Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 230

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 230

New from OTPbooks.com: Here you go: Dan’s new book!

I’ve done an unusual number of podcasts in the last two weeks. Certainly, having a new book come out explains much of it, but many of the requests were simply “let’s finally do this.” So, I have spent quite a few hours talking on Zoom, Skype and phone and I enjoy the process.
I always post them, when they come out, on my Facebook pages, Daniel John or Dan John Strength Coach. I’m not much of a fan of FB any more due to some of the privacy issues, but it is what it is (cliché warning). It’s nice in a way as I can follow the lives of my family members who are now spread out all over, but the active negative stuff bugs me.
As the weather warms and my various issues, like a total hip replacement and unexpected infection, start to ease up, I am starting a “vigorous” outdoor rehab. I have the deck chairs out, the cushions on top, and the general clean up finished. My outdoor lights survived winter and I will be hanging my sails out soon. These are marvelous triangles of cloth that I hang in a pattern in my back yard that shades the grassy area.
That’s Utah in a nutshell: we freeze until we fry.
My body loves the weather. I walk or ride my bike daily now and continue to train very hard at the gym. I’m finally getting some real numbers in the weight room and I enjoy everything about that. I move better…feel better.
This first article this week is about emergency preparation. When the Olympics came to SLC, I was required to go through a lot of emergency training because of my position at the time. The best thing I learned is that a few minutes of thinking and planning was far better than all the insanity once the emergency hits. For example, in the one class we learned two things:
·      The hot water heater in your home has 150 gallons of fresh water and a nice little nozzle at the bottom to get it out. So, for water storage, you probably already have it.
·      Count the overpasses from home to work or home to school. In an earthquake, you have to figure out routes around all of those. That opened my eyes!
I do two things that make me feel better. In every car we own (including my daughters), we keep a four-person three-day kit. They are remarkably cheap, but, as I discuss in my talks, the value is asymmetrical: water in the desert is worth millions if you don’t have it. Next, from advice from the emergency prep people, we have simple cruiser bicycles that are low tech that can get us 90 miles, if we need to. For whatever reason, I don’t remember, we were told that for almost any problem, if you can get 90 miles away, you are fine.
Three days and 90 miles seem to be the “secret” to dealing with most emergencies. Usually.
So, this article gives some simple things to do.
Start now, check a few things off your list each week — enough food and water per person for three days, a grab-and-go supply of necessities such as daily medications and pet food, a stack of cash in small denominations, an envelope containing important paperwork you don’t want to leave behind — and soon you’ll be ready for an emergency that we all hope never happens.
And if you need any more inspiration to get going, listen to KPCC’s gripping podcast, “The Big One: Your Survival Guide.” Here are Chavez’s top picks for must-have items for an emergency kit:
Let there be light
When disaster strikes, our power sources are one of the first things to go, and they can often stay gone for weeks at a time. Chavez recommends a pack of glow sticks and simple flashlights, which are easy to carry and store. Be sure to include a supply of batteries for the flashlight! Or better still, include flashlights that are built into solar-powered radios.

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It’s a key life skill: learning to make decisions. I applaud the point here.


Throughout most of our lives, almost everything has a clear result attached to it. In school, you write your term paper because that’s what your teacher told you to do. At home, you clean your room because that’s what your parents reward you for. At work, you do what your boss says because that gets you paid.
There’s no uncertainty. You just act.
Teacher wants a paper. So you write it. Mom wants a clean room. So you clean it.
But most of life — that is, real life — doesn’t work this way. When you decide to change careers, there’s no one there telling you which career is right for you. When you decide to commit to someone, there’s no one telling you this relationship is going to make you happy. When you decide to start a business or move to a new country or eat waffles instead of pancakes for breakfast, there’s no way of knowing — for certain — if what you’re doing is “right” or not.
And so we avoid it. We avoid making these decisions. We avoid moving and acting without knowing. And because we cannot act on what we don’t know, our lives become incredibly repetitive and safe.
End quote
I am so happy I have paralegal, political science, history and religious education degrees. Every one of them taught us/me to THINK. This article supports this education.


George Anders is convinced we have the humanities in particular all wrong. When he was a technology reporter for Forbes from 2012 to 2016, he says Silicon Valley “was consumed with this idea that there was no education but Stem education”.
But when he talked to hiring managers at the biggest tech companies, he found a different reality. “Uber was picking up psychology majors to deal with unhappy riders and drivers. Opentable was hiring English majors to bring data to restauranteurs to get them excited about what data could do for their restaurants,” he says.
“I realised that the ability to communicate and get along with people, and understand what’s on other people’s minds, and do full-strength critical thinking – all of these things were valued and appreciated by everyone as important job skills, except the media.”

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This article, for writers, probably is true for many things in life.     


    Reverse-engineer what you read. If it feels like good writing, what makes it good? If it’s awful, why?
    Prose is a window onto the world. Let your readers see what you are seeing by using visual, concrete language.
    Don’t go meta. Minimize concepts about concepts, like “approach, assumption, concept, condition, context, framework, issue, level, model, perspective, process, range, role, strategy, tendency,” and “variable.”
    Let verbs be verbs. “Appear,” not “make an appearance.”
    Beware of the Curse of Knowledge: when you know something, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like not to know it. Minimize acronyms & technical terms. Use “for example” liberally. Show a draft around, & prepare to learn that what’s obvious to you may not be obvious to anyone else.
    Omit needless words (Will Strunk was right about this).
    Avoid clichés like the plague (thanks, William Safire).
    Old information at the beginning of the sentence, new information at the end.
    Save the heaviest for last: a complex phrase should go at the end of the sentence.
    Prose must cohere: readers must know how each sentence is related to the preceding one. If it’s not obvious, use “that is, for example, in general, on the other hand, nevertheless, as a result, because, nonetheless,” or “despite.”
    Revise several times with the single goal of improving the prose.
    Read it aloud.
    Find the best word, which is not always the fanciest word. Consult a dictionary with usage notes, and a thesaurus.

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This is such a simple and gentle approach to weight loss. Suffering doesn’t seem to help!


So what does that goal post look like? The term I coined to describe it is “best weight,” where your best weight is whatever weight you reach when you’re living the healthiest life that you actually enjoy.
If your efforts can be summarized as cyclical, episodic, concentrated bouts of suffering, during which your aim isn’t the healthiest life that you can enjoy but rather the healthiest life that you can tolerate, well, go figure you’re not likely to keep it off.
If you want to succeed with long-term weight loss, it’s crucial that you embrace both reality and imperfection.
Remember, too, that your best efforts will vary. Your best when facing a challenging time in life will be different from your best when everything is hunky-dory, just as your best on your birthday, or on a vacation, or at a holiday meal will require indulgence.
The truth is there will come a point where you can’t happily live any better — where you can’t happily eat less and you can’t happily exercise more — and your weight, living with that life, is your best weight. In every other area of our lives we readily accept our best efforts as great, and we need to do that with weight and healthful living too.

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Marty Gallagher is such a great writer and font of wisdom. I talked to him on the phone this week and I just love his work. His blog is brilliant.


Ed’s casual strength made a big impression on me. He gave me the lightbulb moment: everyone in power-dom was building their squats from the top down, Schock and the Olympic weightlifters were building their squats from the bottom up. When you squat like Schock, lifting in competitions is easy by comparison. While the rest of the powerlifting world struggles to get their squats down to legal depth and have a difficult time matching their training squats; those that squat Olympic lifter style and use full range-of-motion in training invariably see their squats skyrocket in competition.
One quick tale: Phil Scarito had zero weightlifting, powerlifting or bodybuilding experience. Though he was a great athlete, he had never lifted weights. After nine months of once-a-week training, he entered his first power competition. Weighing 145 he squatted 350 raw, no wraps or belt. He bench-pressed 225 and deadlifted 400. I would call him “Up!” in the squats. I would kneel next to a side judge and when he dipped below parallel, I would yell. He commented, “It felt like cheating to only squat down that far.” His best ass on heels training squat was 275 for 3. Meanwhile his competitors were missing squats right and left due to insufficient depth.
The lessons Ed Schock taught me? If you squat at all, get on the super-deep bandwagon. That’s where the muscle and power reside.

End quote
That’s enough for now. Until next week, keep on lifting and learning.

In this excerpt from his new book, Dan John tells us about his experiences at Skyline College: growing up, learning what he was capable of and being prepared to step up to the next level.

The Sword in the Stone, Part 86

The Wart saw the creature stagger in its tracks, a clothyard shaft sprouting from between the shoulder blades. He saw his own arrow fly wide, and eagerly bent to snatch another from his belt. He saw the rank of his companion archers sway as if by a preconcerted signal, when each man stooped for a second shaft. He heard the bowstrings twang again, the purr of the feathers in the air. He saw the phalanx of arrows gleam like an eyeflick in the moonlight. All his life up to then he had been shooting into straw targets which made a noise like Phutt! He had often longed to hear the noise that these clean and deadly missiles would make in solid flesh. He heard it.
But the griffin’s plates were as thick as a crocodile’s and all but the best placed arrows glanced off. It still came on. It squealed as it came. Men began to fall, swept to the left or right by the lashing tail.
The Wart was fitting an arrow to his bow. The cock feather would not go right. Everything was in slow motion.
He saw the huge body coming blackly through the moon-glare. He felt the claw which took him in the chest. He felt himself turning somersaults slowly, with a cruel weight on top of him. He saw Kay’s face somewhere in the cartwheel of the universe, flushed with starlit excitement, and Maid Marian’s on the other side with its mouth open, shouting. He thought, before he slid into blackness, that it was shouting at him.
They dragged him from under the dead griffin and found Kay’s arrow sticking in its eye. It had died in its leap.
End quote

Wart, our hero, is crushed underneath the dead griffin and Kay killed the beast with a shot to the eye. Kay has spent much of this book being a jerk to Wart and here we have him as hero.
It took me years to appreciate this victory by Kay. I decided to reread Harry Potter and two things popped out to help me understand Kay better:
First, Dumbledore decides in the very first chapter of the very first book that Harry will have a much better life growing up with “muggles” than to be raised in the wizarding community. Dumbledore worries that this will go to the young boy’s head.
Second, we meet young Dudley Dursley in the same chapter. He continues to be a dim-witted bully throughout the books…until, when the Dursley family is being put into protective care, he asks, worried, about the safety of Harry. In my view, it is one of the most touching scenes in the whole collection. Dudley comes off as heroic in this moment and made me want to revisit him again.
Dudley and Kay are similar characters: given so much at birth, without earning any of it, then having to deal with another person in their personal space. Both characters seem to break their bonds of spoiling and self-centeredness.
In this scene, Kay saves Wart. I’m going to spoil things here a bit, but Kay gets the griffin to mount on his wall. At Wart’s coronation, we discover:
“Kay sent his own record griffin, with honest love.”
Redemption makes for lovely storytelling.


Properly racking the bar on your back for an effective squat is not always as simple as it seems. Here’s Boris Bachmann: Getting Under the Bar — Squat Stretches and Drills


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