Rhubarb Diaries | Allan Besselink Allan Besselink | Official Site Of The Smart Life Project, Smart Physio, Rhubarb Diaries, And Mobius Intermedia http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb Thu, 19 Oct 2017 23:30:54 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Giving Thanks 2014 http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1300-giving-thanks-2014 http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1300-giving-thanks-2014 IMG_20141127_104539_972Thanksgiving is upon us once again. Thanksgiving always provides us with a day to eat turkey, catch some lovely fall weather (fingers always crossed), and take in another University of Texas football game against some unspecified cross-state rival (Texas Fight Texas Fight Yeah Texas Fight).

None of my family live in Texas. They are all still in Canada, so they celebrated Thanksgiving Day in October, otherwise known as Columbus Day in the United States. I don't mind celebrating two Thanksivings, especially if doing so provides the potential for more turkey.

Thanksgiving Day is followed by Black Friday, a day of retail specials and sales. Ugh. The best part of Black Friday is that it reminds me of a great song by Steely Dan, but I digress.

But with all kidding aside, Thanksgiving is a day to Give Thanks.

This year, I find myself acutely aware of  the meaning behind the holiday. It has, admittedly, been one of my most challenging years on the planet. In retrospect, I definitely see the importance of giving thanks for what we have in the here and now because, frankly, it might not be here tomorrow.

The challenging days of our lives make us who we are. The man that sits here tapping away at another blog post is but a product of his life experiences. As challenging as they may have been, they make me the man that I am. Lincoln once said "there is no failure, only opportunity" and I couldn't agree with him more. I am thankful for the life experiences I have had, be they good or bad, because they have made life vivid, brilliant, and memorable.

Family and friends are the glue that hold it all together. Sometimes I don't see them as often as I would like. I miss them when I don't see them, and I laugh with them when I do.

If I didn't have laughter and the levity contained within, I would be lost. I am thankful for laughter in my world. Without it, I would be ... not laughing. Go ahead, laugh.

In the quieter moments, I am thankful for the capacity to reflect on my world. It has lead me down the avenue of creativity and the boulevard of self expression. If I had never gone there, I wouldn't have ever written my first poem or played my first notes on the guitar.

If you are fortunate, there will come a time when something you have written resonates with someone. With that said, I am thankful for the support and inspiration of each and every reader of this blog. It makes a difference in my world, and I am forever grateful and thankful for it.

So I ask you to do this today, even if  this isn't Thanksgiving in your part of the world. Pause for a moment during your day and reflect. What are you thankful for today?

When you establish this, take another moment and share it with those around you. Make it real. Smile. And truly enjoy Thanksgiving.

Photo credits: abesselink

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ab@allanbesselink.com (Allan Besselink) Rhubarb Diaries Thu, 27 Nov 2014 20:46:25 +0000
The Guitar Zone Revisited http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1296-the-guitar-zone-revisited http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1296-the-guitar-zone-revisited IMG_1476657827182I had never really planned on walking away from the guitar, not that I ever did so completely anyway. With that said, getting back on stage, guitar in hand, really wasn't on my radar for the immediate future.

That was until my friend Tad Hillin mentioned that he would be playing a gig at Strange Brew in Austin on August 31. As it was also his birthday, he was planning on having an open jam after the gig with fellow musician friends. About 6 weeks out from the gig, he suggested I bring my guitar and play.

Six weeks away. Minimal callouses on my fingers. Dexterity a little rusty. And the guitar chops faded from a time that seemed like eons ago.

Of course I would.

I'd played many a venue and open mic in the early to mid-'90s. But as we all know, our lives - and focus - evolves over time. Timing is everything. Lo and behold, almost two decades had passed with nary a guitar chord played anywhere but the confines of my own home if that. No worries though. Creativity has an organic existence of its own. There comes a time when it is time to create, and I knew in my heart of hearts that the timing would be correct again, sooner or later.

Fast forward to July. The idea of playing live sounded fine and good. That was until the moment of clarity hit: callouses on my fingers that were barely in existence, and what felt like minimal fluency in a language I had once spoken so well. It was time to practice. Back in the day I would play until my fingers were raw. Fortunately I have gained some degree of sanity in my older years. Patience would be required.

The night of August 31 arrived. It soon came time to jam. Just throw the guitar over the shoulder, plug in, throw caution to the wind, and, well, just see what happens - right?

I have spoken at conferences of 500 or more participants. I have played guitar on stage in front of a couple hundred people. None of that has ever fazed me. I rarely get anxious performing in front of a group of people. Until the night of August 31. A least for a few moments.

But as the song says, "only for a moment and the moment's gone". The initial trepidation soon eased. The notes started flowing, the rhythm started grooving, and suddenly I found myself, head down, doing something I'd not done in the better part of a couple of decades.

There is a special place that I could always go to when I played live, a happy place where I would be fully immersed in the notes and chords and rhythms. Call it "the zone" if you will. On that night in August, I had fleeting glimpses of it once again. There were moments when my mind would fly back to the early '90s, times when I would play at an open mic or sit in with my friends Third Degree. It was that happy place again, a place where my fingers would know where to go, my slide would weave notes around the chords, my solos were singing, my grooves were tight.

Ah yes, I remember it oh so well.

And then I would unceremoniously fall out of the zone when my lack of chops would emerge. To be expected, no doubt.

I was reminded of how special an experience it is to express, to improvise, to create, to share with the public. I remembered what that felt like, albeit a feeling that was a little faded with the passage of time. It was special nonetheless.

The world of live music welcomed me back with open arms. Don't worry, it won't be another 20 years before you see me on stage again. Promise.

Photo credits: L. Ciavarini via abessselink

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ab@allanbesselink.com (Allan Besselink) Rhubarb Diaries Fri, 31 Oct 2014 18:56:32 +0000
Playlist Ponderings: Stevie Ray Vaughan At The NAC http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1290-playlist-ponderings-stevie-ray-vaughan-at-the-nac http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1290-playlist-ponderings-stevie-ray-vaughan-at-the-nac Waiting for the SunIt was a solitary musical moment that would be forever etched in my mind. What it became was a life-changing event of epic proportions.

August 16, 1984. Thirty years ago. It was an early 15th birthday present - a show at the National Arts Center in Ottawa featuring none other than Stevie Ray Vaughan.

The first notes fired out from the worn-down Fender Strat that night can still be heard echoing in the back of my mind. My jaw dropped and I sat there mesmerized. I remember the moment like it was yesterday.

Stevie Ray spoke to me in a language that I understood. Direct. Heartfelt. Raw. And it changed my life.

I'd already cut my teeth on "Texas Flood" (released 6/13/83) and "Couldn't Stand The Weather" (released 5/15/84). I found myself deeply immersed in Texas blues. It was other-worldly to a Canadian kid in small town Canada.

But then there was that fateful night at the NAC. I sat there dumbfounded, in awe of Stevie's guitar prowess and showmanship. This three piece was tremendous - Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon holding down the rhythm, and Stevie out front doing his thang. Add to that the acoustic splendor of the National Arts Center, one of the finest performance venues in the country, and you have quite the visceral experience.

I walked away from there that night realizing that I needed to find out more about Austin and the music scene that was Stevie's foundation. Something inside me was drawn to it. I felt compelled to learn more about it and to fully experience it some day.

It wasn't that long after that I taught myself how to play guitar.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

I made my first trip to Austin in the spring of 1988. I returned the following year and played at my first open mic here. The next step was to move here, setting foot in the heart of Texas on August 15, 1990.

Over the years, I had the opportunity to see Stevie Ray Vaughan 4 times before his tragic death on August 27, 1990. His passing came on my birthday, of all days, and I always spend a few minutes of that day, year in and year out, listening to "Texas Flood".

Looking back, that one night in Ottawa would be the ticket to a life lived deep in the heart of Texas. After 24 years, it is most certainly home.

Thank you, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, for putting Austin on the map for me. Life wouldn't have been the same without you - in so many ways.

Photo credits: justinjensen

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ab@allanbesselink.com (Allan Besselink) Rhubarb Diaries Sun, 17 Aug 2014 02:47:26 +0000
Write Now! 2014 http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1284-write-now-2014 http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1284-write-now-2014 IMG_20140429_101319_338I'd originally just planned it as a quick trip to west Texas. It was going to be just a few days to get away, to breath, to simply find some peace and quiet in a what had become a rather emotionally challenging world over the past couple of months.

Little did I know it would become something far greater. Serendipity.

Please allow me to introduce what I am now calling Write Now! 2014. Here's the story - and the results from the adventure that it proved to be.

I'd never been out to west Texas before, but many of my friends have continued to rave about it. Traveling by train has always been fun for me - it was how I originally moved to Texas (another story deserving of its own post).

So I jumped on a train and headed to Alpine, Texas. Yes, an 8 hour train trip from San Antonio to Alpine. Yes, the sprawling community of Alpine, population 5,900 or so nestled in amongst three mountain ranges and just north of Big Bend National Park.

Some of you might be wondering right now about my choice of vacation hot-spots and travel adventures. I wouldn't blame you!

But as the story line evolved, it became more than just a respite in a quiet place. It became an opportunity to reflect. It became an opportunity to step away from the distractions and - write. Take some photos. Write some more. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

It worked. Exquisitely, I might add.

Alpine is a pretty cool little town, perhaps not as "hip" as a place like Marfa, but a good place to relax and unwind. It was quiet; well, except for what seemed like the never-ending wind buffeting in my ears.  I stayed at the Maverick Inn, a wonderful little hotel tagged as "A Roadhouse For Wanderers". Could there be a more appropriately named place for a creative retreat?

It was a bit of a whirlwind trip. Here are the raw details:

Total trip time: 77 hours (58 of those in Alpine)

Total miles: 929 (772 by train, 144 by car, and, yes, 13 by foot)

Writing: around 12,000 words total over a total of 22 hours (approx.)

Photos: 139

Along the way, I found the world's best hot dog at Cow Dog. What a surprise. Serendipity, indeed.

What did I learn along the way? Lets face it: the only way you get better at anything is to reflect, learn from your experiences, refine how you approach it, and do it! In order to improve any skill, you have to practice and practice and practice some more. Writing is no different. Life is the same. But in order to create (or live), you somehow have to remove the distractions and just get down to it. Don't hold back. Focus. Put 100% into it. You have to be in a mind space to create. Alpine presented just that.

Mission accomplished. Thanks to all the great folks at the Maverick for making my stay a fantastic one.

We all have a story to tell – in words, in song, in pictures. Write your story now!

I look forward to Write Now! 2015. Anyone up for the adventure?

Photo credits: abesselink

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ab@allanbesselink.com (Allan Besselink) Rhubarb Diaries Sun, 11 May 2014 01:32:56 +0000
Memories Of Senna http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1281-memories-of-senna http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1281-memories-of-senna Ayrton Senna - Toleman F1 Brands HatchMay 1, 1994 is a day that will forever stand in infamy. If I close my eyes and pause for a moment, the memories come flooding back with great clarity. They still remain vivid yet at the same time sad and haunting.

May 1, 1994 is when the world lost Ayrton Senna at Imola.

Time, as we all know, passes us by quickly. It is hard to believe that two decades have passed. Today I share a few thoughts and reflections on the legend that is Senna.

I can go back to that fateful moment 20 years ago like it was yesterday. The memories today are still as vivid as when I wrote this post five years ago.

Since then, we have been given the beautiful movie "Senna", which did an amazing job of showing the many diverse sides of "Eye-Air-Ton" Senna (the correct pronunciation per Murray Walker). I went to see it on opening night and have watched it a number of times since then. But I have yet to be able to watch the whole movie without shedding a tear or 10 during his fateful weekend at Imola. It's that powerful a movie. Who needs a plot line when you have a real life timeline from which to work?

I had the opportunity to watch Senna race live, and I will be the first to say that back in the day, I really wasn't much of a fan. He was ruthless on the track, much like Michael Schumacher and, well, all the greats before and since. Let's face it - to succeed in F1, you have to be ruthless to some degree. You have to be convinced that you are the best in the world at any given moment. One pause, one hesitation, is the difference between first and second. As a race fan, he was a very polarizing driver. It was easy to develop a "love-hate" relationship with him.

Over time though, you come to truly appreciate his burning desire to be the best and to push the envelope, to take the car well and truly past its limits, to put it on the pole when it probably should have never been there. When you look at those that followed him, you further appreciate his amazing skills, especially as the "rain master". He was the fastest, he was the best in the rain, and he exhibited a passion that we've not really seen in Formula One since then.

That's not to say that Formula One is any less spectacular than it was. The technology is light years beyond where it was in 1994. The safety is as well. The lives lost over that fateful weekend at Imola in 1994 (let us not forget Roland Ratzenberger's death on April 30, overshadowed perhaps by the loss of icon Senna the next day) instigated the research and development of the driver safety that exists today. Though there have been plenty of epic shunts since then (Robert Kubica at the Canadian GP in 2007 comes to mind), no lives have been lost in F1 since Senna's passing.

But with all of that said, Formula One just isn't the same without a Senna. It lacks the fire and the passion of a Senna.

Today, I can only wonder what Senna might have achieved in 1994 and beyond - in F1, and in his home country of Brazil.

We all have our memories of Senna that have stuck with us all these years. Twenty years later, we reflect on your passing, Ayrton. We miss you. And we thank you for showing us what it is really like to watch a truly brilliant driver - in the sun, and in the rain. It was a spectacle that will live on in our hearts and in our minds.

Photo credits: PSParrot

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ab@allanbesselink.com (Allan Besselink) Rhubarb Diaries Thu, 01 May 2014 19:38:09 +0000
Learning From Loss http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1278-learning-from-loss http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1278-learning-from-loss water or tears?Wise men say that we won't face more adversity in life than we can handle. Wise men say that each moment of our lives prepares us to live life more fully today and tomorrow.

I can say that over the past few weeks, I have been a little hard-pressed to feel or truly appreciate the wisdom of the wise.

Loss. It is something that invariably and eventually appears in our lives. We will all experience loss in some way or another: a friend, a family member, a love. Loss makes an appearance in our world and can challenge us to the core of our being – but there is much to be learned.

It doesn't matter whom (or what) you've lost or how. It brings with it emptiness, a virtual hole in your heart that you feel won't ever fill in. The tears flow freely at first. Moments become hours. Hours become days. Maybe the edginess wears off quickly - and maybe it doesn't.

With any luck, the tears become intermittent, interspersed with moments of peace within. Until, of course, a thought or memory brings the groundswell of emotion back again.

There comes a time when we somehow manage to peer through the tears to reflect upon what was once an integral part of our lives. We can finally see how those past experiences made our life more vivid. Although we feel the pain today, we have had the beauty of the life experiences we shared yesterday, and the vibrancy of a future blessed with the reflections of this beauty. It moves forward with us.

Over the past week, I have been at a loss to describe the sensation of, well, loss. I've found myself challenged to understand why, to comprehend the wisdom of the wise, and to truly, deeply believe that that wisdom is there for the taking. As much as I understand intellectually, the reality of life moving forward and everything getting better eventually, it oftentimes fails to quell the angst within. I know the peace and tranquility of life will return, but it seems furthest from reality right now.

We try to learn from it and grow through it and simply be persistent in getting to that "better place" in the journey, hopefully more vibrant and transformed than before. But there is a not-so-subtle reminder that slaps you in the face repeatedly: we only have now. Right here, right now.

That's where the learning hopefully comes in. Don't wait until tomorrow to tell someone you love them, or that you appreciate them, or that their presence makes your world a better place. Don’t wait to do something tomorrow. Because you know what? The truism is simple: we only have now. The sooner we learn that, the better.

Photo credits: gre.ceres

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ab@allanbesselink.com (Allan Besselink) Rhubarb Diaries Mon, 07 Apr 2014 02:50:29 +0000
Playlist Ponderings: David Grissom http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1264-playlist-ponderings-david-grissom http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1264-playlist-ponderings-david-grissom David Grissom at the Saxon PubThe flicker of an idea had been there for some time, but the flame was doused with gasoline when I read the article from "Guitar Player" magazine. It was entitled "Big Guitars From Austin". The issue: December 1986.

Stevie Ray Vaughan and his smoldering blues guitar had initially brought Austin to my attention in 1983 or 1984. But when I read this article, I realized that Austin was nirvana for guitar players. There was a seemingly endless list: Eric Johnson, Omar Dykes, Denny Freeman, Derek O'Brien, Doug Sahm, Jimmie Vaughan, W.C. Clark. Apparently, this was a city that I needed to explore - pronto.

But looking back on that article, there is one musician that now truly stands out in a sea of Austin six-string guitar slingers: David Grissom.

I will admit that in 1986, I knew absolutely nothing about Grissom. The article exposed me to the presence of the then-26-year old "stellar country rocker who is equally at home playing blues" who was playing with Joe Ely at the time. My curiosity grew, and I started to become increasingly aware of his name and the reviews of his guitar prowess.

Of course, that was solidified when I heard Ely's "Live At Liberty Lunch" (1990). This may in fact be one of the best live albums ever recorded - and right here in my own backyard! That one blew my doors off. Although the band was incredibly tight, it was the chunky sound of Grissom's PRS laying the foundation and his solos bewildering me with sounds that I'd not heard pulled together in one place that really caught my ear.

Fast forward a few years in the Grissom timeline and you will find the band Storyville. To this day, I believe that they were one of (if not the) greatest bands that Austin has ever witnessed. I first experienced them at Stubb's Barbeque - in the small, dimly-lit downstairs club - and I was blown away. End of story.

It was a sad day when I heard the news that Storyville were splitting up. As you might imagine, there was no way I was missing that show.

Now, Grissom has his own band - and what a band it is. What is hard for me to imagine is that I have the opportunity to see him live, weekly, at a free happy hour show on a Tuesday night at the Saxon Pub. Only in Austin - the Live Music Capital Of The World - can you see someone like Grissom wood-shedding, testing the waters and extending the boundaries before he goes on tour. Oh, and grab a word with him after the show as well. Pretty cool, indeed.

There is an incendiary quality to his playing. Grissom is more than just another guitar player stringing a bazillion notes together to sound like just more widdly-widdly-widdly. The beauty of seeing him perform up close at the Saxon is the moment during a song - a solo, a riff, a moment - when you see and hear him go someplace new. Epic and surreal moments of sonic exploration.

But it’s more than that. I can distinctly remember a day this past summer when he tore into Albert King's "Crosscut Saw". It brought a moment of clarity and purity to an otherwise difficult day. His playing cut to the core and, once again, spoke to me in ways that only the notes could do. He’s also penned some fine lyrics.

It also reminded me of the importance of my own playing, and triggered me to put renewed efforts into an instrument and mode of expression that I so dearly love. Thanks, David, for the reminder and inspiration to regain those calluses.

Over the years, David Grissom has become one of my favorite guitar players on the planet. And to think it all started for me in the pages of "Guitar Player" back in 1986. Play on, David, play on!

Photo credits: abesselink

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ab@allanbesselink.com (Allan Besselink) Rhubarb Diaries Tue, 17 Dec 2013 19:02:03 +0000
Rhubarb Report 081 http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1254-rhubarb-report-081 http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1254-rhubarb-report-081 Rheum rhabarbarum - RhubarbThere is nothing more amusing than a cold front barreling into Austin in December. It can certainly be an ominous proposition as freezing rain can shut the city down in the blink of an eye. Although I grew up shoveling snow from my doorstep, removing a half inch slab of ice from your car in the morning can be a daunting task indeed.

A week prior to the impending front, meteorologists were projecting the end of the world - or the winter wonderland equivalent of it. As it turned out, it was all much ado over almost nothing - again. The fear and paranoia of the impending doom made the whole experience far worse than it really needed to be.

Please, oh please, could we have a voice of climatological reason in the deep south?

In the meantime, grab a cup of hot cocoa and get ready for the next episode of the Rhubarb Report.

1. December 7 was the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This year also brought with it the 12th anniversary of the World Trade Center attack. Although these two tragic moments in US history are far removed in context and time line, they serve to remind us of the importance of our values and freedoms.

Sadly, it is in these moments - when our collective consciousness is shaken and our foundations are torn asunder - that we are given a reality check and kick-in-the-butt reminder of our own mortality and fragility. Freedom is a daily struggle of which we should never lose sight. I just wish we didn't have to experience these things to make us realize it and to embrace it, only to become complacent and ambivalent when we are comfortable once again.

2. This week also brought us another sad moment: the passing of Nelson Mandela. He became the first black president of South Africa in 1994, ending apartheid in his country. Even after being imprisoned for 27 years, he exchanged hatred for reconciliation and peace in order to do what he felt was right for his country.

Mandela gave us many inspiring words, but one quote that I find particularly memorable is

"The greatest glory of living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall."

As we reflect on Mandela's passing, let us also not forget the 20th anniversary of Human Rights Day - Tuesday December 10.

3. Finally, as a Longhorn football fan, I can say that I am actually pleased that the regular season is now officially over. I have found it almost offensive to think that this team was projected as a potential national championship contender back in August. However, it requires a lot of spin to see any improvement: an 8-4 record an Alamo Bowl appearance against a school from Oregon. All for the low, low price of $5 million a season for a head coach.

Now, another reality check. Mack Brown (158-47 at Texas) is within 9 wins of tying Darrell Royal's record for number of wins at Texas (167-47-5), and don't think he doesn't realize that. A bowl win this year (unlikely against the high-flying Ducks) and a solid season in 2014 could put him level with the Texas coaching legend.

But can Texas really consider the potential for yet another 8 or 9 win season acceptable?

Photo credits: Wikipedia

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ab@allanbesselink.com (Allan Besselink) Rhubarb Diaries Mon, 09 Dec 2013 05:56:36 +0000
Rhubarb Report 080 http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1251-rhubarb-report-080 http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1251-rhubarb-report-080 Rheum rhabarbarum - RhubarbI can say that the year 2013 has set a new standard. As hard as it is for me to believe, I actually heard Christmas music while grocery shopping early this month. Yes, I am serious. There is nothing like having 8 weeks of lead time to get you into the Christmas spirit.

But before we forge into December, we will experience Thanksgiving. What are you giving thanks for this year? That is definitely something to ponder over that second plate of turkey and stuffing.

Meanwhile, it's time for another episode of the Rhubarb Report. Grab a plate and dig in.

1. Year two of Formula One in Austin was a great experience as expected. The weather was fantastic, and the spectacle of F1 - the sound, the technology, the experience - was impressive as always.

But after qualifying, I was left to wonder how the time gap from 1st to 3rd was 0.8 seconds. That is an eternity by F1 standards, especially this far into the season. There was 0.1 second between first and second (the two Red Bulls), but then there was a full 0.7 seconds back to Romain Grosjean in 3rd. Then a measly 1.0 second blanketed 3rd through 12th.

At the highest level of this sport, 0.5 seconds is huge. Of course, F1 is renowned for teams finding ways to work within the strict wording of the rules but perhaps not the full intent of the rules. We may never know how they found the better part of a full second since August. But I for one certainly have to wonder.

2. And while we're speaking of F1, today marked the final race of the season in Brazil - and Mark Webber's official retirement from Formula One. Although he had the best F1 machinery under him for the past few years, he was also teammate to Sebastian Vettel, the Red Bull prodigy that had bushels of money and support behind him along the way. The harsh reality was that Webber was always going to be the de-facto number 2 driver, even in the same equipment.

Webber's race craft, driving skill, and personality will be sorely missed in the F1 paddock. Cheers, mate.

3. Finally, Friday November 22nd was the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Just uttering that phrase is difficult. Fifty years. I wasn't even a glimmer in my mother's eye in 1963. But Kennedy's impact on our collective psyche remains to this day.

Kennedy's tour on that fateful would have eventually ended up in Austin. He was scheduled to speak to the Texas Democratic State Committee. If you've not read his undelivered speech, you should. Here are his concluding remarks -

"Almost everywhere we look, the story is the same. In Latin America, in Africa, in Asia, in the councils of the world and in the jungles of far-off nations, there is now renewed confidence in our country and our convictions.

“For this country is moving and it must not stop. It cannot stop. For this is a time for courage and a time for challenge. Neither conformity nor complacency will do. Neither the fanatics nor the faint-hearted are needed. And our duty as a party is not to our party alone, but to the Nation, and, indeed., to all mankind. Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and freedom.

“So let us not be petty when our cause is so great. Let us not quarrel amongst ourselves when our Nation's future is at stake. Let us stand together with renewed confidence in our cause--united in our heritage of the past and our hopes for the future--and determined that this land we love shall lead all mankind into new frontiers of peace and abundance."

Kennedy's words - the words he would never have the opportunity to share with us - serve as a reminder of what we were, what we are, and what we can still be.

Photo credits: Wikipedia

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ab@allanbesselink.com (Allan Besselink) Rhubarb Diaries Mon, 25 Nov 2013 05:36:55 +0000
Rhubarb Report 079 http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1247-rhubarb-report-079 http://www.allanbesselink.com/blog/rhubarb/1247-rhubarb-report-079 Rheum rhabarbarum - RhubarbSpeechless. Yes, that would have been me this week. It wasn't for lack of verbal capacity. I was speechless because I found myself without a voice this week. In reality, I still had a voice, but it was some strange amalgam of squeaks and crackles. It was a vocal sound worthy of puberty far more than that of a 48 year-old man.

This is what happens when the allergens start kicking up in Austin. For all the positives of life in Central Texas, the pollen counts definitely have a negative impact.

I am sure you can imagine that there were at least a few students (and probably a few friends as well) that were more than happy that I was a little speechless. But I digress.

So what do you do when you are tending to a vocal impairment? Stop talking and start ... writing! Welcome to episode 079 of the Rhubarb Report.

1. Another person that is probably a little speechless these days is Vince Young. He was released by Green Bay - in favor of back-ups Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien. Who? Exactly. Aaron Rodgers gets injured and now Wallace starts - for the first time since 2011. Now he's injured and untested Scott Tolzien steps in to the fray. What makes this harder to believe is that Young had a great record as a starter, and now can't seem to find a bench to sit on.

The Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League were prepared to give him a two year contract, but Young still believes he should be playing in the NFL. I would agree with him. But with that said, Joe Theismann, Warren Moon and Doug Flutie turned CFL careers into NFL careers. It would seem to me that playing football - anywhere - is better than consuming potato chips on the living room sofa.

2. There's a new sheriff - otherwise known as the Athletic Director - at the University of Texas. Let's all welcome Steve Patterson to the Forty Acres. I, for one, am glad to see some new blood in Longhorn Nation. I would imagine that Mack Brown, Rick Barnes, and Augie Garrido are probably not as happy as I and are probably all squirming just a little bit these days. Bring on coaching accountability.

3. Word on the street these days is that the Health Insurance Marketplace website has been having some, shall we say, issues? I am waiting for the conspiracy theorists to enter the discussion. Frankly, I am surprised they haven't already! I keep waiting for the reports of some dark, sinister, Republican-led plan to plant rogue web developers in the mix, ensuring complete and total failure when Congress couldn't.

Or how about this - maybe it was just a lousy choice of web developers? Hey, now that is something that happens on a daily basis across the globe.

But I have to admit, the conspiracy theory sounds far better and more worthy of a documentary or two. Coming soon to a theater near you ...

Photo credits: Wikipedia

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ab@allanbesselink.com (Allan Besselink) Rhubarb Diaries Mon, 11 Nov 2013 04:17:48 +0000