September 6, 2004

Busy Weekend

I’ll probably be swinging by work today to catch up on some stuff, but it’s been a pretty full weekend even if I spend some of Labor Day at the office. And I have at least one cache planned for later today, as well as the possibility of seeing a movie tonight, so fear not for my slacking.

Read on for Chinatown, a sequel to Asian spooker “The Eye,” the scoop on a really lousy Japanese film, a geocaching power-day, an offhand reference to Chuck, me falling on my ass, and the agony and irony of “Yu-Gi-Oh!”.

Friday

Friday was Boston and the Children’s Museum. We got there after lunch, but with plenty of time for the kids to enjoy the exhibits. The construction going on in Boston seems to have made it easier to get to popular locations like the museums. At least, in my recent experiences I find that the directions are simplified. You get off the highway and there you are.

The Boston Children’s Museum was having a sale on some of their gift shop fare. I got a fisherman figurine that will make a fine travel bug someday soon.

We’ve been to this museum a number of times and the kids love it. There is usually little for the adults to do, but this time we did get to see the japanese house. They have a house that they actually shipped from Japan and re-assembled inside the museum over the course of 6 months. There was a museum employee there who was able to give us a lot of details about the house, and answer our questions. Well done, Children’s Museum.

After the kids had had their fill (OK, we parents had had our fill) we avoided the 5PM influx of people and headed for nearby Chinatown. It’s on Kit’s life-list of places to visit, so we decided to dart in, look at a couple of shops and walk around a bit before dinner.

One shop had a number of DVDs and other media. While the girls looked at some pretty little turtles in a small terrarium, I picked up a copy of the sequel to the spooky movie Jian gui. Known in this country as “The Eye,” it’s a film I mentioned previously in comparison to Gothika. I’m reading variously that this movie doesn’t have much to do with the first one or is too similar to the first one. Conflicting reports. I’ll weigh in later once I’ve had a chance to watch it.

We stopped in at an Asian market to pick up some favorite snacks. Pocky, of course, for the girls and crab-flavored-chips for me. Maggie encountered “Brown Candy” which we, perhaps, should have bought just to find out what it was. (I looked at the ingredients. It was practically solid blocks of cooled sugar syrup.)

We GPSr’ed homeward stopping at Bertucci’s in Randolph on the way.

Saturday

Saturday was deemed a geocaching day. After another slow morning, I whisked the kids off in search of hidden caches in Swansea, Fall River, Dartmouth and Dartmouth again.

The “Boulder Trail” cache in Swansea is near a place I often biked as a teen, so it was interesting to go back there with the girls. There’s some decent climbing there, and huge boulders that are an immediate draw for kids that like to perch atop things. This is the area behind Case Jr. High. My mother actually went to school there when it was Case High School, if I remember correctly. There is a pond and a small waterfall. The girls liked it so much that they want to go back there when we’re not geocaching. We certainly will.

This was merely a prelude to the biggest cache of the day. After picking up an easy one near the North Watuppa, we headed for Fall River’s Oak Grove Cemetery for a task that Chuck would have loved. The UMD 2 cache requires you to solve a small puzzle before finding the cache, because the coordinates are expressed as digits found on headstones in this cemetery. The final question of the puzzle takes you to the grave of the most famous Fall River resident, popularly known as “Lizzie” Borden. I can’t believe I’ve never been to this site in all my years living in the area, but this is one of the fun things about geocaching. It gives you such excuses.

We wandered the cemetery for over an hour getting the necessary information. At about 3:40pm I yelled, “We’ve got it!” and the kids yelled “Feed us, you negligent parent!” so we grabbed some negligent fast food and headed toward the coordinates, which led us (not surprisingly) to Dartmouth. My penance for buying McDonalds food was to ruin my T-shirt with a nasty ketchup/mustard stain. [Useless JPB Trivia: Oak Grove Cemetery is close to the McDonalds where I met and worked with BriWei. Through Brian, I met Bob (B.O.B. Bob) and through Bob, I met Patti, his wife. So this McDonalds is obviously some kind of nexus. Enough said about that.]

When we finally made it to Dartmouth, we were way behind schedule and already tired. This was not a good way to start the hardest cache search we’ve ever tried. We trekked into the forest toward the mystery location where there was no trail. I wished I’d brought my machete (is it illegal to carry one of those?) a couple of times. Of course, for the sake of leaving only footprints (and caches), a geocacher does not clear brush.

It took us 20 minutes to find the cache, but seemed much longer. Along the way there were interesting sights. What the heck was that animal? A badger, to go with the many mushrooms one encounters in the UMD area? Probably not. But perhaps it was a raccoon, or some canine. I’m no forensic veterinarian.

Beat, we stumbled back to the car. But on the way home the girls urged me to knock off one more cache that I had already told them about. That took all of 6 minutes. Such is the variability built into geocaching. One cache makes you drive all over the place, take notes, and suffer sharp barbs. The next one is a (literal) walk in the park.

Saturday Night

Saturday night was fun, but only because of the company. That’s no small thing, but I admit to torpedoing the fun by suggesting a bad movie to lampoon—a mistake I will not repeat.

Mike came over and hung out for a while before Julie joined us. After some local Chinese food, we popped in a movie fresh from Japan. The film in question is called Cure. Lured by reviews such as this one, I thought we’d be watching a decent thriller with some lampoonable Japanese overacting. None of us appreciated this slow-moving, frustrating, mind-number of a movie. This is one of the few films that I have ever seen which made me murderously angry at characters just because they were so annoyingly boring. We were MSTing this film in an attempt to stay awake when we could have been playing a game. Lessons learned.

The end of the film is briefly satisfying as a character dies violently. I only wished it had happened sooner. I take it as a statement of loyalty that neither Julie nor Mike gnawed his or her leg off to escape. Thank goodness for Stoli Raspri. Seriously.

Sunday

Mike had crashed at the house, so we sent him capeward with a bellyful of pancakes.

This day was slated for a big family gathering in Portsmouth. We attended, and I snuck off to locate a nearby microcache. This is a very small geocache hidden in something like a 35mm film canister, or (in this case) a fake rock. Fake rocks blend in with real rocks.

As I walked down the beach in sandals, I ended up in the ankle-deep water a number of times. Not a problem. However, stepping on an algae-covered ramp proved to be a huge mistake. One moment I was sighting ahead, and the next moment I was looking at the clouds as I landed hard on my tail. The Meridian Gold GPSr proved to be water resistant—it got thoroughly splashed. Aching, I reached the cache site and crawled all over it with no luck. (At this point I didn’t know I was looking for a fake rock). I limped back to the party.

On the way home, we stopped there once more and took a second look. Still no dice. But I will be back there today and am confident that the third time is the charm.

[ UPDATE : The cache owner returned to the site to check on the cache and has declared the cache missing. Missing caches are called “archived” and may be revived some time in the future. But for now, this one is gone. So I feel a little less silly not finding it. Such is the danger of caches where geomuggles wander.]

Sunday Night

Sunday night I tried to figure out how to play the collectable card game “Yu-Gi-Oh!” with the daughters.

If the show is anything like the instructions for this game, lord help us. There are vague parts that one could drive a truck through. There are seeming contradictions in the rules. The frustration evoked images of Saturday night’s movie.

Eventually we will figure it out, but I fear the only way to do so is to watch kids in action playing this game. Here’s the irony. Both Chuck and Brian got heavily into the Magic: The Gathering collectable card game. Chuck no longer plays (I don’t think Brian really does either) but they couldn’t get me into it. I just wasn’t interested.

I’m still not interested, but if I want to play with my kids, I’m going to have to learn this inane game. Perhaps Yu-Gi-Oh is especially lame and Magic was a better game. I don’t know. I never got into it. But, boy, the collectable card aspect really gets on my nerves. My kids want to trade cards, but they don’t really get the concept of learning how to build an effective deck, which is very important in these games. You don’t trade from your decks. I assume you trade from your extra cards for cars that will enhance your decks. If you do trade from your deck, it’s only because you figure you can build a better one.

My kids don’t yet get it. But they still are interested. Explain that to me. Chuck was active on Ebay for Magic cards. I may, to my chagrin, be doing likewise with Yu-Gi-Oh. Saints preserve me.

But, for now, I am off to work. My bruise isn’t bad at all, and I feel fine today. None of the expected back pain materialized. After I work out, it’s a few hours of work before I wander off for some fun.

Posted by James at September 6, 2004 11:34 AM
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Comments

Cure was bad. Really bad. There's not much about "bad" to elaborate on. The review you linked to says the director isn't related to Akira K. That's a relief. It also says that the secret to the movie's success is the "power of suggestion." I would ask, suggestion of what? The only suggestion I saw was that it was a lot like suddenly discovering yourself on a really bad blind date. Or a visit to the dentist where you know a tooth might be pulled, but the dentist is being really coy about it and you're not even sure if you have teeth.

"Yu-Gi-Oh!". Well, the show is lame, I can tell you that much. It's "dark" and full of action, but lacks a sense of fun. If fighting is enough to make a show for you, then I can see its appeal. But I don't see anything else to like about it. The exclamation point in the title is misleading. There's no other excitement.

My BIL loves Magic. My sister played it for a long while too. I figure it probably has something going for it. For one thing, it's meant for adults. Yu-Gi-Oh is meant for kids, who have a lot more spare time than adults, and therefore more patience and tolerance.

As to why the kids are still interested - I would guess because their friends play it. That's a good motivator.

Posted by: Julie at September 6, 2004 12:42 PM

What got me about the movie was that even the characters couldn't stay awake. The guy who was supposed to be dark and mysterious or dangerous or going through some sort of adolescent crisis -- I don't know, take your pick -- was forever hiding in corners and dropping his head to his chest and answering questions with an irritable-sounding monosyllable mumble, so that you just wanted to slap him and everyone else for trying to talk to him. If he were my kid, I'd send him to his room.

Posted by: Maggie at September 6, 2004 2:54 PM

He answered ever question with a question. Maybe it should have been "the power of frustration."

You missed the end (lucky you) but there was a moment when you think you're seeing a ghost in some abandoned building, and even that turns out to be a drawing placed in an odd location... and it's never explained!

Argh.

Posted by: James at September 6, 2004 3:55 PM

Oh. The reason Chuck would have loved the UMD 2 cache was because he likes graveyards. I have to admit, this was certainly an interesting one.

Posted by: James at September 6, 2004 3:58 PM

The hipbone looked like it might have been a dog's. But it's hard to tell without a skull. Lots of people collect animal skulls though.

Posted by: Julie at September 6, 2004 6:00 PM

The size seems consistent with some sort of dog.

Posted by: James at September 6, 2004 6:11 PM

You've completely piqued my interest in geo-caching. I will have to get my friends up here to give it a try. Make it easy on me. What gps did you get? For once let me be an ignorant buyer. :)

Rui

Posted by: at September 7, 2004 7:09 PM

I purchased the Meridian Gold, manufactured by Magellan.

It's not the smallest GPS, but that's part of why I liked it. Nice size screen, decent controls, water resistant, it does very well holding the GPS signal (in my experience).

The only reason I might caution you is I have not explored the Mac compatibility of the Meridian line of GPS receivers.

Rumor is that Garmin is slightly more Mac-compatible, but I can't give you any details. However, for geocaching, you don't really need computer connectivity.

In fact, all you need for geocaching is any GPS device that is suitible for hiking. This page can tell you what you need to know in that regard:

http://gpsinformation.us/main/gpshiking.htm

Posted by: James at September 7, 2004 9:29 PM

Good post! Sounds like quite a weekend. Hopefully, I'll find some caches out here that are as fun as the graveyard cache. We stil haven't found what box Lynnea's GPS is in, so the fun may have to wait a bit.

So, see any familiar faces at McD's? :)

As to Yu-Gi-Oh!, it is targeted toward a slightly older crowd than Pokemon and slightly younger than MtG. MtG is actually quite popular from 13 on up. Chuck and I went to quite a few tournaments and were frequently annoyed to be paired against a trash talking early teen. They always got mysteriously quiet when they were losing. From what I understand, Yu-Gi-Oh doesn't have the same kind of nuances to play.

If the girls want to collect, you ought to get them card sleeves. They are pretty cheap, especially given the value some of the cards carry. And the girls are probably too young to trade unsupervised. There are too many unscrupulous people who would trade a handful of crap that looks nice for a single high value card in an effort to take advantage of those who might not know better.

There are usually online price guides that can tell you what individual cards are worth. At a minimu, make them aware of the different rarities of cards. Most games have a symbol on the card that describes the rarity.

Posted by: briwei at September 9, 2004 1:29 PM

Great suggestions, Bri.

If (when) you sign up for an account at Geocaching.com, let me know your username. Also, I have an idea for somehting I want to do if you and Lynnea get into geocaching. But I don't want to do it until you really have tried it a couple of times and decide you like it.

Posted by: James at September 9, 2004 2:05 PM

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