Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Archive for June, 2014

Sunday musings 6/22/14

Sunday musings…

1) Bruce Lee. “Obey the principles without being bound by them.” Now there’s something to chew on for a bit.

2) Simplicity. Travel advice to young people on the road: If hungry, eat. If tired, sleep.

Reminds me of the 3 essential rules of a surgery residency: Eat when you can, drink when you can, and don’t [mess] with the pancreas.

3) Participate. My friend Scott has been bitten by the CrossFit as Sport bug. He’a a former wrestler and 400M runner, so the guy has a history of physical suffering going way back. He seems to enjoy this new competition, enough so that he headed to the far, far side of the other side of our city for a competition. His pre-comp jitters notwithstanding (I can’t figure out if this is a good part of the experience for him, or a bad part), he came away victorious.

The pre-game jitters are an indication that my friend was preparing to compete, not just to participate. Me? I’m done with true competition against others, at least athletically. I occasionally jump into events, but for me it’s for the purpose of participation. Kinda like the Open, I’m there for the camaraderie, to be part of an enjoyable conversation. CrossFit for me is a means to an end, a vehicle to drive me to a healthier, more fit version of mid-life bingo. When push comes to shove I am no longer willing, or maybe even able, to do what is necessary to really try to win at CrossFit, the sport.

Is Scott right, or am I? The answer, of course, is “yes”.

4) Essential. There were, once upon a time, epic conversations that took place here about all manner of topics. The most memorable ones were about CrossFit. Back in the day folks who were there at the beginning, some from the original CrossFit Santa Cruz including Coach himself, would weigh in on fundamentals, programming, progressions and the like. It could get pretty hairy at times; there were some awfully strong personalities hanging around. These conversations are now occurring elsewhere, which is a shame, but they still go on. I’d like to share my thoughts on one of them.

The issue of programming is always on the table. Is there an optimal version of CrossFit programming? People take turns at supporting and denigrating the programming here on the Main Page, and countless efforts are made to “improve” on the model you see here. Some of these alternatives make sense, while others IMO are not really alternative CrossFit programming but alternatives TO CrossFit. Most of these, indeed most of the conversations in general, have to do with strength and strength training. Are you (is anyone) strong enough? Will CrossFit.com or another version of CrossFit make you strong enough?

Here’s a little bit of homework for you: look up “The 10 Essential Elements of Fitness.” They can be found in CFJ #2, “What is Fitness”, and they are also posted on 030530 ( ironically on a day when heavy Deadlifts were prescribed). Pretty much all of the conversations noted above revolve around the premise that strength is somehow more important than other elements of fitness. Reasonable people can disagree on this point, but as a premise in discussing CrossFit the notion that strength is a, or the, primary element of fitness has no standing. There are 10 elements of Fitness, each no more and no less important than any other if we are seeking a broad, inclusive general physical preparedness that we call “fitness”. Full stop.

Whoa, wait a minute there bingo, aren’t you the guy who co-wrote an article called “Strong Medicine” introducing a programming alternative called “CrossFit Strength Bias”? Isn’t that statement there just a bit, oh, duplicitous? Forked-tongue typing?

Nope. Not at all. You see, if you read the article you will see that CFSB is one way to address a DEFICIT in strength relative to the other 9 Essential Elements, not a program meant to gain strength at the EXPENSE of the other 9. As such it, like some others, is a program for the common CrossFitter who perceives a hole in his/her fitness that needs to be addressed, not at all unlike a CrossFitter who does supplemental work in gymnastics or Oly lifting or mobility. Additional Element-specific work, be it strength or agility or whatnot, that drives continued balance and improvement in all 10 Elements is very much CrossFit.

CrossFit is outcome based. The outcome desired is a broad-based fitness comprised of equal quantities of each of 10 Essential Elements. What goes into the left side of the hypothetical Black Box should produce Work Capacity Across Broad Time and Modal Domains if the Black Box is a CrossFit athlete of any type. An increase in your Deadlift should be accompanied by a decrease in your 5K run and your “Fran” time.

Programming for CrossFit should aim for CrossFit outcomes. Full stop.

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at June 22, 2014 5:34 AM

Sunday musings 6/15/14

Sunday musings…

1) World Cup. One of the few events in the sporting world that can make a golf tournament seem like an “edge of the seat” event by comparison.

2) Bikini. It’s that time of year. Ads, articles, blog posts, all with the hook “How to get a bikini body.” I think I’ve got this one.

In order to get a Bikini body, put on a Bikini. You now have a Bikini body. .


3) Triple Crown. Well, another year has come and gone and the winner of the first two jewels of the Triple Crown has once again failed to seal the deal. 30 or 40 some years since the last winner Affirmed. A certain segment of the racing crowd is now calling for changes in the format because it apparently is too hard, unfairly hard to win all three.

Sigh. So typical, eh?

If you are of a certain vintage and pay any attention to horse racing you doubtless remember that there was a similar hue and cry in the decades before Secretariat. Funny thing, though, after Secretariat came in rapid succession Seattle Slew and Affirmed, followed swiftly by cries that the Triple Crown was TOO EASY! No longer a significant achievement. Change was necessary to make it harder to achieve.

Equally typical.

At the end of the day there are certain benchmarks that exist for whatever reason, achievements which have some sort of historical relevance regardless of their age or the frequency with which they occur. The Triple Crown of horse racing. A Triple Crown in MLB. The sub-4:00 mile. Some of them have never been achieved. The Grand Slam in professional golf or tennis for example. The difficulty and rarity of the achievements are precisely what makes them special.

Those who seek to make it easier to reach these milestones are actually saying more about themselves than they are about the relative difficulty of making these particular grades. It’s all about them, what they think, how they feel. California Chrome was magnificent in the face of an injury that went unseen, his valor proven despite the fact that the racing world was denied a Triple Crown yet again. So close, in something so hard. Who would seek to cheapen such an effort?

Each time Mount Everest is re-measured it is found to have grown higher.

4) Father’s Day. What? You thought I’d let one of these slip by without a bit of musing? Don’t be silly.

I literally just put my Dad in a car and kissed him goodbye as Mrs. bingo drives him and my Mom (escorted by my brother and his wife) to the airport. In an upset family victory for the ages my Dad made the trip to Cleveburg for a visit that no one thought would occur. Hospitalized for the better part of 2013, a trip to the kitchen is a veritable cross-country foray for my Dad, and somehow everyone was able to pull it off. We were all able to spend a weekend in what is rather than dwell on what was and what’s coming.

I got to spend the weekend primarily as a son.

The other half of Father’s Day (and of course, Mother’s Day) is that the ticket to the game is a child. I’ve oft written that Father’s Day for me has always been a day when I’ve gifted myself with the privilege of being as much of a Dad as my kids could stand on that particular day. Father’s Day for me was never a day of repose, at least not when it came to anything “The Heir”, “Lovely Daughter”, and “Lil’bingo” might care to do with me.

This year my gift was to be able to revel in the act of being my Father’s son. I was able to share the simple joys of a nap in the sun, the discovery of a bush that had just flowered, and the fascination of what the wind can do to the surface of a large, shallow lake. We watched golf and hockey and soccer together, a running commentary coming from Dad like a Sports Center loop every 30 minutes, each one as identical as the TV talking heads on tape. While these are already just the faintest of shadows flickering on the farthest edges of my Dad’s mind, my brother and I will be forever blessed with memories of this weekend.

This Father’s Day weekend when we could still be our Father’s sons.

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at June 15, 2014 7:15 AM

Sunday musings 6/8/14

Sunday musings…

1) World Cup. Two pitchers each take no-hitters, shut-outs into the 9th inning.

If no one scores they set up a home run derby.

2) Uniboob. Term heard for the first time in the gym yesterday. Apparently the unfortunate result of either bad design or a bad fit.

Fear the uniboob.

3) Vacuum. Some 40+ years ago a little girl came home from elementary school and asked her Mom why all of their family friends of color were bad people. Turns out the little girls teacher had made disparaging remarks about a picture of a mixed-race couple. Outraged, the Mom promptly started the process of withdrawing her 3 girls from the public schools and placing them…


There really was no “where” around about 1971 or so. No place to send kids if the schools did not line up with a family’s values, or if a kid for whatever reason just didn’t, or couldn’t, fit in. Homeschooling was virtually non-existent, Montessori was in its infancy, and not unlike today most private schools were just beyond the financial capabilities of most families, even if there was a perfect philosophical fit. Outside of the public school system there was essentially a vacuum.

Most folks would have just gritted their teeth, put their collective heads down, and just made the best of the situation, especially given the dearth of options. Uh uh. Not my Mother-in-Law. Nope. With the full support of my Father-in-Law, Sandy took her 3 young daughters (Mrs. bingo is the oldest) and joined maybe 2 dozen families in starting their own school. One that would match their collective values while at the same time providing an environment of collective caring and kindness.

Upattinas was created to fill the vacuum.

It was a pretty free-wheeling place, Upattinas. The “Open Classroom” to the max. Free to choose from the ever-expanding menu of educational theories the founding families chose pretty much everything. Kids who would succeed anywhere were mixed with kids who had no shot to succeed in a traditional school, and the space between those extremes was filled with all the rest of the kids whose parents sought for them an eduction that was directed by the needs of the individual child under the guidance of the founding families. Pretty cool, very unique place.

This weekend Upattinas will celebrate its last commencement. After 40+ years of providing an alternative to those families who had none, Upattinas will close its doors, to live only in the hearts and minds of the families who passed through those doors over the years. How come? Well, the simplest answer is that there is no longer a vacuum, that there are now countless options for parents and children who would be better served by schooling outside the public school system. Homeschooling, internet-based learning, and public/home hybrids are now ubiquitous. Brick and mortar alternative schools like Upattinas could have a place if they became more like, well, something they’re not. More and more effort is now required simply to keep the doors open, effort that once was expended almost entirely on teaching the children. Upattinas could survive in today’s world of bountiful educational choice if it, and its families, chose to compete for a place in what is now an educational market.

That’s not the Upattinas way.

40+ years ago my Mother-in-Law Sandy saw a vacuum in the world of education and she filled it with an alternative. Upattinas became one of the first of the genre known as such, Alternative Schools, dedicated to teaching those who needed something different. Upattinas opened not only the hearts and minds of its children but also the doors to a vastly bigger educational landscape. Sandy’s school has demonstrated that you need not teach every child the same way, need not discard nor disregard any child who did not fit in a traditional slot.

So mourn not the passing of Upattinas. The world is filled with the children, and children of children who were blessed by that group of parents who saw a vacuum and refused to let it remain so. Teachers and doctors and artists and athletes and electricians and carpenters and…well, you get the picture. Each of them, all of them, better versions of themselves than perhaps otherwise, for a stroll through the front door at Upattinas.

The lesson for the rest of us, of course, is to have the vision to see the vacuums in our lives, and the courage to fill them with something better. Having done so, we should be at peace.

Congratulations to my Mother-in Law on filling the vacuum. You won, Sandy! Be at peace.

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at June 8, 2014 7:26 AM

CrossFit is Even MORE Dangerous Than You Thought!

Three CrossFit injuries in less than 3:00 last night at the Box. Incredible, huh? It’s truly unbelievable when you really dig down into the details: CrossFit is even more dangerous than anyone thought, even that trainer girl who took one whole CrossFit class. Wait until you hear the details.

I was just kinda hanging around after the WOD getting ready to coach the next class when Walt cried out and crumbled to the ground. “My leg! I got this pain and now I can’t stand up!” This was pretty ominous. A clear sign that CrossFit is too dangerous to even think about. Walt had just completed the WOD and now he had so much pain in his leg that he couldn’t stand up. Whoa, if that can happen from a WOD called “Death by Pull-ups” where the only exercise you do is pull-ups, if you can have leg pain in a CrossFit Box from pull-ups, I mean, that’s pretty dangerous. Not only that, but when the pain went away in 10 or 12 seconds Walt joined in the running sessions. CrossFit makes you crazy, too!

Once I calmed down–it seemed like a fluke, leg pain after doing pull-ups–the next group started coming in the door and meandering over to the white board to check out the WOD. “Death by Pull-ups”, the minute repeater. Do one PU in the first minute, 2 in the second, and so on until you can’t finish the required number in the minute. All of a sudden, another scream. “AHHHHHHH…I ripped!” One of the members got a rip on her hand just from reading the WOD on the white board. Now THAT’S dangerous. She didn’t even have to do the WOD, didn’t do a single pull-up, and she got a rip on her palm. Right about that time I’m starting to think maybe all those CrossFit haters who say CrossFit is dangerous are on to something.

A couple of minutes later and a small group of us was chatting about CrossFit. CrossFitters tend to do that. All of a sudden–BAM!!–I can’t talk. Oh man, the pain. That’s right. You got it. I threw my jaw out just talking about CrossFit. How crazy is that?! Not only did I not do a WOD, I wasn’t even looking at the white board in preparation for the WOD. Just talking about CrossFit and I got hurt! That’s just out-of-this-world incredible. I mean, can you even imagine?

So there you have it. Here, right here on the internet, is proof that CrossFit is even more dangerous than any of those other “CrossFit is Dangerous” posts says it is. In just 3:00 time we proved that CrossFit can hurt parts of your body you didn’t even use in the WOD. You can be injured and out of commission just thinking about the WOD. And to top it all off, you can’t even be safe talking about CrossFit. It’s true. It’s gotta be, right? Here it is posted on the internet, just like all the other posts. If you are getting your information from totally legit sources like this one, well, maybe you SHOULDN’T do CrossFit. When I told Walt I was writing this and his response was “no way I’m reading that.” Turns out the last time he read a post about CrossFit he sprained his left medial rectus muscle!

Honest! I’m an eye doctor, and you just read this on the internet.

Sunday musings 6/1/14

Sunday musings…

1) Triple Crown. Admit it, you really want to see one won next week.

2) Black Hole. Games.CrossFit.com. Seriously. Where did yesterday go?

3) False dichotomy. Kinda like a forced-choice testing paradigm where you’re always wrong.

4) Rich. “The rich are different from the rest of us.” F. Scott Fitzgerald. Perhaps. But what I find fascinating, time and again, is how much the rich and the not-so-rich have in common.

Just take away some something that is truly meaningful that can’t be bought. We’re all the same, then.

5) Impending. I am 54 years old, Mrs. bingo soon to be 53. We are as in the middle as we could possibly be, the filling in the so-called “sandwich generation”. It’s the opposite of what my sage friend Hari once told me about turning 50, that the first 50 years of my life were about preparing and the next 50 were about me. And Mrs. bingo. Yet here we sit, squarely in the middle of lives in “launch” mode, and lives at the limit. So which is it? All about us, or squeezed in the sandwich from both ends of the life line?

Now THAT’S a dichotomy, false or otherwise.

You know, the bingo progeny are going to do just fine. My left-brain knows that; the right-brain angst is probably just separation anxiety. “The Heir”, “Lovely Daughter”, and “Lil’bingo” are all launched, and what their trajectories may be is largely (and appropriately) mostly out of our control, angst be damned. We may have lost the pleasure of their physical company at the dinner table, but we’ve hardly lost them otherwise. The cyber-kitchen table easily extends to each of their abodes.

The real loss to come, the loss of our own parents, is really what makes the “sandwich” so difficult. This stage has always been a participatory sport, and the final score is always the same. It may not even be any different from generations past other than the fact that we have a catchy name for our part now, “sandwich generation”. Most of us do not have our parents in our homes, so the decline we observe is all the more jarring because we see it in “jumps” rather than as a slow slide. As Baby Boomers we probably spend much more time thinking about how this all impacts US than prior generations–we could be called the “Navel-Gazing Generation, after all. In a funny way this actually gives our own parents one more opportunity to parent us by disabusing us of that rather selfish notion.

Memory is the issue for both parent and child. Happy memories bring joy and sadness, pulled to the front of our consciousness as both balm for the pain of loss and fuel for the work it takes to get through a day. Memory fades from the middle out, again for both parent and child. The toil of mid-life and the tyranny of teenagers fades as all that remains is the memory of the simplicity of early childhood joy, and the simple joy of remembering lunch.

We are in the middle of the Long Goodbye. We know not exactly when it began, and we know not how long is will last. We cling to our memories of life before as we fight not to remember life now. Mother’s Day is just past. Another Father’s Day is nigh. We steel ourselves for the time when they will be just another day, one on which we have nothing to visit but memories.

It seems that we are preparing, still, now and always.

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at June 1, 2014 6:53 AM

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