Author Archives: John Swinburn

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes

Time Trauma

Expecting perfection in oneself is a recipe for disappointment. Even striving for perfection leads to dissatisfaction with one’s failures. Yet using perfection as an ever-illusive yardstick against which one measures not attainment, but merely progress, is wise application of experience. … Continue reading

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Do Not Read This If Peaceful Rage Offends You

Timothy McVeigh was executed three months to the day in advance of the September 11, 2001 attacks: on the World Trade Center, on the Pentagon, and on a hijacked plane that crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The terrorist act for … Continue reading

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Pleasure, with Pain for Leaven

Yesterday began far too early and lasted far too long. I privately had hoped to cap off the day with a celebration of the house-closing, coupled with a much-delayed birthday steak dinner, at a nice restaurant in town. But the … Continue reading

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House Closing Cancelled

We were almost finished signing papers on the closing for our next house when things fell apart. Because the survey revealed that the house was built on two lots—the property line dividing the lots running right through the house—our Realtor … Continue reading

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On Bright Wings

The one-year anniversary of my wife’s death looms, less than three weeks away, and I feel an overwhelming sadness grow inside me like a treacherous tumor. I cannot seem to excise that emotional sarcoma that wraps itself around every shred … Continue reading

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Adjustment

In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock. ~ Thomas Jefferson ~ Social cues about masculinity and femininity may not intentionally steer us into dark, bigoted corners of the psyche. Those sometimes … Continue reading

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The Revocation of Poetic License

We watched the remaining five episodes of Clickbait last night. It improved. Up until the seventh episode. Episodes seven and eight become absurd in the extreme. Think of a murder mystery book in which the perpetrator is introduced, for the … Continue reading

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The Extremes of Video Absorption

I knew better than to skim the headlines on the CNN website this morning, but I did it anyway. As I read the words—ostensibly intended to enlighten me about important events in recent days—it occurred to me that the vast … Continue reading

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Improvement

Yesterday’s meal was tasty. And the conversations surrounding it were equally pleasing. But when I woke up this morning, long before daylight, I felt rotten. In between visits to the bathroom, I slept on the reclining loveseat, hoping to recover … Continue reading

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Maybe Tomorrow

Sometimes, my habit of looking back at my blog to see what I was thinking a year ago is a mistake. Today, for example, I looked back to see what wrote on Thanksgiving, 2020. I wrote that I was making … Continue reading

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Transformations

My relationship with religion in general is not simply tolerance. It is more like acceptance, though not in the sense that I accept a belief that runs utterly counter to my own. For several years—at least six or seven, I … Continue reading

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Fractals and Physics

I read in passing in a newsletter [recently renamed The Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings)] a mention of “fractals,” a term with which I am familiar but whose definition I have never fully understood. I set aside the newsletter, but the … Continue reading

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Behind the Scenes

Here it is, three years and three days post-surgery. I failed to celebrate the three-year anniversary of my thoracotomy and lobectomy, the outcome of which was to prevent me from dying of lung cancer. On reflection, three days after the … Continue reading

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Appreciation

Yesterday, I prepared a broccoli and rice casserole; I will take it out of the refrigerator and heat it for 40 minutes before taking it to church this morning for our pre-Thanksgiving luncheon. If memory serves me correctly, I think … Continue reading

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Sunday Morning Ruminations

The Ötztal Ice Man, a mummified corpse found on the Hauslabjoch in the Tyrolean Alps in September 1991, had tattoos—sixty-one of them, in fact. Otzi, as he is affectionately known, offers glimpses of the first tattoos known to humankind. Tattooed … Continue reading

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Heavy Heavy Fuel

FICTION Plumes of dark grey smoke arose in the distance, evidence of the arsonist’s hatred of the man. The man’s thumb had pressed on the syringe that delivered a fatal dose of poison to the condemned prisoner’s bloodstream. The person … Continue reading

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Let’s Look at the Universe

One of the draws of places like desolate stretches of unpopulated desert landscapes is the absence of artificial light. When night falls on miles and miles of empty countryside, the sky takes on a mesmerizing appeal; a wondrous black canvas … Continue reading

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Butterfly Specialists

The sellers responded favorably to our list of necessary repairs; they agree to have the repairs (all relatively minor) made in advance of closing, which is now scheduled for the ends of this month. Oh, did I mention we’re buying … Continue reading

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Barely

Two of the fingers on my right hand are stained with cyan ink, thanks to my handling of a replacement ink cartridge for my printer. “Handling” may not be the right word; “bumbling” probably describes the situation more clearly. I … Continue reading

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Coastal Recollections

Our trip to Galveston last week brought back memories of a trip we took during the waning weeks of 2008. We spent several days in southern Louisiana, where we visited Natchitoches, ate Natchitoches’ famous meat pies, and wandered the Tabasco … Continue reading

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We Demand Action

Manfred Steiner will celebrate his 90th birthday this month. He has another reason to celebrate. At age 89, he recently earned his Ph.D. in physics from Brown University. “He admired the precision of physics,” an AP article about him says … Continue reading

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All of the Above

More than one thousand miles over the course of sixteen-plus hours, in just five days. Including three days of kicked-back relaxation. That’s what the five of us experienced, beginning on Monday morning this week. We got home yesterday evening. Worn … Continue reading

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Speak Softly

The bloody weather may have turned on us, but it’s hard to tell. That’s the trouble with relying on distant visions, through doors. It does’t matter. Either way, we’re homeward bound today. The topography will adapt to the sky, above, … Continue reading

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Awaiting

“Galveston Pyramids.” Others say “Moody Gardens.” Either way. You either know them or you don’t. If you don’t, you should. Because they embody wisdom. Raw wisdom. Wisdom that has escaped being shaped by power-hungry despots with ego issues. But, back … Continue reading

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Gulfside Musing

Here I am, on Galveston Island, Texas. Passenger seaport. Host to one of the most powerful hurricanes. Ever. But I am in the calm of the storm. With enough money, anyplace can be tolerable. Here, a person could get by … Continue reading

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