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Antonio Vivaldi: Recorder Concerto RV 443 / Maurice Steger, Cappella Gabetta. In the United States, for some reason, you are given a recorder in fourth grade and taught how to play the song “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Most 9-year olds use a recorder to randomly shriek loudly around the house and drive their parents crazy. When I told my daughter to stop playing the recorder, I wondered, “Is this a real instrument or just a dumb practice instrument that we give kids?” I then came across a Vivaldi recorder piece while researching an article on classical music of the Baroque era. This piece is absolutely stunning. The recorder is an instrument that deserves to be taken seriously. Listen to it.

How to Wear Lightwash Denim Now. (And Why We Should Stop Being Afraid of It). Dark denim probably had a strong grip on my personal style if you’re a Millennial. Dark denim is sophisticated and reminds you of your Greatest Generation grandfather. Primer Magazine, with the help of Daniel Baraka, one of my favorites menswear guys, convinces 40-somethings to wear light wash denim. It’s time to get some stonewashed jeans. I have some white ones. No worries!

The Odyssey. Homer’s Odyssey has been read dozens of time for pure enjoyment. It’s for a few reasons that I keep coming back to it. The Odyssey is a great adventure story. A fun book to read. The character of Odysseus, who is also a middle aged man, is very relatable. The story is about an average guy who wants to spend more time with his family. He has to try to survive a crazy world. I can relate. Odysseus teaches us also that you can still be in your 40s while maintaining your edge. Read our article on the lessons that you can learn from Odysseus.

With warmer weather coming, I’m ready to switch up my colognes. For the last few years, my go-to spring/summer scent has been Bluegrass by EastWest Bottlers. (The same company makes my favorite fall/winter fragrance, Sportsman). Bluegrass is a fresh scent with notes of freshly-cut field grass and Spanish moss. It also has a woodsy, deep amber base, along with a hint peppery spice. Smells like summer if you ask me.

Quote of the week

The true joy of life is to be used by the universe for a purpose that you recognize as being powerful; to be worn down before being thrown away; and, finally, to become a force of nature instead of a sickly little clod with complaints.

George Bernard Shaw

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Sunday Firesides: Are You a Benefit or a Burden?

Some people are naturally attracted to others. Everyone wants to be with them, their friend, and have them as part of their team.

Some people are not very successful in forming and maintaining relationships. They are often rejected when they make an attempt to connect, and don’t understand why.

We tend to think that relationships are formed based on ineffable and mysterious chemistry.

There’s a lot at play.

At their core, people’s decisions about who to hang out with and whom to prioritize in their life are based on a visceral assessment of whether that person will be an asset or burden.

Human experience is challenging. Each individual has a heavy load to carry. People look for people who can lighten their burden, not those who increase it.

Listening is just as important as talking.

Most people prefer to hear compliments rather than complaints.

The people are frightened by those who highlight the ugly side of life, they passively await to be entertained and fed, and they drift about as mood-diminishing storm clouds.

People gravitate towards people who are beautiful (whether it is in their appearance, style, home, or art), have new knowledge, fresh fun, and can look at the positive side of things.

The brighter side of life is valued by those with a friendly face, a lot of humor and uplifting perspective.

People give and receive in every relationship. Everyone looks for people who are a net benefit, not a cost.

If you have trouble making connections, ask yourself “What can I add to the lives of others?” Instead of asking, “Why do people not like me?”

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Odds & Ends: July 12, 2024

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A vintage metal box labeled

SABANI Portable Charger 35000mAh Power Bank. The AllTrails app has downloadable maps that I use to navigate during backpacking trips. If you are out in the wilderness for longer than a single day, you will lose your phone battery. And there is nowhere to charge it. Before our last backpacking trip in New Mexico, I purchased this power bank to solve the problem. It worked perfectly. I used it to charge both my iPhone and Apple Watch while we were on vacation. This power bank can charge your iPhone five times and comes with four cables. This charger is not allowed on planes, so it’s best to save it for outdoor trips.

After watching the movie in 2016, we recently watched it as a whole family. The Founder shows how Ray Kroc, played by Micheal Keaton, went from a struggling, middle-aged, Willy Loman-esque salesman to building an international fast food restaurant empire through doggedness, ruthless cunning, and a dose of motivational Norman-Vincent-Peal-esque self-talk. Keaton is fantastic and the best scenes are the tension-filled phone calls between Dick McDonald and Nick Offerman, McDonald’s co-founder who was played by Keaton. Recently, after watching both this film and The Social Network, I have been reflecting on my own business philosophy. It is a paraphrase from the advice George Washington gave in delivering his farewell speech: avoid entangling allies.

Mr. Brightside. You know that I am a Killers die-hard fan. The 20th anniversary is the release of HotFuss by the Killers, which contains some of their biggest hits. One of my favorite songs to use as a PR boost-up for deadlifting is “All These Things That I Have Done”. But the song that has become a cultural touchstone, “Mr. Everyone starts singing Brightside as soon as it is played at any large gathering, such a a party or stadia. What is the appeal of this song over time? Mike Hilleary credits its universal theme of betrayal in romantic relationships and its sing-along structure. Listen to the song after you’ve read the article. Destiny calls you.

John Kay, Obliquity: How to achieve our goals in an indirect way. Although I read the book more than a decade before, its ideas still resonate with me today. In Obliquity economist John Kay argues that indirect methods are more effective than straight-forward paths in achieving big, complex goals. Kay says that adaptability, experimentation and flexibility are more likely to lead to success and happiness than rigid linear strategies. This book is full of interesting ideas.

Quote of the week

He who gives good advice builds with his right hand. He who gives both good counsel and good example builds with his left hand. But he gives admonishment and a bad example and builds with only one hand.

Francis Bacon

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My New Favorite Squat

I have done the barbell squat all my life. This is a great way to build strength in the lower body. I’ve also tried other squats: the front, goblet and belt squats.

This year, I’ve started doing the Hatfield squat. It’s my favorite squat.

This exercise is great. The traditional barbell squat was uncomfortable for me because of my cranky shoulders and knees. After years of frustration, the Hatfield squat made squatting enjoyable and productive after I tried to make barbell squats work for me. Hatfield Squats are also great for increasing quad hypertrophy. This is in line with my fitness goal to get more ripped. It has been a game changer in my training.

The Hatfield squat is a great alternative to barbell squatting.

What is the Hatfield Squat? What are its benefits?

The Hatfield Squat is named after the legendary powerlifter Dr. Fred Hatfield (aka Dr. Squat). It is a variation of a back squat that uses a safety barbell, which looks like an oxyoke.

The safety squat is placed on your back when you perform the Hatfield Squat. Instead of resting your hands on the safety bar, you can place them on an extra barbell or on a set handles placed at navel height on the barbell rack. You keep your hands on the barbell rack support as you lower yourself into the squat. This helps you maintain your balance, and a straight torso.

The Hatfield squat offers some unique benefits because of its increased stability.

Excellent for quad hypertrophy. The Hatfield squat is a great tool if you want to get legs that are as large as tree trunks. The increased stability of the Hatfield squat allows you to overload quads more than with a traditional one. You can focus more on the movement and less on maintaining your balance. This allows you to add weight or reps with greater intensity.

The Hatfield squat is great for squatting with injuries. Hatfield squats have allowed me to squat heavily again, despite niggling injuries I’ve had for years.

The traditional low-bar position made my shoulder pain worse because I suffer from shoulder tendonitis caused by bench pressing. I also struggle with shoulder flexibility despite all the time I spend working to improve it. You don’t need to hold the bar in your hands when doing the Hatfield Squat because you are using a safety bar. This completely relieves your shoulders of stress.

Hatfield squats have also helped me work around a pain behind my knee that I’ve been experiencing since 2020. Pain only occurs during the descent portion of a barbell squat. I have seen an orthopedic surgeon, and had an MRI done. But the source of my pain has not been identified. I think it’s an overuse injury to a tendon. The increased stability from the Hatfield squat, however, allows me to squat heavily and below parallel with no pain behind my knee.

Hatfield squats are also helpful for people with lower back problems. They allow them to squat without aggravating their injury.

Because of the Hatfield squats’ ability to reduce pain, I have also called them “Midlife Man Squats.”

This is an excellent accessory lift to the barbell squat. Hatfield squats don’t need to completely replace the barbell squat. You can also use the Hatfield Squat to supplement your barbell program. You could perform the Hatfield Squat on deadlift day for 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions to increase work capacity and hypertrophy.

You can also use the Hatfield Squat as a way to overload train in order to gain strength and confidence when lifting heavier weights. Do 3 sets of 3 repetitions using weights that are heavier than what you would normally lift with the barbell squat.

Here is a hypothetical program for barbells that incorporates the Hatfield Squat:

Lower Body Day

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