What I learned this week, April 8, 2022

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A Creative Solution to ‘the Friendship Desert of Modern Adulthood’

“I knew many old couples who had happy and loving arranged marriages. I thought, If it worked for them, why couldn’t it work for friendships?

Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas

U.S. life expectancy falls for 2nd year in a row

Despite the availability of life-saving COVID-19 vaccines, so many people died in the second year of the pandemic in the U.S. that the nation’s life expectancy dropped for a second year in a row last year, according to a new analysis.

My bicycle locked up to the TRex in Exposition Park, Dallas, Texas

A doctoral student may have discovered fossils from the day the dinosaurs died

This story isn’t exactly breaking news since it’s about something that happened 66 million years ago, but there is a reason it’s getting fresh attention now. Next week the BBC is releasing a special narrated by David Attenborough titled “The Day the Dinosaurs Died.” The special focuses on a unique dig site in North Dakota called Tanis where evidence suggests a jumble of fossils were formed on the day a large asteroid struck the earth about 66 million years ago.xxx

Running up that hill at the end.

How to Start Running: A Beginner’s Guide

Want to start a running habit but have no idea where to start? Here is everything you need to know to start running and actually enjoy it.

Running of the Bulls, New Orleans

Klain Says Biden Doesn’t Believe Hunter Broke Any Laws

On Sunday, Joe Biden’s White House Chief of Staff told George Stephanopoulos that Biden doesn’t believe his son Hunter broke any laws, despite his past dealings that are currently under investigation by the Department of Justice, which a CNN analyst said earlier this week could result in his being indicted.

Know Who’s Bummed About Russia’s Military Failure In Ukraine? China

A goodly part of the world is pleased about the manifest failure of Vlad’s Big Ukraine Adventure, some are indifferent to it, but only Russia, client-state Syria, and puppet-state Belarus really seem upset about it.

Know who else is bummed? China.

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

Ex-Zelensky Aide Says Ukrainian Army Uses ‘Terminator’ Drones That Make Russians Think Skynet is Chasing Them

The Ukrainian army has come up with a clever way to save ammunition, a former advisor to President Volodymyr Zelensky said, by modifying commercial drones to resemble something out of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator films, scaring Russian soldiers into thinking “something that belongs to Skynet” is chasing them so they lead the drone back to their base and the Ukrainians can then blast them into the afterlife.

My Octopus Teacher

The problem when you’re a crab, you’re now being hunted by a liquid animal. She can pour herself through a tiny little crack.

—- Craig Foster, My Octopus Teacher

Untitled (Sprawling Octopus Man), by Thomas Houseago Nasher Sculpture Center Dallas, Texas

This morning I had to go into work before dawn to supervise a job. When I arrived on site I discovered everything had been delayed an hour and a half (a phone call came in while I was driving and I don’t answer calls in my car). So I had some time to kill.

I have Netflix on my relatively new personal phone and had downloaded a handful of films to watch offline. So I sat there waiting as the sun rose and watched the rest of the Oscar-Winning documentary My Octopus Teacher.

It was really, really good. The photography of the kelp forest was breathtaking. It’s hard to believe that a mollusk could be so captivating. The end of the film is bittersweet – I did not know anything about how an octopus reproduces….

It reminded me of a short, wonderful time in my youth – a middle school teenager living in Panama – on the Atlantic side of what was then the Canal Zone. A friend and I would take the bus out to Fort Sherman, hitchhike to Playa Diablillo and walk down the coast snorkeling and exploring the mangrove forests and coral reef – just like the guy in the movie.

One day we were walking along the exposed coral heads at low tide when something wet hit me in the side of the head. I turned and there was a large octopus mostly out of the water on the coral. He did not like us walking through his ‘hood and was squirting us with jets of water and ink out of his siphon. As we watched him he went through an amazing series of shape and color changes, trying to convince us to leave him alone (although we would never have noticed him – his first color and texture blended in with the coral – if he had not squirted us). We looked at him for a while, then granted his wish and left him alone.

If you are curious, it was right here. There is actually a streetview – this is exactly where I saw the octopus.

The film conveys spectacularly the freedom and the zen-like concentration of swimming with a snorkel in the cornucopia of life that is a coral reef or kelp forest. The ecosystem interacts like a single, enormous creature and when surrounded by that water, you become part of it.

I am so glad that I experienced that and am afraid I will never do so again.