Thursday, January 13, 2011

Filthy is Good: Dirt's Alright for You

In 1852, Phillip Reis, German science teacher, began work on what he called his "artificial ear." His materials included a violin, a knitting needle, a cork, a coil of wire, and a sausage. With the sausage skin and the violin, he created the first microphone (for this, Reis must now be acknowledged as the inspiration for "MacGyver").

Reis' finished product, which he called the "telephon," didn't receive that much interest, probably because its capabilities were limited to a couple of musical tones. Twenty years after Reis invented his device, Alexander Bell filed for a patent for the telephone, and made bucketloads of cash from it.

Year later, someone thought to try Reis' device again, just to see if it still worked. Without even bothering to clean the dust off it, they fired it up. Surprisingly, the device worked. In fact, it worked as it never had for Reis--it worked as well as Bell's device worked, transmitting words.

Reis had neurotically cleaned his instrument with "Teutonic discipline." This is unfortunate, because it was the accumulated dust which, years later, made it work propoerly. If Reis had been a little less German, a little more tolerant of filth, he would have invented the first telephone.

Another thing you can blame on cleanliness: the recent invasion of bedbugs. States researcher Dr. Stephen Pretlove, "Something as simple as leaving a bed unmade during the day can remove moisture from the sheets and mattress so the mites will dehydrate and eventually die." Did you hear that, Mom?

Drunk Japanese scientists bring us another example of the rewards of squalor. While working on superconductors and simultaneously drinking, researchers happened to spill some booze on superconductors. They discovered that wine increased conductivity 62% and soju increased it 23%.

Another study finds that "eating dirt is good for you." It is especially good to make your kids eat dirt. Says Mary Ruebush, microbiology and immunology instructor in Why Dirt is Good, "Not only does this allow for 'practice' of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immune response what is best ignored."

All this suggests doing cyclocross is maybe not so bad for you.

Even the fashion world is getting into the unhygienic thing: JWOWW of Jersey Shore has introduced her new clothing line, called "Filthy Couture." JWOWW describes her personal aesthetic as "sexy Gothic." Among her first products is JWOWW Black Bronzer, a truly filthy product which gives one's skin that soiled, deep fried look. Speaker Boehner, apparently, shares JWOWW's "sexy Gothic" aesthetic.

If you love filthy music, look no further than Horace Silver's "Filthy McNasty."

And if you're looking for filth on the bike, look no further than Chad Gerlach. This guy hits at the filthy core of cycling--the savage, addictive quality of bike racing.

Chad Gerlach - Off the Street, On the Bike from CycleTo on Vimeo.

There are no crack addicts in triathlons.

And is it me, or does Gerlach's voice sound exactly like Lance Armstrong's?


Nick said...

not related to the instant topic, but a past one:

re: weight training -
i have been regularly lifting heavy weights (and doing plyos when a box is available) for about 2 months now. next week is the last of my current cycle. while i dont have a convenient power metric, i can tell you that leg strength = way up.

executive summary of unscientific one-man study: lifting weights makes you faster if you're doing it effectively.

Calvini said...

That's encouraging, Nick. My guess is that your body responds pretty quickly to weight training, so I would have anticipated you seeing some big gains.

I'd be interested to see (1) how much your 1-rep max has increased, (2) if your leg size (and therefore your weight) has increased because of lifting, and (3) your watts before and after your leg-strength increase.

The concern with lifting is that the amount of strength we gain isn't enough to counter the amount of weight we gain:

leg strength (t+1) - body weight (t+1) > leg strength (t) - body weight (t)

I've been lifting and have seen about a 20% increase in 1-rep max in squat. I'm not sure how this will translate to my FTP. I've managed to maintain the same weight, although I feel like my ass is getting big.

Anyhow, keep it up, big man, and lemme know how the strength translates to power on the bike.

Nick said...

my weight is up, but im not sure its the lifting; i think its the cookies.

well, i think youve made a bigger gain than i, percentage-wise. i think i will only hit about 13-14% increase (i'll find out next week), maybe a little bit more. my legs fit about the same in my pants (which is the only real metric). i also do not count watts, unless somebody wants to sponsor me a power meter.

anyways, it is more about the other things - i do a lot of lunges, and you should too. or shouldnt, if we're in the same category.

i also have no idea if it will increase FTP. my understanding of that is that it is more of an aerobic measure?

heres to throwing the weights around. keep it up.

Calvini said...

What's really interesting about 1-rep max is that it's correlated with 30 minute gains, not necessarily 30 second gains.

I'm lifting this year because I read this study which found evidence of this.

You're right about lunges--I think separating the legs replicates the pedal stroke more than squatting.

I also know that doing heavy squats, more than lunges, causes your body to releases HGH and other natural hormones that build muscle and repair damaged tissue. You can improve your bench, weirdly enough, by doing squats.