Monday, January 16, 2012

Please follow me

I haven't posted on this blog in 9 months.  I feel like this particular blog has run its course.  I've started a new blog and I would encourage any of the followers of this blog to come over to A photo a day... especially if you'd like to continue to read about things relating to more than just GPS technology.

I've enjoyed my time writing this blog, but the photography project I started last year took up way more time than I anticipated.  I also felt like I was repeating myself on this blog, writing posts that were essentially similar to previous posts.  Quite literally, I'd run out of things to say on that one.

With my new blog, I'm not keeping it restricted to just geocaching, or just photography.  I plan to expand into other areas.  I think that will keep the content fresh.  It is my intention that the title of the new blog, A photo a day... is designed to keep it in the back of my mind that I will post at least one photo per blog entry.

Thank you all for reading, thank you all for following.  Hopefully, we can start something new and exciting again with my other blog.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Unusual things to see near a geocache

Every now and then, while out geocaching, I'll come across things that are out of place.  In this case, these things aren't really out of place, mainly because the geocache is hidden near a museum.  So perhaps the geocache was out of place, but it really wasn't either.  It's just a way to link the two things together somehow.  A couple of weeks ago, my two older children and I took a day and visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).  It's located near downtown Los Angeles, adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits.

LACMA is a complex of buildings housing a multitude of artwork.  I believe there are 9 buildings in all, but we were only able to go through half of them.  All the better because we'll be able to come back again in the future, possibly enjoying the same exhibits, plus new ones which we were unable to enjoy in our first go around.  The contemporary art building was a favorite of mine, because I was familiar with several of the pieces of art.  There were several of Andy Warhol's iconic paintings, plus a Stuart Davis painting that I recognized while still several paintings away.  I'd done a research report on Davis in high school and was very aware of his style.

Several years ago, I'd found a cache overlooking the main tar pit area of the La Brea Tar Pits, but it had since been muggled.  There was also an earthcache located in the same general spot, so I was familiar with the area.  After we spent a good five hours at the museum, we walked across the street to a burger place and had dinner.  After that, my kids indulged their good old dad and "allowed" him to find a couple of geocaches.

I'd like to offer my apologies for not writing much these past couple of months.  Being busy isn't the word to describe what this year has been like, but that's the best that I can conjure up at the moment.  Adding new projects to my life, most notably the 365 project, has impacted other areas, including this part.  I shall endeavor to write more often here.

Pictures were taken near the following geocaches:
That Black Gooey Smelly Stuff - by carlosguerrera
The La Brea Tar Pits - by GeoCraig

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Walk in the pasture

I went up for a hike today, primarily to take some pictures. All of the geocaches up in Johnson's Pasture, located just north of where I live, have been found. It was a gorgeous day, slightly breezy. It was a crisp day for the second full day of spring.

Picture was taken near the following geocache:

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Memories of Japan

His name is Yoshihisa Yamada. The Japanese characters that make up his name can either be pronounced Yoshihisa or Miku, so he suggested we call him Mickey or Mike and so Mike he was to us. He was a foreign exchange student who lived with me my senior year in high school back in the mid 70s. He spent almost 12 months living with my family and me. We welcomed him into our home and he learned about American culture while we learned about Japanese culture. 

His first night, he asked how to use a bed, as he had never slept in one before. Later in the summer, when we were having Tacos, he stated, quite enthusiastically that he loved Tako. He was rather disappointed when the Tako (Octopus) didn't show up on the table. He introduced us to Tako, and tempura and cooking with Sake. He became an honorary cheerleader at our high school that year, dressing in typical Japanese garb for each football game and basketball game that year. 

We introduced him to Disneyland, hamburgers and camping. That year, we camped twice at Yosemite National Park and he ran to the top of Nevada Fall along the Mist Trail. That trail is extremely slippery and tough just to hike, let alone run. On the second camping trip, he ran to the top of Yosemite Fall, just because he could. 

He and I both cried when he left the following summer in mid July, just after our country celebrated its bicentennial. We exchanged letters over the first couple of years, but then life seemed to get in the way and we lost touch. He called the morning my sister got married and we all talked with him. He'd lost a lot of his English in those last 6 years and it was difficult to understand him at times, but he still sounded like Mike. 

I have tried over the years to contact him, using all sorts of Internet search engines. His name is a rather common name in Japan and I haven't been able to reacquaint myself with him. 

His family is from Morioka, just north of Sendai where the earthquake hit this past weekend. Unfortunately, I have no idea if he still lived there or somewhere else. Needless to say, he's been on my mind a lot this past week. I hope and pray that he is safe and that his family is also safe. He would be 53 as of last December.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

365 continues

Several times in the past, I've written about the 365 project.  I wasn't sure I was going to be able to attack something like this.  Although I do tend to take a lot of pictures, I don't necessarily take them every single day.

When I looked into this project, it was in the middle of December.  I posted a picture on the 18th following a geocaching trip up in the desert on a day where it rained up there for most of the day.  But I didn't take another picture until a week later on Christmas Day.  I suspected that I might not be up to a project like this.  I was wrong.

I started posting photos in succession on the 30th of December, once again after a geocaching hike.  I have yet to miss a day.  I've played little tricks with myself that has helped me out tremendously.  I have my fall back pictures in case I end up with no inspiration that particular day.  My fall back pictures tend to be flowers.  Living in Southern California, we have flowers blooming year round, so it's relatively easy to take pictures of flowers.  I think I could post a different flower picture ever single day.

However, I didn't want to be known as the "flower" guy.  I follow several photographers on the 365 Project, and while their photos are excellent, I also find them rather repetitive.  They do certain things very well.  I'd like to see them expand into other areas, just to see them stretch themselves a little.  This is one of the tacks I'm taking.  I'm trying to take a bunch of different photos of different things, just to expand and stretch myself.  I know I can take good landscapes and flower and plant pictures.  Can I take a good street picture?

I don't think I'm that good with portraits or with black and white photography, so I've been experimenting in that area.  My daughter issued me a challenge for the month of March - no flowers.  That's been tough, but I've worked other things in.  I kind of cheated today, not taking a picture of flowers, but taking pictures of the aftermath - the berries.  And now, as I look at my monthly calendar, I've seen March peppered with pictures of birds.  My daughter has already said I can't take pictures of birds next month.  We'll see how that goes.

I've been lucky to have included a couple of geocaching photos into my 365 project.  I actually thought the bulk of my photos would be geocaching photos, but that hasn't turned out to be the case.  I haven't been geocaching a lot this month due to other commitments, but with a two week break looming on the horizon, that might change shortly.  Either way, I'm glad it hasn't happened that way.  I'm enjoying working on still life, playing around with different objects just to see what the light will do.  Almost every photo I think about posting goes through the black and white processing just to see what it might look like in that medium.

I've gotten into the habit of taking my camera with me almost every where I go.  Sometimes, I go out with a specific goal in mind, other times, I just take pictures and hope for the best.  Ironically, that's what I ended up posting today and I've already gotten some very nice comments back on that particular photo.

I guess what I'm really trying to say with this is I'm actually surprised that I'm still doing this.  As I posted in an earlier post, I didn't think I would be able to do this.  But I can and I'm finding it easier and easier to find good quality subjects to photograph.

Pictures were taken for the following dates:
March 1st, 2011.
March 10th, 2011.
March 13th, 2011.

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Thus, begins the wait...

My apologies for not writing earlier, but life has a way of getting in the way sometimes.  I have been caching, but the writing of this blog has taken a back burner for the last month or so.  I've been involved in a bunch of different ventures and I have not been able to give this the attention that I'd like to.

One project I'm dealing with will be over next week, but it entails the memorization of Shakespeare, Lord Capulet's lines in Romeo and Juliet.  Somehow, I got roped into this.  Well, that's an easy way of saying someone dangled a carrot in front of my nose to be on the stage again and I jumped at the chance.  I think I am a born thespian who happens to be a teacher in real life.  I can remember being in plays as early as 3rd grade summer school, as well as Up the Down Staircase and Man of La Mancha while in high school.

The school where I work has had a rich tradition of theater, with much teacher involvement as possible.  The shows star 6th, 7th and 8th grade students with teachers in supporting roles.  It's amazing what the directors have been able to wring out of students of such diverse backgrounds and abilities.  In the past, we've performed The Pink Panther, Bye Bye Birdie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Wiz, Lil' Abner, 'Til Death Do Us Part plus several Shakespearean plays.  This year's production of Romeo and Juliet is scheduled for performances next Thursday with an evening performance the following week.  Once that is done, my schedule should clear up tremendously, especially with the onset of Spring Break three days after our final performance.

Along with this blog taking a back seat, so has caching, although I have been able to get out from time to time, especially when there was a date that needed to be filled on the calendar, which brings me to the title of this piece.  Two weeks ago, I filled in the month of February and now will have to wait until September and October to fill in the remaining five days I need to completely fill my geocaching calendar.

It's more of a personal milestone, rather than anything really significant, but it's something I've been trying to achieve since about April of last year.  I stumbled a little in the fall, but I'm pretty sure I'll be able to fill those last five dates this year.  And, thus begins the wait...

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thousand Word Thursday

Picture was taken at or near the following geocache event:
Full Moon Rising - February 11 - by West End Geocachers

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

National Parks and caching

Yesterday I found a geocache in a national park area.  This, of itself isn't that unusual, because it's fairly easy to find Earthcaches and virtual caches inside national park units.  What's much harder to find are actual physical caches, because the National Park Service (NPS) has deemed geocaches not conducive to the national park experience.

When I first started geocaching, I looked at the geocaching maps just to see where possible caches might be hidden.  I actually thought it was pretty cool when I noticed a physical cache hidden near the chapel in Yosemite Valley.  That cache was removed pretty quickly after that by the rangers in Yosemite National Park, which considered it litter.  I can see their point, especially if it creates new geotrails to the cache site, something like that could destroy the local environment.  Non-responsible geocachers who sometimes don't heed the warnings about putting food into caches could also cause problems.  Any kind of food in a geocache would be found by a bear fairly quickly in Yosemite with some possible dire consequences for the bear, if not a cacher who happened upon a bear at the cache site.

There have always been exceptions and it also appears as if the NPS is lightening their stance on physical caches.  I have always been aware of the geocache at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  GCNP Bright Angel has been around since April 2001.  It's also one of those rare caches that geocachers covet, because it's rated a 1 difficulty, but a 4.5 terrain.  That kind of combination in geocaches you don't come across very often.

Something that took me by surprise, however, was another physical cache that I just noticed at the Grand Canyon.  I'd pulled the GC mapping feature up, mainly because I wanted to get the link right for the GCNP Bright Angel cache.  I clicked on the link and immediately realized that I'd clicked on a different cache, yet one that's found within the boundaries of the Grand Canyon National Park.  Camping in the Canyon is hidden in the South Rim Campground and has permission of the campground manager to be there according to the cache page.  It's been there since last August and of this writing has 62 finds.  Apparently the NPS really is lightening its stance.

There are six caches found within the boundaries of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, a unit of the NPS in west of Los Angeles.  I was in Thousand Oaks Saturday with Chaosmanor caching and he told me about this one, but I didn't look closely at the cache page.  I was rather surprised at first when we pulled into the visitors center parking lot for the recreation area.  At first we thought it was going to be outside, but our GPSrs kept pointing inside the building, so we had to wait 10 minutes until the center opened.

Once inside, we walked through the exhibits, looking at a photography display by a local artist on loan to the visitors center through the middle of March.  Chaosmanor spotted the cache from a distance hiding on the backside of a bookcase.  I'd been looking in the general area, but hadn't spotted it yet, so he let me search a little while longer until I also came up with the location.  After signing the log book, we put the cache back and then had a very pleasant conversation with the rangers about geocaching and other things.  We both expressed our pleasure that the park has allowed this kind of activity and encouraged the rangers to express our views to the higher ups.

While researching this post, I looked to see if I could find any information about geocaching on the Santa Monica Mountains NRA website.  It's fairly well hidden, but I was able to track down this page that details what you can do with a GPS in the national park area.

I'm almost wondering whether this area is a testing area for the rest of the NPS.  The Santa Monica Mountains has not one, but 6 physical caches within its boundaries.  If this proves to be a positive experience for all concerned, I can see where it will expand to other areas.  It's small step, but a step that I consider in the right direction for the park service.

Picture was taken near the following geocache:
SAMO ParkCache 1 - by SAMO-NPS

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