Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Boy Scouts - Swinging From The Trees

Editors Note: Sorry about the paragraph spacing. I don't have the time or patience to figure it out.

A couple of weekends ago, the troop got together for a weekend camping trip to a Boy scouts of America Scout Reservation in eastern Pennsylvania. The purpose of the trip was to participate in the camps Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience project or COPE. It consists of different challenges for groups of scouts that involve teamwork and problem solving (Low COPE), and for individual scouts that test agility and individual skills (High COPE). The underlying purpose is to develop leadership.

The project varies from one reservation to another, but this one is suppose to be one of the best on the east coast. I personally had no idea what to expect but some of the older scouts knew what the course looked like from previous summer camps. The troop has been doing week-long summer camps here for the past several years and will be coming back again this year in August.

We set up camp Friday night. It was a beautiful night with the temperature in the upper 50s. The camp site had both 2-man tents and 3-sided wooden lean-tos called Adirondacks or Ads. They sleep 6 (3 sets of wooden bunk beds) and the boys used them instead of the tents. The site had a small pavilion and we draped one of our tarps over it to make a bigger dining and cooking area. The weather forecast for Saturday and Sunday was rain, so we wanted to take advantage of the dry night to get everything set for the rain.

Here's the pavilion and one of the 2-man tents (in the background) that we used for a supply tent.

Here's the pavilion and an Ad (in the background) and the fire pit in the foreground.

Saturday morning, after a cold breakfast of cereal, OJ and fruit, we headed over to the COPE course. The morning program was on the Low COPE course.

Here half of the boys are blind-folded and the other half have to guide them along a puddle laced dirt road with voice commands only. That's The Pudge with the red bandanna.

The boys have to balance on a beam while singing "Happy birthday". The COPE counselors were a sick and twisted bunch.

The boys had to get the patrol from one platform to the other using 2 short boards. It involved planning and counter-balancing.

This was a balance seesaw that the patrol had to balance on while singing "I'm a Little Tea Pot".

This is the Leap of Faith. The scout on the platform (The Pudge) has to fall backwards into the waiting arms of the rest of the patrol. This was a trust exercise and was great fun.

Here the boys had just finished the wall climb where you had to lift or push the whole patrol over the wall. They're just photo opping - and resting.

Lunch was ham and cheese sandwiches, juice, fruit, chips and cookies. There were 3 other troops participating and each troop brought their own food. The COPE counselors were suppose to have water jugs but didn't bring them. So yours truly had to hike back to camp and bring 2 - 3 gallon jerry cans of water (that's like 50 pounds) and it was about a mile. I was sweating pretty good when I got to the picnic area. The rain has held off so far to one little 5 minute shower.

The boys eating lunch under the soon-to-be-completed new pavilion.

After lunch the boys donned their safety harnesses and helmets in preparation for the afternoon High COPE course.

The Pudge all suited up.

The first thing they did was go over safety and "belay" training. The belay lines are attached to steel cables along the course with the other end looping through an overhead pulley and is then attached to the scout. Two boys man the belay line and walk along with the scout that is up in the trees.

Belay training.

The Pudge up on a platform (with a counselor) after having climbed the Giant Ladder. He's on a platform and is tethered to the tree - waiting his turn.

The Pudge walking one of the rope bridges.

Once again my photography skills are not very good. These bridges are about 30 feet off the ground and the belay line and boys manning the line are out of sight. This course is very safe and, other than some scratches and rope burns, no one was hurt. There is also a 300 foot long zip line at the end - a reward for completing the course that the boys really look forward to.

We got back to camp around 6:00PM and had a quick dinner of stew, rolls and devil dogs. We had a very mellow camp fire and got the boys in their racks by 10:00PM. They were so tired we didn't even have to tell them. By 10:30PM the rains came and it rained all night, clearing in the morning in time for breakfast. We had a big breakfast of French toast, sausage, OJ and fruit. We broke camp at around 10:00AM and were home by noon.

The boys had a great time and a number of them want to do the Endurance COPE during summer camp. That consists of High COPE, Belay Training, rock climbing and rappelling. They do it over the course of 5 days and can earn the rock climbing merit badge for their efforts. That should be fun.

Movie Clip Wednesday - Movies That Make You Think Of An Ex

That Movie Clip Wednesday Film Buff, Boxer is off doing still-lifes of naked dolls (it frightens me just to say that). This MCW Meme has everyone picking a clip from their favorite movies based on a weekly theme while trying to keep the clip or clips to around 3 minutes long. So the lovely and provocative (because she has a great story to go with her theme this week) Joanna Cake again will perform the hostess duties. She has declared this week's theme to be - Movies That Make You Think Of An Ex. Talk about a buzzkill.

I only have 2 ex-girlfriends (of note) and one I talked about here already. The other one I don't ever recall taking to a movie or can even associate with a movie. I really thought about it too. I dated "E" toward the end of college and for a year or so after. And after college she became geographically undesirable (2 hour ride) and we ended up going our separate ways. She was a red-headed Irish girl who was a first generation American. As such, she had a fierce love of Irish bands. Most notably - U2. So when I hear 1981's Gloria - I always think of her. I'm thinking about her now...

Head on over to Joanna's if for no other reason than to just hear her date story. Very hot.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Kill Family Night on the Town (UPDATE)

Well, I received the Kill Clan Family photo with Patty Duke. I won't identify everyone, but you can probably figure out who's who (I'm the mustached mutant on the left).

And my family is having a lot of fun with my sister and this gem. That's my head sticking out of my sisters back. Kind of freaky if you ask me.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Kill Family Night on the Town

"But they're cousins,
Identical cousins all the way.
One pair of matching bookends,
Different as night and day."

That is the tune that was playing in my head all night long when the Kill family recently went to the Big Apple to attend a charity dinner that featured none other than - Patty Duke. But first, some of the back story (sit right back and you'll hear a tail...wait, wrong show - but this gets a little long). My sister, L is a member of the board of directors for a New York based charity known as ICL:

The Mission of the Institute for Community Living Inc. (ICL) is to assist individuals and families affected by or at risk for mental and developmental disabilities with services and support designed to improve their quality of life and participation in community living.

ICL celebrated it's 25th anniversary and tapped my sister to be the board member "Gala Chair". She said her company bought a table for the event and she invited me and the Mrs, my 2 brothers and their wives, my other sister and her husband and a friend to go with her. Truth is she was nervous about it, wanted some moral support from the family and I know she paid for the table out of her own pocket, which was a lot of money I'm sure. The Mrs chose not to go for reasons known only to her, but I will tell you she missed a great time.

The evening started in a Greyhound parking lot (yeah I know but it was convenient) where we were met by a white stretch limo that my sister hired to take us to and from NYC. My brother-in-law G brought the beer and wine. There were 9 of us and the car held 10, so it was a little crowded but comfortable.

The whole ride up my sister briefed us on what not to do or say in the presence of Ms. Duke. We were not to ask her about her identical twin - Kathy Lane (some show trivia for you). And we were not to ask her about metal illness - specifically hers.

Now driving to NYC is a crap shoot. You never know what the traffic will be like within 20 miles of the city. On a good day you can make it in under 2 hours; a bad day will take you 4 hours. We needed to be there at 5:30, so we left at 3:00. Our driver Frank got us there in an hour and 45 minutes. We drove past the World Trade Center construction site to get to our destination - the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

We sat at the bar for about a half hour, enjoying the beautiful hotel. I was tempted to take a picture of the men's room (for Heff) because it is the nicest one I've ever been in, but I thought that would be - gauche. My sister L picked up the bar tab too.

We then went up to the 14th floor bar and outdoor terrace. The view is spectacular and the weather was perfect (mid-70s). You could see the Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and just about everything else NYC has to offer. Some of the Hors D'oeuvres they served were stuffed artichokes (good), crusted braised beef (very good) and tuna tar-tar on tortilla (kind of bland).

The view from the 14th Floor balcony.

After about a half hour, the sea of people parted and there she was - Patty Duke. The first thing I notice is that she is tiny. IMDB has her height listed as 5'-0" but I will tell you she's got to be like 4'-10", maybe 85 pounds. The girls think her dress is size 0. She came over to our group and met with sister L first (because she's a big deal board member) and then introduced herself to each of us individually. She was extremely gracious and chatted about her visit that day to one of ICL's facilities. And I heard almost nothing she said, just that friggin Patty Duke Show tune in my head.

And here she is. The blond in the pictures is my sister L. She looked very nice in her black evening dress. I don't get to see her all dolled up that often.
These are all of the board members and VIPs.

Afterwards, we went down to where the banquet room was set up. Outside they had a silent auction of paintings, jewelry and sports memorabilia - none of which I could afford. One guy at our table won a Joe DiMaggio autographed ball - for $500.

Here's the swanky banquet room and table setting.

The dinner was very good. Here's the menu and some of the plates. The only thing that I didn't like was the lobster tail. Mine was extremely overcooked (to the point of mush).

My sister L went up on stage 2 different times. Here was my view of the stage. Not the best seat but hey, it was free.

She only messed up at the very end when she said "Frank you very much". No doubt thinking of the limo driver (who incidentally reminded me of Dennis Farina for some reason).

Patty Duke spoke for about 15 minutes discussing her bouts with manic depression and how she saw some of the residents at the ICL facility re-enact a scene from the miracle worker. And all of the actors were blind (kind of funny but actually touching). After the program was over, she stuck around and talked with people and even signed some autographs. She seemed to be a genuinely nice person.

The front of the Ritz-Carlton as we left.

Our ride home.

The cool lights in the limo. So there you have it. We left about 9:30PM and Frank had us back to the Greyhound terminal before 11:00PM. A good time had by all. There was a professional photographer at the event who did a group shot of Patty and the whole Kill family, so if I get that picture, I'll post it.

Can't get that tune out of your head, can you? Me neither - don't bother to thank me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Movie Clip Wednesday - Most Memorable Thin Man Role In A Movie

That Movie Clip Wednesday Film Buff, Boxer is off on an adventure at Chickory, so she won't be hosting anytime soon. One can only imagine what's going on there. This MCW Meme has everyone picking a clip from their favorite movies based on a weekly theme while trying to keep the clip or clips to around 3 minutes long. So the lovely Joanna Cake again will perform the hostess duties. She has declared this week's theme in Karl's honor - Most Memorable Thin Man Role In A Movie.

This is a stumper because I've never seen any of the Thin Man series all the way through...just select scenes...from Karl. So I did some Googling and found a character that I see all the time as a crossword puzzle answer - Asta. So here's a funny clip of Asta in action from After the Thin Man (1936). That Mrs Asta sure is a tramp.

I'm really curious as to what will turn up at Joanna's. But one thing you can bet on - it'll be in black and white.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Visual Haiku - First Kiss

Radio contest.
Humor, jazz...alluring blend.
Pick-up dalliance.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Movie Clip Wednesday - Hottest Vixen in A Teen Comedy

That Movie Clip Wednesday Film Buff, Boxer is not only on hiatus, she doesn't even participate anymore. What's up with that? This MCW Meme has everyone picking a clip from their favorite movies based on a weekly theme while trying to keep the clip or clips to around 3 minutes long. So Joanna Cake again will perform the hostess duties. She has declared this week's theme in my honor - Hottest Vixen in A Teen Comedy. Should I be flattered? Embarrassed? Arrested? You people decide.

(UPDATE)This explains it perfectly (except change the 40 to a 51):

This theme is right in my wheelhouse but I had difficulty not only deciding on a favorite, but one that is supported by YouTube. Let's start out by saying the number one pick for this theme, hands down, is Phoebe Kates from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Carrot scene? Pool scene? Bueller? I used that clip before and I figured Karl would pick it anyway.

Speaking of Ferris Buller's Day Off, this was going to be my choice if I could find a video clip of Mia Sara at the pool (again with the pool). But You Tube failed me. Mia Sara was unbelievably hot in this movie but then she made some bad movie choices and faded into obscurity. She was married to Jason Connery, Sean Connery's son, but that's about it.

Which brings me to my choice for today. This actress was way hot in this movie and she had the sexy British accent (I am not kissing up to Joanna - well maybe a little) to go with the looks. Of course I'm talking about Kelly LeBrock in 1985's Weird Science. Although Bill Paxton's Chet character stole the movie, Kelly at least looked great in every scene. Not so much today though - she didn't age well - and she's only 2 weeks older than me! I guess being married to Steven Seagal will put some hard miles on a woman. Anyway, here's a clip of the very first time we see her:

So how could you not want to see what everyone picks this week? Go over and visit Joanna for more hot vixens.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Visual Haiku - Music To My Ears

Born on Iron Horse.

To the V-twin thunder roar

Be wild summer knights.