Pre-Blog Break Shorts & Snorts

The Cincinnati Zoo reported (Tuesday) that Fiona weighs 130 pounds. This is what she does when she’s dreaming.

Monday was Opening Day in Cincinnati. Based on the morning weather reports, we decided to stay dry by not attending downtown festivities … and it didn’t rain a drop! … Damn Obama!

Congratulations of the North Carolina Tar Heels for representing ABK with distinction in the men’s basketball tournament. For those who don’t know, that’s Anybody But Kentucky.

Although their winning streak was surprisingly snapped, a tip of the cap to the UConn Huskies women’s basketball team. Wow – winning 111 games in a row is unbelievable … so I imagine a new streak will start sometime in November.

I enjoy celebrating milestones with a numbers tribute – as the last post was for our 40th wedding anniversary. Our schedule dictated that we go out for a nice dinner the evening before, and it was wonderful. Thanks again for the anniversary wishes.

Count me in on the outcry that penalties should not be based on communication from spectators. The PGA and the LPGA need to put an end to the nonsense!

I can’t recall ever seeing ads on television supporting a Supreme Court nominee. I remain standing firm on my stance of Last Judge Standing, and will continue that position until I feel it is no longer necessary – but I wonder if that will happen in my lifetime.

I continue to avoid watching Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Rachel Maddow. I very seldom read columns by EJ Dionne, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, and Eugene Robinson. Why? … I can think for myself and do not need partisans to verify my position. After all, I have it even better because I have all the partisans to prove my point.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell (JA/R-KY) is threatening to impose the rule change known as the Nuclear Option. I say go right ahead because we citizens need more dysfunction based on partisanship. After all, Former Majority Leader Reid (JA/D-NV) did his share to lead the way by setting an example. Follow the lead, jackasses!

Cheers to Stephen Colbert who makes me laugh at the political chaos. I know he’s a partisan, but he still makes me laugh.

April has a way of being hectic. Better weather gets us outside. Golf league for both of us will ramp up. Working hours will increase at the golf course. Taxes to be filed. The handbell choir prepares for Easter Sunday. Dances are to be done. The Masters golf tournament is a must-watch event. Baseball season has started. A room painting project in the near future. Vacations to plan, and more.

This blog has been very steady for almost 6 months, so it’s time for a blog break. Not sure how I will spend it, so don’t be surprised if I go visiting. For the record, more Beach Walks are to come.

To send you into my blog break, this song goes out to the dreaming Fiona. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On 40

This post is about the number forty, quaranta, veertig, cорок, keturiasdešimt, Minn erbgħin, XL, and many more … can you add any?

40 – As forty, the only English number with the letters of its correct spelling are in alphabetical order

In Mathematics
40 – a composite number, an octagonal number, a semiperfect number, a Harshad number, a Stormer number

40 – divisible by 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 20, and 40

In Science
40 – the atomic number of zirconium, whose neutrally charged atom has 40 protons and 40 electrons

40 – the number of weeks for an average term of pregnancy

M40 – a star in the constellation Ursa Major

NGC 40 – a planetary nebula in the constellation Cepheus

In Religion

Photo from pexels.com

Judaism

  • 40 – a commonly used time period (days, nights, years) – (many references)
  • 40 – the number of days and nights during the Flood
  • 40 – the number of se’ah in a mikvah of water (approximately 200 gallons/757 liters)
  • 40 – the number of lashes as a punishment

Christianity

  • 40 – the number of days and nights Jesus fasted
  • 40 – the number of days between the resurrection of Jesus to the ascension of Jesus
  • 40 – the number of days of Lent preceding Easter (but Eastern and Western Christianity count it differently)

Islam

  • 40 – Muhammad’s age when he first received the revelation delivered by the archangel Gabriel
  • 40 days – the official length of mourning

Hinduism

  • 40 – the number of stanzas (shlokas or dohas) in some popular HIndu prayers
  • 40 – number of days fasting

In Sports

Photo from pexals.com

40 – number of players allowed under contract for each MLB baseball team

40/40 Club – Players achieving 40 stolen bases and 40 home runs in a season (only been done 4 times)

40 – the maximum number of horses in the grand national

40 yards – (36.5 meters): the distance dash as a metric in scouting American football players
The distance run in the 40 yard dash, an important metric in American football scouting.

40 – the third point in a tennis game … and 40-40 is called “deuce”

40 – the number of cars in a NASCAR Nationwide race

40 – the number of a NASCAR car that has won 9 races by drivers Sterling Marlin (4), Pete Hamilton (3), Tommy Thompson (1), and Jamie McMurray (1)

40 – a jersey number retired in this professional sports:
MLB: Don Wilson (Astros), Danny Murtaugh (Pirates)
NBA: Byron Beck (Nuggets), Bill Laimbeer (Pistons)
NFL: Pat Tillman (Cardinals), Gale Sayers (Bears), Mike Haynes (Patriots), Joe Morrison (Giants), Tom Brookshier (Eagles)

In Entertainment
40 – the number of spaces in a standard Monopoly game board

40 -the highest number ever counted to on Sesame Street

In Music
Crush 40 – an American-Japanese hard rock band

“40” – a song by Dave Matthews Band, UC, and Franz Ferdinand

“Forty Shades of Green” – a song by Johnny Cash

40 – the name of Canadian hip hop producer Noah Shebib

Symphony No. 40 – by Haydn and Mozart

40 – the number of song on popular weekly radio programs as American Top 40, Rick Dees’ Weekly Top 40, and American Country Countdown – #1 40 years ago today

In Television
$40 – the spending limit for chefs on “Chef on a Shoestring”

$40 – the per day spending limit on $40 a Day, a travel/eating show originally on Food Network hosted by Rachael aye

In Literature
40 – the number of thieves involved with Ali Baba in Arabian Nights

In Culture
To understand a people, you must live among them for 40 days. ~Arabic proverb

40 hours – the customary number of hours in a regular workweek in some countries

40 days – Russian folklore regarding the length of time ghosts of the dead linger at the site of their death

40 years – an age milestone

40th wedding anniversary – Ruby is the traditional gift

In US History
40 acres and a mule – a plan to offer freed slaves after the US Civil War

40th US President – Ronald Reagan

STS-40 – the 11th mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia (June 1991)

Federalist Paper No. 40 – written by James Madison about the authority of the Constitutional Convention

In World History
40 – During the Bubonic plague, the number of days ships isolated in the harbor before passengers could go ashore

40 – another name for The Tessarakonteres, the largest ship of antiquity, constructed by Ptolemy IV of Egypt

40 CE

  • Korean calendar year 2373, Holocene calendar year 10040, Discordian calendar year 1206
  • A leap year starting on Friday
  • Roman Emperor Caligula starts on a campaign to conquer Britain (which failed)
  • The Vietnamese Trưng Sisters rebel against the rule of the Chinese Emperor Guangwu of Han
  • Philo teaches that all men are born free.
  • Christianity comes to Egypt

40 BC

  • Assyrian calendar year 4711, Berber calendar year 911, Buddhist calendar year 505
  • Either a common year starting on Thursday, Friday or Saturday or a leap year starting on Thursday or Friday
  • Lucius Antonius surrenders to Octavian
  • Treaty of Brundisium: The treaty is cemented by the marriage of Mark Antony and Octavia, sister of Octavian
  • Athenodorus a philosopher, encounters a ghost in Athens
  • Parthians conquer Jerusalem
  • Births: the twins of Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Mark Antony

In Geography

Photo from pexels.com

I-40 – a U.S. interstate connecting California to North Carolina

40 – National highways in Argentina, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, UK, and USA

40th Parallel South – crosses land in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina

40th Parallel North – crosses land in Spain, Italy, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, North Korea, Japan, USA, and Portugal

40th Meridian West – crosses Greenland, Brazil, and Antarctica

4oth Meridian East – crosses Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Antarctica

40-Step Stairway – historical place in Busan, South Korea

Forty Foot – a promontory on the southern tip of Dublin Bay, Ireland where people have been swimming in the Irish Sea all year round for hundreds of years

Forty Shades of Green is a visual term for rural Ireland

Miscellaneous
40 – the code for direct dial international phone calls to Romania

WD-40 – a popular penetrating oil whose name stands for the 40th formula of Water Displacement

Here’s #2 on the Billboard Charts from 40 years ago today – April 2, 1977 – our wedding day

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 331

The Cincinnati Enquirer published an interesting photo essay: A Day in the Life of Fiona the Baby Hippo. Enjoy.

This recent post on the Cincinnati Zoo Blog by one of Fiona’s handlers is good and has excellent pictures.

Opening Day is Monday. First of all, the occasion is formally capitalized in Cincinnati because it is (and has always been in my lifetime) a major event. Opening Day is the official start of the baseball season, and Cincinnati embraces it like no other place. We hope to go downtown for the festivities, but the projected weather is concerning.

Although I think the Reds will be better this year, my goals for their 2017 resemble last year’s:

  • Win more games than the 1961 Mets (Checked in 2016)
  • Have a better record than the worst team in baseball (Checked in 2016)
  • Finish higher than last place in the division
  • Finish closer to first in the division than to last
  • Anything else is extra topping on the sundae

On the downside, a shooting in a Cincinnati nightclub made the news this week. No arrests at this time, but the business has turned in its liquor license and will not reopen.

Enjoy this song with 300 words in one minute.

Several weeks ago I linked a handbell version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Here’s is another version of the same arrangement, but done with a different touch.

A tip of the cap to Lorna who is retiring her blog. I can’t recall how the two of us met each other in blogging, but I recall her move from the eastern US to Oregon. Best of luck Lorna, and thanks for the support.

The time is approaching when I will go on a spring blog break.

No Saturday post this weekend, but I will publish the Sunday post earlier than normal.

I have a plan to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) – sensible Democrats and sensible Republicans get together. Then again, I’m not convinced enough of those exist to overcome the obstinance of their respective bases.

  • Why can’t Republicans propose allowing insurance to be sold across state lines within the ACA? (However, states have the final say because they control insurance commerce.)
  • Why can’t Democrats propose eliminating taxes on the wealthy that shouldn’t have been in the ACA in the first place?
  • Why can’t either side propose either allowing credits for the insured or making the fine for not having insurance be greater than the cost of insurance?
  • Why can’t elected officials favor problem solving for the good over the country instead of party-first interests?

I know the answer to the above question – they are jackasses!

Regarding the mega-snafu by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I say get him out of there!

“Clean coal” is possible – but expensive.

I can’t agree more with this headline that I saw earlier this week: It is Never Trump’s Fault – yep … it’s always Obama’s fault.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
No Cincinnati teams making it to college basketball’s Final Four
Mild winter not killing mosquitos
Coal industries 40-year decline
Hunting hogs from helicopters
An upcoming Blog Break approaching for me

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion identifies the top 10 destinations for spring break.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Hundreds Of blind, pallid Disney characters discovered living in caves deep within Space Mountain
Stoned extraterrestrial stumbles across hidden message after listening to Golden Record backwards
Audubon Society revokes black-capped chickadee’s membership after species fails to pay dues
4 copy editors killed in ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual gang violence
Military aides try to cheer up Kim Jong-Un after failed missile launch by putting on surprise execution

Interesting Reads
A perspective about nostalgia
Your life and history
Evolution of and future of charter schools
Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech (delivered 7 years before I was born, he mentions my birthplace)
Trapped in amber during sex
(Photos) Earth Hour Celebration

To send you into the weekend, here’s an MTV classic from days gone by. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Beach Walk: No. 6

I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I look out across the seemingly endless surface of water with no land in sight other than the sand in the visual periphery where I stand. No wonder the ancient people thought edges were at the end. Edges that sunrises and sunsets reinforce.

To think that this gulf is small compared to the seas – and the oh my of the seas being specks compared to the oceans. The amount of water on our planet is unimaginable – besides, most people don’t realize the bigness of one million – let alone millions, billions, trillions, and beyond.

All that sea water, plus the water of rivers, streams, lakes ponds, puddles, pools, glaciers, ice, and even underground – let alone in the clouds collecting as sponges before releasing the water as rain, snow, sleet, or hail.

All that water that make our home blue – that refreshing blue from space – that pale blue dot in the greater cosmos that is an oasis in the vast desert of space. Yes, this is our home that I walk – a walk where I think as the water refreshes my feet.

On an Oh-My Meal

For a family gathering near the end of our trip to Italy this past October, my aunt wanted to take the entire family out to dinner. Well, actually a Sunday afternoon meal. Little did we know what to expect.

We drove about 45 minutes. Once we arrived I told my oldest cousin (in gist) that we passed 342 restaurants along the way, but they were closed – so this was the first one we could find that was open.

With the final part of the road being many twist and turns up a mountain, I knew that those who travel this road on this day must be going to the restaurant. In the image of the map, those familiar with Lucca (region of Tuscany) will see it toward the bottom. The restaurant is marked by the location icon.

The town is Fiano di Pescaglia, a small village with a population of less than 1,000 but a history that goes back to 847. On this day, the action centered on Ristorante da Valentino.

Note: I didn’t take any pictures of the meal, so you will have to rely on my descriptions. However, I want you to think about two important questions: How much did the meal cost (per person)? How long were we there?

RistoranteValentino

When entering the restaurant, the first thing I noticed was the number of people throughout the numerous sections of this casual place. We entered one of the small rooms that had 3 other groups already seated. There was our table – actually several tables arranged end-to-end with 9 settings and a large bottle of red wine located at each end.

Each of us first received a small plate of appetizers: a slice of lunchmeat (Mortadella), fried polenta, 5-6 olives, and cheese.

Later, the server came by with a large bowl of mushroom risotto, and served a comfortable portion to each of us … returning after a reasonable time with a question: Would you like more? It was good, so both my wife and I accepted the offer.

Next, the server returned with a large bowl of tagliatelli in a wild boar sauce. Oh my, that was outstanding … and I can’t believe my wife ate it as she’s typically not accepting of dietary oddities. Surprisingly, I said no to the “Would you like more” question.

Later, the server returned with rolled lasagna that contained a filling of cheese and spinach with a different red sauce – yes, followed with “Would you like more” on which I passed.

Up next from the server with the big bowl was ravioli with a meat filling and a different red sauce that went into the same bowl that I’ve been using since the risotto. Of course, “Would you like more?” would follow later … I couldn’t pass on a second helping of this delight.

Attendants removed the well-used bowl, so the plate was now ready for the arrival of the next course: a platter of meat for each end of the table – small pieces of chicken, ribs, beef, lamb, and rabbit. The meats were especially tasty.

Before finishing the meat, the server made space at each end of the table for a platter of french fries and a platter with fried mushrooms and fried cauliflower.

Once it was obvious we were finished with this course, a small plate of salad appeared – an odd place as we Americans are used to eating salads early to prepare the way for the meal. But in this case, the salad was readying us for dessert!

The server delivered a platter of of variety of desserts for each end of the table. Pies, tarts, and cakes provided a delightful end to the meal.

Before describing the meal, I asked two questions: How long were we there? How much did it cost?

Sometime during this culinary extravaganza, I walked around the restaurant wondering about the number of people being served – and it was 165-190! Regarding the meal, my wife and I both agree that we were not stuffed until the desserts (we must have suddenly ran out of inner digestive space).

Finishing the 22 Euro ($24) meal 4 hours after starting, then we walked further uphill to the church … and the beautiful view of the valley.

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If you ever in this area of northwestern Tuscany near Lucca on a Sunday, I suggest you make a reservation at Ristorante da Valentino, then find your way to Fiano di Pescaglia.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 330

Last week I finished leading a short (2-week) Sunday school class titled The Crossroad between Science and Religion. Two sessions are only enough time to introduce the topic – or as I said during the first class, “This week is the introduction to the Preface.” Nonetheless, I think the sessions gave attendees something to ponder.

I’ve been working on a slideshow that will accompany a handbell piece on Easter Sunday. The director loved it, so now it’s down to the fine tuning. I hope to find someone to take a video with the images and the music so we can post it on YouTube. If that happens, I’ll post it here.

March Madness continues as this weekend’s round will dwindle from the Sweet 16 to the Elite Eight to the Final Four. One local team remains (Xavier), so good luck Muskies. On the downside, my Bearcats ran into an explosive UCLA team that is very good.

This week we got the news of the passing of TV personality and producer Chuck Barris at age 87. I thought The Gong Show was a hoot – especially The Unknown Comic and Gene Gene the Dancing Machine.

Many readers enjoyed meeting Fiona. Big news this week as she reached 100 pounds (45 kg).

We were happy with the Season 23 debut of Dancing with the Stars. Looks like a strong crop of competitors this time.

My wife says “Thanks” for last week’s birthday wishes!

No Saturday post this weekend.

From what I saw during the confirmation hearings, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch impressed me. Sure he made statements I with which I disagreed. Yes, he followed the tradition dancing around questions. Too bad these hearings focus on political theater with the partisans preferring a court favoring their view over a genuine court for all Americans. Nonetheless, I stand against nominees in the name of playing “Last Judge Standing.”

The American Health Care Act (the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act) will eventually pass Congress because of the self-imposed pressure on Republicans.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
The FBI not finding wiretapping evidence
North Korea’s failed rocket launch
People thinking Viking helmets had horns
Some professional basketball players believing in a flat earth
Dysfunction among Republicans

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for home repairs. http://www.theonion.com/infographic/home-repair-tips-55167

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Mugger Chooses Man Whistling ‘Come On Eileen’
Newly discovered journal entries reveal Sacagawea’s repeated attempts to ditch Lewis and Clark
Toddler looking for sensible mid-ranged tricycle
God seeking to crack down on souls smuggling drugs into heaven
Part of man wonders what it would be like to fall through floor into downstairs apartment
Styrofoam cup from Omaha excited to finally see Pacific Ocean

Interesting Reads
The mind and false beliefs
Myths about mammals and their swimming abilities
A brief guide to the French elections
Partisanship, ideology, and generation gaps
A biography of an early patriot: Patrick Henry
(Video) Kinky snail sex
(Photos) Architectural awards for future projects

To send you into the weekend, here’s a 1984 hit … and oh I had a crush on this lady. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Beach Walk: No. 5

 

I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I am not a sheller, but they form a line as to say “Walk this way.” I am not a sheller but I give them the quick once-over as I walk. Even though I am not on a stroll or a hunt, sometimes one catches my eye – a design or a color – a fragment or a whole – small, medium, or large – so I stop to look as the water continues to refresh my feet.

I am not a sheller, but their colors begin to grab me as I pass. The colors of the rainbow they are not, but that spectrum occasionally shows itself on the inner surface if the light is right. Most of the outer colors are ranges of brown and gray. Sometimes the brown combine with red to provide orange – but sometimes the red appears. Some grays with so little white that they are black – yet a few with so little black they are white – let alone when they combine in different arrangements of colors in bands, streaks, or blotches.

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The colors tempt me to create my own spectrum with shells – yet I resist by keeping my steady pace – but over time, I cave in to my urge.

Colors that can signify a species or possibly an age – even a variation of colors within a species just as the colors of human hair differs from person to person.  But the more I walk, the more the colors and designs affect me. Oh the diversity of life!

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I am not a sheller, but as I walk its defined line on the sand, I notice the ridges and grooves. Some are quite pronounced, yet others are so slight that we think the surface is smooth – at least until our light touch moves across the surface. Pattern can be vertical, horizontal, or both – and even random – yet the frequency of these pronouncements of nature can be many or few.

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So many patterns that must signify different species within the a beautiful living world. Patterns and colors that are present for a reason that are part of the adaptations and variations in the intricate web of life.

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Wonder fills the nature around us in our slice of creation – even in the half-mooned shells of calcium carbonate found along the sand as one walks … but only if one takes the time to look as they walk and refresh the feet.