Home | Links | Weblog

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
 9/11 deaths vs. war in Iraq deaths 
The number of American troops killed in Iraq since the beginning of the war, 2,638, is rapidly approaching the total number of people killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks, 2973, and it surpasses the number killed in the World Trade Center buildings, 2,602.

(0) comments
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
 GIS for the masses 
Until recently, the tools of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) were available to those how could afford relatively expensive software. Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) has long been the leader in the field and they have provided some free GIS data viewers such as ArcExplorer and ArcExplorer Web. In order to actually create GIS data, there have been few options. The open source products such as GRASS have had their share of problems and require a certain commitment to installing and learning the software.

There is now an excellent, easy to use tool for creating and displaying GIS data. For $20/year, Google Earth Plus allows users to digitize data using the very detailed Google Earth imagery. One can also incorporate GPS data, import address data, and other capabilities. Google really is trying to take over the world.

I've started to compile a map of bike routes in Fairfax County using the product. Once I've completed the digitization, the points can be transferred to Google Maps and can be displayed by anyone using Google Maps. I've transferred a couple of sample routes, the W&OD Trail to the Vienna Metro station, and what we refer to as the Bicycle Beltway, from Tysons Corner to Springfield. The later is under development, as the roads need to be widened in some spots and restriped in others to create space for cyclists.

(0) comments
Sunday, August 13, 2006
 Bicycling in Tanzania 
There's a good article on bicycling in Tanzania, Tanzania at 15 M.P.H. in the New York Times. The book Bicycling in Africa is mentioned, which also contains a country supplement on Tanzania. I haven't really thought much about the prospect of bicycling there, but when it was mentioned as a possibility, it sounded more and more intriguing. It would be the best way to experience the country if you were armed with enough knowledge to know how to stay out of trouble.

(0) comments
Thursday, August 10, 2006
 Rafting the Pacific 
Just finished an excellent story in the New Yorker, originally published in the June 27, 2005 issue, about a man, Poppa Neutrino, who planned to sail his raft across the pacific. While the article is not online, there is a interview of the author on the New Yorker site. The raft was made from mostly scrap lumber and styrofoam. At one point Neutrino was telling a Mexican fisherman about his planned trip and the fisherman couldn't stop laughing, the idea was so incredible. Neutrino used an earlier raft to sail across the Atlantic. For more info see the Floating Neutrinos web site.

(0) comments
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
 Cost of Dirty Power 
Sierra Magazine contains a good article on the cost of our dependance on coal-fired power plants, and how little the current administration is doing to clean them up:
Since George W. Bush was sworn in, the administration has delayed a plan to reduce emissions of mercury, a powerful neurotoxin; all but stopped filing lawsuits to enforce clean-air rules; and refused to tighten controls on ozone and dust pollution that affects more than 150 million Americans.
Of particular note is the map of the U.S. showing estimated deaths per 100,000 adults due to breathing this dirty air. Time to move to the northwest?

(0) comments
Sunday, August 06, 2006
 Levi wins Tour of Germany stage 
There is finally some good news about U.S. pro cycling. Levi Leipheimer, the defending champion of the Tour of Germany, won a mountain stage today. He is in fourth place, only 18 seconds behind the leader, Jens Voight.

(0) comments
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
 Museum of American Art and National Portrait Gallery 
Recently took a ride into DC to visit the newly renovated Museum of American Art and National Portrait Gallery. The renovation was extensive, and the layout has changed quite a bit. I was lost a few times and had to rely on the location map. Previously the Portrait Gallery was located in the south part of the building and now the two collections are intermingled. It forces one to visit both.

Given the amount of time and effort that went into the physical renovation, it's surprising that the website is so lame. It's as if the forgot to update the site. An example is the Collections & Exhibitions page, which contains almost no links to other information and very few images.

I was more interested in the Portrait Gallery exhibits, which contained many drawings and prints. The highlight for me was the Portrait Competition. It contained 51 works selected from 4,000 entries. Nearly all of the portraits were excellent. They can be viewed at the People's Choice page.

(0) comments