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Впечатления участника программы-2005 Михаила Пальцына

Под катом дневник Михаила Пальцына (НГО "Архар", Горно-Алтайск), участника программы аж 2005 года! Он столько лет скрывал его от общества;))
Удивительно, как близки ощущения участников разных лет! Я читала - прямо вот все как у нас, в 2012, то есть не все, конечно, в деталях отличается - но эмоции те же! Восхитительно!
Действительно, программа - подарок судьбы.

SCGIS Scholar’s Diary

“The Past is history
The Future is miracle
Today is a gift
That is why we call it the Present!”
Notice on the wall
of our Cartography class, ESRI

So, first day in United States July 8th 2005:

I have just came to LAX, California. 13 hours flight from Moscow was pretty tiring, so it is so nice just to get out of Tom Bradley Terminal and breath hot tropical air of California. I am waiting for Sasha Yumakaev. This guy promised to pick me up at the airport, so no worries...
I met more guys who came for SCGIS conference and scholarship program. My God, they came from all other the World: Kenya, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Columbia, Peru, Russia, Hungary, Poland, India... Sorry, guys, I am tired of typing the country names, it is much easier to tell what countries did not come to LAX on July 7th-12th. Yes, this small boy from Russia (Sasha) has done a great work to bring all us international scholars here in Southern California. We all should ask Jack to increase his salary, definitely! Thank you very much, Sasha!

At last we met Sasha and three of us me, Csaba and Anna had no place in the truck. So we have to take SuperShuttle to Redlands. I can't believe Anna this girl from cold Russia she is cold in California! I have to give her my jacket to warm here a little bit... We came to Sasha’s apartments on Pine Street, drink a little bit of Vodka and fell asleep... Can't remember anything else on this day.... Sleep, sleep, sleep....

July 9th 2005

Get up at seven o'clock. Nice morning promised to turn out in hot day not only because of sun... Today I help Sasha to meet International scholars at LAX and bring them to Redlands... Today we had two drives to LAX and back to Redlands and met more guys from different parts of the planet... Only people from Antarctica did not come, sorry... First time in my life I visited ESRI headquarters in Redlands. Unbelievable, GIS Mecca quite near the place where I am staying!!

July 10th 2005

Today Sasha, Hanna and other guys from ESRI are brining one of our group to James Reserve. But first we have a meeting at Charles house. People, backpacks, sleeping bags, English mixed with Russian, Spanish… One girl asks me “Where is Russia?”. Unbelievable! I don’t know what to say… Try to explain that it is one of the largest countries in the World. It helps! “Oh, yes, I know this country – Rusia!” she is laughing. In Spanish Russia sounds a little bit different…

Then we have 40 minutes drive to James's. Nice place in the Bernardino Mountains really! Mike Hamilton, director of the Reserve, is very kind person, he treats us very well! We have nice excursion in the forest, which has not remembered wildfire for 200-300 years. Very dry place, I can't believe they have a lot of rains here in wintertime. I was really impressed by Mike's sensors and cameras, which cover nearly all territory of the Reserve. All the forest is bugged with sensors, measuring temperature, humidity, wind and other stuff... Great work!
We have a chance to see the biggest ponderosa pine in California, really huge tree. Now I can understand why sky does not fall on the earth - giant trees prop it like huge columns!

Charles put me in charge of our group. Sasha provided me with a lot of instructions and I feel heavy weight of responsibility! But people in our group are so nice and helpful, that they just shared this weight with me. So nice, I appreciate it.... I should mention, guys, that James Reserve is a birthplace of SCGIS!!!! So we are in historical place again... Excellent dinner made by Sue... Guys from South America and Cosmas, cheetah researcher from Kenya, are dancing hot Latino dances! Can't believe I am here at SCGIS meeting...

July 11th 2005

We started our classes on Introduction to ArcGIS with Travis Saladino, ESRI software analyst. He teaches us really interesting and useful things, which are quite necessary for our conservation work all round the world. Also I can pick up great experience on GIS teaching, which will be very valuable for me in Russia. Guys are working hard on exercises, everybody is pretty busy! Also we have chance to learn more about the work our scholars are doing all round the world: Cosmas makes a pretty nice stuff with GIS to protect cheetah in Africa, Kail works a lot with local tribes in jungles of Philippines mapping communities; Claudia, Miss Argentina, study endangered Andean cat and puma in highlands of Andes; Nandita, pretty girl from India, use GIS to study forest fires in Bangalore; other guys are involved in forest conservation and protected areas design. Everybody is doing really important work for future of our planet... Thank you, Travis, for teaching us! Good work to enhance our conservation abilities with such a powerful tool as GIS...

After the training we have good hike and explore trails of James Reserve... Claudia is looking for puma tracks, but finds only coyote’s... Probably not right time for puma yet..

July 12th 2005

Guys are impressed by technical abilities of ArcGIS. It is the whole world of high level technology, huge sets of different tools! It seems you can turn the whole planet with ArcGIS (we are working with different projections). We ask many questions and Travis is so kind to answer all of them. He definitely knows everything about ArcGIS! After lunch (I should say it was enough to feed a small army) we go on with editing tools and get into the world of lines, points and polygons, which are the organs of our digital maps... Editing tools make our work to change the World to better more productive... Yes, when I come back to my work on endangered species in Central Asia I will have a lot of new knowledge to share with my partners in Siberia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. I am sure everybody in our classroom thinks same.

At the end of the classes we hike in the mountains. No puma tracks again... Hey, in local Idyllwild paper they say that California has pretty big population of these wild cats! Can see no one... Sorry, I have seen one in Claudia's pictures taken in Argentina... I am starting to learn Spanish... Hola, amigos! Nice language, good teacher... Mike shows us his new camera watching growth of moss on the big rock. But the place is so dry that I can't believe that moss can grow... No way.. I asked Mike about this stuff and he answered that this camera has not registered any growth for last two years or so... Not surprising! Sleeps like a baby...

July 13th 2005

Buenos dias! Morning starts with good breakfast, Sue cooked it great! First day she allowed us to prepare breakfast by ourselves and we did it all right! Cleaned the kitchen from dirty dishes and left refrigerator empty. So, after this first breakfast Sue was so impressed by our cooking and eating abilities that she locked all the chests with a stick tape and every door was provided with a notice DO NOT OPEN, PLEASE!!!!! No problem... Entrance to the kitchen is blocked by huge ice chest. But we are still happy!

Classes start at 8:30, folks send their morning e-mails. OK, we are ready to work again. Travis gives us new stuff on label and annotations. It is really important if you want your maps to look great. People should understand them easily; otherwise they did not get your ideas. It is especially important when you are looking for funding for your conservation projects. This magic ArcGIS can do everything you can imagine, really! Then we go on with map design. It is very hot day and Travis let us to listen to Latino music during the exercises. It makes our life much better... Cesar, El Capitan from Bolivia, can always find good music for us, can't he, guys?

Today is very hot day. At last we finish our GIS exercises, no more computers for me today! Vamos a la montana! Some of us go to Idyllwild with Mike, others go to explore the Reserve’s trails. Unbelievable but some people are still sitting at their computers browsing Web!! Crazy! I would better hike in the mountains and see the country. We can’t see puma again, but Kail sees a small brown bird and a lizard. Not bad… Tonight Mike makes good presentations for us and tells how he came to the idea to fill James Reserve with sensors and cameras. Some of them can substitute real meteorological station and can monitor huge number of parameters of environment! But it is not enough for Mike, now this guy is going to cover with sensors all US territory!!! He also dreams to install this stuff all round the globe! No limits…

July 14th 2005

As usually morning begins with Internet! All our guys has just got up and first of all they come to their computers and check e-mails… It is tradition; we cannot survive without Web and need it like water or air, really… It seems food is of lower importance for us… Today we start next course Introduction to ArcGIS II and Travis gives us more knowledge on layers and symbology. ArcGIS provides you, guys, with all advantages to symbolize your data! You can create your own symbols or use huge collections of ready-for-use symbols for points, lines and polygons. You are able to choose the most exotic colors for your maps and make it more colorful than flower bed or tropical bird. But you should be careful with all this diverse stuff or you will make an artist or painter but not GIS analyst. We want people to read our maps easily, don’t we? So, we should not shock them with fantastic colors and symbols. I know it is not easy…

Hot day again. No more classes after 5 pm, guys are tired and overloaded with new GIS knowledge. Thank you, Travis, but no more GIS for today, please… Wild trails of James Reserve are waiting for us! Vamos, vamos! Today we hike up to Four Saints peak just above our lodge. It is a great place with four big rocks at the top. Nice view on Golden California valley, but no puma’s tracks… Also from the top of the mountain we can see Mike’s house with a roof covered with solar panels. I wonder if Mike has a special camera watching Four Saints… Probably, not. I learn one expression in Swahili tonight – LALA SALAMO (sounds like this, guys!). It means “good night”!

July 15th 2005

This morning before classes I show Altai Mountains to Kail. It is quite easy to do with Google Globe. We fly above the planet from California to Siberia via North Pole. Ok, now we are on the other side of the planet and get to Central Asia were Russia, Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan get together. We move above wonderful Teletskoe Lake – the largest lake in Altai Mountains and then turn southward to Belukha Mountain – the highest peak of Siberia. Now we just near the peak and see wild and steep mountain chains of Katunsky and Chuysky Ridges – one of the last shelters of snow leopard in Siberia. Fly above glaciers of Belukha and turn eastward to argali country in Western Mongolia. Nice trip…

Today we modify ArcGIS interface. It is not difficult at all, you can add or remove new tools in Arc Map, change their location, create new menus. Nice stuff which helps you to customize your applications. Later we go on with Geodatabase design. Geodatabase is rather new format for data provided by ESRI. Looks like a can, container or garbage bin where you can store all your data. It helps you to manage and analyze your data sets and provide you with a tool to set behavior for features in your layers. It looks good for me and I think about converting my Altai argali and snow leopard databases to Geodatabase.

Claudia shows us her map of Andian cat distribution in South America. This nice wild cat dwells only high in the mountains of Ands and it is endangered. Clau and her partners in Argentina work a lot to study and protect this species. It turns out that local people in Ands often kill this nice cat to make mummies to protect their families and houses from evil spirits… It is interesting, but in some regions of Altai-Sayan we have opposite believing – local herders escape to kill snow leopards because they believe that evil spirit of this wild cat will revenge the killer and murder all his family…

Thanks God it is Friday!!! At last we stop our lessons and Travis gives us ESRI certificates! OK, work is done! Our brains need rest and beer! Travis volunteers to buy it! He is really great guy! QUIERO UNA CERVEZA! LALA SALAMO! “Not yet, it is too early” – Cosmas replies. Of course he is right! Cosmas invites all of us to visit Kenya. It is interesting that great majority of cheeth’s cabs are killed by lions… Can you imagine it?
We have excellent time and a lot of fun… I’d better stop here, guys. Buenos noches!

July 16th 2005

Nice day, no classes! We have breakfast and clean our lodge. Everybody wants to participate in cleaning. It is no need to ask our guys to do something. I enjoy to be in charge such a nice group of people from all around the world. Claudia, Chaba and Cosmas struggle with vacuum cleaner upstairs; Rizal and Kail clean bathrooms; Farai “small guy from Zimbabwe” polishes mirrors and sinks; Gaim, Cezar and Tatyana clean tables in the classroom; Nandita is in the kitchen washing dishes… Sorry, guys, I can’t remember everybody! Only I do nothing… All the work was done in half an hour. Well done!

Tonight we are going to have a party with all our international scholars and American friends. At 12 pm people start coming from Redlands. Soon we have about 60 people at our lodge in James Reserve! Before the party all of us including guys from Redlands hike up to Four Saints. Day is pretty hot and trail is rather steep… “Probably, it is not too late to turn back… Sorry, guys, I am from flat country” – of course small guy from Zimbabwe is joking. Everybody is pretty tired but nobody wants to turn back. Vamos, vamos!! At last we all get to Four Saints exhausted but still alive. Sasha, his wife Vika and Mike Hamilton were waiting for us at the top. Good time!

Party starts at 7 pm. Mike makes Margaritas cocktails, our guys drink beer and wine. Everybody has fun! Sasha is very serious, he goes forth and back, counts guys, sleeping bags, mattresses, tents and so on. No fun for him yet!
At the party we have a lot of pretty girls from South America, and of course they can’t live without Latino dancing. I should mention that music and dancing is more important for them than computers, GIS and Web!! I know you, guys, do not believe me, because you have never seen Latino dancing and crazy Latino girls. I learn more Spanish words: LA LUNA, QUIERO ON VINO, CHICA LINDA and CHICA SIMPATICA… Also I learn to dance SALSA! It is great experience! Everybody is dancing; Cosmas, this Kenyan guy, is not only dancing but singing: “I AM BAD, BAD, REALLY BAD!!!!” Fun! Charles Convis and Marisa take pictures…
OK, later I learn to drink TAQUILA, take four shots… Sorry, can’t remember anything else on this night….

July 17th 2005

Today is Sunday. We need good rest after party and dancing last night… Also we have to go back to Redlands this afternoon, other guys will stay in James Reserve for one more week. Sad time for many of us to leave our new friends… See you, guys, in a week in Redlands. Cheer up!

We stay at the Student Apartments of the University of Redlands. Some of us struggle with shower trying to turn it on… No way… Cosmas and me try everything but without a result. Later Abe show us how to turn this shower on in tricky way. Good place, day is very quiet and I go to bed earlier. Tomorrow we will have more GIS classes.

July 18th 2005

Classes start at 8:30, so we have our breakfast at 7:30. It is pretty cool in our classroom, but very hot outside. Anna, a young girl from Russia, can not warm herself. She really needs jacket, wool socks, scuff and fur hat in the classroom! Jamie our instructor leads us into the world of Geodatabase and we begin to understand different feature classes, feature data sets, relationship, topology, subtypes and domains. Pretty useful stuff if you are working with different databases on endangered species, monitoring and conservation. I am going to apply Geodatabase for my data on snow leopard and Altai argali in Altai-Sayan Ecoregion. Having all these data in the Geodatabase will help to distribute them among conservationists in South Siberia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia involved in endangered species project.

We send e-mails to our friends in James Reserve. They are doing fine, but miss us a lot… And we miss them… Claudia send me many pictures of wild cats, this Chica de Argentina is really crazy about cats. She puts radio collars on pumas and wild Andean cats and traces all this wild stuff with radio receiver in hot and extremely dry pampas. Now she is going to model habitats of all Argentinean cat species with GIS and taking Spatial Analyst course in James Reserve. Kail in her message asks me to take care about Big Kenyan Guy (Cosmas) and Small Guy From Zimbabwe (Farai). No problem, next morning I will wake them up at 6 am!

Nothing interesting happens tonight. I try to finish my poster for ESRI Conference.

July 19th 2005

Nice day. We sink in topology!! Help, help! Study topology rules, editing, validation, errors. Now I know pretty well what “dirty areas” really mean. Hey, guys, it is not just mess in your kitchen room! Anyway I wish you to have less “dirty areas” in your layers and in your life as well! Do not forget to validate topology and remove errors sometimes, please…

After classes I have nice meeting with my old friends Sasha, Rankin and Prashant. We drink good Downtown Brown beer and eat 16” pizza. Then Sasha and Rankin buy 60 cans of beer for us scholars and we have good party outside our apartments. Good time, but no dancing… Cosmas and me finish last two cans. I see dreams about Kenya and cheetahs, Andes and pumas…

July 20th 2005

We are doing pretty well! Have Advanced Analysis with ArcGIS course and build spatial models with Model Builder. It is really good experience for me, because I deal a lot with spatial modeling of argali winter habitats, density models for ibex and other ungulates in Altai-Sayan. Model Builder helps you to create complicated models involving many spatial layers and factors. This tool is very helpful if you want to understand and see distribution of species in large area where you can not explore every mountain and canyon. Nice stuff! But at the end of the classes my brain is half dead…
Vamos a la pileta (swimming pool in Spanish)! We swim a lot in the pool reviving and cooling our tired brains… I enjoy swimming. Tonight we all have meeting at Charles’s house, set up laptops, write our diaries and drink light beer… Night is very warm… Probably, night is the best time in California…Yeah?

July 21st 2005

Today we deal a lot with Spatial Statistics and Suitability Analysis. Spatial Statistics helps you to understand your data, find correlations between different layers, discover trends and do many other very important things to find correct parameters for your modeling or analysis… Suitability analysis, for example, can show you the best habitats of snow leopard in your study area or find best place for your new research station. Both tools are very valuable for conservationists. OK, today we finish with Spatial Analysis and have no classes for tomorrow. Thank you, Jamie!

I spend two hours in swimming pool reviving brains. It helps a lot! At 7:30 pm we have seminar on spatial models leaded by Kevin Johnston. He shows us different models of winter deer distributions built with Spatial Analyst and tells more about modeling of animal movements. This guy is really interesting! Recently he began to create model of puma’s movement with methods of agent-based analysis. It is brand new technology in GIS. Probably we can apply this method in our work… It would be nice to build agent-based model for snow leopard in Altai or Andean cat in Argentina… OK, we will see…

July 22nd 2005

Today is Friday! No classes! Good news: our Argentinean friends – Julian and Claudia are coming to Redlands tonight! Hanna invites us to dance Latino at the Vault from 9pm until 2 am! We have good party and come back to student apartments at 3 am. Eat pizza and fall asleep…

July 23rd 2005

Hola, amigos! Today is much cooler, sky is covered with clouds. Wake up at 7 am. We (Jorgelina, Nandita, Abe, Patric and me) are going to visit California desert and drive to Joshua Tree National Park. Nice drive… All valleys along the highway are occupied by wind generators, producing electric power for several cities. Fantastic picture! Soon we turn north to Yucca City and drive through real desert with sand, cactuses and Joshua trees. At last we are in the National Park among high red cliffs and last wild desert of California. Spend about 2 hours in the desert. I try to spot bighorns those live in local mountains, but can find nothing… We came back to Redlands at 4 pm, buy food for party at Charles’s house. Can you see we have party again?! Sweet living… I cook traditional Siberian meal - potato pancakes in Betsy’s kitchen room. Nice smell of fried potato spread around, our guys get to the kitchen and start to grab hot potato pancakes directly form my frying pan. Everybody is hungry! Now I have two more persons to peal potato and help me with cooking… So, in two hours we get pretty nice heap of fresh and hot pancakes. Nandita makes chicken in Indian style… It is really delicious! Party starts at 7 pm and yard of Charles house is crowded with people. Musica Latino! Vamos a la fiesta!!! Crazy dancers jump with beer cans on their heads! I wonder how many parties every night I can survive???? Carambo!

July 24th 2005

Wake up at 9 am… Today we relax after last party and soak in the swimming pool… Prepare our presentations for ESRI conference. Drink hot mate with my Argentinean friends.

July 25th 2005

All of us wake up at 4 am. We pack all our stuff and wait for a bus which will bring us to San Diego for ESRI International Conference. The bus should be at the student apartments at 5 am as Sasha told us, but we wait for it until 6. Where is the bus?! It takes us about three hours to get to San Diego due to intensive traffic, but we just in time to attend Jack Dangermond’s plenary talk at Convention Center. About 12 thousand people from all over the World came to attend Jack’s presentation on ESRI activities and achievements. It is really interesting and exiting! Moreover, Jack tells about conservation activities supported by ESRI in the world and shows many good pictures taken in different countries. One of the pictures shoes our work in Altai-Sayan Mountains: a bearded man is sitting among wild snowcapped peaks of Chuisky Ridge and mapping snow leopard sightings with a map made and printed with ArcGIS by ESRI!!!!

Later all of us International Scholars get together at Conservation Hall and put our posters on the walls and stands. In two or three hours all possible places are occupied with maps from different continents and countries. It looks great!

We live in Quality Hotel not far from Convention Center. Tonight I finish my presentation for the conference. Sleep in one bed with snoring Prashant… He is real Snoring Leopard!

July 26th 2005

We start to present our conservation work with GIS at 10 am. I am first presenter in the list and tell about our Altai argali project in Russia and Mongolia. Today is Eurasian day and we have a lot of nice presentations of our scholars from Russia, Poland, Hungary, Nepal, India, Indonesia, Philippines and other countries. We travel with our presenters across Eurasia from cold argali hills of Mongolia to last virgin forests of Russian Far East, when come back to landscapes and endangered species of Central Europe and continue with jungles and indigenous tribes of South-Eastern Asia. All our guys are doing great work with GIS by ESRI to protect our World and save its biodiversity!

Presentations finish at 5 pm, we go to the Map Gallery to see excellent maps and drink beer! We have a chance to take a picture of all international scholars with Jack Dangermond in the Gallery! Tonight I prepare my next presentation on snow leopard in Altai-Sayan.

July 27th 2005

Today I have 30 minutes slot for my presentation on snow leopard conservation in Altai-Sayan and GIS. It is great to have enough time for presenting your work! One of the main goals of our presentations is not just tell about our activities but attract people attention to our projects and find new partners and supporters. That is why we are interested in large audience and enough time! Also today I have a chance to visit a very interesting session devoted to Agent Based Modeling – brand new approach in GIS, which helps you to model individual’s movement and behavior in the environment. For example, this approach can be used to study cougar or snow leopard movements and interactions in mountain country.

This afternoon I met my old friend Mike from Montana. We used to work together on Conservation GIS seminars in Russia in 1998-2002. We go to a bar in San Diego Downtown and drink beer and have fun. Good night with dancing at Jimmy Love’s bar!! No more presentations for me tomorrow…

July 28th 2005

This morning and afternoon we have presentations about conservation activities in Africa and South America. I moderate South American session. Nice presentations devoted to Andean cat in Argentina, last stands of tropical forest in Brazil, watersheds in Columbia and Peru, marine national park in Mexico and so on. We finish with the presentations at 12 pm and have time to visit more sessions and workshops.

All conference participants take part in the Heart of Africa party in Embarcadero area behind the Convention Center. Night is full of African music and dancing. We enjoy ESRI music band and play with huge balls, jumping in the crowd!! Later we have more dancing and beer at Jimmy Love’s bar… “LET’S GET TOGETHER AND FEEL ALL RIGHT!” ESRI conference is over…

July 29th 2005

Come back to Redlands by bus. We stay at the University Student Apartments and go swimming in the pool. Small party again: tomorrow morning Jorgelina is leaving for England, other folks are going to Asilomar for SCGIS Conference… Night is very warm and quiet… California is sleeping under starry sky…

July 30th 2005

Get up at 7 am, have good breakfast, pack all my stuff… So, in an hour I am ready to go to Asilomar. All of us get outside and wait for vans. Folks are joking and laughing… Some of us still have problems with English… For example, you may ask a girl a question like “Do you have a chewing gum?” and get following answer: “No, I am free and independent!!!” ???? Nice answer, isn’t it? At last we pack all our bags and backpacks in the vans, take our seats and have 8-9 hour drive to Asilomar. Drive is terrific, part of our route goes along the sea… Asilomar is a small and very nice place among sand dunes on the coast of Pacific Ocean. It is pretty cool and foggy here. Big ocean waves rush on the sand beach and wild cliffs. Seaweeds and seagulls are scattered on the beach. I found a pretty good seaweed – very long, cold and wet – and decided to put it in Julian’s bed this night. Nice joke, isn’t it? Can you imagine Julian’s face when he discover this cold snake-like creature under his blanket?! We laugh a lot…

Tomorrow morning SCGIS conference starts. I prepare my last presentation on argali and snow leopard…

July 31st 2005

Pretty cold and foggy morning… Good change for us after hot and dry climate of Southern California. Day is full of presentations and work. After sessions we go to the beach and swim in the ocean. Water is pretty cool, but anyway we jump a little in big waves and can feel great power of ancient Pacific… Unlimited space of water, cradle of life on the Earth, huge living thing breathing slowly and powerfully…. Ocean… Al mar…

August 1st 2005

Second day of SCGIS conference. Morning is quiet and foggy, but very nice. Good time to visit great Pacific session. We go to the coast and find good place on the wild cliffs where we can see the best presentations in the World moderated by Ocean. First presenter is Sea Otter swinging on the waves and breaking shells with a stone. Sea Otter tells us a lot about his sweet living in the sea and ocean freedom. He really looks happy! Next presentation is made by two seals sleeping on the cliffs among ocean waves. After that they teach us to swim and dive easily in the sea. Now we can understand what a pleasure it is to be a seal and spend all your life in the water! Ocean is great moderator, he gives all the presenters unlimited time to tell about their lives and happiness. We spend two hours on the coast.

Today I moderate one of the last sessions of SCGIS conference. At last we finish at 5 pm, everybody is pretty tired but full of new impressions and plans. I swim in the ocean again… Tonight we have nice party at the fire and an auction…

August 2nd 2005

We visit Sea Aquarium in Monterey. It is really great to see different ocean creatures and their quiet movement in the water. Huge tunas, slim sharks, quick barracudas are dancing in dark water and move so easily… It is really touching… I begin to sing: “El Tiburon, el Tiburon…” (it means ‘shark’ in Spanish). These fish makes all of us very hungry… Rankin and Julian are leaving for Montana.
Come back to Redlands late at night. I sleep in Sasha’s apartments.

August 3rd 2005

Today we start one more course “Cartography with ArcGIS” at ESRI headquarters. Our instructor Makram is cartographer and he tells us a lot about general rules of cartographic design and “useful” maps. You know, guys, your map can be beautiful but not useful at all. But from the other hand useful map often looks beautiful. So we all agree that this course by Makram is very important for our work. Good GIS specialist should not only make good spatial analysis, he also must show the results of the analysis clearly. We learn more about visual balance, labeling, symbology, legend, scale bar and so on and so forth...

Tonight we have last party. Our international scholars, our friends continue to leave for their countries and we miss all them a lot. This night two more guys are leaving for South America. We go to the bar and drink beer, eat pizza… We are happy and sad at the same time… Yeap, we are happy to come back to our homes and families, but we are sad to leave new good friends… We do hope to see each other again. You know, guys, it is so small world! We had really great time together here in California! It was time of life for many of us! We enhanced considerably our GIS skills, took part in two conferences, saw many interesting places, met smart and nice people, had fun in beautiful California nights and we made great friends! We learned to live now and be happy today, in the moment between the Past and the Future. It is the Present of Life!!!

August 14th 2005
Yilu, Altai Republic, Russia

Mikhail Paltsyn