Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from November, 2015

It’s time to call it like it is

I’ve been uncharacteristically quiet the last two and a half months as I attended almost ten weeks of the Baytown Citizen’s Police Academy. One reason for this is my friend Natalie Whatley covered it a few years back. Another reason is I wanted to experience the entire class before I wrote about it.
I am by nature a bit rebellious and a loner when it comes to joining or endorsing anything. I am a classic skeptic and make no apologies about what I have observed. Back a number of years ago when I headed up Baytown Concerned Citizens, I was criticized for writing in my column that we needed to continuously watch our police department and hold them accountable. My opinion hasn’t changed in that regard.
The police department is ran in a very military manner and I am not only a Veteran, but also a student of military history. Much of what I learned in this citizen’s police academy, I already knew because I read a lot and have studied martial arts and awareness for many years. I don’t get…

What is your geo-name again?

What is your geo-name again? By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Southeast Texas Representative Texas Geocaching Association
My geocaching handle is BaytownBert.It’s confusingly cryptic in that my name is Bert and I live in Baytown, Texas.Believe it or not one time someone asked me where I lived after we exchanged geo-handles.To save space on the logbooks, I usually just put BB and the date.
Over the years I’ve observed some really cool names, like Skunkonthefog, FluxVector, and Bigguy In Texas.I’ve also heard some astoundingly long, bizarre and undecipherable caching names that left me scratching my head in amazement.It usually goes something like this: “Hi, I’m BaytownBert.”
“Nice to meet you, I’m 382764956thb938rt8743monkeylips-from_Toledo_Texas and I am a newbie to the game.”I usually refrain from guffawing, but on occasion giggle a little.My next question is how they plan to sign the log on a nano, but again stop myself.
A geocaching name should be considered not only important, but …

What is more fun than geocaching?

What is more fun than geocaching?
By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Southeast Texas Representative Texas Geocaching Association
“When geocaching is no longer fun, go home folks.”If you have attended one of my geocaching 101 classes, you have heard me give that advice.I know what I am talking about here, because in this wonderful game, you will reach this state of mind, guaranteed.It can happen to us at the first cache too.Often, we struggle on and possibly get our mojo back, but many times, something will happen that makes us leave the game and head to the house.
In Texas I am fairly well known for having fun playing this game.I have a high quality prosthetic Bubba set of dentures and a couple different wigs I like to wear at events and I have been known to take an occasional selfie and post it in a log also.
My Bubba teeth had to be adjusted by my dentist last year when I accidentally got my front teeth knocked out after hiding a high terrain geocache in a park near my home in Baytown.I…

What happened to geocaching events?

What happened to geocaching events?
By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Southeast Texas Representative Texas Geocaching Association
I geocached totally solo for a long time before I attended my first event. The reason was I was introduced to the game at a time when caches were few and far apart.USMorrows and I worked in the same Chemical Plant, he in the Lab and me in a process unit.I thought the game would be something my Bride and I could do together, but alas she couldn’t comprehend the idea of looking for something in the woods.
I found a few caches in 2003 & 2004 and then stopped caching.I was aware of the game, but we pursued other common interests.In 2009 we experienced a family tragedy and I began to hike miles and miles to try and keep my sanity.I was on a 16 mile hike in Brazos Bend SP in August and staggering as I made it to my vehicle.I then had an epiphany.
I could be geocaching instead of just hiking!I logged into gc.com and sure enough, I was still BaytownBert.Boy, the g…

Travel bugs and geocoins

Travel bugs and geocoins This is a primer on proper handling of trackable tags, coins, etc. By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Southeast Texas Representative Texas Geocaching Association
Please bear with me while I lay a little groundwork on this subject.Surely if you have played this game very long, you know all or most everything there is to know about trackables, but following the principle that no matter how much you think you know, we don’t always do the right thing and we can always learn more.
Trackables have a unique code on them and are logged on geocaching.com to track their travels.Someone bought the trackable and paid anywhere from $4 to $50 or more for it (in some cases) and having one in our possession necessitates we move it.
Let’s start at the beginning.You’ve bought a trackable, or someone gave you an unactivated trackable and you want to activate it.You do this by going to geocaching.com and under PLAY at the top of the menu, you select FIND TRACKABLES.Looking at the pa…

So you want to hide a geocache

So you want to hide a geocache By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Southeast Texas Representative Texas Geocaching Association
I think it is safe to say that after you’ve found a few geocaches you decide it would be awesome to hide one and then watch the thousands of people look for your evil hide.Of course it will be evil – possibly the most evil geocache ever!So you grab a thin taco soup plastic container, wrap some expensive camo duct tape you bought for this purpose and bury it under a pile of leaves by a rose bush in front of a super busy business.
You decide it will be a real challenge because the place is open 24 hours a day, so you give it a difficulty rating of 4 and a terrain of 3.5 because the bushes have demonic thorns.Figuring out what all is required on the submission page is a hassle, so you leave anything nonessential off and presto, it publishes 2 days later.
However, the day after you hid it the maintenance crews half-destroy your flimsy container and then comes a frog-st…

Rating a cache’s difficulty/terrain primer

Rating a cache’s difficulty/terrain primer
By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Southeast Texas Representative Texas Geocaching Association
This is a difficult subject (get it?) because the degree of effort is based on our own personal experience.A newbie will almost always rate their first caches too high. As an example, I’ve seen a light pole cache rated a 3/2 and the first time I found one, it was every bit of that.I guess it took me 30 minutes to find it looking everywhere but there.
Groundspeak, the parent organization of geocaching.com has specific guidelines for rating a cache’s D/T difficulty located here:https://support.groundspeak.com/index.php?pg=kb.page&id=82
Based on these guidelines about 90% of all caches located in the Houston area are over-rated… but, let’s take into consideration some other factors not listed to possibly justify our ratings.First there are our high temperatures and soaking humidity.A 3 difficulty here in July means a 2+ mile hike one way with moderate …

How to write a good geocaching log primer

How to write a good geocaching log primer By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Southeast Texas Representative Texas Geocaching Association
“I saw the difficulty and terrain rating was a 2/2, but I was feeling extra caching mojo this morning, so I decided what the heck?” and I parked a mile away.I pulled out my pogo stick and proceeded to go across the corn field instead of taking the sidewalk…”
Let me say up front that I have written logs just like the one you just read and taken it to ridiculous extremes, but I don’t always do this.At the very least I will write something like this:“Was headed north this morning and used this neato cache to get out and stretch my legs!Thank you for placing it for my geo-adventure.SLTFTC!” and then I will upload a ridiculous photo of myself with my fake teeth grinning at the camera.
What’s the bid deal on posting more than one fellow who always signs his logs “NC”, which after 3000 finds, I find to be a bit rude?Looking at his profile, I see all these find…

How to raise the size and quality of your hides.

How to raise the size and quality of your hides.
By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Southeast Texas Representative Texas Geocaching Association
I live in Baytown, Texas; a bustling blue-collar city on the Texas Gulf Coast.It is fairly saturated with geocaches thanks to me and a number of accomplished cachers.We usually get out and pick off new ones as they are published as well as logging down everything out to about 20 miles.
What this means is for many of us, we have to drive 30 to 60 minutes to get somewhere that there are enough unfound caches to make it worth the trip – or do not geocache at all.You see?We’ve found everything near our homes.I have over 300 caches that I maintain and I think I’ve come upon the solution to this dilemma.
I will archive my common geocaches and start over and yes, I realize it will be a lot of work.I’m thinking the best way to do this is one by one disable one listing, retrieve the old container (or box as the Brits are known to call it), repair or refur…

Geocaching safety and a dose of common sense

Geocaching safety and a dose of common sense By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Southeast Texas Representative Texas Geocaching Association
I remember the day I decided that if I was going to geocache, I had to have a first aid kit with me.I had scaled 18 feet up the side of a semi-demolished building in old Goose Creek, Texas to get one of aaronbarbee’s infamous soda tube trial caches.The end of the wall was fired brick and razor sharp and I was cupping one with one hand and retrieving the container with the other when it dawned on my that I had no way to sign the log without a 3rd arm.
On my way down, soda tube in my mouth, I sliced through the palm of my hand on the sharp brick.Now mind you, I could have fallen and broken no less than 27 bones, but I did not.Instead I went to my cachemobile and found a rag to stop the flow of blood.I signed the log and carefully made the 2nd climb, replaced the cache, and came down.
I learned two things that day.One, I needed a first aid kit and two;…

Geocaching burn-out – it can happen

Geocaching burn-out – it can happen
By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Southeast Texas Representative Texas Geocaching Association
“The old fire is gone, BB.It just ain’t there no more.I mean, I still love the game and all, but certain people have said certain stuff… and it hurts.The events are all the same and I am weary of repairing the same old caches that keep getting muggled or destroyed and now it seems like no one is happy anymore.Is there a remedy?”
I’ve heard this painful confession a number of times over the last year and I guess it’s time to address it.Back 10 years or so, the game was played considerably different than it is now and some of the folks feeling this burn-out are the ones feeling it the most, as they’ve been at it the longest.I know one couple that has 2000 finds they haven’t logged.They are at a dark place.
Face it, Smart phone Apps have changed everything.Some of it is good and it is indeed getting better, but initially it was quite a shock to see the online lo…

Eschew violence, embrace peace, but keep your powder dry

I live in peace; a relative peace that is. I do not violate the law; well, I speed now and again, so in some ways I do not 100% follow the letter of law, but pretty much I do. I pay taxes, I stay in my own lane, I stop at stop signs and I do not have a police record. In fact I just completed the Baytown Citizen’s Police Academy and didn’t bore everyone with the details by writing about something my friend Natalie Whatley covered in detail. I took my first karate lesson in 1972 and have never been in a “fist fight” since. I have been in many conflicts since, but I outsmarted my adversary by making myself to be a poor choice of a target and this is or should be the true aim of every martial artist. Now, as a senior citizen, I realize I am not as fast as I once was and have taken steps to legally carry a firearm.
I eschew violence and embrace peace, but am not ignorant, stupid, blind, or have this ridiculous idea that mankind is inherently good. When I see a person dressed as a clown, …