Rat Pucky Badge

Jolly in the Hair 12

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: It’s an impossible shot. You know it. Your audience knows it. You look into your pucky bag: the willow “L” stick is short and flimsy, the maple “Y” is too thick, and still too short, but maybe that oak forked stick with the funny little stub on the side will do it. You pull it out of the bag to admiring gasps and a scattering of applause. You approach the dead rat, its seams are still intact, but it’s lost an ear and a beaded eye in this competition, and the tail will need restitching later. You survey the shot, looking to see how you’ll puck the rat through the “V” of the redbud tree without it landing in the pond and you think you see a way to do it. Instead of ceding the game, you position yourself and test the swing of your stick. More people gather to watch as you finally take your shot. The rat lofts high and clears the “V”, will it land safely? There’s a family of four with their back to the landing site, watching a juggler perform. The rat curves down, splats on the ground, causing three of the four people to jump and look around. One spots the rat and the cheering crowd as you walk up to claim it and tuck it in your belt with the other played-out stuffed rats you carry. You did it! You scored and rescored – through the “V” and you made people look. How cool is that?

Step Two: Rat Pucky may not on the same level as golf or Frisbee, but it’s a cracking good game to play, especially if you’re in a park. That’s pretty much it’s only redeeming feature, just how much fun a game can be.

Step Three: The only place you’re likely to encounter Rat Pucky is at a Renaissance Faire unless you know a Rennie (that’s the name for people who routinely attend Renaissance Faires or work at them) who plays it in their neighborhood park just to keep in practice. Some rules are listed at the following websites. Be aware there are rule variants depending upon the Faire.

Step Four: Once you’ve learned the rules of the game, you’ll need a stuffed rat and a stick, so gather your equipment. You may buy “certified” rats from Emrys, or make your own. If you play Rat Pucky (or Rat Puck) at a Renaissance Faire, you should use the types of rats they recommend and play by their rules.

Step Five: Play a game.

Step Six: Claim your badge!


Blacksmith Badge


Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: You tighten the last screw in the hinge you forged yourself on the jewelry box you made for your mother with a screwdriver you made yourself, too. The candles on the mantelpiece flicker brightly in the candleholders you made yourself of raw iron and fire. On a camping trip, you supply the toasting forks that you made yourself, and you cut the strips of steaks you grill on them with a knife you forged yourself. Friends welcome the gifts of your forge and often ask you to make some things for them to buy and gift. And your friends are always up for a game of Stretch with the Stretch Sticks you hammered out on your anvil.

Step Two: Sure you can buy screwdrivers, hinges, candleholders, toasting forks, camp grills, pothooks, coat hooks, fire strikers, tent stakes, and knives from a store, but when you make them yourself, you can make them as plain or pretty as you want. It’s satisfying to take a raw lump of metal and with just a fire and a hammer, make something beautiful and useful from it.

Step Three: Blacksmithing is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. It’s not just horse-shoeing anymore. Your best bet for finding a mentor is to visit historical re-enactment places like Colonial Williamsburg or Branson, Missouri, or attend a Renaissance Faire. Most performing blacksmiths are more than willing to talk to you and tell you all about how they got into smithing and show you all the pretties they can make. New books are being written about modern blacksmithing and there’s a magazine devoted to blacksmiths. Find a smith and ask your questions. Examine their set-up and ask who their suppliers are. Ask what they would recommend as a first project.

Step Four: Some blacksmiths offer classes in smithing. This is an excellent way to find out if you really like smithing before you invest in the equipment and build a forge to house it all. You can earn your badge by completing the class and making something yourself.

Step Five: Complete a class on blacksmithing and make something yourself. Display it with pride.

Step Six: Claim your badge.

You can go on to get an advanced blacksmithing badge by setting up your own forge and stocking it and making things in it.

Geocaching Badge

The Bilgemunkee

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: You take two steps to your left, one step forward and look around. There! Under the carpet juniper is a flash of white. You look closer and yes! It’s a Tupperware box. You pause for a deep breath and look at your GPS device. It’s right on the number. This is the treasure you’ve spent 2 weekends searching for. You reach under the juniper and pull out the box. You sit down and cradle it in your lap for just a moment before you pop the top off. The box is filled with small things but the most important thing is on top – a notebook and pencil. You left those out and flip through it, reading the entries. Some are funny, all are informative. Now you know who left the batman action figurine, or the pocket level, or the strawberry erasers you see on the top of all the small objects. You make your own entry in the logbook, and as you do so, you recognize names from other ‘Cachers, so you leave a note to pass along to them. Future finders of this treasure may post your comment in other logbooks and your friends may see it. What a fun and fulfilling day you’ve had!

Step Two: Geocaching may seem a frivolous sport, but you learn a lot from it: how to read a GPS device, how to read maps, how to conduct online research, and how to persevere to find the treasure. In the process, you will make friends, make new discoveries, and spend exciting times outdoors. It’s a sport you can play on the spur of the moment, and the most expensive thing about it woud be a GPS device – and the price of those has come down do far almost anyone who wants one can afford it.

Step Three: The best way to learn about geocaching is to go out with someone who already does it. Go to http://www.geocaching.com and see who’s in your area. There are discussion boards that may offer regional sections. Sometimes, you can find other geocachers through meet-up groups or posted on college bulletin boards or in sporting goods stores. When you fond a mentor, either on line or in person, ask them questions about the sport, their biggest challenges, greatest triumphs, and best times they had. Ask for tips and be sure to ask which GPS device they prefer. Ask what other equipment they wished they brought along the first time they went geocaching.

Step Four: Armed with the advice of your mentor and research you’ve conducted on line and elsewhere, go to a sporting goods store and ask about their GPS device offerings. You may choose to purchase from them or from an online source. The primary piece of equipment you will need is the GPS device so spend a little time finding and getting one you will like. Spend some more time getting familiar with your GPS device.

Step Five: Plan your first geocaching adventure, then go. Bring small items to put into the treasure box, and dress and pack for the trip.

Step Six: Find your first treasure and claim you badge!

Brewing Soft Drinks Badge


Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: It’s a hot day at the lake, and even in the shade of the trees you and your friends are roasting. You reach into your ice chest and pull out bottles of the most delicious rootbeer anyone’s ever had – your secret blend of juices and herbs that you made and bottled yourself. Your children bring friends home from school because your house is the only place they can get ginger lemonade sodas. It’s the winter holidays and your guests can’t stop raving about the mulled cider you served – the special recipe you make and bottle each fall.

Step Two: Making your own sodas, ciders, and other soft drinks is far less expensive than buying them. You get to have unique flavors that suit you in your pantry just waiting for you to drink or share. Making sodas is fast, too, so you can make up a recipe for a special event almost faster than you can drive to the store to buy them. You know exactly what’s in your bottles of soda, too – no high fructose corn syrup, no weird flavoring additives. You control how sweet it is. And if you want spearmint strawberry lemonade, you can have it!
Step Three: Finding a mentor for brewing your own soft drinks is harder than finding someone who brews beer or wine because fewer people do it. Start at your local brew shop, because soda makers need to buy bottle caps, bottle cappers, and bottles and the brew shops are the cheapest places to get those. S/he may know of one or two other soda makers in your area. Connect with other soda and cider makers in your area and ask questions. Take notes. Ask them about websites, recommendations, and further resources.

If you can’t find a local mentor, there are online sources for getting information on how to make your own soft drinks.



Step Four: Follow up on the research in Step Three. Gather your equipment and ingredients. Set up a place to make and store your home made soft drinks.

Step Five: Make a soft drink and sample it.

Step Six: Claim your badge!

Wine Making Badge

Holy Ail Side

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: None of the wines at the local liquor store go well with your TexMex/Asian fusion dinner, but the wine you made of sand plums and cactus pears sets it off beautifully, and the clear lavenderish hue is echoed in the Asian fermented plum enchilada sauce. The full bodied red wine you made is perfect for sipping with your favorite dark chocolate as you and your friends make sure you get your daily antioxidants as you unwind together watching a chick flick and talking about your day. The compliments on the wine make you giddier than any amount of wine ever could.
Step Two: It’s so simple and so rewarding to craft a fine wine to match your culinary style. Making your own wines gives you a finer appreciation of the wines you buy. You can make country wines and exotic wines that aren’t available in stores. Home made wines make personal, special gifts.
Step Three: While beer and wine making both involve fermentation and share using much of the same equipment, the process and ingredients and end result are very different. Beer is made from grains, wine is made from fruit. The exception is mead, which is made from honey and can be made using either the beer process or the wine process. The people who make home wines are often a different group of people from the ones who make beer, so even though some of the places you look will be similar (the brew store, for example), the resources and information will be different. Your local brew store brewmeister may be able to put you in touch with wine making groups. Check out local vinyards, too, because even though they commercially make wines, they’ll know a few enthusiasts who buy juice from them to make their own wines. The vineyard profits either way and encouraging people to drink wine (their or made from their juices) is a Good Thing in their eyes. Tour the vintard and ask questions. Sample their wines and bring a few bottles home to use for comparison. Connect with an oenologist (someone who makes wine) and ask them questions about the wine making process. Ask about resources for home wine making.
Step Four: Follow up on the research and answers to your questions. Research fail-proof recipes and start a collection of flavors you like and would like to re-create yourself. Some starting on line places:
And some books:
And one DVD:

Step Five: Gather your equipment. Select your recipe and gather your ingredients. Make your first batch of wine.
Step Six: Let your wine age, then decant it and sample. You should have a delicious wine you made yourself, a product of pride.

Step Seven: Claim your badge!

Beer Brewing Badge

Holy Ail Front

Originally uploaded by nodigio


Step One: You and your buddies are settling down to watch the game, and you pass around the bottles of beer you made. They take one sip, pause, then with appreciative sounds, drink more. You know your agave beer is a hit. You need some heavy yardwork done, and you know all you have to do is make a few calls and promise a few bottles of your latest brew and you’ll have all the help you need. Your best friend asks you to make a custom beer for her son’s 21st party, because you can control the flavor and the alcohol content. You’re justly proud of your brewing skills.

Step Two: Brewing your own beer isn’t necessarily cheaper, but you have control of the contents every step of the way. You control flavor, alcohol levels, and mouthfeel. You have a barterable skill – friends will help you do hard work for a bottle of your beer, and parties are better when your beer is there. You get to express a great deal of creativity in designing new flavors of beers. If you enter beer brewing contests, you may even win a few ribbons for your beers. And you can explore non-hopped beers, too – ales and meads and other historical brews that you plain can’t find on the shelves at the liquor store. Mead is made with honey and can be made either as beer or a wine.

Step Three: As you start planning to become your own brewmeister, check out microbreweries. Sample their different beers. Find the brewing store in your town and talk to the owner. S/he will be thrilled to connect you with other brewers and tell you about upcoming competitions. S/he will probably also be able to help you select essential equipment and point you to the right yeasts for the type of beer you eventually decide to brew. Ask questions about how they got started, and what their biggest challenges and triumphs were. Ask what they’d recommend brewing first and where they’d recommend you go for more information.

Step Four: Follow up on the information you mentor passed along to you. Go online to do a bit of research.
http://www.beertown.org .
Then check out a few books: http://www.mahalo.com/How_to_Brew_Your_Own_Beer_In_7_Simple_Steps http://www.amazon.com/Brew-Like-Monk-Trappist-Belgian/dp/093738187X http://www.amazon.com/Radical-Brewing-Recipes-World-Altering-Meditations/dp/0937381837 http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Homebrewing-Third-Harperresource-Book/dp/0060531053 http://www.amazon.com/Brew-Ware-Adapt-Homebrewing-Equipment/dp/0882669265/
If your local brew shop offers classes, take one. Maybe you found a brewing group – they may offer classes or let you visit while they brew a batch of beer. Visit with them and take notes.

Step Five: Assemble your equipment. While much of it may already be in your kitchen, you will probably still need a few things. Spend some time discovering what you will need and then acquiring or making it yourself. Research recipes and procedures, then select the ingredients after you have your equipment ready. Brew your first batch of beer.

Step Six: Sample your first batch of beer. If everything went well, you should have a brew that is delicious.

Step Seven: Claim your badge.

Lasting Friendships Badge

Itzl and Shika, Sunning

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: You’ve discovered some people with whom you have some deeply shared passions and understanding. These people provide you with inspiration and put a smile on your face as you wakl doen the street. In good times adn bad, you know you can depend on them as much as they depend on you. You’ve got each other’s backs, and it feels safe and liberating. Sure, it took a lot of time and care to nurture these friendshops, but the people were worth every second of effort.

Step Two: The abiding love between friends is the one thing we can count on in a world gone crazy. You’ll always have someone who understands you, who will listen when you want to rant, who will feel safe ranting with you, who will engage in impetuous acts with you, and share their chicken pox with you. Think of the friendship shared between Damon and Pythias. Euripedes once said, “One loyal friend is worth 10,000 relatives.”

And here are some more quotes about the importance of friendship:

There are only two people who can tell you the truth about yourself – an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly.

What sweetness is left in life, if you take away friendship? Robbing life of friendship is like robbing the world of the sun. A true friend is more to be esteemed than kinsfolk.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

What is a friend? I will tell you… it is someone with whom you dare to be yourself.
Frank Crane

If you have one true friend you have more than your share.
Thomas Fuller

Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
C. S. Lewis

Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Step Three: Define your relationship. Spend some time daydreaming about what makes your friends special to you, what qualities make your friends friends. If you want, you can list these qualities. The first step to a truly great relationship is to imagine what it should be like.

Step Four: Make time for your friendship. Think relaistically about the time it would take to make your fantasy friendship into a real one. People don’t spend enough face time with one another to create the friendships they want. Prioritize your time and how you spend it. Separate out the things you can do anytime and the things you can only do once. A friend’s wedding is more important than the next episode of American Idol. You can always catch American Idol on re-run or Tivo it or tape it or find it on the web somewhere. Schedule time to be together in ink – make a set time you’ll spend together – maybe it’s a corny movie night, or a dinner date, or a shopping trip, but set a time just for the two of you and make it a high priority time, only a disaster or a true emergency could cancel it. Make it a habit to meet or contact one another – instead of killing time with Minesweeper, send your friend an email or IM, or make a phone call. Do something kind for your friend – and do it often. Small kindnesses like having his or her favorite candy in your candy dish when they visit, or sending a card in snail mail just because, or scraping the ice off their car with them so it goes quicker. Make eye contact when you’re talking to your friend Too few of us look at others anymore, we’re so busy texting on our phones or browsing the web on our iPhones or whatever that we simply don’t look at people anymore.

Step Five: Take the initiative. You can’t change someone else, but you can change yourself. So, decide how you want to treat your friend,a nd begin doing that. Maybe it starts with something simple like clipping comics you think they’ll like, or letting them set the pace when you walk together. “Date” your friend by planning a special event once in a while for your weekly night together – a trip to the zoo or the mall, maybe. And show your appreciation for your friend – tell them you enjoy being with them. Spend time helping them with important tasks – like organizing photos, or taking a class together. If you share a hobby or passion, spend time together doing that.

Step Six: Tell stories to one another. Tell stories about your life, your dreams, your aspirations to your friend, and listen when he or she tells you their dreams and stories.

Step Seven: Be there when your friend needs you. Whether it’s to help them move to a new apartment or help them balance their budget, or stand up with them in a protest march or if they go on strike – be there. With coffee and donuts (or the equivalent). If you’re there for your friends, chances are, they’ll be there for you.

Step Eight: Claim you badge!