Tag Archives: random

Integer Latitude / Longitude

I was very happy to recently realize that you can put latitude and longitude directly into google maps, and it will give you a map with that marker.  This is really useful if the address gives you a location that isn’t right, as you can manually adjust the latitude and longitude to put the marker in the right place.

My parents almost live on the 44 degree lat line (I think the GPS coords for our wedding were 43.9998), so it occurred to me to see where the closest integer Lat / Long was to them, which isn’t that far away, though it’s close to a mile off any of the local roads. 

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=44,+-73&sll=43.997939,-72.988658&sspn=0.013244,0.06609&ie=UTF8&ll=44.007694,-72.995825&spn=0.006622,0.033045&t=h&z=14&iwloc=addr&output=embed&s=AARTsJqH-YRBtxlABQEMAHKGLzj7oyghMw” scrolling=”no” width=”600″ frameborder=”0″ height=”450″>
View Larger Map

I was obviously curious where the closed one was to me, which I’ve actually been past before. It’s also only a couple hundred feet of a road, so easy to get to.

And that made me wonder. What an interesting experiment that would be, to get a photo from ever integer lat / long on the planet, and display it on a website. I’ve got too many sticks in the fire, so no time for that, but if anyone decides to do it, let me know. I’ll contribute a few pictures from the ones I can get to.

Updated: apparently this already exists, my search terms were just wrong the first time.  It’s called the Degree Confluence Project.

Odd Observance

The gas station that I use on the way to work underwent construction during December.  When I stopped to get gas this morning, I noticed that they had posted a set of google map directions to St. Francis Hospital (one of the local big hospitals) next to the pump, as well as listed some emergency numbers.   I have no idea why, speculations are welcomed in comments.

Things wish I knew yesterday…

or sometime over the last 12 months, in no particular order

  • I’m one of those folks that has lucid dreams while taking malaria meds.  The dreams are cool, though I could leave behind all the waking up in the middle of the night.
  • My TV has audio optical out, but won’t pass Dolby 5.1 through from the HDMI cable.  Never trust the satelite installers.
  • Football is really awesome in actual Dolby 5.1 (or 4.1 in my case), though it takes some getting used to random people’s voices popping up from time to time behind you.
  • irb (the interactive ruby intepretter) does tab complete, but only if you enable it manually.  You get tab complete in the rails console, so I was always just using that.
  • irb does coloring of code!  That definitely one ups the python interactive shell.
  • Wood stove inserts for fireplaces are really painless installs and manage to throw an incredible amount of heat.
  • Amazon S3 really is that easy, and quite cheap to be used for offsite backup.
  • An automated backup solution for all your home systems is a single apt-get away.
  • xkcd really is that awesome.

Fruit is in the eye of the beholder

Last week was the first week of cucumbers from the Poughkeepsie Farm Project. There is nothing quite like a vine fresh, picked that day cucumber. Cucumbers are one of the few vegetables that Jay will eat, so we gave him one with dinner.

The scifi night crowd is group of folks that love pedanticness and being right, more than most. It only took a minute for the statement “well, a cucumber is actually a fruit” to come out. The whole group was a bit fuzzy on the definition, though later wikipedia gave the most succinct one I’ve seen so far: a fruit is the ripened ovary—together with seeds—of a flowering plant (and yes, cucumbers, squash, and even nuts are fruit by that definition). We got pretty close to this definition by group think, which led to inevitably less appealing descriptions of what folks were eating, which I’ll leave to your imagination. Pedanticness aside, fruit is sweet, vegetables are savory, is probably as good a division as any. By this measure I’d still put tomatoes on the fruit side of the line, but then again, the definition is so loose that it’s about as useful as defining planets.

Cucumbers have almost no nutritional value, as they are mostly water, and they grow in about 7 days. Part of the reason that vegetables have such high contents of nutrients is because they take time to grow, and those nutrients take a while to fixate. There was recently a lot of news about that fact that modern vegetables are way less nutritious than those of 60 years ago, which isn’t entirely surprising given mass production in the industry, and the market incentives for speeding up production of vegetables for market.

But on the slow vegetable side of things, we’ve got the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, where Susan and I were picking cucumbers, lettuce, and beets this weekend for the Saturday pickup. After our work shift was over, we picked our own strawberries at the farm (if I wasn’t sold on the slow and organic approach to things, the taste of these strawberries would have made me a believer), and then headed off to a wild black raspberry (and apparently black berry) patch I found last year, that no one seems to pick. 2 quarts of black raspberries later, and a quick stop at the local farmers market for local wine, cheese, and blueberries, and we were home, with an incredible harvest of goods to eat.

As we were sitting out on the porch, nibbling on some berries, I started thinking about raspberries, black raspberries, and black berries. Most fruit is incredibly cultivated. Apples, for instance, are all clones, as it is the only way to ensure the same flavor. The precursor to corn is pretty incredible looking, and you’d never recognize it as such (there is a good Scientific American article about it from 3 years ago). But berries, especially wild berries, seem to be an exception. While there is some cultivation in strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, the wild varieties still exist and thrive, if you know where to look. I’ve got wild strawberries in my lawn, wild blueberries are easily found along many of the local hiking trails, and raspberries… well, they are out there, but I won’t tell you where, because we like picking them so much, and we are fortunate enough to live in an area where picking wild berries seems to be foreign to the minds of most people here. 🙂

Updated: better link on the vegetable nutrient decline.

Winter arrives… finally

It’s pretty pathetic that the 1/2″ of snow that came down last night got everyone here excited, but it did. We’ve now broken the record for latest snowfall in a season in Poughkeepsie (previous record was Jan 14th). It’s just enough snow so that our lawns are white instead of green (yes green, as the crazy warm weather meant lawns didn’t really brown over this winter).

I just hope we get a real storm at some point (6 inches would be great), as I’d really like to get out to do some kind of winter sports this year. Susan and I are all geared up for x-country skiing, snow shoeing, sledding, or ice skating, and haven’t gotten to use any of that gear since February of last year.