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What can your story be in the United States?

7 posts categorized "Terje Trasberg"


A tour map of a mini road trip in Southern California

From LA and Venice Beach, Hermosa Beach and Universal Studios to Disney Land and San Diego Zoo parks. Then, up to Las Vegas through Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve. From Las Vegas to Grand Canyon west and Hoover Dam. And a grande finale at Mt. Baldy.

Please click the link to view the map and pictures: CLICK HERE 


Kind regards,



From New York City to New York Street

Last time I wrote something here was about hurricane Sandy and how trees fell down behind my window. Well, time has passed and I see trees through my window again. Even the window is not the same anymore. But no worries, nothing happened with the window- I relocated. I live in California now and the trees I see are mostly long palm trees.

My contract with United Nations expired in the end of January and my next internship placement is in California in Redlands, which is a town in a size of approximately Brooklyn Bridge, about an hour drive from Los Angeles Downtown.

I intern in the Education Center at ESRI Inc..  The ones amongst you, who can associate something with terms like GIS or spatial analyses, understand probably how cool I am. To the ones who need to be educated on that topic: GIS is an acronym for geographical information systems, which in simple words is computer cartography merged with statistics. Something like Google Maps and your car’s navigation system. But those two are like frozen pizza in Italian restaurant to the world of GIS. 

Following the advice heard at one of the meetings at UN (to the diplomats wanting to have a word (before lunch)): divide what you want to say into two parts and cut the ending and the beginning- here is what I do:  I work at Education and Training Center in the Content Development Team which designs the software courses for users. My job is to review and test the courses before they get posted to ESRI’s web environment or sent out to instructors. A great amount of my GIS courses at my university in Austria were also based on those courses for instance.

ESRI is the world's leading GIS software provider. It’s like Microsoft (with Apple design) for IT, or Facebook for social media or Mac Donald’s for fast food. They collaborate with various industries including Humanitarian Aid, Military, Marketing, and soo on. They also do some really cool “easy” stuff, like a project  “Storytelling with Maps” which provides everyone an opportunity to map their ideas, journeys or businesses, check out this demo video " A Map for Every Story" or play "Treasure Hunt"

Furthermore, ESRI mapping services are essential for finding the locations of their headquarters and offices around the globe, because they tend to be in the places like Mordor in Tolkien’s novels – one does not simply travel there with any reason. Like Redlands.

One week after the bootcamp course „Try to fit your life to the airline luggage limits”, I have settled in fine. With weather like this and views to mountains and palm trees, it really was not that difficult. The vicinity of LA civilization is also comforting. Biggest challenge is getting use to the laid back lifestyle and reasonable office hours. By 5pm everybody are finishing their work and heading to homes and to family- two things that people here have, but are a rarity among New Yorkers. 

To clarify the title: I lived in New York before and ESRI’s headquarter where I am now is on New York Street in Redlands, CA.

Here’s one fancy 3D tool to view ESRI Campus, (Warning: Keep in mind that 3D data is a fancy thing, takes a second to load and requires fancy hardware, in case your computer is does not qualify as fancy, opening this link might make it explode)

Esri Campus 3D model 

CityEngine, this software for 3D data viewing and editing, also belongs to ESRI, and was for example used to design the cities in the cartoon “Cars 2”.



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My Time with Sandy

I guess all the New York interns are planning to write this month’s post about Sandy, so in order to sound authentic, I must act fast.

It all started last week. First some regular American OO-MY-GAAD bad weather coming kind of news, then they cancelled presidential debates for this week and all of the sudden all the newspapers skipped the political topics (it's elections final week !) and started talking about this mad lady Sandy the Hurricane approaching East Coast. Then MTA - New York’s Subway and Bus System- announced suspension of the whole system including taxis starting from Sunday 7pm. This was the point when things got a whole lot more serious. Subway is the organ keeping New York City moving, literally- you shut down the Subway, you stop New York.

Sunday was exciting. Lazy me went to buy some orange juice from the shop and fond the whole neighborhood shopping- no, not shopping- desperately grabbing stuff. The queue was like 15 minutes, so I went with a flow and did my normal two weeks shopping that day. Bread was gone and water was almost gone by 4pm. There was a waiting line even in the bank! I guess people tried to pay off Sandy. But Sandy seems not to work for government and didn’t accept the cash.

The most curious thing about Sunday was, that the weather itself was perfectly fine, no drop of rain nor wind. Every second person in the shop kept on complaining how this all is only a nonsense, government is overreacting, etc (but then again, if so why are you here storing food like a hamster?).

On Monday morning I woke up hoping to see falling trees and flying cars. But nothing. Afternoon got a bit wilder, but not much. Actually, I did see a falling tree right behind my window, but that didn’t really shock me as I had been updating news feed of what Sandy did on the other side of the East River, like collapsing houses and flooding the streets. And yes, I did have internet as well as electricity the whole time.

Now it’s Tuesday night, work is cancelled for tomorrow too. The weather is back to normal, streets are full of people, but not so full of green trees anymore though. After stepping over of 2 or 3 fallen trees it gets boring and normal. 

I am not trying to say, that Sandy wasn’t scary. It was and it caused a lot of damaged. MTA claims that it is the biggest damage in last 108 years! According to facebook, electricity in Manhattan is down again and all the Halloween events for today are cancelled. I just happen to have this thing called luck in everything I do. I met a lady in laundry house today, who was in the middle of waching all her clothes as her roof leaked and her apartment is a pool at the moment. Ou, my window closing things also broke from the wind but our houses supervisor repaired it like in 5 minutes which is clearly too short time for a Nordic brain to react and freak out.

I am also aware that Europe is taking Sandy really seriously and you are all worried about us, but as my mom always says, if things get duff, don’t lose the sense of humor. Here some more relaxed approaches to Sandy that your news over there are most probably not sharing with you:

My favourite Sandy tracker, Broken-English-Spanish-mix-tweets:

Some of my personal favourites: 

No dancingo tango el los calles. Vamos insidero!

Los mas tranitos de subwayo necesito un week semana to que reopeño. Que walko to trabajo! Burño los caloricos!

El worsto esta overo, pero stay insidero! No vamos outsidero! 

Sandy herself also had time to share some tweets with us :

She also made some really strong political statements there : Hurricane Sandy ‏@HurrrcaneSandy 11h. LMFAO YOU THINK I'M BAD? SEE WHAT HAPPENS IF MITT ROMNEY GETS ELECTED.

or Hurricane Sandy ‏@HurrrcaneSandyI'MA BLOW ROMNEY INTO CANADA THO.

Guys at were kind enough helping to choose the right amount of wine to surive Sandy 


(from )

 And of course 9gages couldn't stay still




And some pictures by me made before storm and after storm

Some hours before Sandy hit New York


In Austria they would call it a regular Monday, here they call it emergency situation everbody must stay home day

On Monday I was watching the tree behind my window getting emptier and emptier aaand then all of the sudden the tree was gone too, and the fountain 


Maybe the reason why Sandy didn't impress me much is that she was not my first one. My first one was 12 years ago and it not only damaged my window closing button things but the whole roof of my home. See, that was my home after my first tornado in year 2000 in Rakvere, Estonia.



Stay safe and don't talk to strangers,



What do I do at work

Soo what do I do at work?

Long story short: I work at United Nations in the map department, which is responsible for all the map and GIS related products at UN Secretariat and UN Family, like maps for publication purposes or presentations or discussions in Security Council and so on.

Long story long: I work at United Nations in the Department of Field Support in the Logistic Division in the Cartographic Section in the Geo Support Unit. Questions ?  I am assuming this sentence may need some more clarification. So once again from the very beginning:

United Nations is this international organization which has 193 member states and was established in year 1945 (yes, you are correct, right after 2nd World War). Its mission is to unite the nations and support the peacekeeping and - maintaining, and then a lot of political stuff like promoting human rights and justice and so one. The organization consist of 6496326 different departments which are divided into divisions which are divided into sections which are divided into units.

Department of Field Support provides support to peacekeeping and political field missions. DFS is divided into divisions like finance, logistics, communication and technology and so on. Cartographic Section works under logistics division (no one can explain why).

So, as already mentioned, we provide UN Secretariat and Field Missions with cartographic products like maps for publications and presentation and other geographic services like map analyses and boundary projects. The Section is divided into Units. One of them is Geo Support Unit, where I work, and we support UN Secretariat, meaning the fancy people in UN offices. The other Unit - Geo Operations Unit- supports the ones who are actually on the field in Haiti or in Africa eating onions and wearing helmets.

Currently, I am working on updating Estonian and Slovenian Country Profiles. Country Profiles are used in publication and presentations not only by UN but by many academic works as well. Besides that, we are just starting to prepare the maps for the book about all the Peacekeeping Missions UN is currently involved in. The book is published by New York University and there will be a nice reception when the book is finally published soooo free food and free wine, yay.

My most interesting project at the moment is following up a request to make a research and map the border between Cameroon and Central Africa Republic according to the treaty made in year 1908. No, there are no maps what so ever existing about this treaty, and yes, the treaty document itself is in French, and no, I do not speak any - and I mean ANY- French. My big love to Google translator- he/she makes me laugh and cry like no one else those days.

Just to justify my status as an intern, from time to time I am spending days renaming files and making inventory lists or preparing the minutes of the meetings, but most of the time I am doing real things. And too much work or too many projects are not valid expressions when working under Japanese supervisor and Korean Chief :)


My workstation




New York- city which never sleeps (besides in subways)

I don’t intend to give you a lecture on how Manhattan is not the only New York and one should walk the streets of Harlem, party in Brooklyn and shop in Williamsburg’s second hands to see the real thing (but I truly believe in that, though). I just want to give you some pictures of New York way of living:

You are never alone. Grocery shopping at 2am in a local corner shop, waiting for a subway at 5am in Queens, waiting in a toilet queue in a most random hotel in Manhattan- you’ll always and always have some mates.

No high heels in Manhattan.  Samantha from Sex and the City is probably the only newyorker ever walked Manhattan streets in heels. Most ladies tip around in flip flops and change the shoes for the office. 

This city never sleeps, besides in subways. I can guarantee you that in whatever line at whatever time you find at least one newyorker taking a nap. At first, I found it funny, now I just get really annoyed of the tourists taking pictures while I am taking my nap in the subway.

Planning doesn’t work. I don’t know how many million times I have left home in the morning thinking that “yes, today I will come home directly after office hours” and then ended up in Bryant park having this “only one” wine aaand then to the concert for “just a little while” aaaand then dancing in Brooklyn in an amazing party for “only one more song”. But that’s cool and that’s New York and that’s what’s gives you much more energy to wake up next day that x-hours of sleep could ever do.

Weekday doesn’t matter. Monday, Friday and Sunday are like any other days here. You can go to the concert on Tuesday and you can have a bad bad hangover already on Friday morning. You don’t have to wait for those “special days” to feel blue or go out.

Most of the events are for free. Going out in New York is everything but cheap, but you can find a lot of good stuff for free- SummerStage and Brooklyn Celebrates concerts, Williamsburg markets, live music in Harlem lounges. One just has to invest some time in searching (or follow someone of our fabulous BAFF unofficial party planers like Maarit, Simona or Kamille.)

You will meet more foreigners than locals and broken English is the official language of this city.

There are no weird things or people. In my first days in New York I found myself staring at people in funny clothes like pink tights and blue shoes and yellow big hats, but with the time your eye gets use to that mess and on next moment you don’t even notice that the lady next to you in subway is carrying a parrot on her shoulder.

To be continued. 


First Round

I have been in New York City for about a month now. So, I am on my second round -

second subway card, second rent, second phone payment and so on. 

First round was … - well it was intense. Some things- and I really want to stress that those 

are SOME things- which I did and accomplished in this first round:

I got a room in an amazing apartment on the sunny side, and no kitschy illustration here, 

I actually do live in Sunnyside. It is a neighborhood between Queens and Manhattan- 

well connected, clean, safe and extremely boring. 

About three weeks ago, I started my internship at United Nations Cartographic Section. 

I other words, I work in a department which is responsible for ALL the UN maps- 

for UN internal use as well as for public use. Yes, from time to time I spend time in printer room, 

scanning, printing and folding maps. But as long as a task involves a word “maps”, I’m happy. 

My first weeks at UN included many briefings on different issues which UNCS has to cover. 

I also attended an international UN conference, or other words I chilled in a UN conference room 

in a comfy chair and all I could think of was "is this really happening to me". 

And in the middle of this chilling in I got a year older.


And a picture of happy BAFF NewYorkers


Stay tuned, 




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