Pendulum Swings

Most days, my blog posts get a few views. Twenty, maybe. Thirty on a good day. Occasionally, someone leaves a comment about what I’ve written or sends me an email about it. One regular visitor leaves a calling card, a “like” that tells me she read what I wrote. Usually, though, I know only that a few people viewed that day’s post. Whether viewers found it interesting, funny, sad, annoying, boring, or deeply offensive is impossible for me to know. My experience is akin to turning in a homework assignment that subsequently is returned to me with no comments; only a note indicating some unnamed member of the faculty—perhaps an anonymous substitute who is not even my teacher—read my essay and opted not to assign a grade to the work.

I could let the experience upset me. But then I realize I read dozens of editorials, essays, news stories, personal journals, etc., etc. every day and rarely if ever leave any comments or otherwise express my level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with what I’ve read. I have neither the time nor the inclination to “grade” the work. That is no doubt true of most readers. If the writer wants feedback, perhaps he should join a critique group. And, of course, there’s the issue of topics: my posts tend to randomly mix quantum physics with personal musings and brain dancing, with a side order of sexual innuendo and mental meltdown. So there you are. Ask yourself a question and eventually you’ll feel compelled to answer it.


I’ve been thinking about getting a telescope. Why I am devoting so much time to thinking about it instead of actually buying it is evidence of something, but I’m not sure what. I should speak to someone who knows telescopes and can explain to me, in third-grade language, why I might choose one over another. What focal length means. What “power” I might want. When I try to read explanations intended to make the decision easy, my eyes glaze over and I find myself asleep an hour later. Just show me a close-up of the moon. And the houses on the far side of the mountains to the south.

I’ve also been thinking about getting a dog. I have two expert sources of advice at the ready when I get serious about looking; one a retired veterinarian and one an expert dog trainer. I am narrowing down the criteria for the dog I want. I am seeking a young but full-grown house-broken dog that can fit in my pocket and stands about 36 inches at the shoulder. The dog should respond appropriately to complex commands but also should be relaxed and playful, yet not overly energetic. It should not shed. It should be a short-haired dog whose coat feels like soft silk. The breed (or mixed breed) should have an average lifespan of eighty years. I would prefer a dog that speaks fluent English and Spanish and can drive a stick-shift (in case I decide to get a sports car).


In less than an hour, I will visit my dental hygienist, who will make my teeth sparkle. First, I must shower, shave, and get dressed. These simple tasks have taken on attributes that make them seem to me like awful burdens. Showering and shaving, in particular, require so much time and energy. The entire process should take no more than two minutes; in reality, though, it takes more like thirty minutes. Maybe more. Who has time for this? I have people to be and places to see.


My mood is like a pendulum powered by a 300 horsepower gasoline engine. It swings wildly and at high speed.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Pendulum Swings

  1. Bev, a friend here in the Village is an astronomy aficionado. He has arranged for me to borrow a telescope from the local library (they’re just about ready to start a telescope-lending program). I priced the Nikon P1000; its price is out of my comfort range. So, I’ll check out the telescope, which is quite affordable. I may be just like those who use it three times, but at least I’ll be able to find out before buying one by borrowing one from the library!

    As for a dog, that’s likely to be a while. Too bad the library doesn’t have a dog-lending program. 😉

  2. Bev says:

    Telescope — Not to discourage you, but a lot of people get them and then barely use them – like, maybe 3 times. They are kind of fussy and really, what most people can afford for personal use, aren’t all that exciting. My advice if you want to look at the moon, etc.. get a Nikon superzoom type camera like mine – you’ve probably seen the moon photos I’ve put up on FB. More fun than a telescope. The latest model, Nikon P1000 (125x optical zoom) would produce some nice moon photos to view on your computer screen after. I’ve also seen some fantastic photos of Short-eared Owls flying over wetlands that were taken with one. I have the older P900 which is an 88x optical zoom and it’s been terrific. At least a dozen friends have bought one since I got mine and they are all very happy with it. Anyhow, that’s my advice.

    Dog — A dog can be very good for a widowed person if you have the time to devote to going for walks, feeding, grooming. I had my two dogs to care for after Don died. They were great company and they kept me active and trying to keep going. Type of dog is a very personal thing.

  3. Canineless in Columbia's District says:

    You left out the most important attribute for a dog in The Village… The ability to drive at night! Seriously, if you don’t get a dog who can drive at night, what are you even doing?!?!?

  4. Mick, I’ll be working on a C- by week’s end. 😉 Bob, thanks for the suggestions. I’m serious on both counts, though the dog may be slower in coming. Warren, no worries about just seeing and reading, whether frequently or occasionally. As I was thinking about what I’d written, I backtracked on my own reaction; people don’t have time to “critique” unless there’s something that really grabs them. I do understand. And thanks to everyone who silently pays attention to my rambling or who click on “like” to let me know they appreciated what I shared; I appreciate you for caring.

  5. warrens1or2 says:

    I am one of those daily readers who neglects to tell you that I have done so. Rest assured I am here waiting for the pendulum to strike me in the head, ring my bell, one might say. Be well stay safe. Warren

  6. Bob McCleskey says:

    John, if you are even semi-serious about a telescope, talk to Jay Williams. On getting a dog, talk to Marjorie.

  7. Mick says:

    B+ … but it’s only Monday

Please express your appreciation for or disparagement of this post.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.