Geocaching: The state of the game from my view

May 18

As the warmer months approach, I’m going to be more apt to head out and geocache on free weekends and maybe even a few nights after work, if some local caches start popping up.

The winter was harsh.

It was so tough, in fact, that I didn’t even consider geocaching most of the time. It was either too cold or there was too much snow – or for several months – both. Back in the day, I’d have gone anyway. But as I’ve grown older, I’m more a fair-weather cacher. I love the game, but I also want to have fun doing it and not worry about how much longer I am doing it, which is often the case when out in frigid winter weather.

Between December and March, I found one cache – and that was an event in December. Work and weather and other items made it so I didn’t get out or think about caching much. As it’s gotten better out, I’ve tried to go more often. That will continuethis month as I attended the ASP Geobash this past Saturday and head off to GeoWoodstock this week (and using some vacation time, finally, for it).

It's still fun to get out and find those caches!

It’s still fun to get out and find those caches!

I actually had grand plans of making GeoWoodstock my 4,000th find, but I don’t see that happening. I need 118 and the event is Saturday.For the ASP Geobash weekend, I ended with 20 finds. There were grandeur thoughts of a 40 or 50 cache day, but with a slightly late start and things taking longer than expected… as well as some humidity and such, well, just didn’t happen. There will be plans to do a lot of geocaches on Thursday and Friday this week, but I’m not sure I’ll get that 118 before the big event. I’ll make a push, but we’ll see.

If I had been even somewhat active with caching this past winter, I probably would have no issues making this my 4,000th find. So it’s my fault if it doesn’t happen, but we will see how it all goes.

As the weather has started to bloom, however, I figured it was a good time to look at how the game seems to be overall. I’ve had a few odd logs on my caches recently that made me think about the game. I’ve also listened to a few geocaching podcasts that have touched on some interesting topics, so I wanted to chime in as well.

With that in mind, here’s my look at the Geocaching State of the Game Address

GROWING

Geocaching, whether you call it a game or a hobby or something else (I refuse to call it a sport as some others do – it’s not. There’s no competition and no winners… it’s purely a recreational thing), is still growing. With technology constantly changing, more and more people sign up to play.

Heck, just take a look at other geocaching listing sites. Though geocaching.com is still the main one, others are popping up and giving people options. And that’s a good thing. No business should be able to monopolize the market. I will admit I haven’t really checked the others much, but I will likely look into it a bit more.

That being said, geocaching.com is the biggest and more active listing site. The site boasts more than 2.6 million active caches worldwide and more than 6 million geocachers worldwide.

The game is healthy, or so it seems.

I’d be more interested to find out some information about those 6 million geocachers though. I’d be willing to bet that at least half of them haven’t found 25 geocaches. I’d say at least half probably aren’t all that active, either.

That can sometimes hurt.

With the growth of the game, there come some pains – for example, the geocaching app for smartphones. When I first started caching, I needed to get a GPS unit (for the record, I still own and use said unit and I started in 2008) to play the game. Now, somebody just has to download an app and they are off and running.

When I started, at the end of your day (or whenever soon after), you sat down at the computer and logged your caches (I still do it this way) and usually put some thought into your logs. Now, you can do it on the fly via the app and you can even just do a “log it” without writing any comment (that should be fixed. Force people to type something).

To say the game has changed would be an understatement.

Don’t get me wrong, I like this growth. In fact, when I travel, I’ll often pull out the phone and find a nearby cache to try and find. It makes it a lot easier to cache on the fly, which is nice. That being said, the app can also be a bad thing. Why? Well, people join, find a few caches and disappear. Worse than that, they’ll sometimes place a cache or two (usually nothing great), leave the game and then the cache becomes trash.

So it’s much easier to play, that’s for sure. But sometimes, I wonder if that’s a good thing.

The growth has seemed to go backward in my area. New caches don’t pop up too often. I have a boat load of containers ready to go, but I need to find spots to put them all out.  I have a couple of ideas and hopeful plans once I can get out and do it.

WHAT TO LOG

Speaking of all the new people and such (and even some veteran cachers), it seems like it’s becoming the thing to post needs maintenance or needs archived when you can’t find a cache, instead of the old fashioned DNF.

I realize there’s no actual “rule” as to certain logs, but I have my own way of looking at things.

If I don’t find a cache, I DNF it. Simple as that.

If I look for a cache that has a bunch of DNFs and I can’t find it, I might log a “needs maintenance” because it might be gone. I also use this selection if I find the cache and it’s in bad shape.

In the rare instances I use the “needs archived” selection, it’s usually because the cache is in awful shape and the owner hasn’t been seen in a long time, or if there are many other DNFs or needs maintenance logs and nobody seems to be doing something about it.

But goodness knows I don’t use those last two options if the cache has been being found and I just can’t find it.

It seems like that’s the new thing as I’ve received a few of these logs from people with fewer than 10 finds. I’ve also seen it on caches I am looking to search for and it makes me shake my head.

The simple fact? Just because you can’t find it doesn’t mean it needs maintenance or should be archived.

If you are newer, keep that in mind when logging. Reach out to the owner. Reach out to others. Geocachers, for the most part, are friendly and helpful. Become part of our community and learn from people who have been doing it for a long time.

Another tip – when placing your first few caches, test those coordinates. Phones aren’t always that accurate, so make sure you have the coords you need.

ATTITUDES

One thing that still seems to be good, for the most part, is the attitude of those playing the game. It’s not like I haven’t seen some petty stuff (and heck, in the past, I’ve been involved with it – haven’t we all?), but for the most part it seems OK.

I’ve made an attempt to wash slates clean over the past year or two and take the game for what it’s worth and it’s made it much better. I don’t worry about some of the things I’ve heard in my area and beyond – whether it’s not liking somebody for the way they cache, or ignoring somebody hides because of what you’ve heard, or simply avoiding things because people are there – I’ve decided it’s not worth it.

Pennsylvania's first -- placed in September 2000.

Pennsylvania’s first — placed in September 2000.

Life’s too short.

I’ve made a lot of friends through this game. I enjoy talking to other people. I love traveling to different places, many of which I may have never seen were it not for geocaching. I’ve made contact with people when traveling to different parts of the country and the world to meet up and cache with somebody (it’s always more fun to cache with somebody than by myself, I think anyway).

But, the attitude isn’t always positive. I’ve also met grumpy people who find everything to be wrong with the hobby. And, I’m sure, I have been grumpy in the past. But in the present, I take it all for what it’s worth. I have fun. I talk to people. I smile. And why? Because it’s not worth getting upset over.

At this point of my geocaching life, when something feels like it’s going to irk me, I walk away from it. Easy as can be!

As I look back at my seven years of geocaching (which, to me, is a long time … but the hobby is in its 15th year!), I’ve seen a lot of things that have helped me come to some conclusions about the game.

  1. Some take it really seriously

And when I say seriously, I mean seriously. I’ve met people who get visibly angry over, say, not being FTF. Some will get really competitive about the numbers. Personally, I like numbers and such, but it’s because I’m a baseball nut and love statistics and the programs. But I don’t care where I’m ranked or where I’m stacked up against other cachers. Why?

And this next thought isn’t something that’s across the board, but something I’m curious about. I’ve talked to several people who are extremely competitive or call this game a “sport.” I grew up playing sports and still play competitive softball. So, to me, geocaching is relaxing. I’ve talked to many on the opposite end and the majority of them didn’t compete in sports growing up or in high school etc. I wonder if there’s a connection there as to who pushes and who doesn’t when it comes to competitiveness?

  1. Change happens

The reality is, the game is controlled by the listing sites. Though they may all listen to the community, in the end, they make the decisions. So when they make changes, it’s what they might think is best for the game and/or their business. Often, the changes are met with outrage.

As for me? I try and go with the flow. I can’t say I’ve always agreed with changes at geocaching.com, but I also realize they are a business and they have to do what they feel is best for them as well as the community. As the game continues to grow, more changes will happen. May as well deal with it, right?

  1. What’s a 3 to me is a 1 to somebody else is a 5 to another person

Though I often look at terrain and difficulty, I realize people think of ratings in a much different light. Though there’s a tool to use to be able to help with it, not everybody uses it or agrees with it. So it’s a good starting point, but sometimes it might be a different thought process, so keep that in mind.

  1. All types are fun

Though I’d rather not have a day full of lamp post caches and guardrail finds, I have no issues overall with them. I’ve gotten to the point where I enjoy all of the geocaches I find (besides those that are in bad shape and not being taken care of), and they all have their place. So, sign the log and move on.

Too often, I’ll see negative posts that call people out and things like that and it makes me shake my head. That is why it’s better to contact people privately, so utilize it. There’s no need to be negative and make somebody feel or look bad.

Positive energy is a good thing.

Now, I will say one thing, though. The only time I feel all types aren’t fun is when there’s an opportunity to place something bigger and a small container is placed instead. I don’t even care if it’s a soda preform (to be honest, they are some of my favorite containers, so I have no issue with them anywhere), but  go up a size from a nano or a small bison, or a small plastic tube. Sometimes, you just can’t, and I get that. But when there are many other places to hide something, try and come up with something a bit more.

Either way, I’ll sign and smile!

  1. I like what it does for me

Geocaching gets me out and about. I’ve met friends that I never would have known, if not for this hobby. I have a few podcasts I listen to about the game and never would have found those if not foe being involved. I enjoy events, creative hides, and easy grabs. I like a good hike, or taking me to an interesting place I never knew about. I like the people or the solitude this game can give.

It’s been a great thing for me and I hope it continues.

THE STATE OF THE GAME

Geocaching is strong right now. More and more people seem to know about the game, and that’s a good thing. I plan on caching as much as I can this summer and hopefully be able to meet more people, swap stories and cache with friends as much as possible.

I’m planning at least 4-5 weekends around geocaching, with two (GeoWoodstock and the Block Party in August) being longer and more in-depth. I look forward to seeing new places this summer, finding some great caches and enjoying being outside.

I’m excited for future milestones and trading pathtags and being involved as much as I can. Maybe I’ll make some old connections or find some new ones.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog@gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Snapshot Saturday: May 9

May 09

Another blast from the past!

And from the present…

Not that there was ever a doubt… but… there shouldn’t be for sure now!

Father and son

Father and son

Enjoy!

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Snapshot Saturday: May 2

May 02

Another blast from the past!

Look at this happy couple on their wedding day!

Look at the tux!

Look at the tux!

Enjoy!

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Photo Blogging Challenge: May 2015’s theme is …

May 01

May 2015

What a great month we had in April.

And all despite having some snow still. Can you imagine? Argh!

Alas, it seems like we’ve turned the corner. The sun has been out more. Temperatures, especially during the day, have been rising. And it is starting to feel like winter is finally leaving. Who knows how long of a spring we’ll have. Before we know it, it will be hot all the time!

Either way, it’s a new month — and, thus, a new theme for the challenge.

But first…

Allow me a moment to get on a quick soap box (and this goes for me, too!) — visiting others. One thing I’ve loved is watching the Photo Blogging Challenge grow. I know some people have come from the WordPress blogging class thing (as we’re linked up there) or others found it different ways. But one thing I love about this challenge is the community feel. It’s not just a linkup, it’s a way to talk and interact with people.

So don’t forget to go back and visit some blogs, drop a note etc. I only got through about half last month — and I will go back and finish — because work has been crazy. But usually, I wait until the linkup closes and then go hit everybody. I love seeing what people have done. But what’s disappointing is when there are 10-20 links in the linkup, and people only have 4-5 comments. I know that not everybody is in it for that, but let’s make a community out of this.

Build the whole experience here — see what others have done. Come back, see those who linked later than you. Go visit them, drop a note, and interact. That’s what this is all about — having fun and interacting and such. Experience all sides of this. Some people’s blogs are awesome well beyond the challenge posts!

Anyway… off the soap box.

The theme is below. But before we get to that … let me remind you of some important items:

  • I set up a Facebook group for those who are interested. Reminders and maybe some discussions or other things can be done there.
  • If you haven’t already, attempt to check out everybody’s posts and consider commenting. These challenges are great for personal growth, but it’s also nice to be interactive with all the others in the challenge! That’s one of the best parts of this challenge — interacting and seeing other people’s work!

Before we hit up this month’s theme, for new people, allow me to refresh the rules a bit.

Here’s how it will work.

  • On the first of each month (or close to it), I’ll have a blog post here with the theme for the month.
  • Over the course of the month, participants will take photos with their interpretation of the theme. On the last day of the month (or close to it), participants should  publish their blog post, which will include five photos from the month. (please don’t recycle photos from the past … the idea is to hopefully challenge you to go out and take new photos each month to interpret the theme). And please only use photos you took.
  • I’ll have a link-up thing at the end of my post so people can come and post the links to their posts so, hopefully, everybody can go go check out and comment on other posts.

There is no rule on equipment or anything. Use a cell phone. Use film. Use a point-and-shoot. Use a DSLR. It doesn’t matter. Just make sure you publish your blog post on the last day of each month, come here and link up.

It’s simple!

Your blog posts can be as simple or as in-depth as you want. I’ll likely talk a little about each photo. But if all you want to do is post photos, feel free. The idea of this is to give a small challenge and give everybody a chance to express themselves with photography, participate in a challenge and have something to blog about.

That’s it. Easy, right? So join in! Help us continue to grow this challenge by telling fellow bloggers/photographers about the challenge and hopefully it can become a great monthly thing!

For those still with me, this month’s theme is: Spring. I’m thinking this will be an easier one for the month and hopefully one you all can have a lot of fun with.

Let’s see what you have for this one! And let’s see if we can get some others interested in joining us! Pass along the word!

Please make sure your blog post publishes Sunday, May 31. Then come back here and link up.

If you think you are going to take part in this, drop a comment below so we can see who all might be trying to tackle this challenge!

History of the challenge (past month’s themes – links to see everybody else’s posts are at the end of the linked post):

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog@gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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PB Challenge (April 2015): Friends and Family

Apr 30

I am looking forward to seeing what everybody does with this one.

Did you go more traditional (I did)? Think outside the box? Something else? More friends? More family?

Anybody who has been a part of this challenge for a while had to know the direction I was going … my nephew/godson Cameron was going to be a massive part of this one.

And so he is.

I can’t lie though — there’s a bonus photo at the end. The first five are my “picks” for the month, and the sixth is a bonus as it’s a shot of all the nieces/nephews at Easter.

Anyway, without further adieu… here are my five!

1. Dinner time

Easter dinner and Cam was getting the food on. That weekend, I had rented a fisheye lens, so a few images in this set are with that lens.

Mmmm... nom nom nom.

Mmmm… nom nom nom.

2. What you got?

Cameron was a tad interested in the camera as I took shots of him. And how about Cam rocking the bow tie?

Hello there.

Hello there.

3. In control

When Cam got hold of the remote, there was no telling what was going to happen.

What's on TV?

What’s on TV?

4. Cotton candy

And here’s Cam with his first taste of cotton candy. He didn’t have a ton of it, but he sure seemed to enjoy what he did have.

Cotton candy!

Cotton candy!

5. Laughing

Is there anything better than a child’s laughter?

All smiles!

All smiles!

Bonus! 

All the young’uns at Easter.

Smiling away!

Smiling away!

That’s my five and now it’s your turn!

If you took part in this month’s challenge, make sure to link up below. And for those of you who participated, make sure you try and get to other people’s blogs and comment (here, too!). Let’s continue to grow this challenge and have a strong community. Come back and check out the others who link later on, too!

Also, don’t forget to get back here tomorrow, May 1, to see the theme for May!

NOTE: I set up a Facebook group for those who participate in the challenge and are interested. I’ll post any announcements there and hopefully it can be a place where things are discussed and some interaction etc. You can access it here.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog@gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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It’s time to plan to attend a block party!

Apr 27

Every hobby or sport has a mecca, of sorts.

If you’re a baseball fan, for example, Cooperstown is the ultimate baseball destination with the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

In golf, it’s Augusta and the Masters.

In board gaming (at least in my short time in the hobby), it’s either GenCon or Internationale Spieltage SPIEL — or as it’s affectionately known, Essen.

And in Geocaching — it’s Seattle (and a couple of spots you can get to from Seattle).

Groundspeak, the owners of geocaching.com and the biggest company in regard to the hobby, is located in Seattle. HQ, as it’s known, is a place people can visit, so it’s a rather large destination spot for geocachers.

I’ve been a geocacher since 2008, and it’s a place I’ve always wanted to go. If not just because it’s the “place” where geocaching happens, in regard to the game through geocaching.com.

That trip, though I’ve had talks with several people about doing it, has never happened. Summers are always busy, and then add in a span of 2 1/2 years where I was unemployed, and it just never worked out.

That’s going to change this summer.

Three of us have decided to make the trek for the final Block Party, an event that happens outside of HQ. It has looked like it’s a lot of fun and, earlier this year, Groundspeak announced it would be the final Block Party. Sure, something will replace it, but this is the final Block Party.

Now was the time.

After figuring everything out and pricing it out, we decided that this was a possible trip. Flights are better to order now, that’s for sure, and my plan is to order mine this week.

Hotels are already reserved.

Soon, I’ll start my work with Priceline to get a rental car for the time out there.

Then, of course, comes the work for the geocaching aspect of the trip. We’re going to hit some historic caches, and some fun ones as well. I’m sure there will be some great views. I’m looking forward to the events that are going on during this timeframe, including the Block Party, the International Geocaching Film Festival, the event near the old APE cache, and the meet-and-greet with some Groundspeak employees. Between now and then, it wouldn’t even shock me to see another one or two pop up.

I have a few more fun things planned this summer — from softball, to a few geocaching (mainly day) trips, and some baseball, too. Hopefully I’ll even get to play a few rounds of disc golf.

But this trip is really at the top.

Unfortunately, the Mariners are on the road during the time I’ll be out there, so no chance to see them. But on the final night of being there, I’m going to check out a minor league game.

I look forward to all the planning and discussion with the others to see what kind of caches and what we will be doing. Looking for places to eat and other little things will be a lot of fun, too.

And, of course, we know it will move fast. It’s a little more than 100 days away, so time will go by. Though I can’t wait, it can take it’s time coming as there will be some fun things between now and then … and it gives me more time to save some coin!

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog@gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Fantasy Baseball: Four facts you should know

Apr 26

Full disclosure: This is a paid sponsored post with affiliate links.

You know baseball. And did you know Major League Baseball’s official historian, John Thorn, author of “Baseball in the Garden of Eden” has stated the honor of inventing the modern game of baseball belongs to Daniel Lucius Adams, Louis Fenn Wadsworth, and William Rufus Wheaten?

You also know fantasy baseball and which players to your roster.

The draft!

The draft!

But did you know that Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), an American author and poet, created a form of fantasy baseball when he was a child, and continued developing and playing the game for most of his life?

In addition to knowing how to play the game, what else do you know about fantasy baseball? Impress your friends with these facts about the history of fantasy baseball, the Rotisserie league, and the keeper league. Then go on to discus some of the funniest or most creative fantasy baseball team names.

History of Fantasy Baseball

Kerouac populated his fantasy baseball league with fictitious statistics and teams — the Pittsburgh Plymouths, New York Chevvies, Boston Grays, and Cincinnati Blacks. He also had made-up players such as Wino Love, Warby Pepper, Heinie Twiett, Phegus Cody, and Zagg Parker.

In 1961, IBM engineer John Burgeson wrote software for the IBM 1620 computer to simulate two teams playing each other. Strat-O-Matic, a company founded in 1961, sells a tabletop fantasy baseball game that replicates real statistics as accurately as possible. Players re-create past seasons and see the what happens with their own management decisions.

Rotisserie Baseball

Journalist Daniel Okrent, and other journalists, invented rotisserie-style baseball in 1980. Sometimes called “roto,” the name comes from the New York City restaurant La Rotisserie Française, where the originators first played the game.

This version of fantasy baseball, where players act as team managers, is more realistic in others in that it uses teams of current Major League Baseball players. Therefore, it simulates real the real decisions needed by managers to make predictions about the performances of their players for the current season.

Keeper Leagues

This method involved rolling over into succeeding years of your fantasy seasons. Keeper leagues allow the game players, or managers, to keep the players they want on their roster from the previous season, as well as having a fantasy draft to acquire new players.

There are variations in rules for different types of keeper leagues. In a salary cap league, an auction process or the player’s real salary will determine the fantasy salary. Another variation is the draft round values system, where a table indexed by the draft round and the player’s selection order determines the value of the player.

If playing in a fantasy league that goes on for years isn’t your thing, you can join a daily league like FanDuel. RotoGrinders.com has your back with FanDuel specials, along with advice to better your fantasy game.

Fantasy team names

Each year, fantasy baseball owners have several important tasks — winning the league is the main one. But the second? Having that clever name.

Giancarlo Ferrari-King, a featured columnist on the Bleacher Report, has compiled his list of his favorite names for the 2015 season. One of his best is The Balking Dead, a combination of a baseball “oops” and a take-off of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Not only that, it has a great acronym — TBD. If you can’t think of a clever team name of your own, visit Team Names, a website featuring a random team name generator.

Have fun selecting your players, thinking of a clever name, and keeping your stress level down. May the best team win!

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