It has finally gone live.

This is a project I have been working on since June 2011. Well, unless you include the work I did at Wikibooks starting in October 2005.

There are still a few kinks to work out, but the wiki project I started back in 2005 has been adopted by the Youth Ministries department of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. It started as an unofficial Answer Book, and now it is the Official Answer Book. It has been a long journey, and now it’s finally live.

To be sure, I didn’t do all the work represented at this site, but I did do an awful lot of it (much more than half). It has been and shall remain a community effort.

The impetus for moving this body of work to the NAD’s control was because Wikibooks has a neutral point of view (NPOV) policy. NPOV is not exactly compatible with religion in general, and Pathfinders is a religious organization. The Honors Answer Book was just on the neutral side of the NPOV line, but I wanted to expand it to include an Instructor’s Manual for teaching the new Pathfinder Investiture Achievement curricula. That would have put it well over the line. To this end, I proposed the idea to my friend Mark who serves as the NAD Youth Ministries webmaster. From there it went through several committees at the NAD, and once approved, we had to shepherd it through countless technical hurdles.

But tonight the last hurdle was cleared and it went live.

Last week a friend of mine described this project saying “It will probably be his legacy.” He might be right. If so, it’s a legacy I can be more than just a little happy with.
Moon Shot
I am over the moon!

Yesterday after church I loaded my canoe on top of my car in preparation for a road trip (more on that later). But since it was up there, I figured I ought to go paddling. At first I was thinking I’d do something easy, like Sandogardy Pond. But as the idea germinated, it morphed into a Merrimack River trip. Still easy, because I was planning to put in, paddle upstream, turn around, and take out where I had put in. That neatly solves the problem of getting the car to the take out – but at the expense of having to paddle upstream.

So with the plan all formulated, Beth and I executed. There’s a river access point about five minutes from my house (by car). So off we went. I brought my camera and the GPS, because the closest geocaches to my house that I have not found are all along the river. Why not pick off a few? For good measure, I put the GPS in the camera bag, and put the camera bag in a gallon ziplock (just in case).

The first one was on an island. Beth managed to find it before I had the coordinates entered into the GPS.

Beth signs "Eyes to the Island"

Beth signs “Eyes to the Island”

Beth wanted to learn how to steer the canoe, and since that is mostly done from the stern, we traded seats. I waited until we were finished paddling upstream to do this, as it’s a lot easier to steer when going downstream vs upstream. She was pretty happy that I let her try that.

Beth in the Stern

Beth in the Stern

We had passed two geocache locations, but decided we’d hunt for them on the way back vs on the way up. There were two more on the agenda besides the one on the island. One was in a little cove, and we paddled into it (I did do some of the steering from the bow). We looked and we looked, but we couldn’t find it. So I started trying to get us turned around. There wasn’t quite enough room in the cove to do a 180, and in my attempts to force the boat around, I lost my balance and fell backwards into the gunwales. I don’t know how it even happened, but the next thing I knew, the gunwales were under water, and shortly after that, we were both standing in the river with the canoe next to us.

How embarrassing! I thought I knew how to handle a canoe! The first thing I did was grab my zip-locked camera bag. Whew! The zipper was closed, and the camera bag was dry. I clambered out of the river and put the camera on the bank. Meanwhile Beth was not very happy, and asking me why I had done that. If only I knew sweetie!

I hauled the canoe out of the water and dumped out most of the water. But there was still too much in there, so I waded back into the water and lifted the stern up over my head while the water poured through the scuppers. In short order, the boat was dryer than we were. We reloaded, and set off again to look for cache number three.

Before we got there, Beth had forgotten how upset she was with me. The third cache was located in a tree on a very steep bank, and there was really no place to pull the boat out of the water. So Beth climbed the bank, and I stayed in the canoe to keep it in position.

She searched everywhere, but that cache was nowhere to be seen. She got back in the boat (but had given up on steering by then – and let me have the stern again). We paddled back towards the put-in/take-out.

We passed some irises.

Wild Iris

Wild Iris

She picked a few and pressed them when we got home.

It took me a while to get my wet clothes off. I did that in the kitchen rather than traipsing through the house, mud and all. Then I took a shower. After I was all cleaned up, I looked at poor, poor Penny who did not get to go paddling with us (I’ve tried that before, and it doesn’t work very well – she does not like to stay in the boat).

So I invited David to hike with us to Sandogardy Pond, and he accepted. Penny chased sticks, and David and I talked. At one point he said something like “Your mad botany skills are going to be your undoing.” Maybe he had forgotten about my mad canoeing skills earlier in the day (Beth told everyone!)

I explained to him that I was a “mad botantist” rather than a “mad zoologist” because plants don’t run away when you approach them with a camera. They are a lot easier to work with as subjects!

So here are some of the results of my “mad botany” from the hike.

Dogbane (Apocynum spp)

Dogbane (Apocynum spp)

I don’t remember if this is plain old dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum) or intermediate dogbane (A. medium). I know one of them has reflexed petals (as this one does), but now I don’t remember which one of them that is. And I don’t have my books with me right now, so I can’t look it up. Wikipedia isn’t helping me out here any either.

When we got to the pond I found some grass-leaved arrowhead (Sagittaria graminea).

Grass-leaved arrowhead (Sagittaria graminea)

Grass-leaved arrowhead (Sagittaria graminea)

There’s not a lot of this growing at the pond, but a few always seem to bloom right near the dock.

I was also surprised to find this one:

Pale St. Johnswort (Hypericum ellipticum)

Pale St. Johnswort (Hypericum ellipticum)

The Connecticut Botanical Society says this blooms from July to August. I looked in my records to find the earliest I had seen it in bloom, but couldn’t find any entries. Hmmm. Maybe this is one I learned after I quit being so conscientious about logging.

So all told, it was a good day, even though I dumped my daughter (and my pride) in the drink.

On to today!

Beth, Jonathan, and I set out for our road trip. We are on the way to Kentucky to visit my family, and to go fishing with them in Arkansas. I haven’t been to Dad’s favorite fishing hole in about 19 years. That’s because I don’t really like to fish. Which is why I am bringing the canoe.

Canoe on top, and road beneath

Canoe on top, and road beneath

I do not intend to fish. Instead, I will paddle up and down the Red River and try not to capsize. I used to be pretty good in a canoe, and have run class III rapids in this one on many occasions! So let’s hope that was just a fluke, and not a harbinger of things to come.

Anyhow… we are in a hotel in Waynesboro, VA right now after a pretty long day of driving. When the whole family comes along we don’t usually get this far. We will stay here for two nights, and the NAD will pay for our room. I am meeting my friend Mark O’Ffill, the webmaster for Pathfinders Online, and we are going to work on getting the Pathfinder Honors Wikibook onto a NAD-hosted server so that we can expand it. The plan is to create a new Instructor’s Manual for the new Investiture Achievement curricula, which is more overtly religious than the Honors Answer Book. As such, it cannot adhere to Wikibook’s “Neutral Point of View” (NPOV) policies. The material will still be licensed under the Creative Commons – otherwise we could not do this at all. This project has been in the works for almost a year now, and tomorrow we intend to make some real headway on it.

Meanwhile, what is the rest of the family up to? Va does not want to go fishing OR canoeing. I like to say that “she likes nature, she just doesn’t want to get any of it on her.” 😉 Therefore, she and David (and Penny) will meet us in KY next week after the fishing and paddling is all said and done. But before they arrive, Jonathan will have to head back home. He has an orientation session at UNH to attend (and less vacation at work than I do). So he will drive back before Va and David arrive. As you can imagine, the logistics for this trip have been a challenge!

More bulletins as events warrant!

Tonight on the way home, I stopped at the home of two of my Pathfinders. I wanted to make sure they were both ready to go to Oshkosh with us next week and give them their T-shirts. When I got there, I found that one of them had changed his mind and would not be joining us.

This did not exactly make me happy. They did not buy their tickets because they cannot afford them. Instead, some donors covered that cost for them. Easy come, easy go.

An email went out to all the Pathfinder directors in our conference yesterday, asking if anyone had a ticket (they have been sold out for months). In the back of my mind, I suspected that I might, because this kid has a history of agreeing to do things like this and then backing out. Frankly, if he doesn’t want to come with us, I would rather he no go. So when I got home, I answered that email. Yes, I have a ticket. So now someone who really does want to go will be able to. She can’t afford it either. I did contact our donor and clear it with her before committing the ticket.

In other exasperating news, I got a message from another Pathfinder tonight. He’s on vacation with his family, and they wanted to know what time we were leaving Sunday morning, and if there was anything else they needed to know. Well, there was plenty! Like we want all of their stuff at the church Thursday evening so we can load it up. I do NOT want to be loading stuff on Sunday morning. We have arranged to spend the first night in a church (for free) in Ohio, and I want to get there before 10:00pm. I have asked that they FedEx his stuff to Oshkosh. The other monkey wrench this throws into the works is that I need his medical release form by Thursday too. Filled out and signed. I have to make copies of these – one for each staff member, and each kid wears the original in a plastic badge holder. I need time to make those copies, stuff them in envelopes for the staff, and fold & insert the original into the badge holders. Looks like there will be some faxing in his future.

I killed about 20 Japanese beetles tonight. Plus I killed at least that many Friday, and again on Sunday. These little blighters are doing a number on my green beans. I am probably going to break down and buy some Sevin for them to dine on later this week, as I will not be able to pull them off and crush them when I’m at Oshkosh next week.

While I was out beetle-killing, Beth came out and reminded me that I wanted to go to the library tonight. She had some books that are due tomorrow, and I wanted to go check the place out and get a library card. So we did that. I checked out a book on macrame, and another on house painting. Not that I am all that interested in either. Rather, I would like to learn about them so I can write up some answers to the Macrame and House Painting – Interior honors in my Wikibook project.

My approach will be to actually earn the Macrame honor first, then write it up. I may do the work twice – once to earn the honor, and then again a second time so I can photograph the steps to illustrate the chapter. Of course it would not hurt to photograph the steps the first time either, and if everything turns out OK, I’d be finished. Yeah. I’ll try it that way.

As for house painting, I have done that more than once. I just wanted to see what the professionals had to say about some of the finer points.

I’ve spent a good deal of my time tonight working on my new book, Summer Flowers of Northern New England. I’m a little more than halfway done with the white flowers. Then I have the yellow/orange, red/pink, blue/purple, and green/brown to deal with. There are more white ones than anything else though, so I think it’s fair to say I’m making pretty decent progress. Once it’s finished, I’ll need to convert it to PDF and print it, but that is proving to be an elusive goal. The PDF generator does not have a way for me to force page breaks, and I would really like for each plant to live on its own page. I’ll have to futz around to make that happen.

What I SHOULD be doing is making up a list of all the honors, etc that each Pathfinder will receive this coming Sabbath at Investiture. Then I could email it out to all the staff and have them vet it for me. THEN we can start making up the insignia cards (cardstock with the patches stapled on) and not have to face that mammoth task at the last minute.

Hmmm… maybe I should get busy with that.

I have started a new book at Wikibooks, and named it Summer Flowers of Northern New England. This will be a child’s field guide, and as such will avoid technical terminology. Right now it’s not much more than a list of plants, but as it progresses, I will add photos galore. My goal is to have something presentable before the end of the month.

I was asked to put something like this together by a church member who will be helping to run the children’s program at Camp Meeting. At first I was just going to throw together a photo album, but I think it’ll be better this way. I’m gathering my data from the work I did on the Bloom Clock. We’ll see how it comes along!

Tonight I finished editing the answers for the Māori Lore honor over on Wikibooks. That one took some doing. Go have a look if that sort of thing interests you.

This morning when I got up, I headed straight for the woods to check the sap bucket. I guess I got a half cup of sap overnight. I checked it again when I got home from work and found just what I was expecting: a half cup of sap frozen to the bottom of the bucket. Yup. I watched the thermometer all day from d’web, and it never got above freezing in Northfield. So no sap ran.

That’s good in a way, because it means I didn’t waste much time by tapping the tree too late. I’m confident I will get at least 7 gallons of sap, and that should make about a quart (if it’s made a bit on the thin side using the 30:1 ratio vs the 40:1 – both are cited).

David got sick yesterday, but he appears to be all better today. Beth and I are now the only ones to have not succumbed. I hope we can both escape unscathed. I doesn’t likes to barf!

Today at church a woman brought in a bunch of old books on arts & crafts to give away. I dug through the pile looking for things that might apply to various Pathfinder honors, and scored two volumes. One of them has four pages on enamelling. Another covers cross-stitch.

I’m not personally interested in cross-stitch, but there is a PF honor for that. We don’t just do honors I’m interested in, so I snagged the book. Also, I might hafta teach myself how to cross stitch in case no one else steps up to write the cross-stitch chapter in the Wikibook.

Enamelling is another animal all together. There is a Copper Enamelling honor, and I would very much like to earn that one. Problem is you kinda need a kiln. I found a kiln on yesterday, and emailed about it tonight. It’s over in Newington which is about a two-hour drive. But the price is right, and a kiln would be useful for other honors as well (ceramics and pottery come to mind).

The reason I want to learn to enamel is so I can make a pin featuring the artwork made for my Wikibook project. I would very much like to be able to hand out pins to everyone who has contributed material. I could have them made, but that costs a fortune. Plus it wouldn’t be as much fun. Now all I’ve got to do is hope I hear back from the kiln owner and try my hand at this.

After potluck, Va had an Adventurer’s meeting, and the Pathfinders met to make greeting cards for some gramma’s in our church. The woman who brought these books in to give away sat in on that session and indicated that she would like to get involved in the club. She’ll come to our meeting tomorrow evening, and I am very excited to possibly have her on board.

I met her boyfriend (fiancé?) a few months ago. He lives in Australia and was here visiting. He was once very involved in Pathfinders, and was glad to see so many Pathfinders in our church with lots and lots of honor patches on their sashes. I don’t know what involvement she has had with Pathfindering in the past, but I’m guessing there was some.

I spent some time tonight working on answers to the Māori Lore honor in the Wikibook. This is one that I was able to add a whole lot of information to in the beginning, but then it just got harder and harder. The first requirement is to define 26 Māori words, and that was pretty easy to come by. Then I needed to find (or make) a map showing migration routes, figure out what “the” two Māori religions in use today are, and write about their sleeping customs. I’ve found all of that, and the only task remaining is to make a tukutuku, taking pictures as I go so I can upload them.

This Wikibook thing has been a lot of work!

I finished making a knife sheath tonight.

Leather knife sheath

Leather knife sheath

I was working on writing answers to the Leather Craft – Advanced honor for my Wikibook project, and one of the requirements can be met by making a knife sheath. I didn’t really have a knife that needed a sheath though. Steak knives? No. Pocket knives? No. Utility knives? Nope. I asked my friend Warran (a Pathfinder staff member) if he had a hunting knife that could use a new sheath, and he allowed that he might. So he brought it to me Sunday, and I made this sheath. That was the last thing I needed to do to finish the answers to that honor.

I have still not earned that honor though, as it also requires that six items be made, and in my entire life, I can think of five things I’ve made. Maybe I’ll knock it out soon though, who knows.

This morning Va needed to get up at 5:30 so she could get to school early so they could leave for Boston and visit the New England Aquarium. What I didn’t fully appreciate when she told me that was that she was also expecting that I would set the alarm. Instead we woke up at 6:30, and there was plenty of rushing around after that. Va and Beth ate breakfast in transit. She was not expecting to enjoy the aquarium, and she pretty much got what she expected. The kids enjoyed it though, so I don’t think she’s sorry she went. Her cell phone battery died sometime during the day too, so she couldn’t call me to let me know when she’d be home.

I scored some cardboard from work for our cardboard boat. Manufacturing has some huge brand-new, never-been-used boxes, that they expect they will never use. Cardboard boat-building seemed like the best fate, so I got three of them. They said I could have more if I needed them, and I expect I will. I dropped them off at church before I went home.

When I got home David told me that Jonathan had come down with a serious case of the pukes. I feel bad for him, but what can I do? I’m just glad he doesn’t whine and cry when he gets sick (he never did, even as a baby).

I guess that’s about all that’s worth writing about tonight, and then some!

Over the past couple of nights I’ve been making a sheath for a hatchet. It’s not that I thought I particularly needed a sheath, but rather, I’ve been working on the Leather Craft – Advanced honor in the Wikibook. One of the requirements is to make a hatchet, knife, or ax sheath. Hatchet and axe are similar enough that I decided the instructions for one would cover both.

As I made the sheath, I took pictures of every step. That should make my instructions easier to understand, but it’s taking an eternity to upload all those photos. And uploading seems to eat all our bandwidth too, slowing everything else to a crawl. Oh well. I’d upload a photo of the finished product, but… I’m still uploading images of the UNfinished product right now. If you’re that interested, check out the link above.

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