Howdy Traipsers,

Spring is firing here, plus flowers and vaccines are popping. Yeeehaw.

Chelsea is home from her Idaho trip. To answer your pressing question, yes, our cat Oliver immediately ditched me for his true love. He’s an ungrateful little yowler.

The trial for which I (almost) had jury duty ended. Now I can talk about the case, a murder appeal hinging on whether it was self-defense or not.

The accused faced a life sentence, but this time, the jury acquitted him. “Sir, you’re free to go,” says the judge to the guy after he spent eight years in jail.

Wow, what does that fresh lease on life feel like?! Powerful.

This week’s newsletter:

Deep thinking, computer bias, picking the right road, and stunning nature photos.


A perfect spring day for a ride with my friend Jono. Soon, I'm dragging errr taking him on his first bikepacking trip.

In defense of thinking

For a long time, I always listened to podcasts or audiobooks while running, biking, or driving. The time felt like a waste otherwise.
I shifted my approach when I realized there wasn’t any downtime for my brain to process and synthesize the things I learn.

A recent article from Cal Newport,
In Defense of Thinking, further reinforces my decision to allow time for simple rumination.

He leads with a quote from Ernest Hemingway: “My working habits are simple: long periods of thinking, short periods of writing.”

The article's conclusion also hit home for me:

We cannot make sense of ourselves or the world around us without putting in the mental cycles necessary to wrestle this frenetic information into useful forms. Thinking — true, hard, energizing thinking — is not yet another healthy activity to add to a long list of such commitments. It’s better understood as a way of life; one that’s become even more radical in an increasingly shallow world.

However, my favorite takeaway from the piece came from the comments! One of his readers concocted this metaphor:
Thinking is the way the mind digests what goes into it. You can’t get nutrients by just eating food because the body has to process it for sustenance. The same seems to be the case for the brain. We have to think each thing through to get the best understanding.

Gender bias is alive and (un)well

I’m knee-deep in my Italian language pursuits. One of the similarities with other languages is that it’s “gendered,” .e. a chair (una sedia) is feminine, but a roof (il tetto) is masculine.
Other languages work differently. Hungarian and Swahili, for example, don’t use gendered pronouns for he and she. And when you feed a paragraph into Google Translate, the deep-rooted gender biases of even our computers becomes clear. “He builds. She sews. He teaches. She cooks.
Check out the full translation below. We’ve still got work to do, folks.

Here’s the Twitter thread that includes the Swahili example. (Discovered via the cool Exponential View newsletter. Thanks for the recommendation, Wes!)

Translation from the link above.

Roads to avoid in a van

Last fall, I drove up a steep forest service road in Oregon’s Elkhorn Mountains searching for a trailhead. At some point, the road forked and…changed. Backing down that off-camber, rutted road is the closest I’ve come to tip our van over.

If only I’d had the spring 2021 edition of
Adventure Journal! In it, they talk about the arcane naming system for forest service roads. The pertinent info: signs with horizontal numbers are ok for passenger cars, whereas vertically numbered signs indicate a road for high clearance or 4WD vehicles.

To sum up, vans + vertical signs = bad combo. Armed with this new info, hopefully my days of sweating profusely while backing up are over.

No thanks!

Just Another Day in a Tree...with an Orangutan

I can almost picture the winner of the 2020 World Nature Photos Awards climbing a tree and encountering orangutan coming the opposite way. *fumbles for camera* Tree traffic jams make the best photo ops!

Some real winners in there, including a seabird bird as big as a boat and a misty Texas swamp. And the songbird snagging a piece of thread. Oh, just go
look at them all already

Looking east from the crest of Elkhorn tipped vans required.

Thanks for stopping by Traipsing About! This week's takeaways: watch out for biased pronouns, look at forest road signs, and always pass orangutans on the left.

P.S. Ready for some new colors on the walls you've looked at all year? Paint it with your feet!

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