January 12, 2022

Just bought a used Xbox Series X from a friend. Tonight I zoned out a bit with Microsoft Flight Simulator. They incorporate a ton of satellite data - a bit like that 3D view trick Apple Maps can do that turns your neighborhood into a rotatable SimCity.

Started with the NYC tour (which is a city I'm reasonably familiar with the layout of) but then went (by futuristic Drone-y helicopter) to my house in Arlington. Things are garbled that close up but I could certainly make out this place and land in the empty lot across. (Also, interesting that the Boston seaport info is way out of date- there were still big parking lots instead of the tallish buildings that are there now.)

I also checked out my mom and Aunt's place in Ocean Grove, NJ - it's kind of cool how all this navigation takes a bit of landmark reckoning - cities have thumbtacks in the view, AR-wise, but to narrow it down to a street, you have to know the place. Oh and I saw Cleveland next to good ol' Lake Erie (next time I should go for Burke Lakefront instead of Hopkins...)

I went to some other places - the pyramids of Egypt (first time I really got a sense of the layout of those and the sphinx), Tokyo, Paris, London. (Weirdly the London Eye is not really in the game, somehow compressed to be under the surface of the Thames) For those places I've been lucky enough to visit, it gave me a dual twinge of sorrow - both that we've been pretty isolated for so long, and then for the people I saw those places with I'm no longer connected to.

Does it sometimes seem weird to anyone that, on a world with seven and a half billion people, a random individual can stand some place semi-famous? Like there's only one Westminster Abbey, it's a singular location that a lot of people around the world know of, yet... I was there once, me, as one of the 7.5 billion. (Along with millions of other tourists... Or even local stuff, there's only one Boston Common, yet some years I'm definitely the one tuba player throughout the world who showed up to the most protests there. (Yeah, I know there's a heavy Western bias here, that folks in Asia or Africa don't know Boston Common from beans, and China has a dozen cities bigger than NYC even of which I know like 3 or 4, but still.)