Short Story (flash fiction) Of the Day, Confrontations by David Galef

Maggie kept saying I should exercise restraint, that I might still have my teller’s job at First National if I’d been more polite. I had several replies to that, once bottled up, but no longer.

—–David Galef, Confrontations

(click to enlarge)

This guy came to see me at work. “I was almost run over in the crosswalk coming from the parking lot,” he said to me. This happens a lot, especially at certain times of the day; a good portion of the campus population goes by our entrance. When they are late they drive too fast and distracted and when the sun is just rising it’s hard for everyone to see. The guy at my desk though… I had seen him before walking around, very fast, with his head down – like a maniac.

“Do you have any details?” I asked, “What kind of car? Did you get a license number? How fast were they going?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I wasn’t looking, I actually walked into the side of the car as they drove in front of me. Never even saw it.”

“Umm, that’s a bad spot, you should look before you step off the curb.”

“No!” he said. He was angry. “It’s a crosswalk and I have the right of way. I don’t have to look.”

I think about this all the time. Technically, he is right. The cars have the responsibility to look for pedestrians and to stop. Of course.

But you are a sliver of soft flesh and delicate bone and they are huge metal machines that weigh more than a ton and rush around at high speeds. You are going to get killed and they are going to get smudged. To me, that gives them the ultimate right of way. You are responsible for your own fate, as much as possible… you should… you need to look out.

It’s amazing how drastically different other people can look at the same world that I do.

Read today’s flash fiction here:

Confrontations by David Galef

from BRILLIANT flash fiction

With All Their Speed Forward

“I’m not sure he’s wrong about automobiles,” he said. “With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization — that is, in spiritual civilization. It may be that they will not add to the beauty of the world, nor to the life of men’s souls.”
Booth Tarkington, The Magnificent Ambersons

A while back, on July 26, 2012 to be exact, I wrote a blog entry called Bicycle Lanes. In it I wrote a bit about Richardson’s attempts at improving its cycling infrastructure. I praised the bike trails and especially the bike lanes (while noticing some dangerous flaws).

But I also mentioned how dangerous some of the railroad crossings are. For example, at Arapaho (a very busy street that is necessary for me to get to the library and a few other spots) I took this photo:

Rail crossing on Arapaho road – July, 2012.

I wrote:

There are three lanes of traffic both ways going through that little space – going fast, up to fifty miles per hour or more (don’t lecture me on speed limits… this is Texas). There is no sidewalk, no shoulder, no other way to cross. That hump has a set of rough wheel-swallowing steel rails sitting there on top of it. You hit that wrong on a bike and you are going down. There is no other crossing to the north for a mile. It’s two miles south to a safe crossing.

The Grove road bike lane is right behind me… as is the Arapaho DART station. If I want to ride my bike to the library; I have to go through there. If there is any traffic at all I have no alternative than to stop, get off my bike, and carry it over the tracks.

Which isn’t the worst thing in the world… but I wish someone would work on these choke points.

It’s been almost seven years now, and the city has done something. Here’s what that exact same railroad crossing looks like now:

Railroad crossing on Arapaho road, Richardson, Texas

Railroad crossing on Arapaho road, Richardson, Texas

It’s really only a couple of concrete plates, a bit of asphalt, and some sidewalk work – but it makes all the difference. To almost everybody – those that only drive – this is something completely unnoticeable. But to people that cycle for transportation (and for pedestrians) this sort of thing is a game-changer. To think that the city and the transportation departments are actually, finally thinking about people that aren’t in hurtling steel boxes is a breath of fresh air.

I know, by the way, that it isn’t a good idea to ride on the sidewalk – but that is a rule that sometimes, like along fast moving arterial streets – is made to be broken.

They did the same thing on the other side of the road – going the other way. That makes it not only possible, but easy, for me to ride my bike to the library. Little improvements.

What I learned this week, March 14, 2014

10 underrated novels from great authors

I have always loved “The Crossing” by McCarthy more than some of his more ballyhooed works.

“The second chapter in McCarthy’s Border Trilogy is also, at least in our eyes, the finest. More poetic if less acclaimed than spiritual precursor All The Pretty Horses, The Crossing is bleakly brilliant as McCarthy describes a young cowboy’s savage journey from New Mexico to Mexico during the WW2 period: surviving gun fights, wolf attacks and a cracked, scorching terrain that save for arguably Blood Meridian, has never been as violently and mercilessly described by McCarthy.”

From Deadspin:

Above is a video taken Saturday night at an ECHL Idaho Steelheads game. It shows fans pouring a $7 large beer into a $4 small cup, and discovering that each holds exactly the same amount of liquid. Now the arena is facing a lawsuit, because rule number one in sports is that you don’t shortchange hockey fans on beer.

CenturyLink Arena in Boise, also home to the Idaho Stampede of the NBA’s D-League, is facing a potential class-action lawsuit from four fans, alleging that the arena management company defrauded fans by offering taller-but-thinner large-size cups that hold the same 16 ounces as the shorter, wider small.
“It was recently brought to our attention that the amount of beer that fits in our large (20-oz) cups also fits in our regular (16-oz) cups. The differentiation in the size of the two cups is too small. To correct that problem, we’re purchasing new cups for the large beers that will hold 24 ounces, instead of 20, for the remainder of this season to provide better value to our fans.”

That acknowledgement wasn’t enough to head off a lawsuit, and, as noted by the Idaho Statesman, even with 24-ounce cups, it’ll still be cheaper per ounce to buy the small.

He once went on vacation to The Virgin Islands ..Now they are just called The Islands.

He once went on vacation to The Virgin Islands ..Now they are just called The Islands.

7 ways to be the most interesting person in any room

6 Shocking Authors I Seek to Syncretize

I linked to the above article not so much for the exact authors mentioned, but for the general idea/technique of reading a number of wildly variant (though all provocative) books (would this work with fiction also?) while consciously looking for hidden connections. Interesting idea.

10 Inconspicuous Flasks For Covert Operators

I always thought that I had a certain knowledge of geography and history. Until I visited this site, however, I never realized how little I knew of the fascinating country of Zubrowka.


Academie Zubrowka

I have always been fascinated by Trilobites



When Trilobites Ruled the World

Why don’t I get invited to parties that have a Sriracha Fountain?

These weapons cutaways are so damn cool

Holy Shit! Looking through this list, I really think I have seen all these movies. I pretty much agree with the order of the list (especially concur with which is THE WORST Godzilla movie of all) although I would put Godzilla vs. Destoroyah a bit higher to #2 and maybe slide Destroy all Monsters to the top slot. That film was an eleven-year-old’s dream

Rank All Monsters! Every Godzilla Movie, from Worst to Best

Michael Peticolas on the Building of a “True Craft Beer Movement” and What’s in His Fridge