February 15, 2018

“Kusile sihlobo sami!” A fine “Good Morning” in Swazi. That will come in handy the next time you are in Swaziland or South Africa.

Well the Philadelphia mutts won!!! Whoo hoo!!! I loved seeing the smug brothers following their deflating egos out into the cold Minnesota weather.

I just purchased a new magnifying glass. My eyesight is getting worse fairly rapidly. My eyes do not seem process light as effectively (always turning on more lights or bringing things closer to light sources to see them). Nor am I able to read anything approaching a five font. Once again, I am not sure how I made it through almost 50 years of my life without an iPhone! I use my phone a lot to overcome my visual limitations. Often I will just take a picture of the small lettering on a container or document and then I can enlarge the image to see what there is. I need to go back to the eye doc and get my glasses updated too.

I just can’t seem to bring myself to get our taxes done. After this year’s ABYSMAL performance by all but the lowest level of government, my hear is just not in it. I am not one of these guys who bitch about taxes all the time and I don’t mind putting my earnings to use to help the greater good. But these idiots just piss me off! Not only do that perform their jobs (showing up and completing their individual tasks) for the most part, at a below marginal level, they add insult to injury by presuming I am just too damn stupid to understand how totally hosed they are. So unlike most years, where I get after the taxes right after I have all of the information that I need, I am taking a more Congressional or Executive level approach and putting it off till its just dumb this year. Kind of like our national budget. Lets see, how did we say we were going to pay for these windfalls for corporations and the wealthiest 1% again?

This week I learned some stuff:

• I learned that Dunhill uses substandard hardware on their high end Humidors! I also learned it is not easy to find replacements.
• February 15th is National Gumdrop Day!!! So you if you got them drop them.

Website Update:
• This is the last week to work the New Vocabulary Quiz!!!
• I added two more recipes for you guys this week – I liked them both but think they need some more tweaking if you know what I mean. Anyway, you can try your turn at Dreamy Frying Pan Baked Salmon and Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie. I enjoyed them both.

Writing, Ceramics and Painting Update:
• I accidentally got Chewy’s portrait painted by a guy in my Watercolors class. I was just asking for some advice on how to approach the acrylic painting and brought in the photo I was going to use and the next thing I know he was sketching and painting the photo. It turned out great and will be a great present for V Day. I still have to do the acrylic version though and I might want to try my own hand at doing it in watercolors too.
• I got hung up on the very weird ceramic remote control holder for my wife last week. There are no classes this Friday because of Presidents Day. I will start on the set of 3 trivets for the kitchen and dinner table later this week or next.

• My daughter has a cat. He is not a very nice cat. He has been known to hiss, scratch and bite innocent bystanders without provocation. I think he came from a broken home. But anyway she loves the fat black menace. And she noticed that the cat was filling up the cat box with much greater frequency. So she took him to the vet. The Cat had diabetes. So now she has to test his blood and inject him with insulin twice daily. I am amazed. I had no idea that they could treat cats this way and that they use exactly the same methods, tools and materials to do so.
• You know you have lived a long time when you have worn out a humidor. Almost 20 years ago, my wife got me this beautiful Dunhill Humidor at the Hanbano’s Cigar Store in Geneva, Switzerland. I should have taken a before picture but it had started to look a little mangy. The bright “brass” handles were rusting as was the key hole cover. The finish on the top and one of the sizes had vacated the surface of the box leaving a mange-like appearance that one does not appreciate when one is going for a stogie. So one decided to refinish it. I think it will be lovely when done. I am proceeding very slowly and carefully. I have removed a number of layers of stain and shellack but there are more to go.
• We are living in scary times. The stock market finally corrected. It was inevitable. And cutting corporate taxes so that the very rich could enjoy huge dividends and stock buy back during a full employment cycle just forced the thing faster and deeper. The sad part is that everyone will think that this is just a flutter and keep dancing in this burning house. When the economics impact the increasing number of totally disenfranchised people in the US and in other parts of the world, the wheels very well could come off this ride. All we need now is for SCROTUS Numbnutz to figure out that the only way his sorry charade of a presidency continues is to embroil us in another horrific war with an even bigger moron on the other side of the world. Investigations, Courts and Elections don’t mean much if were are lobbing nuclear warheads around.

Music Update:
Click here for week’s UJT Radio program. Great News! The Custom UJT music player is back so you can play the music as a play list or pick and choose as you wish if you use any browser except Safari!! I have no idea why but when we replaced the multi-song player on the page it works just fine with Firefox, IE, and Chrome but not Safari.

Another friend of mine sent me some suggestions that lead me down another nice path of musical exploration. One was a guy name Shuggie Otis, son of R&B Legend, Johnny Otis. My friend was kind of hesitant to mention the second band he wanted me to check out. He admitted that it was his nephew’ band and that he thought they were good in a folksy harmonies kind of way. Well, I was tremendously impressed with Good Old War’s music. I also found some YouTube videos that were very cool. Let me introduce the band to you this way – Click here.
• Al Kooper and Shuggie Otis — Shuggie’s Shuffle — This cut comes from the their “Kooper Sessions” album released about the same time as the famous Super Sessions with Kopper, Stills and Bloomfield in 1969. This guy is the real deal in blues.
• Good Old War — Not Quite Happiness — I like this music. The harmonies and guitar work are so sweet and clear.
• The Avett Brothers — True Sadness — This is the title song of their last album.
• Lawrence Juber — Little Wing — This cover of the great Jimi Hendrix tune is just so amazing to me. He plays it gently and so very sweet. Oh My!
• Jamie Cullum — Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down — This one may seem out of character for me but I love the way this guy arranged his big band sound for this song. I hope you like it as well. This one comes from his, “The Pursuit” album released in 2010. While searching the UTJ Updates archived on the site, I found out that spell checker had been “correcting” the spelling of Jamie’s last name. It is Cullum not Callum and it has been corrected on all of the pages that had it. Please let me know if you find typos and such (I happen to know that guy the edits this thing drinks a bit!)
• Stills and Collins — Everybody Knows — This is the tilte song of their new album together. Judy Collins was a serious influence on Leonard Cohen who wrote the song. She encouraged him to sing his poems and covered many of them in her records not the least of which was his iconic, “Suzanne”. This is truly a great and terribly pessimistic poem sung by two old (he is 72 and she is 78!) friends to memorialize another old friend’s work. I also featured the lyrics to this song as I think that much of what Leonard captured is appropriate now as well. Like Leonard, I don’t know really what to do with these feelings except to capture them in words and art and remain hopeful.
• Lynyrd Skynyrd — Free Bird — Another anthem from the sunshine of our youth. I just cannot help smiling whenever I hear those first whiny organ notes and start anticipating that double guitar crescendo that makes this song raise the gooseflesh all over our bodies. I remember I was dripping with sweat, hoarse and happy when this song ended their last set when I saw them play.
• Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young — Almost Cut My Hair — This one comes from their 2nd album, “Déjà Vu”. This is just a good old David Crosby song that takes me back to another time. This came out after I went into the Navy. I remember feeling sad when I heard it because I did cut my hair. Hearing it now, reminds me that I need a haircut.

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!

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