We’re taking our grandson Quentin bicycling tomorrow morning.  Our friend Mary Anne is bringing along her granddaughter Jade.  To keep the kids entertained, I thought we’d mix bicycling with geocaching.  Turns out there are several caches near the park we’re meeting at tomorrow.

Not wanting to embarrass myself in front of the children (or the adults), I thought I’d do a practice run first, so this morning I took sightings on three stars, Sirius of course, good old Polaris, and (just for the sport of it) Achernar, carefully bringing each one down to the horizon, compensating for wind and magnetic drift, and (oh, right, I have no idea how to use a sextant, even if I had one) I looked up a cache close to home and punched the latitude and longitude into my little handheld GPS.  Much easier, though my inner Puritan tells me it’s cheating.

With the GPS on the handlebar mount and Q on the pillion, we rode the motorcycle a mile and a tenth up Catalina Highway.  When the bearing needle swung to the left and the distance remaining started to count up again, we pulled onto a side street and parked.  The GPS said we were within 120 feet of the cache, so I turned Q loose to lead the search on foot.  After a couple of false positives (which turned out to be rocks) he found the cache, a square Tupperware container hidden under another rock.  Inside were several small tokens and a paper log book.  Quentin took one of the tokens and replaced it with a new one we brought along for the purpose, and I logged us in by name and date.  Q hid the container back under the rock and we rode home.

Navigational expertise tested and proven, I fumblefingered coordinates of five other caches into the GPS.  These new caches are all within a mile of the park we’re riding from tomorrow.  I think Jade and Quentin will enjoy their morning.  Here’s our lad this morning, holding his find:

That's not an angry face ... it's a squinting into the sun face.

Well, now of course I want a better handheld GPS.  The one I have is a basic model, normally kept on the motorcycle and primarily used as a speedometer.  It has a very small black & white screen, doesn’t contain any maps (nor can any be uploaded), and stores only six waypoints.  I have my eye on Garmin GPSMap 62.  Any handheld GPS mavens out there?  Any suggestions?


I got up early yesterday morning and turned on the radio to hear the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act.  I expected the court to overturn it, and probably wouldn’t have been too upset if it had.  I’m a single-payer advocate, and the ACA seems more about enriching private medical insurance companies than about providing healthcare.  Had the court overturned the ACA, the Obama administration might have been forced to consider a single-payer plan, which in my opinion they should have done the first time around.  But the ACA, as flawed as it is, is better than no healthcare plan at all, and with all the forces arrayed against single-payer, probably the best we can expect as a starting point.  Eventually, I believe, American healthcare will evolve into a single-payer Medicare-for-all system.  Baby steps.


Time for some cynicism.  By now everyone has heard about the bullied school bus monitor, and the buckets of money collected on her behalf.  No one would have known about her — let alone donated money — but for the YouTube video, ironically filmed by the bullies themselves to share with others of their kind.  So yay for her, and stand by for a web redemption on Tosh.0.

But you know that by now scammers will be trying to cash in on this.  For a substantial cut of the sympathy donations you’ll get for whatever outrage you’re willing to endure on video, they’ll set the whole thing up: the attack, the videotaping thereof, the ensuing publicity.  I bet it’s already happening.

Speaking of staged videos, how about that jerk in Texas who taped himself standing his ground?  Asshole decides he’s going to shoot his neighbor, so he stages a confrontation, filming all the while, making sure he’s loudly saying what the gun magazines tell him are the right things to say (“you are threatening me,” “I will shoot in self defense,” “I fear for my life,” “I will stand my ground,” etc), and then he fires, killing his neighbor — as he clearly planned to do all along.  Here’s the good part: the jury didn’t buy it, not for one second, and he got 40 years.  I would have been happier with a life sentence, but hey, it’s like healthcare, you can’t have everything you want!

So anyway, getting back to the bullied school bus monitor, the scammers better work fast, because after the first few YouTube videos and Facebook donation appeals, people are going to quit buying that shit too.  So there, maybe I’m not so cynical after all.  A real cynic would say you can fool all the people all the time.

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