Saturday, April 30, 2016

Weekly Update Apr 15-28

Blog Posts

Story Structure: Dan Wells
In this post, I share about another story structure you can use for writing fiction, structuring presentations, and telling true stories.

Presentation Rehab Tip #4 - Use a 1-page List of Talking Points
When giving a presentation, use a one-page list of talking points instead of a word-for-word script. This applies even when presenting virtually.

The Calf Path
The Calf Path is a poem by Sam Walter Foss, an American poet.

Andrew Mayne's Twitter Promotion Ideas
This post lists some of Andrew Mayne's Twitter tips for book promotion.

Writing 365

The chart immediately below this paragraph displays my progress over the past four weeks. In looking at this detailed view you can clearly see the variation from 8,500 (Week 14) to 9,800 (Week 17). However, in my normal weekly summary chart the variation across the weeks is significantly less visible. Despite the variation, I exceed my goal of writing 1,000 words per day, a total of 7,000 words per week.

I have been excited this week because I am nearing the halfway point in terms of achieving 365,000 words. Within the next couple of days from this writing I will pass 182,500 words. I can't rest, though, because my goal is a daily writing goal that will cumulatively result in a large number of words, not just a total word goal.

Bible Project

In the last couple of weekly updates I skipped the Bible Project portion of the update. Thus, my results look improved when comparing the Previous OT and OT data lines. For some reason I found myself bogged down in the book of Judges, but pushed through. The next book in sequence, Ruth, is a short book of only four chapters. Now 1 Samuel is about 25% completed. Still, there is a lot more to come, as the completed writing thus far represents 33% of the total verses in the Bible.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Andrew Mayne's Twitter Promotion Ideas

This post lists some of Andrew Mayne's Twitter tips for book promotion.

Andrew Mayne is a television personality and author. In his recent ebook, How to Write a Novella in 24 Hours, he includes a list of 100 ways to promote your book. In browsing his website, I came across the same list as a blog post. Definitely check out his book and his website:

Below are 10 of the several Twitter-related ideas suggested by Andrew Mayne. While I have a Twitter account, I don't use it like I should. Check out my previous posts on using transmedia to share your message. It is a good idea and a reminder to me as well. By posting these tips here, I will be able to locate them easily when I'm ready to promote a book project currently in the works.

Twitter Tips from Ways to Promote Your Ebook by Andrew Mayne

Note: many of these tips will work on other social platforms besides Twitter.

  1. Tweet out the link when you first release the book.
  2. Tweet out each time you put the book on a new platform.
  3. Ask anyone who likes the book on Twitter to write a review for the book.
  4. Hold a contest for people to make a blurb just on the cover and tweet it out.
  5. Tweet really good reviews with a thank you.
  6. Tweet and post small facts about the research for your book.
  7. Tweet and post a list of books that influenced your book.
  8. Tweet and post a list of movies that influenced your book.
  9. Ask people on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ for promotion ideas.
  10. Post the first sentence on Twitter and include a "read more ..." link.

Andrew's list includes 100 ways to promote your book, and most are free, only requiring your time and effort.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Calf Path

The Calf Path is a poem by Sam Walter Foss, an American poet.

Sam Walter Foss

Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911) was born in New Hampshire. He was a poet who wrote a poem a day for his local paper, resulting in a five-volume set of poems. A portion of one of his poems was inscribe at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and there are references to Foss's work throughout American culture.

The Calf Path

I heard this poem read by a commencement speaker recently.

One day through the primeval wood
A calf walked home as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.

Since then three hundred years have fled,
And I infer the calf is dead.


But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day,
By a lone dog that passed that way;

And then a wise bell-wether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,

And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bell-wethers always do.

And from that day, o’er hill and glade.
Through those old woods a path was made.
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged, and turned, and bent about,

And uttered words of righteous wrath,
Because ‘twas such a crooked path;

But still they followed—do not laugh—
The first migrations of that calf,

And through this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.
This forest path became a lane,
that bent and turned and turned again;

This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load

Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.

And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street;

And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare.

And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;

And men two centuries and a half,
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.
Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed the zigzag calf about

And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.

A Hundred thousand men were led,
By one calf near three centuries dead.

They followed still his crooked way,
And lost one hundred years a day;

For thus such reverence is lent,
To well established precedent.


A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;

For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,

And work away from sun to sun,
To do what other men have done.

They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,

And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.

They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move.

But how the wise old wood gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf.

Ah, many things this tale might teach—
But I am not ordained to preach.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Presentation Rehab Tip 4 - Use a 1-page list of talking points

When giving a presentation, use a one-page list of talking points instead of a word-for-word script. This applies even when presenting virtually.

For every class period of World History I in college, we had a map quiz. Whatever chapter and section we studied inevitably included a map depicting military movement, population change, countries, and cities. Even though I was generally an A student and enjoyed history, I was not doing well on the map quizzes, especially considering that each quiz usually had a maximum of 5 points (miss just one point and the score was 80%).

Knowing I had to do something to improve my performance, and subsequently my overall grade, I went shopping for a book on improving your memory. The book I found remains a classic today: The Memory Book by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas. I found a strategy the helped me, and from that point on, I aced the map quizzes.

One of the techniques discussed by the authors was a memory device that even the ancient Romans used. The technique consists of associating each part of your presentation to a room of your house. The introduction might be associated with an entry way or foyer. Each subsequent section or key point could be linked to another room. When speaking, you can visualize each room of your house - which you are familiar with - and the part of your talk tied to that area will be easily recalled.

Remember, however, that you don't want to memorize word-for-word. Instead, focus on memorizing a general outline of your presentation. With sufficient preparation and review of your material, you may not even have to dedicate time to memorization, it will just become second nature as you prepare.

Even so, you may not be completely ready to give up all notes and solely rely on your memory to present. What works well for me is to create a one-page list of talking points using 18-point font. Place this on a small table or stand so that you can still interact with the audience and refer to your list when needed. I purchased a portable music stand and also use an even-smaller music stand that easily attaches to a standard microphone stand.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Story Structure: Dan Wells

In this post, I share about another story structure you can use for writing fiction, structuring presentations, and telling true stories.

Dan Wells

This is a model first developed by Dan Wells, an author of several books, both as series and stand alone novels. In 2010 he wrote a series of posts writing a story. Several other blogs have summarized his steps. The seven steps represent a very basic skeletal system, if writing a story of any length, but also provide a basic outline for a shorter story or presentation.

Peter Rabbit

In the story of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, Peter disobeys his mother, explores a forbidden garden barely escaping with his life, and eventually gets back home.

Let's look at the seven point structure using Peter Rabbit as an example.

The seven plot points

  • Hook - this is where you as the writer or presenter grab the readers, causing them to ask, "What happens next?"
  • First plot point - This is point of no return similar to crossing the threshold in the hero's journey structure.
  • Pinch 1 - This is a situation that creates pressure on the main character.
  • Middle - The character discovers something that will help lead to a resolution.
  • Pinch 2 - However, before the resolution, more pressure is applied to main character, possibly a huge loss of some kind.
  • Second plot point - In this step, the main character obtains tools or knowledge in preparation for the resolution/final battle.
  • Resolution - Everything gets wrapped up for good or bad.

One of the unique aspects of Dan's approach is that he follows Stephen Covey's advice from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to "begin with the end in mind." As such, Dan starts with the resolution. How does the story end?

The next step is to decide on the hook. What is the main character doing at the beginning of the story?

Next, is the midpoint. The main character moves from reaction, where he responds to circumstances, to action, where he intentionally creates a path forward.

With the ending, beginning, and middle determined, the remaining elements can be determined.

The two plot points should be created. Finally, the two pinch points, where increasing pressure is placed on the main character, should be determined.

Here is my take on Peter Rabbit using the 7-point structure. These are presented in the order using during the planning of a story, so you will have to mentally re-order them to read the story sequentially.
  • Resolution - Peter makes a beeline for the gate and returns home tired, but missing all of his clothes.
  • Hook - Peter lives with his mother and siblings under a tree.
  • Midpoint - Peter realizes the garden is full of dangers and just wants to go home.
  • Plot point 1 - Mrs. Rabbit forbids her baby rabbits from playing in Mr. MacGregor's garden, but Peter ignores her warning.
  • Plot point 2 - Peter climbs into a wheelbarrow and can see the entrance to the garden, but he is on the opposite side from where he needs to be.
  • Pinch 1 - As Mr. MacGregor is chasing Peter, Peter gets caught on some netting and barely escapes.
  • Pinch 2 - Peter runs into the shed and hides in a watering can filled with water. He barely escapes out the window and hides out in the garden.


Dan Wells - How to Build A Story features slide deck and video.
Dan Wells - Writing a Short Story
Construction by Ravenblack7575 (via Flickr)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Weekly Update Apr 8-14

Blog Posts

Tale of Peter Rabbit
The Tale of Peter Rabbit was written by Beatrix Potter in 1902. Potter incorporated Peter Rabbit into later stories as well. The Tale of Peter Rabbit is a great example for illustrating various story structure models.

Short run Book Printing
This post provides links and descriptions of websites with short run book printing services.

Use Google Forms to Create a Tracking Log
Google Forms is an easy and free way to create tracking logs and surveys you can access from your smart phone.

Writing 365

In a couple of future posts you will read about some of Andrew Mayne's tips. Mayne is a television personality and author. One of his tips is to use the phone for writing activities. In thinking about this, I decided to migrate all of my writing for the Writing 365 Project (where my goal is to write 1,000 or more word per day) from Microsoft Word and Apple Pages to Google Doc. While Word and Pages are great programs, the display of Google Docs is ideal for various screen sizes.

As a result, I have gone mobile this week. I used my iPad significantly more than in past weeks and also used my iPhone to write a few sentences here and there throughout the day. I must say, it is convenient to simply reach in to my pocket, grab my phone, and start writing. I don't even have to retrieve my laptop or iPad. Typing on the phone is still challenging for more than a couple of sentences, but I am going to experiment with the Siri voice dictation options.

I have been using a writing form that I created using the instructions above to enter the number of words completed each each. I later transferred these to Excel in order to create the summary chart below.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Use Google Forms to Create a Tracking Log

Google Forms is an easy and free way to create tracking logs and surveys you can access from your smart phone.

I recently learned about Google Forms from Andrew Mayne, an author and television personality. He wrote a blog post titled "My Secret Creativity Tool," in which he provided a quick overview of Google Forms.

I played around with Google Forms and decided to create the video below. This project took a couple of nights because I was dissatisfied with my first night's result. I realized that I said "so" far too much, something I previously blogged about. To help myself stay on track I created an outline. It seemed to help.

Another advantage of the outline is that it helped me write this post to support the video.

Google Forms

Google Forms is part of the Google productivity suite, which includes apps for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Although not nearly as powerful as Microsoft Office, Google's productivity suite is convenient because it already uses the same account information as G-mail, Google+, and YouTube.

Google Forms provides a platform to collect and organize information for free. These forms can be used for surveys, polls, and tracking logs. You are only limited by your imagination and the technical limitations of the tool.

One of the immediate applications of interest to me was a tracking log. I have previously written about a writing project in which my goal is to write 1,000 words per day each day in 2016. I am writing in four different categories, and enter my progress each day into an Excel spreadsheet. However, with a Google Form, I can track the same information simply by entering my writing progress into a form accessible on my phone.

In the video I used the example of an exercise tracking log.

Getting Started

The first step is to access Google Forms. If you don't already have a Google Drive set up, the easiest way to locate Google Forms may be to simply search "google forms" and select the first option. Click the + to create a form.

Google Forms - create and analyze surveys, for free.
Analyze your results in Google Forms. Free from Google. Google Editors Docs Sheets Slides ... About Google Docs Google Docs; Google Sheets; Google Slides;

Another way to start a new Google Form is to go to your Google Drive home page. Click: New > More > Forms.

Enter a title and description of your form. Even if only creating the form for your own use, it is helpful to include a brief descriptions.

Adding Questions

Several different types of questions exist.
  • Multiple choice includes multiple choice where only one option is selected from displayed options, checkbox where multiple options can be selected, and dropdown, where an extra mouse click is required to display the options.
  • Free text includes short answer (one line) and paragraph (multiple lines).
  • Date/Time fields include date and time.
  • Rating scale choices are Linear (Likert) scale, for one item, and multiple choice grid, for multiple items, are also available question types, but don't seem as relevant for tracking logs. 

Setting Up Responses

In order to make a form useful, the data must go somewhere. The easiest way to configure this option is to create a new Google Sheets spreadsheet using the same name as the form. On the Responses tab is a small green button which will create a spreadsheet.

Sending the Form

Three options to send the form include sending by e-mail, copying the link, and embedding the link. E-mail is the best option to easily transfer the link from computer to smart phone.

Before configuring the form on your phone, test the form by copying the link and pasting it into a new browser tab or window. As soon as you submit the form, the data is immediately loaded in the corresponding Google Sheets spreadsheet (which you can verify by navigating to the spreadsheet).

Use on Your Phone

Open the message that you sent from the Google Forms "Send" options and click on the link. The form will open on to your phone's browser (in my case, Safari). Using the Share button, save the link to your home screen. The form will now appear as a icon (just like mail, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.).

Now, whenever you click this icon, you will be taken directly to the form.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Short Run Book Printing

This post provides links and descriptions of websites with short run book printing services.

The Purpose of Your Book

Most writers dream on phenomenal success with millions of books purchased around the world. However, from time to time, you may only want to print a small number of books to commemorate a special occasion or family event. Even printing your electronic work (blog posts, articles, etc.) as a book can be a nice way to archive your writing, both for your reference and posterity.

After a family trip to South Korea in 2012, I created a photo book. I wanted to include stories from our trip and history about the country as well as photos. The result was a book which I gave to a few select family members (who would be interested in the content). I printed a total of four book.

This past year I participated in a writing challenge. After six weeks I had finished a 60,000 word collection of stories from my family. I set it up as a book and printed two copies.

Several companies offer book printing services. Many of these expect large quantities of books. Offset printing technology has extensive costs and labor related to the setup, which is the same for 1 book or 5,000 books. However, quick printing technology can minimize many of these setup costs.

Below are two lists of printers. The companies on the first list allow you to print a minimum of one copy. The second list of companies generally require 24 or more books as a minimum.

The estimated prices are based on a 8.5-inch by 5.5-inch, 200-page book with black-and-white interior printing and a glossy color cover. All of these require a PDF of the interior pages, formatted to the selected print size, and a separate PDF of the cover, formatted to the companies specifications.

Minimum Quantity = 1

CreateSpace. Cost = $3.15 for 1 copy (This is based on proof copy of a 192-page book).
Amazon's CreateSpace website is the print brother of the Kindle e-book platform. With CreateSpace, your book is available on the platforms you select. However, just because a book is available on Amazon doesn't mean it will sell. If you have a small book project, you could  publish it through CreateSpace, and order copies as you need them.

Lulu. Cost = $3.85 for 1 copy.
I have used Lulu on multiple occasions to print small quantities of books. Lulu offers a variety of sizes, paper qualities, and cover options.

TheBookPatch. Cost = $5.95 for 1 copy.
I have not used this site. The Book Patch offers a variety of services including e-book creation, ISBNs, and author services.

Blurb. Cost = $4.25 for 1 copy.
I have not used this site. Blurb appears similar to Lulu in terms of printing options.

Minimum Quantity (approx 25)

DiggyPOD. Cost = $222.67 for 24 (9.27 per book).
48hrBooks. Cost = $226.25 for 25 (9.05 per book).
PublishingXpress. Cost = $526.22 for 25 (21.05 per book).
GorhamPrinting. Cost = $188.24 for 25 (7.55 per book).

If you or these sites find lower costs, please let me know. I was surprised to discover relatively high prices per copy on these sites.


Even if you eventually want to print several copies to sell or distribute, I still like the idea of being able to purchase one or two to check the layout. I found some sites that charge up to $80 for a proof copy of a book.

For these reasons, I will probably continue to use the companies on the first list.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit was written by Beatrix Potter in 1902. Potter incorporated Peter Rabbit into later stories as well. The Tale of Peter Rabbit is a great example for illustrating various story structure models.

Story Structure

It is helpful to utilize examples when discussing story structure. Many screenwriting, plot, and structure books use movie examples. In addition to examples of longer works, I think it is good to see how a simple, short story also fits any of the story structures. I like the Tale of Peter Rabbit because it is cute, well-known, and perfect for illustrating story structure because of the basic plot.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were--

and Peter.

They lived with their Mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir-tree.

“Now my dears,” said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, “you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor”s garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.”

“Now run along, and don’t get into mischief. I am going out.”

Then old Mrs. Rabbit took a basket and her umbrella, and went through the wood to the baker’s. She bought a loaf of brown bread and five currant buns.

Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, who were good little bunnies, went down the lane to gather blackberries:

But Peter, who was very naughty, ran straight away to Mr. McGregor’s garden, and squeezed under the gate!

First he ate some lettuces and some French beans; and then he ate some radishes;

And then, feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley. But round the end of a cucumber frame, whom should he meet but Mr. McGregor!

Mr. McGregor was on his hands and knees planting out young cabbages, but he jumped up and ran after Peter, waving a rake and calling out, “Stop thief!”

Peter was most dreadfully frightened; he rushed all over the garden, for he had forgotten the way back to the gate.

He lost one of his shoes among the cabbages, and the other shoe amongst the potatoes.

After losing them, he ran on four legs and went faster, so that I think he might have got away altogether if he had not unfortunately run into a gooseberry net, and got caught by the large buttons on his jacket. It was a blue jacket with brass buttons, quite new.

Peter gave himself up for lost, and shed big tears; but his sobs were overheard by some friendly sparrows, who flew to him in great excitement, and implored him to exert himself.

Mr. McGregor came up with a sieve, which he intended to pop upon the top of Peter; but Peter wriggled out just in time, leaving his jacket behind him.

And rushed into the tool-shed, and jumped into a can. It would have been a beautiful thing to hide in, if it had not had so much water in it.

Mr. McGregor was quite sure that Peter was somewhere in the tool-shed, perhaps hidden underneath a flower-pot. He began to turn them over carefully, looking under each.

Presently Peter sneezed--”Kertyschoo!” Mr. McGregor was after him in no time.

And tried to put his foot upon Peter, who jumped out of a window, upsetting three plants. The window was too small for Mr. McGregor, and he was tired of running after Peter. He went back to his work.

Peter sat down to rest; he was out of breath and trembling with fright, and he had not the least idea which way to go. Also he was very damp with sitting in that can.

After a time he began to wander about, going lippity--lippity—not very fast, and looking all round.

He found a door in a wall; but it was locked, and there was no room for a fat little rabbit to squeeze underneath.

An old mouse was running in and out over the stone doorstep, carrying peas and beans to her family in the wood. Peter asked her the way to the gate, but she had such a large pea in her mouth that she could not answer. She only shook her head at him. Peter began to cry.

Then he tried to find his way straight across the garden, but he became more and more puzzled. Presently, he came to a pond where Mr. McGregor filled his water-cans. A white cat was staring at some gold-fish, she sat very, very still, but now and then the tip of her tail twitched as if it were alive. Peter thought it best to go away without speaking to her; he had heard about cats from his cousin, little Benjamin Bunny.

He went back towards the tool-shed, but suddenly, quite close to him, he heard the noise of a hoe--scr-r-ritch, scratch, scratch, scritch. Peter scuttered underneath the bushes. But presently, as nothing happened, he came out, and climbed upon a wheelbarrow and peeped over. The first thing he saw was Mr. McGregor hoeing onions. His back was turned towards Peter, and beyond him was the gate!

Peter got down very quietly off the wheelbarrow; and started running as fast as he could go, along a straight walk behind some black-currant bushes.

Mr. McGregor caught sight of him at the corner, but Peter did not care. He slipped underneath the gate, and was safe at last in the wood outside the garden.

Mr. McGregor hung up the little jacket and the shoes for a scare-crow to frighten the blackbirds.

Peter never stopped running or looked behind him till he got home to the big fir-tree.

He was so tired that he flopped down upon the nice soft sand on the floor of the rabbit-hole and shut his eyes. His mother was busy cooking; she wondered what he had done with his clothes. It was the second little jacket and pair of shoes that Peter had lost in a fortnight!

I am sorry to say that Peter was not very well during the evening.

His mother put him to bed, and made some chamomile tea; and she gave a dose of it to Peter!

“One table-spoonful to be taken at bed-time.”

But Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper.



Project Gutenberg

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Weekly Update Mar 18-Apr 7

This is another "weekly update" that covers several weeks.

Blog Posts

Presentation Design: Before and After
This is a real example of how slides can be redesigned to appear more visual in nature.

Classes That Mattered
What classes from school were helpful over the years? This is my list.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
Review of How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie.

Webinar Review: Micro-Coaching
Micro-coaching takes the successful elements of formal coaching and applies them to situations where a more immediate result is needed.

Travel Math
Use, an online app to find cost estimates, distances, and information about destinations, including the closest airport.

Great Circle Mapper
This is the second in a series of posts on travel-related websites. The previous post focused on, while this post is about a fun mapping app, Great Circle Mapper.

Writing 365

I recently spent three days out of town. Unfortunately, my schedule was such that I was unable to meet my goal of writing 1,000 words per day. I still wrote some words, but fell short of the goal. However, as soon as I returned home, my output returned to the usual average of around 1,250 words per day. The dip in the chart below represents the week when I was out of town.

In my last update I shared briefly about a book project which affected my Writing 365 project. Just as I am back to reaching my daily word goal, I also am back to writing in the four categories of journal, devotional, e-book, and blog post. For the first part of the year I faithfully wrote in each category every day. As the year has progressed my focus has been on the word count, writing in journal faithfully and writing with more flexibility in the other categories. It is still early in the year (just passed the 25% mark), so my plan may continue to evolve.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Great Circle Mapper

This is the second in a series of posts on travel-related websites. The previous post focused on, while this post is about a fun mapping app, Great Circle Mapper.

In a previous post, I shared about, a research site for travel. In the post, I used examples of a few cities in the United States that share names with much larger cities around the world. A few examples with the closest airport (using Travel Math) and their sister cities are listed here:
  • Athens, Georgia (AHN) - Athens, Greece (ATH)
  • Paris, Texas (PRX) - Paris, France (CDG)
  • London, Kentucky (LOZ) - London, England (LHR)
  • Hamburg, Iowa (OMA) - Hamburg, Germany (HAM)
  • Venice, California (LAX) - Venice, Italy (VCE)

I first discovered these sites while creating a route map. I wanted to show direct flight paths between each city of origin and the destination city for a business conference. Several data mapping sites exist, but this one seems to focus more on airport and flight information.

Great Circle Mapper

According to the FAQ on the website, the primary purpose of the Great Circle Mapper is to display maps depicting the great circle path between locations and to compute distances along those paths. A great circle path is the shortest path on the surface of a sphere between two points on that sphere. Technically, the term geodesic path should be used since Earth is not a true sphere, but the great circle terminology is common usage.

I like website that get right to the point, and this is one of those. At the top of the screen is a space to type in your airport information.

Using the airport information listed above, I typed in the following:
ahn-ath, prx-cdg, loz-lhr, oma-ham, lax-vce

The result was a map of the world depicting my origin and destination points. There are four basic map available: plain, light, Facebook, and blue marble.

A variety of display options are available. For example, it is possible to display various airport information from the three letter code to city, state, and country data.

The scale of the map is determined by the starting and ending points. If you map between two airports in New York, just that region of the country will be displayed. When you map several domestic (US) points, most of the United States will display.

Additionally, you are not limited to direct flight paths. After creating the maps above, I entered in new airport information:

The resulting map is below. This is probably neither an efficient nor desirable route, but serves the purpose of illustration.

Have fun mapping!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Travel Math

Use, an online app to find cost estimates, distances, and information about destinations, including the closest airport.

There are many towns across the United States that may be diminutive in size but share names with much larger counterparts across the world. A few examples are:
  • Athens, Georgia
  • Paris, Texas
  • London, Kentucky
  • Hamburg, Iowa
  • Venice, California

What is TravelMath?

I recently came across two websites helpful for travel planning. The first site,, provides all kinds of helpful estimates, cost, and distance data for traveling between locations. describes itself this way:
  • Travelmath is an online trip calculator that helps you find answers quickly. If you're planning a trip, you can measure things like travel distance and travel time. To keep your budget under control, use the travel cost tools.
  • You can also browse information on flights including the distance and flight time. Or use the section on driving to compare the distance by car, or the length of your road trip.
  • Type in any location to search for your exact destination.

International example

Drawing from the city list above, here is information for a trip from Athens, Georgia to Athens, Greece:
  • Flight Distance: 5,629 miles / 9059 km 
  • Flight Time: 11 hours, 45 minutes 
  • Time Difference: Athens is 6 hours ahead 
  • Airports near Destination: Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos (ATH) 
  • Colleges and Universities:    Athens University of Economics and Business, Agricultural University of Athens, Panteion University, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, andUniversity of Piraeus

Domestic (US) example

Now, let's check out a trip from Paris, Texas, to London, Kentucky:
  • For domestic travel, two options (flying and driving are presented).
  • Clicking on any field (such as Driving Time) will display more detailed information.

Finding an airport

I first discovered Travel Math because I was searching for the airports closest a list of cities for a work project. Travel Math makes it easy with the Closest Airport option. Staying with the list of cities above, let's look at the airport information for Hamburg, Iowa.

For each search, three categories of airports are displayed: international, domestic, and local. For Hamburg, Iowa, the top two in each category are:

Many options available

With options for driving, distance, flying, time, costs, and places, I am certain you will find helpful resources on