Friday, December 21, 2018

Featured: The Most Connected Lodge in the World

Palo Alto, CA -- "We are probably the single most connected lodge in the US, if not the entire world," said Berkley Mosaic, Worhipful Master of Gateway Lodge No. 502, deep in the heart of Silicon Valley. "While other lodges have a DC, or Director of Ceremonies, we have a Director of Communications.."

WB Mosaic told The Past Bastard, "A lot of our members are tech users, and have moved in and out of the area as the work changes, and we want to keep the members informed and, more importantly, engaged. That's why, years before most lodges even had an email address, we already had a T1 line, optical fiber, and our own web server right in the second floor office. Our original web page was hand coded by some of the guys that actually contributed to the early Hypertext Markup standards, although now we just have a Wordpress template because it's easier to maintain from our mobiles."

The server closet houses the high tech equipment that
allows the members of Gateway Lodge No. 502
to remain in constant contact with each other.
The Director of Communications, WB Steve Case, told us,"Personally, while I don't mind the web page, it's static media. People don't communicate that way. Over the last ten or twelve years, we've been very heavy on 'push' information: we have automatic SMS and WhatsApp messages for reminders and meeting updates. We maintain a Google Hangout group for the building committee, and some of the guys abroad keep updated with our WeChat account. Naturally we have a Facebook page for listing meeting highlights, events, and stuff like that. One of our guys, Nathan Motif, built a social media aggregator that will send out the notices onto Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Tumblr, LinkdIn, Foursquare, Xanga, Instagram, MeWe, Google Plus, Vero, and LiveJournal."

"Nobody can possibly miss a notice with all this going on," WB Moasic added. "In fact, we have a voice transcription of the minutes, so right after the meetings, brothers get a PDF copy, and a link to a SoundCloud file where they can actually hear the minutes being read."

WB Mosaic went on to tell us, "Last year, we installed webcams at all the officers stations, plus near a few other seats in the sidelines, and set it up so that brothers elsewhere could connect on a digitally secure line, and watch the meetings in real time. It was great for some of the old-timers, too, who don't get out much anymore."

The Past Bastard asked WBs Mosaic and Case how much all the enhanced communication has increased attendance.

"Umm, yeah, that's the odd thing," WB Case said. "We don't quite understand it, but the attendance at meetings has actually dropped off. We thought it was a seasonal thing, but over the last couple of years, we hardly get anyone but officers attending, and sometimes they just Skype in from their home."

"Some people have suggested that giving the guys so much information has made it, well, unnecessary for them to even come to meetings anymore," said WB Mosaic, "but I find that hard to believe. We're writing up a SurveyMonkey to explore it this weekend."

Monday, December 17, 2018

Rhetorical Voices: Does your lodge have a Xmas tree?

The Past Bastard interviews random members from random lodges on random topics of Masonic importance. 

Question: Do you have a Xmas tree in your lodge?

Dexter Wigglesworth, Junior Warden, Intemperance Lodge No. 420: 
"A Christmas tree? Ugh, please educate yourself. The Christians stole the traditions of the pagans in the areas in order to force their orthodoxy on the people they were conquering. Please don't call it a Christmas tree; it's a Yule celebration of the equinox, symbolizing how life carries through beyond death."
Diana Prince, Worshipful Master, Amazonian Lodge, HFAF:
"Well, we wanted to, especially since we now have a real lodge space, and we don't have to rent that room over the truck stop anymore. The problem is, Brother Sarah picked one up from the Home Depot store, but when we got it here, none of us could lift it up the stairs. So, right now, it's sitting in the lobby until we can get a decorating committee together, which probably won't happen until January because everyone's so busy at this time of the year."
Mary Steinberg, Past Worthy Matron, Nile Chapter, OES:
"Your'e kidding, right? I mean, don't you know we had that fine last year from the state fire board or whatever? Can't have live trees in public buildings anymore, 'cos the potential fire hazards, you know? Oh, sure, we might have gotten a nice artificial tree from Target, but no-o-o-o, that harpy Nancy Winters had to put up a fuss over it. "Oooh, it's too much plastic fumes, I can't breathe, it'll give me a migraine!" Yeah, that shrew smokes a pack a day, but she has chemical sensitivity around a plastic tree? Puh-leeze."
Hudson Hawk, Past Master, Shibboleth Lodge:
"You damn liberals screw up everything, you know that? An EX-Mass tree? Hell, no, it's a God damned CHRIST-Mass tree, ya hippie! I'm so tired of you liberals trying to take the Jesus out of the holiday. "

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Virginia Lodge blackballs a well known public figure

Alexandria, VA - Anonymous sources in the Grand Lodge of Virginia have leaked information to The Past Bastard about a particular lodge in Alexandria that has blackballed a candidate. While this bit of information wouldn't  normally attract any attention (it's Virginia, after all), further investigation showed that the petitioner, Santa Claus, was actually blackballed by XXX-XXX Lodge No. XXX.

Cute jokes about Santa Claus being a Freemason
will soon stop in Virginia, after members of a
certain lodge blackballed the petition.
Assuring confidentiality, The Past Bastard contacted several of the members about this. They agreed to meet with The Past Bastard at an undisclosed Starbucks to give us more information.

"Yes, it's true," one member admitted. "While most of our members were happy about Santa Claus joining, a few old timers were pretty against the idea.  But, to be fair, there were plenty of extenuating circumstances. For one thing, it's not clear that he's actually a resident of Virginia. I mean, we have lots of politicians who live around here, and they get a pass, but this guy doesn't seem to have any one particular address. And the address we do have for him, is, well, you know."

Another member agreed, and added, "Yeah, but that wasn't the real reason he was blackballed. The real reason was because some of the guys learned that his actual name was Niko, and he was originally from Turkey. So, they  had some concerns that he might secretly be a Muslim terrorist, and started a whisper campaign to get the others to blackball him. It's against the rules to publicly discuss someone, but we all  know that Masons can't hold a secret to save their lives."

The Past Bastard asked the group if the petitioner's long history of being associated with Christmas wasn't enough to deflect those opinions.

"Yeah, a couple of us did mention it. Quietly, you know, because of the rules and all that. But oddly, it just seemed to make it worse. I mean, the guy has no work history -- how does he afford to live on a part time job? Hell, how does he even get paid, right?"

"Yeah, and that brought up another question," another member told us. "He's got all these elves, right? That sounds to us like he's getting an under-the-table income, and paying a bunch of illegals." He looked around, and a few of the group reluctantly nodded. "I mean, I'm sorry, but that's just not a good look. We don't really want to be associated with that kind of thing, if you get my drift."

Before we parted ways, one of the members told The Past Bastard, "The sad part is that even if he gets this stuff cleared up, we'll have to wait at least a year before he tries to petition again, and I doubt that any members of the lodges around here would go for it. I wrote him a little note suggesting that he might have an easier time if he applied to a lodge in San Diego. California has some pretty lax rules, so they probably wouldn't mind a quasi-homeless guy who's friendly with illegals."

The Past Bastard notes that this would not be the first time that well known figures have been denied entry to a lodge.

Friday, December 7, 2018

BSA sees sudden spike in interest from Masonic lodges

Irving, TX - Community Services staff at the Boy Scouts of America offices have been overwhelmed with requests for information about sponsoring Eagle Scouts and other groups after a post from the Freemasons for Dummies blog showcased an Eagle Scout who replaced the dilapidated lodge sign with something more modern.

"Look at this inbox, there must be six or seven hundred emails here that we haven't even read, let alone the several hundred we've already answered this week," said Jared Morales, BSA Community Services Coordinator. "Plus dozens of actual letters. I've stopped even checking my voicemails."

Morales explained to The Past Bastard that since the November article, lodges from all over the US have been asking how they could get Eagle scouts to repair or renovate features in those lodges. "Some lodges wanted new signs like in that Dummies article, but others are asking for things like interior or exterior painting, fixing the roof, new landscaping, replacement windows... no, I'm not joking." He pulled out an email marked up with highlighter. "Look, this lodge is asking for an Eagle Scout to replace their furnace. It's crazy."

The Past Bastard contacted some of the lodges sending in the requests.

"Well, we thought that replacing a sign was a poor choice," said WB Jason Hodor, Secretary at St Elmo's Lodge in Hampstead, Oklahoma. "Sure, it looks pretty, but our buildings need some real work. That's why we asked about sponsoring a Scout to maybe get some of his buddies and replace the north side of our roof. It's been leaking in heavy rains last couple of years, and we thought it best to do something now before it gets worse."

The Past Bastard asked why the lodge members don't repair the roof themselves, or hire a local contractor.

"What, do guys think we have King Solomon's treasury or something? That kind of thing takes money, and we're barely getting by on the $55 a year dues; we don't have much extra for things like the roof."

"We don't need an Eagle Scout project," said WB Mick Mickerson, Treasurer of North Fork lodge in South Bend, Indiana. "We were really just looking for kids to mow the lawn regularly, and maybe do some weeding and trimming. The DeMolay boys used to do that for us, but after the chapter closed, nobody's been around to do that for us."

The Past Bastard asked if anyone had contacted the high school or Craigs List to see if anyone wants to pick up a few dollars for mowing the lawn."

"What, you mean, pay them?" asked Mickerson. "We didn't pay the DeMolay boys, so we really hadn't considered going that far."

"We've got a good project lined up, if we could find some young scouter kid who's not too lazy," said RWB Jake Rapper, Secretary at Beehive Lodge in Apian, North Carolina. "The summers get pretty hot and humid here, and it's making the paint come off the building. We could really use a good Eagle Scout to paint the exterior, maybe scrape some of the loose paint, do some caulking around the windows. You know, to fix the place up a bit."

The Past Bastard mentioned to RWB Rapper that, from the pictures, the lodge would need a lot of paint.

"Oh, that's no problem," Rapper explained. "All of us got some some extra paint from the times we did our own houses. We figured the kid could, you know, just combine them all and we should have about enough. We tried it a couple of years ago as a test, and it comes out a grayish brown color. It's stylish, and we'd save hundreds of dollars that way."

Coordinator Morales told us that while he was happy so many lodges were showing a renewed interest in the Boy Scouts, he was concerned that they were just looking for free labor.

"I don't know much about the Masons, frankly. I used to think that they were mainly rich, old guys, so I'm mystified as to why none of these lodges seem to have enough money to pay for maintenance and upkeep. All they want to do is to get free labor for things they could have probably paid for themselves if they had enough foresight to put a few bucks away every year. "