Corn Mazes – Fun for all!

Even though it’s a little late in the season, I couldn’t resist posting about a fun harvest time adventure for all ages – corn mazes! You can find people making them in lots of places where corn is grown (or maize for some of our readers), and of course they are often combined with those other fun down-on-the-farm activities like hay rides. Sadly, although I grew up in a corn-growing area and tromped through many cornfields, none of them were laid out into cool mazes.

Of course, for those of you who don’t want to miss out like I did, there are many resources on the Interwebs where you can find maps and directories of corn mazes, like Corn Mazes America or Corn Maze Directory, the USGS has a webpage on teaching Geography using corn mazes, and a site called Harvest Moon even has a virtual corn maze for people who’d rather not go outside at all.

The Geographer of the United States to speak on Why Geography Matters

If you’re going to be anywhere near Bucknell, Pennsylvania on October 29th, Lee Schwartz, the Geographer of the United States will be giving a talk entitled, “Why Geography Matters: Geographical Awareness and Global Diplomacy,” at 7:30 p.m. in the Terrace Room of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University. It’s free to the public, so anyone can attend. For those of you who were unaware that the United States had a Geographer, the post is part of the Department of State, and that’s about all I could find out. The State Department’s website unfortunately didn’t seem to have a history of the Office of the Geographer, but maybe I will do a little more digging because I’m curious about it myself.

If any of you get a chance to go and listen, let us know how the talk went!

Geography Action 2008

Folks, it is getting close! We are mere weeks from the 2008 Geography Awareness Week. Beginning November 16th and continuing through the 22nd it will be time to step up the evangelizing. For those of you who are focused on geospatial technologies don’t forget that GIS Day sits in the middle of week. For details about Geography Awareness Week check out Geography Action 2008 at National Geographic and for GIS Day events in your area. As usual, we will be featuring a series of special content during GAW2008 including an interview with‘s Matt Rosenberg and, if we can get on his schedule, our regular GIS Day guest, Rick Lawson of ESRI.

Also, if you know a store that sells globe costumes send us an email with the details. We are trying to plan our local activities in Morgantown and having someone walk around downtown and on campus in a globe suit plays heavily into the plans 🙂

Where have all the ladybugs gone?

I love cool projects that really show science at work, especially when they include education for kids and the general public, and the Lost Ladybug Project is one that I really like. It seems that researchers noticed that native species of ladybugs are disappearing (largely being replaced by Asian ladybugs that were introduced into North America by the USDA to combat crop pests) and nobody knows for sure what happened to them. Especially of interest is a species known as C-9 (for its nine spots), which used to be so common that it was made the state insect of New York in 1989. Unfortunately, there hadn’t really been a confirmed sighting of C. 9 ladybugs since the 1970s and a survey in 1992 could not find a single one. However, one of the big problems with field surveys is that there is always too much ground to cover and not enough people, so entomologists at Cornell University came up with the idea of the Lost Ladybug Project, which is being supported by a large grant from the NSF. Basically, the idea is to get as many people out there looking for ladybugs, and documenting the specimens they find with pictures, which are then uploaded to the Lost Ladybug website. Anyone can help, and you can get all the particulars here

(There is a simple Google Maps mashup showing the locations of some of the ladybug finds, but there is so much more they could be doing with the mapping end of this project, so I hope there are plans to improve it)


Planet Green – Green TV

We often talk about our ever greening ways in our daily lives at the VerySpatial office, but we are still pretty much light weights. Our lack of weightiness is reinforced when I watch Discovery’s newish channel, Planet Green. Topics cover the gamut from greening your home, your meals, and to your general lifestyle. If you have access to Planet Green (channel 194 on DishNetwork) check it out and see if it gives you any ideas on greening your life.

Planet Green : Sustainable Living, Energy Conservation, Earth Day

CoolGlobes: greening the globe

CoolGlobesAnother great art as education/activism has apparently been going on this summer and will be continuing through the fall and into next year. The project, CoolGlobes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet, is an exhibit that began in Chicago last summer (’07) that features sculpted globes, each about 5 feet in diameter which were intended to “to create awareness and provoke discussion about a potential solution to global warming”. Some of the globes are currently on display in Washington DC and San Francisco with an exhibit coming soon to San Diego and to London in 2009. If you see one of these exhibits, send us a picture of video.

RGS Guide to Publishing in Geography

The RGS-IBG along with Wiley-Blackwell have released Publishing in Geography: A Guide for New Researchers. The 64 page guide is available for free both through an online viewer and a handy downloadable PDF version. The publisher suggests that their “aim was to create an accessible guide to showcase the best ways to publish, and to encourage new researchers to publish their research.” No matter what level of the publishing process you are at this might be a handy guide to look through. The document, as expected, focuses on formal publishing in print journals, but there are sections on electronic journals and the relatively new Open Access models that exist. The fact that the guide mentions these at all is promising in my view, but that’s just me 🙂

Where does your name live?

If you have any mild interest in genealogy, then check out this name checker application. You enter in your surname and it reports back to you the places in the world where your last name is most popular. Mine showed some surprising results – for a French last name, there aren’t any listed in any French speaking places! The US has the lion’s share, which wasn’t exactly unexpected. However, apparently there are a lot in the UK and Argentina. Who knew? If you click on the map and drill down, you can ultimately get to county level data (or equivalent) for much of the world.

Be warned, however, their data is questionable. They say the data comes from telephone directories or election registers from 2000-2005. However, there are no people listed with my last name living in the place I’ve lived for the last 8 years! So at least one data point is missing!

Plaidcast up and kicking for the new semester

For those of you interested in modern Cultural/Political Geography goings on I would like to remind you of a podcast I pointed out last Spring…The Plaid Avenger Plaidcast. After a summer hiatus, class is back in session and the PlaidAvenger has once again donned his mask to provide his unique take on Geography. This podcast, which is intended to support a particular professor’s class on World Regions, provides some great background and insight into current events and provides a wealth of information in an amazingly digestible way for anyone. After getting the Plaid Avenger to attend the New Media panel at the AAG in Boston it is clear that John is simply a tremendous presence in the classroom and out and that Katie has her work cut out for her as an editor.