Entries by Dakota

Turbocharging 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 […]

Rediscovering the right side of my brain

As part of my quest to not only draw stick figures forever, I’m reading the classic book Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain. The section on brain development in children is fascinating. When we’re infants, our brain hemispheres are not clearly specialized for different functions. That “lateralization” for left and ride brain doesn’t […]

January Portrait Challenge, Days 1-11

I suck at portrait drawing for two main reasons: 1) it’s par with rocket science difficulty-wise and 2) I’ve put exactly three hours of practice into it in my entire life. Enough! January is my month to go from “is that a person?” to “hey, only the ears and chin are weird!” (Here’s week 2.) […]

Laughing with troublesome friends

Austin Kleon shared this 2-min video of Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama laughing gleefully during an interview. At one point, Tutu is asked, “What is it about your friendship that allows you to have this extraordinary joy?” He ponders a moment and says, “He’s always troubling me…” and then cracks up. I just love […]

Forget goal setting, invest in skills

Ah, a new year! A fantastic time to hate the old us: let’s whittle away our bloated physical bodies, quiet our ping-ponging minds, change our crappy jobs, and eat celery while taking cold showers and doing pushups. Meh. I don’t buy it. Can’t we just be happy with who we are and still be on […]

A year of T. Rex drawings

Here are all my T. Rex drawings from 2021. After all, what better way to tee up a successful next year than referencing dinosaurs striving and failing? By the way, the whole T. Rex thing started when I sketched a piece of Guatemalan art that Chelsea and I have on our wall. I randomly added […]

The power of sharing your thoughts online

Have you ever considered sharing your thoughts publicly via a newsletter, blog, podcast, or vlog? Based on my experience doing so, I can heartily say make. it. happen. Why? Well… Publishing Traipsing About for the past eight years has added so much richness to my life. Almost 100 newsletters and 200+ blog posts in, things […]

Here’s to the amateurs

In today’s full-tilt culture, amateur often carries a negative meaning. If a hobby doesn’t morph into a monetized side hustle, what’s the point? Take drawing, for example. I’ve always wanted to learn how to draw something beyond stick figures. To test the waters, I’ve sketched almost every night this year. Then I text a photo […]

Installing a DIY Gray Water System Under My Sprinter Van

For years, our Sprinter van’s “gray water system” consisted of a simple 3-gallon plastic jug. When it filled up, we’d haul the jug outside and dump it out. Usually discreetly, sometimes on an azalea in someone’s front yard. After I upgraded our batteries to lithium and moved them inside, we lost the space for the […]

Bikepacking Magic on the Colorado Trail

The Colorado Trail is the big leagues of bikepacking. Get ready for leg-thumping elevation gain, lung-emptying altitude, afternoon thunderstorms tossing lightning and rain at the passes, and remote, rocky terrain with significant consequences.  Oh, AND prepare yourself for a fabulous adventure you’ll never forget. We experienced no days I can label easy, but for determined […]

Sharing the Mental Load

At some point in the past decade, I read an eye-opening article about how mental load, the invisible labor involved in handling a household and family, is usually carried by women. It suggested that for those of us without it, mental load is the water we swim in, unseen and natural, the actions helping the […]

Bikepacking Hijinks on the Oregon Outback

The buzzing on Jono’s bike started shortly after we rolled onto a tooth-rattling section of the OC&E rail trail. The culprit: his Crocs were dragging on the rear tire. “PHEW, glad I didn’t lose those,” he said. “Hey, wait. Where’s my sleeping pad?” Losing a sleeping pad a mere 13 miles into one’s first bikepacking […]

Creating a Solid Piano Practice Routine

In June 2020, Chelsea surprised me with a thoughtful birthday gift: a digital keyboard. Starting from scratch, I’ve managed to progress from “where the hell is middle C?” to “hey, this is going somewhere!” When a reader (hi Kim) recently asked about my piano practice routine, I adapted my notes into this blog post. If […]

Ditching a Self-Bullying Mindset

I’m one of those Type-A people who enjoys filling a 30-day calendar challenge with X’s. Solidly motivating for me, or at least a simple reminder to practice my Italian! Recently I saw a challenge with a different take: a repeating loop of “do activity, get less awful.” (Paraphrased.) I found it funny…until Chelsea pointed out […]

Begone, 2020! Looking Back at an Intense Year

Good grief, how do I write about 2020 without sounding like a jackass? It served up so much: social unrest, wildfires, the election battle. Did I forget anything? Oh yeah, THE F’N PANDEMIC. Talking about what I experienced and learned this year feels self-indulgent when people are hurting and the damndemic rages on. Still, 2020 […]