What I learned this week, January, 22, 2021


Human beings find comfort in certainty. We form governments, make calendars, and create organisations; and we structure our activities, strategies and plans around these constructs. These routines give us the satisfaction of knowing that, by having a plan, there’s a means of it coming to fruition.

But there’s another force, constantly at play in life, that often makes the greatest difference to our futures: the ‘unexpected’ or the ‘unforeseen’. If you think about it, you already look out for the unexpected every day, but perhaps only as a defence mechanism. For example, whenever you use a pedestrian crossing on a busy road, you look out for the unexpected driver who might race through the red light. That ‘alertness’ to, or awareness of, the unexpected is at the centre of understanding the science of (smart) luck and exploiting it to your benefit.

How to be lucky

Lucky Dogs cart – Bourbon Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

For others, however, commuting may have been a ritual that was critical for their mental health and work-life balance. Enter the rise of the “fake commute,” wherein people replace that daily transition with walks, runs, bike rides and more.

The rise of the fake commute, and why it’s good for your mental health

My commuter bike

A coronavirus pandemic forced the whole enterprise to announce its priorities, which are even more skewed than we realized. There are thousands of people working in college athletics with excellent priorities, of course—people who value academics, relationships, integrity and personal growth. But those are not the qualities the NCAA system rewards. College sports, purportedly a celebration of amateur athletics, are an exercise in big squashing little: large conferences whipping small ones, and revenue sports hogging resources from nonrevenue sports.

It Took a Pandemic to See the Distorted State of College Sports


David and I looked at each other, simultaneously realizing that the after-school special we thought we were in was actually a horror movie. If the medical industry was comprehensively broken, as Norman said, and the media was irrevocably broken, as we knew it was … Was everything in America broken? Was education broken? Housing? Farming? Cities? Was religion broken?

Everything is broken.

Everything Is Broken

Broken Concrete and Rebar, Dallas, Texas

The next time you’re feeling “motivated” — either right now or later this week to either either write a book, start a business, go to the gym, learn a language, or a skill — use the motivation wave to your advantage.

Make a list of everything you need to get in order to accomplish your goal. Then, sketch out a rough outline of your fail-proof system that’ll help you follow through.

When you put structures in place, you are likely to follow through.

How to Build Better Lifelong Habits


Sculpture by Jason Mehl, The Cedars, Dallas, Texas

As it turns out, the science supports a totally different and ultimately empowering message: Trying to predict how a child will turn out based on choices made by their parents is like trying to predict a hurricane from the flap of a butterfly’s wings.

Why parents should stop blaming themselves for how their kids turn out

Nick reading Harry Potter.
Nick reading Harry Potter. Is this the first one?

Never too much Postmodern Jukebox and always good to have more Morgan James

Short Story of the Day, The Strange Story of the World by Chigozie Obioma

Papa did not surrender. He fought his slide into poverty as if he were fighting something supernatural, a demon.

― Chigozie Obioma, The Strange Story of the World

Rodeo Goat, Dallas, Texas

The Strange Story of the World by Chigozie Obioma

from Granta

Short Story of the Day, Standard Loneliness Package by Charles Yu

We draw closer for a moment.

Why won’t you just love me, I ask her.

She says it’s not possible to make someone feel something.

Even yourself, she says.

Even if you want to feel it.

― Charles Yu, Standard Loneliness Package

Transcendence, on the first night.

In perusing the interwebs I came across a nice list of ten online long(er)-form short stories. So I’ll test the patience and attention span of everyone in this best of all possible worlds and slide away from flash fiction for a while.

It’s hard to believe that it was almost eight years ago that I read How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu and wrote a blog entry about it.

Standard Loneliness Package by Charles Yu

from Lightspeed Magazine

Short Story of the Day, The Faery Handbag by Kelly Link

“We had this theory that things have life cycles, the way that people do. The life cycle of wedding dresses and feather boas and t-shirts and shoes and handbags involves the Garment District. If clothes are good, or even if they’re bad in an interesting way, the Garment District is where they go when they die. You can tell that they’re dead, because of the way that they smell. When you buy them, and wash them, and start wearing them again, and they start to smell like you, that’s when they reincarnate..”

― Kelly Link, The Faery Handbag

Main Street Park Dallas, Texas

In perusing the interwebs I came across a nice list of ten online long(er)-form short stories. So I’ll test the patience and attention span of everyone in this best of all possible worlds and slide away from flash fiction for a while.

I’ve been a huge fan of Kelly Link for a long time and have written about her stories before. She writes these weird adult fairy tales – stories of a world with one foot in our own and another foot, plus two hands and a head, in a fantastic and sometimes scary alternate dimension. These should be read to kids, to insure they grown up nice and insane.

Today’s story The Faery Handbag, won the 2005 Hugo Award for Best Novelette, the 2006 Nebula Award for Best Novelette, and the 2005 Locus Award for Best Novelette. It was also nominated for the 2005 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. And the author has posted it on her website just so you can read it and enjoy it free of charge. This is truly the best of all possible worlds.

The Faery Handbag by Kelly Link

from Small Beer Press

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Cinders by D. J. Moore

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

― Neil Gaiman, Coraline

Sightings: Mai-Thu Perret Nasher Sculpture Center Dallas, Texas

Cinders by D. J. Moore

from Every Day Fiction

Short Story of the Day, Flash Non-Fiction, The Boy Who Drew Cats by Jesse Lee Kercheval

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

Six Persimmons by Muqi Fachang

The Boy Who Drew Cats by Jesse Lee Kercheval

from Brevity

Short Story of the Day, (very, very, short) Flash Fiction, The Best A Man Can Get by Steven Arcieri

“Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”
― James Joyce, Ulysses

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

I hate when this happens:

The Best A Man Can Get by Steven Arcieri

from Hobart

What I learned this week, January, 15, 2021

Artwork in the Braindead Brewing Company, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

On Getting Rejected a Lot (and Liking It)


You can (and should) train yourself to sleep on your back


Falling Water Fountain, Dallas Arboretum

The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything


3 Important Life Skills Nobody Ever Taught You



One vendor features tomatoes. The back of his slot is filled with pallets of tomatoes. Lots and lots of tomatoes.f

Gardening Fixes Everything


The Deep Roots of an Italian Song That Sounds Like English—But Is Just Nonsense

 

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Disclaimer by Jackson Arn

“This world . . . belongs to the strong, my friend! The ritual of our existence is based on the strong getting stronger by devouring the weak. We must face up to this. No more than right that it should be this way. We must learn to accept it as a law of the natural world. The rabbits accept their role in the ritual and recognize the wolf is the strong. In defense, the rabbit becomes sly and frightened and elusive and he digs holes and hides when the wolf is about. And he endures, he goes on. He knows his place. He most certainly doesn’t challenge the wolf to combat. Now, would that be wise? Would it?”
― Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Recycled Books Records CDs Denton, Texas (click to enlarge)

Disclaimer by Jackson Arn

from 3AM Magazine

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Floating by Benjamin Selesnick

“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Wrecked Car waiting for the decision – scrap or repair

Floating by Benjamin Selesnick

from Lunch Ticket