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University Reorganization

We returned this morning from our week-long vacation at the beach. Again, we decided to drive straight through -- it took us about 18 hours. I'm getting too old for these marathon road trips. At the same time, it makes the most sense to go through megalopolis around midnight -- it just seems dumb to spend the night at a hotel only to have to face rush hour traffic around New York. And by the time we've gotten past New York, its just a couple of hours home anyway. We took several one-hour breaks to stop for food and to walk around. Alisa drove for a few hours in the middle, but I did the lion's share of the driving -- if I'm going to have to be in the car anyway, I'd just as soon be driving. When we got home, I walked straight up to my bedroom, turned on the air conditioning, and crashed.

It was a good vacation. Vacations are really different now that the children are more self-sufficient. I spent a lot of time on the balcony overlooking the beach. We had great weather for most of the week -- the last few days were becalmed, hot and steamy, but earlier, it was perfect with strong gusty winds and mild temperatures. It was simply wonderful.

We did all the usual beach stuff: we hung out in the waves and the pool. Some of us got sun burned (not me, though). We went to Fort Macon and the Sanitary Fish Market. We watched Ratatouille during the hottest afternoon. Charlie and I spent too much time working on Muppyville. Charlie has a lot of good ideas for extending it and is on his way to becoming a competent programmer.

Alisa and Charlie got caught in a rip current late one afternoon. Charlie, a very strong swimmer, was able to get back and got two men to swim out and help Alisa get back in. Thank goodness she made it back OK. The ocean is pitiless.

During my absence, I learned that Lombardi has secured a new position as the president of the Louisiana State University system. Some are claiming that the recent events here were orchestrated, by him or others, to bolster his case. Having seen the efforts made to ease an incompetent principal out (and up), you can't completely discount statements like that, but it doesn't seem likely to me.

In the past four or five years, I've come to appreciate the attraction of moving on to someplace new. When I arrived here, I had a wonderful experience making a difference in a thousand ways that no-one had realized would even be possible. Eventually, though, I've found that I fetch up against insurmountable problems trying to extend beyond a certain point: personalities, limited resources, and other obstacles, preclude going any further. I understand the attraction of going somewhere else and having that heady rush of being able to "make a difference". At the same time, I understand that I'm actually still making a huge difference where I am. I think it's an illusion that progress seems slower now, because it doesn't account for how much backsliding would happen if I left. I think it's a mistake that our society has people in such flux -- relatively few people have the luxury of staying in one place over an entire career. I think it reduces people's ability to participate in local government and to act as an engaged citizen when you don't stay in one place long enough to put down roots. Still, I understand the attraction...