Thursday, October 30, 2008

For Geocachers - My Car is a Travel Bug

A few days ago, I got and activated a static-cling Travel Bug window sticker for my car.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, geocaching is a great reason to get off the computer and go have fun outside. It's treasure hunting for individuals and families alike. It's for everybody with skill levels ranging from the wheel-chair bound to athletic hikers. Typically, you need a computer to get the coordinates from whichever website(s) you choose to patronize and a GPS receiver to guide you to the spot unless you know how to map coordinates the old-fashioned way. For most caches, the rule is that if you take something, you need to leave something of equal or greater value so there's something for the next treasure hunter to find. Many urban caches are too small to hold much more than paper and a pencil for you to log that you found the cache so you may not require additional supplies or equipment, but those who venture away from urban settings are advised to take the Ten Essential Systems, including a compass and map, like any other hiker should.

Travel Bugs are a little different from the usual treasure because the geocacher doesn't keep them, but moves them from one cache to another to fulfill the goal set by the owner. However, a vehicle Travel Bug doesn't require you to buy a GPSr or know how to map coordinates because it doesn't wait for someone to pick it up from a cache and move it to another. It is already out and about waiting for someone to only catch sight of it. If you spot a vehicle with a Travel Bug sticker, all you have to do is write down the tracking number that's under the bug symbol, go to, enter the tracking number in the box provided and click "Track" so you're taken to the proper page, click "Found this item?" and log in to record your discovery.

For further information, please feel free to check out Getting Started, Resources, the Travel Bugs pages on the Trackable Items link, and other pages at

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Playing With Water

I might be getting older.

Several months ago, I had the hankering to buy a few children's watercoloring books to revisit my childhood. Back then, I was never able to color inside the lines and painting was about the same but more enjoyable. I enjoyed swishing the brush around in a glass of water and swirling it in the pan of paint. That was the main activity. I don't recall how my pictures turned out or if any were ever completed. None of them ever made it to the front of the refrigerator.

In my second childhood, I'm learning that paper wrinkles up from too much water and that the depth of color varies by how it's applied as well as how much is on the brush. During a visit to Hobby Lobby to buy a dip pen to try with a new fountain pen ink I have, I saw that artist's supplies were on sale 25-50% off. Thinking that this is an activity I might continue, I bought a couple of instruction books, a set of watercolor paints in tubes, a small palette that folds in half and latches closed, a watercolor pencil kit with instructions for beginners, and a set of brushes.

Most of my time since has been spent reading the books and painting a couple of pictures from the children's books using a couple of techniques I learned from the instructional books. I don't expect to become a great artist, but hopefully, I'll be able to put a motif on my pearl white Crane's stationery to personalize it such as a small sailboat or a tornado or a cactus. Dabbing color in the impressionist style would serve nicely, I think, as a cactus flower. Anyway, it's a goal.

The truth of the matter is that I like to play with water.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Space on MySpace

I neglected last week's post to set up an account at MySpace. It's not as user-friendly as Facebook because your age and location and other personal information WILL be displayed whether you want it to be or not unless you know CSS or spend time searching for CSS code to hide the information. As a result, I invoked a woman's right to be perennially 29 years old.

There's not much there, right now, but you're invited to visit my space at:

I'm planning to use the blog there differently than I do here, perhaps for status reports on writing projects and such.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Financial Bailout

Watching CNN earlier today, I saw part of the discussion and the following vote that was taken that approved the bailout of the financial sector. The emails read by the CNN commentators were overwhelmingly against the bailout and CNN was prompt to present Congressional views that while they didn't like the bailout, either, it was that or something worse down the road.

Basically, I agree with those who oppose the bailout. To those who bought homes when the market was high, I ask, "What were you thinking?!" Only people with money to burn can afford to buy without waiting for a sale. Everybody else has to stay where they are or rent until the housing market swings downward. Those who didn't wait, got that for which they signed up. We don't need to bail them out from their lack of patience.

Those who got loans without knowing exactly what their future payments were going to be were just plain stupid. They may have thought they'd never hand a signed blank check to a stranger, but that's essentially what they did by taking out loans that have future payments that are adjustable. Why they never considered that their future payments could be too much for them to pay, I have no idea. I don't believe the rest of us should bail them out because doing so would interfere with their education. There's no better cure for stupidity than going through the school of hard knocks.

The money lenders who gave those loans are loan sharks and crooks. They don't need to be bailed out, either.

Overall, the situation is that of predators gobbling up the prey. The law of the jungle. The survival of the fittest. I wish it was a situation of the greedy being hoisted by their own petard.

So, why are we bailing them out?

Supposedly, it's because the ever-expanding ripples eventually touch everyone and everything in the pond. It's so the good, financially responsible citizens who form the backbone of America may continue to function. It's disturbing that those who haven't contributed to or participated in the problem have to bear the burden of the solution that may turn out to be nothing more than a quick, stick-on bandage.

What makes me angry, though, are people like Karen Trainer and her husband who simply walk away from the contractual obligations to which they committed themselves voluntarily:

"As a successful professional, Karen could comfortably have managed the higher mortgage payments her bank demanded.

Instead, she decided to stop her mortgage payments altogether and let her bank repossess her apartment.

Her credit record will be badly damaged by the decision, but Ms Trainer expects this to recover soon.

'Generally speaking, within 5 years you are about back where you were, so my husband and I decided we'll take the hit and live with it.'"

It's shameful that Trainer and the others who bought when the market was high and were able to make their loan payments are too avaricious or too short-sighted to see that their depreciated home values would eventually recover at the next up-swing of the market's cycle. All they had to do was wait it out instead of walking away from obligations that they were well able to meet.

As with bankruptcy laws, I would like to have changes instituted that will deter people of low moral fiber like Karen Trainer from taking advantage of the system and leaving the rest of us to clean up their mess.

My two cents.

Psalms 37:21a. The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again...