September 3rd, 2020

“Ungil Tutau”, or “Good Morning!” n Palauan, an Austronesian language spoken in Palau, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. It is Day 168 of the California Lock Down. Governor Newsom is trying to walk that fine line between safety and solvency for many of our small business and unemployed. I do not envy his position.

This week a talented young black man lost his battle with colon cancer, Chadwick Boseman was 43 years old. He was a gifted actor who played iconic roles throughout his short career. RIP Chadwick.

This week I learned some stuff:
• I learned what it is like to be a government employee using half-ass lowest priced bidder software to do my job. Lets just say that the Census Bureau contractor that came up with this solution set did not over-test their application, integration or implementation. We will prevail with an appropriate amount of grumbling.
• The Great Left Coast Poker, Smoke and Lies Society met for the first time since the pandemic started. The GLCP&L has lost its game venue. It folded under the economic strain of the lockdown. So we met at another location to manage some business issues and spend a little while with each other. It was great! I have missed my time with my goombas much more than even I recognized. Anyway, we worked out our “return to normal” transition plan. I am not sure exactly when we will start but we have worked out how we will do it and remain safe utilizing an outdoor venue, social distancing, at least so the degree to try it
• September 3rd is the 247th day of the year (because 2020 is a leap year – but there still only 113 days till Christmas!). Today in 1777, the American flag was flown in battle for the first time; Future abolitionist, Frederick Douglas escaped from slavery today in 1838; On this day in 1944, giarist Anne Frank and her family are placed on the last transport train from the Westerbork transit camp to the Auschwitz concentration camp, arriving three days later; In 1976, the Viking 2 spacecraft lands at Utopia Planitia on Mars; On this day in 2017, North Korea conducts its sixth and most powerful nuclear test; In 1910, Kitty Carlisle, American actress, singer, socialite, and game show panelist was born; In 1914, Dixy Lee Ray, American biologist and politician, 17th Governor of Washington was born; Whitey Bulger, American organized crime boss was born today in 1929; My favorite Sopranos Goomba (now on Blue Bloods) Steve Schirripa, American actor and producer was born today in 1957; Charlie Sheen, American actor and producer was born today in 1965; Shaun White, American snowboarder, skateboarder, and guitarist was born today in 1986; E. E. Cummings, American prolific poet, artist, author and playwright passed away today in 1996; And finally, 50% of Steely Dan, Walter Becker, American musician, songwriter, and record producer passed away today in 2017.

Website Update:
This week we made the following changes:
• Last week for our “New” Vocabulary Quiz
• A “New” UJT Musical Trivia Quiz! Woooo Whooo!!!
• I came up with a new salad this week – Cannelloni Bean and Avocado Salad.

Writing, Ceramics and Painting Update:
• This week I managed to attend one Zoom Art Class with is actually more like a coffee club these days.
• Grandpa Stories is still not re-published.

• I have never been a fan of “flavored” news. The blatant interpretation of events and statements with all elements inflated or diminished based upon that particular political agenda. I am an equal opportunity hater of this phenomena. It reminds me of “Cats Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut where one protagonist creates a religion for the other one to outlaw, therefor perpetuating a self justification for both with the perpetrators enjoying the benefits. It is for this reason, I condemn Rachel Maddow as much as Sean Hannity and their respective ilk because without one we probably wouldn’t have the other and because their activities cause the public to question the validity of public information. People are often very smart but “public” has a lot in common with water buffalos. When they hear “news” that is contrary to their beliefs or feeds their outrage or inspires real distrust, they don’t check its validity. They just react and reenforce their positions. They only listen to each other for the purposes of responding, not understanding. These non-stop spewers of “flavored” information profit from the public’s fear and distrust. They literally feed on our anxiety about change, religion and “freedoms”. They do us a disservice and seem to proliferate like fake news locusts. I do my civic duty and choose not to be part of the “public” when it comes to flavored news – I don’t listen to any of them.
I no longer watch the regular news or read newspapers. The news I do get is generic, sporadic and usually just raises my blood pressure and reenforces my active avoidance.
About a year ago, I heard about this CNN Newsletter published each Saturday that captures just “good” news stories each week. CNN’s “The Good Stuff” newsletter has never disappointed. Every Saturday, I learn about some good things that happened the previous week that I did not know about. This week I learned about a Happiness Museum that opened in Copenhagen this summer. The museum was founded by the Happiness Research Institute. This institute is studying why some societies appear to be happier than others with “with the end goal of encouraging global policymakers to include wellbeing as an integral part of the public policy debate”. I was dumbfounded when I absorbed this rather fundamentally obvious train of thought and the aims of their research. It has bugged me for a long time that we invest so little in positive pursuits and over invest in capabilities that have historically provided horrific consequences! Our world has never been in better shape economically. Technological breakthroughs are almost daily occurrences. Yet our cost to the environment keeps growing, social discord continues to increase in frequency and severity and mental health problems are becoming an epidemic. I am ashamed to say that I have been so lost in my particular rat race that I didn’t even consider these disparities fairly. Our traditional economic metrics are not able to really tell the story. This concept of the actual Pursuit of Happiness has lead me down a whole new avenue of thought and consideration. In just a few minutes and clicks I learned of a lot of activity surrounding the pursuit of Happiness and Wellbeing. I found this information fascinating and inspirational. I encourage you to do what I am doing: 1) Find out what is going on to promote happiness/wellbeing in our world; 2) Find out how our personal space relates to what the possibilities are from others experiences and learning; 3) Find ways to infiltrate these wellness values and measurements into our infrastructure and public policies. The last link below introduces a new metric toolset to assist us in policy decision making missing from our thinking today. Give it some thought. Think about it. Pick a perspective and I hope you will find the imbalance intolerable – Tax dollars – What percentage of our money is used to support happiness and well being as opposed to the governmental funding of capabilities to harm, restrict or incarcerate? I don’t know either because we don’t even ask our government to tell us the answer. Here are some resources to support your thinking:

CNN Travel: “Happiness Museum looks at brighter feelings in uncertain times”
The Museum Of Happiness London, UK (be sure and watch the video)
The Happiness Museum Copenhagen, Denmark
Our World In Data: Happiness and Life Satisfaction
Wellbeing Adjusted Life Years: A universal metric to quantify the happiness return on investment by the Happiness Research Institute

Music Update:

Once again, your fossilized DJ takes you on 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:
• Pink Floyd — The Great Gig in the Sky — This is one my favorite songs from one of my favorite albums from one of my favorite bands! The female vocalist on this song was a friend of Alan Parsons who was just a lowly engineer on the record but Clare Torry. The first time I heard this song I was just mesmerized. “Dark Side of the Moon” was released in 1973.
• U2 – Angel of Harlem – This is tribute to the beautiful, soulful and tragic life of Billie Holliday. She died of cirrhosis, penniless and under arrest at the age of 44.
• David Pack and Steve Perry — A Brand New Start — This is a beautiful collaboration by these two gifted musicians. I love the harmonies!! This comes from David’s “Secret of Moving On” released in 2006.
• Grover Washington, Jr. — Just the Two of Us — I am not sure where I hooked up with this tune ..seems like its just been somewhere in my soundtrack for a long long time. I LOVE the sax in this song!! This comes from his 1980 release, “Winelight”.
• Guns N’ Roses — Sweet Child O’Mine — This is probably my favorite GNR song. There is something compelling for me in this one. This one comes from their debut album, “Appetite for Destruction” released in 1987.
• Harry Chapin — Taxi — Its been a long time since I heard this one. It still gives me a little lump in my throat. This comes from his “Heads & Tales” album released in 1972.

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!