Category Archives: Uncategorized

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon…errr, Racism

Ever heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? It a parlour game that connects Kevin to any arbitrary actor. That’s what people are calling systemic racism. Its why every statue, monument, historical document, and living person can be called racist. You buy an iPhone or Android, you’re racist. Why, because it uses slave labor in Africa to gather cobalt in the mines. If you trace back anything, people will point to a source in racism. If you think a thought, its racist. No matter what you do, people will call you racist. Like when Mark Wahlberg tried to say something in support of a movement, he received a severe backlash of people decrying his early days of life when he did something wrong. There isn’t forgiveness or grace in society. Everybody is a racist. Not far behind that, sexist. Then, you’re privileged. Then, you’re a bourgeois this or that.

You know what, just stop calling people names and categorizing people who you don’t even know. Just stop it all! It is so hateful to do. Instead love and support each other. Actually talk with people before flaming on social media.

A Mexican immigrant said the other day on Joe Rogan that 2nd and 3rd generation Mexican immigrants in California are the worst. You are not allowed to state facts about any situation. There is no rationalizing with someone or carrying on an intellectual conversation. A very prominent politician from the same State said "facts don’t matter". Instead, burn them at the stake on social media. Then cancel them. Cancel out anything good they’ve ever done. Cancel all the money they’ve donated to charities. All it takes is one step off the path of the narrative and you’re cancelled. I made one comment about something recently and two of my yoga students unfriended me. That’s what they do. They do it from a keyboard in some dark room. That way, nobody can point the finger back at them. What they don’t realize if we turned back on their hypocrisy, the Six Degrees of Racism, Sexism, and Privilege will come back to haunt them too.

Before you condemn a person, first walk a mile in their shoes.

Black & African-American Charities to Give To

I’m a very responsible steward of my money. I never just give someone money without knowing something about the charity, organization, or person I’m giving to. Its the smartest way to give.

Also, I think a lot of people talk about giving but don’t really give. If they do give, its not substantial enough to consider filing on their taxes. The tax benefit of charitable giving is enormous. Its a great strategy to include in your portfolio. I mean, every little bit helps. If everyone gave $5 to a cause, then great. But I’m talking about people who really give. Not just talk about giving.

Quick story, the year when Barack Obama and Joe Biden showed their tax forms the first year of their election, my family gave more to charity than both of them combined. And we’re not rich. We’re not poor but fall in a more average income. And I wouldn’t say we give like Walmart gave $1 million to minority scholarships just the other day. Or a Bill Gates or someone like that. Be we probably give much more than your average person.

So if you give, you want to know that the money you give actually goes to the cause they profess. Many charities and organizations just pad rich fat cats who do nothing for their cause. For instance, consumer reports gave in Nov 2019 their best and worst charities to give to. It is surprising. Like:
Animal welfare – one of the best (PetSmart Charities) – one of the worst (Gentle Giant’s Draft Horse Rescue)
Cancer – one of the best (Cancer Research Institute) – one of the worst (Children’s Leukemia Research Association)
Heath – one of the best (American Kidney Fund) – one of the worst (United Cerebral Palsy)

https://www.consumerreports.org/charities/best-charities-for-your-donations/

Likewise, Charity Navigator gives ratings and assessments of various charities. Here are some of the best Black & African American-Focused Charities.

https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=7983&c_src=WPAIDSEARCH&gclid=Cj0KCQjwrIf3BRD1ARIsAMuugNsyZuAIsFUwqf0Pd9lK7aMZ8Enr4JuYt56gVSuLEGKl5Vgs1d7yJGcaAiN8EALw_wcB

On the other hand, organizations like Black Lives Matter do not have any data supporting their cause. For some reason, people have never really given to this charity despite my seeing so many people telling me to give to them. If it weren’t for a few celebrities giving to them just now, they haven’t been a charity of focus. Its amazing how people jump on bandwagon’s without any deliberation. They just do it. Its not a smart way to live life. I’m not putting them down or saying they are not effective, but there is no proof that I should invest in them. Whereas, there are other causes listed above that would probably be a better place to put your money. Here is all they have for BLM.

https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.profile&ein=474143254

People decry the rich and their philanthropy, but that is where most charitable giving happens. Yes, the $5 you give is appreciated and, when crowd sourced, can add up to a lot. But its the big donors where things really happen. And believe me, they study what they are giving to. There is a reason rich people are rich and its not what you think. They actually know how to make money. They also know that charitable giving is good for their company and good for their portfolio. The same is true for individuals. Charitable giving has so many benefits for smart consumers. And the best part, you are doing something good for someone.

Be smart about your money. And do your best to build and grow communities and people.

American Views On Race

Views on race in America are largely American-centric, and for good reason. Its where Americans live. But from a world-wide perspective, our views are narrow.

I lived in Germany when I was in my first tour of duty with the Army. While many of my caucasian brothers and sisters in arms were of Anglo-Saxon or even of Germanic descent. Other than how we dressed and our short haircuts, many of us fit in with the host population. But for those who are brown or black-skinned, we sometimes stood out. In many places where I traveled in Germany, the cab drivers and service people were other than German. In that, I mean predominantly Turkish or sometimes Indian in heritage.

In fact, as a Native American, somehow I passed off as a Turk at times. I had a lady friend who would invite me to a Turkish bar with her and there was never a problem. I mean, back in that time where I lived, some of the Turks had a violent temper. I once saw two American soldiers badly beaten by a group of Turks. These guys looked like your average nerdy white guys and they weren’t being belligerent. They were racing to get their car door unlocked and down the road. But it was like a movie. The driver dropped his keys and couldn’t get in since he was rushing so fast. So the two guys got beaten badly. I didn’t have the courage to step in because I would have been beaten too. I once saw a guy suplexed by a Turk. As a wrestler, I can still see that beautiful move in my mind. But the American had his head bashed in pretty badly when it hit the cobblestone.

Another time, me and a white buddy of mine were walking down the street in Kaiserslautern (K-town) and we saw a group of guys just off the main street. I yelled out, "where’s the party?" (maybe in German or English, I can’t remember). When they turned and looked at us, they were skinheads. They had leather and chains and didn’t look at us too kindly. So we kept moving on.

Another time, I was certain we were going to get beaten up. I’m sure we looked like drunk, gullible, harmless Americans as we left the Monster’s of Rock Concert. As we entered the concert earlier in the day (like in the morning since it was an all-day festival), they didn’t allow us to bring certain things in the stadium. So we wandered to the woods nearby and stashed our gear. Late that night, we went back for our gear. There were faint street lights, but then it was dark where our gear was. As we walked down the path, a big group of German guys were ahead of us. They kept looking back at us. As we were walking, part of the group stopped and we passed them. We came up to our gear and as we walked back onto the path, both groups had turned to approach us. We were boxed in. So we at first moved slowly into the woods and then started sprinting for our lives to get away.

While in Germany, we had the chance to go to Paris for a tour sponsored by my unit. That was a terrible choice because everybody got drunk and were fighting, but that’s another story. My problem was I didn’t know anything about Paris. I was a 19 year old soldier and not very worldly. Since the aforementioned drunken soldiers were unruly to hang with, I ventured out by myself. I like it that way. What was not super great was all my travels were by foot. I couldn’t catch a Taxi cab. I was totally discriminated against. I couldn’t speak French, so all the cabbies just ignored me. No habla, right? I couldn’t get on the Metro (subway) system either. Nobody would help me. I didn’t know how or where to get tokens or passes. Heaven knows I tried. So I ended up walking everywhere. I even had trouble getting food at times.

I’ll take you to last year in Thailand. First of all, when you visit a country, you obey their rules. If you get thrown into a Thai prison for doing something stupid, that’s on you. Even the U.S. Embassy would have their hands tied to help if you did wrong. You can’t step on or deface the Thai Baht, their money, because it has a picture of the King. You can’t say anything bad about the King. Its so different from the U.S. where people freely bash politicians. You also can’t buy a Buddha as a trinket, wear a Buddha image, or take a picture with your head higher than a Buddha. If you post to social media and they see it, they’ll look you up and catch you at the Airport before you leave. But you know the most tricky part of it all? There is an outright gouging of foreigners. There is a sign that says "Thais" and the other "Farangs". One line for one and another for the other. There are different prices for entry. Often you pay a higher price for food and transportation. Its just how it is.

As I’ve been researching a trip to Costa Rica, many "Ticos" frown on Yankees. Yes, we are loud, impatient, lack understanding, and are downright obnoxious. Whereas the Ticos are on their own time, they are so chill and laid back, and they don’t like American’s getting loud and angry. They also don’t like Divas.

All over the world, I’ve seen Americans think they are special and want things their way. Well, the world ain’t Burger King. Sometimes, you get what you get. We don’t make the rules. If you have to wear long pants and long sleeves to visit a temple, that’s what you do. If you need to wear a head and face covering, then you do it. If you can’t wear short-shorts or go topless on the beach, then tough. They make the rules.

Joe Rogan called it the "pussification of America". He had a guest, a Mexican immigrant who was recently naturalized. He said the people in American who treat recent immigrants the worst are the 2nd and 3rd generation Mexicans. Somehow, they’ve fallen into following the narrative put out there. He said "Facts don’t matter". He would tell of what was happening in Tijuana (TJ) when the caravans were going through. The locals didn’t like it at all. Much of it was orchestrated by the cartels. In 100F heat, guys in black hoodies would herd women in children in front of them. They had tattoos from head to toe. They had to hide behind innocuous looking people to get across the border. When generous food agencies would come and give the immigrants food, the cartel would take that food and re-sell it out behind the building. But somehow, this guy was chastised heavily for telling the truth. It didn’t follow the narrative.

As a pre-teen boy, my parents adopted two children from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I’ve said before, some reservations make the ghetto or barrio look like Disneyland. It is in a barren place out in the middle of nowhere. There is nothing there. Not even trees. There are not many businesses other than a grocer. There are lots of adults wasted laying along the streets. We visited an attorney to help us with adoption. The lady was overweight, which was odd for a place where people are starving. We sat on some chairs and boxes. The floor was either a dirt floor or dirt was covering the floor. All I know is it soaked up the pee that shot across the room when the lady coughed. That is a distinct memory I’ll never forget. When we did a Bible school with a missionary there, some of the college students were gathered around a cute little dog. The Indian boy who brought it over said they were eating it for dinner that night. It was the reality. Years later, I read how gangs have taken over. They extort people or their own families out of their monthly checks from the government. Many of these people have nothing. You don’t see racism because there’s no other people around to be racist to them. Years ago when the American Indian Movement was super active, they shot FBI agents who came on the reservation. The agents had like 50 bullets each in their bodies. We had a close personal friend who was a U.S. Marshall who went to the reservation to issue a warrant to a murderer. It was a scary time with machine guns and lots of bad feelings. And our U.S. Marshall friend, he was Puerto Rican.

One last story from the reservation (I have many). We had another missionary friend who preached at a church at Sharp’s Corner, a remote community miles from Pine Ridge. He lived in a small trailer next to the church, which was broken into many times. He said he didn’t keep anything of value there. You could sense a lot of fear when he talked. When we came to visit, he was doing a funeral of a gang member. He had us sit close to a door where we could escape should the other gang show up. Then he said we should just drive away as fast as we could. He was really afraid. It would have been a mass firefight. It was life on the Rez.

I think people should stop protesting and doing things they know nothing about. They don’t know the real problems and the sources of those problems. I told someone, there are probably 5-10 problems for each community before you ever get to racism. If you want to help someone, there are other ways to do it. It is such a difficult situation. Like on the reservation, I’m not sure what the answers are. If there was an easy solution, people would have done that already. One huge key is education. I’ve heard such positive stories about inner city kids being schooled at home because of the pandemic who are actually learning now. In the schools, teachers spend more time disciplining and dealing with unruly students than actually teaching. Smart kids are often placed in peer groups to bring up the numbers of the lesser performing students, which is chaotic for them. I know a local teacher in our town who quit because of the meanness of kids. When you think of the problem of unruly kids, it makes you wonder how they were raised. Sometime in the past, somebody went to a party, had a good time, had unprotected sex, and then ended up with a child. Parents are not ready to commit to a child, they don’t have the means to support the child, and often kids are left in neglect. It is a lack of values and no responsibility that are the primary source of the problem. They turn to the streets and the vicious cycle continues. It comes to having responsible relationships, actual planned parenthood where a loving family wants a child, having a home with means to support a family, and then raising them with values and a good education so they can survive in the world. Giving people free money doesn’t work if you see how Native Americans are treated on reservations. It doesn’t help anyone to pay them off for having no sense of self worth, no contribution to society, and no reward from doing hard work.

That last part is key. Its why socialism never works. Everybody gets paid the same and nobody is rewarded for working harder. So why work harder? If the State controls everything, then why do anything? Why not just stay at home and do nothing because you’ll still get paid. There is no self worth in that.

As for me, I take pride in anything I do myself, and that’s a lot! YouTube is great for everything. There is nothing you can’t do outside of YouTube. I installed a carburetor and other parts on my lawn mower not really knowing how to do those things. And the mower runs great. I did that myself and I pat myself on the back for it. I feel so good about myself when I do things on my own. Yes, I pay for expertise when I need to because that’s what you do. You pay for expertise because they’ve earned that with education and experience. Their hard work is why you go to them. But if there is no benefit from making something of yourself, then why do it? I went to school for 12 years to earn my Ph.D. I had better damned well get something out of all that hard work. Otherwise, why do it?

I’m a proud Native American. I’ve made something of myself. There are so many examples of all races of people who are successful contributors to society. But there are also a lot of people who don’t have real responsibilities, they don’t have kids to care for, they don’t have employees, they don’t have a mortgage to pay and gain equity. These are often the ones who want socialism. They usually rent, move from place to place, live out of wedlock, and usually don’t have kids. They see disparity in income from the outside never asking why that is so. They see the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. But they never seek solutions. Socialism is not the answer. Its the reverse of success. In many ways, race is like a caste system, like in India. In Thailand, its the common people and royalty. In Marxism, its the proletariat, bourgeois, and peasant classes. Everybody has a purpose. And they aren’t getting paid the same. People get paid for what they contribute to society. If they don’t contribute, they don’t get paid. If they don’t have a skill, expertise, or other capacity to contribute, then they’ll struggle finding success. Believe me, everyone can find a skill. Minimum wage jobs are meant to be stepping stones while in school or developing a skill. Maybe minimum wage is for when you work on your GED and catch up what was lost in youth. But minimum wage was never meant to be a living wage. Its a contribution to yourself until you find your success.

People need to think about what they say. They see things so clearly in their minds, but they don’t connect the dots. Politicians sit on high horses totally disconnected from the people. Its why term limits are absolutely necessary. One Detroit city councilwoman said a US congressperson is there "to bring home the bacon". That’s it. But that’s not it. How does a congressperson making a modest wage end up being millionaire’s? How does a Bernie Sander’s become a millionaire when they never made anything outside of the government? Its not right. Representation of the people is what we need. Not 20 year politicians who have built caucuses and networks that benefit themselves, but not necessarily for their constituents. Its a broken system. Its what is most broken about America. Even the President is limited to 4-8 years. But a Senator stays in his or her cushy seat for life. That’s what’s sad. No representation. No progress. No limits. Its the primary source of all our problems.

Life is Precious

When you get older, you start to realize how fragile life is. My best friend from high school when I moved to Michigan my senior year of high school passed away a few years ago. But I had just found out last week. He died of a heart attack. I will express some memories of him soon because I feel its good to write. But you realize it could be "you" or "me" at any time.

Can I tell you the truth? A few years back late one Summer, I caught a weird lung thing. I think it was borderline pneumonia. In the heat of Summer, you would think its weird to catch something. But then I think of something like Legionnaire’s disease or the like and you know its possible. I developed a dry, weak cough and started to feel very fatigued. Who knows, it could have been a corona virus because the symptoms were similar. The truth is, I got so weak and light headed some times that I think I could have easily passed out and that would be it. It actually wouldn’t be a bad way to go. I was at total peace. I wasn’t panicked or scared. I just accepted where I was at the time. When elderly people die of pneumonia, which is super common, I wonder if that’s how they feel? I think I could easily have written and said my goodbye’s with clarity. And then just gone to sleep. It would be that easy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love life. I love all of life. I don’t want to see anyone or anything die. As a soldier, I would still have felt the conviction to defend my brothers and Nation. I wouldn’t savor taking a life, but war is terrible. Sometimes you have to take a life to save lives. I know that’s what happens in war. I would feel intense pain for that, but no regrets.

I am an omnivore. Yes, I kills plants to eat. I’m a biologist and I know what life is. I don’t mix up social issues of convenience or the "bothersome" responsibility of bringing a life into the world. Its not an option to kill for convenience. I know what fertilization means across all organisms. I would have gotten tests wrong if I said that when zygotes unite, undergo meiosis and genetic recombination, and create uniquely different life, wasn’t life. Yes similar to parents but different. The point is, when those gametes intermingle, its life. I don’t kill that life. But I do.

Do you eat fruit? A vegetable is a "vegetative" part of a plant. It may be a leaf, branch, parts of a flower, but not the fertilized egg. The fertilized egg is new life. A "fruit" is a fertilized egg. When you eat it, you are eating life. When you kill it, you kill life. People don’t seem to have any trouble eating strawberries. Ethically, they are OK with it. They are OK with killing a mosquito or fly that’s bothering them. They spray repellents to kill termites and ants. They are even OK with aborting a child for convenience. But are against killing an animal. Their moral justifications are hypocritical. One person explained to me that eating an animal takes its "soul". OK, so now you are saying that we, as humans, now get to determine which animal has a soul. So a puppy dog has a soul but a shellfish does not? A dolphin has a soul but a fly does not? Who are we to say that? And how do we really know? Is the the presence of a central nervous system the standard? Who are we to say? Did you know many plants feel touch? They can sense CO2 changes. They can see sunlight and water. Are you telling me cows have a soul but plants do not? Who are we to say that? Ethical justifications always fall apart.

I love animals. Even hunter’s love animals and their beauty. I would encourage you to expose yourself to more. Watch a show like "The Last Alaskans". You see how people who live off the land marvel at life. There is so much beauty and life to cherish. But you also know how valuable it is to have food. In remote places, like parts of Alaska or places where indigenous people have lived since the beginning of time, you can’t go to the grocery store and buy whatever you want. You have to live off the land. Sometimes those lands don’t have growing plants in Winter. I studied field ecology where bioavailability, assimilation coefficients, coevolution, symbiosis, and other aspects of eating for life come into play. Do you know what dietary fiber really is? Its undigestible pieces that we as humans don’t have enzymes to break down. So we say we like that they are scrubbing our intestines and arteries, but its because we can’t use them. There is no assimilation or nutritious value in fiber. On the other hand, ruminants have cellulases that are capable of breaking down grasses and plants that we can’t use. Its almost like cattle are made to coexist with humans because of what they can eat and provide to us.

Yes, I love animals. But everything has a purpose. Sometimes the strawberry gives hundreds of progeny for our consumption in one fruit. Sometimes, cattle and other animals are used for food. Its like they were made to give up themselves for us. "Domesticated" animals wouldn’t exist without humans. Most roaming free Schnauzer’s, poodles, and Dachschunds won’t live for long on their own in the wild. A coyote or wolf would see them as very easy to obtain food sources. Same with a cow. They wouldn’t roam wild like their ancestors, like a water buffalo, bison, or wildabeast.

Speaking of wildness. I studied field corn for my Ph.D. I had to know all about corn, its history, and its survival. The truth is if we stopped cultivating corn, it would likely die out as a species in just a few years. If you left a field of corn to the wild, the wild would take it over. Weeds, native species, trees and shrubs would take over. Same with soybeans. Yes, a majority of our world’s food consumption comes from these two crops. We have flours, oils, proteins, and other products from these crops. Most processed food has corn or soybean products in them. Yet, without human interaction, these species would go away.

Life is fragile. Its amazing how we ever last a day. If you knew biology and chemistry and physics, you’d know what a miracle we are. Study even just one cell. Study how it survives. Study all the organelles, plasma, and how membranes interact with their environment. I’ve had not only courses in microbiology (single-celled organisms) but in cell biology too. I’m fascinated by the miracle of life. Where we get life wrong is in human thought. We get mixed up in origins, evolution, consumption, and ethics. Its us who get it wrong.

What spurred these thoughts? I just killed a fly; and I felt bad about it. Yes I did. Why? Not because it was living. Not because it was in my house. But it annoyed me. And I felt I was a higher creature that couldn’t be annoyed by such a simple life form. It buzzed in my face and on my computer screens. So I killed it. Isn’t that sad? But we all do it every day. Most of us aren’t Buddhists. And even in that ideal, there are hypocrisies. Because some life is considered less than others. A Buddhist has to eat just like we do. Some things are OK to kill and eat while others are not. Life is fragile. Its a social construct to think otherwise. We all draw lines in the sand of what is OK and what is not.

Life is precious. All life. No one more than another. But life couldn’t exist without nutrients. And those nutrients come from life. Giving one life supports another. Fungi and bacteria that consumes debris that we no longer want or need supports their life. A cracker crumb that slips into the carpet is consumed by microorganisms even if we don’t know it. Life supports life. Its the cycle of our existence.

Education: A Thought for the Day

One big revelation from the COVID crisis is its effect on our education system in America. The main reason why college is recommended and expected by parents and schools is to find employment as an adult. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.

As a personal example, I went into the Army directly out of high school to pre-pay for my education and to also see the world. It was kind of my gap year(s), but I worked my butt off for that money. It also gave me other opportunities throughout life and shaped who I am today. I’m convinced I would have been a totally different person today without the military. I wouldn’t have it any other way for my life course.

My goal out of high school was to become a physical therapist. I’ve always been interested in health and athletics, so it made sense to help these athletes heal and reach their goals. Well, first of all, my grades were OK in high school, but not good enough to make it into a PT program. I realized this after my first semester of college. I decided to transfer to a local community college to get my basic education out of the way and to make high enough marks to get into PT school. Yes, I did improve my grades, but my goals had changed.

I had interned as a student in the PT ward of a hospital. I had the fun duty of taking the laundry and other yucky stuff to where it needed to go. There was one room with critical patients who were in traction with extreme back pain, hip or shoulder replacements, and other serious issues. It was kind of dark and unpleasant. In addition, when I got to help a PT with a patient, it was never an athlete. It wasn’t someone who wanted to improve their back squat or 100 m dash time. It was an 70 year old lady who had carpel tunnel surgery. The PT used a goniometer to measure range of motion. So after treatment and with tears in her eyes and her gripping tightly to my hand, the PT would say "we need to get a few more degrees of motion today". It was painful to watch. Yes, I still would have become a PT, but it was different from what I had first thought.

So as I went for my Bachelor’s degree, I found myself attracted to the courses at the cellular and molecular level. This led to my degree in Microbiology with a minor in Biochemistry. I was fascinated by microorganisms. I love studying physiology and deeper aspects. So when it came time to graduate, I started interviewing with companies. One was a filtration company who made microfilters and other medical devices. These companies wanted practical experience, like studies in hematology, and specific skills of phlebotomy and other technical aspects. I was largely unqualified due to lack to hands-on abilities. I was over-qualified because of the courses I took.

So what does any highly educated person do? Get more education. My trade-off for not finding a job right away was to go to Grad School. One of my courses that I loved was Mycology, the study of fungi. I took more courses with the mycologist and ended up doing my graduate studies with him. I also took more courses in microbiology, field ecology, virology, and statistics. After all of that, I knew there was no way I was going to get employed with that education. Haha!

So the next step? Ph.D. studies. I wasn’t smart enough to get into PT school but definitely smart enough for advanced studies. I studied plant pathology. Now that definitely had application to real life. I had worked at the plant disease clinic helping people solve problems with lawns, trees, bushes, and field crops. But, outside of the clinic, it wasn’t an employable degree. I actually studied disease resistance in field corn, which included a lot of genetics and breeding techniques. Once again, when I tried to find jobs with corn breeders, I was under-qualified to do that specifically. And there weren’t jobs as a pathologist other than the few with the USDA labs.

So what does a highly educated person do? They teach. So I became an Assistant Professor. And, after years of begging for money and making far out claims of what I could do for people, I used my military background to reach out to the Corps of Engineers. It has been a good place to work, but not without issues of politics and bureaucracy. The truth is, I still beg for money. And some of my work gets tossed into a trash heap, just like some of my University work. But a good amount of my work goes toward improving the lives of every day people. And it helps with our National Security.

The truth is, I would say at least half the people I know where I work and the people who work out in the real world; most don’t work in the field they were educated in. I know a lot of college graduates who work in sales, retail, insurance, and various trades. The work I do right now has nothing to do with my specific fields of study. But its the analytical tools and abilities to do research that makes the difference. Does that mean I am a better researcher than my colleagues who have a B.S./B.A. or Associates Degree? Not at all. The Ph.D. just gives me a little extra street cred. Even if you look at the highest levels of leadership in my organization, there isn’t always a Dr. in front of their name. I would say the Dr. only gives you a little extra boost, but not by much.

The statistics show that college graduates make more money than people who don’t have a college degree. But in all my studies in statistics, I know the data is often skewed. I don’t think you can look at an Annual Salary as a true indicator of wealth. You have to look at the cumulative effect of an education. I spent a couple years in the Army before school. Then I spent 12 years in schooling. Yes, I made some money for college in the Army, but I also didn’t pay into social security or a pension plan. The same is true as a student. I did work part-time jobs which helped, but its nothing like a bigger annual salary of full-time employment. I was way better off than most because nearly all of my education was paid for. But most people go into huge debt to go to school. Even worse are professional degrees like M.D. or J.D. (law school). Paying for those degrees is like paying for a mortgage on a house.

A short story: When I was in my undergrad, my church had a young couples group. We’d have get togethers at each other’s homes. Most of us were still in college, so we had apartments or small homes. But one of the couples had a total McMansion. I mean, when we met in their basement, it had these gaudy Greek columns and mirrors and a full bar area. This guy didn’t go to college. He worked in his Dad’s business as a kid, then full-time after high school. He ended taking over the business. I had friends who were electricians and plumbers who started work one or two years out of vocational school. They had families and homes and country club memberships. Whereas, I didn’t start making real money for about 15 years out of high school. That was 15 years of very little employment other than the military.

Would I do that all over again the same way? Probably, because I would never have predicted. In fact, I think it would have been better to stay in the military for a 20 year career. I finished college at age 32. I could have retired from the Army at 38. I mean "RETIRED!!" Wow! And I could have come out of the Army with a degree too, which many do. I gained so many skills with the military. I think of how much money I save by knowing how to repair cars, fix mechanical things, and build stuff. Its a super huge cost savings in life. And I would have had a ton of respect finishing a full military career. I was an E-7 when I left the Army. You only go up to E-9. So I could have made a lot with my career.

For most people, college is a crutch. Its something you do because you don’t want to be an adult yet. When I went to college, kids were acting so stupid. It was like high school again. Whereas I had lived in Germany and was responsible for lots of expensive equipment. I had a much better head on my shoulders than the students around me. In the news, they call an 18 year old who dies in a car wreck a child, a teenager, a kid. But an 18 year soldier who dies in combat is called a man or woman. It is a totally different distinction. Some people never finish being kids. They live in their parent’s basement to age 32. They never take on responsibility or push themselves to make more of their lives. That doesn’t mean college. It means seeking a trade or experience that makes money.

I know some young people who even decry money. They are totally disillusioned by society. They call it greed or selfishness. But I’d like to talk with them when they are 60 years old. They will sorely realize the error of their ways. They will be the sad stories of people living on the street, no retirement income, no pension, nothing. They may be ill of health and not have a way to pay for treatment. At 60 is when you’ll know that you should have done something different in life. But then, there is not a whole lot that you can do about it.

We sow seeds early in life. Some of us don’t sow at all. We travel all over the world and live in constant debt. We always rent or lease and never own anything. There is no equity in our lives. We don’t have an investment in ourselves. We just gave into every pleasure and called it Woke. When in reality is was just a dream. A dream that floats away with the wind. And when your Woke eyes open, you realize you have nothing. When a crisis, a pandemic, or whatever comes your way, you become dependent on everybody else and have nothing socked away for a rainy day. That’s not Woke. That’s just plain not smart.

Education comes in many ways. The best way is to jump into the fire and learn the hard way. Its sink or swim. But there are smart ways too. Learn a trade. Be a commodity. Be someone that people need in life. Don’t be optional. Don’t be non-essential. Be essential in life. To be honest, where I sit for my home office looks out a front room window. With very little traffic because nobody goes to work, one thing keeps ticking. Those trash trucks. The different companies pass by and you can hear their distinct sounds. A trashman always works. Rain, sun, snow, or hail, they are out there hustling their butts off. Many make good money. We always need the trashman. A funny side note on that: why aren’t there trash women? What happened to equality? I’m sure the trash companies would take women. But why aren’t women signing up to be trash men? There’s a story in there somewhere. There are always jobs to be had. When I was a janitor in high school, I could have done that the rest of my life. I would have always been wanted. I could have worked as many or little hours as I wanted.

Be essential.

A Long and Winding Road

I hope you all have been well. Despite being home all the time, I have been defunct in my writing. So here is my update.

Each week of being locked down at home has brought new (and better) life. The idea of "temporary" is looking more like "normal". I’d love to share my life with you because, let’s be honest, I’m old! (haha!) And maybe "old" sometimes equates yp a bit of "wisdom". Time will tell (pun). So before I start -splaining things to you, I’ll give you the punch line.

My New Life Strategies (for the foreseeable future):
– Use FatSecret app to monitor food intake on the weekdays (M-F). 1,500-2,000 kCals
– Use the Zero app to monitor Intermittent Fasting on weekdays (M-F).
– Do weekly weigh-ins on Friday, a.m. and p.m.
– Try to eat an early dinner (before 530pm) and start my fast.
– Try to fast for a minimum of 13 hours but up to Noon (18.5 hours).
– Don’t monitor anything on the weekend (530pm Fri to 530pm Sun).
– But also don’t go crazy. I don’t want to erase all my gains.
– Primary goal in diet is to stay under 100 g of carbohydrates during the work week.
– Secondary goal is to be mostly Keto/Primal. Stay keto through breakfast and maybe lunch.
– CrossFit every day (except Friday):
Strength – but don’t overdo it – 5×5, 3×10, 7×1 – to failure but only 80% total intensity
WOD – usually a couplet, sometimes a triplet. Nothing crazy, aim for 5-15 mins.
Accessory – a skill or focused exercise to work on. Maybe a couple exercises.
– Friday play day – usually trail run, but may be combined with mountain biking, paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing.

I’ve done this specific plan for the past couple weeks and it has been so freeing. I love it. I’ve also been working longer days early in the week so I can take more time off Thurs and Friday. I used to have half days on Friday. Now I have the full day off Friday most weeks or a half day. Then I may even take shorter Thursdays. Depending on the weather, I may switch my Thursday and Friday around.

If you have Memorial Day off, have a wonderful celebration. I don’t have plans yet, but its going to be fun!

Meaningless War: 7 tips to wealth

What I mean by this is the concocted wars created by left and right. There is no war, only facts. These are the facts.

#1
The number one problem is kids having kids irresponsibly. The most responsible way to have kids is to first have an income. You wouldn’t (or couldn’t) buy a car or a house without first having a means to pay for those purchases. Parental planning is key. You need to have a plan for the future. Don’t have kids without having first created a stable home. A Robin will first create a nest before laying eggs.

#2
Irresponsible use of mind altering substances. This could be alcohol, cannabis, or any other drug. This leads to problems at #1. A lot of kids have been made when you are out of your mind and not using protection. Passion does funny things to us. Its irresponsible to do this. It creates many other problems as well, like poor education, poor work life, and poor health in general. And don’t drink (or get high) and drive!!

#3
Having a support net. Believe me, the government shouldn’t be your support net. Your significant other is the first level support net. In my household, its divide and conquer. My wife and I have our own responsibilities. And when one of us is down, the other can pick up the slack. After 31 years of marriage, I don’t know how I would have made it without her. If you live life without that kind of commitment to someone, you have lost your first line support net. Even better if you have kids. You take care of them, they take care of you. I always think about my parents and in-laws. I know it will be my responsibility to make sure they are OK when they can’t care for themselves. Beyond that, parents, other family, community, church; these are all important pieces to your support net.

#4
Get an education. My rule through college to my Ph.D. was to never miss a class. Go to class and pay close attention. If you strive to learn it the first time, then it will save you so much time trying to catch up and do it on your own. I learned this in high school back in Kansas. Unlike where I graduated in suburbia in Michigan, I lived in rural Kansas where most of us had jobs. We were farmers, we baled hay, I worked in a train yard some times… we worked! So we didn’t get a lot of homework since our teachers knew we worked. You had to listen and do your work in class and in study hall because you didn’t have time to do it at home. An education is also learning a trade. Maybe your parents have skills as a plumber, welder, mechanic, seamstress, crafter, or other trade. Maybe it helps to go to a tech or vocational school. Or maybe you go to college, which I would say is generally less useful than the vocational school. Some majors in college don’t translate into a job. So if you go to college, know how it transitions into making money and a career. In my many years, I’ve learned on my own how to do brake jobs on autos and other skills. I know wood craft. I’m about to begin welding. With skills gives you opportunities. YouTube is great for learning. Then go apprentice with someone. You need knowledge. There is no excuse for not getting educated. Anybody can do it.

#5
Live by a budget. Have you read the book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad"? If you haven’t, you should. Just like you don’t get marriage advice from a celebrity, or take fitness tips from someone drastically overweight; don’t seek financial tips from a homeless person. Learn from a rags to riches story how to be successful. We see the flashy people out there who are new to money. But for many wealthy people, they drive a very modest car, live in homes they can afford, and don’t eat out all that much. Some wealthy people are very frugal with their money. Many of Dave Ramsey’s flock of financially literate people sacrifice a lot to be in a good position in life. I guarantee, if I walked around with someone who doesn’t make a lot of money, I could point out precisely the mistakes being made.
-Junk food and fast food; that includes Starbucks.

-Flashy clothes and shoes.
-Expensive travel that you can’t pay for.
-Buying and leasing autos you can’t afford.
-Paying for your home with Rent (BIG money down the drain)
-Buying too big of a house.
-Not buying in bulk or seeking wholesale prices.
-Not diversifying your sources of income.
-Not diversifying where you invest.

#6
Have an emergency fund. An emergency fund is essential. Before saving, before paying off debt, before anything; have an emergency fund. That should be at least 2 months of your expenses, preferably 3, optionally 4-5. This money is set aside and never touched. Its not your Cayman Island fund. Its not your new car fund. Its never to be touched unless you have an emergency. Its apropos to today. When done right, nobody should be in crisis.

#7
Get out of debt and never go back into debt. Though I list this as #7, its the #1 killer of wealth. Its like carrying a canteen of life saving water, but you have big holes drilled into the sides. The holes are debt. It sucks the life out of you. I know some people who buy things and take vacations completely on credit. That’s a huge STUPID NO-NO! Do you hear me? Don’t do it. Its STUPID. Create a vacation fund. If you are planning a big vacation and it takes 3 years to save up for, then that’s what you can afford. Create a car fund. Then buy your next car with cash. That’s how you live within your means. I’ve found the Dave Ramsey way to be the best way to snowball yourself out of debt. Take your smallest debt first and get rid of it; FAST! Then, use the amount you were using to pay that debt and even more for the next smallest. By the time you get to the last and biggest debt, you snowball all that money into the debt. Get rid of it! NOW! And never ever go back into debt. Save, save, save. Plan, plan, plan.

The government wants you dependent on them. The banks want to take what you own. You need to watch out for numero uno. Having kids outside of a committed relationship is extremely troublesome. It comes first down to firm personal beliefs and a value system. When you play with fire, you are bound to get burned. You go to a party, drink too much, inhibitions go down, and then you start getting busy with anyone and everyone. You can blame all the people you want for a poor start in life. It takes two to tango and both are responsible (for being irresponsible). But what it came down to is selfishness. You gave into your own pleasures. You had a poor understanding of your belief system. You had no self control. And you started skipping classes at school. You didn’t listen to teachers. And then you wonder why you are making minimum wage. It starts early. It takes a family who loves and cares for you to bring you up with those values and beliefs so you can succeed in life. It starts from infancy. It has nothing to do with a political or class war struggle. It comes down to personal responsibility. Refuse to be a victim. Refuse to be a token to anyone’s cause. Never seek handouts, only hand-ups. Seek people who help you reach your dreams. Seek positivity; not negativity. A winner always wins.

This is the truth!

Vegetarian vs. Omnivore

This is tongue-in-cheek y’all!

I did a Warrior Dash with friends a few years ago. A carload of us went to a far suburb of Chicago to do this obstacle course race. It was a fun, muddy time with lots of laughing.

Afterward, we wandered to a breakfast place that serves waffles and all things wonderful. But what was most amazing that all my friends at this event were vegetarian or vegan or other iteration of that ilk. I was the only omnivore.

As it happens when you are in the minority, they talk about things like you aren’t even there. They were joking about how non-vegetarians think they eat. They talked about how people ask how they get their protein. They were laughing about what omnivores say about veggie-people’s hair falling out and other problems. And about how we only think they eat salads.

The problem is, when veggie people talk about omnivores, they talk about us like we are only carnivores. I think that would be ok, but its not true of most of our diets. The same when people talk about Paleo or Keto or Primal. Yes, we may decry carbs in the form of sugars, pastas, and flours. Yes, we are against what grains do to our bodies. But if we’re honest, we still love cookies, cakes, and pastas; we just know they are not good for us.

The real truth is that omnivores who aspire to Paleo/Keto or other similar ideal will fill up our plates first with colorful veggies. Our meats and fats are always paired with the perfect veggies. We may snack on veggies too (if we don’t have a beef jerky stick around, haha!) Nutritious and low glycemic is what we love the most. We love our veggies. But we love other stuff too.

We all find the niche that works for us. I had an awesome discussion with a veggie friend of mine. We talked about a lot of things I’ve already mentioned. We talked about ethical treatment of animals, but also about harmful pesticides that are nearly unavoidable with veggie crops.

With COVID, the store shelves are fairly bare with products. Knowing what I know about how unregulated certification is for organic products, I usually avoid those products. A farmer can charge 3-5 times as much if they have the organic label, when I know that those products have not been tested by any authority. So with COVID, this idea has been even more pronounced. I had to buy a few things that were organic even though it was much more costly. When we get back to free choices and stocked shelves, I’ll go back to my ways. The only way to really know the source and quality of what we eat is to grow food ourselves. Second best is to know an ethical (truthful) farmer and actually visit their farm. The reality is people have to pay their bills. For some, if a pest invades a crop and can potentially devastate it, they’ll probably spray it with a pesticide to save the crop. Otherwise, its a very expensive loss of seed, fuel for tillage and planting, and fertilizer. It would be difficult to let all that go to waste. Then to take an additional loss in revenue by not providing a certified organic crop knowing they can charge more for it. Some may even still stay its organic to get that price point. So, if you can, grow food yourself. Grow animals too if that’s what you do.

I hope you are staying well. Whatever food choices you have, be smart about it all. If you follow one diet, know how to balance it to get essential vitamins and macronutrients. Remember that healthy food is always the best first choice. Supplements, juices only, or other magic elixirs are not the way to go. Then, if you need to supplement after that, then do so. To me the key elements in order of priority are:

1. Get enough sleep. If you don’t sleep, all the rest of this is for naught.
2. Drink water. Coffee, tea, soda, and even alcoholic drinks are OK if in moderation and if you’re countering their diuretic effects with more clear, unadulterated fluids. Our bodies are composed of mostly water and every cell depends on full hydration to function properly.
3. Nutrition. Always healthy food first. Shop the outer aisles and not the processed foods in the middle.
4. Sun light. The sun is good for many things. It sets the stage for our circadian rhythms. It regulates serotonin, melanin, testosterone, and cortisol. It also produces more Vitamin D than anything we could possibly eat or supplement. On the standard American diet, we get about 300 IUs of Vitamin D. A glass of milk has about 100 IU. Whereas, we get 1,000 IUs from a good dose of sunlight. The good thing is, we store Vitamin D. Enough exposure through Summer will get us all the way through Winter.
5. Exercise. Our lymphatic system doesn’t have its own circulatory system like we have for blood. You have to move or manually massage lymph to get it to move. Lymph carries most of our immune products as well as bad toxins. Breathing, pumping blood, and lengthening muscles is key to good health.
6. These latter aspects are the links to good mental health. We could do items 1 through 5, but if we have stress, it all goes to pot. Working stressful jobs and living in a toxic relationship counters all the good things you could do. Yoga, tai-chi, physical activity, meditation, and connecting spiritually are all ways to de-stress.

Quarantine Workouts

Its been a while since I’ve last written. I hope you all have been well. As I think back to the past long weeks with our Stay-At-Home order, I’ve seen tons of growth. When this all started out, I had a bad allergy outbreak. My throat was so sore I couldn’t swallow without lots of pain. I struggled teaching yoga classes since it hurt to talk. So I took a few days off from work. Then, the day I came back to work, Corona had started to take off and my Boss required me to work from home. I grabbed a few folders of work and my laptop and headed home. Never in my wildest dreams would I think it would be extended this long since the lockdown began.

To be honest, since this started out with me being sick, I was already in a sick mindset. If you know me, I’m still doing things when I’m sick since I feel good blood circulation and getting the lymph moving is important to health. Even if I’m just walking, light running, or even strength workouts, then that’s what I’m doing. I’m also taking hot Epsom salt baths and lots of soups. I don’t mess around when it comes to healing. It still took about a month for my seasonal allergy to be relieved.

The problem, when I started working from home, I wasn’t very focused. It was temporary, right? So I was making do with the time already expecting I wouldn’t be very productive. I was also working on a big contract so that kept me focused. But I wasn’t getting all the bang out of my bucket of time.

On the personal side, I was going about 3 days without a shower or shave. I wouldn’t really change clothes either. I was pretty gross. I chocked it up to being sick. But it was probably a little mental too. I was working out a little, but not very well. And I was eating like crazy. Every walk through the kitchen meant I stuffed something in my belly. After the first week, I realized I had to change something. I started into a more regular schedule of working out twice a day and taking a shower every day. I was lifting heavy stuff and I could feel strength and size increasing. I justified my eating as bulking. I even thought about reaching 200 pounds for the first time in my life. Then I’d cut back.

Native Americans are often predisposed to diabetes. Actually, I don’t know if I’d call it as much of a predisposition as a cultural lifestyle thing. But much of my family has been plagued with this disease. My younger brother and Dad both have type 2 diabetes. So as I was playing games about reaching 200 pounds, I started to think, "what if I got diabetes while playing this game?" And both of these close family members had heart attacks too. It was time to stop playing games. It was time to clean up my body and mind.

In the 2nd week of quarantine, my yoga studio, which had closed, also started broadcasting Zoom yoga classes and I was asked to take a day. So on Saturdays, I teach a 10am class. With my nearly 200# of bodyweight, I could really feel my yoga suffering. So two days later (the day after Easter), I decided to go strict [again]. I got back on the FatSecret app. Its one of many tools that I find incredible. I started tracking what I was eating. No more handfuls of GORP as I passed through the kitchen. No more eating a full plate of dinner then a full plate of leftovers the next day. No more adding a cheese Danish to my cart when I shopped for groceries. FatSecret hides no secrets. It tells the truth. And it also tells how many calories you burn with your various activities. I’ve been eating between 1,400 to 1,800 calories per day (kcal). I also try to include colorful veggies and healthy fats. I still try to restrict carbs and be a bit Keto. I feel better and have better clarity when I don’t have carbs (aka sugars) clouding my brain.

The other biggie is going back on the Zero app. I know most people can Intermittent Fast (IF) without a tool. But I find it helps me keep track. I’m an analytical person anyway. My minimum is 13 hours and I probably do that 80% of the time. Sometimes I fast up to 16 hours; not intentionally, but sometimes I’m just not hungry and I don’t eat right away. Now for people who Poo-Poo the idea of IF, its not about doing something that’s a fad. The bunny veggie people talk about eating many meals throughout the day. They say it keeps your metabolism up. That’s a crock!! For people predisposed to diabetes, its about constant insulin being cranked out through both eating frequently and eating carbs/sugars. The opposite is having big breaks in eating (IF) and very few carbs. That makes you more insulin sensitive and your system works properly. But IF also encourages fat burning because without glucose in your blood, your body turns to fats. And that’s an amazing side effect. Sometimes I’ll break my fast with something Keto, so I am really extending my insulin fast.

Now I haven’t even talked about working out. Kudos to you if you’ve made it this far. Like I said, I was doing 2 strength workouts a day the first weeks of quarantine. I was also following a split that was horizontal vs. vertical. Horizontal means things you do with your body parallel to the ground: bench press, flyes, bent over rows, cable rows, situps, back extensions… Vertical is: squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, dips, pullups. I still like this idea and maybe unintentionally follow this. I would always workout before I ate so I’m fully digested. I would do a strength workout before lunch and a CrossFit metcon before dinner.

So as I take you to current time and a few weeks of this, I’m 7.5 pounds lighter (maybe more since I haven’t weighed in for a couple days). I feel amazing. I am especially focused in the morning when I’m fasting and get so much of my work done. I’m doing a lot of yoga throughout the day. And my workouts are amazing. Before lunch, I do a fasted cardio of either weighted treadmill walking/running, ski erging, or rowing. Before dinner, I do a CrossFit workout. It follows this scheme:
Strength movement (Squat, deadlift, other). I try to stick to 10-20 mins.
Metcon – usually a 21-15-9 or AMRAP (as many reps a possible); 5-12 mins.
Accessory – often a skill movement or bodybuilding specific, <10 mins.

I have a Google Keep sheet on my phone. When I think of something or see something from YouTube or elsewhere, I jot it down on my workout list. I routinely review the list and move things I need to do right away to the top. Those ideas turn into workouts. I’ve had the best workouts of my life. I feel great. And I’m super productive. I’ll be happy to get back to the office, but I know what’s possible at home too. It has all been a growing process for me.

If you are at all curious about my day, this is how it looks:
Wake – yes by my Sleep App. It wakes me between 0445 – 0515 am.
Brush teeth, barefoot walk with dogs, coffee, watch news, social media.
0630 – work – usually reading, assimilation, the grind.
(frequent coffee breaks, loving my pups, get sunlight, fly my drone)
1130 – fasted cardio (if not a keto breakfast in the late morning)
Noon – eat with dogs & wife – often just a protein shake or salad.
1230 – work; or power nap 10-15 mins, then work
1530 – post work chill, drink iced tea, watch motivational YouTube fitness.
1600 – CrossFit workout; shave/shower; fresh clothes.
1700 – healthy dinner; often begin fast, or have a snack early, then fast.
p.m. – watch TV, yoga wheel, lacrosse ball self massage, yoga stretching.
2030 – go to bed; read either smartphone with red screen or use red lens headlamp to read a book. No white or blue light.

Making (Efficient) Shapes

Do you remember seeing Phoebe from Friends running with Rachel? It cracks me up. The video is here: https://youtu.be/2QNTp6IiFxE

While we can laugh at this, there are actually people who are not far from her running form. As I sit at my home office in quarantine, I am looking out a window to the front of my house. A lady ran by that made me think of Phoebe. Her knee lift, foot kick behind, and exaggerated running arms were way overboard.

I studied running form from a very early age. As a little kid, my Dad would take us to the KU Relays at the University of Kansas. It is a central event that often shapes athletes for the Olympics. I saw many amazing athletes there. I was in awe of their efficiency of movement. The power of the sprinters. The strides of long distance athletes. And all the nuances in the field events. It led me to become a middle distance runner and discus thrower myself. I was the smallest thrower in our region. The reason I could compete was because I studied how to perfectly rotate in the ring. For those in the know, you know what I mean. It was technique over strength and size.

I had as many books as I could get a hold of. I had Jim Fixx’s running book. I read Runner’s World and anything else I could find. But mostly, I watched other people. Then I tried to mimic what they were doing. Then I would hold events in our huge yard. Yeah yards probably seemed huge as a kid. But ours was really large. Having spent countless hours on a riding mower makes me think its true. I mapped out a 1/4 mile loop and held events with all the neighbor kids. I would teach them how to run with more efficiency. The older kids and the older brothers and sisters would laugh at me. They called me "teach" since I was always teaching people.

Something else that honed my abilities early on was Hawaiian Kenpo Karate. You do a punch and the teacher comes around and adjusts your position. Same for kicks. Over and over your positions are critiqued. Its all about having a solid stance and creating more power. I practiced Karate for several years and it shaped my life in so many ways.

Funny story: When I was stationed in Germany with the Army, there was a group of inner city guys who were all into boxing. They did the amateur on-post competitions. If they qualified, they went to Europe-wide events. They won medals and wore them around the barracks when they were in civilian clothes. In those days, we all got along pretty well when we were in uniform. But it got bad sometimes when we were out of uniform. Some of these black boxers became bullies and were pretty mean to people. Well, during one Oktoberfest, there was a carnival just up the hill from our post. There were fun rides and the regular carnival scams. They had one of these boxing bags that recorded how much force you hit it with. We were watching all the boxing guys trying to outcompete each other. So I decided to step up to the bag. I totally creamed those guys. From my karate as a kid, I knew how to focus my force onto the bag. Much of force comes from good technique. It was also a lot of fun to knock these guys down a notch, though I’m sure they would out-box me without a problem. But I was a wrestler, so I never worried about that. As long as you can take a first punch, a wrestler will always win.

When I got into CrossFit, I watched all the videos in the CF archives. I studied bar path, how to run even better (like the Pose technique), and how to row more efficiently. I learned how to do butterfly kipping pull-ups and muscle ups on my own. But the most technical of everything I’ve ever done is Olympic lifting. Like I said, most of how I learn is by watching. And as much as I’ve studied and trained, my technique is still way off. So even though I can see inefficiencies, it doesn’t mean I’ve made my body perfect in this regard. However, I can surely see it, especially as I see myself do an Olympic snatch. I still have much room for improvement.

Now, as a yoga teacher, I see even more. I know exactly where the energy and focus (through drishti) is directed. I can picture the anatomy of a person while they are in a pose. I can see what is weak, what is strong, and what can be changed. It is super important for me to be able to do that.

I hear a lot about the narcissism of social media platforms like Instagram. But for yoga, I’ve found pictures to be invaluable. There are many things I didn’t realize about myself before seeing a picture. That’s not to say I want mirrors in a yoga studio, because I am totally against that. I know dancers find them useful for the same reasons. But the mind-body connection in yoga where we are focusing inwardly would find mirrors to be a huge distraction. However, in personal practice, pictures can be super helpful. You compare NOT to see that you are less than someone else or to make yourself frustrated. You compare to see how you can improve what you are doing. Then the mental picture allows your muscle memory to make that shape again.

Take pictures and video of yourself. Or, if you are a coach or teacher, take pictures and video of your students so you can study and share with your student what they are doing. Apps like Coaches Eye allows you to slow a video down and write on the screen to show lines and energy. When you learn how to be more efficient, you become faster, stronger, and more defined in what you do.