On Knowledge and a Place

I’m guessing you don’t know this Tuscan town and it’s 13th Century church … but I know you know something important about it.
Vinci Church

Here’s a hint. Does this look familiar?

Vitruvian Man is a great hint.

Vitruvian Man is a great hint.

Leonardo di ser Piero (aka Leonardo da Vinci) was from Vinci, a small town located on top of a rolling hill surrounded by olive trees and grapevines not too far from Florence.

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Visiting Vinci wasn’t on our radar, but not only did my cousins suggest visiting (only about 40 minutes away) – so they took us on a Saturday. Interestingly (in August) my wife and I visited the da Vinci travelling exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center. (Fabulous) … and now to get additional reinforcement of his brilliance in his hometown. (Something we never imagined.)

The museum ticket (9 Euros) includes three different locations: two very close within the town and his birthplace (a short drive outside of town). The 22-minute hologram story at his birthplace grabbed and held my attention. Simply fabulous. In short, the man was off-the-charts brilliant … and much more than I ever realized!

Enjoy images of Vinci, which are surrounded by quotes from one of the great intellectuals ever to live.

“The knowledge of all things is possible.”

“All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions – yet, the greatest deception men suffer is from their own perceptions. Nature is the source of all true knowledge. She has her own logic, her own laws that she never breaks, and she has no effect without causes nor invention without necessity.”
Vinci Corridor

“The acquisition of knowledge is always of use to the intellect, because it may thus drive out useless things and retain the good.”
Vinci Old and Citrus

“Experience is the mother of all Knowledge. Wisdom is the daughter of experience.”
Vinci Street

“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets.”
Vinci Home

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply.”

“Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason.”

“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

“The processes of science are sure,~but there are regions where we cannot follow them. Our body is subject to heaven, and heaven is subject to the spirit. I speak not against the sacred books, for they are supreme truth.”

Leonardo da Vinci … an artist, inventor, painter, sculptor, architect, mathematician, writer, explainer, philosopher engineer, scientists, and one who studied to explain botany, human anatomy, aerodynamics, optics, hydraulics, and more … yet, near the end of his life said, “I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.”

On the Day of the Last

The last Trump-Clinton debate is later today. As a matter of fact, many are readying themselves to watch … especially the partisans. To my non-U.S. audience, excuse this lengthy post about US politics, so I understand if you switch to my previous post about Walktober, which you will probably find more interesting and satisfying.

I’ve enjoyed following politics for a long time. I liked conventions because of the good speeches. I watched debates out of curiosity and being informed to make a judgment. I started this blog in August 2008 around politics and sports. I’ve morphed since then, but politics is still in my gut – although I’ve been more silent this year than in the past.

The 2016 election is (unfortunately) different. I didn’t watch either convention. I didn’t watch any of the debates during the primaries of either party, nor any of the debates in the past few weeks. The list of why not was always longer than the list of why. Tonight isn’t any different because I’m going for the shutout.

One reason to not watch is simply because the chances of a candidate answering the question is (at best) remote. The moderator will ask a question, then the candidate figures out a way to segue from the question to the prepared talking point. (In my debate rules, the microphone would be turned off and the candidate would enter the Cones of Silence.

Candidates have been doing this for years, but that doesn’t mean we the people don’t deserve better. Because I’m tired of it, watching would be a waste of time – so, instead, I’ll probably spend my time writing a future post about my recent trip.

2016 is also interesting in other ways. It seems that Hillary Clinton was proclaimed the nominee-in-waiting many years ago. I wonder what the Democrats would have done if she didn’t seek the nomination? After all, I never got the impression they were grooming anyone.

Nonetheless, she is the nominee – she’s also smart and experienced. On the other hand, besides being a polarizing figure to many, I don’t trust her. Although the email issue is mainly an issue for her partisan opponents, it’s a non-issue for me … but, it is an example of why I don’t trust her. Deep down I sense that she means well, but the Clintons are who they are. (Note: Overall, I think Bill Clinton was a good president.)

Donald Trump is the Republican nominee. When he announced his candidacy way back when, I stated (and repeatedly stated) that he wouldn’t be the nominee. I admit missing that one, but I’m still amazed he did so, thus wonder, why have Americans lowered themselves to that standard?

Regardless of “knowing more about ISIS than the generals”, Donald Trump’s candidacy has never been about issues and never been about substance. The man lacks intellectual depth that a U.S. President requires. Several times he promised to be more presidential and talk issues. Each time he failed as he reverted back to his ways. That’s simply him being him.

His candidacy is based on fear and shallow promises. His based his candidacy on making fun of people as low-energy Jeb – let alone other unnecessary personal attacks on individuals and groups. His candidacy is based on false information, misconceptions, and misleading statements. His candidacy is based on saying anything – even contradictions of his own words – all in the name of exciting his base that gives him a free pass on most things he says simply because he isn’t Hillary Clinton.

Interestingly, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy really wasn’t a secret or a surprise – and she was very beatable. The Republicans countered by nominating:

  • A candidate who is finding it difficult to beat a beatable candidate.
  • A candidate who stoops low.
  • A candidate with pathetic moral fiber, yet flying under the banner of the party of family values.
  • A candidate who used his personality to effectively use the media to get the nomination, but one who now blames the media for his current troubles that he brought on himself.
  • A candidate who claiming the election is rigged. (For the record, states run the election … and most states have Republican governors, officials, and legislatures.)

Elections shouldn’t be about likability because the major question in 2016 (now more than ever) is who is most fit and capable of leading this country? Election 2016 much less about ideology. Likability aside,and given the choices, the answer is more than obvious. Whether one supported Mitt Romney in 2012 or not (and I didn’t), there was no question in my mind he was fit to serve.

Fortunately for me (and others), two alternatives exist in Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. The latter had no chance of my vote, but I listened to Johnson as I looked for an alternative. To me, he lacked substance during a time when I was looking for substance.

I’m having a difficult time understanding how so many people can support Donald Trump. The two main reasons (in my opinion) must be blind partisanship and a total disdain for her. The sheer numbers raises my concerns about my country much more than the concerns I have about each candidate.

The Arizona Republic (Phoenix newspaper) have never endorsed a Democratic presidential candidate in its 126 year history. This year their endorsement headline was the following: Endorsement: Hillary Clinton is the only choice to move America forward.

Because of their stance, the newspaper received many threats. So many that it wrote a second op-ed responding to the threats. This column is worth reading (and the endorsement is linked within it).

Under normal circumstances, I would leave my presidential spot on the ballot blank. I’ve done it before and am willing to do it again – but in 2016, the stakes seem too high for me. On Election Day 2016, Hillary Clinton will get my vote – but it is more of a vote against Donald Trump than it is for her. She is unquestionably better than the alternative.

Back to me watching the final debate. No, no, no … I’m still not watching because the odds of something changing my mind are between slim and none. Besides, I would rather watch this clip from Ellen.

On Walktober 2016

WalktoberRobinI always look forward to Robin’s Walktober celebration. Below are my past walks:

I had several ideas for 2016 – but then it hit me …. Let’s board a plane for one of the most beautiful and desirable walks in the world. Are you ready to join me in Cinque Terre, Italy!

Cinque Terre is a gorgeous short strip of very hilly terrain (some say rugged) along the amazing blue waters of the Ligurian Sea along Italy’s northwestern coast. The “Five Lands” are five small villages that are unique and outstanding: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Not only is this area an Italian National Park, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Although (three years ago) I have spent an afternoon in this visual wonderland, my wife and I were not only looking forward to visiting each village, but also anxious for the challenge of walking from Monterosso to Vernazza … so I decided to take my readers along to celebrate Walktober. Besides, some of the other paths between towns remain closed from damage suffered in a 2011 severe storm.

For us, we boarded a train to La Spezia where we purchased a Cinque Terre pass for the trails and the local trains … followed by the short ride to Monterosso, the most western village of the five.

Monterosso not only has the longest shoreline of the five, it also has the most beaches. Add the blue sky and the blue water … wow! … wait until you see how blue the sea on this walk!


The walkway out of town is obvious, so after a snack, “Good bye Monterosso”


… and discovered a special Home for Wayward Bloggers.

After a short walk and around the corner, we discovered another part of Monterosso that I didn’t know existed .. but we kept moving … after all, we didn’t know what’s ahead … Arrivederci Monterosso.

It wasn’t long thereafter that the terrain and the path changed. Oh crap … we have to go way up there? … and it was straight up with higher than normal steps.

The path is actually an ancient path used by people with mules and persons without a boat. The path can be narrow, steep, rocky, and high steps … so keep moving!

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That’s Monterosso (where we started) …. but no sign of Vernazza …

… yet people live up here to tend to their grapes, olives, and/or citrus.

Along the way, everyone is treated with spectacular views

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Finally, a glimpse our destination – Vernazza

… but the twists and turns caused Vernazza to play peek-a-boo to tease us …


… and Monterosso seems so far away …

Vernazza is getting closer!

What does up must come down – and on this day that means we enjoyed the long descent into Vernazza (while we watched those going in the opposite direction who were wondering if the climb would ever end and what lies ahead).


At the end, I look back to see the start of those who walk in the opposite direction.

To celebrate the journey, my wife chose a gelato treat … of which she says was the best gelato of the entire vacation.

… then let’s sit on the rocks by the water.

After walking and relaxing in Vernazza, we let the train take us to the next town – Corniglia (possibly my favorite village)- which involved 382 steps up to the town from the station. Then we trained to Manarola for dinner, and then Riomaggiore with the sun already below the horizon- so on this day, we visited all five villages of this beautiful part of the world.

If you enjoy fall walks, join Robin and others at her post. All you have to do is click here.

On a Few Bits Upon Return

Greetings readers!

My wife and I returned a week ago from vacation, so I thought it was time to say hello to fellow bloggers. Below are a few tidbits that are on my mind.

I know … some of you are eager to know where we went, so here’s the scoop. We spent 2 ½ weeks in Tuscany on a trip that combined vacation time for the two of us and time with my family (an aunt and 4 first cousins). More on that trip over time.

Life in the rolling hills of Tuscany with the olives and grapes is a difficult task, but we were willing to accept the challenge.


On this trip I almost made a connection with Debra, the Australian blogger who vacations in Bagni di Lucca. (One of my favorite places) Maybe next time! … but at least we talked on the phone.

We definitely don’t enjoy journeys involving three flights, but given our destination, we had no choice … Cincinnati to Toronto to Munich to Pisa … .and the reverse on return.

I’m looking forward to returning to my volunteer efforts with English Second Language students (adults). Before leaving I only had one class with them, so I’m anxious to help and get to know more good people from around the world.

I’m still at the golf course, but hours are less (and that’s OK). Because of work, I haven’t been volunteering at ballroom dancing with Down Syndrome adults. Hopefully, that trend won’t continue.

Thanks to DVR, we used last week to get up-to-date with Dancing With the Stars.

The handbell choir played last Sunday. Because my wife and I haven’t practiced in three weeks, we had a chance to listen. Nice piece … hopefully I can find a video in time.

This may have been the case three years ago when I visited, but I didn’t notice – but Italians now have a recycling program. Whew … is it ever different than what we do. At least they are trying something.

Being away from the election madness was more than wonderful. No news – no talking heads – no political gibberish – pure silence. In one location we only had Italian television, so we didn’t watch anything. Two of my cousins had satellite television that offered English stations (and I assuming CNN International) – but we resisted the urge. The day after the debate I looked at the headlines in Politico, but didn’t read any article because the headlines told me everything I wanted to know.

The first Republican debate was many months ago. I didn’t watch any of them … I didn’t watch any of the Democratic debates … and I have continued my pattern during the general election by not viewing any of the 3 to date.

Italians were very interested in our thoughts. I frequently answered this way: Non mi fido di lei, ma lui è un matto pigliacchioI don’t trust her but he is a mad clown. They also seem very confused about how Donald Trump can even have a chance.

Meanwhile, cheers to the Dutch team that came up with this one.

On a Few Bits Before …

Greetings everyone. I’m still present, but just not writing and visiting much. Out of respect to the many good people who visit my little corner of the world, I wanted to check-in.

I know my presence has been (at best) faint, but I continue to struggle with the enthusiasm necessary to post and visit. However, in my tradition, it’s also time for a Fall Break.


The current political climate in the US is pathetic (and that’s being kind). Besides our election process being too damn long and too expensive, I’m sick of it, therefore have to get a few things off my chest.

I like this recent quote from columnist David Brooks that describes American voters.

Politics is catching up to social reality. The crucial social divide today is between those who feel the core trends of the global, information-age economy as tailwinds at their backs and those who feel them as headwinds in their face.

David Axelrod’s comment about Hillary Clinton is right on: “Antibiotics can take care of pneumonia. What’s the cure for an unhealthy penchant for privacy that repeatedly creates unnecessary problems?”

Anyone who doubts the existence of a right-wing conspiracy against Mrs. Clinton is either clueless or part of the conspiracy. Nonetheless, why she (and her campaign) make choices that feed the conspiracy is beyond me!

Here’s another thing that causes me to slap my forehead. Why isn’t Mrs. Clinton and the Democratic Party making issue of the lack of action by the Republican-led Senate regarding the Supreme Court vacancy?

1968 was the first US presidential election that I closely followed … and I have engaged in them ever since. During that time, the current candidates are the 18th and 19th different candidates nominated by the two dominant parties. (Repeats counted once). I would unquestionably vote for any of the previous 17 candidates over Donald Trump. Yep … Nixon, Humphrey, McGovern, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Mondale, Bush (HW), Dukakis, Clinton, Dole, Bush(W), Gore, Kerry, Obama, McCain, and Romney would get my vote before The Bloviator.

Enough said.

To lead us into my upcoming absence, here a song from the greatest band not (for whatever strange reason) in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Hope all is well with you, and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 313

On August 28, 2008, my first post appeared on these pages. Eight years later,

  • 1,853 posts
  • 266,745 visits
  • 69,786 comments appear, but probably half are mine because I believe hosts should interact with visitors
  • Proudly, I covered a wide-range of topics.

My biggest pride lies in the fact how I reciprocated visits with so many bloggers. I’ve outlasted many bloggers, while others chose to no-longer visit. Stats here have been spiraling downward for some time, but my lack of visiting others in recent months is evident.

Many thanks to all the visitors here, but especially to the long-time visitors who have stuck with me for many years and took time to comment. Although I’m still in the process of change, time will tell what is ahead for these pages. However, I’m not done yet!

My golf league ended with a thud. After leading the first 4 weeks of the third 5-week mini-season of the year, I didn’t get it done on the last week. To make matters worse, a bizarre rule kept me out of the final 4 playoffs for the season. I took the high road by not complaining, but I foresee a rule change in the future that would prevent a situation like this in the future.

In this election, I think the partisans are making a big mistake with the true independents. I’ve noticed many partisans spending more time trying to convince someone not to vote for the other candidate (as opposed to reasons to vote for their candidates). What the partisans don’t realize is that their approach encourages contrarians like me to go in the opposite direction of their desires.

This election is ridiculous in many ways, mainly the lack of discussion about important issues.

Earlier this week I listened to an interview with Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein. Yes, I didn’t make it to the end of the interview.

To me, one thing scarier than Donald Trump is the number of people who cheer when he says something totally stupid. However, I realize that this is not true for all of his supporters.

Because of the toxic political climate with the USA, I will continue to hope that the November election yields divided government – that is, one party does not control the White House and both chambers of Congress.

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Mistakes made by Donald Trump
All events in Rio when the US didn’t win the gold
Approaching hurricane season
Forming ISIS
Ryan Lochte

To let you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion gives the pros and cons of tiny houses.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Gifted, Passionate Student Really Stretching Limits Of School’s Resources
Olympic swimmer admits the Rio pool much wetter than expected
Humanity Hoping It Only Has To Put Up With Few More Millennia Of This Shit
Scientists Confirm First Case Of Zika Transmission From Article To Reader
School Of The Arts Aims To Transform Boys And Girls Into Insufferable Young Men And Women

Interesting Reads
France vs. Jihadist
Unique sperm delivery
How we see colors in nature
Neutrinos and the Big Bang
A short history of solar cells
(Photos) Insight Astronomy contest winners

Although the weekend is already upon us, I still have to end this post with a song. Interestingly, this blog shares a birthday with one of my long-time favorites. Hope all is well with you, and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 312

Earlier this week we sent to the theater to see Star Trek Beyond. My thoughts include the following:

  • Entertaining
  • Interesting story
  • As science fiction, certain events hard to believe
  • Thumbs up to the various tributes to the original stars
  • Loved the animated images at the end

HGTV fans know the Property Brothers are very popular – but I had no idea that Fixer Upper has twice as many viewers as Drew and Jonathan.

The beginning of the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is a few weeks away. Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee has a way of demonstrating it is a bunch of egotistical buffoons.

Baseball’s trading deadline is approaching, so I have a trade suggestion for my Cincinnati Reds: trade management and ownership for a dozen fungo bats, 100 new baseballs, 50 used rosin bags, and a box of rocks to be determined later.

Daal @ Happiness Between Tails invited me to do a guest post about ballroom dancing. I invite readers here to visit the post. Daal, thanks for asking. Here’s the post.

I have a family obligation this coming week, so I won’t be posting – and I question if I will have any presence elsewhere.

No Explore post this weekend.

I’ve never been a fan of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), so count me in as one in the good-riddance camp. Meanwhile, this incident works against the party nominee.

Hillary Clinton’s selection of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) was a predictable, safe pick. On the other hand, I’m not sure how much it appeases the progressive wing of the Democratic party. He has impressive credentials, but doesn’t strike me as the attack-dog type and he is a bit dull.

This comment makes sense to me: When someone makes a choice based on the lesser of two evils, they still select evil.

I finally got around to watch the CNN Town Hall event with the Libertarian presidential slate: Gary Johnson and Bill Weld … It bored me and I think they missed a golden opportunity to get people’s attention.

I like good political speeches – actually in either party. However, the political climate of recent years has worn thin on my enthusiasm for a good speech … so I didn’t watch the Democratic convention, but I did see several minutes of President Obama’s speech because my wife was watching.

I see conventions as a 4-day infomercial to inspire the partisans – and fortunately is great for the fact checkers because politicians and their parties frequently are inaccurate. Because the partisans are the target, the audience doesn’t care.

With a variety of email scandals currently on the table, it’s interesting that Republicans continue to talk about Russians hacking Clinton’s private servers, whereas the FBI report stated “no evidence” of a successful intrusion since 2009 but that intrusion was “possible”.

Research shows that 92.683% of problems today are directly linked to Presidents Roosevelt (FDR), Clinton, and Obama.

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week

  • Russia’s state sponsored doping program for athletes
  • Sen. Ted Cruz not endorsing Donald Trump
  • Donald Trump reaching out to Russian hackers
  • The way people dress at Wal-Mart
  • The dismal season of the Cincinnati Reds

Bonus Coverage of the Democratic Convention by The Onion

  • Supporters Aggravated Bernie Sanders Didn’t Use DNC Speech To Get Voters To Act Against Their Own Self-Interest
  • Convention Crowd Really Hoping Bill Clinton Breaks Tension With Joke About How Terrible He Looks
  • Lone Superdelegate Voting For Martin O’Malley Feels Like Total F*#&ing Idiot
  • Depressed, Butter-Covered Tom Vilsack Enters Sixth Day Of Corn Bender After Losing VP Spot
  • Area Man Responds, “That makes sense” after being told the crowd isn’t chanting “Four more ears.”
  • Cannon Overshoots Tim Kaine Across Wells Fargo Center
  • Clinton Campaign Thanks Volunteers For Killing Millions Of Gnats In Hillary’s Bus
  • Biden Chokes Up While Describing Hardworking Americans Who Can Only Afford Shitty Ditch Weed

To let you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers these tips for throwing the perfect bachelorette party.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man Checks To Make Sure No One Home Before Recording Song Into Laptop
Determinist Insurance Company Insists All Conditions Are Preexisting
Aquatic Turtle Discovers Limits Of Tank For 43,000th Time
Ellis Island Visitor Honored To Finally See the Location Where His Grandfather Was Deloused
Man Entirely Different Misogynist Online Than In Real Life

Interesting Reads
Mandatory education for adults
The evolution of turtle shells
History of clear sodas
The effect of full-time work on the brain
Life and quantum physics
(Photos) Soviet relics

To send you into the weekend, here’s a song from 1983. I didn’t high on the charts, but I like it. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.