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

Friday, October 31, 2008

Follow-Up

I had written on Myspace a few weeks/months ago that I was interested in possibly changing the direction of my career at work. Well after waiting about a month from my second round of interviews, I finally got word yesterday that I didn't get the job in question. Interestingly enough, the people at work that knew I was interested in this were more shocked than I was that this didn't happen.

How do I feel about this?

Truth be told, I'm fine with the decision. While it would have been nice on some level to have a choice available, I really went into this mainly just to get some respect. As I may have mentioned somewhere, I was up for a promotion at work about a year or so ago and I was told that I had a genuine shot at it, despite my misgivings that I really didn't. Well that ended up with my not getting the promotion, and walking away with the feeling that it was important for me to interview in order to create the idea of an open process, but in reality I had no chance of getting the job (as in they had their eye on someone from the very beginning, as as I told this person afterwards "in order for me to have gotten that job, I would have had to have given the interview of my life...and you would have had to have shown up drunk for your interview"). But that's life.

Bitter?

No. I have a good job, I think I'm reasonably good at it, and I've always got the option of continuing to keep my eyes open for other opportunities. Life is far too short to wallow in the negative. Besides, I always try to focus my energies at things that I can control; wasting them on being bitter seems like a crime.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Road Apples, #1

Just a few miscellaneous thoughts floating around in my head at the moment:

5 Days Until The Election...and the end of "_________ is evil and kills babies" commercials. Personally I could not be happier. I'm tired of the smearing, the gutter-sniping and the fear mongering. Please candidates, give us reasons to vote for you, not simply against your opponent.

My Brother Got Another Cat...which means that he now has more than I do. Alas, the mantle of "weird cat person" passed from me to him. Score!

I Hate "Fun" Activities At Work...which is what this happening all week. I will not wear "wacky socks" today. I did not wear a team jersey on Tuesday. I refuse to dress up as a pirate tomorrow. Am I the only one that still just wants to go to work to actually work, with the prospect of coming home at a reasonable hour?

It's October...but it feels like December outside. I want my damn global warming, and I want it now!

Every Month...I am supposed to have an update with the person my Director reports to. The odds are about 50:50 that it actually happens. This month's meeting has been rescheduled something like thee times already. Hmmmmmm....am I feeling lucky today? If this actually goes down, maybe I should play the lottery.

I Take Halloween Off...every year. Without failing. In years past it was so that I could see my kids participate in the Halloween parade at school. Now it's just another fall day to stock up on some mental health. Tomorrow is no exception, although I do have to run into the office for a conference call. As for tomorrow's plans, I may do some Christmas shopping.

In January I Will Have My 20th Anniversary With My Employer...which means three extra vacation days (I already have a tough time using them), a letter from the Chairman and some kind of gift from the firm. At my 10 year anniversary I got a pair of binoculars. The 20th should be pretty good. We shall see.

As I Am Writing This...I am also avoiding folding and packing my workout clothes, which I really need to start doing before I have to take the girls to school.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Of Rosebuds and Funerals

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying.
For this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying

-Robert Herrick


True story: When I started working for my current employer, almost twenty years ago, I found the above poem sitting the pull-out desk drawer of my tiny cube. Now I didn't remember it word for word, and truth be told it was not until a few moments ago that I even tried to look it up. If anything, that proves that it was God, not two 20-somethings, that actually created Google. Anyway, I'm not sure what that meant for my career, life or anything else, but it seems like as good a place as any to write a line or two about a funeral.

Today was the funeral of my Uncle Frank. It was a wonderfully Catholic ceremony, full of the incense, water sprinkling and ritual that we Catholics do so very, very well. It was also a fine send-off for my Uncle Frank, complete with an ending military honor. Well deserved for a man who served his country with honor during World War II. Frank's actual nuclear (and truth be told extended) family is rather small...his three living children, the spouse and mother of his oldest son plus myself and my two brother were about it. There were, however, much more well wishers and assorted others who knew him throughout the years. Yes, it was a fine way to go out.

Going out, for tomorrow will be dying...now that's an deep thought. Sitting there in the ornate church, instead of thinking about Uncle Frank, I found myself thinking about who would be at my funeral. What would they be saying about me? Would I even want such an ornate affair, after all, I don't consider myself to be a terribly ornate person. Then it came to me, sort of: the funeral isn't for the dead person, it's for the living people. Uncle Frank has gone onto where ever he was going to, which I hope is somewhere with Aunt Anne (and I can hear her now..."well Jesus Christ Frank, it's about time"), so he probably didn't need the incense, sprinkling of water and the like. I think the ritual though is somehow important to the family, as something all of us do when someone dies. Its' as if the uncertainty that death brings somehow needs this certainty of death rituals to make it more acceptable. Personally...and this might get me in trouble with my cousin the Priest, but so be it...I don't know that the specifics of the ritual is nearly as important as the consistency of the ritual itself.

Regardless of the ritual at hand, there are a few things that I would insist upon for my funeral arrangements...for my ritual if you will:

MUSIC - I want music playing in the background at the funeral home. Katrina can DJ. I want ABBA, Beatles, Steely Dan, Pretenders, Roxette, Duran Duran, etc. playing in the background.

PICTURES - They had great pictures of Uncle Frank at the funeral home. I want that too. Note that I have a ton of them on my Seagate drive.

FLOWERS - I love flowers, but I hate the thought of some may just being throw away after a funeral, so I'm thinking I wouldn't want much there. How about giving the money instead to St Jude's?

COMFORTABLE SHOES - I can be dressed in a nice suit and that would be fine. But I insist on comfortable shoes. Nothing pisses me off more than having to wear uncomfortable shoes.

BAGPIPES - I'm not Scottish, but I love the sound of bagpipes, so I want Amazing Grace played on bagpipes at my grave site. I also want the song "Mull of Kintyre" by Paul McCartney and Wings played at my funeral.

TREES & RABBITS- I want to be buried somewhere near trees. I love trees. I also want plenty of rabbits to be living in the cemetery. It's kind of funny, but I've walked by cemeteries and seen rabbits hopping about their business, as if they are God's true caretakers to the place.

LUNCH AFTERWARDS - I want my family to have a luncheon for funeral guests after my services (which is something of a tradition around here...not sure about other areas though), but there needs to be a price for admission...namely, to attend, you have to first tell some silly, stupid and or otherwise funny story about me first. I want people to have one last laugh, on me.


I admit that the above sounds just a tad bit ghoulish, but that's ok. I don't attend funerals very often and I don't plan on "kicking the bucket" anytime south of 2064. But you know something? Sometimes it's good to take a step back and remember your own mortality.

You Can Tell It's Late October By The Mud

Yes, it's late October in an election year, and in addition to mud in your yard, you'll see it splattered about TV and radio as well. The subjects are being telegraphed to us right now...

...Obama's ties to Rev. Wright
...Obama's ties to Bill Ayers

Not that Democrats have been immune from the temptation themselves, as I saw more than a few adds that paint John McCain as somehow being in danger of an imminent physical collapse. In my mind, that's nearly as bad as the Bush/Rove 2000 anti-McCain smear involving his adoption of a Bangladeshi child (the infamous "John McCain fathered a black child whisper campaign).

However, with Obama ahead in the polls, I'm thinking that the Democrats have little to gain by going negative, so the mud will be slung mainly in one direction. Personally I think it harms the Republicans more than it helps them by creating an air of desperation to the McCain campaign. That's something they don't need with a week to go before election day. Why not instead of going negative defend the McCain policies on healthcare? You won't see that, mainly because what the Senator from Arizona proposes for healthcare is, in my opinion, ill-conceived and practically speaking too complex to explain in a 30 second ad spot.

Anyway, since I brought up the Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers, I might as well close this with my thoughts on those two associations:

Rev Wright -- Sure, I've seen the clips of his preaching that seemed pretty extreme. I also saw the clips of Gov Palin being blessed against attacks of witchcraft by her Pastor. I'm sure if we looked hard enough, more extreme views would come out of the Palin religious experience camp. But that's ok. We aren't electing Rev Wright nor are we electing the Witchdoctor Pastor. Both of these individuals can listen to sermons on things I find strange/wierd, etc. and that's fine with me. All of us are exposed to things like that all the time. What matters is how they...and we...conduct ourselves.

Bill Ayers -- I'm wondering why, if Bill Ayers is the American equivalent of Bin Laden, he isn't in jail? I don't know all of the circumstances surrounding the Ayers case, but if he was that much of a terrorist, why didn't he serve a day in jail? I do know that he's a well credentialed professor. And if shady associations are to be taken into consideration for Obama, shouldn't they also be taken into consideration for Senator McCain (Charlie Keating, G. Gordon Liddy, Rove associates in his campaign) and Gov. Palin (Alaska separatists)?

A pristen candidate with no hair is a non-existant candidate. Let's judge these individuals on where they stand relative to the issues, thank you very much.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Goodbye Uncle Frank

Francis X. Albert died on October 23rd; he was 84 years old. Frank was my uncle, meaning the brother of my father. He also was the last surviving member of his family. He's also the last surviving member of his family, as none of his children had any children of their own.

I can't really think of Uncle Frank without also thinking of his late wife, Aunt Anne, who passed away in 1973 (I was 9 at the time). Anne was loud, often found drinking Gibbons bear, fond of colorful language and was the nicest, kindest adult relative I knew. Going to hers and Frank's nice house as a kid was always a joy...it was just an inviting place. It was also different than the housing project I lived in at the time, being squarely middle class (complete with greenhouse in the backyard). The contrast here is to the family of my mother, most of whom, to be honest, seemed to look down on myself and my brother on those odd occasions when we would visit.

Frank was also the relative that I've probably seem the most of in my life. He always lived in South Scranton, and in later years actually lived across the street from the house that I own with my mother. That afforded me the chance to see him every once in a while and say hello. That may not sound like much, but you have to remember that he was my only real contact with a relative from either my mother or my father's family. Frank was not without his flaws, but at his heart he was a hell of a nice guy. He also served his country with honor in the Army Air Corps during WWII.

Frank is survived by three living children: Francis X, Father Patrick (a Catholic Priest), and Jeanine (who is also one of the nicest people I know...although I don't see her that much). He had two children previously pass away: a son Billy (who died only a few years ago) and a daughter Mary Anne (who I believe died as an infant).

Rest in Peace Uncle Frank, and I'm glad you are finally re-united with Aunt Anne.

Hello Blogspot!

Well, I finally did it. Yes, after years of blogging on various sites, I've decided to make for myself a more or less permanent place where I can write to my hearts content. In decided on the Blogspot page, I was thinking about a few different things:

First and foremost, I wanted to post "above board", meaning under my own name. I continue to frequent various message boards and blogs under various names, but something just told me that it's time to bring it all to light.

Second, I wanted something simple and easy to. Now after only one failed attempt, I've gotten blogspot to work.

Third, since I enjoy taking pictures, I wanted a place where I could incorporate them into postings.

So there you go. Now whether sixty people read this or six, it doesn't matter a bit to me. I don't generally write for anyone but myself. Now that might sound selfish, but so be it. As someone who at least tries to do for others (as a husband, father, friend, etc.), I think I'm entitled to at least this much of a selfish indulgence.

One final note: I'll probably also import a few select postings from my Yahoo360 page.