What I learned this week, April 30, 2021

Woman writing in a Moleskine Notebook, Wichita, Kansas

The Power of Writing by Hand


HDR Caterpillar
HDR Caterpillar – will grown into a monarch

Here’s where to see groups of monarch butterflies in Richardson

Kaleidoscopes (yes that’s the official term for a group of butterflies) of monarchs are continuing to make their annual spring migration from Mexico to North Texas this month and Richardson’s five dedicated butterfly gardens where you can view them.

The city’s butterfly gardens are located in the Durham, Collins, Berkner, Yale and Prairie Creek parks. Butterfly-friendly plants are also found in the landscaping of CityLine and Fox Creek parks.

Despite the harsh winter weather in February, the plants are flourishing, the city said in a prepared statement.

Richardson participates in the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayor’s Monarch Pledge, which is designed to help preserve the orange-and-black winged beauties. Pledge communities commit to create habitat for the monarch butterfly and other pollinators, and to educate residents about how they can make a difference at home, the city said.

Richardson joined the program in 2015 and since then the parks and recreation department has planted butterfly-friendly native plants in all new parks.


Kyde Warren Park, Dallas, Texas

Parents Are Sacrificing Their Social Lives on the Altar of Intensive Parenting

On the way to Toad Corners

Memorial Figure Papua New Guinea Dallas Museum of Art

The Repressive Politics of Emotional Intelligence


(click to enlarge) Rodin Walking Man and fans Houston, Texas

The Simple Dutch Cure for Stress


The Sweepers Wang Shugang Cast Iron (2012) Crow Collection of Asian Art

How to Love: Legendary Zen Buddhist Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh on Mastering the Art of “Interbeing”


Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Brain wifi

Instead of a code encrypted in the wiring of our neurons, could consciousness reside in the brain’s electromagnetic field?

What I learned this week, April 23, 2021

Chipotle Sourdough
Finished loaf of Chipotle Sourdough Bread. A little too much Chipotle, it made the dough a bit wet and it came out very spicy. Still Delicious. There are kids over and it was gone in five minutes.

How To Make Pita Bread at Home

I went through a home made bread phase. It was fun and delicious but the carbs almost killed me. Maybe pitas – small and unassuming – might be doable.


Campsite, Lake Ray Roberts, Texas

Everything You Need to Know About Sleeping Pads


Anna Karina

How to think like a detective

The best detectives seem to have almost supernatural insight, but their cognitive toolkit is one that anybody can use


Awning stretching out from the Opera House, Arts District, Dallas, Texas (Click To Enlarge)

Aria Code


Sheaffer Pens
Sheaffer Pens

Writing in pencil > writing in pen


What I learned this week, April 16, 2021

Downtown Square, McKinney, Texas

Phone call anxiety: why so many of us have it, and how to get over it

I DO NOT like to talk on the phone. I get so stressed when I have to call I have trouble dialing right. When my phone rings, I jump and I feel the panic rising (although now its usually junk calls). I know and see people talking on the phone for hours and don’t understand it. When I stop at a light on the way home and watch the cars going by and more than half are on their phones – I wonder, “Who the hell are they talking to?”


Artwork in the Braindead Brewing Company, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Brain fog: how trauma, uncertainty and isolation have affected our minds and memory

After a year of lockdown, many of us are finding it hard to think clearly, or remember what happened when. Neuroscientists and behavioural experts explain why

Oh, and I thought I was just getting old.


No Licence, No Problem
No Licence, No Problem

Our Brain Typically Overlooks This Brilliant Problem-Solving Strategy

People often limit their creativity by continually adding new features to a design rather than removing existing ones


Monumental Head of Jean d’Aire (from The Burghers of Calais), Auguste Rodin, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

The Stoic Antidote to Frustration: Marcus Aurelius on How to Keep Your Mental Composure and Emotional Equanimity When People Let You Down

The art of tempering your fury with an infuriating existential truth.


Pomodoro
My Pomodoro timer, Moleskine, and Ivory Pilot Prera fountain pen.

I tried making a ‘to-don’t list’ instead of a to-do list. Here’s what I learned

For the last two weeks, I’ve been using “to-don’t” list, which sounds like an inverse to a to-do list, but is a bit more exacting. In essence, the list is a curated collection of activities that can derail your energy and motivation. They’re often alluring but end up creating a distracting spiral, sapping you of your most productive hours.


Here’s some origami I did. I’m working on a story and I decided to origami my draft. The design is called, “This is a bunch of crap.”

Office Reopening Anxiety

“I Do Not Trust People in the Same Way and I Don’t Think I Ever Will Again”

Workers are really, really not ready for offices to reopen.


Somewhere in the Caribbean

The rice of the sea: how a tiny grain could change the way humanity eats

Ángel León made his name serving innovative seafood. But then he discovered something in the seagrass that could transform our understanding of the sea itself – as a vast garden


Houston Museum Of Fine Arts

Anxiety Is in Your Body, Not Your Mind

Why you might want to stop talking about your anxiety and try this instead

What I learned this week, April 9, 2021

 

(click to enlarge) Book With Wings Anselm Kiefer Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

Ian Fleming Explains How to Write a Thriller

“You have to get the reader to turn over the page.”


Lee walking in the surf at Crystal Beach. I checked my old blog entries – this was December 29, 2002.

How Fit Can You Get From Just Walking? 

Walking is good for you, obviously. But can it whip you into shape?


Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market Waco, Texas

Lessons From a ‘Local Food’ Scam Artist

Working summers at an authentically quaint roadside produce stand, a teenage salesperson is schooled in the not-so-subtle art of how to con a foodie from the big city.


Main Street Garden Park Dallas, Texas

How Crisco toppled lard – and made Americans believers in industrial food

Perhaps you’ll unearth a can of Crisco for the holiday baking season. If so, you’ll be one of millions of Americans who have, for generations, used it to make cookies, cakes, pie crusts and more.

But for all Crisco’s popularity, what exactly is that thick, white substance in the can?

If you’re not sure, you’re not alone.


Stylish bike rider, French Quarter, New Orleans

Cycling is ten times more important than electric cars for reaching net-zero cities

Electric cars aren’t truly zero-carbon – mining the raw materials for their batteries, manufacturing them and generating the electricity they run on produces emissions.


Trinity River Levee Dallas, Texas

Construction kicks off soon on Plano’s $1 billion Collin Creek redevelopment

I remember in 1981, when I first moved to Dallas, driving all the way from Oak Cliff to Plano in horrible evening traffic (it took over an hour) to visit this brand-spanking new wonder of a mall that had just been built – Collin Creek. Now its gone. I think I actually shopped there twice in those forty years, even though I’ve lived very close to it.


What I learned this week, April 2, 2021

Found by a photobooth, Molly’s At the Market, French Quarter, New Orleans

Don’t Follow Your Gut

How should we make decisions in life? Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist, says that whatever you do, Never Go With Your Gut. It’s such bold advice that Dr. Tsipursky decided to make it the title of his latest book. In this interview, Dr. Tsipursky discusses his unorthodox approach and warns against the dangerous mental blindspots that lead to decisions we later regret.


(click to enlarge) Sixth and Camp in New Orleans – a beautiful row of Camelback Shotgun Houses

The Case for Rooms

It’s time to end the tyranny of open-concept interior design.


Sleep
Sleep

Why You Stay Up So Late, Even When You Know You Shouldn’t

There are certain traits that lend themselves to “revenge bedtime procrastination.” There’s also a way out.


Drinks menu… the coffee looks good, but “Treats from the Teat” – I don’t know if that’s as catchy as they think it is.

How To Make Starbucks-Style Cold Brew Coffee at Home


I wonder what this guy was thinking… “Wow, there are too many people here! I give up!” or, more likley, “Hey! Quit staring at my penis!”

Hypocrites: How to Survive in a World Full of Them


Woman writing in a Moleskine Notebook, Wichita, Kansas

Can Introverts Be Happy in a World That Can’t Stop Talking?

Acceptance is key to the well-being and authenticity of introverts


Paula & Lucky Santa Fe Trestle Trail Dallas, Texas

Don’t Tell Your Friends They’re Lucky

Luck has a lot to do with success. We just don’t want to admit it.


What I learned this week, March 26, 2021

Running of the bulls, New Orleans, Louisiana

What’s the Minimum Dose of Training to Stay Fit?

A new review assesses what it takes to maintain endurance and strength when circumstances interfere with your usual training


Paths, Steinunn Thorarinsdottir, Arts District, Dallas, Texas

Why We Procrastinate

We think of our future selves as strangers.


Dallas Skyline at Night

Reasons People Are Moving From Los Angeles to Dallas

More Important Than Escaping Higher Taxes


Future Generations, by William Zorach, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

The Ultimate Guide to Bizarre Lies Your Mom Told You

Turns out mothers all over the world are telling a lot of the same outrageous fibs.


Monumental Head of Jean d’Aire (from The Burghers of Calais), Auguste Rodin, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

How Our Brains Work: A Reading List for Non-Scientists

Your brain is more complex than you probably realize. Let neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett expand your mind.


Dallas Arboretum

The fence is uncomfortable, but it affords the best view

To be human … means constantly to be in the grip of opposing emotions, to have daily to reconcile apparently conflicting tensions.
– Stephen Fry, Bafta Lecture, 2010


A Kansas Bookshop’s Fight with Amazon Is About More Than the Price of Books

The owner of the Raven bookstore, in Lawrence, wants to tell you about all the ways that the e-commerce giant is hurting American downtowns.

What I learned this week, March 19, 2021

Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

Why we procrastinate on the tiniest of tasks

When we put off small jobs, they balloon from tiny checklist items into major irritants. Why do we keep doing this?


Mark Rothko, Orange, Red and Red, Dallas Museum of Art

Mark Rothko on How to Be an Artist

Seven years ago I saw the play Red at the Dallas Theater Center. It was a fantastic play about the artist Mark Rothko as he painted the famous group of large murals for the Four Seasons restaurant in New York. Really good – one highlight is that during the play the actor playing Rothko and the one playing his assistant actually paint a giant canvas right there, in front of you. You could smell the linseed oil.


Something In front of Braindead Brewing Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

How to Quiet Your Mind Chatter

To break the tape loop in your head, talk to yourself as another person.


A reminder of what one of these looked like at the unveiling

Tips from neuroscience to keep you focused on hard tasks

Understanding cognitive control can help your working life.


Mexican Vampire Kiss Mural, Cozumel, Mexico

The Vampire Problem: A Brilliant Thought Experiment Illustrating the Paradox of Transformative Experience

“Many of [life’s] big decisions involve choices to have experiences that teach us things we cannot know about from any other source but the experience itself.”


Running up that hill at the end.

What a brief jog can do for your brain

If you have 15 minutes to spare, do not sit and chill. Instead, a new study says, you should go out for a quick, light jog. It will leave you feeling more energetic than resting, which will lift your spirits and in turn make your thinking more effective.


My Aeropress at a campsite, Lake Ray Roberts, Texas

I Tried 5 Methods to Make Italian-Style Coffee at Home. The Winner Was Clear (and Surprising!)

It’s not surprising to me. After a lifetime of trying different ways of making coffee – the Aeropress is the best. I miss going to coffee shops – but I can’t imagine getting a better cup than what I can make with fresh-ground beans and my ‘press.

The Smell That Separates Night From Day

Black As Night Sweet As Sin

Coffee in the… Well, Sorta Wilderness

A Lot More Than Just A Drink


I can’t believe that this is a half-century old. I mean, it does have the 1960’s esthetic, but it is still really, really cool. The movie was a disappointment at the time (I looked it up) but this Bob Fosse dance number is fascinating. I’m a little obsessed.

What I learned this week, March 12, 2021

(click to enlarge)
Book With Wings
Anselm Kiefer
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

7 Fiction Books That Change The Way You Think


TV

Why Channel 37 Doesn’t Exist (And What It Has to Do With Aliens)


23 Signs You’re Secretly a Narcissist Masquerading as a Sensitive Introvert

I took the test. I’m not. Not even close.


Graffiti in Deep Ellum. This warrior is nothing if not well-muscled… plus he is carrying off his prize of war.

Resistance training: here’s why it’s so effective for weight loss

Weight lifting, also known as resistance training, has been practised for centuries as a way of building muscular strength. Research shows that resistance training, whether done via body weight, resistance bands or machines, dumbbells or free weights, not only helps us build strength, but also improves muscle size and can help counteract age-related muscle loss.

More recently it’s become popular among those looking to lose weight. While exercises such as running and cycling are indeed effective for reducing body fat, these activities can simultaneously decrease muscle size, leading to weaker muscles and greater perceived weight loss, as muscle is more dense than fat. But unlike endurance exercises, evidence shows resistance training not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength.


Mural
Deep Ellum
Dallas, Texas

What Is Space?

It’s not what you think.


Downtown Square, McKinney, Texas

Phone call anxiety: why so many of us have it, and how to get over it

I hate talking on the phone… always have. I thought I was the only one.


Sailboats on White Rock Lake, Dallas, TX

Goblin Death Cult Practices Dark Arts on Shores of White Rock Lake

What I learned this week, March 05, 2021

Coping With Intrusive Thoughts

Haunted by a reoccurring thought that freaks you out? Intrusive thoughts are more common than you think.

Tony Cragg’s “Line of Thought” Dallas, Texas

How a ‘beginners’ mindset’ can help you learn anything

Although our ability to easily pick up a new skill declines with age (no shit, Sherlock), harnessing a specific type of mindset can help you learn effectively as an adult.

Collage by James Michael Starr, Carrollton DART station.

The Marvellous Mod World of Sci-Fi Supermarionettes

This, my friends, is the world of my childhood. BTW – Thunderbird 2 was, by far, the coolest.

Actually, of all the Supermarionette shows from when I was a kid – it was Supercar I remember the most.


Time Travel


How to be mediocre and be happy with yourself

In the novel Catch-22, the author Joseph Heller famously wrote: “Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.”

He’d taken a quote by Shakespeare on greatness and turned it on its head.

The implication was clear: mediocrity is a bad thing, to be avoided. Yet most of us go on to live what by most measures are pretty ordinary lives.

So what’s wrong with settling for mediocrity?

Plano, Texas Sometimes you can find interest, maybe beauty, in the simplest and most ordinary of things.

You’re a Bad Listener: Here’s How to Remember What People Say

We come into conversations with our own agendas and low attention spans, but if you want to build better relationships you need to master active listening.

Time Exposure, Night, Downtown Dallas, Ross and Pearl

How to Achieve Your Goals By Creating an Enemy

Art Deco mural from Fair Park in Dallas

What I learned this week, February 26, 2021

Zen-like Christmas decorations, Waxahachie, Texas

The Zen rule for becoming happier: Change one thing

1. Start very small.
2. Do only one change at a time.
3. Be present and enjoy the activity (don’t focus on results).
4. Be grateful for every step you take.


Crepe Myrtle trunk in the snow

Train Your Body to Work Out—or Just Hang Out—in Colder Weather

So you hate the cold.

With coronavirus surging, restaurants and bars closed and the homes of even friends and family off-limits, does that mean your winter social life is doomed?

No, according to a host of scientists, professors and trainers who are experts on the physiological impact of frigid weather on humans. Adapting to cold isn’t fun— who loves to shiver?—but it’s possible, scientists say. And as a bonus: Cold, like exercise, makes you healthier.


Window washing job I couldn’t do
Downtown Dallas, Texas

The computers rejecting your job application

A professional journalist, I had recently applied for a new job, and for the first part of the recruitment process the publisher made me play a number of simple online games from the comfort of my own home.

These included having to quickly count the number of dots in two boxes, inflating a balloon before it burst to win money, and matching emotions to facial expressions. Then an artificial intelligence (AI) software system assessed my personality, and either passed or failed me. No human had a look-in.

I wondered: is it fair for a computer alone to accept or reject your job application?

Welcome to the fast-growing world of AI recruitment.


The Window at Molly’s, the street (Decatur) unusually quiet, with notebook, vintage Esterbrook pen, and Molly’s frozen Irish Coffee

How to Write a Novel, According to 10 Really Good Novelists

Take notes everywhere, embrace Wikipedia wormholes and other handy tips



Mojo Coffee, Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
(click to enlarge)

Our 14 favorite gadgets and hacks for working at home

From mesh networks to lap desks, here’s how The Verge’s staffers create their workspaces


Display at main Half-Price Books, Dallas, Texas

The Use and Abuse of ‘They’

Journalists and essayists in recent years somehow formed the impression that the academic study of English grammar is partitioned into two mutually hostile tribes: descriptivists and prescriptivists. Both are portrayed in cartoonish stereotypes.

The descriptivists allegedly think that anything uttered by English speakers is ipso facto good English and can never be erroneous. So if people sometimes say, “It’s in the, the . . . the hall closet,” we must deem that correct, and posit noun phrases with three definite articles in a row. This insane view is purportedly associated with the political Left.

But the other tribe seems just as deranged. Its members won’t change their minds about the sacred edicts of grammar regardless of evidence. No matter how many great writers may have committed some solecism, they say, it’s still wrong if the rules of correct grammar say it is. This view gets tagged as conservative.