Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 334

Cincinnati Zoo image

This is one of the first family pictures of Fiona with her parents (Harry and Bibi). For whatever reason, I see The Simpsons in this photo. Fiona continues to make great progress as well as integrating with her parents. For more photos and information, see these short updates from the Cincinnati Zoo.

Thanks for writers and readers involved with the Footprints Challenge. I appreciated the variety of the 14 stories (to date), which included 3 from newcomers (a pleasant surprise) – although my intent was not to expand my audience. A toast to the Canadian contingent that provided 5 stories. Special thanks to Dale who read and commented on all the stories.

If all goes as planned, a beach walk should return next week.

We recommend the movie Baby Driver. It was fun, fast-paced, and action-packed, and loaded with music accompanying the action.

The Middle East has been an unsettled mess for many years. Here are three articles worth readings: by Marc Ginsberg, by Aaron David Miller, and by the Washington Post.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (RJA-KY) says that (if the Senate bill fails) he will have to work with Democrats to strengthen the health care insurance market. I have two comments: Too damn bad, Mitch … and … No shit, Sherlock.

Yes, gerrymandering of district lines is a problem now, and has always been a problem. Democrats complaining about it forget they are also guilty; and Republicans forget they would also be complaining if the Democrats did the same thing.

I found this statement more than odd when I first heard it and it has stuck with me ever since. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” (Donald Trump, July 27, 2016)

Got to love this one. President Trump recently described his performance as having done “more in five months than practically any president in history.”

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion explains how to recover from embarrassing situations.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Mariana Trench once again named worst place to raise a child
New iPhone app alerts users to imminent sidewalk collisions with other iPhone users
done more in five months than practically any president in history
Blindfolded taste test participants keep knocking over bottles of soda
Late-arriving guest encouraged to load up on food that has been sitting in sun for past 4 hours

Interesting Reads
European migration with Europe
Contrasting capitalism: Apple and Google
The underwater world of Antarctica
The road of 1000 stories
Big Ben: The bell
(Photos) Weird but amazing bridges

For your weekend entertainment, this is not my favorite mashup of dancing scenes from old movies, but it is a lot of fun – and Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling fits. Enjoy! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 332

When I published my return post, it was nice to see the spike on the graph of daily statistics. More importantly, it was great get to comments from friends all of the world. Thanks to all for the kind words and welcoming return.

I hope to announce a writing challenge in the next edition of this series.

Baby Fiona, (Cincinnati Zoo’s rock star baby hippo) continues to make great progress. Fiona now has a beer named after her, she is featured in a set of playing cards (we have), and continues to be a media darling. She does not regularly appear at the zoo’s exhibit, but she is making great progress bonding with her mother (Bibi) and father (Henry). Below are several links for videos.

With Amazon bid to purchase Whole Foods, this short clip (1-minute) is perfect.

 

In a pile of recyclable materials at a recycling center, what color do you think is the most dominant? (Answer later in this post.)

My wife and I are still enjoying ballroom dancing. Big news would be that we have changed instructors, and a big thumbs-up to our new one.

Did you know:

  • Otto Warmbier, the college student detained in North Korea who returned to the US in a coma and then died within days, was a Cincinnatian. I happened to be in his community the day before his funeral … and the trees lining the streets had blue and white ribbons tied around them.
  • Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), the congressman who first attended to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) at the unfortunate, despicable shooting, is my representative.

Cardboard brown from all the shipping boxes is the most common color in a recycling pile. This has changed through the years, and given all the online purchasing people do today, this shouldn’t be surprising.

American politics is not only frustrating, but is also has become a waste of my time and energy. It reminds of playground squabbles in order to see who gets their way, which actually solves nothing more than determining who gets their way – but this doesn’t mean I’m completely disengaging! No matter the political party, this is what I hear when politicians talk.

I’m no longer listing items for blaming former President Obama because (by now) realizes that he is responsible for everything wrong in the world over the past 10 years and for all ills to come over the next 30 years.

President Trump is a bully who disregards the institution and traditions of government because he thinks he is king.

After the House vote on the Republican-written health care law (AHCA) designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare), I wrote these words to Rep. Wenstrup after the Cincinnati Enquirer published his column.

Thank you for sharing your story of the health issues in your family as well as your point of view concerning the ACA and the AHCA. You should know that as a political independent, I characterize your “Yes” vote for the AHCA without an assessment by the Congressional Budget Office as incompetent and a prime example of favoring the interest of your party over serving the best interests of the people in our district and all Americans. Health care and health care insurance is a very serious issue that demands more than a frivolous attempt based on partisanship and political gain.”

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion explains how cell phones have changed our lives.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Health scare prompts man to overeat healthier
Earth ranked as number 1 party planet
New study finds no long-term health benefits
Man pulling on loose hangnail slowly unravels skin from entire body
Beauty industry exec keeps photo of crying 15-year-old girl on desk to remind himself why he does this

Interesting Reads
Sagan’s baloney detection kit
Continued fascination with Phineas Gage
Tree-climbing goats
A personal view of cystic fibrosis and the benefits of research
(Photos) 91 picture of 91 years of Queen Elizabeth II

To send you into the weekend, here’s a fun song that you may not know. Enjoy! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Special Local Kid

As I have noted on the last two mural posts, Resa (@ Graffiti Lux and Murals) is sponsoring her own Kid’s month. Although she has mainly featured murals, the idea just came to me that Cincinnati is home to a very special kid and has turned into a local celebrity during her short life.

She was born prematurely on January 24th and has required special care ever since. As a matter of fact, her care team is attempting to do something that has never been done.

Meet Fiona, the baby hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo. She was born 6 weeks early at 25 pounds (11.4 kg) and 29 pounds (13.1 kg) underweight.

Photo by Cincinnati Zoo

Her special care has involved being on oxygen, receiving a special milk, and more. Besides, baby hippos nurse underwater. Keep in mind that the zoo is flying blind on this because raising a premature hippo hasn’t been done before.

Here are her first steps.

Not only is Fiona’s progress news here, she has a global following. Below is the latest article about her and a link to the Cincinnati Zoo blog to follow her progress.

Like any kid, Fiona loves to play in water.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 307

Last Friday my wife and I went to US Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. It was her first visit to one of the finest government museums outside of Washington, DC … and admission is free.
In this recent editorial in the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Director of the Cincinnati Zoo ended his column with these words: You can sure tell who your friends are when the chips are down. I continue to wonder why they lack of outcry for the killed alligators at Disney World in Orlando.
Golf’s U.S. Open ended last week with a bit of a controversy that (fortunately) didn’t affect the outcome. With other sports using video replays to get the correct outcome, I have no problem with golf using today’s technology. However, if a player only gets 5 minutes to find a potentially lost ball, rules officials should only get 5 minutes from the time of the potential infraction to make a ruling. Doing so hours later or at the conclusion of the round is a problem that could lead to future problems.
I’ve known many people from Cleveland and its suburbs. Heck – I even married a Clevelander. I can also remember the last time the city won a major sports championship (1964). With their recent basketball championship, The Onion does what The Onion does.
I look forward to the results of the EU Exit vote (BREXIT).
Our introductory class in Argentine Tango is over – and the class was a lot of fun – so we may willing to learn more.
One more act in Colors: The Musical – and it features songs with “White” in the title. Any ideas why I saved this color for the last act? Hint: See Act 1. See you this coming Tuesday (28th June) at 9:30 pm (Eastern US).
No Explore post this weekend.
Last week I called for a national conversation around guns. This week, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate demonstrated the need for my request – and of course the partisans shun the idea by digging their heals into the stance.
I recorded the recent Libertarian Town Hall (on CNN), and I look forward to watching it when I get a chance.
People who follow elections realize Ohio is a swing state – and polls currently show a toss-up race. Here’s a short list that outsiders may not know about the Buckeye State.
  • Ohio is a strong Tea Party state. Even our Republican governor (Kasich) has bucked them.
  • The Cincinnati area has high viewership of reality shows.
  • Donald Trump’s personality fits with a large portion of the state.
In my opinion, American politics is off the rails – so this article from The Atlantic is interesting.
This week’s aFa Power Rankings for Donald Trump’s running mate: 5) Nikki Haley 4) John Kasich, 3) Chris Christie, 2) Jeff Sessions, 1) Newt Gingrich
The first week’s aFa Power Rankings for Hillary Clinton’s running mate: 5) Xavier Becerra, 4) Andrew Cuomo, 3) Thomas Perez, 2) Elizabeth Warren, 1) Tim Kane
To lead us into the satire portion of this post, The Onion provides etiquette tips for wedding guests.
Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man getting futon all dolled-up for Craigslist photoshoot
Late-arriving guest encouraged to load up on food sitting in sun for past 4 hours
Man at amusement park gets right back in line for another funnel cake
Family mercifully pulling plug on grandfather unaware they are sending him directly to hell
WalMart considered part of town’s late-night dining options
Grizzled fast-food junkie moving on to harder dipping sauces
Cincinnati has been crazy about Jimmy Buffett for many years. Because he was in town this week, he’s a good choice to send you into the weekend. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 305

For those enjoying the Cincinnati murals, here’s an article (with images) about the latest additions.

To my Muslim readers, best wishes as you start Ramadan.

The passing of any life causes us to reflect about that life – and the passing of Muhammad Ali was no exception. I was a teen when he became champion, and I know I didn’t understand much about him. But over time, my respect for him grew – and watching him light the torch at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta was quite the surprise. I salute a great ambassador for humanity. Here’s a gallery of images about his life from the BBC.

In this week’s post about the gorilla incident at the Cincinnati Zoo, I mentioned this editorial by the Toledo Blade calls for boycotting all things Cincinnati. I wrote to the paper’s editorial board to issue a challenge, but (as I expected) no response. After all, I want them to practice what they preach. I challenged them to the following:

  • Encourage the people of Toledo to
    • Not shop at any of the 12 Kroger grocery stores in Toledo
    • Not shop at Macy’s
    • Not purchase any Procter & Gamble products
    • Never come to Cincinnati, attend an event, eat at a restaurant, stay at a hotel, or even stop for gas as they travel south on I-75
  • Ask all retailers in the Toledo area (especially Kroger, CVG, Walgreen, Walmart, and Target) to remove all Procter & Gamble products from their store shelves
  • Encourage the University of Toledo and the Toledo professional hockey team to cancel games with Cincinnati teams

An idea: The Cincinnati Zoo could lead the way by enclosing pedestrian walkways in wire to keep visitors contained.

There are different types of tango, but our ballroom time has been with American tango. Argentine tango is different, so we decided to attend a 3-week group class. In week 1, the instructor focused on walking – then sent us this video of a couple doing an Argentine tango routine focusing on walking. Wow … now that is making simple look great.

That couple competes at a very high level. For those who what to see one of their routines, click here.

My favorite golf tournament (the US Open) is a week away. Oakmont is hosting the tournament, so given the USGA’s recent record of setting the course, I will be interested to see what they do to this fabulous golf course.

After a delay of a week, Colors: The Musical returns next week featuring songs with a color shades in the title. Curtain time will be at 9:30 pm (Eastern US) on Tuesday, June 14th. Here are the key rules.

  • No songs with any of the following colors in the title: Black, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, Purple, or White in the title.
  • Shades should be an acceptable shade name, therefore caution should be used when selecting a shade.
    • Just because the shade is used as a paint color doesn’t automatically qualify the entry.
    • To make matters worse, The Producer has the final say on if the submitted shade is acceptable.
  • No duplicate shades can be used. In other words, once an acceptable song with Puce in the title has been submitted, no other songs with Puce in the title will be acceptable.

If I can get it ready, there will be an Explore post this weekend.

Public service is about serving the people. Politics is about serving the party. Unfortunately, much of public service is about politics.

Congratulations to Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for coming the presumptive Democratic nominee.

I find it interesting the ardent supports of Donald Trump (R-NY) continue to find scapegoats for his lying, harassment, disrespect, and lack of knowledge on issues. Then again, they are simply following the actions of their leader.

This week’s aFa Power Rankings for Donald Trump’s running mate: 5) Nikki Haley 4) Jeff Sessions, 3) John Kasich, 2) Bob Corker, 1) Newt Gingrich

The first week’s aFa Power Rankings for Hillary Clinton’s running mate: 5) Julian Castro, 4) Sherrod Brown, 3) Mark Warner, 2) Tim Kane, 1) Thomas Perez

We are already getting many televisions ads from both sides in the campaign for the contested Senate seat (Portman/Strickland).

To lead you into your weekly dose of satire, The Onion explains what our planet will look like in the year 2100.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Antidepressant Medication Label Reminds Users That Pill Should Never Be Mixed With Long Look In Mirror
U.S. Consumer Confidence Shaken After Mom Buys Wrong Kind Of Tortilla Chips
Man Who Sees The Good In All People Universally Despised
KFC Manager Wants Bucket On His Desk By End Of Day
Governor Urges Calm At Toyotathon

Interesting Reads
Zachary Taylor and death to the Whigs
The right to try experimental drugs
Maneuvering Heimlich
A brief history of pirates
New water-saving techniques
Global trends with renewable energy
The UK’s oldest handwritten note
BBC’s look at the US media-Donald Trump addiction

Summer has arrived for those of us in the northern hemisphere, so here’s Glenn Frey to send you into the weekend. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Gorilla

Image from the Cincinnati Zoo

Image from the Cincinnati Zoo

The recent incident at the Cincinnati Zoo is known throughout the world. Because I proudly wear my Cincinnati heart on my blogging adventures, I’m sure I popped into the mind of many readers when they heard the news.

What happened here was tragic on many levels. I can’t image the terror in the mother’s mind – let alone what the child was thinking when with a large gorilla so close. Zoo officials hurt – and the members of the zoo’s response team must have extremely heavy hearts.
We hear about the incident everyday on the local news outlets, let alone the information we receive online. There is a lot of finger-pointing, shaming, and general noise by many from all corners of the world – which include death threats to the parents, harassment to a bystander who witnessed the event, countless comments of various degrees in social media, and this editorial by the Toledo Blade shamed its own zoo direction and called for boycotting “all things Cincinnati” as well as firing our zoo director. Bottom line, most of the crap is noise by clueless people.
I’ve never been a parent, but I imagine many parents have had moments when a child gets away – that is, creating a “bad parent” situation – such as the child who almost gets hit by a car or gets into something they shouldn’t be. That has to happen to many – but I acknowledge, maybe not to this extreme.
This is a sad and unfortunate situation – one when zoo officials were placed into a lose-lose situation – and chose to do something they are against doing. Although I admit my first thought was wondering a phrase starting with, “how could the parent” – I continue having a difficult time with the mere thought of charging the mother with a crime – and I still have the deepest thoughts for the zoo employees who absolutely love animals.
The words below are from an editorial in the Cincinnati Enquirer written by Opinion Editor Cindi Andrews. They were meaningful to me when I read them on 31 May and they are still meaningful today.
Amid the blame and social noise, let’s pause to be thankful that the child is OK and to truly mourn the loss of another life, not so different from a human one. That doesn’t happen on a smartphone or a computer. It happens quietly, perhaps by remembering a past trip to the zoo or thinking about our relationship with the animal kingdom.
Let us remember in our thoughts and prayers those zoo workers who knew Harambe so much better than us, and had to witness or even have a hand in his death. As a child wrote in a sympathy card left at the zoo: “We are so sad that you had to kill one of your gorillas – we love the gorillas.”
In Harambe’s memory, let’s take a moment to let go of anger and simply be sad.
As the finger pointers, shames, blamers, and cranks concentrate their efforts on the mother, Cincinnati Zoo, the zoo’s director, I find it interesting that these same people are very quiet the bigger issues at hand – the protection of gorillas in the wild, action against poachers and hunters, the protection of their nature habitat from logging, farming, mining, and other forms of human expansion.
To close this post, I’m linking several resources that confront the issues I mentioned above – World Wildlife Fund, Mbeli Bais Study, and the newly formed Harambe Fund – but personally, I’ll still dealing with the impact of the actual situation on me. So, I close with two readings from the Cincinnati Enquirer and one from the Cincinnati Zoo.

On a Martha

Sorry … not Martha Stewart, Martha Graham, Martha White, or Martha Raye. Nope … not Martha Reeves, Martha Plimpton, Martha Quinn, Martha Raddatz, Martha from the Bible. Not even Martha in another language as Marta, Martina, Martine, Martella, Maruska, Marte, or even just simply Marti. I know some are guessing Martha Washington, wife of the first US President – na-baby-na … but this Martha is named the First Lady.

Martha literally means lady, so yes, the name fits. Martha has a royal significance in Scandinavia, so royalty is a suitable adjective, but this Martha isn’t Scandinavian and possibly never visited that beautiful part of the world.

There isn’t consensus on or where Martha was born, but there is no doubt about when and where she died .. nor her significance. This post is about Martha – Ectopistes migratorius – a passenger pigeon.

Living in enormous colonies, passenger pigeons were the most common bird found in the US. Their migratory flocks could darken a sky, causing famous bird painter James Audubon wrote in 1813,

I observed the Pigeons flying from north-east to south-west, in greater numbers than I thought I had ever seen them before, and feeling an inclination to count the flocks that might pass within the reach of my eye in one hour, I dismounted, seated myself on an eminence, and began to mark with my pencil, making a dot for every flock that passed. In a short time finding the task which I had undertaken impracticable, as the birds pouted in   countless multitudes, I rose, and counting the dots then put down, found that 163 had been made in twenty-one minutes. I travelled on, and still met more the farther I proceeded. The air was literally filled with Pigeons; the light of noon-day was obscured as by an eclipse, the dung fell in spots, not unlike melting flakes of snow; and the continued buzz of wings had a tendency to lull my senses to repose. The Pigeons were still passing in undiminished numbers, and continued to do so for three days in succession.

Overhunting, habitat loss, and possibly diseases sharply decreased their population. By mid-1910, Martha was the only remain of her species – and living at the Cincinnati Zoo. At 1:00 pm on September 1, 1914, Martha died. Shortly thereafter, zoo workers packed her in a 300 pound (140 kg) block of ice for transportation to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.

Enter my ties to Martha. Although, I’ve seen her memorials on numerous occasions at the Cincinnati Zoo and Cincinnati Museum Center, in 2014 I posted this image of a mural in downtown Cincinnati. The mural is a project by ArtWorks, a non-profit organization with one aspect being providing murals as public art. (For the interested, here’s a short video about ArtWorks)

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Later, I discovered that the mural is based on a painting by a famous wildlife artist, John Ruthven. His style is not only similar to John Audubon’s, Ruthven’s world has also traveled the globe and is found in numerous museums. Currently at the age of 91, he still resides in the Cincinnati area. In 2013, Ruthven completed an acrylic painting – Martha: The Last Passenger Pigeon.

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In the summer 2013, ArtsWork transformed Ruthven’s painting into a very large mural. Enjoy the time-lapse as Martha flies again.