Saturday Surprise — Squirrels, Squirrels, and … More Squirrels!

I love watching squirrels!  They are so cute, but also personable … we have a few squirrels who pay us a daily visit.  I think it could have something to do with the unsalted peanuts and bird seed we put out each morning.  But they are so much fun to watch, and they are smart critters, too!  They somehow know that the kitties cannot get to them through the window, and they delight in tormenting the kitties!  They stand on the patio table in front of the window on their hind legs and do a little squirrely happy dance, swishing their furry tail from side to side, while the kitties, sitting on the chair in the kitchen window looking out paw the window, growl and whine!  The squirrels, meanwhile, just grin at the kitties!

When I came across this collection of squirrel pics over on Bored Panda, I knew I had to share them with you!  I can think of no better way to cut through the stress and angst of this past week than these cuties!

From the article in Bored Panda …

Did you know Squirrel Appreciation Day is a thing? It’s celebrated every January 21st as an opportunity to learn more about the little rodents, and even if we’re far from that date, it’s always a good time to celebrate these precious balls of fur! Squirrels are pretty awesome, and their cuteness is only matched by the fact they’re quite clever and can form cognitive maps in their heads of the places they store their food.

I’ll never forget the first time I visited London, where I was amazed by the number of cute squirrels in St. James’s Park and how well they tolerated being surrounded by so many people. As naive as I was as a child, I thought the city had a secret squirrel sanctuary! When I investigated some more, I found out squirrels can be incredibly friendly to humans. They have a reputation for curiosity and get interested in what’s going on around them.

For all these reasons and more, squirrels are easy to love. And if you’re a fan of adorable animals like us, you’ll surely appreciate this gallery of squirrel pictures! So scroll down, feast your eyes, and upvote your ultimate favorites!

Squirrel Licking A Glass Window

One Woman Started Putting Bowls Of Ice Out For The Squirrels In Her Yard. This Little Guy Was So Grateful, He Fell Asleep Cooling Off

I Followed Squirrels Daily With My Camera For 6 Years And Here Are 50 Of My Best Photos

A Squirrel Ran Into The Store I Work At And Stole A Chocolate Bar

I’ve Spent A Couple Of Years Photographing Squirrels And Their Different Emotions

Squirrel Fell In Love With My Stepdad

Saw A Squirrel Eating A Strawberry Off A Fork On My Way To Class

Rescued This Little Guy While Shooting Some Photos In A Wooded Area. My Dogs Adopted Him

So Ive Been Feeding The Squirrels Lately And This Is What I Saw At My Door When I Woke Up

Defiant Squirrel

This White Squirrel I Saw On My Walk

Hoomans Said If Your Ear Is Itchy, Someone Is Thinking Of You

This Little Guy Needed To Say Hi

Squirrel Love

My Mom Occasionally Leaves Nuts Under Our Bird Feeder. Today, He Came To The Window And Asked For More

Sadie The Squirrel Has Eaten 3 Jack O’Lanterns So Far

I Give The Local Squirrels Breakfast Every Morning. He Was A Latecomer. His Face Says It All

Squirrel On Dog

Indian Palm Squirrel In My Indian Palm

I See Her Suspicious Look And A Cucumber… But Look At Her Feet On The Bowl!

I hope that the squirrels made you smile this morning!  I also hope you have a safe, fun and happy weekend!

♫ It’s Now Or Never ♫

I have often said I was not a fan of Elvis Presley … I thought he was a bit too much of a showman and not enough of a serious musician.  However, some of his music I did … and do … really like.  Tonight’s song is one such … for no apparent reason it popped into my head tonight … Oh wait … I remember why!  I was responding to a comment by Roger and used the phrase “It’s now or never” and thus the song popped into my ancient mind!  Anyway … according to SongFacts …

This Elvis classic borrows the chord progression as well as the melody from the Italian song “O Sole Mio,” which was first recorded by Giuseppe Anselmi in 1907. Mario Lanza popularized the song, and Tony Martin released the first English translation as “There’s No Tomorrow” in 1949.

When Elvis was in the US army, he was stationed in Germany and heard “O Sole Mio.” When he was discharged, he asked his record company to write an English translation for him, a task that went to songwriters Aaron Schroeder and Wally Gold, who according to Gold, did it in 30 minutes. It was a huge hit, knocking “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” from the top spot in America and staying for five weeks.

Here we have Elvis Presley, the undisputed king of rock and roll, singing a song with a traditional melody that sounds like something Dean Martin would record. It was quite a stretch for Elvis and also a challenge: in 1957 Frank Sinatra said, “When he goes into something serious, a bigger kind of singing, we’ll find out if he is a singer.”

This was one of 17 songs written by songwriter and producer Aaron Schroeder for Elvis. Others include “Stuck on You” and “A Big Hunk O’ Love” but this was the biggest hit that he penned for The King. Another familiar tune to many that he wrote was the theme song for the TV series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!

Schroeder also discovered, managed and directed the career of Gene Pitney and helped the young careers of acts like Jimi Hendrix and Barry White.

“O Sole Mio” was in the public domain in America, so the only songwriters credited are Aaron Schroeder and Wally Gold, who wrote the lyrics for Elvis to sing (earning a tidy sum for 30 minutes of work). In the UK, that song was still under copyright, which delayed its release until it could be cleared, with “O Sole Mio” composer Eduardo Di Capua added to the credits. This built up anticipation for the song, and when it was finally released in Britain, it racked up huge sales. “It’s Now Or Never” hit #1 on November 3, 1960 (two-and-a-half months after reaching the top in America), and stayed for eight weeks, the longest of any Elvis single.

Barry White heard this song in 1960 when he was in jail for stealing tires. The song had such an impact on White, that it convinced him to pursue a career in music.

And without further ado …

It’s Now Or Never

Elvis Presley

It’s now or never
Come hold me tight
Kiss me my darling
Be mine tonight

Tomorrow will be too late
It’s now or never
My love won’t wait

When I first saw you
With your smile so tender
My heart was captured
My soul surrendered

I spent a lifetime
Waiting for the right time
Now that you’re near
The time is here, at last

It’s now or never
Come hold me tight
Kiss me my darling
Be mine tonight

Tomorrow will be too late
It’s now or never
My love won’t wait

Just like a willow
We would cry an ocean
If we lost true love
And sweet devotion

Your lips excite me
Let your arms invite me
For who knows when
We’ll meet again this way

It’s now or never
Come hold me tight
Kiss me my darling
Be mine tonight

Tomorrow will be too late
It’s now or never
My love won’t wait

It’s now or never
My love won’t wait

It’s now or never
My love won’t wait
It’s now or never
My love won’t wait

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Aaron Schroeder / Wally Gold

It’s Now or Never (Bonus Tracks) lyrics © Gladys Music, Rachel’s Own Music, Universal Music Publishing Ricordi Srl., Abg Epe Gladys Music, Gladys Music Elvis Presley Enterprises Llc.

Industrial Dictatorship

I have many ‘pet peeves’ these days, one of which is the wealth inequality in this country.  It keeps growing and growing like an overfed toddler and while most people struggle to pay their bills and put food on the table, the 1% or so at the top laugh their way to their broker’s office to see just how much richer they are today than they were a month ago.  I’ve never heard it explained any better than Robert Reich does …

The three myths used by the ultra-wealthy to justify the ultra-wealthy

Robert Reich

29 September 2022

The stock market is down but don’t cry for America’s mega-billionaires. A record share of the nation’s wealth remains in their hands. They’re also paying a lower tax rate than the average American.

So how do they justify their wealth and their low tax rates? By using three myths. All are utter rubbish.

  1. The first is trickle-down economics. They (and their apologists) claim that their wealth trickles down to everyone else as they invest it and create jobs.

Really? For over forty years, as wealth at the top has soared, almost nothing has trickled down. Adjusted for inflation, the median wage today is barely higher than it was four decades ago. Trump provided a giant tax cut to the wealthiest Americans, promising it would generate $4,000 increased income for everyone else. Did you receive it?

In reality, the super-wealthy don’t create jobs or raise wages. Jobs are created when average working people earn enough money to buy all the goods and services they produce, forcing companies to hire more people and pay them higher wages.

  1. The second myth is the “free market.” The ultra-rich claim they’re being rewarded by the impersonal market for creating and doing what people are willing to pay them for. The wages of other Americans have stagnated, they say, because most Americans are worth less in the market now that new technologies and globalization have made their jobs redundant.

Baloney. Even if they’re being rewarded, there’s no reason why the “free market’ would reward vast multiples of what the rich were rewarded decades ago. The market can induce great feats of invention and entrepreneurialism with lures of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars — not billions. And as to the rest of us succumbing to labor-replacing globalization and labor-saving technologies, no other advanced nation has nearly the degree of inequality found in the United States, yet all these nations have been exposed to the same forces of globalization and technological change.

In reality, the ultra-wealthy have rigged the so-called “free market” in America for their own benefit.

Billionaires’ campaign contributions have soared from a relatively modest $31 million in the 2010 elections to $1.2 billion in the most recent presidential cycle — a nearly 40-fold increase. What have they got for their money? Tax cuts, freedom to bash unions and monopolize markets, and government bailouts. Their pockets have been further lined by privatization and deregulation.

  1. The third myth is that they’re superior human beings — rugged individuals who “did it on their own” and therefore deserve their billions.

Bupkis. Six of the 10 wealthiest Americans alive today are heirs to fortunes passed on to them by wealthy ancestors.

Others had the advantages that come with wealthy parents. Jeff Bezos’ garage-based start was funded by a quarter-million dollar investment from his parents. Bill Gates’s mother used her business connections to help land a software deal with IBM that made Microsoft.

Elon Musk came from a family that reportedly owned shares of an emerald mine in Southern Africa. (By the way, when I mentioned this in a recent video, Elon went nuts — tweeting that “You [sic] both an idiot and a liar.” Hmmm. Did I touch a nerve, Elon?)

Don’t fall for these three myths. Trickle-down economics is a cruel joke. The so-called “free market” has been distorted by huge campaign contributions from the ultra-rich. Don’t lionize the ultra-rich as superior “self-made” human beings who deserve their billions. They were lucky and had connections.

In reality, there’s no justification for today’s extraordinary concentration of wealth at the very top. It’s distorting our politics, rigging our markets, and granting unprecedented power to a handful of people.

The last time America faced anything comparable was at the start of the 20th century. In 1910, former President Theodore Roosevelt warned that “a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power” could destroy American democracy.

Roosevelt’s answer was to tax wealth. The estate tax was enacted in 1916, and the capital gains tax in 1922. Since that time, both have eroded. As the rich have accumulated greater wealth, they have also amassed more political power — and have used that political power to reduce their taxes.

Years later, Franklin D. Roosevelt saw the 1929 crash not only as a financial crisis but as an occasion to renegotiate the relationship between capitalism and democracy. Accepting renomination in 1936, he spoke of the need to redeem American democracy from the despotism of concentrated economic power.

“Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities,” he said, an “industrial dictatorship” now “reached out for control over Government itself. … [T]he political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor—other people’s lives… Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of Government. The collapse of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 1932 was the people’s mandate to end it.”

FDR gave workers the power to organize into labor unions, the 40-hour workweek (with time-and-a-half for overtime), Social Security, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation for injuries. He raised taxes on the top.

But since then, these reforms have also eroded.

The two Roosevelts understood something about the American economy and the ultra-rich that has now reemerged, even more extreme and more dangerous. We must understand it, too — and act.


By the way, here’s the new video that put Musk into a lather:

A Few Thursday Thoughts

Just a few things on my mind this afternoon …

This is a paragraph taken from an article in Foreign Affairs magazine about Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro …

“Days ahead of Brazil’s October 2 presidential election, the country is facing the most serious challenge to its democracy since its inception 37 years ago. President Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain, triumphed in 2018 amid a wave of anti-establishment sentiment but is now trailing in the polls in his showdown against former President Luiz Inácio da Silva, or Lula, as he is universally known. Confronted with probable defeat, Bolsonaro has made unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud and publicly insists that the only way the opposition can prevent him from winning a second term is by stealing the election. His rhetoric is finding favor among his supporters: of the roughly 50 million Brazilians who say they will vote for Bolsonaro, about one-quarter are so radicalized that they have told pollsters the president should not recognize the result if he loses.”

Does this somehow sound familiar to you?  Yeah, I thought it might.

“Bolsonaro was one of the last leaders in the world to congratulate Biden after he won the U.S. presidency. Indeed, as an avowed Trumpist, Bolsonaro has frequently suggested that the 2020 U.S. presidential election was stolen.”

This is an election I will be keeping an eye on, for it may be yet another nation, one relatively new to democracy, falling prey to populism, to an egocentric, malicious leader.

This morning I received this text message …

“Hello how  are you doing? I’m Ethan William 50 years  old and I’m a Business man but my pastor preached to us on this week Sunday about helping the needy, and it really touched so that’s why I’m here to help other for a little out of what I have, I’m texting you to see if you need some money to payoff bills or do some other things.Kindly reply me back on [phone number] I will be glad to help you out – [phone number]”

I was not only angry, but furious.  Why?  Because this person or group is preying on those who may be so desperate that they will grasp at any straw that is proffered.  Picture that you are a minimum wage worker struggling to pay the rent and feed your family and then one morning you get this text.  Okay, most everybody reading this will understand that this is a scam, that if you respond, you will be promised a monetary gift … just give them your bank account information and … POOF … like magic your account will be cleaned out!  But about half the people in this country may not understand that, may in fact read the text and think that their god has provided this saint to help them pay the rent that’s due in two days.

I promptly reported it as a scam, then deleted the text, but it angers me that some people, rather than seek an honest way to make a living, prey on those who are neediest.  For Pete’s Sake … they should go try to scam the corporate CEOs who can afford to lose a few million dollars and still be able to buy food!

The Nord Stream pipeline is a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea that runs from the Russian coast near St. Petersburg to north-eastern Germany.  On Monday, Danish and Swedish authorities detected underwater explosions in the Baltic Sea that breached the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines designed to carry gas from Russia to Germany.  The first explosion was recorded early Monday southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm, said Bjorn Lund, director of the Swedish National Seismic Network. A second, stronger blast northeast of the island that night was equivalent to a magnitude-2.3 earthquake.  All indications point to Russia as the instigator of the blasts.  Russia has a long history of using gas interruptions as a geopolitical tool. The Kremlin, predictably, denied any responsibility and blamed the U.S. government — as it has previously done for everything from the spread of AIDS during the 1980s to the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine in 2014 by a Russian missile battery.

But never fear … a solution is near {tongue-in-cheek} … and from none other than the twice-impeached former president of the United States on his social media site, Truth Social where there isn’t any truth to be found …

“U.S. “Leadership” should remain “cool, calm, and dry” on the SABOTAGE of the Nord Stream Pipelines. This is a big event that should not entail a big solution, at least not yet. The Russia/Ukraine catastrophe should NEVER have happened, and would definitely not have happened if I were President. Do not make matters worse with the pipeline blowup. Be strategic, be smart (brilliant!), get a negotiated deal done NOW. Both sides need and want it. The entire World is at stake. I will head up group???”

I don’t know whether to laugh or throw up.

♫ Sacrifice ♫

I last played this in 1920 and several readers said it was among their favourite Elton John songs, so since I’m tired and feeling a bit under the weather tonight, I thought it was a good time to redux it!

As is the case with most of Elton’s songs, the lyrics are by Bernie Taupin and the music by Elton.  It was inspired both by the Aretha Franklin song Do Right Woman, Do Right Man and described as a Percy Sledge song by Elton John.

This was released as a single in 1989, but stalled at #55 in the UK. Six months later it was revived in the UK by DJ Steve Wright, who began replaying it on his BBC Radio One afternoon show. He reported the great listener reaction to Rocket Records, which reissued it as a double A-side along with his previous release “Healing Hands,” which had also flopped in the UK. By mid-summer 1990, the single went to #1 in the UK, but only reached #18 in the U.S.

Actually, now that I think about it, it’s rather a sad song and I was hoping for one to give me good cheer.  Oh well.

Elton John

It’s a human sign
When things go wrong
When the scent of her lingers
And temptation’s strong

Into the boundary
Of each married man
Sweet deceit comes calling
And negativity lands

Cold, cold heart
Hard done by you
Some things look better, baby
Just passing through

And it’s no sacrifice
Just a simple word
It’s two hearts living
In two separate worlds
But it’s no sacrifice
No sacrifice
It’s no sacrifice at all

Mutual misunderstanding
After the fact
Sensitivity builds a prison
In the final act

We lose direction
No stone unturned
No tears to damn you
When jealousy burns

Cold, cold heart
Hard done by you
Some things look better, baby
Just passing through

And it’s no sacrifice
Just a simple word
It’s two hearts living
In two separate worlds
But it’s no sacrifice
No sacrifice
It’s no sacrifice at all

Cold, cold heart
Hard done by you
Some things look better, baby
Just passing through

And it’s no sacrifice
Just a simple word
It’s two hearts living
In two separate worlds
But it’s no sacrifice
No sacrifice
It’s no sacrifice at all

No sacrifice at all
No sacrifice at all
No sacrifice at all
No sacrifice at all

Songwriters: Bernie Taupin / Elton John
Sacrifice lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Election By Vote … Or By Violence?

At least two things I read yesterday chilled me to the bone.  The first was from a newsletter I receive via email written by Charlie Sykes in The Bulwark.  Here are a few snippets from his piece …

The January 6 Committee has postponed today’s hearing because of the massive Hurricane bearing down on Florida. But we have an idea what we were going to see.

The committee plans to show a video of Trump Whisperer Roger Stone enthusiastically declaring, “Fuck the voting, let’s get right to the violence,” even before the votes were counted in 2020.

“Shoot to kill. See an antifa? Shoot to kill. Fuck ’em. Done with this bullshit.”

The video clips obtained by CNN and were recorded by Danish filmmakers Frederik Marbell and Christoffer Guldbrandsen. In the clips Stone relishes the prospect of bloodshed.

Later that day, as The Post previously reported, Stone seemed to welcome the prospect of clashes with left-wing activists. As an aide spoke of driving trucks into crowds of racial justice protesters, Stone said: “Once there’s no more election, there’s no reason why we can’t mix it up. These people are going to get what they’ve been asking for.”

In one clip, Stone is seen telling MAGA supporters that they should declare victory on election night, no matter what the results showed. “I really do suspect it’ll still be up in the air,” Stone says. “When that happens, the key thing to do is to claim victory.”

The second chilling thing I read was from a CBS News report

“More than 18 months after the rioting at the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, an estimated 13 million U.S. adults, or 5% of the adult population, agree that force would be justified to restore former President Donald Trump to the White House and an estimated 15 million Americans believe force would be justified to prevent Trump from being prosecuted , should he be indicted for mishandling classified documents, according to a new study from the University of Chicago.” [Emphasis added]

I have written recently about the violence that seems to be becoming the norm in this country, how violence has never solved any problems, and how we simply must learn to think with our brains instead of our guns, fists, knives, etc.  But still, the bloodlust continues.  Why?

Do voices like those of Roger Stone, Donald Trump, and others who encourage violence really reach so far that tens of millions of people buy into their rhetoric?  Or perhaps phrasing it another way, are tens of millions of people really so ignorant as to fall prey to those like Stone, Trump and others?

This propensity for violence is made even more frightening when coupled with the number of guns that are in the hands of these same people.  There are approximately 436 million guns in the hands of civilians in the United States today.  For comparison purposes, there are approximately 332 million people in the U.S.  A few statistics here …

  • There are approximately 77.49 million adult gun owners in the US.
  • 2020 is believed to have had the highest number of firearm sales in history, with 39,695,315 background checks for the sale of firearms and explosives.
  • Approximately 30% of American adults own a gun.
  • Another 36% of adults could see themselves owning a gun in the future.
  • The average American gun owner owns five guns.
  • Personal protection is the most frequently cited reason for owning a gun.
  • Texas is the state with the most guns, while Delaware is the state with the least.
  • Wyoming is the state with the most guns per capita, while New York is the state with the fewest.
  • Handguns are the most commonly owned type of gun, followed by rifles, then shotguns.
  • Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to own a gun.

So, we have a Recipe for Disaster.

  • Preheat
    • national temperature by lying repeatedly until large numbers of people believe the lies
  • Combine ingredients
    • Lies that Democrats are ‘coming to take away your guns’
    • Lies that LGBTQ people are somehow evil and are trying to take over your children’s minds
    • Lies that Black people are inferior and are trying to take over the nation
    • Lies that immigrants are criminals who will rob, kill and rape peoples’ families
    • Rhetoric shouted by politicians and their hired guns
  • Bake at escalating temperature until November 8th

I have to ask myself, as I’m sure some of you have asked yourselves, is this really a nation I want to live in, to be a part of?  If the few can have dominance over the many, and if those few are willing to shoot the rest of us to have their way, can this country really be said to be a democracy?  The answer to that is no, a democracy is …

“A system of government by the whole population, typically through elected representatives, by the majority of its members.”

By that definition, the United States is not a democracy when far too many of its members are kept from having a voice through various voter suppression ‘laws’, and currently the minority is planning to take over by hook or by crook.

History has shown that a foundation built on violence, built on robbing people of their rights, is not sustainable for long.  We have an opportunity in November to ensure those who support such treachery as proposed by the likes of Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon and others never happens.  Or, we can sit back and tell ourselves the fairy tale that it will all somehow work out in the long run.  Your choice.

Reinforcement of why a person left the GOP

Today our friend Keith shares an article that clearly defines the major difference today between the two major parties in the U.S. This is a ‘must-read’ for those who would claim there is no difference between the two parties or for those who still believe the GOP is a viable, functional political party. Thanks, Keith


The following is an interesting article that furthers the message of my previous and earlier posts over my concerns for the Republican party called “I left the GOP because it seemed to be losing it way. Last week convinced me I was right” by Kurt Bardella of NBC News.

Here are few excerpts from the piece. The full article can be linked to below.

“I don’t think I’ve recently experienced a span of days that quite so neatly captures the difference betweenbeing a Democrat and being a Republicanin today’s America.

Last week began with the GOP’s wannabe standard-bearer,Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, using human beingsas political props for acraven publicity stuntdesigned to stoke right-wing outrage toward migrants.

Then, the current Republican Party standard-bearer found himself in even more legal hot water after theNew York attorney general’s lawsuitalleging Trump and his eldest children committed…

View original post 425 more words

♫ The Long And Winding Road♫ (Redux)

This is a redux from one I played back in 2020 … eons ago! 

Tonight’s selection is strange, in that it is a Beatles recording, yet while it reached the #1 spot in the U.S., it did not chart in the Beatles home country, the UK!  For me, at least, this is one of those that can get stuck in my head for days at a time, for I mostly love the tune, never knew the full lyrics until tonight!

From their 1970 album Let It Be, this was written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney.  The road McCartney is talking about is the B842 which runs down the east coast of Kintyre and on into Campbeltown near his Scottish farmhouse.  Says McCartney …

“I just sat down at my piano in Scotland, started playing and came up with that song, imagining it was going to be done by someone like Ray Charles. I have always found inspiration in the calm beauty of Scotland and again it proved the place where I found inspiration.”

Paul McCartney offered this song to Tom Jones in 1968 on the condition it be his next single. He had Without Love (There is Nothing) set for release so he turned down the offer, something he would later regret. Speaking with Media Wales in 2012, Jones explained:

“I saw him (McCartney) in a club called Scotts Of St. James on Jermyn Street in London. I said to him When are you going to write me a song then Paul? He said, aye I will then. Then not long after he sent a song around to my house, which was ‘The Long And Winding Road,’ but the condition was that I could do it but it had to be my next single.

Paul wanted it out straight away. At that time I had a song called ‘Without Love’ that I was going to be releasing. The record company was gearing up towards the release of it. The timing was terrible, but I asked if we could stop everything and I could do ‘The Long And Winding Road.’ They said it would take a lot of time and it was impractical, so I ended up not doing it. I was kicking myself. I knew it was a strong song.”

The Beatles recorded this in January 1969 as a fairly simple ballad. By 1970, The Beatles were breaking up and and Phil Spector was brought in to go through the tapes and produce the album. Spector was known for his “Wall Of Sound” recording technique, where he added many instruments and layered the tracks to create a very full sound. On this track, he took out most of The Beatles instruments and added a string section and choir (The Mike Sammes Singers). The result was very different from what the group originally had in mind.

Even though he wrote this song, Paul McCartney didn’t go to the sessions where Spector produced it. When McCartney heard the results, he made it clear that he hated what Spector did to his song, and tried to get the original version, which was mixed by engineer Glyn Johns, on the album. The band was already falling apart, and this caused further turmoil within the group, as Harrison and Lennon both supported Spector. Paul has not changed his stance over the years, and still believes Spector butchered it. Lennon and Harrison felt otherwise, and each had Spector produce their next solo efforts. Lennon said of Spector’s work on Let It Be:

“Phil was given the s–ttiest load of badly recorded s–t with a lousy feeling to it, and he made something of it.”

Some of the many artists who covered this song: Tony Bennett, George Benson, Cilla Black, Ray Charles, Cher, Judy Collins, Peter Frampton, Aretha Franklin, Richie Havens, Cissy Houston, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Liberace, The London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Manilow, Mantovani, Johnny Mathis, Bill Medley, George Michael, Olivia Newton-John, Billy Ocean, Stu Phillips, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Kevin Rowland, Sarah Vaughan, Andy Williams and Nancy Wilson.  Whew … that’s quite a list!

In an interview shortly before he became British Prime Minister, after five years as Leader of the Opposition, David Cameron told Q magazine that this is his favorite Paul McCartney song. He explained:

“It has a wonderful melody and emotion and pretty much sums up the life of the Leader of the Opposition.”

The Long and Winding Road
The Beatles

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to you door

The wild and windy night
That the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears
Crying for the day
Why leave me standing here?
Let me know the way

Many times I’ve been alone
And many times I’ve cried
Anyway, you’ll never know
The many ways I’ve tried

And still they lead me back
To the long winding road
You left me standing here
A long, long time ago
Don’t leave me waiting here
Lead me to your door

But still they lead me back
To the long winding road
You left me standing here
A long, long time ago
Don’t keep me waiting here
Lead me to your door

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
The Long and Winding Road lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Good People Doing Good Things — Young Ones

This week’s good people are young people … the future of our world … who have discovered the value of giving, of caring, of sharing, and … well, of being good people.

First, please meet Lawrence Wang, age 16 who lives in Edison, New Jersey.  Lawrence has first-hand knowledge of the issues that asylum-seeking groups face, from facing delays in their documentation status to being incarcerated for unjust reasons. As a recent immigrant to the United States, he resonated with the precarious situation that groups such as refugees face on a daily basis. After doing some research, Lawrence found that there were few assistance organizations for refugees and asylum seekers, leaving these two vulnerable groups without easy access to information and resources. To ensure refugees and asylum seekers have adequate support in the community, Lawrence created the Refugee Youth Enrichment Initiative.

The Refugee Youth Enrichment Initiative is a nonprofit that directly works with and advocates for refugees in Edison, New Jersey. Lawrence and his team of youth volunteers also raise awareness about the unique challenges experienced by refugees and asylum seekers through a podcast where community leaders who work in the field speak about their experiences and how others can provide support. Because refugees and asylum seekers often arrive in a new country with limited funds, clothing, and other necessities, fundraisers are a key component of the Initiative’s work—their first event, a 5K walk, had over 100 participants.

Lawrence credits the Refugee Youth Enrichment Initiative’s success to a team of passionate and dedicated youth volunteers as well as local community-serving organizations, including resettlement centers, food banks, and shelters. Since New Jersey is one of the main hotspots for refugees, he hopes that other communal-minded youth will start their own refugee assistance organizations. Lawrence understands that there are other prominent issues that are present in society, so even if youth are interested in different issues, that they lead similar efforts in their own communities.

Arianna Fields, age 15, lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  For Arianna, community service is one of the best ways to teach empathy and, by extension, acceptance of others. When brainstorming ways to teach and show empathy to others, Arianna realized that when she didn’t feel well, having support from others always made her feel better. While Arianna’s experiences feeling unwell were brief, they led her to think about youth in hospitals who were undergoing long-term care and she knew she wanted to support others her age and younger who were regularly sick or suffering from severe illnesses.

With the support of a Hershey Heartwarming Young Hero grant and in partnerships with Prime Time Education, Putnam City High School, and John Glenn Elementary, Arianna launched the “Bee Kind” initiative this past Spring. Her project involved creating care packages for youth at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital and their families. After hosting a discussion about kindness, Arianna worked with 3rd grade students to create cards with messages of care and support that would be included in the packages. The cards, along with books, games, and a bee bracelet were packed by student-athletes at Arianna’s high school. In total, students made and delivered 120 care packages.

A few surprises popped up while Arianna and her peers were participating in her project. Once things were underway, Arianna found out from one of her school’s coaches that they had a friend whose son was a patient at the hospital the care packages were being donated to. The friend spoke about her son’s and their family’s story, giving the students a clear idea about the impact they were making and helping volunteers feel a closer connection to what they were doing. Additionally, Arianna initially planned on engaging her volleyball teammates as project volunteers. When other athletes learned about Arianna’s idea, they wanted to help and joined the Bee Kind project. The student athletes also shared that after participating, they were inspired and wanted to find other ways they could give pack to the community!

Although her Bee Kind project has been completed, Arianna is already looking to the future and planning new ways to give back while supporting ongoing initiatives across Oklahoma City.

And last but not least is Lena Franklin, 23, of Jamaica, New York.  Lena is a lover of books and was disappointed when she noticed that many of her fellow special education students did not have access to books that they wanted to read. Thinking about the books she had at home and how her peers might enjoy them as much as she did, Lena began sharing her books with her classmates. Shortly after, Lena was gifted a small bookshelf that was filled with books, kicking off Lena’s Library and her goal of distributing free books to ensure youth have books to read and help foster a love of reading for everyone.

Since Lena’s Library was started in 2015, Lena began to think of ways she could provide books for others even though she was no longer in the classroom where her idea began. With the help of her mom, Lena took Lena’s Library on the road, setting up at her church, parks, and local events. She even hosted a library at a New York Knicks game! Lena tries to pick books that are relevant to different age groups as well as those that connect to the events where her Library is. One of Lena’s favorite things about her work is that unlike a traditional library, youth get to keep their Lena’s Library books.

Over the past seven years, Lena’s Library has given away hundreds of books, magazines, and other reading materials to both youth and adults! Lena has also partnered with food distribution and COVID vaccination groups to provide books to people as they wait in line or as a means of relieving stress from the day-to-day. While Lena’s work has helped countless members of her community, she has also grown and become a better reader. As she continues to inspire readers, she hopes others with intellectual disabilities will find their confidence to take action and make a difference.

It should give us all some hope in these rather dark days to know that we are putting our future into the hands of young people like these … people who care about others and are willing to do something to make the world a little bit better place.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Yesterday was International Day For The Total Elimination Of Nuclear Weapons.  No, I am not making this up and yes, I am serious.

Following the High-level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament held at the United Nations on 26 September 2013, the General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/68/32 calling for “the urgent commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament for the early conclusion of a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons to prohibit their possession, development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use and to provide for their destruction.”

Resolution 68/32 also declares 26 September “as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons devoted to furthering this objective, including through enhancing public awareness and education about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the necessity for their total elimination, in order to mobilize international efforts towards achieving the common goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world”.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that I am against any and all sorts of weapons.  I would happily see guns removed from the hands of all civilians.  I consider the invention of nuclear weapons to be the single worst invention of humankind.  So, my ears perked when I saw the title of this day, but then my brain kicked in and I wanted to say, “Quit talking about it, stop patting yourselves on the back for creating an “International Day”, and just DO SOMETHING about it!!!”  But, of course, that is easier said than done, for it requires leaders of nations to set aside their fears and join together for the sake of all life on Planet Earth.

From the United Nations website

Achieving global nuclear disarmament is one of the oldest goals of the United Nations. It was the subject of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946, which established the Atomic Energy Commission (dissolved in 1952), with a mandate to make specific proposals for the control of nuclear energy and the elimination of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction. The United Nations has been at the forefront of many major diplomatic efforts to advance nuclear disarmament since. In 1959, the General Assembly endorsed the objective of general and complete disarmament. In 1978, the first Special Session of the General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament further recognized that nuclear disarmament should be the priority objective in the field of disarmament. Every United Nations Secretary-General has actively promoted this goal.

Okay, so they’ve been at it for 76 years and today there are still approximately 12,705 nuclear weapons and …

While the number of deployed nuclear weapons has appreciably declined since the height of the Cold War, not one nuclear weapon has been physically destroyed pursuant to a treaty. In addition, no nuclear disarmament negotiations are currently underway.

Let me tell you a little story that some of you may remember …

On September 26, 1983, Stanislav Petrov, then Lieutenant Colonel of the Soviet Air Force made a decision that prevented a nuclear war between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the United States.

The USSR’s satellite missile detection system issued the alarm that the United States had launched five nuclear missiles into the territory of the USSR. The alert required an immediate response. The USSR had only a few minutes to decide whether to launch nuclear missiles at the United States in retaliation or to wait and risk devastating damage. This decision was in the hands of Petrov who noticed that the conventional radar system did not detect any nuclear missile and chose to break the military protocol. Despite opposition from its command team, Petrov ignored the alert of the new missile detection system of the USSR. He disobeyed the chain of command and preferred not to respond to the alleged attack.

The supposed launching of the North American missiles turned out to be a false alarm, it was an error of the USSR missile detection system. Had the USSR responded to the alleged attack, the United States, in turn, might have launched a nuclear strike in retaliation, provoking an untold number of deaths and major disasters. Petrov’s decision not to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike saved hundreds of millions of lives around the world.

That time, a cooler head prevailed and a catastrophe of great magnitude was averted, but what about next time?

While I applaud the intent for this international day, I would cheer if progress were being made, but it seems to me that it is more talk than anything.  With escalating tensions around the globe today, I believe it is only a matter of time before somebody gets trigger-happy, or an accident happens that will change the landscape of all nations forever.  The road to peace, if such a road exists, will be paved with tolerance, understanding, and compassion … not with nuclear weapons!