Buckley's blog

GIRL POWER: Through My Eyes on WGBH

China Through My Eyes with the Hong Kong Girl GuidesWGBH Kids Travel Series Makes Splash in Hong Kong

In this second episode, after a good night's sleep, Ava and Sofie are bright-eyed and ready for a visit with the Hong Kong Girl Guides - a faraway equivalent to their own familiar Daisy and Brownie troops back home.

Proudly wearing their troop vests and carrying some gifts and patches to share, Sofie and Ava are eager to meet Chinese girls their own age. The girls take part in an Easter basket-making project (with a troop leader named Circle), meet a younger Happy Bee Guide, and older Girl Guides molding chocolate Easter treats. They address a roomful of welcoming Girl Guides, receiving rock star treatment and making many new friends along the way.

The new elementary education travel series, featuring two Cape Cod girls, will continue through the fall on WGBH's Kids page.  Watch their previous episode Dim Sum for Breakfast.

Boston's WGBH is PBS's single largest producer of Web and TV content (prime-time and children's programs), including Nova, Masterpiece, Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Curious George, Arthur, and The Victory Garden. Learn more about China: Through My Eyes on their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/tmeyes.

Cape Cod Girls on WGBH

Sofie and Ava of Through My Eyes in TorontoPBS Powerhouse Kids site features China travels of Sofie and Ava

Cape Cod's globetrotting girls have landed on WGBH's Kids page.  Watch their premiere episode here.

In the first episode, fellow travelers Sofie and Ava experience international flights, changing time zones, new languages, and interesting foods when they arrive in Hong Kong, where the weather is quite a bit warmer than home, and the taxi driver sits on the opposite side of the car.

Watch as the girls discover that dim sum is delicious and eating with chopsticks takes practice.The new elementary education travel series, featuring two Cape Cod girls, will continue through the fall.

Boston's WGBH is PBS's single largest producer of Web and TV content (prime-time and children's programs), including Nova, Masterpiece, Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Curious George, Arthur, and The Victory Garden. Learn more about China: Through My Eyes on their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/tmeyes.

Irene hits Chatham at high tide

Along the Oyster Pond in Chatham, boats are driven far up on shore.  Irene's storm surge hit right at high tide, which was higher than normal anyway.  Aside from very light scattered showers, no real rain has been seen today.

An HRH Classic: Panic in Chatham as Hurricane Nears

A blast from the past -- not Hurricane Irene, but Bill from 2009.  Little has changed.

At the time we wrote:  "The Hit and Run History crew heads out into the madness.  There's a mad dash for parking in front of the Chatham Lighthouse as not much is to be seen while Hurricane Bill approaches."


Those Cape Cod Girls are hitting WGBH

Cape Cod's own Sarah Colvin interviews Through My Eyes Director Jen Sexton about the upcoming China series on WGBH.org.  The new elementary education travel series, featuring two Cape Cod girls, will premiere next month.


Boston's WGBH is PBS's single largest producer of Web and TV content (prime-time and children's programs), including Nova, Masterpiece, Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Curious George, Arthur, and The Victory Garden. Learn more about China: Through My Eyes on their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/tmeyes.

Cape Cod Girls in China

Catch these two footloose and fancy-free girls as they head to China's Pearl River Delta.
Watch this elementary education travel series this fall on WGBH.org.

Through My Eyes is a travel cable and web series for use in elementary classrooms. It features the encounters of two girls, Ava and Sofie, age 7 & 8, as they travel the world.

Through My Eyes loves Air Canada!These girls will take classrooms along experientially on their voyages of discovery like no grown-up presenter can. Videos will run 5-8 minutes and feature anything from a trip to the market to a visit to a Confucian temple to visiting penguin nesting grounds and attending an elementary school in another country.

This is an exciting new teaching tool that will creatively engage students in social studies, geography, language and history.

We're passionate about education, and we want to share this story. The girls will also be available to screen our series and participate in live programs in schools and museums in-person in the Northeast or via Skype throughout the country.    

Thanks to CapeKids and Air Canada for their generous support.    

Debt Downgrade A Sore Subject

Hit and Run History in the FalklandsSo with the recent credit downgrade of U.S. debt by S&P, I've been thinking a lot about ratings and debt. Nation states are not individuals or families, but it is difficult sometimes not to simplify government challenges into problems we all face in our lives.

In early April, just days before we were set to head to China to film our forthcoming series, Through My Eyes, for WGBH, I noticed some heat and cold sensitivity in a tooth with a ten-yearold gold crown. Naturally, it grew steadily worse throughout our 12 days there, and upon my return, I immediately saw my dentist. I had only a week before heading off to the Falklands in May.

My x-ray showed the crown was not, as I had long thought, covering a root canal but a living tooth. Now it was infected down at the tip of the root. He prescribed antibiotics for the infection referred me to an endodontist who took several giant x-rays and scheduled me for a root canal as soon as I was to return from the Falklands in mid-May.

The cost of a root canal of this kind - involving drilling through the gold crown - was substantial. But it was unavoidable. Luckily, I had a separate account with a company specializing in medical financing. The antibiotics knocked the pain right down in the meantime.

Off I went with Hit and Run History, to the other end of the Atlantic, then, pain-free and knowing it would all be taken care of when I got back. So when in the Falklands we were stranded by fog and left to fend for ourselves a whole week in a location with limited and expensive telephone and internet, the first thing I did was to reschedule my root canal appointment.

Having paid all my regular bills ahead of time, I still tried to keep an eye on finances while using the $10 per hour wi-fi in these islands down in the far South Atlantic. After a week down there, I noticed the pain sensitivity returning to the tooth, and then some. When I raised the idea of possibly having to see a dentist in the Falklands, several locals warned me away from it. So, yes, soon I was actually looking forward to my root canal.

Returning home, my dental work was at last completed. Soon, though, it was found (by a very familiar increasing pain) that the neighboring root was also infected. So it was back for another happy hour in the chair, and another large charge on that medical account.

Right beforehand, just to be sure, I checked the available credit on the account. That's when I discovered I was late on my bill. The giant X-ray charges had gone on the account, the bill arrived and came due, all while I was stuck in the Falklands.

Like most Americans, over the years, no matter the amount of money owed (rent, auto, medical, student loans), I have found ways to able to make payments even when things were tight. After all, the reasoning goes, no matter how little you make, a good credit rating is worth a lot. And conversely, you can't buy a good credit rating.

That WAS the reasoning. But from what Americans have learned over the past two years, investment banks and hedge funds were indeed leveraging their business with agencies like Standard & Poors in return for excellent credit ratings on what we now know were toxic assets. AIG, which insured these securities, nearly went into default - until it was saved by the U.S. taxpayer, which still owns a large part of the company - paying Goldman Sachs and other investment banks' claims on mortgage-backed securities written by Bank of America and others that were designed to fail.

So it is ironic that within days of S&P downgrading the United States' debt to AA+, AIG filed a $10 billion suit against Bank of America for fraudulently inflating the value of its mortgage-backed securities. It was only because of a far too cozy relationship between banks that created these securities, and the rating agencies hungry for their business, would AIG issue insurance. And now AIG is stepping forward to call at least one bank to account where the U.S. government has so far failed to act.

S&P seems to be a little late to religion here, then. One can only imagine what the state of the U.S. economy might be today if rating agencies had held the line by refusing to give AAA status to what were at best junk bonds, and more realistically, insurance scams. Even a milder recession would mean higher tax revenues, and thus a lower deficit and a great likelihood of repayment of our debt. Yes, the bickering in Washington was not encouraging, and still isn't, but S&P's past performance indicates a partial culpability.

In my case, I called my medical financing company immediately and explained how I came to miss the payment. Perhaps it was the terror in my voice. Perhaps it was a story too ridiculous to be made up ("You were where? Penguins? What?"). Regardless, they came through, saying as long as I made a payment right away it would not be reported. No harm done.

Personal equivalencies are always tricky. Because of a situation beyond my control, I miss a payment, but am given a pass. The U.S. almost misses a payment and they get called for it... by a private company with a checkered past. The simple risk analyses would seem to suggest there is a lesser likelihood of my getting stranded on another island for weeks at a time than for Congress and the President to agree on sound fiscal and budgetary policy. This does not encourage me.



Read this and Andy's other columns online at The Cape Cod Chronicle


A Chatham Film Festival

South Beach, Chatham, Mass."It would showcase the homegrown creative economy here." Three years ago, Matt Griffin and I were hashing out plans for starting Hit and Run History. Since I tend to walk around when I brainstorm (and the more broad the possibilities, the wider space I range across) we were out on my back deck. And the focus had turned from how we would make a film on John Kendrick and the Columbia Expedition, spanning the globe and two centuries, and toward an outlet.

Where would we take it once we were done with it?

There were certainly the traditional broadcast outlets. Discovery, Travel and History channels all seemed to be running out of fresh content. This is even truer today than it was in 2008. NatGeo was seeming to turn into part Lonely Planet and part Fear Factor. And PBS was facing a dwindling audience despite and/or because of following earlier patterns of success (see "Burns, Ken").

On the other hand, there was social media, withYouTube especially coming on strong. Exposure worldwide is great.

However, money was an issue. How do you pay for airline tickets to the far side of the globe when you're an online series?

So we began to talk about doing screenings locally. This is a local story, after all. But with no experience in filmmaking,we knew we'dhit some roadblocks.

We were especially battling against the tendency to say that in order to make a series like this, we'd have to move to New York or Los Angeles. But why? With the advances in digital filmmaking, there really is no advantage when filming. Our subject is the first American voyage ‘round the world - not around Manhattan. As for editing, practically all of that work takes place in a small distraction-free room staring at a computer screen.

The software is the same. The computers are the same. Apretty good argument could be made that living in a large city, with a variety of entertainment and cuisine, would be more distracting. For nine months out of the year, Chatham has what it takes to pay attention to minute things. We've been doing it for centuries, after all.

Knowing the Cape was just lousy with creative people looking for outlets, as we discussed showing our finished product locally, I raised the idea of a Chatham film festival.

Woods Hole Film Fesival Banner

Nantucket has a world-famous one. And Provincetown. Even little Woods Hole, another end of the road place, has a film festival. Like Chatham, each has an identity that reaches well beyond Massachusetts.

Although the existing festivalsdon't quite have a local focus. Why not have a film festival in Chatham that gives local filmmakers the chance to reach and personally engage with a larger audience?

The first concern was venues. Chatham, as a community, has failed to maintain a commercial movie theater. It is unlikely that one would be built here, either, in light of the cost of land and the number of regulatory hurdles. A place that makes its money mostly on popcorn sales, not tickets, needs high volume. Then again, people are going to the movies less and less. Why, when you can rent the same movie at home and watch it on a largescreenTV? But there are plenty of places in town with very large-screen televisions. Restaurants and taverns would be natural options. Providing a more intimate venue, they would give a filmmaker and an audience a chance to enjoy, discuss and critique a film in a casual setting.

Provincetown International Film Festival

In addition, we do have places that can seat even larger audiences. The community center screening room holds just under 100. There are the elementary and high school theaters. Perhaps there are other venues that could be available. Certainly there is a way to do this if a festival can match its goals to its resources.

As for filmmakers, don't let the number of filmmakers you know judge the number of entrants you think would likely show up. And don't think just feature-length films. Some festivals are only shorts, meaning less than 40 minutes. Some are under 10 minutes. So you could save the bigger venues for longer works, and have a number of shorts shown in smaller ones.

Aside from practical concerns, there is the artistic. To get people to apply themselves creatively, there would have to be integrity. What would not work is to make this simply a gauzy postcard from Chatham. Anyone who has grown up and worked around here can tell you there is much more diversity of views and expression than our cedar-shingled houses and hydrangea-ed borders would lead one to believe.

A local angle - a local focus - perhaps one tied to the sea, or the sense of place here, would set a Chatham film festival apart.

Within three to five days of screening scores of films, amongst a variety of venues, Chatham could both invigorate the Cape's creative economy and draw in a host of visitors who may have dismissed us as pretty but closed to new ideas.

That's the idea, at least. Maybe it could work. Maybe July is the best time to start talking about it.


Read this and Andy's other columns online at The Cape Cod Chronicle.   


Sealers Cove, Saunders IslandStranded in the Falklands,

Part 2

Six thousand five hundred miles from home, 400 miles east of South America, and only 800 miles north of Antarctica, I came to realize a few key truths.

The first was that peoples living in similar geographies can relate to them very differently. Having spent a week in the Falkland Islands, following the story of John Kendrick and the Columbia Expedition, with our crew from Hit and Run History, some things felt fairly familiar. Talking about their tourist season (here in the Southern Hemisphere being November to March), we heard stories of how it was common for locals to work two or three jobs. Farmer/tour guide, for example. Or police officer/bar tender/taxi driver. Come to think of it now, that last combination makes a lot of sense.

That's the sort of jack-of- all-trades adaptation to a seasonal economy that Cape Codders are known for. Nimble like a catboat, we can turn on a dime...typically to save one, if not make one.

On the other hand, here we were amongst these islands - their treelessness compounding their vast open spaces - and only took a boat ride once.

Yes, certainly, the weather in May was akin to late November on Cape Cod.

Kane Stanton meets a local in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

But we weren't there for anything other than tracking the movements of the first American voyage ‘round the world. This wasn't a golf vacation or a series of board meetings. We tried every chance we could to get outside into the wild. With 3,000 people scattered across a collection of islands totaling about the size of Connecticut, you would be forgiven to think you'd find a seafaring people. Instead, the place has grown up connected more to sheep herding. That and taking advantage of its location at the approach between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

The Falklands are pretty much the equivalent of that "Last Gas for 200 miles" sign on a lonely stretch of highway in the desert Southwest. You stop here for your provisions, coming or going, or you take your chances. That's a very different kind of economy from ours. It also means that there's a lot of mutton available from sheep that have outlived the usefulness of their wool. For a land whose high sustained winds and otherwise tundra-ish climate discourage a lot of vegetable farming (and ongoing tensions with Argentina complicate produce shipments), the high protein, low greens diet made us yearn for even a decent glass of orange juice. And there's where I came to a second truth.

Having lived in Europe years back, and then recently traveled to China this April, and through Chile on our way down to the Falklands, I can say with a clear conscious: America may be falling behind in educational, economic and technological advancement, but at least we know how to make OJ.

I can't say what it is about European orange juice except it always seems rather thin. Not watered-down maybe. Just like it had been really strained and perhaps not made with the sweetest oranges. Like something you felt you had to drink, but did not want to.As forAsia and Chile, what can I say except "Tang." Or some drink with an orange color and a sweet flavor. Not quite flat Fanta, but closer to that than anything that actually came from a tree. As I have said about the complete inability to find decent, cheap bread in the United States versus in Europe, "How hard can it be?" In the case of OJ, the recipe is even simpler than bread (which has only been around a few thousand years).

Hit and Run History thanks LAN Airlines on the Neck at Saunders Island

Take an orange. Drain it. Put in glass. Serve. Let me tell you, I don't understand it, but America needs to hold onto that knowledge. We got that down. The third truth was that, no matter that only 50 miles separated us in Port Howard from the airport in Mount Pleasant, there was just no way we were going to get to the once-a-week LAN Airlines flight. We were stuck.

No matter that the LAN flight back to Chile was delayed by weather coming in, and was then sitting on the tarmac, as a helicopter pilot in Mount Pleasant was telling me over the phone. All inter-island flights with  the Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS) were grounded by historic fogs, and had been so for the previous two days. Up until a few hours prior, we had patiently waited to be taken from Saunders Island, in the remote west.

The planes remained grounded, however, by fog at the main airport in Stanley, the capital. Then a helicopter was to have headed out - only to hit a wall of fog 10 minutes into the flight. At last we prevailed upon our hosts to take us by Zodiac to West Falkland Island. From there, we picked up a ride in a Land Rover Defender across this open space the size of Rhode Island with only 90 inhabitants.

LAN Airlines partners with Hit and Run History

All we would need is to catch the ferry across Falkland Sound, or to see if the fog had lifted enough to get a plane into Port Howard, on the west side of the sound. Only 50 miles from our LAN flight, and our one chance to get off the Falklands for another seven days. Neither was happening. No ferry until the next afternoon. No pilots willing to fly. They're used to wind - and lots of it - in the Falklands. But not fog. And here we were, a crew from an island of sand and fog, trapped on another.

So to cap it off, a fourth and final truth was to come to light ---it was going to be a long seven days without any orange juice.

(to be continued...) 

Read Part 1 of Stranded in the Falklands here.


Hit and Run History in the FalklandsLocal history adventure show fogged in at the bottom of the Atlantic

Well, looks like we are stuck here, off the tip of South America.  Instead of arriving on the LAN Airlines flight from Chile into JFK on the morning of Monday the 16th, Hit and Run History is still in Port Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands.  And it doesn't look like we're getting out of here until at least next Saturday.

How did Cape Cod's scrappy band of gumshoe historians get stranded down here?  Three words: "fog" and "more fog."

We had travelled down here thanks to the generosity of LAN Airlines (lan.com), South America's largest commercial carrier.  After driving down to New York on May 5, we took the overnight flight to Santiago, Chile.  After a 24 hour layover at the magnificent Hotel Orly (orlyhotel.com) we took off for points south.  After a brief stop in Punta Arenas, in the very south of Chile, we headed east into the Atlantic, landing at Mount Pleasant on East Falkland Island, then onto Port Stanley.

Hit and Run History enjoying the Hotel OrlyBut we still hadn't reached our final destination.  After a few days there to conduct a little business, including a second interview with the Falkland Islands Radio Service (FIRS) and trek out to Cape Pemberton Lighthouse, we headed into the remote west Falklands.  The Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS) operates an on-demand route around the islands, and is pretty much the only way across the vast expanses or open country and between postage stamp-sized islands of just a handful of residences.
A 45-minute ride in a small two-engine bush plane in gale winds at last brought us to Saunders Island.  Here, in February of 1788, Captain John Kendrick made landfall with the vessels of the first American voyage 'round the world -- the Columbia Expedition.
This would be the last stop of the ship Columbia and sloop Washington before attempting the rounding of Cape Horn.

Falkland Islands off ArgentinaWhile Kendrick would consider wintering over here on Saunders, Robert Haswell, who kept the only surviving first-hand account of the voyage, would attempt to jump ship.  Our goal coming here was to retrace Haswell's journey across Saunders Island to Port Egmont -- the first English settlement in the Falklands, but which had been demolished completely just a few years earlier by the Spanish.

Having concluded our filming there to great satisfaction, even more so by a visit to "the Neck", a bird-watcher's Xanadu with its 10,000 penguins of many varieties as well as Albatross and other rare sea birds, we waited for our flight out on FIGAS.  The day of our departure was my 45th birthday -- Friday the 13th.
When we had arrived first in Stanley, we remarked at the wind.

Driving from Mount Pleasant to Stanley for Hit and Run History

For the 45 minute shuttle ride in from Mount Pleasant, we saw many sheep, a few cows, one horse, plenty of hills and grasslands and stony peaks -- but not one tree.  We kept on remarking that it was straight out of the Lord of the Rings movies.  Or if you've ever been above the treeline atop Mount Washington, imagine a whole country like that, surrounded by subantarctic ocean.

It is not the cold down here that keeps trees from growing.  It is the constant wind, which is even worse in their summer months of November to April. Gusts had been up to 70 mph prior to our arrival, and we found it hard to walk around the little town while there.  Only there did we find a few hardy species of evergreens -- cedars, yews and hemlock for the most part -- well-tended in people's yards.  Still, each one was bent and gnarled from the ever-present westerlies.
By the time the wind at last died down to gentle breezes and the skies cleared by early Thursday afternoon, we were done with filming and ready to start our journey home.  We backed our bags that night, and Friday morning were ready to meet the FIGAS plane scheduled to touch down on the grass strip here at 11:30 AM.

LAN Airlines partners with Hit and Run HistoryExcept by 10 AM we learned that Stanley Airport was fogged in the plane could not take off.  With the once-per week LAN flight out of the Falklands scheduled to depart the next day at 3:25 PM and many miles and islands between us, slowly we began to realize how hard it might be to get to that one plane in time.

(to be continued...)