Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 274
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 274
I really enjoyed my weekend in Boston with Mike Boyle. It was a huge gathering and this was an outstanding one day event. I’m not sure how many countries were represented, but I would think it snuck up on twenty. Kevin Carr deserves a LOT of credit for doing the details and taking good care of me and “my crew.”
I like how Mike Boyle always emphasizes (and jokes) about the mistakes he has made in his career.
Oddly, people online criticize him for this. Somehow, our keyboard warriors, with their six-pack abs and abilities across all strength and endurance spectrums, have NEVER EVER made a mistake.
It’s miraculous. Truly.
I’ve met one or two of these internet superstars. Their physical appearance in real life doesn’t seem to support their written work!
Yeah…I make mistakes. I’ve made a lot of them. You really, if you are honest, probably make lots of them yourself.
I’ll give you a good example: on the flight home from Boston, I rewrote and reconfigured the ENTIRE workshop I gave in Boston. I started by changing the order of one thing that didn’t seem to work logically and then realized that I had to redo, for logic, everything.
It was a joy. I was bathing, at 33,000 feet, in illumination. My presentation, by the way, wasn’t wrong; the edits made it better, more logical.
There is a lesson here, I think.
I could be wrong.
Let’s hear from Brian:
This week on Dan John University:
First off, this past week we changed the name of the site to Dan John University. The new url also changed to www.danjohnuniversity.com. We thought this change would better reflect where we’re going with the site and convey that it is filled with a lot more than just workouts. We have a bunch of things in the works including interactive courses. There is a lot coming soon, so stay tuned.
We setup automatic redirects for the new site from the old, but I’ve had reports that they aren’t working for everyone due to browser cache stores and the like, so if the site appears down, just head to www.danjohnuniversity.com and you’ll see everything as you remember.
It was a big week for the podcast as well! We did two episodes this week because we are receiving so many questions. You can find them both here.
New essays posted in the member’s area this week:
What is Elite?
Road Warrior Training
How do you deal with age and training?
The Four Steps — Metabolic Conditioning Done Right
I hope it’s obvious we’re working really hard to keep the content coming and make the site even better. As always, if you ever have trouble on the site, feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week!
I really enjoyed this conversation with Pat Flynn. I give you a hint of an upcoming lecture here with my “Favorite Fitness Reads.”
I have a workshop in Sweden coming up and quite a few others in Europe. Over the next few weeks, I will share the details with you.
Let’s look around the internet. I really liked this article. The information about Neanderthals, I have a lot of their DNA(!!), seems to expand by the week.
The remains of more than 150 different species of bird have also been uncovered in Gorham’s cave, many with tooth and cut marks, which suggests Neanderthals ate them.
There is even evidence they caught birds of prey, including golden eagles and vultures. We don’t know if they laid out meat and then waited for the right opportunity to go in for the kill, or whether they actively hunted birds, a much more difficult task. What we do know is that they didn’t necessarily eat all the birds they were hunting, especially not the birds of prey like vultures – which are full of acid.
“Most of the cut marks are on the wing bones with little flesh. It seems they were catching these to wear the feathers,” says Clive Finlayson. They seem to have preferred birds with black feathers. This indicates they may have used them for decorative purposes such as jewellery.
To show me exactly what he meant, Clive and his team reconstructed some intriguing Neanderthal habits. A dead vulture, carefully kept frozen, was brought out and dissected in front of me, to show how Neanderthals might have done so thousands of years earlier.
They carefully removed the bird’s body tissue. What was left appeared to be a stunning and elaborate black-feathered decorative cape, extending, of course, the length of the vulture’s wing span. They may have wrapped this around their shoulders, Clive says.
While we are “in the area,” I really liked this canned seafood article.
While many Americans associate canned food with tough times and wartime bunkers, those in Spain and Portugal see the cans as small packages of gold, and they’re often willing to pay the price. For example, a 4-ounce can of almejas, the most expensive Galician clams, can set you back nearly $80.
Yes, some canned seafood is a delicacy, but most of it is more wallet-friendly. It’s also a healthy, sustainable, and convenient food choice.
With high protein content and rich omega-3 fatty acids, it’s no secret that a fish-heavy diet welcomes a range of health benefits. The canned varieties, however, are nutritional powerhouses. For starters, oilier varieties of fish, such as sardines, anchovies, and mackerel, are among the highest sources of omega-3s that you’ll find at a grocery store.
So you eat the bones? I get it. Many people get squeamish about eating tiny fish bones, as is to be expected when eating whole sardines. While you can buy boneless, skinless sardine filets, it’s worth noting that not only are the bones almost unnoticeable, but a single can of sardines can make up for as much as 35 percent of your daily recommended calcium intake, thanks to the little bones.
The end of the world discussion seems to wave up and down. This article takes an interesting slant on the collapse of civilization.
Why are ‘apocalyptic’ stories of civilisational collapse so appealing in contrast with the more complex and nuanced narratives tentatively suggested by many archaeologists? At least since the early 20th century, we have been looking forward to the end, on a global scale. Spanning popular and academic culture, the father of modern futurology, H G Wells, announced in a 1902 lecture to the Royal Institution in London that:
It is impossible to show why certain things should not utterly destroy and end the human race and story; why night should not presently come down and make all our dreams and efforts vain … something from space, or pestilence, or some great disease of the atmosphere, some trailing cometary poison, some great emanation of vapour from the interior of the Earth, or new animals to prey on us, or some drug or wrecking madness in the mind of man.
Stories of mass destruction, societal breakdown and civilisational collapse run deep in our culture, from Sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed by a wrathful god, to the destruction of Atlantis, submerged under the sea after a massive earthquake. No matter whether literally true or not, these remain two of the most well-known stories in our society – dramatic and vivid, easy to imagine and see. The destruction of Pompeii has captivated audiences for centuries, spawning theatrical reconstructions known as ‘volcano entertainments’, replete with dancers, fireworks and an erupting volcano, novels such as Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s bestselling novel The Last Days of Pompeii (1834), and feature films and documentaries, in addition to the many popular and scholarly books.
Maybe instead of volcanoes, aliens or nukes, maybe we all get taken over by pigs. This article gives us a hint of where our Hog Overlords got their start.
Wild pigs—a catchall term, synonymous with “feral hogs” or “razorbacks,” that includes escaped domesticated swine and their descendants; wild boars; and crossbreeds between the two—are not typical pigs, or even typical wild animals. Compared with the pigs found on farms and in children’s books, they have thicker hides, leaner builds, longer and darker hair, and sometimes tusks. An average wild pig weighs around 150 pounds, but it’s not unusual to see triple that. As species go, they’re aggressively invasive and, crucially, prodigious, able to breed at less than 12 months old, producing an average of two five-to-six-pig litters every two years. World over, the wild pig population is estimated between seven and eight million, of which some 2.6 million could reasonably consider themselves Texans.
Which wouldn’t be such a problem except that wild pigs don’t become a part of their environment so much as they rampage through it. They have incredible senses of smell, aggressively omnivorous appetites and athletic capabilities that leave them nearly impossible to control. They can scale five-feet-high fences or burrow through almost anything they can get their noses under. They wreck barriers, freeing livestock and other animals, to whom they may pass on any of dozens of diseases and parasites, or whose young they may settle on as meals. Feral hogs can disrupt entire ecosystems by competing with local wildlife for vegetation or by rooting out seedlings. Although they typically flee from and rarely bother humans (the 2019 death of a Texas woman in a hog attack was an outlier; Mets outfielder Yoenis Céspedes’s recent hog-related injury was tied to his trapping a pig), they still wreak havoc on any number of man’s pursuits, destroying historical sites, ripping up golf courses, contaminating water supplies. They decimate crops, devouring fields of corn, sugarcane, wheat, oats, melons, pumpkins and whatever else they find appetizing, typically leaving farmland too ravaged to reharvest. It’s not unheard of for a farmer to take a $70,000 hit overnight. In fact, the federal estimate of the total annual damage done by wild pigs is $1.5 billion. One USDA researcher has called them “the worst invasive species we’ll ever see.”
If you want to prepare yourself now for the future, this little article does a nice job discussing the role of fitness and nutrition for long term health: How Smart Exercise Keeps You Younger for Longer
How to get fit for life
1. Ramp up exercise gradually, preparing your body for the demands you wish to place on it. Walking is a great way to start. Just 10 continuous minutes at a brisk pace every day can reduce the risk of early death by 15%.
2. Aim for 10 or 20 minutes a week of high-intensity exercise – getting your heart rate up to at least 80% of its maximum. This means getting to the point where it feels unpleasant (sweating, raised heart rate, out of breath) and that you can’t keep it up for long.
3. High-intensity interval exercise should be followed by unloading activities, such as stretching and massage. Time-pressured people are tempted to extend exercise during a visit to the gym and skip stretching. Bad idea.
4. Keep to a 20:80 ratio for high:low intensity exercise. Also aim for some strength training (push-ups, squats, resistance bands) to build muscle and help to prevent later-life injuries, like those to the hip.
5. Avoid fads and eat a generally healthy diet, with plenty of vegetables and whole grains. Protein builds muscle and creatine powder in a glass of milk helps build and maintain muscle. Bone broth is good.
As long as you stay fit, you can probably live a long time. Probably longer than most people think. This article does a nice job exploring how long we dance on this planet.
Not, however, that ageing was any easier then than it is now. “Nature has, in reality, bestowed no greater blessing on man than the shortness of life,” Pliny remarks. “The senses become dull, the limbs torpid, the sight, the hearing, the legs, the teeth, and the organs of digestion, all of them die before us…” He can think of only one person, a musician who lived to 105, who had a pleasantly healthy old age. (Pliny himself reached barely half that; he’s thought to have died from volcanic gases during the eruption of Mt Vesuvius, aged 56).
In the ancient world, at least, it seems people certainly were able to live just as long as we do today. But just how common was it?
Back in 1994 a study looked at every man entered into the Oxford Classical Dictionary who lived in ancient Greece or Rome. Their ages of death were compared to men listed in the more recent Chambers Biographical Dictionary.
Of 397 ancients in total, 99 died violently by murder, suicide or in battle. Of the remaining 298, those born before 100BC lived to a median age of 72 years. Those born after 100BC lived to a median age of 66. (The authors speculate that the prevalence of dangerous lead plumbing may have led to this apparent shortening of life).
The median of those who died between 1850 and 1949? Seventy-one years old – just one year less than their pre-100 BC cohort.
Of course, there were some obvious problems with this sample. One is that it was men-only. Another is that all of the men were illustrious enough to be remembered. All we can really take away from this is that privileged, accomplished men have, on average, lived to about the same age throughout history – as long as they weren’t killed first, that is.
Still, says Scheidel, that’s not to be dismissed. “It implies there must have been non-famous people, who were much more numerous, who lived even longer,” he says.
As I review this week’s selections, I like how, by accident, the articles intertwine and build upon each other. I think this is why I like putting together WW every week:
I learn a lot.
And, until next week, let’s all keep on lifting and learning.
For your quick access link, here’s Dan’s full OTP page, including all of his articles, books, lectures and videos, all in one place.
The Sword in the Stone, Part 127
Sir Grummore got up, dusting snow out of himself unhurt, blaming his spear. A few drops of blood were to be seen frothing on the white earth. Master Twyti put his horn to his lips. The alaunts were uncoupled as the exciting notes of the menee began to ring through the forest, and then the whole scene began to move. The lymers which had reared the boar—the proper word for dislodging—were allowed to pursue him to make them keen on their work. The braches gave musical tongue. The alaunts galloped baying through the drifts. Everybody began to shout and run.
“Avoy, avoy!” cried the foot-people. “Shahou, shahou! Avaunt, sire, avaunt!”
“Swef, swef!” cried Master Twyti anxiously. “Now, now, gentlemen, give the hounds room, if you please.”
“I say, I say!” cried King Pellinore. “Did anybody see which way he went? What an exciting day, what? Sa sa cy avaunt, cy sa avaunt, sa cy avaunt!”
“Hold hard, Pellinore!” cried Sir Ector. “‘Ware, hounds, man, ‘ware hounds. Can’t catch him yourself, you know. Il est hault. Il est hault!”
And “Til est ho,” echoed the foot-people. “Tilly-ho,” sang the trees. “Tally-ho,” murmured the distant snow-drifts as the heavy branches, disturbed by the vibrations, slid noiseless puffs of sparkling powder to the muffled earth.
The Wart found himself running with Master Twyti.
It was like beagling in a way, except that it was beagling in a forest where it was sometimes difficult even to move. Everything depended on the music of the hounds and the various notes which the huntsman could blow to tell where he was and what he was doing. Without these the whole field would have been lost in two minutes—and even with them about half of it was lost in three.
Wart stuck to Twyti like a burr. He could move as quickly as the huntsman because, although the latter had the experience of a life-time, he himself was smaller to get through obstacles and had, moreover, been taught by Maid Marian. He noticed that Robin kept up too, but soon the grunting of Sir Ector and the baa-ing of King Pellinore were left behind. Sir Grummore had given in early, having had most of the breath knocked out of him by the boar, and stood far in the rear declaring that his spear could no longer be quite sharp. Kay had stayed with him, so that he should not get lost. The foot-people had been early mislaid because they did not understand the notes of the horn. Merlyn had torn his breeches and stopped to mend them up by magic.
“Til est ho” or “Tally ho” is the traditional phrase to tell everyone that the quarry has been sighted. I am struggling to find the definitions of the other terms, but, essentially, I think our author is pointing out the confusion and the dangers of boar hunting.
You get a sense, again, of the character of the characters. Wart is using his woodcraft learned with Marian and Kay stays back.
It’s obvious that Robin and Master Twyti know what they are doing. It’s also painfully obvious that no one else seems to have enough experience and information to be of help. Actually, most of the people involved would probably lose a fight with the boar, so maybe it is better that they worry about their sharpened spears.
I’m sure, as always, that there is a life lesson here. I always note in workshops that it is better to call an expert than to try to go into your basement to capture that tribe of rattlesnakes that moved in down there. I let first responders respond and I don’t suggest things to airline pilots in flight.
Wart is with the big kids now.
Let’s hope he makes it.
DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications
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