Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wait Wait Do Tell Me!

Today is my last day camping up here.  I still have a few more posts to put up, but I have a test for one of my classes on Friday morning and the nearest testing center is in the Twin Cities.  Between that and missing my family and cats, I am going to be leaving tomorrow morning for home.   I will do a more proper goodbye when I can, but right now I am a little excited!

I just got a call back from Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me from NPR.  I am going to be a contestant for the Bluff the Listener Challenge!  Bluff the Listener Challenge is where the three panelists each give me an odd story.  One is true, the others are faked (though sometimes really cool or correct and they didn’t realize it).  I have to guess which is real.  The recording is tomorrow night, and airs on Saturday.  As to when and what station depends on where you live.  Look online for more information.  WWDTM is also available afterwords to download.  You can either subscribe as a podcast in iTunes or some other method, or direct from the site at ____.  Listen if you can!  I will post the direct link when it is available.
From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

♬This is the end, my friends♬

♬This is the end, my friends♬

Yesterday was beach takedown day.  I am officially done guarding for the summer :(  At least the water was warm when I went in to bring in the buoy.  I am going to miss that beach and the loons that come out to visit.  Some days the water was nice and clear, sometimes it was mirky.  Occasionally the minks would come out and tease me with the fact I didn’t have my camera with me.  I’m going to miss swimming under water about 15 feet to pick up two cement blocks and start walking them thru thick, deep mud to put the buoy back to where it should be.  I got to work with some of the best lifeguards Northern Wisconsin.

Yea, there were some troublesome kids that would drive me nuts, but there were others who were well behaved and funny sometimes.  It was fun to watch young families come to the beach for their first times.  Canadians would come down and make fun of the people and guards who think the water is too cold while Floridians would think we are all nuts.

Until next year, from the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the formally lifeguarding camping lifeguard.


I was nice and asleep (I think I sleep better here than in my own bed) and all of a sudden I was jolted awake!  Frogs keep jumping around and two ran into my tent last night.  Normally I get a frog or two over the night for the last few nights, but two at once is a first.  They seem to not realize you need to go around the tent and instead they try to climb up and over it.
From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Sunday, August 28, 2011


One thing I like to do is partake in a game called Geocaching.  Geocaching is using a GPS to find containers hidden in bushes, trees, between rocks, and in other locations. Depending on the size of the cache, you can find in the cache a log of who has visited, and sometimes some trinkets like toys, coins, and other little odds and ends.  When you find a cache you take out one item and put in a different one.  On sites like, you can find caches near you and get the longitude and latitude, a description of the cache, and sometimes a hint.  Once you find it you fill out the log at the cache and online.

When using a GPS, you have to remember that GPS’s aren't exact.  When your GPS give you the Long/Lat, it is based on the time of the radio signal from some satellites to get to your receiver.  However, things like the atmosphere, warm and cold pockets, clouds, and nearby trees and buildings can change the time it takes for the radio signal to get to the receiver.  This slowdown can cause errors of usually 15 to 150 feet or more. What this causes is when your GPS gives you your location, on a good day, that location it gives you is actually within 15 feet of you, but not necessarily where you are at.  When you are finding something that was hidden, its a good idea to double your reported error distance for your search range.  If you have a 15 foot error and the hider a 15 foot error in the opposite direction on a different day, then where you are standing is actually 30 feet away from where the hider was.
Enough with the technical stuff...I have found 20 caches since I started about two tears ago.  I have also hidden two caches now, the most recent on Friday (this post is on Monday).  I hid it on the dock at Bayview Beach at N 46° 36.200 W 090° 51.884 (When I stored that Long\Lat, I had an error of 17 feet).

After setting it and submitting it on Friday, it was approved Saturday morning, and by that afternoon, it had already been found (good job chiroptera79))!  To learn more about this cache, visit here.  When you do, leave a comment on here but no spoilers!
From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard
Ohh!  The coyotes have caught something.  They are a lot closer tonight than the last time I heard them two nights ago.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2000? Already?

I don’t believe it myself but this morning I looked and less than a month (5 days less) from having 1000 views, I have now had 2000 views!  I was not expecting this to happen, to be this popular.  I love it!  Too bad the summer is almost to a close and I won’t have too many more posts to come.  I am due for a few posts both here and in Seagull Hunting, but have been really busy.  I will try and type them up later this week and post it when I can.
Its a bit late in the game, but I have created a page for those who wish to subscribe in RSS or Google Reader.  If interested head over to  Time to do some school work.
From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Local Stores

The last 10 days I have been housesitting for a church member.  Today is my last day.  One thing I really enjoyed about being here and in town is I am just a block from a local grocery store.  It is nice to be able to stop by every day or so to get something fresh.  I have lived out in the country all my life and a store run was at least 5 miles.
Sorry...i am having trouble thinking allergies are bad.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Behold a new sport!

Remember my post yesterday about seagull hunting?  Well now I am kind of obsessed seagull hunting...scaring away seagulls.  As I have explained, we need to keep these seagulls away, so between making a seagull simulator and hopefully the “portable dog killer”, I think I am going to start a new blog going just for seagull stuff.  I will be here, the Camping Lifeguard, and there, Seagull Hunting.  Heads up, over there things could get a bit more techie.
From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the seagull hunting camping lifeguard

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Seagull Hunting

Back between my junior and senior year, I spent about 10 days at a camp called Lead America. I took the engineering camp, and we had a lead instructor who is a physics professor who went to MIT. One day he told us about an underground group he was in at MIT, which performed pranks on campus. Multiple pranks involved disassembling cars and reassembling them in offices and on top of buildings (even running, and in the case of the police car, warm donuts).

One prank that he and his friends did was to go out every morning to a football field. They all would wear referee shirts and take with them a bag of popcorn. The would feed the seagulls, and the birds would flock to eat the popcorn. Over the corse of a few weeks, the seagulls learned. They knew that whenever someone in a referee’s shirt appears, food is on the way. During some home games, there would be so many birds in the stadium and field they had to stop the game for a while.
Here at the beach, we have seagull problems already. People feed them and they get to a point where they attack kids for food. Their poop, when washed from the ground and pilings they sit on, can raise the e-coli levels to a level where it is unsafe and we have to close the beach (also when the nearby creek that runs thru the city gets a lot of water and makes things worse at the beach). This happened already this summer after a heavy rain; we had to close shore, but apparently it was fine to go off the diving board. Made for a very boring lifeguarding day.

Normally we have to tell people to stop feeding the seagulls. Today I got to work and saw someone feeding seagulls. I asked her to stop feeding them, then I went hunting! I don’t know why, I just did.

I am not a gun person besides nerf guns, but I came to work on my bike, and being a lifeguard, I had my whistle. So I hopped on my bike, whistle in mouth, and tried to run them down on my bike, blowing my whistle the entire time. After a few passes, about a dozen, most of the seagulls left the area. On my break I did it again as another group of people were feeding the seagulls.

I am hoping over time the seagulls will learn to stay away for good. I doubt that will happen, but at minimum they will learn that crazy people on a bike wearing red with a whistle is something to avoid. What would really be great is instead being any time a biker goes by OR wearing red OR blows a whistle, then they will flee instead of bike AND red AND whistle.
If my cousins are reading this, they know what is coming because of OR and AND, but for the rest of you, well I just can’t leave enough alone. Yes, I am already brainstorming a program to write where each seagull and person is an object. Have hundreds of seagulls and hundreds of people, and on a given day most of the seagull objects and dozens of people objects with come into play on the “beach”. Each person is either walking, biking, or driving by, some people with group with other people to make “families” with different bonding levels. Each person might pass thru, stop, eat, swim. Those who stop and eat are most likly to feed the seagulls. Kids each have random excitment level, and the more excitable, the more likly to chase of seagulls. Each person also will have described color of shirt, pants, hat, glasses, whistle, and transportation (bike, skateboard, or car (which can’t leave the parking lot)). There will be special people (lifeguards) which stop any and all feeding of seagulls then scare them.

The seagull objects will keep track of when they are scared off people and what they are wearing or on. When scared, they will remember that they have been scared by those properties of the people. They won’t have the best memory, maybe three or four scares, depending on the health of the bird, and if they don’t get scared by say someone with a red shirt for 4 scares, they forget that they were scared by a red shirt. Every time they get scared by a red shirt after the first one, the memory countdown is reset, and they keep track of how many time they have been scared by a red shirt since they first started keeping track. The more often a seagull is scared by people, no matter what they are wearing, the more distance they keep from people. On the other hand, you can domesticate seagulls by feeding them, resulting them in being less likely to be scared. Where seagulls go, home to perch or to the beach to eat, or even elsewhere, depends how hungry the seagull is, and also other seagulls feel about that gull. Over time all seagulls like each other but if a seagull takes food from other another seagull or gets something good (fish from the lake) and other gulls are not able to get the food from them.

Where, what, and how much seagulls eat depends on the number of people in other areas (eat on beach or at Pamida), water temperature (fish), wind (strong wind makes it harder to hunt). Number of people and what they are doing is based on air temperature (amount of swimmers), wind speed and direction (water temperature), day of week (weekends have more travelers), and if there is a special event.
Oviously there is a lot there, and I plan to take it in small parts, and I have higher priorities, but this here is enough for me to remember what I want to do.
From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Friday, August 12, 2011

A happy day and connected ramblings

Today is such a beautiful day down here at the beach. One family swimming, cloudy but not rainy, constant breeze, no waves, buoys where they should be, and an occasional mink. It is quiet so I can think, but no quiet I go insane. And unlike most of the nation right now, it's not too hot...maybe low 70s.

I lifeguarded yesterday too. It started off with some annoying kids, but they left and things got interesting. There was a group of girls here, maybe 6 or 7, all roughly 12 +- 4 (I suck at guessing age). They were nice and behaved, just how I like lifeguarding (besides young families here). Normally nothing I would write about but glad to have days like. These girls made my day weird enough though, and all it took was popcorn.

They would take a bag of cheesy popcorn and rub it on their face then jump into the water. I don't know why but it was just funny watching them having orange faces and jumping into the water.
I know that doesn't sound that special, but the last few times guarding it has been stressful as people don't listen to the rules and constantly ask when we are going home so they can break the rules.
Oh, and before you think wearing popcorn into the water is weird it's not. Last year some boys found a can of shaving cream and would cover themselves in the cream. Not great for the water, but not knowing what is in it, it wasn't enough to tell them to stop. Shaving cream bottles hold a lot of cream! Back when I was guarding at my YMCA, I did have to kick kids out of the pool after they coated themselves in soap from the shower, and were going to jump in the pool.

I don't think that would have been as bad as what one friend back at my Y thought of. We had a slide there, so he thought (though did not do) you could take liquid soap, put it into a bag, and pop it on the slide. The slide would have mixed it up and make the water all bubbly. I am curious as to what that would look like, but please don't try that at home. (recently thought about a water balloon of food coloring in a pool and how much it would take to stain someone. Or in a mean approach of that, in general, throwing a food color filled water balloon at someone and how bad that would stain them. Youtube time!)

Actuality the idea of soap on the slide would have been nice one day at the Y. Islam (and I think other cultures) require full body or head covering, and apparently even while swimming. We had a girl come in covered in cloth as required by her beliefs and went down the slide. Unlike swimsuits and skin, cotton is not very slick. She was stuck on the slide all the way down, resulting in doing a crab walk all the way down a 420 degree turn. Hmm, I wonder if they make polyester full body swimsuits that would have met her requirements but still let her slide down the slide. Considering how hot it gets out where Islam is most common, pools with slides would have already found that a problem and found a solution. Must be like cool technology...always slow to come to America.

From the guy with the eye on the sky and water enjoying a beautiful day, Travis, the on-hiatus camping lifeguard.
:) :D
Sorry couldn't help it

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wait! No! Don't Leave!

The Camping Lifeguard is going on a camping hiatus. I have been asked to house sit until the 20th. I am going to miss camping, but for the next 10 days I can have cold stuff like ice cream, chocolate milk, and cookie dough.

It also leaves the campsite more room, which they are expecting about 200 people for an educational thing. They will need all the room they can get!

I will still post as I have material, but there might be less than normal.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day Off

I would like to thank one of my co-workers for letting me have yesterday off. My having it off I was able to go on a 4 mile swim along the shore. That 4 mile swim wore me out enough that I took a nap. The nap ment it was harder to go to bed that night, and had I been asleep at midnight like I should have, I would have not gone to the bathroom at 1 am. 1 am was when the aurora was out. Thank you for taking my shift!

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

The Aurora

Last night I had to go to the bathroom before going to sleep and it was bright out. Didn't take long to look up and see the Aurora was out and dancing. A frantic rush to my camera and I got some of the pictures you see here on the right.

Unforchently digital cameras suck at this. There were three lines of lights, the line directly overhead would pulse like a rave. Below that (more north) was a small layer of green glow, then the main system. Again, my camera doesn't do justice. The aurora was bright enough that I could see my shadow on the ground. When you look at the pictures I took, most of them used a 60 second shutter and then were digitally lightened.

Click on the image to see a larger version!

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Oh, and while I was watching I played with the fire too!

Do you have the key?

Act 1 Scene 1

Setting: A day at the beach. Swimmer and Lifeguard are on the dock. Down at the beach is a green row boat

Swimmer: Can we take the boat out?

Lifeguard: Sure.

S: Cool! (runs down the dock)

LG: (shouting) Don’t forget the boat plug!

S: plug?

LG: Yea, plugs the hole in the boat that is used to drain it.

S: Oh….we will use a stick (starts walking down to the beach. Stops and turns to friends and LG) Dude, there is a chain on it.

LG: Yep.

S: Do you have the key?

LG: No, it’s in the lifeguarding house.

S: Oh (gets ready to head to the house) is it locked?

LG: Yep.

S: Where is the key to the house?

LG: In my car.

S: Which one is that?

LG: Green one.

S: Is it locked?

LG: Yes

S: Where are they keys to that?

LG: I’m not letting you into my car!

S: Oh (walks back to diving board disappointed)

LG: Besides, you would need the paddles anyways.

S: Where are those?

LG: One is in the lifeguard house, the other doesn’t fit the boat

Act 1 Scene 2

Setting: NC pool. About a dozen swimmers in the water. Swimmer and lifeguard are talking

Swimmer: Can we use one of the kiaycks?

Lifeguard: Not right now.

S: When?

LG: During open boating.

S: When is that?

LG: During the school year

S: Just a quick ride?

LG: Sure

S: (start walking to the boats, LG smiles) Hey, they are chained up

LG: Yea.

S: Can I get the key?

LG: Sure (points to the key box)

S: What is the combonation?

LG: I belive it’s 135680

S: It doesn’t work

LG: Yea, they changed it

S: What about that boat, it doesnt look chained (points to an unchained boat against the next wall)

LG: No!

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Friday, August 5, 2011


I mentioned with Baydays last month I had to call the police three times to remove people from the beach, one of them I shall call Dude. Dude was removed because he went over the railing twice. On Sunday while lifeguarding Dude came down with his buddies to swim.

It was a beutifle day (though you would never know by my spelling) with calm, warm water, warm air, and no swimmers. My co-guard and I went in the water to hang out and swim and I swam out to scare seagulls away, as they are annoying, fight with children for food, and increase our e-coli levels.

On my swim back to the dock, Dude came to the diving board. He and a buddy were standing on the diving board, which we allow only one at a time, so I asked someone to get down. After I got onto the dock, the three boys walked down to the other lifeguard. They talked to her for a bit then the boys left. I asked later and I was told Dude and his buddies asked if she could trade locations with me because I had called the police on him before.

Yes, this is a true story! Not many people are dumb enough to say they have gotten in trouble before. Oh, and my co-guard, she enforces different rules to a different extent than me, but if you get in trouble, its worse than when you get in trouble with me.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Thursday, August 4, 2011

And a two

It has now been two months from today that I officially became the camping lifeguard. It is August, swim lessons are done after 80+ kids, the Forth of July has passed, Bay Days went by with incident. We have had warm water, heavy rains, and hot days.

Swimming in the lake, I think about what I miss about home, but how much I love being out here. I miss my mom and dad, my sister and brother, all of the cats. I miss being a continual system admin at home, and having computers for video and image processing.

I really like being up here though. I feel happy, and not stressed. I know my parents don’t want to read this but I wish I could stay here past the summer...even all year if winters didn’t get too cold in a tent.

There are a few things I have learned for next year. Next year I want to bring my smaller tent. My six person tent is way too big and I only use about half of it. I have a two person tent that I can use all of since I am so tall I have to sleep at a diagnal. There is a water source up here, so I don’t need as many water jugs. There are other things I don’t need, like some cables and flashlights. I think the only thing I want more of is blankets and another pillow.

And maybe a cat.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard