On the Yellow Brick Road


After posting that I am a cynic people might get the idea that I am a very depressing person.  I do suffer from bipolar so I do get depressed on occasion.  I am also very grateful for many people, experiences and things in my life.  So here goes with my list:


  • I am grateful for God sent His Son Jesus Christ to save me from sin and death.
  • I am grateful for being disciplined by many Christians and most especially from my Lutheran sisters and brothers.
  • I am grateful for Benjamin.  I am very proud of my son.  He is turning into a fine young man.  I am so pleased that he has grown into faith in Jesus Christ.
  • I am grateful for Catalina.  Her loving and kind spirit is a testament to her namesake, my grandmother Catalina.  Catalina is a very deep and I think spiritual young woman.
  • I am grateful for Trudy.  She has been a loving and supportive friend and spouse.
  • I am grateful for being born in the United States of America.  I know being born here gives me advantages that many other people in the world don't have.
  • I am grateful for my parents, they instilled me with an excellent work ethic.
  • I am grateful for my dad, he taught me to reach for the stars.  He also taught me how to be realistic in my goals.
  • I am grateful for my mom, she was there when I was bullied for being Hispanic.
  • I am grateful for Papa looking at my photographs and asking "So what is the point of this photograph?"  Papa you really sharpened my eye.  Thank you.
  • I am grateful for Nana because I always felt your love when we came to your house.  I will never forget when we (myself and my cousins) were in your house in Florida and we told you we were going out to some bar to listen to music, because you said "Be careful in that speakeasy."  At that moment we all knew that you had been in more than one 'speakeasy' in your time.
  • I am grateful for my grandpa Rito for taking me fishing when I was a kid.  I also remember when we had to pull the radiator out of our station wagon and put it back in.  You never yelled or got upset when I had a hard time holding the radiator.
  • I am grateful for my grandma Catalina because we were able to communicate pure love through our hugs, kisses, smiles and gentleness.  Your not being able to speak English and my inability to speak Spanish did not hinder the love we shared.
  • I am grateful for my many friends.  I am afraid if I start to list them I will forget someone important.
  • I am especially grateful for my best friend Jerry.  There isn't a day that doesn't go by that I don't think of you my friend.  I wish I had called and spent more time the last few years together.  One day my friend we will be together in heaven together.
  • I am especially grateful for Terri.  Terri your love, care and gentle way helped bring me to faith in Jesus.  I can never thank you enough for that.
  • I am grateful for Benjamin J.  Ben your honesty about who you were, how you became a Christian and how much you cared about me cracked open the door for the Holy Spirit to gain a foothold in my heart.
  • I am grateful for being able to reconnect with my friend Lynne.  Thank you for trusting me Lynne.
  • I am grateful for having a great career (so far).  As a software developer I got to work on some of the most amazing systems that a developer could ever hope to work on.  Along the way I have meet some of the best people you could imagine.
  • I am grateful for my current position.
  • I am grateful for having been a "high tech migrant" worker because I have lived in Albuq. NM, Dallas TX, Tampa FL, Phoenix AZ, Twin Cities MN, Topeka KS, and back to the Twin Cities.  This opportunity has given me a perspective about the USA that very few other people have.
  • I am grateful that I have visited Hawaii three times.
  • I am grateful that I have seen and hiked half-way down the Grand Canyon.
  • I am grateful for seeing the Atlantic and Pacific ocean.  I have also enjoyed the Gulf of Mexico.


  • I am grateful for the opportunity to see and listen to so many great blues musicians.
  • I am grateful for the opportunity to photograph so many great blues musicians.
  • I am grateful for having the money, drive and helpful friends so that I could learn how to play the guitar.
  • I am grateful for the Sat. morning jam.
  • I am grateful that I have owned a 1966 Fastback Mustang.  That was an experience I will never have again.
  • I am grateful that I currently own a 2002 Subaru WRX.  It is as cool of a car as my Mustang ever was and it is a lot safer to drive.
  • I am grateful that I am in a place where I can get the treatment I need for my mental health.
  • I am grateful for being in recovery.

I may think of other things that I am grateful and I might add to this at a later date.


So what are you grateful for?


I am a cynic

As much as I have tried to 'escape' from being a cynic I am finally coming to accept that this really who I am.  I want to be very specific about what I am cynical about ...

My cynicism is very much directed at all human institutions because of the hypocrisy I see in human institutions.  I see these institutions exposing wonderful ideals but in practice these institutions often don't even try to live up to those ideals.  What I have seen and experienced is that human institutions are only interested in preserving the power of the institution.  And the people who live and work in those intuitions, while often good people, come to believe the institution must be preserved at all costs.

I believe that it is impossible for human institutions (more than a few people who work together) to move past the need for self-preservation. 

At one time I was more of an idealist.  I thought that if people of good faith worked together they could make a difference.  But I don't believe that any more.  A cynic may in fact be a disillusioned idealist.

Here are a couple of examples that have been part of my cultural landscape.

For over twenty years, we as citizens of the USA have known that something needs to be done to solve the coming Social Security crisis.  We all know that if the problems in Social Security isn't fixed, the system will collapse and when it does there will be horrible consequences.  We all know this.  Our elected officials know this.  In spite of this knowledge we careen for a cliff.

Our current Congress and President (as of Sept 2012) know we are heading for "fiscal cliff" but none of them are willing to solve the problem.  They could solve the problem but these political institutions thrive on crisis.  In the crisis the government, political parties and the pundit media gain more power.  None of those human institutions have any motivation for fixing the problem.  If they fix the problem then they become less useful.

I also have to say that I have seen very similar behavior in the "church".  These human institutions will again do anything to preserve their existence.  When push comes to shove about necessary changes that must be made to meet the current situation, the human institution call "church" (congregations) will do whatever is necessary to protect itself from change. 

How many congregations have annual budgets were a very large percentage is used to preserve a physical facility?  And when asked why preserve the physical facility the answer almost always boils down to 'how beautiful it is."  Which seems like a form of hypocrisy because it really has nothing to do with the ideals that Jesus established when the Christian church came into being.


I am not cynical about everything.  For instance I believe I have a healthy level of realism/optimism when working with project teams.  The simple reason is that a project team comes together to solve a specific problem.  The team's success or failure is all connected with achieving the solution.  This encourages a project team to find solutions compromise and support each other to achieve the goal.  Also when the problem is solved the team moves onto the next project.  Hopefully they take a bit of time to celebrate success.

I go to a weekly jam group and I am not cynical about what is going on there.  Why?  Because there are only two agenda items at that weekly jam - create music together (often spontaneously) and enjoy each other's company.

Another area in my life that I have been very glad to be a part of is specific Boy Scout troops.  The Boy Scout "institution" (district and national levels) I have the exact same level of cynism for as other human institutions but the individual troops are in fact places where I have see the adults and young men do their best  live up to the Boy Scout ideals.

In the end I have faith that individuals and small groups of people can grow, change and be healthy.

Shutting down JC Disciples Site

Over the years I have maintained the JC Disciples website and put up a lot of content, especially photographs.  I am shutting down this site for a number of reasons.


There have been two major upgrades to Joomla and I have not been able to upgrade to those versions because:

  • My current ISP won't upgrade the underlying software needed to support the upgrades
  • Moving to a new ISP is a lot of work
  • Upgrading from the current version of the site to a new version which is two major revisions past the one I have is very hard


  • The majority of this site has been photographs.  Unfortunately all of those photographs take up a great deal of disk space which is a major cost.
  • To buy the throughput needed to maintain this site is also expensive


When I started this site I intended to write more about my Christian faith and I haven't spent very much time writing about my faith.  The fact of the matter is I don't have much to say about my Christian faith anymore.  I am still a Christian and I want to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ but I don't have enough to say about that topic to feel like the domain name jcdisciples.org meets me where I am at and presents me in a transparent manner.

My new site, davidtannen.com, will focus on my life in a broad sense.  It will more honestly reflect my current interests and thoughts.

Big Green Egg Results - Smoked Ribs - 6/23/2012

Cooking on my Big Green Egg is such a pleasure.  And smoking meat is almost too simple .  Here is how I did my latest set of ribs.

After cleaning the ribs last night I put them in zip lock bags and covered them in a Memphis Dry Rub and then put them back in the refrigerator.  Around noon, Benjamin (our son) got the Big Green Egg setup.  I had soaked a bunch of mesquite wood chunks for the morning.  So there was a layer of large charcoal chunks in the base of BGE, Benjamin put a layer of soaked mesquite wood chunks on the charcoal and then put another layer of charcoal on top of the wood chunks.  With the fire set and the automatic temperature control also set, Benjamin put the ribs onto the grill.  The temperature was set for 225 F.

After four hours of cooking this is what they looked like.


Smells so good.  After this I put on some Stubbs BBQ Sauce and let them cook for about another two hours.  I bumped the temperature up to 250 F.

Can't wait to eat them.

Here is what they looked like after they were finished cooking.


Lovely smoke ring.  The meat was perfectly tender and it was mouth wateringly good.


Show at the Acadia Cafe - April 2012

So I got to take Catalina and Benjamin to see my friend Tony Ortiz  at the Acadia Cafe.  The Acadia Cafe is an ok bar but it is not a cafe .  They have a decent stage, comfortable seating to watch musicians, and a sound man who knows how to adjust the volume and mix without blowing out the audiences ears.

We saw a number of other artists including Dan Lunzer.

Here are a couple of photos

Here is the whole gallery.