every possible occasion. Nobody else seemed to change at all, except the boys.

These grew longer. They ran like wild colts as before, and went to see Robin when they had a mind to, and had innumerable adventures too lengthy to be recorded.”

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Late in the book, Cully, with all new equipment, will be sent by Hob to the newly crowned King Arthur…our little Wart.

T. H. White will write a book on taming, or attempting to tame, a goshawk. Cully’s temperament, a key to this chapter, seems to be more real from White’s experience. The image of the hawk ranting and quoting Shakespeare not only sets us up for our adventure, but it does remind me of dealing with certain two-year-olds.

As we prepare for Wart’s interrogation and ordeal, White is letting us know that Cully is a very real threat…a real danger to Wart.

Next time, the evening grows dangerous.


New this week on OTPbooks.com: How do you define motor control? How do you discern movement competency in your clients or patients? Greg Dea covers definitions, practical examples and the true importance of motor control…. [CONTINUE READING]



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