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Clockwise, from top left: Blackfriar's Theater in Staunton, VA, home of the American Shakespeare Center; National Cathedral in Guatemala City; church near Volin, SD; engraved stellae at ruins of Copan, Honduras; folk musicians in La Paz, Bolivia.

Culture and Travel montage shadow

Culture-related pages:


Travel photos



Religious blogs & sites


Local drama & music


Other Web links


 

My favorite movies

  1. Casablanca
  2. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  3. Raising Arizona
  4. Fargo
  5. Shawshank Redemption
  6. Field of Dreams
  7. Bull Durham
  8. Fiddler on the Roof
  9. Patton
  10. Bananas
  11. Fort Apache: The Bronx
  12. Broadcast News

July 1, 2017 [LINK / comment]

North of the border: trip to Canada & the Midwest

CATCHING UP: In recognition of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Dominion of Canada (1867), it's an appropriate occasion to finally write a description of my trip up to Canada -- and from thence out to South Dakota -- two summers ago. (I will soon do likewise, even more belatedly, for my grand summer vacation into the desert southwest, in June 2014.) It was an ambitious adventure that included (of course) baseball, birding, and family affairs. I already posted separate blog accounts related to baseball in August 14, 2015 and will do one about wild birds in the next day or two.

Toronto, Detroit, Chicago

TOP: Toronto; MIDDLE: Detroit; BOTTOM: Chicago.
Roll your mouse over the image to compare those skylines to the ones for Boston, Providence, Manhattan, and Philadelphia, which I visited in early September last year.

My trip began on July 18, heading in a northerly direction along I-81 into The Keystone State, then west briefly on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and then north again on the Bud Shuster Highway (I-99). That reminded me of all the corruption and pork-barrel scandals in which the former congressman was involved; see cato.org. From there I continued into western New York state, and spent the night in Buffalo, where I stopped to take photos of Coca-Cola Field (formerly Pilots Field), where the minor league Buffalo Bisons play.

Before the sun came up on July 19, I arrived at the American side of Niagara Falls, took a few photos there, and then crossed the bridge into Canada. I had been on that side once before, in the 1980s, and Canada's Horseshoe Falls are much bigger and dramatic in appearance. In the morning light, the skyline of the city of Niagara Falls was truly spectacular. The gardens and buildings are very well maintained.

Niagara Falls Horseshoe

Niagara Falls (Horseshoe), at the crack of dawn. (July 19, 2015)

After Niagara Falls, I drove west along the coast of Lake Ontario. I passed by two historical sites of note: McFarland House and the Battle of Fort George, in which the U.S. Army invaded and briefly occupied part of Canada during the War of 1812. How many Americans know anything about that conflict? (See warof1812.ca.) It is a very prosperous area, with nice homes and many fruit orchards. Passing quickly through the city of Hamilton, I arrived in downtown Toronto shortly after noon, found a place to park and walked toward Rogers Centre, where I saw the Blue Jays defeat the Tampa Bay Rays. I marvelled at the immense CN Tower next to the Rogers Centre, but was disappointed that there is a long wait to take the elevator trip to the top, so I'll have to do that some other time.

CN Tower

CN Tower, next the Rogers Centre in Toronto. (July 19, 2015)

I spent the night at a motel near London, Ontario, and briefly explored the city the next day. Not surprisingly, there is a Thames River, and I stopped at a park adjacent to it. I bought some premium beer at a Labatt's brewery store downtown, to share with my brothers. Then I left and headed west toward Michigan. I thought I might save time by avoiding heavy traffic in Detroit by crossing at Port Huron. I had a satisfying meal in Sarnia at Harvey's, a Canadian hamburger chain restaurant. I had poutine, a Canadian specialty consisting of French fries with cheese curds and gravy. That'll stick to your ribs!

London - Westminister Ponds

London - Westminister Ponds. (July 20, 2015)

Then I crossed the bridge back into the good old U.S. of A., but was annoyed by the long delay at the immigration / customs inspection station. My gas tank was almost empty, making me even more anxious. About an hour later, I entered Detroit but took the wrong exit and wasted another 15 minutes finding Comerica Park, where the Tigers were playing the Seattle Mariners. After the game, I stopped briefly at the site of Tiger Stadium, which was demolished in 2009.

The next day (July 21), I paid a visit to the University of Michigan in the city of Ann Arbor. I wanted to see Michigan Stadium, the biggest college football stadium, with a capacity of over 100,000. I tried but failed to get inside for a look. I then drove through southern Michigan, which was unremarkable, and stopped at Indiana Dunes, from whence I had a view of Chicago, located about 30 miles to the west. It's an amazing place, great for observing nature or just for enjoying the sun at the beach. After a couple hours there, I drove into Chicago, cursing at all the traffic and toll booths, and arrived at U.S. Cellular Field well over an hour before the White Sox began playing the St. Louis Cardinals, in an interleague game. Afterwards, I left the city via a "shortcut" that was a little trickier than I expected. The south side of Chicago is reputed to be tough (as Jim Croce noted in his song, "Bad, Bad LeRoy Brown"), but it really wasn't so bad. I spent the night near Joliet, which reminded me of the Blues Brothers movie.

Indiana Dunes visitor center, Chicago skyline

Indiana Dunes visitor center, Lake Michigan, and distant Chicago skyline. (July 21, 2015)

July 22 was strictly devoted to driving westward, and my only stop of significance was in the town of Van Meter, Iowa. I learned that the Bob Feller Museum now shares the building with the City Hall, presumably for reasons of economy. [He was a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Cleveland Indians.] I had visited there once before, but it wasn't open that day. Late in the day I arrived in Vermillion, warmly greeted at the door by my Dad. (About nine months later, he passed away.)

On July 25, Dad and I drove south into Nebraska, his beloved native state. (He actually grew up in Kansas, but that's another story.) We stopped at a few scenic spots along the way, but missed the turn which led to the town of Malmo, where his mother grew up. In Lincoln, we saw Memorial Stadium, home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and then visited his fraternity house (ATΩ), the State Capitol (famed for its tall tower), and finally the house where two of his aunts once lived. I remember visiting them, but the neighborhood seemed much more crowded than I thought. On the way back home, we stopped in the town of Oakland, which hosts the Swedish Heritage Center. (For some reason, Dad became obsessed with his Swedish heritage late in life.)

Nebraska State Capitol tower

Nebraska State Capitol tower. (July 25, 2015)

On August 1, we took a day trip to Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge, where we watched birds for a while. We stopped at a few towns along the way, including Lesterville, home of a famous strip club. The next day we played a round of golf, and I shot a 38, the under-40 first round for me in over a decade! Dad shot a 42, which is probably even more impressive, given that he was 86 at the time.

On August 6, Dad and I drove up to Sioux Falls, stopping at a couple wetland areas on the way there to look for birds. In Sioux Falls, we joined up with my brother Chris to see the falls on the Big Sioux River. Then we continued north to the picturesque town of Dell Rapids, and to the nearby natural wonder known as the Palisades. It's South Dakota's version of the Grand Canyon, you might say.

Palisades, Big Sioux River

Palisades, on the Big Sioux River. (August 6, 2015)

Just before leaving Vermillion, I finally did something I had postponed for many years: visit the National Music Museum. It was created by former USD music professor Arne B. Larson, and was originally called the "Shrine to Music." It has exhibits with exotic instruments from around the world, as well as classical music instruments. There is even a guitar formerly owned by the renowned singer Shawn Colvin, who was a friend of mine in grade school! (Last year my brother Dan bought me a CD recorded by her and Steve Earle, which she autographed and inscribed for me.)

National Music Museum

National Music Museum, in Vermillion, South Dakota. (August 8, 2015)

On my return trip to Virginia, I took the southerly route, visiting my brother Dan in the Kansas City area. We had a great barbecue dinner, and Dan delighted in showing me all of the home renovation and landscaping projects he is working on. On the way out of town, I stopped briefly to take photos of Arrowhead Stadium (home of the Chiefs) and Kauffman Stadium (home of the Royals, who had won the American League pennant the year before, and were on their way to winning the World Series later that year)! About ten miles east of Kansas City, I stopped at Burr Oak Woods natural area, hoping to see birds. To my surprise, there were many interesting butterflies there. About five hours later I arrived in St. Louis, and spent some time taking photos in downtown. I even went to the top of the Gateway Arch, for the first time since 1987. As you can see, the weather was ideal for picture-taking:

Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch, in St. Louis. (August 10, 2015)

St. Louis downtown from Gateway Arch

St. Louis downtown from Gateway Arch. (August 10, 2015)

Just before leaving St. Louis, I took some quick photos of Busch Stadium, which I had toured four years earlier. From there it was pretty much a non-stop drive east along Interstate 64, through Illinois, Kentucky, West Virginia, and back into Virginia. To see a comprehensive set of photos from that trip, please take a look at the Chronological (2015) photo gallery page.


June 30, 2017 [LINK / comment]

"Really big show" at Bedlam Brewing

This has been a pretty big month for me, but you wouldn't know it from the lack of any blog posts since May. Why? I've been consumed with learning new songs in preparation for public shows. After about a year of regular playing at the weekly Open Mic Night at Queen City Brewing, on the afternoon of Sunday, June 4, I did my very first full-fledged solo musical performance at Bedlam Brewing, a new business on the north side of Staunton, close to where we live. In my e-mail invitation to local area friends, I said it was going to be a "really BIG show," alluding of course to Ed Sullivan. I was very gratified that a good number of friends from the Augusta Bird Club and Emmanuel Episcopal Church came to watch me play, and they enjoyed it. The photo below is actually a screen grab from the video that Peter Van Acker recorded as I played Neil Young's "My My, Hey Hey." I greatly appreciated their show of support, and also John Huggins and Mike McCracken (owner of Bedlam) for fitting me into their busy musical schedule.

Andrew at Bedlam Brewing 04 Jun 2017

I arrived at Bedlam Brewing about 3:30, which gave me plenty of time to set up the sound equipment. I had used my Fender Passport amplifier system once before, at the Augusta Bird Club's 50th anniversary dinner last December, but this was the first time that I had my own speaker stands (to ensure that the sound carried well) and musical stand to hold the lyrics. I started playing at 4:00, did the 17 songs I had planned as the first half of my set, but that took until about 5:20, as I had underestimated how much time would be needed. After a short break, I played six more songs (nine less than the 15 I had planned), and finished about 6:00. I concentrated on classic rock tunes from the sixties and seventies, with a few country songs mixed in, as well as a few songs from more years. What follows is the actual set list:

  1. Ring Of Fire -- Johnny Cash
  2. The Last Time -- Rolling Stones
  3. Like A Rolling Stone -- Bob Dylan
  4. You've Go to Hide Your Love Away -- Beatles
  5. Susie Q -- Creedence Clearwater Revival
  6. Mrs. Robinson -- Simon & Garfunkle
  7. Your Song -- Elton John
  8. Simple Man -- Crosby, Stills, & Nash
  9. Tequila Sunrise -- Eagles
  10. Landslide -- Fleetwood Mac
  11. Long Train Running -- Doobie Brothers
  12. Guitar Man -- Bread
  13. Piano Man -- Billy Joel
  14. Only Want To Be With You -- Hootie & the Blowfish
  15. Follow You Down -- Gin Blossoms
  16. Interstate Love Song -- Stone Temple Pilots
  17. Come Together -- Beatles
  18. ( BREAK )
  19. Colorado Song -- Ozark Mountain Daredevils
  20. Never Goin' Back Again -- * Fleetwood Mac
  21. Melissa -- Allman Brothers
  22. My My, Hey Hey -- Neil Young
  23. Dust In The Wind -- Kansas
  24. Rhythm of Love -- Plain White T's

In sum, it was great fun but also quite exhausting, and [afterwards I] plopped down to enjoy a beer with some of the folks who came to see me play. I look forward to my next performance there, which will be on July 23. Bedlam Brewing serves a wide variety of choice malt beverages, as well as great food. It's located where Ma & Pa's Pizza used to be, and opened just last February.

Recent Open Mic events

At the May 3 event at Queen City Brewing, I followed up my April 26 performance (see my May 2 post) with three more songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival. They all went pretty well, and the final song received the biggest applause:

After a rare hiatus from the weekly music routine, I returned to Queen City Brewing on May 17, which was the first time I had played outside since last summer. I forgot how quickly the springtime evenings cool down, and the short pants I wore proved quite inadequate. I played three more songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival for the first set. I should have done better on "Susie Q," which features a cool guitar riff played over and over. For the second set (the extra time reflected the paucity of musicians that night), I played three songs I know very well. On "Best of My Love," [I have started using a capo (key of C, played like an A)], which I think yields a sound closer to the Eagles' original song. I used to play that one in with open chords. The last two songs utilized the harmonica, and sounded good.

On May 31, I paid tribute to the recent passing of Gregg Allman by playing his song "Melissa." My rendition of "Fall of the Peacemakers" kind of fell flat, but I did much better on "Dust In the Wind," which is one of my old standards. I'll bet nobody had heard that one with a harmonica before! There was a big slate of musicians that night, so we only got to do the basic three songs.

The next week (June 7), I played four songs for the very first time, including the first Ozark Mountain Daredevils I had played since April 12. "If You Want to Get to Heaven" was that group's first big hit, but surprisingly, I never really learned to play it until just a few years ago. (Until I learned to play the harmonica, that song just didn't sound that impressive.) People really loved "Cat's In the Cradle." The last song (as the "encore") was a follow up to the Molly Hatchet song of the previous week, and likewise it kind of fell flat.

On June 14, I played four Eric Clapton songs, beginning with "Tears In Heaven," in honor of the late son of my friends Colin and Teresa Hester, Adam. That one sounded fine, but I had a harder time with the intricate guitar parts on the next three songs. Adequate but not spectacular. In the second set, I played a Pink Floyd song, for the very first time, "Hey You." It went OK, but a little on the weak side. I closed with an old Eagles song, "Bitter Creek," which I had played at my first-ever open mic event. This time it went much better!

On June 21 I played three more Pink Floyd songs, an indication of just how keenly focused I have been on them this month. I had just learned "Comfortably Numb" a week before, and I was pleased that it came through very well. I have played parts of "Wish You Were Here" but never got the whole thing down until recently. Jacqueline was there for the first time in a few weeks, and she recorded the latter two songs on her iPhone, and I uploaded the videos to Facebook.

At the June 28 open mic night, I played my brand-new original song (first heard on Star 94.3 [radio] last Saturday; see below) plus two more songs by Pink Floyd. I had practiced all of them extensively, and it was one of my best performances ever, using the harmonica on all three songs. A big crowd was there (about 30), including Jacqueline, but she had to leave before I played. frown

As you can see, I have greatly expanded my repertoire with several new songs each from Creedence Clearwater Revival and Pink Floyd. The above songs will soon be added to the Music page.

I'm on the radio!

John Huggins, the guy who arranged my show at Bedlam Brewing, kindly invited me to do his weekly radio show featuring local Shenandoah Valley musical performers, and with some trepidation, I accepted. We recorded the show at the Star 94.3 studios in downtown Staunton on June 23 (Friday), and it was broadcast the next day. He wanted original material, but I don't have much of my own material, so I had to write a song, fast! The result was "Better Left Unsaid," which I have to say sounds pretty good. It was just a rough version that I did on the radio, whereas the version I played at Queen City a few days later had revised lyrics and used the harmonica. I also played an instrumental composition I call "Sky Blues" and I song I wrote in jest for an old friend many years ago, "The Ballad of Adlai."

Blue & Brews Festival

On Saturday June 17, Jacqueline and I went to the 2017 Shenandoah Blue & Brews Festival at the Ironwood County Club in Staunton, and it was time well spent. It was a hot and sunny day, and we enjoyed the locally-brewed beer and cider on sale, as well as barbecue pork sandwiches prepared by my friends Matthew Poteat and Colin Hester. (Carolina Q is the name of their business.) I'd say there were about 300 people there, which was pretty good but perhaps not as many as had been hoped. We had been to that event a couple years ago, when it was held at the Frontier Culture Museum. John Huggins is the organizer of that event, and is behind many other local musical shows, as well as being the proprietor of Shenandoah Hops, [a craft beer store] in downtown Staunton. He is a very busy guy, and he does a lot for the Staunton community! For more information, see shenandoahconcerts.com. Here are the performers:

2017 Blues n Brews crowd

A fair-sized crowd was present at the 2017 Blues n Brews festival.

2017 Blues n Brews Melissa and the Growlers

Melissa and the Growlers, the featured act at the 2017 Blues n Brews festival.


May 2, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Stevie Nicks in concert!

Time for me to get caught up with blogging about music! Several weeks ago (on March 25), Jacqueline and I went to a Stevie Nicks concert at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville. The Pretenders were supposed to be the opening show, but Chrissie Hynde was sick and had to cancel several performances. Frankly, she and her group were a higher priority for me, since we had just seen Stevie Nicks as part of a Fleetwood Mac concert at the very same venue (John Paul Jones Arena) two years earlier, in March 2015; my blog post about it was on July 18, 2015.

Unlike some rock musicians, Stevie Nicks has not lost her voice or skill as she has aged. I was very impressed not just by the quality of the music as well as by her earnest engagement with the audience. She is not some bigger-than-life goddess, she is a talented and creative artist who wants to share her passion about life. Most of the songs she did were preceded by a brief explanation of the circumstances by which she wrote them. In particular, I learned that "Gypsy" was about Stevie's early life in the trendy counter-culture scene in San Francisco. Then she met Lindsey Buckingham and before you knew it, those two had joined Fleetwood Mac! Overall, it was a wonderful performance, very uplifting and satisfying.

I tried to find the names of her musicians on her website, but couldn't find them there. As usual, I made a point to write down the song titles as she song them, but I had to consult the Internet to fill a couple gaps in the set list

  1. Gold and Braid **
  2. If Anyone Falls
  3. Stop Draggin' My Heart Around (#TP)
  4. Belle Fleur **
  5. Gypsy (#FM)
  6. Wild Heart
  7. Belladonna
  8. Enchanted **
  9. New Orleans
  10. Star Shine **
  11. Moonlight (A Vampire's Dream) **
  12. Stand Back
  13. Crying In the Night
  14. If You Were My Love
  15. Gold Dust Woman (#FM)
  16. Edge of Seventeen

  17. Rhiannon (#FM)
  18. Landslide (#FM)

The last two songs were the encore.
** Song titles from setlist.fm.
#FM: Song originally appeared on a Fleetwood Mac album. All songs were written by Stevie Nicks except:
#TP: Written by Tom Petty and Michael Campbell

The song "New Orleans" was written in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and "Moonlight (A Vampire's Dream)" was written about the movie Twilight (2008). I was a little disappointed that Stevie didn't sing "Leather and Lace," which was originally recorded with Don Henley of Eagles fame. The same goes for "Sara," which was on the Fleetwood Mac album Tusk. But she did sing two of my very favorite Fleetwood Mac songs: "Rhiannon" and "Landslide," inspiring me to play those at an open mic event a couple weeks later. (See below.) Otherwise, she did just about every big hit song from her "Bella Donna" (1981) and "The Wild Heart" (1983) albums, as well as the Fleetwood Mac hits for which she is best known.

Before the concert started, I bought the Pretenders' new CD Alone, but I have only listened to it once so far.

Stevie Nicks in concert dark

This wide-angle view of the concert was the only photo I took in which Stevie Nicks (on the video monitor to the right) was recognizable. My iPhone camera is fine in normal conditions, but can't handle sharp contrasts between dark and light.

Stevie Nicks in concert light

A closer-in view of Stevie Nicks in concert.

The most recent concert Jacqueline and I had been to before this one was Lynyrd Skynyrd, at the Rockingham County Fair on August 19, 2015; blog post January 29, 2016.

Guitar under repair

I bought my Conn acoustic guitar way back in 1975 or so, from a friend of a friend at the University of South Dakota named Carey Hofer. While I was inspecting it (and wondering if I really wanted to spend that much money!), he taught me to play the intro part of "Stairway to Heaven." It has served me well for these past four decades, and while I have considered replacing it with something better, the rich sound of an all-wood guitar is better than most mid-range guitars these days, since most of them have a body that is part plastic.

What happened was that one of the wooden braces inside the body suddenly broke while I was playing a song, without any warning. [This was on March 21, a Tuesday.] There was no bumping involved, it was apparently just the result of cumulative built-up stress. The process of getting it repaired took longer than my patience could tolerate, and I ended up taking it to a guy named Danny Dolinger who has a guitar repair shop in Bridgewater. After a few days, I had it back as good as new, thank goodness! Danny is not just a highly skilled and conscientious craftsman, he is also a local musician who performs with other guys on occasion. He looked familiar, and said he remembers me playing the Moody Blues song "Tuesday [Afternoon]" at an open mic event several months ago.

Conn acoustic guitar, CD rack

My newly-repaired Conn acoustic guitar, in front of our CD/DVD rack.

More open mic events

My first open mic performance at Queen City Brewing after returning from South America and Florida (March 15) focused on the theme of returning home after a long absence. "Back In the U.S.S.R." was especially appropriate since I had flown into Miami. (Contrary to the first line of that song, there is no airport in Miami Beach itself.) I enjoy playing the harmonica on "Take the Long Way Home," a prime example of bending notes.

Since my guitar was in the shop on March 22, I brought my charango, even though it has a warped neck that makes it impossible to play certain notes. I did my best, but it frankly sounded horrible, so I just gave up halfway through "El Condor Pasa," which was a real bummer. (That's an adaptation of a South American folk song.) Later on, Open Mic Host Fritz Horisk graciously lent me his guitar so I could play a nice Eagles song.

I skipped the next week open mic event because my guitar was still in the repair shop. Not until April 5 was it available [to me again], and I made the most of it, playing two songs I had done before and then "Landslide," in recognition of the Stevie Nicks concert Jacqueline and I had seen recently. I used the harmonica for the lead guitar part, and people really liked how it sounded. My final song was also based on a concert we had once seen (October 2005), by the Rolling Stones: [on "Sweet Virginia" I played the harmonica in the "proper" way.]

On April 12 I started with "Talkin' Baseball," which I had done once before, but I should have done it much better the second time. My rendition of "Bennie and the Jets" wowed the crowd, as I used the harmonica for the lead part, except in this case it was for lead piano. That was the first Elton John song that I had ever played in public, and it was inspired by another guy's performance of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" at the open mic event the week before. I became obsessed with learning "Bennie and the Jets" in the days that followed, and later learned more Elton John songs. My rendition of "All My Loving" uses the arpeggio (finger picking) technique rather than the fast strumming on the original song.

On April 19 I started with a challenging Beatles song using the arpeggio technique, but couldn't sustain the rhythm very well, so I'll probably strum that one next time. I thought "Your Song" sounded beautiful, but didn't get as much applause as I was hoping for. I played the other Elton John songs pretty well, but had a hard time with the vocals, having to shift octaves more than once. My voice range obviously pales in comparison to Reggie Dwight's. (That's Elton John's real name!)

Finally, on April 26 I marked the arrival of baseball season once again, but to my chagrin just couldn't deliver on the complex lead guitar part of "Centerfield," in spite of much practice. It's a song I have been working on for a few months, and I'll just have to practice it a lot more before I do it in public again. At least I did better on the other hit song from John Fogerty's Centerfield (1984) album ("The Old Man Man Down the Road"), and on the biggest hit song from his days with Creedence Clearwater Revival ("Proud Mary"). The latter was one of the first rock songs I learned to play on the guitar back in the early 1970s. I plan to do even more CCR songs I have learned recently at a future open mic event -- perhaps tomorrow!

The above songs have been added to my Music page.

Finally, for the record, at the April 10 monthly meeting of the Augusta Bird Club, I was asked to play my "bird song medley" that I did at the club's 50th anniversary dinner last December, so I did, but substituting "Tern, Tern, Tern" (Turn, Turn, Turn")" -- The Byrds for John Denver's "Back Home Again." This time I had the proper cable adapter to show the accompanying photo slide show that I had intended to show at the dinner. As for the music, however, I wasn't as well prepared as the first time.





Major world languages

Language 2002
(mn)
2010
(mn)
Chinese * 874 # 1,213
Spanish * 322 329
English * 341 328
Arabic ? 221
Hindi 366 # 182
Bengali 207 181
Portuguese 176 178
Russian * 167 144
Japanese 125 122
German 100 90

# : 2004 data for Chinese pertained only to Mandarin speakers, whereas data for Hindi speakers were defined more broadly.
Asterisks (*) denote the official languages of the United Nations, which also includes French (68 million speakers).

SOURCE: The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2004 & 2012

I speak Spanish, some Portuguese, and have dabbled in German, French, Italian, Russian, Catalan, and Quechua.


Major world religions

Religion 2002
(mn)
2010
(mn)
Christians 2,038 2,281
Muslims 1,226 1,553
Hindus 828 943
Chinese folk 389 454
Buddhists 364 463
Sikhs 24 24
Jews 14 15
Local, other 32 379
Non-religious 925 798

The obvious discontinuities in the last two lines of data are of uncertain origin.

SOURCE: The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2004 & 2012

I belong to the Episcopal Church and am annoyed at the recent polarization. According to a Theology quiz, I scored as a "Classical Liberal."


Ten Commandments

  1. Worship ONE God only
  2. No graven images
  3. No taking God's name in vain
  4. Keep Sabbath day holy
  5. Honor parents
  6. No stealing
  7. No murder
  8. No adultery
  9. No bearing false witness
  10. No coveting what others have

Seven deadly sins

  1. Pride
  2. Covetousness
  3. Lust
  4. Anger
  5. Gluttony
  6. Envy
  7. Sloth

Proverbs 6: 16-19

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:

haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies,
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Romans 12: 17, 21

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.

Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.

Niebuhr's
Serenity Prayer

Reinhold Niebuhr was a leading theologian of the mid-20th Century, and often wrote about foreign policy from a "Christian realist" perspective. From wikipedia.org:

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

.