What I learned this week, October 15, 2021

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

The great reimagination of work’: Why 50% of workers want to make a career change

The coronavirus pandemic has forced Americans to reassess their relationships with work. 

The Labor Department’s most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary suggests that roughly 4 million Americans are quitting their jobs each month in a trend that has become known as “The Great Resignation.” 

I am shocked at how many people are leaving my place of work. The most common reason is the vaccination mandate – but a lot of people are just burned out. It won’t be long – but I will join them soon. It’s pretty much all I think about.


Standing Man With Radiating Words, Leslie Dill, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

25 Words That Don’t Mean What They Used To

It’s to be expected that the words we use will change and develop over time as they begin to be used in original and innovative new contexts. But in some instances, these developments can lead to words gaining new meanings entirely different from their original implications—and the 25 words listed here have done just that.


Something In front of Braindead Brewing Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

How to declutter your mind

If your brain is a heaving mess of work and life to-dos, find some focus with these straightforward steps from Ryder Carroll, creator of the Bullet Journal.


Damian Priour, Austin Temple (detail) 2000 fossil limestone, glass, steel In Memory of Buddy Langston 1947-2004 Frisco, Texas

12 Old Words That Survived by Getting Fossilized in Idioms

English has changed a lot in the last several hundred years, and there are many words once used that we would no longer recognize today. For whatever reason, we started pronouncing them differently, or stopped using them entirely, and they became obsolete. There are some old words, however, that are nearly obsolete, but we still recognize them because they were lucky enough to get stuck in set phrases that have lasted across the centuries. Here are 12 words that survived by getting fossilized in idioms.


Fountainhead Charles Long Northpark Center Dallas, Texas

Are we really mindless victims of consumerism?

To prove the advertising industry’s omnipotence, critics have been repeating some myths for more than half a century.


A Stoic’s Key to Peace of Mind: Seneca on the Antidote to Anxiety

A twenty-four-hour news cycle that preys on this human propensity has undeniably aggravated the problem and swelled the 8% to appear as 98%, but at the heart of this warping of reality is an ancient tendency of mind so hard-wired into our psyche that it exists independently of external events.


New Orleans Gargoyle, Thomas Randolph Morrison, New Orleans, Louisiana

How to (Finally) Put an End to Pointless Arguments

Count me as a Buster Benson fan. His 2016 Cognitive bias cheat sheet is legendary among behavioral designers. I have a framed print out of his codex in my home and I’ve enjoyed his writing on various topics for years. He has extensive experience building products that move people at Slack, Twitter, and Habit Labs.

More things I learned this week, October 9, 2021

Timber, by Gene Koss, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana (click to enlarge)

Why it’s not surprising that young men are abandoning college

The recent surge in stories about young men abandoning higher education — college women outnumber men 3 to 2 — may have surprised a few headline writers, but the graffiti about the decline of men and boys has been on the wall for decades.


Wildflowers south of Dallas.

Friluftsliv: the Nordic concept which could help to boost your mental health

Is your mental health in need of a boost? Here’s how embracing the Nordic concept of ‘friluftsliv’ could help.


Pasta
I pour a can of tomato sauce over the pasta, garlic, one chipotle pepper (only one!) and onions that I have been cooking in olive oil in a medium dutch oven.

The Pasta Sauce Hailed as the World’s Best Is Surprisingly Easy to Make at Home

First, the ingredients. You’ll need a 28-ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes; one peeled, halved onion; and 5 tablespoons of butter. (Yes, 5 whole tablespoons of butter.) You’ll also want a pinch or two of salt.

Put everything together in a single pot and set it to simmer over medium heat on the stove for 45 minutes, uncovered. Give it the occasional stir.

And that’s it. After the 45 minutes is up, toss out the onion halves, and pour the sauce over your favorite pasta. Easy.


Sleep
Sleep

How I finally learned to sleep

For decades, Kate Edgley struggled with insomnia. She tried everything, but nothing seemed to work… Here, she reveals the terrible toll it took on her life – and how she eventually realised her dreams


Both parties’ ignorance of electoral reality has led to our present political discontents

Here’s a jarring thought: Most political analysts and most political strategists for our two political parties have been operating off flawed data and flawed assumptions. The result has been one political surprise after another and the election of the two most unsatisfactory presidents, in the minds of many voters, since Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan in the 1850s.


“Schitt’s Creek” & Local Economic Power

Much of the show’s thematic arc follows the Rose family as they slowly loosen their grip on the superficial beliefs and identities they previously held and come to embrace the community—ultimately becoming far warmer, more compassionate citizens in the process. One of the real victories in storytelling throughout the show’s arc is the absence of heavy-handed moralizing or preaching. Rather, the town and its people simply exist as they are, and themes are explored through a matter-of-fact demonstration of how things could be. This is true in the refreshing, straightforward way that David and Patrick’s openly gay relationship plays out, as well as the theme I’d like to discuss here, which is the lack of corporate control over the small town’s economy. 


My Xootr Folding bike on the West Bank Levee Trail

Circuit Trail Conservancy breaks ground on Trinity Forest Spine Trail

Faster, please.

What I learned this week, October 8, 2021

Here’s some origami I did. I’m working on a story and I decided to origami my draft. The design is called, “This is a bunch of crap.”

Our Brains Tell Stories So We Can Live

Without inner narratives we would be lost in a chaotic world.


Gridman 3 Stephen Daly 2007 Sandblasted Aluminum Dallas, Texas

The chronic stress survival guide: how to live with the anxiety and grief you can’t escape

Stress can feel like a baseline condition for many of us – especially during a pandemic. But there are ways to help alleviate the very worst of it, whether through support, sleep or radical self-care


6 Decluttering Strategies Minimalists Swear By

It’s time to tackle that junk drawer.


Loco Gringos

How to Be Self-Aware

Only when we admit we have a problem can we begin to find solutions. In the first episode of How to Build a Happy Life, we explore the neuroscience of emotional management, practices that help us befriend our inner monologue, and challenges to getting in touch with our feelings. Our journey to happier living starts with the question: How do I feel right now?


The aluminum grid of the Winspear Opera House sunshade – very high overhead, reflected in the pool.

Misplaced Nostalgia Obscures Truth About the Left

Our social and political deterioration did not start with Joe Biden’s election or Jonathan Greenblatt’s elevation to the leadership of the Anti-Defamation League.


Simple Mathematical Law Predicts Movement in Cities around the World

A new model could help model disease transmission and urban planning


At the Heart of Our Divisions

We didn’t need a new poll from The University of Virginia Center for Politics and Project Home Fire to tell us that many Democrats see fascists when they look at Republicans and many Republicans see Communists when they look at Democrats. Forty-one percent of Biden voters and 52 percent of Trump voters at least somewhat agree that the time has come to split the country into red and blue states. There is a widespread feeling on both sides that we are not friends but enemies.

What I learned this week, September 24, 2021

Bicycles stacked up in front of Hot & Cool

How to make new friends as an adult

If you’re not used to having a lot of friends any more, you may actually need to remind yourself to engage. Set time on your calendar for a phone call or make plans to get a cup of coffee or to do something else together. As an adult, your life gets busy, so scheduling time with friends is a recognition of the complexity of your life, not a sign that you’re doing something you don’t really want to do.


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

Lost perspective? Try this linguistic trick to reset your view

In the 2nd century CE, in the sunset of his life, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius began recording meditations on how he had lived. The questions he asked himself are the same ones many of us find ourselves asking today: how does a person live a meaningful life? How does one find resilience in the face of suffering? What does it mean to be happy?


I wonder what this guy was thinking… “Wow, there are too many people here! I give up!” or, more likely, “Hey! Quit staring at my penis!”

Why I’m glad that I’m an ‘overthinker’

Examining every aspect of a question can be exhausting, but the most amazing insights can be gained that way


Working on freeform embroidery, Klyde Warren Park Dallas, Texas

The way we view free time is making us less happy

Some people try to make every hour of leisure perfect, while others hate taking time off altogether. Have we forgotten how to enjoy free time?


French Quarter Levee, New Orleans

How to Love: Legendary Zen Buddhist Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh on Mastering the Art of “Interbeing”

“To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love.”


Five skills to learn in your spare time, and how to master them

A decade or two ago, if you wanted to learn something new, you’d have to pick up a book or find a way to get some hands-on experience. Now though, educational tools are at our fingertips: there are incredible online resources for everything you could want to learn. It’s literally never been easier to gain new skills—which is why it’s a great use of your spare time.


Shakespeare Sculpture, Dallas Arboretum

21 Phrases You Use Without Realizing You’re Quoting William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare devised new words and countless plot tropes that still appear in everyday life. Famous quotes from his plays are easily recognizable; phrases like “To be or not to be,” “wherefore art thou, Romeo,” and “et tu, Brute?” instantly evoke images of wooden stages and Elizabethan costumes. But an incredible number of lines from his plays have become so ingrained into modern vernacular that we no longer recognize them as lines from plays at all. Here are 21 phrases you use but may not have known came from the Bard of Avon.

What I learned this week, September 16, 2021

My son is at a friend’s house watching Thursday Night Football and I’m at home surfing the web. This is what I learned.

Underneath the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. (click to enlarge)

5 Mindful Habits that Lead to a Minimalist Home

Creating a beautiful, minimalist home can be done in one fell swoop with the help of some major de-cluttering—but maintaining a minimalist home is a whole different story.


Underneath the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. (click to enlarge)

Be a Schedule Builder, Not a To-Do List Maker

Imagine you bought a new phone, but at the end of each day, every day, the operating system crashed. Would you keep using the faulty phone? Of course not. You’d take it back to the store, complain, and get a new one.

And yet, many people run their entire lives on a faulty operating system. It’s called the to-do list. Have you ever met someone who runs their day using a to-do list and actually finishes everything they said they’d do? Me neither.

To-do list devotees keep a running register of all the things they promise to get done, but at the end of the day, they’re surprised to find the list of uncompleted tasks has gotten longer, not shorter. The next day, they repeat the Sisyphean practice. Their days, months, and sometimes entire careers are spent in a harried blur of never getting enough done, even though they’re using a technique that’s supposed to make them more productive.


Blockchain, explained

Blocks? Chains? How does this whole thing work?


Jars of Kimchi, half and full gallons.

Common factors within the gut associated with depression and bipolar disorder

New research has found that there is a common, overlapping environment in the gut bacteria of people living with mental illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety.


Wildflowers south of Dallas.

How humans created color for thousands of years

Back before we could paint our world with pixels, we needed precious commodities to make pigments.


Gymnast, by Enrique Alferez, bronze, Poydras Street, New Orleans

A Beginner’s Guide To The Unsung Heroes Of Gym Equipment

Be honest: Do you dash towards your fave treadmill every time you go to the gym? Or do you wander around, look at the equipment, and try new things? While it’s totally fine — and even beneficial — to stick with a solid and predictable workout routine, there’s something to be said for shaking things up on occasion, too.


Recycled Books, Denton, Texas

Why William Gibson Is a Literary Genius

Forty years after his breakout story, “Johnny Mnemonic,” the father of cyberpunk remains one of the best writers around

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.