While on a low-carb diet, I have made friends with most of the diabetics that work at OSR. This week, I brought in low-carb creme brûlée and it started a discussion:

Me: So, how did you like the creme brûlée?
Diabetic Staff Member: It was great, and knowing it was low calorie made it even better.
Me: It’s not low calorie in any way.
Diabetic Staff Member: But you said it was good for diabetics.
Me: Yes, it has 3.4 grams of net carbohydrates. That’s pretty low compared to normal creme brûlée.
Diabetic Staff Member: How many calories were in it?
Me: About five hundred.
Diabetic Staff Member: Oh, I guess I shouldn’t have two in a day. It’s good to know it’s only 3.4 grams though. It’s hard to keep to my limit.
Me: What’s that?
Diabetic Staff Member: 200 grams a day.  What do you keep to?
Me: Twenty.

Although I had been gone for two weeks, everyone at work had stories to tell me as if we’d not seen each other for a decade. One fellow told me of his adventures spearfishing and how messy it was. I asked if you could just aim for the brain and be done with it quickly and was told “Terry, the brain of a fish is the size of a pea. If you miss a little, you’ll hit it in the eye which is a hard place to pull a steel dart from. In spearfishing, there are no head shots”.

I worked late and went straight from work to Ockanickon without a chance to change. I was wearing a purple shirt that I thought made me look like a blueberry but everyone seemed to think it was a bold fashion move. One staff member looked at me and said “pooh, my name’s Terry and I’m from Dubai.” Good to know I have a shirt should I need to blend in with a gaggle of Emeratis.

Today was the first Magic tournament of the season at Ockanickon and it was nice to catch up with the staff members that perennially help. Dave Scherr was still Commander Giggles and Sean Applegate was still a skilled apiarist as proved by the following:

Sean: Terry.
Me: Yes?
Sean: I had a swarm split the other day.
Me: What’s that involve?
Sean: You have to get the groups of bees to split off so that there’s enough space between the queens for the workers to not go nuts.
Me: How do you do that?
Sean: I put the bees in a box and moved them to a new hive. If you get enough bees in one spot they kind of flow over each other into a river of bees.

A river of bees. That’s a level of Dante’s Inferno, I think.


The above is an unremarkable shot of a deer.  I took it while at camp with my 70-200mm lens and was glad the deer came out clearly.  So, just a picture?

Prior to it being taken, the deer had stood in the puddle for about 20 minutes alternatively jumping up and down then squatting and peeing.  Periodically it’d glance at me and the others on our walk but it mostly just jumped and tinkled.

Deer Butt!

So, this is probably a better representation of our interactions with the deer.

The last Magic tournament of the season is usually a festive affair as Week #8 is usually low on Scouts and high on grim determination when it comes to the staff.  During the setup, a CIT was loafing and I asked him to help set-up or leave, he replied “and if I don’t?” to which I cocked my head to the side and said “we do it again next week.”  Doing so would be patently impossible, but the person in question knew I was a volunteer, and volunteers tend to do crazy things so he chose to start moving chairs than try his luck.

The event itself was unremarkable and I spent most of it asking overly probing questions to an adult to does XML metadata management for the Department of Justice and after 20 minutes of working specifically to do so I got him to say “there is nothing we do that directly benefits the public”.  I cut the price of all singles in half and a kid who’d been at an event earlier in the season noted:

Kid: If I wait even longer, will the prices go down again?
Me: At the end of the evening, I raise the price to twice an eight of their sell price.  So you better buy now.
Kid: *his eyes lit up* Yes.

The staff realized I had checked out when I started throwing product at staff members.  They, again, thought I was crazy but I set aside 5% of prize packs to give to staff who give up their Tuesdays to help.

All in all, about 300 kids participated in a tournament this year, bought $1800 in singles, and we had only 1 trip to the health lodge.  I don’t know why the kid went to the health lodge, just that week 5 a kid in the sealed draft event held up his product shaking and saying “can I go to the nurse?”

I’ve run tournaments at summer camp for 10 years now and I think this will have been my last one.  Thanks to the staff and campers that have made bringing Magic: The Gathering to Ockanickon Scout Reservation largely delightful and rewarding.  Joe, and Anthony, you’re machines.

For the past three years I’ve done a promotional video for Ockanickon, initially to fill a gap when an offer to film one by some third party fell through and I volunteered to do one on condition that someone else provide the raw material.  This year I received 3800 pictures from the photography crew at camp, more than I received in any other year  and coupled with my new SSD I was looking to make short work of the promo.  I quickly encountered difficulties:

  • 1200 shots were simply out of focus.
  • 800 were improperly illuminated.  My favorite being those of night activities where the flash caught only a single white object like a shoe or volleyball in the dead stillness of night.
  • 700 depict a single child staring at something, completely bored, or with an indeterminate activity involving a book or pencil.
  • 600 involved volleyball, the volleyball tournament, or sitting around Totem lodge.
  • Golf, horseback riding, rafting, law, dining hall program, the health lodge, mountain biking, CPR and all other leader training had no pictures taken of them at all.
  • Ecology only had pictures of people washing their hands.
  • Eagle only had pictures of kids staring into the distance or doing a dog pile.
  • Handicraft had 4 pictures, but they were quite nice.

I faked a picture of mountain biking by doing a ridiculous crop + rotation on a guy passing by Neshaminy camp site.  Also, I found a wonderful picture of adults engaged in a whipped cream eating contest where if you rotate it and crop out the kids it looks like a group of village elders climbing a glacier with their beards.

I reduced the pool to about 140 usable images that met my requirements and made a video.

Next year I’m either going to provide a shot list or stage everything after the fact at my house.

Every OA auction I do comes with a standard boat of personal terrors as, while I do research on each item with the assistance of some long-memoried fellows I still have a largely extemporaneous style that can theoretically get me into trouble.  I’m terrified of a Freudian slip or two words coming too close together and forming an ethnic slur and a dedicated team of braincells scan for such things.  A second set of fears is picking a bad minimum bid. $3 is cheap, $5 is normal, $8 is special, $20 is expensive/established price and I refuse to reduce the starting price once announced.  If I miss, I miss.

Bids were sluggish so I moved to a popular item, a grab mug.  I raised it stating the opening bid at $5.   Only one person bid and it sold for $5.  Historically, this means nothing as grab mugs were once sold at a fixed price of $3 consisting of a $1 mug and two or three $0.50 to $1.00 patches, but I’m somewhat proud of getting $12-$18 for these so $5 represented a crisis of confidence.  I was a bit shaken but moved on eventually returning to another mug.  This time, I did exactly what I did last time but mentioned that the mug was rare in that it had a blue fleur-de-lis but was a Boy Scout mug.  Hands shot up and I was redeemed.

The title bar at the OSR webpage changes randomly with each page load with a new 150×1300 image.  This is a very odd aspect ratio but sometimes photos turn out well in this very horizontal focus.

Original before crop.


Cropped version of the above.

I this works pretty well.  Other times, it fails spectacularly and in a way I don’t know until after I do the upload.

Good left-to-right focus across the kids, extraneous stuff at the top and bottom, what's the worst that could happen?


Big Brother is Watching You

For about 4 hours the above image could have possibly greeted anyone going to the OSR page until I nearly shat myself on experiencing it.

During Saturday retreat I took a pano of the staff both at parade rest and saluting the flag and was rewarded with my planning a gap into attending units I got these:


2010 Camp Staff

I then decided to a print of the above which turned into a 13″ x 82″ print.  I started the print around 1:00 AM and finished around 4:00 AM.  The actual print time was about 15 minutes, so why the delay?  The Epson R2880 is a spectacular printer which has generated prints I feel that I was only tangentially involved in taking.  The problem I kept running into was that every time there was a printer error like forgetting to tell the printer to use the fed roll stock and in all cases the printer would clear… all 82″ which would have to be rerolled… by hand.

In the end, the print came out splendidly except that there are few good ways to view or display an 82″ print.  So, I set two records: one for largest print I ever produced at home and another for having wasted the most ink.

Camp changed its check-in method from previous years where incoming campers were directed to two processing sites to one where processing was done within the site.  By and large, the method worked with the caveat that the first week had lower than normal attendance with an unusually high number of troops that had been at camp before.  Most people finished earlier than with the previous process but, as with all changes, there will still complaints:

  • The changed method didn’t require two people to “get a good look at everyone into the camp” (whatever that means)
  • The changed method reduced the chance for spontaneous song as large groups of people were no longer waiting in the sun
  • The changed method increased radio chatter and some people preferred “quiet Sundays”
  • The changed method vastly increased a staff member’s average distance between themselves and their refrigerated Diet Mountain Dew

The last one was my complaint.