Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 316

Last weekend we saw a good movie thriller – The Accountant. Thumbs up!

The season finale for Dancing with the Stars is next week. No question, gymnast Laurie Hernandez and racer James Hinchcliffe are the best dancers of the finalists … but anything can happen.

My heart sank when I heard the news about Leonard Cohen, especially for so many Canadians who loved him.

The months of November and December are typically demanding months for handbell choirs, and our choir is no exception. This piece delivers a lot of energy, so enjoy Toccata on King’s Weston arranged by the young man directing this choir. Note: I like watching the four players on the front row closest to the camera.

I’m looking forward to the Kennedy Center Honors telecast in late December. The 2016 honorees are Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, musical group the Eagles, actor Al Pacino, singer Mavis Staples, and musician James Taylor

Headlines from a story in China (not The Onion): Baby monkey befriends a herd of goats (The story)

Here’s a short, humorous read describing capitalism from different global viewpoints. This is definitely amusing.

Slogans as “change” or “drain the swamp” are shallow. After all, not only do the slogans continue to happen, so does this – victors bring in experience people to bring on a different version of the status quo.

Republicans declaring the election results as “a mandate” bothers me. After all, not only did Mr. Trump not receive more than 50% of the votes, he didn’t receive the most votes. Then again, a mandate-approach is equivalent to providing enough rope.

Retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced a bill to abolish the Electoral College. A question: Were the candidates trying to get the most electoral votes or the total national vote? Sen. Boxer, thank you for your years of service, but it’s time to quietly move into retirement.

Dr. Ben Carson has declined a cabinet position because (to quote his spokesperson) “he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency.” Yikes! … This guy ran for the Republican presidential nomination !

Confusion? Donald Trump has the job as President-Elect and Billy Bush doesn’t have a job.

In the name of full disclosure, I searched for and found a quote in preparation for Donald Trump and his supporters challenging the election results. For whatever reason, I didn’t delete it – and it turned out to be very applicable to many Clinton supporters. It seems many seem to prefer finger-pointing over reflection. Besides the violence from the fringe, others have blamed the election results on the FBI Director, the media, the Founding Fathers for the Electoral College process, the uneducated, the lack of voter turnout by Hispanics and African-Americans, and more … while conveniently forgetting that it’s Obama’s fault.😉 On to the applicable quote.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession. I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new President-elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together in fulfillment of the great vision that our Declaration of Independence defines and that our Constitution affirms and defends. (Al Gore, 2000)

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Low gasoline prices
The Cincinnati Bengals lousy record during prime-time games
Latest earthquake in New Zealand
Differences between Chicago and New York pizza
Difficulty finding Spumoni ice cream

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion lists lessons America can learn from the recent election.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Holding trophy above head still number 1 celebration technique
Matt Damon appears fully nude for first time in local man’s imagination
Incoming class of Subway trainees spend week practicing on sandwich cadavers
Accidentally closing browser with 23 tabs open presents rare chance at new life
Empty inner tube ominously exits mouth of lazy river
Mom learns about new vegetable

Interesting Reads
The brain and bad decisions
Black female figures of western art
Dangerous times for the world’s coconuts
50 years ago: McCarty’s fake death
(Photos) Australia’s wild wild west

To lead you into the weekend, here’s a tribute to Leonard Cohen. 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. 315

So far, the plays we’ve seen while ushering have been enjoyable. Definitely a variety of styles.

If it’s not already, Cincinnati will soon be in the national news because the jury is deliberating a case involving a police office shooting an unarmed black male.

Photo Credit: Andrew Evans

Photo Credit: Andrew Evans

The handbell piece we played last weekend was very well received. Here it is again.

My Italian cousin Gino has a good sense of humor. At dinner my cousins were asking us about chefs in America. After showing Gino this picture of Giada de Laurentiis, he raised his eyebrows, paused, then said, “Do you think she will cook for me and wash my underwear?”

I’ve made limoncello, orangecello, meloncello, gingercello, and basilcello. For this holiday season, I’m making cranberry-orangecello. It’s in the extraction phase at the moment, so I hope to have it ready for sampling when the family gathers for Thanksgiving (November 24th). For those who want to make limoncello, click here for my recipe.

I recently heard this story. Two guys hired a cab to pick them up, take them to a specific address, wait, then return them home. After the complete trip, the two passengers refused to pay – so the cab driver called the police to report not only the failure to pay, but the fact the two guys committed a robbery at a specific address and were now at a designated address. Book ‘em, Danno, and then give them a Darwin Award.

This column about the election by a local sports columnist is worth the read.

The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Editorial Board offered these words: “This is a time to respect the will of the people and find a way to move forward as a nation. This is a time for civility. There’s been too much vitriol on both sides, and Americans must learn how to talk to each other again, treating fellow citizens with respect regardless of their differences. Without question, Trump was the more appealing candidate to the darker forces among us, but it would be a grave mistake to paint all – or even a majority with the same “deplorable” brush. … This is a time for healing …. This is a time for change and moving past the same old cynical politics …. This is a time for reflection …. We should all want President-elect Trump to succeed, just as we should all have wanted the same for President Barack Obama. That’s what patriotism means. That’s the key for finding our way again as a country.”

In a related note, I’m very proud of the readers here for many reasons – including the civil tone on my post following the election (the previous post). Thanks to all.

“Repeal and replace” is going to be a common phrase in the months ahead. There will be a time when we start hearing actual proposals. If we hear the insurance industry squealing about a proposal, that may be the one to use.

News of children in a Michigan school chanting “Build a wall” to Latino students is disturbing.

Some Things that Concern Me (listed in increasing importance)

  • Democrats acting like Republicans
  • The Nincompoop getting a cabinet position
  • A Republican Congress proclaiming a mandate, thus shoving an agenda down everyone’s throat
  • The loud, obnoxious portion of the electorate thinking they are in control
  • Ted Cruz on the Supreme Court

Now that the election is over, it’s time to return to the Supreme Court vacancy. Too bad the Republican Senate who proclaimed the Biden Rule aren’t following it. I was hoping for a divided government between the Senate and the White House so we could play a game of Last Judge Standing! Therefore, no nominees until the court is completely vacant …. Damn the results!

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Hillary Clinton losing
A ganglion cyst returning to my leg
Sharna’s injury on Dancing With the Stars
Cleveland Browns not winning a game yet (but they are playing at the time of this post)
Donald Trump winning

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for handling social anxieties.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Winning lottery numbers obvious in hindsight
Woman worried she’s doing bad job enjoying massage
New premium Uber service lets users commandeer any car
Bungled Apocalypse causes light drizzle over southern Ohio
Man praying job interviewer doesn’t ask any questions

Interesting Reads
Escape from Syria in a wheelchair
Successes in Finnish education
A different look at historic Route 66
Sightseer’s guide to Mars
Poverty and parties from Brookings with a state-by-state drop-down menu at the end.
The Beatles Final Concert
3-D printing and prosthetics
(Photos) Glasgow’s mural trail

To lead you into the weekend, here’s a popular oldie. Besides, I mentioned it in the Interesting Reads. 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. 314

I haven’t done an OITS since my return from vacation, so it’s about time.

Now that vacation is over, the fall means returning to volunteering with English Second Language adults, ushering at plays, and ballroom dancing with seniors and with adults with Down Syndrome … plus playing handbells.

Speaking of handbells, here’s the piece we’re playing this weekend. Click to watch and listen.

It’s been another good season for Dancing with the Stars. Amazing how that show keeps chugging along. They are down to the final 6: two whose time it is to go, and 4 worthy of making the final 3.

Italians love picking their own mushrooms.
italianmushroomscomp

I’ve been spending significant time researching and writing on my religion and science project. I must say that it has been quite the learning journey, and one that may lead to self-publishing.

All of us know that there is more to a person we know than we think. Rich works at the golf course, but he’s in carts. This weekend he is officiating his last high school football game … after 40 years! Impressive!

Some may be wondering about the next musical. The ideas are in my head, but it is important for me to be as available as possible during musicals. Therefore, no announcement is in the near future.

Hooray … presumably, the U.S. presidential election will be over soon! Regardless of the outcome, no more campaign commercials on Wednesday … actually Tuesday evening. Woo hoo!!!

This past Friday I waited in the doctor’s office, where a cable news channel is always on. During the 90 minutes I waited, the election was the only topic covered. Isn’t anything else happening in this country and the world?

Regardless if I agree or disagree with the statement, I enjoyed this comment: Americans are facing a choice between a crook and a creep.

From the warped side of the political spectrum, read this … and this clown is my state senator.

Regardless of the final outcome for the presidency, I’m hoping another four years of divided government. That is, the White House, control of the Senate, and control of the House of Representatives is not controlled by one party. Divided government has been ineffective and inefficient the past 6 years. However, in the current political climate, divided government prevents one party shoving their preferences down everyone’s throat.

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Earthquakes in Italy
Donald Trump’s popularity
The rotten season of my favorite football teams (2 college and 1 pro)
Too many campaign commercials on television
Samsung’s problems with the Galaxy 7 and washing machines

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion lists the most-ignored issues in the US Presidential campaign.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man who stopped dieting already seeing results
Grandmother doesn’t care for new priest
Pope Francis hosts feathered serpent god as part of deity exchange program
Each member of family on edge as vacation has gone without one blowout fight
Non-dominant hand completely botches nail clipping job
Anthropologists discover isolated tribe of joyful Americans living in remote village untouched by 2016 election

Interesting Reads
A Medal of Honor story
A story about drilling holes in skulls
Chinese glass walkway
Some of the world’s most boring jobs
History of drywall
The religious reacting to medical advances
An interactive: Henry Hudson’s travels
(Photos) National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

For your weekend, here’s the latest from The Piano Guys. Enjoy the trip! 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. 301

List week we saw Big Fat Greek Wedding II. Entertaining, but predictable.

I imagine this is a rare occurrence for most, but I’ve been dealing with these issues all at the same time: cell phone, laptop, tablet, wireless router, and server storage.

Our handbell season is over, so here’s the last song we played (Celtic Praise). The musicians in the crowd will enjoy the rhythms in this piece. The link is the composer’s choir, which he (interestingly) didn’t use a flute accompaniment.

I feel very behind on much about blogging … so I’m delaying the next act of Colors: The Musical.

Oh my … the stats are dropping like a rock – but I’m pressing on.

Sorry, no Explore post this weekend.

With Donald Trump (R-NY) being the presumptive Republican nominee, talk about his running mate has begun. His the aFa Power Ranking at this point in time: 5)Snookie 4)Sarah Palin 3)John Kasich 2)Chris Christie 1)Newt Gingrich

Republican partisans are predictably starting to embrace the Trump candidacy. After all, that’s what partisans do.

I seldom read two of the three columnists below, but on this day, I appreciated their columns and (in particular) these lines:

It was actually a rare opportunity for Cruz to shed his image as a reptilian barfly and trade his mom-jeans for Lycra tights and a cape. (Kathleen Parker, Washington Post)

His (Trump’s) metabolic urge to be scabrous guarantees that GOP candidates everywhere will be badgered by questions about what they think about what he says. What they say will determine how many of them lose with him, and how many deserve to. (George Will, Washington Post)

But as Trump himself says of being a conservative – at this point, who cares? As of Tuesday night, certainly not the GOP. (Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post)

To lead you into your weekly dose of satire, The Onion explains how the USA pick Supreme Court justices.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Lone ant crawling through kitchen trumpets arrival of horde
Biologists discover billions of missing bees living anonymously in Sacramento
Laughing woman clarifies amusement with clapping
Genie presidential candidate promises to grant American public three wishes if elected
Teary-eyed student loan officers proudly watch as $200,000 asset graduates from college
Waitress who took over at table just doesn’t have same spark as Richard
Chinese astronomers inform Beijing residents sky will be visible for rare 2-Minute window tomorrow morning

Interesting Reads
About colors (Thanks, Ray)
Government jobs – where did they go?
Japanese decoys of WW II
Genetically-modified mosquitoes – is that a problem?
The mysteries of ear wax
Militants targeting personalities
(Images plus) Food photographer of the year

To send you into the weekend, enjoy this hit from a collection of stars. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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.