April Fools Day, 2016

Chào buổi sáng! (Good morning to you from Viet Nam!!!) 

Last Sunday was Easter. I hope everyone who celebrates Easter had a wonderful one. For me Easter is the toughest holiday each year. For me it is a day where I must reconcile my own faith. Faith is the wonderful and terrible thing that blindly unites and divides people in an instance in totally intractable ways. I have lived a lifetime filled with faith or the loss of it. As a child and even now, I can be moved to tears of joy whenever I am connected …to what.. my inner Christian? I don’t know but I falter at even wanting to be something that rejects so much of life simply because it doesn’t “fit”. I know that things are changing even for Catholics. We don’t say mass in Latin or just eat fish on Fridays as it was when I was a child. The Pope now tells us that maybe being gay isn’t a mortal sin and maybe everyone doesn’t have to be a Christian to be a good person. Faith to me has always been an intensely personal thing, yet I was always told to “witness” my faith to as many who would listen as possible, to forgive those who would not listen and try again later. I see terrible parallels in history of the different religions all asking their followers to take those leaps of faith, that usually resulted in more bloodshed. Yet I also see the miracles of life.. a new born child, or puppy, kitten or fledgling with no better explanation or justification for existence than God or Allah or The Force or whatever name or label you might put on some superior being who is somehow orchestrating a grand plan. So every Easter, I count my blessings, ponder my existences and wish all of my fellow man the very best this life has to offer.

Do you make your own bed every morning? I find that just doing that gives me a good start to my day. This week as I was changing my sheets on laundry day, I was suddenly struck by my implausible good fortune of finding and assembling the finest group of unlikely poker buddies the world has probably ever known. I mean anyone can just get a bunch of guys from the same guild or church or regiment or related by kin to sit down to drink and pass an hour or two without bloodshed for perhaps a month or maybe six. But I stumbled and fumbled around till I found this motley mix of very smart, very good and very, very different men that have managed to overlook and perhaps even celebrate a little bit each other’s flaws and foibles every week or so for almost ten years! I cannot speak for all of them but for all the trials and tribulations that my life has presented me … my mother passing, serious illnesses in my family, retirement and other redefinitions of oneself … for all that the positive constants that kept me up and on point have been these poker buddies and a couple of other dear friends and family. In a blink of an eye, ten years has passed since these very different people found that being together was a good thing and as I put the pillow cases on, I found the moment to be grateful for their help in making my life richer.

This week I learned some stuff:
• I guess its more like relearned. My daughter reminded me that at the time of its delivery, President Lincoln was suffering terribly, from burden of a long horrible war, his anxiety over the illness of a child and a fever from his own illness. At the end, he considered his 3 minute Gettysburg Address a complete failure. To me, and untold millions of others, this has been one of the finest pieces of clarifying literature ever written, spoken or memorized.
• There is a flock of wild Macaws that moved in across the street and Steve, the parakeet, is not sure how he feels about the neighbors. At first, he just tried to sing along with them but the shine seems to have worn off, like maybe they are singing the same song over and over or just rap songs or something.

Website Update
• 2nd Week for the  “new” Vocabulary Quiz
• I cleaned out the Kitchen Drawer – got rid of some junk and added a new category called Political Thoughts. I have added a paper I wrote a couple of weeks ago called, “America’s Democracy is Failing” but it probably should called, “America’s Democracy Needs an Overhaul”. Take a look, add a comment or put up your own thoughts.


Painting Update:
• Slowly, step by step, I am making my way to the paints…but not this week.

Writing Update:
• I took another week off from editing … still finding typos in GPS.

• Ever since PUBERTY I have enjoyed the smell of aftershave and colognes. I think the first one I saved up my lawn mowing money for was a delightful scent called Jade East, then there was English Leather and so on. Over the years as my income grew and my taste or perhaps I should say as my wife’s tastes became more refined and expensive I moved on to Polo, Drakaar, and others. Now that I am old, I have this rather large collection of colorful little bottles that a pass over on my way to the Old Spice!
• Have you ever known any one who was truly gentle? Inside and out. I don’t think I have. When I think of a gentle soul I think of someone like Bob Ross, who tried to teach us all to paint those “happy little cabins” on those snowy mountains in a 30 minute instructional format in the 1980s. Bob was a gentle soul whose voice was like a stream of comforting and confidence building friendliness to make you feel as if his lesson was a personal conversation instead of a tv broadcast. Another gentle soul was Fred Rogers, who was a staple on PBS kids programing for forever and half. But he was also one of the sincerely gentle humans to ever grace our sorry little planet. Recently, I was reminded of his wisdom and advice in the wake of the bombings in Brussels. When he was a boy and saw scary things on TV or in real life, his mother would tell him to, “Look for the helpers… You will always find people helping on the sidelines…If you look for the helpers, you will know that no matter how terrible the situation, that there is always hope…” I also got to see a wonderful movie last week called, “Inside Out” that did a great job of explaining something we often overlook that we are made up of everything that happens to us – the good and the bad and we kind of need all of it to be the good people we are in total. So the next time we might be tempted to feel a little sorry for ourselves, remember to look for the helpers to find the hope you need, and that even the bad ingredients help make for the richest lives. Try to find a Bob Ross or Mr. Rogers You Tube show or interview in your internet searches and grab some popcorn and watch, “Inside Out” with your kids or grandkids if you have any … couldn’t hurt.
• Bernie Sanders won the Alaska, Washington and Hawaiian state caucuses and the 55 delegates associated with them. Keep Rolling Bern!

Music Update:
Another list of musical foolishness to go with the celebration of pranks and pranksters. Do you remember the Merry Pranksters?
• Pink Floyd – Us and Them  — Always been one of my favorites from their Dark Side of the Moon album. I fell in love with Dick Perry’s amazing Sax and that guy Gilmore does a good job on vocals and guitars too.
• The Doobie Brothers – Rockin’ Down the Highway — From the Vinyl!!!! From their second album, written by Tom Johnston was a big hit at ever live Doobie show I ever saw.
• Shane Smith & The Saints – Coast — This guy just has something reaches inside of me and makes me listen and feel it all at once. I am sure its personal and that he doesn’t everyone the same way but hell, that just makes me feel special…and listen and smile harder:)
• The Byrds – Mr. Tamborine Man — Another anthem to our ill spent youth. Written by Bob Dylan but really made famous by Roger McQuinn and the boys in the Byrds.
• Jimi Hendrix Experience – All Along the Watchtower – From the Vinyl!!! Another Bob Dylan song that I sang wrong for a decade or two. Kids today! Sheesh !they have it so easy with all these lyrics sites online. I would listen to albums stoned, hungry, dazed and glazed for days trying to get the words right but the distractions .. oh my!  
• John Mayer – Perfectly Lonely — John is back in the news now he has stepped into the giant shoes of Jerry Garcia as the guitar player for that funky little San Francisco band, now known as the Dead and Company. They are on tour now.
• Bruce Hornsby – See the Same Way —  This is just another great Hornsby tune from this Spirit Trail album. This man is just so generous and rich with his music!!!
• Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Right Between The Eyes(Live) —  From the Vinyl!!! This is a live cut form their 4 Way Street Album. I would listen to this one endlessly trying to join those perfect harmonies but always making sure the volume was high enough that it didn’t matter too much if I didn’t hit each high note with the boys… in my heart I was always right their with them.

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!