Reflecting on 2011

On December 28, 2011 · 5 Comments

I’m progressing better than I expected with my off-season website maintenance plan. It has provided an unexpected opportunity to hammer-out one final post in 2011. I’ve decided to use the downtime to reflect on accomplishments at the Twelve Mile Circle during the last year. I posted 156 articles over the year — generally three per week — and I never seemed to lack for new material. Some articles were more memorable than others for various reasons and this is my "greatest hits" compilation.

The blog continued to evolve. Every article centered on pure geo-oddities four years ago. Today, other facets of my personality interweave into the narrative in interesting and often subconscious ways. I have no way of knowing if my efforts attract or repel readers over time although I seem to have a loyal core that’s stuck with me since the beginning. I’ve never worried much about popularity either; I just write what I write and people are welcome to tag along if it suits their purpose. I’d focus on political polarization or celebrity gossip if I really cared about numbers. Seriously, what percentage of the population really cares about Google’s efforts to add county lines to its maps?

I tried to determine my Top 10 articles for 2011 although it didn’t quite turn out that way. I did narrow it down to 10 Categories with 25 links, so that seems good enough. I won’t feel insulted if you skip past my list of recycled trash and wait for fresh material to arrive in the new year.

Extraordinary Reader Contributions

I like to pretend that I write solely for myself although reader affirmation creates abundant motivation especially on those days when I’m feeling lazy. I love receiving comments even though they’re sometimes a double-edged sword. Some of it is amazing and leads to great articles. Other times I slog through messages from school kids or conspiracy theorists looking for me to handle their research, which I promptly delete.

Mostly it’s good. I got to meet a County Counter Extraordinaire and experience an insider’s view of Geo-Oddities of Portland, Oregon. Then I received evidence of an extremely rare continental U.S. West Coast Sunrise over Water. Finally, I learned about what may arguably be the Shortest International Bridge.

There were many other wonderful adventures shared by 12MC readers. All of them were appreciated even if they didn’t make it onto the list today. Please keep those comments and suggestions coming.

Personal Travel

It’s natural that a geo-enthusiast would like to explore new places in person. Occasionally 12MC imitates a travelogue. Those pages don’t seem to be as popular with the audience for some unknown reason although I’m rather fond of them so they will continue. You either enjoyed or suffered through — depending on your outlook — a visit to the international Borders and Boundaries of Saint Martin, a backstage peek at Disney World, or a family vacation in Utah.

Travel in My Own Backyard

I’ve stated many times that geo-oddities can be discovered everywhere, even in those places closest to home. The 12MC audience got a flavor throughout the year as I continued to explore various nooks in my little corner of the world. I had a great time Circling the MDVAWV Tripoint and tagging along on a Jamestown Field Trip with a busload of fourth grade schoolchildren.

Puzzles

Regular readers may not appreciate the travelogue aspect as much as I do but they’re crazy about the puzzles. They create great audience interaction and people seem to respond to them. They follow a simple formula: I’ll offer a peculiar example and invite people to find better ones. These articles require the least amount of effort on my part and yet they still generate the most audience interest. I feel like I’m being lazy. I have a bit more respect for the ones that actually require me to do something, like the recent Most Landlocked State and Alphabetical Circle. Expect to see more of these in coming months even though I’m a bit puzzled by the reaction to these puzzles.

History

I’ve noted upfront on several occasions that I am an historian by education, not a geographer. I also don’t pursue either of those interestrs professionally because life has a way of moving in directions that one can’t anticipate. 12MC is the vehicle for this pseudo-historian-geographer to dabble in topics as a hobby and have fun. That probably explains a lot. It’s not surprising then that historical themes weave themselves into articles with regularity. The Twelve Mile Circle could have been an odd history blog interspersed with geography topics just as easily as could have taken its chosen direction. Then, articles such as Erasing Van Buren and Penciling-In Reagan would have been the norm rather than the exception.

Next Generation

I’m happy to watch my older son gain geographic awareness as he progresses towards becoming geo-geek. I saw that when he cataloged All Those Modes of Transportation and when he designed his own town, Oreton. That’s a good thing.

Popular Culture

I’ve said it before and it deserves repeating: I’m high-brow and low-brow simultaneously with nothing in between. I had a fun time with Looney Tunes Geography and then trying to locate 132 and Bush from the television show COPS. I also did my best curmudgeon impression when I complained about What’s Almost Heaven? I suffered through a weekend of Thelma and Louise practically frame-by-frame so that I could recreate their route. Nobody seemed to appreciate that last sacrifice as much as I did, but that’s fine. I get a ton of random hits on that page from various search engines.

Observations

Inspiration will come from odd sources. Sometimes I’ll simply stare at an object or a place and an overlooked aspect will come into focus. It’s probably unnatural for anyone to think too deeply about the My Little Poni paradox or the people who live above a church in Divine Apartments, or even some random Stair Step Border. Maybe they exist solely to make the world a tiny bit more interesting.

Confusion

We all get confused from time-to-time and it provides great material when handled in a good-natured way. Several examples came to light in a series of three Mistaken Identity articles. Sometimes it an intentional act: " Not Fusion, CONfusion." I still chuckle every time I drive by that Salvadorean-Mexican-Chinese Restaurant.

Fixation

I can’t take my eye off that border war between Bibb and Monroe Counties in Georgia. It’s a zombie topic that refuses to die. I thought it was finally going to be resolved but it sputtered back to life almost immediately. The Governor of Georgia has been asked to get involved again even during the last few days.

Those are my personal choices from 2011. Are there any audience favorites that I missed? You can always check the Complete Index. The 2011 articles start with Coteau des Prairies.

I’ll be back with new material and a normal publication schedule on January 1.

On December 28, 2011 · 5 Comments

5 Responses to “Reflecting on 2011”

  1. Another awesome year of articles, Tom. It’s always a great joy to wake up to a new 12MC post in my inbox, and I look forward to many more in 2012. Cheers!

    Kyle

  2. Greg says:

    I second The Basement Geographer’s post. Also, I called that golf course in ND/SK, but no one answered. I might have to wait until spring.

  3. stangetz says:

    I have great time reading your blog during lunch each day (and the Basement Geographer’s too!)

    The County Donuts article really had me going for a few days as I went through all 67 counties of Pennsylvania.

    Just more trivia to add to my library when people ask me about PA.

    Also, I had a chance to visit the Wedge this fall, and I used your articles as a reference as to where to go. Invaluable!

    Keep up the great work!

  4. Steve says:

    Well done, Tom.

    My favorite post of the year was the “All those modes of transportation” courtesy of your son’s factual whimsy. Anytime our world is viewed through new and curious eyes is always a good time.

  5. Origuy says:

    Here is a question inspired by the shortest international bridge. Is there any bridge which crosses salt water which is shorter that the Clachan Bridge that connects the isle of Seil with mainland Scotland?
    I visited this location in August; it’s a beautiful site.

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