Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Rockford marching band in New York for Macy's Parade plus Battle of the Bands for Detroit's Thanksgiving Parade

An early Happy Thanksgiving to my readers!  I begin this year's celebration with the footnote to Vote for Troy Athens in the WDIV Battle of the Bands.
I'll be more excited about the bands in the Macy's Parade next year, when Rockford H.S. marches.  That band earned won the highest class in the MCBA championship, beating Plymouth-Canton, who marched in the Rose Parade this year.  Here's to hoping I remember to write about them next Thanksgiving!
The story begin in April 2016, when MLive reported Rockford High School marching band selected for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Rockford High School marching band learns that they have been selected for Macy's 2017 Thanksgiving Day Parade.
That was an excited bunch of students!

A year and one-half later, the band has finished their fundraising and was ready to depart, as WOOD-TV showed last week in Rockford marching band ready to march in Thanksgiving parade.

Fox 17 reported on the band's departure two days later, listing all the other events the band will attend.
A lot of logistical planning went into the trip. The students will be seeing two Broadway shows, taking a trip to Ground Zero, and giving a performance in Central Park. The band members credit all of the planning to their parents and faculty.

“Lots of lists and lots of prayers, too and lots of help. Lots of moms go into helping with the uniforms. There’s so much planning that it’s amazing," mother Robin O'Dett tells FOX 17.

Seven charter buses are taking 305 students and two additional buses are taking friends and family. The group is traveling with about 265 instruments. An additional 26-foot truck was needed for the students' suitcases.
That looks like a busy schedule, one that WOOD-TV followed up on yesterday in Rockford HS band to play in Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Good luck to the Rockford Rams marching band and may you do as well as Plymouth-Canton and Walled Lake Central did in their Macy's Parade appearances.  After all, as WOOD-TV mentioned, you won the state marching band championship, beating both of them.

Follow over the jump for Rockford's performance at Ford Field, where it was the highest-scoring unit in competition, as well as that of the lowest-scoring unit, Southgate Anderson, which is performing in America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit tomorrow, and is thus participating in WDIV's Battle of the Bands.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ezra Klein of Vox explains how third parties are the Underpants Gnomes of U.S. politics

I'm generally positive about minor parties, last expressing that sentiment in Vox explains how proportional representation can solve gerrymandering and help minor parties.  However, they will not solve all political problems, as I described in On American political parties held captive by their interest groups and ideologies.  One of the problems I did not mention appeared in a video I used in a comment on Republicans Will Have to Make a Choice at Booman Tribune.
"I await a third party movement."

I'll let Ezra Klein of Vox answer that for me.
Here is Third parties are the underpants gnomes of American politics.

Could a third party fix the hellscape of fail that is the United States Congress? Ezra Klein explains.
My summary was "No, although that's not really what I think you're after." My response could have been more pointed.  I could have done for liberals what Pizza Man Cain wants a third party for conservatives, never mind three already exist did for conservatives, pointing out that the Green Party already exists and he could join them.  As it was, I trolled the person asking the question gently another way.
By the way, be flattered.  I was going to post this in response to Brodie, but I decided you were more deserving.  Besides, this comment will land directly below his anyway.
I can throw shade and still be civil.  I think that's a good skill to have.

Monday, November 20, 2017

'Putin's Revenge' on Frontline: Looking forward to next year's Emmys 3

Today I conclude the series that began with "Blue Planet II" and continued with "Beyond a Year in Space" by examining Frontline's follow-up to "The Choice 2016," "Putin's Revenge," which was mentioned in the acceptance speech for Outstanding Politics & Government Documentary at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards.*  Watch the trailer from "Frontline."

How did Russian president Vladimir Putin come to see the U.S. as an enemy, and why has he sought to sow distrust in America's democracy? From filmmaker Michael Kirk and the team behind "The Choice 2016" comes this epic, two-part documentary examining Putin's rise, rule and motivations, and the American responses.
Follow over the jump for three clips from the documentary itself.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

'Beyond a Year in Space': Looking forward to next year's Emmys 2

Today, I'm continuing looking forward to next year's Emmys with the follow up to A Year in Space, "Beyond a Year in Space."  Here is the Official Teaser Trailer for the program from PBS.

Beyond a Year in Space picks up where the first film left off: Scott Kelly’s last day in space and return to Earth. The final installment also introduces viewers to the next generation of astronauts training to leave Earth’s orbit and travel into deep space.
The central project of the mission, which I first blogged about in Twins on Earth and Space, was and still is The Twin Study.

While Scott Kelly spent a year on the International Space Station, his twin brother Mark spent a year on earth. By analyzing the differences between the two men, NASA researchers hope to gain insight into the effects of spaceflight on the human body.
As I wrote in Space, Ebola, volcanoes, stroke, and human expansion the topics of Science and Technology Documentary nominees, "Here's to it being nominated for an Emmy next year.  If so, I'm looking forward to blogging about it."  It just aired on November 15 and I'm blogging about it already!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Home ownership rate and me, three years later

I made a programming note in one of the footnotes to November 2017 driving update for Pearl plus Tesla Truck and Chevy Bolt news.
Yesterday was also the third anniversary of putting an offer on my current home and having it accepted.  I plan on writing about that and my prediction that the U.S. home ownership rate would start going up tomorrow.
Here's what I wrote three years ago Thursday.
I showed my hand to Greer later in the entry, when I wrote, "Now to see about buying property as it struggles off the bottom."  Well, that time has arrived.  We've made an offer on a house and it's been accepted.  Wish my wife and me luck as we both get on board, just in time for the housing market to go back up.  Yes, it's a business as usual decision and I know these are not business as usual times, but as I'm fond of saying, I can't be all DOOM all the time.
It took just over a year and a half for the home ownership rate to rise, as the Washington Post managed to document the bottom in Why the decline of the homeownership rate is good news.
The U.S. homeownership rate has just fallen to its lowest level since the Census Bureau began tracking it in 1965.

During the second quarter of this year, only 62.9 percent of U.S. households were owner-occupied residences, down from the all-time high of 69.2 percent reached in the fourth quarter of 2004.

Contrary to entrenched conventional wisdom, however, the ongoing decline of the homeownership rate is actually good news.

Here’s why: Thanks to recovering real estate values, today’s homeowners as a group have the same equity in their property — roughly 58 percent — that the record-size cohort did back in late 2004, according to the Federal Reserve. Ergo, there’s now more equity, on a per- household basis; current homeowners’ tenure is that much more sustainable and secure.

“They are now more able to weather an economic disaster,” says Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist of, the online home-listing service.

To put it another way: The United States actually has more homeownership, in economic terms, than it did when the homeownership rate, a measure of mere legal ownership, was higher. Accordingly, the economy should also be less vulnerable to another real estate shock.

We’re still not back to the rock-solid days of 1983, when the homeownership rate was a hair under 65 percent and equity hit an all-time high of 70 percent.
The following graph from the St. Louis Federal Reserve shows that previous peak in home ownership rate and then some back to the 1960s.  It also shows how small and recent the rebound in home ownership rate is.

Just the same, I'm glad to have jumped on the trend just before it turned around, just like I did the last two times when my ex-wife and I bought in 1994 (not 1995, as I misremembered), which was a little ahead of the rapid rise in home ownership, or before it accelerated, like when I sold in 2006, a couple years after the peak but before the bottom fell out of both housing values and home ownership rates.  As I wrote three years ago, "I shouldn't be reassured by moving with the herd, but in in this case, I am."

Friday, November 17, 2017

November 2017 driving update for Pearl plus Tesla Truck and Chevy Bolt news

As for the next driving anniversary, that would be November 9th.  I'm fairly confident that Pearl will pass 37,000 miles weeks later than that, as I drove a lot last October and November for the election.  There is no election this year, so no driving around dropping off lawn signs.  That means I should be driving closer to 6.500 miles per year than 7,000 miles per year at the next driving update and it won't be because I was sick -- I hope.
That's how I ended September 2017 Driving update: Pearl on September 27.  I was at least partly right, as Pearl turned over 37,000 miles on Wednesday, November 15.  That's later than November 9, but only by a week.  Time for me to run the numbers to see how far off the rest of the predictions I came.

First, September 26, when Pearl turned over 36,000 miles, to November 15 is 50 days.  That means I drove an average of exactly 20 miles per day and 610 miles per month.  That's more than the 16.39 miles per day and exactly 500 miles per standard month I drove from July 27 to September 26 this year.  That's expected, as I had more meetings to drive to and a second work location that is farther from my home.*  What I was hoping was that I'd drive less both than the comparable period last year and year-over-year.  At first glance, it looks like I did achieve the first, as I wrote "it took me 41 days for me to drive Pearl 1,000 miles and my wife 44 days to drive Dez the same distance. That means I drove 24.39 miles/day and 743.90 miles/standard month while my wife traveled 22.73 miles/day and 693.18 miles/standard month over the past seven weeks."  However, I miscalculated last year, as September 21 to November 9 is really 49 days, so I actually drove Pearl 20.41 miles per day and 622.45 miles per standard month.  Even so, I still drove less this year than during the comparable period last year, although not by much.**

As for driving less than 7,000 miles per year, I managed that, but not by as little as I had hoped.  It took 371 days to drive 7,000 miles from November 9, 2016 to November 15, 2017 for an average of 18.87 miles per day and a total of 6886.8 miles per year.  Sorry, that wasn't closer to 6,500 than to 7,000.  However, at least I wasn't sick.

Just as I did for twice before for these updates, I have news from Tesla about the latest in electric vehicles plus a bonus report about the Chevy Bolt.  Follow over the jump for those.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A belated World Diabetes Day

I missed a holiday when I posted 'Blue Planet II': Looking forward to next year's Emmys, World Diabetes Day.
Around the globe on November 14, World Diabetes Day raises awareness and provides education concerning a disease that affects over 400 million adults internationally.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), by 2040 approximately 642 million adults will have diabetes. With diabetes causing 5 million deaths in 2015, this projection is a source of concern. Awareness, education, action and research all can make a difference.


Visit to learn more about both type 1 & 2 diabetes.  Find out how to get screened, to prevent type 2 diabetes and more about treatment.  Use #WorldDiabetesDay to share on social media.


The International Diabetes Federation & the World Health Organization created World Diabetes Day in 1991 to raise awareness of the rising threat of diabetes around the world. In 2006, the day became one of the official United Nations Days.
Since I've recently been diagnosed as a Type I diabetic and my youngest cousin died earlier this year because of complications from diabetes, this day now has extra meaning for me.  While I've posted about diabetes 34 times on this blog starting in 2011 (35 counting today), I've rarely made it a featured story, I suspect that will change beginning with observing World Diabetes Day from now on.

Today, I'll close by posting this video about the international symbol for diabetes, the blue circle.

HIV/Aids has the red ribbon. But what is the international symbol for diabetes?
I'll be happy to wear a blue circle pin to increase awareness starting next year.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

An animated 'Star Trek' PSA for America Recycles Day 2017

Happy America Recycles Day!  For today's celebration of a holiday I first (and last) observed in 2013, I'm sharing StarTrek Keep America Beautiful PSA.

As we celebrate Keep America Beautiful Month, let's throwback to the mid-1970s when Captain Kirk, Spock, Sulu and the rest of the StarTrek crew supported our work. #DoBeautifulThings #TBT
It's not just Keep America Beautiful, it's keep the universe beautiful, too.

While the above certainly fits several of the themes of this blog, especially as it has evolved over the years, it's not a conventional America Recycles Day message.  The City of Lake Forest, California has one of those, complete with lots of good tips.

On November 15, join the City of Lake of Forest in making a#BeRecycled  pledge for America Recycles Day and demonstrate how it's #Easy2bGreen!
All that advice means today is not just America Recycles Day, but also America Reuses and Reduces Day as well.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

'Blue Planet II': Looking forward to next year's Emmys

I changed my mind about writing more about this year's News and Documentary Emmy winners.  Instead, I've decided to look ahead to shows that might win at next year's Emmy ceremonies.

The first is "Blue Planet II."  Like "Planet Earth II," it's a sequel to a famous BBC series from a decade ago.  Also like "Planet Earth II," it has great music, beginning with Radiohead & Hans Zimmer - (ocean) bloom.

Radiohead, one of the world’s most acclaimed rock bands, and Hans Zimmer, one of the planet’s most successful movie and TV composers, have joined forces to produce an exclusive track for BBC America’s upcoming natural history series, Planet Earth: Blue Planet II, coming to BBC Ameria in early 2018.

Radiohead and Hans Zimmer’s orchestrally reimagined version of the Radiohead song ‘(ocean) bloom’ from their 2011 album sees Radiohead’s Thom Yorke rerecord the vocals and produced by Russell Emanuel of Bleeding Fingers Music, the company which also crafted the BAFTA & Emmy-nominated score to BBC America's Planet Earth II.

Thom Yorke of Radiohead shares our excitement for the project: “Bloom was inspired by the original Blue Planet series so it’s great to be able to come full circle with the song and reimagine it for this incredible landmark’s sequel. Hans is a prodigious composer who effortlessly straddles several musical genres so it was liberating for us all to work with such a talent and see how he wove the sound of the series’ and Bloom together.”

In turn, Hans Zimmer says: “Bloom appears to have been written ahead of its time as it beautifully reflects the jaw-dropping lifeforms and seascapes viewers are introduced to in Blue Planet II. Working with Thom, Jonny and the boys has been a wonderful diversion and it’s given me an interesting peek into their musical world. They’ve been incredible to work with and I hope everyone likes the track.”
Vox has more on the song in How Hans Zimmer and Radiohead transformed "Bloom" for Blue Planet II.

Radiohead's "Bloom," remixed for the ocean.
If you listen closely enough to Radiohead and Hans Zimmer’s rework of “Bloom” for Blue Planet II, you can hear a really fascinating orchestral trick at work. They call it the “tidal orchestra” — it’s a musical effect created by instructing each player to play their notes only if the person next to them isn’t playing. The result is a randomly swelling and fading musical bed for the entire series that captures the feeling of ocean waves. It’s a captivating way to score a soundtrack for the ocean — but it also fits in with a long history of capturing randomness in music composition.
While this song in this form is only being used in this promotional clip, which itself might be nominated for Best Commercial or Promo, its melody does make it into the main theme.

Blue Planet II: Hans Zimmer Theme Live Recording - BBC Earth
We take an exclusive look at how the Blue Planet II music score from Hans Zimmer has been recorded at the Synchron Stage in Vienna.
I fully expect this series' score to be nominated along with more nominations for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series and Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program -- but my readers and I won't know that until next summer.  Stay tuned.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Dance for World Kindness Day

Happy World Kindness Day!
On November 13 as part of World Kindness Day, we are encouraged to spread kindness like an infectious cold. We want to share it more than usual because studies show when others observe kindness in action they are more likely to carry out an act of kindness, too.

So, imagine if you head out for the day and your neighbor’s garbage can has tipped over. Instead of ignoring it and letting the wind make a mess, you pick it up and return it to the corner. Three other neighbors notice and give you a smile and a nod on their way to work.

One of those neighbors notices a stranded driver on the side of the road on his commute to work. He remembers your thoughtfulness and offers assistance to the stranded driver. Several passersby take notice.

At a business office, a woman struggles with a paper jam. She’s had a horrible day. The customer has been waiting, but she remembers the stranded driver she passed earlier in the day. The customer lets the office worker know to take her time. Everyone has a bad day.

We each have the potential to improve each others lives through understanding and kindness. Whether it’s a friend, family member, coworker or stranger, our ability to show our humanity should have no limit.


On World Kindness Day, let your compassion shine brightly.  Get caught showing as much kindness as possible.
To celebrate, there has been a World Wide Dance for Kindness since 2012.  KTVU documented the preparation for this year's event in Bay Area dancer choreographs flash mob for World Kindness Day.

People in over 50 countries will perform the routine. KTVU's Claudine Wong reports.
For all of last year's finished product, portions of which were included above, watch the official Dance for Kindness 2016 Worldwide Montage from Life Vest Inside.

Every year Life Vest Inside organizes Dance for Kindness (DFK), a worldwide event, in honor of World Kindness Day - showing that regardless of the differences in race, religion, ethnicity, culture and background - the common thread that unites us all is kindness.

In 2016, DFK took place in over 120 cities, 50 countries with over 15,000 participants.
It turns out that yesterday was Dance for Kindness 2017 and videos are already being posted, such as this one from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.

CMHA and Spotlight Dance Company hit the downtown for a flashmob for World Kindness Day.

As for the message, I think kindness won't be sufficient to solve our problems, but I think it will be necessary.  Be kind today.