September 5th, 2019

“Maayong Buntag” or “Good Morning!!!” in Cebuano as spoken in Northern Mindanao.

This week I took stock in our our accumulation and the impact of our pets. We now have a single dog (Georgie), a cat (Tommy), a salt water fish tank (various), a freshwater tank for our Betta fish and Frog (Julio and Bob, respectively) and finally a pond full of Koi fish. Every day these creatures must be fed, watered and looked after. It’s a good thing that every day they will bring us joy and wonder. If you think about it, this human-pet arrangement defies most of the laws of nature. Humans are the top of the food chain according the species that writes stuff down. That means every other resource on the planet is available to be consumed or used in the consumption of stuff for humans. Yet we have these creatures that endear themselves to such a point that humans spend billions of dollars each year nurturing, feeding, medicating or burying them. We cry when they are hurt, take real joy and pleasure from their company, get angry at times when they misbehave and celebrate their births as we do our own. On their part, they listen to us patiently, forgive us when he stumble over them or hurt them in some other way. They help us in ways that cannot be measured. I surrender to my inclusion of these beasties in my life as family members. I wonder what it would be like if I didn’t always have to fill in their part of the conversation 🙂

This week I learned some stuff:
• September is National Suicide Prevention Month. I have always thought that suicide a most thoughtless act. I cannot imagine the pain and horror one must be in to consider inflicting such pain on their loved ones. According to the most recent CDC data suicide rates are on the rise across the entire U.S. population. Veterans represent a significant portion of that terrible fact. I won’t dazzle you with my ability to Google stats. Let me just say, “It’s not pretty!”. Suicide is preventable! The VA has reacted to this crisis by increasing its prevention programs and resources available to support veterans in crisis. I encourage everyone to take the time to visit the VA Suicide Prevention page and learn what you might do to help.
• September 5th is the birthdate for American comedian, Bob Newhart. To me Bob is a hero! I think if him in much the same way as I think of Bob Ross, the painter/instructor on PBS. Bob’s deadpan humor made me laugh and smile for most of my life. I think Bob was the first one who made being mild mannered funny. Looking at other greats, I can see Bob’s influences in some of Tim Conway’s and Robin Williams bits. Born in 1929, Bob is still rocking it out and he turns 90 this week. Happy Birthday Bob!
• I found another book by Stephen King’s son, who writes under the name of Joe Hill. This one, “The Fireman” is wonderfully creepy and just real enough to scare the bejusus out of you. I enjoy his stories and his writing a great deal. This apple did not fall far from the tree! Check him out.

Website Update:
• Last week for our “New” Vocabulary Quiz!
• Week two for the Music Trivia Quiz. Check out how much you remember or knew about Woodstock.
• This week I add some recipes – Sweet and Sour Pork Chops, Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs, Creamy Tomato Cucumber Salad and Solanaceae Crack (Potatoes). I tried my first Tangine reciepe, a Shrimp and Vegetable Tangine, in my brandy-new sexy red and white Tangine but frankly the results were nothing very notable. I will keep working on it .. if I ever produce something worthy of the UJT audience, I will add it to the website.

Writing, Ceramics and Painting Update:
• I worked on some more of Chis Spain’s amazing pictures. His photos are always so beautiful, it is hard for me to be happy with my attempts to do them in watercolor. But then again, I cannot help but try. The new school schedule started this week! It is good to see my classmates after a long summer.
• Grandpa Stories is still not re-published.

• Death. The old adage that “No One Gets Out Alive” resonates with me. Members of my family and many of my heroes have now passed on, yet gratefully and happily, I remain. I seem to think about my death often these days. When I was younger, I was going to live for ever and never gave my passing a thought. Now that I am of “a certain age”, I realize almost any illness that I just sloughed-off as a younger man, might just be the one who does me in. I am not trying to be morose or depressing. I have had an absolutely amazing run. Having said that, I am not looking forward to it ending very much. As a practicing non-religious person, I guess I am preparing for my final act in this play perhaps differently than the more devout. That’s ok. Our differences matter much less that we think they do. In the end we all enter and exit this stage in much the same way no matter what we believe or don’t. All of our hearts just stop beating and our laughter fades out. I like laughter a lot, I will miss it.

Music Update:

Once again this week, I have created a very nice collection of song samples that I think celebrate life in a grand way!

Go to this week’s UJT Radio program.
• Jude Cole — Right There Now(Album Version) — I haven’t heard this guy play a song I haven’t liked. I really think he is a great songwriter and artist. I hope you do too. This one is from his, “Start the Car” album released in 2005.
• Crosby Still, Nash and Young — Find the Cost of Freedom — I remember we bought this album the day it came out in Miami and sat around smoking joints and celebrating being young, alive and repressed. Kent State had happened in April of 1970, this album was recorded in several locations starting the summer of 1970 and was released in April of 1971. This song always made me cry thinking of those four college kids shot down by other kids lead by idiots. This song short, acoustic and absolutely perfect for the time.
• Extreme — Get the Funk Out – This head banger cut from Extreme II will not be everyone’s cup of tea but the musicianship of this music in my mind transcends genres, Nuno Benttencourt, the lead guitarist and primary song writer for this band out of Boston, is just amazing to me.
• Dave Clark Five — Because — A great flash back tune to when I was more worried about pimples, dancing well and for the first time, what clothes I was wearing. In 1964, when this became a big hit, I was discovering girls, looking cool, smoking cigarettes and drinking the mixtures of sweet booze my friends swiped from their parents liquor cabinets. Do you remember what you were feeling in1964?
• The Doobie Brothers – It Keeps You Running — From the Vinyl !!!! This came out on the first album the band released after Micheal McDonald, “Taking it to the Streets” released in 1976. His keyboards and amazing voice and songwriting added a whole new dimension to what the Doobies were doing. We were living in Hawaii and already die hard Doobie Bros fans but this album took it to another level.
• Bruce Hornsby — See the Same Way — This is a great tune from his, “Spirit Trail” release in 1998. Bruce has just been making great music for a long long time.
• Matchbox Twenty — How Far We’ve Come — Another great song from their 2007 release, “Exile on Mainstream”. I love music that makes me think.

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!