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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Academy Interviews

     Around this time of year I usually get involved in the selection process for the various military academies.  In NH my involvement was  as a field representative for the admissions department at West Point.  Here, it is quite different.  Senator Lindsey Graham (SC-R) puts a lot of effort into the responsibility of nominating candidates for the various academies.  Unlike the patronage days of a half century ago, most congressmen (-women) send a small set of nominees to the admissions departments of the academies and let them make the final selections.  It is a good approach.  The congressmen (do I have to keep doing this gender thing?) stay very much involved yet the superior ability of the admissions offices to predict those who will succeed serves to keep expensive attrition rates down.
     This opportunity to serve is a humbling and inspiring experience.  America is NOT going to Hell.  The young men and, yes, women are impressive, accomplished, and motivated people.  I heard more than one old grad say, "I probably wouldn't qualify today."  
     As we get older, our habits, acquaintances, and activities become more predictable.  Any activity that exposes you to the best of today's youth is a rejuvenating experience.  I recommend it. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

If you create a monster, you have to feed it.

     It has been brought to my attention by my mother-in-law's son that I have not posted to my blog in ten days.  The title of this blog comes from legendary Oklahoma football coach, Bud Wilkinson.  Aren't all successful football coaches "legendary"?  It's true, when we are not on the road there are fewer pictures and fewer new tales than when we are wandering around this (still) great country.  I usually build a blog around some pictures that I think might interest the reader.  While our back yard has yielded some nice pictures of sunsets, deer, eagles and golden retrievers, it certainly does not do it on a daily basis.  We have settled into our winter mode.  Durelle and Cindy play golf about once a week.  Let me predict right here that Durelle is going to match her grandfather by shooting her age one of these days.  I do not intend to turn this into "what are we doing today", Facebook-type narrative.  I'd prefer it to be a travel blog, or perhaps a Chamber of Commerce blog when we are stationary.
     I have now finished three of those previously described Angel Bus missions of picking up a cancer patient and bringing him to the Hollings Cancer Center in Charleston, and returning him home.  Each one involves about 750 miles of driving, but there is a lot of satisfaction that goes with it.
     I mentioned the back yard deer pictures.  Here is a very recent one.
      I also have a portrait shot of Baxter you might like.
     Speaking of Baxter, I also have a shot of him with Durelle's tomato plant.  As we were packing up to leave Maine, Durelle discovered a volunteer tomato plant next to the site's utility post.  She dumped out a small container of mums and dug up the tomato to bring home in spite of some disparaging comments from her unsentimental partner.  We don't know if it is a volunteer from our hanging pot of cherry tomatoes or what.  Perhaps Duane planted it some time ago.  At any rate, it has survived, and perhaps it will be set out next spring to see what happens.  Below is a picture of Baxter and the tomato plant.
     No, it is not a marijuana plant.  I thank my readers for their forbearance, and I will try to put together some good blogs exploiting the fact that Conde Nast has proclaimed Charleston to be the most desirable tourist destination in the world!