May 5th, 2015


Bears in the woods

Anna and the grandcubs are visiting this week. They've gone down to Walmart to buy some water balloon supplies, because she's just that awesome a mom. Yesterday, I took them to Leonard Springs Nature Park to hike the one mile loop.

There are some neat caves high up where one starts. Then the ground falls steeply down toward an old lakebed. A stream tumbles down in a series of waterfalls. The old lake's dam has been breached, draining most of the lake and making a wetland for wildlife to occupy. We heard geese flying over. Turning back uphill, we walked through dense woods back to the road.

Daniel is fast and strong and wanted to run ahead. James is a good walker, but steep trails are something new for him. He also slipped on some wet rocks and got himself all wet and dirty, as well as bumping the back of his head. But he wasn't too fazed. After the hike, we ate an early dinner at Steak 'n' Shake.

Leading the way

Leading the way

Tumbling Stream

Tumbling Stream

Bringing up the rear

Bringing up the rear

Mama Bear with Cubs

Mama Bear with Cubs

N.B. My lifetime hiking miles are now 1,587.

This is officially ridiculous

Those of you who do Scouting know that the paperwork only ever gets more cumbersome. Our happy Crew did a little conservation project on Sunday. Here's what follows from that.

1. Because Venturing advancement now is geared, in part, to service hours, I keep an Excel file on our Crew's service projects and what hours everybody worked.

2. Because BSA wants to be able to brag about how-all it serves the nation, it wants all BSA units to report every service project and all the hours worked therein. The Council gets griped at if they don't gripe at us, so as a good loyalist, I report every steenking service project on the website.

3. But wait -- the Order of the Arrow lodge has to gather the same info on what-all their Arrowmen do in order to qualify for brownie points on their Journey to Excellence evaluation, so I've been asked to break out the hours worked by all the Arrowmen in the Crew and submit that to yet another person tasked with gathering those hours.

4. And because BSA has invented these jazzy new National Outdoor Badges (which don't count for rank, mind you -- they're just for bragging rights) -- and which, of course, my Venturers want -- I have to note the conservation hours worked for the youth under the Conservation category. (There are also categories of Camping, Hiking, Aquatics, Riding, and "Adventure," each of which requires us to keep track of nights, miles, hours, or outings in one way or another.)

5. On top of all this, this particular project was for one Venturer's Hornaday medal, which is a whole 'nother level of byoorockacy.

All this for a project in which, other than setup, some eight people spent less than two hours. At what point is this just too freaking much to keep track of? BSA is sinking under the weight of awards of questionable value, thinking that it will attract and hold the attention of kids. My feeling is, the quality of the experiences we offer should easily overmatch the badges we give for them, and if they don't then we have bigger problems than we'd like to admit to ourselves.

Worth remembering

Burrowing through teh interwebz looking for something (the context of a quote), I discovered a whole lot of strange stuff on the expression, "Of course you know, this means war." Several sites attributed it to Bugs Bunny via Groucho Marx, and I'm sure they're right. But then, trying to figure out where Groucho got the expression, they all dissolve into fantasy and back-formations -- invented history.

Is it not obvious that if Groucho had any source for the line, it was Charles Francis Adams? Adams was U.S. minister to Great Britain during the Civil War, and when the British government failed to prevent the launching of the privately-built commerce raider C.S.S. Alabama, Adams wrote to Prime Minister John Russel, "It would be superfluous in me to point out to your Lordship that this is war." Adams wasn't referring to the war between the Union and the Confederacy; his line was a politely phrased accusation that Great Britain had committed an act of war against the United States. After this, the British government finally cracked down on the shipyards building for the Confederacy.

We are forgetting so much of our history.