Archives for the month of: September, 2014

I am taking Spanish classes and realizing how little I remember from the three years of Spanish from many years ago in high school. I still recognize some words and a few phrases when I see them written of if they are spoken slowly. I have a pretty good grasp of the alphabet and numbers and I recall a little about the conjugation of verbs.

After ten lessons last spring and three during this session I am embarrassed that I do not know more. Of course, studying and practicing between classes would probably make a big difference.

In spite of my limited understanding of the language, I am sure that I have learned two expressions that will stay with me. I suspect that I will remember them for a long time because I will have the opportunity to use them frequently.

I am certain that these two expressions will not be forgotten because they are words that I have had many, many occasions to utter in English. Now that I know them in Spanish it will give me an opportunity to practice at least a little bit of this second language.

The two phrases are “mi culpa” which means “my fault” and “lo siento” which means “I am sorry.” Two good expressions to remember in any language.

Many conflicts could be resolved if someone would just say, “My fault.” It is alright to accept responsibility for mistakes when we make them. There is no disgrace in doing so. As a matter of a fact, there is dignity and integrity in acknowledging your errors of speech, action, or inaction.

An honest “Lo siento” can smooth ruffled feathers when someone is upset or offended.
“I’m sorry” not only can defuse a tense situation but it also makes the confessor feel better.

Everyone makes mistakes. Acknowledging them is healthy and helpful. And necessary in healthy human relationships.

Some of our mistakes don’t really amount to very much. But some have serious implications either for ourselves or for others. Regardless of who is impacted negatively by our errors of judgment, admitting that it is mi culpa enables us to move on. More than likely we will also be more aware of that negative behavior and less likely to repeat it- if we admit “it is my fault.”

I don’t always think before I speak and I say something that offends or injures another. I engage my mouth before my mind is in gear. And the damage is done. But there is a better chance that the damage can be repaired if I quickly recognize my mistake and express my regret. “Lo siento” can at least start the healing.

The phrase, “To err is human, to forgive is divine” is credited to the English poet Alexander Pope. That expression is in his poem An Essay on Criticism, Part II, written in 1711. Pope explains that, while anyone can make a mistake, we should aspire to do as God does, that is, show mercy and forgive the person.
Because we are human we can expect to err but we can minimize the damage by acknowledging our mistake and expressing regret. And we are never more like God than when we forgive.
Jamie Jenkins

A very wise man long ago said there is nothing new under the sun. I guess that is true in the ultimate sense. Everything is built on something that has preceded it. Every idea is an expansion or enhancement of an idea someone has already put forward. Everything future has a part of the past.

The “new” phenomenon of the electric automobile is no exception.

Who built the first electric vehicle (EV)? Well, that depends on who you ask. In 1828, Anyos Jedlik, a Hungarian created a small model car powered by his new motor. In 1834 a blacksmith from Vermont, Thomas Davenport, built a contraption which operated on a short circular electrified track. In 1835, Professor Sibrandus Stratingh of the Netherlands and his assistant Christopher Becker created a small-scale electrical car. English inventor Thomas Parker built the first practical production electric car in London in 1884.

During the 1950s and 1960s the American Big Three automakers had their own electric cars but for various reasons they faded away. Then the 21st century arrived and things changed.

The Tesla Roadster was the first production automobile to use a lithium-ion battery and the first production electric vehicle (EV) with a range greater than 200 miles per charge. Tesla is an expensive, high-end product targeted at affluent buyers. 12,700 of the Model S were sold through June 2013.

Other EVs that target buyers with more average incomes include the Chevrolet Spark, Honda Fit, Ford Focus, and Nissan Leaf with the Leaf being the most popular. The 100,000th Leaf was delivered to a student in Atlanta early in July 2013. As of August 2014 Nissan had sold more than 176,000 EVs more than all other major automakers of pure electric vehicles combined. The Leaf accounted for 130,000 of those Nissan vehicles.

Last Saturday I joined the EV family when I signed a two year lease on a Nissan Leaf SV model.

Plugging the car in rather than pulling up to the gas pump seems a bit strange but I think I will like the $4000 I will save by not buying gasoline during the next two years. The generous tax incentives that the state and federal governments give are much appreciated. Planning my in-town driving to stay within the 84 mile limit of the charge will take a little doing but I will learn.

The front wheels of the Leaf are directly powered by the electric battery and the absence of the drive train makes for a very smooth ride. Since there is no engine there will be no oil changes. The spaciousness of the interior, the navigation system, rear view camera, heated seats and steering wheel, and premium sound system enhance the experience. And it has plenty of “get up” when you need to merge into traffic on the expressway.

It has been said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but as I approach my 71st birthday I want to prove that old saying to be wrong. I am sure there are some “down sides” that I will discover along the way but every adventure has them. I plan to endure the bumps and enjoy the ride.

Jamie Jenkins

Yo-Yo Ma is one of the most famous musicians in the world. He was born in Paris in 1955. His father was “more or less Buddhist” and his mother was Protestant. He grew up as an Episcopalian.

At a young age Ma began studying violin, and later viola, before settling on the cello in 1960 at age four. His first choice was the double bass but due to its large size (eight or nine feet), he compromised and took up cello instead.

The child prodigy began performing before audiences at age five and performed for Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy when he was seven. He has played as a soloist with many major orchestras. His 75 albums have received fifteen Grammy Awards. In addition to his numerous Grammys, Yo-Yo Ma has received the National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the 2014 Fred Rogers Legacy Award, of which he said, “This is perhaps the greatest honor I’ve ever received.”

Ma’s primary performance instrument is a Montagnana cello built in 1733. The cello was nicknamed by a female student who approached him after one of his classes in Salt Lake City asking if he had a nickname for his cello. He said, “No, but if I play for you, will you name it?” She chose “Petunia,” and it stuck. This cello, more than 280 years old and valued at $2.5 million, was lost in the fall of 1999 when Ma accidentally left the instrument in a taxicab in New York City. It was later recovered undamaged.

In a recent interview the world famous musician said that when he was about five years old he was asked, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” He replied, “I want to understand.”

I suspect that at age five most children want to understand things like:
Why does he get two cookies and I get only one?
Why do I have to go to bed before she does?
Why can’t I cross the street by myself?

From listening to Ma and from observing his musical career, it obvious that the desire to understand has not gone away but it has matured as he has aged and experienced life more fully.

On this date, September 11, I find it impossible not to think about that horrible day in 2001 when 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., including more than 400 police officers and firefighters.

Reflecting on the horrendous events of 9/11 I echo Yo-Yo Ma’s desire to understand. I want to understand the mind set that could lead to that tragedy… and others that are occurring today around the world and close at home.

I want to understand how anyone could think that violence solves anything. Whether it be in Iraq or Gaza or Ferguson, Missouri, or a casino elevator in Atlantic City. I want to understand more fully how love overcomes hate and light overcomes darkness. I want to understand so I can be an agent of peace in my home, my work, and my world.

Jamie Jenkins

A long time ago someone told me that the smartest people in the world were the ones who remembered everything they could from every source they could and then forgot where they got it. That was one way of saying that the sources of knowledge are many and a wise person will recognize and value the insights from various perspectives.

I don’t consider myself to be unusually smart or wise but I do welcome input from others whether they are well known or ordinary everyday folks. I gladly receive what others offer and gratefully pass on things that I think are helpful and/or humorous.

So today I am passing on something that a friend sent me. It is a series of quotes from Andy Rooney who spent 60 years with CBS television before his death in 2011 at the age of 92. For 30 years he was behind the camera as writer and producer. The last 30 years he was “the inquisitive and cranky” commentator who closed the “60 Minutes” news programs with his essays.

Andy Rooney says I have learned that…

• the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.
• when you’re in love, it shows.
• just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my day!’ makes my day.
• having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.
• being kind is more important than being right.
• you should never say no to a gift from a child.
• I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help him in some other way.
• no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
• sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
• simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child, did wonders for me as an adult.
• life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.
• we should be glad God doesn’t give us everything we ask for.
• money doesn’t buy class.
• it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.
• under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.
• to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
• when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.
• love, not time, heals all wounds.
• the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.
• everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.
• no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.
• life is tough, but I’m tougher.
• opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.
• when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.
• one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow you may have to eat them.
• a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
• when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, that you’re hooked for life.
• everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.
• the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

Thanks, Andy, for sharing some of the things you learned.

Jamie Jenkins