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Thunderstorms and Fireworks

Daniel kaj PennyDaniel's birthday isn't until the week after next, but tomorrow he and Charlie are going to travel to spend a week with grandparents before joining us at the beach in North Carolina for our annual family reunion. He had asked for a digital camera this year, so yesterday Lucy and I went to the store to pick one out for him, so he could have it to take with him for his big adventure. He was very happy and so we took a walk down to the field so he could try it out.

I picked out a Fuji camera that was at the low end. I've been happy with my Canon camera -- when they work. But of the three I've gotten in the past three years, all of them have required service. That's simply unacceptable. It was a close choice between this camera and a similar Nikon -- the Nikon camera probably was slightly better, but I wanted a camera that used SD media and used a standard USB cable. It really infuriates me to have the camera manufacturers all using different cables and I'm happy to punish them for not standardizing on one.

I made a point of enjoying my last day of vacation before going back to work tomorrow. We went out to see the new Nancy Drew movie. It was OK, but was a kind of younger and lamer "Legally Blonde" -- not really worth a trip to the theater, in my opinion. But I spent a fair amount of the day reading.

I found an excellent book the describes the challenges of university governance. There are four or five constituencies that university government needs to satisfy: the public, the government, business, and the faculty both from an academic and from a union standpoint. Each has a different take on what higher education is supposed to be and has competing interests on how it should be organized. The book has chapters written by different authors that each have a slightly different take on current trends and how higher education should best be organized: there are a lot of differences, but some common themes. I haven't quite finished the book yet, but so far I'm left with one question. Several of the authors cite the need for the organization to be more agile in order to react more quickly to opportunities or changing circumstances and use this as an argument for a less democratic approach to executive decision-making. But I haven't seen any evidence that less democratic systems actually are more agile or that increased "agility" produces any tangible results in the long term.