Dec 312008
 

Another year has come and gone. Was able to get in a little more geocaching this year than in years past. I have found 1901 caches since I started in June of 2002. This year is my record, finding 692 caches. Would have been fun to hit 700, but now I have a goal for next year.

It helped that I was able to attend cache machines (see note below) in January, March, and June. My 3 best days of caching (so far) were during these 3 cache machines. The Missoula Cache Machine pushed me to a new record of 200 caches in one month! Besides finding 91 caches on the day of the Missoula Cache Machine, I found 46 on the way there and 16 on the way home.

Other highlights of the year are adding Montana and Hawaii to the states I have cached. We were in on the Big Island of Hawaii for 4 days and spent most days driving around the island in a red mustang convertible and grabbed a couple caches each day. I also found my first British Columbia caches along the way home from the Missoula Cache Machine.

Cache Machines
Usually when a person goes geocaching it is either solo or with 1 or 2 other people. At a cache machine a large group, say 50 to 100 people, starts at daylight and attempts to find as many caches as possible before the end of the day (dark for some, bedtime for others). Even though 70 people may start out together, by the 3rd or 4th stop the group has dispersed as people make wrong turns, stop for coffee, skip a cache they had found previously, or just plain get lost, so that usually it is only 2 or 3 cars at a time pulling up to find any given cache.

With the group dispersed, if you do have problems finding a cache it is very likely someone else will pull up and double the manpower in the hunt. If you get behind, you will probably come upon a group hunting for a tough one, which you get to claim quicker. And if all else fails and you really fall behind, you can always skip ahead and rejoin a larger group. By the end of the day you have usually ended up caching with a dozen different groups, meeting a dozens of other cachers. I met up again with folks I had met 5 years ago at the first cache machine. And at the end of the day, there is a group dinner where you can swap stories and meet up again with the people you met during the day.

Any other Geocaching stories out there? Any other Tupperware Trophies? Continue reading »

Dec 282008
 

--Photo: Photo by Hans van de Bruggen--

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that more and more drivers are letting their insurance lapse or reducing their coverage as the economy sours. As you are driving, what are the chances that the guy coming up behind you does not have insurance? By not having insurance he not only is putting himself at risk, he also may be putting you at risk. What can you do?

Insurance companies in Washington state, like most states, are required to offer uninsured motorist coverage. In some states the coverage is mandatory, Washington requires that the coverage be offered but allows the policy holder to reject the coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage protects those in the vehicle just like the the uninsured driver had coverage. If you or a family member is hurt in an accident, if they loose an arm or a leg, or worse, your uninsured motorist coverage will cover you. If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, you only have yourself to blame.

Several hundred thousand drivers dropped their insurance in the past year as the jobless rate climbed, estimates a study to be released next month by the Insurance Research Council, an industry-funded group. Online agency Insurance.com says it also is seeing evidence recently of more uninsured motorists. It says that as many as 40% of callers following up on online applications had let their previous policies lapse, up from less than 10% a couple years ago.

If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, talk to your agent.

Dec 272008
 

I have finally decided to take the plunge and join the social media revolution. My first step was to start a Twitter account. I learned that it was possible to send a text message to [TextMarks.com](http://textmarks.com] after finding a geocache which would not only create a field note at Geocaching.com to help me log it later, but could also be set up to send a Twitter message to my ‘friends’ letting them know I found it in real time.

This was kind of interesting. Although it became real apparent that I do not cache near as much as others. Jon Stanley, (aka Moun10Bike or @moun10bike on Twitter), a cacher I know who lives over in the Seattle area, has had this same set up going for a while, and for every cache I might log, he had 5+ showing up on my Twitter screen.

I had moved from Stage 1, Denial, to Stage 2, Presense, of what Rohit Bhargava (aka @rohitbhargava on Twitter) describes as The 5 Stages Of Twitter Acceptance. But was there any other reason to use Twitter?

Before starting my Twitter account, I could not figure out why anyone would want to broadcast their activities on the web. ‘Going to sleep now’, ‘Had toast for breakfast’, ‘Dragging myself to work’, etc. just was not something I was interested in doing or watching others do. Since I now had a presence on Twitter, I started adding to the people I was ‘following’ so I could see what Twitter had to offer. Also, I had a couple people follow me right away who were watching for local Twitter users and recognized me (thanks @JeremyAsmus and @CraigSutton).

Watching the activity on Twitter I saw that it was much more than just personal status messages. It is a way to share information. As one low on the totem pole, I will be on the receiving end of most of the information, but that is fine. As a matter of fact, it is great. Hopefully what I contribute to the Twitter community will be valuable to others as well. I have moved past stage 2 now but not sure where I am between 3 and 4.

--Photo: 5 Stages of Twitter Acceptance by Rohit Bhargava--

Now I find, when asked by a family member what Twitter is, I can not give them any kind of answer that would make them want to join Twitter. Maybe that should be one of the stages.

Stage 3.5 – You can explain to someone why you use Twitter and give a good case for why they should.

As I use Twitter more I will hopefully be able to give a better answer as to why I find it useful. Right now I am in the learning stage.

  • By listening to some of the top tech people I can stay on top of what is happening in tech.
  • By listening to some of the top bloggers I can find ways to improve my blog.
  • By listening to local Twitter users I can keep in touch with what is happening around town.
  • By listening to some Twitter news feeds I can keep up on the news during the day.
  • By posting to Twitter I hope to contribute to the conversation.

I have ended up with 2 accounts, the first one, @YeOleImposter, is where I keep all my personal updates, geocaching updates, and things I want to send to my facebook account. The second account, @GaryPaulson, is my ‘professional’ account’ which I use to post things related to my work (insurance) and my blog. I am not really sure I need 2 accounts but I did not feel comfortable posting personal stuff to the tech gurus of the world :)

I am interested in knowing if any of you are using Twitter? How do you find it useful?

Dec 262008
 

--Photo: Car vs Pedestrian Accident--

It scares me as I watched people walk on the snow covered streets because the snow plows have covered the sidewalks with a foot or more of snow. What amazes me is that everyone I have seen doing this is on the wrong side of the street. Instead of facing traffic as they walk, they have their backs to the oncoming vehicles! Ignorance may be bliss, but I would like to have a fighting chance of jumping out of the way of a vehicle who did not clear his windows enough to see me.

In a pedestrian vs. vehicle accident, the police and lawyers are going to be the ones to determine fault. As pointed out recently at the InjuryBoard blog, Washington State pedestrians have some extra coverage that is not available in all states. If you are hit as a pedestrian, not only are you able to seek compensation from the vehicle owner’s liability policy, you also have access to the vehicle’s medical coverage.

If a driver has this coverage, not only does it cover the medical bills for anyone riding in the vehicle, it can be used by a pedestrian to pay for bills while they’re waiting for the case to settle. It essentially treats the pedestrian as an injured passenger in the car. Whatever medical coverage exists does not get subtracted from the driver’s liability coverage either. His insurance company may be entitled to take credit for whatever bills they paid at settlement time, but they don’t get to subtract it from coverage. Of course, accessing this coverage when you also have a claim against the same company for a liability settlement can create strange bedfellows. On the one hand, the liability adjustor has the right to do everything in his power to deny, defend or delay your claim. However, the medical coverage adjustor is supposed to treat you like any other passenger in the car, meaning fairly and honestly and is even required to keep any medical information they obtain on you confidential.

This can take the pressure off of settling a claim early just to pay bills and get you taken care of like you should be. As always, if you are involved in a serious accident you should seek legal advice.