This Mother's Day, while my wife straightened up and I reclined on the couch browsing Twitter, I happened to see an article ranking the top 10 science fiction mothers. On the front there was a picture of Linda Hamilton from Terminator 2, brandishing an automatic rifle and lookin' buff. At that very moment, my wife walked by carrying an armful of Nerf guns back to the kid's arsenal. 

Of course, Linda Hamilton in T2 is and my wife are different.  Sara Connor prevents Armageddon by fighting a robot from the future, after all. However, my wife does battle midget terrorists on a daily basis. Terrorists that can operate an iPad but, paradoxically, can't figure out how to put a plate in a dishwasher. So, there a lot of similarities there too.

In the end, I came to this conclusion:

And, I was just kidding about loafing on the couch while my wife was doing housework. I was actually on a chair.

AuthorTodd Zarwell

Well, I'm going to compete in a Crossfit competition in one week! God help me!

My coaches and teammates (PFD Crossfit - check 'em out!)  have been incredibly supportive. In theory, I was a college athlete: I ran track at tiny Ripon College, who's biggest claim to fame is the fact that Han Solo went there. One of the other noteworthy thing about Ripon was that it was the location of the Rippin' Good Cookie factory. Oftentimes long distance runners on the team would run to said factory and bring back a bag full of cookies for the team to snack on after track practice.

So, needless to say, I never developed the best pre-competition dietary rituals so I'm learning as I go. My coach Chris gave me a Word document full concepts like macronutrients and glycogen storage process. I've read through this a few times and I thought I'd share the main points with you here.



Water is the a critical factor in the glycogen storage process. The body needs water in order to store glycogen in the muscles and the liver. 




Digestion is king. You want to look to foods that are EASILY digested by the body. Digestion takes a lot of energy, and the last thing you want to do when you’re staring a competition in the face is thwart valuable energy to a bodily process like digestion. 

For example, rather than a whole banana or whole yam, use baby food variations of these items in the pre comp/intra comp protocols. Every piece of food that’s consumed first think about how easily it can be digested then transported effectively. 

Or you could do this . . .




Get lots of sleep. The week before the competition start getting 45 minutes more sleep than normal.

Yeah, that's easier said than done...

AuthorTodd Zarwell

One does not become a professional lawn mower overnight. All kids dream of the bright lights, the glory, the big contracts, but few are willing to put forth the effort required to make it to the big time.  

You don't have to start at a young age, but it helps. Take Aiden, for example. He started training at two years old and has already logged more hours than many people 10 times his age. His chances of making a traveling mowing team by age four are quite good. There, he'll refine his skills by competing against the best of the best and, by the time he's 18, should snag a lawn mowing scholarship to a top university program. 

And, with hard work, dedication, and a little luck - such as avoiding any career ending injuries - perhaps Aiden will be drafted by a pro team some day. Of course, going pro is a whole other level, but, in the right system complete with veteran leadership, good coaching, lots of film study, I'm convinced my boy could be a star. And hopefully he'll buy me a new house. Or at least pay off my school loans.

Check out the gallery below to see some of AIden's training techniques.


And, lastly, a video illustrating his dedication to his craft.

AuthorTodd Zarwell

Admittedly, a refraction (the process of measuring a glasses prescription) can be a little stressful for a patient. Sometimes it's difficult to make a choice, sometimes both choices look back, and sometimes you might even say "one" when you meant "two". People fear that, if they make one wrong decision, they're going to end up with a bad pair of glasses.

In truth, this should not happen with a proper refraction because it's a very sound process that starts by breaking your prescription into three parts, the amount of nearsightedness or farsightedness, the amount of astigmatism, and the axis (or angle) of astigmatism. For each part we show more and less amounts of power (or axis) until one of a few things happen:

  1. There's a clear cut best power.
  2. The choices start to look the same - This means we're splitting hairs so fine we that the changes were presenting are beyond the patient's threshold for seeing a difference.
  3. The flip-flopping begins.  If the answers are telling us "I want more power. No I want less power. No I want more power" we know that, again, we've narrowed the value down to a small range and we can't go any further.

In my humble opinion, the most helpful thing to do while being refracted is to limit your answers to one of three things: Lens one is better, lens two is better, or they look the same. It doesn't matter if the one you're choosing is still blurry, sometimes that's the case. We just need to know which is the clear-er of the two. The primary goal of everyone involved is to clear things up, but that might not happen until the end of the process. When we ask which is better ("one or two") we're trying to find out which direction we need to move our power - up or down, or which way to twist our axis, left or right - to reach our objective of getting the best possible vision. Most other information besides "one", "two", or "the same" is extraneous. "Choice one is better, but it's blurry" doesn't really tell us anything beyond the fact that we need to move the power in the direction of choice one. 

Optometrists learn to refract pretty quickly. Within a couple years we've done thousands of refractions and are quite proficient at it. We start to feel like finely tuned machines - if you say "one" we reflexively make our change in the instrument and ask our next question.

One thing that throws me off is when people don't tell me which choice they like, but when they tell me which one they don't like. On the surface it the distinction between the two seems insignificant. If there's only two choices, and you know which one is worse, then the other one is better, correct?

I was trying to figure out why this seemingly little thing seems to interrupt my flow so much. I was looking for something to compare it to, and I thought of another situation where you might have to make frequent choices between two options : Getting directions while driving. Sure, if someone constantly told me to "turn not left" or "turn not right" I could pretty much figure out how to get where I'm going but, the way my brain is wired, being told "turn right" or "turn left" is a lot easier for my brain to process.

All that being said, a good refractionist has to be flexible. To the best of our ability we need to educate our patients how to respond to our questions, and we need to alleviate their stressors and fears while being refracted. However, sometimes we just have to parse our patient's responses to the best of our ability and just do our best.

AuthorTodd Zarwell

When I click my keyfob to lock my car

I sometimes imagine that I'm an cool-as-ice action hero detonating a bomb

Of course, on seeing this picture, my wife surmised that I must be an 80's action hero. You know, due to the short shorts and the Schwarzeneggerian haircut. 

AuthorTodd Zarwell

A typical conversation with my four year old:

the boy: Daddy, can I have a snack?
me: But we just ate dinner. And then you had Jello!
the boy: But that was dessert. I didn't get a snack tonight!

At first I was confused, but I did a little research and learned that growing boys have an  anatomy that's a little different than the rest of us.


And they're not full unless all of their stomachs are full.

AuthorTodd Zarwell

OK, my body isn't that weirdly shaped. So why does it seem like I only have two choices when I buy a dress shirt at a normal-person store? My two choices seem to be:

1. A shirt that fits in the neck, but it's tight in the shoulders and has sleeves that are too short.

Sleeves too short

2. The sleeves are long enough, but the shirt is billowy and the neck is huge.

Neck too big
In essence, I feel like I'm being forced to choose between looking like a guy who's about to deliver a calf or a guy who's about to go wingsuit flying.

Historically I either wore ill-fitting clothes or went to Big & Tall stores, which seemed odd as I'm not big nor am I excessively tall.

And that's why I like shopping online.

Ordering a shirt online
AuthorTodd Zarwell