Digestable #24: Calm Yourself, Sleep Supplements, Adventure Club Report, Canada’s Indiana Jones, Currents vs Wind

Hi all! I’m back with another edition of Digestable, the short, weekly email where I share information, ideas, and what’s new with me. My summer hiatus was filled with adventures we need to talk about, like a road trip in Quebec and Ontario, summiting Achilles Spire, a header on a bike jump that resulted in a decent concussion … and a wedding!

In time we’ll get into all that, but here’s what I’ve got for you this week:

Use Your Vision to Calm Down: In this interview with Stanford neurobiologist, Dr. Andrew Huberman, I learned that in addition to breath, vision offers two-way communication with your autonomous nervous system. Here’s what I mean by “two-way communication”: it is commonly understood that your autonomic nervous system will subconsciously increase your rate of breathing in response to stress, but you can consciously calm your autonomic nervous system by slowing your rate of breathing. Apparently this type of two-way communication also works with vision (your eyes are an external part of the brain … gross). Your autonomic response to stress is to narrow your vision (tunnel vision), but you can calm your system by focusing on your peripheral vision. My personal observation is that posture – starting with your facial expression – is another effective way to communicate with your nervous system (smile during your burpees!). Other great tips from this interview:

  • The most important thing you can do to improve sleep is to expose your eyes to bright light (ideally sunlight, no sunglasses) for 2-10 minutes within half an hour of waking. This starts the biological timer for a couple of important hormonal cycles important to your circadian rhythm.
  • Melatonin supplements may wreak havoc on your sex hormones. Instead, try this supplement cocktail before bed: 50 milligrams of apigenin, and 300 to 400 milligrams of magnesium threonate, or bi glycinate, and 200 to 400 milligrams of theanine.

Adventure Club 21.03 Trip Report: Watch a video of the highlights and view photos of this unreal trip here. September weather in the Rockies was in our favor and we fit in 3-days of rock & mountain climbing in Banff National Park. A major thank you to my friends, their families, and my family for supporting these life-altering trips.

A History of Canada in 10 Maps: This book was a birthday gift from my good friend Colin. Don’t be deceived like I was by its boring title, it is a compilation of page-turner adventure tales disguised as history, and written by Canada’s own Indiana Jones: geographer, historian, and accomplished adventurer Adam Shoalts. This book was the perfect companion while I toured Ontario and Quebec this summer, but it interfered with my sleep when I couldn’t put it down. The stories included the ancient Vikings’ interaction with Canada, one of my favorite adventurers, David Thompson (hello sasquatches and cannibals?), and re-ignited my interest in Samuel de Champlain. This book brings additional context to the stormy early relationships between the Indigenous groups and the European colonists, and I recommend an unrelated additional resource while reading this book: Native Lands. Native Lands is a living interactive map that attempts to show the territories of Indigenous nations prior to their displacement. Shoot me a note if you have any primary source recommendations for Canada’s history told from Indigenous perspectives.

Concept I’m Pondering: The Current and the Wind by Seth Godin

“The wind gets all the attention. The wind howls and the wind gusts… But the wind is light.

The current, on the other hand is persistent and heavy.

On a river, it’s the current that will move the canoe far more than the wind will. But the wind distracts us.

Back on land, the current looks like the educational industrial complex, or the network effect or the ratchet of Moore’s Law and the cultural trends that last for decades. The current is our persistent systems of class and race and gender, and the powerful industrial economy. It can be overcome, but it takes focused effort.

On the other hand, the wind is the breaking news of the moment, the latest social media sensation and the thin layer of hype that surrounds us. It might be a useful distraction, but our real work lies in overcoming the current, or changing it.

It helps to see it first, and to ignore the wind when we can.”

Thanks for reading. If you know someone who would like to receive these types of updates I’d appreciate it if you shared it. Should you come across anything noteworthy this week please send it my way!

Yours truly,


P.S. Introducing the happy couple: my oldest son Ariel, and his new bride, Emilie. September 4, 2021! What a beautiful, emotional day.

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