Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Final Project & Final Test

Tonight I worked on the final project. It was kind of fun. I did my usual intuitive playing around with the data to decide what to do. The map is on the right. I never got the data from the city for my original idea discussed in last week's blog post. So I started on a modified version of the class project Pete suggested. I decided to look at the watershed of my neighborhood and I guess I will total up the impervious surfaces and do some calculations. I ended up putting 2 watersheds together to cover a little more space, and then used some editing tools to remove the part of the watershed on the east side of the river, which I don't want to include. I still have a ways to go.

We had our final test tonight and it went pretty well. I totally drew a blank on what topology was. It was frustrating and funny to me for some reason. I tried to remember back to the time last night when I was sitting on the sofa, (non-leather) and studying for the test. Tried to visualize looking up the definition in the glossary. Tried to close my eyes and see the paper where I wrote it down. Wrote topology on the desk with my finger. Nothing. Finally I started writing some silly stuff on the test paper about topology, and the answer finally came to me. Funny how the brain works. I learn more and more tricks to try to get mine to work better as it gets cluttered up with stuff.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Starting the Final Project

We are starting our final projects for class tonight, and we will continue working on them for the next 2 classes. I can't upload the picture right now, but hopefully it will appear here later... OK, Blogger is no longer broken so there it is on the right. If you click it you can see it bigger. More about the map snippet in the next paragraph.

I am trying to do something interesting for my project. Maybe something to do with analysis of streets in some part of Asheville that would be good for riding my bicycle on. Various criteria could be used to assess them. Width, speed limit, traffic counts, etc. Maybe even incorporate slope data to highlight the really steep places. I had to download some streets data from Buncombe County and add that to my geodatabase. Then I wanted to see about the fancy new 5 foot contour data that Buncombe County has available. That is available for the whole county, but is broken up into smaller files, so that it is not enormous. To find the data for the area I'm interested in, I had to find the PIN for a parcel in the area, so I had to add the parcels layer and search it. It was quite an adventure. Back to the map shown above. That's my neighborhood, and I was sort of surprised by some of the contour data it shows. There's 15' of elevation change in my little 1/4 acre lot? I guess I can believe that. The 5' contour data was created using LIDAR , which I became briefly obsessed with, then I got over it.

Pete's wife Haven brought him dinner, and he embarrassed her by making her stick her head in the class and say Hi to all of us. I met Haven a few years ago at my job, and think she is very smart and cute-as-a-button. Possibly cuter. Also learned that Pete is afraid of spiders. Pete, you are much bigger than a spider, you can out run it or whack it with a long stick. Really, you can get hurt by the poisonous spiders we have around here. I remember a story from years ago about a whole family that was plagued by brown recluses. Several of them had been bitten when they put on work gloves that had the reclusive spiders in them. This story has changed forever the way I approach work gloves. Several family members had permanent damage from the spider bites and one of them had lost part of a hand to it.

Mary seemed down-in-the-dumps, and that just put a damper on the whole evening that even Haven's brief visit couldn't lift. Her green sweater was really accenting her green eyes though, which is appropriate, since she works with greens. Mary was not a good fit for a prospective employer, and now that employer is really missing out on an excellent opportunity. And just because she couldn't fill the size 18 uniform left over from the previous employee.

Robin was also suffering from post spring break syndrome. I think we all were looking at the ARC programs going, Uh, how do I work this again? I hope next week we all make some real progress on this final project and produce some really nice maps.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Farewell Lynn, Farewell Kurt.

Lynn was killed in a car accident this week. So it goes. She was my brother's ex-partner. Ex for a year or so, and partner for over 10 years. There's a picture of the two of them from 2005, the last time I saw Lynn. You can see in the photo they were already moving in different directions. Lynn was a beautiful woman with radiant skin. She was very creative and full of an energy that often seemed to be directed in a somewhat erratic manner. She was 56 and leaves 2 kids in their late teens and early 20s.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. also died this week. So it goes. Like many people, I read his novels while I was in college. I borrowed them from my brother, who I worked for at that time. Vonnegut was born the same year as my mom, in Indianapolis. My family also comes from the midwest and there was something that felt familiar about his writing. One book referenced a person named "Moon" Claycombe. My aunt and uncle have that same last name, and my uncle grew up in Indy. A little research and I found out that Moon was my uncle's father, and he had gone to HS with Vonnegut.

I liked the science fiction aspects of his books, and his seemingly free flowing writing style. I think Breakfast of Champions was the first I read, and it had the crude little pen drawings in it. I thought that was pretty neat. I should probably read him again now that I'm older and smarter and would probably get a lot more out of them. In one of the inevitable posthumous radio pieces I heard, it referred to him as a secular humanist, and then within a minute or two quoted him as saying that he felt music was proof there is a god. Curious. I guess secular humanists can have a god too. Vonnegut said something about us humans being animals whose brains just got too big for our own good, and I have to agree with that. So it goes.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Before and After: Spring Freeze

The freezing started April 6th 2007. Above is the Japanese Bamboo before and after. If you click the photo you can see it bigger. Below is the Daylily Destruction. There were a couple inches of snow in addition to the cold temperatures.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


Pete surprised us tonight by ordering pizza for everybody. Wasn't that nice.

Then we did some more editing, this time following the exercise in the book. This exercise has 62 steps, and I got to exercise 40, and Mary did too. But I suspect she didn't hop over some of them like I did. In the photo to the right, we improved the alignment of the roads based on the info in the orthophoto data layer.

I'll say it again. This is powerful software. With that power comes a daunting depth and detail. It reminds me of Photoshop, but I think it is even more complex.