June 11th, 2020

“tschüss! Pronounced, “chooz!” is a actually kind of a German Aloha or a rough equivalent of the British “Cheers!”. It’s from the northwestern part of Germany or the Low German and is mostly said when leaving some one. But have heard it used in greetings too. The most important thing about it is that like aloha, it can only be said with a smile! It is Day 84 of the California Lock Down (i.e. Relaxing of shelter in place continues – people on the beach+ some dine in eating and drinking with new rules + protests everyday through out the county.

I heard from an old friend of mine, who unknown to me, has a birthday this month as does his son, Happy Birthday fellas! Have fun at the lake house! As my number of candles becomes to much for any reasonable cake to bear, I tend to get more reflective about my life and the meaning of it all. To be honest, I have never been very sure about what my purpose was here. in my almost seven decades, i have learned Mother Nature always seeks a balance but I will be damned if I can figure out what this life did to deserve the likes of me! I have fairly good skills at consuming things – time, scotch, cigars and mostly excellent food but I am marginal in most other areas of human endeavors. If I had it to do all over again, I think I would shoot for being an otter. I like their attitude and share their taste in seafood. So tomorrow this old otter will get a bit older and glad of another day to celebrate.

This week I learned some stuff:
• We had some new tenants check out the the bird house but I guess it didn’t work out because they split up this week and moved out. Breaking up is hard to do as the song says.
• June 11th is the 163rd day of the year (because 2020 is a leap year – but there still only 202 days till Christmas!). On this day in 1776, The Continental Congress appointed Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston to the Committee of Five to draft a declaration of independence; today in 1944, the USS Missouri, the last US Battleship built and the place where the Japanese surrendered was put into commission; In 1962, Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin allegedly become the only prisoners to escape from the prison on Alcatraz Island; Lest we forget in 1963, John F. Kennedy addresses Americans from the Oval Office proposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which would revolutionize American society by guaranteeing equal access to public facilities, ending segregation in education, and guaranteeing federal protection for voting rights; On this day in 1970, Anna Mae Violet Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington officially receive their ranks as U.S. Army Generals, becoming the first females to do so; On this day 1987, Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng and Bernie Grant are first black MPs in Great Britain ever elected; Today in 2001, Timothy McVie was executed for his role in the Oklahoma City Bombing; Jacque Cousteau, French biologist, author, and inventor, co-developed the aqua-lung; American Football coach and manager, Vince Lombardi was born on this day in 1913; ZZ Top’s drummer and songwriter, Frank Beard, celebrates his 71st birthday today; Joe Montana, American football player and sportscaster was born today in 1956; America actor, Peter Dinklage was born on this day in 1969; Marion Michael Morrison, aka John Wayne, America actor, passed away today in 1979 and Deforest Kelly aka, “Doctor McCoy”, American actor and screenwriter, passed away today in 1999.

Website Update:
This week we made the following changes:
• A “New” Vocabulary Quiz!!! Yeah!!!
• Last week for our “New” UJT Musical Trivia Quiz.
• As you know I keep stretching my culinary boundaries, attempting different dishes, some quite frankly, beyond my meager skills. And I am happy to report, that most of the time, I am able to enjoy the results of my attempts. Sometimes, I have to make the dish, taste it, adjust and make it again to get it right. Some I am still working on like that. But every once and a while, I have an abject failure. I had such a failure this week. I found a very interesting recipe for Toasted Coconut Rice with green beans and bok choy. I love flavored rice and am a big fan of fresh green beans and bok choy so I went for it. I also chose this dish to try Chinese green beans (you know those 24-30 inch beans you have seen in Asian markets). Well, the rice got done and the beans and bok choy didn’t. I have an idea, how I can fix it but we had Popeyes Chicken for dinner instead. I also made Gazpacho this week and in the process, updated the recipe. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should go for it. Gazpacho is a wonderful choice during the hot summer months and very healthy for you.

Writing, Ceramics and Painting Update:
• I still haven’t gotten back into painting much. I even missed my virtual watercolors class via Zoom. I enjoy hanging with those folks even if I am not painting as much but the world got in the way this week.
• Grandpa Stories is still not re-published.

• Empathy! The most useful tool in conflict resolution is empathy. Just being able to truly understand what the motivations and issues are for the party across the table is an extremely valuable and often rare commodity. For example, can a giftedly slow old white guy truly understand what it must be like to be a 20something black man in America today? I have a grandson who must live with that fear of being fatally black every day. We don’t talk about it. We both live with it in the fabric of our society. Until Now. As our country once again thrashes and chafes at the horror and constant pain of racism, I can understand the anger and frustration that drives some of the poor decisions people have made. I can also understand a society that values control far more than prevention. Everything that hurts us we try to control – The War on Drugs, Or Poverty, Or Domestic Violence or Terror and Homelessness on and on.. We are constantly at war with something we might have prevented if prevention was our true goal. The problem for us, is if you focus on control by definition you must focus power. We create the controllers and the controlled who are in various forms of conflict constantly. This never ending propensity for conflict reenforces each sides fear, loathing and frustration. Erupting from time to time in outrage and despair. Lives are ruined and lost. Our pattern to this point is to 1) establish more control first. and 2) wait for some newsworthy distraction that allows all the sides to return to the horrible “normal” we have perpetuated for far too long. Tomorrow is my 68th birthday. I would like us to start putting the resources and non-stop focus of American power on preventing the need for all this after the fact control of our people. We can do it. We have to do just 3 things: 1) Recognize the root causes and desire the change as a people; 2) Trust each other to do our parts in making the change; and 3) Forgive, adjust and double down on making this change from control to prevention every time we mess it up during our transformation. We must recognize that many of our systems and institutions are flawed fundamentally. Not the values that they seek, just the execution. What if we just looked at our problems differently? What if our first institutional step was to search for and eliminate the root causes for all these horrible forms of hate, despair and frustration that plague humankind? Thats what I want for my birthday!
• Recently, I saw a post in Facebook articulating the criminal record of the man who was killed on the street by a police officer. Apparently, George Floyd had a history involving drugs and crimes associated with drug use .. possession, robbery, burglary, etc. I presume the intent of the post was to justify or at least mitigate the horror of the man’s murder by firmly placing the victim in the “Bad Guy” column. The gallows humor of policing might describe this man’s murder as a “public service killing” as they describe gang violence and other horrific consequences of our society’s failures. 31 Million Americans have a drug related arrest record like George Floyd. That’s about 1 out of every 10 of us. The fact is that man did nothing to deserve his execution. He was unarmed and restrained and the officer simply choked him to death. Nothing in his record is going to justify or mitigate that fact.

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:
• The Beach Boys — Sloop John B — These guys were unique from the start. Their focus on harmony was able to create a following that remained steadfast to this day. This one comes from their iconic 1966 release, “Pet Sounds”.
• Eric Clapton/Santana — The Calling — This is a truly remarkable performance of these two Titans of guitar. This was captured on Santana’s 1999 release, “Supernatural”.
• Lynyrd Skynyrd — Sweet Home Alabama — This album came out and blew us all away. This was from their 1976 release, “One More for the Road”.
• The Beatles — Blackbird — This one of my favorite songs from the boys. This one is from the White Album released in 1968. You could almost smell the pachouli when ever it was playing!
• Lionel Richie — Running With the Night — This one came from his Can’t Slow Down album released in 1983.
• Tedeschi Trucks Band — Until You Remember — There is something so compelling to me about this band’s music. I love her vocals but the sparse tight instrumentation is so powerful. This one is from their “Revelator” album released in 2011. That whole album is great!.

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!