Friday, May 25, 2012

The Big Hole in the Side of My House

These pictures were taken 2 weeks ago.  They've knocked 2 large pass-thrus in the outside wall now that the addition is fully enclosed. 

This is the larger of the two openings from the den.

Here you can see both openings.  Those laminated beams above the openings probably weigh over 500 pounds each.  The contractor's crew muscled them into position.  You can also see the duct work and piping that goes up to the bedroom.

The new addition has a shed roof with a slightly vaulted ceiling.

Outside with windows and doors in.

The addition from the Tree House Cam.  You can see all of the roofing is in.  30 year architectural shingles - they look good.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hey, Ya Blouse-Wearing Poodle-Walkers - It's the Highland Games - Ach!

The Highland Games - a whole weekend of Groundskeeper Willie imitations, Braveheart yells of "Freedom!", haggis jokes, some Scottish games of skill and - wait for it - catapults!  About every 2 -3 years, our council holds a camporee at one of it's scout reservations to promote the age-old traditions of the Scottish clans - throwing stuff.  This was a weekend camp from Friday night to Sunday morning, with the actual games held all day Saturday. 

The day started with a 6:00AM revelry.  We needed to be up and the troop fed by 7:00AM.  We had hot and cold cereal, fruit and granola bars.  We had 3 patrols entered (the Flaming Eagles, the Phoenix and the Raging Ravens - the boys like fire and anger), each with 5 - 6 scouts.  To even out the skill levels and prevent troops from stacking patrols, the events had 2 classification - heavy weight and light weight.  Boys in high school or above the rank of First Class were considered heavy weight.  We're a young troop and we only had one scout in the heavy weight class.  There were about 18 troops, 35 patrols and over 200 scouts participating.  One troop actually showed up in kilts, which was pretty cool.

Get your Haggis right here! Chopped heart and lungs boiled in a wee sheep's stomach! Tastes as good as it sounds! ~ Groundskeeper Willie

All nice and quiet just before we got the boys up.  It was a balmy 32 degrees!

"It won't last. Brothers and sisters are natural enemies. Like Englishmen and Scots! Or Welshmen and Scots! Or Japanese and Scots! Or Scots and other Scots! Damn Scots! They ruined Scotland!" ~ Groundskeeper Willie

The games consist of 15 skill stations that each patrol must negotiate.  Most of the skills required throwing something - rocks, stones, cabers, spears, etc. The remaining stations were feats of strength like the tug-of-war or log drag.  And each troop had to host a station and have it set up, ready to go at 7:30AM. Our station was the Hammer Throw. Our scoutmaster made light and heavy "hammers" out of free weights, 1" pipe and clamps. They worked great and I think we had one of the better stations at the event.

We only had 3 adult leaders on this trip, so the scoutmaster and other leader set up and ran our station while I followed the three patrols and hustled them around to make sure they got to the correct station at the right time. A monumental task made more difficult by a bunch of un-prepared troops. When the games officially started at 8:30AM, about a 1/3 of the stations weren't ready or even identified. It was slow going at first.

Here's our station - the Hammer Throw.

The Pudge doing the log throw.  He used a windmill technique that got him the 3rd best distance of the day.

After all of the stations were completed and lunch was eaten (the council's Order of the Arrow group at the camp had a hoagie sale - yea, no cooking!), it was time for the much anticipated Catapult Siege.  The troop actually prepared for this 3 Saturdays in advance of the games by constructing our catapult and trailering it to the camp (allowed by rule).  Also, the catapult had to be constructed of timbers (no dimensional lumber) and lashed together with rope (no mechanical fasteners). 

“"Bonjoooouuuuurrrrrrr yer cheese eatin' surrender monkeys"” ~ Groundskeeper Willie on the French (or other troops in the competition).

The power for the catapult could come from the boys (boys pulling a rope), springs, bungees or counterweights.  We chose to use counterweights and two garage door springs.  The catapult had to throw a full, 2-liter soda bottle as far as possible.

Here we are on the "line" preparing our catapult to lay siege.

Another view of the catapult with ammunition.

“Now we're wasting more energy than Ricky Martin's girlfriend.” ~ Groundskeeper Willie

There were nine catapults in all.  I don't have pictures of them (for the public).  It was an interesting group of engineering marvels.  All different in varying degrees, most not really functional.  After the order was given to commence firing, you could fire as many times as you wanted, tweak the catapult for maximum distance and you would be measured on your longest shot. 

The catapult that ended up winning didn't look like much, but it clearly out-distanced the 2nd place winners by a good 30 - 40 feet.  And those 2nd place winners - would be our troop.  We narrowly edged out the 3rd place winners (and a rival cross-town troop at that) with an unofficial distance of about 50 feet.  Doesn't sound like much, but it was good enough that day.  

"Come on ya pansies, I've seen fiercer fights in parliament." ~ Groundskeeper Willie

The camp provided a dinner of chicken, pulled pork, ham and ziti (guid Scottish fare), so no cooking again.   Unfortunately, we couldn't have a camp fire because of drought and fire restrictions, so we had a camp-wide meeting under the large pavilion for the awards.  Out of a possible 45 ribbons in the lightweight class (15 games, 1st, 2nd and 3rd places), our patrols took home 15 ribbons.  Most by the Flaming Eagles (9, I think), the rest by the Phoenixes (Phoenii? - we always have this discussion) with the Raging Ravens getting skunked.  But the one that really mattered to us, the catapult siege 2nd place ribbon, was truly a troop effort and currently hangs from the troop flag pole.  Not bad for our first time in the Highlands. 

The boys after a very long competition and guid dey (good day).

Groundskeeper Willie: I'll bring those kids back dead or alive!
Skinner: Not DEAD!
Groundskeeper Willie: Aw, you never let Willie be Willie!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Boys Shouting* - Neckerchief Slide Conclusion

* - A nod to Gilda Radner's Roseanne Roseannadanna.  Anyone remember that sketch?  Well, I sure do.

Way back in January, I told you all about my quest to get the troop to Class "A" status with their uniforms by ensuring that all of the boys had neckerchief slides.  To that end I think I was successful, although, like most eveything I do, it turned into a much larger project than it should have been.

In addition to the troop, we hosted not one, but two Webelos Dens that were ready to "cross-over" to the Boy Scouts and were checking out our troop (boys age out of Webelos at 11 years old and have the option of choosing a boy scout troop in which to transfer or leaving the scouting program). 

Most of the scouts (the best I could hope for) were well behaved, attentive and brought interesting and unusual items to be made into neckerchief slides.  I had over 50 blank slides in black, green and brown (black being the favorite) that I had pre-made during the weeks leading to the neckerchief slide nights.  I say "nights" because of scheduling problems (on the part of the Webelo leaders) we actually had 3 neckerchief slide nights.  Here are some of the highlights.

Turns out that Mr. Kill was the only one to get burned with the hot glue gun.

A hamburger eraser with the scout's initials.  You could see that if this was any where close to in focus.  The Boy (now an Assistant Scout Master) was here this night taking the pictures, so I am blameless for these.

This was a popular slide.

I don't know what to say about the one on the left with the teddy bear.  The one on the right is some kind of video game symbol with guns, which was kind of cool.  One Webelo brought his grandfather's  lieutenant's bars.  We didn't let him use those.

I wasn't sure about a British Flag on an American Scout uniform.  The scout in question knew that Sir Baden Powell, founder of American Boy Scouts, was a lieutenant-general in the British Army.  How do I argue with that?

This is The Pudge's slide.  You may recognize the guitar pick from our concert a few years ago.  Several other scouts used guitar picks too.

Last but not least, Mr. Kill's slide.  Believe it or not, this is a stone from the Roman Colosseum that I "acquired" some 25 years ago on my one and only visit to Rome.  The boys thought that was pretty cool.