Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 286

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 286

The proud city of Murray, Utah, is finally ripping up the old water lines and replacing my street and sidewalk. Now: this is great. It’s also very loud.
And, they keep turning off the water to my house.
The upside of being in “Stay in Place” is having all this wonderful time to enjoy my home, wife, kids and dog. Until they start dredging and pounding.
I think my issue with the street repair is a common one in life. We used to joke as football coaches that whenever we turned a corner, we would find another corner. Tony Crandall used to hush us up when someone stated: “It could be worse.” Tony always reminded us “Never open the door for Worse…Worse always shows up!”
It’s not terrible, honestly. I bring my tomato plants outside every morning (you can’t plant too early in Utah), walk the dog, work out with the crew and enjoy a lot of home cooking. I’m getting lots of walking in and just prepped the bikes for the year.
But I miss things. I can’t see my friends, Ron and Sara, because she is a cancer survivor and needs no exposure. I miss Bingo (Breaking Bingo at Mid City Pub is one of my favorite things in life) on Tuesday nights. I was quietly coming out of retirement as a thrower and I suddenly miss the craziness of competition.
It’s okay. In the scale of things, Bingo just isn’t that big of a deal. I do feel for the people planning marriages or those kids who should be celebrating their graduations. That’s a tough one. We had an interesting talk about “all of this” at dinner the other day and we discussed if things like Senior Prom (this might be a concept lost on some of you: a big dance held in the spring) and some of the other traditions may have seen their time pass.
I think back to last spring and the preparation for Lindsay’s wedding. I can only imagine the stress if we were dealing with this virus. I think I would have moved to the South Pole.
What keeps me sane, as it always has, is my exercise program. I’ve added ankle weights to my rucking and I end up walking like a baby deer for hours afterward. I’m doing more pressing again and more complexes. I love this stuff.
Each day, we get a day closer to the “other side.” I am worried that once we get around the corner, we will find another corner!
All I can do is plant the crops, keep the house in order and train to keep sane.
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
Episode 41 of the podcast is here! There were some fun questions this week, so we hope you enjoy. 
Dan sent me another workshop as well. This one is all about recovery and it’s been really popular on YouTube so far. We’ve enjoyed watching the response to these workshops, so we have a lot more coming soon. Dan is making them faster than I can edit and upload them.
Recovery Workshop
We’re still adding content to the website as well. I recently updated the Park Bench generator to always include loaded carries. You might have to create a new set of workouts to see it or just wait till the next cycle, but you’ll see them show up more often now. I also added Dan’s 30 for 30 for 30 protocol to the downloads section. We’re also working on translating the entire site into Chinese as well. We hope you enjoy all of the updates. We want to keep improving the site for you.
Have a great week!

I’ve been talking a lot lately. Here are some of the podcasts I have done this past week. Please enjoy them and give a shout out to our fine hosts.
Podcast with Robert Linkul
Podcast with Marin
Podcast KSL News
Podcast with Doctor Kwadwo
That’s a lot of listening. Now for some reading. I found this article to be very good.


Do What You ‘Hate’ The Least
My wife hates the gym. She hates squats, push ups, rows and any and all resistance exercises. When I started out as a trainer, she helped me refine my craft by training her.
Let’s just say that didn’t go well.  I got lots of stink faces and swear words. None to be repeated here because this is a family blog.
But get her out in the yard, gardening or doing other home improvement projects, she’s like a pig in mud. And she is squatting, pushing, pulling, hinging, and carrying heavy stuff. All the stuff you would do in the gym but in an environment she enjoys.
The gym is my bag and I’m the total opposite of her. I’d rather get all my teeth pulled out than to do yard work and home improvement projects. However, get me in the gym and I love doing work.
Half the battle with exercise is finding what you enjoy and then sticking to it. And once you do, do it for the rest of your life. Because a little over the long haul will keep you in good shape.

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This article frankly freaked me out. I “believed” all of this. There is no Jiffy???

2. Jiffy Peanut Butter
If you looked forward to your school lunch break because your parent or guardian packed a Jiffy peanut butter sandwich, your childhood may be a lie. While both Jif and Skippy brands have lined store shelves, there’s never been a “Jiffy” brand. “They may have had a false memory by incorporating elements in the reconstruction process of Jif and Skippy,” Brewer says. “Now that’s encoded in their memory, and the false memory is what they’re remembering. They don’t remember the experience of seeing it but the experience of falsely remembering.”

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When I was young, we were taught the stories of the Greek, Roman and Norse Gods and Goddesses. It was considered part of a classic, liberal education (the education of free people). I still love this kind of thing.


Despite the stereotype of Vikings as fearless warriors, the valkyrie also engages with the apprehensions some of these men might have had about going to war, perhaps for years, many leaving their wives and family behind. Hákonarmál opens with the striking image of the two valkyries riding off to the battle when it is about to begin, before moving quickly to a heroic portrait of the king and his army, spears brandished, the royal standard flying. However, after the battle, as the mortally wounded king lays bleeding, he has a conversation with Skogul, asking her why things transpired as they did. It is hard to tell whether the poet intends Hákon’s words to express disbelief, anger or disappointment, but his statement that ‘we were worthy of gain from the gods’, suggests that the king felt hard done by.
This ambivalence might explain why poets sometimes take the valkyrie in a softer direction, representing her as graceful and attractive. For instance, the poem Hrafnsmál (Words of the Raven) relates the magnificent military successes of another Norwegian king by way of a conversation between a raven and a ethereally beautiful valkyrie. She has white-blonde hair and fair skin. Other poets imagined the valkyrie as a doting lover, eager for the warrior’s romantic and sexual presence, even when he is a corpse. In poems about the legendary warrior Helgi ‘Hunding-slayer’, his bride, the valkyrie Sigrun, does not want him to die, so rather than fulfil her role and condemn him to death, she hovers in the sky during battles and protects him. Consequently, the valkyrie perceives Odin not as her leader (as is traditional) but rather as her rival for Helgi’s loyalty and attention. Although Helgi is captivated by the valkyrie, their subsequent marriage seems to cause Sigrun to lose her powers and thus her allure. When he finally does die in battle, she tries to compel her husband to remain in his burial mound in an undead state so that they can continue to be together. Ever the warrior, Helgi chooses Odin and Valhalla over an afterlife with Sigrun.

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I thought this was excellent. I taught Mayas, Incas and Aztecs as a teacher, but I never knew this.

The first level concerns character. Most basically, rootedness begins with one’s body – something often overlooked in the European tradition, preoccupied as it is with reason and the mind. The Aztecs grounded themselves in the body with a regimen of daily exercises, somewhat like yoga (we have recovered figurines of the various postures, some of which are surprisingly similar to yoga poses such as the lotus position).
Next, we are to be rooted in our psyches. The aim was to achieve a sort of balance between our ‘heart’, the seat of our desire, and our ‘face’, the seat of judgment. The virtuous qualities of character made this balancing possible.
At a third level, one found rootedness in the community, by playing a social role. These social expectations connect us to each other and enabled the community to function. When you think about it, most obligations are the result of these roles. Today, we try to be good mechanics, lawyers, entrepreneurs, political activists, fathers, mothers and so on. For the Aztecs, such roles were connected to a calendar of festivals, with shadings of denial and excess akin to Lent and Mardi Gras. These rites were a form of moral education, training or habituating people to the virtues needed to lead a rooted life.
Finally, one was to seek rootedness in teotl, the divine and single being of existence. The Aztecs believed that ‘god’ was simply nature, an entity of both genders whose presence was manifest in different forms. Rootedness in teotl was mostly achieved obliquely, via the three levels above. But a few select activities, such as the composition of philosophic poetry, offered a more direct connection.

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This article should be read in its entirety. I think this is important.
I think that is an important piece. Enjoy.
That’s enough for now. We had a technical difficulty with Pat Flynn this week, so we will make sure to have some more for you this next week.
Until then, 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 139


Archimedes sighed heavily, and remarked in prophetic tones, “You had better get it off your chest.”
“It is like this,” said Merlyn. “The kestrel drops upon a mouse, and the poor mouse, transfixed with those needle talons, cries out in agony his one squeal of K-e-e-e! Next time the kestrel sees a mouse, his own soul cries out Kee in imitation. Another kestrel, perhaps his mate, comes to that cry, and after a few million years all the kestrels are calling each other with their individual note of Kee-kee-kee.”
“You can’t make the whole story out of one bird,” said the Wart.
“I don’t want to. The hawks scream like their prey. The mallards croak like the frogs they eat, the shrikes also, like these creatures in distress. The blackbirds and thrushes click like the snail shells they hammer to pieces. The various finches make the noise of cracking seeds, and the woodpecker imitates the tapping on wood which he makes to get the insects that he eats.”
“But all birds don’t give a single note!”
“No, of course not. The call note arises out of imitation and then the various bird songs are developed by repeating the call note and descanting upon it.”
“I see,” said Archimedes coldly. “And what about me?”
“Well, you know quite well,” said Merlyn, “that the shrew-mouse you pounce upon squeals out Kweek! That is why the young of your species call Kee-wick.”
“And the old?” inquired Archimedes sarcastically.
“Hooroo, Hooroo,” cried Merlyn, refusing to be damped. “It is obvious, my dear fellow. After their first winter, that is the wind in the hollow trees where they prefer to sleep.”
“I see,” said Archimedes, more coolly than ever. “This time, we note, it is not a question of prey at all.”
“Oh, come along,” replied Merlyn. “There are other things besides the things you eat. Even a bird drinks sometimes, for instance, or bathes itself in water. It is the liquid notes of a river that we hear in a robin’s song.”
“It seems now,” said Archimedes, “that it is no longer a question of what we eat, but also what we drink or hear.”
“And why not?”
The owl said resignedly, “Oh, well.”
“I think it is an interesting idea,” said the Wart, to encourage his tutor. “But how does a language come out of these imitations?”
“They repeat them at first,” said Merlyn, “and then they vary them. You don’t seem to realize what a lot of meaning there resides in the tone and the speed of voice. Suppose I were to say ‘What a nice day,’ just like that. You would answer, ‘Yes, so it is.’ But if I were to say, ‘What a nice day,’ in caressing tones, you might think I was a nice person. But then again, if I were to say, ‘What a nice day,’ quite breathless, you might look about you to see what had put me in a fright. It is like this that the birds have developed their language.”
“Would you mind telling us,” said Archimedes, “since you know so much about it, how many various things we birds are able to express by altering the tempo and emphasis of the elaborations of our call-notes?”
“But a large number of things. You can cry Kee-wick in tender accents, if you are in love, or Kee-wick angrily in challenge or in hate: you can cry it on a rising scale as a call-note, if you do not know where your partner is, or to attract their attention away if strangers are straying near your nest: if you go near the old nest in the winter-time you may cry Kee-wick lovingly, a conditioned reflex from the pleasures which you once enjoyed within it, and if I come near to you in a startling way you may cry out Keewick-keewick-keewick, in loud alarm.”
“When we come to conditioned reflexes,” remarked Archimedes sourly, “I prefer to look for a mouse.”
“So you may. And when you find it I dare say you will make another sound characteristic of owls, though not often mentioned in books of ornithology. I refer to the sound ‘Tock’ or ‘Tck’ which human beings call a smacking of the lips.”
“And what sound is that supposed to imitate?”
“Obviously, the breaking of mousy bones.”
“You are a cunning master,” said Archimedes, “and as far as a poor owl is concerned you will just have to get away with it. All I can tell you from my personal experience is that it is not like that at all. A tit can tell you not only that it is in danger, but what kind of danger it is in. It can say, ‘Look out for the cat,’ or ‘Look out for the hawk’, or ‘Look out for the tawny owl,’ as plainly as A.B.C.”
“I don’t deny it,” said Merlyn. “I am only telling you the beginnings of the language. Suppose you try to tell me the song of any single bird which I can’t attribute originally to imitation?”
“The night-jar,” said the Wart.
“The buzzing of the wings of beetles,” replied his tutor at once.
“The nightingale,” cried Archimedes desperately.
“Ah,” said Merlyn, leaning back in his comfortable chair. “Now we are to imitate the soul-song of our beloved Proserpine, as she stirs to wake in all her liquid self.”
“Tereu,” said the Wart softly.
“Pieu,” added the owl quietly.
“Music!” concluded the necromancer in ecstasy, unable to make the smallest beginnings of an imitation.
“Hallo,” said Kay, opening the door of the afternoon school room. “I’m sorry I am late for the geography lesson. I was trying to get a few small birds with my cross-bow. Look, I have killed a thrush.”

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I didn’t know when to cut that dialogue. I almost left the Kay part out but it finishes the chapter.
I never liked that little moment. I get it: we are reminded of Kay’s basic cluelessness (and perhaps cruelty) but it just is so jarring to the mind’s eye.
Maybe that’s the point: academic discussions are just nice and fine and jolly, but the real world sits at the door. The real world is hungry…always hungry.
The discussion on language always intrigued me. This article came out a few years ago and I fell in love with it. These are the oldest words that we humans share.
Here is that list: “thou, I, not, that, we, to give, who, this, what, man/male, ye, old, mother, to hear, hand, fire, to pull, black, to flow, bark, ashes, to spit, worm”
Listed by the number of language families in which they have cognates.
7 – thou
6 – I
5 – not, that, we, to give, who
4 – this, what, man/male, ye, old, mother, to hear, hand, fire, to pull, black, to flow, bark, ashes, to spit, worm
“You, hear me! Give this fire to that old man. Pull the black worm off the bark and give it to the mother. And no spitting in the ashes!”
White’s conversation about the formation of birds’ languages interested me as a kid. When this list came out, it got me thinking about how early humans went through this process of labeling things, agreeing on terms (or signs) and slowly built up into stories. Humans learned to imagine a future, key to hunting and battle strategy, and began to tell stories. Story telling develops community and community values…and engages the imagination.
I never truly studied languages very well, but I have an odd love affair with it. I like the roots of words and the stories behind words.
Our chapter ends here. We will continue with the 1938 and 1939 version; those reading the 1958 story will have something from The Book of Merlyn.
I think it should have been kept there.

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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