Thursday, April 25, 2013

Answer: What kind of trees are those?

Yesterday's questions should start to look familiar by now.  When given an image and asked something about it that sounds a lot like "location-specific information," you probably want to first check it for EXIF metadata.  

1.  What kind of trees are these?  (No guessing.  You should be able to figure this out definitively.)  
2.  When I took this picture, I could hear a bell ringing in the distance.  Why was the bell ringing?  (Hint:  It wasn't from someone's house.  This question is a little harder, but you should be able to find the answer.) 

So I downloaded the image and extracted the metadata from it.  

First, let's start with the lat/long.  I found that it was (37.3648083333333, -122.146610833333).  

I wanted to start by taking a look around that location, so I went into Google Streetview, put in the lat/long as the searcy query,  and just looked around a bit.  I found almost the exactly same image in streetview: 

Since Streetview gave me the estimated street address, I tried searching with that, but didn't get especially far.  

But when I kept rotating the view around, I DID discover a sign at the entrance to the gate leading up to the house.  By using the Streetview + tool to zoom in on a portion of the image, I was able to read the sign quite clearly. 

And if you're given a clue in the form of a name like that, you've got to do the next obvious search.  My next search was for:  

    [ Taaffe House Los Altos Hills ] 

Strategically, I wanted to find out a bit about the house on the hill, assuming that it might have something to do with the grove of trees in the foreground.  

It worked beautifully.  Wikimapia has a brief article on the house, which is on the estate of former Hewlett-Packard CEO David Packard.  This article also mentions that the trees are apricot trees, but this seemed to neat, fast, and remarkable.  (I mean, what were the chances that the random picture I took of fruit trees while on a bike ride would turn out to be those of a Silicon Valley giant?)  

I wanted to second source this information from a trusted source.  So I did follow-up query: 

   [ Taaffe House William Packard ]

Sure enough, in these results I find the Packard Foundation itself discussing the Packard house on Taaffe Road (now a conference center).  And a bit further down in the results, there's an entry in an architectural data base that describes the Taaffe House as having "70 acres of apricot trees."  That just about lines up with my visual estimate of the size of the property.  

Answer to question #1:  Apricot trees, found on several different sources.  

The second question is a bit harder.  WHAT could possibly be ringing a bell in the afternoon?  (Given that it's not a house.)  I wasn't sure what I was looking for, so I went back the Google Map of that area and did a search for: 

     [  *  ] 

Yes, searching for as asterisk will put all of the "known entities" for all of the visible map as red dots and push pins (A through F in this illustration).  

I figured I was looking for a church or a school (the most likely institutions to ring bells).  I see that Foothill College in the lower right is there, but they don't ring bells.

There's a church (St. Luke's Chapel in the Hills, pushpin H) and there's "Poor Clares Nuns" at pushpin F on this map.  

A search for: 

    [ St Luke's "Chapel in the Hills" bells ] 

reveals that the Chapel's web site only talks about the use of "sanctus bells" during Sunday Mass at noon.  (I did a background lookup to verify that "sanctus bells" are small, handheld bells used in a church service--unlikely to be heard at a distance.  So the bells I heard probably aren't from St. Luke's.)  

A quick check of the EXIF metadata shows us that the photo was taken at 2013:04:04 16:35:18  (or, decoding slightly:  April 4, 2013 at 4:35PM)  

I checked the bells at Poor Clares with the query: 

     [ Poor Clare's Los Alto Hills bells ] 

and found the sisters' blog with their daily routine and a listing of times when they would ring bells their practice.  

Answer to question #2:  4:30PM is roughly the end of what the nun's blog describes as "Rosary, Vespers, collation"--so I'm willing to bet that's what it was.  A bell marking the end of that step in their daily ritual.   (For what it's worth, I also had to look up "collation" and found that it's a light meal.  I could imagine that the bell might signal the transition.  But it's a little unclear if it's the end of rosary + vespers + collation, or from rosary + vespers to collation.  Nevertheless, it's somehow signaling rosary + vespers.  

In any case, given that the afternoon wind is usually in a south or southeasterly direction in this part of Silicon Valley, it was mostly likely the "Immaculate Heart Monastery of the Poor Clares."  (This name is taken from the image of their road sign on their web site.)  

Here's an image I made from one of the pictures on their web site.  (I just cropped and zoomed in a good deal on their original image.)  You can actually see the bell that's used to signal events during the sister's daily routine.  

I found it striking that this lonely sound of devotion would drift across the hills over Silicon Valley and be heard by Packard's apricot tree.  But it's also a great thing that you can figure all this out with just a few minutes of searching. 

Keep searching on! 

Postscript:  Interested in the bells, I've ridden my bike up there a few more times around 4PM and ridden slowly up and down the street in front of the monastery.  Sure enough, the bell rings repeatedly every afternoon about 4:30, sometimes a bit earlier, sometimes a bit later.  But since they're a cloistered order, I don't know that I'll ever find out exactly what the bell signifies.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday search challenge (4/24/13): What kind of trees are these?

On a beautiful spring day I went for a bike ride up into the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains, the hills that make up the western part of Silicon Valley.  Up in those rolling hills lie fragmentary groves of trees, remnants of the time when Silicon Valley was called "Valley of Heart's Delight." 

I paused and took the following picture.  When looking at it later, I realized that I didn't know what kind of trees these were.  The Valley of Heart's Delight was once home to a thriving agricultural industry, but in this particular case, I couldn't identify them through the photo. 

But after about 1 minute of SearchResearch, I was able to determine a whole bunch of information about this site.  Can you?  

Today's questions, both of which are answerable fairly quickly... if you know how! 

1.  What kind of trees are these?  (No guessing.  You should be able to figure this out definitively.)  
2.  When I took this picture, I could hear a bell ringing in the distance.  Why was the bell ringing?  (Hint:  It wasn't from someone's house.  This question is a little harder, but you should be able to find the answer.)  

Search on!

(P.S.  I'm travelling a bit over the next couple of days.  I hope to be able to post the answer on Thursday, but don't worry if I'm offline.  I'll post the answer as soon as I can find a decent wifi connection.)  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

When to use "Translated foreign pages"?

RamonG writes in with a great question:  
I have some questions about How to do queries. 
I noticed that you used "Kriegsgefangene in a..." you did not use "german" before Kriegsgefangene to narrow even more the query. That is because of the term of art? and because it is already in german? 
After reading your answer. I tried [german prisoners of war america] and then used translated foreign pages in german. Results of your query are much better than my query.  
I just found: and 
My question is: When is useful to use Translated foreign pages?

It's good to realize that what Translate foreign pages does is to first translate your query into a number of languages, and then search for THAT query.  For instance, "Prisoner of War" is first translated into Kriegsgefangene (German), prigioniero di guerra (Italian), prisionero de guerra (Spanish) etc. and then a search is run for that term (or phrase).  

In essence, what Google is doing is searching for your phrase in all of Google's languages simultaneously, and then reporting back on the ones that have a decent number of hits.  

Let's look at a slightly different example--let's search for the phrase "host of angels" in other languages.  (In English, this is a reference to a group of angels.  Think of "host" as a mass noun for angels.  Whales come in groups called "pods," angels come in "hosts.")  

The original search looks like this: 

There's a Wikipedia reference, images, the usual sort of thing.  Now, let's go to "Translated foreign pages" -- you do it like this.  Click on "Search tools" then click on the "Translated foreign pages" option (near the bottom of the popup menu).  

This then gives a whole new set of results, ones that have been found in each of the top four languages for this query (in this case, the FIGS languages--French, Italian, German, Spanish).  

What's happened is that "host of angels" has been translated into German, Spanish, Italian and French, then the search is done in each of those languages, and the results returned.  

Note that Google only returns a few languages.  Your language can be added into this search set as well by clicking on the "Add language" option. (See below.)    

In this case, I'm going to select Dutch, just to see what we find... 

And, as you can see, there are a lot of results in Dutch for the translated phrase "schare engelen" (host of angels).   

This works reasonably well because the idea of a "host" as a mass noun is shared in the IndoEuropean languages.  (I have no idea how well this works in Japanese or Chinese -- if any readers can run this search and then comment on the quality of the results in an Asian language, please let me know how well it worked out!)  

Now, to get back to Ramon's question.... 

I used the word Kriegsgefangene because I knew that this word would appear in German texts AND I wasn't confident that the English phrase "Prisoner of War" would translate correctly into German.  Would it translate as 3 words or as one?  Knowing a little bit about German, I was betting, correctly as it turns out, that it would be just one word.

In short, I would use "Translated foreign pages" when I had some confidence that what I was looking for would survive the translation into the target language.  

For another example, think about the Spanish verb compaginar.  There is no real equivalent in English (it means "to coordinate schedules").  One might say "reconcile calendars" or a variety of other things in English, but this is one thing to be aware of--does the idea you're searching for exist in the target language?  And if so, how is it expressed?  

Another easy example:  there is no equivalent concept of tutear in English.  (It means to address in the informal voice, or “tú.”)  Since English doesn't have the equivalent of “tú” it's not clear what searching for ¿Tutear o no? yields only Spanish language results.  

Some terms will survive translation quite well--the simple action verbs, names, acronyms (usually--but check!  POW isn't used everywhere), trans-national company names, etc.  

There isn't a simple answer to Ramon's question, but I hope this gives you some guidance!  

Search on! 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Answer: POWs in the US?

I started part one by looking up Priest Lake, ID.  A quick look at shows that it’s in the upper part of Idaho, about 30 miles from the Canadian border.  The closest big towns are Coeur d’Alene (ID) and Spokane (WA). 

Next, where were the POW camps in the US during WWII? 

      [ POW camps United States WWII ]

I used “WWII” as the most common way to write the abbreviation for “World War Two.”  (But I was prepared to use other versions of the concept if this didn’t work.  It did.) 

There’s a great Wikipedia page on this topic (as I guess there would be—it’s the kind of thing that Wikipedia is good at), and it lists two camps (Camp Algoma and Camp Rupert) as located in Idaho. 

Once you know about camps Rupert and Algoma, it’s easy to see that Camp Rupert (which I found using Google Maps) is some 600 miles away, not exactly a nearby camp.  I doubt that they’d send POWs to work on trails that far away.

But finding Camp Algoma is a little harder. 

     [ “Camp Algoma” Idaho ]

This led me (as it did for Ramon) to a page put up by about German POWs in Idaho.  (It’s part of their Grade 8 state history lessons!)  This page told me that the Wikipedia page is incomplete!  There’s another POW camp:  Camp Farragut.  This page ALSO had a link to a page in Germany (with a .DE domain name) that told me a new word—Kriegsgefangene—this is German for POW.  “This,” I thought, “will come in handy later.   

In any case, we still have to find Camps Algoma and Farragut. 

Problem is, the only Algoma I was able to find in Idaho is in the town of Sagle, about 60 miles from Priest Lake.  (A LOT closer than Camp Rupert.  Plausibly close enough.)   Was it a camp?  Don't know. 

When I searched for

     [ “Camp Farragut” Idaho ]

I found a lot of information on the camp.  In particular, I found that in February 1945, a POW camp was attached to Farragut Naval Training Station on Idaho’s Lake Pend Oreille  (near Athol, ID) received 750 German and Austrian POWs. They were given light work as gardeners and groundskeepers and forestry related tasks. 

This Camp was about 80 miles from Priest Lake, and as I found in document (which is a transcribed short memoir of Joachim Oertel, a German POW at Camp Farragut), the internees did a lot of manual labor of the kind seen in the above photo, but that life in the camp was pretty pleasant. 

The answer:  Well, it’s either Camp Algoma or Farragut.  But the documentation on Algoma is really thin. I just haven’t been able to find much.  (I did, though, find many references to Camp Algona in Iowa which even has a museum web site h, so I wonder if there hasn’t been a transcription error somewhere on the way.) 

Camp Farragut today (Google Maps image).  Now it's a State Park.

(Note the white square in the middle of Farragut State Park?  That’s the old brig for the camp.  The ovals seem to be left over from the days when the camp had 6 major housing/training sites.)

Part 2:  What did the Germans think about US POW Camps?

As commentor Andreas said, “it’s difficult to quantify” this kind of question.  There were propaganda issues on both sides (German and American), so this question requires getting beyond the official pronouncements.  And then there’s the difficulty of discriminating between POWs held on American soil and POWs held in Europe.  Andreas is right—this is a big, difficult, complex topic.  Luckily, we don’t need to write a thesis on this, but try to figure out HOW we could find this information.

I wanted to start by searching German resources—books, newspapers, magazines—for accounts about POWs (or, using the term of art we discovered above, “Kriegsgefangene”). 

The obvious query:

     [ Kriegsgefangene ]

quickly points out the difficulty here—there were MANY POWs (German, Austrian, US, English, Soviet, etc.) and the results are large and complex. 

Adding in the term “America” changed my results to be ALL from a single site: which is a site dedicated to German POWs from WWII.

 This is a great find, but I want to get more than just one site (which clearly has an advocacy position on this topic).  It does bring up a twist that I hadn’t known about beforehand.  American treatment of German POWs in Europe was apparently VERY different than German POWs in the US mainland. 

Doing the obvious Wikipedia search:

     [ Wikipedia Kriegsgefangene ]

Gets you to their page on POWs in WWII, with a breakdown by country of internment and origina of soliders.  (See the German Wikipedia article on this:  - "POWs of the Second World War") 

I have to admit I had no idea that over 3 million German soldiers were interned in the US during the war.  (There were a LOT of POW camps.) 

But from a SearchResearch perspective, the Wikipedia article also has links to writings by German authors.  One of those links looked promising:  Hans-Erich Volkmann (eds.): End of the Third Reich - the end of the Second World War. A perspective review . Published on behalf of the Military History Research Institute, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-492-12056-3 , page 278.  Interesting:  This book is hard to find until I realized that the title would be in German.  “Ende des Dritten Reiches - Ende des Zweiten Weltkrieges : eine perspektivische Rückschau.” Once I realized this, I thought I’d try to find a scanned version of the book…. But no luck.  It doesn’t seem to be scanned!

So I had to back up and try another strategy.  This time around I thought I’d try a direct approach—that is, search for German content in German magazines.  My new query was:

     [ Kriegsgefangene in a...  ]  

Note:  This isn’t my whole query, and I didn't type the ...  I just got this far when typing and the moment I typed the a of what-I-thought-would-be “America” I stopped.  This is what I saw.  (BEFORE I finished typing anything else.) 

Notice that the completion that looks like correct German to me is [Kriegsgefangene in amerika ] (that is, America with a “K”).  I WAS going to spell it as I would in the US—America with a C. 

But once that suggestion was shown to me, I took it (by clicking on it)… completing my query as

    [Kriegsgefangene in amerika ]

Looking through the results I was able to easily find magazine articles (e.g., from Der Speigel) and books written in Germany (e.g., Kramer, Arnold: German POWs in America 1942-1946. Tübingen 1995; or Reiss, Matthias: The blacks were our friends. German POWs in American society from 1942 to 1946. Paderborn 2002) about the experiences of Germany POWs. 

Answer.... I don’t want to write a thesis about what Germans thought about internment in the US, but the summary seems to be that by and large, opinion of people who knew what internment conditions were regarded the POWs as being fairly lucky to escape the madness and deprivations of Europe. 

 Search lessons:  The first challenge was reasonably straightforward, except for the false lead of Camp Algoma.  (If anyone figures out what actually happened there, let me know!)

On the other hand the second challenge really was tough.  In this case, you HAVE to look for content in the language of choice (in this case, German).  Another lesson was to use the term of art IN the target language (in this case, Kriegsgefangene).  Once I found that term, and started searching in German, it became a relatively straightforward problem.  (Actually doing the complete analysis will take some time, but now you know how to do it.) 

Search on!

(And many thanks to CarolynM!) 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday search challenge (4/17/13): POWs in the US?

Photo from U. Idaho Priest Lake images collection. German internees at a camp near Priest Lake, ID (1943).

CarolynM writes in with an excellent research question: 
“It was common legend at my family's lake cabin that one of the nearby state parks in the area (Priest Lake, ID) had for a time during WWII been used as a Italian and German POW camp. According to the story the prisoners worked for the park doing park and trail maintenance, and some became so fond of the area they came back to visit multiple times. The University of Idaho just put up some archival photos from the Priest Lake region that includes pictures of Italian and German internees.   An initial search reveals little because this search is easily confounded by the presence of a wealth of online information regarding US POWs and their internments abroad. It's interesting, little known stuff, that I would imagine should be public information.”

Let’s use Carolyn’s question as the basis for today’s Search Challenge.  This comes in two parts.  The first is relatively straightforward (although it took me a few minutes, and slightly complicated for the reasons Carolyn mentions above).  

But the second part is really a challenge (or at least it was for me, maybe you’ll have a better time of it).  You need to find German resources to really answer this question.  

I like this challenge because it’s the kind of challenge that’s quite possible in the age of Search Engines, but was tough to do before.  As a teacher, I like this one because it asks you to view the world from someone else’s perspective—and that’s always a valuable skill to have. 
1.  What was the name of the WWII POW camp nearest to Priest Lake, ID?  (If you can, find the lat/long.) 

2.  We know there were a large number POW camps in the US for German and Italian prisoners.  While it’s pretty simple to find out what public opinion was in the US of POW camps for American soldiers, can you figure out what public opinion in GERMANY was of US POW camps during the war?    

This is a somewhat more subtle search task, but one well worth spending a few minutes doing. 

As usual, please when you send in your answer, please let us know HOW you found it (what was your search path and what tools and resources did you use along the way), and about how LONG you spent on this challenge.

Search on!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Answer: When did the windmills arrive?

There are at least 3 different ways to solve this problem.  Here they are: 

Strategy #1: 

I actually started by looking around in Google Maps.  Since I knew pretty much where those windmills were, I figured I could easily spot them in the landscape. 

But I was wrong.  After scrolling around looking for telltale shadows on likely-looking ridges, I found nothing.  That’s worrisome, but okay—searches go like that sometimes. 

So I shifted strategies and used the “Photos” to locate a likely looking picture. 

In this map, I clicked on Photos (under the Satellite view menu).  Note the image with the windmill in the lower part of this image.  

One of them was this  image:  (I note that reader “Drop the Gloves” found a different image, but the result is the same.  Both photos were geo-located correctly.) 

This image is from Google Maps, which is showing Cuiet's photo from Panoramio, URL above.

Note, however, that the TITLE of this photo is odd (“Fans in Sent Louis” – what’s that?).  The good news is that the geo-location seems right.  And when I pick out the lat/long of the image (from the Panoramio page), it’s 37.0074, -121.1656.  When I go to that location in Maps, I poke around a little bit to find exactly where the windmills are.  (37.04853, -121.17421)

And NOW I can see the shadows of the windmills in the satellite photos. 

Strategy #2: 

Rather than following the Maps strategy, another way to solve this challenge was through regular web search. 

[windmills san luis reservoir ]

This leads me to the Pacheco Pass Wikipedia page 

Which has the comment:   “There is a small windfarm located at the top of the pass that can be seen from Dinosaur Point Road.”  (Notice in passing that Google synonymized “windfarm” with my search term “windmills,” which was pretty clever, and was an expansion it would have taken me a long while to come up with on my own.) 

So from this I learned that the windmills are actually inside the boundary of Pacheco Pass State Park. 

I also learned that a better search term might be “wind turbine.”  My next search was:

[ Pacheco Pass wind turbine ]

Which led me to the site for International Turbine Research--which tells me that this is developer, and I'm assuming owner, of the windmills.

Doing a search for that led me to their homepage ( Under the link for Origins, it states that:
ITR is a U.S. corporation established in 1986 to operate, service and maintain a series of wind energy projects situated in Pacheco Pass, California, and to maintain electronics and communication systems of wind energy projects situated in Palm Springs, California.

So it looks like 1986 is the year they were put up.  Maybe.  

But I like to second source everything.  So I did one-more-search… This time in Google Books (figuring that someone would have written a comment about this windy pass in a book sometime in the past 30 years). 

[ International Turbine Research Pacheco Pass ]   (in Books)

Which shows a number of results, including: Wind energy in America: a history,  Robert W Righter, lists ITR as “owning and operating 163 turbines in Pacheco Pass.”

But digging a little deeper, another book: Charging Ahead: The Business of RenewableEnergy and What It Means for America,  John J. Berger, I find that US Windpower leased “5,600 acres of land in Pacheco Pass” in the late 1970s. 

That's interesting.  So I follow-up with a quick search in Google News: 

[ "US Windpower"  "Pacheco Pass" ] 

which leads me to a newspaper article in the Bangor Daily News (April 20, 1979).  "A private firm plans to build 20 windmills... in a $20 million project undertaken by US Windpower, Inc."  

The company, based in Burlington, Mass., was headed by "a former garment executive from San Francisco..."  

Apparently, US Windpower started the project in the 1970s, started setting up windmills in 1979-1980, and then were later purchased by International Turbine Research in 1992.  ITR still owns the windmills.  

Strategy #3: 

Reader RosemaryM followed yet a 3rd path.  Her method was to first look for a database with this information in it.  That’s a smart move. 

She did a query for: 

[ wind power database]

Finding which has a great collection of datasets about windpower.  

The one that's relevant to us is California:

This gives a pretty long list of turbine sites in California, so she used Control-F to find the term 'Research' (as in “International Turbine Research”) in the list. This leads to the page for International Turbine Research.  

Which shows the location of the windfarm at Latitude: 37° 2' 23.9"Longitude: -121° 10' 48".  Dropping those coordinates into Maps shows you exactly where the turbines are. 

The database also points out that they’re owned by International Turbine Research

Going to their home page: reveals that they started up in 1986.  (But see above for the rest of the story about US Windpower.) 

Question #2

Once you know it’s in Pacheco Pass State Park, finding the name of the rancho isn’t that hard. 

 [pacheco pass rancho]

Rancho San Luis Gonzaga was a 48,821-acre (197.57 km^2) Mexican land grant in the Diablo Range, in present day Santa Clara County and Merced County, California given in 1843 by Governor Manuel Micheltorena to Juan Perez Pacheco and José Maria Mejía, both Californios.  Three days after the grant, Mejía gave his half to Pacheco.  (So something was going on here!) 

The park was created from Rancho San Luis Gonzaga in 1997, five years after it was bequeathed to the state by Paula M. Fatjo. She was the great-great granddaughter of Mexican ranchero Francisco Pacheco, for whom both the park and the nearby Pacheco Pass are named. The rancho had been in the Pacheco family since 1843. The majority of her property was condemned by the state of California in 1962 to create the San Luis Reservoir. 

And, as regular reader CMoore points out:  "Interestingly, according to Pacheco State Park General Plan and EIR, the ITR Facility was not the first "wind-powered" installation at Pacheco State Park/Rancho San Luis Gonzaga; during the Rancho San Luis Gonzaga's time as a working ranch a windmill was located on the property and the ruins of that windmill, built in the mid-to-late 19th century, were identified as a historic/cultural resource." 

Search Lessons:  

There are many lessons here, but the most obvious one is this--there are often many ways to skin a cat, or find the ownership of a wind turbine farm. 

Also, as you see, sometimes one needs to dig a bit more deeply into the backstory to figure out what really happened.  Yes, ITR owns the turbines now, but there's probably a fascinating story about what happened to US Windpower during the 1980s and early 1990s.  But that's for another day.  

Keep digging.  

And search on!