September 4th, 2005

5th street los angeles 1905

Time-wasting Internets Map Toy has a database of GPS data and on-line tools for sharing data and photos for various hikes, climbs, bike trails, etc. The site is still under construction, but they already have operating one of the greatest toys I've found on the Internet. It is their map maker. You can use it to fetch a USGS aerial photo or topo map of any U.S. location, in any of three sizes, and at scales of either 1, 2, 4, or 8 meters per pixel, simply by entering the geographic coordinates of that location. If you don't know the coordinates of the place you want to fetch, you can search the GNIS database by place name or geographic feature. Thus I was able to get the Pasadena Playhouse in the exact center of an 1800x1800 image. Can't do that with Google. Also, you can fetch maps and photos by entering locations directly from your GPS device, but I don't have one so don't know exactly how that works.

The photos are not the most recent that USGS has released, such as the color photos they have on Google maps or Microsoft's terraserver, but they are single .jpg images which can easily be saved to your hard drive. Some maps of Pasadena I fetched appeared to be from the late 1990s, and they were a bit less detailed and a bit blurrier than the color images, but so much easier to save than Google or Microsoft's clusters of tiny, piecemeal images that I don't mind. Oh, I'm going to be squandering hours at this site, I know.


Yesterday afternoon, soft cirrus clouds began to form here and there. By nightfall they had gone. During the night, the sky was periodically swept by denser clouds which blacked out patches of stars. Early light revealed them as great swaths of small, grayish puffs, like roads filled with long parades of shadowy sheep. Dawn now turns them white, and they scatter until the whole sky is filled with flocks. I'd like to lie on the grass and watch them, but I must sleep.

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Late summer lassitude enervates the town. Dried seed pods pop in every field, and the desiccated grasses crunch underfoot, sending puffs of dust which barely drift in the still, hot air. The streams are sluggish and vaguely shadowed by hovering clouds of small insects. In front yards lining the empty streets, dogs and cats drowse in the flickering shade of doomed foliage. The evenings, though now much foreshortened, seem to drag. These days are like the weary final steps of a long journey. Then nightfall, accompanied by a soft, cool breeze, brings a foretaste of the destination not yet reached. Dusk brings a brief glimpse of the the bright crescent near the western horizon, the season's last moon. Just a few days after it passes the full, we will arrive at autumn. It feels as though it has taken ages.