Reportage About My Thoughtage

The housing market seems to be not nearly as robust as it was just a few months ago, at least not in areas I have been following off and on. Hot Springs Village seems to be losing a little of the crazy levels of demand it was experiencing. But in other places, the housing market seems to changing, rather than slowing. From what I’ve read, housing demand in Fayetteville, Tulsa, and various smaller but in-demand markets in Wisconsin, Michigan, and a few other places I’ve watched from time to time is changing. Buyers are looking for smaller spaces, lawns that are smaller and/or require little upkeep, and—even more than in the past—excellent location. People want to be near amenities like restaurants, grocery stores, bike trails, walking trails, theater, etc., etc. Obviously, that is not true of every location, but the “ideal” location is coming into clearer focus as the market adjusts to changes in the society in which we live.

As for me, I want access to all those delightful amenities. And I have a high preference for the availability of those amenities within walking distance. But I have an equally strong preference for privacy and, to the extent possible within the context of my other desires, isolation. The privacy and isolation I want would be best served in a location where I own a few acres or more, along with a tractor (fully outfitted with all sorts of implements), outbuildings, and where I could easily secure help from young and strong people who respond well to instruction and direction. Of course, this is pure fantasy. If I ever expected to achieve my desired lifestyle, I should have acted on my dreams years ago. But when I could have been acting on my dreams, I was tethered to a desk and to the security that desk afforded. I took risks, but the risks I took were too small and too tentative to achieve anything of consequence. I could have taken greater risks. I think my late wife would have supported me in taking them. But I was lacking in courage.

How the hell did I drift from rambling about the housing market to rambling about my timidity? I know exactly how I did it; I allowed my stream-of-consciousness to steer me down a side channel, away from the main flow. I do that a lot. I recognize it. I permit it. I suppose it allows me to daydream while still anchored to the safety of knowing I am risk-averse and acting accordingly.

I wonder why the idea of taking risks is captivating to people? Why does seeing someone taking risks seem so appealing? Why does it seem that people who take risks are attractive?  There’s something machismo about it, I suppose. But as I think about it, it makes no sense to me; why would putting oneself in either physical or emotional danger be attractive? It’s madness, really. The running of the bulls in Pamplona is idiotic; I once admired people who did it and I wanted to do it myself. Insanity! Yet I have an understanding, somewhere deep inside, of the appeal of putting oneself in danger, with the objective of accomplishing something only a few others—or no one—have done.  I think there’s a short-circuit in our wiring that permits us to seek out the possibility that we will be consumed by the heat as the circuits melt, causing strands of metal to merge into thick bands of hot, congealed copper.


As far as I know, I had never heard of Hilaree Nelson until this morning. I learned about her while reading a news story on The story reported that she is missing, after apparently skiing (by accident) into a 2,000-foot crevasse only fifteen minutes after she and her climbing partner, Jim Morrison, reached the summit of Mount Manaslu in Nepal. Out of curiosity (because I had not seen any reference to the incident in any U.S. media I had skimmed earlier), I searched for other reports about her apparent disappearance. The earliest report I found was from Men’s Journal, eighteen hours ago. Most other reports were from climbing-related publications: Climbing Magazine, The Himalayan Times, Out There Colorado, Adventure Journal, etc. However, the New York Times, Seattle Times, and The Guardian also had pieces that reported her missing. My point in searching for which media outlets first reported on the matter is difficult to explain; it involves both my skepticism about U.S. media and my vague sense that mainstream media sometimes gets some of the “meat” of its material from highly-focused specialty media. Not that it matters, really. But it sort of matters to me; because I am increasingly distrustful of the integrity of corporate-owned media that seems (to me) to be distancing itself from journalistic excellence, in favor of volume. In some cases, reporting on matters that are not especially relevant to the majority of media consumers is cheaper and easier than investigative reporting on matters of vital importance and urgency. I really am sorry to learn of Ms. Nelson’s apparent demise. Yet, with the exception of the climbing-related publications, I am not sure why her disappearance into a 2,000-foot crevasse is especially newsworthy.


I think it’s a shame that people are so quick to put you in a box; sometimes it’s as if you do one thing, and that’s all you’re allowed to do.

~ Lewis Hamilton ~


My road trips this year have taken me more than 8,600 miles so far. And there is more to come. But, for now, I will think about breakfast and what I might eat if I were having a morning meal of sea creatures freshly-caught off the coast of Maryland. Granted, it’s an odd thought but it is just so damned appealing!

About John Swinburn

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