Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Group Photo

As part of my continued search for pictures of myself on the internet, please see this picture from Canada in May.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Waymarking Santa Barbara

Last year, I spent my free afternoon at this conference in Santa Barbara geocaching. This year, it was time for some waymarking. I was particularly interested in increasing my category count. Yesterday, I told you I was at 73; now it's 95. Here is an assortment of pictures from an afternoon of waymarking. Some are interesting; some are mundane -- like the waymarking categories. Annoyingly, some require me to put my GPS receiver in the picture in order to get credit. Enjoy.
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Tweet Tweet Tweet

I try to keep on top of various trends in the way people use the Internet and the web. I don't want to be the old guy wondering about this Wikipedia thing all the kids are using.

Partially for this reason, I set up a Twitter account. Twitter is similar to Blogger, but it limits you to 160 characters per post (or "tweet"). In fact, it was founded by one of the creators of Blogger. While it may seem strange to want to use a less-functional version of an existing tool, constraints can force users to be more creative.

I first became aware of Twitter through Slate's John Dickerson, who posts wry comments like, "The discovery of Big Foot's body has forced political insiders to reluctantly cross its name off the list of likely Vice Presidential picks." While I enjoy his work on Slate, some of his tweets are particularly funny.

I don't recommend my Twitter page to non-Twitter users, even if you find me interesting enough to read this blog...there's just not much there. But if you are using Twitter (or if this post intrigues you enough to start), go ahead and start "following" me -- maybe I'll return the favor.

(Technical note: if you use an RSS reader like Google Reader, you can also follow me here.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

LAX Blues


Yesterday, my flight got into LAX only 10 minutes late, which seemed to be a good omen. Sadly, when I went to collect my baggage, it did not arrive. After going through two broken baggage status machines, I found one which told me that my baggage was arriving on the next flight, an hour and a half later. This information did not make any sense -- I had checked in early for a direct flight -- why would my bags be on a later flight. I confirmed the location of my luggage with a baggage service agent, who could offer no explanation for what had happened.

With some time to kill before my luggage arrived, I decided to go for a walk. As I mentioned in my previous post, there is a Googie waymark at LAX that I was hoping to find. It was easy to cross the first set of traffic lanes, but for some reason traffic did not seem to want to stop for me on the second set of lanes. As I made it across, I saw that there was in fact a traffic signal and an associated "Don't Walk" sign that I was violated. Also seeing this fact was a cop, who came over and wrote me a jaywalking ticket. Sigh. I don't think I'll be able to pass that off on my expense report.

After returning to baggage claim and collecting my suitcase, I headed back across the easy set of traffic lanes to catch the Avis bus. As the bus was pulling away from the curb, it stopped. It seems the bus had hit a SmarteCarte and wedged it between the bus and curb. The bus driver would have to back up, and he asked me to dislodge the cart. I was happy to do so. Last week, at Dulles, Christina and I had been tricked by a SmarteCarte guy into giving up an unused carte. We saw it, and then he came up and pretended that it had been his. When we backed off, he immediately returned it. Christina stopped me from yelling at him, and a flight attendant stopped by to offer her sympathy.

After the Avis bus backed up, I hopped out, cell phone camera in hand, to dislodge the carte and record the damage for posterity. Unfortunately, the carte would not budge. I hopped back in, the bus driver backed up some more, and some good Samaritans deprived me of my photo op by removing the carte themselves.

After driving by the Googie waymark, I headed out on the 2-hour drive to Santa Barbara. I had missed the conference's opening reception, so I stopped off at El Pollo Loco. The one bright spot of the delay is that it allows me to claim the dinner per diem on my expense report. Since that's $29 and my dinner was $7, in the unlikely event that the jaywalking ticket is $22 or less, I really will be able to put it on my expense report. (In a sense.)
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Waymarking Bingo

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I've been doing more waymarking than geocaching lately. I have a couple of main motivations for this -- one, if I'm in an urban/suburban area, waymarking doesn't require me to dig around suspiciously. Two, if I have a choice of areas, I lean towards the area without ticks.

A secondary motivation, however, is waymarking bingo. For each category of waymarks (e.g., pyramids, sushi restaurants, "you are here" signs) that I log, I get an icon on my user page. Above, you can see rows 19-37 of my user page (the current page is here). As of this morning, I have 73 out of a possible 752 categories.

Some waymarkers have introduced the concept of "waymarking bingo", which they defined as 20 icons in a row, column or diagonal. Very few waymarkers have achieved this. I feel like I've been doing a lot of waymarking, and the best I have done is 4 in a row (row 33). It'll probably be a long time before I get a bingo. You might think row 33 is my most promising row, since I already have 4 in a row. But row 33 contains such tricky categories as Abandoned Air Force Radar Sites, Martello Towers and Holy Wells. There are 13 existing waymarks worldwide in the first category, 14 in the second, and 29 in the third. I don't expect to be in the neighborhood of them any time soon.

I can always wait for someone to create a more convenient waymark in one of these categories or even - gasp - do the research and create one myself. For categories like KFC and 7-11, that's easy...and then I get to put them on my "ignore" list, since I'm not really interested in seeing more than one. For the above categories, that could be a little trickier.

Truthfully, I'm more interested right now in filling out the grid as much as possible than in getting "bingo". It's interesting to hunt down the rarer icons. When I was at LAX last night, I noticed I was near an example of Googie architecture. Since there aren't any examples near home, I decided to find that one. It turned out to be the most expensive waymark find yet, but that's a tale for another post...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Round and Round


On my break from a conference in DC today, I walked to a virtual geocache that required me to walk a labyrinth carved into the ground and follow a very specific set of instructions.
Right as you enter the labyrinth, you'll notice the only place where the lines of the labyrinth cross. As you round the labyrinth, keep track of how many times you go past that point on the way to the center. (In other words, if there was a line drawn on the ground from that point to the southwest edge of the labyrinth, how many times would you cross that line on your journey to the center.)
I wasn't sure I followed the instructions correctly, so I took a picture, came home and re-traced my steps. (I had.)

Then I noticed that the cache "owner" -- who is the only one who could prevent me from logging the cache due to a wrong answer -- hasn't logged on in a year. So I didn't really need to do this. So it doesn't go to waste, I share it with you here.
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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Snorkeling La Jolla Cove


Yesterday, Christina, some co-workers and I went to La Jolla Cove to do some snorkeling. I took along the waterproof camera case Christina had gotten me for Christmas last year. It's really a neat device -- a complicated mechanical setup that gives you access to all of the camera's functions, while protecting the camera.

I assumed it would work, but I was a little nervous. I needn't have been -- it survived the snorkeling completely dry. I took a lot of bad pictures, and a couple that turned out well. When we got back, I figured out how to set the camera in "underwater" mode -- I'll have to remember that for next time.
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Friday, August 01, 2008



Since Christina is a very enthusiastic Elfquest fan, we went to the Elfquest panel, where the big news was the forthcoming Elfquest movie. They announced that it was going to be directed by the guy who did the Dodgeball movie. Sensing some potential skepticism from the fan base, they decided to meet it head on, with the above tounge-in-cheek graphic. The director's tales of reading the Elfquest stories as an 11-year-old did a better job of mollifying the crowd, however.
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