Aug 03 2015

A Debt of Gratitude

Category: Boy Scouts,characteramuzikman @ 12:30 pm

My scoutmaster, Don Powell, passed away today. I re-post this in his honor. Thank you, Don. Thank you for helping so many boys become men.


I spent much of my youth in the Boy Scouts.  Simply put, it was a great experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  In fact I think a lot of what has shaped my character can be traced directly back to my Scouting experience.  To this day I take great pride in the fact that I earned the rank of Eagle Scout –  it still appears on my resume, some 35 years later.

I was fortunate enough to be part of a very active Scout troop.  We hiked, we camped, we climbed mountains and floated down rivers, we performed community service and we went to Scout camp. We were out camping at least one weekend every month of the year and a couple weeks during the summer. I was even fortunate enough to travel to other countries as a Scout.  It was a tremendous experience.

But what made the greatest impact on my life was not the camping, or the hiking or the mountain climbing, or any of the other activities.  No, what helped me to mature and to learn about life was being around the men who volunteered to be Scout leaders and to give so selflessly of their time.  Men who often had just 2 weeks paid vacation each year, and regularly spent both of them on a Scout trip.  Men who had wives who must have been angels.

I was blessed to encounter men all along the way who taught me what growing up was all about.  Men who took the time to spend time with boys and to point the way to manhood.  Most I knew just by their first names, some had Scouting nicknames like Jolly, Bubbles, Rock-Ape and Kahuna – names that sound so silly now but seemed to fit the men so well at the time.  In some cases it was years before I actually knew their real names.

It was always a shock to me when I found out what jobs these men had in the “real” world.  They were electricians, phone company linesmen, defense contractor technicians, construction workers, teachers – blue collar workers almost to a man.  Their jobs seemed so small and insignificant, compared to the lives they lead as Scouters and as heroes to me and many other boys like me.   I almost never saw them wear anything but scout uniforms and almost all the interaction I had with them were on a dusty mountain trail or out in the woods around a campfire.  Years later when I would chance to meet one wearing civilian clothes I often thought how awkward and out-of-place they seemed in long pants and a necktie.

These men were not perfect. But that didn’t matter.  They were men who cared about helping boys become men.  In fact, the man who was my Scoutmaster for many years was anything but a dynamic or particularly inspiring person.  He was soft-spoken, not very graceful, kind of shy and kept a full beard to conceal big ears that stuck out quite a ways from his head.  (One time he did shave off his beard and scared us all very badly). But he loved Scouting and it was infectious.  He loved the outdoors and he took us there so we could learn to love it too.  He loved and respected boys and he earned the love and respect of the boys he was with.  He provided opportunity for us to experience, to learn, and to grow.  He wasn’t exceptionally articulate, or a motivational speaker, most of the time he did his job simply by showing up and teaching us how to do things like build campfires, paddle a kayak, and set up tents.  But oh… those were such valuable times.

My old Scoutmaster lives a quiet life these days.  He is retired, he survived a bout with cancer and has a little trouble getting around now.  He will never win a medal, he’ll never be written up in a newspaper or a magazine. No one will erect a statue of him in a city park after he is gone.  But he has an enviable legacy.  For scattered all around this country (and perhaps the world) are a group of now grown up boys who themselves have families, careers, and lives in their communities.  Men like me.  Men who remember what they were taught about honesty, trustworthiness, loyalty, honor, duty, perseverance and other important building blocks of character.  Men who form a living tribute to those who took the time to help them when they were boys.  Men who are now engaged in passing along those same values to the next generation, perhaps even to a group of young men in a Boy Scout troop, sitting around a campfire somewhere.

The farther I move through life the more I appreciate what these men did for me and what a tremendous debt of gratitude I have for them. I wish I could track them all down and thank each of them individually, but I wouldn’t know where to look and I’m also pretty sure at least some have passed by now.  Others just moved away or faded away, leaving Scouting when their boys grew older, returning to their very normal lives.  So, In lieu of a personal word of thanks to each, let me just say it here once for all.  Thank you.  Thank you all very much.  I found my way to manhood.  It was right where you told me it would be. My hope and prayer is that if you saw my life today you would think the time you invested in me was time well spent.

Feb 10 2015

Another American hostage dead

Category: Islam,jihad,Obama,terrorismamuzikman @ 10:08 am

Kayla Meller, the American woman held hostage since 2013, has died, apparently, at the hands of her Islamic terrorist captors. I don’t even want to imagine what horrors she must have endured while in captivity or the method used to end her life. It is too horrific to imagine, especially while the images of the Jordanian pilot being burned alive are so fresh in my mind.
We have seen the Jordanian response to the death of their citizen. Jordan immediately executed two Islamic terrorist prisoners and has launched repeated airstrikes against ISIS.
I wonder what the USA response will be to this death of an American. The president has said, “No matter how long it takes, the United States will find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible for Kayla’s captivity and death. I can’t help but wonder if he said it going to or coming from the golf course.

Feb 01 2015

Do You Remember?

Category: Boy Scouts,friendshipamuzikman @ 10:34 am

I went to visit an old friend today. As I made the long drive to his house I started counting up the years and realized I have known him for almost 50 years. To my sadness and regret I have allowed too much time to pass between visits. I think it has been somewhere around 10 years. Time has taken its toll. His thick beard is entirely gray now. He has trouble getting up from his chair. He must use a walker to get around. Sometimes he does not make it to the bathroom in time.

He has Alzheimer’s disease…

He did not recognize me when I came in. He had to ask me for my name again. He really did not know who I was. He was always a man of few words but as I sat with him there were several long silences, during which he simply looked at me. It soon became apparent he was working internally, piecing together enough memory fragments to recall that he did know me and to collect some notion of how.

Friendship can be born from many things, such as shared work space, recreation, mutual friends, mutual interests. But friendships are nourished and grow through shared experience. Our best friends are the ones with whom we share the most experiences and we relish the camaraderie that comes from remembering times spent together, both good and bad.

Like so many things in life, memory is not fully appreciated until it is gone. This man was instrumental in helping me navigate the journey from boyhood to manhood. I’d like nothing more than to sit with him and reminisce. I’d like to honor him by telling him how much those memories mean to me and how profoundly those experiences were in helping to shape me. I’d like to recall some great times and in doing so let him know that I still think of them as great times.  But the lid to that treasure chest is almost completely closed forever thanks to this disease called Alzheimers.

Imagine sitting down with one of your best friends and having a conversation in which you cannot reference anything from the past.  I found out just how difficult that is. We build upon memories while creating new ones, and when that remembered context is gone there is very little on which to build.

By the end of the day my friend had put enough pieces together to recall it had been a long time since our last visit.  I will always regret that because it wasn’t just the years in between that we missed, it turns out we lost all the preceding years as well. That was my fault….not taking the time to keep in touch as I should.  I will try to do better with the time we have left before the disease takes him completely away.

Do you have a friend with whom you have not spoken in a while?  Call them up and reconnect.  Ask them, “Hey do you remember the time we…?” And be thankful when the answer is “yes”.

Jan 06 2015

An engineer explains why the IPCC climate models failed to predict the reality of the last 20 years

Category: environment,global warming,government,Group-thinkharmonicminer @ 9:39 pm

This is all pretty theoretical, and may be hard for some to follow. But the point is simple: even in purely theoretical terms, IPCC climate models are fatally flawed because they are too simple, and allow themselves to be driven by only a single variable, CO2, and assumptions of CO2 climate sensitivity expressed as a constant (which those models make wild guesses at).

Thankfully, we don’t have to trust only the theoretical reasons that the IPCC climate models are flawed. We have actual data. Global warming essentially stopped around 16-19 years ago. Even the traditional “97 percenters” have had to admit that. The models of the mid 1990s that the so called “97 percent” relied on have been falsified. Simple as that. So the modelers keep coming up with ad hoc and post hoc explanations for why the models didn’t work, none of which can actually be tested, and none of which fit all the available facts. And I thought spinning was limited to political consultants. Oh, I forgot… the whole global warming enterprise IS essentially a political one, not a scientific one. But I digress.

One way to read the attached article is as one explanation for why the known bad models didn’t work. In a way, all of the attempts by the 97 percenters to come up with explanations for why their models failed are an acknowledgement of the second equation in the article linked above, ∆T = k.log( ∆CO2) + f(∆x), where the last term, f(∆x), has nothing at all to do with CO2. Apparently, there is at least one such term in any equation that actually describes the reality we now know. Read the article. It should make at least some sense to you. The triangle is read as “change in.”

The point: CO2 is not the only, or probably even a major, variable in climate change, which is reality, and has always happened over sufficient time.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t seem to have caught up with the facts of the situation (namely, that global warming has stopped, the IPCC is dead wrong, but so much entrenched power and privilege is driving the global warming scam that it won’t die easily), and still believe the scare-mongering. It’s kind of sad, really.

Oct 06 2014

Shack time

Category: humorsardonicwhiner @ 10:19 am

We all know about various physical and mathematical constants. The natural log e, pi, Planck time, etc. Here’s a link to a bunch more.  That’s a lot of constants for a post-modern world.

Having said that, I would like to propose a new constant, which in fine scientific tradition I will name “Shack time.” Because we’re all post-modernists now, Shack time has no particular value, although it is not too long and not too short. Shack time is:

1) The time between getting in the elevator and realizing you’ve pressed the button for the floor you’re already on.

2) The time between trying to put your office key in the door and realizing you’re using your house key…. or vice versa.

3) The time you spend looking on the dash for the power button of your other car that isn’t a Prius. This is closely related to the time you spend trying to put your other car’s key into the steering column of the Prius.

4) The time between the beginning of a Faculty Senate meeting and your brain’s beginning production of deep theta waves.

5) The time between a conductor’s downbeat and the first note from the viola section (sorry…. couldn’t resist)

6) The time it takes to try both possible ways of inserting a USB cable before realizing you were right the first time.

7) The time you spend looking over your three computer screens trying to find the mouse. (Although lately I’ve been using something called Mouse Locater that really helps. This has resulted in a new Shack time interval, the time you spend admiring the neat graphic surrounding your mouse position.)

8)  The time between placing a Coke Zero near the cold air vent in the freezer (because you didn’t plan ahead) and the eventual explosion of the Coke Zero can because you forgot about it.

9)  The time it takes to discover that you’ve been trying open the electronic lock to your classroom door with your ATM card.

10) The time you’ve wasted reading this.  (Note that there is no implication that reading *all* of this was necessarily a waste…. but surely at least one of the items was. You pick.)


Jul 25 2014

MLK was a racist???

Category: race,racismamuzikman @ 2:25 pm

Apparently Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech reflected an “insufficient..half-measure…that in the end operates as a form of racism.”

Read here

Who knew………..

Jul 15 2014

Applying the same low standard

Category: abortion,illegal alienamuzikman @ 11:56 pm

One of the major criticisms leveled at those of us who are pro-life goes something like this:
“The pro-life crowd only cares about babies until they are born.” and, “Anti-abortion people never put as much money and effort into early childhood health care, parent education, nutrition, etc as they do into trying to stop abortions”
Without even touching on the merits of such accusations, let me apply them in a different direction. Can it also be said: “The pro-undocumented immigration folks will only care about these people until they get amnesty.” or “If you are in favor of so many illegals crossing our border why don’t you step up and agree to house, clothe and feed some in your own home?”

Absurd accusations are just that, and do nothing to promote a useful conversation or find solutions. Yet we seem increasingly willing to use “Facebook chic” memes as poor substitutes for rational discourse.


Apr 26 2014

Benghazi questions the media doesn’t seem to ask

Category: corruption,government,Group-think,mediaharmonicminer @ 7:18 pm

Mar 16 2014

Hot water bottles and youth

Category: humorharmonicminer @ 1:14 am

So, I went to CVS pharmacy to get a hot water bottle. (Don’t ask.) Two young clerks up front. Clerk #1: “Well, sir, we don’t have hot water bottles, but you can get chilled water bottles on aisle 20.” Dumbfounded look from me… I turn to Clerk #2 with the same question, who says, “She’s right, sir, we only have chilled water bottles on aisle 20.” So I give up, and go find the hot water bottles back in the section with heating pads and such.

I return to the front, and this time there’s a nice middle aged lady behind the counter, a manager, I think, with the two young clerks. So I smile big and drop the the hot water bottle on the counter in front of Clerk #2, and say, “THIS is a hot water bottle.” He looks at me, suspiciously, like maybe I snuck it in just to make him look bad.

But manager lady immediately gets it, we make eye contact, and both break out laughing. She says, “He just wasn’t born yet.”

We laugh harder.

In the meantime, Clerk #1 has joined the party, and is reading the box, mystified, as if such a possibility had never occurred to her, and she’s mumbling, “Soothes pain. Relieves muscle aches. Latex free. One water bottle and stopper.”

We laugh even harder.

Jan 18 2014

Not a 2-Way Street

Category: left,rightamuzikman @ 4:15 pm


Of course there is no lack of hypocrisy to be found among us all.  Still one can’t help but imagine the vitriol and accusations of hatred and intolerant bigotry that would be hurled had it been an outspoken liberal canned from a conservative production.  If tolerance was evenly demanded and practiced honest conversation might follow.

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