Archive for the ‘Geography’ Category

Sep 02.08.d245/w36
Copenhagen Canal Tour

Greetings from Copenhagen, Denmark! I arrived safely last Wednesday and have spent the past week getting acclimated to my new surroundings! It’s been amazing so far. Aside from this entry, I won’t be posting much about my trip here.

The school I will be attending took us on a tour of Copenhagen’s canals as part of our orientation, and I unfortunately didn’t bring my camera to take pictures. So I went back the next day on a different boat tour just to take some pictures. Here are just a few of the shots I took:

The famous new harbor

Copenhagen's famous new harbor

Church

Church

Its just so storybook-like!

It's just so storybook-like!

The famous Little Mermaid

The famous Little Mermaid

Opera House -- I think, I should have paid more attention on the tour!

Opera House -- I think, I should have paid more attention on the tour!

The Black Diamond (Royal Library)

The Black Diamond (Royal Library)

Bikes on Strøget, one of Copenhagens longest pedestrian streets.

(Not part of the canal tour). Bikes on Strøget, one of Copenhagen's longest pedestrian streets.

Jul 02.08.d183/w27
Savannah, Georgia

Hey, I’m back! Last week my family took a road trip to Savannah, Georgia. My grandmother grew up there, and we visited many of the places from her childhood during the trip — her high school, churches, the public library, her old neighborhoods to name a few. Of course, things had changed since she was last there, but it was still very exciting (and meaningful)! We had a lot of fun. Below are just a few of the other sights we saw. Click the images for larger versions.

This is the beautiful house in which we stayed, 109 W. Jones Street. It’s been historically restored from the 1800s and is used for vacation rentals. My uncle thought it would be better than a hotel, because then we could relax and have more space and privacy. It was all that and more, and very luxurious!

109 W. Jones Street

The outside patio of our rented house

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Jun 16.08.d167/w25
Putting the world into perspective

I once saw a book for kids at a science museum gift shop that used interesting visuals to put certain things in perspective. Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the book because it was so long ago, but I’m pretty sure it was published by Klutz.

One example from the book included a spinner that displayed your statistical chance of being born into the richest 10% of the world’s population. Much of the “western” and “developed” countries were included in this 10%. I created a quick little graph to illustrate this example below. I’m not sure if “10%” is the number they used in the book, but you get the idea.

Chances of being born into the richest 10% of the World

9 spins out of 10, the pointer would land on the red portion. And in all of our cases, this spinner was “spun” before we were even born. We can do the best we can with what we’re born into, but it is not always easy. I know that I’m lucky to have so much going for me (a great family, great friends, a relatively safe town, a good education), and I’m working on not being so materialistic and to focus on cutting back whenever possible. Also, I understand that being born into a “rich” nation does not necessarily mean you are rich in general. The United States has an especially large disparity between the rich and poor, something I feel we should all be working harder to close, somehow.

Another interesting example in the book that really stood out to me was an illustration of a world map. The map looked like any normal map, except for one thing — look at the images below and you’ll see what I mean (these particular maps come from the Nations Online Project).

Map #1:

World Map

On first glance, I was compelled to say that this maps is “wrong”, that it is “upside down” and “flipped.” But then I realized that no, it is wrong from what perspective? We’re accustomed to seeing maps oriented in a certain accepted way, but that doesn’t mean that that “accepted way” is the “correct” way. In the universe, there is no direction. There is no North or South, no East and West. There is no top and there is no bottom. We use directions because they make it easier for us to pinpoint locations, but it is still a human construct. If an alien species were to happen upon our planet and marvel at the beauty of its landmasses and water from space — so much that they wanted to draw them, do you think they would know to orient the continents from the ONE perspective that we accept as correct? Here’s another example:

Map #2:

World Map

The book suggested that the way we orient our world map may reflect notions of superiority, with the implication that some locations are on “top” of others, and that some locations come first. Whether or not you agree, it does challenge you to think of the world in a different light — and raises some interesting questions. How  different do you think the world would be if we adopted another standard for the “correct” display of maps? How much of an effect, if any, does map orientation have on the perception of a country and its place in the world?

Aug 20.05.d231/w33
Back in America

Hey folks, back to the world of the living!! Last time I wrote, I was still in Spain and cracking on the project!! I just sort of had a long break from writing while I focused on other things! But now I’ve decided to write at least something, because I miss it!!

The trip back to America from Spain was for the most part uneventful. The night before we left, there was a huge end-of-project dinner. I was sad that it was all ending. :( We only had a few hours after the dinner ended before we had to board a bus to the airport.

The flight from Santiago to Madrid was not the greatest. It was short and a bit bumpy. Plus the plane was loud. The flight from Madrid to Miami was LOOOONG (9 hours), they showed 2 movies. The flight from Miami to RDU was delayed for 2 hours due to bad weather. That sucked. We were all tired. But once we got to Miami, let me tell you, we were chipper again!

Anyways that was 3 weeks ago, lol!! It took me a while to get myself together once I was home. I was seriously jet-lagged. I felt disoriented; like I was walking with a veil over my head. Even though I never did adjust to the 6-hour time difference in Spain, I could feel it when I got back home. Then I came down with a cold for a week.

I just have to say, the experience in Spain was amazing, and I definately plan to go back one day. There were many things I’d like to do, many more places to see. I just am fascinated that there is just so much more out there than what is familiar.

Jul 26.05.d206/w30
Visit from the Embassador

I have some random free time and so I’m posting this quick entry. The American ambassador to Spain came to visit this morning. We showed him the progress on our site so far and then he, his wife, daughter and colleagues walked around the labs to see us work. He gave a little speech, saying that it’s nice to see Spain, Chile and the United States working together on a project like this, because cooperation between countries makes his job eaiser to do! We took a huge group picture of everyone on the project, which you can see at left!

Jul 25.05.d205/w30
Carnivals and Festivals

The past few days have been fun. The bomb that went off was small and blamed on the ETA group, a Basque terrorist organization that wants Galicia to be its own country and not part of Spain. Anyway, I’m sure the news made sound more serious than it really was.

Today, the 25th, is the Day of the Apostle, and the town is full of pilgrims and people who have come in from all over Galicia. At night, the streets are packed. It will be 3 am in the morning and there are hundreds of people sitting out in the streets, families, children, everyone. It’s amazing. Last night was the big fireworks show at the cathedral; it was pretty spetacular. I went with my friends Brian, Kristen and Katherine to see the fireworks and then to the carnival afterwards. The carnival has been going on for several days now; last night was my third night there. Since it’s a night carnival, there are plenty of lights, loud music, announcers’ voices (can’t understand what they’re saying though), games, food and of course rides! On the first night, we did the bumper cars, a funhouse, this crazy ride called “the Boomerang” and this other frog-hopping ride that spins you around in a circle and hops you up and down. Of all the rides, the Boomerang was the scariest. It’s like a giant pendulum, and the riders sit in the part that swings back and forth. As you swing, you go higher and higher and spin around til you’re practically upside down and you definately feel the G-forces on your body! One time on that was enough for me! I did go on the frog hopping ride three times though.

Oh and the cotton candy was ridiculous. For 2 Euros they give you a HUGE amount. It’s like that with the other foods, too.
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Jul 21.05.d201/w29
Helado de la Fresa

My new favorite food is strawberry ice cream (fresa in Spanish). I’ve had so much of it in the past few days. There are ice cream vendors on practically every street corner. I had a cone with 2 scoops of strawberry ice cream today. I want some more!!! We ordered Chinese take out last night, I got chicken with mushrooms. It was all right, not as good as Charlie’s or Asia Cafe but at least it cured my craving.

We had a project-wide meeting 2 days ago, where Rich gave us an update of how things are coming along and the deadlines for the next two weeks. We want to have this site done on the 28th. 7 days…a week from today?! Eeek! we’ll see what happens! I mean, even if we’re not 100% done in a week, we’ll certainly be close to done.

I’m going to be working on programming a 3-D map that highlights all of the towns visited on the story about walking the Ancient Pilgrimage route and has a picture popping up by each town. I’m really excited about this site so far and what we’ve got. On Tuesday, we saw more photographs for the photo stories and they look great. Also, the info graphics are cool. There’s going to be an interactive monastery, an a chave game, an illustrated horreo (for the farming story), a fishing graphic, a food graphic I believe, a graphic about the rapa das bestas, an interactive zanfona, a story jukebox and more.

I really want to go swimming. There’s a pool nearby. I also want to do some more exploring around town. They’re setting up for the 25th, which is the Day of the Apostle. I hear there’s supposed to be some serious fireworks, festivals and street fairs.

Jul 17.05.d197/w28
Enjoying the days…

Time is really flying by. I’ve been enjoying these days though. Got up early yesterday morning to wash my clothes. That was easy, but a little annoying because the dryers don’t fully dry your clothes. I saved 2 euros by hanging a some clothes up around my room to dry. We’ve been making dinner as a group and having grill-outs in the park. Last night we had chicken fajitas, they were delicious. I also had some delicious strawberry ice-cream the other day, as well as pizza. Today for lunch I had a ham and cheese sandwich with fries. It was from that same sandiwch place across the street from the journalism school that I didn’t like before. But now that I know that “j(x)amon york y queso” means regular ham and cheese, I can get good stuff.

I’ve been hard at work on the player skin. Lots of refining and revising and then more refining and revising. The air conditioner was broken in the lab for 2 days this past week, and working there became unbearable. I had to do some work in my dorm because I couldn’t concentrate. If I think it’s hot, then you know it’s hot! Thankfully it’s fixed now.

I didn’t get a chance to go back up to the mountains, because us designers are supposed to stay in the labs now to work. However a beach trip is in the works. We have some awesome programmers on our team who have built a custom content-management system for building all of the slideshows and putting the stories together. So building the stories shouldn’t be too hard. The hard part for us designers is programming all of the info graphics that will be in the site. Thankfully I’ve only got one info graphic to worry about – a cool topographical map that zooms around showing all the locations on The Ancient Way. I’m going to get a bunch of jpgs and will have to make it work, but I’m not worried because we have a lot of people around who know enough programming.

That’s it for this entry. I hope all is well at home!

Jul 12.05.d192/w28
Knowing, World View, Epoché

Just three thoughts about life I’ve been realizing the past few days, especially when I had some time to sit down and think during the trip to the mountains

1. The only thing we can know for sure is the fact that we know nothing. (But that’s a paradox because if we know nothing for sure, then how do we know that we know nothing?)

2. For the most part, people in Western societies (myself included) are programmed to think in a linear fashion, of everything having a starting point and an ending point. That’s one way to view the world. Every beginning is actually an ending, and every ending is a beginning. So beginnings and endings are the same thing. So there’s no such thing as either. With a gradient circular view of life, there are no beginnings and endings. There’s just a continuum. Everything has always been there. With this type of view, it makes it easier to consider that maybe, just maybe, the universe had no beginning. It’s always been here and always will be here.

3. Epoché. Hmm, it’s hot and I’m about to suffocate in this lab. I think I’ll save this one for next time. Until then, feast your minds on this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epoch%C3%A9 . Shortly before I left for Spain, my brother, cousins and I were watching a video of our Grandfather give an entire lecture on this concept (he’s a Professor).

Jul 12.05.d192/w28
A Different World

The past 48 hours were amazing. I mentioned in the previous entry about meeting up with Anna and Nacio in a small rural mountain community where a healer lives (see photos in the link above). I got up very early on Sunday morning (about 6:30-ish) to meet Bonnie Jo and Bernardo, who were also going up there to look over the photos Anna had taken so far. The drive was 3 hours; we had a little trouble finding the road up there, but we eventually found it. The view was spetacular. No words or photos, I’m afraid, can do it justice. The road litterally was winding up the mountain, and you could look out the window and see these amazing landscape. HUGE hills, trees, the valley far below and even more mountains off in the distance.

We met Anna and Nacio in the center of the little town. When I say little, I mean little. It’s very isolated, they don’t get many visitors. Everyone knows everyone else. The houses are stone on the bottom with straw roofs. There are several of these towns sprinkled about around the mountains. Each house has a lot of land, very hilly. There are dogs running around, cats running around, cows running around, chickens running around and bugs flying around in your face.
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