Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘stub hub’

Triggered by Slimy Language (From Sunday musings…)

There are words in any language that have been co-opted in a great conspiracy. Actually, they’ve been co-opted into every conspiracy, wether great or small. I’m talking, of course, about all of the hedge words like “may” or “might” or “could”, words that can be inserted into basically any statement and simultaneously present a point of view while distancing the writer or speaker from any responsibility for either that POV or the consequences of writing/stating it. You know what I mean. Simply take a look at any of the Sunday papers and read a headline or two. “The election may increase blankety-blank in thus and such.” “So-and-so said blabbity blah which could result in a decrease in the weinerschitzel index.” “We think CrossFit might cause a significant change in the daily usage of pitbull greenhouse gas effluent.” Stuff like that simply litters our information pipeline.

A defining characteristic of statements like these is that the exact opposite may also occur. Indeed, it is entirely possible that the obverse is actually more likely to occur. Accuracy of this sort is precisely not what the speaker or writer is interested in, though. No, what people who write or speak like this are interested in is the projection and proliferation of a worldview that may or may not stand up to either data or reality. Even more so, they are doing this without regard to the consequences for those who may share the sentence with the slippery and slimy hedge words. The reality is that they typically mean some sort of harm to that person, institution or idea.

They just lack the courage to not only place their flag in the sand, but to also stand next to it, defend it, and face the consequences.

Come on. Anything COULD happen. There is certainly enough uncertainty in the world that any statement with “might, could, or may” in it would turn out to be accurate. The reality is that we also live in a probabilistic world in which data can be used to give a bit more guidance. In so doing we can put the fire to the feet of those who are so careless with their regard for the effect of these words on other,s and too cowardly to willingly step on the fire.

How many times have we read or heard someone look at a CrossFit WOD like Deadlift 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 and say: “CrossFit may be dangerous; it might cause injury in individuals who are lifting heavy weight.” A fact-based examination of this WOD would certainly acknowledge that injury is a possibility, but the more likely outcome is that “athletes who perform a full-body functional movement like the deadlift using proper technique with relatively high intensity will gain strength.” Will. Flag firmly planted.

There most definitely IS a lesson here: statements with “may”, “could”, “might” and similar hedge words are a warning that you are reading or listening to someone who is either unsure of what they are stating, or that they are very sure that they can neither prove their thesis nor defend themselves if it is shown to be false. An agenda too often lurks behind these words, and it behooves us to look for that agenda whenever we are triggered by these words.

Sadly, there is no safe space in our connected world for us to escape this kind of slime.

Sunday musings (The Purge)…

Sunday musings…

1) Anniversary. It literally just occurred to me that Clan bingo moved to Cleveland 25 years ago this month.

2) Birthday. The Man Cub turned 1 yesterday. Massive party complete with the latest trend, the “smash cake.”

Still pulling icing out of his nose, and his ears, and…

3) Pro health. Outside mag has an interesting article on the pursuit of ultimate physical performance. Aside from the obligatory dig at CrossFit (“injury factory”), the author’s visit to the Exos group at the StubHub Center (of all places) was illuminating. My reading of the article is that upwards of 90% of what is happening at places like this is precisely what has been going on in the CF competition world for some 3+ years now. Dynamic W/U, an emphasis on mobility, programmed recovery, tightly managed nutrition. There is much more use of supplements as a primary element than traditional CF; I’m not sure if that is necessary for the masses, those of us who don’t compete. The author saw a real, measureable improvement in not only fitness but also applied fitness.

The mic drop, however obvious, came at the end of the article when the author described his slow, inevitable slide back to average. Why? Easy. While he was “in residence” at Ethos the entirety of each day was filled with nothing other than being a better athlete. Back home it was easy to revert to old habits. A missed workout here; too rushed to work on flexibility there. And beer. Beer is a problem.

Being at your peak physical capacity is a full time endeavor for the pro athlete. That, as much as anything, is what separates you and me from them.

4) Purge. In a couple of days we will be one step closer to completing “The Purge”. No, no…not THAT purge. I’m talking about completing the purge of all of the stuff that filled up our larger home with all of its modern storage spaces. Our new home, a tiny 1947 two-bedroom cottage, is 50% to the inch the size of our old home, but it has only 1/3 as much storage. Our purge has partially furnished at least 3 other homes, and the upcoming delivery to “Lovely Daughter” adds another home to the list.

Clothes, art, tchokes…you name it. We’ve been liberated from our stuff.

Have you ever seen George Carlin’s classic riff on “Stuff”? Truly funny stuff (Huh? Huh?), and easily available on YouTube. An entire cottage industry has grown up around the purging of stuff. That’s kinda funny, actually. The concept that you need someone to come in and tell you how to get rid of your stuff. In addition to a few minutes of belly laughs, Carlin gives you the place to look for low-hanging fruit: other people’s stuff! Set a timer, and if them others don’t pick up their stuff, off it goes.

The harder part, if it’s really all that hard at all, is when you are down to the stuff you think you might need someday. You know, like that really interesting, sure to be useful gadget you just had to buy at Sur La Table 10 years ago that’s still in its original packaging. Or those holiday dishes you’ve forgotten to use every Christmas since you got married 25 years ago. Stuff like that. When you literally don’t have a place to put ‘em, this category becomes not at all different from other people’s stuff: if you never used it, it was never really yours, right?

Before I get too self-congratulatory and get injured by patting myself on the back, I should point out that we DO have an attic, and also a tiny little vestigial cellar. Both are filled with unpacked, lovingly examined, and re-packed memories. Sure, I could digitize the photos and upload them to the Cloud. The 55 year old “Teddy Monkey” that hasn’t been cuddled for 2 decades would certainly fit better in an album than a box. It’s here where the line is drawn in our home, that place where “stuff” intersects with memories. Maybe I’m too old school, or perhaps just plain old, but the memories and the things that trigger the memories are safe from the Purge.

The whole exercise has been a helpful and useful one in my never-ending journey on the “want vs. need” highway. Stuff? Firmly on the “want” side of that equation. Every day in our cottage, more joy from less. Letting go of the stuff has also brought me closer to cherished memories, which in turn is bringing me closer to cherished people. Funny, eh? The less room I have for stuff, the more room I come to have for the people who helped me make the memories I’ve been saving. I’m off at the moment to round up a couple of those people, hopefully to create a few more of those memories.

After all, the size of your heart and soul need not be bounded by the kinds of walls that surround your stuff. There can always be room for your memories and the people who made them with you.

I’ll see you next week…


Sunday musings (thinking about Ali)…

Sunday musings (thinking about Ali)…

1) Genius. “What is genius but balance on the edge of impossible?” –Norman Mailer on Ali

2) Will. “The willingness to do what it takes to prepare to win is much more important than having the will to win.” –Unknown

Ali said numerous times that he hated ever minute of preparation for his fights. Every step on the road, every turn of the rope, every hit on the bag. And yet it was also said that in his prime no one out-worked him before a fight.

One of Ali’s earliest lessons.

3) Trials. “It isn’t the mountain that wears you down, it’s the pebble in your shoe.” –Muhammad Ali

Here we begin to see the deep understanding that this giant among mere mortals had for the trials and tribulations of everyone else. Who among us must actually give consideration to the mountain at all? Every day, though, each of us must plod on in the face of chronic constant discomfort. Just getting to the next challenge can sometimes seem to be insurmountable. Ali understood. Perhaps this, more than anything, explains why it was that every single person who was ever blessed to speak with him felt that Ali spoke for them, believed in them, cheered for them.

Knew them.

4) Courage. At age 24 Ali received his draft induction card. Having recently converted to Islam, Ali declined to serve and was stripped of his titles. Thus began 3 years of exile during which he struggled to support himself and his family. Three years of being hated by a majority of Americans. The likelihood that he would have actually been asked to carry a rifle and plod through the rice paddies along with the rest of the American servicemen was precisely zero. Think Elvis Presley. He must have known this, and yet he drew his line in the sand and refused.

I’m pretty sure it does’t really matter when we consider this whether or not you (or your parents, or your grandparents) agree or disagree with the particulars of his stance. Like almost every male in my age group I registered for the draft, and like so very many white suburban kids I would have spent almost all of my draftable years as a student, high and dry and thousands of miles away from the war. We didn’t discuss this at home; I have no idea what my Korean War vet Dad thought. I do remember thinking then, as I still regrettably think today, that what he did took a simply unimaginable amount of courage, a courage that I wasn’t ( and aren’t) sure I had (have).

Who among us hasn’t been faced with something that is hugely important, where right and wrong is a stark black or white, 0 or 1 binary question, where we just know with our heart and soul what we should do? There’s always a catch, though. A price to pay. Doing the right thing, even speaking out on behalf of the right thing, will have severe consequences for you or your loved ones or both. Your boss is a racist or a misogynist, perpetually abusing the weaker in your midst. Do you speak up, knowing it likely will cost you your job? A powerful interest group has descended upon your community and is singling out a group of which you are not a part, institutionalizing a prejudice that causes harm to innocents. Do you speak out, knowing that you will now be a target for a vengeful, wrathful power? The government has trained its regulatory aim squarely at your business, singling your world out for unfair attention just because it can. Do you speak out, knowing you will come under such withering scrutiny that you will likely be destroyed?

It’s not just being aware of the injustice, not just acknowledging the injustice, it’s doing so in the face of certain danger to you, or to you and your loved ones. Could you do it? Granted, Ali was 24 at the time of his stand, had come from little and had relatively little to worry about in terms of collateral damage, but still, there he was, walking away from the peak and willingly walking into the valley. Could you do that? Could you have done it at 24, even if you were just one more pebble in the shoe guy, with little to lose and little risk to those you loved?

That question has led to more than a few sleepless nights for me over the years, including last night after I heard that Muhammad Ali, the man who introduced me to the possibility that the answer could be ‘yes’, had died. I confess that, while hopeful, I am still not entirely sure what my answer would be were I to be confronted with such a question.

I’ll see you next week…


In Memoriam CrossFit Bingo, nee Comet CrossFit

The dreams are weird, man. If I dream at all I rarely remember them, but it’s been one dream after another these last couple of nights, and I awaken with a memory of each one as clear as if I’d just walked out of a theater. They all follow the same pattern, though the details of the story differ a bit. I’m invited to join a group that’s far outside my usual fare. We combat others outside our group who wish us harm, but as the group grows internal turmoil brings danger within, and some I once knew as colleagues become something else. It’s always dark, sometimes with a faint brown or yellow tinge, but always too dark to see more than a city block ahead. In that block’s worth of view are people, both in the group and out, who look to me for…something. To stay or to go? The dream always ends the same way, my back to a door closing behind me, a nearly unlit street filled with these people ahead.

Friday marked the last day for our family’s Affiliate CrossFit Bingo/nee Comet CrossFit.

We finished up a week of CrossFit benchmarks with “Fran”. It was eerie: everybody PR’d. 15 hearty souls remained of the more than 200 who became CrossFitters at Comet/Bingo, joining the 50 or so who’d started elsewhere. It was hard to see the clock; I kept getting something in my eye.

Parts of this story have been told before. 4 1/2 years ago my sons opened a Box far from where they’d grown up, opting to strike out on their own while at the same time respecting the zones around the 2 Affiliates then open in the area. It was a much more innocent time in all ways CrossFit. The CrossFit Games had just moved to LA from the Ranch. The 5,000 or so Affiliates were still spread out, buffer zones between most, at least outside of SoCal. Coach Glassman  told The Boys “It’s fun, and it’s easy!”, and by and large it was both. “What’s CrossFit” was the first question you answered for 95% of the people who walked through the door. It wasn’t so much a business as it was a bit of a calling, really.

As parents it was a thrill to see our boys working together, although we knew that part of it was surely temporary. My oldest Dan was the leader; he found his effective voice while launching Comet CrossFit. “The Heir”, despite his vehement discussion-ending declarations that “this is my career”, soon enough found his true calling in the law and headed off to Law School and Business School. Comet/Bingo gave him the time and space to learn a bit more about who he was and what he was meant to do. Beth and I are forever grateful that Comet/Bingo and his brother were there for that, for him.

For Lil’bingo, though, we were quite convinced that this was it. That this CrossFit thing was what he was supposed to do. In many ways we were right, and in many ways he would agree. Randy, you see, was more than a bit shy around people he didn’t know, and not quite sure of himself in new settings. But boy, could he coach. From the very start he had an exceptional eye for movement, and an uncanny ability to present just the right cue to his athlete to effect the change necessary to improve. In time this repeated success brought a greater, broader confidence to him, one that made him defer less and be more willing to share his mind in all aspects of his life.

And like so many other instances of transference in CrossFit, where lessons and actions in movement translate into similar behaviors in life, we saw that strong desire to help manifest itself literally every waking moment in his life. His repeated success as a coach has given him the confidence he lacked when he graduated from high school, and now he will take this newfound confidence with him to college. We, his Mom and Dad, are forever grateful for these 4 1/2 years of personal growth for him as a gym owner and coach.

So was Coach Glassman right? Was it fun and easy? Well, like most things, the answer is yes and no, and that’s probably where my dreams come from. Beth and I had a chance to be coaches at our sons’ gym, and there’s no question that the coaching is fun. It’s just a thrill to see people get better, to go beyond what they ever imagined for themselves. Physical changes and newfound abilities translate to a confidence in self that is nothing short of amazing, and we got to share that sense of accomplishment with other trainers who can trace their lineage to that gymnast in Santa Cruz. No doubt man, that was fun.

Our sons have both grown into the next version of who they are destined to be, helped along in the process by the priceless experience of running a business whose sole purpose was to make their clients better. Each of our boys in turn is now a better version of their potential selves for having done this. As parents we are grateful for this, for CrossFit.

And what of us? Well, for me and my dreams, I’m going to go with that door being Comet/Bingo and leave it at that. Those folks in the dreams who seemed to wish me harm because of my association, whatever my mysterious group may have been? Well, they may or may not be real, and since I can’t really see them clearly in the dark and the mist, I’m not going to look too very hard for them or at them. No, I think the dream is really about those folks in front of me who seem to be looking for help, or maybe looking with a bit of sadness as they, too, watch the door close behind me. I feel what they feel. I’m pretty sure I’ll always feel what they feel.

If you’re wondering, I’ll aim for that little bit of faint yellow in the sky beyond the mist, beyond my view. Maybe some of those friendly souls in my dream will follow. I really have no idea what’s there, just a sense that there’s a next for me too, something that I’ve grown to be from having Comet/Bingo. Like my sons.

I’m pretty sure my darling Beth is already there, waiting for me.

Sunday musings 3/27/16

Sunday musings…

1) Crenellate. Create multiple indentations on an otherwise smooth edge.

No reason. Just a cool word.

2) Eyelash. The normal lifespan of a normal eyelash is approximately 5 months.

Nope. I didn’t know that, either.

3) 16.6. Recovering from surgery from a non-CrossFit condition, I sorta kinda did a couple of the 2016 Open WODs. At some point over the rest of the year I will eventually do them (hopefully Master’s Rx), but for now I’m about to embark on CrossFit Open 16.6: constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity, with the intension of improving my work capacity across broad time and modal domains.

The CrossFit Games Open 2016 is an interesting and fun diversion, one that gives us a common experience across time zones and geographic variance. For me, though, the real magic happens in the other 47 weeks, the 47 week experience that you could call “16.6” and heading into “17.0”.

That’s why I’m here.

4) Easter. Does it strike anyone else as odd, or something like odd, that it is only the two major Christian holidays (Christmas and Easter) that have superimposed, widely followed non-religious traditions? Try as I might I find no such superimposition on such equally important annual religious observations like, say, Ramadan or Yom Kippur . More so, if you do a little digging into the Easter Bunny’s origin you find that in his original incarnation he, like Santa Claus, kept a ledger of “good and bad”, with the good receiving eggs/candy/gifts. While I have no insight into why this might be, I find it odd.

In the Christian world there is no more important celebration that Easter. Indeed, the very concept of Easter is as difficult and complex as that of the Trinity. Judaism and Christianity share the Old Testament, and presumably therefore share a belief in the same Deity. It is in the interpretation of the Messiah that most people understand the difference between the religions (interestingly, the Koran recognizes J.C. as a significant prophet), but the more profound difference between Christianity and all other religions as far as I can see is the chasm that faith must leap to accept both the Trinity and Easter miracle.

While I am best described as having faith in a deeper, greater Presence, I am not a very religious person any longer (this makes Grambingo very sad). However, not unlike the CrossFit we all practice here, it is instructive to note the secular attempts to nullify the religious aspects of both Easter and Christmas, while noting how hard it is to hold tight the two beliefs that are the crux of Christianity.

For those who do the hard work of Christianity I offer a heartfelt and sincere Happy Easter.

I’ll see you next week…