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The Sierra Cacachilas Mountains of Baja Sur, Mexico – Monday Map

Haunt of Hikers, Divers, and the Giant Spider Califorctenus of the Cacachilas

Situated between La Paz and El Sargento in Southern Baja

Baja Sur Sierra Cacachilas detail map

Before the 2017 announcement that a new genus of giant wandering spider was discovered there in an abandoned mine shaft, I had never heard of the Cacachilas Mountains, located in a relatively out of the way corner of Baja California Sur, the second-least populated state in Mexico.

Baja Sur Sierra Cacachilas satellite map

As it turns out, the nearby sea coast is a popular place for scuba divers. And the Cacachilas themselves offer an expansive sunny landscape for hikers and burro riders who want to get away from it all and commune with some the wildlife. But don’t worry, the spider isn’t that venomous. And since it had gone undetected by science all these many centuries, it is safe to say you will likely never see one outside of a zoo, or perhaps an abandoned mine shaft.

sierra-cacachilas-mexico

 

Related Reading:

https://www.ranchocacachilas.com/home/

The Somme in All Its Gory – Monday Map

Brilliant Detective Work at 4D Somme

Cartographers use the scarred landscape of France, World War I maps, and satellite imagery to plot the battlefield in stunning detail

somme-overlay

The website 4D Somme is dedicated to the British units raised in Ireland and Ulster, who saw considerable action during the battle of the Somme, which began on July 1, 1916, and ended nearly 5 months later, on November 18th.

But the overall imagery provided covers the entire battlefield.

somme-lines-july-november

Above, the British lines at the start and end of the battle.

Hundreds of thousands died to move the front about 7 miles – over one million casualties in total among the British, French, and German forces fated to take part in arguably the most savage and costly battle in human history.

The satellite maps and the overlays taken from actual WWI strategic mapping can be zoomed into down to the individual village, trench, or observation post.

somme-air

Above, actual reconnaissance photographs lined up perfectly where they were actually taken from aircraft similar to those operated by my maternal grandfather, who flew for the American forces father south near the end of the Great War.

While other sites go into greater detail about the people who fought and died along the River Somme in 1916, this site is entirely engrossing and highly recommended.

The 4D Somme full url is

http://queensub.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=f0629347d5dc4d6987686f876eec5649

 

Woodstock Festival 1969 – Monday Map

Woodstock’s Three Day’s of Peace and Music

Actually it took place some 50 miles from Woodstock, NY, near the town of Bethel. The site is currently occupied by the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.

1969 woodstock festival location

 

My own Woodstock memory comes ten years after the fact.

I was a freshly minted young adult when I attended the midnight movies on Hollywood Boulevard, in Los Angeles, California, to see the film Woodstock, some weeks before the official 10th anniversary was about to take place.

As I waited in line I was befriended by an older guy, with long hippiefied hair and a mustache partially hiding the fact he was missing his two upper front teeth. He claimed he had lost them at Woodstock and that he has a brief cameo in the documentary. He also provided me with various hippiefied things we could ingest to increase the mood of the event.

We sat in the front row of what was my first of many viewings of this iconic film. And indeed, he appeared on the screen, 10 years younger but recognizable.

That next day I was off to the Hollywood Bowl to see a very special concert. I had won tickets on the radio, when I had called up to request a song. Knowing no one in LA that could go, I went alone – without sleep, since I was still soaring from the stimulating night before.

The concert was the first major event that would lead to the “No Nukes” concerts that took place around the U.S. in the coming months.

Being August in LA, I stopped at the Safeway where Hollywood and Sunset meet, to get some fresh fruit and as much water as I could carry, and took the bus to the concert.

As a ticket winner I was allowed in early, and was amazed to see my current hero, David Lindley in person, on stage, doing a sound check with Jackson Browne. I rushed down the sundrenched aisle and accidentally bumped into a woman who had suddenly risen from a chair and started heading up the aisle. I stopped and grabbed her by the shoulders to steady her and to apologize, to Joan Baez.

There she was, looking into my wide eyes with the dilated pupils, the same woman I had seen 12 hours earlier, very pregnant and ten years younger, sending out an a cappella “Sweet Home Sweet Chariot” thundering over the midnight hills and midnight movie like a Valkyrie priestess. And thus the most profound and seriously enjoyable time trip ensued.

Graham Nash and John Sebastian also appeared, also ten years older than I had seen them a few hours before. I sank into my box seat and soaked up the heat and fruit and water, never sure if the quivering waves before my eyes were from the heat or hippified ingestiments.

This was primarily small and acoustic performances. There were no big speakers or large bands. The closest being Maria Manchester, who was joined by her father and brother and others, playing the oboe and cello as I recall.

Peter, Paul, and Mary were the real headliners, but the single most impressive performance came from John Denver, of all people, who took advantage of the acoustics to step out in front of the microphones and simply blow everyone away with his own a cappella vocal prowess.

Ten years on, the spirit the pervaded the Woodstock was still very much alive and well in 1979, despite the fact the radio and Hollywood and Sunset were full of disco queens of both sexes by this time. And my identity remained rooted very much in the social-political idealism of Woodstock and the No Nukes movement pretty much to this very day.

Peace

The Deadly Zone Rouge of France – Monday Map

Some 100 square kilometers of France is completely closed to people. It is known as Zone Rouge – the Red Zone.

The land there is utterly poisoned by the human folly that was World War I. To this day it remains unfit and unsafe to tread upon, 100 years later.

Zone Rouge - France's Deadly Red Zone

Surrounded by many more kilometers that have been slowly and imperfectly reclaimed, most people are unaware this caged landscape exists among the otherwise beautiful French countryside, near the border with Belgium.

There the Red Baron fought and fell, along with countless others of less-lofty reputations. And there, two place names became synonymous with human suffering on an obscene scale, because of the atrocious loss of life that took place there – Verdun and the River Somme.

As revealed in eye-opening detail at a blog dedicated to all sort of curiosities, the Zone Rouge is freakishly other-wordily, as the residents living near by continue to harvest a ghastly collection of munitions and human remains.

“… the forsaken territory, originally covering more than 1,200 square kilometres (460 sq miles) in the years following the Great War. Today, around 100km2 (roughly the size of Paris), is still strictly prohibited by law from public entry and agricultural use because of an impossible amount of human remains and unexploded chemical munitions yet to be recovered from the battlefields of both world wars…”

The essay is supplemented with many photos from one Olivier Saint Hilaire, which are indeed evocative. With more found via the link to his personal website.

This representational map of the Somme campaign makes up the Red Zone area between the towns of Cambrai, Arras, and Amiens.

The Somme 1916

The Lost Generation

One hundred years ago, one of the most cataclysmic battles in human history was raging in northern France.

The Battle of the Somme began on July 1, 1916. Fifty-three years earlier, on July 1, 1863, the battle of Gettysburg commenced in Pennsylvania.

Over three days of fighting at Gettysburg, a total of 51,112 Americans on both sides were lost as casualties during the entire battle, with some 7,000 killed outright. It remains the bloodiest, most lethal three days in American history.

During the first day’s fighting at the River Somme, the British Army alone lost over 57,000 men, with 20,000 dying on the field.

FIFTY-SEVEN THOUSAND.

The battle lasted four months. The combined losses of the Franco-British and Imperial German armies were over 1.5 million men.

ONE AND A HALF MILLION MEN.

On Thursday last, I watched the semifinal football match of the European championships, between France and Germany. These young men, almost all of them in their 20s and among the finest physical specimens their nations could produce, were giving everything they could to prove victorious for the expectant countries and their own personal glory. And throughout the relatively civil competition, I was haunted by the fact that these same champion athletes would almost certainly have been wearing the uniform of opposing armies locked in deadly strife, had they been born 100 years earlier.

They would have undergone a very different kind of training and physical conditioning to hone their elite skills for the purpose of killing their fellow Europeans, in a war between states whose rulers were, in some cases, cousins.

cousins

For me, the obscene absurdity of the so-called Great War isn’t found in the fact closely-related cousins could inflict such horrors upon their own closely-related European peoples. But rather, that the people of Europe could have done it all over again less than 30 years later – with far worse destruction of treasure and human lives.

As the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union, it is important to remember that the peace that has existed there is not to be taken for granted. Rather, it has required an enormous change of attitudes in nationalism, jingoism, and xenophobia, and continual efforts since the end the Second World War to prevent backsliding.

May the centennial of the Somme and other atrocious acts of war in the coming months and years help to educate and supplicate the current tensions rippling across Europe and its neighbors.

The Most Significant 4th of July – Monday Map

The 4th of July is set aside to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which actually took place on July 2, 1776.

But the most important July 4th of all was that of 1863, when it was celebrated as a national day thanksgiving and of mourning, at least throughout the northern states.

On that date, the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi surrendered to the combined forces under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant, at the end of a long, grueling siege during the War of the Rebellion, now typically referred to as the America Civil War.

Vicksburg 4th of July map

Vicksburg map 4th of July

And on that same 4th of the July the rebel forces of General Robert E. Lee withdrew in defeat from the fields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, from where they retreated south across the Mason Dixon Line, and never again posed any serious threat to the nation’s capital, nor to any northern state.

gettysburg-map 4th of July 1863

While the timing in Pennsylvania was accidental, at Vicksburg it was anything but.

The commander of the Confederate forces within the beleaguered city was born and raised a Northerner. He chose to surrender on the 4th of July, saying he knew his northern people and that they would give better terms on that day than on any other day of the year.

The very first 4th of July may have rang the knell for the birth of our nation. But it was this later, more important 4th of July which helped forge in the crucible of the Civil War a single nation from a more imperfect collection of discordant states.

And even if some continue to kick and scream from what Mr. Lincoln called a new birth of freedom.

 

Summer Days – Monday Map

Average Maximum Temperatures for July 2015

On the lovely first day of Summer, 2016, here is a look at what may be in store for us this coming July.

Summer Days - July 2015 temperatures
Spring as come and Spring as gone, but Summer beckons.

I grew up assuming that August was the hottest month, and it was supported by first hand experiences in recent years, as I am usually found outdoors at Martinfest in Nazareth, PA in August.

But that is the first weekend of the month and apparently more like July than the rest of August. In fact, July is almost always the hottest month of the year in the USA.

And now, if you will excuse me, I am heading out into the beautiful day, while June lasts.

Duluth, Minnesota 1891 – Monday Map

50 years before Bob Dylan was born there

On May 24, 1941 – 75 years ago

Monday Map Duluth 1891

Although he denied his actual origins and place of birth at first, in an effort to create some mystery and an image associated with intrepid figures like Woody Guthrie and Billy the Kid, Bob Dylan was born in Duluth, the Great Lakes port, before his family moved to the North Country mining town of Hibbing, MN when he was 6 years old.

Hibbing, Minnesota in the 1940s

Hibbing Minnesota north of Duluth 1940s

Hibbing Minnesota train to Duluth 1940s Bob Dylan

His mother grew up there, and his father worked for the family electrical supply shop. The young Bob Zimmerman had a normal merchant-class upbringing, and like many teenagers he wanted to play the electric guitar in a rock and roll band.

And that is something he did to revolutionary effect, when he first toured with an electric guitar, in 1966, 50 years ago.

In fact, his double album Blonde on Blonde was released on May 15, 1966, and he performed the infamous “Judas” concert in Manchester, England on May 17.

 

Manhattan 1776 – Monday Map

Website Shows New York City Boundaries Over 250 Years

Manhattan Island Slowly Swallowed by the Big Apple

Manhattan 1776 map

click to enlarge

The map above shows General Washington’s fortifications at New York (left) and what were later named Washington Heights (right) in 1776 stretch the length of Manhattan Island.

A series of similar maps is found on a very interesting webpage, which shows the expansion of New York City from 1660 to 2004.

See more HERE

This brought to mind David McCullough’s wonderful book, 1776, which takes an in depth look at that extremely important year in American history, and how it began with the revolutionary forces withdrawing from Boston, only to be soundly defeated at New York in the Battle of Long Island, but ultimately ending in the Washington’s daring attack at Trenton, New Jersey at the end of the year. Highly recommended.

 

 

Crete and the Aegean During the Bronze Age – Monday Map

Its Crete to Me!

But is Cretan Grecian or the other way around?

Crete and the Ancient Aegean

Credit: University of Texas at Austin. Historical Atlas by William Shepherd (1923-26)

The Newest Old

One thing the sciences have shown to be a certainty is that any prevailing theories will eventually be adjusted, perfected, or fall entirely as new evidence comes to light, or old data is interpreted through fresh points of view. This has likely been the case since the scientific method first arose in the third century BC, on and around the island of Samos, along the coast of modern Turkey, at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, among what is now called the Ionian Colonies of Ancient Greece.

Although we tend to speak of such development in swathes of centuries, as one colossus of science or philosophy influences the next, in reality it is an ever-evolving enterprise forwarded by countless minds.

I was reminded of this fact when I read a commentary at Classical Inquiries of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, relating to the latest rethinking of the connections between two civilizations of the ancient world, the Mycenaeans of southern Greece and the mysterious Minoans of the island of Crete, who flourished more than a thousand years before the likes of Aristarchus and Epicurus were fomenting their intellectual revolution on Samos.

The earlier inhabitants of that isle would have almost certainly been on the trade routes of both locations, even if it was a long and convoluted trip for Bronze Age sailing ships, in the best of weather and wind.

Crete Minoan Trade Routes

Source: nonnotionuhiqa.blog.com

Having read some bits every now and again about who influenced whom and why the Minoans retired to oblivion until they were rediscovered in the early twentieth century, I found it tremendously fascinating to catch up on the latest interpretations. And you might too.

The author of this commentary is Andrew J. Koh, who I met and became friendly with when he was doing his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. After spending many seasons as an archeologist in Greece, he is now a member of the faculty at Brandeis University and M.I.T.

In barely more than a dozen years he has been in on many discoveries relating to life in the ancient Aegean, and the many more opinions and arguments regarding what they will ultimately teach us about the founders of our Western Civilization, and the daily lives of the common people who resided there, so many, many generations ago that it is stunning when I stop and try to fathom such an expanse of time and history.

There are plenty of links to related reading in the notes.

http://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/mycenoan-crete-archaeological-evidence-for-the-athenian-connection/