Sunday, November 25, 2007

Trace the water you drink from rainfall to your tap. Q3 of the Big Here Quiz

The water from my home's taps is pumped by A.J. Brian Pumping Station from The Detroit River (although this site says it from local rivers). From there it travels across the street to the Albert H. Weeks Water Treatment Plant. After traveling through pipes (will approximate distance once I can figure out an address for said station and plant), it lands in my coffee pot.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

When Was Sunset. Q2 of the Big Here

Sunset was at 5:13 pm today.

Favourite recommendation:
Complete Sun and Moon Data for One Day from the U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department.

Using the link above, I determined that for Detroit, Michigan, the length of the shortest day of the year begins at 7:59 am and ends at 5:03 pm and that for the longest day of year, the day begins at 5:55 am and ends at 9:13 pm.

I never gave the matter much thought before but now I find it odd that sunrise varies over only 64 minutes while sunset varies over 4 hours and 10 minutes during the course of a year (at my present the latitude).

So using the Sun and Moon Data website again, I plugged in the opposite geographical coordinates of Detroit. Instead of N42, I plugged in S42 and instead of W83, I put in E83 and then lo and behold, I found a place where the sun rises at 3:49 AM. That is, if I plugged in the right time zone. I've always had difficulty wrapping my brain around the concepts of time and longitude.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Point North. Q1 of the Big Here

I'm tackling those things I've been meaning to do. One long standing item on my list is doing Kevin Kelly's The Big Here Quiz - 30 questions to elevate your awareness (and literacy) of the greater place in which you live.

Question One: Point North.

Actually, we are south of the border

Local answer:
Contrary to sign above, Detroit, Michigan lies directly north of Windsor, Ontario.

So if you are near the Detroit River, you simply scan the horizon for the Renaissance Center, or as some of the locals call it, the RenCen.

Favourite Recommendation:

In England all you need to do is look at a church. Old English churches are always aligned along an East-West axis with the tower in the west. It is very rare to see an exception to this.

If you look at the church yard surrounding the church you will often see the ground level is lower on the north side. The cold north side is less popular for burials and successive centuries of interments have raised the ground level on the other three sides.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Neighbourhood Fix-It launches

mySociety » Blog Archive » Neighbourhood Fix-It launches

"Neighbourhood Fix- It makes it as easy as possible for citizens across the UK to report local problems like fly tipping, broken lights, graffiti etc, whilst opening the problems up to browsing and public discussion of solutions...

Councils across the UK do an excellent job of fixing local problems when they’re reported by citizens. However, the model for handling the information is a system of doctor-patient style confidentiality. A citizen who makes a report normally knows about a problem, and so does the council, but there is no general public way of finding out what has been reported or fixed.

Given that the nature of public problems being reported is that they are public, this seems a strange situation.

... It opens up and democratizes the process of discovering and reporting problems, so people can see what other reports have been filed locally using the site, and can leave extra feedback and comments on the problems if they see fit."

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Flickr: The From Memory (was: Maps From Memory) Pool

Flickr: The Maps From Memory Pool [Waxy]

This reminds me two things. First, it brings to mind the Parish Maps project of Common Ground and its emphasis on a, for a lack of a better phrase for it, vernacular of mapping.

It also brings to mind how drawing from memory gives a brutally accurate account of one's real memory, as opposed to what we think we know. Want proof? Just try drawing a map of the middle east from memory. After that, try this quiz to see if that help you learn some geography.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

4-0-Wonderland in particular

Some years ago, I lived in England for four months on a 'busman's holiday' as they would call it. Before I moved there I was would say that I was a bit of an Anglophobe - I didn't understand the endless layers of British culture that would made things like Paddington Bear, Princess Di, and Monty Python make sense to me. After my four months, I wouldn't say that I converted into an Anglophile (as I don't worship all things British for the sake of being British) but there are certain aspects of British culture that I admire tremendously.

One such British thing the arts and environmental group Common Ground. Inspired by their book England in particular : a celebration of the commonplace, the local, the vernacular, and the distinctive - I am re-imaging the world around me through their work.

For example, Common Ground has created a list of places to find snowdrops in February.

And so I started to think... what is the equivalent of early blooming snowdrops for Southwestern Ontario? According to some local field naturalists, candidates for the first flowers to bloom in these parts are trilliums, jack in the pulpit, and the wood rush.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Postcards from the centre

Geography + Information: Distribution Project [mefi]

I like the idea of the geography-themed postcard. The "Industry and Resources" card reminds of a story told to me by one of my friends from school. He had traveled to Bangladesh in the 1980s and was frequently approached by curious locals who were filled with questions. He said he was frequently stumped by their questions about what was produced from where he was from and wished he had carried an national almanac with him.