September 12th, 2019

“Mi li’ote” or “Good Morning!!!” in Tsotsil, a Mayan language spoken in the Mexican state of Chiapas..

This week, eighteen years ago, I was just leaving my home for work, when my son called me and told me about the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center. The horror of that moment and those the followed changed us forever. Someone had attacked America on its shores. Unlike the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, these attackers had civilian targets and used American assets to carry out their evil acts. The fear, hatred and bigotry inspired by those acts has continued and grown since that terrible day. From the point of view of our attackers, 9/11/01 was a tremendous success. Some would say, that horrific response or something like it was enviable. American policies and international behavior has been tormenting discontent and hatred abroad for many years. Our reliance on brute force both military and economic has created a generation of resentment, especially in some of the poorer parts of the world who possess raw materials America desires. I hate what happened to the world on 09/11/2001. But I am appalled, at how little we have done to eliminate the root causes. So far as I know, we have invested in demonizing “Them and their religious beliefs” as justification for our actions. We are beating at the flames at the edge with our excursions into Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and trying to improve the fire breaks back home without doing anything to extinguish the heat source fueling the conflagration. I am a firm believer in American ingenuity and awed by our country’s accomplishments once we set positive, valuable goals – going to the moon, overcoming terrible diseases and the like. I am not aware of any meaningful effort to eliminate the root causes for the world wide resentment and discontent with America. What is even more frightening is that I haven’t seen anyone in American leadership interested in such an effort. Can you think of any significant action America has taken to address the root causes inspiring these horrible acts since 09/11/2001? Should military superiority the only tool in our kit?

It seems like a decade ago, I had achieved true Jabba the Hut like proportions and decided that enough was enough. I went to the doctor and established a baseline to loose weight. My first primary objective was to loose enough weight to start walking again. I had stopped walking sometime before when my daily or semi-daily or weekly walk became a painful sort of waddle. Last week I achieved that goal. I had lost 59lbs since seeing my JTH baseline. So I started walking. I am walking 2 miles a day. I am not setting any land speed records but I am doing the deed. That is the good news. The bad news is for what ever reason, I have managed to add a few pounds since I started walking. I suspect that this will start to change rather quickly once I adapt my schedule to walk every day and go to the fitness center once a week. So it can be done, if you decided to do it.

This week I learned some stuff:
• Last week I mentioned it was National Suicide Prevention month. My focus was on Veteran Suicide. I wanted to elevate the discussion and awareness of this terrible part of American life. My focus on the Veteran population was not intended to diminish or over look the other segments of our population facing these terrible choices each day. Suicide is up among veterans but any suicide is a horrible loss.
• September 12th the 255th day of the year (only 104 days till Christmas!) and is a busy day in history. In 1953, JFK married Jaqueline Bouvier; in1962, JFK delivers his, “We choose the Moon” speech setting that goal for the American Space program; 1988 Hurricane Gilbert devastates Jamaica; 1980 Yao Ming, Chinese basket ball player is born and finally, on September 12, 1993, we lost Raymond Burr, AKA Perry Mason.

Website Update:
• Woohoo!! We have a New Vocabulary Quiz!
• Last week for the Music Trivia Quiz.
• This week I add some recipes – A really easy, fast and tasty Italian Sausage Broil for dinner and a Creamy Chicken Fajita Sloppy Joe recipe that everyone around here liked a lot.

Writing, Ceramics and Painting Update:
• It is good getting back to school. I didn’t do much with my ceramics but continued to try to do justice to Chris Spain’s photos.
• Grandpa Stories is still not re-published.

• For me the key to a good nights rest or even a really “all-your-might” nap is getting to the dream state as quickly as possible. To do that, I get comfy, slow my breathing to long deep breaths with long deep exhales and let my mind kind of float down a river like a leaf in the current until a new dream narrative takes over. In a way, I start dreaming before I am asleep. Any time I go to sleep this way, I completely enjoy the experience. I dream of images I want to paint, chores I need to do around the house and yard and even things I might want to cook in the next few days. Sometimes I think of poetic explanations for the incredible good fortune I have enjoyed during my life .. such as dreaming before I sleep. Good Night!

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.
• The Hollies — Bus Stop — Before CNS&Y became famous there was the The Hollies, Buffalo Springfield and the Byrds. This was my introduction to Graham Nash and the Hollies. I was an old guy before I truly understood just how pivotal The Hollies were in my world of music. This song is written by a 19 year old Manchester song writer who had already written 3 hits for the Yardbirds when he wrote this one. Graham Gouldman later went on to co-found 10cc and write their huge hit, “I Am Not In Love”. After this song was released, in 1965, Hollies member Graham Nash, Allan Clarke and Tony Hicks formed their own music publishing company to handle their own songs and one Reg Dwight, who played piano and organ on Hollies songs in 1969 and 1970 before striking out on his own. Reg Dwight (aka Elton John) did pretty good for himself too.
• Hootie and the Blowfish — Let Her Cry — I just fell in love with this band when this song came out. If you have ever had to helpless watch someone go through a terribly self-destructive time, the feeling is indescribably excruciating but these boys do it about as good as anyone could. This one comes from their 1994 release, “Cracked Rear View”.
• • Louisiana LaRoux & Tab Benoit — Midnight and Lonesome — This one comes from their 2007 release called, “Power of the Pontchartrain”. Another Cajun blues song that you either feel or you don’t. I feel it deep inside..
• Jackson Brown — Leaving Winslow — A deep cut from his latest, “Standing in the Breach” released in 2014. This one reminds me of some of the early “country twang” songs he wrote for the Eagles.
• Eagle-Eye Cherry/Santana – Wishing It Was — This is just one of the tremendous songs from Santana’s “Supernatural”, released in 1999. This one has such a sweet jazzy thing going on and is just so tight it makes me smile.
• Kansas — Point of No Return — This version of the iconic hit comes from their 1984, “Greatest Hits” but the original song was released and was a huge hit for in 1977. This was one those songs you just cranked up every time it came on the radio or you slipped the tape in. Kind of like, “Who – Live at Leeds” but with a little more class.
• Spirit — Nature’s Way — This is a blast from the past with a pretty ironic message, given our seemingly endless and exponentially stronger demonstrations of “Nature’s way of telling us something’s wrong” that we are experiencing in more recent years. This one comes to us from their 1970 release, “ Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus”.

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!