January 11, 2018

“Demat” ! “Good Morning” in the Celtic language of Breton that you might hear spoken in the northwest of France, in Brittany.

Here is another one of those “eeewww” kind of subjects the pretty much affects everyone past the age of 12 or so – Oral Hygiene. When I grew up we were taught to “brush our teeth before bed”. We never thought a lot about oral hygiene beyond the terror of a visit to the dentist office to get cavities filled or a tooth chip. Pat always seemed to have more cavities than me and accidents involving loosing or chipping teeth. Then I went to Navy Boot Camp and they put a lot of focus on teeth. I first learned about something called, “Gum Disease”. They made us line up together in our communal bathroom in front of the sinks and mirrors. First they told us to brush our teeth as we normally did. Then we chewed two of these terrible tasting red “disclosing” tablets. After that we could see sea of bright red which were all the of areas between our teeth and gums where plaque remained in our mouths. They explained that flossing was the only way to remove the plaque. They showed us how to and had us floss our teeth (a first time for me at 18 years of age). Then we brushed our teeth again and repeated the disclosing tablet thing. With just one flossing those pockets of plaque between teeth and gums and between our teeth were far less numerous. The idea was you kept repeating until all of the disclosed areas were clear. And for a year or so after that I would repeat the disclosing thing till I ran out of the tablets that they gave us .. and then my flossing got lax. Ten years after that I was enduring painful and expensive oral surgeries to correct my gum disease. Since then I have been having my teeth cleaned every quarter and have kept on top of brushing and flossing religiously. But about 5 years ago, I changed dentists and the new oral hygienist who cleaned my teeth told me that I was doing a good job but that I should buy a water pic and put 5 drops of Clorox bleach in the reservoir every morning when I used it. Since then all of my cleanings take less that 10 minutes and I have had no teeth or gum problems of any kind which is a very big deal to someone who had gum disease earlier in life. Two things: If you are not using a water pic now, buy one and use it every day. If already own a water pic, good on you, but add the 5 drops of clorox bleach to your reservoir as well. This kills all the microbial stuff that can cause problems for you even if you are doing a good job with everything else.

My new workbench and work area in the garage is all set up and very cool. I am making another run to Good Will this month. to clean out the rest of the garage stuff and my closet.

Apropos to nothing, I have come to the conclusion that it just takes training, dedication and consideration for more than himself to make a good man. A good man remembers to put the toilet seat back down after he is finished.

This week I learned some stuff:

• I am learning more about Alexa, my personal virtual slave, was given to me as a Christmas present. She not only helps me with my shopping list but also helps me with my “todo” list as well. She developed a bit of personality this week as well. She told a joke and told us we were welcome a few times when we thanked her. Thought I must admit it will take some time to get used to her conversations with the TV.
• January 11th is NATIONAL STEP IN A PUDDLE AND SPLASH YOUR FRIENDS DAY!!! Woo hoo!! .. Did you ever do this on a rainy walk home from school. We did. It rained a lot in south Florida where I grew up and most of us walked to and from school. We had whole weeks and sometimes it felt like months of Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friends Day!!
• There was a PBS Special on a trip Teddy Roosevelt took after his time in office to South America. It provided the occasion for me to revisit a chunk of wisdom(?) or perhaps a bit of encouragement from our truly brilliant Nobel Prize winning 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt. Its not a sound bite. Perhaps more of a sound sandwich or smorgasbord, this valuable notion should be shared with all children of any age who would strive to be great for it will comfort them as needed. For greatness is only achieved through perseverance and courage. Anyway, it was the second quote I put on UJT and I thought it should be dusted off and celebrated once again:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Excerpt from the former President’s speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910

PS. Thanks Steve Dehaven for turning me on to this quote so long ago!

Website Update:
• Second week for the New Vocabulary Quiz!!!
• Added a new reciepe for a wonderful Mushroom Leek Soup. Even our resident Soup Hater, Jessica, commented, “Its not too bad!” High praise indeed!! It is easy, fast and tasty. Try it!
• Added some lyrics for your sing-along pleasure – “The Balance” by Moody Blues and “Gemini” by Alabama Shakes.

Writing and Painting Update:
• My ceramics class projects that I thought might be tossed because I forgot to pick them up, were found. One even looks kind of cool. The other not so much. I started a new project too. I returned to all my classes this week.

Weird-Stuff-O-Meter:
• About a million years ago, a rock and roll band from England released an album that was as profound to me as it was enjoyable. Moody Blues’ “Question of Balance” came out just as I was starting to become interested in forces I couldn’t see but that I didn’t think were “God”. In my arch Christian, “Born Again” and gone to camp days, I read and studied the Bible a great deal. I don’t think it would be overstating the case, that at 12 years old I may have known more of what the Bible said than almost all the adults I knew. But to be honest, I also knew a lot of other history too. As I trained, studied and believed in the word of God, I also felt a disquiet inside me because I knew the history of the Crusades and other horrendous acts done in the name of God. I realized even at that young age, that the Bible was a collection of writings made by man to express and explain their beliefs. There is nothing wrong with that. But for me, there has never been quite enough right with it either. So I kept searching. I was looking for something personal. The meaning of my life. What purpose did I serve? Why did I happen and How could I do me better? So I read and studied other explanations. Many other explanations. None soothed my internal disquiet as much as this poem by Ray Thomas and Graeme Edge. They gave me a new way to discover life and find my meanings as I grew older. Since that day to this one, I have sought to find the balance in my life and regretted only those moments when I lost the balance I sought. Like happiest and sadness these are moments not sustainable and dependent on the the opposing experience to give both meaning, depth and duration. Once I learned that, for me, that this was the meaning that I needed to be comfortable in my own skin, I felt free to experience it all for as long as I could. Now.. I can forgive my weakness and celebrate my strength with equal meaning. I have lost most of my anger and learned to enjoy the moments, one after the other. I do not need a life after this one. If I do this one right, it will be enough. Oh I still get angry, sad, happy and joyful but never hopeless. So if life is a question of balance, I believe that it is hope that is the fulcrum. I can live with that balance in this moment, forever.

Music Update:
Click here for week’s UJT Radio program. I really enjoy explore the musical wonderments that I have come across with you all. I hope you enjoy it too.
• The Moody Blues — The Balance — Released while I was in boot camp in 1970, “Question of Balance”. To say it had a profound effect on my life is probably an understatement of serious magnitude. It wasn’t so much the song or the words themselves but where my mind took the concepts they introduced. This record talked about many things I was already thinking about and had learned but stated them so clearly and eloquently that I felt validated. Along the way, while explaining it to others I found my way and stopped explaining it until now, I guess.
• Alabama Shakes — Gemini — This was the first cut they produced on their “Sounds & Colors” released in 2015. These folks are not for everyone but there is something that reaches me when I listen to their very unique and singular music. I added the lyrics to maybe help your listening pleasure.
• Jamie Callum — Wheels — This one comes from his 2010 release called, “ The Pursuit”. This is a driving jazz sound that is just another demonstration of how interesting Jamie can be. If you loved his soulful,”All at Sea”, this will be an adjustment albeit a pleasant one I hope.
• Bambi Molesters — Point Break — These guys sound a little like my friend Bruce’s band, The Halibuts and that is saying something in the surf music genre. This is from their 2003 release entitled, “Dumb Loud Hollow Twang – de Luxe”. Never heard of the Bambi Molesters? Well, you ought to get out more.
• The Byrds — He Was A Friend of Mine — This song is about the JFK Assignation. I don’t remember the song from when it came out. I only found it in one of those great band compilation records that the recording companies put out to get more money. But I like the song and the sentiment,
•     Supertramp — Bloody Well Right — I think that this was the first Supertramp song I ever heard. It was love at first hearing! This one is from their 1974, “Crime of the Century” album.
• Daughtry — Life After You —I stumbled over this song this week and decided that I like it. If no other reason than the lyric, “All that I am after is a life full of laughter..” got to be proud of that one!. This was a big single from his 2009, “Leave This Town” album
• Cat Stevens — Sad Lisa — From the Vinyl!!! This guy really did find a magical place in his music before he took his sabbatical to Islam. To be fair I haven’t explored what he has done since he is playing again. But I always loved this one from his 1970 release of “Tea for the Tillerman” album.

That’s it… Do the best you can;  Laugh every chance you get;  And always remember …  The best is yet to come! 

As always, thank you for being my friend! Happy New Year !

James
Under the Jacaranda Tree URL: http://www.jfmccann.com