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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Marriage Equality: What Happens Next?

Gays will get married.

What will not be happening?
  1. That pastor will not be setting himself on fire.
  2. The federal government will not force priests, ministers, pastors, rabbis or any other religious to marry gay people.
  3. The federal government will not "go after" the tax-exempt status of churches that disagree with marriage equality.
  4. Politicians of both parties will not stop using this as a wedge issue for the sole purpose of garnering more political power for themselves.
  5. Hypocritical bigots like Rush Limbaugh will not shut up.
  6. ETWN, Ave Maria Radio, the Westboro Baptist Church and the like will not stop continuing to claim that this is an abomination by selectively quoting biblical scripture*.
  7. No one will go to Canada to escape marriage equality (which has already existed in the Great White North for about a decade already).
  8. There will not be more gay people, although hopefully more gay people will be comfortable being their authentic selves now.
  9. No heterosexual couple will have their rights taken away.
  10. This will not result in people marrying animals, inanimate objects or polygamy. 
In the end, all you need is love.

(*) Refer to THIS posting.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What to do on Father's Day (sans a father)

Father's Day was a non-holiday when I was growing up.  Heck, I don't even remember it being discussed, pretty much ever.  Of course it needs to be noted that, if I added up all the time I actually spent with my father as I was growing up it might add up to a day or two.  Mostly the encounters were short affairs of a half hour or so, taking place in some flop-house hotel or at one time or another in a bar.  As a side note it's amazing how smells have a memory all their own; to this very day I remember that smell of beer, cigarettes and poorly circulating air.  But so I digress.

How exactly does a young man even process the above?

That's an actual question, by the way.  I really don't completely know how I processed it at the time.  I do know that growing up I was, at times, both angry and deeply saddened that I didn't actually have a functional father.  The anger never represented itself as any kind of rebellion, instead it was just this kind of gnawing reality that sat inside my head.  There was a dose of self-pity in the thoughts back then, although that kind of acknowledgement only came with the benefit of older age.  In a broad sense I am grateful, for far too many young men who have grown up without fathers probably did engage in far more open forms of rebellion.  Me?  It mostly created a desire on my part to be a good father, the kind I didn't have in my own life.  My children can weigh in on my funeral...a long time into the future.

On to the present.  I can tell you that, in a spirit of complete honesty, I don't actually process this kind of stuff these days.  In fact, outside of recollection needed for this posting (the bulk of which was mostly written on Father's Day), I spend no time thinking about it.  Actually I spend virtually no time thinking about the past in general, which has been a revelation of sorts over the past few years.  Or at least I aspire not to.  Learning that the past really is just a series of prior "nows" is actually comforting.  Yes, I do  try and learn from the past, but unless dwelling on it serves a purpose for the present then it's simply not worth the caloric expenditure.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day, 2015

Ten thoughts on what I think makes a good father.

* * * * * * * *

A good father is someone who knows that the job of a parent is to teach their children how to be functional, independent adults.  Sometimes that means giving them things.  Other times that means not giving them things.

A good father is someone who teaches and demonstrates the value of life-long learning.  It doesn't matter what his children are learning, by the way, just as long as they keep learning something.

A good father is someone who who is both humble and confident.

A good father is someone who works hard and therefore demonstrates the value and nobility that can be found in hard work.

A good father is someone who laughs with his children.

A good father is someone who teaches his children the value of questioning, everything.  What is true in this world will withstand questioning; what is not won't.

A good father is someone who listens to music, and encourages his children to listen to music.

A good father is someone who is not perfect, but in that imperfection teaches his children that no one is, in fact, perfect.  And that's okay.

A good father is someone who demonstrates to his children that life is full of wonder and opportunities.

A good father is someone who knows when and how to be there for this children.  Sometimes it's not a good idea to prevent the fall, but it's always a good idea to be there to help pick up the pieces.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Re-Posting: "Celebrating" The Confederacy

I've never re-posted content here before, but recent events seem to make it a good idea.

From April 8, 2010.

I'll also note that this particular posting generated dozens of hate e-mails/hate comments, as well as a threat or three.

* * * * * * *

"Celebrating" The Confederacy

It was reported in multiple news outlets recently that Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell issued a proclamation designating April as "Confederate History Month" without referencing, in any fashion, the very reason for the existence of the Confederacy in the first place: the grossly immoral institution of slavery.

Well it appears that the governor's plan went askew, as people did notice the omission and the reaction was not positive. As a result, the proclamation has been amended. See story link HERE. As quoted from the governor's office and referenced in the article:

"The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed." 

The revised proclamation has the following additional text:

(slavery) "was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders." 

What, you think so? As I noted in a comment on NEPArtisan's blog, not referencing slavery when discussing the Confederacy is like not mentioning the Holocaust when talking about NAZI Germany. Make no mistake about it:
  • The Confederacy's claim of "states rights" as an excuse to do whatever the hell it wanted was conceptually repeated by the NAZI Party in their unraveling of the Weimar Republic.
  • The actions of Confederate soldiers were no more honorable than the actions of the Wehrmacht. German soldiers fought to maintain Hitler's evil regime; Confederate soldiers fought to maintain Jefferson Davis' evil regime. "Protecting their homeland" you say? Well then you can make the same argument about the Gestapo I suppose.
  • The reason for existence of the Confederacy, which boils down to the notion that white people are better than black people and therefore have a God-given "right" to own them like livestock, is no more noble than Hitler blaming the Jews for every ill that befell Germany.
In the final analysis, apparently Governor McDonnell was hoping that the Revisionist History Fairy would be visiting Virginia and somehow make people forget about that little detail called "slavery" and instead have us all believe that Confederate soldiers were just a bunch of patriots who whistled Dixie as they fought to protect their farms from the "evil" federal government. Well guess again. There are few things more evil than the notion that some humans are equivalent to livestock, so there is at least some comfort here in knowing that the governor's best laid plans have gone asunder.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Road Apples, #161

We Shall Over Comb...Remember when you were in grade school and there was this obnoxious, bragging rich kid in your class?  Well now he's all grown up and running for president.  Yes, "The Donald" is officially, well maybe, a presidential candidate.  That is until he quits.  Which he will.  Anyway, it's great fodder for more than a few cute Internet graphics.

Allow me to  be blunt for just a moment:  If you actually feel that Donald Trump would make a good president, then I honestly believe that you may in fact suffer from some form of brain damage.  Donald Trump isn't a candidate...he's a punchline.  I'd vote for Rafael Cruz before I'd vote for Donald Trump.

By the way, don't just take my word for how much of a joke this's what noted conservative Charles Krauthammer had to say about Donald Trump.

"  Appearing on Fox News’ “Special Report” Thursday, Krauthammer cited a recent poll of current and likely 2016 Republican candidates whom respondents said they would “never” vote for.
“It is led by Donald Trump, with a deserved 59 percent,” Krauthammer told host Bret Baier.  "
Citation HERE.  Note the key word "deserved".  In the world of Republican on Republican rhetoric that was a major "diss", and while I don't always agree with Charles Krauthammer, I do read his columns and for the most part I think he's a pretty level-headed guy.


Cousin Name Dropping Department...My cousin got an unexpected plug from none other than Mr Andy Palumbo in a recent blog posting of his; you can see it HERE.

Live Blog-O-Week...Yes, I was named "blog-o-week" by the Harold and the other good folks at NEPA Bloggers.  You can see the write-up HERE.  Trust me, this honor has nothing to do with quality of content.  Maybe they ran out of other people to name.  Anyway, thanks for the mention Harold!

Here's a Picture of My Cat...JeanLuc Albert, reacting to the Donald Trump announcement.

By the way, he's sitting on the draft/work in progress seating chart for the upcoming nuptials.  Perhaps he is bemoaning his lack of an invitation.  Anyway, as kitty credo goes, "if I fits, I sits".

I Hate My Mac...I really do.  Worst file management system in the world.  I know, I know, I need to spend more time learning how to use it, but it's just so un-intuitive.  Some things you can double click on; some things have an open button.  Some things you can't click on at all.  Some things you can drap and drop.  Some things can't be dragged and dropped.  Icons just happen to bounce from time to time.  It's not the virtually virus free platform some would have you belief.  Anyway, rant concluded.  Things were much easier back in the says of Windows XP.  Note that I equally hate Windows 8.

Diversity vs. Inclusion...As I've learned over the past few weeks, here's the difference between the concepts of "diversity" and "inclusion".

Diversity is being invited to the party.
Inclusion is being asked to dance.

For the record I hate parties and I am a horrible dander, but the analogy still seems to work never the less.

Speaking of Diversity...We have the case of the now former president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, Rachel Dolezal, and her claim to effectively be "black in spirit".  You can catch an interview with Ms Dolezal HERE.  I obviously don't know this lady, but something seems just, well, odd about the whole thing.  Some are making comparisons to the whole Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner change, but I'm not buying that one for a moment.  Why?  Well the previously mentioned Jenner has been pretty up front, it seems, with the notion of that "was born with a male body, but I know I am a female".  Ms Dolezal seems far more circumspect, and almost seems to have been hiding her birth racial identity.  There are deeper personal issues at play here with this young lady; here's to her being granted some peace.

You Can Follow Me on Twitter...I've had a Twitter account since I started this blog in 2008, but I never really used it.  Twitter just seems too hip for me.  Anyway, I decided that I don't have enough electronic distractions in my life, so I've actually fired the account up.  You can find me at Stephen Albert (@steve_albert) .

Monday, June 15, 2015

Five Cool Things About Planning a Wedding (when you are older)

First and Foremost:  It's Our Prerogative 
Ms Rivers and I are paying for this, so we pretty much get to do whatever the heck we want.  For example, the wedding invitations can be somewhat non-traditional.  This idea carries forward into some of the other aspects of it all as well.  Heck, if we wanted a theme wedding where we each dressed up as for favorite characters from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (Don't worry...I'm talking first season, not that dreadful second!)...

...we could actually do it.  Mind you we're not actually going to do this (but if we did, who could we get to come as Twiki?), but it's the concept that's important.

For the record, there is no scenario under which Ms Rivers would ever agree to a themed wedding, least of all one involving Gil Gerard.

A half chocolate, half banana wedding cake.
Yup, try that one on for size.  Oh, no nuts either.  Ever.  And no weird fruit fillings.  Or any fruit fillings.  Wait, is "banana" considered a fruit filling?  Never mind.  But still, no nuts.

You can have the music that you like, no matter how old or lame.
There will be no chicken dance.  Still deciding on "the electric slide", as that's the one dance I can, in fact, do.  We did have to work at finding enough up-temp/dance songs though.  Thank God for K.C. and the Sunshine Band.

It's less about formality and more about fun.
Our idea, from the very start, was that when we got married we were going to have a simple ceremony coupled with a party for family and some friends.  That's it.  No over-thinking.  No schmaltzy stuff that is done "because you do that at a wedding".  No babushkas allowed.  No weird circle dance for you to fight to get to your bride stuff.  If it came to that, then I'd bring a taser. 

No drama.  No egos.  No gifts to return.
We are both blessed many times over in many ways, including the fact that we pretty much have everything we need*.  As a result, we really like the idea of telling our guests that their simple presence is the only gift they need to bring.

(*) Although if someone wants to "give" me a 1968 VW bug, white, with an autostick I'd certainly be open to it.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

My Advice to a Recent High School Graduate


No one, not anyone, owes you anything. Real freedom comes from being able to make your own way in this world.  Dependence = Slavery.

We are, all of us, equally dysfunctional. Never assume you & your situation is any better or worse than anyone else's, because in totality it's simply not.

Arrogance is a synonym for "stupidity".

Yes, plan for the future & don't ignore past mistakes, but don't let the past or the future keep you from living in the present.

Be respectful to everyone, even those who you believe are un-deserving of your respect. Why?  Being respectful is about who you are; it’s not about anyone else.

Always be kind to others, especially those who serve you.

Anger & holding grudges are toxic. It does nothing to those you are angry at & instead it poisons your soul.

Truly smart people spend their lifetimes learning; truly stupid people think they already know it all.

The only person you are ever capable of "fixing" is you.  Don't bother trying to fix anyone else, as you will be just wasting your time and theirs.

If the ground doesn't agree with the map, then the map is wrong. If the map is wrong then you need to stop following it.  This applies to driving and to life in general.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

#86, HR Trainers

I've had a quasi-corporate trainer role now for something like 14+ years, all of it working in Human Resources.  The first stint of my traineriness was purely technical stuff, that is showing people how to "do things" on system, to complete processes, etc.  Over time that evolved into far less technical work and far more performance consulting, leadership development and some organization design.  I also look for opportunities to do work in compensation, employee relations and other HR disciplines.

The above is something of a set-up for a premise of sorts:  In the world of HR, there is a certain pecking order of positions.

1.  Head of Human Resources
This is usually a Senior Vice President role.  Often times, this person is the HR consultant to the head of the company.  This person is entirely responsible for the HR department.

2.  HRBP
Human Resources Business Partner.  These are usually Vice President roles, and they provide support to key senior business leaders.  They also supervise the staff that conduct the day-to-day work of HR.

3.  HRC
Human Resources Consultant.  Think of these are being daily HR support to the business and it's leaders.

4.  Specialists
These could be specialists in the areas of compensation (which can be very technical stuff), employee relations, benefits, organizational design (OD), organizational effectiveness (OE...technically what I do, at least according to my title) or others specialized fields.

5.  HRA
Human Resources Associate.  These are the folks at an HR front desk and the ones that do much of the daily work associated with helping employees solve day-to-day problems.  They are the unsung heroes of HR.

Continue on for roles 6-85

86.  HR Trainers (or the fancy name of "L&D", learning & development)
I say this as someone who has done/still does do some of this work, and I say it with much love.

Simply put, training isn't normally a glamorous gig and when you do this kind of work in an HR department, it's sometimes not actually respected all that much.  Why?  Well HR is a knowledge-based business; intellectual capital specific to HR disciplines means a lot, as does access to information.  It's also an area where the need for confidentiality reaches nearly epic levels.  The phrase "need to know basis" is effectively a set of marching orders, and more often than not, trainers simply don't need to know.  Heck, in my career (in the past, mind you, not now) I've actually been asked to leave meetings because I didn't "need to know" certain bits of information.  Less information = less valuable.  Training is also an occupation that many think they can do well, even if they actually can't; I've met very few HRCs who didn't fancy themselves to be great trainers (some are, some were, and some are not).

Now am I disparaging the training occupation?  Not in the least!  As I have told the trainers who have worked for me in the past, learning professionals have a well defined...and not always easy to find...skill set.  Despite what many may think, not everyone is cut out to be a trainer, and those that do it really well are genuinely talented folks.  Think about it:  A effective trainer must have well developed written communication skills, excellent presentation skills, the ability to engage in thoughtful analysis and the ability to creatively solve problems.  It's not an easy gig, period.

What to do?  Well I will first note that, despite (or is that "in spite of"?) the fact my own role has expanded beyond traditional training/learning stuff, I still do my share of that work, and I enjoy it.  Often that comes in the form of what I'll call "freelance facilitation", namely when someone who can speak well is needed for a particular program.  It's good work and it keeps the skills sharp.  Anyway, in my case, I've done my best to expand my role out, and these days I am proud to say that my responsibilities are pretty varied, and I do believe that I earn my pay.  For me, that's how I've dealt with the respect issue.  Others I've known have moved out of HR into more training-focused departments or have used the training gig for bigger career things.

Finally, I'll add this enormous caveat to all of the above:  A term like "respect" is highly subjective, and in my case it exists more so in my head than it does in actuality.  Put another way, my perception of a lack of respect has more to do with the words "my perception" than the word "respect".  As I get older...and hopefully wiser...I've learned not to care all that much about the past or the future, about how I perceive others or how others perceive me.  Instead I simply try and show up each and every day to find work that I enjoy and while also striving to be a decent human being in the process.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Yes, by now just about every sentient being on the planet has heard about the past exploits of Josh Duggar, one of the nearly two dozen children of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar.  Here are a few of my not so random thoughts.

1.  Children Were Harmed
First and foremost, children were molested.  This pushes all other considerations to the back seat, and my genuine hope is that all of this new attention doesn't exacerbate what are likely already bad memories for the Duggar girls. For the record, it's likely already too late for my hope.

2.  We Helped Make This Mess
Yes, we Americans, with our obsession for freak-show television, helped create the Duggar monster.  Yes, they would still be breeding if they were not on television, and yes, these incidents would still have happened anyway, but now we have girls who, in addition to having been molested, now have the "honor" of being the "the girls on television who got molested".  Someone needs to start saving up for therapy now.

3.  The Duggar Parents Are Flaming Hypocrites
While decrying the lifestyle choices of others, Jim Bob and Michelle were quietly engaged in a decade long hush campaign regarding their own home-grown issues.  I guess they never learned that "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" business.  They also cry for compassion now, but Michelle wasn't quite so compassionate when she was recording those robocalls a few years ago, now was she?

4.  Josh Duggar Is Dangerous
I was a young teenage boy, quite normal by the way, and I never molested anyone or anything.  Josh Duggar did.  Based on my intimate knowledge of not being a child molester, I'd say that there may be some issues buried deep in his sexually repressed skull that need to be dealt with...and not just by getting a stern talking to by a convicted kiddie porn cop either.  The fact that he worked for a group called the Family Research Council is borderline funny now...funny if we weren't talking about child molestation that is.

5.  Children Raising Children
Having watched the Duggar television show, it's pretty clear that in this particular household...and given the population explosion...children end up being partially raised by other children.  How very sad.  While we can't blame the molestation on this fact, it certainly hasn't made matters any better.  It's also too much pressure for these children.  Here's a novel thought:  Children should be children first, BEFORE they have to be surrogate parents.

6.  The Duggar's Choice To Be Public People
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar made the decision to put their lives on display for the whole world to see.  Whether or not they anticipated Josh's child molesting to be part of the absurd parade is irrelevant, as they signed away their rights to privacy a long time ago.  That's harsh, but so be it, as they gladly accepted the "famous television family" money, so they get all that comes with it.  Blaming the "liberal media" or others for the current state of all things Duggary is yet another example of hypocrisy in action, as the media didn't force them to sign a television contract.

Two final bonus thoughts:

#7.  The End?
I doubt this is the end of the story.  Something tells me that there is more to this, and sadly, more for those children to deal with in the weeks to come.

#8.  Libido
When you boil the nearly two dozen children thing down to its most basic component part, it's this:  Jim Bob Duggar simply can't control his libido.