Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ski trip snapshots


We just got back from a week of cross-country skiing at Yellowstone. We did a lot of slow, easy skiing and exploring the park. Here are a few snapshots.

One a long day (out for 6.5 hours) we stopped for lunch at Lone Star Geyser. Our timing was perfect. Within 5 minutes of stopping, the geyser erupted. We had the whole are to ourselves and were able to enjoy the show - a good 15 minutes of hot water and steam blasting from the geyser.

After stopping at the geyser, we skied back along an old road bed that parallels a creek. The park grooms the trail, making the skiing a lot easier and faster than the non-groomed trails. In the last few years, the amount of groomed trails at Yellowstone has increased a lot.

We did a tour of the upper geyser basin. The snapshot gives you a sense of the steam along part of the trail. The steam was from one of the many hot springs along the trail. You might also notice that there isn't a lot of snow. In part that is because there hasn't been the normal amount of snow at the park this winter. In part that is because the ground is warm and the snow melts.

Spotting wildlife is a highlight of any trip to Yellowstone. We met two bull bison. You know that they will leave you alone. They just want to get where they are going and save energy. So, you stand and let them pass. But, it is still a bit scary because they are big animals and they move well in the snow. If they were mad at you, you'd be in trouble.

Finally, I thought I should throw in a self portrait.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 4:17 PM


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Watching TV


I'm watching the Olympics on TV thinking, "it is a shame orienteering isn't in the Olympics." It'd be quite cool to be able to sit in front of the TV and watch orienteers racing around Vancouver.

Check out some of the Vancouver maps from GVOC.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:54 PM


Wednesday, February 10, 2010



One of the things that caught the attention of the author of a story about Shanni Davis (Olympic speed skater) was Davis' writing.

Before and after his workouts on the days I watched him train, Davis sat on a bench in the interior of the long-track oval and wrote in a notebook. It contained details of workouts, statistics from competitions, even what he ate on certain days. "I usually just write down what I’m doing and how I felt," he said when I asked him about it. "How I felt if I’m skating fast, compared to if I’m skating slow or if I’m tired. I can always go back and look as a reference and see what I was doing. It’s pretty much my life on ice."

And a quote from a coach:

Ryan Shimabukuro, who came to the mainland from his native Hawaii in his teens to train as a speed skater, frequently oversees Davis’s training when he skates on the long-track oval in Utah. "The thing at this level that sets people apart is their mental capacity," he told me. "Shani has the mental toughness to train unbelievably hard. He is also very intelligent. He is a student of the sport. He writes everything down. There are very few athletes who do that. And he doesn’t just look internally. He observes what his competitors do."

The whole article was in the NY Times Magazine

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posted by Michael | 7:24 PM


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Hey Ogg, why don't you get us that meat?


I just did a little experiment after I read something on Attackpoint:

I find low-resolution jpg files to be of limited utility from a training perspective. They're fine for comparing routes, but if what you want is to get better at reading an orienteering map, you need an orienteering map.

And that got me wondering about the difference between a jpg and an OCAD map printed on my cheap inkjet printer. So, I did an experiment.

I opened a file from a jpg file from a DOMA archive and sent it to the printer. Then I compared it to an OCAD map printed on the same printer.

Are they different?


How are they different?

The jpg file doesn't print as sharply. All of the features are a bit softer. The jpg colors are rougher. In general, the colors have more saturation in the jpg file, making the map look brighter. The colors are less smooth in the jpg. In an area of a single color, there is a sense that the shading isn't quite even.

I think it is clear that the original map is better and given the choice, you'd rather look at and use the OCAD version rather than the jpg version. But, what caught my eye in the quote from Attackpoint was:

...if what you want is to get better at reading an orienteering map, you need an orienteering map.

The context is a discussion about making "leftover" maps from events available to people who want to use them, for example, for armchair orienteering or for running with a map in hand.

For the life of me, I can't figure out how a jpg file isn't adequate. It might not be as easy to look at or have exactly the IOF standard colors, but I'd think you could get as much benefit of using a jpg as using an OCAD map. That said, I've been known to train orienteering with black and white photocopies of maps, on tourist maps, using Openorienteeringmap, and using black and white photocopies of contour only maps. I've always felt you can get something out of just about any map as long as the map represents spatial relationships in a reasonable way.

I'm not saying that given a choice between a jpg copy of a map and a well-printed map, I'd pick the jpg. But, I do believe that you can get a lot of good from using those jpg maps that are so easy to find on the web.

I think the comment on Attackpoint represents something fairly common - an ability to identify problems over solutions. People see hurdles before they see opportunities. Many of us are hardwired to spot problems and to identify reasons a situation isn't ideal. Fewer of us are hardwired to spot the opportunities.

Maybe it goes back thousands of years. Seeing problems first might have suited us well. I'm imaging a group of cavemen. They are hungry. They come across a tiger eating some raw meat. "Hey Ogg, why don't you get us that meat?" Ogg would be well suited to point out that, while the meat might be good, he wasn't about to take on a tiger to get it. Ogg was well-served by seeing the hurdle rather than the opportunity.

I'm guessing that someone training to improve as an orienteer would be better served by seeing the opportunity rather than seeing the hurdle.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 3:27 PM


Saturday, February 06, 2010

Today's race at Wyandotte


Not much to say. The footing was a bit sketchy from yesterday's snow. The course is unusual.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:53 PM


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Tiny map...far, far away


I've been thinking about trying to make a map from a distance. Pick an area, find good basemap material, study available photos, and create a map. It'd be an interesting experiment to see how much you could do without setting foot in the terrain.

And yesterday an example of just such an experiment arrived by email.

Check out this map from Ferran Santoyo Medina of Spain.

And here is a nice interview with the mapper.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:51 PM


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