A few years ago, discussions about climate change and increasing sea levels suggested that future generations will have to wrestle with coastal erosion and inundation. I remember wondering whether scientists were right about the geologically quick, but still relatively slow, changes. What if, I recall wondering, the changes were to accelerate? What if expectations about the effects of climate change in 100 years were far too optimistic? What if those changes were to take place over the course of a much shorter timeframe—like ten or twenty years?

The changes are taking place far more quickly than, just a few years ago, scientists expected. We are witnessing the rapid compression of geologic time. That reality provides an incredible opportunity for fiction writers to offer visions of the effects of the change. I suspect fictionalized accounts will be forthcoming of mass extinctions, abandonment of entire cities and regions, planetary “cleansing,” and dozens of other possible outcomes. Fiction, though, is just a temporary escape. Reality might well be more practical; a hellscape that presages the demise of the human race. Unless the pace of change quickens much more rapidly than it has to date, I will not witness that hellscape. I will have to be satisfied to witness this one, the one facing us on all fronts today.


The good news: I do not have a detached retina. I took my car in for an oil/filter change and tire rotation yesterday morning. After checking in, I called my eye doctor’s office to ask if I could be seen sometime next week with regard to the translucent “veil” about which I wrote in yesterday’s post. Both doctors were out, but the nurse with whom I spoke and to whom I described my symptoms urged me to see the ophthalmologist in Hot Springs who was covering for the absent doctors on their day off. She arranged for me to be seen. Mi novia picked me up at the mechanic’s garage and drove me to town to see the doctor. The doctor’s diagnosis: one or more chunks of the clear “jelly” at the back of my left eyeball had pulled loose, causing my symptoms. It’s an age-related thing. And the “cure” is to let my brain reach its own conclusion that the glob of jelly is not going away and I, therefore, need to get used to it. Once that occurs, I won’t notice the unwelcome veil. “Your body is self-destructing, old man, but you will get used to the decay.” Good news.


Routine. Ritual. Habit. Custom. Various words refer to repetitive acts. Depending on factors too numerous to describe, the effects of repetition range from boring to comforting and everything in between. I think about routine quite a lot because I begin most days following one. Recently, that routine has involved tending to the cat’s demands for food, making coffee, measuring and recording my own medical/health statistics, skimming online news sources, and writing blog posts. Sometimes, I inject another occasional ritual into the mix by engaging in my personal version of meditation. Whether those activities constitute several distinct rituals or comprise components of a single one is debatable. Not that it matters. What matters is where along a spectrum that repetition falls. Does it bore me? Does the routine provide me with comfort? Or is there something else about it that affects my state of mind? Those questions could take up all my waking hours, if I let them. Without giving them too much attention, though, I think the questions merit consideration, so I am giving it to them. And along with mulling over those questions, I am beginning to ask myself some others: What would a drastic change in my morning customs do to my state of mind? If I were to begin every day by deliberately expressing gratitude for the most important aspects of my life, would my perspectives change? If I were to start every morning by driving to the Balboa Marina to gaze at the water in the lake as the sun rises, would my mindset adjust in some way that rarely, if ever, occurs now? What if, instead, I made a conscious effort to begin each day differently, so that the activities of no two days were alike? (That conscious choice, by the way, would constitute a routine of its own.) I have no answers. I am just pondering the questions. The fact that the questions have arisen suggests to me I am frustrated with my rituals. It does not take advanced education and training in psychology to understand that.


FoxNews is a deceitful, incredibly partisan, utterly unreliable news source, in my opinion. Its website is littered with obviously slanted “news” items, interspersed with “feel good” pieces clearly designed to appeal to the compassionate side of people who otherwise are right-wingnuts. The conceptual design is highly sophisticated and obviously is intended to garner support from a very large, diverse audience. And the website’s conceptual design is brilliantly augmented by the visual design of the site. Looking at Foxnews.com, one sees an endless supply of eye-candy. Were I in charge of any of the other high profile news organizations’ websites, I would hire Fox’s web designers to restructure and maintain their websites. the websites of NPR, AP, NBC, ABC, CNN, etc., etc. could benefit from complete, top-to-bottom redesigns, based on the visually appealing approach taken by the Fox designers.

Of course, appearance and functionality are largely irrelevant to a news organization’s website if its content is unreliable, biased, and clearly aimed at managing public opinion. Except that appearance and functionality seem to overshadow deceit, partisanship, unreliability, etc. in the case of FoxNews. That notwithstanding, I think redesigning news websites to appeal to a younger audience that is stimulated visually would be a wise move. Fox’s website probably is far more appealing to younger visitors than are the other sites I have mentioned. I suspect Fox has a long-term goal of manipulating youth so that, when they reach adulthood, they will behave as Fox wishes. Although it is a bit late, I think news organizations had better redesign their images quickly or they will lose both today’s audience and tomorrow’s.


And now for some thought-provoking quotations.

Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.

~ William Shakespeare ~

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

~ Pablo Neruda ~

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

~ Marcel Proust ~

About John Swinburn

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