Ken's Project Blog

February 3, 2011

2010 National Scout Jamboree

Filed under: Human Interest,Personal — Ken @ 10:17 am

This morning I had occasion to plug my Flip HD camera into my computer (to charge the battery), and I found I had about 9 minutes of video from the 2010 National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill. There is nothing special about the video, but it helps you get a sense of the enormity of the event.

This film shows just random scenes, either shot from the a curb watching some activities or from the window of a bus. I rode on the passenger side of the bus, so my film shows the outside edges of the campgrounds, there were literally tens of thousands more scouts on the other side of the bus in the main camping areas.

I understand there were over 40,000 scouts in attendance (including my son), and it really was an amazing sight to behold. My son’s Jamboree troop had been meeting, planning and preparing for the Jamboree for almost two years, but one of the things that struck me was The Shomer Shabbat Contingent, consisted of Orthodox Jewish scouts from the U.S., Canada and Israel that did all their planning virtually – the first time they met was a week before the Jamboree in, of all places, the Catskills. You can see their campsite at about 6:10 mark in the film (they have a large front gateway with flags from the countries the scouts in the troop are from).

You’ll also see a large tent with a long line of people waiting to enter – that was ONE of the two souvenir stores at the Jamboree, and the line was pretty constant all day long.

You’ll also see some medical tents, A LOT of porta-johns, and lots and lots of scouts, doing all manner of activities including rappelling, archery, shooting rifles, riding BMX bikes, etc. I regretfully failed to capture one of the most prominent activities at the Jamboree – patch trading. I’m not sure how I missed it, but in some parts of the campground you couldn’t go 10 feet without coming across yet another scout with a blanket spread out, with all manner of patches spread out on display for trade. Scouting doesn’t allow the boys to “sell” their patches, but they are allowed to trade for them – and trade they do! My son was able to get a complete “Star Wars” set, and everyone seemed to be looking for the elusive “HALO” Set of patches (on the right).

Attending Jamboree is, for most scouts, a once in a lifetime opportunity – they are typically held every four years, a scout must have achieved the rank of First Class to attend, and no scouts can attend after their 18th birthday, except as an adult leader or staff member at the event. Happily, the next Jamboree is in three years (they held back on this Jamboree so it could coincide with the 100th Anniversary of Scouting in America), and my son has every intention of attending the 2013 Jamboree at The Summit Bechtel Family National Scouting Reserve in West Virginia.

Mike Rowe, host of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, gave a wonderful speech about his scouting experience (after making a GRAND ENTRANCE in the bucket of a massive front end loader):

Many folks complained about President Obama not attending the Jamboree in-person, but I’ll be honest, I can’t imagine a better speaker than Mike Rowe on that night, for those boys. A politician – any politician – would have polarized the audience, Mike Rowe, as they say, knocked it out of the park that night.


YouTube Videos: Scenes from the 2010 National Scout Jamboree and Mike Rowe at BSA 2010 Jamboree The Sun Sets on the 2010 National Scout Jamboree National Scout jamboree (Boy Scouts of America) and Borscht Belt entries

The Jewish Week: Be Prepared … And Keep The Sabbath Memo to Media: Obama is not “the first sitting president to appear on a daytime talk show”


January 13, 2011

My mom and dad went to a memorial service

Filed under: Human Interest,Politics — Ken @ 5:39 am

At least some attendees at the Tucson Shooting Memorial Service were given T-shirts.

This raises a lot of troubling questions in my mind – who thought that was a good idea? When were they ordered? Who paid for them? These T-shirts are going to be a big distraction in my opinion.

January 7, 2011

January 6th

Filed under: Human Interest — Ken @ 12:43 am

It’s been a few days, but here are a few quick hits for the day that just was – January 6th:

On this day in 1838 Samuel Morse successfully demonstrated his telegraph.

On this day in 1994, Olympic-hopeful figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed on her right leg by the ex-husband of one of her competitors, Tonya Harding.

On this day in 2001, Presidential hopeful Vice President Al Gore presided over the certification in Congress that George W. Bush was the winner of the 2000 Presidential election.

Source: On This Day at the New York Times website.

January 6, 2011

With their cell phones in hand…

Filed under: Human Interest — Ken @ 6:27 pm

A few days ago I wrote a short piece about one boy in Florida who risked his life and saved a family that was unaware of their house being on fire, well, tonight from the nation’s capital another story involving kids, but this time they didn’t do the right thing…

It seems a couple of kids (and apparently their friends) had nothing better to do, so they decided to pick on a lone grown-up, viciously attacking him for no other reason than either because they could get away with it OR they wanted to make a video (maybe both). While these two kids incomprehensibly went after Allen Heywood, several by-standers did little more than step back for a better shot and pulled out their camera phones – the rest simply either stepped back or walked away.

This attack occurred at L’Enfant Metro Station, and while you can possibly come up with reasons why folks on the platform didn’t want to get personally involved in this altercation, it seem no one on the platform could screw up enough courage to pick up one of the “emergency” intercoms located around the platform, inform the station master of the attack, or dial 911 on their cell phone and summon the police.

There is a great wrote-up of the actual attack over at – suffice to say that reading this account, and watching the video makes me think that something is terribly wrong with many of our kids today, and with adults as well, because too many adults stood by and watched this next viral video happen in front of their eye…

This isn’t the first time someone was attacked at L’Enfant Metro station:

Three people were taken into custody and four others were injured following a fight that involved some 70 people at the L’Enfant Plaza Metrorail station Friday night.

Source: “Massive brawl at L’Enfant Plaza Metro station leads to injuries, arrests” The Washington Examiner, dated August 8, 2010

If caught, I can think of no greater injustice than to try these “children” as juveniles…

Julian Assange, Master of Irony

Filed under: Human Interest — Ken @ 12:09 pm

It seems that Julian Assange, grand exalted poo-bah of Wikileaks is a little hot under the collar because some of HIS disgruntled staff decided to leak the remaining documents in the recent 250,000 document collection to The Guardian against his wishes, according to a story in Vanity Faire… Huh.

January 3, 2011

The March of Dimes

Filed under: Human Interest — Ken @ 9:37 am

On January 3rd, 1938 President Roosevelt and Dr. Basil O’Connor started the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis to battle Polio, the disease that afflicted not only President Roosevelt but countless thousands of others around the world at that time. What became known as “The March of Dimes” had a dual purpose of not only fighting the disease but also to lend a helping hand to those afflicted with the disease.

The NFIP closed in on a solution to polio thanks to not only countless medical researchers supported by March of Dimes grants, but also to energetic staffers like Elaine Whitelaw, who cultivated volunteers nationwide, and Charles Bynum, an African-American educator who recognized that polio care was also a civil rights issue. The greatest promise, however, came in a breakthrough at the University of Pittsburgh by a young physician whose name soon became a household word as a symbol of hope. A March of Dimes grantee, Jonas Salk, MD, pressed forward from a routine virus typing project to the creation of a vaccine that spelled the end of polio in a matter of years. Tested in a massive field trial in 1954 that involved 1.8 million schoolchildren known as “polio pioneers,” the Salk vaccine was licensed for use on April 12, 1955, the very day it was announced to the news media as “safe, effective, and potent.” Many had labored diligently to reveal how poliovirus functioned and how to stop it, but no accomplishment seemed as dramatic and instantly newsworthy as the Salk vaccine. From this point, polio declined rapidly from tens of thousands of new cases per year to a mere handful; a fearsome disease had been put to rest by the sustained efforts of millions of volunteers, coordinated by the NFIP.

Source: March of Dimes website

But Polio persists, with 1,315 cases in 2007, and 1,652 reported cases in 2008 despite the availability of the vaccine, why is this?

So, why haven’t we eradicated polio yet? Part of it is about polio’s specific characteristics as a virus. Multiple vaccinations are needed for full protection from the polio viruses.

The largest part of the challenge, however, is just the challenge of childhood vaccinations. It takes a lot of health system effort to provide childhood vaccinations, both in terms of cost and in terms of time and capacity.

In order to immunize a population, you need health care providers who know how to provide vaccinations. You need a sufficient supply of vaccines, syringes, and a distribution system to get them to the providers. You need a way to keep the vaccines cold, and therefore effective, until they are given. You need access to children – either by going to them, or having them come to a health facility. You also need parental permission for the vaccination.

All of those health system factors tie into larger structural concerns. Parental permission is dependent on faith in the health system, which depends on faith in government. A cold chain requires safe and reliable travel. Health care providers need to get paid. That’s a lot of points for failure.

It’s those points of failure that have kept us from eradicating polio

Source: website

Having effectively completed it’s original mission, finding a vaccine for Polio, the March of Dimes moved on to apply the same grass-roots efforts to help combat other infant illnesses. In 1958, Mr. O’Connor announced the organization would focus on birth defects prevention, and then by the 1970s, the March of Dimes focus on prevention of birth defects and infant mortality began to encompass the problems of premature birth and low birthweight as well.

January 2, 2011

When Other Kids Reach For Their Camera

Filed under: Human Interest — Ken @ 1:34 pm

When other kids reach for their cameras when they see people in danger and dream of YouTube fame, others jump to answer the call. This brave 16 year-old ran towards a burning house and saved a family’s lives.

When asked where he learned how to act in such a situation, he answered simply “I’m an Eagle Scout“.

September 16, 2010

Going Green – on Horseback

Filed under: Human Interest — Ken @ 3:09 pm

Roby Burch riding Jet to Haverford School outside Philadelphia. PA

Our friends over at Drudge Report brought this story from the Philadelphia Inquirer about a high school student outside Philadelphia that rides a horse to school each day.

From the article:

Burch, a sophomore at the Haverford School, has been riding Jet, his big white Percheron, four miles to and from school since early this month. In his blue blazer and tie, jeans, boots, and spurs, he’s an urban cowboy who’s bringing the flavor – and aroma – of the West to the elite private school.

There were challenges: picking the right route to school, picking the right horse, providing for the horse during the school day, and then getting up very early for school, but Burch has overcome them all. His dad Bob and he scouted out the best route, and they decided Roby should ride Jet, a Percheron that came from Lancater, PA and is used to traffic. To provide for Jet while Roby’s in class, they convinced the headmaster (who then had to convince his wife) that the best spot would be near the Headmaster’s house, and the family helped build the corral where Jet awaits Roby’s return each night after football practice at 5:45. So far, leaving for school at 6:00 AM hasn’t been a problem.

His father, Bob, …says Roby is an excellent horseman who can take care of himself. But his mother – well, she’s a mother, so she worries.

“I always have my heart in my throat when he leaves,” she says, adding that friends in the neighborhood call or e-mail her as Roby passes their houses.

Young Roby has become the talk of the town, and for all the right reasons… Read the entire story here.

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