Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Cockatoos Can Learn From Each Other

 Avian Intelligence

Cockatoos Can Learn From Each Other: You might have seen the video of these sulphur-crested cockatoos (Cacatua galerita), a member of the parrot family, doing what many thought only humans can do: learn from each other. I am impressed, but not surprised by these birds, native to Australia. We have a member of the parrot family living with us, Arya, our beautiful and intelligent cockatiel. The next time someone uses “bird brain” as an insult, consider it a compliment. I will post more on Avian intelligence in the days to come.
Via: Youtube

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Amazing Grace: Judy Collins & The Boys Choir Of Harlem (1993)


Amazing Grace: Judy Collins & The Boys Choir Of Harlem (1993) in Washington, D.C. The Boys Choir was founded by Walter Turnbull (1944-2007) in 1968.


Amazing Grace is the world's most popular and well-known Christian hymn; it was written by John Newton, a slave-trading captain turned Anglican minister and poet, in 1772. Decades before, he had his own Road to Damascus experience while out at sea. In an article ("The Real Story Behind 'Amazing Grace;'" June 15, 2020) for, David Sheward writes:

During the voyage home, the ship was caught in a horrendous storm off the coast of Ireland and almost sank. Newton prayed to God and the cargo miraculously shifted to fill a hole in the ship’s hull and the vessel drifted to safety. Newton took this as a sign from the Almighty and marked it as his conversion to Christianity. He did not radically change his ways at once, his total reformation was more gradual. "I cannot consider myself to have been a believer in the full sense of the word, until a considerable time afterward,” he later wrote. He did begin reading the Bible at this point and began to view his captives with a more sympathetic view.

The music we know today is attributed to a folk tune, “New Britain,” which William Walker, an American Baptist music composer, used for Amazing Grace beginning in 1835. When I hear this hymn, I am reminded again how man's hubris can be checked only by focusing upward, which is as important a conscious act today as it was during any other time in human history.

What is the worship of God but a tacit acknowledgement of this fact. That when we look up we also raise ourselves up. When we substitute money and power for the numinous and transcendent, we sell ourselves short. When we sing or listen to this worship song, during these few minutes, we realize that we neither need to worship money and power (which is not the same as moral leadership), nor those who claim these instruments to lord it over others. 

The differences between the two are clear. One serves the Self; the other a servant of the People. One boasts about himself and his accomplishments; the other asks what he can do to help. Which person draws more people? Why do you think this is this so? In the end, we need transcendence, faith, hope and love. A little humility would be helpful, as well. This is often in short supply, as is self-restraint. Together, such describes a well-formed spiritual self, a person of good moral character.

This hymn of worship reminds us of its importance, and the straight and narrow road to get there, hence why it is still sung today. It shows us what we lack while trapped in our spiritual poverty, and what we can gain, spiritual richness. Such has nothing at all to do with human acquisition of money or power or the vain endeavors of fame, which can comfort for a time. Grace is neither earned nor bought; it is given freely.

This confounds the human mind, since we live in a time when nothing is apparently free or freely given. But there are times, such as today, when it is necessary to go against human rationality and recognize the value of such a gift, acknowledging the goodness and beauty of it. Agree and affirm that such a gift can only come from Above, and we have done nothing to earn it. All we can do is surrender and accept it It is hard, and it is the beginning.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Elvis Presley: How Great Thou Art (1977)


Elvis Aaron Presley [1935-1977]: “How Great Thou Art” in Omaha, Nebraska, on June 19, 1977, in one of his last public concerts. O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder/Consider all the works Thy hand hath made./I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,/Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Elvis Presley: How Great Thou Art (1972)



Elvis Presley: “How Great Thou Art” (1972)Elvis sings a recognized gospel song at one of his concerts. While it might seem unusual today, it was not so then, and not for Elvis, who grew up with gospel and church music and hymns. Again, his powerful voice leads us to the right place. The song was originally written by Swedish pastor Carl Boberg in 1886. It was first translated into German and then Russian. Rev. Stuart K. Hine, an English missionary, adapted this version and translated it into English, publishing it around 1949. It became the signature song” of the 1950s Billy Graham Crusades, which increased its popularity in the United States. Elvis sings the version that most churches sing today.


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Elvis Presley: If I Can Dream (1968)

Elvis Presley: “If I Can Dream,” the last song that Elvis performed on the 1968 Comeback Special, which aired on December 3, 1968 (NBC-TV; 9 PM EST). The song is a remarkable recognition of the (unfinished) work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and in particular his “I Have a Dream” speech (August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial); this song quotes King's famous speech. Elvis recorded the song in June, in the devastating aftermath of the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., respectively, on April 4, 1968, and June 6, 1968. The song is written by Walter Earl Brown. This performance is as authentic and heartfelt as you can get. The dream is a hope that many of us still share. If I can dream of a better land/Where all my brothers walk hand in hand.
Via: Youtube

Monday, July 12, 2021

Elvis Presley: Always On My Mind (1972)

 Love Song

Elvis Presley [1935-1977]: “Always On My Mind,” which was recorded on March 29, 1972. This was a few weeks after his separation from his wife, Priscilla. It is the B side of a single, with “Separate Ways” on Side A, which was released on October 29, 1972. This song was written by Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher and Mark James. When I hear this song, I am reminded of bittersweet moments in my own life. Such is how this song touches me, and Elvis, the great performer that he always was, does this song in his distinct passionate way. Elvis had great stage presence, the greatest performer I have ever witnessed. He draws you in with his voice. It might well be that Presley neither forgot his roots nor his mother, growing up as he did, materially poor in Tupelo, Mississipp, yet spiritually wealthy. I will be posting more Elvis songs in the coming days.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Covid-19 Update For Canada (July 2021)

 Canadian Vaccination Campaign

The Canadian vaccination campaign against Covid-19 is a roaring success. Here is where we are now, according to Covid-19 Tracker Canada. About 68 percent of Canadians have received at least one dose of an approved vaccine; and 33 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated with two doses. This includes 78 percent of Canadians 12 and up with one dose and 38 percent with two doses.

At the rate that we are being vaccinated—467,000 arms per day (1.2 percent of the population or 1.4 percent of the eligible population daily) with most going for second doses, Canada should meet its target of 75 percent of Canadians fully vaccinated by August 1. We have enough doses to vaccinate 75% of Canadians 12 and up, which consists of all the eligible population. (No vaccine has yet received Health Canada approval for people younger than 12. This might come sometime in the Autumn. About six million kids in Canada are younger than 12 years of age.)

Achieving the 75 percent fully vaccinated mark on August 1 would be an accomplishment, two months ahead of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's original goal of September 30. Well done, Mr. Prime Minister. We are well on our way on our return to normalcy, but in a safe and prudent way. Our Canadian Way. We are more low key, more methodical with little drama. This means that we are also carefully watching how the Delta strain or variation, first identified in India, a variant of concern (VOC) moves through the population. It is present not only in India, but also in 77 other nations of the world, including Canada.

Thankfully, our dedicated scientists working in collaboration with other scientists, in what is an international  effort, are on top of things. We are thankful for their work and their knowledge. They are saying that while 75 percent of the population is good, in light of the Delta variant, we need to aim higher for the possibility of herd immunity. The goal is now 80 percent of adult Canadians who need to get fully vaccinated. I think that we  can and will do better. By mid August, I expect that at least 80 percent of Canadians 12 and up will be fully vaccinated.  

By then, in the latter part of August and into September, barring the Delta variant exponentially spreading and hospitalizations increasing, always a possibility but less so now with high vaccination uptake, it is likely that more restrictions will be lifted. (But perhaps not masks for a while.) Even so, SARS-CoV-2 will likely be circulating for a long time; there might also be new variants, as it is with the flu virus. (The Greek alphabet has 24 letters, from alpha to omega.) We might have to get yearly vaccinations, as we now do with the flu virus. The unvaccinated have a greater risk. At this moment, we don't know yet what will be, how infectious each subsequent mutation will be. 

So, we are being cautious; we are advocating to get vaccinated, especially the skeptics and the unsure. It is a race between the vaccines and the variants. This is why vaccinations are so important, to blunt the effects of the virus. My family and I are doing our part. I encourage all Canadians to collaborate on this mass vaccination initiative. If we all do, and I have said this before, we can all, hopefully, enjoy a nice Christmas holiday, free of most restrictions. And leading into a new year, 2022, where it will, hopefully, be closer to what we knew before the Pandemic. Stay healthy one and all.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Happy Canada Day (2021)

 Canada 154

Happy Canada Day (Fête du Canada) to my fellow Canadians from coast to coast. Yes, it has been a difficult year in so many ways, but we Canadians are a resilient lot and consistently happy, a 2019 survey reports, with Quebec being the happiest province in Canada. This confirms what I know. I am glad and fortunate to live in Canada, and I have no plans to live anywhere else. As my father who came over here after the Second World War used to say, "Canada is a good country." I agree. Our nation, began as a peaceful experiment in confederation of four provinces in 1867 (within the confines of the British Empire), has withstood the test of time, slowly growing in economic stature and gaining political independence from Britain in a series of agreements, culminating in the patriation of the Canadian constitution in 1982. We are now 154 years in the making and going strong. We are progressing forward. More background information on Canada and on Canada Day can be found at [Canadian Encyclopedia], [Statistics Canada] & [Wikipedia]. Now, if only the Habs can bring home the Stanley Cup to Canada. Go Habs Go.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

My Backyard Raspberry Bushes & Tomato Plants (2021)

 Summer 2021

There are sufficient raspberries on our backyard bushes to feed us all summer. We might try to make some raspberry jam this year. We also have two tomato plants, which will give us tomatoes in August. Last year, we had five, but we thought it was too much, so we decided that two plants are sufficient for our needs. Happy Gardening one and all.

 Raspberry Bush 1

  Raspberry Bush 2

Tomato Plant 1
Tomato Plant 2


 All Photos: 2021. PerryJ. Greenbaum

Monday, June 28, 2021

Joni Mitchell: Both Sides Now (1969)

1960s Music

Joni Mitchell: “Both Sides Now” on The Mama Cass Show on January 18, 1969. The song is the last (fifth) track on Side 2 of Clouds, released on May 1, 1969. When I hear this song I return to a time when I was young and when I was more hopeful. Now, such hope is hard to find, even for many of the young. I do not know if such hope will ever return. I would like to believe so, but my perceptions of what I see and feel today, in the here and now, give me deep and serious doubts. Hope has to reside in reality; if not it is not hope but wishful thinking.