The Best Places to Live

“Probably for every man there is at least one city that sooner or later turns into a girl. How well or how badly the man actually knew the girl doesn’t necessarily affect the transformation. She was there, and she was the whole city, and that’s that.”
― J.D. Salinger, A Girl I Knew

Dallas Skyline at Night

I know very well not to take an article that lists “The Best Places to Live” very seriously.

However, I did stumble across one that caught my eye. I saw an article in the Dallas Morning News that referred to another article in the New York Times.

The times noted that, EVERYONE IS MOVING TO TEXAS, and said that of the top ten best places to live in the United States, seven are in North Texas.

The list (North Texas Cities in Bold):

  1. Euless
  2. Woodlawn, Ohio
  3. Edgecliff Village
  4. Garland
  5. Grand Prairie
  6. Mesquite
  7. DeSoto
  8. Cedar Hill
  9. Brooklyn Center, Minn.
  10. Forest Park, Ohio

My wife is from Grand Prairie, I worked in Garland (and now live almost on the border) for a couple decades, and lived in Mesquite for a while. So, I know a bit about the Texas cities on this list and feel free to comment.

The interesting thing is that, for someone that lives here, these are not the best cities in North Texas. Most people would list Plano, Frisco, or some of the other more outer-ring suburbs. I am a big fan of Richardson, where I live, and cite its extreme diversity, high tech industry, and cycling infrastructure (of course) as small, but important, items that set it above its neighbors.

When I look at this list, the biggest thing that jumps out at me are the cities listed are generally not built out. That means that on at least one side, there are cotton fields waiting to be plowed under and concreted over. That tends to drop the cost of housing somewhat. Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, and Garland all are considered a bit less expensive and a bit less desirable that their neighbors.

Euless is next to the massive DFW airport – the article mentions that the city boasts large numbers of Tongan residents – many immigrated to work at the airport and contribute to the dominant High School Football teams in that area.

I know little about Edgecliff Village – a tiny enclave in Fort Worth – may visit the next time I’m in those parts.

All in all, an interesting take… but I’m sure there are a few people who still manage to be happy even though they live somewhere that the New York Times doesn’t think is in the top ten.

Now He Dances To Bring Her Back

“If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.”
― Emily Jane Brontë , Wuthering Heights

Dancers, Arts District, Dallas

Dancers, Arts District, Dallas

What I learned this week, December 3, 2021

How we uncancelled Jordan Peterson

Aristotle called man a ‘political animal’. Perhaps he should have said a ‘censorious’ animal. Some people’s urge to shut others up seems to be as strong as the baser drives to eat, drink and copulate. That is why, in the war for free speech, victory is never permanent, though you can sometimes win a local battle or two. Jordan Peterson’s visit to Cambridge this week was such a win.


Why a toaster from 1949 is still smarter than any sold today

My colleague Tom once introduced you to a modern toaster with two seemingly ingenious buttons: one to briefly lift your bread to check its progress, and another to toast it “a bit more.” I respectfully submit you shouldn’t need a button at all.

That’s because in 1948, Sunbeam engineer Ludvik J. Koci invented the perfect toaster, one where the simple act of placing a slice into one of its two slots would result in a delicious piece of toasted bread. No button, no lever, no other input required. Drop bread, get toast.


Sleep
Sleep

The seven types of rest: I spent a week trying them all. Could they help end my exhaustion?

When we feel fatigued most of us focus on sleep problems. But proper relaxation takes many forms. I spent a week exploring what really works


The crowd milling around in the Winspear Opera House, sipping their wine

How to Tell If You’re Oversharing (and How to Stop It)

Being authentic and personable is great! Constantly unloading on everyone around you is not.


A tough choice.

Want to Build Unbeatable Mental Toughness? Here Are 5 Surprisingly Effective Ways

Beating cancer made Yale Law grad Seun Adebiyi rethink his fast-paced life and become an entrepreneur.


Chapel, Thanksgiving Square, Dallas, Texas

How to Be Thankful For Your Life by Changing Just One Word

You don’t “have” to. You “get” to.


Here’s Why Movie Dialogue Has Gotten More Difficult To Understand (And Three Ways To Fix It)

I used to be able to understand 99% of the dialogue in Hollywood films. But over the past 10 years or so, I’ve noticed that percentage has dropped significantly — and it’s not due to hearing loss on my end. It’s gotten to the point where I find myself occasionally not being able to parse entire lines of dialogue when I see a movie in a theater, and when I watch things at home, I’ve defaulted to turning the subtitles on to make sure I don’t miss anything crucial to the plot.


Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, A Time There Was by Hastings Kidd

“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.”

― Jack London

Bark Park Central Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Monday, March 11, 2002

Back

Driving back, I had a choice of several routes. Not really country but not city, the area is dominated by tony horse ranches (complete with billboards advertising the best quality of equine semen) interspersed with developments complete with gigantic Tudor-style mansions surrounded by acres of rolling lawn and artificial ponds. I saw one guy riding a four-wheel ATV down to his mailbox to get the afternoon missives.

Checking the radio reports, the traffic in the city sounded nasty – with rush hour building. The helicopter reporter called in a handful of accidents – all right along my route home. So I decided to keep moving outside the city, going east through McKinney on to Farmersville. It’s farther that way, but at least I was able to avoid the city traffic, which I didn’t really want to fight pulling the popup.

It really was a nice drive, getting a little tour of the countryside north of the Metroplex.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

A Time There Was by Hastings Kidd

from Flash Fiction Online

Upping My Bicycle Commuting Game – Part Seven – Leg Shield

“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

My commuter bike

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.

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