Monday, June 18, 2018

5 Questions To Ask Your Dad On Fathers Day

I found this interesting article on Fathers Day, the key point being:

* * * * * *

5 Questions To Ask Your Dad On Fathers Day

Father’s Day is the day to celebrate your dad, of course. But this year, it’s also your chance to make it something more. You can use this day to not only celebrate your dad but to also further your connection with him.
  1. What was your favorite thing about your childhood?
  2. What was something you did not like about your childhood?
  3. What were you like when you were 21?
  4. In hindsight, is there anything in life that you didn’t try, but wish you had?
  5. What’s the greatest hope you have for your future?
* * * * * *

Since I got nearly heat-stroked twice over the past two days (mostly by doing stupid things outdoors), now is as good a time as any to take up this (indoor) challenge.

Q:  What was your favorite thing about your childhood?
A:  In hindsight, two things stand out:  1) The fact that the "Albert Boys" were basically a gang in and of ourselves.  I never really appreciated that all that much...or thought about it for that matter...until after my brother Chris passed away.  2) Riding my bike.  I loved riding my bike.  It was liberating and I could do it alone, which for me was a big deal.  While on my bike it felt as if the rest of the world didn't matter.

Q:  What was something you did not like about your childhood?
A:  I really and truly wish I would have had a father.  There was simply so much I missed in that regard, so many things I had to learn in my 20's & 30's that should have been a part of my upbringing.  There were no discussions in my childhood about what a man is supposed to do or be like; I had no template.  Maybe that's why being a Dad is so important to me.

Q:  What were you like when you were 21?
A:  The short answer is stupid.  But that describes many 21-year-olds.  I really didn't know what I wanted to do with my life; so many decisions back then I made out of fear...moving away from things instead of moving towards things.  In retrospect though, where I am now is a direct result of where I was then, so while the road may have been long and bumpy, the destination has been worth it.

Q:  In hindsight, is there anything in life that you didn't try, but wish you had?
A:  One of the life lessons I've learned...mostly since my mid-40's to not have regrets.  Those kinds of thoughts serve no purpose.  That noted, if anything, it would have been nice if I were a bit more adventurous when it comes to eating.  I'm sincerely trying to eat new things from time to time, even though, for the most part, it usually doesn't end well.

Q:  What's the greatest hope you have for your future?
A:   My greatest hope for my future is that I can stop running.  It feels like for most of my adult life I have been running.  Running to catch up to people who were being promoted before me at work.  Racing to be a better parent because I felt guilty for not doing or providing enough.  Running headlong to try and help others solve their problems while mostly ignoring my own.  It feels like, maybe, I can now slow down a bit.  It's time to now take in the scenery.  Learn new things.  Worry less.  Read more. 


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day 2018, on the Border

There's a certain irony to the fact that, on Father's Day, the United States is right at this very moment taking innocent children away from their parents.   

Now the Trump supporters I know are good people. None of them, I want to believe, would ever think that taking children away from their parents is in any way a good policy or even morally defensible. None of them could personally participate in this kind of activity. Yet some just seem to buy into the rhetoric coming out of the President's camp; for that, well I feel sorry for them...but not as sorry as I do for the children who are frightened beyond all belief because they simply just want their Mom and Dad.

The fact is this: The President can, right now, simply tell A.G. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to simply STOP doing this. There is no law requiring that children be separated from their parents. Taking children away from their parents (let that sink in...taking children away from their parents) is the result of a choice made by the administration to charge those crossing at the border as criminals, simply by virtue of trying to cross into the United States, instead of as asylum seekers. What's happening now is that these frightened children are being used as pawns to goad Congressional Democrats to fund a border wall. A border wall that is more about the President's legacy and ego than it is about actual border security. 

Yes, children have been weaponized, which is both cruel and wrong.

As I noted in a Facebook posting, I simply don't care about the politics of this issue.  I also don't care whether others disagree with me.  In fact, I'll go one better:  If you disagree with my position on this issue then, well, please don't tell me that, because it will forever change my opinion of you, and not for the better.  Again, I want to believe that all of us can agree that the forcible separation of children from their parents...parents who are simply seeking wrong.  In every circumstance.  

Coming back to my original premise, if you were working on the border, could you take children away from their parents?  I sincerely hope that the answer would be no.

More on this issue can be found HERE.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

A Week of Degrees

It was what I would call a bad week.  Simply bad.  There was bad news...two suicides of public folks who seemingly had everything going for them.  There were bad body my case a left foot that impeded my ability to walk for much of the week.  There are stressful times at work.  This was one of those weeks where you look back and wonder just how you were able to somehow get by.

I confess to spending more time than I will actually account reading about the late designer Kate Spade.  As noted in another posting (HERE), I had not actually heard of her until this week.  My ability to intellectualize just about anything happening in the world was thrown asunder by the notion that this smart, incredibly successful...both financially and personally...and attractive person would end her life.  It just doesn't make sense, and that bothers me on some deep level.

For the record, I fully understand that mental health issues, in general, don't play well in a purely rational-thought driven world.  Like most feelings, well, they are best simply felt, not intellectually disassembled and analyzed like oh so many parts to a machine.  However, I am personally terrible at the former and pretty good at the later.  Feelings are hard.

By the time the news of Anthony Bourdain's suicide came to light, my ability to try and intellectually understand the intellectually un-understandable had been overloaded.  Too many feelings to understand, too many horrible past memories being dredged up.  It was just too much.

As noted above, I was also facing some physical challenges.  Thanks to a terrific family doctor, the problem with my foot was diagnosed as being an arthritis flair-up.  I had known about having arthritis in my right foot (big toe bones, to be precise), but the left foot was a new one.  The whole thing is a part of the price some of us pay for managing to get this old.  In any event, the foot is actually feeling better.

Adding to the mix is a series of challenges at work.  As I am learning, the notion of control is important to me.  I am at my best when I feel as if I have things under control.  I am at my worst when I feel the opposite.  One of the reasons why I struggle with delegation is because I don't feel comfortable relinquishing control over something.  That's not about the competence of the people I work with (all of whom are extraordinarily competent, for the record); no, that's about how I was raised and the notion that so much of that time in my life left out of control.  Anyway, at work right now there is a lot going on and I simply can't control everything.  It's not humanly possible.  Those two seemingly in conflict things drive my personal anxiety levels to the point where it's no wonder...maybe...that something like arthritis decides to make its presence known.

The seemingly final exclamation mark to my week happened Saturday morning when I had to assist my youngest brother.  He's a wonderful person, but like so many, technologically challenged.  After this past week, I had about...

...patience left.  Technical issues were solved, but it felt as if I had gotten hit by a club.  Again.

Then I came home, and a tube from Villanova Universtiy was waiting by our mailbox.  It was as if somehow I was being reminded that, even in the midst of dark chaos, sometimes good things happen

I had opted out of actually participating in the commencement activities at Villanova.  Despite the urgings of my wife and youngest daughter, I just didn't want to go through all the ceremony, etc.  More than anything else, I was just glad that school was over with and I could spend more time doing the things I enjoy.  "Studying HR stuff" is not one of the things I enjoy.  At age 54, I think I've earned the right to be less encumbered.

I will note that, after actually receiving my degree, I am left wondering "why" and "what's next".  I didn't start my graduate degree with the notion that it would directly benefit that which I laughingly call my career.  No, I think it was more about trying to prove to myself that I was smart enough to do it.  Yes, I do have doubts in that regard from time to time.  Now I have a piece of paper, waiting to be framed, that says those doubt might be wrong.  Sometimes.

Speaking of my piece of paper, I've managed to convince my wife that we should get both of our Master's degrees framed.  Her degree was successfully salvaged from another location last year in a clandestine operation that could be described as "Mission Impossible meets Hoarders".  My wife, being the truly smart person she is, earned her MBA from Wilkes University shortly after earning her Bachelor's degree.  Now I just have to drag her to the framing store and find a place to hang these wonderful documents.

Call it God or call it karma or call it random change.  Whatever it is, sometimes life as a knack for reminding us to keep things in perspective.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

I Don't Know Anything About Kate Spade

Reference article HERE.

Prior to a few days ago I had never heard of Kate Spade.  Her brother in law?  Sure.  But the fashion designer?  Not in the least.

Now I am admittedly an idiot when it comes to fashion.  I think the very concept of fashion...that there are these uber-cool folks who can tell you what you should wear and then you'll be ridiculous.  I think the best clothes are the most comfortable.  Enough said.

Kate Spade apparently felt the opposite way about fashion.

That's about the only thing I now know for sure about Kate Spade, well outside of the fact that she apparently committed suicide.

I do know something about suicide; in point of fact, I know too much about suicide.  Not from having attempted it myself, but suffice to say that it's something that's touched my life on more than one occasion.  I know what the family of Kate Spade must be going through, and I can only hope that they eventually find some peace after this horrible event.

This is the part where I am supposed to say that Kate Spade's suicide will hopefully spark a national discussion about mental health, etc.  In today's society though, that discussion, like much of our collective attention span, will likely be short-lived.  

The moral of the story here, to the extent there can be one, is that this isn't about national debates and trendy discussions over Starbucks.  Rather, it's about the gritty reality that each of us has people in our lives who may be suffering, sometimes in silence.  It's about the fact that we all struggle to one extent or another with discussions on the inside, but for some, that inner dialogue takes a decidedly dark turn.  This isn't something that happens "over there" or to "him" or to "her".  This is something can be happening right now to you or to me or to our brother or sister, wife or parent.  Sadly, sometimes we find out about this after the fact.

I don't know the big solution here, and life is only going to get even more complicated; for some, that means the dark inner voice is only going to get louder.  

What I do know is the small solution:  Keep those you care about close.  Let them know you care.  Be the voice that maybe interrupts the decidedly dark inner dialogue in someone's head. 

Sometimes the best solutions come in the smallest packages.

Sunday, June 3, 2018


No matter how I feel, and despite rumors to the contrary, I "feel" a lot, music has this almost magical power to transform me.  I suspect that's true for others.  If it's not true for you, well, you have my sympathy.

Growing up I wasn't exactly surrounded by music.  My Mom had about a dozen vinyl records, a collection that included the soundtrack for West Side Story (I still know most of the words to "Gee, Officer Krupke"1), Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Carly Simon's Greatest Hits, Simon and Garfunkle's Greatest Hits, and a few other's I've long since forgotten.  As kids, my brothers and I would seemingly play these albums far more than my Mom ever did.  In fact, I don't ever recall my Mom playing any of these.  To say that my musical pallet was limited is like saying "I think the President may be using tan-in-a-bottle".  Let that last point sink in for a bit.

Further limiting my musical exposure was that fact that I really didn't listen to the radio all that much as a kid, well other than when there was a snowstorm and we would listen to local station WARM(2), hoping that "Scranton School District" would be mentioned.  An outcome of this was the fact that, for much of my childhood, I had no real sense as to what was considered popular music.  Well, in a spirit of complete honesty, I still don't have much of a sense as to what constitutes popular music.  Anway, in grade school, I recall a fellow student having a Kiss sticker on a notebook which I simply stared at one day, trying to figure out just what in the heck I was looking at.  Hindsight being 20/20, well, let's just say I wasn't missing much.

As I grew older I did make some attempts at expanding my musical sensibilities.  Earning money as a kid meant that I could afford to actually purchase music and devices from which said music could be played.  The first album I ever purchased was Parallel Lines by Blondie.  My first 8-track tape was ABBA's Greatest Hits.  While the 8-track thing died out quickly as the 1970's began to come to an end, I did end up buying a lot more albums over the years.  I'll note there was also an attempt on my part, through my junior high school education, to learn to play an instrument.  In my case, the instrument was the French Horn, and I failed miserably.  As in I was horrible.  As in the sounds I produced from the instrument bore no resemblance to actual music.  As I literally didn't know what I was doing.  How bad was I?  Well, I was so bad that I was taken off of the brass and moved to percussion, where I was better to handle the more basic instruction of "bang it now".  Ironically, all these years later I have a sister-in-law who plays the French Horn in an orchestra, providing me with an opportunity to hear what the instrument is supposed to sound like when one actually knows what one is doing.

Throughout adulthood, from young to "fast approaching older", I've found that music became more important to me.  While methods and modes of delivery have changed...yesterdays 8-track tapes that were replaced by vinyl albums have now been replaced by digital files(3)...I couldn't ever see my life without music.  In fact, I almost always have a song tucked away in the back of my head, a kind song of the day if you will.

My adult musical tastes run the gamut of styles and time-frames, and I'm constantly adding new songs.  While there are songs I've probably played on a few times, there are many that I play often.  I don't think that I have favorite songs, as that implies some kind of ranking system that I just don't think should apply to something like art.  If I were to pick one or two that seem to have a special meaning for me, I'd list the following:

Regarding #9 Dream, I read an interview with John Lennon where he noted that this song had no particular meaning, other than the fact that it was based, in part, on an actual dream.  For me?  The song just simply blows me away.  I consider it be beautiful and deep in a way I really can't explain.

As for Goodbye Girl, well, I just happen to think it's an incredibly beautiful song.  Simple and yet for me evocative.  David Gates is incredible...a highly under-rated songwriter and performer.  It was also part of a terrific movie(4).

So, that's music.  May all of us enjoy a wonderful soundtrack for our lives.

* * * * * *

(1) In case you are curious, click HERE.

(2) You can find a blog dedicated to WARM Radio HERE.

(3) I have over 2,328 songs in my digital music collection; I say "over" because I'm not counting those that are just on the Amazon cloud (and I'm simply too lazy to count them at the moment).

(4) Details HERE.  Richard Dryfuss  won an academy award for his work in the movie.  

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day 2018

"The life of a man consists not in seeing visions or dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service."
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

All photos are of Arlington National Cemetary, July 2013.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Helen Wheels

The original plan after I earned my Master's degree was that I would do something for myself that I had been meaning to do for a long time.  A big personal gift.  Something like a vintage VW Beetle.  Maybe a light blue 1967 model.  Anyway, that thought occurred a few years ago, before I was put into a job search mode, before my disposable income changed, before I had to pay more out of pocket for the degree.  I'm not complaining mind you...I bought the ticket and took the ride.

Anyway and undeterred, I still thought it was appropriate to get myself a small gift for graduation.  If not a vintage VW Bug, what then?  The answer?  A new bike.

I've had a bike for most of my life.  As a kid, I would ride for miles on end, which in Scranton (with all of its hills) is something of a feat.  I've always found riding a bike to be something of a perfect activity for an introvert:  Unless I am riding with my wife (or, as was the case last summer, my mother-in-law) it tends to be an almost contemplative experience.

(May 2018, the new wheels)

I'll note that I've had the same Trek bike for something like 20 years.  It has, in fact, served me very well.

(October 2017)

However, the bike was a bit too small for me and its complete and utter lack of any form of shock absorption made for some rough rides on my older frame.  The new bike went out for an inaugural ride this evening on the side streets of West Pittston, PA (a very bike-friendly town).  Many more rides will come. 

For the record, the new bike was purchased at Sickler's Bike Shop in Kingston, PA.  It's nice to be able to support a local business.  If you live in NEPA and are looking for a bike check them out.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Un-stretched Rubber Band

In the back of my head, well, I knew this day was coming.  For the record, I even tried to prepare for it, but we all know how that old saying about "... best-laid plans..." goes.  "This day" and "it" refers to how I feel after having finished school related stuff(1).  The best way I can describe it is via a rubber band:

You stretch it and stretch it and stretch it.  Miraculously, it doesn't break.  But you do eventually let go of it, and what's left, after it snaps back, is a mere shadow of the formerly stretched self, formless and misshapen.  

That's where I'm at right here and now.

As a side note, I almost constantly...without exaggeration...have a song playing in my head.  As I was thinking about this topic during the quiet hours of this morning, the following song lyric came to mind:

"And if anything, 
then there's your sign of the times

I was alive and waited, waited
I was alive and waited for this,
Right here, right now"(2)

Sign of the times indeed.

Call it a funk.  Call it a rut.  This has happened to me before.  And will likely happen again.

There isn't much of a solution here.  No "chemical willy"(3) would be of help; besides, I'm simply adamant about the fact that, when all is said and done, I never want anything (including pharmacology) to come between me and my ability to truly experience life...the good, the bad, and the over-stretched rubber-band.  That could be either a truly enlightened concept on my part or incredibly stupid.  Both are likely to be correct.

Now I could find some other big thing to do.  And maybe that will happen.  But at the moment, "right here and now" I just don't have the mental juice for that sort of thing.  In as much as I feel as if I should be doing something big, part of me also knows that I need to rest, both mentally and physically.  The latter, by the way, has always been something of a challenge; as evidence, I can point to my having woken up at 5am this morning.  On a Saturday.

So what's left?  Maybe make a list of things I want to get done over the next few months.  Working outside is always sort of enjoyable for me.  As someone who has worked in the business world for three decades, complete with its tendency towards tremendous effort being put into things where there is no tangible outcome, something like cutting the grass has a significant benefit:  Before the work, the grass is high, after the work the grass is low.  

If only it were that easy in our professional lives.

(1) See THIS posting, among others.
(2) Jesus Jones, "Right Here Right Now"
(3) A phrase used by the late Hunter S. Thompson somewhere in The Great Shark Hunt.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Book I Would Write...

...if I were to ever write a book that is, would be about the importance of kindness, particularly in our professional lives.  It's my somewhat learned opinion that there's a deficit of kindness in this country, especially in the business world.  We simply need more kindness.

In many ways, the classic American business ethos is the antithesis of kindness, rife with blind ambition, where one climbs the ladder of success, never minding the heads that might be stepped on along the way.  It's a land where people do what they are told, where "I don't pay you to think".  It's a work ethic where "driving for success" is admired, regardless of the dark route that drive had to take.  This is the ugly American at his or her worst.

The problem with that whole line of thought is that it casually forgets that almost all effort at work is actually discretionary in nature.  We all choose how we show up to work each and every morning (figuratively or literally).  Even when we are "doing as we are told", our disdain for systems and managers (as opposed to leaders) that disregard who we are as human beings inevitably leads, at best, passive resistance.  At worst?  Things like active sabotage come to mind.  I don't care who you are, where you come from, or how much money you have:  None of us work best under threat or coercion.  Sure, ambition may carry us along for some period of time, but just like gravity, we inevitably get pulled down to reality.  Put another way, ambition is a bit like really good chocolate cake in that our perception of having it is always better than the actual taste.  And when we finally do get that cake?  Well, how many pieces does it take before we're so sick of cake that we can't eat another bite?

For the record, I'm not dismissing ambition. Like any tool, it can be used or abused.  Kind of like using a $200+ power drill... hammer in nails.

The cure, if you want to call it that, for what ails our society is kindness.  Just be kind.

  • Be kind when it's easy.
  • Be especially kind when it's hard.
  • Be kind to those who are kind to you.
  • Be especially kind to those who are not kind to you.  They likely don't know any better or they might be struggling in ways that none of us can understand.
  • Be as kind to the person who empties your trash as you are to the executive you want to impress.
  • Be kind in ways only you need to know about.
  • Be kind because ultimately you have to live with yourself...and do you really want to live with someone isn't kind?

Kindness doesn't mean that we fail to make difficult business decisions.  Someone can be, for example, laid off from their job in a manner that is kind.  Someone can be put on a performance improvement plan that is inherently kind (because we actually want them to get better).  We can provide all manner of constructive feedback in a spirit that speaks of kindness.  We can seek promotions/professional growth in a way that demonstrates the value we see in others...not as steps to walk on along our way...but as allies who have taught us and added to our capabilities.

By the way, kindness in a business context has a kind of secret weapon quality to it:  It's free.  Being kind costs absolutely nothing.  No special kindness training to schedule and attend.  No consultants needed.  No programs to implement.  No infographics or logos required.  No polices to socialize and then post on the intranet.  Just commit to being kind. 

Lastly, like all truly important things in our lives (be they be personal or professional), kindness is a journey.  I am not always as kind as I should be, particularly to those who I seem to think not kind to me or to others.  I particularly struggle with individuals that I believe have a generous ego.  I can, should and will do better, not because I'm looking for some otherworldly reward, but because ultimately kindness is the reward.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


I woke up this morning at 5:18am(1) with the following thought in my head:

Motherhood is the most difficult, most important job in the world for which there are no educational requirements, no licensing, no registration.

I'll also note that, as evidenced by this blog(2), few people have more influence on us...on our lives...than our own Mother.  Be that good, bad or indifferent.  Our Mothers physically carry us before we are born, and we then mentally carry our Mothers with us for the rest of our lives.  Motherhood is, at least by my estimation, the highest calling.

(Around 1970; the blogger is on the far left, with my Mother and two of my brothers)  

My hope is that every Mother out there feels appreciated today in some special kind of way. 

(1) I've been unfortunately getting up far too early on the weekends.  Not sure why.  It's along the lines of my eyes peer open and my brain immediately goes full throttle.
(2)  I've likely written about my own Mother hundreds of times on this blog.

Friday, May 4, 2018

For Mom

There were only a few things in life that ever actually impressed my late mother.  Stripping out people for a moment (Martha Stewart, for example, could do no wrong...even with the felony conviction), she was impressed by folks who were well educated.  While my Mom never really said so to either of us, I know she was proud of her two sons who earned college degrees.

(My Mom & the Blogger, first graduation in May 1986)

Before she passed away, I had told my Mom that I had been toying around with the idea of going back to school.  Her response was usually something along the gruff lines of "well, what's stopping you?".  In my life up to about eight or so years ago, well, a lot of things were stopping me.  These were things like time, energy, money, etc.  All valid reasons.  About a year after her passing I made the leap.  No more excuses.  It was time to either go back to school or shelve the idea entirely.  I made the former decision, and in September of 2014, I attended my first class in the Villanova University M.S.-HRD degree program*.   For the official record, my anxiety level for that first class was a 12 (on a scale of 1 to 10).

Fast forward through 30 graduate credits, countless tests, a large novel's worth of papers, stacks of research and I completed my actual coursework in May 2017.  Graduation had to wait though until I completed the final program requirement, namely passing an industry examination.  Something I managed to put off for a year. 

The above procrastination ended today with my passing of just such an exam.  More on that later, once I get my official results.  I'll note that I put in between 30 and 40 hours, give or take, in actual exam preparation.  I'll also note that the test was one of the most difficult I've ever had to take, and that list includes three securities examinations and one for a Pennsylvania insurance license.  Put another way, if you think "HR stuff" is easy, well, I'll lend you my study materials.

How do I feel about all of this?  At this stage, I'd say numb.  The whole going back to school thing was an enormous undertaking for me, both in terms of cost (even with tuition assistance from my prior employer) and sheer effort.  While I enjoy writing (obviously...), I didn't enjoy the pressures of research work, final exams, etc.  The on-going theme in my head was one of "I'm too damn old for this".  Quite frankly, I'm just glad this is over.  And it is all over, as my academic career has just concluded.  It's time for me to move on.

Moving on is a big part of what's going to happen next.  In life, we all meet points in time when we know things are going to change.  For me, this is one of those times.  A kind of nexus if you will where things converge and then move off into new a direction.  That new direction for me is going to involve more rest, more outdoors, more, well, "fun".

I couldn't have done this, by the way, without a cast of supporting folks who either put up with me, coached me, or, unknowing to them, motivated me in some way or another.  Chief among the members of my posse is my wife, Ms. Rivers, who has spent more time that she should have cleaning up after dinner so that I could get to school work.  She also deserves a medal for all of the incredibly dry papers she has had to read and edit for me over the past few years.  I also need to thank my many co-workers, across two wonderful organizations, who have encouraged me along the way.  They know who they are, but in case they forget, I'll be reaching out.

Finally, while she isn't here to see this, I know my Mom would be proud of me on this day.  As I was thinking about the exam over the past few days, and the fact that it was the last thing I needed to graduate, I knew that she was there with me in spirit. 

I did it Mom!

* * * * * *

(*) You can learn more about Villanova's graduate HRD program HERE.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Laissez-faire Le Strand

When I've got a lot going on...well make that much more than normal going on...I sometimes experience this odd phenomenon in which I can't get a certain song out of my head.  This isn't an "earworm"; rather, it's more like my brain is trying to grasp at something to anchor itself onto, lest it is swept away in a sea of thoughts are firing like machine gun bullets in my head.

And so we now have The Strand.

I have to thank (and/or blame) my older brother Rich for the introduction to Roxy Music.  He always had far better taste in music that I did, at least when we were growing up.  I can remember him referencing "do the Strandsky" back when neither of us could drive.  And that was a very long time ago.  Anyway, I actually do enjoy Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry's work, although I just wish I could do a better job of pausing it in my head at the moment.

In other music news, I learned yesterday that ABBA has recorded two new songs.  In fact, two of my former HR co-workers actually made sure I heard the news.  I guess those impromptu renditions of "Dancing Queen" all those years ago made an impression.  It makes our summer trip to Sweden (and other Nordic places) all the better.

Lastly, I had a birthday this past week and was treated to many wishes and congratulations.  It's a blessing to have folks remember such a thing. 

Here's to the start of another trip around the sun. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

From the Anger-Avoiding Control Freak Lessons Learned Department

Something of a follow-up to THIS posting from February.

I've been thinking about anger lately.  Not as in "I am angry, therefore I am thinking about it", but rather how I feel and express anger.

Am I afraid of anger?  Part of the answer is, I think, yes.  Growing up, as I may have noted before, my Mother basically had two emotions:  Angry and not angry.  There would be some occasional happiness thrown in, but by and large, her predominant emotion that her children witnessed was that of being mildly pissed off.  To that point, my Mother never needed to do much in the way of disciplining her four sons, mostly because she was so very skillful at intimidation through anger.  We behaved mostly because we were afraid not to.  And we didn't know any better.  Anger was a kind of mental blunt-force weapon.

Fast forward to adulthood, and I tend to react strongly to anger.  While those reactions run a certain gamut, one isn't usually present:  Anger.  I don't get angry because someone else is angry.  In fact, and as I noted in February, I rarely now get truly angry.

In some respects it's a blessing:  I am truly at my best in times of crisis.  I am good at listening when others are upset.  I can be the voice of reason when chaos seems to be swirling all about me.

Like many good things though, there is also a dark side:  My being calm is, in some respects, simply a reflex reaction, an ability to withdraw when strong emotions are present.  I am calm in part because I learned to avoid strong emotions like anger.  For me, well, anger isn't a healthy emotion.  In fact, I have a tendency to view those who are chronically angry as being, in some respects, weak.  Out of control.


There's the pivotal word in all of this stuff.  Anger for me represents a loss of control.  And I can't lose control.

Anger = Loss of control.

Loss of Control = I can no longer rely on myself.

I Can't Rely on Me = There is no one else to rely upon.

Growing up, we were something of an island onto ourselves.  Knowing rationally that we can rely on someone is different than actually feeling that you can rely on someone.  For me, well, the feeling was just never really there, and that part has repeated itself throughout my life.  It influenced me far too much in my young adult years, and I'm fairly convinced that this obsessive need for control ended up driving more than just mental knots in my's likely also responsible for some of the physical ailments that face this "sooner to be an older" guy.

So what's the purpose here?  What's the "endgame"?

The latter, well, I guess within life we all know what the "endgame" really is, so no sense even mentioning it.  No, here it's the space between here and the "endgame" that's important.  All of this means that I need to/am working on a few things...

...authentically expressing my feelings
...not using guilt as a plug-n-play cop-out for failing to deal with my own feelings
...remembering that I do have truly good people in my life who I truly can rely on
...acknowledging that ultimately control is nothing but a sloppy (at best) excuse for insecurity

Heady stuff, I know.  With that, the psychoanalysis postings are (mostly) concluded.  For now.

The next posting will be about cats.  Maybe.

Friday, April 20, 2018

5 Essential Life Truths (that sound depressing but aren't)

The Psychology Today feed on Facebook is terrific.  Recently they posted this article that I enjoyed so much that I just had to share it with my wife.

It's worth the time to read the article.  By way of summary, the 5 Essential Life Truths are:

1.  Stress Happens
2.  There's No Such Thing As A Happy Ending
3.  The Cover-Up Is Worse Than The Crime
4.  There's No Magic Bullet
5.  There's No Elevator...You Have To Take The Stairs

In some ways, the article reminds me of one of my favorite books, Dr. Gordon Livingston's Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart.

I think a lot of what the article (and the book by Dr. Livingston) says can be rolled up into one simple thought:  So many spend so much time looking for shortcuts in life that simply don't exist.

Yes, and to be blunt, there are no shortcuts.

What may seem like a shortcut that may even work at the moment...will almost always cost more in the long term.  Life is a bank where it always ends up costing you more if you delay putting the effort into making payments now.  Today's shortcut is tomorrow's balloon interest payment.

Part of why this is an issue is the fact that we live in a society obsessed with immediate self-gratification.  We get upset if we have to wait more than five minutes for fast food.  We see the seemingly carefree lifestyles of those in the media and delude ourselves into believing that they somehow "have it made".  Never mind how much substance and other forms of abuse are rampant among public figures.  We think we're entitled to instant happiness all the time, and we become depressed at the thought that we're being denied.  I firmly believe that it's all a mirage, designed to distract us from the simple, essential truths of life.

In life, I'm more convinced than ever that it's doing the simple, basic things well that matter the most.  Things like:

Show up on time.

Be polite.

Be first to compliment and last to criticize.

Work hard.

Put the effort into being prepared, no matter what the task.

Always do a little more than you are asked.

Be everyone...even those who aren't necessarily kind to you.

Be truly present in the moment.

(I fail at many of these by the way, but I do have a secret weapon:  Persistence.)

None of the above costs money.  None of the above makes for a very good television show plot.  None of this will generate many social media "likes".  But in the end, when we all, no matter our wealth or social status, have to look back at the realities of how we've spent...or squandered...our lives, all of this will matter.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Forever Young

I've never gone this nearly 10 years of writing this blog...without posting something.  Even now I'm somewhat iffy on this posting, but guilt is starting to creep in, so I best get a typing.

As a side note, I actually wrote a posting last week, but I just don't feel like publishing it.  Doesn't feel right for some reason.

Anyway, a lot is happening.

In news of the sad, one of our cats, Tiger, passed away this past Monday.  Tiger was very special for three reasons:

  1. He was the fluffiest cat I've ever seen, bar none.  He had fluff in abundance.  A surplus of fluff.  And for the record, I've seen some fluffy cats in my lifetime.
  2. He was one of the friendliest cats I've ever encountered.  In fact, to the best of my knowledge, there was only one person on this Earth that Tiger didn't like.  Most humans can't say the same thing.  Tiger lived for getting petted.  Absolutely lived for it.
  3. He was genuinely beloved by my youngest stepson, with whom he spent countless hours.

Tiger passed away by my stepson's side, a point of which is both heartening...leaving this Earth next to someone you love...and saddening (for my stepson).  He will be missed by all, with the possible exception of our two remaining cats, who, in the truest spirit of cats everywhere, seem more or less indifferent to it all.

Tiger, doing his "I want to touch your face" thing.

I do miss the fluff-monster, but I take some comfort in knowing that he was likely very sick before he passed, and is now free from all such flesh-laden liabilities.  

My youngest stepson has taken a liking recently to Bob Dylan, which, given all of the horrible music out there these days, is nothing short of wonderful.  Like most teenagers though, he has to face a world that's rapidly changing around him.  Some of those changes are incredibly sad, such as losing a pet who was your constant companion.  While none of us can avoid loss, we make the choice to not let it turn us into cynical old people well before our time.  Maybe part of us can stay Forever Young.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Radio Personalities/Imus Retirement

In his Tuesday (April 3rd) blog entry, WNEP's Andy Palumbo writes about the retirement of Don Imus (see HERE).  He also shares his listing of top 5 radio personalities.

quack quack

It's a topic I can't resist, although I'll preface what I'm about to write by noting that my opinions are completely those of a listener.  Put another way, I don't know much about the media business, and at age 53(1), that's not likely to change.  So if you want a professional's opinion, find another blog.  On to the amateur hour.

moby worm, coming to get ya

My list isn't in any order, other than the first one listed.  I'll also note that I've only listed broadcasters that I've actually listened to over the years.

Howard Stern
I've written about Howard Stern before on this blog over the years.  I first heard his show during the summer of 1986 while I was living in York, PA.  I've been a fan ever since.  I don't find everything he does funny; in fact, I find some of his bits to be cringe worthy.  However, when all is said and done, Stern will go down in history as someone who basically re-invented radio and who could be wildly entertaining.  His sound effects guy, Fred Norris, deserves special recognition for his ability to drop just the right sounds at just the right time. 

Rush Limbaugh
I hate what comes out of Rush Limbaugh's mouth, but I admire how it comes out.  If that makes sense.  He's entertaining and engaging.  What I find fascinating about Limbaugh is the fact that, deep-down, I don't think he believes half of what he says, in spite of the fact that his legions of "ditto-heads" take it as gospel.  I also admire the fact that he's not above making fun of his "character".

Art Bell
I've read where Bell was notoriously difficult to work with, but man, he could keep an audience mesmerized.  I know 98% of the stuff coming out of his mouth was outlandish, unmitigated nonsense, but man, it sounded good (and convincing).  He was kind of like an odd uncle that would tell you incredible stories.  "From the Kingdom of Nye..."

quack quack

Garrison Keillor
The only person on this list I've ever actually seen in person(2).  I was an occasional listener of A Prairie Home Companion.  The music for me was so-so, but I always enjoyed Keillor's ability to tell a story.  There was always something very comforting about hearing him on the radio.

Michael Feldman
I doubt many have heard of Michael Feldman(3).  His show, Whad'Ya Know?, was a companion for me as I made many trips back and forth to college in the mid-1980's.  Think of him as being Wisconsin's answer to Garrison Keillor, and his show as being basically "A Dairy Home Companion".  Back then it was fun and entertaining for a young man (me) who really had no clue what he was doing and was lonely as he cruised down I81 in a 1974 Chrysler.

(my actual college car)

how's your donkey kong?(4)

Papa Joe Chevalier
The only sports commentator that I ever found even remotely funny or engaging.  I loved his show when it was on locally.  He had the best theme song ever.  He also managed to talk about sports in a way such that you really didn't need to be a sports fanatic to "get it".  May he rest in peace.

So, what about Imus?

Don Imus was cranky and mean, be it to his listeners, to his staff, and some of his guests.  While many top-tier radio personalities have healthy egos, Imus has one that seems outsized by comparison.  Towards the end of his career, he was also unlistenable, mumbling his way through rants.  While I've listened to Imus over the years, I never found him to be entertaining.  He needed to retire years ago.

(1) Soon to be 54, for the record.
(2) Twice, for the record.
(3) More about him HERE.
(4) The stupid phrases were all things a listener would hear on the Imus in the Morning Show.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Leadership and Not Being Horrible

A friend of mine(1) recently shared on social media a bit of writing entitled The Church of Not Being Horrible by a gentleman named John Pavlovitz.  It's a nice read, and we can all use a bit less horrible in our lives these days.

The article also reminded me of something I've been working on for a while now, something that I really do need to finish one of these days.  That something is to more clearly define my own personal leadership philosophy.  I put a few minutes into it every now and then, but post some other things coming up in the next few weeks I'm going to really work on calling it more or less complete.

Anyway, at the center of my nascent leadership philosophy is a simple idea:

Be a decent human being.

Yes, I firmly believe that leaders, more so than anyone else in an organization, and regardless of who and what they lead, have a special obligation to be decent human being before anything else.

This doesn't mean that, for example, as a leader, you don't make tough decisions.  A leader can make tough and unpopular decisions, but still, do it in a way that holds to the spirit of being a decent human being.

Have to let someone who is performing poorly go?  Do it in a way that exemplifies being a decent human being.  That means, for example, making sure that the employee in question has been given ample opportunities to improve their performance.  That means that you have provided clear and concise feedback about what needs to be improved.  And you specifically ask them why they are not adequately performing.  That means when it's time to give someone their notice, you don't outsource the deed to anyone else, including Human Resources.

Have to reduce staff/lay someone who works for you off?  Be a decent human being and do it in person.  Explain the reasons behind the decision.  Show kindness and compassion.  Offer every opportunity available to you to help the employee find a new job (either in the company or externally).  Be fully present and accept responsibility for the decision, even if it wasn't yours entirely to make.  Accept the shock, anger and perhaps sorrow the person may be feeling(2) and demonstrate nothing but empathy in return.  Being a decent human being means that you don't "dump and run".

Dealing with a lot of change in your team/organization/company?  Being a decent human being means that you go out of your way to make yourself available to answer questions(3), even if you don't have all the answers.  It means that you have an information sharing switch that defaults to "share" unless there is a compelling business reason to do the opposite.  It means that you make dealing with your team's uncertainty a top priority instead of simply hoping it will go away.

Lastly, being a decent human being means that you are as friendly and respectful to the maintenance staff, cafeteria workers and all those others who serve you as you are to executives you want to impress.  Put another way, if you know the name of the highest ranking person in your organization but not the name of the person you see every day that empties your trash, well, I'm sorry but you're not succeeding in the "being a decent human being" arena.

By the way, if you think this is so simple that it doesn't need to be said, well, I'd say in return that you're not working in a typical organization these days.  As noted above, there's a lot of horrible going on.  This is difficult stuff, and I openly admit that I fail sometimes to be a truly decent human being.  That noted I do have one thing going for me:  I do keep trying (to be a decent human being).

(1) Michele; you can find her blog HERE.  You can find out more about her business HERE.
(2) Even towards you.  Note that they may want nothing to do with you, and that's their choice.  Your choice, however, is to be a decent human being.
(3) As opposed to avoiding questions.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Grand Unified Theory (of NEPA)

The Scranton Times had an opinion piece in its March 24th edition that talked about why so few women run for office in Lackawanna Country.  This comes almost a week after the same newspaper glowing reported on the annual Friendly Sons banquet, an ALL MALE event held every year around St. Patrick's Day.  That event is as much about establishment power brokers as it is local Irish Heritage.  Apparently, the editors of the Scranton Times don't see the irony in their reporting/opinion pieces.  I do.

In other news of the ironic, Lackawanna County Commissioner Laureen Cummings, self-styled "Tea Party Patriot", apparently is fine with a back-room Democratic party public job offering to someone who seems more connected than qualified(1).  Yes, she who rails "against the system" is actually fine with the system, all the while managing to try and protect county residents from that scourge known as the bicycle(2).  My personal feeling is that, with all due respect to Ms. Cummings and her personal achievements, the simple concept of irony seems beyond her capabilities.

What do these things have in common?

Well for starters, this isn't about some big-headed anonymous Internet commentator throwing stones.  I will readily and publicly admit that I'm an idiot sometimes.  However, I try to be a consistent idiot.  What's more, I just write crap on the Internet. I don't pretend to have a big audience.  I don't claim to be inspiring or smart.  I can barely influence my own behaviors, let alone the behaviors of others.  I just claim to be me.  I'll leave the biting political commentary to Tom Borthwick(3).  However, few things bother me more in life than hypocrisy. 

No, these things are about something bigger.  If there was a Grand Unified Theory(4) of NEPA, it would center around the notion that power is the antithesis of progress.  It would be that change... it to "cutting edge of 1950's" social norms

or the notion of politics as usual no matter who you are inherently something to be avoided at all costs.  It's about "We've got ours, so screw yours!".  NEPA is a small pond with a few big fish, a small number of aspiring to be big fish, and lots of guppies.  And that's the way the big fish have always like it. 

(1) Reference THIS story.
(2) Reference THIS editorial.   
(3) You can find him HERE, although I do think fatherhood has mellowed him out quite a bit.
(4) Just because I am also a science nerd; see THIS reference.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Writing and Emotions

In October this blog will be ten years old.  In blog years, well, that's pretty damn old.  So many blogs have come and gone since I started this, far more than I can actually remember.  Anyway, that fact...coupled with a lot of work I'm doing on/for me to thinking about recently about why I do this thing.  Well, outside of the obvious part about liking to do this thing.

I've always been writing things.  In college, I would write voluminous letters.  When I started with my last employer, I kept something of a journal.  I would, in fact, journal quite a bit over the years.  Much of that stuff still exists in notebooks that are stuck in boxes and corners, awaiting my untimely demise, ready to find some emo-esque enjoyment on the part of my children no doubt.

Prior to the formality of my own URL, I was writing on another social media platform.  Side note:  I really do need to recycle...or at least read...some of that old content.

Anyway, the point is made:  I write a lot.  But why?

I think it's because writing allows me to process things that are sometimes too difficult for me to process otherwise.

Growing up, well let's just say that emotional expression wasn't exactly encouraged by my sole engaged parent.  As I've noted here from time to time, I think it was everything my Mother could muster just to keep four boys fed and clothed.  Granted that the Albert boys...

(circa 1970)

...could be something of a handful, but more than a half-century and my own parental experiences later, I can say with some certainty that we were actually among the better crop of young men in our respective age brackets.  Recent deep ponderings on my part yield the fact that there was likely more going on with my Mother, which for better or worse, pushed things like encouragement, developing healthy relationships, self-confidence, and managing adversity out of scope for us as life-lessons (at least as taught by my Mother).

Many of these skills I have learned...some the hard way, I will note...later in life, and I am grateful for that fact.  I do, however, think my late brother Chris may have struggled even more than yours truly when it comes to some of these lessons.  Let's hope that there is an afterlife and that he's there now, fully redeemed.

Anyway, I didn't learn how to manage emotions in a healthy manner growing up.  For some, that could equate to a lifetime of, for example, anger management issues, or maybe even self-medication/substance abuse.  For me?  It manifests itself through what I've learned is a kind of intellectualization of emotions.  Basically, I have difficulty understanding and expressing my feelings, so my lifetime coping mechanism has been to try and parse things out into logical chunks that I could more readily understand.  I turn how I am feeling into an exercise in data analysis, mostly because:

1) I am good at analyzing things


2) See above...I never learned about the healthy expression of emotions

I actually have to be careful here, as I could end up being guilty of the same set of actions in this very posting.  Simply put, it's easier for me to deal with emotions intellectually than it is for me to actually feel them.

The above is a workable strategy, to a point.  The wheels came off though with the rapid-fire loss of a job and a brother.  I've learned that there is no amount of logic could help me through the heartache of losing my brother.  In tandem, the anger I felt at the way in which I lost my last job defied a logical, intellectual understanding (see THIS posting).  I've actually felt guilty over feeling angry in that case.  In totality though, my ability to simply intellectualize my feelings was overwhelmed by the dual loss of a job and a sibling.  Rightfully so, I will add.

Now the rainman gave me two cures
Then he said, “Jump right in”
The one was Texas medicine
The other was just railroad gin
An’ like a fool I mixed them
An’ it strangled up my mind
An’ now people just get uglier
An’ I have no sense of time

For me, there is no Texas medicine (or railroad gin) that would actually help, which is actually a pretty good thing.  No, what happened to me has forced a kind of re-assessment of how I experience parts of the world...mostly the part of the world that sits inside my own head.  While I am grateful for the opportunity that my losses have given me for reflection and growth, part of me is a bit saddened at the revelnation/prospect of just how much I missed growing up.  Reflection will do that sometimes.  Now no parent is perfect, me especially, but I hope was able to provide more encouragement...more permission to my children than what I was given.  Hopefully, I've broken a cycle before it could continue.
Now the bricks lay on Grand Street
Where the neon madmen climb
They all fall there so perfectly
It all seems so well timed
An’ here I sit so patiently
Waiting to find out what price
You have to pay to get out of
Going through all these things twice

The song lyrics, by the way, are from Bob Dylan's "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again".  Highly recommended.

So where to from here?  Why even write this?

Well, I feel a bit unsure about posting this, but that hasn't stopped me before.  Besides, I do feel a kind of need to now "get on" with some things in my life, and I do think this is a part of the process.  What kind of chronology of my life would this be if it didn't include revelations of both the small and the big? 

In the end, I still can't give a complete voice to how I feel over Chris' death, but I do feel more at peace with having those feelings.  What's more, I have an understanding why the process of expressing those emotions has been so very difficult for me over this past year.

I'll call the above a win, all be it a hard-fought one.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Mark Your Calendars (Men): Saturday March 17th at 7pm

The Scranton Chapter...

(from THIS site)

...(also known as the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick) will hold it's annual (men only) banquet this Saturday, March 17th.

The fact that most of the men (only) in the room are Democrats adds just a dash of irony to the whole event.  If this were predominantly Republican event would there be moral outrage coming from all corners of NEPA?  Call me crazy, but I'm thinking that the answer is a resounding yes.

Now does the organization in question do good work?  I am sure that's the case.

Am I committing NEPA career suicide by event writing this post?  Maybe.

Will this post change anything?  A resounding no.

However, I do think this event speaks volumes about Northeastern Pennsylvania, particularly from the perspective of patriarchy, the over-sized influence of religion in the area, and a general resistance to change among local power brokers.   

I'll be waiting with bated breath for the glowing coverage of the event that no doubt be found in the Sunday edition of The Scranton Times.  Who knows?  Maybe that same edition will feature an outstanding editorial on the importance of having more women run for elected office in NEPA.

Note:  It's not just me; read a similar opinion in today's edition of the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Celebrating Scranton's High Profile Sausage Party

For the benefit of the uninformed, every year around Saint Patrick's Day a group in Scranton holds a special event where the politically and socially connected get together, listen to speeches, eat a grand dinner and generally hobnob.  It also happens to be a men-only event.

Yes, in 2018...nearly 100 years after women gained the right to vote via the 19th Amendment to the Constitution...Scranton has a dinner where those same women are not welcome.  What's just as astounding is the fact that the local newspaper gushes over this event year after year.

This is a gathering where, by my estimation, these same politically and socially connected engage in some self-congratulations on how well they, and by extension, the communities they lead, are doing.  Except for the fact that only the men can attend.  And except for the fact that northeastern Pennsylvania continues to be an area where unemployment is high, wages are low and graft has reached Olympic Gold Medal levels.

For the record, I know there is another event for the womenfolk.  There's even a phrase to describe such a thing.  Now, what is it?  Oh, "separate but equal".  Yeah, that's it.  A convenient excuse to continue a tradition that should have died 80 years ago.

Maybe at this year's event, the men can get together to talk about the ramifications of the #MeToo movement.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Hollies

My late brother Chris loved the Hollies.  On more than one occasion I would stop at his house and he would have a Hollies CD playing in the background.  Me? I was indifferent about Great Britain's quasi-answer to the Beach Boys (another group Chris liked...but I was indifferent to).  However, for reasons that escape me, I started to really listen to some of the Hollies' catalog last year.  Now?  It's just great, fun stuff.  In particular, Graham Nash's vocal contributions to the group are simply amazing.

Here's one song in particular:  I Can't Let Go.

I found the above YouTube video while looking the Linda Ronstadt version of this song; you can link to that HERE.

I've spent some time reading about The Hollies and Graham Nash lately.  Right before he left the group Graham Nash brought to The Hollies a song he recently wrote called Marrakesh Express.  Apparently, their indifference/disapproval of the song sealed the fate of Graham leaving the group.  I'll note that, for the record, I just happen to love Marrakesh Express; it has a kind of ethereal quality to it that I just can't quite pin down.

The distinctive musical sound of the song's recording, as I understand it, was the product of Stephen Stills.  I've listened to a few live versions of the tune and have been pretty unimpressed.

All aboard the train...


Sunday, February 18, 2018

A Separate Peace*

Revelations are an odd sort of thing.  What is a true revelation anyway?  Are they common or rare?  As for me personally, I simply don't come across revelations, of an important sort, all that often.  Maybe in the "less than the number of fingers I own" kind of frequency.

By way of definition, I can claim a revelation has occurred when an important thing happens:  I find myself in a position where, pre-revelation, I would feel/think/react in a certain way but now, post-revelation well, it's different.  A kind of small victory of sorts.

Anyway, my revelation is something of a follow-up to a prior posting1.  It breaks down to this:  I was very angry about how I lost my prior job.  Not the business rationale behind the decision (I understand that part).  Not how I was treated from a financial perspective post job-loss (exceptionally well, for which I am very grateful).  Not how my severance package was actually explained to me (with patience and understanding).  Rather, I was angry that the actual notice came in the form of a 30 second (or so) video call, devoid of compassion or empathy.  After nearly three decades of dedicated service, after having been a true patriot for my former employer, I deserved better than that, and it made me angry.  Exceptionally so.  I know that I've talked around that point a few times over the past year or so, but the whole thing is far more clear to me now.  I'm using the past tense here, and that's not entirely correct because I am still angry about it.  In fact, I may always be angry about it.

So here's the nut of the revelation:  I no longer feel guilty about feeling angry.  I no longer feel like I should just "get over it".  I am okay with my anger.  While I am angry over what happened, I am also at peace with that anger.  I accept the feeling for what it is, and for as long as it lasts. 

It seems oh so very simple to write this all out2, but in reality, it was far harder for me to get to this point.  Harder as in months worth of work.  Sometimes the simplest feelings can be the most difficult to understand.

(*) The title comes from THIS book, which I attempted to read once when I was in middle school.  "Attempted" as in unsuccessful due to a lack of motivation.
(1) Anger.
(2) It has actually taken about three hours to write this posting, including three major re-writes.  So much for simple.