July 4th, 2019 – Happy 243rd Birthday America!!!!

“Bundì!” “Good Morning !!!” to you all in Friulian, a Romance language spoken in northern Italy. .

Today is our country’s 243rd birthday. Pretty amazing given our start and the bumpy ride since! But it is even more than that is that America has demonstrated that while not necessarily neat and tidy a country of equal countrymen and women of all races, creeds, colors and religions can form a “More Perfect Union” as stated in the Preamble to the Constitution and it can last over two centuries. This is the hope of our children’s future that this government was formed to accept the fact that people may make mistakes in those they choose to represent them. That one branch may go astray as well as other calamities available to those in power. The systems of checks and balances though abused terribly in recent years will correct past wrongs and adjust to what we have learned. That is the uniquely American form of democracy. We have to exercise it and trust in its proven strengths, hard won by learning from mistakes in our past. No more than ever we must accept, respect and celebrate our differences and isolate those who would promote hate above noble honesty to see their own ambitions. As a country, we need to recognize the grave threat that such hate presents to our nation and eliminate it from our discourse as we correct the faulty direction currently set. According to the UJT Countdown of Shame, only 565 days remain for this horrific administration.

I am just finishing a really interesting book by Dan Brown entitled, “Origins”. It is work to read his novels because his exhaustive research and attention to detail that challenges any of us who have visited the settings for his stories. We are forced to reconcile our images, impressions and experiences from those visits with his contexts. His work also challenges my recollection of lessons learned long ago, in my high school and college World History classes and my various engagements with organized religions over these many years. His characters and plot lines are rich with history, abstracts, lineage, textures and foibles but for me at least, enticing. This book, in particular, has pulled me to a place I had not visited in some time. One of the key characters is someone empowered and encumbered by some of the traits that I have been accused of over the years. Albeit my ability to envision what lay over the time horizon has not yet netted me billions nor made me world famous, I have been able to predict behaviors, circumstances and outcomes before apparent to others, fairly regularly over my career. As a younger man, I was almost helpless to affect these outcomes because I lacked the credibility, experience or in some cases, the courage to act on my foresight. As I became more mature, I became more courageous, articulate and effective at influencing decision makers. In all cases, I promise it is not comfortable being the only one in the room seeing what appears obvious and yet is undetected by any of your mentors, superiors and peers. As much as this might sound like self-aggrandizement, it is not. It is simply the reason that this book completely captured my full focus and attention. I connected with this character’s triumphs and struggles. I envied his resources and abilities to act on his foresight. But that is not the only reason that love this book. This book takes on two questions about humanity that I have answered over and over. and then found my answers to be inadequate every time. “Where do we come from? and Where are we going?” I have searched history, religions, fantasies and philosophies my entire life and arrived here, 67 years later no closer to the right answers but with a truck load of false ones (in my opinion). This book does about the best job I have found so far in presenting an alternatively believable scenario for how we got here and a fascinating premise as to where we might be going. Ladies and Gentlemen, now that is good book! You don’t have to believe everything in it nor should you really to enjoy it. I hope you do read it with an open mind and question everything in it and what you believe to be true for you. I hope you will be able to listen to the possible. There is a subtext running in the background built on Spain’s horrible history and deals with many topics along the way that seem apropos to the poisonous stew of hate, nationalism, corruption and greed that we find ourselves basting in at the moment. If nothing else, it is a good story.

I am preparing for a major celebration dinner at our house next week. In the past, we have gone out to dinner for this kind of thing. In thinking about it, I decided to cook the meal myself. I believe that I can cook the menu I have in mind at least as good as any restaurant where you can order this sort of thing. And I will enjoy doing it. Here the menu:

Chateaubriand with “All Rotten” Potatoes and Grilled Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
Cafe con Leché with Hazelnut Expresso Parfait

Dinner will be served in candlelight, outside, next to our pond’s soothing waterfall song. Yum!

This week I learned some stuff:
• I am now able to continue to convert my vinyl records to digital format. We have the technology wrestled to the the ground!

Website Update:
• A New Vocabulary Quiz!!!!
• Week 2 for our UJT Music Trivia Quiz!
• In prep for our big anniversary dinner, I reviewed all the recipes and updated them – Chateaubriand, Vichyssoise,

Writing, Ceramics and Painting Update:
• This is our last week before classes start up again. I am looking forward to getting back to the social aspects of the classes as much as the artistic ones. Its funny all human group endeavors always seem to have the same basic ingredients – there is an In crowd: the talented misfits; the less talented misfits, the enablers who encourage every one and of course, the Supreme Guardians of rules, decor and “the norm”. I am proud to be among the less talented misfits as we seem to take all this far less seriously and enjoy the ride more than the destination.
• Grandpa Stories is still not re-published.

• I have come to the conclusion that one must seek out and find their complimentary companion to complete themselves. That is to say, if you are one of the lucky few who is destined to remain connected to another soul for extended periods of time, it is important to remain dissimilar to that person in most respects. The incredibly organized would do well to hook up with a functional slob. A toothpaste tube roller-upper should commingle with a top of the tube squeezer. High speed long legged walkers should learn to stroll with their shorter limbed slower counterparts. After what seems like a gazillion years of human observation, it has occurred to me that, if we connect with our most similar individual, we would be doomed to a life of bored congeniality only to be marred by the occasional disagreement on when or how to do the thing you both understand the same way and agree must be done. Where as, the baffled imbalance achieved by interactions with our semi-opposites tend to enliven almost every moment of life. And many of those moments are joyful over time. We grow to be grumpy old souls who remain completely confused by the other’s daily activities in terms of method, purpose and design…. for, as in my case, literally decades. Next week, Tippy and I will be celebrating our 46th Anniversary. Yeah I know, right! Amazing huh! Who’d of thunk it?? Surely, not our parents, or our friends or colleagues but here we are sneaking up on our fifth decade of connection and devotion. A bumpy ride to be sure but gratitude and awe is all you will hear coming from me (well ok, just a little whining, sometimes, at the bumpy parts :)!

Music Update:

I have created a very nice collection of songs that I think celebrate life in a grand way! I re-learned my digital turntable and associate software! Weehaa!!

Go to this week’s UJT Radio program.

• Grateful Dead — Touch of Grey — From the Vinyl!!! This one comes from their 1987 release, “In the Dark”. This was their first album after Jerry Garcia returned from his near fatal health scare. Its just a great album and this song has sort of been an anthem for those of us who didn’t leave the concert early.
• Spoon — Finer Feelings — This one comes from their 2007 release, “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”. For me, this band has refreshing and unique sound.
• Elton John — Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me — This one comes from that wonderful musical collage put together to help Japan after their disasters in 2011.
• Ry Cooder — No Banker Left Behind — This one kind of feels apropos given our national efforts to ignore the plights of un-wealthy (unworthy!?) to focus on the needs of the one percenters. This comes from his 2011 release, “Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down”.
• Jerry Garcia — Deal — From the Vinyl!!! One of my all time favorites from Jerry’s solo efforts. This one comes from his “Garcia” album released in 1972. Its well produced and his craftsman ship is just awesome!
• Men at Work – Overkill — These guys were sooo good! The music is so subtle. The guitar interplay between Colin Hay and Ron Strykert and I love the sax work by Greg Ham.
• Phoebe Snow –Either or Both – Another beautiful song sung beautifully from her “Phoebe Snow” album released in 1974.

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!