On Springtime Blooms Return

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For we in the northern hemisphere, spring is the air – so flowers are plants are showing signs of life and flowers have burst forth for the underground bulb from it’s winter sleep. Although I didn’t sleep in the winter, I have been on blog break since late March – so hey – this post has nothing to do with flowers – but just an analogy marking my return to posting.

Image from 123vectors.com

Because I had a Pause Button, it’s time to restart. I usually use this after a break, but I couldn’t resist the opening bloom analogy.

I did take some time during break to continuing editing the future beach walks that is, the ones I wrote this past winter. They are far enough along to restart the series soon.

Spring also means the time to ramp up golf season. I’m behind on my pre-season routine, but that’s OK because I’m not a fanatic. I simple enjoy playing the game.

News from the Mueller Report came forth shortly after starting the blog break. I considered having a special post, but decided it was not worth my time and effort. After all, it seems the report has gone like I anticipated – and the party faithful on both sides of the aisle are demonstrating predictable behavior that favors a party-first mantra over what is best for the country. Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani continues to demonstrate that Disney would never hire him because he beyond goofy.

Washington is so messed up, I’m not convinced the Founding Fathers could help. Then again, that would be interesting to hear their take.

Sometimes I take blog breaks because of travel plans – but not always. After all, a blog break within one’s normal routine is also important. Then again, I’ve been gone long enough that both are possible. OK – I’ll spill the beans. We cruised from San Diego to Miami on Oceania Cruise Line’s Regatta.

 

Here are a few thoughts about the ports

  • San Diego – A beautiful city
  • Mexico (Cabo San Lucas & Acapulco) – Overrated
  • Guatemala (Puerto Quetzal) – Antigua is a special place
  • Nicaragua (Corinto) – Second poorest country in the America’s (behind Haiti)
  • Costa Rica (Puntarenas) – Pick you eco-tour
  • Panama Canal (cruising) – An engineering marvel
  • Cartagena (Columbia) – Beautiful Old City, vendors abundant and bothersome
  • Havana (Cuba) – Unquestionably my favorite stop

To help reset the Start button, here’s a song that we heard a lot on the cruise.

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On Blog Break Spring 2019

Yes – it’s that time again. A time for a blog break. After all, you know my mantra – blog breaks are good. Because of the respect I have for my readers, I prefer announcing my absence. This time I expect 4-8 weeks. This post is just a collection of random thoughts before Blog Break.

I will be staying away from blogging for most of the time, but I probably will work on future posts. You may see my presence shortly after this and slightly before I return.

Golf league starts in about 5-6 weeks – so, I should get the clubs out of the basement.

Cheers to Dale for her maitre ‘d work at the concerts. However, I know she’s very busy at this time, so the blog break gives her a break. This video is for her.

 

Speaking of the concerts, I’m considering scaling back the concerts to the first and third weekends (instead of every weekend). Your thoughts?

March Madness will be in full swing this week. Personally, no team with a losing record in conference should NOT be in the tournament unless they win the conference tournament. These teams should do bump smaller schools. It’s that simple. UC is in the dance, but I don’t expect much – so the bottom line for me is ABK … Anybody But Kentucky.

Bummer: We had a 10-day tour scheduled for late June into early July going Seattle to Glacier National Park and back. The company cancelled the tour. 😦 …. and we already had non-refundable airfare tickets. Now we have to go somewhere and back by mid-November to use the credited dollars on Southwest Airlines.

I’m a few days into temporary bachelorhood as it’s time for my wife’s girls cruise (that is, the guys aren’t allowed). For me, that means dance when I can! When people ask me what I do for a week, my response is simple: 1) Whatever I want, 2) Whenever I want.

 

My heart sank at the news about the recent terrorist attack in New Zealand. Pauline, my favorite Kiwi, is a regular here – and my support is with her and her nation – yet I also feel helpless.

I’ve got the feeling the Mueller Report will come out during my absence. Oh well, I still believe it will not meet the expectations of Democrats, so it will also be a relief to Republicans who will also sidestep important points.

I stated this line before about President Trump and continue to use it. “He’s a pathetic person and even worse leader; plus he brings most of his problems on himself.” Some say I’m not harsh enough. Yes – it’s tame – but countering it is difficult because it is not threatening.

As I head into Blog Break, here’s a song that I greatly enjoy. From The Greatest Showman, “A Million Dreams”. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Return Home

Greetings from my home in Cincinnati. We recently returned from a 6-week stay as snowbirds on the Alabama coast, the place where I kept my little corner of the world in full swing. Travel time returning home (Friday and Saturday) is the reason for not having a weekend concert and for my absence – but Aretha is still schedule for this coming weekend … and the opening song is set!

That my walking beach to the west (and 2 miles/3.2 km to the rocks)

 

The weather during our stay wasn’t the best – but as I always say, no matter how cold it is in Alabama during our stay, it’s warmer than home! January had cold, but that was when Cincinnati (and many of you) were gripped by bitter cold. Plus, the only snow we saw was on news reports. Of the three years in Alabama, this year was probably the worst – and the first year without a good streak of sunshine – but hey – the overall weather was better than home.

Glad I captured the storm cloud

 

I always say these 6-weeks are for my alter ego – a time with minimal obligations – a time away from normal routines – a time when I can focus on walking the beach as much as possible. How much did I walk during the 43 full days? Here’s the tale of the tape:

  • 911,867 steps covering an estimated 405.3 miles (652.3 km)
  • 21,206 steps averaged per day
  • 17 of 43 days over 10,000 (but less than 20K); 24 of 43 days over 20,000 steps (but less than 30K), and 2 days of 43 over 30,000 steps

 

I was hoping to lose some weight during the 6-weeks south. Then again, I know we will go out 2-3 times per week. Good news is that we were able to limit the snacks that my wife’s father enjoys. Bottom line is 8 pounds lost and my waist feels smaller.

Walking also means composing more beach walks. I don’t have a final count on the number of drafts, but it may be the most ever. I think over 40.

I love sunrises, but given the weather, I didn’t see many achieving the wow factor.

 

On the worst weather days, we like to go to a theater. This year we saw Vice, The Upside, and The Wife.

TIP: When at the beach, if you see something interesting, take a picture and then send it to a marine biology department at a local university.

Outside cylinders of tube worms

 

My wife is a prolific reader – but I read two books this time: both by diplomat Madeleine Albright – The Mighty and the Almighty and Fascism: A Warning. Reviews in the future. I’ll post reviews in the future.

On one of the questionable weather days, we visited the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. It’s very well done – and free. Compared to the US Air Force Museum in Ohio, it’s much smaller.

For the record, we only dance a few dances one evening – so it will take some time to regain ballroom form.

Outside our front door looking to the north at the intercoastal waterway

 

We were pleased with the gas mileage of our Subaru Outback. Over the 2800+ miles (4510+ km) covering 6 weeks, the Outback’s gas mileage was 31.4 miles per gallon.

As after arriving at home Saturday afternoon, Sunday provided a small dose of snow, Monday deliver the first of a two-day punch of frigid, plus I ordered my first hearing aids, AND began prep for Tuesday’s colonoscopy. Such a great way to return home! Hooray – no polyps! Next colonoscopy in seven years!!! – but a busy return has slowed my blogging presence.

We enjoy the Flora-Bama – truly a regional institution with national acclaim. (past post) The bios of some of the musicians are impressive. For instance, the only way we know Neil Dover is that he proceeded our favorite duo – so we typically only heard 15-30 minutes each time. Interestingly, his degree is in opera! He’s written a great song about this quirky musical palace. The lyrics and the video are perfect. Enjoy Neil Dover with FloraBama Time.

On Blog Break: Fall 2018


 

It’s blog break time again. This time I’m hoping 4-6 weeks, therefore sometime in the last half of October. As with other breaks, I will probably precede posting with some visiting to make my presence known. Meanwhile, below are some odds and ends.

The blog break puts a pause on Pronouns: The Musical. They is the next act, followed by Them and It.

The previous post was the last one for the year. My plan is to write more the next time I return to the beach. I wouldn’t expect anyone to notice because the posts were months apart, but the previous walk was not the only time the walk featured waves. As a matter of fact, I used different versions of the same song (Waves – Mr. Probz). Check them out.

I will spend part of my blog break preparing posts featuring last spring’s bus tour that took us to many western US National Parks.

College football is in full swing and Saturday was a black day for the Big Ten – which lost 6 games to non-conference foes – of which 5 teams are NOT in a Power 5 Conference. Because the league has 14 teams, I prefer referring to the Big Ten as the Big Can’t Count – or the Big Can’t Count Past 10.

Think of Ohio as a square. Cincinnati is in the lower left corner, I grew up in the lower right corner, and went to college in the upper left corner. Sunday morning I went to Toledo’s (upper left corner) newspaper site to read about a college football game – and I was quite surprised what I saw as the feature article – an article about my small time in the opposite corner of the state that is a 4-hour drive – an article about a small town in rural southeast Ohio that struggles on various levels. Here’s the article.

Our current town has one of its water towers very close to our residence. Over the past several weeks, it’s been interesting watching workers clean then paint the water tower.

 

Wow – this headline from Pew Research is powerful and laughable: Republicans, Democrats See Opposing Party as More Ideological Than Their Own. Here’s the article.

Earlier this week marked the anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution. For purely their own selfish reasons, it is interesting how both political parties try to use/not use this document, use/not use words of the Framers, or use/not use the Federalists Papers.

“I doubt too whether any other convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded, like those of the builders of Babel, and that our states are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another’s throats. Thus I consent, sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best.” (Ben Franklin)

Has anyone converted to the new Gutenberg editor on WordPress? If so, please share some of your thoughts.

Interesting Blog-Break Reads

Clearing the Unused Headlines from The Onion

  • Body positivity caught in illicit tryst with conventionally attractive lover
  • Cashier forced to incorporate humiliating new phrase into every customer interaction
  • Grocery store bar actually has great little Happy Hour, reports man with a series problem
  • Climate researchers warn only hope for humanity now lies in possibility they making all of this up
  • WHO warns against eating fish and keeping active following death of world’s oldest woman
  • 10-year-old yelling at mom to watch cannonball while she’s trying to scope out younger men at pool

So for now, and I’ve stated many time before, blog breaks are good. Enjoy this upbeat summer song because when I return, fall will definitely be in the air. Then again, it’s fitting for the approaching summer in the southern hemisphere. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Cutting the Cord

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You requested it – I listened – so here it is – a post about replacing your cable or satellite television system.

This past July, we made the decision to shed our television provider for a local antenna. We simply were tired of dealing with price increases and playing the promotion game in order to get a reasonable rate we were willing to pay.

Your biology class may have used a dichotomous key as a tool to identify organisms as trees, flowers, fish, and others. These keys begin with a question followed by options (typically 2) that force the user to make a choice. The decision may include information followed by a “Go-to” statement, which directs the user to their next question (by number). To me, this tool is similar to a flow chart displaying a decision tree.

I constructed the dichotomous key below as a tool to help interested parties make a decision about cutting the cord. Answer the question, then follow the appropriate “Go-to” statement. Bullets are notes that go with that answer.

A Decision Tree

1) Do you want local channels?

1A) Yes – Go to 2

  • Depending on your distance from the stations, you may need an amplifier
  • The higher the antenna location, the better the reception
  • In general, outdoor-type antennas are better than indoor antennas, and multidirectional/omnidirectional antennas are better than directional
  • Condos owners – consider an attic because high inside is better than low outside
  • Consider an using an installer
  • You will receive more stations than you anticipate because some local stations offer substations. Click here to find your local channels by zip code.

1B) No – Go to 3

2) Do you want to record shows from local channels?

2A) Yes – then purchase a DVR – Go to 3

  • Beware of monthly fees
  • DVR will only record shows on stations from the antenna, not from streaming
  • We purchased a TiVo Roamio OTA, no monthly fees (from Amazon)

2B) No – Go to 3

3) Do you want “cable” stations?

3A) Yes – Go to 4

3B) No – Go to 7

4) Do you know your options for receiving cable stations?

4A) Yes – Go to 5

4B) No – You will need to do the following, then Go to 5

  1. Identify the most important stations for your household
  2. Research available streaming options as Sling, DirectTV Now, Hulu TV, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, Watch TV
  3. Prioritize the services by comparing their offerings to your most-important stations list

5) Do you want to record “cable” shows?

5A) Yes – Go to 6

  • Remember, DVR equipment (as TiVo) does not record streaming services
  • Some (but not all) streaming services offer DVR cloud service, so select the service with this option

5B) No – Go to 7

6) Does your preferred streaming option offer DVR cloud service?

6A) Yes – Go to 7

6B) No – re-prioritize your streaming options or change your desire for DVR cloud service – Go to 7

7) Do you have or want streaming services as Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Showtime, or others?

7A) Yes – No problems – Go to 8

  • Previous choices should not affect these services
  • These services run on dedicated apps
  • Streaming service are more efficient through wire than through wireless

7B) No – Go to 8

8) Did this exercise help?

8A) Yes – Congratulations because you may know more about the topic than you did

8B) No – Seek professional help

Our Decision

Although we did not do this to cut expenses, our decision saved $75 per month. However, we spent about $800 for the antenna, its installation, and the DVR – but our savings should take care of the expenses in 11 months.

Based on what our viewing preferences, we selected Sling Blue – but at the expense of me losing the ESPN family (and Discovery Channel). (We gained BBC America.) However, I may expand to Sling Orange for several months to have access to ESPN college football – then cancel the Orange tier at season’s end.

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.

On Blog-Break Time

Odds and Ends
Thanks for birthday greetings. Receiving birthday greetings from around the world makes the day extra special! A Saturday birthday was a good time to celebrate the entire weekend. Besides, my variation of on-this-day-in-history was different for me.

We in the US just celebrated a holiday. Which is correct: Presidents Day, President’s Day, or Presidents’ Day? The answer is simple: 1) It depends on who you ask because style manuals differ – and 2) it depends on how the law is written in each state. That’s crazy! In this case I favor Presidents Day.

A salute to high school students becoming activists regarding gun violence.

I missed my prediction about the US hockey team. Fortunately they played Slovakia twice – but that team beat the Russians.

Time for a blog break. I’ve been going strong since September, so I’m ready for some time off. I’m guessing 2-4 weeks of no posting. Nothing urgent at this end, but I know the time is right. Besides, blog breaks are good!

That doesn’t mean I won’t be preparing future posts, but I will reduce my online presence – but that doesn’t mean I won’t stop by. In other words, time will tell. I imagine returning sometime in March – preferably in the first half of the month – but one never knows.

In the spirit of Opinions in the Shorts, I conclude with some Onion Headlines, Interesting Reads, and a song.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Teddy Bear feels terrible for sparking “What are We? Conversation
Area ladder never thought it would end up as bookcase
Pet turtle going hog-wild on terrarium’s new stick
Man hates it when trailer gives away entire premise of movie
Archeologists unearth ivory trumpet dating back to prehistoric jazz age
Cute new dog helping single man pick up tons of hot shit
Raytheon unveils military robot capable of composing poignant poems about horrors of war

Interesting Reads
Birth of the Academy Awards
An international comparison of health care systems
Is tech dividing America?
A changing Saudi Arabia
(Blogger) Toilets for the half-assed … (a must see)
(Video) Now this is a tough commute
(Photos) 2018 World Press Photo Contest nominees

Until we meet again and as Garrison Keillor says, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.