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Iowa Tom

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Everything posted by Iowa Tom

  1. I’m writing this in this forum because it’s for travel bugs. It’s a story with a happy ending that takes place on Easter Sunday, 2014. I hope you will agree. I have been teaching for a long time and it’s always nice to learn that something a teacher does for a student had a positive impact on their life, even if that good news arrives almost a decade after the teacher met the student, then for only a few days. (!) It was in the summer of 2005. I was teaching a “geocaching” class. We would need to use geocaching.com (GC.com) for sure. My handful of students was around 10 – 13 years old. They had registered for a summer enrichment program held at the Marshalltown Community College. It was coordinated through Area Education Agency 267. In that class I taught the basics of geocaching as well as how GPS works. For the group I designed and built a really neat physical puzzle geocache (cache) to place back in Waterloo, Iowa, my place. It was made for the travel-bugs the students would setup and own. I was afraid the TB idea would be problematic because the kids would need to register a free account with geocaching.com using an e-mail address - most didn’t have one - get a toy that they could attach the serial numbered dog-tag to and then most importantly (!) activate their TB tag number at GC.com. As you all know, once activated the students would still need to electronically “drop” the TB off in the geocache (Bugs R-4 "Kids" Habitat) I made for them. After that process was verified I would place the actual TB in the cache and away they would go. My TB fears came to pass. Sure enough, I ended up with a bunch of them that the owners never registered. They were little kids. I know. Fortunately, in the case of a few, I myself had the activation code and could register them from home. However, those bugs I had to claim as mine. I e-mailed the TB real owners and even called some of their homes to try to get all the bugs going and to explain how the real owners could follow the travels even though I “owned” them. I received no responses via e-mail and the personal calls were not well received. They were interpreted as a “who is this guy” call - embarrassing. I did launch the few from the geocache. I kept the tagged TB toys that I myself could not register in a drawer for 8+ years, hoping that someday the owner might contact me to find out what happened. Now…..fast forward to Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 11:50 AM. I got an e-mail from a geocacher that goes by Balogna. Here is the message: ___________________ “Hello Iowa Tom! My name is Toni, and I took a class with you through the Kids in College program at MCC in the summer of 2005. After a long hiatus of not logging any caches I found with my family, I have been caching up a storm. Geocaching is my favorite hobby, and I owe it much to you. I still remember that class fondly and am so grateful to have been able to take it. I was 12 years old when I took the class and am 21 now. Thank you so much for inspiring children to get outdoors and keep finding wonder in the world. I still am. One question I've had all these years is whatever became of the travel bug I started in your class. It's called Meowth, and is a small toy Pokemon. The tracking code is TBKF9Q. You don't still have it by any chance, do you? I thought it was worth asking. Thank you so much. Sincerely, Balogna” ___________________ After some digging through that drawer I mentioned above, and after doing some research about the number on the attached dog-tag, I not only found her Pokemon, we even discovered that it had indeed been registered! I didn’t know. It was never deposited in the cache electronically because the young geocacher did not understand what needed to be done. So there it sat, in a drawer next to my computer for 8 years, 9 months and 8 days. I asked Balogna’s permission to place it my reinforced, locked, premium members only, “travel bug hotel” called the WRBA TB VAULT (GCR677). It's attached to a fence 100 feet behind my house along a cemetery (Balogna said great and changed the TB goal online to travel to her hometown first before it leaves for the world. She would like to see it again and take its picture. Cool. For me that little toy has become a link to a new geocacher and a new Facebook friend (who is majoring in biology, what I majored in too). It has special meaning in how long it has waited to move. Just goes to prove that hanging onto some things might have its reward someday. I’ll have to tell that to my wife. I resurrected the long sleeping Meowth by placing in my geocache on Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014. Let's see who gets to it first. Iowa Tom
  2. Yes. If you move enough, it will start over. I set my Magellan Gold at the cache location and let it average 10 minutes. I make sure I have it adjusted so that it doesn't auto shut off while I have it averaging. The last digit in the coordinate changes a lot at first. After 3 minutes it settles down.
  3. If it's latitude and longitude you are looking for you can find a coordinate for any zip code here. The zips are arranged by state and city.
  4. iGPS is a major enhancement of the GPS system for military use. GPS NEWS: Iridium/Boeing Team Completes High Integrity GPS Program Milestones. Iridium Satellite announces that, in conjunction with Boeing, the companies have achieved two major milestones to further develop and demonstrate capability enhancements to the High Integrity Global Positioning System (GPS) program for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. High Integrity GPS also has the potential to provide geographic positioning data to within centimeters, a vast improvement over current standalone GPS, which provides data within meters. For more information about the iridium satellites and the spectacular light shows they put on, read about a cache I made for them. -it
  5. I'm sure I'm late in posting in this thread but this story seems to fit this explosive topic.
  6. I make sure to smear glue over and under the rare earth magnets because they will rust is the silver plating chips off. I use Goop. I put magnets inside a container to hold the ones on the outside and I glue the magnet to a bolt head screwed in my wooden caches that include magnets.
  7. I found that using a flash and a time exposure taken during a heavy snowfall produced an interesting effect. The color gives away the fact that the streetlight uses high pressure sodium. My old Vivitar 283 flash was set at full power.
  8. One of my interests that affects all of us but is unknown to nearly everyone is how to view a picture so that it has the same perspective as the way you saw the scene in real life. It's a bit technical but if you are interested, I wrote about it here.
  9. I worked as a professional photographer in industry for six years and a camera equipment salesman for 6 years before that. As a hobby I've been recording natural history, mostly close-ups, since 1969. The one thing that makes my pictures what they are is, I use a tripod, I shoot at aperture priority and set the f-stop high (usually), I wait for a break in the wind and prefer hazy days over bright sunny ones, unless the sky is in the picture. If you use a polarizing filter, consider not making the colors as intense as you can make them. Turn it part way, instead of all the way to maximum effect. Super saturated color with too little shine looks fake. When shooting kodachrome 64 I always underexposed 1/3 stop, unless I was using a polaizer, then I shot at 64. My close-up pictures were almost always at least 1 second exposures - hence the need to wait for the wind to stop. I learned to know the behavior of the wind by listening to it in the trees then seeing the subject matter move a few seconds later. It comes in waves and is usually quite predictable. -it
  10. I've had some of my caches get populated with earwigs; others with ants. I'll take crickets over earwigs any day.
  11. Nettles uses formic acid as a weapon; so do ants. It injects it just under your skin. Curious thing, when I'm working with acid I know when I get it on me because it itches. I used to carry a solution of baking soda to rub on the bad spots when I brushed a nettle accidentally. The baking soda will neutralize the acid, if it can get at it. The problem is, if the acid is within your skin, even a little ways, the soda may not get at it soon enough. Desperate measures may call for urine, since it has ammonia in it, and ammonia reacts with acid. The best bet is learn to identify then stay away from wood nettle and stinging nettle plants. I always wear long pants when I go out into the boondocks. I learned that the hard way when I was a kid. The acid even soaks through the knee area of my denim pants sometimes. -it
  12. I like to write stories in my logs because I like to tell stories; also, like another person said, I use the Internet as a diary. I can literally look up things I've written about on many forums by using certain key words. I've challenged my students to find something I've written about. E.g. do a Google search for "Tom, Iowa" "Iridium Flare" "South Pole" and you'll locate an old post I made to a satellite observing group which lead to the theme for this geocache. I do wish people would try to use spell-check and be more careful with their grammar. I myself use Firefox partly because of the automatic spell-check feature. Lord knows I NEED IT! I also reread my posts several times before I let them go. -it
  13. Since being downsized out of a job as a teacher, I may not be giving any more tests but I may be a bit testy if I don't find employment soon. Actually I myself don't know of more than one person in Iowa that I thought was out of line in his response to someone else. I promise, you will not get any impolite e-mails from me.
  14. At the moment I am sticking with EasyGPS to download the tracks. I see that they come up as are dashed lines. No matter what setting I set up, like even maximum resolution, they are that way. Even when I walk very slowly. Is that something that I cannot get away from when moving over small distances, like within a couple of football fields?
  15. I tried to download this but cannot find it anywhere now. I tried a second installation and still nothing. I also tried downloading the .NET program just in case that might have been the problem. However I got a message saying that that version is incompatible with a version that is already on my computer. It then stopped that installation. Any idea where I can look for sports track? As far as I can tell it's not listed in the programs that I get to via the start menu.
  16. Thanks! I just got it to work as is! I finally found a help menu helpful. Tom
  17. I just bought the wrong adapter at Best Buy. I wish I would have read the previous response first. I have a USB to serial port cord that is part of a two piece cord that I use with my Meridian Gold Magellan. It has a choke (I think it is) in the cord. It enables me to hook up the etrex with my laptop. I didn't think of using it before because I didn't think of going to the USB. I am going to try to get it to work. Does anyone think it will? Right now I'm trying to "find" any signal from the etrex using EasyGPS. Tom
  18. Man that was a fast response! I was just there. The help didn't know what I was asking for. I found a cord that might work but may not have had the right number of pins. It was also 25 big ones. Best buy has a set of 4 adapters, one of which might work, for 15 bucks. I am going to call the tech guy from school tomorrow. Thanks for the help.
  19. Thanks for the input. Now I am looking for a gender adapter to enable me to fit the female Garmin cord end to the female plug-in on the back of my Dell laptop. Does anyone have any suggestions about where to get one of those locally? I need it right away.
  20. I am going to have the kids in my geocaching class plan out a pattern onto an aerial photo of the school grounds. Then they'll try to create a drawing using the track feature on the etrex units that we are using. The kit I borrowed comes with a serial adapter cord. Is there a free program that will allow me to download just the tracks to my Dell laptop and in turn print them off? Otherwise I will try to photograph the screens once they are done. I may be asking for some one-on-one help in making the program work for this. Thanks, -it
  21. I have made one geocache that has a chamber that is a house for a mouse. Another is a bird feeder. Four others are also for the birds. I like the idea of supporting wildlife, not repelling it. If the cache gets eaten, compensate with hardware cloth or sheet metal etc.
  22. I hear you measure 2 x 4 boards in meters. Is that right? This is certainly the case with me and clocks. In my mind I convert digital numbers to an analog face to "see" what time it is.
  23. My old truck still gets about 2,268 miles per butt. That's doing pretty well I think!
  24. I use Terraserver Viewer to access topo maps of a particular coord.
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