On a 2016 Season of Lights

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A candle is a small thing.
But one candle can light another.
And see how its own light increases, as a candle gives its flame to the other.
You are such a light.
Moshe Davis and Victor Ratner

Interfaith graphic by Justice St. Rain (Bahá’í Community) of Interfaith Resources

Interfaith graphic by Justice St. Rain (Bahá’í Community) of Interfaith Resources

Such a short poem, yet so profound in many ways … and even better in the season of the lights. On the religious side of 2016, Christians and Jews have celebrations on December 24th – Christmas Eve and the first day of Hanukkah. Three days earlier was another day that provides spirituality for many – the Winter Solstice. Toss in the fact that Christmas also serves as a secular celebration for many, these days impact many.

To me, Santa Claus is a symbol that crosses all cultures – all people – simply because he is the symbol of goodness. After all, goodness across the world as it transcends religions, languages, cultures, skin colors, gender, ages, sexual orientations, and even politics.

As my regulars know well, I enjoy using videos in many of my posts. In the spirit of Santa’s goodness, thank you for all the joys you give me through your interaction here and for your posts. Even through all the craziness in the world, the good feed off each other.

Enjoy any or all of the music selections of the season that are below … but I appreciate knowing which you enjoyed … so stay as long as you wish.

For all who find peace and renewal through the Winter Solstice.

For all finding the light shining bright through the night.

For all who appreciate the music of the season done a different way A few weeks ago we heard – Little Drummer Boy done to the rhythms of Ravel’s Bolero.

For the many regulars here who enjoy The Piano Guys … (I had to include them.)

For all who appreciate the music of other cultures (This one has stuck with me ever since I saw this in person many years ago).

For the fans of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, who meld their words with the beauty of Pachelbel’s Canon.

For all who find awe and wonder in deep space with this classic.

For all attracted to one of the most beautiful natural lights of the season – the Aurora Borealis – and set to my favorite version of a classic tune of the season.

Whether it be Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays or whatever greeting you prefer, I issue a greeting of your choosing for the season … plus Peace and Joy to all!

On Mid-Week Holiday 2016 Briefs

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Given the mid-week status of this post due to the approaching holiday, this is a variation of the weekly Opinion in the Shorts, which probably won’t reappear until after ringing in 2017.

The next post will be my holiday greeting, which I hope goes live in time for Christmas Eve in Australia/New Zealand. Hope everyone has a time to stop by as there will be quite the selection of goodies.

For the last week of December, I will have a few Explore posts, followed by a post to lead us into 2017.

The Electoral College has voted, so Election 2016 is over. In the aftermath since Election Day, hopefully Americans have learned more about the Electoral College. I know I have – but I’ll save that post for another day.

The fact that I’m not listing a “Obama’s Fault” list is Obama’s fault. However, columnist Charles Krauthammer recently wrote that President-elect Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency is Obama’s fault.

For those needing some handbell music for the holidays, here’s a recording of the version we will be playing of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.

For readers who enjoy a feel-good story, CBS News had this touching report about the origin of Secret Santa.

I was saddened to receive the news of the passing of a blogger – especially one who was kind and smart – let alone talented in her own craft. Blogging makes the world smaller. Even though most of us will never meet, we impact each other through our interactions. To Cynthia Jobin, aka Littleoldladywho, thank you for sharing yourself through your poems and in your interactions with me and others. Here is her last poem (and for those who don’t know, there is also an audio). To me, I heard her talking about herself – but I may be wrong.

The recent announcement of the latest inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the ceiling is starting to crack. Although no Moody Blues (which were not consider this year), the wait is over for three worthy bands: Electric Light Orchestra, Journey, and Yes.

On a Bit of Kindness

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Although kindness comes in many forms, I wonder about human beings. Are we naturally selfish? Are we naturally positive or negative? How much of our behavior is innate as opposed to learned?

As a person who enjoys staying informed by watching the news, I realize most news stories typically focus on something negative. After all, when the station does a short positive story near the end of the telecast, it seems out-of-place.

On the other hand, I’m a firm believer that the majority of the world is good – which means I’m confident that the majority of people in people in international hotbeds are good. Yes, I believe the majority of people in Iran, China, Venezuela, Syria, Afghanistan, Russia, and all countries are good. After all, smiles and kindness are accepted with gratitude even with barriers in place as language, culture, and government..

Maybe all this is a reason that those simple positive news stories get my attention – and sometimes bringing a tear to my eye as the story touch my heart and reinforced my belief in kindness across the role. It’s been a long time since I focused a post on goodness, so it’s about time I get my act together! 🙂

I saw this not long ago on the Today show, so I’m glad the story is still available. NBC’s Hoda Kotb dressed up as a metermaid – an officer with a duty of issuing parking violations. Click here to watch the video, and enjoy!

On John Glenn

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Many stories have been published about John Glenn since the news of his recent death. Then again, after 95 years of life, 73 years as a husband to his childhood sweetheart, 23 years as a military pilot and astronaut, 24 years as a US Senator, and 18 years of retirement – there is much to tell outside of his accomplishments and high awards.

Those of in Ohio probably get more about the man and his life because Ohio is his state – the state where he was born and raised – the state whom he served – the state he has always called home – the state where he was born and died. In those articles, what touched me the most were the adjectives describing John Glenn: Kind, gentle, patriotic, genuine, patient, humble, charming, decent, respectful, smart, brave, gracious, determined, heroic, dedicated, simple, likable, and quiet.

The day after his death, I greatly enjoyed this story in the Cincinnati Enquirer focusing on his life. On the political side, he didn’t get the Democratic party nomination in his first attempt to be a senator representing Ohio. After all, the incumbent criticized him because he had “paid his dues” in politics.

He ran again six years later for the same seat as the incumbent was retiring. The road in the primary wasn’t easy because his opponent (Howard Metzenbaum) ran the incumbent’s campaign the last time and had the support of the state Democratic party and the unions. Glenn eventually dropped out, but Metzenbaum lost in the general election.

Ohio’s other senate seat came open in 1974,  so Ohio’s governor appointed Metzenbaum to complete the term. Because the seat was up for vote in the fall, Glenn challenged Metzenbaum.

During the campaign, Metzenbaum told Ohioans they shouldn’t vote for Glenn because he “never worked for a living.” Glenn response to that criticism during their debate was strong, which may be a reason why he won the primary – and eventually the Senate seat – so it is worth reading below.

I served 23 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. I served through two wars. I flew 149 missions. My plane was hit by antiaircraft fire on 12 different occasions. I was in the space program. It wasn’t my checkbook; it was my life on the line. It was not a nine to five job where I took time off to take the daily cash receipts to the bank.

I ask you to go with me. … as I went the other day to a Veterans hospital and look at those men with their mangled bodies in the eye and tell them they didn’t hold a job. You go with me to the space program and go as I have gone to the widows and orphans of Ed White, Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee and you look those kids in the eye and tell them that their dad didn’t hold a job.

You go with me on Memorial Day, coming up, and you stand in Arlington National Cemetery, where I have more friends than I’d like to remember and you watch those waving flags. You stand there, and you think about this nation, and you tell me that those people didn’t have a job, I’ll tell you, Howard Metzenbaum, you should be on your knees every day of your life thanking God that there were some men – some men – who held a job. And they required a dedication to purpose, a love of country and a dedication to duty that was more important than life itself. And their self-sacrifice is what made this country possible. I have held a job, Howard. What about you?

Godspeed, John Glenn … and thank you for your service and for being a role model.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 320

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Oh yes – classic federal government story. My wife and I applied for a special program. The first available “interview” in Cincinnati was September 2017. So we decided to drive 4 hours (each way) because they had interview openings in December. Well, all they wanted was to take our fingerprints and tell us basic information, which took 10 minutes for each of us.

Had to laugh at this rerun scene from Everyone Loves Raymond.

I still love this vintage television commercial for the season. After all, I used to say that the Christmas holiday wasn’t official until I saw this.

The next post will be about John Glenn. Meanwhile, this story saddened me because it can be applied to many people – but Mr. Glenn in this case.

The Christmas and New Year’s Day holiday causes me to change my posting – so I’m not sure about the next OITS. At this point, I’m hoping to have a few Explore posts between those two days.

Wow … Congress actually demonstrated that bipartisanship is possible with the 21st Century Cures Act. Then again, maybe it was time to use their once-a-year allotment.

As a whole, I am not impressed with President-elect Trump’s cabinet selections. It will be interesting to see which nominees meet resistance from enough Republican senators.

The partisans on both side of the aisle continue to amuse me with their predictability.

Potential conflict of interests involving Mr. Trump’s business remains on my radar.

When will Mr. Trump abandon his on-stage schtick?

Here is The Onion’s 2016 Year in Review.

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Brown spots on bananas
Too many Canada Geese
A dysfunctional Congress
Aliens disguised as squirrels
Cleveland Browns playing in London next season

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers this tips for hotel etiquette.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Nation comes to a halt to watch crane move massive concrete tube
More realistic meat substitute made from soy raised in brutally cruel conditions
Universe feels no connection to guy tripping on mushrooms
Eighteen dead in Kansas town after tornado siren set to “Vibrate”
First nap doesn’t take

Interesting Reads
Fake news leads to a guide to facts
Better sleep in a stressful age
A look at observing teachers
The South Korean President who stepped down
Education in Singapore
The 1952 killer fog in London: An explanation?

Instead of using a popular classic to send you into the weekend, here’s a high energy song that I’ve used in previous years. Not only do I enjoy the Trans Siberian Orchestra version, I marvel at the skill level of the Raleigh Ringers. Enjoy! Hope all is well with you, and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.