Saturday the Pathfinders fanned out over a neighborhood in South Concord distributing empty grocery bags with notes stapled to them. The note was an appeal for them to donate non-perishables for the needy.

Then on Sunday after our Pathfinder meeting we went back to that neighborhood to collect the donations. It was a pretty decent haul.

Food Drive

Food Drive

Not everyone was able to join us in the afternoon, so this photo shows only about half the kids in the club.

Tropical storm Nicole is currently passing through New England. While I was at work I heard a tremendous noise, turned to look out my window, and saw a huge wall of leaves blowing towards the office. It was a huge gust of wind, and that was followed by a brief power outage and a downpour. The power came back in less than a minute, but then went out again before that same minute was up. Then it returned again.

I started thinking about the one remaining tent I have pitched in my yard. I didn’t think it would stand for a gust like that. Either we didn’t have one here at the house, or I was wrong, because when I got home, the tent was still there. It’s sure not any dryer, but at least it’s still intact.

The rain is supposed to end sometime tonight. I hope it does, because I’m sending the Pathfinders out tomorrow to distribute plastic bags as phase one of our annual food drive. We’ll go back through the neighborhoods and collect the (hopefully full) bags again on Sunday.

Today after work my mission was to get permission for the Pathfinders to sell fruit at Sam’s Club as well as at two Walmarts (Concord and Tilton). I went to Sam’s first and spoke to the same person who was so helpful to us in November. She gladly put our name on her calendar and seemed happy that we had done well last week,

Then I went to the Concord. I was expecting that it would work out about the same, because the form I filled out at Sam’s also had the name “Walmart” on it. From that I concluded that it was a uniform policy that applied to all their stores, if not across the country, then at least across the region. But that conclusion was incorrect. Walmart handed me a different form which wanted to know all kinds of details about who we were, what we wanted to do, what we would do with the money we raised, how we benefit the community, etc. I filled all of that in and gave them the form. They said they’d be in touch. Hrmmm. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but not completely discouraging either.

Then I headed to Tilton. I didn’t know if it would be a Sam’s experience, one like the Concord Walmart, or something different. It was something different. They told me I had to submit a request in writing on our organization’s letterhead. “OK! Thanks!” I said, but on the inside I was rolling my eyes. We don’t even have letterhead. But we can make some. And I guess we will.

Anyhow. Subject change.

This morning I got a call from a lady in Concord who wanted to donate some food. She told me she had missed the pickup time and wanted to know if it was too late. I told her that we could still accept food donations, got her address, and drove over there to pick it up during my lunch break. She didn’t live in the area where we distributed bags, but that’s OK with me. We had another person do that last year, only they seemed really put out that we didn’t hit their neighborhood. I’m glad and thankful that people respond to these requests though.

This marks my last post in November. The goal was to post every day this month, and with this post, I have done that (plus one – I posted twice in one day a little while back). So I guess I’m an official NoBloPoMo something or another now. That means I get to show one of these: Yay me!

Today I led the Pathfinders back into the neighborhood where we distributed bags for the food drive yesterday. Some streets gave a lot, and some gave very little. I don’t know what the difference is. It didn’t seem to be related to their affluence.

Collecting the bags took about an hour, and then everyone hauled them back to the church. I had set up several tables and put signs on them. The first three or four tables had no signs, and that’s where all the food was placed. Behind those I had two tables labelled “Canned Food” and “Dry Food.” Then behind those were tables labelled “Canned Fruit,” “Canned Vegetables,” “Canned Beans/Chili,” etc. I had one group of kids moving the stuff off the first wave of tables onto the second, and two more groups to further sort them onto the tables in the back. Then we took the bags and loaded the food into them.

You might be surprised at how much Jello we got. I know I was.

I went back to the food closet, but it didn’t look to me like there was enough room back there for all the food we had collected. I decided we would wait on shuffling it back there until I can get a hold of Sharon, our Community Services Director.

Afterwards, we had some popcorn, fruit, and animal crackers, and then we started our regular Pathfinder meeting. Eating during the meeting was a mistake, as the kids left crumbs everywhere. So we had to vacuum before we did much of anything else, otherwise, we’d have had ground-in-crumbs all over the floor.

I taught the Disaster Response honor tonight, since that’s what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and also, we had a bunch of food to sort. We used the technique I learned at the seminar last weekend, and that worked out pretty well. I’m fairly convinced that we could mount a respectable, smooth-running donations collection point if we ever need to. We weren’t numbering stuff, but that would be a pretty small leap from what we did do. All in all, I’d say it went very well.

After potluck today, I had the Pathfinders assembling the plastic bags and letters for our food drive. I had 11 kids and 6 adults (including myself). We divided into five groups and hit the neighborhood.

Sometimes people just astound me. The kids I had with me were knocking on doors, but if no one answered, they’d just leave the bag hanging on the door. But every now and then when someone answered, they’d refuse to take a bag. “No, sorry. We’re not going to do that this year.”

Who are these people? Who would refuse to even take a bag? All we were asking for was a can of food. That’s about $0.69 at the grocery store.

Oh well. We are still polite to people even if they don’t want to take a bag. Tomorrow we’ll go back through there and collect the food.

Tomorrow after church, I will lead the Pathfinders on a food drive, so there are plenty of things that I need to do before then so we can be ready.

Can Collecting is done in two phases. During the first we distribute bags with letters stapled to them. The letters explain what we’re doing, and how the recipient of said bag can help. Phase two is when we go around and collect the bags.

In the morning I need to make 300 copies of the letter (I bought some orange paper for this) so the kids can staple them onto the bags. I also need to prepare maps so I can hand them out to the drivers, and I need to figure out which kids are going with which drivers. Each driver will also need copies of the medical release forms in case of emergency. So I have some photocopying to do tomorrow.

Two years ago when we did this, we were working the collection phase, when one of the kids (a first-year member) went up to a house, looked in the bag on the porch, and then returned to the car without it. Here’s how that went:

Girl: I don’t think that one was for us.
Me: Did it have food in it?
Girl: Yes.
Me: Then I think it is for us. Who would leave food in a bag on their back porch on the very day we’re collecting cans for a food drive?
Girl: I dunno.
Me: Go get the bag.

She went and got the bag. When we got back, we were sorting the food, and we found one that had tulip bulbs in it. And fertilizer. It only took me a couple of moments to realize what had happened. She thought the tulip bulbs were onions, so when I asked if there was food in the bag, she thought there was.

We had stolen someone’s gardening supplies.

The next day I returned to the house where we had found the bulbs. There were bags of mulch piled up along the sidewalk, and all kinds of gardening evidence. I rang the bell, but I secretly heaved a tremendous sigh of relief when no one answered. I put the bag of bulbs (and fertilizer) back on the porch and made a hasty retreat.

Hopefully, we will not repeat that error this year.

Now I know why I was having such fits terminating those Ethernet cables at the school. It was most definitely the RJ45 jacks themselves. This picture tells the story:

Cat6 vs Cat5e

Cat6 vs Cat5e

The Cat6 jack (which is supposed to be better) is on the left, and a Cat5e jack is on the right. Note the cavernous uh… cavity in the Cat6 jack, vs the rounded channels milled into the Cat5e jack. To use these, you’re supposed to strip the jacket on the cable, lay the eight wires out straight (and in the correct order), insert them into the jack, and then use a crimp tool to drive some tiny blades down into the wires. You can see the blades pretty easily on the left. Those pierce the insulation on the wire and make a connection. Unless the wires move out of place since there’s nothing to hold them there. As in the Cat6.

I went to Home Depot tonight and bought a pack of 50 Cat5e RJ45’s. I also looked that the Cat6 RJ45’s they had, but I could tell they were pretty much exactly like the ones I’ve already got – no channels to hold the wires in place. So I opted for the Cat5e’s.

So… now we know!

I got a call last night after the food drive. It was a woman letting me know that we “missed” a bag at her mother’s house. She gave me the address, and the first thing I thought was, “We didn’t distribute bags in that neighborhood!” That’s when the woman chastised me for not distributing a bag to her mother’s house. We had delivered one to her house, but not to her mother’s, so she called her and told her about it. Umm… that’s why we didn’t pick it up?

I thanked her anyhow and told her I’d drop by at lunch time today. And I did. She had filled a pretty large bag with groceries too. I really am glad that they took such an interest in our food drive, and it would sure have been nice if more people were like that. She probably thought we had about a hundred times more people than we did working the neighborhoods.