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Personal geography of 2014 | by Eric Fischer
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Personal geography of 2014

Compared to previous years this has been a strange and limited year for me geographically.


To begin with the immediately concrete, I’ve hardly gone outside in the past week and a half, thanks to an extended episode of my right foot being stiff and swollen from gout. This time it struck without warning or provocation, unlike the previous time earlier this year, which you can see foreshadowed on the map as a day of biking around exploring West Oakland and then to Berkeley. The next day I could barely walk, and I haven’t dared to ride a bike in months.


My daily routine has been dominated all year by getting between home and MacArthur or Rockridge BART stations and between Civic Center BART and the Mapbox office on 9th Street. There are also many short walks from 16th Street BART for the Friday morning ritual of geobreakfast, and some longer ones taking advantage of some extra time in the morning to walk between 16th Street and Castro or Church stations instead of going straight to work. Another couple of early mornings I went to Glen Park and Noe Valley just to count pedestrians.


The long straight lines in the Oakland Hills are GPS tracks from airplanes. The rules changed and now you can use a GPS receiver during takeoff and landing, but it’s still hard to get a good signal. The trips were to Boston, to speak at the OpenVis conference (and then from there to Maryland to visit Steph’s family), and to Minneapolis, to speak at Eyeo Festival. Not visible on the map are two trips to visit my parents in southern California.


Locally, I talked at the Macro City conference at the Brava Theater, at Swissnex on Montgomery, at the National Association of City Transportation Officials at SPUR, and to a cartography class at San Francisco State, gave lunch talks at SFMTA and Gehl Architects, and was in SPUR’s Urban Cartography exhibit.


One Saturday I took the F Market around the Embarcadero to go to the library book sale at Fort Mason and came away with seven bound volumes of the Armed Forces Song Folio, monthly compilations of popular sheet music issued by the military in the 1940s and 50s. By systematically working through them, I’ve finally become a competent “fake book” pianist, able to play songs I’ve never heard before from the written melody and chords, although playing full standard piano arrangements is still beyond me.


I think the only new infrastructure reflected here is trying out BART’s Oakland Airport Connector on its opening day.




In general, black is walking, red is bicycling, blue is cars or buses, and green is above-ground rapid transit or freeways. (Color is from speed, not from an actual record of transportation mode.) Not shown: tunnels and subways. How big is your world?


Other people doing similar things: Nicole Aptekar.

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Uploaded on January 1, 2015