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Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Archive for September, 2011

Want, Need, and ROI

Beth and I watched a rather disturbing movie the other night, “Winter Bone”. Very impressive acting by the lead. Hard to watch, what with all of the privation displayed, hardships open to view without airbrush. The movie instantly became a part of my ongoing education in the vastness between ‘want’ and ‘need’. Compare the stated goal of the 17yo heroine–I can’t keep this family together if I lose this house–with the bleatings of some Gen Y’er in the WSJ: “we face a bleaker investment future than our parents did”.

Seriously, he used the word ‘bleak’ to describe his investment future. We have ‘evolved’ as a people in North America where someone, presumably with a straight face and in all seriousness, uses the word ‘bleak’ in the context of his potential lifetime ROI. That type of navel gazing is part and parcel of a society displaced from the concept of “need”.

Food, shelter, and clothing. We’ve mostly licked those issues in North America. That’s why a movie like “Winter Bone” with its unsparing depiction of a life in America still focused on food and shelter is so disturbing. A former partner’s son took his life recently on the day that his house was re-possessed. And yet, his family had already been re-sheltered, the ‘need’ covered. I’ll not cast aspersions on this young man and his tragedy; I do not for a moment pretend to understand it, and please trust me that Clan White has had much too much close experience with this sort of thing to be dismissive or disrespectful. I only bring it up in order to marvel at those who persevere, when all seems lost and hopeless, in the pursuit of real needs.

Look around you today. What do you need? I’ll go out on a limb and say the truth is ‘nothing’. Here in our family we have 20% or so of the income of 5 years ago, 5% of the net worth, and yet we live in abundance in the White house. Heck, we have a washer, a dryer, and a dishwasher! Beth and I always said that we would be grown-ups, we will have made it when we have a washer and dryer of our own. Yet even those are simply ‘wants’ that are closer to our needs, but are still ‘wants’, nonetheless.

Look around yourself today. See that all of your needs, your true needs, are more than covered. Want what you need. Need what you have. You have it all.

Everything else is just ROI.


Economic Stimulus. A True “Shovel-Ready” Proposal *

It’s the jobs, Stupid. That’s what should be on the office wall of every legislator at every level of government across America. Say what you will about Bill Clinton, but did anyone ever get it more than that first Clinton presidential campaign? A simple sign in their campaign war room reminded everyone of the central message: “It’s the economy, Stupid!”

It’s more than that, of course. Now, you could say, “It’s the jobs, Stupid!” What can you do to stimulate the creation of jobs now? Sure, you can take a page out of Rahm “Never Waste a Crisis” Emmanuel’s book and combat our crushing unemployment by pumping money into grand public works. Who doesn’t agree that our bridges, roads, sewers and subways are in dire need of repair? But everyone was enticed by President Obama’s promise of “shovel ready” public projects into which stimulus funds could be pumped, followed instantaneously by the hiring of willing hands to man those shovels. Stimulus I didn’t really turn out that way, so why would we embark on Stimulus II? Or III? Return on this investment was pretty much zero.

Nothing will get our economy moving faster and restore our national spirit than employing more people, and at a higher wage. Let’s take a quick look at the kind of job sector that would be most desirable.

Any industry into which we might pump money should have the ability to ramp up employment at the first dollar of public investment, or the first loosening of a needless regulation. OR BOTH.

Any sector targeted should be able to create and fill jobs across a broad range of salary, experience, and skill levels, and it should be relatively gender-neutral. It should reward achievement and educational advancement. Any jobs created should be domestic, although any hard products created must be attractive for export. It should be an American business sector that is expanding now, and poised for additional growth.

Pretty ambitious list of criteria, huh? Where will we ever find an industry or economic sector that could fulfill all of these criteria without some new genius discovery or mega-bureaucratic mischief?

Easy. Healthcare.

Think about it. Right now our country is fixated on cutting the money flowing into healthcare businesses such as hospitals, nursing homes, and doctors’ practices. Government regulations make it more and more difficult to make a profit while providing healthcare. Perhaps more frightening is the fact that similar regulatory agencies make it nearly impossible to bring new medical products to the market or build the sales of existing products.

Despite that, healthcare and related industries (pharmaceutical manufacturing, medical device manufacturing, health insurance administration and sales) continue to grow in all ways that we can measure, except the most important one: jobs.

I know your reaction. “We’re gonna go broke paying for healthcare as it is; how could we possibly pump MORE money into that?”

Hear me out before you dismiss my theory out of hand.

Every new regulation, every new requirement, every cut in payment for an office visit or a medicine or a hospital stay results in a net LOSS of jobs. And worse, pretty much no one in the entire healthcare and medical sector is hiring now, partly because of declining pay for services and products, and partly by the gloom caused by an assumption that the future holds nothing but more of the same.

We should try to identify regulations to remove. Start with removing the prohibition on drug companies marketing so-called “off-label” use of prescription drugs when it is clear they are beneficial. More sales of existing drugs means more jobs. More sales of existing drugs — along with fewer barriers to approving new drugs — means even more jobs.

People in healthcare and related businesses make a good wage, and there are jobs available across a broad wage scale. These folks buy houses, employ skilled trades, go out to eat and the like. As they advance, they earn higher salaries, and then they do the American thing: they spend it!

Pump more money into healthcare rather than less. Stop all of this talk of cutting payments to hospitals and doctors and instead index fee increases to inflation. Stop reducing Medicaid rolls and give doctors and hospitals an incentive to care for these people by increasing Medicaid payment to the levels of Medicare. That would create more jobs.

Education matters in all things medical, whether you are a doctor or someone working in a pharmaceutical factory. Generally, the more education you have, the better you fare economically. There is no systemic gender or race discrimination in healthcare. With doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, academicians, the only requirement is to be good at what you do. Same thing in related industries like medical device manufacturing; ambitious people of all types, men and women, young and old, can advance in their careers. Advancement means more job openings.

And guess what? More jobs means generating more income that can be taxed! More jobs create more spending and more sales that can be taxed! You could even encourage more of this by decreasing income taxes on those people most likely to spend that money, which would then create…wait for it…more jobs!

Oops. Sorry. Politicians are involved. Decrease taxes? That’s just crazy talk.

The next thing you know someone will propose some really crazy thing, like increasing the money we spend on healthcare.


*Credit for the idea to William J. Petraiuolo, M.D.


The Extra Mile

“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” Roger Staubach.

That’s some good stuff. The extra mile. 110%. Outwork your opponent, your challenge. Given equal talent and opportunity, victory goes to the one who outworks the competition. The extra mile.

Every step of the extra mile is “the road less taken.”

Clan bingo is in the process of starting another business. Lil’bingo and The Heir are opening a CrossFit Affiliate, Comet CrossFit. Very exciting, but hard work. Coach told Lil’bingo “it’s fun, and it’s easy,” but I think the boys are discovering that it’s only easy BECAUSE it’s fun. Trust me…if it’s worth it, it’s ALWAYS hard, and it’s not always fun.

But that’s part of the point, isn’t it? Think about the worthwhile things in your life. Your most important relationship. Raising a family. Your life’s work. Fitness. They may all be really good and really happy things, but part of the reason they might be like that is the hard work you’ve put into them. Right?

Every step of the “extra mile” is worth it.

Random Thoughtlet: Seven Pounds

Seven Pounds. Beth and I watched it the other night. Very moving. It hurt, physically hurt, to watch the end, even though I’d guessed at it very early in the film. It got me to thinking about an essential truth in life.

What is that one essential part of your life? That one thing around which everything else revolves? That singular passion. Is there more than one? Really? More than one passion–you couldn’t decide which one to give up? Think again.

I believe that the majority of us has a central relationship that is that “one thing” around which everything else revolves. To be sure there are some among us who have another passion that trumps every human relationship, and losing that would be just as devastating as losing that one person. For the rest of us, though, it’s about another person.

Think about it. What centers your life? If, like me, it’s a singular person or relationship, I think it makes sense to let that other person know that. Tell them…just that. For if they are all of a sudden gone you would probably find a way to go on, unlike in the movie, but I believe the going on would be much harder if the person you lost didn’t know what they meant to you.

Heck, I tell every meaningful person that. But I tell that ONE person every day.


Sunday musings 9/18/11 Seeking Answers…

1) Fear. “I used to fear the workouts…” Playoff Beard. Perspicacious previous post from PB.

This is important in light of CrossFit’s epic success w/ the Games, culminating in 12, I think, 30:00 segments showing on ESPN2. Many will come to CF based on viewing The Games on The Deuce, but many more will react with nothing but fear.

Opportunity knocks. Read through PB’s post to the part about “I realized that I’m competing only with myself” to find the answer to all of those folks who will respond “I could never do that” and remind them that these were a few hundred among hundreds of thousands doing CrossFit.

Universally scaleable. You vs. You. Brought to you courtesy of Playoff Beard.

2) Hard answers. A little help? Sometimes the answer is “no”. Can you help a little bit, here? Every now and again the most honest answer is “no, I can’t”.

These should be rare occurrences, to be sure, but they should be acceptable answers if honestly offered. Indeed, accepting “no” as an answer when we ask for help is sometimes an even greater demonstration of our regard, respect and affection for someone than the consideration given to us if they’d said “yes.”

Sometimes the only honest answer is “no.”

3) 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. But I wondered, what of my life that occasionally seems so hard, is actually hard enough that I must bend 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. He stands in a doorway. “What we have here is a failure to communicate”. A last act of defiance, or a capitulation? One is left to wonder: did He answer?

4) Charity. I would be remiss is I did not mention the incredible generosity of the CrossFit community in general, and in particular yesterday’s epic Fight Gone Bad series of benefits that have thus far raised >$2MM. We are a generous lot, no matter what detractors may say. It stems from a deeply ingrained generosity on the part of the founders of CrossFit, and this permeates our extended family.

How do you choose your charitable contributions? You know…to whom you will say “yes” and give a donation? We give this conscious thought chez bingo, but it’s not necessary to do so, not necessary to have a charitable plan in order to be charitable (if that makes some sense).

No plan chez you? I like this if that’s the case: the Kismet or Karma of the “run-in” (phrase courtesy of Brad Pitt). When asked how he chose the various and sundry causes that he and his family support Pitt disavowed any plan whatsoever, instead admitting that he supported the needy who he “ran into”. Kismet, some karmic thread, brings one into contact with some someone or some something where you have the opportunity and the ability to effect something positive by answering “yes’.

No charitable plan? No worries. You’ll “run-into” something sooner or later.

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at September 18, 2011 11:50 AM


The Answer Is…

Alex, the question is: What is the one thing that ASCRS, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, can do for its members that it isn’t already doing?

ASCRS, AAO (American Academy of Ophthalmology), AMA (American Medical Association), and the various and sundry other organizations of letters are all of the same ilk. Each one was founded with the idea that physicians as a general group, and more tightly defined specialist groups, needed some sort of representation. Some sort of trade group that would present our needs and desires to other groups like the government, insurance companies, and the public. You know, someone to take OUR side in a discussion, to support US in a debate.

So, how’s that working out for you, Doctor? How well are your trade organizations doing, you know, carrying the flag, supporting you and your issues, the things that matter to you? Like protecting your relationship with your patients? Protecting you from frivolous lawsuits and the incessant threats that make you add “cover my ass” to every treatment plan? How are they doing taking up the cause of preventing yet another government program from gumming up your day with more useless, purposeless paperwork? How’s all of that going?

Yeah…thought so.

Once upon a time organizations like the AMA stood for something. The AMA in particular was the ethics referee for all physicians, as powerful as a FIFA ref in the World Cup, and frankly just as impervious to outside influences and criticism. To be censured by the AMA was a serious thing, the only thing worse being the loss of your license to practice medicine. Now? Do you remember reading the histories of the eunuchs who waited on the Chinese emperors of antiquity, emasculated and with a veneer of power that they brandished with a flourish. They lived for the intrigue; they thrived on the daily ebb and flow of palace life, content to be AROUND the tables of power, though they were not really AT the table. It’s like that now.

When did it happen? When did this group of “all-powerful” become a collection of empty sacks? It probably started whenever the AMA lost its great battle over its prohibition of advertising, a case of free speech and restraint of trade in which the AMA was thrashed. It’s never been the same since then, just one small defeat after another. Indeed, the very nature of the game was changed at some point, whether it was the advertising defeat or some other tipping point.

I’ve looked very hard, called into play my most powerful google-fu, looking for the answer. Who led us to this point? Could it really have been a Dr. Chamberlin? No…to0 easy…can’t be. It would be just too perfect if the 3+ decades of universal appeasement as the modus operandi for all of the medical alphabet organizations could have been started by someone so named. Nevertheless, appeasement is precisely what organized medicine has all been about for decades.

Surely, if we agree to accept Medicare payment as our payment in full, they will trust us to do what is right for our patients. If we just agree to label our charts with these treatment and billing codes they will assume that we are doing what we say we are doing. Hey, they’re going to pay you a BONUS for faxing your prescriptions with a computer system. Well, you know, a computerized medical record is theoretically best for our tapped out payment system, and if we do everything just like they say there’s a possibility that they might pay a little bit so you’ll lose less money on it. Well, you know, there are some docs who have cheated the system, so we’ll have to accept the “guilty until we can’t find any way to not find you innocent” policy of regulatory enforcement.

Drip…drip…drip…the slow torture of seeing the next drop come…drip…each tiny capitulation labelled as “cooperation for the common good”…drip…the willful, purposeful blindness of the appeasers…drip…well, certainly THIS time they will reward us for being good team players…drip…no lesson ever learned…DRIP.

Well, Dr. Chamberlin, here’s what I’ve learned. It doesn’t work, this appeasement thing. It never does. It’s never enough, all that you’ve given up, all the times you’ve decided that we would “take one for the team.” Appeasement never works because those you wish to appease do not respect you, and because of that they do not respect US, the physicians. Indeed, they view us with barely concealed scorn. It doesn’t matter whether they are Republicans or Democrats, government or private, Aetna or the Blues, they know that you don’t have what it takes to ever take a stand. You don’t know what it is to use leverage, wouldn’t recognize it in your pocket, and would turn away from it if you did.

What to do…what to do? Believe it or not there are still some physicians out there who have neither emptied their (figurative) sacks, nor become so jaded and angry that they can no longer muster the empathy necessary to be a doctor. What should we do? Should we retreat to some nirvana, some mythical place like the mountain hideaway built by John Galt to house those who would traffic in excellence in a world where success is born of merit? Ah, would that we could. The closest that any might come to this is to retire, withdraw their services from the system and become conductors. Or provide their services to all comers for free; that would shake things up. Not many of us can afford to do that, and if we could not many of us are willing to walk away from that which has defined our very beings for so long.

So, what? Well, for me, I have gazed too long on a system built on the cynical abuse heaped on the followers of the appeasers to avoid becoming just a little bit cynical myself. It’s a game, you know? Games have rules and regulations, little battles that can be won even though the war might already be lost. Perhaps an extra patient at the end of the day. A perfect chart with every preferred practice pattern item covered. Who knows? The rules ebb and flow as the alphabet organizations push a little, pull a little. There’s always a game, a little battle, rules to play by, rules to follow, a way to win within the rules today. A cynical approach to a cynical battle, with hopes for no collateral damage. 10 years of that kind of today, and then…

Alex, the answer, apparently, is nothing, because that would be better than what they are doing now.

A 9/11 Epiphany

It’s been 10 years since the 9/11 attacks on America. One wonders what lessons have been learned in those intervening years, lessons that may be either personal or societal, or indeed lessons that might be so universal that they are both. This kind of stuff doesn’t happen all the time, a life-changing event that informs and transforms entire generations, a game-changer that sets the table, lays down the rules for all of the “play” to come. Looking back over the years it’s clear that I had an epiphany during those days right after 9/11, a personal insight that was so significant that it changed the very vocabulary I have used to discus my life since. How about you? Did anything like this happen to you?

I should set the table here I suppose. Where were you on that day? Where were you…what were you doing when the planes hit? When the buildings came down? It was a Tuesday. I was in the operating room when one of my assistants told us about the hits, and I was in the lobby watching as the first building came down. Everything shut down here in Cleveland; it was rumored that another plane had diverted and was on its way through our airspace. We shut down the offices, retrieved the kids from school, and set about hunting down friends and family all over the world. There was a little panic as we waited to hear from my brother (stranded in Chicago, eventually to rent a car to drive to Connecticut) and my closest friend Rob (safely at lunch on business in Rio di Janeiro), and then…nothing.

Remember? Remember how weird it was for a few days? Businesses closed, schools closed. All air traffic came to a full and complete stop. It was sunny in Cleveland, an odd stretch of bluebird days with nary a cloud in the sky. This, of course, only made it all the more eerie and obvious that the sky was empty, not a single airplane, not a single entrail to mark someone’s path from some here to some there. My kids begged me not to go on a business trip long planned for that Friday, their impassioned pleas rendered moot by the shut down of North American aviation. We all stayed home. Remember?

The world cautiously and gingerly re-opened for business that next week which allowed four of the White men to keep their golf date at  Kiawah Island. Not that the world had returned to business as usual, though. Not by a long shot. I flew out on September 20th I think it was, Cleveland to Charleston. Just me and a skeleton crew of workers at CLE for the departure and the closest thing to a private jet trip I’d ever taken. They weren’t closing the cockpit doors yet; I spent the whole flight chatting with the flight attendant and the pilots. They were very friendly, seeing as I was the only other living creature on board at the time.

The Kiawah resort had a 99% cancellation rate that weekend. That’s not a typo. NINETY-NINE PERCENT. We had the place to ourselves. I’ve never had better service. Walk in for breakfast and sit…anywhere. Stroll up to the pro shop at courses that typically have months-long waiting lists for tee times, and then proceed directly to the first tee. Lunch and a re-load? No problem fellas. What time would you like to play this afternoon? Unprecedented, and unlikely to be repeated short of the Apocalypse.

It was while playing the Ocean Course at Kiawah, the course made famous by the epic comeback by the American Ryder Cup team to re-claim the Cup after several pastings at the hands of the Europeans, that I had my epiphany. I hated it. I played poorly, but not as poorly as I scored. The course was so penal that shots little more than 2 or 3 yards off target begat unplayable or nearly unplayable lies. It’s not just that it was hard, either. Heck, the River Course at Blackwolf Run absolutely slaughtered me, but I enjoyed everything else about that venue. I hated the everything about the Ocean Course itself. If you are a golfer you understand what it means to say that a course “sets up well to the eye of the golfer”. Not there. Not for me. I never liked what I saw in front of me; the course never set up for my shot in a way that pleased my eye, let alone my game.  In the afternoon I played Panther quite well, and enjoyed everything about the walk, too.

We discussed our plans for golf for the rest of the weekend at dinner, a discussion that was made possible by the absence of any competition for tee times. My brother, brother-in-law, and Dad all wanted to play the Ocean Course again. Nope. No way. Why, I asked them, would I willingly return to some place or some thing that I knew I disliked? I then expressed my epiphany, my gut reaction to 9/11 and all that had come with it, identified and crystallized by a round of golf on the Ocean Course: the things that make me UNHAPPY make me feel worse than the things that make me HAPPY make me feel good. The bad feelings from the bad stuff are worse than the good feelings from the good stuff are… well… good. Furthermore, once identified, the bad things could very likely be avoided with greater accuracy and success than the good things could successfully be made to happen.

WHAT?! The table fairly exploded. Stuff like “glass half empty” and “not playing to win” flew around, a veritable carpet bombing of my revelation. I made a couple of half-hearted efforts to explain, to expand on my epiphany, to defend my position, all to no avail (which if you know any of the extended White family is not the least bit surprising). Nonetheless I stood my ground on the essential tactical decision that came from the strategy of avoiding things identified as “unhappy”–I continued to vote “NO” on another round at the Ocean Course.

Was I right? Am I right? Well, my partners definitely didn’t think so, and might still not agree if they were asked today. But here’s the rub: the epiphany was so clear, so obvious, so definitive and logical and right for me that it didn’t and doesn’t matter all that much what others think or if others agree. Given the game-changer that was 9/11 I was obviously open to this kind of revelation, though I was not in any way seeking this, or any OTHER sort of revelation. It arrived unbidden, and once there was like finding that thing you forgot you were looking for.

My epiphany? The things that make me happy can always be sought, can always be chased when they are visible, can always be welcomed if they arrive. Who wouldn’t fill their glass with that kind of stuff whenever they had the chance? The easy thing, I think, is to avoid the stuff that, once identified, you now know will make you unhappy. No matter how full your glass may be, THAT stuff always drains the glass.

Some times playing to win means playing defense.


Sunday Musings 9/11/11 (10 years on)…

1) GPS. Where were YOU? 9/11/01 is the equivalent of “Where were you when JFK was shot”, or “Where were you when Pearl Harbor was bombed?” We chatted about this at dinner chez bingo the other night. I was in the OR with a full schedule when the first plane hit. I came out in time to watch the second one hit, and then was between cases when the second building went down.

Never forget.

2) Plain talk. 9/11 is almost routinely called a tragedy, especially now, 10 years on. This is pretty much the only way I’ve seen it described in all types of media, mainstream and otherwise. Well, it is, and it isn’t.

The killings of nearly 4000 people on U.S. soil was tragic for each one of them, and truly tragic for their friends and families. But a tragedy? I say no. A tragedy implies some element of fate, something about which no single person could have stood up and prevented. Think the Tsunami in Japan. Mudslides in South America. An avalanche or wildfire out of control. THOSE  are tragedies resulting in death.

No, 9/11 was filled with a tragic loss of life, but the only fate involved was so banal that if beggars the definition of fate: did you go to work that Tuesday morning? The deaths of 9/11 are the direct result of pure, unadulterated EVIL. They represent nearly 4000 killings. Purposeful killings. Mass murder perpetrated on civilians so far removed from any war zone that to even call them “non-combatants” is a meaningless over-reach. Calling 9/11 a “tragedy” cheapens the word, cheapens the loss, puts the soft glow of unavoidable fate on what was nothing of the sort.

9/11 was EVIL. Call it what is was.

3) Press “up”. Funny, after 10 years you’d think we’d have heard all of the “hero” stories by now, huh? Apparently not. Seems there were some folks who did some pretty heroic things who just never got around to telling anyone. Like those 2 Air National Guard pilots who scrambled after the plane that eventually went down in PA with UNARMED JETS. Yup. No missiles or bullets on board. They took off with complete knowledge that they would not only have to face the specter of shooting down fellow citizens, but “shooting down” actually meant using their aircraft as missiles.

It’s crazy, even after 10 years, to think of how many heroes stood before life’s elevator or stairwell and pushed “up”. Safety was “down”, out, anywhere but “up”, and yet up they went. Cops, firefighters, and two unarmed fighter pilots who just happened to be a little higher when they chose to go “up”. These men and women, on the ground floor at several Ground Zeros, have been followed honorably by thousands of other American heroes toiling anonymously, and SUCCESSFULLY, to prevent other evil doers from killing other Americans.

I’m still awestruck, 10 years on.

4) Epilogue. So, what did you take away from 9/11? Did anything change? Anything stay with you? Couple things for me. The first thing, regrettably and to my great embarrassment, is that it took a tragic event like 9/11 for me to really look at a huge swath of Americans I’d never really paid much attention to before. This would be Police Officers, Firefighters, and any variety of men and women in the Armed Forces. This was still 4+ years before I discovered CrossFit mind you, but our collective respect for, and willingness to acknowledge, these men and women is a small positive outcome that I believe persists 10 years on.

I had an epiphany of sorts 10 days after 9/11. The particular trigger (I really disliked a certain golf course) was trivial, but I was primed by 9/11 to be open to the “Aha!” moment. I discovered that the things that make me unhappy make me more unhappy than the things that make me happy, make me happy. Seems kinda simple I guess, but it was like a bolt from the blue. I realized that, once identified as such, things that made me unhappy could be avoided downstream. You don’t always get to choose only the stuff that makes you happy (Polyanna doesn’t live here anymore), and you don’t even necessarily get to always choose to avoid stuff that makes you unhappy, but it’s amazing how often you CAN if you try just a little. A life changer that I was able to notice because, well, I was thinking a whole lot about life after watching so many lose theirs.

I’m not saying that anyone else should have had this particular epiphany on or about 9/11, or ANY epiphany for that matter, but I do wonder, is there something that changed, something you’ve carried with you since that day. Since 9/11/01? 10 years on?

I’ll see you next week…

Funny Crossfit Moment

My Dad sent out an email blast to the whole family. Seems he was cleaning around his part of the kitchen counter (that’s right…there’s a “his side” and a “her side” in my parents’ kitchen) and he found an old wedding band. He knows it’s old because it’s been worn smooth. There’s some disagreement about whether or not you can read the inscription, which is kind of a bummer since that might identify the owner of the wedding ring. Hence the email.

“Anyone lose a wedding band? Any idea whose this might be?” Never mind all of the questions that my siblings and I have, like, “why are you cleaning the counter?” or “who would take their wedding band off and put it on THAT counter?”.

My brother, ever-helpful responded. “Rumor has it that Darrell lost his.” My bride rode to my rescue: “Darrell did NOT lose his wedding band; it’s just too small for him now. I’m wearing it stacked with my wedding ring and my Anniversary ring.”

To which Randall replied: “My bad.. I heard he was getting a new one.. I didn’t realize all the cross fit built up his finger muscles!!”

Sunday musings, 9/4/11. Crossfit and Golf

Sunday musings (thinking about golf)…

1) L1. “The Heir” is at Rogue, day 2 of his L1 cert. Good luck, Dan!

2) Caring. The golf ball does not care who you are. It moves in response to your effort, due equally to accuracy and power. In that way a golf ball is exactly like a bumper plate. The weight cares not for your identity. It reacts in an equally dispassionate manner to the accuracy and power that you apply.

We “attach” ourselves to a golf ball via the club, to a bumper plate via a bar. We apply force to each in a core to extremity vector, the relative success of our movement determined by our technique and our applied strength. Others have said that hitting a baseball is harder, and I could be convinced, but other than that it appears to me that some of our lifts (snatch, anyone?) are as technical and demanding as any full-swing golf shot.

3) Ground rules. In golf, as in Crossfit, there is training and there is competition. In each these activities often overlap; you play like you practice, and all. We might allow some technique breaks, a occasional shorting of ROM in a training session, in order to achieve our training goal of the moment. Likewise, during a practice round we might drop a second ball and hit a shot over, improve a lie such that we are training only the swing and the distance.

“Play it as it lies”, however, is how you play competitive golf. Arrive to find your ball behind a tree or in a divot? Tant pis. Play it as it lies. Trained for six months for chin-over-the-bar pull-ups and arrive at the Games to find chest-to-bar? Same thing. “Call your own penalties” is the standard in golf; in a CrossFit competition we accede to the judge’s call. Same thing, really.

When it’s time to compete we “play it as it lies.”

4) Focus. “Play what’s in front of you. Your score is just a succession of numbers. Don’t add them up until the end. Don’t dwell on the past.” ‘Hap’ Duvall, father of David. (What? You thought there wouldn’t be a teachable moment?)

The most classic of CrossFit competitions, like the unveiling of the Crossfit.com WOD, are examples of encountering the unknown and the unknowable. Being prepared to address the challenge ahead based on the work you’ve done prior on the driving range or the putting green or, indeed, in the gym. You my…nay, you SHOULD…draw on what you have learned before, but that’s all. It makes no sense to play and replay the last shot or the last hole. You prepare to play what’s in front of you.

Add ’em up at the end. Thinking about your score through 9 is likely to interfere with your preparation to hit your tee shot on 10. If you are gauging your effort in your WOD based on your time to that point, chances are you haven’t worked hard enough up til then, eh? Focus on the next rep.

Crossfit golf. The bar doesn’t care who you are. Do the movement as prescribed. Concentrate on the next rep, and add them up at the end. While you’re at it, that’s not a bad start to life OUTSIDE the gym, too.

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at September 4, 2011 11:38 AM


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