From My Google Reader  

Posted by Wayne Bretski

Check out #4: That's me! Click on the picture to see the whole post.

Thanks for the link, Prof.

Maps!: And a roundup of sorts  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in , , , ,

Satellite image of Earth at night, showing electricity usage across the globe

I've been remiss in not posting before about my autistic (Excuse me, Tyler Cowen. Neurodiverse.) obsession with maps, charts, and graphs. I've been playing a couple of fascinating geography games of late, that I discovered a while ago. Every so often I get the jones for, an HTTP-heavy site that let's user upload their own quizzes. Correct answers typed into a Google-like answer bar are entered into the table or onto the map in their spot. Here are the results from my "Nations of the World" quiz (I had previously done Africa and Asia by themselves).

I got something like 145 of 185 nations in 15 minutes. Here is the last column of the "most missed" page:

I also have been going through an old Google Bookmarks page that I don't use anymore. (I use a combination of Instapaper and Evernote for short-term and long-term site or article storage now.) A good one I re-found is called BibliOdyssey: Peep this chart of the respective lengths and heights of long rivers and tall mountains.

Then there's Atlas Obscura, which bills itself as a compendium of the world's wonders, exotica, and curiosities. The format isn't to my liking: too much mouse-clicking. Still, it's interesting, as this screen shot shows. I wish there were more information about each place, but I guess this could be considered the Twitter version of National Geographic.

I also followed a great Kottke lead-in to a story about the donkeys of Fez, Morocco. I don't know if that sounds interesting to you, but the opening paragraph of the story by Susan Orlean should tell you whether or not you want to follow up.
The donkey I couldn't forget was coming around a corner in the walled city of Fez, Morocco, with six color televisions strapped to his back. If I could tell you the exact intersection where I saw him, I would do so, but pinpointing a location in Fez is a formidable challenge, a little like noting GPS coordinates in a spider web. I might be able to be more precise about where I saw the donkey if I knew how to extrapolate location using the position of the sun, but I don't. Moreover, there wasn't any sun to be seen and barely a sliver of sky, because leaning in all around me were the sheer walls of the medina—the old walled portion of Fez—where the buildings are so packed and stacked together that they seem to have been carved out of a single huge stone rather than constructed individually, clustered so tightly that they blot out the shrieking blue and silver of the Moroccan sky.
Finish the article at the Smithsonian magazine online, which I was not aware of until yesterday but I like very much now. Unfortunately no RSS feeds for normal articles, so I suppose I'll have to check back sometimes.

Also wanted to shout out WorldImages, a project of California State University. According to their website:
The internationally recognized WorldImages database provides access to the California State University IMAGE Project. It contains almost 75,000 images, is global in coverage and includes all areas of visual imagery. WorldImages is accessible anywhere and its images may be freely used for non-profit educational purposes. The images can be located using many search techniques, and for convenience they are organized into over 800 portfolios which are then organized into subject groupings.

The other game I've been playing is super-addicting, and I can't get past level 11 which makes me want to go back for more. And it goes a little something like this:

This Traveler IQ challenge compares your geographical knowledge against the World's Original Travel Blog's other 4,467,002 travelers who have taken this challenge as of Sunday, August 30, 2009 at 05:07AM GMT. (TravelPod is part of the TripAdvisor Media Network)

I believe you click to play. Once begun, a city or place name will come across the top of the screen. Click on the map where you think it is; you get more points for being close to the target than for going quickly. If the player above does not work, the website is here. There are more maps as well, including the hyper-difficult Capitals of the Caribbean Sea. If you know those, I'm impressed.

On a more personal note, I have joined the legion of unfortunate souls who have iBricked their lives by dropping their iPhones into the toilet. Seriously, Google a combination of the words in that phrase: I dropped my iPhone into the toilet. It's crazy how many there are.

Some claim that theirs came back to life after 4 hours, others that they never turned on, and everything in between. I'm now on about 24 hours after the fact, and nothing so far. Very sad and irritating. And possibly expensive. I'm a fool, who's unavailable by telephone for the time being. Maybe I'll get the 3G S to compensate for my sadness...

Finally, my sister has joined the blogging community from her perch in Boulder, Colorado. Check her out at Do.Does.Did. Miss Bee and I are planning to visit her and Joe, along with our friend Alex, in Boulder during our October break, which we are looking forward to, as we are about to start the 6th week of school.

And without further ado, my favorite song (maybe) off the new Mos Def album The Ecstatic. It's called 'Auditorium' and features Slick Rick.

I was going to post 'Maps' by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but felt it was too obvious. Plus, Pitchfork just proclaimed it a top 10 song of the 20-aught years. Too much hype for me.

It's a new year  

Posted by Wayne Bretski

Best believe that school has started again. Is summer ever short when you get married and go on a two week honeymoon. The honeymoon is over, as they say, and we are now in our third week of school. We took our customary first day of school photos.

Here we are getting ready to leave for day 1. Who knew that in five minutes we were going to be locked out of our back gate and relying on the charity of an awesome neighbor who backed her car up to trigger the sensor?

Our customary arm-out shot - we got pretty good at that on our trip...

Finally, a present from our favorite teacher friend - a shower gift actually. It was the first thing we hung in our new apartment, hanging in a place of honor.

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