Questions from the Swarm

On May 29, 2014 · 0 Comments

Regular visitors to Twelve Mile Circle may want to skip the article today. I don’t discuss anything geographic. Also there’s nothing mentioned that hasn’t been revealed within these pages previously, the only difference being that every item has now been collected into a single spot. See you in a couple of days.

For the rest of you:

I get questions about the site from curious people spread throughout the Intertubes. Lots of visitors arrive at 12MC unexpectedly as a result of some esoteric query entered into a search website. They’re surprised that someone has actually written an article on their curious topic. I know! Crazy. Who would write an article about Pre-Nazi Swastika Architectural Details?

Admittedly, my About 12MC page isn’t very helpful. Viewers want to know more and I do my best to oblige when they contact me by email. I’ve collected some of the more common questions and made up some others, so now I can both add a link to "About 12MC" and send people here directly instead of answering each question individually. I hope to update this post over time, too.

Let’s begin.

Why haven’t I heard of this site before? Topics here appeal to a small niche of dedicated people. Chances are, those who have an interest in weird geography discovered this site a long time ago. Seriously, I might select almost any other topic in the world and it would have a larger audience. Major search engines work on popularity and send more visitors to popular pages. It’s a vicious cycle. Popularity breeds greater popularity. Obscurity breeds greater obscurity. New readers won’t encounter 12MC unless they happen to hit an exact combination of words or phrases in their search query. I imagine more regular readers (vs. one-and-done readers) probably got here originally through referrals; those rare occasions when 12MC happened to earn a mention on a more popular website.

Why aren’t you trying harder to make 12MC more popular? I don’t need it to be more popular. I write Twelve Mile Circle for myself, about topics that interest me. I’m glad that others seem to enjoy things I feature and I appreciate the collegial, interactive dialog in the comments. I could write about celebrity gossip or cuddly kittens if it were all about the numbers.


U.S. Counties Larger than Rhode Island
Frequently Stolen Without Attribution

Well, maps are really popular on the Internet and they seem to fit the 12MC subject matter, right? Why not focus there? That’s true. They get lots of retweets. Aggregator websites love them. Sometimes they even make the mainstream press. In fact, I have made maps and some of them went (quite mildly) viral. The dirty little secret is that aggregators use these maps as free content, often avoiding even the barest veneer of attribution, and then reap the results. The person who created the map gets crumbs if he’s lucky.

How do you come up with topics? I keep an eye out for things that seem like they might be interesting as I go about my day and I record them on a spreadsheet. It’s that simple. Oftentimes I’ll write an article that leads to two or three additional topics I hadn’t considered before. Readers make a lot of suggestions, too. Inspiration come from a variety of sources.

Such as stories that are big in the news?. No, not really. Plenty of sites do that already. I don’t like writing something unless I think I can add value to the conversation. Anybody can regurgitate the latest "fascinating" map or geographic feature making the rounds on the Intertubes that day.

Why aren’t there more genuinely unusual geographic oddities on the site anymore? Honestly, there are a limited number of quality oddities. I’m above a thousand articles into this now. I’ve noticed a shift in my writing over the years. Articles used to be brief and focused specifically on geographic features, and the more the unusual the better. Now articles are much longer and go into greater detail, generally with an historical context along with the geographical. They take longer to research and write, and I learn a lot more from them (which is a major reason why I publish this site to begin with). My undergraduate degree was in history, another great interest of mine, so that probably explains part of the gradually changing emphasis too.



Kentucky Bend

You don’t have an article on {a glaringly obvious Geo-Oddity}. Why not? I’ve become very selective as I’ve drawn-down on the list of noteworthy geo-oddities. I’m probably waiting for my opportunity to visit the feature in person. For example, Kentucky Bend / Bubbleland remained mostly unmentioned on 12MC for several years until I visited it in person during my Riverboat Adventure. I was well aware of its existence and I chose to ignore it on these pages it until the appropriate moment.

When will you run out of ideas? I don’t know. My spreadsheet always seems to have about a hundred topics on it, year-after-year. I’m not in any danger of hitting the end of the list anytime soon. I’ll keep writing as long as I’m learning new things and I’m continuing to enjoy the process.

Are you from Delaware? Ah, you made the connection between the Twelve Mile Circle and Delaware. Actually no, I’m not from Delaware nor have I ever lived there although I do travel there fairly regularly. I simply liked the idea of an arc as a border. Also I think Delaware may have more geo-oddities per square mile than just about any other place. Something like West Cornerstone may have been a more appropriate name geographically, now that I think about it. Then the site would have to be abbreviate as WC instead of 12MC and that wouldn’t be good.

Why are comments moderated? Because of blog spam. The beauty of a niche website like 12MC is that I can institute 100% comment moderation and never get overwhelmed by the workload. A comment won’t sit in the queue for more than a few hours at most.

I’m working on {a puzzle, an Internet contest, homework, etc…}. Can you help me? Probably not. I might reply if I know the answer immediately and it requires a sentence or less. Otherwise I’ll hit delete and move on with my life. Researching my own questions takes up enough of my free time.

Can I offer topic suggestions? Of course. Many of them will end up as short topics on my occasional "Odds and Ends" articles, with credit to the submitter. Some suggestions are particularly outstanding and end-up worthy of an entire article.

Do you accept guest posts?. I’ve featured a handful of guest posts on exceptional topics from longtime, loyal readers. They’ve been fantastic. I’d be reluctant to accept guest posts that didn’t rise to that very stringent standard. I would never accept a post from a marketing company.

Why does 12MC have advertisements. To pay for web hosting. Anything extra goes towards further geo-oddity adventures.

What if I have other questions? Please submit a comment. I’ll update the page if I like it.

Geography

Under Announcements | Taged ,

On Hiatus

On April 13, 2014 · 0 Comments

The Twelve Mile Circle will take a little break while I’m collecting new material during the Riverboat Excursion. The driving distances are too great and the number of sites visited too numerous to do them justice in a bunch of rushed articles written from the road. Be assured, I’m gathering great stuff and the wait will be worth it.

In the meantime feel free to follow along in near-real-time with the raw material I’ve been posting to other accounts. These will form the basis of new articles upon my return:

  • The 12MC Twitter Site. I keep forgetting to add as I go although I do catch up eventually.
  • My personal Flickr page. Scores of new photos being added here at the end of each day.
  • The County Count. You may be able to spot subtle differences as I add new counties.

New articles will resume Sunday, April 20.

The Pitch

On April 10, 2014 · 2 Comments

A long-term member of the 12MC community and I were discussing dream jobs lately, ones that combined our slightly obsessive-compulsive list-making tendencies with our respective divergent interests. Mine focused on geographic and historical oddities of multiple flavors tied together with a healthy string of County Counting progressions. The trick, as we thought about it, was to find a way for someone else to finance our peculiarities and allow us to pursue our hobbies professionally. I couldn’t find a feasible solution for my personal situation at the time although I have one now. I simply needed to add my fondness for trashy television to the mix.

Right, it would have to be a pseudo-reality show where I’d travel the countryside in a customized RV, pursing all 3,142 counties and county-equivalents, stopping at geo-oddities while providing historical context, and meeting interesting characters along the way. I’m thinking it would be targeted at the History Channel or its ilk. It might be an amalgamation of How the States Got their Shapes combined with American Pickers and maybe Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy.

I’d need a clever title. "County Counter" might be sufficient. It’s short. It’s descriptive. I think it needs a pun though, and maybe even a double entendre with a salacious second meaning that arouses curiosity and builds an initial audience. Suggestions are welcome.

I’d also need a logline. "Traveling through hidden corridors in pursuit of the real American; one man’s quest to explore the story behind every U.S. county." That’s not catchy enough. I need to find a better hook.

Then I’d need to film a pilot episode. Actually, that already began. I wrote this article in advance and set it to post on Thursday evening thanks to the magic of WordPress software. I’m already on the road heading towards the Riverboat Marathon Series. I’m not a runner, just a driver delivering a runner from site-to-site. Last year I drove between sites at the Dust Bowl Marathon Series and had a wonderful set of adventures (beginning here). One participant even self-published a book about the races. I made a minor appearance as a character known as "Beer Geek." Imagine that.

This is the basic route for the Riverboat Series. Well, not Graceland. I threw that one onto the end for my own enjoyment.



The Basic Route

I appreciated the ideas and suggestions provided by the 12MC audience and some of those will happen during the trip. I’ve done a lot of research and believe everyone will be pleased with the itinerary and the geo-oddity surprises that are likely to unfold in these pages over the next several days. Readers who are anxious to learn the plotline and maybe a few spoilers in near real-time should follow the 12MC Twitter Page (you don’t have to subscribe to Twitter; you can check that link manually). Tweets may have already begun. I guess. I can’t be certain because I wrote this days ago. Certainly I would have tweeted something by now.

I’m not fooling anyone and I don’t plan to quit my day job. My wife has stated on multiple occasions that if I want to travel full-time by RV and become a professional County Counter that it would have to be done with my NEXT wife. Point taken. For the sake of family harmony I hereby release my idea for a television pitch to the public domain. If one of you actually makes it happen, all I request in return is a nice brewpub dinner. Oh, and mention 12MC in the credits. And maybe a guest appearance.

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12 Mile Circle:
An Appreciation of Unusual Places
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