Third Anniversary

On November 7, 2010 · 6 Comments

Has it really been three years already? Indeed, I started the Twelve Mile Circle in November 2007 with a vague notion that it would be about "geo-oddities." I didn’t know how long I would keep it up. Blog lifespans are notoriously short. I recall personal concerns and doubts that I might not find enough topics, that I’d become a slave to self-imposed deadlines or that it might consume too much of my personal time. I decided to try it for a few weeks.

None of the bad stuff happened. I’ve fallen into a comfortable pattern of two or three articles per week averaging about five hundred words per post, with slightly shorter articles during the week and a slightly longer ones on the weekend. That means I cull a lot of the details that some readers might consider significant out of necessity but it also keeps me from burning out and abandoning the blog. It’s a balancing act.

If anything, finding new topics has only gotten easier. I thought that inspiration would come from my personal searches through the Intertubes and certainly that’s true to a large degree. In addition many articles seem to spring from random search engine quires that I capture in my logs or from insightful reader comments that build upon themes and suggest further avenues to explore. I never anticipated that the "outside world" would become such an active player in shaping and forming the Twelve Mile Circle, and making my creation so much simpler to handle.

I keep a spreadsheet of ideas and I have at least a couple hundred possible topics that I haven’t even touched yet. I’ve posted 470 articles so far and feel like I have an infinite number still available to me. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve uncovered curious situations that I never imagined existed, learned more than I could have possibly ever anticipated, and made many virtual friends along the way. I’ve even met some of you in person. Thank you all for coming along on the journey.

Visitors representing 194 international domains have stopped here. I’ve colored in most of the world map with website visitors and have added several more since I last checked on June 1, 2010: Åland Islands; Bhutan; Liberia; Marshall Islands; Mozambique; Palestine; Suriname; and Zimbabwe. Sometimes I do beg. That’s how I originally landed a visitor from Greenland and that’s how I handled Suriname. I got tired of looking at that blank spot on the map of South America so I wrote an article. Sure enough a bunch of Suriname visitors arrived within a couple of days.

Some pages resonate more than others. I can never predict what will be popular. My guesses fall wildly off the mark and I don’t even try anymore. I just write what I like and try to ignore topics that I know will receive wide coverage in other geo-blogs (e.g., the Nicaragua-Costa Rica incursion allegedly based on an errant Google Map which is happening as I type this). That’s my niche; I zig when others zag. It surprises me that others seem to enjoy some of what I discover. Nonetheless I’d still write this even if I were the only reader. The personal pursuit of learning and knowledge provides a lot of satisfaction.

It’s difficult to cull the entire set of articles to highlight a few. I’ve attempted to do that, slicing them a few different ways.

Pages with the Most Number of Unique Visitors

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This is kind-of skewed because pages that have been around a long time have more opportunities to attract random search engine visitors. Even so, something has to get the most hits and these three pages come out on top.

Notice that a couple of them deal with time zones. I get two significant blips each year on all of my time zones pages. I’m sure you’ve already guessed that it happens right around the switches between standard time and daylight saving time. It’s totally predictable and it’s happening this week with the shift from DST. It’s like the swallows returning to Capistrano except it happens twice a year.

Longest Average Time on a Page

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Maybe it would be better to take a look at the average amount of time a visitor spends on a given page. Perhaps that would give a better indicator of "popularity."

That certainly changes the perspective. I wouldn’t have guessed that any of these would have made the list. I’ve been particularly impressed with the Nuevo León article which is of fairly recent vintage. It started generating a lot of external interest the moment I posted it.

Personal Favorites

Most of you enjoy the odd geography articles more than my personal travel articles. I know that because I’m a relentless counter and I watch the website access logs somewhat obsessively, looking for trends to emerge from the data. Nonetheless I like the travel pages and I’ll to continue to post them. As a compromise I always try to sneak in a little geo-weirdness. When I went to Delaware I visited boundary markers, in Orlando I detoured for some county counting, in Maine a reader led me to the one odd rock in a seawall, in Colorado it was an exclave, and in Alaska I stood on the spot closest to more active airplane runways than perhaps anywhere else in North America. There’s no telling where I may end up although it’s probably not going to be the usual tourist spot.

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Since I write the Twelve Mile Circle mostly for myself, maybe the preferred yardstick is the set of articles that I like the best, ignoring what the statistics tell me. These are articles that resonated with me personally for one reason or another, although perhaps not so much with the rest of the readership (with a notable exception).

  • Reconciliation: Hands down, this one is my favorite. It’s a story of how Union soldier grave markers ended-up deep within the post-war Confederacy. It combined my love of history, genealogy and geography in one tidy package. It’s also the only article that required me to read a book before I could begin writing. It may also be the longest article I’ve posted.
  • Layers of Borderlocking: This was the notable exception. It generated a lot of thought provoking discussion and follow-up conversations. It’s a rare confluence of something that both the readership and I seemed to enjoy equally and immensely.
  • Today, a Town Dies: The sad tale of Picher, Oklahoma, undone by the very same forces of man and nature that created it in the first place.
  • Foreclosed: The mortgage crises gained a human face for me when a neighboring family lost its house to bankruptcy and foreclosure.

I hope you enjoyed my brief detour down memory lane. Thanks for a great three years, and here’s to many more.

On November 7, 2010 · 6 Comments

6 Responses to “Third Anniversary”

  1. Craig says:

    Congratulations on three years!

    Maybe we should have a Twelve Mile Circle Happy Hour to celebrate. :^)

    Now, the question is, where would the best place be in the DC area to have a geo-oddities themed hour? I think somewhere along the American Meridian would be a good choice – and specifically, I’m thinking Mackey’s Public House in Crystal City, which if I’ve googled it correctly the meridian appears to bisect. (Other Virginia-side options include places like IHOP and Hops at Potomac Yard and the Afghan restaurant further down Route 1.)

    I would have suggested DC places, but frankly, the American meridian doesn’t do nearly as well restaurant-wise on that side of the Potomac.

    What do you think?

    • Craig, I’ve been thinking of something similar for awhile. I’ll post a call of sorts in a couple of days to see if we can interest a pool of geo-geeks in the DC area. I think the location is spot on… not only does it have the requisite odd geography but it’s also a short walk from my office. The timing may have to wait until after the holidays but let’s see how it goes.

  2. Cape May says:

    Speaking of time zones, since today is the first day of EST, take a look at the Eastern/Central time zone boundary in southern Indiana. It jogs north and south of Interstate 64, at times following it, at times not. The result is that someone traveling on I-64 between the Louisville metro area and Evansville would have to change their clock something like 15 times, assuming they were sticklers for such things!

    Kentucky is kind of interesting in that half of the state is in Central time. People from Louisville who have business in the Central time zone will often refer to it as “slow time” – as in, “I’ll be at your place at 2pm, slow time.”

  3. Mike Lowe says:

    Congratulations on three years of excellent posts. I read all of them.

    We have similar interests. There have been a few posts where I swear you were reading my mind. The post on the Mexican state borders on the Rio Grande is a prime example.

    You showed me that I’m not alone in counting counties. My dear wife loves a good road trip to visit new places but she doesn’t document travels. I started coloring Texas counties 4-5 years ago in my Roads of Texas atlas. I saw how you colored counties across the USA. I found the mob-rules site and I love it.

    On to more years. Have fun!

  4. Steve says:

    Congratulations Tom!

    I’ve learned much from your blog and am proud to have (minimally and tangentially) contributed – and to have met you and the family.

    So a guy (you) writes a blog with a title from a historic geo-oddity from Delaware who Googles a colloquial term for a border anomaly in New England which then connects him to a guy (me) who writes a blog about everything odd/interesting in Connecticut who happens to have grown up in Delaware and was familiar with the 12 Mile Circle.

    Pretty cool.

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