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Saturday, February 26, 2011

English is "gay"

I wonder how non-native English speakers really can learn the language.  English, as a language, is so full of rules and situational definitions for words that I have no clue how someone can learn this stuff.

Case in point, the word "gay", which can mean three different things, depending on the context (well more like two and a half things, but more on that in a moment).

Gay, in a more traditional definition, means "happy".
Use:  We had a gay time while visiting Jim Thorpe in January.
(I actually did, by the way.)

Gay, in a more social definition, refers to someone being a homosexual.
Use:  I support Gay rights.
(I actually do, by the way, stridently.  I say live and let live.)

Gay, in probably the newest definitional use, means "bad"
Use:  Dad, your shirt is so gay.
( I have actually heard this sentence before, repeatedly, from my youngest daugher.)

Note that the third use, "bad", originally was a derivation of the second use, as being homosexual was considered to be "bad". However what's interesting is that many younger folks these days who actually have no problem with homosexuality as a concept or practice (and who readily acknowledge homosexual friends) will use the word to mean "bad".  My three daughters are a case in point.  To me, that creates basically a third definition for gay.

English is so gay.

PS:  You gotta just laugh sometimes folks, as not everything should be taken so seriously.  Oh, and I do have a salmon (or as I call it "aggressive pink") colored polo shirt.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Separated at Birth?

Mitt Romney & Guy Smiley

Pete Wehner on Glenn Beck

From Commentary Magazine dot com.

The Most Disturbing Personality on Cable Television

This is a quick read, but oh so very true.  Glenn Beck is becoming border-line psychotic, ranting about the "global caliphate" and "Obama is the Anti-Christ" crap that used to be mostly the sole property of folks in the dark corners of the Internet (and parts of Montana).

My favorite quote:

"Others see the shadows on the wall; Beck alone sees the men casting them. The danger when one paints the world in such conspiratorial terms is that it devalues the rational side of politics. It encourages a cast of mind that looks to expose enemies rather than to engage in arguments"

Yes, there are loons on the left.  I don't, however, know of someone as loony as Beck who also has a nationally broadcast television show. 

Beck's only real saving grace?  Well I suppose he makes Limbaugh look rational, which is quite a task in and of itself.

My vote?  I think he just plays one on TV.  Remember, Beck is a former "Morning Zoo" DJ.

Yes Glenn, "everybody have fun tonight, everyone Wang Chung tonight".

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Special Request

Special request via "the boys from Wyoming".

For the record he thinks that he is a predator.  I know better.

Road Apples, #92

On This 1945 United States Marines raised a flag on Mt Suribachi in Iwo Jima.  That gave us THIS famous picture.  These days kids talk about "heroes" and more often than not refer to sports figures or entertainers.  Want some real heroes?  Read about the U.S. Marine Corps.

Ubuntu...I've been running Ubuntu 10.04 on this laptop for three days now.  I installed Ubuntu because I had a virus on my Vaio that I just couldn't get rid of, and besides, the thought of re-installing Windows XP for the fourth time just seemed maddening.  What's my verdict so far?
  • laptop boots up in about a third the time as it did with Windows.  Practically light speed.
  • Look...the interface is really, really clean.
  • Intuition...I've found the commands and controls to be exceptionally intuitive.  I was able to easily, without any reading, change some of my key display settings.
All told I am very happy with the switch.  Now I'll note that I haven't tried any of my disc drives and I haven't connected my printer/scanner yet.

Confirmed...Wegmans is the best place to buy fine baking chocolate.  Trust me, I have first hand knowledge of this very fact.  Oh, and I do know chocolate, as it is my favorite vegetable.

Wisconsin...I have been fighting the urge to rant about events in Wisconsin.  Why?  First, I don't consider myself to be a "union guy".  I have never been in a labor union and I never want to be in a labor union (unlike my very conservative younger brother...who hates unions...but who, as a government employee, has always been in a union...but so I digress).   Anyway, my personal feelings aside, I do believe that people should have the right to join a union if they so desire.  That is a separate issue from the economic issues facing state and local governments.  Governmental employees should not have benefit packages that are richer than those in the private sector, but that is separate issue from employee unionization rights.  This especially means that they should contribute to the cost of their own health care (for example, many teachers in the state of New Jersey do not pay a thing for health care).  The notion that a union should be re-certified every year insane.  Why not require that non-union employer have a election every year to confirm that the employees don't want a union?

Perhaps, just perhaps, Governor Walker's actions have more to do with reducing the political power of Democrats than they do with solving the very real budgetary issues facing Wisconsin. 

Bottom line for me:  Governor Walker should separate the economic issues from the union busting. Cloaking one in the other is shady at best, sleazy at worst.

Health Front...My ribs are almost completely mended, although I still get some pain when I move in certain ways.  I have had something of a latent headache over the past week, but I'm not sure if that's from the tons of Advil I've been taking, not taking Vicodin any more or the fact that I lost my glasses a week or so ago.  Getting old stinks.

One Final (but very happy) Note...Yes, happy days are here again, as Beavis and Butthead are returning to MTV.  Story link HERE.  A lot of people who don't like B&B have that opinion because they think the show somehow glorifies the worst of teenage behavior, which is not case.  B&B is a parody of stupid teenagers, and is, in my opinion, incredibly funny.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Iowa HSB 50

There is a pending piece of legislation in the state of Iowa that would, among other things, allow the owners of a business to refuse service to individuals that are in a same-sex marriage. 

You can read a story about it HERE.

Now what's the harm here?  Plenty.  How much of a reach is it from "homosexuals offend my moral sensibilities" to "African Americans offend my moral sensibilities" to "Jews offend my moral sensibilities"?  Hell, what if Christians offend my moral sensibilities? 

What's more, how does one tell that two same-sex individuals are married, as opposed to you and a male buddy going out for a bite to eat?  Maybe there is a some language in the pending statue that would require homosexuals to wear a pink triangle armband?

I suppose the libertarians out there would argue that a business should be free to serve (or not serve) anyone they want.  I actually can understand that argument far better than I can the "offended moral sensibilities" case for this legislation.  Even the libertarian argument falls flat because it eventually leads to some form of de-evolved tribal society where I, as a businessperson, only serves people who are just like me.  Is that the kind of society we really want for ourselves and our children? 

Now just to head this off at the pass I'll make the following comment:  If you are a businessperson and two gay people are "making out" in your establishment you should be able to ask them to leave...just like you should be able to ask a heterosexual couple doing the same thing to leave.  The point?  Judge based on actions and conduct, not some quasi-invisible legal construct like gay marriage.

Don't like gay marriage?  Then don't be gay.  And then don't get married.  

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Notes from the Road, #2

Just a few fleeting thoughts about having done some traveling lately.

Jean Luc's Revenge...Well my cat decided that he would exact some retribution as a result of my absences by basically keeping my up most of the night.  Then again maybe it was me just not being used to my "room mate".  Anyway, last night consisted of about maybe 3-4 hours of sleep, followed by almost constant bed jumping (him, not me) and crying (him, not me).  Good thing I don't like it (sleep that is).  Of course Jean Luc was more than happy to fall asleep in my lap this morning as I was reading the news on-line.  And who says that cats lack a personality?

Speaking of Jean Luc...Here is the tally: litter everywhere shredded roll of paper of towel
...mail scattered to the four winds of my front room
All told, not too bad.

What's Worse Than Getting Up at 4:45am to Catch a Flight?...That would be getting home at 12:pm and then going back into the office for a few hours worth of work.  I'd say that I earned my pay this past week.

Hotel Julien...I normally stay at the Holiday Inn located in downtown Dubuque (Iowa).  This time around, at the suggestion of my boss (I hate the term "boss", but I'm not sure what else I could use) I stayed at the Hotel Julien .  Now I was somewhat apprehensive about staying there, as the place reminds me far too much of the old Hotel Casey, which in my memories consist mainly of decay.  I did, however, have quite the incentive to stay at a new place though:  my still somewhat sore rib cage probably wasn't going to like the slabs that pass for beds at the Holiday Inn.  Anyway, I have to say I was thrilled with the accommodations at the Julien.  My room was very comfortable (especially the bed), and the hotel was in immaculate condition.  Not at all like my memories of the Casey.  To my co-workers who travel to Iowa I highly recommend the Hotel Julien.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lessons Learning on Life Changes

I was going to call this "Lessons Learned", but that implies a past-tense perspective which would not simply not be true.  In fact I'm still learning this stuff, but maybe I've reached a point where I can (somewhat) articulate some basic thoughts.  Anyway, it's "middle-aged getting divorced life changing rumination" time.

I Can Change
I spent so many years doing the same basic things, time and time again, to the point where I had convinced myself that "crappy but predictable" was somehow an acceptable form of existence.  Note:  it is not.  Change is not easy.  Change sucks.  Change is hard.  Change begs to be put off.  Change requires looking at things that you spend years not wanting to look at.  Change is, though, a necessary and proper part of life.

Look In The Mirror
The problem isn't "there" or "with them"; the problem is "me" and "mine".  I am not responsible for the actions, reactions or sensibilities of others.  I am, in fact, only responsible for myself.  Tying this to "change" wanting to improve my life I was looking at others to somehow "change" or "make a change" for me.  This kind of thought is one of the ultimate cop-outs in life. In fact I am responsible for me and my condition.  No one is coming to save me.  The cavalry will not arrive.  But I can work towards saving myself.

Faith, Want & Need
As I have noted before, I am not an overly religious person, but I can honestly say that I have grown to understand the concept of "Faith" much more over the past few months.  What I have specifically learned is that when it comes to the concept of "Faith" you basically have to surrender yourself to the notion that you will not always (if ever) get what you want, but you will ultimately get what you need.

Feeling Matters
For years I had convinced myself that somehow tolerance, acceptance, forgiveness, and guilt where the only emotions that count...that thoughts of anger and disappointment were somehow lessor emotions that deserved to be forcibly relocated to the gulag of life. Note that I'm not talking about walking around in a constant state of "pissed off"; rather, I'm talking about (for example) allowing myself to feel anger when I have been wronged.  In the past I would feel guilty about feeling toxic is that?  I confess to still being uncomfortable with some emotions...including anger...but at least now I don't avoid them like some kind of pox upon my existence.

Journey & Destination
I claim no victories here, but rather I can only claim that somehow I've begun a journey that, while I don't know the ultimate destination, I do know that I will arrive to a better place.  In a sense I already have arrived (because the journey IS the destination).  Perfect? Hell no. But I see a path now, and while I may fall off it from time to time, I know where the path actually is now.

This isn't an end.  I fact I do have my (many) moments of doubt; sometimes those moments are drudged up by the simplest of things.  But you know what?  I am not walking backward.  At worst, my moments of doubt may make me stand still, but walking backward?  Never.

One final thought:  I've been blessed with remarkable advice, support and comfort throughout this process. Yes, in one respect I have to do the heavy lifting in this change, but that doesn't mean I have to go without a spotter or two.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mark Ciavarella

Accused former Luzerne County judge Mark Ciavarella is on trial for, among other things, getting kick-backs after sending kids to privately run jails.  I'm not going to bother to link to any stories on this whole mess, as there is a ton readily available.  Just google "kids for cash".  Anyway, the prosecution just rested its case in the trial, so now we get to hear the defense explain why "the Ciav" (pronounced "the Chiv" by the way) isn't a dirt-bag low-life who shouldn't spend the rest of his life rotting in a hole.

Oh, before I go any further, let's assume Mr Ciavarella is innocent until proven guilty (never mind that he previously tried to cop a plea in this case).  What I am going to postulate about are the basic facts of the case.

This case says a lot about our society and its single biggest love: money.  That reminds me of a quote from Bob Dylan, who once said "money doesn't talk, it swears".  Mr Zimmerman was absolutely right, and this case proves it, in spades no less.

Ponder what is going on here:  this man is accused of sending children to jail, for seemingly minor offenses, in order to line his pockets.  You are a 13 year old boy who does something stupid, hangs out with the wrong crowd, makes the seeming mistake of your life.  I'm not saying you are perfect, but you are not John Dillinger either.  Anyway, your life is forever changed by virtue of the fact that a judge sent you to jail...not to rehabilitate you...not to even punish you...but rather to enrich himself.  

It gets better.  The prosecution in this case has basically relied on tax evasion as a central element in their case.  There have been no children testifying as to how going to jail for something stupid has negatively impacted their lives.  There has been no testimony from devastated parents who saw their children degrade as a result of punishment that did not fit the crime.

No, this case is about money.  Dirty money.  I suppose justice will be served in this case, but the whole sordid affair leaves a dirty taste in my mouth.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Road Apples, #92

On the Road Again...I'm back from a few days in Hartford and am getting ready for a four day stint in Iowa.  As I've noted before, if you want glamor then look for something other than business travel.  On the plus side, my cat only managed to mangle a dish washing sponge while I was away.  Good thing I took the toilet paper off the spool before I left on Wednesday.

Coxton Campaign...I am not one given to conspiracy theories and such, but if a bunch of 20-something people spend thousands of hours putting together an exceptionally well produced video series, the premier for which is attended by hundreds of folks (including many local politicos), then you would think it would be at least referenced by the local newspaper.  Not in Scranton.  I guess the bigger question is why it wasn't covered.  You can read all about this at NEPArtisan, but  I'll add my two cents here:  The Scranton Times has a certain "vision" as to what things like Art, Culture, Business & Entertainment should be in NEPA.  This vision typically involves a certain crowd of folks (think of who you would see at a Scranton Prep parents club meeting or alumni reunion) and certain institutions (Scranton Prep, the University of Scranton, Albright Memorial Library, Everhart Museum).  Anything falling outside of this sphere typically doesn't seem to interest the folks at the Scranton Times.  Fortunately for us, this day and age provides for many, many more ways to disseminate information outside of the editorial decisions of the Scranton Times.

Egypt...Mubarak is out and the extreme right in this country will start crowing about how this will foment Islamic fanaticism.  Wrong.  If anything, blind western support for authoritarian governments does a good job of that, thank you very much.  Now there is a chance that the Muslim Brotherhood will gain traction in a democratically elected government, but so be it.  It is not in our place to decide who should be running Egypt.   The Glenn Beck lunatics and such seem to forget that virtually all of the 9.11 terrorists came from Saudi Arabia (with its extremely authoritarian but U.S. friendly government).  They also forget that Osama Bin Laden is probably hiding out in the wilds of another U.S. friendly country, Pakistani (which also has an authoritarian government).  Do the math here:  we can't control the world.  Let's make sure our security apparatus in this country is well funded and doing it's job instead of trying to engineer governments in other countries.

Ron Paul...has won the CPAC straw pole.  Now I like some of Ron Paul's positions.  I like, even more, his brutal honesty.  But he is just too extreme to get elected president.  That tells you something about extremist political centers in this country.  Whether it's Ron Paul on the right or Ralph Nader on the left, the extremists in this country don't have a lock on the truth, despite the yipping and yelling of their supporters, and they sure as hell don't speak for most of us.  Put another way, winning the CPAC straw pole and $0.75 will get you a copy of tomorrow's Scranton Times (which will not have any references to the Coxton campaign by the way).

Probably NOT a Good Valentine's Day Present...The Bronx Zoo has a unique Valentine's Day gift idea:  for $10 you can name a cockroach in your love's name.  Detail HERE.  Somehow I'm thinking...well, never mind.  No further comments from the peanut gallery.  Do this at your own peril. apparently a great place to work, and I can say with 100% authority that it is the only place in this area where you can get high-quality baking chocolate.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Gizmo Flushes

A reminder to be thankful that my cat hasn't figured this kind of thing out yet.

Lewis Black on Glenn Beck

I saw this on Facebook, courtesy of Justin Vacula.  It's well worth watching...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Notes from the Road

I've been in Hartford this week for a few days, and next week I will spend Tuesday through Friday in Dubuque, Iowa.  I didn't plan back to back trips; in point of fact I actually did plan the Dubuque trip, but the Hartford one just "came up" (i.e. my presence was required by someone else).  Anyway, over these two weeks I'll be away more than I will be home.  No bother, as these days I do count my blessings, what with so many people out of work.  

The above noted, there is nothing glamorous about traveling on business.  In fact it's kind of like being at work 24 hours a day, as I don't normally do anything fun/recreational when I travel on business.  I do tend to eat well, but that also equates to eating too much.  Not a good thing. Then there is the actual travel part of it all.  When I am in Hartford, it's about a 3 and a half hour drive, one way.  That's seven hours round trip, meaning basically a full day just driving.  Put another say, that's equivalent to watching half of all the Star Wars movies.  Dubuque means flights, and this trip that means flights out of Chicago's O'Hare airport.  This is the travel equivalent of playing Russian Roulette with one's time.  Will my flights leave on time?  Will I make my connection?  It it too foggy/snowy/rainy in Dubuque for a landing?  Unfortunately the airport in Dubuque doesn't allow for instrument landings, so the pilot basically has to be able to see the runway.  Do the math on that one.

My favorite Dubuque travel story?  I was sitting in plane in Dubuque, waiting to take off, and the pilot make the following announcement:

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is Captain ______ from the cockpit.  We have a bit of a delay taking off, as there is a pack of wild dogs at the end of the runway, so the ground crew is going to chase them away.  We'll be in the air shortly."

or something like that.  I swear the above is true.

One final note from the road:  there are few things in the world worse than traveling on business while you are sick/physically ill at the same time.  Nothing worse.  I have a bit of that going on this week with my rib injury, but fortunately that malady is on the mend, so at worst I have to put up with some pain from time to time.  That's a hell of a lot better than the times when I've been nauseous or had problems "at the other end" while on the road.  That, folks, really stinks.  Trust me.

Well it's time to wrap this up and get a things done before I'm off to officially start my day.  Enough whining.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bill Kristol & Glenn Beck

Conservative Bill Kristol put the "smack down" on certified nut-bag & former Morning Zoo DJ Glenn Beck the other day.  You can read Mr Kristol's column HERE.  It's worth your time to read this piece if you've ever been amazed that someone like Beck, who I believe is genuinely disturbed in the head, is allowed anywhere near a public forum (let alone get paid to do that sort of thing).  Seriously, the guy is to politics as Art Bell is to hard Science.

My favorite quote from the piece?

"But hysteria is not a sign of health. When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He’s marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.
Nor is it a sign of health when other American conservatives are so fearful of a popular awakening that they side with the dictator against the democrats. Rather, it’s a sign of fearfulness unworthy of Americans, of short-sightedness uncharacteristic of conservatives, of excuse-making for thuggery unworthy of the American conservative tradition."

For the uninitiated, HERE is some additional information on that band-o-idiots called the John Birch Society.  This is a group that believed that FDR was behind the attack on Pear Harbor.

All I can say is "AMEN" Mr Kristol.  For the record you don't often see this kind of public rebuking in politics these days, but when you do, it's more often than not done by Republicans.  Maybe that's because their fringe is more radical/weird than the fringe of the left.  Maybe it's because they simply have more guts than their counterparts on the left.  Regardless, score one for Bill Kristol.

In the "ooops" Department, we have Representative Lee of New York

I saw this on CNN this morning and just had to post it.  Story link HERE.

They guy should resign from Congress mainly because he is a moron.  Seriously, the guy posts a picture like that online and people trust him to help make laws?

I'm sorry, but members of Congress should be barred from anything having to do with Craigslist.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's Raining Again

A seemingly fitting song (link HERE) for today, although it was far too cold for actual rain...

I had to pack for two and a half days in Hartford, I had to pick up the keys for Korin's car, Kate had car trouble, I had to drive to Hartford, I had my annual performance appraisal at 5pm and my back hurt.  Yes, it was a hell of a day.

For the record, the performance appraisal discussion went well and Kate's car had to be towed (which cost me $100).  Beauty!

Here's to hoping for a bit of sunshine tomorrow.

As for now, I am exhausted.  Too much thinking, too much worrying, too much breathing in really cold air (which is really difficult with the bum ribs).  I think it's time for fiber, flossing, brushing and just generally engaging in some good old fashioned sloth.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Non-Post

Sometimes I sit here and think "gee, I'd like to write something", you know, getting that wisp of creative intent.  The problem is that intent and ability (what little I claim to have) are often times two different things.  Case in point:  this is the third time I've started something, with the two proceeding attempts sitting wherever deleted blogger posting go to die.  Maybe three is a charm.

Anyway, I have this mental list of things I actually want two write about.  The list includes such enthralling topics as...

...the role of government in society
...why Glenn Beck is nothing more than a washed up morning zoo DJ who traded top 40 hits for 40 hates
...assessing performance at work
...why I feel guilty (about almost everything)
...why Republicans are sometimes better at self-policing than Democrats

Hell, I even have a few articles laying around in support of this stuff.  But yet here I sit writing about why I'm not writing.  I even feel quasi-guilty about not writing (see above).  Oh well, I guess I can scratch "Huffington Post Columnist" off of my list of potential career choices.

It's been my experience that in life that the most important things are more mental than anything else.  That includes "the muse" as I like to laughingly call my desire to be creative in spurts.  Times like this it feels like I am chasing "the muse" and it is running at the same speed I am, just five feet ahead.  Mind you, other times I can readily grab "the muse" wrestle it down and choke it to death.  Maybe there is just too much crap running through my head at the moment.  Maybe I just need some mental dietary fiber, you know, to clean the old pipes out.

Well so much for the post about not posting.

I'm off to pack for a few days in Hartford.  Maybe I'll find "the muse" standing next to the XL Center.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowel

Well for the first time in a long time I actually watched at least part of the Super Bowl.  Based on that, I learned the following:

  • Heinz the perfect name for a Pittsburgh Steeler.  Okay, I know his name is actually spelled Hines Ward, but still, how perfect is that?
  • Brett no longer the quarterback for the Packers.  Mind you I don't remember the name of the actual current quarterback, but I do know that it is NOT Brett Favre.  I also know that he played a good game.
  • Speaking of Quarterbacks...the QB for the Steelers, "Big Ben", should be re-nicknamed "Big Bum", as the dude just doesn't look like an athlete...he look like some guy who should be moving boxes in a warehouse.  In fact, he reminds me of THIS GUY from The Office.
  • The Peas...What precisely does "the Pea" named Taboo actually do?

On a more serious note, the game did prove the importance of defense in football.  So much for the glory of the quarterback or the wide-receiver; this game was one by a bunch of guys on the Defense who forced Pittsburgh turnovers that allowed the Packers to score.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Road Apples, #91

A Few Days...It's been a few days since I've written anything, with the hiatus being caused by a combination of a sore back (and associated medication that makes me tired) and just generally having a lot of things to do.  Some of that stuff is listed below.  Note though that it only gets worse over the next two weeks, as I have some fairly long company business travel planned.  Ah, the joys of corporate travel, with broken ribs yet.  I need to remember to sit in conference rooms where I can plug in my heating pad.

Coxton Campaign...I was honored to attend the premier of the Coxton Campaign at The Banshee on Friday night.  Great, great stuff.  Kind of reminded me of a political version of The Office.  Anyway, I was honored to be sitting at The Banshee with the mom of NEPA's favorite blogger who also co-wrote the Coxton Campaign.  The fact that a bunch of young men and woman pulled this together in such a professional way says a lot about the caliber of education in this area.  My only negative thought:  it's a shame that talented people like this almost always end up leaving NEPA for greener pastures.  Let's hope that if they do, they also end up coming back a-la Jason Miller (but sans the rampant drunkenness).

College Visits...Speaking of young people (this time my own), I had my final college visit with one of my daughters yesterday, with a trek to Shippensburg University.  The weather was less than ideal (freezing rain, fog, etc.), but I am so glad we made the trip.  My daughter probably isn't going to attend Ship, but I always do enjoy the visits.  It brings back so many memories for me.  Most importantly, it's just great to spend the day with my baby daughter.  Unfortunately I did not pick up a really cool looking "Ship Happens" tee shirt.  Bummer.

Ubuntu...Now that I have my Gateway Netbook back, I'm going to see if I can breathe new life into my Sony Vaio laptop by way of installing Ubuntu 10.04 desktop on the machine, replacing the incredibly virus infected Windows XP that resides on the machine.  Really I'd just like something that I can surf the net with, and I do admit the Vaio's super-sharp & large screen beats the hell out of the netbook's puny display.  How successful this will be is part of the fun of it all I suppose.  More exploration.

SuperBowel...I don't watch much in the way of TV sports, most especially professional football.  I also have no emotional attachment to either team playing in tonight's "big game".  That noted, I will be going to a friend's house to, for all intensive purposes, watch the "big game".  Actually I am mainly going to just eat, but hell, the game will be on in the background anyway.  One of the things I wanted to do differently for 2011 was to try different kinds of food, and tonight will be an opportunity to try something called "Taco Soup".  Rumor has it that Taco Soup is not, in fact, simply a runny version of chilli.  We shall see.

YouTube Weekend...I feel the need for a little Duran Duran.

"LeBon, Simon LeBon"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Get Spam

I suppose big-time bloggers like Tom B. get tons of this stuff, but it only happens to me every once in a while.  In celebration, I'd like to share...

Sean Ryan On Behalf Of CSNPromoTeam

 to me
show details Feb 1 (1 day ago)
Good Afternoon
My name is Sean and I work on the Promotions Team at CSN Stores. I came across your blog recently and wanted to reach out to you for a potential partnership. You may have seen CSN Stores around the blogosphere as we are currently running promotions with a variety of different sites and thought you might be interested in working with us!
With over 200 unique sites, ranging from to, we carry just about everything (including the kitchen sink...).
We would love to help you reward your US and Canadian readers with a CSN gift code giveaway. It's a great way to give back to your loyal followers as well as draw in new audiences! Plus your winner gets to pick exactly what they want from our inventory of over 2 million products! And if you think a review would be a better fit for you and your readers, we could certainly discuss that option as well.
Let me know if this sounds like something you would be interested in and we can discuss the details!
Thanks for your time,

For the record I would just as soon perform self dental surgery than provide this kind of "reward" to my "readers".  Sorry Sean.

Now I'm not anti-commerce.  Hell. unlike my ultra-conservative brother, I actually have worked all my life in the private sector.  My point is that anyone who wants to go shopping can go to Amazon, Meritline, Overstock or many other wonderful on-line commerce sites.  Come here?  Hell no.  I'd just as soon people come here to laugh at me...after all, I did pay the princely sum of $10 (or whatever it was) for this URL.

No way I'm sharing my flashlight-sized spotlight.

Road Apples, #90

Egypt...This is another one of those "history being made" moments happening in Egypt as I type this.  Every freedom loving individual should be thrilled with events in Egypt; the notion that some (mainly n the far, far right) view this uprising with some skepticism says a lot.  As I have noted on a few occasions, if we, as Americans want to claim some moral high ground, then we actually have to act like we have the moral high ground.  Supporting a dictator who has run a country via martial law for 30+ years isn't what I would consider to be "moral".

Pain...Well via a combination of not really paying attention & your basic winter conditions, I managed to slip on some ice Sunday night, fall, and I ended up with a few injured ribs.  This is some seriously painful stuff, worse than just about anything else I've gone through.  It's also the first time I've ever gotten some hard-core pain medication (in my case Vicodin).  While the pain meds work, I don't get the whole addiction...I in less pain, but it doesn't work that good.  As for me, I'm sticking to my usual chocolate addiction.

Dating Policy...Minority Lackawanna County Commissioner A.J. Munchak stated last week that county government needs to augment its ethics policy to include some rules around county employees dating each other.  Seems reasonable to me, although it's important to remember that Mr Munchak has been a Commissioner for something like 8 years now, including one term as a majority commissioner, so if this were such a pressing issue you have to wonder why it wasn't tackled years ago.  Anyway, such a policy is needed. No one should ever be supervising...directly or indirectly...someone they have a personal relationship with, period.  If you are a manager you should not have this kind of relationship with anyone who directly reports to you or someone who reports to someone who reports to you (so by extension, County Commissioners shouldn't be able to have this kind of relationship with anyone working for the county).  If you are not a manager but you are in a position whereby part of your job is to provide feedback on the performance of another (think of a quality control person, auditor, etc.) then there needs to be rules in place whereby no one could be perceived as providing favorable treatment because of a personal relationship. Now I'm not being Draconian about all of this; if you want to date someone who is within your reporting chain of command, then there is a solution:  either you or the person you wish to date need to transfer to another department.  If you are an auditor and you want to date someone who has work that you need to review, simply disclose this fact and don't conduct the audit on the person in question.

Ice Day...My employer actually has a two hour delayed opening today.  That almost never happens, so it must be really, really bad out there.  Since I don't need another accident in my immediate future, I'm going to be ultra careful out there.  Sgt Esterhaus would be proud.

Scranton School Board...NEPArtisan reported Scranton School Board Director Chris Phillips has announced that he will seek another term in office.  You can read the announcement HERE.  I like the job that Chris Phillips has done; on my one and only appearance at a school board meeting this year he was attentive and all business.  However, I will confess that the promotion of his wife to a principal position does leave a bad taste in my mouth.  I am sure that his wife is very well qualified for the position in question, but that's note the point of an anti-nepotism policy.  Such policies exist in part to prevent the appearance of conflicts of interest.  As a member of the body that governs the Scranton School District, Mr Phillips is in a position to influence hiring decisions.  His abstaining from the actual promotion vote is just window dressing, because no one with an IQ above 70 actually believes that the "real" debates and discussions of government always occur in front of the public eye.  Bluntly, the right thing to do here was for either Mr Phillips to resign from the board or his wife voluntarily remove herself from the promotion list.  Since neither happened, voters in Scranton now have to weight this almost blatant act of nepotism against the other work that Mr Phillips has done as a director.  Like most things in life, this situation isn't black-n-white.

Public service in elected office is a privilege, not a right.

No one has a right to public employment.  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Of Disclaimers, "Readership" & Introversion

My employer has further clarified its Social Media policy, and after some thought I'd added the following disclaimer to the blog:


The opinions expressed in NCFE are those of Stephen Albert alone and are not intended to represent the ideas or opinions of any other person, group, or organization

Now I don't think I've ever referenced my employer by name, and I have indirectly referred to it all of, I think, two times over the years.  Regardless, having this kind of disclaimer seems to be a reasonable thing to do.  I know, I am probably caving in to "the Man", but so be it; as I do reserve the right to adjust, refine, and re-look at just about everything I do.

Speaking of the blog as an entity, I have the opportunity to engage in some virtual work this summer that could actually get more people actually read this stuff.  That's actually an interesting thought, as I've honestly never spent any time thinking about such things.  Do I care about that kind of thing (a-la "readership")?  Not really.  As I have said all along, I do this to entertain myself; the fact that someone else may be entertained is something of a side note.  I do, however, enjoy the notion of spurring thought, be it in myself or in others.  If reading something here make someone think about something they otherwise would not have, then I suspect that's not a terrible thing.

"For an introvert, he really put's himself out there"

The above is something of a paraphrased comment from someone who read over some of this stuff a few months ago.  I think the sentiment expressed is actually pretty fascinating.  Yes, I am probably one of the most introverted people anyone would ever meet.  I genuinely dislike things like parties, small-talk, and just general all-around "hob-nobbery".  I am comfortable working alone and I am comfortable being alone for the most part (although I will note that I have no desire to be completely alone for any extended period of time).  For me, the ideal interaction is with just one other person at a time.  As I write this stuff, I never imagine anyone other than myself speaking or listening, making this far more of a monologue than a discussion.  Why do it then?  Well the reasoning is similar to why I acted in a few plays in high school (despite being incredibly shy and awkward) and actually speak to groups of people at work:  I love the notion of "controlled" extroversion.  Being an introvert, I am very uncomfortable in situations where I have to think and act too much on my feet; I always need to "process".  Here I can "put things out there" but do it in a way where I basically get to think about, ponder and choose what goes out onto the page.  Basically I can "act" like an extrovert but do it in an oh-so introverted kind of way.  Best of both worlds.

ABBA: Move On

Another less well known ABBA song that I like. As usual, some of the lyrics are *dopey*, but it's a nice tune.

By the way, this isn't the "original" video for this song, as no such thing actually exists.

Anyway, lyrics aside, I like the positive vibe of the song.

Life does, in fact, flow.