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Aug. 30th, 2012

09:07 am - The Boy Scouts

Last month, the Boy Scouts of America re-affirmed the organization's policies excluding gay, atheist, and agnostic youth. The policies have bothered me as an adult, especially when deciding whether, when, and how to introduce my own son to the organization when he was of the appropriate age. However, the policies did not perturb me when I was a Scout 30 years ago, to the extent I was aware of them (and, to be fair to myself, those regarding gay youth and leaders were not explicit at the time).

For the past few weeks, I have been considering whether and how to respond to the announcement. Some holders of the Eagle award have been sending their badges back to the BSA. I had been leaning more toward Scouting For All's position -- sending the badge to them to hold in trust against the day the BSA relents.

Last Saturday, I decided against doing so. To be clear, I vehemently disagree with the BSA's policy. They are a private organization with a legal right to discriminate in their membership policies, but I find the discrimination repugnant and incompatible with the stated principles of scouting, including elements of the Oath ("To help other people at all times") and the Law (Chad Underkoffler chadu, whom I have never met but whose writings I have enjoyed for years, has described this here). I dearly hope the BSA moves to a less exclusionary view, as I have done in my own life and views. But whether or not they do, their decision and its timing do not make my time as a Scout any less a part of my past. It is certainly not the only part of my past associated with negatives, and there were positives as well. Life is like that.

I was an Eagle Scout, Troop 488, Capital Area Council, Texas, 1984. I still am. I look forward to the day when I can again view this award with unalloyed pride.

Jul. 3rd, 2010

07:17 pm - Breaking radio silence

I do almost all of my personal broadcasting 140 characters at a time these days. Rather than use one of the applications that would tweet-spam my LJ friendslist, I'll just post the link here once in a while for anyone who might want to follow.


Feb. 5th, 2010

07:21 am - Napoli

I woke up early for some reason, after dreams of airports . . . the trip each way to Naples was 20+ hours, door-to-door, so the latter is hardly surprising.

Due to weather delays in DC last Saturday, I was rebooked through Atlanta. Then the weather delays hit here, just after I got on the plane. This resulted in running through ATL to the Madrid flight -- and I'm really not in shape for that kind of thing, much less while wearing work shoes! I caught the flight with seconds to spare.

I actually dozed for a couple hours on the plane (a redeye), which turned out to be a mistake. My glasses disappeared while I was asleep and were nowhere to be found. My vision's not horrible, but bad enough that reading signs in airports in foreign languages was a problem! Had a lengthy layover in Madrid, and eventually got to Naples about 4-5 hours behind original schedule. Miraculously, my suitcase was there.

Unfortunately, Internet access wasn't. This was a nice, modern hotel, catering to business clients, and normally had wifi. However, they had a contract dispute with their wifi provider and had no service this week. I could keep up with e-mail, barely, on my phone's international data plan, but I'm really not that good at typing on it.

The meeting was very good and productive over the next two days, and the evening dinners were spectacular. Though I really wasn't up to much walking -- Naples is somewhat hilly, and my legs still ached from Atlanta. The first night was a formal four-course dinner in a high-end hotel's private room. The second night was pizza! Both very good and very filling. (Lunches were served at the host hotel.)

I had one day for touring, but with my sore legs and blurred vision (and chilly rain), I wasn't up to much of it. I spent much of Wednesday asleep, but did make it out to the nearby shopping district to buy a new hat. I didn't have the money for Italian shoes, but I could buy an Italian fedora :-). Not a name brand, but at 10 Euros from a street vendor, and it fit just right, it was what I needed.

The trip home began with a 4:30am cab (10:30pm Wed. Eastern time). The flight to Rome was smooth, but then I couldn't find the shuttle to the international terminal, and blew most of my layover waiting in the wrong place (see "lost glasses," above). So, no breakfast . . . Then the long flight to Dulles, which actually arrived quite early. Immigration, Customs, etc., then back home. A bit of communication mixup with my ride from the airport added another half-hour, but that was the least of the worries.

Eye exam this morning and optician, then hope to make it to work in time for afternoon appointments (I say "hope," as I still can't drive myself).

The trip, in brief.

Oct. 12th, 2009

08:51 am - Stuart M. Kaminsky, 1934-2009

One of my favorite mystery writers. Extremely engaging without being overly flashy. I first came across his Abe Lieberman character, and went on to either sample (Peters) or devour (Rostnikov, Fonesca) his other series. I guess now I can catch up.

Wikipedia entry

He will be missed.

Oct. 26th, 2008

08:01 pm - Dealing

I've been on medical leave for the better part of two weeks. A combination of things, for which I am getting treatment. I hope to go back to work part-time the week following this one (November 3). For faculty not teaching, working part-time greatly resembles working full-time, so I won't have to worry about affecting income.

I'm really fretting about the work being missed, which doesn't help the health issues. The worst of it is missing weeks of calculus lectures (worst in the sense of hardest to catch up on). The prof is very good and very clear -- the book, not so much. I worked on it some today until I got stuck. There's a part I'm just not getting from the book. So there's not much more I can do there until I can meet with the TA when I'm back on campus. Meanwhile, I'm checking and responding to work e-mail more than I should while out -- again, doesn't help the recovery.

Only so much online gaming I can do.

Bored, but dealing.

Have good friends.

Aug. 24th, 2008

09:08 am - Math is hard

Just did my first calculus homework -- precalculus really -- and there's definitely rust in my brain.

Me and Barbie . . .

Aug. 20th, 2008

10:17 am - You're doing it wrong

From the Washington Post Online:

No Break on Costs of Textbooks
Prices of new textbooks rise as publishers try to compete with an expanding trade in used books.

I think there's a fundamental misunderstanding of "compete" here.

Aug. 17th, 2008

08:40 pm - Idle thought

Between the states where gambling is seen as a sin and the ones where gambling is seen as a trap from which the poor should be protected (often a different set, I would think), it's a marvel PowerBall exists.

Aug. 6th, 2008

03:12 pm - Red tape x2

Two instances today.

First, I'm helping a revise a federal grant proposal. The first proposal was 133 pages. The actual grant text began on page 100. 99 pages of required forms and supporting material.

Second, I finally got cleared to register for the calculus class this Fall, a process that has taken most of a month. And the highly-recommended instructor's sections are now full. On the plus side, the section I did get into does not meet at 8am.

Aug. 3rd, 2008

09:21 am - Land of the Free

US Border Agency Says It Can Seize Laptops (WaPo)

As part of border search policy, government agents are now authorized to seize electronic devices and inspect documents in them, the document states. The electronic devices might include laptops, cell phones, portable music players or storage devices such as portable hard drives.

I wonder how the "if you have nothing to hide" crowd is reacting to this.

I think I'll be checking out a laptop from work next time I'm abroad on business, but most people probably won't have that option.

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