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Last weekend Avagdu, HatterOfMaddnesz, and I loaded up our packs and went for a jaunt in the Chuckanuts. The hike in was about 6 miles, with an elevation gain of something on the order of 1,600 feet. (In the planning stage, I had told them to expect 7 miles and 500 feet. I suppose next time I should look at the map, rather than relying on memory.)

Avagdu and HatterOfMaddnesz claimed that this was the longest hike that they had done in a while, but they both pulled through. Avagdu used the opportunity to field-test his INCH Bag, which was quite heavy. It gave him a hard time. I think he’ll be shedding some of the redundancy the next time around. Certainly, we all learned something.

We spent two nights at a lake and took a hike up to a ridge that gave views of Mt. Baker to the east and the San Juan Islands to the west. (I took a nap.) My camera battery died soon after setting up camp the first night, so pictures are sparse.

Avagdu and HatterOfMaddnesz on the Trail

(Avagdu has recently released his video of this event.)

RantMedia Independent Cell: WA

Last Saturday, I took a train into Seattle to meet up with some of the members of RantMedia’s Washington cell. In attendance were OneeyedElf1, SideSlide, HatterOfMaddnesz, Avagdu, myself, and another who I will dub PlantGirl.

OneeyedElf1 was the first to arrive at Bauhaus Books & Coffee. I got in a bit past noon, after walking the few blocks from the train station. Neither of us had seen or met SideSlide yet, but, soon thereafter, a fellow walked in with a Maxpedition Versipack and we figured that must be him. OneeyedElf1 and I were both sporting our Rant 10th Anniversary shirts, which attracted SideSlide to our place at the bar. He introduced us to PlantGirl, who was not familiar with RantMedia but had consented to joining us on our exploits, and we moved to a table upstairs.

We talked about the various things that people like us talk about and SideSlide prepared for the day’s main activity: geocaching. SideSlide was the most experienced geocacher in our group – and the most prepared – so he took the lead.

SideSlide's Gear

After a while of sitting around, OneeyedElf1 managed to contact Avagdu, who informed us that he would be late (some nonsense about not realizing about what day it was). None of us had contact information for HatterOfMaddnesz, but we thought that there was a good chance that he would be carpooling with Avagdu, so we decided to start the adventures without them. SideSlide selected the first target.

Outside the coffee shop, SideSlide, PlantGirl, and myself waited for OneeyedElf1 to move his car before we all took off.

OneeyedElf1, SlideSide, and PlantGirl

We knew this first cache was near REI, so we headed in that direction. As we got close, SideSlide consulted his GPS.

8ft to Target

The GPS indicated that the cache was probably somewhere in the bushes, so we all dived in. PlantGirl was the one who found it. This first cache was a micro, which is very small. Inside, was a list of those who had previously located the cache.

Target 1

We all signed our names and returned the cache, after which we ventured into REI to inspect the gear. They didn’t have what I was looking for, so I left empty-handed. SideSlide bought an MSR Dromlite bag and PlantGirl picked up one of those CamelBak water bottles.

While inside REI, OneeyedElf1 and I discovered that we both have Atwood Tactical Whistles on our keychains (though his is titanium, while I have one of the older stainless steel models).

At the checkout stand, we had another obligatory wog moment when I noticed what SideSlide was paying out of. “Hey, is that a Spec-Ops wallet,” I asked, while brandishing my own for him to see. (If this doesn’t happen, you’re not at a RantMeet.)

Back outside, we located the next target and set off.

PlantGirl, SideSlide, and OneeyedElf1

This cache was in the neighboring community garden and was located by SideSlide.

Before heading to the next cache, SideSlide used the public restroom. When he returned, he digged into his bag, revealing that all important piece of kit: baby wipes.

SideSlide's Babywipes

After this, we heading back across i-5 in search of the third cache. It was more difficult to find, as it was a nano cache, which is very, very small.

Target 3

Rolled up inside was a piece of appropriately small paper. We signed our names and moved on.

Signing the Cache

The fourth cache was just down the hill from the previous one, but was the most difficult yet to locate. The GPS first insisted that it was almost right on i-5, so we looked there first.

SideSlide and OneeyedElf1 Consult the GPS

But it soon became apparent that the cache was actually located on the other side of the street in some rocks. We searched for a while but remained unsuccessful, so SideSlide decoded the hint.

Decoding the Hint

This didn’t help much. We continued to search unsuccessfully until OneeyedElf1 pulled out his phone and found a picture of where the cache was hidden.

Finally, we found the cache (in a place that we had previously looked). It was in an old ziploc bag which we replaced with a new one and returned to its hiding spot.

During all of this, Avagdu had called OneeyedElf1 to inform him that he was in town. We didn’t know how to direct him to where we were, so we decided to walk back to Bauhaus and meet him there. When we arrived, we found both Avagdu and HatterOfMaddnesz sipping coffee.

HatterOfMaddnesz and Avagdu

We talked a bit and in a few minutes, the table was cluttered with multiple GPS systems, compasses, knifes, and lighters.

After HatterOfMaddnesz finished his drink, we decided to go in search of food. Our first attempt proved futile, as the place was not serving food for another hour, so we ventured on in search of another restaurant.

PlantGirl, OneeyedElf1, SideSlide, and Avagdu

Eventually we found a bar that served pizza, which was good enough for our tastes. We ordered two larges and spent about an hour discussing various subjects and sharing more gear. Most of the excitement occurred on Avagdu’s part. He passed his fire making kit to SideSlide for inspection, which SideSlide promptly dropped directly into his beer. Luckily, Avagdu’s kit was waterproof. A while later, Avagdu reached for a slice of pizza. When he lifted the piece, all the toppings fell off onto the plate. This was dubbed Pizza Fail.

As we left the bar, Avagdu borrowed PlantGirl’s purse for a glamour shot and to demonstrate the latest fashion in tactical EDC bags.

After a quick trip into a drugstore in search of batteries for the GPS, we started to walk down the hill, in the direction of Avagdu’s car and the next cache.

Plantgirl and Avagdu

Avagdu had to plug the meter at his parking spot. When we reached his car, we spotted a flyer on the windshield that appeared to be a ticket, but, upon closer inspection, proved to be an advertisement.

After plugging the meter, we went off in search of the next cache. This one proved to be the most difficult to find, but it was eventually found by PlantGirl. After finally locating it, the sun was almost set and we began to head downtown in an attempt to locate the final cache. We did not have coordinates for this final cache, but instead had been provided with a series of puzzles to crack. I had to start the trek back to the train station before we could solve all the puzzles and locate the cache, so I don’t know if that search was successful.

All my photos from the meet are on flickr. Feel free to remix.

RantMedia 10th Anniversary

I finally got around to uploading my photos and video from the RantMedia 10th Anniversary in Vancouver over the first weekend of the new year.

We had a tendency to hang out in dark places – mostly alternating between Subeez, Vancity Theatre, and Sanctuary – so none of the pictures turned out to be any kind of decent, but there you have it.

The live Afternow (which kicks off a brand new season) was certainly pant-wetting material, but, for me, the highlight must be dinner the night before. The group included Avagdu, Hatterofmaddnesz, Kevin, Yugosaki, Halloween, IceHawk, Ephoy, ButcherShopVegan, and myself. It started off innocently enough, sharing flashlights and knives, but the night quickly degenerated to other debauchery: boots on the table, belts coming off, Kevin trying to teach Avagdu to braid paracord after Avagdu had had too much to drink.

Thanks to Avagdu and Hatterofmaddnesz for driving me up.

The Scabbed Wings of Abaddon

The Scabbed Wings of Abaddon is Sean Kennedy’s second published book. Like The Bloodstained Rabbit the book is a work in occult-horror, but this one is much more mature, both in its concepts and execution.

The editing could still use work – misused punctuation and similar looking but incorrect words are all to be found, though, unlike Bloodstained, not often enough to detract from the overall work.

A recommended read for fans of Sean, the occult, and/or horror.

The Bloodstained Rabbit

I’ve just finished reading Sean Kennedy’s The Bloodstained Rabbit. I should probably start off by saying that I’m not a big fan of the horror genre – in fact this is probably the first real horror novel I’ve read. That said, I liked the book. A lot.

I don’t think it was so much of a horror book as it was a thriller. (Although it has all the makings of a good horror: nazis, the occult, lots of gore, interdimensional beings, etc.) Sean did a great job with keeping you tense (the scene with the Indian hunting party....I burned through that a sentence a second because of the suspense).

It could have used more editing, though. There were plenty of obvious typos that probably would have been fixed if one more pair of eyes had looked it over before printing.