Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 187

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 187

New this week on OTPbooks.com: Crawling is practically old news in modern training, but the advanced progressions Mark Cheng teaches are rare and you’ve probably never seen them before.. [LOOK HERE]


St Mary’s Post RKC WW

My friend, Owen, drove me from one part of London to another last night. I will stop complaining about the congestion in Murray!

Owen, as well as may others (including Vaughan and Patrick who are regulars, along with Owen, on the Q and A forum), finished a fabulous RKC I with me. It was a solid weekend of education including visits to a local pub and some meals as a group. I think I found the best burger I have ever eaten.

Besides good food and company, I was reaffirmed in the importance of Tim Anderson’s Original Strength work. Each day, I lead the group in the warm-up and I could feel the plane flights and jet lag leaving me. I also came to the conclusion, really a “re-conclusion,” that a kettlbell swing, done correctly, might be a one-stop shop for training.

The Commando Temple is a great gym. I was very impressed with the ownership showed by the members (and, obviously, the staff). It was interesting to see the care shown to the equipment, kbs wiped down and put away after every session, and the general appreciation of the facility. It was a good lesson for me.

I’m sitting, once again, at the Alexander Pope Pub just around the block from St. Mary’s University. I will have a day or two to relax before the teaching schedule kicks in. I’m still challenged by the time change but it is getting better. I use Brain.FM as a meditation and focus aid and it really helps on the road.

The breakfast selection is very good here. I did a 24 hour fast yesterday and today I will probably do breakfast and dinner. I will be adding a few articles on “diets” again (“way of eating” is such a better term, so as I order, I picked out Eggs Royal. It’s hard to make poor food choices when you have a bunch of articles looking back at you.

Let’s get started. I thought this article was brilliant. The introduction will throw you off (“Zilch” and all the rest), but the method of teaching really amazed me.


It’s possible that bees are just oddly smart compared to other insects, but Dyer suspects his results suggest “probably a much broader spectrum of animals can process” the idea of zero. Though it would take individually training and testing different species of animals to prove this hunch. Scientists don’t even understand the human brain’s comprehension of nothingness all that well.

In the meantime, we can marvel at the ingenuity of bees — and consider what we’ll lose if bee colony collapse disorder continues to devastate these remarkable creatures.

Learning how their tiny brains work helps us appreciate the power of our own.

“What is nothing?” Dyer explains, is a question that “seems a bit simple to us. But the actual ability to do it took a long time to arrive in human culture. And so it’s not straightforward, so understanding how a brain [a bee brain, a human brain, etc.] does it is exciting.”

End quote

Growing up, most people had a copy of Dr. Jarvis’s Vermont Folk Medicine book. One of the things he recommended for health was to eat out of your “Human House:” eat what your ancestors ate. One of my RKC students reminded me that Nassim Taleb only drinks things that are older than 1000 years. It’s not a bad way to look at things.


The diet is based on the Nordic region, emphasizing winter vegetables, freshwater fish, and berries.

You are meant to get the majority of calories from vegetables, then add other things – like eggs, meat, or fish – in moderation as an aside.

It follows the Baltic Sea Pyramid.

The pyramid lay out the essential principles of the Scandinavian lifestyle in order of priority – starting from its broad foundation at the bottom, going up to its small tip.

At the best is exercise and the value of eating meals with others.

Next is leafy greens, legumes, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.

After that is seafood, then poultry and eggs and cheese and yogurt, then finally meats and sweets.

A little wine here and there is fine, though that sits at the top too, and plenty of water is encouraged.

End quote

This article adds the additional benefit of helping the world.


The Nordic diet offers an added bonus: it’s environmentally friendly. For one thing, plant-based diets use fewer natural resources (such as water and fossil fuels) and create less pollution than meat-heavy diets. In addition, eating locally-produced foods also reduces energy consumption and food waste, says Dr. Hu. And while the Nordic diet makes sense for those living in Northern Europe, people everywhere can apply those same principles to their diet no matter where they live.

While the Nordic diet isn’t proven to prevent heart disease to the same extent as the Mediterranean diet, it’s clearly a step above the average American diet, which has too much processed food and meat to be considered good for the heart. “People who really like berries, rye bread, and canola oil should go ahead and enjoy a Nordic-style diet rather than waiting 10 years to get more evidence,” says Dr. Hu.

End quote

I often get a chance to explain American football when I come over here. For the record, two guys just rowed past me on the Thames. I forget sometimes that I am “somewhere else” when I write.

Back to my point: after I explain the basics (seven men on the line of scrimmage, ends are eligible, off sides, four downs and the scoring), I slide over to tactics. I used to think the game was like chess, and it certainly is, but now I realize it is actually more like Connect Four. It’s all about balancing both your offensive and defensive decisions. Here is more on this classic tactics game.


Connect Four Strategy

Getting four in a row is the object of Connect Four for both players, so you want to prevent your opponent from reaching this goal. As a “zero sum” game, any advantageous move on your part is a disadvantage for your opponent. Make this work for you with a few classic Connect Four strategy moves:

1) Drop your first checker into the middle column if possible. If your opponent takes this slot, play on one side or the other to increase the possibility of creating a winning combination.

2) Look for patterns suggesting an upcoming winning move for your opponent, and block them at every opportunity.

3) Create vertical stacks of checkers to force your opponent to “waste” a move blocking you rather than building their own strategy.

4) Build a “forced win” or “seven trap” combination of three horizontal and three diagonal checkers. Your opponent can only block one of the two potential moves.

End quote

On the way out here, I watched BigI had forgotten what a delight this film was/remains. The piano scene probably is as famous a dance as Gene Kelly’s Singing in the Rain or John Travolta’s SNF work.


Marshall wanted to shoot the scene with long takes and wide shots, which meant that Hanks and Loggia needed to learn both “Heart and Soul” and “Chopsticks” with few pauses. To help train them, she brought in choreographer Patricia Birch, who had devised the dance and musical sequences in Grease and worked with Marshall on Saturday Night Live. “I loved the idea immediately,” Birch says. “I had to figure out how to work the feet because we had to cross them now and then and I didn’t want them looking awkward. I played the piano, vaguely, so it was easy.” Then Birch gave her students an assignment. “I had them make two cardboard pianos and we practiced on those. I had them take them home and work on them.”

“It was exhausting,” Hanks told Playboy a year after the movie’s release. “We rehearsed until we dropped. Robert [Loggia] plays three sets of tennis every day, so he was in shape for it. It was like jumping rope for three and a half hours every time we did the scene. It was really hard work.”

End quote

Until next time, keep dancing.


New this week on OTPbooks.com: Crawling is practically old news in modern training, but the advanced progressions Mark Cheng teaches are rare and you’ve probably never seen them before.. [LOOK HERE]


The Sword in the Stone, Part 44


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

“A Merlin. That is good. And what branch of the Merlins do you stoop from?”

The Wart did not know in the least what branch he stooped from, but he dared not be found out now in his lie.

“Madam,” he said, “I am one of the Merlins of the Forest Sauvage.”

There was silence at this again, the silver silence which he had begun to fear.

“There are the Yorkshire Merlins,” said the honorary colonel in her slow voice at last, “and the Welsh Merlins, and the McMerlins of the North. Then there are the Salisbury ones, and several from the neighbourhood of Exmoor, and the O’Merlins of Connaught. I do not think I have heard of any family in the Forest Sauvage.”

“It would be a cadet branch, Madam,” said Balan, “I dare say.”

“Bless him,” thought the Wart. “I shall catch him a special sparrow tomorrow and give it to him behind Hob’s back.”

“That will be the solution, Captain Balan, no doubt.”

The silence fell again.

At last the peregrine rang her bell. She said, “We will proceed with the catechism, prior to swearing him in.”

The Wart heard the spar-hawk on his left giving several nervous coughs at this, but the peregrine paid no attention.

“Merlin of the Forest Sauvage,” said the peregrine, “what is a Beast of the Foot?”

“A Beast of the Foot,” replied the Wart, blessing his stars that Sir Ector had chosen to give him a First Rate Eddication, “is a horse, or a hound, or a hawk.”

“Why are these called beasts of the foot?”

“Because these beasts depend upon the powers of their feet, so that, by law, any damage to the feet of hawk, hound or horse, is reckoned as damage to its life. A lamed horse is a murdered horse.”

“Good,” said the peregrine. “What are your most important members?”

“My wings,” said the Wart after a moment, guessing because he did not know.

At this there was a simultaneous tintinnabulation of all the bells, as each graven image lowered its raised foot in distress. They stood on both feet now, disturbed.

“Your what?” called the peregrine sharply.

“He said his damned wings,” said Colonel Cully from his private enclosure. “And damned be he who first cries Hold, enough!”

“But even a thrush has wings!” cried the kestrel, speaking for the first time in his sharp-beaked alarm.

“Think!” whispered Balan, under his breath.

The Wart thought feverishly.

A thrush had wings, tail, eyes, legs—apparently everything.

“My talons!”

“It will do,” said the peregrine kindly, after one of her dreadful pauses. “The answer ought to be Feet, just as it is to all the other questions, but Talons will do.”

All the hawks, and of course we are using the term loosely, for some were hawks and some were falcons, raised their belled feet again and sat at ease.

“What is the first law of the foot?”

End quote

The spar-hawk’s nervousness is going to end up being a life or death issue for our young Wart. It’s a small point, “The Wart heard the spar-hawk on his left giving several nervous coughs at this, but the peregrine paid no attention,” but White seems to utilize quite a few small points in our reading to bring us to the edge later in the story.

I continue to come back to the first and second paragraphs of our book and realize that the framework of Wart’s “proper eddication” will be supplemented by Merlyn’s transfigurations. “In the afternoons the programme was: Mondays and Fridays, tilting and horsemanship; Tuesdays, hawking; Wednesdays, fencing; Thursdays, archery; Saturdays, the theory of chivalry, with the proper measures to be blown on all occasions, terminology of the chase and hunting etiquette.” White’s book on hawking, The Goshawk, certainly is reflected in this chapter and the details are evident.

We had a fun chapter with jousting, but we are discovering that hawking and archery will bring us into our more legendary chapters. “Terminology of the chase” will become important later, but, as I think about it, I can’t seem to find the fencing.

But, the sword will be important!

“Beasts of the foot” might be White’s invention, or like “second sleep,” a term Chaucer uses to describe waking up at night, doing something (write a letter, clean up, whatever) and go back to sleep, might be something we don’t talk about anymore but was a common concept. Sometimes, common concepts don’t get the “press,” so to speak, of complicated things.

With automated vehicles, I wonder if telling someone “I got the green light” might soon become a phrase without the substance, for example. Years from now, there will be someone explaining the story of red, yellow and green lights to understanding the cliché.

As a child, I was horrified to hear that a horse was killed because he broke his leg. It seemed so wrong, but Wart, living as close as he does to the animals, accepts it as normal.

“Wings.” I enjoy this section. I always wanted wings as a child to fly. But, to our birds of prey, even a thrush has them.

Cully’s words, of course, quote Macbeth:

“I will not yield
To kiss the ground before young Malcolm’s feet
And to be baited with the rabble’s curse.
Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane,
And thou oppos’d being of no woman born,
Yet I will try the last. Before my body
I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff,
And damn’d be him that first cries, “Hold, enough!”
Exeunt, fighting. Alarums

In the German translation, the word for talons will be “Fangs.” Fangs has such a better “taste” to what we are about to read. The image of fangs seems to grip me (ha!) better than talons. Cully, of course, hints to the answer to our question, “what is the first Law of the Foot.”

But, until next time…

Never Let Go.


New this week on OTPbooks.com: Crawling is practically old news in modern training, but the advanced progressions Mark Cheng teaches are rare and you’ve probably never seen them before.. [LOOK HERE]