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 Rand Paul (R-KY) has withdrawn.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.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 288

Circled Moon

A Halo for the Moon – 23rd January 2016 – Cincinnati, OH

My wife took this picture last Saturday night. We’ve never seen anything like this before – the moon enclosed in a perfect ring – a halo. A little bit of research led me to an explanation. The refraction (bending) and reflection of light by ice crystals in high cirrus clouds create the halo. This article at EarthSky explains – plus it has fabulous images.

An FYI: I saw this in Consumer Reports, and notice a difference. If you feel eye strain from your time on the computer, consider wearing UVEX Skyper glasses (available from Amazon).

We recently watched a fascinating episode about Iran on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown (CNN). The time was very well spent, and you can watch it on Vimeo. The recent release of journalist Jason Rezaian makes this episode even more compelling.

Last weekend we attended the latest Dancing With the Stars touring show. Wow – and they ever talented! Interesting how each dancer transforms their different physique into their own unique expression. Pros at this show were Peta, Sharna, Emma, Lindsay, Val, Keo, Artem, and extras Jenna, Alan, & Brittney – plus last season’s participant Alex Skarlatos. The way their stage set worked was awesome, but I’m bummed that I didn’t get to dance with Sharna.

Colors: The Musical is off to a good start. “Black” offered a long list of available songs – so many that I could have easily added a song in my responses (but my time was limited). Nonetheless, at the time of this writing, Act 1 contains over 30 songs. Well done! Information about Act 2’s theme and date will appear in next week’s OITS – however, the info will first appear on the Hear Ye page.

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

I laugh and shake my head at the contradiction in something I frequently hear from candidates: We must return to the basics of the US Constitution, and then pass a balanced-budget amendment (or a term-limits amendment).

The latest Republican debate is airing at the time of this posting. In advance, there is a lot of buzz about Donald Trump (R-NY) skipping the event. Yawn.

A few weeks ago I stated the importance of the March 1 Republican primaries. With less than a week before the Iowa caucus, I believe the March 15th primaries are key to the Democratic race.

The concept of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg making an independent run for the White House got my attention. Then again, the odds of a perfect storm are remote, so I don’t think it will happen. Besides, a strong third-party candidate could cause the House of Representatives to determine the next US President – and I don’t trust that group!

In case you missed it, Tina Fey’s on the last SNL was awesome! (Watch here)

My normal fact check resources didn’t have information regarding the Democratic Town Hall event in Iowa … but CNN had one.

FactCheck.org (from the Annenberg Public Policy Center) put together a set of statistics gathered during President Obama’s term (20 January 2009 up to 12 January 2016).

To lead you into your weekly dose of satire, The Onion explains how dating sites match their users.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Disney World opens new Ordeal Kingdom for family meltdowns
Boss wants friendly, relaxed company culture in place by Friday
Lazy, overweight cockroach no longer has segmented abdomen
90% of workplace injuries caused by bare-knuckle boxing
Breaking News: Some bullshit happening somewhere

Interesting Reads
Consumers and health-care shopping
Columnist David Ignatius about battling the Islamic State
The first person diagnosed with autism
A fun 3-minute quiz
Ten greatest military blunders of WW II
(Mainly images) The salt-flats of Bolivia

Time for a 2-fer with an Act 1-leftover of jazz (Diana Krall),  and popular rock (Police) to lead you into the weekend. 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. 287

A major snow storm is forming in the central US and aiming at the major cities on the eastern seaboard. It appears (at the publish time) the brunt of the storm will pass to the south of Cincinnati … but that could change. Good luck to everyone affected.

We saw the movie Carol. Very interesting and I can see how critics love the movie. Although the setting was New York City in the 1950s, it was filmed here in Cincinnati – so my eyes were on the constant lookout for familiar sights.

I didn’t know that Iranian women can drive and vote – something that Saudi women cannot.

St. Louis lost another sports team as the Rams leave the Gateway Arch city for more lucrative offer in Los Angeles. The NFL is a money-making machine, and each team is worth in billions. I don’t know the stadium deal in LA, but I do know that teams have held (and continue to hold) their city and county governments hostage to build them a stadium for their product. What a shame.

I recently started a second volunteer project as I attend a Senior Living complex for an hour of ballroom. The lady attendees don’t move well, but their smiles are priceless.

We enjoyed this lemon risotto recipe by Rachael Ray.

Although far from perfect, no doubt in my mind that player on-court sportsmanship is much better in basketball than football.

Hats off to ML Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred for allowing the Cincinnati Reds to induct Pete Rose into the team’s Hall of Fame, retire his number, and place a statue on the plaza outside the stadium … all of which his peckerhead predecessor wouldn’t consider.

Although some spotted the preview announcement on the Hear Ye page. Opening Night for Colors: The Musical is January 26th, curtain time at 9:30 pm (Eastern US). All songs must include Black in the song title, but not compound words containing black. Shades of black are also unacceptable. The Hear Ye page also contains information about other acts and the awesome Marina-designed Playbill cover. Resa is also offering her wardrobe-design services for this gala event.

I’ve seen several segments of the CNN special The Person Who Changed My Life (this Sunday, 8 pm, Eastern US). I hope to record to watch later, thus encourage readers to turn in.

There will be an Explore this weekend – and I will say it’s not a person, not a place … but a thing.

I imagine the majority of the people of Iowa can’t wait for the circus to leave town.

A question I would want to ask the Republican candidates: If you don’t believe that humans have influenced climate change, would you reduce the research efforts of governmental groups as NASA and NOAA who support these findings?

Here are the fact checks for the most-recent Republican debate: Politifact, Annenberg Fact Check, Associated Press, Washington Post.

… and the most-recent Democratic debate: Politifact, Annenberg Fact Check, Associated Press, Washington Post.

This Monday, CNN is hosting a Democratic Town Hall event with the 3 seeking the party’s nomination. Yep – I won’t be watching, thus my record will remain perfect.

Other than via comments on these pages, I ran into the first person who is also unhappy with the fact that our governor is drawing a salary while running for president … and I didn’t prompt the suggestion.

Sarah Palin (R-AK) (aka The Nincompoop) returns to the news cycle to endorse Donald Trump (R-NY) … perfect!

Meanwhile, dysfunction continues in The Nincompoop family. After her son’s arrest for domestic violence, The Nincompoop placed the blame on President Obama … Classic Nincompoopian … and priceless.

Something to ponder: Is Sarah Palin a celebrity or a politician?

To lead you toward the weekly dose of satire, The Onion offers tips on arranging a funeral.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Kind Of music that’s playing indicates movie character must be entering Italy
NCAA investigating God for giving athletes gifts
Naughty EpiPen reveals naked lady when injected
Bungled Apocalypse causes light drizzle over Southern Ohio
Porn DVD’s commentary track just more moaning
Drummer forced to retrieve sticks from audience for encore

Interesting Reads
The Stormtrooper army
The dogs that protect little penguins
Saudi women
Vintage vending machines (Thanks, Tim)
The global movement of money
That many in the human body! Really?
(Pictures) Three colors

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. 286

As a wine enthusiast, this 15-second commercial for Ally Bank makes me laugh. (Not the best sound on this one) – but I don’t know why Ally Bank doesn’t post it on their YouTube channel.

After watching two current movies, I see a strong connection between two unlikely films – The Big Short and Concussion … and I recommend both films.

For those who enjoy a good fireworks display, I enjoyed the New Year’s display from London. Click here for a a fun 11 minutes.

Did you see the preview of the major announcement on the Hear Ye page?

The attacks this week in Istanbul and Jakarta are troubling. Unfortunately, I fear the world is going to be dealing with this problem for more years than we want … no matter what Washington does.

In order to quicken the pace on improving my handbell skills, I started practicing with the second choir at our church this week. Their music is easier, so I can work on my technique and get back to reading music. I see it as a boot camp to sharpen my skills for a few weeks.

There will be an Explore this weekend.

Thank you readers, especially those who don’t follow sports, for tolerating my vent on the previous post.

The first 10 minutes of the State of the Union (SOTU) was on (while I was blogging) because my wife was watching. The partisanship of the event drives me nuts. I wish all the members in the audience would quietly and respectfully sit and listen from start to finish … but that’s asking a bit too much from our elected officials.

I’m glad President Obama included the partisan gridlock in the SOTU. (I read this portion of the transcript after seeing the news reports.) Although the Republican caucus makes it difficult, I openly wonder about the White House’s role in the obstruction.

For those thinking I only pick on Republicans, below are the fact-checks of President Obama’s State of the Union … here is the speech’s transcript … (and the fact checks) Politifact,  Annenberg Fact Check,  Associated PressWashington Post

As Donald Trump (R-NY) questions Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) citizenship, I say the Democrats should not address this issue now or in the future. Don’t stoop that low! Should the question be answered? Absolutely – but not by those with a political motive. I say the Republican Party should launch the initiative to determine the answer – but I very much doubt that will happen.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) needs votes, so he pouts and declines to participate in the lower-tier debate. Now that makes a lot of sense.

Speaking of Mr. Trump, I listened to much of two of his speeches. I encourage others to do so, but I won’t say why.

To lead you into The Onion, here is their list of pros and cons regarding helicopter parenting.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Pope Francis Wearing Sweater Vestments He Got For Christmas (I like the picture)
Emotional NRA President honors victims of background checks
Minimalism Overdone
Study Links Binge Eating To Stress, Contentment, Depression, Joy, Boredom, Anger, Relaxation
New Survey Reveals Chicken-Fried Steak Leads Pork-Fried Pork As Nation’s Favorite Meat-Fried Meat

Interesting Reads
For the political junkies, a Republican’s view of the party’s 2016 options
A public-union case at the US Supreme Court
A short primer to understanding Islam (Thanks Jim W)
David Bowie’s life in pictures
Gene editing: the positives and negatives
In his own words: How a gym teacher invented basketball in 1891
Is China scared of ghost films?

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. 285

Welcome to the first OITS of 2016. It’s been a few weeks since the last edition, so there is much to address … so hang on!

A firefighter in the area lost recently his life in a fire. No other professional responds to losing their own the way fire and police personnel – which impresses me.

This one caused me to shake my head in disgust: Car thieves use a device to detect keyless entry codes from the owner to get into a car.

The day before I posted the Explore post about Bratislava (Slovakia), Cindy had this post about the city I want to visit … then she answered my comment with these words. (I invite readers to visit her post.)

How synchronistic! You will love Slovakia. Be sure and savor the countryside and the nearby Carpathian Mountains. Bratislava is a wonderful surprise. It is not as hyped as much of Europe but it has the history, culture and food to make it high on my list of fascinating places.

There will be an Explore post this weekend.

When the National Anthem is played before a sport event, the actions of the athletes are many.
A tip of the cap to Buzz Williams, the head basketball coach at Virginia Tech, for his approach .. and thanks to my friend (Jim) for finding this.

Although my WordPress Annual Report (here) shows a continued downward trend in overall statistics in my little corner of the world, I keep blogging because I enjoy writing and greatly appreciate my community. Below are several notes from the report.

  • 2015’s visitors came from 111 countries
  • Top Commenters (and I encourage others to visit them)
    • Dale, the good lady from the Montreal area who also serves as Maitre d’ at the musicals
    • Elyse, royalty from Northern Virginia who can order beheadings
    • Resa, the classy wardrobe designer from Toronto who loves to photograph murals
    • Carrie, the witty doctor/fiction writer from northern Ohio
    • Marina, a sincere artist and musician from Greece
  • Top Viewed New Posts

Milestones remain fun to note as I surpassed 250,000 views last weekend.

To the surprise of many and after 20 months away, I returned to the bell choir this week for the rest of the ringing season (through May). Other than the missed notes, wrong notes, silent rings, poor counting, getting lost, poor technique, and realization that I’m now the worst ringer in the group, I did OK.

I received an email from ShySchoolGirl to sign up for watching her on a camera. What would she be doing – her homework?

Congratulations to the winner of the Politifact Lie of the Year (2015) for the well-deserved honor.

To the Republican candidates who say President Obama’s Executive Order about guns is unconstitutional or an overreach, either shut-up or get it to the courts ASAP. Given their propensity for pandering and a lack of guts, they won’t act.

Republican candidate Carly Fiorina (R-CA) rooting against her alma mater (Stanford) in the Rose Bowl is an odd way to pander for vote. Then again, I see it as poor character.

As the media focuses on Iowa and New Hampshire, I say, Blah, blah, blah – thus, point to March 1st as a more significant date.

Both parties have debates next week … oh boy … two more for me to miss.

With the politics of opposition stronger than ever, I would ask this question to all the candidates in both parties (and with my finger on the trapdoor): Other than welcoming members of the opposing party to join your ideas, give a specific example of how you would work through the current political gridlock.

The annual State of the Union (SOTU), which is a Constitutional requirement, is approaching. SOTU is a presidential requirement of the Constitution, thus I remain 100% against the opposing party having their own response.

The Lugar Center and the Georgetown University McCord Center of Public Policy developed a Bipartisan Index rating system of senators. Over the past 20 years, the index rates 227 senators, including the current president & vice president, current majority leaders, and current & past presidential candidates. The site includes tabs with a variety of information. I captured some of the notables. – Note: The lower the ranking (shown), the higher the bipartisanship rating – Joe Biden (37), Harry Reid (47), John McCain (60), Lindsay Graham (122), Mitch McConnell (129), John Kerry (136), Hillary Clinton (156), Barack Obama (165), Marco Rubio (170), Bernie Sanders (217), Rand Paul (222), Ted Cruz (224).

Here are a few gems to lead you into The Onion …

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Trophy wife to inject a bit more collagen into her lips just in case
Cloned cat neutered
A yawn has been going around town for two straight weeks
Dead man told it’s going to be all right
Man who stayed up until dawn eating mice refers to self as night owl
Local man relieved to be back where his sex toys are compatible with the electrical outlets

Interesting Reads
Columnist David Brooks about the age of small terror (Thanks, Tim)
Views of freedoms across the world (by Pew Research)
Presidential candidates about Alzheimer’s
Nature’s built-in warning system
A columnist writes about the behavior of athletes
A view of religion’s interplay with science
Photos by the BBC’s Travel Photographer of the Year

To send you into the weekend, enjoy this hit from 1969. 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. 282

Much on my current plate has limited my blogging time – thus I’m way behind on my visits. Thanksgiving travels, a paint brush, having contractors in the home, and normal routines serve as another example of life getting in the way of blogging.

Sky: The Musical – Act 3 (about 24 songs) is complete, therefore only two acts to go. Act 4 features songs with Moon/Moons in the title. As with previous acts, no compound words or other forms of moon. Curtain time is Tuesday, December 8th at 9:30 pm (Eastern US). Acts 5 information is on the Hear Ye page, along with another important announcement.

Plans are still moving ahead for another Holiday party, save the date – Saturday December 19th – and surprise gift bags will be available! The past 2 years I’ve used store at The Onion, so it’s time for a change – but I will remain mum on the store. Meanwhile, tell your friends about the holiday party as everyone is welcome – besides, tell them I’m a wonderful host.

Because of knowing it would put me further behind, no Explore post this weekend.

The first week of December is always difficult. Back-to-back days are anniversaries (different years) of the passing of a very good friend and my mother-in-law.

This week I received an email with “horny area girl” in the subject line – but I wonder if only people in my area received this message. Did any of you get this email?

The mass shooting in California delivers another black eye to the USA. Republicans deplore the tragedy and issue “thoughts and prayers” to the families, yet continue to do nothing in Congress about gun violence. Just another example of one’s actions – not one’s words – demonstrates the truest value.

I’m sure President Obama is unhappy with the lack of legislation by Congress regarding guns. Nonetheless, he accepts the fact that nothing will probably come forth. On the other hand, Congressional Republicans continue to legislate attempts to unravel the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), even though they know President Obama will veto the legislation, plus the votes probably don’t exist to override the veto.

In this lengthy presidential campaign season, I (unlike others) haven’t worried about the possibility of Ben Carson (R-Md) getting the Republican nomination – and the more he talks, the more he secures my initial thoughts. His latest analogy relating the money spent on Halloween candy to money being spent on Syrian refugees is a head-scratching comment in several ways. To learn more about the comment, here’s the transcript from the interview.

For the upcoming debate, Donald Trump (R-NY) asked CNN to pay him (in the form of a donation to a charity) for appearing in the debate – thus has threatened not to appear if the network doesn’t comply. We’ll learn more about this on December 15th (debate night). For those worrying about him leading the polls, let’s not forget that 30% of Republicans represents about 7% of voters.

For those wondering why I’m not watching the debates, the reasons are simple:

  • The nomination involves the party faithful making a decision
  • I won’t be voting in the Ohio primary (that is, in neither party)
  • I have plenty of time to make an informed decision
  • Watching is a waste of my time as I would rather be blogging

Have you seen Spectre, the latest Bond film? To lead you into The Onion, here is their movie review.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Environmental Protection Agency urges nation to get new air source
Woman confusingly tells area man she is not interested in him
Allergies prevent man from enjoying dust
Middle-age woman tired of going back and forth between divorced parents’ nursing homes
Ohio replaces lethal injection with new head-ripping-off machine
Prostitute accepts better-paying sexual position

Interesting Reads
Connected learning impacting education
How dogs make friends for humans
After the antibiotics era
30 great one-liners by US Presidents
Six graphics explaining climate change
(Photos) Haunting images of Central Park

A 2-fer is here to send you into the weekend – a leftover from Act 3 and a classic. 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. 277

Cheers to your efforts of making Act 3 of Dance The Musical a success.

In the next and last act for Dance: The Musical, Act 4 provides the biggest challenge of any musical act.

  • Songs must feature the name of a dance in the title
  • Waltz, Macarena, and Hokey Pokey are acceptable examples … BUT ….
  • No dance can be used more than once
  • No children songs
  • Info is on the Hear Ye page
  • Performance time: next Tuesday at 9:30 pm (Eastern US)

I will probably have an Explore post this weekend.

Wouldn’t you know it. Kim Davis (the Kentucky County Clerk) finally made a good decision, and then screws it up when she added a disclaimer line to the marriage license. The lady doesn’t get it and I think she’s getting lousy legal advice. Meanwhile, The Onion got their word in by doing this profile on her.

In terms of the second Republican Debate, yep – I followed my same format as before: deciding not to watch, then get some information from a variety of talking heads. The day after I watched both CNN and Fox News … and I came away with the same conclusion about these two networks – There’s no way they were talking about the same event – although the difference wasn’t as vastly different as after the first debate.

I discovered (from NPR) the amount of talk-time for each candidate in the second debate. The data supports my idea that the “debate” is the wrong term. Although the evening’s rules naturally skew the results.
TalkTime2For the interested, here are various FactChecks from the event: PolitiFactsWashington PostCNNFox NewsAssociated Press

To lead you into this week’s satire, here’s The Onion’s help to parent when talking to children about death.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (Combos welcome)

  • Juggler’s Medication Wears Off Halfway Through Routine
  • Report: 92% Of Americans Would Have Gotten Over Ex By Now
  • Report: Oyster Cracker–Wise, Nation Doing Pretty Good
  • Google Engineers Invent New Body Part To Strap Gadgets Onto
  • Weather Report: Upturned earthworms imminent
  • Gender Guessed Correctly On Second Try

Interesting Reads
Pope Francis and the Vatican: Who changes who?
The blind hiker
China’s growing middle class
Africa’s population boom
(Video) Connection in and through dance (Thanks Lame)
Headless chicken
(Photos) Autumn in Alaska

Here is another two-fer to lead you into the weekend. A leftover from Act 4 (I was surprised it wasn’t used) and a rock classic. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.