More Things I learned this week, November 8, 2021

Golden Boy, AT&T Plaza, Dallas, Texas

Energy, and How to Get It

All of us know people who have more energy than we do, but the science of the phenomenon is just coming into view.


(click to enlarge)

Good Vibes Are Contagious

Studies show that your emotions spread further than you think


11 Mental Tricks to Stop Overthinking Everything

Stop worrying and start growing.


How to Memorize the Un-Memorizable

Tips and Tricks for Building a Better “Memory Palace


Recycled Books Denton, Texas

Behold, the Book Blob

I am, of course, describing a book cover—or rather, the book cover, that of the current literary zeitgeist, whose abstract splotches are a ubiquitous presence in the new releases display at your local bookstore. 


87 Hilarious Comics That Perfectly Describe The Life Of An Artist

All artists have a lot in common. Whether you’re a comic artist or a painter – you still experience similar situations like lack of inspiration or constantly being asked “Will you draw me?”


Boquillas Port Of Entry At Big Bend National Park To Reopen

This is the border crossing at Boquillas. The rowboat says, “La Enchilada” on its side. The boatman charges $2 for a trip across the Rio Grande. You can see the burros and trucks on the Mexican side – a ride into town costs 4 dollars.

From my old blog, The Daily Epiphany, Friday, March 23, 2001 (just a few months before 9/11 changed everything)

El hombre escribiendo

The border between the US and Mexico is a big deal in most places – controlled bridges, customs, crowds, fences, razor wire, a complete difference from one side to another.

Here in Big Bend the border is a greenish sluggish river, barely waist deep, and the crossing is a decrepit old rowboat called “La Enchilada.” A ride across the Rio Grande cost $2. “Pay me on the other side,” the boat’s captain told me – apparently to avoid the onus of doing business in a US National Park. Two quick strokes on his paddle and we were in Mexico.

A busy crowd on the gravel bar was hawking handmade jewelry, walking sticks, and rides by burro, horse, or pickup truck into the village. I walked past the jabbering, bargaining crowd (a handful of elderly tourists were renting some burros) and hoofed it the mile or so into the village.

It was a dusty, sandy walk through the floodplain thicket of Mesquite into the village of Boquillas itself. It’s a dirt-poor border town, a few short dusty gravel streets lined with scattered adobe huts. Each hut has its own table covered with rock crystals, scavenged from the nearby mountains, for sale. The main street has one restaurant, Falcon’s, and a handful of cantinas – some very shady looking.

Above the village rears the amazing escarpment of the Sierra del Carmen. Those cliffs, jagged like broken teeth dominate the skyline of the entire park, visible clear up to the headquarters thirty miles away.

I settled into the breezeway of Falcon’s – surprisingly seat once I was out of the burning sun and shaded by the roof of traditional vigas. A few others were already there – a big group of tourists sitting at one long table and a couple of local Texas ranchers with their families – the men were bargaining with the owner of the restaurant over the sale of a pickup truck.

Two rooms selling really bad Mexican handicrafts flanked the open breezeway. I had hoped to buy Candy a birthday present there, but there wasn’t anything worth looking at. At the end of one room was the restaurant kitchen, which looked like one from a small apartment. The owner’s daughter stood there looking bored and cranked out the food. One tourist asked to, “see the menu” and the daughter replied, “tacos y burritos.” Each were three for a dollar.

I ordered a Corona and a plate with three tacos and three burritos. The food was greasy and good – small handmade corn tortillas served with a bowl of diced jalapenos and onions. The beer was cold. I sat and ate and drank my beer and wrote a little in my notebook.

Local children selling little woven bracelets carried on pieces of cardboard swarmed the restaurant. I bought two for Nicholas, one said Big Bend the other Boquillas. The pesky kids were really bothering the big table of tourists. Eventually the wife of the restaurant’s owner came out and shooed them away – even the few that were standing around my table.


“El hombre escribiendo!” she shouted at the children near me.

After finishing a second beer I decided to walk around a bit more, having to constantly fend off the little street vendors. I decided I was still thirsty so I stopped by one of the cantinas for a cold Dos Equis. It was a roomy bar with tables and two pool tables at the back; Spanish rap music blared out of an unseen boombox somewhere. The long bar was lined with every imaginable brand of cheap Mexican tequila, mescal, and sotol.

A sunburned Mexican drunk conned me into buying him a Tecate – then left me alone. A couple of American college girls came in for beers and then three guys wearing Chi Omega Intramurals T-shirts came in for shots and bought a round for the girls.
“Where you from?” the bartender asked the girls.
“Indiana.”

An older couple came in and bought four bottles of some odd colored liquor. The bartender carefully wrapped it so they could get it back across the border.

The owner came and sat with me and we spoke a bit, mixing English and Spanish. It is so rare that I speak Spanish anymore my mouth felt odd forming the sounds. The Mexican beer helped.

He made some rude remarks in Spanish about the girls at the bar; then asked me where I was from. I told him I drove through Monahans to get to Big Bend.
“Big prison in Monahans,” the owner said, “I have nephew in prison there.”

Then he indicated the sunburned drunk, “He the police here, only police in Boquillas.”
I considered asking to see his badge but thought better of it. With the sleazy cantina, the dusty streets, and the mountains rising high overhead things were getting way too Treasure of the Sierra Madre feeling for me, so I decided to head back to Texas.

A sketch I made in 2001 along the Rio Grande, the village of Boquillas, with the Sierra Del Carmen in the background.

Boquillas – What You Need to Know

Boquillas Covid Recovery

Black As Night Sweet As Sin

“Black as night, sweet as sin.”
Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

My coffee thermos.

Everybody gripes about Internet Ads and the little windows that pop up when you’re trying to find out who won the game last night.We are all bothered about lack of privacy in the online world. However, sometimes, you do find something interesting. When Firefox opens, a thing called Pocket throws up a bunch of article links that, I assume, some supercomputer somewhere examines your history and suggests especially for you. This is disturbing, yes, but sometimes these links can be interesting.

One the other day caught my eye. It was a semi-scolarly article about Coffee Naps. It talked about how caffeine competes with adenosine for receptors in your brain and if you take a twenty-minute nap right after you drink a cup of Joe – the receptors “open up” and allow the caffeine to work better. The upstart of this is that caffeine and a nap together is better than caffeine or a nap without the other.

So when I hit “publish” on this blog entry, I’m going to get my coffee (made in my Aeropress, of course) sip it down, and take a nap. Then get back up and go for a bike ride.

This is truly the best of all possible worlds.

Opposites DO Attract: Coffee Naps, The Bulletproof Power Nap, Explained

Coffee Nap: Can Caffeine Before a Nap Boost Energy Levels?

I Tried a “Coffee Nap” Every Morning For a Week and It Changed My Life

A coffee nap? I tried it. Here’s how it went for me.

Science Says ‘Coffee Naps’ Are Better Than Non-Caffeinated Ones

How to Take a Coffee (Power) Nap The Right Way

A productivity expert says coffee naps — ‘nappuccinos’ — changed his life. Here’s how.

How to Take the Perfect Coffee Nap

 

 

C-Beams Glitter in the Dark

I have… seen things you people wouldn’t believe… Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like tears… in… rain. Time… to die…
—-Rutger Hauer, as Roy Batty, in Blade Runner

Photos of Wind Turbines in the Blackwell Wind Energy Center wind farm, near Blackwell, Oklahoma.

Wind Turbine, Blackwell, Oklahoma

Wind Turbine, Blackwell, Oklahoma

Wind Turbine, Blackwell, Oklahoma

Wind Turbine, Blackwell, Oklahoma

Wind Turbine, Blackwell, Oklahoma

Wind Turbine, Blackwell, Oklahoma

The first thing that strikes you about the turbines in a wind farm is the sheer size. Since they are hoisted up above a featureless, flat plain – they are visible for miles away and it took more driving than I anticipated – down sliding sand roads to reach them. I was surprised that there were no fences, gates or other security and that I was able to move right up to the base of the massive towers. Then, looking up is a giddy, vertiginous adventure. The size of the tower and the surprising speed of the blades is intimidating and unnerving – like looking up into an unexpected, impossible abyss.

The second, even more unforeseen thing is the sound. The rural bean fields were completely quiet – the air at ground level apparently motionless and completely silent. Yet the blades move at astonishing speed with an exquisite swoosh. It’s the sound of a giant jetliner wing flying past you at breakneck speed only a few feet overhead. Amazing.

Energy, Focus, and Courage

“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.”

—-Aristotle

“Goals provide the energy source that powers our lives. One of the best ways we can get the most from the energy we have is to focus it. That is what goals can do for us; concentrate our energy.”

—-Denis Waitley

I don’t have a belief problem, I have a focusing weakness. I focus on what’s loudest instead of what feels best.

—-Abraham-Hicks

Focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear.

—-Anthony Robbins

For man’s greatest actions are performed in minor struggles. Life, misfortune, isolation, abandonment and poverty are battlefields which have their heroes – obscure heroes who are at times greater than illustrious heroes.

—-Victor Hugo

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

—- Dune, Frank Herbert

Energy, focus, and courage.

I have a giant frightening project and deadline coming up at work. It has me scrambling. Even though the weather has been beautiful outside, as rarely beautiful as it ever is here in Texas, I have been cooped up in my office cube wishing I was somewhere or someone else.

As I fight my way toward the finish three words keep coming up in my mind. These three words, the more I think about it, are what I need — are what I’m looking for. The three words are

  • Energy
  • Focus
  • Courage.

Energy, Focus, Courage. I’m not sure where the words came from – they didn’t really pop into my mind… it’s more like they grew there, like from little imaginary seeds. I have been thinking about these three words, repeating them to myself like a mantra, until I think I’m beginning to have an idea what they mean.

I have come to the point where I think they all three mean the same thing… no, that’s not it… obviously the words don’t mean the same thing. What I mean is that the three words represent a view of something larger, or more complex, or crystalline – something that a single word can’t describe. That thing, that unnamed thing, is what I am trying to understand – but I don’t have the tools to view it directly. I can only see its shadow – a shadow that looks different when viewed by a light that shines in a different direction.

The shadow, from three different directions, spells out energy, focus, and courage.

Energy is power, power from exercise, cardiovascular and strength. Energy is passion, both the wild random volcanic passion of youth and the desperate focused passion of age, tempered by the terrible knowledge that time is running out. Energy needs its opposites – sleep and rest – to recharge. Without rest there is no energy. Energy is clear clean powerful and focused.

Focus is organization, planning. I think of Steven Covey and his four quadrants, of the important but not urgent.This is focus from a satellite, the view from far above and far away. Then there is getting things done, the minute by minute management of a day. Life itself can be thought of as a string of seconds (an average life is, what? 2,207,520,000 seconds long, a little over two billion), every one a tiny decision, “what do I do now?” Add these up and you have your life. Focus is a laser pointer. Focus is like a lens that takes the light from the sun and burns a little brilliant dot onto the sidewalk.

Focus is saying “no.” Focus is priorities. Focus is saying “yes.” Focus is making a choice. Making a choice takes courage.

Courage is not the opposite of fear, like most people think. Without fear there is no courage. The brave must face their fear, swallow it, feel it, and keep on doing what they need to do. Fear is that gnawing in your gut. Courage is looking at the point of no return and stepping right into it.

There is that moment when you have faced your fear, ignored your doubts, and stepped ahead. That moment when everything is set in motion, but nothing has moved yet. You have bought your ticket, opened your mouth and started to speak (the heads are all turning toward you), taken that step, dialed that number, hit send, swung the bat, released the Kraken, or whatever it is that you chose to do… that calm feeling of excitement – the sudden extermination of fear (how can you be afraid now, now that nothing can be done, now that your fate is decided) – that is the moment of pure courage, of focus, of energy.

That is the moment that life is lived in.

But Jeez, I sure have a lot of work to do.