Day 20: In Which the Sun Comes Back!

The mountains to the south are tall enough and the sun sinks low enough in the winter that that there is no direct sunlight into the fjord from mid-Novemberish to late January. The return of the sun is so exciting it was a local holiday yesterday, and the school fed us crepes about it. They were filled with whipped cream and jam and extremely tasty, and I watched the edge of the sunlight creep down the mountainside out the window as the sun rose at a brisk 10:30am.

looking southward, where there is in fact no sun. just clouds

Tragically, it was entirely overcast basically all day yesterday, so the sun was not actually visible on the first day of its return. Astronomy can be planned for, but weather cannot. If I squinted when I was walking around I could nearly convince myself that there was a slightly brighter-than-usual spot above the mountains, but it might have been wistful thinking. Or just in comparison to the clouds to the north.

looking north, at a solidly dark line of clouds that is, if not all the way to foreboding, at least bodes

That was the solid line of weather shaping up yesterday, and oh boy did it arrive today. There was an honest-to-god gale warning this morning, which means gusts of up to 65mph. Which is to many miles per hour! It was also bucketing rain, so the entire town has turned into a slip-and-slide of the first order, with deep standing puddles over perfectly smooth ice. It was also windy enough that just the wind pushed me several inches over ice when I was trying to stand still, which I did not like one bit. But I did manage to get to school without falling over, and I’m not sure how much to that chalk up to spending a chunk of my childhood learning how to globe-walk as opposed to sheer dumb luck. It looks like it’s going to be windy and rainy tomorrow too, what joy. It is kind of reassuring that the weather is sometimes awful even when I’m not trying to travel in it, and that it is not some particular curse. It’s just winter.

This class has been very fun though, in contrast to the weather; we spend the mornings talking about the theory and practice of cartography and the afternoons prodding an open source GIS program into spitting out useful maps. The mornings are a delight because we get to talk about the history of cartography and map projections and all manner of other things that are faintly nostalgic for me in the same way a lot of sedimentary geology is, because Mom talked about it with such joy when I was little. I also forgot that most people use the Gall-Peters projection when talking about equal area maps, even though it is just pug ugly and I don’t like it. Images snagged from Wikipedia:

Top left: Gall-Peters. Top right: Equal Earth.
Bottom left: Cylindrical, oblique orientation. Bottom right: Hobo-Dyer.

It’s just all weirdly extruded when it doesn’t have to be. I admit I’m partial to the Equal Earth one because it’s based off a Robinson projection and we had Robinson on the wall when I was a kid, so it just looks correct and familiar to me. But Hobo-Dyer is in the same vein and less irrationally irksome, I think purely because it’s wider. and the swoopy cylindrical is just fun to look at. (I’m aware I have too many map projection opinions, but it’s far too late for me now. I’m just relieved I never got into fonts or kerning because then I’d never do anything else).

The afternoons have also been going far more smoothly than I was expecting, in that I’m not endlessly mired by weird computer problems, which I admit I was very nervous about. I feel like I peer about a half layer down into what the computer is doing (with data typing and file storage and such) which makes it easier to figure out what the buttons think they should be doing. It’s also a little strange, because this class doesn’t have readings or a paper I’m supposed to be writing, so when we get out of class in the afternoon I actually don’t have to do anything and it’s throwing me for a small loop how much day I have. I’ve finished reading a couple of books recently, and I’m kinda relishing the free time and brain space.

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