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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Your parents lied to you: monsters are real.

I had wanted to mention this earlier in the week, but it was a busy week.

Former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic was captured last week and awaits extradition to The Hague for a war crimes trial.  Reference link HERE.

I always find it fascinating that many people don't pay much attention to current events.  Even more interesting is the propensity among Americans to pay even less attention (if that's possible) to events that occur "over there".  The whole story of Ratko Mladic is worth your attention, if for just one simple reason:  in this day and age there are still people out there who think nothing of slaughtering thousands of men, women, and children.  Note the words "in this day and age".  What Mladic is accused of doing isn't something that happened in some far off time; Mladic's crimes were committed in the mid-90's.

I could go on and on and on about this, but I'll sum how I feel in two sentences:  Screw presumption of innocence, as there are about 8,000 innocent people where butchered by the monster in human form known as Ratko Mladic.  He is guilty.

Let's hope the trial is short and the sentence is swift.  "Justice" is a relative terms here, as there can be no real justice for what this "thing" has done, but at least a trial might help to bring some closure to a dark, dark period in recent history.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day, 2011


Visit a cemetery.  Thank a veteran.  


Think about how the things you have now are a direct result of some giving so much.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Road Apples, #100

In the Beginning...I began writing this particular blog on October 27, 2008, and my first "Road Apples" was posted on October 30, 2008.  Since then I've posted something like 975 entries, writing most days.  It would make sense to add in a comment about blog hits, but in all honesty I am not all that concerned as to whether 2 or 20 people look at this stuff.  It's never been about that kind of attention.

So Why?...Well if writing this stuff has never been about "attention", then what gives?  Why do it in the first place?  Believe it or not these are questions that I've pondered more than once.  I almost have answers too!  Near as I can figure in the self-analysis department, I do have something of a creative steak inside of me.  That's a good thing.  On the flip side...

...I can't sing well at all
...I can't play any musical instrument
...I can't sketch all that well
...I can't paint to save my life
...I have no talents working with wood, clay, or any other material

...which doesn't exactly leave an awful lot of ventilation left for creative presssure.  The solution?  Why that would be writing.  That's the real "why" here:  I do this because I have some strong desire towards creative self-expression that almost compels me to share thoughts and ideas.  It's probably not all that dissimilar to the sentiment expressed by the incredibly talented singer/songwriter David Gates, who wrote in the song "The Guitar Man"...

"but he never seems to notice
he just has to find another place to play"

For the record I'm not comparing myself to anyone else, especially a super-talented musician.  Instead, I'm saying that I get the urge to creating something out of my thoughts, and that urge really isn't dependent on having an audience.  Bottom line:  I simply like doing this.  Oh, and I have always done this; I have written journals going back to the early 80's to prove it.  Ah, the days of teenage angst.

Controversy?...I've noted that some bloggers like to stir things up, posting about controversial topics in order to generate discussions.  I've actually had people tell me that I should do more of that kind of thing (be controversial) to "create traffic".  Now on some level I suspect that I have posted a thing or two that wrinkled a feather or two, but by and large I don't go out of my way to find things that cheese people off.  Besides, I'm not a "I am right and you are wrong" kind of guy, at least with regard to most things in life.  What you see here is genuinely how I feel about whatever is coming off my head at the moment, unvarnished by the need for much in the way of ego-gratification.

Therapy...In addition to providing a creative outlet for me...the only creative outlet that seems to work for me by the way...writing NCFE has been very therapeutic over the years.  At no time was this more true than during the September/October/November time frame of last year.  My life, both personally and to a lessor extent professionally, was in something of a shambles, and it all seemed to pour out onto the postings. Much of that stuff was written in an almost code-like manner, but it served a noble purpose:  allowing some of the pressure that was building inside to escape, even if it was just for a few moments.  I've had people who have read some of that stuff say that it was very "raw", and I'll not argue the point.  What I will also not do is take any of that down or post-script edit.  There are no "do-overs" in life, and there will be no "do-overs" here either.

Moving Up & On...So where does all of this lead?  Ah, that would would be the very nature of "not ceasing to explore", and for as long as I continue to like doing this...and I have the $10/year to rent the URL...I will continue to do this.  It suites me.  What's amazing is that it has suited me in both the very bad times (for example, October 30, 2010 was a very bad day) and the good days (of which there have been a few lately), which probably means that it is as much a part of me as it is a habit.  I look forward to a point maybe two years from now when I can read some of this again and see the evolution of my life. just as I have seen an evolution from October 2008 to now.

Thank You...In life you never know how truly blessed you are until you hit those trials that bend your very soul.  While I claim no victories, I do claim the obligation to thank a few people who, over the past few weeks/months/years, have had a significant and positive impact on my life.  Now I will indulge in  just a bit of pseudonym BINGO in order to protect the public identities of those who may not wish to be acknowledged in this manner...i.e. on a cheesy Internet blog...but they know who they are anyway.  More importantly, I know who they are anyway.

Thank you to Ms Rivers, the person who figuratively saved my life.  Oh, and she literally saved my life as well by driving my sorry butt to the Emergency Room at Moses Taylor Hospital a few weeks ago.  I don't really know how you properly thank someone who saves you once, let alone a few times, but I am going to continue to work on it for the foreseeable future.

Thank you to my Mom for proving that no matter how old your children get, they are still your children.  Countless times I've had that motherly knock on my door to check on me after I managed to fold, spindle or otherwise mutilate myself (i.e. broken ribs, acute asthma attack, etc.) over the past few months.  My hope as a parent is to be there for my daughters like my mother has been there for me.

Thank you to Ms Mitchell for helping to roto-strip the crap out of my life.  I have met few professionals in my life as competent at what they do as the aforementioned Ms Mitchell.

Thank you to Ms Carey for telling me to stop being a "chicken $hit" back in October.  Anyone can stroke your ego, but a true friend tells you the truth, even when you least want to hear it.

Thank you to my employer & my co-workers for giving me a sense of purpose, especially when things were spinning so out of control.  There is a tendency to think of companies as being big, a-moral entities, but what some forget is that they are really just collections of people.  For the record, the people I work with are some of the brightest and most compassionate on the planet.

Thank you to whatever Higher Power exists out there in the universe.  I know a few folks don't put much credence into the whole God thing, but when I look back at the various twists and turns life sometimes takes, it begins to become clear, at least to me, that "random chance" simply can't explain it all.  In my case, too many things have happened whereby what I wanted wasn't really what I needed, but somehow I did end up getting what I needed, not what I wanted.

Now I know this hasn't exactly been a true "Road Apples" posting, but for the record I did check with the person who makes the NCFE blog rules (me) and he said it was okay to deviate from the formula just a bit.

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog programming.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Cat Free Zone

Today is the day I begin working on the "cat free zone" within my humble abode.  For the record I don't necessarily want a cat free zone, but as I've grown older I have apparently become extremely allergic to cats.

How allergic?

Well according the the testing I underwent, anything greater than 0.1 on whatever scale they use means that there is an allergy to whatever is being tested against.  For example, on my lab results I showed a slight allergy to dogs, with a reading of 1.35.  Anything greater than 4.0 is considered "highly allergic".  My cat result?  45.1.  I think this means that the fluid in my bloodstream consists of red cells, white cells and cat antigens.

Now that I am breathing better (and want to stay that way), my first line of defense against future trips to the Emergency Room is to create a place where I can sleep and not be inhaling cat dander.  That's where the cat-free zone comes into play.  The actual work here breaks down into three parts:

Step 1 - Actually put a door on my bedroom.
Right now I don't have a door going into my bedroom, which makes for a mighty ineffective cat free zone.

Step 2 - Throughly clean the bedroom.
I have a rug shampooer on loan from my brother that I'll use as part of the "cat dander removal" phase of the project.  I'll also vacuum every single square inch of the place, from floor to ceiling.

Step 3 - Get an air cleaner/purifier.
I may not actually do this until the Fall.  From my limited experience over the past two weeks, my breathing is actually better when there is fresh air flowing, so during the warmer months having the windows open and the air flowing seems to be helpful.  Once it gets colder and I end up closing windows, I will need something to clean the air.

I'm sure that my cat, Jean Luc, will be unimpressed by all of fact, the whole door thing may really cheese him off.  Given the alternative recommended by my doctor..."get rid of the cat"...I'm thinking he is actually making out rather well in this arrangement.  Besides he will still have the run of the place, well except for my bedroom.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


"Dichotomy" is one of those words that I like to throw into a sentence every now and then.  Why?  Well for starters it's simply a cool word.  It also expresses a complex thought, namely a subdivision into two exclusive or opposing parts.  Sometimes, I think, the world needs a few complex thoughts thrown into the mix.  There is too much mental "fast food" out there for my tastes.

Dichotomy is also a good word to describe my day today.

On one hand we had some not-too-pleasant events occur at work, the kind of stuff that gives you pause and just generally adds a toxin to your day.  No details here, as I don't want to disrespect those who are directly impacted, but suffice to say people were not happy.  I was not happy.

On the other hand my youngest daughter, Rebecca, participated in her senior National Honor Society program at school.  Just about the opposite of toxic, at least for me.  It reminded me of how wonderfully blessed I have been to have smart, polite, and generally all-around great daughters.  They make me very proud.

Dichotomy indeed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Labor Board: It's official, a cop can arrest someone

According to a ruling by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, Scranton's chief police officer, Dan Duffy, can in fact arrest people.  This is contrary to the wishes of some members of the Fraternal Order of Police, who in fact didn't want this particular police officer to a police officer.

Yes, you read that right:  a cop is allowed to arrest someone.  Go figure.

If you can tolerate the subscription notice, an article from the Scranton Times can be found HERE.

Score one for common sense and against union thug tactics.  Oh, and a big ^5 for Scranton's outstanding Chief of Police, Dan Duffy.

The End of the World will be least until October

Apparently Harold "Ruptured Rapture Dreams" Camping has figured out that the rapture did...well sort of...begin last Saturday. Now in order to explain the lack of 200 million people suddenly disappearing, Mr Camping has concocted the idea that May 21 was a "spiritual" rapture.

Reference to all this nonsense HERE.

Now I feel like a 14 year at the beginning of trout season thinking "gee, just where could I go first?". I mean there are just so many ways this could go in terms of thought and comment.  Since I'm feeling very good this morning, I'll keep it simple and brief:  my gut is that Harold Camping sincerely believes in what he spews, but the problem is that he's trying to make others sincerely believe that as well.  I applaud anyone who had a decent amount of faith, but a loathe anyone who screws with the lives of others simply because "god told me".

God told me that Thomas' English muffins are evil.  Does that mean there are people out there who will now (if I had the charisma of an 89 year old man) all of a sudden be casting all of their English muffins from the fire of the toaster into a raging bonfire?  That very action may in fact impede the "nooks and crannies" action of the muffins.  Anyway, I suspect that some people would in fact sacrifice their muffins for the greater glory of "god".

The above incredibly stupid example does beg the underlying question though:  is this madness really all the "fault" of the Harold Camping's of this world, or is the "fault" really one of society as a whole?  If you have never seen Mr Camping, (HERE is a picture) you pretty much know that there is nothing physically compelling about the guy.  In fact he looks like he could go the way of the rapture any moment now.  So what?  Well maybe...just maybe...we have a classic example of personal responsibility at work.  Yes, I do think that in a more prefect world Mr Camping would:

a) Admit his error
b) Try to make his followers "whole" again to the extent he can financially

...but we know this will not happen.  These folks CHOSE to believe that the world was going to end on Saturday (or in October...or...whenever), so to a very great extent they now have to deal with the aftermath.  And they are.  Let's just hope though that whatever Higher Power does exist out there can, at least for some with an open heart, touch the lives of those impacted in order to turn this whole farce into something positive.

In life you make choices. I've made choices.  Some have been very good.  Some have been very bad.  Mostly though, I try to learn from my choices.  The fact that some around me (or in the world at large, such as Harold Camping) seem unable to learn from their choices is saddening, but yet it does remind me all the more that my choices are my responsibility.

In the end, I am not sure that God is in the business of protecting us from ourselves.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Road Apples, #99.9*

(*) I actually want to do something different for my "100th" Road Apples, but alas, there are too many random thoughts running through my head to pull that one off.  As a result I'll simply cheat by forestalling the 100th post for a few more days via an accounting trick.  Hey, I took Accounting in college....Accounting 1 & 2 to be the same time.

Our World Doesn't End, but Harold Camping's Does...I've been looking through articles to see if Harold "Ruptured Rapture Dreams" Camping was going to make a statement about the end of the world going el-busto.  Near as I can determine, Mr Camping (he isn't actually a Reverend of any sort) will be making a statement today (Monday) to the International Business Times.  There is a great article on what he should say in the statement HERE.   I particularly like the author's assertion that Mr Camping should work to restore the lives, livelihoods and relationships of those he duped into following prediction.

Best line that I heard on this?  The Rev. David Rivers from Philadelphia asking his congregation at the beginning of services "Is everybody here?".  I had to smile at that one.

TLC...For some insane reason I have been watching more of the cable channel TLC during those few times when I actually do watch TV.  It's an odd mix, to say the least.  You have your assorted shows about dwarfs, breeders, polygamists, sexual oddities and such.  Think a real cornucopia of freakishness.  Two low-lites:

  • Pawn Queens (media review HERE) - This show is about a female-oriented Pawn Shop.  It also is,  quite possibly, the worst television show I have ever seen in my entire life.  Of any genre. Period.  Now I actually have seen the show "Pawn Stars" on the Hilter (I mean History) channel, but the only thing the two shows have in common is the word "Pawn" in their titles.  Sexist?  Nahhhh...the show is just really, really terrible.
  • Sister Wives (like HERE) - Polygamy on display. This is actually pretty compelling to watch, but as I'm paying half attention to it something gnaws at me...darn...what could it be?  Oh, I remember...what they are doing is ILLEGAL!  Yes, polygamy is against the law, and yet here is a TV show about people breaking the law, in a rather open way to boot.  Based on this precedent, how about a family of Crank Dealers next?  Maybe a show about some wacky illegal immigrant smugglers "just trying to say under the radar"?  Anyway, let be bottom line the premise of this whole polygamy thing for you: This guy is a major horn-doggie and he wants to have intimate relationships with many different he uses god (lower case on purpose) as an excuse to "marry" a few wives.  Horn-doggy-ness satisfied, Oh, but wait, polygamy is still against the law.
Speaking of horn doggy-ness, we also have a show about breeders on TLC (HERE), but at least this patriarch has found a way to indulge himself while not violating federal law.

Philadelphia Orchestra...I attended a performance of the Philadelphia Orchestra yesterday at the Kimmel Center in downtown Philadelphia.  On the bill were selections from Stravinsky and Beethoven (Symphony No. 9 in D minor...).  I didn't grow up listening to classical music, but you have to expand your horizons in life or I suspect your old ones will simply come crashing down upon you.  It was a good time with great company.

Wheezy Department...My breathing is improving as the days past, and last Thursday's half day stay at Scranton's Hotel Moses Taylor Hospital is fading into a memory.  Much blood-work has been done, and with the skill of my doctor noted, I'm scheduled for an appointment for Friday morning to get some results.  Maybe I will simply have a a bad case of seasonal allergies that caused an infection that caused the asthma. Maybe I have an allergy to bad doomsday prophets.  Maybe I have a mushroom garden growing my my lungs.  Who knows.  All I do know is that THIS WEEZY is far more fun than THIS WHEEZY.

Strange Bedfellows...It seems that the word is out throughout the political and media landscape that Corey O'Brien and Jim Wansacz have created a typical "political marriage of convenience".  Mark my words:  united campaign.  These guys are cut from the same cloth using the same shears.  The only thing not interchangeable about them is Corey O'Brien's law degree.  The next 4 years of governance in Lackawanna County are going to feature NOTHING new.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

End of World Update: Randy "Macho Man" Savage

There are reports that today's pending Rapture was actually prevented by the death of professional wrestler Randy "Macho Man" Savage.  While matters like this are impossible to actually prove, the premise seems about as sound and logical as the rest of this whole sorted mess.

Credit to United Atheists Front ( for the graphic.

"Ooooohhhh Yeahhhhhh!"

It's Official: The World is NOT Ending

Apparently the earthquakes that were supposed to start in New Zealand and then Australia have failed to materialize, so perhaps my BMW looting shopping plans have to be put on hold.

To all those who had planned on this occurring, well I have a bit of advice:

Cheer up, it's not like it's the end of the world!

I think a word from the late Mr . George Harrison is order for this fine occasion.

Friday, May 20, 2011

From the Dalai Lama

"Love, compassion and concern for others are real sources of happiness. 

If you have these in abundance, you will not be disturbed even by the most uncomfortable circumstances. 

If you nurse hatred, however, you will not be happy even in the lap of luxury.

Thus, if we really want happiness, we must widen the sphere of love. 

This is both religious thinking and basic common sense."

Corey O'Brien on Jim Wansacz

From the "strange bedfellows" department, received about two weeks or so ago in the mail.


"No wonder Jim Wansacz is smiling...
He brought home everything but the kitchen sink.

  • Organized an voted for the infamous midnight payraise
  • Took home a massive 50% pension increase
  • Pocketed hundreds of thousands in taxpayer funded per diems
  • Bought a home in Harrisburg and still collected tax dollars for lodging
  • Free health care for life, at your expense
  • Delivered over $1 million to a local company that then hired him immediately after leaving office
...and he never authored a single bill that became law.

Don't give Wansacz another handout.


Damn, I should have saved one of the anti-O'Brien pieces that Wansacz put out during the campaign.  Maybe there is one laying around here somewhere...

Anyway, what's the point of bringing this up?  Simple:  Anyone who votes for either O'Brien or Wansacz is being played for a fool.  These guys are more interested in personal ambition than anything else.  They slammed each other mercilessly during the primary, but look for it to get "all warm and fuzzy" as the general election rolls out.  Any distaste they have for each other will be replaced by a stronger quest for publicly acquired personal power.  O'Brien and Wansacz have, after all, strong name recognition.

To play this out just a bit more, want to know why NEPA spawned such political "legends" as...

...Joe McDade (investigated by the U.S. House of Representatives)
...Dan Flood (suddenly gets senile as the paper trail draws closer)
...Bob Mellow (serving of Boards of industries he had a role in regulating; under indictment)
...Mark Ciavarella & Michael Conahan (juvenile justice gone insane in Luzerne County)
...Paul Kanjorski (steering federal money to family member business)

...?  For me, I strongly believe that it's voting based solely on this notion of name recognition and ethnicity, a pattern long-too established in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  Quite frankly we should be better than this, and perhaps the near primary victory of Liz Randol is proof that change may be around the corner.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Election Musings

Just a few quick thoughts, seeing as though it's nearly midnight and the cough medicine/steroid combination is about to kick into high-gear at any moment.

(Side note...I've woken up at 5:20am on Thursday to add a coherent...hopefully...thought or two.)

Lackawanna County Commissioners
Is there anyone out there who actually, seriously believes that Corey O'Brien is ANY different than Jim Wansacz?  Seriously folks, I think they basically even have the same hair.  Two relatively young, photogenic, well-spoken and politically ambitious Democrats.  Interchangeable folks, interchangeable.  What's more, this is a truly balanced ticket for Lackawanna County:  an Irishman and a Slovak (as opposed to the other Slovak/Irishman or Irishman/Italian tickets).  For the record I'm not sure what nationality the last name "Randol" is...

By the way, the very notion that, in 2011, some folks actually do pay attention to nationality (we are all Americans anyway) makes me want to toss my cookies.

Speaking of Randol & in the good news department, Liz Randol ran an outstanding campaign and came in a close third on the Democrat side of the isle.  Kudos to her, and I do hope that she runs for another county-wide office.  Hell, maybe she can run for Mayor of Scranton one day.

As for the Republicans, well, yawn.

Luzerne County Judges
I am generally speaking not into the whole Wilkes-Borough political scene, and besides that's what Gort and Mark Cour do so well anyway.  My only comment is this:  how could the voters down in "da gulch" NOT elect a judge with a name like Vito DeLuca?

Lackawanna County Controller
A carbon rod should have been able to defeat incumbent Lackawanna County Controller Ken McDowell, and Gary DiBileo was up to the challenge.  Without getting into too many details, soon-to-be-former Controller McDowell had a prior tenure as county tax collector where there were some issues with lost money.  Maybe a second term as Controller wasn't in the cards.  Hell, he shouldn't have had a first term in the first place (I know, I used "first" twice in that last sentence, but too bad...).  In fairness to Mr DiBileo, he does bring a lot to the Controller job...he genuinely has a sense of constituent service from his days on the school board and (gulp) Scranton City Council...he is a top-notch insurance agent who really does know financial stuff...and he is not Ken McDowell.  Maybe for one of the few times in his political life Gary DiBileo was at the right place at the right time.  "Winning!" for both Gary & county residents.

Scranton School Board
I actually am saddened that Tom Borthwick, English teacher extraordinaire, blogger and son of Mary didn't win a seat on the Scranton School Board.  In my own peanut head I can attribute this to possible two reasons:
  • Wrong last name...perhaps Tom should have changed his last name to "O'Borthwick"?  (see ethnic comment, above)
  • Qualifications...he actually has, and that is sometimes considered "elitist" in these parts.

Anyway, I hope he runs again.  As I have noted before, the board needs more people who don't look like me...namely white/middle aged/etc.

In any event, what's done is done, and we should all be thankful to every candidate (even Ken McDowell) who took time out of their lives to run for public office.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Bloggers shouldn't tell anyone who to vote for, but then again party "bosses" do that all the time anyway via "endorsed slate of candidates", so what the I go.

I just wanted to encourage anyone who may be undecided for local races to consider two specific candidates.

Scranton School District:  Tom Borthwick
Tom is a young, passionate teacher who cares to the depths of his very being about educating students.  His fire and passion don't revolve around aspiring to higher office (as is the case for many school board directors, both now and in the past), but simply to improve education.  It's time also to get break the SSD mold of "middle-aged, white, Irish lawyers named O'Malley (or such)".  Tom is creative, energetic and basically a hell of a hard worker.  The Scranton School District needs him.

Lackawanna County Commissioner: Liz Randol
I absolutely, 100% guarantee you that O'Brien, Jeffers and Wansacz are all basically the same political head simply stuffed in different bodies.  NOTHING will change if you elect any of these folks, GUARANTEED.   It's time to actually bring someone into office who isn't just another middle-aged white guy looking for a stepping stone to higher office.  I've never met Ms Randol, but I think she's run an informative, inspiring campaign that truly breaks from the "county politics as usual" crap that was on display when, for example, Attorney O'Brien picked a running mate based solely on her last name and geographic location.  You can link to her site HERE.

Now consider the source of these "endorsements" for what it is worth.  However, if you are truly undecided, consider taking a chance and vote for Tom Borthwick and Liz Randol.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The World Is Ending...Next Saturday (May 21, 2011)...

...or so says Preacher Harold Camping (reference HERE).

I actually saw some of these folks while attending the Philadelphia Flower Show in March.

Anyone have special plans for the big day?  I have to get some blood work done that morning, and experiencing the Rapture on an empty stomach sounds unappealing.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Road Apples, #99

The Week that Was...Well I moved my oldest daughter back home after graduating from college, had a great lunch with my Senior Vice President at work and had to be taken to the emergency room at Moses Taylor Hospital on Thursday because of a severe asthma attack.  Oh, and I was just diagnosed with asthma on Monday. It was an interesting week.

Speaking of Moving...I split my daughter's belongings between my house and the house of her mother, with me taking much of the non-clothing stuff.  Since returning I've been organizing it into storage tubs by type of object.  My hope?  When she does find a place of her own it will be easier to set things up.  Plus I'm always up for some organizing.  In some bizarre way organizing things makes me feel somehow content.  Think "order in my world".

Election Day is this Tuesday...I really try to not do too much political stuff, as it is all so over-powering at times.  So many angles, so much noodling of the facts, so much gutless guile.  That noted, there are two candidates out there that I actually quasi-excite me.  More to come, hopefully, pending motivation.

Facebook Follies...At what point in time do you look at your Facebook profile and ask "why is that person on my friend list?  I've never met them".  One of these days of these days...

Dog Heroes...From what I read, one of the real heroes of the Bin Laden ticket to Hell was a special ops dog.  Fascinating stuff.  You can read more HERE.  I'm not really a dog kind of guy, but these critters are impressive.

**Wow, I just noted that these individual Road Apples are mighty short.  Just like my ability to take a deep breath.**

Road Apples #100...My next Road Apple posting will be #100.  What to do?  What to do?  Actually I do have an idea or two in mind.

TLC...the network, has a show called "Sister Wives".  Apparently they haven't gotten the word that bigamy is against the law.  Oh, and it is also against the tenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day much for the Mormon angle.  On a more positive note, none of the wives look like Snookie.

Paradigm Shift...As I noted the other day, on Thursday morning someone put their morning on hold to help take care of me.  Mind blowing really when I think about it.  You see that's not my paradigm in life...I am the one who takes care of people...people don't take care of me. I'm grateful not just for the greater lesson about adversity (hell, I've had a few of those over the past few months), but more importantly for the simple fact that someone really, truly cared enough to put me first.  That's about one of the best blessings one can experience in life and based on that I am already ahead of the game.  To my benefactor I can only say "thank you" in so many ways using the written word.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

This may be spew, but at least it's MY spew.

First, kudo's to the author of the blog Another Monkey for making the "find" I am about to reference public. He also took the time to cross-post information on this discovery on the NEPA Blogs site as well.  Getting myself listed on NEPA Blogs was important to me years ago, as it really is "the" listing of blogs for the area, and it's a site that I frequently visit when I am looking for new and interesting things to read on-line.  In fact, almost all of the blogs you see listed on my blog roll came from references on NEPA Blogs.

Second, and to the point at hand, it seems that there is a site...I will not reference the site by name, as to not provide further publicity (besides, you can find out all about it by clicking HERE to Another Monkey's posting on the topic)...publishing the postings of local blogs without expressly asking permission to do so.  What's more, they are copying and pasting the postings into their site without redirecting to the blogs of the original authors.  To the former charge, I admit making that mistake myself, once, but was kindly reminded that it wasn't all that Kosher by an editor of the Scranton Times.  Point well taken.  To the latter point, that's a big problem for those blog authors who rely on advertising that is based on site hits.  For the record I do have any advertisements on this site, chiefly for two reasons:

1.  I don't get enough hits anyway.
2.  I never want to be seen advocating for a particular person, product or service unless I personally use it.

However if I did, having my stuff reproduced off my URL would really cheese me off.  How cheesed off? Well think of your average attendee at a hip-hop concert being forced to wear a well-fitting belt and you will begin to get my drift.

Third, it all comes down to this:  what I write here is my spew.  It belongs to me and I should be the one who decides where it goes and how it is referenced.  What I am referring to is far different than, say, being inspired by another person's work.  I freely admit that I have gotten ideas about things such as topics and writing style from other blogs.  I also have seen ideas of mine creep up on other blogs as well (I will not mention any specifics because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery), and I'm perfectly fine with premise that blogging is something of an open community.  "Open Community" however isn't a catch phrase for "reproducing without permission".

Finally, where to go from here with this issue? Well it seems that the folks at NEPA Blogs will not be letting this one go, so I will continue to follow the investigation as it unfolds.  The site administrators of NEPA Blogs can feel free to contact me if there is a need for a newly asthmatic, lunk-headed Kraut in this investigation.  Otherwise I think I will start brushing up on my copyright law.  I've had a circular from the U.S. Copyright Office sitting here at my desk for a while, so maybe it's time to start bending a few pages.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I love this site...

The Year Of Living Dangerously Continues

It started out a few months ago with what I thought was some minor wheezing when I would breathe deeply.  No big deal.  More an annoyance than anything else I suppose. A regular blood pressure check with Dr McKenna (the blood pressure was basically okay by the way) showed that the wheezing had gotten worse, and the cause, most likely, was none other than Jean Luc Albert, my cat.  As I told Dr. McKenna during the visit, "The cat stay.  I like him.  He keeps me company.".  Put another way, if I am truly allergic to cats (I had three in the place I previously lived at by the way), then I will just find a way to deal with it.

Flash forward to this Tuesday and I began to develop what I thought I thought was either a cold or some seasonal allergies. Again, no big deal.  Wednesday comes along, and I being to slow down dramatically.  Having trouble taking deep breaths, congestion, etc.  I don't sleep well Wednesday night.

It's Thursday morning and I get a text message from a friend asking me how I was feeling.  I explain that I'm having some real shortness of breath, etc., and their immediate response is "Steve, you need to see the doctor NOW".  Now being the lunk-headed Kraut that I am, I did engage in some vacillation, but I did end up calling the Geisinger Tele-A-Nurse service.  After answering what seemed to be far too many demographic questions, the verdict came down:  My best course of action was to get to an Emergency Room, stat.

Fortunately, the person that texted me earlier in the morning was able to leave work and come to take me to the Moses Taylor Emergency Room, where I was promptly brought back to a room.  I will say that I received great care from the Nurse Practicioner Mike, MaryBeth the nurse and Dr. Ravi.  Tests were run, including some heart stuff, chest x-rays and many asthma treatments.  After a few hours my blood oxygen level improved to the point where I probably wasn't in danger of blacking out any time soon, so I was discharged.  Post-script orders included staying inside, avoiding smokey bars (that one is easy) and three days off of work (I will settle for one).  Oh, and an antibiotic to treat a bronchial infection and some steriods to fend off any short-term relapses of the asthma crisis.

The cause of all of this?  Well it could be that I got some kind of sinus/bronchial infection that set off my newly discovered asthma in a bad, bad way.  Regardless, this was scary stuff.  There are few things worse than trying to take a breath but simply not being able to do so.  The idea of intentionally doing something like this to yourself...think Emphysema caused by just simply nuts.  Please, if you smoke, try to stop.

In the end I continue to be blessed.  I my heart and lungs are working great.  My blood pressure at the hospital was a respectable 138/82, and I have someone who cared enough about me to take a morning off of work to take me to the hospital and make sure I was okay.  I'm on the road to recovery and breathing more or less okay. This whole asthma thing isn't all that great, but the good far outweighs the bad.

Yes, I continue to enjoy every sandwich.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I am a spring...

...yes I can be squeezed, but the harder I am pressed down, the stronger I will bounce back.

(I don't know why I was thinking that, but oh well, I did pay for this URL.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Local Blog Observations

File this one under the Blogger Geek category.

I do spend some time reading local blogs, and to that end I wanted to point out two observations:

Observation 1 - James Rising...I think he is/was a radio guy, but I have to confess that I don't listen to all that much radio these days...has a terrific blog that you can find HERE.  It reminds me of Andy Palumbo's blog (HERE).

I have a tendency to write in long, multi-thought sentences.  Blogs by guys like Rising and Palumbo remind me that shorter, more succinct sentences are almost always better for this medium.

Observation 2 - There is a very popular local blog called The Lu Lac Political Letter that is written by a veteran area media & news guy named David Yonki.  I believe that the intent of the blog is to cover politics and Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.  You can link to the blog HERE. I met Mr Yonki at a prior "Blogfest" and he seems like a wonderful guy.  Anyway, before all "dem Haynas" out there getting their collective panties in a twist I want to preface what I am about to say with the following...IT IS AN OBSERVATION NOT A CRITICISM...okay?  (taking a deep breath here) There is an almost complete absence of any "Lac" and it is almost entirely all "Lu".  That's okay, but the bottom line is that the blog really is one that just covers Luzerne County politics.  I did once find a reference to Lackawanna County (the prison, specifically) in November of last year, but the references are otherwise few and far between.  Maybe it should be called "Lu and Occasionally Lac" or "Lu and Lac of Lac" or something similar.  Maybe the "Hayna Gulch Political Letter".  Don't get me wrong, as I actually like reading the blog.  It's just that it really does cover politics in  the Greater Wilkes-Barre area (also known as Luzerne County) and not really anywhere else to the same degree.

Now will I rectify observation #2 by writing a "Lac of Lu Political Letter" (Get it?  It would cover almost all Lackawana County stuff, hence "Lac of Lu"...anyway, I thought it was cute).  Hell no!  It true "Spirit of the Internet" fashion I will simply be part of the problem, not part of the solution.  Put another way, I have absolutely no desire to write about politics with any degree of frequency outside of what strikes my fancy at any given moment.  I'm like that, given my stated attention span of roughly 5 minutes.

Now I can see the fan mail now.  So as a service, I'm going to respond to criticisms of what I've noted above in advance.

Criticism 1 - How dare you criticize that blog!  He's been writing it for a long time.
Response 1 - I'm not criticizing anything.  I'm simply pointing something out.  I haven't said that just covering politics in Luzerne County is bad; I've simply stated that the blog really doesn't cover politics in Lackawanna County, and as a result it maybe slightly mis-named.

Criticism 2 - You haven't earned the right to criticize that blog.
Response 2 - This isn't sixteenth century Europe, and as a result there are no prerequisites required for providing feedback in this day and age.  I don't follow anyone 16 feet behind (literally or figuratively).  What's more, I don't give a squirrel's nut if some one had a blog or message board back in the early 90's or whatever other trivia may be thrown my way and as a result is somehow beyond the occasional piece of constructive feedback.

Criticism 3 - Well if you don't like this, then write one of your own!
Response 3 - No.  See above.

Criticism 4 - You suck, your blog sucks and you can't write to save your life.
Response 4 - (1) Only when drinking out of a straw. (2) Tell me why if you like or, conversely, simply don't read it then. (3) You obviously have mistaken me for someone who actually claims to be a good writer.  I readily confess to being hack when it comes to this stuff.  I revel in my amateur status.  It is my red badge of courage.  Next.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Harvest Moon

There isn't a harvest moon outside tonight, but for some reason (perhaps the thought of having a college graduate daughter now) this song has been playing in my head most of the evening.

I didn't pick a video of the song with any real visuals, as the music here is just so beautiful that it doesn't really need anything else.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Response to Justin Vacula's Comment

I started to type a response to Justin Vacula's comment (on my last posting) of...

1 Reactions:

Justin Vacula said...
What was Corbett up to now? :O

...but it got to the point where my comment was growing in length, so since I never lose the opportunity to create more content, I'm converting it into a posting.

Here you go:

Well at first it was "maybe he isn't really dead, so I need proof", then it morphed into "he was assassinated", whining that he should have been brought to trail. Excuse me, you don't "assassinate" a mass murderer like this.  You don't "bring to trail" a monster that has killed so many people.  bin Laden was sentenced the moment he proclaimed responsibility for the 9.11 attack (and the bombing in Kenya, and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole).  A trial would only serve to promote his agenda and ultimate martyrdom in the eyes of his sick followers.

"Assassinated"?  Assassinated my sour Kraut ass!  John Lennon was assassinated.  bin Laded was killed in the same way that a rabid dog running through a neighborhood  would be put down.  The only difference is that I'd have some compassion for the dog, as it didn't consciously decided to catch Rabies.

What upsets me the most though?  It's the stupid Haynas that call him who are incapable of actually holding a conversation with the guy.  He (Steve Corbett) basically just talks over them and most are, by and large, too stupid to argue with the guy point for point.  They also fail to understand that Steve Corbett ISN'T a "newsguy"...he isn't a "journalist"...he is a guy who simply acts controversial in order to garner RATINGS.

"Newsguy"?  No, Steve Corbett is a business person.  His radio show exists to garner advertising dollars for WILK.  He is not in the business of performing a public service.  That's it.  Nonsense like going from supporting uber-liberal Hillary Clinton to supporting uber-conservative Sarah Palin is proof enough that it's all "look at me, I'm so controversial" nonsense designed to impress advertisers with high ratings.  Steve Corbett's radio show is, in effect, the audio equivalent of roadkill.

The above noted, would I ever call Steve Corbett's show?  Of course not!  This is a guy who, the moment he senses that the discussion is not going his way, can magically just go to commercial, tap "Rusty Fender" for a traffic update or simply mute your audio.  When you talk to someone like him on his show, you basically go into the discussion with a tremendous disadvantage.  Why do it?  Unlike Steve Corbett, my ego doesn't require frequent stoking and/or validation via arguing with, for example, an 80 year old woman who keeps confusing "Osama" with "Obama".

One final point:  I have issues with what Steve Corbett proclaims on his job, not with Steve Corbett as a human being.  For all I know he is a great guy who is witty, charming and filled with common sense (unlike the pro-choice Hillary Clinton supporter who supported Sarah Palin).  My point is that when he goes to work he turns on AN ACT that I personally find repugnant the vast majority of the time.

Oh, and no, I do not listen to Steve Corbett very often at all.  That would be "feeding the monster". I will once in a while turn on WILK when I need a good laugh or when I am in the gym and need something to motivate me to get out that last sit-up.  A little anger can be very motivating.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

For All You Conspiracy Theory Types

This is especially true for WILK's "Corbett" who was in complete conspiracy-nut mode the other day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Life = Change

"For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled."
- Hunter S. Thompson

The death of bin Laden and his subsequent deportation to Hell reminded me yesterday of just how much the universe can appear, in fact, to turn on its collective head, both in micro and macro terms.  It's almost as if we are somehow cruelly wired one way...towards sameness and against change...but yet we are set apart in an existence that is designed to do just the opposite.  Well at least that's the way it seems to me.

Anyway, I don't know that it makes an awful lot of sense to celebrate recent events. What really is changing? Is YOUR life going to be any better today?  I'm not saying that what was done was anything but just and right, but enough already of the celebrations. The changes that seem to matter in life have nothing to do with killing terrorists, "decisive" presidents or what Fox News seems to think is important at any given moment.  No, what really seems to matter are the small decisions and changes we face every day.  Those are the real game-changers.

It's this swimming against a tide of complacency...of sameness...that I think is at the core of what is really important in life.  It's an existence full of little things that make the big differences.

Consider the actual raid by Navy SEALS on Sunday. What gets the headlines is the killing of bin Laden, but if you think about it for a moment, those SEALS were making countless small but critical decisions second by second as they stormed the compound.  The "big thing" of getting bin Laden wasn't so much a big grand stroke, but rather a compilation of small, purposeful strokes that resulted in something big happening.  And so it is with life in general I suppose.

Here's to celebrating the countless little decisions and changes that really matter.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Terrible Swift Sword

To paraphrase the Battle Hymn of the Republic, America has used its "terrible swift sword" and sent Osama bin Laden to Hell.

Story link HERE.

The difficult question is this: why is it that this bastard was living unfettered near the capital of Pakistan for all these years?  I know that there may be people in Pakistan who will be upset about this, but too bad.  If the leadership of Pakistan doesn't like what we've done, then perhaps they should have done it themselves over the past six or so years when bin Laden was living under their noses.

While it's never a good thing to celebrate death, in this instance it is certainly fitting to feel a sense of relief at justice served.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"I had a friend was a big baseball player, back in high school..."

I loathe bravado.  For me it has a kind of disgustingness to it, not unlike the dried out bodies of earthworms on a sidewalk, a day after a rainstorm.  It is, for me, so very unnecessary a facet of life.  If you got it, then use it and shut up about it.  Let your actions do the talking, not your words about your actions.

Now what brings this little rant on?  Honestly, it was something I read in a local blog.  I can't tell you the number of times I've read self-inflating stuff on line locally.  My Lord boys and girls, this is the freak'n know...the land where porn is the number one money making activity.  It's not saying an awful lot if one's claim to fame is being the self-proclaimed warmest turd on the fringes of a pile where the biggest turd involves creepy old men ogling over "Hot Asian Teens" or something equivalent.

I'd like to suggest a self-imposed credo (as opposed to a Gredo) for anyone blogging on-line, particularly on a local level.

I, as a local blogger, do hereby acknowledge that...

I am basically an armchair quarterback who is more comfortable talking (writing) than actually doing.

I acknowledge that I may have been first, longest, most commented, most hits, etc. at local blogging, but I also also acknowledge that this is not all that dissimilar to winning a gold medal in the Special Olympics.
(With apologies to all those with actual mental handicaps out there.)

I confess that I do this blogging stuff basically because I enjoy the voyeuristic thought that someone else may actually read what I have to say...and actually take it seriously.  I further confess that this is something of a first for me in my life.

I readily admit  the only thing I have to offer is an over-inflated set of opinions, and not much else.  If I actually were an expert at what I rant about, I'd probably be making a living at that thing instead of typing these stupid blog entries.

See all these ads on my blog?  I actually hear enough to buy a cup of coffee from the revenue...every two or three weeks (or so).  Maybe.  Kinda. 

Hey, it's just a suggestion.  I don't expect anyone to actually endorse this kind of thing. We local bloggers are far too serious a group for that kind of thing.