Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 355

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“My week” is about to end. My Week? Yep – this is the week my wife went cruising with a group of ladies. They have a great time. Besides, she won’t miss the cold and snow! Meanwhile, I danced a lot!

After holding such high hopes for two local college basketball teams, the world crashed on Cincinnati last Sunday when both teams losing after having double-digit leads with ten minutes to go. That day may be the worst single day in Cincinnati sports history.

CBS News created a wonderful series called Note to Self – a reflection by famous people writing a letter to a younger version of themselves. Here’s the official website. Many are also on YouTube, so they are worth searching and taking a few minutes to listen. The book version is coming soon.

Given my interest in the relationship between science and theology, my wife urged me to read Dan Brown’s latest book – Origins – which I am now doing. It is interesting … and long.

Here’s a great video that celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. It’s worth the few minutes.

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Talk and policies favoring US isolation and protectionism while trying to be cognizant of a resurgent Russia, a continual growing China, and numerous global hotspots has lessened (and will continue to lessen) the US standing in the world.

Does anyone remember the day of the talk of the Tillerson-Mattis-Kelly pact of if one of them goes, they all go? Well, one week ago Mr. Tillerson lost his job as Secretary of State, but the other two are still in their respective positions. So much for that rumor.

Trumpians like to complain that the Mueller investigation will delegitimize the election. Nope – to me, President Trump won fair and square. However, the investigation is necessary on other grounds.

I recently described (to a friend) the 2016 Presidential Election as the Democrats missing a layup. Because I foresee Democrats gaining in the 2018 midterms, that also sets them up for missing another layup in 2020.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion lists benefits of being a risk-taker.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Dozens of other countries that interfered in 2016 election annoyed Russia getting all the credit
Swans in committed relationship barely even arch necks into heart shape anymore
World’s oldest message in bottle found on Australian beach
Kinky couple has mirror in bathroom
Only 40% of mice have welcome mat, doorway leading into tiny house inside wall

Interesting Reads
A cliff special to geology
Heredity beyond genes
The numbers and gun violence
Seven explorers who vanished
Studying drawings of scientists by kids
Europe’s last pagan nation
(Interactive & article) Global migration since 1990
A view of miracles and science

To send you into the weekend (and as work toward Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction), here’s one of my favorite Moody Blues songs that you may not know. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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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 Thought-Provoking PSA

I was going to include this in the next Opinion in the Shorts, but this is great mental fodder.

While watching the Today show this past weekend, I heard about a Public Service Announcement featuring actress Olivia Wilde regarding World Down Syndrome Day (Monday 21 March 2016). The brief report was about the varying reactions people have about this PSA.

Watching this is worth your time as it stimulates thoughts. What are your thoughts about this video? Praise or criticism?

Here’s a link to Down Syndrome International.

On an Unexpected Connection

Saturday is Dance Day and Down Syndrome Day – thus the perfect opportunity for a post about special people. After all, I imagine many may not see a link between ballroom dance and Down Syndrome.

I volunteer at a weekly dance event that is not only fun, but one with ample opportunities for smiles because it is for adults with Down Syndrome. Some of the attendees are functional enough to have a job, but others aren’t. Some a more coordinated and able to move better freely, but others physically struggle. Toss in a wide range of speaking abilities, it’s quite a gathering of about 30 attendees and numerous volunteers.

My smiles come from an action or something said. From a person running up to me for a dance to receiving a smile given by someone who has difficulty speaking. Simply put, the 45-minute session is a weekly delight in my life.

However, these events are not about the volunteers, but about the attendees. First of all, it’s a social event. They arrive with smiles and race to greet their friends they haven’t seen in a week. That is followed by the power of music and dance as it speaks to them just as it does to the rest of us.

Each week is the same. The 45-minute session starts and ends with the same song – the group’s theme song – a version of Over the Rainbow to which everyone dance a group routine. After a line dance or two, the instructor reviews the dance, and then a song plays for dancing. Another song for the same dance is the sign to change partners. The pattern stays the same through Rumba, Salsa, Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha Cha, Tango, and Merengue – with the latter quickly morphing into a predictable conga line. After another line dance or two, the session ends with the same theme song that started it all.

I want to toast several of the attendees for the joys they give me.

  • To T, one of the better dancers, and one with an infectious smile and positive attitude
  • To K, whose quiet nature always answers question and giggles
  • To S, who is always smiling and laughing as she thinks I’m a bit crazy
  • To C, who best communicates to me through her eyes and smiles that make me melt on the spot
  • To J, who runs to me with a smile for a salsa or cha cha
  • To R, who insists on being a lady
  • To Teddy, one that I’ve written about here before, whose positive attitude about life is a role model for anyone
  • To the parents and caregivers for being supportive
  • To Mary, our leader (the blonde in the opening video), and the one who has made this happen

I close with a collection of clips for the competition held last October for these wonderful people. (Because you want to know, I’m in Foxtrot, Swing & Tango sections with contestants 35 & 54 – but I think that’s me in the center of the still)

Other Related Past Posts

On an Extra-Special Event

BallroomDecor

Decorations in the ballroom’s corner

We arrived at the suburban convention center, then followed the red carpet to the upstairs ballroom where we found soft lighting, decorations, and plenty of tables surrounding a large temporary dance floor. At one end and above the floor, on the platform the DJ was checking his equipment from his seat beside the emcee’s podium. The judges’ area was to the left of the platform with forms ready for their completion. The people arriving were nicely dressed … some to compete and others as members of the audience.

The event was a very special sanctioned dance competition with over 30 dancers competing in foxtrot, waltz, rumba, cha cha, salsa, tango, and swing. On this day, the competitors were adults with disabilities – primarily Down Syndrome.

Several weeks ago my wife and I asked the organizer if she needed more volunteers – and she quickly said, “two males to compete” because two contestants needed partners for several dances. I checked our schedule and then accepted … plus my wife volunteered to be on the makeup and hair-styling team …. and the next day I secured a second male.

I only had two short sessions to practice with my partners, but that was enough because the steps were simple and we were not to exceed outside the listed steps. At the competition, organizers placed in heats of 6-7 dancers that allowed plenty of room for both the dancers and the judges on the floor … just like in typical dance competition.

My partners and I competed in four of the seven dances, making the semifinals and finals on three … and even winning third place in one .. but this day was more than that. Yes, it was a competition … yes, there were medals … but everyone one of the dancers were big winners. They loved dressing up, they loved dancing, they encouraged each other, and they appreciated others who smiled, said hello, or shook their hand with a smile … and we support dancers made sure the day was about our partners.

The day was about the contestants, not the dancing pair. The emcee announced each contestant for every dance, but he never mentioned their partner. We were in the program, but after the contestants name. During the awards, contestants received the medals with great joy as the never-mentioned support partner proudly stood by them … and every support partner loved playing second fiddle on a day meant for others.

The story about the organizer and how this group of people came to be is a post in itself, but on this day, my wife and I were very happy that we asked that question several weeks ago about the need for extra help. We smiled a lot on this day and left with a warmer heart, plus I know some tears leaked out of my eyes when the organizer took the time to dance with each contestant.

The next step for me seems logical … that I continue participating as a partner at their weekly gatherings … after all, it’s about them. Through the magic of dance, they see themselves on an elegant ballroom floor … but they probably don’t know or realize what they give to the volunteers. Embed from Getty Images

(Note: It isn’t my place to post a video on the dances, but if the organizer releases them for public viewing, I will share.)

On October 2014

All things on earth point home in old October: sailors to sea, travelers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken. (Thomas Wolfe)

October, the tenth month, but it was the eighth month in the old Roman calendar – after all, octo- means eight

For we in the northern hemisphere, October is about autumn, but to those south of the equator, they are enjoying the emergence of spring

In leap years, no month starts on the same day of the week as October, but during common years, only January does

October ends the same day of the week as February every year, but only January does in common years

October’s moon is known as the Hunter’s Moon

Flower: Calendula, Birthstone: Opal, and the Zodiac signs: Libra (until October 22) & Scorpio (October 23 and beyond)

There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October. (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Sometime in October, all the four major professional sports leagues in North America are playing

Slavs call it “yellow month” because of the colors of leaves, but the Anglo-Saxons refer to October as “Winterfylleth” because at winter begins with this full moon … yet the Germanic use “Wein-mond” for wine month

Neil Gaiman wrote a story personifying the month in his collection Fragile Things entitled October in the Chair

Some movies with October in the title: October Sky, Hunt for Red October,
The October Man, First Monday in October, The Hunt for Red October, Mr. October, October Sky, and October

Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill–several thrills? (L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables)

October is the month to increase awareness for AIDS, Antidepression Death, Blindness, Breast Cancer, Caffeine Addiction Recovery, Domestic Violence, Down Syndrome, Emotional Intelligence, Dyslexia, Eye Injury Prevention, Fair Trade, Global Diversity, Audiology, Chiropractic Health, Critical Illness, Cyber Security, Disabilities Employment, Depression Education, Ergonomics, Liver, Orthodontic Health, Spina Bifida, Substance Abuse, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Work & Family, Rett Syndrome, Workplace Politics, Menopause, and Squirrels

October is the month to celebrate American Cheese, Pharmacists, Apples, Children Magazines, Church Libraries, Class Reunions, Country Music, Eat Better – Eat Together, LGBT History, Free Thought, Books, Bake & Decorate, Arts & Humanity, Medical Libraries, Right Brainers, Spinach Lovers, Cosmetology, Photographers, and Stamp Collecting

October is the month to promote Adopt a Dog, Black Speculative Fiction, Bully Prevention, Bilingual Children, Church Safety & Security, Co-op Awareness, Energy Management for Families, Halloween Safety, Health Literacy, Home Eye Safety, Strategic Planning, Walking to School, Intergenerations, Long-Term Care Planning, Animal Safety & Protection, Crime Prevention, Dental Hygiene, Family Sexuality Education, Kitchen & Baths, Hearing Protection, Gourmet Adventures, Car Care, Tackling Hunger, Window Covering Safety, Organizing Your Medical Info, Self Promotion, Reading Groups, and Toilet Tank Repair

October is the month to appreciate bats, caramel, chili, cookbooks, field trips, popcorn, pork, roller skating, seafood, pizza, sausage, pretzels, desserts, apples, pickled peppers, tomatoes, cookies, and pasta

October is the month to Embrace Positive Attitude, Vegetarians, Family History, Hispanic heritage, German-American heritage, Polish-American heritage, and Italian-American heritage (yea me – Do any of these apply to you?)

October is nature’s funeral month. Nature glories in death more than in life. The month of departure is more beautiful than the month of coming – October than May. Every green thin loves to die in bright colors. (Henry Ward Beecher)

On a Special Teddy

All of us place friends in groups as high school friends, college friends, work friends, neighborhood friends, church friends, and other … well, and not surprisingly, we have dance friends. Ballroom dance has introduced us to many good people, but Teddy is the one who stands out the most for me.

The first time one sees him doing something – you laugh, but with a smile. The more times I see him – I still laugh and smile – but the heart also glows. The more I watch him and now interact with him and learn more about him, I believe he is a special gift for all.

Teddy is a native Cincinnatian who has become a local celebrity, and has even received national exposure. However, through it all, he’s absolutely the same person that he was before the madness started.

From local articles, local television stories, and time with his (and my) favorite baseball team to attending the State of the Union as Speaker Boehner’s guest. From escorting two beauty queens (one on each arm) to speaking engagements and dance exhibitions. From a recent ESPN special segment to a shorter version ABC World News with Diane Sawyer (an America Strong segment), and to the latest as he’s now part of a Topps baseball card collection … and through it all, Teddy remains who he is … an example for everyone.

Teddy Kremer is not a kid, but a 30-year-old man. As a swimmer, ballroom dancer, and equestrian, he’s an athlete. Regardless how one knows him, all who he has touched agree that he is special because he demonstrates what we should be – kind, positive, appreciative, personable, loyal, joyful for life, and other characteristics.

I hope you take the time to watch this 12-minute story created by ESPN, and I have no doubt that Teddy will make you laugh and smile. After all, this video (just like Teddy) makes me laugh and smile, but in the end, I always shed a prideful tear … thus, I look forward to seeing him again on many Thursdays at the dance studio.