Scoutmaster Minutes

From Troop 76 - Ridgefield, CT

Eagle Court of Honor - 05/14/1999

Eagle Court of Honor - 11/26/1999

Eagle Court of Honor - 01/14/2000

Troop Court of Honor - 06/13/2000 (Jay Lubin "Retirement" SM Minute)

A History Lesson in Your Pocket

It's Only a Pin

Just a Boy

The Night Before Christmas (he lived all alone...)

Friends

For Every One Hundred Boys Who Join Scouting

The Present

Santa Is An Eagle Scout

Is There a Santa Claus?

 

 

 

Eagle Court of Honor - 05/14/99

Tonight we spoke of favorite memories of our two new Eagle Scouts, and the honors of this evening. But what about the future?

Tomorrow morning youíll each wake up a little tired, very happy, and an Eagle Scout. Ten years from now, youíll wake up each morning an Eagle Scout. Every day for the rest of your lives youíll wake up an Eagle Scout. Thatís the good news. The bad news? Each morning, for the rest of your lives, youíll wake up an Eagle Scout. You see, itís both an honor and an obligation.

Youíll get different reactions from people you meet. Some will find out youíre an Eagle and say, ďit figuresĒ. Others will find out youíre an Eagle and make things a bit easier for you, just because youíve been tested. You might not notice however, since challenges often seem a bit easier, because youíve been tested. Others will make things harder for you, just because youíre an Eagle. Again, you might not notice, because you can handle challenges. Youíre an Eagle. Often, however, in a room full of people, no-one will know that youíre an Eagle except for you. But thatís OK too.

Whatís an Eagle worth. To the BSA, about $16.50, the cost of the Eagle Scout Award kit. To the military, about $2,200 per year, the difference between the E-1 rank, where everyone enters the military, and the E-2 rank, where Eagle Scouts enter the military. To former scouts, especially former Life Scouts, the Eagle is invaluable. We were once close to the rank, but now can never achieve it. To most other people you meet, the value of an Eagle is the value that they place on you and your friendship. So you tell me whatís itís worth.

In closing, I take my words from three difference sources. The first is from A. Nonymous (who seems to have written quite a bit): ďRemember Ė Eagles may Soar, but weasels donít get sucked into jet engines. Be careful out there.Ē

The second is from the famous author Theodore Geisel (we also know him as Dr. Seuss). For time considerations, Iíll abbreviate:

         This is your day, so be on your way.

         Go climb your mountain.

         Weíll be here.

And finally, I turned to the sage advice of that 23rd century philosopher, Mr. Spock, who said: ďLive long and prosperĒ.

Brett and Dan, Congratulations and Live Long and Prosper.

Jay F. Lubin

Scoutmaster, Troop 76 BSA

 

Eagle Court of Honor - 11/26/99

Tonight we have recognized and honored Matthew Axxx, Eagle Scout. A Scoutmaster learns something new at every Court of Honor, especially an Eagle Court of Honor. So what have I learned tonight?

I learned that being a leader is not enough to attain the rank of Eagle. Donít get me wrong. Learning to be a leader is very important, and is vital for a Scout to become an Eagle. But itís just not enough. A Scout must be a successful follower also. Surprised?

Eagle Scouts donít just appear from the sky. A Scout must want to attain the rank, usually from an early age. Iíve observed that many Eagle candidates said they first gave serious thought to becoming an Eagle at the first Eagle Court of Honor they attended, often as a new Scout or Tenderfoot. From that point forward, they had a dream to become an Eagle. The successful ones followed that dream, and moved on along the Eagle Trail.

Throughout his Scouting career, a Scout is often tested, and in those situations, he has to follow his heart, to keep up his spirit, his stamina, his mental toughness. I know that Matt faced many, many challenges along his Eagle Trail. But he didnít lose his spirit. He followed his heart, and he moved on along the Trail.

Often as a younger Scout (and as an older one, too), a boy has to decide which path to take. Sometimes the decision is clear, there is a right way and a wrong way. Sometimes the decision only becomes clear after you look back. And sometimes the choice is never clear, and even months or years later youíre not sure that you made the correct decision, that you took the right path. In many situations, the Eagle candidate must follow his gut. Call it intuition, experience, or even a guess. The Eagle knows he has to make a decision, a choice. And using all of his resources, including his gut level sense of right and wrong, he follows that sense, and moves on along the Trail.

And of course, the Eagle Candidate follows the advice of his parents, his Scoutmasters, his Eagle Advisor, other family members, teachers, friends, strangers, or astrologers. Some of the advice is good; some of the advice is better. The successful Eagle Scout learns which advice to discard and which to follow, and he moves on along the Trail.

What I learned tonight, or maybe what I relearned tonight is that Eagle Scouts are as good at following as they are at leading, and maybe, just maybe, that made the difference. Maybe that is one of the reasons Matthew is standing before us this evening, an Eagle Scout.

  Jay F. Lubin

Scoutmaster, Troop 76 BSA

 

Eagle Court of Honor - 01/14/00

This has been the first Eagle Scout Court of Honor of the rest of our lives, or at least of this year. And at this interesting juncture in the calendar, Iím certain that each one of us is overwhelmed by the bombardment of predictions about what the future holds, in almost every magazine, TV show, and newspaper. Not one to pass up an opportunity, Iím going to jump in the fray, and put my own two cents in, with my predictions of Scouting in the year 2025. In a sports analogy, itís called ďpiling on.Ē

First, each scout, indeed each child above the age of 4, will have a personal information center on their wrist that will be a combination cell phone, computer, TV set, weather station, and GPS. And it may even tell time. But the Boy Scouts will still make map and compass reading an advancement requirement. And a good thing too, when the power goes out, or the satellites fail. BSA may even go back to morse code and semaphore training.

Next, I predict the hiking boots of the future will be infinitely more comfortable and lighter than today. But 80% of scouts will still get blisters during their first year in scouting.

Next, I predict that Citizenship in the Universe merit badge will replace Citizenship in the World.

And the easiest prediction in the lot Ė the Boy Scout uniform will go through 3 revisions over the next 25 years and will still be as uncomfortable and dorky looking as today.

But, with all seriousness aside, tonight I have met the future of Scouting, and it is us. The future of Scouting rests with the two Eagle Scouts that we have honored, and the many that will follow in their footsteps. The Boy Scouts of 2025 will emphasize leadership, teamwork, high moral values, and duty to God, country, and self, just as much as they do today. We have a successful formula Ė it worked on Mark and Greg. And the Boy Scouts organization is smart enough to know you donít mess with success.

But weíve also wisely planted a seed in these two Eagle Scouts. For I predict that Greg and Mark each, in his own way, will give back to his community, over the next 25 years, what theyíve taken away Ė enthusiasm, leadership, and Scout Spirit.

So Mark and Greg, my challenge to you, indeed my challenge to each Scout in the audience, Tenderfoot and Eagle alike, donít make a liar out of your Scoutmaster: give back to Scouting and your community at least some of what youíve learned and developed Ė your spirit and your leadership. And thatís my minute

 Jay F. Lubin

Scoutmaster, Troop 76 BSA

 

Troop Court of Honor - 06/13/00

Iíd like to borrow a tradition from the Navy, in fact from all of the Armed Forces, that of the Change of Command. The Change of Command is a formal ceremony that transfers the leadership of a ship, station, or group of military personnel from one Commanding Officer to another. While the role of Scoutmaster is not the same as that of a Commanding Officer (the pay for one is usually lower for a Scoutmaster, but not always), Iíd like to use the ceremony and tradition. Mainly, through the Change of Command, everyone involved in the Unit knows who is in charge, and when the responsibility for the Unit changes hands. Before I pass along responsibility for the Troop to Michael, Iíd like to say my final Scoutmaster Minute. But I beg your indulgence as it may run a little longer than 60 seconds.

First, let me thank all of the Adult Leaders in the Troop. Only through your support, assistance, and friendship was I able to carry on as Scoutmaster.

Let me also thank my family, especially my wife Linda and daughter Laura. They put up with a lot, including too many weekend, and seemingly countless evening meetings. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thereís a saying among Scoutmasters:

Your best day as Scoutmaster is your first day; your second-best day is your final day as Scoutmaster.

If that is accurate, then Iíve been more fortunate than many, for I count most of my 1,176 days as Scoutmaster, as the best. Iíve had a lot of fun, and learned a great deal. Iíve always said that I learn something new at every Scoutmaster Conference and on every camping trip. But I also recall that not every day as Scoutmaster was the best. I can count, on one hand, the times when things were hard, thatís when a scout, one of our sons, became injured or got sick. Those days were the worst. Fortunately for all of us, they were few and far between.

As Mike Carpenter takes over as Scoutmaster, and I go back to being an Assistant Scoutmaster, I recall some of the things I learned, or told myself over these past 1,176 days (but whoís counting). Iím doing this not so much for Mikeís benefit, as for mine. I also know that the advice of any former Scoutmaster is of limited importance, decreasing in value by approximately 50% for each day he is a former Scoutmaster.

So here goes:

Always remember, youíre in it for the kids, not the parents. The parents place a distant third.

If youíre not having fun, somethingís wrong.

If the boys are not having fun, something is very wrong.

If you think you have the best job in the Troop, think again; just look over at your Senior Patrol Leader. Heís got the best job.

Never underestimate the ability of a group of 12 and 13 year old scouts to move mountains.

Never underestimate the ability of a group of 12 and 13 year old scouts to annoy the hell out of you.

Scouting is not for every boy.

Every scout will not become Eagle.

Statistically, it rains 40% of the time on weekends. But it will rain 80% of the time on weekends youíre camping. Go figure.

Every 18-24 months, one Eagle Scout will truly stand head and shoulders above the rest. Use him to set the pace for the Troop and motivate the younger ones.

Remember, youíre not their parent, youíre their Scoutmaster. You have them about an hour and a half each week. They have them the other 166.5 hours. Make your 90 minutes count.

40 years later, I remember my Scoutmaster. So will they.

A Scoutmaster is Trustworthy. But that doesnít mean you canít shade the truth when a boyís feelings are involved.

Itís only an hour a week.

For some boys, you are a father figure.

Being Scoutmaster gives you a second chance to act 15 again. Just remember that some of the things you did as a 15 year old might be a felony today.

Never let them see you sweat. And never, ever let them see fear in your eyes.

Whenever you say that youíd like to quit your job and be Scoutmaster full time, just remember, this is your fulltime job. Your paycheck comes from your part-time job.

Know what the book says. You donít always have to follow it, just know what it says.

Itís a boy run troop. Let the kids do their job.

Scoutmasters make mistakes

Your son is not an only child.

The other troop always looks better. Believe it or not, sometimes, yours is the other troop.

There is only one Scoutmaster. Donít let the kids become confused.

There will be a time to go. Try to be the first one to recognize it.

The most important part of your job is to create memories.

Finally, always remember, youíre in it for the kidís.

And so with that, Iíd like to pass along the badge of office to Mike Carpenter. Wear it well, wear it proudly. I know youíll do a great job. Good luck.

Mike, the Troop is yours.

 

Jay F. Lubin

Scoutmaster, Troop 76 BSA

 

A History Lesson in Your Pocket!

~ Wayne A. Cook

Take out a one dollar bill, and look at it. The one dollar bill you're looking at first came off the presses in 1957 in its present design. This so-called paper money is in fact a cotton and linen blend, with red and blue minute silk fibers running through it.


It is actually material. We've all washed it without it falling apart. A special blend of ink is used, the contents we will never know. It is overprinted with symbols and then it is starched to make it water resistant and pressed to give it that nice crisp look.


If you look on the front of the bill, you will see the United States Treasury Seal. On the top you will see the scales for a balanced budget.


In the center you have a carpenter's square, a tool used for an even cut. Underneath is the Key to the United States Treasury. That's all pretty easy to figure out, but what is on the back of that dollar bill is something we should all know.


If you turn the bill over, you will see two circles. Both circles, together, comprise the Great Seal of the United States. The First Continental Congress requested that Benjamin Franklin and a group of men come up with a Seal. It took them four years to accomplish this task and another two years to get it approved.


If you look at the left-hand circle, you will see a Pyramid. Notice the face is lighted, and the western side is dark. This country was just beginning. We had not begun to explore the West or decided what we could do for Western civilization. The Pyramid is uncapped, again signifying that we were not even close to being finished. Inside the capstone you have the all-seeing eye, an ancient symbol for divinity.


It was Franklin's belief that one man couldn't do it alone, but a group of men, with the help of God, could do anything. "IN GOD WE TRUST" is on this currency. The Latin above the pyramid, ANNUIT COEPTIS, means, "God has favoured our undertaking." The Latin below the pyramid, NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM, means, "a new order has begun." At the base of the pyramid is the Roman Numeral for 1776.


If you look at the right-hand circle, and check it carefully, you will learn that it is on every National Cemetery in the United States. It is also on the Parade of Flags Walkway at the Bushnell, Florida National Cemetery, and is the centerpiece of most hero's monuments. Slightly modified, it is the seal of the President of the United States, and it is always visible whenever he speaks, yet very few people know what the symbols mean.


The Bald Eagle was selected as a symbol for victory for two reasons: first, he is not afraid of a storm; he is strong, and he is smart enough to soar above it. Secondly, he wears no material crown. We had just broken from the King of England.


Also, notice the shield is unsupported. This country can now stand on its own. At the top of that shield you have a white bar signifying congress, a unifying factor. We were coming together as one nation. In the Eagle's beak you will read, "E PLURIBUS UNUM," meaning, "one nation from many people."


Above the Eagle, you have thirteen stars, representing the thirteen original colonies, and any clouds of misunderstanding rolling away. Again, we were coming together as one.


Notice what the Eagle holds in his talons. He holds an olive branch and arrows. This country wants peace, but we will never be afraid to fight to preserve peace. The Eagle always wants to face the olive branch, but in time of war, his gaze turns toward the arrows.


They say that the number 13 is an unlucky number. This is almost a worldwide belief. You will usually never see a room numbered 13, or any hotels or motels with a 13th floor. But think about this:


13 original colonies
13 signers of the Declaration of Independence
13 stripes on our flag
13 steps on the Pyramid
13 letters in the Latin above
13 letters in "E Pluribus Unum"
13 stars above the Eagle
13 bars on that shield
13 leaves on the olive branch
13 fruits
and if you look closely, 13 arrows
And, for minorities: the 13th Amendment.


I always ask people, "Why don't you know this?" Your children don't know this, and their history teachers don't know this. Too many veterans have given up too much to ever let the meaning fade. Many veterans remember coming home to an America that didn't care. Too many veterans never came home at all.


Share this with everyone, so they can learn what is on the back of the UNITED STATES ONE DOLLAR BILL, and what it stands for...

 

Otherwise, they will probably never know.

 

It's Only a Pin

Copyright 1977, Sumner G. Oesterle, All Rights Reserved

 

Two fond parents watch their boy where he stands,
Apart from his comrades tonight,
And see placed on his camp-battered tunic, a badge...
An Eagle... the emblem of right.
It seems just a few short months have passed
Since he joined with the youngsters next door...
How proud they were then of their Tenderfoot pin
As they told of the message it bore.

But the years have gone as he struggled along
To learn what the Scout Law's about;
He practiced them daily, the Oath and the Law,
Until now he is an Eagle Scout.

You may smile in your worldly wisdom at this
And say, "Why it's only a pin."
But I'll tell you, no honors he'll gain as a man
Will mean quite as much to him.

The red, white and blue of the ribbon you see
Are the symbols of honor and truth.
He has learned how to value these fine attributes
In the glorious days of his youth.

And the out-flinging wings of the Eagle that rests
On the breast of this knight of today
Are the wings which will lift him above petty deeds,
And guide him along the right way.

Yes, it's only a pin, just an Eagle Scout badge,
But the heart beneath it beats true,
And will throb to the last for the things that are good;
A lesson for me... and for you.

 

Just a Boy...

Got to understand the lad-
He's not eager to be bad;
If the right he always knew,
He would be as old as you.
Were he now exceeding wise.
He'd be just about your size;
When he does things that annoy,
Don't forget-he's just a boy.

Could he know and understand,
He would need no guiding hand;
But he's young and hasn't learned
How life's corners must be turned.
Doesn't know from day to day
There is more to life than play.
More to face than selfish joy.
Don't forget-he's just a boy.

Being just a boy he'll do
Much you will not want him to;
He'll be careless of his ways,
Have his disobedient days.
Willful, wild and headstrong, too,
He'll need guidance kind and true;
Things of value he'll destroy,
But reflect-he's just a boy.

Just a boy who needs a friend,
Patient, kindly to the end;
Needs a father who will show
Him the things he wants to know,
Take him with you when you walk,
Listen when he wants to talk,
His companionship enjoy,
Don't forget-he's just a boy.

 

The Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas,

He lived all alone,

In a one bedroom house

Made of plaster and stone.

I had come down the chimney,

With presents to give,

And to see just who in this

Home did live

I looked all about,

A strange sight I did see,

No tinsel, no presents,

Not even a tree.

No stocking by mantle,

Just boots filled with sand,

On the wall there hung pictures

Of far distant lands.

With medals and badges,

Awards of all kinds,

A sober thought came

Through my mind.

For this house was different,

It was dark and was dreary,

I had found the home of a soldier,

Once I could see clearly.

The soldier lay sleeping,

Silent, alone,

Curled up on the floor

In this one bedroom home.

The face was so gentle,

The room in such disorder,

Not how I pictured

A United States soldier.

Was this the hero

Of whom I'd just read?

Curled up on a poncho,

The floor for a bed?

I realized the families

That I saw this night,

Owed their lives to these

Soldiers who were willing to fight.

Soon round the world,

The children would play,

And grownups would celebrate

A bright Christmas day.

They all enjoyed freedom

Each month of the year,

Because of the soldiers,

Like the one lying here.

I couldn't help wonder

How many lay alone,

On a cold Christmas eve

In a land far from home.

The very thought

Brought a tear to my eye,

I dropped to my knees

And started to cry.

The soldier awakened

And I heard a rough

Voice, "Santa don't cry,

This life is my choice;

I fight for freedom,

I don't ask for more,

My life is my God,

My country,

My corps."

The soldier rolled over

And drifted to sleep,

I couldn't control it,

I continued to weep.

I kept watch for hours,

So silent and still

And we both shivered

From the cold night's chill.

I didn't want to leave

On that cold, dark night,

This guardian of honor

So willing to fight.

Then the soldier rolled over,

With a voice soft and pure,

Whispered, "carry on Santa,

It's Christmas day, all is secure."

One look at my watch,

And I knew he was right.

"Merry Christmas my friend,

And to all a good night."

This poem was written by a Marine stationed in Okinawa, Japan. The following is his request. I think it is reasonable.

PLEASE. . . . . Would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people as you can. Christmas will be coming soon, and some credit is due our U.S. service men and women for being able to celebrate these festivities. Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe them.

Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us. Please, do your small part to plant this seed.

Some Additional information on the possible source of this poem.

 

Friends

Many people will walk in and out of your life,

But only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.

To handle yourself, use your head.

To handle others, use your heart.

Anger is only one letter short of danger.

If someone betrays you once, it is his fault.

If he betrays you twice, it is your fault.

Great minds discuss ideas,

Average minds discuss events,

Small minds discuss people.

He who loses money, loses much,

He who loses a friend, loses much more,

He, who loses faith, loses all.

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature,

But beautiful old people are works of art.

Learn from the mistakes of others.

You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.

Friends, you and me...

You brought another friend,

And then there were three,

We started our group,

Our circle of friends,

And like that circle,

There is no beginning or end,

Yesterday is history.

Tomorrow is mystery.

Today is a gift.

 

It's National Friendship Week. Show your friends how much you care by sending this to everyone you consider a FRIEND

 

For Every One Hundred Boys

 Who Join Scouting...

Of any one hundred boys who become Scouts, it must be confessed that thirty will drop out in their first year. Perhaps this may be regarded as a failure, but in later life all of these will remember that they had been Scouts and will speak well of the program.

Of the one hundred, only rarely will one ever appear before a juvenile court judge. Twelve of the one hundred will be from families that belong to no church. Through Scouting, these twelve and many of their families will be brought into contact with a church and will continue to be active all their lives. Six of the one hundred will become pastors.

Each of the one hundred will learn something from Scouting. Almost all will develop hobbies that will add interest throughout the rest of their lives. Approximately one-half will serve in the military, and in varying degrees profit from their Scout training. At least one will use it to save another person's life and many will credit it with saving their own.

Today, four of the one hundred will reach Eagle rank, and at least one will later say that he valued his Eagle above his college degree. Many will find their future vocation through merit badge work and Scouting contacts. Seventeen of the one hundred boys will later become Scout leaders and will give leadership to thousands of additional boys.

Only one in four boys in America will become Scouts, but it is interesting to know that of the leaders in this nation in business, religion and politics, three out of four were Scouts.

This story will never end. Like the "Golden Pebble" of service dropped into the human sea it will continue to radiate in ever-widening circles, influencing the characters of men down through unending time.

 

Scouting's alumni record is equally impressive. A recent nation-wide survey of high schools revealed the following information:

85% of student council presidents were Scouts

89% of senior class presidents were Scouts

80% of junior class presidents were Scouts

75% of school publication editors were Scouts

71% of football captains were Scouts

 

Scouts also account for:

 

64% of Air Force Academy graduates

68% of West Point graduates

70% of Annapolis graduates

72% of Rhodes Scholars

85% of F.B.I. agents

26 of the first 29 astronauts

AND a previous survey of leaders revealed that:

-    seventeen of our United States Senators

-    over 60 of our Congressmen

-    eleven of our state Governors

-    fourteen of our senior military officers

-    over 1700 chief executive officers/presidents/heads of corporations 

are all Eagle Scouts.

Of the 214 former and present astronauts, 142 have taken part in Scouting. 33 became Eagle Scouts, including Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon.

 

The Present

Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course!!!!

 

Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against the "tomorrow".

 

You must live in the present on today's deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success! The clock is running. Make the most of today.

 

To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.

To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the train.

To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask a person who just avoided an accident.

To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics.

 

Treasure every moment that you have! And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time.

 

And remember that time waits for no one. Yesterday is history Tomorrow is mystery Today is a gift That's why it's called the present!!

 

It's National Friendship Week. Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their heart to us. Show your friends how much you care..... Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND. See if it comes back to you, if it does then you probably have a friend for life. Let your friends know how much we appreciate them and what they mean to you. HAPPY FRIENDSHIP WEEK!

 

Santa Is An Eagle Scout
written by Todd McMahon
Santa is an Eagle Scout,
it's very plain to see.
Just listen to this little poem
and you'll agree

Santa navigates by the stars
on Christmas Eve.
After all, his first merit badge
was Astronomy.

To fly his sleigh
with finesse,
Santa took
Aviation merit badge next.

Santa and his reindeer
have a friendly alliance.
He learned it all
while earning Veterinarian Science.

Engineering merit badge
was very hard for Santa Claus.
Going down a chimney is an engineering feat,
if there ever was.

Santa's service project
was for all the boys and girls.
He delivers toys
all around the world.

And lastly, Santa's work on
Communication merit badge was out of sight
That's when he thought of the phrase
"Merry Christmas and to all a good night"

IS THERE A SANTA CLAUS?

by Joel Potischman and Bruce Handy

As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests, and with research help from that renowned scientific journal SPY magazine (January, 1991) - I am pleased to present the annual scientific inquiry into Santa Claus.

1)    No known species of reindeer can fly. BUT there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.

2)    There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn't (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to to 15% of the total - 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.

3)    Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75-1/2 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.

This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.

4)    The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that "flying reindeer" (see point #1) could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine. We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison - this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.

5)    353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecrafts re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each. In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

In conclusion - If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.