May 24th, 2018

“ კაი ოუმანი (Ǩai oumani)” “Good Morning” in Laz, a South Caucasian language spoken in parts of Turkey and Georgia.

Last Tuesday night, PBS aired a new series that I think is very exciting. The Great American Read is a contest of sorts but is more than that. It is a celebration of reading!!! You remember reading? The act of using your mind and imagination to convert words into entire worlds and experiences. A list of 100 of best loved novels chosen through a national survey are presented with anecdotes from celebrities, authors, and regular folks as to why they love that book and why you should vote for it. You can vote for your favorite book every day. You can watch the special here. Just watching the special, I ended up with a list of new books I need to read.

Unlike morons, the global economy remembers your mistakes. Japan is contemplating taking the US to the WTO over Trump’s recent steel and aluminum tariffs. Trump pulled us out of the TPP agreement and now Australia will be exporting all of Japan’s beef as American ranchers can’t compete. An the new “Oops-I-Didn’t-Mean-It” China Trade Strategy will not help. Trump said no to a European trade agreement but Canada did not, so now all of Europe’s demand for lobster will be met by the Canadians. Backing out of the IRAN nuclear deal means that Americans will be handing over its assets to China who will take over several large scale projects already underway in IRAN’s natural gas distribution industry. On top of that, so many countries disagree with the new US sanctions on IRAN, that they are considering developing a new Chinese based bank clearing system excluding the US to conduct business with IRAN and avoid the sanctions. The backlog of requests for exception from the steel and aluminum tariffs from American companies has grown so much that the government is hiring additional processing staff to try and catch up. While as regrettable as these rather negative short term impacts may be, this is no where near as frightening as the long term impacts of the loss of US credibility stemming from these actions and the resulting destabilization of global markets. All this turmoil is taking place with the back drop of new tax structures and government revenue predictions that at best were optimistic to the point of being ridiculous, meaning that when the tax revenue based upon actual growth is released, the US will be trying to borrow more to cover the completely predictable deficits thus driving interest rates skyward which has the nasty effect of : Yes… You guessed it … stifling growth which will further reduce tax revenues. All of the companies who enjoyed the tax windfalls will have already distributed the dividends (to their wealthiest stockholders) and will not have reinvestment capital available. Macro economics does not suffer fools lightly. Of course, that being said, Trump and his ilk will be worth many more times what they are today.

Do you remember former Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords’ husband? His name is Mark Kelly and he is kind of a nerdy guy – a scientist, US Navy Aviator, Test Pilot, Captain and Shuttle Commander, astronaut-kind of geek. I really like this guy. I think it might just be impossible for him to say something that is not smart, accurate and truthful. When his honorable (little h) Mo Brooks from Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District, asked the head of the Woods Hole Research center …Couldn’t rising sea levels just be from rocks and dirt falling in and sinking to the bottom? Mark Kelly posted the following notable tweet, “Sad that some members on the science committee in the US House of Representatives don’t believe in science. @RepMoBrooks, I’m sure there is an open desk in a fifth grade classroom somewhere in your district.” Snap!

The newest audiobook I have checked out from San Diego Library is Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. Of course, I read it as soon as it was released and enjoyed it then. I also enjoyed the movie but I always considered the first and last HP books to be the best. This new “read” however has caused me to increase my appreciation of J.K. Rawling. I had forgotten so many things about the book. It has so many funny parts, the relationship between the Dementors and Voldemort and included additional characters such as Binky, Ludo Bagman from the ministry, Barty Crouch’s female house elf and others, missing from the films. I encourage any of you who love the Harry Potter stories to re-read them.

This week I learned some stuff:

• The memories of friends now gone seem to visit me more often these days. They make me feel rich and warm. This week it was my old friend, “Saki” came to me in a quiet moment. She was our dear old Pug who loved us for over a decade and looked after us on two continents before she left us. She was a character of great courage and even greater sweetness. I am so grateful for her friendship.
• May 24th is is “Brothers Day”! From the moment the other is born, we have a built-in best friend, hugest pain in the butt, and excuse for every rotten thing your mom catches you doing together. I lost my brother, Pat last year. We were inseparable as boys but became more distant over the years. But I feel his loss as if one of my limbs was gone. So if your brother is still with you, cherish your good fortune and set aside anything that might keep you from being apart of each others’ lives. There is but one guaranty in the lives of brothers, one of your lives will end before you know it. Then it is too late for anything but regret. So give your bro a call or hug or smile today. Tell a story that maybe embarrasses him but let him know that you are glad that you have a brother.

Website Update:
• This is your last week to solve the New Vocabulary Quiz!!!
• Week two of UJT Music Trivia Quiz”. How did you do like it? Please let me know.
• I have added a recipe for homemade “no-ice-cream-machine-required” Espresso Ice Cream for your consideration this week.
• I have added a link on the UJT Home Page to vote for your favorite book in The Great American Read. You can vote for your favorite book every day.

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. I broke the Urge II trivet!! I will be starting over this week.
• Same story different day on the Chewy acrylic painting.

• Well, either me or my doc was confused about the annual physical date. All he wanted to check was my BP as he had changed my dosage. It was bad so he changed it again.
• California has a strange voting system compared to other places I have lived. They don’t have republican or democrat or independent primaries by party. They have all candidates on the primary ballot and the top two votegetters go on the ballot, independent of party affiliation. So we could end up with two republicans or two democrats running against each other. I think its a pretty crappy way to get a clear choice in November. It seems to be an excellent way to get a lot of Bad or Worse selections but that is just me.

Music Update:
This week is a nice wide mix of genres that I found searching my music archives. April 7th came and went this year without comment in my world. It is hard to believe that it has been over 7 years since Japan was rocked by a 9.3 scale earthquake and tsunami that killed over 22,000 people and caused the greatest nuclear accident of our time.
Go to this week’s UJT Radio program.
• Charlie Hunter — Fine Corinthian Leather — Here is another one from my new found friend. This one is from his 2006 release, “ Baboon Strength”.
• Bruno Mars — Talking to the Moon — I first heard this one when I got the Songs for Japan album. I really like this acoustic piano version though I am not a real fan of Mr. Mars. Most of his music feels contrived and almost too cute to enjoy. See if you like this one too.
• Katy Perry — Firework — This is another song I found on the Songs for Japan album. To me this song is just infectious. I just break out in goose pimples and my breathing goes crazy. I just wish I could hit those high notes …. Firework … oh yeah!
• Blind Faith — Can’t Find My Way Home — There are few things in this life as sweet as Steve Wildwood’s singing accompanied by Eric Clapton’s playing an acoustic guitar.
• Bob Schneider — Bullets — This is a very tight piece. Bob channels his inner Wolfman Jack on the vocals and the horns just work. This one is from his 2001 release, “Lonelyland”.
• Jethro Tull — Nothing is Easy — Ian Anderson and the boys mixing it up on “Stand Up” there pivotal release from 1969. Mick Abrams had left the band to form Blodwyn Pig before this album and was replaced by Martin Barre.
• Jimmy Buffett — Chanson Pour Les Petitis Enfants — Released in 1969, “Volcano” is pretty record that gave us such ParrotHead standards such as “Volcano” and “Fins”. I think this song was all about his new baby girl, Savanah Jane who was born just before it was released.
• Maroon 5 — She Will Be Loved — Just a great song from a great band. This one comes from their 2002 release, “Songs About Jane”. Enjoy!

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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