Some days I forget how old I am.
Martin Luther King Day first appeared in 1986 while Reagan was in office. Which should have put me squarely in 9th grade. Maybe 8th. I’m old.
It was another thing on the pile of the goofiness of my childhood. Not that my entire childhood was goofy it just seemed to swing to some very polarized spots. It’s a public blog so I don’t want to explain much. I prefer to keep everything involving personal a bit foggy for you reader. Growing up there were two sides of my family – the Appalachia side and the Georgia Side. One side never saw black people. They lived out. For me it was the edge of the world. The other side had members in a nefarious organization that didn’t care much for diversity that were prone to put on a bed sheet.
My family isn’t wealthy by any stretch. I am a proud example of public schools in action. I also lived in a very blended world at school. If you were to look at elementary school through high school I was part of a very shrinking majority. My elementary school was probably 50% white and 49% black with 1% being whatever Asian family appeared for that year or three or six. High school was probably 95% black. It didn’t bother me much. My high school in an attempt to foster excellence OR keep state regulators off their backs formed a “school of excellence” where probably 30 or 40 of us worked to keep the school average up and technically evened things a bit better racially. I could never say enough good things about my teachers or principals. My elementary school principle still appears from time to time. “Mr Wolf how are you? Oh Mr Hale – How are you?”.
It was always fascinating. At school I was in the minority (but was part of the majority). Church I was back to being a Majority again. Extended family never quite knew where I went to school. The Appalachia side didn’t care. The Georgia side didn’t entirely know. I laugh about it now.
Anyway, I really don’t remember this Holiday getting passed. The year previous I had won a black history month essay contest. I was incredibly worried about going to the church on a side of town I didn’t normally visit to pick up my savings bond. So I didn’t. I regret not going. The pastor of the church came to school to give me the award and we stood next to each other for 5 minutes before he realized I wasn’t black. I was the guy who had won the award. I kept the savings bond until college.
In high school, Morehouse came handing out scholarships. Now this was in the days of no computers. So they pulled the top 15 or so students for scholarships. I was number 15. I ignored my name when it was called. The teacher (who was white) came up to me and laughed. “You have to go.” I looked at her going “But….Mrs <> – I…..eh…..They’ve made a mistake”. “GO”. And I went. I walked in and there was two things that happened. My friends “Randy what are you doing here hahahaha” and the Morehouse representatives looking exceptionally confused. I asked for half the money of the award in cash. Didn’t get it. One of my friends got award number 15 due to some quick paperwork shuffling. I got to keep the original printed award for the memories.
Gym was a whole exercise in pain. I remember one conversation with three people. Stud from the football Team. High School basketball Coach. Me. “Hey Coach, Why don’t white people come to out school?” said the football guy. The coach would reply “because they all think they better than us”. Me “Hey! I’m not better than anyone”.
In my first “real job” back in the 90’s my boss came up to me the day before MLK Day. “Eh…so I don’t recognize this holiday. We work on Monday.” and I go “Eh….so I get paid time and a half for working on a Holiday?”. “No. You can take off later but you’re gonna work. This Holiday is just bullsh*t.”
In some field work not terribly long ago I found myself in an all Black neighborhood. The field crew I was with was slightly more nervous about being there than I was…mainly for my safety. “Randee – so this area is…..” me: “Mostly black and they won’t like a white guy walking around talking to people?”. Everyone would stop to look at me and I go “I know – I’m good with that – here You (pick out someone) are boss man for this week. Just follow my lead on the technical”. Which was a blast. You get to learn a lot when you aren’t “in charge”.
These days I’m surrounded by more crazy right wing people that listen to too much talk radio. “Too much race baitin’ these days. Everyone is happy if you don’t point out how different everyone is.” Of course then I start pointing out how we are different and some people need help. Maybe things are slightly to greatly unequal if you can wrap your head around that.
So at 43 I’m working part of today. I am owned by a small business. I realize that all of that “fun” of high school was 26 years ago. I often look back and think that the environment gave me the most well rounded eduction of all. I’m fairly tolerant of just about anyone except people that are just a-holes. I don’t have enough friends currently though. Much less ones that are black, green, gay, straight, religious, and shades of crazy. I am tempted to visit the church up the road today – they are collecting can goods and while I don’t want to spend any extra money….how much am I gonna miss 10 bucks next month?
So go out today and laugh. Do something good. Help someone.
I know I’m late on blogging – I’ve been busy.
So today I’m officially removing my self imposed break from OpenStreetMap and making it the community map I want… Help the US, Ireland, and the Kingdom of Lesotho build a basemap in OpenStreetMap.
Apart from a social media hashtag #MapLesotho is a crowdsource effort. The aims are to create an open, free to use map of the Kingdom of Lesotho on openstreetmap. This map should be well spatially defined with openstreetmap tagging. Lesotho has had no such free, open and accessible spatial data shared beyond or within Government agencies in the Kingdom. #MapLesotho is going to change this rapidly and put Lesotho on the map
The crowdsourcing is facilitated by using the HOTOSM tasking tool, which is used to support co-ordinated work by mappers who use openstreetmap. Various mapathons, as well as twitter campaigns and other promotions have taken place since the map of the country started to be built in February 2014.
The effort to start mapping this small country started as a result of Spatial Data professionals from Fingal County Council in Ireland working with Assistant Physical Planners from the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftanship to overcome their spatial data challenges. To date the crowdsource has involved persons and groups from numerous different countries.
There are two projects setup for this:
They need help checking and digitizing! Don’t let the legend fool you – it may look almost done but there is still a lot of work left to do.
If you’ve been keeping up – QGIS is quite a bit of fun to work with. Probably my biggest complaint was the cartography and that complaint shrinks with every release.
Nyall Dawson , a guy who seems to spear head a lot of the cartographic end of life, is running a kickstarter campaign. I’m going to be lazy and just copy and paste from the kick starter site:
QGIS is an open source GIS system, well regarded for its extensive feature set and active development community. QGIS has fantastic cartographic abilities – it’s got a huge range of symbology styles and options which can be used to style your maps. But there’s more we can do to push this even further…
One long requested cartographic feature has been for live drop shadows on layers. Why stop there? Why not inner and outer glow effects and live blur effects? Just imagine the cartographic possibilities if this functionality was available from within a GIS, and didn’t require exporting maps to external editors!
What I’ll deliver
- A framework for adding live layer effects to QGIS
- Initially, effects will only be used for symbols (including point, line and polygon symbols). But, the proposed framework will be flexible enough to be added to other areas of QGIS in future (eg, composer items and labelling).
- Adding a basic set of effects – including blur, drop shadow and outer glows.
- All the dry (but important) stuff – unit tests, python bindings, API docs.
While I’ve got proof of concept code working, there’s a lot still to do before this work is suitable for merging into the master QGIS codebase:
- GUI for adding and modifying effects
- Plugin architecture so that layer effects can be written in python and implemented via QGIS plugins
- Unit tests
This work is quite tedious and time consuming, and requires funded development time in order for me to complete.
I was reading Geohipster before it was cool…..
I just finished my second interview. No – I wasn’t interviewed. I’m interviewing people. I know – one more thing but it helps round out the day if I get bored. It started off as sort of a lark I think and now it’s turning into something. Several have been involved but Atanas is the lead geohipster.
So what is it? It appears to be a gathering place for those who are a little outside the conventional box….or maybe it’s a group that hasn’t learned not to buck the system….or we’re just a group of people having fun by interviewing others…or we’re re-enforcing the idea that Geo is still a weird wild world.
I never announced I was interviewing people….it just sorta started. I’m not even sure how many have been interviewed but it’s fun. You should head over and read what makes a GIS person tick. It’s a lot more than having a GISP…or using software….or drinking half caf mocha latte chino (I have no idea what I’m saying). For me GIS is always about the stories of why you end up doing what you do. I could tell you all sorts of stories about this skinny kid that went to a city school who hated computers……Who has been a lot of places and who has a lot more places to go. Instead – read about the other stories of why people end up in GIS. It’s fascinating.
Also – You want a shirt? You want a calendar? You want to help fund the insanity? This is all for fun – but it does have a few costs. So there’s a T Shirt (Now in black) and a wall calendar (order it starting with January 2015 as the month). Every little bit helps – who knows you might end up on the front one day in a beard drinking a PBR while listening to records.
I am passionate about metadata and every once in a while I meet someone else who is either also passionate about metadata or has had an interesting interaction with metadata and lived to tell the tale. A very small number of the people will tell me about their metadata mis-adventure while the rest of the people around us will slowly edge away from us as we discuss the necessity of the proper keyword thesaurus or some other metadata minutia. Those “other” people, well, they just don’t know what they’re missing. At the ASPRS / JACIE co-located conference in Louisville, KY in March I was lucky enough to catch the JACIE session on NED. Little did I realize the presenter, who had some great metadata information in the presentation, was someone I had spoke with on the phone about LiDAR metadata. I was extremely lucky as she sat at my table for lunch the next day. We exchanged some great stories. First, I better preface this with a sad warning. If you are all lucky enough not to have nightmares (or dreams) about work related topics in your sleep, you will not be able to relate to the rest of the story. You can, however, laugh with me…at myself…yes, and I suppose you’ll be laughing at me. But I don’t mind since I laugh at myself as well. Once the panic settles down about not doing something major on that dataset I will laugh but anyway, one with the story itself. When the presenter and I were talking at lunch she mentioned one of her coworkers had a metadata nightmare. The coworker said to herself in the nightmare, “I can’t use this apple, it doesn’t have metadata!” So the presenter wrote some metadata for the apple. Bounding coordinates of an orchard and everything. It sounded like an absolutely awesome way to chase away work-related sleep states to me! I just love this type of interaction and it is the reason I go to conferences. I have conversations with people who “get” my passion! And, you never know when this type of a connection will help you! I called on them for more metadata advice in late April. So sometimes it is who you know, but it is also who you connect with even if it is on a strange metadata topic!
After helping Michael in New York with a couple projection questions in QGIS (here and here), he gifted us with a couple bottles of Crown Dark Amber Maple Syrup that we can’t wait to sample. This stuff looks absolutely amazing!
Thank you, Michael. I promise not to let Randy use this on the new waffle tacos that will be coming to a Taco Bell near us soon.
Update 03.03.14: GA URISA Benefit Workshop to assist Joe Bless Family – Building an Address Repository Using the FGDC Standard. Find out more by clicking on the link to view the latest GA URISA newsletter. Thank you to all those who are so generously contributing to this effort. I know the Bless family appreciates everything being done right now.
During my time at Gainesville State College (now UNG) as a student and a staff member, I had the unique opportunity – the privilege – to meet many wonderful people, most of them my fellow AESA and GIS certificate students. I consider them not only as GSC family, but also as family within our broader GIS community. I’m convinced that the GIS network is closer than the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. I’m hoping that’s true by sending out this blog post and reaching out to my fellow GIS family members to ask for your support to help one of our own – Joe Bless, and to tell you about another family member – John Nesbitt.
I recently found out that two of our alumni and their families have been going through very challenging times. I’m saddened that one, John Nesbitt, lost his battle in late January with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He was bright and one of the most entertaining people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Those who had class with him and Brian together surely remember this well. Some of the fondest memories I have of John involve hearing the GIS Lab in Rm. 257 erupt with laughter on most days (and evenings) and trying to schedule Saturday field trips to Lake Lanier for our Limnology class around UGA game days because of John’s obsession with the Dawgs. Unfortunately, I don’t have more information on John and his family. If you would like to share more, please leave a comment here or send me an email and I will share it here with updates.
In the same week of hearing about John, myself and others received a message from another AESA graduate, Tim Guant. He told us about what another fellow graduate, Joe Bless, and his family has been going through. Joe, and Tim, were part of the IT concentration of the AESA program. During his time as a student and even after graduating, Joe was the embodiment of professionalism and always found time to help others, fellow students and faculty alike. I spoke with Joe’s wife, Lucy, yesterday. Between what she and Tim have told me, the Bless family is in desperate need of our help. Joe was hired by GeoFields but found out in November that he had a yet to be diagnosed brain disease that is strongly suspected to be Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and had to take extended medical leave as his brain mass decreased by 45%. Lucy tells me that GeoFields has been extremely supportive and wonderful to the family. During the last several months since finding out about Joe’s condition, Lucy’s mother passed away, she now cares for her elderly father, younger sister (both need special care) and their young daughter, and their house was flooded which has left the entire family living in a hotel until repairs have been done.
In response to this news, several of us have been trying to figure out ways to help and spread the word. As more concrete plans are made, myself and others will certainly share more. Until then, you can find out more information and leave messages for Joe on the Supporting the Bless Family Facebook page. If you would like to donate to the Bless Family, I’m told the best way to do so is through the Fundly.com page they have set up called Aiding the Bless Family.