Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 338

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Carefully observers have noticed that my posting has been a bit erratic and my responding to comments has been very slow. This has been primarily due to the time spent working on the situation of an out-of-town aunt. Thanks to all for being patient, understanding, and caring.

Phase 2 (of 3) in preparing an aunt’s house for sale is complete – so 3+ hour trips should not be as numerous as we enter Phase 3. Phase 2 was definitely the most critical and the most time-consuming .. and we proudly check that box!

I’m hoping November will be better for blogging (visiting and posting) than October.

A milestone: I’ve started the process of receiving Social Security and Medicare.

Blink Cincinnati was an unbelievable success. Hopefully several posts in the future.

Readers here know I enjoy posting about murals in Cincinnati – primarily the ones by ArtWorks. Here’s an article from the New York Times about public art. Thanks Raye!

It’s possible that the song below is the hardest handbell piece our choir has ever played. Our one-shot performance is approaching, so time will tell. “Mixed meter” is a musical term for a piece with different time signatures within the piece. This piece (the one we are playing) changes timing over 75 times. Now that plays havoc on my nerves.

Because this weekend marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, two related articles are in this week’s Interesting Reads.

This season of Dancing With the Stars continues to surprise me. Actor Jordan Fisher and musician Lindsey Stirling have been exceptional. Television personality Vanessa Lachey continues to shine. Actor Frankie Muniz, wrestler Nikki Bella, ESPN’s Victoria Arlen are solid, while Property Brother Drew Scott and athlete Terrell Own continue to improve.

Contrary to some partisans, the situation involving scumbag Harvey Weinstein is not a political issue.

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A tip of the cap to Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA for at least trying to develop a bipartisan agreement regarding the Affordable Care Act – even co-sponsored by 24 senators. Another proposal from a bipartisan group on the House side faces similar obstacles: a group representing slightly less than 10% of the House of Representatives.

I have no problem with a Congressional committee investigating the sale of US uranium mines to Russians ONCE – not over and over – not as a dragged-on affair trying to find something that isn’t – not as a political witch hunt.

I liked this question regarding North Korea and nuclear weapons: Would you rather live with North Korea having nuclear weapons or have thousands killed in the name of stopping North Korea from having weapons?

After 9 months in office, President Trump uses the following strengths to lead the country: bolivating, exaggerating, lying, blaming, defecting, distorting, denying, ignoring, fabricating, and dividing. Cheers to this CNN commercial about two popular fruits.

Erick Erickson is definitely a conservative, but I appreciate his words about the way President Trump is reacting to the crisis in Puerto Rico.

But sometimes the President should be Presidential and getting in the mud is not. The people of Puerto Rico are hungry, thirsty, homeless, and fearful. They won’t hear a lot about President Trump’s twitter fight and it won’t matter to him because they cannot participate in the Electoral College. It should matter to all of us though that the President is so willing to get in the mud and fight back when the mayor and everyone else in Puerto Rico need our empathy and compassion. Sometimes the President just does not need to dial-up the jackass and sometimes he does not need to be defended.

Cheers to recent comments by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), John McCain (R-AZ) for having the guts to call it like it is. Then again, that’s a meager minority.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for organizing a protest.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
New evidence reveals Pythagoras wrote dozens of unhinged conspiracy theories about triangles
Romantic gesture too expensive to waste on current girlfriend
Nation demands more slow-motion footage of running basset hounds
Article nauseous from constant scrolling
Self-conscious panda swears it overheard zookeeper refer to it as “Giant”
Historians discover meditation spread from Ancient China by annoying monk who wouldn’t shut up about how it changed his life

Interesting Reads
Martin Luther and Literacy
Robots and ethics: teachable?
Odd pet behaviors
Historical aspects of doughnuts
Martin Luther’s impact
(Photos) British Press Photographer Awards

For your weekend entertainment, hooray for an early contribution from the Fab Four. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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On Rumba

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Some say Rum’-ba, others say Room’-bah – some spell it as Rumba, others Rhumba.

Real interest in Latin music began about 1929. In the late 1920’s, Xavier Cugat formed an orchestra specializing in Latin American music.

Some dances accentuate the relationship between a man and woman. Rumba is a woman’s dance as she uses her rhythmic, sultry moves to charm her partner. Yep, Rumba is foreplay by dance with the woman controlling the signals.

Rumba first appeared in Cuba during the 1880s as an energetic dance that was a blend of Spanish, West Indian, and African cultures.

It’s initial lewd nature caused it to be restricted to private events.

Forerunner dances of Rumba are Son, Danzon, Guagira, Guaracha, and Naningo. In the 1940’s, Son was a popular dance of middle-class Cubans while Danzon was the dance of wealthy Cubans. Today’s American Rumba is a modified version of Son.

Although Lew Quinn and Joan Sawyer introduced Rumba (the dance) to Americans in 1913, it was a movie of the same name that caused promoted the dance to many – Rumba (1935) starring George Raft and Carol Lombard.

Monsieur Pierre and Doris Lavelle popularized Rumba in Europe during the 1930s – which helped Rumba become a competitive dance in 1955.

Today, Rumba is a popular competitive and social ballroom dance.

The match between the musical rhythms and the body expression of the dancers make Rumba one of the most popular ballroom dances throughout the world.

American-style basics

  • Music: Repeatable 4-beat pattern in 4-beat music
  • Pattern: slow (2 beats), quick (1-beat), quick (1-beat)
  • Steps: Short, compact
  • Hips: Expressive hip motion called Cuban motion

Basic Rumba box step …

… and the basic box with Cuban motion.

Rumba styles today include American ballroom, International ballroom, Cuban, Catalan, Flamenco, African, Yambú, Guaguancó, and Columbian. In general, differences are based on choreography and the music’s tempo.

Night Club-Two Step and Bolero are different dances, but actually variations of rumba

As a “dance of romance”, polished Rumba is a beautiful dance.

… and we end with a Dancing With the Stars version of rumba.

Any thoughts? Which videos did you watch? Have you danced Rumba? Do you think you could learn?

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 317

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With many Americans being in the midst of holiday travel, a safe travels wish to all.

Congratulations to gymnast Laurie Hernandez for winning Dancing with the Stars. How could anyone not enjoy this delightful young lady … and the same for the other finalists (racer James Hinchcliffe (2nd), football player Calvin Johnson (3rd), and singer Jana Kramer (4th)).

Recent years have brought success to my favorite pro and college teams (2) – but 2016 has delivered 3 losing seasons. Ouch!

I recently bottled my first-ever batch of cranberrry-orangecello. Will let you know the reviews next week.

In the case of the trial involving the university police officer fatally shooting an unarmed Black man, the judge declared a mistrial due to a hung jury. Reports indicate 4 jurors were in favor of a murder verdict, 4 for manslaughter, and 4 for not guilty. The prosecuting attorney will refile for another case with hopes of moving the trial to another city. Both ideas are good.

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US presidents live under a microscope. In that light, Mr. Trump must develop thicker skin.

Interesting that Mr. Trump is softening some of his positions. Some are actually flip-flops … oh well, it will be interesting to see how the base reacts.

I had to laugh at the suggestion that the Dow Index passed 19,000 is due to Trump’s election. Just another example of how the partisans entertain me.

With the flap about the Electoral College before and after the election, here’s an interesting viewpoint.

Interesting how a simple question can turn into a partisan discussion. I asked a friend (a GOP partisan) an honest question about the relationship Mr. Trump faces involving the presidency and his business. His answer to my curious question included the Clinton Foundation and witch hunts.

Advice to Democrats – embrace the NASCAR approach – turn left.

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Hamilton Gate
The property prices not increasing everywhere
The mess in my storage area
The Dow reaching 19,000 after Trump winning the election
Stephen Hawking’s prediction dooming the earth

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion explains how clinical trials work.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Collie walked over Lassie’s star when talking picture
Father No Longer Feels Nervous When Walking Daughter Down Aisle
Man’s Recycling Ideals Abandoned During Move
Stealing tampons from office bathroom currently woman’s only source of joy
FDA approves new pasta shape

Interesting Reads
Leonidis of Rhodes
The shortage of prisoners
Link between LED lights and the Internet
Smuggling baseball players
Sacred spaces in the 21st century
Around the world in 12 toilets
(Photos) Faith through a Lens photography contest winners

To lead you into the weekend, here’s an oldie from John Mellencamp. Hope all is well with you, and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 303

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Memorial Day (Monday) gives the USA a 3-day weekend. Here’s an interesting essay published by the Brookings Institute.

Also regarding Memorial Day, this week I heard an outstanding interview with the producer of an independent documentary about the soldiers who stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Besides the trailer below, here’s a link to the movie’s website.

On this Memorial Day weekend, a salute to all fallen veterans of all countries who fought for freedom.

The Zika virus: For real or an overblown concern? Guess we’ll find out.

Season 22 of Dancing with the Stars ended this week. Wow – what a surprise because we think this was one of the best casts ever. Champion Nyle DiMarco was good, but his story was compelling and inspirational (he’s totally deaf)… plus he probably got a lot of votes from the ladies. No doubt in my mind, Paige Van Zant was the best dancer.

Act 7 of Colors: The Musical featuring Brown provided a surprise number of hits. Two more acts to go. I will make the advance announcement someday mid-week for Act 8 on the Hear Ye page.

No Explore post this weekend.

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Modernizing infrastructure is an election-year issue – meaning that after the election, it greatly decreases in importance to the policy makers. This article (from the BiPartisan Policy Center) offers a new model for modernizing US infrastructure.

Finally – after 7 years of complaining, has finally written a health care alternative to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – and is done without repealing the ACA. That point alone is worth congratulating Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

Last week I mentioned about the away-from-the-center movement of both parties. Earlier this week I read this interesting column by Joe Scarborough, who looks at today’s movement through the lens of key Founding Fathers.

In terms of conversations I’ve had with people, the number of people who proclaim they can’t/won’t vote for Clinton or Trump outnumber the number who say they support Clinton or Trump.

This week’s aFa Power Ranking for Donald Trump’s running mate: 5) Chris Christie, 4) Jeff Sessions, 3) Bob Corker, 2) John Kasich, 1) Newt Gingrich NOTE: For the record, I had Bob Corker on this draft list before his Monday meeting with Mr. Trump.

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To lead you into your weekly dose of satire, The Onion provides journalism style tips for all writers.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Congressional Compromise Legalizes The Study Of Stem Cells From Mothers On Death Row
Sixteen deer placed in small room and challenged to not copulate
Belt looks weird on child
Voyager probe badly damaged after smashing into the end of the universe
Fact unpatriotic
Heroic Police Officer Talks Man Down From Edge Of Purchasing Subway Footlong Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki

Interesting Reads
The new digital economy
The shocking 1976 wine tasting event
Is pornography a health crisis? 
A population of three
Heroic cave divers
(Photos) A gallery featuring ruins
(Video, 4.5 mins) A brief history of religion in art

Here’s a two-fer to send you into the weekend. The first is a leftover from Act 7 that certainly is a crowd please … and the second is a song from a legendary rock star. 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. 297

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Thursday was my wife’s last day at work, but she wasn’t there much. We celebrated her retirement and our upcoming anniversary with a nice meal out. For her first official retirement day, we will go out to breakfast … but I have to work in the afternoon.

Although she didn’t respond to anyone, my wife appreciated all the best wishes from the readers here, so she says Thanks to all.  Yep – the majority of the world is good.

As a science person, this scathing commentary directed at the Houston Science Museum caught my attention.

Geraldo Rivera was one of the worst contestants ever on Dancing With The Stars -but not worse that Master P. Then again, he knew he couldn’t dance, so cheers to his sense of humor for accepting the show’s invitation.

Opening Day in Cincinnati to start the season is big – very big! My wife has never been downtown for the festivities, so if the weather is nice, we may go. Meanwhile, it’s been a long time since I’ve been this discouraged at the start of the season about my team … but maybe they will surprise me.

I’m ready for a blogging break – one spending time visiting, writing, and adjusting to my wife being at home – so I will be announcing one in the near future … BUT – there will be a post on Saturday that’s not the break announcement.

Because of the upcoming blogging break, I’m delaying the next act of Colors: The Musical until further notice. I’ll first post the next act on the Hear Ye page.

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Somehow, Donald Trump (R-NY) continues to survive. While supporters proclaim that he says what people are thinking, I wonder this: Is anyone listening? The man is one bluff after another. He continually changes the subject when he has no answer – especially about foreign policy. Lies, exaggerates, and doesn’t know the primary rules in the contest he’s chosen to engage. Passing the buck through blaming others. As many proclaim he’s tapping into the anger of the American voter, I say he’s activating the stupid gene … Yet – I continue to what I’ve said all along that he won’t get the nomination.

The notion of any of the Republican candidates wooing the “Reagan Democrats” is a fantasy because the many (if not most) of the Reagan Democrats are now Republicans and have been for some time.

With cracks in the Republican wall against the process of filling the Supreme Court vacancy, is it possible that the Republicans cave in, then the Democrats reject the idea? The Dems could claim it’s too late in the term, but actually mean they could get someone more liberal by winning the White House. If so, I say a good idea by the GOP, but a lousy idea by the Dems. Yes – an issue that could greatly influence my vote.

We hear a lot about the Democratic superdelegates – but much less so about Republican uncommitted delegates. Interestingly, the role of delegates earned by “suspended” candidates differs from state-to-state.

Meanwhile, the GOP race continues to focus on wives, size of hands, physical contact, lies, and more – and at the least of avoiding important issues.

For those who think it’s time to change the current primary system, NPR provides 6 alternatives with pros and cons for each.

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To lead you into your weekly dose of satire, here a 2-fer of tips from The Onion:

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Bacon added
Questions linger about long-fingernailed man
Area man reports new girlfriend has that new girlfriend smell
Family has strict no smartphone rule while eating dinner in front of TV
Trophy wife slowly becoming regular wife
Report: Most effective marketing technique still giving out little version of product

Interesting Reads
The ancient origins of social media
Being forced to leave – unfortunately
The hunt for Fabergé eggs
The lesser known trail to Machu Picchu
The battle of Pork Chop Hill
Five facts about chickens

To send you into this weekend, here’s one you may not know from Pink Martini. The beginning provides an explanation for Tuca Tuca. 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. 296

Our hearts and support to Belgians this week. Wishing them peace and strength today, in the days past, and in the days ahead.

Hard to believe that an 18-year-old American injured in the Brussels blast was also in Boston (the day of the Marathon bombings) and in Paris (the day of the recent attacks).

Thanks to those who watched and commented on the PSA in the previous post. My weekly volunteer time with Down Syndrome adults has taught me a lot. It’s where I learned how they see themselves as normal – and it’s where I’ve learned to appreciate them for who they are. A parent told me that the video bothered them as a parent. I responded by saying what I’ve learned from volunteering – to which the parent responded, “You’re exactly right. They really don’t see themselves as any different than anyone else. Thanks for pulling me back.”

We recently saw a stage version of To Kill a Mockingbird. Wow – it still carries a powerful message.

Next week is The Right Angle’s last week of work as she is ready to ride into the retirement sunset.

This is a great laugh.

Being in the middle of basketball’s March Madness, my city is lucky to have to top programs within the city – let alone, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) apart. But the way both the Bearcats and Musketeers lost was difficult. Ouch! On the other hand, in my opinion, the torch has passed from UC to XU for having the top program in the city. Nonetheless, by the end of the weekend, only 4 teams will be left.

Season 22 of Dancing With The Stars is off to a good start. Definitely a group with some interesting people. It was great to see Edyta back on the show, but ouch – she got the contestant with the worst rhythm and lowest ability.

Act 5: Green of Colors: The Musical was huge! At the time of this writing we’re approaching 50 songs! Then again, I went a bit crazy in my replies … and that’s before Marina and I start playing our additions game.

On the topic of colors, I understand the cherry blossoms of Washington, DC are in full bloom. Elyse and Duncan would gladly give you a walking tour if you stopped by. Make sure to ask her to show you the two trees that are from the original plantings. But if you can’t join her tour, here’s a video to help you enjoy them.

To those celebrating Easter this weekend, a glorious and happy Easter to you.

No Explore post this weekend.

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Republicans love to praise Ronald Reagan, but a 1980 Reagan would be lousy 2016 candidate … just as he would have been lousy in 2012. Don’t believe it? Just compare the party platforms.

There’s a lull in primary season as all eyes are directed at Wisconsin. I wonder how much money the campaigns and organizations will spend on ads in the Dairy State.

In terms of this summer’s Republican convention, keep your eye on changes involving Rule 40-B.

I called Sen. Portman’s office (R-OH) about his stance regarding the current Supreme Court opening – and yep – I said the stance will cost him my vote in November.

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To lead you into your weekly dose of satire, The Onion offers tips for establishing a campsite.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Chess onlooker sees a possible move
Scissors kills Paper and Rock; then turns blade on self
Volunteer exercises option to stop volunteering
Shit … new girlfriend snores
Stomach sets aside synthetic additives until it has a few minutes to figure out how to digest them

Interesting Reads
The boom in craft beers
The hidden strengths of introverts
The man who sold the Eiffel Tower twice
3-D printing and the blind
Animals of the world (article & images from National Geographic)

Given Blog Musical Week, it’s a two-fer 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 Close Encounter of …

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I recall hearing and reading about the hub-bub between John Hurley and Kelly Monaco in Season 1 of Dancing With The Stars (DWTS) – but I didn’t watch. As a sports fan, having ESPN anchor Kenny Mayne in the Season 2 cast caught my attention – so my wife and I watched DWTS for the first time on January 5, 2006.

We watched the entire show. The next day was the results show, and my wife asked, “Don’t you want to see what happens?” I had seen the first night with Kenny, and that was good enough, but she was curious – so we watched the elimination of Kenny Mayne.

Season 22 (of the 2 seasons per year) starts later this month. Since that first episode we watched, DWTS was the first domino that led us into the world of ballroom dance. We’re still watching the show and still dancing. Who knows how much money we’ve spent on lessons, dances, and shoes – at least I can blame Kenny Mayne.

Long-time watchers may remember Season 2 as it included guests Drew Lachey (a Cincinnatian who won), Stacey Keibler, Jerry Rice, Lisa Rinna, Tia Carrere, George Hamilton, Tatum O’Neill, Giselle Fernandez, and Master P, It also introduced us to professional dancers Tony Dovolani, Maksim Chmerkovsky, Louis Van Amstel, Cheryl Burke, Anna Trebunskaya, and Edyta Śliwińska – the Polish-born dancer who easily catches the eye. Besides, many of us would love an opportunity to dance with the partner of our choice …. Just once! Did you hear that Edyta? Anna? Sharna? Peta?

To those of us old enough to remember the variety shows on television, DWTS is a blend of a reality show of today and the variety shows of yesteryear – especially on the Results Show when top artists perform – such as this appearance by Michael Bublé in Season 9.

Like any business, dance studios aim at making a profit. Every studio has their way of increasing sales, which may include providing coaching sessions. The “coach” is usually an experienced dancer/teacher from out-of-town who is part of a normal lesson – of course with an extra fee. Yes, coaches are an outside perspective providing a new set of eyes for suggestions, but it’s never interested us – after all, we are social dancers who don’t compete.

As part of one of the sales promotions are our current studio, we earned the right for a drawing – and what did my wife select? … a free coaching session. We talked with our regular instructor about the upcoming coaching possibilities, so we selected Agnes. Plus, I took a group class with her last year, so I knew she had a pleasant demeanor … as well as being an attractive woman. (At least I’m honest.) 😉

Early this past February, we had our coaching with Agnes. A wonderful lesson – and I had a few steps with her. In our chit-chat time, I discovered that she’s Polish and now lives in Los Angeles … but why I didn’t wonder if she knew Edyta is beyond me! After all, look at the connections – Polish, dancer, Los Angeles.

Two weeks later, my wife was gone on her girls’ cruise – which meant too much time on my hands – so I searched Agnes. On her website I discovered her personal story of dance and journey to the USA – her dance accomplished as a winner or finalist in the most prestigious dance competitions, and her appearances on Dancing With The Stars.

WHAT? I had in my arms and danced a few steps with someone who has been on the show! My wife and I had a coaching lesson with someone who probably knows cast members – including Edyta! … and yes … in the video above, that was Agnes and her partner dancing to Michael Bublé … and odds are, we watched that episode!

With YouTube doing what it does, I saw other videos, of Agnes and her partner Urs … including the entertaining, unique dance video below that demonstrates grace, variety, speed, strength, versatility, control, and probably more. TIP: After watching up to 2:50, save yourself time by forwarding to 4:50 … and enjoy watching the lady I think of as my Close Encounter of the Dance Kind.