The trails and breadcrumbs left behind by random one-time electronic visitors sometimes remind me of interesting things I’ve discussed previously and forgotten. Witness the recent query "boomerang" that led one anonymous reader to Fraser Island in Australia, the world’s largest sand island, and its amazing perched dune lakes. As I noted when I drafted the article back in the earliest days of 12MC,
A perched dune lake forms when wind blows an indentation in the sand that then gradually fills with decaying vegetation. Over time the decaying organic matter creates a watertight mat that eventually permeates the sand to form something similar to concrete, almost like a swimming pool… on Frasier Island can be found Boomerang Lake, the world’s highest perched dune lake at 130m above sea level.
The person wanted a boomerang and 12MC delivered a boomerang. Now it was time for a bit of fun and a little boomerang overkill. Were there other boomerangs, I wondered?
In Australia, yes of course, there was a stupendous overindulgence of boomerang hills, streams, islands, lagoons, lakes and anything else geographic that one could possibly imagine. The device was a hunting tool and weapon for many Australian Aboriginal groups so of course occurrences there should be expected. The most significant, or at least most populous example, might very well be Boomerang Beach in the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. Even one of its primary roads, Boomerang Drive, displayed a roughly boomerang shape.
Boomerang Beach, New South Wales, Australia
Boomerang Beach bordered on Booti Booti, an Australian national park. So many awful puns came to mind at that moment although I promised myself that I would behave. It became even more difficult when I learned that the "name comes from ‘butibuti,’ the local Worimi Aboriginal word meaning ‘plenty of honey.’" Must… resist… Booty… jokes.
Setting aside Australia — where boomerangs were entirely too pedestrian — I focused my attention farther away in order to see if the theme had spread elsewhere. Well of course it had or I would have stopped typing right here.
Some Reasons Were Obvious
Boomerang Lake, Runnymede, Saskatchewan, Canada
Plenty of features actually resembled boomerangs. I spotted this great example, Boomerang Lake, on the far eastern edge of Saskatchewan. Actually I was hoping the provincial border might split through the lake as I zoomed-in. That was not the case once I looked closer. Nonetheless, it was a nicely representative instance of boomerang-shaped geography.
Other Reasons Were Enigmatic
Hotel Boomerang, Bagni di Tabiano, Parma, Italy
via Google Street View, November 2010
I scratched my head as I pondered Hotel Boomerang in Parma, Italy. They certainly seemed enamored of their boomerangs. I figured maybe they hoped to focus attention on the physics of a properly-thrown boomerang. Perhaps, using that logic, guests would enjoy their lodging and someday "return" to the hotel?
And I Filled In a Hole
Boomerang Run, Red Lodge Mountain, Montana, USA
I saw plenty of boomerangs in the United States. This one was a little different, a black diamond ski run at the Red Lodge Mountain Resort and roughly boomerang-shaped I guess although maybe they were talking about bouncing off trees or something. I didn’t realize Google Maps included ski trails. That reminded me — I also noticed traffic lights on one map I saw recently (for example). Maybe they’re rolling out some new features?
The primary reason for including this boomerang instead of other instnaces in the United States was to fill an empty space on my Complete Index map. There, I admit it. I need to spread the geo-oddity love around.
I mentioned OGG as the three-letter airport code for Kahului Airport on the Hawaiian island of Maui in the Middling article for no greater significance than I found it amusing and it sounded like something a caveman might say. A little Intertubes sleuthing led me to an easy explanation at Airport ABCs, an article reprinted from the December 1994 edition of Air Line Pilot. Why OGG? The designation was created "in honor of aviation legend, and Lihue native, Capt. Bertram J. Hogg (pronounced Hoag)."
The International Air Transport Association a trade group of "240 members comprise 84% of the total air traffic" and known more commonly by its acronym IATA, assigned these codes. Most visible to the average airline traveler, those are the sometimes cryptic three-letter combinations one sees printed on baggage tags that route them to their proper destinations. Usually. Unique codes identify hundreds of distinct airports everywhere around the world, large and small, served by commercial airlines.
Codes ranged from AAA (Anaa Airport, French Polynesia) to ZZV (Zanesville Airport, Ohio, USA), and offered a dizzying array of entertaining combinations. It would border on negligence if I failed to mention the best of the lot even though it’s already well known. I just couldn’t help myself. You knew what was coming — Sioux Gateway Airport serving Sioux City, Iowa.
This Airport SUX
The SUX designation had been applied in an earlier time before "sucks" became so closely synonymous with lousy situations and things. Sioux City politicians began lobbying for a new code in the 1990′s. They abandoned their effort a few years later and decided to stick with SUX after being offered nothing better. They later came to embrace SUX as a marketing tool. Now the airport website proudly proclaims flysux.com and sells merchandise.
Twelve Mile Circle reviewed every three-letter code to gather the best of the rest. I got about halfway through my task and discovered I’d collected primarily a list of obscenities. Being a family-friendly site, or at least a family-tolerant site, I felt an obligation to start anew and shift my focus away from the profane and tack back towards odd. Sorry Fukuoka Airport and your ilk, I discarded you. Actually a couple of codes were even more explicit — enough to make 12MC blush — and I won’t even hint at those.
I gathered some of the vast array of remaining options and placed them in a few logical groupings. Readers can play this game at home with other groupings. Options are practically endless.
D’OH!: Doha, Qatar
Several codes might be completely harmless in their home languages while failing to instill a level of confidence through a prism of English language and popular culture. To wit, Doha, Qatar’s DOH came perilously close to Homer Simpson’s D’OH!
Other difficult transits might be inferred by,
- BAD – Barksdale Air Force Base, Bossier City, Louisiana, United States
- BOO – Bodø Airport, Bodø, Norway
- EEK – Eek Airport, Eek, Alaska, United States
- LIE – Libenge Airport, Libenge, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- MUD – Mueda Airport, Mueda, Mozambique
- SAD – Safford Regional Airport, Safford, Arizona, United States
- WAA – Wales Airport (FAA: IWK), Wales, Alaska, United States
FLY to Finley, NSW, Australia
Other airports seemed to imply vastly superior experiences. I don’t know how tiny Finley, NSW, Australia managed to snag FLY, though. I would have thought airports around the world would have fought hard for that one. Any city in Florida or Finland might have also put that code to good use.
A few other attractive options,
- ACE – Lanzarote Airport, Arrecife, Canary Islands, Spain
- EZE – Ministro Pistarini International Airport Ezeiza, Argentina
- SKY – Griffing Sandusky Airport, Sandusky, Ohio, United States
- TLC – Lic. Adolfo López Mateos International Airport, Toluca, Estado de México, México
- WOW – Willow Airport, Willow, Alaska, United States
Have a COW; Coquimbo, Chile
I needed to come up with something innocuous and family-appropriate after my earlier thematic failure. An "Old MacDonald" farmyard motif arose from the lengthy list, although admittedly UDR for udder might have been stretching things a bit too far (no pun intended).
- ARF – Acaricuara Airport, Acaricuara, Colombia
- BAA – Bialla Airport, Bialla, Papua New Guinea
- CAT – New Bight Airport, Cat Island, Bahamas
- COW – Coquimbo Airport, Coquimbo, Coquimbo Region, Chile
- DOG – Dongola Airport, Dongola, Sudan
- MOO – Moomba Airport, Moomba, South Australia, Australia
- PIG – Pitinga Airport, Pitinga, Brazil
- RAT – Raduzhny Airport, Raduzhny, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Russia
- UDR – Udaipur Airport, Udaipur, India
Airport in Timbuktu by James Joel on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) license
Then I got selfish. Which airports, I wondered, had three-letter codes that mattered to me personally. Obviously TOM would rank high on that list, although Timbuktu, Mali might not be the best place to visit at the moment due to civil unrest and rebellion. The code TOM derived from it French language spelling, Aéroport International de Tombouctou, a remnant of French colonial rule that lasted into the 1960′s.
TOM in Timbuktu, Mali
In recognition of my given name, my immense EGO, my fondness for food and fermented beverage, and my geo-oddity proclivities, I selected,
- EGO – Belgorod Airport, Belgorod, Russia
- TOM – Timbuktu Airport, Timbuktu, Mali
- BBQ – Codrington Airport, Codrington, Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda
- HAM – Hamburg Airport, Hamburg / Fuhlsbüttel, Germany
- PIE – St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, Pinellas Co., Florida, United States
- ALE – Alpine-Casparis Municipal Airport, Alpine, Texas, United States
- IPA – Ipota Airport, Ipota, Erromango, Vanuatu
- RUM – Rumjatar Airport, Rumjatar, Nepal
- GEO – Cheddi Jagan International Airport (Timehri Int’l), Georgetown, Guyana
- LOL – Derby Field, Lovelock, Nevada, United States
- USA – Concord Regional Airport, Concord, North Carolina, United States
That would be an interesting world tour.
A map peculiarity reminded me of an old nursery rhyme, probably one of the most famous of them all, and likely familiar to each of us:
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
I’ll get to the specific reason soon enough. Let me ramble and meander for a little while though, as I tend to like to do, before arriving at the final destination.
The "Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes" would seem like a proper place to search for an explanation, however it’s copyright protected on Google Books and I didn’t feel like traipsing down to a physical library to look it up. An amalgam of different online sources, seemingly all deriving from Oxford anyway, traced a possible explanation to one Dr. Thomas Muffet who allegedly wrote the rhyme about his stepdaughter Patience. That’s one theory, anyway.
Black Widow Spider by Smithsonian, on Flickr,
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Dr. Muffet was an entomologist, an insect scientist, so that could have parlayed into the latter part of the rhyme where the spider frightened the little girl. Yes, I understand that a spider is an arachnid not an insect, and a spider scientist is an arachnologist not an entomologist. I’m grasping at straws, here. Regardless, the passage first appeared in published form in 1805, in "Songs for the Nursery."
There might also be a little intrigue or alternate meanings written into the verse:
Is Little Miss Muffet a symbol of sexual harassment or feminine stereotypes? Is this a simply a verse about a young girl eating a meal and being frightened by a bug? Or could these characters represent real people prominent in 16th century England’s history?
Do any of these explanations have anything to do with geography, and does 12MC really care? No, not really. It was a fun tangent while it lasted and let’s get back to more pertinent business.
Muffet, as a surname, "usually originates from the town of Moffat in Annandale, in the former county of Dumfriesshire, Scotland. If so the derivation is from the Gaelic ‘magh’, meaning a field or plain, and ‘fada’, translating as ‘long’, – the long field."
Moffat, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
It’s not a particularly common surname although the variant Moffatt (like the town) would probably sound more familiar. Geographically, I found a small handful of Muffets used as street names and that was about it.
View Larger Map
I decided to select Muffett Street, in Scone, New South Wales, Australia. I figured Miss Muffet might enjoy a nice scone once she tired of curds and whey. Scone is the horse capital of Australia, located in NSW’s Upper Hunter Shire of the Hunter Valley. The town is know primarily for the Scone Cup, "the biggest country racing carnival in Australia."
What, exactly is a tuffet? It’s a type of low-slung chair that most people would call a stool if it wasn’t covered with fabric. This is a tuffet:
Tuffet and Chair by triesquid, on Flickr,
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license
I don’t understand why anyone would publish such an ugly, shaggy example of a tuffet on Flickr, much less share it with a Creative Commons license. Nonetheless someone did and I’m grateful because ultimately tuffet was easier to show than to explain. The word also had an interesting etymology that derived from the Old French touffel, meaning little tuft, and it has become "obsolete except in the nursery rhyme."
View Larger Map
It’s pretty obsolete as a place name, too. The only geographic feature in the United States, Canada the United Kingdom or Australia that I could discover was a single lonely little pond in the Arizona desert: Tuffet Tank. It didn’t look anything like a tuffet. What could have influenced someone to call it a tuffet? I could see elbow or boomerang or even a cheezy mustache, but I’m struggling with tuffet.
Curds and Whey
Curds and Whey are odd consumables derived from milk, or substances seemingly more appropriate for an episode of Bizarre Foods.
Curds are a dairy product obtained by curdling (coagulating) milk with rennet or an edible acidic substance such as lemon juice or vinegar, and then draining off the liquid portion. The increased acidity causes the milk proteins (casein) to tangle into solid masses, or curds. The remaining liquid, which contains only whey proteins, is the whey.
I can say from first-hand experience that curds can be quite tasty. I’ve had cheese curds many times when visiting the wife’s family in Wisconsin. Curds, as served to me, were either plain or breaded and deep-fried as a bar snack. We called them "squeaky cheese" when they were particularly fresh. Some of you will know exactly what I mean. The rest of you will have to take my word for it that curds make a peculiar, unmistakable squeak when chewed fresh.
I don’t know anything about whey. I’ve never tried it.
View Larger Map
Finally, 12MC arrives at the entire point of this article, the spectacular Curdsen Way in Las Vegas, Nevada. I am convinced that this street was named for curds and whey. Look at the other street names nearby — Better Way? Thata Way? and… Supreme Court?… which is how I discovered the neighborhood in the first place. I purposely avoided this specific Supreme Court in the earlier article because I didn’t want anyone to spot Curdsen Way and spoil the surprise. I was laughing too hard.
That was one seriously messed-up real estate developer.
And that was an awful lot of reading to get to a punchline.