Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 302

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 302

The air quality in Utah is just horrid. And the reason breaks my heart: just to the west of us California is burning.
My brother worked tirelessly for the city of Paradise encouraging his neighbors to take fire safety seriously. He was “Ready Raccoon” and you can see his rap here: Wildfire Ready Raccoon.
Sadly, not enough people, businesses and government agencies listened.
I was watching Danny and Jo (my grandchildren) play soccer with this air quality and it was obvious to everyone that breathing this air is not optimal for anyone. The kids played without any of the joy or enthusiasm that, well, “Play” should basically represent.
Mike Warren Brown and I are struggling to figure out how to train in this air. We have overcome a lot of issues, from diseases to injuries, and I am sure we will figure out something again.
But it disturbs me. I hope my Wandering Weights readers are safe and secure. We have many firefighters and first responders who subscribe and I hope the best for all of them too.
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
Here’s a link to Episode 57 of the podcast.
We’ve also been playing with a few different kinds of videos this week. Dan has started doing book reviews for us, filming some sessions in his gym, and keeping up his history lessons.
Wrestling Physical Conditioning Encyclopedia Review

A Day in Dan’s Gym

Post 30/30 for 30 Q&A

Ralph Maughan Stories
Let us know what you think of the new content. We’ll keep trying to make interesting and useful videos for you, but feedback always helps us create things that are actually wanted.
Have a great week!
I had two very good podcasts with some good friends this week. Pat and I hosted a listener this week and I really enjoyed this idea. I am sure we will continue to do this.
I’m not sure how often I have trained with James, but he is a frequent guest and visitor to my home. I have found his body of work to be amazing and I always say “yes” to his insights on training.
Bouncing around the internet this week, I found, once again, that there hasn’t been a lot on strength and conditioning lately. I am not sure if this is a summer lull or just the hangover everyone seems to have due to the virus. Having said that, I like this (in a way) as I have to pull out my Internet Archeologist hat and dig a bit deeper.
My post on Calvin and Hobbes was very popular last week. This interview with the creator “touched my heart.” I was told by Thom Plummer that my whole career is based on me not “selling out” so maybe this just really opened my eyes. I think this is really worthy of your time.
Selling out is usually more a matter of buying in. Sell out, and you’re really buying into someone else’s system of values, rules and rewards.
    The so-called “opportunity” I faced would have meant giving up my individual voice for that of a money-grubbing corporation. It would have meant my purpose in writing was to sell things, not say things. My pride in craft would be sacrificed to the efficiency of mass production and the work of assistants. Authorship would become committee decision. Creativity would become work for pay. Art would turn into commerce. In short, money was supposed to supply all the meaning I’d need.
End quote
I really like these kinds of articles on early human history. We are in amazing times in the study of history and its related fields. Lay back and enjoy.

That doesn’t mean the beds were always neat and clean, though. Wadley and her colleagues also found stone flakes and other debris from toolmaking, which means people probably also used the comfy piles of grass as a soft place to sit while working on a new stone tool. For the record, flint-knapping in bed is probably an even worse idea than eating crackers in bed, but it’s a delightfully human thing to find traces of. Grains of red and orange ocher also mingled with the bedding layers, and Wadley and her colleagues say the grains had probably rubbed off from someone’s body art.

This aspect of Paleolithic life, at least, sounds pleasantly cozy. Imagine that you’ve just burned your old, stale bedding and laid down a fresh layer of grass sheaves. They’re still springy and soft, and the ash beneath is still warm. You curl up and breathe in the tingly scent of camphor, reassured that the mosquitoes will let you sleep in peace. Nearby, a hearth fire crackles and pops, and you stretch your feet toward it to warm your toes. You nudge aside a sharp flake of flint from the blade you were making earlier in the day, then drift off to sleep.
The next day, of course, you’ll forget to extract those flint flakes from your bedding, and archaeologists will find them 200,000 years later, along with the charred bits on the end of the grass where you left it too close to the fire. Good luck living that one down.
End quote
Invest in yourself. I have heard this throughout my life. I think this advice (as well as marrying well) has been a fundamental truth in my life. Enjoy.


Your development starts with what you know about yourself. Do you know “YOU”? What are you capable of? What are you curious about? What have you always wanted to do in your spare time that could help you pursue the life you want.

At one of his Berkshire Hathaway annual meetings, Warren Buffett said:

    “The most important investment you can make is in yourself. Very few people get anything like their potential horsepower translated into the actual horsepower of their output in life. Potential exceeds realization for many people…The best asset is your own self. You can become to an enormous degree the person you want to be.”

If you have a good idea of who you are and what you want to do with your life, you are half way to a successful life. Invest in yourself, it’s the best investment you can ever make. Create a bigger version of yourself. Don’t settle on a self-imposed plateau; always aim a bit higher than before.
End quote
I have seen this skit many times. I think it is simply hilarious and I miss this kind of television. I have always love “skits” on TV and I think this particular one is the gold standard.


In the sketch he plays James, a butler, employed by Miss Sophie, played by Warden, an upper class woman who is celebrating her 90th birthday with a fine banquet. Sadly, Miss Sophie has long outlived her four closest friends—Sir Toby, Admiral von Schneider, Mr. Pommeroy and Mr. Winterbottom—but places are set at her dinner table regardless, with James valiantly stepping in to impersonate each one.

As each of the four courses are served—with Miss Sophie explaining each time that the pair will follow the “same procedure as every year” —James tops up the four missing guests’ glasses, toasts Miss Sophie’s health, and downs them all. And needless to say, by the end of the meal (and after four glasses of sherry, four glasses of white wine, four glasses of champagne, and four glasses of port) James is slightly the worse for wear. At the end of the sketch, as they’re going up to Miss Sophie’s bedroom, James asks, “Same procedure as last year?” and Miss Sophie replies, “Same procedure as every year.” James responds, “Well, I’ll do my very best,”—a very risqué move at the time.
End quote
This is an older article from Rusty Moore, but I have found the same truth: these Fast Mimicking Diets, Velocity Diet, and Potato Hacks are all “bland.” “Boring” is closer to the truth. I found this whole piece to be important.
Micheal Cabanac, a researcher at Laval University in Canada, set up a study which supports lowering body weight set point with bland food.

This is all detailed in The Hungry Brain.

    Group 1 – ate an unrestricted BLAND liquid diet for three weeks, which caused them to lose just under 7 pounds on average.

    Group 2 – used PORTION CONTROL on a diet made up of “normal foods” and was set up to lose the same amount of weight (7 pounds)  over the same period of time.

Results: The portion control group “had to continually fight off hunger and would spend the night dreaming of food”. The bland diet group never felt hungry and “were always in good spirits”.
End quote
This article really resonated with me this week. Not going to Europe every month, not seeing my older friends and family, not…not…not…
It’s starting to add up! I found this article helpful.
It’s not surprising that, as a lifelong overachiever, I’ve felt particularly despondent and adrift as the months have dragged on, says Pauline Boss, PhD, a family therapist and professor emeritus of social sciences at the University of Minnesota who specializes in “ambiguous loss.”
“It’s harder for high achievers,” she says. “The more accustomed you are to solving problems, to getting things done, to having a routine, the harder it will be on you because none of that is possible right now. You get feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and those aren’t good.”
That’s similar to how Michael Maddaus, MD, a professor of thoracic surgery at the University of Minnesota, felt when he became addicted to prescription narcotics after undergoing several surgeries. Now recovered and a motivational speaker who promotes the idea of a “resilience bank account,” Maddaus had always been a fast-moving high achiever — until he couldn’t be.
“I realized that my personal operating system, though it had led to tremendous success, had failed me on a more personal level,” he says. “I had to figure out a different way of contending with life.”
That mindset is an especially American one, Boss says.
“Our culture is very solution-oriented, which is a good way of thinking for many things,” she says. “It’s partly responsible for getting a man on the moon and a rover on Mars and all the things we’ve done in this country that are wonderful. But it’s a very destructive way of thinking when you’re faced with a problem that has no solution, at least for a while.”
That means reckoning with what’s called ambiguous loss: any loss that’s unclear and lacks a resolution. It can be physical, such as a missing person or the loss of a limb or organ, or psychological, such as a family member with dementia or a serious addiction.
“In this case, it is a loss of a way of life, of the ability to meet up with your friends and extended family,” Boss says. “It is perhaps a loss of trust in our government. It’s the loss of our freedom to move about in our daily life as we used to.” It’s also the loss of high-quality education, or the overall educational experience we’re used to, given school closures, modified openings and virtual schooling. It’s the loss of rituals, such weddings, graduations, and funerals, and even lesser “rituals,” such as going to gym. One of the toughest losses for me to adapt to is no longer doing my research and writing in coffee shops as I’ve done for most of my life, dating back to junior high.
“These were all things we were attached to and fond of, and they’re gone right now, so the loss is ambiguous. It’s not a death, but it’s a major, major loss,” says Boss. “What we used to have has been taken away from us.”
End quote
Well, that is going to wrap up this week’s offerings. I will strive to dig even deeper next week if I have to. And, 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 156

The Wart found himself closer to the third drop. Its haze of incandescent worms crawled in and out of it, formed into funnels and whirlpools, crept over its round surface, sometimes leaped out into space, curled over, and rained back. They were flames. The light died down from far beyond whit to blue, to red, to a dim brown. It became a ball of steam. Out of this steam a smaller ball shot out. The first ball shrank and was a globe of boiling water.
The water began to cool but the fires still burned inside it. They convulsed the surface of the water, threw up great continents and islands of the interior rock. The centuries were passing so quickly that even these continents seemed to bubble like porridge, as the volcanoes and mountains and earthquakes came and went. The unbridled furnace within was still unstable, and, till quite late in the dream, the globe did not always spin on the same axis, but lurched over sideways as some stress gave way inside. The lurches destroyed continents and made more.
The Wart found himself closer still. He was actually on the globe and facing an enormous cliff. At two million years a second, the cliff’s mountain moved. It was alive as the trees had been, and roared most dreadfully. It fell, it folded on itself, it shoved itself along the surface of the globe, pushing a bow wave of its own folds for miles. Its great rock split and powdered, pouring stone torrents into the heaving sea. The sea itself grew tired of the mountain, made it to sink down and to be covered. Another convulsion threw up the remains again, streaming.
Round the foot of the chastened mountain there lay its powder and its pebbles, great rocks worn smooth by the sea. The rocks themselves broke and were scattered, the sea always rolling and rolling them together between its hands until the tiny fragments were often as round as their mother had been, the globe.
A green scum formed over the sinking mountain, a haze of color which was still sometimes dipped under the water or lifted high above it, as the earth undulated. The trees came but their voices were quite drowned by the slower howling of the mineral world, which twitched through the millennia like a dog’s skin in sleep.
“Hold fast,” was what the rocks thundered. “Hold, cohere.”

End quote
“Hold fast.” That’s the motto of the MacLeod family and we see it tattooed on a sailor in “Master and Commander.”
I’ve been looking forward to getting here. In the next part of this dream, White will make his point about the dream of the stones. It’s a powerful point, but I want to just stop for a moment.
For years, my family finished summer with the Loch Aidle Games. It was a family Highland Games and I miss it dearly. Jeff MacLeod hosted the event and he proudly held fast to his family’s motto. My kids grew up at the games and learned the fun of this family tradition. We all kilted up, marched in a parade, threw the implements and ate our shared meals. We drank a “wee bit,” too…as appropriate to tradition.
Hold fast.
The stones are doing their best in this dream not to move along with the forces of nature. I see both sides of this in my life: I vigorously hold tight to my past and the ways things used to be back in the good old days (that honestly weren’t that good) and look forward with hope to all that is fresh and new. As I retype White’s work with a laptop that is more powerful than probably all the world’s computers just a few decades ago, I sit astride both of these feelings and beliefs.
I love thinking about the Loch Aidle Games and the tradition of “Hold Fast” of the host family. It’s also over and the athletes, fans and friends have scattered. Some have died.
At my daughter’s wedding rehearsal, she asked for a Highland Games. We brought out everything, including our family caber.
I mean, honestly, doesn’t everyone have a family caber?
Afterward, as we had a massive pig roast with nearly a hundred guests, many asked me to make this an annual event. And…I would have. Sadly, the COVID 19 virus interrupted the following summer and, I fear, the enthusiasm for continuing it.
I tried to hold fast. But the earth kept moving.

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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