Geographic bytes

I had my best day ever for visits to my blog, and I wasn’t even here.  Is this a hint or something?  I miss my blog friends when I am away, but spent yesterday catching up with my daughter and 3 of her 4 girls who finally managed to make the drive from the south to my home in Arlington.

One granddaughter cleaned our walkways and yard of debris from fallen branches and leaves until exhausted by the heat she came inside the COOL house and collapsed on the sofa.  The other two girls showed me photos of new boyfriends. 

My daughter mostly complained about the current administration and taxes.  I persist in telling the members of my extended family that I have not decided who I will vote for in November, although most of my family members support the Republicans, most of my friends are for Democrats.

So what helps an Independent decide??  Lies don’t help and most Independents can see through the lies.  So, stop with the negative advertising and distortion of the other guy’s position and record.  Also, if Glenn Kessler, the ‘fact-checker’ for the Post says “Liar, liar pants on fire” and gives you 4 Pinocchios for an Ad, pay attention.  I suspect most Independents read worthwhile material from both sides and lies do not persuade one to vote for the liar.


The Derecho this past weekend and the discovery of the 500 year-old map of America, got me to thinking about maps, and how storms know no boundaries.  They also always seem to blow from the ‘wicked’ West to the ‘wicked’ East like the storm in The Wizard of Oz.

The diagram below is of the movement of a derecho across the upper Midwest in the late 1990s.  

Years ago, I was “researching” John Dos Passos, The Forty-Second Parallel for my book club, and discovered he had taken his title from an idea that the 42nd parallel ran across the US, which it does. In his novel, Dos Passos’ characters blow across the country like tumbleweeds from California to Washington DC (Georgetown). 

The 42nd parallel does not cross Washington DC however. It is:

1/ the boundary more or less between Pennsylvania and New York;

2/the northern boundary of Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming;

3/the boundary between Idaho and Nevada, and Idaho and Utah; and,

4/the boundary between California and Oregon.  It was also the line the Vatican set for the northernmost reach of the Spanish Empire as it corresponded with the northern boundary of Spain.


Between 1763-67 two surveyors named Mason and Dixon drew a line between the colonies of Maryland and Pennsylvania to settle a land dispute.  Used later in the Missouri Compromise, the line became the basis of the slave and non-slave states or North and South.  The Southern states took their collective name from one of the surveyors and hence the name”Dixie” from Jeremiah Dixon.  Although the exact truth is unknown, the Mason-Dixion line lies along the 39th parallel, north of Washington DC and south of the 42nd parallel. It is also the boundary between Delaware and Maryland, so it runs South for a bit. 

When the founders situated their new Capital they called on George Washington, retired Army surveyor and Mason, who placed the site on the Potomac River near Georgetown, just up river from his plantation at about the 38th parallel.  

Parallel is another name for latitude.  Some authors like Dan Brown speculate that a “Rose line” runs longitudinally through the city, hence the name Roslyn for one of the urban villages in Arlington along this line.  Arlington is the missing part of the original 16 mile square intended for the capitol city.


 I became interested in geography as a child when my parents gave me map puzzles to work, and Dad gave me a map to mark all the places we lived and visited.  He also let me navigate when I traveled with him, so I learned to read road maps at an early age (hence my hatred of GPS systems). 

 The photo above appeared in “The Changing Face of America” in The Nation’s Business (July 1984) published by the National Chamber of Commerce.  The article examined the new economic branch of Business Demography.  Although it is old news now, there was a time when demographics were a “new” thing.

My love of maps has continued throughout my life and I found ways to use it at work.  My corporation was the first to develop digitized boundary maps of service areas, and link these maps to demographic profiles of market areas, a practice considered a common practice today for all forms of political and economic activity. Our digitized maps were used by the government to break up the Bell System.

At the Census Bureau, I worked on population estimates which involved city, state and local boundaries throughout the US and its territories.  In several different jobs I worked on migration issues which involved state and national boundaries.

My greatest lesson  learned from all these years of work = all boundaries, especially those which divide people ideologically, are human constructs and as such are subject to change.   

14 thoughts on “Geographic bytes

  1. I know I’m repeating myself but always love the pictures and the history/geography/ philosophy lessons. You are a most interesting person!


  2. What neat family you have to help you with the clean up. Kudos.
    Interesting about the origin of “Dixie”. I did not know that.
    What a great picture of you and how neat that your grands can see you as someone young and vital. To them, we have always been old and pics like that let them see us differently.


  3. Ah, yes, very attractive gal in the photo. Wish I’d had more taken of me when I was in my twenties and in some of the smart clothes I was wearing then — only in my memories now, and with my husband and so many others gone, no one left who remembers. Even the TV tapes got erased.

    My MIL loved to “read” maps. My husband also loved to read maps and plan our driving vacations, trips cross country using the Atlas. He didn’t welcome turning over that fun activity for him to AAA when our dtr thought he’d want to get their trip tiks.


  4. I have had pictures of me in the newspaper also, whenever my columns were published. Not very flattering, either, I might add. Ah, well, I was never photogenic. Yes, that is a great photo of you at work. As Mage said, it’s a keeper.

    For all your map reading capabilities, I’ll bet you’ll get lost trying to find my house in Hawaii, the reason being the street name turns into a different name without there being a cross street.


  5. Lovely photograph of you. That’s a keeper. Yes, the left has more fun, but there is nothing fun in politics any more in my mind. How wonderful to be able to spend time with family like that. You remind me that I need to call mine this holiday.

    The OB parrots have decided to live in the trees out side our bedroom windows this summer. I think of you now every morning and night. LOL


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