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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Photo Blogging Challenge: October 2013’s theme is…

Oct 02

Hey, it’s photo challenge time again!

I hope others are enjoying this monthly challenge as much as I have. I would love to see us grow a little bit, so feel free to let others know about this and hopefully we can pull a few more people into it. In the end, it’s not too difficult — take the theme, interpret it, take five posts, do a blog post and link up here.

Simple!

So, onward and upward.

The summer is gone. The fall is here (for many). The colors are changing. Football, crisp air — everything beautiful about this season.

Before you even get to the theme, I’m sure you have a clue where this is going. But here’s the beauty, by taking just the word, there are so many ways to interpret the theme. Please just remember to use photos you’ve taken this month, not past shots. That defeats the purpose of the challenge. Have fun with it!

And spread the word!

Remember, too, if you haven’t posted a link for your September challenge, there’s still some time.

As a reminder of a few things, let me copy and paste this from last month:

  • I have an e-mail reminder list set up. Basically, I’ll e-mail the group with about 10 days left in the month to remind you. When I remember, I’ll also shoot one out the day before the end of the month, as a reminder to post the following day. I can’t always guarantee that one though! If you are not on the list, let me know in the comments below that you would like to be on it.
  • Second, 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!

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, 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, 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: Fall.

I’m pretty sure most people who have participated are in the fall months — and if you’re not, well, insert your season here! Or, totally go in a different direction — which is why I used “fall” instead of “autumn.”

Please make sure your blog post publishes Wednesday, Oct. 30 (I am going a day before the end of the month as I figure some people do Halloween-related posts on the 31st I’ll post the new theme on the 31st or Nov. 1st)

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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Cleansing the mind and body with a day of geocaching

Sep 23

Nature really can be medication for the mind and body.

Being stressed recently with the job situation, I needed to get out. Last weekend, I had the chance to meet up with a friend, Tavis, and head out on a day-long geocaching excursion.

It’s always fun to find a geocache out in the woods.

This went beyond regular old geocaching, though. Let me re-phrase that — it went beyond a power day of caching where the majority of caches found are park-and-grabs.

It was going to be some hiking, which is good as well because I haven’t been as active as I should be since my summer gig ended. Though my weight has remained about the same, I needed to get some activity going as I want it to keep going down, not staying status quo. The plan was to conquer Mine Kill State Park, which had a whole heap of caches among their trail system.

Turns out, this is what my mind and body needed. Though, I will say, my feet were killing me at the end of the day. That’s not just from the walking, though, it’s also from the terrain and because some of the trails were quite soupy and I didn’t have waterproof shoes on!

Anyway, back to the post at hand.

With everything going on in my world, my mind had made my stress level go through the roof. Seriously, for those of you who have battled a long bout of unemployment and such and understand, the stress level is through the roof.

So sometimes you need to find a way to ignore it all. Geocaching is the perfect hobby for that.

(For those who don’t know about geocaching and want to learn more, I’ve done a 101 series on the blog. Click the part you’d like to read: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

A place to sit and look at the lower falls at Mine Kill State Park.

The day started out with a quick grab along the way and then we went to the first part of Mine Kill, the falls. There are trails leading to the bottom, so you can see that part of the falls.

After hiking down to the bottom part, it was back up top to the viewing spot for the upper falls. Two caches were in this part of the park. We then headed into the main part of the park where another 13 caches awaited us, and then two more at the connected power authority.

Heck, that’s a day all on its own!

The trail systems in Mine Kill are quite nice. There’s some terrain and most of the geocaches were pretty easy to find, once you got to the area. We saw some wild trees, some great nature and some cool places.

Just what geocaching should be.

The caches in the park took a few hours, but it was a perfect day for it. The sun was out for much of the day, but it had a little feel of fall. Therefore, part of the day required a sweatshirt, which was nice because that meant it wasn’t too hot to hike.

The day was filled with a ton of great caches.

We even stopped at one point to make some lunch and enjoy just being outside. The views through much of the park at Mine Kill is quite beautiful.

I’ve been to this park a couple of times before, but mainly for the falls. It was nice to get out and explore the park a bit, take some photos and see different parts.

We had originally also planned on hiking up to Vroman’s Nose, but with a full day of hiking already under our belts, it was decided that was better saved for another day. Instead, we then focused on a few shorter hikes in smaller town parks and a bunch of park-and-grab caches to finish off the day.

Of those local parks, one ended up being on a trail that was pretty overgrown. To make it easier coming out, we actually walked our way through a cornfield. Now that was interesting.

How’s that corn?

One of the caches we found was a memorial for Old Blenheim Bridge, an historical covered bridge that was washed away when Irene came through a few years ago. It’s sad to see that spot as it is now as it was one of my favorite covered bridges in New York.

Toward the end of the day, we hit up a small town park, where there was a multi and a letterbox hybrid. We found both, but there must have been some festival earlier in the day as there were still people milling around. There was also some tug-of-war competitions going on.

In the end, it turned out to be one heck of a day as I ended with 35 finds (Tavis had one or two more as we found a couple I had previously found), so not bad at all.

And it was good because my mind wandered for the entire day and that was something I needed.

Here are a few more photos from that day:

Colorful nature.

Signing the log.

Found — without trespassing!

Sign we saw at a fishing access. Looked old school.

Sign in Mine Kill State Park. Looked like an old wanted poster.

The lower falls at Mine Kill.

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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Geocaching can be a way to forget about life for a while

Jan 30

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about geocaching.

And that’s probably because I haven’t been doing it much. With all the other things going on in life, I haven’t really been out finding things. Part has been the weather — I’ve definitely turned into more of a fair-weather geocacher — and it’s also part because there’s not much locally I haven’t found. It makes no sense to waste gas money to travel 40 or more miles to get a micro.

Caching in the winter can make for some interesting ways to make a find.

So, I try and budget time for a few caches whenever I go somewhere.

As long as all goes well, that will change this weekend. Me and a few friends are going to do an old-fashioned geocaching day. It will include 20 or so caches (as long as all goes well) and an event. We’ll leave early enough to cache before the event and leave with time to hit a few more on the way home and make a fun day of catching up and caching.

I miss days like that, so hopefully it will be good to do.

The reality is, my mind has been pretty much wondering about employment. That’s why I try and mix things up, whether it be blogging, caching, the new homebrewing obsession, photography or something else. The mind needs to wander. Life isn’t grand right now, that’s for sure. But as long as I can keep my sanity, I’ll hopefully get through all of this.

Geocaching is one of those activities that help make you forget about life for a while. You get out, get a little exercise, enjoy nature and find some plastic boxes in the woods, or whatever else has been hidden.

The event is one I’ve wanted to attempt for a couple of years. In its third year, it’s held on a frozen lake. They fish, they grill, they play croquet (hell yeah!) It’s also a chance to get outside, breathe some fresh air and enjoy life a little.

Saturday’s weather forecast seems perfect for this — 27 degrees and partly cloudy. I just hope the crazy weather we’ve had yesterday and today won’t mess it up. It’s been rainy and today could reach the 50s.

We did have two weeks of frigid temperatures, so hopefully the ice is thick enough to withstand this unseasonably warm wave. It would stink to not be able to actually go out on the ice! Tomorrow is supposed to start the decline in temperatures with a high around 40 and it keeps dipping to 26 (with a few snow showers) on Friday and then 27 on Saturday.

I am ready to get out and find some caches!

There will be the caches, too. Though several are park-and-grabs, there are a few of bigger sizes, which is nice. I even did the planning the way I used to — somewhat in-depth, to hopefully help us grab a whole heap of caches.

There might not be a ton of snow still, but there will likely be enough to make it feel like caching in the winter. Snow poses its own set of difficulties when caching, especially when caches are low to the ground!

But, it’s nice to get out in the winter, too. There should be photo opportunities this weekend and it will be fun to catch up with a few others I haven’t hung out with in a while.

And we’ll get some smileys to boot.

Everybody needs a way to get away and escape reality. Hopefully this weekend will allow me to do so.

Now to figure out where the heck I put my GPS so I can load it and be ready!

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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Good riddance: Geocaching challenges finally sent packing

Dec 05

Finally.

Groundspeak, the owners of geocaching.com, have finally come to some sort of senses and gotten rid of Challenges, a feature they launched last year. Though nobody ever came out and said this (that I saw), it was undoubtedly a way to try and appease the mass of people who have been clamoring for the return of virtual geocaches.

I gave this concept thumbs down last year when it was created. I never saw enough improvements to change that opinion. Apparently Groundspeak’s opinion of the Challenges wasn’t great either.

See ya, Challenges! Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out!

Everything seemed so rushed. There were countless numbers of flaws with what they launched and it was way too easy to get around the system and users could score more “finds” by doing all the work from their computer. I saw several challenges where people from around the world found an image needed and posted it, despite the reality that they didn’t actually complete the challenge.

And, “owner’s” hands were tied.

See, with geocaches, an owner owns the geocache. That means if you armchair a find, I can delete it. With challenges, you didn’t have that option. In fact, once you created it, it was done. You couldn’t do anything from that point forward. You didn’t even get notifications that somebody completed the challenge you created!

No editing.

No deleting.

No verifying.

Nothing.

What’s the point then?

The idea of geocaching is to get out and find something. It’s a way to get outside and see something. Not just sit on the computer and search for images so you can “claim” a find.

Heck, after initially having them “count” toward your finds for geocaches, Groundspeak at least was smart enough to switch that up.

This is what Groundspeak had to say in a post to its forums Tuesday afternoon:

In our effort to inspire outdoor play through Geocaching, we are often faced with decisions about what to focus on next, and what to focus on less. It is through these decisions that we explore opportunities to grow the global game of geocaching.

Occasionally, during this process, we are faced with the reality that certain ideas don’t catch on as we had hoped. In these situations we owe it to ourselves and to you to make tough decisions about the future of every project and the resources to be applied to each. Sometimes, as a result, cool features must become casualties.

In this spirit, we have decided to retire Geocaching Challenges.

This means that, effective today, we have disabled the ability to create new Challenges. We have also removed the Challenges application from all mobile application stores. In approximately 7 days, we will be removing all traces of the Challenges functionality and related content from Geocaching.com.

On an office wall here at HQ is a sign that reads, “Let’s make better mistakes tomorrow.” By accepting that we will sometimes get it wrong, we can allow ourselves to learn from and imagine new opportunities in the world of Geocaching. Our hope is we can take the lessons from Challenges and create better tools to guide you on your next adventure.

Kudos to Groundspeak for realizing that this was a failed idea.

Geocaching had grown to an amazing size and with Groundspeak being the main players in this game, the company needs to try different things. I don’t blame them for attempting this.

And I personally hope Groundspeak doesn’t decide to bring virtuals back. The ones that are out there now are just fine. They are able to be done and that’s great. But as this game continues to grow, if there’s not a serious set of rules with virtuals, they’ll be overused and become a bunch of trash. I don’t want a virtual cache to take me to a parking lot, which you know would happen.

If Groundspeak wanted to work with some National Parks or something and unveil some virtuals in conjunction with places like that, I’d be all for it. But not for opening them back up to anyone. It would get out of hand.

For today, Challenges are on the way out and I applaud Groundspeak for making this decision. It makes the game better by not having Challenges and it, hopefully, will help the game swing back to what it was originally intended to do — get outside and find something.

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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Notes from my noodle: September 25 edition

Sep 25

“Get busy living or get busy dying…”

I’m sure many of you may remember that quote from the Shawshank Redemption, said by Red, portrayed by Morgan Freeman.

I write this post as I listen to some big-band era swing music. It’s some pretty sweet stuff. It can get you in the mood to be creative. Though I’ll readily admit not being a fan of a lot of jazz music, there’s something about the big-band era that really works for me.

Especially the songs with the faster pace and beat. Songs like “Sing, sing, sing” by Benny Goodman. Excellent stuff. Makes me thing of the 1920s and 1930s. Gangsters. Prohibition. Suits. Cigars.

Ahhh… talk about a time in history.

Recently, I was at a friend’s wedding. During the dinner portion, the DJ played some swing music. A couple people got out and danced. It was kind of fun to watch.

I was then chatting to a friend about this era of music and noted if I could go and live in a different era, this would be the one.

Back when Zoot Suits were the norm.

And I’m not a supporter or advocate for organized crime, but there’s something about the gangsters from that era. The suits. The cars. The Tommy Guns — AKA a Chicago typewriter.

And, of course, swing music.

I’m not sure what I would have been. Maybe I’d still have been a scribe. I could see covering the Yankees or something back then for one of the many New York papers. Maybe I’d have been on the crime beat.

Heck, maybe I’d have been a gangster. Chewing a cigar and rat-a-tatting with the Tommy Gun.

Who knows.

But what an era.

I know a lot of people don’t listen to music when they write. And, for the most part, I can’t listen to music with words when writing. But tunes such as classical pieces or the swing band era can keep my mind rolling as I write.

And with the jazzy stuff I have playing tonight, it’s got me thinking of old cars (Like the Ford Model Ts and As) and the prohibition era of time. Black and white.

That’s the era I’d definitely love to be in if not for now.

And while you read the rest of this post, have a listen to a little Benny Goodman:

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As many of you know, I’m still working on finding a job. The resumes keep going out and I can’t seem to find much. I’ve thankfully landed something on a part-time basis, but it’s basically once a week and it’s not even every week. Still, it’s something to help me along and get something more recent on the resume.

So, I’ve been looking at career changes. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that here before.

I recently visited a school for a program I’m highly interested in. I’m not going to spill all the beans here because I hate putting things out there until I know for sure if I’m going to do it or not. Some friends already know as I needed to see what some people thought.

My issue?

I don’t want to fail — again.

Though I realize I didn’t fail in newspapers and journalism, the industry failed me. And I don’t think it’s getting any better. And with barely anything in a retirement fund, I need something different.

I’ve watched others go the route of changing careers during the mid-life years and do well. Heck, take a peek at my brother who fully changed directions and went into teaching and now he’s a tenured teacher at a good school.

Might as well give it a go, yeah?

So, I’ve e-mailed one other school today in hopes of being able to compare the two programs. There’s a significant price differential in the program, as well as hours needed and the time frame to finish. The end result would likely be me going into business for myself. It’s something I’m thinking long and hard about.

Once I decide, believe me, I’ll share with the readers of the blog. For now, I’ll leave it with my seriously considering a massive change in career direction.

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Speaking of writing and career things, I’ve also finally sat down to work on a couple of fictional books. These likely won’t be huge books, but I’m hoping to write them and see where it takes me.

I don’t fathom any riches here.

I need to get working on my book ideas so I can one day have a book like this!

The reality is, I’ll likely publish them on myself. If any money is made, it will basically just be a bonus. My thing is just getting it done. Then seeing about shaping it and all from there. If something bigger comes out of one of these, awesome. If not, it’s more of a goal to just do it.

My big issue with fiction is shaping the story.

I have a couple of real-life things I’m working on, too. I’m not sure if they will be full-blown books, a series here on the blog or something along the lines of an Amazon Kindle Single. But, I am hoping to work on those, too.

I need to push forward. I’ve applied and applied for things to get squashed. I guess it’s time to take the bull by the horns…

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I went on a small trip Sunday, heading up to Ithaca to hike a bit, find some waterfalls and take a few photos.

But I also got to play disc golf for the first time since early June.

Taughannock Falls just outside of Ithaca. I took this shot Sunday during a day trip to the Ithaca area.

It was nice to get out and flip a few discs on an actual course. To be fair, it was just a nine-hole course, but it was so nice. It’s also good because I’m playing in an Ace Race in a couple of weeks. While I don’t expect to do anything major in that Ace Race, I’d at least like to know I can throw a disc well enough to get it close to baskets!

As for the day overall, it was nice.

For those of you who have never been to Ithaca, it’s a wonderful little city. The city’s motto is “Ithaca is Gorges.” There are many gorges and waterfalls to explore throughout the area, so it makes for a nice day trip.

In total, I got to see several awesome waterfalls and hiked — including the disc golf — upward of 3.5-4 miles, which is always nice to do.

I had been worried about the waterfalls and how much water would be coming off them, considering the lack of rain we’ve had all summer. Alas, recent rains made most of them vibrant falls. All but one were fun to check out and take photos of — in all their glory.

And yes, there were a few geocaches mixed in as well.

In the end, it was a good getaway from the real-world issues going on in my life. Nature can do that to you.

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the passing of a well-known local person.

Sid Levine died Sunday at the age of 99. I only knew Levine in his later years as he owned part of the Oneonta Tigers, the minor-league team I covered for six years. A quiet man, Levine was one of the nicest people I dealt with. He also was a no-nonsense person. He didn’t worry about what people though, he told you how it was.

And that’s how it should be.

He, along with co-owner Sam Nader, ran the local team up until selling in 2008. The team then left the area before the 2010 season.

I dealt with and developed a stronger relationship with Nader, now 93, but toward the end of the run of the Tigers, I also got to know Levine. He was always a gentleman and had an infectious smile. And he knew his baseball.

Nader and Levine were close friends for more than 75 years and when I visited with Nader one afternoon earlier this year, I had to come after a certain time as he and Levine still met nearly every day to chat.

Levine’s legacy in the Oneonta area will live on for a long time. But he’ll be missed, that’s for sure — for many more reasons than baseball.

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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