What ARE Those Weirdo Midwestern Pond-Pools? And Other Aerial Arcana

One mystery solved, many to go.
James Fallows

1) Oddball Pool-Ponds. Recently I mentioned one of the "America, land of surprises" aspects of a cross-country trip by air. These, above, were a sample of the pool-ponds we saw across Ohio, in this case just outside Toledo.

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It turns out that these are a known phenomenon. Here is a brochure from Purdue about the art and science of pond construction. Sample:

Should supplemental feed be provided to the fish? (Should I feed my fish?)
•     Feeding fish is generally unnecessary for farm ponds and regular feeding can even increase nutrient levels in the pond. Therefore, fish feeding should be done in moderation, if at all.
•     Ponds that are well designed and managed should provide a healthy balance of plant (phytoplankton) and animal (zooplankton) organisms that compose a productive food web for fish and vertebrate aquatic organisms that will support a healthy population of fish.

Plus, info on the Pond Capital of Ohio. Now you (and we) know.

2) Better work by Flight Aware. I mentioned a few days ago the highly fanciful idea that Flight Aware had of one of our preceding flights. For today's journey it did quite a good job, as shown below:

Consistent with our "no difficult flying" motto for this project as a whole, the entire trip (except the first few minutes after takeoff from Holland, and occasional moments in central Illinois) was in "visual" conditions. We were being vectored around raincloud buildups, although the map makes the brush-with-danger look more immediate than it actually was. In all those ominous-looking areas around Gary and South Bend we were underneath the base of the clouds, with a clear view of the ground and the course ahead. Meanwhile we were hearing countless airliners inbound to O'Hare being piled up in holding patterns. (Look where the storms were.) Then a long sweep across Iowa toward Sioux Falls -- the switch from green line to dotted-blue is when we "cancelled IFR" and made a visual flight over scenes like the two below.

James Fallows
James Fallows

Before arriving in Sioux Falls in the midst of an air show and 1940s warbird celebration like this (complete with Glenn Miller music):

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Videos to come soon.

3) The Marketplace connection. I enjoyed doing an interview today with Kai Ryssdal, about the collaborative project we are all cooking up. I am going to take him on a Cirrus flight on Wednesday, and I look forward to seeing whether the controllers notice anything if he does the radio work.

More theory-of-Holland, plus geoblogs, tomorrow, when for the first time in a week I will be at a desk and computer most of the day.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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