June 15th, 2017

Dobro jutro !! (“Good Morning” in Bosnian.)

Yep, its true. In spite of my best efforts, I managed to make it to the ripe old age of 65. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the life I have enjoyed and the good friends I have made over the years. Knowing you has made this ride interesting, joyful and enriching. I thank you all for putting up with my many limitations. I will continue to strive be more of the man that you misguided creatures appear to believe I am. Consider yourselves well met and hugged. Thank you!

This week I had the distinct pleasure of watching the movie, “Lincoln” again. I admit to a life long deep and abiding love for our 16th president. I have tried to read every word and watch every movie about or including the man. There is a scene in this great movie, where as the war is ending and the casualties are so horrific, that Lincoln and key members of his staff monitored the reports from the field in almost real time via the telegraph. While waiting for news, Lincoln would often entertain the tense group with stories. My favorite was the story of Ethan Allen’s visit to London after the revolutionary war was concluded. He was negotiating with the British on any number of topics but barely tolerated as a crude, unwashed ruffian. He was invited to a Lord’s home for dinner. During the course of the evening he had occasion to visit the “privy” where he found a portrait of George Washington. His lordship inquired as to what the new country’s representative to the crown thought of painting and its placement. Mr. Alan quietly commented that he did see it and thought it was well placed for its purpose. When asked by his lordship what purpose, Mr. Alan said that he was sure that seeing George Washington would inspire every British gentleman sitting on the privy to shit immediately. Of course, President Lincoln told it much better as did Daniel Day Lewis in his portrayal than I have here. I always thought that Mr. Lincoln’s use of humorous stories to be one of the most important and effective facets of his leadership. One of my favorite books about him was,”Lincoln on Leadership” written by a former EDSer, Donald T. Phillips and published in 1992. I encourage everyone to read this book and see this movie, if not for its great subject matter, or the brilliant performances by the stellar cast then see it for the contrast between the horror of those times and our seeming “insurmountable” problems of today.

Much of the Dodd-Frank Act was gutted this week by the current Republican “leadership” in the House. Pundits are hopeful that the grownups in the Senate will dilute the results sufficiently to enable the law to prevent the next economic meltdown enabled by previous deregulation efforts. Administration officials when asked about conversations with the President about the investigation into Russian tampering and possible Trump campaign officials involvement are invoking Executive Privilege right out of the Nixon playbook. “Stonewalling” is the word of the day as they hunker down and hope it will all go away while they dismantle more and more of the protections put in place to protect anyone but the rich and privileged.

This week I learned some stuff:

• This has been a week just full of bad health news for our family. We learned that both my sweet Mother In Law, Dee Kurtz and my baby brother suffered set backs. It was discovered over the past few weeks that Dee suffered a heart attack and has a Aortic Aneurysm that may or may not be inoperable. Before she could get further tests find out for sure, she fell and broke her hip and had hip replacement surgery this week. Dee is a sweet, funny and spunky young lady who is somewhere in her 80s (no one is really sure where in her 80s). Please keep a good thought about her recovery from these recent set backs. Additionally, we learned that my brother Pat has been diagnosed with another dire liver malady. You may remember, Pat overcame some earlier issues and has a been in good stead for a few years. Recently, he hurt his ribs and in getting that addressed they found another problem with his liver. Right now he feels no ill effects from it. But again, it is a “wait and see” until his body is ready for treatment, a scary time for all of us that love him. Please keep a good thought for Pat’s continued lack of symptoms and recovery.
• I learned that my old boss and friend, Jim Benson is still alive and well and living in Texas. He and his wife, Carol, who I understand has retired as a nurse practitioner recently, enjoy long buying trips to Europe to acquire the beautiful and interesting items that they sell in their antiques shop called, “The Black Swan” in Gruene, TX.
• The people in Tippy’s Pulmonary Rehab gave all of their patients what they call a Vial of Life. Once completed this document gives first responders a wealth of information about your health, meds, doctors, etc. in case you cannot speak for yourself. You just fill it out and put it on your refrigerator or with your passport if you are traveling. I converted the paper document to electronic formats and placed it on UJT for easy access. You can get your electronic copy here.

Website Update
• Week 2 for the New Vocabulary Quiz!!! Woohoo!!!
• This week I also added the lyrics for “Nick of Time” from Bonnie Raitt’s album of the same name and “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan for your sing-a-long pleasure.
• Added a couple of recipes for you. I updated my “All Rotten Potatoes” recipe and added a completely new dish dreamed up on Saturday night driven mostly out of what I had available. The usual victims pronounced my, “Smokey Sausage Medley” as officially “yummy”. I was instructed to write it down. I don’t think they trust my feeble memory to recreate it without notes.
• Added a new page in the “Things To Read” section of the UJT that will allow you to download an electronic editable Vial of Life document. You can choose your favorite flavor – MS Word or Apple Pages or a PDF version that you can print and complete by hand if you prefer) Do it today! Do it for everyone in your household and pass it on to others. It is cheap insurance in case you are in an emergency where you cannot talk for yourself.
• This week’s “Interesting Human” is Steve Allen. Steve Allen was a highly prolific and creative musical performer, songwriter, comedian, actor, radio and TV host, producer and author.

Writing and Painting Update:
• No classes this week but I have started an ambitious painting of some beautiful Purple Shamrocks that I have out in the back yard keeping my bonsai company.
• After several weeks of trying, I got to meet with Joe McAndrew on strategizing our new writing project.

• I discovered this amazing summer time drink at Trader Joes. I got strung out on it last summer and went through serious withdrawals when they ran out of this seasonal beverage but it was worth it. So you might want to stock up when you try it. Its Watermelon and Cucumber juice!! I know, I know but it is really really refreshing.
• I had the opportunity to remember again, that words matter. Forgive me for not remembering her name, but I heard an author on PBS discussing her new book about her interviews with members of ISIS, Al Qeada and the Taliban. When asked about the effect that President Trump has had thus far, she reported that these terrorist organizations were literally cutting and pasting Trumps campaign rhetoric into their recruiting collateral. These organizations did not take Trump’s pandering to our worst elements with promises to reinstate torture techniques and to target the families of known terrorists as the “elect me” fear mongering of a faithless self-promoter. These words, carefully played to disenfranchised young people of the world resonate as a direct attack on their religion, way of life and the people they love. These are the words that inspire 12-13 year old boys and girls to strap 20lbs of explosive, nuts and nails to their bodies and detonate when they arrive at their targets. These recruiters tell them to consider all American’s viable targets because we live in the democracy that voted this individual into power. The negative short and long term effects of the electoral manipulation of our democracy are yet to be fully understood. Each day it seems, we find another facet of negative impact to our country.

Music Update:
This week’s UJT Radio program features a magical theme that I want to share with you:
• The Beatles — In My Life — This one is a good birthday song for me. Since it came out in 1965, this song been true for me. It was as true as a 13 year old all the way to my current fossilized state. I guess I have always looked forward with a love of the people and things of my past in my heart:)
• The Grateful Dead — Touch of Grey — The national anthem of old farts everywhere. This was a song the boys put together after Jerry somehow recovered from his near fatal excursion into and back out of a diabetic coma in July of 1986.
• Bob Seeger and The Silver Bullet Band — Still The Same — Any of us who have learned to love the ride and not watch the calendar, this song is our salute to the powers that be that caused the Reaper to overlook us one more day.
• Bonnie Raitt — Nick Of Time — Are you all detecting a pattern yet??:) A beautiful song written, sung and played by a beautiful lady.
• Blodwyn Pig — Change Song — From the Vinyl!!!! I love this intro:) This is just a great song that also fits the pattern.
• Blood Sweat and Tears — God Bless the Child — These boys made the big band sound work in a time when the rest of the industry was buying more Marshal Amps and extending beyond 3 chords.
• Bob Dylan — Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door — This a great song for contemplating the amount of the sand at the bottom of your personal hour glass. The trick is to enjoy the fall of each grain.
• Derek & The Dominos — Keep On Growing — This one should get your ass to shaking and your face smiling. Eric and Duane danced as they made this joyful noise. Looking forward to becoming more has always worked for me and I hope it does for you too.

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!

Under the Jacaranda Tree URL: http://www.jfmccann.com