On Thanksgiving 2019

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Thanksgiving is a major holiday in the US, so many families will gather for a bountiful meal.

Thanksgiving is a day that begins the holiday season.

Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate the harvest.

Thanksgiving is a day of happiness and gratitude.

Thanksgiving is a special day to give thanks – to consider our blessings. Although that is something that people (including me) should do more often. Then again, others struggle on this day for a variety of reasons: especially loneliness and health. Let us be thankful for our blessings and keep the troubled in our hearts.

With this being my last Thanksgiving in my little corner of the world, I am thankful for the many good people I’ve encountered on these pages. I feel very blessed – and an extra special thank you to my regulars today and in the past.

A Thanksgiving blessing to all!

On Cruising the River Danube: Part 1 of 4

Our first river cruise was a good one, so thought I’d share a bit of it with you. My first thought was 2 posts: the Upper and Lower Danube – but those posts would be too long with too many pics in each post. (That’s a self-imposed standard.)  So, I’ve decided to spread this trip over 4 posts, but in order of occurrence. This post features Prague to Linz.

 

Prague, Czech Republic

Although not located on the Danube, Prague is a common beginning (or end) point for Upper Danube cruises. We first visited Prague last year at the start of our Rick Steves tour. Because we loved it this city by the River Vltava , we didn’t mind returning. For more details and images of Prague, here’s a past post.

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Terezin, Czech Republic

Until last year’s trip, I had never heard of Terezin until our guide mentioned it. After reading about it in Madeleine Albright’s Prague Winter, and then watching a documentary on it, I couldn’t pass a tour opportunity to visit. Terezin served as a town and a military installation. The Nazis took it over and turned it into a “model city” for interned Jews. It is an interesting, yet horrific, story. I’ve very glad I visited.

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Regensburg, Germany

A bit more than a two-hour bus ride from Prague (and before boarding the Avalon Passion), we spent the afternoon in Regensburg. Because it wasn’t bombed in WW2, it’s medieval city is still intact – and vibrant!

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Passau, Germany

Our first cruise stop was Passau. This city of three rivers is where the Danube, Inn, and Ilz rivers meet. Interesting how the Inn’s murky water affects the Danube from this point and beyond. (From here down, it’s not blue.) Someone saved a young Adolph Hitler from drowning in the Inn.  After an Old Town tour, we hiked up to the castle for a scenic view.

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Linz, Austria

Linz is one of the larger cities in Austria. Although not one of my favorite stops, my dad was part of the army that liberated Linz in WW2. From Linz, some passengers went to Salzburg. Because my wife is a mega Sound of Music fan, she wanted more than a couple of hours.

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On a Beach Walk: #63 (Mars)

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

Good morning. The day is bright. The sky is clear and blue. The only clouds I see are on the distant horizon. Not many hours ago, stars filled the dark sky. Ancient civilizations thought of stars as twinkles attached to a dome that vanished by day, but today we know they are present behind the sky’s blue veil.

Probably everyone has wondered if life is elsewhere in the seemingly vast, endless void we call space. After all, our sun isn’t the only sun in the universe. Earth is located in the sweet spot of our solar system – but with many other suns, other sweet spots exist for life as we know it.

On the other hand, we humans are self-absorbed with ourselves thinking we are the center of everything. Let us not forget that at one time we said the Earth was the center of the universe with everything revolving around us and our planetary home. That was the prevailing thought of the time until new knowledge changed that view – although acceptance took time. Yet, some still embrace this notion.

Yes – today I want to think outside of Earth’s atmosphere. As my feet travel on this soft sandy, I wonder about the surfaces on other planets. Whether looking beyond the wild blue yonder or wondering as we watch the twinkling in the night sky – we wonder.

Although the song is not about this topic, the Moody Blues’ lyrics, “I know you’re out there somewhere” makes me wonder about life elsewhere. Does it exist? If so, is there any commonality with life on Earth? Then again, we could be the only life in the universe, and wondering about space is a gift for being human.

Life as we know it needs food, water, shelter, and something to breathe. Our needs are based on carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and phosphorous, which are the key substances (but not the only) that compose not only us, but all life forms.

I think about these needs in terms of space travel to a neighboring planet. Venus had water at one time but no longer does. Besides, it’s too hot. Mars is another neighboring planet – and those beyond it are too cold.

Mars – the red planet – a visible star with a reddish tint. Mars – 250 millions miles away – an eight-month journey. The technology to get there exists, and is being further developed. Technology for recycling materials during the journey and on the planet exists.

Technology to use the frozen carbon dioxide of Mars exists – as is protection from the solar radiation. But I wonder: Can the human body endure the journey? Can the human body endure that planet?

Some say the human trip to Mars is inevitable – even by 2040. Others say it’s a dream. Yet, we cannot forget these three important factors: 1) Earth is our most suitable home; 2) Colonizing Mars will not save us from ourselves here; and  3) Exploration is in human DNA.

From our migratory ancestors to early explorers; from the Vikings to European explorers as da Gama, Magellan, Hudson, and others of their time – from visiting the North Pole and the South Pole to climbing Mt. Everest – from diving deep into the sea to landing on the Moon – Yes, humanity wants to explore because humanity wants to know.

While we dream of Earth serving as the home base for that futuristic trip into the sky I see above, let us not forget that we also have the opportunity to appreciate what we have and take care of it.

On this day as I walk the beach, I dream – even fantasize about a possible future. Thinking about Space – the final frontier – “To go where no man has gone before.”

Earth is my home – actually our home. Earth is where we find the flat plains of grain, the rolling hills of green, and the tall mountains with majestic peaks. However, my feet are moving on the fine sand of this coastal community. After all, I like walking the beach for it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Weekend Concert: James Brown

James Brown

The Producer’s Guidelines

  • Only songs performed by James Brown
  • No duplicate songs
  • Include the song title in your introduction text so others can see it
  • One song per person on Day 1, unlimited on Day 2
  • 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)

Note: Return on Day 2 to submit more songs without limits. (My typical signal is posting a song for all attendees.)

“Gonna Have A Funky Good Time”

 

Next Concert: Gloria Estefan (tentatively 7 Dec)

Past Concerts (Category): Beatles, Ex-Beatles, Moody Blues, Queen, Neil Diamond, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Elton John, Billy Joel, Crosby Stills Nash & Young (the group), Doobie Brothers, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Journey, Prince, Guess Who

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol 418

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James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, is ready to take the weekend concert stage! Concert time is Saturday at 1:00 am (Eastern US).

As part of my exit plan, I’ve added a new page/tab. Q&A page is a place for my audience to ask me questions.

The ending to last week’s Steelers-Browns game was embarrassing. And to think that some people are blaming the Steeler QB. Not that he’s totally innocent, but only one player intentionally swung the helmet.

Speaking of football, the Benevolent Impalers continue to roll. Besides steamrolling the third consecutive opponent, we’ve clinched a playoff spot with three weeks remaining in the season.

Long-time readers know I enjoy milestones. Cheers to Akismet catching over 100,000 spam comments.

For moviegoers, thumbs up to The Good Liar.

Odd are very few readers here have heard of Serpent Mound. It’s an Ohio historic site, and has even applied for status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A local TV station did this drone flyover with a short report. For those wanting to know more, here are three short (less than 5 minute) videos.

Zion National Park, a beautiful natural wonder, is turning 100. A new film is made for the park’s Visitors Center and for global distribution. Oh, now that would be great on an IMAX screen. Although the information I found was limited, I did find this trailer.

Typically, November and December are busy for the handbell choir – meaning many more songs to prepare for the various holidays. Our normal playing schedule is once a month, but this week we return after 2 weeks, then play again 2 weeks later, then again for Christmas Eve. To hear a recording of our next piece, click here to enjoy.

Because next week is Thanksgiving here in the US, no OITS next week – and maybe no Beach Walk …. but I’ll be featuring a series of travel posts.

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An Associated Press article was about a study stating Americans struggle differentiating fact vs. fiction. Whereas I continue to proclaim the people are just as biased than the media, and perhaps more so, several quotes in the article got to me.

  • “It is difficult to get the facts. You have to read between the lines. I rely on like-minded friends and family to help sort through conflicting information.”
  • “When I hear him on Fox News – that’s where I get all my information – Trump is the easiest way to cut through confusing information.”

With the hearing on one day, I switched the channel to watch a rerun of Laramie (an old western 1959-1963). … and nope, I didn’t watch the most recent Democratic debate (which keeps my streak intact).

Why have Republicans complained about the closed hearings when they intentionally chose to limit their attendance? Oh yes – they rely on the public’s ignorance and partisan bias. Meanwhile, on the public hearing, they only hear what they want to hear.

Part of the Republican defense of President Trump begins with statements like, “No judge in America, no trial in America, no jury in America, blah blah blah … To which I respond, In America any juror with a preconceived opinion – especially those stating their views before the hearing the evidence, would be excluded from the jury – including those that have dinner with the defendant before the trial. 

Because they prefer being a political hack favoring their party instead of following the law, the Ethics Committee should expel any member of Congress who demands or releases the whistleblower’s identity. Then again, Congressional Ethics is an oxymoron.

If Hillary Clinton would have won the 2016, would the Republicans (at the time, a majority in the House and Senate) have sought her impeachment over the private server? I confidently say, Yes! After all, it’s not about the evidence – it’s about what they want to believe.

An idea for Congressional Republicans: Seek to amend the Constitution – suggest removing “high crimes and misdemeanors” with something like “proven illegal activity” …. but you won’t … bwak bwak bwak … Chickens!

Bottom line about Congressional Republicans: The vast majority (if not all) are shallow, pathetic, selfish, spineless cowards who are more concerned about their party and self-preservation than about the country. Sadly, their voting constituents may be even worse.

To lead you into this week’s satirical headlines, The Onion explains how political ads are made.

(Bonus Onion lead) President Trump visited the hospital earlier this week. Click here if you dare.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Pope Francis Bags 6-Winged Trophy Angel During Vatican’s Annual Seraphim Hunt
Area Man Loads Up On Half-Priced Armistice Day Candy
Girlfriend must have been drinking when she texted picture of knitted scarf at midnight
Man Starting To Think He Didn’t Win 1995 Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes Sweepstakes For Free Trip To Australian Outback
Report: Looks Like Ex Gained Some Weight Ever Since They Started Dating Someone Better
Spider panics after losing track of human it noticed scurry across floor

Interesting Reads

Report: marriage v living together in the US
Looking for oxygen on Mars
Farming edible snails
5 facts about illegal immigration in Europe
Relating fictional plots to economic history
About the making of Ford v Ferrari movie
(Graphic) Broadband and cellphone service costs by country
(Photos) Comedy in the wild

To send you into the weekend, here’s a fun song that I like. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Extra Murals

Before riding into the blog sunset, I’ve enjoyed cleaning out my blog closet. Whether pictures sitting in folders waiting for the words, notes waiting for expansion, or ideas waiting to be made real – I smile each time when I finally use something in a post.

Cincinnati’s murals have always caught my eye – but Resa is the one who motivated me to create posts about them. Resa, thank you for your encouragement. There are many murals that I’ve wanted to visit, but never got there. On the other hand, I have a hodge-podge collection of unused photos to share. Well – I don’t think I’ve used any of these.

Some of these are creations by ArtWorks – others not. Any favorites?

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To see more of my posts about the murals of Cincinnati, click here.

Thanks to Resa (Toronto’s leading lady) whose posts about street art in Toronto and Winnipeg, got me interested in outdoor art in my area. I invite readers to visit Resa’s blog (but tell her I sent you).

On a Beach Walk: #62 (Food)

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

Looking across the water is a reminder that life lives below surface. A large variety of fish, shrimp, clams, oysters, scallops, and more. Of course the listed ones are commonly available food for us to eat. So I wonder, “What’s for dinner?”

Is an ongoing question for you? We ask it, but also laugh about this seemingly eternal question. Although our time at the beach is away from the normal routine of home, “What’s for dinner?” ever looms in our midst. So, why not, I’ll think about food today.

All of us have a variety of likes and dislikes. Some of us are risk takers when it comes to trying different foods, others have a limited menu of preferences. So food: What is it? Why do we need it? When it comes to food, what do living things have in common with each other?

Food – that basic need for all life forms. All the organisms of the sea and the beach need food for the same reasons as people – for nourishment – for the nutrients that either provide energy, act as a building block, or assists in a process. Yes – that’s what carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals are all about.

Food – think of all the cookbooks available – let alone online resources of recipes – all forming a collective of bountiful offerings of culinary delights. Yet, most people limit themselves to a rotation of less than 20 recipes.

Food – Think of the times of our settlers when most ingredients were grown in their own gardens or by other locals. The farmer’s markets of today carry on the tradition of locally grown products, which also seems to carry a greater importance outside North America.

I think of today’s large grocery stores – endless aisles of canned and packaged products that are complete with preservatives, fat, sodium , sugar, and more. Therefore, much of today’s cooking is an act of combining various boxes and cans into a final product.

On the other hand, the food industry today provides fresh fruits and vegetables from throughout the world – a luxury less available during my youth – oranges from South Africa – grapes from Chile – after all, bananas are not grown everywhere.

I think of a time when families ate an evening meal together – and even a more grand meal on Sunday afternoon – whereas today our lives are more on-the-run causing us to yield our food preferences to frozen and packaged products or a wide variety of fast-food establishments.

Today’s life offers many restaurants of a variety of styles and prices without a messy kitchen – well, at least not ours. I find it interesting how cuisines differ not only from country to country, but also from region to region within a country. The fried plate of everything and anything is more common in the US South and the US North. The dishes of northern Italy are different from those of the south.

I think of the abundance of natural food in nature – the corn with its husk but without a label because corn is corn. Let us not forget that corn is a plant – a living thing that also needs food just like we do and for the same reasons. Green plants make their own food by photosynthesis because they can’t catch it or kill it. Animals hunt for food because (and unlike the green plants) they can’t make their own. Whether an organism catches food or makes its own, food’s end result is the same.

Light from the sun is the initial energy source driving photosynthesis, but there are also organisms living in the darkness of the deep sea that can make their own food without the presence of light – but they use the sulfur gases venting into the water from Earth’s core as the energy driving their food production process. Nature’s design is so grand.

It seems food is more complex than many realize, but thinking about food makes me hungry. Besides, it’s lunchtime.  But for now , I continue moving toward the condo because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.