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Benge, Washington, Represent!

Posted on January 5th, 2021

Dave!Eastern Washington is home to many, many small unincorporated towns which are basically just places which have some kind of historical reason for existing... a stop on a now-abandoned railroad or trail... an important business that used to be there... or maybe a place which intersects land owned by local farmers. And, to many of them, the nearest major city (usually Spokane) is 1 to 2 hours away. They usually don't have stores, shops, or restaurants to speak of (those being anywhere from 30 minutes to 45 minutes away). If they're lucky, there might be some kind of general store with a few edible staples and various sundries amongst the grain and feed, but there's no full-on grocery store. Instead they have to make their own meals from what they can get at the nearest grocery store when they go once or twice a month. That's just how it goes.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

Partly because I am sick to fucking death of seeing political maps of Washington State where the entirety of Eastern Washington is painted red making it look like a gajillion people vote red and it's unfair that "blue Seattle gets to dictate who runs the state." That's a pretty gross exaggeration. Some of these towns which turn counties red have like A DOZEN PEOPLE in them. And land doesn't vote. So Washington State is getting the political representation which is actually representing the majority of the voters in it, regardless of what story a map is presenting.

However... the other side of that coin is the fact that these small towns DO exist. These dozens upon dozens of rural communities and the people in them DO endure. Often times they are the people who farm our land and grow our food and have communities which MEAN SOMETHING. So having them wholesale ignored by our State government is fucked up beyond all reason.

Is what's best for Seattle always going to be what's best for little Benge, Washington with its 50 people? Fuck no. But the rules Benge lives by are the rules major population centers over the Cascades dictate to them. District and County governments are supposed to have power to make sure they get fair representation but, let's face it, their power is severely limited in the grand scheme of things. Ain't nobody with major political power speaking up for the good people of Benge...

Satellite View of Benge, Washington.
Benge, WA as seen from Google Maps, ©Google

The red dot on this map points to where Benge is in Washington State...

Washington State Map View of Benge, Washington.
Benge, WA as seen in relation to Washington State from Google Maps, ©Google

   
Now, I've never been to Benge. Odds are I will never step foot in this town.

But a part of me really, really wants to.

I would love to travel to all these small, so-called "nothing" towns that dot my side of the state as a way of acknowledging that they exist. That the people who inhabit them deserve to be recognized for the thankless work they do to grow our food. To remind myself that they are a part of Washington too, and that the lives of their citizens mean something when it comes to the rest of the state.

Even when they get lumped into politics of a city that's four hours away.

Especially then.

I dunno. Benge is 2-1/2 hours from where I live. However, it's an easy 35 minute drive off I-90 on my next trip to Spokane... so maybe one day? I'd like to think that Benge would have a kind word for a stranger passing through town. It's a nice thought to have, isn't it? I'm from a small, rural, Eastern Washington community too, after all.

I just won't mention that there's a grocery store ten minutes from my house. No need to flaunt my big-little-city luxuries like that.

   

Bullet Sunday 685

Posted on October 25th, 2020

Dave!The first snow of the season would cause lesser blogs to crumble, but not this blog... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Bridges! One of the things that boggles my mind when I travel is how old the world's architecture is. Notre Dame de Paris cathedral started construction in 1163, for example. The Colosseum in Rome was built in in the year 0070-something. And the Great Pyramid of Giza? Oh... that started in the year 2580 BC. How they were constructed is not really a mystery (despite people thinking the pyramids were built by aliens and shit) and it's no less fascinating than the structures themselves. Still, reading about how they were made is not the same as seeing it...

Makes me think of the amazing David Macaulay books, which were responsible for my escalating love of architecture as a kid. Some of them were animated by PBS, and boy wouldn't it be amazing to see more of that. In the meanwhile, we get an occasional video like this tossed our way.

   
• More! And so... Borders is dead. LONG LIVE BORDERS!


Thank heavens Johnny Harris is still making videos despite the rug being pulled out from under him when his series was canceled.

   
• Quibi-Free! It's kinda hilarious that absolutely everybody knew that crappy short-form streaming service, Quibi, would be a massive failure... except founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman. They had a shitty concept with shitty "shows" and it was inevitable that it wouldn't work (WE BELIEVE SHORT-FORM VIDEOS ARE THE FUTURE OF ENTERTAINMENT... HERE'S PART ONE OF SEVEN!). I thought it might take a year before they shut it down. It only took six months. Not a good day for the people and companies which invested ONE POINT SEVEN BILLION FUCKING DOLLARS! Wealth is wasted on the wealthy. Holy shit... just think of the shows we could have gotten for that kind of money. Blergh.

   
• Hallmark? Weird that the promos from Netflix's slate of cheesy romance movies are out-Hallmarking Hallmark. As shown in the movie Falling Inn Love and the trailer for Operation Christmas Drop, Netflix is serious about quality over quantity, which is the exact opposite of Hallmark. We got another darn fine looking cheesy trailer for another cheesy Christmas romance...

Yeah, I'll be tuning into that one too.

   
• Normalization! I've added my pronouns to all my social media crap because I am 100% onboard with anything that encourages somebody to be who they are and live their best life at zero cost to me...

He/Him: I'm Dave2 from Blogography!

If you can remember their name, you can remember their pronouns. You don't have to agree with it. You don't even have to care. Because it has absolutely nothing to do with you. It's just common courtesy and common courtesy should be normalized. This should be our default.

   
• Bennu! After a little over four years, NASA's OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) finally made contact with the asteroid 101955 Bennu. It's mission is to grab a 2oz. sample of "asteroid stuff" off the asteroid...

Miraculously, OSIRIS-REx did too good a job. It ended up grabbing for more than anticipated. It sucked up so much that the sample collection door couldn't close and they are having to deal with that. But will this sample give us any insight into the origins of the universe? We won't know until OSIRIS-REx returns in three years. After that, we're not exactly done with 101955 Bennu. In its Wikipedia entry, we learn that the asteroid has a "cumulative 1-in-2,700 chance of impacting Earth between 2175 and 2199."

   
• Hole! Falling down a YouTube rabbit hole is not always a bad thing. I've grown tired of trying to hunt down new podcasts to listen to while I work, so I've been playing YouTube videos that I can listen to while I work. One such YouTube channel I've been obsessed over this past week is Lindsay Ellis. She's a writer who has an interesting viewpoint on a number of topics. I accidentally came across her while researching the term "Streisand Effect" and there was no turning back. My favorite videos are when she does deep dives on Disney. They're fantastic...



But don't stop there, she's got thoughts on a myriad of topics. This one completely surprised me...

Intrigued? You can find her YouTube Channel here.

   
I'd go out to play in the snow, but it has long since melted.

   

Bullet Sunday 652

Posted on March 1st, 2020

Dave!We may be at the beginning of a pandemic, but the bullets are still flying... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Hertz! Michael Hertz has passed away. He is largely responsible for one of the most beautiful and elegant map designs you'll find. It's the New York City subway map, which sought to simplify and clarify the depiction of the various lines by making them easier to understand...

New York City subway map by Michael Hertz.

There were other versions of this map over the decades, but this modern version from 1978 is the one most people today are familiar with. It was proceeded by an equally beautiful (yet slightly more confusing) version by Massimo Vignelli...

New York City subway map by Vignelli.

My first dozen times visiting New York City I ended up buying a new fold-out pocket subway map each time because I always forgot to bring an old one with me. Now, of course, I've just got the map on my iPhone. But I'll always have a place in my heart for the map I used for decades to get me around the city.

   
• Nygaard! Another designer who passed away that's definitely worth noting? Jens Nygaard, the guy who created the LEGO minifigs...

The technical drawing of the LEGO minifig.

An assortment of LEGO minifigures lined up.

As somebody who started with LEGO before the minifig was introduced, this was absolutely a game changer. Prior to the minifies, which I believe I first got in the LEGO Space sets, we just drew a face on a stack of bricks. The "official" people of the LEGO Universe were a fantastic addition to the toy which took it in a fantastic direction that continues to this day.

   
• Dyson! Completing the trifecta of those who passed away this past week... Freeman Dyson. This brilliant mathematician, physicist, and astronomer (among other things) was such a huge influence on me that my pen-name, Maach Allon Dyson, was in honor of him. Because, seriously, just look at some of his accomplishments from his Wikipedia page. Though the thing that he's likely best known for... especially by me... is the Dyson sphere...

The idea is that a technologically advanced civilization would have the ability to maximize use of energy from their sun... by surrounding it with a sphere or a sphere of rings or a sphere of panels or something like that. It's a mind-blowing idea that would require mining materials from a huge number of celestial bodies (such as comets and asteroids) in order to construct. Pretty fantastic stuff.

   
• Apps on Parade! I ran across this video and had to laugh at just how frickin' brilliant it is at showing the sheer absurdity of Adobe's "Creative Cloud." I pay $57.34 per month to use exactly four of them... Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat. I also use Lightroom Classic to catalog my photos, but it's not something I need to have. Which means I essentially use less than 1/10th of the apps I have to pay for...

I would be willing to bet that this is the case for at least half of the people paying for Creative Cloud. Hardly getting our money's worth here, but that's what happens when you've got a lock on the industry. My only hope is that eventually another developer... most likely Affinity... will get to the point where Adobe will not be the only option for me. But until then? Blergh.

   
• Manga Mac! Apple released a clever new commercial which shows various times that Macs have appeared in Japanese manga animation. It's pretty great...

Just makes me want to rewatch the hundreds of manga that I've loved over the years.

   
• New Horizons! And speaking of ads in Japan... Nintendo really knows how to hit all the feels in their advertising...

The new version of Animal Crossing called Animal Crossing: New Horizons drops on March 20. It's one of those games that always starts out interesting, but I grow bored with fairly quickly. There's only so many fish and bugs you can catch before it gets old. Though maybe the online collaboration will keep it interesting for longer? I don't know that I want to spend $60 to find out.

   
And with that, bullets have come to a close this fine Sunday. Wash your hands!

   

Bullet Sunday 650

Posted on February 15th, 2020

Dave!What in tarnation is happening here? There's no need to check your calendar... because an all new Bullet Sunday on Saturday starts... now...

   
• Red Sox! And so it begins... the team is converging on Fort Meyers for Spring Training, which begins full-squad workouts on Monday. Well, full-squad except Mookie Betts, who got traded to L.A. for some stupid reason (okay, it was probably to fall under the Competitive Balance Tax threshold for 2020, but still stupid)...

Mookie Betts running bases.
Photo from NBC Sports

I sure hope Boston has a better season this year than last year.

   
• 1917! If you know me, you know I love maps. This is so frickin' cool.

   
• You Better Work! As somebody who loves RuPaul, there was no way I was going to miss his new 10-episode series on Netflix...

From the trailer I expected it to be entertaining and funny. I did not expect it to be as deep, smart, and genuinely sweet and touching as it. Bonus: There's a lot of familiar faces popping up throughout, including many, many contestants from Drag Race. What sabotages the show is two things. 1) The kid is irrationally bratty and shitty at random times, screaming her head off for no reason. I have no idea why Ru and Michael Patrick King felt it necessary to go that far. And, 2) It doesn't have an ending and absolutely everything was left in the air with no resolution whatsoever. If Netflix doesn't give it a second season, viewers are screwed. Still, worth tuning in for.

   
• Miss Jackson! Janet Jackson Herself has announced that her new album and tour, Black Diamond, will be dropping this summer.

   
• Great Scott! These deep fakes are just getting more and more frightening...

Frightening because they are looking more and more realistic.

   
• Goo! If you did any kind of graphic design work in the 1990's, odds are you know of Kai Krause. His design tools allowed you to create some truly wondrous stuff... but had the absolute worst possible interfaces to get there. I never understood why they were so utterly wacky and nonsensical. Apparently, it was to spur creativity... to get people to just "play" with things until they were intuitively doing what they wanted to do. It never worked like that for me. I'd much rather have proper menus and tools that made it clear what was happening. Kai's Power Goo, for example, was just a mess. But it was Photoshop "liquify" before there was Photoshop liquify, and you have to respect that...

The weird interface for Kai Power Goo showing melty tools in a bizarre, almost random fashion

I owned absolutely everything Kai ever released. Used his tools all the time, even as I hated the way they worked. Even so, I found the story of his interface design an interesting read.

   
And that's Sunday Saturday Bullets.

   

The Google Maps Mystery

Posted on November 16th, 2018

Dave!As I've mentioned here a few times, I love maps. Because of this, Google Maps is a never-ending source of wonder to me. I could wander around the world for weeks and never get bored. There's just so much amazing stuff to see.

So when I dropped by Google Maps tonight so I could grab directions for some guests I have coming, it should come as no surprise that I got distracted and started poking around my home town in satellite view. It was then I saw something quite odd. An irrigation ditch just outside of town (which I was aware of) seemed to disappear into a big hill (something I was not aware of)...

Missing Ditch Map
Image courtesy of Google Maps

If you look in the lower-right there, you'll see that a ditch winds itself around then... poof.

WTF?!?

Where did it go? It looks like it goes in a tunnel. But where does it come out? After a little while scrolling around, I found it...

Missing Ditch Map
Image courtesy of Google Maps

This raises all kinds of questions. Because this is a good-sized hill that it travels through...

Missing Ditch Map
Image courtesy of Google Maps

When I traced the path of the tunnel in map view (not a straight line, as I had thought) and measured its distance... the tunnel ended up being a mile long!

Missing Ditch Map
Image courtesy of Google Maps

   
Things like this are fascinating to me.

Is it, in fact, a tunnel? If it is, then when was it built? Who built it? How did they build it? How is it maintained? If leaves and garbage and stuff blocks it, how do they unblock it? And how in the heck can something like this exist without me knowing about it? What other wacky stuff is waiting to be discovered around my home town?

There's only one way to find out...

UPDATE: I found an abbreviated history of the Greater Wenatchee Irrigation District on their website. No mention of the tunnels though. And so... I will continue to investigate.

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The Seventh Continent

Posted on December 18th, 2017

Dave!And so I updated my Travel Map last night.

I've now step foot on all seven continents, which is pretty cool bragging rights...


Dave's Travel Map

   
I've also come one step closer to finishing off my travel bucket list. Two down. Eight to go...

  1. Africa. Who doesn't want to experience an African safari? Who doesn't want to see elephants, gorillas, lions, rhinos, giraffes, and the dozens of other amazing creatures that can be found there? This is another one of those trips that requires a massive stack of cash to do right.
  2. Antarctica. The reason I haven't been to Antarctica yet is solely a matter of money. I don't just want to float by on a cruise ship... I want an actual expedition, and that costs an absurd amount of bank. I'm hopeful I can get it figured out one day soon, because I don't know how much longer I'll remain healthy enough for such an adventure.
  3. India. It seems insane that one of the destinations I most want to visit on earth is still on my to-do list. I think the problem is one of time and logistics. There are simply so many places in the country I want to visit that I can't decide on an itinerary that would fit in a two-week period. I'll get it sorted eventually, I suppose, but every time I've tried in the past I get mired down with the fact that I need five weeks to do what I want to do, and no way to take that much time off.
  4. New Zealand When I visited Australia two years ago, I drew a line through Sydney and created a trip north (including Fiji), and a trip south (including New Zealand). I ended up going north because the southern trip would take a week longer and an additional $1600... both of which I didn't have. But that southern itinerary is still there. I still want to do it. I just need the money and the time. Again.
  5. Peru & Galápagos Islands. Machu Picchu is a bucket-list item that I've been dreaming of for decades. The Galápagos Islands is also on my list, and seems like an easy pairing for one trip.
  6. Jordan & Israel. There are many reasons I want to visit Jordan but, naturally, seeing Petra before I die is probably the biggest. And since it would be insane to go all that way and not visit Israel, another place I've longed to see, this is a dream trip.
  7. Brazil. Visiting Rio de Janeiro, Fernando de Noronha, The Amazon Rainforest, Ouro Preto, and dozens of other places in Brazil is kind of a no-brainer. But I want to see Iguazu Falls. Badly. It's just such an amazing spectacle on movies and television that I cannot fathom how amazing it would be to see in person.
  8. Moscow & St. Petersburg. This is a pretty simple trip to plan... just call up a company who does river cruises (like Viking) and sail from Moscow to St. Petersburg while enjoying all the amazing stuff in-between. Easy! At least it's easy if you've got lots and lots of money.
  9. Norwegian Fjords. A cruise along the coast of Norway through all the beautiful little fishing towns and jaw-dropping scenery seems like one of the most relaxing vacations ever. And I blame my obsession with experiencing it on Disney's Epcot. They show a movie after you go on the "Maelstrom" ride in "Norway" that shows just how amazing such a trip would be, and I've been dreaming of it ever since.
  10. Nepal. Always wanted to go. Still want to go. Need to find a way to go. Have never put enough time into figuring out how to go. Really must go.

I used to be pretty obsessed with making it to everyplace on this list. Now? Not so much. Sure, I'd still like to visit all of them... but I'm not going to feel a failure at life if I don't make every destination. Except India. I really, really want to make it to India before I die.

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Maps And The Stories They Tell

Posted on November 23rd, 2017

Dave!As I've probably mentioned at least a dozen times on my blog, I love maps. I used to buy maps of places I never intended on going just to look at them. I would buy guidebooks for the same reason. Maps allow you to travel without ever leaving your home.

Then online maps came along with technologies like "Google Street View" and everything changed. Suddenly maps were a hundred times more useful for armchair travelers because you could actually drop yourself into a map and look around...

Google Maps Street View

Google Maps Street View

Talk about an armchair traveler's dream come true!

I mean, yes, there's nothing like visiting Paris, wandering the city streets, and seeing the Eiffel Tower in person... but, if that's out of reach for whatever reason, isn't this the coolest possible alternative? You can go most anywhere in the world this way!

Yes, even Antarctica...

Google Maps Street View

Google Maps Street View

Google Maps Street View

Having access to satellite imagery is also very cool.

While driving around Acadia and Mount Dessert Island, I was driving Route 204 when all of a sudden it jags way out, then resumes course...

Google Maps Street View

Wonder what THAT'S all about? Somebody didn't want to sell their farm? Well, thanks to Google Satellite View, it looks like somebody didn't want to sell their store...

Google Maps Satellite View

And Google Maps isn't resting on their laurels... oh no... they're always adding cool new features. As I was leaving the US "Eastern Most Point" at West Quoddy Head Light, I noticed that Google noted I parked there. I'm guessing so if I walk away, I can find my car if I forgot where I parked it?

Google Maps Parking Spot

It was miles and miles before It dropped off, so I guess it's good if you're hiking or something...

Google Maps Parking Spot

Or wanting to vandalize a McDonalds and not wanting to forget where your getaway car is parked...

McVandals!

McVandals!

   
I'd imagine that the advent of VR (Virtual Reality) is going to be a huge game changer in map technology. At least I hope it will. Being able to more "literally" drop into a map would be an incredible thing.

Not incredible enough to stop be from traveling.

Probably.

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Two Different Colors On The Map

Posted on November 21st, 2017

Dave!That was one busy weekend.

The main road through Acadia National Park is "Park Loop Road"... which is one-way for a big chunk. This can make planning a travel itinerary tricky because there's no backtracking if you miss a turn or blow past an exit.

Fortunately Google Maps makes it easy to enter a bunch of stops then rearrange them until you have a simple plan instead of having to take multiple loops around the island trying to see everything. With the exception of not finding "Boulder Beach" the first time around, Acadia was relatively painless to navigate.

And now, because I am definitely returning one day, I'm going to post my maps so I can remember how I saw what I saw...

FRIDAY...
Portland to Bar Harbor to Bass Harbor Sunset...

Acadia Friday map

SATURDAY...
Bar Harbor to Sand Beach to Jordan Pond to Bubble Mountains...

Acadia Friday map

SUNDAY...
Bar Harbor to West Quoddy Head Light...

Acadia Friday map

MONDAY...
Bar Harbor to Cadillac Mountain Sunrise to Schooner Head to Thunder Hole to Boulder Beach to Somesville to Portland...

Acadia Friday map

   
And that's that.

Interesting to note... when I line up all the maps and multiply them all together, you can see how I hit most every major road in the park... with the exception of Route 102 up the West Coast and a couple chunks of Route 3 in spots. Not sure what I missed, but it might be worth finding out for next time...

Acadia Friday map

Thanks, Google Maps!

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A Map of Places

Posted on May 10th, 2017

Dave!I updated my travel map while on the phone this morning.

The thing was getting way too complicated for me to manage manually, so I switched to Google My Maps a while back. What a cool piece of tech that is. Makes it so easy to keep track of the places I've flown into, stayed at, or been. Granted, it's undoubtedly not 100% complete because I've forgotten a lot of places... but it's close enough.

In all honesty I don't know whether I should be amazed that I managed to get to this much of the world... or horrified that there's so many places I've yet to visit...

Dave's Travel Map

If you want to play with the interactive version to see how nice Google My Maps is... just head to my Map Page. Or sign into your Google account and make a map of your own!

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Geography

Posted on November 11th, 2013

Dave!Happy Veterans' Day, everybody! And thanks to all who have served (or continue to serve).

For as long as I can remember, I've loved maps. And every once in a while I get a reminder of why that is.

This past weekend I had somebody write to me with a Hard Rock Cafe question that led me to the property that used to exist in Queenstown, New Zealand (which, sadly, closed before I could visit). Since the city was unfamiliar to me, I consulted the internet to find out where it was located in relation to the cities I did know. While rummaging around, I saw this...

Beautiful New Zealand Map
Map taken from (where else) Google Maps.

Beautiful, isn't it?

But here's the strange thing... this is not some wacky geographic phenomena that's out in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles away from civilization. This incredible formation is just minutes outside of Christchurch, the biggest city on New Zealand's South Island...

Google Map Christchurch
Map once again taken from Google Maps.

That's pretty nifty.

But not uncommon, really. There's beauty in geography everywhere you look.

Just 300 miles from where I live is this marvelous spectacle across the border in British Columbia...

British Columbia
Fractally goodness courtesy of, you guessed it, Google Maps.

But I don't even have to go that far. Directly to the West of my home you can find some pretty amazing stuff...

Central Washington Map
This was taken from... well, you know...

This is a small part of the vast Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area including the Western half of The Enchantments trail region (named after a group of lakes by the same name). In this photo you can spot...

  • Eightmile Lake
  • Horseshoe Lake
  • Jack Lake
  • Lake Stuart
  • Aasgard Pass
  • Colchuck Lake
  • Coney Lake
  • Shield Lake
  • Earle Lake
  • Mesa Lake
  • Temple Lake
  • Lake Viviane
  • Leprechaun Lake
  • Sprite Lake
  • Enchantment Lakes
  • Inspiration Lake
  • Perfection Lake
  • Isolation Lake
  • Tranquil Lake

I'm not much of an outdoorsman, so I've explored very little of it. What I have seen is pretty spectacular though. I wish I was as into photography then as I am now... I'd probably have some incredible shots of the region. Like this guy...

Colchuck Lake
©2011 by Ethan Welty... check out his awesome Flickr feed!

   
But I guess that's what the internet is for.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to explore this lovely planet a while longer...

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