If Geography Is Prose, Maps Are Iconography (Lennart Meri)
After months and months of not making progress on my graduate degree, I successfully defended my thesis research proposal in November, in spite of having yet to learn some of the methods that I'm hoping to rely on to assess land cover and vegetative change in my focus area.

I've been taking a course about how to apply raster analysis in ArcMap to examine social and ecological landscapes. After months of churning away, I finally figured out how to generate an NDVI image from Landsat imagery - significance here being that NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) is one of the methods that I'm hoping to use to quantify biomass change over time. Here's my first shot at it:

Definitely a very rough first shot. Notice that I failed to remember to include a legend to inform you what you're looking at (basically, the lighter the color, the higher the biomass - the massive white areas are forests on the slopes of Mounts Meru and Kilimanjaro. The ranch that I'm focusing on is outlined in green (again, forgot to explain that). Also, I didn't mask for clouds, meaning the darker dots in the northeast corner of the ranch are actually cloud shadows...ooh, and I also forgot to include that the map is oriented traditionally with North being up.

Lots more of these in my future for sure, so I figured I had to enshrine my first attempt so that I can be embarrassed about its crudity later!

Nec timor nec temeritas
Here is the final output of the earlier map I posted a couple of days ago. In brief, it is the combination of a variety of weighted layers that might factor in to the decision for developing urban farms in the greater Pittsburgh, PA area. This is the final product of a group project for FORS 565 at Penn State, which included Kevin Sparks, Yooinn Hong, and Neil Brown. Contact me if you re interested in more specifics regarding the workflow and resultant map.
I'm taking a GIS raster analysis course this fall which has been fun and also incredibly challenging. Here is an overlay of all the hydrological features and the state and local roads in Allegheny County, PA (buffered at 120m). This map isn't very practical right now, but I rather like the abstract image that is created by overlaying these transport networks.
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) on the window of Ritenour Building this morning.
Since our office moved to a new building in July, chickadees were the only birds that had discovered my feeder's new location. Today I've got two titmice flittering around in the bushes outside, so perhaps the word has finally gotten out!
University Park, PA - Central PA 4th Fest fireworks from Beaver Stadium
“The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first and love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.”   ~Theodore Roosevelt
(via www.xkcd.com; thanks to KJBLS for sharing this)

One last post to let any inquiring minds know that we all made it safely on to the flight and are en route to Amsterdam and then home!