Wood Badge

This weekend I attended the first session of Wood Badge, a training program for adult Boy Scout leaders that is known as the Ph.D. of Scouting. The training was held at Camp Wisdom, just right outside of Dallas, TX.

Camp Wisdom used to be Circle 10 Council’s main camp. Now that Circle 10 has Camp Constantin, Camp James Ray, and Camp Cherokee, Wisdom is used mainly for weekend trips and training.

Interestingly, Camp Wisdom sits on several parcels. All are owned by Circle Ten Council except for two: one owned by the Circle Ten Council Boy Scout Foundation and one owned by the Boy Scouts of America national office in Irving, TX.

Camp Wisdom’s southern and western edges are bounded by Interstate 20 and Spur 408, respectively. I-20 is a 9 lane freeway, and Spur 408 is a limited access 6 lane connector road. Unfortunately, both of these roads create a constant drone in the camp. If you’re outside, it’s difficult to hear anyone talking who is more than 30 feet away. This is a relatively recent development in Camp Wisdom’s history. Dallas-area planning maps show that I-20 was under construction in 1971.

Anyway, back to Wood Badge. This weekend I learned about effective team leading techniques, with an emphasis on how to create self-running, self-managing teams. That is in fact the crux of Boy Scouting: a properly-run troop should be mostly boy-led and boy-run, with adults providing minimal supervision and handling things that the boys can’t or shouldn’t do (mostly financial or legal matters and certain supervision).

The Wood Badge is organized like an actual troop. The participants are in patrols, and the course leaders operate in traditional troop-level youth and adult positions: Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant SPL, Scoutmaster, Assistant SM, Troop Guides, etc.

On a future weekend I will attend the second Wood Badge session. That weekend will be a hiking camping trip. Each patrol has to backpack in almost all supplies for the trip. It will be interesting. The last time I have done a backpack trip was when I did a 6 day Mountain Man hike at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.

After I complete both Wood Badge weekends, I will still have to complete a “ticket.” This is five major items I have to do within 18 months. They include items of personal growth and service to others. Once I complete these 5 items, I will be officially presented with my Wood Badge beads.

The biggest surprise about Wood Badge is how similar it is to the Sam Houston Area Council’s Junior Leader Training Conference (JLTC), which I did in July 1990. That conference literally had almost all the same components as Wood Badge except that it was directed towards youth leaders, and it did not involve a ticket.

More on new car buying

I reran the numbers on Buying a new car is a poor financial decision assuming 250,000 usable miles. The numbers more dramatically favor used cars:

Year Current Miles Value (NADA) Depreciation from new Percent of miles “used up” Relative cost per mile of remaining miles

(250000 – current miles)

2004 0 (still on dealer’s lot) $23,850 0% 0% 43% higher than 2000
2003 15000 $20,300 15% 6% 30% higher than 2000
2002 30000 $16,925 29% 12% 15% higher than 2000
2001 45000 $14,875 38% 18% 9% higher than 2000
2000 60000 $12,650 47% 24% baseline

Buying a new car is a poor financial decision

Today I thought more about my views of car buying. I came up with the following as a response to someone who suggested that if you’re going to hold on to a car for 10 years, it’s smartest to buy new. In fact, it’s probably smartest to buy used regardless of your time horizon.

According to http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/auto/20011226a.asp, a typical new car loses 15%-20% of its value each year in the first three years.

Honda AccordLet’s take the case of a Honda Accord LX V6. Based on friends’ experiences and Consumer Reports reliability ratings going back to 1996, I think it’s reasonable to say that this car will go at least 180,000 miles before requiring costly repairs or becoming unacceptably unreliable.

This chart is based on if you purchased the following cars right now:

Year Current Miles Value (NADA) Depreciation from new Percent of miles “used up” Relative cost per mile of remaining miles

(180000 – current miles)

2004 0 (still on dealer’s lot) $23,850 0% 0% 27% higher than 2000
2003 15000 $20,300 15% 8% 17% higher than 2000
2002 30000 $16,925 29% 17% 8% higher than 2000
2001 45000 $14,875 38% 25% 5% higher than 2000
2000 60000 $12,650 47% 33% baseline

It should be noted that Accords are in demand, limiting your ability to negotiate, and don’t depreciate as badly as many other cars.

Notice how much higher you pay per useful mile for the new car than for the 4-year-old car.

Look at this differently: suppose I had $23,800 sitting around. What is the smartest investment: $23,800 all sunk into a car, or $12,650 sunk into a car and investing the remaining $11,000 in something like a child’s college fund, your own retirement, or a charity? Or if I didn’t have the cash laying around, why double my debt just for the new car smell? What does it say about one’s values when he maximizes his deprecation losses (and debt?) at the expense of better choices?

See http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/Savinganddebt/Saveonacar/P37267.asp another perspective.

Cars are depreciating assets, a liability. It makes sense to reduce exposure to losses by not buying new.

Played dodgeball for first time in 15 years

Today I played dodgeball for the first time in 15 years. (The last time was at Groves Middle School.)

I played in a tournament at my church. Six teams entered: four teams were mostly teenage boys, one was the church’s media department, and one was my Sunday school class (mostly in their 30s).

The tournament started with double elimination: each team played twice, and teams that didn’t lose both games got into the finals brackets.

My team was the only non-youthful team to make it to the finals!

In the finals, we quickly spanked a first youthful team in the first round. We waited through two more rounds, then we played the very last round for the trophy.

A brief note: up until this point I just played defense. All I did was stay away from balls and hand balls to teammates who were better throws than me.

The last round progressed normally. Both teams slowly picked each other off. We got down to 3 on our side and 2 on the other side.

All of a sudden balls flew and it was a 1 on 1 game, and I was one of them! Suddenly I was on offense! The opponent chunked three balls in succession, and I barely missed each of them. Then I managed to get two balls. I threw one high (unintentionally), distracting the opponent, and shortly nailed him on the legs.

I threw the winning ball! Today was my the best dodgeball performance ever!

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid!!

For the past two days I have been banging my head against the wall with an ASP.NET problem.

I created a custom WebControl composite class, meaning that it contains other WebControls.

I overrode its render method and used the provided HtmlTextWriter to spit out the code specific to my WebControl and the HTML code of the child WebControls which, by the way, were dynamically created in my WebControl’s Init event handler.

Anyway, what confounded the heck out of me is that if I would push a button on the ASPX page, thereby triggering a PostBack event, the ASPX page forgot all of its dynamically created controls. In other words, a richly populated page became a blank page just by me hitting the submit button!

After a lot of research on this problem, I stumbled across an article at http://scottonwriting.net/sowblog/posts/2129.aspx that didn’t directly provide the answer but proverbially slapped me across the forehead and jumbled the facts into place. I needed to add these child controls to my parent control’s Controls collection! Stupid, stupid, stupid!

I removed my custom render method and added the controls to the Controls collection, and it works like a charm. View state is preserved!