Monday, August 04, 2008

Where You At? (Part 1)

Lots of you are now the proud recipients (right?) of our latest fundraising letter (.pdf), which references the "Where You At" quiz written by the fine folks at the CoEvolution Quarterly. The version we included with the letter was improved by Kevin Kelly, and is available as a .pdf here or on his original site here.

The quiz is excellently designed to test your knowledge of place. Some answers are rooted in historical or indigenous knowledge. Others change from day to day. Some can easily be googled; others will require more work. I know just a few people around here who could likely ace this thing on first try (without google or a reference library); I'd be curious to know if there's anyone who can whose answers are also the same as mine (meaning they would live very close to us).

So, in the interest in building and sharing knowledge, we're going to answer each of these questions for ourselves and share our process for finding answers. If we need to cheat we'll use the web for answers (and will say so). We'll also let you know our first guesses and how right we were. We'd love to see your own answers posted to the comments. Include your process and your problems in learning about your own place on this Earth.

For additional resources, check out Kevin Kelly's version, which includes loads of comments on how others have found answers to these questions.

We'll tackle 2 questions per blog entry, starting with:

1.) Point north

Well, I'm facing north right now, which I know because I'm on the opposite side of the house from our sun drenched patio. I can also find Polaris at night, if I can find the big dipper first. But how exactly north am I?

I know from past internet searches and from confirming with a friend that the magnetic declination in our area is currently just a hair over 6 degrees. So with a compass I can get spot on to both magnetic and solar north.

2.) What time is sunset today?

Boy. This is a no-brainer for a google search. I even have the page bookmarked. But let's figure out some other options first. My first guess is 9:15 tonight (August 4th), based on spending the weekend shooting photos at the Sleeping Bear Dunegrass festival and remembering which acts suddenly pulled out the big light shows. Some papers publish this information; however, I don't see it in the Antrim County News even though they sport a great fishing column. I could also just stand outside and wait, but I'd like to get this published before dinner and we live at the base of a tall forested hill that hides the actual sunset from us.

And of course, there's sunset, nautical sunset, astronomical sunset, end of light, etc. The point is not to be technically exact here, but to have a good general sense. I'm sticking with 9:15, and going to check Weather Underground for confirmation. Actual time there is listed as 9:02 pm, though I'll take some (very small) comfort from knowing that Saturday night was a full 3 minutes later and I wasn't wearing a watch.

Next post:
3.) Trace the water you drink from rainfall to your tap.
4) When you flush, where do the solids go? What happens to the waste water?

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