Things on My Mind

I learned yesterday that one of my brothers, from whom I unfortunately have been estranged for more than two years, is in the hospital. He is to undergo a heart catheterization and placement of a pacemaker as a prelude to an investigation to determine whether he has a bleeding ulcer. Despite our estrangement, this is deeply upsetting news. But, I’m afraid, it doesn’t influence the estrangement. We have a long history of periodic estrangement, virtually all of them based in some way on our opposing political beliefs and/or positions on matters relating to society’s roles and responsibilities for the less fortunate.

The last time I communicated directly with him was in mid-February 2017. I sent him an email, telling him that we were planning to stop in Houston and saying we wanted to visit with him. He responded that I shouldn’t plan to visit with him. I inquired why not? He replied that I had written something extremely negative on my blog about people who supported Trump and that, basically, he had no interest in having anything to do with me because of what I’d written. He said he just wanted to be left alone.

I didn’t respond. He had on several occasions before angrily cut off communications with me (and with other members of my family) because he disagreed with us over what I considered trivial matters.  This time, I opted to just leave it. If he wanted to reconnect, he would. Thus far, he hasn’t. I hope his medical problems are quickly and successfully resolved.


Our neighbors invited us over last night to enjoy a glass of wine. They also wanted to give us a first look at a new anthology published by our writers’ group. The husband of the pair provided artwork for the cover (and inspiration for some of the collected writing); the wife contributed several of the collected writings. And I contributed a few pieces of my writing to the anthology, as well. Two pieces of the artist’s work that inspired some of my writing are included in the book, as well. I just might buy a few copies of the book when it’s available.

After thumbing through the book (just a sample…the first full press run won’t be available for a while yet), our conversation turned to politics, as it usually does when we visit. Our neighbors share our political leanings, so they can speak openly about their frustrations with and hatred of the current administration and its Republican enablers.  Last night, though, I expressed my frustration with the actors on our side of the aisle. I expressed my frustration with the grandstanding Democrats who, rather than using finesse to get William Barr to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, blustered impotently without result.

As a reminder, Barr’s refusal to testify was based on the committee’s insistence that Barr be subject to questioning by the committee’s lawyers, not just committee members. By using finesse, I mean this: agree to Barr’s demand that only the committee members ask the questions. But, after he is seated, base questions on committee lawyers’ surreptitious input (i.e., let staffers feed questions to the committee members in notes). Instead, the Democratic committee members allowed pride and political grandstanding to get in the way. It seems to me that the committee is more interested in “showing Barr who’s boss” than getting the illegitimate Attorney General to testify. Members of the Trump administration have already shown that they have absolutely no respect for the Constitution and no regard for years and years and years of political protocol. Pushing them against a wall will not change their contempt for the rules that have governed American political life since the founding of the country. So, bend with the times; lure the bastard in by acquiescing to his demands, then set the hook in his fat cheek and reel the lying SOB in!

Anyway, I made my displeasure with Democrats known last night. My neighbors are Democrats through and through. My disgust with Democrats and suggestion that what this country needs is a strong third party unbound by artificial ties to political loyalties did not go over well. It’s all fine now. But I think they were surprised that I am not firmly in line with the Democratic caucus. I feel strongly that the majority of national politicians of all stripes are partisan snakes whose primary interest is in maintaining their cushy jobs and the benefits attendant thereto. If I could, with a snap my fingers, cause the entire political ruling class to disappear, I would replace them (at least temporarily) with members of the Folketing (Danish parliament). I’d want that to happen sooner rather than later, inasmuch as the right-wingers in Denmark seem to be making depressing inroads in the Danish culture. I’m afraid that wouldn’t be enough, though, to repair the damage done to our culture over the years. My finger-snapping must also eliminate from our society the right-wing fanatics hell-bent on eliminating the racial and cultural diversity of the nation.

While I was ranting about the idiotic Democrats in Congress, I ranted about the idiotic and utterly impractical mindset that calls for essentially opening our borders to anyone and everyone. In a perfect world, that openness would be wonderful. We do not live in a perfect world. While I’m in favor of making entry into the country relatively easy, I acknowledge that our economy cannot withstand an enormous, ongoing influx of unemployed people who would have to depend (perhaps for generations) on governmental assistance. We ought not to devote so damn much attention to keeping people out, though. We ought to devote attention to allowing people to stay, safely and securely, where they are. Give tax incentives to businesses to locate in countries like Honduras and Guatemala and Nicaragua and El Salvador, thereby employing people in those countries. Ensure that those companies pay decent wages so people can live comfortably. Offer more financial assistance to the governments (or NGOs), but monitor what is being done with that aid instead of simply sending cash and walking away. Ask people in those countries to help determine how we can best help them rebuild their social and business infrastructures. Ask them how best to combat gangs and violence. Admit that the U.S.A. doesn’t have all the answers.


I wrote the paragraphs below on October 26, 2014, five days after my 61st birthday.

I learned that meteorologists (and others) classify winds in a number of ways, one of which is in accord with a scheme that names them based on speed or strength, their direction, and/or their duration. Short bursts of high-speed wind are called gusts when roughly parallel with the earth’s surface; very high-speed bursts of high-speed winds perpendicular to the earth’s surface, directed downward, are downdrafts.  Long duration winds are classified according to their strength, from breeze to gale to hurricane to tornado (which is relatively short-term, but not compared to a gust). Wind may arise from local differences in temperatures between the earth’s surface and the air mass above it or by differences in rates of absorption of solar energy between terrestrial climate zones.  And, of course, the density of air between adjoining areas can trigger inflows or outflows of air masses, AKA wind.

A single paragraph cannot begin to explain the complexities of wind.  Nor can a single paragraph begin to explain why I felt like a switch had been flipped on my wind-interest meter to cause me to seek information about wind.

I stumbled upon the post in which those paragraphs appeared when looking for the word “estranged” in my blog. I found the word in four posts, none of which mentioned the estrangement I wrote about above. But seeking that word led me to four wildly divergent pieces. One of them documented my assessment of the Chilean film, Los Perros, directed by Marcela Said. Another post dealt with a tiny Facebook group for  bloggers; the word appeared in a comment about one member’s relationship with her sister. Yet another was a pure fiction piece of writing (entitled, Tin Soldiers and Nixon’s Coming), just a vignette, that on reading this morning, convinced me that I should return to it and develop it into a full-fledged short story or more. The last estranged-infected post summarized the day I had just experienced, including a pizza party for the child of a woman who was estranged from her husband. It was in that same post that I waxed poetic about the marvels of wind.

The fact that I can find such enjoyment simply by looking back at what was on my mind in months and years past makes my blog worthwhile to me. It’s really just a plaything, a toy to keep me occupied and out of trouble. Without it, I might be organizing an armed insurrection or a planning a bloodless coup. Speaking of insurrection, this post marks the seventh use of the word on this blog since its inception.  One such post also included this paragraph prompted by an unpleasant interaction with a hot barbecue grill:

Tonight, I’m in the mood to capture hummingbirds and force them to listen to my complaints, kill chickens that exhibit even the least bit of scorn for my eating habits, skin grill-sellers, vaporize gas grills and their progeny, and set fire to the Milky Way for its willingness to host bad actors.

It’s a damn good thing it’s impractical (or impossible) for me to act on my worst impulses.


My presentation to the congregation of the proposed Long Range Plan for the church went well. Either I bored the congregation to tears or confused them completely. After the short presentation, I asked whether there were any questions. There were none. I moved to approve the plan, a member seconded it, and I called the question. Unanimous support. The congregants just wanted to get the hell out of the sanctuary and have lunch.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Anger, Family, Frustration, Government, Politics, Rant, Regret, Stream of Consciousness, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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