Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 408

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This weekend’s concert features the solo careers of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young. Tip: Especially for those using live recordings, keep the others off the stage! Concert time is Saturday at 1:00 AM (Eastern US).

Stage crew has a fast turnaround because another concert is next weekend (3rd Aug) featuring the Doobie Brothers.

Cincinnati actually had about a string of days of pleasant weather!

I greatly enjoyed last weekend’s golf tournament The Open (aka British Open). The subplot of Northern Ireland hosting, an Irishman winning, and the crowds appreciating the event heightened my interest. It was only the second time the event was held outside of England and Scotland.

I had a good surge in my golf league’s second session – but, I fell short.

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Despite Robert Mueller’s prior statement that he would stay within the scope of the written report, House Democrats decided to go down the path that would ultimately (in my view) cost them votes. House Democrats continue to lead the way for re-electing an incumbent from the other party.

The Mueller testimony to House committees demonstrated the following:

  • Elected representatives have a greater interest in representing their party’s needs over what citizens need to know
  • The art of grandstanding
  • No interest in fact finding

To lead you into this week’s satirical headlines, The Onion provides a pros and cons list of meal kit delivery services.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Pizza crust saved to make pizza broth
Foreign candy has unrecognizable fruit on label
Nemesis has Wikipedia page
Real estate agents trying to gentrify run-down Earth by renaming it West Saturn
Nation’s men holding acoustic guitars announce plan to idly strum while you try to talk to them
Science class learning about harmful effects of sugary sodas by submerging classmate in Coca-Cola for a week

Interesting Reads

Paradigm shifts
Future of work in America
Is college too easy?
Asimov and creativity
Did Neanderthals speak?
Ranking villains of Bond – James Bond
(Graphic) Countries owning the US debt
(Graphic) Bullshit rankings by country and demographics
(Pictures) Led Zeppelin’s first concert

To send you into the weekend, here’s a throwback to 1982. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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On a Beach Walk: No. 52 (Sight)

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

I think of our eyes – those two moveable spheres on the front of our face looking straight head while other organisms have them on top of their head.

I think about the importance of the eyes in balance – the way we keep our eyes on the single rail as we attempt a balanced walk on a railroad track.

I think of the eyes and the sense of sight that they initiate. That upside down, mirror-reversed image that red, green, and blue sensors on the retina of each eye detect – and these messages are the ones that our brain interprets and puts it together as the one image of what we see.

I think of sight as the one sense most of us fear losing. Some of us have lost the sight that others never had while others have experienced threats their eyesight. Ever wonder how people cope with losing vision after they had it?

Ever wonder what those with a visual abnormality see? The colorblind, whether red-green, blue-yellow, or even the monochromatic? Or the limited views caused by glaucoma or cataracts? It’s hard to imagine visual problems for those eyes aren’t mine.

Color is all around us. All the color we see is based on light signals received by those three sensors – yet we see so many colors. Somehow, a person with monochrome vision can be a painter of vibrant color.

Eyesight – that mechanism that puts a world in front of us to see – to interact with, to note danger, and more. But those are only true if we take the time to look – to notice the world and its detail found directly in front of us. Otherwise, we won’t notice what our eyes see. Then again, our biases, perceptions, and distractions influence our interpretation of the visual scene.

Whereas the eyes gather light’s input of our world, our vision is a gift from our mind that is a higher level and purpose of vision. Perhaps this is what Helen Keller meant when saying, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

The eyes – those two small spheres that show emotion, interest, confusion, confidence, insecurity, and more. The locking of eyes can be a special moment – that is transcending what one sees to another level of emotion.

No matter where we are, our lives are surrounded of things to see, but do we take time to notice what is around us – even directly in front of us. After all, awareness is a conscious activity. But for everything there is to see, we cannot see without light.

There is much to see when I walk the beach, and my observations are in many beach walks – but this remains unchanged – I like walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: No. 51 (Hearing)

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

Hearing the sounds of the sea as I walk is relaxing. The sequence of the upswell at the start of the breaking waves to the clap of the crest’s splash to the shoosh gently fading away. I even hear the popping of the tiny bubbles as water caresses my feet.

That sound is repetitive and constant while dominating the beach’s soundscape – but both similar and different with each passing day.

Hearing – the only sense relying on vibrations. The shell of our outer ear captures the sound waves of the sea and then directs those waves that we don’t hear then to the eardrum – causing it to vibrate. – which causes the 3 bones of the middle ear to vibrate – yet we do not hear.

The vibrating bones cause another membrane to vibrate – which causes inner ear fluid to vibrate – then nerve endings specialized to a particular wavelength of sound detect the vibrations – yet we do not hear.

Nerves carry the detected messages to a specialized section in the brain that puts all the messages together into what we hear. Ahhhh … now I hear the sounds of the sea that I enjoy.

I think of the classic holiday song, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” because we apply our own perspective into interpreting sounds. What one enjoys, another may not.

Without hearing, sound is silence to the listener. They do not hear the emotions music conveys. They do not experience the sounds of nature. They cannot differentiate the soundscapes of the beach, the stream, the woods, and the meadow.

They do not hear the words of love, encouragement, support, enthusiasm, and wisdom. They do not hear the voice that gives one peace. On the plus side, they are protected from the political noise of partisan pickering, personal slander, and consistent vitriol.

I think of the animals in nature whose hearing mechanism is like ours – yet some are acutely more sensitive for protective purposes. Dogs have nerve endings for detecting frequencies beyond our upper range, so they painfully hear the dog whistle that we cannot hear. Deer, who detect a slight rustling of the ground caused by a seemingly quiet step by a human in the distance.

Hearing isn’t the same as listening. Some may say listening is sophisticated hearing. Listening is mindful attention to what is said. Listening is focusing on the spoken words, not on what to say in response. Listening is something we give someone – respect – a gift that connects us to others.

Listening stimulates our thoughts. Listening make one better. Listening leads to a great understanding. Listening connects humanity. Listening joins us with nature as we concentrate on the natural sounds while trying to apply meaning.

But, some favor being heard or hearing their own voice. Then again, maybe they simply favor telling over listening.

Hearing – a sense that we value – yet take for granted. Does listening to loud music through headphones at a high volume demonstrate a greater value for music than hearing? But what did I know then – or simply did I not listen to wisdom? Is this a reason for my hearing aids today?
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I have a choice when I walk. I can hear the wind or I can listen to it. Thinking about what the wind is saying or even letting the mind wander and wonder. After all, I like walking the beach because it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 407

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Last weekend’s Crosby, Still, Nash & Young concert provided over 20 songs. The next concert (tentatively 27th July) will feature the same four – BUT only their solo careers. Tip – Keep the others off the stage!

Although I haven’t decided yet, readers may get two beach walks next week.

A professional baseball player dies away from home. The team honors him at the next home game. The players were his number with his name on the back of the jersey. His mother throws out the first pitch – a perfect strike. The team wins the fame – a shutout – a no-hitter. All the day before his 28th birthday. That’s a difficult script to write.

The news is covering the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. Here are several articles of interest for those interested.

A forgotten fact about the first landing on the Moon. The year -1969 – right in the midst of a turbulent social period throughout the world. Yet, the world stopped for this event, therefore humanity was united as one – at least for a brief moment.

For those who like this sort of thing, here’s a site focusing on media bias, which I’ve also added to the Resources section on the sidebar.

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Many refer to President Trump with a variety of names and adjectives: Bloviator, Narcissist, Idiot, Jackass, Asshole, and many more. Instead of inflaming a supporter, I continue to simply say, “He’s a pathetic person, an even worse leader, and he brings the majority of problems on himself.” By the way – it works!

I’m not a fan of the Congressional group known as The Squad, but at least a few Republicans spoke up condemning President Trump’s language about the four female Democratic representatives. Meanwhile, most of the GOP caucus were silent, evasive, or issued shallow statements.

Given President Trump’s controversial tweets about The Squad, I like this headline at The Onion because it speaks volumes about this supporters – who will still be around after he leaves office: Trump supporters worried racist attacks against progressive Democrats just talk

To lead you into this week’s satirical headlines, The Onion gives us some thoughts about the future of farming.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Moon receives standing ovation at Apollo 11 anniversary event
Exhausted Amazon customer forced to piss in bottle while browsing Prime Day deals
Gaming addict attempting to slowly wean self off of real life
MIT scientists successful swap man’s brain with an almond
Mom saving baby pictures for child to use on rap album cover
Man taking unemployment as opportunity to think about how he really wants out of life
Family creeped out by Alexa playing back conversations they haven’t had yet

(My Combo) MIT scientists successfully wean creeped out Alexa off family

Interesting Reads

Plastics as a fuel source
Future work in America
New Coke: What happened?
Picasso’s muse
The race to rule streaming TV
(Photos) Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium (1970-2002)
(Photos) Pictures of Spain
(Graphic) What people stream
(Infographic) The tale of two economies: USA & China

To send you into the weekend from hot and muggy Cincinnati, here’s a song that I like by an artist that I don’t like – but hey – I like the song! Besides, it fits my heat theme. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On La Habana

Click for either background music or watch to get a feel

Note: There is a lot in this post. The more you read, the more images you see, and the more links you follow, the more you will learn. Then again, I understand time is a limitation. Enjoy however you can. 

 

We Baby Boomers remember images of a fun-loving Havana from the 1950s movies. We also remember the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963. Given the latter and the almost 60-year trade and travel embargo, I never imagined visiting Havana, Cuba.

 

While approaching the city, I was anxious with anticipation. The thought of a time gone by with a sea of vintage American cars. A place caught in a time warp. A place of disrepair from years of neglect. A place with unhappy people from years of suppression and poverty.

 

Pulling into the cruise terminal, I was struck by the two adjacent terminals appearing as weathered, empty shells of what they once were.

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I expected vintage cars dominating the roads. Yes, they are present – but most serve as taxis and tour vehicles, which are primarily visible when cruise ships are in port. Yes – old cars (clunkers) are present – but I see them at home. Yet in Havana, I also saw newer cars and vans. After all, do you think the European and Asian automakers are going to stay away just because the US automakers did?

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For our brief stay (10 AM – 5 PM), we spent most of our time on a walking tour of La Habana Vieja – Old Havana.

 

Old Havana allows visitors to engage with colonial Spain. Its narrow streets (many are closed to traffic), pleasant plazas, grand architecture, and an array of colors transports visitors into the past. Shops, vendors, music, and places of work allow visitors to engage with today’s Havana.

Old Havana’s colonial architecture is grand and serves as a sign of its prosperous past. The buildings drew me to Havana’s heart. After all, I love “old city” sectors – especially in Europe – and Old Havana has an Old World feel. Although worn buildings serve as a reminder of the past 60 years, renovations and fresh coats of paint delivered a sense of hope for the city and its people.

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We went into one pharmacy that I would not have known what it was if it wasn’t for the guide.

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Travelling in Florence, Italy about five years ago taught me something very important that has stayed with me when I travel – Look Up! Because people’s eyes tend to focus on eye level, especially looking into store windows, many never see the fabulous sights found above. If you ever visit Havana, look up!

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Havana does have a combination of oddities and time warp.

  • US Credit Cards and ATM cards are not accepted!!!

    Look around for the oddity in this image

  • Visitors cannot receive Cuban Currency in advance!

Tourists have a different currency than the locals. I have no idea how that is managed within its society! CUPs (Cuban Pesos) are for the locals. It’s bills have images of people on them. CUCs (Cuban Convertible Pesos), for the tourists, are obtained just outside the port of entry for a modest 15% exchange rate. CUC bills display images of monuments – so when receiving change after a payment, I always checked the bills because the two currencies are not equal.

Travellers may convert CUCs for currencies when leaving for another 15%. Because I don’t believe British Pound Sterling, Euros, and Canadian Dollars have as steep of an exchange fee – if at all! We came home with a 10 CUCs that we planned to give to a friend who is visiting Cuba in November. A win-win would be to sell them to her for $10 – but what the heck! However, President Trump’s latest travel restrictions changed her cruise itinerary, so she’s not going.

Cubans are economically poor. I could see it in some neighborhoods seen from the ship. Wages are low for most jobs. However, Cuban culture is rich and the people show their pride in their dress, music, food, services, and interactions. I saw and encountered a lot of kindness.

I also noticed that Cubans embrace their past, deal with the present, and are hopeful for their future.

Not only was Havana better than I expected, the sights, sounds, and people collectively worked in sync to captured my heart – so yes – I would be willing to return – well, if the travel door reopens.

I wonder what lies ahead for the nation and its people. Time will tell. For now, it seems capitalism is slowly working into society. Its Communist Party still runs the country, and I didn’t not see signs of that changing.

As the ship departed the port, I again look at those two weathered, gutted terminals – but this time I smiled because I was thinking that they are now being renovated in order to increase the number of spots for cruise ships from 2 to 6 – therefore a sense Cuba is ready to embrace the world – maybe even the US. On the other hand, the current administration wants to keep us distant. Would you want to miss sights like this?

 

Enjoy this 3-minute video of Old Havana by National Geographic

 

We recently saw Cuba, a new IMAX film, during a visit our museum center. The trailer is below.

On a Beach Walk: No. 50 (Smell)

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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, air along the gulf coast has a certain freshness that vitalizes the soul. The salt and a bit of fish or other marine life seems to permeate the sense of smell.

I think about how smell and taste influence each other. The sommelier smells the wine first, then tastes – and smell influences that taste – then the sommelier may smell again, followed by another sip to taste, and then even repeating this cycle of experiencing enhancement.

I think about the times when walking into the house from the outside to be greeted by the aroma of a food feast is in the midst of preparation for a family meal. Smells that we recognize – smells that trigger memories – smell that make our mouths water in anticipation.

I think of the smells many of us recognize – burning leaves of autumn – grilling steaks – newly cut grass – freshness of a flower.

I think of chemistry class as a teacher taught us to wave one hand over a beaker or test tube toward our nose to catch a scent – especially wonderful esters that are part of the flavor industry.

I think of products with distinct smells – whether roses, leather goods, pungent ammonia, or many more in nature and as manufactured products.

I think about how smell and taste are two senses working in tandem to enhance the other. We have many more different specialized sensors detecting smell than taste – yet the wine sommelier uses both to develop descriptors for that wonderful fruit of the vine.

I think about pheromones – the chemicals that living things release outside the body for a variety of reasons as attracting a mate, defense, marking territory, alarm, and more. Although we humans also have natural pheromones, sometimes we chose to add a scent of our choice.

I think about those who cannot smell. What a world they are missing. Yes, they are fortunate to miss the bad and unpleasant – but smells absence is a misfortunate when encountering the flowery, the essence of a spice, the sensuality of freshly-cleaned skin, and more.

I think about how smells are personal. Not only can smells trigger memories, each of us can smell something different from the same object as each of our brains interpret those smells differently. Each of us may associate a smell with a different event in our past – some pleasant, others no so.

Yet, we have something in common. Our smell sensors are in the same location. After detection, the sensory impulses travel to the same part of the brain, which interprets that smell for our analysis – yet we may perceive the smell differently in the analysis

We can walk in the same air, but smell is personal. Each of us my detect something different or interpret the same smell differently.

I enjoy smelling the sea air when I walk, after all walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Weekend Concert with CSNY

 

Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young

The Producer’s Guidelines

  1. Only songs performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young
    Note: At least 2 of the 4 must be credited with performing the song (no soloists)
  2. No duplicate songs
  3. Include the song title in your introduction text so others can see it
  4. One song per person (on Day 1)
  5. 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.)

“Suite Judy Blue Eyes”

 

Next Concert: Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young – the soloists (Date, tentatively 27th July)

Past Concerts (Category): Beatles, Ex-Beatles, Moody Blues, Queen, Neil Diamond, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Elton John, Billy Joel