Monday, September 29, 2008
What really needs to happen is that people need to pay their bills. Despite the economic crisis, there are still plenty of folks with full carts at Wal-Mart, the mall parking lot is still packed. Are these the folks are carrying too much debt and can't pay their bills? I suspect some of them are. There are many Americans out there that don't have their priorities strait, they have houses or apartments full of electronics, DVD players and other gadgets, but their debt is going bad. Costing the rest of us money in our IRAs.
They say the root cause of the problem is the decline in home prices. Did anyone stop to think that these houses may have been overvalued in the first place? I over paid for my house, and even with the recent declines, is worth more than it was when I bought it, and it is still over priced. Of course, I didn't overextend myself to buy it either. I don't have a BMW 7 series parked out front (seriously, someone in my neighborhood does) and while I would love a bigger house with some land, I knew I couldn't really afford it, even if I could have been approved for the loan. It is that sort of common sense that more Americans should have used, which they didn't that got us into the financial crisis.
The best part of this scam is that "nobody saw this coming", well, it was pretty obvious if you ask me. I remember that several years ago my grandfather was talking about mortgage backed securities, and how they used to be good safe investments, but they are more risky now, and more people won't be paying off their loans. This was at least 4 years ago. The entire United States government couldn't figure this out back then and make some simple, and cheap, adjustments to prevent this. I'm OK with minor government regulation of items of national importance, that is a good role for government, to be a guiding hand, but not to be in the middle of everything micromanaging it completely. So we know that the government isn't the best at managing financial matters, but if they couldn't figure it out, surely the smart folks on Wall Street could, right? Sure they could, they knew what was going on, the just figured that there would be always be another sucker to pass these securities to after they made some money. What others have called, the "last sucker".
The 700 billion dollar Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 make taxpayers the "last sucker".
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
His first pack meeting is on Tuesday night. I hope to get a good picture of him in full uniform. Well, at least with everything he has so far. I really wish he had the belt, it is a pretty important part of the uniform as far as looks go. And once he starts earning belt loops, they'll need a place to go. The good news is that his belt should be here before the October pack meeting, which is when he would have his first chance to be awarded a belt loop.
So, we ate at Layton's concessions, just a little stand that had stools, everyone got a seat but Zoe, she was just too short!
Of course, there are rides too!
We are missing some critical pictures. Well, they aren't missing, we just didn't take them. One of the great things about the Great Frederick Fair are the agriculture exhibits. At first, Alex and Aaron, especially Alex, didn't want to see the animals, in their mind, they just didn't compete with the rides. But they saw cows get milked, an alpaca competition, more cows, goats, pigs, various fowl and rabbits. There were no animals giving birth while we were there, but there were some new born piglets and calves. They also saw a miniature donkey and a miniature horse. The best part was that once we got started, Alex and Aaron got into it!
Friday, September 19, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
While thinking about the uniform that I will probably be wearing by this time next year, I thought about the service stars, which are a way display your years of service to Scouting. My first year, I was a Tiger Cub, after which I spent three years as a Cub Scout. The regulations say that I have the option of wearing a 1 year service star with an orange background and a 3 year service star with a yellow background. This is clear, but I haven’t figured out which I plan to do on my adult uniform. It gets a little more confusing from then on, as I was a Boy Scout for seven years, and Explorer for five years, and an assistant Scoutmaster for three years. But those terms overlap. The last two years I was a Boy Scout, I was also an Explorer, and my last three years as an Explorer, coincided with my tenure as an assistant Scoutmaster. I was wondering if it was wrong to wear a 7 year service star with a green background, a 5 year service star with a red background, and a 3 year service star with a blue background.
I consulted the official Boy Scouts of America Insignia Guide, which didn’t really cover the subject of overlapping service. So I consulted the Internet. The site http://www.mninter.net/~blkeagle/insignia.htm was quite informative on the subject, but still didn’t cover my specific question so I e-mailed the author, a Scouter with 47 years in the program. His answer was that I should wear the 7 year service star with a green background for my time in Boy Scouts, a 5 year Service Star for my time in Explorers, and a 3 year Service Star for my time as an assistant Scoutmaster, along with my choice of Cub Scout tenure service stars. In fact, he even said that it would be OK to wear a 10 year and 9 year service star with a blue background, even though the total number of years I have in the program don’t yet add up to nineteen.
The advice seems good, but when the time comes, I’ll also check with the local leadership to see if they have any specific standards.
After some thought, wearing these might seem like showing off, and while it is nice to have recognition for things, my hope is that the boys I will lead look at them and ask me questions like, “What does the green backing mean” and I could answer, “that was for Boy Scouts”, or “What does the red backing mean” and I could answer, “that was for Explorers and while Explorers isn’t a Boy Scout program anymore, they have added Venturing to replace it.” The hope is to get younger boys thinking about what they can do in the future.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Even with my regrets, I do not consider my Scouting experience a failure, in fact, nothing could be further from my mind. While I didn’t spend much time working on requirements, I spent a lot of time on service projects and the scouting organization itself. While I didn’t obtain the rank of Eagle Scout, I worked on many Eagle Scout service projects for others. I was also one of the most active members in my Order of the Arrow chapter, which during a typical month required much more time than troop and patrol commitments. Most of that time was spent doing things for the district, council, and troops beyond my own. I think I earned the backpacking merit badge, but even if I didn’t, that was my favorite troop activity, and I spent a lot of time as an older boy helping the younger boys learn the ropes of camping and backpacking. This was my scouting experience, and while I have regrets, I’m not sure I would have done it differently. Maybe it will prove to be valuable experience in mentoring boys who may have interests other than advancement and recognition.
They could improve the requirements by adding the ability to substitute the academic and sports pins as a substitute for boys who have already earned the corresponding belt loop. While pins require a higher level of knowledge and participation to earn, that option would enable the boy to earn belt loops while a Tiger, Wolf, or Bear, without concern that he’ll just have to redo it when he graduates to Webelos.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
I ordered Alex's Cub Scout uniform tonight. There is a lot more to it than a shirt and pants.
-Cub Scout Long-Sleeve Shirt Polyester/Cotton, Blue, Long-Sleeve, Small, Youth
-Cub Scout Uniform Pants Polyester/Cotton, Blue, 06, Youth
-Tiger Cub Cap Small/Medium
-Tiger Cub Crew Socks X-Small (5-7)
-Tiger Cub Web Belt with Buckle
-Tiger Cub Neckerchief
-Tiger Cub Neckerchief Slide
-World Scout Crest Emblem
-National Capital Area Council Shoulder Patch
-Unit Numeral 2
-Unit Numeral 8
-Unit Numeral 5
-Cub Scout Den Numeral Den 5
Grand total, $97.31 including tax and shipping. I should have just made a list of what I needed and stopped by the Scout Store in Bethesda. I will pass by the area a few times this week. I would have saved $10 shipping. Oh well, if I forgot something, thats what I'll do.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
That being said, federal candidates and elected officials, especially the president and vice president should think differently. I think their focus on this matter should be on how to lower spending overall and lower taxes for everyone. Instead of sending money to Washington, it is in our pockets, and we wouldn’t need earmarks and other federal spending to get it back. Now this might make state and local taxes go up, so that these important projects can be funded, but I would much rather see this money under local control than in Washington (even though I live just 40 miles from Washington!).
I just think that in general, keeping your money local will lead to better government services over all while sending it to the federal government funds the bureaucracy above all else.
Monday, September 08, 2008
I have five virtual systems running in Microsoft Virtual PC 2007. Two are running Windows Server 2003 with one being an Active Directory domain controller and the other running Exchange Server 2003. The other three are Windows Server 2008 with two configured with Exchange Server 2007 mailbox roles and the other soon to be running Exchange Server 2007 hub transport and client access roles, although I doubt I’ll get through setup before the battery dies. It isn’t even finished setting up Windows Server 2008. Even if I have to shut it down before it has been installed, it isn’t a big deal. I was able to use an otherwise wasted hour on the plane.
Thinking about it a little more, I should probably save a little battery life, just in case I need something from the computer between my arrival and check in to the hotel.
I started to think about the airports and airlines pushing the whole “get to the airport two hours early” line. Of course the would like you to get to the airport 2 hours early, that way you are stuck inside security with very few food or entertainment options. I’m surprised that they don’t charge you to use the bathroom. For that matter, I’m surprised that the airlines don’t charge you to use the bathroom. Maybe next time I’ll push my luck with security. I know I can’t bring any liquids with me, so, a can of Mountain Dew would be out, but maybe I could swing a decent meal. If I was really lucky, it would be something that Amy made for me and I could find a microwave!
Amy and I have never flown with our children, but traveling by car, we do our best to make sure that they have plenty of things to do and snacks to eat. We would probably so the same thing if we were to fly somewhere as a family, and this would add to the carry on luggage. Since checking bags is a pain, I try not to check any bags, but this has been more difficult after September 11, 2001, but even then, I think we could manage for all of us to take a short trip with two bags each. I guess if we do, I’ll want to be sure to check with the airline about their carry on policy.
I signed up to follow Barak Obama and John McCain, as well as just about anyone who mentioned ham radio or had a call sign. One of the skywarn groups is on there, but not the one that is local to me. It was interesting though, I got to see the updates from the southeast Virginia coast.
What I’d really like to get from Twitter are updates about things I’m interested in in relative real time. For example, I heard that some firefighters and EMTs use Twitter to send updates on serious incidents. It sort of reminded me of a service that I was on a while back that send e-mail summaries of fire calls in progress.
Right now I don’t have it set to send updates to my mobile phone. Mostly because I pay per text message, but also because I’m not following anything that I feel like I need to know in real time. Now, if Amy did Twitter, I’d have her updates sent to my phone.