Discipline. When one thinks about the discipline required for successful dieting or exercising, one’s thoughts center on the self-control necessary to train oneself to follow a specific regimen. But when the subject involves correcting a child who has behaved badly, discipline adds punishment as an aspect of training. And when one refers to an area of special knowledge, discipline takes on an entirely different aspect; though it, too, relates to the ordered acquisition of information or ability. Language is fascinating. Words are fascinating. My fascination with words centers on the only language I use: English. As I consider how many languages I do not know, my interest in how words can have such different, but related, meanings grows exponentially. But that interest is based on assumptions,  not knowledge. Once again, I fantasize about acquiring the ability to speak multiple languages without effort; I wish I could get an injection or an electric shock or some other form of brain cell manipulation that would enable me to acquire fluency in a new language. I would willingly shoot-up at least once a day until I could communicate with ease in every language. But would those injections be legal? Would language acquisition by way of a syringe filled with a magic liquid be viewed in the same way society views the acquisition of mental ecstasy by way of a syringe filled with heroin? I can imagine society, with its voracious appetite for obedience to norms, intervening. Though I do not condone the use of heroin, for many reasons, there are similarities between its artificial means of achieving ecstasy and the ecstasy I might feel in acquiring proficiency in multiple languages. Something for me to think about; as if I needed anything else to clutter my brain.


For some reason, over the course of many years, a line from a song/comedy skit presented during an old Smothers Brothers television program occasionally pops into my mind: “I fell in a vat of chocolate.” That line, and Tom Smothers’ report of his reaction to the absurd dilemma always struck me as funny. His reaction? He yelled “Fire!” Because, as he said, “No one would save me if I yelled ‘Chocolate!'” This silliness is on my mind right now because of the first line of a story I encountered on the NPR website this morning:

Federal workplace safety authorities have fined a central Pennsylvania confectionary factory more than $14,500 following an accident last year in which two workers fell into a vat of chocolate.

A representative of Mars Wrigley, the company fined for the accident at its M&M/Mars factory, told reporters, “As always, we appreciate OSHA’s collaborative approach to working with us to conduct the after-action review.”

I wonder whether the Smothers Brothers know of the incident? And I wonder whether the unfortunate workers were rescued after they yelled “Fire!”?


Mi novia and I have been watching Deadwind lately, a Finnish crime drama series set primarily in and around Helsinki. During the course of watching the first season and part of the second, it has become apparent to me that I have seen it before. But that has not dissuaded me, yet, from watching it again. It’s still interesting and, except for a few scenes that are so etched into my memory that I cannot help but recall that I’ve seen them before, seems new to me. Despite the fact that the series is entertaining, a number of conflicts and discrepancies in the storyline plague the series. But even those mistakes do not sufficiently taint the series to make watching it a second time an unsatisfying experience. That having been said, now that we are an episode or two into the second season, I may want to abandon it in favor of something I have not seen before.

Despite my affinity for foreign flicks, watching and listening to English language films and series from time to time can be a refreshing change of pace. Listening to Finnish or German or Swedish or Hindi dialogue while reading English subtitles is not hard. But it takes an intensity of focused attention not required for English language programs.  So, in a sense, watching English language films or television programs is more relaxing and “easier.” But, generally speaking, English language products are not as interesting to me. I assume the appeal of foreign flicks rests with the style of acting and directing, but that’s just a guess. I am not sufficiently knowledgeable about the differences.


We may make our way to Little Rock today to pick up a jacket I bought a few weeks ago (that’s been altered for fit) and a semi-custom shirt. While there, a visit to Costco will be in order. And some aimless driving—unstructured sightseeing—sounds appealing to me this morning. First step, though, is a healthy breakfast, produced with disciplined eating in mind. Later in the day, disciplined walking will be in order. And off I go.

About John Swinburn

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