I read, with some regularity, NPR’s blog, Goats and Soda: Stories of Life in a Changing World [the story of the blog’s name is interesting, by the way]. This morning, I read a fascinating and entertaining story about “glam makeovers of Pakistan’s tractors.” Though the blog’s name seems (and is) whimsical, its content always intrigues and educates me. It exposes me to ideas and experiences I probably would otherwise never encounter. I love its freshness and its willingness to explore matters ranging from sensitive regional issues to topics that, at first blush, seem absurd or nonsensical. When I daydream about various disparate occupations I might have pursued had I been more courageous in my youth, journalism sometimes emerges from the smoke. Immersing myself in unique cultural experiences and then writing about them could have been exhilarating and fulfilling, I think. Reading pieces written by journalists who do precisely that reminds me of one of my millions of occupational fantasies. I can imagine being part of a team of journalists who feed and encourage one another intellectually. Perhaps one day I will write a fictional autobiography in which my time as a globe-hopping, culture-sampling journalist will feature prominently. Sigh…

My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery—always buzzing, humming, soaring, roaring, diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What’s this passion for?

~ Virginia Woolf ~


The top of the news today includes reports about a spate of incursions into U.S. and Canadian airspace. Most recently, a cylindrical object flying at roughly 40,000 feet was shot down by U.S. jets over Canada’s Yukon Territory. Though I have not explored any so-called “news” sources that double as conspiracy factories, I suspect conspiracy theorists are having a field day with this flurry of easily-manipulated media attention. Are these objects dedicated to research on weather phenomena? Spying? Information-gathering for extra-terrestrial alien civilizations? Government-produced phenomena aimed at distracting citizens during the coming imposition of global dictatorships? Intricate public relations elements of  new corporate product launches? Jesus Christ’s rebirth and return in a different, more modern, form? Or what?

More to my liking was a news story about an anonymous Pakistani who walked into the Turkish embassy in the U.S. and donated $30 million to victims of the recent earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria. That story, lacking in even skeletal details, sparked my curiosity. Did the donor have cash in hand? Did his or her donation take the form of a check? A money order? A cashier’s check? A plastic debit card? Or, perhaps, was this act a cleverly-disguised mechanism used to launder money derived from drug or arms trading?


The thirteenth anniversary of my sister’s death is approaching; a week and a day hence. I do not mark the date on my calendar and I never seem to remember the precise date. Yet every year about this time memories of her flood my mind. And when that happens, invariably I check to see the actual date of her death: February 19. I suppose my subconscious keeps better track of time than does my conscious brain. At any rate, she is on my mind at this moment. When I think about her death, I think about her siblings and niece and nephew and me gathering in the shallow water where the Gulf of Mexico meets Galveston Island to disperse her ashes, per her wishes. I wrote a poem entitled Into Salt about that experience. Some days I feel too close to mortality. And I feel both anger and appreciation; anger at loss, appreciation for the cessation of suffering.


Once again, I got up reasonably early this morning. But not quite early enough. I got up about 5:45. And I’ve been surfing web news sites and writing ever since. An hour and fifteen minutes into the day and it’s already daylight and I’m just finishing my blog post for the day. I want to accomplish more while the sky is dark; I’ll just have to start setting my alarm. A good time to awaken, in my mind, is 4:30. That will be an objective I will strive to meet more frequently. For now, though, I’ll simply experience Sunday.

About John Swinburn

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