Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Geocaching

I have fallen in love… with a sport. It’s geocaching. Officially, I’ve been registered as a cacher since 2003, which is probably why I got the online name I did. Geocaching had only been around for a few years back then. But then again, it’s not really a new sport at all.
It seems that 100 years ago, a sport called letterboxing was all the rage in England. Letter boxing consisted of people placing a box somewhere that contained a logbook and custom designed rubber stamp. Clues would be posted at letterboxing clubs. The letterboxers would then head out with a logbook, a specially designed rubber stamp of their own, and an inkpad. When they found the letterbox, they would put their stamp in the boxes log, and then stamp their logbook with the boxes stamp. Sound familiar? The technology has changed, but the sport really hasn’t.
Like I said, I’ve been registered as a cacher for a few years now, but my find count is really low. The reason… No GPS receiver. I was trying to find the cache sites with map and compass only. And I found… one… that way. Ya, only one.
I have a GPS now, and my count has gone up 400% in the last couple of weeks.
So now you’re asking yourself… so what’s the big deal? You punch some coordinates into your GPS unit and follow the arrow to a box full of McToys? That doesn’t sound like much fun. Well… sometimes it is just a box full of McToys (you know… the junk you get in Happy Meals) and sometimes it’s just a logbook, and sometimes it’s a history lesson about what used to be there. And sometimes it’s a great view. Lately, my finds have been MicroCaches. These are tiny little caches, about the size of a button, usually magnetic, and stuck to light poles, or benches, or whatever in parks and parking lots and the like. I’ve found two MicroCaches, and could not find two others. How do you know when you’ve found one? Well, once you find it, you can unscrew the top and pull out a tiny scroll of paper (that’s the log book) and sign your name to it. I hate these things… but then, I love the search…so I guess it’s kind of a love/hate thing.
I have a plan to place a geocache at Silver Moccasin this year up at Camp Travis. It’ll be the staff site. I’ll put one logbook in for SM staffs (past, present, and future) and then one logbook for everyday cachers. I’ll probably toss in some patches, pictures and totems as well. It’ll be a nice tribute to a program that has dominated my life for the past 4 years, and has such great potential for changing the lives of young men. To tell you true, it was Jared (our Senior Patrol Leader from last year) that gave me the idea. He’s moved on to bigger and better things, but I still think that it’s a good idea.
There is one thing that bothers me. I teach orienteering to youth groups on occasion. One time I taught a mountaineering club. That was scary, because, all I know about the subject, is what I learned when I was a scout, oh so long ago. I know how to orient a map, triangulate a position, hold a bearing, and read the contours on a topo. I’ve never taken a class, or anything. It’s a subject I like, so I’ve taught myself. So I figured that they (the mountaineers) would see through my lack of technical knowledge and kick me out. But there I was in front of a group of mountaineers, teaching away, and slowly realizing that these guys had no idea how to use a compass, and many of them could not read a map, since they all had very expensive GPS units. Is map reading going the way of the dinosaur? What do these guys do if their batteries run out, while they’re off trail? I’ll tell you what… they wait for some map reading freak like me to come and rescue their butts… that’s what.
So, as much as I love Geocaching with a GPS unit and love the technology, I think that way to many people have no idea what they’re really doing or where they are in the great outdoors.
But really, don’t be a muggle, try out Geocaching… it’s fun.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A Book I'm Reading


Last night I sat down to read, like I do most nights, since TV has nothing redeeming showing these days. Currently I’m reading “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess.
No, Stanley Kubrick did not write it, he only made a pretty poor film out of a really ingenious book.
Anyway… Last night I read a passage that I really had to think about. The passage is this:

‘Of course it was horrible,’ smiled Dr Branom. ‘Violence is a very horrible thing. That’s what you’re learning now. Your body is learning it.’
‘But,’ I said, ‘I don’t understand. I don’t understand about feeling sick like I did. I never used to feel sick before. I used to feel like the opposite. I mean, doing it or watching it I used to feel real horrorshow (good or well). I just don’t understand why or how or what – ‘
‘Life is a very wonderful thing,’ said Dr Branom in a like very holy goloss (voice). ‘The processes of life, the make-up of the human organism, who can fully understand these miracles? Dr Brodsky is, of course, a remarkable man. What is happening to you now is what should happen to any normal healthy human organism contemplating the actions of the forces of evil, the workings of the principle of destruction. You are being made sane, you are being made healthy.’

And then in the margin I wrote this:
Only God can make a soul and give it a conscience. Therefore only God can make a Man. All man can do is make a soulless Clockwork Orange. An automaton. Soulless, Godless, Spiritless… unable to do wrong, but also unable to love or foster the same. Is the Clockwork really a man?

In this case, and in the case of the book (read it if you haven’t yet) an “Orange” refers to the Malay word in Orangutan. Meaning something like “people of the forest,” and so Orange comes from Orang meaning Man. A Clockwork Man = a robot.

So, I guess what I’m saying that I'm getting from this book so far is that… we can teach our children to love, to obey, to be courteous, and to love God… but at some point we have to let them go and allow them to make their own choice, because it is that agency that makes us truly… human.
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