I’m starting to feel like an optimist

And I typed that title with trepidation. I’ve been saying forever, “You know what you call an optimist with experience? A realist.” I suppose at some point in the past, I must have had the rosy-eyed optimism of youth— but I don’t really recall that. Also at some point, I realized I had a solidly pessimistic position. I simply spent too much time dealing with broken technology; technology is always broken. I always seemed to end up having to fix it. But lately, my mood has certainly shifted. Is that because my “outlook” shifted, or is it vice versa?

The first time I saw speculative futures used to shape cities, I was standing on the work. It was an April evening years ago, and I was headed to a client meeting. I hustled from my car toward the building in question, my arms full of rolled paper, when I noticed a series of questions chalked in block letters on the sidewalk below my feet.

~ Johanna Hoffman from, https://longnow.org/ideas/02022/10/10/speculative-futures-cities-design/

I once QM’d 2km across the Williamsburg bridge. A fellow adventurer had started the morning by buying a croissant with the express intent of not eating it. (Aside: In the French origins or Parkour, they used to say [but in French of course] “…it’s okay, head home, put your feet up, and have a croissant.” As a way of hazing each other into pushing themselves a little harder.)

We had each taken a piece of sidewalk chalk with us. When we were ready to quit (ie, stand up and walk) we planned to write our “excuse” for stopping on the bridge pathway… and then continue on in QM, moving over and beyond our excuse.

I was over the middle of the river, pretty alone, in the chilly October drizzle. And thinking about quitting. And thinking about getting out my chalk… when I crawled—inconceivably! since the pathway is like 12 feet wide—directly over a freshly chalked hashtag… I was so tired I didn’t look up to read, I just stared straight down and read it as I crawled along what had been written…


It made me laugh. It reminded me that my friends were there too. It reminded me why we were doing the challenge. Thank you Kristen. I hope you read this.



At first, the inherent unimportance of these pursuits coupled with the grueling commitment required to attain them seem at odds: Why set a target and spend so much effort on something that doesn’t matter? But a good meaningless goal is an act of protest against the self-optimization hamster wheel. It subverts the cult of productivity by sneakily leveraging the tools of productivity.

~ Gloria Liu from, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2022/07/set-goals-meaningless-trivial/670476/

Someone recently used the phrase “QM’ing to Valhalla” in a conversation I was having. (I’m pretty sure it’s in a Movers Mindset podcast, but I fear it may have been part of a conversation before we were recording.) Everyone who does the movement thing I love, chuckles at this phrase. There’s a lesson buried deep inside of the culture of effort which you only learn when you really try to QM to Valhalla.

To unpack the joke a bit. First, “QM” is short for quadrupedal movement; Movements where your hands and feet are supporting you (and sometimes, but usually not, your knees.) All QM is hard work, and excellent exercise. QM is great for a workout or a warmup. Second, of course, Valhalla is the hall of Norse mythology where one might end if one died in battle. So to some degree “QM’ing to Valhalla” is also about imagining oneself in some battle with… I dunno. It all seems quite wrong-headed when I try to actually explain it.

So why then, Craig, are you on your hands and feet crawling across the Williamsburg bridge?! Answer: I’m, apparently, trying to QM to Valhalla. When I heard the phrase, it was immediately clear that it doesn’t have to be literally QM. The phrase also applies to other pointless goals of mine. For example, I once tried to do 10,000 repetitions of 5 “simple” activities within one calendar year, and once tried to do something active for 100 straight days.

I can’t say I’ve given up pointless goals, but it feels like I have. Maybe I’ve learned the lesson? Although, if I did learn the lesson, then I should be able to explain it. I’m not sure if the lesson is that Valhalla doesn’t exist, or that you can’t get there solely by hard work.


Quadrupedal Movement

(Part 71 of 72 in series, My Journey)

Quadrupedal Movement (QM) is a diverse collection of movements using both hands and feet on the ground to support one’s weight.

QM is almost always done using just the feet, and not the knees, since our knees are not capable of taking prolonged usage or impact. That said, there are some small-size, low-impact, movements using various surfaces of the knees, lower legs, buttocks, and thighs which integrate well with the usual hands-and-feet-only QM.

There are countless variations of QM. Many variations are physically demanding, but many are drastically easier than the more usual bipedal movements: Using a railing with your hands for balance and support as you ascend stairs, using walking sticks and canes, and “scrambling” on hands and feet up steep slopes, are all common variations of QM.

Start here https://gmb.io/locomotion/

…and then take a look at some advanced options, Two Hours and a Slab of Concrete.


Meta: I’m retiring this series, “My Journey.” Over the years, my blog has changed a lot. In the beginning I had a lot of more random things here and I used this series as a way to highlight this aspect of my blog writing. Today, the blog itself is basically a record of my journey.

Knuckle walkers

Walking on your knuckles is absolutely as odd as walking bipedally, a very peculiar way to get around. It doesn’t make sense, and it’s bothered anthropologists for years. Only chimps and gorillas do it. No one has come with the reason why—until now.

~ from https://phys.org/news/2018-03-humans-knuckle-walkers.html

Having done quite a bit of walking on all-fours (aka “quadrapedie movement”, QM) I consider myself well-informed on this topic. Here’s my take:

Walking on knuckles sucks, but it is almost far superior to walking on the flat, open hands. Why does it suck? Because we humans are missing the fat pads (check the balls of your feet, and palm-side of your hand knuckles) that the Great Apes have on the back of their knuckles. When I walk on my knuckles in QM — and I do do that — I have to be very careful not to injure my knuckles. But in grass, it is delightfully more comfortable then flat, open hands. On your knuckles, the wrist is neutrally positioned and the wrist muscles are naturally activated, but not overly strained. The upper arm is easily kept inwardly rotated keeping elbows rotated/tucked rearward for a strong shoulder position. Meanwhile the forearm offers a nice range of rotation allowing comfortable hand placement.

Take a few steps on your knuckles and you cannot help but feel like a gorilla. rrr rrr RRR!


Day 97/100 – ring a’ ding ding

(Part 100 of 104 in series, 100 Days of Training (2017))

Variation of the 15 minute drill, on rings. Do about 15 seconds of effort every minute, for 15 minutes. Variations: Strict pushups with both hands in the rings; knee pushups both hands in rings; strict pushups with ONE hand on floor; static plank (high and low versions) with both hands in the rings; “clocking” where you move your hands symetically as far from the neutral position; good old pushups to failure on the ground to finish.


Crossing the Williamsburg Bridge

(Part 1 of 12 in series, Williamsburg Bridge QM challenge)

Having carefully examined every inch of the pedestrian pathway on the Williamsburg Bridge, I can authoritatively state that it is in fact, VERY long. When I stood up after 2,000 meters of quadrapedie-movement, I could hardly believe it was over! Two kilometers turned out to be possible!

The entire bit of madness started after I mentioned to several people I might be heading into NYC/Brooklyn on a particular weekend in October. Unfortunately, my plans changed and I forgot to tell Jesse.

As the weekend approached, he sent me a message, “I’ve been thinking of some good physical challenges for when you’re here…” I was just thinking, “Oops, I forgot to tell him I’m not coming into the city that weekend.” When he followed with an upbeat, “Let’s QM across the Williamsburg Bridge on Saturday!”

Now in my defense, I was feeling a little guilty that he had spent time thinking about a visit that I had to abort, and my train of thought went off the rails like this:

The problem with my schedule is that I need to be home by about 3pm on Saturday…
…actually, that gives me until about 1pm to do some QM in the city on Saturday…
…so if I went in Friday, and if we started early enough…
…sure, a little QM in the morning would be fun…
…and October’s weather has been so beautiful…

“Ok, sure! I’m in. Let’s do it!”

…and then I looked up the Williamsburg Bridge on Wikipedia, learned it was 2,200 meters long, and thought, “I have made a terrible mistake.”


Tower two. Oof!

(Part 8 of 12 in series, Williamsburg Bridge QM challenge)

Second tower…


1,800 feet

I went for a 45 minute walk this morning! In QM. Went about 1,800 feet (~555 meters). No standing up, just resting in a squat. This is part of a challenge some friends and I will be trying next weekend (Saturday 22nd). We’re going to attempt to bear-crawl across the Williamsburg Bridge from Brooklyn to NYC. :) If anyone in the area wants to come out and lumber over the East River with us, it’ll be in the morning and we’ll make a Facebook event for it.


Moving forward

I really struggle with believing that small, daily efforts lead to long-term changes. On the treadmill of life, I always seem to want to start sprinting to get ahead, especially when the treadmill picks up speed working against me. I find little injuries or other setbacks are really demoralizing. Curiously, I don’t seem to be demoralized by the things I’m not yet able to do. (“Scale that wall? meh. Some day, maybe, not really a major concern though.”)

So any time I manage to go to a class, or an event, or a simple workout, or a run, or whatever… and I put in solid effort without injurying myself or pushing anything too far (pushing “too far” is for special occasions ;) …well, after those workouts, then I really feel vindicated and motivated to continue my journey.

This morning I managed to get up, get out the door, run and do my QM work alone. It was nothing major; Just a half hour of easy running and a half hour of “easy” QM.

It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.

~ Rocky Balboa