The Twelve Mile Circle now has Twitter presence. I began a soft launch with 12MC’s Google+ followers two weeks ago so I could work out the details. I’m now able to post a variety of ways including by mobile phone, and I’ve successfully posted a photo from that source as well. I’m ready to take the next step and open this account to the general public. I do want to take a moment to recognize my Google+ circle — yes, I have a Twelve Mile Circle circle — for bearing with me while I worked out all of the peculiarities on my end. Thank you all for helping me with the launch.
You can find the 12MC Twitter feed at TheReal12MC.
There’s a whole story behind that account name. Obviously lots of names were unavailable because I came to the party so late. This included the existence of a musical group called Twelve Mile Circle. I first floated the Twitter idea about a year ago and loyal reader Greg posted a prescient comment: "It looks like twitter.com/TheReal12MC is available." There you go Greg, you get full credit for naming the 12MC Twitter site.
WordPress software allows an author to select the date and time and article will post to the Internet. I wrote this article on Thursday evening. Right now — if you’re reading this article the day it posts — it’s Sunday. I am on the road somewhere within the vicinity of Dust Bowl on my way to Dalhart, Texas. I have embarked upon the Dust Bowl trip that I’ve been talking about since August.
View Dust Bowl Destinations in a larger map
Why does that matter? Other than it’s totally cool and I’ve been planning it for months? Because I wanted to time the Twitter rollout with the trip so I could live tweet from the road. Expect a steady stream of random observations and blurry photographs all week long (March 18-22, 2013). Follow along while I provide commentary from a different state for five straight days. That’s your incentive to head over to Twitter right away and start following TheReal12MC. I’m probably already tweeting.
Let me shift topics just a little to comment on Google Reader. I think many of us were taken by surprise when Google announced their plan to shut down Reader on July 1, 2013. This situation has not been resolved as of the time I write this (on Thursday). It’s possible that Google may have had a change of heart when this posts on Sunday, or a better RSS reader alternative may have emerged. A huge number of 12MC readers follow this site on Google Reader. I use it myself to keep track of dozens of geo-geek sites so I face the same dilemma. I can say with certainty that the Twelve Mile Circle will continue to publish an RSS feed as long as people are able to read it, regardless of whether Google Reader exists or not.
I will also try to figure out other simple, reliable, convenient ways to share content with you. I guess I’m fortunate with the coincidental timing of my Twitter rollout because that’s one avenue the Intertubes are suggesting. G+ may figure into this too. Maybe Reddit would be another path. I will also explore whether I can set up an email subscription option. Your ideas and suggestions for sharing 12MC content in a world without Google Reader would be much appreciated.
Longtime readers may recall my fascination with people who come to the Twelve Mile Circle, click on the search box on the upper-right corner of the page and then search the word "search." I don’t pretend to understand the logic although I’ve come to accept it. There is an odd chink in the human psyche that compels people from all backgrounds, experiences and locations to want to search specifically for appearances of the word "search" on 12MC. I stand by my original theory that they want to see how the feature works and they use the default already suggested by the page. Maybe I should test the theory — change it to banana and see if banana takes off?
Brush all of that aside, though. I was curious to see what search terms other than search (by far the most popular) seemed to resonate with visitors. Here are the Top 15 terms that people actually took the time and effort to type into the 12MC search bar over the last year, in order of popularity:
- Time Zone
- Smallest County
I am favorably impressed by the list, especially with exclave leading the way and tombolo in the top tier. That makes me happy. It does seem to have a U.S. Great Plains flavor to it too with Kansas, Dakota, Oklahoma and cornfield making appearances.
I’ve tried to incorporate multiple ways for people to find topics on the site. It might have been more efficient for a hypothetical visitor to select Canada as a category (89 articles currently with that tag) instead of searching on it, or to use the complete index map to hone in on some or all of those U.S. Great Plains states more efficiently, however not everyone searches the same way so I like to offer options.
Some searches are so broad it’s hard to imagine the results were even remotely effective. This morning, for example, I noticed that someone searched on the term "unusual." Well, 12MC is nothing but one big collection of unusual. The motto — An Appreciation of Unusual Places — appears on every single page. I’m not sure what they expected to find beyond a whole lot of what they were already reading.
I don’t know where I’m going with this other than to note my oddball fascination with other peoples’ interests and habits as they comb through the site’s pages.
Has anyone else ever thought that Wawa was a really strange name for a chain of gas station / convenience stores? Maybe not. It appears to be a U.S. mid-Atlantic plus Florida thing, which I didn’t realize until I went onto their website and noticed their limited geographic reach. I thought they were more national given their carpet-bomb saturation level of advertisements. Alright, so I guess this topic will only interest the 12MC audience from Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The rest of you can skip down to the next section where I have some burning questions for you.
View Larger Map
I had two theories. My initial thought turned to geography. [sarcasm alert] You’re shocked, I know.
I was thinking maybe it was an abbreviation for Walla Walla, Washington? That theory dissipated after I learned that the nearest Wawa was an entire continent away. My second thought was maybe it had a cute kid tie-in (Wawa sounds a lot like a toddler asking for a glass of water). Certainly there’s precedence for an owner’s child influencing the name of a commercial establishment. The Wendy’s fast food chain came to mind.
My gut instinct was right. However I never considered the possibility of an actual community named Wawa. It’s in Pennsylvania, just a few miles north of the Twelve Mile Circle. Somehow it always comes back to the Twelve Mile Circle. Wawa, the company, is headquartered in Wawa, the place. The company also explains, "’Wawa’ is a Native American word for the Canada Goose that was found in the Delaware Valley, that’s why we use the goose on Wawa’s corporate logo."
To Twitter or Not to Twitter. Is that even a question?
I’ve been hemming and hawing about whether to open a 12MC Twitter account. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback in the comments and in off-line email messages. I’m trying to figure out how to use it best before flipping the switch. For example, several people remarked that they’d like it to send notice of the latest 12MC articles so they don’t have to access the RSS feed or check the site every couple of days. They’d also be able to retweet links easily. I’ve always kind-of thought of that as self-promoting although it does seem to be a common practice on many Twitter feeds. I would also insert various geo-observations and non sequiturs similar to what I do currently with G+ although I wonder if I’m beginning to spread myself too thin. I don’t have all that many germane or pithy things to say.
Is Twitter something readers want, and would a stream of article announcements, offbeat geography news and weird user statistics (probably no more than about one per day on average) be sufficiently interesting?
The Intertubes wants to know and I’m happy to oblige. This is one of those occasional articles that regular 12MC readers may want to skip because it doesn’t involve much from an intellectual standpoint. I keep receiving search engine queries about the 100th meridian west of Greenwich, specifically the list of United States counties that the line intersects as it splits the nation figuratively into eastern and western halves. I can’t figure out why anyone would want or need to compile such a list, however, Google and the like believe that it exists and that I own it. I don’t, or rather I didn’t. Now I do. It’s here at the bottom of this article.
View 100th Meridian West – twelvemilecircle.com in a larger map
The 100th meridian fascinates many people in a mystical Great Plains way. I’ve written about it previously, both from a Canadian perspective and a USA perspective. Not only does the meridian cleave nicely through the middle of the North American continent geographically, it creates a divide meteorologically. The landscape tends to be wetter on the east side and dryer on the west, resulting in differences in farming, settlement, ecosystem and ultimately culture. The 100th meridian is so much more than an arbitrary line, albeit that’s exactly what it is from a technical perspective, it serves as a vague psychological transition.
This is the result. Feel free to open the image in another tab and view it in full size. I’ve compressed it here for purposes of squishing it into a blog format. I’ve color-coded it by state to make it easier to follow.
I rather enjoyed drawing the map even if it was a bit tedious at times. Mapquest was actually more useful to this effort than Google Maps. Mapquest provides all county lines automatically. I had to check county-by-county to confirm that I was still straddling the 100th meridian. Borders don’t always run straight and sometimes I had to check multiple county locations or even consult other sources. I’m pretty sure this is a definitive list although errors always seem to find a way to creep-in. I’ll be glad to make corrections as necessary.
The meridian passes from north to south through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. I found some interesting peculiarities along the way. You’ll notice a few clusters of side-by-side counties. Those are locations where a county may have only a tiny knob clipped by the line.
Gosper County, NE was a good example of that. It’s roughly rectangular with a small square appended to its southwestern edge, almost as an afterthought (map)(1). The meridian passed through part of the square. Harper/Ellis and Beaver Counties in Oklahoma also raised an eyebrow. It appeared that the meridian ran right down the eastern edge of Beaver. However — and I checked this in a couple of different places — Beaver fell completely west of the line by a few hundred feet. Notice how Beaver Co. doesn’t extend quite as far east as the Texas-Oklahoma border when it cuts south, which absolutely does follow the 100th meridian.
Speaking of that, does the meridian cut through those Texas-Oklahoma border counties or not? Some people may say that it does not because the theoretical width of the meridian is infinitesimally small approaching zero, and the two states and their respective border counties only "touch" not "cross" the meridian. I’m inclined to say that it does happen although for a more practical reason: I’m willing to bet that there are enough minor border oscillation due to tiny surveying errors that someone could find genuine instances of those counties actually crossing the meridian (maybe by only a few feet) if we looked hard enough. I’m too lazy to confirm that, though. Bear in mind that there is plenty of precedence in U.S. law to recognize these kinds of surveying errors as true boundaries if they’ve been observed as such historically.
Finally, there was also good reason for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad to put the two sundials in their Dodge City, KS railroad station. The meridian fell only a mile away from the station (map) even though Central Time has crept slowly towards the western edge of Kansas over ensuing years.
Here is the list, from north to south.
- Keya Paha
- Ellis, OK
- Lipscomb, TX
- Hemphill, TX
- Roger Mills, OK
- Wheeler, TX
- Beckham, OK
- Collingsworth, TX
- Harmon, OK
- Childress, TX
(1)I discovered a neat little trick I spotted on some random website while researching this article. Did you know that you can perform a Google Analytics review on any link created by the Google URL Shortener? Maybe I was the only one who didn’t know that? Anyway, all you need to do is append either a "+" or a ".info" to the shortened URL. For example, here is a shortened URL I created for Kansas Mountain Time: For a map = http://goo.gl/maps/073xz; for Analytics = http://goo.gl/maps/073xz+ or http://goo.gl/maps/073xz.info. I’m not sure whether I’ll ever have any practical purpose for this feature, however it’s an interesting oddity to pack away in my toolbox. And who was the person from Argentina that clicked on the link, I wonder?