Archive for May, 2010


Posted in Make Your Own: with tags , , , , , on May 29, 2010 by Aaron

There are new pictures up of the garden. On the right sidebar you will find a link to them in “Other Things”. Check it out!

North Korea

Posted in Travel with tags , on May 25, 2010 by Aaron

“The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea… formally declares that from now on it will put into force the resolute measures to totally freeze the inter-Korean relations, totally abrogate the agreement on non-aggression between the North and the South and completely halt the inter-Korean cooperation,” KCNA reported.

There is something strange about this statement coming from this committee…


Posted in Space with tags , , , , , , , on May 18, 2010 by Aaron

Watching this was unbelievable. We got there about 2 hours before the launch and there were already a ton of people around who had staked out what appeared to be the best spots. Walking around we happened to stumble onto a secret little strip of land right next to what appeared to be a crowded parking lot. We were able to be right on the water without a crush of people making things unpleasant. I highly recommend that everyone go to the remaining launches. You will feel your lungs vibrate…

1 Year Anniversary

Posted in Space, Travel with tags on May 13, 2010 by Aaron

Today I have had a blog for 1 year. Looking back and thinking about everything is a lot. Mostly I write about beer. Sometimes I write about space or food. My most read blog post unfortunately involved Farmville.

If I were a sports player here would be my stats:

  • Total Views: +16,500
  • Busiest Day: 423 (1/22/2010)
  • Posts: 81 (including this one)
  • Comments: 52
  • Categories: 12
  • Tags: 304
  • Subscribers: 0 (this is less sad than it sounds, I never had a subscription link up until recently…)

Since this is a new year, I will have to think about what I want to accomplish. I would like to make more posts about how to do things or what I thought about things. That sounds like almost every other blog out there. That is fine, at least until I start to take this more seriously.

So, wish me luck! Today I leave for a road trip to Florida. I plan on being present for one of the last shuttle launches this country will see (until they build a new spaceship). STS-132 @ 2:20 PM on Friday May 14th, 2010 A.D. I have never seen a spaceship in person before and am pretty excited about it. The 20 hour drive will be worthwhile unless it gets postponed……. then it will all be for South of the Border!

Lying with Maps: In Action!

Posted in Random Musings, Travel with tags , , , on May 7, 2010 by Aaron

Here are two different versions of what the current UK election results look like with different map projections (these were taken from the BBC website):

For context to this post see the “How to Lie with Maps” post. One of these maps is most interested in representing geographical area and the other is interested in population.

Best Stupid Thing on the Web

Posted in Movies with tags , , on May 4, 2010 by Aaron

This is the best website I have seen in a very long time.

How to Lie with Maps

Posted in Random Musings, Travel with tags , on May 3, 2010 by Aaron

When I was in school I took a lot of Geography courses. One of my textbooks was How to Lie with Maps by Mark Monmonier. A very interesting book. The basic concept is that it is impossible to represent a round surface on a flat one without distorting something. Remember how when you look at a map of the world and Greenland looks to be almost as big as the entire continental US? It isn’t really that big. Look at a globe and you can see the difference.

The reason this happens is because in order to make most of the continents look like they actually look, map makers stretch out the land masses in the polar regions. The only area on the map (to the left) where scale and distance is exactly correct is at the equator. The further North or South you go the more distorted everything gets. This is just one way that they can distort maps.

For most people this doesn’t matter. Most people live in the regions that look mostly correct. I bet it you meet someone from Greenland and you ask them how they feel about their county being grossly misrepresented on maps, they will have something to say about it.

This even happens on smaller scale maps. A map of Montana for instance. The following two maps were distorted differently with the math used to create them. One tries to preserve the curved perspective of the latitudinal lines as seen on the actual curved Earth. The other map ignores this so that it can show the East/West lines as straight.

Now you ask how is this lying? Well, it is distorting the representation of the Earth because it has to. Think about it a different way though. All maps have a purpose: road maps, naval navagational maps, topographical maps, political leanings, climatic maps, weather maps, underground cave maps, etc. If you are looking at a road map for the state of Montana, are the roads actually as big as the lines drawn on the map? Of course not! Are the towns only as big as the dots used to represent them? Do the forests of parks begin and end exactly where the lines make them? When a river runs right next to a road they might move it a bit on the map so that it can easily be seen and differentiated. The maker of the map has to choose what is important and what isn’t or else a map would get way to cluttered with information to be of any use.

These two maps use slighty different data but they do show two very different ways of looking at the US political trends. Area vs. Electoral Votes. One map looks fairly even and the other leans towards the blue.

Here is an interesting article from the BBC about maps.

A good map delivers concise information in a very clear way for a specific purpose. That purpose is decided by the creator of the map.

Childhood Obesity a “National Threat”

Posted in Random Musings with tags , , , , , , on May 1, 2010 by Aaron

I read an interesting article today. The military is petitioning Congress to “… introduce laws to give US children better nutrition in schools, with less sugar, salt and fat.” It isn’t upsetting that Congress should be interested in school lunches or national obesity rates (for children or adults). The problem is that it takes the military being interested in it for anything to happen.

A December 2009 Report found that KFC serves better chicken than our schools, Jack-in-the-Box has standards for bacteria levels 10 times more strict. They wouldn’t even buy the “food” we feed public school kids.

I am all for feeding kids real food. I also think it is a little ironic to do so in order that they can grow up big and strong so we can go stomp on people (that probably don’t get publicly subsidized school lunches) in other countries.