Other Things

He wanted to live a ballad, like a quiet, rebellious, withdrawn, assertive teenager
born in the wrong century, yet comfortable as an outcast and an intellectual.
But he did not have the strength or the stamina to break the mold into which he was poured. He acquiesced to the expectations of people afraid to speak unless questioned—role models who taught him to fear his shadow and to obey loud-voiced, steely-eyed leaders. They were not leaders, though. They were despots. Bullies. Demons in suits and ties. “Influencers,” some called them, though most labeled them masters or managers or mentors. He called them butchers, but only under his breath. He loathed and feared them, but pretended to be unafraid. Until one day his anger overcame his terror and his rage conquered his dread. He would have been a hero, had he succeeded in vanquishing them, or a martyr had they shackled and dragged him into a public prison. Instead, he disappeared quietly and was quickly forgotten, which is why we knew nothing of him and why we never will.


Unexpected, abrupt volcanic eruptions, dozens of them, stunned the nation. Residents along the Mississippi River south of Memphis had no warning, when boiling, viscous magma flows filled the river’s channel, displacing the water and sending enormous waves of water and steam washing over Tunica and Helena-West Helena and Rosedale—all the way down far below Natchez. The subsequent ash-fall, which lasted two weeks, was deep; deeper than what was left in the aftermath of Mount Vesuvius. Large swaths of southern Arkansas and Mississippi and most of Louisiana were buried under thirty feet or more of pumice and ash. Unlike what happened in the time of Pompeii, though, news of the unimaginable catastrophe instantly circled the earth. While most of the world’s population saw the cataclysmic event as a horror that called upon all humanity to come to the aid of the stricken, a small group of people in Topeka, Kansas viewed the calamity as a sign from above. They viewed the sudden horror as an opportunity to spread their unique form of religious insanity worldwide. And, as they considered their chance to seize religious power, they contemplated how that power might expand into more complete control. If the unspeakable volcanic disaster was not enough, the religious wars that followed would shake humankind to the core and, quite possibly, would determine how the species would become extinct. Blah, blah, blah, blah…


Fast-moving storms provided plenty of entertainment for me this morning. While I was attempting to write something out of character for me (lately), I watched lightning flash and listened to the loud cracks and growls and hisses of thunder. Rain pelted the windows of my study so hard that I thought it might have been mixed with hail; but probably not. Now, as the sky begins to brighten and the sounds of thunder diminish off in the distance, the day is beginning in earnest. The time is just past seven and I am ready to have another cup of coffee before I shave, shower, and dress for my visit with my doctor. It’s a follow-up appointment to check my blood glucose, which I am afraid will reveal how badly I have strayed from good behavior. That is, I have not been following the advice of dietitians and my doctor with regard to what I should and should not eat. I did, for a while. Roughly six months. But, then, I decided to treat myself, very briefly, to the good life. Brevity, though, is not my strong suit. But anyone who regularly (or even occasionally) reads this blog knows that. Ach! Enough of this. I’m ready to leave this blog alone for awhile. I have other things on my mind.

About John Swinburn

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