The nation is in ‘Peril’

By Ande Jacobson

The final book in Bob Woodward’s trilogy chronicling the Trump presidency and its aftermath is aptly named Peril. Woodward co-authored this third book with Robert Costa and released it in September 2021. While the first two books, Fear and Rage, together cover the Trump presidency prior to the historic 2020 election and its aftermath, Peril overlaps a bit with Rage and focuses on the extraordinary actions within the Trump administration, the Pentagon, and Congress in the lead up to the election, the administration’s attempts to thwart the legitimate outcome of losing reelection, and the first several months of the Biden administration. While the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol and the Department of Justice are hard at work investigating what happened from a legal perspective, Peril tells the story drawn from personal interviews of more than 200 people at the center of the events resulting in more than 6,000 pages of transcripts, much of the information never before seen in the news or in publicly released documents. In a historical context, this is an important book. It chronicles what happened from the perspective of those involved rather than strictly what was made public or reported in the news. Continue reading

Hello 2022!

By Ande Jacobson

As I took my car out for some exercise to keep it running on the first day of 2022, I was filled with hope. We had recently received some significant rain that we desperately needed to help lessen the severity of the two-year-old drought. The sky was blue. There was snow on the higher area mountain peaks. There was a chill in the air under the bright winter sun. As was my habit I donned my masks, which this time of year also helped keep my face warm, and I noticed as I passed others walking or riding their bikes that most were also masked. I was filled with hope that others in my area were still taking the COVID-19 threat seriously as the Omicron variant of the disease was causing case counts to spike to new highs. Continue reading

Goodbye 2021!

By Ande Jacobson

2021 started out with such promise. Vaccines to help us get past a worldwide pandemic were just starting to be deployed. As their availability widened, they promised at least a partial, if not total return to normalcy until being inoculated (the responsible thing for a person to do) was attacked and made into a political battle. Still, those doing their part by getting their shots when they became eligible were hopeful. Continue reading

Thinking about holidays

By Ande Jacobson

There is so much going on these days. We’re just about ready to start a third year dealing with a worldwide pandemic as we face yet another new variant in the midst of a holiday period. While that’s weighing heavily on my mind, in my solitude I think about what constitutes a national holiday. Some are obvious like the 4th of July, the day marking our nation’s independence. That one makes sense. It’s a celebration commemorating the birth of our new nation, founded on the principles of democracy where we the people voice our opinions through free and fair elections determining who serves in our representative government. This one is a truly patriotic, American holiday. Memorial Day and Veterans Day are also American holidays in honor of those who have served our country to help keep it free. Presidents Day and MLK Day honor some of our national heroes which also makes sense as far as patriotic American holidays go. Continue reading

Val is making the world a better place through the arts

By Ande Jacobson

Every so often we are fortunate to cross paths with somebody with that intangible spark that makes them stand out in a really good way. They bring enthusiasm to all they do, and they inspire others to reach far beyond what seems possible. I ran into such a person some years ago, and I’ve been amazed by what this young fellow has done and continues to do.

I first worked with Val Zvinyatskovsky when he was but 10-years-old. He played the role of Jojo, one of the leads, in a youth production of Seussical that I was music directing. This particular group used live orchestras drawn from the greater musician community to give their young actors the privilege and thrill of performing in musicals in a way that would prepare them for potential careers in professional theater. Through the rehearsal process, this young actor stood out as one of the most skilled, prepared, and polished young thespians I’d seen. He not only had all of his lines and blocking down pat long before the cast needed to be off book, but his musical timing was impeccable. He never missed. Even so, it wasn’t until we got into the run of the show that I realized just how accomplished and curious this young man was. Continue reading

SJ SaxMas is back for the 27th time!

By Ande Jacobson

SJ SaxMas is returning to San Jose this December! 2019 was the last time sax players from all over the area (and beyond) gathered in San Jose to serenade audiences with wonderful saxophone holiday music. The pandemic prevented last year’s event, but this year SJ SaxMas is returning albeit a little bit smaller and more carefully. All of the players and volunteers will have to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or a negative COVID test to participate – no exceptions. They are excited to return to make music together after such a long and unexpected hiatus. For those who want to play, the ensemble is limited to a maximum of 150 players to accommodate the COVID safety protocols in the rehearsal space and performance venues. For more information on that, see sjsaxmas.com. Continue reading

Thinking about history 80 years ago

US Navy Photo of Pearl Harbor

By Ande Jacobson

“December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy….” That happened 80 years ago today. I’m way too young to have heard that speech live the day after the attack, but my parents lived through it. I was pretty young when my father died, so I don’t know much about his personal experiences growing up, but my mother told me many stories from her childhood including her recollections of their lives during the war. Although she was pretty young, she remembers the terror it created around her. She talked about the measures that the country took to support the war effort and how everyone pulled together in a way that seemed impossible even half a century later, although even as a young child she was also painfully aware of the limits of who was considered American even then. My grandfather worked for the U.S. Postal Service and was considered a critical worker. He was also just a hair too old to join the military and worked two jobs during the war to support the many dependents of the multigenerational extended family living under their roof. It was a difficult time and success wasn’t guaranteed, but they survived. Sometime later when my mother and my aunt were a little bit older, my grandmother also started working for the post office. Continue reading

Thinking about things

By Ande Jacobson

When I take my car out for a drive to keep it running, it gives me time away from my computer. These drives give me some “outside” time to think. I notice the people outside of my automotive bubble passing by on foot, on bicycles, and in other cars. Many are masked, but not all. I think about friends and family and how things have changed for all of them over the years. I think about my theater community. Before we became aware of the pandemic in early 2020, music and theater had been a primary focus in my life, much more so since I retired from my engineering career several years ago. While many in that community are now back in productions, collaborating freely and enjoying the comradery they missed for so many months, others like myself are not. There are still huge risks because of the ever looming pandemic that weren’t there before. Continue reading

Choice is important

By Ande Jacobson

The choices we make are important. We each make choices about all kinds of things every day. Some are small things such as what to eat for breakfast. Some have longer range effects such as deciding on a career path or whether to accept a particular job offer. Others are even more life changing such as choosing if or when to have a child, or more immediately, whether to carry a given pregnancy to term based on one’s own circumstances. All are personal choices, yet that last one is currently under its greatest threat since the passage of Roe v. Wade. Continue reading

Breaking the code

By Ande Jacobson

I recently read and reviewed Kate Quinn’s The Rose Code for an upcoming book club Zoom, and at the same time, I was reading David Baldacci’s Simple Genius. I had started Baldacci’s book first, but as I decided to get a jump on my book club reading, I discovered an unexpected connection. Both books feature the mystique of codebreaking and of Bletchley Park, albeit at different times in history. As mentioned in my previous review, The Rose Code takes place at the time that Bletchley Park was active during WWII and its immediate aftermath and provides the reader with riveting historical fiction. Simple Genius doesn’t qualify as historical fiction and is instead a political thriller/murder mystery, the third in Baldacci’s King and Maxwell series. Continue reading