Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Or Not

Just learned we're not getting the kid.  Probably because of her grades.

And that there is another kid in the area who needs to find a new host family, quickly.

15, like the other.  Female, like the other.

And from Thailand.



I still like him, really. And I know he's not out for a popularity contest.

But did he have to meet with that wacko Kentucky clerk?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


We're going through a period of difficulties.  Not world-ending ones, but still.

First, there is now a question about whether the French girl can actually come to our local school.  Apparently, her last French report card had three Cs on it, and the local school doesn't (usually) accept kids with Cs or below.  The organization which is trying to move her is trying to find out what her current grades (all of three weeks worth) are at the American school she's attending.  How they will find out without telling the kid that she might be moving is, fortunately, not my problem.  I have to admit, I don't really care.  I would like to have the kid here, because I think I'd like the experience, but if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen.

Second, however, is more serious.

My daughter is a member of the Cadet Corps at a major college.  The Corps is mostly composed of kids who are going into the military after college, but there is a component of kids who are not, and she's in that.  Regardless, she has to adhere to the same rules as everyone else, and she's okay with that.

Last week, she and her boyfriend were in her room, along with her roommates, when some other members of the Corps showed up.  This was pretty crowded for a room that's normally crowded with just four people in it.  The roommates and the new people were talking about going 'downtown' (a small town next to the college), but when it became apparent that they were not going, my daughter's boyfriend suggested that they go back to his room and watch movies, which they did.

While they were gone, the people in the room started drinking.  Strictly forbidden.  Don't know if it was one person, several, roommates, not. Doesn't matter. In the Corps dorm, regardless of your age, drinking's forbidden.

When she returned, it was obvious that the visitors were impaired.  Rather than trying to get these guys back to their own rooms (one in that same building, two in a building a quarter mile away), she elected to give them blankets and pillows and let them sleep on the floor.  Which they did.

She didn't turn them in for drinking.  She should have.
She slept in the same room as males.  She should not have.

Nothing actually happened, but this was against the rules.  They got caught -- as it turns out, turned in by one of her roommates.

The two roommates who were drinking are in serious trouble.  Possibly as much as kick them out of the Corps trouble.  That would scotch their plans to go into the military. Horrible. I know one of them, and she's a good kid.

My daughter was told that she could be charged with failing to report them, and for 'visitation violation'.  She wouldn't (probably) get kicked out, but she could well get busted in cadet rank, have to stop doing Corps activities she enjoys, etc.

She's been talking to people who've been disciplined. (This fascinates me in a horrible way.  She can't ask the 'adult leadership' for advice, because its that adult leadership who will be ruling on the punishment for drinking, and might be advising on the punishment for my daughter.  So she has to rely on people she knows, getting their opinions.  Might be more honest, but more informed?  Maybe, maybe not.  Nice going, Corps leadership.)  They gave her advice about her rights (something else the Corps didn't spend a lot of time on), and what she could and could not, should and should not, do.  The one thing she was told repeatedly was Don't Lie. (Another ringing endorsement for an organization where not lying is supposed to be how they live their life.)  To which I added But don't volunteer answers, either.  Be honest, but be succinct. Don't suggest questions to them. These inquisitors are your friends and mentors, but today, they're none of that. Don't lie, but answer only what's asked.

I reminded her of that great political quote - It isn't the crime that gets you, it's the cover-up. If asked, don't lie.  If not asked, don't volunteer.

I have never been a big fan of the Corps, which strikes me as a silly organization (I told my daughter repeatedly, when she first started, and was having problems, that the Corps was totally NOT the real military; it was rather people playing at being military).  Today I reminded her of a slogan I'd heard years ago - Military Justice is to Justice as Military Music is to Music.  I want her to survive the music, and I want her to be prepared for organizational stupidity and rigidity.

So I showed her this video clip.

One other thing.  The two drinking roommates, aware that it was the third who turned them in, want to 'make her life hell', as my daughter put it.  She told me that she's going to do whatever she can to keep that from happening.  When I told her I was pleased by that, she shrugged and said it was no big deal.  I think it is. 

Friday, September 25, 2015


Four days ago I received a mass-mailing -- an appeal from a woman who runs the organization that brought in the two French girls who stayed with us.  It was a forwarded request from a different, but similar, organization, trying to find a place for another French teen.  The catch:  the teen is already here and living in Virginia -- but not getting along with the host family.  They would like to get her out of their house.

I asked the sender why they were not getting along, and the response was After she had her introductory photographs taken,  the girl dyed her hair blond, and the family doesn't like it. Seemed like a lame reason to want the kid gone.  Then I learned and she got one of those gauge piercings in her earlobe, which didn't square with the host family. They're fairly conservative.

Hmmm.  Tell me about her.

She's a 15 year old from Provence, she's friendly and energetic, she likes school, and she wants to speak American (not English).  She's fluent in French, pretty close in English, and knows a little Spanish and a little German.  Oh, and she doesn't know that we're looking to move her.


The best thing for her would be something where she gets to stay in her current school but moves to a different host family in that area -- but none have popped up, hence the friend of a friend mailing. Our local school isn't thrilled about bringing in a foreign student three weeks into the school session, but after mulling it over, said Well, get her records sent to us, we'll let you know next week. 

My daughter likes the idea but at the same time thinks Wait, you mean when I am at home for Break, she'll BE there?  Yeah, maybe..... And my wife says Sure, we can do that....we don't have to bring her to tourist places, like we did during the summer with the others, do we? Um, I don't think so. And I myself have thought what the heck am I getting into here? A new person, for almost a year?

So I'm half hoping it works, because I've wanted to do this  - a foreign student living long-term with us - for a while.   And I'm half hoping the local school says Nope, sorry, no can do.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Listening to the Pope, I wonder:  Could THIS be the adult that I've been thinking the world's leaders have needed, all these years? Someone who can be kind yet stern, mild yet forceful?

Jeez, that would be nice.....

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Daughter just called, in tears.  Apparently - for reasons that are not clear -- she had told her PC to upgrade to Windows 10 a while ago, and it was working.  Last night, it abruptly returned itself to Windows 7 -- and threw away all of her documents, including a paper she was working on. Which is due to day.

Monday, September 21, 2015


Every so often one comes across a book that is so well written, you have to read it slowly.  Eifelheim, by Michael F. Flynn, appears to be such a book.  I am not certain, since I'm only on page ten -- but his grasp of imagery and characterization thus far is an absolute delight.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


I have a friend whose family is, to put it mildly, dysfunctional.  She wants to move out but she's a full-time doctoral student and part-time museum guide -- which doesn't nearly generate enough money to be even someone's roommate. Except that now her father has told her that she's 'just like her mother' - whom she despises - and that HE wants her out of the house.

I have a daughter who had a close friend at college last year, but that friend hyper-bonded with her roommate, freezing out my daughter -- and this year she is in the same room as them, getting frozen out all over again. Oh, and its four girls in a room sized for two -- the college wasn't able to get a new dorm on-line in time for this semeter -- so, no privacy, either.

I have to remind myself that I really can't fix these things.

Friday, September 18, 2015


I have almost no interest in zeppelins or in the Graf Hindenburg, but I found this description of the Hindenburg's interior to be fascinating.  Before this, all I knew of the interior of a zepplin was this scene from that Indiana Jones movie!

Thursday, September 17, 2015


I really hope that Ted Cruz does not come out in favor of ice cream.  Because right now I can pretty safely say that anything he likes, I'd despise....and I really don't want to give up Turkey Hill Orange Swirl ice cream!

Sunday, September 06, 2015


Sounds good, doesn't it?  Charming, even quaint.   Except, perhaps, at West Point.This year, the pillows were weaponized.

Everyone had helmets, but some of them were hidden inside the pillowcases.  Some of the cadets were wearing body armor.  Blood flowed freely. Medevacs were done, and wide-ranging checks for concussions occurred afterwards.

From the New York Times:

"West Point cadets had mixed reactions to the injuries this year. Some saw them as a rite of passage in a school known for being tough; others saw a lack of judgment and restraint.

“At first the body count, people were joking about it,” a female first-year cadet said. “My friends were really excited. And right after, when we learned how many people had gotten hurt, everyone felt totally hard-core. I know it looks weird from the outside, but it really bonds us.”

But when she saw a male cadet being loaded into an ambulance outside her dorm room, she began to have second thoughts.

“If you are an officer, you are supposed to make good decisions and follow the rules. You are supposed to mediate when everyone wants to go out and kill everyone,” she said. “The goal was to have fun, and it ended up some guys just chose to hurt people.”"

Hear That?

I like good burger places.  I'm fairly picky about what good burger place means -- it most emphatically does not mean places where you need to jack your mouth open like the Coneheads to get the burger in there, nor does it mean great slabs o'meat, or a thousand other things between the meat and the bun. 

One place that makes a decent -- not outstanding, but decent -- burger is Five Guys.  A lot of people say that.  In fact, what they say is that it's wonderful, magnificent, awesome....all of which suggests to me that they've been eating in McDonalds way too much.  Still, its not bad, except for one thing.

The noise.

They have a hard floor, hard tables, hard ceiling.  Noises echo and linger.  If you've got something to distract you -- say, you think that guy teetering on the high chair by the window is going to fall? -- it's not too bad.  But if can be painful.

I admit, part of this is my age.  I've never liked particularly noisy venues, and now I actively dislike them.  They ruin the experience, and they make me not want to come back.

Fortunately, I'm not the only one who's thinking about this, and unlike me, other people can actually do something about it, as this New York Times article lists. Most of the solutions are traditional, including softer surfaces and angled ceiling tiles.  Some are obvious but usually overlooked, like teaching the busboys to lock down the utensils so they don't drop onto a hard surface.  Some are high tech, like 'sonic foam' and the ability to 'dial in' the sound level that's acceptable. 

Music to my ears.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015


I was thinking about that woman who refuses to issue marriage licences because her view of religion says that she cannot do it.  Apparently, she is an elected official, and cannot be removed from office unless she is impeached or resigns.  Of course, we know how easy it is to impeach someone!  It made me wonder -- how many other people of similar views are hidden in our infrastructure?  It would be absurd to say that we have to ferret such people out -- though the witchhunt would be fun to watch -- but I wonder if we will see laws that say if you are working for the governmenet, and  refuse to do your job, you'll be fired?  Of course, I doubt such a law would be passed, for the simple reason that legislators, tied up in partisan gridlock, refuse to do their job all the time.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015


I am considering being a mentor again -- probably won't, but I might. So I am looking at their many, many requirements, all of which would not have stopped or guaranteed what they want to stop or guarantee. The requirements are in two places, they apparently having never learned the thing about 'you state information once; all other places refer to it'.

I was particularly taken by this gem of organizational thinking:

If you discover a person who is not breathing, has no pulse, or is choking, call the office. Say that it is a “Code Blue,” name the medical emergency, and give your exact location. Remain with the victim.

'Code Blue' seems a little redundant to me. 

I also found this, in a section talking about getting the kids to a safe place in case of a storm:

Students and staff should avoid doors, and windows while relocating.

How are they going to get to the safe area -- teleport?