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Render Unto Caesar the Things that Map Poorly / Where We're At

Bom dia, everyone and anyone. I'm coming to you whatever-the-blog-equivalent-is-of "live" from the living room of Casa de Hayes, in beautiful Burnaby, British Columbia. 6:30 a.m., the boys asleep, Lisa off to work, prime website time.

We are located near the upper eastern corner of the South Slope, which will mean something to the locals. Here's something I haven't done on the website before, show you where we live. Google Earth, coming right up...

It's been quite a while since I posted about my gardening (here's the last, extensive post about it), and all of it happens around the back. That's the north side of the house, so we have a nice balance of shade and sun to work with. It's hard to tell from this image, but the backyard is on two levels, such that you go down about six or so steps from the driveway/garage area to our back lawns. For sun and space reasons, most of the garden is in the driveway where that white "x" is. Everything is in containers, allowing me to drag things and reconfigure depending on how individual plants are dealing with sun. I also have quite a bit below, on the right, where the white table and chairs are (we don't have that set up). Much harvesting lately - peas, beans, zukes, radishes, carrots, raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries. Tomatoes starting to ripen. The triangular section is where I put Rowan's wading pool. Many hours spent there. :-)

Here's a look at our neighbourhood:

Clicking the above will trigger the new Google Earth, as will clicking here. Notably near by: SkyTrain, Byrne Creek Ravine Park, Deer lake. Hardcore suburbia Vancouver-style, meaning houses very close together and quite a few trees on the side streets. Here's a more distant view that places us in the wider Vancouver context. We are around the white "x":

Enough of that. I thought that since I use Google Earth/Maps so much to look at the Algarve and Portugal generally, it was appropriate to turn the tables. Goose, gander, etc.

Apart from the above maps, the images used in this post are all screenshots of places in Portugal using Google Earth. Alas, I didn't save the url for each one, but each has its coordinates in the lower right-hand corner, so you could find them relatively easily if so desired. The header image is a view of the Zoo de Lagos. The theme connecting these images, hinted at in the title, is that they are examples of Google Earth's rendering algorithms producing bizarre and impossible formations. This usually happens when dealing with tall, skeletal structures like high-tension power line towers and construction cranes. It also occurs when rendering a ferris wheel, apparently, as in this view. Using the new Google Earth to zoom in on their rendered version of complex topographies, particularly urban ones, reveals streetscapes that look like a very intense psychedelic experience. Palm trees and leafless trees look like weird deformed balloons atop poles. Busy downtown streets are often populated with ghost cars. Buses, because of their very slow curbside speeds, turn into elongated larvae. These rendered landscapes look satisfyingly realistic from almost any distance other than close up (although a little too evenly lit), and I absolutely love hanging out at around a virtual 100 feet or so above the ground, zooming around while changing the angle of view. Next to a drone, it's simply the best way to understand the topography and physical context of a location. But it's very strange down there at the level we are most familiar with, droopy and melty and cockeyed and canted and chaotic.

Also, there are no people there. We have been erased from this digital representation of our world. I'm guessing that the rendering of people would be just as grotesque as the rendering of trees, so perhaps that's why we have been removed. Although at the level of resolution these images are at, people really only look like specks, so maybe they just didn't want a bunch of specks messing up the place.

Here's a direct comparison of the 2D view using Google Maps vs Google Earth. I've kept them large size so that detail is easier to see.

Google Maps, with people:

Google Earth, without people, although some of their shadows creepily sort of remain.

That's the Praça do Comércio of course, on the shore of the Tagus in Lisbon. Just because I can, here's an angled Google Earth view of the same.

Puts me in mind of the shadows left by a nuclear explosion, not to get too dark about it. :-)

The next image captures a piece of Lisbon, next to the Praça Marquês de Pombal. Lisa and I had a hotel room within a couple of blocks of here:

Damn, now that I look at it, it could actually be the hotel in this picture. Pretty magical night that night, reunited after being apart for months. I couldn't find ice the day she flew in, so I bought frozen vegetables and lined the bathroom sink with them for the champagne and other beverages. We're pretty sure Alex was conceived that night, certainly within the next few days.

As you might have guessed by now, I am especially amused when these renderings produce "objects" that float in the air. As if this is a world where lumpy sausages just hang in the space above you. Hilarious to me. I want to have that in our world.

They're like bizarre anti-gravity sculptures, often composed of a number of separate pieces. This power line tower somewhere in the Barrocal of (I think) eastern Algarve (Tavira municipality, maybe) is a good example of this - the coordinates are in the lower right, should you want them. This is actually the find that started me actively looking for these anomalies.

As usual, my day beckons. I have a lot to say, but it will have to wait. In the meantime, here's a bunch more scenes of rendered sur-reality.

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