You Know You Might Be A Scoutmaster If …

I’m scoring well below 50% on this test, but I do have several hits. Here they are:

  • You hoard tent stakes.
  • You cannot walk by a piece of trash without picking it up. (ever since I was a Scout …)
  • You carry a duffle bag size first-aid kit in your car. (meatloaf size, really)
  • You know all the words to “Little Bunny Foo-Foo”, but can’t remember where you left your briefcase. (I know where my briefcase is, but I misplace plenty of stuff)
  • You always cook enough food for twelve. (but this comes from growing up around Cajuns; if you are cooking something good, why wouldn’t you invite all your friends? Adults don’t cook for Scouts anyway, so this is a bogus one.)
  • You open letters with a pocket knife. (only when the sterling letter opener isn’t handy; I was raised in the south)
  • You know 365 one pot meals. (maybe only 30 or so)
  • You really do use those emergency sewing kits. (but they never have buttonhole twist, and sewing buttons back on is #1)

On a more serious note, I finally found the job description for Scoutmaster. It isn’t in the BSA Scoutmaster Handbook (a real Dilbert Moment); it’s in the Troop Committee training materials. It isn’t even in The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook. For the uninitiated, the Troop Committee hires the Scoutmaster. The Dilbertness is for the hiring manager to know the job description and never tell the new hire. Geez. Hello Bob Mazzuca, put this on page one of the Scoutmaster Handbook.

So, here is the job description. I’ve tweaked it for our troop, changing Patrol Leaders Council (PLC) to “Greenbar” and adding notes about Scoutmaster conferences.

Scoutmaster (excerpted from BSA Troop Committee Guidebook, 1990):

  • Train and guide boy leaders
  • Work with other responsible adults to bring Scouting to boys
  • Use the methods of Scouting to achieve the aims of Scouting
  • Meet regularly with Greenbar for training and coordination in planning troop activities
  • Attend all troop meetings or, when necessary, arrange for a qualified adult substitute
  • Attend all troop committee meetings
  • Conduct periodic parents’ sessions to share the program and encourage parent participation and cooperation
  • Take part in annual membership inventory and uniform inspection, charter review meeting, and charter presentation
  • Conduct Scoutmaster conferences for all rank advancements (in T-14, for Scout, First Class, and Eagle ranks, others are by patrol liaison ASMs)
  • Provide a systematic recruiting plan for new members and see that they are promptly registered
  • Delegate responsibility to other adults and groups (assistants, troop committee) so that they have a real part in troop operations
  • Supervise troop elections for the Order of the Arrow
  • Make it possible for each Scout to experience at least 10 days and nights of camping each year
  • Participate in council and district events
  • Build a strong program by using proven methods presented in Scouting literature
  • Conduct all activities under qualified leadership, safe conditions, and the policies of the chartered organization and the BSA

Kinda big for a volunteer, spare time position, eh? The only saving bit is that you are required to delegate.

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Odd Cataloging Decisions at Palo Alto Library

I really wonder about the cataloging at my local library. I was looking for books by Jo Walton and I noticed that a series by her was spread across two areas, both arguably wrong. First, Ha’penny is a sequel to Farthing, so they really should be shelved in the same section. Second, they are both alternate history novels from a fantasy author, and I wouldn’t look in either Mystery or Fiction for them.

Check out this screenshot from their search on July 2nd.

PA Library webcat screenshot

Big hint, Tor has been a major SF&F imprint for over 25 years.

I’m looking forward to Palo Alto’s choice for Half a Crown, the next book in the series. Maybe DDC 737 (Numismatics)?

I reported this to the reference desk at Main. Let’s hope they fix it.

The fun doesn’t stop there. I’m currently reading The Fall of the Kings. That was shelved in YA Fiction, where it doesn’t even belong. I read a fair mix of books, from Westerfeld to Dostoevsky, with plenty of YA, and this just doesn’t fit in the Teen collection. It is long (476 pages of small print), there are no teenage characters, nearly every chapter has sex and/or violence, it is quite slow moving, and it helps if you care about university politics. I read Valiant immediately before, and that book has half the word count with double the action and four times the dialogue, plus teens, fairies, drugs, NYC, and a massive betrayal by mom. Valiant belongs in the Teen section. Dreamhunter belongs there. The Fall of the Kings does not.

I thought that maybe, just maybe, they put it in YA because the most recent book in the series, The Privilege of the Sword, has a 15 year old girl as the main character and can easily be considered YA, so they decided to keep them together. Sorry, they shelved that one in Science Fiction.

I know that strictly defining Science Fiction (or Fantasy) is nearly impossible, but they must be able to avoid howlers like this. Yes, Michael Chabon has written fantasy (Summerland) and SF (The Yiddish Policemen’s Union) but it might as well be shelved in the mainstream section because that is where people will look for him. On the other hand, Jo Walton has written a sword and sorcery trilogy and a book set in Victorian England where the nobility are dragons. Where would you look? Heck, ask Jo Walton. Her answer to the FAQ “What genre is Farthing?” reads “It’s an alternate history mystery. I think that makes it SF.”

Hmm, Palo Alto also shelves The Lord of the Rings and Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series in mainstream Fiction. Bizarre. The Kushiel books are also published by Tor. Can we just shelve all the Tor in SF, as a stopgap?

Hiker Hell Blog Collects Hiking Incidents

The Hiker Hell blog collects reports of trail emergencies worldwide: lost hikers, injured hikers, and fatalities. Favorite title and story so far is Turtle Fascination Gets Hiker Lost. He even includes the maybe/maybe-not mountain lion attack in Palo Alto, both the original report and the followup, can’t-prove-it story.

Besides the sheer fascination, real examples make great stories for getting Scouts to remember trail safety practices. “Stories” is principle #6 from Made to Stick. Filter through Hiker Hell for items that meet the other principles, then start teaching.

The Merchants Are On Board

I just heard a commercial on KCBS from Shreve and Co., a San Francisco jeweler. There are three different people talking about shopping for wedding rings with their sweetie. The second voice is a woman who says, “Julie and I have been dreaming about this for years…” and the third is a man who says “Rick and I have been planning our ceremony, the reception, and, of course, looking at rings…”

To paraphrase Engine Charlie, “What’s good for jewelers is good for America.”