Saturday, May 11, 2013

in which I admit what a collosal Geek I am

I'm the face behind the mask

On Thursday evening, I found a post on Facebook by the host of Drive Thru History, Dave Stotts. He shared a free geography game called GeoGuessr. I played a round with the girls that night before they went to bed.

I played several more rounds that evening and then Tim and I watched an episode of Grimm. After Grimm, when I was getting ready for bed, Tim found Galaxy Quest on t.v. It has been years since I've seen that movie. I stayed up until 1:15 laughing so hard I had tears rolling down my cheeks and I nearly peed in my pants.

Tim and a bevy of girls, myself included

Last night we played another game with the girls. How do you play the game? Jeffrey Matulef creates a fun scenario for the game in his review of it. He writes:

You've been kidnapped. Knocked out and set in a trunk to wake up in a dimly lit underground bunker. You somehow break free from your captors and stumble outside. Taking a look around, you realise you could be anywhere. You scour the landscape for clues: the language of the street signs, the flora, the architecture. Where in the world could you be?!

However, he then confesses that it really isn't the scenario for the game but it could be. Actually, the game is more basic than that. It has five rounds per game. You are randomly plopped down somewhere on earth and your job is to explore the area and figure out where in the world you are.

confused yet?

When we played it with the girls the closest we came to the mark was about 2 kilometers for a location in Hong Kong.

After the girls went to bed and the dogs were taken out for the last time and I had a shower, Tim and I played another game. From 9 to 12 we located five marks. The furtherest we were off by was about a 1000 km. I guessed a location in Northern Italy and it was actually downtown Palermo in Sicily. The closest we got to a mark was a tourist area in Wales. We were 0.001 km off the mark. In other words, we were a meter from the mark.

It helps to recognize alphabets (if you know what Hebrew and Cyrillic look like, it is much easier to narrow down your area). Knowing dialectic words helps. Noticing that a lot of local signage referred to Skye helped narrow down our location in Scotland (we were 2 km off on that one). Words like brumby (and all white lines on a road) confirm that you are looking for a place in Australia. A sign with two languages and one of them has odd words with lots of c's, y's, w's, and p's, and a noticeable dearth of vowels pins down Wales. I also recognized Norse (I think I've read too much background on Tolkein). 

If you are familiar with an area, you might even guess it out right. One round dropped us in the Colorado Rockies, a place my family vacationed in often when I was a child. The location was 11 Mile Reservoir, a place we camped at on one of our first vacations to the Rockies (to be honest I knew without a doubt it was an area of the Rockies I was familiar with but I had to see the sign for the reservoir to realize I had actually been there).

It was weird, when we explored the dirt road I could smell the dust and I could smell the conifers (but then again, when I see photos of dead  animals I smell and taste a metallic smell - maybe that has to do with going with Dad when he sold his trap-line pelts and entering the barn where the man kept all the game before doing whatever he was going to do with it (I can still clearly see all of it) but I digress).

Architecture can be a clue too. Roman arches on a raised stone aquaduct narrows your search. I've found that there is a certain look to most of the homes in Australia. Crenellations - make you start thinking about where castles were to be found. Oh look narrow cobblestone streets with wrought iron balconies on second story apartments and red geraniums and a scooter passing by! Suddenly you are on the track of Italy.

I've noticed that rural areas with red dirt often find you in South Africa. All white lines on the road mean you are most likely in Australia. Knowing the colors of national flags can help (they blurred the maple leaf on the Canadian flag - which reminds me they blur all license plates and a lot of the signage).  Even looking at the types of machinery and vehicles is a clue. The shape of a license plate can rule out the U.S. A predominance of certain colors has also helped me narrow my direction.

While we were playing this with the girls, Charis reveled in the deductive reasoning necessary to figure out your location. She likes deductive reasoning and critical thinking activities.

Unfortunately, activities like this put my brain into hyperdrive and make it hard for me to go to sleep. So after we finished, I decided to read awhile before going to bed.

I decided to finish one of the books on my Kindle, Deliver Us from Me-ville, by David Zimmerman (very worth reading if you want to be convicted of your pride and need for humility). Now I only have eight books going (of my own, you don't want to know all the books I am reading to the girls):

Walking With Bilbo: Sarah Arthur
Main Street: Sinclair Lewis
A Discourse Upon the Origin and the Foundation of Inequality Among Mankind by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Leviathan: Thomas Hobbes
Designed for Devotion: Dianne Neal Matthews
The Help: Kathrynn Stockett
10 Books that Screwed Up the World and Five others that Didn't Help: Benjamin Wiker
10 Books that Every Conservative Must Read {Plus Four not to Miss and One Imposter): Benjamin Wiker

To clarify,  I am not Hobbesinian or a fan of Rousseau. However, I am a firm believer in going to the source. I am actually rereading the 10 Books that Screwed Up the World and trying to read the books that Wiker reviews in his fascinating and enlightening book (Hence: Rousseau and Hobbes). I am weird that way (so far I've finished The Prince by Machiavelli and Descarte's Discourse on Method).

So what is with Hugo? I recently finished his novel Toilers of the Sea which is nearly as good as Les Miserables but doesn't have the redemptive element which causes it to fall short.

Last night when I went to bed, I told Tim that I thought the reason I dyed my hair blue was to prove I wasn't as boring as I sounded. He told me that it didn't work. :(

me at 9 mos and my maternal great-grand parents

If you look closely in the photo montage above my grandparents you can see my Mom and her three brothers all in a row. See the horse and buggy in the lower-right? The lowest four pictures that are pinned in a tight row, to the left of the horse photo are those of my Mom and her brothers. She is in the white nurses uniform and then you see Harvey, Melvin, and Daryl. I think this would have been just a little bit before Harvey was killed in a harvesting accident.

When I was young, I was fascinated by those photos and the little house made of river stones and rocks that Grandpa Ponstein had made. He always made giant sugar cookies and would tease us that our shoes were his and put them on his big toe.

Grandma had this little picket fence with holly hocks that I always remember and there johnny-jump-ups sprinkling the buffalo grass in her yard. There was a little willow tree and giant mulberry and black walnut trees. They lived in a tiny, tidy house with porch on two sides of the house at the end of a little dirt trail at the edge of Long Island.

When Mom and Dad first got into raising sheep they bought some ewes from Robert Bowman (one special ewe was Sugar) and they lived in the barn at Grandpa and Grandma Ponstein's.


  1. I am the biggest fan of Galaxy Quest. Saw it three times in the theater when it came out, and countless times since. You crazy geeky thing, loved the post, esp those photos of your misspent youth, ha!!

  2. Nah, you're not geeky. You're well-rounded and interesting. You pursue what intrigues you. PS...Galaxy Quest was hilarious! I've seen it a few times & it still makes me laugh.

  3. Wow. Educational games, deep reads and an epic post.. yes you are wonderfully geeky. Your kids are lucky to have you! I loved the memory of your grandfather teasing that your shoes were his. It's those little things that are so precious.

    Blessings, Debbie

  4. Urgh I remember studying The Prince as part of the literature element of the first year of my degree, booooring! Not my cup-o'-tea at all.

    Your book-list sounds fascinating, and I love your photos. They looked like fun times. x

  5. I love this post!