Howdy folks!

A mildly trying week here in Traipsingville. I van tripped it to the west side of the Cascades and a) hiked/biked through snow, rain, and mud and b) had my websites and company email go down while camped out with barely a whisper of a signal. Sigh.

I’m not superstitious, but continue to believe the fastest way to drum up business or stress test a system is to try to take a vacation. Maybe it's just me...

This week’s newsletter:

Bits of wisdom, illusionary art, drifting vans, connection vs. communication, and lovely melodies.


One of the joys of outdoor sports is dragging unsuspecting friends into situations like this. Barely an hour (out of four) in the snow carrying/pushing/cursing our bikes! Way to rally, Mason.

Unsolicited (and wise) advice

Last year, Kevin Kelly, the founder of Wired Magazine and all-around curious/fascinating guy, turned 68. He commemorated the day by sharing a fantastic list of unsolicited advice.

He dropped another list this year, but upped the game to 99 items. Here are three of my favorites, especially the first one:

• That thing that made you weird as a kid could make you great as an adult — if you don’t lose it.

• The greatest teacher is called “doing”.

• Show me your calendar and I will tell you your priorities. Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you where you’re going.

Related: My blog post What Would You Say to Yourself at 23?

Illusionary Art

Holing up in Siberia during the dark winters probably forces most anyone to view the world differently. Helga Stentzel escaped the dark winters, moved to London (hmm, also dark), and channeled that energy into playful illusions made of ordinary household objects.

I love the balloon art dog made of grapes and the toaster made of the bread it is toasting (so meta) made me chuckle.

(Via Curiosity Weekly.)

When I wasn't carrying bikes uphill in the snow this week, I had a chance to draw some flowers. (A poppy and zinnia, for the record.)

Drift That Van

Random subcultures fascinate me. The ones where I think, "how did THAT find a following?"
Dodge dajiban van racing in Japan (via Semi-Rad). For all you van owners who think “I wish I could race my van,” this video is for you. (It’s also good for people who think racing vans - or any vehicle - is stupid.) At least watch the first 15 seconds to see what a Dodge van in full drift mode looks like - skip the article and watch the YouTube video.

I’m sticking with driving my van like it’s a valued member of the family, but my dad does have an old Dodge van gathering rust up in Idaho... Time to create a van drift scene in Bend!

Speaking of racing vans, if you’ve ever wondered what the difference between off-roading and overlanding is, Adventure Journal has you covered.

The Worst Possible Use of Communication Technology

I continue striving to communicate using the right tools for the job. Recently, I joked with a friend about trying to use communication technology in the worst possible way for that medium. A couple of ideas:
  • Texting for long-form conversation about complicated emotional issues. (“Hey, how’s your divorce going?”)
  • SnapChat for business meetings. (“Now what did Tony say about that…oh right, it’s gone!”)
Which brings me, Digital Minimalism Fanboy that I am, to MIT professor Sherry Turkle's conversation-centric communication, which argues that conversation is the only form of interaction that counts toward maintaining a relationship. The conversation can take the form of a face-to-face meeting, or it can be a video chat or a phone call—so long as it involves nuanced analog cues, such as the tone of your voice or facial expressions.

Anything textual or non-interactive—basically, all social media, email, text, and instant messaging—doesn’t count as conversation and should instead be categorized as mere connection. In this philosophy, connection is downgraded to a logistical role. This form of interaction now has two goals: to help set up and arrange conversation, or to efficiently transfer practical information (e.g., a meeting location or time for an upcoming event). Connection is no longer an alternative to conversation; it’s instead its supporter.

All of this continues to reinforce my desire to eschew social media and use text and email only for logistical purposes and reserve For Realz Communication for phone calls, FaceTime, Marco Polo, or *gasp* in. real. life.


Traipsing About Archives: Shutting Down the Noise - The Results of My Digital Minimalism Experiment

I don't want anyone to think I'm being high and mighty about my tech use. I still get sucked into text "conversations" (though my friends know I'll likely call them after a few texts) and find it hard to limit my phone use. I suspect I'll always be figuring out the correct balance.

Relatedly, I wrote about my digital minimalism experiment back in 2019. If you're reconsidering your relationship with social media and smartphones, perhaps there's a useful takeaway or two in my stumbling about.

Another day on this recent trip - a misty ride in mossy old growth trees. No snow this day, hallelujah.

Thanks for stopping by Traipsing About! Reclaim that childhood weirdness, dress up your washing machine like a face, drift your van, and for sure SnapChat your next business meeting.

P.S. Apologies for not blabbing on and on about piano for a couple weeks! Vans and biking, yawwwwn - I know you're here for my piano obsession ;) Anyway, I'm digging and learning to play the melodic song Bluebird by Alexis Ffrench and also recommend his album Evolution (Spotify).

P.P.S If this quick clip of a parking lot full of Tesla's updating their software doesn't make you slightly nervous, you haven't read as much scifi as I have.

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