May 17th, 2018

“ မဂႆလာပၝ (min-ga-la-ba)” “Good Morning” in Burmese, a Burmese-Lolo language spoken mainly in Burma (Myanmar). I thought Myanmar was a predominantly Muslim country but it is not. Over 88% of Burmese are Buddhists. In fact, there are more Christians than followers of Islam there. This week marks the beginning of Ramadan. “Ramadan Mubarak” is a good greeting for a muslim during Ramadan. It means, “May Ramadan bring us blessings.”

Last Sunday, I watched a very interesting 60 Minutes segment on Pope Francis. I became fond of our Pope almost immediately after he was elected and chose Francis as his name. Francis of Assisi has long been my favorite Patron Saint. The fact that this Cardinal from Argentina at 76 years of age was elected at all is a miracle. I think that he is the oldest pope elected and the first from South America. And then to choose Francis as his name, I had a feeling he was going to shake things up in the Church. I was not wrong! Since that day to this one, this principled man, so full of humanity and humor, has earned my respect and admiration. This news segment was about a documentary that he did to clarify himself and the church using an interview format. He tells stories and explains how he feels about the environment, pedophiles within the church and a myriad of other topics, quite candidly. In many ways, he reminds me of his fellow spiritual leader, The Dalai Lama. The both seem to have a simple wisdom and deep appreciation of humor. “Pope Francis – A Man of His Word” debuted at Cannes Film Festival this week and opens in selected theaters in 80 cities next week. The excerpts that I saw on 60 Minutes gave me hope that the Catholic Church can be freed from the persistent dogma, arrogance and privilege that has plagued it’s relevance for most of my lifetime.

I watched an interesting tv show on Netflix (“The Rain”) that seemed like a very realistic glimpse into what it might be like after a what appears to be a global biological “accident”. A Scientists children, a brother and sister spend 5 years in an underground bunker after their mother is killed protecting them from catastrophe. They are running out of food so they must go outside and find an almost totally dead world… or so they think. I have only watched the one episode so far but it feels realistic and is well done.

My vertical pallet garden is growing!! The pepper plants have blossoms. The cilantro is getting bigger and had turned skyward. The watermelon seedlings are longer and have more leaves!! Whoohoo! I have had gardens before and it is a god-like feeling growing life, participating directly in the circle of life from seed to table. But you learn the utter helplessness when your nurtured little world is invaded by bugs, rabbits, blight or even worse your own ignorance. But it is a joyous pallet garden that I am observing today.

This week I learned some stuff:

• Have you heard of Amazon’s Treasure Truck? Its pretty cool. From time to time, the get really good (like 40-60% off) deals and just put them on a truck, text their customers about the deals and where the trucks will be and for how long. If you like the deal, you buy it on Amazon Smile (you are using Amazon Smile right?) and then meet the truck at one of the locations posted to pick up the deal. We have done it twice so far. The first time was for some beautiful wild salmon and yesterday, I got a set of Calphalon pots and pans for 50% off the price I had been looking at. Its not available in all cities but it is pretty cool.
• May 17th is is “National Cherry Cobbler Day”! Treat yourself to a nice bowl of cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream, preferably with a little kid.

Website Update:
• Week 2 of the New Vocabulary Quiz!!!
• I am always trying to keep those of you suffering from attention deficit issues engaged with the UJT and these updates. To that end I am trying out a new thing. I have created a new feature (or flaw depending upon your perspective) called. “The UJT Music Trivia Quiz”. The reader is given a numbered list of trivia items and a lettered list of possible songs and artists to match. Jot down on a separate piece of paper the number and your selected corresponding letter. A key will be presented at the bottom. Check it out. Let me know if you think it is not fun or too easy or if “the juice is worth the squeeze”. If enjoyable, I will put one out every month or so like the Vocabulary Quiz.
• I have added a few more recipes for your consideration this week.

Writing, Ceramics and Painting Update:
• Still cannot touch the Wisteria in bloom painting. I started the String Of Pearls painting in class but was too hung over to do anything last Friday. I have another painting still banging around in my head as well.
• Took the Blue Meany and Glove home. I have to redo Glove because the finger was not supported well enough and was broken. Started the Urge II trivet!!
• I told you all that I had started the detail work on the Chewy acrylic painting last week. Started my be too strong a word. I did stare at it and get disgusted…doesn’t brush and paint have to be involved to constitute a start ?? I may have exaggerated…. a lot..

• Today, I have my annual physical. I didn’t start having “annual” physicals until I was well into my 50s. Before that my health care was sporadic, infrequent and completely reactionary. I got sick enough, I went to the doc and found out what was wrong. Well, except for when I joined the service and the checked to make sure I was healthy enough to make steam. Anyway, as my warranty started to run out, it seemed prudent to offer your fat old guy body up for poking, pricking, and probing. It may be cynical to say but it is starting to feel like the intent here is to find out which of the billion things that can go wrong in old fart bodies is going to get you early enough to work out the plan that will consume all your money before you die. I am not sure but this maybe the last one of these I do. I think I am going to revert to the reactionary method. Of course, my reactions will be more frequent now.
• I watched our California Gubernatorial Debates last night where 6 of the 27 people who have gotten their names on the ballot reminded us of all their good deeds as mayors, state senators or representatives or businessmen and of all the reasons that we should not vote for the other guys. Several made excellent points but the saddest part is that there were at least 2 who have taken a page from Donald Trump’s play book. One democrat and one republican just kept each of their statements to the marketing message instead of taking the opportunity to articulate the steps that they would take to address the issue being discussed. They chose to stay in polarization mode where they blurt out reactionary positions and the fluffy justifications that pander to their preferred audience. One has even mirrored Trump’s reneging practice on legally established agreements already in place. I wonder if any one else has noticed that the “deal maker” has only made one significant deal since he got the job. He negotiated the biggest windfall tax break for the wealthiest people in the country. But virtually none of the “deals” promised that would be “fast and easy” have happened – No health care deal, no Immigration deal (except to back out of the Dreamer deal in place) No DAW deal (dumbass wall deal where Mexico pays for it). Has anyone else pondered the question, “Why would anyone sign agreements with the US, now that they know the US will not honor its obligations and commitments?” The cost of lost credibility in our commitments is a price our children and their children will be paying for a long time. Now we have those dishonorable practices taking place at the state level. It is just sad. 986 days and counting!

Music Update:
I work pretty hard at bringing UJT Radio listeners a nice mix of excellent musical samples from across the spectrums of time and genre. Some weeks I may get lost in an era or lock in on rock and roll but generally, I try to provide a mix that any of the UJT Radio listeners might recognize, discover or explore. This week is a pretty good example of that kind of mix, I think. I hope you enjoy.
Go to this week’s UJT Radio program.
• Steve Miller Band — Your Saving Grace — This is the title cut from Mr. Stevie Guitar from Plano, TX album released in 1969. This one featured some of the best players in the bidness, y’all! This one makes me smile every time! It reminds me of a time, sitting on George Monahan’s front porch, with him rocking in his chair, playing this song for the first time for me and the other disciples of that particular brand of silliness. “….. Tomorrow’s come a long long way to help you… It’s Just Savin Grace…” Ain’t Life Grand!
• Bob Dylan — Isis — Bob just doing his Bob thing. This one was released on his “Desire” album in 1976. Scarlet Rivera played the violin on this haunting tune.
• Jefferson Airplane — Comin’ Back To Me — This beautiful Marty Balin ballad from Surrealistic Pillow was released in 1967. This one reminds me of one cold wet raining Miami in November morning, of being in love at 15 years of age, when every little thing was just SOOOOO important.
• Jean-Luc Ponty — The Gardens of Babylon — Jean-Luc is another one of those fabulous players who wanders around some of the best music (Al diMeola, Frank Zappa, Elton John, Jon Anderson, Stanley Clark, etc.) of our time, in the background mostly, like Nicky Hopkins. This on is from his Imaginary Voyage album, released in 1976. I have the vinyl but was too lazy to record it yet so this is the iTunes version.
• Colin Hay — Looking For Jack — This is the force behind Men at Work. I really like this jazzy concoction Colin has whipped up for us for his Man@Work release in 2003.
• Don Henley — Not Enough Love in the World — This one comes from his 1984 release, “Building the Perfect Beast”.
• Elliott Smith — Tomorrow Tomorrow — Released in 1998 on his Xo album. I like the guitar work and harmonies a lot on this one.
• Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention — Dinah Mo Hum — Damn! Frank was a one original player. This one is from, “Over Nite Sensation” released in 1973. The music is just so tight and the lyrics so irreverent almost like he is making fun of his audience. He was a very interesting human who discovered and cultivated great musical talents. Frank is missed.

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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