Entries by Dakota

Revisiting the same-but-not-boring

I clearly remember the first time I rode Tyler’s, a popular local bike trail. I walked some rocky uphill ramps, awkwardly landed jumps, and generally hacked my way down it like a noob. I still had a hell of a fine time. These days, I’ve ridden Tyler’s dozens of times and know every major feature. […]

Taking a big step toward my Italian citizenship

I’m gonna get an Italian passport someday In fall of 2020, COVID raged world-wide and forest fires burned on the west coast. Oregon’s air quality hovered between a smoking pack of cigarettes a day and Chernobyling people’s lungs. It was…not awesome. A breath of fresh air arrived via a second cousin who called my mom […]

The less stressful way to accomplish your goals

It’s almost a new year, which means it’s time for random strangers on the internet to offer you unsolicited advice on setting big goals. Time to join a new gym! Lose weight! Meh. Instead, here’s the low-key approach I take to achieve improvements in my life, calendar turnover be damned. It works for anything, be […]

Designing my perfect day

Recently a friend mentioned their goal of aiming to create perfect days. Not an indulgence-filled last day on earth (we’d eat too much cake!), but a repeatable, enjoyable, productive day that moves a life forward. A typical Tuesday. Like Annie Dillard says, How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. […]

How I learned to play piano as an adult

Two years ago, my wife surprised me for my birthday with a digital piano. I’d mentioned my desire to learn a few times and, ever the muse, she called my bluff. She was right. At 38 YO, I tumbled rapturously into the world of piano. The honeymoon phase is over, and yet I remain motivated […]

Building solid friendships (the right way)

During the past three years, two of my friendships blew up. One major reason sticks out: I started setting boundaries…and holding them. For instance, when I asked one friend if he could call me for a conversation instead of sending lonnng monologue texts, he responded, “I’ll call or text whenever I fucking want to.” Say. […]

A better side of envy

For a long time, I struggled with envy. People with money, people who took cool trips, people who did Ironman triathlons…color me jealous. Along the way, I (slowly) realized something: those people either carried baggage or made tradeoffs to achieve those things. Plus, as Joseph Epstein said, “Of the seven deadly sins, only envy is […]

Personality flipping

The Myers-Briggs test classifies personalities into 16 distinct types. It can help us understand why we are who we are and why we do the things we do. In college, my results were ENTJ: Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging… aka The Commander. Analytical, efficient, decisive, motivated to accomplish things. (And boooring.) This week, my results from […]

Before and after

Recently I found a 2020 photo of our backyard prior to our garden revamp. Crappy lawn, no plants, no wildlife. Today, it’s a veritable jungle with birds flitting about and bees bumbling flower to flower. A complete transformation…thanks to untold hours spent working our butts off. That got me thinking about before/afters from other projects. […]

BS investing, or my crypto misadventures

After the recent crypto crash, I did a postmortem on my behavior. What started as casual interest and minor research in crypto last May morphed into me caught up in the wave of greed and irrational exuberance by November. I thought I’d left that behavior behind after dabbling with (ill-informed) day trading in 2007? Nope. […]

Bikepacking the Oregon Big Country route

Way out yonder in SE Oregon lies the Oregon Big Country bikepacking route. If you’re looking for a remote desert getaway, you’ve found it. Overall, I expected cruisy gravel roads, mild vertical gain, and hot springs to soothe bikepacking soreness. I nailed 1 out of 3: the hot springs were amazing. In reality, the Big […]

If this is 40, I want a refund

My first trip to the emergency room, I was a freshman in college. My appendix blew up, but modern medicine won. The following two decades were smooth sailing. My on-ramp for my 4th decade was a fabulous long weekend full of friends, tasty food, and outside time. A perfect start. Then last Friday I woke […]

Juggling It All

One of the guys I mentor is in life setup mode and is juggling an incredible amount of obligations and hobbies. When I observed this, he asked me to list them…and was surprised to hear such a long list. Yup. Sometimes we boil away in the pot and don’t realize how overwhelmed we are. This […]

Playing life like chess

How approaching life with a chess mindset helps focus us on achievable goals After enjoying chess in my youth, this winter I returned to playing online with friends. The nuances of the game and geometric beauty of the positions fire my brain up. Whoa, I sound like a chess nerd. YES. One chess concept is […]

Lessons in creativity from the great masters

I recently read the art instruction book Drawings Lessons from the Great Masters. Via examples from art legends like Davinci and Rembrandt, the author demonstrates how the masters approached creating art. My biggest takeaway: they rarely drew exactly what they saw. They’d leave out shade on an upper lip from a nose because created a […]

Tips for New Cyclists

The writer Austin Kleon posted recently about buying a bicycle (his first as an adult) and getting obsessed. He’s a total beginner, so he put out a call to his readers asking for tips. I’ve ridden my fair share of miles on a bicycle (30,000+ by last count), so I decided to weigh in. I […]

Hard choices, easy life

It’s been a full-on start to 2022 in Traipsingville. Drama for my business, tenant trouble in a rental property, a couple of minor surgeries for Chelsea, and more. Curveball after curveball. My dad reassured me that I’ve always excelled at hitting, but wow. Along with my “this is why I get paid” mantra, I also […]

Portrait Drawing Challenge Takeaways

My January portrait challenge taught me a number of things. The most important? I don’t ever want a job drawing just composers. Especially ones with wigs. Take a hike, Mozart. (Here are round 1 and round 2 of my month-long challenge.) More insightful revelations also surfaced. For one, our brains lie to us all.the.time. They […]

Boosting Your Foreign Language Learning with Anki

This tutorial on optimizing foreign language learning is for you if: You’re serious about learning a foreign language. You want an effective, efficient method with constant forward progress, not repeatedly forgetting what you learned. You don’t want to spend money on expensive courses and their magic promises. My Foreign Language Journey I’ve “studied” Spanish for […]

January Portrait Challenge, Week 2

My January portrait challenge continues! I know it was tough to wait an entire week to see who I’d draw next, but your wait ends now! Portrait party time. (Check out the first round here.) I still haven’t made the time to actually study how to draw portraits. I’m just diving in. However, I’m finding […]