Wednesday, May 26, 2021

SearchResearch Challenge (5/25/21): What's your story of SearchResearch?


It's a complicated time...

Looking out to sea

.. and the next week or so will be especially complicated, so rather than have me post a Challenge, I'd like to hear from you, my Regular SRS Readers (R-SRS-Rs).  

1.  What's YOUR SRS story?  Have you had to do a search for something recently where there was a bit of a Challenge along the way?  Was it something not-completely obvious that you needed to work out, or look up, or correlate?  What's your tale of SRS?  

It doesn't have to be earth-shatteringly brilliant or complex, but maybe something that sheds a little light onto a research issue that you had to confront.  

For instance, this past week I searched for air purifiers.  (Fire season is coming to California soon, and I want to have SOME ability to clean the air in my home.) 

So I spent about an hour looking up how air purifiers work, which models seems to work best, etc.  

Much to my surprise, people report that homemade air purifiers (which are significantly cheaper than commercial ones) do just about as good of a job.  Here's a great article from the NYTimes on how to DIY an air purifier on a budget

I just used the methods we talked about in an earlier SRS episode on Searching for DIY information.  Most of my time was spent in comparison--looking at the different models, makers, capacities, etc.  I ended up buying a couple for my home, but I'll probably build a third one, just so I can compare the DIY vs. commercial models.  (Of course, then I'll also have to purchase a decent air quality measuring device, but I'll do that next week.)  

So this wasn't a hard task, but it was a good SRS time.  I did my searches, took my notes, and had a surprising outcome (homebuilt is about as good as commercial).  

But I'd love to hear your stories.  

What SRS thing did you do this week?  

Let us know in the comments! 

Search on.  


  1. One of searches that took a bit of time was searching for the name and artist of the two shiny obelisks located here -12.13248897671169, -77.02967463765653 in Lima, Peru.

  2. I'm a school librarian so in the past two weeks have been looking up lots of interesting topics. One student wanted to look at the Military Service Act 1916. I had to sort out results for New Zealand who introduced this Act in August 1916, only a few months later than the UK Act of the same name. My student wanted to look at Hansard, the record of everything said in Parliament. Googling Hansard, I found it was only online from 2002. But then I found a result for "Historical Hansard" and discovered it has been digitised back to 1854 by the Hathi Trust. I showed my student how to add more keywords to get to the Parliamentary debate on the Military Service Bill (not Act, in this record, because it wasn't yet passed). Very satisfying!

  3. I have a long-standing, layperson's interest in local botany, especially 'frontier' plants which somehow manage to grow in unlikely places. So I was very interested to discover that a provincially at-risk tree -- the Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) -- was growing in a small grove about 25 km north of my location in Hope, BC, Canada: this is more than 100 km beyond its main range near Victoria, BC. When I did a search to learn more, I uncovered some interesting articles (e.g. The curious story of Yale’s Garry Oak grove by Daniel Marshall ( & Oaks at the fringe ( by jcdegner.
    I was even more intrigued when I discovered some oak trees growing in the woods near my home. Could these possibly be another fringe population of Garrys? My partner & I made it a pandemic project to photograph oak trees during our walks. Given that Google photos records the GPS data of photos, it occurred to me that there must be a way to locate a collection of photos onto a Google map. Sure enough: a quick search uncovered a way to create a Mymap using photos from a specified album ( ). The resultant map ( was very revealing: what we had speculated were 2 separate populations on either side of the river now appear to be connected and next time we go for a walk we are going to explore the in-between area more carefully.
    We still don't know if these are Garry oak trees -- a botanist friend will visit & confirm for us once COVID restrictions allow -- but we've had a great time searching, both in the forest & online.

    1. Garry Oak: There are lots well north of Victoria around COurtenay. And even this from Wikipedia "A tiny population of Garry oak occurs at the eastern end [of Savary Island]— the northernmost natural occurrence of this species along the coast.

      It is a dandy wood for furniture making with lots of colour and texture. I have used it for 35 years.


    2. Hi Gina - I wasn't able to open your MyMap. Could you send it to me in a DM (to Thanks.

    3. gina: Chas Lyons writing 50 years ago in his book 'trees shrubs and flowers to know in bc' says on page 43 that 'this is the only oak in BC'...One small grove is located on the south side of the Fraser River 1.5 miles above Yale.' That's about 2.4 km. Can you find it? Cheers jon

    4. Try this gina

  4. I have been trying some very small SRS Challenges.

    Interesting ones are the one about "Day Zero" in Software and how that creates the worm and virus. I read about that in Adam Kucharski's book and now reading more about that

    Another one, which was very quick. It also came from that book. It mentions the phrase "15 minutes of fame." Doing a SRS found this

    Andy Warhol

    Also today saw this and made me remember previous Challenges

    Animated map shows human migration throughout history

    1. This upcoming month I'll search more about phylogenetic trees (also need to check if we have a SRS Challenge with this tool) and about the studies behind classic fairy tales like Goldilocks,Little Red Riding Hood and others. It is very interesting after reading about these and how have been working.

      I like the part in which culture that came from voice story changes and adapts in time and in different countries

  5. A friend sent this to me via email. I post it here with her permission....

    I had to work to find charging stations for my Tesla in Santa Barbara at a hotel. Was hoping that a simple search would work, but it didn't. I ended up with charging maps that didn't layer on regular Google maps and then a list of hotels with charging stations but when I went to their websites, they wouldn't take a one night booking. Then I just searched superchargers and ended up on the Tesla site. And picked up the phone and called a hotel that would take a one night booking to see if they had a charger. Which they don't, so I will charge up in Goleta (near Santa Barbara) before I get to my destination. I'm sure someone has a good hack for this, but it took me a lot longer than I thought it should have....

    1. About Tesla:

      I did a quick search with [Tesla charging stations hotels] and got results in Google Maps with the stations there. Also asked Ricardo Blanco and says that searching like that or in a Tesla the stations appears (I am sure you need to be close to one for this option to work properly)

      Then to my query added [Santa Barbara] didn't get results on Google Maps (I'm sure I asked in a wrong way due to the order).) I got two results

      Tesla Forums They also mention site to find stations

      This site also mentions some hotels

      I'm not sure if this could help your friend or others, hopefully yes. It was fun to search.

  6. Hi from the past. I still follow the blog but from afar as other "hobbies" take so much time. Anyways the question asked about recent SRS made me decide to respond. A friend and I have been discussing treatments etc for hypothyroidism that are effective, who should you turn to, medications, supplements and nutrition. My friend is leaning towards nutritionists and natural-path trained doctors. My instincts are more traditional like endocrinologists, internists and dietitians. I was surprised to find that there are so many people planted on one path or the other. As well you find those that are really marketing products, online courses, diet plans etc. It makes it hard to come to reasonable conclusions. So when dealing with a medical question how can one possibly weed out the promoters. They disguise quite well their true intentions through well done websites, enhanced resumes and video channels which can be very convincing as well as free webinars and questionable google reviews. But does that mean their message doesn't have merit. The experts don't agree on treatment so how does one come to their own conclusion. Is it wrong to research medical issues online? Doctors may say it's not a good idea. What I did was focus in on the education process initially. I checked out a few education institutions Then chose a few doctors from both sides of the argument to review their education and their websites. I looked for articles written by and about these doctors. I discounted those promoting sales. I still lean toward traditional but then I know I entered this being biased. It made me think how difficult it was to do this type of research.

    1. Hi Rosemary - You're welcome back whenever you can make it!

      You do make a good point about marketing vs. content. It's difficult for search engines to tell the two apart. Marketing content typically does contain a kernel of truth, along with exciting language ("Larger!" "Faster!" "Works on everything!") or glitzy content.

      I tend to agree that the education process is primary to everything, which is really why I write this blog--I hope some folks see this as educational.

      Best of luck in your research progress.

    2. I think RoseMary (Hello! Nice to read you and Fred in same Challenge again) would benefit, Dr. Russell, with your 1MM that talks about medicine and remedies and how to probe if something works that you did for COVID-19. That and her process will make a better decision.

      In my case, I think everything with a base works. However, I prefer natural path first. Many people says that for example homeopathy doesn't work. For me it have worked always and much better than traditional. Also think that the mind helps a lot. If you believe something will heal you, in my humble opinion, you have better chances in any path chosen


  7. GPR Ground Penetrating Radar: Can it be used to find buried bodies?

    Dutch newspapers from about 1800

    Air Purifier: Got a MERV 16 system

    define reify

    studying local sewerage effluent disposal regs

    Gerry Adams; saint or sinner


  8. I am new to this, not yet an R-SRS-R, so I hope I’m not exposing too much ignorance. I have recently discovered what a valuable tool Google Books is for doing historical research, particularly for obscure people and places. It is amazing what minutiae is out there from long ago. And, as Dan has advised, if the person of interest cannot be found, their FAN club, friends, associates, and neighbors, will often yield results. I am also learning to use “Search in this book” and when quotation marks are crucial.
    One warning: Some pages of some books are excluded. I was looking for a Revolutionary War soldier whose last name began with K and the list skipped from I to L with missing pages in between. Grrrr. It’s okay. I found him in another book.

  9. Don't forget to get familiar with Newspaper Archives. Such as All the ones the Find My Past and British newspaper Archives have. And Trove for Australia...there are lots more should you need them. I am pleased you told us of your experiences. jon

    1. Thanks so much jon! I know about but obviously need to cast a wider net. Actually, newspapers are probably better sources because they were created at the time of an event and not a retrospective or compilation as many books are.