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Citizen Good Turn
Maybe you've heard of the tight Coleman-Franken senate race in Minnesota and the recount being conducted now. About 2/3 of the 2.9million ballots have been recounted but it will still take weeks for the 2,000+ challenged ballots to be examined. It's a long process involving thousands of volunteers and city, county, state employees. And, I can tell you from experience, it is tedious.

For my Good Turn, I volunteered to help with the recount process. I spent 5 hours one day last week in City Hall helping to inspect ballots for precincts in my county. It was an interesting, but tedious, process in which every ballot is important and manually counted. Every ballot is handled at least 3 times, often more.

One employee was a 'sorter' and sat with a pile of ballots in frount of her, a Franken rep on one side and a Coleman rep on the other. The sorter placed each ballot on either the Coleman pile in front of the Franken rep or on the Franken pile in front of the Coleman rep. The representatives job was to quickly inspect the ballot to ensure it was FOR that candidate and accept it into the pile.

The representative could challenge a ballot at that point. Each side has challenged about 1,000 ballots so far but we had just a few in our counting.

Once all the ballots were sorted into Coleman, Franken, or Other then they were counted. A counter, with both a Franken and Coleman rep watching, counted each ballot from the Coleman pile into groups of 25. Each group was set aside and tallied. Then, the process was repeated with the Franken pile and the Other pile.

When the counting was complete for a precinct, the three totals equaled the original total for the precinct or else they had to be recounted until the error was found. This happened twice in the precincts I helped count. Fortunately, a group of 26 was found quickly so it did not take long.

For my part, I felt I was useful. I found a ballot placed in the wrong party's pile and I stopped two miscounts and asked for the group of 25 to be recounted, saving the mistake from happening. All that in 'just' 5 hours. Like I said, it's a tedious process.

Rather than being just one of the millions casting votes that don't seem to matter, I have a better attitude about the importance of each vote. I also am surprised at the poor functioning of the ballot systems we have in place in this country. I certainly hope that in the next 3 years improvements are made that ensure proper counting of ballots.

Scout On
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Posted: 11:43 11-23-2008 377
Online Permissions - Help!
Our troop has had a challenge of getting permission forms turned in on time. It seems we always have a scout family or two oblivious that they missed the deadline for an event registration and this makes it tough to make reservations and arrange drivers.

If you know what I'm talking about, then I'd like your help. I've been working on an online tool to make campout signups easier (I hope) and I need a couple of people to try it out. Our troop is just starting to use it and I need 2 or 3 more troops to kick the tires starting next month.

If you have at least 20 scouts in your troop and could try it for your next 3 campouts or events, please Contact Me. I'll send you instructions to proceed. I'd like you to enter your troop info right after Thanksgiving and let me know if it makes life easier or not.

In exchange for your efforts, you'll receive free access to the tool as long as it exists and I'll send you a flint & steel set and some fire starters for your scouts.

Scout On
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Posted: 11:43 11-18-2008 376
Fillable Local Tour Permit
You can type and save information in the Online Local Tour Permit as part of your Campout Planning process. This saves a bunch of time since a lot of the data is the same from one trip to the next.

Folks should be running out of excuses to not complete a tour permit for absolutely every scouting event.

Scout On
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Posted: 12:51 11-13-2008 375
Cheap Gear
Last year, I wrote about our Alps Mountaineering tents we purchased online from and how we've been awful pleased with them.

Well, I got a letter from them about a sale they're having. Seems they got a whole bunch of tents back from a retailer (brand new) and they were waaaay cheap. I ordered enough for the incoming scouts we expect for the next three years. They were about 40% of the usual reduced ScoutDirect price.

Our quartermaster will be figuring out if any patrols need tents now, labeling them, and distributing them. New scout patrols start out with 4-man tents and then move on to mostly 2-mans as they get older and start high adventure backpacking. There is an incentive for scouts to keep their first tent in great shape so they can 'graduate' from it to one that's more cool.

Unfortunately, the ScoutDirect sale tents practically evaporated as soon as word got out - sorry. But, it looks like there's some nice sleeping bags and backpacks for scouts needing a Christmas present.

Scout On
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Posted: 17:30 11-11-2008 374
Cool Patches
How do you like the cool patch for this year's Scoutorama? Every Webelos scout that participates gets one as a souvenir. Everyone really liked how they turned out this year.

I just wanted to mention that we had a great experience working with Stadri Emblems to create these patches. We bought 100 so we have enough for a couple more years and they cost $1.66/each which included shipping.

Smaller orders, like a dozen, are awful expensive but for a larger troop or district event, they're fine. Check out Stadri Emblems.

They've just come out with a bunch of BSA 100th Anniversary patches in case your troop is planning a special troop patch.

Now, some scouts are interested in designing their own troop high adventure patch with segments for different trips. The small orders of 10-20 segments I'm afraid might be awful expensive, but we'll find out. Please holler if you have some experience with that.

Scout On
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Posted: 22:52 11-08-2008 373
Call Mom
You've seen decals on the backs of semis and delivery trucks like:
How's My Driving?
Call 1-800-123-1234

Well, at the high school this morning I saw one that was new for me all the way across the back window of an SUV. I thought it was pretty cute, but with a very important message, both to the driver and people following him/her:
How's My Driving?
Call MOM @ 943-342-4765

I really liked that one!

Scout On
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Posted: 13:30 11-07-2008 372
Blue Tuesday
I was curious about where the connection between Democrat=Blue and Republican=Red started. It seems like it's always been that way, but it's actually only from this century.
NBC was the first station to use red and blue to show states won, but in 1976 they used Blue for Republican. Other stations caught on and used red and blue in subsequent elections, but there was no standard.
In the 2000 elections, red states and blue states were finally consistently used to mean Republican and Democrat.

Now, what about that Donkey and Elephant thing? :-)

Congratulations to President-elect Obama.

Scout On
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Posted: 23:58 11-04-2008 371
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Posted: 10:20 11-03-2008 370
The troop held its 4th annual Scoutorama on Saturday for the local Webelos to spend some time outside doing Boy Scout activities. The weather was just perfect and the day went great.

The scoutorama is 3 hours of scout skill activities, lunch, and scout games. We've created a fun way for the Webelos to spend a little time with every patrol in the troop and try new things. Most kinks have been worked out and the scouts are now running pretty much the entire day. We had adults handle lunch, but I expect a patrol will volunteer to do that next year. (This is the only event where adults cook a meal for the scouts)

If you'd like to read how we do it, check out Scoutorama Activity for a PDF or Word doc.

Scout On
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Posted: 16:55 11-02-2008 369
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