Morton Fox (mortonfox) wrote,
Morton Fox

Big Trouble in Little Lehigh Valley

I guess the chat feature now works in the https version of Gmail. It just showed up unannounced this evening when I refreshed the Gmail tab. So is anyone else using that or Google Talk? Look me up if you wish.

Borrowed from d4b: Treasure hunt or terror threat?
The story is a PennDOT worker in Bethlehem, PA (Lehigh Valley) saw a geocacher going for a geocache by the side of the road. So he went to check it out, saw the ammo can, and called in a possible bomb threat. So now the city is worried because there are hundreds of geocaches all over the place and each call to the bomb squad costs thousands of dollars. Egads.

The problem is we're just not hiding caches in good, sensible locations any more. Back when geocaching was just starting, geocaches were typically hidden in wooded areas far from streets, highways, buildings, bridges, and busy urban centers. So there wasn't much of a problem back then. Nowadays, geocachers hide geocaches all over urban and suburban locations too and that's where we get in trouble because people who don't know anything about the game may see a geocacher dash into the bushes or behind a tree and drag out a metal box. With all the terrorist paranoia going around, they'll think it's a terror threat.

So can the larger society adjust to the idea of people playing hide and seek with electronic gadgets and hidden containers in urban areas? Sure, but it'll take time. (And maybe a few CSI episodes. :) ) Until then, we either have to be a bit more careful in choosing geocache locations or we have to take greater responsibility in educating the public, including police departments, about the activity.

Okay, so that this doesn't turn into an all-geocaching week on this journal, here are a few useful items I came across:

1. Know Your Stuff Home Inventory Software: Free home inventory software from the Insurance Information Institute. I got this a while back so I'm not sure where I saw the link, but odds are it's a tip from The Consumerist. Anyway, it might be worth checking out if you're preparing a photo record for your home insurance policy.

2. From the unwieldily-named "I Will Teach You To Be Rich" blog, here's an Excel spreadsheet that you can use to keep track of calls to customer service. Personally, if I have a serious complaint, I write a letter. It's less tiring than waiting on hold for a customer rep and the letter itself serves as a written record of the complaint. However, I think this will be useful for tracking all other non-complaint calls too. (e.g. questions, change of service)

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