What Does the Beauty Of A Building Mean To Us Now?

“…Originally everything about a Greek or Christian building meant something, and in reference to a higher order of things. This atmosphere of inexhaustible meaningfulness hung about the building like a magic veil. Beauty entered the system only secondarily, impairing the basic feeling of uncanny sublimity, of sanctification by magic or the gods’ nearness. At the most, beauty tempered the dread – but this dread was the prerequisite everywhere. What does the beauty of a building mean to us now? The same as the beautiful face of a mindless woman: something masklike.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits

Downtown Dallas

Bubble

“It was like when you make a move in chess and just as you take your finger off the piece, you see the mistake you’ve made, and there’s this panic because you don’t know yet the scale of disaster you’ve left yourself open to.”

― Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

A meat pie, Sriracha sauce, a diet Coke, a bike, and a concrete bridge

The sound of a bubble coming up through the ice in my Diet Coke sent me into a panic attack. I’m not sure why – I was tired, stressed out and daydreaming – it sounded so odd, unexpected and otherworldly that I was startled, confused and distraught. What was my subconscious lizard brain thinking? Was Cthulhu rising in miniature tentacled horror from an icy bath of artificial colors and sweetener? Was it guilt on spending almost two precious dollars on the unhealthy concoction? Or is it just a sad commentary on my pitiful useless life that a stray sphere of escaping carbon dioxide can throw me into such a tizzy.

Granted, it didn’t last long – I even took a cold, refreshing sip of the evil beverage (everything other than water, coffee, tea and maybe certain kind of rum – Ron Flor de Caña on ice – is an evil beverage) and my panic subsided somewhat. I was left with a vague unease and anonymous fear. What do they say about this? Did I feel as if someone “Walked over my grave” or “by the pricking of my thumbs” or simply a shiver up my spine.

Flavored

“What’s a rainy day
without some delicious
coffee-flavoured loneliness?”
― Sanober Khan, Turquoise Silence

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

I had to drive down to our facility on Love Field at work today and deal with some paperwork. It went quickly and smoothly so on the way back to North Dallas I had time to stop at the Central Market at Greenville and Lover’s Lane.

I passed the vast rows of perfect exotic vegetables, past the long cold row of waiting fish, past the display of bright red beef, past the beer and wine and into the land of bulk food items – long vertical plexiglass chutes with a sliding gate at the bottom. These are filled with everything from nuts to grains. But I headed to the end of the winding displays – there there was coffee.

As a certified and certifiable coffee snob I’m not supposed to drink flavored coffee because the added artificial essence disguises the delicious perfection of the roasted beans. But I can’t help it. I like to have a selection. I like to open my tiny plastic tubs of beans and sniff them – choose the infusion of the day. I like the smell of flavored coffee in the whole bean, in the grinder, and in the cup.

So I picked up a bag, opened the valve on the Banana Nut flavored accumulation and let a little bit over a pound slide out. Off to the the side there are two banks of coffee grinders – one labeled “No Flavored Coffee” and the other “Flavored Coffee Only.” I ignore those – I like to grind my beans right before they go in the boiling water. I’m not sure if it really makes a difference, but I think it does.

I had to stand in line a long time clutching my tiny single bag – the Express Lane labeled “15 items or less” seemed chock full of folks with fourteen items each. But I eventually made it back to work and was able to re-fill my container with Banana Nut goodness.

My coffee ritual – bean selection, measurement, grinding, water heating, loading the aeropress, brewing, filtering, pressing, and finally drinking – that’s the high point of my day.

Aeropress, from Williams Sonoma

Non Fungible Tokens

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Sculptured Composition 1953 Charles T. Williams Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

I had a recurring, frustrating dream all night about NFTs. I was supposed to buy some for my work for some reason… but I didn’t (and don’t) understand exactly what a Non Fungible Token is. The seem to be some sort of Ponzi scheme… I guess – but it was imperative that I was to buy some. I remember surfing the internet in my dream, looking for a certain type of NFT that was related to the company I work for.

What a boring way to spend a whole night of dream-world, surfing the net. I woke up a few times only to fall asleep and go right back into the same dream.

And then it was time to go to work.

Sunday Snippet, Poem, Dust Crew by Bill Chance

“All happiness depends on courage and work.”

― Honoré de Balzac

Heat
Heat

Dust Crew

Six men sleep is a star pattern
feet, boots in against the tree
heads out
the only way
to pull a little shade from the mesquite
tree, thin green lacy thing
hats pulled down over eyes

What rough dreams stream
from such meager shelter?

A pickup brakes up
throwing dust
dirt stringing streaming out
brims tilt for a peek

Everyone jumps
at the boss
OK, off yer asses, y’all’s ten minutes up!”
one yells
in a futile excuse

Hausu

I always discuss important matters with children. Adults can only think about things they understand so everything stays on that boring human level.

—-Nobuhiko Obayashi

House (1977)

I knew I had some time to kill coming up so I decided to download a film from The Criterion Channel onto my tablet and watch it later. After some searching I decided on House – a Japanese horror film from 1977 that was supposed to be one of the weirdest films ever made.

And it was. Somehow this thing was made by Toho (the movie production company of Godzilla fame) in response to the success of Jaws. The two have nothing in common with each other – either in style, subject, or even a shared universe.

House is a trip – a strange, slightly perverse, bloody technicolor work of… if not crazed genius – at least extreme craziness. I would compare it to something else – but there is nothing else to compare it to.

The plot, such as it is, involves seven young Japanese schoolgirls with names that fit their personalities

Gorgeous – the main character – a thing of beauty

Fantasy – her best friend – a flighty girl who means well, but it subject to a lack of reality at most times.

Prof – bespectacled and brainy – the problem solver of the gang

Sweet – bubbly and naive – a bit frightened all the time

Mac – likes to eat and thinks of little else

Melody – a musical prodigy

Kung Fu – her name explains her gift – at one point she kicks her way out of her skirt and spends the rest of the film in her underwear.

These seven friends, after some misadventures, are bundled off for vacation to Gorgeous’ aunt’s house – which, of course is haunted, and very bad things begin to happen.

Fantasy finds Mac’s severed head in a well. The head proceeds to fly up and bite Fantasy on the ass. I told you it was weird.

What makes the film really strange and unexpected is the sweet, innocent and colorful tone which is mostly maintained even through the scenes of horror and bloodshed.

One thing I really liked were the beautiful painted backgrounds. At one point, once they leave a train, the seven girls are shown in front of an obviously painted scene of mountains and clouds. The camera pulls back revealing the painting – but it and the girls are in front of another, different panorama of mountains and clouds – this one also obviously painted.

So, if you want something more than a little different, but still very entertaining, pull up your streaming Criterion Channel and settle in for some House.

What I learned this week, April 29, 2022

A duck at dawn, Bachman Lake, Dallas, Texas

Massive Study Finds We Need Better Therapies Than Antidepressants. Here’s Why

Antidepressants are the mainstay for treating depression, but their use is clouded by questions about lasting efficacy. A new study now suggests antidepressants may not improve people’s quality of life in the long run, compared to depressed people who don’t take this type of medication.


Fabrication Yard, Dallas, Texas

Global Stagflation

Technology-led disinflation will not shelter us from a storm of fast rising prices amid economic slowdowns

Stagflation is staring Biden in the face — but he refuses to change course

There are two ways to address inflation: Remove some of the money from the system, which the Federal Reserve did in the past via higher interest rates, and increase the supply of goods. At this point in 1980, when inflation soared, the federal funds rate was nearly 20%. Presently, it’s 0.33%.


Arts District, Dallas, Texas

Princeton investigating head of gerrymandering lab for possible data manipulation

Princeton University is investigating Professor Sam Wang, the head of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project over allegations of data manipulation and complaints that he created a hostile working environment. Wang is a neuroscientist who in recent years has turned his statistical talents to polling analysis and redistricting. Now there are allegations that he was essentially cooking the books.


How to Organize Your Life

10 principles for organizing your work, home, health, fitness, hobbies, finances, and more…


David, by Boaz Vaadia, 2009, New York, Material: Bronze and Bluestone

For microorganisms to fighter jets – what does it take to thrive?

I was thinking about ‘Agile outside the agile box’ (what I’m calling for now “organizational fitness”) and the weird librarian part of my brain brought this up.


80% of All US Dollars in Existence Have Been Printed in Just the Last Two Years

Since March of 2020, Americans and the world alike have watched from the sidelines as power hungry politicians have ushered in draconian lockdowns, shutdowns, police state measures, and brought the economy to its knees. While governments around the planet used their central banks to devalue their currencies by printing money to fund their tyranny, the US led the way down this road to fiscal horror.


Sundance Square, Fort Worth, Texas

How William F. Buckley Learned That Evil Is Real

The moral of this tragic story is that people are often too trusting of criminals professing their innocence, and ignore the reality of human nature: Evil exists. Heinous crimes don’t commit themselves. Some people are capable of unspeakable acts. As hard as it may be to contemplate, murderers and other predators can be normal-looking, intelligent, and engaging! Nearly all criminals convicted of a crime are actually guilty. Juries do not generally convict arbitrarily. Instances of innocent people getting convicted (beyond a reasonable doubt) for a crime they didn’t commit are exceedingly rare. Offenders deserve to be punished. Exculpatory claims by prisoners—regardless of race—must be treated with skepticism. Yet, smart people sometimes get deceived by schemers like Smith. Why?


Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, She Titles the Email “Things are Moving Along” by Caitlin Scarano

“i made myself a snowball

As perfect as can be.

I thought I’d keep it as a pet,

And let it sleep with me.

I made it some pajamas

And a pillow for it’s head.

Then last night it ran away,

But first – It wet the bed.”

― Shel Silverstein

Cedars Open Studios 1805 Clarence Street Dallas, Texas

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Sunday, August 23, 1998

hold the chicken

I had big plans for today. I wanted to get up extra early and go bike riding downtown. I wanted to spend several hours writing. I wanted to start on the garage enclosure project. I didn’t do any of that.

It was tough pulling myself out of bed. Tired and sore, I flopped around the house, getting nothing done. I couldn’t even get up enough energy to scrub out K’nex and Mortimer’s (pronounced More-Timer) aquarium, and I feel bad about that. They do seem to perk up when I clean their little world.

Before I even knew what hit me, it was early afternoon and the kids had a birthday party to go to. Our Sunday volleyball games were scheduled for today too, so the plan was for me to make a token appearance at the birthday party (held at KidsQuest, a local park) and then head out to our friend’s house with some food.

When I showed up, though, the kids had other plans. There is a little triangle of dense woods and it was insisted by the under-ten set that I take them all on a hike through the trees. So I did. Rambling down the rough trails with a dozen little ones. The copse is usually thick and green, cool and humid, but the summer drought has taken its toll. The trees have lost most of their leaves and what is left is droopy and thin, the trails are wide and dry-packed.

We looped around through the faux wilderness for awhile and then I returned them all to the party and slipped off during the Opening of the Gifts.

It was fun to play volleyball again, we haven’t been able to get it in for several weeks. It was too hot, of course, and there was no breeze, and with the school year here, we all had to go home early, so we didn’t play as many games as usual. That’s fine, maybe I’ll be able to type this week, the last time I hurt my hands and arms enough to pain me for ten days.

Now it’s late, the TV’s on. I was going to write an entry about how I didn’t get anything done today, but I guess, looking back, I actually did something. Still, I sit here, the specter of the upcoming work week bearing down, I wish I had more time.

…. Right there, I took a pause, Five Easy Pieces is on the tube, Jack Nicholson is badgering the waitress, trying to get toast with his omelet. I love that scene. For all his rebellion, though, he never did get his toast.

It comes to that, doesn’t it. Do you want to rebel, or do you just want to eat some breakfast.

And now, a piece of flash fiction for today:

She Titles the Email “Things are Moving Along” by Caitlin Scarano

from Brevity

Caitlin Scarano Homepage

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Letting Go of the Dream by Pam Walters

“The toaster (lacking real bread) would pretend to make two crispy slices of toast. Or, if the day seemed special in some way, it would toast an imaginary English muffin.”
― Thomas M. Disch, The Brave Little Toaster

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

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Monday November 06, 2000

Tropical

I woke up and lay there in bed, in the darkness. Thinking it was time to go to work I craned to look at the clock, but it was only three AM. While I restlessly padded around the dark and quiet house the dog looked at me through half-lidded eyes before he sighed and went back to sleep, convinced I wasn’t up to anything interesting. I tried the TV – they were selling kitchen appliances, loading whole chickens into rotisserie grills. The audience ooohed and aaahed. They couldn’t believe the price.

This wasn’t working so I gulped down a glass of milk and went back to bed. I curled up with stress, worrying about the upcoming workday – things I needed to do and don’t know how I’ll get done. My stomach churned, my palms burned, I tossed and turned.

One stress relieving technique is to have a place in your mind, a place to go, a safe harbor, an imaginary retreat. I have one, modeled on a real place from far away and now long gone.

It’s a simple boat dock, a swimming dock mostly, remembered from my youth on Lake Gatun, in Panama. In my mind I imagine the steep walk down the rough trail through the jungle to the lake. In real life it was rare to walk this without getting bit by a tropical ant or stung by some jungle bee – but in my mind they don’t attack.

The dock is crude, made of pallets and other thrown-away wood, attached to old metal drums. No boat is tied up today – a couple of handmade wooden canoes are upside down, pulled into some thick greenery at the water’s edge. Everything is green; the jungle is alive. There’s a big tree leaning way out with a rope swing. Giant lizards sit in the tree. I pull the rope back and climb with it a little way up the muddy slope – then swing out and drop into the lake.

The water is warm, tropical green, fragrant. I swim on my back out toward the center of the inlet then dive down, holding my breath frog-kicking down until my ears pop. Rising, breaking the surface, I turn and in a few strokes I’m back to the dock, climbing up, and stretching out, resting there for a few minutes.

Of course, this place didn’t really exist exactly like that – my memory has molded it. What did exist is long gone, even the base I lived on has disappeared along with the entire Canal Zone.

In my mind, though, I’m there for a few minutes at least. I smile a little smile.

The alarm clock went off.

And now, a piece of flash fiction for today:

Letting Go of the Dream by Pam Walters

from Flash Fiction Magazine