Kisses and Stings

Hypnic Jerks

I experience, with some regularity, something I have come to be believe (as of yesterday afternoon) are hypnic jerks, involuntary muscle contractions that some people experience as they are falling asleep. These involuntary spasms also are known as hypnagogic jerks, sleep starts, sleep myoclonus, and excessive fragmentary myoclonus. Hiccups, by the way, are a form of myoclonus, not that it’s related to this discussion. Never had I heard most of the terms until yesterday afternoon, when I stumbled across them from an online link.

Mine (the sleep-related hypnic jerks, not the myoclonus hiccups) tend to take place while I’m sitting in front of my computer, rather than in bed. Especially late in the afternoon, I can be mindlessly reading something online when I am startled to feel like I’m about to fall off a cliff at the precise instant my body jerks. I guess I’m about to drift off to sleep, but my body warns me against it for some reason. From what I’ve read thus far, they’re more frequently experienced by people who are in bed, about to fall asleep. I want to know more about hypnic jerks. Someday I will, but I doubt today is the day.

Men Want to be Heroes

I heard the tail end of a story on NPR yesterday afternoon that, I gather, dealt with a group of people who individually and in small non-governmental groups go to war-torn areas to offer help in any way they can. A man who once was a special operations operative (with the Army, I suppose) spoke about his reasons for putting himself in danger. “All men want to be heroes,” he said. “We all want to save someone’s life.” As embarrassed as I am to acknowledge it, I think he’s right. My childhood hero fantasies never disappeared. Of course I’ve never done anything heroic, but I’ve daydreamed about it. I wonder why that is? Would being a “hero” somehow add worth and value to one’s life?  Or is that fantasy a subliminal psychological acknowledgement that one’s life is missing value? I wonder how many men feel that desire to be heroes? I wonder how many would be willing to admit it? Men in general, I think, are incredibly fragile in some ways. The really strong ones admit their fragility, while the others (the vast majority) hide it behind masks of bravado and stoicism. Maybe. Hell, I don’t know. I don’t think I’m like most men, nor am I one of the strong ones.

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

I took responsibility for last night’s dinner, which consisted of bacon-wrapped scallops, roasted in the oven at 425 for about 13 minutes. In addition, we had steamed asparagus, and sliced tomatoes and onions. I liked the scallops, but my wife was not particularly impressed. She said she prefers my usual way of cooking scallops: seared in butter on a skillet. I actually prefer that, too, but I really liked the pairing of bacon and scallop flavors. Maybe I’ll figure out a way to combine seared scallops with bacon next time around. And the stalks of asparagus, though nice and thin, were rather woody.


The Wisdom of Benjamin Franklin

Though I’m not a believer, I do believe in a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but probably not uttered by him: “Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Where that came from, I do not know, but I like it.

According to something else I read online, the reality is this. He wrote in a letter to Abbé Morellet: “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.” As I see it, he was communicating to a French man, so wine was the appropriate vessel for the message; it could have just as easily have been beer.

Margie Reckard and Antonio Basco

Margie Reckard was one of twenty-two people killed in El Paso during the mass shooting a few weeks ago. Her husband of 22 years, Antonio Basco, survives. He was concerned that, because they had moved to El Paso only a few years ago, her funeral service would be sparsely attended. Thanks to traditional and social media, the story of his concern got out. People from around the country attended her memorial. Flowers and well-wishes were sent from around the world. The overwhelming outpouring of support for Basco in one of his darkest hours moved me to tears. An image of one of Reckard’s sons from a previous marriage, crying, was incredibly moving. I sometimes wonder how the horrors visited upon this world can occur in the presence of such overwhelming concern and love. But the horrors continue, unabated. And we do nothing to stem the flow. Are we all cowards, or is it just our elected representatives?


I know, I know. I mentioned nudity in a post just a few days ago. But bear with me for a moment while I expound again on the potential value of “going nekkid.” Aside from the obvious freedom nudity affords to the nude, it has the potential of getting children (and adults) out of sweatshops. I’m sure you’ve read about the horrendous conditions under which workers toils in clothing manufacturing facilities, especial in Asia countries. Those of us in the west, with an insatiable appetite for inexpensive clothes, that follow corporate fashion trends contribute to those conditions. Our materialism and lust for the latest and greatest clothing design feeds that ugliness. Nudity would shut that bastard down!  Let’s either get over our titillation over the human body or let’s accept the human body as the inescapably alluring sex machine it is! If the latter, let’s just cast off our modesty about casual sex in public places and accept lust and carnal desire as natural and nothing to be upset about. I’m not asking that this be done tomorrow; let’s give it a generation before we legislate and mandate nudity (except for sunscreen and to reduce the discomfort of winter chills). You might think I’m not serious. I’m deadly serious. I’d just like someone else to take the lead on this.


I learned, by reading an article on the BBC website, that there’s a term for the practice of leaving a job without notice and without explanation: ghosting. Though I’ve never done it, it has been done to me. More than once. People who seemed perfectly decent employees just left and didn’t return after a few days on the job. In a couple of cases, they were offered other jobs for which they interviewed before accepting my offer. In another case (or two?), I think they probably felt they were in over their head. So, instead of admitting the reason they were leaving (and giving adequate notice), they just left.

A company in Japan has a quitting service, called Exit, that will resign on behalf of employees. For a fee equivalent to roughly $457, the service will provide an employee’s resignation in absentia. That seems a bit different from simply not showing up without notice or explanation, but it accomplishes the same thing, more or less. The article also relates the story of a contractor who simply disappears without explanation and, later, someone contacts the company on behalf of his family, requesting tax information. The family claims the contractor died in an auto accident. But the company searches social media and finds a photo of the contractor that disproves that claim. Interesting. Faking one’s death to get out of an unwanted job.

The term, ghosting, apparently evolved out of a similar practice in dating. One party to the relationship simply ceases all contact with no explanation. That sounds pretty cowardly and crass to me. But, then, I’ve been out of the dating scene for roughly 43 years, maybe longer. And, truth be told, I was never really in the dating scene to start with.


I need a new belt. But it’s hard to find a belt of the correct length. I don’t buy belts on the basis of waist size. I buy them on the basis of belt length. But belt sellers sell them on the basis of waist size; like other items of clothing, waist size varies wildly, depending on who’s selling the product. So, when I buy a belt, I have to have a tape measure with me. I know exactly how long I want the belt to be. If, like yesterday, I forget to take a tape measure with me, I can’t buy a belt. You might ask why I don’t just try it on? If I take off the belt that’s holding up my pants, my pants will plummet to the floor, that’s why.

Kisses and Stings

I had to come up with a name for this post, so I decided I’ll call it kisses and stings. No particular reason; it’s just what popped into my mind.


About John Swinburn

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