Saturday, 22 December 2007

In God's Big Country

Have just spent a couple of days on the edge of the Little Karoo, miles from anywhere. This picture doesn't give justice to the scale of the area at all. Miles and miles of scrubland, with rugged rock outcrops all set in the baking heat. Little to survey. Or certainly at what the Ordnance Survey would call small scale. I sometimes forget how small the UK is and how vast 'real' distances are.

Meanwhile, back in the UK (or is it France? Belgium?) a Christmas shopping exhibition goes astray courtesy of our never-ending trust in sat nav systems ...

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Medal of Honour

As expected, I had a ball in London on Thursday. It was the international Geomatics faculty board and I was honoured to be voted in, uncontested, as the new Chair of the Geomatics Faculty. Sometimes I think it's an absolute piece-of-cake and then sometimes I think "oh shit....!" I chaired the meeting all day which was fine but I realised that as Chair I can no longer slope out to grab a coffee/tea when I feel like it. Timing is everything.

After the meeting and gathering my thoughts, we shot up to UCL for the evening lecture. I travelled up with 6 others and it was so funny at times trying to do the headcount of the English/German/Chinese we travelled with. We all got there eventually and I met up with some cherished mates at UCL. I received the 'medal of honour' at the lecture which was another funny occasion. I was introduced as the first female chair of the Geomatics Faculty. And as my long hair got caught up in the catch/ribbon I realised why it was so significant...

The lecture was great. Not only was the subject, land tenture globally, fascinating but the three presenters changed Christmas hats each time they spoke which made us all laugh. Long live humour and geomatics. Stig Enimark, President of FIG, was there so we were honoured. And I was doubly honoured by my old geomatics lecturer, Prof Paul Cross, also being there. He talks so much sense that guy. Now all he needs to do is organise heating for the next lecture and we're set...

We ended up dining in an Italian somewhere in London which was lovely as I sat opposite an old mate from the RICS.

I arrived home on the Friday respledant with medal. My husband fell about laughing big time and explained it major 'bling'. Hey, it says "President of the Land Division of the RICS", I'm not knocking it. My girls thought it very funny too and I couldn't help but laugh when my 9 year old said "does this now mean you're president of the UK?". Uhmm, give me a year or so....

I think I'm going to have a great time over next 18 months as Geomatics Chair.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Can't Wait to See You Again

I first came across one of Everest's theodolites when I was map shopping in Cape Town in 1995. We had to go to the mapping office in Cape Town suburbia; no popping into WHSmiths to pick up your OS equivalent then. Whilst loitering waiting for my map I turned and faced a room stuffed full of surveying artifacts. It was locked but they let me in for a wander which was really kind. The piece de resistance, towards the back of the crowded room, was one of Everest's theodolites. I think it had been left there enroute to India back at the beginning of the 19th century.

The only time I've been face to face with another of his theodolites was when visiting the Great Arc Festival in London in 2002. That was a fun night!

Anyway, I'm off to Cape Town this weekend and decided to visit my old friend. I've just received a very helpful e-mail from the Director of Survey Services who says that if I let him know when I'm visiting he'll come in (off leave) and show me around. Now just how lovely is that? Can't wait! wink

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Like Mother like Daughter

What more do I need to say?

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Give Him a Big Hand

Just enjoyed this article by the International Herald Tribune.

It is a review of some cartography books ranging from the sensible such as "Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations" through "Psychogeography" to the downright stupid (but probably true) "Our Dumb World: Atlas of the Planet Earth". [The latter involving Hello Kitty and Japan, I think you get the point...].

Some statements made sense
"If 90 percent of life is showing up, the other 10 percent is figuring out how to get there"
and this very true one
"Mapmakers ... offer a self-interested vision of the world packaged as a neutral document."

However I can't concur that "... the planet has been plotted down to the last square inch" - esp if you consider the wet bits. Where do people get this idea from?

And how about this one?
"the map ... an exquisite specimen drawn on parchment, minutely detailed with mountains, rivers, oceans and a wealth of symbols waiting to be transformed into music by our trembling, excitable minds." rolleyes

Loved this map of London.

They don't make them like that any more.wink