July 2nd, 2018

“Emesiere” Wishing you a fine “Good Morning” spoken in Efik, a Benue–Congo language spoken in Cross River State in southern Nigeria .

The Great American Read is still running. I have not missed a day of voting.

This week we will be celebrating America’s 242nd anniversary of the signing of the British Colonies’ Declaration of Independence from their King. This is our most sacred national holiday but it also marks the spot in human development where the governance of people was changed forever. This date marked the creation of a more perfect union but also recognized that any system is flawed over time and must be self-correcting. They designed a system of government designed to replace the Monarchy of Great Britton because that government did not adjust to changes in its citizenry. The King no longer demonstrated any consideration for an individual citizen’s rights and needs. The founders of our country, believed that they could form a better government that would care for its citizens’ well being, rights and support for the pursuit of happiness, even as times changed. Our government allowed for not only the success of individuals but also the care for our weakest citizens. In embraced the concept that the government had no business governing religion or what people believed and no religion or belief should be too influential within the government. All of the signers of the Declaration were Christian, relatively older, wealthier, educated and privileged compared to the average colonial citizen but they designed a system of governance that was intended to protect the rights of all men, except slaves. Many of them were slave owners. This economic and human abomination has stained our “more perfect” union from its very birth. It has skewed every greatness this country has achieved because of its lingering affects. Our country has become more tolerant and has attempted to level the playing field for all of its citizens black or white. But this struggle has disclosed some of our most basis gaps in character. My generation wanted to end all discrimination. We marched for it. We voted for it. But we also resisted it and found some of the changes resulting from greater equality frightening and fearful. As we age, our minds became more brittle and less open to differences, yet individual freedom and opportunities for those left behind 242 years ago continued to spread in spite of fear these changes caused some. Since the 1980s, we have grown more monetary focused and allowed our government to be corrupted by financial resources never intended by the founding fathers. This Independence Day I propose that we, each of us, pause and consider the freedom we were afforded so many years ago. We need to recognize as our parents did when McCarthy’s “Red Scare” tried to rule with fear and intimidation . We should use all of our powers granted to us by those founding fathers, to correct the glaring disparity between our country’s current policies and the character of the people being governed. We must hold ourselves accountable to reject the racist and hate based principles embedded in this new “Us and Them based Nationalism”. We should celebrate our country’s successes and remember our nation’s failures clearly. Democracy as our forefathers designed it, is not easy. As citizens we must learn and force our government to change, to support those true and inclusive American principles that we hold dear. President Kennedy said it best and still encourages us from his grave, “And this Nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.” We, each of us, must commit to those actions needed to restore the hope so recently diminished and make our country something we can be proud of again. Happy 4th of July!!

This week I learned some stuff:

• Today is National Anisette Day !!!! Most great societies have some form Anisette liqueur. It is served world wide as an after dinner aperitif. If you are the one who fishes all of the black jelly beans out of the bag, then Anisette is your friend. I have danced with this lady more than I care to admit and have enjoyed my altered state during those moments and regretted them just as passionately the next day. By the way, there is no licorice in anisette nor is anisette included in the recipe for licorice. So there!
• My health insurance pays to have a nurse practitioner visit me in my home to verify my meds, check my feet for sores, and suggest immunizations. The visit takes about 15 minutes. Not only is this free to me, but I get a $15 Target gift card for going along with it.
• I finished reading the last Harry Potter book. It was always one of my favorites but reading it now after seeing the movies made it even more enjoyable. The scenes after Harry is “killed” by Voldemort are every so much richer in the book than in the movie. I suspect many of you are tired of hearing about my return to these stories. I am glad I had the chance to re-read them once again.

Website Update:
• LastWeek for the New Vocabulary Quiz!!!
• Week 2 of the New “UJT Music Trivia Quiz” !!!
• Added some new recipes this week – Beer Batter Fish; Country Style Pork Ribs; Grandma Mary Ann’s Mac Salad and 4th of July Baked Beans …. Yum!

Writing, Ceramics and Painting Update:
• I blew off pastel class this week.. I really am not sure why. My tortuous watercolor of the String of Pearls plant continues to torture.

• A man from Arizona backed into the front of my car in the CVS parking lot and did about $3000 worth of damage on June 9th. I called my insurance on June 10th and began to live out a USAA commercial. The addressed me as PO2 McCann and they asked if everyone was ok. Then we began a rather complicated adventure involving the driver’s insurance, his wife’s insurance and the fact that they had mutually excluded each other from their policies. My USAA people walked me all the way through it and got my car fixed (the repair shop send daily Percentage of Completion updates) and got me a rental car while it was being fixed. I got my car back last week and she is as pretty as ever and I did not have to pay for any of it. How weird is that??? USAA Rocks!
• Do you have a ritual? Perhaps more than one even. I never thought of myself as one those who had rituals, like always wearing a lucky fishing hat or a certain way of doing things that if those things are done differently, it feels out of sorts. I am not sure this generic description is very helpful so let me tell you about the two rituals that I am aware of for me. The first is that I have a ritual for preparing a cigar for smoking. It has three precise steps. I learned this ritual from a retired Playboy photographer 2 days before I joined the US Navy. As I don’t smoke a cigar without doing my ritual, so I have no idea whether it affects the smoke or not. But hey, the guy was a retired Playboy photographer!!! I have actually had a total stranger comment on my ritual. They found it interesting and intriguing I think. My second ritual, that I just realized I had, is the way I go to sleep. I sleep on my right side which for me is facing away from the center of the bed. My ritual is how I get to sleep. It seems to me that I always start out laying in the way I sleep but before I can go to sleep i have to roll over and face the center of the bed for some period of time before I return to my right side position again and I finally fall asleep in. On bad nights, I may repeat the ritual several times before finally going to sleep. I have no idea why I do this nor how it started.
• I used to enjoy concerts, fireworks displays, county fairs and other gatherings of humans in celebration but I really don’t want to do that kind of thing very much any more. I dislike the traffic, hassles and find myself uncomfortable in crowds. To be brutal and completely honest about it, I am afraid to stupidity and ignorance. My perception is that our world has gotten so polarized and there is so much fear of “different”, that in any given gathering of large numbers of people, that fear can cause damage, even tragedy. Acts considered incomprehensible, such as random shootings of strangers or even kids or bombings .. have become the new normal. So I work pretty hard to make sure my interactions with large numbers of my fellow Americans is limited to small groups for small durations. As a child of the age of Woodstock, I find that truly sad.

Music Update:
As always, I try to find something to make the UJT Radio mix work for everyone.

Go to this week’s UJT Radio program.
• Barcelona — Response — This indie band from Seattle, Washington, channels their inner Cold Play on this son from their their first album, “Absolutes” released in 2007.
• Unknown — Reality Has Caught Up With Me — Its been a couple years since I featured this one on UJT Radio. I never have found out the name of the haunting voice singing.
• Kings of Leon — Use Somebody — Another song that I featured on UJT back in 2016 made it’s way into this week’s playlist. This is just a great song for me! I hope you enjoy it too. It comes from their 2008 release, “Only By Night”.
• Lucius — My Heart Got Caught On His Sleeve — This is a fine example of ladies in harmony! This one comes from their “Good Grief(Deluxe) album released in 2016.
• Ten Years After — I Am Going Home (Live) — I think most of America got introduced to Alvin Lee and Ten Years After watching their performance on Woodstock the Movie. But I had seen them perform in Miami almost a year before. Their mix of hard rock and deep blues had us all sweating and smiling. So much energy!!! I thought their drummer was going to die!
• Prince — I Want to be Your Lover — This is another fine example of why his was such a unique talent. Musically always swimming upstream to his own place. This one comes from his 1979 second album, “Prince”.
• Steely Dan — Josie — This is one of my favorites!!! Josie comes home to us in their 1977 release, “Aja”. I loved this record so much I wanted to use Aja our daughter ’s middle name when she was born but my wife got to choose for our second child. Sean was able to keep Marshall for his middle name (same as Jimi Hendrix!).
• Derek and the Dominios — Key to the Highway — This cover of the 1940s blues standard was given to us on their 1970 landmark album. “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs”. Sam the Sham was recording the song in Miami’s Criteria Music studio next door to where Eric, Duane and the band were recording “Layla” and the boys just broke out into this jam. Tom Dowd, their producer heard them and told the engineer, “hit the goddamn machine!!!” That is why the 9:40 minute recording starts as kind of a fade into a song already started. It took him a minute to get back to the booth. Some fine music is playin, y’all!

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