Sunday, August 12, 2012

Trip Down (Painful) Memory Lane

My friends on Facebook have lately seen me posting various screen captures from Google Maps Street View. Perhaps because of my under-utilized (more like UN-utilized) education and training in matters geo-spatial, or just a general interest in geography, I've always been fond of Google Maps. Of late, however, I've had a more vested interest in it.

 A few months ago I was driving my bus down one of College Town's main downtown streets when I was passed by one of the Google Maps Street View cars:

I guess they gave up on trying to be discrete what with the giant mast sticking out of the roof of the car.

I try not to speak to my passengers any more than absolutely necessary, but this event excited me enough to shout it out to those on-board. No one seemed impressed. I doubt that many of our average passengers even have internet access, and if they do, Google Street View probably isn't high on their list of favorite sites.

I wondered if the Google car was recording when it went by me. Since then I have periodically checked the site to see if they had updated the images for the area in which I had seen the car. Finally, recently they did, but neither I or my bus were anywhere to be seen at that particular intersection.

I navigated to the nearby transit center, and one of our drivers was clearly recognizable (to anyone familiar with him) in a parked bus:






This sighting of a co-worker has led me on an on-going cyber-journey along the various bus routes in Butt County to see if I could spot any other my my cohorts. I've spotted a few - a couple of whom I'm pretty sure I recognize, and a couple who are just blurs. One or two of the blurs I thought might be myself, but I think I would have noticed the Google car going by at those locations, much as I did when it didn't photograph me.

I also started visiting other places I frequent, such as my current abode and my place of work. I spotted my car parked at work:

It's the little one in the middle.
Sadly, the images of our current domicile were taken in February - before we moved in. Furthermore, the images of our old house were taken in April, just after we moved out. It felt as though we had fallen into some sort of Google limbo.

Which is sad, for a couple of reasons. First of all, we lived in that house for 11 years. In the old Google Street View image of our house, my son's friend David's car is visible in the driveway. And he had obviously just arrived or was about to depart because the brake lights were on on his car. It was a nice personal little moment in time. Now, nothing. Actually worse than nothing...

Secondly, not long after we moved out, Mrs. Rimpington had business in Former Home Town. She drove past the old house and was shocked to see that the beautiful trees in the front yard had been cut down. We have no idea why this was done. We just hope it was for a very good reason.

The new Google image of the house actually caught the landlords in this act of desecration:

click to enlarge the EVIL!
 It's all there in gory detail: the freshly chopped trees, chainsaw in plain view, the preps laughing over their heinous crime. That's Mr. Former Landlord on the far left and Mrs. Former Landlady on the far right. I don't know who the guy in the red shirt is - probably the driver of the dump truck which is visible in the driveway in other angles. Isn't it amazing that this particular moment was when the the Google car happened to drive by and record it for posterity (or at least until they again update the images)?

So, Google Maps can be fun, but it can also be a little heart breaking.

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