how to make an atlas: templates

I’m starting my thesis project! Where I intend to create an atlas about how the design and planning of our urban and regional areas have made us attuned to not cooking. During this atlas project, I’ll be making a series of maps of San Francisco and the world.

An atlas a trickier than a single map. I have to keep a consistent scale, art board size and attention to each map. The scales have to be consistent, otherwise it the map may accidentally make some places look larger than others. The consistency stays within the SF maps and global maps. If I choose to do singular districts, then I will adjust the scale for that. If some maps had larger art boards, they may appear to be more important, when hat isn’t the case. Additionally, given that this is an atlas of static maps, the maps will need to fit together in a the same booklet. Attention. Making a map is a lot of work. Making a lot of maps can be overwhelming and taxing. Each map has to given the same amount of attention to detail, or you could end up with some pretty maps and some ugly maps. Not only will sloppiness make a map look unaesthetic, but it will also derail your argument. The prettier maps will look more important, while in reality, the point of an atlas is to show multi-spaced connections.

I’m going to approach this with a seemingly simple solution: making a template. The template will be on Adobe Illustrator and layered specifically. A neatline will be necessary to carry over to new maps. And so my work begins…


a growing draft

  • City Planning
    • Introduction
      • Brief overview of city planning
        • Why do we have this?
        • What forms does this come in?
      • How has food been considered in city planning? Has it?
      • How has urban living transformed our interaction with food?
        • From cradle to car
      • Thesis:
    • Topic One: The City
      • MAP: What does a city look like?
        • SF
      • Where are the people? Where is the food? Is food accessible?
      • Solutions to redesigning a city
        • Dealing with Space: parks, walls & roofs
          • Sustainable landscape architecture
        • How do People Eat?
          • Where is this food coming from? Is there a way we can design the city so they get it from the city & not from wherever the city got it?
        • Stop designing for the car
    • Topic Two: The Suburb
      • MAP: What does a suburb look like?
        • The Grid
        • San Ramon?
        • What are the plots of land? Is land/commons freely available?
      • Solutions to redesigning
        • Know Your Neighbours: raising a village
        • The Plants of Playgrounds: starting with children
        • Group Gardens
    • Conclusion
      • Restate thesis
      • Call to Action, immediate benefit & other ways to contribute
        • Grow your own garden
        • Teach your kids how to cook


If it isn’t obvious, I’m awful at this whole “post once a day” and I certainly lack the tenacity to be self-reflective daily. I think about this blog every day, especially the days that I don’t post. I’m no saint though, I have also succumbed to watching a season of House of Cards and cooking a majority of my dinners to take up most of my time. But I do at least try to think of something new to post, to synthesise, to teach perhaps; yet again and again, I am at a lost. But in these moments of absence, I have been learning at least something. What exactly, I will draw out in latter posts.

I have, however, been able to think about my geography thesis. And I really do mean think about it. I’ve got a premise, a history, a literal vision, an idea, a developing thesis and, most of all, a great support system for its progression. I’ll write something of an skeletal outline later today–promise.

computer science: environments

All material and examples comes from UC Berkeley. Synthesis & inaccuracy is fault of my own, not that of UC Berkeley’s EECS Department. Note that I have not formally taken a CS class, rather do self synthesis. These posts are more so for me to explain it out in a way that I have come to understand and can referrence to later on rather than trying to make it a tutorial.

Computer science programs operate in different series of interrelated environments, which is a mapping from names to values. Global is the encompassing environment frame. Global is often referred to as Parent as well. Subexpressions are evaluated in expressions within its environment. Once evaluated, calls to user-defined functions must evaluate the expressions and statements from the definition of those functions.

If you had code that read:

from operator import mul

def square(x):

return mul(x,x)

x = – 2

Your global would be: mul, square, x

Your expression evaluation would be: square(mul(x,x))

Replace x with -s, so square(mul(-2,-2))

square(-2 * -2)




I’ve been trying to tackle various coding projects and ways to learn and I’ve been overwhelmed by everything. So here’s to a new system! I’ve discovered how useful and patient Berkeley’s resources are for an online self-learner. So here’s a rough outline of my summer learning list–which may or (much more likely) will not get completed. But you can’t complete goals if you don’t have any in the first place.

  • Coding
    • CS61A
    • CS61B
    • Eloquent JavaScript
  • Thesis
    • Outline plans for American Studies & Geography Thesis’s
    • Begin research
    • Outline essays

javascript: javascripting

I finished this program the other day from nodeschool that teaches you the basics of JavaScript. The very first one ‘javacripting’s is great for ultimate beginners. If you know nothing of code, this is a good way to delve into a test-driven method for learning JavaScript. If you already know the basics of coding, you’ll find this a breeze. All the same, it’s a good way to learn JavaScript syntax. If you’re totally new to coding and want to check this out, here’s a simpler step-by-step for you.


What you’ll need:

  • Terminal open (Finder>All Applications>Terminal)
  • A text editor (I use Sublime)
  • Download this (which makes nodeschool work)
  • The ‘javascripting’ will redirect you to this GitHub, but if GitHub makes you auto-delete the tab and give up on the spot, do not worry
    • type this into your terminal:
    • npm install --global javascripting
    • then type ‘javascripting’ into your terminal and run it

Getting Started

For orgizational purposes, it’s suggested you make a new directory for these exercises. Let’s call it: javascripting. To do this from you terminal type the following:

  • mkdir javascripting, hit enter (make a directory called javascripting)
  • cd javascripting, hit enter (changes your directory to javascripting, meaning that you are working and creating in this directory from the terminal; so when you save your programs from the text editor, make sure that they’re being saved into this folder)

The First Program

The first program has you print out ‘hello’ from your text editor to your terminal– sounds totally crazy. The code has been given to you // console.log(‘hello); // . Then save this file (into your javascripting folder!) as something simple, like javascripting.js. The .js is super important so that your text editor knows it’s running a JavaScript file. You should also get some pretty cool colours in your text editor! Once you’re all saved, type //javascripting verify javascripting.js // into your terminal and press enter. You’ve finished the first program!


This was a very brief introduction to a nodeschool program and how to set everything up, in case you’re one who feels discouraged just at the sight of GitHub or perhaps didn’t know what the terminal was. Well, now you do! I’ll get more into other node schools later and explain more thoroughly just what the code is actually doing, aside from syntax.


finals are over

After a long and much needed break for and also of studying and final examinations, I am ready to post again daily. I will focus on maps when I have the available technology and datum. But I will also be going through various JavaScript tutorials, more or less. Returning fully tomorrow. Best.

physical geography: chemical weathering

Weathering is this crazy concept that makes things change. We already went over some basics of physical weathering, now let’s review chemical weathering, which involves compositional changes or dissolution. Thus, the pH is the crucial factor here. Simplified, pH is the concentration of H+ ions. Most of what is going to be weathered chemically are metal cations, Silicates, Carbonates, etc. Chemical weathering primarily happens in the following three processes:

  • Acid Attacks
  • Oxidation
  • Chelation

Acid Attacks

Acid attacks involve water and acidity to act upon the soon-to-be weathered material (eg rock). Foremost, acidity is mostly generated via biota. Plants and animals release a lot of CO2 into the ground. This happens because plants breakdown animals as they decompose, which releases a lot of CO2. The climate connection here is that with greater tropical climates and flora/fauna, the greater the soil’s acidity. There are a few types of acid attacks. Solution is essentially dissolving (think salt into water, sugar into coffee, etc). This is mostly important for carbonate rocks, as their solubilities change with pH. Hydrolysis is the replacement of H+ ions with other metal cations. Cations have a positive charge, making them easy to substitute H+ ions. However, this greatly weakens rocks structure. It turns silicates (granite, basalts, etc) into clays. As a byproduct, it also releases OH. Carbonation mixes water with carbon dioxide to make carbonic acid. Fundamentally, that is the release of metal cations and HCO3- (bicarbonate). It converts silicates to clays and also dissolves the carbonate. This process is important in the formation of caves.


This occurs via dissolved oxygen in water. This reaction with oxygen causes the cation to give up an electron to oxygen. In example, Fe+2 –> Fe+3 as it bonds with oxygen. The product of this is that oxide minerals are formed. A common oxidation is rusting. For rocks, clays are also produces with oxides.

Oxidation potential is measured in Eh. Eh = log{oxidants/reductants}. Simplified, this is a measure of the prevalence of O2.


Organic chemistry allows a large and complex range of decomposing reactions to take place. These chelation agents are organic compounds that do the job. They form ring-like structures around the metal ion in order to make it soluble. These agents come from leaf litter and other organic compounds.This make the metal ions soluble. The metal ions are carried away from the upper soil.

physical geography: physical weathering

Physical weathering is the mechanical breakdown of a material (broadly rock in this example) that fractures the material for natural pulverisation. Physical weathering makes a good catalyst for chemical weathering as well. There are a number of ways that material can be weathered in this way.

  • Ice Wedging
  • Ice Lens Growth
  • Expansion & Contraction
  • Exfoliation
  • Biological Activity

Ice Wedging

Imagine you have a rock that has a few cracks in it, but it’s still solidly your rock! But you left your rock out in the cold, cold winter. Rain dropped onto your rock and found itself deep in the cracks. As the night progressed and the temperature dropped, the ice froze. Ice takes up more volume that water, so it pushed outwards against the cracks’ walls. Although this function isn’t initially catastrophic to the rock, it further weakens the material and increases its susceptibility to other weathering events.

Ice Lens Growth

Let’s say underneath your lawn there’s ice. This ice is surrounded by low pressure water because the ice pieces and rock are repulsive of each other. This low water film attracts more water, which grow the ice shards. This outwards pushing fractures your lawn. You should probably consider moving if this process continues!

Expansion & Contraction

This is a daily process, but it’s also intensified with large fires and snow storms. This is a volume change in the material. This process is dependant on wetting , drying and temperature.


So you have a rock that’s buried deep below the regolith, bedrock, etc. On all sides of the rock, there is a strong pressure that densifies this by pushing it inwards strongly. With a long series of erosion, the regolith and bedrock have disappeared, but now that rock is beginning to surface. However, the intense central push inward is no longer being applied to the top, so it expands upwards. This, in turn, fractures rock.

Biological Activity

Things like animal burrows and plant roots cause hillslope hollowing. This loosens the regolith mantle.

Next will be chemical weathering.


physical geography: “landslides”

So I’m deeply interested in what we call “natural” “disasters.” I could spend a whole blog post explaining why I quoted these words (in fact, that’s going to be an entire thesis of mine! Stay tuned!). But let me just explain a few things about “landslides.”

Landslides is a very general term, but has a much deeper meaning in the world of geomorphology (tldr, basically how the earth’s landforms work). We have a few different types of ways that land material fails, but which are all umbrella-termed “landslides.” All of these processes are different in their mechanisms, processes and impacts. They all share basic characteristics that when stress exceeds the strength of the regolith or bedrock underneath, something has go to give.

  • Debris Flows
  • Rockfall
  • Rockslides
  • Slumps
  • Earth Flows
  • Sapping/Undercutting

Debris Flows

Think of a giant mess of mud, rock, vegetation traveling at a great distance at a high speed– or don’t because that’s kinda terrifying, right? Now that kinda sounds like some landslide-avalanche hybrid. Honestly, that’s not a bad way to think about it. Debris flows happen on steep rocky terrain. They happen because a channel was incised too much, so it left deposits that eventually turned depression. Debris flows can turn into debris flow fans– incredible. These are essentially debris flows coming out in different directions but from the same source.


These are triggered by earthquakes, snow melt, even mountain goats. These mechanisms dislodge rocks, which when falling, dislodge more rocks. The damage is determined by the source of stress and the size of the material dislodged. An example in the US is McGee Pass.


This occurs when bedrock fails on a surface and forms a tongue-deposit. Some examples on regolith-mantled slope include Mt. Cook and Mt. Rainier (Emmon’s Glacier). But on a planar slope with bedding and jointing at an angle, the Himalayas also experience this.


Imagine a mass amount of land just slumping downwards– but like in a hundred years. Stronger rock masses maintain steeper slopes, and weaker bedrock masses tend to be strongly jointed and bedded and have weathered voids. Slump’s stresses and transport and proportional to the slope.


These are slow process that can take a century or so long.  They typically happen on marsh lands or ponds. They leave a very rumpled topography. Mudflows are much faster versions of this.


In an odd sense, this one is my favourite. Imagine you have a cake with that thick matte frosting on the top and then this softer, moist cake below it. There’s only a few people in front of you in line for this beautiful cake. Everything is fine, you’re patient. But then the guy right before you decides he doesn’t want any frosting and only cuts out the cake under the matte frosting. You quiver as you watch the heavy, strong frosting fall because what previously supported it is now gone. Going back to geomorphology, you now have a hill. The bottom part is of a weaker rock material and is eroded away faster than the overlying material. Just like your cake, once the supporting bottom material is gone, the top falls over.


All of my posts are going to be physical geography/geomorphology based until after my exam! But I’ll try to relate the concepts with mapping!