Happy New Year, folks!

I almost didn’t publish this newsletter. Breaking news from yesterday felt more important. (It is.)

But you know what? To hell with domestic terrorists! I'd already written this, and we can’t let a few miscreants storming the castle walls yank our attention around forever. On with our lives and here’s to a new president and a different senate (yesss).


This Week's Newsletter:

My foundation for 2021, down with cold toes, a take on an old classic, and a fine art process.


A foundation of success for 2021


I’ve written before about how I approach the upcoming year by filling in the big rocks first: longer trips, events we’re excited about, projects I want to focus on.


With so much damndemic uncertainty in 2021, I’m opting to focus more on daily practices versus planning, well, anything! I’m simply continuing to use the personal checklist I created when the pandemic hit, a single page in a laminated sleeve that I erase each morning and start anew.


Checklist items – guidelines for a successful day - focus on the foundation of a healthy, balanced lifestyle (in my eyes, at least). Items include meditation, writing, music and language study, reading, and physical fitness like strength training, cardio or PT. (Doomscrolling didn't quite make the list.) I aim to complete it every day, but there’s no money on the line if I skip something.


Since it's New Year's and I can't resist, I’m also kicking 2021 off with a couple 30-day challenges: piano practice (scales, arpeggios and chord progressions for 10 min each) and 15 min/day of Italian language practice. (I'm using a calendar from this blog post.)


Beyond these guidelines, I’m keeping expectations low this year. The bigger rocks will fall in place when the opportunity arrives. Until then, I shall practice arpeggios!

Cold toes are the worst

A recent favorite life upgrade: toe warmers for winter cycling. They’re smaller than hand warmers and have adhesive pads, which means they fit in cycling shoes and stick to the top of socks. I don’t love that they’re single-use, but my dislike of waste is overruled by the discomfort of freezing feet. (I ordered mine from Costco, but Amazon has them too.)


Secondly, by far the best phone case and attachment system I’ve used is Quad Lock. It’s a slick mechanism that enables attachment to bikes, walls, tripods, belts, and (probably) spaceships.


I used their system for bike touring in Spain two years ago and loved it. The phone easily twists on and off a bike or tripod, but once it’s locked in place, will NOT come off during an activity.
BTW, I have zero relationship with either company!

Yup, it's winter in Oregon!

Transmogrifiers and spaceships

On New Year’s Eve in 1995, Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson dropped the mic and retired at the peak of his game with 2,000 newspapers syndicating his work. To this day, the comic strip retains its selling power and stays timeless.

My family’s well-loved, tattered copies of Calvin provided hours of entertainment. It wasn’t just laughter though: Calvin plumbed something deeper, a counterculture swing against normality, cubicles, the factory-like oppression of school. Aliens stood in for adults, wagons and cardboard boxes morphed into spaceships or transmogrifiers to allow Calvin to escape the humdrum banality of daily life.

I’m no newspaper comic historian, but Calvin and Hobbes seems like a pro baseball player at a tee ball game. None of the other comics even felt worth reading next to Calvin’s philosophical musings, his G.R.O.S.S. club, Spaceman Spiff, or other various flights of imagination. (Don’t even try, Garfield fans.)


Relatedly, I recently watched a brief series on YouTube called “Hobbes and Me.” In it, Hamilton star David Deegs occupies a slightly different (but no less glamorous!) role as Hobbes. (Guess which came first?) There are eight <1 min segments, each recreating a comic strip frame-by-frame. Check it out.

Behind the scenes with gyotaku

A couple weeks ago, I linked to some gyotaku art pieces that my friend Duncan created. Since then, he shared a video detailing the painstaking process behind those gorgeous prints.

I'm a little sad the ping pong table we sparred over is no longer in his garage to make way for his art studio, but I suppose it's a small price to pay for fine art!

That's it for this edition. Write out a checklist, read some Calvin and Hobbes, and let's see what the second week of 2021 holds in store for us...
If you missed it, here's my post from last week looking at how 2020 changed me.
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