Special BlogCast: Super Toons for Tonight’s Super Moon

 

December’s full moon, on this very night, is known as a super moon because it’ll appear 7% larger and 16% brighter than normal.

Not to worry if Mother Nature drops the cloudy curtains down on your night skies… she’ll offer up a couple of encore performances… on the world stage… come January 2018… the first to occur on the 1st and the second on the 31st (within the Eastern U.S. time zone… dates may vary by one day in your locale).

Of course, anytime there are two full moons in the same month, the second is a.k.a. a blue moon… even though there’s no actual blue hue involved.

ADDENDUM: Mere minutes ago, I stepped outside to witness the moonrise… which reminded me to remind you that seeing the moon on the horizon offers up an optical illusion, which makes this super moon appear even larger. If you’d like to see such a super, super moon, I’d advise you to go online to check for your local moonrise time and then look to the east. Believe me… weather permitting… there’s no possible way you can miss it!

I’m offering up the following mood enhancing, mini, Moon Toons soundtrack to help usher in this evening’s event.

 

Chenille Sisters ~ Howlin’ At The Moon

Tom Paxton ~ Looking For The Moon

Andy Williams ~ Moon River

Ray Charles ~ Moonlight In Vermont

If you LIKED what you heard, click back for my next scheduled BlogCast on Sunday, December 24, 2017… btw, you never know when there’ll be an unscheduled program (or more) along the way… so “stay tuned”.

You can also find past programs archived in my BlogCasts and music categories.

 

 

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Political Peeing Takes the “P” Out of the EPA

In the nearly half century since our very first, eye-opening Earth Day in 1970, the efforts we humans have taken towards saving our planet… saving our very lives… have been mere baby steps… i.e., insufficient to shallow out humankinds’ overall, deep, damaging carbon footprint.

And, as far as the new administration in DC is concerned… it is not concerned.

#45 and Scott Pruitt, his likeminded, malicious, handpicked Environmental Protection Agency stooge are both notorious climate change deniers, who are hell bent on greedily prioritizing currency’s green over naturally preserving chlorophyll’s green.

Instead of working diligently towards cleaning and greening the Earth, their negligence their premeditated outright, malfeasance can only serve to totally muck up our world. Ironic how politically peeing everything up can manage to take the “P” out of the EPA… and in the end… take out the Earth.

Well, Earth Day 2017 has now come and gone, but the frequent, freaky, ferocious weather strongly linked to climate change / global warming is here to stay. Admittedly, devastating hurricanes, tornados, wind-rain-snow-ice storms, lighting, flooding and droughts predate #45. Even so, it is his flat-out refusal to take any meaningful steps towards resolving this problem, which makes him a YUGE [sic] part of the problem. Stated more bluntly, some would brand him an environmental terrorist and all I can say is there’ll be no steps taken in this blog to refute such a claim.

In short, Mother Nature, who takes a dim view on all such dim “leaders”, is now fighting back… and… in the end… will win. If mankind won’t stand down, her attacking storms will intensify until she wipes us out… along with the very same, dirty, environmentally damaging technology that made our assault upon her possible.

My following true story comes straight from the frontlines of the Michigan battlefield…

Packing sustained wind speeds of 40 mph and gusts exceeding 6O mph, Mother Nature was certainly venting her anger. She had timed everything out, perfectly, so it would barrel down upon a vast area of North America on International Women’s Day Wednesday, March 8, 2017. And she did have good reason to be PO’d.

While far too many righties all across America would hotly deny it, manmade global warming / climate change was playing a major role in this threatening weather event. Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa likened these forces to a Category 2 Hurricane.

This past January’s political climate change in Washington, DC was not helping matters much, either. Indeed, now calling all the shots… stepping onto the world stage we could see #45, full of bluster and hot air, thoughtlessly and gleefully stomping his YUGE [sic] “Size 45”, carbon footprints all across our nation… all over our planet.

I’d have to concur with Torregrossa’s post storm assessment. While I’ve witnessed such destructive winds during my three score and two years, this had been associated with severe thunderstorms… the type usually occurring on sultry, sweltering summer days when clashing cold fronts spawn excessively strong gales… if not the actual tornados. But I could not recall ever experiencing such relentless, overpowering gusts on an otherwise sunshiny, March day… not even as a kite flying young boy. Yep, the tempest of 2017 was nothing like my windswept days of yore.

One needn’t have been clairvoyant to sense an imminent power outage… one that would render my natural gas fired furnace useless. Since it’d be far better to start out a late wintertime blackout with indoor temps of 70° vs. my usual, Spartan 58° Fahrenheit living conditions, it was time to become proactive. Starting around 10 a.m., with each successive heating cycle, I began gradually nudging my humble home’s thermostat upward by three degrees.

It was during my furnace’s second run that the power did go out… but, within mere minutes, it came back on. Had some power grid substation’s breaker “smartly” kicked in to isolate an adjacent circuit failure… thereby sparing me? Or had a soon-to-be, doomed-to-be downed power line simply, temporarily, arced back to reconnect?

Well, it was along about 3 p.m. when, all the sudden, my luck ran out. With an indoor temperature reading of 68° the power had failed once more. Would I be getting a second reprieve?

With each successive tick of my battery powered, quartz wall clock, inside… with each roaring wind gust, outside… where no restoration occurred, I began to feel that sinking feeling intensify and take root. That clock and wind were now the only sounds in town.

A quick inventory of my tech offered me some consolation. I could add my landline’s dial tone to my short list of familiar sounds. A rapidly fired off test text to my sister (to apprise her of my situation) and her reply meant the cell towers were still up and running, too. Of course, I already knew my laptop’s house current dependent modem would be dead as a doornail and my connection to the www would be severed for the duration.

With only about three hours of useful daylight remaining, I headed off to the kitchen to salvage whatever perishable refrigerated foods I could. Striking a match to ignite all four burners of my natural gas cooktop would not only allow me to cook but also keep my home warm. Shortly after cooking up a storm, I treated myself to a sit down, dining room table supper where I’d be gorging on ten… yep count ‘em… ten scrambled eggs sided with bacon and washed down with freshly brewed coffee. Within minutes, I had scarfed down quantities that would normally take me several weeks to consume. As for any other items that needed to stay cold, my car’s trunk had suddenly been upgraded into a makeshift refrigerator / freezer.

The changeover to Daylight Savings Time still being several days away, darkness descended far too soon requiring a flashlight to finish the kitchen cleanup. Fortunately, my no house current required, gas fired water heater could still supply all the hot water I needed.

A battery-powered radio tuned to my local NPR station, one that truly provides a valuable community service to its listeners, apprised us of the dire situation. Long news story short… of my state’s 10 million population, I was amongst the 1 million citizens cast into darkness by this massive power outage… one my energy provider later deemed the worst, most massive power failure in their 114-year history.

Conserving battery power being paramount, I soon silenced my radio. To entertain and cheer myself up a bit, I sat down at my piano in nearly total darkness. After locating “middle C”, I stuck to performing songs with “C” key signatures (those that didn’t require black key flats and sharps). As my playing got better, I added songs with “F”, “G” and “Bb” signatures… those with only minimal black keys in their scales. At that point I could truly appreciate the accomplishments of blind keyboard geniuses such as Stevie Wonder and the late Ray Charles… had a better sense of the obstacles these pianists had so completely and adeptly overcome.

After that? It was time to don my amateur astronomer cap and step outside. With such a vast area blacked out, viewing the night sky as Ma Nature had intended, was truly one of this outage’s brighter moments… darker moments. For a moment I had even considered hauling out my 90mm Refractor Telescope but several sudden wind gusts soon changed my mind. I could not risk such forces toppling and crashing it to the ground. And, as fate would have it, hours later… once the winds eventually did die down… that’s when the clouds promptly came rolling in.

With not much else to do after that, I turned in for the night. With my down parka serving as a makeshift pajama top and several extra blankets piled on, my own body heat had now become my auxiliary “furnace”. I did wind up getting several extra hours of sleep since there was little point of trying to cook my breakfast in the dark hours before daybreak.

Oatmeal, coffee, bread (untoasted) and jam were on the menu and once that meal was history I went out to my garage to retrieve most of the food from my car’s trunk. I’d need to rewrap certain items into individual portions because new weather forecasts were reporting that by the next nightfall, the temps would be dipping to the 15° F mark.

Well, 23 hours after the power failure had begun, just as I was texting my blackout update to my sister, the living room lamp came back on and I thanked my lucky stars that I had finally left the Dark Ages behind me. After waiting a few moments to be really sure this was over, I began plugging sensitive equipment back in and flipping circuit breaker panel switches back to their on positions. Getting my furnace roaring back to life was now top priority… the indoor temp had dropped from 68° to 57°.

Considering how it would take the power companies an additional eight days to fully restore electricity to all of their customers… and how there would be many subsequent nights where the temps would be bitter cold… dangerously cold… to have escaped all of that misery made me amongst the lucky few.

In the days that followed, while walking through my lifelong hometown, there was one ground zero battlefield, in particular, that was truly startling and thought provoking… a huge tree that had to have been over one hundred years old got toppled in one of the parks I frequent. In fact, it had crash-landed within mere feet of my favorite park bench… the spot where I normally sit to view the oncoming river… one of its major branches slightly denting the backrest.

I suspect that decades worth of acid rain, coupled with the unnatural, bright sodium and mercury vapor city street lights altered the way this tree grew… structurally weakening it until the windstorm could easily send it crashing to the ground.

This recent, humbling experience has once again reminded me of Mother Nature’s resounding message / wake up call… namely that we humans had better clean up our act before it’s too late. We need to be taking environmentally sound giant steps forward but that would require sound minded leadership and good stewardship of our planet… and… I ask… does that sound anything even remotely like an apt description of #45?

Going to California… in my mind (pt. 1)

Just as James Taylor sings about going to “Carolina In My Mind”, I now find myself blogging in a similar state of mind. The differences beyond the fact that J.T. is famous and I am not? Well… the state I’m longing for is California AND I’ll be blogging my words, not playing musical notes, to tell you just how homesick I am for the Golden State… but wait a moment…

Maybe it is possible to set my blog to music. After all… I did train to be a DJ. Folks, we’ll get those tunes spinning… after this brief message…

Here’s the backstory to my homesickness. It’s been ten+ years since I last set foot in La La Land to attend a family reunion for two… yes… essentially… my sister and I represent our entire family census… not counting distant relatives (who I could walk right past on any city street on any given day… and never know it).

By now I can hear you ask, “Ten+ years? Why wait any longer? Why not simply book a flight, pack up your bags and board the next westward bound jet?” Long sigh…

Well… since my last trip to the Left Coast… so much has happened… and not all those events would get entered into the plus column of my Life’s Ledger. To CliffsNotes it… there’s been a reversal of my good fortune… both money-wise and otherwise.

Naturally, I am thankful for reasonably good health, the roof over my head and the bare essential furnishings, devices and supplies under that roof… but… nonetheless… another long sigh… I do miss California. And I don’t feel it odd for this lifelong Michiganian to consider the greater Los Angeles area to be my home away from home.

Now… I do have one regret re my past visits… that I had only done my en route sightseeing from my widow seat at an altitude of 38,000 feet… instead of through my car’s windshield while traveling America’s highways and byways. But… what’s done is done.

And so… I’ll just have to settle for going to California in my mind ~ To be sure, no trip would be complete without first producing a “mix tape” featuring great road songs. To that end… I recently produced two C-90 cassettes to enhance my imaginary western journey… and at this time… there’s also a third project in the works (Volume 3 to feature a more hard driving rock genre).

As for this blog… I’ll be sharing my Volume 1 soundscape with you. Whether or not a similar posting for Volume 2 and 3 will occur is highly dependent on the number of hits and comments this blog receives.

A brief heads up… since this music is all courtesy of YouTube… from time to time there are bound to be interruptions of musical service.

For starters… these videos do frequently get deleted due to artist objections / copyright issues. Lastly… there are all of those commercials, which YouTubers tack on. But… what the H… “To dance to the music we must pay the piper”… right?

BESIDES… would not these gaps also enhance the realism of the road trip? Imagine this as if your car radio has temporarily lost a drifting, low wattage AM signal… something easily remedied by switching stations… i.e., clicking onto the next link. Also consider each commercial interruption as being akin to what we hear on AM top-40 formatted stations… as we all know… they’re oft forced to overbook advertisers… simply to pay for the electricity to stay on the air.

On a more positive note… since some of these YouTube videographers have poured a vast ocean’s worth of their talent into the visual aspects of their productions… it’s easy to trip out while viewing these scenes… thus making our going to Carolina OR California in our minds all the better… OR for that matter, anywhere else our l’il ol’ hearts may desire.

Replicated below is my liner notes printout, which I cut out and inserted into my “Volume 1” cassette’s case.

Well, that about covers the preliminaries… Without any further ado… everyone pack your bags, lock up your home sweet homes, kick the tires, adjust your rear view mirrors and car seats, buckle up, turn the key in your ignitions, get ‘er in gear and KICK OUT THE JAMS!!! We’ll soon find out if the Moody Blues gents got it right… that “Thinking is the best way to travel.”

To now paraphrase a Lennon/McCartney sentiment… let’s  listen to the music playing in my head… and… hopefully… in yours, too!

 

Hit The Road Tracks – Volume 1

SIDE A: 02/29/16 ~ DOLBY B ~ 46:30

01 2:51 Canned Heat – Going Up The Country

02 2:42 Vanity Fair – Hitchin’ A Ride

03 4:27 Janis Joplin – Me & Bobby McGee

04 4:13 Judy Collins – City Of New Orleans

05 2:41 Boz Scaggs – Waiting For A Train

06 3:16 Norah Jones – The Long Way Home

07 2:26 Roger Miller – King Of The Road

08 3:00 Natalie Cole – Route 66

09 1:09 Nelson Riddle – Route 66 TV Theme

10 2:11 Ray Charles – California Here I Come

11 4:15 James Newton Howard / Kenny G. – Driving North

12 3:56 Roy Orbison – California Blue

13 3:36 Led Zeppelin – Going To California

14 2:11 James Newton Howard – San Francisco

15 2:58 Scott McKenzie – San Francisco

16 1:09 Nelson Riddle – Route 66 (Reprise)

 

SIDE B: 02/29/16 ~ DOLBY B ~ 46:30

17 5:38 Refreshments – Interstate

18 4:23 Eagles – Ol’ 55

19 3:42 Bob Seger – Wait For Me

20 2:59 Lobo – Me And You And A Dog Named Boo

21 3:46 Gordon Lightfoot – Me & Bobby McGee

22 4:06 America – A Horse With No Name

23 3:28 James Taylor – Country Road (Single Mix)

24 3:35 Simon & Garfunkel – America

25 2:44 Lovin’ Spoonful – Never Going Back

26 4:33 Arlo Guthrie – City Of New Orleans

27 4:17 Neil Diamond – America

28 3:36 Ray Charles – America The Beautiful