Archive for August 2010

The Game, the Hobby, the Family Activity – Geocaching   Leave a comment

Greetings All,

It was a delightful August summer day. Plans had been made for this day, my birthday (August 7th),  to have a relaxing day at the house with friends and family. The birthday boy declined the usually dining at a restaurant in lieu of a greater amount of time to spend with family and friends in a more relaxed environment.

The afternoon progressed and many guest arrived. Conversations began along with the cooking. The men seem to gather near the gun range, while the women stayed near the food preparations area.  When the time arrived, all were called to the food area for a prayer to bless the food. A prayer blessing the food is offered to our Lord, and the eating began. After the eating slowed, the arrival of a few gifts was bestowed upon the birthday boy. My mother had purchased a special item and gleamed with excitement.

I found before me a nice printed gift bag with white thin paper filling the top. In my atypical joking fashion, I thanked mom for the delightful bag and assured her I would put it to good use. She promptly said, “Oh, come on Jeff… open it” and gave a light punch to the shoulder as an encourager. I removed the white paper to reveal an item I have thought about for a few years but never gave serious consideration to. As I peered over the side of the bag, my hand drifted in the gift bag to retrieve the new item. The removal of my hand from the bag brought a “Wow, a new GPS.” from my lips. I scan the packaging and simply stare at the new GPS device for a minute. The appearance is similar to an iPhone, as it is slender and has a large screen.

Many who know me are well aware of the fact I have a bit of trouble from time to time in my geographical navigational skills. Some go as far as to say I am a charter member of the See America Unintentionally Club. Okay, there is no denying that I get lost more frequently than I like. However, now sitting at the picnic table and holding the GPS device assured me I will be able to turn in my membership to the SAU Club.

As many of you know, there is a sport (or game, depending on how you look at it) named Geochaching. As one individual states, geocaching uses multimillion dollar government satellites for a modern-day treasure hunt. For more information on Geocaching, go to the site and see how this fun sport works (www.geocaching.com).

After the wonderful birthday, the next day I torn into the package like a starving man on a Christmas ham. At first, the Garmin Nuvi 3760 does have the appearance of an iPhone; however, it does not function anything like an iPhone. After quickly scanning the owner’s manual in ten different languages, I found I did not need to waste my time with such trivial items. I charged the Garmin GPS and began downloading Geocaching GPS points. I wanted to see if this would fulfill the family activity section in which I had been searching for.

With the GPS coordinates loaded, I grabbed my vehicle keys, the GPS, and Cameron and I hopped in the truck and tore out. Speeding down the driveway at mach 1, the dust storm traveled for an estimated two miles. I hit the end of the driveway, punched the gas and squealed the tires. I gripped the steering wheel of the side-drifting truck, straightened it up after about 100 yards of laying black marks and I was on my way! I pushed a few buttons on the sleek new GPS and it began its conversation.

Cameron and I arrived at the coordinates, hopped out of the vehicle, and began our search. The printed form of the geochache stated the cache was a magnetic key holder. Cameron and I watched GPS intently. The dot moved closer and farther to our destination. In surveying the dead-end road, Cameron and I found several possible positions for a magnetic item; however, only one would bring home the win. Ten minutes into the hunt, an old truck approached from a driveway to the left of where I had parked. The man stopped at the gate, opened the gate and drove through. When getting back out to close the gate, a puzzled look came to his face. He glanced at me, glanced at my GPS, and back at me. He said “Can I help y’all with sumpen?” I told him we were looking for a cache using my GPS. He stated he did not know what a cache was but it was not down his drive way. I agreed and proceeded with my intense hunt. The gentleman drove away with a continued puzzled look on his face. After about twenty minutes of turning over rocks, checking in a large drain pipe, the cache was found on a metal guard rail. Filled with excitement, I signed the log, exclaimed to Cameron, “Load her up buddy! We are heading home!” I squalled sideways and made the journey back home to share the experience with my wife.

Now, some many weeks later I have found the entire family enjoys going out and finding a few caches together. My wife Dawn has even found it to be a great deal of fun riding along with the boys and I. My desire has been to have an activity for the family that meets a certain set of criteria. First, it must be cheap to do (short or long-term) if it is to be done on a frequent basis. Second, everyone must enjoy the activity and must enjoying interacting in the said activity. Third, the activity must be able to be completed by every member of the family so all are able to interact and enjoy the fun. Finding an activity meeting this set of criteria has been difficult. However, the search has ended with the gift of the GPS and geocaching.

Below are some photos of caches that all of us have found.

Cameron and Dalton hold a geocache

Dalton’s first geocache find

The trio out finding a difficult cache. 🙂

The Difficult Cache

The best part about geocaching is it is very flexible and caters to all ages. A few caches just Cameron and I have searched for and found together. There have been other caches where the entire family went after church and found a couple. The amount of caches to find is not set. If one decides to find ten in one day, he/she can. If there is only one cache desired for a brief time frame, one can complete the goal.

Also, geocaching is meant to explore the area and see new sites and/or learn a bit of history. For example, Cameron and I searched for two virtual caches on my lunch hour last week. One was on Lebanon square and had Cameron and I read about the history of General Patton relating to Lebanon.

It has now moved into our family putting out our own caches. I decided I wanted to put out a few and see how it went. I decided on a theme of Franklin Road to which I would put out a few caches down Franklin Road. I put the caches in certain spots where other caches are able to see certain sites along the way. In obtaining the five caches in the series, one will see the Gore Castle, zebras, beautiful country pastures, and a peaceful drive.

The next planned series are three extreme caches. The plan is to create three caches that are a 5 out of 5 in difficulty for finding. These three (three representing the Trinity) caches will blend in with the environment every well and will be very difficult. Why? That is part of the fun, the hobby, the obsession of geocaching.

Blessings,
Jeff

Posted August 29, 2010 by avv604 in General, Geocaching

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ESV Single Column Reference Bible – Cheap Alert!   Leave a comment

Greetings All,

Well, in the quest to find the one Bible I can settle in with it has been a struggle. I believe that journey has slowed for the time being. The current versions of the ESV single column seem to have better Bible paper and not a much bleed through with highlighters. So I decided to purchase one, but the retail price (even with a pastor’s discount) was too high at $80 for genuine leather.

In the quest to find a cheaper price, I came across a place selling genuine leather ESV Single Column Reference for $29.99! What could be wrong with this Bible? Well, here is the description from the seller (here).

Like New. Used Like New, no missing pages, no damage to binding, may have a remainder mark.

At the most there might be a mark on the Bible from a retail seller. So I decided to take a chance. Shesh, at $30… why not! 🙂 Well, upon arrival today I found the edge of the ESV box was crumpled just a bit. However, the Bible inside was still in the plastic with no marks of any kind! A new leather Bible for $30 and the retail is $80, that screams of a good deal to me.

Here are a few pictures of my older Cambridge NASB wide margin and the new ESV.

NASB Wide Margin – Notes; Compair to ESV Single Column

ESV Single Column and it’s first notes.

With my hand, dandy, 005 Micron pen – I am able to fit quite a bit of notes on a page. Plus there is the additional space created due to the verse format. If the NASB publishers would put their references on the other side, like ESV did, then I would have stayed with it.

Here is a picture of a few of my Bibles for comparison.

Don’t miss out on a good deal. Go grab a new ESV.

Until next time,

Blessings,
Jeff

Posted August 4, 2010 by avv604 in Bible

Canon SX120 – After Three Months   1 comment

Greetings All,

In response to a comment on the previous post about the SX120,  I thought perhaps I should share a few comments.

To begin, the camera has performed wonderfully. However, there are a few points to keep in mind if one is interested in purchasing this camera. First, the decent performance (comparing to my previous Canon10D camera body the performance is decent, not great. Compared to other point-n-shoot, good performance) does come at a price. The two AA batteries used by the camera are consumed rather quickly. I have found the times between battery changes is extended in using good rechargeable batteries. Currently I am using four 2000 mAh (milliamp) rechargeable Duracell batteries. I may get a few hours of picture taking with the camera before the battery light comes on, which to me is not bad considering the camera. My old Canon 10D had the extra battery grip and with the two Canon batteries I was good for shooting most all day. But I always carry extra batteries with me, just in case.

A side note about the battery light indicator. I have noticed that if I simply turn off the camera for a few minutes and then turn the camera back on, I am able to get several more shots with the current batteries before changing them.

The second item to keep in mind is the picture quality and settings of the camera. The pictures (examples below) are very good for this little camera. Keep in mind, I have kept the image size to a smaller 6mb. One does not really need more than this unless there is a need to print larger prints or display the image electronically on a ginormous TV screen. I have had the best pictures come from me changing the settings for aperture (dial left at Av) and letting the camera determine the shutter speed. I usually keep the aperture about 1 to 1 1/2 stops below what the camera deems as proper exposure.

For the picture below, I set the camera to minus 1 stop and used fill flash. The fill flash was also backed off by one stop. It is not a great picture but it turned out decent. For the blog postings I usually decrease the size by 50%, however, the below picture is a full size image. Also, I had the settings for the image balance set to outside sun and tonal values set to normal and the image is unedited in any fashion other then turning the image right-side up.

1.15 MB

Here is another sunflower from my garden. This flower was taken with the tonal values set to vivid and the macro mode on (of course).

1.41 MB

Third, one must know that the flash has a tendency to overpower anything close. Thus, the reason I usually leave the settings for the flash at minus one stop or more. As you can tell so far, I do not usually have anything set on “Auto” as my old photography habits take over (grin).  Oh, another side note.  The image at the top used for the header is one I took at Cheekwood in TN. Just to give a bit of perspective of what I use to do and the images in this post.

This next picture is where my youngest son, Dalton, wanted to wear my camo hat for fun. After putting on the camo gloves, I thought it might be a cute picture with him holding my .177 air rifle I use for field target matches. This picture shows how even though the subject is closer, you can still achieve a decent exposure with stopping down the flash. I cropped down the image just a bit.

1.14 MB

The last item to keep in mind about the camera is the image write speed. I bought a cheap 2GB card to go in the camera. That was a mistake I still need to address. After taking a shot there is a 1-3 second lag until I am able to see the screen again and take the next shot. I have never been a speed photographer so this does not bother me to much. Also, I did not buy a Canon 1D Mark 2, I bought a Canon SX120 … so I expect things to move slower. When I was starting to get into bird photography, yes, then I wanted to purchased the Mark II with the Canon 800mm lens because you will need the distance and speed. This is obviously outside the realms of this camera and its intended use. But again, that was understood at the time of purchase.

Other than these items, I have enjoyed the camera. In fact, every picture on this blog has been taken with this camera. So if a shot happen to turn out and look good, then applaud the camera. 🙂

Well, that is about it for now. If you found this post helpful or enjoyable or you have questions, please leave comments below. I am happy to reply.

Blessings,
Jeff

Posted August 4, 2010 by avv604 in General, Reviews

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