Friday, November 12, 2010

Manicouagan Crater Lake

Buzzing around Google Maps today, I noticed an almost perfectly circular lake in far north in Quebec. A Wikipedia later, and it turns out that the lake is actually a reservoir. As for the shape? The reservoir fills the impact crater left by a meteorite believed to be 5km across that hit the earth approximately 214 million years ago. Scientists believe that the strike may have been one of three that occurred all around the same time.

Were it not for the completion of the Daniel-Johnson Dam in 1970, this crater would remain as illegible as the other two. With the filling of the reservoir, the topography of the crater was written clearly on the face of the Earth, visible from space and called the Eye of Quebec. Looks pretty cool from the ground too.

Photo by Martin Schmieder.

The Chicago Landmarks Quest: A Postmortem

As mentioned previously, in April 2009, I successfully identified an obsession that appealed to my admittedly quirky definition of enjoyable ways to spend a day. Looking back now, I was already well into this effort by the time I posted about it here. The first of my little landmark treks was all the way back on March 21st. Sadly, like so many of my 'great' ideas, this one never quite came all the way through to completion. Of course, I kept obscenely detailed records of the walks that I did take. As such, I can report lots of fun facts and statistics, such as:
  • I made 13 dedicated trips to see landmarks. All told, I covered 151.8 miles of Chicago streets.
  • I walked 92.6 miles and biked 59.2 miles.
  • On these walks, I found $1.23 in lost change, a random key, and an Indianapolis restroom token.
  • On these walks, I made it to exactly 100 of the 277 landmarks (36.1%!)
  • I made this cool Google map of all the landmarks, including those I didn't make it to.

View Chicago's Historic Landmark Structures in a larger map

Beyond the numbers, I got to see a lot of interesting buildings. The variety of buildings that at landmarked in Chicago really astounds. Some sites were the location of historic events or homes of important figures, while others were selected solely for their contribution to the field of Architecture. Every time I went out with a list of landmarks in my Moleskine, I knew that I could expect to see something new in the same old city. The list took me to great neighborhoods and awful ones. It led me to places I certainly never would have visited otherwise, and gave my days a structure and goal.

A typical walk. 10.2 miles, eight landmarks, and I found 26 cents along the way.
I'd take a look at a map, pick a general direction to go in, make a list of landmarks I thought I could get to and go. Never a set route, never a timeline. The only goal was to see as many as I could and snap a picture of each, and a couple along the way. Once home I'd cross them off the map and record the route I ended up taking on Gmaps-Pedometer. In retrospect, I wish that I'd taken more note of each trip, beyond the routes and the pictures. Some stories from those trips I'll remember forever, but some I'm sure I've lost.


Well. Judging from the time between postings, this blogging thing never really got off the ground last year. The intervening months saw plenty of changes - new jobs, old jobs, hirings, firings, cohabitations, moves, trips, and all the trials and delights that come with living life. Biggest of all changes is one of scenery. My great manifest destiny, go-west-young man experiment in Chicago has come to an end. It is most certainly a change of circumstance, not a reaction to the people and the place. I loved each of the 760 days that I lived in Chicago. Each brought something new and engaging and wonderful.

So. Goodbye, Chicago. Hello again, Philadelphia. Back to the city of my birth and education. As I tell people (likely too often) I'm back in Philadelphia mostly because I wanted to see if my girlfriend was as smart as me. I suggested that she apply to my beloved alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, mainly to see if she could get in. Of course, it turns out that she is far smarter than me and coasted right on in. Sadly, my choice to join her in Philadelphia resulted in another bout of the Unemployment. So, back to the blogs, I suppose.

I am happy to be back here. All of the things that I loved about Philly the first time around remain, including many of my friends. And, with the blessing and curse of time on my hands, I'm getting to explore plenty of new things that I missed at the first go. So, we'll give this another shot. I'm hoping to do a better service to my interests this time around. I need an outlet to record and share the things that I enjoy and find wonder in. So this time, more photos, more walks, more city, more maps, more lectures, more books, more real estate, and most - importantly - more posts. Hopefully the next one will take less than 18 months to germinate.