What’s on your deathbed playlist?

What if being dead includes hearing the last song forever? Like that song lingers in your ear… The one you can’t get rid of… Remember when you got a tune stuck in your head… Looping endlessly in your music mind, playing over and over and over again. Call it a catchy tune. Like the music in the elevator, and you spent the rest of the day humming “Amazing Grace” as played by the Hollyridge Strings or Montovani’s Orchestra. You can’t shake that tune. You’re stuck with it until some other tune catches you and you hum that one until another… Sometimes it’s embarrassing. You catch yourself humming a really stupid song that slipped through your defenses. There you are with “It’s a Small Small World” stuck in your music mind loop.

What if being dead means hearing that last tune forever. As if your eternal spirit carries that last bit of music into the hereafter and it lingers there.  Better hope you got a good one.  Eternity is a long time.  If you’re going to listen forever it really matters what you’re hearing at the end. People who are expert in Hospice care tell us that dying people continue to hear what’s going on around them unto the very last moments. That’s why it makes sense if you visit someone in a Hospice to talk about the fun things you did together. Even if they seem far gone.  They can barely squeeze your hand or bat an eyelash, yet they still hear everything.  Be sure to talk about your fondest memories. Talk about music that you both loved. Why not play that piece of music?  Heaven forbid the last thing you hear is somebody stupid ringtone and you spend all of eternity humming that marimba song.

So what is on your deathbed playlist? You do want to choose your deathbed music, don’t you? The sounds around Hospice always seem to be hushed up, as if everybody is trying to be so quiet. What if there was something really upbeat. Or a special song like “Our Song” whatever it is. I sure want to pick the last song I’m gonna hum for the rest of eternity.

What made me even think of this? I was listening to a wonderful band called the Chivalrous Crickets. They play Irish and Celtic stuff with a lot of tin whistle, fiddle and pipes. Some of their stuff is just rips!  A lot of Irish tunes come as a medley with a slow start, something medium in the middle and the third part comes at a frantic pace, rollicking, riotous, rip-roaring, rowdy, and raucous. I was listening to their version of the Bonnie Prince Charlie March, tapping my foot, slapping my thigh.  I thought, “this is exactly what I want to be able to hear for the rest of eternity.” That started me thinking about my deathbed playlist.

I imagine myself in Hospice. I’m checking out. Last call. But Hospice background music is all quiet, mellow, and serene… I want to romp into eternity with raucous stuff that elevates my spirit, not elevator music.

I want music that makes me want to dance and slap my thigh. If I am lingering at the edge of death, I may just bat my eyelids in time with the music. But if rollicking music can’t arouse me, then I’m gone. That’s what I want to hear as I exit this life. Let me go to eternity whistling a tune that elevates my spirit. 

Everyone has music that makes you feel great. Make a list.  If you get run over by a truck it was a waste of time, but if you are going to linger on a deathbed, then play your list.  Pick your tunes now.  At the very least, make a playlist on Spotify.  Call it the Deathbed Playlist.

I want to strike a deal with that band. I want to pay them a fee now and when I get to hospice, they come and play music that just rips. Play Bonnie Prince Charlie March. Pull out all the stops. Play it through and then do it double time.  If I don’t slap my thigh or tap my foot or wiggle a toe… I’m dead. Tell the doctors. 


My New Book is Out – Dream Wizard Escapes 

My New Book is Out – Dream Wizard Escapes 

It’s a dream story, it’s a great dog story, it’s an adventure story, it’s a bedtime story and a romp in dream land. It is Dream Wizard Escapes, a new novel by Alex Randall. It’s the perfect book to help chase away the nightmares of COVID, shutdown, facemasks and injustice.  

Dream Wizard Escapes is perfect for tweener readers, and perfect for parents to use as a bed time story for younger kids.

The story is set in Boston with our hero, Sandy and his dog Mr. Harris Tweed. Sandy is kidnapped and has to dream his escape.  But he gets captured. And gets tossed in with another kid and they try to escape and get captured again. Tied up and gagged lying in the bottom of a closet, they have to figure an escape plans in their dream world. Their adventure takes them to Knight School where Sandy and Katarina solve their dilemma with the help of other kids at Knight School a lot of squirrels.  It can only happen in dreams.

Dr. Montague Ullman, American Dream Researcher said, “Randall is the ONLY person writing about dreams FOR children.”  The wonderful and educational bedtime story is easily understood by a child, and will definitely appeal to the imagination. Parents will find it engaging when they read it to younger children. It conveys an important message to the child: you can solve problems in your dreams!


Dream Wizard Escapes is also an incredible work of art with beautiful original artwork by professional artist Candace Whittemore Lovely. Her paintings are in museums and private collections; one is in the White House, hence stunning illustrations set in Boston around Beacon Hill. That’s the same neighborhood as Make Way for Ducklings. Whether you get this book for your child, or read it to them or give it to other children, you are helping the children know they can conquer their nightmares. 


The book is available on Amazon and at http://www.dream-wizard.com

About the Author and Illustrator

Alex Randall is a teacher, writer, newscaster and the creator of America’s first e-commerce business, The Boston Computer Exchange. He is Professor of Communication at the University of the Virgin Islands with advanced degrees from Princeton and Columbia. He wrote his doctoral thesis for Margaret Mead about a tribe of dreamers. Dr. Randall spent years teaching all over the world and once lived on Mt. Vernon Square.

Go see http://www.dr-dream.com for more information about dreaming. 

AlexRandall5.com is a rich library of recordings from notable people talking about dreaming 

Candace Whittemore Lovely is a Boston Impressionist. She has won numerous awards and many galleries have given her one-woman shows.  Among her many other credits is painting the official White House portrait of Mrs. Barbara Bush, and the official portrait of Fenway Park for the 1999 All Star Games. She lives in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Her art is available in Boston at the Copley Society and the Nantucket Gallery at #4 India Street.

Good news June 15 2020

Good News Monday, June 15th 2020

“Not just the good news, we have excellent news.”

Did you know that the Band-Aid bandage is 100 years old. Band-Aids! Around 100 years. Johnson & Johnson employee Earle Dickson invented the Band-Aid in 1920. His wife burned herself while cooking. Dickson created, produced and marketed the Band-Aid. The first ones are handmade. In 1924. They invented a machine to make them. In 1939 they started sterilizing them And they went to war. Millions of them. In 1951 Band-aid got faces; Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Johnson & Johnson is sold over 100 billion Band-Aids worldwide. Guess what, they just added skin colors. It only took 100 years. Band-Aids will now come in light, medium and dark shades of brown and black.

The results align with previous research showing airborne transmission as the most virulent route for new infections. Though spread can occur by direct (via touching) and indirect (via surfaces) means, viral particles have been shown to survive for hours when aerosolized from coughing or sneezing.

Nicholas Kristof did some research. The women won. Based upon the death rate from COVID in 21 countries around the world. 13 led by men vs. 8 led by women. The countries where women ran the country did better. Nations led by the women lost 1/5 fewer people than the nations led by men. One fifth fewer. What could be going on? In New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Norway, countries run by women. What did they get right? Men tend to be authoritarian and glorious and blustering. Women tend to ask questions of experts and listen to their advice and answers. Any man who does not believe it. When was the last time you stop to ask for directions?

Hey Good news Guys – I am VITO listening in Milan Italy on the internet. I love hearing good news. In Milan municipality they are having the “Summer Sfor-zes-ca” goes on all summer with 80 events, more than 40 concerts, 20 theatrical performances and 4 dance performances, with free admission or reduced price. That’s definitely good news for culture and music! Vito says Hey Bella Sera! Alex says you have the best Italian restaurant anywhere so I am flying from Italy just to taste your food! Be ready, Vito is coming!

Shout out to Tanner Kenin in Des Moines, Iowa. High school kid making good news. He got a bunch of his buddies together to deliver groceries to shut ins; grandparents, pregnant women, folks who can’t go out. Tanner organized volunteers, some 15 high school peers and some others. They are making 45 deliveries every week. He noticed that his grandparents were having trouble getting groceries. Then it hit him that a lot of elders at the same problem. It turns out, some seven percent of American seniors are food insecure. They might live right around the corner from you

Here is another kid who has perseverance pays off. Martin Folsom: First in his class at the Randolph Career Academy in Jacksonville Florida. Martin had to overcome all kinds of difficulties to get to be valedictorian. He was homeless for three years of High school. He said that whenever things got tough. He would say to himself, “I just got to keep myself up and keep going forward.”

There are people now talking about sidewalk etiquette. We are supposed to be maintaining social distance. Lots of people are outside these days. getting exercise… running errands and a lot of people have picking up healthy walking. So it turns out, sidewalks are full. Sidewalks were not made for six foot spaces among us. So people have shown “sidewalk rage” People get mad because: not enough room. So make some good walking news. Plan for the less traveled route. Pay attention to people up ahead of you. Be mindful of your phone or your music machine. A quick hello, a head nod or smile helps. Don’t be afraid to scoot over. Stand to the side. Stand on the curb, Remember, you’re sharing airspace with other people. And joggers, your heavy breathing is dispersing aerosols. Joggers pick a place to run, that minimizes how much you face other people. Make some good news with an old-fashioned “excuse me.” Everybody appreciates it.

Face masks are the most efficient method of preventing the spread of the coronavirus, according to a new analysis of infection data from Northern Italy and New York City. The data revealed that mandates for facial coverings in the two epicenters correlated with a drop in the number of new cases by roughly half and two-thirds, respectively, over the time period studied (see paper, Fig. 2).

"The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be told." Pete Seeger

Think Outside the Banana

Why are we thinking outside the box? You hear it all the time. “You gotta think outside the box.” They tell us to be creative, we have to stop thinking inside the box, and think outside the box. This is a lot of thinking about boxes. Why are we thinking about boxes? We are limiting our creativity focusing on the stupid box.

If you want to be creative, think outside the banana. Think outside your comfort zone. Think outside your usual world. Think outside the universe for that matter, that’s what Stephen Hawking did. Get outside our world, think outside everything.

Creativity is a precious commodity. For most people, our work is prescribed. You do what someone told you to do. If your sheepherder, everything you need to know about herding sheep you learned from your grandfather. The ideas haven’t changed in millennia. All you have to do is what has been done before. For a lot of us, our jobs are all prescribed. Just do what’s in the book. Just do it the way other folks do it. If you’re a bookkeeper, or shopkeeper, or a waitress, or even lawyers and doctors, most of what you do is exactly the same as it has always been. Just follow the rules. Do what’s in the book.

But when you’re trying to do something really new, you can’t follow the rules. The rules take you to the same old place. You have to break the rules, or at least bend them if you’re going to do something new. New ideas disrupt old ideas. And people with new ideas upset everyone who is following the rules.

I had moments when I invented things. In the early 1980’s I ran a little computer business in Boston. We figured out that people who already owned a computer couldn’t buy a new one until they got rid of the old one. So we set up a business to help people sell their computers. We ran it like we were real estate brokers. We took listings. We made a database of all the owner’s names and what they had to sell. It was painfully local. We only served people in our town who knew us. But the best buyer might be far away. I was frustrated and on day I cried out, “I wish I could paint all of our data on the moon so everyone on earth could see it.” That is crazy! But crazy ideas can be tamed down and made workable. While painting data on the moon is crazy, that idea made us to think about how we could make our data accessible to more people. There was a company in our town setting up an electronic bulletin board. They needed content, and we had content. They made room on their system for people to see and search through our data about computers for sale. The first day our data was available, we got a call from a buyer in Chile. Suddenly, our tiny local business had gone global. That was 1983. And we had created the world’s first e-commerce business. We were not just thinking outside the box; we were thinking outside everything.

Every new idea enters the universe totally devoted to the old idea. There is a whole ecosystem organized around the old idea. If the new idea doesn’t fit with existing things that aren’t changing, then the new idea withers and dies. New ideas have to find fertile ground, they need other systems around them that are ready to adapt and change to the new idea.

New ideas need followers too. Leadership is not about the crazy person with a new idea, leadership is all about the second person who gets on board. One person with a new idea is a lunatic. Two people who share the new idea are the beginning of the movement. And once a dozen people are on board, there’s practically nothing that can stop them. But if the second person who hears the new idea says, “that’s stupid,” the new idea will die.

This is particularly important right here and right now. We are poised on the brink of a new era. A lot of the old era has been swept away. We lamented its loss, and now it’s gone. As we reinvent who we are and how we operate, we have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves with a lot of new ideas. If we just do it the same old way, we will have missed the opportunity.

Stop thinking outside the box. 
Think outside the banana!

Think outside the elephant!

Think outside the galaxy!

Stop thinking outside boxes and think outside THINKING!

Thought Experiment

Thought experiment: What is thinking like with no language? Imagine having a language of 1000 words or 100 words or 10 words. Our ancestors must have had an era with virtually no language.

What was thought like then?
It may have been much more like our current dreams. What we call thinking may have been dreamier – visual images… auditory sounds… images linked together by visual analogies, metaphors and puns. Dead people would be prominent. Memory would be like being there. The voices and admonitions of ancestors would have dominated. We would have heard our ancestors. We would have faces we don’t recognize delivering ideas as visions. We would eahc have our own pantheon of “gods…” disembodied voices and faces that seem to know what to do and how to behave.

As we acquired language we displaced this kind of thinking.

Polytheism may be the natural result of everyone having their own set of voices and faces of gods. We had our own pantheon of angels and demons.

We set a record!

We set a record!

The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have the largest electrical blackouts in US history. Second-largest blackout in the world. At least it is not JUST us, the bulk of the record setting outage is on Puerto Rico.

The research firm, the Rhodium Group, conducted a study of the magnitude of the electrical blackout in Puerto Rico US Virgin Islands and how it compares to other blackouts around the world. They studied all the blackouts around the world that are not part of some war experience. They used government statistics, academic literature, primary news reports compile worldwide data electrical blackouts and we win!
We had 3.4 billion customer hours without electricity. That’s a record for the United States. It’s almost comical that the second-largest blackout in US history was caused by Hurricane Georges! We got that blackout too! Among the top ten blackouts are Hurricanes Irma, and Hugo. In fact, we got blacked out five of the top 10 blackouts in America. We are like blackout KINGS!

The really good news is that on a world scale, we came in second. The only larger blackout history than our Maria was when Typhon Haiyan hit the Philippines and produced 6.1 billion hours of lost power.
The researchers also say that power is back for some 96% Puerto Rico while 53,000 customers are still in the dark.
News of our record electrical blackouts provoked a response in Washington. US Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts called the power failures “out of control.” And called on the Trump administration to take on responsibility for the outages. Other government officials are concerned because many people who left the islands after the storms are living in the states in evacuee hotels. FEMA won’t pay that bill forever.
I am sure everyone joins me in wishing our Water and Power Authority all possible support. We bear no ill will! We wish nothing but success to our Water and Power Authority. We REALLY appreciate all the effort that has been made by the staff. The people of WAPA are stars. Gems!
Yet, there is nothing we would all like quite as much as reliable electricity. We keep hearing that various things being done by WAPA will turn the corner on reliability. At one point the propane was going to solve the reliability problem. At another point rented generators would make a difference. The storms of course wreaked havoc with the distribution system. And we are all looking forward to those new small Wartsilla generators to provide more reliability.
It really would be smart to bury our utility lines. Imagine having a hurricane raging all around us and all the electricity still on! Imagine having electricity the day after the storm! Imagine having electricity without having periodic blackouts.
Whatever you have, a generator, backup batteries, battery flashlight, candles, that’s the “WAPA Tax” you pay for not having a reliable electricity.