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Sunday, August 25, 2002
I'm back. For those faithful few who read this space, I apologize for my unexplained absence for the last few days. Unlike some other bloggers, I didn't think that announcing my impending absence to the world would be a particularly good idea. So I just shut my mouth and left.

I spent few days bringing my older child to college. Now there is something that can make you feel old.

My wife, my daughter and I packed up the (somewhat less than wholly trustworthy) Subaru on Wednesday and my daughter and I left for Kentucky, with a layover in Charleston, W. Va. I flew back yesterday (on which more later).

Long trip. Lots of good conversation. Good advice given. Some of that was actually received. (I can never tell if she is taking my wise words to heart when the response is "I know, I know.") When your daughter is 18, you don't get to play the role of father very often. When I get the chance, I play it to the hilt.

And starting college hasn't changed that much in the 30 years since I did it. The biggest difference is to be found at the bookstore. When I went to school, getting your books was a free for all. You fought your way to the shelf and, upon discovering that the text you needed was not there, you grabbed the Calc text from the greedy paws of some undeserving classmate and disappeared into the crowd with your prize. Use of firearms was officially frowned upon, but optional.

UKy has a much more civilized and efficient system: After registering for classes over the summer, you tell the bookstore what classes you have. They assemble the books and have them waiting for you when you arrive in the fall. No fuss, no muss. After unloading the car and moving into the dorm, we wandered over to the bookstore and picked up the books. It took five minutes, four of which were spent figuring out that there was not enough money in the on campus debit account to pay for same and writing out a check.

There are other differences. For example, in the 70's I did not spend a half day running around looking for a barn to house the bribe I had received upon gaining admission to college. We saw two barns: One was expensive, available, and unnacceptable to the daughter, the other was expensive, more than acceptable to the daughter and currently unavailable. To be fair, the acceptable one was less expensive than the unacceptable one (though not enough less expensive in my opinion). Result of search: The bribe stays where it is (an hour and a half from campus) for now, and the search continues with help from the people with the good barn (and they were very nice people, despite their very real and very lofty position in the world of dressage). If anyone out there knows of a dressage barn within a relatively short drive of the UKy Lexington campus with full board, I'd appreciate a holler.

The flight back: Lucky me, I was randomly selected for the full security treatment. The guy doing the search inquired about what I thought of the process. I told him I thought it was both intrusive and useless to inspect the shoes and carry on luggage of a middle aged, overweight lawyer from New Jersey while ignoring the very real demographic data we have concerning hijackers/terrorists. I was surprised that he agreed completely. He seemed to chafe at the inability to "profile" in order to reduce the intrusions and make what intrusions are necessary more effective (ie: use what data we have accumulated to narrow the scope of the search). I mentioned that I had read that the screening process still seemed to miss the vast majority of all prohibited items. That one, he very politely disputed. He said that his airport had one of the worst records in the country for missing such things because the FAA intentionally tested people with only a few days experience on the job. Well, I can see his point, but I can also see the FAA's. Security is only as strong as its weakest point, so you test the weak points. Additionally, I would venture to guess that there will be a lot of turnover in this job, so having inexperienced people on the line will be a continuous problem.

So, I avoided detention without trial and arrived back in New Jersey feeling crotchety because my daughter is old enough to attend college. I spent the evening catching up on my reading (both professional and blogging). And now I have to go to a meeting. Yeah, a meeting on Sunday. Lawyers are always surprising you, aren't they?
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