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Thursday, May 18th, 2006
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What's New?

Congratulations to Eagle Scouts!

We did a bunch of stuff this weekend, including seeing Alison's mom perform on-stage (she had a major role in an outstanding production of "To Kill a Mockingbird") and dining with a dozen Looneys in honor of the Looney Family Matriarch at a fancy Inn called King's Contrivance (the same place where the reception dinner was held after Kristin & I got married). The latter was particularly fun because Rash flew in from California for the occasion!

Another event I managed to squeeze into last weekend's schedule was attending James Durfor's Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony. Alert readers will remember that James was the lad who helped me inventory our massive library of books last summer, so it was fun for me to see him receive this important honor.

Moreover, the occasion gave me a deadline for getting something done that I've been needing to do since early February.

You see, a few months ago I started getting letters, from Boy Scout Leaders with titles like "Troop Eagle Coordinator," informing me of their latest Eagles and asking me to send along a letter of congratulations. They just started showing up, out of the blue. I've gotten 5 so far, arriving from locations such as Texas, Georgia, and New Jersey, and I'm sure this marks the beginning of a trend.

It's quite a common thing, you see, writing to VIPs and asking them to send a letter of congratulations to a new Eagle Scout. Here in my files I have a couple of letters I myself was presented with in 1981, when I became an Eagle Scout. Both are on official letterhead from the United States Congress, one being from our district's Representative and the other from our Senator.

Hey! Wow. Those same two guys are the same ones we have in those offices now, 25 years later! Paul Sarbanes is still our Senator, and it was at Congressmen Hoyer's office that we rallied in support of Medical Marijuana on June 10, 2004, after which he changed his stance and supported the Hinchey-Rohrbacher amendment! But I digress.

As soon as I started receiving these letters I knew I needed to put together some sort of standardized reply, which I could generate whenever I get a request like this, much as I'm sure my Congressmen's' staffers used, oh so long ago, when these letters were sent out to me.

Unfortunately, I had no appropriate letterhead available, and since several of the letters I'd received had actually been addressed to my Imperial Alter-Ego, I needed to develop something rather special by way of response.

Anyway, it took a few months to find the time & inspiration necessary to come up with a good letterhead design for this occasion. But here's what I finally came up with (click for enlargement).

I got the first of these letters written just in time to present it to James at the reception following his ceremony. As for the other 5, who'll be getting their letters late, I'm sorry for the delay. But from now on I will Be Prepared, and should be able to respond to a request like this with a nice letter that will hopefully arrive in time for it to be presented and read aloud, with the other such letters that come in, at their own official ceremonies. (Plus this letterhead may be useful to me for other correspondences...)

I didn't take any photos this weekend, so the picture at the top this week is of me at my own Court of Honor ceremony, on November 7th, 1981. (I've always been driven by deadlines, and often achieve them only at the last minute. For example, when I finished up my requirements for Eagle, I cut things so close to the deadline that my Court of Honor was actually held 2 days after my 18th birthday.)

Congratulations once again to James Durfor, and to Robert Smith, Ross Anderson, Steven Casazza, Joseph Catanzano, and Daniel Fallon, and to any and all other Eagle Scouts out there. Well done, guys!

AndyThanks for reading and stuff!

Thought Residue
Yay for the Hippies! BJ & Tyler, nicknamed the Hippies, narrowly beat the Frat Boys to become the winners of a million bucks on this season's finale of the Amazing Race! It was a particularly thrilling race for Hippie-watchers, because not once but twice they came in last but weren't eliminated from the race because it was a non-elimination round. Well done Hippies! Congrats! (And if you feel like investing some of your winnings in a Hippie Game Company, give us a call.)

"If cannabis were unknown, and bioprospectors were suddenly to find it in some remote mountain crevice, its discovery would no doubt be hailed as a medical breakthrough. Scientists would praise its potential for treating everything from pain to cancer, and marvel at its rich pharmacopoeia-many of whose chemicals mimic vital molecules in the human body. In reality, cannabis has been with humanity for thousands of years and is considered by many governments (notably America's) to be a dangerous drug without utility. Any suggestion that the plant might be medically useful is politically controversial, whatever the science says. It is in this context that, on April 20th, America's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement saying that smoked marijuana has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. The statement is curious in a number of ways." -- The Economist, "Reefer Madness: Marijuana is medically useful, whether politicians like it or not"
"A collapsing economy is especially hard on those who are accustomed to prompt, courteous service. In the Soviet Union, most official service was rude and slow, and involved standing in long lines. Many of the products that were in short supply could not be obtained even in this manner, and required something called blat: special, unofficial access or favor. The exchange of personal favors was far more important to the actual functioning of the economy than the exchange of money. To Russians, blat is almost a sacred thing: a vital part of culture that holds society together. It is also the only part of the economy that is collapse-proof, and, as such, a valuable cultural adaptation." -- Dmitry Orlov, seen quoted in a Speech by Michael C. Ruppert called "The Paradigm Is The Enemy: The State of the Peak Oil Movement at the Cusp of Collapse"

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