Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 355

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“My week” is about to end. My Week? Yep – this is the week my wife went cruising with a group of ladies. They have a great time. Besides, she won’t miss the cold and snow! Meanwhile, I danced a lot!

After holding such high hopes for two local college basketball teams, the world crashed on Cincinnati last Sunday when both teams losing after having double-digit leads with ten minutes to go. That day may be the worst single day in Cincinnati sports history.

CBS News created a wonderful series called Note to Self – a reflection by famous people writing a letter to a younger version of themselves. Here’s the official website. Many are also on YouTube, so they are worth searching and taking a few minutes to listen. The book version is coming soon.

Given my interest in the relationship between science and theology, my wife urged me to read Dan Brown’s latest book – Origins – which I am now doing. It is interesting … and long.

Here’s a great video that celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. It’s worth the few minutes.

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Talk and policies favoring US isolation and protectionism while trying to be cognizant of a resurgent Russia, a continual growing China, and numerous global hotspots has lessened (and will continue to lessen) the US standing in the world.

Does anyone remember the day of the talk of the Tillerson-Mattis-Kelly pact of if one of them goes, they all go? Well, one week ago Mr. Tillerson lost his job as Secretary of State, but the other two are still in their respective positions. So much for that rumor.

Trumpians like to complain that the Mueller investigation will delegitimize the election. Nope – to me, President Trump won fair and square. However, the investigation is necessary on other grounds.

I recently described (to a friend) the 2016 Presidential Election as the Democrats missing a layup. Because I foresee Democrats gaining in the 2018 midterms, that also sets them up for missing another layup in 2020.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion lists benefits of being a risk-taker.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Dozens of other countries that interfered in 2016 election annoyed Russia getting all the credit
Swans in committed relationship barely even arch necks into heart shape anymore
World’s oldest message in bottle found on Australian beach
Kinky couple has mirror in bathroom
Only 40% of mice have welcome mat, doorway leading into tiny house inside wall

Interesting Reads
A cliff special to geology
Heredity beyond genes
The numbers and gun violence
Seven explorers who vanished
Studying drawings of scientists by kids
Europe’s last pagan nation
(Interactive & article) Global migration since 1990
A view of miracles and science

To send you into the weekend (and as work toward Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction), here’s one of my favorite Moody Blues songs that you may not know. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.


On a Day of a Teacher

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I stopped at the grocery store on the way home where the clerk said to me that I looked tired and must have had a tough day. After I smiled and affirmed her observations, she encouraged me to relax this evening. While nodding, I said to myself, “Who is she kidding?”

The 6:30 AM-to- PM part of the day at the high school was interesting.

  • I arrive at 6:30 AM for the final preparations of the day.
  • 7:25 AM – Homeroom starts and it’s too short to do scheduling justice.
  • Three classes (85 minutes each) had lab activities, which had various issues.
  • The fourth class had a Performance Objective Assessment (POA), a required district assessment.
  • During my conference period I had a parent conference on the phone, then went to the Special Ed. room to work with students.
  • After the last class, I knew 16 students would be retaking a different POA, but little did I know there was still more to come.

It’s 2:30 PM.

  • Most students arrived for the retakes – so getting them started is the priority.
  • Another student wanted to discuss grades. She saw the time wasn’t right and was willing to talk some other time – I was thankful.
  • A second student graciously waited as we had to shift from one make-up item to another, and then I finally started 20 minutes of tutoring.

It’s 3:00 PM. As the tutored student left, a Special Ed student entered to retake a POA. I decided to test him orally; and I determined he was deficient. Learning is very difficult for him and I would like to continue oral evaluations with him. I tried remediation and found some helpful websites for him to do in the classroom for about fifteen minutes while I continued multi-tasking.

It’s 3:15 PM. Another struggling student appears – the one who appeared earlier then left. She was very patient with the hectic after-school period. I’m sure school isn’t easy for her, but her academic laziness compounds the problem.

It’s 3:25 PM. A parent appears at the door for a surprise meeting. I excused myself from the student to meet with the parent. I addressed her questions, and she kept it short because she saw I was working with a student.

It’s 4:30 PM. The tutoring session is over; and I think it went well. I’m alone in the room, so I prepare to finish a few tasks before leaving for home.

It’s 4:35 PM. A student who made-up a POA earlier (and the son of the walk-up parent) wanted to go over the POA to see how he did. Good news – he did well. He’s been improving yet doesn’t yet “show” the grades to please his parents. We talked as I tried to give him some insight in school success.

It’s 4:45 PM. Has the last student finally gone? I think so … but it’s time to check the phone messages to see who called. I imagine some parents because it is “Interim Reports Day.” Yep … two parents. I returned the first message as it seemed to be more pressing. Fortunately, it was a positive conversation.

It’s 4:55 PM – Time to check my email. Yikes! – an unpleasant note from Special Ed. Good timing! … and to think that working with them and their students has been a source of personal pride on all counts. I’ve even received commendations for that work.

It’s 5:00 PM. I’m tired … time to go home – but I have to stop at the grocery store for a few items. I recorded the after-school events.

It’s almost 8:00 PM (but I’m home). I had dinner and did the dishes. I haven’t read the paper nor watch the news. Fortunately through dinner, I did get a chance to talk to my wife.

I still have those 16 papers to grade so those student can get their updates tomorrow in order to cushion the mid-term report damage. Who knows how many other papers are overdue. Plus, I wonder what I will be doing in class tomorrow – and classroom readiness is another personal pride. I don’t feel ready … all along I keep thinking about the Kroger clerk’s suggestion.

This account was a real day – maybe not a typical day – but very real – actually a modified account of a reflection that I wrote (and kept) as one of the assignments required by our building administration.

Teacher is a difficult but rewarding career. It’s the joys of movies as October Sky and Mr. Holland’s Opus. It’s the wide-range of emotions from Dead Poets Society and Stand & Deliver. Teaching is also similar to a Rocky movie of being resilient from being a punching bag and getting knocked day.

Yes – this was 18 years ago – and to think the pressure on teachers today is much greater than then. I wonder – How many teachers today will reach full retirement?

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On Beach Walk No. 17

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

The vast waters keeps serving as a metaphor for knowledge. If the water represents the sea of knowledge – all that is known – am I standing on the shore of ignorance? Oh yes – the importance of lifelong learner.

My mind keeps thinking about knowledge and learning. Einstein stated, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

Passing a toy sand bucket reminds me that everyone enters a learning situation caring knowledge in 3 buckets – 3 buckets that involve filling and emptying – 3 buckets of knowledge – what they know, what they think the know (but don’t), and what they don’t know.

A good learning situation reinforces what the learner knows while adding to the didn’t know bucket. But, a just-as-important situation lies in the middle bucket – the information one thinks they know but don’t. This information serves as the foundation of misconceptions and illogical conclusions. This is the information that only the learner can declare as “incorrect”, then replace it with new correct information.

For instance, how accurate is one’s conclusion if the person starts with an incorrect assumption as the first or early domino in their logic? How willing is that person going to listen to a correct explanation? How willing is that person to admit they are wrong?

I think about the ways one can justify blood in our veins is blue. We see the blue beneath our skin. We see the red and blue diagrams of blood circulation in diagrams. If a person believes blood is blue, they will do whatever they can to justify their incorrect position by assuming the instantaneous color change when venous blood from a cut contacts the air.

The refreshing water rekindles a situation I experienced at a conference many years ago. The presenter made a point that I processed as, “Oh, that’s what it means – so I’ve been doing a good job of doing it wrong for 12 years.” Yes, that moment was a professional game changer for me. A moment that set the need for learning something new and changing past behaviors.

The bottom line is that only the learner can replace the incorrect information in their belief system. Only the learner can learn and unlearn. Not the teacher, not the trainer, not the expert – only the learner can do that.

I look across the water and down the beach at the horizons, which causes me to think of other metaphors. Is the horizon a learning boundary? Is the horizon a new level of knowledge? Does the horizon represent the distinction between the known and unknown? I’ll save the horizon for another day – another walk – because I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Opinions in the Shorts: No. 354

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It’s good to return to my little corner of the world with various tidbits, thoughts, and commentary. I sadly report that I didn’t write as much as I hoped during my blog break.

Love this factoid: Stephen Hawking was born on the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death, then died on Einstein’s birthday (which also happened to be Pi Day). A toast to Dr. Hawking’s contribution.

March Madness of college basketball is officially underway. Cincinnati is proud to support two teams in the top eight seeds. Two teams located 3.5 miles (5.6 km) apart and ranked in the top 6 ,  Interesting that both teams start in Nashville. Meanwhile, besides the two local teams, I’ll be rooting for ABK – Anybody But Kentucky.

The tournament committee got many selections correct, but excluding worthy teams at the expense of selecting teams that we .50o or worse in their conference is pathetic.

We recently saw a play about Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a musical pioneer who influenced greats as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Jimi Hendrix, and more. She wheeled her guitar as she sung a blend of blues, gospel, and a forerunner to rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct her next month.


John Tyler, the 10th US President, occupied the White House 1841-1845. Amazingly, his grandson is still alive! Here’s the head-scratching story.

While south for 6 weeks, we danced very little because ballroom wasn’t readily available. Although we are back in cold weather, the good news is we have returned to the dance floor – but rusty. Being away from handbells for 6 weeks creates uncertainty when returning to rehearsal. Both dancing and playing handbells will improve with time and repetition.

A few editions ago I mentioned about I would be dancing a bolero at an upcoming studio event. Unfortunately, my partner and I have respectfully withdrawn.

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Although the quote isn’t by Gloria Steinem, the viral message of gun purchases following similar procedures a woman seeking an abortion in some states is an interesting thought.

This statement in Politico about the success of the National Rifle Association (NRA): It’s not the money. It’s because the NRA has built a movement that has convinced its followers that gun ownership is a way of life, central to one’s freedom and safety, that must be defended on a daily basis.

As Democrats have been loudly complaining about gerrymandering, I have to throw in some bits. 1) Gerrymandering has been around a long time. 2) Democrats do it, too. 3) The use of data and sophisticated software by both parties heightens the problem. Therefore, the time for finding a different way is now.

This week the House Intelligence Committee (and prime example of an oxymoron) concluded its investigation by stating no collusion existed between the Trump campaign. I give them as much credence as I would a Democratic-led committee finding collusion. I patiently await the results by the independent investigation led by Robert Mueller – therefore will accept this findings.

In my response to a poll about tariffs by my representative, I reminded him that I was against tariffs regardless of the president’s party affiliation – then asked him if he would react the same way if a Democratic president proclaimed the tariffs.

Personally, I wish many Republicans would give the party to the President Trump, his minions, and the uber-conservatives – thus walk away. At the same time I wish many Democrats would give the party to the uber-liberals, thus walk away. Too bad they lack the guts to do that.

Not that many years ago Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) was a darling of Republican conservatives. Since withdrawing from the 2016 Republican Presidential primaries, I haven’t heard “boo” from the man – until earlier this week. It seems Gov. Walker is taking a more conciliatory tone and voicing a concern about his party’s direction. (Click here for the article.)

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides an infographic about the pros and cons of open relationships.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Roomba claims another pet gerbil
Beer aisle scanned for something asshole friend won’t mock
New evidence reveals Ancient Greeks immediately regretted inventing theater
Perverted measles virus exposes itself to playground full of children
Barbaric fifth grader gouges paper onto binder ring without so much as hole punch
FDA cancels bacon recall after finding U.S. population already ate it all

Interesting Reads
Bots and misinformation
France and the age of consent
Defining death
Nature on an island abandoned by humans
Life from microbes
The Smithsonian looks at daylight savings time
(Images) Winter Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony

I know I featured this song not long ago, but it fits. Along with my return from Blog Break, April 14th also approaches – the day their long-delayed induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Beach Walk No. 16

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

We started 2017 with 4 weeks on the Alabama coast where I started this series. After returning home last year, friends asked if we would do it again next year – to which I always said “No” in a serious, disappointing tone. After they grabbed the hook, I added, “Nope, not 4 weeks – next year will be 6 weeks.”

Instead of all of January, snowbirding 2018 went from mid-January through February. Yes – I was blogging from there – and started my recent blog break from there before returning home. This walk combines thoughts on my first and last walk – plus several after thoughts.

The fine, whitish sand squeaks as I find my way to the water’s edge. As I walk the beach I noticed similarities from a year ago.

Shells still collect on the sand. The heron still patiently stares across the water waiting for the next meal. Pelicans still glide near the water’s surface and dive from many feet above.

The seagulls still squawk. Lanky sandpipers still carefully stroll the water’s edge while the sanderlings continue to amuse me with their frantic ways. Multiple dolphins still occasionally pass by. Sand crabs still appear to move sideways as the scurry down their hole on the beach when hearing approaching footsteps.

I note differences as I walk. Although an ongoing process, the sand has noticeably shifted in some areas. On the other hand, that’s what sand does.

Our daily patterns are still the same as we are relaxed being away from any sense of normalcy. Sort of an alter ego from daily life at home – an alter ego worthy of its own walk.

Last year we collected shells displaying a variety of variations on a theme – but this year it was about uniqueness.

Last year we arrived knowing nobody here. This year we quickly connected with a couple from then. Last year we didn’t have any visitors, but this year we hosted my sister-in-law for a week. Friends from Ohio rented a short distance away for a week. We had lunch with friends from our street at home. We even saw the best man in our wedding (now in Oklahoma) who happened to be passing through on a week-long mountain biking journey.

I walked a lot while on this coast during the six weeks. The goal of many people is 10,000 (10K) steps per day. I typically got that by noon and easily exceeded 20K on most days. As my time ends, the soles of my feet are smooth – but a persistent warm glow of tenderness serves as a reminder of the many steps during my 45 days. Life as an alter ego is grand.

A year ago my mind was extraordinarily free to think – but this year, personal thoughts preoccupy my mind. Good news is that more beach walks are on the way – more walks than last year.

I took a blog break because blog breaks are good. I’ve resurfaced with a beach walk because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On Blog-Break Time

Odds and Ends
Thanks for birthday greetings. Receiving birthday greetings from around the world makes the day extra special! A Saturday birthday was a good time to celebrate the entire weekend. Besides, my variation of on-this-day-in-history was different for me.

We in the US just celebrated a holiday. Which is correct: Presidents Day, President’s Day, or Presidents’ Day? The answer is simple: 1) It depends on who you ask because style manuals differ – and 2) it depends on how the law is written in each state. That’s crazy! In this case I favor Presidents Day.

A salute to high school students becoming activists regarding gun violence.

I missed my prediction about the US hockey team. Fortunately they played Slovakia twice – but that team beat the Russians.

Time for a blog break. I’ve been going strong since September, so I’m ready for some time off. I’m guessing 2-4 weeks of no posting. Nothing urgent at this end, but I know the time is right. Besides, blog breaks are good!

That doesn’t mean I won’t be preparing future posts, but I will reduce my online presence – but that doesn’t mean I won’t stop by. In other words, time will tell. I imagine returning sometime in March – preferably in the first half of the month – but one never knows.

In the spirit of Opinions in the Shorts, I conclude with some Onion Headlines, Interesting Reads, and a song.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Teddy Bear feels terrible for sparking “What are We? Conversation
Area ladder never thought it would end up as bookcase
Pet turtle going hog-wild on terrarium’s new stick
Man hates it when trailer gives away entire premise of movie
Archeologists unearth ivory trumpet dating back to prehistoric jazz age
Cute new dog helping single man pick up tons of hot shit
Raytheon unveils military robot capable of composing poignant poems about horrors of war

Interesting Reads
Birth of the Academy Awards
An international comparison of health care systems
Is tech dividing America?
A changing Saudi Arabia
(Blogger) Toilets for the half-assed … (a must see)
(Video) Now this is a tough commute
(Photos) 2018 World Press Photo Contest nominees

Until we meet again and as Garrison Keillor says, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On 65 about 65

A salute to 65 – also known as sixty five, sessanta cinque, Šedesát pět, Šešiasdešimt penki, Kuusikymmentä viisi, Lixdan shan, Hatvanöt, LXV, and more

In Mathematics
65 – an integer, a whole number, semiprime number, octagonal number, Cullen number, a deficient number

65 – composed of two prime numbers (5 and 13) multiplied together

65 – divisible by 1, 5, 13, and 65

65 – the magic constant of 5 by 5 normal magic square

65 squared equals 4225

65 square root equals 8.0622577483

In Science
The atomic number of terbium, a lanthanide element whose neutral atom containing 65 protons and 65 electrons

Messier object M65, in the constellation Leo

NGC 65, a spiral galaxy in the constellation Cetus

Star Gliese 530 is 65 light years away

In Entertainment
65th Precinct – the setting to the classic TV series Naked City (1958–63) – which was commonly referred to as “the 65”

The 65th Academy Awards – held on March 29, 1993 with winners included Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Al Pacino, and Marisa Tomei associated with movies as Unforgiven, Howards End, Scent of a Woman, and My Cousin Vinny

65th episode of Seinfeld – “The Mango” – the first episode of season 5 – aired 16 Sept 1993 – George is upset when his girlfriend suggests she hasn’t had an organism with him, then later appears to have one while eating risotto.

Channel 65 – A television station in 10 US locations; including El Paso, Orlando, Pittsburgh, and San Jose

In Music
65 Love Affair by Paul Davis (1982)

I Can Drive 65 – Sammy Hagar re-recorded a previous hit when the speed limit changed from 55 to 65 miles per hour

65 – an abbreviation for the Sheffield, UK, post-rock band 65daysofstatic

In Literature
Sonnet 65 – one of 154 sonnets written by William Shakespeare

What Really Happened to the Class of ’65? – a non-fiction book by Michael Medved and David Wallechinsky

Sixty Five Hours by N.R. Walker

In Sports
65 – the retired number of Elvin Bethea (NFL Titans)

65 – the NASCAR vehicle that never won in 94 races with 35 different drivers (Carl Adams the most)

65 – the retired number in MotoGP honoring driver Loris Capirossi

65th Baseball World Series Champions – Detroit Tigers (defeating St. Louis Cardinals, 1968)

65th Grey Cup – Won by Montreal Alouettes (1977)

In Geography
65th parallel north – intersects Norway, Finland, Sweden, Russia, United States, Canada, Greenland, and Iceland

65th parallel south – intersects an Antarctic peninsula claimed by Argentina, Chile, and United Kingdom

65th meridian west – intersects Canada, Greenland, US Virgin Islands, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, and Antarctica

65th meridian east – intersects Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Antarctica

Interstate 65 is the Interstate Highway connecting northwestern Indiana and southmost Alabama

In Culture
65 – the traditional age for retirement in the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, Canada, and several other countries.

65 – the age in the U.S., at which a person is eligible to obtain Medicare

65 – the number commonly used in names of many dishes of South India cuisine, for instance Chicken 65

65th anniversary – the sapphire jubilee.

Psalm 65 – the 65th psalm from the Book of Psalms that Jews recite on Yom Kippur

65 – the age of Mahalalel (great-great-grandson of Adam) and Enoch when they had their first son

65th Sura of the Qur’an is the At-Talaq

Rule 65 – Any use of the word “irony” on the internet is incorrect

In Numerology
65 – the natural desire to be cooperative, in harmony, and cooperative

65 – the number representing the energy in relationships

Angel number 65 – symbolizes love from one’s home and family

In Business
Sixty Five Chinese Restaurant is in Chicago

65 Roses is a Cystic Fibrosis national fundraising initiative

65th Avenue and Broadway in Sacramento is a Starbucks, but in New York City one will find the Julliard School of Music and the Lincoln Center

Bar SixtyFive at the Rainbow Room – located on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center in New York City provides a good view of the Empire State Building

In Technology
65 – the decimal value representing the letter ‘A’ in the ASCII code

The Commodore 65 – a prototype computer

The HP-65 – the first magnetic card-programmable handheld calculator (1974)

In History
AD 65

  • A common year starting on Tuesday
  • The first official reference to Buddhism made in China
  • The first Christian community in Africa is founded by Mark
  • Death of Lucan, Roman poet and philosopher

Year 65 BC – known as the Year of the Consulship of Cotta and Torquatus

65th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece was King Edward IV of England (1442-1470)

In US History
The 65th Infantry Division—nicknamed the “Battle-axe”—a World War II infantry division of the United States Army that my dad served

Only James Buchanan entered the presidency at age 65, but Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Taylor left office at age 65

65th Congress served the 5th and 6th years of the Woodrow Wilson administration (1917-1919)

65 miles per hour, a common speed limit on many USA highways

65 Red Roses is a 2009 documentary film about a young woman with cystic fibrosis

65 – the number of private foundation universities in Turkey

65 – the code for international direct dial telephone calls to Singapore

CVN-65 is the designation of the U.S. Navy’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise

65-pound cardstock is a commonly grade of heavier paper

65 is the minimum grade or average required to pass an exam, or a class, in some schools

65th day of an ordinary year is March 6th, which also marks 300 days remaining in the year – but March 5th is the 65th day in a leap year

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The previous post celebrated my 65th birthday with a look at a date in history – so this continues my tradition of saluting the number. Join the celebration by listening to one of my favorite songs … so please tell me your choice. Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the world to celebrate.