Friday, October 26, 2007

Geocaching Update: DNF

So, a couple of weekends ago I went out and looked for some geocaches while waiting for my car stereo installation appointment. First, I looked for one in the woods of Crofton Park. After 20 or so minutes of poking around with no luck, I gave up. Then I headed north to the Odenton Nature Area. I had a nice walk along a trail I didn't know existed, but again, zippo. Nothing there. (That I could see.) Both caches had a difficulty two, meaning, "The average cache hunter would be able to find this in less than 30 minutes of hunting." I guess I haven't made it up to average cacher yet.

When I got home, I posted DNF (did not find) logs for both of these. In the past, I've mostly avoiding these -- a lot of times, I feel like I didn't give sufficient effort to merit the comment. But if a number of people post DNF logs, it tells the owner that maybe the cache has gone missing.

I didn't expect anybody to assume it was missing on my say-so. My 20-something number of caches found marks me as clearly below-average in experience. Still, the guy in Odenton went out and double-checked that his cache was still there (it was). In Crofton, a few people have since found that one. Still, it's not always my lack of geocache-spotting savvy. In Bristol, I looked for one that I'm pretty sure was attached to fishing line in the harbor. I found fishing line, but nothing attached. Sure enough, the next day, it was disabled.

Last weekend saw better luck. Christina and I did a cache that involved a walking tour of Solomons to find clues for the final coordinates. Later in the day, I convinced her to cross the bridge into St. Mary's County so I could add to my Maryland counties cached. That produced this new map (notice that Calvert county has now moved into the "2-9 caches" category):

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fifth Anniversary

Christina and I got back today from Solomons Island, where we celebrated our fifth anniversary. It was a nice two days (and a very nice five years)! Above, you can see a YouTube video of me eating crabs on Friday night. We hadn't had crabs in over a year, so I was a little bit out of practice. Still, we try to make it out for Maryland crabs at least once per year. We really caught the tail end of the season here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

New Car Stereo

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Somewhat uncharacteristically for me, I splurged this past weekend and got a new stereo installed in my 6-year-old Honda CR-V. The new stereo actually lacks a CD player, but since 99% of my listening is to my iPod these days (and the other 1% is to the radio), I didn't see that as a problem.

Previously, I had been using a low-power FM transmitter that plugged into what used to be called the cigarette lighter. Disadvantages:

  • Sound quality wasn't good, especially when real FM stations interfered.
  • It was easy to jostle the transmitter out of the power outlet, leading to an abrupt ear-splitting jolt of static while driving down the road.
  • Having to fiddle with the iPod controls while driving.
  • My iPod sat out for anybody who walks by to see.

This new stereo has none of these disadvantages...the iPod connects in the glove compartment and fires right up when I turn on the car. I can control the iPod with the stereo controls. The controls are iPod-like, but actually easier to use when driving. Instead of spinning a wheel, I click through the choices one-by-one. That's easier to do with your eyes on the road.

What really sold me was the display of the album art and the song title on the display. You can sorta see that in the picture's a lot harder to take a good picture of the stereo than I would have thought. (I'll let you guess how many songs I skipped through on the shuffle until I got one I wanted in the picture.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Geocaching Update: Finding Tupperware in the Woods

This time, in addition to posting some maps, I thought I'd talk a little bit about what I like about geocaching -- and what I don't. One thing I like is the fact that although it's a social hobby (it couldn't exist without a massive network of people), I have yet to meet another geocacher (other than Christina).

There are different types of caches. The type I tend to prefer involve, to paraphrase a T-shirt, finding Tupperware in the woods. I like to walk around a park or other natural, isolated location and find a geocaching container (possibly, in fact, made of Tupperware) hidden in a tree stump or under some rocks.

The type I don't usually like is, well, something like looking for film canisters in parking lots. When I was in California, I found one that was an Altoids tin which had been magnetized and attached to a piece of equipment in an office park. Whee, an office park. One of the closer ones to where I work is near the parking lot of the Bowie Target. I found its general location today. Other than the fact that I wasn't going to climb around looking for it in my work shoes, it had this "cache attribute":

Stealth required. While it may thrill some people to get to sneak around avoiding non-geocachers (or "muggles" as they're called), the last thing I want to do is have to explain to some mall rent-a-cop that no, I'm not really a terrorist, despite the fact that I'm using electronics to hide suspicious containers.

Fortunately, with a $30/year membership, I can create custom queries. A typical one ignores caches that are "micro" in size...which gets rid of most ones in heavily trafficked urban/suburban environments.

A cache in the wilds of Columbia last weekend brought my Maryland county count up to six:

Also, the coin I left in Vienna continued its trek across the Czech Republic,

while the coin I left in the UK moved an exciting 8.9 miles to the north...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Down on the Farm

I was getting maps ready for another geocaching post, when I realized that it would seem like all I have been doing is geocaching lately. So I decided to post about something else instead today.

Christina and I have been trying to eat more grass-fed beef, in the theory that it's healthier than the corn-fed beef. After all, whenever you see a drawing of a cow, what's it doing? It's in a pasture, eating grass. It's not in a pen, eating corn. After all, corn is a New World food, and cows are Old World. Additionally, it's better for the cow.

So last Saturday, I made a trip to Hedgeapple Farm, south of Frederick, Maryland. Right by the side of a major road, they have a little shop set up to sell various cuts of grass-fed beef. Unlike other farms in the "pasture-raised" family, you don't have to buy a quarter cow. We got some delicious ground beef and steaks there on a previous visit, so I went back.

Since I was in the area, I stopped by Jehovah-Jireh Farm, which has a more diverse selection. It's also in a more rustic location -- not only at the end of a minor road, but the little shop is at the end of a half-mile long driveway. I already had beef, but this place raises pastured chickens. I got a frozen chicken (haven't tried it yet), some eggs (even though they're available at My Organic Market in College Park) and some lamb chops. Sadly, they didn't have the ground lamb I was looking for -- maybe next month.