Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 292
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 292
Ron Howard, the famed director and movie star (“Opie” and Richie Cunningham, too), made a movie this year called Rebuilding Paradise. Hopefully, National Geographic will be allowing everyone to see it soon, but I was given a pass to see it.
Towards the end, the cameras take us to the funeral services of my brother, Phil. He was a proud resident of Paradise and dedicated his time, treasures and talents to building, then rebuilding this city. And, perhaps, the stress of “all of it” lead to his death.
It was difficult to watch. Tiffini and I can be seen at the funeral and I can see the strain on us. There is a touching moment when my daughter, Lindsay, wipes her eyes: I don’t think I have seen her cry more than a handful of times in her life since the age of two.
We celebrated the anniversary of his death the other day. I told this story to many, and I mentioned it on the page of faces:
When I was in the eighth grade, Phil, a senior at SSFHS, had his appendix taken out. A week later, at the halftime of the football game, the cross-country team ran a race. He ran the race. He competed as well as he could. The entire stadium was buzzing about “how in the world could Phil run with stiches in his side?”
Because he did.
When he died, Lizzie Johnson of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote this:
How much of Phil’s death can be attributed to the trauma of the fire, no one knows. But many people can’t imagine Paradise without him.
That is, in part, because Phil could be conned into anything — collecting cash at the ticket window before high school football games, dyeing his hair silver for his roles in the spring ballet, volunteering his time or his car or his movie collection. He did it, he said, because he loved his town. He would mutter and complain, so you knew it was a sacrifice, but he always showed up.
If you committed to something, you followed through. Phil believed in that.
(See the full article here.)
And that is what I think we are called to do:
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
I’ve been a little slow with posting content this week due to some unexpected international internet problems that have kept me from uploading any new videos this week, but we’ll be right back on track soon… I hope.
Episode 47 of the podcast did go live in the audio version though! Here’s the link to that.
I’ll be sure to get the next workshop up as soon as I can!
Have a great week!
I’ve been busy with podcasts. Pat and I had a nice conversation on simple steps to health and fitness.
Q and I discuss all kinds of things here. Enjoy.
We had a few issues with the internet, but Brandon cleaned this podcast up very well (thank you!).
Originally, I was just going to have this single article for this week. Just this one. I decided that maybe not everyone is as fascinated as I am with the gut biome. I will say this: I think the gut biome “stuff” might be the answer to many of the issues facing the world today (obesity, if you missed my point).
This first selection, frankly, amazed me as I read it.
Indeed, when Sonnenburg fed mice plenty of fiber, microbes that specialized in breaking it down bloomed, and the ecosystem became more diverse overall. When he fed mice a fiber-poor, sugary, Western-like diet, diversity plummeted. (Fiber-starved mice were also meaner and more difficult to handle.) But the losses weren’t permanent. Even after weeks on this junk food-like diet, an animal’s microbial diversity would mostly recover if it began consuming fiber again.
This was good news for Americans—our microbial communities might re-diversify if we just ate more whole grains and veggies. But it didn’t support the Sonnenburgs’ suspicion that the Western diet had triggered microbial extinctions. Yet then they saw what happened when pregnant mice went on the no-fiber diet: temporary depletions became permanent losses.
When we pass through the birth canal, we are slathered in our mother’s microbes, a kind of starter culture for our own community. In this case, though, pups born to mice on American-type diets—no fiber, lots of sugar—failed to acquire the full endowment of their mothers’ microbes. Entire groups of bacteria were lost during transmission. When Sonnenburg put these second-generation mice on a fiber-rich diet, their microbes failed to recover. The mice couldn’t regrow what they’d never inherited. And when these second-generation animals went on a fiberless diet in turn, their offspring inherited even fewer microbes. The microbial die-outs compounded across generations.
The following really got me thinking about how much more complex things are in life. Let’s continue to read:
The problem with the fiber hypothesis, however, has always been twofold. People who eat plenty of fiber seem to have a lower risk of many diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. But when scientists have fed fiber to volunteers, they haven’t historically observed much benefit. And this underscores the real mystery: By what mechanism does fiber improve health?
Soluble fiber is an umbrella term for complex plant sugars—including some polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, and fructans. The molecules consist of simple sugars linked together in long, hard-to-dismantle chains. If you dump a load of fiber—or microbiota-accessible carbohydrates—onto a colonic community of microbes, those that specialize in fermenting it will bloom. And they’ll start churning out short-chain fatty acids, including butyrate, whose smell you might recognize from aged cheese, and acetate, which gives vinegar its sharpness.
These acids, Sonnenburg thinks, are one of the long-sought mechanisms by which fiber prevents disease. Rodent studies suggest that as they diffuse into circulation, they stimulate the anti-inflammatory arm of the immune system—cells that help you not attack tree pollen and other harmless proteins—preventing allergies and other inflammatory diseases. The calming effect reaches as far as the bone marrow and lungs, where, as a recent Nature Medicine study showed, the acids reduced animals’ vulnerability to asthma.
As Justin Sonnenburg put it, “We have this unsupervised drug factory in our gut.” The question facing microbiologists today is how to properly tend to that factory.
Finally, a bit of an answer for you to use right away:
Years ago, impelled in part by their oldest daughter’s constipation problems, the Sonnenburg family revamped its diet. They threw out all processed food-stuffs, and began eating plenty of veggies and whole grains. They bought a dog. Justin Sonnenburg began hand-milling his own wheat berries for bread. He took up gardening. And when he compared his archived microbes from years ago with recent ones, he discovered that his microbial diversity had increased by half. “That’s a huge difference,” he told me, “as big as the difference between Americans and Amerindians.”
This has all exhausted me. I need to take a nap. Fortunately, Shane has helped us out.
Note- If you’re sleeping at work, hide. 😊
According to the sleep foundation, napping for 20-30 min will not leave you feeling drowsy or affect your big nighttime sleep.
The foundation describes three types of napping:
Planned nap- which involves dedicating time for a nap, and not waiting until you get too sleepy.
Emergency nap- (otherwise known as the Grandpa Simpson nap), when you’re suddenly fatigued, and you cannot continue whatever you’re doing.
Habitual nap- whereby you nap around the same time every day
Which one are you?
Health benefits of naps
Naps are of great benefit to most people, except for the truly sleep deprived or those who suffer from insomnia. They should reserve their sleep for bedtime.
But for the rest of us, the benefits are
Reduced fatigue (if you don’t nap too long)
Increased alertness (if you don’t nap too long)
Improved performance, including quicker reaction time and better memory (1)
Taking naps also helps people with social anxiety, helps preschool children pay better attention and improve mental and physical health of the elderly.
I get these productivity articles in my feeds constantly. Usually, the information is pretty lame, but this article ties in well with what my sleep expert friend teaches me.
“I’d say my number one tip is to get ready for your day, whether that be breakfast, journaling, meditation, or working out before looking at your phone,” Sophie Gray of WayofGray.com says. “I recommend being off of your phone for at least 30 to 60 minutes in the morning! I like to do this because I can check in with myself first, before checking in with others.”
Productivity gurus and the authors of Peak Performance, Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, also back this one up. The more time you can stay off your phone and not be distracted, the better. Getting your primary workout for the day done before the flood of emails, Instagrams, and text is going to make the day feel a lot smoother.
“This year has officially been the year of slowing down and learning to give myself what I need in order to thrive throughout the day with sustained energy and inspiration,” adds The Balance Blonde blogger Jordan Younger. “You could say I am a notorious overcommitter and a workaholic-slash-iPhone-aholic—who isn’t?—so I decided to get serious with my morning routine, to start to cultivate more peace and serenity in my daily life. I start each day with a digital detox where I do not look at my phone until I feel ready to be on and communicate with the world!”
Overall, I liked this article. This first sentence here that I share is a bucket of wisdom. Our job, as adults, is to stop acting like eighth graders (and, yes, I mean you, —-).
Somewhere around that same eighth-grade mark where we all experimented with being mean, we get the idea that believing in things makes you a sucker — that good art is the stuff that reveals how shoddy and grasping people are, that good politics is cynical, that “realism” means accepting how rotten everything is to the core.
The cynics aren’t exactly wrong; there is a lot of shoddy, grasping, rottenness in the world. But cynicism is radically incomplete. Early modernist critics used to complain about the sanitized unreality of “nice” books with no bathrooms. The great modernist mistake was to decide that if books without sewers were unrealistic, “reality” must be the sewers. This was a greater error than the one it aimed to correct. In fact, human beings are often splendid, the world is often glorious, and nature, red in tooth and claw, also invented kindness, charity and love. Believe in that.
That should be enough for a week. Next week, I hope to be eating my tomatoes from my garden and I hope to happily report to you that I continue to train daily, maintain my relationships and strive to make the world a better place.
I got to “show up.”
Until then, let’s all keep on lifting and learning.
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 145
“What are you doing?” asked the Wart.
Even as he asked, Archimedes was gone. First there had been an owl talking about plover, and then there was no owl. Only, far below the Wart, there was a thump and a rattle of leaves, as the aerial torpedo went smack into the middle of a bush, regardless of obstructions.
In a minute the owl was sitting beside him again on the branch, thoughtfully breaking up a dead sparrow.
“May I do that?” asked the Wart, inclined to be blood-thirsty.
“As a matter of fact,” said Archimedes, after waiting to crop his mouthful, “you may not. The magic mouse which turned you into an owl will be enough for you—after all, you have been eating as a human all day—and no owl kills for pleasure. Besides, I am supposed to be taking you for education, and, as soon as I have finished my snack here, that is what we shall have to do.”
“Blood-thirsty.” “No owl kills for pleasure.”
That’s a powerful lesson. Throughout the rest of our books in the White tetralogy, we will see that King Arthur (our Wart) finds ways to avoid murder and slaughter. In The Book of Merlyn, Arthur is willing to give up literally everything to avoid war.
I grew up in a military home. My mother feared that “knock on the door” while my brothers were in Vietnam. Frankly, those years of deployments were awful for our family.
Arthur was right in The Book of Merlyn. But, as we all know, youth’s hot blood (with a nod to my good friend, Dan Martin). This is small, but important, lesson for Wart. As we move back to the original sources in the next few sentences (the 1958 version has the Geese story), please note the vision of history that White is about to share with us. The geese certainly give us a strong anti-war vision, but I think it is better in The Book of Merlyn (along with the ants).
Next week, we meet a Goddess.
DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications
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