Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 336

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria along with the earthquake in Mexico have created much havoc in this part of the world. I encourage all readers to give to a charity of their choice that assists in recovery efforts.

I recently discovered Charity Navigator, a website rating many charitable organizations on their finances; including administrative expenses, fundraising expenses, accountability, transparencies and the percentage of donations that go into programs. Take a look.

Last week my wife’s side of the family recently gathered for a week along Lake Michigan. The town (Grand Haven, MI) has a fountain sitting high and across the river from the town – and this is a musical fountain – one choreographing water and lights to music.

Fiona surpassed 500 pounds. Keep in mind that she was born 6 weeks early at 29 pounds – and the zoo raised her without much guidance from other zoos.

October is going to be a busy month for us as we deal with the elderly aunt – so my presence will be inconsistent.

Several years I ago I was ride high with good seasons from my 3 football teams (2 college and 1 pro). I describe the 2018 edition of the same 3 teams as not-very-good, bad, and worse … how quickly things can change.

Dancing With the Stars is off to a good start with a strong cast. As a whole, the cast is very likable. The weakest and strongest competitors are obvious, but a large portion of the cast has room to develop into a contender.

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The recent fervor regarding football teams and the national anthem has caused many to wince and wonder in a variety of ways. Contrary to what others think, the action has nothing to do with disrespecting the country; nothing to do with disrespecting the flag; nothing to do with disrespecting the military; nothing to do with disrespecting first responders. This article from Polifact is interesting.

After the previously failed vote repealing the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) he was “willing to work with Democrats” …. then he sponsored the latest repeal effort (which at posting time) appears to be doomed.

Not long ago concerning an issue, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) described the solution coming from the center to find a majority – therefore avoiding the extremes. Although a good idea, I’m not convinced there are enough in the Congressional middle to create a majority.

As Republicans look toward tax reform as the next big issue, I won’t be surprised if they forego the normal legislative path. Meanwhile, the current posturing by both sides involves partisan distortion around facts that don’t exist.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for remaining calm during an emergency.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Facebook vows not to hand over users’ medical records to government
Hydra decides to see doctor about painful ingrown head
Archaeologists discover fully intact 17th century belief system in Ohio congressman
Food purchased as souvenir tragically revealed to be available back home
Asian-American actress struggles with being typecast as Sherlock Holmes
Partridges frozen to pear trees
All Else fails

Interesting Reads
Is “scared to death” possible
Genetics and human evolution
Questioning lager beer’s origin
King John’s lost jewels
(Gallery) Pictures in nature from the first round 2017 National Geographic Photographer of the Year Contest 

For your weekend entertainment, enjoy the Fab Four classic sung by Sir Paul. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Shine

You may not know what this is …

… and seeing this piece may not help.

Interesting how this delicate stand played such a large role in our lives – but is actually less so today.

This better hint may give you an idea because you have have it in your hand.

We forget just how painfully dim the world was before electricity. A candle, a good candle, provides barely a hundredth of the illumination of a single 100 watt light bulb.” (Bill Bryson, writer)

I consider myself an inventor first and an entrepreneur second. In real life, my hero is Thomas Edison. He was a great inventor, but also an outstanding entrepreneur who was able to sell his inventions to the masses. He didn’t just develop the light bulb; he invented the entire electric grid and power distribution system.” (Aaron Patzer, Business leader)

Sometimes we don’t know what we are seeing.

… even when we see more.

Even with more we still may not know.

In time, we see the light

… and then there was more.”

To think about the impact on our lives of not only the light bulb, but electricity, boggles the mind. Shine, an ArtWorks mural, illustrates the beauty, elegance, and uniqueness of antique light bulbs as it takes us back in time while honoring one of greatest human innovations.

Interestingly, this mural is located on the outside wall of a Duke Energy electric substation.

ArtWorks is a unique non-profit organization that employs and trains local youth to create art in the community. To date, ArtWorks is responsible for over 125 murals throughout Cincinnati – which many are in the main part of the city.

Basic Information
Shine
Location: Central Parkway & Central Parkway
Designer: Tim Parsley

To see more of my posts about the murals of Cincinnati, click here.

Thanks to Resa (Toronto’s leading lady) whose posts about street art in Toronto and Winnipeg, got me interested in outdoor arr in my area. I invite readers to visit Resa’s blog (but tell her I sent you.)

PS: To the people of Puerto Rico, many of whom have lost this precious utility. I encourage readers to give to the charity of their choice that is assisting the people of Puerto Rico with their recovery efforts.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 335

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Hard to believe, but the previous edition of OITS was on July 14th! I’m overdue!!!!

Fiona, Cincinnati’s favorite baby hippo, continues to do well. Besides being a media darling, Graeter’s (one of the best ice creams on the planet) made a limited-edition flavor in her (Fiona’s) honor: Chunky Chunky Hippo – a toffee ice cream base containing salted roasted peanuts and milk chocolate caramel truffles. YUM! Meanwhile, click here to see the Fiona updates from the zoo with some great pictures. It’s guaranteed to make you smile.

This summer was a tough golf season for me because I could establish any consistency – especially in the weekly golf league. Then again, how my opponent plays also influences the outcome. Somehow I qualified for the final 4. I didn’t play well in the semi-finals, but my opponent couldn’t close the deal – so I hung around to win on the last hole. Off to the finals I went where I cruised to victory!

September always brings a change in my routine. Volunteering and handbells get started and working into my schedule of ballroom dance, working part-time at the golf course, ushering at plays, and whatever else comes our way. One handbell piece we are working on may be the hardest yet for us – so it will be interesting to see we (the choir) can get it ready to perform.

There are many things to get riled up about in the world, and statues of Confederate soldiers of the US Civil War is not one of them for me.

Thumbs up to two totally different movies: Dunkirk and The Big Sick. Our first play of the season was a theater version of Shakespeare in Love. (Remember the movie?) … another thumbs up.

For those who enjoyed this post about doors earlier this week, do you remember similar posts involving many pictures of Italy?

Instead of displaying the Pause button, I probably won’t be posting for a week … but I did state probably.

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Put me in the group that doesn’t get my shorts in a knot over what First Lady Melania Trump is wearing.

Some partisans have described Donald Trump, Jr’s meeting with the Russians as treason. In true partisan fashion, many of the partisan ears latch onto the word. Is collusion a better description? Maybe – we don’t know enough yet. Is stupid a suitable descriptor? Unquestionably! .. but treason? Nope. See Article III, Section 3 of the US Constitution.

I’m all for the Russian Investigation around the Trump administration and campaign. Where I differ from many is that I want one thorough investigation – and then so be it. Therefore not a continual investigation because one didn’t find what they wanted (as the Republicans did with 7(?) investigations with Benghazi).

I love this line from a recent Kathleen Parker column: “…. the U.S.-North Korea stare-down is more accurately a battle of nitwits who seem to think threatening nuclear holocaust and mutual destruction is a contest to see who has bigger hands.”

As I continue to hear Hillary Clinton say various excuses for losing the election, she continues to focus on blaming others. It seems running a lousy campaign, failing to focus on the issues, and trying to be who she isn’t (just like McCain & Romney did in playing to the base) … all recipes for failure.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a short explanation how the brain responds to advertising.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Hellmann’s introduces new meat-on-the-bottom mayo cups
Mosquito confronts partner after testing positive for Zika
God falling under influence of powerful spiritual guru
Millions of policy proposals spill into the sea as think tank runs around
Aroma of cleaning product closest thing man’s had to fruit in weeks

Interesting Reads
Creationism and culture wars
Facts & information: How people deal with them
Churchill and Dunkirk
Religion’s reaction to alien contact
Art by a gay Chinese farmer
Blogger Debra’s visit to the city along the Adriatic of my birth
(Photos) Train graveyard

For your weekend entertainment, here’s a song from years ago that many will enjoy. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Vacation Primer

For those wanting some background music for the post, here’s some music from the land.

On to the post.

The image shows are 12-days of cruising. Keep in mind that we had 4 days in London before cruising, plus 3 days in Reykjavik, Iceland after the cruise. Both of these stops were independent of the cruise and done on our own.

I was struck by the fact that each of the major cities in the British Isles were quite different from one another.

  • The most grand: London, England
  • The most captivating: Edinburgh, Scotland
  • The most walkable: Dublin, Ireland
  • The most unexpectedly different: Liverpool, England
  • The most gut wrenching: Belfast, Northern Ireland

… and we didn’t just visit cities on the trip:

  • The most scenic countryside: Northern Scotland
  • The most solemn: American military cemetery at Normandy (Omaha Beach)
  • The most quaint: St. Peter Port, Guernsey
  • The most geologic diverse: Iceland

We walked a lot – averaging about 13,500 steps per day with over 25,000 being the most. When walking, my eyes are busy. For those who remember, when in Florence, Italy – I say “Look up!” Whether walking or passing by in a touring bus, these business signs on the trip caught my eye. Other than the obvious, any thoughts on what they sell?

 

On Doors

Door – Old English duru, dor, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch deur ‘door’ and German Tür ‘door,’ Tor ‘gate’; from an Indo-European root shared by Latin foris ‘gate’ and Greek thura ‘door’

Door – the entrance to a room or building

Door – a hinged, sliding, or revolving barrier at the entrance to a building, room, or vehicle, or in the framework of a cupboard

Door – a reference to the distance from one building in a row to another

Door – A structure that opens, closes, swings, slides, shuts, hides, protects, and symbolizes

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” (Milton Berle, comedian)

The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” (Confucius, philosopher)

I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.” (Marla Gibbs, actor)

Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” (George Washington Carver, scientist)

Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” (Coco Chanel, designer)

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” (John Barrymore, actor)

Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door.” (Emily Dickinson, poet)

Listen; there’s a hell of a good universe next door: let’s go. (e. e. Cummings, poet)

 

No matter if it’s old or new, elegant or simple, metal or wood, ornate or plain – a door is a door while being a wonderful symbol and metaphor. Any favorite doors above or below?

All images taken by me  (a nonphotographer in Italy.

On Let’s Swing

When thinking about the emerging music of the 1920s and 30s in the USA, swing music come to mind. The initial craze led into the Big Band era that continued into the 1950s.

From the likes of African-American giants as Louis Jordan, Cab Calloway, and Louis Prima to Big Band icons as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman to the new generation of swing of Elvis, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard, then onto the more contemporary sounds of Brian Setzer, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, swing has maintained a presence for many years.

Even within a generation, not all swing music is the same. Different music with different rhythms at different tempos also means different dances. Swing dance broke the rules of dance as it was fast, loose, and free … so the purpose of this post is to examine a few of the mainstays of swing dance.

Lindy Hop
Lindy Hop’s roots a traced back to the Harlem community of New York City, and influential dancer George “Shorty” Snowden. Life was a buzz with Charles Lindbergh’s successful solo flight over the Atlantic, and his name became attached to many things.

The dance, a fusion of Charleston and Foxtrot, moved out of Harlem and became popular – and also took on another name – the Jitterbug. Interestingly, this dance remains popular today – especially in clubs specializing in Lindy Hop/Jitterbug. Enjoy this classic movie clip that includes dance legend Frankie Manning.

 

Jive
As a variation of Lindy Hop, Jive became popular in the late 1930s, then American GIs took the dance to Europe. Although variations as boogie-woogie, swing boogie, and modern jive exist, today’s jive is a competitive ballroom dance.

 

East Coast Swing
East Coast Swing evolved as a simpler version of Lindy – that is, East Coast was easier to do and easier to teach. Arthur Murray Dance Studios were instrumental in popularizing this dance, which also became part of the competitive ballroom dance circuit.

Because of tempo variations in the music, one could subdivide this dance into single-time swing (fastest music, slower steps), double-time swing, and triple-time swing (slowest music, fastest steps).

 

West Coast Swing
With a Lindy style that was more anchored and whippy, dancer Dean Collins left Harlem and took the Lindy Hop to the California. From this, West Coast Swing developed into a slotted dance where dancers are either on or off the slot (track). West Coast Swing music is typically slower than East Coast Swing music with more of a smooth, blues, R&B, cool jazz sound. This video involves two good dancers dancing improv (not choreographed).

 

Shag
As another variation of swing that developed from the upbeat music of the 1930s. Shag developed in the African-American communities of the Carolinas, and then spread across the country. DIfferent variations include Collegiate, Carolina, and St. Louis. This video is interesting because is uses multiple dancers.

Swing dance isn’t limited to the above as other variations include Balboa (Bal), Rock and Roll, Western Swing, Imperial Swing, Jazz Dance Swing, Rock and Roll Swing, Acrobatic Rock and Rock, Washington Hand Dancing, Push and Whip, DC Swing, and Charleston. Even in competitive dance, American Style Ballroom Swing is different that International Style Ballroom Swing.Swing dance is also the foundation other modern dances as disco and country line dancing.

Speaking of line dances, let’s end the post with a classic. Shim Sham originally appeared as a tap routine in Harlem during the 1930s – but it morphed into a swing dance, then into a line dance for today’s swing dancers. Let’s bring back the great Frankie Manning for some Shim Sham.

Any favorites? Which of these do you wish you could do? Better yet, can you dance any of these swings?

Which of these dances should have its own dedicated post?

On Aspects of Science

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Science – the search for the explanation of what we observe in nature.

Science – a body of organized knowledge that describes the properties and interactions of the material components of the universe.

Science – a human endeavor limited to the human perspective seeking to understand and explain phenomena occurring in the natural world and the laboratory.

Science – a dynamic (not static) intellectual human endeavor leading us to a deeper understanding of the natural world.

Science – an impersonal process requiring a trained mind with passion, imagination, and patience for details to find patterns, structure, connections, and history within nature.

Science – a data-gathering process so we can better understand ourselves, the natural world around us, and our place in this world.

Science – a process with accepted methodologies trained mind works uses while fighting misconceptions, mistaken observations, and inadequate conclusions.

Science – an intellectual activity using the senses and technology to extend the senses for gathering data to develop an explanation based on evidence and what is already known.

Science – a process and activity requiring a conscious mind that observes, inquires, organizes, interprets, understands, and a willingness to follow acceptable scientific methodologies while staying within nature’s boundaries – yet that does not mean that nothing exists outside of nature’s boundaries.

Science – the study of the material, processes, and forces of the natural world.

Science – not a belief system, but a learning system involving the exploration of natural causes to explain natural phenomena through systemic processes and procedures.

Science – an empirical human endeavor by establishing questions of truth through experimenting and testing without absolutes while remaining open to retesting and reconsideration.

Science – a gift as it brings us new knowledge, yet knowledge that is only for a given point in time because it can change based on newer knowledge. Because of potential development of new knowledge, science must be willing to have what is currently known to be proven wrong.

Science – a system giving us gives theories: a structure of ideas based on large amounts of evidence that explain and interpret numerous facts about a concept – therefore, well beyond a personal opinion or a detective’s hunch.

Science – a habit of mind of careful sifting of data and withholding of final judgment.

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Science – a methodology that does not make moral, ethical, and value judgments for society because those judgments are made by society.

Science – a way of knowing, but not the only way because science does not corner the way to truth about everything. Philosophical, theological, psychological/emotional, ethical, political, and historical views provide additional perspectives, yet each discipline is selective and limited.

Science – an activity bringing forth new issues causing humanity to face moral and ethical questions – whose answers science does not provide because it is neither equipped nor competent to answer ethical and moral questions, let alone the metaphysical, philosophical, or theological questions as “what is the meaning of life”, “why am I here”, and “is there a god?”

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Science – a process with recognized limitations. Science does not state how to use its knowledge. Science does not make value judgments. Science is limited to studying in nature. Science is limited to our ability to observe, including technology’s limitations. Science does not operate outside of its defined methodologies.

Science – a study that is limited to itself. Science cannot prove or disprove God’s existence because that question/topic lies outside science’s self-imposed boundaries of the observable events in the natural world around us.

Science – a study that should be embraced by all.