Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Geekier Than Thou

I discovered a truth today, and it pains me to the core. Okay, it's not so much a truth as it is a suspicion. Apparently, there is a class of Geekdom that is a target of derision for even other Geeks. That's right, a Geek caste system. I've heard the sniggering and I've attempted to brush away the finger-point crosshairs from my chest. But I must face the facts - I'm a Geocacher.

Geocaching is a pursuit so pervasive and yet so shrouded in mystery, even Dan Brown doesn't know about us. But we're out there with our waypoints, our GPS receivers, and our pocket full of dollar store trinkets; all searching for treasure. We're right under your noses, searching through your neighbourhoods, and you Muggles never notice us.

In it's simplest form, Geocaching is a high-tech cross between treasure-hunting and hide-and-seek. 'Geo' belies the fact this pursuit is geographic in personality and scope. 'Cache' is a treasure chest of some manner - an ice cream pail, a jar, something that can hold items and protect them from the elements. Hence Geocaching has something to do with hiding and finding treasure chests somewhere Out There.

A typical scenario; Bob creates a cache and fills it with some treasures (doodads, geegaws, etc.), a log book, and (likely) a little written description of Geocaching. Bob then hides the cache somewhere in the world - literally. With his trusty handheld GPS receiver, Bob notes the coordinates (latitude and longitude) of his hiding place. Next Bob goes to a Geocaching website (try and registers his cache with some manner of description.

Now the fun begins.

Mary sees Bob's cache entry on the Web and uses Bob's coordinates to go off in search of the cache using her own GPS. It's not as easy as it sounds. Just because you know where something is does not mean it's easy to find. Mary risks life and limb to find Bob's cache and when she does, she signs the log book, maybe takes a treasure item, and then leaves a new item behind in the cache. In the final act, Mary goes to the Geocaching website and records her visit so that others, including Bob, can read about her adventure. In a sense, Bob and Mary have just played a variation of hide-and-seek, with Benefits.

Sounds like a laugh riot, eh?

As I darkly hinted, we Geocachers are legion. There are literally hundreds of thousands of caches hidden across approximately 221 countries today. In London (Ontario), alone, there are hundreds of caches. They're in our parks, off out walking trails, even out in plain site. And we're creating more every day.

Which brings me full circle to my suspicion. On a typical lunchtime walk through the downtown environs, I thought maybe a little Geocaching would be fun. Yes, Gentle Reader, there are a few caches hidden in downtown London. My usual walking partner is someone who, by profession, is a Geek of the computery sort. A fellow traveller in Geekdom, as it were. I was sure that this Geocaching thing would appeal to my friend. But in the thick of the hunt, he laughed and suggested this was too Geeky a pasttime, even for a professional Computer Geek. I think I even heard the word 'tricorder'. And the way he laughed..... long-ago childhood visions of being 'picked last' crystalized in my Mind's Eye. I knew I had slipped a rung on the Geek ladder.

But nevermind. I'm a Geocacher, and only one of many. We are Out There, you know.


Kid Dork said...

Geocaching, eh? I know that the staff on 'Knights of the Dinner Table' were huge into that, and used to run columns about all the stuff they'd hidden, causing readers to go apeshit as they tried to find the loot.

As for their being a geek hierarchy, I've always thought the geek women always ruled supreme, and the rest of us just grovelled.

Sheena said...

Welcome to the wankosphere, crazylegs. Nice to hear from you.

A friend of mine revealed himself as a geofreak a couple of weeks ago when we were travelling together and he had his portable gps on the whole flight. I confess that for a non-gadgety person I was utterly transfixed and now tempted....

Crazylegs said...

KD... Let me extend my thanks (and +5 sword) for posting the very first comment on my Vanity Project. And thanks for the mental jolt re: KoDT. I'd lost touch with it. "Roll for initiative, Monkeyboy".

P.S. Geek women do rule supreme. The rest of us are just noise.

Sheena... Nice to hear from you too (speaking of geek women...). Yup, I finally accumulated enough ego to believe a blog could be my gift to the World. I think I'll keep it going awhile and see what happens. But it will never hold to candle to your travelogues, which I do adore. ;)

Anonymous said...

Always been a geography hound. On a flight recently from Denver back to T.Zip, on a beautiful clear spring evening, was able to visually identify major midwest cities in the dark. GPS is neat, however, try working with it from a navigational standpoint and it is effectively deadreckoning in a straight jacket, when having to deal with such variables as wind and intermittent satellite catch. One scenario I recall while flying from TBay back to City Centre, an under inflated tire at one way point was the cause of an errant course input for that leg of the flight (hey, c'mon, it was a C-150), that's how finicky it is, which can be viewed as beauty or beast of the thing.....

However, when ice fishing on Lake Simcoe and the ice gives way, and you know where the skidoo went through, you'll know how to direct newly acquired CH-101's to your rescue.

TPTBO or RNW as you like.

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