Thursday, October 08, 2009

Living on Google Earth

I offered a little geography quiz in Comments the other day -- identifying the background terrain in an APOD of the International Space Station. After drawing a blank myself, I posed the question to son Tom. He guessed correctly immediately. Tom is the family's geography whiz.

Forty-seven years ago, when I was a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame, living in graduate housing with my wife and two toddlers, I distracted myself from the long hours of study and research by constructing a 4x8 foot relief map of the world. Out of cardboard and Play-Doh. Yes, Play-Doh. Bad choice. It gets hard, but in high humidity goes soft again. In low humidity it shrinks and cracks.

But never mind. It worked well enough, and the wall-sized map followed us to New England where it hung in the dining room as the kids (eventually four) grew up. We entertained ourselves at dinner by playing highly competitive geography games. Tom was the youngest, and the quietest, but he soaked it all up. And apparently kept soaking it up long after the map was consigned to the cellar and the kids dispersed to lives of their own. When Google Earth came along, he already had it all in his head.

Son Dan subsequently rescued the map from the cellar and beautifully restored it. Here is a photo I asked him to take. Click to enlarge.

Meanwhile, Tom and I enjoy sending each other Google Earth posers. Here is an image he sent me recently. Can you guess where it is? Click to enlarge. And, as Carmen suggested, a book to the first to get it, if he/she wants it.