December 2006 Archives

SPIDER MOUNTAIN: A NOVEL

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I received Spider Mountain: A Novel by P. T. Deutermann today. It was just released on the 26th and I had it pre-ordered from abck in September. He and Stephen Coonts are currently my two favorite authors. Both are former naval officers and write some pretty good spy/mystery/thriller books. I hope I get to read it soon but with all the other books I have to read, who knows when I'll get around to it.

CHRISTMAS 2006!

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Had a nice Christmas Day without being rushed to be anywhere or to do anything, just relax and take it easy. We slept in a little, not too much, but a little, got up and had some coffee, and then opened our gifts. I got DVDs from my wife and daughter: Walk the Line (I like Johnny Cash but hate country music—go figure), Season One of The Unit, and Season Five of 24.

Of course I’d much rather give than receive so I enjoying my wife and daughter opening their gifts. They seemed happy but not surprised: they never are because I always seem to get them what they want.

Other gifts had come in earlier in the month. We all got some much appreciated money from my parents and grandmother, gift cards from sister, and other gifts people here and there. All were very nice and appreciated. We get together with my wife’s family and exchange gifts later.

WHAT A VOICE

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My daughter sang a solo at church today. All I can say is, Wow! She really has a very nice voice, always has, but it has become even better over the last few years. She is projecting much better and is more confident in front of audiences. I was, and am, very proud of her.

CLEAN-UP DONE

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I did some much needed clean up of my home office over the last few days. Some files needed to be trashed, some papers needed to be filed, some documents needed to be scanned, and some letters needed to be written. It took a while but I pretty cleaned up most everything.

I still have more books than bookshelves, and I did manage to toss some old magazines. I used to keep them all but have now reduced the volume of volumes I keep. I keep all copies of my Naval Institute Proceedings and Naval History. I also keep all of the Joint Forces Quarterly, The American Interest, and Foreign Policy. I don’t why, these are all, for the most part, readily available on-line or at the library, but I just can’t break old habits.

Keeping old copies can also come in handy. I have saved all the copies of the MSU College of Engineering Newsletter from as far back as anyone can remember. A few weeks ago we decided to frame the covers of the newsletters and hang them on the wall in McCain Engineering. Of course no one could find all of the copies so I came to the rescue. A fair number of the covers hanging in McCain are scans of the copies I kept.

LAST DAY OF WORK FOR THE YEAR

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There are some advantages to working for a university. They pay may no be all that great but the time off a Christmas is certainly nice. Today was the last day to work this year. The university closed at 1700 and all thermostats are being set to 40 degrees. That means I have some incentive to not go in and work at the office. I usually do go in for a little here and there but if it turns cold, count me out. I’ll go in and water some plants and I have surely forgotten something I’ll need and will have to go back for that. Otherwise I plan to work on studying for comps, getting some projects done, and resting a little.

What’s even nicer is that the students have been gone for a few days; many people have taken leave, so the amount of incoming work has slowed greatly. I was able to use the time to get caught up on a few things and give a little thought to what I want to get done next year.

HOME FROM THE CONFERENCE

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I actually arrived on-time with all of my luggage today from the COs conference in DC. Delta did come through. I did have some trouble sleeping last night so I finally got up and went to see if the taxi was waiting. There actually was a taxi so he took me to the airport where I had to wait for everything to open. I was second in line for the self-check-in kiosk, got to the TSA checkpoint and had to wait for them to open. Then I ended up being third in line for the medallion level queue.

It couldn’t get any better than this, I thought. Then it occurred to me to look at boarding pass again. Seat 2A. I was automatically upgraded to First Class. Admittedly it was too early in the morning for a beer, and I was not in the mood for a Bloody Mary, so I settled for a cup of coffee and the extra seat room. I pulled out the Bose QS3s, plugged in my 80 Gb video iPod, and pulled out a magazine. I actually enjoyed a flight for a change. I made the connection in Atlanta, ASA actually took off on schedule without a “maintenance” delay (will miracles never cease!?) and I got home in time to meet the fam for lunch at Mi Hacienda, our favorite Mexican restaurant and standard Sunday lunch eating place.

FAIR TRADE NOT SO FAIR?

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Dateline: Courtyard Marriott Capitol Hill/NavyYard, DC

"Voting with your trolley", The Economist, December 9-15, 2006

For the last few years our church has been brewing Fair Trade coffee at our coffee time on Sunday mornings. We've done it because it was the "right" thing to do. It has always bothered me because it never made any sense, but it what liberals do--take action even if it doesn't make sense. The problem is people do not understand economics.

My concern has always been that "fair trade" artificially boosts the price of coffee and encourages people to grow coffee even though there is an overabundance. Of course, with the liberals paying better than a fair price for the coffee more people want to grow coffee which lowers the price even further.

Well, now I have others who agree. The December 9th - 15th 2006 issue of The Economist has an article outlining my objections exactly. They also confirmed a suspicion I've long had about the "fair trade" and that is that it is the retailers who are making a killing, not the growers. "Fair trade" coffee gives the farmer about a 5 cent per pound premium, according to The Economist.

Now I'm going to be generous. Let's say we use four pounds of coffee per week at church (I doubt we do because we always seem to run out). That means that each week we put an additional twenty cents in the wallet of the coffee farmer. Another way of looking at it is that we give Juan Valdez an extra $10.40 per year. I have no idea how much we are giving the retailer but I suspect if bought regular coffee ("unfair trade"??) and wrote a check to the coffee farmers for, say $30, we'd save a lot of money and the farmers would get a lot more money.

It seems like a better idea would be to give the money to the farmers and help them move into growing a different crop that they can sell and make a profit. Kind of makes me wonder why no one has thought of it before. Well lo and behold, someone has. The Economist Article mentions the Rainforest Alliance. They are not a trade association, they do not artificially inflate prices, they simply help farmers learn to grow other crops and provide them the credit they need to do so.

Some other myths shattered by this article:
1) Organic food is not better. Organic food requires more land which takes away the rain forest. Artificial fertilizer allows more food to be grown on less land. Example; cereal production tripled but the land required for that only increased 10%.
2) Buying local produce is not better for the economy. It consumes fewer resources to transport food in bulk to the supermarket where we all go that it does to have every soccer mom and her SUV drive to the market for some things and then drive to the farmers market. Add to that the fact that local farmer is not as efficient as the big farmers and you have a truly inefficient process.

This just goes to show you, everyone needs to take at least one economics class.

Dateline: Courtyard Marriott, Capitol Hill/Navy Yard, DC

We certified graduates this morning without too much trouble. Had a few problems, most of which were just resolved when I logged in and checked my email. It is interesting that most students think they graduated last week at the ceremony, but the reality is that until earlier this week final grades were not in. Today is the day they really graduated.

I left for the airport only to find that ASA (Always Slow Airlines) was late again. Spent far too long in the airport waiting on the plane. And in the finest tradition of customer service, there wer no announcements about the problems until weel after the scheduled departure time. But then again, we didn't really need one. Flights are late so often we've come to expect it. Flight out of Atlanta was also late but only about 30 minutes.

Checked in the hotel and picked up a box of tuna salad.

NAVY 24 -- ARMY 16

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Dateline: Home Study

Or perhaps it should be Navy-Army

I had some thing s going on so I couldn’t watch all of the game but I caught parts here and there. This is always my favorite game of the year; I like it better than even the MSU-University of Mississippi game. Why? Several reasons.

One, the teams realize that this is a game and when the year ends they will be teammates in America’s military. Two, each team has discipline. Sure, they lose their tempers every now and then, but then compare that to other football games. Third, regardless of whether one, both, or neither team is any good, they always play hard. And finally, at the end of the game, both teams sign their alma maters, first in front the losing team’s students, and then in front of the wining team’s students. Now that, my friends, is sportsmanship.

I think that, with a little effort, the MUS team could do the same at the University of Mississippi game, but many of the UM fans I’ve met would not be able to. The UM fans are so bad I have sworn off ever attending another sporting event at their school. By the way, the best fans I met were from Auburn. They seem to be good winners and good losers—although lately they have not had much practice at losing.

Navy 24 – Army 16!

MILITARY BALL

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Dateline: Home Study

My wife and I attended the Army and Air Force ROTC Joint Military Ball held at the Hunter Henry Center on the campus of Mississippi State University. I was invited in my capacity as chair of the Military Affairs Committee of the Greater Starkville Area Development Partnership and there were other committee members present as well. It was a pleasure to be there and do the double duty of representing the Navy as well.

This event was, by and large, planned and executed by the cadets of the Army and Air Force ROTC programs. They did a great job and are truly leaders. There were simply too many things to be done for this event to have come together without that leadership.

There was a reception line entering the room and I happened to be in line behind Becky Wiles of the Oktibbeha County Red Cross, a table-mate for the night, who took this picture of General Foglesong and me as I was entering.

R%20Green%20and%20General%20Robert%20H.%20Foglesong%20Military%20Ball%202%20Dec%202006.jpg


Of course the teaching of that leadership was done by my friends Lt. Col. Terry Dickensheet of the AFROTC, and LTC Marcus Majure of the Army ROTC.

The keynote speaker for the event was the President of Mississippi State University, General Robert H. “Doc” Foglesong. General Foglesong gave an interesting and motivating speech on character and leadership. I have had the privilege of hearing speak on that topic in several other venues, but it was a little different tonight. By speaking to an audience of like-minded people, people in uniform, he was able to make some points that are difficult to make with more general audiences.

Unfortunately, I had been up late for many nights working on a paper so my wife and I did not stay for the dancing that followed. Perhaps next year.

Now all that remains is – Go Navy! Beat Army!

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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