Monday, July 16, 2018

Paul and John... via Dana Carvey

Getty Images
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a little blog about Paul McCartney's new album, Egypt Station coming out in September. In the video playlist I included Paul's recent appearance on Carpool Karaoke with James Corden.

This past week, I had a chance to see Dana Carvey on Jerry Seinfeld's, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, New Season 5, Episode 6. I just love this show and the Dana Carvey episode was great as Dana rolls through his impressions. He does a segment of the sketch with Paul McCartney talking to John Lennon in heaven about Kanye West. Now this was absolutely hysterical and I didn't realize that Carvey actually does a 5 minute piece on this in his 2016 Netflix Special, Dana Carvey, Straight White Male, 60. (As a side note - Dana Carvey is my birth class of 1955 and we all just seem to continue to ride that endless Beatles wave.)

So after the Comedians in Cars Episode, I immediately watched Dana Carvey, Straight White Male, 60 which I highly recommend. His Paul McCartney John Lennon sketch was so fantastic I had to find it on the Internet and write this blog. Anyway, Netflix didn't create a copyrighted clip for YouTube and the only other one I found wasn't up to par. So, thinking I could do a bit better, I set up me ol' iPhone on the tripod and shot it right off the big telly. I uploaded to YouTube and well... that lasted for about 15 minutes before my clip was blocked by YouTube (as it should Douglas Glen McIntosh), but I've now posted another one I found on YouTube (?)...

So watch the bit here with a few more gems stitched together to form the playlist, and then catch the entire special on Netflix, as it's a boomer's TV night event!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Harry Nilsson - Good Old Desk

My old desk does an arabesque,
In the morning when I first arrive 
It's a pleasure to see, it's waiting there for me
To keep my hopes alive


This past week I came across the 1968 song, Good Old Desk by Harry Nilsson from his third album, Arieal Ballet while listening to streamed music at well... my desk. I have a tricked out 60"x 30" sit to stand electric desk that I purchased at IKEA in 2015 (see build).  Since retiring from my 35 year teaching career, it has become my new place of work.

Almost everyday, I get up in the morning and write something into the cloud from my good old desk. It has really become an extension of myself as I grow my educational consulting business, do research, write my book (with Richard Oka), or post a music blog before my self-imposed deadline of Monday at 8am. The blog title, Monday Monday Music (yes inspired by The Mamas and Papas) but strictly named on my part to kick my ass into actually writing something every week.

My favorite desk story is that it's going to be Mary Kit's birthday a couple of years ago, and I decided to get her a 32" TV for her office/sewing room. I order it from Amazon Prime and it doesn't show up for a week. We call, they can't locate it and send another one out, and it comes in two days. Then, about three weeks later, the original comes with the box a little worse for wear, but its fine. We call, and Amazon says, "just keep it." The picture above of me standing, is MY 32" TV/computer monitor that I use to mirror my laptop screen, on my desk. I blow the text up and man, I can even take off my reading glasses and pretend I'm reading 12 point font again. Also, my grandchildren love to control the up and down button (with my supervision) and watch the desk grow and shrink.

So, if you're at your work desk right now and going through your email or on the web and come across this blog, take a listen about a place where maybe you spend a good deal of time. If you don't like your current desk, think of it as, "a sad song and make it better." I mean it, start right now, concoct a plan to get a better desk that fits YOU. Nothing better than creating at a space that you can call, "my good old desk."

If you already like your desk and it kind of follows with this song, knock on wood.



Monday, July 2, 2018

Paul McCartney - Egypt Station (peek)

Paul McCartney's new album, Egypt Station is set to be released September 7, 2018 but Sir Paul has given us several bits of new media to hold us over through the summer.

First, I saw the Carpool Karaoke with Paul for The Late Late Show with James Corden in Liverpool. I think its fabulous and the reason for creating this post.

Then, Paul has just released two songs off the album, I Don't Know and Come On to Me.

I'm still kicking myself for not seeing him at Petco Park in San Diego in 2014. These opportunities are shrinking with the greats and let that be a lesson mates to go see the band you want to see when your gut tells you to go!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Snow Patrol - Wildness

I've been checking out newly released albums for an upcoming blog when I came across Snow Patrol and their new album, Wildness.

Snow Patrol is an Irish band formed in 1993 that I had never heard of before and lead by wonderful singer-songwriter, Gary Lightbody.

Wildness is a nice mix of Power pop songs that can land within a lot of different people's musical tastes. It is one of those albums that lives between pop and rock as it just kind of pulled me in. So check out Wildness on your music Monday as I think you may be hooked to listen to the whole album.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Angels in the architecture and devil in the details

Image Source
A man walks down the street
It's a street in a strange world
Maybe it's the Third World
Maybe it's his first time around
He doesn't speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound
The sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says Amen! and Hallelujah!

From You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon

If you read my blog last week, Paul Simon, The Rhythm Poet, you can tell I haven't quite let go of my recent concert experience. As I was doing research for that blog, I came across an interview with Paul Simon that really spoke to me. As an artist, Simon talks about the concept of flow where sometimes the music and words come to him easily, and other times he works and works over a period of time to complete a song.

Now please take almost 5 minutes to watch this clip now, and I'll share my take on the other side.


What struck me about Paul Simon's curiosity with his own creative process describes how all of us are similarly capable of creativity in our own way and not just reserved for artists or people identified as gifted.

I'm not one to believe that God is directly providing that 'spark' of thought, but rather, through our own experiences we are all able to cognitively channel and engage our brains to create something new.

Paul's line, "He sees angels in the architecture" is for me a metaphor for that spark of thought framed around the idea and/or thing you are creating. The creating itself is thoughtful but is sometimes coupled with a 'spirituality' of goodness that is coming from some place to you and through you.

I found a similar passage from an excellent blog by Shannon Rusk, apply titled, Angels in the Architecture.

I prefer to consider the expression a metaphor.  Because I do believe that architecture, and by turns its architects, have the ability to do good, or otherwise.  But for me the angels in the architecture are not winged creatures or other beautiful details and careful ornamentation.  Rather, I see the angels as being the experiences and emotions and connections that architecture, at its best, can enrich and facilitate for those people who live their lives within and around it.  They can be something that architects deliberately design for, or they can happen just by chance, or as a result of the way people choose to use or adapt the building.  

Image Source
I'm currently writing an K-12 educational ebook titled, Learning Environment by Design. I've been researching and writing the book for a year now with a lot of passion and motivation to see it take shape, and to see it through.

 I've come to learn two things about creativity. One, you create the conditions for your own 'flow' as angels in the architecture within the structure you're building.  Secondly, your flow is sustained through your embrace of the process of iteration as 'the devil is in the details.'

Iteration is the act of repeating a process, either to generate an unbounded sequence of outcomes, or with the aim of approaching a desired goal, target or result. Each repetition of the process is also called an "iteration", and the results of one iteration are used as the starting point for the next iteration. Wikipedia

This creativity ying-yang of flow and details is a wonderful loop of inspiration and pace. For me, Paul Simon's work has always had a spiritual quality that has touched my soul deeply over the years. I guess what I appreciate now more than ever is the beauty and craft in the making of his songs.

As a student and young person, when it came to writing, I was a one and done draft with little regard for the process of editing. It's taken me a bit longer, but I've learned to love and embrace the 'rewrite.' Paul Simon would know something about that.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Paul Simon, The Rhythm Poet


Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence
from The Sound of Silence by Paul Simon

In my 12th grade English class the teacher Miss Dunn, did a poetry unit on Simon and Garfunkel. She unpacked Paul Simon's lyrics and we explored songs such as, The Sound of Silence and The Boxer as deeply as passages of Dickinson or Thoreau.

Paul Simon is simply one of American music's greatest treasures. By the late sixties, he had reached Bob Dylan's poet stature as the songwriter of Simon and Garfunkel.  But he just never stopped his momentum and continued to evolve as the quintessential instrument to channel American and world rhythms into music as a solo artist.

Last Friday, I got to see Paul Simon for the first time at Key Arena in Seattle. His Homeward Bound - The Farewell Tour is billed as the final tour of his career and at 76 I'm just going to have to take him at his word. His setlist included 25 songs with three well planned but heartfelt encores.

Joining me was my lovely wife Mary Kit, as well as my dear old friend Bill DeVoe and his good friend Neil Wiesblott from Vashon Island. Our foursome was part of the largely "Boomer" crowd that grew up listening to Paul Simon, and in turn, our children listened to Simon growing up with us.

In preparing for the blog this past week, I typically start with the playlist and wanted to feature many of the songs from his recent performances. I got really excited listening to Paul's 70+ year old voice in concert as the man is well preserved physically, vocally and musically.

On Saturday after the concert, I had a chance to have lunch with Bill and he talked about how Simon just continued to evolve as an artist through the decades, not afraid to explore and expose his audience to literally the rhythms and beats from all kinds of cultural influences. Our discussion turned to how historically white musicians have "taken" music from musicians of color and not given them credit for not only their influence but the dollars they have reaped from that influence.

You can go back to the 1920's and discover jazz performers such as Paul Whiteman (literally his last name), who was known as the "King of Jazz" to the larger white audience without publicly  acknowledging the black artists who in fact created the art form of jazz itself.

This too could also be applied to Elvis Presley in the 1950's as the "King of Rock 'n' Roll" to the larger white audience, and if I'm not mistaken, never overtly talked in the media about how black music influenced his music. I will say many black musicians like Little Richard have publicly said how Elvis' popularity actually boosted their careers, but not said by the man himself, in front of a microphone or television camera.

But in the 1960's and by the 1970's this pattern had begun to change. Groups like the Rolling Stones and musicians like Eric Clapton, openly talked about their black musician idols, and "put their money where their mouth is" by getting them big time booking gigs and appearances on TV.

Paul Simon took it a step further. He started putting people like the Jessy Dixon Singers in his albums and on his concert tours. He went to South Africa under Apartheid, hired all black musicians, recorded and toured with these musicians, and caught a bunch of crap for it. There are probably people who think Paul Simon has "taken" African music, but I would disagree. If you don't like the fact that Paul Simon is a musical genius whose world influences have created some of the most catchy rhythmic beat hooks of all-time, you probably just don't get rock 'n' roll. Rock 'n' Roll is for everybody but it's important to know where it comes from and to acknowledge the people who brought the beat, no matter who's playing it.

Then I learned to play some lead guitar
I was underage in this funky bar
And I stepped outside to smoke myself a “J”
And when I came back to the room
Everybody just seemed to move
And I turned my amp up loud and began to play
And it was late in the evening
And I blew that room away
Late in the Evening by Paul Simon



Paul Simon rocked Key Arena. He's got one of the most talented bands I've ever seen. I could only image the audition process to join this elite group of people who all seem to perform double duties of playing multiple instruments plus sing harmony or back up vocals as well. The percussion section is hypnotic and the horns are the pure joy of the soul. Paul was fully engaged, telling stories about the songs and his singing voice was fantastic! The crowd couldn't get enough as he moved from acoustic to full orchestral, big sound arrangements and back to acoustic guitars. It was not quite late in the evening and Paul Simon blew me away. I was not alone.


If you're wanting more, I would suggest Paul's new book by Robert Hilburn, Paul Simon the life. Here is a book review in the Seattle Times by Paul de Barrios. I haven't read the book yet, but I think it will be on my bedside table very soon.


You know when an artist is so enduring to you that you sing the lyrics and play the music of a favorite song, in your head. For me Paul Simon has that extra quality (like Stevie Wonder) when the rhythm of the instruments just play over and over in your head, in a good way.

Right now as I'm writing this, I'm playing the acoustic guitar lead into Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard, in my head, and that my friends is a gift on so many levels.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Team Tortoise Part III: Carry That Weight

Boy, you gonna carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
from Carry That Weight | Lennon and McCartney

This is the third article in a mini-blog series about running, diet and music. If you haven't read the other two pieces, Team Tortoise Part I: Born to Run and, Team Tortoise: Part II: Getting in Tune, start there and then return here.

I don't care how healthy the above picture looks, for me, bread is "crack carbs." I could eat bread at every meal and then have toast late at night, for dessert. This is a family thing, built into my McDNA. Of all things possible in my recent quest for eating better, my aunt gives Mary Kit and I an electric bread maker this past week, and now I think of her as a drug dealer. 

Like most Americans, I'm addicted to carbs. It doesn't matter if I run everyday the rest of my life, there is no amount of exercise that's going to control my weight. We've all known the science for many years- reducing the level of carbohydrates one puts into their body is the first and most important ingredient to weight loss and management.   

But finally, after trying to lose weight since my 40's, I learned something. DIETING is actually the enemy of "health is a lifestyle." Dieting is a counter productive activity, a "bait and switch" that tricks your body for a short-term weigh-loss outcome. 

The Seven Day Cycle of Eating
I'm learning that I don't need to diet, but rather, just monitor the food I choose to eat on a seven day cycle. This cycle, combined with running every other day, is my 1-2 punch to lose and eventually maintain a healthy weight to carry.

If you want to lose (or maintain) your weight, there is only ONE RULE that you have to follow for the rest of your life-
  1. Cut out, cut back and replace carbohydrate foods that you consumed in your past "crack carb life." If you actively identify and target specific high carb (and sugar) foods, you will begin to reprogram yourself with healthy eating habits of mind and body that require the most important element, consistency.  
Change here is really just a series of small behavioral steps. Over the past several years, I have made a progressive effort to either CUT OUT 100% or CUT BACK a significant percentage of my "carry that weight" hit list of crack carbs, on a consistent basis. 

Shout
Shout
Let it all out
These are the things I can do without
Come on
I'm talking to you
Come on
From Shout | Tears for Fears

  • breakfast cereal and oatmeal (100%)
  • dairy milk (100%)
  • pancakes and waffles (95%)
  • bagels (98%)
  • all soft drinks, including sugar drinks like lemonade (100%)
  • fruit juice, and fruit smoothies (95%)
  • dried fruit (100%)
  • chips (80%)
  • crackers (appropriate name - 90%)
  • flour tortillas (90%)
  • quesadillas (100%)
  • deli sandwiches, I love deli! (90%)
  • regular pasta noodles (95%)
  • rice (90%)
  • potatoes, fries (90%)
  • jam (100%)
  • cookies, I love cookies! (95%)
  • pie (95%)
  • ice cream (90%)
  • pastries/donuts (95%)
  • bread, pizza and beer (0%) "A man's got to know his limitations."

But, I just couldn't go "cold carb." I needed to REPLACE my high carb intake with lower carb alternatives throughout the week. Here's some of my replacement behaviors. (Hey I should add a song to the playlist by the band, The Replacements.)

One thing Mary Kit and I learned several years back (on a WeightWatchers® diet) but did not practice again until recently, was to buy only low carb bread. Now you're probably saying, "but I don't want to eat bread that tastes like cardboard." Actually, there are some great low carb sliced breads out there. Here's a little simple math you need to do in your search for any lower carb food.
  1. Look at the "Nutrition Facts" on the back label on most any food product.
  2. Look for "Total Carbohydrate" (example - 12g, from Dave's Killer Bread 60 Calories Thin-Sliced, not to mention Dave playing electric guitar on the front label)
  3. Under Total Carbohydrate look for "Dietary Fiber" (Dave's 3g) and subtract that number from the Total Carbohydrate number. So, for Dave's 60 calorie bread the total carbs = 9 grams per slice.
  4. As a "carb standard" Mary Kit and I try to buy food with under 10 grams per serving. For sliced bread, our current favorites are the "Dave's 60 Calories" just mentioned and Eureka! Sweet Baby Grains (homage to James Taylor!) at 10 total grams of carbohydrate (Both breads found at Vons/Safeway). Once you start reading labels, you'll find that most sliced breads start in the 20+ Total Carbohydrate range.
Some "new habits" for NOT carrying that weight
  • I have a body weight scale (to the 1/10th pound) and weigh myself in the morning after I have gone to the bathroom. I don't weigh everyday, because like most people, my weight is always fluctuating a couple pounds, but I do weigh several times a week to get a feel and monitor for the (ding, ding)... Sunday morning weigh-in. Hint- If I know I'm having a carb carnival on Saturday night, I do my weigh-in on Saturday morning, remember don't punish yourself.

  • My strategic plan is to lose 1 pound a week for however long it takes me to get to 185. I use Google Calendar for all my scheduling and on the upcoming Sunday I have my current weight listed as an "all day event." For example, this week's goal is 201. It's been my goal for two weeks now. If I go under 201.0, my next week's goal is 200.0, if not, it remains at 201 and I slide that 201 calendar event down to next Sunday. If I weigh 199 this Sunday, my goal for next week is still 200.0. and I put up a new calendar event for 200 for next Sunday. I try to remain "slow and steady" and most importantly, not to create a weight system that punishes myself or causes me to feel I have to be on a DIET.

  • Eat the majority of your your carbs in the morning. I often have two pieces of toast as part of my breakfast, but got to watch it for lunch and dinner, not everyday but maybe 5 days out of 7. Give yourself the whole day to burn those carbs off as they turn to glucose, and then from sugar to fat. Also, have a little real butter on your toast, and no margarine as it is part of the artificial diet machine.

  • Eat a banana (or two) one hour before you run. It is high in carbohydrate and you'll burn the glucose for your running fuel. Bananas are also high in potassium and for me help prevent muscle pulls while running. For many runners, a banana also settles the stomach before a run.

  • You must always hydrate everyday, but one hour before a run I also drink a 20 oz. Vitamin Water Zero (Lemonade or Orange) because it has electrolytes and helps with the muscle pull thing I tend to get. (Note - A 12-ounce serving of Gatorade's Thirst Quencher contains 21 grams of sugar.)

  • You probably noticed I never stopped eating bread or pizza. Behaviorally, I made a choice. If I was going to continue those two habits, I was going to need to cut out, cut back or replace other carbs I was consuming.

  • Channel your Jim Gaffigan (Bacon!) and have a couple of cheat meals a week. Your body metabolically actually needs the food change ups if you want to lose weight, and after all, "variety is the spice of life." (If you're a Seinfeld fan, kind of analogous to, "sex to save the friendship" to my take, "pancakes to save the stomach.")

  • Protein is your friend. Find foods you like with higher levels of protein and increase that percentage from your old eating habits. Eat your protein after a workout because protein helps repair muscle and tissue.

  • Start drinking protein shakes at least 3-4 times a week. My current favorite is Muscle Milk 100% Whey Vanilla Concentrate Blend (from Costco) at 27grams of protein per serving (no after taste). My simple protein shake recipe includes:
        -2 cups of Almond Milk
        -1 scope of the above whey vanilla concentrate power
        -1 frozen banana
        -a spoonful of peanut butter (helps the medicine go down) and let it all blend in the blender. This is my new smoothie as the frozen banana is the key to the smooth!

  • I now literally go "cold turkey" with my "new sandwich" - a cold cut slice (or two) of turkey or ham between two pieces of cheese.

  • I haven't eaten red met (99%) for many years now, but if you are a meat eater and like fish, increase your intake and you will feel the difference. If you hate fish, go with turkey, ham and chicken. For example, make a chicken salad sandwich and just leave out the bread. I make chicken salad with boiled eggs, pickles, mustard and some mayonnaise and just stir it up and eat it from the same bowl.

  • If you are a burger nut, switch to lean turkey pre-made patties in the meat isle. (Making patties from ground turkey takes too much time and they are just too dry.) I'm a cheese burger guy from way back so include the DELICIOUS melted cheese but eliminate the bun and keep the lettuce, tomatoes and pickles.

  • Avoid packaged foods with the leading label "Non Fat." That is a bait and switch for your mind but your body just breaks downs the excess carbs to sugar and stores as fat.
  • If you are a vegetarian of any kind, you still have to reduce your carbs and get more protein, otherwise you will never lose weight and keep it off.

  • Replace chips and crackers with (dry roasted) nuts as a snack. Costco has a good selection, but don't blow it and buy the trail mix (doh)!

  • Replace pasta noodles with low carb Dreamfields Pasta noodles. Believe me, you won't even know the difference between regular pasta and Dreamfields.

  • Sugar is the enemy. Choose sugar treats few and far between because the body is just going to convert it and store it as fat.

  • If I need a sweet treat, I buy a variety of low carb Atkins Protein Bars, they are delicious. I make sure to buy the bars WITHOUT artificial sweeteners. But use your common sense, you shouldn't eat 3 bars a day (I have, several times).

  • Fiber is your friend. It helps bring down your carb count and keep you regular in the digestive department. I also take a Philipps "Fiber Gummy" with every meal at home. I don't have any hard data (other than my scale) to support its helping me lose weight, but it's helping in the digestive department.

  • Buy most of your fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk from Costco. It's just Mary Kit and I in the house, but it forces us to eat these foods more often before they spoil. Nobody wants to throw away food, so it's just another built-in motivator. Also, we have a pantry we used to call the "carb cabinet." As your behavior changes, your pantry should reflect that change. Your refrigerator becomes the new snack machine with things like dill pickles, olives, apples, cheese and berries.

  • If you're a big time snacker like me, Become a big time berry eater. I eat a fair amount of blackberries, blueberries and strawberries from Costco. If you reach for the carb cabinet, take a few nuts and get back to the The Americans.

  • Lastly, if you are living by yourself, it's up to you to create these new eating and exercise habits. If you live with a partner, your task is a bit harder because with most relationships, you often eat together. I'm not going to get into couple behavior here, other than to say you and your partner need to be on the "same page" when changing up your eating habits. My weight drops over the years have always been tied directly to Mary Kit. Relationships are an on-going process and hopefully the concept of "team" comes together for the both of you during your eating/exercise transformation. 

Boy, I carried that weight for a long time, this time for the last five years. One day, I just got sick and tired of the feeling that I had lost my former self in image and flexibility at 215 pounds. As I mentioned earlier, I wrote this Team Tortoise blog series to continue to motivate myself and maybe motivate you in some small way. I know as a Clydesdale or tortoise, I will need to continue to monitor my weight the rest of my life. I continue to strike the DIET word from my behavior and enjoy the "slow and steady" mantra of Team Tortoise in my running and lower carb healthy lifestyle.

As a lifestyle, Team Tortoise is also about stress relief. Music soothes the soul and is as important to me today as when I was a young 175 pound lean running machine. I hope this blog helps you a little more to connect to music on a weekly basis so that the current burdens you carry don't weigh you down too much. And, if you're looking for a Frank Costanza, "Serenity now" moment, you'll find it in your music. 


Here's a running start playlist that I've been adding to over the last three weeks to get us moving and smiling.

Notes on videos chosen- The Dave Wottle 1972 Olympic race really inspired me to start running | My first running shoes were the Nike "Cortez" | The movie clip from, The Black Stallion is about freedom and the freedom running can bring. It also reminds me of running at the beach in 1978 when I moved to Mission Beach | The "mans got to know his limitations" clip is just knowing who I am and listening to my body | The Nike commercial with the boy running on the road is about us all being on that lonesome road all by ourself, and that we will prevail on our journey.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Team Tortoise Part II: Getting in Tune

Image Source
I'm singing this song
Cos it fits in well with the way I'm feeling
There's a symphony that I hear in your heart
Sets my head a reeling
I'm in tune
Right in tune
I'm in tune

This is the second article in a mini-blog series about running, diet and music. If you haven't read the first piece, Team Tortoise Part I: Born to Run start there and then return here.

The Who is one of my favorite bands of all time and their Getting in Tune was a perfect title that fits in well with the blog I'm writing. This week I want to continue my jogging journey by providing some tips and tricks that got me right in tune with an exercise routine that is currently changing my life in such a positive way.

For me, "Getting in Tune" is eating smart and running with a positive mindset coupled with a strategy to meet or exceed my goals over a period of time. (I'll write about eating smart as opposed to "dieting" in my third installment, Team Tortoise Part III: Carry That Weight, next week.)

Last week, I presented "The Chart" continuum from walking to running.

The Chart - moving in either direction (no judgement, just get out there and get moving)

Slow Walking | Walking | Walking Faster | Slogging | Jogging | Slunning | Running

Pick where you're currently at on the chart and make your first aerobic exercise goal - to move to the right at least one step. For me, sometime in November, 2017 - I said I'm going from slogging (slow jogging) to jogging to slunning (slow running).

Now for some suggestions on running.

Suggestion #1 - Where to run?
  1. Ideally, pick a place that you can walk (warm up) from your front door. Why? Because who has the time in this busy world? Convenience and Routine in exercise is your 1-2 punch for NO EXCUSES not to exercise.

    If the following suggestions don't work for your home location, then get in you car and go to that place or places that meet some of the criteria below.

  2. If you are are 40 years +, find places to run with either dirt and/or grass as the majority surfaces for your runs. Your feet, ankles, knees, hip, back and neck need as much natural shock absorption as possible. Take it from a guy with meniscus knee surgery, plantar fasciitis surgery and torn tendons from his left ankle to knee (from a wedding dancing accident). Running only on concrete and asphalt will eventually end your running life before you want to it to end. Here's my 2016 blog on the subject, Running Surfaces and the Road Less Traveled.

  3. If possible, find a running location that includes hill work. Better yet, a steady progressive incline for at least a quarter mile to half mile. I don't recommend a long steep hill especially on the downside because of the pounding to your joints. From my experience, almost all of my muscle pulls have occurred while running down a steep hill or decline.

    A variety of up and down provides the spice of life to your running routine. Your body and mind need to be challenged- to use your body's gears to go up, down and flat out.
Suggestion #2 - How long and far to run?
  1. Run no more than 60 minutes every other day. There is a body of research to back this up, but more than anything, it's just common sense in diminishing returns with age, muscle tissue micro tears, tears, and recovery time. Personally, I'm not an IronMan, nor want to be. I almost killed my body and spirit running a marathon and then discovered half-marathons were causing me injury and setback. Less is more grasshopper.

  2. Run no more than 5 miles. If you are training for a 10K (6.2 miles) then bump it up to 6 miles at the most for a short period of time. for the average person, less running = running for the long run of life. Remember, you're a tortoise that typically lives a long life. Also, refer back to the Running Speed and Pace Chart Conversion in Part I (I cut the original off at 5 miles). And in the wisdom of Dirty Harry, "A man's got to know his limitations." –Harry Callahan

  3. Injury Prevention with Compression Socks/Pants and Stretching. As mentioned above, I have a body disposition for muscle strain and tear. Someone in my travels suggested compression socks for running. I first started with the leg sleeves from the knee down to the ankle and then purchased compression shorts for hotter days and long compression pants for colder days. Compression pants combined with good hydration and eating a banana (for potassium) a half-hour or hour before I run, has helped me tremendously from my calf and thigh muscle pulls.

    Speaking of gear, I wear my compression pants as underwear and a pair of running shorts on top of that. Make sure you buy some running shorts with at least one zipper pocket for your car license and/or car key or house key. I'm a freak worrying if my house key is going to fall out of my pocket while running, so the zipper is a little piece of mind. And speaking of staying calm, I read in Runner Magazine many years ago, that peppermint, calms the body while running. I always bring 3-4 Altoids® in one of my pockets on a run and find more than anything that an Altoid keeps my mouth moist and I don't get a dry mouth while running.

    STRETCH no matter what your age, before you walk and/or run for at least 10 minutes - DO IT and make it a top priority. In my stretching routine, I also use two pair of 10 pound bar bells and incorporate that in my daily morning stretching in the house. I do the free weights everyday probably for a total of 2 minutes but it's amazing how this helps with your upper body and strengthens the lower back.
Suggestion #3 - Walk everyday as an exercise activity
  1. Even if you are on a running day, try to walk at least a quarter mile to help stretch and warm your legs, but more importantly, get your mind primed to begin to free itself. Mary Kit and I walk everyday together for at least 30 minutes. It moves our conversations outdoors and we appreciate each other and the world around us a little more. For walking, mixing up your locations is a wonderful thing, discover your city and region.

  2. Counting steps at work or around the house with a counter strapped to you is just gathering artificial data that doesn't change your life. Get OUTSIDE and walk as an activity unto itself. Life is better outside. Okay with that said, I live in San Diego and someone in a colder wetter climate might be saying FU (forget you) right now. Okay for bad weather days, get a treadmill, with a view. 
Suggestion #4 - Run outside with your smartphone
  1.  Rule one is always safety. A smartphone either on the street or the trail may save your life or someone you encounter out there. Stuff happens. I once saw a runner get hit by a car in a cross walk on a busy street and ten people instantly were on their cell phones calling 911. (Yes, several others were also attending to the individual on the ground.)

  2. Experiment and find out if you want to carry your phone in a running hip pack or side armband. I like a side armband and it opened up my world for using my phone as an active part of my running.

  3. I'm going to talk about music, but before I do, I would highly suggest you NOT wear earbuds while running either on a trail, backroad or the streets. On the streets, you need to HEAR THE CARS at all times. On the trail or off road, you need to hear other people or dogs coming from behind. Be smart, be safe. Now if you are running at a park with lots of people around you, I could understand the use of earbuds, but even still, I would use only one side. I've been hit by a car in a crosswalk on my bike at 12, and bitten by a dog at a park while running (a couple of years ago).

  4. For audio while running, I put my phone upside down in the armband sleeve so that the phone's speaker is pointing up and about 12 inches from my right ear. I can hear the music perfectly, and I can also pause my music app if others are approaching me to give them their space. More importantly, I can hear and be in tune to all the other activity happening in my surroundings.

  5.  I also started using a walking/running tracker app to monitor my pace and distance. I use an app called Run Tracker. Here it is for Android and iPhone. Run Tracker is free (with a pro version available). I use it to monitor my time, distance and average pace per mile. It has a number of simple and easy to use settings. I get audio feedback that I set a every quarter mile and get my split times for every mile. It will save your run history and you can look back to see you're progress. This app has simply been a game changer for me, it gently kicks my ass or rewards me every quarter mile and it has made a difference in helping me reach one of my big goals - 5 miles at a 12 minute pace for one hour. Hope to drop the mic on that goal by summer!
Image Source
If you read the first blog in this series, I started it by talking about my experience in signing up for a jogging class in Community College with my friend, Paul Hobbs. This past Saturday, I was in Santa Maria, met Paul and we drove up a little north for a run on the beach at Oceano, CA. After Forty-five years, we're still pickin' them up and putting them down together-
"slow and steady for the long run." Life is good with friends like Paul.

Okay, next week in Team Tortoise Part III: Carry That Weight, I'll cover the most important area, one's (my) eating habits and a plan (lifestyle) to NEVER DIET AGAIN.

In the meantime, this is a music blog after all, so here is my Born to Run playlist to inspire you while...running of course. Yes, download the YouTube app (iPhone or Android) on your phone and subscribe to my playlists starting with this one. Send me any suggestions for running or eating-themed songs and I will add to this list for next week. Happy walking or running my friends!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Team Tortoise Part I: Born to Run


"Slow but steady wins the race." 
The Hare and the Tortoise

This mini-blog series on running, diet and music may be more of interest to someone 40 years and older, but for those a bit younger, take note as the years do seem to fly by.

Looking Back
In 1973, I graduated from High School and then attended Alan Hancock Jr. College in the Fall of that year. I can't remember if it was either the Fall or Spring semester, but my good buddy Paul Hobbs and I registered for a cross-country running PE class. The class was great, Coach Kring took roll while we stretched and then we hit the streets and ran for about an hour. I was 18 years old and immediately liked the routine, so much so, that I have basically been doing variations of that hour running routine ever since.

When I say, "running" well that's an action word that I'm going to examine today and categorize "speeds" akin to the gears on a bike. In the 45 years since I started running as an activity, I'm NOT what you'd call, "a natural born runner." If we were talking horses, I'm a Scottish Clydesdale, kind of with a square block farm body but with a "born to run" attitude. I was never going to be that lean, long-legged runner with a kick and over the years, I kind of identified with the Aesop Fable, The Hare and the Tortoise.  The fable heralds the slow and steady pace of the tortoise who eventually wins the race against the overconfident hare who takes a nap during the contest.


In the late 90's, I came up with the concept of "Team Tortoise" and eventually created a web site www.teamtortoise.org and some graphics for t-shirts to share with others in the spirit of being the slow and steady runners at public running events or solitary runs on a country road. When I was a younger tortoise/turtle I probably averaged a 10 minute mile pace at my very best. I mostly ran by myself but had several regular running partners over the years (Paul Hobbs, Bill DeVoe, Mark Hunter, Bob Morris, and my daughter Katie). I've run in 10K's, a dozen or so half-marathon's and one marathon.

Over the years, that pace gradually slowed to a 15-16 minute mile and last November my weight hit a new high and a very low point for me at 215 pounds. I was still running or should say, "sloooow joooogging," but my weight in combination with my diet and exercise was summed up in a term that came to me during one of those 16+ minute mile runs, "a slog." On one memorable slog, I actually had a guy pass me on the sidewalk, he was walking faster.

In looking back, my college roommate (health science major) and life-long friend, Mark Hunter often said in our conversations, "Health is a lifestyle." I still hear those words today in my head, and I still want to live those words.

Moving Forward - Setting Goals
So last November, I decided to set some new goals for myself. One goal being that I would write this mini-blog series (along with some "running themed" music) not only to help myself, but maybe to also motivate anyone on the on-going journey to being healthy and fit. So please take this series as simply some "tips and tricks" in my own journey that may help you on yours. At 63, I'm still learning new things to help with my diet and running lifestyle, and it's a good time to share some things that I have learned on the way.

My 3 BIG GOALS  (with no timeline restraints attached)
  1. To slowly loose 30 pounds (from 215 to 185), and keep it steady at 185 for the foreseeable future
  2. To run a 12 minute mile for 5 miles (12x5= 60 minutes), and keep that as my new pace and distance for the foreseeable future 
  3. To listen to new and old music while running to inspire my writing for Monday Monday Music blogs
One of my sub-goals is that when I averaged a 13 minute mile for 5 miles for at least a month, I would right this first blog as motivation to myself. I'm writing this first draft on Saturday, April 28th as today I ran and averaged a 12:36 mile pace for 5 miles. Today was a big day as I also weighed in at 199.4 and hit my halfway weight goal on the same day!

The Team Tortoise "Born to Slun" Chart
My professional life as an educator often involved my passion to organize stuff. So when I started my new running goals, I wanted to develop a "no judgement" continuum from walking to running that could be applied to most ambulatory people. As I get older, my lifetime goal will be to always walk until I die. 

Walking
In humans and other bipeds, walking is generally distinguished from running in that only one foot at a time leaves contact with the ground and there is a period of double-support. In contrast, running begins when both feet are off the ground with each step. Wikipedia

Independent walking speed of course depends on your height, weight and gait but is commonly clocked for most humans at around 3 miles per hour (mph). Here is a little continuum that moves from right to left as we age or have an injury or medical condition. The continuum here reflects the typical aging process, but it can move both ways depending on your situation. Not that it needs to be said but, walking as an activity is one of the most important things in maintaining an independent life.

Walking with a walker << Walking with a cane << Slow Walking (below 3.0 mph)
<< Walking (3.0 mph) << Walking Faster

Slogging 
Slogging is my blended term that means "slow jogging" and shouldn't be taken as a derogatory term.  For me, it starts around 3.1 mph and moves up several tenths of a mile. The distinction between "walking faster" and slogging can be minimal as I noted above with the walking guy passing me. Here, I'm emphasizing that one does not just want to walk faster but wants to begin to run again by getting both feet off the ground.

Slogging = somewhere between 3.1 mph - 3.5 mph for us Team Tortoise types.

from Running Speed Pace Chart Conversion
Jogging
Jogging is defined in Wikipedia as running at a "slow or leisurely pace" under 6 mph. From the Team Tortoise perspective, I'm going to redefine that at under the 5 mph and a wonderful lifestyle pace of exercise.

Slunning
Slunning is my blended term that means "slow running" starting at the 5 mph pace and peaking at the 6 mph pace. If you identify as Team Tortoise, this is your holy grail, your little engine that could in PR (personal record) territory. My personal goal is to be a slunner (again),  to "get back to where [I] you once belonged" or, "Ah, but I was so much older then I'm younger than that now.

The Team Tortoise motto - Slunning is running!

Running 
Running is traditionally defined at starting at the 6 mph pace. And yes if this is you, well good for you, you are officially a Hare. Being a Hare, this article is not necessary for you, but I'm happy for you. Please continue reading and I apologize for my jealousy (as you are probably lean and can just eat carbs all day long, you're whole life, that's... awesome).

The Chart - moving in either direction (no judgement, just get out there and get moving)

Slow Walking | Walking | Walking Faster | Slogging | Jogging | Slunning | Running

Goal #1 - Pick where you're currently at on the chart and make your first aerobic exercise goal - to move to the right at least one step. For me, sometime in November, 2017 on my bathroom scale, I said to self, "I'm going to go from slogging to jogging to slunning."

This week's playlist is only one song and the theme for this series (even if it's a car metaphor), and purposely chosen as "the slow version."

Next week in Team Tortoise Part II: Getting in Tune, I'll suggest some walking and running ideas for turning on your humming engine and just getting out there, everyday.


Monday, April 16, 2018

My 100 Songs, Again

Sorry I don't have a fresh blog this week. This past year, I've been writing an eHandbook for K-12 schools called, Learning Environment by Design. It has been taking a good majority of my waking hours these past several weeks as I finally decided to publish it online. Check it out if you like.

So this morning (feeling guilty about not getting a blog out), I revisited My 100 Songs list that I have posted a couple of times before here. I went through the list and as usual, several songs were deleted from YouTube. That always gives me a chance to bring in several new songs as the list like my book above, just keeps evolving. Enjoy my friends!

Monday, April 2, 2018

New Releases January - March, 2018



My love of the female singing voice was blessed with the gift of several new albums by a wave of fantastic young women crafting great music. Although a few older folks also make my cut this week including, Joan Baez, Shawn Colvin, and John Prine as the year is just warming up to my Americana music fix. Actually, John Prine's new album, The Tree of Forgiveness, doesn't come out until April 13, but I thought I'd give you a sneak peek of what has been released so far.

I'll start with one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Kacey Musgraves who just released her seventh studio album, Golden Hour. Musgraves is starting to get the national attention she deserves as she played on Stephen Colbert the other night. I have included a video here from her performance on the Late Show.

Equally talented is Brandi Carlisle with her sixth studio album, By The Way, I Forgive You. Brandi's been on the music scene for awhile now, and pulled on my heart strings with her song, The Mother. Last year she also blew my socks off producing one of my favorite albums of last year for The Secret Sisters, You Don't Own Me Anymore.

Next up is I'm With Her, what I'll call an Americana supergroup made up of Sara WatkinsSarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan, all great individual artists. I just recently saw them on NPR's Tiny Desk, and just loved it. Here is their first debut album just released, See Your Around.

This week's playlist is heavy with the first three albums featured above, but also please check out Brett Dennen, Christina Friis, and Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, all great finds after shifting through hours of new material.


Monday, March 26, 2018

They say it's your Birthday



I don't normally beat my chest on my own birthday, but all my grandkids know I love The Beatles and they've been playing Beatles songs on Alexa for me the past few days.

My granddaughter Elliot painted me a picture of Yellow Submarine and I received a ceramic octopus from my other granddaughter Lucille.

I have 8 grandchildren that I love like crazy and in honor of their love to me and The Beatles, here's a little Beatles to start your Monday. Also, it was Elton John's birthday yesterday so I'll throw in one of Lucille's favorites from the movie, "Sing."






Monday, March 19, 2018

Stormy


Oh, Stormy, oh, Stormy, bring back that sunny day

Stormy
is the Classics IV 1968 hit song that just starting playing in my head this past week. I don't think you need to ask why? With the constant sh#! show at The Whitehouse, not withstanding the Stormy Daniels scandal, there's always a dark cloud over 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue these days. 

But hey, we've also had a little bit of rain down here in San Diego that the local weather guy called a "storm," and I say that with a chuckle as MK and I fly up to Seattle this week. I'm packing my trusty North Face parka and expect the usual precipitation with a chance of snow this Saturday with what I'm told will include some grandparent activities as well in the forecast.

So boomers, the Stormy video below will take you back with Dennis Yost's vocals as you'll also remember their other hits (from my junior high years),  Spooky in 1967 and, Traces in January 1969. Although, I don't recall any Classics IV songs ever being performed by the local cover bands at the Fesler Jr. High dances, like Iron Butterfly's 1968, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Wow, I'm putting the Classics IV and Iron Butterfly together in the same sentence; although musically speaking, it was a more of a wide-open time in 1968, and one of the very best years in rock 'n' roll history. Enjoy my friends!




Monday, February 19, 2018

Losing My Religion and the 'Mulligan'


Original Photo: Robert Nicholas     

That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my religion

I see myself as an 8 year old on November 22, 1963 the day JFK was assassinated. I remember coming home from school where we had heard the tragic news, going into the bathroom, shutting the door so no one could see me, and then crying my eyes out. That for me is a seminal moment in my youth. I would later reference that moment as the dawning of my political experience that was punctuated five years later as a 13 year old, when both Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. These events greatly shaped my thinking growing up in a smaller town, but a town that happened to be between San Francisco and Los Angeles... and rock 'n' roll.

My parents were born again Christian Baptists who took their four children to church EVERY Sunday, both morning and evening services and Wednesday night Bible study as well. Later in my 40's, when my butt started to lose it's round shape and go flat, I'd attribute that not to the aging process, but to the fact that I spent a large part of my youth sitting in a hard wooden church pew. Talk about penance, the Baptists had it built right into the furniture.

Jesus Christ
Superstar
Do you think you're what they say you are?

A big part of growing up a Baptist, was the concept that all people are born with original sin that is ONLY rectified by "accepting Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior" and thus becoming 'born again' as THE WAY to an eternal life in heaven, and most importantly, the means NOT to burn in hell for eternity. And thus was born the expression learned by all baby boomers, "scary as hell."

As a Baptist Christian, there is the central practice of proselytizing by converting or attempting to convert someone from one religion, belief, or opinion to Christianity. Evangelicalism is the embodiment of this practice where recruitment and fund-raising are essential to their Christianity. It is no surprise that the United States has the largest concentration of Evangelicals in the world.

Jesus freaks out in the street
Handing tickets out for God
Turning back she just laughs
The boulevard is not that bad

So it is in this context, that I was raised born-again with a mission- to believe in God through Jesus Christ as the one savior of mankind by actively spreading this vision, and as I would later learn by Evangelists in the 1980's, by any means necessary.

Growing up in Santa Maria, California in the 1950's-60's, we had a lot of gas stations and churches. Most all my friends went to church. We would identify as Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and Catholics as teams in the Christian league, although Baptists are particularly bred to feel they are on the real winning team.

I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

Thank GOD for public schools as the true playground of democracy. At school in Santa Maria, it wasn't the education system that was much to talk about, it was the kids. I met all kinds of kids from all kinds of backgrounds, kids that didn't even go to church and some of their parents even drank alcohol. Kids that had more or less money than my parents, mean kids, nice kids, funny kids, and kids who believed in God differently than me.

In sixth grade, I met my first Jewish person, Rochelle Rosenblatt who was smart and sat right in front of me in our rows of desks. Kind of ironic, I'm learning in Sunday School about the Jews fleeing Egypt, God parting the Red Sea for their escape while not learning a thing about Judaism.

In my reflection of my religious upbringing, public school allowed me to accept other children and their differences with a wider lens, while at church I learned to view people and the world as a peep hole from someone else's front door.

If I told you what it takes
To reach the highest high
You'd laugh and say 'nothing's that simple'
But you've been told many times before
Messiahs pointed to the door
And no one had the guts to leave the temple!
I'm free
I'm free
And freedom tastes of reality

I don't know exactly or cognitively when it happened, but it was in my junior and senior year in high school that I began to question my religious beliefs and started to form opinions, for example, the "meek would in fact NOT inherit the earth." As you mature in living in the real world, the Bible becomes a kind of a Marvel comic book with fantastic stories of the earth being created in seven days, talking snakes, Jonah being swallowed by a whale, trumpets blowing down the walls of Jericho, boys being thrown into a blazing furnace and they are fine... it goes on and on, in the name of miracles of faith. But as one learns in the journey of life, facts and evidence matter and beliefs and faith do not trump facts and evidence. 

After high school and into college, I realized that my biblical and religious upbringing was a farce. Nobody could prove to me that God existed or didn't exist. I made a rational choice- to believe in me.

I also want to make this very clear, my parents are wonderful people, who loved their children very much and I have nothing but gratitude and respect for the life they gave me.

I have many Christians friends who were raised in the teachings of the Bible and culture of church. These friends feel my experience although typical was a rather narrow view of Jesus Christ and how one can live their life as a Christian. I take comfort that many Christians today believe:
  • all people are equal with human rights;
  • women have the right to their own bodies, and the choices they make;
  • gay people are not going to burn in hell.
I also take comfort that people from other faiths believe the same points above, as well as most atheists. It just comes down to dogma - "a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true." (Google)

Whenever any person joins an organization that follows a zealous belief system, WATCH OUT, because the organization could give a crap about you as an individual, it's the DOCTRINE that matters. 

So I had lost my religion, but NOT my spirituality, morality and ethics. My spiritual compass continues to point to the actions of Christians and non-Christians alike and how they live a purposeful life and treat others with respect. It is in this collective humanity that has shaped me as I have tried to shape this humanism with my own children and now grandchildren.

Has anybody here seen my old friend Bobby,
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill
With Abraham, Martin and John.

So, that brings me back round to the 8 year old boy in church and the Kennedy assassination. I'll try to do this succinctly, but hopefully you'll see how my political maturation (but I'm not the only one) ran directly head-on into the Evangelical wall of practice.
  1. Lyndon Johnson becomes President and passes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1968, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  2. Those events, turn the southern states to Republican (Red States) that continues to this day.
  3. Southern and Bible belt evangelicals become more political through the 1968 election of Richard Nixon who campaigns on representing the "Silent Majority."
  4. Jimmy Carter is elected President in 1976 and by all accounts is the most devout Evangelical Christian ever to hold the office, but hated, yes hated by many Evangelicals.
  5. Ronald Reagan defeats Carter in 1980, with great support from Baptist minister Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority" movement.
  6. From the 1980's to the present, Evangelicals are a political force joining an informal coalition of the Christian Right or Religious Right.
  7. "The Christian Right is notable today for advancing socially conservative positions on issues including school prayer, intelligent design, embryonic stem cell research, homosexuality, contraception, abortion and pornography." (Wikipedia)
Don't stop thinking about tomorrow
Don't stop, it'll soon be here
It'll be here better than before
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone

Also, let me quickly bring up, "What about Bill Clinton?" as all conservatives do, before I move into Evangelicals being in bed with Donald Trump. America during Bill Clinton's watch had great prosperity during his Presidency. However, the douchebag had several affairs with women, and WHILE in the office of the Presidency, let an intern give him a blow job several times. That was obviously wrong on many levels, but he got away with it.

In today's political climate of #MeToo, Bill Clinton would have been made to resign by the Democratic Party. Kristen Gillibrand, the Democratic Senator from New York, did this almost alone with Al Franken last year. Anyway, it was my opinion then and now, that Bill Clinton should have resigned his Presidency on this issue alone. (footnote 1- If your playing my version of It's a Wonderful Life, Clinton resigns, Al Gore becomes President, gets re-elected, and NO IRAQ WAR.)

One of my pet peeves over the year is having to listen to Evangelical leaders defend many TV ministers and conservative politicians for their affairs with women, or their sexual assaults against women. Okay, "What about, fill in the blank here." Yes, douchebags come in all political stripes.

My point is that Evangelicals were once the 'draw the line in the sand' hardliners for morality in America. Today, Evangelicals demean themselves when a person from their tribe is exposed for their sexual affairs, but say, "He deserves forgiveness as Jesus would have done." C'mon, I was once on your team, you can't kid a kidder, evangelicals can't have it both ways and all Christians know in their heart of hearts that this is hypocrisy of the highest order.

The word hypocrite is rooted in the Greek word hypokrites, which means “stage actor, pretender, dissembler.” So think of a hypocrite as a person who pretends to be a certain way, but really acts and believes the total opposite. Hypocrites usually talk a big talk but fail to follow their own rules. (Vocabulary.com)

I grew up hearing the word, "hypocrite" as it was sometimes associated with Christians. When I was young and a good 'sheep' for the cause, "hypocrite" was like the worst thing you could call a Christian, probably still is.

In my lifetime, this is no doubt the all-time moral and ethical decay of our nation's leadership with Donald Trump as our President.  So the word 'hypocrite' is probably the best word to describe the Evangelicals who have sold their souls to defend this President to advance their own religious policies over their deep moral convictions.

Like most Americans, I have tried to remain calm throughout the first year of Trump in office. I've recently stopped using and reading Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for political 'tweets' and receiving news, and now only keep those social media accounts for promoting my consulting business and this blog. I try to remain open-minded with the knowledge that a local and national free press will continue to help inform me.

Now when we examine the personal and professional life of Donald Trump, it is a life consistent with tactics for-
  • racism, specifically race baiting;  
  • misogyny through verbal attacks, and actions by reducing women to objects; 
  • creating conspiracy theories about our Government, specifically the FBI and our National Security Departments to deflect his actions and interests;
  • and, promoting the idea that being a bully and asshole is actually a male attribute.
So everyday is a shit show @ The Whitehouse and one tries to remain calm...

Then, of the endless incoming stories, comes the news of the porn star, Stormy Daniels having an affair with Trump who's lawyer pays her off with $130,000 to remain quiet before the election. Evangelical Tony Perkins, President of the conservative Family Research Council comes out with the statement that Trump deserves a 'Mulligan' on this one.

A mulligan is a second chance to perform an action, usually after the first chance went wrong through bad luck or a blunder. Its best-known meaning is in golf, whereby a player is informally allowed to replay a stroke, even though this is against the formal rules of golf. The term has also been applied to other sports and games, and to other fields generally. (Wikipedia)

Now for all the things Trump has done (and is probably doing this moment), I just 'lost my shit' when I hear Tony Perkins as a representative for Christian Evangelicals say that Trump deserves a "pass," and "second chance." C'mon Tony, Trump's whole life is a mulligan. This is the very type of manipulative word play that originally caused me to 'lose my religion' in the first place because of the behavior of these so-called Evangelical leaders.

So it's within this current context that R.E.M.'s 1991 song, Losing My Religion from their album, Out of Time comes to my mind. This song has long been a favorite of mine as I (like with so many songs) have interpreted the lyrics and music into my own experience. Here's the interesting thing from the 'mulligan' comment, I go to do a little web searching about how the band came to write Losing My Religion and discover the song's title is taken from the band's southern roots in Georgia as a regional expression "that means losing one's temper or civility, or 'being at the end of one's rope.'" (Wikipedia)

The title is a Southern expression meaning "At my wit's end," as if things were going so bad you could lose your faith in God. If you were "Losing your religion" over a person, It could also mean losing faith in that person. (Song Facts)

I start laughing out loud when I read this, I've just 'lost my shit' over these stupid Evangelicals defending Trump again, and now I have the perfect double-meaning southern expression, 'losing my religion' to express my frustration toward the tribe whom have lost their WAY, not to mention their minds. In my dream of dreams, I hear my late Grandma Mary, a devout Christian say in her Arkansas/Texas accent, "Y'all a bunch a hypocrites!"

Book by conservative radio host Charlie Sykes

America has simply turned upside down-
  • hater Evangelicals defend situational immorality, time and time again;
  • "thoughts and prayers" is the standard response for mass shootings with semi-automatic guns;
  • conservatives are now the ones who believe conspiracy theories;
  • The FBI and Intelligence community are the enemy, and the Russians are not;
  • mainstream media news is fake;
  • the establishment is corrupt;
  • and to immigrants, America love it, but please leave it.
You would think that conservatives have gone through some twisted 'Manchurian Candidate" brainwashing. 

Well if the Evangelicals with Donald Trump and pious co-pilot Mike Pence are going down this road, maybe it's time for the rest of us to be, The New and Approved 21st Century Moral Majority. A majority of Americans,  Republicans and Democrats who are good people with a moral compass with the ability to listen to different points of view and work together to solve tough problems.


Additional Footnotes
(footnote 2)- I'm searching the web, trying to find a black and white or even color photograph of my old Grace Baptist Church. I can't find anything, like they picked up, moved to a better neighborhood, and scrubbed their past history from the Internet. So, I'm thinking the building must still be there, I heard that it became a Hispanic Christian Church from someone, so I decided to do a Google Map Search...

Ironic isn't it?




(footnote 3)- As a former church goer, I have a "you're a sucker if..." story.

As a young person maybe 13 years old, I used to sit in the church pew looking straight at the pastor, my head slightly tilted with a Mona Lisa smile, for his entire sermon. My father commented to me on several occasions, "Doug, I can't help but admire your attention to the sermon today." Well, that was just a way for a shy kid like me to get a little attention in my environment. I would later call it my, "pious look." Now, think of our Evangelical Vice President and what I call, "The Mike Pensive Look" while he's gazing adoringly at Donald Trump. And if you believe that look... Y'all a bunch of suckers!

Today's playlist is mixed theme of 'losing my religion' songs, news clips and some satirical comedy bits. Enjoy my friends.