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,

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:

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

A Worthy Certificate

Helping others through my hobbies is one of the things in life I really enjoy.  Of course, taking care of my young grandson beats that.

Boy Scout CertificateSeveral years ago, I came across several old scout certificates.  One in particular, a British Boy Scouts certificate, had a great deal of character but it was very tattered.  I spent a number of hours cleaning it up which included straightening up the right border and changing out the British flag for a U.S. flag.  Now it was ready for many uses.  (My friend, John Davis, informed me that the patrol flags are peewit and wolf on the left, and stag and cormorant on the right.)

The first use I thought of was for Wood Badge as the certificate had a picture of Baden Powell at the bottom. My focus was for staffers so I made one with three beads and one with four beads and later added one with two beads for anyone attending Wood Badge.

Wood Badge - 3 Beads    Wood Badge - 4 Beads

The next use was for the boy earning Eagle Scout.  The medal I displayed was a 1930 Robbins Type 2A medal which is among the nicest made because of the detail (

Eagle ScoutScoutmaster

I made some other uses but the next popular use was for a Scoutmaster certificate with a 1920’s Scoutmaster Badge.  In the early years, colors defined badges and silver and green was the color of the Scoutmaster.  In addition, a Scoutmaster was supposed to represent the knowledge and skills of a First Class Scout so that is the emblem he wore.  You can see the early badges on this web page –

I’ve had many thank yous for making these certificates available on but the pleasure has been mine.  The cost of the certificates goes to paying for the card stock paper, ink and my website; not for making me a business.  Making something nice for others brings me the pleasure I enjoy.



Foster Father Takes Only Terminally Ill Children

Tears flowed from my eyes as I read about a man that is now taking care of a bedridden 6-year-old foster girl with a rare brain defect who is blind and deaf; has daily seizures; and her arms and legs are paralyzed.  This devout Libyan-born Muslim has been taken care of her for all of her life.  But the story does not begin there.  He has been doing this type of care for more than two decades.  He has buried about 10 children.  Some died in his arms.

A bright lightIf you want to read about the most touching story about a person that gives and asks for nothing in return, you have to read this article that was in the L.A. Times, ‘I know they are going to die.’  This foster father takes in only terminally ill children.

Travel Ban

Today I wanted to share with you a success story about someone that got through the travel ban that was put in place without any consideration to the effect upon good people.  I could not find one.  All I could find were sad stories about students and others that had been living in the U.S. for many years but had gone home to visit a family member only to learn they could not return.

The best news I found was that a federal judge ordered a halt to deportations of travelers with valid visas to enter the U.S. saying that sending them back to the affected countries could cause them “irreparable harm.”  Other good news was that droves of immigration attorneys stepped up to offer free services to those detained.  Now this is the America that I am proud of.

This ban is also upsetting many significant CEOs.  CNN Money has an article that highlights Goldman Sachs response and notes the response of other CEOs.

I read an interesting article in the Huffington Post entitled “The Inevitability Of Impeachment.”  This is just after one week so I take it with a Grain of Salt, but since it includes concerns from both parties, it is worth reading.

P.S.  This map might make you think twice about the validity of the immigration ban.

Ecuador Visit

BSA Old Men - Jorge, John, Craig & Pete
BSA Old Men – Jorge, John, Craig & Pete

LydaAnother great international scouting experience at JamCam Ecuador in Guayaquil over the New Years!  A really interesting aspect of their program is that it was totally volunteer-run; I was very impressed.  One lady that we have to thank for this is Lyda Pavón, International Commissioner for the Scouts of Ecuador.

JamCam stands for Jamboree and Camporee.  Usually, Scouts from 11 to 15 years of age had a special program during the Pan-American Scout Jamborees, but after the 2010 Interamerican Scout Conference, the Interamerican Scout Committee decided to create the “JamCam”.  Scouts were placed in the Camporee and Venturers in the Jamboree, both with similar programs and held in the same venue.

The JamCam provided opportunities for all participants to visit the main tourist places near Guayaquil.  Also, a traditional characteristic of Scouts is a day of community service.  At the JamCam each scout could choose between:  sharing with children with disabilities, helping in planting trees, collaborating in the creation of signs for parks, painting of murals, and so on.  This is one of the reasons that I enjoy scouting so much.

Colombian ScoutersI was able to help as a security guard for JamCam with my friend John Davis.  We were the old men on duty every morning.  I shared my tent with two very nice scouters from Columbia:  Camilo and Néstor.  Everyone I met at JamCam were either friendly, helpful or both.

Galapagos Islands tour group
Galapagos Tour Group: Craig, Pete, Jorge, Pedro, Lidia, Patricia, Vitor & Chang

VitorAfter JamCam, my friend Pete Armstrong, a wonderful group of Brazilians, and I visited the Galapagos Islands.  One of the young Brazilians, Vitor, had been a very helpful translator for me one day during JamCam.  Pete and I had a great time due in large part to the friendly group of Brazilians.  Plus, they spoke English which was very helpful for me.

The traveling abroad and the scout leaders I meet make these experiences so enjoyable.  You can always count on meeting quality people in scouting as they are the ones that often think of others first.  All my other international adventures are shared on this web page:


familyWith the Christmas season approaching and being a grandparent, I started thinking more about family and how wonderful all my family members are.  I am lucky to have brothers and sisters, children, grandkids, spouses and extended family members that I treasure.

grandkidsAnd what generated this thinking, was when my wife and I sat outside with our young grandson and interacted with him as he played with his digger tractor and dump truck in the dirt.  Just watching him brought joy to me.  It made me think of the pictures you see of grandparents with their grandkids which always seem so warm and wonderful.

There has also been sadness this year as my mom passed and my nephew suffers from cancer, but I am glad for the support that is there for them and the support for those that are most involved with the caretaking.

Family structure is so different now than in the days of our parents. I found a nice article titled “Types of Family Structures” ( that points out that there is no right or wrong type as long as the family is filled with love and support.

In my reading on families, I also learned of the value of sitting down for a family meal, something that I was fortunate to do with my children.  The article has statistics that show the benefits of family times like these:

Family Poem

“Just as the earth goes through seasons, so does a family in the course of time endure seasons.  Falling in love, marriage and the birth of children are times of renewal like Spring.  Long pleasant periods of calm are like the feeling of an endless Summer.  As we and our children grow older, our leaves start to change.  We start to experience Autumn.  This may seem like dying but it is only signs of a new phase of life.  Crises and hardship are times for the family to stay close together, help each other out and endure the frigid winds of change.  This period is akin to Winter.  Life is full of seasons and changes which are best experienced with the support of friends and family.”


“60 Minute” Postscript

This evening (12/11/16), 60 Minutes had a wonderful story entitled “Man Returns to Childhood Home Against the Odds.”   The link to the story is  Over 20 years after an Indian boy was separated from his mother, he finds her again.  What a wonderful story.

Photoshopped Christmas Card

I photoshop quite often but this one is a real tree topper – Mom Makes Cute Photoshopped Christmas Card While Her Husband is Deployed in Iraq.

Here’s to Your Health! The Benefits of Hiking

chinohillsFor so many years I led Boy Scouts on hikes and had wonderful experiences.  As the years went on and I got older, I did less but this year I returned to my old Boy Scout Troop after 16 years and offered to help with their hikes.  Did this bring back wonderful memories!  Not only did this bring back memories but nice views, fresh air and the sounds and smells of nature.  I encourage all of you – young and old – to follow my lead.

Hiking is a powerful cardio workout that can:

  • Lower your risk of heart disease
  • Improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Boost bone density, since walking is a weight-bearing exercise
  • Build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs
  • Strengthen your core
  • Improve balance
  • Help control your weight
  • Boost your mood

Here are some tips:

If you have not done hiking, start slowly.  A short, local hike is best for beginners.  Gradually work up to trails with hills or uneven terrain.

Use poles.  Digging into the ground and propelling yourself forward pushes your upper body muscles to work harder and gives you a stronger cardio workout.

Bring a buddy.  It’s best not to hike alone at first, especially on unfamiliar or remote trails.  A partner or group can help you navigate and assist if you get hurt.

Know before you go.  Familiarize yourself with the trail map. Check the weather, and dress and pack accordingly.

For a comprehensive list, check out this article Hiking Tips that I wrote after reading about a hiker that got lost.  I believe that all hikers would benefit from these tips.

Also, for you scouters, here’s a helpful one pager on Those First Hikes.  It is focused on planning hikes to keep the boys coming back.

Iceland Visit

Iceland Scout CenterIn many ways I am lucky because I am a Baden-Powell Fellow.  As a fellow, I get to meet fantastic people, I’m exposed to wonderful scouting programs and I have a chance to visit some fascinating countries.  This past October, the World Scout Association organized an Honors Program Field Visit to Iceland – the goal being to provide members insight and in-depth experience in how World Scouting benefits from Baden-Powell donations.  You can check out that visit here:

When you read the article, you will see that the Iceland’s scouting program is a model for scout organizations around the world.  It promotes the environment, helps alleviate unemployment and services seniors.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if all scouting programs thought along these lines?

Any scout leader who has the opportunity to see Iceland’s scouting program up close should definitely take a look, and 2017 brings us the perfect opportunity.

changeStarting July 25, Iceland will be hosting the 2017 World Scouting Moot.  A “moot” is an Old English word for meeting or assembly.  The World Scouting “Moot” is the equivalent of a jamboree for 18-25 year old scouts.  If you are interested in taking your scout group or just learning more about Iceland’s Moot, check out this site:

I’ve also written a web page with multiple links including a BSA registration link which you can find all on this web page:

Clean Water

A few years ago, my wife and I went on a wonderful safari in Kenya.  Seeing all the animals in the wild was on our bucket list especially my wife’s as she volunteers at a wildlife way-station just about every Sunday to feed the animals.

But Kenya has another side and that is the lack of clean water.  There is a 501(c)(3) organization that is doing something about it called Just One Africa.  You can read more about it at this web site, and you can make a difference by donating.

I always worry about donated money going to where I think it is going.  So I did some research on Just One Africa and found very positive results.  The site I found it on was  So if you are going to donate this year for humanitarian, tax or any other reasons, Just One Africa seems like a very good organization to give to.

Becoming Consumers of
Good News!

A very interesting article on the impact of positive news from the research done by Jodie Jackson is available at  She states “Increasing consumption of positive news content can create a positive feedback loop” which is the intent of this website so I encourage you to read the article.