Pre-Blog Break Shorts & Snorts

The Cincinnati Zoo reported (Tuesday) that Fiona weighs 130 pounds. This is what she does when she’s dreaming.

Monday was Opening Day in Cincinnati. Based on the morning weather reports, we decided to stay dry by not attending downtown festivities … and it didn’t rain a drop! … Damn Obama!

Congratulations of the North Carolina Tar Heels for representing ABK with distinction in the men’s basketball tournament. For those who don’t know, that’s Anybody But Kentucky.

Although their winning streak was surprisingly snapped, a tip of the cap to the UConn Huskies women’s basketball team. Wow – winning 111 games in a row is unbelievable … so I imagine a new streak will start sometime in November.

I enjoy celebrating milestones with a numbers tribute – as the last post was for our 40th wedding anniversary. Our schedule dictated that we go out for a nice dinner the evening before, and it was wonderful. Thanks again for the anniversary wishes.

Count me in on the outcry that penalties should not be based on communication from spectators. The PGA and the LPGA need to put an end to the nonsense!

I can’t recall ever seeing ads on television supporting a Supreme Court nominee. I remain standing firm on my stance of Last Judge Standing, and will continue that position until I feel it is no longer necessary – but I wonder if that will happen in my lifetime.

I continue to avoid watching Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Rachel Maddow. I very seldom read columns by EJ Dionne, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, and Eugene Robinson. Why? … I can think for myself and do not need partisans to verify my position. After all, I have it even better because I have all the partisans to prove my point.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell (JA/R-KY) is threatening to impose the rule change known as the Nuclear Option. I say go right ahead because we citizens need more dysfunction based on partisanship. After all, Former Majority Leader Reid (JA/D-NV) did his share to lead the way by setting an example. Follow the lead, jackasses!

Cheers to Stephen Colbert who makes me laugh at the political chaos. I know he’s a partisan, but he still makes me laugh.

April has a way of being hectic. Better weather gets us outside. Golf league for both of us will ramp up. Working hours will increase at the golf course. Taxes to be filed. The handbell choir prepares for Easter Sunday. Dances are to be done. The Masters golf tournament is a must-watch event. Baseball season has started. A room painting project in the near future. Vacations to plan, and more.

This blog has been very steady for almost 6 months, so it’s time for a blog break. Not sure how I will spend it, so don’t be surprised if I go visiting. For the record, more Beach Walks are to come.

To send you into my blog break, this song goes out to the dreaming Fiona. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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On Cheers of Thanks

I’ve mention the Lauren Hill story here before, but it’s also became a national story than can touch the heart of anyone across the world. In short, Lauren is a college freshman on her college basketball team at Mt. St. Joseph University a small college on Cincinnati’s west side.

During her senior year in high school, doctors diagnosed her with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare inoperable brain cancer. Initially given up to two years to live, her prognosis change to only a few months to live, yet she wanted to achieve her goal to play in a college basketball game … and she did … and my eyes shed tears every time I see this.

Although DIPG attacked her brain, it aroused her heart and spirit, so she took it to our hearts. Through her battle and in spite of her weakness, she continues to hold her head high and focusing on others. She is truly an example for everyone in life, let alone someone who taken on the role of living, playing, and speaking for all those with pediatric brain cancer.

Lauren Hill is someone for whom we are thankful. In the spirit of Thanksgiving (this Thursday in the US) and in the spirit of Lauren, I want to extend other thanks around this situation that haven’t received as much publicity … after all, honoring others is in her spirit.

Embed from Getty Images

Cheers to the Hiram College Athletic Department (the opponents) for agreeing to and supporting a petition to the NCAA for changing the date, giving up a home game,and being willing to travel across the state.

Cheers to the NCAA for allowing the game to take place approximately two weeks before the official start of the season.

Cheers to Mr. Joseph University for honoring their commitment to Lauren.

Cheers to Xavier University for donating the use of their arena for the game.

Cheers to the Hiram players for doing the right thing during the game. Something that the videos here don’t show is how much of they reacted.

Cheers to the citizens of Cincinnati who purchased over 10,000 tickets, thus sold out the arena in 30-40 minutes.

Cheers to Mt. Joseph University for donating the proceeds from the game and merchandise sales to Lauren’s fund-raising efforts against DIPG.

Cheers to the people who lined the streets as the team bus travelled from Mt. St. Joseph’s campus to Xavier’s.

Cheers to Pat Summitt, the legendary women’s basketball coach at the University of Tennessee. Although fighting her own health battle (diagnosed in early 2011 with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease), she attended the game to award Lauren the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award from the United States Basketball Writers Association.

Cheers to Lauren’s teammates because Lauren impact on them will be forever.

Cheers to the national media for promoting this story.

Cheers to the Hiram players and coaching staff who embraced the moment with class and dignity … and I’m sure they will remember the day more than the game’s final result.

Cheers to Fox Sports Ohio for televising a game of a team that normally played before 100-200 people … and additional cheers to the broadcast affiliates from across the country who decided to broadcast the game.

Cheers to Devon Still, the Cincinnati Bengal who reached out to Lauren amidst his own strife … a 4-year-old daughter with pediatric cancer …. and for that special bond, Lauren signed her game-day jersey for presentation to young Leah Still.

Cheers to this touching segment by Tom Rinaldi on ESPN.

See, there are many shining lights in the world for which to be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 87

On David Broder
On Wednesday, we lost Washington Post columnist David Broder to complications with diabetes. I will miss him because of his sensible approach to the problems and issues that he addressed in his columns. Given the crazy atmosphere of the current state of US politics, I (and many others) will miss him. Thank you David Broder for practical view!
Here are two columns about Mr. Broder: one and two.

On a Few GOP Shorts
Is it too much time on their hands, or stupidity? Why else would Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin intensify attacks on First Lady Michelle Obama?

Columnist George Will recently had this interesting column about the GOP presidential nominees.

On the Public Union Debates
The news about public employee unions in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana has been front page for a few weeks. Regardless what the governors and legislators say about budgets and even school reform, these actions center on union busting. Meanwhile, the number of misinformed inaccuracies I read from the public is staggering. One thing for sure, although commonalities exist, each state is different.

On those Flood Waters
At the moment, the Ohio River is at flood stage. Of course, that has a different meaning to those living in river communities. I grew up in one, so dealing with floodwaters was a spring event that interrupted life in our small town. Hmmm … an idea for a future post.

On Women’s History Month
Until I read this post from fellow blogger (and good guy) Al, I didn’t realized that March is Women’s History Month. I encourage everyone to read this.

On Sports Shorts
Something just isn’t right that Ohio State football players received a stiffer suspension that the coach. Isn’t the coach supposed to know better? Although the NCAA may change that, time will tell if the NCAA also sanctions the university. I think they should, but don’t think they will.

Sports polls are such joke. Unlike football and its debacle known as the BCS, basketball fans roll with the polls because in the end, the one left standing in the March Madness brackets is the undisputed champion.

Baseball season is approaching, thus for me, the return of fantasy baseball. I play for fun. The version I play is free, owners don’t deal with one another, and there is no time-consuming draft. Let me know if you would like to play.

On a Different Event for the Weekend
This weekend we (along with the rest of our handbell choir) will attend a handbell convention for a five-state region. This will be our first time at an event as this, so we don’t know what to expect – plus who knows how many ringers will be there. Nonetheless, we are looking forward to the event.

Here’s a wonderful video of two combined choirs in Korea. They are talented and the piece is fun. You should notice bells, chimes, mallets, and a variety of techniques – so I encourage you to watch and enjoy. Have a good weekend everyone!

On the Completed March Madness

In the past week we’ve crowned a college basketball and hockey champions, started baseball season, and witnessed a great Masters tournament. So this post is to ending of another March Madness.

Congratulations Duke – a true national champion that earned it fair and square!

Congratulations Butler for representing all mid-majors and for capturing many fans across the country you appreciate underdogs.

Congratulations to the NCAA for providing a three-week frenzy of upsets, dramatic endings, unbelievable athleticism, and so much more – including a true national champion.

Congratulations to my alma mater, Bowling Green, as the Falcons continued one of the longest streaks in the country for not making it to the first round (since 1968).

Congratulations to my MA alma mater (Cincinnati) for getting one NIT win – yet seemingly so far away from what was not all that long ago.

Congratulations to Bob Huggins and his WVU Mountaineers. Besides still being special to many UC Bearcat faithful, he also guaranteed ABK would win the tournament – Anybody but Kentucky.

Congratulations to the NCAA for continuing to ring the register of its recognized cash cow. I wonder how they can make even more money? I wonder if they will do something incredibly stupid for the sake of money?

On March Madness Brackets

We have 64 teams, and 63 games later, the NCAA crowns a legitimately recognized national champion of college basketball (none of the BCS crap!).

Last year I provided picks at the opening of each round, which is different than fill-the-bracket-from-the-start. For whatever reason, last year I started in the second round and did fairly well 25/31=81%).

Now my percentage is much better than the graduation rates of many teams; and way above schools as Kentucky (31%), Cal (20%), Baylor (36%), Georgia Tech (38%), Louisville (38%), Tennessee (30%), Washington (29%), and Maryland – a pathetic 8%.

At the same time, I am below teams as BYU (100%), Marquette (100%), Utah State (100%), Wofford (100%), Notre Dame (100%), Duke (92%), Lehigh (92%), Vermont (92%), Villanova (92%), and Butler (90%).

Without further adieu, it is time to step up to the plate for round 1.

Midwest: Kansas, Northern Iowa (upset), Michigan State (upset watch), Maryland, Tennessee, Georgetown, Oklahoma State, Ohio State

West: Syracuse (upset watch), Gonzaga, UTEP (upset), Vanderbilt, Xavier, Pitt, BYU, K-State

East: Kentucky, Texas, Temple (upset watch), Wisconsin (upset watch), Marquette, New Mexico, Clemson, West Virginia

South: Duke, Louisville, Texas A&M, Siena (upset), Notre Dame, Baylor, Richmond, Villanova

On to College Basketball

Now with the college football now over, basketball takes the spotlight for the next few months. Although one thing the two have in common is  both polls are both are full of bias and favoritism, at least college basketball ends the season crowning a legitimate national champion – none of this mythical B(C)S.

Here in Cincinnati, the years when Bob Huggins coached the Bearcats were wonderful. Although I recognize that Huggs is no longer here and Coach Cronin’s teams are improving, this moment below is still one of my favorites.

Because the audio is so lousy on this clip, let me set the stage. ESPN was in town to broadcast the first practice of the season known as Midnight Madness. Robin Roberts was in the booth and Dick Vitale on the floor introducing Cory Clouse – a UC student shooting for a one year scholarship of tuition, room, and board … and the ever-animated Vitale offers to thrown in free books. Enjoy!

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 42

On Fort Hood
First and foremost, thoughts and prayers to everyone associated with the Fort Hood tragedy.

On the Recent Election
What is the meaning of some Republican gains this past Tuesday? The answer is simple – nothing. One or two special Congressional races don’t change a thing. As we head into the first mid-term election, let us not forget that the opposing party made Congressional gains on the after the first two years of Presidents Reagan and Clinton.

On the Broadening GOP Tent
As GOP leader Michael Steele about broadening the party’s tent and acceptance of others, I want to know how he can accomplish that with statements like this.

Candidates who live in moderate to slightly liberal districts have got to walk a little bit carefully here, because you do not want to put yourself in a position where you’re crossing that line on conservative principles, fiscal principles, because we’ll come after you.

In the words of infamous orator Buggs Bunny, “What a maroon!”

On Interesting Local Hoops Connections
Cincinnati is fortunate to have two solid college basketball programs within its city limits – UC and Xavier. Interesting both head coaches are not only graduates of the school they coach, both worked their way up through the ranks at these schools, and both graduated from local high schools.

On Upcoming Handbells
Our handbell choir performs again this weekend. Unfortunately the tune doesn’t exist on YouTube, so here’s a lively audio recording of Fantasia on Forest Green. Don’t let the calm beginning fool you.

On the Upcoming Weekend
With the weekend upon us, in the words of Garrision Keilor “Be well, do good work and keep in touch.”

On the BCS
For those who haven’t seen the latest edition of the BCS Committee meeting from the Global Sports Fraternity.