GoFundMe has soared above $85k for Walter Carr

Bellhops CEO Luke Marklin gives the keys to his car to Walter Carr.

Last night, July 20, I heard the story of Walter Carr.  The kindness of people is so wonderful that I had to share the story.  One of the more informative articles was written by Briana Harris on July 18, 2018.  So instead of rewriting it, I will quote Ms. Harris.

PELHAM – With a broken-down car and only one chance to make a good first impression at a new job, young college student Walter Carr did what he felt like he had to do and walked to work.

But Carr’s simple decision was only the beginning of an inspirational story that includes a 20-mile trek in the darkness, the kindness of local police officers, national acclaim, a new car and more than $62,000 raised via a GoFundMe account.

Chris and Jenny Lamey met Carr when their doorbell rang at about 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 14.  A Pelham police officer told the couple he had picked up “this nice kid” walking along the side of the road before daybreak.

It all started after Carr’s 2003 Nissan Altima broke down and he didn’t have a way to make it to his first day on the job with Bellhops, a moving company.

He used Google Maps to calculate the time it would take to walk from his house to his job assignment – seven hours.  According to Lamey, Carr ate around midnight and headed out on foot in time to make it to work by 8 a.m. where he was set to help the family pack up their belongings and move to a new house.

By about 2 a.m., he’d made his way to Hoover and around 4 a.m. he’d made it Pelham.  It was in Pelham that his journey took an unexpected turn.

Pelham police officer Mark Knighten was the first to encounter Carr walking along the side of the road in Pelham.  Knighten asked Carr if everything was alright and that’s when Carr explained his situation.

Knighten and two other police officers took Carr to get some breakfast and then dropped him off at a church where they thought would be the safest place for him rest for a bit before he had to be at work.

Officer Scott Duffey was just beginning his shift when he heard about Carr’s story.  Duffey went in search of Carr who had already left the church to continue his walk to work.  Duffey picked Carr up and drove him to Lamey’s house.

“We introduced ourselves to Walter and told the officer he was just fine to stay here with us until the rest of the crew arrived,” Lamey said.  “I asked Walter if he wanted to go upstairs and rest until everyone else arrived. He declined and said he could go ahead and get started. So, he began working alongside Chris and I before the rest of the crew arrived.”

Lamey learned that Carr and his mother were transplants forced from their home in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, and that Carr hoped to join the Marines.

Lamey was so impressed with Carr that she took to Facebook to share her encounter with him. Lamey’s post about the story on Facebook has generated about 700 comments, 2,000 shares and 7,000 reactions.

“I just can’t tell you how touched I was by Walter and his journey,” she said. “He is humble and kind and cheerful, and he had big dreams! He is hardworking and tough. I can’t imagine how many times on that lonely walk down 280 in the middle of the night did he want to turn back. How many times did he wonder if this was the best idea. How many times did he want to find a place to sit or lie down and wait til morning when he could maybe get someone to come pick him up and bring him back home. But he walked until he got here! I am in total awe of this young man!”

Lamey also set up a GoFundMe account for Carr that has reached $62,479 in just two days and is continuing to climb.  More than 1,600 people from all 50 states and internationally have donated money to Carr.

According to Lamey, financial advisor Evan Carter with ACG Wealth has volunteered his services to help Carr plan, save and manage the money.

Carr’s journey also reached the ears of Luke Marklin, the CEO of Bellhops.  On Monday, July 16, Marklin decided to travel from Tennessee to Birmingham under the guise of meeting Carr for coffee to personally thank him for his dedication.  But Marklin’s true intention was to surprise Carr by gifting him his own personal car, a 2014 Ford Escape.

Marklin said he was blown away by Carr’s heart and grit.  Carr was speechlees when Marklin handed over the keys to his car.

Lamey said she decided to set up a GoFundMe for Carr after receiving hundreds of messages on Facebook from people wanting to help Carr.  The goal was to raise $2,000 to help him with his car troubles.

Staff Writer Stephen Dawkins of the Shelby County Reporter contributed to this story.

BP Fellowship, Mexico 2018

Attending a Baden-Powell Fellowship Conference is always enjoyable.  I get to see many of my scouting friends that live all over the country and some from other countries.  The Baden-Powell Fellowship is a great program because it supports scouting organizations all over the world that are in need of financial support.  I choose to give to the Baden-Powell Fellowship because of the good work the organization does.


One of the benefits is that yearly, the Fellowship meets in different countries.  This time, 2018, it was in Mexico City.  This is the country with all the interesting Aztec ruins that truly interests my wife.  She really enjoys ruins of all types!  So as part of the pre-fellowship, we visited Teotihuacán, the best known of the Aztec ruins.  This is the location of what is commonly called the Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon, even though neither temple has anything to do with the sun or moon.

Great Pyramid of Cholula

The next day we visited the great pyramid of Cholula.  The Great Pyramid was an important religious and mythical center in prehispanic times.  Over a period of a thousand years prior to the Spanish Conquest, consecutive construction phases gradually built up the bulk of the pyramid until it became the largest in Mexico by volume.  People have dug into the pyramid and you can go underneath parts of the pyramid and see the layers of construction; in other words, the pyramids were built one on top of another.  Today, the pyramid at first looks like a natural hill surmounted by a church.

Templo Mayor
Templo Mayor

An additional site we visited was Templo Mayor.  The site is part of the Historic Center of Mexico City, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.  The Templo Mayor (Spanish for “Main Temple”) was the main temple of the Aztecs in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City.  After the destruction of Tenochtitlan, the Templo Mayor, like most of the rest of the city, was taken apart and covered over by the new Spanish colonial city. The Temple’s exact location was forgotten, although by the 20th-century scholars had a good idea where to look for it.


Another nice afternoon, we spent visiting the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco.  We did not see any floating gardens but it was a nice afternoon with my wife.



Towards the end of the Fellowship, we visited a plaza where Mexican Scouts had taken hundreds of compressed soda cans and made a fleur-de-lis.  We got to go to the top of the building to get a good look; very impressive!

In addition to the tours, there is always a day where scouting information and stories are told.  It is very rewarding to know that so many good things happen in the scouting world.

At the close of the BP Fellowship, the people who have contributed since the last Fellowship are recognized by the King of Sweden (on the right in the picture), the Honorary President and Chairman of the BP Fellowship.  I was honored because I contributed enough to be in the Honors Program.  You can learn more about the Fellowship at this website:  www.worldscoutfoundation.org.

It Started with the Dark-Green Twill Square Knot!

I’ve always believed that when you wear a uniform, you should have all the badges in the right place and they should look nice.  This is especially true when you go to an Eagle Board of Review.  When I was a Scoutmaster, I would often get comments about how nice my Scouts looked when we attended District events.

In Venturing, Crews don’t typically fully uniform as they do in Boy Scouts.  But when one does, I think wearing badges that match the uniform make one look that much sharper.

When Venturing was introduced in 1998, the Venturing community asked BSA if they would reintroduce square knots with green background as they had from 1966-1979.  As you know, BSA said no.  In 2002, while I was attending Powder Horn, I said to my Powder Horn Crew that I was thinking about making square knots with green backgrounds.  Everyone in the Crew fully supported the idea.  So, I had them made for the common knots and they were in high demand.  Scouters no longer had to pay a premium for the original ones on eBay.

I also introduced two additional knots that have been well received.  One for the Ranger award (a copy of the original knot made in 1950-51) and one for the Girl Scout Gold Award.  When Venturing was introduced along with the Ranger award, many were asking for a knot.  The Girl Scout Gold Award knot was motivated by the fact that one of my Crew Presidents had received the award.

Another quality that my knots have is the fact that the knot itself is the same design between all types of square knots; no extra material outside of the border of the square knot; and all are the same size.  BSA has about a half dozen different configuration of square knots and the size of the patches vary.  The point is that BSA square knots are not uniform, mine are.

As a result of my knots being uniform and color coordinated, I have also had many requests to make knots for the Sea Scout uniforms, along with traditional Cub and Boy Scout knots.

Venturing Trained
Venturing Trained

In addition to square knots, I’ve had requests for various TRAINED awards.  At one time, BSA made these patches to match the uniform but now there is only one that matches the Boy Scout uniform.  I stock them for the Venturing uniform in two colors; green and white, and a red one.  I also made them for Sea Scouts, Commissioners, OA, Philmont, NYLT and Cubs.  Thru 2010, I also made trained-like patches for Kodiak and Kodiak X.

Kodiak & Kodiak X
Kodiak & Kodiak X
Sea Scout Trained
Sea Scout Trained












Area VOA






National Venturing Cabinet

One of my more interesting patches is the one I developed for the Venturing Officers Association (VOA) from a request from Joe Garrett in 2006.  In 2008, Northeast Region requested that I make one for the Area VOA.  And then in 2009, the National Cabinet Advisor asked for a design.  The Cabinet was only able to wear it on their pocket that year.  What was really interesting is that BSA came out with the same designs in 2012, while decreasing the quality but increasing the price by 67%.  My standard VOA patches could be used for both Councils and Districts but BSA added the word Council on their patch so there is no longer a patch available for District VOAs from BSA.  Of course, you can get some from me!

I do not do the patch thing as a business.  I use some of the profits to pay for the scouting web sites that I maintain for the benefit of the scouting community.  However, I give most of the profits to international scouting because that is where I spend most of my time.  My most recent donation is going to a project for the street children of Uganda called Scout Donation Platform started by a Canadian Scout group.  You can read about the project here:  https://donate.scout.org/project/97b92a84-5cc5-44ea-9872-30eb1916ac21.  If you can donate to this project, it would be appreciated and I know many would benefit.


Swastikas in Scouting

I wrote an article over a year and a half ago entitled “Swastikas in Scouting.”  I posted it on the Las Vegas International Scouting Museum’s website (www.worldscoutingmuseum.org) as I am their webmaster and they provided much helpful information.  That article has continually been hit by readers from all over the world.  On a recent inspection, people from over 30 countries have visited the site.  The address of the site is www.worldscoutingmuseum.org/swastikas.shtml.

(When the article was first listed, hits from Germany and the Netherlands were a high percentage relative to the above list.)

I never expected such worldwide interest.  My interest came from collecting tokens made by the Excelsior Shoe Company.  The tokens were an advertisement for Boy Scout Shoes.  The tokens were possible because BSA did not receive its charter from congress until 1916 and did not have a patent on many things “scouting” as they now do.  There are many varieties of these tokens and the starting point for viewing is www.sageventure.com/coins/scout.html.  On the reverse of the tokens was a swastika.  At that time, and up until the mid-1930’s, the swastika was a good luck symbol and used by many countries, including the Scouting program.  It was not until Hitler and his Nazis took over Germany and raised their Black Swastika flag in 1935, that the emblem could no longer be used for anything else.

Anyway, I am happy to say that I have provided an article that so many people worldwide have visited.  I hope that the readers interested in the article also have the best of intentions – that they learn the history of the swastika and how it applies to the positive aspects of scouting.

31st APR Scout Jamboree 2017

Jamboree PosterI had a great time at the 31st Asia Pacific Regional Scout Jamboree in Mongolia this past July.  Not only was the jamboree a fun experience but the group of Americans that I met up with were a good group of scouts and scouters.  I expected that I might meet up with my friend who was the contingent leader, Pete Armstrong, in Beijing on our way to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, but I was totally surprised when I got on a bus for transporting passengers from one terminal to another and on the bus were the American scouts and scouters.  I travel in uniform so it was easy for them spot me.  Now, being with the group made it easy for me to get from one end of the long terminal to the departure end because with a group, there were many sign readers!

Beijing airport terminal

The American scouters were Pete Armstrong, the contingent leader and a good friend, and Alan Lepard, a professional scouter, volunteer scouter and Eagle Scout.  In general, I’m not one to write about professional scouters but Alan is an exception.  He’s more than just a great guy; he is both an Eagle Scout and a tireless, generous volunteer scouter.  There were two women scouters, also nurses who were so helpful to me.  I had been in an accident before the jamboree.  Ruthie Rosenstein and Joan Biesksha graciously tended to my wounds.  Another scouter that the scouts admired as a leader was Lisa Gittings.  There were many more excellent scouters, but these stood out in my mind as exemplary individuals.

American Contingent
American Contingent

The scouts that I remember well were Nick, Alan’s son, who I know had a great experience; Carl, Lisa’s son, who I admire for managing well with his broken arm; and Nadine, a Venturer who has attended a number of international jamborees which I really respect.

Nick, Carl and Nadine

Pete had been to a Mongolian Jamboree before so he had a number of friends in Mongolia some of which had come to the U.S. to staff at Philmont and his council summer camp.  This worked out well because we had scouters to pick us up at the airport in Ulaanbaatar and take us to the hotel in the middle of the night – very kind and much appreciated.

The next couple of days we caught up on our sleep and explored the city.  What fascinated me was that if you need technical support for your cell phone, printer or any such device, there were shops that would do the work as you waited.  In the U.S. we just buy new devices; seldom do we repair a device.  I watched them work so quickly and efficiently.  Very impressive!


IST Cabins
IST Cabins

Then off to the jamboree.  The scouts and the leaders checked in and went off to set up camp and since I was on the International Service Team (IST), I was put up in a cabin with a bed.  Wow, did I luck out with a cabin and bed.  I shared the room with two scouters from Australia and a scouter from New Zealand.

Jamboree view from my room

EveryContingent Pinone seemed to have a great time at the jamboree.  Overall, the weather was good.  I designed the patches and pin for our contingent so I had fun trading with other contingents.  During the Contingent Patchtrading, I met so many nice scouters including Reiko Suzuki, the contingent leader from Japan.  She was such a friendly person and it was not until after the jamboree that I learned she had received the Bronze Wolf early this year.  Bronze WolfIt is the highest honor that can be given a volunteer Scout leader in the world.

Scouting in many countries is primarily run by volunteers.  Countries like Mongolia do have a few paid scouters but not highly paid like BSA scouters.  For this reason, I chose to give to the Mongolian Scout Association and in return, they awarded me with the Silver Falcon.  The Falcon is their national bird.  The presentation was done at a nice dinner in a fancy Mongolian ger (Mongolian word for yurt) and also presented to my two friends Pete Armstrong and Chinchu Chen from Taiwan for their donations.

Silver Falcon
Pete, Chen & Craig

There were a number of nice evening shows at the jamboree.  Everyone would gather and because there where viewing screens, everyone could see all the presentations.  It was very well done.

Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan

At the close of the jamboree, Pete’s Mongolian friends took us back to the hotel in Ulaanbaatar.  We would spend the next three days touring parts of Mongolia before taking the train to Beijing.  On one of those days, we took an interesting bus ride to Genghis Khan, the world’s largest equestrian statue.  It was too bad that that was probably the worst weather day we had.  That evening we slept in gers.

Mongolian Gers
Mongolian Gers
Train to Beijing
Leaving for Beijing

Our train ride to Beijing was long but interesting.  Along the way we saw wild herds of two-hump camels and yaks.  At the border, they had to change the rail wheels because they were a different gauge between Mongolia and China.  That took a good while but during that time, the Chinese could check luggage and all those other boarder things.  We traveled in cars with beds so we were able to get some sleep during the long train trip.

Camels we saw on the way to Beijing
Yaks we saw on the way to Beijing

When we arrived in China, the tour company that we had given a deposit to did not have the train schedule and apparently had not made our hotel reservations.  It was really looking bad but when we did made contact with them, they tried to put us in a dump of a hotel.  I must say that Pete stood his ground and in the end, all turned out well as we stayed in a Holiday Inn.

In China, we did the normal touring; Forbidden City, Great Wall and several other interesting Chinese structures.  I had a great time with a group of nice people.  A trip I will long remember.

Chris Hagerty, A True Scouter

I met Chris in 2012 at the American Tall Ship Institute in Oxnard.  We had both been invited to learn about their mission and that was definitely right up our areas of interest.

“Our mission is to encourage positive youth and community development through environmentally aware, hands on, ocean-based programs aboard tall ships and in our boat building shop.”

Chris was very involved in Sea Scouting and Venturing with his units in Arroyo Grande and I was an Assistant Council Commissioner (ACC) for Venturing.  I had taken Seabadge back in 2004 because Sea Scouts were part of the same senior scouting program at that time.

It was a very informative day and a pleasure meeting Chris as I could see the enthusiasm that he had for all of scouting.  It was the day that would establish a long-term friendship.

Sometime in the next year, Chris got involved with the Corps of Discovery (COD) (www.sagethinking.org/corps-of-discovery/) with more enthusiasm that anyone that I had known.  I believe it was because the COD was a service society and that is what Chris was all about.  He took it upon himself to write the first and second handbook for the COD.  He then created the Corps of Discovery Founder’s Award in 2015Chris Hagerty Founders Award (www.thecorpsofdiscovery.org/founders.html).  He presented the award to Joe Garrett, me, and Matt Petrick for his service as a youth in 1999.  Joe and I have renamed the award to the Chris Hagerty Founders Award and have awarded Chris as the fourth recipient.

Chris was not just involved in the COD.  He was an advocate of the Boy Scouts of America and, in the last few years, the Baden Powell Service Association.  Of course, there were the scouting programs which were dear to his heart, but any way he could provide service to others, he would; whether it was with youth or some event that involved Dutch oven cooking.

I will always remember Chris, as he was a true scouter and I love that type of person.  They give and don’t expect anything in return.  I will miss him and his phone calls.  It’s hard to let such a young man go.

Water Parks

I love water parks.  The one close to me is Raging Waters, San Dimas, California.  The best time I had was many years ago when I got to go with my grandson and we held hands most of the day.  A memory a grandparent will never forget.

Recently, I learned about a very unique water park in San Antonio, Texas.  The story on CBS was about a father who created a special water park for his daughter who was physically challenged.  The water park featured activities that were accessible by kids in wheelchairs.  What an outstanding feature!  It brought tears to my eyes seeing all the kids, challenged and otherwise, having such a great time.  You can read the details on the CBS web site.

I’m Glad I’m a Veteran

I was fortunate that, during the Viet Nam era, when I got out of Navy boot camp I was sent straight to the Pentagon.  I already had a B.S. degree in Mathematics with training in computer science, and there were few with that skill-set back in 1969.

While in the Pentagon, I worked for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.  My most significant programming responsibility was to code a communist land movement model written by a Captain in the Air Force.  The Captain and I worked together well as I had the math skills to read all his work, and could run all the needed scenarios.

I only had to serve two years active duty, coming out of boot camp as E-2 and leaving as E-4.  The Navy requires two additional years of reserve duty, so when I started graduate school I joined a reserve unit.  Quickly, I was promoted to E-5 and found the extra money useful while going to school.  I can’t remember the details any longer, but I was offered a direct commission in the field of security because of my math background, and became an Ensign.   A couple years later, I was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade.  However, shortly after that, because of budget cuts, the government decided to pay officers only half-pay for attending reserve meetings.  In 1977, I finished my Ph.D. and got a good paying job, so I dropped out of the reserves.

Everyone seems to have so much respect for veterans these days, as it should be.  This is so much different than the Viet Nam era.  Of course, today is Memorial Day, a day to memorialize those who lost their lives serving our country.  I was fortunate when I was in the service getting a job where I could contribute to saving the lives of Americans.  How lucky I was compared to so many others who were sent off to Viet Nam and never returned.

Today we honor those fallen who were not so fortunate but I also want to close by thanking two great scout friends who spent their career in the military, Jim Shannon and Pete Armstrong.

Antiquities of Egypt and Jordan

Visiting Egypt and Jordan proved to be the great fulfillment of a high-priority bucket list trip for my wife and me.  With a group of 30 fellow travelers in Egypt and 6 in Jordan, we toured by bus and cruise ship to immerse ourselves into these most ancient of countries.

Many of our friends and family were concerned about safety in that region of the world, but we felt safe during the entire trip.  We had armed guards with us at all times in Egypt (and, at times, a police escort for our bus, complete with sirens!), and both countries took security very seriously.

Our guide for the entire Egypt portion of the trip was an Egyptian with a degree in Egyptian history, which added so much to what we learned as we visited each of the locations and excursions.

Craig at Sakkara

The day after arriving, we visited the “step” pyramid Sakkara which is believed to be the first built in ancient Egypt.  In the afternoon, we visited the Great Pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure and the nearby Great Sphinx.  My wife was in Egypt heaven!

Great Sphinx

Gold Mask of King TutThe following day we visited the highlights of the Cairo Egyptian Museum which included the contents of King Tut’s tomb and the golden mask.  We learned that the beauty of King Tut’s tomb would have been minor compared to what would have been found in other tombs if they had not been robbed.  (But he still had a heck of a lot of gold!)  King Tut was only a king for about 9 years; whereas King Ramses II was king for 70+ years and his tomb was huge.  It must have been magnificent with treasure before it was robbed.

Open-air Street Market

In the evening, we visited an open-air street market in one of the oldest parts of Cairo.  Everywhere there were vendors holding souvenirs and saying “one dollar, one dollar”, trying to lure us into their shops; families and young people  enjoying the warm evening air in the plaza; the exotic smells of Egyptian foods, coffees and tobacco of the hookahs…a glimpse into the current culture of the Egyptian people.  Afterwards, we had a traditional Egyptian dinner at an open-air restaurant.

Temple of Karnak
Temple of Luxor

From Cairo we flew to the city of Luxor.  The city of Luxor contains 70% of the world’s ancient remains, many still intact.   In the city, we visited the Temples of Karnak and Luxor.  The Temple City of Karnak is considered to be among the world’s largest ancient temple complexes.  With almost 1,300 years of construction and covering a site of almost a mile by two miles, it includes several of the finest examples of ancient Egyptian design and architecture.  The Temples of Luxor and Karnak are connected by a long boulevard lined by sphinxes which is under renovation.  Awe-inspiring!

Boulevard of Sphinxes

Valley of the KingsThe next morning, we visited the famous Valley of the Kings, used for ritual burial for much of the Pharaonic times.  The valley is known to contain 63 tombs and has been a focus of archaeological exploration since the end of the 18th century.  It is one of most famous archaeological sites in the world.  In modern times, the valley became famous for the discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamen.  My wife went in and saw Tut’s mummy and his very small (comparatively speaking) tomb.  She was underwhelmed after seeing the other tombs; just a few Baboons carved on the walls…Ramses VI tomb – awesome – she said it was huge with painted hieroglyphics and gods everywhere.

Tomb of King Ramses VI

From Luxor, we boarded our ship and traveled up the Nile for 4 days, taking various shore excursions to temple ruins each day as we traveled to Aswan (saw a Belly-dancing and Egyptian music show one evening!).  At Aswan is the Aswan High Dam built across the Nile between 1960 and 1970.  The High Dam has resulted in protection from floods and droughts, an increase in agricultural production and employment, electricity production, and improved navigation that also benefits tourism.  Conversely, the dam flooded a large area, causing the relocation of over 100,000 people.  Many archaeological sites were submerged while others were relocated.

Twenty-two monuments and architectural complexes, including the Abu Simbel temples, which were threatened by flooding from Lake Nasser, were preserved by moving them to the shores of Lake Nasser under the UNESCO Nubia Campaign.

FeluccasWhile in Aswan, we took a ride in a “felucca”, a traditional wooden sailing vessel of the Nile and learned about the Nubian culture of the region.

We debarked from our ship, and flew from Aswan to Abu Simbel, the site of the Great Temple of Ramses II, Egypt’s longest-ruling pharaoh.  The Great Temple, carved out of a mountainside, with its huge statues of Ramses II at the entrance, was magnificent and the evening sound and light show was very well done.  It was worth the extra expense!

Abu Simbel at night
Abu Simbel (original/today)

From Abu Simbel, we boarded another ship and voyaged along Lake Nasser back to Aswan taking in various archaeological sites, most of which had been moved in order not to be covered by the Aswan dam water.  This part of the cruise was more relaxing with time to just enjoy cruising for 3 days.  From Aswan, we flew back to Cairo.  This was the end of the trip for most on our river cruise, but six of us went on to Amman, Jordan.  In the land of the Bedouins, the land of Moses and his followers, we spent four additional days exploring Jordan’s antiquities.

Bedouin family tentIn addition to the tents in which many Bedouins still live in the countryside with their herds of animals, the highlight of Jordan was the ancient city of Petra.  Petra was built by the Nabataeans in the heart of the Shara Mountains.  It prospered in the first centuries BC and AD and was a vital part of a major trading route connecting ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt.  The Nabataeans were also famous at the time for their water management techniques in the desert.  The city survived because it was well hidden, with its main access through the multi-colored sides of a slot canyon (a 2 ½ mile walk through the canyon to get to the city).  Its most famous artifact is a temple called “The Treasury”, with beautiful columns carved into the pink rocks. Today, intricate facades sculpted into the sandstone cliffs of the area can still be seen, along with other remarkably preserved structures, tombs, and monuments of the fascinating civilization.


Dead SeaAhh…and then to a gorgeous resort on the Dead Sea to relax, unwind and, for some, float in the sea.  Salt cakes the rocks and shore, as it contains 34% salt (Atlantic ocean is 3.5%), beautiful and clear.  We also visited the Dead Sea Museum.  We definitely could have stayed another day!

Another interesting ruin we visited was the Jerash ruins which are said to be the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy.  Jerash featured extensive Greek and Roman ruins.  The ancient Roman city enjoyed great wealth and importance largely due to the area’s fertile lands and year-round fresh water supply.  An earthquake hit the region in 749 AD destroying huge areas of the city and leaving the ruins buried in soil for hundreds of years.  It was in 1806 that a German explorer discovered them.


This was a trip well worth taking and my wife and I always felt safe.  Our guides knew everything and seemingly knew everyone wherever we traveled.  We gorged on buffets every day, walked many miles, and saw incredible sights. Our fellow travelers were wonderful, gung-ho (even those with disabilities), and we made several new acquaintances.  I encourage anyone interested in antiquities of the Middle East, to take a trip as we did and use Viking River Cruises.  It is a company we certainly recommend.

Two Winning Mission Patches!

My entire career was both answering environmental questions using statistics or data mining large databases to understand and ultimately improve situations.  In other words, I did a great deal of math!  I enjoyed the work very much because I was very proficient in my field.

However, since I have been retired, I have left the field of mathematics and focused on a hobby of designing patches.  The rewards of helping others have been outstanding.  One teacher, Tanya Anderson, has brought me two projects that have excited me more than others.  This is the email I received from Tanya four years ago:

I don’t know if you remember me, you designed soapbox derby patches for my son’s Cub Scout Pack last year.  I have a new project I am working on and I am wondering if you will be able to help.

St. Joan of Arc School I am a teacher at a Catholic school in Lisle.  I along with 3 of my colleagues have been chosen as one of 7 educator teams from across the country to participate in a special program at NASA this summer where we get to design an experiment and then fly our experiment on NASA’s zero gravity airplane.  Part of our program is getting all of the students in our school involved in different aspects of our experiment and flight preparation.  As one of our activities we wanted to do a mission patch design contest with our students, since all NASA missions have their own patches.  We were hoping then to have the winning student design actually made into patches that we could wear on our flight and also pass out to some of our students. 

 I immediately thought of you since you did such an awesome job on our scout patches.  I was hoping I could scan in the winning student design and you would be able to create something close to it.”  An article in the Chicago Tribune describes more about the project, http://tinyurl.com/MicroGXcycle2

My response to Tanya’s request was, “Wow, I would love to help.  Certainly, you and your colleagues deserve a big congratulations!”  From the four winning designs submitted by the students, I created the final patch below.

Winning Designs
Micro GX
Mission Patch

At the beginning of this year, Tanya once again was teaming up with NASA for a school-wide project, along with a creating a “Mission Patch.”  The name of the project is NASA Microgravity University for Educators or NASA MgUE for short.  The NASA website is: https://microgravityuniversity.jsc.nasa.gov/theProgram/micro-g-ue/.

Again, Tanya had the students submit designs for the patch and I took the winning components and created a patch for this year’s project.

Winning Designs
Mission Patches

Being able to help two such worthwhile projects brings me a great deal of satisfaction.  What these teachers are doing for our young ones will only make them better adults and possibly better scientists.

Craig Murray, Ph.D. Research Scientist