“ARMOR, n. The kind of clothing worn by a man whose tailor is a blacksmith.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary
“I had to ride my bike to and from their god damn plant way up north in the high-chemical crime district, and reachable only by riding on the shoulder of some major freeways. I could feel the years ticking off my life expectancy as the mile markers struggled by.”
― Neal Stephenson, Zodiac
Winter is upon us – and here in Texas that means the two weeks of nice weather is in the rear-view window and the days of windy/wet/cold have begun. Winter is Texas is best described as mostly uncomfortable.
But it does mean I have to dig out my winter cycling gear which consists of two things: layers and long pants.
When I look at my supply of long pants I notice a couple of things – the cuffs of my right legs are shredded and there are grease stains on those same legs.
My bikes don’t have effective chain guards. I remember in the seventies we had these little metal clips for our right pants legs… they didn’t work well and were easy to lose. I am old enough to remember those times – pre-velcro, believe it or not. Then the metal clips were replaced with little nylon velcro straps – which didn’t work well and were even easier to lose.
As I was thinking about these things I thought to myself that there must be a better way to shield my right pants leg and, after a short web search, I found a solution – Leg Shield.
So, a few clicks, a bit of Amazon Prime magic, and I had a neoprene leg shield on my porch that afternoon.
And it works like a charm. Get one, it’s great.
This is truly the best of all possible worlds.
“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
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
“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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
“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
“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
“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
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.