Monday, November 21, 2011

A Prime Slice Before Thanksgiving

Just a few days away from Thanksgiving, it's time to take a look at a little slice of the earth.  The Prime Meridian is the ugly step child of the equator.  It's the go to longitudinal line, unappreciated for no other reason than our perception of up and down in the universe. 

Ultimately the reason for this post is my frustration with Google's decision to not allow exports of the great elevation profiles in Google Earth. I realize they own a certain amount of the "rights" to it, but at the same time, it seems like one of those things you shouldn't be able to own, you know, the moon, earth elevation profiles...Antarctica.

I took a slice on near the Prime Meridian (give or take a couple minutes each way) starting on the north shore of the UK and extending to the southern shore of Ghana.  I guess I think this elevation profile is cool because, when dealing with such a long line, you can really "see" things.  Starting with the relatively flat lands over England, extending to the Pyrenees near the border of France and Spain (and Andorra), we then see the fall off into the Mediterranean which jumps up to the Algerian edge of the Atlas mountains and finally falling off across the Sahara and across the ol' Volta.
So that's one way of looking at's another:

Simple, yes...but still pretty cool.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Big City Lights

I spent the weekend in Chicago two weeks ago. It was a short trip, only two days. It was enough for me to catch the big-city-life bug again. The place we stayed was right downtown, within walking distance of just about everything. It was 15 minutes one way to the Hancock and 25 to the Museum district, Soldier Field area. In fact, it was right here:
View Hotel de Andy in a larger map
The ability to walk to so many attractions, food venues, and artistic happenings made me very jealous. I love my house but I simply don't have the ability to go places, and more importantly do THINGS without a car. I have a nice path to go running on but I'm a straight, three mile jaunt away from exciting stuff, like a bookstore - a real LIVE bookstore. I think that is where they tell you how to use a Nook.

More than JUST density, comprehensive public transportation is critical to a lively community. While there were more cars than I remember in Chicago, bus, bike or walk are clearly the way to go. I live in Washtenaw County, where we are on the verge (well a year away) of a historic vote on the future of transit service in our area. I suppose I could walk to these attractions, but three miles each way adds up. And nobody likes a sweaty runner in a bookstore (is that an old saying?). With expanded service I might have the chance to catch a ride on the bus for that 3 mile straight shot, putting me right in the heart of a corridor ripe for redevelopment and investment. It seems like attracting young twenty something talent like myself would be a good tool for further development. Ah crap, I'm thirty-something now. Guess I'll have to start watching that show.

The transit provider in the area has spent considerable resources over the past year or two promoting its Transit Master Plan. Now we're to the point where, as a community, we need to see if we are "forward-thinking" enough to expand to a more comprehensive countywide transit system - you know, like the ones they have in every major city, Detroit, in some ways, excepted. What's best is a public involvement tool being used to gather comments from the community. Check it out here. Ah yes, GIS is everywhere.

And for good measure, here's a picture of the big city lights that have me itching for an urban lifestyle. night sky

Monday, November 7, 2011

Zombie Apocalypse in Phillipines

You've probably heard of the effect where, if you're pregnant, you'll notice pregnant people everywhere, taking over the earth.

It turns out the same happens with new websites coming online.

While this one is my "pride and joy" I'm always starting some new blog or website.  Ten days or so ago, I started a couple websites with a friend on zombies.  That's right, zombies- everything zombies.  Wouldn't you know, as soon as we made that decision, I've heard Zombie discussion everyday.  It's popping up EVERY day in conversation.  Sure, some of that is the Halloween peak, but a lot of it is because general zombie-talk is on the rise.  Check out this infograph from Google insights.

We haven't clearly figured out the entire form, flow or function of the web sites, but part of the reason to do all of this is that the web, despite its obvious thirst for zombie info, does not have many quality sites.

OK, anyway.

Interestingly enough, I know nothing about zombies, and for someone who technically operates three zombie websites, that's a tad embarrassing.  So I spent some time doing some high level research.  The most interesting thing I noticed was the intense geographic hot spots of zombie search activity.   

Who knew that the zombie search term was so popular in the Philippines?  I'm amazed at its popularity throughout the southeast Asia area.  And...I'm looking forward to learning more about why that is...because the world deserves good zombie sites.

 Check out the whole zombie report here.

And since I figure you wonder, two of the sites are and