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April 8th, 2013:

“Plethora” of investigators

I was wondering about the status of my security clearance, so I called the Security Clearance Support Help Desk at the State Department (yes, that is a thing). I got voice mail, so I left a message, and wasn’t expecting to get a return phone call, because, you know, it’s the government. Well, at 7:00 this evening, they called me back, surprise surprise!

The status is that the background investigation is still ongoing. I said that the investigator who interviewed me (for seven hours) had submitted his report. Yes, was the answer, but there is a “plethora of investigators on your case” (direct quote).

His use of the word “plethora” struck me as unusual. Why would he use that word? How many more than “several” is a plethora? Now I am in paranoia mode. I am imagining a dimly-lit, smoky back room crowded with overweight, middle-aged men pouring over my past tax returns, blog posts, love letters, airplane tickets, and hotel receipts, looking for evidence of unpatriotic or suspicious behavior. “A-ha!” one yells triumphantly, waving a receipt from a scooter rental agency in Victoria, British Columbia. “He didn’t rent a helmet! Communist!”

Hiking in Hocking Hills, Ohio

Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio is a geologically unique environment. Sandstone formations were eroded by ground water to produce interesting rock formations and caves. We spent a few days hiking the trails in the park. It was in early April, so the spring foliage wasn’t out yet, but the scenery was still beautiful.

20130408-110219.jpg Old Man’s Cave is a huge natural amphitheater with a stream and small waterfall at the foot.

20130408-110329.jpg A stone bridge begins the trail from Old Man’s Cave to Cedar Falls.

The trail is a little rough. Wear good hiking boots if you want to take the trails.

We lost count of the number of waterfalls that we saw.


20130408-111034.jpg I was surprised that it was possible to sit on the edge of a 100-foot cliff in the park. Most public parks have guardrails to prevent you from being stupid like this.

Small boot malfunction.

You need strong legs and knees if you want to see everything in the park – there’s lots of climbing!

We hiked about 14 miles in one day (Stacy thinks it’s closer to 17). The Grandma Gatewood trail is officially 12 miles long, but we got lost at one point and walked about an hour to get back on the trail. The weather was perfect for hiking: sunny and cool (upper 50s). By the end of the day, we were tired and a little sore, but blister-free!

If you’re into nature, geology and hiking, add Hocking Hills State park to your list. It was worth the five-hour drive to get there.

Sunrise April 8, 2013

7:20 am