Geomatics-GIS Geopardy: Time Stuffer Puzzles

Three Jeopardy-style puzzles for testing your general knowledge of Geomatics and GIS concepts

Here is an opportunity to test your general knowledge of the basics of Geomatics and GIS in a fun way. The answers are provided below but check only after you’ve exhausted other possibilities. If you are an educator you might wish to use these puzzles on those occasions when you need to fill time, or want a review, or you guessed it, anytime you need them and in any way you wish; maybe work backwards and create questions from the answers. You are also encouraged to offer additional categories with graded questions and answers.

Board #1

If you wish to view an enlarged version of the boards, depending on your viewing mode you may need to copy and paste. (2X Click on images for larger view)

Board #1: Questions. Image by James Gibson

Board #1: Questions. Image by James Gibson

Board #2

Board #2: Questions. Image by James Gibson

Board #2: Questions. Image by James Gibson

Board #3

Board #3: Questions. Image by James Gibson

Board #3: Questions. Image by James Gibson


Kai Sonder teaches use of GPS

Kai Sonder teaches use of GPS (Photo credit: CIMMYT)

  • Graphics: 20- arc; 40- polygon; 60- region; 80- raster- 100- vector
  • Cartography: 20- annotation; 40- base map; 60- surface; 80- datum; 100- image
  • Spatial: 20- topological overlay and contiguity analysis, surface analysis, linear analysis, and raster analysis; 40- spatial data; 60- geometric models, coincidence models, adjacency models; 80- spatial order; 100- spatial interaction
  • Direction: 20- aspect; 40- azimuth; 60- Triangulation; 80- Bearing; 100- Magnetic declination
  • Acronyms: 20- Geographic Information System; 40- Global Positioning System; 60- Earth Observation Satellite; 80- Co-ordinate Geometry; 100- Basic Spatial Unit
  • Standards: 20- American National Standards Institute; 40- Digital Geospatial Metadata; 60- American Standard Code for Information Interchange; 80- ARC Standard Raster Graphic; 100- Multiple Document Interface

Board #2

  • Acronyms: 20- Multispectral Scanner; 40- Land Information System; 60- Universal Transverse Mercator; 80- Joint Photographic Expert Group; 100- Dots per Inch
  • Spectrum: 20- Band; 40- forms of electromagnetic radiation; 60- photon; 80- kHz- radio; microns- infrared; eV-X Ray; 100- visible spectrum, radio frequencies
  • Data: 20- bit; 40- byte; 60- character; 80- discrete data; 100- data conversion
  • Coordinates: 20- coordinate; 40- Benchmarks; 60- Cartesian Coordinate System; 80- origin; 100- tic
  • Models: 20- surface model; 40- point, line, area, and surface; 60- digital elevation model; 80- model; 100- map projection
  • Database: 20- field; 40-GIS database; 60- geographic database; 80- database; 100- relational database

Board #3

  • Processes: 20- geocode; 40- analysis; 60- allocation; 80- calibration; 100- map query
  • Acronyms: 20- optical character recognition; 40- Radio Detecting and Ranging; 60- International Standards Organization; 80- Hypertext Transfer Protocol; 100- Digital Geospatial Metadata
  • Formats: 20- Tagged interchange (image) file format (TIFF); 40- band separate; 60- Data Exchange Forma (DXF); 80- Initial Graphics Exchange Specification (IGES); 100- gif
  • Tables: 20- attribute table; 40- base table; 60- table; 80- attribute; 100- records and fields
  • Software: 20- Computer-aided design CAD; 40- ArcView; 60- Oracle; 80- ARC/INFO;  100- IDRISI 
  • Cartography: 20- template; 40- topographic map; 60- map; 80- map scale; 100- neatline

So…how did you do? Too difficult? Too easy? Missed some critical concepts? We’d be happy to hear your comments.

Originality in Your Writing

"Writing", 22 November 2008

“Writing”, 22 November 2008 (Photo credit: ed_needs_a_bicycle)

Voice and originality are similar in the sense that both are an elusive quality in your writing. You might even say that an author’s voice is what makes a piece original and fresh.

Disrupt your logical brain and see things in jump cuts and inexplicable juxtapositions and angularities.

Disrupt your logical brain and see things in jump cuts and inexplicable juxtapositions and angularities.

So, how do you stay fresh? David Corbett suggests changing something in your routine, such as:

  • Writing in a different place;
  • Writing longhand;
  • Dictating into a recorder;
  • Switching point of view;
  • Removing every modifier in your text and starting over.

Corbett’s most dramatic suggestion, however, was stolen from William Seward Burroughs, the American novelist, short story writer, essayist, painter, and spoken word performer. It goes like this:

  • Print out a page of your writing;
  • Cut the page into quarters;
  • Rearrange the parts;
  • Retype the page in this quasi-jumbled state.

The effect is to disrupt your logical brain and see things in jump cuts and inexplicable juxtapositions and angularities. Now return to your work and keep the best of these angularities intact. Following is an example:

Original Piece of Writing

At Dufferin he turns left again and then right at Notre Dame. At each turn he glances at Bobolink and tries to read her mood, her state of mind. He notices that her hair is clean, curly, and sporting some fiddledeedees, that her nail polish is unchipped, and that the nylon jogging pants and Harley T-shirt are clean and pressed. Nevertheless, he notices that her eyes seem sad.

As they travel east on Notre Dame, she asks, “Can you bring me back to my sister’s?” as, at the same time, Connie’s voice drones over the Mike.

He hesitates and doesn’t answer. Instead he turns to Bobolink and says, “What did you ask me?” He knows what she said but wonders if she’ll pursue it.

“Can you take me back to my sister’s?” she repeats.

“Sure… Landlord troubles…?”

“What else is new?”

Bobolink is silent for several blocks until she spots a young woman pushing a baby in a shopping cart. Then she stares, and blurts out, “Welfare buggy!


Welfare buggy…I’d hate to be that baby.” Bobolink has a soft spot for children and a disdain for her condition. But, for whatever reasons, she’s still in the cycle of being on and off welfare. She fiddles with her fiddledeedees.

Quartered Piece of Writing Retyped

  1. At Dufferin he turns left. Dame…At each turn he glances…Her mood, her state of mind…Clean, curly, and sporting some…Polish is unchipped, and that. Harley T-shirt…are clean and…notices that her eyes seem sad. As they travel east on Notre…Bring me back to my sister’s? He hesitates and doesn’t…Bobolink and says, “What…what she said but wonders if.
  2. “Can you take me back to my…Sure…Landlord troubles? What else is new? Bobolink is si;ent for several…young woman pushing a baby…stares, and blurts out, “Welfare…What? Welfare buggy…I’d hate to…a soft spot for children and a…for whatever reasons, she’s still…off welfare. She fiddles with…
  3. again and then right at Notre…at Bobolink and tries to read…He notices that her hair is…fiddledeedees, that her nail…the nylon jogging pants and…pressed. Nevertheless, he..Dame, she asks, “Can, at the same time,…Mike…answer. Instead he turns to…did you ask me? He knows…she’ll pursue it.
  4. sister’s? she repeats…blocks until she spots a…in a shopping cart. Thern she…buggy…be that baby…Bobolink has…disdain for her condition. But…in ther cycle of being on and…her fiddledeedees.

Partial Revision of Piece of Writing

At Dufferin he turns left. At each turn he glances at Bobolink, checking her mood, her state of mind: her hair is clean, curly, and sporting some fiddledeedees; nail polish is unchipped; Harley T-shirt is clean and pressed. He notices that her eyes seem sad.

As they travel east on Notre Dame, she asks, “Can you bring me back to my sister’s?”

He hesitates, doesn’t answer. Then he turns to Bobolink and says, “What? He knows what she said but wonders if she’ll pursue it.

Well…what do you think?


  • Corbett, David. 25 Ways to Improve Your Writing. Writers Digest. Feb. 2011.
  • Gardner, Rachelle. Craft, Story and Voice. Rachelle
  • Mullany, Janet. Originality in Genre Fiction- An Oxymoron? Dear AuthorOct. 19, 2010.

How You Write: Your Voice

What is your voice?  How do you write? Well, in truth, your voice is something that’s elusive; it cannot be created. All you can do is work on it. But here are some ideas.

The Elements of a Writer's Voice.

The Elements of a Writer’s Voice.

Here is an example of how I write. It’s taken from a story I penned for Windsor Square:

“Unless you’re a senior citizen you may not know that Ford was once in the airplane business. I was reminded of this fact upon reading that the endangered Willow Run Airplane Plant, the bomber plant, dedicated June 16, 1944, was being eyed by the nearby Yankee Air Museum. The plan is to consolidate and protect its small fleet of flying aircraft and collection of static display aircraft.”

Another example comes from my article about Aerialist Nik Wallenda in Decoded Science:

“The famous Floridian, Nik Wallenda has walked across Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon. Both are magnificent gorges cut by rivers that presented the aerialist with geographic challenges worthy of his skills. But what were the similarities and differences.

Having sailed for years, I appreciate fluctuating temperatures and local offshore winds but coping with a drop below me of hundreds of feet is another matter.

Finally I offer the introduction to an article penned for Suite 101 on Crohn’s Disease and Low Thyroid:

A discussion with my wife’s nurse at a Remicade infusion clinic revealed that almost every patient had some sort of a thyroid problem – they are both autoimmune diseases- but that there was little written about it. Then a quick perusal of online forums revealed a surprisingly intense discussion concerning this possible association between Crohn’s disease and thyroid problems. Much like the case of looking for a cause by examining correlations between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, however, associations between Crohn’s and Thyroid disorders, while suspected, are debated.

This is how I write, the way I handle language, my style. But is it my voice?

Art Spikol, writing in Writer’s Digest, remarked that how you use your voice will depend upon your audience and the market. If you get published and people like what you’re writing you’ll get a following. So, do this:

  1. Imagine your ideal reader: Describe him or her. e.g. sense of humor, short attention span, smart, interested in… etc..
  2. Ask other people (e.g., in a writing group), “What do I sound like when you read my stuff; what’s my voice?” Go ahead, be brave!
  3. Read your own stuff and ask, “Would I read this?”
  4. Of course, spend some time examining books, articles, and blogs you like. Other peoples’ styles do affect our voice. If you’re to be a good writer you need to be a good reader.

I like Lori Lansens, the Chatham Ontario author. She wrote, in The Girls: “My sister’s Red Wings choked this year. Whiffer and Rose were really counting on them to step it up in their final few games, but there you go.”

I also enjoyed Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son. He wrote: “Outside, the air was dry and cool and smelled of cactus ribs and aluminum stock tanks. The stars wavered as Texas gave off the last of its heat.”

You can probably guess why I’d like each of these very different passages. But they don’t sound like me. They’re not my voice


  • Goins, Jeff. Ten Steps To Finding Your Writing Voice. Jeff Goins Writer
  • Spikol, Art. 25 Ways to Improve Your Writing. Writers Digest. Feb. 2011.

The Precise Details That Tell a Story

English: Luggage compartments of an Airbus 340...

English: Luggage compartments of an Airbus 340-600 aircraft (economy class). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jack Heffron, writing in Writer’s Digest, suggests that “your subject remains inert until you add the precise detail that brings it, in the reader’s mind, to life.” These added details can add life to both settings and characters. To demonstrate the point, here is a basic scene- a character and a setting- followed by improvements:

Original Scene:

At the airport, Stacey Jackson waits for her luggage. She was in Borderville for a private viewing at her mother’s funeral but, before returning to Field, is meeting Herman and spending a day and a night in Banff.

The More Precise Scene:

At the Calgary airport, Stacey Jackson, her plaits of honey-colored hair hanging well below her shoulders, stands on the hard, grey, tile floor of the baggage pick-up area. An airport volunteer, dressed in his white cowboy hat and bright red vest, passes behind her several times. As she shifts her weight from one leg to the other, her soft-blue eyes scan the moving, silver-slatted conveyor belt for any sign of her nothing-fancy luggage bags.

She was in Borderville, dressed incognito in a black wig and dark glasses, for a private viewing at her mother’s funeral. Now, before returning to the small town of Field, located in the Kicking Horse River Valley of southern British Columbia, she’s meeting Herman and spending a day and a night in the town of Banff.

How We Get These Details

We get these preciase details by observing the worlds we’re talking about and, to quote Jack Heffron, “scribbling down the precise details that tell the story.”

For instance, say I need a hospital setting in one of my scenes. Then I need to visit a hospital and note the precise details. Here is an example:

Approaching the lobby, Sean scans the scene at the drop-off zone: several patients standing, taking long, lazy drags on cigarettes, their IVs still attached; and a couple of nurses smoking, a puzzling scene, although he knows the grip of cigarettes, having witnessed Jenny’s unsuccessful attempts at quitting.

The lobby is bright and inviting with easy chairs for relaxing. A coffee counter graces one side and a gift shop the other. But the slight disinfectant smell says hospital, not Chapters with a Starbucks: It’s a place he doesn’t want to be.

One wall contains a sign in bright red letters: Emergency. Next to it is an arrow pointing right. He walks briskly toward the sign, passes an elderly I.O.D.E. volunteer dusting the gift-shop counter, turns right, and then heads down a long hall.

Several doors with signs in black lettering on plastic backgrounds- cleaning, employees only, and emergency exit only– lead from the hall but Sean continues to the end and turns left

He’s immediately surprised by a room full of people sporting plaster casts, crutches, and an assortment of braces. Another elderly volunteer in a pink uniform is walking amongst them. He corners her and asks, “Excuse me. Where is the emergency room?”

The volunteer points to a doorway on the far side of the fracture clinic and politely says, “Over there.”

So, revisit a draft of your writing and try adding precise details.


  • Heffron, Jack. 25 Ways to Improve Your Writing. Writers Digest. Feb. 2011.

Keeping Our Words Flowing

English: Pyongyang Metro, DPRK, Puhŭng (부흥) st...

English: Pyongyang Metro, DPRK, Puhŭng (부흥) station Français : Le métro de Pyongyang, en Corée du Nord. Station de Puhŭng (부흥). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I make the decision to write something, I know the next step is to take action, board the train- in other words actually write: Then, when I write that something, I want it to stay on the tracks and flow to an end of some sort. But my words don’t always flow: sometimes they sputter and stop. Why is that? Why does my piece of writing, this living thing I’m creating, sometimes lay in front of me, seemingly dead?

Author David Morrell suggests that keeping our words flowing from our mind to the page is impeded in two main ways:

  1. We try to make the story do something that it doesn’t want to do; or
  2. There is something in us not ready to face the full implications of the work’s theme and emotions.

Morrell offers a simple solution: since a story is a living thing, talk to it and ask questions, such as:

  1. Okay, story, what do you want to do?
  2. Okay, story, where do you want me to go with you?
  3. Okay, story, why are you stalling?

The last question, the critical one, forces me to ask:

  • Is my story boring (predictable, not exciting)?
  • Does my story have a point to it (not rambling, no wasted words, perceptive or insightful, conflicts or challenges, characters with something interesting to say, characters I really care about)?
  • Does my story avoid gimmicks (no cheap clichés, tricks)?

I’m reminded of a conversation between Adam Johnson and his editor, David Ebershoff that was shared in the back section of the Pulitzer Prize winning The Orphan Master’s Son. Because North Korea is such a closed society the author, while he’d visited the country with handlers, never met ordinary DPRK citizens other than defectors. In response, knowing his story needed it, he decided to create a new character, the interrogator, specifically to show his readers the apartment buildings and subways and night markets of Pyongyang.   


M.J. Domet and the Power of Your Words

M.J. Domet, author of the book, ‘Waves of Blue Light’, is an inspirational speaker and workshop facilitator from Grande Prairie Alberta.

Workshop Facilitator M.J. Domet

Workshop Facilitator M.J. Domet

The author has helped hundreds of people to develop powerful inner communication skills and I feel lucky enough to have participated in one of her workshops.

The workshop was entitled, ‘The Power of Your Words: Using Emotion in Your Writing’. After listing emotion-words like love, greed, anger, hate and so on we were asked to do this exercise:

  1. describe our morning- facts only;
  2. repeat the description to incorporate an emotion word; and
  3. write the morning’s activities as we actually felt them.

Following is my attempt at the exercise:

Facts Only

I woke up, made the coffee and prepared breakfast. My wife cleaned the house: it was the day the house cleaner was coming. Then I hid in my office, edited my memoir, and listened to the two women talking downstairs in the living room.

Inserting an Emotion Word

I’m greedy. I want the most out my money so I can get personal things. So, when I awoke, all I could think of was, I’m getting the coffee and making the breakfast to enable my wife to clean the house before the cleaning lady re-cleans the house: No wonder they have time to talk. I could use that money to buy a new tennis racket.

Real Emotions

I was tired but I knew I needed to get up early: the house cleaner was coming. I don’t mind so I prepared coffee and made the breakfast. After all, the house cleaner coming means I have free time to write.

Now, you try it in your writing. After all, don’t we tend to remember the feelings we have more than the words when we finish a book?


The History of My Writing

While I’ve written a memoir and am about to publish a novel, my first venture into writing was curriculum related. I had spent many years developing courses of study for other people but, believing my ideas could help new teachers everywhere, I decided to market a collection of tried-and-true activities under my business name, Gibson Associates. The motto is ‘When Teaching is Fun, Learning is Easy!’ and I still operate the business, plus a related blog entitled Geography and All Things Gaia. One of the more popular articles, posted February 28, 2013,  is entitled, ‘The Gaia Theory and Earth’s Cycles’ .

Curriculum Style Materials for Gibson Associates: Image by James Gibson

'Geography and All Things Gaia' Blog.

‘Geography and All Things Gaia’ Blog.

I ventured into print in 2010 with the publication of ‘A Father’s Message’ in Renaissance, the trade magazine of RTO. The article focused on one of my interests, staying healthy after retirement. But, I have never wanted to be pigeon-holed as a writer.

My Philosophy of Health in Renaissance Magazine: Image by James Gibson

To broaden my writing scope, in 2011 I sought out and found an online writing and later editing opportunity with, It allowed me to write about anything that interested me; and In February of that year I wrote my first online essay, a personal look at the wineries of Lake Erie’s North Shore, particularly Essex County ON Canada.

Wineries of Essex County. Image by James Gibson

Wineries of Essex County. Image by James Gibson

In their wisdom, Suite operated a writers’ forum and I found it invaluable. I found many of the writers very accomplished and widely published. They motivated me to attempt other forms of writing, including a non-fiction family memoir and a fictional murder mystery.

I had read Chatham-born Lori Lansens’ book, The Girls and liked her technique of switching viewpoints about the same topic. It led me to do the same in  A Brother and Four Sisters,  a coming of age novel set in Galt (Cambridge) ON Canada. It is currently available in paperback, but also in eBook form at SmashwordsSonyBarnes & NobleKobo, and Diesel.

When closed, archived its content, and decided to go in a different direction I began writing Geoscience articles for Decoded Science. It is an editorially-vetted online magazine out of California  that focuses on science stories in the news. One of my articles, for instance, was on the geography in aerialist Nik Wallenda’s Skywire Tightrope Gorge Crossings.

Nik Wallenda and Geography. Image by James Gibson

Nik Wallenda and Geography. Image by James Gibson

As alluded to earlier in this post, my attempt at a full-length murder mystery, The Driver, was begun and is now about to be published. Ten years in the making and set in the Windsor-Detroit border area, it begins in 2010, and then backtracks to the period just before the year 2001 and the 9/11 attacks. Among other things, it attempts to give a uniquely Canadian viewpoint to the decade before and after the attacks. Also in the works, and related to my interest in curriculum, is The Geographer’s Toolbox: Volume One. News on these publications will be the subject of forthcoming posts.

The most recent gig is a column in Windsor Square. Entitled ‘Conversations’  it involves one-on-one conversations with interesting people (entrepreneurs, writers, etc.), some ordinary and some not, some through standard interviews and some off-the-cuff vignettes.

Introduction of James Gibson to Windsor Square Audience.

Introduction of James Gibson to Windsor Square Audience.