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Everything posted by TinSparrow

  1. Funny or not, these statements will be taken out of context. Statements like that will be taken to law makers who are undecided on the issue and who are not doing research themselves. They will be presented with this information one on one, and there will never be a chance to know who was approached. Maybe for one last big display this statement will be introduced on the floor of the house during the debate. All the lawmakers here are in the same boat, as part of being their public life they all have their home and office addresses published, and they all probably know stories where some zealot on a high horse has used this information to make a nuisance of himself. I don't know what laws there are which provide additional protections from of penalties for such a zealot, but I'm sure that they exist. To my mind this issue is similar to making a joke about a weapon while going through airport security. It might be funny at the time, and it certainly can be argued that it's within your first amendment rights to do so, but it's bound to have unpleasant repercussions. So, maybe such a statement gets read out of context at the debate. We're not going to have time at the point to send another round of emails and to make our side heard, or to place the statement in context. All of these individuals (who all have their addresses published) will likely react negatively to this, some will see it as a lone statement out of context, others will use it as a basis for condemning Geocaching even further. I've removed from my earlier post the portion where I quoted the original remarks. I would absolutely be delighted if the original remarks were edited back as well. I can only state this as a polite request, and I hope that the idea is given serious consideration. The issue here is not free speech, is about not wanting to provide additional fuel to the opponent's fire.
  2. Please keep in mind that many people are reading this forum, including folks on both sides of this legislative issue. At the second subcommittee meeting Geocachers in South Carolina were accused of placing retaliatory caches around the Capitol building in response to the events of the first subcommittee meeting. This accusation was made with no supporting evidence at all, and it became yet another charge that we had to defend ourselves against. It is contrary to the spirit of Geocaching (and the guidelines) to place a cache whose purpose it is to take a side of a political issue, and incorporating into a geocache the identity of an individual who holds an opinion contrary to our own could easily be construed as using a Geocache to make a political statement. This is a bad idea, and mentioning it in these public forums will likely give us one more thing which we have to defend ourselves against. I would hate to see some comments made in jest come back to haunt us. [Edited]
  3. I'm not sure if this has been pointed out yet here or not. The latest complete version of this bill was posted yesterday the the South Carolina Statehouse Website. This version is NOT different from the previous version, it's just that it has the amended text folded in to the whole. The document can be found here: H 3777 as of April 27, 2005 Thanks to everyone for your support.
  4. The urinating in cemeteries comment is derived from the March 20, 2005 log by a203nitro on a cemetery cache in South Carolina. This log appeared on the poster board display materials. The log in question states that the would be finders took a rest room break. To arrive at the conclusion that this rest room break was taken in a disrepectful way in the cemetery is not a conclusion that many folks would reach, unless the facts were being spun for gain.
  5. After a break for lunch, proceedings are just now starting again at 2pm Eastern. I do not know what time they indend to break it off this afternoon.
  6. I was in a conversation last week with another Geocacher which led me to believe that the NGS allows and encourages people to locate and report on benchmarks, and that the NGS might have even published a short statement to this effect. Does anyone else have information on this? (Edited to identify the right acronymed department).
  7. On a humorous note, could you imagine a multi stage cache hunt which tries to take into account when it's legal and not legal to use the GPS? From the parking coordinates, walk North to the large oak at the edge of the field. To avoid criminal prosecution, turn your GPS off and get out your compass. Proceed on a heading of 45 degrees across the field, and as you crest the hill look for the USGS benchmark on the rocks. Copy down the two dates listed on the benchmark for calculations to be performed later. To get to stage two travel due West, and look for the veranda in the park across the road. After you cross the road, you may turn your GPS back on. Sorry, just blowing off some steam.
  8. I just got a call back from a gentleman in the legal department at Hertz. I explained to him the legislation currently under consideration (this explanation had to include a short history and description of Geocaching), and then I read him the part of the legislation that Hertz should be concerned about: /2 'Geocaching' means the activity of participants using a global positioning system (GPS) device to locate the geocache or another specific location./ Although the conversation was short, he agreed that as currently written the bill seemed to make criminal the ability of Hertz's customers to use the car's onboard Navigation system to arrive at certain restricted destinations. He said that this issue was worth talking over with his colleagues in order to determine what Hertz needed to do.
  9. In the list of email addresses above, Representative E. DeWitt McCraw's email address is incorrect. It should be EDM@scstatehouse.net
  10. Don't forget, South Carolina also has NPS caches that have been approved by the local Ranger. The caches placed by KCFREE at Star Fort fall into this category. I've searched the NPS and DOI websites as best I can looking for the text of the regulation, and I've not been able to find it. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
  11. I have a call in to Hertz regarding this issue. While it might seem unlikely that a person would be penalized for using an on board navigation system to locate a restaurant in Charleston that was housed within a historic building, is that a chance that a car rental company would want to take? A similar conversation could be had with the owner of a restaurant housed in an historic building. This legislation makes it illegal to use an on board navigation system to locate their place of business. Always remember, these forums are being read by others.
  12. This cache cleanup event occured in 2002 right here in South Carolina. It has a picture similar to what you describe.
  13. There is another story in the Beaufort Gazette today: Letter to the Editor
  14. The representative who removed his name from the bill lives in an area with Geocachers who are active in the community and was known to have been contacted by those Geocachers who gave a different perspective of Geocaching and this legislation.
  15. After my post last night I was out of pocket for the evening (a pleasant rest). Sorry for all the questions which have built up in the meantime. The state archeologist has a documented stream of attempts to contact GC.com by email (with return receipts indicating that the email was opened), phone (voice mail) and registered mail. No response from GC.com came from these attemps.
  16. Special Laws Subcommittee Meeting on April 13, 2005 First of all, let me start by stating that these forum messages are read by many people, not all of them Geocachers. Over the past ten days this fact has been indicated to me directly from a variety of people including State employed archeologists and State Representatives and their assistants. To all of the non Geocachers who have returned to this topic one more time, I want to wish you all a hearty welcome. My remarks are summarized and may not reflect some of the finer detail. I have tried to describe the various positions and stances as accurately as possible. If anyone reading thi is aware of a mistake that I have made, please let me know. Any mistakes are entirely my own. The second subcommittee meeting was held today, and before the meeting several of us had the chance to meet with the State Archeologist at his request. In the subcommittee meeting last week he stated his full support for the legislation. In the past week he's had contact with Geocaching.com and perhaps other Geocachers, and he wanted to offer an amendment to this legislation. Instead of an outright ban, he was totally in favor of amending the legislation to allow geocaching in one of these sensitive area provided that the landowner had given permission. While this does not allow as much freedom as other states might have, this was significant for us as it represented a different position than the previous week. This pre-meeting was only about a half hour, and was followed immediately by the subcomittee meeting. For those of you that have not been to a such a meeting before, the Judiciary subcommittee meeting room has a long U shaped table. The members of the of the subcommittee sit around the U, facing toward the center. Visitors and people wishing to speak sit in chair at the end of the U. There is a podium at the center of the U facing the subcommittee, and people addressing the subcommittee take their place in turn at the podium. Prior to a meeting starting, there is a sign in sheet available for those folks who wish to address the committee. The sheet asks for name, organization represented, and which bill you want to address (in our case H. 3777). The Poster Boards from last week's meeting were present, and there were two new poster boards available as well. This week's new material showed national agencies (mainly National Park and Fish & Wildlife) who have banned Geocaching, and the poster boards identified caches with South Carolina which seemed to be in violation of those bans. The State Archeologist spoke first and recalled some of the facts that he related in last week's meeting (history of previous attempts to contact Geocaching.com, desire to protect sensitive areas within the state). He then spoke of the progress that had been made during the course of the week (contact with Heidi at Gc.com) and he indicated that communication channels had been open to the point that he now had both national contacts and local contacts that he was pleased with. He then offered his amendment to the legislation which would allow for placement of Geocaches in the sensitive areas described in the legislation, provided that written landowner approval was obtained. He then offered his support for H. 3777 with the amendment he described. The next speaker was a resident and landowner of Beaufort County, a gentleman who also spoke last week. This gentleman not only gave his support to the legislation but also sought to strengthen it. In the brief statement that he made, he would ban the hunting of even virtual caches (including virtual stages of multi stage caches) unless express landowner permission was given to allow geocachers on the property. This would even apply to areas that were open and available to the general public. The next speaker was the from the South Carolina Department of Archives & History. This gentleman oversees many (if not all) of the properties which might National Register of Historic Places (or similar) marker nearby. He stated that he is in support of the legislation with the amendment, and he went on to say that he is open to the idea of using Geocaching to draw visitors to these historical places, and he seemed to indicate confidence that issues regarding the location of such caches could be worked out. Another speaker for the state, an archeologist for the Department of Natural Resources, also indicated his support for the legislation as amended, and also indicated that DNR was open to Geocaching by permit in approved areas. [i've not been able to find anything about the permit process on the SC DNR website, so I don't have additional information on this.] Another speaker for the state, an archeologist for South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism (the agency which oversees the state parks) also indicated the same sentiment. He brought up a point that had been missing so far from the discussion, which is that Park Rangers would like to know about caches within their parks solely from a safety standpoint. They would want to ensure that caches were not located in an area where they might be liable for injury due to terrain or other conditions. In amongst these speaker, four Geocachers spoke as well. The first Geocacher who spoke made the mistake of mentioning how responsive Geocachers had been to last week's meeting by removing all the cemetery caches in South Carolina, and the sponsor of the legislation immediately confronted him with a single cemetery cache which she knew was still out there, and basically called his honor into question. She then identified this Geocacher as someone who has one of these illegal caches in a Fish & Wildlife area. He indicated that he thought that the cache had been placed before the regulations which she cited were in effect, and the cahce had not been brought to his attention as one which had a problem. He further stated that this cache would be removed. After the exchange he finished his remarks, and indicated that he preferred a self policing approach for Geocaching, and that he was in opposition to this legislation. There were no such fireworks for the other three speakers, one of which was myself. Our other speakers emphasized the benefits Geocaching, the exploration and finding new places, the educational benefits. Given that so many of the state agencies seemed willing to work with us, a sentiment that was indicated by both the tone and words of their remarks, the other Geocachers that spoke including myself indicated their acceptance of the legislation as amended. When I spoke, I also acknowledged the new Poster Boards and the caches listed there, and I stated that we would take the same action on these caches as we had done with the cemetery caches the previous week. That was the end of the speakers, and I thought that would have been the end of this topic. The subcommittee members then addressed additional amendments to this legislation which they voted on and ratified, and it happened quite quickly and without discussion. One of the amendments augmented the definition of historic places to include not only National Registry of Historic places, but also to include state designated historic sites and a certain category of African American historic sites. Another amendment seemed to augment the definition of Geocaching to include not only the hiding of an object which contained a log and trinkets, but to also include the playing of GPS games or possibly using GPS navigational devices in certain areas. After voting and approving these amendments, they moved on to the next legislative topic. Needless to say, this did come across as a slam dunk to those of us present. The full text of the amendments is not yet present on the www.scstatehouse.net website. I will post more about this as it becomes available.
  17. If the State Archelogist had been trying to contact GC.com for a year wouldn't everyone in the office been aware of it. Surely it would have been discussed at staff meetings if caches were in areas that were of concern. I'm not sure where the archeologists confusion is coming from, or how many people work in the state archaeologists office. I do know that the recognized archaeologist for South Carolina (Dr. Jonathon Leader) is not the gentleman that Swamp Thing spoke with (I have the other name in an email from Swamp Thing). The second subcommittee meeting has been held and has now let out. I will post my court report like observations on this meeting later today, after I get caught up on some tasks pertaining to my paying job. As always, thanks to everyone for your interest and support in this matter.
  18. Poster Boards, part 2. Please see my prefatory comments in the previous post. Below this point, my comments are in [square brackets]. =================== When Johnny comes Marching Home (GCKYCN) lyor1 1-4-2005 [Micro cache has been posed on top of marker for picture. The actual cache placement was not this obvious.] The Ski Bum 12-17-2004 =================== Oh What a Beautiful Mourning V (GCJH9A) From the description: I placed this cache at night, so dont be a scare-d-cat. Try your luck at night. Logs medic208 7-9-2004 I found this one at 9:30 tonight after being "stuck" on Hwy 151! Nice easy find. Thanks ~Doug [it might not have been dark at 9:30pm in a mid summer night, but if not for the possibility of hunting a cache at night I'm not sure what's wrong here.] =================== [several logs from different caches were grouped under the next section. Most of these pictures are not in South Carolina.] Respecting our Veterans? Mr. O 7-4-2004 [Prominent attention was drawn to the fact that this photo was labelled The Money Shot] Mattalbman 3-1-2005 TeamTigerz 7-9-2004 Ghosthunter 7-19-2002 EssPea 1-10-2003 =================== [Finally, here is one section of the Poster which had been converted to a BMP and sent to me. It's now been converted to a JPG by GC.com, but it still seems readable.] ===================
  19. The Long Awaited Content of the Posterboards. It took about a week for my schedule to get in sync with that of the Representative's Assistant, and today I was able to spend some time in front of the aforementioned Poster Boards to study the source for each log and each picture found there on. My thanks goes out to Mr. Bates for staying late and providing me access to these materials. Most of the material falls into one of four categories: 1. People pictured night caching in cemeteries. 2. People who are posed for pictures leaning against tombstones or other markers. 2. GPS units posed for a picture lying on or supported by cemetery fixtures. 3. Logs judged to be inappropriate or not showing respect for a cemetery. At this point in time, since the subcommittee meeting last Wednesday, virtually all cemetery related caches within South Carolina have been archived. These caches will likely remain in this status until this issue can be resolved. To locate the caches from which these logs and pictures were taken, you'll have to do a little extra searching. My intention on providing this material is just to make clear what is being used to incite emotion and rally public support for this legislative initiative. I am identifying individual caches and individual cachers in the logs below, since this is the exact information that was presented to the subcommittee. Due to a restriction on the number of images allowed in a forum post, these images will be spread across two messages. From this point on my own added comments will be in [square brackets]. =================== Where's Yo Momma (GCHZ1K) [Compared with the general theme of pictures listed below, I'm not sure why these pictures of a neglected cemetery were included.] Logs: Waterbaron 02-25-2005 I really enjoy historic boneyard caches and this was one of the better ones I've done. I wonder why the site doesn't have a commemorative plaque? RLJ 11-10-2004 Found stages 1 & 2 fast, stage 3 took 10 minutes due to lots of recently fallen "cover". Took Geo-Hiking Travel Bug out of 1st container and will move it north of here very soon. TNLNSL =================== Kick the Bucket X (GCKGRH) [in addition to any offending logs and pictures, the sponsors of this legislation also took offense to the name of this series of cemetery in and around the Columbia area.] Logs Baruba Juba 10-15-2004 Great to be doing the cemetery caching at night so close to Halloween. =================== Generals at Rest (GC5DEB) 11-25-2004 Mvillian =================== Kick the Bucket XIV (GCKM7N) -NigGHTHAWK- 3-25-2005 [Picture is labeled daytime view of the cache.] Baruba Juba 10-15-2004 =================== Rembrance of Unknown Soldiers (GC569D) [Locationless cache, this log w/ picture occurs outside of South Carolina.] Guitar Nutz & Jamz 12-09-2003 ===================
  20. According to the State Archaelogist, the contact he attempted was not through local cache owners but with the GC.com itself. He says he tried email, phone calls and registered mail but to no avail. In talking with Heidi today, GC.com does not get lots of regular mail, and it's hard to imagine for her that this correspondance would have been missed. Heidi has already initiated contact, and maybe we can get more details as to exactly where his correspondance was addressed to.
  21. In order to prevent additional ongoing comments regarding how the subject of this thread is inaccurate, I've started a new thread with a description of yesterday's South Carolina Committee Meeting which seeks to limit Geocaching in certain areas in South Carolina.
  22. I was at the meeting yesterday. The Special Laws Subcommittee meeting was scheduled to last an hour, and topic H. 3777 which seeks to restrict Geocaching was the third item on the agenda. The subcommittee has 5 members, there were 6 Geocachers in the room a half hour before the meeting. Our intention was to give the subcommittee introduction to Geocaching. We were prepared to demystify it, to talk about what it was and who was doing. We knew of six South Carolina Policement who were Geocachers, a firefighter, three paramedics, a retired missionary, an active minister, the General Manager of a hotel. More importantly, we knew the occupations of Geocachers in the districts represented by the sub committee members, and we were prepared to show Geocachers as a responsible group of citizens who could be trusted with the sensitive areas within the state. We were lined up to talk about CITO, and we had pictures from past projects as well as the calendar of future events. We were pysched. Ten minutes before the meeting, the sponsor of the legislation enters the meeting room and she sets up material for her presentation. In addition to lots of printed material, she sets of two large poster boards on an easel at the front of the room. These poster boards are covered with text from log entries from finders who were logging cemetery caches, as well photographs they had taken while within the cemetery. They had done their research well, and they were displaying the worst of the worst. (I'm working with the Representative to identify every picture and every log entry, and rest assured that I will post them all here once they have been identified. In the meantime, I will have to describe what was displayed.) There were photographs of groups of people out night-caching, posing for a group photograph as they leaned against old grave markers. There were photographs of caches that had been found, temporarily resting atop prominent gravestones so that a picture could be taken. There were several pictures of people lying on the ground right next to markers, and getting their pictures taken so that their smiling face, the marker and their GPS were all visible. There were log entries too, some of these said things like: "There was a freshly dug grave but no one was in it yet, this was so cool." "It was great fun spooky fun to be out at night in the graveyard." There were many more pictures and logs as well, and over and over they underscored the "game" aspect of this pasttime, and they showed the worst practices engaged in while cache hunting in grave yards. These images and logs, which had been freely provided by Geocachers in their own log entries, were incredibly damning evidence. They were appalling, and not one of us there could take a stand and defend those practices. Needless to say, for those of us who were there our tactics changed at this point. We could have talked until we were blue in the face about the educational value of geocaching. That was not going to be disputed. We could have talked about the benefits of CITO. That was not going to be disputed. They were going to talk about disrespect in cemeteries, and they had evidence provided by Geocachers to do so. It was also apparent as the meeting time approached that the meeting was filling up, and I was not recognizing additional Geocachers coming in. The other legislative items on the agenda were discussed first, and about twenty five minutes went by before the Geocaching Bill came up for discussion. The sponsor of the legislation got up and introduced her bill. She talked about how Geocaching started, even referring to the Clinton Administrations actions regarding Select Availability which led to the production of accurate civilian hand held GPS units. She spoke of the general cache hiding and seeking process, and then she told of the assault by geocachers into the cemeteries in her county. Background- At one point in time there had been a series of cemetery themed multi caches in the Beaufort county area. The owner had done careful research to make sure that all of his chosen locations were in public cemeteries, and he had been very responsive to any complaints found in logs about neighbors & residents who didn't want the visitors in their cemetery. Despite the careful planning and the historical nature of these caches, the influx of primarily white geocaching visitors into these rural historical primarily black cemeteries was noticed, and as some of the cemeteries experienced vandalism or even digging and looting, the local residents became increasingly uneasy with the visitors, many of whom seemed more interested game-playing than in the history of the area. During her introduction of the topic, she read aloud a handful of logs by people who had found these (and other) cemetery caches. After she spoke, the next speaker was the State Archaelogist for South Carolina. This gentleman spoke of the impact on Geocaching in sensitive historical and archaeological sites within the states. He had a list of caches which were on or near sensitive sites, and for over a year he had tried to make contact and had not found anyone who was responsive to his issues. So, it's ten minutes into the discussion of the of this legislation, and here's where we stand: 1. We have pictures of incriminating behavior taken by Geocachers themselves within cemeteries. 2. We have log entries read aloud which show that romping around in cemeteries at night is fun (as opposed to educational and of historical value), and it's even more fun if that was find number 8 of 10 at night. 3. We have the state archaeologist talk about his attempts to contact someone to talk with, and futile that experience has been for him. The next speaker for the state makes similar comments and makes the point that since it is has not been easy to contact us and since this behavior has gone on for a while, the time for Geocaching to police its own behavior has come to an end, and the state must take action to protect its own sensitive areas, and this includes cemeteries, archaeological sites and historic sites. And these last two speakers were impassioned. They were folks who had obviously had frustrated by what they perceived as out of control rogue behavior, and they spoke with a force that had built up over time. Someone for our side spoke next. We had a copy of a letter written by the Geocacher who had created the original Beaufort county cemetery series. In the letter, he explained on how he choose these sites based upon their public access locations and their historical value, and that he never had intended the series to be disrepectful in any way. His letter contained logs from Geocachers who had encountered local residents during their cache hunts, and in all cases but one the contact between Geocachers and local residents was friendly. The letter ended with an apology for any tension that might have been caused by the placement of these caches. Our speaker acknowledged the damning photographs and condemned the actions of those who appeared in them. He thanked the committee for allowing him to speak and took his seat. The next two persons to speak where from Beaufort county or nearby areas. They were caretakers of cemeteries and other historic sites in the area, and they spoke out in support of this Bill. There was time for one more speaker, and I spoke. I stated that I had prepared remarks last night and I was fully prepared to talk about the educational benefits of Geocaching and to even mention the responsible Geocachers across the state, but instead I wanted to acknowledge how ugly and indefensible those pictures were. I talked about the Geocachers in the state, the retired missionary and other clergymen, the policemen, the firefighters and paramedics and others. And I said that all these folks would be as appalled to see this evidence as I was. I thanked the chairman for letting me speak, and I took my seat. The chairman then spoke and acknowledged that since there were so many visitors who had not spoken, that this topic would be continued next week, and it would be the first item on the agenda. For what it's worth, they had 8 more folks who could have spoken, we had 2 more who were prepared to speak. I've tried to record these observations as accurately as possible without spinning. We were definitely caught off guard by how organized the supporters of this legislation were, as well as being caught off guard by all the evidence that we gave them freely through the website. The frustration in their voices seemed genuine. Given the evidence presented to us and the mood of the room, yesterday was not the time or place deliver the positions that we had intended. It was better yesterday to acknowledge how embarrassing the evidence was, and to pledge to work to stop that behavior. I've typed parts of this hurriedly because I'm running late for an evening engagement. If I've been unclear, please let me know and I'll try and clarify. I plan on being at the second meeting next week, and I hope that we will be able to act from a stronger position at time. I will post the entire poster boards as they are made available to me, as quickly as possible.
  23. Maybe this is the solution. Make it a members only virtual so the site gets revenue. On a more serious note, I would approve this. Maybe its because I've always lived in a land locked city, but Lighthouses have always had a Wow factor for me. Since a real cache cannot be placed within a reasonable distance, this would seem an ideal time to apply the guidelines and list this virtual. For the purposes of furthering this discussion, the guideline which speaks of the "Wow" factor and also speaks of the "coffee table book" phenomenon is contradictory and can be used to rule out any virtual. Here are examples: In Bowman South Carolina there is a gentleman who has built a 3 story flying saucer in his front lawn (GCD7ED). Wow factor: you bet Ever seen a coffee table book on this unique phenomenon: no Southeast of Ely Nevada there is an abaondoned jalopy in an desert scrube field. Someone has used copper wire to force a horse skeleton to sit up in a way that it appers to be driving this car (GC1679, now archived). Wow factor: in a morbid way, yes Ever seen a coffee table book on this one of a kind oddity: no Lighthouses, historic variety, only appearing along coastlines Wow factor: depends on how many you've seen Ever seen a coffee table book: yes The subcontinent of Greenland Wow factor: hard to say, it's a pretty big place Coffee table books available: yes, I own one Any phenomenon large enough to be worthy of a coffee table book is probably too large to have a Wow factor for some folks, and a great many unique items which have a one of a kind Wow factor would never appear in coffee table books. These rules seemed designed to eliminate every virtual cache. For some folks, mtn-man is right; A lighthouse is a lighthouse, a presidential memorial is a presidential memorial, a veterans monument is a veterans monument, a mission in San Antonio is a mission in San Antonio, and these things will never have a Wow factor although coffee table books may exist. To others of us, the Wow factor is there. My vote is for approval.
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