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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

...and the rock cried out no hiding place

See THIS LINK for a reference to the title.

Fun fact:  This is the second time in about 11 years that I've used this blog post title.  The first time was on November 22, 2010.  That was a pretty trying time for me actually.  I'm not making any comparisons from then to now, but it has been something of a bumpy ride for me over the past year, pretty much coming to a head at the end of June.

Details on the above aren't needed (and, if provided, might actually get me in trouble anyway), but what I will share is this:  My personal life has been nothing short of great.  My health is okay (I need to lose some weight...).  My children seem to be doing well.  My professional life though has been a struggle.  For me, that has been a big deal.  A very big deal.

Understand that what I do for a living, and where I do it, has had an over-sized impact on my life.  Growing up I was just a poor, ungainly tall, awkwardly thin kid from a housing project and I just knew that I had to do better.  I didn't know what "better" was, other than the fact that one day I wanted to have a house where I could plant Marigolds, just like my well-off cousins had at their houses.  It was as simple as that, believe it or not.
(Age 11; I look like a Muppet.)

I have been fortunate most of my working life, by the way.  I worked for a wonderful organization for 28 organization that both makes money and helps people live better lives.  Despite losing my job to a corporate reorganization in December of 2016, I am exceptionally proud to be an official retiree of the Prudential Insurance Company of America.  I even have my signed certificate of retirement framed.  If I do nothing else professionally, I would still be able to look back and say "I did well".

Since then, well, it's been a struggle.  Sometimes, for whatever reason, we just don't fit into an organization well, regardless of talent or desire (or lack of desire).  That struggle culminated in late June (as noted above), with me once again finding myself being corporate re-organized into a free agent.  Long story short, my free agency was to be short-lived, and I started a new job on July 22nd.  It's my honest hope that this will be the last full-time job I have until I "really" retire, which will be in something like 10 years.  All signs point to this being both possible and desireable at my new employer.

There are people to thank in all of this, none the least of which is Ms. Rivers, who has known just how difficult of a ride the past year has been for me, and who literally kept me sane.  I also have a great group of co-workers to thank at my last employer; they helped me in ways that they never realized.  Last but certainly not least, I have the senior leadership team at my new employer to thank for giving me this opportunity to re-anchor myself in productive, meaningful work.

Finally, I will admit that I didn't want to write this posting.  I just don't want that kind of attention.  But I can't both avoid this and just write about other stuff, which explains why I haven't published anything since July 12th.  I need to get these sentiments out of the way now and resume the ruminations over other mundane things, per the usual at  Why?  Listen to the song:  There's no hiding place down here.

More to come.

(I actually do plant Marigolds, ever year.)

Friday, July 12, 2019

It's (business) day 11...

...since I found myself with some extra free time as a result of a corporate restructuring.  Here is my to-do list:
I'm not that concerned about confidentiality for my list, as I can barely read my own handwriting (make that "hand-printing").  Note to self:  I actually completed #23 on Monday.

Actually, one would think that I should have written this posting 11 days ago, but I've been somewhat conflicted about the notion of this blog entry.  On one hand, I do share a lot on this website.  In fact, over the years some of these postings, and the discipline associated with organizing my thoughts such that they make sense for the public Internet, have really helped me deal with some significant life events.  On the other hand, I loathe anything remotely resembling sympathy from anyone.  I just don't want it.

Anyway, a number of the folks in the department I worked in at my last employer, including the person I reported to, were laid off in late June.  If this was my first experience with corporate downsizing, well, I'd be more unnerved by the whole thing.  As it stands though, I am now an official veteran at such things (see The Watch).  I wasn't entirely surprised by these events; a benefit of being hyper-vigilant is the fact that I sensed something was possibly coming.   Regardless of staging or intent, the fact remains that I am now a free-agent of sorts.  Just to get the thought out of the way, I'll note that I hold no ill-will towards any person or organization.  Being bitter for more than two minutes about anything in life is a ridiculous waste of time and energy, both of which are too precious to squander.

I'll note that I am actually fine.  Really and truly fine.  Well outside of the bit of sunburn I got on my feet from pressure washing the back deck on Wednesday.  I should have expected that to happen, seeing as though I basically have albino feet and I was wearing water shoes with plenty of wide-open plastic webbing.  This means, by the way, that I have sunburned diamonds on the top of my feet.  I'd share a picture, but it honestly just looks ridiculous.  And my feet are just generally gross.  And so I digress.

So what's next?  Well, I have a to-do list, see above, but I get bored easily, so that is already starting to get tedious for me. The obvious answer is that there are new professional challenges ahead of me; I just need to find them.  First, though, I have to put some Aloe Vera gel on my feet.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Scranton & Rights

With the guilty plea of Scranton's former Mayor on three felony charges (reference HERE), there continues to be quite a bit written about "rights", as in "city residents have a right to ___________".  As I read all of this stuff, some coming from the horde of anonymous commentators (having the online equivalent of beer muscles), I do think there are some clear lines in the sand.
  1. Scranton residents have a right to an explanation from the former Mayor His attorney publicly proclaimed his innocense multiple time in the media.  This means that, in addition to explaining his felonious actions, he also needs to explain why his attorney lied on his behalf about his (lack of) innocence.
  2. Scranton residents have a right to know who else in city hall is implicated.  If media reports are true, there may be city employees on the payroll as I write this who participated in the former Mayor's illegal activities.  Authorities need to identify all of the players by name.  These individuals need to be fired.
  3. Scranton residents have a right to know exactly who "paid to play".  Bribery works because there are two willing partners.  If a city vendor paid the former Mayor in order to continue to do business in Scranton, barring their proactive participation in the investigation, those vendors need to have their contracts nullified.  
  4. Municipal employees have a right to a presumption of innocence This is precisely why "names need to be named".  Not every municipal employee participated in the former Mayor's fraud; in fact, the vast majority did not.  How do I know this?  Well, call it a combination of age and common sense:  Illegal activities need some degree of secrecy to function, which means a limited scope of participants.  Innocent city employees should be freed from guilt by association. 
Lastly, rights, as such, always come with obligations.  For example, with our right to free speech comes an obligation to not use that same free speech to yell "fire!" in a crowded movie theater.  Scranton residents have an obligation in all of this mess, namely to vote.  Based on what I've read over the years, about 1 in 3 eligible voters in the City of Scranton actually cast a ballot in any given election.  In addition to simply being utterly pathetic, voter apathy is the fertilizer that helps fraud grow in government.  For there to be actual, real change in how Scranton is governed, people have to get out and vote.  In the end, you get the government you (do not) vote for, and we all know how that works out, at least in Scranton.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

"...and he said Nothing as he entered the courthouse"

Now former Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright said nothing to reporters as he entered a federal courthouse in Williamsport to plead guilty to three felonies, all involving money and corruption.  You can read the actual indictment HERE.  You can see a video of (a silent) Mr. Courtight entering the courthouse HERE.

Folks can make their own judgments about the felonies committed by the former mayor.  In terms of actions, what I will say is this:  Bill Courtright owes the residents of Scranton a public explanation.  It's simply not acceptable to merely fade off into a perp walk sunset.  Scranton residents invested in his administration.  He had some good people working for his administration, and they are owed an explanation as well.

This whole sad episode is particularly stinging because it's NOT 1960.  Growing up in Scranton in years past, you expected this kind of thing.  It was "how things are done".  There was, for far too long, a conspiracy of silence when it came to politicians and certain groups in the Scranton area.  The newspapers were complicit, the Church was complicit, unions were complicit, and far too many residents were complicit as well.  It was a system designed to help the well off and occasionally throw some crumbs down off the table to a few, just to keep their hopes up.  It was a system that we had hoped was just about dead.  Given Bill Courtright's brazen felonies, the system isn't quite so dead after all.

In the end, maybe one of the worst crimes committed by Bill Courtright is the one he was not indicted under, namely making so many believe that municipal corruption was a thing of the past.