On a Bit of Difficulty

When I get a new piece of handbell music, I check two things: the name of the composer/arranger and the difficulty level

Maintained by the Handbell Musicians of America, the difficulty level is a numbering system from 1 (easiest) to 6 (hardest). (Standards here) The designation may include a plus or minus to further clarify. The level has many functions, one being help directors select appropriate songs for their choir relative to the skills and techniques the piece requires. Our choir normally plays in the 2+ to 4 range, but we’ve played level 5 once or twice.

Capriccio (by Kevin McChesney) is an original composition for handbells – and a level 5. It’s fast and involves irregular rhythms, changing tempos, a variety of techniques, and more. I recently saw the Purdue Bells (from Purdue University) in concert. This choir was large (16 members) – but for Capriccio, it was done by 4 … that’s F-O-U-R players.

The murmur at the very beginning is because they just announced the name of the piece they were playing. Given the audience was hundreds of handbell players, many know the difficulty for a choir of 12-14 players – let alone for 4 people – and that also explains the final reaction. Enjoy these 4 people playing over 30 bells!

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 298

Image from 123vectors.com

Image from 123vectors.com

Greetings! Good to see you again. My blog break went well, but not as planned because I didn’t write much. However, I helped my wife ease into retirement mode.

A national handbell organization had a regional convention about an hour away, so the choir went. Two days of a lot of standing on a concrete floor means tired legs. Our choir had an individual coaching session. We didn’t play our piece well with foreign bells, but we got something out of the session. Meanwhile, we attended a concert where we heard this piece by the Purdue Bells, which is a wonderful way to usher in a new header.

Because of my fascination with images of deep space, this image of the Veil Nebula Supernova Remnant is from the Hubble Heritage Collection at the Hubble Gallery. To see my collection of past headers, click the Past Headers page/tab above the header.

I considered resuming Colors: The Musical immediately upon my return, but common sense prevailed because I value my guests. I’ll announce more here next week, but for those who need to know, see the Hear Ye page.

I seldom reblog my own or anyone else post, but I’m considering doing that with old posts – well, assuming I find something appropriate.

The death of pop music star Prince shocked us. Here’s an article about a secret concert he played in Cincinnati in 1984.

Competitors completed the Boston Marathon this past Monday. Although the news focused on the dominant presence of Ethiopians in the top places, the women’s wheelchair division caught my attention. For the fourth consecutive year, Tatyana McFadden – a Russian-born American won the division. Born with spina bifida, Tatyana spent the first six years of her life in a Russian orphanage without receiving physical therapy and without a wheelchair. Now that’s an amazing courage and determination!

Baseball season is underway and I have the following goals for my Cincinnati Reds:

  1. Win more games than the ‘62 Mets (40)
  2. Not finishing with the worst record in baseball
  3. Have at a team below them in the standings
  4. Finish closer to the team above them in the standing than below them
  5. Beyond this list would be a tremendous success

Because I’m easing my way back into my normal rhythm, no Explore post this weekend.

My wife received this pillow as a retirement gift – and I find it interesting.

PillowAdventure

Columnist David Ignatius wrote this interesting column about the Saudis.

At this point, I can listen to a news conference by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WS) – which is an improved from predecessors John Boehner (R-OH) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Republican senators meeting with the Supreme Court nominee while continuing to block the confirmation process infuriates me even more than the block.

The 2016 primary has been quite bizarre, and to me, the title of this Ruth Marcus column is quite profound – An unpopularity content for the ages.

I find it interesting that the #2 contender in each party have this quality in common: an inability to work across the aisle. According to the Lugar Center – McCourt School Bipartisan Index at Georgetown University, not only do Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have the lowest scores in 2015, each of them are in the bottom 11 of all senators since 1993. Here’s a good question for them: Have do you plan to get Congress to act on your ideas when you have a poor history of working within Congress?

Consider this possibility – Donald Trump (R-NY) and Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) walk out of the Republican convention together to embrace a third-party run.

To lead you into your weekly dose of satire, The Onion offers tips for having your own vegetable garden.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Sixth beer steps in to speak for area man
Universe feels zero connection with guy tripping out on mushrooms
Breeze plays kick-ass riff on wind chimes
Pope Francis worried about job security after butting heads with new God
New study finds humans experience greatest joy when pushing “Skip Ad” button

Interesting Reads
Life-long learning and technology
A century of flight
Animal neat freaks
Augustine of Hippo
(Animation) Battle of Shiloh
(Video) Explaining burning ping-pong balls

To send you into this weekend, here’s a throwback in time with a touch of Bobby Darin and a dose of Prince. 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. 294

This weekend our handbell choir is playing a nontraditional, beautiful arrangement of a traditional hymn – Amazing Grace. A piano is also involved, which for us is our director – so we will play without a director. For those who want to hear a recording, click here … besides, it could be the background as you read this post.

ABC announced the new cast of Dancing With The Stars … and the thought of Edyta rejoining the cast that includes Sharna and Peta has me smiling.

We enjoyed last weekend’s Grand Tasting at the Cincinnati International Wine Festival. We attended one event and volunteered at another. Total attendance for the three Grand Tastings was about 4,000 … and yes, my unofficial observation is that more millennials attended than baby boomers – thus affirming the statistic I recently provided that millennials have become the largest demographic group purchasing wine.

Act 4 of Colors: The Musical has — songs featuring green in the title. Cheers for another great effort.

I will have an Explore post this weekend.

I watched (last week) the first of a six-part series Race for the White House (on CNN). I enjoyed Part 1 about the Kennedy-Nixon race (1960). CNN replays Part 1 Saturday night, and Part 2 airs Sunday night, which featuring the Lincoln-Douglas campaign of 1860. Here’s the trailer for the series.

Next Tuesday gives us major primaries in Ohio and Florida. Votes are anyone other that the favorite son in each of those states is a vote for Donald Trump (R-NY). Rubio and Kasich wins would greatly increase the odds of a brokered convention.

I will NOT be voting in the Ohio primary. Ohio’s voting laws require voters to declare as a party member (at the polls), which remains in effect until the next primary … and I do not want to be associated with either party at this time … so I will be voting only on issues.

Recent polls indicate Mr. Trump losing head-to-head with the other Republican candidates. By staying in the race, the other candidates (Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich) are playing a game of chicken against each other.

A question for House of Cards fans: How would Frank Underwood deal with Donald Trump? Meanwhile, are you watching Season 4? (We’ve only seen Episode 1.)

I heard this quote myself … and listened several times to make sure … Senator Rubio: “I didn’t say what he was saying as I said it one time.” Huh?

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) winning the Michigan primary surprised me. After all, the six polls I saw had Hillary Clinton (D-NY) winning by double digits (11-to-23 point margin).

To lead you into your weekly dose of satire, The Onion explains how to meditate. 

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Horrified investigators find unresponsive legislative body in Capitol building
Zoo hosts contest to name baby of pregnant gift-shop worker
Prima donna species just has to have every part of natural habitat intact
Antique store celebrates 750,000th ‘Oh, Just Looking’
Alien parasite can’t find way out of fat astronaut
Report: More women losing weight with elective bone-shaving surgery

Interesting Reads
Winston Churchill’s spectacles
WW II American airmen
Meat and the brain
Downton going green
(Pictures) Award-winning science photos
(Podcast) A brief history of school discipline

Here’s 2-fer to lead you into the weekend – a leftover from Act 4 and a unique version of a Beatles classic done by a strings duet. Thanks to Cathy (@Large Self) for introducing me to Acoustic Eidolon. 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. 289

Yep – playing handbells is so easy, ___.

Our handbell choir plays this weekend, which will be my first since returning. The song is interesting … slow, a touch of haunting and passion. For those interested, here’s another choir doing the song.

I didn’t have a good week of visiting other blogs.😦

This is Super-Bowl weekend. It’s been awhile since we haven’t attended a party for the game, but we’ll sit back, watch the game, and enjoy the commercials. Without a preference, I think Carolina is the better team, but I would like to see Peyton Manning go into retirement with a win.

Colors: The Musical returns next week. Act 2 features Red, so all songs must have Red in the title. However, no compound words contain red (redbird, redbud, etc) and no shades of red (crimson, scarlet, maroon, etc). Show time is Tuesday night at 9:30 pm (Eastern US).

There will be an Explore this weekend about a person, place, or thing.

Hooray … Iowa is over! I’ve heard multiple Republicans complain about the Democrats’ results, My independent research discovered the following: (Jim in Iowa – Is my capsule close?)

  1. The political party determines the rules. (They can be different)
  2. Just because the opposing party uses a different method does not mean the other method is incorrect.
  3. Since the first statewide caucus in 1972, Democrats do NOT report the number of votes, but on-location caucus leaders determine the number of delegates based on a weighted vote calculation.
  4. Caucus leaders submit the final weighted calculation results and the subsequently elected delegates to the Iowa Democratic Party. (Read about the process here)
  5. aFa conclusion: Complaining Republicans shouldn’t care, thus complain to discredit a particular candidate – in this case, Hillary Clinton (D-NY).

New Hampshire is next. No matter the results, the race is not a sprint. On the other hand, I wonder about the next candidate(s) leaving the fray … but I continue to point to the pivot dates of March 1st (Republicans) and March 15th (Democrats).

There is a bit of a lag after New Hampshire, which will cause some angst to some candidates.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has withdrawn. Republican party rules in Kentucky were that a candidate could not appear on the ballot for two different positions. Because 2016 is election year for his Senate seat, Sen. Paul convinced the state’s party leaders to change the way the state determines the Republican presidential delegates from a primary to a caucus. (thus allowing him to run for president and senator.) Now, the caucus is in March while the primary is in May. I imagine many Kentuckians are confused while others will be surprised when they get their ballot in May. Stay tuned. NOTE: Republicans complaining about the Democrats in Iowa are not complaining about this bit of craziness within their own party.

A good question for the candidates. Governing is much easier when one party controls all facets. If the opposite party controlled the Senate, and other than inviting them to join your ideas, how would you handle your legislative agenda?

Hillary Clinton’s explanation defending her progressive label was very weak.

I decided not to include several fact checks from recent debates. Let me know if you want them.

To lead you into your weekly dose of satire, The Onion identifies the biggest campaign gaffes of this current election season.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Car windows rolled down to let out shitty music
Chiquita introduces easy-grip banana (See for yourself)
Back of library smells like weed
Car alarm turned off just as it was starting to get good
Researchers announce they don’t have heart to reveal what will happen to 1 In 5 women

Interesting Reads
The crumbling of one of Africa’s biggest dams
A BiPartisan Policy Center’s report about improving the Affordable Care Act
18th Century smugglers and the tea cartel
Communicating with only yes and no no
Recognizing the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
(Photos) Winter in northern Whales

To sent you into the weekend, enjoy a touch of high-level ballroom to a Michael Buble song. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Satire Bits: Vol. 116

Greetings everyone. How’s your week so far?

My week started with a planned minor surgery (removing a ganglion cyst from my lower leg). Although the worst part was arriving 2+ hours early, I’ll take it easy for a few days, which include no ballroom. On the other hand, I have time to a) prepare the next act of Life: The Musical, b) wrap the gift bags for the 2014 aFa Holiday Gathering (date TBA), and c) try to catch up on visiting your blogs.

This week will always be one that touches our hearts with memories as Monday has the 3rd anniversary of losing this wonderful friend (tribute post), while Tuesday was the 1st anniversary of my mother-in-law’s (MIL) passing (tribute post with good music). For me, I look back at the positive reminders that each of these ladies gave me. Meanwhile, I talked to the surviving spouse on Monday, plus we went to dinner with my father-in-law on Tuesday. Here’s a handbell piece that we played for our friend and fellow ringer above, plus my MIL would have loved it.

Enough of that, after all, the mid-week posts are about boosting your energy. Because the holiday crazies have begun, so it’s time for my annual video demonstrating frantic. Besides, I know Eleanor loves this video … and that crazy woman will get up, move, and shake it to this tune.

Now that the music is done, it’s time for your mid-week dose from The Onion. As is the custom, those desiring an extra challenge can create their own satirical headline by using the words from the headlines below. It’s easy, just think nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, and whatever parts of speech you need – but you can only use the words below. My “combo” is at the end.

Have a good rest of the week.

Man given 3 months to live throws in one or two non-sexual things to do

Parents considering second child so daughter can have someone to grow apart from

Toll booth attendant wishes just one high-speed chase would crash through entry bar

New study finds humans shouldn’t spend more than 5 consecutive hours together

Study: 63% of all human speech occurs under breath

Area dad wants to watch one 7-hour block of television without interruption

New biodiversity program busses in species from outside ecosystems

Hospital comforts patients with new therapy oyster program

Woman worried student loans could prevent her from one day owning entirely different kind of crippling debt

Man stuck in dead-end body

My Combo: Worried woman spends 5 hours outside toll booth to comfort non-sexual area man with oyster therapy without interruption

On Peace

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. (Mahatma Gandhi, Indian)

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. (Nelson Mandela, South African)

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. (John F. Kennedy, American)

A peace is of the nature of a conquest; for then both parties nobly are subdued, and neither party loser. (William Shakespeare, British)

We make war that we may live in peace. (Aristotle, Greek)

If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies. (Desmond Tutu, South African)

The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat. The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned. (Dag Hammarskjold, Swede)

Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding. (Ralph Waldo Emerson, American)

To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order; we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right. (Confucius, Chinese)
Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. (Albert Einstein, German American)

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. (Martin Luther King, Jr., American)

Those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace and those who could make a good peace would never have won the war. (Winston Churchill, British)

Peace is a state of quiet and tranquility. Peace is a harmony between people. Peace is mutual concordance between governments.

Some of us see humans as one, thus see everlasting peace as desirable quest, which is much more than a point in time, but a desirable end point. But history has countless reminders of tranquility followed by violence, and the cycle repeats … peace follows war, thus leading to another war.

Serenity to turmoil, quiet to loud, calm to tumult are only a few of the terms describing human events. Arnold Sherman wrote Song of Peace for handbells memorializing another event – the Oklahoma City bombing of April 19, 1995. As you listen, the harsh discord of violence is evident – as is the calmness of peace. Coincidentally, I finalized this post while watching the moving dedication of the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Peace to you.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 217

On Politics
My state (Ohio) is one of 15 states with a law against false political statements. Challenge to the law has reached the US Supreme Court has some interesting situations, such as Ohio’s Solicitor General arguing for the law that his boss (State Attorney General) wrote a letter about the law being unconstitutional. Given the high court’s rulings of money is a form of speech, I can see a ruling opening up the vaults for more deception – but time will tell. Here’s a story about the case from respected court writer Lyle Denniston, plus a synopsis with additional resources about the case.

Although I think columnist Charles Krauthhammer is a conservative crank, I enjoyed this column about campaign finance.

Here’s an interesting timeline with various milestones about bipartisan efforts.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Gas station clerk glad to see Pump 2 doing so well today
Fisher-Price designer would like to see 2-year-old try and choke on newest version
White male privilege squandered on job at Best Buy
Casinos getting people to play longer by telling them civilization destroyed
Man with no plans too exhausted to go out
Baseball catcher keeps signalling “I love you”

Interesting Reads
One person’s opinion on the next Ukraine
Surprise birth of the scientific method
Vietnam War Maps
Animated map about the North Africa campaign WW II
Book review about John Wayne

On Potpourri
I tried not to focus on the stats, but I can’t help noticing that the numbers here are tanking to pathetic levels. Is anyone else experience this?

Earlier this week I mentioned the weight of handbells. Think of handbells like a piano key, that is each bell is a single note. Here’s a link showing the weight and diameter of each bell by different manufacturers. You will notice that the larger bells can be aluminum or brass. (For non-US readers, 1 ounce= 28.4 grams, 1 pound (lb) = 454 g, and 1 inch = 2.54 cm)

If all goes as planned, Life: The Musical returns next week. I will announce Act 3’s theme on the upcoming Monday Morning Entertainment. Curtain time will be Wednesday, 9:30 PM (US Eastern)

A Saturday Morning Cartoon Classic is on the docket for tomorrow.

Here are your weekend celebrations

  • (Weekend) Satchmo Days, Fiddler’s Frolic, Nation’s Powwow, Interstate Mullet Toss, Mariachi Days, Pie Championships
  • (Fri) DNA Day, Plumbers Day, Malaria Awareness Day, Red Hat Society Day, Penguin Day, Zucchini Bread Day
  • (Sat) Arbor Day, Audubon Day, Do-Dah Day, Bob Wills Day, Eeyore’s Day, Hug an Australian Day, Dance Day, Go Birding Day, Animals in the Laboratory Day, Hairball Awareness Day, Help a Horse Day, Herb Day, Kids-and-Pets Day, Rebuilding Day, Pretzel Day, Intellectual Property Day, Richter Scale Day, Save the Frogs Day, Sense of Smell Day, Healing Day
  • (Sun) Babe Ruth Day, Mantanzas Mule Day, Morse Code Day, Mother-Father Deaf Day, Pinhole Photography Day, Morse Code Day, Prime Rib Day

To send you into the weekend, here’s a flashback to 1971 with headliners Blood, Sweat, and Tears and their hit Lucretia Mac Evil. Enjoy, have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.