Posts tagged GPS

Rip van Winkle in Kazakhstan

I have lived in Kazakhstan since fall of 2007 and the farther away I am from my own American culture, the more I feel like a Rip van Winkle.  Songs on the radio are all new to me when I go home to Minnesota for a quick visit, cars change their style and I’m not up on the latest models, many people have seen the latest, catchy advertisements on TV and will refer to them years later and I won’t have a clue what they are talking about.  I’m trying to figure out what this trend in Wii is about, I think it might be a good thing.  A friend of mine from college said that these “digital native” kids who are practicing “Dance, Dance Revolution” (old now as of 3 years ago) or on “Guitar Hero” and other Wii games will be operating on us one day.  Yikes, that’s a scary thought!!! I think future surgeons should be practicing needlework or something more constructive!

Where are the baseball diamonds filled with boys and girls playing t-ball or softball or baseball?  Are the arenas for hockey being used to the max for figure skating competitions and hockey games?  In my home town they just built another big arena with the possibility of three rinks running simultaneously.  What was wrong with the one built by WPA in the 1930s and the other updated one beside it?  Ice is ice!!!

All these changes while I’m away in Kazakhstan and yet I think how the Kazakhs have had to watch the blur of changes whirl around them at an even more quickening pace.  They might feel like I do about the useful inventions such as GPS and people going as families to geocache.  I’ve spent some fun times with my nephews in the last year or more going on these treasure hunts using the GPS coordinates. I don’t think that has caught on in Kazakhstan yet.  In that case, there ARE real treasures buried in their soil.  Many fled Kazakhstan during the purges of 1930s and they really did hide their silver and gold in earthen vessels.

What’s most vexing to me is the name of music groups that my 12 year old nephew knows and I’ve never heard of before like “Tenth Avenue North” or “Remedy Drive”  Aren’t those street addresses?  How about “Superchicks” or “Kutless” or “Third Day” What are these names supposed to mean?  Other artists I’ve heard of like Steven Curtis Chapman or Chris Tomlin but not Jeremy Camp. I feel like Rip, that’s for sure.

I’m showing pictures from Independence Hall of photos from days gone by in Kazakhstan.  Kazakhstan has a LOT Of catching up to do and must be as bewildered as I am about knowing the latest in pop culture.

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Geocaching (Part II)

I suppose geocaching is for the yuppies to enjoy who own a Garmin GPS.  Also, for those computer geeks who live in the Twin Cities and other urban areas of the U.S. and Canada.  This phenomenon has spread throughout the world and there are different versions of it which started in 2000 after Y2K (remember that scare?).  The “Planet of the Apes” movie promoters began a kind of scavenger hunt with finding things from the movie located in different places.  Many different themes and varieties of geocaching, some are exclusively for kids, others are more challenging.  Needed: computer to check website for where the treasures are stashed, GPS and then good hiking boots to muck about in the woods.

The general rule of thumb for geocaching is to find the cache, replace something of equal or greater value in the container and sign the log book.  I had seen a name that had been written in as early as 2004 on one of the four places we located the other day.  Some are spoilers of this game who take the cache away from the location and then the computer website has to say that it is compromised.  Those people who do that are called “mufflers” if I understood my sister correctly.  She said that there is a city-wide family event coming up with a kind of competition to see who can find the most in the given amount of time. 

I think it is great that parents are doing this activity with their kids and they all LOVE it.  The good thing is to do these hunts in early spring before the leaves open out and the woodticks come out which makes it a bit more intimating.  How I HATE wood ticks!!!  LOVE my nephews, however!  Good work guys on finding the caches (pronounced cashes)!


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Geocaching with my “geek” nephews in Twin Cities

Getting out into nature after being cooped up in a plane or airplane seemed to work wonders for me yesterday!!!  What a very beautiful spring day in the Twin Cities to share with my two nephews.  We found four sites and the boys had a blast looking through the contents in the camoflauged container and signing their names off on the little booklet included in the ziplock bag.  I actually spotted the fourth one nestled under a tree when we went on our second hunt.  The names scribbled in the booklets are telling:  taconite, Momandson2006, timbrwlf, picke explorers , richrick and many others.  This has been going on for years and really picking up in other parts of the country.  My nephews just came back a month ago from Florida and they did geocaching there as well.  Looking at a map, you don’t see much going on in North Dakota or South Dakota yet but it is BIG in the Twin Cities. I looked at a world map and I didn’t see Kazakhstan on the website for geocaching. The purpose behind doing these treasure hunts and finding the stash using a Garmin GPS is toGet geeks away from computers and out into the real world!!!”


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Garmin GPS and “Guitar Hero”

You don’t have to leave the U.S. for long to find out how behind you are with the latest in technology.  I learned about the Garmin GPS yesterday from my 74 year old computer savvy Mom as we drove to my sister’s place, from a southern suburb to north of the Twin Cities about 25 miles away.  My Mom actually reads instruction manuals, she has for years.  Consequently, she has been rewarded with having technological know-how that leaves most of us in the dust.  For example, long has she known how to program t.v. shows to record on VHS tapes while she is busy out doing her many volunteer community jobs. 


What was funny about yesterday’s adventure was my Mom had capably inputted my sister’s address while I drove listening to charming “Ms. Garmin” computerized voice.  My two young nephews were reading quietly in the back seat. At some point, Ms. Garmin gave us some seemingly erroneous information or so we thought.  Ms. Garmin said we had about 8 miles to Exit 113 and we thought we would continue on Hwy. 10.  Reading the road signs meant that we were to exit right but Ms. Garmin maintained to stay to the left of the four lane freeway.  Okay, once we did that, Ms. Garmin started to say she would “recalculate.”  I should say, we were veering off on what was unfamiliar territory.  We’ve been to my sister’s place 100s of times but this eventually brought us precisely in a J-hook fashion and seemingly wrong approach.  We will have to look at a map to see how we recovered from what was an apparent mistake of the satellite and what actually exists on the ground with the change of exits.


Last night I also drove over the 35W bridge which had been quickly reconstructed over the Mississippi River.  This bridge caved in about a year and a half ago and killed about 10 people.  Harrowing experience for many who survived the splash into the river below convincing all of us that we should NEVER, ever take our bridges for granted.  We should also never take our atlases or maps for granted either but now my Mom thinks they are so “yesterday.”  Despite our minor miscalculation by Ms. Garmin, my Mom still believes this GPS instrument is the best thing since sliced bread.


Last year I had learned at another family Christmas party about “Dance Dance Revolution” which has the same qualities as “Guitar Hero.”  You look on the tv screen (see photo below) and you try to keep up with their version of what they consider music. You get points for how closely you can follow the pattern. My three nephews were having fun playing with Guitar Hero while we played dominoes and word Yahtzee upstairs.  Together, after lunch we had all played the fun game of Apples to Apples but it was a stretch for my 9 year old nephew to understand some of the words. 


I’m just trying to understand all the latest in technology and popular culture in the U.S. while away in Kazakhstan for most of the year.  Good to get these not so subtle reminders that the generation gap is ever widening on me as well.


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