Abundant Agglomerated Archipelagos

On March 4, 2014 · 1 Comments

Rather than call this "More Thousand Islands" and confuse it with the purpose of my recent celebratory Kiloanomaly, I came up with a new name. Rest assured, by mentioning abundant agglomerated archipelagos, I actually meant places other than the Thousand Islands poking above the Saint Lawrence River between Canada and the United states that share a similar name. The latest twist was that none of them were in English so the 12MC audience will get to see me struggle once again with my complete inability to deal with foreign languages.

I have to give a tip of the keyboard to Wikipedia’s Thousand Islands (disambiguation) page for inspiring the notion. I also researched other sources so it wasn’t like I completely stole the idea, only partially.


Rivière des Mille Îles



Rivière des Mille Îles, Québec, Canada

Rivière des Mille Îles, or River of a Thousand Isles, had the best chance of being confused with the other Thousand Islands simply because of its proximity. The river was actually a channel of a larger river system, and one could reach the St. Lawrence from either its source or its mouth. Rivière des Mille Îles when paired with other channels formed the island that separated Laval from Montréal. The whole area teemed with islands, albeit farther downstream from the more famous Thousand Islands in Ontario. It can become rather confusing.

The area included the Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, which was described nicely once run through Google Translate:

The decor of the Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles offers a real landscape bayous, with its calm river, shallow and safe, marshes flowers, marshy forests and lush vegetation of the islands, forming a maze of greenery. Half an hour from Montreal, nearly twenty islands that are accessible, a major tourist attraction and a unique place in Québec.


Tusenøyane



Tusenøyane, Svalbard, Norway

Thousand Islands converted into Norwegian became Tusenøyane, and indeed that’s the name of an isolated grouping found south of Edgeøya on the Svalbard archipelago. The entirety of Svalbard itself was rather obscure with barely 2,500 residents so one can imagine the remoteness of one tiny scattering of rocks along its lower flank.

Correspondingly, there wasn’t all that much additional information about Tusenøyane available. The Norwegian Polar Institute served as the naming authority, identifying Tusenøyane as "A number of small islands south of Edgeøya" with a linguistic origin tracing to "the thousand islands." The authority further noted several variant names including the Hopeless Islands.

I also found a site with several photographs. It looked barren and cold. I don’t think I’d go so far as to describe it as "hopeless" though, well unless someone got shipwrecked there or something.


Kepulauan Seribu



Understanding the theme presented so far, it should come as no surprise that Kepulauan Seribu translated to Thousand Islands, in this case from the Indonesian language. These numerous small islets formed a string due north of Jakarta. Administratively they were actually part of Jakarta, and the city government explained:

Kepulauan Seribu [Thousand Island] is located in Java Sea and Jakarta Bay, it is an area with characteristic and natural potential that is different with other parts of Jakarta Capital City, because this area is basically a cluster of formed coral islands and shaped by coral biota and other associated biota (algae, malusho, foraminifera, and others) with the help of dynamic natural process… it doesn’t mean that the total number of islands within the clusters is a thousand. There are approximately 342 islands in total, including sand islands, including vegetated and non-vegetated coral reefs.



Some Island on Kepulauan Seribu by TeYoU @ Sydney via Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license

Indonesia created the Kepulauan Seribu Marine National Park and it grew into a major tourist attraction. Search on Kepulauan Seribu online and one will find a nearly innumerable set of websites trying to sell luxury vacations there. This formerly unspoiled paradise may have become a little too well loved in recent decades, leading to warnings of environmental degradation.


Qiandao Lake



Qiandao Lake, Zhejiang Province, China

Qiandao Lake (which was represented by several Chinese language characters I couldn’t seem to replicate in WordPress), or Thousand Island Lake, was the only location in this series created artificially. The islands were a byproduct of the flooding of a valley after construction of a dam.

The Xin’anjiang Hydropower Station, the country’s first large-scale power plant designed and built by Chinese in the 1950s, is still the pride of the local people. It is on the Xin’an River in Jiande city of Zhejiang Province in east China. Moreover, it formed a huge reservoir (Qiandao Lake) with 1,078 islands, which is part of a golden tourist route linking Hangzhou, Provincial capital of Zhejiang, and Mount Huangshan in neighboring Anhui Province.

My favorite quote, however, was "Qiandao Lake, known for its clear, and sometimes drinkable water, is used to produce the renowned Nongfu Spring brand of mineral water."

Sometimes drinkable? Thanks, I’d prefer consistently drinkable water.

Remarkable Sundials

On January 24, 2013 · 2 Comments

I’ve had a bit of a sundial fixation since stumbling across the dueling Dodge City railroad time zone sundials during Kansas Mountain Time. I don’t think I’ll reach a point where I’m compelled to compile a list and go out of my way to visit them (as I do with lighthouses, fortifications and breweries), however I’d probably take a look if I found myself in the vicinity of a particularly remarkable specimen.

There are people infinitely more interested in sundials, and I certainly understand their passion for an esoteric topic considering my similar tendencies related to other objects. I found a couple of organizations where like-minded individuals can share their discoveries and promote their hobby, the North American Sundial Society (mentioned in the earlier article) and the British Sundial Society. There are other societies in different parts of the world although I didn’t have an opportunity to visit their sites. I also learned a new word: Gnomon. It has nothing to do with gnomes. It’s the part of a sundial that casts a shadow.

The world’s largest sundial is probably in Jaipur, India. I won’t focus much attention on it because Google Sightseeing already discussed it. Feel free to check it out if you’re interested. I’ll wait until you come back.

Sundial Bridge



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I discovered a particularly elegant example in Redding, California. A bridge shaped in the manner of a sundial spans the Sacramento River, joining the north and south campuses of the Turtle Bay Exploration Park. The operative word is "shaped" like a sundial since it’s not actually functional. As the North American Sundial Society explains,

When is a bridge not a bridge? When it’s almost a sundial. The 217 foot high suspension span called Sundial Bridge wants to be a sundial, and has come very close. The suspension pylon is aligned true north, but unfortunately performs as an inaccurate gnomon with an inclination of 49 deg (for bridge functionality) rather than for the 40.6 deg latitude of the site.

If we moved the bridge due-north to make it functional, changing its location to 49° latitude without changing the longitude (map) it would serve a bridge between the United States and Canada at O Avenue, a spot mentioned previously in Big Zero. I love life’s little coincidences.


Carefree Sundial



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Maybe I just like the name. Carefree Sundial sounds, well, so very carefree. The dial is found in a town of the same name outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Carefree is one of those upscale planned communities that sprouted from the desert for the benefit of snowbirds and retirees in the 1950′s. Residents live along Nonchalant Avenue, Never Mind Trail, Happy Hollow Drive, Lazy Lane, Dream Street, Ho Road, Hum Road, and Ho Hum Drive.

A shopping center within the development includes a large sundial centerpiece to accent a partial roundabout. From the North American Sundial Society, again:

A 90 ft. diameter horizontal dial with a large reflecting pool beneath the gnomon designed by John Yellott. The hour markers are 4 ft. diameter concrete circles. The dial is designed to show solar time corrected for the time zone offset. Thus the hour markers have been moved ahead of the solar time position. The hour lines are separated by alternating dark and light colored stones. The gnomon itself is 4 ft. wide, 62 ft. long and the tip is 35 ft. high. A pilot dial at a scale of 1/4 in. = 1ft. is at the South end of the large dial. It is constructed of gold-anodized aluminum with time lines at 10 minute intervals.

Actually Carefree seems a bit schizophrenic. Other roads within the community include Bloody Basin Road, Long Rifle Road and Sidewinder Road. Imagine living at the corner of Nonchalant and Bloody Basin (like this guy). It’s an odd juxtaposition.


Falcon Square Sundial



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I found this beauty listed as a Dial of the Month by the British Sundial Society. This is Falcon Square in Inverness, Scotland.

Four scaphe dials are located around the base of a 27-foot Mercat Cross in Falcon Square, Inverness. The obelisk is topped by a bronze unicorn, and decorated with four flying falcons. The dials are robustly designed by Emma Lavender, and show BST with declination lines marked by their zodiac symbols.

Got that? The small sundials are located on the base. I enjoyed the unicorn even more, though. It’s not everyday that one has an opportunity to view a unicorn high atop a column unless one lives in Scotland, where the royal unicorn is a symbol of the Scottish monarchy. We need more unicorn sundials.


Museum Puspa Iptek Bandung, Indonesia



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This single object explains why the vast preponderance of 12MC content focuses on English-speaking locations. It’s not because I don’t care about the rest of the world because I most certainly do, it’s because my comprehension of any language other than English falls terribly short of any level of usefulness. Google offered a very tantalizing option: thebiggestsundial.com only to lead me to a site written primarily in an Indonesian language. "The biggest sundial" seemed really specific and sounded like it was going to be English-friendly. I could recognize only a couple of words: "Sundial (Jam Matahari) adalah seperangkat alat yang digunakan sebagai petunjuk waktu semu lokal (local apparent time) dengan memanfaatkan MATAHARI yang menghasilkan bayang-bayang sebuah gnomon (batang atau lempengan yang bayang-bayangnya digunakan sebagai petunjuk waktu)."

Let me see: sundial… local apparent time… gnomon… and it went downhill from there.

Google Translate helped with basic meanings. It was still ridiculously difficult to uncover the actual location of the sundial. Eventually I found it but only because several visitors had posted on foursquare. The sundial was incorporated into the design of a building that houses the Puspa Iptek museum, a facility that focuses on science and technology.


Best Product I’ve Seen in a Long Time

I wish, I so wish I lived on the 51st latitude, north. Then I could purchase the Sundial Glass. I could combine my neurotic fixation on punctuality with my abundant appreciation of craft beers into one convenient package.

It’s an over-sized pint glass. It’s a sundial. It actually tells time! Unfortunately it was designed for Brighton, England although the website does explain that it will work anywhere along the same basic latitude. Kyle, the Basement Geographer, in British Columbia might be able to use it. Me? I’m out of luck until someone invents one for 39° north.

Odds and Ends 5

On September 20, 2012 · 4 Comments

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted an "Odds and Ends" compilation. That’s where I combine lots of minor yet noteworthy topics that don’t provide enough material to stand on their own into one completely disjointed article. Frankly a lot of these miscellaneous topics have been going onto my Twelve Mile Circle Google+ site lately so I’ve not done one of these in awhile. Somehow I seem to be awash in them at the moment. I need to flush the whole pile all at once.

Truly, these morsels have nothing to do with each other. There’s no overarching theme. It’s completely random. Just sit back and take it all in stride.

Dust Bowl Marathon Series Update



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It’s on. I’ve purchased airline tickets to attend the Dust Bowl Marathon Series described previously in Mainly Marathons. I won’t be running of course, just attending. Airfares dropped so I figured I’d better grab tickets while the getting was good. I’ll definitely be in the vicinity of where Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico come together, and you’ll find me there from March 18-22, 2013. Geo-oddities on the short list include the Colorado-New Mexico-Oklahoma and Colorado-Kansas-Oklahoma tripoints, the Oklahoma highpoint, and the driving tour through Cimarron National Grassland. The Prairie Dog Village at the grassland is definitely on the agenda. I’ll probably ask again later as the date approaches, although anyone with an immediate "must see" oddity within easy striking distance of this route should feel free to suggest it now.

I continue to be fascinated by a comment from Mr. Burns. He noted that locals pronounce the Kansas town on the Dust Bowl list, Ulysses, as "You-liss-us" rather than "You-liss-eez." That makes logical sense when one considers that Ulysses is located in Grant County. Thus it’s Ulysses, Grant, and indeed it refers to the General and President of the same name. It’s one of those first name – surname symmetry locations mentioned in a previous article.


Shaped Like Indonesia

Remember my article about Pinwheel? It’s now called Findery. They had to change the name because of a trademark dispute. That’s an interesting tangent although somewhat immaterial. Getting back to the point, I noticed a post over there a few days ago about a place called Taman Mini Indonesia Indah.



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Taman Mini Indonesia Indah features Indonesian culture, and the most striking feature for geo-geeks such as ourselves is its centerpiece lake with islands shaped like Indonesia. If you have an account on Findery you can view the original note at Mini Indonesia. If you’d like an invitation to Findery, let me know because I still have a few left. If none of that really matters, then simply ponder the awesome shape and move on when you’re ready.


Gazetteers and Place Name Databases

Are you getting tired of weird place names from the same four countries on most 12MC articles, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States? I am. I noted my dilemma in Captains Less Prestigious earlier this week. I haven’t been able to locate publicly-available Internet place name databases for other nations. I’m hamstrung by my inability to search in languages other than English.

I’d love to create a compendium of national place name database links, or better yet use one that may already exist, in addition to the four databases I’ve already identified. Let me know if you are aware of any. I’ll gladly add them to my repertoire to increase the variety of international locations highlighted on 12MC.


You Know You’re a Geo-Geek When…



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I played a game of hide-and-seek with my friends when I was about 10 years old. I ran towards home base just steps ahead of a kid who was chasing me, and slammed my face into a metal pole. I’m reminded when I watch my own children that kids of that age don’t have any common sense, and my misadventure was a perfect case in point. Who in his right mind would select a metal swing-set as home base? I will note for the record that I was safe by the way, however I did manage to break a corner of a front tooth in the process. A quick trip to the dentist took care of that issue and it’s completely unnoticeable. Now every fifteen years or so the repair breaks-off and I have to get it replaced. That happened randomly on Monday.

I’ll answer the question for you now that we all understand the context. "You know you’re a geo-geek when… you look into the mirror and your first though is how much your damaged tooth resembles Nevada."

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12 Mile Circle:
An Appreciation of Unusual Places
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