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


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.


Culinary Regions of Indian Food – Monday Map

Indian food is all over the map

Where there is something for everyone

Indian food map

The Science and Math of Indian Food

In two related scientific papers, researchers at the Indian Institute for Technology at Jodhpur investigated thousands of dishes native to the Indian subcontinent before confirming their conclusions, summed up in one of papers’ titles, Spices Form the Basis of Food Pairing in Indian Cuisine.

My initial reaction was to say, “No duh!” But while that may seem obvious to anyone who enjoys great Indian food, the depth and breadth of the research presented in the paper is fascinating and at times mouthwatering.

A PDF of Spices Form the Basis of Food Pairing in Indian Cuisine is found HERE.

Analysis of Food Pairing in Regional Cuisines of India can be read at HERE.

Each has all sorts of tables and figures and lists of the various flavor components.

Spicy Does Not Mean Hot!

When most Americans ask a waiter “Is it spicy?” they are usually asking “Is it hot, as in chili pepper hot?”

While many Indian dishes are “spicy” in that way, there is so much more to the herbs and spices that are used to make Indian food so aromatic and so memorably delicious. The researchers found nearly 200 different spices in use among the 2,500 recipes they chose out of some 17,000 available at the culinary website

The basics of salt, black pepper, garlic, vinegar, and ketchup that stand as the pillars of Western cooking is but a child’s watercolor set, compared to the Technicolor 3D Hi-res extravaganza that is Indian food.

But it is how they are used, and how that differs from Western cooking, which makes it all so very interesting. Where Western cooking is mainly about complementary flavors, the Indian pallet is based on juxtaposing flavors that are more in conflict than commentary. When done right, it can be dramatic as well as delightful, and oh so satisfying.

At present my favorite Indian restaurants in NYC are:

Mali Marke, on 6th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan.

Joy, on Flatbush near 6th Avenue on the border of Park Slope in Brooklyn. Delivery is slow, but very worth it. If you call direct rather than using an on-line ordering system, they will often throw in some free appetizer or condiments – since you are saving them heafty fees to the on-line services.


New York City Landmarks – Monday Map

Wonderful Resource Filled with New York City Landmarks

Interactive map provides a close look at historical sites local to each neighborhood

NYC landmarks map

Tremendous Treasure Map, Easy to Use

Whether you are tourist or a native, so many sites of historical interest often go unnoticed in the whirling stimulus of New York City. This map will let you see what is just around the corner, or provide reasons to visit areas you might not think of at first, when out for sightseeing.

When you zoom in, whole historic districts are illuminated.

Clicking on a an individual site brings up a breakout box, with information and a photo of the site in question, and a link to the official landmark designation.

The Lefferts Homestead in Prospect Park

Lefferts Homestead New York City Landmarks Map

Official Site


The Ocean Floor – Monday Map

Behold the world’s oceans without water

What a magical, mysterious, and exotic “landscape” it would be

map ocean floor


It makes me wonder what the planet may look like after all the water and most of the atmosphere is gone, but without all the dust has filled up smaller crevasses and caverns, as on Mars.

I also imagine taking any square area of the ocean floor from this map and using it as the map of some Tolkienesque fantasy novel, or perhaps a board game or video game filled with exotic humanoid species.

Or simply taking my own journey of 20,000 leagues under the sea.

There is some irony in my finding this map on a website of a science denier, or one more accurately described as a pseudoscience believer. In this case, his claim was to deny continental drift, which has been proven beyond doubt and continues to be measurable today. He also claims the Mid-Atlantic Ridge expanded land mass only once, when it continues to actively spew out the volcanic material that is slowly spreading North America and Europe apart at an average rate of about 2.5cm a year.

But there remain many mysteries of the deep oceans because it is well just so deep. How deep you may ask? Well this video may provide some help in understanding that very question.

See if you can locate the Marianas Trench on the map above.

Scotland 1865 – Monday Map

June 8 1865, 150 years ago today, John Grant purchased Glenfarclas in Ballindalloch, Scotland

Monday Map celebrates 150 years of excellence and dedication to craft with this rendering of Scotland created that same fateful year.

Scotland 1865 map

Hearty people of a hearty land

Scotland had entered into the United Kingdom 1707 but retained its identity when a young Queen Victoria and Prince Albert fell in love with it on their first visit in 1842.

By 1865 all things Scottish were extremely popular in London and by 1875 Scotch whisky had replaced cognac as the Englishman’s aperitif of choice.

Glenfarclas remains an independent, family owned business, where the 5th and 6th generation continue an unmatched legacy of quality and tradition.