Anti-gay policy is “unsustainable”

Robert M. Gates, the President of the Boy Scouts of America said it at the National Annual Meeting on Thursday: the ban on gay adult Scout leaders is “unsustainable”. (If you want to watch the membership policy part of his speech, skip ahead to 8:41.)

In the last post on here, I explained that I’ve been managing the Facebook page for Twin Cities Scout Shops. I’ve been responsible for almost all of the content there, so after reading about this yesterday, I was planning to go in to work and ask Sally, the store manager, if I should post a link to a website on the page. Make it objective and informative, don’t try to put any spin on it, just “Here’s what happened.” Then I checked my email.

One of the first messages had the subject heading, Note to cease social media activities immediately. “Hmmm, this might be relevant to what I was going to ask Sally…”

BSA social media channel managers,

As a result of today’s announcement from Dr. Gates, please cease all activity on your social media channels immediately and for the next 24 hours (instruct any of your other page admins to cease activity, as well). Do not post additional content during this time. Please reschedule or delete any content that you have pre-scheduled for delivery over your channels during this time.

Given my rebellious nature, I posted something on Facebook anyway. Sure, it may have just been “We’re closed on Monday because of Memorial Day, have a great weekend”, but it was still rebellious, dammit!

But the fact that I wasn’t allowed to write about it at all on my work Facebook page means I feel free to address it as much as I’d like on my blog. I don’t plan on being overly abusive or stomping on anyone’s toes too hard, so please don’t fire me, Boy Scouts! I still love you!

And that’s been part of my issue the last few years. I was happy when the BSA decided to lift their ban on gay Scouts. I think it’s a good organization that can have a strong, positive impact on kids for their entire lives. It was disappointing that they didn’t include gay leaders in their decision, but I was happy with any kind of progress.

Meanwhile, some people were returning their Eagle certificates, swearing they’d never wear their Scout shirts again, decrying the organization for making such a poor decision. No one ever said anything to my face, but I still felt it personally. I’ve been a part of Scouting for most of my life: I started as a Wolf Scout when I was 8, went all the way through Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, then became an Assistant Scoutmaster when I turned 18. I’ve maintained that position for the last twenty years, so it’s been an important part of my life for decades now.

No, I wasn’t happy about the ban against gay leaders—I know plenty of gay men and women who would be good leaders and excellent role models for kids—but that didn’t mean I was going to cast all those years of Scouting off to the side.

Suppose someone is a staunch Republican, holds that title with pride, votes a straight-party ticket every election, etc. But that person’s beliefs might not align completely with the party’s. Maybe he thinks that there should be limits to gun rights or women should have more rights over their bodies or whatever. Does that single issue make the person not a Republican? No. Similarly, I don’t agree with the ban against gay leaders, but that doesn’t change the fact that I think the BSA is a positive organization that does a lot of good and I’m not going to abandon it. Now there’s a possibility that it might not be an issue for very long.

The biggest concern right now might not be the members; it might be religious institutions. Scout troops and Cub packs have chartering partners, many of which are churches in various areas. Those churches may object to gay leaders. If they decide to decry the Boy Scouts, those troops and packs could fold. To them, I would ask to apply the same analogy as above. You may not like a policy change, but liking it and accepting it can be two different things. Ban gay leaders in your own troops? Fair enough, but that doesn’t mean it should be an organizational standard.

So I’ll be following this issue carefully. I’m hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, which is… who knows? I’m hoping that the Boy Scouts will step up, choose their own fate and make it a good choice. Make it the right choice. If they don’t… I still love you, don’t fire me!

Twin Cities Scout Shops on Facebook

About a month ago, the territory manager for the Scout shops was having a phone conference with the store managers and revealed that she wanted a Facebook page. There are a couple locations around the Twin Cities area, so instead of separate pages for “Burnsville Scout Shop” (where I work), “St. Paul Scout Shop”, etc., we should have an all-encompassing one.

Enter me, our local social media guru. It’s totally not true, but I helped someone else make a “Dear Wayward Student” Facebook page a while back, so I had some idea of what I was doing. I also had some fun making the first page, finding images to use for the profile pic and cover photo and what not, so why not volunteer my services?

I did a little research the next night, sent Sally (my manager) an email about what I found, which she passed along to Marlene, the territory manager. When I got the green light, it was time to go to work.

The biggest decision I had to make was the web address. “Twincitiesscoutshops” takes a long time to type and it just looks awkward, so I decided to use instead. That still makes sense for “Twin Cities Scout Shops”, right? (If it doesn’t, it’s kind of a moot point since the page has been online for a couple weeks now.)

I gathered some pictures to use, wrote the description (I thought up the short one; the long version is mostly just hours and addresses for each location)… I did everything but activate the page because I wanted Marlene to do it. She’s ultimately responsible for what we do, so it was her last chance to pull the plug. A couple hours later, we were live.

And that’s where things have become a little more frustrating. Like I said, I’m our territory’s “social media guru”. (My nose grows a little longer every time I type that…) I want the page to do well. It’s my baby. My plan was to make Marlene and all of the store managers administrators of the page. They’d be able to post as “Twin Cities Scout Shops” versus their personal accounts and they could provide content from each of their stores. For example, the first non-profile, non-cover photo on the page is a selfie of the Burnsville Scout Shop staff and I thought we could get three more pictures just like that one.

The only requirement? Being friends with me on Facebook. That’s why Sally and Marlene became my Facebook friends. I can’t make someone an admin of the page if we’re not connected. Simple, right? Right?!

Apparently not. Well, either it’s not that simple or the other store managers don’t give a shit about the page because I haven’t received friend requests from any of them yet. I’ve tried to contact them on Facebook, but nothing. At the time I’m writing this, Sally, Marlene and I are the only ones who have administrative access to the page.

Jump ahead a few weeks to another phone conference. Marlene wanted each store manager to come up with an idea of how to increase sales for April and someone piped up that we should utilize the Facebook page. Not Sally; someone else. Did I mention that Sally, Marlene and I are the only ones who have administrative access to the page? We’re the only ones who can use the page. At all. And someone else had the balls to suggest using it more effectively.

Aside from that affront, though, that’s what Sally and I have been doing. A majority of it has been my own work—comes with the territory of being a social media guru (I better not write that too many more times or my glasses might slide off my face)—but Sally has been providing me with content. Without the pictures and emails she sends, I wouldn’t have much to post, so I don’t want to discount her help.

That’s what I’ve been working on the last couple weeks during while there haven’t been customers in the shop: “Like us on Facebook!” I made a sheet to put next to the register with a QR code that links to the Facebook page, a couple smaller flyers we can use when setting up a trading post off-site… I’m having fun doing research, posting useful/relevant/amusing content, it keeps me productive… I’m enjoying it.

Meanwhile, the page likes have slowly been creeping upward. I think it’s at 60 now, which means more people know about it, but there’s a distinct possibility that not all of the other store managers are among that number. Which also means there’s a distinct possibility that the person who said “utilize the Facebook page” has not engaged with it at all. Yeah, I probably sound a little bitter, but it’s my baby.

Maybe it’s because I’m not an actual parent, but I haven’t shown off any “baby pictures” to all of my Facebook friends yet. Hell, I don’t think I’ve advertised it at all, which probably makes me a bit of a hypocrite. People have to know the Facebook page exists if I want them to click the “Like” button. Thusly and therefore, here’s that link to the Twin Cities Scout Shops page again. Like and Share and come visit the shops in person! Who knows, maybe you’ll see me sitting in front of the computer working on yet another flyer.

Heckler: The Documentary

A couple days ago, I was surfing through YouTube looking for clips of Maria Bamford doing standup. Go ahead, judge me if you want, but it eventually led me to a documentary posted in six parts called “Heckler”. It was co-produced by and stars Jamie Kennedy and I think it creates a really interesting narrative. Some people (including a bunch who wrote comments on YouTube) think he made it because he’s a big whiner, but the whole thing is pieced together with parts of interviews from a couple dozen comedians, actors, directors, critics, etc., so it’s way beyond one person saying, “Boo hoo, people are mean.”

In retrospect, it seems I’ve played both roles: the person being criticized (e.g., being on the first season of Beauty and the Geek) and the critic (e.g., writing about later seasons of Beauty and the Geek). I hadn’t thought much about it before, so it’s led me to a level of introspection that some people in the documentary probably wouldn’t waste their time on. (Incidentally, those people can suck it.)

I thought I could write down some of those insights down on paper… computer screen… which combined with watching the videos might lead to some revelations of your own. (Two people posted it in six parts; I decided to link to the account that put clean breaks between the parts as opposed to switching in the middle of sentences. However, this one cut out the final credits that the other left in, which includes a few more interview clips and Danny Trejo telling any critics watching, “I know where you live.”)

I’ll write more later, but if this has piqued your interest at all, watching the video below is the place to start.

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Christmas is getting longer

You’ve probably noticed that Christmas continues to get longer year after year. There used to be 25 days starting on December 1st. In 2014, it swallowed up my birthday — October 19th — with Christmas decorations and holiday music already in stores.

It doesn’t just start early, either. Now it sticks around for part of January as well. I didn’t really notice until this year that car companies’ “holiday sales” stretch into the middle of the month. Mid-October through mid-January. Four months of Christmas and growing. (Some people say there’s a war against Christmas, but if that’s the case, Christmas is kicking their asses.)

And just in case that’s not bad enough, I went to get a haircut yesterday, February 24th. They have a fridge in the back of the salon with pop, so I went to grab a Coke before I left. What did I see on the can?

A picture of Santa.

I love myself, diabetes be damned!

I went to the pharmacy today to pick up some medications. Since it’s in a grocery store, I opted to cruise the Valentine’s Day aisle to look at heart-shaped boxes of candy that were priced at 50% off. Not having a Valentine has its benefits: I can buy discounted chocolate to show me how much I love myself that I don’t have to share.

I went up to the counter, the pharmacist went to grab my meds, then she pulled out a sheet of paper next to the register. The heading was Eating Healthy with Diabetes and she explained that if I got enough “points” on the risk factor list (age, weight, physical activity, etc.), I could get a free screening for Type 2 diabetes and, well, I didn’t follow all of what she was saying. I was too busy looking down at the counter at four boxes of discounted chocolate that showed me how much I love myself that I didn’t have to share.

Asleep With My Eyes Open

I spent some time tonight searching through boxes of old stuff and opened one up that had a bunch of my old yearbooks from grades 1-10. I know, it’s hard to believe, but I was once young enough to be in first grade. In the middle of that pile, I’d also saved an old school literary magazine called Flash from Spring of 1992.

I’ve seen people post old pictures of themselves on Facebook with the hashtag #tbt for “Throwback Thursday”. While this is a couple hours late and not a picture, it’s a poem I wrote back in 9th grade. (As you can tell, my literary skills have improved immensely… or maybe not.)

Asleep With My Eyes Open

A ragged old man walks down the street.
His thunderous stomach wants something to eat.
Suddenly, he collapses upon my feet.
But I don’t notice
For I am asleep with my eyes open.

A skimpy-dressed woman is offering fun.
She suddenly jumps up, and then starts to run.
BANG! Another person picked off by a gun.
But I don’t notice
For I am asleep with my eyes open.

A man runs into me, skin of black.
As I get up, I hear a crack.
As I walk off, police club the man’s back.
But I don’t notice
For I am asleep with my eyes open.

Why is it that I’m so free?
That oppression can escape me?
I simply do not choose to see.
That’s why I don’t notice.
That’s why I’m asleep with my eyes open.

— Shawn C. Bakken