What I learned this week, September 7, 2021

There’s lots you can cook up with the crawfish. Corn, crabs – or here, sausage, garlic heads, and taters. It all takes the spice and the flavor of the crawfish.

The Last Days of the Blue-Blood Harvest

Every year, more than 400,000 crabs are bled for the miraculous medical substance that flows through their bodies—now pharmaceutical companies are finally committing to an alternative that doesn’t harm animals.


13 easy ways to switch off from work at the end of the day

Are you struggling to maintain a work/life balance right now? Here’s how to switch off and reclaim your evening. 


(click to enlarge) Adam, by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, plus admirer Cullen Sculpture Garden Houston, Texas

How narcissists climb the career ladder quickly

People with a high degree of narcissism get promoted faster, new research shows. Why?


The Secret to Happiness at Work

Your job doesn’t have to represent the most prestigious use of your potential. It just needs to be rewarding.


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.

Go ahead, have that third cup of coffee.

Downing up to three cups of coffee daily is associated with lower risks for stroke and death from cardiovascular disease, as well as death from all causes, suggests research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in France last week.


Jars of Kimchi, half and full gallons.

Fermented foods for better gut health

Naturally fermented foods are getting a lot of attention from health experts these days because they may help strengthen your gut microbiome—the 100 trillion or so bacteria and microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. Researchers are beginning to link these tiny creatures to all sorts of health conditions from obesity to neurodegenerative diseases.


Downtown Dallas, Texas

The Filling Station on Greenville Avenue: From Bonnie & Clyde to Legendary Burger Place

I have been going to businesses in that building on Greenville Avenue since… maybe 1979 or so. I remember the old Filling Station – mostly for having a hot, fresh, fried mushroom and onion ring platter called “Nuts and Bolts.” The article is a little old – it was a Schlotzsky’s (one of my favorite fast-food sandwich places – its round fare resembles a New Orleans Muffaletta) for a few years – now that is gone. I’ll waiting to see what’s next… hopefully not a wrecking ball.

I never realized it was a historical hangout of Bonnie & Clyde.

The Honey Process

“It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.”
― Dave Barry

My Aeropress at a campsite, Lake Ray Roberts, Texas

I did not set out to be a coffee snob – I really didn’t. But now, looking back, it was inevitable.

Like everyone else my age, my early years were marked by my parents boiling cheap ground stale Robusta coffee in a percolator, recirculating the grounds, through a layer of toilet paper (always out of filters) until it was so bitter it was undrinkable – then drinking it anyway. I remember being fascinated at watching the water bubbling against the little glass knob on the top – the sound of exuberant roiling water and the smell of burned beans. When I got to college my parents bought me a percolator which I modified with some rubber tubing into a crude still – nothing worse than a nascent chemist in a dorm room with something to heat liquids.

Then there was the Mr. Coffee – which made a little bit better brew – but still the coffee itself was terrible. Right after school I spent some time addicted to daily morning coffee from the machine at work along with a stale sugared bread-thing from the next. I gave that up and went through miserable withdrawal when I learned of the screaming high-pitched caffeine headache that stuff would cause. Then came Starbucks, which actually makes terrible coffee (I always think of Starbucks as an office rental place, rather than a coffee shop) but it at least put coffee culture on the map. And it became a decades-long rabbit hole for me, and many, many others.

After years of experimentation I finally settled on a French Press and was happy with it except for the difficulty cleaning it out.

And then along came the AeroPress which I realized was the perfect way to make coffee. I now have two – one and home and a portable model at work.

For a while, I would grind a week’s worth of beans on the weekend. But then, as I fell farther, I realized that it really does make a better cup if you grind the beans fresh… and bought a simple hand grinder for my desk at work.

So now I’m exploring the (literally)world of coffee beans. I learned quickly that I like light roast (the taste of the coffee varietal and location comes through better – plus a bit more caffeine).

My favorite place for buying coffee beans is Central Market. Yes, there are some very good custom roasters in my area, and I will visit them, but each one is somewhat limited and it can be tough to find exactly what I want. Beside, most of the best Dallas roasters have product in Central Market anyway. They have a vast selection of bulk bins full of a wide variety of whole bean coffee and there is something about putting the brown bag under the chute, lifting the handle, and listening to the coffee slide down.

The only downside is there isn’t a Central Market within easy bicycling distance from my house. The other day though I was driving back from some work I did at another location of my company and the route took me by the Central Market at Lover’s Lane and Greenville. I stopped as quickly as I could and found a coffee that looked really good – In-House Roasted Coffee Nicaragua Jinotega Honey Process.

Ok, let’s back up almost fifty years. I was in high school and living in Managua. A good friend had an uncle that ran a coffee plantation in the mountains above Jinotega and three of us hitch-hiked up there over Semana Santa (Easter Break) and had a great time. We spent one night in Matagalpa (an amazing city) and one in the coffee warehouse in Jinotega (the odor was amazing) before making it all the way to the plantation. There we rode horses and explored the area. There was even a miles-long wooden aqueduct that provided water for washing the coffee beans and hydroelectric power for a few lights around the main house. Amazing memories.

So, I have a built-in preference for Nicaraguan… and especially Jinotegan coffee.

I wondered about the “Honey Process” and looked it up. It has nothing to do with honey – it refers to processing the coffee with a layer of the fruit still attached to the inner bean. Supposedly it makes for a sweeter cup.

And the coffee is fantastic. It’s exactly what I was looking for. As I begin to run low I need to get back to Central Market and buy some more. I’m a little worried that I’ll miss out on other good things if I keep buying this – but I can’t imagine anything I’d like better.

I did not set out to be a coffee snob – I really didn’t.

What I learned this week, September 1, 2021

TikTok doctor explains why sneakers filled with human feet keep washing up on beaches in the Pacific Northwest

OK… is this the most clickbait headline ever? The crazy thing is, once you think about it clearly – OF COURSE sneakers with human feet keep washing up on beaches in the Pacific Northwest.


Walking correctly takes work—here’s how to improve every step

Experts explain how to make the most of your daily strolls.


Help Lee run NYC Marathon with Gladney!


Dallas Skyline at Night

Big D Is a Big Deal

Dallas–Fort Worth is becoming the de facto capital of America’s Heartland.


11 Self-Sabotaging Phrases to Drop From Your Vocabulary

We can avoid saying things that unwittingly hold us back.


Zen-like Christmas decorations, Waxahachie, Texas

The Zen rule for becoming happier: Change one thing

Start Small


Bicycle Drag Racer on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

Here’s How Much to Ride a Week to Keep Your Brain 9 Years Younger

Cycling definitely helps keep you in great physical shape, but that’s not the only benefit your favorite activity has on your body. According to new research out of Durham, North Carolina, aerobic exercise has some serious perks for your brain, too-like helping to reverse its age by almost nine years.


The concept of schizophrenia is coming to an end – here’s why

Arguments that schizophrenia is a distinct disease have been “fatally undermined”. Just as we now have the concept of autism spectrum disorder, psychosis (typically characterised by distressing hallucinations, delusions, and confused thoughts) is also argued to exist along a continuum and in degrees. Schizophrenia is the severe end of a spectrum or continuum of experiences.


And now, as a palate cleanser – this has become a viral meme, but in case you haven’t seen it…. Those darn kids!

What I learned this week, August 18, 2021

Carnival Valor, Caribbean Sea

Sit all day for work? A simple step can cut your health risk

Take a work break: A small, new study suggests that getting out of your chair every half hour may help improve your blood sugar levels and your overall health.


Striding Figure (RomeI), Thomas Houseago, ydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

How to Adopt the Japanese Approach to Accepting Life’s Challenges, “Ukeireru”

Experts explain how the concept may help you overcome almost anything.


Escaping the Efficiency Trap—and Finding Some Peace of Mind

The more productive we are, the more pressure we feel. It’s time to break the busyness cycle.


Car fire just north of downtown, Dallas.

Here Are the Urban Highways That Deserve to Die

The Congress for New Urbanism once again ranks the most-loathed urban freeways in North America—and makes the case for tearing them down.

Freeways Without Futures


The Organizing Method That’s Gearing Up to Replace KonMari

First there was Marie Kondo, who asked us to only keep things that sparked joy. Then came The Home Edit’s Clea and Joanna, who made arranging our books by color and shopping our pantries officially a thing. So what’s next? Get ready to organize from the inside out.  


Highway 75 at Sunset (click to enlarge)

Mathematicians have solved traffic jams, and they’re begging cities to listen

Most traffic jams are unnecessary, and this deeply irks mathematicians who specialize in traffic flow. They reserve particular vitriol for local transport engineers. “They do not have competencies in the field of system-related increases in traffic performance,” says Alexander Krylatov, a mathematics professor at St. Petersburg University. “If engineers manage to achieve local improvements, after a while the flows rearrange and the same traffic jams appear in other places.” Burn!


What the science actually says about weighted blankets

The concept of a weighted blanket is pretty self-explanatory. They’re blankets stuffed with pellets—usually made of glass or a plastic like polyethylene—and can weigh as much as 25 pounds. You can readily find one online for around $150, though they’re simple enough to make that you can find plenty of DIY guides for making your own at a fraction of that price.

What I learned this week, August 11, 2021

Golden Boy, in AT&T Plaza, Dallas, Texas

Is Life Better When You’re Busy?

Why is everybody so busy? Nearly a century ago, the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted we’d only work fifteen hours a week. Incomes would grow and so would our free time.

Except that hasn’t happened. Income rose, but we kept working long hours. Why?

One answer is that people like to be busy. This paper argues that people dread idleness and are generally happier when they’re busy than when there’s nothing to do.


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

Too Many Jobs Feel Meaningless Because They Are

If work that is of no real value has proliferated, no wonder productivity is stagnant.


The music started at The Free Man.

Classical Music’s Suicide Pact (Part 1)

Classical Music’s Suicide Pact (Part 2)

Classical music is under racial attack. Orchestras and opera companies are said to discriminate against black musicians and composers. The canonical repertoire—the product of a centuries-long tradition of musical expression—is allegedly a function of white supremacy.

Not one leader in the field has defended Western art music against these charges. Their silence is emblematic. Other supposed guardians of Western civilization, whether museum directors, humanities professors, or scientists, have gone AWOL in the face of similar claims, lest they themselves be denounced as racist.

The campaign against classical music is worth examining in some detail, for it reveals the logic that has been turned against nearly every aspect of Western culture over the last year.


Fish on the sidewalk, Governor Nichols Street New Orleans, Louisiana

How to Tie the Strongest Fishing Knot


The insides of pro bowling balls will make your head spin


How to Reheat Fried Chicken So It Tastes Amazing


State Street Gallery, Dallas, Texas

Beat Stress Like a Navy SEAL With This Ridiculously Easy Exercise


Simone Biles and the problem with ‘self-care’


The Olympics showed us how out of fashion resilience has become.

What I learned this week, July 31, 2021

Isaak swimming a little at the NorthBark Dog Park, Dallas, Texas

Swimming gives your brain a boost – but scientists don’t know yet why it’s better than other aerobic activities

I was thinking this morning about things that I miss from when I was younger – and swimming is one of them. When I lived in Panama I used to swim across open water (in Lake Gatun) – sometimes a mile a day. Now, it all seems like a dream.


New Orleans Lafayette Cemetery No. 1

A new start after 60: ‘I was sick, tired and had lost myself – until I began lifting weights at 71’

Joan Macdonald faced growing health problems before she began lifting weights, shattering preconceptions about what’s possible in your eighth decade


The Stainless Internet (Detail) George Tobolowsky 2015, Stainless Steel Hall Sculpture Garden Dallas, Texas

The Day the Good Internet Died

I remember the early days of the internet – there was such excitement and feelings that the possibilities were endless – especially at work. Those slowly died (were murdered, actually) and the digital world became the oppressive monster we all know today. What a shame.


Recycled Books Denton, Texas

5 Digital Libraries Where You Can Download Ebooks for Free

So little time, so many books.


Children’s Waterpark, Waxahachie, Texas

Megaripples may be evidence of giant tsunami resulting from Chicxulub impact

I just like the word, “Megaripples.”


Woman writing in a Moleskine Notebook, Wichita, Kansas

Why Emotionally Intelligent Minds Embrace the Rule of ‘Writing in Reverse’

Learn to ‘write in reverse,’ and change the way you communicate.


What I learned this week, July 24, 2021

Republic Tower, Dallas, Texas

Loneliness: Coping with the gap where friends used to be

One bad (possibly the second worst) thing about being old is how difficult it is to make friends. Good friends you have had for a long, long time drift away and new ones are hard to come by. Is it impossible?


Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Fully Oligarchic Luxury Californication

The tech elite have joined forces with progressive visionaries to establish a model of America’s feudal future.


Scott Burns: What history tells us about stock market returns

As I think/dream about retirement, the stock market becomes very, very important to me.


Thanksgiving Square, Dallas, Texas

Changing Habits: Interview with Dr. Amy Bucher, a Behavior Change Designer

I recently caught up with Dr. Amy Bucher, the author of Engaged, a compelling guidebook on designing products and services that change people’s lives. She talks about behavioral design, the science of crafting products and services in such a way as to shape or influence human behavior. Here is our conversation.


Timeboxing: The Most Powerful Time Management Technique You’re Probably Not Using

Timeboxing is the nearest thing we have to productivity magic, yet most people don’t utilize it. Here’s how to overcome the top 3 reasons why.

“I can’t seem to get enough done.”

“I’m always distracted.”

“Why can’t I focus?”

I hear these complaints from my clients and readers all the time.

But when I recommend perhaps the most effective technique ever devised to help people stay on track, most of them balk.

“You want me to plan every minute of my day?”

Yes! Now what are you waiting for?


From Todd Alcott’s Pulp Tarot

The Pulp Tarot

A new Tarot deck, designed by graphic artist Todd Alcott, drawing inspiration from midcentury pulp illustrations

I use a Tarot deck to help generate fiction writing ideas. I just have an ordinary (cheap) Rider-Waite tarot deck – but I look at more artistic and interesting decks – it could be a rabbit hole – but if I had a little more money I know I’d buy a few.

From Todd Alcott’s Pulp Tarot

The attack of the garish, gaudy Evil Dream Hippies

Is Dreaming Real?

When you’re lucid, it can feel so real the distinction ceases to matter.

What I learned this week, July 16, 2021

Coal and coke fire, Frisco, Texas.

What Kind of Burnt Out Are You? (And Why It Matters)

Different types of burnout require different solutions.


Classic Songs Reimagined as Vintage Pulp Book Covers


Time Management Won’t Save You


How bacteria are changing your mood


Time blocking 101: A step-by-step guide to getting the most from your daily schedule

You can probably count on your fingers the number of times you’ve completed 8 hours of work in an 8-hour workday. Whether it’s endless meetings, constant emails, or coworkers popping in for a “quick chat,” your productivity rarely makes it through the day.

The problem is that when you design your to-do list for an 8-hour workday but end up with just 1-2 hours of productive time, you’re going to be in trouble.


loteria card

Deep Habits: Use Index Cards to Accelerate Important Projects

The Depth Deck

The idea behind the depth deck is simple. Identify one or two deep projects that are important to your professional life.

For each project, identify one or two concrete next steps that:

  1. require deep work;
  2. are self-contained in the sense that they have a single focus and a clear criteria for when they’re completed.

Stylish bike rider, French Quarter, New Orleans

Garland, Dallas County tag team on another trail to connect Garland to Richardson

What I learned this week, July 9, 2021

The More Options You Have, The Happier You Are

I have read some opinions that the opposite is true, that we are all suffering from too many options. This article makes more sense to me, though.

(click to enlarge)

New website allows users to track mesmerizing journey of a raindrop

Take a look, play around with this website. It is really cool. Try Western Colorado.

River Runner

The river and downtown, from the Crescent Park Bridge, New Orleans

How to Make Time Slow Down


Japan’s unusual way to view the world

Wabi-sabi offers a refuge from the modern world’s obsession with perfection, and accepts imperfections as all the more meaningful – and, in their own way, beautiful.


By Now, Burnout Is a Given

The pandemic has stripped our emotional reserves even further, laying bare our unique physical, social, and emotional vulnerabilities.

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, by Umberto Boccioni, Cole and Blackburn, Dallas, Texas

Fight Fatigue by Harnessing the Power of Your Internal Clock

Sluggish? Tired? Seven tips for getting your body into better alignment.


Bicycle and Coffee

“Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup”
― Gertrude Stein, Selected Writings

My Aeropress at a campsite, Lake Ray Roberts, Texas

As I (we) come out of the pandemic nightmare I (we) still grapple with purposelessness, boredom,and loneliness. I struggle for something to do, anything to do.

I have discovered one thing. I get up before dawn, make a thermos of coffee in my Aeropress, and then ride somewhere on my bicycle. I sip the coffee as the sun comes up, then I read a bit, then I ride home.

Unfortunately, I can only do this on the days when I don’t go into work, so it isn’t very often. If I could, I’d do this every day. I find myself looking at maps of my city and finding places to go… places that may look interesting at dawn, places with a place to sit, places just the right distance away.

I think this weekend I’m going to up my game a bit. I think I’ll ride to the DART station and ride the train somewhere, then ride my bike, then drink coffee. I might even take my grinder, Aeropress Go, and a few beans to make fresh coffee. There is a new park in downtown Dallas I’d like to visit.

Or maybe ride to the train station and get on the next train, no matter which direction it’s going in. Get off where I feel and then look for a place to sit.

It isn’t much… but it’s the best I can do for now.

My coffee thermos.