Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The story of LilPinkGrl

In 2001, right before 9/11 my oldest and I were getting ready for our high adventure trip to Philmont Scout Reservation. We would don our backpacks and walk around the neighborhood at night trying to prepare ourselves for what lay ahead.

So we had just left the house and while on the street we see this little toy something laying there.

"Hey! it's a little pink girl!" my kid says.

And so LilPinkGrl- as she has became known as - came to live with us.

I noticed from the picture my wife took of her that she had taken some road damage before we saved her, losing her nose to the asphalt. But she is a tuff little girl and after nursing her back to health she has gone on some rather harrowing adventures as a music playing Vah Shir in EverQuest, a Frosty Sorceress in Diablo II, and most recently a Dwarf Shadow Priest on WoW.

It may seem kind of strange for a 50 something adult male to play computer games as a female character named LilPinkGrl. Heck its strange that I game as much as I do period, but there is a reason in this case. LilPink actually represents a real something.

Tonight she is going to go fishing and will hunt down some cheese/wine glass/carrots/mushrooms for the umpteenth time in order to get her a cooks hat. I need to repeat this process for about 35 more days and the stupid hat is all hers!

Hey, you go get a life, I do what I can to make her happy, she's a little sensitive about her looks - that missing nose thing - so she thinks that hat will make her look special.

After 25 years of marriage I know never to argue about these types of things.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Taking One For The Team

Published Saturday, August 02, 2008 www.Theeagle.com
Texas A&M University athletic director Bill Byrne received a $204,000 salary boost and a 21/2-year contract extension Friday. The increase, approved Friday by the Texas A&M System Board of Regents, brings Byrne's salary to $690,000 annually. His contract now extends through Aug. 31, 2013.

Published Friday, July 03, 2009 www.TheEagle.com
Two of the longest-tenured members of the Texas A&M University athletics department lost their jobs Thursday in a budget-cutting move that eliminated 17 positions from the department.

Billy Pickard and Jim Kotch have a combined 73 years of service in the department. They were casualties of what athletics director Bill Byrne called a reduction in force that was required to complete a $4.5 million budget cut. Byrne said in a statement that the athletics department had to eliminate the positions because A&M officials could make only $3.5 million in cuts without reducing personnel."

Later in the same article we find out:
Four years ago, former A&M President Robert Gates and Byrne agreed that the athletics department would receive a $16 million line of credit from university funds for coaches' salaries and new facilities. The deal allowed the department access to the credit for four years, with 10 years to repay the money without interest. The first quarterly payment is due Nov. 30.
OK, so athletics, which everyone says "supports itself" through ticket sales needs to borrow money. That's understandable, but......
The line of credit was revealed last month in a self-critique of former A&M President Elsa Murano. "The athletics department has been operating in a deficit situation for several years," Murano wrote. "
OK, so you have been operating in a deficit for several year, but one year ago you give the man who is at the helm of the red ink spewing ship a $204,000.00 salary boost.

My question to Mr. Byrne, when you stated:
"This difficult decision [Reduction in Force] came after an exhaustive review of the entire program and with great reluctance."
Did you think about giving back your salary boost to save the jobs of your staff?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Call me irrersponsible........

shakes head back and forth.........
"She is a beloved figure in the Republican Party," conservative commentator Pat Buchanan said on MSNBC. "If she's not running for governor and wants the option to run for president, what sense does it make to stay in Alaska? She's saying, in effect, I'm liberating myself."
Any reader to this blog will know I am no fan of Sarah Palin. She is all hat as they say in Texas, and anyone who thinks she would make a better president over other more seasoned and dare I say, stable, candidates proves what is wrong with the Republican party pre Newt. You want a viable female Republican candidate, look at Kay Bailey Hutchison or Carol Browner for starters.

Palin may be leaving politics for good, an understandable decision on her part. For every stupid person who finds her a darling, there is a mean, vindictive person who will attack her kids and family going so low as to make fun of her Down's child. I don't think she was prep'd correctly to start this battle and unfortunately has paid a high price for it. No one deserves to be treated this way.

And yet they still look to the sky........

Palin is celebrity - she is also a loose cannon, unpredictable, and - what has been shown to date - lacking in the wisdom to be a good leader. Prior to elevating her to Republican goddess she may have been able to carve out a legitimate resume. Since all it takes to vote is age and being a citizen, we the people are known to make poor decisions and choices, crave celebrity, and respond to rhetoric over wisdom, this may indeed be Palin's high water mark.

What sense does it make to stay in Alaska? Well Pat, maybe to show guys like me and the world that she has the personal character necessary to lead in times of good and bad. This is the mark of a true leader - the sticktoitness to finish what they start and do the best job they possibly can for the right and just reasons.

With all the foolishness that has followed Palin to this point and now this, for her to remain a beloved figure shows just how clueless those controlling the Republican party are. We the people - despite our stupid behavior - deserve better.

Friday, July 3, 2009

"S" is for Scientist

I have always wanted to call myself a scientist but have hesitated or been reluctant due to what I perceived were the requirements of which I knew I did not met. I cannot recall names of things, including people, no matter how many times I repeat them. Some stick, for example eucalyptus elongates has always stuck with me – and I learned it from a landscape design class I took in high school 35 years ago, and of course sequoia sempervirens, the giant redwood of which I spent a lot of time working on while getting my undergrad in Botany from Humboldt State. But most of the time I struggle with the terms, formulas, and calculations, and so never thought I could really call myself a scientist.

It has only been lately that I realize what makes someone a scientist, and it is not those things. They are helpful and make it easier, but that is not, fundamentally, the requirements for the designation of scientist. It is instead the passionate desire to understand the “why” of something. Not to accept that it “just does”, but to pursue the possible mechanism responsible. That is what makes a scientist - this want to find an answer, the intellectual curiosity and fascination with what happens from the macro to the microscopic.

I have had the privilege, due to the generosity of my in-laws, to make up for my lack of faith in myself by going after my Masters. I settled 30 years ago for a BA, not a BS, in Botany. The lack of that “S” at the end, as silly as it may seem, always bothered me, but it was not until recently that I understood why. I failed myself when I took the easy way to a degree. Without the “S” my degree, my knowledge, my ability to put myself in the same room with my intellectual peers was always cheapened by my full understanding that I took the easy way. It is not the “A” or the “S” that matters, it is that I did not put the time into it, I know that and anyone that looks at me would know that too.

So with little confidence that I could do it, I got up the courage to try. But…..you know that permanent record that they always warned you about when you were young and in school? Well there really is such a thing and they can use it to keep you out. I was not a stellar student in high school or college and my stupid-stinking permanent record will not let me forget that. So to get into Grad School I would need someone to believe in me and give me a chance. That person, through the recommendation of my good friend Annamarie, was Professor KC Donnelly, the head of the EOH department at the Texas A&M HSC - School of Rural Public Health.

Dr. Donnelly passed away this Wednesday, a victim of esophageal cancer. He was five years older than me but light years ahead in knowledge and in my opinion the epitome of what a scientist is. I am working to finish my thesis, of which he never got to see my work. I emailed him while he was in the hospital and sent him all my drafts. I have no idea if he got to see it, and it really does not matter, what I wanted him to know is that what I have produced is the culmination of what he provided me an opportunity to achieve. When it is all said and done I will have added that “S” and I will not be able to thank him for that by defending my thesis in front of him and then shaking his hand at graduation.

I will miss having that opportunity and I will miss him. He is what I hope to call myself - what I can now call myself – a scientist.