Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The Future of Geocaching?


The Future of Geocaching?
BaytownBert (Bert Marshall) 1-23-24

I am no expert on the game for starters, regardless of how I am perceived, but I have been playing it off and on going back to 2003. Back when I started, it was a wild adventure game of unknown containers, cryptic tips, tricky GPS devices and sketchy coordinates, and descriptions that often told a story. It was a danged challenge to find one and quite often, you would burn a gallon of gas between caches.

Each ‘cacher’ had a signature way of hiding caches and in the case of one aaronbarbee, you were fairly certain to get injured trying to sign the log (GC25N1B). There were no children that I remember and the game was dominated by computer geeks, math nerds, rocket scientists, geologists, lab techs and school teachers. I was a chemical Plant worker and a computer dude and was attracted to the technical side of the game.

My mentor was Sam Morrow, one of the three founders of the educational Texas Geocaching Association, which I informally joined in 2004. Sam was the lab superintendent at the Plant where we worked and my first few caches were around the San Jacinto monument. It was very common back in those days to be questioned by police and most veterans had numerous encounters. Before I go further, let me establish this is strictly an opinion piece and not intended to malign anyone. Geocaching is just a game and is fun however you play it and I am fine with that.

By 2010 there were a lot more caches, but nothing like there is now. I met my second mentor at the ten year anniversary of Geocaching – Houston Control. Larry Houston hosted an event at the Baytown Nature Center (GC25FVH ) and to me he was a rock god. HC owned a lot of very interesting and challenging caches and still hides them that way in 2024 (GCAJFM0 ). My brother tjbustem and I were in awe of him as he had maybe 200 caches under his belt and I, maybe half that. These were earned one at a time, often on solo expeditions and this was common. Back in the day, finding five or ten in a week was a successful achievement.

I decided I would try an astounding a thousand caches a year and some years I made it, but most I did not. Now mind you, numbers were important, but not my motivating factor. A few years passed and all of a sudden I started noticing some people were bumping their numbers up a thousand in a few days. I couldn’t believe it. How in the world? Before I knew it there came the proliferation of low-quality hides. These were caches that required no skill or effort or apparently forethought and the introduction of cell phone GPS capability further diluted the quality of the game. Now any casual interested person with a phone began hiding caches that more often than not registered a negative number on quality. They soon lost interest and their containers needed maintenance only to be archived by the reviewer after a few months.

Events at one time were real gatherings with lots of attendees and everyone walked away feeling like they had witnessed something and learned from it. Now, again more times than not, they are meets and eats (BYO$). Trackables fell in value to veterans and (FMK5BM) are viewed as extra baggage and there are so many, most of us don’t even grab one or record it.

Souvenirs were big deals and were cherished, but took the same inflationary path to the point veterans basically ignore them. IMO Groundspeak has fomented this tactic to feed instant gratification and should cease this practise. The same goes with Cash in Trash Out (CITO) at cache locations. I’ve personally observed litter all over a cache area after veteran cachers had just visited it.

What has happened to our game and how do we correct it on an individual basis?  Do we simply say times have changed and let it go the route of Munzee’s where you can hit the 28th level in four hours? Let’s get the game back into the woods and out from under lamp posts.

I suggest archiving low quality hides, placed mainly to boost numbers (which mean nothing now). If a person has umpteen thousands of finds, what does it actually mean? Fourteen bazillion of them were LPC’s or ET Highway 1/10 of a mile power trail hides most likely or were group finds where one person jumped out of a van while everyone yelled, “Sign my name!”. To me this is silly and forsakes what we all started the game to do. The game has hybridized into a joke in many ways, making veterans look like a Banana Republic general with 650 medals on their uniform.

Let’s put the adventure back into the game. Do a little homework and locate a cool place to hunt or find one. Along the way, stage an event worth attending and do it in a park. Try to mentor newbies and teach them how much fun the game can be. Like I said, times have changed and no one is impressed with how many caches we’ve found, so why not step back, take a deep breath and start over fresh? Become a mentor.


Tuesday, December 05, 2023

BB's (Parody) News Buster News Exclusive

BB's News Buster News Exclusive: 12-4-23

A giggling vice president and multi-millionaire (base salary $157K) committed our hard-earned tax dollars of $3 billion to a UN Green fund designed to fight undefined climate change in countries who love donations. “Today, I am also proud to announce a new $3 billion pledge to the Green Climate Fund, which helps developing countries invest in resilience, clean energy and nature-based solutions,” Harris said during a speech at the U.N. climate summit in Dubai".

She then clarified this action with words of transparency and illumination: "Weather is caused by weather.” (Dramatic pause) “Everyone knows this." (Giggling) "Whether we know the weather is causing weather is open to debate by certain elements of radicalized America is insignificant because weather is real whether they admit it or not."

BB's (Parody) News Buster News Exclusive


Am I intelligent enough to sift the facts


Friday, December 01, 2023

Total knee replacement


In case you are planning a TOTAL KNEE REPLACEMENT here is my update. I got excellent care at the Houston VA:

Info updated as my mind clears. Okay, surgery Monday morning at 0730, up and walking same day. 3 rehab sessions Tuesday & Wednesday which they told me went very well. Went home Wednesday afternoon at 4pm (1600).
Background: I have exercised for the last 50 years and blew through the rehab in record time according to them. They had never seen anyone walk the entire second floor the day of the surgery and me not knowing I was doing anything out of the ordinary asked if they wanted me to do it twice. I've had a three time a week regimen of doing 30 squats, 3 sets (and other leg exercises + walking & cycling) and this amplified how quickly I (anyone) will recover.
Next, the entire leg is sore and that is being controlled by various meds, but the real winner here is an IV Nerve block. I feel no real pain from the knee and folks usually lay in the hospital for 3-4 days after surgery day and they take it out with 3 possible scenarios. A: It begins to hurt at a level Tylenol and oxycodone will handle it. B: It doesn't really hurt. C: it hurts like h#ll. The third one is what happened to one of my brothers.
Seeing they let me out on day 2, they refilled the IV block and I will remove it after a total of 5 days and he said the possibility of pain based on my recovery will be minimal.
I will do it again if it affects the other leg.
The only bad thing I can report is they put me in a room with a 75 year old soldier who rambled on constantly about how he had done more astounding things in 3 years as an E-4 than Chuck Norris until I finally had enough and called security to move me to another room. He got so agitated he came to the end of the bed acting in a hostile manner (which was no actual threat to me)! His story had more holes than a screen door and I can only take so much. 😉
We got a care package of candy and surprisingly they had the old candy cigarettes - called candy sticks. It looks like a joint and I shared one with the solder in my new room and both of us laughed over them.
My advice is do as many squats as you can leading up to surgery and walk a lot.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Upgrading Geocache Containers 101

How many times have you gone out caching with a full swag bag and a handful of trackables only to find nothing but micros, nanos, bison tubes, and DNA caches? Too many? Me too. Call me a grumpy old searcher if you like, but I am at the point where it is time to do something about it. How you ask? Well, by writing primers, teaching Geocaching 101 events (PCP8AB), and setting an example by hiding larger containers; that’s how.

At the risk of sounding preachy, aren’t you also weary of how little thought has been put into not only the container, but the location of so many caches these days? Every time I see the description on a cache page that reads, “This corner was just screaming for a cache, so I put one out!” I cringe. Arriving at the precious location I read it is a muggle-heavy micro in a bush, with no hint and possibly shaky coords. What? Again? The pharmacy parking lot is crowded with cars and now I find myself on my hands and knees in front of some car’s grill and the first thing I see is empty soda/pop bottles and McD’s wrappers that are aged to nutty perfection. My thought is always, “Are no cachers doing CITO these days” as the container has been published for 6 months.

I check the D/T rating and it is a solid 1.5/1.5. After 20 minutes I leave and feel like I’ve been cache-whipped. Checking the past logs I see someone with 18 finds praising the CO for hiding the smallest thing they’ve ever seen hold a log. I shake my head and wonder if I will be back. The newbie swears it is an “evil hide”, but I think it is a “stupid, needle in a haystack” hide as I post a DNF.

The only upside was the full sack of trash I picked up, as is my commitment to giving back to the community. I carry a large container behind the seat of my Jeep and a roll of trash bags and don’t feel bad about preaching CITO every chance I get. CITO is the only beneficial thing we do for the community and so many veterans appear to forget this, as evidenced by the many trash strewn cache locations I’ve witnessed.

The solution is twofold. Replace your containers with the largest container possible to facilitate trackables and swag.  You may have to actually get creative so muggles don’t spot it, but cachers can make quicker work of logging it and find the experience far superior to looking for a forgettable container. I want to fool muggles, but unless I am deliberately trying to make it difficult, I want cachers to find my hide. Give good hints. Cachers who don’t want hints, won’t read it anyway, but a family with kids and us old folks will appreciate it. Reserve evil hides for unique containers folks won’t recognize rather than a nano glued to the bottom of a pebble in a rock pile by a gas station. Come on! That is not evil folks; it is mean and most of us groan when we find it.

Second, archive that old LPC or micro that everyone has found (and has few, if any favorite points) and place a new, better, and larger container. Do the homework and make it something cool and awesome and folks will come and maybe give that precious favorite point. Our landscape here in the Houston area is littered with tiny insignificant hides and aren’t worth remembering for any reason except to get a point. Many of the CO’s aren’t active or do maintenance on their caches and in my opinion simply need to archive their hides. Open the area back up for new better containers and let’s give this game a makeover. If you hide caches, protect your user name by doing prompt maintenance. The last thing you want to hear is your name dragged through the mud. Happy caching!

 Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Using Google Earth measurement tools for geocaches.

 BB's Primer: Using Google Earth to accurately hide caches. Here is a graphic showing the actual location of caches in Jenkins Park in Baytown. I use this method to lay out an area to get the maximum allowable caches. Note: You cannot use Google Earth Geocache Viewer to determine where the actual cache is located.

Note: Shut off the optional Geocaching Google Earth Viewer, because it is inaccurate other than showing a cache is nearby.

Copy the coordinates from the GC page and using GE, place a pin where the actual location is and rename it with the GC number. After all the caches are located and tagged, use the ruler or circle tool at the top of the page to measure in excess of 528 feet to determine if there is room for another cache.
This method will allow you to check your real coordinates when you hide a cache if you can identify the location with an aerial view and allow you to hide more caches in, say, a cemetery or a park. Why hide one when you can hide 2 or more?

On another note, you should make it a habit to check your coords on GE to be sure the cache is where you say it is.

Google Earth Pro's drawing tools do not include an easy way to draw accurate circles. But, the ruler/measuring tool does let you measure circular areas and save them as KML, so you can do the following to draw a circle:

Open measuring tool (ruler icon on toolbar, or Tools menu > Ruler)
In Ruler window, select the "Circle" tab
Select the units you want to measure the radius in (eg: feet)
Click (click, don't drag) on the map at the center point of your circle (Park-Cemetery)
Move your mouse until the circle radius is the distance you want (eg: 540 feet to be safe)
Click the map again to complete the circle
In the Ruler window, click the "Save" button
In the "New Path" window which appears, give it a name and click "Ok" button
Find your circle in the Places panel!

Here is an example of Jenkins Park with existing caches. The pale green dots are the only place a new geocache can be placed. 

Baytown, Texas - Baytown Geotour GT7A

Thursday, November 18, 2021



I’ve never been a proponent of beating a dead horse! But I feel obligated to do so in hope of provoking maybe one in ten Democratic voters to fact check me and discover that being educated and thinking for oneself is not a yet a felony.

The Democrat Political Party and its entire history has been dedicated to slavery and racism through the moment of this polemic’s printing! It’s a virulent, deflected, and obfuscated racism that has always been the central  core principle of well documented, recorded, and provable Democratic Party history!

Before recounting countless proofs of what the Democratic Party is as a whole, I’d like to comment on those who slavishly devote themselves to being Democrat voters: “you’re” one of three things 1) a racist yourself  2) completely ignorant or simply ignore the precedence’s of history 3) a complacent dumbass!

Indulge me recounting historical proofs that the left is doing yeoman’s work to hide from view behind their racist hypocrisy today by discouraging the teaching of history in schools and colleges except for that that supports the “progressive left’s” legends and fairy tales.

The lazy historical view of the Civil War was the North victors sometimes espoused that it was a war to free the slaves. Economics were central to the agrarian south and if slaves were freed and were paid their worth profits from plantations would plummet. A somewhat oversimplification perhaps, but close enough for government work, especially if you are still an incomparably stupid stubborn Biden supporter

Perhaps the greatest irony for the uninformed and less educated is that more abolitionist groups existed in the Confederate South than in the North before the Civil War began. Well, yeah. so the North prevailed.  But not really.

From studying history in Ohio when America was number one in Public education instead of 35th today we knew something about the existence of the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow and heard about segregation which was really difficult for us to grasp because Blacks and Whites went to the same schools, drank from the same water fountains, ate in the same cafeterias and restaurants, and rode the same buses and sat wherever they pleased. Sure, there was what I call closet racism in the North because Blacks were discouraged from living in upscale white neighborhoods until “blockbusting” became a tactic in the 1960s where a Black family of means would be able to purchase a home with the help of an honest, unbiased but greedy Real Estate agent making a substantial bundle in fees for their “lack of bias”!

To reiterate for the umpteenth time, the Democratic Party was founded by Presidents Andrew Jackson and President to be Martin Van Buren in 1828, both slave owners. Until Google became a dedicated censor of things detrimental to the Democratic Party, I found references to Jackson as having had around a hundred slaves: now only a dozen or so after Google censorship. In a few more years, he won’t have had any as the left continues Its dedicated march to rewrite history.

The Democratic Political Party for the last 70 years has dedicated itself to deflection and obfuscation. They well know they are the party that birthed the Ku Klux Klan (see deceased Democrat Senator Robert Carlyle Byrd,  ranking Ku Klux Klan Kleagle), JIM CROW Laws and Segregation. Nowadays they take every opportunity to deflect their continuing innate and  despicable history of racism to the Republican Party. Oh yeah Joe Biden eulogized Byrd at his funeral, revealing himself to be a racist bastard!

Democrat ass Woodrow Wilson not only segregated the U.S. Military, but the Washington bureaucracy. Black military groups were led by white officers. Blacks working in the government bureaucracy had to use separate facilities from whites. Wasn’t Woodrow a great “Progressive?

Then along comes LBJ and The Great Society to help the ”Negra” get on the dole and be dependent on the Democrats. The Republicans, who had been fighting the Democrats for a solid 100 get Civil Rights legislation into law joyously helped pass a law that would ban Jim Crow and segregation, not realizing it was a tradeoff for the Democrats to re-enslave blacks by using welfare as bait and purposely destroying the Black nuclear family by paying unmarried black women big bucks per kid and buy votes!.

 Lastly, the entire Congressional Black Caucus is completely composed of racist Uncle Toms who are getting rich and doing nothing for their constituents whatsoever.

Republicans amaze me by allowing the Democrats to lie about their inherent racism without a concerted counter-attack known as historical truth!

*John Frock is an Ohio native, author, and has lived in San Angelo for almost a half century. He’s twice retired: USAF Intelligence Analyst and Past Postmaster of Winter’s, Tx.



The Future of Geocaching?

  The Future of Geocaching? BaytownBert (Bert Marshall) 1-23-24 I am no expert on the game for starters, regardless of how I am perceiv...