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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Ash Wednesday

True stories:  When I was a kid, I found three experiences to be particularly traumatic.

#1) Dental Work
As a very young kid, we went to a dentist who didn't believe in using Novocain.  Not a drop.  As I type this, I still have a memory of that drill going into my baby teeth...the pressure...the pain...the smell.  Fortunately, by the time reached about age 12, the old Dentist stopped practicing (that or Simon Wiesenthal finally caught up with him) so we started seeing a new dentist.  This one was far more compassionate.

#2) Needles
Like most kids, I hated needles.  What made me particularly bad with the pointy things was the fact that I had surgery three times between the ages of 5 and 7, so I got stuck a lot.  It honestly wasn't until my 20's before that fear started to wain.  Nowadays?  Heck, I give instructions on the placement of an IV (top of the hand, thank you very much).

#3) Ash Wednesday
I loathed Ash Wednesday as a kid.  I literally hated it.  In fact, on more than one occasion I would become sick...real or imaginary...when the day came around.  Why?  Well, there are probably a few reasons, but three come to mind...
  • I simply didn't like someone smearing dirt on me.  It made me feel filthy.  Just writing that brings back memories of that gritty feeling as the dirty was spread on my all-too-large forehead.  It reminded me of filled ashtrays at home. 
  • Reminding me, as a young kid, that I was going to die seemed cruel, especially given my incredibly fertile imagination.
  • The exercise seemed so insincere, what with normally mean-spirited people walking around with this mark on their heads, saying "look at me, I'm so pious (in all of the wrong ways)".  It was a kind of "black badge of insincerity". 

What's kind of ironic is the fact that the first two items have completely turned around on me as I've grown older.  I am border-line fanatical about my teeth these days, and I even had a dental implant done.  As for needles, well, see above...I really don't mind.  In fact, if it's something that will help me, well, bring it on.  Ash Wednesday, it still skeeves me out.  Luckily for me, nowadays I no longer have to pretend to be sick when the day comes around every year.  I still don't, however, like to look at people with it on their foreheads.  

Monday, February 17, 2020

IKEA Smell

I make no secret of the fact that I really like IKEA.  In fact, it's about the only retail experience these days that I find the least bit interesting.  Simply put, IKEA turns shopping for things into an event.  In my case, that would be an event that is worth driving 90 or so minutes to experience two or three times a year.  Among the many reasons I enjoy about IKEA?  The smell.

The Internet tells me that IKEA smells like cinnamon buns (reference HERE), but I don't buy it.  I know the smell of cinnamon buns.  I like the smell of cinnamon buns.  IKEA does not smell like cinnamon buns.

If I had to describe the smell, it would be something that's a combination of:
  • A light cleaning solution/disinfectant of some type
  • 3,000 tons of laminate
  • The cafeteria, although not a particular food
  • Something sweet
  • Slightly herbal
  • Slightly floral
Maybe this is part of some greater Swedish conspiracy to get folks like me to buy more reasonably priced but yet stylish self-assembled furniture*.  Maybe it's all in my head.  But the smell is there, I swear it is.

I could rant on and on about how much I enjoy going to IKEA and why it's a terrific business (including their composting of cafeteria scraps).  In fact, over the course of the 11+ years of the blog I probably already have, but I am too un-motivated to check at the moment.  I will note though that I do have one IKEA complaint:  The don't sell ribs in the cafeteria anymore.  When I first went to IKEA, something like a dozen years ago, the cafeteria had ribs that were among the best I have ever had in my entire life.  Bar none, I swear.  Alas, the ribs are gone, and I have to make do with the Swedish meatballs (which are pretty good).

To end on a high note, some IKEA humor.

(*) All of the furniture in my home office is from IKEA, including two work surfaces, a bookcase, a dresser, a cube unit, a rolling file storage unit, and a Symfonisk speaker lamp.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Valentine's Day

"Let us be lovers, 
we'll marry our fortunes together"

(Paul Simon, "America")

I was trying to ponder the best way to describe a sentiment suitable for Valentine's Day, and for some reason the Simon & Garfunkel song "America" came to mind.  In particular, the line "Let us be lovers, we'll marry our fortunes together" stands out as one of those deceptively simple but yet incredibly poignant thoughts that I think requires a genius to come up with.  Put another way, I could probably write 600 words that wouldn't mean a tenth of what Paul Simon wrote in 9.  

In the old days...and I mean really old days...people would literally marry their fortunes together, putting all they had into something else, something bigger, something important and worthy.  It's not necessarily a romantic or love inspired thought, but when you think about it, that does almost perfectly describe the meaning of true love.  I mean what is true love if it isn't putting all you have into something greater, something where two become one?

Here's to everyone who has managed to find someone to marry their fortunes with on this Valentine's Day.  And if you're still looking, well, keep at it.  There is always something bigger on the horizon.

PS - The best version, ever, of this song was performed by David Bowie during the Concert for New York.  Just Bowie sitting on a stage with a small keyboard.  Another example of genius wrapped in a deceptively simple package.  

Sunday, February 9, 2020

In the Living Years

I have a posting on a relevant, timely topic all ready to go, but I'm not going to do it.  I'm just not feeling it.  Instead, this feels more important.

This was at my brother Rich's wedding, probably 1988 or so.  In case you can't tell, I'm the one wearing the stylish hot pink tie.  That seems like it was a lifetime ago.  Or longer.  And so very, very much has changed since then.  

Time, it seems, is a funny thing.  We measure time in terms of our planet's rotation on its axis and rotation around the sun.  Those would seem to be relatively constant things.  In reality, though, they are not.  In fact, they seem relative.  

When I was a child, time passed incredibly slowly.

Now, at age 55, time seems to fly by.  Except for the fact that, for example, it seems like only yesterday when my brother Chris (first on the left in the picture above) passed away in January 2017. Conversely, looking forward, my plan is to work until about age 65 and then retire.  That, in spite of how time at age 55 seems to pass by quickly, seems so very far away.

Maybe time isn't so constant at all.  Or more precisely, maybe the thing being measured is constant, but the person doing the measuring isn't.  Regardless, these are heady questions that far exceed my pay-grade.

What does seem abundantly true, but yet hard to fully appreciate, is that regardless of how fast (or slow) time passes by, it's probably most important (and for me, the most difficult) to appreciate the moment that we are in, not dwelling on the past or worried about the future.  I know this intellectually (I've pretty much read every book written by Eckhart Tolle), but actually practicing it is a different story.  I'd like to say that "I've got time to learn that", but who knows if that's actually true.  Unlike half-gallon jugs of milk, our expiration dates aren't printed on our side.  

In any event, here's to the living years.

Monday, February 3, 2020

What the Leadership of the Scranton School District Fails to Grasp

The screen grab, above, comes from a Tweet regarding this evening's Scranton School District (SSD) board meeting.  You can follow the reporter's Twitter feed HERE.  This is another chapter in the story of buried and ignored lead and asbestos findings in district buildings.  By way of backstory, click on THIS link.  Here's one key point of that article:

"Scranton first tested its water in 2016, after the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, drew national attention to the issue. That June, the district announced it had shut off eight water fountains and 11 sinks after test results revealed elevated lead levels in the water. Officials had planned to replace the brass or bronze fittings in the affected places that summer, but the district has been unable to find any proof the issues were addressed."

What Superintendent McTiernan fails to grasp by her comment is the perception that things are never actually taken care of in the SSD.  No one is held accountable.  The examples are legion, and some have been chronicled in this blog over the years, from an egregiously ridiculous no-bid busing contract that was actually renewed with no objections, to school board directors failing to attend meetings, to nepotism so bad that it boarders on shameful. 

Case in point:  The felon former business administrator of the SSD, who pleaded guilty to getting free auto repairs from the district for himself and his "family", and received probation for his efforts.  Oh, and his wife (a.k.a. his "family") still works for the SSD.  Reference HERE and HERE.  You can't make this up.

As someone who attended the SSD myself and who had children attend as well, I have to ask if I was exposed to lead and asbestos.  The harmful effects of these things have been known for decades, so why it even took until 2016 for this to come to light escapes me.  It should be shocking to no one that, for example, a 114 or so year old building might have asbestos issues.  In fact, the truly shocking part is the fact that no one bothered to look into it until 2016...and then they did nothing about it.

The people involved in hiding the  2016 testing results should be held criminally responsible for their actions.  They intentionally put children and staff in SSD buildings in harm's way.  Scranton residents, current and past (including me) will have to make due with the heaping of shame upon prior administrations for yet another example of their gross incompetence.


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

What I Learned from Watching 3 Hours of Old Cigarette Commercials

Being something of a knowledge junkie, I wanted to better understand how tobacco products were sold over the years.  Enter YouTube, and after about 3 hours of videos, I've come to some conclusions.  Some of these are serious, some are stupid, but so be've been warned.

(Weird cartoon toilet bowl seat man smoking; from THIS video.)

Before I get to the list, I do want to make an important point:  Smoking is an incredibly stuping thing to do.  If you smoke, I really and truly wish you would stop.  Honestly, I do.  It's a truly senseless habit:  It costs a lot of money, it smells...and makes you smell...bad, it's basically a delivery mechanism for a highly addictive drug and it can kill you in ways that are just ridiculously horrible (citation HERE).  By any objective measure, smoking makes absolutely no sense.

Oh, and by the way, the argument that "well, it's no worse than obesity" doesn't fly here.  Why?  Obesity, while dangerous, represents an excess of something all humans  Yes, the worst food has some nutritional value, even if that's to provide basic calories.  There is, however, absolutely zero redeeming value in smoking.    Again, please stop smoking.

Anyway, here's the list.
  1. Teeth - Everyone in the commercials seems to have perfectly white teeth.  That's remarkable given the damage that chronic smoking can actually do to your teeth (see HERE).
  2. Tips - Filters that were made of cork, tobacco itself, activated charcoal, inverted or extroverted.  Or no filters at all.  Riddle me this Batman:  If you accept the need for a filter, which stops bad stuff from going into your lungs, doesn't that basically prove the very act of smoking (where bad stuff goes into your lungs) is in fact bad?
  3. Robot - The number of commercials narrated by Bob Tufeld...who also voiced the Robot on the original Lost in Space television show...was incredible.  I kept waiting for the phrase "danger Will Robinson" to come out at any moment as someone started smoking.
  4. 21 - A commercial noted that "21 different tobaccos" made up their product.  I didn't know that there were that many different types of tobacco.  I've since learned that there are three basic kinds of tobacco plants, but they each have been engineered into countless different varieties.  Interesting, but I suspect there are probably 21 different kinds of maggots as well.
  5. Athletes - Back in the day, athletes apparently smoked, a lot.  
  6. Everyone Smoked (except everyone really didn't) - Smoking commercials painted a picture of every adult smoking.  That's not actually correct by the way; the highest smoking rate, among men in the United States, was 56.9 in 1955 (citation HERE).  By the year 2000, the rate had dropped to below 25%.
  7. Coupons - Once upon a time you could collect smoking coupons by giving yourself lung cancer and then use them to buy stuff for your home (or even a puppy).
  8. Cartoons - The number of cartoons used to sell tobacco products was shocking.  Be it a particular brand sponsoring the Flintstones or an animated penguin selling menthols, it was, by today's standards appalling.  I know, get in line.  
  9. It's Hot In Here - Actual cigarette commercial premise:  Two young people are dancing in a crowded room.  The young lady says "It's hot in here, let's get some air", so she and her male companion go out to a balcony to smoke.  Isn't wanting "some air" and smoking, which actually prevents your lungs from getting air, somewhat contradictory?
  10. Minorities - Minorities didn't seem to smoke too much in commercials.  Nice to know that white-washing was an equal opportunity endeavor.
  11. All the Time - The commercials showed people smoking at work, at home, while eating, after eating, while making food, while relaxing, while being active outdoors and everywhere else imaginable.  There was even a commercial that showed someone smoking while taking a shower.
  12. Smells - Some tobacco products were sold as smelling "great".  That's ironic, given the fact that prolonged smoking harms your sense of smell (citation HERE).  As a side note, I'll also add that, by and large, smoking smells horrible.
  13. Taste Good - Another common theme among smoking commercials was that they "taste great" or something along those lines.  As is the case with the smell, smoking can actually harm your sense of taste (citation HERE).   
  14. It's Cool - Smoking makes someone look chic, hip, hard-working, fun, and countless other least according to the commercials.  They fail to mention though how cool it is to wake up and cough up a lung.  Every morning.
  15. Doctor Recommended - Countless early commercials touted the smoking habits of doctors.  That hasn't exactly aged well, now has it?
  16. Menthol Magic - Some commercials touted the "magic" of menthol.  I'd call that one down-right insidious.  Why?  There is plenty of scientific evidence to suggest that menthol infused tobacco actually turbo-charges the negative effects of smoking (citation HERE).
  17. T Zone - One brand touted the "benefits" smoking had in the "T Zone", which was basically your nose and throat.  Another example of a selling theme that basically says: "This is bad, but not as bad as others, and that makes this thing actually good".  That's smoking logic for you, circa the 1950s.
  18. Lucille Ball - Listen to Lucille Ball's voice during one of the many early commercials she did for the tobacco company that sponsored her television show and then in the years right before she died.  It's borderline shocking.  By the way, smoking was linked to her death ("Ironically, Arnaz died of lung cancer in 1986, and Ball of heart disease three years later — deaths that have long been linked to their cigarette smoking."; citation HERE).  She went from high-pitch to a frog.  
  19. Language - A "short smoke" is when you only smoke a part of a cigarette and is indicative of the need to switch brands.  There was also other smoking lingo used in the commercials.  Kind of like a cool kids club secret language.  I'd suggest adding "lung rot" to the lingo list.
  20. Older Folks - A large majority of smoking commercials featured younger to middle-aged folks and were centered on getting people to switch cigarette brands.  Older folks were excluded.  I suspect the marketing thought was that it didn't make sense to sell cigarettes to older people who were going to be killed by your product before too long anyway.
Too harsh?  Too snarky?

Probably yes on both counts.  

If this offended you, well, you can get even with me by kicking the smoking habit.  Deal?

Sunday, January 19, 2020

I Don't Like Games... in board games, card games, etc. 

In fact, I think the last board game I played may have been in 2015 when I intentionally lost in  Monopoly to my younger stepson.  I'm sure this causes all measure consternation among my wife and her family, all of whom are up for all manner of gaming.  It was not always this way.

Growing up, I had three brothers (and we are all a year apart...Rich, Steve, Chris, and Joe).  Given that crew, games such as Monopoly and Life weren't all that uncommon, along with the odd card game of War, what passed for Poker (in our minds) and probably other things I am forgetting.  Back then, I felt an intense need to win.  Maybe having fun was part of the supposed reason for playing, along with keeping young boys busy, but that didn't occur to me.  No, it was about coming out on top.  It was about beating my brothers.  That was my mission, and as I recall, I was fairly successful.

When I think about the paths we (my brothers and myself) have taken, that "have to win" mentality certainly played out for me time and time again.  Whatever and whenever my brothers had something I didn't, well, it irked me.  I was losing, and I needed to win.  Granted, having something of a long-term view of things helped me in all of this, as I didn't feel compelled, for example, to boost a 7-11 in order to get the money to get a better car than Chris' early 80's Plymouth Arrow.  But it still stuck at me nevertheless, and I knew I had to...and the car game.  Just like Monopoly.

In hindsight, well, it was all so what's the word?  Oh, stupidIt was stupid.

Reflection and insight have taught me that I was actually competing against myself, against my own sense of having to win...of having to be "good enough".  A stern self-judgment holds no quarter.  At least not in my head.

So, one of the casualties of it all has been my disdain for anything resembling competition.  There has been a notable exception in that I played on an ad-hoc trivia night team, but even then I could feel the intensity of the competition.  I had fun doing that, but it did remind me of so many competitions of the past.  And I secretly (well not secretly anymore) loved it when our team won, which it did from time to time.  For the record, I never would have played trivia without the invitation from a former co-worker, and I am grateful to her for the ask.

Where does this leave me?

I'm still not going to play games.  I'd play trivia again, but that's about it.  At least for now. Maybe one day I'll be able to actually play a game for the fun of it.  Granted that may have to be with grandchildren, but that does give me something to look forward to.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Goals, Goals, Goals

Note:  I was actually thinking of the Motley Crue song (as odd as that sounds) when I came up with the title.

As I’ve noted here in the past, every year I set some goals for myself.  Some might call these new year’s resolutions, but I've never thought of it that way.  Rather, I think everyone should always have some set of goals they are working towards, be they simple or complex.  There’s just too much of life to be experienced, and documenting the steps involved in that experience only makes sense.

Anyway, as I began thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in 2020, I decided to learn about some of the best practices for setting personal goals.  That turned out to not be all that helpful.  For example, there’s some decent thought out there that says we should only set no more than 3 goals for ourselves at any given time.  That’s something which simply doesn’t work for me, in part because my thinking and interests can be so divergent, that I could never come up with just three.  However, I did settle on “three” in a sense:  I broke my goals up in the three categories:  Personal, Professional and Home.  From there though, there was no limiting things to just three.

In another vein, I am reviving a practice for 2020 that I had many years ago, namely that of setting a theme for the year.  This year, the theme is “Creating a New Normal”.  That’s an important idea for me, as it seems like the past 10 years of my life have been just been a rolling series of upheavals and dramatic change, far from anything that would seem like “normal”.  Sure, there was plenty of change in the pre-2010 world as well, but things over the past few years just seem like they have gotten particularly out of hand in that particular (change) department.

So, what am I planning?  Well, there’s some usual stuff…
…lose some weight
…read more books (I read a lot, but I sometimes lack the focus to devote to whole books)
…many projects around the house (such as creating a walk-way to our garage)

There are also some new things on the list as well, such as decluttering my vast store of stuff*. 

Some of the goals are simply reminders to take the time to do things I really enjoy, such as photography.  

Mostly though, the goals are a kind of reminder that, since there are a lot of things outside of my control, it's important to focus on those things where my reach does not, in fact, exceed my grasp.

Here’s to all of us creating a new normal in 2020.

(*) For example, I have every work performance appraisal I have received since 1989.  Why do I need to keep that?


Thursday, January 2, 2020

The Interesting Life of Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani has been in the news quite a bit over the past few months, and none of it has been all that flattering.  In a way, he’s a modern-day tragic kind of figure:  Going from “America’s Mayor” in New York City during 9/11 to now someone more known for outrageous statements to the press and seemingly shady foreign dealings.  With that noted, here are some facts about Rudy Giuliani, most of which are actually true.

1.     Rudy Giuliani has been married 3 times.  If you add his marriage count to that of RushLimbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and Donald Trump, you get a total of 13.  This puts him below the average for that list of family values espousing Republicans.  Rudy can thank Rush for boosting the average above 3. *
2.     Rudy Giuliani’s first wife was his second cousin. *
3.     Rudy Giuliani and his first wife did not have children.  If they did though, for example, have a male child, that individual would be both Rudy’s son and his cousin.  That would make for some confusion at family reunions.  “This is my son, I mean my cousin, I mean my cou-son”.  *
4.     Rudy Giuliani’s favorite television show of all time is All in the Family. **
5.     Rudy Giuliani is a cancer survivor. *
6.     Rudy Giuliani is rumored to use 23 and Me as a dating app. **
7.     Rudy Giuliani could technically be called “Rudy Giuliani, K.B.E.” after receiving an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II. *
8.     Rudy Giuliani is a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. *
9.     Rudy Giuliani has many detractors, but few doubt how much he loves his family.  Especially his cousins. **
10.  Rudy Giuliani once said, while defending President Trump, that “facts are in the eye of the beholder”.  It’s a good thing that the doctors and scientists who developed his cancer treatment had a differing opinion on the subject of “facts”.  *

(*) Actually true; see links for references.
(**) Not actually true, at least as far as I know.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

2019 - Time

The older I get, the more appreciative I become of how complex something as seemingly simple as “time”.

As a kid, time was much less fluid than it is now that I am older.  As a kid, Christmas morning came and went by incredibly fast, but yet any given day of the school year seemed to last a lifetime.  As a decidedly mid-50’s adult, well, time just seems to move fast…and getting faster…all the time.  It’s as if my life is rushing towards something (yes, to be frank, the end of it).  That makes it all the more important to appreciate the here and now.

Part of appreciating the here and now rests with understand what has come before.  When I think about 2019, what comes to mind is change.  Probably more change, I will note, than many other years.

“I’m from Iowa; I only work in outer space”
(paraphrasing Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, responding to whether or not he was some kind of spaceman)
I started 2019 working for a company that took over the company that previously employed me.  I went from working for the same company for nearly three decades to (now) three different companies in the span of three years.  That’s a lot of change, and the fact that I’m here to write about it, having navigated that change, says something good about me. 

Company number two in this time frame was just about the worst possible fit for me in terms of culture, business model and just about any other dimension imaginable.  It was a place where I never would have sought employment myself.  Yet as difficult as that situation was, and it was pretty difficult, I managed to bring it to something of a conclusion.  Even in the difficulty of working for a “worst fit” organization, I was able to gain connections with some truly remarkable people.  It also was a stark reminder to me of how deeply ingrained the notion of work is to me.  A wise person told me that work is important because, oddly enough, I am comfortable in the environment.  I’ve filed that in the category of “Feedback I don’t necessarily understand…but I will accept nevertheless”.

Company number three, where I am now, is something of a gift, being a kind of anti-matter equivalent of company number two.  Where the former was enormously large, the latter is relatively small.  Where I struggled to understand my value in the organization (in fact, feeling lost and devalued), now I know where I fit in and the value I provide.  I owe a debt of gratitude to those who helped get me here, directly or through encouragement, and I’ll do my best to repay that over the years to come.

“I have met the enemy, and he is me”
There are no two ways around this:  I haven’t done enough to take care of myself, and that’s gotten worse in 2019.  After something of a frightening health experience last December, I’m left with the prospect of a colonoscopy every three years for the rest of my life.  Granted that’s not terrible, but it is a stark reminder that the teenage years of almost super-human invulnerability to all manners of physical neglect and abuse to self are long, long gone.  No, at this stage, things will, in fact, wear out, and what how I treat myself does matter.

There are, by the way, at least 876 reasons why I should take better care of myself.  That’s a fact.  What’s less factual is why I have allowed myself to get to this point in the first place.  Part of it, I am sure, is a kind of general despair that comes from a horrible working environment (see above).  Regardless, no manner of excuse is actually sufficient. 

“And there’s someone on my head, but it’s not me”
(Pink Floyd, Brain Damage)
When I think about the 11+ years I’ve written this blog, one of the things that I am most proud of is the fact that I’ve allowed myself, modestly I will note, to be somewhat vulnerable in terms of self-expression.  Now there are fits and spurts where this is more prominent, but I can honestly say that what’s here is pretty much me (all be it with hopefully spelling & grammar).  I don’t know though that I’ve been fully transparent over this past year. 

I have been troubled on the career front (see above, and some other postings), but pretty much kept the worst parts to myself.  There are practical reasons for that (which I can’t disclose), but it’s hard to deny just how dark that drove my life for the first half of 2019.  I still find myself digging out of the emotional toll-hole it has taken.  The good news though is that A) I am making progress and B) I can at least now admit the problem existed.

Now I’m fully aware of all the learned advice about “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, but I’m calling B.S. on that concept, at least as it applied to the scenario above.  I’m not stronger from that experience.  I am, more correctly, feeling damaged, but at least recovering.  For a person who is naturally wired to be very self-reflective and critical, this past employment experience was simply Hell. 

I also think a lot about my late brother Chris.  I had a very vivid dream a few weeks ago that he was in, where I told him how much I missed him.  He said, “I know”.  That was a remarkable bit of coherency for one of my dreams, by the way.  Spiritual people would tell me that was some kind of message.  I don’t know about that part.  What I do know is that when I woke up, it didn’t offer much in the way of comfort.  As difficult as the latter part of his life was, I still feel cheated by his passing. 

“Cheat your landlord if you can – and must – but do not try to shortchange the Muse.”
(William S. Burroughs)
As something of a side effect to all the above, actually writing these postings has become more difficult for me.  I normally (whatever “normally” means) get ideas for things and then just pretty much bang them out in an hour or two.  Occasionally I start writing something and then come back to it later.  Even rarer is a posting like this, that is written in parts, stitched together like some kind of written Frankenstein’s monster. 

Anyway, it feels as if I’m almost trying to punish myself by not doing the things I enjoy.  As if I need to be punished for a year that was quite punishing enough, thank you very much.  It’s a good thing the sole, only intent of these postings…and it’s 2,000 siblings by the way…is my own enjoyment, as it’s been a disappointing year at NCFE.

“You and I have memories, longer than the road that stretches out ahead”
(Paul McCartney, Two of Us)
There’s a real danger, I think, in spending too much time in retrospect.  As I used to tell my daughters, it’s like driving a car:  If you spend too much time looking at the rear-view mirror, you’re not going to see what’s in front of you.  Granted though that an occasional glance is actually prudent. 

The task for me, at least as I see it now, is to pack all of what 2019 was (the good, the bad, and the very ugly…some of which is noted here, some of which is not) and put it away.  We all have bad years, for sure, but they all come to an end as well.  As is our annual ritual, I’m going up “to the cabins” for a few days of being unplugged from all manner of Internets and Social Medias, which creates something of a natural re-set button.  There I’ll catch up on some quality reading, do some off-line writing, spend some time hiking and maybe take a few photographs, all surrounded by my wife and her family.  It’s a kind of simple, gentle end to a year that was far from simple…or gentle.

* * * * * *

All the best to anyone reading this, and I hope your New Year is full of promise.