October, 2008 - The old birth month has rolled around again - 71 and counting.  My health is good,
and I hope to live to be 100, but as I have told my students, if I "cashed in the chips" today, I would
still be grateful for many years of knowing and learning about life.  I really think that some folks live
their entire four score or more and never figure out that the best things in life are not the things you
can buy or the things you can own, but who you are, what you do, the friends you cherish, and how
much you value every breath that you are allowed to take while on this earth.
The new conductor of the UNT Symphony, David Itkin, produced his first concert this month.  I was
hoping to attend, but school duties and other "stuff" got in the way.  I really know nothing about Itkin,
but it is reported that he a composer, and I am hoping that he will take the time to look at some
things I plan to send across his desk in the future.  His predecessor, Anshel Brusilow, was a very
talented man (top of the heap), but he never bothered to acknowledge anything that I sent his way.  I
appreciate common courtesy from anyone in positions like this - even a note to say "thank you" for
sharing your work.  If he were a superstar who gets tons of mail from fans and other hungry
composers, a response would not be expected; but, let's face it, in spite of his tremendous talent,
he is just another local guy who overlooks courtesy unless it is politically expedient.
I tend to take the courtesy thing to the extreme - honestly trying to be accommodating to everyone
whom I meet - even the folks I don't really like.  I am courteous to the homeless people on the square
when I take my nightly walks; thus I have become an easy mark for panhandlers.  Do I feel used?  
Not really.  I am fully aware that some of those who ask for money for a meal are going to use it for
drugs or whatever else suits their craving at that moment, but since I usually have a little spare cash
in my wallet, it doesn't bother me to contribute graciously - expecting nothing in return from them and
no "great reward" down the way.  To me it just seems like the right thing to do.  I am fortunate that in
my life experience I have never encountered a person so mean-spirited that he/she wanted to rob
me or take great advantage of my generosity.  Such an encounter might change my attitude about
the whole thing.
Here I am talking about giving away money in a month in which billions of dollars were lost in the
world markets.  I lost a few thousand myself, but I am confident that the stock market will recover in
time.  Unfortunately, the spin-off may be millions of lay-offs and more homeless people out on the
street looking for handouts.

October, 1979 - Each time I attend a concert of the NTSU Orchestra, they provide a more thrilling
experience than before, and that's something you can't say about many orchestras, even the
professionals.  This outstanding group of university musicians and their brilliant conductor have long
been outside the league of other student groups, and the sounds they produce would stand up well
against the orchestras of most metropolitan areas around the nation.  Bravo Brusilow!  (This was
written before the latest name change of the university, and before I knew that Professor Brusilow
would never acknowledge my efforts to communicate.)
The woman was all of seven feet tall.  Her t-shirt bore the following inscription:  "I LIKE SMALL
PEOPLE.  I HAD TWO FOR BREAKFAST."
The photographer who did the kindergarten pictures this year had obviously done his homework.  
Realizing that "watch the birdie" and "say cheese" were too old fashioned for today's generation, he
came up with a new phrase that brought instant smiles from the group.  They all understood and
reacted accordingly, when he asked them to look at the camera and say, "Daddy has stinky feet."

RHYME FOR OUR TIME:  (Energy conservation was in the news - so what else is new?)

Turn up your thermostat, turn down your lights.
Go on daylight savings time, stay at home nights.

Insulate your attic - window, seam, and door.
Trade your beds for sleeping bags; it's cooler on the floor.

Wear you shorts and skivvies; get down to the skin.
No one's going to have to see except your next of kin.

Ration the TV, silence the CB; talk to the wife and the dog.
Unplug the toaster, the blender, the roaster; don't be an energy hog.

Those who learn to share and save deserve some sort of reward -
something to make them feel real good for trying so very hard.

The power companies have good news; it's not just good, it's great!
In appreciation for conservation they're raising our electric rate.