What I learned this week, July 3, 2020

How to be 100x more effective than most people:

from Twitter user @kadavy

– No sugar

– No alcohol

– No caffeine

– 8 hrs sleep/night

– Throw TV in garbage

– Delete social media from phone

– Keep phone in silent mode

– Read 1 hr/day

– Meditate 15 mins/day

– Journal 10 mins/day

– Get therapy

My comment on this:

Really good list… It’s funny that Caffeine is the one that gives everybody trouble – I do enjoy a cup before nine in the morning. I think Meditate should be 20 min minimum (there does seem to be an advantage in that extra 5 minutes) and 10 min/day is not enough Journaling time.

Writing in my Moleskine Journal outside the Mojo Lounge, Decatur Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

 

 


 

Black Lives Matter

Like a lot of people, I’ve been upset at watching the country tear itself apart.

To me, there are three meanings of the phrase “Black Lives Matter.”

The first is the phrase itself, as in; Black lives matter. That is obviously true, and I don’t think anyone really argues with that.

The second is the meme, as in #BLM. Examples are blacked-out facebook pages, instagram hashtags… and such. I’m afraid I put about as much importance on that as I do on any meme, like cute cats, or Rick Astley videos.

The third, and the most important, is the organization Black Lives Matter. It is a bit difficult to find a consistent policy statement for all the groups under the Black Lives Matter umbrella. Recently a lot of watered-down and inconsistent ideas have been put forward (such as “Defund the Police” not meaning defund the police). Since 2014, the M4BL seems to be the spearhead for  a lot of groups in the movement. They have a concise and well-document set of policies.

You can read them here: M4BL Policy Platforms.  I think everyone should read these carefully. If you support them, fine for you. But you need to know what you are supporting with your BLM hashtag or donation.


 

We’ve Reached Peak Wellness. Most of It Is Nonsense.

Interesting article here: We’ve Reached Peak Wellness. Most of It Is Nonsense.

Key takeways:

Physical: Move Your Body and Don’t Eat Crap—but Don’t Diet Either

My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle.
(click to enlarge)

Emotional: Don’t Hide Your Feelings, Get Help When You Need It

Social: It’s Not All About Productivity; Relationships Matter, Too

Cognitive: Follow Your Interests, Do Deep-Focused Work

Spiritual: Cultivate Purpose, Be Open to Awe

Environmental: Care for Your Space


 

DARK

I finished watching the third and final season of the Netflix series Dark.

It was really, really good. Maybe the best Science Fiction Television series ever. The fact they took such an extremely complicated story and tied it up at the end so well – genius. Highly Recommended.

Sic Mundus Creatus Est


 

Aria Code

The magic of opera revealed, one aria at a time.

Listen Here: Aria Code

(click to enlarge)

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The Stranger-Than-Fiction Secret History of Prog-Rock Icon Rick Wakeman

I saw Rick Wakeman with Yes sometime in the mid-70’s at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas. That sort of overblown prog-rock was very popular with my friends and I – even though we had really bad sound systems. I never knew his story (he went from the top of the world to homeless [and back] in a very short period of time). Quite a ride.

Read it here: The Yes keyboardist defined Spinal Tap–esque excess, until he staked everything on his eccentric dream of an Arthurian rock opera on ice. Now, the tale of his epic spiral and long, slow comeback can finally be told.

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What I learned this week, June 19, 2020

This equation will change how you see the world (the logistic map)

I have always been facinated with the Mandelbrot set and fractal math in general – this is a particularly good example.

 

 


 

The ‘Untranslatable’ Emotions You Never Knew You Had

From gigil to wabi-sabi and tarab, there are many foreign emotion words with no English equivalent. Learning to identify and cultivate these experiences could give you a richer and more successful life.

Some of these are fascinating

  • Desbundar (Portuguese) – to shed one’s inhibitions in having fun
  • Tarab (Arabic) – a musically induced state of ecstasy or enchantment
  • Shinrin-yoku (Japanese) – the relaxation gained from bathing in the forest, figuratively or literally
  • ktsuarpok (Inuit) – the anticipation one feels when waiting for someone, whereby one keeps going outside to check if they have arrived
  • Natsukashii (Japanese) – a nostalgic longing for the past, with happiness for the fond memory, yet sadness that it is no longer
  • Wabi-sabi (Japanese) – a “dark, desolate sublimity” centered on transience and imperfection in beauty
  • Saudade (Portuguese) – a melancholic longing or nostalgia for a person, place or thing that is far away either spatially or in time – a vague, dreaming wistfulness for phenomena that may not even exist
  • Sehnsucht (German) – “life-longings”, an intense desire for alternative states and realizations of life, even if they are unattainable
  • Pihentagyú (Hungarian) – literally meaning “with a relaxed brain”, it describes quick-witted people who can come up with sophisticated jokes or solutions
  • Desenrascanço (Portuguese) – to artfully disentangle oneself from a troublesome situation

Read more here:

The ‘Untranslatable’ Emotions You Never Knew You Had


 

Bread and Butter Pickles

I have always loved these things – and never knew why they were called that. Apparently, during the depression people made sandwiches with bread, butter, and pickles. And it seems to have been delicious.

Read about it here:

The history and mystery of America’s long-lost pickle sandwich


The History of Popcorn

I always thought that popcorn was a modern invention. I was wrong.

Long before boxes of Pop Secret lined grocery store shelves, corn began as a wild grass called teosinte in southwestern Mexico, according to research compiled by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History. Corn was probably cultivated as a domesticated crop around 9,000 years ago, but it wasn’t until 2012 that archaeologists unearthed the first evidence of popcorn in Peru: 6,700-year-old corn cobs studded with puffed kernels.

…..

Early popcorn probably resembled parched corn, which is made by cooking dried kernels, often in a frying pan. (Because parched corn typically uses kernels with lower water content, curbing its ability to pop, it’s considered a predecessor of CornNuts.) “Parched corn is much crunchier,” Frank says. “We know that in the early Southwest, there was popcorn—it just wasn’t a Jiffy Pop that you’d put in your microwave.”

The fluffy popcorn we know and love today is, in part, the result of thousands of years of careful cultivation of a few different strains of corn by those early tribes.

Read more here:

The History of Popcorn: How One Grain Became a Staple Snack

 

Corn in a Cup

 


 

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Steadman and Thompson’s first meeting

The story of Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman covering the Kentucky derby.

Read it here:

Decadence and Depravity in Louisville, Kentucky

 

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What I learned this week, June 12, 2020

An Important Message to all the New Cyclists During the Pandemic,

and a Note to Experienced Riders

In this Covid thing there seems to be a lot of people getting bicycles. My son went to look at Mountain Bikes and they said there will be none available before October. This is exciting and I hope the momentum continues.

Here is a cyclist talking about that with advice for new riders and especially for experienced ones.

Great advice.

My favorite parts:

“Cars are dicks, they’re going to honk. That’s sorta just part of it. As long as you’re obeying the laws and not being a dick, don’t worry about them, don’t feel bad, don’t let it discourage you, they’re just having a bad day and taking it out on you. It’s not your problem, it’s not your fault.”

“Next, I wanna talk to – you new guys turn it off, you guys go somewhere else because this message is for the experienced cyclist who’ve been at this a long time…. YOU GUYS DO NOT SCREW THIS UP! Do not screw this up and make cycling this obnoxious exclusive sport any more with your dumb rules and making fun of the new guy on the group ride… we’re not doing that again. Ok, you don’t correct them on anything… unless their front skewer is open, you let them figure it out.”

Yeah, I like this. And I agree, if a new rider has an open front skewer – go ahead and say something, before you come to that pothole.

 


 

Mac ‘N Cheese Waffles

Especially in June, especially in 2020, I am trying to eat healthy and up my exercise. I won’t be cooking or eating any of this. But still…. I can dream, can’t I?

Recipe Here

 


 

38 Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent

from Pocket, Mental Floss, and Bill Demain

1. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.

2. Shemomedjamo (Georgian)
You know when you’re really full, but your meal is just so delicious, you can’t stop eating it? The Georgians feel your pain. This word means, “I accidentally ate the whole thing.”

3. Tartle (Scots)
The nearly onomatopoeic word for that panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can’t quite remember.

4. Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego)
This word captures that special look shared between two people, when both are wishing that the other would do something that they both want, but neither want to do.

5. Backpfeifengesicht (German)
A face badly in need of a fist.

6. Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
You know that feeling of anticipation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet? This is the word for it.

Cook throwing dough at Serious Pizza, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

7. Pelinti (Buli, Ghana)
Your friend bites into a piece of piping hot pizza, then opens his mouth and sort of tilts his head around while making an “aaaarrrahh” noise. The Ghanaians have a word for that. More specifically, it means “to move hot food around in your mouth.”

8. Greng-jai (Thai)
That feeling you get when you don’t want someone to do something for you because it would be a pain for them.

9. Mencolek (Indonesian)
You know that old trick where you tap someone lightly on the opposite shoulder from behind to fool them? The Indonesians have a word for it.

10. Faamiti (Samoan)
To make a squeaking sound by sucking air past the lips in order to gain the attention of a dog or child.

11. Gigil (Filipino)
The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is irresistibly cute.

12. Yuputka (Ulwa)
A word made for walking in the woods at night, it’s the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin.

13. Zhaghzhagh (Persian)
The chattering of teeth from the cold or from rage.

14. Vybafnout (Czech)
A word tailor-made for annoying older brothers—it means to jump out and say boo.

15. Fremdschämen (German); Myötähäpeä (Finnish)
The kinder, gentler cousins of Schadenfreude, both these words mean something akin to “vicarious embarrassment.”

16. Lagom (Swedish)
Maybe Goldilocks was Swedish? This slippery little word is hard to define, but means something like, “Not too much, and not too little, but juuuuust right.”

Here’s my silkworm sandwich.

17. Pålegg (Norwegian)
Sandwich Artists unite! The Norwegians have a non-specific descriptor for anything – ham, cheese, jam, Nutella, mustard, herring, pickles, Doritos, you name it – you might consider putting into a sandwich.

18. Layogenic (Tagalog)
Remember in Clueless when Cher describes someone as “a full-on Monet … from far away, it’s OK, but up close it’s a big old mess”? That’s exactly what this word means.

19. Bakku-shan (Japanese)
Or there’s this Japanese slang term, which describes the experience of seeing a woman who appears pretty from behind but not from the front.

20. Seigneur-terraces (French)
Coffee shop dwellers who sit at tables a long time but spend little money.

21. Ya’arburnee (Arabic)
This word is the hopeful declaration that you will die before someone you love deeply, because you cannot stand to live without them. Literally, may you bury me.

22. Pana Po’o (Hawaiian)
“Hmm, now where did I leave those keys?” he said, pana po’oing. It means to scratch your head in order to help you remember something you’ve forgotten.

23. Slampadato (Italian)
Addicted to the UV glow of tanning salons? This word describes you.

24. Zeg (Georgian)
It means “the day after tomorrow.” OK, we do have “overmorrow” in English, but when was the last time someone used that?

25. Cafune (Brazilian Portuguese)
Leave it to the Brazilians to come up with a word for “tenderly running your fingers through your lover’s hair.”

26. Koi No Yokan (Japanese)
The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall in love.

27. Kaelling (Danish)
You know that woman who stands on her doorstep (or in line at the supermarket, or at the park, or in a restaurant) cursing at her children? The Danes know her, too.

28. Boketto (Japanese)
It’s nice to know that the Japanese think enough of the act of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking to give it a name.

29. L’esprit de l’escalier (French)
Literally, stairwell wit—a too-late retort thought of only after departure.

30. Cotisuelto (Caribbean Spanish)
A word that would aptly describe the prevailing fashion trend among American men under 40, it means one who wears the shirt tail outside of his trousers.

31. Packesel (German)
The packesel is the person who’s stuck carrying everyone else’s bags on a trip. Literally, a burro.

32. Hygge (Danish)
Denmark’s mantra, hygge is the pleasant, genial, and intimate feeling associated with sitting around a fire in the winter with close friends.

33. Cavoli Riscaldati (Italian)
The result of attempting to revive an unworkable relationship. Translates to “reheated cabbage.”

34. Bilita Mpash (Bantu)
An amazing dream. Not just a “good” dream; the opposite of a nightmare.

35. Litost (Czech)
Milan Kundera described the emotion as “a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.”

36. Luftmensch (Yiddish)
There are several Yiddish words to describe social misfits. This one is for an impractical dreamer with no business sense.

37 & 38. Schlemiel and schlimazel (Yiddish)
Someone prone to bad luck. Yiddish distinguishes between the schlemiel and schlimazel, whose fates would probably be grouped under those of the klutz in other languages. The schlemiel is the traditional maladroit, who spills his coffee; the schlimazel is the one on whom it’s spilled.


 

What I learned this week, June 5, 2020

I have a new obsession – Marble Machine X

Somehow I stumbled upon this guy and his band – Wintergatan. Starting in 2014 he started building a hand cranked machine that could be programmed to play music by bouncing thousands of steel marbles (ball bearings, actually) off of a vibraphone and drum set. When he finished it – he realized it was too unreliable and delicate to move. His dream was to tour with the thing and perform all over the world in front of adoring crowds.  So, several years ago, he embarked on Marble Machine X – a project to build a better machine – one that used all modern technology (CMC routing, 3D printing, TIG welding, CAD drawings and such) and a team of engineers from all over the world to make an amazing, complex, beautiful, practical (more or less) music machine.

It’s all documented on Youtube:

He puts out a new video every Wednesday, and has for years.

He’s up to number 128

 

Here is a link to a playlist of all the episodes.

I started at the beginning and now I’m hooked. I don’t know how I missed learning about this the last few years – but now I can’t wait for it to be finished.

 


 

Intermediate Axis Theorem

OK, take a tennis racket. Put a little piece of tape on one face. Then hold it by the handle, tape up, and flip it in the air, doing a 360 rotation front to back, like you were flipping a pancake (maybe) and catch it again by the handle after one revolution. The piece of tape  will still be up, right?

Wrong….


 

3D Printed Curta Calculator

When I was in college a friend of mine had a precious possession – he had a Curta mechanical calculator. I was amazed. The Curta is an amazing, complex little machine that uses incredibly precise and complicated gears and stuff to do mathematical calculations. It was invented by Curt Herzstark who did a lot of the design work while a prisoner at the Buchenwald concentration camp. After the war he formed a company and manufactured a hundred thousand or so of the machines in two different designs. Up until the invention of the digital calculator it was considered the best portable calculating machine.

I was amazed at the one I saw in college and have always wanted one. Unfortunately, they sell for thousands of bucks when they come available (most still work today as well as they did when they were made up to sixty years ago).

The other day I came across this amazing video of Adam Savage (of Mythbusters fame) receiving a modern, three-times scale, 3d Printed working Curta in the mail.

The best part (even better than the amazing machine itself) is the nerdy glee that Mr. Savage exhibits now that he has the precious item. I wish I could get that excited about something.

 


I know I’ve linked to this video before. Tough, I’m doing it again.

Volcano Live

“Love, my territory of kisses and volcanoes.”
Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

I don’t usually watch these television daredevil stunt/event shows – specials where some amazing or death-defying feat is hyped to the moon and sent into your living room complete with breathless commentary and dramatic music.I don’t have anything against such antics and don’t blame folks for watching but I… I have a life. I simply can’t spare the time for the hype, padding, and endless commercial breaks.

Tonight,though, I sat down to watch “Volcano Live” where famed high wire performer Nik Wallenda walks over an active volcano with a lava pool. He chose the Masaya volcano in Nicaragua. It’s stretched out to two hours, which is too long, but I had to see the thing. I had to see it because I have been there.

When I lived in Managua in the early 1970’s it was tough to get to the vent of the Masaya volcano. It is not a tall, symmetrical, picturesque classical volcano (like the nearby Momotombo) – but rather a low, complex jumble of craters, mounds, calderas, and cooled lava. Actually, the active vent is called Santiago – one of several openings in the Masaya complex. We would have to make arrangements for a four wheel drive vehicle so we could cross the miles of extremely rough fresh hardened lava that surrounded the vent. It was black as pitch and sharp as broken glass. Most of the times we went up there the road would be washed out and the last couple miles had to cross on foot.

It was worth it, though. The Santiago vent was amazingly deep, with a bright red pool of molten lava at the bottom. Every few minutes there would be a crescendo in the roar coming from the vent and incandescent lava bombs would come shooting out, arcing and cooling to fall, black and solid, against the bottom of the crater. The sulfur dioxide infused steam streaming out of the vent was choking and nasty – adding another level of frightening deadly threat. At night, the entire top of the mountain would be bathed in flaming light, the crimson glow of molten rock that much brighter.

Some of my brightest memories of my high school days – almost a half century ago – are of me and my friends clambering around and exploring the rugged toxic moonscape around the active volcano.

Now, the top of the volcano is a national park and they have an improved road to the top. It’s a popular tourist destination. You should go there sometime.

Watching this crazy man walk across the vast space brings back so many memories.

A few years ago, my sister took a bunch of carousels of slides that we had taken over decades and all over the world and had them digitized onto DVDs. I dug through all those old photos (the only problem is they were all jumbled up together) and found a few of the Masaya volcano. I never had a telephoto lens and the fog was always thick so I don’t have a picture of the red lava, but it’s nice to help remember.

The photos aren’t of great quality – but I took them in 1973 or so – almost fifty years ago. That is really hard for me to wrap my head around.

The crater of Masaya Volcano taken from the rim of the active crater. It is a lot larger than this photo suggests. The molten lava is hidden in the inner crater – if you look closely you can see a bit of red. Looking at this scene on television tonight – it looks like that inner crater has expanded significantly in the decades since I took this photo.

A blurry photo (taken from a moving vehicle) of the low Masaya volcano complex taken from the highway several miles away. It shows the rugged lava plain that had to be crossed to get there.

Scrambling around on the top of Masaya volcano in the early 1970s.

Some friends of mine standing on the rim of the crater at Masaya volcano, Nicaragua.

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

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

Scrambling down a steep pile of volcanic ash, Masaya, Nicaragua

 

 

Black As Night Sweet As Sin

“Black as night, sweet as sin.”
Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

My coffee thermos.

Everybody gripes about Internet Ads and the little windows that pop up when you’re trying to find out who won the game last night.We are all bothered about lack of privacy in the online world. However, sometimes, you do find something interesting. When Firefox opens, a thing called Pocket throws up a bunch of article links that, I assume, some supercomputer somewhere examines your history and suggests especially for you. This is disturbing, yes, but sometimes these links can be interesting.

One the other day caught my eye. It was a semi-scolarly article about Coffee Naps. It talked about how caffeine competes with adenosine for receptors in your brain and if you take a twenty-minute nap right after you drink a cup of Joe – the receptors “open up” and allow the caffeine to work better. The upstart of this is that caffeine and a nap together is better than caffeine or a nap without the other.

So when I hit “publish” on this blog entry, I’m going to get my coffee (made in my Aeropress, of course) sip it down, and take a nap. Then get back up and go for a bike ride.

This is truly the best of all possible worlds.

Opposites DO Attract: Coffee Naps, The Bulletproof Power Nap, Explained

Coffee Nap: Can Caffeine Before a Nap Boost Energy Levels?

I Tried a “Coffee Nap” Every Morning For a Week and It Changed My Life

A coffee nap? I tried it. Here’s how it went for me.

Science Says ‘Coffee Naps’ Are Better Than Non-Caffeinated Ones

How to Take a Coffee (Power) Nap The Right Way

A productivity expert says coffee naps — ‘nappuccinos’ — changed his life. Here’s how.

How to Take the Perfect Coffee Nap

 

 

The Hypnotic Eye

Monsters were monsters to me. I would stay up late at night and idolize the Saucer-Men, She Creature, Tarantula, then on the weekends on local CH 11’s – Family Theater – I’d watch Lugosi as the Monster, fight Chaney as the Wolfman and think that’s the coolest rumble ever! Monsters weren’t really scary to me. They were friends that really couldn’t dress well. They were esthetic types, who, for some reason, hated conforming to society – kinda like art students.

—-Joe Riley, interview on Latex Mask Central

The Dallas Eye,
Dallas, Texas

Since my medical incident I have been trying to exercise regularly – at least an hour a day. If I don’t ride my bicycle outside, I have a spin bike, with a television hooked to a Roku and a DVD player. I’m always looking for something strange, entertaining, and an hour long – so I can watch it while I ride my spin bike… to fight off the boredom. I was exploring the outer regions of the weird channels way down the Roku list and I found something called Badass TV. Looking through the odd second-rate offerings there I found something fifty-nine minutes long called The Hypnotic Eye. I know there is an old pulpy science fiction/horror movie  by that name – but this was something different.

Back in the day, I always dreamed of getting myself a public access cable TV show and put a bunch of weird stuff on. Well, somebody here in Dallas did that. The guy’s name was Joe Riley (he was big in the early days of the Subgenius thing) and his show was The Hypnotic Eye. One episode was on Badass TV and I watched it and it did make the hour go by relatively boredom free. This episode was The International Show and it had a bunch of cool things on it – some I was very familiar with.

One was the fantastic dance scene “Jaan Pehchan Ho” – you may have seen this from Ghost World.

There were even a few Scopitones – which everybody knows is one of my favorite things.

So now I see that there are more episodes of The Hypnotic Eye available on Archive.org. I think I need to take a look.

 

Back From the Shadows Again

“We are born in an age when only the dull are treated seriously, I live in terror of not being misunderstood”—- Oscar Wilde

 

Let’s see, the last blog entry I wrote was on July 7, 2019 – on the eve of my annual trip to New Orleans for the Writing Marathon. That was almost three months ago – a long gap for me.

I’d like to say that I’ve simply been busy with other things and decided to take a break for no real reason. I’d like to say that… but it wouldn’t be true. It’s a long and complicated story and some of it I’m going to keep under wraps – a lot of it isn’t just my story – but here’s the ten cent version. It may not be completely accurate – my memory is hazy.

Every year I look forward to the writing marathon in New Orleans. But this year, I thought about skipping. First, Candy had some surgery and wasn’t really up and around completely. She assured me that it would be cool if I went. As the day approached I realized I didn’t feel very good. Among other symptoms I was weak and tired all the time.

It took me a few minutes to realize this originally said “art changed my life” — French Quarter NewOrleans.

Checking into what it would take to cancel I realized everything (two hotels, parking, the conference fee etc.) was already paid for and non-refundable. A week of vacation was scheduled and my work arranged. So I decided to go.

The drive to New Orleans wasn’t too bad – I’ve made that trip more than a few times. To make the trip easier I had a hotel in Gonzales – most of the way. I could sleep there, get up fresh and drive the last few miles. There was no hurry, but I had a hell of a time getting out of bed. Eventually I hauled myself into the car and drove on into the Big Easy… and checked into my French Quarter Hotel. It was a beautiful piece of luxurious historical lodging and I was excited… though a bit worn out.

The first evening reception of the Writing Marathon was great. This was the third year I had attended and there were a lot of familiar faces and old stories going around. I was excited for the week of walking around and writing.

The only problem was, everybody kept saying the same thing, “Bill, you don’t look too good.” And I felt really weak. I begged off going out to eat and live music and went back to my hotel.

And proceeded to get really, really sick.

One scary thing is that I remember spending one day in that room but it turns out I might have been there for three. I must have been unconscious/delirious and unaware of the passage of time. I do remember looking around my hotel room and seeing things as they were, but when I’d close my eyes I would see someplace else – some kind of seaside scene. Back home, Candy and Nick were upset because they couldn’t find me (I wasn’t answering my cell phone). Lee was on his way back to New Orleans from the Galapagos Islands.

Finally, I realized how much trouble I was in and called the front desk. The kicker is that I couldn’t breathe. It felt like a panic attack – but I realized that there is a big difference between not being able to breathe because you are having a panic attack and having a panic attack because you can’t breathe. I was able to stagger to the front desk and they put me in a cab that was always at the step and sent me to an urgent care center.

The cab driver, a grizzled old veteran of the French Quarter said, “Hey, you look like you’re having congestive heart failure. The last guy I had like that was dead in three days.”

The urgent care center took one look at me and realized I was too far gone for them and stuck me in an ambulance. At that time, Lee had come back from the airport and called the hotel. They said they sent me to an urgent care center, but didn’t know which one.

Lee lives car-less in downtown New Orleans so he looked up urgent care on his phone and rented a bike. Later, he told me that it was a good thing – that he could get around in the quarter faster on the bike than in a car. The first two places he checked were wrong and then he rode up to the place I was at as they were loading me into the ambulance. He said I didn’t look too good. They wouldn’t tell him anything until he begged and they said they were taking me to the Tulane Medical Center.

So, what happened? It turns out that it started with a urinary tract infection that then spread to my bloodstream and set off a serious attack of Diabetic Ketoacidosis. I don’t want to sound too dramatic, but alone I probably would have been dead in about six hours. However, they knew immediately what was wrong and with treatment, I improved quickly.

I spent a couple days in intensive care. Going through my mind constantly was the Dorothy Parker quote, “What fresh hell is this?” The worst was the fact I had eight (yes, I counted ‘em – including one triple on my right arm) IV tubes and needles stuck in both arms and one foot. Whenever I would move it would set an alarm off and I would lay there listening to that awful BEEP BEEP until someone would come by and reset the machines.

It was a lot better when I was moved into a regular hospital bed and after a few days I was released. Lee’s apartment was only a few blocks away and I felt like I could walk there. But the minute I hit the pavement and the Louisiana summer heat I realized that I didn’t have the strength, sat down on a bench and waited for a ride.

That turned into a theme as I stayed at Lee’s place for almost a week until I regained enough strength to make it back to Dallas. If I rested I would feel OK, but as soon as I actually moved it would take all my energy. Simply taking a shower was about all I could muster.

The view from my son Lee’s apartment – New Orleans, Louisiana

One day, while Lee was at work I decided I could walk to the grocery store, Rouses. I made it to the store, bought some food, then realized I wasn’t going to be able to walk back (only two blocks or so). I waited outside until Lee came by after work – and was able to shuffle back with him carrying the bags.

Even after returning home, regaining my strength was a slow process. I did go back to work as soon as I could – walking across the parking lot the first day back was a serious effort.

Then I found myself having not ridden a bicycle in two months. That first day I climbed on and rode two miles. After that short distance, I felt like I had finished the Tour de France. So I made up a chart and some goals and have been working on building up my mileage since – up to ten miles per day – I was able to ride 300 miles total in September and am almost getting to where I need to be.

There has been this personal journey to put my life back together. One last thing is my writing – and I’m about there. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to write here every day, there are a lot of other things going on, but I promise I won’t have another gap like that if I can help it.

What I Learned Today, Wednesday, June 26, 2019

How to Fall Asleep in 2 Minutes or Less

from The Art of Manliness

It’s quite a knack to be able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat, regardless of where you are and what’s going on around you. To steal some shuteye at airports and on flights, on break times and car rides, in public places and private spaces — in all the interstices of life. Not to mention how grand it is to be able to go out like a light as soon as your head hits the pillow each night.

It probably seems, however, that this is simply a knack that some folks have and others don’t, with the latter group being much larger than the former.

Yet the ability to fall asleep in two minutes or less, anywhere, anytime, is actually a skill like any other, and one anyone can learn. The technique for how to do so was in fact developed for Naval aviators during World War II, and today we’ll share it with you.

When I was a kid, I always had terrible problems with insomnia. It was a curse.

In college, on my own at last, I decided that I would conquer this evil. I started reading all I could (it was the 1970’s – that meant books) about insomnia and set out to systematically learn to fall asleep. It worked, I was successful and to this day (and to this decade) I can fall asleep, almost always, when I need to.

But learning to fall asleep in 2 minutes or less? That’s a pretty bold statement. Have to check it out.

Dallas Zoo sets 46 horned lizards loose with its first-ever wildlife release

from The Dallas Morning News

For decades, the reptile has been vanishing from Texas landscapes. About 10 years ago, Texas zoos, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials and Texas Christian University researchers partnered to try to learn how to bring the critter back to certain pockets of the state.

When I was a little kid and living in Kansas, we had neighbors with a kid about my age. They would go to somewhere in Texas every summer and come back with Horned Toads. I was fascinated with these things. Cool ugly little bastards.

Now I live in Texas, fifty years later, and I’ve never seen a horned toad here. Where have they all gone? It doesn’t take much research to find out what happened. It’s a bit complicated… but really, it’s the fire ants. This introduced species are deadly to the lizards (they aren’t toads) and have wiped them out where ever they go. Every Texan hates fire ants and now there is another reason.

So the Dallas Zoo are breeding horned toads and releasing them to try and re-establish the population. I think this is admirable but it isn’t going to work, is it. What they really need to do is to breed horned lizards that eat fire ants.

 

Ida Kohlmeyer, Rebus 3D-89-3

That Secret From the River

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

I have written about it, here, many times before – All my live I have always wanted to live on a creek lot. For the last decade or so I do, sort of… it is more of a ditch lot – the creek is tamed into a straight line in the middle of the block, exactly between property lines. No natural watercourse flows in a straight line.

It is tamed in terms of location and direction… but not in terms of flow. Usually a quiet narrow strip of water barely moving, when it rains the water rises and becomes violent.

The last storm (not the big one, a couple days later) I took some photos from the Yale Street Bridge right when the rain ended and again, the next morning.

Huffhines Creek, From the Yale Street Bridge, upstream, under normal conditions.

Huffhines Creek, From the Yale Street Bridge, upstream, after a rain.

Huffhines Creek, From the Yale Street Bridge, downstream, under normal conditions.

Huffhines Creek, From the Yale Street Bridge, downstream, after a rain.

The crazy thing how fast this transformation occurs. Despite the buffering of the flood control ponds upstream during a thunder-boomer the water will come down in a wall and the creek will rise in seconds. When it ends the water drops almost as fast, leaving only a line of detritus as a reminder of the violence that was there minutes before.

These are by no means photographs taken under extreme conditions. That little bit of water visible in the before photos will almost completely dry up in July and August, evaporated under the deadly Dallas Texas summer sun and inevitable drought. This was only an ordinary spring thunderstorm, I’ve seen the water significantly higher (over the bike trail, for instance). I simply can’t get a photograph of that because of darkness and/or fear.