Not Cease from Exploration

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Can someone please step up?

I don't suspect this post will make me friends or influence people, but so be it.  Anyway, saying that I am disappointed in the 2012 Presidential election is like saying that fat guys like all-you-can-eat buffets.

On the Republican side, let's see what we've got:

  • A moron (Rick Perry) who can't remember what the voting age is or what federal agencies he himself would like to ax.
  • A ladies man (Herman Cain) who, rumor has it, got his 9-9-9 tax plan from a video game.  Funny, my daughters used to play Sim City and yet they never came up with a tax plan...just what was their problem?
  • A self-righteous homophobic dolt (pick'm: Santorum or The Bachmann).
  • "Mr Family Values", a.k.a. Newt.
  • A guy who has changed more positions than your average porn star (Romney).
  • A few others who can't win anyway (see Paul & Jon...and I'm not talking about the Beatles).
On the Democratic side you have the current President, who doesn't seem to stand for or accomplish anything.  Seriously, outside of health care reform (the core of which WILL be struck down by the Supreme Court...see HERE, among other things) JUST WHAT THE HELL HAS THIS GUY ACCOMPLISHED?  Please, someone tell me!  It's simply not enough to be against the other folks.  Oh, and please, it was the U.S. Military that killed Bin Laden.  The President simply said "yes" and watched it on TV.

Personally I think that the President needs a credible challenger.  Someone like Hillary Clinton.  Someone who can both stand on principle but yet actually get stuff done.  History is full of examples in the past:
  • Ronald Raygun, "saint" Ronnie to some, worked extensively with Democrats in Congress, signed the largest amnesty bill ever for illegal immigrants, raised taxes and grew the size of government.  
  • Billy-Bob Clinton signed welfare reform into law, had balanced budgets and presided over an expansion of the economy...but yet Republicans tried to have him impeached. 
Will someone step up?  I doubt it.  Call me pessimistic, but I think this country is screwed.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Onion

Sometimes the best humor has an undercurrent of truth to it.


It's rather sick that we are in a position to even "get" the humor in this case.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Road Apples, #116

Thanksgiving...For the record I had an outstanding Thanksgiving holiday, spending time with the most important people in my life, including my beautiful daughters last night.  There is truly much form me to be thankful for, and what a difference a year makes. Special thanks to my brother Chris, who saved me the drumsticks from Thursday's turkey (which will be my dinner tonight).

Blog Geek...While I haven't posted much over the past week, I have been making a few changes to the site, including a more in-depth "about me" description.  The idea for this came from something written by D.B. Echo.  Never let a good idea go un-stolen, especially when it comes to the Internet. I do need to do something about the blog mast-head picture, as it takes too long to load.  I might need to do some cropping.  Time to fire up Picasa, which has become my favorite free photo-editing software.

Tech Geek...As I've noted before, I'm considering the purchase of a tablet computer.  It will be something of a gift to myself to mark an important milestone.  Anyway, I spent some time yesterday at Best Buy playing with the tablets.  A few observations:
  • Speed...the Android tablets seemed faster than the iPad.  I realize that store display models aren't the best avatars for testing speed, but it was somewhat noticeable.  
  • Display...the iPad's display wasn't as crisp as some of the Android models.  
  • Android Interface...bottom line?  Every Android tablet has the same interface.  Zero real differentiation.  The real differentiation among Android tablets lies in software add-ons and tactile feel of the device.  
  • Sony...I played with the Sony tablet and I wasn't blown away with the overall feel of the device.  The real benefit behind the Sony though lies in the software...especially the universal device remote control and the ability to play Playstation games.  It was also not as large as some of the other models.
  • Motorola Zoon...man, the prices have dropped on this device.
  • Blackberry Tablet...has a great display and seems pretty quick.  However I don't like the form (it is a smaller tablet) and I get creeped out by all of RIM's self-inflicted issues. 
  • Kindle Fire...this isn't on my list, but man it is a cool device.  Excellent display.

Scranton...Many reports over the past week or so about how my home-town is running out of things to sell and credit upon which to borrow.  As I've noted many times before, Scranton's government is simply too large for the tax base to support, period.  What's more, there isn't a secret of horde of "crony consultants" that, by eliminating, will save the fiscal day for the city (sorry Janet Evans fans).  Scranton IS bankrupt, period.  It's just a question of legally acknowledging this fact.  The sooner that happens, the better.

Ron Paul...I want to like Ron Paul, I really do.  He was giving a speech the other day in New Hampshire where he basically said the U.S. government had no business telling other countries what to do.  I agree.  However, Representative Paul seems to have no problem with the U.S. government telling women what they can and can't do with their own bodies.  This is a contradiction I find troubling.  While I don't support abortion as a concept, I find it troubling that some believe the government should have the power to reach into a woman's body make decisions for them.  I don't expect that my position on this issue will resonate positively with everyone, but so be it.  As the father of three adult daughters, I shutter to think what would happen if they were ever the victims of a sexual assault that resulted in a pregnancy; in such an instance I would not be qualified to tell them what to do...and I am their father...so the government sure has Hell is not qualified either.

Penn State...For several years I have made an annual contribution to the University.  That will not happen this year.  Mind you this has never been a large sum of money in real terms, but it was the largest single donation I would make to any organization.  At this stage I simply can't support an organization that has been so focused on a stupid game that they were willing to look the other way when there was credible of child abuse.  This was and is appalling.  I'll find some other use for the money and hope that, in the coming months, real changes are made at Penn State.
 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Being Thankful


I know, this is the time of the year when I list all that I have to be thankful for in my life.  I loathe being so predictable though, so what to do?

Well I've thought this through, and while there are in fact tons of things to be thankful for, I am going to pick just one.  Note though that this doesn't mean that I am NOT thankful for all of the other blessings in life that I enjoy, because that would be completely FALSE.  I am, in fact, truly blessed with healthy children who make me so very proud, the caring and support of a wonderful friend, a great job, (and the list goes on...hey, I AM listing things...need to stop).

This year I am going to be thankful for a gift that I think some seem to lack:  the ability to be critically introspective.  Maybe it's somewhat presumptuous to state that others lack this ability, but you know what?  I've seen some evidence to the contrary.  Now I'm not talking about morality or necessarily the ability to make "right" decisions, because the very concepts of "morality" and "right" are at least somewhat subjective in definition.  What's more, I've learned over time that sometimes one has to make short-term decisions that seem flawed in order to achieve a far greater objective over the long term.  It's really though not outcomes that I am thankful for anyway; what I am truly thankful for is an internal process that allows me to make decisions.

It's all about the process in life, at least when you boil things down to their elemental components.  As is often said, life is a journey and not a destination.  That journey, I suspect, is in part driven by your ability to be critically introspective.  What do you do along the journey of life?  How do you act and react when you come upon those milestones that define you as a person?  I know, these are just questions, but they at the heart of being introspective.  I do, in fact, question just about everything, all the time.  At times this has been a blessing, such as when I need to make a decision at work that requires the weighing of different factors.  It has also...all be it rarely...been something of a curse, especially when the introspection creates a kind of feedback loop that prevents me from acting.  Mostly though it has been a blessing, as the curse part has been relegated to relatively few times in my life.  These "curse" times are usually defined by instances where I've had to deal with ideas, concepts and emotions for which I have little frame of reference.

Anger on my part, for example, creates the kind of feedback loop I referenced above, as I'm simply not an angry kind of person.  Even allowing myself to feel angry takes substantial work on my part, as my introspective tendencies tend to tell me to always consider someone or something else's point of view. "Maybe I shouldn't be angry" or "Maybe I've done something wrong to cause these feelings" are what typically ping through my head when faced with budding personal anger.  Almost always these feelings end up getting somehow settled.  On rare occasion I actually have allowed myself to be righteously cheesed off.  Did it feel good at the time?  Not really, but as a fully formed human being I am allowed to be angry once in a while.  Introspection on introspection.

My particular blessing of being able to sense the world around me and ponder it has led me to appreciate, of all things, poetry.  For me, poetry is a kind of song that goes with life.  It's creating visuals and rhythm to slices of existence.  Poetry can be, at least for me, a true act of introspection, both on the part of the author and the reader.

Maybe I'm just (as they say) "whacked".  Maybe this "gift" of always questioning and pondering is just part of the equipment that all humans come with when we roll out of our mother.  I don't think though that everyone takes advantage of it.  I am also sure that, as a gift, it requires practice and cultivation.  The full utilization of critical introspection seems to be contingent on other gifts, such as humility.  It may be hard for someone to deeply consider their own thoughts, ideas and decisions if they believe they are inherently better than the rest of the universe.  Mostly though, I don't think we, as a species, are introspective enough.

As for me, well the past year has been one of significant change.  Throughout it all, I've maintained this internal discussion about what has been happening both inside and outside of me.  That has been the one constant.  I've learned though that you can use introspective to move your life along, or you can become so wrapped up in the internal discussion that it becomes an all-consuming monster...the kind of constant feedback loop that causes nothing but grief.  In totality I've learned more about myself over the past year than I probably did in the last 15 years.  The fact that I can ponder what I've learned...and use those learnings productively...is the gift of critical introspection.  For that I am very grateful.

"The longest journey is the journey inwards."
- Dag Hammarskjold

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Responding to a comment about Holy Family Church

A comment from one of my postings about Holy Family Church.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

May the spirits of those Slovak miners and their founding families rise out of the rubble and let their presence be made known.
November 21, 2011 11:15 PM



Amen Anonymous...amen.

By way of history, this was actually the second Holy Family Church.  The first was a wooden structure on, on think, Capouse Avenue.  That original structure stopped being a church after the brick structure was built on North Washington avenue.  I understand that the original church actually stood until the 1940's used as an indoor racketball/handball court until it was demolished.

The picture I saw of the wooden structure actually showed it to somewhat resemble the brick church, all be it on a smaller scale.

When you consider just how little some of these miners had, and how they must have sacrificed to build these churches, it's actually pretty awe inspiring.  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Getting older stinks, but...

Some good news on the health front.

I had my follow-up visit to the doctor yesterday after the end of October asthma flair-up.  The good news: my breathing capacity just about doubled (going from something like 250 to 575 on the "blow into the tube" gizmo).  Even better news?  My blood pressure was astonishingly low, something like 112 over 68.  Now sure how that happened.  Maybe the equipment failed.  Who knows.  I'll take it though, for the record.

The less than stellar news in all this is the fact that I'm probably gong to have to take an inhaled steroid over the long term (well I'm supposed to...actually doing it is another story).  I'm also going to have to take an allergy medication daily from now until forever.  The thought behind the medications is that they will prevent another asthma attack, which sounds reasonable to me.  I had never wanted to be on any daily medication for anything, but years ago that mojo was broken by virtue of the fact that I've been taking medication for acid reflux daily now for years.  I guess I am really screwed if the zombie apocalypse actually occurs.

The other variable in all of this lies in where I live.  While I don't have any science to support this, it wouldn't surprise me if there was some kind of environmental factor in my current living arrangements that somehow disagrees with my physiology.  Can't prove it, but I do have my suspicions.  That will be resolved, as the "NCFE Command Bunker" will eventually be relocating.  After that maybe I will do some experimentation with the medication.

In totality though, it is all good.  I'm a pretty healthy guy, all things considered, and I've managed my health such that I'm really not at risk for a lot of the horrid things that come with age.  While my weight fluctuates more than a Kardashian's marital status, my cholesterol numbers have always been very good, I don't drink, I've never smoked (not once) and I'm very active.  My goal in all of this? To be healthy enough to live a good life.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy Protesters/Free Education

Occupy Protesters were heard shouting that education "should be free, like the air and water" yesterday in New York.  Well, they think that, do they?

First, the water is NOT free; anyone who has a home will tell you that fact.  Second, while I do agree that a post-secondary education by and large costs too much, that's a different issue than claiming it should be "free".  The fact is that the moment you make something free you diminish it's value.  We sometimes lose sight of this fact in our society these days.  Education has value, and a higher education is worth paying for, by and large.

In a larger sense, there are times when I think that the current generation has been given TOO MUCH and they have lost sight of the fact that there are few actual RIGHTS in this world.  A post secondary education is NOT A RIGHT, it is a privilege, one that requires two abilities:

  1. The ability to intellectually handle the work
  2. The ability to pay for it

It may be all warm and fuzzy to think that everyone can do both of the above, but that's simply not reality.  We are not all equal in our abilities, and that's okay.  Society needs both lawyers and plumbers to function, and true personal value isn't measured by W-2 earnings or what (if any) school you attended...personal value is best measured, in my opinion, by the kind of person you are and the kind of person you strive to become,

Strive.

The RIGHT that I do think we all have is the "right to strive", but "strive" is different that being "given".  Hell, I don't really think that we have a right to strive, I think we have an OBLIGATION to strive.  We owe it to ourselves to always try and make ourselves better, throughout the course of our lives.  That kind of drive almost has to come with a cost, because it's the effort part of striving...the having the work hard and make choices part...that builds us as individuals.

I do believe that it is entirely noble and correct to fight against injustice, and in American society today there are tons of injustices that need to be addressed.  Having to pay for a college education is not an injustice.  Pain in the butt?  Definitely.  Injustice?  No.  Claiming the right to a free education as an issue worth chanting about makes at least some of the Occupy Wall Street protesters out to be spoiled little children who believe that they should entitled to anything they want, just "because".  Wrong.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday Mail for Heroes 2011

I saw something posted on Facebook about sending Christmas cards to veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  Since as a general rule I don't believe anything I read on Facebook, I decided to check it out.  You can see what snopes.com had to say about this HERE.

The good news?  There actually is a program sponsored by the American Red Cross that allows us to support our soldiers over the holidays.  You can read about it HERE.  I've also copy & pasted the key points immediately below.

Take a moment and support those who put their lives on the line for all of us.

**********************************


Holiday Mail for Heroes 2011

Welcome to the fifth year of our Holiday Mail For Heroes program! As in previous years, we will partner with Pitney Bowes to collect holiday cards from regular citizens all across the country and distribute them to service members, veterans, and their families. If you’re looking for a fun way to give back a little bit this holiday season, this is a great option. Check out our slideshow of cards from previous years for some inspiration.
Send cards to the address below:

Holiday Mail For Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456
All cards must be postmarked no later than Friday, December 9th. Cards postmarked after this date will unfortunately be returned to the sender. This deadline ensures enough time to sort and distribute cards before the holidays.
After the mailbox closes, the cards we received will be screened for hazardous materials by Pitney Bowes and then reviewed by Red Cross volunteers working around the country.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I was duped...

I was duped.  I confess.  Now I am not easily duped, for the record; in fact, with most things I am fairly skeptical.  But not this time.

Yes, for years I swallowed the whole Joe Paterno "victory with honor" bullcrap.  I believed that he wasn't like the other big-time college sports program coaches (such as Calhoun from UConn).  Even worse, I believe that he was inherently a good man.

Fast forward to now and a two things are pretty clear:
  1. Joe Paterno knew of credible allegations against Jerry Sandusky, but basically sat on the information...until, of course, he was forced to testify in front of a Grand Jury.
  2. Joe Paterno put the interests of a f&^king game before children being harmed.
College football is a game.  It is a cousin to just about any other game out there.  It is dominos on steroids.  Yet this game somehow over-powered the moral sensibilities of adults that people such as I took for granted.  Of course I believed that "JoePa" was a highly moral guy.  He graduated lots of his students.  Many Academic All Americans.  Again, he wasn't like "those others".  Yes, I was duped.

Even if you feel that Joe Paterno rightfully followed the rules by reporting the allegation of abuse to his "superior" (a laughable concept by the way, as he had no "superior" at Penn State), no one can question the fact that he did not follow-up EVEN ONCE on what was reported.

In the end, the rape of a 10 year old boy simply was not important in Joe Paterno's world.  It fell below his precious little game.  At one time "JoePa" seemed so big.  Now he seems so very small...just like his game.

Never again.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Swimming in a fish bowl

A little over a year ago I made what I consider to be the biggest change in my life, ever.  Now since we are talking about me here, the whole endeavor was fought with "the over":  over-thought and over planned. What's more, I have to confess though that I probably was not ready emotionally for what I needed to do.  I was, in a very real sense, very much afraid.

Afraid.  

Can you believe that? Here I am, this hunkeringly large individual, who from the outside would seem to be very much confident, and I was actually being held together by what seemed like Jello from my (all be it) twisted perspective.  The benefit of over a year has given me lots to think about and ponder on this whole topic (what I am doing now...), but I am still amazed that I actually did it.  The whole concept of what "afraid" means is worthy of pondering.  I wasn't afraid for...

...my health (I was the only one who took care of me anyway)
...my wealth (I don't have that much to being with)
...my intellect (I wasn't suddenly going to go all Rick Perry)

...on the surface I'd say that I was afraid that I would end up "all alone".  Hindsight being 20/20, that was probably cover for something deeper.  What that "deeper" is, I'm not sure.  I do know that I hate losing at anything.  Maybe, just maybe, I was actually really just afraid of failing at making this kind of change. I knew that once I started doing this, my compulsion to not fail would force me to move ahead.  Would I then lose control of the situation?  Would I end up starting a course of action that I myself would somehow not be able to change?  Would I "fail"?  Note I did reference "over thinking" before.

Courageous vulnerability.

There actually is a term for what I was doing over a year ago.  That term?  Courageous vulnerability.  What this means is basically that "I am scared, but I am going to do it anyway". Regardless of what I found fearful in making a major life change, I still did it.  Over a year later and I can still almost smell the fear in the air...it almost exists as a tactile sort of thing. Amazed, as a descriptor, doesn't begin to articulate how I feel now when I look back at that time.  I truly was afraid, but I truly did it anyway.  Now I am sure I could do it all over again, but I could also, for example, go through the process of getting a dental implant again...but I have no desire to do so.

There are other lessons in all of this, of that I am absolutely certain.  Some I've articulated in my head a hundred times over, to the point of being bald tires in my mind.  Some have made it here, some will never make it here.  Some exist as your basic vapor-ware in my head...they are there ready to be spoken, but just need to be coded in words. As someone who has poured a thought out in words over time I almost feel a need to somehow explain things, not for anyone else other than me.  That will come, in time, as I am ready.

Wish You Were Here

Over a year ago, the song "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd was playing in my head almost constantly.  Now as I mentioned to Ms Rivers just yesterday, I love things that are smartly multi-dimensional.  I find it fascinating when you see something that has a different color/meaning to it, depending on your perspective.  In 2010 I would listen to this song and think about how it somehow symbolized losing something in my life.  It's for that reason that I actually didn't listen to that song for almost a year.  I simply couldn't listen to it because of the thoughts & feelings it brought up.  However a few weeks ago I listened to the song again, and I got a wonderfully different perspective that, as I noted, comes with experiencing something "smart".  

Side note:  you can read more about this particular song HERE.

That new perspective?  Perhaps the "you" in "Wish YOU Were Here" is actually a "me".  Put another way, I think that we all engage in some kind of self-isolation.  We put ourselves in a fish bowl, year after year.  My life for the longest time was just that:  simply swimming in a fish bowl.  The benefit of being in a fish bowl, I suspect, was that I knew every inch of the space.  There is a comfort in limitation.  Over a year ago I basically jumped out of the fish bowl...not prepared...but I jumped out anyway. Courageous vulnerability.

Maybe when I am 80 and explaining all of this to grandchildren I will come across as being supremely confident and acting in accordance with a big plan.  That future statement would be a lie though, but that's okay.  There has been no big plan, other than to move forth and take some chances in life.  Some have worked out, others have not.  Some things have happened that I would have never guessed could occur in a million years.  I have not been given what I wanted, but at every step of the way I have been given what I needed.  In totality the chances and changes have been worth taking and I am truly in a great, wide-open place in life.

In the end I suspect that all of this can be summarized into one single thought:
Your life can be as small as your own personal fish bowl, or it can be big as the universe.  

You decide.  Circumstances may make change in life difficult, rarely do they make change in life impossible.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day

In honor of all those who honorably served in the United States military, including my father (U.S. Army/Korean Conflict), my brother Chris (U.S. Navy/1983-1986) and my uncle Frank (U.S. Army Air Corps/World War 2).

Dad (in uniform), home from the Army at the Hotel Casey, early 1950's.


Dad's grave, Fairview Memorial Park (Veterans Section), Elmhurst, PA.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Message from PSU President Rodney Erickson


As received from the Penn State newswire service.  Don't expect anything relevant here, other than an acknowledgement that more is to come.
******
A message from Interim Penn State President Rodney Erickson 
This is one of the saddest weeks in the history of Penn State. It has been
difficult to comprehend the horrific nature of the allegations that were
revealed in the Attorney General's presentment last week. As a member of the
Penn State community for 34 years, as a parent, and as a grandfather, I find
the charges as they have been described to be devastating, and my heart goes
out to those who have been victimized and their families. This is a terrible
tragedy for everyone involved, and it will take some time to bring a measure
of understanding and resolution to the community. 


In addition to the legal process under way, Penn State's Board of Trustees has
authorized a full investigation "...to determine what failures occurred, who
is responsible, and what measures are necessary to insure that this never
happens at our University again and that those responsible are held fully
accountable." As those involved pursue their cases, I also urge you, as Penn
Staters, to be patient, to avoid speculation, and to refrain from passing
judgment until the facts are known. 


As you are now aware, the Board of Trustees has asked me to serve as the
interim president of Penn State effective immediately. I undertake these
duties with a firm sense of resolve, and I ask for your support as we move
forward. And move forward, we must and we will. 

Penn State has a long and storied tradition that has endured for more than 150
years. Our roots are deep, our constitution is resilient, and the importance
of our work is as vital today as it was last week - perhaps even more so in
the face of such adversity. We are 96,000 students, 46,000 employees, and
more than a half a million alumni. We are 24 campuses across the Commonwealth
and a World Campus. We are a university that is committed to its core values
of honesty, integrity, and community. We are a university that will rebuild
the trust and confidence that so many people have had in us for so many
years. 


Through your conduct every day, you can play a role in restoring the
integrity, honor, and pride that have always characterized Penn State. I share
your anger and sadness in this time, but always remember that your actions
reflect on the entire Penn State community. Please set an example that will
make us all proud. Moving forward is the only responsible course to take in
the coming months. I ask for the full support of our faculty, students, staff,
and alumni, and in return I will do my best to lead this institution through
the challenges ahead.
 

Thank you for being a part of Penn State.  
 Read the full story on Live: http://live.psu.edu/story/56307#nw44

Penn State Pride (and Shame)

Reference article HERE.

As a kid I wasn't the biggest sporting fan in the world.  I was tall, very lanky and not particularly graced by any sense of coordination.  Sure, I eventually learned to enjoy playing some sports, such as basketball and tennis, but by and large I was not ever someone who was a sports fan.  I was always a Penn State fan though.

As I worked through my high school years, I really wasn't sure what I would be doing with my so-called life. Sure, my grades were good...I think I graduated in the top 10% of my class...but I wasn't particularly inspired  for anything, other than maybe architecture.  Well the architecture thing didn't work out, as you need great test scores to get into college for it, and my SAT scores were abysmal.  In truth I think I had been drinking the night before the test, which probably had something to do with my shall we say "less than stellar" scores. My senior year approached and I applied to a few different colleges, but I was really only serious about attending one:  Penn State.

My Penn State career began in 1982, the year in which the school won its first football national championship.  Four years later, after stints at Scranton and Harrisburg, I left Penn State with a BBA and a job.  It was the year of Penn State's second football national championship.

Interestingly enough, I had never been to State College (Pennsylvania) until a few years ago.  That, however, never curbed my enthusiasm for the university.  Over the years I've done my best to financially support Penn State, I've volunteered for events at Penn State Harrisburg and served on its alumni society board for two terms.  I also, after years of paying for it, got my much sought-after life membership in the Penn State Alumni Association.

I mention the above, I suppose, as something of a way to give myself some "street cred" when it comes to Penn State.  My time at Penn State really, truly changed my life, especially my last two years.  I have been nothing but exceedingly proud to proclaim myself a Penn State graduate, up to and including the alumni license plate that graces my car.

Recent events have given my pause though as I think about how others view Penn State, particularly current students and supporters of Coach Joe Paterno.  As I noted the other day, Coach Paterno made a grave error (or maybe errors) by simply following procedures when credible allegations of child molestation were made against a former coach.  The "Paterno Way" was to never simply take the easy road, it was never simply to "just follow the rules", it was never just victory...it was "victory with honor".  There is no honor in placing a football program's reputation above that of even the potential that children are being harmed.

To the Trustees of the Pennsylvania State University:  I applaud your actions in immediately terminating Coach Paterno and President Spanier.  I'm not proud that this had to be done, but I suppose you have done the best you could in these particular circumstances.  Now take the text step by putting policies in place that will prevent an athletic program to become so important that it can run an entire university's reputation into the ground.

To the current students of Penn State:  Imagine yourself being ten years old and being raped by an old man in a shower.  Now tell me what the real issue is in this case.

I am not Penn State Proud at the moment.  And my annual gift is sitting here un-mailed.  It very well may stay that way for the rest of this year.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Joe Paterno

"Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good."
- Joe Paterno


If Coach Joe Paterno had evidence or allegations of wrong-doing and simply followed the letter of the law in addressing it, then he has failed to live up to his own standards. It has never been enough, for example, for Penn State to have a graduation rate that was acceptable to the NCAA; Coach Paterno saw to it that Penn State's graduation rate for student-athletes far exceeded the minimum required.

As an alumni of Penn State, I've been proud that Joe Paterno represented my university so very well over the years.  Until now. I expected more, again, because he taught Penn Staters such as myself to expect more.

Coach Paterno should resign, immediately.

- Steve Albert, '86

NEPArtisan Posting: O'Brien and Wansacz

My latest NEPArtisan posting can be found HERE.

I may not be making too many friends or influencing too many people, but what the Hell?  Sometimes you just gotta call'm like you see'm.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

More Holy Family Church Pictures

Just a few more that I have snapped.


Mass schedule.  The sign dates back to when I was a teenager (I think).



Anthracite Bridge Co, Scranton PA.  This stamping probably hadn't seen the light of day for over a hundred years.


This is the structure of the church steeple.  The Children of God (or whatever they are) folks stripped the copper off weeks ago.


What's left of the structure that supported the steeple.  Note the rivets.  It looks like the hull of the Titanic.  I think it dates from about the same period actually.


The front of the church.


Decorative stone work that isn't so decorative any more.


Post script:  Holy Family Church was built by Slovak miners from Scranton's Pine Brook section.  The dedications on the stained grass windows were actually in Slovak.  Rumor has it that the church, being built in a heavily mined area, was constructed on pylons that went down to bed-rock so as to avoid subsidence.  In all the years that I attended Holy Family I don't recall ever seeing evidence  of mine subsidence, so how knows?

In any event, I can't come up with anything more meaningful to say about the demise of something that really was a part of my childhood, so I'm going to leave this subject with the following...which seems strangely aligned to how I'm feeling.

Holy Family Church

A few pictures from earlier in the week, as Holy Family Church falls into the sunset.

Side view...you can see how they are stripping material from the steel.

Detail of the steel structure being dismantled.  Some of the girders are stamped "Scranton Anthracite Bridge Company".

Steeple, sans copper and structure.


Rear view; note the ceiling art.  When I was a child I would spend many-a-Mass looking at these beautiful pictures.

The confessionals, still in place at the rear of the church where they were when I made my first confession.

Detail of the structure holding up the plaster roof.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Road Apples, #115

Blame the 'roids...As I noted yesterday, I'm currently taking a large does of steroids to combat some asthma problems.  The down side?  I get this kinds slimy feeling about myself.  As if I am always sweating or something.  Or my pores are extruding olive oil.  The up side?  I get tons of energy out of the deal for some reason.  I was up at 3:45am this morning and feel pretty damn good. The asthma is feeling noticeably better as well.  Still waiting for my neck to swell though.  Oh, just don't cut me off in traffic!  (just kidding)

Holy Family Church...As noted by Andy Palumbo, Holy Family Church on North Washington avenue in Scranton is being demolished.  I drove past there last night and, sigh, almost half of it is gone now.  I'm going to leave for work early and drive by to take some final pictures with the Sony Alpha this morning.  This was the church where I received most of the Catholic sacraments, a place that, at one time, looked so very big.  Now, well it looks rather small.  More pictures to come.  Whenever I see visible changes like this...changes that signal that an era has ended...I am reminded of this great song "Hold Back the Years" by Simply Red.



I guess sometimes you simply can't hold back the years.

The Holidays...are coming, seemingly pretty fast.  I also have a week's worth of business travel coming up.  And then there will be some travel around Thanksgiving holiday.  It's all good.

Greece...Proving that spineless politicians are not specific to this side of the Atlantic, the Greek government has decided that they will not take responsibility for saving their own economy (and for potentially dragging down Italy and Spain, not to mention knocking world stock markets) and instead will subject the recently approved EU bailout proposal to a beauty contest popular vote.  This is bad.  Greece is a test case in an economy where the wrong things were rewarded (massive numbers of public sector jobs, short work weeks, extremely early retirement ages) and the right things (hard work, industriousness, self-sufficiency) were discouraged.  Proving once again that the Hell's Angels are right ("Ass, grass, or gas...nobody rides for free"), the bill for all the wrong things has come due.  Unlike the United States, there is not a massive "1%" to blame it all on and tax the hell out of to fix things.  This is bad folks, very, very bad.  If the bailout is not approved, look for Greece to leave the Euro Zone and for financial markets to be rocked for months and years to come.

Herman Cain...has supporters who are now crying "the race card" at accusations he engaged in sexual harassment.  But wait:  weren't some of these same supporters deriding President Obama every time he even mentioned race during the last presidential campaign?  I don't know if Mr Cain is guilty of engaging in sexual harassment, but I know he has supporters who are guilty of hypocrisy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Your parents lied to you: monsters are real.

Warning...this is a graphic video that has disturbing visuals and language.  If you are easily offended or if you are under age 18 you should NOT watch it.  

Now I normally don't post stuff like this, but I think this one has to be shared.  As a parent I was nearly brought to tears listening to this young lady scream and cry.  In a world where we sometimes become desensitized by violence in video games and TV, this one really hits a nerve.

Coincidentally, I first saw this on, of all places (that love Texas and Texans) Fox News.

Video:  Texas Judge beating his daughter with a belt.

Visit to the Doctors

It all started about three weeks ago:  it was a cold, or maybe seasonal allergies.  No bother, armed with the very best in store-brand-equivalent-OTC medications, I did battle with the ranging sinus pressure, nasal discharge and assorted problems when that kind of stuff runs down hill (make that "down throat").  Man, it took a long time though for the symptoms to abate.  Hell, I still am a tad bit stuffy,

Then of course my new "friend" came to visit, Mr Asthma.

This is the friend who first came last Spring and insisted that I needed to check out the Emergency Room at Moses Taylor Hospital, at 7:30 in the morning.  Gasping like a goldfish out of his bowl, Ms Rivers was kind enough to come over from work and haul my wheezing butt to the hospital.  After an morning enjoying the staff at Moses Taylor and not especially caring what they did to me...as long as I could breathe...I came home to a follow-up visit with my primary care physician and a course of steroids that I was sure would end up making my head look as large as Rosie O'Donnell's.

Fast forward a month or two and I was symptom free.  Until three weeks ago that is.

The latest fiasco took a bizarre turn on Monday night.  Maybe it was the Pop Tarts I had before I want to bed.  Maybe it was the book Inside Scientology I am currently reading.  Maybe it was just stress.  Maybe it was just bad luck, but regardless, I ended up sleeping horribly.  I had all these strange dreams that kept waking me up...gasping for air.  So Tuesday morning I send a note to my primary care physician asking for his advice.  I got that advice in the form of a checkup yesterday:  yes Steve, this Asthma thing is a problem again and let's be really aggressive in treating it.

So starting today I have 3 (cout'em 3) new medications to take.
...One which I apparently may be taking quasi-forever
...Another mega-but-declining dose of steroids
...Another inhaler

All of this begs a few questions.
Q:  Will my neck grow to roid-sized proportions, you know, like certain well known athletes?
Q:  Even worse, will I end up looking like this guy?
Q:  Why, at age 47, why would I even develop Asthma?
Q:  Why even write this post?

I can't really answer the first three questions noted above, but I can answer the last:  because on some visceral level this bugs the hell out of me, and I tend to write about things that bug the hell out of me.  I thought avoiding the whole 90's cigar smoking fad would have paid some dividends.  Apparently not.  Nor has a life of never even trying smoking, not working in an asbestos plant, not mining for coal and generally speaking trying to be healthy.  Nope.  Now in fairness my doctor does have a root cause in mind...it would be this guy...


But as I told my doctor back in April, "the cat stays".

Rant concluded.  Now back to your regularly scheduled blogging nonsense.