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Rich in NEPA

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Posts posted by Rich in NEPA

  1. I was deeply saddened to hear this. Zhanna and I had met Greg very briefly on the trail to the Keystone Cache while we were out mountain biking, and I remember our encounter well. It's always nice to run into fine cachers like that. We were shocked to learn of Greg's illness while we were contemplating replacing his Cacher Fuel cache at the Viewmont Mall, since it was in need of maintenance. I'd like to offer my sincerest condolences at this time to all those concerned.


    Cheers ...


    ~Rich in NEPA~

  2. You're the first to find.


    If a fan runs out of the stands onto the field, intercepts a pass and runs it into the endzone is it a touchdown? No.

    Now that was a good answer.


    Well, maybe not quite. Something you haven't considered: football fans in the stadium are not invited to “play along.” Accidental cache finders are, especially if the standard stash note is in the container!


    Cheers ...

  3. Howdy, B! That is very impressive indeed. The views from up there appear to be spectacular. Wish I had those kinds of mountains around here. I enjoy getting to and finding the hard ones! Congrats on your BM recovery and your noteworthy accomplishment.


    Cheers ...

  4. For an example of an updated NGS datasheet, see HW0446.  Compare the Geocaching post with the NGS sheet.

    Howdy, Seventhings!


    Looking at the updated NGS datasheet for HW0446 I'm confused by the elevation you say is stamped on the disk. The datasheet indicates an elevation of 456.24 feet (the superseded control was 457.02 feet, and even the topo map shows it as 457 feet) so it seems doubtful that the 825 value is correct. I also see that in the photo of the mark for your GC.com log the number “825” is stamped in two locations. Is it possible that this was simply an intended duplication of the station designation, perhaps to ensure future legibility?


    Cheers ...


    Here's a brief update to the story: While scouting for other BM's in the vicinity of Lords Valley, PA last Friday we stopped to check out LY1148 (directly across the street from the historic Lord House) and encountered a local fellow who related a little history of the area to us, including the removal of the building with the benchmark on it. He also claimed that PennDOT had blasted the rock in which “H 237” was set, probably because it was too close to the roadway. We asked him about George Blain too, and he said he'd passed away a long time ago. (There seems to be a lot of significant history in this area! For example, Levi Lord, whom the area was named for, had come from England on a boat in 1809 and died in 1851 at the age of 89.)


  6. a031a406-3972-49c8-a280-bf167c6fef28.jpg








    June 24, 2004 was a rather somber day. Kinda felt like I was losing a good friend. It was sunny and warm that Thursday morning when Zhanna and I drove the 32 miles out to Pike County, returning to the site of a benchmark that we had found destroyed about a month and a half earlier (see LY1150 for more details and photos). My guess is that PennDOT hit the huge boulder with a snowplow blade during this past Winter, smashing it to pieces. Then they must have come back later and placed the piece of rock with the disk still in it on top of the pile. Yeah, they probably figured the mark could still be used like this! It's ironic, though, since PennDOT had just recovered the station in good condition in November 2001.


    Anyway, after Zhanna reported our find to NGS she received subsequent instructions to remove the mark from the remains of its setting so as to avoid potential confusion and serious errors in the future. We were excited about the prospect of retrieving the mark, but also a bit apprehensive about working in plain sight so close to the road. We hoped to keep the disk intact as much as possible so we carefully chiseled away all of the rock surrounding the disk to get below the bottom of its edge, then completely chipped out the cement from underneath and with a bare hacksaw blade sawed it off from the stem. This all worked perfectly and took about an hour, during which time we chatted with an old gentleman who lives just down the road and happened to be driving by. He seemed to know a lot about the BM's in this area. Only recently did it occur to us that he might be the same “George Blain” as mentioned in the historical description on the datasheet. We'll just have to go back there again to find out! The mark is now being displayed in a prominent place at Zhanna's computer desk!


    Cheers ...

  7. In my experience with these old railroad benchmarks, quite often the chiseled crosses and chiseled squares can be very difficult to discern, particularly if they're made in concrete. Natural weathering by itself seems to cause them to gradually erode or wear away from the surface over the years. If they're carved into solid stone, the marks are usually not very deep, but they hold up much better than on concrete. Here are some examples:


    From LY1760 (chiseled in stone):




    From LY1759 (chiseled in stone):




    From LY1345 (chiseled in stone):




    From LY1346 (chiseled in concrete):




    I suggest looking very carefully for even the thinnest impression.


    Another very important point I've discovered is that quite a few station marks (including disks as well as chiseled marks) have gross errors in the historical descriptions on the datasheets with regard to cardinal compass directions. For example: LY1343. This station is right down the road from where I live. I searched for it once before about a year ago, but I followed the descriptive text and looked only on the north end of the east bridge seat. Turns out the disk is on the south end of the west bridge seat! (I have yet to do my recovery on this one only because it's so close to me and I've already seen it, and I'm expecting to be able to get to it anytime.) So, don't assume the directions are right. Check all corners on both sides of the tracks, roadway or stream.


    Cheers ...

  8. I read somewhere about a non-arthritic knee condition that presents as knee pain especially when going downhill or downstairs...

    Sounds like Chondromalacia Patella, or more commonly known as “Runner's Knee.” Fortunatley, it can often be easily treated with ice and rest, stretching and strengthening exercises for the major leg muscles, and anti-inflammatory drugs. I practically live on “vitamin I” (Iburprofen) when I'm very active in the outdoors. Cycling (mountain biking) helps me the most, and my knees seldom bother me on very long rides.


    I used to be an avid runner, averaging 30-35 miles per week, and about 15 years ago I had arthroscopic surgery for torn cartilage in both knees. Not long after that I started to develop osteoarthritis. Running is definitely out of the question for me now, and hikes longer than 3 or 4 miles, especially if they are rocky or involve a lot of downhill sections, bring on considerable knee pain.


    Trekking poles have made a significant difference on my hikes. They help relieve the discomfort by reducing the stress on my knees, as well as extending my endurance for longer hikes. However, you must learn to use them properly, including the correct use of the straps, pole height adjustment, and tip placement. There is a technique to it (not to be confused with Nordic walking), and the majority of people who buy them end up using them as props! By involving your arms in the process of walking, you essentially gain the mobility and balance of a 4-legged animal. Here's a pretty good guide to getting the most from your trekking poles.


    Cheers ...

  9. But Zhanna and rogbarn are the Crick and Watson of PIDs.


    <_< Wasn't it Rosalind Franklin who truly deserved the credit for solving the riddle of DNA? It was only after Watson saw one of Franklin's x-ray crystallographic images of the molecule that the solution became apparent to him, and he immediately published the results.


    So, shouldn't it be said that they are the “Franklin and Watson of PID's?!” Thanks for the insight, Zhanna (Rosalind!). Thanks for expanding on the concept, Rogbarn (James!) Both your efforts deserve applause. :)


    Cheers ...

  10. Well, OK! Hard to pass up an opportunity to talk about mountain biking and geocaching! Whenever the weather cooperates I try to do as many cache hunts and NGS benchmark recoveries as possible by bike. So much more fun that way, including the pre-planning as well as those nasty little adventures that arise when the trails unexpectedly run out a few miles into the hunt.


    Here's a pic from a casual morning benchmark hunt (this one required some digging to uncover).




    My ride is a Litespeed “Ocoee” with titanium frame. No GPS handlebar mount but I do use a Garmin GA27C remote amplified antenna attached with Velcro to my helmet, while the GPSr goes into a fannypack or backpack, or into the rear pocket of a cycling jersey. Perfect for tracklogs and trail mapping.




    Cheers, and happy mountain bike-caching!

  11. Last weekend I visited HW3293 which was monumented in 1884.  It's a drill hole with a circumscribed triangle carved into the rock.  Strangely, it has not been reported in the NGS database since its monumentation date 120 years ago!  It was a good hike up the mountain to get to it.

    Howdy, BDT! Those are the kind of BM hunts I like most. The more remote, the better. Nice job! Congrats, too, on such a unique find.


    Cheers ...


    Smith Gap Reset (KV3628) has a long, interesting, and somewhat colorful history. I would love to have seen the orignal earthen jar from 1882! But I would have even settled for seeing the old surface stone and the four small monuments forming corners around it. What's interesting is the mention that the station was occupied as early as 1875. It was reset with a standard disk in 1929. This was a particularly exciting and fun-filled benchmark hunting adventure and one that Zhanna and I will always remember and talk about.


    Cheers ...

  13. 200k actually. I'm going to do some additional testing.

    Howdy, Jeremy. It looks like this problem has been resolved. I can once again upload images that are larger than 600 pixels wide and smaller than 125KB without the site automatically downsizing them to 600 pixels.


    Could you tell us what you found to be the trouble with this, if anything? Just curious about what would cause it.


    Thanks for your time and efforts.


    Cheers ...

  14. BDT, I'm using IE6.0 and don't have any other browsers installed so I can't speak for Netscape, etc. When I view your Pic #1 and check properties, it shows 1024x768 and 107.8KB. For Pic #2 it shows 600x450 and 77KB. I've always found the Properties information to be 100% accurate with regard to any images the browser (IE6 in my case) is displaying. I can, however, see the immediate difference on the screen between a 650x490 image and a 600x452 image.


    One issue (problem?) with the current GC.com sites that you might not be aware of is that whenever you upload an image, it is always resampled by the site software and what is stored on the server is not the original image that you uploaded. It is processed first, then saved. It is not a simple file transfer where the image is "copied" from your computer to their server. Even if it is not resized dimensionally, it is always given a new JPEG compression and it results in a new file size. (Jeremy stated that this upload process was implemented to conserve disk space!) I find this process to be just as unacceptable as the downsizing aspect because every time a JPEG image is opened and resaved, precious data is permanently lost and your image quality suffers.


    If I go back and look at all of my old BM logs, those images are exactly the same—pixel for pixel and byte for byte—as the originals. This means that in the "old days" of both the geocaching site and the benchmarking site, all images were indeed a simple file transfer from my computer to their server.


    I don't believe that the browsers are doing any image resizing, particularly in my case because I have the auto-resizing option disabled. And this would only affect images that are larger than my video display area (1280x1024).


    I concur with your sentiments that the image manipulation being done by the site is horrendous and unnecessary.


    Cheers ...

  15. Jeremy, I just now uploaded a series of test photos a highly detailed scene, with dimensions of 650x490 pixels, and for the test I increased the level of JPEG compression incrementally. (See: LY1158)


    At a level of 19% (which for this particular wooded scene yields an image file size of 117KB) the uploaded photo was automatically downsized to 600x452. At a level of 20% (which yields an image file size of 113KB) the original image dimensions are preserved. As you can see, file size of 117KB or greater, the image gets made smaller. File size 113KB or less, image is not resized.


    Since early January, when you allowed us the option of preserving image dimensions if we kept the file size below 125KB, until yesterday I was able to upload images at up to 124KB without the site automatically downsizing them. As you can see, at this moment today I have to increase JPEG compression dramatically in order to reduce the file size below 113KB before the site will preserve my original dimensions.


    I don't know what changed since yesterday. If you just increased the upload limit, it still doesn't match the previous limit of 125KB that you gave us in January.


    Might I ask what you have the limit set at right now?


    Thank you.

  16. Perhaps the size of the image is calculating larger than before. My image is at 105k.

    Nope, that's still not it. I just tried to upload the same 121KB 650x490 image to LY1158 and it's still being downsized automatically. All afternoon yesterday I'd been entering BM logs and uploading photos and everything worked fine until I got to this last log and the final three photos. Something had to happen in the late afternoon on Monday.


    Please also note what Zhanna had mentioned in her reply to the Image Upload Problem thread on the benchmark forum. Specifically that in her tests with a series of images, the ones with file sizes 108KB or less had retained their original dimensions. In this case, your 105KB image fell below this threshold and as such was not resized smaller. Am I making sense?


    Thanks for checking into this. Hopefully the solution is something simple.


    Cheers ...

  17. Are your uploaded pictures missing some of the view (cropped), or some of the resolution?

    BDT, you could say they are missing resolution. They are being downsized, not cropped. What starts out as 650x490 pixels ends up at 600x452 pixels. Same image, only smaller.


    This becomes a problem whenever there is a lot of detail or textures in the image, such as a woods scene. When you make an image smaller you have to throw away details. (Essentially it's the same kind of problem whenever you need to increase the amount of JPEG compression in order to lower the file size. Image information is permanently lost. So, it's an inverse trade-off when trying to keep files small and download times shorts. More detail requires higher resolution, such as going from a 2 megapixel to a 3 megapixel camera since it gives you a larger dimensioned image. Also, the more detail in an image the more compression is required to maintain a specific file size. If an image contains mostly large smooth areas such as blue sky or water, etc., then much less compression will still yield a smaller file size.)


    Hopefully Jeremy is aware of the problem by now and that the fix is a simple one. I'm holding off entering any more BM logs and photos until he's had a chance to work on it.


    Thanks much for your interest.


    Cheers ...


    Well, there's definitely something a little screwy with image uploads, particularly on the benchmark website. Please check out this forum thread for the gory details. Whatever software is being used to resize images for storage is no longer allowing for the option of not resizing image files that are smaller than 125KB.


    Thanks for looking into this situation. I'm holding off log entries until this can be fixed. (Oh, and BTW ... it sure would be appreciated if the limit was bumped up a little higher, say to 150KB. :) )


    Cheers ...


    :) Oh, my! Is this some sort of new feature?! Check out LY1158 for example, or any other BM page, and make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom. I never saw this before. Does anyone know what it's about or what it's for?


    I just knew something had to have changed, or it is just plain messed up.



  20. Thanks for looking, CP, but I think you missed my point. If you check the properties of these photos (right-click your mouse on one of them, then click "Properties"), you'll see that the image dimensions are 600x452 pixels. What I'm trying to upload are images that are 650x490 pixels. Earlier this year Jeremy gave us the option on the benchmarking site of not having images downsized if they are less than 125KB. This option has been working fine up to yesterday afternoon. Something had to change with the way the site handles image uploads.


    This is what it says on the upload form: “If your original image is under 125k or 600 pixels wide, the largest image will not be resized.”


    I just tried it again this morning. Same problem. :)


    Cheers ...

  21. :) Does anyone know what happened to the benchmark website?!


    I was entering BM logs late this afternoon and uploading photos. Everything was working fine until I started uploading the photos for my last log: LY1158. The file size for each of the three photos is well under the 125KB limit (actually I double-checked and they are 121KB, 120KB, and 120KB respectively) yet the site insists on resizing them from 650x490 pixels down to 600x452 pixels. I even deleted my original log and tried doing it all over. (A frustrating experience on painfully slow dial-up.)


    So, is something messed up with the site, or are changes being made that we don't know about at this time? Could someone at GC.com please check on this situation and respond?


    Thank you.

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