Dec 01

Looking back at 2016

Another busy year slips by. I’ve said it before but it seems truer with each passing year – as I grow older I am amazed how fast time seems to pass. Perhaps I should not be looking back!…but if I didn’t look back I would not have the memories of good times and special people I have met. Many thanks to all students, friends and other readers here at the blog.

Of course, starting off early in the 2016 with a trip to China for the Spring Festival….and ending the year with a return trip (#4) to my second city — Jinan, with a quick jaunt across the straights to the Island of Formosa – Taiwan, certainly helps to make the time pass by quickly. ….I enjoyed Taiwan very much and would like to go back and explore more of that tropical island in the future.



Don Fendler– (90) a man whose claim to fame was that at the age of 12 years, he was separated from his family on a hiking adventure in 1938, on Mt. Katahdin, Maine. He survived a 9 day ordeal and wrote a book about it called – Lost on a Mountain in Maine.

Professional golfer, Arnold Palmer (85). A classy guy.

Famed conservationist –John Craighead, along with his twin brother, (Frank, who died in 2001) documented countless hours of study in the wilds of Yellowstone Park as they observed grizzly bears.

Country music singer/songwriter Merle Haggard at the age of 79. Probably not as well known as Merle but every bit as much an authentic part of the American music lexicon, Stanley Dural Jr. – aka Buckwheat Zydeco.

The great piano player Leon Russel.

In August, I noted with sadness the passing of friend and recognized leader within the liberty movement, Mike Vanderboegh. …a tenacious guy.

Another classy guy with impeccable diction and terrific conversation skills; Peter Allen (96) — the well known voice associated with radio broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera in NYC, for 29 seasons – from 1975 to 2004. Great voice and extensive knowledge of opera. I learned much from the Saturday afternoon broadcasts over the years.

In October the world lost a right proper English gentleman and a very classy guy. Sir Neville Marriner, violinist turned symphony conductor and founder of the highly acclaimed Academy of Saint Martin of the Fields. He was one of the most recorded conductors of the 20th Century (more than 600 recordings of classical music) and passed at the ripe old age of 92.

…to name but a few.


A trip to Denver in September was a lot of fun. I enjoyed learning about the booming cannabis scene in Colorado. There is a lot of good stuff going on in Colorado lately and I sure will be going back sooner rather than later.

On the home front, after 8 years of working to upgrade soil and layout, the home vegetable garden has developed into an admirable patch of land with investments in permaculture crops like asparagus and blueberries. Still working on the apple tree. This year’s reports from early season, mid and late summer show the seasonal progress.

Movie reviews: From Hollywood;

13 Hours is the retelling of the tragic events that lead to the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. Though it is short on details about CIA meddling in the affairs of another nation (what else is new?), it highlights the drama and fear of those men who survived the horrific attack. This is the end result of fickle and foundering U.S. foreign policy under the misguidance of Obama’s State Department, headed by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The film could have been shorter, but it’s full of suspense that will keep your attention.

The Revanant – Leonardo DiCaprio earned an Academy Award for his performance portraying the true story of American trapper-scout and frontiersman Hugh Glass. There is little dialogue throughout the entire film, but the story line is compelling and the cinematography is spectacular. The film was shot in Canada, U.S. and Argentina.

Jason Bourne is the latest in the series about a brainwashed CIA agent gone rogue. Predictable but full of action and suspense complete with ridiculously unrealistic car chases and super-spy fist and cuffs in which Bourne always wins, of course. The movie is number 5 in the series following, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, and The Bourne Legacy. Jason Bourne is played by Matt Damon.

Hands of Stone starring one of my favorite actors, Robert De Niro as the legendary boxing trainer, Ray Arcel. The story tells of the rise of Panamanian world champion Roberto Duran and how he learned that boxing was much more than just knocking out the opponent. Boxing is a game of strategy and points. The fight scenes are typically fake, but the story line is good and Deniro, once again, shows his versatility as an actor.

I also watched a bunch of films while flying to and from Asia….too many to remember, but there was one that sticks out, about the life of Chet Baker; jazz trumpet player known for his style that was called the “West Coast cool- school of jazz”. He was a great horn player, until he had his teeth knocked out during an altercation involving a drug deal, but he also had a smooth-cool voice which was uncommon for trumpet players. The story line of the movie, titled Born to be Blue, was the typical story of the life of a talented musician who develops a bad drug problem that damages his playing ability and leads to a downward spiral of self-inflicted career derailment and eventually a premature death. He produced some great sounding jazz in the 50’s and 60’s. The film did a good job of portraying his earlier career and then the path to his sad and slow demise.

International films viewed online;

What’s in a Name? (French – 2013) Starts out serious and quickly goes to full blown hilarious! If you want to laugh go see this film. I loved this movie! My favorite for the year!

Mostly Martha (Italian – 2002) It is always fun and light to poke ridicule at various forms of human neurosis. Funny and worthy of number 2 for the year.

The Best Offer (Australian – 2014) – Starring the very talented actor from down under, Geoffrey Rush. The film is slow moving and a bit odd, but there is a really big twist at the end that is worth the wait. I didn’t see it coming.

Wintersleep (Turkish 2014) this film was long but pondered some interesting philosophical musings. However, to be honest, I think I fell asleep on the three attempts to watch and I am not sure I can remember the ending! Take that review for whatever you think it is worth.

The Dinner (Italian – 2014) An interesting drama unfolds between the families of two brothers as their children are accused of being involved in a serious crime. The film is highly thought provoking with a big scary surprise at the end! The number 3 winner in the International films category.



A link from Life-Hack about how to make learning easier. ..and another to learn ways to boost your memory. And one for search engines that are not Google.

A link with Anatomy tutorials.

Grammar girl link is a good resource for ESL students.

700 free audio books …the list continues to grow


2016 has been a year filled with over-the-top political correctness and infantile behavior from the emotionally hypersensitive and perpetually offended children of a nation of spoiled brats. It is absurd that universities and HR departments across the country have accepted the recent spate of childish protest related to “safe spaces” and other concerns of the self appointed social justice warriors as legitimate. Instead, these little shits should be rightfully mocked into eternity for their willful narrow world view and obliviousness to truth. With this in mind, I share a hilariously poignant and robust rant from- John Cleese. Thank you Mr. Cleese. It is disappointing that Mr. Cleese refuses to bring his comedy bit to American under the current politically correct climate.

We really could use a laugh. All of us!

In the meanwhile, please stay safe, try to remain sane (if that helps) and have a peaceful and



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    • Summer on December 13, 2016 at 5:29 am
    • Reply

    Yeah, How time flies! And it’s out of control. We can choose to cherish our time or waste it.
    Make the plans for your life,try our best to achieve our dreams. Each time you look back, you have good memories of special places and new skills learned. Each time you look back you find your life is colorful and that’s enough.

    1. Another year filled with new experiences and great memories. Thanks for being part of that for me.

    • May on December 15, 2016 at 8:35 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks for this informative and valuable post, Kevin. As always, I enjoy reading your blogs.
    People get used to looking back. When we look back in time, we find that life is like a journey. We can reflect on our travels. Along the way we saw beautiful vistas, met memorable people, we may have experienced joy or pain as well. We have planted seeds of friendship and harvested that bounty too. Then, we found the truth of life is to be embraced,rain or shine.
    Finally, I’d like to quote part of a poem written by Robert Frost:
    “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.”

    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment, May!
      I agree that all of life is like a journey and we should live it to the fullest. Learning from our experiences and reveling in the joy of those experiences and the friends we have met. Keep seeking and keep learning every day.

    • Grayson on December 21, 2016 at 9:01 pm
    • Reply

    Thank you for all your support over the past year. We witnessed the landmark 100 lessons together. It means a lot to me. You are a good mentor in addition to being a good teacher. I’ve learned much from you.

    Time is running so fast, isn’t it? This year I realize it. We have to cherish everyday, make it meaningful and fruitful. Someday, when we look back, there will be memories instead of regrets, even if some memories are not good…..

    My life is not as exciting as yours. However, this year has been memorable. I got married, had a surgery, traveled abroad and I’ve been involved in a law suits….haha!

    Wish you a joyful holiday season and the happiest of New Years!

    1. Grayson, I am touched by your words. I am grateful for your generous praise and humbled that you consider me a mentor. Likewise, I must tell you that you are more than just a student. I consider you a friend.
      You are correct in your observation of how quickly the time slips by. I’ve enjoyed our dinner meetings with conversation and, of course, our many games of Scrabble, as well! I’ve also learned a bit more about Chinese culture and I thank you for sharing.
      You have made terrific progress with your language study and your career. Growing your career has also enabled you to travel abroad and purchase your first apartment too. Unfortunately, with progress sometimes come new challenges. Lawsuits are never fun and I wish you the best of luck.
      I’m looking forward to 2017 as we continue to learn together.

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