My Unsung Hero from Hidden Brain strikes me as an odd label for a radio program, but every time I hear an episode of the National Public Radio (NPR) show, my judgment of the title disappears. In its place, I have great appreciation for the people responsible for creating and continuing the series; and for the people who share their stories. The same gratitude wells up in me whenever I hear another NPR program, StoryCorps. Both programs tend to unearth a store of humanity buried beneath the grit of skepticism and suspicion—and uncertainty about the innate goodness of most people. They wash away enough of the grime of everyday  to reveal some of the compassion that seemed to blossom in me while I was a college student studying sociology.

For some reason, when I consider the seeds of my generally liberal perspectives on life in general, my thoughts often return to my time in college, especially to the exploration of sociology. Though I credit my upbringing—lessons from observing the way my parents and siblings interacted with the world around them—with forming the framework of my worldview, much of the “meat on the bones” of that structure grew from what I discovered in studying fundamental precepts of social institutions and social engagement. So, though I often dismiss the value of my “college education,” certain elements of the courses of study I pursued have had a profound effect on me. Those studies caused me to think critically about all sorts of human relations and their contexts. I developed a healthy skepticism about accepting as fact many of the “truths” the formed the bases of biases to which I was exposed. That healthy skepticism competed directly with the unhealthy skepticism I had about reasons for many group behaviors. I learned to apply critical thinking skills and to force myself to examine underlying, and erroneous, reasons for some of my more egregious biases. And to correct them for myself.

I’ve probably written all of this before. I suspect the reason I am writing it again now is simply to remind myself that there are legitimate reasons programs like My Unsung Hero from Hidden Brain and StoryCorps often tug at my heartstrings. It’s not that I am overly sensitive or insufficiently masculine; instead, it is because I learned to merge my critical thinking skills and compassion into a means of making sense of the world around me. At least that’s part of it. Or, at the very least, it’s an explanation I can accept and embrace.


A chill in the air this morning (it’s 41°F now, at 6:15) will moderate as the day progresses, peaking at 63°F this afternoon, between 1 and 3. Meteorologists’ predictions happily forecast clear skies all weekend, with afternoon temperatures nearing 70°F tomorrow afternoon. I would welcome even warmer temperatures; I would not object to being surrounded by 80-degree air. That level of warmth might finally remove the chill I feel deep in my bones. My hands, which seem to be almost perpetually ice-cold, might finally warm to the point of real comfort. During the last several days, despite temperatures in the forties and fifties, the only way my hands could feel tolerably warm was to hold them over the open flames of the fireplace. There were times I almost wanted to douse myself in gasoline and set myself ablaze, just to feel a flash of comfort before being consumed by the excruciating pain of self-immolation. I did say “almost;” I am not completely out of my mind. Not that the act of self-immolation always is a symptom of extraordinary mental deviance. Sometimes, it is an act of exceptionally powerful religious belief. Or so I’ve been told. But never, I might add, by someone who has set themselves on fire. Hmm. I believe my thoughts have been diverted from weather to something far more complex. Although, in fact, weather represents an assortment of remarkably complex phenomena. But, then, so does fire. Combustion constitutes the visual transformation of physical matter to energy; perhaps it is more correct to say combustion represents the release of stored energy. I’m no physicist, though, so I would not take my blather as gospel.


We finished watching season one of Delhi Crime, an Indian series. The first season is based on a real event, a brutal gang rape that took place in mid-December 2012. The program is, in my opinion, absolutely superb; excellent acting, superb direction, and great casting. My only complaint, and it is quite a significant one, involves sound quality. When the characters speak English (they constantly switch back and forth between English and Hindi), it is sometimes impossible to make out what they are saying. Only when the characters speak Hindi are subtitles displayed; yet their heavy accents, coupled with poor sound quality, leaves the viewer completely in the dark as to the actual dialogue when they speak in English. That major flaw notwithstanding, season one of the show is absolutely riveting.

After watching such an intense set of episodes in season one, we opted to take a breather; we did not begin watching season two (which focuses on an entirely different set of crimes). Instead, we began watching a 2014 comedy-drama entitled, This is Where I Leave You. Thus far, I have not been overly impressed, but at least watching the beginning of the film allowed me to decompress a bit from the heart-pounding intensity of Delhi Crime. Whether I continue watching This is Where I Leave You remains to be seen.


My blood glucose dropped to 98 this morning, even though I did not take Metformin yesterday (nor will I today). The pause from my usual morning and evening “dosing” came in the form of instructions from yesterday’s CT scan; I was told to stop taking Metformin for 48 hours because the IV “contrast” used in connection with the scan could cause some kind of unhappy interaction with the Metformin. Speaking of the temporary hold on eating the big white pills, their absence apparently has made me hungry. I think I will address that sensation by swallowing breakfast. And off I go.

About John Swinburn

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