April 7th, 2022

“ Dobroho ranku”, or “Good Morning!” in Ukrainian, an Eastern Slavic language spoken mainly in Ukraine. I have decided to maintain the UJT focus on Ukraine until we can all rejoice in the end of hostilities. It has been 42 days since Russia attacked Ukraine. This week the term, “War Crimes” has been amplified. To me this always seemed like an oxymoron for one way or another, war is always a crime.

I restarted my stained glass project with the Sunflower this week.

I paid my taxes this week. I don’t want to talk about it.

We made the arrangements for our entourage to represent the CA arm of the family at the wedding of one of our nieces in Florida next month. Talk about herding cats! Having two people in different colleges on different schedules is not a trivial organizational challenge.

This week I learned some stuff:
• April 7th is the 97th day of 2022. Just 271 days till Christmas! Today in 1521, Ferdinand Magellan and fifty of his men came ashore to present-day Limasawa to participate in the first Catholic mass in the Philippines; Today in 1889, the Eiffel Tower is officially opened; In 1914 on this day, daylight saving time goes into effect in the United States for the first time; Today in 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) is established with the mission of relieving rampant unemployment in the United States; Today in 1945, a defecting German pilot delivers a Messerschmitt Me 262A-1, the world’s first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft, to the Americans, This is the first of its type to fall into Allied hands; In 1951 on this day, the Remington Rand Corporation delivers the first UNIVAC I computer to the United States Census Bureau; Today in 1992, the USS Missouri, the last active United States Navy battleship, is decommissioned in Long Beach, California; Today in 1833, Mary Abigail Dodge, American writer and essayist was born: Born today in 1878, Jack Johnson, American boxer; Sargent Shoichi Yokoi of the Imperial Japanese Army who hid out in the jungles of Guam for 28 years(until January 1972) after the Japanese surrendered in 1945 was born today in 1915; Richard Kiley, American actor and singer was born today in 1922; Cesar Chavez, American labor union leader and activist was born today in 1927;Today in 1935, Herb Alpert, American singer-songwriter, trumpet player, and producer was born; Christopher Walken, American actor was born today in 1943;Al Gore, American soldier and politician, 45th Vice President of the United States and Nobel Prize laureate was born today in 1948; Ewan McGregor, Scottish actor was born today in 1971; Jesse Owens, American sprinter and long jumper passed away today in 1980.

PBS has so many wonderful documentaries! This week I managed to watch Ken Burn’s Benjamin Franklin, Diplomat as well as his treatment of Ernest Hemingway. I love biographies! When I read John Adams biography, I learned more about the warts on my hero’s, John Adams, Ben Franklin and Tom Jefferson than I had known before but my admiration for these incredible men wasn’t diminished. In fact, John Adams’ brash and opinionated behavior played a key role in supporting Franklin’s work in France. By being such an “ugly American”. Adam’s impatience with the King’s Foreign Minister got him cut off from the King’s court entirely. Shocking at time but the effect was to actually improve Franklins already good position with the King of France. Ken Burns did something very unique. He recognized that Ben Franklin’s accomplishment were such that trying to display them all fully within the typical documentary format and time frames was futile. This show was more of a televised conversation about Franklin with Burns, Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; and Nicholas Burns, Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, They focused on that one facet of Franklin, as a diplomat. Naturally, the Adams biography perhaps amplifies his role in obtaining the treaty as much as the documentary amplifies Franklin’s. I do not think any of it would have been possible if Adams and Franklin hadn’t been “good cop/bad cop” players on the scene. I also had a chance to fall in love with Ernst Hemingway’s writing again thanks to Ken Burns. Ken presented us a full story of one of our greatest authors, warts and all. Hemingway was a complicated (lots and lots of issues with honesty, integrity and prejudice) man but his writing!!! Burns documentary included one of my favorite written scenes in modern literature. That ending in the “Sun Also Rises” has haunted all of us at one point or other, but it took a 28 year old Hemingway to capture it so eloquently: ”Oh, Jake,” Brett said, “we could have had such a damned good time together.” Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me. ”Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

Two old stories that you may have heard me tell once or a dozen times before. I apologize in advance for the repetition but I still laugh out loud remembering sometimes. But both of these popped into my head this week chatting with my daughter and grandson. The first took place when my brother, Pat and I made friends with a starving law student who lived in our apt building. Claude was born and raised in Paris, contracted lung cancer as a teen and had most of one lung removed. He spent months in a hospital but never stopped his studies. He graduated at the top of his class even though he did not attend one class his senior year. He went on to graduate from Harvard Law and was attending the University of Miami’s International Law Masters program when we knew him. Claude was constantly studying and my brother and I were constantly interrupting his studies with our pranks, games and frequent brother vs brother arguments around the apartment building. Remember these were the days when no one had AC and all our windows were open in Coral Gables. He finally busted us and we set some rules that would allow him to do his studies and us to be boys. He was an avid reader as I was. He lent me books. He introduced me to Bertrand Russel, Kahlil Gibran and Hemingway. But absolutely the most memorable thing about Claude was his fastest, most economic spaghetti making process. What Claude’s spaghetti lacked in culinary value it overcame with the sheer pleasure of 3 young bachelor’s cooking it as a team. Essentially, we made meatballs – ground beef, garlic salt and pepper rolled in little balls cooked on a never been washed broiler pan. While the meatballs were turned crispy, the noodles was boiled until they stuck with all the rest to the ceiling when thrown up. Claude called them spaghetti noodles but in fact, he used those long thin macaroni noodles (I know now as bucatini) that really held the flavor of the sauce. When the noodles were done, they were drained over the sink using Claude’s tennis racket – a two man job – a pourer and a racket tender who held the racket against the top of the pot. Once drained the noodles fell back in the big pasta pot. The now crispy meat balls were dumped on top. And the sauce was added to the hot meatball/noodle mixture. Oh yeah.. Claude’s sauce – Heinz Catsup added till both the meat balls and noodles were completely coated. Serve hot on plates. I am pretty sure Claude had this delicacy at least 4 or 5 nights a week. Yum!

The second story took place when I was much older. Traveling on business to New York. Stuck in my hotel room, one cold rainy night watching, TV. The local north Jersey new team had been working on a story about a gang that had been stripping cars that had broken down on the New Jersey Turnpike. They had a crew standing by in the bushes when a Cadillac broke down and the owner walked to the next exit. As soon as he was out of sight, a van pulled up behind the Cadillac and 4 guys jumped out with a jack and compressed air canister and tools. They swarmed over the car jacking it up and removing the wheels and working on the interior. The new reporter and his camera man snuck up behind the car and started filming the guy in the car removing the radio from the dashboard. Just then he pulled the radio out, the camera lights came on and the reported stuck a microphone in the guys face and said, “ What are you doing with my radio??” The guy holding the radio in his hands replied in the most pronounced “Noo Joisee” accent, “What radio?”. I broke out laughing so hard I almost fell of the hotel bed the first time and still laugh out loud at the memory.

Website Update:
This week:
• Almost week 2 for our new Vocabulary Quiz. I apologize for the delay in posting the updates. The work was done. I got into a hurry and forgot to update the webpage.
• A New Musical Trivia Quiz!!! WhooHooo!
• A couple of new yummy recipes this week! Pasta Amatriciana is as simple as it is delicious. Grandpa’s Stuffed Poblanos were so tasty that even though I made plenty of extra only one survived for lunch the next day. Yum!
• The Home Page quote this week is from Albert Einstein, ”Imagination is much more important than knowledge.” I reckon he had enough of both to he the judge.

Writing, Ceramics, Stained Glass and Painting Update:
• I am painting again! I began to sketch the scene that if it ever is presentable, will be called, “Lori’s Barn”.
• I have paper edited 3 more chapters of Grandpa Stories. Progress towards being republished. Paper editing might be just a little fun as I relive the stories! Maybe it just sucks a little less.

• Have you ever bought the same book twice? I have. More times that I am willing to admit in public. I almost did it again. Almost a decade ago, a dear friend of mine, discovered and bought a book for me. The title of he book is, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I was looking for something else and I saw the 25th anniversary edition of it and almost bought it! I will tell myself that is because I didn’t actually buy it the first time. It was just my raggedy old guy memory that saved me this time. I went to my office book selves and found it right away. All of Julia Cameron’s books that I have seen read more like lesson plans. I think of her books as a learning journey, week by week, with information and inspiration. Each week includes exercises to build the skills and discipline you need to obtain the results you are seeking. Seeing it again, made me smile and decide to read it again. It will take longer this time with my visual challenges but I bet it will still be a sweet ride! If you haven’t heard of her, I recommend that you put her book on your list. I will check to see if I have more than one copy!
• Over the years, I have made the acquaintance of perhaps a half dozen or so truly self-actualized people. A few of them have become my friends in spite of the limitations I bring to the table. I think it is important to do self examination from time to time. I use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as my ruler. Most of us got our Maslow indoctrination in PSY-101 in college or high school. I think for most it was just a question or two on a final. But I was impressed by it. I poured over his book and realizing that his perspective on self was valuable. Somewhere in the middle of my life, I learned that things measured tend to improve. Ever since, I check-in on how I am doing. One thing that I could never figure out or at least was never taught. How much of that pyramid is nature vs. nurture? I figured like most everything else it was the achievement of balance between the two. We come to the party with some innate strengths and weaknesses. What we do from there is up to us, the people who grow us and the world we grow into. One thing on the nurture side of the scale, recognizing your innate limitations and building relationships that help fill those gaps, We are the sum of ourselves and our relationships as it applies to those unmet needs on the pyramid. I have learned that our relationships are the key external force in our lives. Even less positive relationships can us fill an unmet need if you are honest. So I keep checking. It helps me maintain a deep and abiding respect for those I believe achieve true self-actualization and become truly selfless. That is a bloom worth working toward.

Music Update:
Today UJT Radio also returns to its normal waltz through my musical archives with a eclectic selection for you. I just found out this week that in October 2020, we lost Eddie Van Halen. RIP Eddie and thanks for all the music.

This week’s UJT Radio Program:
• Tommy Emmanuel – The Trails — It has been awhile since UJT Radio featured this magnificent guitar player. This one may be a bit jazzy for some tastes but I like it. This is from his “Live from the Balboa Theater” released in 2011.
• Mike and The Mechanics — Time and Place — Doing the Genesis thing last week reconnected me with Mike Rutherford. I always loved Mike’s voice as well as his guitar. This is a pretty thoughtful song from their 1991 release, “Word of Mouth”.
• Big Brother and the Holding Company — Turtle Blues — From the Vinyl!!! This is a sweet reminder of good old blues music. This one is a deep cut that displays Janis’ huge talent pretty well. “Cheap Thrills” was released in 1968 and had the coolest album cover!
• Alanis Morissette – Eight Easy Steps – My old friend Jack Keller played this song for me the first time. Every time it comes up on rotation I remember my surprise that day. I miss Jack a lot. This is from her 2004 release, “So Called Chaos”.
• Matchbox Twenty – Unwell — From their, “Exile on Mainstream” album. This record is one of my all time favorites… these guys are just “bitchin’ “!
• Henry Paul Band – Grey Ghost – This one comes to from my brother Mike, sort of. He sent me another song by this band but I actually liked this one a little better. I also remembered this is Henry Paul’s tribute to his friend Ronnie Van Zandt. This is the title cut to their 1979 release. The guitar work is impressive on this cut but on other cuts on this album the emphasis is on their harmonies.

That’s it… Do the best you can; Laugh every chance you get; Always remember… The best is yet to come! As always, thank you for being my friend!