January 8th, 2016

敖早 (gâu-chá)!!!(Happy New Year to you in Taiwanese!!)

The first week of the new year. Often the world seems to change overnight. Like we have been just waiting for the year to change to react to stuff. This year, the Saudis felt like it was a really good time to execute the largest number of their citizens in over a decade in a big public display. And to make sure that everyone was fully engaged they include a Sunni Cleric in the mix. This is our closest Muslim “ally” in the region. A kingdom that perpetuates the facade of “trickle down” economics graphically by making their top one percent wealthiest into the hundreds of royal family members of the 28.5 million people in their oil rich country. Wall Street was so impressed that everyone’s 401k will take another year to recover. The President announced that he is taking unilateral executive branch action to plug some of the gaping loop holes in our federal regulations governing gun ownership. None of the measures proposed will do much to prevent the kind of thing that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School but unlike Congress, he is doing something, this year. Oklahoma enjoyed 2,185 earthquakes in 2015 as compared to 37 in 1990 (before the state fully embraced, “Fracking”). Huh! The Election Year has begun in ernest. Donald Trump continues to fan the flames of fear and self promotion at the expense of our country’s credibility throughout the world. Ted Cruse reminds me more and more of Joe McCarthy everyday. They even kind of share that same beady eyed look of contempt as the try to promote discord amongst us mere mortals. New Hampshire has begun its popularization of sound bites. Wild Bill Clinton is out there helping Hillary. Bernie was quite most of the holidays but will be popping up to further demonstrate that common sense has no place in today’s American politics. I can’t find anything in the current ticket that offers much hope for leadership in America and subsequently for the world for the next four years. Not a good first week.

To end all this on a positive note, I would like to commend our president. First for trying to make the system work as intended so for doing nothing when it was brave to do so. I forgive him for the lives lost in the process. We all still have to live with that responsibility but he most of all because he had the power. Secondly, for deciding to act when the system failed us .. AGAIN. I know most of what the Executive “Actions” that he has taken will not have the same effect as if we had approached our “gun” problem” the same way we approached other tragedies of this magnitude. But he acted on his convictions. He did his job. Congress should try it.

This week I learned some stuff:

I learned that all of our hopes and dreams for more rainfall to take California out of this terrible drought have started to become reality. We have had rain in San Diego all this week! The unfortunate part of that is the same relief has become flooding in the midwest. There is more coming too thanks to our “no-such-thing-as-global-warming little boy” current along the equator.
I learned that perseverance is still one of my most valuable traits. My tenacity and courage to keep moving things forward without much encouragement or hope of achieving the object has been rewarding for me in some surprising ways. Sometimes it just feels good to do the right thing, even when it hurts.

Website Update
2nd week for the “New” Vocabulary Quiz!! Worthy?

Painting Update:
I have decided that part of next years’ home made Christmas presents will include some painted products and included those projects in my annual goals:)

Writing Update:
I have set some writing goals for this year.


I need a bucket list entry check off this year. I am still thinking Belize but also am kicking around the idea of the Far East – Philippines or New Zealand.

Music Update:

Another mixed bag of music for you this week. I hope that there is something for everyone:  

James Taylor – You’ve Got a Friend — This may have been Jame’s biggest hit but it was written by his Carole King who was honored on the Kennedy Center Honors show last week. It’s just such a great song and I think think that James sings it better than anyone. They had someone sing (sorry I don’t recall the lady’s name) on the show and had James sing his version of “Up On the Roof” which is also another great CK song sung best by James. Anyway, thought I would share this old tune in honor of friendship because next to our time we spend living on this planet, the people we hold as friends are the most valuable things we have.

Bruce Springsteen – Mary Queen of Arkansas — From the vinyl!!!! This is a deep cut off of his first and I think most impressive (tough to choose I admit) albums, “Greetings from Ashbury Park”. This is Bruce the poet finding some music to fit his poetry. His phrasing and use of imagery is amazing.

Seal – Prayer for the Dying – From his, 1984 “Seal” album, that I didn’t discover until 1999. I think of Germany’s autobahn, driving my silver Opal Station wagon in the snow … perhaps on my way to Utreck NL to catch a train up to Amsterdam some cold snowy Saturday morning.

The Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color — I am so impressed with these folks, I had to give you all another taste. This is the title cut from their “Sound & Color” album, I think this is one of those bands, that you will either get or not but I think that this record is well worth a listen.

Don McLean – Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) – I have loved this terribly sad song ever since the first time that I heard it. I know I have shared it with you all before but I think its been awhile and when it came up on the IPhone merry go round this week, I was moved to tears just as it was the first time.

Jethro Tull – Cross-Eyed Mary — This is one of my favorites from Aqualung. It has been a long while since it came up in my song list. I had forgotten just how impressive the imagery is in this song. Vivid!!! And of course, the music is excellent!

Sarah McLaughlin – Good Enough – This is just another beautiful song beautifully sung by one of my favorite female artists on the planet.

Jackson Browne – A Long Way Around — Another great cut rom his, “Standing in the Breach” album. Jackson has a wonderful and horrible way of making us learn from his music.

That’s it… Do the best you can; Laugh every chance you get; And always remember, the best is yet to come! This one reminds us that we are taking the long way around getting our guns under control.

As always, thank you for being my friend!