Howdy Traipsers,
Spring fever around here! My first mountain bike ride of 2021, sunshine, garden seed starts... Winter ain't over yet, but we can dream.

This week’s newsletter:

Perceived reality, perpetual plastic, making fewer things matter, competitive classical music, and bike touring FAQs.


P.S. This Instagram clip is for all you KOM-chasing Stravaholics. You know who you are. (Thanks, Eric.)

The face of someone who missed riding his mountain bike.

My stereotypical iceberg is all wrong


We all know icebergs are submerged triangles with a protruding sharp point that rips apart unsuspecting luxury liners.

Err, not quite.

Try it yourself with this cool web app where you can draw icebergs and see that shape’s stable orientation is. It’s good for three minutes of entertainment. (Thanks, Marilyn). 

This made me think about how many things we take for granted. Similarly, my brain lurched when I learned that Bach’s work (and all Baroque music) was NOT composed for the piano. Because pianos didn’t exist back then, so Bach composed for and played on the harpsichord! (The twangy setting you try on a digital piano and then abandon.)

I love knowing we are surrounded by undiscovered surprises like this. Things we assume work one way, but we’re either a) wrong or b) seeing a present reality shifted from its origins. Come across anything like this recently?

Perpetual plastic

This visual representation of plastic in the world is strangely beautiful. At a distance…

Up close, it makes me wonder how there are so many green flip flops! And also lament the demise of well-designed products that last.

Plastic: 60% discarded, 7% recycled, 9% burned, 24% in use.

Make fewer things matter

In the same vein as The Minimalist’s Letting Go essay that I shared recently, this excellent article from reinforces that the simple life isn’t only about ditching stuff. It’s also about nonphysical life choices like personal finances.

Quick summary: if we create and follow a simple investment philosophy, we don’t need to worry about all the new-fangled stuff. Cryptocurrencies? Real estate? Anticipating winners in the electric vehicle industry?

Sure, people can and will make money with those things. We’ll hear about the next asshat Bitcoin bajillionaire. (Yes, fine, I regret selling my Bitcoin in 2013. That $1,000 would only be $612k today, whatevs.)

But there’s also power in sticking to a simple plan like index funds and holding tight. A rising tide lifts all boats – index funds will go up if Tesla is the first $10 trillion company.

As the author says:

Making fewer things matter helps you zero in on things that really matter. It also helps you ward off FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and sales pitches. FOMO and sales pitches always try to grab your attention by saying you’re making a mistake.

When you don’t mind making a mistake because you made fewer things matter, the sales pitches slide right off. You’ve made it when you can afford all the “mistakes.”

Read the full article here.

Competitive classical

Even for my piano-obsessed self, classical music is a rather staid, boring world. The Salut Salon ladies, however, are not. They throw down competitive musicianship - think four dueling banjos on steroids - but performing Vivaldi! A super-entertaining three-minute YouTube video. (30 million views can't be wrong.)

From the archives

The spring weather fired up my dream engine for bikepacking/touring. If you're curious about touring and maybe kicking around the idea of doing a trip this year (covid willing), check out my blog post with bike touring FAQs!

My 5-minute sketch from last night. Front wheel got a bit wonky, but I feel good about the perspective!

Thanks for spending some time with me. I bid you adieu with this quote from The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer. It seems fitting as we all anticipate a post-vaccine shift in our lives.

Going nowhere isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.
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