Monthly Archives: September 2011

I Will Go Down With This Ship

Although not usually a big fan of pop music, I read the lyrics of a song by Dido called White Flag, and they kind of stuck with me. She says she loves someone who has left her, and that she will keep loving him regardless of the fact that he has left her, that she will not stop no matter what. She says she will “go down with this ship”. She will die loving him no matter what he does.

Many people love things, love one or another thing a lot. But, they could live without these things. But we all have a very few things which simply define us, things without which we just cannot be ourselves. We all have a ship we would go down with.

What defines you? What is your particular ship?

Sometimes this is a hard question. When I asked myself the question, I had to think about it a bit.

I have to thank Audrey, a single mother recently deprived of her two daughters, for helping me to think deeply about this. She recently was forced to think about this type of thing, and came to the right conclusions. In coming to the conclusions that she did, she found herself a stronger and better person.

What does this have to do with weightlifting and athletics? Well, nothing direct. Nothing except that you have to have LOVE in your heart to really, really totally commit to something. You cannot fully commit and fulfill your potential without LOVE in your heart for whatever it is that you are doing. No one waves the White Flag and goes down with a ship without a heart full of love. Thank you Audrey for showing me this.

I know what I love, do you?


Moving Forward

If you ask most people what is the scariest thing about zombies, they will state the obvious problem of them wanting to eat your brains. While this has some merit, I have to disagree.

The really terrifying thing about zombies is that they just keep moving forward. You cannot reason with them, you can’t bargain with them, you can’t scare them.

You could offer a zombie free brains for life if he would just spare you, it wouldn’t matter, he would just keep coming at you, mindlessly fixated on YOUR brains. You could stand there with what is generally recognized as the ultimate anti-zombie weapon, a 12 gauge pump shotgun and say, “zombie, if you keep it up, I am gonna shoot you” and he will just keep coming at you. If 10 zombies are coming at you, you can blow the heads off of 9 of them and the last one standing will not be scared or intimidated, he will just keep coming forward and if you run out of ammo or your gun jams, he will eat your brains.

You just don’t ever see a zombie running away or even stopping, they just keep shuffling forward to eat your brains no matter what.

I think we can all learn something from the zombie. One of the most terrifying creatures to ever walk the earth, and one of the main reasons that it strikes fear into our hearts is the absolute inevitability of its advance. You simply cannot stop a zombie from moving forward short of shotgun induced decapitation. I mean think about it, you can blow its legs off or cut it in half, and the zombie will still crawl towards you, trailing his guts behind him in the dirt. Scary stuff and it’s no wonder many people take precautions against zombie outbreaks.

A man with this attitude is very scary opposition in any walk of life. A weightlifter with this attitude is terrifying. Always right behind you, shuffling forward. Doesn’t have to be moving fast (you have never seen a zombie run, have you?), just as long as he is moving forward. You take a break, he passes you. You get hurt, he passes you. You have a bad week of training, he has added 1kg to his total and is closing the distance. He is moving forward. Always moving forward, like a force of nature. Like a zombie.

I think there are many times when athletes can benefit from the example of the zombie. When things are tough, when you want to take a break, when it might be easier to stop, just turn your mind off and keep moving forward. It’s what the zombie would do.


Friends

Friends can sometimes do funny things. A couple of days ago, I had a friend, one that i really don’t know all that well, give me this knife. It is a Gerber Mark II, judging from the serial number, produced around 1981 or 1982. It was an unexpected and unwarranted gift.

Now this friend did not know that I have collected knives for about 20 years, and this highly collectable knife was one that I do not have and have always wanted. In fact I do not believe that this friend quite knew how rare and precious a collectors item he was giving me, or how much I would love and treasure it.

I also do not believe he knew that I had a really crappy two days before I got this gift, or my frame of mind which was pretty dark. He definately did not know much his gift meant to me or how it turned my mindset around.

It is prolly my friends, more than anything, that prove that God loves me. I could say more, but I won’t.

Here is to friends, and the funny things they do.


Stew

The secret to great stew is a crock pot, and to keep it simple. Here is how I do it.

2-3 pounds of tri-tip.
enough carrots to fill the crock pot about 2/3 or so full.
enough potatoes to fill it the rest of the way.

A few bay leaves.
some soy sauce.
some black pepper.
some Louisiana sauce
some beef bouillon cubes, or better than that, a big spoonful of the “better than bouillon” paste that they sell at Costco.

Now it is important to not really measure anything, just go by feel and taste. If you start measuring, then every batch tastes exactly the same, and you dont want that. You also have to add 3 or 4 glasses of water till the water line is about to the top of the potatoes.

Let this cook in the crock pot for about 10 hours on low, and you have yourself some magic.

Adjust the ingredients by adding pepper and Louisiana sauce to individual portions, or adjust how much you put in on the next batch. But please never measure anything, that ruins the magic.

Healthy and delicious, and my stew is the best around, just ask anyone.


He has “IT”

I was talking to a speed skater yesterday and he was describing something he called a “feel for the ice”. He said two skaters skating side by side could have identical technique by any measurable standards, same cadence, same position, same joint angles and movements… and yet there would be something different. You cant really describe it and you can’t point it out. But you can see it. And the skater that had IT would go faster.

The same thing exists in weightlifting. There is a certain aspect of the performance of the lifts that the word technique just doesn’t cover. I have called it rhythm, or tempo, or said a lifter made “pretty lifts”. But none of those things quite cover IT. One lifter can do everything by the book, good positions, great line of pull, and yet watching him you know that while nothing is really wrong, something just isn’t quite right. He just doesn’t have IT.

James Moser had IT. Now, his technique was not exactly textbook. The bar went forward as it came off the ground, he often put his jerks forward and had to chase them down, and his knees sometimes came in and almost touched as he struggled to stand from a clean. Yet for him, you could see that it was right. When James lifted, you could plainly see that every single muscle fiber of every muscle in his entire body was working in perfect concert to fix the bar overhead. That every movement was right, that the timing and rhythm of the movement could not be improved. It was beautiful.