Ramp

“He takes a kitchen chair and sits in the yard and all the ducks come around. He holds up the cheese curls in one hand and caramel popcorn in the other and his audience looks up and he tells them a joke. He says: So one day a duck come into this bar and ordered a whiskey and a bump and the bartender was pretty surprised, he says, “You know we don’t get many of you ducks in here.” The duck says, “At these prices I’m not surprised.* And he tosses out the popcorn and they laugh. ‘Wak wak wak wak wak. I was shot in the leg in the war.’ Have a scar? ‘No thanks, I don’t smoke.”

― Garrison Keillor, Truckstop and Other Lake Wobegon Stories

There’s a park at the end of my block with a couple of flood-control ponds (the drainage from the ponds runs in a creek/ditch behind my house). Despite their utility in times of rain and excessive urban runoff they are quite attractive.

The ponds at the end of my block, Richardson, Texas
Pond at the end of my block, Huffhines Park, Richardson, Texas
The ponds at the end of my block, Richardson, Texas
The ponds at the end of my street, Huffhines Park, Richardson, Texas

My neighborhood is called Duck Creek, because of the eponymous body of water that runs diagonally through the place, but there are also plenty of ducks. This is the time of year that the baby ducks are hatched and groups of them are herded around by their parents.

Huffhines Park Richardsion, Texas (click to enlarge)
They don’t call it Duck Creek for nothing.
Huffhines Creek, Richardson, Texas. My house is in the background to the left. This photo is taken from the little dam and under a bridge.

The problem is that there is a little, low dam at the end of the ponds. The water flows over it – during the summer it’s not much more than a trickle. Unfortunately, often a baby duck gets swept over this dam and separated from their loving duck family. They can’t get back over the dam, even though it isn’t more than a couple feet high.

The rest of the ducks then have to go over the dam to rescue their sibling. Then they have to waddle up the bank and cross a fairly busy street to get back into the pond.

People in my neighborhood have been complaining to the city about this and today, I discovered that there is a new construction project going. The city is making a concrete duckling ramp so that they can get up and over that low dam.

The duckling ramp under construction.

Excuse all the trash in the photo – it tends to collect there – a crew comes by periodically to pick it up.

I’ll go back in a few days, once the wooden forms are removed and see if the little ducks are actually using their ramp – I’m sure they will. Maybe the turtles will too. I’m sure the snakes will.

Does this count as infrastructure?

Cities, Like Dreams, Are Made of Desires and Fears

“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.”
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Dallas, Texas

Holding Malice Like A Puppy

“It was wrong to do this,” said the angel.
“You should live like a flower,
Holding malice like a puppy,
Waging war like a lambkin.”

“Not so,” quoth the man
Who had no fear of spirits;
“It is only wrong for angels
Who can live like the flowers,
Holding malice like the puppies,
Waging war like the lambkins.”
Stephen Crane, Complete Poems of Stephen Crane

 

Crocker Crane, Dallas, Texas

I am fascinated by large construction equipment – especially if it is complicated enough that I can’t really tell what the hell it is supposed to do.

The Ways Of Beauty Are As A Honeycomb

“Our house was made of stone, stucco, and clapboard; the newer wings, designed by a big-city architect, had a good deal of glass, and looked out into the Valley, where on good days we could see for many miles while on humid hazy days we could see barely beyond the fence that marked the edge of our property. Father, however, preferred the roof: In his white, light-woolen three-piece suit, white fedora cocked back on his head, for luck, he spent many of his waking hours on the highest peak of the highest roof of the house, observing, through binoculars, the amazing progress of construction in the Valley – for overnight, it seemed, there appeared roads, expressways, sewers, drainage pipes, “planned” communities with such names as Whispering Glades, Murmuring Oaks, Pheasant Run, Deer Willow, all of them walled to keep out intruders, and, yet more astonishing, towerlike buildings of aluminum and glass and steel and brick, buildings whose windows shone and winked like mirrors, splendid in sunshine like pillars of flame; such beauty where once there had been mere earth and sky, it caught at your throat like a great bird’s talons, taking your breath away. ‘The ways of beauty are as a honeycomb,’ Father told us, and none of us could determine, staring at his slow moving lips, whether the truth he spoke was a happy truth or not, whether even it was truth. (“Family”)”
Joyce Carol Oates, American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from the 1940’s Until Now

Construction, Downtown Dallas

Pointed Blasphemously At Heaven

“This tower, patched unevenly with black ivy, arose like a mutilated finger from among the fists of knuckled masonry and pointed blasphemously at heaven. At night the owls made of it an echoing throat; by day it stood voiceless and cast its long shadow.”
Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan

Downtown Dallas, Texas

Wait For His Neighbours To Make A Mistake

“A new social type was being created by the apartment building, a cool, unemotional personality impervious to the psychological pressures of high-rise life, with minimal needs for privacy, who thrived like an advanced species of machine in the neutral atmosphere. This was the sort of resident who was content to do nothing but sit in his over-priced apartment, watch television with the sound turned down, and wait for his neighbours to make a mistake.”
― J.G. Ballard, High-Rise

Arts District, Dallas, Texas

What We Build Could Be Anything

“It’s creepy, but here we are, the Pilgrims, the crackpots of our time, trying to establish our own alternate reality. To build a world out of rocks and chaos.
What it’s going to be, I don’t know.
Even after all that rushing around, where we’ve ended up is the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.
And maybe knowing isn’t the point.
Where we’re standing right now, in the ruins in the dark, what we build could be anything.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

Arts District, Downtown Dallas, Texas

Thrived Like an Advanced Species of Machine

“A new social type was being created by the apartment building, a cool, unemotional personality impervious to the psychological pressures of high-rise life, with minimal needs for privacy, who thrived like an advanced species of machine in the neutral atmosphere. This was the sort of resident who was content to do nothing but sit in his over-priced apartment, watch television with the sound turned down, and wait for his neighbours to make a mistake.”
― J.G. Ballard, High-Rise

Downtown Dallas, Texas



Oblique Strategy:
Short circuit (If eating peas improves virility, shovel them into your pants)

The city as mirrored crystal.

Here in the crystal city it is more unpleasant to be destroyed by gratification than by pain. The best things are its junk… as long as you understand what is junk. But the most dangerous of all is truth. A mirror can protect you from Medusa but the truth will stone you even in its reflection.

I Move, Therefore I Am

“Judging from the spiderwebs clinging to it, the emergency stairway was hardly ever used. To each web clung a small black spider, patiently waiting for its small prey to come along. Not that the spiders had any awareness of being “patient”. A spider had no special skill other than building its web, and no lifestyle choice other than sitting still. It would stay in one place waiting for its prey until, in the natural course of things, it shriveled up and died. This was all genetically predetermined. The spider had no confusion, no despair, no regrets. No metaphysical doubt, no moral complications. Probably. Unlike me.
I move,therefore I am.”

― Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

Trinity River Levee Dallas, Texas

Trinity River Levee
Dallas, Texas