Not Cease from Exploration...a blog by Steve Albert

Monday, April 14, 2014

Today's Wisdom, from the Facebooks

Courtesy of the page Kissing Fish.

Whether your consider yourself conservative or progressive, I think we can all agree actions mean far more than beliefs.  That's not to say that concepts like "belief" fail to impact what we do, but ultimately, as a wise person once told me, adults are absolutely responsible for their own behavior*.

So my recommendation to the Limousine Liberals and Tea Baggers alike out there is as follows:  stop talking about your beliefs (especially religious ones) and instead start putting those beliefs into into action.  Maybe start with acting on a sense of compassion for the sick and work your way from there.  The world will be a better place for your efforts.

I'll freely admit, however, that I have progress to make in the above referenced department, but I'll also note that I do try.  In the end, "trying" is a behavior.

(*) As a side note, from a mental health perspective adults are either:

a) Free to live out on their own, making life decisions and being responsible for their own behavior


b) They are/should be institutionalized because some legal authority has determined that they can't function on their own.

Except of course in the case of someone who was institutionalized but then released prematurely, I do not believe there is much of a middle ground between the above statements.  Those who are suffering from mental illness and who are yet able to function in society absolutely carry a tremendously great burden, that's for sure, but part of that burden isn't just the's also the fact that they are responsible for accessing and acting on the treatment available to them, both from pharmacological and other avenues (such as counseling).  Put another way, those suffering from mental illness are not responsible for that illness, but they are responsible for what they do about that illness.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Taxing Taxes

I don't dislike paying my fair share in taxes.  I really, truly do not.  Now I know I am blessed in several ways, including:

1) I live in a free country (and we all know that freedom isn't free)
2) I have a good job that pay a good wage

...but yet I do find tax time to be, well, taxing.

The reasons are many.

First, I personally end up owing money to the federal government, despite my best efforts to the contrary.  Even this past year, when I did something I've never done before...namely hire someone to do my taxes...I still ended up owing money.  How much?  Well let's just say it was "enough", an amount in total equal to what I paid for my first three cars.  They were not expensive cars, by the way, but the point still stands.  Writing out the check is discouraging, but again, I know I am blessed.  Besides, that's not the most taxing part of the tax equation for me.

Second, what's most taxing for me is the fact that I help others with their own tax returns.  Now before I go any further, I want to note right off the bat that I don't mind doing the work, but it's the pressure that I dislike.  I want to get the returns right, and yet sometimes forms are missing, things need to be researched and other assorted complications arise.  Oh, and I would feel absolutely horrible if there was a mistake.  I suspect that this is part of the cost associated with being a Dad and a Brother.

By the way, despite the fact that I help others with their own tax returns, as noted above this was the first year of my life when I actually hired someone to do my own taxes.  Selling and buying a home, coupled with a few others changes simply made the 2013 return more complicated than I thought I wanted to tackle.  What's more, I was secretly hoping that maybe a paid tax professional would magically find me more money so as to get me to the magical place of breaking even.  Alas, while I was happy with the accountants work, I still owed money.  But, on the good news front, the accountant did tell me that for tax year 2014 the impact of paying mortgage interest will get me to at least break-even, if not better.  We shall see.

In the interim, April 15th can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

10 Questions (& answers!) from the author of the blog "Lights, Cancer, Action!"

I've known Michele Orrson for many, many years.  We both started at the same employer at about the same time (although I think I have a year or two on her), and quite frankly she was always one of those really smart, really competent types that we all recognize at work.  She also writes a very interesting blog, "Lights, Cancer, Action!" that is one of my daily reads.  The blog is a fascinating collection of Michele's health-related thoughts, mainly centering on the benefits of eating a plant based diet, although she also opines on other topics as well.

Knowing Michele, I thought it might be interesting to pose a few questions to her about her blog, her causes and her life.  Needless to say, she was kind enough to actually respond to my request to play "10 Questions", the results of which are noted below*.


1) So you really don't eat bacon?  Really?  Come on, I mean bacon is almost a separate food group for many Americans.  
LOL. Really. I don’t eat bacon. While I enjoyed bacon when I was an omnivore, I really don’t get all the hype. Bacon is everywhere! (And I’ll never understand the whole bacon and chocolate combo…) I guess I’ve read too many articles about it to be remotely tempted by bacon. When you consider it is a) red meat, and b) processed with nitrates and other carcinogens, it’s an easy choice. Luckily, I found a recipe for shiitake mushroom bacon. I know you are probably thinking “ew”, but it’s really good and fills that bacon void.

2) As someone who advocates a plant-based diet, are there plants that you know are good for you but which you just can't stand the taste?  If so, what are they?  Note that the sole intent in asking this specific question is to make me feel just a little bit better about my own horrendous dietary habits.
I can’t do Brussel sprouts. I have bad childhood memories of Brussel sprouts and can’t even bring myself to buy them. My husband loves them and keeps asking me to make them, but I haven’t been able to do it. Maybe someday. I also don’t make asparagus (although I will eat it if served out) and am totally not on the whole kale band wagon. I’ll take spinach over kale any day.

3) Do you consume any dairy products?
I try really hard not to eat any dairy, but I am not 100%. If I’m out somewhere and want a coffee, I will use milk, and I do occasionally sprinkle a little cheese on my pasta or black bean tacos. But, in general, I try to avoid it as much as possible. That said, I wouldn’t deny myself an occasional ice cream over the summer, and of course, there’s pizza…

4) You often times write about the direct link between diet and cancer, which makes me wonder the following:  why is it that some folks can eat lots of meat, processed foods, etc. and never end up getting cancer?
It’s not any different than a smoker who never gets lung cancer. We know cigarettes cause lung cancer, but there are those who manage to get through without getting cancer. I am certainly no expert on this, but my understanding is that it has to do with genetics. My first husband’s oncologist, a brilliant mind, told us to think about it like “switches” in the body. If there are, for purposes of illustration, six switches that need to be set for a specific cancer, you might be born with five of them set already. Somewhere in your lifetime, something flips the last switch and “boom”, you have cancer. Someone else may be born with only one switch set, genetically speaking, and even if their behaviors flip on a few more switches, they never get all six set, and so never get cancer. It was an interesting analogy that always stuck with me.

5) You've seen quite a bit of personal hardship in your life, and yet I know you to be a very positive individual.  How do you maintain such a healthy outlook on life?
Thank you for saying so. I try. But hmm, that’s a tough question.

I think it is the very hardships I have had in my life that allow me to be positive. Like a lot of other people, I have known adversity in many forms, and so I find am grateful for the little things. Cancer and the death of loved ones can give you great perspective. I try not to get bogged down by stupid things, because I know in the grand scheme, they don’t matter. I pray frequently, I try to trust and forgive people, and I try to live each day as my last, because we all just never know. I’ve had a lot of strong people in my life, particularly my parents, who have showed me by example how to gracefully manage through adversity. I’m not always perfect (sort of like the dairy), and I have my bad days, but I try to reflect on all my many blessings and that usually pulls me out of it. I think that’s a long winded way of saying grace and gratitude are the keys.

6) Do you ever make meat-based meals for the other members of your family?  How does that make you feel?
In the beginning of my whole-food, plant-based journey, I did make two meals. My main course would be their side dish, and I learned what they liked that way. Gradually, I eliminated all meats (beef, pork, poultry) but still made fish about once a week. I recently even stopped making the fish as often and everyone seems to be adjusting just fine. However, when we go out to eat, there’s no controlling them! It’s all about burgers and ribs and fish… it feels a little hypocritical to allow it, especially for my son, but I don’t want to make them crazy either.

7)  You occasionally refer to the impact that religious faith has in your life.  Can you tell me a little about your spiritual journey?
I was raised in a fairly strict Catholic family. Church was always a big part of my life. I was even part of my church’s music ministry for about 35 years. (That always makes me feel old to say that!) Several years after my first husband died, I fell in love with David, who was divorced. As I was a widow, I was free to re-marry in the Catholic Church, but David was not. We did not agree with getting an annulment since he had been married for many years and had three children. I was told that I could continue to attend church, but I would no longer be allowed to participate in the sacraments. I felt somewhat kicked to the curb by a church I loved, but I made my decision and thought I could live with the consequences. David and I married in a Methodist church, and I continued to raise my son Catholic until he had received First Communion. During his preparation, there were some parent classes and I remember being at one that focused on forgiveness. I had a really difficult time reconciling that message, as I would never be “forgiven” for marrying a divorced man. And yet, priests and others were being forgiven daily for much more unforgivable acts (at least in my opinion). I was finding that church was no longer a place of solace for me, but rather elicited some rather negative feelings. I had a deep spiritual need that was unfulfilled, and so, along with a dear friend, I began looking for a new church. We found the most amazing church very shortly thereafter, a non-denominational church, and have been attending there for the last 5 years. I have learned so much about the Bible, about my faith. The weekly teachings are so applicable to my daily life--I often think they are talking just to me! And it is not unusual for me to be moved to tears by the music or the message. I think I have always been a faithful person, but I have found a much deeper spiritual connection to God. I guess everything does happen for a reason. Sorry for the long-winded answer!

8) Do you occasionally cheat on your plant-based diet?  If so, what's your favorite food to cheat with?
I guess it depends on if you’re measuring it against vegetarianism or veganism, the latter being much more stringent. So let’s go with vegetarianism, since I already confessed to not being 100% vegan yet. (And note: I do eat fish/seafood occasionally; particularly if I am eating out…I’m not counting that as cheating for purpose of this question.) So with all the disclaimers out of the way, I can honestly say, since I started my whole-food plant based journey, I have “cheated” exactly twice. The first time was last Easter, when I had one piece of kielbasa. The second time was when my husband and I went to Ruth Chris’ Steak House for dinner. Friends had given us a gift card and my husband, of course, ordered a steak. I have heard so many great things about their steaks that I had to try one bite. Yes, just one bite. And you know what? It didn’t do anything for me.

So with Easter fast approaching, I guess there’s a chance that I will have another piece of kielbasa, which may not seem like a food worth cheating for, but, hey, it’s tradition!

9) You're also a musician.  What your favorite "guilty pleasure" music?  This would be something you listen to that other musicians would be shocked and appalled by, if they only knew.
I think they would actually be appalled at how little music I listen to. I know you have written a lot about your introversion, and I’m much the same. I can fake it really well, but deep down, I am an introvert and I like to spend a lot of time in my head… in silence. There is so little time in my day that has room for silence, so when I find it, I take it. On the odd chance I am listening to music, it is usually some combination of: the Wicked Soundtrack, Sirius 70’s on 7, classical when I can find something I know well enough to air conduct, Christian rock, and everything Dan Fogelberg. (Dan is the only artist whose entire collection I own.)

10) What's worse, having to call the HELP desk or having to go down to HR?
Help Desk, hands down! I try every avenue of assistance before I have to call them. I love my friends in HR!

(*)  The responses provided are exactly has Michele provided, without any editing on my part.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Testing the Faith

I've always been of the opinion that faith, at least as it is expressed in a religious context, has to be bigger than a single person.  Put another way, if you religious faith is depend or contingent upon a single person (or even group of persons), then you are simply asking to be disappointed.  Why?  Well we humans are tragically flawed creatures, prone to the kinds of failing that make us ill-suited for adulation.  God may be perfect, but this creation human is not.

As a side note, the above is one of the reasons why I find it distasteful that the late Pope John Paul II will be canonized a saint.  Was he a great man?  Well I didn't know him, but he certainly could fit the bill for the title "great".  Was he a Saint?  I'm not so sure, but I am sure that the rush to give him the official saint seal of approval probably has more to do with Roman Catholic Church politics and a desperate need for modern day role models than it does actual saintly acts.  Let's also not forget that, as great a man John Paul II was, he also basically led an organization that was actively covering up the abuse of children by members of his clergy.  He also lived in splendor while many lived in squalor.  Neither is what I would consider saintly behavior.

Anyway, I'm not writing about the pending sainthood of John Paul II today.  Instead, I'm writing about something far closer to home, namely allegations of sexual misconduct made against Father Philip Altavilla, the rector of Saint Peter's Cathedral in Scranton.  You can read more about it HERE.  Now before I go any further, I'll I have before...the following:

I was raised a Roman Catholic.  I was an altar server for 10+ years.  I attended Catholic high school.  I was the president of the Catholic Student's organization during my senior year of college.  In all of that time, exposed to dozens of religious men and woman, not once...ever...was I touched in an inappropriate way nor was I ever even made to feel uncomfortable in a physical/sexual way.  In fact, many of the priests I met in my life (Father Yarish, Father Miller, Monsignor Lewis all come time mind right off the top of my head) were wonderful men of God and outstanding human beings.

I also realize though that others have had experiences not like mine.  The article I referenced above is very distressing in the sense that there are people who may in fact feel their religious faith is in jeopardy over what is happening within the Catholic Church.  While some may find this cause for celebration ("freedom from religion"), I don't, for the simple fact that I know the pain this will cause for those who are indirectly impacted*.  Now maybe some of these individuals were aware of the priestly abuse scandals that were reported in the news, but never really "felt" the impact, until now.  It must be a horrible feeling.

I don't have an religious equal to the above, by the way.  My falling out, if you want to call it that, with the Catholic Church wasn't the product of sudden jolt of an event; rather it was the end product of years that past when I realized that I simply never felt welcome in the Church.  It was a place where I would go, but to actually feel a sense of welcoming and belonging?  No, that only very rarely occurred.  Basically it was always this kind of club where I felt tolerated, at best.  There's also always been issues of dogma that have bothered me about the church.  For example, on one hand you have some proclaiming "pro life", but yet on another turning a blind eye towards anti-life policies such as the death penalty, needless war and poverty.  I appreciate the zeal of the anti-abortion movement, but let's be honest, there is a fair degree of hypocrisy at work in that area (for example, supporting candidates such as Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, a man who has arguably harmed the poor, education and the environment, but who is never the less supported because he is "pro-birth"**).   I also have this nagging sense that the Church exits, in some degree, to simply perpetuate else could anyone describe the covering up of sexual misconduct of priests and scandals such as those involving the Vatican Bank?  Jesus chased the money-changers out of the temple but in the case of the Vatican, they actually run some of the money-changing business.

Now what I will not do is simply surrender all of the faith that I learned and which is a part of me.  That will never change.  I will always pray in times of need.  I will always keep a few very special religious artifacts close to me.  I will always find a sense of beauty in church building.  I will always believe that, in some way or form, this existence we all have is simply too complex (and important) to just be some random result of molecules coming together.  There has to be more to this reality that what meets the eye.

In the final analysis, coming to terms with the fallibility of what you once considered infallible is a painful, all be it necessary, part of life.  I truly hope that the recent events noted above, while painful over the short term, will result in a real growth of spirit and understanding over the long term.

(*) The pain of those directly impacted...the abuse of course far greater.

(**) In reality, I suspect there are a some in the pro-life movement who are actually just "pro-birth".  They want babies born on one hand, but on the other, they deride the poor who have children as being "takers", "welfare queens", "lazy" and the like.  Newsflash:  if you want to claim to be pro-life, then you have to be pro ALL LIFE, not just the pre-birth kind that you find cute and innocent.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cock Fighters for Bevin

Watching two animals kill each other, simply to entertain humans, is sickening (at best).  Oh, and I'm not an extremest, anti-meat eating, tree-hugging fanatic either.  Rather, I was simply raised to believe that things like cock fighting are cruel and immoral.

Enter Tea-Bagger & Kentucky Senate candidate Matt Bevin.  Article HERE.

I guess he didn't see all the "legalize cock fighting" signs at the rally.

You can add this to the litany of Tea-Bagger candidates who seem to have a penchant for the stupid.  You can also add this to the list of candidates who proclaim to be "Christians" but yet hardly act "Christian".  From the candidate's own website (HERE) -

"Matt Bevin grew up in a financially humble home, built on a bedrock of strong Christian values, and was encouraged by his parents to pursue the American Dream."

Call me crazy, but somehow I don't think that Jesus of Nazareth would approve of people betting on which of two roosters was going to eviscerate the other. Animal cruelty?  Hardly a "Christian value".

Anyway, I hope Mitch McConnell cleans his clock in the GOP primary.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mount Garbage Anyone?

Yes, as if rampant public sector nepotism, a bankrupt city, high taxes, poor employment picture, crater-sized potholes, methane bubbling in water and higher than average death rates weren't enough, things in NEPA may very well manage to get worse.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...

Yes, the good folks at the Keystone Sanitary Landfill want to add 50 years of garbage capacity to their landfill via going skyward.  I kid you not...simply read the article.  They actually, literally, factually want to make a garbage mountain.

Look, I get it:  we need to put our garbage somewhere but do we really also need to put New Jersey's, Connecticut's and New York's garbage here too?  Seriously. when some folks say that "NEPA is a dump", little do they know that they are actually being factually correct.  Well technically it is a dump twice over, as we have two large ones within a few miles of each other.

This is truly a bad, bad idea.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Road Apples, #147

Redundancy in action...Ask a Canadian to say "About a boot".

Speaking of Canadians...I still keep wondering if the house prices you see listed on the various HGTV series are in dollars or loonies.  The latter may help to explain why they show janitors buying $300,000 homes.  I know I've pondered this before, but it just throws me for a loop, mainly because I watch so little TV I guess (and of what I do watch, 60%+ is the previously referenced HGTV).  The solution is to either watch more TV to balance things out or watch less.All the more reason to watch "Nicole Curtis: Rehab Addict", which is proudly made in the U.S. of A.  

Best logo, ever...from the Facebooks.

The Noah Movie...It's an interesting study in the way human being think to watch (and/or listen to) the reactions to the new Noah movie.  I've heard that some evangelical Christians are really incensed that the movie seems to take liberties with the biblical account of the flood.  Here's a sample, also from the Facebooks:
Now as I understand it, the biblical account of the flood isn't movie screenplay long, so of course any movie about Noah and the flood would need to take some liberties.  I'll also note that the "real" Noah didn't speak English with an Australian accent either, but I think the point is made.  Speaking of points, consider this:  from one perspective, this is an example of people getting upset at the fictional telling of a fictional story.  

Speaking of religion...I finished The Pope and Mussolini and am just about finished with another book that I put down in order to read the Pope book.  Next up?  Eternal Life: A New Vision:  Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell by John Shelby Spong and The Protestant's Dilemma by Devin Rose.  It's a kind of yin-yang deal I have got going.  For someone who is not overly religious (although I do "confess" to praying), I do enjoy reading about religion and religious philosophies.  I wonder why?  Well part of it started back when I was in high school and I read every single book the Scranton Public Library had on the subject of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I didn't read the books because I wanted to convert, but rather because I was simply fascinated with something so very different.  Going back before high school, I'm convinced that the fact that I was raised a strict Catholic and knowing nothing about other religious (well, other than the fact that I was told they were "wrong") made me all the more interested in other religions.  Anyway, I've probably read a hundred or so books that either directly or indirectly deal with religion, and I've yet to read anything that would even remotely cause a conversional stir in my bones...but I still find the subject matter to be interesting.

Glenn being sued for defamation of character.  Story link HERE.  Ironic that someone who throws verbal bombs for a living is being sued for accusing someone else of being involved in a real bombing.  One does get the impression that Mr Beck really, truly wants to be taken seriously.  Of course it would help if he would stop acting like an ass-clown, but I suspect that he's no more capable of making that leap than my cat JeanLuc is capable of actually answering me when I talk to him.  Anyway, with Glenn Beck it's important to consider the source; Charles Krauthammer he is not.

That's right Glenn, "everybody have fun tonight, everybody Wang Chung tonight".

On Writing...I tend to write the Road Apples postings in chunks.  For example, this posting started with the first two points one evening, then a few were added this morning.  It's now Wednesday evening as I write this, and quite frankly, it's time to put this bad boy to bed.  But not without one more item.

Staff Meetings...Today and tomorrow are full team staff meetings in my little work corner.  That means folks from three other locations coming to Scranton for a day and a half of meetings and the like.  For me, it's a difficult time.  Simply put, it requires so much extroversion when these things occur. All the activities are designed around what gives extroverts energy.  It's a energy drain, such that by the time everything was done for today at about 7pm I was mentally and physically exhausted.  I have no more to give.  I really don't want to do much more talking.  I want to write, read, and maybe watch a bit of TV.  Tomorrow is a new day full of extroversion.  No doubt I'll be beat by the time it ends.  Maybe I should have become an engineer after all.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Response to Tom Borthwick's Comment, RE: Abington Heights Teachers

You can read my original posting and Tom's comment HERE.

* * * * * * * * 

Tom, with all due respect, you're trying to rationalize bad behavior, plain and simple.  Put yourself in the shoes of a student:

"You are nervous as heck about getting into college in the first place.  You are equally nervous as heck about asking a that you that you have build a rapport write you a recommendation letter for college.  You finally work up the courage and ask the teacher, only to be told no."

How does this make you (again, putting yourself in the shoes of the student) feel?  Words like "crushed" and "devastated" come to my mind. 

Now if you detect a note of passion in my writing here, it's because my three daughters all went through this same process; fortunately for them, they had teachers at Scranton High School who were willing to take the time (as you indicated you do) to do this in support of their students.  That's part of what makes teaching and teachers special:  truly being there for the students when they are needed the most.  Trust me, a student nervous about getting into college is about a needy as they come.

The above noted, what makes this whole mess even worse?  The fact that it's all about money.

Teachers can not simultaneously claim to be "for the students" while also being "for their own economic interests" when those two concepts collide.  They can't have it both ways, no more so than school district administrators can either, and I've been pretty critical of how school districts are run as well (case in point:  school districts allowing sports when academics are suspended during teacher strikes).

What's left for teachers?  Well pick one:

  • Informational pickets
  • Holding public forums
  • Stop chaperoning ski club trips (and other similar types of non-academic activities)
  • Binding arbitration (you know, the process by which taxpayer interest are secondary)
  • Striking

What shouldn't be on the list?  That would be forgoing the writing of recommendation letters.

Tom, this is a shameful act on the part of Abington Heights teachers and I suspect you darn well know it.  While I applaud you for standing by your union brothers and sisters, at the end of the day I can't help but think that you...yourself...would not abide by this kind of union edict if that anxious student came to you and said "Mr Borthwick, I'm really nervous about getting into college.  Could you write me recommendation letter?".  No, I suspect that you'd write the letter, simply because I don't think you could live with yourself otherwise.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Power & My Garage

Two things I learned today:

Power -
Like most older homes, the electrical wiring in our "new" house is, shall we say, "interesting".  Case in point:  we have a circuit breaker that will not re-set, which means that an odd collection of outlets and lights on our second floor will not work.  In our bedroom, for example, one of two wall lights is not working.  Now if I had been living here for a while, I could probably track down where there was short in the circuit and fix it and/or test the breaker and simply replace it.  However, given that my experience here is all of about 4 months, I've decided that the best course of action, after trying some obvious things, is to call an electrician.  Better safe than fried (or burned...which I have the coal stove for anyway).

My Garage -
Know what else is on the non-functional electrical circuit?  That would be, of all things, our garage door opener.  Oh, and this is the same garage that has no other door to it (well there is, but it was boarded & covered up by the looks of it years ago).  And no, we can't see to get the door to open via battery back-up, so we are locked out of our own garage.  Good thing it's just lawn care stuff in there at the moment.  By the looks of things outside at the moment, there won't be a lot of grass cutting going on for a while anyway.

So what to do?  Well, kinda-sorta in order:
  1. Get the electrical problem solved.  A professional is needed for this job, if for no other reason than the fact that it would be shame for the house to burn down 4 months into owning it.
  2. Actually put a door onto the side of the garage.  I can do that one myself, which involves all manner of tools and cutting things.  Heck, I can even use my 25th anniversary Porter-Cable multi-tool.
  3. Figure out how the battery back-up on the garage door works.  That may take some time, and actually getting into the garage would help.
Now all of this could certainly be cause for distress, but I have to thank the Lord for blessing me with Ms Rivers, as she is very cool under pressure.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Doing Wrong: Abington Heights Teachers

The Scranton Times reported on Friday (03.28.2014) that high school teachers in the Abington Heights School District are refusing to write letters of recommendation for students.  The reason?  A dispute with the district over labor contract issues.

Now for those unfamiliar with what's going on, these letters are very important for high school juniors and seniors as they make college plans.  By refusing to write any recommendation letters, teachers are directly harming the students that, in theory, they supposedly care about.

I know, the above is very harsh language, but so be it:  it's one thing for a unionized teacher to go on strike and simultaneously claim to "care about the kids", for after all in Pennsylvania the law governing public schools guarantees a certain number of instructional days per school year.  The net result of a strike therefore is a lot of inconvenience, but in the end it all works out.  More or less.  The same can't be said for the refusal of teachers to write recommendation letters.

Now I had wanted to write this posting yesterday, but I smartly put it off until today, as I was far too angry to write something yesterday that would make a ton of sense.  It would have been just a written rage.  Time has helped in that regard, but I still have a few choice words for the teachers in the Abington Heights School District who are refusing to write recommendation letters:

You are shaming yourselves.

You are bringing shame to your profession.

You are harming the children you claim to care about...for money, no less.

You are proving that what your worst critics say about you is true.

You are using children as cannon balls in a war they are not a party to at a time when they need your support the most.

Stop this nonsense now.  Give up the "holding the kids hostage" approach and start writing recommendation letters again.  Prove that you are better than this blatant display of union thuggery at its worst.