March 12th, 2020

“Buongiorno! ” or “Good Morning” in Italian.

One of the UJT faithful did me a solid this week! I mentioned some time back that I had become very interested in doing stained glass and that from my studies of various YouTube videos, it seemed much more doable than I had originally thought. Well, once again proving it is much, much better to be lucky than smart, (in fact a requirement for me!), a friend of mine was visiting one her friends and happened to notice an area in her garage that seemed to have a lot of glass and interesting tools. When she inquired about the stuff, her friend said it was all of their stained glass stuff and that one day she would get the energy to get rid of it. It was something she did with her husband who had passed some time ago. My friend mentioned my interest and the nice lady said I could come and get it all!!! It was an amazing stroke of good fortune as these materials are not inexpensive and I was investigating a much more modest start up. Now I have all of these amazing tools and pieces to play with. I am constructing a crate for transporting and storing her bigger pieces of glass and hope to have that finished this week.

This week I learned some stuff:
• I am sooooo happy that I pruned the Wisteria last month!!!. The entire arbor is covered with new leaves and seemingly thousands of fragrant flowers everywhere you look. The rain we have been having has helped but it has been a very long time since our back yard looked and smelled so wonderful.
• I am very frustrated with my home warranty company these days!! We have been without a functioning dishwasher for weeks now. They keep coming out and replacing parts without actually fixing it. We submitted a claim for a faulty shower valve, paid our non-refundable deductible and when he got the part in he came back only to find that he could not remove the handle. According to the good folks at Cross Country Home Services, while the valve is covered, getting the handle off is not. They want another $170 to take the handle off. So my grandson and I are trying to remove the handle for them now.
• March 12th is the 71st day of the year (leaving only 289 days till Christmas!). On this day in 1928, the St Francis Dam fails killing 415 Californians; In 1930, Mahatma Gandhi begins the Salt March, a 200-mile march to the sea to protest the British monopoly on salt in India; Today in 1933, FDR begins the first of his “fireside chats” with the American people gripped in a terrible depression; On this day in 1999, Former Warsaw Pact members, the Czech Republic and Poland join NATO; In 2011, a reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant explodes and releases radioactivity into the atmosphere a day after the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami; Jack Kerouac, American author and poet was born today in 1922; In 1932, American pastor, politician and Ambassador to the United Nations was born; American actress, “Get Smart” Agent 99, Barbara Feldon was born today in 1933; Liza Minnelli was born on this day in 1946 as does one of my favorite humans, James Taylor who was born in 1948; In 2001, we lost Robert Ludlum, America author who created the Jason Bourne character; Doobie Brothers’ drummer, Michael Hossack, departed the stage in 2012; We lost one of my friend, Heide Hoffman’s favorite, authors on this day in 2015, the much loved British, comedic, fantasy and very prolific author, Terry Pratchett; and lastly, we lost American mathematician, Lloyd Shapley, Nobel Laurette and perhaps the most important minds of Game Theory.

Website Update:
• Last week for the new Vocabulary Quiz.
• Week 2 for the new Trivia Quiz!!!
• I added a new recipe for Pumpkin Risotto with Roasted Asparagus this week.

Writing, Ceramics and Painting Update:
• I had a number of distractions this week. I really didn’t paint much because I am building my large stained glass stock storage system and doing some other projects in the back yard. I did get some more work done on the VW bus this week but in the process booke off one of its wheels:( And so it goes….
• Grandpa Stories is still not re-published.

• My wife is finally reaching Medicare age so our healthcare costs should be reduced pretty soon. Over the years, I have heard anecdotes about how complex and confusing Medicare is for us mere mortals and I confess I find them all to be true. I believe I am following the path I am supposed to but with the Medicare rules, the supplemental insurance considerations, somethings are automatic and others have to be manually selected within certain time frames. I am really not sure what all this complexity does in terms of adding to better healthcare or protecting the taxpayer from fraud and abuse. It is difficult to fathom the thinking behind it all.
• Way back when, there was a period of my life were I was doing a lot of soul searching.. trying to find out about life and my role in it. I explored quite a few different philosophical, religious and spiritual avenues to see if I could envision my life lived in accordance with those premises. I rejected some out of hand, test drove others and even found a commitment inside me that actually dissipated as quickly as it was so passionately formed. Every one of these forays into “living right” was assisted by true and well-meaning believers giving of themselves for my benefit. In the end, I realized that I was just a very strange puppy and would have to figure it out on my own or perhaps stumble across what fit me at some point in the future. But out of this, I did establish some parameters: 1) Whatever I chose had to be comfortable with the ambiguity and open mindedness of my existence; 2) I had to find evidence to support that whatever I chose was not the simply a product of fear, hatred, or belief. It didn’t have to explain everything but using it to support my life had to lend itself to a path to explanation within the limitations stated above. I stumbled around inside my own head for quite awhile neither accepting or rejecting the approaches others found so comforting. Then one day it occurred to me that everyone of the avenues I explored got to a certain point and required a leap of faith to continue and a constant search for more justifications for taking that leap as life went on. That simply wouldn’t work for me. I needed an approach that celebrated what I didn’t know while providing a context that allowed me to continue to grow spiritually and philosophically. So I created my own sort of religion that I never really tried to explain to anyone else, until now. If you remove all of the explanations for life that call for that leap of faith and ignore all of the “consequences” of not subscribing to any one of them at the expense of the others, you are left with an miraculous world – a system of balanced (over time) support of virtually every kind of life available. Then around 1977 or so I found something that explained my approach as well as anything I had heard before. Star War’s “The Force” construct came very close to what I had come to believe – that there is some kind of invisible link between all things that allows us glimpses into the true nature of life and guides us through ours all the while storing our experiences for those that follow in some other space and time. I was wise enough at that time, not to mention my personal approach to anyone nor did I become a subscriber to the fictitious and extraordinary aspects described in George Lucas’ incredible story. But it did help me visualize a little more clearly what I had come up on my own. I have lived a spiritually comfortable life since defining my own path. Finding my way without the infrastructure sought and enjoyed by countless others. I do not judge others their beliefs. The difficult times in my life have been endured and mostly transitioned into learning. The truly miraculous times of my life are more or less as they should be. I am not disappointed that most of my world does not conform to the descriptions provided to others via their belief systems. The gaps in clarity are just that gaps with a hopeful resolution perhaps not in my life time but in someones. What I discover along my journey, hopefully will help those that follow, if only to insure avoidance of certain methods, decisions, and context that I entangled with my life but I hope there is more than that. The weirdness ( I can imagine several of you shaking your heads, “It gets weirder than this??!”) comes from discovering that not only am I not alone in my belief but that there have been a number of books, papers, scientific peer reviews, etc. going back as far as 1936 with an American and simultaneously a Russian, scientists who drafted the first papers describing something called, “Morphic Fields”. Since then an erstwhile a very degreed, Cambridge Botanist, Rupert Sheldrake has dedicated his life in pursuit of this idea that he calls Morphic Resonance. He published his first book on the subject in 1981, “The New Science of Life” created turmoil and earned him the passionate cries of “Charlatan” by the established scientific community. I learned about him this week on a Podcast. I am looking forward to learning more. For me this is very exciting!

Music Update:

Another tiptoe though the archives to share some things you might missed or never have heard or at least not heard recently.

This week’s UJT Radio Program:
• Dave Mathews/Carlos Santana — Love of My Life — This is is just one of the great songs from his 1999 release, “Supernatural”.
• Lynyrd Skynyrd — Free Bird — Back when everyone carried lighters, this was the song that lit up every arena they played in. Released in 1973 on thier (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) album. Turn it up and let it take you back.
• Steve Winwood — Higher Love (Full) — This is another song that makes me smile. This one comes from his fourth solo record, “Back In The High Life released in 1986. Chaka Khan sings back up on this great song.
• Little Feat — Dixie Chicken — I have always loved “the Feat” (in all their variation of personnel) and this one might be the first Feat song I ever heard. Its the title cut form their third studio album released in 1973
• Nora Jones – Sunrise – This lady is as beautiful to see as she is to hear! Her daddy, Quincy Jones Ravi Shankar must be one proud papa! This one is from her 2004 release, “Feels like Home”.
• Brad Paisely – More Than Just a Song — This guy plays some amazing guitar and given that this is a song about his mentor, Chet Akins. Its a moving song from his album, “Play” released in 2008.
• Crosby, Stills and Nash — Guinevere — This is a beautiful song from their first album released in 1969.

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!