Thursday, February 18, 2021

Thoughts on the Great Texas Winter Blackout of 2021

The kindness of friends.

That's what's on my mind as I sit in the morning stillness, warm in a friend's home, listening to a bird chirp outside on this 21 degree winter morning.

Why am I here?

My home has been without power for going on 56 hours, two days with temperatures that never got close to the freezing mark and in fact hit -2 degree one night. Waking up in a house at 42 degrees with smartphone batteries dwindling was enough.

A friend took us in. A friend whose home had power and heat and wifi. A friend who probably would've driven over and dragged us out of our house had we not decided to bail when we did.

We got a hot meal, eight hours of warm sleep, and recharged batteries, both literally and figuratively.

It would be easy to talk about the material things we take for granted: a good night's sleep, a warm shower, decent food. True, I do feel like a fully charged battery this morning relative to last night when my power meter was in the single digits. (Coincidentally, a tweet in my feed this morning said something to the effect that no one needs to be told that they look like they're tired which is exactly what my friend said to me last night. I didn't mind and in fact took it as a reason to go to bed at 8pm.)

What we too often taken for granted are friends and simple human kindness and resilience.

I am inspired by our team at work, all of whom are dealing with some variation of my story. Their energy, positivity, initiative are the warm glow of our shared vision and mission. Not only are they taking care of their family and friends, they are squeezing in work as they can whenever the office has slice of power and the computers come back online. They are going to the office to assess its status and ensure its safety. They are taking initiative and doing what they can when they can.

I am warmed by friends who, while only connected by the tenuous thread of online media, reach out to check on and inspire each other. Friends who take the time to let you know that you're not alone and they are thinking about you. Friends who understand the unifying power of shared experience.

All people are talking about is power, power, power. Why did it go out? When is it coming back? The power that never left us and which remains undiminished is the power of the human spirit.

We've spent several days focusing on the bottom levels of Maslow's hierarchy. The kindness of friends raises us all to its heights.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The intellect is a beautiful servant...

Start with an aircraft and then right into abstract painting.

There's a website dedicate to the Bell X-2.

Emily Mason, Ancient Incense, 1981. source

My first music purchase from Unquiet Music is In The Name Of... (A Prayer For Our Times). From the label: "Please consider being in a rested state, wide awake in order to maintain concentration whichever duration you may define for listening to this music, at the risk of being annoyed."

Every year I share the same thing. If you only listen to one mashup per year, make it DJ Eaworm's United State of Pop for 2020. As a bonus, here's Time of Our Lives: Songs from Every Year (1970-2020).

From Vistage, the trends facing businesses in 2021.

  • ecological (decreasing energy consumption and CO2 generation)
  • social (healthcare, esp. in light of an aging population, income inequality, housing, education and the future of universities)
  • technology (AI, cloud, mobile, robotics, VR/AR, 5G, and the tech made more important by all of the above - cybersecurity)
  • economic (pandemic stimulus, housing (new home starts up at the same time as evictions are up), effect of digitization on retail sales)

ICYM, the new Tulips live music venue in the location formerly occupied by Collective Brewing, is also a "Texas kosher" deli

Are you hungry enough to eat a 20 pound cheeseburger?

Kelly O'Connor's work explores our preoccupation with temporary, artificial happiness and uses many theme park motifs. In this case, it's Mary Blair's "it's a small world" at Disneyland. I love Blair's work across a variety of Disney projects and "it's a small world" is a zenith of her brand of minimalist design and eye for color. 

Attention Star Wars geeks: droid stamps are coming from the USPS this year. I'm quite partial to all gonk droids.

Pantone's color of the year for 2021 (actually colors) are ultimate gray and illuminating (yellow) for a sense of resilience and hope.

For those of you interested in such things (historians?), Trump's Twitter archive.

It's a real conundrum. Why is the universe expanding so much faster than we think it should be?

Learn from these Emergency Room reports: don't stick things in your butt.

Tony Levin has a new book of photography from his life on the road. Check out this teaser video.

Disney's four keys to a great guest experience. It's a worthwhile read to see how these keys have evolved.

And the music...

King Crimson performed on Conan in 1995 and here's the video to prove it.

Mark you calendar - a Sean Scully retrospective, The Shape of Ideas, is coming to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in June 2021.

Meet Mark Waki, an aviation artist for Northrop Grumman.

The F-111H was designed as a competitor for the B-1. I had no idea. The F-111 holds a special place in my heart due to two close encounters with it early in my career.

Speaking of General Dynamics, here's video History of Air Force Plant 4.

Staying on the Lockheed Martin topic, here are Kelly Johnson's 14 rules and practices. It would take time and thought to adapt these to work other than designing and building aircraft but one stands out: 5. There must be a minimum number of reports required, but important work must be recorded thoroughly.

And now you can watch Blackbird: Legacy of Innovation about the SR-71.

Testing the radar cross section of an A-12, the SR-71's precursor.

How can you tell whether a B-2 is male or female? Turn it over and look at it's belly. Not really, but what you'll see is cool despite lack of genitalia.

The Pentagon Papers are available online for you to read in all their glory.

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce rebranded themselves and I like it.

Scientists are giddy over finding a perfectly preserved dinosaur asshole

On the topic of buttholes, insect poop is called frass (as in "FRom the ASS"?).

OK, one more on poo. Science now thinks it knows why wombats poop cubes.

Farts aren't poo so here's a quickie on how animals use farts as a defense mechanism.

Think the moon is lifeless? Think again.

Because of the above, check out True Facts: The Incredible Tardigrade.

Enjoy 120 years of electronic music.

Geometry of Circles, Sesame Street, and Philip Glass. 

...but a terrible master. ~Ram Dass