Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 395

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The Weekend Concert Series returns this Saturday at 1:00 am (Eastern US) with Aretha Franklin – The Queen of Soul!!!!

What timing! This Sunday night (9 PM Eastern US), CBS is broadcasting a special tribute to Aretha!

Five more OITS until number 400.

Sad to hear the news about baseball great Tom Seaver having dementia. When he played in Cincinnati, he lived in a condo on a golf course I worked at in the summer. He was very appreciative when I told him that when people asked me where he lived, I always lied. The man was a great pitcher. Wishing him and his family much strength.

Thanks to Holly @ House of Heart for leading me to this awesome poem about Tango.

Ever ask yourself this question: “Why did I agree to do that?” Well, our dance instructor asked me if I would do a showcase dance with another partner. (My wife doesn’t dance performances). With my wife’s approval, I agreed – but of all things – Quickstep! Fast and not only of my better dances. YIKES! … OK – head to the grindstone.

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With more and more Democrats seeking to be the 2020 party nominee for president, I wonder who will be the first to leave the race. Too bad Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) decided not to enter the fray.

I have mixed feelings about the Democrats decision to bypass FOX News for their debates.

This remains my best explanation of President Trump: He’s a pathetic person and an even worse leader who brings the majority of problems onto himself.

Presidential Weekly Summary: Build the wall. No collusion. Witch hunt. Lock her up. Fake news. Obama’s fault.

To lead you into the weekly dose of satire, The Onion has a guide to blockchain technology.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Man in rental car spends 20 minutes trying to find the steering wheel
Demonic spirit claws way out of Hell to flicker lights, throw some silverware around
Sperm can’t remember why it came into womb
Cursed ghost ship offers free room and board to anyone willing to join their eternally damned crew
God purges millions of souls from heaven now that sexual assault taken more seriously

Interesting Reads

Americans and Germans diverging thoughts
Travel pattern of text messages
Finding aliens
Politics and Dr. Seuss
Daring WW II raids
(Video) 5-minute history of the Internet in China
(Photos) Cherry blossoms
(Photos) Finalists Smithsonian Magazine photo contest

To send you into the weekend, the great response last week means another one from Linda Ronstadt. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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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 Samba

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For some background music, click the video. This Jennifer Lopez song has a wonderful Samba beat. Listen to the  rhythms.

Besides, Carnival 2019 in Rio de Janeiro has started!

 

General

Samba – some say SAM-ba, others say SOM-ba … I say the latter

Samba – a fun, lively dance to music of a distinct rhythm

Samba – a popular dance associated with Brazil; especially Rio’s Carnival

Samba – the fast dance associated with rocking, sexy motions

Samba – whose distinctive, energetic rhythm encourages people to move

History: Music and Dance

Samba – the dance and music rooted in the African people who came to Brazil

Samba – a dance done by Brazilians since the late 19th century to music rooted in the 16th century

Samba – a ballroom dance since 1930, today it is one of the five Latin competition dances

Carmen Miranda helped popularize Samba in That Night in Rio (1941)

Music

Donga & Mauro Almeida’s Pelo Telefone popularized Samba music in 1917 (click here for the recording)

Samba’s grew through the 1920s into the 1930s, eventually leading to the formation of Samba schools

Not all Samba music and rhythm is created equal – that is, there are different musical styles

In general, Samba music as a distinctive rhythm with pronounced percussion and played at a tempo of about 100 beats per minute

Different styles of Samba music include Samba Reggae, Samba Rock, and Samba de roda

Ballroom Samba music uses 2/4 timing with three weighted steps in two beats of music (more about that later)

Dance Styles

Samba is not one dance, but a set of dances – yet no one dance is definitely known as the “original” Samba

Types vary in movements, solo vs partner, musical rhythms, formality, influence by other dances, geographic region, occasion, acrobaticness, intimacy, and steps/patterns

Different Samba styles/dances are Samba de Gafieira (partners), Samba Pagode (partners), Samba Axé (solo), Samba Forró (partners), Samba no pé (solo dance typically done at Carnival by sambistas), and Ballroom Samba (partners)

Ballroom Samba includes American style and International style – both of which are different from the original Brazilian variations

Because of the competition nature of Ballroom Samba, standards and commonalities are established

Ballroom Samba

Ballroom Samba is a dance that can travel around the room (not staying in one spot/location), although some dance it as a spot dance

Ballroom Samba uses music with 2/4 timing, dancers use three weighted steps in two beats of music (for the musically inclined, the count is “one a-two”)

Ballroom Samba has one set (2 measures totally 4 counts) of 3 steps forward, then one set of 3 steps backward

The Leader steps forward on the left foot (that’s the 1 count), then the right foot forward to beside the left (that’s the “a” count), then changing the weight to the left in place (that’s the 2 count). (The Follower does the mirror opposite, starting with the right foot going backwards.) Then, both repeat the pattern in reverse and starting on the opposite foot.

Go back to the opening song to check if you can hear Samba’s feet rhythm.

The basic pattern can be done side-to-side (instead of forward then back) and in a box (forward, then to the side, together & weight shirt – back then to the side, together and weight shift). Also as a turning box.

In time, shifting weight and bending-straightening knees/legs create the body action while the upper body remains relatively still (except for arm movements)

 

Besides the Samba Basic, other common steps include Voltas, Bota fogos, Kick change, Runs, Promenade, Whisks, Struts, Taps, Locks, Rolls, Crosses, Step-ball-change, Under-arm turns, and more.

Here’s a very polished couple doing a routine with mostly basic moves. They are very good – although I’ve never seen anyone in my social ballroom world dancing Samba this well.

Closing

I’ll admit to several points:

  • I enjoy Samba music because it’s fun.
  • I enjoy watching people who dance Samba well at a social level.
  • I can’t do Samba very well.

Below are three different Sambas for you to enjoy. The first (from Dancing With the Stars) is well done, and highly choreographed. The second is competition level Samba. Choreographed as well, but done at a high level. The last (and not to leave the Brazilians out) are solo Sambas for Carnival. Let me know the ones you watched.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 394

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Fleetwood Mac delivered a great show at last weekend’s aFa Weekend Concert. Reminder – no concert this weekend – but it returns next weekend with the Queen of Soul: Aretha Franklin!

Due to a hectic personal schedule, I’m unsure about the timing of the next post.

With baseball spring training in progress, 2019 will mark the 150th anniversary of the Cincinnati Reds franchise – the oldest in Major League Baseball.

As a whole, the dress on Oscars night disappointed me enough to mention it here. Actually, many were head scratchers, but thumbs up to Amy Adams, Constance Wu, Tina Fey, Amandla Stenberg, Regina King, Jennifer Lopez, and Julia Roberts.

I imagine most readers here are not familiar with Sister Rose Ann Fleming – so a Cincinnati legend, so this is a good story.

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With the final Mueller report seemingly being on the near horizon, my skeptic side feels the narratives are already established – therefore, changing nothing with the Democratic narrative and the Republican narrative are set. The unknown question is how will voters react? Then again, by the time November 2020 arrives, will voters even remember?

I normally don’t read columns by Marc Thiessen (Washington Post) because of his partisan nature. However, something compelled me to read this one, and I smiled.

A friend asked me if I thought Joe Biden could beat Donald Trump in November 2020. I said YES, but added I’m not sure he can get the Democratic nomination.

To lead you into the weekly dose of satire, The Onion looks back at the biggest Oscar snubs in history.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Teen on verge of either joining ISIS or getting super into rollerblading
Unclear why stagehand wrote heartfelt little notes to everyone in cast
Poor attendance at intervention a wake-up call
Bouncer who is not that big must be crazy
Chef makes hamburger

Interesting Reads

The US-EU trade war with olives
Evolution and humans drinking milk
Fats Domino
A Holocaust story
Verona + gnocchi = gnocchio
Correlating personal happiness and leisure time
(Photos) Iconic views
(Photos) Elton John through the years

To send you into the weekend, let’s go back to the time of Linda Ronstadt. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Shopping Carts

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This post is about a cart, basket, buggy, trolley, carriage, trundler, barrae, coohudder, bascart, and wagon – and all of these may be preceded by grocery, shopping, and supermarket. For me, it’s a grocery cart. Then again (in my mind), the same cart in a different store could be a shopping cart or just a cart.

Long-time readers here know that I enjoy playing golf. While golf carts have a different application than carts at the grocery, I enjoy this 30-second commercial from the past that combines those two thoughts.

 

Back at the store and regardless of terminology, grocery carts haven’t been around forever. Sylvan Goldman, a Oklahoma City grocery owner, invented this wheeled apparatus in 1937. Before then, shoppers used a hand-carrying basket. Goldman’s idea had a simple purpose – allow shoppers to buy more! Have you noticed a grocery cart looks like a big basket (without handles) on wheels?

Having gone through various design changes since Goldman’s first edition, carts during my youth were the basically same from store to store (well, other than the feature identifying the store). Through the years, their size has increased to reinforce the belief that size matters. On one hand, this is a contradiction because people eat outside the home more.

On the other hand, today’s grocery stores are larger, offer more products, and some include clothing, home goods, hardware, sporting goods, and lawn & garden. Therefore the cart must be large enough to contain canned vegetables, milk, cereal, pasta, a toaster oven, a laundry hamper, package of underwear, a set of socket wrenches, a flower pot, an ornamental shrub, and a bag of mulch.

Through the years, I’ve been the primary grocery shopper in our home – so, I notice shopper behaviors as well as their carts. Store aisles are typically wide enough for two carts to carefully pass – but not much more. After all, stores must maximize space for stuff to buy!

Given the tight quarters, I’ve consider the idea that shoppers should pass a grocery cart operating test before being allowed to use one. For instance, shoppers should never stop the cart on one side of the aisle, and then stand beside the cart while analyzing shelf products on the opposite side. Never block an aisle. Never!

From Wikipedia

I’ve often thought that grocery should hire plain-clothed cart police to issue citations for poor cart management. Then again, that would be effective only if all stores participated with equal scrutiny. Other times I wonder if I should carry a prod to shock people for improper cart management. Clear the aisle, here comes the crazy man with the stick!

As I think about my primary grocery store, they offer full-sized carts, mini-carts (for shoppers with a short list), and two sizes of hand-carrying baskets. Battery-operated riding carts for elderly and the disabled are a great addition – but should operators be subject to standards by passing a test or attending a class?

Sean Dreilinger via Flickr Creative Commons

Oh wait – there are more carts! How about the carts the size of a stretched limo because they have a car attached to the front so a kid can ride while the parent shops. Of course, this is done to entertain the child so they don’t disrupt other shoppers with loud squalls. However, ever notice how much space those thing require to turn the corner from one aisle to the next?

If the limos aren’t bad enough, how about he miniature carts for a kid to push around. Beyond the “how cute” aspect, what the hell do they know about cart etiquette? Then again – the price we pay for another squalling-prevention technique.

Unfortunately, stores won’t require a shopping cart operating license – nor hire a team of undercover shopping cart gestapo – and I won’t be taking a shocking device with me to the store. But, at least I got this heavy burden off my chest – not that my message will do any good for society because two past posts (one and two) about grocery carts and shoppers didn’t change behaviors.

On the positive side, grocery carts can be a source of amusement – as Exhibit A below shows.

On a Weekend Concert with Fleetwood Mac

 

Fleetwood Mac

The Producer’s Guidelines

  • Only songs by Fleetwood, but with one exception
  • Songs by Stevie Nicks are acceptable (but not others)
  • No duplicate songs
  • Include the song title in your introduction text so others can see it
  • To prevent browsers crashing from loading too many videos, please paste the URL as part of your last line (not a new line) – (I do not mind unembedding, so no apologies are necessary)

Welcome Fleetwood Mac with The Chain.

 

Next Concert: NONE next week (2 March) – Returning 9 March with Aretha Franklin

Past Concerts (Category): Beatles, Ex-Beatles, Moody Blues, Queen, Neil Diamond, Eagles

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 393

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The aFa Weekend Concert series returns featuring Fleetwood Mac. Given the distinct nature of her voice, Stevie Nicks songs are acceptable. Concert starts Saturday at 1:00 AM (Eastern US).

On a concert note, the stage will be dark the following weekend (March 2-3) due to scheduling difficulties.

Thanks for everyone for the kind comments on my birthday post. There is something about receiving nice greetings from all over the US and throughout the world that touches my heart – and to think we’ve never met in person. For the record, comments came from 10 different US states and 8 different countries. 🙂

Not long ago we said goodbye to Curiosity, NASA’s rover on Mars. Doesn’t seem that long ago when we said hello to it with this way. Do you remember it?

 

For those who know about TEDx Talks, I recently discovered that TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. I had no clue of its meaning! For podcasts enthusiasts, I endorse TEDx podcasts.

We watched Roma, the critically acclaimed Netflix film that has received numerous Oscar nominations. For us, it’s a movie for critics and lovers of movies critics rave about that aren’t not for many of us. But hey – you may like it.

We also went to the theater for The Wife. Good movie; and Glenn Close is fabulous and worthy of her Oscar nomination and Screen Actors Guild Award.

About the previous post – the Final Jeopardy question. I based the list on Madeleine Albright’s latest book: Fascism: A Warning – not my personal opinion.

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Dear Voters in Kentucky. Thank you for sending us Mitch McConnell. He’s quite pathetic.

If Republican senators are smart, they would unquestionably vote against President Trump’s National Emergency declaration. Otherwise, they are setting themselves up for something in the future. Then again, most of them are not smart and they (and their supporters) accept their own contradictions in their “party-first” perspective.

I encourage you to write your representative and senators encouraging them to vote against President Trump’s National Emergency declaration on the grounds of a dangerous precedent for the future. I’ve written my three: two Republicans (one probably a lost cause) and a Democrat). As of this writing, the lost-cause has not responded, which I requested.

Here’s an interesting scenario from Politico about the declaration and the courts.

Democrats continue to expand the field of candidates seeking the nomination. Shame on NBC starting the debates in June – well ahead of the Iowa Caucuses in early 2020. Odds of me watching are less than very slim.

Now here’s an interesting situation to ponder about the 2020 election: Democrats gain control of the Senate, keep control of the House, and President Trump is re-elected.

To lead you into the weekly dose of satire, The Onion provides a list of pros and cons about salary transparency.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Man competitive about how depressed he is
Coworkers agog as employee introduces new shirt into rotation
Aunt scores big with nephews by dropping bombshell story about Mom smoking weed as teenager
Scientists produce rigorous study of why grapes spark in the microwave
Mass invasion of polar bears forces Russian islands to declare emergency
Man always makes sure to place phone on Silent before misplacing it

My Combo: Competitive depressed man scores spark with bombshell employee before misplacing weed misplacing new shirt

Bonus: I like this headline and image of this one about New York City police (but you’ll have to click to see).

Interesting Reads

Women and computer programming: a historical look
Policy and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Why calories are not on labels of alcoholic drinks
Albanian bunkers
Thinking non-human animals
(Article w/ interactive) International view of issues
(Graphic) Marijuana regulations in the US
(Photos) UK National Parks Photo Competition

To send you into the weekend, here’s one from the past that once I heard it earlier this week, I knew to use it here. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.