Jump to content



  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited


1,754 Excellent

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. We are hopefully half way through a cross country move. DW and the kids left Minneapolis on December 4 and all our stuff including some wrapped boxed Christmas presents were supposed to arrive in Seattle by December 19 at the latest. After an ugly issue with the 1st mover involving a failure to pickup and a cash settlement, we are likely to get stuff by 1/15 from another mover...The games we've recieved are: "Before There Were Stars": Which is a fabulous creation myth story telling game,,, DS11, DS13 DW, and I all love it. We've played 3 times and its fun and flexible. "Betrayal At The House On The Hill": This game involves building a haunted house by drawing cards. It is very mood building. For us it is a very divisive game. DW and DS11 really like it. DS13 and I really dislike it. I *think* the problem is that the mood building is strong while the game mechanics are weak... so how much you like it depends on your willing suspension of disbelief, The other fun discovery for us has been "Keyforge". We went to a new player event for this at a LGS before Christmas and got comp'ed a few decks and picked up a starter pack with all the other necessary bibs and bobs from another LGS today. It is a vaguely Magic like game with fixed deck instead of trading and some different play dynamics. I think it might be a good option for DW, DS11, and myself... All of whom have less of an interest in the collectible, deck building aspects of Magic than DS13.
  2. We're currently in the process of moving from Minneapolis to Seattle. We previously lived in Seattle during DW's residency from 2003-2008. Here in Minneapolis in an urban neighborhood we have neighbors with chickens. Likewise, in similar urban neighborhoods in Seattle in 2008 and today you see folks with chickens, Maybe not your current flock, but chickens could be in your future. DW is out in Seattle looking for a place to rent today through Saturday. She was eating lunch at "our" thai restaurant and the waitress said "Long time no see", DW said "Yeah its been a while", the waitress gave her the side eye and said "its been years, where are the boys...". This is the restaurant where the staff would whisk away then d3 and ds1 into the kitchen to be spoiled and they'd come back with weird Asian candies. The coffee shop folks we knew have probably turned over. The librarians may or may not still be around. The head minister at our church hasn't changed. The vendor at the farmer's market who gave us a framed picture of they DS3 holding a bunch or broccoli like a bouquet and eating it is still around. We had and have fewer contacts in Seattle than in Minneapolis but I have no doubt that in time we will have similar numbers of contacts through trail running and Scouting and neighbors and school. Perhaps not similar to a small town, bur sufficient for us. Housing for us will cost roughly 4x what we currently pay... maybe 3x current rates. How will we afford this? DW is a academic medicine sub specialist.... so her salary is high but mostly fixed. Our current mortgage is around 1k. Renting/buying in Seattle is more like 3.5-4.5K. By living modestly for ~10yrs we have a large nest egg.(that 2.5K/mnth+differential) Moving to Seattle is financial sacrifice but doable. We will be relatively house poor but in a manageable way. I've lived in Northern Virginia during the 1st dotcom boom, say 1994-2001 and Seattle from 2003=2008. Seattle feels more urban than any where in NoVa.... with all the homeless issues etc. However if you want to factor in the benefits of being by DC, DC feels like it has just way too many freaking people in the same way Chicago does. You should consider your priorities.For us we had explicit priorities of 1) Open and affirming culture; 2)Good job; 3) Bike able commute; 4) Urban amenities(parks, libraries,schools ,restaurants) .... so for us place like Seattle or Toronto were good fits.. while LA or Dallas were bad fits. Without a more specific list of priorities it is hard to be specific. A southern Tech corridor like RTP seems lie a potential fix based n the larger number of urban/suburban/exurban/rural lifestyles on offer.,
  3. This has been a weird Summer for us. Good, bad, and otherwise. Good: DS13 earned Weather, Woodcarving, and Emergency Prep merit badges at camp and his Star rank. Even better, unlike the previous 2 years, I didn't have any tedious conversations about discipline issues with the Scoutmaster at either parents' weekend or the end of camp. DS13 was just elected a patrol leader. DS11 was at his first summer camp. He earned the First Aid merit badge and Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks at camp. So he earned First Class in six months vs 2 1/2 yrs for DS13. I had expected Second Class. He'd done the fitness stuff and had enough activities but this was a surprise. Apparently my skepticism was apparent because I had 2 Scoutmasters from other troops and one previous SM from our troop, who had been on his Boards of Review tell me what a great job he'd done. So First Class at then age 10 (Both boys crossed over at 10 1/2 with Arrow of Light). Our troop runs its own Summer Camp with another troop and has had female Venture Crews for at least the last 5-10years. This year the Venture Crew alumni were all adult staff and we had a linked Scouts BSA girl troop.. Female Venture Crews had always been good, but I was surprised how much better having a patrol of more age diverse girls was. Bad: Every year at camp we run a 3 day out of camp trip the first week. This year it was a backpacking trip. The "plan" was to do patrol based trips on the Superior Hiking Trail. Planning was light and during camp they figured out that wasn't realistic for some of the younger Scouts. The Scouts ended up voting to split into non-patrol age based groups and have a backpacking group and a hiking group. Both my kids were in the younger group. DS13 was mildly disappointed. DS11 was pissed. I don't think the Scouter's realized how bad this was til after the trip. It will be fine. The older kids had a great time. There are plans for a Spring backpacking trip for all Scouts. But, this was entirely predictable and a downside of a very Scout led troop. Otherwise: Our Scoutmaster is retiring at the end of camp Summer 2020. Succession planning isn't what anyone wants. DW and I are in the half dozen folks who could step into those responsibilities. Over the Summer, we've decide to leave Minneapolis for DW to take a better job in Seattle.. The two major pieces of unfinished business here are Scouts and DW's vice-presidency of our multistate trail running group . Our current troop will be fine. We have good finances, active scouts, and an active alumni group. The next 24+ months will be bumpy but it will work out. I'm not sure who will be Scoutmaster vs Assistant, grudgingly or otherwise, but it will work out Talking about the Summer Camp issue, I told out current SM... "Look DS-then-12. has at that point done a 3 day river canoe trip, a 4 day Boundary Waters trip, a 100 mile bike trip, and 60 nights of camping(50 in tents)". That is pretty impressive... as a Scout led troop the things that annoy me and the things I like are very linked. Going forward, finding troops in Seattle is slightly complicated. We are looking for very liberal troops who also have a very aggressive outdoors program. Many troops look shockingly expensive from a midwestern perspective. DS13 will be fine... If we can't find a good troop we'll slot him into Sea Scouts or Venturing. DS11 is more complicated... we need an active troop who lets younger kids do HA stuff. I can't see him tolerating a highly structured council camp after our free form summer camp... likewise this high adventure as a reward for older Scouts seems unlikely to fly. We'll see... He wants to come back to MN for Summer Camp and we have a couple alumni Scouts from WY who do that every year... So we'll see...
  4. My standards for a good fundraiser, are that it needs to raise 10-15$/hr per person and it shouldn't be a complete ripoff for supporters. So BSA popcorn is out. I think lucrative and community engagement are different goals. Our troop completely funds dues and camping trips and whatever portion of camp the scouts can cover. Our standard fundraisers are a pancake breakfast and spaghetti dinner that go 100% to the troop. They have a decent community engagement element since we have the photo boards going back to the '20s but really only engage the church and alumni. We also have wreath sales, which are 50% profit and are higher quality than the big box stores. For those 100% of church sales go to the troop and door to door sales profits go mostly to the scouts for camp. Its a pain but I think doing door to door sales and delivery has been good for both of my kids. Our troop gets wreaths from a local distributor but our church's troop(we have separate church and troop for historical reasons) cuts their own boughs and makes their own wreaths with both more work/profit. For high adventure trips the most lucrative things have been car washes. Our church is next to a busy urban interstate exit so these can be rather ad hoc. "Volunteering" at some Race for the Cure type races can pay ~$9/hr. Working Concessions at Twins games can pay <$10. Neither of those are worth while for our family. The most high yield thing, money and engagement combined(church wreath sales are the best $ spinner), we've done for the last couple year is concessions at our local Holly Trolley. We set up table and sell cookies, snacks, and cocoa at the local Christmas Trolley ride. We also have a fire and free roasting sticks and marshmallows, though we do sell s'mores kits ;). This opportunity came along since one of our alums was looking for a group to take over concessions and help with set up and break down at the event. It is Sat/Sun the 2 weekends after Thanksgiving. It is really quite fun. Troop parents bake dozens of fancy cookies, We fire up the coleman stoves for hot chocolate. The Cubs and younger Scouts man the booth with an adult to gently oversee the till. The older Scouts man the fire and help the preschoolers roast marshmallows. The surplus adult adult stand around the fire and chat up the kids or adults. It is always fun. How lucrative it is depends on the weather. Snow always helps. The Holly Trolley is by far the best engagement event we have. The preschool./early elementary crowd is great for directly recruiting in to Cub Scouts. But more importantly, chatting with the parents is great for the Scouts. I've heard so many interesting discussions with parents or grandparents there with their kids. Any parent who mentions having been a Scout gets asked as appropriate either "What's the coolest thing you did as a Scout?" or "What was your Eagle project?". Both of those get great answers that get new parents or grandparents involved in authentic conversations with the Scouts. Two examples I overheard are one of the train conductors explaining how he got Eagle before a project was required(pre '65) and a 30 something dad talking about his project planting ~5ft trees as a windbreak at his elementary school in Iowa and seeing the ~40ft trees every time he goes home .
  5. Our joint Cub Scout/Scout camp out this weekend was cancelled since it was in the low 40s with 2 inches of rain and steady 20mph winds. The Scouts considered camping anyway but the miserableness combined with possible flooding on the access roads to our camp made the PLC call it off Friday. So DW (Weblos DL), DS10(newly crossed over scout), and DS12 were all warm at home. I on the other hand drove a couple of our scouts and was an adult candidate at our Order of the Arrow Ordeal weekend. Overall it was a great time but I don't think I've been that cold and wet in around 20 years. We had a few female candidates including at least one Summit awardee, but all of our females were dual registered in Scouts BSA. We did get commemorative lodge patches with Scouts, Venturing, and Sea Scouts logos to mark the changes. PS: One of our female inductees was elected a vice-chief which was pretty cool.
  6. DW's job here is marginal and she is being aggressively recruited for a academic medical job in Pittsburgh. DS12 is homeschooled and DS10 is in public school. Our family is only willing to live in the city, so for ds10 we would have to at least live in the Allerdice feeder zone. For DS12, home instruction and the Western PA ARML group is adequate for math; but not as good as UMTYMP and dual enrollment. Cheap CC dual enrollment is fine but not as good as free DE at UMN. If we could game CC to Carnegie Mellon/Pitt cross registration for 1 course per semester that would rock. Being able to access public school clubs for FIRST robotics and stuff is great. The main concern I have is social. Here in MN we have local secular online support groups that organizes field trips, teen park days, teen game days, a teen LARP group,etc.... I don't see that in Pittsburgh. Furthermore, if I wanted to organize math teams, book clubs, whatever... these groups exist to organize folks. Given a widely used local list, I can grudgingly organize whatever DS12 needs, Absent that community, group formation is probably beyond my skills. Looking online, I see lots of explicitly Christian groups that wouldn't fit our family and no inclusive groups. Is there a secular homeschooling community and do they have an online presence.
  7. So out the 10-11 weeks of public school summer, DS10 and DS12 are doing: 2 weeks of 1/2-3/4 day Sailing camp on a public lake, DS10 is in optis and DS12 is moving up to 420s 1 week each at Grandmas with same age cousins. 2 weeks Scout camp with a 3 day backpacking trip together. DS12 is doing a week day camp at the more serious tactical LARP camp. DS10 is doing week of day camp with our Loppet folks doing canoeing, orienteering, and trail running. ETA: and a week of family vacation in late August
  8. DS10 earned Arrow of Light and crossed over to Scouts BSA tonight. He is so thrilled. He has a September birthday and crossed over as a PS 4th grader using the 6mos since turning ten AoL option, but he is so ready. He has 6 camp outs this year; 3 with the Cubs, 3 with the Scouts(2 without a parent). He is so ready.. He'll have 2 troop camp outs before summer camp and should do great.
  9. DS12 was an acolyte in uniform instead of the more typical robe... and as it turned out DS10 also got to acolyte as a Cub since they couldn't round up a GS. This was slightly ironic since our kids aren't in our church's troop but another same denomination church for historical reasons... but the director of acolytes is our church's Scout Master.
  10. I'm in the "where does this deer path/creek/canyon go camp". Leave No Trace doesn't say stay on the trail and don't cut switchbacks.... it says "Travel on durable surfaces". This lets you hike off trail anywhere there won't be impacts. If you live somewhere cold and even better with lots of snow, Winter is a off trail wonderland. Snow, like rock and flood plains, is the ultimate low impact durable surface. Grab your boots or snow shoes and tromp through the woods, across the lake, up the creek, through that frozen solid muddy slough and wetland.
  11. I know it, my kids know it, most english speakers in my urban neighborhood know it since we have a 5000+ bird mega-murder that over-winters here. I think most well read people will be familiar enough with it.
  12. Our troop had its September camp out last weekend. We had around 10 Scouts and another 6 Webelos present. The Scouts were working on the Railroading MB and the Webelos working that into one of the NOVA awards. So on Saturday we all got up at 6:30 for breakfast and then drove an hour down to a scenic railroad an alumni of ours works on.We toured the yard and rode on the train and the Scouts of all ages got to ride for a couple of miles in the engine. It was super cool. Timing was quirky. The train was limited to 10mph since there was a derailed rock train on that section of track. So we were training it up from 8:30-2:00. Lunch was late. After lunch the Cubs and Scouts worked on sawing and lashing some trestles and having races, a standard NYLT demo activity. That was well received but unfortunately two of the teams collided during the race and a few kids were injured. "Luckily" two were mine, Scout DS12 had a superficial,though very painful, abrasion and Webelos DS10 has deep muscle bruise that made it painful to flex his ankle for a few hours, by evening both were fine. Unfortunately, another new scout got mild MCL tear in the crash. After getting back on Sunday around noon, there was an Eagle Court of Honor on Sunday at 5pm. So after showers, meals, naps, etc we reconvened at the church. This had a great turn out.The ceremony has a role for each scout to light or attempt to light a candle for that rank. The injured new scout was there post-MRI in a brace and got to light the "Scout" candle, looking pleased as punch. DS12 lit the "Second Class" candle. Interestingly, this explained many things. I assumed DS12 didn't earn Second Class at camp JUST because he didn't track his book and manage things himself. But after the CoH it was clear the troop had overlooked he wasn't Second Class(Our troop issues rank lanyards at camp and doesn't issue badges until troop CoHs; this is unusual but traditional going back to the '40s). After DS12 pointed this out and referred to his book, with no prompting from us!!!, the troop slotted him in for a SMC and board of review tonight so he will get Second Class as well as his summer camp badges(swimming,cooking,basketry) at the troop CoH next week. On other notes, this was a wildlife rich campout. Our troop has its own camp in northern WI on a national wild and scenic river. As usual we saw plenty of dear, turkeys, red tail hawks, turkey vultures, raccoons, and bald eagles. Less commonly we also saw a 2-3yo black bear and a mature wolf. We know the northern WI wolf pack roams this far south since we hear them, as clearly differentiated from the coyotes, and see prints including last November when we saw clear wolf prints in 3in of snow of them stalking a flock of turkeys. For both bears and wolves, the cause was bear hunting season in WI, which allows both baiting and hunting with dogs. Luckily our SPL and our extremely hunting friendly, like hunting grouse which are also in season last weekend and hunting everything that isn't baited... think Leopoldian Land Ethic, ASPL could explain this without any adult interpretation. Next weekend, DW and I are running a day hiking and cooking activity for the Cub Pack. Then a free week. And then DW is directing a free stage race for our regional trail running group which she is VP off and I'll either be working at our Cub-o-ree of the scout Camporee depending on which is more desperate.
  13. We're GFCF here and pot lucks always suck, so regardless of what we are assigned we always take meat. Our two go to items are either pulled pork/carnitas, pork shoulder slow cooked dry, so not your first choice. Or whole chicken legs, thighs, quarters, whatevers cheap, roasted in the oven. We usually throw these in the crockpot to keep warm but for an hour or so you could serve them otherwise. We never have leftovers. We are also dairy free so various cheesy vegetarian options don't work for us. Vegan options we've liked include baked beans or lentil salads.
  14. Our council has predetermined packs/troops that are enthusiastic about girls in scouting to refer scouts whose first choice can't muster 5 girls. Though of the ~5 troops I 'm most familiar with in Twin Cities and Rural MN, none are worried about having 5 girls. In some ways the rural troops are better off since they already have girl heavy venture crews made up of scouting families and former Girl Scouts whose troops disbanded after cadettes. The committee issue has not been mentioned by anyone I've talked to. Around here most troops are planning on the BSA approved linked troop option. In reality this will look like a coed troop with single sex patrols. We will have separate leadership for a girl and boy Scout troop. These troops will have shared meetings and outings. The shared committee won't have much more work load than if the troop had recruited more boys. The funds and gear all technically belong to the chartering org(church) so if they are supporting the change that shouldn't be an issue. The main issue I hear about is having enough female leadership on outings. We thought we were set with 18+yo females we could convert to ASMs, but the new Scout rules require supervising adults on outings to be 21+yo. I think our troop is OK but others may have problems. Then the question becomes if you don't have female coverage, do you cancel the trip for everyone or do you just cancel for the girls. This is hugely problematic. So for troops I talk to, the key issue is having enough outdoorsy females to avoid that situation and counting on new parents in the first year isn't really tenable.
  15. Like the north rim of the Grand Canyon, Moab(~4000ft) and Canyonlands(max slightly under 6000ft) is at elevation. So yeah it may be hot on average. But, ~20 years ago I was backpacking in the Maze district of Canyonlands in late June; It was near 90 degrees when I went in and snowing(heavy flurries in the mid-high 30s) when I hiked out. Just keep that in mind on the very broad shoulder season.
  • Create New...