A $39 Southwest flight, a rental car and a 3 hour drive from the modest 5 gate Midland International Air and Space Port, lands you in the middle of the universe, otherwise known as Marfa, Texas.
32 miles West of the Dairy Queen in Marfa, is “Prada Marfa.” Along the drive, I spot a white speck amongst the lines of stratocumulus clouds stretch along the west Texas horizon, but this speck doesn’t move and I tick down the mils toward the West Texas Prada outpost, an ever increasing refrain of “what the fuck is that” echoes within the Toyota Rav 4 as the stationary speck increasingly grows in size. The speck then begins to take the form of a blimp; now having ruled out aliens but not yet being able to identify said flying object, I’m left to ponder why the Goodyear blimp would be in West Texas. Maybe in these Covid times without many major sports going on the blimp finds itself covering a high school football game, Friday Night Lights style.
Past the large cutouts paying homage to the 1956 James Dean film “Giant” that was partially shot in and around Marfa, I see the answer to now identified flying blimp that is used by customs and border patrol as part of a radar network scouting low flying aircraft crossing the border from Mexico (Wiki- Tetherd Aerostat Radar System)
Having crossed “Prada Marfa” off the instagram bucket list, I set about exploring the rest of Marfa. There are pretty much 2 main streets in Marfa, dotted with eclectic shops, restaurants and galleries that would have been packed on any weekend in the before COVID times, but are struggling like so many small businesses. I wasn’t able to make reservations to visit The Chinati Foundation that arguably put Marfa on the map with their collection of its founder work, Donald Judd, who moved to Marfa in 1977. Next time.
The next day, following the only other other road out of town, I headed south toward Presidio and East along the Rio Grande River, traveling the scenic FM 170 towards Big Bend National Park. The picturesque and roller coaster like FM 170, where I actually saw a road runner and I have got to say cartoons have been lying and road runners(at least this one) are more like road speed walkers; also there was no coyote to be seen. My short trip only allowed me a couple hours to explore Big Bend, another thing to add to the list for the next trip…
- (Gates Notes) Bill Gates released his annual list of books to read over the holidays. “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World” jumped out at me and at first glance reminds me of Susan Cain’s “Quiet” as something that may speak to me.
- (Popular Science) An interesting article of how the supply chain for Dippin’ Dots is similar to the cold storage chain required to safely distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. There is also a great episode of “How I Built This With Guy Raz” on the story of Dippin’ Dots (NPR)
Pic of the week:
- Video: “Lego Train Journey Through the Forest”(YouTube) You think you get made when you step on a lego barefoot, just imagine if you were a bear
- Video: “8:46 – Dave Chappelle(YouTube) Watch it, process it, watch it again
- Book: “Pizza Girl” (Amazon, Audible) Smart, dark, funny; an totally enthralling distraction from covid craziness
Photo of the week
- Movie: “Becoming” (Netflix) Hope, I think we could all use some at this time and watching the Netflix documentary on Michelle Obama takes you back to a time in our nation’s not too distant past full of hope for a brighter future that is missing in most of America bearing the weight of Coronavirus.
- Book: “For the Love of Men: A New Vision for Mindful Masculinity”(Amazon) I’m rereading Liz Plank’s “New Vision for Mindful Masculinity” and with the isolation of quarantine I find myself with the time for both self reflection and reflection on the world around.
- Podcast: “Sam Harris” (Tim Ferriss Podcast) Because everyone should have some Sam Harris in their life
Photo of the week:
- Article: “‘A Goofy Movie’ at 25: An Oral History of “I2I” and the Powerline Concert Scene” (Slashfilm) A Goofy Movie turns 25 this month and is one of my favorite movies, now available on Disney +. Slashfilm does a oral history of the timeless music from the movie.
- Article: “INNOVATION VS. THE CORONAVIRUS: The first modern pandemic” (Gates Notes)
- Audiobook: “Caffeine:How Caffeine Created the Modern World”(Audible) A quick listen that I finished on a long walk on evening. Michael Pollan tells the story of the rise of coffee alongside capitalism, and the history of the coffee break in this Audible original.
Photo of the week
Fighting the urge to fall into a “Too Hot To Handle” shaped time suck, here’s what’s been distracting me from the darkness this week.
- Series: “Devs” (FX on Hulu) While sitting at home binging reality dating shows on Netflix to make you feel better about your sad existence, why not watch a show that questions the universe and the existence of free will. The eight part miniseries is worth sitting through the commercials on Hulu for Nick Offerman’s performance alone.
- Song: “Quarantine Boogie (Loco)” (Youtube) Hopefully not the anthem of the summer, but certainly the quarantine anthem.
- Article: “Yes, Even Introverts Can Be Lonely Right Now”(nytimes.com) YES
Aside from binging season 3 of Ozark on Netflix, here’s a few things that have been occupying my mind this past week.
- Book: “The Rosie Project” (Amazon) Highly recommended by Bill Gates several years ago, I recently picked up this book and kept coming coming back to it as I identified parts of myself in “Don” the genetics professor. The first book of three in the Don Tillman series, I look forward to the checking out the rest of the series.
- Podcast: The Tim Ferriss Show – Dr. Vivek Murthy (Tim.blog, Spotify) A timely conversation from former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on COVID-19 and the rise of loneliness as we physically and socially distance ourselves from the world around us.
- Article: NY Times “Lessons in Constructive Solitude From Thoreau” (nytimes.com) Constructive Solitude as Thoreau referred to his time in a small cabin on Walden Pond became a time for reflection and creation. I wouldn’t call binge watching “Tiger King” a waste of time, but we should all weave in some self development in this time we are given.
“We must first succeed alone, that we may enjoy our success together.” -Henry David Thoreau
I have a thing for Tiny Houses. I’m currently on the hunt for my first home, albeit something less tiny, I set out to fully immerse myself in one of my potential new neighborhoods, The Cedars. The Cedars is an area in the midst of revitalization; just south of Downtown Dallas, The Cedars is transforming from dilapidated industrial buildings to modern homes and multi-unit housing all radiating from ground zero aka The Southside on Lamar.
Late Thursday night, I headed south past the lights of the Dallas Skyline to find Blue Steel. On Akard Street, tucked behind a small apartment building, surrounded by a once imposing barbed wire fence sits the converted shipping container. The outside of Blue Steel matches its surroundings, doors and windows covered with metal bars it goes unnoticed among the construction sites of apartments and town homes scattered throughout The Cedars.
Once inside, I find a warm and expertly constructed tiny home. The wood and metal floors are all that remain to remind you that you are living inside of a shipping container. A stocked goody basket of ramen help complete this college flashback as I sit on the futon in the second bedroom/media room hovering over a bowl of chili ramen waiting for it to cool off enough to be devoured.
A concern with tiny house living is often the compromises that have to be made in the efforts to remain tiny and often mobile. Blue steel doesn’t have any of the RV type of equipment that is used in tiny homes, built with full residential fixtures and appliances and shelving made of threaded pipe help feed into the rustic industrial look of Blue Steel.
There certainly are some quirks, hot water while plentiful is accompanied with the roaring to life of the propane powered water heater attached to the back of the shipping container that sounds like a lawn mower’s first start after a long winter. The split heat pump sufficient for heat and cooling the home also produces some noise while running but to a lesser degree. Living inside of a shipping container is like living inside a tin can so the sounds of the city reverberate though the steel exterior and penetrate the minimal insulation and multicolored wood paneling throughout Blue Steel.
Everything said, I enjoyed staying in Blue Steel for a few days and would certainly do it again if I was looking to spend a weekend in The Cedars and go to a concert; it is a good way to avoid the parking nightmare that can be finding a parking spot near South Side.