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Thursday, November 27, 2014

50 Reason to Give Thanks

Simply because I can, and in no particular order.

I am thankful for:
  1. The small physical challenges I have, because they are in fact small and because they serve to remind me that our bodies are not to be taken for granted.
  2. The Beatles.  All You Need Is Love.
  3. My cat JeanLuc and his step-brother, Tiger.  Cats remind us not to take ourselves so seriously, mainly because they never take us very seriously.
  4. My home office, which may not be Superman's Fortress of Solitude or the Batcave, but it is never the less my place.
  5. The gift of being able to continue my education.  It's one class at a time, but so far I've had outstanding instructors and I'm managing to learn some stuff.
  6. My past, as it was my path to today and because it serves to chart my future.
  7. Emily Dickinson, who was Emo long before there even was Emo, and who reminds me all the time to seek beauty in simplicity.
  8. My job, which supports me and mine, and which provides me with a purpose in life.
  9. An inquisitive mind, which has served me well.
  10. Kittens, because they are one of the best antidepressants out there.
  11. Dr Hunter S. Thompson, who was the first to teach me that being a little weird is, in fact, okay.
  12. Dunkin Donuts, for their version of the Cronut.  It's darn good and well worth the 300 calories (once in a while).
  13. The Keystone Rescue Mission Alliance for all the  good that they do and the honor that I have in supporting them in a small way.
  14. Rebecca Albert, for always allowing me to  call her "Stinky" (despite being 21 years old) and for being the hardest working person I know.  I love you Stinky!
  15. Every clothing manufacturer that makes the size Extra Large Tall.  Words can not describe how frustrating it is to wear a shirt that is too short or being forced to wear a shirt that is too wide.
  16. Sylvester Stallone, for making the Rocky movies.  I don't like fighting, but I love stories of individuals who beat the odds.
  17. Christine Elizabeth Rivers, who is a gift from God to me. Here's to the second half of our lives together.
  18. A&W, for making the best diet Root Beer on the planet.
  19. The gift I have to not hold on to anger or bitterness.  
  20. Militant Right Wing Catholic Radio, for entertaining and enraging me.  We all need to listen to ideas and opinions we may not agree with from time to time.
  21. My coal stove, which requires effort to produce heat.  There is something noble about having to actually work for something, be it a paycheck or warmth in the winter.
  22. Everyone who does not call me "Albert".  I really don't like being called by my last name.  Just saying.
  23. The health professionals who keep me running, including Dr James McKenna (my family doctor) and Dr Jan Charnitski (my dentist).  I am grateful to have healthcare professionals who are both extremely competent at what they do and also honest with me.
  24. Korin Albert, who is one of the smartest people I know, and I'm  not just saying that because she is my daughter.  I love you Korin!  Be careful up in Amherst!
  25. Photography, which I thoroughly enjoy, even if I don't get to do it very much.
  26. My sister Michele and the fact that technology has allowed us to reconnect.
  27. Gary, my brother Rich's dog.  I'm not a dog person (see #3), but Gary is just about the happiest, most uplifting and wonderful creature ever to walk the Earth (on 4 paws), and I know he brings my brother real joy.
  28. God.
  29. Boston Mint Tea, the greatest mint tea on the planet.
  30. High quality socks. There is a world of difference between cheap and high quality socks, and they are a worthy indulgence.
  31. Katrina Albert, who lives her passion for helping children and young adults. The best spot in life is to paid to do what you love while also making a difference, which is what Kate does every day. I love you Trini-Bug!
  32. The ability to express myself in writing. I simply couldn't survive without the ability to describe what I feel, hear and see around me.
  33. Mr Rogers, who continues to impart simple wisdom. 
  34. My religious upbringing, which has helped form me. To get to here I needed to go through there.
  35. My brothers, with whom I experienced so much with while growing up.
  36. The gift of temperance.
  37. My co-workers, both now and in the past, who always see more value in me than I ever see in myself.
  38. My Mom, who taught me much by example, even when that example was an unintended "don't be like me".
  39. Berkeley Breathed, for creating Bloom County.
  40. Saturday morning routines.
  41. The family of Ms Rivers, who from the very first introduction have treated me so very well.
  42. The gift of empathy.
  43. Living in the United States of America, which represents the very best and worst that humanity has to offer.
  44. The clarity of thought that comes with growing older. 
  45. The ability to laugh, sometimes at the dumbest of things. It doesn't take much to entertain me.
  46. Those who have taught and mentored the professional me over the years.  My first "real" manager was a housewares buyer named Tina Veverka, who was incredibly kind and patient with me.  Since then I have worked for some great people, up to the present day.
  47. All those who serve now or who have served our country in the military.  We have because they gave.
  48. A (mostly) positive attitude, which I firmly believe is the greatest attribute anyone can have in life.
  49. Daniel Goleman, Melody Beattie, Daniel Pink, Brene Brown, Gordon Livingston, Tal Ben-Shahar, Jim Palmer and countless other authors who have written books that have helped make me a thoughtful, better person, be it personally or professionally.
  50. Everyone who reads this blog, be it once or repeatedly.  I am honored that you have let me share small snippets of my life with you over these past 6 or so years.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dunmore Council approves the building of an actual mountain made of garbage

The posting title is not from The Onion, but has actually happened.

Reference THIS article in the Tuesday, November 25th edition of the Scranton Times.

Here's a key paragraph from the article:

"Council member Paul Nardozzi told the crowd that previous council members had attempted to negotiate a better deal with the DeNaples brothers even before the 1999 agreement that gave Dunmore only the state minimum fee. They denied those requests but offered to help the borough in other ways, he said. "

Let me translate Dunmore-speak into English:  "They told us no, and we simply said 'Yes sir, thank you for the free turkey!'."

Look, I have no issue with the DeNaples family, their businesses, or anyone who wants to make living in an honest and fair way.  This particular action though goes way over the top.

What I do have an issue with here is a simple fact:  they are building a mountain out of garbage, and the beneficiaries will not be the community, future generations, the environment, the economy or anything else of the sort.

The community will have a mountain made out of garbage FORVER.

Future generations will look at this monstrosity and wonder "Why in the Hell did they do that?".

The environment will be put at risk through the possible contamination of ground water.

The only economy that will end up growing as a result of this will be that of the DeNaples family.

Congratulations Dunmore Borough Council:  you once again never failed to fail because it was the easiest thing to do.  Now go off to see Mr DeNaples, get a nice pat on the head, and maybe snag one of those free turkeys.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

10 Reasons Why There Is Nothing Funny About Clowns.

I don't like clowns, and I sure as heck don't find them funny.  What's to like?
  1. They have pale faces.  Pale, as in white.  Pale as in dead.
  2. They have blood red lips.
  3. They have disorganized, stringy hair.
  4. They have freakishly big feet.
  5. They come up to you, invading your personal space.
  6. They are either way too happy or way too sad.  Manic depression anyone?
  7. They sometimes appear in "clown gangs".
  8. They have red noses:  Tumor or raging alcoholism?
  9. They have an almost unnatural attraction to children.
  10. They wear extremely baggy clothes, no doubt hiding things (like balloon animals and meat cleavers).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bill Cosby

I was 8 years old in 1972, when the cartoon "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" began on television.  Yes, I had more than a few kids come up to me and make such enlightened comments as...

"Do you know Fat?"

...or just simply...

"Hey, hey, hey"

It didn't help matters that, around this time, we had a cat and, well you guessed it, we named him "Fat" (get it, "Fat Albert"?).

Anyway, those were my more or less fond memories of Bill Cosby.  These days a cartoon about a morbidly obese child aren't what comes to mind when I think of Mr Cosby.

For the unenlightened, Mr Cosby is facing accusations that he has sexually assaulted and/or raped a large number of women over the years.  You can read about it HERE.  It's not a pretty read.  Of course, this being the culture of the salacious in the Internet age, there are thousands of experts out there opining that the women in question are simply gold-diggers or that Mr Cosby is a serial rapist who has used his star power and squeaky clean reputation to silence his critics.  Me?  I simply say ENOUGH already!

Here are the facts as I understand them:

  • Multiple women have accused Mr Cosby of sexual assaults.
  • Mr Cosby settled a civil lawsuit with at least one of accusers.
  • Settling a civil lawsuit doesn't mean that Mr Cosby is guilty.
  • Mr Cosby has never been criminally charged for any of allegations made against him.
  • It's impossible to know the motivations of every women who has made an allegation against Mr Cosby.  

In my book, claiming that every woman who has accused Mr Cosby is simply a "Gold Digger" is is convicting Mr Cosby even before he has been charged with a crime.

Internet "experts" need to stop engaging in victim shaming, which sometimes is just very thinly disguised misogyny.

Other "experts" need to stop with the cyber-lynching mobs, as Mr Cosby is innocent until proven guilty of a crime.

In the end, we have to let the criminal justice system work, even if it means that we have to be, gasp, patient.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

My comment made to the blog "Another Voice"

Refer to THIS POSTING on the blog Another Voice:  Reflections about Contemporary Catholic Belief and Practice.

* * * * * * * * * *

This is an easy one: When your compelling reason to believe is acceptance of a bunch of rules simply because (mostly) older white guys wearing funny hats say you have to obey the rules…as opposed to providing a positive, compelling reason to have faith…then of course there will be disenchantment. This isn't 1900 anymore, and younger folks have access to a wide variety of ideas and opinions when it comes to many thing, including faith.
Now I know faith shouldn't be like buying mustard at the supermarket (i.e. you “buy” the cheapest or the nicest tasting), but nor should it be about “we said it should be this way…because we’re Bishops and we say so” either. There are real, compelling reason to have faith in Christ and His Church, but sadly, much of that gets lost in a sea of regimentation, rules, and social issue bantering that sounds (especially to younger folks) more like HATE than it does FAITH. Having religious leaders saying that someone who is gay suffers from being “inherently disordered” precisely proves my point. Where is the evidence of FAITH and COMPASSION in that kind of statement?
Just my two cents.
Love the blog by the way.
Steve Albert
West Pittston, PA

Friday, November 14, 2014

Road Apples, #155

Scranton's Taxpayers...are going to take 19% hit on their property taxes next year, according to news reports.  As I've said many, many, many times before, Scranton's doesn't have a revenue problem, it has an expense problem.  City leaders can raise taxes all they want, and in the end it will never be enough.

Once Every Two Years...I've gotten my "once every two years" cold this week, which in part explains why I haven't written much.  Actually, I take that back (the writing part...), as I've been working on something, but it's one of those "may never see the light of day" kind of things.  I really have a had a cold though.

Feelings...Why does it feel as if I am in a perpetual state of always trying to catch up on stuff?  Be it at home, work or school, I'm always seeming to be chasing something.

Blogging...I was pondering the following the other day:  "If I lost my job and I had to find something new, what would I do with this blog?.  Job search professionals would probably tell me that I have too much disturbing/controversial/bat $hit crazy stuff here, all of which might hamper my job hunting prospects.  Personal digital footprint and the like, don't you know, and I suspect that my career prospects which would involve working for any elected official or school district in this area would be slim to none anyway.  I guess I should concentrate on keeping my job then.

Kim Kardashian...has created an Internet stir with her nekid butt and (now) front pictures on-line.  Yawn.  I don't see what the big deal is, honestly I do not.

  1. There are a tons of nude pictures on-line already.
  2. Anything can cause an "Internet sensation".
What the world actually needs to do is to stop allowing people to be famous for simply being famous.  How about that for a change?  Now excuse me while I go look at pictures of cats that look like Adolf Hitler (also known as "Kitlers").

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day 2014

Because some gave all.

(Arlington National Cemetery, July 2013)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The circle is complete and I am moving to the dark side

It started with an iPhone.

Then I got an iPad.

Now it's going to be a Mac.

Yes, the circle is complete and I am now (almost) fully gone to the dark side.

Actually, and as with most things these days, the story is a bit more complex than I am making it.  We need a new downstairs computer for school work and the like, as the machine used by Ms Rivers' sons has been fully and completely jacked up full of all manner of badware.  If that computer were a person, it would look like the late Johnny Thunders after  trip to the "all you can inject heroin buffet".

(photo from THIS website)

So clearly, the youngsters need a computer and well I have a great one that just received a RAM upgrade (the computer in question is an Acer running at 1.65GHz, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive), so I say donate it to the cause.  This, of course, means that I have to get another desktop computer.  

What to do?  Well, I've been a Windows user since before there were Windows.  I also have some experience using Ubuntu, so it's pretty logical that in order to complete my operating system education I should get an Apple product.  Or that's the excuse I am giving myself.

Now I also have a pretty sweet set-up for my current desktop that includes a monitor stand that allows my to clear my desk surface when I need some extra room.  This means that while an enormous Apple Retina Display screen would look cool, it wouldn't be very practical.  Another consideration is the fact that I have a nice 21.5" HD display that I really would like to continue to use.  Lastly, I really don't want a laptop at the moment, has I have a nice (and small) Lenovo that is infinitely portable and works well.

The solution?  A Mac Mini.  With it I can keep my display unit and re-use my keyboard and mouse.  I can also get an up grade from my current machine.  The latest incarnation of the Mac Mini comes in three flavors, one of which is actually slower than my Acer, so that entry level machine is off the list.  The other two flavors have faster chipsets, so either will do me well.  Another consideration is RAM:  the new Mac Mini's have RAM chips that are soldered into the motherboard, which means that I would  buy a lot upfront, as there will be no upgrades.

The best choice for me?  I'm getting the second tier Mac Mini but adding 8GB more RAM (up to the maximum of 16GB) and I'm also buying the separate unit optical drive as well.  I should end up with a faster machine, the same amount of total HD space and I get to learn the OS X operating system.  Here is a side-by-side comparison of my current Acer vs the Mac Mini:

                      Acer                                    Mac Mini
Processor:     AMD E-450/dual core        Intel dual core i5
Speed:           1.65GHz                             2.6GHz
Graphics:      Radeon HD                         Intel Iris
HD:               1TB 5400rpm                     1TB 5400 rpm
RAM:            4GB, upgraded to 16GB     8GB, buying 8GB more

As an added plus, the Mac will have 4 USB 3.0 ports.

A win all around.  I love technology, even if I end up burning in Hell with Steve Jobs, tormented by the souls of all those Foxconn workers who committed suicide while making iStuff.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Voter #39, West Pittston, PA

In my adult life, I've only failed to vote in just two elections, and I'm glad to report today did not add to that list.  A few random, but related, thoughts -

  • Tom Corporate - Doing my part to send Tom Corbett home.  He can "just close his eyes" on election evening when the results start coming in.
  • Rick Santorum - It's too bad Rick Santorum isn't running for anything, as I always enjoy not voting for Pennsylvania's most smug politician.  Wait, isn't he now Maryland's most smug politician now?  I lose track...
  • Bob Mellow John Blake - Sadly, since I've moved I don't get to vote against convicted criminal Bob Mellow's hand picked successor, John Blake.  It's amazing how a man can hold a seat in the Pennsylvania Senate, represent NEPA, and yet manage to NOT get involved in some of the most pressing issues facing the area.  For example, I've never heard Senator Mellow offer any suggestions as to how the largest city in his district, Scranton, can get out of it's perpetual fiscal pickle; no, Senator Blake is apparently happy sitting at arm's length, instead touting his "values" in campaign literature.  
  • Tom Wolf - I'll confess that Tom Wolf doesn't excite me very much as a candidate, but that's okay.  He was far more tolerable than some of the other Democratic contenders.  Note to (hopefully future Governor) Wolf:  You'll have to deal with the pension crisis, and if you want to actually solve it, you'll end up making some of your union friends unhappy.  Welcome to public service.
  • Democrats - will likely lose the U.S. Senate, due mainly to the establishment wing of the GOP keeping the Tea Baggers at bay during the primary election.  Good for them!  Maintaining the status quo (divided Congress, Democratic President) wasn't getting anything done anyway.
  • Republicans - will actually have to try and govern.  No more running against Harry Reid boys and girls.  Also, presidential primary posturing is sure to incite the Tea Bagger loonies, so it's not a given the the GOP will have anything near a united front in Congress, even with majorities in both chambers.
Lastly, I'd really like to find out where all of that "gambling revenue will eliminate property taxes" money went.  Since just about everyone running for the state legislature had eliminating property taxes as a top priority, maybe something will actually get done (excuse me for a moment while I laugh myself into a seizure).

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Road Apples, #154

See Ya October!  I am damn glad October is over with.  Among other things...
  • It's just generally a crappy month for me (see last post)
  • I was  responsible for a major company learning event, which went well (thanks mainly to a wonderful group of folks), but which stressed the heck out of me
  • I finished my first graduate course
  • I started my second graduate course
  • I had to facilitate a session with my larger team on our employee opinion survey results; that in and of itself would be pretty stressful, but two days before I was scheduled to be "on", events dictated that my plan would have to be mostly re-done

I could go on, but again, I'm just glad it's over with.  On the good news front, I lost about 11 pounds.  More on that in a moment.

Elections, #1...Speaking of things that I hope end soon, we have the general election on Tuesday.  I was in Hartford for a few days this past week, and it became infinitely clear that the governor's race there is far tighter than it is here.  Based on the advertisements I saw on television, the challenger for the governor's office, a Mr Foley, is either a genius with all the answers of the very incarnation of Satan himself.

Elections, #2...Speaking of character definition via the media, I've gotten a ton of advertisements for the two candidates running to be my state representative, namely Ms Cipriani (Democrat) and Mr Kaufer (Republican).  Here's the odd thing:  on the biggest issue I see in the race, namely local property taxes, both candidates have the same basic platform.  Now I'll note that I'm going to vote for Ms Cipriani, and here's why...
  • She seems to have some governmental experience; I'm not sure of Mr Kaufer.  Now I don't necessarily think that this is a requirement, but at a local level I do think it helps.
  • The GOP has been in control of the state legislature and the governor's office for a while now, and property taxes have actually gone up.  What makes me think that if Mr Kaufer is elected that will change?
  • Mr Kauffer is touting the drug testing of welfare recipients as a campaign issue.  Here's my thought on that topic: show me the cost/benefit analysis of how such a program will work and make sense.  Also, if a welfare  recipient is taking drugs and as a result loses benefits, what happens to their their children?  This is one of those "appeal to the emotions of angry white people" platform planks that I find disturbing.
Weighty Matter...As noted above, so far since about the beginning or October I've lost about 11 pounds.  Why?  Well, I can list about a dozen reasons, including the fact that my weight has ballooned over the past 6-8 months.  If I keep going, this will be my 3rd major weight loss since I was 40.  All told, I've lost in the neighborhood of 120 pounds over the years, only to see it put back on.  I know, it's not healthy.  Like sleep, I have bad relationship with eating.  I know how to eat well, and when I focus I actually do make good choices.  The problem though is that it takes so much focus that it's almost overwhelming.  I need to find a better balance, and my tactic this time around is to do just that:  focus on the positive aspects of keeping my weight at a reasonable level, not focus on deprivation, and try to better understand how I am feeling when I am tempted to make bad eating choices.  I'm also using some technology this time around, namely an iOS app called "Tap and Track".  You can read about it HERE, and I highly recommend it.

Time Change...We "fell back" on Saturday night.  For the life of me I don't understand why we do this in the first place.  We're just shuffling the clock a bit.