On a Beach Walk: No. 46 (Heart)

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

Today I think about the heart, that 11 ounce (310 g) fist-sized hollow muscular organ whose sounds we associate with life. The heart whose sounds debatably marks the beginning of life, yet unquestionably noting the end.

The heart whose steady sounds are as regular as the rhythm of the waves that come ashore. The heart whose EKG charts of peaks and valleys I see in the waterline formed ahead of me on the beach as I walk.

The steady sounds of my feet striking the sand with each stride creates a steady bass drum beat that resembles my heart steadily pumping waves of blood – but I think the sea must have its own heart pumping a steady rhythm of waves coming ashore.

The heart – that symbol for behavioral standards as empathy, appreciation, enthusiasm, and love.

The heart – whose action descriptors include aches, breaks, explodes, touches, and hardens.

The heart – that symbol showing its power in numerous idioms as have a heart, pour out your heart, heart of a lion, heart-to-heart talks, a heart of gold, wearing their heart on their sleeve, a warrior’s heart, and a heart of stone – a hardened heart.

The heart can be young, untamed, lonely, broken, hungry, crossed, and mended – yet have a mind of its own.

Thoughts of heart-and-soul touches us deep within – but its Cupid who delivers the greatest heart of them all – love -love with the heart being the psychological center of a relationship. Yes, the heart – that source of tears of joy – tears of hurt – tears of pride – tears of endearment – tears of certain moments of beauty and sentimentality.

While the heart also delivers passions, blessings, prayers, hope, and forgiveness; the heart is about grace and peace of mind.

The heart shares, listens, consoles, and gives genuine kindness. The heart promises and trusts while also having a sense of justice.

Now I wonder – Is there a more powerful symbol than the heart? Is the heart our soul? Something to think about – but perhaps on another day. Thinking about the heart today delivers a smile because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 402

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Oh my my – After 51 years as a franchise, the St. Louis Blues are Stanley Cup. What an improbable and incredible run they had since January. For me, a Blues fan for 51 years, I’m stunned and elated. I loved this tribute column in a St. Louis paper.

Congratulations to tennis pro Rafael Nadal for winning the French Open for an unbelievable 12th time. Cheers to golfer Rory McElroy for winning the Canadian Open – his sixth national open win.

I think we lost many images from our recent cruise. However, I’m confident that I will have enough for a series of posts.

Hoping for a time for the next act for the Weekend Entertainment Series. Next act will be Elton John – tentatively set for Saturday, 22 June at 1:00 AM (Eastern US)

Has anyone seen Rocketman – the Elton movie?

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A citizen’s group in Ohio is considering a ballot initiative to close the gun-show loophole for gun sales without a background check. It will be interesting to see if the Republican legislature flinches.

Shortly after Joe Biden (D-DE) announced his 2020 candidacy in early April I had a list I called Biden’s Dilemma. I’m amused how much they have played out over the past two months.

President Trump recently announced a new military sale/deal with Poland that is huge and fantastic. I believe Poland is in the list of Eastern European countries with leadership leaning toward Russia.

If Fake News is not enough, at least now we have Fake Polls.

To lead you into this week’s satirical headlines, The Onion provides a pros and cons list regarding impeachment.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Bored 4-year-old mixes things up by watching movie she’s only seen 97 times
Area pedestrian obsessed with crossing the street
Child promised he can go right back to video game after giving dying Grandfather one last hug
Panic rapidly setting in as man realizes he has no plan for ripe avocado
Local teen invents masturbation

Interesting Reads

Real news about fake news
Building to last
Biggest disaster in music history
Robotic farmers?
Technology and service delivery
(Graphic) Retirement plan participation rate
(Photos) Beautiful Buddahist temples

To send you into the weekend, here’s another classic song I enjoy in the winter at the Flora Bama). In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Reminiscing

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For those desiring applicable background music while reading, just click the video.

 

Sometime during the first half of my teaching career, I recall a conversation at the lunch table when another teacher asked about the best years of life. Some answered about having young children. I noticed a puzzled look of one lady (with 2 boys) who said, “You are crazy. The best years were in college.!” Then I (with no kids) turned for a high-five. Her answer didn’t surprise me because she was a huge college sports fan – a loyal follower of her Purdue Boilermakers.

My time at Bowling Green State University on the flatlands of northwest Ohio forged many of my best friendships. Those days began in September 1971, and I know if I need them today, my fellow Falcon friends would be there for me.

My first college roommate (Steve) and I now live 850 miles (1368 km) apart. We were friends throughout our college days, best man at the other’s wedding, and even collaborate on this blog (using his photos).

One day this past December, Steve sent me several texts with images. He said he was going through his files (deleting and filing) and wondered if I wanted them. It stirred memories that made me smile, which established the reason for a blog post.

 

First all, look at that hair!

This had to be fall of our sophomore year (1972, 19 years old). Steve was either still a journalism major at the time or was taking a photography class (an important hobby to him then and now). He asked me if I could be the subject of a collage he had to do for a class, so sure – that’s what friends are for – and the image above was the final product.

Bill, another friend throughout college, is my chess opponent. After graduation, he returned to his hometown near Buffalo, New York. We stayed in touch, then I discovered that he died in a car accident. He was very active and respected in his community – such a deep lose for them. Bill was also one heck of an athlete!

Yes, I was a member of the Falcon Marching Band for 5 years. (The sun always shines on the Falcon Marching Band.) I served as a squad leader for 2 years, plus I ended up meeting my future wife through band.

Two years before she came along, I had a crush on Diane – (who I think is) the curly haired lady, who was a twirler in band. We never dated, and her time at BG was very short – and I don’t think I ever saw her again. I loved my time in marching band, and wrote about one of my unexpected band moments on this past post (2011).

 

Sandy is another long-time friend and one of the best I’ve ever known. We met through Dwain, (her cousin) a fellow band member who happened to live beside Steve and I our first year. Sandy and I are sitting in a basement food area in my quad. She was in the group of us who hung around together all the time in college, and have stayed in touch ever since. Steve actually married a friend of hers who is from the same hometown. Sandy lives about an hour from me, while Dwain and I are about 300 miles (483 km) apart.

This post was about reminiscing back to a wonderful time – all stimulated from a collection of photographs from the distant past. For me, college was about being away from home with a degree of independence – life on my own while still having a home for the holidays, breaks, and the summer. Yes, a good transition toward the next step in life. Cheers to long-term friendships.

Special thanks to Steve for initiating this post by simply sending me the image. Now it’s time to enjoy a fitting song by Queen.

On a Beach Walk: No. 45 (Windows)

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

As I walk, I look at the buildings. Regardless of the size and location, all have windows – those panes of glass providing light, views, and protection to those inside.

The windows are different sizes and orientations. The vast majority are rectangular while the multi-sided and circular are few – yet, all these windows trigger my thoughts on this day. Yes, windows – those mere openings in a wall covered by glass.

My head turns away from the buildings and toward the water where I spot the horizon – that line where the water meets the sky as I wonder what lies beyond that metaphoric window.

On this day many clouds fill the sky while serving as a translucent window allowing light through while blocking what lies above. The occasional hole of blue serves as a reminder of other days while blue patches serve as a window beyond the clouds.

Even on the cloudless days, the blue sky serves as a window shade to what lies beyond for night is what allows us to raise the shade to examine and dream about what lies beyond.

The water’s surface serves as a window to the beauty and history to what lies below. However, one seldom sees that world until they pass through that window’s opening into the aquatic underworld.

I think of medical equipment as various scans and tests that allow medical professors to peer through the opaque window of our skin and bones into our internal world of normalcy and abnormality.

I think of microscopes allowing us to pass through a window into a world where our eyes cannot naturally go. I also think about telescopes taking us beyond our atmospheric window into a distant world that we try to imagine.

I think of other windows such as poems – a collection of a poet’s words causing us to reach deep into our soul for understanding of the poet’s world – a world that the poet allows us to discover by looking through the window of their words.

I think of books as windows – both fiction and nonfiction for they allow us to expand our world by travelling through the window of knowledge and creativity with reflection, learning, and fantasy.

I think of learning a process taking us through the window of a world that we do not know that works to close the window to ignorance while opening a seemingly infinite number of windows into a new world.

I think of windows are an interval of time – a span providing an opportunity – that golden hour – whether planned or by chance, that optimal moment for something to happen.

Windows – whether open or closed – real or metaphor – windows are worth pondering. Thinking about windows is a reason why walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On the Final Tidbits from Eastern Europe

For the final post in this series, here’s a potpourri of images.

Look closely for the street performer.

 

Trdelniks are abundant in Prague. These hollow, toasted pastries can be lined with various creams, filled with fruits and whipped cream, and even stuffed with mac n cheese.

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Do you remember Fred and Ginger?

 

Nothing like a collection of torture devices to get one’s attention

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I recall many readers enjoyed the Ljubljana Dragon.

 

One never knows what one can see in the windows …

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…. or out a hotel window in Krakow …

 

…. even through the front window of the bus.

 

This is the last of the series about our travels to Eastern Europe with a Rick Steves tour. Not only was the tour company outstanding, this region of the world is definitely worth the visit. For more about this trip, click here for a collection of all the posts. Below the tour map is a beautiful song that is special to the Czech people.

 

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 401

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It’s been a tough week. My boss at the golf course had a back operation, so I took on extra hours. This week is a club event, which means extra hours. Next week is a major club event, which means more hours, plus two of my coworkers won’t be there – which means more hours. Tough – but hey – they suck it up when I vacation.

Working has cut into my blog writing and visiting; plus delaying the next Weekend Concert. Maybe the dominoes of life will align so I can announce the next concert in the next OITS.

James Holzhauer’s run on Jeopardy was interesting. Sorry to see him lose, but hey – it was bound to happen.

I’ve enjoyed watching the first four games of the Stanley Cup finals. Go Blues!

No celebration – but the next post is a milestone – # 2,200.

Marina (a blogger from Greece) and I have interacted for many years here. Although her blog has focused on her art, he’s also a very talented musician (piano is her primary instrument). She has been on a long blog break because of a work project, an art show, and more. Her recent post features a video of her art to her music. It’s wonderful. I encourage readers to visit … tell Marina I sent you.

The last post about bias sparked interesting thoughts. The Media Bias Chart I used is the version 4.0 (August 2018). The first was done in December 2016.

Earlier this week marked the anniversary of three contrasting events: 75th anniversary of D-Day, the 100th anniversary of women voting rights in the US, and the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square. Those three events tell quite a story.

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Really? I never knew this: “We are celebrating the anniversary, 75 years of D-Day. This is the time where we should be celebrating our president, the great achievements of America, and I don’t think the American people like the constant negativity.” (Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee)

I was disappointed earlier this week by President Trump closing the door to US citizens desiring to visit Cuba.

I continue to be astonished by the difference between what Attorney General Bill Barr says that counters the statement and report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Congress actually tried to do something good this week when several Republicans actually supported a Democratic initiative challenge President Trumps authority. However, the majority of Republican senators remained loyal to the party and spineless in their oversight responsibility.

While many complain about the way various media attack President Trump, I must do my due diligence and state the following: 1) President Trump brings his problems on himself, 2) Just because the news media is bashing on him does not mean the media is as biased as it may appear. He brings it upon himself and they are calling him out (as they should).

To lead you into this week’s satirical headlines, The Onion provides information about the most significant US trade wars.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Mood of sex dungeon undercut by sight of plug-in air freshener
Depressed monkey throwing shit at himself
Bee practically blows its load after seeing purple coneflower in full bloom
Man who has been in a bunch of buildings figures he would be a good architect
Apple CEO torn limb by limb by mob of mothers demanding to know whether iTunes gift cards still active

Interesting Reads

Eid: An Islamic festival
About the euro
Bees using plastic
Thoughts about America’s global role
Linking Irish, Catholicism, and Vaudeville
(Interactive) Take a good 11-question science quiz, and then analyze the results to demographics
(Photos) Women’s Suffrage
Photos A few D-Day landmarks 75 years later
(Video) The Pompeii of Mexico (4+ minutes)

To send you into the weekend, here’s a summer song (actually when we enjoy hearing by our favorite duo at the Flora Bama in the winter). In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Biases

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Over the past few years in the USA, hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear cries and screams of “fake news” in a variety of ways. Although that phrase is primary associated to a shameful bloviator, it’s merely a substitute for another term that has been around not only my entire life of 66+ years, but long before. After all, it’s entomological roots are in the 16th century – and that word is bias.

During today’s tribalism, hyper-partisanship, and strong outward expressions of opinions, the biased person watching a biased news broadcast, reading a biased article/book, or listening to a biased radio pundit does not negate bias – but rather enhances it.

Often grounded in assumptions based on one’s culture, parents, peers, education, religion, geography, and personal experiences, biases are that filter leading one to predetermined outcomes. Biases are the neme, slant, lean, and tendency leading one to change what one observes into what they want. That is, the biased person makes the information fit for themselves. Biases unquestionably lead to misinformation and misconceptions; plus stronger biases enhance prejudice and bigotry.

Misconceptions are incorrect ideas grounded in a personal belief system serving as the foundation of incorrect knowledge. Misconceptions get in the way of learning by blocking new information. In order to justify their position, the learner will do whatever is necessary to fight against accepting the new information.

Here’s a simple example. All human blood is red, but the shade varies depending on the amount of oxygen present. Blood rich in oxygen is bright red, but blood low in oxygen is very dark red. In short, there is no blue blood.

A person believing the existence of blue blood will do whatever necessary to keep their belief. They point to the blue veins below the skin – drawings in textbooks showing showing red and blue blood vessels. They explain the skin turns blue after one dies because blood is not moving and getting oxygen. They believe in the immediacy (faster than eyes can detect) of blood changing from blue to red when bleeding from a cut vein. Years ago, an eighth grade classmate of mine even brought paper tissues (with blue food coloring) to class showing she had a nosebleed the night before. She went out of her way to argue her bias with the teacher.

Now expand this simple idea into more complex topics as evolution, vaccines, climate change – let alone complicated issues as health care, foreign policy, and the economy. The more complex the topic, a basic understanding requires more information than obtained from the first click on a single Google search. Now cloud the issue/topic with politically-driven partisan ideas that people blindly accept through a party-driven mantra.

Fighting bias challenges what one believes, so overcoming biases requires a conscious effort and can be personally humbling – even for those thinking they are unbiased. No matter how simple or complex the topic or issue, and no matter the age of the person involved, not only does everyone have misconceptions, only that person (the one holding the misconception) can remove that misconception and replace it with new information. In order to replace the misinformation, that person must either accept the new information from a person they recognize as knowledgeable or they must experience a learning event that alters their view.

Besides preventing learning and becoming knowledgeable and informed, misconceptions can humiliate a person. After all, nobody likes being wrong. Some bring it upon themselves by boasting incorrectly about a topic as if they know. After all, it’s the speed and conviction of the statement that validates the statement. Speak with confidence so others think you know.

On the other hand, misconceptions about a person can humiliate them – but in a different way because they are fightly personal misconceptions about their character, knowledge, and/or abilities. I keep thinking about a manager who told me that what others think of me is more important than who I actually am.

I’ve stated this before and here it comes again – The news media is biased by its very nature.

1) Media people are human, therefore have a filter (whether personal, corporate, or both).

2) Secondly, reports reduce the news event to an abstract. For instance, the media may reduce a one-hour speech into a 90-second report. This condensation is a natural bias; plus, generalizations are naturally less accurate and are not the complete story. Generalizations lead one away from the truth and generalizing generalizations can lead to falsehoods – therefore, misconceptions.

3) Thirdly, the selection of the soundbyte is an natural bias, as are the follow-up questions – but the media must do these actions. That’s part of reporting.

The listener’s bias also plays into the situation. Whether informed or not, the one holding deep convictions about a topic is not only biased against those with an opposing view, they are also vulnerable to getting sucked into generalizations based on misinformation and overgeneralizations that lacks details.

However, if the listener does not agree with the selected edits, abstract report, or the question asked does not mean the reporter or news organization was blatantly biased to favor a point of view – but it could.

On the listener’s side is the fact that if they work traditional morning-afternoon hours, they have limited opportunity to view national evening news by a major network. After that point in time, the 24/7 news channels offer shows featuring and promoting a particular point of view – for instance, Rachel Maddow, Sean Hannity, and others. However, television isn’t the only news source.

Technology has made more information is available to everyone than ever before. Unfortunately, that also means more misinformation is available today more than any other time in history.

Social media complicates and exacerbates personal bias by increasing misinformation, justifying false claims/conclusion, and promoting conspiracy theories. Social media, biased reporting, and talk show echo chambers disengage citizens from the truth while promoting a political agenda.

There is no question that bias plays an important role in the news – and there is plenty of blame to go around. People also carry their share of the blame – actually, in my opinion, people may be the greater problem. People must take responsibility for themselves to challenge and verify the information they receive. However, instead of being proactive citizens, too many people favor reinforcing their bias over being accurately informed.

Valuing factual information is an important aspect of being human – as is the ability to learn – as is the ability to communicate. Too bad there isn’t an anti-bias vaccine. Then again, self-imposed biases would prevent someone from taking that vaccine.

 

PS: This classic scene fits.