Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Ate the Whole Jar by Bill Chance

“He who controls the spice controls the universe.”

― Frank Herbert, Dune

Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas

Ate the Whole Jar

Craig had some visitors at work. They required hours, tours and conversation.

Because of this Craig was unable to go out and eat lunch. He talked to Helen on the phone, and they discussed plans for the evening and Craig realized that he felt weak and tired. He figured this was because it was about four in the afternoon and he hadn’t eaten anything all day. His work had vending machines, but the food in them was absolute greasy crap and Craig was trying to avoid that sort of thing. So he searched out and found some food left over from a couple of days ago, stored safely away in the office refrigerator.

A jumbo container of pickled jalapeño peppers.

After soaking in… whatever they soak in, for two days, they were just right. Smooth, chewy, yet plenty hot enough to make Craig’s head sweat. One was good, so two must be better, he didn’t stop there, four, five, pop ’em in, swallow ’em down, leave a little pile of stems behind, feel the crunch of membrane, hot skin on burning lips, the pop of hotter seeds. He ate the whole jar.

Craig went to take a leak and while carefully washing his hands first (males learn at an early age to thoroughly wash their hands before pissing after eating hot peppers) he looked in the mirror. His eyes were bugged out, sweat was running down his face, his thin hair was standing on end as best it could. Craig was worried he ate too many peppers.

Now, hours later, he knew he ate too many. A healthy supper of rice and beans wasn’t sitting too well. His guts were churning under the influence of too much capsicum. Craig drank some milk and tried to go to sleep.

He was sure he’d have wild dreams that night.

Sunset At Huffhines Park

“The sky, at sunset, looked like a carnivorous flower.”

― Roberto Bolaño, 2666

So, this weekend I’ve been fiddling around with some stuff – since I soon will have a lot of time on my hands I have been looking for things that are fun to do and don’t cost much money. One thing is I have built a little alcohol stove from a Fancy Feast cat treat can and a little empty can of tomato paste. What I want to do it to put together a kit that I can use to walk to some random spot, heat water, and make coffee.

This evening was a simple test of my idea – alcohol stove for hot water, AeroPress for the coffee. It all fit into a sling bag and I walked down to the park at the end of my block. It worked fairly well – though I had to make three trips back and forth for things I forgot or almost lost. I’m learning – next time will be better.

I sipped my (not hot enough) coffee, looked at all the folks out for a walk, and watched the sun set – it was so beautiful I pulled my phone out and snapped a snap.

Sun setting from Huffhines Park, Richardson, Texas.

What I learned this week, January 28, 2022

The drone coming in for a landing. She would catch it as it landed.

Rooftop Drones for Autonomous Pigeon Harassment

Have invasive flying rats met their match?

Ministry of Truth: China literally changed the ending of Fight Club so the authorities win

The screen fades to black and the words “The police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding.”

Blue Falcons

“I want each of you to ask yourself right now: am I the Blue Falcon Sgt. Johnstone is talking about? Do I have it in me to fuck over my buddy so that I can have an easier time? Because I’ll tell you right here, right now: it will come out in the wash. It always comes out in the wash. You might get away with it for a day, or a week, but it is our job to find you; and we are very good at our jobs.”

Rest Area
The trail runs through some thick woods between the train line and the creek south of Forest Lane. There is a nice rest area built there. This homeless guy was sitting in the rest area, reading and writing in his notebook. We talked about the weather and I helped him find a lost sock.

People Farming

There’s money in it, administering programs which succor the homeless … which, if the homeless were ever successfully homed … would mean an end to that mission and money stream. So the civic powers that be have a vested interest in keeping those programs going, and even expanding them to minister to ever-increasing numbers of homeless. Which makes the powers-that-be feel all noble, responsive, responsible and unselfish-like … but which one commenter on the linked thread pointed out … for all intents and purposes they are farming people for a money crop.

5 questions with ESPN’s Jay Bilas on Kansas vs. Kentucky, ‘GameDay’ at Allen Fieldhouse and more

For Christmas, my son bought me (and both my sons) tickets to the Kansas-West Virginia game at Allen Fieldhouse. An amazing gift. The three of us drove up to Lawrence, stayed in an Air B&B and walked around a very cold and snowy town. The game was a blast.

It reminded me of a time, almost fifty years ago, when I walked into Allen Fieldhouse as a barely 17 year old freshman for my first KU basketball game. It was one of the most amazing times of my life.

WSJ: Get ready for a new wage-price spiral as retail sales fall

I’m old, old enough to remember the stagflation of the Carter years. It felt just like this. It isn’t a good thing – especially when you consider the pain (20% interest rates) that are necessary to get out of it.

The hidden costs of cost-benefit analysis

Floundering In A Mire Of Spectacle

“We feared that the music which had given us sustenance was in danger of spiritual starvation. We feared it losing its sense of purpose, we feared it falling into fattened hands, we feared it floundering in a mire of spectacle, finance, and vapid technical complexity. We would call forth in our minds the image of Paul Revere, riding through the American night, petitioning the people to wake up, to take up arms. We too would take up arms, the arms of our generation, the electric guitar and the microphone.”

― Patti Smith, Just Kids

Turn On the Faucet

“Turn on the faucet. Wash yourself with the emotion. It won’t hurt you. It will only help. If you let the fear inside, if you pull it on like a familiar shirt, then you can say to yourself, “All right, it’s just fear, I don’t have to let it control me. I see it for what it is”.”

― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

Braindead Brewing, Dallas, Texas

Northaven Trail Bridge Update

“I delve into the mysterious and counterintuitive world of helmets and high-visibility gear later in the book. But it’s worth immediately noting this: while they’re not inherently bad, they’re less a safety device for cycling than a symptom of a road network where no cyclist can truly feel safe.”
― Peter Walker, How Cycling Can Save the World

Nice Tribe Urban Bike parked outside Braindead Brewing, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Let’s see when it was…. May 9, 2021 (well under a year ago) when I went down to the groundbreaking of the Northaven Trail Bridge. It’s exciting – a bridge system that goes over the giant deadly Hway75 North Central Expressway and also White Rock Creek. It will join the Northaven trail with the White Rock and Cottonwood Trails – East and West will come together, opening up a whole new galaxy of bicycle riding in the Metroplex.

Here’s a virtual simulation of the thing:

Whenever I drive down Central or ride down the White Rock Trail I look at the construction. Although the signature bridge is still a long time off – the progress is palpable. It truly is the best of all possible worlds.

Here’s drone footage of what it looks like right now:

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Executrix by Barry Yourgrau

“There is no real direction here, neither lines of power nor cooperation. Decisions are never really made – at best they manage to emerge, from a chaos of peeves, whims, hallucinations and all around assholery. ”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Pizza Oven at Cane Rosso Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Sunday, August 18, 2002

Racing Car

We knew the kids would be cranky today, so there wasn’t much planned. The only thing we felt up to was a trip to Fry’s to look at some electronics. While there, we decided to buy Nick a new computer. He plays the newest games so he gets the most powerful machine – everybody else gets the flow-down. I’ll take his old one and my old one and try to Frankenstein together a computer that will get through a few more years of digital progress (Lee’s is still going strong – I’m afraid to mess with it).

Since Nick had his birthday party and a new computer, I let Lee pick out something for himself. He decided on this little ten-dollar racing car kit. It’s from Japan, and runs on two double-A’s.

At home Lee opened the box on the coffee table and began trying to follow the obscure, badly-translated, instructions. The car is small, four-wheel drive, and full of tiny, delicate parts. Lee did really well, though – figuring out the drivetrain gears, shafts, and bearings like a pro.

He was worried when the drawings showed the application of what he thought was glue to the gearboxes. “If I get the glue in the wrong place, the car won’t work,” he complained to me. I took a close look and realized the stylized bottle with the little drops on the diagram wasn’t glue at all, but grease. “Oh, grease… sure,” said Lee and we cut the little bottle and dropped some drops of the white lithium lubricant in the proper spots.

I helped him with some tough screws, showing him how to use a set of jeweler’s screwdrivers we keep on hand for Candy’s glasses. “I was using a bent paperclip,” Lee admitted, “Those little screwdrivers work a lot better.”

By late afternoon, the thing was finished. It looked really cool. It has these guide wheels sticking out here and there – I guess it’s designed to run on some sort of model car track that must be popular somewhere. I’ve never seen one like that.

The problem is, the car is wicked fast. It does okay on carpet – where the thick pile slows the thing way, way down. Lee tried it in the kitchen on the smooth tile, though, and there it jumped out like a cannon shell. The little blur shot the length of the room and smashed into the oven before we could barely react, let alone catch the darn thing. Parts flew everywhere. No permanent damage, though, and soon it was all back together and working again.

I can’t believe the speed the thing gets out of two double-A’s. I wish I could figure out a place where we could really let it run.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

Executrix by Barry Yourgrau

From Bomb Magazine

Barry Yourgrau webpage

Barry Yourgrau Twitter

Sunday Snippet, Short Poem, Pumpkin by Bill Chance

“I will defend pumpkin until the day I die. It’s delicious. It’s healthy. I don’t understand the backlash. How did pumpkin become this embarrassing thing to love but bacon is still the cool flavor to add to everything? I don’t have anything against bacon; just don’t come after pumpkin like it’s a crime to love an American staple.”

― Anna Kendrick, Scrappy Little Nobody

Pumpkin Pie Soda, From RocketFizz, Deep Ellum, Texas


(short poem fragment)


I saw a car
an old car
paint faded, worn to
a flat pumpkin seed color
written in the windows
with white shoe polish
a tattered frazzled worn woman sat
in the front seat
broken down
on the freeway
at seven in the morning

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

Little by little the night turns around
Counting the leaves which tremble at dawn
Lotus’s lean on each other in yearning
Over the hills a swallow is resting
Set the controls for the heart of the sun

—-Pink Floyd, Set the Controls For the Heart Of the Sun

Woodall Rogers Expressway, Dallas, Texas

I am not a car person. To me a car is a metal box – you get in it at some location, listen to the radio for awhile, and then get out at another location. That is pretty amazing, I’ll admit, but anything else isn’t a big deal for me. I don’t really care for going fast, or looking good, or even excessive comfort (although here in Texas functional air conditioning is a life necessity, not comfort). Reliability and good gas mileage are the most important aspects of an auto.

Because I’m not a car person I’ve never been a fan of the television show Top Gear. Though (the original version at least) has some cool ideas and a very talented and entertaining cast, I was never really into it. A friend of mine was extolling the virtues of the show and I said, “I know it looks cool, but I’ve never been able to get into it.” He said, “Oh, that’s because you are not a car person.”

So that’s that.

However, I was surfing around the ‘net, wasting some of the tiny bit of precious time I have left, and I stumbled across a YouTube video of a Top Gear review of a Ferrari Enzo owned by Nick Mason, the drummer of Pink Floyd… and it is genius on a number of levels (the obscene beauty of the car itself, the enthusiasm, the plugging of Mason’s book, the way Mason leaves the set [watch ’till the end]), so I thought I’d share it with you.

Nick Mason’s Ferrari Enzo

The only sad thing is the article that lead me to watch a Youtube video on the Ferrari Enzo (remember, I’m not a car person). If you feel that you are having too much fun, are having too good of a day, need something to bring your life down a notch:

Read This Article

It’s awful, even if you are not a car person.

What I learned this week, January 21, 2022

Cedars Open Studios 1805 Clarence Street Dallas, Texas

Please Stop Using These Phrases in Meetings

Some New Year’s resolutions are more attainable than others. Even at a time when so much is beyond our control, we remain in control of our own speech patterns. And so, as leaders and employees continue to rethink what the modern workplace should look like, including how we gather, perhaps it’s an opportune moment to banish certain phrases from the “meeting-speak” lexicon. To learn what refrains others would be happy to never hear again in a meeting, the author did a bit of crowdsourcing. She presents some of the responses that resonated the most.

In goes the cheese, Unfortunately I bought the wrong kind of Mexican cheese and it didn’t melt. No problem, I pulled out some shredded mozzarella and it was all good.

How Cheese, Wheat and Alcohol Shaped Human Evolution

Over time, diet causes dramatic changes to our anatomy, immune systems and maybe skin color

Flora Street, Dallas, Texas

How to Overcome a Stubborn Regret

Regret can increase stress and negatively affect your physical health.

More than 1 million fewer students are in college. Here’s how that impacts the economy

More than 1 million fewer students are enrolled in college now than before the pandemic began. According to new data released Thursday, U.S. colleges and universities saw a drop of nearly 500,000 undergraduate students in the fall of 2021, continuing a historic decline that began the previous fall.

Hope is not optimism

Even when you know that prospects are grim, hope can help. It’s not just a feeling, but a way to step into the future

Dallas, Texas

Why some tiny frogs have tarantulas as bodyguards

Plus other fun facts from The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week.

Weighted blankets: how do they work and can they help with anxiety?

RIP Meat Loaf