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PJMcK's Journal
PJMcK's Journal
July 28, 2020

I had the incredible experience to meet Dave Brubeck in 1975

My best friend, who was also the drummer in our band, was a member of a local youth orchestra. His dad was on the board of directors as was Brubeck. My friend's dad arranged for me to go over to Dave's house one afternoon.

His home was in Weston, Connecticut which is about an hour east of New York City. When I got to his house, his wife, Iola, answered the door and greeted me warmly. She welcomed me into the living room and Dave bounded out of his chair and shook my hand enthusiastically. I thought something might be wrong and they were expecting someone else!

But no, my friend's dad had sung my praises so Dave, (he insisted on being called by his first name), wanted to know everything I thought about music. It blew my mind! I was 17 and Dave Brubeck wanted to now what I thought about Jazz-Rock!

After a bit, he asked me to play something for him. His living room had a beautiful grand piano with windows overlooking their wooded property. I played a light waltz I had been working on. Then he sat down, played the tune I had just shared and improvised for about 5 minutes taking my little melody on a journey I'll never forget but could never recreate.

Afterwards, he gave me a tour of their house and we had coffee and cookies. As I was leaving, I said that I had noticed that he had different pianos all over their house. These included a couple of grands, an upright and a pair of Rhodes electric pianos. Dave laughed and said, "When our kids were young, we didn't want any of them to say they couldn't practice because one of their brothers was playing the piano. So we filled the house with them!"

It was a remarkable hour or so for a teen-aged musician. Of the many things I took away from that afternoon, one thing I've adopted is having keyboards all over my homes. I've got a Baldwin upright, a Rhodes 73 stage electric piano, a Wurlitzer electric piano, a DX-7 IID digital synthesizer along with a Korg PolySix analog synthesizer, a Yamaha Clavinova, a Korg SG-1D Digital Piano and some other stuff acquired during various projects.

All the keyboards drive my wife a little nuts but all I can say is, "Thanks, Dave!"

July 25, 2020

You go, girl!

Ms. Lewinsky made some very poor choices when she was much younger. I have very little doubt she would make that same observation.

Nonetheless, she's tried very hard to improve her life and move forward. That she can poke fun at herself shows not only a sense of humor but also a sense of self-awareness. These are impressive qualities, especially in our time.

You know, President Clinton has always been a puzzle to me. I voted for him in both his presidential elections but he had some issues that I just didn't agree with. To the point at hand, it was he who should have shut down the "relationship" with Ms. Lewinsky. Not only should he have had better morals but he should have been a grown up man. Instead he acted like a frat boy on Saturday night. He was better than the Republican alternatives, of course, but he could have been better still.

July 23, 2020

My unfounded theory about Trump's cognitive test

Presented with no evidence but pieced together from various news reports:

Trump did or said something so disturbing that his handlers called in Trump's doctor. The doctor saw something concerning and ordered the Montreal Cognitive Assessment test.

The test is not very long or complicated and it's intended to be completed in 10-15 minutes. By Trump's re-telling of his experience, it appears he took far longer to complete. By the way, here's the website for the test and its developers:


Unsurprisingly, Trump couldn't pass the test. Some parts of it eluded him but the doctors and the handlers knew they couldn't tell Trump he was failing. So they coached him through the test and gave him BIG hints for the answers; think of how a parent tries to teach an infant.

The doctors sent Trump back to the White House knowing that he's got a damaged brain. Trump's handlers know he has a damaged brain. Trump's family knows he has a damaged brain. Hell, most of us know he has a damaged brain and we don't need to see his damn test!

Now, imagine that you're one of the medical professionals who witnessed these events. How would you feel about yourself, your job and your country knowing that Trump has a damaged brain?

If I'm even a little bit on the mark, this is really scary stuff.

July 14, 2020

We're in for a turbulent future

Everything in Trump's orbit becomes a study in chaos and if VP Biden defeats him in November, I suspect we'll be in for a years-long drama, both in the legal/political world and the social/civil world.

When Trump loses, he will not accept the results as a statesman. You know he'll scream, holler, tweet and file lawsuits. He'll have several months to continue to use Barr's DOJ to fight his personal battles. He'll have several months to continue his dismantling of our civil and military services. He'll have several months to act out in ways our nation has never seen: Start a war, drop a bomb, declare martial law... who knows?

Then once he's finally out of office, President Biden will have a more complicated set of circumstances than even President Obama had in 2009. As bad as he was, W didn't dismantle the government so President Obama had a tool box to work with. President Biden will be severely limited at first because of the damages Trump has inflicted. The economy, foreign relations, governmental structures and the divisive partisanship of much of our country will be very difficult and complex issues that require exceptional solutions to reunite our nation.

Meanwhile, what to do about Trump? Following the criminality of the W years, President Obama decided to look forward and let the sins of the past fade away. After all, the man had a tremendous amount of work to do! Yet, it might have been a mistake to let Cheney et al. get away with their crimes.

Will President Biden rebuild a robust Department of Justice that will investigate and prosecute the vast criminalities of the Trump years? If he doesn't, our country will not have learned any lessons and a future dictator-wannabe could attain power.

However, such prosecutions would be almost unheard of in our country's history. Until now, presidents didn't generally use their awesome powers to attack their political rivals especially after the crook has left office. If you think the Mueller investigations were polarizing, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

An equally important decision the new president will have to make is what we should do about all of the flaws and holes in our Constitution and laws that Trump & Co. have so deviously exploited? As one example, Trump's abuse of his pardon power (and to a lesser extent, President Clinton's) requires a Constitutional Amendment to redefine that power. Trump's commutation of Roger Stone's convictions and sentences was clearly a quid pro quo for Stone's silence during the Mueller investigations. One cannot get any more corrupt than that!

Since I mentioned Constitutional Amendments, it's time to restructure our national voting mechanisms. The Electoral College is an out-dated artifact from the 18th century. In the 21st century, is the United States going to remain a country with an insulator between the voters and their presidents?

How will our people react to these difficult and divisive issues? We could very easily experience tremendous civil unrest.

There are so many problems we'll face with our politics and our society that I hope President Biden will have the strength and humility to find a healthy and productive path for our country.

July 8, 2020

Here's a thought experiment regarding schools

My son is a young adult and has been out of school for a while so the issue of re-opening schools doesn't impact me on an immediate personal level. And to be clear, I'm not sure what the big picture solution is for our education systems. What I do know is that if we send the kids back to the schools, we'll experience additional spikes of Covid-19. But if we continue with the ad hoc online lessons, our kids won't learn effectively and they'll lose the social lessons schools can provide. So, what follows is simply a mental exercise. (To be totally open, I have no affiliation or personal experience with the education program I'll reference.)

In the late 1980s, I met a family of four who had spent more than ten years sailing around the world on their 50-foot sailboat. Their stories and adventures were fantastic and the closeness of the family and the poise and erudition of the two daughters were remarkable.

When they set sail, the girls were in elementary school and to continue their education, they enrolled in a home schooling program designed and supervised by the University of Nebraska. This program is accredited by Cognia (formerly AdvancED) and the Nebraska Department of Education and their AP courses are approved by the College Board. There are other similar programs and they are all first-class.

The lessons are integrated among the various educational disciplines to create an educational continuity. Coupled with their traveling experiences, I was amazed at the breadth and depth of the girls' educations. They continued their home/sailboat schooling through high school and both were admitted to excellent universities upon their return to dry land.

I was curious to discover that the University of Nebraska program was old, comprehensive and very successful. It was started in the 1920s to provide education for farming families who lived too far away for regular schooling. Their programs require adult supervision and I believe that written papers and tests are sent back to the University for review by teachers.

From a quick skim of their website, it appears to be kind of expensive: $250 for a one semester/5 credit course and $450 for a two semester/10 credit course. When you consider a proper curriculum entails 4-7 classes, the tuition can escalate quickly! In addition, books and materials cost extra. If anyone is interested, here's a link:


On the other hand, the recent past has shown that remote learning through Zoom, etc. is of limited benefit. There are many disciplines that cannot be effectively taught online. Student supervision has been a big problem for many teachers. The solutions to these issues are elusive. If I had to make a choice today, I would seriously consider one of these university directed programs. It would be a considerable commitment in time and treasure but it would provide a superior education to the mess we're facing now.

Profile Information

Name: Paul McKibbins
Gender: Male
Hometown: New York City
Home country: USA
Current location: Catskill Mountains
Member since: Mon Jun 5, 2006, 05:16 PM
Number of posts: 22,127

About PJMcK

Lifelong Democrat
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