Sunday Snippet, Mall from Hell by Bill Chance

“Civilized life, you know, is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. The trouble is we forget after a while that they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us.”

― J.G. Ballard

Toad Corner, Dallas Arboretum

Mall from Hell

He dreams of a shopping mall from hell
At the center, the intersection of walkways
Is a lobotomy kiosk
Crowned with a shiny silver
Ball peen hammer
Youths with untied shoes
Line up in front of the food court
Where the famous
Deep Fried Toad Dicks on toothpicks
Are cooked and served up by
Lolita in a paper hat

Why Omicron?

“Remember your name. Do not lose hope —what you seek will be found.”
― Neil Gaiman

You have all been reading about the Omicron variant – the stock market plunged Friday on fears of another virus sweeping the world.

But why Omicron? They have been working their way down the Greek Alphabet. They skipped over Xi. And when I say “they” – I mean the WHO.

It’s not hard to figure out why.

What I learned this week, November 26, 2021

A group of friends in front of the Dallas Museum of Art, night, long exposure

How To Navigate Friendship As An Adult

I’ve been thinking about friendship a lot lately—forming new ones, strengthening old ones, letting go of broken ones. I’ve been thinking about it a lot because I’m of the age where my friends are entering into different areas of their lives: getting married, buying houses, considering having kids. And, as such, it feels harder to maintain the same connection we had when we weren’t bogged down by responsibility.


Worshipping a New God.
Worshipping a New God.

On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant

In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century’s end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There’s every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn’t happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.


One of the cool things is that you could go down into a pit area and look at what was left of the vehicles after they ran their race. If their was enough left in one piece you could even sit in the driver’s seat and get your picture taken. Or you could talk to the drivers. For some reason this driver, from a cheese-wedge shaped car that made it down quickly in one piece, seemed very popular in the pits.

Good conversations take time and attention. Here’s how to have better ones

Having good conversations — with strangers or with your closest friends — is an art. It requires attention, something that’s in high demand these days.

Celeste Headlee has spent her adult life talking. She’s a longtime radio and podcast host, and even did a TED Talk about how to have a good conversation. But she says she was terrible at talking to people when she was younger.

Here are her biggest pieces of advice:


TV

The Science Behind Why We Procrastinate—and How to Stop the Cycle

From making a doctor’s appointment to doing speedwork, new research digs into the reason we put things off.


Electric bicycles, better known as e-bikes, have moved from novelty to mainstream with breathtaking speed. They’ve been a boon to hard-working delivery persons during the pandemic (and their impatient customers), and commuters who don’t care to be a sweaty mess when they arrive. And while the scoffing tends to center around the “purity” of cycling—the idea that e-bike riders are somehow lazy cheaters—that electric assist is actually luring people off the couch for healthy exercise. That’s especially welcome for older or out-of-practice riders (which describes a whole lot of folks) who might otherwise avoid cycling entirely, put off by daunting hills or longer distances.


The Many Lives of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”

Leonard Cohen in London in June 1974.
Leonard Cohen in London in June 1974. Michael Putland/Getty Images

In the late 1970s, Leonard Cohen sat down to write a song about god, sex, love, and other mysteries of human existence that bring us to our knees for one reason or another. The legendary singer-songwriter, who was in his early forties at the time, knew how to write a hit: He had penned “Suzanne,” “Bird on the Wire,” “Lover, Lover, Lover,” and dozens of other songs for both himself and other popular artists of the time. But from the very beginning, there was something different about what would become “Hallelujah”—a song that took five years and an estimated 80 drafts for Cohen to complete.


Smoke, steam, and sulfur dioxide coming out of the volcano, Masaya, Nicaragua.

We All Nearly Missed The Largest Underwater Volcano Eruption Ever Detected

She was flying home from a holiday in Samoa when she saw it through the airplane window: a “peculiar large mass” floating on the ocean, hundreds of kilometres off the north coast of New Zealand.


I have a new place I just added to my Bucket List: Pyramiden

Note that this place is literally at the end of the earth – and yet, at a restaurant – he can pay with his Apple Watch.

Swans and Brompton

“His own image; no longer a dark, gray bird, ugly and disagreeable to look at, but a graceful and beautiful swan. To be born in a duck’s nest, in a farmyard, is of no consequence to a bird, if it is hatched from a swan’s egg.”

― Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling

Artwork and a mobile sculpture

Brompton Folding Bike

Cedars Open Studio Tour

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

“You know the reason The Beatles made it so big?…’I Wanna Hold Your Hand.’ First single. Fucking brilliant. Perhaps the most fucking brilliant song ever written. Because they nailed it. That’s what everyone wants. Not 24/7 hot wet sex. Not a marriage that lasts a hundred years. Not a Porsche…or a million-dollar crib. No. They wanna hold your hand. They have such a feeling that they can’t hide. Every single successful song of the past fifty years can be traced back to ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand.’ And every single successful love story has those unbearable and unbearably exciting moments of hand-holding.”

― David Levithan, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Sculptural Installation, Artist: Hobbes Vincent

Hobbes Vincent Homepage

Cedars Open Studio Tour

I Bruised Myself Against My Madness

“I walked into my own book, seeking peace.

It was night, and I made a careless movement inside the dream; I turned too brusquely the corner and I bruised myself against my madness.”

― Anaïs Nin, House of Incest

Sculptural Installation, Artist: Hobbes Vincent

Hobbes Vincent Homepage

Cedars Open Studio Tour

Sunday Snippet, Insomnia by Bill Chance

“How to Commit the Perfect Murder” was an old game in heaven. I always chose the icicle: the weapon melts away.”

― Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

8 50 Caliber Machine Guns, Commemorative Air Force, Wings Over Dallas

Insomnia

I ride the trains at night. I can’t sleep and I have a monthly pass, so why not.

It was almost three in the morning and I was sitting on the Darkwater platform on one of those little seats that fold down.

There was a maintenance worker, a tired looking old man, washing the platform with a faded green hose. He pretended not to notice me and I pretended not to notice him.

The thief came from nowhere, pulled a gun on the maintenance man, and demanded in a loud and obscene voice that he hand over his cell phone.

He did hand it over, without hesitation. I was thinking how big of a loss this was to him, how many platforms he would have to hose down to buy a new phone when the thief shot him, twice, and he went down in a quickly expanding pool of blood.

The thief turned and ran down the stairs. I followed, not slowly but not running either. At street level I saw the thief disappear down an alley between two dilapidated brick industrial buildings. I followed.

The thief was waiting for me. He was yelling something at me – but I couldn’t make out the words. His gun was big – I recognized it as a Glock 21 forty-five caliber. It was a real hand cannon and it was pointed at me.

My Walther PPK 9mm dropped from the holster in my sleeve into my hand. It is a lot smaller than his Glock. But I am practiced, very fast, and I never miss.

Beaver Moon

“Do not swear by the moon, for she changes constantly. then your love would also change.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

I had read that there would be a lunar eclipse – not a total eclipse, but one that would last longer than any in history (well, at least in 580 years – good enough for me). I also read that it would occur well after midnight on a work night, so I didn’t think any more about it.

The sun was well set (even though there was a pink and purple glow left all around the horizon) as I walked to my car across my work parking lot. The moon was rising in the east and singularly full and beautiful, I even texted Candy to go look at it.

Then, at home I was so exhausted that after watching a bit of college basketball I fell into a hard, deep sleep. I woke up at two thirty in the morning and realized that I had to do a load of laundry (I had no shirts for the next work day) and that I had left my phone in my car.

After starting the washer going I stumbled out to my car to fetch my phone so I could charge it for the upcoming day. I had forgotten about the lunar eclipse but as I looked up from the sidewalk it looked like an irregular swipe had been taken across the lunar orb. The eclipse was more than half complete and it combined with the dark lunar seas to make an unexpected uneven border. It was really odd and interesting.

My new phone has an amazing set of (5) cameras and has examples of fantastic shots all over the internet. Unfortunately, I’m a boomer and still trying to figure the damn thing out… and this is the best I could do:

Eclipse of the Beaver Moon.