Last night, my niece arranged a quick Zoom video conversation with my hospitalized brother, after she and talked on the phone while she was on her way to the skilled nursing facility to visit him. I could barely make out a few words as he attempted to speak. My niece was able to make out a few more. But neither of us could fully understand his words before he became too tired to continue. Before he drifted off to sleep, I told him his family, including all his siblings, loved him. He seemed to acknowledge me and I think he tried to reciprocate the sentiment, but his voice was too frail for me to hear. No one is willing to commit to even a guess as to how much longer he has, but a hospice nurse suggested to my niece that his time is short; days, rather than weeks. Times like this, when it is impossible to ensure that a person understands one’s words and thoughts, tend to make ripe the opportunities for personal second-guessing. Did I say I love him soon enough? Did I offer enough help to him? What did I fail to say that I should have? What did I say that I shouldn’t have? As I sit here this morning, contemplating these matters, the only way to a moderate level of emotional stability is to say to myself that both the words and the acts of every member of his small family clearly demonstrated—and still demonstrate—to him how much we care. And he forgives me and the rest of us for things I shouldn’t have said. He knows.


For several days, I’ve been playing Wordle each morning. It’s a clever little game in which the player is given up to six tries to guess a secret five-letter word. The player offers a five-letter word as a clue and the game responds by indicating which letters are not in the secret word, which are included but not in the proper place in the secret word, and which are included in the proper place in the secret word. The game is quite similar to a game my mother taught me as a child, the Five Letter Word Game. In that game, two opponents attempted to guess the other’s secret word by submitting clue words; the opponent simply said how many of the letters in the clue were included in the secret word. We used a sheet of paper on which we printed the alphabet in the middle of the sheet. We wrote down our clues on one side of the alphabet and our opponent’s clues on the other. Next to each clue, we wrote the number of letters shared with the respective secret words.

In Wordle, I use a strategy in which I first offer a word that has several vowels. Then, depending on how many letters are in proper placement or simply shared with the secret word but not in the right place, I offer another clue that excludes the letters already ruled out and includes the properly placed letter and the improperly placed letter, but in a different place in the word. Engaging little game that exercises the mind. Yesterday and today, and perhaps a time or two before, I identified the secret word with my third clue word. I’m right proud of that!

Wordle’s creator is a guy named Josh, who says he is an artist, product manager, and engineer who lives in Brooklyn, New York but apparently used to live in Oakland, California. Some more information about him is offered on his website at The link directly to the game is here. I think I might enjoy conversation with Josh.


The fact that, in general, I find the company of women far more interesting than the company of men has been a topic included in many of my blog posts. Despite my intellectual efforts to determine with some degree of certainty why that is, I still haven’t uncovered the secret. It’s entirely possible there may be an undercurrent of sexuality that drives it, though if that’s the case I need to work on controlling it or risk serious repercussions that could damage my very solid relationship with my sweetheart. But I think it’s far meatier than subsurface sexual attraction. I think it has to do with the extent to which both my interests and my attitudes parallel (or perpendict, if that were a legitimate word) the interests and attitudes of the people I encounter. Stereotypically  “male” topics like team sports, hunting, and golf hold little to no interest to me. Consequently, I tend to avoid interactions involving those topics or conversations about them. Obviously, though, stereotypes often are invalid characterizations; many women like team sports, hunting, and golf. That very fact, though, reinforces the idea that interests and attitudes tend to shape my gravitation toward women; when I encounter women whose interests and conversation revolve around those topics, I find that I have little interest in those women. And when I encounter men whose interests more closely mirror mine (which, by the way, often mirror those more commonly associated with women), I find myself more comfortable with them.

Recently, I had a conversation with someone (I don’t recall who—it may have been a conversation with myself) in which I suggested a version of in which people would be paired not for dating but for platonic engagement might be useful. Especially for men like me who might like “masculine” relationships that are safer than “feminine” relationships (which can tend to make some male partners suspicious or worse).

Just a thought this morning. Triggered, I guess, by my random thought that I might like to engage in conversation with Josh, the inventor of Wordle.


I’ve discovered (re-discovered is probably more appropriate) an interest in refurbishing old cars. My interest has not, thus far, translated into action of any kind. Instead, it has simply led me to a cable television program (I do not recall the name) in which highly-skilled auto-restoration specialists seek out or rebuild parts for old, classic cars and who restore the vehicles into better-than-new versions of themselves. The other night, I drooled over a couple’s restored Studebaker and I felt surges of envy course through my body as the restoration team unveiled a complete makeover of an old Chevy Malibu.

I do not even change my own oil anymore, so the odds that I’ll get into automobile restoration are slim. My lack of mechanical knowledge—coupled with an absence of motor skills and a dearth of the money necessary to support the restoration habit—makes any such gamble a bad one. But I admire people who have the wherewithal, both financially and with respect to skill and determination, to do the work. I’d love to sit in a garage and watch the pros actually do the work. Turning old, worn vehicles that are on or even beyond their last legs into sleek, desirable vehicles is an admirable undertaking. Oh, if only I had Jay Leno’s money, his garage, and his staff of auto experts.


I want to organize or orchestrate or otherwise cause to happen a family reunion. Time has a way of getting away from us. It robs us of opportunities if we allow it to take them from us. COVID, though, has done as much to excise opportunities from our lives as has time. Perhaps the risks associated with COVID are worth taking. Time doesn’t present us with risks; it presents us with certainty.


I feel a desire growing in me for hot, spicy breakfast sausage and rye toast. If I knew how to make decent gravy, I might do that, too. Or maybe biscuits in place of the rye toast. And eggs? Meh. I can take them or leave them this morning. I need to get back in the habit of having a breakfast consisting of a single poached egg, a couple of radishes, and a glass of tomato juice. Those were the days when I was thinner and more righteous. There’s still time. But it’s not unlimited.

About John Swinburn

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