Monday, December 15, 2008

Beyond The Grave

I'm intrigued by death. I can't help it. Maybe it's because my family has been involved with running and operating a cemetary since I was a kid. Death, was, and remains, the ultimate unknown. My religion tells me that living a good life and doing the "right things" will be rewarded upon death by entrace into "heaven." But I don't know what "heaven" is. Maybe it's the achievement of eternal tranquility for someone's soul. Maybe it's not a place or destination, but instead a concept that one's spirit will rest peacefully after doing "the right thing" during our physical existance.

All types of death seem to have made their presence in my life. Cancer, heart attack, stroke, suicide, car accidents, etc. Everytime we hear about the passing of someone we know, it usually results in the contemplation of our own mortality. It makes me wonder when I will die and how I will die. Do you go to heaven? hell? Is there reincarnation? Who knows. I'm not sure there is alot of value trying to determine those things, since there seems to be a power greater than us that is controlling the action. When we are born, we are born with an expiration date. At least, that's what I'm believing more and more as the years go on. It's the only way I can make sense of seeing people die prematurely.

After my last few breaths have been taken, I hope i've lived a life that has made a positive impact on others and that I reach my spiritual destination of "heaven." Oh, and if "heaven" happens to be a place where the Mets always win the World Series and I can TiVo Celebrity Rehab, that'll make it all the better.

By the way, if you want to see a riveting and dramatic portrayel of the dying process, check out "Dying at Grace", a documentary on the Sundance Channel.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Burning the Career at Both Ends

You really get to understand what certain people are made of during times of crisis. Maybe that's where the idea of "fight vs. flight" originated. When times are tough, people will usually either "fight," with determination to push themselves and do whatever it will take to persevere, or they will opt for "flight" and obsolve themselves of any responsibility and resign themselves to a fate, they believe, is unchangeable.

Lately, every day starts with the same news. More layoffs.....oops..i mean "corporate restructuring." Companies are implementing strategies of stop-loss, the work force has been decimated by job loss and financial loss, and all this has likely resulted in confidence loss.

People commonly (mistakenly) identify themselves through their career. Take away the career, and these same people are left to put the remaining square pegs into downsized holes.
When i was informed of my job loss in 2001 due to corporate restructuring and the closing of our office, I immediately left work and started developing a plan. When I say I "immediately" left work, I mean literally. The company announced the office was closing in 60 days and I left before he could finish his announcement and went home to work on my "workforce re-entry plan" (sounds militaristic, doesn't it?). Updating resumes, hitting the pavement, working with job recruiters, etc. Doing whatever it took, I dedicated all available time to marketing my skills. The payoff, was when i landed a new job, 45 days later.

Sadly, there are those affected by layoffs that may experience symptoms of depression, anger, resentment, and lack of motivation that become an obstacle for them re-entering the work force. What was a month, quickly turns into a year without a well designed plan. When I went through the layoff process in 2001, I networked with all resources available. Family, friends, colleagues, etc. It was "all hands on deck" and sitting at home comfortably collecting unemployment was not an option I was comfortable with.

For those people who are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst, congratulations, at least you are preparing. For those people hoping for the best and assuming the know what they say about people who "ass-u-me", right?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pirates of the Millenium?

Look out Captain Hook. Move over Jack Sparrow. Hell, even the obscure former Pittsburgh Pirate Mike Lavalliere better step aside. The Somalia Pirates are in town. No, they are not after your gold, they are after ship?

Did I miss the memo about pirates re-introducing themselves as modern day villains? Seriously, there are PIRATES on the open sea that are attacking sovereign ships. Ships carrying freight, ships carrying imports, and most recently ships carrying vacationers. Why would these "Pirates" (arrr!) want to hijack a cruise liner? Are hawiian shirts and ugly sovenior mugs worth alot of money these days?

What ever happened to the routine armed robbery, ya know, where you didn't have to do it with a patch on your eye and a jewel-emblazoned sword. Hasn't criminality advanced beyond this archaic idea of "pirates" by now? Reading about these modern day Pirates makes me long for the good ol' days when robbers used ski masks and a 9 millimeter Glock.

And the media outlets are not even mentioning how these pirates of the high seas are defaming the great baseball organization, the Pittsburgh Pirates. I picture poor Mike LaValliere, or "spanky" as he was often referred, trying to simply buy a loaf of bread at the store only to be refused the sale because he use to be a Pirate. It's not even Mike LaValliere that's been affected by these so-called Pirates, think about former Pittsburgh Pirate Barry Bonds. He tried to rob the home run record from Hank Aaron and now he's being dragged through the performance enhancing mud.

So, for all the Somali Pirate readers that follow my blog, please drop the "pirate" label from your activities. Real Pirates are feeling the affects of your random hijackings. If you are looking for a group name that represents stealing, pillaging, and fleecing, then I recommend changing your name to "Fannie Mae."