Cliff Notes For Life? Isn’t It Better To Read The Book? But Then “To The Making Of Books There Is No End, And Much Study Wearies The Mind”

I don't agree with everything this fellow AAA sufferer said, but then I couldn't understand a lot of it, however much math and physics I learned.

I don’t agree with everything my fellow AAA sufferer said, but then, I couldn’t understand a lot of it, however much math and physics I learned.

“Yes! She will wake again
Although her glowing limbs are motionless,
And silent those sweet lips,
Once breathing eloquence
That might have soothed the tiger’s rage
Or thawed the cold heart of a conqueror…”

by Trevor Morgan (my brother) – is she alive or dead, and couldn’t you just say that?

Hi folks, welcome to my thoughts on my brother’s latest comment.

I recently posted this brief statement:

The amazing journey of life on Earth and the creation of the Biosphere, upon which we depend.

The amazing journey of life on Earth and the creation of the Biosphere, upon which we depend, as we do upon our mitochondria and their many cousins, I’m sure.

“On my way to building mitochondrial mass, and with it efficient use of storage fat, via beta-oxidation and oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria, and carbohydrates (not too much of that except on long workouts and races, when I supplement Paleo with some carbs – been there, tried that!) via pyruvate, NADH and FADH2, and then the electron transport chain, as for fats.”

My brother’s response was:

“Can you pleas translate paragraph one into plain English it being the language that I speak?”

If only I could. Foretelling this linguistic dilemma, I recommended that my readers, especially those interested in endurance training (long races) and the role of bioenergetics (how the body handles energy generation, storage, use and waste disposal, most of the waste being heat), read Harper’s Biochemistry – very readable. I thought this was reasonable, it’s not very long and it is digestible.

How about this, brother dear:

“You can convert fat (grease in donuts, pork chops, dark meat, avocado’s, fish and chips) and starch (bread, pasta, beer, donuts, fish and chips, and more beer) into the body’s gasoline (adenosine triphosphate, a high energy store) efficiently with the aid of bacteria, called mitochondria, that live in your cells, resulting in your being able to go a long way on one gallon of biological gas when these pesky bacterial ancestors, mitochondria, combine this fuel with a poison gas, oxygen, that is present in the air that you breath.”  But is she alive or dead?

The Ancestor's Tale. A saga well worth reading, told by a master zoologist and communicator. From:

The Ancestor’s Tale. A saga well worth reading, told by a master zoologist and communicator.

A true understanding of our energy generating mitochondria requires an appreciation of the history of life on Earth, including the ancient invasion of our single-celled eukaryotic (organisms whose cells have one or more nuclei) ancestors by primitive (not really, they were extremely evolved biochemically and in other ways) bacteria, our mitochondrial ancestors. How to translate the history of life on Earth without some understanding of chemistry (which now needs quantum mechanics), physics and engineering (structural, chemical, mechanical and electrical), which can’t be done without some math, in addition to evolutionary biology and embryology, that leads to anatomy and histology, all working together to create an ecology through network behavior? You need a lifetime of learning just to scratch the surface of such things, combined with delight in the study of nature?

If Einstein is right, you can conclude that I just don’t understand my subject matter – but in this case, he’s wrong. The science language gulf is wide from me to you, and that for poetry (and probably many other subjects) from you to me – isn’t that what makes life interesting?

Rory, FitOldDog, and his number two son, Duncan, before the Mountains of Misery Century ride, 2013.

Rory, FitOldDog, and his number two son, Duncan, before the Mountains of Misery Century ride, 2013. Only two category one climbs, both of which kicked our butts.

How to explain the rigors of the Tour de France if you haven’t made a category one bike climb? I’ve done that multiple times and I stand in awe of those cyclists.

How to appreciate the beauty of a mathematical equation if you haven’t worked to solve a thousand problems?

How to appreciate the diversity of human thought if you haven’t dreamed in a language other than your mother tongue, or had thoughts in that language that you just could not translate? It’s an odd feeling that makes one want to learn a 1000 languages.

How to understand being in love if you haven’t been there? Sure causes lots of trouble, and that is a fascinating story of life on Earth, which is a complete mystery.

Excellent discussion of love and falling in love (limerance). Based on a PhD thesis, if I remember correctly (after 20 yrs). From:

How to understand poetry if it makes no sense at all? Or Top of the Pops for that matter.

Sometimes you have to go there, read the book, take a chance on new ideas, or just go for a walk and forget the whole thing.

Life is fascinating, and it sure is much too brief.

Did that clear things up?

I sure appreciate the question, as the questions are more important than the answers.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. I agree with you and Einstein, Kevin. And I also agree with this quote:

    “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
    ― Confucius

    In my profession of tennis coaching there is a startling ignorance about how to teach effectively through simplicity together with an equal ignorance about how simple the game really is to play. These misunderstandings result in millions of people struggling to enjoy and advance in this wonderful sport. It all starts with a general misconception that tennis is hard. It is furthered by the notion that to be superior something must be complex or difficult to comprehend. Nonsense. Here are a few random examples from a quick Google search on the question: “What makes the sport of tennis so hard?”

    The sport of tennis is so hard because of everything you have to do to become a great player.

    I don’t know about you, but it upsets me every single time I even hear someone use the word “easy” with “tennis” in the same sentence.

    Tennis is a very difficult sport.

    I started playing a year ago, and it was hard for me to pick it up, but i am a girl.

    Tennis is a difficult sport.

    it’s a very difficult sport, mentally and physically.

    It’s actually harder than it looks.

    Tennis is very difficult sport so this is the reason to have quality teacher.

    Tennis is such a difficult game to play. Not to play well, but to play at all.

    In the method of coaching that I use, developed by a former tour player and well-known coach, the basic precept is that “Tennis is an easy sport to learn”. For more read “Play Better Tennis In 2 Hours”. This method is effective for players of all ages and ability levels including top pros, not just beginners.

    The desire for understanding and to KNOW is one of man’s greatest motivations in life. It can get derailed, however through the “sophistication” of language, by the attempt to explain rather than be or do.

    “As we know, There are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know
    there are known unknowns.That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns,the ones we don’t know we don’t know.
    Donald Rumsfeld-Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

    I think Leonardo da Vinci put it better: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

    • Re Tennis: Bruce Lee made similar statements. I find that the backhand is no problem, forehand without stressing my rotator cuffs is hard, and the serve is the most difficult of all – apart from being in the right place at the right time.

  2. huh?

  3. Not my poem, try Shelley!

    • Yes, but is she alive or dead. Guess I pulled it from your site and so thought it was you. Erratum on the way – driving back from Cleveland. Cheers, Kevin

      • I think it is from a poem “To Harriot” his first wife who topped herself by drowning in the Serpentine or from Queen Mab

      • If Queen Mab then she is the fairy who brings dreams. So she is alive when we sleep and dead whilst we are awake…I think

      • Also as for the comment “couldn’t you just say that” the answer is NO! In poetry it is the way you say as well as what you say that added together convey emotion as well as meaning. It needs both side of the brain of the listener to be switched on!

  4. Tennis is easy. Hey, I really like that biosphere diagram.

  5. Kevin, look at the little sample lesson on my website and you will see how to overcome your issues with the forehand and serve. It really IS easy!

    • Hi Lucy, I won’t be playing tennis for a while, but I would really like to talk to you about tennis-induced wrist pain. I get a lot of traffic on that issue since writing about it. Interested in working up a blog post on that subject for this site? Cheers, Kevin

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.