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Food Stuffs.

May 7, 2011

Okay, a week late but, here is your introduction to this months topic.  Food.  I think we’re both pretty excited about this month.  We’re both big fans of food.  On a number of different levels.  It will be a pretty interesting month I think, so long as we stay on top of things and get the posts that we have planned actually up on the blog.  There will be some “foodie” talk and some talk about the whole “foodie” debate, some talk on slow food, farm to school movements, good places we’ve eaten.  There will also probably be some posts looking at the geography of certain food products; where they’re grown and how they differ from place to place, and also the path they took to get to us, and you.  We will probably discuss the current food “crisis” and all the different discussions surrounding it.  We will probably refer you to a lot of articles written by other people…partly because blogging is kind of hard and we don’t have time to write well about everything that we’d like to…and also because a lot of the people we will refer you to have more knowledge about the topic anyway.  And there will likely be other stuff that will arise that we cannot at this time predict.  So it should be a fun month.


today is brought to you by the letter ‘d’…

May 1, 2011

D is for decentralizing data.  And also just data.  And also the grade I would give us for this month of April, if we were the grading type.  But we’re not.  (Also you get a really interesting smattering of images when you Google image search the letter d.) Anyway, I know it’s May and so that means it’s supposed to be a new topic, and we do have a new topic for May, but it’s snowing here and it’s 34 and a gust of wind just narrowly missed blowing me and my bicycle into oncoming traffics (yes plural, there were multiple narrow misses).  So May has obviously been postponed.  So I’m putting this somewhat data related post up.  Oddly enough it’s actually data that’s mostly to blame for my absence…I’ve been in a data cave of sorts for the last week+…soil data, plant data, various biogeochemical cycle data, water data…it’s really been quite horrible.  I’d rather have been in a bear cave.  Because even though it’s May I’m pretty sure all the bears in caves around here are still hibernating so I would’ve been totally safe.  There’s not actually any bears anywhere near Minnesota I don’t think.  Wolf dens perhaps.  But wolves don’t hibernate.  But on with today’s post.

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One Flat Thing, reproduced…In So Many Ways

April 25, 2011

opening duet visualized using 3d alignment tool

I think for most people, including myself, the first image conjured up when thinking about data is somewhere along the lines bean-counters, excel spreadsheets, statisticians and their mean, modes and medians, and generally just dry, unexciting numbers. And that’s ok…a lot of data is totally boring for those outside of the people who are studying it, but I was recently shown a piece of artwork that, after some of my own research, forced me to completely rethink the possibilities of what data can do, and the tremendous and varied ways in which we can visualize that data.

Let’s get one thing straight right from the start here…I don’t know a thing about dance. I have never been to a ballet, until recently I never knew a dancer, I have never been a part of flash mob, pretty much just straight up about as non-dancer type as you can get both in terms of knowledge and ability–best I can manage is a slight, rhythmic bobbing of my knees. Nothing about the art form has ever really struck me. I can appreciate the skill and physicality of the dancers but the ability to see a choreographed piece as a whole and appreciate it as a piece of artwork eluded me. Unlike a photograph, painting, film, sculpture, or play, I just didn’t have anything of value to say about bodies moving through space. That being said, when I friend recently showed me William Forsythe’s One Flat Thing, reproduced, my mind was thoroughly  and completely blown…and that was before I looked at the data. So go watch the dance before we talk about it. I found it so eerie and alien yet elegant. Read more…

DINOS!!! and other neat things not really data related.

April 24, 2011

mongolian fighting dinosaurs. educate yourself. best thing ever.

Okay.  We’re going a little lighter today.  Because it’s Easter.  And Easter is a light holiday for me.  It’s happy and, you know, fluffy like bunnies, and light and airy like Peeps and light and pastel like all the Easter colors.  This stuff doesn’t really have much to do with data, at least not obviously (also not a ton to do with geography but ssshhh…don’t tell anyone).  I could definitely spin it so that it did but…I don’t want to dilute it’s coolness with trying to make it obviously data-y or geography-y.

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show me a hero and i’ll tell you a tragedy

April 22, 2011

herbert james draper's "lament for icarus"

Oh boy.  It’s been that week at school gang.  The week where everyone you see on campus is walking around mumbling to themselves, eyebrows furrowed, completely oblivious to everything around them, reciting a presentation or paper defense.  So I apologize (yet again) for being absent.  I had no less than five papers/presentations this week.  And I have yet to find the time management skills to be able to do that and do this.  And school pays the bills (and admittedly it’s wicked fun, and it’s what supplies some of the ideas and most of the foundation for the small amount of legitimacy present in any given post).

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good form sirs…goood form. the cascadia scorecard.

April 16, 2011

the very first edition of the cascadia scorecard, circa 2004

Man, I almost accidentally posted the pollen data write up I did for my climate change class.  That would’ve been wicked disappointing for you guys.  Trust me.  It’s one of those things where the process is actually fairly interesting and heaped with learning but the end result is real dry and unexciting.  I’ve been at the coffee shop for over seven hours.  Partly because I’ve got heaps to do and I’ve been wicked productive here (if I was this productive even a quarter of my waking hours I would totally rule the world, but unfortunately this sort of food deprived, caffeine induced, interesting conversation supported and inspired productivity is in absolutely no way sustainable) but also because after being sunny and 70 degrees just two days ago, it is now windy, gray, freezing (literally) and snowing and I am incredibly reluctant to ride home.  Anyway, I’ve been dogging on data so far this month.  This is not personal.  Read more…

AAG Meeting Highlights

April 16, 2011

They should have put these up at the entrance...

Whew…it’s been a whirlwind of ideas, inspiration, amazing people, way too much espresso, and willingly submitting my brain to death by clobbering with the knowledge stick. My life has been on a literal hold for the past week–my apartment is a wreck, I haven’t done any homework, I am way behind on correspondence, and I practically missed my own birthday. This is because I’ve been downtown at the convention center for the past four days from 9 or 10 in the morning to sometimes 8 at night, doing nothing but listen to brilliant (and not so brilliant) geographers talk about their research and the future of the discipline. Why did I run this academic gamut of epic proportions? Well…mostly because I felt like if I were to skip out on a session I would have missed the presentation that would give me a huge insight, or a nugget of an idea that would take root to be my next project, or a chance to meet a geographer who shared similar interests. It also felt important to go because the meeting took place in Seattle this year, and it would have been a waste not to seize on the opportunity to emerge myself completely, if only for a week, in the discipline.

The whole experience for me was absolutely incredible. Though I learned an obscene amount, I think the big take away for me was just a massive appreciation for academia, particularly those academics who ground their studies in reality, and who build an application of their research into the study from the get-go. Those papers that I found most compelling found a way to use their knowledge to better the world that we claim to describe as geographers instead of getting stuck in the ethereal realms of academia. Though I appreciate and understand the need to push the boundaries of the discipline and bring it to new heights with theorization and new knowledge production, I think it is critical to understand where that theory or new knowledge fits into the world–what place it has and how it could be used to better ourselves, our friends or family, our community, our city, our state, our country, our world. Or as Chey puts it, “kick around in the dirt”, get your hands dirty.

So, without further ramblings I’m going to give you my highlights from the meeting in chronological order. If anything you see sparks your interest, I encourage you to comment or email and we can discuss it further. Read more…