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Everything posted by HedgeMage

  1. And they say sharing addictions with your kids is a bad thing... Seriously -- have tons of fun with it. My 7yo and I have been caching together for the past year, and still can't get enough!
  2. The best way is to post in your regional forum here, and to sign up for the weekly update emails from geocaching.com -- they include a list of caching events and their distance from your home (you can also search for nearby events as a pocket query if you have a premium membership). Happy caching!
  3. When I bought my family a GPSr for caching and hiking last spring, the PN-40 and Colorado 400t were the top contenders. I went back and forth many times, and eventually settled on the Colorado -- primarily because I believed the interface to be much simpler to use. My caching/hiking partner is my 7yo (6 at time of purchase) special needs child. He was using the Colorado's basic features (finding a cache, choosing the next one, zooming in and out, etc) in minutes, and had all the features he cared for mastered in just a couple of days. I do not believe that would have been possible with the PN-40. Had I been purchasing solely for my own use, I'd have gone with the PN-40. Its interface isn't nearly as slick as the Colorado's is, but maps for the DeLorme are much less expensive than for the Colorado, and they strike me as "nicer" (specifically, easier to make out at a glance). I'm considering a PN-60 for a second GPSr after they've been around enough that I can hear how they perform for others, and have come down in price a bit.
  4. And yet...I run a real OS, and am therefor in no danger whatsoever. Can someone please explain to me why the most expensive consumer operating system is the least secure -- or at least why people keep buying it?
  5. I'm not a fan of park-n-grabs. I've done a few -- usually when with a group -- but they just don't do it for me. The whole point of geocaching, to me, is to get out in nature for awhile. I've even seen good caches at small parks, but if I'm surrounded by pavement, I'm not a happy cacher. My son would tell me to say "medium and bigger" because he's all about trading swag. We both love creative hides -- something unusual, unexpected, and clever.
  6. Ham Radio! No monthly subscription needed and it has plenty of fun non-emergency uses. Also, there will always be hams -- unlike personal locater services, a ham radio does not rely on a particular company staying in business in order to be useful. Any ham radio can talk to any other ham radio (and, in an emergency situation, many non-ham radios as well). That said, I often cache with just my 7yo, and as long as someone always knows roughly where you are going and when to expect you back, your signaling method need not be high tech. A good mirror and a piercing emergency whistle, or a smoky emergency fire are more than enough for someone to find you if they are already looking! The most important thing is to have the right gear to survive until help arrives, and the right skills to use it (especially first-aid items) to the fullest advantage.
  7. I'd given up backpacking and camping when I started a family -- life was just too busy, and my one attempt at a Mt. Ranier hike with some friends and my then-toddler ended pretty disastrously. However, some years later an aunt and uncle of mine took up geocaching, and set up a GPS treasure hunt on their property for the kids to do during a family party. My son caught the obsession, and I found myself buying a GPS just a few weeks later. For my son, it is a cool treasure-hunting adventure. For me, it's a chance to get back to hobbies I miss (hiking, backpacking, etc.) with a kid who enjoys walking for miles rather than a protesting, foot-dragging crab!
  8. I don't worry about muggles unless I get a particularly bad vibe from someone. I rarely get approached by them while looking for a hide; I think caching with a child helps -- people are used to little ones being curious about *everything* for no apparent reason. When I am approached, I have a few geocaching mini-brochures on hand to give out as I talk about the game.
  9. My (now 7-year-old) son and I have been caching together for about a year. Our first cache was a huge disappointment -- we had to turn back due to dangerous litter (broken glass bottles and other sharp things on uneven ground where a fall would have been easy). We found and DNF several others, and then met up with my aunt and uncle who took us on a tour of favorite caches in their area. We'd navigate to ground zero, then if there was no luck with the find after awhile, my aunt and uncle (who had found all of these before) would offer a kid-appropriate clue such as, "This cache has been found many times, does any place around here look more traveled than the rest?" or "You won't find that one without a boost from someone taller". They also knew which hides to avoid because they were just too tough for a little newbie. All of those successes made future DNFs sting less, because my son already felt like a "real" geocacher. Happy caching --Susan
  10. I have the Colorado 400T. The deciding factor was that I expected my then-6-year-old to have a much easier time with the Colorado's wheel interface than the Oregon's touch screen. I was right -- my son got to try the Oregon on a trip with friends, and he was constantly bumping the screen, giving unintentional input. As for others' comments re: insect repellent on the screen, I wouldn't think of dragging such an expensive piece of equipment through the woods without a good screen protector!
  11. I do most of my caching with my 6yo son -- which is one step beyond caching alone, as I have both myself and a small defenseless person to worry about. I don't think that being a woman makes me any more vulnerable than a man. There's certainly a perception issue there (a pudgy mommy type looks like an easy target to most), but I can use that to my advantage too. When it is legal to do so, I always travel armed. I've trained with various weapons, and make a point of regularly practicing not just the mechanics of their use, but making good tactical decisions in various situations. (When to fight, when to run, where to position one you must protect, etc.) When I am in an area with cell reception, I have a friend who can securely log into and view the GPS location data broadcast by my cell phone. When I am in an area without cell reception, I bring a ham radio transceiver -- it has much better range than the useless little FRS radios so many carry, and not only to hams generally look after one another, but in the US it is a federal crime to ignore a mayday broadcast. I carry a first-aid kit adequate to the area and distance we will be traveling, and I my son and I both know how to use it. I am aware of my surroundings, and I don't mean simply that I would notice someone tromping after me in an obvious manner. I keep track of any people around, catalog obstacles, avenues of attack, and escape routes everywhere I go -- this level of awareness is all too rare in our world of oblivious saps running around with their iPods turned up and their eyes only on what they are doing. My son also carries a piercing safety whistle, and knows what I expect of him in an emergency so that we can both be safe. He's taking martial arts classes, and will soon be learning to use firearms, so that as he gets older he will be as competent in self-defense as I am, if not more so. Be prepared, and go have fun. The myth that you are necessarily safer with a man around is a dangerous one, because it encourages women not to be prepared for and capable of responding to emergencies. Frankly, most women I know who believe that hang out with men who are completely useless in a first aid or self-defense scenario! --Susan
  12. Regarding writing in cold weather... Fisher pens (including the trekker I mentioned, the space pen others mentioned, or any pen with a Fisher refill) write at -30° to 250° Fahrenheit (-35° to 120° Celsius). Noodler's Polar fountain pen inks are all "bulletproof" (UV proof, ammonia proof, bleach proof, water proof, and so on), and some will remain liquid and usable as low as -114° F (-81° C). I'm not trying to rip on the pencil fans out there... I would just hate for anyone to think they didn't have a variety of choices in cold weather! --Susan
  13. I have no problems using attributes in Firefox 3.0.11 on Ubuntu 9.04 It's worth noting that javascript must be enabled for that feature to work. --Susan
  14. I carry a Sensa Meridian fountain pen full of Noodler's Bulletproof ink -- Noodler's Bulletproof ink is UV proof, waterproof, and resistant to most chemicals, so once it bonds to the paper, it's not going anywhere. As a back-up, I also carry a Fisher Trekker. The Trekker carries the same pressurized ballpoint cartridge that Fisher's space pens use -- it will write at any angle, through grease, on soaking wet pages, or even completely under water -- making it perfect for damp, dirty, or otherwise less-than-perfect logbooks. --Susan
  15. The Garmin Etrex seems to be the most popular "beginner" unit, however I'll also put in a vote for the Garmin Colorado. I picked up a Colorado 400t just this Spring, and never regretted it. The wheel navigation, generally simple UI, colorful map and icons made it a cinch for my 6yo son to learn to use. Also, the Colorado has "paperless" geocaching, meaning that the cache names, descriptions, GC codes, hints, sizes, terrain and difficulty ratings, recent logs, etc. are all on the unit, so I can just grab it and go. There is no need to try to match coordinates to caches or print out and carry a binder full of cache descriptions. It's a pricey unit (though I picked mine up for only $340 on sale, so watch sales), but for us it was worth it. --Susan
  16. I would definitely talk about some of the cool places one may visit while caching, and tell some anecdotes about your adventures. You may also wish to cover how to deal with curious police/muggles/etc. as depending on what subset of "mental illness" you are addressing, these people may not have the social skills to field questions they aren't prepared for.
  17. I think you have hit the nail on the head here, GeekBoy. The Colorado is a *great* platform with a lot of potential. What it needs is more attention from its makers to continue to evolve. --Susan
  18. I adore my Colorado 400t (the same as your unit, but with some topo maps preloaded). Here are some notes off the top of my head: Back up your Colorado - The unit ships without any restore media, and I've heard sad stories about people accidentally deleting the files that make the Colorado work. The first thing I did was copy everything off of my Colorado and burn it to a DVD so I will always be able to restore it if there is an accident. You don't need topo maps to geocache, but I really like having them. They are useful for things like figuring out when you can beeline to a cache, and when you're better off starting from the other side of the lake. You can buy maps from Garmin, or see if a free site such as GPSFileDepot has some you like. Your Colorado comes with a free 30-day premium geocaching.com subscription -- use it. Continuing the subscription is pretty inexpensive, and once you use pocket queries, you'll not want to do without them.You can set a PQ to find all the caches near your (or any) location with the traits you want (size, difficulty, terrain, type, etc), then it will email you a .zip file with two files inside it -- one holds cache data (traits, locations, descriptions, hints, recent logs, etc) for all the caches your search turned up, and the other holds useful extra waypoints (parking for a particular cache, things like that). You just copy these to your Colorado and go -- all the info for the caches is in there for you to use. You can even make a PQ to search for caches near a route, because there's no reason not to stop for a few caches on the way to Aunt Ida's house. There is a an unofficial Colorado Wiki that I found extremely useful when getting started. Last, but certainly not least, read and post to the forums. We love newbies (I'm still one myself by most measures), and are happy to help. I learned a lot here. --Susan P.S. -- I haven't had much time to read the forums lately, but if you message me through the profile page, I'll be sure to answer your email.
  19. I wholeheartedly disagree. I bought a newer Colorado, with which I've had no issues, with waterproofing or anything else. I do NOT want a touchscreen GPS for the trail, and the Colorado's interface, especially the wheel, makes it easy enough for my 6yo to use! I hope that Garmin will continue the Colorado line. --Susan
  20. I never read a book on geocaching. I learned by trial and error and with the help of more experienced cachers. What I like most to find in a cache is a dry, intact logbook. My 6yo son, however, is all about trading. He loves finding treasures of all kinds. McToys rate pretty low on his list, he's seen them all before. Anything that's a novelty will rate very highly with him. I think his favorite from our last caching trip was a little flocked bunny. --Susan
  21. That seems a little harsh I think that today we (meaning as a country, not this forum in particular, where folks are generally fairly sane) are a bit past harsh. Too often our rights slip away because no one wants to make a supposedly impolite point just because it's right. No, but I don't expect someone acting as an officer of the law to interpret the constitutionality of it for the most part. I expect the citizens putting up with this garbage to stop doing so -- anyone who tolerates an abridgment of their rights only contributes to the erosion of them. When last I checked (which, granted, was some years ago) there had been plenty of rulings on parks restricting use by time, activity, etc. However, nothing I could find challenging age restrictions. I can tell you that some years ago when the parks near a family group we belonged to had posted age restrictions (such that families with multiple kids couldn't go to *any* park because one kid was the right age for one, and the other for another), one of the members threatened a lawsuit and the regulations were immediately changed. Playground areas and areas around schools can be sensitive, and the presence of single men can raise a number of concerns if children and their parents are in the area. But not *legitimate* concerns. I know people who fear for their children's lives if a playground has a seesaw (they have actually been banned from schools here in Illinois, as have swings, merry-go-rounds, and maypoles). That doesn't make them right. As I stated earlier, if the parents are doing their job, the kids aren't in danger. It's really not our job to make every idiot out there comfortable, and it's *especially* not the government's job. Other's choices are not my problem -- they are just that, choices. Having some caches available that you don't want to search for doesn't diminish the number of ones you do like, it just adds more options to the table. If one wishes to search for *every* cache, one must accept that not all of them will be ideal. Even if we assume for the sake of argument that playground caches are only good for families, so what? There are plenty of caches out there that are no good for people *with* kids, why should all caches be appropriate for people *without* kids? If some places insist on passing harebrained laws restricting some people from public parks/playgrounds, why should caches not be there for people who can legally seek them, and why are the people who feel left out not challenging these laws? I do think that *every* cache needs a clear enough description that people can choose which to seek before they get there -- that's my whole point -- PERSONAL CHOICE. --Susan
  22. I think cities can restrict playgrounds to people with kids. It seems rationally related to a legitimate goal so it passes the constitutional muster (in my opinion). First of all, no, that law is not rationally related to a legitimate goal. It has absolutely no purpose but to mollify and reinforce the behavior of idiots who think their children's safety is everyone's responsibility but their own. See my comment above. Second, "rationally related to a legitimate goal" is NOT a valid legal argument in the opinion of anyone who understands one iota about constitutional law. If it were, I'd have some apparently well-reasoned arguments with which we could ignore the entire Bill of Rights, and several parts of the Constitution itself. The document exists for a reason. If only speech with positive effects is protected, then NO speech is protected, because the government gets to decide which speech has positive effects. You may as well argue that we shouldn't have due process for "clearly guilty" people, or the right to belong to the "wrong" religion. I would find it VERY hard to argue that the above law does not clearly violate the freedom of association, and possibly equal treatment under the law. How are they "rough on" anyone? If you don't have the spine to clearly state your rights to the police officer, along with the fact that you aren't breaking any laws (or any constitutionally valid laws, should the example at hand apply), then you can skip those caches. I skip caches all the time. I skip park and grabs because I find them dull and anticlimactic; I skip caches in the city of Chicago because they have a record-setting homicide rate and no right to self defense; I skipped caches in one part of a park I recently visited because the terrain was too steep for my six-year-old. Different cachers want different things in a cache -- just pick the ones that suit you! No one *has to* place a cache anywhere, nor does anyone *have to* seek a particular cache, let alone any cache at all. It's called individual choice. --Susan
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