Posts Tagged ‘fish’

Random Friday Thoughts — July 8, 2016

I hope you’re enjoying your week following the Fourth of July weekend.

I loved the cooler temperatures last weekend, but the heat and humidity definitely returned to the Midwest.

As always, I appreciate you checking out my random thoughts and many of you did last Friday, so thank you again.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

I want to extend Happy Anniversary wishes to one of the most perfect couples — my favorite President Jimmy Carter and his beautiful bride, Rosalynn.

Jimmy & Rosalynn.jpg

Thursday marked the couple’s 70th wedding anniversary.

After the couple married in their hometown of Plains, Georgia, they lived in several different parts of the country when President Carter was in the Navy.  After that, they returned to Plains to run the family’s peanut farm and business before moving on to Atlanta to become to Governor and First Lady of Georgia.

As I’ve written before, as a 12-year-old boy, I accompanied my grandmother, Helen, who was mostly illiterate into the voting booth in November 1976 in Mayfield, Kentucky, and placed my first presidential vote for the former Georgia governor.

I want to think that my vote was instrumental in him winning my state’s nine electoral votes.

CarterPres

I went with her again in 1980 and, again, voted for President Carter.

I’ll be visiting Atlanta in early September for the first time and I can’t wait to see the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.  I’m so hoping that the former President and First Lady will be speaking at the Carter Center while I’m there.

So, President and Mrs. Carter, I’d love to treat you to an anniversary lunch or dinner if our path’s cross in Atlanta this September!  🙂

Happy Anniversary!

President-Jimmy-and-Rosalynn-Carter1

In case you missed it, here’s the blog from four years ago confessing my admiration for President and Mrs. Carter. (It’ll open in a new window and you won’t lose your place in this week’s blog.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/forget-marilyn-i-want-my-week-with-jimmy/

SAD STATE OF THE WORLD

I already had this week’s “Random Friday Thoughts” ready to post when the bloodshed in Dallas, Texas, became the top story.

Dallas

A sniper (or snipers) opened fire on about 100 police officers at a demonstration of around 800 people in Dallas.  Eleven police officers were shot and, at least, five were dead.

The group gathered to protest two police-related deadly shootings this week — one in Louisiana and the other in Minnesota.

At least three people were in custody after an exchange of gunfire with police at a parking garage downtown.

This story is changing by the minute and will continue to do so throughout the day and weekend.

the real world

America and the world, violence is and has always been a part of our existence.   But, the lack of empathy and the total disregard for life and our fellow man has to change.

I’m a realist and I know how this will play out, but I truly want society and mankind to prove me wrong!

STOP THE HATE

(This part of the blog was already written before the Dallas shooting spree.)

It’s been almost a month since the deadly shooting at the gay nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando, Florida.

49 people were gunned down and another 53 were injured.

There have been many vigils and memorials in the past few weeks.

Now, heavyweight producer Ryan Murphy (“American Horror Story”, “American Crime Story”, “Scream Queens”, and “Glee”) is behind a very powerful and beautiful 18-minute video tribute featuring Hollywood stars sharing the stories of each of the 49 victims’ lives with their photographs.

The video may be long, but that time pales in comparison to the lifetime that each of those 49 people will never experience now.

I hope you take the time to watch it.

So touching and heartbreaking!

THOSE “DAMN EMAILS”

“The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.”

Those words came from Senator Bernie Sanders on October 13, 2015 (my birthday)  in a Democratic debate with Hillary Clinton, the presumptive U.S. Presidential nominee, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Clinton quickly replied with a chuckle, “Thank you. Me, too.  Me, too.”

DEM 2016 Debate

Now, almost nine months later, the debate is over with FBI Director James Comey stating in a press conference with his agency’s decision, “Our judgement is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

But, Comey did call Clinton’s handling of private emails “extremely careless.”

Yesterday, while being grilled by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he basically said that none of the Clinton documents in the investigation had headers stating it was “classified”.

Now that precedence is set, hopefully every Secretary of State from John Kerry forward will learn from this and new guidelines will be instituted that can keep up with the always changing internet world.

BENGHAZI — FOUR YEARS LATER

If you asked Americans what country Benghazi is in or where to find it on the map, most would not know.  From a security standpoint four years ago, our own government didn’t seem to have it (and several other places) high on their radar either.

It didn’t seem like a priority until September 11, 2012, when Islamic militants killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans there.

The U.S. government, the Obama administration, and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted formal responsibility and she said this of the blame game, “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”

Hearing were held and many studies were conducted (even independent ones).  Yet, in this presidential election year, people are still looking for the “silver bullet” to implicate Clinton for this tragedy.

The Stevens Family.jpg

Dr. Anne Stevens, the sister of Ambassador Stevens, is that family’s spokesperson and she says the latest reports added nothing new because it was already established that Benghazi was not secure.

Stevens adds, “I do not blame Hillary Clinton or Leon Panetta. They were balancing security efforts at embassies and missions around the world. And their staffs were doing their best to provide what they could with the resources they had. The Benghazi Mission was understaffed. We know that now. But, again, Chris knew that. It wasn’t a secret to him. He decided to take the risk to go there. It is not something they did to him. It is something he took on himself.”

Clinton Stevens.jpg

And, when asked what Chris would have thought about this year’s upcoming presidential election, she says, “I know he had a lot of respect for Secretary Clinton. He admired her ability to intensely read the issues and understand the whole picture.”

Sadly, many people are keeping this tragedy alive, not because they are saddened by the loss of Ambassador Stevens and the three other men, to make it another piece of this year’s election puzzle.

It’s time to make security changes to ensure this doesn’t happen again, and, most of all, it’s time to move on people.

“13 HOURS:  THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI”

When it was announced in late 2014 that director Michael Bay would be bringing a movie about the Benghazi tragedy to the big screen, I didn’t have any interest in seeing it.

He’s famous for making popcorn movies geared toward teenage fanboys and fangirls (“The Transformers” series and “Armageddon”).

However, once I heard that the movie wasn’t just propaganda (it was released two weeks before the Iowa Caucus on February 1, 2016, which is the kick-off to the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election), I decided I would check it out on DVD.

It’s much better than I expected it to be.  From a Hollywood telling of real life events, it was definitely a great thriller.  It ended up making about $70 million in theaters with a $50 million budget.

Since we’re talking about the movie here, John Krasinski looks incredible with his newly buffed physique.

GRADE:  B

TICKETMASTER & FREE TICKETS

The concert movie giant is trying to make good after a losing a lawsuit over the crazy fees it charges.

Ticketmaster has already released two waves of tickets totaling almost $15 million, but it’s only for select concerts and venues.

It’s a nice gesture, but it’ll not likely benefit most of the customers it ripped off over the years, including myself.

Here’s a July 1st post from Ticketmaster:

tm

Ticketmaster, I have an idea if you really (and I stress, REALLY) want to make good on redemption from your shady activities that got you sued.

Since you’re only offering select number of tickets anyway, let us pick the general admission seats to the concerts we’d want to attend — if seats are available.

For instance, there are two shows that still have plenty of cheap seats open in Las Vegas when I’m there later this month.  Let me use my free vouchers there.

Just a thought!

SULLY

You might not remember that it was in January 2009, but I’m sure just looking at this photo, you’ll remember the story.

Flight 1549

This is US Airways Flight 1549 resting on the Hudson River after taking off from LaGuardia Airport in New York City.

Shortly after take-off, the plane hit a flock of Canadian geese, which caused engine failure.

57-year-old Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger and 49-year-old First Officer Jeff Skiles skillfully saved all 155 passengers on board in this amazing, unpowered emergency water landing.

Director Clint Eastwood and Oscar winner Tom Hanks are bringing this amazing story to the big screen September 9th.

The movie also stars Aaron Eckhart as Skiles and Oscar nominee Laura Linney as Sully’s wife, Lorraine.

FISH POND UPDATE

It appears that the anti-viral chemical we’re using in the fish pond is making a difference!

As I told you in last week’s “Random Friday Thoughts”, we had four larger koi to die in about a week’s time and then we quickly treated the pond with an agent to fight viruses in case the last fish we acquired were sick.

Sadly, Snowflake, another of the larger koi, died last weekend.  (She’s on the left here.  Pumpkin Pie, my favorite fish, on the right, died two weeks ago.)

Snowflake Pumpkie Pie

While I think the medicine is definitely working, it was already too late for Snowflake.

FIRST LADIES

For the past three weeks, I’ve been sharing tidbits from the book I read called “First Ladies” by Betty Boyd Caroli.

I’m wrapping it up this week.

First Ladies

Eleanor Roosevelt:   She worked for the advancement of women and civil rights for black Americans.  Many saw her and FDR as a team in politics.  She loved press conferences — she had 348 in the three terms as First lady.  She also ended Prohibition by serving wine in the White House in 1934.

Elizabeth “Bess” Truman:  She and President Harry Truman made it no secret that they closely worked together for his policies.  She didn’t travel by air and mostly took the train.  Unlike her First Lady predecessor, she hated press conferences and only gave one!

Mamie Eisenhower:  Her favorite color was pink and she surrounded herself with it.  She saw her role as wife as secondary and supportive.  She made many “best dressed” lists, but often bought clothes off the rack.  While she exuded a “soft” side, White House staff saw her as militaristic.

Jacqueline Kennedy:  She worked hard to restore the White House (she didn’t like the word “redecorate”).  She was the first First Lady to hire her own press secretary and she was very into art and not just what was popular at the time.

Lady Bird Johnson:  Her first name was Claudia.  She borrowed against her inheritance, so her husband, LBJ, could run for Congress in Texas in 1937.  She also borrowed money to buy an Austin radio station in 1942 and when television took off in the 1950s, her broadcasting complex made her a very rich woman.  She’s best known for supporting the environment and for starting Highway Beautification projects.

Pat Nixon:  Thelma was her first name.  In her renovations of the White House, she made it more accessible for disabled and the sight-impaired.  She responded to her correspondences individually and she was also a well-traveled First Lady visiting 83 nations.

Betty Ford:  Her real name was Elizabeth.  She was widely lauded (and likely mocked) for her frankness — about her kids, health problems, and her life, including using Valium.  She wasn’t afraid to share her views even when they contradicted President Gerald Ford’s stances.

Rosalynn Carter:  Her first name is Eleanor and she gave the valedictory speech at her high school graduation of eleven students in Plains, Georgia.  As First Lady of Georgia and the country, she worked very hard for mental health reforms.  She also fought to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified.  She also played a big role in the Middle East Peace Talks at Camp David by making many trips back to Washington D.C. during the lengthy process to stand in at events for President Jimmy Carter.

Nancy Reagan:  She wasn’t shy about asking for White House renovations and new china even as the country was in a major recession.  She was often criticized for influencing her husband, especially in his second term.  The “New York Times” even wrote about her “Associate Presidency”.

Barbara Bush:   She worked hard during her White House years for literacy and to bring attention to the fight against AIDS.  She was heavily into volunteerism before she became First Lady.

Hillary Rodham Clinton:  As First Lady, she was seen as highly ambitious because she was a strong woman that worked on policy for her husband.  To counter criticism, she lightened her hair, wore a more feminine wardrobe, and cut back on her public speaking.  To top it off, she even added her married name publicly to her already establish name of “Hillary Rodham”.

This book was updated in 1993 and it didn’t have chapters on Laura Bush and Michelle Obama.

HIllary Flag

One last interesting comment that the author made was “By 1993, the credentials of First Lady Hillary Clinton looked very much like those of the President.”

Prophetic much???? 🙂

PICK HIT

I saw Cardiknox, the pop duo of Thomas Dutton and lead singer Lonnie Angle, open for Carly Rae Jepsen in New York City in March on the “Emotion Tour”.

They are full of energy and their debut album, “Portrait”, is fantastic.

Here’s their new video, “Wild Child”.

PICK HIT BONUS

I also want to share the first song and video from the album, “On My Way”, which is one of my favorite songs of 2016.

The video is amazing because it definitely looks like it done in one take with no edits.

THAT’S IT

With all that’s going on in the world, I hope you can make your little part of this f**ked up world a little brighter!

Anthony

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Random Friday Thoughts — July 1, 2016

The Fourth of July weekend is upon us and that means the first half of the year is already behind us.  Time flies when you’re having fun or so they say.

Have a safe holiday weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts.  As always, feel free to let me know your thoughts.

NO DOG IN MY FUTURE — MAYBE EVER!

ABBAAnthonyLD2009

It’s been almost four-and-a-half years since Miss ABBA went to puppy heaven and people understandably ask, “When are you getting another dog?”.  I always thought that we would one day.

However, over the past week, I’ve come to the realization that I don’t think I need one!

As you know, Ray and I built our first fish pond a few years back and last summer, we expanded it from a mere 200 gallons to 1,000 gallons.

Fish Pond

It’s so much fun to watch the 50-plus fish at feeding time and the sound of the waterfall is so relaxing.

Sadly, it’s likely that Blizzard, the largest and most recent fish we acquired, or one of the small koi we just bought was sick.

Without warning, Blizzard died early last week.  It came as a total shock and then the real trauma hit me.

Last Friday, my favorite fish, Pumpkin Pie, the one I saved from the mink last summer, died.

Pumpkin Pie is the orange one with black spots and Snowflake is the yellowish/white one.

Snowflake Pumpkie Pie

I held her (or him) as it died.  It was heartbreaking and I cried.  At that point, I realized that I’ll not ready for the heartbreak of losing another pet.

After Blizzard and Pumpkin Pie, two days later, Strong, a koi that we adopted from our friends Nathan and Amanda died, followed by one more large fish, Norma Bates, the next day.  (Yes, we name the big ones and a few of the small ones.)

As hard as we work to keep the fish pond clean and happy, the fear quickly set in that this wasn’t just a coincidence and that a fish bacteria or virus was raging through the pond.

The pond is now being treated by a strong anti-virus treatment and we hope that the last of the five or so large fish survive.  So far, none of the 40-plus small fish (mostly goldfish) have been affected.

In memory of the four fish, we planted ornamental grasses around the pond.

Here’s a another look at a happier day not too long ago when Pumpkin Pie, Strong, and Norma Bates were alive and well!  (All three are in this video — the largest ones!)

PEOPLE NEED SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN

Many people choose the Bible when they need something to believe in.  However, others put their faith and money, money, money into self-help books and motivational speakers.

Look at 56-year-old infomercial star Tony Robbins.  He’s made so much money convincing people that they can do almost anything they set their minds to.

That trust and faith sent dozens to the hospital late last week in Texas.

About thirty people were burned and had to be treated after walking on hot coals in a fire walking event at a seminar in Dallas.  Several were hospitalized and others were transported to medical facilities that treat burns.

Coal Fire Burns

Jennifer Connelly, a spokesperson for Robbins says, “The fire walk portion of the event has been celebrated for 35 years.”

She adds that the goal of the exercise is to have guests to feel no discomfort afterwards, but it’s “not uncommon to have fewer than one percent of participants experience ‘hot spots’, which is similar to a sunburn, which can be treated with aloe.”

Um, I think she has this terribly wrong.  Burn treatment at a hospital sounds much different than hot spots and a sunburn.

Seriously people, believe in yourself and not some person that wants your money because they know you’re weak!

PRIDE HIGHLIGHTS

Pride parades were held all across the world this past weekend and earlier in June.

Years & Years, the English dance band, with openly gay lead singer Olly Alexander played the annual Glastonbury Festival in England last weekend.

IFDecked out in a rainbow flag outfit, he told the crowd, “As you might be able to tell by the way that I’m dressed, I’m gay. And in fact, I’m really, really, super gay.

And, then he got more serious about the recent tragedies like the Pulse massacre in Orlando, Florida earlier this month.

“But what I keep thinking about in the last year, some crappy and messed up stuff has happened.  As a queer person, as queer people, we know what it’s like to be scared and we know what’s it like to live with fear as part of our every day. But tonight, at Glastonbury, I would like to ask you to join me on Pride weekend and say, ‘no thank you fear. Bye fear bye.  Shove a rainbow in fear’s face.  All I have to say to finish is, I am here and queer and sometimes I am afraid but I am never ashamed of who I am.”

Jessie-Eisenberg-London-Pride

Meanwhile, on Pride weekend in London, “Now You See Me 2” actor Jesse Eisenberg left a West End stage rehearsal of “The Spoils” and walked by an anti-Pride Christian group.

He was asked “Is your mind closed?” by a man offering a brochure.  Eisenberg responded, “That’s so f*cking sad.”

The man asked the same question again and Jesse scoffed and laughed adding, “Is my mind closed?  That’s so f*cked up” and walked away.

Hillary PrideBack in the the United States, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton made a surprise visit and walked in New York City’s Pride parade.

NO PRIDE HERE, JUST SHAME!

As many of you know, Pride parades and celebrations started 46 years ago when the gay community took a stand and said we’re not hiding away in the shadows of society any longer.

We’ve made so much progress and there’s still so much more room for advancement.

Sadly, in the LGBT community as it is in society in general, there are those that do things that shine a really bad light on others.

Tennessee Violent Crimes

YouTuber Calum McSwiggan claims that three men attacked him outside a West Hollywood, California gay bar earlier this week.

But, police now say that he faked the report and actually injured himself inside the cell with a pay phone to cover up his arrest on vandalism charges!

I’m not sharing McSwiggan’s picture because if he lied (and police and a witness say he did), he’s just desperate for fame and attention and I’m not giving him face time.  Pulling a stunt like this makes him scum of the earth.

Pulse

As we saw at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and from all the hate talk that comes from politicians, the Westboro Baptist Church, and other haters, the LGBT community has to be vigilant enough already without having some media whore desperate for attention lying about an anti-gay attack!

McSwiggan is now being charged with filing a false police report.

THIS WEEK, THE POPE SAYS…

While I’m not Catholic, much of my family is.

I believe that Pope Francis, who began his papacy in March 2013, is good for Catholicism and is working to bridge the religious and real world divide between the Church and LGBT people.  However, he’s really hard to figure out.

This is what he said in the summer of 2013.

Pope Francis

While he opposes marriage equality and he thinks being a practicing homosexual is intrinsically immoral, he believes gay people should be treated with respect and love.

He’s making headlines again.  On a trip to Armenia last weekend, Pope Francis declared on the flight, “I think that the church not only should apologize to the person who is gay whom it offended, but it must also apologize to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by (being forced to) work. It must apologize for having blessed so many weapons.”

He’s not the first Pope to apologize for Catholics and Christians, but he’s the first to ask for an apology to the LGBT people.  In 2000, Pope Saint John Paul II apologized to several groups including Jewish people, immigrants, women, and indigenous peoples.

It’s a step forward if he doesn’t contradict his statement the next time he speaks on the matter!

CLUELESS CAITLYN

I applauded Caitlyn Jenner for coming out as transgender, but I never had any faith in her advancing the cause for my transgender brothers and sisters.  So far, I’d say I’m correct.

Caitlyn

The more I see her name in the press and the more she opens her mouth, the more I cringe. Okay, that’s a polite way of expressing how I really feel about her views.

Jenner’s latest ignorant and misinformed statement:  “Trump seems to be very much for women.  He seems very much behind the LGBT community because of what happened in North Carolina with the bathroom issue. He backed the LGBT community. But in Trump’s case, there’s a lot more unknowns. With Hillary, you pretty much know what you’re gonna get with the LGBT community.”

Maybe she meant to say that Trump is “very much behind” on issues regarding the LGBT community!

I agree with the Huffington Post calling it a “WTF of the week”!

NATE SILVER PREDICTS OUR NEXT PRESIDENT

American statistician and writer Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com has spoken and he predicts that Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States.

HIllary Flag

If you don’t know him, you definitely don’t follow politics as closely as I do.

The baseball and politics analyst successfully predicted the outcomes in 49 of the 50 states in the 2008’s U.S. Presidential Election.

In the next election cycle, in 2012, Silver successfully called all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Earlier this week, he made his first prediction for the 2016 presidential race and gave a big edge to Clinton.  Here’s how he made his prediction.

538 Predicts

PICK HIT

“Worth It” by Fifth Harmony was one of my favorite songs of last year.

Earlier this year, the band released the first single, “Work From Home”, from their new album “7/27”, that came out in late May.  It topped the airplay charts at Top 40 radio.

It’s an incredibly catchy song with a super hot, sexy video.  (I featured it last week, so just glance back one week to watch it.)

Their new song, “All In My Head (Flex)” is already racing up the charts and it’s catchy, too.  It features the hot ladies of Fifth Harmony, more sexy men, and rapper Fetty Wap.

By the way, what the hell is Fetty Wap singing?

ANOTHER PICK HIT

Michael Ray topped the country radio airplay chart last year with “Kiss You In the Morning”.  It ended being one of my favorite songs of last year and his self-titled album was my #9 album of 2015.

He’s back with a new video for the third single from the album, “Think A Little Less”.

If you’d like to know more about Michael Ray and his incredible album, here’s my blog review.  (It’ll open in a new window.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/michael-ray-could-bring-me-back-to-country-music/

FIRST LADIES

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing little known (or well known) tidbits about the wives of the presidents of the United States from the book I read by Betty Boyd Caroli called “First Ladies”.

I’ve covered Martha Washington to Frances Cleveland.  Here’s more trivia that may help you in “Jeopardy” or “Trivial Pursuit”.

First Ladies

Caroline Harrison:  She became ill in the last year of her husband’s presidency and died a few weeks before the 1892 election becoming only the second First Lady to die while in the White House.  She’s best remembered for having electricity added to the White House during 1891’s spring renovations and for starting the White House china collection.

Frances Cleveland:  She served two non-consecutive terms in the White House as First Lady.  In my last blog, here’s what I wrote about her:  “She was 21-years-old when she married the president, who was 28 years older than her!  Frances was the daughter of a former law partner to President Cleveland and he had known her since she was born.  He also bought her her first baby carriage!  Okay, that’s just downright creepy”.

Ida McKinley:  She was very sick and frail as First Lady.  In public, she was prone to seizures.  President McKinley would have a white handkerchief on hand and he’d place it over her face when she had a seizure and would remove it when it was over.  They would continue on in conversation as if nothing had happened.

Edith Roosevelt:  She controlled the information going out to social reporters very carefully and handle criticism well.  Once a famous woman was quoted in a national magazine that the First Lady “dresses on 300 dollars a year and looks it.”  She happily clipped the column and placed it in her scrapbook.

Helen Taft:  She was known to push her husband into positions that would align him to become president one day.  She was influenced by the years she spent in the Orient and as First Lady, she had thousands of Japanese cherry trees planted and the spring blossoms are now a major tourist attraction in Washington D.C.

Ellen Wilson:  She became the first First Lady to address Congress to improve housing conditions in Washington D.C., especially the slums, with “Ellen Wilson’s Bill”.

Edith Wilson:  President Woodrow Wilson’s second wife was highly criticized for “petticoat government” after he suffered a stroke in the fall of 1919.  She kept people away from him until he recovered enough to carry out his presidential responsibilities.  That’s why people didn’t really know who was running the government.  Meanwhile, she set a good example during World War I by having “meatless days” at the White House and she even brought in sheep to graze the lawn to save money and would auction off the wool to raise cash for the American Red Cross.

Florence Harding:  She was known to manipulate the White House press corp.  Because of that, the public never knew how sick she and the president really were and thus their deaths came as more of a shock.  Publicly, she blamed their extended illnesses on food poisoning and other things.

Grace Coolidge:  Her husband, President Calvin Coolidge, was very strict and never allowed her to give interviews.  While he often demeaned her, he spent a lot of money to buy her a lavish wardrobe.

Lou Hoover:  She was a geologist who moved to China with husband and then added Mandarin to the languages she spoke.  She embraced radio and gave many speeches with a feminist slant.

I’ll have the final installment next week.

THAT’S IT

I hope you found something interesting this week in my many random thoughts.  As always, feel free to share your thoughts with me, even if we disagree.  Just do it diplomatically.

Have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July weekend.  Happy 240th Birthday America!

Anthony

Maddie & Tae’s Country Debut is a Classic

There are many subgenres in country music:  outlaw, traditional, neotraditional, bluegrass, and the latest hot trend, bro-country.

I know that singing about women, partying, alcohol, and pick-up trucks are a staple of good ol’ boy country, but that doesn’t appeal to everyone.  I’m raising my hand!

The Southern Plains duo Maddie & Tae (Madison Marlow and Taylor Dye) are the antithesis of “bro-country” and it’s refreshing.

Although their full length debut album, “Start Here”, came out late last summer and reached #2 on the Billboard Country Album chart, it’s still churning out hits and catching on.

Start Here

I’m glad I took a chance on it this week.  It’s a great effort for the 20-year-old singers and songwriters that penned all eleven songs on the album.

When their first single, “Girl In A Country Song”, came out in the summer of 2014 and became the most played song on country radio five months later, I took notice and featured it as one of my favorite songs of 2014.

Not only was the song fun and catchy, the video took on the country bros and empowered women to turn the tables and objectify men!

In just three-and-a-half minutes, country music took notice of these two young women and realized that they were smart and not just pretty faces!

By topping the Country Airplay chart, Maddie & Tae became only the second female duo to reach #1 with their first effort in the history of country music.

The follow-up, “Fly” reached #9 last year.

Their current single, “Shut Up and Fish”, is currently gaining traction at country radio and is one of my favorite songs on “Start Here”.

The video also features Taylor’s older brother, Mason Dye, from the 2014 movie, “Flowers in the Attic”.

“Start Here” is full of several great mid-tempo and upbeat songs like “Smoke”, “Right Here, Right Now”, and “Downside of Growing Up” and the ballad, “After The Storm Blows Through”, is incredible.

If you like traditional country, the peppy “No Place Like You” reminds me of 1990s Pam Tillis.

While the third single is just now moving up the country charts, if Maddie & Tae are thinking of releasing a fourth single from the album, my choice is “Your Side of Town”.  It would be a perfect, fun summer song.

The opening musical notes had me thinking “Sin Wagon” by the Dixie Chicks, and with the positive, strong female message that emanates throughout this debut album, that’s a good thing.

I’ve mentioned how much I love “Shut Up and Fish” and “Your Side of Town”, but I think my favorite song on “Start Here” is “Sierra”.  Being the dad of a 14-year-old daughter, a high school freshman, I hear a lot about “girl drama” and I know it’s only going to get worse.

“Sierra” is a fun and cheeky song, but it does send out a very strong message to women.  They should be there to back each other up and not tear each other down — they have men to do that!  Karma comes around and you may need that girlfriend one day.

“Start Here” would be a great album from any country artist, whether it’s a veteran or a superstar, but since it’s from two up-and-comers, that means we’ll be hearing a lot more from Maddie & Tae in the future.

It may have taken me months to buy this album, but it can be the album of 2016 that all new ones will have to measure up to!

GRADE:

A

Maddie & Tae may be taking on bro-country one song and one concert at a time, but more importantly, “Start Here” is empowering to any teenager, woman, or open-minded man that listens to it.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — September 25, 2015

Fall is here and I hope it’s off to a great start for you.  In the Midwest, it’s starting out very warm and dry — just as summer ended.

I feel inspired to write about a few things that crossed my mind, so here’s a guest appearance of Random Friday Thoughts!

HOLY STAMPEDE

I’m really baffled by the stampede at the annual Hajj pilgrimage outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.  It’s reported that at least 700 were crushed to death and about 900 were hurt!

I know that about two million people take part in this, but what happened to orderly fashion?

Hundreds were also killed in stampedes in the past and in 1990, 1,426 people died in Mina, which leads to the holy sites.

While I love attending Christmas mass, I’m not going to trample over people to get there!

“FEAR THE WALKING DEAD”

I’m guilty of it and I bet you are, too.  How many times have you started snacking while waiting for dinner just because you’re hungry?

Pastries

I’m doing that with “Fear The Walking Dead”.  While I’m enjoying the show, it’s so slow and the fourth episode was so uneventful until the very end of the hour.

I actually got excited when the previews of the next show came on at the end and it said something like “only two episodes left”.

I know the final two shows will likely be great and move faster, but I’m really ready for dinner to be served — the season six premiere of “The Walking Dead” on October 11th.

The-Walking-Dead-Season-1

SUMMER IS OVER

While we enjoyed the pool this summer, we took it down last weekend.

Pool

But, that doesn’t mean we’re ready for winter and snow.  We dived into the biggest project ever and it turned out fantastic.

MOVING UP TO THE EAST SIDE!

You’ve heard me talk many times about the fish pond we built back in May 2012.  It held about 250 gallons of water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Recently, some of our friends gave us three of their goldfish and koi and this fall, we were going to acquire a dozen more that our friends decided not to keep.

So, we expanded the pond last weekend.  It’s now three feet deep and holds almost a thousand gallons of water!

Fish Pond

We now have 33 gorgeous fish and because of my recent mink encounter, the pond has added security!  (If you missed that mink predator ordeal, click here).

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/my-first-hand-encounter-with-a-predator/

SINCE WE’RE TALKING FISH….

Fish Be You

DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED IF YOU DON’T

Whether it’s pizza, wedding cakes, or marriage licenses, controversy arises when two sides see things differently when God (or one’s perception of God being judgmental) is involved.

I’ve always been a strong advocate of equal rights for everyone, especially the LGBT community since I’m part of that subculture of humanity.

But, when we advocates raise awareness about people who deny others equal rights, there’s also a backlash.

MarriageEquality-711906

When marriage equality became the law of the land in the United States, there were many reports of gay bashings the weekend after the Supreme Court of the United States made its ruling.

When a small Indiana pizza joint spoke out against marriage equality and when bakeries refused to make wedding cakes for gay ceremonies, the LGBT community spoke out and the media extensively covered the stories.

Rainbow Cake

The restaurant and some of the cake makers started getting donations in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars for taking a stand against the LGBT community.

And, when a county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, refused to do her job and issue marriage licenses to gay couples, she became a martyr for standing up for her religious rights.  (No, I’m not posting a picture of her or saying her name.  She’s had enough celebrity and hopefully her fifteen minutes are up soon!)

Now, just in time for Christmas, I read that she’s penning a religious book with an advance of seven figures.  Becoming a millionaire for refusing rights to the LGBT community and standing on the wrong side of history?

A Christmas Carol

I sure hope that when she is confronted with the ghost of Christmas past, it’s less haunting for her than for Scrooge!

gays_in_church

But, I’ll still raise awareness for LGBT equality.  I just wish the price wasn’t making celebrities out of people who use God and religion to hate!

AM I A “BELIEBER”?

Love him or hate him, Justin Bieber is a superstar.

Justin

While I’ve never declared myself a member of either camp, I have to admit he is a beautiful (and slightly troubled) young man.

Now, I’m beginning to think I may be a psuedo-Belieber (defined as a HUGE Justin Bieber fan)!

I loved his last song, “Where Are U Now” with Skrillex and Diplo, which hit the Top Ten in America (and #1 on the Billboard Dance Chart).

And, “What Do You Mean?”, the lead single from his upcoming album has already topped the charts and is one of the biggest songs of the year just weeks after its release.

COUNTRY RADIO, SEXISM OR CUMULUS MEDIA?

I’ve written several times before that I think that country music radio is ageist and sexist.

There are many women’s new music in country that I’d love to hear in heavy rotation on the radio other than Reba, but she ignites that fire for me.

Now, I think it’s more than just sexism and ageism.  I seriously think those elements are still there.  But, I’m now convinced it’s Reba’s affiliation with Cumulus Media, which is a part of her new label, Nash Icon, that is the major problem.

Reba Until They Don't Love You

Case in point is the second single from her #1 country album, “Love Somebody”, “Until They Don’t Love You”.  It’s an incredible song and sounds great live.

It was released to country radio August 7, 2015, and now seven weeks later, it only being played on 61 stations (out of more than 260 reporting country stations) with 879 plays.  (To put that into perspective, the #1 song on the chart was played 13,901 times.)

George Strait

Earlier this week, country legend George Strait released “Cold Beer Conversation”.  It’s now being played on 163 stations and got 830 plays in just two days!.

Yes, George is country music’s “king” to Reba’s “queen”, but obviously royalty isn’t being treated equal.

So, yes, there’s still the sexism thing.  But, moreso, I think Reba made a big mistake by allowing Cumulus Media to play and promote her music, thus shutting out the larger radio groups.

I guess we can listen to “Until They Don’t Love You” and her new music at home because we won’t find a home at country radio or high on the country music charts.

PICK HIT

“Communion” by the English trio, Years & Years, is one of my favorite albums of the year.

“Desire” is the new release here in the U.S. and I hope it gets more airplay than their first American hit, “King”.

The band will be in San Francisco at the Fillmore Monday night.  I’ll be there, too, but sadly the concert is sold out and I don’t have tickets. 😦

If you missed my album review of “Communion” and you want to know more about the album, here it is again.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/years-years-communion-is-definitely-king/

“THE AGE OF ADALINE”

One of the best movies I seen lately is out on DVD.  I mention DVD only because it’s late September and I still have not been to the theater this year to see a movie.

Blake Lively (“Gossip Girl” and “Savages”) and Michiel Huisman (“The Game of Thrones” and “Nashville”) star as a couple that falls in love.

The problem is that Adaline is 107 years old, but doesn’t age due to a freak accident.  So, while everyone else in her life, including her daughter, played by Oscar-winning actress Ellen Burstyn, ages and dies, she stays the same.

GRADE:  A

“GOODNIGHT MOMMY”

A movie I’m really looking forward to seeing is the Austrian psychological thriller, “Goodnight Mommy”.  The trailer definitely creeps me out.

“DEXTER”

Although it’s been a couple of years now since my favorite sexy serial killer signed off Showtime after eight seasons, he’s still alive for me through books.

dexter-season-6

I’m reading Jeff Lindsay’s eight-book series that the television show was originally based on.  I’m on book six now.

I’ve decided in January, in the heart of winter, that I’m going back and watching all 96 episodes again!

It so interesting to see how much different the television show and the books are with characters that died in one format and are still alive in the other.  Also, the differences in the cases between the book and the show.

THAT’S IT

Thank you for checking out my Friday Random Thoughts.  Feel free to share your thoughts with me — what you agree with and what you don’t.

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

My First Hand Encounter with a Predator

Adrenaline is such a rush.  In retrospective, a dramatic encounter last Thursday could have sent me to the hospital!  Let me fill you in and set up the story.

Do you take risks?  I’m pretty much a planner, so I don’t consider myself a risk taker.

With that being said, I’ve ridden on two roller coasters over the past few years including a wooden structure one in Arnolds Park, Iowa, that probably was more of risk than this larger one in Branson, Missouri, last summer.

Roller Coaster

“Wildire” is 120 feet high, covers more than 3,000 feet of track, features five upside down turns and loops, and reaches a top speed of 66 miles-per-hour.

But, as I share the story of what happened last week, it has nothing to do with roller coasters and there was nothing fun about it.

As you know, Ray and I love to work out in the yard and three years ago, we built a fish pond next to the patio in the backyard.

With the fish, the fountain, and the solar lamps changing colors at night, it’s very relaxing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For a year-and-a-half, we had no problems with predators from the ravine.  However, on Thanksgiving 2013, tragedy struck when I discovered that nine-and-a-half of our eleven fish were missing!  It was the one-half of a missing fish that alerted me there was a problem!

There was only one survivor.

Lone Survivor From June 2013

It saddened and made me angry.  I blamed the massacre on raccoons and I hated them, even though it could have been owls, hawks, or other predators.

So, we beefed up our security by putting fence over the pond and replenished the fish.

We now have 18 counting our two new large additions that I named “Snowflake” and “Pumpkin Pie” given to us by our friends Thomas and Mike.

Snowflake Pumpkie Pie

I even started training them to come to the sound of my voice and “Pumpkin Pie”, the orange-spotted black one, will even take food from my hand!

It’s been almost two years since the massacre and we’ve had no trouble with creatures wanting our fish — until Wednesday.

I got home from work around 10 a.m. and was changing clothes and looked down at the pond from the bedroom window.  I saw a dark-colored “squirrel” walking along the foundation of the fish pond.  I didn’t think too much about it since I’ve seen chipmunks and squirrels walking around the pond and birds sitting on the fence.

I knocked on the window to scare it away, but it didn’t budge.  I went out on the patio and it scurried away and I thought, “that wasn’t a squirrel”.  Moments later, it came back across the yard and I scared it into our neighbor’s yard.

At that point, I realized it looked more like a ferret.  However, a quick Google search confirmed to me that it was a mink — just not this one!

Mink

Convinced it was gone, I was sitting at the computer by the open window looking at images and reading about minks.  All of a sudden, I heard a splash and I frantically ran down the stairs to the basement, stormed out onto the patio, and jumped across the fish pond!

I dropped to my knees on the foundation of the pond and the decorative rocks.  I didn’t care that I scraped my knee.  Without thinking, I plunged my hands underneath the dark water and I couldn’t see what I was grabbing for, but I saw a reflection of orange in the sunlight.

I grabbed the mink out of the water and flung it into the air.  It landed with a thud and ran away.  At that moment, I was afraid of what I’d find.

I know that if it had grabbed a fish, it likely would’ve been one of the two larger fish and since I had seen orange in the sunlight, I feared for “Pumpkin Pie”.

I didn’t know if she was dead or injured?  If alive, I didn’t know if it grabbed her face, her tail, or ripped open her body.

I grabbed food and fed them to get them to come to the surface.  They all came, including “Pumpkin Pie” and then I saw the injury.  It had grabbed her right above the tail and there was a flesh wound where it attacked her.

Pumpkin Pie Injury

Luckily, it wasn’t a complete gash, just a bite.

“Pumpkin Pie” is now timid and shy after Thursday’s attack, but she’ll reluctantly come up to eat.  I don’t know what will happen to her wound, but I’m hoping she’ll just have a scar and that it’ll heal without an infection.

I’m optimistic because we use a product in the pond that boasts healing ingredients for wounds.

Pond Care

I know if I had not seen the mink when I first did and scared it away, it would have jumped in the pond right then and there would have been another massacre.  Or, what if the air conditioning was on and the windows were closed?  I would have never heard the splash.

In retrospective, I had the instinct of a parent protecting its young.  I know it’s just a pond fish, but it’s mine and I’ve bonded with the fish.

Now that I now that minks are found in all of Illinois’ counties, that they attack animals larger than them, and how scary they look, I now realize that it could have attack me when I grabbed it!  Look at this thing. (Again, not the one from our pond!)

Mink Mouth

Had I know then what I know now, how would I have reacted?  I hope the same way.  It totally freaks me out now to know what a mink’s mouth looks like!  In retrospective, I’m thinking that it may not have been a raccoon the last time.  Who knows?

On a lighter note, the fortified vault building at Fort Knox in Kentucky is protecting about $337 billion worth of gold.

While our eighteen multi-colored goldfish, including newly acquired “Snowflake” and “Pumpkin Pie”, may not be worth much in monetary value, we’ve fortified the fish pond to protect the babies after last week’s attack.

Fort Fish Pond

I know that a mink is a predator and that’s what it does and I don’t condone hunting just to have an animal head on the wall, if I see that mink back again, I’ll be wearing a pair of new mink gloves this winter.

Sorry, PETA!

Anthony

Enjoy Your Weekend, But Let’s Quickly Talk Upcoming Snow

AFTERNOON UPDATE:  Saturday, February 23, 4:40 p.m.

The afternoon GFS model has shifted the low pressure system that will be moving out of the southern Plains northward.  If this trend verifies and continues over the next day or so, it looks as though snow totals Monday night and Tuesday will be higher than previously thought this morning.

This is the map for Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.  That blue and green indicates moderate to heavier snow.

I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes on this one!

Anthony

ORIGINAL POST:  Saturday, February 23, 2013 8:39 a.m.

The weekend is here!  Did you get to sleep in this morning?  I was wide awake at 7 a.m., which is a good thing because beginning Monday, March 4th, I’ll be waking up at 1:30 a.m. to get ready to go to work.  Time to make the doughnuts.

It’s not really that bad outside early this Saturday morning.

I went out and checked on the fish and they’re doing just fine.  Today, I’m going to scoop more snow into the fish pond to keep the water level up (although there isn’t a lot of evaporation taking place).  Don’t worry that putting snow in the pond might freeze them or cause them to go into shock, the de-icer keep the water warm enough to prevent that and the snow melts pretty quickly!

Quiet weather is expected this weekend with nothing more than a few stray snow flurries today with highs near 30°.  Sunday will feature more sunshine and highs 30-35°.

Now, let’s talk about this “Mega Storm” coming in early next week.  Oh, did I get your attention there?  My apologies for scaring you like that.  There’s some snow on the way, but it’s the Midwest and I know we can handle it.  Kidding aside, here’s how things should play out two to three days out.

Low pressure will be coming out of Texas Monday.  It now looks as though the rain and snow mix on Monday will not develop until late Monday night.

The latest data coming in does take this storm out of the Southern Plains to Indiana to the eastern Great Lakes Wednesday.  This path would keep the biggest threat of more significant snows mainly to the east of the Quad Cities. Parts of northeastern Iowa may miss out on snow altogether!

The bottom line three days out is that we’re going to have snow late Monday night, but a better chance Tuesday and more light snow is possible into Wednesday.  At this point, a few inches of snow are possible, but I’m just going to watch it and I’ll alert you if the track veers more to the northwest.  If that were to happen (and tracks always seem to change closer to the storm), we could see more snow than I expect now.

As of Saturday morning, the only “Winter Storm Watch” for Sunday night and Monday is well to the southwest of the Quad Cities.

So, the eggs, milk, bread, and toilet paper supply that you bought for the last storm should keep you in good shape with the system coming in early next week.

Have a great weekend.

Anthony

I’m Having More Random Thoughts

You know what it’s like to have random thoughts much of time.  Seriously, tell me that I’m not alone. 🙂  My mind works all the time and sometimes it’s a picture that prompts me to think.  At other times, its entertainment, a magazine, or Facebook.  And, today’s blog is about sharing some of those thoughts with you.

Miss Betty, “Mom”, is with us through Tuesday morning.  We’ve already been to the casino and we’re going back tonight.  She says she has to win her money back.  Last night, we grilled out and enjoyed the beautiful, cool weather.  With the exception of the casino tonight, we’re going to continue to chill out.

‘SAWDUST PIE” & BANANAS

Last weekend, when we had dinner guests, I made Patti’s 1880s’ (my favorite restaurant in Grand Rivers, Kentucky) “Sawdust Pie”.  Actually, I made two and froze one for Betty’s visit.  You serve them warm with cool whip and sliced bananas.

I didn’t know that bananas are the most purchased grocery item in the United States!

While that surprised me, here’s the shocker that I learned from “Time” magazine:  Bananas “are picked immature, shipped in special boats and then taken to ripening rooms that use ethylene gas to complete the job.”  So since the boats use fuel, the price of bananas increase when gas prices are high.  Stick with me and you might learn all kinds of interesting (or useless) information.

ASIAN CARP, WHILE BAD FOR OUR AREA LAKES AND STREAMS, DON’T LOOK SO BAD NOW!

PUTTING MARRIAGE  AND FAMILY INTO PERSPECTIVE

LINCOLN” & “ZERO DARK THIRTY” TRAILERS

Earlier this summer, I blogged about the movies that have my attention as we head into the fall.  I still want to see “Looper” and “The Paperboy”, but I’ll probably wait to see them in the cheap theater or on DVD.

There’s also “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” and “Argo”.  “Argo”, directed by Ben Affleck, is my most heavily anticipated movie this fall.  It’s based on a true story of a rescue effort to free American hostages from Iran back in 1979.  It comes out October 12th and I’ll be seeing it in Las Vegas, one day before my birthday and Madonna.  I’ve never gone to a movie in Vegas and to be honest, do tourists even do that? 🙂

Also, the trailers for two more movies that I want to see later this year were finally released.  Both “Lincoln” and “Zero Dark Thirty” will likely have a date with Oscar in early 2013.

REMEMBERING 9/11

Since “Zero Dark Thirty” is about the search for Al-Qaeda learder Osama bin Laden and last Tuesday marked the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks when terrorists flew four planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing more than 3, 000 Americans, I’ll reflect by showing some of my favorites pictures posted that day on Facebook.

FORGETTING OSAMA BIN LADEN

While President Barack Obama gave the order for the brave U.S. Navy Seals to capture or kill Osama bin Laden in its successful mission in killing the terrorist leader in May 2011, we’ll always live with the threat that jihadists or other terrorists will attack Americans here at home or abroad.  We saw that last Tuesday in Libya when Islamic jihadis killed an American ambassador and three others.

As I read more about the man who had so much hatred for western civilizations and especially, the United States, it makes me happy that bin Laden was killed and buried deep below the North Arabian Sea.

In 1996, bin Laden said “O Lord, shatter their gathering, divide them among themselves, shake the earth under their feet and give us control over them” and then in December 2001, “We calculated in advance the number of casualties.”

It’s also very interesting that President Barack Obama announced that bin Laden was dead on May 1st.  That is also the same date back in 1945 when the German government announced that Adolf Hitler, the man responsible for the mass murder of more than six million people, most of them Jewish people, was also dead.

bin Laden and his terrorist group won the battle on 9/11, but we’ll win the war.  It may take us the rest of our lifetime and the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren, but there’s hope that one day “the world will live as one” as John Lennon so eloquently sang in “Imagine”.

POINSETTIAS

The plant that grows in the wild in its native Mexico and Central America is my favorite plant.  Over the years, I’ve collected misfit poinsettias that were either marked down in the  stores because they weren’t beautiful enough or had a broken stem or from friends that just wanted to get rid of them after the holiday.  My poinsettias are huge now and I can’t wait for them to turn from green to red, white, and pink.  Here’s just one my four potted poinsettias.

My goal this year is to locate a very hard to find variety called “Harvest Orange”.  Last year, a California grower was producing them.  So, I’ll have to keep my eyes open to find that poinsettia in my favorite color!  This is what it looks like.

I hope you enjoyed my random thoughts.  What’s on your mind?

Here’s a closing thought.

Anthony