Soulful Birds

Birds are just plain awesome. Truly, I wish I could fly (this coming from someone who isn’t too fond of heights – yes I’m a strange bird – heh). These photos came on a much needed winter vacation to south Texas. Clearly, these travelers had the same idea I did – a change of scenery, no matter how brief be it a week or a winter, is good for the soul.

Settling Down for the Night
Sunset
Sentinels

In Which Multi-Million Dollar Satellites are Used to Find Tupperware in the Woods

Mankind. Humanity. We have come a long way as a species. We have traveled to outer space, and we have explored the depths of the oceans. We have created quadrotor robots that look like bugs but fly like synchronized swimmers.
We have even created what amounts to cybernetic implants (i.e pacemakers and robotic limbs like the i-Limb).

Truly, technology is amazing.

And I, for one, greatly enjoy the ability to use Multi-Million Dollar Satellites to find those ever elusive plastic containers hiding in the world around us called (get this) Tupperware.

If you prefer a more catchy name, I enjoy Geocaching.

You’ve never heard of that before? Well Tupperware is… Oh you meant you’ve never heard of Geocaching. That’s understandable.

The question to ask yourself: do you like scavenger hunts? If you answer yes, then Geocaching may be for you. The basic premise is that people hide things in the world. The “thing” in question might be anything from a mini M&M tube, to a 35mm film cylinder, to an ammo can, to (yes) Tupperware. In these containers are logs that you get to sign informing the next visitor that you were there. If you remember to bring some swag (you know that old silly key chain you found once, or that coin from France that you have no need for?),  you can even trade it for something else that is just as silly but new to you. All the while, you must use your ninja skills to keep from being seen – the whole point here is that you are trying to find something hidden after all; who wants to go to the trouble of searching for something that has been vandalized? All of this is tracked online through a free website.

Yes – I said the “f” word. Geocaching is free to play.

The real appeal, though, is not signing the log and tracking your find (though there is a certain pride you feel when you get to 50, or 100 caches found). Like anything worthwhile, the joy comes from the journey. I have found countless spots that I never would have known existed before. I have spent time with good friends digging through a bush (happily). Geocaching is another great way to bond with friends and family.

Another fantastic part to this hobby are the Travel Bugs. Travel Bugs are small items that have been tagged and tracked. They have goals, which might be as simple as “I want to see everything there is to see” or very complicated such as “I want to travel to London by way of Australia”. It’s fun to find these, and help them on their way. Be sure to log a fun anecdote about how you found the bug, or some other story that matches the theme of the bug. The owner will appreciate it, as will anyone else who finds and logs the Travel Bug after it leaves you.

And of course, you can hide your own caches in the world. Have a favorite spot you want to share with others? Know a place in the park across the street you can see from you window – and like to watch people try to be sneaky? Have a special connection with the place that you had your first kiss? All great places to hide a cache.

Now, with all great fun comes great responsibility (thank you Uncle Ben for making phrases like this possible). There are some rules to consider:

  1. Hide the cache better than you found it;
  2. Be like a ninja and don’t let the muggles see you at your game;
  3. If you take something, leave something in its place; you can always leave something without taking as well;
  4. If you find a Travel Bug, remember that it is not yours and you cannot keep it – be sure to help it on its journey; and
  5. Pick up trash! Part of the fun is seeing new places – no one wants to see an empty soda can in a park.

In conclusion, Geocaching is a great hobby. Give a try and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your stories. You can either add a comment here or email (thedingowashere@gmail.com).

For more information, visit Geocaching.

In Which the Super Bowl Really Means Friendship

If you were to ask me who my favorite football team was, my first instinct would to be to ask who the Dallas Cowboys were playing this week. In all honesty, though, if I lived in Chicago I would ask who was playing the Bears, or in San Francisco who was playing the 49er’s. I’m a strange bird for whom picking on someone is my way of showing affection, and I’m just not a big football guy. I grew up in a baseball family.

Every year, though, I look forward to the Super Bowl. I joke about watching it only for the commercials, but the company is the real appeal. I know some good people who are always ready with a joke, and I love to watch them scream at the TV and each other. This year was no different. Phil’s disappointment over the loss by the Patriots this year aside, even he had a good time. The game was fantastic and well played – the food was very good as well. Our host, Mary, did a great job. Even Monica’s baby was cheering.

This is my third and final football post of the year (maybe I’ll post another next Super Bowl), and what I want to say is this – to all my friends, thanks for the camaraderie and laughs.

Now, when is Spring Training? The Braves have some atoning to do for the September collapse last year!

In Which Matthew Broderick Will Win the Super Bowl

I’m going to go out on a limb here. The Giants are not going to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots won’t either.Neither, on their greatest day, can out-perform Matthew Broderick.

The halftime show, while it may be as entertaining as Janet Jackson, or as entertaining as the Black Eyed Peas, won’t be the victor. And as much as I am so very looking forward to the new Avengers movie, the trailer for that masterpiece will fall a bit short as well.

You see, there can only be one winner, and this year that winner will be…

Broderick… Broderick… Broderick.

My sister’s boyfriend’s daughter’s bromide’s (don’t ask – I don’t understand this word either) boyfriend’s dog doesn’t have to tell me that a car commercial which parodies the great Ferris Bueller’s Day Off will be the best offering at the game today.

If you doubt my prognostication skills, shame one you.  For your viewing pleasure, I bring you what will surely be the best commercial debuting during the Super Bowl this year: Matthew’s Day Off.

You’re welcome.

(You’re still here? Why are you still here? Go on – read another article.)

Peacefulness in Hill Country, Texas

As a writer, I draw a lot of inspiration from nature. When I look around and see everything that there is to see, I can’t help but be in awe. When I discovered photography, I realized that I had the perfect opportunity to capture images that I can later use as source material for my writing.

While the following pictures are not the source of anything I’ve written so far, they are very much examples of the type of inspiring sights I search for.

Peacefulness in Hill Country, Texas # 1
Peacefulness in Hill Country, Texas #2

I almost always take both a color and a black & white shot when I am out and about for two reasons:

  1. Sometimes, black & white can be more striking than a color picture, and vice versa
  2. Editing a picture on the computer somehow makes it feel less authentic (even if I’m the only one who knows)

This was an occasion where both are beautiful, and both convey the majesty of a small river in Texas.

In Which Golf Balls Might Explode

Knowledge is power, and understanding our past is essential. As is knowing the proper rules for golf during a firefight with the Nazis. After all, who can argue the importance of knowing when and when not to take a penalty because an explosion moved your golf ball while you are on the course?

Image courtesy of io9.com

World War II had a major impact on Europe, but the fact that the British were prepared for the coming onslaught is somehow reassuring. I, for one, am all for preparedness (I was a Cub Scout, even if I was never promoted to the elusive Boy Scout status).

I think the Richmond Gold Club should be commended, though perhaps the direction of their focus could have been redirected a bit. But then, the Axis powers had just bombed one of their buildings in a fierce display of anti-golf anger. Perhaps their ears were still ringing, causing them to focus on the finer points of golf rules instead of the safety of their members. But hey, what golf club really cares about its members’ safety, anyway?

(Thanks for io9.com for bringing this to light.)

Howling on the Internet

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