Nostalgia Isn’t What It Used To Be

It’s been a bit of a day for nostalgia. It started even before I woke up, when I was dreaming about an argument that could have marked the end of Claire and I’s relationship, if it weren’t for the fact that it didn’t even slighly represent the actual circumstances of our seperation (I’ll spare you all the details). I was woken by a phone call from a company with whom I used to deal. Later, I caught up with an old friend via instant messanger, in what was probably my only delibrate act of nostalgia of the day. Finally, while working this evening on a techy project that’s been part of my life for about the last eight years, the random number generator in my MP3 playing software decided all of its own accord that what I’d really like to listen to is the same music I was listening to when I first started on the project.

Did I not get the memo that this is National Nostalgia Day, or something? Is everything conspiring around me, or is this all a coincidence?

The thing I’ve learned about nostalgia is that it’s generally best left as it is: a collection of figments in your mind. Some are accurate, some mis-remembered, and all are seen through glasses tinted with the colour of hindsight. And that’s great: that’s exactly how your brain is supposed to experience times past. If you’re an optimist, like me, it’s easy to pick out your favourite memories and pretend that your life gone by was all as great as your happiest moments. If you’re a pessimist, well: you probably do the same thing, but compare those great memories to how awful things are right now (and you’re wrong, but I can’t just tell you that and give you a more rational worldview, just as your cynicism won’t “fix” me, either).

That’s inevitable, of course: think back to the moment in your life at which you felt the most content that you ever have – at least that comes right to your mind. Unless your time on the planet has been a continuous curve of improvement, with no ups-and-downs, then there’s something remarkable about that moment: it’s not right now. Well duh, of course it isn’t. The most elementary mathematics would indicate that of all of the experiences in your life, there has to be some kind of regression toward the mean going on: what you’re experiencing now should, on average, be representative of your life so far even before you factor in the Von Restoroff effect and other cognitive biases.

But I digress. My point was this: I would love to be able to finish what I’m working on and go play a game of Chez Geek in the Ship & Castle with folks like Bryn and Kit and Liz and Strokey Adam, just like I did over six and a half years ago. But that’s not my life nowadays. And while I can get all doe-eyed about how awesome the Ship & Castle used to be before they gutted it and made it look like a trendy wine bar (apologies to those of you for whom this is the news being broken of its demise), or I can pine for the days that those friends – now long-gone – used to all live a stone’s throw away from me, but that’s not the full story. I don’t miss being even poorer than I am now, I don’t miss having to juggle my academic life with holding down a job, and a certainly don’t miss being quite so arrogant as I was back then (for those of you who’ve only recently met me; think of me now, only more so).

Nostalgia is like alcohol: it’s great in moderation, but if you get too much of it, or you become dependent upon it, then you’re liable to get stuck and not be able to move on. And I think that’s the message I should be taking away from this morning’s dream.

(and now, in a somewhat ironic and roundabout way, I’d better stop writing so I can go and play board games with the current Aber crew, as part of a tradition that started with Chez Geek in the Ship & Castle, all those years ago…)

Dan Q found GL3G28QA A Tight Squeeze

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Found with restlessboy and fleeblewidget after an extended search: not in the most obvious place! Met thebuttonmushroom and hunted with her, after which she gave us a hint on “Cardiff’s Bouncy Bridge, which we’d taken a quick look for and failed to find earlier in the day.” Nice container! TFTC.

Dan Q found GL3FWMQ0 Sidetracked – Wallingford

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The eleventh and final cache for the day for fleeblewidget and I. By now the rain had really started to fall and it had begun to get dark, so our search was a little more frantic than usual. Found the cache with little difficulty, but the log is pretty much soaked and part of the… “mechanism used to hide the cache”… is damaged and it may not last much longer: urgently needs maintenance.

TFTC; looking at the locomotives in the nearby engine yard was the perfect way to end today’s expedition.

Dan Q found GL3FWM7G CAT1 – Bridge2Bridge – The Pool

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On our way back from the excellent “PC-001 Costly Culvert”, it began to rain, and we considered just going straight home… but then we noticed a few more caches on the way and we couldn’t resist hunting for one or two more before we called it a day. This cache was the tenth of the day for fleeblewidget and I, and we needed the hint before we worked out where we were looking. A very imaginative cache, I’m very impressed!

Don’t be put off by the civil engineers building… whatever it is they’re building… at the moment, they’re not in the way and they’re not really paying attention to people looking for geocaches.

Also; this cache probably ought to have the “public restrooms nearby” attribute, as there’s a toilet right next to it!

Dan Q found GL3FWKWW PC-001 Costly Culvert

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The ninth cache of the day for fleeblewidget and I, this wonderfully well-concealed cache wasn’t even on the same side of the road as we started looking on, thanks to GPS signals scattering off the trees. Great cache.

Dan Q found GL3FWKGT PC-002 Veiled

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Excellent cache, here! fleeblewidget and I walked right past it, walked back again, waited for some muggles to pass, and then looked right at it and around it before we found what we were looking for. Despite having already done several of Malpas Wanderer’s other caches, we were pleased and surprised to find yet another ingenious bit of cache-placing. Quite hard to put the log back again afterwards, though!

Dan Q found GL3FWK5T PC-003 You Can Do It

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fleeblewidget and I took a damp walk through the field after we lost the path on our way to this, our seventh cache of the day. We spent quite a while looking in exactly the wrong places before we had another go at getting a GPS fix and, then… bang – we were right on top of it. Don’t think the crows in the nearby rookery were pleased to see us: they kept cawing and flying in circles over our heads like tiny vultures. Lovely little roads, around here; I’ve walked one or two of them before, but never on such a nice day.

Dan Q found GL3FWJW2 PC-007 Dog Gone Agility

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Unfortunately we didn’t plan our trip quite wisely enough, and this – the sixth cache of the day for fleeblewidget and I – involved us crossing over the A4074 for a third and then (when we left) a fourth time for the day, which did take quite some time as we had to wait for breaks in the traffic which were few and far between. But the reward was worth it: this cache is one of the cleverest I’ve ever seen.

fleeblewidget actually PICKED UP the cache to look under it before I realised that what she had in her hand was, actually, the cache! Watched a few helicopters taking off from and landing at the nearby air force base as we waited for a gap in the traffic on our way back. Great cache, thanks!

Dan Q found GL3FWJFJ PC-005 Goat Pasture

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Fifth cache of the day, and it was I who managed to home-in on this one fastest, leaving fleeblewidget on the path as I went straight for the cache. Only one-star difficulty? Wow: you take things seriously around here. No goats in the field today, but plenty of bunny rabbits.

Dan Q found GL3FWJ33 PC-006 Up The Garden Path

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Fourth cache in today’s expedition. Great container, and it took a few minutes before fleeblewidget and I spotted it! Picked up Mick’s Pirhana travel bug and dropped off the “code” travel bug (a long way from home, now!). Met a friendly donkey just a little further South along the path who ran alongside the fence to come and greet us and said goodbye with big, sad eyes.

Cache was a little damp so I added a couple of silica gel sachets to help keep it dry.

Dan Q found GL3FWHCM PC-004 Not Quite The Thames Path

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Third cache in today’s expedition. The trees and fence made the GPS signal spotty, but a quick walk up and down a few times got us a good fix on this beautiful little cache. I’ve never found an ammo box cache before, so this is my first, and it was quite an experience: a whole trove of treasures! Took the Seattle Compass-Thermometer travel bug (but didn’t think to take a temperature reading at the time, will try to remember to do so when I drop it off) and the Poker Events Geocoin (not listed as being in the box, listed as being with it’s owner!), and left the Red Jeep Travel Bug.

Thanks for a great cache!

Dan Q found GL3FWGJF Thames Path – Benson Lock

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Second of today’s expedition: again, I wouldn’t have found it without the help of fleeblewidget, who thought to look exactly where it turned out to be. A beautiful area, the last time I was here was during last winter’s heavy snowfall, and it looks completely different when it’s under the bright skies of the beginning of spring. Great little cache, thanks!