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Everything posted by shellbadger

  1. I am on the road right now, Those numbers seem high. The 10% loss for the first drops in NA, would be 1 in 10.
  2. Of course trackables go missing in Europe. My correspondents in Europe complain about it all the time. Most particularly, they have only a little better success with geocoins than we do. What I reported is the history of my trackables and that is a fact that can be confirmed by anyone...go to my profile pages and sort out the 2016 and 2017 releases. Bear in mind that the release is on that date when a trackable was dropped off or exchanged, not the activation date. The only thing than can be argued is, as I suggested in the post, that the trackables released by others are treated differently than mine. However, I would acknowledge that I do have the opinion that there are regional differences in stewardship there, as there are here. The most conscientious, as groups, appear to be the English, Dutch, Belgian and German cachers. Trackables landing among them will have a good chance to move on, otherwise the chances are reduced somewhat. But, like here, there are individual exceptions among other regions. Regrettably, I probably won't live long enough to accrue sample sizes large enough to attach heft to this opinion.
  3. Because each of the eight curves in the previous post result from large sample sizes, and because those curves are so nearly alike, it is easy to assume they collectively represent a universal truth. That is not the case. The curves are nearly alike because they derive from nearly the same history, which is largely determined by the location of releases, and to some extent, the behavior of the owner. In my case, the trackable survivorship curves result from the activity of three classes of travelers in my collection: (1) NorAmOnly-those trackables that never had a drop outside North America; (2) NorAmExit--those that were released in North America but left the continent to be dropped elsewhere; and (3) EurOnly--those released in Europe. Further explanations follow. NorAmOnly—This essentially means the United States because the three trackables I released in Canada in 2016 will have little effects on the statistics. In the US, over 90% were released in Texas, more than 80% were released in my caches in the Panhandle-Southern High Plains. Some of the trackables in this class visited caches on other continents, but were never released before returning to North America. Year-to-year, this is by far the largest cohort of trackables released, usually around 80% ± 4% of the total released annually over a 10-year period. NorAmExit—These trackables will have been released in North America, but may or may not have been dropped in other caches here before being taken to another continent by someone other than the owner. The usual destination is Europe, particularly the England, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, but lesser numbers go to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea, among other countries in Asia The figure below (the mostly yellow one), illustrates the activity of the Year-2017 bugs in this class. The drops outside North America are shown by the yellow blocks. The range of departures from North America occurred from immediately after release to after the 13th drop. Three trackables in this collection returned to North America. This cohort is usually around 10% ± 5% of the total trackables released. EurOnly—All of the trackables were released in caches, or at events, in Europe. In this 2017 data set, all releases were in England. However, in the past, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Italy have hosted some of my new trackables. This smallest of cohorts consists of around 6% ± 4% of the total trackables released. The second graph (below) is based on trackables from Years 2016 and 2017, the last two periods that satisfy the Index-Year-Plus-Two protocol. There are 724 trackables from these two periods, of which 79% were NoAmOnly, 15% were NorAmExit and 6% were EurOnly (see under Time 0 in the table below the graph). There are several things of note in the table and graph.: 1. The blue line is the combined survivorship curve for 2016 and 2017. It is not materially different than the curves for all previous years (see the first post in this series). It owes most of its shape to the combined influences of the three component cohorts below it. 2. The number of drops achieved is the row across the top of the table. The numbers in the table, below the drops, are the respective percents remaining for each cohort, for that drop. 3. In the table, left to right, the trend for all numbers in the rows is downward. Together, the degree of difference in these numbers represent the rate of attrition (percent loss per drop) for each cohort. 4. For the NorAmOnly row the numbers read 79, 63, 51, 41, and so on. The difference of 16 (79 minus 63) between Time 0 (release) and Drop 1 means that 16% of the trackables disappeared from the original release location. And, the difference of 12 between drops 1 and 2 means that, of the reduced number of trackables at 1, 12% of those failed to reach the next drop. What is important in this row is the average double-digit attrition rate through the first five drops. This is reflected in the precipitous decline shown by the orange line in the graph. 5. For both the NorAmExit and Euronly rows, the attrition rate is never above 2%, which is reflected in the gentle slopes of the gray and yellow lines in the graph. Remember, these two cohorts are trackables that were either released in Europe or were taken there after a few drops in the US. 6. At Drop 8, the percent of NorAmOnly trackables has declined to equal the combined percents of trackables in Europe. By the next drop, the NorAmOnly number falls below that of the just the NorAmExit value. Soon thereafter, there are more of my trackables from 2016 and 2017 that are circulating outside of North America, most of which were taken there by someone else. In summary, the trackable survivorship curves shown here and in the previous post are a product of where I live and how I cache. Taking a closer look of inputs, I live in a town of 255,000 people, but I mostly cache in a decidedly rural region to the east. The region is many hours drive (even on Texas roads) from a major metropolitan area. It is almost equidistant from the east and west coasts. There is an Interstate that defines the west side that connect only two cities, and one major Texas highway, and seven US highways pass through my core area, which is where all my trackable-friendly caches are located. My trackables are generally smallish and durable (no beanie babies) and I try to make them unusual, but not so unusual as to end up as a trophy. There are essentially no geocoins (perhaps a dozen at most). Every 30-60 days I check and restock the caches that have been visited in the intervening period. The curve that results from these inputs is unique to me, but it could be similar for any cacher who approaches caching in essentially the same way, from a similar location. I can imagine very different curves for trackable collections released where there is either more or less tourist traffic. After many years, I am still amazed at the number of my trackables that somehow end up in Europe without my taking them there. A trackable released near Guthrie in 2018 recently made it to San Marino, completing the remote-tiny-country trifecta that also includes Lichtenstein and Andorra...a statement that hints at why I enjoy the idea of these small travelers so much. Finally, it should be clear that the climate for trackables is far better in Europe than in North America. There are probably a number of reasons, but as a child of the 1950s, I am inclined to take an uncharitable, even curmudgeonly, view of the ethos of our later US generations, I will keep those thoughts to myself. Suffice it to say, that I am pleased when a trackable finds its way out of the country because I know it has a better chance to survive almost anywhere than if it stayed in the US. Furthermore, when a European asks, I always decline the option to have my trackable returned to this country. This attitude will be reinforced when, in a future post, I provide a summary of the characteristics of trackables that survive at least five years and/or make at least 25 drops
  4. Thanks for your kind comments. I have lately noticed that cachers on the Texas Challenge mission seem to be selectively visiting my containers, which of course is the point. I maintain the containers as bait to increase the chances that a trackable there might be noticed and taken away. Every month or so I travel to containers that have been visited and restock them with new trackables. My next report (in the next day or two) will show why I sent your trackable to England. European cachers take way, way better of care trackables than we do here...bugs last longer move more frequently. My containers give me an excuse to get out of the house and on the road. I did the same thing with a hobby i had when I lived in the Rio Grande Valley. I did office work then but kept bees on the side. I had bee yards scattered over four counties. Here, I have been retired since 2003 and have trackable-sized caches scattered over 10 counties and bison tube caches in cemeteries scattered scattered over 40+ counties. It is what this really old man does to stay busy. More than you wanted to know, I'm sure. Thanks again.
  5. I do realize. Several years ago I looked at profiles persons who had logged retrievals of my bugs but never dropped them. By far most were newbies who seemingly had lost interest, but a significant number were also pmo cachers. There are a surprising number of non-pmo cachers visiting my pmo caches...I know some of them and they aren't bad actors.
  6. OK folks, thanks for the comments. Re using the watch feature, I am only a marginal cacher so the applications you describe are not things I have learned to do. I maintain my own caches and make travel bugs, that is the kind of caching I do. I guess I will have to either move containers or learn to treat the disappearance of 30 trackable a year as overhead.
  7. I have released 200-400 of my own trackables every year since 2010. More than 90% are dog tags attached to a variety of items, mostly sample poker chips, patches, laminated images, beads and keychain pendants. The remainder are of the themed metal tag variety, plus a handful of coins. I have data on every one of my trackables. Chief among the variables recorded are the date of release (Time 0) and the date of every subsequent drop. The term “drop” is any change of possession…it includes a release into a cache, as well as handoffs or trades. A drop is when the responsibility for a trackable has been given over to someone else. The number of drops equals the number of cachers who honored the implied contract to complete a move when the trackable was retrieved. A retrieval without a later release (or grab by someone else) is not counted, nor is the simple discovery of a trackable. I have documented the short-term activity of the trackables released every year. For those released in 2010 (an index year) I tabulated the drops through that year and through the following two calendar years (2011-12). The 2011 collection was followed through 2013, and so on. The latest possible, and recently-summarized index year is 2017. Depending on when trackables were released during the index year, some will be almost three years old, but those released late in the year are only a little more two years old. The same bias exists through all the index years. The figure below shows the percentage of trackables that achieved specific drops, out to 25 drops, for each of eight years. The takeaways are: (1) that all the curves are essentially the same [the shape will be explained in a later post] and (2) only about 50% of the trackables achieved five drops [in a later post I will show this occurs at about a year]. Caveats. (1) The reader should not assume the graph depicts only missing trackables. Many are, almost certainly those that fail to make four drops in 2-3 years are out of service, but some percentage to the right of four drops will continue on. There are a few of my early trackables that have made it through 60 drops and/or have lasted more than eight years. (2) It is possible that a random collection of trackables released by others would exhibit similar curves, under the same circumstances. However, I think it unlikely for reasons explained in the following post.
  8. I have 50+ trackable-capable caches and I try to keep travelers in all of them. All my caches are Premium Member Only and most are rural, at roadsides. A few of them are now 10 years old, the youngest is a year old. My containers have a good many repeat visitors because other cachers know there will be a bug or two to carry away. Over the years, a trackable will just vanished from most of them. However, a pattern is starting to develop. Some of the containers lose proportionally more trackables than others, and it is not a difference in container traffic. Fifteen of my caches (30%) have watchers, one cache has two. What is the purpose of permitting someone other than the owner to watch a cache? Is there a way to identify the watchers?
  9. I am posting here in case you are watching for a response. I sent you an email directly to the effect I am willing to help.
  10. Does anyone know what happened to the Geotrib.es site for mapping TB travel? For a while there was an announcement that it closed for repairs, now the site has disappeared altogether.
  11. I put the message NOT place TBs in urban, non-PM caches. It is about reducing risk. I keep records on all my TBs and have data to justify my preferences. On average, in the US, TBs will go missing in a little over a year and won't be handled by more than 6 or 7 cacher. Many are lost from their first cache and never move, at least on paper. The best thing that can happen to a TB is to land in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria or the Czech Republic. Bugs move faster and last longer. Urban caches are death on TBs, in part because they get a lot of traffic. Sooner, rather than later, there will be an irresponsible finder. Any doofus with a smartphone and a free app can find urban caches. Newbies are especially bad, they usually aren't very stealthy, they will find a cache or two, pick up a bug or two, maybe even put out a poorly-hidden cache or two, then lose interest. They keep the bugs are and leave behind unmaintained caches. This is a broad brush, but rural caches are a bit harder to find with smartphone apps; it usually takes an investment in a gps device. A casual cacher is not going to spend the money. Which brings me to Premium Member caches. The casual cacher is not going to spend the $25 per year. All but one of my caches are rural and all are PMOs. After I converted my caches to PMOs, muggling and stolen TBs dropped to 15-25% of their former levels. These data also show there are irresponsible PMs. However, there are some rural caches hazardous to TBs as well. Just look at caches outside the gates of National Parks and popular caches in some state parks. And, many cachers (including the writer) have made the pilgrimage to famous caches like Mingo (oldest active cache) off I-70 in NW Kansas. They all show large TB inventories, but no bugs are found. The point is, I will cheerfully sacrifice frequent discovery and/or miles on a TB for its longevity. I have TBs on mountain tops in Colorado, Utah and Nevada. The cache in Utah hasn't been visited in over 3 years so the TBs hasn't had a chance to move. That's OK with me. All this said, I can only do what I can before release, after that I have minimal say in what happens to my bug because I suspect at most only about half the finders actually read the mission statements. So, my TBs still regularly wind up dicey, urban, non-Premium caches where they soon go missing.
  12. This morning I received about 30 logs of discoveries of one of my TBs from cachers at an event in Slovenia (GC5EWE2). Instead of the usual boilerplate text, two of the emails consisted of a list of TB tracking numbers. Given its recent history, I think my TB was actually there, but still ................?
  13. Have you considered a different hobby? Perhaps Geocaching would be fun. The truth is I spend way more time on my travel bugs and maintaining my caches than playing golf. But then again, I understand why those activities wouldn't be considered geocaching in the usual sense. It is, however, how I choose to spend my time.
  14. Did I need to do it? Absolutely not! But it gives me pleasure to convert the anecdotal "what most people know" to a quantified "what is known." I keep records on my travel bugs and few other people have time and sample size to definitively address some of the questions that arise on this forum. For example, everybody knows bugs are treated better in Europe (move more frequently, last longer)than in the US, but I will soon be able to state how much better. Hey, I am retired, I can't play golf all day, every day.
  15. I have finished another report on some of my travel bugs. It concerns 152 shellbadger TBs held by 136 different cachers for more than a year. It contains profiles of the cachers holding bugs and the results of sending an email query to each of those cachers. The chief findings are: (1)the vast majority of the bugs are held by short-term cachers and(2)emailing the cachers will not get much of a response. Details are at http://handsofcachers.weebly.com
  16. Be careful what you wish for. I know for a fact that your TBs are far safer in Europe than anywhere else, particularly the US. You Dutch, but also Belgians, Germans and Czechs take very good care of TBs in your countries. Most TBs in the US go out of service in the first year. They either go missing outright or are held by indifferent cachers who lose interest after a few outings. The latter just keep their trophy TB and move on to some other activity.
  17. I hope my trackables leave Europe some day. But I just started with Geocaching, and mine are traveling quite good. There was one that had a hold-up, and one is in an cache where not many people visit. But that is okey, that is part of the game. On my main page I also have a list where they are all at, in what country. As a Dutch person I am always like: Oh, it left the Netherlands! Now they journey starts realy well. Other countries, other cultures. xD
  18. I have only one cache in an urban setting, the rest are in rural areas where locating containers with a smart phone is often pretty iffy. I will log my finds with my phone but the Garmin is far better at pinpointing locations. The onus for installing codes would probably fall back on the cache owners. There are sites where free QR codes can be generated, but there are modestly-priced downloads as well. Of course the cache would have to be large enough to hold an item (paper or whatever) with a readable code on it. I have no caches smaller than a pint-size lock and lock.
  19. OK, I read the give and take on the QR Travel Bugs topic. I am starting to put more durable cache cards with the log book in each of my caches. Each card will have the cache name and GC code. No biggie, but then it occurred to me that I could easily add a QR code for the cache URL to the same card. Can there be a problem with this?
  20. For the best part of four years I have been keeping records on the activity of all my travel bugs (over 1,100 released). I summarize the data in different ways to quantify some widely held beliefs about what happens to bugs after they are released. My most recent project was to document the first of my bugs to 291 unique localities and to credit the 241 cachers who took them there. The results may be seen at the address below. http://tbtravelsfirsts.weebly.com
  21. OK, changing the compatibility mode fixed the problem for me as well. Thanks for your interest and help.
  22. My last response was from my laptop and the editor was working. Now at my desktop and the editor is still not working.
  23. I didn't do anything, it just started working. I just checked again and the editor is still working. I taught toxicology to environmental engineers when I was still working. They really weren't into the history of their own discipline much less that of science, but they had to at least memorize Paracelsus and his contributions.
  24. Wow! It doesn't seem to be working for me either. I am using Internet Explorer 10, and experienced the following: (1) entered a new trackable, and the mission and description windows were grayed out, wouldn't take any input; (2) once the trackable was created and I clicked on the Edit This Trackable choice, the windows were still grayed out, would not take input; (3) tried to do the same with one of my existing trackables, and even though the listing showed data for both mission and description, when I clicked on the Edit This Trackable, nothing appeared in the two windows, and no input was possible. I would be interested to know what finally worked for you. And when I tried the same thing with Chrome instead of IE 10, it worked normally. I'm not a big Chrome user, but maybe Groundspeak has left me no choice.
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