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From The Chief Editor's Desk...

Both of my kids, Ryan and Lexi, are in Cub Scouts. They thoroughly enjoy their Cub Scout experience. Just last weekend, they both competed in their second Pinewood Derby race.

Their first time was two years ago. A lot has changed over the past two years. The COVID pandemic forced the cancellation of last year's Pinewood Derby race. But, they competed the previous year. Ryan was a Lion Cub Scout, and Lexi, too young to be an "official Cub Scout," entered a car in the sibling category. Ryan won second place in his den with his Bumblebee car, and Lexi won first place in the sibling division with her Cruz Ramirez car.

The pandemic was hard on the kids' original Cub Scout pack. Through the attrition caused by the pandemic, their pack was merged with another pack in town. So this year, Ryan is a Wolf Cub Scout, and Lexi is old enough to be an official Lion Cub Scout.

Their cars this year didn't fare as well as they did the previous time they participated in the Pinewood Derby. And dad learned a lesson, as well. Get the cars as close as possible to the five ounce (about 140 grams) weight limit without going over. I tried to keep it under the five ounce weight limit, just in case the official scale at the weigh-in was off from my scale at home (they are both digital scales, so there shouldn't be that much variance). I undershot the weight limit by too large of a margin, which sacrificed speed.

Of course, there's a whole "science" to making the Pinewood Derby cars so they go as fast as possible. Just search on YouTube, and you'll find a lot of videos devoted to just this very topic. Applying slight bends to the axles, using graphite lubricant on the axles, raising one wheel ever so slightly so there are only three wheels in contact with the race track, placing your weights just so, paying attention to the center of balance. The list could go on and on and on.

During this year's "cut-out-athon" where the kids cut out their car shapes on temporarily donated band saws, we were unable to attend. My wife was in quarantine for a breakthrough COVID infection (that me and the kids, thankfully, never showed any symptoms of having). That left me with the prospect of hand cutting/carving the cars, or buying my own band saw. I mentioned to my wife about getting the band saw to cut out the cars, and she said "I can't even count how many times you said you wish you had or needed a band saw, so go ahead and get it." Score! This year's Pinewood Derby netted dad the band saw he's needed for so long.

Ryan's car this year was an homage to Optimus Prime. While not in the shape of Optimus (that would be a bit hard to pull off in a Pinewood Derby car and still be competitive), the paint job was blue with red flames. Ryan's car came in fourth (out of four cars) in two of his heats, and second (out of four cars) in the other two of his heats. Lexi's car this year was a purple monster. It was actually a very slender wedge shaped car, painted a color-shifting pearlescent purple paint. Her car came in fourth (out of four cars) in all four of her heats.

Still, even though they didn't "win," they had a good time and learned a lot about fair competition and good sportsmanship. I wouldn't miss it for the world!

Until next month, I bid you peace, happiness, serenity, prosperity, and good health. Oh ... and Happy Valentine's Day!

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