Tonight, we will attend a wine dinner that has long been on my short list of social engagements. The wines tonight will be from the Bordeaux region of France. The food paired with the wines (or vice versa) will be, of course, French. “Of course” may be a bit presumptuous, in that caterers often have to adapt to the availability of ingredients in recipes of some cuisines and the taste of the audience must, unfortunately, be taken into account. I am not a food snob—I do not like everything—but if you’re going to have French or Italian or Ethiopian or Lebanese food, I think you ought to have those foods as close as possible to the way they are commonly prepared…not a bastardized version adjusted to satisfy an amalgamation of parochial tastes to appeal to any preferences (or none at all). Hmm…apparently I woke up a tad cranky this morning. The fact that I closed the cat up in the TV room so I don’t have to listen to her incessant yowling confirms that assessment of my mood. Growl!


I thought I learned much of what there is to know about grief by experiencing it. But there is much more to it than I thought. Recently, I read something that suggested there are five or six “stages” to grief. I doubt grief can be so easily analyzed and categorized. Expressions of grief are not limited to mental or emotional displays. I am convinced that complex interactions take place between the mind and the body, so that neither component can experience grief without the other. Grief can affect either or both; when it is both, it can be debilitating. And it can lead a person down a very dark path. I’ll be learning more about grief when I visit, in about a week, with someone who has experience dealing with with the impacts of grief and ways to confront and deal with it. I have been interested in the topic of grief for a very long time. More recently, my interest has morphed from simple curiosity to a passionate desire to know what it is and how it can be derailed in some way.


For the first time in well over a thousand years, I watched some game shows on TV last night: Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. I think I used to watch Jeopardy with my mother; it was both fun and educational. There were some other interesting and educational game shows in years past (and may be today, but I have no idea what they might be). Shows like Password and College Bowl. None of those shows were high-brow educational; just fun, entertaining, curiosity-fueling educational. I was able to watch last night’s game shows because we have—at least for the moment—YouTubeTV, which gives us access to huge numbers of cable and streaming channels. I have missed PBS Newshour ever since I moved into this house, where we opted not to sign up for the limited options then available to us for television service. We then opted for streaming a few reliably good sources like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video (well, that comes with Amazon Prime), Acorn, and Paramount Plus. I now have a broader range of options, though I doubt I’ll use more than a couple with any regularity; most of my watching will remain on the originally-contracted streaming channels.


Sometimes I feel woefully ignorant of the structure and operation of the governments of even large, powerful countries—but occasionally I learn that my embarrassingly limited knowledge is encyclopedic in comparison to others who I would expect to be at least moderately aware. Schools teaching “civics” that is limited to U.S. municipal, state, and federal governments is valuable, but utterly inadequate. We, collectively, should understand the way other countries’ governments function. The political operations of countries like Iran and India and Japan can have enormous effects on the U.S., so we all should be cognizant of how they are functioning. WAIT JUST A MINUTE! How much impact do I have on any of those countries? Given that I have NO IMPACT of them, why should I keep up with them? How will that prepare me for…whatever? Those questions are irrelevant; as human beings, we have an obligation to understand the world in which we live, so that our impact on that world is as gentle and as positively productive as possible. Right! Wishful thinking does not turn ideas into reality. Ideas are strictly fantasies unless they are implemented. This back and forth is going nowhere; we’re going to have to “agree to disagree.” Nonsense! I do not have to accept your opinions (for that’s all they are) any more than you have to accept mine! Hmm. But we’re two people in the same body. Two people operating out of the same skull, with the same brain. How can that be? If we’re both in the same place at the same time, is it possible to hold conflicting opinions? Yes. It’s one of the things I do best. This paragraph began as a result of my thoughts about unexpected developments in Dutch efforts to form a coalition government. I just never got around to exploring my thoughts about that…at least those thoughts did not emerge from my fingers. Not yet, anyway.


I know who you are…some of you. I’ll be thinking about you today. Don’t do anything to upset my positive thoughts, please. Just have an uneventful, pleasant, relaxing day. As for you I do not know, if any; ditto.

About John Swinburn

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