Month: May 2020

New cyber-hobby embraces outdoors: 'Geocaching' marries high-tech gadgets and love of outdoor recreation

Chances are that person wasn’t a burglar, but taking part in Geocaching, a new internet craze that combines geeky technology with a love of the outdoors. The hobby is simple – you buy a handheld Global Positioning System, then log on to www.geocaching.com. There, you’ll find hundreds of “caches” posted by people using internet monikers.

You punch the longitude and latitude coordinates into your GPS and navigate to the site and try to locate the hidden treasure.

Last April Ottawa hobbyists took part in Go and Get ‘Em 8, a bi-annual event that continues to attract newcomers to the Geocaching community. There were only a dozen people and a total of six caches to find when the event began four years ago, recalls organizer Tammie Winsor. Now there are 104 participants and 60 caches.

“We had to find a bigger restaurant to meet at after the event,” Winsor says. A few years ago “we used to wait a few days for someone to post a cache and go out and find it.”

Times have changed. The United States released precise GPS signal use for consumers in May 2000 and inadvertently started the Geocaching community. The first cache was hidden in Portland, Oregon in celebration of the change, and trend has been growing ever since.

“Now there’s 500 within 25 km from my house,” says David Carrierre, an Ottawa Geocacher since 2002. He is better known to the online community as “Zartimus.” The event is all about meeting the people behind the internet screen names.

“I’m always amazed at the diversity of people you get to come out,” Carrierre says. It is “a great combination of the love of the outdoors and the love of gadgets.”

Many gadgets can be involved in addition to the GPS unit, which costs anywhere between $100 and $600. Cache hunters arm themselves with Palm Pilots, digital cameras, and cell phones. Website users can have posts sent directly to their phones, then post back instantly when they’ve found the target.

“I’m sure that everyone who doesn’t know about Geocaching thinks we are a bunch of computer weirdos,” Winsor says. But she enjoys it for the hiking opportunities it provides.

“For us, we like to hike and make other people hike,” she says.

Geocaches can have multiple waypoints. Once your GPS guides you to the first target downloaded from the webpage, you’ll find a new set of coordinates to punch in and hike off to the next waypoint. Eventually, you’ll find the cache.

A mystery cache requires hobbyists to solve a puzzle before they can decode the right coordinates. Some puzzles stumped the community for months before being solved.

A cache must be a container with a log book and pencil inside – though they may not be obvious.

“I’ve got one that looks like a rock,” Carrierre says. “A lot of people don’t find it, they say it is missing.”

Carrierre’s cache for the weekend event was tucked away in a tree along the Ottawa River near Island Park Dr. A short climb up is required to reach into the nook where the container is hidden, concealed by camouflage tape. It was one of many that Ottawans were scouring the city for during the 24-hour event.

There is no prize, but some are still competitive.

“The intent is not a marathon,” Winsor says. But “some people are either competitive or they’ve misunderstood.”

Carrierre says he’s stayed up until 5 a.m. in past events to find as many caches as possible. Others are known to go without sleep for 24 hours in an attempt to find every single cache.

“That’s becoming pretty impossible,” Carrierre says of the growing event.

Others are less competitive, making a family event out of the cyber-sport. Winsor will bring her two-year-old son Finnegan to find a cache. To make things interesting, they’ll secretly take along a toy and slip it into the cache when he is not looking.

“Wow, look there is a dinosaur in this one!” Winsor will say to her son.

Garden Sage Takes Center Stage in Autumn

Garden sage, also known as the ‘turkey-herb’, is a shrubby perennial in the mint family. In cold climates, it dies down in the winter. In areas of mild winters, the cooler temperatures of autumn are just what garden sage, Salvia officinalis, needs to perk up its leaves and become an ornamental as well as an edible.

Spotlight on Garden Sage

According to proactive herb grower Madeline Hill, sage should be grown in a sunny location with well-drained soil in raised beds or containers and away from plants that need frequent watering. Raised beds eliminate nematodes and one can control pH more easily. Sage prefers a pH between 6 and 7. By keeping sage with other xeriscaping plants, the risk of root rot, crown rot and fungal leaf disease is reduced.

Sage may be grown from seed, cuttings, division, or layering. Sage seed is sown in early spring and germinates in 14-18 days depending upon soil and temperature conditions. Sage matures in 75 days. Stem cuttings can be made from spring through fall. Think ahead to make enough cuttings to give to Thanksgiving guests. Divisions can be made in spring. Older woody stems that bend toward the ground are good candidates for layering.

Herb grower Jim Long maintains that we recycle the same herbal flavors and scents from the “beginning of thyme” by propagating sage and other herbs by cuttings and division. Therefore, we taste the same flavors our ancestors tasted long ago.

When harvesting herbs, Hill applies the rule of thirds: harvest no more than a third of the leaves. After the spring blooming period, cut back a few stems to prompt new basal growth. Mature sage plants become 2’-3’ high and as wide. One or two garden sages provide a generous supply for a family.

Landscape Uses of Garden Sage

Horticulturist Jim Wilson first grew sage and other herbs as a business, selling his herbs to restaurants. His focus changed to the landscape potential of herbs. He saw the spreading habit of sage, its grey-green foliage color, pebbled leaf surface, and lavender to purple flowers as attributes earning ornamental landscape status.

Assuming the role of a talent agent for herbs in the landscape, he recommended sage in containers, along garden paths, as edging plants for borders, in mixed perennial borders, and entwined in knot gardens.

Garden Sage Understudies

There are a number of extraordinary varieties of garden sage, including:

  • ‘Berggarten’ – broader oval grey-green leaves 3” long, blue flowers, compact mounded habit
  • ‘Icterina’- golden variegated sage and lavender-purple flower spikes
  • ‘Purpurascens’- green leaves interspersed with steely purple leaves and lavender-purple flower spikes
  • ‘Tricolor’- variegated leaves with white and purple and lavender-blue flowers

These cultivar understudies substitute for Salvia officinalis in cooking but bring the same flavor and pungency to food as the original. Garden sages season poultry, pork, lamb, sausage, fish, stuffing, eggs, butter and cheese spreads, apple dishes, mushrooms, vinegars, dry bean dishes, stews, soups, breads, muffins, and tea.

The flavor and culinary versatility of sage make it a cornerstone in the herb and kitchen garden. Once fresh sage is used in recipes, store bought containers of dried or powdered sage taste like herbal ashes.

While sage enjoys a long run in your garden, share the cuttings and divisions of the “turkey-herb” with a larger audience like your ancestors did.

Turn Hobbies into Extra Cash Online: Learn How to Earn Money Using the Internet

Just about everyone is searching these days for ways to make a little extra cash. Finding the right venue is easy for those who already enjoy hobbies like photography, crafting, knitting, doodling, and writing. All that is needed is access to the internet and the ability to collect money. In the following examples a website or HTML knowledge is not needed to begin selling right away.

Three Companies Provide Easy Ways to Make Money Online

Companies like www.etsy.com, www.istockphoto.com and www.cafepress.com are always looking for hobbyists and those interested in making extra cash online to join their communities. These companies provide the online shopping cart and in some cases a personal website and URL at no charge. They also do all the promotion and advertising online so that all the seller has to do is continue to provide their products or ideas to sell and collect money.

Etsy.com a Place for Crafters to Sell Online

Etsy.com is supportive community of crafters that create and sell everything from hand made paper, dolls, knit items, jewelry, pottery, baked goods and much more! Etsy provides a simple website and URL that can be used to promote the seller’s products for free. Sellers are responsible for keeping their site updated, and handling shipping and shipping charges. Etsy costs nothing but a small percentage of the price when a sale is made.

Amateur Photographers Make Residual Income at Istock.com

Istock.com provides downloadable photos, illustrations, Flash, video and audio files online. It’s easy to use interface, inexpensive prices and excellent search engine make it the preferred stock company for thousands of users every day. New applicants must upload three of their top photos and go through a stringent screening process typically taking three weeks or more. Once accepted, however, there is no limit to how much a photographer can make.

Many photographers have made Istock their full time job just by taking photos like the ones listed here. These are just some of the preferred photo themes that are in great demand at Istock:

 

  • Corporate Shots: anyone in a suit and in particular groups of people in suits.
  • Action Sports: cycling, soccer, football, baseball, you name it, they need it.
  • Holiday & Seasonal Themes: all holiday themed ideas, but well in advance of the holiday.
  • Concept Stock: metaphors and conceptual ideas. Usually staged shots work well.

Doodlers Can Earn Revenue Selling Shirts, Mugs, Hats, Cards and More

For those who like to doodle or write clever sayings making money online is now possible. Cafepress will put anything on t-shirts, posters, mugs, bumper stickers and more, and also handle the credit card processing and shipping. A free website is provided that the seller can use to promote products, but Cafepress does everything else. All the seller needs to do is keep those ideas coming, and collect a check.

Hobby’s Can Provide the Means to Make Extra Cash Online

These are just a few of the ways that hobbyists can turn their passion into extra cash using the internet. As the web expands and grows and people from all walks of life continue to search for products and services online, the potential to make money online by utilizing one’s own talents and passions will only increase. The sky is the limit for those with the vision and of course a hobby or two.

Winter Driving Tips: Vehicle Safety Guide for Ice and Snow

For drivers those who live in areas where ice and snow are problematic, preparing for a winter drive can be tricky business. Ideally, a person should aim to stay off the roads altogether amidst harsh weather conditions. When this isn’t possible, certain safety tips should be applied.

Before even getting into the vehicle, drivers should make sure to clear all snow from the roof, hood, windshield, windows, trunks and tail lights and headlights. Clearing just enough to see through the windshield is not enough. All windows should be cleared for full visibility; snow on the rooftop should be clear to ensure it doesn’t collapse onto the windows and obstruct vision; and snow should be cleared from the headlights and tail lights to ensure the car is visible to others.

When driving in snow and ice, drivers should be weary of hills. Drivers should remember that when driving in snow, going downhill can be trickier than going uphill. Keeping a certain amount of momentum can be necessary when driving uphill. However, when driving downhill, proceed with caution. It’s easy to lose control of where the vehicle will end up.

Anticipation is key. Adjusting based on where the car might be headed 10 seconds ahead of time can be a significant factor for a driver to stay out of a ditch. For instance, if the driver sees a sharp turn with a lot of ice, he or she should take the turn with caution or avoid it if possible.

Avoid abrupt turns or abrupt braking. Taking a turn too sharply, or braking too quickly and abruptly can cause a loss of control for the driver. Also, it can help for the driver to put the car in neutral before braking, since neutral doesn’t pull the car forward like having it in drive. This can help the car come to a fully controlled stop if conditions are severe.

 

Ensuring one has appropriate emergency supplies can be a life-saving practice. Ideally, these items would be together, perhaps in a bag of some sort, and would be easy to access in an emergency. The trunk is an ideal spot.

For Safer Driving

  • Chains
  • Snow shovel and scraper
  • Sand or kitty litter for traction

If pushing a stuck car out of snow, drivers should remember to rock the car gently in order to build momentum. Also, the driver should be careful about spinning out too much, as it might simply dig him or her deeper into the snow.

In the case of ice driving, remember to keep speeds low and to avoid sharp turns or abrupt breaking.

In Case of an Emergency

  • Booster cables
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Flares or reflectors
  • First Aid Kit
  • Exterior windshield cleaner
  • Bright cloth

Drivers should be sure to replace batteries periodically.

Survival Supplies in Case of an Emergency

  • Extra warm clothes
  • At least two blankets, and/or sleeping bag
  • High calorie, non-perishable food (including can opener if necessary)
  • Cloth/paper towels
  • Water

Being prepared can mean the difference between life or death. That also means checking weather forecasts in advance.

 

Ways to Earn Money From a Hobby: Making Money From Hobbies Can Be a Useful Income Stream

There are many different hobbies, from birdwatching to metal detecting with much in between. Hobbies can vary from a vague interest, through to an all consuming passion. One common feature of a hobby, however is that it is likely to cost money. Whether the hobby requires expensive equipment, costly supplies, or simply a few magazines or publications to keep up to date with latest developments there is often a cost involved. Making a few dollars from a hobby is a useful aspiration. This is a great way to fund a hobby and provide enough money for new supplies and is also potentially the first step on a career.

There are many ways of earning money from your hobby and these include:

Selling Unwanted Magazines, Books and Other Supplies

Thanks to websites such as eBay and Craigslist, there is a huge market place for specialist supplies. Whereas at one time a few old magazines would have had no value, today with the opportunity to sell to the whole world, those old magazines that have been cluttering up the cupboard may well turn out to have a value. Even if the value is very small, this is still a bit of extra money that can be put towards ya hobby.

Speaking and Lecturing Engagements

Many clubs and organizations actively seek speakers to talk on a whole range of subjects and these groups will often pay for time and expenses. These include specialist groups or perhaps just associations of like minded people who put on regular activities for its members. Although public speaking isn’t for everyone, most experienced speakers will confirm that it is so much easier to engage an audience when talking about a subject that someone is passionate about, as this enthusiasm shines through. A good way to gain experience of talking about a hobby is to volunteer to talk at hospitals, church groups, residential homes and other organizations.

Run Classes

Running regular classes can be hard work, but it can also be financially rewarding. Many enthusiasts run classes and workshops and find the combined benefit of an income plus the sharing of knowledge with other people extremely beneficial. The Internet has also opened up the opportunity for running online classes and workshops. This is becoming increasingly popular and online workshops and classes can be found on a wide variety of subjects.

Tours and Excursions

Many specialist tours and excursions have experts as part of the team. A bird watching tour, for instance may have an expert birder to talk to and help the guests, or a local history excursion may want someone who is an authority on the subject to help. This type of assignment can vary from a couple of hours locally through to an all expenses paid cruise!

Writing

A great way to make some money from a hobby is to write about it. There is a large market place for well written articles including specialist magazines, websites, books and ‘new generation’ publishing opportunities such as e-books.

Making money from a hobby isn’t always important, as the satisfaction of learning and getting engrossed in a subject is often reward in its self. There is no doubt, however, that a bit of extra money is always useful!