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United States Marine Corps Corporal Jason Dunham died April 22, 2004, of wounds sustained April 14 from an ambush in the Iraqi town of Karabilah.   While fighting hand-to-hand,  at one point he warned his fellow Marines, "No. No. No. Watch his hand."   Shortly after,  a grenade rolled out and Corporal Dunham threw himself over it, using his helmet and body to absorb the blast.

Milblog I Love Jet Noise reports that  Dunham "told his friends he was planning to extend his enlistment and stay in Iraq for the battalion's entire tour. 'You're crazy for extending,' Lance Cpl. Dean recalls saying.

"'Why?' he says Cpl. Dunham responded. 'I want to make sure everyone makes it home alive. I want to be sure you go home to your wife alive.'"

To which Jet Noise says, "Mission accomplished, Corporal Dunham. Semper Fidelis."

Well. Everyone except himself.


Corporal Dunham was the first American soldier to be killed in Iraq. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, posthumously.

Nothing we can do or say will be sufficient dedication or memorial to such men. Our emotion and eloquence and devotion have but poor power in such a task, and we attempt it only because not to do so would shame us. Fallen heroes are beyond our power to honor or shame.

A nation shames itself when it ignores those who embody its most noble aspects. To falter not from fatigue but petulance, and to fall away from unfinished work -- well, we need not go to the extreme of life and death, of wars and nations, to understand lessons that children should have been taught.

America has fought great and bloody wars, to found and preserve this land of freedom. It seems self-evident that freedom is not granted, but earned, and blessing not guarded are lost. Many nations have been tested and found wanting. It is a mere truism.

Do heroes die in vain? Let it never be said. Heroism is like love. It enriches creation, and it is, in itself, pleasing to God. We owe a debt we can never repay. But striving honestly to reach our potential is a down payment.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank

A Few Non-participants in the CrossFit Ethos

Emperor Nero Germanicus, Roman Emperor (54-68 AD)

Vlad III, aka Dracula, Prince of Wallachia and Impaler, 1431-1376

Donatien Alphonse François, author and Marquis de Sade, 1740-1814

Oscar Wilde, poet and author, 1854-1900

Adolf Hitler, author and Chancellor of Germany, 1889-1945

Gertrude Stein, author and patron of arts, 1874-1946

Spiro T Agnew, US Vice President, 1918-1996

Pol Pot, Prime Minister of Kampuchea, 1925-1998

Charles Manson, musician and pop culture icon, 1934 - 2017.

Andrew "Andy" Warhol, artist and pop culture icon, 1928-1987

Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, political activist, 1957-2011

Manuel Uribe, gourmand and Guiness record holder, 1965 - 2014.

Yes, it’s true -- from Emperor Nero Germanicus to Kampuchean Prime Minister Pol Pot ... from literary lion Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis of Sade, to gourmand celebrity and Guinness record-holder Manuel Uribe -- well, CrossFit isn’t for everyone. While masters perhaps in their chosen fields, not everyone is excellent in their fitness.

It doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition. World-domination and excellent athleticism? Why not!

Be excellent.

CrossFit Burbank


Exercise, in a gym, say, is not about the movements you see there, or the weights being moved. It's about two entirely different things. First, it's about hormones, which we've discussed before. The movement of the weight is just a way of getting a signal sent to the brain, which responds, if the signal is strong enough, by causing the release of some amount of hormones, amount again depending on the magnitude of the signal. Small stress, small signal, small response, small benefit. Like with curls or flies or any other isolation exercise. You're not isolating the muscle. You're doling out the hormones in tiny itsy bitsy little droplets. Use demanding weight, systemically, and an endocrinal demand will be generated. So that's one function of training. Hormones.

The other function of real training has to do with the mind. It's about resetting the subconscious, the autonomic safety gauges that the brain presets to where it thinks the safe place is. But the brain is an old lady crossing guard, looking not just to keep us safe, but to keep us weak and dependent. Now be careful. Don't run. Hold my hand. We never outgrow that, unless we outgrow it. We do so by demonstrating that we can handle new responsibilities. It's like the red zone that the dashboard gauge needle isn't supposed to get near -- but the red starts way too soon. 15 miles per hour. Zoom.

It's by pushing into fatigue that we convince the brain that false signals of fatigue are an unnecessary safety measure. Recalibrate the gauges. Not all, but some fatigue is not real. It's the nagging of the crossing guard, chiding us to go back even when there's no hint of actual danger. Hysterical handwaving in the form of nausea and tunnel vision, and negative self-talk, and phony excuses that nobody else really believes but they don't want to shame us, because then maybe we'll do the same to them. Meantime the brain does whatever it takes to preserve us from the very hint of real stress.

The brain is like a 13 year old girl's body. Her body wants to be pregnant. She doesn't, but it does. It will lie to her, and make her feel all sorts of things, and change the timing of her menstrual cycle, so that it can be pregnant, which is what it wants. Well? Same thing with the brain. Your brain wants you to be safe, and when you're looking to become excellent, safe translates into weak, and slow, and overweight or underweight, and not athletic. Don't blame it. That's its job. Your job is to train it until it learns something better.

It's about emotional unfocus, mental weakness, negative self-talk, eagerness to fail, our ingenuity at finding excuses, our willingness to believe the deals we make so we may strive less -- deals we don't even keep ... I'll run to that tree and then I can walk ... but you start walking even before you get to the tree.

That's the big problem. Call it emotion. The other problem, of hormones, is just biology, and it's mechanistic. Stimulus and response. The properly functioning body doesn't have a choice. It's a dog, that you train. It will obey. The master should be in charge. Like with Confucius, who slapped the father when the child cursed. Generate the signal, and a hormonal discharge is elicited. Flip the switch and the light comes on. If it doesn't, it's not because you didn't flip the switch, it's because something is broken. We're not talking about broken ... well, not broken biology. Broken habits -- or unbroken, rather, left over from babyhood.

Bad habits and weak minds. Weak is okay. We all start out as babies; but babies know how to do only one thing: get stronger. Everything they do is designed to help them survive and grow. The behaviours that are well suited to this specific task under those specific conditions, however, become maladaptive with age and ability. Yet we hold on to them. They are, if you'll allow a serious application of the term, the root of p-factor. The whining and fussing and pretending and self-pity and transparent manipulations. It's infantile.

Who are we trying to fool with all this noise? Ourselves, mostly. Which is sort of sad, but it's universal, this temptation, the same way that the healthy human form follows a predictable pattern. The mind follows patterns as well. The differences between us, those who prevail and those who quit, have to do with how we respond to the voices in our heads.

And that is the point. Which voices to listen to, and more specifically, which voice we deliberately summon up in times of great physical stress. Because ideas matter in more than just our public conduct. They matter in how we motivate ourselves, and in how we fail.

Part of a workout is about generating a deliberately positive, empowering internal monologue, even if it feels like a lie. A monologue of success rather than of discouragement. Because the mind-body connection is clear. The placebo effect is real. Game face is real. And isn't it obvious, that if the lying voices telling us to give up can have an effect, then another voice, that says we can succeed, may not be lying at all? -- even if it feels like a lie? Because we can succeed. At any possible thing. And doing better, running faster, lifting more, working harder -- this is not possible? That's the lying voice again.

It's called rewriting the script. Because the old dialogue sucks, and another unhappy ending is not appropriate for these characters -- us.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank

Heavy Holds

Warming up.  It's not even 600 pounds.

Work set.

Heavy holds.  635.  Pounds, not kilos.

This is one of the things the body is for.  Notice the posterior deltoid.  This must be one of the things it does.  Once in a while.

All feats of strength herein depicted are performed by professionals.  Don't try this at home. 

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank
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