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Wednesday, December 30, 2020


Many years ago, when Ms. Rivers and I first started dating (that sounds pathetic coming from someone who isn't in their 20's or younger, but so I digress), I remember her telling me that she would not allow her sons to watch "The Family Guy".  Given the content of the show, I was hardly in a position to argue the point.  That, however, hasn't been what's stuck with me all these years later.

Before I go further, to make sense of this posting, the first thing you need to realize that the show is actually titled...

Family Guy


The Family Guy

The second thing to know is that the moment I find something off-beat and funny, well, I'll literally beat it to death to the point of being ridiculous. 

To that second point, all these years later, I've taken to adding random "The" to things.  For example...

Today we are going to the Philadelphia

Where the show "It's Always Sunny in the Philadelphia" takes place

Last Sunday I had the Turkey Loaf for dinner

I got my younger stepson a vintage poster from the Supertramp for his bedroom

I enjoy listening to a CD from the Roxette on my drive to work

I have a great family doctor at the Geisinger

My younger stepson likes it when his Mom makes the eggs in a hole for breakfast

The odder the place where I can insert a "the", well, the better.  Why?  I can't really explain why, other than the fact that in some small way it amuses me and that I always need to have lots of different things pinging around in my head at any given time, including finding odd places where I can insert a "the".  Fortunately, Ms. Rivers is pretty tolerant of my rampant silliness.  Given the other myriad of things I could be doing, well, this seems like a minor inconvenience.

On a happier note, it's almost the 2021, which is truly good news.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Happy Christmas


If ever a nation...and a world...absolutely needed Christmas, it is now, in the year 2020.  I don't know that there is much more I can actually add to that point.  If anything, maybe the legacy of 2020 in general, and Christmas 2020 in particular, will be that the things that truly matter most don't come from stores and aren't delivered in the mail.  These are things like the health of our family members and friends, and the knowledge that a bit of sacrifice every now and then for the greater good, even if that sacrifice is as simple as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, is good for the soul.

I understand that what I noted above may not make that much sense for those who are missing a loved one who passed away, especially if the cause was COVID-19.  Then again, there is pretty much nothing I can say in general that can explain or just make a bit of sense about the loss of a friend or family member.  If there was, I would have told myself that a while ago.  In these cases, I think we just need to try and understand that there are parts of the natural world that are beyond our ability to comprehend.  This seems to me to be part of the best argument out there for a higher power, something that is greater than us and which helps creates some order out of what certainly seems like a senseless and chaotic universe.

Finally, I try not to give advice here, mostly because (A) I am unqualified and (B) Why would anyone listen to me anyway?  Yet, this being an extraordinary time, I will do just that:  This Christmas, we should all cherish those friends and family members we can see and spend time with, even if that's as simple as a loving cat or dog.   The world will change and things will get better...we just need to be patient for a little bit longer.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

8 Minutes of Retractions


8 Minutes of retractions by right-wing media outlets where they back-track on claims of election fraud in 2020.  

In a notably crappy 2020, this is a kind of year-end gift for the sane.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

2021 The Time It Will Be

I want to go to an IKEA in the worst of ways.  

I'll qualify that previous statement by saying that there basically isn't anything I actually need from IKEA.  I just want to go there.  I want to experience it.  As I've probably noted before, IKEA is in my mind probably the best brick-n-mortar retailer on the planet.  These smart Swedes have turned shopping into something of an experience that almost (well at least for me) transcends the need to actually buy things.  Mind you, I actually do buy things at IKEA, which is the other part of the genius of the place.  

There's something bigger though this time around as I rant about my favorite retailer.  Based on the crap-fest that has been 2020, on multiple levels, I think many of us just want to be able to do simple things that seem, well, normal in 2021.  We miss the normal things, and I also think that some of us are secretly (or not so secretly) afraid that "normal" will never come back.  That may be right, and it actually may be for the best.  

We will not be able to go back to the idea that our technology and modern way of life somehow insulates us from the basic things in the natural world.  Viruses don't care about things going "viral" online, as they have the real thing on their side.  Literally.

We will not be able to go back to the idea that we have this "better" version of democracy.  2020 has shown us that we are actually one conspiracy theory away from the banana republics we previously mocked.

We will not be able to go back to ignoring the essential workers out there while simultaneously idolizing adults that play games for a living.  Nurses (for example) did the hard, dangerous work of the pandemic.  Professional athletes played games in front of cardboard spectators.  The logic here seems pretty simple.  

We will not be able to go back to thinking that racists are just these small groups of hillbillies who secretly meet in the woods for beer and the occasional religious symbol burning.  Nope, they very well may live right next door.  Or across the street. Or maybe working in the White House*.

"Normal", it seems, may very well be a relative term.  That sounds so gloom and doom to me when I read the above back to myself.  Yet more often than not, for something new to be built, something old has to be destroyed.  If you live a full life into your 50's this becomes oh so abundantly clear.  A least to me.

So what new will be built?  I can't say with much conviction I know the answer to that, at least not on a macro-level.  Some of that stuff is just too far above my pay-grade.  What I can talk about is me, and it feels like I've talked a lot about myself in these postings over the years.  In a nutshell, basically, I need some relative sense of stability so that I can pry myself out of what can best be described as an on-going crisis mode.  Part of this is my career.  Part of this is doing a better job of truly letting go of some ghosts of the past.  And we all have ghosts of the past by the way; it's just that mine seem to rent more space in my head than they actually pay for and deserve.

What I will say about the world at large is this:  Maybe all of this pandemic despair and political insanity will help us collectively realize that it truly is the basic, simple things in life that matter the most.  Things like...

Being kind to each other...

Being considerate...

Assuming positive intent (until there is actual evidence to the contrary)...

Acknowledging that name-calling and racist dog-whistles are bad (especially coming from a leader)...

Acknowledging that we are far dependent on each other than we want to believe...

Being kinder to ourselves...

That last one is a bit of a dual-use statement, as the dirty (not so) secret thing here is that I am far, far more critical of myself than I would ever tolerate in someone else being critical of another.  The former is a learned trait.  The good news though is that while we can't really "un-learn" something, we can always learn new things.

So, for 2021, let's all learn some new things.  Some good things.


(*) Do I personally feel that all the people who voted for the current (as of December 20, 2020) sitting president are racists?  No.  I do, however, think they are more tolerant of racists than they should be.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

2020 The Time It Was

Decades from now, if I'm still around, I'll be reading the history books about the horror that was the year 2020.  Of course, there was (well, now, "is") the pandemic.  Then we had a president who believed in American democracy...but only to the extent that it allowed him to do whatever he wanted.  Then we have murder hornets.  The passing of an iconic Supreme Court justice (the Notorious RBG).  And countless other things.

What will stick out the most for me?

Well, before I answer that, I want to note that I'm not minimizing the tragedy of COVID-19.  We are, at the moment, nowhere near the end of this, so I'm sure there will be grim entries yet to come.  But yet, while I've known people who got sick (and a former boss who died from it), some of the collateral that goes with it hasn't been too terrible for me.  Saving a trip to a restaurant isn't the worst thing that could ever happen to me.  In fact, if people didn't get sick and die...if all we had to do was deal with social distancing, wear masks, wash hands, and staying home more often...well, I think it would be fine with me.  I know, that may sound terrible, but as I often say, it has the benefit of being true.

Anyway, the worst part of 2020 for me was the 6 months I spent between employers.  As I noted (probably too often) before, when you work for an employer for nearly 28 years, and then find yourself in the job market, well, it becomes something of a small trauma.  Except for the fact that I have worked for four different employers since that 28-year stint.  In three of the four cases, well, my hope was that it would be my final career stop.  That was not to be.  Well, I am hopeful for one of those stops (see below).  You see, I just wasn't equipped for the whole four employers in four years thing.  I wasn't intellectually equipped, and I wasn't emotionally equipped.  It's just not me.

Like most things in life though, it is the hard times that become something of a down-payment for the good times in our lives.  It's the bad times that help us better understand ourselves and appreciate the good times.  It's every blues song ever written.  It is all the grand cycle of life.

The above seems to be true for me, at least in the case of all I have experienced, sans one* glaring example.

Getting back to the dumpster fire that is 2020, my 6 months in the trenches of a job search laid bare some of the worst that pings around in my head.  It would do that to anyone.  I'm connected to a few folks on LinkedIn who are still battling a job search, for longer than my 6 months, and I'm shocked that some of them still manage to get up every day and keep trying.  Yet they do.  I will gladly say that many of these folks are better than I am, in more than a way or two.  Count me among the fortunate.

Speaking of fortune, sometimes it comes at your sideways, where you least expect it.  So it was for me, with more than 6 dozen employment prospects having not worked out, I ended up seeing an posting that I almost ignored.  It wasn't the kind of organization I had any experience with, which left me with thoughts of "they would never be interested in me".  Yet for some reason, I thought to myself "what the heck...I'll apply".  I expected even less from that application than I did from just about anything else I sought interest in during those 6 months.  

Oddly enough, it worked.  It really worked.  An unexpected phone call and two formal interviews later and I type this a fully employed human person.  For more than 60 days now.  It sounds like a cliche, but there are times when I just want to pinch myself, as it doesn't seem quite real.  I feel a mix of good fortune and cautious optimism (the latter of which is far harder for me to process than it probably is for others, as I have been told I am wired for "when it's good it's bad").  

All of this reminds me of the fact that life isn't a freeway, but instead, it's sometimes like the worst turning circle on Earth.  I'm going to be thinking about these experiences for a very long time to come.  That's the worst-case by the way.  The best case?  Well, maybe I'll just be happy.      

(*) My one glaring example:  I doubt I will ever see the good side of losing my brother.  He should still be here, and I can say with 1000% honesty that I truly miss him.