Yesterday was Bucktail printing and today was Bucktail assembly.  Bucktails had to be labeled in the past, but with the power of mailmerge in MS Publisher that is no longer required.  I’ve done this for three years and each year I have to re-invent a way to do it.  I hope I’m at least getting faster at it each time.   I got home and slept for a few hours but was still very tired from the miles of walking I had done as shown by my Fitbit activity log:

Each spike is me running a lap around the building and that morning is about five to six miles of walking.  Next time, I think I’ll just set up a baby monitor and see if I can hear the silence of a printer having jammed.

The assembly at the lodge meeting went well and everyone helped, including people who traditionally just watch.  I miss the simple satisfaction of cases where everyone has a task and every task has someone working on it.  Maybe it’s time to start running Scout events again.

The Bucktail is my combination trophy piece/albatross in the Order of the Arrow.  The printing of this annual newsletter is preceded by months of requesting content and receiving none followed by a few days of frantic assembly and finally printing.  I received no Chief’s report, not committee reports save one, and two chapter reports, making this year’s edition a shadow of the publication that once rivaled the New Yorker, in my youth, in my head.   These scant articles fit nicely onto two pages and became a wrapper for the stack of forms and notices we were sending our members which totaled 14 page faces.  These 14 page faces were to be sent to 800 people plus 50 spare copies netting 12000 page faces to be printed.  Our office printers go about 20 ppm for a total print time of 600 minutes minus any hiccups.  I had no intention of staying 10 hours late at work so I started producing copies on all six large printers on the second floor of my workplace.   I quickly lost three of these printers to various outstanding maintenance issues I didn’t have the tools to solve then leaving me with three printers each in different wings of my building.

As midnight rolled around and my eyes got heavy, I set myself a 20 minute alarm whereby I’d take a nap, then check on the printers, fix any issues, and check to see if anyone had popped back into work who might notice.  I finished around 8 AM after losing a few hours to two fuser replacements and stubbled home with roughly .72 good-sized trees worth of paper.  And some people have had the audacity to say I’ve quit Scouting.

The fudge from yesterday was quite good.  Not “salvage an otherwise shitty day” good, but nonetheless good.

I headed to Chris Fosmire’s house with the parts of the Bucktail for assembly and adviserly merriment.  I got there and laid out the parts and 1/2 the group assembled inserts while the rest of the group folded.  If I had my stuff together, I would have collated the center sheets and either stapled them or at least sorted them.  Midway through, we realized that some of the households were to receive two copies of the newsletter which happened because of a glitch in my formula for determining if the two people had the same address.  Finally, someone noted that some of the content was cut off by the fold because of how much paper was in the middle.  I was hoping this was going to be my last Bucktail, the magnus opus of newsletter generation for Ajapeu Lodge and the last time I’d have to fabricate content on behalf of a youth but I can’t let my legacy end with such obvious flaws.

I look forward to seeing what I will have done wrong in 2012 to keep me on until 2013.

Part of the reason I like working with the Order of the Arrow so much is that what I do for them is very discrete, I take pictures, run auctions, update web pages, and publish the lodge newsletter: The Bucktail.  This gives me a bit of a soapbox for my views and I have no hesitation in using it.  This year, I waged war with fonts.

From the 2010 drop list:  “The following brothers have failed to pay their 2010 dues and will be dropped at the end of the calendar year.  They have been listed in shameful Comic Sans.”
From the 2011 drop list:  “The following brothers have not yet paid their 2011 dues and must pay to maintain active status in the lodge.  They have been listed in the respectful but unremarkable Century Schoolbook.”

I dropped “shameful” from the final copy but were space available I would have listed fully paid members in Tahoma and those who’ve paid ahead for 2012 in a fine Garamond (ligatures are what separate men from animals) or even the timeless Bodoni.

Putting together the paper Bucktail is the most annoying single OA task I do during the year.  I receive insufficient content and have to start fabricating expanding on other people’s work and checking factual accuracy out the wazoo.  We blow hundreds of dollars in postage, paper, and printing and I have only so many pieces of useless Scout/OA trivia in me to align spaces.  My most recent problem was that I had to kill a page on the back of a form.  I won’t put useful content there so, in a bolt of inspiration, I went through old Bucktails and found a word find from yesteryear.  Everything was fine except that the name of the then lodge adviser was a target.  Luckily, the current lodge adviser’s name has the same number of letters so I just swapped the two… until I realized that some of the crossing words may break, so I had to solve the word search to check.  I hope we never issue a lodge history cryptogram.