Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 337

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Cincinnati has a new major event this weekend, so I hope I get to report on Blink Cincinnati.

Last weekend our handbell choir played a good piece that is very melodic and peaceful (Draw Us In the Spirit’s Tether). To listen to a recording of the song (not by us), click here, then scroll down to find the Listen button under the paragraph, then click Listen.

Also last weekend I participate as a volunteer partner at a dance competition for the dancers with Down Syndrome and other disabilities. What a great event!

In case you missed it, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the 2018 nominees that will be on the ballot – and The Moody Blues received their FIRST nomination.

Thanks to those who are interested with our trips to care for the issues of an elderly aunt. The situation is stressful on multiple fronts, but we are going in the right direction. Meanwhile, the next 6 weeks are critical.

Because of the time involved with an aunt, yesterday was the first time I’ve played golf in many weeks … and the weather has been great for golf!

I like watching for statistical milestones. Comment #75,000 is approaching – Post #2000 could happen in 2018 – along with views #300,000.

In my posts featuring local murals, I encourage readers to visit Resa, the one who motivated me to post about the murals. Cheers to Resa for reaching a milestone: Post #1000 – visit it here.

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Not that I need another top-shelf example of the impact of partisan politics, but the Senate Judiciary Committee negotiated an agreement to issue a subpoena? Just another example of those elected following the party-first mantra.

I find it interesting when opponents of the president/administration of one party complain, but they stay silent when the president/administration of their party does the same.

While polls show the majority of Americans want to improve the Affordable Care Act, Congressional Democrats are pathetically silent with suggestions. For the record, being in the minority is not an acceptable excuse.

Vice President Pence’s actions at a recent NFL game were nothing more than a political stunt at the expense of the American taxpayer while doing nothing about the issue being raised and inflaming the situation.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion defines common cooking terms.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Side salad clearly made from hamburger toppings
Stunned family watches as grandma wolfs down sandwich in 33 minutes
Subway sandwich emits noxious honey mustard spray as defense against predators
Man explains to visiting father that “Flatbread means pizza”
Mom has stacked dinner party roster
Food Network production assistants prep Guy Fieri with dry rub

Interesting Reads
Armenians and strangers
The growing partisan divide in American politics
The hermit of Qadisha Valley
The town losing its language
Generation Z and big questions
(Images) From the longest-running photography competition

For your weekend entertainment, a song and video from many legends that have left us – but fortunately their music stayed behind for us to enjoy. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

 

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 336

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Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria along with the earthquake in Mexico have created much havoc in this part of the world. I encourage all readers to give to a charity of their choice that assists in recovery efforts.

I recently discovered Charity Navigator, a website rating many charitable organizations on their finances; including administrative expenses, fundraising expenses, accountability, transparencies and the percentage of donations that go into programs. Take a look.

Last week my wife’s side of the family recently gathered for a week along Lake Michigan. The town (Grand Haven, MI) has a fountain sitting high and across the river from the town – and this is a musical fountain – one choreographing water and lights to music.

Fiona surpassed 500 pounds. Keep in mind that she was born 6 weeks early at 29 pounds – and the zoo raised her without much guidance from other zoos.

October is going to be a busy month for us as we deal with the elderly aunt – so my presence will be inconsistent.

Several years I ago I was ride high with good seasons from my 3 football teams (2 college and 1 pro). I describe the 2018 edition of the same 3 teams as not-very-good, bad, and worse … how quickly things can change.

Dancing With the Stars is off to a good start with a strong cast. As a whole, the cast is very likable. The weakest and strongest competitors are obvious, but a large portion of the cast has room to develop into a contender.

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The recent fervor regarding football teams and the national anthem has caused many to wince and wonder in a variety of ways. Contrary to what others think, the action has nothing to do with disrespecting the country; nothing to do with disrespecting the flag; nothing to do with disrespecting the military; nothing to do with disrespecting first responders. This article from Polifact is interesting.

After the previously failed vote repealing the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) he was “willing to work with Democrats” …. then he sponsored the latest repeal effort (which at posting time) appears to be doomed.

Not long ago concerning an issue, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) described the solution coming from the center to find a majority – therefore avoiding the extremes. Although a good idea, I’m not convinced there are enough in the Congressional middle to create a majority.

As Republicans look toward tax reform as the next big issue, I won’t be surprised if they forego the normal legislative path. Meanwhile, the current posturing by both sides involves partisan distortion around facts that don’t exist.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for remaining calm during an emergency.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Facebook vows not to hand over users’ medical records to government
Hydra decides to see doctor about painful ingrown head
Archaeologists discover fully intact 17th century belief system in Ohio congressman
Food purchased as souvenir tragically revealed to be available back home
Asian-American actress struggles with being typecast as Sherlock Holmes
Partridges frozen to pear trees
All Else fails

Interesting Reads
Is “scared to death” possible
Genetics and human evolution
Questioning lager beer’s origin
King John’s lost jewels
(Gallery) Pictures in nature from the first round 2017 National Geographic Photographer of the Year Contest 

For your weekend entertainment, enjoy the Fab Four classic sung by Sir Paul. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 335

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Hard to believe, but the previous edition of OITS was on July 14th! I’m overdue!!!!

Fiona, Cincinnati’s favorite baby hippo, continues to do well. Besides being a media darling, Graeter’s (one of the best ice creams on the planet) made a limited-edition flavor in her (Fiona’s) honor: Chunky Chunky Hippo – a toffee ice cream base containing salted roasted peanuts and milk chocolate caramel truffles. YUM! Meanwhile, click here to see the Fiona updates from the zoo with some great pictures. It’s guaranteed to make you smile.

This summer was a tough golf season for me because I could establish any consistency – especially in the weekly golf league. Then again, how my opponent plays also influences the outcome. Somehow I qualified for the final 4. I didn’t play well in the semi-finals, but my opponent couldn’t close the deal – so I hung around to win on the last hole. Off to the finals I went where I cruised to victory!

September always brings a change in my routine. Volunteering and handbells get started and working into my schedule of ballroom dance, working part-time at the golf course, ushering at plays, and whatever else comes our way. One handbell piece we are working on may be the hardest yet for us – so it will be interesting to see we (the choir) can get it ready to perform.

There are many things to get riled up about in the world, and statues of Confederate soldiers of the US Civil War is not one of them for me.

Thumbs up to two totally different movies: Dunkirk and The Big Sick. Our first play of the season was a theater version of Shakespeare in Love. (Remember the movie?) … another thumbs up.

For those who enjoyed this post about doors earlier this week, do you remember similar posts involving many pictures of Italy?

Instead of displaying the Pause button, I probably won’t be posting for a week … but I did state probably.

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Put me in the group that doesn’t get my shorts in a knot over what First Lady Melania Trump is wearing.

Some partisans have described Donald Trump, Jr’s meeting with the Russians as treason. In true partisan fashion, many of the partisan ears latch onto the word. Is collusion a better description? Maybe – we don’t know enough yet. Is stupid a suitable descriptor? Unquestionably! .. but treason? Nope. See Article III, Section 3 of the US Constitution.

I’m all for the Russian Investigation around the Trump administration and campaign. Where I differ from many is that I want one thorough investigation – and then so be it. Therefore not a continual investigation because one didn’t find what they wanted (as the Republicans did with 7(?) investigations with Benghazi).

I love this line from a recent Kathleen Parker column: “…. the U.S.-North Korea stare-down is more accurately a battle of nitwits who seem to think threatening nuclear holocaust and mutual destruction is a contest to see who has bigger hands.”

As I continue to hear Hillary Clinton say various excuses for losing the election, she continues to focus on blaming others. It seems running a lousy campaign, failing to focus on the issues, and trying to be who she isn’t (just like McCain & Romney did in playing to the base) … all recipes for failure.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a short explanation how the brain responds to advertising.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Hellmann’s introduces new meat-on-the-bottom mayo cups
Mosquito confronts partner after testing positive for Zika
God falling under influence of powerful spiritual guru
Millions of policy proposals spill into the sea as think tank runs around
Aroma of cleaning product closest thing man’s had to fruit in weeks

Interesting Reads
Creationism and culture wars
Facts & information: How people deal with them
Churchill and Dunkirk
Religion’s reaction to alien contact
Art by a gay Chinese farmer
Blogger Debra’s visit to the city along the Adriatic of my birth
(Photos) Train graveyard

For your weekend entertainment, here’s a song from years ago that many will enjoy. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 334

Cincinnati Zoo image

This is one of the first family pictures of Fiona with her parents (Harry and Bibi). For whatever reason, I see The Simpsons in this photo. Fiona continues to make great progress as well as integrating with her parents. For more photos and information, see these short updates from the Cincinnati Zoo.

Thanks for writers and readers involved with the Footprints Challenge. I appreciated the variety of the 14 stories (to date), which included 3 from newcomers (a pleasant surprise) – although my intent was not to expand my audience. A toast to the Canadian contingent that provided 5 stories. Special thanks to Dale who read and commented on all the stories.

If all goes as planned, a beach walk should return next week.

We recommend the movie Baby Driver. It was fun, fast-paced, and action-packed, and loaded with music accompanying the action.

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The Middle East has been an unsettled mess for many years. Here are three articles worth readings: by Marc Ginsberg, by Aaron David Miller, and by the Washington Post.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (RJA-KY) says that (if the Senate bill fails) he will have to work with Democrats to strengthen the health care insurance market. I have two comments: Too damn bad, Mitch … and … No shit, Sherlock.

Yes, gerrymandering of district lines is a problem now, and has always been a problem. Democrats complaining about it forget they are also guilty; and Republicans forget they would also be complaining if the Democrats did the same thing.

I found this statement more than odd when I first heard it and it has stuck with me ever since. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” (Donald Trump, July 27, 2016)

Got to love this one. President Trump recently described his performance as having done “more in five months than practically any president in history.”

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion explains how to recover from embarrassing situations.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Mariana Trench once again named worst place to raise a child
New iPhone app alerts users to imminent sidewalk collisions with other iPhone users
done more in five months than practically any president in history
Blindfolded taste test participants keep knocking over bottles of soda
Late-arriving guest encouraged to load up on food that has been sitting in sun for past 4 hours

Interesting Reads
European migration with Europe
Contrasting capitalism: Apple and Google
The underwater world of Antarctica
The road of 1000 stories
Big Ben: The bell
(Photos) Weird but amazing bridges

For your weekend entertainment, this is not my favorite mashup of dancing scenes from old movies, but it is a lot of fun – and Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling fits. Enjoy! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 333

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The aFa Short Story Challenge (Footprints in the Sand) is on final approach. Thanks to those who reblogged the challenge in their blog. I will publish my story on July 10th at 12:15 am (Eastern US). Participants will link to that post (NOT the Challenge post). For those who didn’t see the challenge, click here.

Cheers to the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra for another wonderful Fourth of July concert. Interestingly, a three-quarters moon was displaying itself directly behind the fireworks.

We are watching the latest season of House of Cards. Through episode 9 was slow – very slow! … but the pace is starting to pick up as the house seems to the ready to tumble.

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of the Seychelles Islands (in the Indian Ocean), and I don’t think I’ve encountered a Seychellian blogger … but I know two people who are currently here. From the views from this video, it appears to be a paradise.

So far, I’m comfortable with my random posting schedule.

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I wished I would have saved it, but last week I read an article that mentioned the Democrats top two strategies, which caused me to shake my head.

The previous I displayed the letter I sent to my representative (an R) regarding the health care & insurance issue in the U.S. Last week I wrote the following to one of my senators, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).

Senator Portman,
On Twitter you stated. “Let me know what you think.” about the recently proposed Senate health care. Your dilemma lies in this predicament. If you are representing your party, you should vote YES because partisanship and political gain is of utmost important. If you are representing the best interest of the people, you should vote NO because health care and health care insurance is a very serious issue that demands more than a frivolous attempt based on partisanship and political gain. Because of the importance of health care and health care insurance, doing what is best for the people requires a bipartisan effort. That is the challenge.”

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides the pros and cons of artificial intelligence.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Woman rearranging condiments in refrigerator door like puzzle in ancient tomb
Queen Elizabeth kicks off Wimbledon by serving ceremonial first ace of tournament
Man on internet almost falls into world of DIY mustard enthusiasts
Housefly drops everything to go stand on watermelon slice
Dolphin spends amazing vacation swimming with stockbroker
This stool shall pass

Interesting Reads
Understanding the latest fossils of human origins
50 things about the US Founding Fathers
Humans aren’t nutritious eating
3-D printed ovaries fight infertility
(Photo Gallery) Empty railways in America

For your weekend entertainment, here’s a fun song that you may not know that comes from my cousins. It’s an Italian classic from 1972. Although not in Italian, it’s meant to sound like English, but actually the lyrics are pure gibberish – except for two words. Enjoy! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 332

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When I published my return post, it was nice to see the spike on the graph of daily statistics. More importantly, it was great get to comments from friends all of the world. Thanks to all for the kind words and welcoming return.

I hope to announce a writing challenge in the next edition of this series.

Baby Fiona, (Cincinnati Zoo’s rock star baby hippo) continues to make great progress. Fiona now has a beer named after her, she is featured in a set of playing cards (we have), and continues to be a media darling. She does not regularly appear at the zoo’s exhibit, but she is making great progress bonding with her mother (Bibi) and father (Henry). Below are several links for videos.

With Amazon bid to purchase Whole Foods, this short clip (1-minute) is perfect.

 

In a pile of recyclable materials at a recycling center, what color do you think is the most dominant? (Answer later in this post.)

My wife and I are still enjoying ballroom dancing. Big news would be that we have changed instructors, and a big thumbs-up to our new one.

Did you know:

  • Otto Warmbier, the college student detained in North Korea who returned to the US in a coma and then died within days, was a Cincinnatian. I happened to be in his community the day before his funeral … and the trees lining the streets had blue and white ribbons tied around them.
  • Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), the congressman who first attended to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) at the unfortunate, despicable shooting, is my representative.

Cardboard brown from all the shipping boxes is the most common color in a recycling pile. This has changed through the years, and given all the online purchasing people do today, this shouldn’t be surprising.

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American politics is not only frustrating, but is also has become a waste of my time and energy. It reminds of playground squabbles in order to see who gets their way, which actually solves nothing more than determining who gets their way – but this doesn’t mean I’m completely disengaging! No matter the political party, this is what I hear when politicians talk.

I’m no longer listing items for blaming former President Obama because (by now) realizes that he is responsible for everything wrong in the world over the past 10 years and for all ills to come over the next 30 years.

President Trump is a bully who disregards the institution and traditions of government because he thinks he is king.

After the House vote on the Republican-written health care law (AHCA) designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare), I wrote these words to Rep. Wenstrup after the Cincinnati Enquirer published his column.

Thank you for sharing your story of the health issues in your family as well as your point of view concerning the ACA and the AHCA. You should know that as a political independent, I characterize your “Yes” vote for the AHCA without an assessment by the Congressional Budget Office as incompetent and a prime example of favoring the interest of your party over serving the best interests of the people in our district and all Americans. Health care and health care insurance is a very serious issue that demands more than a frivolous attempt based on partisanship and political gain.”

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion explains how cell phones have changed our lives.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Health scare prompts man to overeat healthier
Earth ranked as number 1 party planet
New study finds no long-term health benefits
Man pulling on loose hangnail slowly unravels skin from entire body
Beauty industry exec keeps photo of crying 15-year-old girl on desk to remind himself why he does this

Interesting Reads
Sagan’s baloney detection kit
Continued fascination with Phineas Gage
Tree-climbing goats
A personal view of cystic fibrosis and the benefits of research
(Photos) 91 picture of 91 years of Queen Elizabeth II

To send you into the weekend, here’s a fun song that you may not know. Enjoy! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 331

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The Cincinnati Enquirer published an interesting photo essay: A Day in the Life of Fiona the Baby Hippo. Enjoy.

This recent post on the Cincinnati Zoo Blog by one of Fiona’s handlers is good and has excellent pictures.

Opening Day is Monday. First of all, the occasion is formally capitalized in Cincinnati because it is (and has always been in my lifetime) a major event. Opening Day is the official start of the baseball season, and Cincinnati embraces it like no other place. We hope to go downtown for the festivities, but the projected weather is concerning.

Although I think the Reds will be better this year, my goals for their 2017 resemble last year’s:

  • Win more games than the 1961 Mets (Checked in 2016)
  • Have a better record than the worst team in baseball (Checked in 2016)
  • Finish higher than last place in the division
  • Finish closer to first in the division than to last
  • Anything else is extra topping on the sundae

On the downside, a shooting in a Cincinnati nightclub made the news this week. No arrests at this time, but the business has turned in its liquor license and will not reopen.

Enjoy this song with 300 words in one minute.

Several weeks ago I linked a handbell version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Here’s is another version of the same arrangement, but done with a different touch.

A tip of the cap to Lorna who is retiring her blog. I can’t recall how the two of us met each other in blogging, but I recall her move from the eastern US to Oregon. Best of luck Lorna, and thanks for the support.

The time is approaching when I will go on a spring blog break.

No Saturday post this weekend, but I will publish the Sunday post earlier than normal.

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I have a plan to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) – sensible Democrats and sensible Republicans get together. Then again, I’m not convinced enough of those exist to overcome the obstinance of their respective bases.

  • Why can’t Republicans propose allowing insurance to be sold across state lines within the ACA? (However, states have the final say because they control insurance commerce.)
  • Why can’t Democrats propose eliminating taxes on the wealthy that shouldn’t have been in the ACA in the first place?
  • Why can’t either side propose either allowing credits for the insured or making the fine for not having insurance be greater than the cost of insurance?
  • Why can’t elected officials favor problem solving for the good over the country instead of party-first interests?

I know the answer to the above question – they are jackasses!

Regarding the mega-snafu by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I say get him out of there!

“Clean coal” is possible – but expensive.

I can’t agree more with this headline that I saw earlier this week: It is Never Trump’s Fault – yep … it’s always Obama’s fault.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
No Cincinnati teams making it to college basketball’s Final Four
Mild winter not killing mosquitos
Coal industries 40-year decline
Hunting hogs from helicopters
An upcoming Blog Break approaching for me

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion identifies the top 10 destinations for spring break.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Hundreds Of blind, pallid Disney characters discovered living in caves deep within Space Mountain
Stoned extraterrestrial stumbles across hidden message after listening to Golden Record backwards
Audubon Society revokes black-capped chickadee’s membership after species fails to pay dues
4 copy editors killed in ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual gang violence
Military aides try to cheer up Kim Jong-Un after failed missile launch by putting on surprise execution

Interesting Reads
A perspective about nostalgia
Your life and history
Evolution of and future of charter schools
Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech (delivered 7 years before I was born, he mentions my birthplace)
Trapped in amber during sex
(Photos) Earth Hour Celebration

To send you into the weekend, here’s an MTV classic from days gone by. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.