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The Rat

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  1. Well, you learn something every day. Today anyway. I didn't know that sidebar could be moved. Very helpful. Thanks for the tip.
  2. When I go to a cache page and click on the "View larger map" link and the new map comes up with the cache icons there are often scores, or even hundreds, of cache icons shown. The icon for the cache I was looking at is never centered, nor is it highlighted or labeled. By hovering the mouse pointer over each icon most will cause a pop-up window showing the cache name, but not always, especially where the icon is partially covered by a nearby icon. This happens a lot around here where there are many puzzle caches and their icons may be right on top of regular cache icons or vice versa. Thus hunting for the actual icon you want in this forest is sometimes harder than looking for the cache. I would like to see the cache whose page I clicked be centered or highlighted, preferably both. If I try to zoom in to get some separation among the icons so that the mouse hovering works better I am likely to make the target cache move off the edge and disappear since it is not in the center. Is there any easy solution to this? Does anyone know why the "View larger map" link doesn't center the target cache?
  3. Here's four more: Geocache Surprise by Jake Maddox Cache of Corpses by Henry Kisor First to Find by Morgan Talbot First to Find by John Taskett That makes 3 different First to Find titles. Titles can't be copyrighted. Morgan Talbot is a geocacher in eastern Washington, I believe. Her novel seems geared mainly to women as a "cozy" mystery. At least that's what most of the other titles from that publisher are.
  4. I have been known to criticize grammar and spelling on caches and logs, but I refrain from doing it on forums, even when I have to grit my teeth to read some of the posts. For one thing, it's a hopeless task correcting them, like trying to sweep back a rising tide. Second, it can hurt the poster's feelings. Third, it can derail the topic. But if it's really bad grammar and spelling, not just typos, and the poster is not ESL (you can virtually always tell, and I have sympathy for those folks) I won't help the person because I figure if they've made it to their teen years or beyond without paying attention in school or bothering to learn how to speak and write they are either not going to pay attention to any help or just aren't smart enough to understand it. It would be a waste of my time and theirs. On caches, and to a lesser extent logs, though, bad grammar and spelling can mislead or confuse future finders so I try to point out the mistakes, sometimes by private email, other times, on my own logs where I think it's necessary to help future geocachers.
  5. Thanks for the kind words, Andronicus. I'm glad you enjoyed it. In order not to mislead, though, the price is $4.25. Amazon set the minimum price above $2.50. As for the sequel, I do have some ideas for another book, but I haven't started one. The dates on my first two (Held for Ransom pub. 11/2011, Cached Out pub. 10/2012) may make it look like I can write a novel a year, but I actually wrote Held for Ransom in in 2001 then set it aside when I couldn't get it published by a mainstream publisher and I began Cached Out in 2007 when I retired but worked on that off and on since. The first book does not involve geocaching, but I did later create a multi-cache called Ransom that followed the end plot of that book. It was quite popular, but I had to archive it when the area of the cache got designated as a fragile ecosystem area and banned foot traffic. I actually have ideas for two sequels, one involving the "hook" you mention, one based on a case I worked in the FBI. Don't expect either one any time soon.
  6. I just found out that another geocacher has written a murder mystery titled First to Find with a subtitle Book #1 in the Caching Out series. I welcome her to the fold of books here, but I do think the title and subtitle could cause confusion with books already listed here, including mine, since Cached Out sounds like it's part of a Caching Out series and mine is already listed as part of a series (Cliff Knowles Mysteries). Both have skulls on the cover. I have asked her publisher to consider changing the subtitle. Her book is scheduled to come out around Halloween and I've already done some promotion that is Halloween-related, too. So far everything is on a friendly basis and I want to keep it that way. There is room for everyone in this novel space, but it would not be geocacher-like to try to horn in on someone else's established series. Maybe if I (or you) post links to my Cached Out page using the words Caching Out instead of Cached Out or to the Amazon.com page: Caching Out that will make it ineffective to use that term for another book, if search engines work as I expect they do. I tried to contact Mark Gessner (lowracer) to let him know about his title overlap but I was unable to find an email for him. Apparently that geoname is not in active use. If anyone knows him, you might want to let him know, or put him in contact with me.
  7. After I published my novel, I was amazed to find how many others there were. Most, like mine, involve a geocacher finding a body, a skeleton, or body part. I have compiled a list but I am pretty sure it is not complete. No doubt they don't all have close ties to geocaching. Some are for kids or teens, and at least one is a romance and one is sci-fi, but most are more or less traditional mysteries. Cached Out by Russell Atkinson Caching In by Deb Jacobson First to Find by Mark Gessner Serial Finder by David Klug (icecreamman) The Box That Watch Found by Gertrude Walker Chandler Ben and the Geocache Treasure by Heather Gregory Rainbow's End by Valerie Comer et al. Coordinates for Murder by Darren Kirby Geocache Surprise by Jake Maddox Code: A Virals Novel by Kathy and Brendan Reichs The Geocache Killer by Julian Flood HIDDEN AWAY by Phyllis J. Perry Abomination by Colleen Coble Waypoint: Cache Quest Oregon by Shauna Shober Why Casey Had to Die by L.C. Hayden The Gorry Brothers: First Leap by Eve McGuire Geocache by Errol Bader Waypoint Alaska by Shauna Shober The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer Cell-out by Peter Armstrong Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach Hide and Seek by Katy Grant Spiral by Paul McKuen
  8. I love that sig line. I haven't heard that one before.
  9. Thanks for the feedback. It is possible to include images in the .doc file and those will be imbedded in the Kindle app, but I have heard that they are often rendered very badly and sometimes illegibly, so I opted to use the letters instead of suit symbols.
  10. People here can help me out. I wrote this originally for print, and used some special characters. For example, the degree symbol on coordinates, and the playing card suit symbols in the puzzle at the beginning of chapter 4. This was no problem because when uploaded to the print publisher it is done in pdf format and Adobe can embed fonts. But when I uploaded the .doc version to Kindle, these symbols did not all convert correctly. I had to change the playing card suits to the letters SHDC, but some degree symbols converted just fine and others didn't. I discovered that even though they were the same font, the font size in the .doc version made the difference. I edited the text to fix that, and in the Kindle previewer they all looked correct to me, but I'd be interested in knowing if they render correctly in all Kindle readers or Kindle apps for other devices (e.g. Nook or Apple), especially if you change the font size.
  11. In a shameless act of self-promotion I'll post a link to my new novel, Cached Out: Cached Out, a geocaching novel. This is the second in the Cliff Knowles Mysteries series. It's not a novel about geocaching per se. It's a traditional murder mystery with the usual sleuthing, murder, and a love interest, with some action scenes. There's also several puzzle caches to be solved by the main character. The solutions appear in the text if you keep reading, so you don't have to solve them to follow the plot, but if you're into puzzles you have a chance. The puzzles are all puzzles that appeared on caches that are now archived, so there are no spoilers of existing puzzle caches. There's also plenty of descriptions of finding other types of caches, and of the beauty of the trails, wildlife, etc. one encounters when geocaching. Knowledge of geocaching plays a big part in solving the mystery, but I don't want to put any spoilers here. It's pretty tame by murder mystery standards, with some salty language, but no gore or graphic sex. It's a PG-13 book at most, maybe PG.
  12. As a crypto-nut I am in favor of anything that promotes the fun of ciphers and codes, but I don't think a separate forum for that here would do that. A well-designed puzzle cache should do that on the cache page and in the logs. I have many cipher-related puzzle caches active or archived, and I try always to provide either an explanation of how the cipher works or a link to a place that explains it, like the American Cryptogram Association (ACA) Cipher Types pages. I agree, too, that way too many puzzle caches these days consist mainly of hiding the coordinates in some obscure way rather than providing a puzzle to solve. Another of my pet peeves is the "research puzzle" where you are given instructions on what to look up (e.g. someone's birth date or historical data). They aren't really puzzles, but at least those are solvable and do teach you something you didn't know, even if it's something you have no interest in. But for those interested in solving cipher and code related puzzles, I highly recommend the ACA.
  13. There are too many issues brought up to reply to them all, but some basic points: 1. Electricity in California is produced using virtually no coal (<1% according to sources I trust). I believe the biggest source is natural gas followed by hydroelectric, wind, and solar. 2. My Leaf is charged almost entirely at night during off-peak hours when hydroelectric and wind make up a larger % of the power source since they have to run constantly, while the gas is turned way down to just the minimum needed to keep the voltage up. Basically, almost no extra gas or other fossil fuel is burned to charge it. 3. The argument that electric cars simply shift the emissions to the power plant and do not ultimately reduce harmful emissions compared to internal combustion engines (ICE) has been thoroughly debunked by the scientific community, although people will choose to believe what they want to believe on this issue, I'm sure. ICE cars have a much bigger carbon footprint. 4. Just as important to me, or perhaps more so, is the national security and balance of payments aspect. Even if the carbon footprint was the same, I'd rather send my dollars to American natural gas producers and hydro dams in California than to Iran, Venezuela, and BP. I bought a Leaf in part to buy American ... fuel. 5. For most people an EV probably won't save you money. I wouldn't have bought it for a ridiculous amount. With government incentives it was in the mid $20K range, less than the original price of the car I traded in (a 1998 ICE car). It has cost me about $20/month in increased electricity. I expect to have almost no service costs, either. 6. I'm not telling anyone to buy or cache an EV. It really is only suitable for a particular demographic subset. We don't have range problems because we have an ICE car for longer trips. If you have a long commute or need to tow a boat or trailer, etc., it's not for you, at least not as your only vehicle. I do hope my blog disabuses people of some of the misinformation put out about EV's, or even possibly justified negative views based on EV's of years past. I'm also hoping it makes you think about the environment when caching. For example, for longer trips you can carpool instead of all meeting at the endpoint; it's more fun with a group talking in the car anyway, in my experience.
  14. To reduce my own carbon footprint and inspire a return to geocaching in a more environmentally friendly way I have started a blog about geocaching with an electric vehicle, specifically my Nissan Leaf. The range limitations and absence of a fast recharging infrastructure pose special challenges. You can read about my successes or failures at Electricaching. You are free to comment here, of course, but if you want to comment I would encourage you to do it on the blog site since the comments can be viewed by non-geocachers, too. I will respond only there to avoid answering the same questions twice, but I'm happy to answer questions about the Leaf there for the curious.
  15. The replies to my post are good ones and worth considering; I don't really disagree all that much, but there is an element of denial by some. I am not saying anyone is likely to be sued or would be found liable in this case, only that there is a legal risk that most geocachers want to pretend doesn't exist. As for terms of use, there are various possible reasons why that wouldn't stand up in court, and for that matter plenty of caches that people who never signed up for geocaching accounts go for so it wouldn't apply. Many puzzle caches, for example, can be accessed by anyone and solved for real coordinates even though the posted coordinates aren't shown. Some caches are publicized in local newspapers or elsewhere with enough information to figure out where they are. Many geocachers go with guests who aren't geocachers and who may make unwarranted assumptions about the hobby/sport. Kids are legally incapable of accepting those terms of use but still might sign up; I don't remember whether it asks you if you're 18, but a kid could lie and get on the site easily. And so on. A jury gave the moron who spilled hot coffee on herself millions from McDonald's and now we all have to drink not-so-hot coffee - if we go to McDonald's for coffee anyway. A jury found OJ not guilty. I could cite many examples, but the point is that a jury can do almost anything it wants in disregard of the law, and they often do when they see a sympathetic plaintiff, such as a paralysis victim. There are also a couple of legal principles called res judicata and collateral estoppel that are very unfair (in my opinion) to defendants in these sorts of cases. Briefly, if the defendant loses once in court it may be estopped (prevented) from ever denying liability or at least negligence again in a similar case because it has already been proven, after the defendant had a chance to prove otherwise, that it was negligent (to fail to have warnings, or failure to train reviewers, or whatever). The same does not apply to plaintiffs, because each plaintiff is a newcomer to court and has never had a chance to litigate the issue. So a defendant could win fifty cases in a row and then lose one, and that means it is liable forever in every case with the same issue. That's why the coffee has to be cooled down for everyone and why so many corporations settle almost every case. They can't afford to lose even one. If Groundspeak is ever held liable, it pretty much has to go out of business, because it can't go out and retrieve all those caches that are out there already. The statement from the family in this case makes pretty clear that they consider it an accident and not anyone's fault, at least not anyone related to geocaching. I do not expect a lawsuit in this case based on what I've read. I just think people shouldn't be guided solely by zealots and should be able to weigh all the risks. Most importantly, I think there are too many geocachers putting out extreme caches and too many people without the experience, equipment, physical skills or fitness being drawn into going for them. Be careful.
  16. As one of the "greedy lawyers" referred to earlier (before you toss the brickbats, I am retired and I never did personal injury law), I wouldn't be so sure about no liability. As pointed out, we don't know how close the victim was to the cache and so far as I tell from the cache listing, it had sufficient warnings for an experienced geocacher and was rated properly, although I've never been there. I also don't know Washington law. It did, however, require traveling over the dangerous trail from which the man fell, apparently. If nothing else the attractive nuisance theory might apply here, if that exists in Washington law, and Groundspeak has never taken any reasonable steps to prevent this sort of thing, to ensure that proper warnings have been placed on a cache listing, to train Reviewers in how to determine if a cache is safe, etc. The fact that they don't allow them on or near railroad tracks, for example, is evidence that they are aware a cache listing may draw someone to go for a cache that poses a hazard, that it is their responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent that, and it also can be used to show that a geocacher, especially a new one, might believe that Groundspeak therefore wouldn't list a cache that was too dangerous, thus inducing reliance. At least a lawyer could argue that. In California there is an open trails exception that relieves a landowner from responsibility if he opens his land to the public for hiking without fee and without improvement of the land, but that generally only applies to the landowner, not to someone placing something there and wouldn't even protect the landowner for an affirmative action like hiding something there and advertising it in a way that is likely to draw people there. All the hush hush attitude here about the cache and owners is likely to be taken as evidence of consciousness of guilt. Archiving the cache afterward probably cannot be used as evidence of negligence because of a legal principle that post-injury remedial action is not allowed into evidence. Otherwise people would never fix a hazard for fear it would be used against them. Wrongful death generally can only be brought by the estate or immediate family of a victim, but negligence actions possibly can be brought by anyone who suffered a financial loss from the death, such as an employer, although that varies from state to state. The fact is that anyone hiding a cache in a high terrain area or in high vehicle traffic areas, or anywhere posing a potential danger of injury is taking a risk of liability. I go for those caches now and then but I don't hide them because they are dangerous for others. I predicted some time ago that Groundspeak would be driven out of business by the first big tort suit and I still think it will happen, though maybe not on this one. More likely it will be for one where someone young falls and is paralyzed from the neck down, thus needing tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars worth of care for the rest of his or her life. All lawyers know that it is much cheaper if the victim dies. I think all the ostriches hiding their heads in the sand on this one are doing the members a disservice. You need to be careful not only in where you go and what you try while caching, but also in what you hide, how you describe it, and whether to volunteer as a reviewer. Your insurance won't cover all of it if it's a big one. You could lose your house.
  17. My condolences as well. Without question the main responsibility for this accident lies with the victim. Anyone engaged in hiking, climbing or similar outdoor activities can suffer such an accident and it is our responsibility to watch where we go and be physically fit and prepared enough for the terrain we are traversing. That said, I am disappointed at all the posts here suggesting that no one else shares responsibility. Groundspeak has been irresponsible about cache placement and approval from day one and I predicted years ago that it would go out of business after the first big geocaching wrongful death suit, which would land it in bankruptcy. I have reviewed the cache description. Out of respect for the local geocachers who are circling the wagons around the owners, I won't post it here, but if anyone wants to know which cache it is, e-mail me. So far as I can tell the description provides reasonable warnings and I am not suggesting they are in any way to blame. However, as a lawyer (not familiar with Washington law), I would guess that if a suit is brought the owners and the approver, as well as Groundspeak, all have a good chance of being held liable under any number of legal theories (attractive nuisance, insufficient warnings, etc.) Frankly, I'm surprised geocaching has lasted this long. If this death doesn't do it, another one will sooner or later. I have gone for quite a few high terrain caches but I don't hide them for this reason, i.e. in order not to entice anyone to do something that would lead to their death or serious injury. Avoiding legal liability is an issue, too, but obviously not as important as keeping others safe. Just hiding a high terrain cache, with or without proper warnings, is like one 12-year-old daring another to stand on the railroad tracks and not jump off until the train is right there. The kid who accepts the dare is mainly responsible, but so is the darer. All this secretiveness about cache and owner is itself evidence an obvious consciousness of guilt.
  18. Here's another one I explained. Tue Zane The images are pictures of cribbage hands. You score the hands and the scores, when concatenated, form the coordinates. The title is a Caesar shift of His Nobs, a cribbage term that will lead you to cribbage scoring sites on the web if you search the phrase.
  19. I often give an explanation to my puzzles when I archive the cache. Read my final log for the solution. Here are some examples: Easter Eggs Chinese Radicals Enos, Idom Some I don't explain on the page but I have explained at events. For this one: WWI & WWII I explained that the title and text suggest a world war theme, but that's a red herring. The WW I and II actually referred to William Wright Sr. and Jr., a reference to Bill of Rights. Each sentence has a phrase or word that appears in only one of the amendments to the Constitution. I had to use one 2-digit amendment but the rest are part of the Bill of Rights.
  20. Touch screen would be nice. But you need the alternate hard controls with a GPS. I have the Garmin Nuvi 350 (with touch screen) and Garmin 60Cx (circular rocker) and much prefer the latter, especially for the field. I just wish Garmin would make a rocker as good as the one on my Magellan SporTrak Pro, which is larger and 100% accurate. The Garmin rockers are too small and 2/3 of the time I hit the left or right directions, the button treats it as an up or a down. I've seen other people having the same problem so I know it's not just me. This circle shown on the Colorado has a different form factor. Maybe they've fixed the problem.
  21. Interesting. This is what I was talking about, and you're right that the locationless one is missing from the All Finds list if you page back chronologically to that date. But that still doesn't explain why the locationless cache find shows up in the total as shown on the logs and shows up on the profile page with the icons titled "Geocache Information for User: The Rat." It looks like a glitch in the system that should be fixed. Whether those locationless caches are counted as in or out can affect milestones and all sorts of other things. I almost lost credit for a cache that had as a logging requirement that the number of finds as shown on the All Finds page be a prime number. That page was showing an inaccurate number at first.
  22. I appreciate this suggestion, but I just checked and that one cache is included in the MyFinds file, so presumably is also in the All Finds query. Where does the total next to one's log come from? I can't imagine it would be computed in some different way, but obviously it is.
  23. I'm not aware of it, as I should be via e-mail notification, and anyway, wouldn't that reduce the totals in both places?
  24. I just noticed that lately my total number of finds as it displays on my logs is one greater than my total number of finds shown when going to my profile page/ all finds (which includes the most recent find that has the inconsistent log). I don't know which number is right. The MyFinds gpx file shows the lower number, consistent with the profile listing. Does anyone know why I show as having one extra find every time I log? Or is MyFinds shorting me by one?
  25. As a geocacher and Vice President of the American Cryptogram Assn. I encourage reference to the link to our pamphlet The ACA and You. We are, however, redoing our website soon, and the link may be broken in the near future. I also love puzzle caches and want to encourage ciphers as one of the much-used techniques for such puzzles. However, I also agree that direct aid in solving is not appropriate on the forums, such as would be the case to say it is this type of cipher or it begins with the word..., etc. I am also more than a little surprised to see this particular topic on the forum for GPS units and software. It might more appropriately belong elsewhere. However, puzzle cachers and ACA members are much the same kind of people and I know of at least four other ACA members who geocache, including the current president. So keep those cipher puzzles coming, check out the ACA website now and again to see the upgrade, and don't get discouraged if you can't solve a particular puzzle. There are plenty of ciphers out there that no one has been able to solve even with massive computers, and every geocacher gets stumped sometimes, on puzzles or otherwise. That's why they have a DNF log.
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