March 1, 2018

“早 (ja2) ” A fine “Good Morning” in Teochew, a Minnan (southern Min) language spoken in China and Singapore and many other countries.

Wow!! As helpless as a baby! Thats how I felt when my Turbo Charged Mac Mini went down in flames. Of course, I had various moments of hope as she stumbled that kept her out of intensive care until the holiday when there were no docs available. It turns out her humongous TB hard drive was failing so getting a good back up took days (I finally did – thank you Time Machine!). She had a heart transplant is now sporting a teenager like 500GB solid-state hard drive. It seems to have put a little sashay in her little butt. I apologize for the stagnant pause in the continuing UJT development and any accidental entertainment that I was unable to deliver as planned.

David Baldacci is a fairly prolific writer of what I used to call “airplane books” when I was traveling extensively in my work. An airplane book was a novel, usually fiction that one would purchase for an inflated price as the airport newspaper stand to pass the time on long flights. Often these were rather fluffy stories of legal intrigue or daring, spies or crimes or sometimes even horror stories. Patterson, Parker, Sanders, Atwood, Woods, Brown, Child, etc were the likely authors. But one doesn’t read Rowling, or Shakespeare or Hemingway at 30,000 feet. It is just not done. Anyway, back to Baldacci, I had become familiar and dare I say it comfortable with formulaic spyish/crimish stories as good fodder to eat flight peanuts by. Therefore I am stunned by my newest Baldacci discovery, “One Summer”. This is a chick flick book! The beginning is so terribly sad and tragic for his characters that at several points I found myself with tears on my cheeks thinking that I should never have started the book. Apocalyptic tragedy, followed miracles of sheer will, followed by mundane family crap, ending in the miracle of rebirth. Chick flick book for sure but I guess I am now an official old softy because I enjoyed it. In his preface, he said the story came to him all at once.

This week I learned some stuff:

• I learned that there is a cool and not too expensive way to have a vertical garden using a shipping pallet. Essentially, you find a pallet made of non-pressure treated wood and wash it thoroughly. If you like you can get some “L” brackets, anchors and/or lag bolts and fasten it a wall after you assemble the vertical garden. I am going to do something different. We are going to have a free standing vertical garden made of 2 pallet gardens mounted on 3/4 in. exterior plywood footer with space for a pot large enough to take a tomato cage on each end. To assemble your vertical garden, take a cleaned pallet, attach landscape fabric, then a heavy plastic waterproof barrier and enclose it with 1/4 inch plywood. You can then load it up with potting soil and plant the garden while it is laying on its side on some saw horses. Then when the plants are in place, the pallet can be mounted to the wall or freestanding. Plant taller plants (for example, peppers) on the top level after mounting. Add potting soil to fill any gabs between plantings. Water thoroughly from the top. Here is a link to the step-by-step instructions on how to build your pallet garden.
• March 1st is National Peanut Butter Lovers Day !!! Have you ever done a crunchy peanut butter lolly pop? Thats where you go down to the kitchen when everyone else is out or asleep and you get a big spoon and scoop a full spoonful of crunchy peanut butter and lick it slowly off like a lolly pop? Oh yeah! That’s what I am talkin’ ‘bout y’all.

Website Update:
• New Vocabulary Quiz!!!
• I added two more recipes for you guys this week – I think I have mentioned that I am enjoying this new Milk Street TV cooking show. Well, to get to their recipes I had to sign up for their weekly newsletter thingy. Anyway, this week’s idea was this really cool Chickpea Soup. I changed something but everyone seemed to like the outcome (even the “I don’t like soup!” lady that lives in our house)
• I also added a new quote from my old friend Bob Ross. Bob used to mesmerize me with his “happy little trees” every week on his “Joy of Painting” series. Bob and Mr. Rogers are my heroes of PBS.

Writing, Ceramics and Painting Update:
• I tried to paint two portraits of Georgie this week in my classes. On was of a photo with her head hanging over the arm of her chair (her throne!). As usual, I struggled with perspective so she came out kind of looking like a sad gang member in her sky blue knit cap. It was fun. The other was with my new pat pastels. I am not happy with either but I enjoyed the process.
• I have progressed on the very weird ceramic remote control holder last week. I will be doing the under glazing and begin working on my next ceramics project (trivets) this Friday.

• Alexa or one of the bots like her are the new “iPhone-like” device we will not know how we ever lived with out before they were invented. I mentioned that I got Alexa for Christmas. By mid January, the whole family was addicted to first the Shopping List functions. Then grandchildren who leave without saying good bye to their grandma, were telling Alexa thank you and good night. And then she broke. I am in the process of replacing the defective device but withdrawal has not been pleasant. I have a theory that Alexa was killed in an attempted murder of my Mac Mini. My Mac suffered a hit to her hard drive but survived with a transplant. There are no forensics to prove it one way or another. I just hope the new Alexa, whenever she gets here, is not as Mac-acidal as the first one!
• The cat seems to be adjusting to his new diabetic routine. Life is stranger than fiction.
• I love Carl Hiaasen!! I have recently finished, “The Down Hill Lie” (perhaps THE funniest non-fiction book I have read) and “Bad Monkey”. I understand that he has a new book out for teens called, “Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech that You Will Never Hear” that I cannot wait to read/hear in audio. Here is a weird question for you: “If you listen to the audio book, have you read the book??”

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.
• Jack Johnson — Mediocre Bad Guys — This guy has such a totally unique sound. His music is a total experience for me. I have to concentrate on not only his pithy and poignant lyrics but his musical phrasing is simply complex. This one comes from his, “On and On” album released in 2003.
• Steely Dan — East St Louis Toodle-Oo — From the Vinyl !!!This was the first Steely Dan song released that wasn’t written by Becker or Fagen. Its also the only instrumental they ever released. This song was written by Duke Ellington and Bubber Miley in the 1927. This is a deep cut from their “Pretzel Logic” album in 1974.
• Led Zeppelin —How Many More Times — This is a long cut from their first album, “Led Zeppelin”. I remember being soaking wet with sweat from dancing to this one when I saw them in concert. People around me were crying. Jimmy Page’s guitar seemed to ride John Bonham’s bass rifts like a cowboy beating a pony in the bolero bridge. It was 1975 and the world was on fire with hope and life.
• Jackson Browne — Here — Jackson Browne is just one of the best songwriters. This one comes from his newest, “Standing in the Breach” album but it was actually released in 2009 as part of the sound track for “Shrink” starring Kevin Spacey. Its a pretty and sad song.
• Lynard Skynard — Swamp Music — This one is just a good time song played by some good ole boys but it features some fine piano and guitar work. It was released on their second album, “Second Helping” in 1974.
• Moody Blues — Lovely to See You — This is a live version of one of my favorite MB tunes. Every single time I have heard the opening chords, its just automatic. I smile, just as bright and wide as I can. We saw them do this the last time in 2006 (I think) at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. This song also has a special meaning for me and a certain old friend who I got lost from for awhile and then found my way back. It is always Lovely to See You again my friend! This one is the title track to a 2005 release of a two record live set.
• Billy Joel — Captain Jack — This was pivotal song for Billy Joel, where everyone realized that he was something special. Captain Jack was Released on, “Piano Man” in 1973. I think it also might be the first time real heroin addition was a subject in a song and the word “masturbate” was used in a pop tune, Captain Jack would never be played on AM but became an FM radio stable. For me it a wonderfully sad song written about a looser on his way down even further.
• Fleetwood Mac — Don’t Stop — This one comes from their “Rumors” album released in 1977. Christie McVie wrote this song upon the end of her marriage to bassist John McVie. It features some of Lindsey Buckingham’s most subtle work. He is just an completely unsung great guitar player.

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!

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