Not Cease from Exploration

Monday, June 30, 2014

On the Beach, Day 1

I haven't been on a real beach vacation for a long time.  If one is talking about that mega-popular NEPA beach destination of Ocean City, MD, well then it has been basically forever.  In fact, the last time I was here, I looked like this...


...and for the record, that little girl seated behind me is now 26 years old.

Anyway, I love the beach.  Actually and more appropriately, I love the ocean.  As for some of what goes with the ocean, namely the carny boardwalk stuff, well, I can take that or leave it.  

With the above in mind, the next few days are being spent at the beach with Ms Rivers.  We've been going on vacations together now for a few years, and this year Ocean City Maryland is our "short vacation"; the "long vacation" comes at the end of July when we are going to Maine for a week, staying again at Southwest Harbor.  The mere fact that these vacations even happen is a true blessing, and the tiredness of a long day aside for a moment, I wouldn't trade it for the world.  

The plan for the week is to do the typical beach-y stuff, including bike riding on the boardwalk (which we did this morning).  Granted, this time around (as opposed to last, see above) I have less hair, but it was still every bit as fun.  Today also included some go-cart fun, which I have to say nearly loosened my dental implant.  Besides, there are few things more humiliating than being passed on a go-cart course by a 12 year old, repeatedly.

Also planned for the week is some light reading on my part.  By light reading I mean the following...

(photo from Amazon.com)

...which is basically a complete history of the Papacy from St. Peter onward.  Fascinating stuff, although last week while in the gym and talking to my friend John, after explaining what I do for "fun" (i.e., read stuff like this) I did get something of a strange look.  Oh well; as the young folks say, "this is how I roll".

All told, this is a good week to be on vacation.  While I am aware of what's going on around me, SCOTUS decisions well noted, I'm not overly motivated to comment one way or another.  There are also a few things going on at work which, had I been in the office today, I am sure would have caused at least some angst.  As noted above, it is a good week to disconnect.




Sunday, June 29, 2014

Construction of Mount Garbage (temporarily) On Hold

In April I posted a story about a plan by Dunmore businessman Louis DeNaples to construct an actual, real mountain made of garbage.  You can read the original posting HERE.

Well, plans for Mount Garbage are on hold, all be it just temporarily.  Link HERE.  Yes, it appears that there isn't really a concern about an actual freak'n mountain made of garbage from a conceptual standpoint; heck, I don't think anyone really cares from that perspective.  No, the concern expressed by the Department of Environmental Protection is that the weight of Mount Garbage may in fact cause abandoned coal mine voids below to collapse, potentially sending all manner of waste crap into nearby rivers, etc.

Again, it seems that most are fine with an actual, real mountain made of garbage, as Mr DeNaples "does so much for the community".  By the way, I really do admire Mr Louis DeNaples, as he is truly a self-made man.  However, admiration noted, I continue to believe that construction of a mountain composed of trash is a bad idea for NEPA.  What's worse?  The fact that so few seem to not have a problem with an actual, real mountain made of garbage in their back yard.

Got to love Dunmore:

"There is NO WAY way we'll have a methadone clinic in our safe little town!"

"Mr DeNaples is building an actual, real mountain made of garbage?  Yeah, I'm sure that will be just fine.  He's does so much for the community you know.".


As I noted in April, Mount Garbage gives new meaning to the the phrase "NEPA is a dump".

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Goodbye Old Friend

The old friend in question is this...


...my first really good camera, which I've had for many, many years.  For the record, it's a Sony Alpha 200.

Death occurred on Lake Jean at Ricketts Glen State Park last weekend.  Yes, I decided to go kayaking with Ms Rivers, and yes, I decided to bring my camera.  In defense of this seemingly bone-headed move, I have had my camera in other wet conditions before, without incident.  This time around was going to be different, as just a little bit of water got to the camera and I believe it shorted as soon as I powered it up to take a picture.  I spent a week thoroughly drying the camera out, but alas, it's gone.  I called a camera store in Edwardsville yesterday, and the owner basically told me that because of the camera's age (it came out in 2008), he might not be able to get parts for it.  What's more, because this was water damage. there was no telling what could be wrong, making the idea of a repair impractical from an economic standpoint.

I've loved using this camera.  It's traveled a lot of miles...figuratively and literally...with me over the years.  I got it many years ago out of a desire to have an additional creative outlet, and it has served that purpose very, very well.  Here are some of my favorite shots taken with the camera:

(a burning bush)

(downtown Scranton, in layers)

(more Scranton)

(Mount Desert Island, Maine)


(Corning Museum, through the looking glass)

(someone who really, really loved their trailer)


If there is any good news in all of this, it's that my lenses (with the possible exception of the one on the camera at the time it got wet) will work on more modern Sony DSLR cameras.  With some time off coming next week, including a trip to the beach for a few days, a detour to a Sony Store is in the offing.  While I am sure I can find a new camera to enjoy, nothing can take the place of the wonderful Sony Alpha 200 that saw me through so very much.  Its eye was my eye through many changes.

Rest in peace old friend.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Everything you need to know about FIFA, in about 14 minutes

FIFA is the organization that sponsors the World Cup.  Here's everything you need to know about it:


Let's all pray that the World Cup is never hosted in the United States.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bad Blogger

I confess, I have been a bad blogger.  While I have been writing, I haven't been publishing, as evidenced by the three mostly ready to go postings that are still in my draft folder.  Guilty, but with an explanation in that I've simply been mentally exhausted this week.  Physically too from time to time, but mostly mentally tired.

There was Tuesday, where I had to help facilitate a session on "Motives and Values" to a group of project management and planning professionals.  I didn't do most of the heavy lifting (a colleague graciously did), but I still did do part of it, and I was "on" for the better part of a day.  Then there was Thursday, when I really did co-facilitate a program on our leadership framework, along with the guy that mostly invented it.  Think of it as being assigned to teach an English class with Ernest Hemingway.  Oh, and the room was full of fairly high ranking folks.  No pressure.  And lastly, I discovered that I have a slot on our company's senior leadership team meeting agenda next week.  It all makes for a lot of mental drain.

Now before I go any further, let me mentally re-set for just a second.  The reality is this:  I have a great job.  I work with great people.  I am paid well.  None of the above constitutes even a sliver of a complaint on my part.  What's more, as hard as the above is, it's probably easier than the job that Brooke, my waitress in training at the restaurant last night, has to do when she shows up for work.

Add the above the normal drone of my work, plus two things I am not going to mention here, and you have my week.  Yeah!

As noted above, next week isn't going to be much better in terms of pressure, but so be it.  I say "bring it on".  I may be taking pain reliever like M&M's, but that's the price of growing old I suppose (as I may or may not have mentioned  before, I found out that I have arthritis in my left foot).  There is relief in sight though, in that I have some actual, real vacation time coming up week after next.  It's actually one of two vacation weeks planned for the summer of 2014.

Here's to vacation.  And reelin in the years...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Advice to New Fathers

Since it's Father's Day, I thought I'd share a few thoughts about what it means to be a father.  Listed in no particular order.

1.  Don't Start Too Early
You have to be smart and patient to be a good father, two traits that don't normally come to men in their 20's.

2.  Don't Start Too Late
It takes TON of energy to be a good father.  At 50 I could never be the parent of young children.  So when is the best time to become a father?  I'd say early 30's sounds about right.

3.  There Is No Manual
There is no comprehensive manual on how to be a good father.  At best, I offer the following:  look at how you were raised by your dad (or, in my case, not raised by your dad) and emulate the good things while making up for the bad.  For me, this means trying very hard to do two things for my daughters:  First and foremost, be present in their lives and second, tell them that you love them, often.

4.  There Is No Glory
Yes, today is Father's Day, but by and large it's a fairly soft holiday.  That's okay though, because being a good father means that you are really rewarded 365 days a year.

5.  Be Prepared To Take It On The Chin
Be prepared to take a verbal beating every once in a while if you are a good father.  Why?  See above:  it comes with being present in the lives of your children.  You will be taken for granted.  You will be ignored from time to time.  It all comes with the stripes, and it is all a very small price to pay for helping to shape the lives of your children.

6.  Be Honest
Being a good father means that you are honest with your children, even when others are not.  Always remember that the world is a pretty unforgiving place, so it's your job to help your children prepare for the adult world in a loving and safe way.  Don't be afraid to admit when you are wrong, but only when you are actually wrong; feigning error for the sake of temporary peace is both pathetic and counter-productive.

7.  Forgive, Often
Your children will disappoint you, just as you disappointed your parent(s).  Again, it's a price of admission.  Forgiveness is both powerful and free.  When you feel disappointed, simply let that feeling go.

8.  Work Hard
Show your children that there is value and nobility in hard work, both personally and professionally.  What they see you do they will view as important, even when they say the opposite.

9.  Learn All The Time
Set an example for your children by being a life-long learner.  Have many books around.  Be interested in current events.  Show your children that learning is an important part of everyday life.

10.  Teach Your Children To Take The Long View
The world teaches your children that happiness comes from "things" or from looking a certain way or acting a certain way.  The world teaches your children that everything has to happen "now".  Be a counterweight to the world for your children.  Teach them that real happiness doesn't come from the outside, but rather from the inside.  Teach your children the value of patience and being persistent.  Teach them that being comfortable in one's own skin is a far better goal than trying to please anyone else.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Big Men Shedding Tears

This is a relatively long article, but well worth the read.


I was really, really moved by the mission and the work of this group.  You can find out more about BACA at their website.  The group is a 501(c)(3) charity, meaning that your contributions to their good work could (depending on your individual tax situation) be tax deductible.  In a world where it is seems that there is a lot going wrong, it was nice yesterday to read about people trying to do what's right.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Congressman admits to opposing a bill in order to receive a political contribution

The contribution was $1200.

Story HERE.

The political party doesn't matter, as that sort of thing has nothing to do with a propensity towards graft.  More on that in a moment.

This does, however, raise an interesting question:  what is the Congressman's price list?  For example, I can imagine something like:

$1,200 to oppose a bill
$2,400 to actively promote a bill
$5,000 to propose the naming of a post office
$8,000 to start a rumor about a fellow member of Congress
$10,000 for an intimate dinner and photo opportunity
$15,000 for an intimate dinner, photo opportunity, and lingerie show afterwards
$20,000 for...well you get where I am going with this...

For the record, I made up the list, well all except for the $1,200 part.

The truly sad part of the above?  Well there is a lot of sad noted, but it's discouraging that some on the opposite side of the political isle will try to turn this into a case of "See, they are all like that!".  The truth of the matter is this:  corruption isn't a political ideology, rather it's a set of behaviors.  It's also a mindset.  For every Republican "on the take" there is no doubt a Democrat in equally sleazy water.  Both political parties enjoy the privileges associated with political interest group contributions.

If anything, this is a call to voters to remember that the actions...not just the words...of their elected officials matter.  It's not enough for someone to say the right things, they actually have to do the right things.  Whoring oneself out for a vote is what an electorate gets when it closes its eyes to the money in politics and instead simply basks in misguided rants of world described as being black or white, a notion that big lobbyists on both sides of the political isle actively encourage by the way.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hairy Lines

I was wondering what to call this posting, one which I really don't know what it will be about anyway, and the phrase "hairy lines" just came to me.  I swear, just right out of the blue, "hairy lines".  What are hairy lines?  Well for about the first ten seconds of the thought I didn't know what they were, but then it came to me:  hairy lines are the lines that appear when you use a marker kind of writing instrument on paper that seems very porous.  So there you go:  hairy line, and I now have a title.  Now for some content.

Behold the power of stalling in the written word.

Anyway, this is shaping up to be an interesting week.  Ms Rivers is at an industry conference for part of the week, so I have been left with very detailed instructions on how to run Casa Rivert for the next three and a half days.  Nothing I can't handle, mind you, and going to New Orleans to listen to banking industry stuff can be an absolute bore, but, it's in New Orleans, so at least the food will be good (for Ms Rivers, who has a far wider palate than I do).  Alas, I will miss her, but I am glad she gets some time away.  Besides, I had my conference time for this year in Washington DC, which met my conference attendance requirement for the next three or so years.  Or at least until "the man" makes me go somewhere.

In other news, my oldest daughter is back from her teaching assignment in Kansas City, MO, teaching English in one of the worst school districts in the nation.  She did a great job, by the way, which I think equips her to teach just about anywhere, or perhaps become a prison guard.  Either will work, as long as the job provides health benefits.

Speaking of jobs, mine could take some interesting turns over the next few weeks.  Granted that I do not expect major role changes, but no matter what I will be ending up with a new (as permanent as things get in the private sector) boss for the next few years.  That new boss could be the person I am temporarily reporting to now or it could be someone else.  Heck, it could also be someone who is also currently one of my peers.  That last scenario has happened to me in the past and, well, it is as awkward and creepy as it seems (for both the 'former peer now boss' and the 'former peer now subordinate' perspectives).  Messy?  Yes, but that's life in the fast lane.  In the end, I am firm believer in choosing my own attitude, so no matter what happens in the boss department, it will be me, not circumstances, that will firmly be in charge of my own head.  In reality the only real estate any of us own is the 1400 cubic centimeters that resides in our skulls.

Now I full get it:  the last sentence in the above paragraph makes for nice consultant-speak, and I for one freely admit that I forget that fact all the freak'n time.  But it's not about having a perfect mindset, instead it's about having just enough of a mindset to prevent your head from going down that spiral drain of despair.

Another thing to ponder, at least for me, are all of the wonderful other changes taking place in and around my existence.  For the first time in a long time I have three daughters fairly close by.  That's simply wonderful, all be it temporary, as one of the three is heading to Amherst to begin her "becoming a real-life scientist" studies in August.  There are also things I am working on in the personal development front that will probably take while to bear fruit, but which will ultimately put me in a far better place; well that or they will at least keep me out of quasi-trouble.  What things? All will be revealed in short order.

Bookshelf.  Something else I am pondering these days is the needed room for more books.  I clearly low-balled the space needed for my books, as they keep growing in number.  I also need to make sure that my "Steve-owned" as opposed to "Company-owned" books that I have in the work office have space in the home office.  Oh, and I also ordered two more books on Friday night (neither of which have anything to do with anything I do professionally, but, they looked cool).  Anyway, I am thinking about a six foot high white bookshelf for the office, maybe about three or so fee wide.  Time to do some IKEA browsing.  Nothing quite solves a storage problem as well as fashionable, reasonably priced, assemble-yourself furniture from a store that is painted like a giant Swedish flag.




Friday, June 6, 2014

Road Apples, #150

It's been a heck of a week...and then some.  My cup runnith over with changes, both at home and at work, but that's okay; to quote Heraclitus, "The only thing that is constant is change.".  I really and truly do believe that it is possible to learn to handle change well.  Yes, I think we all may get that initial sinking feeling in our guts when we get a bit of unexpected news, but in the end we decide whether that sinking feeling is a blip in time or whether it becomes an all-consuming black hole.  It's almost a higher brain vs instinctive brain kind of thing.

The 100...is one of the better science fiction shows to come along in a while.  You can catch it on Hulu.  The actor that plans Councillor Kane, Henry Ian Cusick, is simply outstanding (it helps that the Mr Cusick's character is exceptionally well written).

Solid State Portable Drives...I was thinking about buying one, although I really don't need one.  That might be some kind of "Geek Test" - You might be a Geek if you randomly covet tech that you really don't need anyway.

News from the Flat Earth Society...The Texas GOP will most likely add a provision in their official party platform that endorses so-called "Reparative Therapy".  Reference HERE.  As for me, I no more think that Johnny can be more made "un-gay" than he could be made "gay" in the first place.  I know this to be true on an instinctive level because I am not gay, and quite frankly there is nothing that could, in fact, make me gay.  That's okay though, because I personally don't give darn what anyone's sexuality is, or is not.  It's none of my business and by extension I am also comfortable saying that it is none of the Texas GOP's business either.  Anyway, don't take my word for it that reparative therapy is full of crap, but rather take the words of the professional societies that actually know stuff about psychological well-being.  To that end, I note the following:

"According to the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, (NARTH) the only mental health professional organization that promotes reparative therapy, a number of organizations formed a coalition to oppose reparative therapy. The group includes:

bulletAmerican Academy of Pediatrics
bulletAmerican Counseling Association
bulletAmerican Federation of Teachers
bulletAmerican Medical Association
bulletAmerican Psychiatric Association
bulletAmerican Psychological Association
bulletThe Interfaith Alliance
bulletNational Association of School Psychologists
bulletNational Association of Social Workers
bulletNational Association of Secondary School Principals
bulletNational Education Association
bulletNew Ways Ministries
bulletPeople for the American Way. 17"

Citation HERE.  And HERE.  And HERE.  In the end, if it's not broken, it doesn't need to be fixed (or repaired in this case).

In Other News...After dealing with a weighty topic such as trying to un-gay people, I think it's time to end this on a higher note.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Sting.





Sunday, June 1, 2014

Indulgence

Permit me one "proud Dad" indulgence, as my middle daughter just graduated cum laude with her BS in Biology.  After graduation she will be continuing her education at a prestigious New England university.


No matter what else happens to me in what's left of my life, one thing will never change:  God has blessed me with three beautiful and incredibly smart daughters.