Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 266

Last week I wrote this: Numerous southern families support flying the Confederate Battle Flag because they have ancestors who fought under that flag. OK … so why isn’t the Nazi flag flown at the cemeteries for World War II German soldiers? I know that Nazi analogies are often in poor taste, my statement was by no means equating the Nazis to anything in the US Civil War. Flags are symbols, and my intention focused on the flags. I apologize to anyone offended by the question.

Statues of Confederate soldiers in public places are getting scrutinized and even defaced. To me, that’s absolutely absurd. Here’s an interesting Washington Post article about Confederate symbols.

Burning African-American churches? Hey South Carolina – you have a problem!

The recent court rulings offered more examples of Republicans proclaiming a return to the Constitution except when they want to change it. Meaning, the recent rulings have also provided many the opportunity to demonstrate that smart people can say and do stupid things – especially when pandering for votes.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (aka The Truth Teller) may be the King of Hyperbole. As the US Supreme Court went against his views twice in a short span, Cruz stated, Today is some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history. Meanwhile, he describes (in his book) fact-checking as yellow journalism. Here’s an article from USA Today.

Speaking of Texas, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the top law-enforcement official in the state, is encouraging clerks, magistrates, and other officials who object same-sex marriage to not issue the marriage license.

The New York Times did this outstanding 13-minute video about the story that led to the US Supreme Court ruling. (Thanks Lame)

Given some conservatives are squawking about Chief Justice Roberts, this read is about Roberts’ consistency.

In my opinion, and time will tell, the recent ruling says nothing or even implies that churches are required to perform a marriage ceremony involving LGBT. Some have, some will, and some won’t.

Gov. Chris Christie became the 14th Republican seeking the presidency. (I foresee at least 2 more.) He’s a good example of it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Yep – the importance of speaking with conviction can cause others to not notice what is said. No profile from The Onion … Yet!

President Obama announced the intent for Cuba and the USA to open respective embassies. The next step is up to Congress – Oh boy! Given the 2016 election, this could be interesting.

The economic situation in Greece is troubling, yet complex. The heart aches for the Greek people.

Congratulations Missy Copeland on her accomplishment … and cheers to the American Ballet Theater for the historic decision.

I enjoy Enya’s music. I stumbled across this pleasing video to one of her songs. For other Enya fans, enjoy The Memory of Trees (which is good waltz music).

Desserts is the theme for Act 7 of Meals: The Musical. One note of caution: Because they had their own act, beware of using “fruits” or any fruit as they had their own act. (EX) Blueberry Hill is not acceptable because the dessert is not identified; but Blueberry Pie or Blueberry Ice Cream would be acceptable. Curtain time is this Wednesday, 7:30 pm (Eastern US)

For those who will post the entire story on their blog (with their ending), the revised story (without an ending) is on the Challenge page to copy. The Dance Challenge date Sunday, July 12th, 9:30 pm (Eastern US). … Feel free to promote the challenge!

This is a holiday weekend in the US, so no Saturday post from me. Happy Fourth of July, America.

To lead you into The Onion, here’s their mass extinctions timetable.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Boss’s clout evaporates after he’s seen in shorts at company picnic
Study: U.S. wastes 2 million hours annually figuring out where tape roll begins
Man commits to new TV show just hours after getting out of 7-season series
Family enters crisis talks after discovering restaurant has 45-minute wait
Only predictor of happy marriage is if husband won wife big stuffed animal at amusement park

Interesting Reads
Slavery, states rights, civil rights, and a flag
A year as a nudist
How the turtle got its shell
Endangered places is America
Mushrooms and weight reduction
Yes, photos of a crow landing on an eagle

To send you into the weekend, here’s a touch of Motown from years gone by, Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Blogging Series

My post On the Blogging Blues (April 27, 2015) was not only well received, readers provided many worthwhile comments about related topics. While the post focused on the importance and types of blogging breaks as a way to prevent the blogging blues, I collects the comments, organized them into topics, then paraphrased the wording.

This is the first post featuring those comments – all about blogging. Future topics include Breaks & the Blues, Community, Posting & Frequency, and Writing, Thanks to everyone for your valuable contribution.

Topic: Blogging
Trying to visit and comment almost every day is important – but on really busy days, I give myself permission to delete the notification emails.

Finding the right ratio of posting to spending time on other blogs is difficult. Cutting back posts is a way to have the time to read others and stay connected.

Reducing posting frequency is a way to enjoy blogging and keep longevity – plus it gives time for other things in life.

Blogging is posting, replying to comments, and reading/commenting elsewhere.

Humans are creatures designed for learning. Whether researching to write or reading others work on blogs is a way to learn.

Finding the balance between managing your own blog and visiting others is difficult – but it’s also different for everyone.

Nothing about blogging should be forceful.

Blogging a hobby, not a career.

Etiquette is important in all human encounters – blogging included.

I blog because I love to write and interact with people all over the world.

Reading mindful posts fuels the mind.

One size doesn’t fit all.

Blogging should be fun and without stress.

Use your notification tools wisely.

Blogging etiquette is important, but most people don’t know what it is.

Keeping up with all the posts of the bloggers I follow is difficult.

Posting, replying to comments, and reading/commenting elsewhere is a high-energy commitment.

Somewhere we get the idea that blogging every day and having hundreds–nay thousands- of followers is virtuous.

You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.

Blogs fuel the need for meaningful contact. Visiting thoughtfully tended blogs energizes the mind.

I came for writing but stayed for friendships.

The positive experiences of blogging cause some to think twice before stopping.

On a Challenge

Regulars recall my first venture into fiction (here). The comments provided many helpful suggestions (which I’m incorporating in the rewrite) and various concerns with the ending. From this, I’m issuing a challenge to any and all participants to develop a new ending. See the information below.

Challenge Overview

  • Rewrite the story’s ending
  • Start after “The music ends.”
  • Your ending must be 75 words or less
  • A dance video or song doesn’t have to be included

aFaShortStoryChallengeOption A (by commenting)

  • At the designated date and time, I will repost the story (actually the revised version)
  • Readers can enter their ending as a comment
  • Take the badge to the right for your collection

Option B (by posting)

  • Copy/Paste the story (thus my permission)
  • Wait until I post the revised version on Challenge Day
  • Post the entire story on your blog with your ending
  • Embed the badge at the beginning of the story
  • Link to my revised post
  • Encourage others to participate
  • Extra Information below important

Extra Information

  • Posting date is Sunday, July 12th, 9:30 pm (Eastern US)
  • These instructions are also posted on the Challenge page
  • For Option B challengers, I will include the revised version (for copy/paste) on the Challenge page around July 5th

A Surprise for My Effort
The image below shocked me in multiple ways. 1) A reader took the time to do this … (I’m graciously honored) and then 2) I realized he based it on my words. I wanted to share this with you while publicly thanking Calvin for his time, efforts, and generosity.

post cards from a reader_v2

On Exploring Sagrada

It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time. (David Allan Coe, musician)

He who has seen one cathedral ten times has seen something; he who has seen ten cathedrals once has seen but little; and he who has spent half an hour in each of a hundred cathedrals has seen nothing at all. (Sinclair Lewis, novelist)

The haunting of history is ever-present in Barcelona. I see cities as organisms, as living creatures. To me, Madrid is a man and Barcelona is a woman. And it’s a woman who’s extremely vain. (Carlos Ruiz Zafon, novelist)

On inspection, Gaudi’s architecture isn’t whimsical at all. (P. J. O’Rourke, comedian)

In the Sagrada Familia, everything is providential. (Antoni Gaudi, architect)

Construction of Antoni Gaudi’s Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family, commonly known as Sagrada Familia, started in 1882. Gaudi died in 1926 with his project less than 25% complete. Although incomplete, Sagrada is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Enjoy the video that the current structure and computer animations of the projected construction.

For those desiring to see more, this second video is an outstanding 9-plus-minute video captured by a tourist, then set it to music.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 265

Contrary to my predictive statement last week, sources tell me Donald Trump (R-NY) is in the process of completing the necessary paperwork for his presidential candidacy … and his poll numbers are rising. The Bloviator-in-Chief is a sideshow attracting a certain type of voter. Fortunately, those voters are a minority. Unfortunately, The Bloviator takes votes away from more worthy candidates. Then again, maybe he will announce The Nincompoop as a running mate!

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) just entered the presidential race as the 13th candidate. Here’s his candidate profile from The Onion. I’m also happy that his announcement put this past Onion headline to rest: Bobby Jindal unsure he wants to put family through 2-month campaign.

The Supreme Court’s latest decision about the Affordable Care Act was predictable to me … and so has been the responses by the presidential hopefuls.

Numerous southern families support flying the Confederate Battle Flag because their ancestors fought under that flag. OK … so why isn’t the Nazi flag flown at the cemeteries for World War II German soldiers?

Although tropical storm Bill made the news, Anna did not. Here’s the list of storm names for 2015 (which includes a subtle, but interesting, Cincinnati connection): Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Erika, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Joaquin, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor, Wanda.

We recently attended a concert by a world-class handbell group. Their individual skills make their collective efforts shine. I was in awe with the fluidity of the fast runs … and Flight of the Bumblebee demonstrates my point. The upper-bell players (on the left) are holding two bells in each hand. Because each bell is at a different angle, each is individually rung by changing the hand position .. meaning the players are incredibly fast.

Act 6 of Meals: The Musical featuring alcoholic beverages to accompany the meal is complete. Although the number of songs was down, the crowd as a bit rowdy. For those wanting a head start on Act 7, see the Hear Ye page.

Unfortunately, this continues to amaze me: The number of bloggers who used to visit here, but they are no longer blogging.

Two announcements

  • An Explore post for your Saturday … this time – a place … but where? :)
  • Hoping to announce a challenge early next week

To lead you into The Onion, here’s their list of tips for managing your energy bill.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion (Combos welcome)
Study: Workers happiest when pretending to be working from home
Disney World forced to euthanize character that attacked visitor
Mom recommends previously-unheard-of form of transportation son could take to get home
Guest given air mattress that will slowly deflate throughout the night
FDA approves female-libido-enhancing man

Interesting Reads
A world without work
Positive and negatives of online education
Innovation districts
(Photo Gallery) The Deteriorating Side of Ellis Island (from 2014)
Platypus venom
(Interactive Timeline) What the census calls us over time

Here’s a 2-fer to send you into the week – a leftover from this Act 7 and a hit from the 80s. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Meals: The Musical – Act 7: Alcoholic Beverages

The Story
Meals: The Musical is an original aFa production is about an important aspect of daily life – eating.

Whether a snack, something on the run, a glorious sit-down feast, or something in between and regardless of the time of day, food is a life necessity. There are three aspects to a truly fantastic meal: the food, the occasion, and the company. We know Meals: The Musical is a festive occasion where friends gather to share wonderful music – thus the acts will focus on what the dining friends encounter.

MealsPlaybillProgram (Past Posts)
Act 1: Meals
Act 2: Fruit
Act 3: Side Dishes
Act 4: Meat
Act 5: Ingredients
Act 6: Non-alcoholic Drinks

Act 7: Alcoholic Drinks
Whether a refreshment, nourishment, or accompaniment, drinks are part of the meal. Not everyone likes alcoholic drinks, but we took care of them in Act 6. This act features alcoholic beverages, so all song titles must include an alcoholic beverage.

Production Note
To prevent browsers crashing from loading too many videos, please 1) include the song title and artist in your text, and 2) paste the URL as part of your last line (not a new line). The latter will provide a link, thus not embed the actual video … but I don’t mind unembedding, so apologies are not necessary.

Announcement
Regulars here know I like wine – especially red wine. The wine I refer with dinner primarily depends on the meal’s flavors. Ladies and gentlemen, aFa Productions presents The Fireballs singing their hit – Bottle of Wine.

On the Levels of Moving

Most readers have moved sometime in their life. No matter within a town or to a different town; across the state or to a different state; cross-country or to a different country – one thing for sure, moving is very stressful.

We moved over a year ago. Yes, it was only 6-7 miles (10 km), but it was after 27 years in the same house. Fortunately, we had a lot of lead time, and we took advantage of it – but moving is very stressful.

I had a lot of time to think while packing, which included reflecting about previous moves. Little did I realize that the thoughts would lead me to this post about establishing the following 6 Levels of Moving.

Level 1: The Car Move
Usually one’s first move. You don’t own much, so several suitcases in the trunk and boxes in the backseat suffice. If you’re lucky, you rent a smaller trailer for some larger items.

Level 2: The Beer-and-Pizza Move
You own more, but to save money, you contact friends to provide the labor, and probably rent a truck for the day. Given everyone’s youthful nature, it works, and you are more than willing to provide the food and drinks for the laborers.

Level 3: The Two-Men-and-a-Truck Move
Three things have happened since the previous move: the accumulation of more stuff, everyone is older, and friends have more family obligations … all leading to hiring movers. Two Men And A Truck is in my area, and the name says what you get. You do the packing, and the two mean are doing the lifting and carrying at each end of the move. On the downside, one may question the two men’s knowledge and reliability about moving. After all, how hard can moving be?

Level 4: Professional Movers
Time passes, everyone is older and with even more stuff – so it’s time to upgrade the moving experience. You contact various professional movers who visit to develop a quote for their services using a team of movers. They offer to pack, but as a money saver, you decide to do attack the time-consuming task. On moving day, boxes fill the home, but the team of movers do the carrying, carefully pack the truck, and unload at the new location.

Level 5: Professional Pack and Move
Recalling the amount of time and energy involved in packing, you’ve decided to spend the money to give the professional movers the packing responsibility. In general, a one-day pack followed by a one-day move … and it’s done! The movers can also unpack, after all, the task is negotiable. Those having experienced a corporate move may be familiar with this move.

Level 6: The Ultimate Move
Your older now and hopefully your last move. Minimal packing, minimal lifting, and only minimal unpacking because you sold most of your belonging. Suitcases into the trunk, boxes into the backseat and you are on your way to the new location to buy new furnishings. It’s interesting how much of life goes full circle.