Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Our First Geocaching Find!

Was a big deal.  I didn't realize exactly how cool it was going to be until that THERE IT IS!!  moment. 

I thought the geocache was just another detail to add interest to a walk in the park, kind of like bringing a sandwich and cookie along would have.  Nope.  Whole different level of cool. 

This was a true adventure, a whole Hero's Journey, with the Call to Arms, the Helper, being Lost (if not in a cave) and finally Finding the Treasure! 

I don't have a GPS device, but my HP ipaq rx5915 "travel companion" has GPS built in.  It came with a program called TomTom which I've used sometimes.  I've never thought much of GPS since I like maps and prefer to find my own way.  But going to look for something hidden at a certain location sounded cool. 


geocaching.com had a listing of several caches only a few miles from us.  One was in a large park we were somewhat familiar with, and said it was a standard size cache (an ammo can) and swapping trinkets sounded like fun. 

I fired up TomTom and figured out that you CAN enter coordinate points into it!  The point appeared on the map along with a way to get there!  Okay, great!  Let's go find this box! 

I actually got miffed at husband because one fine Saturday he "wasn't in the mood" to go looking for a box in the woods right now, and refused to detour to the park even though we were all but going right by it.  I had to put my teeth together.  No point dragging him unwillingly. 

I had to wait pAtIeNtLy until he wasn't around.  Delays like that only serve to increase the want level by a whole lot!  Then the rest of us headed off with heads high and hope in our hearts (at least mine, the kids just went along for a walkie) to find this box.  Lucky thing Ed wasn't with us to observe and comment on the fiasco that followed... let's just say we ran back and forth like idiots and didn't find the box. 

TomTom does not work for geocaching.  It's designed for directing cars along roads.  It was obsessed with trying to get me back in the car and turned around.  At least the little needle was still pointing at a spot--  and I followed it, until it lost signal. 

I don't know what's wrong with the pocket pc.  It takes forever to find the GPS signal.  I have to start TomTom and get it looking for a signal at least ten minutes before I really need it.  It'll work for a while and then lose signal and not refresh for a looooong time.  

Occasionally it would refresh, and it was sending us to a point, all right-- the wrong point.  I cannot explain to you how that happened.  We were in the right park but the wrong end of it.  (I had some trouble at first with swapping decimal degrees and degrees, minutes, seconds.  Yet you would think if that was what I did wrong, I would have been even further wrong...)


HP ppc Amazon

We were looking for a boulder.  The boys thought they could find it by searching, but none of the large rocks they came across had anything hidden (except the usual things you find around and under rocks). 

Came home and went to the internet for help.  It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, but now I really want it.  I tried downloading different software for the pocket pc.  There was piles of free software that looked eligible, but some required the premium membership to geocaching.com (No!) some I couldn't figure out, some didn't work. 

Pocket Drake emerged as the winner.  I'm not sure if you're supposed to use a Waypoint to enter the bare coordinates from geocaching.com, but that's what ended up working for me, and "whatever works", right? 

I went to Google maps and got GPS coordinates for the various points around my yard so I could test this at home.  It worked!!  -- at first.  It found the spot (in the back yard), told me direction and range and then walked me halfway out there before stalling.  I stood in the back yard waiting to the extent of my patience, and it still didn't reacquire GPS signal.  Why's it doing this?  Don't know. 

Should I post on a PPC tech support forum and see if anybody knows what's wrong?  Or spend some money and buy a real GPS unit?  Or a geocaching premium membership so I can download the cache files and try a different application?  I don't like spending money to solve problems.  I want to make this work with free resources and equipment that I already have. 

I used Google maps to look up the geocache-- I'll find this thing one way or other!  Looked down from above with satellite view, and recognized the area where it was-- oh yeah, I can find that!  So, next time we went by there, we stopped in.  I thought it would be pretty easy to walk right to it now that we knew where it was, and I'd also give the GPS another try.  I hoped maybe when I was on the move instead of standing in one place, Pocket Drake would somehow motivate the unit's GPS to refresh more often. 

As usual, the GPS worked at first, showed a range and direction that looked right and counted down meters as we got nearer.  Then it lost signal, the needle disappeared, and that was it. 

We were still quite far away but I figured I could find it.  At the base of these trees is where I was just SURE the cache would be, based on my three-second, overconfident glimpse of the image.   But all the trails we tried led beyond those trees without getting near them. 

When the GPS briefly reacquired signal, the needle was pointing the other way and saying the cache was behind us.  That couldn't be right, because we weren't at the base of the trees yet!  And it had stopped refreshing and wouldn't show a change no matter how far we went.  So very frustrating!  


The boys explored every random direction while I fiddled with my gizmo. 


This is the Trapped in the Abyss part of the Mythical Journey. 

But it was at this point (of course) that light dawned! 

The GPS is trying to get signals from nine different satellites.  The reason TomTom always took sooooo long must've been because it was waiting for them.  One nice thing about Pocket Drake is that it doesn't wait for all of them, but starts giving results after only acquiring three or four.  But then, of course, it would eventually lose them again and not refresh. 

Well, in Pocket Drake, if I got back out of Waypoints, went to the GPS screen, turned GPS off and back on again, then back to the Waypoints screen and hit Compass again, VOILA, it woke up and gave a fresh reading.  Requires a few extra taps, and it's probably not the RIGHT way to do it, but hey, "If it's stupid but works, it's not stupid!" 

The GPS turned out to be right, the cache was behind us.  We had gone past it during one of the long outages and then lost faith in the device.  By refreshing as necessary, we were able to follow it straight back without any problems. 

Per instructions, I got within 10 meters and then started looking around. 


There's the rock, and there's the cache.  Can't miss it if you're looking for it!!  

I had thought the toys would be the least interesting part of the find, but the boys were just THRILLED with all the trinkets they found in there. 

Mike took a prism kaleidoscope thing and Dave got a gold coin plus somebody's pocket change.  We left a kitty ornament and a toy car, put the whole thing back together and re-hid it.  

Went home HAPPY and can't wait to do this again! 

geocaching6geocaching5 geocaching3geocaching4geocaching2

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Custom Quilting Templates MORE non-skid than OmniGrip

I found something really cool with ebay seller "425rnshim".  He cuts custom quilting templates, and the material he uses is MORE non-skid than OmniGrip! 

I've bought a 4" hexagon template, and a 10" square for trimming my finished blocks. 

The pieces come perfectly clear, I just ran a permanent marker around the edges so I could see the thing  :-) 


I know when you make crazy quilt squares you're supposed to make them 1/2" larger than you really want them to be, then trim off.  I don't like doing that!  Building in a lot of extra only to throw it away?  You have to do that if you're not perfectly precise... and I can't say I'm perfectly precise.  But with a clear square to overlay I can check and make sure I have the whole square completely covered, then trim around.  Very WYSIWYG and very cool. 

quilting-templates-from-ebay-1 quilting-templates-from-ebay-2

The nifty part is that the material he uses is MORE non-skid than OmniGrip. 
OmniGrip is supposed to be nonskid, but if you're not careful and keep constant pressure on, an OmniGrip ruler will scoot all over the place. 
These clear templates, laid on top of fabric, are going nowhere.  Even the slightest pressure is enough to keep it completely motionless, it's like they magnetize with the fabric or something. 
OmniGrip's nonskid is in the markings, not in the material.  The clear stuff Rodney uses is inherently nonskid.  And a lot cheaper than OmniGrip! 
He has templates with markings etched on them, too, if you want that. 


Check him out, here's the link: 


The Saga of Three Crock Pots

Email I wrote to Crock Pot: 

Your crock pot started on fire. It filled the house with smoke and the foot started burning. It must've been a bad wire. My 17 year old whom I had left home alone with the crock pot put the fire out. I am not very happy about this. I thought it was supposed to be okay to leave a crock pot in the kitchen? It had been on low setting for about five hours.

crispy-crock-pot burned black scorch mark on leg

Crock Pot Customer service wrote back:

Dear Janel,
Thank you for contacting Crock-Pot, a brand of Jarden Consumer Solutions. I apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced with your slow cooker and I would like to help resolve this situation.
We take these issues very seriously here. In this situation there are two options that we would like to offer you. The first being a Customer Incident Report. This can be filed if there was any personal injury or property damage caused by this incident.
If you do not wish to file a Customer Incident Report we would be happy to replace the Crock Pot for you at no charge. Please respond to this email letting us know what option that you are liking to choose, so we can resolve this issue as soon as possible.
Again, I apologize for any inconvenience. We appreciate your business and are happy to help if you have any further questions.

I wrote: 

Hi, thanks, nobody was hurt, my daughter put the fire out. We would like a new Crock Pot. Can we have one of the kind you can upload your own image?  :-)  
(Which I didn't know existed until I came to the website to complain)
Or the regular kind is fine, just make sure it's the large capacity.  Thanks, I appreciate it.

Crock Pot wrote: 

Thank you for contacting Crock-Pot, a brand of Jarden Consumer Solutions. I apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced with your scr509 and I would like to help resolve this situation. I will send you a new slow cooker, this will ship in six to eight business days, and arrive by UPS. You will receive an order confirmation, shortly as well as a shipping confirmation when our item leaves our warehouse. Please note that the slow cooker will not carry a warranty. We appreciate your business Janel and are happy to help if you have any further questions.

At that point they mailed me the most basic, cheapo, entry level crock pot they have. 

crock-pot-new-1 Classic

I wrote: 

Hi, I just got the new one by UPS, only it's a 5 quart and the one I had was 6 quart! 
I don't want one that is smaller.  The old one was barely large enough.  I think you should replace the one that burned up with one the same size. 

Crock Pot wrote: 

Thank you for contacting Crock-Pot, a brand of Jarden Consumer Solutions. I am happy to help you.  the model SCR509-A that you had was a 5 quart model.  This is a very comparable slow cooker. We appreciate your business Janel and are happy to help if you have any further questions.

I wrote: 

It wasn't five quarts, it was six quarts.  In case my eyes deceived me I filled it up with water, the new one emptied into the one I had plus an extra quart. 
Five quarts is too small.  I would like a six quart crock pot to replace the one that burned. 

Crock Pot wrote: 

Thank you for contacting Crock-Pot, a brand of Jarden Consumer Solutions. The slow cooker SCR509 is older. We are now measuring in dry quarts, not in liquid quarts. I am sorry for the confusion. We appreciate your business Janel and are happy to help if you have any further questions.

I wrote: 

"Sorry for the confusion?"  And that's it?  Does that mean all of a sudden I'm supposed to shut up and be happy with a Crock Pot smaller than the other one??? 
I think when this unit CAUGHT ON FIRE in my kitchen the least you can do is replace it with one "at least as large" as the one I had! 
If you don't have the same size any more then make it the next size up! 
And you know what else, I want one LIKE the one I had, which was white with a pretty design on it.  I don't want a stainless steel one. 
I just looked at the website and found this: 


That one would be acceptable. 
Are you going to make this right with me or not? 

Crock Pot wrote: 

Thank you for contacting Crock-Pot, a brand of Jarden Consumer Solutions. I would like to apologize for any inconvenience that this has caused you and I would be more than happy to assist you. The original unit that you owned, SCR509, is a 5 quart unit, this is why you were sent another 5 quart unit as a replacement.
However, I do understand that you are not happy with the unit that you were sent. I have placed an order to have the 5070 Crock Pot that you requested sent out to you at no charge as a one time customer courtesy. You will receive your no charge replacement order within 6-8 business days and it will come by UPS.
We appreciate your business Janel and are happy to help if you have any further questions.


In due time, the new one arrived, and it is the one I told them I wanted.  That's good, at least. 

I'm a bit less than happy with that "as a one time customer courtesy" which is code for "you're being uncooperative but we'll give it to you just this once to make you shut up". 

Less than happy that I had to basically yell just to get the one I had REPLACED, and not even "$50 coupon from kitchen store of your choice to make you feel better" which would have been more like it. 

Also, it can't really be replaced, because the one I had was made in USA, and this one's from China, and my kids have heard my opinion of painted glaze from China enough times that they don't want to eat anything cooked in it.  

crock-pot-new-2 5070

"Made in China"


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why No Pics from Wild Waves This Year?

Because I went down the waterslide!  For the first time in my LIFE! 

I've been to Wild Waves with the kids two years previous.  Both times I'm the person with my clothes on, being a walking towel rack for the others.  That's okay and all.  But last year a desire was born to go down the waterslide myself.  So this year I talked Ed into going with us (to be the walking towel rack) and I went down the slide. 

No pictures of this exist!  (which is a good thing)

The slides haven't changed from previous years...

This is the first one I went down, because it looked more gentle than the others: 

Wild Waves river ride orange 

It turned out not to be the right choice.  That's a big wide slide with tubes designed for three or four people, which are supposed to spin around and around all the way down.  The boys went with me, and they flung some random little girl in with us to make four, and with three little people and one BIG, there's no spin!  The big lady gets to go down backwards.  Hmph. 

Well, it was fun anyway!  So I grabbed a ring and headed for the other slide. 
 Wild Waves big tall water slides purple redWild Waves single tube water slideWild-Waves-2011-16 

The first time up was really quick, the second and third times up took longer because the line was backed up halfway down the stairs.  Still, didn't take that long and was HUGE FUN and very worth it.  I went down the last time in a double tube with Dave. 

Not that all of this was without conflict... Ed didn't want us to break up into groups, we had to stay all together.  Ed's the one with his clothes on this year, so that's that.  Mike started to get a bit impatient just waiting for the big slide over and over; he wanted to go to something ELSE.  I said TOUGH!!  I'm going down the big slide until I get tired of it, you can either go with me or stand by Daddy!   This is MOM DAY! 

The green spiral slides the boys liked so well last year were closed down, but they eventually got to go on a new thing that was rather like a short playground slide only perched eight feet above a deep pool of water.  That was thrilling enough, I'd say. 

Then we went to the dry section with the rides... still no pics, as it was doing the Washington thing on us and I didn't want to get the camera wet.  I suppose we all looked pretty funny walking around (the white ones of us being completely ghost white) shivering in the rain, having fun going down water slides.  Ed said he was in Nevada once long ago, when their water park was closed because it was only 80 and that wasn't considered warm enough. 

This pic from last year makes me smile.  It's the kiddie coaster: Dave and Mike are amused, Andrea is being sarcastic, Karen is making a face at Andrea! 

Wild Waves kiddie coaster

Andrea's idea of a coaster is the Timber Hawk, where you go rattling around a track at 60 mph.  Dave likes it too, Karen's about in between, Mike wants nothing to do with it! 

Wild Waves Timber HawkWild-Waves-53 Timberhawk

To my surprise, Ed said, "I paid to get in, that means I can go on stuff too, right?"  and hopped on the Timber Hawk.  That's the one I went on last year to prove I wasn't too old.  This year I feel no need to repeat since I'm only one year older than last year. 

Ed seemed to like it!  Unfortunately no pics exist  :-) 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Lego Kitty House

What a sweet little girl this is... the boys made her a Lego house, and she promptly got in it and zonked out.  To everyone's delight!