One trip I make often is the one from the east coast (Maryland or New York) to Arizona, where much of my family lives. The second leg – either from Chicago or Dallas-Fort Worth – always amazes me. Below, I see farmland neatly divided into squares, and rectangles, inset with circles. It’s beautiful geometry. Or we fly over the Sierra Nevada mountains, and I watch the desert mount itself into snowy peaks, with a faint trace of a road meandering through them. Once, when I flew into Chicago, it was the night before the Fourth of July, and I could see tiny white explosions of light pinpricking the ground below me in Smalltown America, like fallen stars. Flying into a Caribbean Island, I’ve seen the azure blue and cobalt shadows in the ocean below me. These moments are amazing and I treasure them.
Now, imagine that you could see something like that every time you open a new tab. That is the Earth View extension in Google Chrome, which shows you fabulous places all over the world, as taken by satellites.
Sometimes they are mundane – oh hey, Las Vegas. But more often, they are fantastic, incredible (I mean that in the literal sense) portraits of exotics places: deserts, mountains, river systems, sparsely populated regions cloaked in nature’s most glorious features, or else testaments to humankind’s capacity for creating beautiful destruction.
They often make me pause and prompt questions. What kind of purpose do those turquoise squares of liquid serve? Is that a strip mine? Is that pollution and toxic runoff, or just mineral-colored mud washing out to the ocean from a pristine desert? What is it like to be there, on the ground?
I’ve taken to writing down my favorites. I’m hoping to get one made into a print to hang above my couch as the most beautiful artwork.
I am amazed several times a day that these places exist on our planet. And when the occasional suburb does make an appearance, it only serves to underscore the the sad fact of our capacity to take amazing things and render them useful and productive, but very un-beautiful.
Anyway, I suggest you get this extension, because it can only serve to bring a little dose of wonder into your workday.