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Monday, December 30, 2013

Johnny Carson

After reading a review of the book Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin by a fellow blogger, I eventually got around to getting the book myself.  I have mixed feelings about the whole experience.

On the positive side?  It's a pretty compelling read.  Most of us who spent time watching Johnny Carson really never knew all that much about the man, other than the fact that we had heard he had been married a few times.  Four to be exact.  The book, written by his one-time lawyer, Henry Buskin, is at times very least as far as most of Carson's career at the Tonight Show is concerned.  It's also a fairly complex story about a man who was clearly both very talented and easily driven to rage.  It was a relatively fast read for me, being something I picked up while buying some Christmas presents at a local bookstore.

On the negative side?  Henry Bushskin is, well, a rat.  Over and over again Bushkin talks about how much Carson valued his privacy, and how he trusted so few people in his inner circle.  Some of that trust has clearly been betrayed, for sake of money, by Bushkin.  The author also paints a fairly vanilla picture of himself, and while some bad behavior is alluded to, by and large Bushkin wants to be seen as a "good guy".  I felt slightly soiled for having purchased the book and rewarding Bushkin's rat-esque behavior.

I'll also note that you really don't learn all that much about Johnny Carson's life from the book.  Yes, it's pretty clear he had a tough upbringing, but there are no details to speak of.  You also don't learn anything of substance about Carson's final years, as he and Bushkin had a falling out years before he died.

Would I buy it again?  I'd have to say no, at least not new in a hardcover.  However if you are fan of Carson, you may want to pick up a used copy on-line.  It's worth that price.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

15 Big Wishes for 2014

In no particular order, for no particular reason.

  1. Free Speech.  That people will stop confusing a right to free speech with a right to employment.  The constitution guarantees one, not the other.  This applies equally to mock hillbillies and MSNBC commentators.
  2. Budgets.  That governments will learn to live within their means.  This entails not spending more than they take in.  This means not borrowing money to cover payroll.
  3. Schools.  That schools will focus on academic education, which should be their core, central mission.  Sports have a place in our society, but not when they take resources away from education.  In an era of tight budgets, too many school districts have outdated text books but boy, they do have nice football uniforms.  Many (especially in NEPA) are oblivious to the concept of "bread and circuses".
  4. Politicians.  That politicians will decide to devote more time to listening to constituents and less time being greased by lobbyists and campaign donors.  If you believe that free speech = campaign contributions, then you also accept the notion that some folks (those who give the most) have a right to more speech than others.  Anyone care to argue that point?
  5. Talk Radio.  That national political talk radio slowly withers away and dies.  Too many people confuse a radio "act" for a "reality".  For the record I do like local talk radio, even when I disagree with the slant of the particular host.  Giving local folks a chance to voice opinions is a positive thing.
  6. Congress.  That Congress does its job.  Period.  Pointing fingers at people you disagree with and saying (figuratively) "You Suck!" helps no one, improves nothing and simply justifies the 9% approval rating that Congress currently enjoys.
  7. Local Media.  That local media will devote more time and energy to examining why NEPA has chronically had the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania.  There are reasons for this, but yet no one is really talking loudly enough about them, let alone doing something about it.  That's cause for alarm.  Media can help change that, if they want to.  
  8. North Korea.  That someone does something about the Hermit Kingdom.  It is a pox on humanity that this place even exists.  The bloated, obese leader lording of a country full of emaciated people who look like Walking Dead extras is just wrong on so many levels.
  9. Religious Leaders.  That they have less authority in secular society.  All societies.  All religions.  It seems to me that religion has a place in forming the conscience, but once it gets into the public policy realm it almost always ends up badly.  Think Iran now and countless other examples throughout history.
  10. Parents.  That parents spend more time reading to their children.  Growing up I loved it when my mother would read to us.  This a gift that costs almost nothing but continues to give for decades.
  11. The Pennsylvania Legislature.  That the Legislature does two things:  Get the State the heck out of the retail liquor business (a state government shouldn't be in any retail business, period) and gets smaller.  Government in Pennsylvania is too big and it spends too much money.
  12. President Obama.  That he tells the truth, all the time.   I get it, most Presidents are flexible with the truth, but I think Mr Obama has taken the concept a bit too far with the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act.
  13. Heroes.  That we, as a society, stop labeling people as heroes simply because of their job.  To really be a hero, you need to do something heroic; it's never part of a job description.  Simply being an athlete...or a firefighter...or a policeman...or a solider...doesn't automatically make you a hero.  When we label entire vocations heroes we greatly diminish the definition of the very word and those who have been heroic in the past.
  14. Financial Services Industry.  That the industry focuses on customers and the greater good that helping people achieve long term goals provides to society.  This would be instead of simply chasing a constantly higher ROE.  The business of business is business, but businesses also exists in a larger society, to which they are also accountable.
  15. _________ Special Interest Group.  That they all grow thicker skins.  This includes the NRA (of which I am not a member), the Human Rights Campaign (of which I am a member) and countless others.  There are too many people finding offense in too many areas all too often.  Life is too short to be constantly listening for someone to offend your group/tribe/sensibilities/religion/sexuality/region/point of view.  When you actively shop for offense, you will always guaranteed to find it.  Who needs more of that?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

There is no war against Christmas

How do you wage war against a feeling of joyousness?

How do you wage war against getting together with family and friends?

How do you wage war against the wonder in a child's eyes, the same wonder most of us felt as kids, on Christmas morning?

How do you wage war against deeply held, personal beliefs?

There is no "war against Christmas".  The very idea is, I think, something manufactured by commentators to give themselves something to talk about...other than the joy of Christmas...during the holiday season.  Some folks are just nothing, I guess, unless they have some foe to rally the troops against.  The things that matter the most in life are immune from the concept of "war" that is being spread during these holidays.  Even on religious grounds it makes little to no sense.  If someone's faith is dependent upon a plastic Jesus, Joseph and Mary on a public square...or if that faith would be shaken if such plastic displays were removed...then I am afraid that maybe their faith wasn't very solid in the first place.  If you're a Christian, it's important to remember that the Son of God wasn't born of vivid displays, holiday showmanship or grand gestures by public commentators; He was born in a stinky stable, surrounded by animals.

The stuff that really matters at Christmas is the stuff that you can't see, but you can certainly share.  It's the stuff inside of you.  It's joy.  It's love for family and friends.   It's wonder.  It's a belief that we all have a shot at redemption.

Merry Christmas to one and all!  If you don't celebrate Christmas, then Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Grumble, grumble, grumble, hiatus, grumble, grumble, grumble

Despite protests in my head to the contrary, yes indeed I have had something of a blog hiatus over the past week.  There has been simply too much to do, and besides, I haven't had home Internet access until yesterday.  Just to do a little mental catching up:

  • 98% of my stuff has been moved to the thriving town of West Pittston.  I do have some stuff still in storage, and on my brother's back porch, but it's not much.
  • Both the mental and physical transitions have been hard.  I understood going into this that it would be physically difficult, as I did most of the lugging myself, with able assistance from Ms Rivers and her oldest son.  Most nights I have gone to bed with legs feeling like limp noodles.
  • The mental transition has been interesting.  For a few days I still felt, well, homeless.  I guess it just takes a while for a place to seem like "home", even if you are there, and even if you own it (well have a mortgage on it).  Being surrounded by boxes and clutter is also not good for my mental health.  However, slowly but surely the mental transition is coming along.  
  • Every day that I'm out of Scranton it seems that there is more bad financial news coming out of the city.  By the way, it is nothing short of INSANE that the acting chief of police is getting part of the Supreme Court award, but that's another post for another day.
  • I really do enjoy my new commute into work.  It's the longest commute I've had since about 1988, but I find it relaxing.
  • Maybe it's the introvert in me, but when I am shopping in a crowded store, I sometimes have a slight tinge of anxiety.  Nothing horrible or mind altering mind you, just enough mental swirling to be noticeable.  It goes away as soon as I leave the store, and it's only there when I am shopping alone.  I've noticed it before.  I will have to explore this further.
  • It doesn't feel like Christmas.  Not this year.  I'll have to be twice as joyful next year to make up for the difference.
  • I am working Monday, Tuesday and Thursday this week; from there I'm off until January 2nd.  Since there is no shortage of things to do, the time off will be welcome.
Well that's about all I can write at the moment.  Hardly anything that will set blogger afire, but that's okay.  These are more mental notes to me than physical notes to you (whomever "you" happen to be) anyway.

Monday, December 16, 2013

das Haus verlassen - In gratitude | Naming Names

All is done.  

I sold my former residence in Scranton.

Ms Rivers and I bought a new house in West Pittston, the place from where I am publishing this very posting.

Initial renovations will be commencing, and there will be much moving of boxes and turning of a house into a home over the next few months.

None of this would have been possible without the help of my partner in crime, Ms Rivers.  Collectively, we also had the benefit of working with some great professionals, so I'd like to offer some blog space for some well-deserved thanks.

My Partner
Before thanking anyone else, I have to acknowledge Ms Rivers.  

Dear Chris, 

Thank you for your patience with me in the sale/purchase endeavor. 

Thank you for your honesty, intelligence and grace under pressure.

Thank you for your understanding through the parts of this process that were difficult for me, from making the decision to sell through the myriad of other things that come with big life change.

Most of all, thank you for being my partner as we begin this part of our journey together. 


(One of my favorite Ms Rivers photos)

Selling My House
In selling my property in Scranton I had the benefit of a truly terrific real estate agent, Trish Conway from Century 21 Jack Ruddy Real Estate.  Trish was great at offering suggestions, keeping me focused, and answering my questions (sometimes the same ones over and over again).  Trish is fanatically great at returning phone calls and staying on top of things.  I also really appreciated how creative Trish was in making the final offer for my property work.  I can't imagine having the same outcome with an agent other than Trish.

Buying Our Home
In buying a home, Chris and I had the benefit of having the time to really think about what we wanted, over an extended period of time.  That noted, no matter how much planning you do, all the rules change once you start actually touring properties.  In helping us translate plans into reality, we had the benefit of great search tools and email alerts from Prudential Poggi & Jones real estate.  Check them out if you are buying a home in the Wilkes-Barre area.  Once the time came to start looking at homes, we connected with Paul Pukatch from Prudential Poggi & Jones.  Paul has been patient, available, supportive and has helped keep us on task.

Lawyers, Guns and Money
Well not guns, but you definitely need lawyers and money to make the home sale/ownership thing work.  Chris and I had the benefit of two professionals who helped us in the legal and financing departments.

Our lawyer was actually my late mother's attorney, Edward Monsky, from the Scranton firm of Fine, Wyatt and Carey in Scranton.  Attorney Monsky handled the legal work for both the sale and the purchase and has also helped write new Wills for both Chris and I over the past few months.  Attorney Monsky probably answered the same questions from me about 6 times and was exceptionally calm as I stressed over a mortgage issue dating back to 1992.  He also actually made a last minute house call in order to remove an obstacle from our closing. Finally, he's also just a really nice guy...something in all honest that I only rarely said about a lawyer.

In this part of the home equation, I brought the lawyer, but Chris brought the banker.  Our banker in this endeavor has been Debbie Saracino from M&T Bank in downtown Wilkes-Barre.  Debbie is the very definition of flexible.  Countless emails, many faxes, two conference calls, an impromptu application review and throughout it all Debbie was there at every step.

If you need a mortgage or other kinds of home financing stuff, consider contacting Debbie.

Lastly, in coordinating preparations for the house sale and getting ready to move, I needed additional storage space.  Fortunately, there is a place in Moosic that more than met my needs:  Oak Hill Self Storage.  The owner/manger is a terrific guy, and the facility is spotless and secure.  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Goodbye Scranton

In the song "Say Goodbye to Hollywood", Billy Joel wrote the line...

"Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes
I'm afraid it's time for goodbye again"

...which is a fitting way to begin this posting.

Yes, after spending the last 25 or so years of my life being a second time Scranton resident (I was born in Scranton but left the area in 1984, returning in 1989), the Electric City and I have parted ways again, probably forever.  The new home for NCFE...and it's the thriving and at the moment not under water* town of West Pittston.  In Scranton parlance I am moving to Wilkes-Barre, as every good Scrantonian knows that everything past Avoca is actually Wilkes-Boro anyway. Or so I was led to believe growing up.

Anyway, I have known that this day...or a day like it...has been coming for a while now.  

Back in 2010 I made a series of changes in my life that put me on a path where it wasn't particularly clear where I would end up, physically, mentally or otherwise.  It was a trying time, and I made some very difficult decisions; good or bad though, there are times in everyone's life where something of a leap of faith is required for there to be any true progress.  Sometimes this progress requires a stripping away of things first, and in October 2010 I had been completely and thoroughly deconstructed.  From there the reconstruction began.  I had no idea then where I would be now, which for me truly is the miraculous thing about faith.  Now that reconstruction begins to pay visual dividends. 

For the record, my definition for "faith" isn't necessarily about religion, but rather it's those big things you do when you don't necessarily have the benefit of data to support your decision. Mind you, I say this as a true Science Geek.  Anyway, faith is what you do when your head isn't of much help in the decision making process and your heart is hopelessly lost in the fray.  Faith is what's left when logic and reasoning use up all their ammunition.  I consider myself to be a highly logical and ordered human being, yet even I understand that there is a place for faith in one's life.  Faith, as much as anything else, brought me to where I am now.

Fast forward over from October 2010 and I'm turning one of those big corners in life.  You know, one of those corners that you look back on in later years and say "that's when it really changed".  And it is really changing now.  A small part of me is a tad bit, well, is almost afraid to be happy at the moment, as if there is some cosmic mojo that will be offended if I allow myself to be contagiously happy for a moment in time.  To that part of me, that feeling, I proudly proclaim the following: "Nope, not this time Sparky!".  I will enjoy this feeling, if for no other reason than the fact that I don't plan on making such moves again for a very long time to come.

As for Scranton, well I wish I could say I was optimistic about the future of the city that really should be the anchor of Northeaster Pennsylvania.  Scranton, however, has yet to hit its nadir.  While things are bad, they will be getting worse.  Probably much worse.  Like an alcoholic, Scranton is still in the...

"I know I am a drunk, but I can handle it" 

...stage.  The city has yet to hit the...

"I am a drunk and I now know that I need to change my life in order to get better"

...stage.  I don't see this changing any time soon.  Reasons?  I've written about this subject time and a time again, but it all comes down to this:  in Scranton, political logic always trumps reality.  The political logic of not wanting to offend city employees, for example, is currently far more compelling than the reality that Scranton can not afford its current workforce.  When that changes, as painful as it will be, will also be the time when Scranton turns the corner.

So goodbye Scranton.  I will be visiting, often.  Part of my employer's office is technically within city limits, and I have two beautiful college-aged daughters living in the city anyway.  I'm also not changing Scranton-based dentist and primary care physician, both of whom I have learned to trust over the years.  For those that remain in Scranton, well I wish you all the best.  Oh, and one last thing:  for God's sake vote.

(*) As in H2O; it's ironic in that I am leaving Scranton, a town that IS under a different kind of water.  For the record, my new home is not in a flood zone.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Road Apples, #143

From the temporary home/hiatus - I write this from the NCFE temporary lodging, as I am awaiting the sale of my existing home and the purchase of my new abode.  Now as I plotted this whole mess, I thought about doing one of those hiatus things that real bloggers often times do.  Then I realized that I can no more stop writing than I can stop breathing.  No matter what, the stuff flows out of me, and it might as well flow here.  Fortunately, I now have amassed enough technology such that I can pretty much blog from anywhere.

Jobs, Job, Jobs - Recent unemployment statistics released last week make Northeastern Pennsylvania number 1 again in Pennsylvania...for highest unemployment rate.  Remember, this means that NEPA has a worse economy as such garden spots as Altoona and Easton.  If you ever were looking for hard evidence for the failure of political (and economic) leadership, look no further than this statistic.  It's worth remembering when you think about this statistic that NEPA is blessed with an excellent location, a willing workforce and decent infrastructure.  So why the complete, total and repeated economic failure?

Nelson Mandela - The founder of the modern South African state, Nelson Mandela, passed away last week.  I've read many tributes from across many political lines, including a very moving one from Texas Senator Ted Cruz.  What's really interesting though is contemplating the fact that many on the hard political right in this country wanted nothing to do with Mandela back in the 80's.  In fact, Mandela was vilified as a terrorist and communist by former President Reagan.  Regardless, Mandela was a Communist sympathizer, maybe in part because many in the West were all too happy to support the former white supremacist/apartheid South African government.   If you neighbor on the right ignores you and helps your enemies, can you be blamed for looking to the left for support?  In the end, Nelson Mandela was a flawed hero, as are all heroes actually.  In my book that makes them all the more extraordinary in that it shows them as being fully human beings, just like the rest of us folks.

Rush Limbaugh - I fully enjoy the good work being done by the folks at "Flush Rush Limbaugh".  Having a group of folks dedicated to pointing out the verbal pollution being spouted by this comedian (and he is a comedian by the way, a point that many of this followers miss) in a real service to humanity.  I particularly enjoy hearing when Rush talks about issues of which he has a lot of experience, namely family values (no children), marriage (he has been married three times; his current wife is something on the order of 25 years younger than he is), the military (he dodged the draft during the Vietnam War) and drug abuse (he is an admitted abuser of prescription pain killers).

EWTN Catholic Radio - I've been listening lately to the local ETWN Catholic Radio affiliate, which  can be found at 98.9 FM in the Scranton/Wilkes-Borro area.  You can link the local affiliate's home page HERE.  A few observations:

It's a very hard-right brand of Catholicism.  

Persecution fears abound.
From listening to it, you would believe that FBI right now, as I type this, is getting ready to arrest the Catholic faithful.  Chief example:  Obamacare and contraception.  Never mind that most Catholics, including those at EWTN, would balk at the notion of an employer, for example, not covering blood transfusions*

You don't hear much about Pope Francis.  In fact, I've heard more about Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II.

They play the same 2011 Commercial from Pennsylvanian's for Human Life over and over again.

What isn't discussed on EWTN radio very often:
The poor and anything even remotely related to sexual abuse scandals.  Neither seem to exist in that slice of the radio spectrum.

All in all, it's pretty sad stuff.  In some respects I think it foster's a bunker mentality among some; if you say "we are being persecuted for our beliefs" enough times, some folks will start to actually believe it.

Now I get it...I am on the left when it comes to social issues.  But I was also raised to believe that, next to loving God, the most important thing for any Christian was to love his/her neighbor (see the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 22, verses 36-40).  That can't exist in a persecution vacuum, when 98% of your energies are spent wondering how "the man" is going to get you.  For more about the perils of being in "the bunker" seek out THIS FILM.

This isn't the Catholic Church I was raised in; this isn't the Catholic Church that was taught to me by the good sisters, servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  All of this noted, I still do pray.  Whether or not anyone listens is immaterial, for what's important is that I take the time to ask.

(*) Jehovah's Witnesses oppose blood transfusions on religious grounds.  If Catholic employers can refuse to offer health insurance that covers contraception shouldn't employers who are devout Jehovah's Witnesses be allowed to refuse coverage for blood transfusions as well?  You can read more about Jehovah's Witnesses and blood transfusions HERE.  I don't say this in any way to mock the belief system of this...or any  Heck, I admire most people of faith.  My point is about hypocrisy and being in the bunker.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

10 observations when moving your stuff

In no particular order, but for many reasons.

1.  You have more stuff than you think.
2.  Whatever amount of time you allot for moving your stuff multiply by three to get the actual time.
3.  You will find that "thing" you thought you lost a year ago, and you'll end up throwing it out anyway.
4.  Because most of your stuff isn't square, most of it will not fit nicely into packing boxes.
5.  "And on the 8th day, God created the hand-truck, and it was good."
6.  National Geographic magazines present a particularly difficult quandary.
7.  You actually, really do own 37 plastic storage containers.  You just didn't know that until now.
8.  You find more lost silverware that you never knew were lost.
9.  You discover that those lost socks went behind your washing machine to die.
10.You discover that you own more medication than is typically found in the average sub-Saharan hospital.

Friday, December 6, 2013

das Haus verlassen, #15

And so it begins...

While just buying a house if fraught with anxiety, selling and buying basically at the same time is an ulcer cocktail.  Never the less, I'm not one for doing things the easy way, so why should this be any different?

Anyway, over the next few days I am getting the current abode ready for the closing, which should happen, like, eventually.  Well eventually in the sense of it has to happen on or before the closing for the new house, which will be next Friday.  Needless to say, next week should be "interesting", to say the least.

It's now just a shell here, with just the essentials, including a computer, a nice chair and marshmallows.  One has to eat.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Days Ahead

Monday 12/02 - "normal" work day.  I was supposed to leave the office this afternoon to travel for a class that starts tomorrow morning, but I decided that less time away is better, so I'm leaving tomorrow morning.  Kudos to my VP who basically said I could cancel the class attendance if I needed to on account of the closing(s).

Tuesday 12/03 - Business travel.  Up at something like 4:30am and on the road by 5:30.  With any luck I will be back in Scranton by 8pm.  The joys and glamour of business travel.  Oh, and since I hoped organize this particular class, I think I will have some hosting responsibilities.

Wednesday 12/04 - "normal" work day, and I think my calendar is packed.

Thursday 12/05 - The great clean-n-move-out.  This is the day when I finish moving out all my stuff and get the house ready for Friday's closing.  It's also the day when JeanLuc the cat starts his 8 or 9 day kitty vacation at Springbrook Kennels & Pet resort.  I don't expect either one of us will be happy about it.  The day will probably start early and will no doubt end late.  I have a feeling that when all is said and done I'll need an Advil drip.

Friday 12/06 - Closing on this house & my official week of homelessness begins (wave to me as you pass under the Davis Street Bridge on I81).  I have to talk to the attorney about logistics, but I am hoping that I don't have to be there for the actual house closing.  I do have the day off from work, and seeing as though I already have a ton of days off from work to spare, I will probably keep it.  Some time will probably be spent fully preparing for the next closing.

Saturday 12/07 - Traveling to Philadelphia to see Chris' nieces participate in Lucia Fest at Old Swede's Church. I will be nice to get a way for the day.

Sunday 12/08 - An actual day of rest.  Maybe I will cook.  Generally speaking I hate cooking, but there are times when it is both necessary and almost therapeutic.

Monday 12/09 - A day off.  I had scheduled this day off a while ago, basically in anticipation of my house closing date changing.  With all signs pointing to a closing on the upcoming Friday, I'm hoping to actually get some Christmas shopping done.  Despite everything else going on, apparently Christmas is still on for this year.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A post that isn't about moving, home selling, home buying or anything else of a similar ilk

I was going to write, yet again, about my current all-consuming activities, but then I came to my senses.  Instead, here's just an assortment of random "stuff".

My favorite album titles
In no particular order for no particular reason:

  • Seven and the Ragged Tiger - Duran Duran; not only does it have a cool title, but it has a few good songs to boot (including one of my favorites, "New Moon on Monday").
  • Babylon and On - Squeeze; another great album that I also own that has a cool title.  "Hourglass" is a workout staple for me.
  • Learning to Crawl - The Pretenders; one my the best albums I have ever heard.  I love the back story behind the album as well.  Google it and read for yourself.  I've often times contemplated my own moments in life when I've had to "learn to crawl".  Favorite tracks?  Really, mostly all of them.  
  • Learning to Flinch - Warren Zevon; I don't own the album and I'm not especially fond of acoustic sets, but I just love the title. I don't know if Zevon was thinking about the Pretenders album when he came up with the name, but never the less it's still pretty cool.
  • The Unforgettable Fire - U2; yeah, an album titled after a description of a nuclear bomb explosion is somewhat pretentious, but I like it never the less.  "Bad" is one of my favorite songs of all time.   

Words I use to describe peanut butter
I hate peanut butter.  I despite it.  Here are a few choice words to describe it:  Acrid.  Disgusting.  Putrid.  Vile.  Vulgar.  Nauseating.  Foul.

I don't know how any human being could consume this stuff.

The Number of times BBC America has played "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"
At least 476 times, give or take a dozen.

Things that 20-somethings do that irritate me
With no offense intended to anyone, and I realize that there are plenty of younger folks who don't fall under these categories (but there are some...).

  • Pretend to be worldly - You can't be worldly and be young.  Sorry, you can't.
  • Think they are owed something - The world doesn't own you an education, a cellphone with a data plan, or a leadership position just out of college.  Speaking of education, "going to school" isn't a vocation, it's a means to a vocation.
  • Disrespect the past - Want to understand the present?  Study the past.  Don't want to study the past? Well then don't pretend that you actually understand the present.
  • Are suckers for marketing schemes - The folks at Apple must love the average 25 year old.  "Behold, the latest iThing, with new 4% larger screen!".
  • Think that things are free (that really are not free) - Basically nothing in this world is free.  Facebook?  Nah, it's not free; the cost is much of your personal information that is whored out to marketers.

Things I've recently learned to enjoy
Where "recently" is defined as being over the past 4 or 5 years:  Blogs, classical music, BBC America (especially Top Gear), English Breakfast Tea, supporting a local rescue mission, A Prairie Home Companion, stuffed chicken thighs from Gerrity's, Evernote and Mental Floss magazine.

Reasons why I really don't like the winters in Northeastern Pennsylvania

  • Parts of my skin develop a lizard-like quality.
  • Breathing in super cold air does not make my asthma very happy.
  • Two words:  Dirty snow.
  • Three words:  Dark at five.
  • People who drive Jeeps during bad weather and somehow believe that driving a Jeep makes you immune from the basic laws of physics.  Want evidence?  Drive down I84/I380 just after a major winter storm and count the Jeeps stuck between the north and south lanes.