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Why Is All the Swag Crap? April 28, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in For the Newbies, Forums, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, In the News/Blogosphere.
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An interesting question has been put to the forums by a new Geocacher:  “What’s the deal with degenerating swag?“.  The responses are right on the money and I think I am in agreement with the masses.  The quality of Geocaching swag is directly related to three things:

  • Difficulty
  • Terrain+Length of approach to GZ
  • Private versus Public cache listing

I’m no Edward Tufte but I think it can be charted:

Geocaching SWAG Quality Factors

Geocaching SWAG Quality Factors

I think the single most important factor in maintaining high quality SWAG is distance from parking.  This of course limits the number of visits to a given Geocache, but it also touches on another fun bit in the thread, the interesting article links:

Most urban / suburban caches go through cache swag degeneration rather quickly. Any cache, easily accessible to all geocachers experiences the “The Tragedy of the Commons.”

One of my all-time favorite essays. I first read it about 35 years ago and was blown away, and still consider it one of the important guides to life. Thanks for posting about it. The original is here.

And the analogy fits perfectly.  I don’t trade SWAG myself, but people tend to get their greed turned on pretty quickly when nobody is looking.  Caches that are only visited infrequently have much higher visibility to each individual visitor (and therefore have a higher shame factor for not contributing).

Enough philosophy.  On to work!


Groundspeak Has Been Busy April 27, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Geocaching.
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The latest release notes for Geocaching.com have a few doozies in there.  Say goodbye to Google Earth’s KML.

More Geocaching Bomb Scare Nonsense April 27, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, In the News/Blogosphere.
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A thread got started in January on the Geocaching forums,  Caches to Ashes and Ammo Cans to Dust, one that is right up my alley because things get asploded!

Sadly, it’s a Geocache that gets blown up in this picture.  This is a fairly complete discussion as it features logs by the cache owner, the fire department and local eyewitnesses.  It’s actually a great backgrounder for anyone thinking of laying down a cache in a sensitive urban area.  Sure, it’s two months old but I don’t read the forums as much as I’d like.

All that, and it keeps with the theme of my last post!  Enjoy


After I posted, I found a whole bevy of them up there

A search for “Bomb Scare” on the forums nets 7 pages of threads.  That’s quite the tally…

Follow-Up to a Questionable Hide April 27, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Cache Construction, Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching, Philosophy.
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About a month or two ago a new hide popped up in the area.  It was in a clearly marked “off limits” area but because other caches had been placed in the vicinity I believe the owner was under the impression a new placement would be just fine.  This is unfortunate as in my area we have seen “no trespassing” signs sprout up all around Geocaches.  No matter how off road a cache looks, development tends to encroach.  Such is life in Southern California.

A few folks piped up about this problem location and I was one of them, receiving a memo of irritation from the owner.  I responded rather verbosely and I thought the note important enough to share with you here.  I don’t plan on sharing the original memo from the hider unless that becomes necessary.  Let’s just say the owner was mildly upset with my position, which was “archive this cache”, and he/she was inclined to stop playing.  I respect his/her anger but don’t want the hider to give up on things.

My response, in 4 parts, was intended to help future hides and was a direct response to a comment by the owner concerning the  “I am your worst nightmare” section of my Geocaching profile.  All that, below the fold.  If you find it useful, please copy and use it in your own “counseling sessions”: (more…)

Map This Trail April 25, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Education, Events, Geocaching, In the News/Blogosphere, Recreation.
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If you load up Geocaching.com this morning you’ll see their new project with the Rails to Trails Conservancy.  If you missed the Groundspeak blurb on it, you can see it, here.

If you read up a little bit, you will see Groundspeak and Rails to Trails are seeking volunteers with a GPS to help map these trails.  I support this little “cause”  for a multitude of reasons, not least of which is that the process involves you, a GPS, and walking around.  That’s three simple things I can almost understand together. 😉

Seriously, though, the volunteer work is as simple as turning on the breadcrumbs feature for your GPS to record a track, then walk around on the trail and hit the “Mark” button when you see something interesting like a bathroom.  What’s more, there is a trail in San Diego County that needs help.  It is the San Diego Sea to Sea trail, stretching 140 miles from the coast to the Salton Sea.  But don’t let me monopolize the airwaves; from their site:

Our first area of focus is San Diego.  This branch is called the San Diego Trans County Trail.  It is also known as the San Diego Sea To Sea Trail.  The latter name is largely coincidental.  The two seas it connects are the Pacific Ocean in Del Mar, California and The Salton Sea, 140 miles inland.  This Trail crosses the Pacific Crest Trail, which extends from Mexico to Canada.


Our Current Focus:  Crossing San Diego County on the San Diego Sea To Sea Trail

This San Diego trail will pass gorgeous scenery that includes beach, coastal wetlands, mountains, lakes, streams, desert and an inland sea.  Such diversity within 140 miles makes it an exceptionally beautiful part of the national trail network.

Go to the site, take a look at the existing trail map, then note it still needs some handy folks with a GPS out there to map it for the rest of the world to use.  The cool bit here is the next phase, once the San Diego Sea to Sea Trail is done:

After completing the Sea To Sea Trail (Trans County Trail), the goal of the Sea To Sea Trail Foundation will be to create a network of interconnected trails crisscrossing the lower 48 states of the United States.  A person will be able to ride a bicycle, ride a horse or walk to every large or medium size town in the country.

Now I love my frequent flyer miles and freeway machines just as much as the next guy (ok, probably a lot more than the next guy) but this is just plain cool.  Hiking and biking trails to every densely populated town in the country?  I am freakin’ in!  Talk about a killer road trip, on foot!

If you’re planning a mapping or Geocaching hike on the San Diego Sea to Sea Trail, let me know. 

Some Fun Diversions April 20, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Geocaching.

Until I get back with more caching adventures:

  1. Warning, Math Inside!
    Four Dollars, Almost Five takes on The Monty Hall problem.  I love this problem and I admit freely that I did not fully appreciate the correct solution until just now (it’s one thing to know the right answer; quite another to viscerally “get it”.  He does a masterful job of explaining this counter intuitive probability challenge.  I’m stealing that graphic for one of my caches.  Come for the probability lecture, stay for the Casey Luskin debate.
  2. Warning, Science Inside! Ben Goldacre takes on some of the best hucksters in the business in his book Bad Science.  Try the lost chapter “The Doctor Will Sue You Now” on for size.
  3. Oh, Wait, ALL OF THESE ARE SCIENCY! If you were thinking this would be a super time to withhold vaccinations from your children because “too many too soon” or “gee, even Jim Carrey thinks we should hold off” or simply because your tinfoil hat of government conspiracy protection just wore off…please read the following:
    Bad Astronomy
    Steve Novella
    Yes, all of these folks can be followed on Twitter.
  4. This One’s Got Science AND Mockery! I remember when The Quackometer went down for a long time.  Now that she’s back up, enjoy.

Converse amongst yourselves now.  And don’t forget to give Pharyngula a spin.

On the Way Back April 20, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Geocaching.
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I’ve been out on vacation with the family and will be back to my drivel-spewing self shortly.  I will have a multi-part series on caching Hilton Head.  Suffice it to say the place is not as you  would expect.  All in a good way.

Ink Aplenty April 9, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Recreation.
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I was reading up on Badastronomy about Phil’s new commitment to some ink and it reminded me some of my colleagues were ribbing me about this Geocaching thing.  You know, that whole “killing yourself to sign a scrap of paper under a lamp post” hobby.  😉  It’s funny, actually, since my peers who have never been out laugh derisively while I’ve made more client and employee muggle converts than I can count.

All I did was take them out at lunch time for a quick find.  Hooked.  I love that.

But I digress.  My colleagues have been ribbing me, sending pictures of a Geocaching tattoo they are sure I am in line to receive.  I finally figured out where they got it: the Geocaching.com TATTOO FORUM! Who the heck knew such a thing existed?

Well, besides Google.

On the Road Again April 7, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Geocaching.

And this time I might be able to avenge my failure to execute while in NY State last time. No smileys yet for me in that state.

This is just a distance padding run, though. I’ll be working 12-hour days, venture out for a walk and a signature, then fly back home to San Diego for a quick local find on Friday while I have the chance…followed by a departure to South Carolina Saturday for more caching, golfing, and general mayhem with the kids. I’m gonna rack up about 10,000 miles in just 2 weeks.

Crazy stuff. But I will be blogging on vacation, so stay tuned. I think it might be time to trot out some good how-to material to prep for summer.

I Need Geocaching Advice April 2, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Geocaching, Philosophy.
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Before you say “Duh!” (I’m looking at you, Doug) I must say I’m serious.  I really need help.

It’s the new “Virtual Caching” phenomenon that has taken hold.  Some people call it “Armchair Caching“, but what I am talking about is taking it to new heights of absurdity.  I mentioned it briefly in my post about log checking.  There are a number of Geocacher(s) in the area who have logged dozens if not hundreds of finds on Geocaching.com that simply never happened.  The finds are provably impossible to have logged, ranging the following scenarios:

  • Caches that were home for maintenance for weeks before and after the find was logged
  • Caches that were completely destroyed months before the find was logged
  • Caches logged from multiple continents on the same day
  • Puzzles and multi-caches whose solutions were impossible to obtain due to errata or missing waypoints
  • Caches that were clearly archived
  • Caches both archived and located in areas clearly off-limits or inaccessible
  • “I was standing here all day and nobody came by” situations

Other than deleting the logs, what can one do?  I have explained the problems with this behavior in my log checking post and I need a solution.  Well, I WANT a solution, mainly because it degrades the quality of caches.  I couldn’t care less about the cachers’ find counts or “cheating”.

Any ideas?  Comment away…

Don’t Forget the Poll April 1, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Geocaching.

I get like 1 reader per day, mainly because it takes Calipers 3 or 4 tries to master the big words.  At least he keeps the traffic from bottoming out at 0.

Regardless, I posted this poll not too long ago.  It asked what kinds of posts would be most interesting to everyone in the Geocaching blogosphere.  I am changing the strategy here because the science of voting on matters is just so solid.  😉  I’ve added the same poll here, below, and you should now see the results.  At the risk of having a PZ Myers style poll crash it’s still open.

As of right now, everyone seems to want to know what dougandsuzy’s secret is.  I know it.  I won’t hesitate to turn him in.  Click away.

Fun Geocaching Stuff Around the Web April 1, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Blogroll, For the Newbies, Geocaching, In the News/Blogosphere, Recreation.
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I had 10 minutes so I took it.  Google can be fun!

  • Just what do you think this guy is after?
  • And it must have been a slow news day when they quote the “ardent” Geocacher of 70 finds in a year.  Must be all terrain-5 caches.  I do like the boy scout reference, tho.  Sorta.
  • Now I’m finding Geocaching blogs everywhere.  I need to read up on my outdoor wear more.  Check it. I dig a caching adventure in the rain.
  • And if you’re in the Boise Idaho area on a caching run, reach out to Tiggerz Travels.  Tiggerz’s first find was a dougandsuzy special (peanut butter jar).  Surely we can help find something a little more interesting for the next hunt!

That’s all you get for 10 minutes of research.  Back to work.  😉