I just read a weird article about “Some Ways to Make Children Think Santa Exists” that includes children follow Santa’s journey on Norad all the way up to a voice transmorgified phone call from Santa. Like “How to Lie With Maps“, it unitentionally raises some questions about how kids are influenced by technology. I would consider kids today to be more savvy than 1897 “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” or the kids (and adults) who believed in the Cottingly Fairies that were created using the new “photograph” technology. I think that GIS can enhance holiday experienes by tracking Santa, making family trees, showing hometowns, and generally intergrating it into everyday life. I am not so sure about voice changers.
The British Geological Survey, the world’s oldest national geological survey, is offering GEOSCIENCE, a free service for sharing geospatial information including maps, 3D maps, and photographs. The GEOSCENIC is really cool because it is geological photos from their archives that can be used free of charge for non-commercial purposes. They have a make-a-map function for students and teachers. I think that overall this site would make a great addition to history, geography, geology, or science lesson plans. I’m making a bunch of really awesome screen savers.
If you’re looking for map related gifts this year, one of the most extensive I’ve found is rare maps. You can search for maps by state or type. They even have a monthly contest to win a rare map . This December you can win a 1851 map of Russia in Europe. The only thing that I wonder about is if the maps are stand alone or come from old books. I love old books and may have to look at some of their old books too. I especially like the name of the book by reknowned map seller Tooley, “My Head is a Map”.
According to CNN, MIT has won Darpa’s Balloon Challenge. Darpa released the coordinates yesterday. They were the first to locate 10 weather balloon locations in the U.S. by promising to give away money in a chain format to all who send in locations. The DARPA Challenge site maps the locations of all the balloons in case you want to see if one was near you. Did anyone out there participate?
According to the BBC, Eric Gordon Douglas from Edinburgh left nearly £11,000 for 20 towns around the world that share his surname. The Herald Scotland states that no one knows anything about their benefactor other than his name and home city. On the Rampant Scotland site you can find out “Is Your Home Town Named After Somewhere in Scotland?” I tried to find a MacLennan town on Rootweb but all I found was Mc Lennan Co. Texas. When I googled my surname I found that there is a book series character called Brodie MacLennan. “The start of a thrilling Edinburgh-based series starring rebellious young lawyer Brodie McLennan.”
Something that I’ve wanted to post for a while is Reader’s Digests 50 jokes for 50 states competition. You can be entered in a chance to win $1,500 for a funny but family friendly joke about your state. According to their introductory paragragh, jokes show “the U.S.A. is one big, happy dysfunctional family” It might be great fun for family reunion to come up with jokes (or maybe not). According to a 2002 scientific study the funniest joke in the world was a hunting joke seen here. In case you were wondering there IS a geography joke site which includes funnys such as: Q:What do an astrologist and a cartographer have in common? A:They both specialise in projections.
If you are a fan of Coronation Street, the award winning Manchester soap opera, then you will love Google Street Views new view of The Street. I imagine since it has been running since 1960 it will feel very familiar to many people. I went lookingn to see what other famous fictional street views I could find. Althogh I did find Digg’s Total Film 25 Famous Movie Locations on Google Street View, I didn’t find Sesame Street or any soap opera towns like Salem. Maybe I should try to look for Smallville?
Never lose your way on the NYC subway again or have to stop to check out those pesky signs, instead you can use the new “NYC SUBWAY” quilt fabric made by The City Quilter. They also have some awesome ariel shots of “Olde New York“. You can do like Quilty Indulgence did and make a GPS carrying case or a laptop sleeve.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) today announced the DARPA Network Challenge to mark the 40th anniversary of the Internet. The competition requires participants to discover the exact position of 10 large, red weather balloons that DARPA will place in undisclosed locations across the continental United States. The first person to identify the location of all the balloons will win a $40,000 cash prize. The balloons will be positioned on December 5, 2009.
The U.K. Daily Mail must have a geographer on staff because they always have interesting geospatial related stories. They recently have an article about a white water rafting company in Colorado that is using a “pigeon express” to deliver memory cards to the their home base. According to the article, Rocky Mountain Adventures found that trained pigeons were the quickest way cover the 30 miles to Fort Collins to get pictures developed before rafters got back to town. They follow in the great tradition of other homing pigeons such as Cher Ami, who during WWI flew 12 critical missions and was presented with the French Croix de guerre. The American Racing Pigeon Union (Homing Pigeons) which has been active in several forms since 1872 is still going strong today. All registered pigeons have a GPS chip on its leg band and electronic monitors, landing pad scans, and software keep track of race times and competitions.