December 17th, 2020

“Добро утро (Dobro utro)>”, or “Good Morning!” in Bulgarian, a South Slavic language spoken mainly in Bulgaria. . It is Day 273 since the first California Lock Down. We are back under a “stay at home order” again. There are 33 days more days of national shame to endure (Inauguration Day!).

This week we are all ramping up for the holidays. Last minute shopping, final package shipments are sent and we start to fill the larder for the upcoming Christmas feast. Unfortunately and hopefully, not many of us will be able to gather together in big extended family celebrations but I am sure the holidays will be festive anyway.

I finished my Santas Workshop project and thought they provide an excellent example of terrible glass cutting, foiling, the use of lead came and soldering, I think the covey the message intended and I hope they make some people smile.

This week I learned some stuff:
• I have to give a shout out to the good old USPS today. Their Click and Ship Priority Mail stuff is great! You order your boxes or envelope (for free). They are delivered with your normal mail. You do the Click and Ship thing online, print the label, schedule the pick u and put the packages on your porch or you can pay extra for a specifically timed pick up.
• This pandemic has been horrible for so many of us. But some are using this very unique isolation to create some truly beautiful work. For example, Taylor Swift released her second album in 2020 on December 11th. “Folklore” came out in July and now “Evermore” is newly released last week. I have but sampled some her new music but what I have heard so far is really nice. She has partnered with some pretty remarkable musicians that I have never heard of – HAIM and Bon Iver are two that come to mind. Both bring some really interesting nuances to her already impressive songwriting and playing.
• I have macular degeneration. It’s a retinal disease that was diagnosed with last year. There are two types – wet and dry. Evidently, the wet is the least of the two and that is the kind I have. I can still see well. Watching TV, using the computer and driving are all still viable pastimes for me. But the blank blurry spot in the middle of my left eye makes reading books (one of my favorite pastimes) no longer possible. But in keeping with my long held belief that it is much better to be lucky than smart, just as my eyesight began to suck, the availability, cost and quality of audio books took off so in stead of reading I am read to. All is good, so far. I am told it takes about 10 years to progress to legal blindness.
• Many if not all of you have heard me espouse the virtues of being lucky over those of being smart. This wisdom has been a primary driver of any success I might have found in my years of doing stuff. I had yet another occasion that provides even more evidence of this essential wisdom. During the time I was working this year’s Stanta’s workshop project I had migrated much of my tools and materials outside to give me more room to work. If you screw up as much as I do, you need room to do it in. Anyway, it doesn’t rain that often here but I just had this feeling that it might be coming so I checked the weather forecast app on my phone and sure enough it was going to get cold and wet the very next day. So with the help of the kids, we put everything back into the garage. I got to thinking about the forecast temp which was significantly less than current temps and decided to check if it had been adjusted. No, it was definitely going to be between 45 and 30 degrees and an 80% chance of rain in WASHINGTON, DC which happened to be the location I reviewed earlier by mistake. The actual San Diego forecast was much more normal for our area, low 70s for the high, late 40s for the low at night with clear skies. When we got up this morning, it was pouring down rain and all my stuff would have been wet had I not looked at the wrong forecast!! So there! Proof!
• December 17th is the 352th day of the year (because 2020 is a leap year – but there still only 8 days till Christmas!). Today in 1777, France formally recognizes the United States of America; On this day in 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant issues General Order No. 11, expelling Jews from parts of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky; Today in 1933, The first NFL Championship Game is played. The game was at Wrigley Field between the New York Giants and Chicago Bears. The Bears won 23–21; In 1938, German Scientist, Otto Hahn discovers the nuclear fission of the heavy element uranium, the scientific and technological basis of nuclear energy; On this day in 1969, the United States Air Force closes its study of UFOs; Today in 1989, “The Simpsons” premieres on television with the episode “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”; In 2014, the United States and Cuba re-establish diplomatic relations after severing them in 1961; Pierre Paul Émile Roux, French physician and immunologist, co-founded the Pasteur Institutet was born today in 1853; Burt Baskin, American businessman, co-founded Baskin-Robbins was born today in 1913; Bob Guccione, American photographer and publisher, founded Penthouse was born today in 1930; Pope Francis was born today in 1936; Paul Butterfield, American singer and harmonica player was born today in 1942; Grover Washington Jr., American singer-songwriter and saxophonist died today in 1999;;And finally, Daniel Inouye, American captain and Senator from Hawaii from 1963 until his death today in 2012.

Website Update:
This week we made the following changes:
• Week 2 UJT Vocabulary Quiz
• Last Week for the Musical Trivia Quiz.
• This week I didn’t add any new recipes.

Writing, Ceramics, Stained Glass and Painting Update:
• My stained glass project turned out to be an excellent demonstration as to just how much more practice I need to do this thing well.
• This week I managed to miss my watercolor classes again!
• Grandpa Stories is still not re-published.

• This week I found the first season of Spenser for Hire on one of my streaming services. I watched this show pretty much religiously when it was on from 1985 to 1988. It was one of those shows I would use to veg out in front of the TV after long days at work. I liked the show for 2 reasons. I have always enjoyed Robert B. Parker’s many novels that developed this Spenser (“with an s like the poet”) character over the years. I also was very fond of Robert Urich who played the title role on the TV series. We lost Robert Urick in 2002, to a rare type of cancer. It may be just an urban legend, but I prefer to believe the story to be true. His treatment for the cancer hospitalization that included surgery, radiation and chemo therapy which caused him to loose all of his trademark hair. When he was ready to leave the hospital totally bald for the first time since he was a baby, his family (wife Heather, adopted kids, Ryan, Emily and Allison) arrived to take him home with shaved heads. I recently saw a movie with Mark Wahlberg as Spenser and was disappointed. I like Mark Wahlberg but the adaptation of the story was clumsy and Mark just couldn’t pull off Parker’s well read romantic thug anywhere near as well as Bob Urich.

Music Update:

Once again, your fossilized DJ takes you on another meander through the dusty cobwebs of my music library. This week selections are perhaps even more eclectic than usual. but all favorites that I hope you will enjoy.

This week’s UJT Radio Program:
• George Harrison — All Things Must Pass — This week there was a musical fundraiser called “Playon” to raise funds for the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund and WhyHunger, a nonprofit combating food insecurity. One of the acts was Sheryl Crowe singing another George Harrison tune. In her introduction of, “Watch Out Now”, Sheryl reminded us that it was George Harrison who created the mega star musical fund raising phenomena with his “Concert for Bangladesh” back in 1971. This cut is the title song from George’s first solo album after The Beatles broke up. This tripled album was released in 1970. I think for the 18 year old me listening to this song, was my first real consideration of my own mortality and how that is as it should be. Its a beautiful song that describes the very thing that separates us from other species – we are the only ones who are aware of our own limited time to live. Well, as far as we know anyway.. the others may know but never shared with us. 🙂

• Taylor Swift — willow — This remarkable young woman takes us along on her musical coming of age travels. She is searching for limits and not finding them. She has taken on a number of directing roles, organizing and directing her highly successful tours and now her videos. This remarkable cut comes from her “Folklore” album released on July 24th this year.

• Taylor Swift — this is me trying — This is one of my favorite cuts from her new album, “Evermore” that was released this week. I think every one has momIt kind of snuck up on me. As I was exploring this lovely record, I discovered that she had released “Folklore” back in July.

• The Police – Do Do Do Do Da Da Da Da — Sting, one of the most articulate and intricate songwriters of our generation also wrote this simple love song. He was poking fun at us as a comment on how people love simple-sounding songs. This was the second single off thier album “Zenyatta Mondatta” released in 1980.

• Bruce Hornsby and The Range — Mandolin Rain — From the Vinyl !!! This great musician is a favorite of mine and also Bonnie Raitt. She has told just about anyone who will listen that Bruce is one of her favorite songwriters. This one comes to us from their truly amazing debut album, “The Way It Is” album released in 1986.

• The Byrds – From a Distance — Most of you know that while I may be spiritual, I would not be considered religious but my roots in music include singing in choirs and believing the Christian songs that I once sung so sweetly as a young boy. Well, this Julie Gold song is at the edge of that genre but I think it is special enough to share here. This is song by The Byrds (an incarnation featuring Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman, and David Crosby) was recorded in August of 1990.

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!