Sunday, June 22, 2008

Where in Google Earth Are You?

I have been thinking about an informative and humorous post by Sue Waters that started as a result of a Twitter conversation about Outback Steakhouse. Outback is an American steakhouse that promotes itself as having the Aussie culture. The tagline for their website is "Casual dining steak restaurants with an atmosphere suggestive of the rustic Australian outback."

I knew that Outback was nothing like Aussie, but I learned a lot in the post and in subsequent conversations. Learning about different cultures is fascinating to me and I thought it would be fun for readers to Comment some information about their hometown or area. Learning about each other is great fun.

Some suggested sharing items....
Favorite food or hangouts
What makes your area unique
Try to include a little about how school might be different/same
A saying or phrase that is unique to your area.

I will take all the comments and post them on Monday. My start is after the picture...

This is a picture from downtown Waterloo, IA, where I live. You may recognize the photo from similar video on CNN! I took it during the huge flood that raged through the downtown area a few weeks ago. The flood didn't reach my house, but it was within half of a mile. This bridge, and the other six across the river were closed for a few days. I took this picture on the day before it closed when I was out for a bike ride.

School in Iowa is based on four 45 day quarters (two semesters). Until this year, Iowa was the only state in the United States that didn't have state standards! In April, the legislature passed a law requiring schools to have a "Core Curriculum." Still a little different from what I understand of other states' curricula, there are only certain standards that schools must fit in...but schools may choose how they meet the standard.

We have the same fast food chains that most other metro areas have. I teach in Traer, which is about 22 miles south. In that town, there is only a bowling alley and two bars for restaurants!
My school is about 550 students in K-12. My teaches in Waterloo at the fourth largest school in the state, 1800 students in 9-12. Quite a contrast.

As far as a regional dialect, SOME people here (not me) say "Wash" and it sounds like "warsh". Similarly, creek, sounds like crick. We drink 'Pop' and not soda.

OK, so that is a starting place! What will you add?


Andrea Hernandez said...

I currently live in Jacksonville, Florida. The most distinguishing feature here is the unbelievable heat and humidity. Oh, and Jacksonville is the largest city in the country geographically. In other words, we take up a lot of space and call it all Jacksonville. Seriously, I used to be a traveling teacher for the county and could drive for an hour in about 5 different directions. Jax (as it is referred to affectionately by locals) is also known as The River City. There are lots of rivers, most notable is the St. Johns, which is the only river other than the Nile that flows northward instead of southward. that's it for now...gotta go food shopping in one of the strip malls. everything here is in strip malls...very suburban although we do have a downtown (which is pretty but fairly dead) and several little towns with walking commercial streets. But, like I said, it is really, really spread out!

Sue Waters said...

I'm glad you liked my post -- it has definitely lead to some enjoyable conversations.

So what is unique about where I live. I live in Perth Western Australia which is one of the most isolated capital cities in the World. To give you an example of the isolation -- Australia is about the same size as the US but most of the population lives on the East coast. To travel anywhere from Western Australia is expensive and time consuming.

We have a 4 term school year but our summer holidays is in December and January. I work in the Vocational education and training sector (i.e. TAFE) training people how to farm fish. My work is 45-50 minutes from where I live and I drive along the ocean each time I go to work. Couldn't imagine life without seeing the ocean.

We don't get snow here and would not have an idea what to do with it. Our school kids don't even learn to make snow flakes. While many people eat hot traditional meals on Christmas day (turkey, roast and ham) I like nothing better than an informal BBQ -- understandably because often close to 40 C on Christmas day.

Also hate daylight saving. Our State trialling it again. We already get enough daylight year round so no need for extra hours. Although we don't have late sunset.

Its a hot climate here -- so we have reticulation in our lawns i.e. underground pipes with sprinklers to keep our lawn alive.

Anonymous said...

I live on a farm near Hawkesdale,a small town of 150 residents. It is a pretty town surrounded by remnant bushland with gum trees, some wallabies, edchidnas and native birdlife. In summer the white cockatoos come en masse. Favorite food is a bbq as we only have a local pub(hotel) that serves meals two nights a week. There is a really pretty Apex park on the outskirts where we love having bbqs. The outdoor swimming pool is beside the park. Our area is unique in its smallness and strong community spirit. It is surrounded by sheep and dairy farms. We live on a sheep farm where we breed prime lambs for market.
Our school is small in size - 250 students from grade prep through to year 12. We are really into using web2.0 and 70% of our staff blog or collaborate on wikis. It is a small caring environment. The school has spacious grounds, with lots of gum trees. However, our students are good old fashioned country kids. Having communicated with students in Connecticut, there are also lots of similarities.
Saying common in our area: "How's it going mate??"

Kevin said...

I'm here in Western Massachusetts, USA, and our little city of Northampton (you can see it featured in the movie documentary about the Young At Heart Chorus) is a hub of the arts.
The downtown is not huge, but there are musicians on the streets, three big music clubs and artisan galleries all over the place.
I like that we are about 2 hours from Boston and 3 hours from New York City -- sort of in-between those two wonderful places.
There is a thriving small farm community that is still clinging to remaining viable, but just 10 years ago, there were family farms all over the place that have gone belly up, unfortunately.
Wal-Mart and the other big boxes get an earful when they come into this region, but they are still making progress to transform us into every other strip mall region in the world.
And that's a bit about where I live.

loonyhiker said...

I live in a small town called Fountain Inn, SC which is in the upstate (near the mountains)in Greenville County. I love living here in the south even thought it is very hot and humid here. I-85 goes right through my county and it is one of the largest counties in the state but my little town is more like Mayberry on TV. Okra is a common vegetable in our food and Grits are served with breakfast. Grits can also be eaten other times of the day in dishes such as shrimp and grits. We don't beep our car horns unless it is to wave hi to someone you know. Having conversations with the cashier at the grocery store is common and you never get in a hurry if you are the person next in line. Directions are sometimes given using landmarks (Billy's barn, where Mr. Smith lives, pass the creek and down the holler). People in my town are extremely nice and courteous and neighbors will help each other whenever they are needed. I hope my little town stays like this forever.

Barb said...

Hello from Hamilton, New Zealand. We are in the middle of our winter here and just passed the shortest day. Our region, the Waikato, is a well known dairying region. We are an hour from each coast. We have many renowned surfing beaches which we visit regularly for one keen surfer in the family. Hamilton is becoming centre for many international events. We have just hosted a V8 supercar race event on our city streets and we also hold a large agricultural fieldays ever year. Our major river is the Waikato, which is the longest in New Zealand and runs through the middle of our city.

We have a four term year and our main holidays are in January. Our Christmas day is becoming more informal, away from the traditional English hot meal to bbqs and salads. We live in a small village outside the city, close to the airport. My job is to visit ten schools and to assist teachers in the integration of ICTs into classroom practice.

Kelly said...

I live in Riverton, Utah. Now a suburb of SLC. 20 years ago Riverton was still rural. There is still some farmland around but it is disappearing at an alarming rate. We are part of a large school district that will be splitting in 1 year 10 days. It will be a grand adventure (code words for it is going to suck). Our largest market is still a locally owned venture although we have some chain markets as well. We have few local eating establishments left, the chain food shops have taken control. We have a varied desert climate. Right now in Summer we are hot an getting hotter, within 2° of 100° F yesterday. Yet during the winter we spend most of it below freezing. If you don't like the weather around here don't worry, it will change shortly. I have lived within a 15 mile radius my entire life. I wish things hadn't changed so fast though an would quit changing now.

inpi said...

I live in Cascais - Portugal - a small village by the sea and a few miles from Lisbon, which is the capital.
This location causes a great flux of visitors coming from Lisbon, mainly on weekends, to relax and enjoy the beach or just walk by the sea.
Cascais is also a touristic spot: during summer time - for us it has begun yesterday - Christmas time or Easter Holidays. There is also an important "colony" of British retired couples living here permanently.
The weather is very mild, the sea is not wild at all in Cascais bay, and there are plenty of small restaurants grilling fish outdoors.
Our School year has three trimesters, it has just ended for the students that don't have national examinations. Those who have are studying on their own, anyway, classes are over.
Primary school goes from 6 to 9 years old children; "middle" school goes from 10 to 14; secondary school goes from 15 to 17. After that students enter the University.
Teachers are not on holidays: they must survey the national examinations and meet to grade the students work until July.
In July they begin other kind of work, but this comment is getting too long.
Thank you for this idea of sharing our cultures.
Ines Pinto

Elona Hartjes said...

I live in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Mississauga has a population of about 700 000 people. Very suburban. We've lived here for about 20 years. I live 10 minutes from the high school I teach at. The school is a regional centre for the gifted but also has lots and lots of kids from really poor homes as well. I teach struggling/reluctant learners in my Learning Strategies Class as well as locally developed math class for kids who are really struggling with math.

Mississauga have lots and lots of big box stores, but we also have the Credit River which has wonderful pathways and benches to sit on so that I can watch the sunlight dance on the water. People fish for salmon and other fish as well. It's fun to watch them as they stand in the river with their hip waders. the stretch I like to wlk takes a little over an hour through sun and shade. I love it.

Yes, we get lots and lots of snow. this year we had three snow days where school had to close down, but that's unusual.

It's been fun reading the other comments so far. I'm glad you decided to do this.

angelesb said...

I like your idea and you are right. This is a good way to learn about different places in the world.

I live in Cd. del Carmen, Campeche, México.

The most important fact about the place where I live is that is an island, not so big. It has tropical weather with a lot of humidity. Most of the time the weather is hot and sometimes (like in May) is REALLY hot, more than 40 grades centigrades.

Food here is GREAT. The most popular are Shrimps and seafood in general.

People is sociable and really nice.

We are still in classes at schools but we will finish them soon ( On july 4th)

I think the most visible difference about my school is about the lack of technology but things are changing in this moment.

It's very common that people don't knock the door. They just stay in front of the house and say "Huuuuuuuu" two or three times until someone can attend :-)

People wear casual clothing all the time, sandals, colorful dresses, clear colors, all things related to sea :-)

That's a little bit about my island

Nadine N said...

I live in LaGrange Park, IL, a western suburb of Chicago. My home is about 2 miles from Brookfield Zoo, nearer to Cellular Field, where the White Sox play and farther from Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs. I work about 15 miles away in the South suburbs. I take Chicago for granted so I'm not sure what it's famous for, except great pizza, and great people. My own community is a wonderful place to raise children, with great schools, loads of churches, and an awesome community. We live in a 100 year old farm house, in a neighborhood loaded with Victorian homes and huge trees. The climate is goes from extreme cold - from a few degrees below zero in the winter to over 100 degrees F in the summer. "If you don't like the weather in Chicago, wait a couple of minutes, it'll change" (author unknown)

Willis Whitlock said...

I live in Apple Valley, CA. Located just north of the San Bernardino mountains on the southern edge of the Mojave Desert. Our link to the rest of Southern California is the Cajon Pass which separates the San Bernardino mountains and the San Gabriel mountains. The whole area is known as the High Desert. The elevation averages about 3,500 feet.

The Mojave River runs north out of the mountains then curves east toward the Colorado River, but it sorta dries up somewhere along the way. Besides being one of the few rivers that flow north in the US, the Mojave is unique in that it travels underground for much of its length. Many people think it is dry most of the year, but there are several places where the water is visible year round.

Apple Valley was marketed by land developers post WWII. It vied with Palm Springs as the desert getaway spot for the rich and famous. Several movie stars bought property in the area but the low desert won out. It gets very cold here during winter nights.

Roy Rodgers, the singing cowboy, was one of the famous ones who stayed and contributed to the town. There are still many people here who identify with the western/cowboy theme.

When you go "Down the Hill" that means you're going through the pass into the valleys south of the mountains. Most people here moved for Down the Hill. Most of the local political conflicts are about keeping the older lifestyle. By law, homes cannot be built on a lot smaller than one half acre.

We have recently experienced a business boom. Several national retail chains are building or have just finished building in Apple Valley.

The local school district runs on a modified year round schedule. Starts the beginning of August, two weeks off at the beginning of October, three weeks off at Christmas, two weeks off at Easter and finished the second week of June. Many districts in the area have year round school but no two are alike.

Sometimes it seems we exist to test kids. District benchmark tests are given every quarter in every subject. State tests take up three weeks in April. Administrators feel they have to emphasize test scores in order to survive.

Our demographics are about 35% white, 35% Hispanic 20% black with a healthy dose of Russian, Vietnamese, and Samoan to round out the total.

dstall said...

I am currently living in Gibbon, NE and work in Kearney, NE (20 miles west of Gibbon) all in south central Nebraska along I-80. As you travel along I-80 you might get the impression that NE is very flat. Really, you are traveling through the area where the Platte River covered at one point or another in history. North and South of the Platte River there are many hills. Some hills in the west are sandhills. Gibbon itself has two industries; one meat packing plant and one Norbest turkey plant. the town's population is only about 2000. If you want to eat out, you could go to the American Legion or Sportsman's Bar & Grill OR you go to Kearney. Kearney has everything! Kearney is a college town so it has lots of fast food and chain restaurants.

Schools in the area run on 45 day quarters. There are one or two year-long schools in Kearney. NE has standards and has just ruled to have a state test which has lots of mixed feelings. There are lots of small schools in NE and the legislature would like to have more consolidation happening for financial reasons. We are the 45th or 48th on teacher pay in the nation. If you want to raise a family in a great environment, NE is the place to be. Don't come to try to get rich though!

Around here, "Go Big Red!" is a pretty popular saying! University of Nebraska - Lincoln football team is the highlight of NE news in the fall. It really doesn't matter which sport or event, Nebraskans have a great deal of pride in what we have here in our great state!

Lee said...

I live in Boca Raton, Florida. Boca Raton is on the south eastern part of Florida. We are 5 hours from Key West the southern most point of the U.S., about 2 hours from Miami, 1 hour from Fort Lauderdale and 3 hours from Walt Disney World. If you drive west about 2 hours, you will be on the west coast of Florida, in Naples. Probably most interesting though, is if you drive about an hour north/west, you can stand on the edge of Lake Okeechobee. Lake Okeechobee can be seen from the space shuttle! It is the second-largest freshwater lake within the continental United States, second only to Lake Michigan.

My house is about 30 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. It's nice to go there and have lunch at one of the restaurants and then walk on the shore. The water is usually warm and not very refreshing. It is also not terribly clear and there's lots of seaweed. But you do feel like you're on vacation when you are there, even when you live here.

Our area is very pretty, but like Andrea says, it's very hot and humid. Even in the winter, it can be quite warm in the afternoons. In the summer (like now, for example), you can count on it raining with thunder storms every afternoon, starting around 3pm. Even with all of the rain, hard as it is to believe, we are still experiencing a drought.

We have some very expensive neighborhoods in Boca Raton. According to Forbes, Boca Raton has three of the ten most expensive gated communities in the U.S. We also have some very high end shopping malls with notable designer shops such as Tiffanys, Gucci, etc.

One last notable item, one of our schools here in Palm Beach County, and in Boca Raton is in a building that used to house IBM. Don Estridge High Tech Middle School is the same building where the very first IBM PC was built. My son had the privilege of attending this school and it was an awesome experience for him.

TJ Shay said...

Wow, what an incredible response! Thank you all. I have a post ready for tomorrow that will feature a map of all entries and a map of your area.

If you have come here to respond, please do! I will keep adding people and/or additional posts!

Again, thank you all for participating!

Fannah Heldman said...

I live in Philadelphia, PA! The Mid-Atlantic region has quite normal weather: a taste of everything, all in moderation. Some tiny tornadoes every now and then, diluted hurricanes as rainstorms, and mini-blizzards of up to a foot of snow.

We're the sixth-largest city in the country, with somewhere in between one and two million people. Common nicknames (we don't bother saying "Philadelphia") are Philly, Illadelphia (we're so fly), Killadelphia (high murder rate...), and Filthydelphia (the streets aren't all that clean).

In the summer, everyone goes down the shore - the Jersey shore. The specific beach you goto is determined by where you are from. Wildwood is kind of seedy, whereas Ventnor is a lot nicer.

We're situated in the middle of megalopolis (is that the correct term?), only a couple hours from NYC and DC, and a little further for Boston. Day trips and weekend trips are common, but there's also a lot going on in Philly.

Philly slang: jawn, meaning thing. "Why isn't this jawn working?" or "That jawn was bangin'." There are a lot of Italian-Americans in South Philly, and Russians in the Northeast.

My school is a little slice of web 2.0 heaven. It's small - it'll have 500 when we reach full capacity - and it's 1:1 laptops. Philly has an application process for high school, and there are three levels: neighborhood schools (pretty much all bad), second-level ones (depends), and magnet schools (pretty good). Then there are all the charter schools, of which I know nothing about. There're a lot of them, though.

Philly is where most Quakers settled, so we know what meeting is, and most private schools are Friends schools. Quakers are quite liberal, and that's contributed to Philly's political landscape over the years.

Goodness, I could write an almanac :)