Wednesday, March 16, 2022

REPOST: The Quest For The Ring and The Return Of The Ring

On this 20th anniversary of marriage to my wonderful wife, it seems only appropriate to reshare one of the more extraordinary events in our lives - the story of the how I temporarily lost my original wedding ring over the Labor Day weekend in 2009 and the incredible story about how it was found.  

As always, my sincere apologies to JRR Tolkien.

It was a time of unrest and uncertainty. Forces of evil had spread fear and destruction upon the country, affecting every aspect of life. The couple had supported each other through these times, and had decided that enough was enough. There was no more waiting for tomorrow, no more waiting for a decision or permission that would never come, no more reasons to drag it out any longer.

It was not impulsive.

It was not reckless.

It was not irresponsible.

It was time.

The couple mutually agreed to be united, on the plateau south of the city under the rising harvest moon.

The couple went to their friend in the diamond business shortly after, and there found the Ring. The simplest of rings, plain in nearly every way. On the inside was an inscription, one that matched the date of their union and marked the Owner of the Ring.

On a blustery spring afternoon, nestled in a secluded garden of the bustling sounds and sights of a land known as the country’s playground, friends and family of the couple gathered to witness the completion of the union and the placing of the Ring. All was well.

Days passed into weeks. Weeks passed into years. The couple survived many tests, many changes, many trials. There were moments of profound sadness, and moments of great jubilation. Whispers from the darker places marveled at the success of their union, bitter from the apparent failure of their negative prognostications. They traveled to many lands, had many victories, and were known throughout the lands for their quirkiness and abundance of happiness. All was well.

Not everyone was happy, though. The doctor argued that a profound love of beef was probably not conductive to a profound love of life, and that, although it would be a difficult choice, a choice must be made. The Man made the difficult choice, choosing to extend his life to live out more of his days with his Woman, and lessen his intake of the greatest of foods. This brought significant changes to the Man, both in habits and in clothing, as the extra weight he had carried because of his love of beef started to slip away. But quietly, almost unnoticed, another change was happening.

On one of their many adventures, the couple traveled to the prairie lands north. They were attending the annual fellowship of companions in the waning days of summer that they had always attended. One of the traditional activities of this fellowship was floating down the lazy river. This year, the river was stronger and higher than in previous years, due mainly to the abnormal monsoons that kept the prairie lands green and lush. The float down the river was relaxing and enjoyable. The companions traded stories of their adventures, enjoying each other’s company, while basking in the warmth of the mid day sun.

As the river sojourn reached its end, the Woman jumped off of her float, only to be swept by an underestimated current. The Man, realizing his Woman was in distress, reached out to assist her. In grasping for his hand, the other change was realized. The Man had lost enough weight that the Ring was loose on his finger. In the process of helping his Woman, the Ring was pulled from his finger and lost to the river.

Profound sadness overtook the fellowship once it was realized that the Ring had been lost. But there was a glimmer of hope. The river’s flow was controlled up stream, and the flow of the river would be reduced to a trickle in the coming weeks. Since the Man knew almost exactly where the Ring was lost, there is a chance that he would be able to find the Ring on the riverbed when the waters receded.

A desperate hope, but hope nonetheless.

--- And the Conslusion - or The Return Of The Ring ---

A desperate hope, but a hope nonetheless.

The couple would have to travel a great distance in search of the Ring, but they also wanted to begin the Quest before the autumn snows covered the Ring’s resting place. Also, the couple had to wait until the flow of the river had been stopped. Companions of the couple kept a vigil on the river’s flow, watching for the day when it would Ring’s resting place would be exposed.

Finally, the day had arrived. At daybreak on a crystal clear morning in early autumn, the couple set out on the Quest for the Ring, traveling back to the northern plains to the supposed resting place of the Ring. They were well prepared and well clad, as had been the Man’s motto since his most early years. The Man had sent heralds to distant companions and family in search of the tools required to assist the couple in finding the Ring. So the journey began.

The journey north was uneventful – a wayside to break their fast, fuel for their mighty silver steed. They encountered dromedaries and llamas and bison. There were antelope too numerous to count, roaming the plains, enjoying their morning meal under the cloudless sky.

As they approached the village next to the river, the Man spoke to his Woman.

"Dearest," he said, "do you feel that the luck will be with our Quest today?"

"My Love, I do", replied the Woman. “Though I am not usually the most lucky of persons, I feel that we will be successful this day.”

They stopped for several minutes in the village to purchase a warm beverage, and saw that the flow of the river was indeed reduced, hopefully enough to allow for a search for the Ring. The couple arrived at the edge of the river, and dismounted the silver steed. They started walking to the bank of the river, approaching the dock near where the Ring was lost. They would first look at the area, before bringing out the equipment to aide them in the search.

The riverbed was grey and mottled. The rocky moss had withered and dried since it was deprived of water. To find the Ring, the simplest of Rings, colored very similar to the rockbed of the river, was going to be a challenge. The Man and Woman looked for a moment, walking down the riverbed, identifying exactly where the Ring was believed to be lost.

The Man was about to head back to retrieve the searching equipment, when suddenly, the Woman shouts “Husband! Is this what you seek?!”

PROFOUND JOY!! The Ring had been recovered. It had fallen to rest at nearly the exact point that the Man had remembered. The Woman handed the Ring to her Man, and there was great happiness! No hurt had come to it, except a little crusted silt from the riverbed. The Ring had been found!

The Power of the Ring, the union that it symbolized, remained. It proved to be a greater Power than the river. It had survived a great trial, but came out victorious! The Ring had been found! The Ring had returned! It was the Return of the Ring!

The couple, overcome with happiness, returned to their lands, heralding their divine providence, and informing their family and companions of their successful completion of the Quest for the Ring. The daughter of the couple commented that it must be taken as a sign – a sign that you should remain united for all time.

So ends the Quest for the Ring and the tale of the Return of the Ring.

Happy 20th Anniversary to my wonderful wife. I hope to have many more years of laughter and adventures with you!

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Burger Review - Riverside Lunch...

I wanted to share this review about Riverside Lunch from my other blog: Where's The Best Burger.

 Address: 1429 Hazel St, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Phone: (434) 971-3546

ALERT: Never, in a lifetime of eating and reviewing burgers, have I ever made the following claim: 

This could possibly be the BEST BURGER I have ever had.

Riverside lunch is that good. Unimposing, but conveniently located just minutes off the highway, I stumbled on Riverside Lunch from a recommendation. We were staying the night in Charlottesville to visit the historic Thomas Jefferson’s residence Monticello in the morning, and were looking for a quick bite for dinner.   Riverside Lunch did not disappoint.

The burgers are extremely simple: fresh ground beef, packed into a ball and smashed on to the griddle: not just any griddle, and the cook mentioned. 

They have been seasoning this grill with quality meat for over 20 years, and that is truly one of the most important parts. In fact, the cook indicated that he has taken all of the ingredients home on several occasions to make burgers for himself and cannot replicate the taste. 

The burgers come dressed as you might expect, standard burger toppings. They offer two types of buns – a standard (but excellent) soft roll that is toasted on the grill and a sub bun French roll.  They call it their cheeseburger sub, and it would certainly be my recommendations.  

As we were talking with the wait staff and cook (the service was amazing), my extremely loud booming voice obviously carried throughout the restaurant, as a Riverside Lunch regular (Jeff, who would also like me to point out that his is very good looking) bought our dinner for us! Thank You, Jeff – very much appreciated.

I was so enamored with Riverside Lunch that we delayed our trip by an hour and headed back there after touring Monticello – a delay that was completely worth it. I dreamed about that burger all night that night, and couldn’t get it out of my head (for the record – I still can’t). The second time was as good – if not better – than the first.  

To say that I recommend Riverside Lunch is the all time understatement. I am rarely as shocked and pleasantly surprised by a burger as much as I was with the one here. I have been scheming a way to go back there for some work trip or something – I will be there again. Until then, please continue to support this amazing small business so it will be there when I eventually get back in the area!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Another Year, Another Job...

Happy New Year 2020!

I won't even pretend to say that I will be more diligent in contributing to this blog in 2020. But I hope I will. I miss it, and with the election coming up, there will be plenty that I want to share.

On the most recent news front for me is my employment. I started out 2019 working at DXC Technology as the Chief Technical Evangelist. It was a great job and I very much enjoyed the people that I worked with. About March of 2019, I was given an opportunity to scratch an item of of my professional bucket list: to join a company as their Chief Information Officer.  As much as I liked my bosses and coworkers at DXC, I had to take advantage of the opportunity.

It may have been the greatest professional mistake of my working career.

Don't misunderstand me: the job itself was pretty much exactly as I expected it to be - working with my department to further our technical capabilities for the company. And while that was great, the company's leadership and owners were not. I could even get past their antiquated management styles if it were not so blatantly obvious how little they cared for the employees. As much as I wanted to see it through, I decided in September that I had to leave for my physical and mental health.  And I am soooooo glad that I did.

There were several opportunities almost immediately with some of the biggest names out there, but none of them turned out to be the right fit. I must have had 20-30 interviews, all looking for something that wasn't quite the right thing for me, and I didn't want to force it. I was also blessed with having a skill set in which there is plenty of contract work available in security and IT audit, which I did for a very brief time.

At the end of October, my former boss at DXC put me in touch with a contact at a tiny little company called Google. They were looking for a Chief Evangelist for their cloud business specific to an enterprise partner - DXC! It was the perfect fit! The folks at Google thought so as well, and so I went to work for them - again as a contractor.  Awesome fit, awesome company (you can +1 me as someone that confirms how cool it is to work for Google) and a really great team. So why would I ever leave? As a contractor, there is no permanent placement, no time off or benefits, and that uneasy feeling that some corporate decision will be made in some office somewhere and everything will be over. In reality, this never happened, nor do I think it was going to happen at Google. Plus, the tech industry is almost always this way - which is why so many tech workers have so much turnaround on their resumes. But still that nagging feeling remained.

In December, a friend sent me the opportunity that I had been looking for - a Research Director at a technical analyst firm. The best way that I can describe it to someone outside of the industry: you have likely seen the commercials on TV for trucks and cars, the ones that they talk about the "most reliable" or "Best Truck of the Year": companies like Consumer Reports or JD Power. Well, this job would be leading the research on cybersecurity for a company focused on providing that insight to the tech industry.

After a lengthy interview process in which I interviewed them almost as much as they interviewed me (again, I wanted to be completely SURE about the job), they offered me the position and I gladly accepted. I will miss working with the folks at Google and their partners, but this is the job that was made for me. In fact, another close friend checked out the job description and joked with me whether or not I had wrote it myself to fit my resume (he is not wrong - it is almost an exact match).

So, if you made it this far, know that I am starting as the Research Director for Cybersecurity and Cloud at Enterprise Management Associates at the end of the month. I extremely excited to start this chapter in my professional career, and have every intention of doing it for a while!

Happy New Year, and hopefully I will be able to provide some greater updates in 2020!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Remember Remember...

The irony that November 5th falls on Election Day is not lost on me. While this speech from V for Vendetta is for a different place at a different time, it is all too possible and real. Get out and vote, and remember remember...

Good evening, London.

Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke.

But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.

There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why?

Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power.

Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.

How did this happen? Who's to blame?

Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

I know why you did it.

I know you were afraid.

Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease.

There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense.

Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.

Last night I sought to end that silence.

Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives.

So if you've seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked.

But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Has Social Media Finally "Jumped the Shark"?

A little more than a month ago (and before the revelation – gasp! – that Facebook was collecting data), I decided to step away from Facebook for a while. The constant bickering, negativity and outright nastiness was NOT the reason that I signed up to use Facebook to start with.

Over the years, I certainly jumped into the middle of some “heated” debates. And some of them – with people that I genuinely respect – were actually worthwhile.  But even some of those – it is difficult to really debate someone in a series of micro-essays.  Plus, points were taken out of context, or ignored, or sometimes just completely fabricated, making the conversations strained.  I “lost” several Facebook friends because of these conversations, and damaged relationships with others.

Recently, the media has been reporting on the fact that Trump (and Obama) used Facebook data for political purposes – either nefariously, or as an integral part of their political apparatus.  To this security professional, with a deep background in political science, my first thought was: how is this even news? Is that not what the political campaigns are supposed to be doing? If I were running a political campaign again, for sure I would be using any/all data available to me to promote my candidate / issue to ensure victory.

Ironically, the story was more focused around the fact that Facebook collects your data.

If the fact that Facebook collects your data, sells your data, manipulates your data, and owns your data comes as a shock to you, then we REALLY need to have a one-on-one conversation about Information Security basics.

For the cheap seats: Facebook is a data company. They take massive data stores of information and sell that information to advertisers, political campaigns, and pretty much anyone / everyone else they can to generate revenue.


If you have a problem with this idea – that a third party is taking your personal data (pictures, education, background, even location at any given time) and selling it to the highest bidder - then I highly recommend that you immediately take whatever steps necessary to delete your Facebook account (and – they just announced that even if you delete you FB account, your data may take up to 90 days to be completely purged from their systems).

I’m not quite there – yet.  I still want to be able to contact some long lost friends through Facebook if I need to, and Facebook is still the most convenient way. Besides, that was the primary reason I joined Facebook to begin with – check in on long lost friends, and the occasional puppy picture.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Death to Drug Dealers?

I do not support the use of drugs.

I do not support drug dealers.

I do believe in the death penalty, at least in some very limited cases.

I however, do not believe that drug dealers should receive the death penalty for their crimes.

Let’s look at this from the extreme cases - the neighborhood dealer and the drug kingpin.

The neighborhood drug dealer: how many racial and class stereotypes can you put into one label? Chances are, when talking about the end-of-the-chain drug dealer, pretty much any and all of them might fit in some way. But there are plenty of drug dealers that are not the local street thug, standing on the street corner. While I don’t think that this is the guy that President Trump had in mind regarding the death penalty, who knows?

The drug kingpin: maybe these are the types that are deserving of a death sentence. But you have to ask yourself – do you think that the drug kingpin is losing sleep at night, worrying about US judicial procedure? I think it far more likely that he has much more “tactical” life-and-death concerns. Do you really think that breaking the law is a bigger deterrent (and the penalties that come with it) than the active hunting by rival drug cartel and special operations forces in their country? Ironically, the US penal system is likely the safest place that a drug kingpin could ever hope to live, regardless how long he has to live there.

The death penalty will always be an interesting thing to me:

Is it an instrument of deterrence? It obviously fails in nearly every regard.

Is it an instrument of punishment? How is this successful? Are those sentenced to death somehow more remorseful than those incarcerated? Plenty of antidotal evidence to show that they are not.

Is it an instrument of revenge? This seems the most likely. But then you have to ask if the various systems of government should be the mechanism for revenge in any aspect.  I suppose that there is a degree of comfort to those directly affected by the actions of the criminal, and for that reason, I still see that there are extreme circumstances where the death penalty would make sense.  But – using that standard – bringing some level of comfort to a victim of a drug related crime seems extremely farfetched and unrealistic.

The SCOTUS has deemed it possible to pursue the death penalty in crimes other than murder, specifically for “offenses against the State”.  I guess that executing a drug kingpin could bring a degree of national catharsis.  Again, not certain that this is the kind of justification that I want from the government, but others obviously do.

We’ll see how this plays out, and honestly – I seriously doubt that President Trump’s drug policy will have any impact on the drug crisis. I also believe that it is unlikely that we will see a death penalty case against a drug kingpin any time in the near future. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Remember, Remember, The Fifth Of November...

Remember, remember, the fifth of November, The gunpowder treason and plot…

In the spirit of commemoration, I thought we could mark this November the 5th by taking some time from the political and societal scandals – fodder that once was the exclusive domain of the checkout line tabloids but now consume every facet of our daily lives – to share a few thoughts.

No, I am not proposing anarchy – far from it.  We need a certain amount of order and norms for our society to function.  Yet there can be no question that since the last Fifth of November, a great many things have happened in OUR government – I’m talking about reality, not some dystopian Hollywood concoction that incites fear and discord among us.

How did this happen? Who's to blame?

Certainly there are some that are more to blame than others, but the truth is – and this is a hard truth for many – you need only look into a mirror.

Conservatives. Liberals. Republicans and Democrats. We did this to ourselves. We allowed it to happen.

We allowed a reality TV host with really bad hair to assume the highest, most powerful office in the world. But what choice did we have, as the other candidate seemingly maneuvered her party’s nomination years in advance, eliminating any opportunities for opposing voices to keep her from achieving her goal.

We have found that the political process is EXACTLY what we feared it was: an illusion, created by those chosen few in control of the process, to “elect” candidates of their choosing. Party primaries, nominations, the conventions – all political theatre to mollify you into thinking that your voice was heard. That your voice somehow mattered.

And yet – I honestly cannot say that I disagree with everything that our current government has done, just as we – you and I, no matter how diverse and divergent our views may be – have some things in common.

Maybe it is idealism. Maybe it is brainwashing. Maybe it is naivety. But I believe – I HAVE to believe – that there are better times ahead.

We have lost our national identity. I know not when it was lost, and I don’t think it really matters.  However, I do know that finding it may be the only way that we can salvage and protect the things that we commonly believe in.  We have banded together countless times in our history – during times of war, times of national tragedy. So I know it is possible.

But we have to persevere.

We have to ignore the nonsense.

We have to disregard insane Twitter and social media posts – not only from those in power, but from those we know to be spreading the very discord that is poisoning our values and way of life (yes, the irony is not lost on me that I am sharing this on social media myself).

Speak out against the things we know to be wrong, and brave enough to stand for what is right.  Again, there are some of you that will not agree with me, just as I will not agree with you. But only though constructive dialogue will we ever achieve common ground.

So, on this Fifth of November, I ask not for revolution, but to join me and attempt to bring civility back. I have already started – I have been consciously and actively scaling back radical views and politics from my life and writings. And I will continue to do so.

But I will not sit idly by and allow our great country to continue to divide over feckless minutia and vapid Hollywoodesque headlines.  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Thoughts on the Vegas Massacre...

I shared this on Facebook, and thought I would also post it here.

I have been dwelling in this on and off all week. But this one deserves an explanation.

- It has not been said enough, no matter how many times it has been said: the massacre at the Las Vegas concert is beyond horrible and disgusting. Randomly killing and injuring so many is deplorable. My thoughts have been on all of those impacted by this tragedy.

- None of these events are acceptable. I personally know someone that was at the concert (she is fine), but also have come to find out that this madman was also targeting concerts in other places - other places that I have people that I love and care about.

- Personally, getting rid of bump stocks makes little difference to me. I see very little practical sporting purpose for this kind of firearm accessory, except to make the rifle shoot fast and inaccurately. Does not interest me in the slightest.

- I included a graphic published from the widest circulation newspaper in the world, showing the accessories that I can add to my AR. Surprisingly, my local sporting goods store was out of grenade launchers. Folks - this is scare journalism at best, and fear mongering at its worst. The shooter did not have a grenade launcher. You can't buy grenade launchers. But those afraid of firearms and everything that they represent probably believe that all sporting rifles come standard with grenade launchers. For clarity - this is not the case. Also, a 'bump stock" is not a standard accessory either.

- Many close and personal friends have asked me why there is not greater controls on firearms. The answer: people like Nancy Pelosi is why not. I believe that there are reasonable actions we can take to control some aspects of firearms without trampling the spirit of the Second Amendment. I would argue that I could have a conversation with any one of you and we could come to a sane middle ground. I think there are many members of the NRA like myself that believe the same thing. But the NRA has a Nancy Pelosi problem, and it is a difficult one to solve.

- If we crafted sensible firearm regulations, and somehow removed the legitimate fear of cascading and ever increasing regulations, I think we could make some progress. Contrary to the media, the NRA is NOT a terrorist organization (and let me clue you: that rhetoric is extremely NOT helpful when you are trying to establish trust with an extremely paranoid organization) any more than the ACLU is a terrorist organization. There are reasonable members of the NRA, and they are willing to discuss this and other regulations on firearms. But the NRA leadership has a completely warranted right to fear Pelosi and others of her ilk.

- If this is the "olive basket" (quoting Ocean's 13) that the NRA is going to lead with, it is pretty terrible. I would hate this to be the beginning and end of the NRA's compromise on gun regulations.

- I honestly don't know where I come down on some of these issues any longer. I am a proud NRA member, and will continue to elect those who work to protect my 2A rights. I would like to think that we may some day return to a level of societal discourse that promotes the discussion of the mental health issues that are at the root of so many of these shootings, as well as an open conversation about how best to deal with the firearms that are a very real part of our society.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Politicization of EVERYTHING...

Now that my initial sadness has subsided, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the current political climate, specifically around the NFL protests:

First – and most important in my book – regardless of the issue, bringing politics into the sporting professions (it is spreading across various sports, probably because of Trump) is not something I can support.  No, not because I am against their right to protest. But mainly because I believe that it has no place on the field.  Sure, those protesting want to garner the maximum amount of attention to their issue / causes as possible. And there is no larger audience than the nationally televised broadcast of their sporting event. But their protest detracts from the game – it has NOTHING to do with the game, and they should not be using the game as their pulpit to advertise their message.  If they were protesting some aspect of the game, of even something related to the game, I think I could better understand that.  But arguably, that is not what they are protesting.  They should use their First Amendment right somewhere other than the playing field. Use their vast celebrity to hold their own press conference. Follow JJ Watt’s example: he recently used his celebrity to raise over $30 million of Texas relief, so I know it is possible.

Second – yes, it is absolutely possible and – I would argue – the responsibility of NFL owners to stop these protests. People have been talking about First Amendment rights, and there is certainly a free speech right that our soldiers and veterans have fought to defend. But over and over again, the Supreme Court and the various appeals courts have ruled that the right to free speech does not extend to the workplace. Case in point – agree or disagree – is the guy who was fired from Google for his views on women in the workplace.  According to the Google CEO, Damore so called manifesto “violate[d] our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” Basically, his memo was disruptive to the workplace, and caused discomfort among the employees.  Certainly true, and so he was fired for his beliefs – however misguided they may or may not have been.  And arguably, the same thing could be said about what is happening with the NFL protesters.  Viewership is significantly down, and player / protesters / teams are losing financially lucrative endorsement deals. Can anyone argue that the actions of the protesters have not been disruptive? All this to say is that the right to free speech does not extend to the football (or any other) field – the professional sporting organizations are ALLOWING this to happen. They are supporting – implicitly or explicitly – these protests and protesters.  Conversations about freedom of speech are not relevant to the issue at hand, because the NFL and the ownership is condoning this, allowing this, supporting this, and permitting this to happen.

Lastly, is it so much to ask to have something – nearly anything – at this point that can be apolitical? I pretty much avoid all cable and national news because of the political biases – on both sides, by the way. Print media and the media in general has always had a degree of political bias. I have stopped watching the CBS Sunday Morning show: it was literally one of the very few things that I nearly always watched. But since Charles Osgood left the show (retired) and Jane Pauley took over, the segments have a much more politicized bent. The Emmys? The Oscars? Pretty much any “award” show out there? All have become political bashing. Look, I get it – politics affects everyone. I am one of the biggest political junkies I know. But when is enough enough? I find myself watching MASH reruns and BBC news mainly because I can’t stand anything else on the TV.  Now, sports is tainted as well.

I am not looking to boycott the NFL. I am still an “owner” of the Green Bay Packers, and I will likely always support my team. I am just deeply disappointed in President Trump (PLEASE, JUST PLEASE get off of Twitter – even for just a little bit), the NFL, the owners, the players and the protesters for stripping away some of the magic that is professional football.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Sad Day for the Boy Scouts...

This morning, the LDS Church announced that they will no longer utilize the Boy Scouts as their youth program:

And before the flames begin - know that I have been a Boy Scout for over 3/4 of my life. I am an Eagle Scout, and the son of an Eagle Scout and the brother of another Eagle Scout. Many of those that I consider my closest friends are Eagle Scouts as well - we literally grew up together and still are friends to this day, some 20+ years after most of us earned the award.

Among us, there are VERY differing perspectives on the "3G's" in the Scouting program - God, Girls and Gays.

“God” is fairly straightforward - the Scouting program embraces *ALL* religions, but not the absence of a belief in a high power (Atheism). The BSA has been sued MANY times throughout the years for the requirement of those in the organization holding a belief in a higher power.

“Girls” is the constant barrage of those that want females as part of the BOY Scouts.  Again, countless lawsuits, and accommodations have been made to include female leaders and youth participants within the organization (the Girl Scouts, BTW, do not allow boys, unless they identify as a female. SHM).

“Gays” refers to the efforts of the LBGT community to participate as leaders, and then as youth members in the BSA.  In June 2000, the Boy Scouts won a landmark Supreme Court case (Boy Scouts of America v. Dale) which affirmed the organization’s right of freedom of association.  In recent years, the Boy Scouts have caved to those demands and pressures, first by allowing homosexual leaders, and most recently allowing homosexual and transgendered youth participants.

For the record, let me share the following on the 3G’s:

I believe that the organization has a responsibility to promote a belief in a higher power.  Part of the Scout Oath is a duty “to God and my country.” If you do not believe in God (in His many various forms), then the Boy Scouts is not likely the organization for you.

I believe that it is OK – and actually a good thing – for young men to gain values and experiences without the distraction of girls.  I am not saying that girls are “bad”, but I also know that the social dynamics of a situation change when you comingle genders. Boys will have more than enough chances to interact with females outside of the Scouting program. And females can also gain from participating in girls only organizations without the unnecessary social conventions associated with working with boys. If you want to camp and hike with girls, then the Boy Scouts is not likely the organization for you.

I believe that there are organizations that can be exclusive.  Not every single organization should be open to every single person.  There are many that believe in complete and total openness, and any level of exclusivity is discriminatory.  I am not saying gay people are “bad”, but there are many that believe that those values represented by some in the LGBT community are not aligned with those traditional parts of the Scouting program.  As represented above, most of the chartered partners (those that sponsor Scouting units) are religious organizations. And some of those organizations (including the LDS church) do not embrace the LBGT causes, especially when they are influencing their youth participants. I am sure the Mormons will be demonized for their antiquated and backwards views on gays.  Same for the Roman Catholics and any number of other religious institutions. But they believe what I believe – that while not necessarily evil, their views and beliefs do not mesh with the (former) traditional values of the Scouting program. If you want to promote and embrace values that run contrary to the core values of the Scouting program and their chartered partners, then the Boy Scouts is not likely the organization for you.

Unfortunately, the Boy Scouts disagrees with me, and that is why the Board of Directors at the National level have made drastic accommodations over the past 20 years to become more inclusive. Many of the afore mentioned Eagle Scouts that I consider my friends agree with this stance.  But I also know many that do not.  My friend Jason Carter (and Eagle Scout) left the Boy Scouts to become a leader in the Trail’s Life organization after the Boy Scouts abandoned his values.  I know of several others that were supporters of the Boy Scouts that can no longer support them (in spirit or through financial means) because of the value changes.

So yes – I am disappointed.  This is another sad day for an organization that I love.