Saturday I went on a work outing that involved a day full of running and driving around the city trying to find as many geocache points as possible before lunch.
For those who don't know what it is or do and want to know more: http://www.geocaching.com. There's probably a point near your house. I know there's one near mine :)
Though there are many disappointments in geocaching and the joy of finding a hidden cache is brief, however intense, it's also a great way to see more of the city or region in which you live. For example, I would have never gone to the former USSR Military Academy grounds (a now abandoned, bum-ridden and spray-painted complex), or picked my way through mounds of broken glass and shattered cement blocks to the top of one of the abandoned buildings in the VEF area of Riga. In addition to being a great team-building activity, it was also a great time and reason to explore.
The hardest cache to find was the one located by the Fire-fighting Museum in Riga. We spent an hour at the site looking into every possible nook and cranny, overturning every stone in the tiny flowerbed out front -- all while a group of fire-fighters looked on in amusement during their smoke break. Eventually we gave up, but after realising later that there were encrypted hints for most of the points, figured out the clue and drove back to the museum to triumphantly jump up and down when we finally had the cache in hand. Mid-day traffic was sparse, but cars did slow down as drivers tried to understand what why this group of four adults was prancing about a street corner in glee.
My team found 4-5 out of the 10-12 points we visited. Sunday afternoon after I got back from Sigulda, where we had our "8th Grade Reunion" themed party and feast, I did some work from home then headed out to find a few more caches. That night I told my mom about all of it and in 15 minutes had her writing down coordinates to find a cache near her house back in the States. It really is a global phenomenon and an addicting one at that.
I haven't really heard that much from other grad. schools yet. There seem to be a lot of technical issues going on: one school's system had my application fee marked as "not paid", but when I wrote to ask "WTF" and by the time I got a reply saying that's not what they saw, it was back to "paid". Other school systems seem to be missing or temporarily misplacing recommendation forms from my people, but if my in-box has three confirmations from three different reviewers, why should I think differently? I'm hoping these issues will be resolved, as I would be somewhat uncomfortable writing my former professors to say "So you know that thing you filled out five months ago? D'ya think you could do it again?"
I'm also hoping that the delay in hearing back from schools has a lot to do with the fact that I'm in Latvia, not that the schools are trying to decide on the best way to crush my confidence. At the same time it's frustrating, but what are you gonna do?
Spring in Latvia is in semi-swing. We've had sun and brisk weather, but today is a bit overcast. I wonder if that volcanic ash is finally making its way to our little country...