The View From Your Window Game, Ctd


A reader writes:

I do this ALL THE TIME.  I avert my eyes after clicking on the link in the RSS reader because the caption always shows before the pic. When in my peripheral vision I can see that the image is loaded, then I look and try to guess. I too am getting pretty good. Maybe hit it in the general region 70% of the time, though I have been known to confuse Shanghai with NYC.

Okay. So the first contest is the above window view. You have till noon tomorrow to guess it. Country first, then extra points for city and/or state. If we have a tie, the time will count. Obviously, the sender – and his or her family/friends – cannot enter. So be a sport and don’t. Another writes:

FWIW, I got Alaska from yesterday. The telephone pole looked like the standard American issue. From there, the ice was a giveaway. It’s been neat to realize how much visual information our brains register without our knowing it — looking at an anonymous photograph for clues and cues draws them into consciousness. There’s no mistaking a Chinese apartment block, for example, nor an American backyard.


I’m glad to know I’m not the only dweeb out there doing this.


I do it all the time.  Sometimes I’m stunningly close; often I’m literally half a world away. Incidentally, my all-time personal favorite came a few months ago when I sent a View From Your Window link to my daughter, since I knew it was taken at her college.  It turned out to be a View of Her Window, across the small courtyard of her dormitory.  How fun is that?


This is about the coolest idea you’ve had in some time, especially for those of us who would love a copy of the book but are sending two young’uns to daycare and therefore are too frugal to pony up. I’d recommend “closest to the pin” — i.e., give country, state, and town.  If you post a pic from Raleigh, NC, and nobody submits Raleigh, the winner should be the person who guesses Durham as opposed to, say, Charlotte.

So have at it. By noon tomorrow. Put “VFYW Contest” in the content line of the email.

The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #1


A reader writes:

I’ve been doing this for as long as I remember, and I’m pretty good.  But did you have to start with such a difficult and ugly picture? There are few clues in this one. I’d say it’s a view from a drug rehab halfway house in Texas or Oklahoma. Pretty cool that the inhabitant reads your blog.

We know our base. Another writes:

Canada, Newfoundland, St. John’s. Why? Assuming this photo was recently taken.  Buildings, windows, fence and trees look North American.  Flora seems to be more Atlantic side than Pacific.  Deciduous trees in background don’t have leaves.  Looks like there had been a lot of snow.  Has to be pretty far north.


The foliage looks sparse and bare, which leads me to believe that it was taken in the Southern Hemisphere – I’m guessing Victoria, Australia. That, or some drought-affected part of Central California!


The Faroe Islands. Reason: probably a high latitude judging by sky and shadow. Ivy on tree suggest north western Europe to me. No leaves on trees means far north.


Saskatchewan, Canada is my vote.  My first thought was the U.S. or Australia, but then I realized that it could be Canada as well; it’s a country with *room*.  The still-bare branches with short grass just sprouting up argue for a north-temperate zone location which favors Canada.  Of course, it could be Alaska or Russia but I’m sticking with Canada.  Europe is out.


Bratislava, Slovakia?


American window latch, American fencing and roofing. But not many leaves on those trees: either a drought or somewhere still very cold. Big prairie clouds. Pollarded tree, but a big one. I know that only from the US South. (Pollarded trees in France are smaller, garden size, not some huge pin oak or red or silver maple.) Texas? Argentina? Manitoba? But also a place with a Dish reader! Let’s say Stillwater, Oklahoma.


I’m guessing West Virginia.  The trees seem east coast US-y to me, and the locking system on the window looks comfortingly familiar.  Specifically West Viriginia, I’m sad to say, because the photo gives a sense of an area hard on its luck.


Spokane, Washington?  Pretty sure this is the States. This could be anywhere from Idaho to Nebraska to Maine I reckon. I figured I’d guess my home town since it was the first contest, and that is exactly where it reminded me of.

And then the paydirt:

Looks like my grandma’s backyard. Houses that look like sheds, signs of year-round drought, and Georgia O’Keeffe clouds gotta be Albuquerque, NM … no?

Close – Farmington, New Mexico, 4 pm. Española was the closest answer, submitted first by a reader with the initials P.L. – congrats!  And thanks to the hundreds of readers who participated. Shall we do this weekly?

The View From Your Window Contest, Ctd

First a word from the winner, P.L.:

This is the proudest moment of my life!  I’d like to thank my aunt (N.L), who lives in Santa Fe, and took me road trips in Northern New Mexico as a child. I’d also like to thank Amtrak. And of course the Daily Dish for such a fun game.

Another reader writes:

Yes! Let’s play this weekly. I would prefer it to be on a Tues, Wed or Thur. Monday is always busy trying to see what blew up over the weekend and Friday is filled with thoughts of the weekend and wrapping up projects. Midweek can be boring and a distraction is needed.


Ok, so I was a gajillion miles off with Durban, South Africa, but please, yes, let’s do this weekly.


YES YES and more YES. I especially loved reading the Sherlock Holmesian renditions of how people got to their often-wrong answers. And what a nice diversion from Oil Spills, Flotilla Massacres and our fave fan, Sarah.


I say no. 

I’m always surprised – pleasantly – by the effect the VFYW photographs have on me. The simple, typically non-stunning photographs make me pause and consider how big the world is, how small the world is, and not necessarily where I fit in but that I do fit in. I like that, and don’t want that experience diluted by thinking about contests, clues, and analysis.


I missed the guessing window for your first “contest.” But, having just returned from the Four Corners area a few weeks ago, the dry shrubby vista put me immediately in mind of northern New Mexico. Good one. Could you be so kind as to ask the photographer if s/he has any good shots of the awesome local Muffler Man, wearing blue scrubs and a stethoscope, atop some random retail building on Farmington’s main drag?  I lost my vacation pix and it breaks my heart to have lost that one.

This photo from Farmington is by Deanna Nichols. Her Flickr caption:The Big Man on Flickr - Photo Sharing!_1276114484351

Apparently this was not originally Paul Bunyan, but a Muffler Man. While the arm position was originally developed for Paul Bunyan holding the axe–subsequent fiberglass “Big Men” were holding mufflers and other objects. The arm position was the same because the company just used the same mold.

See more of Deanna’s work here. Another writes:

I see now why I lost. Though my guess of Durango, CO was about 125 miles closer to the mark than was the winner’s, the rules state:  “Country first, then extra points for city and/or state.”

In the spirit of Armando Galarrago, I’ll accept my loss gracefully. However, I’d like to suggest that you amend the rules so that the reader whose guess is the closest in distance wins.  Borders are somewhat arbitrary, particularly with respect to this game.  There are no visual clues about borders; we must glean the location from the flora, fauna, architecture, etc. illustrated in the photo.  Each of these characteristics tends to be shared among people who live near one another, without regard to the state or country in which they live.

Another answers this legitimate concern for us:

Yes to the contest, if you guys can handle going through all hundreds of the answers!


This is excellent fun. I vote for daily. Get an intern to do it.

If we had an intern, we would (but we may get some desperately-needed help very soon). My dictatorial compromise: we’ll post the contest on Saturday and run the results on Tuesday.

The VFYW Contest: Winner #2


A reader writes:

Not sure about this, but I think this is Honolulu, Hawaii – either toward the Moilili/University side where it’s sparser, or toward the Ala Moana Park side … sort of where Waikiki peters out?  Clouds are right, it’s the right place for the setting of the winter sun, and the buildings are all relatively early postwar.

Another writes:

I’m an architect, and the view from this particular window looks just like my stay several years ago in a Singapore Public Housing Estate. Judging by the location of the setting sun, I’d say Choa Chu Kang district.


I know it’s at the beach, and since I’m hoping January is a hint, I’m going to say somewhere warmer and where people flock for the summer. I have a 50/50 shot of getting sunrise or sunset right, so I’m going with sunrise, because the sky seems too orange to me. I guess my guess will be Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.


Looks to me like Tehran, Iran – north side of Elahiyeh facing south.


I’m gonna take a leap of faith and assume your reader is more likely to catch the sunset than the sunrise, so that means we’re looking at a western-facing beach.  Obviously tropical or subtropical, as indicated by the palm trees.  Architecture and surroundings are all pretty tidy-looking, ruling out most developing-country beach cities, which tend to have a fair share of grit.  Beach looks pretty straight and wide-open, meaning it’s not in a bay.  Shall we say Naples, Florida?


Looks like Communist architecture. Sofia, Bulgaria?


This one is too hard. If it is the evening, it could be Toronto, facing South to Lake Ontario. They have a lot of those Soviet-looking residential buildings, but the waterfront doesn’t look right.  It could be Odessa, Ukraine. What the hell, Toronto.  No, Odessa.  Odessa is my guess.


High rise concrete block apartments, looks like Communist architecture, so somewhere in the former Warsaw Pact or Soviet Union.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say Tallinn, Estonia.


St. Petersburg, FL?


The construction looks cheap and dated, but there is a beach. Manilla, Philippines?


Decidedly North American, but I’m guessing not US. The bland color of the lake behind the buildings seems oddly Canadian to me. I’m guessing Toronto.


Buildings look South American, and for some reason that feels like a sunset over the ocean.  Let’s go Valparaiso, Chile.


That definitely looks European to me, and not Western.  I see water, so that should narrow it down a bit.  I’m torn between Croatia (perhaps Split?) and something a little more mainstream, such as Athens.  Final Answer: Athens.


Spain, Canary Islands, Tenerife, Santa Cruz de Tenerife?


This is hilarious. Back in the pre-contest days, I would flippantly zero my eyes in on the new image, avoid the caption and pretty instantly come up with a winning guess. I figured I was at least partially right 70-80% of the time. Let’s say I graded on a curve and felt pretty smug about my VFYW-dar.

Now for the humiliating part. I initially had no impulse about this city. Too many clouds for the Persian Gulf. Not the usual US architecture. Vaguely east-Asian? Sunrise or sunset? Should be an easy guess if you’ve been there. I studied it some more. The main body of water (what looks like the ocean), the inland channel or river to the left, the low-slung apartment architecture, the clouds … WTF: Miami Beach, FL.


Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 7.15 am, on January 12, 2010.

Seventeen of the nearly 600 entries guessed correctly, but the first to do so came from reader E.G., who wrote:

As a frequent visitor to the east coast of Florida, I would have to guess the view of aging mid-rise condos looking out to the sea was in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I am also inclined to believe this is Ft. Lauderdale since you probably have a large number of gay readers from that area.

It was a tough one, we know. We love this contest. Every Saturday?

The VFYW Contest, Ctd

Some flesh on the bones of our decision not to change the VFYW daily posts. One writes:

Please do not post the “where and when” for non-contest photos after the jump. I love VFYW and the contest, but once a week is good enough. It remains fresh this way. I enjoy the daily views, but part of the enjoyment of reading your blog is the ability to skim through quickly and grab what information I desire. But I’ll quickly grow disinterested in VFYW if you make me read the jump every time.

Another writes:

I prefer it the old way. The drop-down option would be a great alternative.


Please go back to the old way.  I think we all can use our vertical scroll bars to prevent us from seeing the location.  I really, really don’t want to click again on the blog more than I have to, especially since The Atlantic has added those motion-filled ads in the upper right.  Those have really slowed down the loading of the blog for me.


VFYW is one of my favorite parts to your blog and I just take simple joy in looking at the picture and noting the location. While I wouldn’t want to deny anybody from “playing the game,” I know I probably won’t click through (as your site for some reason is slow going in my office), so my experience of VFYW diminishes somewhat by burying the location.


Click throughs = annoying

We’ll keep pushing for the drop-down option.

The VFYW Contest: Winner #3


A reader writes:

So those pretty unique mountain formations immediately make one think of Southern China or Vietnam. But seeing as I’m getting to this particular contest 24 hours late and many guesses that fall within China and Vietnam have probably already been submitted, I think my best bet of winning this book is to cross my fingers and hope this was taken somewhere else in the region. It’s clearly an urban space, blue bus public transportation and all. I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and say Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Another writes:

I believe this one is from Rio de Janeiro. Or, perhaps to be more precise, Niteroi, Brazil (which lies across the bay from Rio). I believe I can see the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer in one of the mountains.


I first saw AC units like that in China, so I’m thinking it’s there, and likely in the southern part of the country. A bit of a stab in the dark, but Suzhou? (Looking forward to laughing in a couple of days when I find out I guessed the wrong continent.)

Right continent. Another:

The hills in the background of the photo remind me of the ones in coastal southwestern Turkey (but they also remind me of China, so who knows).  I’m going to guess Fethiye, Turkey for the heck of it – also because the white building on the right also reminds me of Turkish construction.


This is clearly China.  The mountains in the background are a dead giveaway. I am amused at myself for recognizing this based on Art History classes in Chinese landscape painting from many, many years ago.  Beyond that I need to guess; I pick Huangshan.

Warm. Another:

I’m probably the hundredth person to guess this, but Vietnam, Halong Bay?  (Beautiful place, but the tourist scene is out of control and really detracts from the experience. Still, it’s a must if you’re ever in Vietnam. It really is one of the wonders of the world.)

About 20 people did guess Halong Bay, but no dice. Another:

I think this may be Guilin, China. I went there on holiday with my family when I was 14 (am now 21). A guy in our group had been there in the ’70s and remembered local people holding their children up to the window of the restaurant he was eating in. They’d never seen a white man before. If it’s not Guilin, then this little story is fairly pointless. Still, beats looking out of my own window in Abingdon, UK. Industrial estates leave much to be desired.

Guilin is getting warmer. Another:

This is most likely spectacularly wrong, but the only place I’ve ever seen the shape of mountains like those is Jackson Hole, WY.  So that’s my guess:  Jackson Hole, WY.

Spectacularly wrong. This reader nails it down:

Is it Yangshuo, China?  If it is, it took only one guess (China) and one Google image search (chinese mountains) to get it right.  Thank Google!

About 50 readers also got Yangshuo (a third of the 600 entries correctly guessed Guilin, but Yangshuo is the more specific political division). The first reader to do so was D.I., who wrote:

Yangshuo in Guilin Province, China, on the Li River. Just a guess based on the karst mountains.

Another reader explains:

Rain water and ground water are slightly acidic and will dissolve carbonate rocks. In Missouri, we get caves. In China, it results in spectacular pinnacles.

Congrats to D.I.!  Next contest goes up Saturday at noon.