Collecting Meteorites

When I was a Boy Scout, I subscribed to Boy’s Life magazine. I read it cover to cover.  Sometimes twice.   Great tips on everything.  If a dog attacks someone, pick up the dog’s hind legs (they stop) or wrap your belt around him.  Drowning people rarely splash – watch their head.  Polaris – the North star – never moves in the sky.  It is true North and determines your precise North latitude.    Great articles.   Good stuff.   Even a page of humor. 

One article that I remember to this day is how to collect meteorites.  Yes, meteorites.  Every day, the earth is bombarded with cosmic debris — including an avalanche of tiny meteorites.  Not the big splashy ones that whoooosh through the air leaving trails of brilliant light and make the news when they smack into a house.  I’m talking about dust.  Meteorite dust — and particles.  So how do you collect this cosmic detritus?  Boy’s Life spoke of getting a large tin pan, a piece of cloth in the bottom and setting it outside – perhaps in the garden.  And leave it there for a week.  Then go out with a magnet and run it through the particles that have collected.  Those that stick — especially the pencil-dot sized nuggets — are likely small meteorites.  There may also be remnants of “fly ash” (from coal-burning stoves or fireplaces). 

Good articles and videos about this subject are available today on line.  The best (probably quicker) way suggested to collect meteorites is to put a bucket under a gutter downspout — and then hose down the roof.  The roof is a good collector of such material.  The water from the downspout pours into the bucket.  The heavy stuff (like when you pan for gold) settles to the bottom.  Pour out the water and (unless your roof is metallic) use your magnet to pick up these visitors from outer space.

The Ph.D. of Boyhood

Do you have a son? Grandson?  Want to improve his chance of succeeding in school and as an adult? Encourage him to join the Boy Scouts of America.

In 2012, Baylor University conducted a study of the impact of Boy Scouts – and Eagle Scouts – on society.  The impact was highly positive.  A synopsis of the study can be found at http://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=113239   

The Boy Scouts is by far the largest youth organization in America (2.6 million Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Explorers and Venturers) and the best youth organization ever devised.  Eagle Scout service projects constitute the largest youth service initiative in history (150 million hours and counting).  And 3 million souls are alive today because they, their parents or grandparents had their lives saved by a Boy Scout.

On November 17, 2015, Michael Malone penned an article for the Wall Street Journal on Scouting.   Malone calls the path to the Eagle Scout award “the Ph.D. of Boyhood.”  I’m glad – make that lucky – I have my Ph.D. . . . .  

As a parent, you could not wish a better activity for your son (or daughter) than Scouting.  America desperately needs youth – and adults – who abide by the Scout Law – to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Wouldn’t it be nice if our politicians would abide by these principles (see post of September 12, 2011).   

Winning the Lottery

You hear about the Mega Millions Jackpot reaching 300 million dollars. The Powerball is 400 million dollars. Everyone in the world buys at least a “quick pick.” Hoping. . . .  But the big question is what happens if you win?  If you take the money (often paid out over 20 years), when all is said and done, your tax will be about 50%.  Or more.   So you win 300 million smackers — the feds and your state will karate chop your hand before you get a nickel.  And then anything you earn on the retained amount is taxed like there is no tomorrow. . . .

I have a theory.  Let’s say you win $300 million.  You pick your 5 or 10 favorite charities:  Salvation Army; Red Cross; Augustana College; the Boy Scouts of America; Misericordia; and so on.  And you belly up and tell them “Look.  Here’s the deal.  You agree between you to split the $300 million.  You pay no tax because – voila – it’s all charitable income.”  And you hand them the winning ticket.  Those charities will be on this like a football player jumps on a fumble.  But what about you? 

You tell the charities that their ownership of the winning ticket (don’t call it a “gift”) is informally conditioned on them providing you each year with a stipend (perhaps the max you can give an individual without tax consequence).  This amount can be paid each year to yourself, your spouse, children, etc.  It’s way more than enough to incentivize the charities.  The IRS will bite its knuckles and the state(s) will growl.  But who knows?  It might just work.  Everybody wins.  🙂  Accountants I’ve spoken to suggest that such an arrangement would be challenged.  But ain’t it worth the try?  I like this.  All the money is used for charitable purpose instead of paying off debt to China or paying the salaries of bureaucrats.  I look forward to considering this when I win the Lottery.  Again.