Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Archive for January, 2013

Sunday musings 1/27/13

Sunday musings…

1) End of Watch. Whoa.

2) Barriers? “Brick walls are put in front of us to help us learn how much we want something.” Randy Pausch.

3) Serendipity. Meet new people without having an agenda. You don’t need to “accomplish” something with each new person you meet. It’s not a waste of time if every now and again you just, you know, meet.

Be open to wonder. Be open to being surprised.

4) Pride. “Pride goeth before the fall.” Hubris. “Check your ego at the door.” Yup. Sure. All true.

But so is pride as in “proud.” It’s OK to be proud of the accomplishments one makes. In the Box or your garage as you complete some horribly difficult WOD, or indeed elsewhere in your life.

And it’s much more than OK to be proud of other’s accomplishments. Out loud.

5) Small world. CrossFit continues to shrink the world, at least for CrossFitters. The big things, the grand themes are really obvious. Today we hear more about the CrossFit Kenya initiative. Admit it, you had some inkling of the Third World poverty and privations in Kenya, and you probably had a sense that both were worse for kids. The distance between you and a village in Kenya just shrunk, didn’t it?

It’s OK if you don’t have room in any of your “spaces” for the Kenya initiative, Hope for Kenya, but if you had a little spare room in your life to help out in some way, that village in Kenya seems more like it’s, I dunno, a couple states over rather than 4 flights and a Land Rover away. That’s the big way CrossFit is making it a small world.

CrossFit shrinks your own everyday world, too. How many times have you worn a CrossFit shirt or hoodie and met a fellow CrossFitter? Or had someone who was curious just strike up a conversation? There is an enormous distance between people as they traverse their day-to-day, a distance measured by the silence we maintain, the way we avoid interaction.

A tee shirt with “CrossFit” on it sure shrinks that, too, doesn’t it…

6) Ownership. Who owns your past? Well, obviously you own your past, whether you own up to it or not. But who owns the documentation of your past? The proof, the provenance?

“It’s a funny thing, people trying to sell you back bits of your own past.” This is how a musician described the experience of being offered for sale tapes from performances long ago. They had little value to anyone other than the musician. There’s a certain lack of grace, a type of ethical poverty in such a seller. but I digress…

The physical proof of our past used to be just that: physical. Tapes, photos, negatives. A panting. Notes or a diary. You could touch it, touch your past. You could also end it, at least the provenance. A tiny fire, a trip to the landfill, and ‘poof’, it’s gone. No issue about ownership when there’s nothing there to own, except of course ownership of the ephemeral, the memories.

It’s a rather quaint story in this day of immortal electronic memory, isn’t it? A box of reel-to-reel memories for sale, a physical totem to tag you in a life past.

Posted by bingo at January 27, 2013 6:33 AM

 

Choices: Eating Healthy OR…

“Eating healthy is too expensive.” How often have you heard some version of that phrase. Whether it be Zone, Paleo, Whole 30, or just “stay out of the middle of the grocery store”, this is uttered with some degree of exasperation and oppression with a kind of mind-numbing, self-fulfilling frequency. There is an overarching sense of deprivation here, a feeling that it’s just impossible to find the money to eat lean protein or fresh fruits and vegetables.

How so? Per the folks at Whole Foods, regularly skewered for being too expensive (seriously, they sell fancy potatoes), on average we in America spend 7% of our disposable personal income–that’s SEVEN–on food. 50 years ago that number was 16%. We now spend less than 1/2 of our after-tax income on food compared with what we spent 50 years ago.

And eating well is too expensive.

If we dig deeper into that stat alone we see that modern food production has decreased the cost of food relative to both income and inflation. The cost of producing food of all kinds has risen much more slowly than income. Why? Partly because junk carb-laden food is cheap. High-fructose corn syrup costs a fraction of grain sugar. Corn-fed protein with or without pharmaceuticals is grown faster and cheaper than grass-fed. Stuff like that. Less expensive to produce/incomes risen over 50 years at a greater rate across the entire spectrum, top to bottom.

How then is it too expensive to eat a more healthy diet. We have 9% of our after-tax income to play with, right? Even I can do that math. Is some other necessity (shelter, transportation, medical care, etc) eating that up? What are we doing with that 9% that we can’t find some of it to eat better? Ah, Grasshopper, now we begin to see. It’s a ‘Nando thing, it’s superficial. It’s not how healthy you are, it’s how you look, or feel, or something like that.

Some stuff might be more expensive; it probably really is more expensive to put a roof over your head in Manhattan nowadays, both the Island and the Beach. The seemingly obvious culprits are actually false targets (eg. healthcare which for this audience represents only a tiny % of new cost compared with 50 years ago because of insurance, govt. programs, etc.). Nope, it’s how we CHOOSE to spend that freed-up 9% .

Think about that household in the 1960′s or even the 70′s. Average of 6 people under that roof. One car. One TV. One radio. Once purchased all data was free. A pair of shoes and a pair of boots. Sneaks if you were a jock. You didn’t get your hair done if you were a guy, you got a haircut. You didn’t get your acrylics touched up every 2 weeks; if you wanted long nails you grew ‘em. Stuff like that.

Fast forward to today and think about the stuff you’ve acquired, stuff you are convinced you can’t live without, stuff that costs money, cash that you choose to spend every single day. The ratio of drivers to cars in a household is seldom less than 1.5/1. The ratio of phones to people over the age of 10 is seldom less than 1/1, often more than 1/1 if you add in a landline upstairs, downstairs, and in every bathroom. ┬áIt’s not enough to have a cellphone, or even a cellphone with an unlimited text plan, nope, it’s gotta be a SMARTphone that will let you post your thoughts on today’s weather in Bimini to FB. Right now, from anywhere. If you don’t have Netflix available on each of the 4 flat-screen TV’s in the house you are considered a Luddite.

Listen, I certainly am not saying that all that stuff isn’t great, that it’s not a ton of fun and really convenient (as I type on one of the Apple products that literally litter our household, through my WiFi network, in front of my LightBright lamp, in the bathroom), or anything like that. What I most certainly AM saying, though, is that people who whine about how hard it is to afford to eat better almost always do so via a FB post from their iPhone 5 while sitting in the salon having their hair done, hungover from too much Bellevedere they consumed last night while noshing on Doritos smothered in Cheez-Wiz.

9 %. The stark reality is that we have let our things become more important than ourselves. We are choosing Apples alright, just not the ones we find in the outer aisle of Whole Foods.

 

Sunday musings 1/13/13

Sunday musings…

1) Enough (Thanks B@rry). “Enough is a good as a feast.” Mary Poppins.

2) Automobile. Utensil. Trying to make myself believe this.

3) Squirrel. Some awfully chubby ones running around our place. They haven’t noticed that dog pack bingo is still fast and lean.

This is gonna be interesting.

4) Black Box. A type of research, among other things. Sometimes the process inside the Black Box is so complex that it is more confusing and more difficult if you open the Box in an attempt to do “better” research. There may be too many moving parts, or the interaction between parts might be too complex, or it might just take too much time, time that is better spend in the investigation.

By varying the left side input and then evaluating the right side output one can make conclusions about the effect of the input as long as we assume that the process inside the Black Box is net the same. 3 on/1 off vs. 5 on/2 off, for example. Unmeasured Paleo vs. measured Paleo.

The Black Box, in this case, is you.

5) Superficial. The papers today are filled with missives about the paper-thin veneer of substance in modern lives. The “end of courtship” in the NYT, the “meetings without end” in the WSJ. There’s a certain ROI that seems to be expected from every waking moment, an almost panicked need to fill each moment so chockablock full of something, lots and lots of somethings, that it seems impossible to know any one part of a moment to its fullest.

“On a grand scale we’ve traded perspective for immediacy, depth for speed, emotion for sensation.” –Steve Almond

Lotta meat on that bone. I’m as guilty as many. Often’s the time I’ve been “talking” with someone while reading, writing, texting, watching…you know the drill. As often I’ve been unwilling, nearly unable to tolerate, let alone enjoy, so much as a moment of solitude or repose. It’s odd, because I know that some of my best moments have come in the company of only a yellow pad and an pen, without agenda, without a map, without a clock. Some of my happiest moments have been spent one-on-one with a loved one doing pretty much nothing.

Feel it fast, right now! Sure, there’s a place for that, and it really is cool that we can do just that so much better now than 2, 5, or 10 years ago. I like me some Facebook as much as the next guy, maybe more than most old next guys, and that’s more than OK. As long as I take the time, every now and again, to look at some single thing, look at it from all sides, get down to its roots, and leave myself open to whatever emotions might respond.

As long as every now and again I put aside the ROI of volume in the moment and rejoice in the quality of the moment.

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at January 13, 2013 7:05 AM

 

Cool Hand Luke and Resolve

I landed on “Cool Hand Luke” while surfing yesterday. Man, was Paul Newman something, or what? For all of his faults, and despite being guilty of whatever landed him in that prison camp, Luke was resolved to fight the injustice of his existence. He was resolved not to lose the essence of who he was, despite the hardships imposed on him by those who would break him, break his will, make him relinquish that which made him, well, cool.

Movies are usually an escape for me. I’m not often prompted to terribly deep thought while watching one. But I wondered, what of my life that occasionally seems so hard is actually hard enough that it bends me from a true course? And if it is, indeed, that hard, how long could I hold out against the constancy of the difficulty, like Luke, before I broke?

Luke, knowing that he may finally be broken, seeks answers in the church he forswore. Looking to the ceiling he challenges God, questioning, demanding. He opens the door, stands there, framed. “What we have here is a failure to communicate”. A last act of defiance, or a capitulation? One is left to wonder: what was His answer?

 

Sunday musings 12/30/12

Sunday musings…

1) Living vs. existing. Your choice.

2) Newbies. They’re coming. The Newbies. All of the New Year’s resolutionaries will arrive in a couple of days. Be prepared.

Be kind.

3) Emergency. “The first thing you should do in an emergency is take your own pulse.”

4) Daisy chain. I am flying from one winter wonderland to another so the first thing I did this morning (before shoveling Grambingo’s driveway) was check the status of my flight. There, in little tiny print, was a place to click to check on the actual plane I would be taking, to see how my little aluminum birdie was faring on its way to pick me up in Providence.

Whoa.

I don’t really fly all that much, just a bit for my consulting/speaking gig. The thought of checking not only my flight status but also my “equipment status” just never dawned on me, a truly silly thought if you are a true road warrior. In order to take me from Providence to Cleveland this particular plane started last night in Indianapolis, went to Louisville, then Chicago, to Cleveland (go figure), and will alight at PVD ~30 minutes before I depart. All of this happens today.

It’s a wonder any of us gets any place on time. Ever.

5) GPS. Lunch was on my grad school roommate yesterday. A couple of 52 year old guys, both washed up jocks in mid-career, fathers and husbands, still the sons of two parents. I’m in RI to help my folks with some medical issues so the first topic we almost-old guys covered was aging parents and their various and sundry ailments. Not a lot of good news for either of us to share, unfortunately. Next up was kids–good news all around.

My friend then offered a question that he answered first: are you where you thought you’d be now, at 52? A question about expectations, dreams or goals fulfilled or still floating just out of reach. We’d both had much early success in our lives, and if we are honest with ourselves (and others) we pretty much assumed that the pattern would persist, that we would just continue on a never-ending upward slope of successes built one upon the other.

Right. About that.

B. had been outmaneuvered by corporate and took a big financial blow in 2011. He’s more than a little bitter about it. The new reality is forcing him to examine pretty much every aspect of his life and prioritize them. While he is making the absolute, spot on correct choices as he does this, he is increasingly unhappy (bordering on angry)–he didn’t think he’d find himself here, at this time, at 52.

How about me? Hah…no way am I where I thought I’d be at 52! Here’s the rub, though: for everything I DON’T have, every box on the ledger unchecked, there are at least TWO things I DO have, one of which I had no idea would be so important, would make me so happy. Indeed, while what you could call my traditional or standard expectations have not been met by a long shot (I’ll be a working stiff until I’m 70, for example), those things that have exceeded my expectations have been such a pleasant surprise that I kinda feel like I’m, you know, winning. As surprising as this has been to me, everyone who’s known me as a young man finds this just short of not believable.

So, how about you? Where are you right now? Are the GPS coordinates of life lined up with the destination you thought you programmed? The important thing, obviously, is not so much where you are, or even where you think you should be, but what you see from your location. Expectations are funny things. When they feel more like goals they motivate us to move; when they fell more like burdens they drag like the proverbial anchor. Whether met or unmet expectations are part of the human existence.

How you feel about them when you arrive might determine whether you are living or existing.

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at December 30, 2012 7:04 AM

 

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