Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 234

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 234

New from OTPbooks.com: Dan’s new book, 40 Years with a Whistle

There is this thing on Facebook where you tell people that you have never watched a single episode of The Office or Friends and, now, The Game of Thrones. I am not sure I understand why one would post that as I have never watched…ever… a full episode of Two and a Half Men or Big Bang Theory. I did try, but, honestly, even with the laugh tracks, I couldn’t bring myself to laugh.
I’ve seen this before in lots of things. I know people who wear NOT ever going to Disneyland as a badge of honor. And, often, the person who has NOT gone to Disneyland has some very pointed opinions about the place…without the experience of actually going in.
Experience, for me, is one of the keys to knowledge and wisdom. Of course, we can’t always trust experience as people have seen the Loch Ness Monster (among other things) and we need more than their eye witness testimony to put Nessie in basic biology textbooks. I was once the first on the scene at a horrific motorcycle accident and I thought I pulled up within feet of the rider; at my testimony, they showed me a picture and I was probably more like 200 meters away. (He was going FAST!)
My memory didn’t reflect all the facts. A lot of them, yes: I was a good witness, but my mind had crafted a different story.
That’s why common sense is such an important aspect of attaining true wisdom. Some have argued that common sense might be the highest form of certainty when it comes to evidence. Expert testimony can be amazing, too, but only when the expert speaks from the field of expertise. I think I could speak in any court of law on weight room safety. But just because I watched a youtube video on rattlesnake wrangling doesn’t mean I should be trusted in an infested basement.
This, as always, brings me back to The Sword in the Stone. Merlyn tells Wart on Wart’s first transformation (into a fish):
“For this once,” said a large and solemn tench beside his ear, “I will come. But in future you will have to go by yourself. Education is experience, and the essence of experience is self-reliance.”
So, if you watch or don’t watch The Game of Thrones, that’s fine with me. If you do, this fun list will give you a fun “Worst to Best.” You have to scroll down a little to find the list.
Enjoy the experience.
Reader James Amos sent in this article. If you read my work on coaching high school discus throwers, we tried to have one-hour training sessions to allow the athletes to do homework and have a life. Oddly, they threw farther and found success throughout life.


As one 2015 study by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association found, “Many student-athletes report higher levels of negative emotional states than non-student-athlete adolescents.” Though parents and coaches are often best positioned to remedy the problem, they also often make it worse.
One reason for this trend is that high-school sports have begun to copy the training methods and intensity levels of college sports. This “sports professionalization” says Timothy Neal, a professor of health and human performance at Concordia University Ann Arbor, is a trickle-down effect of big-time sports, from professional to college and now to high school. More students are specializing in only one sport and playing it beyond one season, sometimes competing on multiple teams throughout the year. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found in 2017 that high-school, college, and professional athletes trained in a single sport for a comparable number of months each year. As “intensive parenting” has become the norm, parents in recent decades have pressed upon their kids the idea that endless practice is the route to athletic mastery. Private clubs and teams, which need income year-round to stay in business, have also urged this devotion to one sport.
This professionalization has led to overtraining and exhaustion, which is central to the mental-health problems of competitive high-school athletes. “The biggest problem is sleep loss—all these kids are sleep-deprived,” Mintz says, “and this becomes a major contributor to anxiety and depression.” Long practices and multiple daily workouts mean that athletes have less time than before for other activities, which can amplify the pressures of high school. “Do they need two and a half to three hours of practice?” asks Lonnie Sarnell, a sports psychologist in Millburn, New Jersey, who works with high-school athletes. “That extra hour of practice adds so much stress when you have four hours of homework to deal with.”

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Laree Draper sent this article to me. I am astounded to see the drop in authors’ earnings. Certainly, we can see the past 20 years, The Age of the Internet, as a factor. This is interesting.


Richard Russo, vice president of the Guild, said:

“There was a time in America, not so very long ago, that dedicated, talented fiction and nonfiction writers who put in the time and learned the craft could make a living doing what they did best, while contributing enormously to American knowledge, culture and the arts. That is no longer the case for most authors, especially those trying to start careers today.”
Nicholas Weinstock, a Guild Council member, said:

“Reducing the monetary incentive for potential book authors even to enter the field means that there will be less for future generations to read: fewer voices, fewer stories, less representation of the kind of human expression than runs deeper and requires and rewards more brain power than the nearest bingeable series on Netflix or Amazon or GIF on your phone.”
T.J. Stiles, another Guild Council member, furthered:

“Poverty is a form of censorship. That’s because creation costs. Writing requires resources, and it imposes opportunity costs. Limiting writing to the financially independent and the sinecured punishes authors based on their lack of wealth and income.”
Roxana Robinson, a past president of the Guild, said:

“Amazon’s market share (72 percent of the online book market and nearly 50 percent of all new books sold) allows it to lock publishers into a vise, relentlessly demanding increasing discounts and narrowing margins. Publishers pass on losses to the writers, by shrinking advances and royalties.”
“But maybe the worst blow to writers is Amazon’s online secondary market,” Robinson continues. “Within months of a new book’s publication, ‘new’ and ‘lightly used’ copies are offered alongside the publisher’s, for a fraction of the price, in a sale that provides no royalties to the author. Writers can’t survive without royalties. Copyright was intended to protect them from just this: the sale of their work without compensation.”

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Coaching is “cost-to-benefit ratios.”  This article is probably the crispest explanation I have seen.


Back in 2012, a century after Robert F. Scott and four companions reached the South Pole and then died on the way back, a pair of scientists asked a poignant question in the journal Physiological Reviews: with modern knowledge and equipment, could Scott and his team have survived? In exhaustive detail they analyzed the challenges facing would-be Antarctic explorers, and what we know now that Scott didn’t. It’s not just the cold, which frequently hovers around -40 degrees Fahrenheit even in the summer, and forces the body to consume precious calories just to stay warm. There’s also the vicious wind, and the desert dryness that forces travelers to drink around five liters of water per day. And the Antarctic plateau has an average elevation of about 7,500 feet above sea level, which in terms of oxygen content feels like more than 9,000 feet due the effects of extreme cold and wind on atmospheric pressure.
There are innumerable details that could have been improved on Scott’s expedition, but the fundamental problem was that they were woefully short on calories. Scott’s rations added up to between 4,200 and 4,600 calories per day. No one really knew how many calories a polar expedition like this burns until Mike Stroud—one of the authors of the 2012 paper—and Ranulph Fiennes made a two-person unsupported 1,600-mile crossing of Antarctica in 1992 and 1993. Careful measurements of energy consumption using isotope-labeled water showed that they were burning an astounding 7,000 calories a day for 96 days. During one ten-day period while they ascended the plateau, they averaged 11,000 calories a day. Even though they were eating 5,000 calories a day, they lost 48 and 54 pounds respectively during the trip.
The solution—take more calories—seems obvious, but the problem once again is the weight of additional food. Stroud and Fiennes tried to maximize the amount they could carry by relying on calorically dense fat. Stroud’s description of their diet: “porridge fortified with butter in the morning, soup with added butter during two brief stops in the day, a flapjack with butter after stopping in the tent, and a freeze-dried meal with butter in the evening.” It still wasn’t enough.
Beyond quantity, the type of calories also matters. After all, Henry Worsley still had plenty of food when he finally called for help, leaving some uncertainty about what killed him. In a general sense, he’d pushed himself beyond the limits of his endurance. In a specific sense, the cause of death was massive organ failure secondary to a bacterial infection in his abdominal lining. What sequence of steps connects those two facts? “We think it was a poor immune system response that affected his gut function,” says John Troup, vice president of clinical science for Standard Process, the company behind the Colin Bars, “so that’s part of what we’re trying to stabilize with Colin.”
One of first things the scientists at Standard Process did was run a series of tests on O’Brady’s blood samples to determine his response to various foods, looking not for overt allergies but for subtle variations in the inflammatory response they triggered in him. They came up with a list of about 20 foods to avoid, with the most significant being ginger, tuna, beef, oranges, peanuts, and flax seeds. “If he’s going to be really stressed out there, it’s going to be because he’s hyper-inflamed and couldn’t recover from it,” says Troup. “More simply stated, it’s a reflection of immune response.” Since butter and other dairy foods are also among O’Brady’s triggers, the Colin Bar is laden with coconut oil and filled out with nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and other whole-food ingredients that his system responds well to.

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If you wonder what happened to him, well, HERE.
Shane McLean sent this article. “Take off the headphones” is good advice for most of life.


Second, without a lifting crew, you’re missing out on the community of powerlifting, the culture of training, and competing in groups. This sport is weird, and most of us who do it are kind of weird. Ever try to have a meaningful conversation about the intricacies of the monolift unrack with someone at work? No? Go talk to an experienced powerlifting crew and get ready for a 30-minute conversation. That’s the best part of powerlifting crews and the general culture of being a part of the group! It’s the most fun part about competing and going to train with your crew. Nowhere else will you find that many like-minded people who understand why you do what you are doing and share the same obsession with it.
Take off the headphones, put the camera away, and embrace the lifters around you. Go do it right now. Reach out to someone in your area who also competes. I promise you that you will become a better lifter. Learn from them, and hopefully, someday, you’ll have the chance to pass on some of the lessons to the next new guy in the crew.

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This is a cool thing to measure the calorie burn of rucking.
This is just a good thing to read. I found “happiness” after reading this.


Can you explain what you call “selective forgetting”?
We do forget the horrible things in our lives to a great extent but not entirely. The traumas of our lives stay with us. But we’re constantly writing the stories of our lives, and there are lots of things we’re filtering out. Usually our stories are about the positive things. That flu that almost killed you—you forget about how miserable you were. You just remember that it didn’t kill you. That friend you made when you were 14—that’s something you remember.
[The people I interviewed] saw loss as part of what it is to be human. It doesn’t make loss any more fun. But you’re not being singled out for punishment. You’re sharing that same experience with every other person that’s ever lived.
What do you mean when you say happiness is a choice?
You come to understand that the quality of our lives isn’t based in the events of our lives. It’s really in the reaction to the events in our lives. That’s a really useful thing, to realize “I don’t have control over some of the events in my life, like the weather, but I actively have a say in how I respond to the weather.” The title of the book is Happiness Is a Choice You Make, but the key word isn’t happiness. It’s choice. It’s declaring that you won’t be defined or determined by the circumstances of your life. You have a say in this. That declaration is liberating. That liberation is happiness. Happiness isn’t just the thing you choose; it’s the act of choosing it that makes you happy.

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What I like about this article is the “study” of the development of the character…and the qualities of the author. I bought a series of Encyclopedia Brownbooks as soon as I finished this article. I hope the author gets paid!!


Upon arriving in Florida, Sobol decided to devote himself full-time to writing. In addition to his “Two-Minute Mysteries” column, which ran for 10 years, he cranked out more than 60 books, including non-fiction books for kids on the American Revolution, the Wright Brothers and the Knights of the Round Table. He and his wife co-wrote a book for children explaining stocks and bonds, too.
None of them proved to be as popular as Encyclopedia Brown.
Sobol cranked out the first book in the series, Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective, in just two weeks. That first book contained all the elements that would show up in all the other books: the idyllic setting, the 25-cent fee, the roster of regular baddies like dimwitted Bugs Meany, leader of the Tigers gang.
In inventing his hero, Sobol started with Brown’s nickname, then fleshed out the character from there. “I wanted a name that would appear on the cover and tell readers that this was a book about a smart youngster,” he told an interviewer in 1984.

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My son-in-law, Thomas Robinson, and I talk baseball a lot. He loves the game and works in the field. (Ha!) I just finished a great documentary on Ted Williams and asked about The Science of Hitting. This article really helps out with some of Williams’s writings. It also relates to why rotation and anti-rotation work can be so difficult to “get right” with athletes.


Figures 4–7 depict a major league player throwing a fastball. He is also using his upper body and lower body in different ways. In Figure 4 he twists backward and steps forward, shifting his weight for the purpose of creating a rebound twist in his lower-body. In Figure 5 the rebound twist and upper-body twist stores energy in the front leg. In these figures, the fictitious force in his left arm — from dragging “arm and ball” — is clearly seen. The combination of these forces stores energy in his body like the bend in bristle grass. I drew a line on the figures to indicate how energy is stored and released like in the bristle grass. Since the “twists” are centered on the hip joints, the bigger the movement around the hip joints, the more energy can be stored to throw the ball.

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What I found most interesting about the article here, after consulting the original book, is that many of Williams’s terms, especially “corking,” were words we used commonly in my youth. Corking became the “X” that you can find here.

Oddly, Williams references golf a lot in his hitting book and we stole the concept of X from a golfing article.
There is little new under the sun. And, as I write this, Utah finally has some!
Until next week, keep on lifting and learning.

In our second excerpt from Dan’s new book, Dan looks at the Big Picture View of Coaching

The Sword in the Stone, Part 90
“Huzza!” cried everybody obediently, including Sir Ector.
“Look what I have got,” shouted Kay. “I have shot a griffin and the Wart has been wounded.”
“Yow-yow-yow!” barked all the hounds, and poured over the Dog Boy, licking his face, scratching his chest, sniffing him all over to see what he had been up to, and looking hopefully at the griffin’s head which the Dog Boy held high in the air so that they could not eat it.
“Bless my soul!” exclaimed Sir Ector.
“Alas, the poor Phillip Sparrow,” cried the nurse, dropping her banner. “Pity his poor arm all to-brast in a green sling, God bless us!”
“It is all right,” said the Wart. “Ah, don’t catch hold of me. It hurts.”
“May I have it stuffed?” asked Kay.
“Well, I be dommed,” said Hob. “Be’nt thick wold chappie our Wat, that erst run lunatical?”
“My dear, dear boys,” said Sir Ector. “I am so glad to see you back.”
“Wold chuckle-head,” exclaimed the nurse triumphantly. “Where be thy girt cudgel now?”
“Hem!” said Sir Ector. “How dare you go out of bounds and put us all to this anxiety?”
“It is a real griffin,” said Kay, who knew there was nothing to be afraid of. “I shot dozens of them. Wart broke his collar-bone. We rescued the Dog Boy and Wat.”
“That comes of teaching the young Hidea ‘ow to shoot,” said the sergeant proudly.
Sir Ector kissed both boys and commanded the griffin to be displayed before him.
“Well!” he exclaimed. “What a monster! We’ll have him stuffed in the dinin’-hall. What did you say his measurements were?”
“Eighty-two inches from ear to ear. Robin said it might be a record.”
“We shall have to get it chronicled.”
“It is rather a good one, isn’t it?” remarked Kay with studied calm.
“I shall have it set up by Sir Rowland Ward,” Sir Ector went on in high delight, “with a little ivory card with KAY’S FIRST GRIFFIN on it in black letters, and the date.”
“Arrah, leave thy childishness,” exclaimed the nurse. “Now, Master Art, my innocent, be off with thee to thy bed upon the instant. And thou, Sir Ector, let thee think shame to be playing wi’ monsters’ heads like a godwit when the poor child stays upon the point of death. Now, sergeant, leave puffing of thy chest. Stir, man, and take horse to Cardoyle for the chirurgeon.”
She waved her apron at the sergeant, who collapsed his chest and retreated like a shoo’d chicken.
“It is all right,” said the Wart, “I tell you. It is only a broken collar-bone, and Robin set it for me last night. It does not hurt a bit.”
“Leave the boy, nurse,” commanded Sir Ector, taking sides with the men against the women, anxious to re-establish his superiority after the matter of the cudgel. “Merlyn will see to him if he needs it, no doubt. Who is this Robin?”
“Robin Wood,” cried the boys together.
“Never heard of him.”
“You call him Robin Hood,” explained Kay in a superior tone. “But it is Wood really, like the Wood that he is the spirit of.”
“Well, well, well, so you’ve been foragin’ with that rascal! Come in to breakfast, boys, and tell me all about him.”
“We have had breakfast,” said the Wart, “hours ago. May I please take Wat with me to see Merlyn?”
“Why, it’s the old man who went wild and started rootin’ in the forest. Wherever did you get hold of him?”
“The Good People had captured him with the Dog Boy and Cavall.”
“But we shot the griffin,” Kay put in. “I shot it myself.”
“So now I want to see if Merlyn can restore him to his wits.”
“Master Art,” said the nurse sternly. She had been breathless up to now on account of Sir Ector’s rebuke. “Master Art, thy room and thy bed is where thou art tending to, and that this instant. Wold fools may be wold fools, whether by yea or by nay, but I ha’nt served the Family for fifty year without a-learning of my duty. A flibberty-gibbeting about wi’ a lot of want-wits, when thy own arm may be dropping to the floor!
“Yes, thou wold turkey-cock,” she added, turning fiercely upon Sir Ector, “and thou canst keep thy magician away from the poor mite’s room till he be rested, that thou canst!
“A-wantoning wi’ monsters and lunaticals,” continued the victor as she led her helpless captive from the stricken field. “I never heard the like.”
“Please someone to tell Merlyn to look after Wat,” cried the victim over his shoulder, in diminishing tones.
End quote

Robert Altman was a movie director. I would say MASH is his most famous film, but he also did Popeye, McCabe and Mrs. Miller and A Prairie Home Companion. His method, dialogue between actors, became his “calling card.” Often, several conversations would be going on the screen at once, like the surgery scenes in MASH, and as a viewer you quickly slid into following several things at once.
It is the way people speak in real life. Usually, people in movies speak in the “he said” followed by “she said” give and take, back and forth with distinction and clarity.
But, that’s not the real world. I had an English teacher “shadow” me for a few days coaching football and the number one thing she noted was the not just the volume of noise, but the number of conversations swirling around at once and we all followed every single one of them.
She was thinking of writing a book about adolescence life and wanted to be honest about team sports. She realized that the task would be daunting.
T. H. White, in this scene, pulls an “Altman.” The dialogue of the characters step on each other. There is a focus on a griffin, being out of bounds, an injury, worries, breakfast, a trophy, the proper name of Robin and a few other things all popping about like a string of firecrackers.
The nurse, of course, will have none of this nonsense. Wart needs mending! “Philip Sparrow” is a poem from before 1508 that is about a bird that makes a “Phip” sound and the bird’s funeral, but is also critical of the medieval church.

Somtyme he wolde gaspe
Whan he sawe a waspe;
A fly or a gnat,
He wolde flye at that;
And prytely he wold pant
Whan he saw an ant;
Lord, how he wolde pry
After the butterfly!
Lorde, how he wolde hop
After the gressop!
And whan I sayd, “Phyp! Phyp!”
Than he wold lepe and skyp,
And take me by the lyp.
Alas, it wyll me slo,
That Phillyp is gone me fro!
Her statement: “Stir, man, and take horse to Cardoyle for the chirurgeon,” is a bit vague, but a “chirurgeon” is an old word for “surgeon.” Frankly, I don’t understand much of what she is saying.
Then, I put on my inner Aileen John googles. My mom, an Irish mom with all the clichés included, would sometimes bring out phrases I had never heard of when she was angry or worried in the moment. Reading this section with my mom as the nurse seemed to give me great clarity.
We only have a little bit left of this chapter and story. I have been literally doing this part for months and I am eager to move along. It’s a great story, but…the next stuff is some of my favorites.
Until next time.


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.


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