What I learned this week, September 16, 2022

Heart of Texas Red, Craft Beer Logo, Four Corners Brewing Company, The Cedars, Dallas, Texas

50+ Old Fashioned Insults We Should Bring Back.

I live in Texas, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – but I hear a few of these used on a fairly-regular basis. “All Hat and No Cattle” – almost every day.


Underwood Typewriter
Underwood Typewriter

The Single Reason Why People Can’t Write, According to a Harvard Psychologist

This common affliction is behind so much unclear and confusing writing in the world today.


Never Forget the COVID Facists:

I submit to you that the COVID policies—shutdowns and lockdowns; “stay home, stay safe;” mandatory masking, social distancing, testing, and vaccines; and so on—perpetuated by the American left and those like-minded were the greatest demonstration of fascism the United States has ever known. In the nearly 250-year history of the U.S., never before has the American government exercised such power over its citizenry as it did in the name of “slowing the spread,” “following the science,” and the like. And never before in the history of the U.S. has the exercise of government power been so misinformed and misguided, with such disastrous results.


Braindead Brewing, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Want to be happy? Don’t follow your gut.

A data scientist on what truly makes us happy.


Tony Collins Art, Dallas, Texas

Read This Piece by James Lileks.

I’m just a bit older – but I remember being afraid of the end of the world when I was a kid. It was atomic war, of course that scared me. The “duck and cover” drills at school didn’t help. For ten years I had repetitive, awful nightmares about sentient atomic bombs (they looked like dirigibles) in the sky, searching for me… especially for me.


Regret can be all-consuming – a neurobehavioral scientist explains how people can overcome it

Regret can increase stress and negatively affect one’s physical health.


Decline in Americans’ quality of life just keeps accelerating

Scrolling Twitter–a practice I detest but is required for the job–does have its upside. I occasionally have an “aha” moment spurred on by an insight thrown out into the world by somebody else. It almost makes the drudgery of sorting the wheat from the chaff bearable. Almost.


Rum Flavored Coffee

“I was not proud of what I had learned but I never doubted that it was worth knowing.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary

Es café macerado en ron, posee todas las propiedades organolépticas del ron, pero tiene grado de alcohol

If you have been reading this for a while you already know that I have (although I didn’t want to/plan to) fallen way down the coffee rabbit hole… serious gourmet shit.

Even though I have, for all practical purposes, almost quit drinking alcohol (for no known reason) – one thing I have been experimenting with is making rum flavored coffee. More specifically Ron Flor de Cana flavored coffee. My experiment of adding some rum to a container of coffee beans and then drying them in the air fryer was a spectacular failure. The beans became soft and I can’t get them to grind properly. A waste of coffee beans and of Flor de Cana.

Now, finally I have figured it out. Make the coffee and then add the rum to it. Makes the morning better. We’ll have to see what it does to the afternoon.

What I learned this week, September 2, 2022

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

How to read philosophy

The first thing to remember is that the great philosophers were only human. Then you can start disagreeing with them


City Hall, Dallas, Texas

Truth, Nihilism, and the American Founding

The founding of the United States is surely one of the greatest events in world history. It was what we might call a trans-historical moment. America is the first nation in history to be founded openly and explicitly on the basis of certain philosophic ideas. If the Old World invented and launched the Enlightenment, it was the Anglo-American New World that made it a living reality.


The Economic Doom Loop Has Begun

No communist was ever as dedicated to economic suicide as the current class of idiots who rule us.


Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Elites’ divide & conquer failure: How middle class now view their rulers with rightly earned disdain

Elites have always been ambiguous about the muscular classes who replace their tires, paint their homes, and cook their food. And the masses who tend to them likewise have been ambivalent about those who hire them: appreciative of the work and pay, but also either a bit envious of those with seemingly unlimited resources or turned off by perceived superciliousness arising from their status and affluence.


Bicycle Drag Races, Continental Bridge Park, Dallas, Texas

How Mindfulness Can Make You a Better Cyclist (and 4 Tips for How to Do It)

Practice being present to find your flow on and off the bike.


Signs at one end (downtown) of the Dallas Streetcar

The end of the Constitution at the hands of the left

Many people have linked to this recent op-ed in The NY Times by Harvard Law professor Ryan Doerfler and Yale Law professor Samuel Moyn. John Hinderaker of Powerline discusses the piece here, as well, and he calls it “literally one of the stupidest things I have ever read.”


Recycled Books Records CDs Denton, Texas (click to enlarge)

Area man named Bob Jablonski returns library book called Hitler 77 years overdue.


What I learned this week, August 26, 2022

The best thing about a bicycle second line is that when the parade pauses to let the slower riders catch up – you can dance in the streets. New Orleans, Louisiana

12 Simple Strategies to Lose Weight After 50

Painless ways to drop extra pounds you’ve acquired.


Above the bar, Three Links, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas Ancient Mystic Order of Samaritans AMOS, Xerxes

Unraveling the Enigma of Reason

The basic puzzle is this:

  1. If reason is so useful, why do human beings seem to be the only animals to possess it? Surely, a lion who had excellent reasoning abilities would catch more gazelles? Yet human beings seem to be alone in the ability to reason about things.
  2. If reason is so powerful, why are we so bad at it? Why do we have tons of cognitive biases? Reasoned thinking is supposed to be good, but we seem to use it fairly little as a species.

The end of the Constitution

Many people have linked to this recent op-ed in The NY Times by Harvard Law professor Ryan Doerfler and Yale Law professor Samuel Moyn. John Hinderaker of Powerline discusses the piece here, as well, and he calls it “literally one of the stupidest things I have ever read.”


Restrained, by Deborah Butterfield, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

Dark horses in the cosmos

Could primordial black holes from the beginning of time explain ‘dark matter’, the mysterious missing mass in the Universe?


Illustration by Jean L. Huens for the Saturday Evening Post. Don for the short story “The Snails,” by Patricia Highsmith.

What to Read Before and After Seeing Loving Highsmith

I have written about Patricia Highsmith before:

The Quest for the “Blank Claveringi”

I wonder if the book/movie will talk about her love of snails.


Jupiter is a dreamlike jewel in new James Webb Space Telescope images

‘It’s really remarkable that we can see details on Jupiter together with its rings, tiny satellites, and even galaxies in one image.’


Big Lake Park, Plano, Texas

Podcast – the Pigeon Towers of Iran

Join us for a daily celebration of the world’s most wondrous, unexpected, even strange places.


There Is Nothing More Expensive Than A Free Sample

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”
― Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground

Coffee and morning pages.

For her birthday I bought Candy a six-month membership in a tea of the month club. Every month she gets two samples of gourmet tea from a different country – along with information on the tea and the place of origin. She liked it and it seemed to be a good thing.Unfortunately, the tea company also had a sister organization that sold coffee. They sent along a free sample – enough for two cups – of fresh beans which she gave to me. I ground, brewed, and drank.

Goddamn it… it was good. Really good.

It was from Costa Rica – from the flyer:

origin: Tarrazu, Costa Rica
farm: San Isidro
type: Catuai

This fruit bomb with lush notes of cherry, black currant, passion fruit, and cocoa comes from Hacienda San Isidro Labrador Project, a farm is located 1900 meters above sea level on the hills of Dota, in the Tarrazu region. It is a small, family-owned farm overseen by Johel Monge Naranjo and his son Matias. The pair focus on specialty and traceable coffee. Their product have consistently placed atop the annual Cup of Excellence competition that identifies the very best coffee being grown in Costa Rica.

It was an anaerobic fermented coffee – which means it was stored in barrels or tanks with no oxygen exposure and allowed to ferment to some degree. That gave it a unique, wine-like flavor – complex… that I really liked.

So I ordered some coffee – it was expensive, but not ridiculous. The order arrived promptly and it is a really nice treat every morning. So now, I’m hooked. That was an expensive free sample.

At any rate, I’ve been reading about anaerobic fermentation for coffee beans – here’s an interesting YouTube video (among many).

Let Me Sip

“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

Notebook, pens, and a cup of Ethiopian Coffee, Staycation, Richardson, Texas

I woke up early, read a bit before dawn, and rode my bike to Staycation for a cup of coffee and a table to write a bit on.

Here’s what’s in my journal – so you don’t have to strain to read it:

Monday – August 15th 2022
7:20 Staycation Coffee

Woke up at six – not sure why, but slept well and felt good. Maybe lack of television (I’m embarking on my reading plan – finished “Desperate Characters” last night – read in 2 days) – have to try that more. Read a chapter (1) of “Mobius Dick” in the backyard before dawn – then left home on my bike at about six thirty when the sun came up. Nice ride here – went by way of Spring Valley – 4 miles – I wanted to see what Staycation was like at seven on a workday – a little disappointed – only one other customer – bought single-origin drip – an Ethiopian blend – pretty good…
Let Me Sip.

I took this photo with my phone and posted it to ‘Gram/Facebook and someone asked about my pens – both the one you can see and the other three in the case. Here’s my reply:

I don’t usually carry nice/expensive pens on my bike – the one you see is one of my favorites, though it is inexpensive. It is a ten dollar Jinhao 159 with a custom Goulet Pens #6 nib. The pen cost under ten dollars (the nib was about fifteen, I think) and I have had people ask, “Is that a Montblanc?” The other pens are a Platinum Preppy, a Hero 616 Parker “51” clone, and, I guess the best, a vintage touchdown-filling Sheaffer inlaid nib pen.

I wrote some more, rode home (by a longer route to get 12 miles in) and the day was still only beginning.

What I learned this week, August 12, 2022

The Cedars, Dallas, Texas

Could learning algebra in my 60s make me smarter?

New Yorker writer Alec Wilkinson struggled with maths at school, finding inspiration in literature instead. But aged 65, in the hope of unlocking a new part of his brain, he decided to put the limits of his intelligence to the test


Clarence Street Art Collective, The Cedars, Dallas, Texas

Stretching: 5 back and chest stretches that treat and prevent neck pain

For a while – I had a lot of neck pain riding my bike. These stretches help.


At each end of the main drag were large stages. This guy was drawing a band – though they had already finished.

How to start drawing

I have always dreamed of learning to draw. Is it too late?


Lyndon Baines Johnson Freeway and Texas Instruments Boulevard, Dallas, Texas

Why Doing Good Makes It Easier to Be Bad

Oscar Wilde, the famed Irish essayist and playwright, had a gift, among other things, for counterintuitive aphorisms. In “The Soul of Man Under Socialism,” an 1891 article, he wrote, “Charity creates a multitude of sins.”


Paths (detail), by Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir, Arts District, Dallas, Texas

The Simple Idea Behind Einstein’s Greatest Discoveries

Lurking behind Einstein’s theory of gravity and our modern understanding of particle physics is the deceptively simple idea of symmetry. But physicists are beginning to question whether focusing on symmetry is still as productive as it once was.


The best Tex-Mex feast ever photographed. From the gatefold of the ZZ Top, Tres Hombres album

Woke food lovers have lost their minds over ‘cultural appropriation’

Once upon a time, it was permissible to make light-hearted fun of cuisines that were unfamiliar or exotic to film audiences.

But in today’s unforgiving and witless world of Indigenous-Cuisine Purity, good-natured jokes are strictly verboten. Worse, just about any dish not from Western Europe that isn’t cooked by a native-born chef is either a fake version of the  cuisine or a wicked ripoff of it — or both.


Autumn grasses, Courthouse Square, McKinney, Texas

The Grasshopper Elite and Its Enemy

Unfortunately, those loud and troublesome pests, though few, control almost all the levers of political and state police power.


What I learned this week, August 6, 2022

Unicycle, Ronald Kirk Pedestrian Bridge, Dallas, Texas

The Quiet Glory of Aging into Athleticism

I wasn’t ready to be an athlete, in any capacity, as a adolescent or young adult. I am now.


Sleep
Sleep

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

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


Braindead Brewing, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

How to Wake Up Smiling: 5 Daily Habits That Made Me a More Positive Person

I’m usually a pretty happy person, but about a year ago—perhaps due to a lack of social connections and laughter—I experienced a few dark months. During those months, I spent most of my waking hours (and probably nights as well) consumed with negative thoughts.


Woman writing in a Moleskine Notebook, Wichita, Kansas

Two Writing Tips That Instantly Improve Your Everyday Writing

Do you see yourself as a writer? If not, it’s time to change that perception. Because you are a writer. In fact, everyone is. And here are two writing tips that will make your writing more effective.


Movie Poster for First Spaceship on Venus (Silent Star) – I remember the excitement of seeing this poster, even though I was probably six years old at the time.

TVs Are Too Good Now
Why does Home Alone look better than the latest Marvel fare on the most advanced displays?

I am really burned out on the overuse of CGI – this explains one reason.


They have been talking about bringing this amazing grand old hotel back for decades. I’ll believe it when I see it.

The Hotel-Spirit

Bringing back a grand American institution could transform society. What’s stopping us?


Persuation, from Twenty Heads

2 words that can help check your assumptions about people

Asking “so what?” can bring out your hidden beliefs and ideas, says career strategist Gail Tolstoi-Miller.


It Does Taste Better in a Pulp Fiction Cup

“Don’t you just love it when you come back from the bathroom and find your food waiting for you?” — Mia, Pulp Fiction

My Morning Coffee

I woke up looking forward to my morning coffee even more than I usually do (If that is possible – does a heroin addict look forward to certain fixes more?) because I would drink it in my swag Pulp Fiction coffee cup.

Most mornings I make a double strength coffee in my Aeropress , dilute it with hot water, and put it in a vacuum container (either a thermos or, as today, in a Contigo insulated cup that fits in my bicycle water bottle holder). I like that because I can pour it into a real cup a bit at a time and control the drinking temperature.

So, the question is, did it taste better in the swag cup?

Sure did, I mean this is some serious gourmet shit.

I Luv Ya Honey Bunny

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides
By the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men
Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will
Shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness
For he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children
And I will strike down upon thee
With great vengeance and furious anger
Those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers
And you will know my name is the Lord
When I lay my vengeance upon thee

—-Eziekiel 25 17, Pulp Fiction

Swag from the Alamo Drafthouse Pulp Fiction Party

Tonight Candy and I had tickets to a Pulp Fiction Party at the Richardson Alamo Drafthouse.

I haven’t seen Pulp Fiction in a theater for a long, long time – it was time to see it again.

There were a few things that made this showing a “Party.” An employee came out in a bathrobe with a coffee mug before the showing and gave an enthusiastic and F-Bomb filled introduction. They had a Jackrabbit Slim twist contest – I was disappointed that no couple showed up dressed as Mia and Vincent. The winner received a genuine Bad Mother Fucker wallet.

Coolest of all, everyone received some swag – A Serious Gourmet Shit coffee mug, a pack of candy cigarettes, and a Zed Keychain (Zed’s Dead, baby). Now I have a place to keep my chopper keys.