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19 August 2006 Blog Home : August 2006 : Permalink

The Barfly Baking Brigade

Over at Baen's Bar a group of dedicated people have decided to help the troops in the best way possible, sending them stuff to eat and other stuff to read. Since I think this is a jolly good idea that deserves wider publicity I'm posting info here at my blog. This isn't, of course, the only such scheme but I think it sounds better than some.


There are three different types of people needed:
  1. Military personnel (Barflies or not, American or not--from WHEREVER in the Free World you hail), who want/need/are willing to receive home-baked goodies and/or other "stuff" (like, hopefully, Baen Books!!) In order to send packages to military personnel stationed in theater, *most* militaries require an actual name of an actual person, so we need volunteers to be funnels (and you get first dibbs on whatever arrives, don't forget that!!) If you own a digital camera and your locale has net.access, we'd *definitely* like to see some pictures of you and your buds stuffing your faces with the sweets and reading the great Baen Books we hope to put into your hands. We have an associated Flickr group and all you need to access it is a Yahoo! ID (which you already have if you've joined this Yahoo! group - duh) See the group's home page or messages area for more info and a click-through link.
  2. Barflies or other folks who happen upon this group who are into baking and want to support soldiers everywhere in the world where these brave men and women sacrifice a part of their lives to support the Free World for the rest of us. If they can give up a piece of their lives, what's a couple of hours to bake and send a package, really?? :) The Barfly Baking Brigade does not fund this effort so if you cannot afford to spend the money making stuff, buying books and shipping stuff, consider trying to hook up with a patron--someone who can't/doesn't bake but is just a-waiting to help (see 3 below)
  3. Sponsors. Financially-solvent Barflies or other folks who happen upon this group who want to support the soldiers helping to keep the Free World free, but who are either disinclined or entirely unqualified to bake something and send it. You can "serve" in two ways: (a) sponsor one of the Bakers (see 2 above) or (b) just go out and buy Baen Books at your local bookstore and ship them off to one of the Soldiers (see 1 above). If you want to sponsor one of the Bakers, the two of you can hook up offline and deal with money transfers directly.
The Barfly Baking Brigade DOES have a volunteer to "funnel" funds through PayPal if this helps you out, but the Brigade does NOT have a fund of money from which to pay for every package that goes out. We are a "non-existent" group--that is, there's no formal organization or structure here. We're just trying to hook up "those in need" and "those who want to give." Some of our Bakers need sponsorship. Pair up with one (or more) today.


You'll need a Yahoo! ID - you can make your email "private" on Yahoo! and if you're a soldier, you probably want to do this before you join anything, including us (hint hint). Once you're signed into Yahoo! go to


And identify yourself as either "Soldier", "Baker" or "Sponsor" in the form there. The group is "moderated" which means you won't get to join "instantly" but this also means we won't get a bunchaton of SPAM and a-holes "joining" us. It's just too much hassle to be worth their while. Your join request should be approved in 24-36 hrs. If it's not, send an email to with "BARFLY BAKING BRIGADE HELP" (all caps, just like that) in the subject line. That mailbox gets*hundreds* of SPAM messages a day so if you don't put exactly those words, that way into the subject line, no guarantees your note'll be seen by a human, let alone me! Try again using copy/paste - althooooooo, by the time you do that, your join request will probably have already been approved ;) Hey, you were amused while you were waiting so all's good.


All three types of people should enter themselves into the database (yeah, Do It Yourself Group Management here!) http://groups.yahoo.com/group/barflybakingbrigade/database/

Identify which of the 3 categories you fall into (pick your primary type of participation but feel free to sponsor others even if you are in category 1 or 2 yourself!)

NOTE TO SOLDIERS: if you cannot (for security reasons) provide an email address here, please note that you can post to the list for contacts. Yahoo! does allow you to join the group but also keep your email address private (not available even to other group members).

BAKERS and SPONSORS please be sure to include an email address, so YOU can be contacted offlist (by a Soldier or each other). The Yahoo! group's files and database are private to our MEMBERS ONLY so no one's going to harvest your email address randomly (e.g., SPAM) if you enter it here.

After you've entered as much data about yourself into the group's database as you feel comfortable sharing, post an introductory message to the group itself by sending an email to:

Use a subject line like "Intro: new Baker" or "Intro: new Soldier" or "Intro: new Sponsor" and just let the rest of the group know you exist and what name you used to enter yourself into the database - interested parties can go look you up themselves, so you don't have to say a lot in your intro note unless you left most of your database entry blank.


While the group is first forming up, contacts are going to be slow-going. The idea is to see an Intro post on the list and contact that person offline if you're interested in sending to or sponsoring them. For example:
If you're a Baker and see a soldier to whom you want to send stuff, contact him/her by email directly (offlist) and arrange to make a delivery. You might want to ask if they have a preference but really, just about anything will be appreciated if it's home-baked with TLC - be sure to include a note inside the package, too, if you can!) You don't have to say anything about yourself, but it sure does make life more comfortable if they have a clue who's sending stuff--for security reasons if nothing else, a personal familiarity helps dissuade concerns.
If you're not a Barfly--or if the Soldier to whom you're sending is not a Barfly--you are a total stranger and therefore, sadly, a security risk. Try to strike up some common ground before you go sending off a package of who-knows-what from who-knows-where. This is the world we live in--and why the Soldiers are where they are in the first place! Try not to forget that; they can't, 24/7.
Bakers or book-senders: you will find tips and tricks for preparing, packing and shipping your baked goods in the FAQ files stored in the Files area: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/barflybakingbrigade/files/
If you're a Soldier in need, we do already have a couple of Bakers on hand who may not have entered themselves into the database yet, so be sure you post an Intro note to the group and someone will contact you.
If you're a Sponsor, or want to be, please check the database for a Baker to help. Not all Bakers need sponsorship, but those who do, will indicate it in their database entry. Just email them directly (offlist) and arrange a method of payment that is mutually convenient. If one of you has PayPal but the other doesn't, we do have a volunteer to "launder" your money through. Just post to the list asking for that person to contact you (offlist). If you don't see any Bakers in the database who need sponsorship, please feel free to go out and buy Baen Books--or buy them online direct from Baen:

While Baen Books does not *OFFICIALLY* sponsor the Barfly Baking Brigade's efforts, many of its authors are, in fact, strong supporters of the military community worldwide. If you order books directly from Baen, please do make a note (or send a separate, followup message) that you are doing so on behalf of the Barfly Baking Brigade and it's possible the Soldier may find a surprise in his/her package--or you might get a surprise yourself! But no promises, no guarantees. we cannot speak for Baen. We just know they have been known to do some amazing things when NOT asked but given half a chance.

While you can choose to send ANY Baen Books you like or think are good reading, some of the more popular selections are Posleen Universe or Bolo books (see series list in the Baen Catalog for a full set of titles), or just about anything by the following authors: John Ringo, Michael Z. Williamson , David Weber, Dave Drake, Julie Cochrane, Tom Kratman, and others (ask the Soldier directly if they have some specific favorites). Also, Baen is the home to Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan series, one of the best "space opera" series ever written (winner of more Hugo and Nebula awards than any other space opera series!) You can't go wrong to include at least one "Miles Vorkosigan Adventure" (and there are a LOT to choose from in this series!)


Post to the list - ask for help figuring out what to do or how to do it and we'll see if we can't get you straightened out.

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