Sunday, January 31, 2010

Homework assignment

Many people in my life know what a procrastinator I am. When my folks came to visit in October, my parents gave me a book to read. They Marched into Sunlight, by David Maraniss. It is about the build up to and the two separate events on October 17 and 18, 1967. One is a protest on the campus on of University of Wisconsin and the other is a battle in the jungles of Vietnam. Maraniss is attempting to compare and contrast the peace movement and the war in Vietnam. Or at least that is my guess. I have just started to read the book today.

My dad and mother are headed to Vietnam in mid February. The goal was to have the book read prior to their trip. My father did two tours in Vietnam, one being in 1967. They spent a week last spring doing an in depth study of Vietnam at my Dad’s alma mater Washington and Lee University. My father even had a presentation of his experience as a soldier. Maraniss’ book was used this past spring. This alumni college is followed up by a trip to the country that discussed.

I anticipated being a rather phenomenal and emotional experience for my father being back in Vietnam. My folks gave me the book so that I could potentially have a better understanding of my Dad’s experience at that time and my mother’s experience back in the states with small children.

They have checked a few times to see if I have started the book but have stopped. I will get it read...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pack of Wild Boys

Scouting can be quite frustrating at times.   The whole concept of boy led troop is very complicated.  It is a fine line between “youth led” and a Pack of Wild Boys.   As an adult leader you want to make sure the boys have an opportunity for success.  However, failing is often a wonderful lesson as well.  It is just important that when the boys do fail, it does not harm anyone.

Last night’s Troop meeting was one of those evenings that the pack of boys took hold.   Often times I reference the “Lord of the Flies” when boy led quickly derails.   Considering the troop was focused on the concept of fire building, it really seemed appropriate for Monday nights meeting.  I expected at any moment Piggy’s glasses were going to be used to burn down the building.

The objective last night was simple.  Have each first year patrol create a tepee fire lay.  This would require older boys to help them collect some wood from the park next door, build a fire lay.  The goal was to show that your start with tinder, move to kindling, and finally you put on burning fuel.

Please take note, there were not to be any fires lit.  I had learned at the last campout that the boys were not patient enough to build a fire lay before attempting to start a fire.  My suggested lesson was to show that if they just took about 15 minutes, they would be ready to have a fire.

What happened was total chaos.  Boys running around with sticks, yelling, stomping on each other’s fire lays, and what was more amazing, an actual fire.  A fire with no water or sand to put it out.

Needless to say I was not pleased.   For some reason I did not lose it, I just calmly told the Senior Patrol Leader to fall in the troop after they clean up their mess and put the fire out.  The older boys, who had allowed the situation to get out of hand, quickly realized the line had been crossed.  They organized the boys and got the situation back under control.

Little Troop 5 got a classic scoutmaster lecture on the two BSAs.  Baby Sitters of America or the Boy Scouts of America.    It was up to them to decide which troop they want to be in.  Time will tell and I hope they pick the right one.   I am not interested in being a baby sitter.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Texas Family

My family is scattered all over the country and I don’t get to see them that often. My cousin Mark lives with his family just outside of Marble Falls, Texas. He was in Arlington on Sunday to Great Train Expo at the Convention center. Carol and I met him Sunday evening, his wife Jul, and their two children Ethan and Mindi for dinner. Ethan is model train aficionado in their family.

It is always enjoyable to pick Mark’s brain. He played football for both Lou Holtz and Jimmy Johnson. In addition he is currently running his own Tennis business, working with the Andy Roddick Foundation after 20 years of coaching and teaching. Juli is working for the Federal Government at the first Texas White house at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park.

Fun dinner by all. I have to do that more often

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday's Ride

The off season is tough. It is cold and few people get out there and ride. Sunday Big Dave and I sacrificed good football watching to get a ride in. It was chilly and windy. I had zero motivation to go out and ride. Dave was not that far behind me. So instead of one of our normal routes, we just tootled around Arlington for an hour and forty-five minutes , hiding in neighbor hoods and park trails from the north wind. In the end, the only real reason I rode on Sunday was because it is what I do.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Government Employee Cycling Day

Or better known as Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Even with all the camping, I was able to get in two good rides in over the long weekend. Both of them were with Big Dave and Justin. One was on Sunday after the dreadful Cowboy game.  We are all blessed to be employed, but we are also all governmental employees that gave us Monday off to ride.

On Monday, we did the normal downtown Fort Worth route, with a swing by Starbucks and Carol’s work. (She had to work) It is fun to cruise around downtown on the bike when everyone else has to work. On the way home we stopped by and visited another cycling buddy, Dennis Farris.

Dennis fascinates me, because he is an actual artist that makes his living being an artist. It gave us a quick opportunity to learn about his big adventure as one of the Artist in Residence at Zion National Park. How people end up with these opportunities is beyond me, but more power to Dennis in finding them.

It was a rather uneventful ride, but those are needed as well.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January Campout

Nine boys and four adults all went camping at Worth Ranch this past weekend in the cold and wet drizzle. It actually turned out to be a really good campout.

The focus of the campout was to bring the Troop Trailers back into shape. This seems to be a never ending task to organize and clean all the troop gear. The troop has two trailers, a troop gear trailer and a personal gear trailer. The Troop Gear trailer is a large tandem axel trailer that carries all the troops camping equipment. Tents, Stoves, Pop ups, chuck boxes, tarps, cooking gear, etc. The personal gear trailer is just a small single axel trailer that holds the backpacking equipment and all personal gear carried to the campout.

The thought is, get to the campsite, open the Troop equipment trailer, get the campsite set up and then open the personnel gear trailer. This method serves two purposes. If it is raining, individual gear will remain safe and dry in the personal gear trailer as the camp is set up. More importantly, it keeps the boys focused on setting up the campsite before they start worrying about themselves.

Needless to say, from campout to campout, gear comes in and out of the Troop Gear trailer and is returned in various conditions. In a perfect world, it always goes back into the troop gear trailer dry and clean. We do not live in a perfect world.

The nine boys successfully emptied the trailer, cleaned every dish, utensils and organized every tent. It was a long day, but they did a wonderful job in the cold. They did find the time to collect firewood, set up an ax yard, and provide themselves with enough firewood for a wonderful campfire.

The trailers are now in great shape, we are ready to actually do rank advancement type of activities at our February campout.

The only regret for the whole campout is that we got up at 6am on Sunday morning so that the adults could be back in time for the Cowboy game. In retrospect, the time spent in freezing while packing up to make in back to Dalworthington Gardens to have time to watch the Cowboys lose would have been better spent in a warm sleeping bag.

Monday, January 11, 2010


It has been miserably cold lately in North Texas. I know that those people north of the Red River feel that those of us that live in Texas have no understanding what real cold is, but for us, it is freaking cold. Therefore I have been rather reluctant to go out on the bike. I have an annual goal of 5,000 miles. January does not really make that much of a difference, but every mile you get on the bike adds up.

So I finally got out on Sunday for my first ride in 2010. I got in a nice two hour ride with Big Dave for 33 miles. I have all the fancy cycling gear, wore enough layers and even had my toe warmers on. I was miserable cold as we headed out south into a 15 mph head wind at 3pm. The temperature on my cycling computer started the ride at 50 degrees and ended reading 45 as the sun was setting. That is a will chill of 36 degree to 29 degrees. I have ridden in colder, but it sure did not feel like it Sunday.

Only 4,967 miles to go….

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year!

I had a very busy New Year’s weekend. I have never tried any of the energy drinks or 5 hour energy. That is still the case, but I was really tempted.

On January 2, I headed down to San Antonia for the Alamo Bowl. The Red Raiders were playing the Michigan State Spartans at 8 pm. I ran some errands with Carol in the morning and loaded up the Aveo with two Tech College boys and headed to San Antonio at about 11:30.

I Hotwire-ed a hotel, aLoft, in north San Antonio. It is rather nevus chic. One of the boys had hunted in the morning and jumped into the car. It was rather amusing to see a full “camo outed” deer hunter walk into the ultra modern hotel lobby. We definitely were not in West Texas. We all changed and headed to the Riverwalk.

Downtown San Antonio was a sea of Red and Black. Red Raider nation was out in full force. Since Texas Tech had recently fired the beloved head coach, it was quite amusing to see all the T-Shirts, stickers, and signs proclaiming loyalty to Coach Mike Leach, the firing of the athletic director, and the venomous reaction to the player that started the whole situation.

There has been quite a bit written about the firing of Coach Leach, so I don not really need to delve into it, but I think the whole thing is like the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. It really did not start World War I, but it was the trigger event that made it happen. Coach Leach and Texas Tech were going to part ways for all sorts of reasons. This just became the one reason.

Tech won a hard fought game that went really late into the evening. Coach Ruffin McNeill deserves a lot of credit for holding a team together through a potential melt down. Due to the encouragement of the Tech boys, we stayed for the trophy ceremony. It was neat to hear Coach Ruff accept the trophy. I don’t really know which way it’s going to go for the new head coach, but Ruff is one heck of a professional.

By the time we got back to the hotel room it was 1:30 in the morning. Not much time to enjoy the room, because we got up and got on the road at 6:30. I had to get back for Aedan’s one year birthday party.

The Tech boys slept and consumed lots of coffee. When I was done, I drank another cup. Carol will attest that I tend to fall asleep on the couch a lot. I cannot remember the last time I was up that late that did not involve standing around a campfire. We successfully made it back to Dalworthington Gardens at 11am on Sunday. We were gone for less than twenty-four hours. I was able to help as much as I usually help getting ready for the party at the other grandparents house.

Aedan had a great party as one would expect, although the wrapping paper and the tissue were just as exciting as his new toys. I really enjoyed watch Tamara, David, and Carol enjoy the moment. We are all blessed to have such a wonderful little dude in our life. It was neat to watch a tuckered out Aedan fall asleep in David’s Dad’s lap. I envied the nap.

Life is full. I crashed at 9.