What's my Lot?

If you visit WhatsMyLot.com and you happen to be on Prince Edward Island with a device – a desktop, a laptop, a mobile phone, a tablet – that knows its own location, the little app you find there will tell you which of the township lots originally set out by Samuel Holland in 1765 you happen to be standing in.

Here’s what it looks like when I call it up on my phone here in my office in Charlottetown:

What's my Lot

If I tap on the map icon, I see my township – Charlottetown Royalty, in this case – highlighted, and a marker showing my current location:

What's my Lot

If you leave the app running on your device and go for a ride in the countryside, as you cross lot boundaries you’ll see the lot number update as you drive (once you’ve loaded the app, you don’t need to have Internet connectivity for it to work: all of the logic of finding your location and identifying your lot happens on the device, using JavaScript).

The app also remembers which lots you’ve visited, colouring the lots red as you visit them. Collect all 67 (plus 3 royalties), and you win the Island!

This is just an alpha release of the app, to receive feedback in advance of packaging it up for the various app stores in preparation for the 250th anniversary of Holland’s survey next year.  So, please provide feedback.

Tides for September 14, 1914

Here’s a snippet from The Guardian, September 14, 1914, showing the September 1914 tide predictions for Charlottetown and highlighting the high tide times for this day, 100 years ago:

September 1914 tide predictions from The Guardian

Here’s a snippet from The Old Farmer’s Almanac Tide Predictions Calculator showing the predicted tides for September 14, 1914:

The Old Farmer's Almanac Tide Predictions for September 14, 1914

Comparing the two you can see that the high tide times predicted in The Guardian 1914 were 3:39 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.; the Almanac’s modern-day calculation puts these at 3:28 a.m. and 6:34 a.m., a different of 11 minutes and 4 minutes respectively. The Guardian predicted high tide height of 7.3 feet and 5.9 feet; the Almanac predicts 7.77 feet and 6.85 feet; not the same, but certainly in the same ballpark.

Although most every day of my working life for the past 18 years has, in one way or another, been steeped in the Moon and the Sun and the tides and the planets and the weather in one way or another, it never ceases to amaze me that the forces of nature have such a rhythm that they can be predicted not only a month in advance, but from a distance of 100 years.

It Takes 8 Minutes to Bicycle from My House to the PEI Brewing Company

A few days ago I spotted an intriguing photo on Instagram, taken by the inimitable Tristan Gray (who, among other things, might be PEI’s most attentive restaurant worker), of a new PEI Brewing Company – Receiver Coffee mashup, “Coffee Stout”:

Photo by Tristan Gray of PEI Brewing Company coffee stout

While I’m a regular consumer of Receiver’s coffee, I’m not a beer drinker, and so I haven’t paid much attention to the PEI Brewing Company, something not aided by its remote location in Charlottetown’s industrial suburbs.

But I liked the product design, and was curious about what the result of coffee + beer would be like, and so I decided to incorporate a visit to the company’s beer store on a cycle ride out to the University of PEI last night.

I turned to Google Maps for some guidance on the best cycle route and how long it would take to get out there, assuming that it might take 20 or 30 minutes to cycle so far out into the hinterland of the city. To my surprise, Google said 8 minutes:

Google Maps cycling directions from my house to PEI Brewing company showing estimated time of 8 minutes

I balked: there’s no way it was only going to take 8 minutes to cycle that far. So I started the stopwatch on my phone as I headed out the door. And I stopped the stopwatch on arriving at the Brewing Company, Here’s what it looked like:

My Android phone stopwatch application showing 8 minutes and 5 seconds

Eight minutes and five seconds. Amazing.

This simply serves to confirm the existence of the Charlottetown proximity-estimation-distortion-field when it comes to walking and cycling: we all grossly overestimate the time and distance between downtown and anything north of Euston Street. The notion, for example, of walking (Google says 51 minutes) or cycling (15 minutes) up to the Charlottetown Mall, would be considered by most here to be completely absurd, and akin to, say, walking to Moncton.

I bundled my beer into my bicycle basket and headed through the People’s Cemetery to St. Peters Road, then along Belvedere to the university, where I took in a lecture by Doug Sobey on the pre-settlement history of Prince Edward Island’s forests (it was fascinating, and incorporated the best use of PowerPoint I’ve ever seen).

When I emerged into the night at lecture’s end it was raining. Fortunately I was wearing my rain coast – the same German one that kept me partially dry during the Incident at Bukovel – and my bicycle was wearing its very-bright MEC lights, so I was able to almost-pleasantly cycle down the Confederation Trail to home. I arrived 15 minutes later a little soggy by happy in the new realization that everything is closer than I think.