Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 288
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 288
This week, I had an interesting conversation about the “Shelter in Place” with a friend. I was trying to be empathetic and, as always, I wasn’t doing a very good job of it.
I was listening to the issues of being home for “lots of weeks.” Of course, I didn’t want to point out that being in a safe home with plenty of food, water and entertainment wasn’t exactly the most brutal conditions humanity has ever faced. Jerome K. Jerome, maybe the most quotable author of all time, said “it” like this:
“Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need – a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing. (Three Men in a Boat (1889))”
Finally, my friend came around to the “And…how are you doing?” question.
I’m fine. Seriously.
And that got me thinking.
It’s not just that I accept Jerome’s “light boat” idea. I began to think back across my years on this planet and I realized something about my life that unsettled me a bit.
For clarity, if you think things are bad now, pop open a book on the mid-1960s. The nightly news included assassinations, brutal images of police beating protestors (of all sorts), Vietnam body counts (the weekly totals were trending towards victory), and a rising brutal crime rate…and let’s not forget the Mansons and the Zodiac Killer and the Boston Strangler and the…
We watched this as a family every night. In our house, you had to watch. The News was personal.
My family sent brother after brother after brother into the military and then off to Vietnam. An odd pall layers over the home when one of us is away at war. You expect the worst and hope for the best. My Mom cried daily although she was pretty good about hiding it. The word “Safe” comes from prayer (according to Cato…who should know) and I found myself finding safety in prayer.
Because that’s all I could do.
“Normal” in a home with a family member at war is eating, homework, chores, and play. It’s normal, but it’s not.
My normal wasn’t normal. But I was always safe.
Today, I am thinking about the front-line people who are literally risking their lives to help the sick. I’m thinking about those families (especially the Godfreys and Spillanes) who can’t properly say good-bye to their dead. I am thinking about all of you.
No. This isn’t normal.
But I’m asking you to be safe.
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
This week’s workshop is on the Quadrants. It’s been very popular so far, so be sure to check it out if you haven’t already.
Here’s the link to Episode 43 of the podcast.
We made a big update to the workout generator this past week. Week 4 is now a series of 30 / 30 for 30 workouts that should be a nice change of pace for everyone. We’ve built a timer to go along with the workouts that show you what to do next as well as give you beeps to help you stay on track. You’ll see it pop up after 12-rep week automatically.
We have more big stuff on the way!
Have a great week!
I’ve been asked to do a lot of podcasts. I will share them as they come in, but I don’t always get the follow up that tells me “Here it is!” So, here are two from this week.
Pat and I had a nice talk…again.
I hope you like this discussion, too.
Let’s go look around the web for some fun articles.
Oddly, I don’t like this whole article. But…well, I like it.
Books for when you want something familiar and accessible
If you want a classic that you can probably finish in about a day and still be able to get plenty out of, turn to the high school reading list staples: They won’t be very long or very dense, and plenty of them are damn good books. 1984, The Red Badge of Courage, and Their Eyes Were Watching God are all decent options here, but for my money, your best bet in this category is The Great Gatsby.
Reading Gatsby is like drinking a mint julep (“A crazy idea!”) and feeling it brace and refresh you as you swallow it down in long, lazy gulps. In terms of the effort-to-payoff ratio, there’s a lot of bang for your buck with this one. If you got through high school without reading it, now’s your chance. If you haven’t read it since high school, now’s the time to refresh your memory.
I learned to grieve standing with my Mom at funerals and gravesides. Sadly, as I type this, I have an unburied friend and an unburied cousin and, in total candor, we are asked to bury the dead. (Read the wonderful Book of Tobit for details). Grieving is something I have taught, studied and walked with. This article might help.
Something had changed. Griff now wanted to know, in advance, who it was that killed Dumbledore. “Is it Snape?” he asked. “Judah says that Snape kills him.”
“We just have to wait and find out,” I told him.
“Is it Draco? Someone told me that it’s Draco.”
“Let’s find out,” I said.
“Is Snape bad or good?” he asked, growing manic.
“It’s complicated,” I said, stumbling. He did not like this. Complication made Griff angry.
“Dad! Is he bad or good.”
“He’s good, okay?” I finally said, quietly. “He’s good, though he seems like he’s bad, and you’ll see by the end that he was good. I promise that he’s good.”
“I don’t believe you,” he replied.
So that night I pulled up Snape’s Wikipedia entry, and we sat in bed with the computer and he scanned the entire entry, spoiling whatever was left of Snape’s narrative. Griff wept loudly, without stopping, and I could not comfort him.
“I don’t want any of them to die,” he wailed.
I thought about these next two books, how many of the characters would die.
“We’re going to take a break from these books,” I told him.
“No!” he shouted. He was trembling now, his whole body vibrating. His teeth were chattering.
“We’re going to put them away and I promise that we’ll read them, just not right now,” I said, and finally Griff, still crying, his face so red, accepted this decision. I stroked his hair and leaned over him in his bed. After about ten minutes, he had quieted.
“I love you, Griff,” I told him. “I’m sorry about this.”
Griff was quiet for a second. I believed that he held me responsible for his unhappiness. I accepted this. It was perfectly reasonable.
“What are we going to read instead?” he asked.
Change your genes! It’s not just your pants anymore! I find this stuff fascinating.
“Our environment is certainly different than it was even a century ago, and it is not hard to imagine things like gene-culture evolution playing an even more prominent role in the future of human evolution,” Akey says.
His favorite example of recent positive selection is FADS2, which is thought to be an important dietary gene. Different versions of this gene are adaptive in different populations — depending on whether or not they have more meat or plant-based diets, Akey says. For example: In 2016, scientists discovered that, over generations, eating vegetarian diets caused a population in Pune, India, to display a higher frequency of a specific mutation on the FADS2 gene. The mutation allowed them to efficiently process omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids from non-meat sources and convert them into compounds essential for brain health — something people who follow omnivorous diets are not necessarily adapted for.
At the same time, the genes that control lactose tolerance are also increasing. As of several thousand years ago, the enzyme that helps people drink milk without getting sick turned off when people reached adulthood. But later gene mutations that sprung up around the world during a time period of between 2,000 to 20,000 years ago have helped people tolerate dairy well into their dotage. Researchers estimate that, in East Africa, that genetic change happened as recently as 3,000 years ago, as raising cattle became a larger part of human life.
Honestly, I am not pushing fasting. Really, and I think this is important, I share articles I think make me think! Right now, fasting (of all kinds) seems to be a key to many people’s health, fitness and longevity programs (and I include performance too), so it is great that research is exploding in the field.
As a human is fasting, the body has to switch from using food for energy to using the energy that’s stored in the body, in the form of fat and glycogen. Flipping this switch, in turn, kicks off a whole bunch of other metabolic processes that result in the compounds measured in this study. These include well-known byproducts of fasting, like butyrates, acylcarnitines, and branched chain amino acids, as well as a host of other organic acids, coenzymes, antioxidants, purines, and pyrimidines, which, the team writes, “appear to implicate hitherto unrecognized metabolic mechanisms induced by fasting.”
While some of these compounds peaked in participants’ blood and plasma at the 34-hour mark, others continued to rise for the full 58-hour fast, reaching levels 60 times their normal concentrations in human blood.
The implications of these findings aren’t completely clear, as the study was small and didn’t track the participants’ long-term health over multiple fasts, but the researchers say they point to several potential benefits of fasting. In addition to antioxidative defense, which helps protect the body against some of the long-term damage associated with aging, the study’s authors argue that fasting appears to enhance activity in the mitochondria — the powerhouse of the cell.
Complicating the picture, the researchers write that the body may actually be producing some antioxidant compounds in response to the dangerous oxidative stress that fasting can cause in the first place.
One thing is abundantly clear, though: Fasting really changes the body.
What’s the healthiest way to drink coffee? Study points to 1 technique
A new comprehensive study stacked brewing methods head to head and found one type of coffee is the healthiest fo…
In a recent, comprehensive analysis that stacked brewing methods head to head, researchers analyzed the health effects of an essential part of drinking coffee — how you make it.
One method came out on top: After following the health outcomes and coffee drinking habits of over half a million people in Norway for 20 years, the team found that moderately drinking filtered coffee resulted in the lowest risk of cardiovascular mortality.
Based on these findings, it seems that drinking filtered coffee (or drip coffee) is the healthiest way to consume the beverage. The scientists report that it appears to help people stave off disease and early death — and it may even boost longevity. Oddly enough, drinking filtered coffee could be healthier than skipping coffee altogether (whether or not coffee is “good for you” is a on-going debate).
“Our study provides strong and convincing evidence of a link between coffee brewing methods, heart attacks, and longevity,” Dag Thelle, co-author of the new study and a researcher at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, says.
This study was published Wednesday in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
In contrast, unfiltered coffee is the most dangerous brewing approach, according to this analysis. Unfiltered coffee methods involve letting coffee grounds sit for a prolonged period of time in hot water. It (perhaps, unfortunately) is a category of coffee that includes some of the most delicious brews: espressos, cappuccinos, Turkish coffee, and coffee made with a French press.
So…my crappy coffee while fasting is the secret. Got it.
That should be enough to keep you engaged for a bit. Until next time, keep on lifting and learning…and practicing appropriate sanitation!
For your quick access link, here’s Dan’s full OTP page, including all of his articles, books, lectures and videos, all in one place.
The Sword in the Stone, Part 141
Wart jumped for the sill and automatically gave himself an extra kick with his wings, just as a high jumper swings his arms. He landed on the sill with a thump, as owls are apt to do, did not stop himself in time, and toppled straight out of the window. “This,” he thought to himself, cheerfully, “is where I break my neck.” It was curious, but he was not taking life seriously. He felt the castle walls streaking past him, and the ground and the moat swimming up. He kicked with his wings, and the ground sank again, like water in a leaking well. In a second that kick of his wings had lost its effect, and the ground was welling up. He kicked again. It was strange, going forward with the earth ebbing and flowing beneath him, in the utter silence of his down-fringed feathers.
“For heaven’s sake,” panted Archimedes, bobbing in the dark air beside him, “stop flying like a woodpecker. Anybody would take you for a Little Owl, if the creatures had been imported. What you are doing is to give yourself flying speed with one flick of your wings. You then rise on that flick until you have lost flying speed and begin to stall. Then you give another just as you are beginning to drop out of the air, and do a switch-back. It is confusing to keep up with you.”
“Well,” said the Wart recklessly, “if I stop doing this I shall go bump altogether.”
“Idiot,” said the owl. “Waver your wings all the time, like me, instead of doing these jumps with them.”
The Wart did what he was told, and was surprised to find that the earth became stable and moved underneath him without tilting, in a regular pour. He did not feel himself to be moving at all.
This moment will “return” to us (Spoiler Alert!) when Wart pulls the sword from the stone.
“Don’t work like a stalling woodpecker,” urged a Tawny Owl affectionately. “Keep up a steady effort, my duck, and you will have it yet.”
Throughout our book, lessons are piled on lessons. True, we are about to enter two of the more wonderful dreams (or whatevers…honestly, it’s hard to explain the magic sometimes) but, on our way there, White tosses in a flying lesson…for those of us who transform into owls.
White has a way of getting us in the air with Wart and Archimedes. Yes, certainly, just call it “good writing,” but my imagination sails up and down with Wart as Archimedes tries to get him to fly right.
White has a magical ability to write right.
DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications
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