Thursday, December 31, 2009

#417 Mappy New Year

My dad always told us to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's day for good luck. Here are the counties where the highest percentage of land is devoted to growing those lucky little legumes.

Yours in getting 2010 off to a lucky start,

Monday, December 21, 2009

#416 Mappy Christmas

Yours in mapping where Christmas trees are born,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

#415 Mappy Birthday To Me

Sagittarian thanks to all birthday well-wishers. Today, December 16, Mary baked my favorite homemade pumpkin pie, Chris bought my Indian lunch, and Bethany treated me to an after-work beverage alongside my Scholars' Lab colleagues. Do you understand why every year December 17 is one of my least-favorite days?

Today there's been no mention of my age, thank you, and only those of you with crazy math skills will be able to decipher that number from this map.

Yours in appreciating my birthday bonanza,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

#414 "Dear Respected Official..."

In a Staunton, Virginia parking garage scrawled on the wall below this noisy, flashing "ULTRASONIC BIRD REPELLER",

we found this message:

Dear Respected Official who allocated the funds for that obnoxious "bird repeller", It isn't working. There's a bird sitting on the conduit powering the device. Try again! P.S. Since it is such an obvious waste of energy, and is horribly irritating, I went ahead and unplugged it for you. You're welcome
Yours in enjoying, but not condoning, creative graffiti,

Sunday, December 06, 2009

#413 Mappy Holidays!

We've officially kicked off the holiday season by hosting an after-work Mappy Holidays party on Friday for an enthusiastic Scholars' Lab crowd, followed by a dusting of snow on Saturday. Bring on the holidays!

Yours in getting the holidays off to a very mappy start,

Thursday, November 26, 2009

#412 Mappy Thanksgiving!

Yours in mapping counties where turkey production is way, way above average,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

#411 Pumpkin Pie

See how happy I am with a plate of pumpkin pie? Mary knows this, so she keeps me stocked in pumpkin goodness all through November and December.

I didn't write the hit song, "Next year, I’m not coming if you don’t have pumpkin pie", but I wish I had. That credit goes to The Tory Party. (Nod to Erika!)

Yours in the height of pumpkin pie season,

#410 Another GPS happy ending!

Our friend Sam tells a fine GPS story starting with this Tweet:
Phone rang while jogging and car key fell out of pocket when I answered. Luckily runkeeper iPhone app had marked the gps location. Key found!

And in case you need a little more info than a 140-char Tweet can provide...
The RunKeeper app has a feature where you can pause and resume your run. When you do that, you get a little gray pin that shows exactly where things were paused. Another one shows where they picked up again. Since the phone application has the ultimate priority on an iPhone, the app was automatically paused when the phone rang, pin-pointing my position. So, since I don't think the developers' intent was to keep track of exact positions of incoming phone calls, it was also an example of an unintended software feature.
Yours in enjoying all the GPS stories with happy endings,

Monday, November 23, 2009

#409 GPS Happy Ending

Sadly, Geography Awareness Week is over. But we all know geography matters all year round, so let's not wait until next year to enjoy this GPS story from Kathy.

View Larger Map
"Hey there! So, the other day, me, Mark, and Tiffany found ourselves looking for something to do on a Sunday in Norway. We decided to drive south from Oslo to Fredrikstad and check things out. On Sunday night we were driving back up to Kongsberg where we have been working. The "lady in the box" (GPS!) was bravely barking out directions as Tiffany drove us north toward Oslo, so we could then head west to Kongsberg after getting around the bay (Oslofjord). The GPS turned us off of the freeway, westward, which seemed a little confusing at the time, because we were well short of Oslo. As it became clear we were headed toward water, I figured we must be coming up on a bridge. We drove closer to the water, but couldn't see very well in the dark & the big line of cars waiting ahead of us. We passed through a toll booth & were surprised at how expensive it was. When we saw the cars stopped again, we then rationalized it was a toll bridge. Of course, in retrospect, that would have had to be the longest toll bridge ever. I don't know who spotted it first, but we (eventually!!) discovered that we were in a line for a ferry. We were completely boxed in with other cars waiting when we started wondering where the ferry was going. After a short wait, we drove on to the boat with everyone else. When we were en route, we got out & mingled around on the upper deck with everyone else. I found a map on the wall, stopped a woman walking by, and asked her if she could please show me where this ferry was going. If she was surprised, she didn't let on -- apparently, she gets stopped every day by random strangers on ferry in the middle of a bay wondering where the boat is taking them!!! I reported back to Mark & Tiffany, and we all agreed it was a beautiful night for a boat ride & that we completely lucked out on catching a ferry to a place we actually wanted to go. :>) Life is good."
Yours in loving a GPS story with a happy ending,

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

#408 International GIS Day 2009

Happy GIS Day 2009! We celebrated GIS Day at the University of Virginia Scholars' Lab in the traditional way...with cake!

UVA alum and former rocket scientist Andrew Turner delivered the public keynote “Neogeography: from Tower to Town Hall” wrapping up the first Institute For Enabling Geospatial Scholarship.

Then we ate cake!

Yours in celebration,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

#407 Kudos to Joel Silver

Not because he invented the game of Ultimate Frisbee. I've never played. And not because he produced the Die Hard movies or The Matrix movies. I've never seen them. But BIG kudos to movie producer Joel Silver for rescuing Auldbrass, an amazing southern plantation designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Mr. Silver bought a run-down Auldbrass in 1986 and has been investing millions ever since to restore it back to its original design.

And more kudos to Mr. Silver for allowing 600 paying guests to tour his home and farm buildings one weekend every other year. We entered the plantation last weekend - on what had to be the most beautiful South Carolina day ever - by walking up the Cherokee Red curbed driveway made of crushed brick.
Under the Live Oak trees, we came first to the farm buildings - the kennels to the right and the stables to the left.

We walked through the opening in the farm buildings and continued on to what we (and 598 of our new friends) wanted most to see, the main house.

Photos were allowed outside the house only and believe it or not, we took this photo of the living room from outside.

Yours in appreciating the designs of Mr Wright, the dedication of Mr. Silver, and the beauty of a South Carolina November day,

Monday, November 09, 2009

#406 Mappy Veterans Day 2009

In 1952, an Emporia, Kansas shoe repairman had an idea to expand Armistice Day to be a celebration of all veterans.

In 1954, President Eisenhower made it official and Veterans Day was born.

Yours in honoring all who served,

Sunday, November 01, 2009

#405 Joyce, Lynn, and Roller Derby

Joyce and Lynn flew in from Kansas City on Saturday morning and that's when the fun began! The Johnston Visitor Plan almost always includes some time on the back deck when the weather is good.

And a tour of the UVA grounds is a must. But in a surprise twist of the JVP, our weekend included a bout between the Charlottesville Derby Dames (in the blue uniforms) and the Northside Stranglers from Richmond.

Yes, that's right. Roller derby.

Yours in jamming with the Dames,

Saturday, October 31, 2009

#404 Mappy Halloween!

Which states devote the largest acreage rates to pumpkin production according to the 2002 Census of US Agriculture?

Yours in mapping Halloween,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

#403 Melody returns to Cville

We love it when Indy friends come for a return visit!

Since Melody's visit coincided with UVA's Family Weekend, we invited her to join us for a Semester at Sea presentation and for Kelly's GPS extravaganza. You are a good sport, Melody!

Of course we made time for food. Our first visit to Belmont's Bel Rio restaurant introduced us to good food, good music, and friends from UVA and SAS. Thanks for coming and next time we promise to get you out of the library!

Yours in modifying the Johnston Visitor Plan,

Sunday, October 04, 2009

#402 Sam and Shannon and Bono Vox visit Charlottesville

Although they needed 80 tractor-trailer trucks to carry all their things, Sam, Shannon, and Bono Vox all came together in the Johnston Visitor Plan this weekend in Charlottesville.
During Sam and Shannon's visit, Mary and I were
  • entertained by the fabulous actors at the Blackfriars Playhouse, the world's only replica of Shakespeare's indoor theater.
  • entertained by a discussion of iPhone augmented reality over some of Mrs. Rowe's pecan pie.
Yours in appreciating excellent entertainment,

Sunday, September 13, 2009

#401 Mary, Frank, and me

For 15 years, we've been married and for 15 years we've been traveling to see Frank Lloyd Wright - designed buildings. For our anniversary, we celebrated with Wright's museum masterpiece, the Guggenheim Museum, in New York City. While in the neighborhood, we admired other architecture in the city including the Empire State Building... The art deco masterpiece at 51st and Lexington... The magnificent interior of Grand Central Terminal... And the funky art deco Chrysler Building... And then we met up with our friend Keri for dinner in the West Village and we didn't even talk about architecture one bit. Yours in appreciating good architecture and a good wife,

Monday, August 03, 2009

#400 From Switzerland to Texas

From the Alps of Switzerland, we traveled directly to the plains of Texas. And we noticed a few differences. The music was good in Switzerland - especially the yodeling, the Alpine horns, and the cow bells - but in Texas we were serenaded with country music over margaritas. The food was good in Switzerland - especially the rosti and the Simmental burgers - but in Texas we had Aunt Wanda's beautiful biscuits and homemade grape jam. The traveling was outstanding in Switzerland - especially the panoramic train, the cable car, and the funicular - but in Texas we tried the TriKing Kobra, a stand-up human-powered vehicle.

Yours in enjoying the differences,

Thursday, July 30, 2009

#399 Swiss travel

Our summer vacation included a variety of transportation - just the way we like it. We flew overnight from Charlottesville to Frankfurt and traveled by car from Frankfurt to Switzerland. Here we are in the roomy back seat enjoying the ride. In Switzerland, we left our car behind because no cars are allowed where we wanted to go. Murren is a car-free city. We traveled by cable car from Stechelberg in the Lauterbrunnen valley up to Murren. (See how lightly I'm holding on?) We traveled further up hill from Murren by funicular. We traveled downhill by foot. We didn't travel by high heels, because they aren't allowed. Back down in the valley, we found our train and we traveled in the front car with a tremendous view of the Simmental valley to Lake Geneva. No matter how you go, Switzerland's views are worth the trip.

Yours in alpine travel,

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

#398 Swiss hiking

Hiking maps are different in Switzerland. They look more like ski maps. Warming up for a hike is different in Switzerland. It looks more like dancing. Flowers are different in Switzerland. They look more vertical. The scenery looks different in Switzerland. It looks more alpine. The family looks good in the thin air. Click on the link to 'See all our photos' to find our Switzerland photo set.

Yours in loving all the differences in the land of the Alps,

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

#397 Swiss music

I like the music of Switzerland. They offer something for everybody. Those haunting Swiss Alpine horns... And atmospheric Swiss yodelers... And metallic Swiss cow bells... And timeless Rod Stewart... OK, so Rod Stewart isn't Swiss, but the Swiss like him. Yours in enjoying the music of Switzerland, Mary

Thursday, July 09, 2009

#396 Fabulous Fourth

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic..." On July 4, we watched and listened as 66 new US citizens declared their loyalty in a moving outdoor naturalization ceremony on Monticello’s west lawn. The flags were flying, the band was playing, and our librarian friends were everywhere! We came away full of American pride.

Yours in patriotic fury,