On Blog Break Spring 2019

Yes – it’s that time again. A time for a blog break. After all, you know my mantra – blog breaks are good. Because of the respect I have for my readers, I prefer announcing my absence. This time I expect 4-8 weeks. This post is just a collection of random thoughts before Blog Break.

I will be staying away from blogging for most of the time, but I probably will work on future posts. You may see my presence shortly after this and slightly before I return.

Golf league starts in about 5-6 weeks – so, I should get the clubs out of the basement.

Cheers to Dale for her maitre ‘d work at the concerts. However, I know she’s very busy at this time, so the blog break gives her a break. This video is for her.

 

Speaking of the concerts, I’m considering scaling back the concerts to the first and third weekends (instead of every weekend). Your thoughts?

March Madness will be in full swing this week. Personally, no team with a losing record in conference should NOT be in the tournament unless they win the conference tournament. These teams should do bump smaller schools. It’s that simple. UC is in the dance, but I don’t expect much – so the bottom line for me is ABK … Anybody But Kentucky.

Bummer: We had a 10-day tour scheduled for late June into early July going Seattle to Glacier National Park and back. The company cancelled the tour. 😦 …. and we already had non-refundable airfare tickets. Now we have to go somewhere and back by mid-November to use the credited dollars on Southwest Airlines.

I’m a few days into temporary bachelorhood as it’s time for my wife’s girls cruise (that is, the guys aren’t allowed). For me, that means dance when I can! When people ask me what I do for a week, my response is simple: 1) Whatever I want, 2) Whenever I want.

 

My heart sank at the news about the recent terrorist attack in New Zealand. Pauline, my favorite Kiwi, is a regular here – and my support is with her and her nation – yet I also feel helpless.

I’ve got the feeling the Mueller Report will come out during my absence. Oh well, I still believe it will not meet the expectations of Democrats, so it will also be a relief to Republicans who will also sidestep important points.

I stated this line before about President Trump and continue to use it. “He’s a pathetic person and even worse leader; plus he brings most of his problems on himself.” Some say I’m not harsh enough. Yes – it’s tame – but countering it is difficult because it is not threatening.

As I head into Blog Break, here’s a song that I greatly enjoy. From The Greatest Showman, “A Million Dreams”. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 396

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Because we couldn’t rehearse while in Alabama, last Sunday we had a chance to listen to our handbell choir play a wonderful song for Lent. (Plus, the group played very well.) To listen to In the Wilderness (Jason Krug), click here, and then find the Listen button (after the opening paragraph that is worth reading), then click Listen. Warning: It’s over 6 minutes, but it can serve as background music for those interested.

The Weekend Concert Series returns this Saturday with Carole King taking the stage at 1:00 am (Eastern US).

Regarding the concerts, tradition is that I limit comments to one song per person. However, a little known fact is that commenters can return on Day 2 (Sunday) to add more songs.

Did anyone watch the Aretha Franklin tribute show on CBS last Sunday night? We did – and enjoyed it.

OITS number 400 is approaching … and visit number 400,000 is in sight (possibly this summer).

Attention Costco shoppers. From Money magazine – If you spend $3000 per year at Costco, upgrading to an Executive Member will pay for itself and may make save you even more. Once we learned we were passing on money, we upgraded. After all, we love Costco.

Have you ever taken a DNA test as Ancestry DNA or 23andMe?

Last week we sprung forward into Daylight Savings Time (DST). Two US states (Arizona and Hawaii) do not join the fun. Several other states are considering doing the same while several others are considering making DST permanent.

Cheers to the US Women’s Soccer Team seeking equal pay with their men’s counterpart. With Wimbledon tennis approaching, should men and women receive the same winnings when men must win three sets per match while women two?

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AOC is made it known that moderates are not welcome. Nothing like pushing away potential voters. Just because I’m anti-Trump does not mean voting for the Democratic candidate is automatic. So thank you AOC, the odds of Dems getting my vote in 2020 has fallen to 10%.

Now would this be an interesting Democratic presidential ticket for a bumper sticker: Hickenlooper-Buttigieg

President Trump referred Apple CEO Tim Cook as Tim Apple. To me, a simple slip of the tongue. That’s something we’ve all done. However, President Trump is so arrogant, he can’t even admit a responsibility on something like this. Instead, he favored an explanation that is pathetic and senseless: “I quickly referred to Tim + Apple as Tim/Apple as an easy way to save time & words.”

Presidential Weekly Summary: Build the wall. No collusion. Witch hunt. Lock her up. Fake news. I feel badly for Paul Manafort. Obama’s fault.

To lead you into the weekly dose of satire, here’s something different. Viareggio is a popular respite by the sea on Tuscany’s west coast. Actually close to my family. Carnevale di Viareggio is a popular annual event. Let’s just say this event displays a bit of satire. For those who dare, watch a four-minute video here.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Baby feels foolish after realizing stranger waving at toddler next seat over
Limited-edition Russet potato comes with letter of authenticity
Washing machine loses man’s trust
Woman nervous for boyfriend to meet person she becomes around parents
Aging Mount St. Helen’s beginning to think erupting days are behind it
Scientists pinpoint part of brain all hairs grow out of

Interesting Reads

Women and World War II
Thinking about plastics
A bit about stupidity
A view of polarized America
Life beyond Earth?
(Graphic) A graphic worth thinking about
(Photos) Rio’s carnival celebration
(Video) Chile’s marble cathedral in a cave

To send you into the weekend, a duet that didn’t appear at the last concert. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 394

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Fleetwood Mac delivered a great show at last weekend’s aFa Weekend Concert. Reminder – no concert this weekend – but it returns next weekend with the Queen of Soul: Aretha Franklin!

Due to a hectic personal schedule, I’m unsure about the timing of the next post.

With baseball spring training in progress, 2019 will mark the 150th anniversary of the Cincinnati Reds franchise – the oldest in Major League Baseball.

As a whole, the dress on Oscars night disappointed me enough to mention it here. Actually, many were head scratchers, but thumbs up to Amy Adams, Constance Wu, Tina Fey, Amandla Stenberg, Regina King, Jennifer Lopez, and Julia Roberts.

I imagine most readers here are not familiar with Sister Rose Ann Fleming – so a Cincinnati legend, so this is a good story.

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With the final Mueller report seemingly being on the near horizon, my skeptic side feels the narratives are already established – therefore, changing nothing with the Democratic narrative and the Republican narrative are set. The unknown question is how will voters react? Then again, by the time November 2020 arrives, will voters even remember?

I normally don’t read columns by Marc Thiessen (Washington Post) because of his partisan nature. However, something compelled me to read this one, and I smiled.

A friend asked me if I thought Joe Biden could beat Donald Trump in November 2020. I said YES, but added I’m not sure he can get the Democratic nomination.

To lead you into the weekly dose of satire, The Onion looks back at the biggest Oscar snubs in history.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Teen on verge of either joining ISIS or getting super into rollerblading
Unclear why stagehand wrote heartfelt little notes to everyone in cast
Poor attendance at intervention a wake-up call
Bouncer who is not that big must be crazy
Chef makes hamburger

Interesting Reads

The US-EU trade war with olives
Evolution and humans drinking milk
Fats Domino
A Holocaust story
Verona + gnocchi = gnocchio
Correlating personal happiness and leisure time
(Photos) Iconic views
(Photos) Elton John through the years

To send you into the weekend, let’s go back to the time of Linda Ronstadt. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 393

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The aFa Weekend Concert series returns featuring Fleetwood Mac. Given the distinct nature of her voice, Stevie Nicks songs are acceptable. Concert starts Saturday at 1:00 AM (Eastern US).

On a concert note, the stage will be dark the following weekend (March 2-3) due to scheduling difficulties.

Thanks for everyone for the kind comments on my birthday post. There is something about receiving nice greetings from all over the US and throughout the world that touches my heart – and to think we’ve never met in person. For the record, comments came from 10 different US states and 8 different countries. 🙂

Not long ago we said goodbye to Curiosity, NASA’s rover on Mars. Doesn’t seem that long ago when we said hello to it with this way. Do you remember it?

 

For those who know about TEDx Talks, I recently discovered that TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. I had no clue of its meaning! For podcasts enthusiasts, I endorse TEDx podcasts.

We watched Roma, the critically acclaimed Netflix film that has received numerous Oscar nominations. For us, it’s a movie for critics and lovers of movies critics rave about that aren’t not for many of us. But hey – you may like it.

We also went to the theater for The Wife. Good movie; and Glenn Close is fabulous and worthy of her Oscar nomination and Screen Actors Guild Award.

About the previous post – the Final Jeopardy question. I based the list on Madeleine Albright’s latest book: Fascism: A Warning – not my personal opinion.

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Dear Voters in Kentucky. Thank you for sending us Mitch McConnell. He’s quite pathetic.

If Republican senators are smart, they would unquestionably vote against President Trump’s National Emergency declaration. Otherwise, they are setting themselves up for something in the future. Then again, most of them are not smart and they (and their supporters) accept their own contradictions in their “party-first” perspective.

I encourage you to write your representative and senators encouraging them to vote against President Trump’s National Emergency declaration on the grounds of a dangerous precedent for the future. I’ve written my three: two Republicans (one probably a lost cause) and a Democrat). As of this writing, the lost-cause has not responded, which I requested.

Here’s an interesting scenario from Politico about the declaration and the courts.

Democrats continue to expand the field of candidates seeking the nomination. Shame on NBC starting the debates in June – well ahead of the Iowa Caucuses in early 2020. Odds of me watching are less than very slim.

Now here’s an interesting situation to ponder about the 2020 election: Democrats gain control of the Senate, keep control of the House, and President Trump is re-elected.

To lead you into the weekly dose of satire, The Onion provides a list of pros and cons about salary transparency.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Man competitive about how depressed he is
Coworkers agog as employee introduces new shirt into rotation
Aunt scores big with nephews by dropping bombshell story about Mom smoking weed as teenager
Scientists produce rigorous study of why grapes spark in the microwave
Mass invasion of polar bears forces Russian islands to declare emergency
Man always makes sure to place phone on Silent before misplacing it

My Combo: Competitive depressed man scores spark with bombshell employee before misplacing weed misplacing new shirt

Bonus: I like this headline and image of this one about New York City police (but you’ll have to click to see).

Interesting Reads

Women and computer programming: a historical look
Policy and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Why calories are not on labels of alcoholic drinks
Albanian bunkers
Thinking non-human animals
(Article w/ interactive) International view of issues
(Graphic) Marijuana regulations in the US
(Photos) UK National Parks Photo Competition

To send you into the weekend, here’s one from the past that once I heard it earlier this week, I knew to use it here. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 392

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As always, I enjoy seeing the many interactions at the weekend concerts. Reminder: No concert this weekend.

A no-brainer. Because of sensitive skin, I use Cetaphil bar soap. I needed a bar to carry me over until my next shipping. CVS has it on sale with the second bar at half price. At $6 per bar, that’s 2 for $9. WalMart had a 3-bar pack at $8.67.

On Thursday morning, I saw this story from CBS News about descendents. Fascinating – Inspiring – and hopeful. For me, it was a worthy 6 minutes about links to Thomas Jefferson. Click here to watch.

A prisoner asked for an imam to be present at his execution. Shame on the Supreme Court for allowing the execution to proceed without the state honoring the request. Would the high court have ruled the same way if the same circumstance involved a Christian? I doubt it.

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At the time of this writing, another shutdown is possible. Here’s a scenario that wouldn’t surprise me. Congress gets a bill to President Trump, which he signs – thus no shutdown. Then he declares a National Emergency. That way he can keep the government open and play to his base. PS: It’s 5 pm (Eastern US), and this now seems to be the avenue of choice.

A friend (Tim) forwarded me this interesting column by Jennifer Rubin (Washington Post). I had to laugh because she is professing the same message I’ve been saying about 2020. However, much like their Tea Party counterparts, I can’t see (at least at his time) the enthusiastic liberals and progressives giving way.

Early in the week I encountered this quote that is very meaningful to me.

The Republicans appear gutless because few have dared complain een while their party is taken over by people who despise them; the Democrats seem unaware of something similar might happen to them. The vital center, which in the past have saved the country from divisions over a host of contentious issues, has become a lonely place – historically an augury of more extreme problems in the offing. (Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State and former US Ambassador to the United Nations, written in 2018)

Earlier in the week President Trump stated a Democratic member of Congress should resign for anti-Semitic remarks (for which she apologized). Shortly thereafter, at a rally after one of his supporters attacked a BBC photographer, he did not apologize or condemn the action – but did ask if the one attacked was OK. President Trump is, without a doubt, the most hypocritical president of my life time – as well as one who favors blaming others over accepting responsibility, favors lying to cover himself instead of building trust with others, favors intentionally exaggerating, misinforming, misleading, distorting information in order to protect himself. He is a pathetic person and an even worse leader who brings the majority of his problems on himself. Nonetheless, it’s all Obama’s fault.

To lead you into the weekly dose of satire, and as a wine drinker, I appreciated the The Onion’s information about the myths vs. facts about wine.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

  • Spacecraft from all over the galaxy to honor end to (Mars) Rover’s life
  • Man hoping girlfriend doesn’t notice Valentine’s gift came from gas station
  • Non-profit works to overturn convictions of prisoners who don’t like being in prison
  • Congress agrees to $1.3 billion for border fencers
  • Underfunded public schools lacking basic support systems leave students perfectly prepared for rest of life
  • Meals on Wheels volunteer delivers body chocolate, edible underwear to senior shut-in on Valentine’s Day

Interesting Reads

Latest Pew Research about origins and evolution
55 years ago: The Beatles and Ed Sullivan meet
Products that could replace plastic
Beer and the bier spa
Book review about Joe McCarthy
T-Rex: a sex victim
(Photos) Sony World Photography Awards

To send you into the weekend, here’s some jazz from Diana Krall with good Argentine Tango in the video. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Snit about a Fear

Breaking News Alert

I interrupt my regularly scheduled post for a timely message. Some may say a bit of a snit. Allow me to scream first.

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Although I am far from the Democratic Left, President Trump’s frequent cry of “Socialism” and Republicans yelling “Socialism” as a response to the Progressive message of the Green New Deal has gotten under my skin more than the agenda itself.

My response is an important question to the GOP and their minions: When are you going to campaign against government-run taxpayer-funded Socialstic programs?

Eliminating (not reforming) Social Security
Eliminating unemployment benefits
Eliminating food stamps
Eliminate government housing
Stop housing assistance
Stop funding public roads & schools
Eliminate disability payments
Eliminate benefits for government employees
Eliminate Medicare
Eliminate Medicaid
Eliminate financial assistance for foster care, adoption child care & development
Eliminate food and health programs for children through schools
Eliminate health insurance assistance
Eliminate assisting communities with local services
Eliminate educational loans & grants for schools & students
Eliminate funding for museums & libraries
Eliminate subsidies for business
Eliminate public-funded transportation
Eliminate farm subsidies
Abolish the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA)
Abolish the Small Business Administration (SBA)
Abolish the Veterans’ Administration (VA)

… and I’m sure there are many more examples.

I know you won’t answer the question, so I’ll answer it for you. You won’t because you are gutless hypocrites who can’t practice want they preach for you are the party of fear and anger who preys on ignorance. No wonder I left the party.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 389

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Queen headlines this weekend’s concert series. Concert time is Saturday at 1:00 AM (Eastern US).

Fiona turned 2 this week! Here’s a click with a story and a photo gallery. Need more? Here’s a collection of videos.

We recently saw Vice at the theater. Some points: 1) Christian Bale was outstanding, 2) I was never a fan of Dick Cheney or any of the neo-Conservatives, 3) I’m not a fan of hyper-partisan movies, and 4) Oscar for Best Picture? Someone had to be kidding.

I’ve finally got around to listening to Podcasts. I greatly enjoy the Ted Radio Hour. CBS journalists Mo Rocca just released his first in a series called Mobituaries. The first episode was about Vaughn Meader. Does anyone remember him? He was the famous for his President Kennedy impressions. Does the First Family Album ring a bell?

Back to podcasts. The two series listed above are 1-hour segments. Any recommendations of podcasts that are 15 minutes or less?

Remember Mr. Blackwell’s best and worst dressed lists? He died in 2008, but Roger Stone (yes – that Roger Stone – the advisor to President Trump) picked up Blackwell’s mantle. I heard an interesting interview with him about his lists – so here they are.

Congratulations to the latest inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Mike Mussina, and Edgar Martinez. Cheers to Martinez finally getting his due, and a worthy tip of the cap to Mariano Rivera for being the first player ever to receive 100% of the votes on the first ballot. A worthy honor to a top-shelf player.

Super Bowl LIII is set. Two very entertaining games last weekend, but too bad the officials made a blatant error in one game, plus I don’t like the NFL’s overtime rule that determined the second game. Personally, I hope the Rams win.

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I not only don’t I understand comments like these, I’m even more surprised that people use them and others believe them.

  • “Stalin was a socialist who wanted healthcare for all, then went on to kill 80,000 people.” (Friend on Facebook)
  • “We have a society in which there are an awful lot of people who have no idea that Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse-Tung all came to power promising the same kinds of things that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is promising. And it led to mass murder, it led to dictatorship, it led to genocide. These promises are old promises and they invariably lead to bad things.” (Ben Stein)

For goofy statements like the above, I have a simple response: Although I may not agree with the Left, I am glad they have their heads in the cloud because it is a response to the Right who have their heads up their ass – and I’m glad to be grounded with my eyes open and my brain thinking.

With all the bluster about the upcoming State of the Union, I could care less because I won’t be watching or listening.

Interesting how President Trump offered a DACA deal to the Democrats, and then the Supreme Court steps on Trump’s previous DACA actions. Oh how the stories around this administration get weirder and weirder.

White House Counsel Rudy Giuliani is competing with President Trump for best entertainment to those who know better. Earlier this week The Onion has this great headline: Giuliani: ‘Let’s Just Start Everything Over’ … and this Stephen Colbert about Rudy intro made me laugh. (It’s less than a minute.)

To lead you into The Onion, this headline and accompanying image may be one of the best ever. Click here to see.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Man beginning to worry that best meals already behind him
Trump dismisses Trump as a distraction
Doctor weirded out by patient providing every lucid detail of medical history
Woman rushes to hide fragile objects, cover up sharp corners on tables before boyfriend comes over
Queen Elizabeth watches as oxen pull apart farmer who failed to provide yearly tithe of grain
Weird kid opts to sit perfectly still, let universe decide his fate after teacher instructs class to pair up

Interesting Reads

Rural states and clean energy
Ten cultural items turning 30
Tough economic times at Amsterdam brothels
Major news from the world of frog dating
Quinoa whiskey
(Photos) The architect exiled by Nazis
(Chart) Coal use by country

To send you into the weekend, here’s a song that I stumble across the other day that I hadn’t heard in a long time. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.