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Everything posted by E3Chief

  1. Today, I went up to the Anchorage, AK NOAA office. NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They are responsible for most of the weather forcasting in this country. One of the things they do, is launch weather balloons. I wanted to take a tour, so I E-mailed them last night, and they called this morning and asked if I wanted to take a tour! I had the day off so I headed up there! I really wanted to see a weather balloon launched since I'm working on a project involving a weather balloon, but that's unrelated to my idea. Each weather balloon has a weather sonde attached to it. It's a styrofoam box about the size of a three back of macaroni and cheese. Inside, it has instruments to measure temperature, air pressure and humidity. It also has a GPS inside for tracking the sonde so they can measure wind speed and direction. The weather balloons rise to an altitude of 100,000 to 120,000 feet. Eventually, the balloon bursts due to the low pressure and the balloon expanding. Then, the sonde parachutes back to earth. Each NOAA location, launches two weather balloons a day. There are about 100 NOAA locations in the United States alone. They all launch two balloons a day at the same time. They launch at 3am and 3pm here in Alaska. In California, it would be 4am and 4pm. Denver would be 5am and 5pm and so on. All over the nation, at the same time, there are 100 weather balloons going up. 200 every day. All of the information gets plugged into a huge computer somewhere and they use it to predict weather. Each weather sonde costs NOAA around $150. Inside each one, is an envelope with instructions on how to mail it back to NOAA. They like to get them back due to their cost. They can reuse most of them. I did the math, and figured that it costs NOAA about $10 million every year just for weather sondes alone. The thing that really struck me during this meeting, was when the guy told me that they track the sondes all the way back to Earth and they have the GPS coordinates for where they land. Only problem is, is they don't have the man power to go out and track down 200 sondes every day. As it stands right now, they only get back about 20% of the sondes. Here in Alaska, they only get back about 3% of them due to how remote most of Alaska is. That means over $8 million in lost sondes for NOAA every year. I'm sure that in the lower 48 though, there are plenty that are easily accessible and are in areas where nobody would go unless they were looking for something! I already sent the suggestion to some of the NOAA offices. The director at the office here in Alaska, seemed pretty excited about it. I suggested that they get the coordinates and put them on the Geocaching website! Of course, this would take some software development and cooperation with Groundspeak. 200 sondes a day would be quite a bit of stuff popping up every day. Perhaps they could drop off the site after a couple of months if nobody finds them. A lot of sondes drift out to sea, land in lakes, and really remote areas. But a lot of them don't and would be easy to find by Geocachers. I think it would be a win win situation for NOAA and for the Geocaching community. NOAA gets their sondes back thanks to the free labor, and the Geocaching community gets a new and exciting thing to go out and search for with their GPS! Even if the NOAA only got an additional 5% of their sondes back, that's half a million dollars they could save every year. And by "they", I mean the taxpayers! What do you guys think?
  2. I'm always curious what people do for a living. I'm sure that there are quite a few retired folks here too. What did you do before you retired? When do you find time to go geocaching? Myself, I am an active duty Air Force staff sergeant. I am a flight engineer on the E-3 AWACS. I sit behind the co-pilot and have a huge panel that I monitor. I control all of the fuel, weight and balance, hydraulics, pneumatics, electric generators, and I manage the engines. I also compute all of the flight data, handle in flight emergencies, and slap the co-pilot in the head when he wants to do something stupid. I love the job and the AWACS is an incredible aircraft. What do you guys do?
  3. I don't actually own one, but I am planning on buying a Garmin 60CSX. I think you'll find that most everybody on here will recommend that GPS. It has high sensitivity and is perfect for heavy tree canopies. You probably have some of that up in Washington. This GPS runs around $350. Check E-bay too. I see lots of them on there that are brand new. If that's out of your budget, get a regular ol' Garmin Etrex from Wal-Mart for $100. I've found lots of caches with an E-trex. I still have mine over 6 years later and it works just fine. I have really abused this thing too. It survives falls from high places, being submerged in lakes, being strapped to the handlebars on mountain bikes and dirt bikes at high speeds and dusty conditions. I've seen it first hand. My Etrex is sitting right next to me right now with two other GPSr's. I have the GPSMAP 76S which is a couple years old at least, and I also have a Foretrex 201 that I use when I'm flying my powered paraglider. I've used all three for geocaching. The Etrex is probably the best out of all three for geocaching. But I am getting ready to purchase the 60CSX. It's the mac daddy of GPS units for Geocaching. If you can afford it, get that one. It will replace all three of my GPS units and I'll use it for geocaching, driving and flying.
  4. I did a cache while on vacation in Colorado in 2001. In fact, it's the only cache I have ever placed. The sport was still really new back then and there weren't any guidelines on placing a cache far from home. I'm from Oklahoma City. Anyways, it's still there over 6 years later and has 180 finds on it. The last one was Sept 29th. At the time, it was the only cache within about 30 miles of Cripple Creek, CO. See "View Above Cripple Creek". GC1BAF. But I wouldn't do that now days. My old cache container which was a tupperware box has been replaced a couple times. It is now an ammo box! It's a cool site. I've never been back, but I'm planning to stop through there on my way to Burningman next year!
  5. My wife and I are 20 somethings! Well, I'm 29, she's 28. I did my first cache in 2001 though. Now we're back with our kids!
  6. I've been reading this post and I can understand where everything is coming from. I just think that it's sad though that this is where we're at in this country in the 21st century. A very few people are offended by something silly, and the majority have to bend over backwards to not offend them. This is the greatest country in the world, but there sure are a lot of Americans that disgust me. And it's none of you people. I can't blame Groundspeak for these rules. They don't want any legal troubles from some sensitive douche bag that's easily offended. I just think it's sad that that is the way things are these days. I don't understand why if somebody is offended by something, they continue to participate in it. If it were up to me, I'd say that the feed the hungry cache would definitely be a go. If it offends somebody, then they don't have to participate. Of course, it's not that easy. It just disgusts me. I don't see an end to it any time soon.
  7. There are multi-caches where you go to the first part and it holds the coordinates to the second part. BUT, I have never heard of a cache where you have to go to the first one to get a key to unlock the second one! That's brilliant! I like the idea. I've recently taken up welding and have been thinking that I'd like to make the ultimate muggle proof box. That would be awesome to make it a multi where you have to get a key. Hmmmmm...... I'm sure it's been done or thought of before. I've just never seen it in my area.
  8. Oh yeah, I've been approached a couple times. We were approached last night as we were doing a park and grab on a grocery store lamp post skirt. I usually let my son jump out, lift the skirt and get the cache. But this one was being stubborn so I got out. It was really tight on the pole. It made a terrible shrieking noise when I pulled it up. We jumped back in the car to sign the cache notepad. We were looking at it for a couple minutes when I looked up and there was a guy standing there. Turns out, it was Mr. "I'm out of gas and need money to get home" muggles guy. He was driving a brand new Jeep Cherokee too. We're in an old Cavalier. Anyways, I don't know if he was really out of gas or not. I gave him my Where's George dollar that I pulled out of a cache a couple days prior. I figured I did the right thing by helping him out. If he uses it to buy booze, then he's the one who is going to burn in hell and not me. Anyways, he left and I don't think he knew what we were up to. I jumped out, lifted the shrieking light pole skirt and put the cache back and we were gone in a flash.
  9. I never use a compass, but that's because I cache in town or in places where I could easily find my way out of the woods. However, if you're going into the back country where there aren't any people living or you could possibly get lost, then it might not be a bad idea to have a compass. Say you were a half mile out in the woods and your batteries die. They find dead people all the time that are less than a mile from a road. I think they had a couple incidents like that in the pacific NW recently. Anyways, I learned some good tips when I went through Air Force survival school recently. Say you're in the woods and there's tall trees all around. It's REALLY hard to tell where the sun is or what direction you're going. A compass is REALLY handy here. Say you knew you were coming in on a heading of 70 degrees. You're a mile in the woods and your batteries die on your GPS or you smash it on a big rock. If you turn around and try to get out, you'll end up going in a circle. Add 180 to your 70 degree heading and you get 260. Pull your compass out and line it up on a 260 degree heading. Find an object that's as far away as you can see. Say a big dead pine tree is right on your heading. Go to that pine tree. If the pine tree is slightly to the right of your heading, go stand on the left side of it. Once you're there, line up the compass again on the next object on your heading. Keep doing that until you find your way out. Say you came into the woods to the same cache and you drove in on a road going due south and it dead ended where you parked. Now, instead of taking that 260 degree heading to get back to where you parked, you might want to veer a big to the right to make sure you get to the road. Take a 270 degree heading instead. That way, you're a lot more likely to hit that road. If you were to keep on that 260 heading, you can still make errors that would lead you further south of where you parked and you might pass up your car and never see it. NOW you'll be on CNN. But most cachers won't ever get into a situation like this. I don't know of too many caches that are way off the beaten path. But it's good stuff to know if you're ever lost and you happen to have a compass.
  10. I like to cache with somebody else too. My 9 year old son is ALWAYS willing to go. My wife is too usually. My daughter is only a year old. She doesn't care. But she will soon.
  11. I started geocaching back in 2001. Back then, the sport was pretty new and there were only a few caches in the whole state. I hit up all of the local ones then and then got busy with other stuff. I took it back up recently with my 9 year old son. Anyways, I downloaded all of the caches to my GPS that are within 15 miles of my house and there are over 600 of them! WOW! This sport has really taken off! What we've been doing is driving around looking at the map on my GPSMAP 76S and every time we're near a cache, we drive over and hit it up. I'm just looking at the map. I'll use my pointer to click on the cache and then GOTO. After we're done, I have to do the stop navigating thing and what not and figure out where we're going next. I'm just curious what you guys do to stay organized? I'm planning to upgrade to the 60CSX soon and take my laptop with me too. What is the method to your madness when you're out to hit 10 or 15 caches? Do you keep hundreds of them loaded or do you just pick the ones you want to go to? I like to keep my options open and drop in at a cache unexpectedly if one is nearby.
  12. I know how you feel. Last night I was snooping around a bush with a flashlight in a city park with my son. Then later last night, we were at a Whataburger looking for a cache behind the restaurant. It was tough because Whatamuggles kept coming through the drive through. There was a big concrete slab back there with a pipe sticking out. I pulled on the pipe and it came out about 6 inches but was really heavy. I let go and I don't know what was going on down there with the plumbing, but I got blasted with nasty water. The thing erupted like a geyser for a good 30 seconds right as some more Whatamuggles came around the corner at the drive thru looking at me like I was some sort of idiot. My wife and kids sure got a kick out of it though. We high tailed it out of there. I'll go back for the cache tomorrow.
  13. Caterpillar stings can be some of the most painful. There's a type of caterpillar that lives on Crepe Myrdles (sp?). It's brown and fuzzy looking and if you touch it, it will put you in the hospital. The pain is agonizing and it can make you violently ill.
  14. HA HA HA HA HAAAAA!!!! I've seen that before. Not in a cache, but at a gag shop. I could imagine what it would be like to find it not knowing what it was.
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