What would Ben Franklin do?

Greetings, Citizens from G.Robin Smith. I present Chautauqua (1st person presentations) on Benjamin Franklin as fundraisers and educational programs around the Puget Sound (and beyond). This Blog (such an un-musical term) is to try out the medium and to leave (if I stay with it) an account of how the performances go, since they are beginning to take off, it seems. anon, G.Robin.

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Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

see www.Ben-Franklin.org and www.InteractiveHistory.net

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Back from Texas

I went to Texas, in August, on purpose. Delightful. Met with so many fine, gracious, generous and interesting people. My artist's soul was floated on winds of eager listeners. My mortal soul was very well fed in every sense:-)

Flew in on Friday afternoon. Treated to food and local sights. Joe T. Garcia's in Ft. Worth is great. Stock Yards. My host for the weekend is the perfect example of a genteel lady of the South (West). Breakfast performance Sat, then afternoon performance at Hill College in Hillsboro nearby Cleburne (where I was staying). They have a wonderful museum, beautifully put together. We had to bring in extra chairs for the audience. And it was an off weekend for them.

Sat back and dinner. Sunday performance in Cleburne, delightful audience. Met with family of Host.
Connections possible for WA DC followed. Serendipity. Music as well. Quiet conversations at end of day.

Monday, farewells and Engraving tour in Ft Worth. Flew out and Tue at Home with own family. Hope to go back soon.

Blessed am I.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Many More Things, Texas and SeaTac.

Again, it's been too long since I posted. People who do this everyday need a life;-) as I have too much of one it seems.

I am booked to perform as Ben in Texas in August (5 & 6) and trying to schedule other appearences as well when I am down there. Hill College and the Layland Museum (near Dallas Fort Worth)

I am also speaking at the Library Media Convention in SeaTac Wa. in October.

Cym and I, Gary Davis and Steve Berry (sound engineer) are working on the CD for Tril Sean (our first music CD). We have many tracks done and a few more to go.

Must off already. Best, Robin

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

PTA Conference, Texas and onward.

It's been near a month, brave explorers. Much has happened, but with the help of many friends and supporters, we are doing well.

Working on "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" I have discovered much already. 'The World is Flat' being just one (the reality of depth perception and how our brain keeps us from seeing what is really there.) The book really works to break the reader free from those misconceptions and enable the natural way to see.)

On April 21-23, Cym, Gareth and I went to Portland for recording sessions for our first album. We laid tracks for about 6-8 songs and other pieces. Cym and I are going back in a few weeks then Gareth needs to go back for further work. The folk album will (I hope) be done by August for Pennsic.

On April 22, our cat Pangur evidently passed away while we were gone. We miss him very much.

April 25 I did Benjamin Franklin at the Snohomish Library (sponsored in part by the Snohomish Friends of the Library, Hardwick's (www.eHardwicks.com) and The Interactive History Company. Cym introduced me, TheDave (a new friend arranged by Craig) was there and video taped it. We have the rough cut and it looks good enough to send to Clay. We are planning a 2nd one with 2 cameras to actually market. The presentation went well and the audience and Library seemed very pleased.

April 27, Awards Banquet for the Leukemia & Lymphoma SOciety Big Climb Fundraiser. Cym was my date and I was feeling pretty good:-) Very nice hosting done at The Columbia Club at the top of The Columbia Tower. Totals: $460,000 total raised (91% increase from last year) 3,290 participants (52% increase than last year). My totals (7th overall, #2 individual racer for money. $3,316.65 is what my friends and associates raised. We start next year's fundraiser on July 1, 2006:-) Our Team is "The 20,000 League" for that is the dollar amount we want to surpass.

May 1, Cym's an my 11th Anniversary. Spent the day gardening. It was great.

May 4, prepared for the Washington State PTA Convention.

May 5-7, we set up in a display room at the SeaTac DoubleTree Inn. We handed out hundreds of fliers, met many PTA members (I, dressed as Franklin.) We learned a lot, and most importantly, made a very good impression on lots of fundraisers and student advocates. I hope we get many bookings out of this. It was an exhausting weekend, but very rewarding. Sharon Clarke came down on Sunday and helped. The room (mostly arranged by Cym) looked great with displays showing the many classes done by IHC (The Interactive History Co.)

Must run, more anon, Best, Robin.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

NorWesCon and Big Climb

Well, it isn't easy to get to this as I hoped. But needs to be
attended to. It's all writing.
So, hurried and harried. Please enjoy the Blogal (Blog and Global)
Thinking Express

Finished with the Big Climb for this year. Figures seemed to be solid.
I am in #2 place by about 25$. I hope to work what I call a Franklin
Triangle for next year and bring in much more. The Awards Dinner is
on April 27. Cym will be my date!!!:--) Cool:-)
Craig and Jessica (went with me to the Whidbey Island performance) are
interested in helping with the BF performances and with the Big Climb
next year. Raised just over $3,200 this year. Next year basic goal

Whidbey Island performance, thought maybe 6 would show up, had over 30
I think:-) So am happy. The Caretaker was very pleased with how we
left the hall. Have a sponsored gig at Snohomish Library on April 25,
inviting bunches of folks to it. Yayy, Friends of the Snohomish
Library. Dropping off a big poster tonight to them (thank you Cym)

Attended NorWesCon over Easter Weekend. Blast as always. Sold TWO
pieces of Art:-) One to someone I didn't even know. Bought a Matt
Cutting system from Shaughnessey. Have HUGE notes for 2007 and ways
to improve my panels. Plan on helping with Art Show on Sunday and
spend the night Sun as well. Very inspired to write more. Trying
brief Story Intros, feel good about them. Reading 3rd Edition of
"Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain" I've had access to this
book for years and it is hitting me hard with great ideas and
inspiration. I will be drawing soon more to the way I want:-) This is
incredibly cool:-)

Applied to FoolsCapCon.

Too many notes to play right now. Will attend anon, Best, Robin.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Details, never forget the details. For want of a nail...

An important lesson here. In my negotiations with the Waldorf School on Whidbey Island, I assumed their willingness to sell tickets for the performance (for which they received 10 free) and concessions at the performance (all of which I appreciated) that the mention of them on the poster as helping present would be a good thing, and accurate - good free publicity as well. The administration felt uncomfortable with that, however, so I had to re-open the mails and slice off the title from the posters going out to the various media and Libraries I was mailing to...(fortunately, their name as helping was at the very top) Just does not look quite as neat - which bothers me. Also, what to do about the concessions. Perhaps I will rent them space for a donation to the LLS.
Speaking of which, I am proud to say the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) has given permission for the Ben Franklin presentations to include their name on our Website and any publicity we wish to do and to collect and donate funds in their name. It helps, I hope, that my page for The Big Climb is one of the top fundraisers (near $3,000.00) so they realize how dedicated I am to their cause. And what a perfect cause it is for me, personally. How like Frankie was Joseph, the joy of all who knew him. They are sending me banners:-)
Hardwick's seems pleased with my effort in The Climb. I have hung my racing T-Shirt and the official T-Shirt at the Store (4214 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105) for the Customers to see. I today printed another 100 Fundraising fliers to hand out at street corners. I just need a BIG sign to wear so they go to people with at least some interest.
Planning has begun for Fundraising efforts for 2007. The 20,000 League. I am Captain Nemo. Any other Runners are to be designated "1st Mates". Walkers can be Lefttennants or whatever. Crew will be our 2,000 contributers at $10.00 each (that is our goal).
Must off for now. anon, Robin/Ben.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Big Climb - 2006 Report.

Hello, well, I did it. I made The Big Climb.

Below are some thoughts on the day of The Big Climb (the annual Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Fundraising Event.) Over 3,000 climbers went up the 1,311 steps of the Columbia Tower in Seattle (the tallest building in the state) on Sunday March 19, 2006. So far, donations have reached over $177.000.00.

At the bottom of this day's Weblog is a copy of the email I sent out to the many supporters who donated. You can donate for this fundraiser up to April 7th, 2006.
Go to

On Sunday, I got up around 7:00 AM (sleeping in, really). Emily was here from College (Spring Break) and Cym made us a nutritious breakfast:-) We left and headed south to our monthly massage with good friend James at Alexius Bodyworks (a Licensed Massage Therapist). I got a sports massage to prepare my muscles. Traffic was a bit thick and we got to the Columbia Tower a little after 1:00 PM (my scheduled check-in time was 12:45). I was afraid they would deny me my Climb cause we were late. (I was getting stressed, can you tell;-). It was a bit confusing, hundreds of people milling about but Cym and Emily had parked the car, found me and we asked various helpful people who got me to all the right check-ins, got my timing chip, bib number (#1181). I would be able to climb:-)! Cym helped pin my bib # and my montage of pictures of people I was running for to my Hardwick's T-Shirt. She took pictures. Then I hurriedly tried to warm up, stretch, and focus on the Climb. I joined the 1:30 Racing line and we went up (by escalator... odd I thought) to the 4th Floor. NB, Robin was not thinking of how that would throw off the numbers of the floors to climb. He only knew there were 69 floors to climb. More on that in a moment;-)

We were led to the starting entrance of the stair case. Then, one by one, they let us start. About 30 seconds separated each of us. I was about 15 people back. I set my 30 minute countdown timer (the time I wanted to be sure to beat) and my stop watch (to get an estimate of my actual time). I was getting pumped. I put in my ear plugs (to help me concentrate) checked my fanny pack (with tokens of importance from various friends) and prepared.

I shook the hand of the gate person, flashed my timing chip over the computer pad, it beeped showing it had me as starting, then ran into the stair well.

I was determined to start of at a measured pace. That thought vanished in a second. I was feeling so pumped I flew up the first 10 flights two or more steps at a time, passing the two people who started before me. Then about floor 14 or so, oxygen debt hit (ohhh, I was so wrong to start that way). I had to stop taking multiple steps and just established a rapid pace of hitting every step. I passed by a water-cup-passer-outer, took a Dixi Cup (r) and tossed it down. I wasn't really thirsty. I wasn't really sweating. I was just painfully trying to get oxygen into my lungs. The stairwell was moist with spilled water and hundreds of previous climber's panting and sweat. They had air being blown into the stairwell (thank goodness) but I was in pain. I have been training for the last two months, taking stairs at work (up to 121 flights of stairs in one day) but that is only 7, 8 or 11 flights at a time, not sustained. Right then, on The Climb, I had gone beyond my body's ability to catch up... unless I took a break at a landing... which, of course, my focused little mind was not about to do. I slogged on up, I could only wave off other water-bearers, I was unable to speak. I passed by other more sensible people taking a break... thinking about Joseph and the other people I was running for, thinking about getting a good time, looking up at the floor count ("Wow, what happened to floor 25? Here we are, landing 40+" "The stairwell is narrow, I can grab both railings... too bad my arms won't work anymore... I wonder where the bunnies are, why there isn't more grass on this steep lawn? Who am I? Why am I here? This smells like a locker room but where is the towel boy"... did I mention oxygen debt? My brain was already in hibernation but my legs (the main thing I had been worried over: their strength and the weakness of my knees, especially the 3-times dislocated left one, were not even hurting. My lungs were what were screaming.

Finally, floor 60, only 9 more. I should start seeing banners, hear the promised music, the clapping. Floor 65, 66, 67, I put in 'The Kick", pouring out what extra energy I really didn't have... Floor 68... 69 and the door is not open... no one is there... "What's that on the wall?" A small sign. "Look it has letters on it. What is it that letters do?" Ah, yes, words. It says "Almost there". My worst ability, Arithmetic, kicks in. "You started on floor Four. 69 plus 4 is... something more than 69". "Oh" think I, "I have to go up more stairs. OK." I keep what I laughingly call "my Kick" going - something like falling, but upwards - and there I hear the promised music "The Theme from Rocky". I was hoping for "Ode to Joy" but oh, well. I pulled out my little poster of Benjamin Franklin and my quote "I have not just finished. I have only yet begun my fight" from my token laden fanny pack and held it up. There was an open door. A person clapping. Through to door, wave my timing chip over the computer mat. I hear the beep, find with amazement that floors are flat... there are not always stairs involved... round the corner and a camera man takes my picture. I hold my little poster up high (sideways, I realize later) and go into the observation lounge...

I had done it. My Stopwatch gave me the unofficial time of 13.24. I knew it was a few seconds long as I started it before my timing chip got scanned and had a few seconds effort in trying to hit the 'Stop' button when I finished. My legs were fine, but my lungs didn't seem to know I had finished and were trying to create a vacuum in the surrounding landing by taking in all the air they could. There were many folks wandering around, looking at the stunning view. I looked out to the city and promised it would be seeing me again, faster and with a larger donor base, next year.

I went down to the 40th floor (we had to take the elevator, really, rules and all.) Got an orange slice and a yogurt. Signed the dedication sheet (they had over 3,000 climbers overall, the Climb started at 8:00 AM or so and they only had one sheet. There was not much room left on it, but I scribbled in something like "For You, Joseph, and all the others. Love, Robin" and made my way downstairs to the main floor, via elevator and escalator (rules, you know). There was Cym and Emily, surprised but very happy to see me back so soon:-)

I had beaten my planned time goal (30 minutes) by over half. I was coughing, but all else was fine. Legs and knees still fine. Lungs hurt. It was about then that my 30 minute timer beeped. Up, recovered, came back down all in 30 minutes. Cool:-) We got my stuff, returned my time chip, picked up the requisite T-Shirt, left and Cym treated me to fancy Ice Cream (Stawberry Cheesecake & Baklava Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream... Mmmmmm:-). The best part, emotionally, was how proud she said she was. She is my Lady, and such means a lot to a poet-knight. She is considering joining my team next year! Other folks have expressed the same interest. Wow!

A few months ago, someone brought The Big Climb fliers into Hardwick's. I told them they could display them and read one. I got interested and signed up and started doing stairs at work. About 3 weeks ago, I organized my donor Webpage and started putting out emails and letters about the effort and was amazed at the response, the first donor was at $100.00. Many others came in as well at all levels.
The site moved up to the top individual donor page for over a week (we got passed by someone who now sits at over $10,000, but we are still, at this time, #2 with close to $3,000.00). I have plans for next year and people have already said they want to join with me in The 2007 Climb.

This is a quest, a part of my pilgrimage and a great connection with a worthy cause. I was able to re-establish contact with the Boyles - the family of Joseph (see http://holding-yet-his-sword.blogspot.com/). One of the tokens I carried was my old right spur... something they have had since Joseph's funeral 12 years ago. We stopped by their house after the race and gave it back to them and are making arrangements to have dinner(s) and work together educationally as well.

I went to work on Monday, but my lungs were still wheezing. I took Tuesday off and am now home where Cym is taking great care of me (as always). I am staying warm, drinking my healing tea and resting.
I am glad I did this. Glad, a bit humbled by it (the donations and the physical challenge) and inspired for the coming year.

Thank you for your time. I must off to other writing.. and planning, and some rest.
Best of fortunes, safest of journeys, Love, Robin.

-- copy of my Email of Thanks to my Donors --
Greetings from GregRobin,
Thank you for your incredible support for The Big Climb 2006. I did the Climb (and made it to the Top:-)!! and my stats are below. The most important 'stat' so far: You donated over $2,900.00 through the Website

The Climb is over, but the Fundraising for this drive continues until April 7, 2006. If you know anyone who may yet be interested in donating, please send them that Webpage link with a personal note as to why you support this cause. Also, if your company has a matching donation program, please tell them of your contribution so they can match it. Write me for details or go to the main matching funds Website
http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/all_page?item_id=8024 for guidelines.

I am doing this again in 2007 and am forming a Team. If you wish to join our Team for the Climb, or work with us on other Fundraising work for the LLS, let me know at Ben@Ben-Franklin.org.

STATS: FULL Stats are at

The winning time for this year was 7:51. Wow!
Mine was slightly more modest;-)

GregRobin's Stats:

Bib # 1181

Age: 50

Time: 0:13:06

Avg per Flight Time: 0:11

I was the 53rd fastest out of 138 males from 45-59.

I was 338th fastest out of 842 men overall.

I was 403rd fastest out of 1385 racers total (men and women, youth, teens, adults and masters)

I am putting the day's experience on a Weblog. For the fuller tale, go to


Be well, and thank you for the honor of your generosity, Robin.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Fitting in appointments

A typical day.
Up at 4 am, my Maca and Soy tea drink, grab the lunch my wife Cymbric has lovingly prepared the night before. Pull the bike out of the car, off I ride at 4:30 am. Catch the bus 510 to Seattle and get to Seattle around 5:35 am. Read about Ben on the way down (currently Lopez "My Life with..." BF) Ride to UW, stop in at Odegaard UL, do about 10 minutes of email, requests to friends about the fundraiser, deleting spam, washroom then to the bus. Warm up and check out of bus, then runs. At either end, do stairs. Did 70 flights before my lunch at 10:35. To Library. Call Cym on way. More applications (to John Wilson of Cornish about doing a presentation there, Jayney Wallich about recording a performance, check Climb websites, tweak wording and order of paragraphs. Tweaked Squire at War.) Back to bus, mailed a letter for the Climb to Derrick Olson. Finished lunch, listening to NPR all day. Talked to some passengers who were interested in Ben and the Climb. Off work at 3:00 PM, met Cym (unusual to happen). She finished with a Demo in W Seattle, she then saw her Mom and we met and went to U Book Store. I got transfer paper for my Climb T-Shirt. Then to Hardwick's for 90 minutes on the till. Then went to rehearse with Verne on Shakespeare and Mel and Monroe this Sat. Biked to bus, caught it home. Meditated. Kane called. Cym met me at station. Home, put some things away, washed lunch dishes, shower, this, bed ~ 10:00 PM. Late. Tomorrow starts at 4:00 am. anon, Robin.

$2,700 and Flights of Stairs

I am continuing my stair training. Of course, it is not one long slog, but I did 121 flights yesterday and 70 flights so far today (from 7:15 am - 10:15, on breaks between my bus runs. I will see how well I do on Sunday.

Donations up to $2,700 so far. I am planning on standing on a street corner with a big sign "I climbed 1,311 stairs to help support Leukemia Research. All I want you to do is take a flier about it." Or some such.

I need to get out advertising about the Whidbey Island performance of Ben. Time is brief.
anon, Robin.