On a Bridge to 2018

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The time has come for the annual rite of transition of passing from one year to the next. The changeover from 2017 to 2018.

For each of us, 2017 brought us trials and joys – tribulations and elations – agonies and thrills. After all, that’s what life entails. We are human – so the tendency of dwelling on the negatives seems much easier than focusing or even recognizing the positives.

I’m not sure what 2018 will bring to this blog – my little corner of the world. Two milestones are approaching: 300,000 visits (probably this or the next post) and 2,000 posts (about a dozen to go). I know I still have more to say, but I’ve also seen many of my loyal visitors stop blogging – and I’m not up to rebuilding. I would like to do one more blog musical, more beach walks, and more about the intersection of science and religion, but time will tell. Posts about Iceland are almost ready.

Let us raise our glass for a toast.

To the goodness of the WordPress community …

May 2018 helps us see the oneness of humanity.

May 2018 shine the light on kindness and generosity.

May 2018 bestow a positive understanding of others.

May 2018 bring good health and happiness.

Salute! Yamas! Proost! Skål! Sei gesund! A la votre! Şerefe! Gān bēi! Terviseks! Kippis! Salut! Cheers! … .and I hope you select a version of the grand song (plus let me know your choice).

My personal choice for this post.

For those desiring a touch of the pipes with beautiful scenery.

For those desiring a rock legend for the song.

For those wanting to sing along with the crowd


Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 346

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For those willing to have some background music, here’s something interesting: Il Divo’s version of the Moody Blues hit Nights in White Satin.

I hope everyone had a good holiday. We travelled a few hours to my family several days before Christmas, but returned as the handbell choir played at 2 Christmas Eve services. We will host my wife’s side of the family in early January.

Bone-chilling temperatures are smacking many of us in the USA. YUK!

Hope you didn’t miss it, but this past Tuesday night was another great year of entertainment at The Kennedy Center Honors show (CBS). The honorees were having a great time! It worth looking around for it.

The recent 15th post in the Beach Walk series is the last … well, at least until I return to the beach. After all, having authentic beach walks is important to me.

John Howell (Fiction Favorites) and I are starting a business together where we aim to provide blaming solutions to anyone’s problems. Blames Are UsWe assign blame to any and all situations. Get your problems ready because the time will come when John and I will solve your problems right here on these pages.

A video recently inspired me to write a short story (I’m aiming at less than 300 words). I’ll post it here sometime soon.

Unfortunately, we only saw one between the holidays: Downsizing (with Matt Damon). An interesting premise, but I felt the storyline was a bit unsteady. On the plus side, it provides numerous chances to think about human behaviors. No need to rush to see this one.

The next post will lead us into 2018.

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Congratulations to Congress as it didn’t do anything stupid this week. Of course, not being in session helps.

I had to laugh at the statements both President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made about future bipartisan agreements. Hey guys – that means you have to do three things: 1) Sincerely reach out, 2) Know that you won’t get your way, and 3) give them something substantial in return. After all, seeking bipartisanship is more than inviting the other side to follow your way.

Not only ago the US Supreme Court heard the argument from a Colorado baker who contends the right to deny making a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding (Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission). This article about a Indiana University study bothers me.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers suggestions on being a savvy news consumer. 

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Woman stood up on first date got all drunk for nothing
Dad gets dolled up for trip to Lowe’s
Uncle puts more thought than usual into this year’s gift cards
Alcoholic’s plan for turning life around doesn’t involve getting sober
Cockroaches feeling really good about the planet

Interesting Reads (as a whole, a bit more relaxing than usual)
The Crown’s recreation of Buckingham Palace
About ArtWorks, Cincinnati organization responsible for many great murals
Thoughts about tamales
Digitizing important old manuscripts
A new way to see cancer
(Photos) Beautiful bird pictures by Cindy Knoke (a visitor here)
(Photos) Most dramatic weather images of 2017

To lead you closer to the new year, here’s the last in the Beatles series that I’ve been doing since returning from the UK. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Beach Walk: No. 15

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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 body of knowledge known by the human race is huge – yet most of us know so little – a mere fraction of the total. What each of us know may be equivalent to a handful of sand on a long beach – if that. It is a meager few drops from the water that I see.

As I gaze down this long beach, I recall the day a fellow teacher knocked on my classroom door. She was polling the staff about their knowledge about a topic on a 1-to-10 scale – to which I paused and answered 4.

Given our past conversations and her knowledge about me, she questioned my choice. “How can you say that when I know you taken classes and workshops, and then trying and implementing these strategies?”

I verified her points about me, but then explained my reflective self-evaluation as a relative point. My reference point were the experts in the field (who I named). “Compared to them I am no more than a 4 – but compared to my colleagues I am a 10 – and there is no way most of them an 8, 9, or 10.”

Yes, knowledge is relative. I look out over the vast waters of the Gulf of Mexico, no land is in sight, yet I know land is out there, but far away. Yet, while the gulf is large compared to the small pond in the neighborhood or the nice lake at a state park, it is small compared to the Atlantic Ocean – and even smaller compared to the Pacific Ocean.

I think of all the water found on Earth – in the lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, bays, gulfs, and oceans – let alone in the ground, the air, as glaciers and icecaps, and within living organisms. The seemingly vast water of the Gulf of Mexico now seem so small. No matter how much one knows, it’s actually so little.

Yes, my knowledge is the small amount of sand that touches my feet as I stare across the water then down both directions of the long beach. While water washing ashore signifies changing times, I still like walking the beach as it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On Christmas 2017

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For much of the world, December is the season. A season of joy and light. A season of warmth and kindness. A season of spirit and belief. A season of renewal and hope. As those thoughts are with Christians and Jews around the celebrations of Christmas and Hanukkah, I contend this is the season not just for these two religions, but this is the season for all of humanity.

Santa Claus is the leading spirit of the season. He’s is the one of binds joy, light, warmth, kindness, spirit and believe not just to Christians, but for all of humanity. Santa is a positive spirit for all humans across the globe to embrace. Santa is the one that reaches into everyone’s childlike heart to touch an anticipated goodness. It is in this spirit that Santa crosses the barriers of culture, gender, skin color, religion, language, sexual orientation, nationality, and politics.

Santa carries the spirit unlimited goodness to all humans for them to embrace. No – embracing Santa does not carry an automatic endorsement of Christianity. I know those proclaiming “Put the Christ back in Christmas” shutter at my thoughts and banish me to the fires of Hell, but Santa is powerful spirit and symbol that allows humanity to pass goodness among itself – to pass goodness across cultures.

Yes, I am a Christian – and I understand why some believe the over-commercialization of Christmas is too secular – thus less religious. Yes, it is important for me to remember the religious aspect of Christmas. However, Christmas has also evolved into a secular holiday – and the Spirit of Santa leads the way by transcending all people in all cultures regardless of religious or non-religious beliefs.

Merry Christmas to those who accept Santa as the spirit of Goodness. Happy Holiday to those preferring that greeting. To those embracing the Winter Solstice and Yule, may the quiet, fire, and calm of the night lead you to a positive returning sun that will bring peace, joy, and love in the days ahead. To my Jewish friends, my the blessings of your light bring you happiness. To my Christian friends, a blessed Christmas wish to you.

My season gift to you is for you to enjoy at least one of the music selections below. Which did you enjoy?

Enya’s And Winter Came celebrates the winter solstice

The Piano Guys playing a song of the season

Manheim Steamroller’s Silent Night with glories skies is a personal favorite

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 345

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Because this is a holiday week, this edition of Opinion in the Shorts is a bit earlier than normal.

I’m overdue for a new header – so welcome another image from the Hubble Telescope – the Horsehead Nebula within the Orion constellation about 1500 light years from Earth. You can see my past headers on the Past Headers tab or by clicking here.

The latest Star Wars film: A quick review – Good vs. evil, a group of eclectic characters from across the universe, numerous special effects battle scenes, and advanced weapon technology that isn’t efficient at hitting a target.

2,000th post is the next statistical milestone for my little corner of the world. I imagine it happening sometime in early 2018 (January or February). 300,000th visit should happen sometime late December or January – but I don’t foresee them happening together

The next post will be a Christmas post (posted either on the 23rd or 24th).

I drafted the beach walks while at the beach. Cincinnati is a long way from the beach, so I only have one more – which I may publish next week.

The Creation Museum (from Answers in Genesis) is located in the Cincinnati area. Although I have more than a passing interest in the interrelationship between religion and science, I’ve never had the urge to visit the museum – and probably never will. After all, it does not represent my view of religion or my view of science. Therefore, I appreciated this closing statement Ted Davis gives his recent post at Biologos. … in engaging culture with Christian truth is a holy duty, but it goes awry when Christians approach culture in an aggressive and combative manner, oversimplify complex issues, and delegitimize any approach that starts with an open question instead of an assumed answer.

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With all the talk about the new tax plan, I wonder what happened to President Trump’s idea of (I paraphrase) “a tax cut not for rich guys like me.”

The new tax bill eliminates the wrong mandate regarding health care insurance – the individual mandate, whereas I say it should eliminate the insurance mandate on businesses – but that would involve guts and creative problem solving.

Other than saying No, Democrats missed the opportunity of providing an alternative tax-cut proposal to the public.

Remember Simpson-Bowles; the 2012 bipartisan effort examining deficit reduction and reform? Five years have passed and Congress and both parties continue to ignore it while kicking the can down the road.

It’s been a long time since I thought about the brilliant George Carlin’s 7 words you can’t say on TV, but it immediately came to my mind when hearing the report about the Trump Administration directive to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Reports say that the CDC cannot use 7 words in the budget preparation documents: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based. Although just another odd Trumpian effect, Chuck Todd’s closing segment on Meet the Press was perfect.

I smiled when I heard conservative columnist George Will say he believes the country would be better off with a divided Congress. I also enjoyed this recent column of his about washing machines.

Columnist Kathleen Parker recently offered timely reminder: … effectively convinced voters that what is true is false and what is false is true.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a guide for interpreting dreams.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Unidentified wooden pole leaning against wall in garage
God gets Celtic Cross tattoo on back
Unpatriotic man does not maintain erection during National Anthem
92% of area woman’s recipes involving pulverizing bag of Oreos
Overworked pajama bottoms pray owner gets job soon
Study finds chickens would have no qualms about caging, eating humans

Interesting Reads
Has the high school diploma lost meaning?
Public trust and science
A guide for pessimists for the days ahead
History of Star Wars
What if Greenland had no ice?
(Pictures) The most beautiful pictures of 2017
(Video) A relaxing two minutes of sights from the Bisti Wilderness in New Mexico

To lead you toward the holiday, here’s a 1963 clip of The Beatles. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Beach Walk: No. 14

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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 water is the sea of knowledge – and the water seems unlimited. There is so much to know. Identifying the shells on the beach would be an accomplishment in itself – but a small one in a relative sense. Meanwhile, the body of knowledge continues to grow.

I think of Leonardo da Vinci who was remorseful in the final days of his life because there was so much more to learn that he didn’t know. In light of his accomplishments, what I know in today’s world seems so small.

The internet brings knowledge closer to us while phones have placed that knowledge at are fingertips and made it portable. I walk on a beach that is a world without wires, yet knowledge is a fingertip away in my pocket.

Today knowledge grows at an accelerated rate while technology changes even faster. I can’t imagine a life today of someone who has never embraced computers – let alone smartphones. That could be like a person trying to operate a sailboat in the deep waters without any sight of land and without prior knowledge of what to do.

That means no understanding of basic computer operations. No concept of entry and response. No clue of open, new, create, save, and retrieve. No idea of how information gets onto the cyber highway. No notion of seeking information that is fingertips away. No sense of determining the validity of information. A sense of being lost while staring over the vast water.

For those of us with knowledge of modern technology, technology changes – and as technology changes, we must also change – a change that must involve unlearning the old way and learning the new.

Water is a metaphor for changing technology. Change is trying to navigate in the raging waters of a storm while hoping for the status quo of calm waters. Change is also the calm water going across my feet – it’s continuous, expected, and always new – never the same as currents keep water moving.

In today’s fast-paced technological world, learning begins with unlearning – abandoning the way one knows. Unlearning to let the new way lead the way. Forgetting what was to let the new lead the way. Yes, old habits are hard to break, plus we have a tendency to protect ourselves from outward self-criticism. Nonetheless, unlearning is more important today than ever.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. (Alvin Toffler, Future Shock, 1970)

Although a fast-paced technological world surrounds us, I am thankful for technology …. and I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 344

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I’m not even close to being a Star Wars fanatic, but I get to attend a Cincinnati premier of the new film.

OMG – The Moody Blues are going into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with The Cars, Bon Jovi, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Nina Simone, and Dire Straits. Congratulations to all!

Our handbell choir continues focusing on music for the busy holiday season. The next solo piece is The Huron Carol: a tune many of you will recognize. Click here to listen.

Until I saw this, I didn’t realize President Trump sang Christmas carols.

A refreshing thought. While watching the Army-Navy football game, I noticed that players don’t bring attention to themselves after a play.

Cheers to the professional golf’s decision to stop issuing penalty strokes based on information from the television audience.

For those enjoying the beach walks, I only have 1 0r 2 left.

I worry about what the Supreme Court will rule in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

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On one hand, Doug Jones (D) defeating Roy Moore (R) for the Alabama Senate seat gives hope to humanity. On the other hand, the fact that a high percentage of voters supported Moore makes my hope very tepid.

I applaud this line from this ABC News Editorial: A nation can have a healthy, functional democracy only if its citizens are willing to go beyond the interests of their tribe and work for the common good.

For many years on these pages I warned that the political climate was not good for times when one party controls Congress and the White House … and I believe Democrats would be doing the same thing if the roles were reversed.

It didn’t take much time for some Democrats to seek the resignation of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). But I ask this question: Would Democrats have done the same thing if Minnesota had a Republican governor?

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides an infographic comparing shopping at a retail store and a thrift store.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man with 3 kids going to make great father someday
Study finds controlling, possessive behavior most pure expression of love
Department of Labor response team seals off toxic workplace environment
Line of lizards winding out door outside National Geographic casting office
Frustrated wildfire spends hours stuck in L.A. traffic
Recording Academy reminds aging musicians to die before December 15th to be included in 2017 Grammy tributes

Interesting Reads
Views of gender differences
Debating USA’s role in the world
History of mince pies
The first Scrooge
Why dogs cock their heads
(Interactive) Compare your view on gender equality with others
(Photos) Wonderful images from space

To lead you into the weekend, it’s got to be the Moody Blues. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.