Sunday, January 25, 2015

50 Miler

Back when I was in the Boy Scouts of America, there was a major patch you could get for well, ... something major.  It was the 50 Miler award.  You had to go 50 miles in one week by foot or afloat.  I earned mine with a combination of canoeing and backpacking 50 miles with my troop over spring break. 

Here's the old version of the patch I earned.

In real life that patch is huge.  It's the biggest patch I own.  And you know, it should be.  It's a hard patch to get. 

So this brings me to this past week.  I have been performing maintenance at an apartment complex in Clearwater.  Mainly, they have me do the things they don't want to do.  That means I deal with a lot of garbage.  They had me walking all over the property picking up liter, and taking care of the trash cans. 

After each day my feet were killing me.  So I got to thinking...  There was one morning when I walked non-stop the first half of the day.  So even if I walked only two miles per hour, I knocked out eight miles just before lunch.  And then I went out and walked some more.  I figured each day I walked between ten and fifteen miles.  So at the end of the working week I easily had walked fifty miles. 

Buy alas, there is no 50 Miler patch for life.  But sometimes I think there should be.  At least in my heart I am glad to know that I was able to walk that much in one week.  Some of the other maintenance men at that complex said they just couldn't do what I did. 

The funny thing?  I might have to do it again this week.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Tale of a Scout's Uniform

Well for about 24 hours I was in the Boy Scouts of America.  (See previous post.)  When I at BSA Sea Base I was with other Scout Leaders from across the globe.  I talked to a man who was from the Philippines, and had attended one of the World Jamborees.  As I noticed everyone in their Class A uniforms it got me to thinking.  Despite being members of one organization, all of our uniforms are rather personalized.

The one organization I can think of with uniforms such as the Boy Scouts is the U.S. Military.  Except for certain medals and designations of which division members are in, the uniforms are pretty much homogenized.  That's a bit different from the Boy Scouts where the uniform can be customized quite a bit.

Take for example, my uniform.  (Note:  This is my adult uniform, not my youth uniform.)

It's actually quite colorful isn't it?

Let's start on the left and work our way to the right.

Every Scout uniform comes with the American flag.  Only that and the "Boy Scouts of America" patch are the only patches that come standard on the uniform.  Everything else much be sew on by the Scout's Mom (ha, ha, but not really.) 

The Quality Unit patches (mine are from 1997 and 1998) mean that the troop maintained or increased it's membership that year.  So unlike a lot of the "gimmie" patches, this one can be difficult to get.  It falls more on the leaders than it does the boys. 

Let's talk loops.  Those are those red things on the shoulders.  On a funny sidenote, it seems that I am a bit out of date.  Boy Scouts now wear forest green loops.  Cub Scouts wear blue.  Varsity wears Orange.  Venture Scouts wear green (not forest green) loops.  Council and District wear silver loops, while the higher ups at National and Regional wear Gold. 

One rule of thumb is that whenever you see someone with Silver or Gold loops, be on your best behavior.  That rule works equally well for both youth and adult.  (Sometimes a good reminder always helps.)  So just by those little loops you can tell which level a member is at.

The nice colorful patch is my Order of the Arrow patch.  They also have districts (more correctly Lodges, and I belong to Seminole Lodge #85.  This is a special patch celebrating the 1992 Olympics. 

The place below that on the left side pocket is a free for all.  You can put an earned patch here.  I put my river clean up patch since that event meant a lot to me.  That, and that patch looks cool.  So back to my main point.  This is where you can really customize your uniform.

The purple patch is definitely a "gimmie" patch.  It means you support world scouting.  In other words, you can go to your local district, buy it, and slap it on.  The "ring" patch that is around it just came out.  It is also a "gimmie" patch.  It celebrates the birth of Scouting in America.  You can also buy this at your local district.

The "knot" patches that go above the pocket flap are some of the hardest to get.  My one and only means that I was awarded the "Arrow of Light" from my graduation from Webelos to Boy Scouts.  Other knots are for getting your Eagle Scout award, religious awards, and district awards.  Again, they are very hard to get, and you have to put in many years to earn them.

At the top of the sleeve is the Council patch.  This tells what Council you are in.  I'm in the Gulf Ridge Council.  On a funny sidenote, I am a bit out of date with mine.  A new patch was created four years ago.  It's always neat to go a far-away summer camp, and see who is from different Councils.  A lot of Scouts will carry extra Council patches, and trade Council patches with other.  I have done this a few times.  I have a nice one from Pennsylvania from a Scout I met at Philmont.

The next patch is your Troop number.  I have been in Troops 12, 189, and 180.  Again, I am a bit out of date in that I have the red numbers.  The new ones are green. 

On yet another sidenote, I am still allowed to wear the red loops because my numbers are still red. 

Under the troop number you wear your position patch.  I was an Assistant Scoutmaster.  The youth Scouts wear what position they are as well.  Positions such as Senior Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Chaplain, Quartermaster, etc. 

If you attend a School of Scouting event you get the "Trained" patch.  I attended and took a few courses.  It is hosted by the Boy Scouts, and was held at the University of South Florida.  Both leaders and youth can wear this patch as long as they attended.

One thing I didn't get to cover was neckerchiefs.  Most of the time, they aren't worn unless it's for a special occasion.  I usually only wore mine during Scout dinners and awards ceremonies.  The rule is that usually the troop will decide on one style of neckerchief to wear, and everyone will wear that one. 

So that's the tale of my uniform.  As you can see, they really are customized depending upon what you have accomplished.  I do think I like it that way.  It allows one to be part of the organization, but still be an individual. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Why I Decided To Leave BSA Seabase

The last few years I have been writing this blog it has mostly been about craft projects, old funny stories, or insights into weird ideas.  When I first started this blog back in 2008, it was mainly a diary of how things were going in my life.  I haven't done a post like that in a while, but due to circumstances as of late, I knew I had to write a "diary post."

Back in December I was ecstatic when I was hired to work for the Boy Scouts of America down in the Keys at their high adventure base known as BSA Sea Base.  I had worked for the BSA in 2004 at Philmont in New Mexico.  Since I live about 350 miles from Sea Base, I was able to take my own car, and thus a lot of my stuff along with me.  So I packed up and drove down there.

Unfortunately, my car decided at that moment to have a few problems.  I was stuck in a traffic jam, and it was dangerously close to overheating.  Luckily, I was able to get out of the traffic jam, pull over, and check my car out.  I made it down there okay, but my car was making a lot of noise.

When I get to Sea Base I discover that my "housing" was half the size of a standard hotel room, and there would be four guys to an apartment.  We did have a bathroom, but it was tiny.  Two of my roommates had been there so long they had accumulated a lot of stuff, and there was not any place where I could put my own belongings. 

I start talking to my roommates, and they start telling me about my immediate boss (who I will not mention by name.)  They described him as a Cuban dictator who screamed, cursed, insulted, and abused those around and underneath him.  Now here's a side note.  I had to sign and notarize a paper saying that I would abide by the Scout Law at all times.  (Yes, I really did have to have it notarized.)  So I wonder when this guy is cursing at people, which part of the Scout Law is that under?  I had one of my roommates tell me, and I quote, "I would never work for that madman." 

So in the morning I talk to the main boss about my concerns.  I straight up tell him I'm not comfortable with the living arrangements, and I will not be yelled at.  I said, "If he has a problem with my work, that's fine.  If he doesn't like the way I did something, that's fine.  He can tell me in a calm voice.  The moment he screams or curses at me he will find himself on the ground screaming, "My crotch, my crotch, oh my God my crotch!"  I will not be disrespected in that manner."

The main boss was very sympathetic about my concerns.  He said, my immediate boss was better than he was years ago, but would I have a run in with him?  Yes.  Would I be cursed at?  Yes.  Also, he didn't like the living arrangements either.  But, on an island land is at a premium, and they just don't have much space.  They were in the planning stages of putting together another housing unit, but that would still be years off. 

So I agreed not to take the job, and come back home.  I went to a mechanic that they knew just 9 miles up the road.  They found my compressor and a few items were not working and/or dying.  So I went to Miami to stay with some friends until nightfall.  I was then able to run my car with the A/C off at night when it was cooler.  That way my engine didn't overheat.  I dropped off my car at my trusted mechanic the next day, and he got it working again. 

I have to say that Philmont was an amazing adventure, and I would suggest that every Scout who is interested tries to make it out there sometime during their lifetime.  However, I am not so sold on BSA Sea Base.  I never found it comfortable there, and would not suggest that anyone work there.

On a side note, I had someone suggest that I talk to someone in charge at the Gulf Ridge Council (here in the Tampa Bay area) to see if I could get ahold of a higher up in the Boy Scouts to let them know what was going on.  I didn't think it would do any good.  I mean, the screamer had been with them for years, and I think everyone knew what was going on.  So I don't think it would matter much what I would report. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

That Will Be The Death Of Me, Part 2

To understand this post a little better, read part 1.

A funny thing happened to the tree I hate.  A few months ago it stopped growing limbs.  And then, the limbs that it had started dying.  For some strange reason, it seems the tree that I thought would be the death of me, has itself, died. 

I didn't expect this.  I had expected this thing to outlive my Father, and then I would have to deal with it.  Now, we have a dead canary island date palm tree that we will both have to try to remove. 

Now this presents a number of problems.  First, this thing may not look too big, but it is heavy.  Next, palm trees are very fibrous, and dull chainsaw blades almost immediately.  What really makes this thing a pain is that, it has giant ball roots, and a ton of work will have to be put in to unearth them.  I'm also afraid that all the plants that surround the palm tree will be damaged as we try to move the canary island date palm. 

There is always the option of letting the palm tree sit there and rot a bit.  That way, it will make it easier to cut and move.  However, that will make the whole driveway look terrible.  No one wants to have a dead tree right in their front circle. 

So I will have to confer with my still very much alive Father on what he wants to do with it.  The one thing I am sure of is that, I don't want another one of those canary island date palm trees placed back in there. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Adrian's Year In Review: The Best Blogs of 2014

Yes, it's that time of year again boys and girls.  It's the end of the year so I review the best blogs of mine.  I sort them into two categories.  First, I list them by the most viewed.  However, that does present a problem since blogs in January will have 11 more months to get viewed than blogs in December.

Because of that, I also list my personal favorite blogs in the order I personally like most.  There's nothing really scientific about it, I just choose my favorites.

So, in descending order, here are the seven most viewed blogs of mine for the year 2014:

#7.  Cat Craziness Explained.  46 views.

I decide to let people know how acquiring cats can make you crazy.

#6.  Lost Rosewood and The Yellow Jacket Massacre.  52 views.

I try to find some rosewood, and run into a yellow jacket nest.... in my own building.

#5.  That Will Be The Death Of Me.  58 views.

I will die..... from a palm tree.

#4.  Craigslist: Strange Tradings.  61 views.

It's a bad time to try and sell a guitar, but a good time to trade.

#3.  Just What Is That Ciroc Vodka Commercial Trying To Say To Me?  89 views.

They keep running that commercial.  It just won't stop.

#2.  Bored Scoutmasters and the Tale of the Wampus.  98 views.

Scoutmasters are people too.... just sometimes not the best of people.

#1.  Satanic Dancing and the Illuminati.  146 views. 

Satan is making a comeback..... in dancing!

So those are the best blogs by views.  Here are my personal favorites for the 2014 year.

#10.  THIS! Is Not A Salad Bar!!!

Don't try to cook for my family.  It's just not worth it.

#9.  Rise.

My evil twin sister is starting to worry I have a "thing" for Chad Michael Murray.

#8.  Lost Rosewood and The Yellow Jacket Massacre

You never forget your first yellow jacket nest.  But you do forget where you put that really expensive rosewood.

#7.  Adrian: Zero Dollar Budget Director.

You have to be creative when you have no money and a 15 year old camera.

#6.  Hunting Adventures, 2014

I was very happy with my work at putting together this year's hunting videos.  I just wish everyone else would have noticed.

#5.  How a Few Jackholes Ruined Halloween For My Entire Childhood.

Darn you.  Darn you to heck all you people who ruined my Halloweens.

#4.  Things Not To Let Your Boss Catch You Doing.

Sometimes goofing off at work will make the boss hate you.  Or just look at you weird.

#3.  The Boy Who Walked Into A Tornado, And Came Out An Idiot.

Some kids are dumb.  And then there are kids who are even dumber than those kids.  This story is about one of those kids.

#2.  Bored Scoutmasters and the Tale of the Wampus.

This may be one of my all time favorite blogs.  Only one blog was better this year.

#1.  Satanic Dancing and the Illuminati.

Sometimes something so ridiculous has to be met with something equally ridiculous. 

So that's it folks.  That makes 53 blogs this year.  Back when I started my blog on Myspace in 2008 I vowed that I wanted to average writing one blog a week.  Well, this year I made that goal.  Now that I think of it, every year I have made that goal.  It just feels good to accomplish my blog goal. 

This will be blog number 456.  That's a lot of blogs over a long period of time.  It's strange to see how my writing and storytelling has changed.  I was really glad to move my blog over to blogger due to the ease of writing, and letting me add pictures and video.  So I still vow to put in at least 52 blogs next year.  Keep reading and even if you don't, I will keep writing.

Monday, December 22, 2014

New Guitar Day: Christmas Edition

It's that time of year again.  Time for gifts and all that fun stuff.  But I decided to give a gift to a most special person in my life.... me.  I'm so good to me. 

But all funny (or unfunny) jokes aside, there was a type of guitar that I had been wanting for a long time.  I had always wanted a Les Paul style guitar with P-90's in it.  Getting a Gibson was out of the question due to price, so I turned to Epiphone.  They made (they just stopped making it) a version of the 1956 Les Paul that only came in Gold or Black.  I honestly wasn't too crazy about it.  Gold guitars do nothing for me, and black guitars show every fingerprint and spec of dust that comes near them.

So a few of the members on the Dean Guitars and Seymour Duncan forums had spoken about how much they liked Agile Guitars.  The factory that Epiphone used to have their Les Pauls made in was now making the guitars for Agile.  Just to be clear, Epiphone moved their production to an Epiphone only factory in China.  The factory in South Korea, where the Agiles and other guitars are made, has been making guitars for decades, and with the new CNC machines they have been doing a great job.

So I look through their offerings.  Honestly, their website is a bit cheesy, but their inventory looks pretty good.  Then I see it.  A Les Paul style guitar in a root beer finish with a flame maple veneer.  It also had P-90 pickups.  I knew I had to have it, so I got it with a tweed style case.  This one was the last one left.  I was aiming to wait a few weeks to get it, but I couldn't take the chance that I would miss out on buying it.

I had some Seymour Duncan P-90's from a previous project that I never got around to using.  So once I did a set-up, I installed the pickups.  I used the SP-90-2 for the neck, and the SP-90-3 for the bridge.  The neck pickup has an almost piano like quality to it.  The bridge pickup just sounds like a bigger P-90.  Due to it's specs, I was hoping for a distortion like pickup, but it just sounded bigger.  I was expecting it to have a bigger bottom end, but it was actually pretty balanced. 

The funny thing is that I have an Epiphone Les Paul plain top pretty close to this color.  They call it honeyburst.  It has a bit of honey color in the middle, but the rest of the burst is root beer color.  So they look like twins.  The Epiphone has humbucker pickups in it. 

I will say that the Agile has a few upgrades from the Epiphone.  It has some sort of ebony fretboard instead of rosewood.  It also has a type of graphtech like saddles on the bridge.  The only thing that was not as good or better than the Epiphone was the three way switch.  They used one of the ones that makes a "clinking" sound when switched. 

What's weird is that even the necks are almost identical on them.  The weight is about the same too.  I may have to do a second blog showing the two of them together.  Just to show just how much alike they are.

So if you are thinking about an Epiphone type guitar, check out Agile Guitars at Rondo Music online.  They have a bunch of different types of guitars, so you can find something you like.  The good news is that they sell direct to customer so they are cutting out the middle man.  My guitar cost 60% of what an Epiphone guitar would have, and the Agile is better quality.  Also, the hardshell cases are about half of what a case would run you at Guitar Center.  So take a peek, and see if you find something you like.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Apocalyptic Bloodbath

So I was watching the show, "River Monsters," on the Animal Planet channel.  It was this episode:

Anyway, I was watching when he started talking about piranha fish.  They kept taking his bait.  He mentioned that when the water would get low, the fish would be pooled together, and anything that fell in would get destroyed in a apocalyptic bloodbath.

And that's when it hit me.  That would be the name of my new speed/death/thrash/etc. metal band.  But first I had to see if anyone already had that name.  It seems that there was no band with that name, but there was a song with that name.

So it looks like I am safe.  But will the album be called?  I kept watching.  Since he was in the amazon, he was in a region called Obidos.  He then talked about "The Rivers of Obidos."  And that was it.  I knew that would be the name of my album.

There would be an endless supply of ideas for my album cover.  Seriously, I put in "Apocalyptic Bloodbath," in the Bing image search, and came up with this:

Really, after 25 years of death metal it's like shooting fish in a barrel.