On Blog Break May 2018

It’s time for my seasonal blog break. I’m anticipating 3-6 weeks. During that time, I expect a blend of absence and occasional appearances. Before I go, a few random thoughts in the Opinions in the Shorts style.

During my absence, I encourage readers to visit a blog you may not know. You have my right sidebar here for starters and the Blogroll page on the tabs. Tell them I sent you.

ArtWorks announced that Fiona, Cincinnati’s darling hippo, is going to have her own mural. They are also letting the public vote on the design. See the choices here – and yes – you can vote!

For those interested in odd records, this link is about 20 Guinness World Records tied to Cincinnati.

Cheers to the Costco Optical Department for continuing to provide great value for those needing corrective eyewear.

I’m enjoying the hype for the upcoming royal wedding – especially the reports from England about the people and the places. I wonder how much training the bride has done about royal protocol.

Faith Saile did this great report on CBS News comparing American English and British English. It’s worth the 2+ minutes.

Given the hubbub about the Iran nuclear deal, I enjoyed this article to brings issues to light.

Regarding the possibility of the US-North Korea summit, instead of meeting in Singapore, I favor a game of cornhole at the DMZ border. A target on each side of the border is perfect!

Yes – there is a possibility of Donald Trump winning re-election in 2020. I’m raising the possibility from 15% to 35%.

Washington Post’s conservative columnist George Will has never been a President Trump fan – I would say he is more of an antagonist. In this recent column about Vice President Mike Pence, Mr. Will’s closing paragraph was priceless.

There will be negligible legislating by the next Congress, so ballots cast this November will be most important as validations or repudiations of the harmonizing voices of Trump, Pence, Arpaio and the like. Trump is what he is, a floundering, inarticulate jumble of gnawing insecurities and not-at-all compensating vanities, which is pathetic. Pence is what he has chosen to be, which is horrifying.

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Here are a few leftover peels from The Onion I have lying around.
Fitbit releases new tracking collar that gets tighter every second you are inactive
Napkinless man with grease-covered fingers realizes he’s trapped in a prison of his own creation
Grandma getting to point she looks like every other grandma
Alcoholic parent easy to shop for
Scientists create artificial placenta that tastes just as delicious as real one
Breakfast in bed served to mom who just eaten out

Interesting Reads
The early days of Israel
The adaptive jaguar
Can Artificial Intelligence doom humans?
Sacred spaces and the 21st century
The dominant lens company
(Pictures) The neon blue tide

To send you into my blog break, enjoy this short song from the electric sounds of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Remember to visit other blogs on my list! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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On Beach Walk: No. 25

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

I think of my mother. How difficult it must have been to come to America with a 3-month old, a husband, and not knowing the language. She integrated into small-town America life, but she was fortunate to have other Italian families in the town and area.

I think about my mother as her and I returned to Italy for 6-8 months. It was her first trip back to see her mother, father, three sisters, and a brother. I was five years old, arriving knowing primarily English, yet returning only knowing Italian. Oh how the young mind absorbs language.

I think our return six years later. This time our entire family of four. But I didn’t realize until many years later that the passing of my grandfather initiated the summertime journey that gave me my first plane ride.

I think about my mother receiving a letter that my grandmother died. How lonely of a feeling that must have been, yet I recall not really knowing what to tell her.

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I think about my mother displaying kindness and acceptance from the first day she met the one who would eventually became my wife … and that would never change – and my wife still remembers her first exposure to a festive meal involving homemade ravioli as a side dish … (not the main course).

I think about my mother returning to Italy to see her sisters a few more times – but without me. I was older – either in college or working.

I think about my mother battling cancer for three years – first a breast, then the liver. She never wanted the rounds of chemo and radiation – but she took it all.

I think about the phone call I received from my mother sometime during that three-year battle. She was in Florida, I in Ohio – Crying, she said “I love you.” … words that were not commonly spoken in our house.

I think about various events around the day of her passing – it’s timing with the start of a new school year – the words I spoke at her funeral (which I posted here as in several parts).

I think about my mother smiling on my return to Italy in 2013 – a trip when I visited my mother’s only surviving sister – my aunt that I had seen in 48+ years. (Posted here)

I think about my mother as I passed her family’s home – the apartment where I spent 6-8 months – a building that is now abandoned, but awaiting a new life. (Posted here)

I think about my mother dying young – a month shy of her 59th birthday – and to think my life has surpassed hers by six years. She would be 90 this September.

Today is Mother’s Day – but I wrote this post after a beach walk because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. You never heard this song, but you would have loved it.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 362

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Many thanks for the kind words about my writing in the latest beach walk (#24). I plan another beach walk to go up Sunday night (Eastern US).

The last handbell choir rehearsal of the season was earlier this week. After playing for a service this weekend, we break until August.

Our last ushering assignment of the season at the Playhouse was also this week. Murder For Two is a unique, enjoyable who-dunnit play with two actors: one playing the detective and the other all the suspects. Definitely not serious, it is very musical and a bit of Vaudeville. The actors were great, but it simply wasn’t my style.

As technology changes, devices also change or even replaced. The Museum of Endangered Sounds is an online place attempting to store replaced sounds. It’s a fun place to visit, so I’ll put the link in the Interesting Reads list.

My Cincinnati Reds were the first baseball team to lose 20 games this season. I wonder which will happen first: The last team to lose 20 or the Reds to win 20. The race is on!

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To reinforce a statement I made last week about Trump-Clinton-Obama, keep in mind that President Trump needs a villain in his messaging – a boogie man. As long as they continue to fill that role, he will continue to campaign against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Ohio had a primary election earlier this week. It’s sad that so few voters turn out for non-presidential year elections … and Ohio had primary races for governor and senator!

2016 was a presidential election year. In my county, 56,372 people voted in the primary – but 100,859 voted in the November general election. Meanwhile, 25,100 voted in this week’s primary.

My county is so Republican that Bozo the Clown could win an election if he was designed Republican on the ballot. However, I found this interesting: of the 139,110 registered voters, 8.3% are Democrats, 33.72% Republican, and 57.93% are Nonpartisan. On the other hand, in this county, are number of registered Nonpartisans must vote Republican – which also means that are NINOs – Nonpartisan in Name Only.

FYI: Individual states determine voter registration rolls. For primaries, Ohioans register as Democratic, Republican, Green, or Nonpartisan on Election Day. Nonpartisans can’t participate in party primaries, therefore receive ballots with containing on Issues for voting. (My ballot only had two issues on it, and no people.)

Advice for Democrats – Before the fall election, Leader Pelosi (D-CA) should announce that if the Dems gain control of the House in 2018, she will not seek or accept the Speaker’s chair.

Cheers to Saturday Night Live for last week’s outstanding skit that included many of the characters in President Trump’s news circle. For those that missed it, click here.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for treating bed bug infestation.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Amazon fires warehouse worker who took unauthorized breath
Construction crew arguing over who gets to use the fun tools
Kroger recalls 35,000 pounds of ground beef that may contain CEO
50,000 chicken breasts recalled after leaving factory without getting a little kiss goodbye
One-adventurous salmon can’t believe she ended up moving back to birthplace, having a bunch of kids

Interesting Reads
A perspective about infrastructure
Bulls, DNA, and beef
Baghdad: the new Partytown
Picasso, creativity, and genius
Why analog still exists despite digital
(Interactive) Museum of Endangered Sounds
(Photos) Awesome images of a stormy sky

To send you into the weekend, enjoy this classic by Cat Stevens. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Origin: A Book Review

I’m not an avid reader of fiction, but after watching two interviews on his book promotion tour, I was interested. Knowing my interest in the interchange between science and religion, my wife (who also saw the interviews) returned from Costco with a copy of Origin by Dan Brown.

For the record, I’ve have not read any of Dan Brown’s other books, so I am not going down the rabbit hole of comparing Origin to any of the others.

Origin is a tale involving science and religion revolving around two fundamental questions that humans have thought about for many years: Where do we came from? Where are we going?

Professor Robert Langdon, a character in other Brown novels returns, As an invited guest, he is attending an event where a former student, well-known futurist and anti-religion atheist, Edmund Kirsch is to announce a major finding that (according to him) will disrupt the foundation of world religions.

Most of the story takes place in three different Spanish cities: Bilbao, Madrid, and Barcelona – with a small portion in Budapest, Hungary. Having been to Barcelona, I greatly enjoyed Brown’s use of La Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera (Casa Mila). These both unique structures from famed architect Antoni Gaudi are local treasures. We also visited the Abbey at Montserrat outside of Barcelona.

The fast-paced story held my attention. Given the different locations and the story’s short time frame, Brown dedicates each chapter (which are short) to a specific setting with different characters. This format indicates of simultaneous events.

Brown combines adventure, history, present-day thoughts, religion, a royal family, Artificial Intelligence, and real-life settings to engage readers in the storyline. Being curious, I researched some of the organizations and places in Origin – and yes – they are legit.

There is enough science within Origin to engage readers – but not enough to require a science background. The religion side is small, while the science-religion interrelationship is (at best) shallow. As with any topic, generalizations provide the broad thought, but that can also lead to misconceptions. One incident caused me to cringe, but (at the time of this writing) I can’t find it.

Whereas Origin creates an atmosphere for discussions on the creation topic for readers, some consider Origin to be another God vs Science situation where one must make a choice. The actual wider range of thoughts is not part of this novel – which also reinforces the choice notion. I also note that the religious conservatives in this story do not seem to promote the same type of creationism as the Young Earth Creationists and organizations as Answers in Genesis and their Creation Museum.

Whereas some may take Brown is publicizing an anti-religion view – and possibly his – I did not take his text that way. Professor Langdon’s final conversation with a priest shines light on those who see how religion and science do coexist.

Origin centers around Edmund Kirsch’s big announcement. I’m not going to give it away, but I will state that it’s not what I expected – and it is worth pondering.

In closing, I enjoyed Origin and recommend it. I found it to be easy and engaging reading. Although it is based on many truths, the story is still fiction – but the two key questions are worth thinking about: Where do we came from? Where are we going?

Enjoy a few pictures of La Segrada Familia, La Pedrera, and Montserrat.

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On Beach Walk: 24

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

As an early riser, I wanted to start today with a morning beach walk all by myself to see the sunrise with the sand and water touching my feet. A different start to the day, but the day is special – February 17th – my birthday.

Natural biorhythms awakened me 30 minutes ahead of the sun’s appearance. I looked out the window to the disappointment of a light fog – but I still went to the beach because it was my day.

Down nine flights of stairs, through the lobby, and across the sand straight to the water’s edge. Looking left then right, the lit pre-dawn sky allowed me to notice the beach was all mine. Nobody in sight. Birds weren’t even in the sky.

 

I walked to the east with an eye on the horizon for the approaching event with the calm water rolling across my feet. I ponder about my life – people, places, events, highs and lows – all are thoughts worthy of separate walks.

A small wave ahead of me washes a small crab toward the shore. I see it fighting to return to the sea – and then the backwash helps deliver its wish and not for me to see again.

Looking ahead I note a Great Blue Heron as joined me and stands alone staring across the water. Probably hoping for a morning meal, or at least waiting for a fisherman to arrive.

It’s time – the sun starts rising – but the clouds block its appearance – so I continue walking to the east until I see the sun.

 

The seagulls are now soaring in the sky above the water – but I haven’t seen any sandpipers, pelicans, or my favorites – the frantic sanderlings.

I look ahead – there it is – the sun appearing out of a cloud. My day has started! I enjoy the moment, smile, and then reverse course.

 

People are now in sight. I encounter my first person of my day. She smiled and said “Good Morning” as we pass.

A flock of seagulls are now gathered on the beach. Without flying away, the squawk as I pass as if they were singing “Happy Birthday” to me. I smiled, and then they immediately stopped.

The heron still stands and stares – but this may be may favorite picture of our time on the coast.

 

A good way to start my day – and already over 4000 steps – but the rest of the day is unknown. After all, that’s what life is.

No matter the time of day or the day of the week, walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 361

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A string of warm weather has finally arrived in Cincinnati. Meanwhile, I lost the color I gained from 6-weeks in Alabama (mid-January through February).

Golf league season is underway. Fortunately, the weather was great … and given my 1-day preparation, I did OK.

The new season of Dancing With the Stars has started. Having all athletes competing is interesting, but a big thumbs down on the 4-week format.

Last weekend we saw Treasure Island as a play. Very enjoyable.

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A friend ask this question: Why to Trump supporters blindly accept what he says and does? To me, the answer is obvious – His supporters are willing to accept anything and everything about Donald Trump because he is not Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama … and this also explains why Republicans continue to campaign against Clinton and Obama.

Politics and citizens are spending too much time pointing fingers at the opposition – as opposed to taking ownership of their role in the problem and the solution.

Comedian Michelle Wolf headlined the 2018 White House Correspondents Dinner. In my opinion, she had some good jokes, but also crossed the line.

Regardless of the person holding the office, I can’t imagine everything that a US President has to do. Journalist John Dickerson offers an interesting look at the duties and expectations of the one occupying the Oval Office.

Pew Research released an interesting study about what Americans see as ideals and their perception of reality around those ideals.

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

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Nutritionists reveals human with proper diet should not be defecating
Stressed lab rat breaking out in human ears (Image explains)
3-year old pretending stuffed animals having big fight about accidental pregnancy
Tornado creeped out by man who keeps following it in truck and filming it
E. coli ready to treat itself to some beef after weeks of nothing but salad

Interesting Reads
A unique language
Shifting sands
A view of biodefense
The last man who knew everything
Early cosmos activity 
A look at the Heller decision regarding guns
(Photos) A visit to Socotra

To send you into the weekend, enjoy one of my favorites by Harry Chapin. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Carbon

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Carbon – from Latin: carbo “coal”

Carbon – symbol C, atomic number 6 on the Periodic Table (group 14) because each carbon atom contains 6 protons

Carbon – each atom with 6 protons, but varying number of neutrons to form different isotopes, such as carbon-12 being almost 99% of the Earth’s carbon, and carbon-14, another naturally occurring form whose presence is used to determine ages (carbon dating)

Carbon – the 4th most abundant element in the universe by mass (after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen), but only the 15th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust

Carbon – whose density is slightly twice more than water, so it sinks

Carbon – which is 40 times more abundant in Earth’s water that in its atmosphere

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Carbon – whose different physical forms are best known as charcoal, graphite, and diamond … each with different properties (from transparent to opaque, from hard to soft, from conductor to a resistor), thus different uses

Carbon as graphite, used in pencils (when combined with clay), in nuclear reactors to moderate the reaction in the reactor … plus is used in electric motors, dry batteries, electroplating, and manufacturing glass

Carbon as diamonds – a girl’s best friend – thus a story in itself

Carbon as the black pigment in printing ink, artist’s oil paint and watercolors, carbon paper, automotive finishes, India ink and laser printer toner – thus was also one of the first pigments for tattoos

Carbon, in the form of activated charcoal, – used as an absorbent and absorbent in filter material in gas masks, water purification, kitchen hoods, and in medicine to absorb odors, impurities, toxins, poisons, or gases

Carbon – with 4 available outer electrons to make covalent (sharing) chemical bonds with other atoms

Carbon – whose atom’s electron-sharing capability allows it for form around ten million different chemical compounds

Carbon – as a member of the vital carbon cycle moves from organism to organism and from life to nonlife

Carbon – whose cycle involves all life forms, thus is important in processes as cell respiration, photosynthesis, biosynthesis (life processes making new molecules), decay (decomposition), and combustion – plus is passed from one organism to another by eating

Carbon – which combines with oxygen and hydrogen to make carbohydrates (including sugars), proteins, fats, and alcohol – then add nitrogen (and sometimes sulfur) to make DNA, RNA, antibiotics, amino acids, and more

Carbon – the foundation of cellulose, an important carbohydrate for plants – thus an important component in cotton, hemp, and numerous fabrics (natural and synthetic) .. plus animal products as wool,, cashmere, silk, and leather

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Carbon – the foundation for organic chemistry, thus the chemical basis of all known life

Carbon – the substance forming the primary ingredient in coal

Carbon – as danger when inhaling coal dust or soot in large quantities (as in Black Lung Disease)

Carbon – which unites with hydrogens to make hydrocarbons as plastics, refrigerants, solvents lubricants, paraffin, and fossil fuels such as petroleum, methane, butane, propane, octane, kerosene, natural gas (a mixture), and others.

Carbon – whose combination with silicon, tungsten, boron, or titanium, form carbides – which are among the hardest known materials, and are used as abrasives in cutting and grinding tools.

Carbon – used as a filler in rubber products such as tires and in plastics

Carbon – with one of the highest melting points plays a role in the high temperatures of manufacturing steel

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Carbon – Its abundance in the Sun, stars, comets, asteroids, and other atmospheres stimulates our wonder if life exists elsewhere

Carbon – formed within the core of stars by fusing atoms of helium and hydrogen

Carbon – scattered in the universe as space dust from supernova explosions

 

Note: The reader may not remember this, but 3-5 years ago Jim Wheeler suggested I do a post about carbon. I immediately knew Jim’s idea was a great one, and started drafting. For a variety of reasons, the draft sat for a long time, but it remained in my eyesight. Not long ago I decided to make the post a reality. Jim, thanks for the suggestion – and this post is for you.