Friday, 31 July 2009

Giving Google Earth a good Kick

All good things come to an end or "funny is over" as the Germans would say.

For the first time since I started the (not-so-) new (-anymore) job about a year ago, I was given a particularly boring project that requires me to spend copious amounts (aka all) of my work time in front of a computer - a hellish thing for any biologist in summer.
This won't really change until the first week of September. If it hadn't been for this last-minute emergency project moving up the priority list to positions 1, 2, 3 and 4, I would have had business trips to e.g. Romania and the north-west of Germany.

And that really sucks.

Now, don't tell me you'd have guessed that I was really bored and stuck at the computer, judging by the enormous amount of comments I left on your and others' blogs. Be nice instead and have pity on me.

Anyway, as I am often bored and as there are just so-and-so-many comments you can leave on other blogs before you'll be flagged as an Internet nuisance, I started this little game with Google Earth: virtual travelling. This is how it works:

1. Open Google Earth (obviously) and zoom in to a height of around 15 km (or roughly 10 miles). Then, give the globe a good kick [hold mouseclick, drag, release] so it starts to rotate and then "minimize" the program (so it isn't visible on your screen anymore but a mere icon at the bottom of your screen - geez, sometimes it is hard to blog in English when your computer is set to German).

2. Work on for a long time, leave comments on blogs, go to the staff canteen, look out of the window, scratch your head, pick your nose, ... all those things people do at work but don't look at Google Earth for, you know, like,... half an hour or so.

3. When you think the right time has come, click on the icon again so the map appears on your screen and if it is not blue (which means you're somewhere over open ocean) instantly click on the map to stop the globe from rotating.

4. zoom in and out to see where you have landed and rejoice.

5. if you are really bored and no-one is watching, search for birding travel reports from that area, look it up at Wikipedia and generally just pretend you'd be - virtually - travelling through the land you've accidentally hit. This however will take a lot of time and your employer won't like that. The Google kicking however is something that will entertain you without really requiring a significant amount of time, so it really is quick and easy entertainment.

I've had two really neat results so far:

I once landed precisely on a small atoll of the Maldives.
The second incident was remarkable: I started out in Newfoundland and gave the globe a kick. When I looked some time later, the screen was blue (ocean) so I minimized it again, waited, looked again: blue. Minimized again, looked again: blue, etc etc etc. for a long, long time until I finally made landfall. I had travelled from Newfoundland all the way down the Atlantic and halfway around Antarctica to the south coast of Australia in a straight line. As far as I can tell, this is - incidentally - the longest straight line you can draw through the ocean without touching land. It was more than 20,000 kilometres or roughly 13,000 miles.

The things you do...
But I shan't despair, birds will come my way - and the blog's way as well, I promise.


Larry said...

I dare you to do that and then go birding at whatever location comes up for you.-If you do-be sure to give us a report.

Jochen said...

Larry, I give you two of the most important words in the universe:



Apart from these two factors, this is a neat idea, especially as I just landed in the middle of Yellowstone NP.

Laurent said...

There is something worst than your case....being stuck in an office, while your cubicle neighboor (the biologist expert for my department, one of the authors of "birds of washtenaw county") has a sign showing "working in UP for 2 weeks".....

I'll let you know when he retires, in case you are interested...

Speaking of yellowstone NP, I might go there very soon, the alternative being Rocky Mountain NP...(september). Looking for my American Deeper!!!!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

LOL!! It seems as if you are REALLY borded if you are showing us how to fold a pice of paper Jochen! :)

Anyway, I really came here to ask you what you know about boerewors? LOL!!

Jochen said...

Hi Joan!
You have no idea just how bored I am at the office in summer.

I know tons about boerewors, but all of my knowledge revolves around how to eat as much of it as I can as often as I can. I absolutely LOVE it!!
Sadly, I can't get it in Germany and so I recently even looked the recipe up on the Internet and considered making some myself.

For your information: I spent a total amount of two years in southern Africa, mostly Namibia. So, Biltong is good, droe wors as well and I even got used to Brandy & Coke, but boerewors fresh from the grill at sites like e.g. Kalahari-Gemsbok NP (I know it is called differently now but have no idea since I sadly, sadly haven't been there since 1999) absolutely rules.

Jochen said...

Laurent, I hesitated to answer and I really don't know how to break it to you:

My colleague with whom I share my office had business trips where she had to check prime-time-fabulous marshlands for certain bird species in Poland, Hungary and the Czech republic.
And guess what, she isn't even a real birder, so she didn't even fully appreciate her job assignment to two of Europes most attractive birding destinations (Poland, Hungary).

I mean, I can see that the sign "working in UP for 2 weeks" hurts real bad, but Laurent, you are not alone in your suffering!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

You are going to have to come and visit more often then Jochen. Or I will have to send you some in the post. :)))

Namibia is good and I am planning to take some people to Etosha next year. Dont, know when yet as everything is still in the planning stages.

Are you involved in any of the exchanges of animals from there to the Pretoria Zoo. I live near it and know at one stage we were swapping them with Frankfurt.