This is … us

I am told I shouldn’t watch Dan Fogelman’s “This Is Us” on NBC because it turns me into a tearing soppy mess. Granted, to be honest, I am a sap when it comes to a lot of filmed stuff. I cry during LOTR and the Hobbit series, during Harry Potter, during Star Wars, during Wal-e and many of the the Pixar shorts (Piper being the latest), and shitty Meg Ryan/Nora Ephron flicks and so on.

Being a sap is something I am completely ok with. As much as my significant other gives me a hard time about pooling over in my own tears during the show it’s just me being who I am. And, I think they appreciate that show of emotion and vulnerability too.

We’ve only really briefly spoken about why the show touches me the way it does. There’s probably a thousand reasons why the show touches me to be honest. In part, it’s portrayal of the complexities of the family and social dynamics during the late 70s and 80s is striking considering my own recollections of the era growing up myself.

Moreso, what makes me cry is the dad, Jack Pearson. There’s a lot of reasons he stands out to me.

First, he’s portrayed in a way that most dads are not from that era — hell most dads of any era even now. Sure, he’s the breadwinner cliche. Sure, he’s the catalyst for the family’s decisions cliche. Sure, he’s playing the paternal role opposite Rebecca’s sacrifices, expectations, beliefs and matriarchal decisions.

But, he’s also given this much more sensible and softer side.
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An open letter to the United States Coast Guard and opposing the proposed Anchorage Grounds along the lower Hudson River, NY USCG-2016-0132

Dear United States Coast Guard, a subordinate of the United States Department of Homeland Security,

Thank you for your service to the United States, particularly New York state, since The Revenue Cutter Service and the United States Life-Saving Service were merged to become the Coast Guard by 14 U.S.C. § 1 in 1915. Through wartime and in peace your work has proven invaluable to our safety and security and the sacrifices made by your members are an important aspect to the viability of the citizens of the country to this day.

However, at this time I cannot support your current endeavor which appears to serve a limited number of corporate interests over that of the greater good of the citizens of the states of New York and New Jersey. I strongly oppose the proposed Anchorage Grounds along the lower Hudson River, NY known as USCG-2016-0132.

Over the last several decades the US Federal Government through a number of different agencies, the States of New York and New Jersey, the counties of Bergen, Rockland, Putnam, Westchester, Orange, Sullivan, Ulster, Dutchess, Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer and the Bronx as well as the many riverside cities and towns, a large number of local, regional and national not-for-profits including Clearwater, NYNJTC, the Dyson, the National Audobaun Society and many, many others spent countless dollars over recent decades in clean up and restoration of the Hudson Valley.

Ecologically speaking, the work has taken portions of the Hudson River from Superfund status to where it is today in the early stages of recovery. It includes $460,000,000 and counting investment in General Electric cleanup, over $100,000,000 so far in Dow Chemicals clean up & at least $100,000,000 in Indian Point ongoing issues, as well as the undisclosed amounts spent on the General Motors and Allied Refining / Steam Refiners Sugar sites to name some of the larger projects outside of the regular restoration necessary to undo damage by industrial & corporate abuse including intentional dumping, accidental spills and general toxic runoff as well as municipal mismanagement of waste and runoff that routinely re-harms the river.

Allowing additional docking on the river reintroduces the potential for these burdens to the still recovering ecosystem again and chances spills and other accidents that would recontaminate the river undoing the vast money spent and years of work to restore the area.

Furthermore, since the majority of the barges are expected to be petroleum products one should apply the industry’s track record with safety, environmental impact and clean-up accountability to the regional expectations of such a project.

In the Hudson River region alone a few examples of industry negligence include: April 2016 Englewood Boat Basin spill; May 2016 the Germantown Boat Launch pipe leak; May 2015 Indian Point Energy Center’s Tomkins Cove fire related spill; as well as larger and more famous issues like the Kill Van Kull spill in 2012; Diamond Reef / New Hamburg in 2005; the Arthur Kill spill in 2003 and the 420,000-gallon 1977 spill at West Point. That’s not even discussing the environmental impact of disasters like the Exxon Valdese in Alaska, the 2014 Baton Rouge incident that closed 65 miles of the Mississippi River, the 2013 Vicksburg, Mississippi spill and so many more. In some cases as little as 30 gallons of crude was recovered from spills of over 30 thousand gallons. And, in all cases the overall cost of cleanup and restoration to the environment was shouldered heavily by the local citizens.

Within the current proposal there appears to be very little study of the environmental impact of what leaks, spills and other toxic runoff from these anchorages. Furthermore there doesn’t appear to be any accident mitigation plan for dealing with potential leaks and spills nor any type of clean up and recovery plan that would hold the docked vessel owner’s liable for the environmental impact costs. Although, even if these were available, it still likely wouldn’t be insurance enough against the likelihood of an environmental problem.

Cost aside, however, the Hudson River valley supports irreplaceable ecosystems. Each stretch of the river provides unique habitats—including 40 state-designated significant wildlife habitats—essential for fish, birds, animals and plants.
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quip: truck jumps shark

How I know food trucks have jumped the shark? the popcorn truck

I’m sure they think they’ve “elevated” the experience and all … but fancy flavored popcorn is that holiday gift basket item that’s only one step removed from fruit cake and hickory farms gift baskets

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WFHWTF: Week Six

Technically, I worked from home to start and end the week, but the middle represented my transition back to being in the office full-time while my wife is home for the summer.

There’s so many things that are strange in all of this.

In all the year’s we’ve been together she’s almost always taught summer school so for her to be home more than a couple of weeks just feels odd to contemplate. It will be far from a vacation since she will be transferring to a new school that will require new lesson plans, departmental prep work, etc. on top of managing the household alone with the Padawan growing as quickly as they are toward mobility.

It’s also weird for me after so much time working from home alone with the Padawan for that routine to change again. In the two days we were apart it was tough to keep focused and work toward a new in-office routine. I found myself constantly checking the clock for our old pattern of doing things and my mind drifting anytime I was away from my desk to what it would be like to take that break instead to do a bottle feeding or a stroll around the block or to sit on the porch and read a book together. It was an adjustment not to have those daily discoveries together, those unique bonding moments only we could have because we were alone getting through the day.

It was strange not having to think through what to do when I had to take a shit or make a cup of coffee and just be able to get up and do it. Continue reading

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The Hab-nots are at it again

When I’m not rooting for the Washington Capitals I am a Montreal Canadiens fan. The storied history of the franchise interests me in a similar way to following the Yankees and Arsenal FC. It didn’t hurt that they won a Cup early on when I was still somewhat new to hockey and had a stacked team that included a flamboyant goalie who would go on to put up ridiculous numbers.

That being said, since then watching the Habs franchise is sometimes like watching a train wreck in slow motion. And, you know you should turn away, but somehow you just can’t bring yourself to it. It’s painful and intriguing at the same time.

Their latest implosion of epic proportions was trading franchise defensiveman PK Subban. PKS is one of my favorite current players and a big reason why I follow Les Habitants as closely as I do these days. He’s dynamic and exciting on the ice with a huge, giving personality off it. Unfortunately, there are some in the Habs world who have a love-hate relationship with PKS, meaning they love to hate him and it’s been that way pretty much since he broke into the NHL.

So, what did the Habs to with their star player? Oh, they traded him, of course. And, not just any trade, but one that makes them markedly worse both immediately and in the medium term. It is a terrible move by the Habs that has next to ZERO redeeming value. Not quite the fleecing that Jersey just did on the Oilers but pretty close. Continue reading

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wfhwtf: week five

This week marks the end of the final full week of working from home with Padawan. It’s bittersweet in many ways. While I will enjoy the routine of being back at the office and the ability to focus on big projects for extended periods of time I will miss all of the little things that made being at home special.

The experience provided me insights about what I could or should feel is a priority at any given moment. Everybody interprets the inputs of the world slightly different and in my days at home there was a definite change in perception about all things. Some as simple as the importance, or at times relative lack thereof, of a well brewed cup of hot coffee or cereal that still had its crunch, while some were more complex like whether to keep email and messenger constantly open or not during the day in case an “urgent” message came in. The infamous work-life balance was put to all kinds of tests throughout and for the most part, I can say, the concept although awkward passed muster for the most part. I am fortunate that both work and life cooperated as much as they did and I not only came away sane, I am a better person for having experience all the time home with Padawan.

Padawan this week taught me about patience first and foremost. They tested mine. I tested theirs. We both threw things that probably resemble tantrums at times and yet, we both seemed to understand that while patience is a virtue it’s intricately tied to many other things like the expression of needs and the expectation when and how they are able to be met and the gratefulness of them being met.

From about maybe the end of last week through most of this week Padawan explored a bunch of different ways to express needs, the most interesting one was the pouty face. Continue reading

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wfhwtf: week four

This is week four of the continuing journey of working from home. Actually, it’s been more than four weeks total, but for this leg of the journey it’s the fouring consecutive week.

You would think by four weeks in this would begin to become old hat. In some ways, the routine Padawan & I have created works really, really well – when it works. The morning breast feeding is followed up by sleepy time while my wife heads to work and I head to the computer to take care of the overnight emails and early videoconferences. The mid-morning feeding is followed by mat-time. If I have videoconferences it’s alone playtime if I don’t it is together-time on the mat. Either way, there’s usually a short nap while I work more then the mid-day bottle. Afterwards there’s usually a long nap which either side of is time in the chair which depending on which type of playtime the morning was we do the opposite this time if the meeting schedule allows for it. Then there’s the mid-afternoon bottle and that’s followed up with more mat-time which we rotate again depending on what we did for the last playtime and what mood Padawan is in. There’s usually some short nap in there as well before my wife returns home in time for the late afternoon feeding. We get lots of language time in – he gets to listen to the conference calls, I read emails aloud to him and think aloud explaining to him what I am doing. We do a lot of music listening throughout the day (see Padawan Playlists series) and, of course, get lots of other activities together between naps and bottles – all still while getting all my work done. It wouldn’t be possible without a lot of pieces falling into place, not the least of which is how awesome Padawan has been in acclimating to the schedule…

But, it’s more the things I learn about from him with all this time together that’s most exciting.

This week we learned he seems to like the idea of drums. Continue reading

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