Mike Rowe’s thoughts on the Boys Scouts of America

BSA LogoMike Rowe, an Eagle Scout and a Distinguished Eagle Scout, shares his thoughts on the current state of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

His experiences as a scout mirror my experiences – I very vividly remember playing British bulldog, learning First Aid, shooting rifles, tying knots (I can still a bowline one-handed with my eyes closed), and lots of hiking and camping. The fact that our experiences are similar should not be a surprise — he is only 2 months older then me.

Reading his thoughts got me thinking about todays role of the BSA.

Some background –
I am an Eagle Scout, my dad is an Eagle Scout, my dad’s brothers are Eagle Scouts, my brother is an Eagle Scout, and one of my sons is an Eagle Scout.
I spent 4 summers working at Scout camps.
My Grandfather served as Scoutmaster of Troop 40 in Hartford, NY for decades, my dad was Scoutmaster and spent years as a volunteer, and I was Cubmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster for my boys Pack/Troop.
So you could say I have some history with the BSA.

It is challenging to sum up Mike’s thoughts in a couple of snippets, but my take aways are that he believes that

our country’s current obsession with “safe spaces” is destroying character faster than the Boy Scouts of today can build it.


if Scouting could somehow recapture that combination of risk and wonder and pride and personal accountability – I believe their ranks would swell with the sons and daughters of millions of anxious parents, desperate to expose their kids to a program that prepares them for the real world.

All Baby Boomers remember riding our bikes around the neighborhood with no one watching us, walking to school or the store by ourselves, playing sports and not being given a ‘participation’ trophy, having free rein of the fields and farms around where we lived, getting punished for pointing an unloaded air gun at a passing car (if that seems pretty specific it is because it happened ‘to a friend’ of mine), or getting hurt playing, getting patched up, and back at it again.

The world has changed since I was a kid, but I think we have gone too far and are to protective of our children – scared by what we see and hear on the news of all the bad things that could happen.
I don’t deny bad s#!t can happen, but we should not be paralyzed by fear.
If kids are not pushed out of their safe spaces by their parents — how do they grow and be confident adults. And if the BSA is not willing to fill that role — who will be?

We need to teach boys (and girls) the life skills they will need as adults and challenge them to help them grow — aka push them out of their safe zones. I think the Boy Scouts of America is a great resource for that challenge.

Since I was a scout we have seen significant changes in the BSA. Two that come to mind are the policy changes regarding gay leaders and scouts, and the recent news regarding the expansion of programs for girls.
I think these were positive changes and show that the BSA is aware of the cultural changes in the 21st century and is trying to adapt. The challenge BSA leadership has is how do they adapt to societal changes but not lose the core of what they are – an organization

to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

A happy dog day

Stella But all is not sad in the Gibson household when it comes to dogs.

Last summer we fell into an opportunity to rescue a dog – a small German Shepard mix. We named her Stella (or Stella Blue if you ask Beverly).

We are guessing she is 1-2 – she sure has the energy of a puppy. She is wicked smart and extremely loving. She loves going to get coffee and gas with me, or to the pet store with Beverly.

Oh – and chasing balls. She LOVES to chase balls. I think if we did not stop she would keep going until she collapsed.

The Stella Flickr album

A sad dog day

Guinness HeadshotAll dogs are special – but our black lab Guinness was really special.
He came to us via a breeder in the UK. He was 3 years old at the time and he had had some medical issues that we never got all the background on.

For the past 10 years he has been an integral part of our family and was strongly bonded to Beverly. He traveled with us to Utah, to Oregon, and loved going to Mavericks (a beach near where we live). Like all Labs he loved to eat, sleep, go for walks, then eat some more.

Unfortunately old age, and maybe some of his preexisting conditions, caught up with him. Guinness’ last day was March 11. He will be missed beyond words.

A Flickr Album of Guinness photos

Connor’s photos go national

Sports Journal Logo

For the past several months Connor has been one of the staff photographers shooting Bay Area sports for The Sports Journal. He has shot the SF Giants, the SJ Sharks, and the SJ Earthquakes.

The Sports Journal is primarily web based, but they do publish a physical magazine. In the October 2015 issue an article titled ‘Drafting a Dynasty’ about the SF Giants included one of Connor’s photos !!. The pdf of the magazine is here, His photo is on page 57 of the magazine (or page 29 of the PDF).
I could not find a permanent link to the specific issue, so if the Oct issue is no longer available on-line, drop me a line and I can send you the PDF. 

Way to go Connor !! Hope this leads to more awesome photo opportunities.

Landon gets published


It has been what, 16 months since my last post. What could it possible be that would motivate me to do a post.

Well, I have been thinking about starting to make an effort to post on a more regular basis – where more regular means more than do a couple of posts . . . wait a couple of years . . . do a few more posts . . . repeat.

But the catalyst today is this article published on the Public Policy Institute of California’s web site – Nursing Homes in California. Other than the fact that I am getting along in years and may need the service of a Nursing Home someday, the reason I call this out is that this is the first solo published article of an up and coming public policy expert – one Landon Gibson.

Gotta say, it is pretty special and makes one proud when you see someone you care for continue on their path to success.


So – what has happened since my last series of posts

• iOS 4 is released

• iPhone 4 is released

• I attended a family reunion in the Tetons

hmm – anything else? Oh yeah – I got laid off.

ex-squeeze me you say – yep ich nicht bin ein HPer. I had assumed – mistakenly – that I would be safe in the Software group. Well you know what they say about assuming . . .

The end of June was my last day at Palm. I was there almost 6 years – 6 pretty good years. But now it is time to start a new adventure and the crank up the network.

If you, or anyone one you know, is looking for a skilled project/program manager – you have my email.

Technology works b!#¢hes

From the Mercury News.

• Thieves break into house

• Thieves steal technology – including 2 iPads

• Geek (an Apple employee for the record) uses “Find my iPhone” to locate iPads – and as a result the thieves

• Cops using info from geek catch thieves

• Geek gets hardware back.

Geeks 1

Thieves 0

One benefit of loud rock and roll

There has been a lot press recently about the constant buzzing at the World Cup 2010 games – it has been compared to a hive of angry bees attacking you. This ‘joyous’ noise is created by the vuvuzela and FIFA has committed to not ban the horns. It is part of the atmosphere of the games.

I definitely hear the horns, but for some reason it does not bug me at all. Must have been all that Rush/Queen/Police music I listened to when I was younger. I damaged the vuvuzela sensitive cochlea nerves in my ear – lucky me.

Merlin Mann talk

Not sure if it is style of speech, his unique sense of humor, or his point view of life – but I like Merlin.

Here is a talk he gave at Rutgers about Time and Attention. Runs over an hour but enjoyed it.

Money quote – “If you could not be replaced by a monkey, a robot, or a shell script you are a brilliant human being”

It’s the content

Let me say this up front – I do not own an iPad and have only played with one for an hour or so. So my opinions are based upon the minimal interaction and the feedback from folks I respect. One of those folks is Fred Wilson – A VC on the east coast.

When the iPad first came out he was not a fan. Jump forward a month later and he has changed his tune.

His most recent comments reinforce my opinion that the iPad is best suited for content consumption. You can create on the iPad – but I don’t think it is meant for the heavy lifting. Writing a quick email is one thing – creating anything beyond a simple Pages/Numbers/Keynote document is something else.

I feel the iPad is an additional device to meet your technology needs – not a replacement device.

Buh bye

For a variety of reasons – the mains one being I work at Palm and AT&T reception at my house SUCKS – I find myself using my Palm Pre+ more and more.

Got to thinking why am I paying $70 a month for phone service I rarely use. So effective today I have cancelled my AT&T service.

Due to the wonders of Google Voice (and a neighbor that works there) I have transferred my number into Google Voice. That means that you can still call the old number and you reach me – lucky you.

This does not mean that I am leaving the iPhone/iPod ecosystem. There are things that the iPhone/iPod can do that my Pre is less successful at : 1) the podcast listening experience is much better on the iPhone/iPod; and 2) being able to manipulate Photos taken on the device.

I hope that with the introduction of the Palm PDK we will soon see full-featured photo editing apps. Not sure what will happen in regards to the podcast issue.

In the meantime my iPhone 3G becomes an iPod Touch – with a camera. When Apple introduces the next gen iPod Touch with a camera this summer (he says hopefully) it will be time to upgrade.

But you say Jess – what if you want to play a web-enabled game (like Words with Friends) on the iPhone and you are not someplace with WiFi? That is when Mobile Hotspot on the Pre comes to the rescue. Free WiFi on the go – Bazinga!

He’s Baaaaak

Not sure how long this will last – but I am committed (thanks to the push by GSM) to try to contribute to this blog on a regular basis. For as long as I can. Until I forget to.

Well, you know what I mean.

The Plug

aka – Lessons in Home Repair.

First – did you know there is a reset button on the bottom of your garbage disposal? Did you also know there is a hole/slot that you can use to manually turn the motor?
Several weeks ago the garbage disposal stopped working. It would make the motor noise but would not turn the blades. Hitting the reset pin did nothing to resolve the issue. Was talking to a neighbor and he mentioned the hole/slot that you can use to manually turn the motor. Lo and behold I had the correct torx screw driver to fit in the hole/slot. I rotated the motor by hand in the reverse direction and unstuck whatever was jamming the works.
Disposal back to grinding things and all is well in the world

Jump forward to last weekend. Disposal stops grinding the leftovers. Tried the steps outlined above and no joy. Figure it must be time to replace the disposal. After a quick call to my handyman hotline (aka my dad) I learn that all I need to do is disconnect the hoses (inflow from dishwasher and outflow to the sewer) connected to the disposal and rotate the disposal counter-clockwise to release it from the mechanism that holds it in place.
Making note of the make and model of the disposal I head off to Lowes. In no time flat, and $90, I have a new disposal that is ready to be installed into the place it does it’s magic.

Steps to install seem pretty straightforward – no need to RTFM (read the fracking manual). [you see where this is going, don’t you] Lift and rotate to hang it from the mechanism that holds it underneath the sink. Connect the plug with a couple of wire nuts. Hook up the two hoses. Flip the switch and hear the sweet sound of a 1/2 hp motor doing it best to make leftovers into little bits.

Jump forward to Tuesday morning. Woke up to some water on the counter next to the sink. Figured it had to do with the fact I ran the dishwasher last night. Easy cleanup and started thinking what could be the problem.

Jump forward to Friday morning. Woke up to lots of water on the counter. And on the floor. And in the lower cabinet. Definitely has something to do with the dishwasher and pretty sure it has something to do with the disposal because that is the only thing that has changed. But not sure how the pieces fit together – or in this case, don’t fit together.

Time to call my handyman hotline – who by the way is in Norway and was driving back from a week of skiing in a storm. Figured it was best to call back when he reaches his destination.

Called my handyman hotline back and quickly described the going-ons. His first question to me – “did you remove the plug?”. Me: “what plug?”

Seems not everyone that installs a disposal has a dishwasher so not everyone has a hose connected to the top opening. For those unfortunate folks they plug the opening so that they don’t have water, etc. spilling out under their sink. Makes sense.
But see, I have a dishwasher, so I have a hose that connects to the to opening. And when the dishwasher runs it tries to expel the excess water into this little opening – the opening that is plugged. AAAAAHHHHH – Lightbulb moment.

So, remove the top hose. Insert screwdriver. Hit with hammer. Hear a satisfying pop. Reach into the disposal and remove plastic plug.

Lessons learned
1. My handyman hotline is getting old and left out critical data. Yep that must be it, because the fact that I did not RTFM is not my fault. He should have told me about the plug. Yep, that is it. Not my fault. Nope. No way.

Megapixel Myth

I was having a conversation with Connor last night regarding a point and shoot camera that is listed has a 15 Megapixel (Canon G10) camera versus a DSLR that is listed as a 10 Megapixel camera (Nikon D80) – which one gives better pictures.
First thought is the point and shoot would do better – it has more megapixels, right? This article helps explain why megapixels don’t matter – size matters.

For Strength

I thought I had talked about my recently acquired love of Guinness but could not find a post – so here it is.

When we adopted the black lab and named him Guinness a neighbor gave me a four-pack of Guinness as a gift.
Prior this I had not been a really big fan of Guinness/Murphys/etc. Just felt they were too, well not sure what I thought but it was not my drink of choice. Well, one four-pack later and I have seen the light and Guinness has become my drink of choice.

Fast forward to this fall. Guinness is also the drink of choice for several of the developers that I work with. They enjoy their Guinness in style with their official Guinness Glasses. I thought the glasses were pretty gosh darn nifty and some day I would have to get me some.

Fast Forward to Christmas morning. Guess what Beverly got me for Christmas? My own set of Guinness bar glasses. It has been awhile since I got excited by a gift – this one got me exited. Thanks very much dear, now I can drink in style.