I’m always rather startled when I hear someone say that they don’t know how to read maps. I was taught how to do so in elementary school and it has definitely come in handy over the course of my life. Even in this era of GPS, it’s quite valuable to be able to find your location on a map and be able to determine how to reach your destination.
Maps and atlases and the like have always fascinated me. I can look at them for hours. Over the years, I have often used them as artwork on my walls. I think this has to do with my love of travel. If I look at a map, I can imagine myself being there. It also has to do with my love of reading. If a book includes a map, I can take the journey with the main character. I find that exciting.
Maps can also teach you a lot about a place. Why did they name that street in that way? Place names often reflect history. They make you want to learn more. I often wonder who named Purple Cow Road, and what they were smoking at the time.
Now that I rely on GPS and/or Google Maps so much, and since I moved to the Seattle area after I built up that reliance, and since the hilly terrain means that streets don’t always adhere to the strict grid pattern I was used to in flat Florida, I tend not to know where I am with relation to other parts of my city or state. I don’t have that map image in my head anymore. It’s pure laziness on my part, and very unsettling.
I do recommend that everyone carry local maps in their cars, because you never know when your GPS will go kerflooey. There was a recent week of sunspot activity where my GPS kept thinking I was miles from my actual position. I cannot tell you how frustrating that week was.
If you don’t know how to read a map, there’s no shame in that. You just weren’t taught. But you can still learn. I have total faith in you. I suggest you start by checking out this very informative article on wikiHow entitled, “How to Read a Map”.
Whether you know how to read a map or not, I hope you’ll find your way back to this blog again and again, dear reader!
My whole life, I’ve felt as though I didn’t quite fit in. So much so, that at some point I gave up trying. In fact, these days I seem to have gone to the other end of the bell curve entirely. I kind of delight in being out in left field most of the time.
Except when I’m feeling vulnerable. When I’m tired, I feel much more insecure. When I’m improperly dressed at a party, and have no idea which fork to use, I’m not going to lie–that kind of sucks.
But it isn’t anyone else telling me that I don’t fit in. It’s entirely me. And it’s based on some pretty arbitrary social rules. It always makes me think of weeds. I’m a weed.
During my young adult life, I lived in a town called Apopka, which called itself the “Indoor Foliage Capital of the World.” (I wonder if they still do? It’s been many decades since I’ve been back.) Back then, you couldn’t throw a rock in that town without shattering a greenhouse window. It made me look at plants in an entirely new way.
It amazed me how much people were willing to pay for stuff that you can find growing entirely wild somewhere or other. People do love the exotic, but even exotic things have to be commonplace in some location, or they wouldn’t exist.
So, a weed is simply something that doesn’t fit in. It’s not where it’s supposed to be. Worse case scenario, it’s invasive. But that’s not the weed’s fault. It never asked to be uprooted. There it was, minding its own business in its natural habitat, when some fool decided to send it half way across the world without considering the consequences. And then the name calling begins. (Damned weed. Get out of my yard! We don’t want you here!)
So it’s all about perspective and location. We all have our place. It’s just a matter of finding it. So maybe as you walk along the path of your life, try being a little less judge-y of the other living things that you encounter who are feeling out of place. They, too, have their journey. Just sayin’.
A friend just sent me a link to an article about a man who had been stabbed to death in a park in Florida. I was horrified. For 27 years I owned a house not more than 50 yards from the scene of the crime. If I had still been living there, I could very well have been sitting on my front porch as the murder was taking place, and I’d have had an unobstructed view. That’s a little too close for comfort.
We live in a violent world. All violence is horrifying, but I think most of us have a filter these days. If we reacted in equal measure to all violent acts, we’d be unable to cope. Therefore, we tend to feel much more strongly about brutality when it’s more personal.
Location plays a big part in our filter. If it’s close to home, or to a place we used to frequent, that’s particularly sobering. It’s perfectly natural to think, “That could have been me.”
Familiarity is also a factor. If the victim was someone we know or love, or even feel like we know by dint of them being a public figure, then of course the situation will have extra shock value. There’s a reason why homeless people die every day and it never makes the papers. We don’t know them, so we don’t “have to” care.
And then there’s the relatability issue. We like our wars to be very far away, on foreign soil, where the people don’t look, talk, or act like us. It’s much easier to not have to think of it that way. On some level, it’s so different from our day to day lives that it can almost be considered science fiction. Terrorist attacks on our own soil, on the other hand, are enough to have us all gibbering over our morning coffee.
There really needs to be some sort of happy medium. It’s too much to take on board every violent act that we hear about. But on the other hand, it’s important to realize that every savage act is one savage act too many.
Still, the fact that I have spent countless hours on the park bench where that man bled out, and the very block where I once lived was blocked off by crime scene tape, has me rattled.
I just stumbled upon a very interesting website called what3words.com. The story behind this company is kind of fascinating. It has to do with the trouble the nomads of Mongolia have in receiving mail.
I had never thought about this before, but it’s true. How do you send for an ambulance when the place on which you park your yurt has no named streets, let alone a zip code? How do you meet with people? How do you receive your correspondence? The postmen of Mongolia must be pulling their hair out by the roots.
Fortunately, what3words has come up with a nifty solution. They have divided the entire planet up into individual squares, 3 meters by 3 meters, and every single square has been assigned a three word combination. I know, you’re thinking, “Why not just use latitude and longitude?” But honestly, would you remember that long string of numbers? I know I wouldn’t.
Now, with just a simple phone app, or a visit to their website, you can discover what three words are yours. I’m not going to tell you what three words I live in now, because while I love you, dear reader, I don’t like uninvited guests. But I just discovered that many years ago I used to live at commands.pimples.radar, and for some reason that really makes me smile.
I’ve always wanted a tattoo, but I can never quite justify the expense. I could probably get a good deal, too, as my boyfriend’s son is one of the best tattoo artists in this city. Even so… Nope. I most likely won’t ever get around to it. Plus I have this thing about pain.
If I did get one, though, I’d make sure it was something that could be covered up by a typical short sleeved shirt. You have no way of predicting what image you’ll want to project in the future. I know a guy who got spiders tattooed on the backs of his hands in his younger, wilder days. Now he’s a businessman who wears suits. He can see potential business partners flinch when he reaches out to shake their hands. He calls these tattoos his stupid marks.
And I definitely would get just one tattoo. No point in overdoing it. Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I like to drive out to the 24 hour Waffle House and have breakfast. You’d be amazed at how many regular customers they have at 3 in the morning. Usually they are a quiet bunch. One night I was sitting at the counter looking at a menu when a guy came in and sat beside me. He had tattoos on every square inch of his body, from his feet to the top of his bald head. I sat there and wondered how many jobs he missed out on, how many relationships he missed out on, how many times he was discriminated against. All that could have been avoided. I found out later that he died of liver failure, most likely from the heavy metals in the massive amount of tattoo ink that he had encased himself in. Less is definitely more.
My late sister was in the Air Force for 21 years. Working in that testosterone-infused environment, she would occasionally hear rumors about herself. One of the guys would imply that she had behaved, shall we say, less than professionally with him. This would upset her, but she came up with a handy little trick to quickly put such rumors, uh, to bed. Whenever the rumor reached her ears, she’d laugh and say, “Oh yeah? Then ask him to describe my tattoo.” Naturally the guy could never do so, and he’d wind up looking like a dope. And my sister would be laughing inside, because she didn’t actually have a tattoo. But the guy would have no way of knowing that.
Tattoos are a great way to express yourself, provided you give the design, location and quantity a great deal of consideration. But who would have ever thought they’d also be a great source of rumor control?