Day 2: Sneaky Geography Gifts

There are some cool GEOGRAPHY gifts like map jigsaw puzzles, cool Harry Potter marauder map pillows, or antique maps and reproductions. Then there are some gifts that scream, YOU like geography. Here’s a globe!, like an etched glass globe fish bowl, Earth globes, and even snow globes. However, if you are looking for a less geograph-y geography gift there are some good books written by geographers such as one of my favorite fantasy books, Across the Face of the World , or kid’s books like The Lighthouse of Mr. Tinfish, or even cookbooks like The Art of Scottish-American Cooking. They bring the expertise and enjoyment of geo-spatial concepts without the word geography in the title.

I think the sneakiest geography gift of all is one that can’t be wrapped in a box -travel. It doesn’t have to be Disney’s It’s a Small World exhibit but a geographic destination. National Geographic has a list of top ten places to visit far away and probably close to home. According to The Happiness Project memories of special locations make people happy like visiting grandparents, a hometown, or other special place. If you can’t go to a special place, why not bring it closer to home by subscribing to a hometown paper, or some virtual armchair traveling.

The four days of holiday gifts

It is that time of year again, Black Friday is behind us and Cyber Monday is here and everyone is thinking of the holidays to come that get us in the giving mood. To honor this time of year, and to talk about some cool stuff, we will spend this week talking about some of the geotoys we like and may even have. I, clearly, am starting things off with my Jacob Marley impersonation and Barb, Frank and Sue will each take a turn through the week. I am going to harken back to our first holiday gift guide episode of VerySpatialTV and break my selections into three tiers: Stocking stuffer, in a box, and in a big box.

Stocking stuffers

Affordable is good in the current monetary reality, whether because of general economic conditions or trying to dig your way out of grad school debt, so I have a few choices in this category. The first geotoy is the Hugg-A-Planet series that started out with the great plush globe and has extended to include other celestial bodies (Mars, Moon, etc), a plush map of the US, and other great options. For that person in your life that needs a map on the wall, desk, cufflinks…you get the idea, you may want to look at some of the handmade options at etsy. These great gift options are dangerous though because while you start looking for others you will invariably end up with more in your cart for yourself than for others.

In a box

The last couple of years have seen the rise of the in-car nav system, the question of whether they would be replaced by smart phones, and resounding answer of ‘no’. It is clear that, for the majority of folks, a simple interface that lives in their vehicle is the better option. It used to be that when you gave a GPS you were giving a gift that had to be paid for again by the recipient when the maps grew out of date, luckily those days are drawing to a close. TomTom, Garmin, and other manufacturers are now offering units that come with lifetime map updates and traffic updates, just make sure to look for product names that include M or T for maps or traffic.

The big box

This is more of a ‘for us all’ holiday wish. While the Landsat Data Continuity Mission is ongoing with the satellite launching in late 2012 or so, let’s start the discussion of Landsat 9 right now. It would be great (in my opinion) to see the program achieve redundancy so that we wouldn’t be faced daily with concerns of an aged constellation and issues with sensors. If we start the discussion and planning now, by the time it gets to the engineering phase the economy will probably have righted itself.

So those are my thoughts on some of the toys out there that might make the location aware person on your gift list happy. What are you giving this holiday season?

Old Map Making Shortcuts Still Used Today

Map making used to be an arduous, time-consuming, and often dangerous process. Although modern map-making is often still an arduous, time-consuming, and in some instances, dangerous process, new technologies are continually invented that make it easier. Modern Mechanix from July 1946 features a Coe-graph invented by Australian Lt. Col. H. J. F. Coe. It is a calibrated ground wheel attached to a paper roller and pencil. The design is still around in the form of digital rolling measurement wheels. It made me think of how technology and tools often remain the same, even when alternative technologies are available. A 2004 ESRI presentation by GeoSpatial Innovations compared the use of GPS versus measurement wheels for rural line design. A Civil Engineering Group posted a recent article on all of the methods for measuring area of land and a brief history of technology including GPS, measurement wheels, planimeters, and graph paper.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and GIS

Fifty million people are expected to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tomorrow. If you can’t be there in person, you can join the on-line Thanksgiving Day Parade community and experience the parade route through the Macy’s website. I have fond memories of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade route. Digg, of course, has already posted a Product Reviews Google Earth Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route. However, I really like all of the walks included in the “Walk the Big Apple” site including their Autumn walks for the unofficial parade route and the ” An Advanced Self-Guided Walk into the New York Holiday Vortex“. At Daggle, Danny Sullivan has updated his article on how to watch the parade from outside the United States. He says your best bet is Earthcam’s live streaming broadcast,which gives you a “feel” for what is happening. If you are wondering how the parade and other huge crowd events are handled each year, ESRI has an article on how the FDNY GIS Unit get organized before events such as parades. New York City also has a Thanksgiving Day Task Force which among it many duties, “Developed a wind testing system that provides wind speed measurements from anemometers at key points along the parade route and transmits the information to balloon operators who adjust the flight heights of their balloons accordingly.”

Save a (Geography Related) Word

The Oxford Dictionary is launching a campaign to save words that are being dropped from the English Language. According to their website, 90% of everything we write is communicated by a 7,000 word vocabulary. The Save The Words website, which allows you to “adopt” a word and keep it in use, has a hodge-podge collage of words to choose from many of them geography or location related. I located bimarian (relating to two seas), poliadic (of the nature of a local god), telligraph (charter outlining boundaries of landholdings),montivagant (wandering hills and mountains), cosmogyral (whirling round the universe), and ruricolous (living in the country or field). It an be argued that some words are just not used as often, such as ten-cent store, but it seems sad to lose them. The British Council asked “7,000 learners in 46 countries what they considered to be the most beautiful words in the English language.” The top five words were Mother, Passion, Smile, Love, and Eternity. I haven’t chosen the word I want to save yet, but I will in order to demonstrate my sodalitious (adj. belonging to society or fellowship) nature. (Wait — spell check don’t change it to seditious nature that isn’t what I meant.)