December 13, 2018

“ Mbote!!” Wishing you a “Good Morning” in Lingala, a Bantu language spoken mainly in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and in the Republic of Congo.

We had some more more rain in San Diego this week!!! I even heard thunder this time! WhooHoo! We are quivering at the edge of winter … buurrrrrr!

George Herbert Walker Bush has left the building. George and I never did see eye to eye on most things political or economic but I admire the man. His love for Barbara and family was an impressive force that was there for all to see. His love of laughter was almost as deep. He always did his very best as he understood it. We can never ask any more of anyone. He was a patriot, sailor and a gentleman. He will enjoy my never ending respect even in disagreement. RIP dear George, you did good as best you could!

It seems to me that there are just 3 kinds of men in the world – those who shave with a handheld manual razor and blade, those that use some sort of electrically motorized device and those that grow beards. I began as a hand held guy. First razor I used to shave off the gathering peach fuzz was called a “Gillette Safety Razor”. For me at least, the good folks at Gillette spent a lot more time perfecting the razor part than the safety part. It was a bloody business. Between my clumsy methods and the decapitation of the many many pimples I seemed to get at the same moment, my early shaving could have been mistaken for a knife fight or a suicide attempt. I often spent more time dabbing little wads of toilet paper to stem the steady flow of my wounds and cleaning the sink, than I did shaving.

Eventually, and several quarts of blood later, I got pretty good at it. The 14 or so real hairs on my chin came off quickly without blood shed. By the time I joined the Navy, I thought I was an ace shaver (this was before we knew the correct term was, “Razor Jedi”). I had such confidence that by the time my old tin can pulled into Antalya, Turkey, I thought I was ready for the big leagues – a straight razor. I would like to tell you that the dumbest thing I ever did was to shave with a straight razor while the Vogie was pitching port to starboard or stern to forecastle but that would not be true. Even under those conditions I managed not to cut my head off, much to the surprise of many of my shipmates who witnessed my stupidity. I think there were some bets placed but not sure. Keeping the fine turkish blade sharp proved to be a practice that I could not discipline myself to reliably, so I went back to shaving the old fashioned way. But with a new kind of razor.

A disposable razor allowed shaving without worrying about what to do with the Gillette’s blade when it got dull. I remember seeing slots in bathroom walls where presumably you put the old blades creating a wounding and bio hazard for who ever decided to tear down the building in the future. With the new plastic disposable, you just put the plastic cap back to cover the blade and toss the whole thing in the trash. Eventually, these disposables had “blades” – first two, three and so on till I think they have 6 blades on these guys now.

Somewhere in there for a birthday or Christmas or something, I got my first electric shaver. It weighed about a pound and came with this black curly chord. That chord was not quite long enough and extremely successful in getting in your way at some point during every shave. This shaver pinched and burned your skin as it ripped the hairs from you face. My first electric razor followed the dull disposables, into the trash.

I was a disposable razor guy for a number of years, delighting in the addition of blades (though to be honest I didn’t notice any real improvement over the single bladed ones). I made the transition from entirely disposable razors to just disposable heads. Then another Christmas came and I was presented with my first rotary electric shaver that was rechargeable. No chord that got in the way and a really nice and painless shave. It was great because by then I was needing to shave every morning and sometimes twice if I wanted to look good at night.

I also tried being a beard guy a couple of times but it never really worked for me. I did have a mustache for many years. The mustache went away when it turned grey and silver about 3 years before my dark head hair followed suit. Having a grey mustache and dark hair in the time when every other TV ad was for “Grecian Hair Formula” seemed inadvisable. Now that every hair on me grey or silver, growing a mustache and/or beard just makes me look older. So I keep my face smooth and hair short. In 1970, when I got to boot camp, the Navy shaved all my hair off. I would have bet the farm then that I would never never have a smooth face and short hair again. Huh!

This week I learned some stuff:

• December 23rd is NATIONAL COCOA DAY!! A cold December day is the perfect time to make yourself a cup of hot cocoa. Each year on December 13, people across the country celebrate their favorite cold weather comfort drink (well, I like Glühwein too!).
• My goal is to do all of my Christmas presents shopping from my chair this year. I think I have a good shot at it this year. Most of he online places offer direct shipping but I also discovered I ordered the Priority Mail, flat rate, free boxes/envelopes, purchased the postage and scheduled a pickup for all my packages. AND it was cheaper. Its a good method if you aren’t doing last minute shipping, packages over 70lbs or bigger than their flat rate boxes can hold.

Website Update:

• Last week for the “New” Vocabulary Quiz.
• 2nd week for the UJT Music Trivia Quiz!!!

Writing, Ceramics and Painting Update:
• My ceramic box, did not turn out as blue as I expected from the glaze I chose but still is pretty cool (once, I figured out how to remove the lid that was stuck by melting glaze).
• I have decided to continue to publicly embarrass myself by posting the lack of progress I have made on getting Grandpa Stories re-published, until it is done.
• I did some painting and writing this week. Inspired by some very positive feedback from my Writers Workshop group about my poem, “On Being Wrong”, I managed to write four more poems this week and will present them at the next workshop. Last week one of my Writers Workshop participants shared a really lovely mermaid story that she wrote for her niece. She told us that the little girl is dying of Leukemia and this will probably be her last Christmas. The lady told us that her family are all creating something about mermaids to send the the little girl next week. The group decided that we all take a writing assignment about Mermaids. I did mine this weekend. Little kids dying of incurable diseases is about the most terrible thing to contemplate.


• Been thinking. Always a dangerous proposition for the ill-equipped! I am not convinced the great technological advances that now seem indispensable are really helping as much as they might. I mean the manufacturers of the iPhone can tell us how to use it and what it can do technically but they can’t tell us very much about how best to integrate into this thing we call human life. Facebook has all these incredible connections between people but has it helped us be better friends or parents or people. I find myself angry, sad and proud sometimes when I read the posts, really moved. Seldom do I act on that information beyond,”Liking” or “Sharing” or posting an emoji. That information that might have taken months or years to get to me a century ago but would I have just commented on it or shared in my community or actually changed something in my life or the lives of others? We cannot know but we can wonder. I just wonder if we no longer wonder enough like we used to when we were waiting for information.
• I finished, “The Shack” this week. It was a singular experience for me. As most of you know, I am not a religious person. This book put that into perspective for me. I forget which character said it but the jest of the message was that almost everything horrible through the history of man was motivated by the “terrible trinity” – Religion, Politics and Economics. I have felt this way for as long as I can remember. Though I am not religious, I am spiritual. That is I believe in the goodness of the universe as something bigger than myself or any other. In discussions about this book, I found out that my children avoided the subject of religion or belief when I was around because they felt I was intolerant of others’ beliefs. I have tried to explain most of my passionate distain for “things religious” comes from my distain for the people who practice, “My church’s way is correct and all others are wrong and going to hell.” That absolute lack of inclusiveness has always been repugnant to me. This tenant is almost all organized religions seems, to me, the work of a systematic manipulation of people. And it creates many, if not most, of the divisions we find amongst humanity. It also splinters off into politics and economics as we see almost daily in our current history. This book comes much closer to describing my view of mankind. It is not an easy book to read (or listen to) and I cannot imagine it as a movie. I wept during my reading of this book more often than I have ever experienced before. I suspect many will find this book horrible in its seeming refutation of “organized” religion and the manmade terms and conditions embedded in them. I suspect that you will have a hard time with this book if you are fully vested in any of the major religions. If you can consider the possibility that maybe all of us are united, independent of our religious practices, by the true intent of truth, love, forgiveness and complete inclusiveness needed to make this place, heaven on earth, you will find joy in reading this novel.

Music Update:
Here is another musical smorgasbord for you to feast upon. I know that not every dish will be your favorite but I hope you will sample it all. Go to this week’s UJT Radio program.

• Little Feat — All That You Dream — this one comes from their great live album, “Waiting for Columbus” that was released in 1978.
• Steely Dan — Peg — Aja is one of my favorite SD albums and this one is a deep cut from that wonderful box of jazzy chocolates!
• Bonnie Raitt — Thing Called Love — A big hit from her “Nick of Time” album. The video featured Dennis Quade, just busting out with cuteness:) I just love her style.
• Sarah McLachlan – Building a Mystery — Beautiful voice and great song writing! This one comes from her 1997 released “Surfacing”.
• Bruce Cockburn — Lovers in a Dangerous Time — This guy has just captured me as a fan. His songwriting is so strong. He has an interesting mind. This one is from 2007 release, “Anythng, Anytime, Anywhere”.
• One Tribe — One Tribe — Rap music is not my strong suit but this poem is so compelling the format doesn’t distract me. This comes from, “Songs for Japan” released in 2011. …”One Tribe, y’all”
• Joni Mitchell — People’s Parties — From the Vinyl !!! This one comes from her live album with Tom Scott and the LA Express backing her up, “ Miles of Aisles ” released in 1974.
• Asia — Only Time Will Tell — This band just blew us away in 1982 when their debut album was released, “Asia”. Huge sound rolled out from the stage when I saw them.

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!


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