October 5, 2017

“God Morgen” Staying in the northern European area again this week, this is a “good morning” that you might hear in Norway.

Happy National NATIONAL Do Something Nice Day!!! I think every day should be National Do Something Nice day but here are some ideas on how you might celebrate today:
Buying a cup of coffee for someone in line at the coffee shop
Giving a compliment to the tired clerk, police officer or serviceman or servicewoman.
Sending flowers or a card that says “just because”
Asking the neighbors over for a barbecue in the backyard
Mowing the lawn (but try not to get shot for trespassing!)
Post #NationalDoSomethingNiceDay on Social Media and see who you can infect

It just keeps coming 🙁 ! This week it was Puerto Rico and Las Vegas captured our horror and escalated the national pain to beyond reasonable thresholds. I have added links to provide direct help to those impacted by these horrible tragedies – one natural and the other man made.

Our country’s current infection of social and political ill will with its pervasive atmosphere where being “right” or “winning” is more important that being truthful isn’t limited just the media, politicians and social media tweets or posts. It also can make it harder to discuss opposing views among friends. Misunderstandings happen in the best of times, but in this time context it can feel more sinister. I learned a long time ago, that words have real power. Their truth and the regard that you hold for the speaker are all important. We must be careful not to let this current wave of paramount self indulgence, importance and self centeredness diminish our trust and honest respect for the people around us. especially when you disagree. We must resist the subliminal and not so subliminal messages we get from every quarter that people are willing to forgo truth to “win”. We must show respect in honest discourse. So be careful with your words. Remember to check the facts before you speak, tweet or post.

I visited the Senior’ Sneakers Class at my gym. God it was sad! I watched for 20 minutes and couldn’t shake the feeling of my own age and imminent demise. There were 20-25 geezers in the room mimicking the 40something year old at the front of the room. No one smiled. I know it is a good thing to do and I know it will probably help me a lot. But I could’t waddle my fat old ass into that setting. I just couldn’t. I am ok with me the anonymous sweat geezer trying to focus on the machine instructions upstairs to get the movement of my microscopic old guy reps right. It seems less demeaning to be the wheezing old guy on the bike who forgets he has earphones on and warbles the occasional lyric to a song the perfect specimens pedaling furiously next to him have never heard. But maybe next week I will try again.

Most of you know, that my wife and life’s partner is in stage 4 of COPD. We all try to deal with that fact and its side effects on our lives as best we can. But I am a flawed individual. Often that means my intensions are better than the results I sometimes achieve. So you can imagine how poorly I cope with helplessly watching her struggle for breath after descending our stairs or listening to her do this cough that echoes my mother’s who passed away from the same disease in 2009. Often the best that I can do is not to do something or react when I want to “fix” it so much. When confronted with her honest anger and fear, I sometimes fail to control my own. Sometimes I just close my eyes and remember the wonderful girl I married, the woman who raised our terrific kids. She put up with and helped me past all my demons for so many years. I never been as good or strong at helping her get past her own. I will do my best but each day I am reminded of how little that helps.

I apologize TO all those who have suffered through my incipient whining about my Phone Company HELL for the past 10 days or so. You will he happy to note that we can now send and receive phone calls!

This week I learned some stuff:
• I finished the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s, “Viet Nam” series on PBS. Even the last episode when the discussed the Wall was moving for me. If you haven’t been, you need to go to DC and see the wall and for me, the people who are seeing the Wall. Like all war and memories of war should be, it is a deep sadness that holds you so close.
• We are progressing on our family disaster plan. Doing plan reviews with everyone, our kit inventory and assembly.
• There is a terrible genetic disease out there called ALD (Adrenoleukodystrophy) that effects 1 out of 18,000, mostly boys. The tragic part of this story is by the time the parents realize something is wrong it is too late to stop the progression of the disease. Girls can get ALD but only boys get the most severe type. Those boys suffering from this type of ALD do not live past 8-10. There is a new born screening that can allow families to prevent ALD’s incurable affects before they occur. So far only 9 states have adopted this newborn screening as a standard of care. I know that my state, California has adopted this important protection. Does your state screen for ALD?

Website Update:
• I added a new recipes to both the Main Dishes and On the Side pages in Things to Eat. Yummy in my tummy!
• Last week for the New Vocabulary Quiz!!!
• This week I also added the lyrics for “Golden Lady” from Stevie Wonder. Enjoy!

Writing and Painting Update:
• I got to my writers workshop and enjoyed it immensely. One of my fellow participants turned 97 this past week. The same day as his 67 year old son passed away. To be honest. I think he is living the only life that a parent can outlive a child and still be happy. You raised a boy who you got to love, watch grow, have his only family and the finally pass as we all must do. I am sorry but as sad as that is, it must be as good as it can get. I know I rejoice in the successful lives of my kids every day.
• I wrote another chapter in Artifacts this week.
• I started a new pastel project for class.

• After the horrific events that took place in Las Vegas, last week, I received an email from my local PBS station asking for my comments on the event and how it affected me. I responded. I was shocked when I received a call from a reporter wanting to record my responses for her Midday Edition news program. It was a very interesting and kind of a surreal experience to hear your own voice on the radio. Here is the link if you are interested.
• Several years ago, figured out that it was possible given both IOS and Android GPS capabilities to eliminate the phone related driving distractions that were killing so many, especially young people, on our roads. I did everything I could think of to get the world done. I wrote my political “representatives”. I wrote to Apple and Google explaining the concept and asking that their operating systems be updated to detect when the phones were moving and shut off incoming texts and emails. My state representatives response was to pass very expensive traffic violations fines. I heard nothing from the phone manufacturers. Until now. My iPhone just got an update that allows me to set it to automatically detect when I am moving and notifies the sender that I don’t take calls, texts or emails while driving!! I think this change will save thousands of lives and the only thing that feels weird is how long it took to get done. I mean my nike app knows when I stop walking and tells me so why did it take years after that to get this completely common sense solution in place. What was more important? Camera tweaks?

Music Update:
Click here for week’s UJT Radio program:
• Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers — Running Down a Dream — I was going to put a Traveling Wilbury’s song up but it wouldn’t work. So I chose this very cool replacement. Charlie T Wilbury Jr. left us a lot to smile about as he head to the end of the line. “Its aaalllllright….As long as you got someone to play with…”
• Tom Petty — Its Good to be King — This one is from his solo effort, “Wallflowers”. I chose it because it is such a completely “Tom” song. RIP, old friend.
• Styx — Too Much Time On My Hands — I got the ‘damn fool” part down:) This version is from their Greatest Hits album.
• Stevie Wonder — Golden Lady — From the Vinyl!!! This is a deeper cut from his iconic, “Innervisions” record.
• The Byrds — Turn, Turn, Turn (To Everything There is a Season) — One of my all time favorite songs from The Byrds. This one really made them stand out for me.
• James Taylor — Memphis — James covers this old Johnny Rivers standard about as best as could be. This one also allows brother James to show off his magnificent chops on guitar a little bit. Just tight and nice for your heart and ears, bound to just make you smile or so I hope.
• Jude Cole — Heart of Blues — I think Jude is channeling his inner Blind Melon Chitlin on this tune. It really seems like this song shouldn’t work for him but it just does. I hope you like it. Man! I hope someday he goes back into the studio and gives us more Jude Cole music. Though short of that, his work as producer for Lifehouse has been pretty spectacular.
• Crosby Stills, Nash & Young — Teach Your Children — More Hippy Marching Music from 1969:) First, appearing on CSN&Y’s Deja Vu album with Jerry Garcia playing pedal steel. Jerry didn’t know how to play the steel guitar when they asked him to do it. So he kind of taught himself and pieced an arrangement and it works. I still can’t help but sing along when I hear this one.

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