Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
Monday Map – The History of Rome
A special birthday edition features an animated map that explores the entire history of Rome, from its earliest days as a kingdom, through the massive expansion during the Roman Republic, and on through Roman Empire, which split in two for its final tumultuous years.
Please expect to want to hit Pause and stop to look at certain moments of the timeline in detail!
I never grow tired of history or maps, and love it when they come together so very well.
Our Presidents of the United States
The entire bunch were born in but 21 of our 50 States
Fun Facts from the Washington Post
* Ohio is the birthplace of seven presidents, second only to Virginia’s eight. But, Ohio hasn’t elected a president since Warren Harding in 1920. And Harding didn’t even last a full term, dying in 1923. (Random Warren Harding factoid: His size 14 shoes were the largest of any president.)
* Texas’ two native-born presidents may not be who you think they are. Neither George H.W. Bush (Massachusetts) nor George W. Bush (Connecticut) were born in the Lone Star State. The two? Lyndon Johnson and Dwight Eisenhower. (Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas.)
* Vermont is the smallest state with the biggest presidential punch as the birthplace of both Chester Arthur and Calvin Coolidge.
* California has produced only a single president — and it was Republican Richard Nixon.
The map is sadly out of date.
A Polar Vortex is actually no laughing matter
Chicago is supposed to be colder than Antarctica by the middle of the week. Mornings of frostbite and lung damage are being issued across Canada and the northern United States.
Apparently warm air from Morocco has made its way to the North Pole causing the upcoming vortex where a southerly Jet Stream poles super-freezing air down into temperate zones. An increase in such vortices fits well within even conservative scientific models of the effect of climate change, which is increasing faster than anyone had ever dared to fear possible.
Please bundle up and bring animals indoors. Please report any stray animals you see two authorities as the serious cold approaches.
Update Jan 31.: Chicago reached windchill of -52 below zero.
At least four locations have tied or set all-time record lows:
- Minus 33 degrees Thursday morning in, Moline, Illinois, shattered the all-time record low of minus 28 degrees from Feb. 3, 1996.
- Minus 30 degrees in Rockford, Illinois, Thursday morning topped their previous record of minus 27 degrees from Jan. 10, 1982.
- Minus 30 degrees in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Thursday morning beat the previous all-time record of minus 29 degrees.
- Minus 43 degrees northwest of Mather, Wisconsin, Wednesday tied the all-time low at that location in records dating to 1903.
The Selma March Historic Byway
Martin Luther King Day
The route of the Selma March is now one of the Federal Highway Administration’s America’s Byways and also a National Park Service Historic Trail that is currently closed due to the ongoing attempted Right Wing coups that has shut down the Federal Government.
When Marco Polo visited the island Sumatra in 1292 he recorded its name as Samarcha.
Much of the population had already converted to Islam by that time. But nearly three-hundred years earlier the “King of the Land of Sumatra” (Haji Sumatrabhumi) had sent an envoy to China in 1017. And long before that it was known as the Land of Gold, because of the mines in its highlands.
Map from 1588
And before international jetliners, it was about as far away as one could go, the very edge of the earth, and as exotic an alien world as ever visited by Westerners outside of science fiction.
Below is a section of a much larger map of South East Asia from 1710, with an example of the wonderful detail.
Until well into the twentieth century most of the Sumatran interior was dense rain forest jungles. Over 50% of its natural forests have been removed for farming and human population requirements. The result is the serious endangerment of its many native species, like the Sumatran tiger and the newly discovered the Tapanuli Orangutan, the first new member of the Great Apes in almost a century.
Complete with relief photos and elevation tables, the actual maps from the Normandy Invasion still inspire awe.
Classified as “Bigot,” the highest top secret security level possible, a very few persons even knew of the existence of this and other maps prepared for the assault on Hitler’s Fortress Europe.
Half of Omaha Beach
June Gloom and a Full Moon
June has come with gloom under low, unseasonably cool skies over New York City, mirroring the climate in Northwest Europe at the opening of the most monumental June in human history. [Now June 6, 2017, and it is 56 degrees and with a intermittent sea mist rain that makes this 73rd anniversary’s weather all the more like the 6th of June in Normandy in 1944, than when this was originally posted in 2015.]
The weather was so bad in the spring of 1944 that D-Day was postponed at the last minute, for 24 hours. So the first courageous airborne troops dropped from the sky a few minutes after midnight on June 6, to begin operations prior to the full scale assault that slammed into five beaches, as dawn lit the Normandy coastline west of Caen.
These maps give some indication of the enormity of the invasion, and the amount of detailed planning that went into it.
Some are taken from painstaking copies of original Bigot maps created for the D-Day landings, and available for sale at Alan Godfrey Reproductions.
The Full Invasion Area
Half of Utah Beach
American Naval Operations (Operation Neptune)
British Empire Operations
Canadian Assault on Juno Beach
British Main Assault at Sword Beach
Detail from Bigot map of Sword Operations (English and Free French Commandos)
Detail of British Bigot Map Legends
Britannica’s D-Day site was created years ago, so it has some bad links, but it is full of interesting oral histories by veterans, as well as detailed charts and maps, and other information of interest.
U.S. Army official report on the action at and around Omaha Beach, 6 June 1944. This was prepared and provided to veterans at the 50th Anniversary commemoration in 1994, and based closely on the official report by the War Department, 20 September 1945
A hauntingly beautiful seascape, the skerries along the southeastern coast of the Isle of Islay are now a nature preserve
Home to charming marine life and at least one species of scary skerry folklore
click photos to enlarge
Skerry is the name given to any of the countless little islets that dot the Scottish seacoast, from the Kintyre peninsula at the nation’s southwest corner, to the subarctic Shetland Islands far to the north. The Isle of Islay, the southernmost main island of the Inner Hebrides, just west of Kintyre, is surrounded by a necklace of skeeries ranging from small islands filled with nesting birds, to minuscule teeth of jagged rock barely rising from the surrounding shallow seas that are choked with thick kelp forests and teaming with aquatic creatures.
They were also known to be the haunt of kelpies, shapeshifting water spirits of ancient Pictish folklore, who often came ashore in the physical guise of a horse. Those unfortunate enough to encounter one were beguiled by the promise of a free ride on a beautiful mount, only to be unable to dismount before the kelpie returned to the depths to drown and devour them.
Not exactly Disney’s Little Mermaid.
Before the advent of modern conveniences, villages along Islay’s stormy southeast coast depended upon their local skeeries as a source of food, from seabird eggs, to shellfish, to larger marine life. All such traditions came to an end in 2005, when the South-East Islay skeeries became an official protected Area of Special Conservation.
click to enlarge
The Kintyre Peninsula is seen in the distance of this photo, miles beyond the lighthouse that stands on a small skerry at about the midway way point of the South-East Islay Skerries SAC.
While there are five other locations on Islay designated as protection areas for birds, the South-East Islay Skeeries received their specific designation as a marine ASC due to an important colony of some 600 harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) that rely on the area for pupping, molting, and hauling-out areas, where seals leave the water for long periods of time to socialize, usually segregated by sex and age group.
Some 80% of the SAC is made up of marine areas and sea inlets, while 18% is consists of the skeeries, as well as sea cliffs and the rocky shingle along the main island. The remaining 2% is salt marshes and salt pastures. The topography includes a series of underwater ridges, which provide the seals unique opportunities for hunting and sheltering from the strong currents in that location.
On the coastline near the southern end of the South-East Islay Skerries SAC is the Ardbeg distillery. One of nine active single malt whisky distilleries on Islay, several being known for producing the most robust single malts in the world, Ardbeg makes the peatiest, smokiest single malt Scotch whisky available today.
In 2017, Ardbeg released a special expression of their whisky named Kelpie, in honor of the local kelpie legends and the fact it has a particularly volatile and maritime character, not for the timid tippler of landlubber libations. And you can read an exclusive feature article on Ardbeg Kelpie at our sister site One Man’s Malt.
photos in this post are by Armin Grewe. Check out his marvelous photoblog
And his text and photo blog about one of the coolest places Planet Earth