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

Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Resolutions (well at least some of them)

I actually like the whole New Year's Resolutions thing.  It fits neatly into this view of the universe that I have, one where you constantly learn, constantly strive, constantly try.  That noted, I usually set these things and then never actually achieve most of them. Maybe that should be one of my resolutions:  achieve more of my resolutions.


Anyway, I'm thinking that there are a few basic things I'd like to accomplish (or at least strive to accomplish) in 2011.



Being a Better Dad
I resolve to be a better father by listening & being more open with my own feelings.  My children are fast becoming (and have become) adults, so I have a responsibility to exemplify the best of adult behavior.  That doesn't mean saying "yes" all the time; it means saying "yes" and sometimes "no" at the right times.  It's not about being what my children want at any given time...it's about being what they need most of the time.


Virtual vs. Actual World
I resolve to spend LESS time in the virtual world.  This means less time on Facebook, less of just leaving the Internet on as some kind of bizarre form of visual muzak.  Conversely, I resolve to spend more time in the real world.  It's time to come out of the shell a bit more.


Working on Me
I resolve to continue the process of taking an honest look at myself and striving to grow in those areas where I can genuinely be a better person.  This includes:
  • Being less self-critical.  I need to stop being my own worst critic. I've learned the hard way this year that sometimes that kind of behavior opens the door to some pretty bad situations.  When you don't perceive yourself as having value, is it all that shocking that other may treat you like you don't have much value?  
  • Being more assertive in my personal life.  For years I have this asinine behavior whereby I would get angry but then feel guilty for getting angry. That's over.  If I feel manipulated or mistreated I'll say that right up front.  As my Therapist says, "Time to put on the big-boy pants".
  • Finding happiness in what I do.  In the last 20-some years of my life, I never really spent all that much time trying to be happy.  Adults deserve to have some fun too.  I should be doing more things that I enjoy.
  • Being more social.  I will never be an extrovert, but that doesn't mean that I can't try to make more friends and at least try to enjoy social activities and situations.  I don't have to love this sort of thing, but to be a more complete person I have to try harder at it.
  • Engage in healthy relationships.  It's time to engage in relationships that are mentally and emotionally healthy for me.  This means stability, caring and most important of all, honesty.     


Learn
I resolve to learn about those things that I am interested in where I know the least.  I want to listen to more classical music.  Maybe finally learn how to play the guitar.  Finally read Moby Dick cover to cover.




Health
I resolve to take better physical care of myself.  This includes:

  • Blood Pressure...I am going to, once and for all, make some decisions about how to handle my border-line high blood pressure.  That decision starts being made on January 4th.
  • Weight...I am going to keep my weight at a reasonable level.
  • Exercise...I am going to exercise more frequently and more consistently.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Road Apples, #86

Pet Travel Peeve...I love the whole pay at the pump thing when getting gas.  Why?  Normally when I am traveling, especially when traveling home from a business trip, I usually don't feel doing much in the "interacting with other humans" department.  All the more reason why just pulling up, swiping my card, getting my gas and then pulling our a receipt is exceptionally convenient for me.  Of course the fly in the ointment happens when I see the whole "see clerk for receipt" message on the pump display.  Newsflash:  I don't want to see the clerk.  I don't want to see anyone.  I just what to get home from a ghastly long day.  Having to wait in line to get something that, had the system been working properly, I should have gotten already simply pisses me off.  Damn, I am such an American.


Scranton School Director...There was an article in yesterday's Scranton Times about a sitting Scranton School Board director who has been accused of DUI. Out of respect for the individual in question I'm not going to link the the story, but I did want to reference it here to make a point.  Point?  Well two points actually: 1) Everyone, including politicians, are innocent until proven guilty.  2) Public service is a privilege, not a right.

Related to #1, unfortunately for the individual in question, DUI cases are usually fairly well cut-n-dry.  Either the person was drunk & driving or they were not drunk & driving.  However we do have a system in this country, so best let it play out.

Related to #2, if the individual is found guilty or pleads to some charge related to this, they should immediately resign their position on the Scranton School Board.  There is an expectation that, as a public servant...particularly one serving the children of the community...the standards of conduct are higher than they are for the public in general.  I expect my public servants to follow the rules all the time, not "some of the time" or even "most of the time".  Nope, I expect someone who is being paid by the public to a model of behavior.  Flaunting the law, particularly one designed to prevent serious injury and/or death, simply isn't acceptable.


Busy Few Days...I actually have a lot to do outside of work over the next few days.  Strange, huh?  I normally just sit on my rear-end this time of year, but this time around I am actually busy.


Phil Davison...This is my favorite clip from the "insane politician" department for 2010.



"I have represented our party twice, on the county ballot!"

Priceless stuff.

It took me a while, but I finally figured out who this guy sounds like:  Joe from Family Guy.


Last Dance...In the "you know you are getting old" department, my youngest daughter is going out today to get a dress for a formal dance at school.  Yes, my baby is a senior in high school.  It seems like yesterday that she was a curly haired toddler.  Time does indeed fly.  Next up for the youngest Albert girl:  a visit to Shippensburg University.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Peace On ________

I was driving back from the Viewmont Mall this evening and I noticed the "Peace of Earth" lighted display in front of Scranton City Hall.  As I looked at it while stopped at the Mulberry/North Washington intersection it occurred to me that maybe we should be aiming a bit lower.  How about just "Peace in Scranton City Hall" first?

Joe Miller Quits

Apparently Alaskan cry-baby U.S. Senate candidate (and Sarah Palin lap-dog) Joe Miller has decided to drop his asinine challenge to the write-in victory of incumbent Senate Lisa Murkowski.  Story link HERE.

At last, an Alaskan quitter that I agree with.

Miller is going to continue a lawsuit challenging the way votes were counted in the contest.  I guess he is hoping for some judicial activism of the kind that he might agree with.  Score one for the ironic.  

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010: The Year the Rules Changed

How could I not take a few moments to look back on 2010?  The interesting part is that, by virtue of my own official blogger rules, I really can't write about some of what happened during the year.  However when I look back on some of this year's postings...and having the benefit of the "Steve decoder ring" (which one or two other people also have)...I can see that I actually did write about quite a bit of sensitive stuff, all be it in an exceedingly indirect way.


So here we go...2010, the year the rules changed.


Doing Big Things
It's no secret that the past few months have been somewhat *difficult* for me personally.  It's also not an understatement to say that I was unprepared for all that has happened, but sometimes life is like a swimming pool:  every once in a while you just have to jump in (or I guess "jump out" in the case of divorce). Now I'm not claiming that I am over the difficult stuff, because I am not, and I readily acknowledge that fact.  What I can claim in some way is that I've expanded my capacity to handle the difficult stuff, which I hope puts me in a good place for the future.


Yes, the skin is a bit thicker and I've experienced some emotions in quantities that have been unnerving (at best), but I'm here to write about the experience, and that in and of itself is a good thing.


Getting By With A Little Help From My Friends
I've written about this before, but one of the things I've learned in 2010 is that friendship is more than just one a way street.  For years I think I was a friend to some folks, but that friendship was more about my helping them than anything else.  That's not because others didn't want to help me, but rather because I simply never asked for help.  That was wrong, and I have been stubbornly pig-headed for far too long.


Feeling Feelings, Not Thinking Them
I've learned that feeling are to be felt, not analyzed like some kind of Algebra problem.  I also learned that, in my personal life, I need to be more simple and direct with my feelings.  There is no sin in saying "I am angry because _______" if you are actually angry.  In fact, it's healthy.  Funny thing is that I have that kind of thing handled in my professional life, but never really in my personal life.  That has started to change, for the better.  I can now be angry without feeling guilty about being angry.  Small miracle, to be sure, but a miracle never the less.


Faith Matters
Let me say this right up front:  I am not claiming any kind of religious revival.  But I have seen and experienced a few things over the past two months that have me thinking that maybe, just maybe, there are things in this universe that simply can't be explained as being some kind of random accident.  Why do our lives take the turns that they do?  Sure, some of it is random chance based upon the choices we make.  However what is so random about getting that helping hand precisely at the moment when you are just about to fall off the cliff?    


I do not believe that we are somehow "controlled" by some old white dude who lives on a cloud; that's a fiction best left to children (and people with the intellect of children).  Free will don't you know.  But I do (now) think that sometimes our lives may be steered in certain directions.  Why?  Best I can figure it may be so that we can have the opportunity to grow and become more of what we are capable of becoming for the people in our lives and the world around us.  


Now the trick is to figure out what I should be doing with these kinds of thoughts.  Hint:  tent revivals are not in my future, but perhaps some additional faith exploration is in the offing.


By the way, my definition of "faith" may be different than yours.  For me, "faith" is the idea that you believe in something even when there is no proof to support that belief.  It doesn't have as much to do with dogma as it does in having your mind open to the notion that we are not capable of understanding it all.


I'm A Lucky Guy
I really am a lucky guy.  


I have three intelligent, beautiful, insightful daughters who make me very proud.


There are people who care about me.  


I have a job that enables me to pay my bills, help my children through college and still have enough left over to buy a toy every now and then.


I'm reasonably healthy.  


I have my wits about me.  


I've had the opportunity to learn some really, really tough lessons in life and live to tell about it.  


At 46 I'm still interested in learning new things.  I actually now have a copy of the Brandenburg Concerto.






Here's to 2011 & a new set of rules.
  

Friday, December 24, 2010

...and so this is Christmas

It's Christmas Eve 2010 and I'm sitting here with my 22 year old daughter watching "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town".  Life is truly good and I am truly blessed.


Merry Christmas!

Lackawanna County Prison: Epic Fail

Two recent articles in the Scranton Times that I wanted to reference.




Father William Pickard's Op-Ed piece.
Community Must Not Tolerate Inhumane Treatment At Prison
From my perspective, this is a must read if you truly profess to be a Christian.  Father Pickard holds nothing back in this piece; I particularly like the following excerpt:


"We must hold our county commissioners - Mike Washo, Corey O'Brien and A.J. Munchak - responsible for their failures to govern humanely."

Father Pickard is 100% correct in this assertion, and it's time that our elected officials act as if they are accountable for something. 





Prison Guards Engaged In Smuggling?
FBI Investigating Guards At Lackawanna County Prison
If this story pans out...if there is evidence that guards at the prison are padding their pocketbooks by colluding with prisoners to smuggle tobacco products...then we have yet another epic failure of government in NEPA to do the basic stuff that we, the taxpayers should be able to take for granted.  Now I realize that running a prison is not an easy undertaking, but in the real world (outside of the Oz-esque bubble called NEPA & certain parts of Chicago) places like prisons are managed by professionals who know what they are doing, not political hacks who treat a governmental operation like an employment agency for friends and relatives.




Perhaps it's time to end the Lackawanna County system of prison governance and replace the Prison Board members with a broader set of community leaders who are less interested in running an employment agency and more interested in the serious work that prisons should be conducting (as noted by Father Pickard).




Side-Bar:  I apologize for the font type and size being all over the place in this (and other) postings.  The blogger.com folks don't necessarily make changing fonts a seamless process, but hell, it's still free.

Note to a Friend Getting Married

I have a good friend who is getting married today (yes, on Christmas Eve), so I just want to send out some positive karma her way.  Now for the record I've known this person (name withheld to protect the innocent) for something like 10+ years.  I could tell some stories over the years about her...all very good...but I'll just mention one anecdote that speaks to her character.


It was back in October and I was feeling horribly sorry for myself over all these changes in my life that didn't seem to be working out all that well.  The exact details are unimportant, but I just loved one of her reactions.  It was, and I quote, "Steve, stop being such a chicken $hit!".  You simply can't make that kind of stuff up.  


On a more serious note, I truly treasure the people in my life who care enough to deliver the tough message when it is needed.  She is that kind of person.  As she starts a new chapter in her life later today, I want to wish her all the love and happiness that she truly deserves.


As Casey Kasem would say, "...here's your long distance dedication..."



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The New York Times: An Unpaid Debt

An important opinion piece from the New York Times, published this morning.


An Unpaid Debt


I don't subscribe to the "all firemen and all police officers are heroes" stuff, but the first responders who, without blinking an eye rushed to ground zero to save lives are heroes.  The very least this country should do for them is to insure that they receive the medical care they deserve for their acts of heroism.


The United States Senate should get off its collective ass and pass this important piece of legislation.  Politicians like to talk about "honoring heroes" when they are stumping for re-election or posturing for the media, but talk is cheap...healthcare is not.


Worried about how to pay for this?  Let's get the money from the Saudi Arabian government, as they spawned the vast majority of the 9/11 killers.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Road Apples, #85

DATD...I am glad that the United States Senate decided to end institutionalized lying in the military, also known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".  We demand that our soldiers act in a manner that exemplifies the very meaning of the word honor, except of course when it comes to their sexuality, in which case we demand that they basically lie.  If you want to argue that homosexuals should not serve at all in the military then do so but demand that they be banned from military service from the very beginning.  Do it outright, don't demand that these young men and women lie.


Writing...I have been thinking and writing about the year in the review and what I want to accomplish next year.  Heady stuff. Looking back on some of the stuff from September through November has been interesting at best, painful at worst.  Needless to say, 2010 has been an interesting ride.  



Mika Brzezinski...For the record, I just want to note that I watch Morning Joe on MSNBC just for the information.  It's not to watch Mika Brzezinski. Nope.  Not at all.  Not in the least.  Not a chance. Never.


Scranton's Budget...I suspect that the next step in the fiction known as Scranton's budget will be a veto by Mayor Doherty (if it hasn't happened already), followed by an over-ride by City Council.  It's all a wonderful fiction, although from what I've read, the Mayor's budget comes closer to a fiscal reality than the Evans-crafted version, if for no other reason than the fact that the latter relies on juiced revenue numbers.  My take?  Scranton's government is too big and it spends too much money, period.  I want my garbage picked up on time.  I want enough police in uniform to keep my safe.  I want the minimum number of firemen required to respond to emergencies.  I want the bare minimum required number of supervisors/managers/assorted paper pushers.  I want people to pay their taxes and I want no sympathy for those who do not.   


Time Off...I end 2010 with 12.5 untaken vacation days.  Fortunately I can carry them over into 2011; unfortunately I get a ton more to take next year.  In a more perfect world I could cash these things in, but it ain't a perfect world.  I'll just have to plan on taking a bit more time off next year.  Better planning I suppose.


Teen Moms...There is a larger posting in this topic.  I find the whole TLC (I think it is TLC...) Teen Mom show sickening.  Now I actually have watched it, so I can claim some knowledge on the topic.  I know the show attempts to provide a realistic impression of teen pregnancy and parenting, but it's still a television show that is making stars out of people who basically made some really, really bad choices.  Maybe this is the father of three daughters talking, but I find this so disturbing.


Since It's Monday...A fitting tribute (although I personally am going to have a great Monday)...





Saturday, December 18, 2010

Politics, the only "real" sport for men?

True story:  years ago, I was at a Penn State Harrisburg Alumni Society awards dinner, and there some state legislator being honored for some inane reason.  During his acceptance speech, he actually said something along the lines of "politics is the only real sport for men".  I heard that and my jaw dropped.  Livid?  That was an understatement.


What was my thought bubble saying?  It was something along the lines of "buddy, I know some folks in the private sector that have chunks of guys like you in their stool".


Flash forward and I think of that speech every time I see some arrogant politician posturing in the media.  It doesn't matter what level of government they work in, because for that ilk the game is the game, no matter where they play it.  It is as if they get some kind of collective amnesia, forgetting that a politician is, in essence, nothing more than the winner of a popularity contest who then gets to play with my money.  They produce nothing original.  They exist simply to keep the skids of society clear of obstructions and fully greased.  Most of them can't even manage to get the "greasing" part right though, as recent history is full of examples where politicians seem intent on more self than public service.


What do to?  I don't really know.  The person that wins the popularity contest...be it in junior high or Harrisburg...is usually the person with the overly healthy, self-serving ego.  It just seems to come with the territory.  Part of me thinks that term limits are ultimately part of the solution.  That means throwing out some good politicians, but let's be honest:  how many really are all that good?  Seriously, take stock of what we have had in NEPA.  Ray Musto.  Bob Mellow.  Skrep-Daddy.  Should I continue?  The fact is that the acquisition and retention of personal power is now seen as an entitlement of public service.  It has become the equivalent of health insurance.  


Politics is not the only real sport for men.  Scranton City Council President Janet Evans proves that statement is factually wrong every time I see her on television.   What it has become is the only real sport where the winner is predetermined before the game ever begins.  That's because the people playing the game...the politicians themselves...are free to make up the rules as they go along.  

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Introduction to Emily Dickinson

True story:  I was in high school and I had just finished reading the Woody Allen book Without Feathers, so I decided to read the poem that inspired the title.  That was my introduction to Emily Dickinson, and here is that first poem.





"Hope" is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetness - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird 
That keeps so many warm -

I've heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity, 
It asked a crumb - of me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Road Apples, #84

The Weekend...I'd have to describe this past weekend long, although not necessarily bad.  It was very nice spending some time with Katrina.  Parts of Sunday were stressful, but it picked up nicely in the evening.  


New Year's Resolutions...I have resolved to think through all of the things I want to accomplish during the upcoming year in a timely manner.  A resolution to have my resolutions in order before the year begins if you will.  


And So This Is Christmas...I have to figure out what I'm going to do Christmas decoration wise.  I know, time is a-run'n  out on that one, but hey, at least I am thinking about it.  Perhaps some kind of small, 100% man-made materials from China tree deal.  That almost sounds depressing, but in reality it is not: in point of fact I'm probably more "festive" this year than I have been in years past.


Michael Bloomberg...has said categorically that he is not running for President.  That's too bad, as although I don't think he is the best qualified person for the job, I do dig his magazine (Bloomberg BusinessWeek) and he's fairly open-minded when it comes to social issues.  Oh, and he has done a reasonably good job running the most complex governmental entity in the country...outside of Washington DC...namely New York City.


Vacation Days...I have Wednesday afternoon off, which coupled with another day and a half, brings my number of un-used vacation days down to 12.5.  That's far too much, and although I wish my employer would just buy them off me, I can carry them over into next year.  So what does that mean?  Basically that I'll have even more vacation days that I will end up not taking next year.  Can you say "snowballing"?


Bush Tax Cuts...I haven't said too much about the Bush Tax Cuts being extended, basically because there isn't much point to the argument.  It was a forgone conclusion that the tax cuts were going to be extended in some manner; most members of Congress earn more than $250,000 per year and in fact I think most members of the Senate are millionaires.  Self-serving?  Well I don't think that is the primary motivation here, but it does point to something else:  Congress in general (and the U.S. Senate in particular) is not exactly full of people who can really, truly sympathize with what it is like to be in working middle class. 


Bill Clinton...I was watching Bill Clinton during the press conference with the President on Friday (I think it was Friday...) and it was kind of sad in a way, as he looks so gaunt.  I want the McDonalds Cheeseburger Clinton back.  Seeing Bubba getting older is distressing, but then again getting older in general is distressing.


NSA Wiretapping...Show of hands:  anyone out there think that the government is engaging in less snooping on the American people in the Obama administration than it was during the Bush (v 2.0) administration?  Funny, but we really don't talk about that any more. To answer my own question, I'm not sure, mainly because no one in the media is talking about this subject.  There are times when I truly believe that the American people are very poorly served by the media.  It is assumed that President Obama wouldn't be as guilty of this kind of stuff, but how do we know?  We don't, and that's a problem.


Scranton's Budget...I'm still waiting for the miraculous Scranton City Council budget that...


a) Doesn't raise taxes
b) Keeps lots of voting public safety union members employed


...and is somehow balanced by "cutting administration fat".  Call my cynical, but I'm thinking that there isn't enough fat to go around.  More pandering, less leadership.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Top 10 Advantages to Living Alone

For no particular reason and in no particular order.

  1. Shockingly easy to to keep your toilet bowl clean.
  2. Your cat is always glad to see you.
  3. You know who to yell at when clothes are left on the floor.
  4. You don't have to worry about what's for dinner.
  5. You can make your place smell any way you want.
  6. No one complains about unwashed dishes.
  7. You don't have to worry about who ate that last piece of __________ in the refrigerator (mainly because there is mostly nothing in your refrigerator).
  8. Always plenty of hot water for the morning shower.
  9. Lots of storage room.
  10. No complaints about constantly having MSNBC on the television.


    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    Sacred Places

    I had a discussion with someone the other day about "sacred places".  Now I'm not talking about "sacred" as in a religious context, but rather those places in your life that somehow changed you in a very real and very positive way.  These are the places where part of you will always reside. 


    In thinking about what I would consider to be a sacred place, I came up with two:


    Penn State Harrisburg
    This is where I discovered that the world was a bigger place.  It's also where I discovered that I was really capable of growing and changing as a person.  The latter is a lesson that I forgot for many years.  Anyway, every few years I feel compelled to return to the campus, just to soak up the vibe and relive those days in the dorm and my time in Meade Heights.  The campus has changed dramatically over the years, but the vibe is still the same.  I love that place.  I hope to be able, one day, to give something more significant back the university, over and above what I currently give.


    Work
    I was pondering this a few months ago.  Where I work is really sacred to me.  I've spent something like 22 years there, which is almost half my life.  Throughout personal crisis and turmoil, the office has always been this constant, this place that has been predictable and stable (well stable relative to the rest of my life that is); it has been something of a home.  Note that I view work "the place" as being different than work "my employer".  The company that owns the place might change, the people in charge have definitely changed, but the hallways have remained the same.


    Note that I'm not shy in dishing out constructive criticism of my employer, but I always defend the place, as it deserves to be respected.  

    YouTube Weekend

    I'm going to borrow Gort's You Tube Weekend concept and hold it hostage until he returns to the virtual world.


    From Steve Winwood's "comeback" album...


    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Job Hunting Lackawanna County Style

    There was an interesting sub-text in an article that appeared in Monday’s edition of the Scranton Times. You can link to the article HERE. I know, the article itself is just your run-o-the-mill disgruntled employee sues county government kind of thing, but what caught my eye was the fact that the employee in question, after having been released by the office of Ken McDowell, was able to secure another public sector job via Ed Karpovich. What’s so special about that? Well apparently Mr Karpovich filled this position without the need to actually find out if anyone else on planet Earth was better qualified for the (new) position in question.

    This begs the following question: Are you an out of work accountant or accounting clerk? Think you can handle Lackawanna County book keeping? Well too bad. Apparently in county government it’s not necessarily qualifications but contacts that count.

    Now it is entirely possible that the employee in question was the best qualified for his (new) position, but alas, we will never know this for sure, as no one bothered to find out.

    Sarcasm aside, this really bothers me.  ALL OPEN POSITIONS in ANY LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT should be open and available for application by ANY member of the public.  

    Filling an open position with an insider perpetuates the idea that government is run by politicians and bureaucrats who care more about their own power than they do about the public's business.  It is in the public's best interest that county government be staffed with the best qualified individuals who can provide best value to tax payers.  Filling a position without actually determining if anyone was better qualified is simply wrong.

    Note that I'm sympathetic to the plight of the employee in question.  It at least sounds like he got a bad deal while working for Mr. McDowell.  However, while his story is certainly disheartening, I have no way of saying for sure that there isn't someone else out there, equally qualified for this job, with an even more disheartening story.  Mr Kaprovich doesn't know this either...he didn't bother to look.

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    The Day The Music Died

    It was 30 years ago today that John Lennon was assassinated by man named Mark David Chapman outside of his apartment in New York City.  At the time he was 40 years old.


    I'm sure there will be plenty of articles out there today on Lennon and his legacy, so I'll just move past the desire to link to something.  


    As for my thoughts on all of this, I'll be the first to admit that I'm more of a "Beatle Paul" kind of guy, even more so back in 1980.  That noted, over the years I've grown to appreciate just how brilliant John Lennon was, both as an artist and as a person. There was a certain rawness to the guy that could be difficult to listen to; Paul was the light, happy guy...the guy that could write "We Can Work It Out"; John was the one screaming for "Help".  You couldn't ask for a more stark contrast.  The combination was brilliant.


    Over the years I've become more of a Lennon fan, not that I didn't enjoy his work in the past.  I think though to truly enjoy Lennon you sometimes have to feel a certain amount of pain.  Listen to "Mother" and try not to feel the raw, visceral pain in his voice and in the lyric.


    Mother, you had me, but I never had you
    I wanted you, you didn't want me
    So I, I just got to tell you
    Goodbye, goodbye

    Father, you left me, but I never left you
    I needed you, you didn't need me
    So I, I just got to tell you
    Goodbye, goodbye

    Children, don't do what I have done
    I couldn't walk and I tried to run
    So I, I just got to tell you
    Goodbye, goodbye

    Mama don't go
    Daddy come home





    Raw pain on display for the world.  That's genius.


    Where was I when Lennon was assassinated?  At the time I was 16 years old and I didn't hear the news until the next morning while watching Good Morning America.  At the time I remember thinking that this somehow changed things in music.  30 years later I still have that same thought.  Even more frightening?  I'm now 6 years older than Lennon was when he died.  


    I'll end this with my all time favorite John Lennon song, #9 Dream.  "So long ago, was it just a dream?".  As an adult sometimes I think it was.


    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    Elizabeth Edwards, Post Script

    Elizabeth Edwards passed away today at age 61. As I noted yesterday, I always admired how Mrs. Edwards conducted herself in the public arena, despite the challenges thrown her way. In a dirty business like politics, she always seemed to have an air of dignity and class.  


    Rest in Peace Elizabeth Edwards.  

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Elizabeth Edwards



    In a story reported by NBC, Elizabeth Edwards has taken a turn for the worse in her on-going battle with cancer.  You can read the story HERE.

    I've always admired Elizabeth Edwards.  Smart, dedicated to her family, professional and articulate, it's hard to find fault in how she has conducted her life.  Fighting cancer while fighting deeply wounding allegations against her husband is nothing short of monumental.  

    I pray that she and her family find peace in this difficult time.

    God speed Mrs Edwards.


    Feedback

    I received some interesting feedback over the weekend, and being the tightly wrapped kind of guy I am, I'm compelled to respond.  I'll paraphrase what I heard...


    "For an introvert, the guy really puts himself out there"
    That's a very valid comment, and it's not actually something I've thought a lot about.  In thinking about responding two things came to mind:



    1. Introverted Writers - Emily Dickinson would sit in her room and write incessantly about how she was feeling and how she perceived the world around her.  Now her work wasn't published until after her death, but who knows...had she been alive today, maybe all of that work would be appearing on an obscure blog on-line somewhere in cyber-space.  I guess for her the act of writing was somehow therapeutic, and I know it is for me.  Granted her fingernail shavings had more talent than which exists in my entire body, but it's the underlying thought that counts. Anyway, writing in a public forum for me is not an awful lot different than the classroom teaching/facilitation I do professionally in that it allows me to extrovert in a "safe" manner.  In the classroom I can play extrovert and be comforted in the fact that I am in control of the situation and that it eventually ends (and I can then collapse into a blob of introvert gelatin); in writing I can choose what to say and how to say it.  For an introvert, it's all about being able to control how I chose to share.
    2. Subjects - I write about the things I'm interested in at the moment.  If my personal focus is more external, then I write about politics, religion, etc.  When personal issues dominate what I'm thinking, it then spills out here.  I've purposefully tried to write about more external things when I'm in the midst of dealing with some personal issue, but it usually doesn't work out so well.  
    It's all about me I suppose, but that's okay.  We all need some things in our life what are "all about us".


    I also was told that the profile picture I had was not the most flattering, so I've made a change.  Never let it be said that I don't listen...on occasion.  The new picture is probably one of the best I've ever appeared in; the back story is that it was taken in 2004 (when I had much nicer hair) when I was with my girls at the apple orchard.  I loved taking the girls to the farm in the Fall.  Maybe one day (years and years and years from now) I'll have grandchildren to take apple picking.  



    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Blogger Rules, Revisited

    I don't know where the original post is (it is probably buried about 800 deep), but a conversation I had the other day reminded me that I should probably think about my official blogger "rules".  




    What I don't ever write about:


    My employer, by name.  Actually that is more the firm's rule than mine (I am not allowed, for example, to link to my employer's website); besides, if they want a mention here they can pay me for it.  Since some of the people that read this crap actually work where I do, I'm not sure there is much of an advertising future at NCFE.  Note that I do reserve the right to refer to my employer casually/indirectly.  I also reserve the right to be critical of any company or institution, as long as I do it in a respectful manner.


    A significant other.  Whomever or whatever she may be.  Legally that could end up being a plural for a while.  Regardless, I think that anyone who is (or was) personally close to me shouldn't have to worry, ever, about seeing a reference to a conversation or interaction in this space.  I try to be an honorable person, and I have 800+ postings to prove it.  


    Criticisms of friends, co-workers, acquaintances, etc.  If I have an issue with someone about something I'll speak my peace to them face-to-face. 


    Non-public persons.  This is self-explanatory.


    Adult topics.  I struggle saying "crap" on this blog, although I think I may have said 'sh%t' once or twice.  You may be offended by my spelling, grammar, typos, and the like, but I promise to never offend via content.




    Seemingly sensitive things I will write about:


    My children.  Sorry girls, but you are fair game.  One caveat though...I will never be critical of them, ever, in this space.  It's only the good stuff.  How could I not write about the three most important people in my world?


    How I feel.  Since about the beginning of September that has seemed to dominate what I write about, at least from my perspective.  I am sometimes rather circumspect about what I write, but that's to avoid violating some of the rules above.  One must sometimes be creative in the expression of thoughts.  


    Abortion, gay rights, politics, religion, etc.  It's all fair game.  


    Public persons.  If you are a politician, public servant, celebrity or civilian who is a media  attention whore then you are fair game.  

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    Road Apples #83

    DADT...The military prides it self on its soldiers acting with honor and integrity, except if they are Gay, as apparently then lying is okay (and according to John McCain, should be strongly encouraged).  I've never liked this policy.  Let's either say that Gays can't serve (which I believe is wrong) or let's allow them to serve openly.  


    Music...I was creating a audio CD of just a few songs that kind of speak to me...say something about me if you will...but had to limit it to about 15 tracks.  Luckily I forgot that I had "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads saved on my flash drive.  That's a joke, I swear.


    Tax Cuts...Democrats want to extend the Bush era tax cuts to millionaires, but just on the first $250,000 they earn.  Funny, but that isn't well reported in the news, as it requires more than the just typical "them bad, us good" commentary.


    Songs from the Big Chair...by Tears for Fears is one of the greatest albums ever, bar none.  The open track is Shout, and it only gets better from there.


    My Cat...actually does watch TV.  He seems particularly fond of MSNBC and the movie "House Bunny".  There is no accounting for taste...in humans or cats.


    Newsweek...has a great article about John Lennon.  You can read it HERE.

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    War Games Quote

    "A strange game. The only winning move is not to play."


    - Joshua, War Games




    If you've never seen the movie War Games, then I suggest you dig through a discount department store DVD bin and try to find it.  While it's rather dated from a technology perspective (it takes place in 1983, hence cutting edge technology such as dial-up modem is prominently displayed), it's still well worth watching.  


    Now for some reason I woke up with this movie, and specifically this quote running through my head. The "game" referenced by Joshua isn't anything philosophical; rather, it's called Global Thermonuclear War (well that and Tic-Tac-Toe...but you have to watch the movie to understand the comparison).  Deeper meaning at work here?  Not especially, although it is 7:14am and I got about 4 hours worth of sleep, so maybe it's just me being overly tired.


    Great movie though.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Road Apples #82

    Gym Rat....For the record, while I like to exercise, I'm by far and away not a gym rat.  In point of fact my "core" stinks and I have terrible form when it comes to things like weights.  I am the example you should not follow.  But on the plus side, I've found that I can think more clearly when I'm spending time on the elliptical machine.  I also get this feeling of satisfaction for having actually accomplished something when I finish a routine.  There is something inherently positive in something that is good for you mentally and physically.

    Spider-man, The Musical...What's next, "Trash Collection:  The Musical"?  Seriously, have the people on Broadway actually run out of ideas for shows?  I do like to see a good show, but come on this getting ridiculous.  

    Orange Pants...Yes, I am wearing orange pants today.  Well I prefer to think of them as being an aggressive shade of sand.  Actually I have two days worth of staff meetings and I'm thinking that my peers may be doing the whole jeans thing.  I don't like wearing jeans.  I never have.  Most of what I own in the jeans department is too big now, so I end up looking like a 17 year old Bronx resident.  However the orange pants do fit well.

    Best Thing About Living Alone...You can sing the Prince tune Let's Go Crazy really, really loud in the shower.  "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life...".

    Worst Thing About Living Alone...You end up talking to your cat far too much.

    Speaking of Cats...Mine has discovered that when I type, things move on the computer screen.  Any idea how enthralling that is to a 12 week old cat?  I also have to take some better pictures of Jean Luc.  Actually I need to really start to dust off the cameras.  I miss the whole photography thing.  I took no photos this past Fall, and I do love the Fall.

    Type A (but just at Work)...I'm trying to figure our why I am this sometimes charging Type A personality at work, but that seems to shut down in my personal life.  I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that, despite the stresses that come with a job and/or career, the office is this kind of predictable, impersonal environment that I am surprisingly comfortable existing within.  After all these years I would hope that this would be the case.  By way of definition, one's "personal" life is seldom im"personal".  The truly amazing part?  I'm  years old and still trying to figure this stuff out.  I thought that once you reach something like age 30 all of this stuff was supposed to be relatively clear.

    Wiki-Leaks...My only comment on this:  I agree that there needs to be far, far more transparency in government.  The default should always be an assumption of disclosure.  However, I am very wary of leaking gobs of confidential information that might end up causing harm to, say, a government agent or soldier serving his/her country.  A private in Afghanistan isn't involved in the geo-politics of the State Department, so he/she should never end up being up being put in harms way because someone with a web-site wants to make a political statement (example:  a government official in Afghanistan is upset over some Wiki-Leaks comment and as a result passes information to Taliban operatives).  As is the case in most things in life, this is not a black and white issue.