Archive for March, 2011

Krugman Cannot Win

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 21 2011

The letter reads:

Dear Mr. Krugman,

Included is a check for $300 for two things:

1) I was lazy.
2) You were right.

Regarding Item #1, I resolved from 3/21-4/20 to do a Crossfit Workout of the Day 13 times and eat strict Paleo. By receiving this letter and check, you know I failed.

Regarding Item #2, to sour the deal a bit more for me, I promised to send an apology along with the check. The apology is in reference to your years of New York Times Op-Eds that are contrary to everything a 2nd grader instinctively knows about trade, but which have garnered you international acclaim. As part of my lack of planning and will power, I have resolved to agree with you that overturning everything which is right and good about commerce and man’s nature by proffering “Magic” (aka Keynesian Economics) as a solution to all of man’s ills is the correct course of action.

Moreover, I apologize for ever spending any time reading Mises, Hayek, Uncle Milty, Smith, Hume, and any other obviously lesser intellect than the one and only Paul R. Krugman.

Mea Culpa Mr. Krugman, Mea Maxima Culpa.

Big Hat Tip to Jon M. at Barbells and Bacon. Check out the latest edition of Radio Lab for someone else who used this model to grand effect.

Post as Art

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 12 2011

This is my favorite photo that Nicole’s done. It reminds me of Caravaggio’s “The Calling of St. Matthew”.

The lighting is never the same in two places. This brings a texture to the photo that makes you constantly search every part, looking at what’s bright but looking for what’s dark.

Every face in the crowd has a story and an emotional response from what’s going on in this instant.

There’s dramatic tension based on the fact that Becky has it overhead, but her left elbow isn’t locked out and she hasn’t stood it up yet. Will she stand it up?

All these things are going on in a great picture. So the question for me as a blog writer is how do I not mess this up?

Every day of the year, I put a blog post up on Potomac Crossfit. My main influences are Crossfit.com circa 2006 and the photo above “Goings on About Town” in The New Yorker.

In the former we see a basic elegance of color, information, and emotion. Two athletes in action but at rest for a brief moment. Surrounding the photo, the least amount of material necessary to transmit the required information.

In the latter, we see nothing but the photo (in the printed magazine at least). This is the first thing I turn to every week. Just a photo: no caption, no description, no artist signature.

Crossfit.com used other models in the past and uses a much different model now. Hollis at Crossfit Santa Cruz uses the same model now that Crossfit used in the past.

Our model has changed several times. We’ve recently changed our front page to a static site for the new client as intended audience. The blog is for our members.

We don’t generally like to put too much information within the blog posts. It’s happened several times, but mainly out of necessity: four new Foundations Classes, a Paleo Challenge, a Potluck, a discount at a business partner, etc. I need to get this information out, and the blog post has been the way it has to be done sometime.

But I don’t like it. In a perfect world, each photo and Workout of the Day would be a very simple, elegant post. The photo to transmit what we do, but in the abstract form that is art. Let each viewer project their own personality into that situation and determine if this is the right place for them to be.

“Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one consciously, by means of certain external symbols, conveys to others the feelings one has experienced, whereby people so infected by these feelings, also experience them.” – Tolstoy

Guidelines for Everything

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 11 2011

Giving your athletes guidance on every possible situation that they can run into is the Hydra’s Head. Whether it’s nutrition or performance, a couple things are going to happen:

  • The athlete encounters a new situation for which he is not prepared.  He commits spontaneous discorporation.
  • The athlete brings to the coach a new situation. They haven’t been instructed in how to handle it. The coach breaks out in Vesti La Giubba.

The best we can do when encountering a new situation is guess with an end state in mind: try to get fitter. We re-test that attempt and either use it or throw it away based on it’s efficacy and efficiency.

Adiemantus: Good men need no orders, they will find out easily enough what legislation is in general necessary.

Socrates: They will if god enables them to preserve the laws we have already described.

Adiemantus: Otherwise they will spend their whole time making and correcting detailed regulations of the sort you’ve described, always expecting to achieve perfection. -Republic, Book IV

John Stuart Mill – Micellaneous Quotes

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 06 2011

The principle itself of dogmatic religion, dogmatic morality, dogmatic philosophy, is what requires to be rooted out; not any particular manifestation of that principle. – “Civilization,” London and Westminster Review (April 1836)

We are not so absurd as to propose that the teacher should not set forth his own opinions as the true ones and exert his utmost powers to exhibit their truth in the strongest light. To abstain from this would be to nourish the worst intellectual habit of all, that of not finding, and not looking for, certainty in any teacher. But the teacher himself should not be held to any creed; nor should the question be whether his own opinions are the true ones, but whether he is well instructed in those of other people, and, in enforcing his own, states the arguments for all conflicting opinions fairly. – “Civilization,” London and Westminster Review (April 1836)

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war, is much worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice, — is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other. – “The Contest in America,” Fraser’s Magazine (February 1862); later published in Dissertations and Discussions (1868), vol.1 p. 26

Robert Heinlein – Our Noble, Essential Decency

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 05 2011

I am not going to talk about religious beliefs but about matters so obvious that it has gone out of style to mention them. I believe in my neighbors. I know their faults, and I know that their virtues far outweigh their faults.

Take Father Michael, down our road a piece. I’m not of his creed, but I know that goodness and charity and loving kindness shine in his daily actions. I believe in Father Mike. If I’m in trouble, I’ll go to him. My next door neighbor’s a veterinary doctor. Doc will get out of bed after a hard day to help a stray cat—no fee, no prospect of a fee. I believe in Doc.

I believe in my townspeople. You can knock on any door in our town, say “I’m hungry,” and you’ll be fed. Our town is no exception. I found the same ready charity everywhere. For the one who says, “The heck with you, I’ve got mine,” there are a hundred, a thousand, who will say, “Sure pal, sit down.” I know that despite all warnings against hitchhikers, I can step to the highway, thumb for a ride, and in a few minutes a car or a truck will stop and someone will say, “Climb in Mack. How far you going?”

I believe in my fellow citizens. Our headlines are splashed with crime. Yet for every criminal, there are ten thousand honest, decent, kindly men. If it were not so, no child would live to grow up. Business could not go on from day to day. Decency is not news. It is buried in the obituaries, but it is a force stronger than crime.

I believe in the patient gallantry of nurses, in the tedious sacrifices of teachers. I believe in the unseen and unending fight against desperate odds that goes on quietly in almost every home in the land. I believe in the honest craft of workmen. Take a look around you. There never were enough bosses to check up on all that work. From Independence Hall to the Grand Coulee Dam, these things were built level and square by craftsmen who were honest in their bones.

I believe that almost all politicians are honest. For every bribed alderman, there are hundreds of politicians—low paid or not paid at all—doing their level best without thanks or glory to make our system work. If this were not true, we would never have gotten past the Thirteen Colonies.

I believe in Rodger Young. You and I are free today because of endless unnamed heroes from Valley Forge to the Yalu River. I believe in—I am proud to belong to—the United States. Despite shortcomings—from lynchings, to bad faith in high places—our nation has had the most decent and kindly internal practices and foreign policies to be found anywhere in history.

And finally, I believe in my whole race—yellow, white, black, red, brown—in the honesty, courage, intelligence, durability, and goodness of the overwhelming majority of my brothers and sisters everywhere on this planet. I am proud to be a human being. I believe that we have come this far by the skin of our teeth—that we always make it just for the skin of our teeth—but that we will always make it, survive, endure.

I believe that this hairless embryo with the aching oversized braincase and the opposable thumb—this animal barely up from the apes—will endure, will endure longer than his home planet, will spread out to the other planets—to the stars and beyond—carrying with him his honesty, his insatiable curiosity, his unlimited courage, and his noble essential decency. This I believe with all my heart.

Robert A. Heinlein won four Hugo Awards during his 50-year career as a science fiction writer. Born and raised in Missouri, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1929 and did aeronautical engineering for the Navy during World War II. Heinlein’s books include “Starship Troopers” and “Stranger in a Strange Land.”

Faulkner’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, December 10th, 1950

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 04 2011

I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work–a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand where I am standing.

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only one question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed–love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he learns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

Potomac Crossfit 321

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Mar 01 2011

Before we dive right in, some background:

I was (and still am) an amazing Olympic Weightlifter – if I was a 75 pound female.

With that in mind, a little while back I set out to get stronger on my Olympic lifts. After scouring a variety of sources, I decided to give Wendler 531 a try first. I didn’t have a great back squat or deadlift, and my press was atrocious.

After several cycles of Wendler 531, my basic barbell lifts sky rocketed [See “Know When to Say Wendler” and “New and Improved Wendler Spreadsheet“]. I was feeling much stronger on these, and decided I was ready to start training my olympic lifts.

The only problem was I had no idea what I was doing. I had never designed a straight Olympic Lifting program before. I had tried the daily WOD from Performance Menu, but had gotten utterly crushed. I couldn’t spend that much time in the gym and I couldn’t handle the volume.

So I was in a bit of a lurch.

I thought to myself: “Self, you are a basic lifter, you need a basic program.” The biggest hurdle to figuring it all out seemed to be understanding Periodization.

I leafed through Bompa’s Periodization, read extensively on Louis Simmons site for a better understanding of periodization in general. I dug into as many authoritative sources as I could find.

In the end, I came out of this with more questions than answers. So I decided to just focus on the most basic question and look for the most basic answer. That led me to focus on Prilepin’s Table.

This certainly seemed to be the baseline that I was looking for, so I started to design my template. Not wanting to sacrifice the strength I’d built up, I kept Wendler 531 as a part of the program, but consistent with what Wendler recommends in his E-Book, I do the Oly lifts first.

Without further ado, here’s the Potomac Crossfit 321 Program (If Jim Wendler wants me to change the name, I’m happy to, but it’s simply an honorific and in no way am I trying to imply Jim’s approval of our template).

Some general notes:

  • Similar to Wendler 531, you add 5 lbs to your Theoretical 1RM for the Snatch, Rack Jerk, and Clean.
  • Rack Jerk = Behind the Neck Jerk
  • Many athletes may want to sub Snatch Balance for Snatch for several cycles, then return to full squat snatch.
  • Athletes should frequently include core work at the end of their workouts: Front Levers, Back Levers, GHD Situps, Back Extension, Glute Ham Raise, etc.  I’m a huge fan of Levers, but often athletes can’t handle the upperbody strain after heavy Oly Lifts.

How to add this to a general Crossfit program:

  • Add conditioning as necessary for your goals.  This allows at least two days a week of METCONs.  Nothing says you have to do this in a week either.  Spread it out and add more conditioning if that’s your goal.
  • Add Volume Training as necessary for your goals.  Dropping some Handstand Pushups, Muscle-Ups, etc, in your weekly template for variety and skill work.

Caution: This program is very untested. I’ll push this out to a few coaches and boxes who I know would be interested in trying this, but due to the constraints on sample size (you need a decently strong, decently competent athlete to try this), this isn’t an ideal program for a Crossfit box with a large number of clients. Athletes need to be able to overhead squat before they can snatch.  However, if you do try it, then whatever your results, please let me know.

Please do give this a try and make any and all suggestions for improvement that you’d like. Happy to hear feedback.