Thank you

Dionne Warwick’s twin

Thank you. If you’re reading this, I want you to know that I appreciate that.

I’m thankful to see the folks at church. Singing in the choir is excellent. I attend weekly library book reviews. These might seem mundane, but after COVID, I’m not taking anything for granted.

There are lots of stories about people feeling isolated. They may be working remotely, or the busyness of life precludes them from seeing their friends and colleagues. I watched one of the morning news anchors pledge to see a friend once weekly because she doesn’t see her buds nearly enough. One needs to be intentional about these things, if at all possible.

I’m happy that I seem still curious about some things I don’t know about. At the same time, I can appreciate whatever small victories I’ve achieved in life without becoming that guy in the Springsteen song Glory Days.

Discovering and often rediscovering music I play on my CD player continues to bring extraordinary joy beyond what I can coherently describe.

I’m thankful I saw many movies, concerts, and theatrical performances this year. I didn’t mention that my wife and I saw Tennesssee Williams’  Glass Menagerie at the Bridge  Street Theatre in Catskill, NY, in early October. The Times Union review headline called it “shatteringly good.”

That’s What Friends Are For

Thanks to those I’ve loved who have passed on. Particularly the one who shared a birthday with Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, Sheila E., and Dan Baird. I doubt she knew who the latter two were, but she hated Sinatra, probably for that Rat Pack vibe. Somehow, I never realized until recently that she and Dionne Warwick, who was OK in her book, were born on the very same day.

Thanks to my blogger buddies, especially the Kiwi and the Bison, and condolences again to the latter upon the death of his mother. Also, thanks to my terrestrial friends, acquaintances, sisters, favorite daughter, and wife.

That is all. Well, except for some Sly. I need to prepare to eat some turkey. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday Stealing – Thanksgiving


JFK Thanksgiving Day proclamation 1963
JFK Thanksgiving Day Proclamation 1963

This week’s quiz from the League of Extraordinary Penpals is Sunday Stealing- Thanksgiving, which is coming up in the United States on Thor’s Day.

1. People I’d like to thank and why

Too many. But thanks to Jeff Sharlet, author of The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War, whom I’ve known since he was six, for our breakfast on Saturday; KD, whom I’ve known since kindergarten, for our breakfast on Friday; and the Bible Guys, with whom I had breakfast on Thursday.

2. Something I rebelled against as a kid

Wearing ties. I was right; they’re legalized nooses.

3. What I need to accomplish before the end of the year

I have a reimbursement program for my medical expenses. I must submit them, and it is an extraordinarily tedious process, but I need the money, well over $1000.

4. Guilty pleasures right now

I don’t believe in them. Guilt is highly overrated. BTW, I’m presently listening to ABBA.

5. Local landmarks

Nipper. There are others, such as the skyline, but the dog is among the most iconic.

6. Cause or purpose I deeply believe in

I attended a panel discussion this week about book bans and challenges. Someone read a list of some of the most challenged books. As a retired librarian, I find the activity deeply unsettling, especially as these actions are often stirred up by a group not even in the communities.

No can do

7. Things I never learned to do

Type, drive, or enjoy beets.

8. Seasonal traditions I’m always excited for

My wife has three days off from work in a row.

9. Something I’d like to be mentored on

Genealogy. I’m trying to find my great-grandmother’s birth certificate, Margaret (or Marguerite) Collins Williams (May 1865-August 8, 1931), and find her parents’ names. They are not on her death certificate.

10. Exotic animals I wish I could keep as pets

Goats. They could mow our lawn, and I’d lend them to the neighbors.

11. Something normal to me that might be odd to others

I always hear music, even when it’s not playing.

12. The last book I quit reading and why

Possibly Brothers In Arms by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anthony Walton because I got busy. I may return to it because Morgan Freeman has executive produced a documentary about the  761st Tank Battalion: The Original Black Panthers that should be on the History Channel. The Kareem book is about that very entity.

13. Right now, I appreciate…

Good mass transit in Albany, NY. Thanks, CDTA. The Purple Line buses were free for the first two weeks, ending today.

Not ready for Christmas

14. When “the holiday season” starts for me

December 1 is when Kelly starts his Daily Dose of Christmas. It does NOT begin on November 1, even though the TV ads want me to think so.

15. Holiday foods and treats I love the most

I like fruit pies. Not so much pumpkin but apple or cherry.

16. “Terrible” movies that I actually like

Reefer Madness, which I haven’t seen since college. The Albany preview of Howard The Duck was sponsored by FantaCo, the comic book store where I worked.

17. Cooking all day for holiday dinner vs. ordering carry-out

We’ll probably have food prepared by others.

18. If I were trapped in a holiday movie, I’d pick…

Miracle on 34th Street. I’ve only seen it once, so I would tire of it less quickly.

19. Which holiday tradition I wish lasted all year long

A perhaps insincere attempt at civility.

20. Favorite books, music, TV, and movies this month

Music: whose birthday is this month? Randy Newman, Jimi Hendrix, Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals, Berry Gordy (Motown compilations). TV: football, recorded, which I can watch in about 70 minutes

Thankful for a lot of stuff

all y’all

thanks for a lot of stuffI don’t think I do the Thanksgiving thing exceptionally well. I really am thankful for a lot of stuff, but it always feels like I offer the same thing as I said some recent year.

So I will attempt to be as specific as possible, at least this year.

I am thankful…

…that there has been a series of COVID vaccines and treatments, so when my wife, daughter, and I all got COVID at the end of August, it was annoying and a bit uncomfortable. But it wasn’t awful, and certainly not life-threatening for us.

…that my daughter’s late start at college – because of the aforementioned COVID – did not seem to hinder her adjustment

… for all of the people who provided transportation in October, including Dan, Lee, Eric, Deb, Phillip, Jon, and Bruce; especially Bruce

… for all the food assistance, specifically Dan, Tracy, and Miriam

… for all the prayers and well-wishes, too numerous to mention, though I must note Karen and Mark

… for my sisters Leslie and Marcia, who helped me with trying to excavate new insights about our parents, especially our mother


…for the choir, including Michael, Trevor, Jerry, and even the altos (I jest!), particularly Fiona, and for the opportunity to make a joyful noise

… for Jon and Gene, who put together good programming each week at the Albany Public Library, and for Jon (different Jon), who made me look good with his presentation, which I booked

… for my Wordle buddies, such as David, Matthew, Jeanne, Chas, Andrew, oh, and Carol

… for those many people I’ve gotten to know online, such as Arthur, Kelly, Gus, Erica, Eddie, and even Greg – or gotten to rekindle relationships, including but not limited to Alison, Alberta, and Bill

… for my daughter, who lets me put my librarian skills to work now and then

… for my wife, even though she almost always beats me at Boggle

I could go on. The problem with making a list is that I exclude people like Rebecca, Alex,  Paul, Mary Liz, Glenn, Adam, Tony, my other church friends, and my hearts friends… As Yul Brynner used to say, “et cetera, et cetera.”

Thanks songs, for Thanksgiving

from Beatles to Boyz II Men

Thanksgiving is coming, so I thought I’d link to some thanks songs. All cuts are in my physical music collection.

Thank You Girl – The Beatles, #35 pop in 1964, as the B-side to Do You Want To Know A Secret (#2 pop). Written by Lennon and McCartney, “eyeball to eyeball.”

Thank The Lord For The Night Time – Neil Diamond, #13 pop in 1967. Written by Neil and arguably my favorite song by him.

I Thank You – Sam and Dave, #4 RB, #9 pop in 1968. Sam says, “I want everybody to get off your seat. And get your arms together, and your hands together, and give me some of that OLD SOUL CLAPPING.” Written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter.

Thank You – Led Zeppelin, from the group’s second album (1969). Written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

Sylvester Stewart

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) – Sly and the Family Stone, #1 pop, #1 RB for five weeks in 1969. Written by Sly Stone. Its first album appearance is on the greatest collection along with Everybody Is A Star (the B-side of Thank You) and Hot Fun In The Summertime. It namechecks other songs by the group.
Dance to the music
All night long
Everyday people
Sing a simple song
Mama’s so happy
Mama start to cry
Papa still singin’
We can make it if we try

Thank You For Talkin’ To Me, Africa – Sly and the Family Stone. A reworking of the previous song, also written by Sly Stone, appears on the 1971 album There’s A Riot Goin’ On.

Thank God I’m A Country Boy  – John Denver, #1 pop and country in 1975. Written by John Martin Sommers.

Thank You For Being A Friend – Andrew Gold, #25 pop in 1978. Written by Gold and Brock Walsh. It was also used as the theme for The Golden Girls, sung by Cynthia Fee in 1985.

Thank You – Boyz II Men, #17 RB, #21 pop in 1995. Written by Dallas Austin and the group, Michael McCary, Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman.

The Great Dying in the Americas after 1492


Great DyingI had heard of the Great Dying in the Americas after 1492. Still, it was a shocking headline in my newsfeed. 56 MILLION. This is the “estimated number of Indigenous Americans killed by violence, famine, and disease due to European colonization from 1492 to 1600. That’s a 90% drop in the Indigenous population – a decline so rapid it caused the earth’s temperature to cool.”.

“We know the story. Or, at least, we think we do: In 1621, a shared feast between Pilgrims and Indigenous Americans in Massachusetts to give thanks for the harvest and survival of Plymouth colonists created a 400-year tradition Americans mark annually.

“Most of us know that tale is, in large measure, a lie

“That story exists in part to obfuscate the quite bloody reality of how the nation was actually claimed by the colonists who arrived here,” said Julian Brave NoiseCat, a journalist, activist, and advisory board member for The Emancipator.”

When facts such as these are shared, I hear so many non-Indigenous people complain, “Why are they ruining the best holiday?” I understand. Hey, I grew up with the myth as well. It was such an affirming, positive story that one wanted it to be true.


“So how do Indigenous people in America mark Thanksgiving? The ways are as diverse and complex as the communities themselves. They do mourn the atrocities their ancestors suffered. But Indigenous culture is also firmly rooted in the tradition of giving thanks. They find a way to do both.

“One of NoiseCat’s traditions is attending Sunrise Ceremonies at Alcatraz Island, the Indigenous land that became the now-shuttered prison, to commemorate a 19-month occupation that began in 1969. Bay Area Native American activists sought to reclaim the island under the terms of a 19th-century treaty.”

The article is from Unbound, a newsletter from The Emancipator, published by the Boston Globe. In each issue, “Kimberly Atkins Stohr, senior columnist for The Emancipator and The Boston Globe, explores past to present-day themes centered on antiracism and democracy.” She examines “some of the most urgent conversations on racial justice infused with context, news, and perspective.

The statistical citation is from Quarternary Science Reviews’ 2019 study Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492 by Alexander Koch, Chris Brierley, Mark M. Maslin and Simon L. Lewis. You can hear Koch on the Last Born In The Wilderness podcast.

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