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Sunday, August 31, 2008
 Cyclist attacks police car 
That's what you would think from listening to the video commentary in a Rochester TV news clip that shows a cyclist who appears to be riding adjacent to a police car that passes much too close to the cyclist.

The car then turns into the cyclists' path, a common crash situation that has it's own name, the 'right hook'. Despite almost crashing into the cyclist, the policeman chases stops the cyclist and lectures him about not obeying the rules of the road. The commentary states that "a bicycle darts out from the side and narrowly misses being struck by the patrol car." Incredible

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 USGS Gulf Coast streamgage map 
The USGS is hosting a map of possible flood conditions based on real-time streamgage data. The streamgages are depicted as circles color-coded according to their current levels compared to historical levels. The red squares are storm surge sensors.
Because the data from about 4,200 of the 7,292 stations are telemetered by an earth-satellite-based communications system, those data are available in realtime for many agencies to conduct water-resources projects and for the National Weather Service (NWS) to forecast floods.

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Monday, August 25, 2008
 Geography quiz 
I was a geography major in college. As such, everyone thinks I can name all the state capital (is it capitol or capital?) and know all the countries of the world. That wasn't exactly part of the curriculum. We mostly studied spatial analysis concepts, air photo interpretation, computer mapping (on IBM cards no less), but not tests on state capitals or county locations.

However, I've always thought of myself as being knowledgeable about the ways (and countries) of the world. That is until I took the Geography quiz. After selecting a region of interest, you are presented with a color choropleth map of countires without names. You are asked to point to the country in question. I flunked. I keep trying. I keep flunking.

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 GPS Visualizer 
GPS Visualizer is a free, easy-to-use online utility that creates maps and profiles from GPS data (tracks and waypoints, including GPX files), street addresses, or simple coordinates. Use it to see where you've been, plan where you're going, or visualize geographic data (business locations, scientific observations, events, customers, real estate, geotagged photos, etc.).

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Friday, August 22, 2008
 Suburban neighborhood stores 
Over the past 50 years or so the U.S. has grown out instead of up. In this area, Northern Virginia, most of the growth until recently was in the outer suburbs of Loudoun County in single-family houses on large lots, on cul-de-sacs that don't connect. The streets have few sidewalks and there are no bike lanes on the roads. People drive everywhere.

Why not allow small, locally-owned stores to be developed in these communities. Instead of driving 5 miles to get a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, or other daily essentials, small stores could be scattered around these communities, connected by trails and bike-friendly roads. A section of the store could serve coffee, sell newspapers, and provide a local gathering place. Residents could actually meet each other and have a place to entertain themselves locally.

In most suburban communities, this is not possible. Zoning regulations usually forbid commercial development in these residential areas. If it is are allowed, it is often separated by a fence or other buffer. Granted, not everyone wants to live next to a store with people driving in and out and parking nearby, but if planned properly, they can be made to fit in. You could even require customers to arrive on foot or bike. I think it's time to rethink our zoning laws.

The laws are changing since almost all new development now is based on new urbanism principles with mixed uses in one development. These developments, like the Reston Town Center, try to recreate traditional city neighborhoods where there is ground floor retail with offices and residences in floors above. The concept was discussed in Jane Jacobs' seminal work The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Why not apply the same principles to existing, residential-only suburban developments?

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008
 Too much sun 
I'm a firm believer in using sunscreen but that wasn't always the case. I've spent many long hours in the sun with unprotected skin. In the past couple of years I've had a few actinic keratoses removed from my face by a doctor using liquid nitrogen. One spot, right on the tip of my nose, kept returning. The latest skin doctor did a biopsy and discovered basal cell carcinoma. Luckily it was caught relatively early. Yesterday I had Mohs surgery to remove the cancer.

To repair the area of the surgery skin was pulled from nearby and stitched into place. I tried not to watch but couldn't resist; it's a bit disconcerting to see large patches of skin being moved around on your face. After removing the bandages today the area looks surprisingly smooth. Maybe I won't look like Frankenstein after all. One day I may post some photos.

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Friday, August 01, 2008
The summer is passing quickly. Probably one reason for so few entries here is the time spent watching the Tour de France during the month of July. I spent way too much time watching some of the live coverage in the morning on Versus, then the recap show in the evening.

Despite the absence of many of the pre-race favorites such as last year's winner Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, and sprinter Tom Boonen, it was an exciting race. The winner was not known until the next to last stage, the individual time trail, when Carlos Sastre, put in the best performance of his career, holding off Cadel Evans, a time trial specialist.

American Christian Vande Velde finished fifth and rode an excellent race. Christian will be heading to Beijing soon to compete in the Olympics. See the Christian Vande Velde blog on USA Today.

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