Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April Mission: World Book Night giveaway at The Bridge

Matt: World Book Night was sort of… magical. I know that sounds lame but honestly for the first time I understood what people mean when they say that books are magic. We were at a free-meal cafeteria full of hungry, homeless people, and our table full of books was much more intriguing to them than the food line.  I was a bit skeptical and maybe even cynical at first. What were these homeless people going to do with books? I guess I thought that for someone who doesn’t have a lot, what difference is a book going to make? Why would they care about getting something that has no possibility of improving their situation?

Chris: Magical is a good way to explain it. So many things I didn't expect. I take a group to The Bridge cafeteria, a non-profit soup kitchen for the economically depressed in downtown St. Louis, once a month on the third Wednesday. It's a great place to serve, but it is work. I was expecting this night to feel like work. I was also expecting to watch hungry people behave the same around books that they do around food: a few thankful people, but mostly tired, care-worn stares.

Matt: I see now that was pretty short-sighted. I mean let’s face it, people like to get stuff. I think it was more than that though. Most of the people that walked by our table not only wanted one of the books, they wanted to know what it was about! Most of the night was actually spent vaguely explaining the plot to each visitor (none of us had read all three). And people listened to every detail. They made decisions based on what we told them. 

Chris: Their excitement was palpable. The place was transformed during those conversations. It was a dark cave still, but a light shone out of their eyes. Was it a thirst for knowledge? Thirst for 'something else'? Thirst for a connection to us, or the author, or for a peak out of their situations into a wider world of hope? The words of Henry Ward Beecher rung deep within me during those moments: "Books are the windows through which the soul looks out." 

Matt: Many of them became excited about the prospect of winning one of these books. As they walked to their seats, their longing gaze could be clearly interpreted: they were going to find a sticker! I think the whole night was a success. We lived up to the expectations of World Book Night by getting books to people who probably don’t read all that much. And we exceeded the expectations by getting them excited in the books. Not having enough to give to everyone made our books special prizes. 

Chris: Because we only had 60 books (20 of each bestselling title: The Book Thief, A Prayer For Own Meany, and Blood Work) for 200 people, we talked to the directors of the Bridge and came up with a plan to make it a game. We brought 250 pieces of candy and small packs of gum, placed a winning sticker on 60 of them, and handed them out to guests as they passed through the food line. Only about 20 stickers were claimed, and the rest of the books were given out to anyone who came to the table and wanted one. 

Matt: These people were accustomed to being treated the same as everyone else who came to the cafeteria. Each person gets the same portions, the same meal on their tray. We made quite a few people feel like they were getting something special, something that not everyone got that night. Sure there were a bunch that didn’t get anything, but since people shared stickers and books, I think just about everyone who really wanted a book got one. It felt pretty cool being a Book Giver. I felt really generous and was happy to see the appreciation on everyone’s faces, even though the books were not mine and didn’t cost anything. Overall, it was a great experience and I am officially a fan of World Book Night. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Geocaching pics

Pictures from Geocaching!

Latest update about the geocache we hid:

We finally got permission from Ellisville to hide a cache in Bluebird Park. Next thing we knew there was a problem, as indicated by a frustrated note on geocaching.com by a fellow geocacher:

Log Date: 4/13/2012
Found it, but theres SOOO many things about this that are completely against geocaching rules. Im requesting it be archived immediately and the contents removed from the location. Let me list the problems with this:

1. Its hidden literally ON TOP of the final for Bluebird Triangle, the best cache in the park. (which that alone should have been a red flag for the reviewer since caches must have a buffer zone of 528ft/0.1 miles from other caches)
2. Its not really a container, just a plastic bag filled with candy (which sooner or later will cause animals to eat the cache).
3. Theres no logbook, just a note from the cache owner that says "you dont know me!" which made me think this was cache was a joke but looking at the hint and looking around I realised this was the actual cache.

Thanks for your understanding, I'm just stating the facts. It needs to be removed from the website and the park, before other cachers get cheated out of the fun of Bluebird Triangle and before deer eat the Mike and Ikes in the cache.

The reviewer "Mongo" responded:

Log Date: 4/13/2012
Bluebird Triangle GC4E60 is a very old multi cache and there is no final on file for this cache. With no final there was no test to run against the cache to see that it was too close.

Mongo is sure the owner will see your note and will run out and place a nice container and a logbook. They are new to caching and it would have been nice to help someone out instead of "hammering them".

This cache was held up for a period of time while the owner sought and received the proper permission from the parks department.

As far as Mongo knows from the information received as is well with this cache at its present location.

Cache owner, we need a real container and a logbook. Mongo is sure you read the Guidelines and may have not understood this when you went over them.

Food in a baggie will not last and Mongo hopes that this cache will last a long time.

I responded: 

Log Date: 4/13/2012
I will check on the cache tomorrow. It was in a small Tupperware container clearly labeled "geocache" with a log book and small toys. No candy, no enigmatic note. It might have been tampered with and/ or replaced. Hopefully this is just a mistake and the geocache is still there intact. Standby.

Warlock rejoined:

Log Date: 4/13/2012
Hammering? I call it how I see it. Sorry if posted coords lead STRAIGHT TO A MULTI FINAL but I stand firmly on what I have said. If you break the laws, you are charged in real life. It doesn't matter how ignorant to the statutes of law the offender is. Placing a geocache requires a certain amount of responsibility, regardless of if the owner has 6 finds (in this case) or 60000. You can't just place the final coords to (in my opinion) one of the top multistage caches in the area and claim it as your own. I know many will agree with me on this. If my approach is unorthodox than there's nothing I can do for you. I'd be happy to show a new cacher how to properly place caches in conjunction with how the rules are laid out, but (as another supporting and experienced member of the local geocommunity said in an email sent to me tonight on this subject) if my great multi that this cache compromises was involved and gets miffed requiring archival, I'd be very upset. I am not trying to bully new cachers, and I would never deter anyone from the hobby, but this is the first time I have ever seen a situation like this and after reading several reviewer rules and cache requirement articles the opinion I have is that it's wrong. 

To which I replied:

Log Date: 4/13/2012
Way to freak out Warlock. Breathe. Take a tums. 

Look, Mongo, or whoever is reviewing this log, if geocachers are going to have a panic attack when they find out that this cache is relatively close to another (I can assure you it isn't 'on top' of it, or it wasn't when I placed it), then I will move it. I don't want to cause waves, or reflux. However, if the good people at geocaching.com don't mind an easy cache being relatively close to a final cache that not everyone finds, then I don't mind either. 

As I said before, I will check on the cache as soon as I get a chance to make sure it hasn't been tampered with. I'll remind you, what Warlock found is NOT what I placed. It remains to be seen if he looking in the right place or not. I hope this is a case of "the mistaken Warlock."

Hey, in the end, it's just a game of hide-and-seek for grown-ups. Don't want to spoil the fun.

I finally checked on the cache in the park the next day, and found it removed. I was honestly a bit relieved that I could put this hilarious adventure behind me. archived the cache (deleted it) with the following commment:

Log Date: 4/14/2012
It looks like someone has tampered with the cache. Replaced it altogether with trash. Since this appears to be the same coordinates as a final cache for the Bluebird Triangle, I am not replacing my cache and will be removing the Different Outlook cache altogether.

Hey, it's all part of the adventure, right? Makes me laugh just thinking about it. Seinfeld would have paid big money to make this an episode!!