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Everything posted by ArtMan

  1. re: item no. 2 — Unlike Geocaching.com, the NGS has a link right on its home page to their benchmark section: "Looking for Bench Marks." re: item no. 4 — NGS continually updates the benchmark Datasheets and they can be downloaded (in .zip format) here. Artman
  2. I joined geocaching.com in 2002, and I quickly became disillusioned with the Happy Meal toys that seemed to be a hallmark of geocache filler. Then, I discovered benchmarks. The lore often repeated in the benchmarking forum is that in early days, before many caches had been hidden, the benchmark database (then purchased from the National Geodetic Survey on CD-ROM!) was used to give members something to look for — and, of course, attract new members. But geocaching took off, thanks to articles in the media about this new, high-tech treasure hunt, and benchmarking fell by the wayside. Year after year there were no updates to the benchmark data. Highway construction wipes out a cluster of benchmarks; it's noted on the official downloadable NGS datasheets, but the casual user on geocaching.com would have no idea of the update unless a benchmarker logged the change on geocaching.com. There was no obvious clue that the official-looking document hadn't been updated since George W. Bush was inaugurated. After a while, a website redesign made it challenging to even find benchmarks on geocaching.com, and benchmark finds were not tallied with geocache finds. As others in this thread have suggested, given the "benign neglect," it's no surprise that most members focused on geocaching. leaving benchmarks an unloved orphan in the world of geocaching. It's useful to remember that the two activities are fundamentally different, appealing to different if overlapping fans. With a geocache, the idea is to FIND THE GEOCACHE. For benchmarks, the goal is to DOCUMENT THE BENCHMARK'S STATUS — found, damaged, or destroyed. Another difference. Geocaches are hidden to make finding them a challenge. Benchmarks are designed to be found, but the passage of time often makes finding them a challenge. Benchmarks come with built-in history. The description may tell you, for instance, that a small town museum with a disk cemented into the brickwork used to be the town post office. Or that a door at a Deep South railroad station used to lead to the "colored" waiting room. It's not the end of the world if GCHQ hits the delete-all key on 20+ years of data that doesn't exist elsewhere. But it would be a shame. Many members include in their logs helpful warnings about safety (say, along railroad rights-of-way) or where to park, or maybe a good BBQ joint around the corner. NGS logs, or "recovery reports," are dry, formula, just-the-facts prose, with most of the life drained out of it. Geocaching.com/mark has a lot of life in it. May I humbly suggest that before more than a quarter-million logs are scrubbed, that the clever folks at GCHQ devote some marketing mojo to promote benchmarking. I'm no expert, but a good starting point would be downloading up-to-date data from NGS and featuring benchmarks (and their built-in authenticity and coolness) on the home page. Over the years I logged more than 2300 benchmarks in states from New England to New Mexico, and even a few in Puerto Rico. In the process I learned a lot and had great fun doing it. And all without getting arrested, though I was questioned once in Northern Virginia by a CIA cop. I hope there is a happy ending to this story. "Artman" a/k/a Art Chimes, retired radio journalist, proud benchmarker
  3. I suppose in retrospect, given the attitude that Geocaching Inc has had toward Benchmarking for many years now, it is hardly surprising. But it is sad. I logged my first disk, HV1697, on August 4, 2002, near the Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. The most recent was on Christmas Day 2018, HV1926, in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC. I haven't been very active in recent years, but for ca. 2002-2010 especially, I spent an awful log of time on my knees, garden pruner, probe (screwdriver) brush, handheld Garmin eTrex, and camera at the ready, explaining to passersby —and once to a CIA cop — what I was doing. (Printout of datasheet on a clipboard was my standard prop to certify I was in some way legit. Government employee ID, which had nothing to do at all with geodesy, was also helpful in supporting my "official" status.) I am probably forgetting a few, but my logged finds (or not-found) include benchmarks in Massachusetts, Rhode Island (?), Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Alabama, Puerto Rico, and possibly others. (There was also at least one in France, embedded in a cemetery wall, which of course I could not log on geocaching.com. I liked the idea that the pursuit took me to places I wouldn't have found, even if not far from home. It was instructive reading descriptions from decades past, which often were completely useless because of the road re-alignment or changes in the built environment. I thought maybe the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine (archive.org) would have captured our logs, but I didn't have much luck. They do seem to have captured at least 20,000 of the official NGS datasheets frozen in time ca. 2000 that were never updated. Early logs seem to have static URLs in the format < https://www.geocaching.com/mark/details.aspx?PID=HV9203 > but success is inconsistent (at least for me). Also, users can nominate web pages for saving in the Wayback Machine, but my attempts always failed. The front page of the Benchmark section has this report: In the last 7 days, 858 benchmarks have been logged by 163 users. Overall, 166487 benchmarks have been recovered in 233644 logs. There are 736425 total benchmarks in the database. Last Generated: 10/28/2022 19:12 PST Almost a quarter-million logs! Benchmarks may be a small part of Seattle-based Groundspeak's activity, but it's not like no one is participating. Is this forum also going to be deleted? I know this is a business decision, and there is some cost in maintaining the Benchmark logs, etc. I would like to think it's relatively small compared to the benefit. I wonder if the surveying community could be of some help. I have contributed more than 2,000 logs, and at one point was a pretty busy benchmarker. I'd hate to see this all go away. But I'm not optimistic they'll change their mind. After all, Groundspeak hasn't cared much about Benchmarks for most of the past two decades. Regards to all, "Artman" (Art Chimes, retired radio journalist and benchmarker, Arlington, Virginia)
  4. Terrific video. Thanks for the link. ~~~ArtMan~~~
  5. TT4376 is clearly a victim of ongoing attacks on the Census.
  6. Benchmark hunting would be featured more prominently if the folks who run the site could figure out how to monetize it. I haven't been very active on geocaching.com in recent years, but I came for the caches but stayed for the benchmarks.
  7. Years ago (2000s) I enjoyed a great day benchmarking with Paul. He's a gregarious and generous fellow who speaks North Carolina with much more authority than I can muster as he reassured residents who wondered what we were doing that "we're not gonna widen your road, and we're not gonna raise your taxes!"
  8. I would add two things. Before setting out, see if the area is visible in Google Maps Street View. It'll give you an idea of what to expect. I found one of the most useful things in my kit was a pair of pruning shears. Great for cutting grass and roots around disc for a clear photo or for getting into overgrown brambles, etc. Please be respectful of others' property, of course. Good luck! ~ArtMan~
  9. If a wife or girlfriend has ever rolled her eyes when you talk about Benchmarking, you might be interested in this BBC-TV series from a few years back. It centers on a couple of quirky metal detecting hobbyists who take their activity oh so seriously as they roam the scenic countryside around their lovely village. Their search for a big treasure payday more likely turns up a modern one-pound coin or a beer can pull tab than a stash of Saxon gold, and not everyone gets their passionate involvement in detecting business. I'm finding it a refreshing change from nonstop pandemic news. Also, no one does quirky like the Brits. I've been watching on Acorn TV, but it may be available on other platforms, too. Cheers! ArtMan PS: fans of the wonderful 1960s British series The Avengers will want to know that Diana Rigg appears in some of the later shows, but not in the first season.
  10. I posted quite a few times to these forums (fora) over the years, but I have absolutely no recollection of adding a Machu Picchu disk to this conversation, nor where I found that image.
  11. I think it's a matter of nomenclature. An artifact or mark that denotes a place where the latitude and longitude and/or elevation has been precisely measured to a high degree of accuracy. In Commonwealth countries and some others they are known as trig points. (I assume that derives from the trigonometry traditionally used to derive the locations marked and then to identify locations derived from the trig points.) In the United States and some others the elevation marks are identified as bench marks (two words.) Here at geocaching.com, we tend to lump together marks that represent both horizontal position and elevation as benchmarks (one word), which probably causes actual professional surveyors to wince. I've been doing benchmarks here for nearly two decades, but I'm not a professional, so please feel free to correct me. ~ArtMan~
  12. I seem to recall that she retired a few years ago, but I am not confident of my recollection.
  13. Bill93, You are right of course. But given the choice, I'd rather recovery reports from the past 18 (?) years than have the possibly-deleted historical info that, indeed, may be helpful in some situations. -ArtMan-
  14. I hate when an online question is answered with a non-answer, but here goes... I tried some phone apps for my benchmark excursions, but eventually found that works best for me is to plan an outing with marks targeted in a given area, or maybe along a certain road, whatever. Then, I print out the actual NGS datasheets (usually edited to eliminate all the stuff I don't care about, and hopefully get it on a single sheet of paper). Make sure you download the up-to-date info directly from NGS, not the stale, rotting corpse of decades-old datasheets entombed on geocaching.com. Then it's over to the Geocaching site to hand-copy potentially-useful info from logs. I'll sometimes print out a map, or do a sketch, too. Put your printouts on a clipboard — a very important accessory if you want to look like you belong there, or anywhere — and you are ready. Obviously, this approach is best for a planned outing, not a random, "Oh, here I am in St. Louis ... I wonder if I can grab some benchmarks near the Arch." ArtMan
  15. These triangulation stations were often named for a nearby town, village, geographic feature, or person. In this case the nearby village of Knauers is the source. Note, however, that the 1993 recovery report repeatedly misspells it as Knavers, possibly due to a transcription error from handwritten field notes.
  16. Scaredycatfilms' benchmark viewer is back online. David E., who maintains this terrific resource, wrote to me that " I recently performed a migration to a new server, and despite the claims that it would be easy, it was of course, less than easy." Sad to say, this is a common story.... But I'm glad the benchmark viewer is back.
  17. There are other files on this server of possible interest, too. See the readme.txt file in ftp://ftp.ngs.noaa.gov/pub/DS_ARCHIVE
  18. I'm pretty confident you'll find benchmarks in at least a few dozen more-developed countries. I made a point, when I was in France a few years ago, of taking time to recover a couple. The datasheets, if I recall correctly, usually included photos and diagrams, so actually finding the marks was generally painless. (Navigating the website where the datasheets could be downloaded, on the other hand, was considerably more challenging....) -ArtMan-
  19. I've noticed this annoying false precision — apparently an automated "feature" — for several years now. I've lived and traveled abroad and am pretty comfortable with the metric system. If the U.S. and the handful of other holdouts (democratic powerhouses Liberia and Myanmar) would convert, I would be happy. But in the meantime I can only wonder why NGS didn't render 120 yards more precisely as 109.728 meters. -Artman-
  20. My earliest logs were apparently in August 2002. My recordkeeping wasn't perfect back then (and no, it still isn't) but my first seems to be HV7765 in Arlington, Virginia. I think the benchmark section of geocaching.com was inaugurated earlier in 2002. A potentially more interesting question is a timeline of the changes marking the declining support for benchmark hunting on the site: the failure to ever update that database, the loss of a homepage link, etc. It would be nice to see data on the number of users/number of logs over time. Unfortunately, I'm sure it has declined, as has activity on this forum. ArtMan
  21. I've had no problem in the past labeling photos with DSWorld. But one photo has been giving me trouble. When I first tried to label it, the "Label" (and "Place Arrow") menu options were grayed out. I thought there might be some problem with the photo itself, so I tried a different photo with a slightly different result: the "Label" and "Place Arrow" options were not grayed out, but the standard label option (CTRL-L) gave me a popup error message. Custom label worked fine, however. I've brought this to the attention of the developer, Malcolm Archer-Shee, but I'm mentioning it here in case others have had problems with the labeling feature of DSWorld. I'm using the latest version, 4.01.17 -ArtMan-
  22. Awesome. Thanks for posting this. Here's a teaser of what lies behind the link: Decades-Old Mystery Put To Rest: Why Are There X's In The Desert? Pez Owen was flying over the desert in her single-engine Cessna airplane when she spotted a huge "X" etched in the desert below. She says it was the strangest thing. "It's not on the [flight] chart," Owen says. "There just wasn't any indication of this huge cross." Then she spotted another one. "There had to be some reason," she says. "So, of course, I immediately thought I had to get Chuck in on this." Chuck Penson is her former colleague from the University of Arizona. Penson worked in facilities, and Owen worked in the planetarium. Now, they're adventure-seeking friends. That's how Scott Craven from The Arizona Republic described them in a recent article. Their version of hanging out is exploring abandoned mineral mines and military radar bases. Mysterious X's plotted in the desert was too good to pass up. "I was not going to rest until I knew what was going on with these," Penson says. "It's conspiracy theory stuff, you know?" Owen says. "It's right out of the movies." A giant grid of X's Owen rolls out a map she received from the Defense Mapping Agency. It shows Casa Grande, Ariz. — the same area she flew over. Owen points to rows of little boxes that are drawn in. "You can see each of these [boxes] is one of the crosses," she says. "There's a grid of these things," Penson says. "There's not just a few, there's a bunch of these." He counts 273 X's on this map. Each marker is spaced about a mile apart. Pez Owen had flown her little plane over the edge of a massive 289-square-mile grid.
  23. ArtMan


    Some years back I had a terrific day benchmarking in North Carolina with frequent (though not recent) forum contributor PFF. Unlike a Yankee like me, Paul speaks the local language and was quick to reassure residents whose yards might contain disks of interest that we were not surveyors and were not planning on widening the road or making any other "improvements" that would raise their taxes, increase traffic, or otherwise lower their quality of life. Also, if memory serves, ate some pretty fine Carolina BBQ (my favorite variety).
  24. I asked Christine if the webinar would be archived for those, like me, who missed it. She says it will be on the "Recorded Webinars" tab on this web-page: http://www.ngs.noaa....webinar_series/ That page seems to have other topics of interest, such as a February presentation on "GPS Observations on Bench Marks" -ArtMan-
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