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.

My Photo
Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

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

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.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More Donations, Good Keynote at Chelan

Greetings. This is now 03/13/06
Back from a successful weekend at Lake Chelan at the Educators (Social Studies) retreat there. I got to the Keynote talk on Saturday night. It went well (_very_ well says Cym:-)
I hope the conference gets us into lots of schools. The ability of the Franklin evening program to earn the schools enough money to pay for our daytime programs is, I hope, attractive. We will see.

The Leukemia fundraiser is going well. My friends have donated over $2,500.00 so far and I hope it will be more.

So short of time... more anon, Robin.

Monday, March 06, 2006

$750 donated for Leukemia Research

Sometimes things stare at your face and you don't see them for the longest time. I have been looking for charities to tie the Ben Franklin presentation to (in addition to Schools and the like) and I signed up for the Leukemia Foundation's "Big Climb" (http://www.active.com/donate/bigclimb06/GregRobin) and it finally made sense... "The Squire at War/Holding Yet His Sword" story (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/chivalry_is_yet-a-guide/message/183)
This is what it was written for, to drive awareness for the Foundation. This isn't 'Center of my Universe', but it is a gravitational well around which I orbit. People already have donated $750.00 (four $100.00 donors, wow). One person is going to climb with me, even. Humbly, I begin to sense a life purpose here beyond education reform. A defining role that the public can understand better than what I may present in various incarnations else wise.

In other news: I have been asked to be the Keynote Speaker at the Lake Chelan Conference for Social Studies (see http://www.wscss.org/chelan/default.html). I will be speaking, as Ben, Saturday night. It may connect with the educators there as a school presentation, as a Fundraiser and as a Keynote giver for other such conferences. That is my hope.

Also: Working with Jen and Emily at Rhizome (my brochure producers and branding advisers) about the new Ben page. Good thoughts on the development.

More anon, Robin.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Big Push. The Big Climb.

It's Wednesday, Mar 1, 2006. It's been several days since I last weblogged ("Blog" still is so un muse able to my ear). Not always easy, but getting into the habit.

The Big Push = getting the word out on the April 7th show on Whidbey Island. Gathering a list of local schools, fire departments, post offices, Masonic Lodges, Newspapers, the Navel Base and clubs.

Got a supportive email from one of the Parents at the Whidbey Island school to inform me they are meeting to discuss which benefit option the school will take up (10 free tickets for them to sell, sell all the tickets, get all proceeds after 50 (ie #51-70) but no money out of pocket or, option #3, buy the 70 tickets for ~half price and sell them for more.) I believe the model can work. Glad to see another school take interest.

Performed this weekend last in Tonasket (N.Central Wa State) Medieval/Renaissance style, but talked to several friends about bringing the Franklin program to their region, including Vancouver, BC.

Last Friday (Feb. 24, 2006) did a Franklin presentation for 5th and 6th graders at Norman Rockwell School (long Medieval class relationship with them there). At first, few questions, then they fired up and the 100 or so kids were popping hands up like fireworks on the 4th:-) Good questions, only two of the "aren't you dead?" kind.

Making plans to go to the Teacher retreat in Lake Chelan on the weekend of the 10-12 of Mar (Washington State Council for the Social Studies (http://www.wscss.org/). We are displaying our programs for the teachers there. Also, it's at Lake Chelan. Not a bad thing for us to go and enjoy the evenings there, in addition to advertising the program.

Signed up for the Big Climb for Leukemia (Mar 19). (www.lls.org/wa/bigclimb) I hope to raise $2,500 for the cause. Need to advertise it to my friends and co-workers.

More anon, Robin.