Saturday, November 6, 2010

Give blood?

How many out there have donated blood to the Red Cross? The statistics I've seen say 1 in 20. To the 95% who do not or never have donated blood, and are eligible, get lost. You're not doing your share. Are you doing anything else of some worth to make up for it?

Some folks have donated dozens or many dozens of times. I've only done it 8 or 10 times? Don't remember exactly. In any event, I suspect that those who donate blood are also pullling their weight in many other ways as well. To the users out there who take more than they give...........go to hell.

If you're among the 5% who donate, or if you give back to the society at large in other ways, I'll listen to your opinion.

John W. Best

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hartslog Heritage Day

Google 'Hartslog Day'. This one of those small town, day long festivals out in small town America, but, Hartslog Day puts most of them to shame. It's not the shear size, because it has drawn approximately 10,000 visitors into Alexandria, PA every second Saturday of October, for 25 years. Surely one of the outstanding aspects of this festival is that it occurs in a town who's population is approximately 400 people. OK, 2000 if you count properties that are not within the boundaries of the borough.

For 6 or 7 years, I personally invested 3 to 5 days a year setting this festival up. The reason I worked for Hartslog day? It was the main fund raising day for the 3 main churches in town, the fire company, the ambulance service and the scout troops. One church, the Presbyterians, claims that it made over a months worth of offerings by selling hot dogs, bean soup, and soda. They claimed they wouldn't have been able to remain open without Hartslog day. Well, I digress a little, but Hartslog Day keeps essential organizations I listed above far, far healthier, if not alive. THAT is why I spent quite a few volunteer hours hanging signs, moving picnic tables, setting up pavilions, moving and setting up performance stages, bring the chairs and other stuff Don Litzenberger stored in the basement of the Alexandria Library, and plenty other good hard work. So, please get it straight, that festival isn't a self-serving event for the Hartslog Heritage's THE major fundraiser for key civic groups in Alexandria, PA.

Somebody send me an email and give me a nudge and I'll set up a page for the event. Though I no longer live in the immediate area, I made an investment in that community, and I wouldn't mind a bit to help promote the event through some better documentation that this little blog.

addendum: To Don Litzenberger, Sam, John, Charlie, and many others who pitched in, if you can read this, thanks for the experience. Great working with you guys, Peace. To every complainer that never realized what this day did for the genneral good of the people of Alexandria, or those who did and never lifted a finger to help, all of you can go to hell.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Educational Technology Conference

Here's a neat thing I set up to help the teachers/administrators of a small rural school district, Juniata Valley, get a better feeling for 'educational technology'. Though I did this in (about?) 1995, well before the internet was as prolific as today. Still, it ended up drawing teachers from across the state of PA. This sort of exposition could be set up at any school, library , or any public or private building for that matter, and though I wonder if it was worth my effort, it certainly drew a crowd to an event that was very much ahead of it's time. This sort of exposition has as much or more potential today, perhaps even as a combination education event / fundraiser. More thoughts on the "modern equivalent" in the final 'post mortem' paragraph below.

The a first year member of a PTO (Parent Teacher Organization), I heard complaints from teachers that, teachers would like to use more classroom technology, but were never given time to evaluate it. And I wondered, if they were given time, and money, how would they go about it?

The solution....I proposed was to set up a 'technology conference'. Much like a scientific conference or a trade show, the proposal was to invite 'educational technology' venfors to our school as a group, to set up their boots, demo's whatever, and to also invite teachers. Not just our local teachers, teachers from across the state. I knew it would be required to have a large attendance of potential customers in order to draw vendors. In other words, a certain 'critical mass' was needed to make it work. A certain minimum size.

Organizing the solution.....Brochures (thanks Chris Gildea) for the JVETC (Juniata Valley Educational Technology Conference were printed. A mailing list of PA school districts was obtained. A list of vendors was gleaned from various sources, mostly from advertisements in educational publications. Separate attendee and vendor cover letters were written and signed. Volunteers were screened and tasked. Envelopes were stuffed. Follow-up phone calls were made. Double, triple redundant folow-up calls were made until we had a commitment of 30 vendors.

Execution........ The day of the event, volunteers set up and covered tables in a large multi-purpose room in the school building (Juniata Valley Elementary) Vendors started trickling in. Broederbund, IBM, many others, I don't recall. Actually, some vendors came in a day early and checked out the facility, still unsure what we had sold them. Then teachers started arriving. Administrators started arriving. From local schools, county schools, neighboring counties. A number came from the major suburban areas, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The farthest came from Erie PA, a 5 hour drive. All expressed their satisfaction that their time was well spent.

Post Mortem......Based on feedback from the clients (educators), there had not been such a conference to date. The direct link between vendor and end-user, in an intimate setting, was superior to the national shows where these sorts of products had been exhibited. I don't recall the exact amount of effort, I'd estimate 40-80 hours invested over perhaps 8 weeks. The cost, a cheap tri-fold printing, and mailing for 500 school districts, and plenty of phone time diplomatically and persistently persuading. Was it worth it? Certainly I cannot speak to the success of the many many school districts who chase to send an educator or administrator, and I will with hold comment on the only one from which I have any follow-up data......Juniata Valley, the impact of the JVETC conference, held in the most formative stages of the districts venture into technology, is for others to assess. The modern equivalent might certainly employ a web-page instead of the tri-fold, and emailings instead of direct mail, though I question the effectiveness of using such a noisy advertising medium that "webpage/email" has become. The fundraising option seems viable if the event has been absolutely adequately promoted as to have real value as a marketplace. In that event, it seems morally acceptable to charge an admission fee to vendors, and perhaps participants, to cover the costs of assembling the vendors and hosting the event. The effort required is appreciable and certainly has value.

My personal follow-up, given the experience I gained organizing the event, was to run for school board. I was elected, probably because so, so few run for this thankless job, and served for 6 years. But another series of stories.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

About John Best

Certainly by now I'm more than a 'jack of all trades', I'm a very capable bastard in many fields, but only expert in a few. I'll not reach 'Renaissance Man' status in this life, but the fun is in the trip. Basically, I make things. All sorts of things. I wrote, successfully defended, and received a US patent and have three more in process. I design electronics stuff, mostly micro-controllers these days, and write the firmware. I once redesigned a DNA sequencing machine to pass CE (Conformance European) requirements, and it was passed by an independent lab (MET labs) without revision. Oh, what else? I write a good letter to the editor. I hiked 270 miles one summer. I grow 20 or 30 tomato plants every summer, peppers and eggplant too. I remodeled several houses, wiring, plumbing, HVAC roofing, etc. I've done a few sculptures. I've developed manufacturing machinery and processes. I built a vapor-phase soldering machine once. I set up and run my own anodizing line. I program CNC lathes which I use for manufacturing medical devices and art pieces. I have a degree in Letters, Arts and Science, and am was an Electrical Engineer for most of my career. I've written drivers for data acquisition systems. I designed, manufactured and sold a data acquisition board and imaging software to plug into a PC and extract images from Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEM). I easily saved the US trade deficit at least $10 million dollars by allowing users to extend the life of their SEM's. I've started two companies, ELMDAS Co. and Best Instrument, Inc. Blah, blah, what? Here and abroad we still seem to be producing far more babies than we can educate decently and will be able to pull their own weight. I used to do a fair amount of volunteer work, but frankly, I've invested enough time and money raising other peoples kids. I've volunteered THOUSANDS, (not hundreds) of community hours coaching soccer, setting up PTO functions, spend 6 years on a school board 1 as head of the finance committee, I volunteered for a small museum, I set up a community fair for 6 or 7 years, I was a merit badge counselor, initiating and completely organizing all aspects of a science fair for 4 years straight, setting up an educational technology fair for Pennsylvania teachers and many other things I'm not going to take time to recall. I sail. I am a gun totin', meat eatin' Liberal, in the spirit of the Founding Fathers as inspired by the French Enlightenment. Yessiree, a 'man in full'is a man who is full of it, and that is I. I've done enough that I can look any man in the eye and tell him to go to hell, and that is exactly how my Grandmother told me to be.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

John Best What's in a name?

Google your name, and see what pops up. Whoa there! Didn't expect that! Somebody who remains shrouded as a first name only, Joseph, wrote a blog destroying some other 'John Best'.

I missed the point completely at first. So this other John Best has some opinions I don't agree with. I have a far greater problem with an unknown blogger tearing my name apart. It's pure hate. It's focusing frustration on one individual. Whether this other John Best (not me people) has some disagreeable opinions or not, it's as weird to focus so much energy on him (by 'Joseph') as it is for the other John Best to focus so much energy on Mercury as the cause of Autism.

Thus far, it has been like pulling teeth to get Joseph to act with the slightest modicum of sensitivity to the fact that his trashing this other 'John Best' trashes hundreds of people who have this name. Yes, he wrote a tiny disclaimer, and thanks for that at least, but it has no effect on the problem. When I Google MY name, 'John Best' his blog TRASHING the other John Best comes up as the first entry.

Well, there are all sorts of rude people out there in the world. Perhaps the John Best to whom Joseph refers is misguided, or whatever, but Joseph is insensitive and rude. Come out in the open Joseph, and be civil, do the right thing and take down your blog completely. If not, if you choose to remain anonymous and continue to smear MY name, well, I hope there's karma baby.

I mean, I'm not a punk, you know? I've volunteered THOUSANDS, (not hundreds) of community hours coaching soccer, setting up PTO functions, working on a school board, working for a small volunteer museum HHM , setting up a community fair for many years HLD, working as a merit badge counselor, initiating and completely organizing all aspects of a science fair for 4 years straight, setting up an educational technology fair for Pennsylvania teachers and many other things I'm not going to take time to recall, and YOU, Joseph are smearing MY name. Son, I've also spent and donated thousands of dollars on these things, and looking back a lot bigger chunk of my life than most, so how about knocking it off?

Well, time to not give a damn. There's all kinds of people. Anybody that knows me knows I'm not the John Best Joseph is smearing, deserved or not. If they don't know me, well, I suppose I lose some business? So what. Life's too short to worry about it.

Regards,to All Sorts, From the John Best, who is NOT the anti-neurodiversity John Best that Joseph seems to enjoy smearing. What a pathetic pissing match Joseph and John Best have going. .