Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 237

On Politics
This week’s senseless horrors in Ottawa, Canada is just another reminder of our crazy world. My heart goes out to my northern neighbors.

Not that I don’t think Ebola is serious, but I do wonder how much of the fear and discussion is politically driven.

People are undoubtedly disgusted with members of Congress, and there’s no doubt in my mind that many voters will cast a vote against a candidate rather than for a candidate. Unfortunately, others believe both parties are pathetic, thus will stay home because it doesn’t really matter who wins.

Many of the ads of Grimes-McConnell race for the Kentucky Senate seat focus on coal. Interestingly, the coal industry accounts for 1% of Kentucky jobs, plus has been in decline for over 40 years.

Midterm elections in the US usually don’t get much interest from the voters. Nonetheless, outside groups are spending around $4 BILLION dollars on the election.

This is interesting to ponder, but nothing one can do about it … but still interesting. Given the top leaders in Congress (Boehner, Pelosi, Reid, and McConnell) – If you could get rid of 3 (thus only keep 1), who would you keep? Who do you think I would keep? (My answer next week)

Cheers to The Onion for these election headlines

  • New election rules allows candidates to remain completely anonymous throughout campaign
  • Populist candidate gaining support among underrepresented corporations
  • Bitter concession speeches only thing Americans looking forward to in upcoming elections

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Man coasting through life entirely on benefit of doubt
Hazmat worker sees no reason to throw away all this perfectly good food
Pueblo Indians can’t keep pace with area woman’s appetite for earthenware
New census study finds 40% of US population is filler

The Onion’s infographic about tracking Ebola in the US 

Cake left in breakroom without instructions (photo below)

Photo from The Onion (theonion.com)

Photo from The Onion (theonion.com)

Interesting Reads
How to keep your health-care costs in check in 2015
Ebola and the epidemics of the past
(video) Blue eyes: Endangered and on the road to extinction?
How nature sparkles … literally sparkles
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WS) on poverty
The first Olympics games following WW II: London 1948

On Potpourri
I watch my share of CNN, so imagine my surprise when I learned that CNN and HLN are no longer on my system due to contract negotiations.

One of local college basketball players is known for his big hands … hands measuring 11.75 in (30 cm) from thumb to pinky, and 10.25 in (26 cm) from palm to tip of middle finger. Undoubtedly, that’s a big hand!

10 children, 16 grandchildren, 29 great grandchildren, one great-great grandchild, 73 years of marriage, and they died 28 hours apart. Read this touching story about a Cincinnati couple.

Here’s an update on the two local athletic stories that are getting national attention because of cancer. The Bengals have sold about 15,000 jerseys of Devon Still’s #75 … that’s $1.5 million dollars to fight pediatric cancer. Across town we find Lauren Hill, the college freshman hoping to play in one college basketball game before she dies from the inoperable Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). Her small college accepted Xavier University’s offer to use their arena for the game, and Tuesday the public responded by buying over 10,000 tickets less than an hour – that is a sell out. (Story)

I anticipate reaching a milestone sometime next week. Stay tuned!

We saw the movie Gone Girl this week. Whew .. talk about two people deserving each other!

Speaking of next week, I hope to raise the curtain on Act 11 of Life: The Musical next week, which also means I will announce the theme in the next Monday Morning Entertainment.

No Saturday Morning Cartoon this week because I don’t have one ready! 😦

Your weekend celebrations

  • (Fri) Food Day, Bologna day, Sour Day, Black Cat Day, World Development Information Day, UN Day
  • (Sat) Cartoonists Against Crime Day, Chuckie the Notorious Killer Doll Day, Pasta Day, Make a Difference Day, Greasy Foods Day, Sourest Day, Pit Bull Awareness Day, Punk-for-a-Day Day
  • (Sun) Mother-in-Law Day, Mule Day, Visit a Cemetery Day, Privacy Day, Mincemeat Day, Horseless Carriage Day

Last weekend was the first of two weddings for us to attend, so those events made me think of this rock song from the early 80s … White Wedding (Billy Idol). Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

For a Friend

A year ago, the hearts of many were heavy as we received word of the passing of an outstanding lady that my wife and I were lucky to know and call friend.

We last saw her at handbell practice in early November after returning from a week-long Caribbean cruise. She was fighting chest congestion for a month, thus at the end of rehearsal, my wife and another ringer convinced her to escalate her troubles. Later that week she went to the hospital, received X-rays, was admitted, and never returned home.

Being gracious, funny, and a good one to kid, those that knew her, loved her. No matter what she did, she always gave it her best, and with the ability to laugh at herself … and, much too young to leave the living.

We, and the family, thought she would be home for Thanksgiving or shortly thereafter, but the lung cancer was too aggressive and too advanced. I can’t recall ever crying for so many consecutive days – not for any friends or my grandparents, aunts, uncles, or parents. It was very hard for us in this house, and it also impacted our entire holiday season.

Nonetheless, we grabbed our bootstraps, and focused on her husband because that is something we could do here and now. I’m proud of him as he’s done well, and I’m happy with the little part that I’ve played.

Today is the first anniversary of her passing – thus, why I couldn’t do a cartoon post. She wouldn’t be much for the today’s hub-bub, thus would be fussy with me to post as normal – but that’s ok, she’s not here to stop me … besides, I can use this to  kid her again!

I’ve thought a lot of her this week, and even write this with tears – but it’s something I had to do for a good lady.

A few days after her funeral, I posted this tribute to her, as I share a constant reminder I have of her.  Besides, I know I’m a better person today because of her role of a portion of my life – but my wife and I still miss her.

Her funeral was difficult for the entire handbell choir as she was one of us, besides, her husband asked us to play. I still recall the difficulty of that rehearsal for the entire choir, but also his strength and pride through his smile as we concluded at the funeral.

Today is a good time to share this beautiful version of Beside Still Waters we played with heavy hearts for our friend and handbell colleague.

Meanwhile, “Hey up there – how are the butterflies?” (actually, an inside joke for her that I couldn’t resist)

On Movember

Bloggers for Movember is a movement to promote mental health and/or cancer issues. I learned about it from Le Clown, whose post became Freshly Pressed. I promised him then I would do a post, and not that he has soared past Freshly Pressed status and one his way to heading WP, I fear his possible wrath.

While some suggested growing a moustache during this month to support the cause, I had to pass on that idea. After all, I had a moustache for many years. I shaved it on January 1st several years ago. Interestingly, it took my wife two weeks to notice – and that was after someone asked her when I shaved it! Therefore, I’m going the blog post route. I also invite anyone here to join the cause, thus use Le Clown’s post as your guide.

Whether though family or friends, most, if not all, bloggers have known someone had their life shortened by cancer. Some of you may recall this past post when we lost a good friend. We last saw her at handbell practice urging her to take care of herself; then three weeks later we were at her funeral.

At this moment, my wife has beaten melanoma – and we continue to hope and pray for the continuation of a positive tomorrow.

My first close exposure to cancer was in the early 1980s as we lost an aunt – my Dad’s sister. Later that decade, cancer took my mother at an age that I have passed. My dad’s other sister fought cancer before losing her life to other complications. In other words, it’s in my genetic linage.

I cannot proclaim that getting a prostate exam is a memorable event – but I do get it twice a year. I don’t know why, but my urologist likes to talk politics with me soon after entering the room.

Let’s look at the given: 1) My family history; 2)He is so far to the political right that he is almost left; and 3) He is about ready to stick his finger where the sun doesn’t shine … therefore, I am very careful with how I reply to his inquiries.

Men, if you are over 50, follow the advice of Larry the Cable Guy and Git er done. Ladies, if you have a male in your life over 50 that you cherish, encourage them with your velvet-hammer manner. After all, whether timely or belatedly, it’s a perfect way to celebrate Proctober.

On an Aspect of Health

This story started early last November (2011) as we were at our first handbell rehearsal after returning from cruising the southern Caribbean. We only missed one rehearsal, but it still good to see our handbell friends. At the end of the rehearsal, my wife and one other choir member convinced our dear friend that she needed to get return to the doctor to tell them that whatever they gave her was not working.

By the end of the week, our friend and her husband went to the hospital for routine x-rays. Doctors admitted her and eventually diagnosed her with lung cancer. She never smoked and never had any other cancer. We never saw her again as she died three weeks later at age 56. Her passing was difficult for us, and some of you may remember I shared my feelings along this journey – and eventually dedicated this post to her.

This past February I celebrated my 59th birthday – thus I am now older than my mother who passed away one month short of 59. Yes, it was cancer. She smoked for many years, but after a breast cancer diagnosis and a radical mastectomy, she stopped smoking – but in the end, liver cancer shortened her life. I spoke at her funeral, thus recounted that journey in a three-part post starting here (for anyone interested).

Also in early November, a handbell player unexpectedly left the choir because of her out-of-town mother’s health issues. Recently, and out-of-the-blue, doctors diagnosed our former handbell player with lung cancer. That news is relatively new, so we don’t know about her prognosis. Nonetheless, many are shocked.

I find it interesting that we hear so much about breast cancer, yet my wife recently heard that more women die of lung cancer than breast cancer. With the recent news and because I wanted verification, I found this graph from the American Cancer Society. (The full report)

Because the Dancing with the Stars is what got us interested in taking ballroom dance classes, it’s no surprise that we regularly watch the show. We love the waltz, and this one by professionals Anna Trebunskaya and Jonathan Roberts (a married couple) is wonderful; however, as the video shows, there is more to the story. As I end this post linking handbells, ballroom dance, friends, relatives, and cancer, I hope you take four more minutes for this video and consider telling others about this post.

On Cancer News

About 6 weeks ago, the news reported the good and amazing news that deaths from cancer declined. Considering over 20 years has passed since my mother succumbed from her cancer battle, I say Amen to progress. Interestingly, the next week we received news that doctors diagnosed two of our friends with cancer – and one of those friends I would consider in my inner circle.

Here are some of my hopes for them.

  • Hope that they will attack with a determined, positive attitude.
  • Hope for patience with their spouses.
  • Hope for strength and support for their spouses and immediate family.
  • Hope they do not fall into the “why me?” pit of self-pity.

The latter may seem a bit odd, but I still recall a TV interview with a group of cancer survivors during my mother’s battle those many years ago. The survivor simply said, “Why not me? What was so special about me that I deserved to be immune?”

The survivor’s answer was a simple “nothing” – and I related it to my mother. She treated people well, yet she was not special enough for the world to spare her from the battle, and someone else gets it.

Several months ago a friend of mine told me of one of their friend in their late 20s was diagnosed with cancer. Once again, I simply asked the same question. He suddenly stopped to think as the question caught him a bit off guard … then he kept thinking after he relayed my question to his spouse.

To everyone fighting cancer, I pray for your strength and healing – so be strong and keep your head up.

PS: Since the situation involving my mother became a special moment in my life, I invite you to read my story here (a past post).