Thursday, November 12, 2015

Up with U.S. Geography: Maintenance Post

It occurred to me recently that I don’t know much more about U.S. geography than I do about world geography, so I decided to expand my Geography Project. From now on, I’ll be doing once-monthly posts about U.S. states. These posts will be very similar to my world geography posts, except that I’ve taken out the Continent category (since they’re all part of the same continent). Instead, I’ll give you two new categories: Date of Entry and State Nickname. I’ll be doing them in order of entry to the union. Therefore, the first one will be Delaware, a post that will be up within the next few days.

Here’s a refresher course on what information these posts will contain:

State Name:
This is the name of the state, in English.

This is the name of the state’s capital city, in English.

Date of Entry:
The date that the territory became a U.S. state.

There will be two for each state. One will depict where in the U.S. the state is located. The other will be a close up of the state, including the names of the surrounding states, countries and/or water. These maps will be hand-drawn by me.

This will denote all of the states/countries that share a border with the state in question.

Water Borders:
This will denote any large bodies of water that make up an entire border or a significant partial border of the state in question. Included are: oceans, seas, gulfs, and occasionally bays, rivers, and lakes.

Five Largest Cities:
The five largest cities in the state in descending order. Population numbers will not be given because such stats are very changeable.

Famous Geographical Point:
An interesting and/or well-known geographical point of the state. Where possible, I’ve picked things that should be known across the country, i.e. the Grand Canyon or Death Valley. They will all be naturally occurring, i.e. nothing manmade.

Note that some states have several famous geographical points. Please don’t be offended if I didn’t pick the one you think I should have, but feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

After getting to know a little bit about the geography of each state, I thought it would be fun to know some of the culture/pop culture. Therefore, I’m including the following categories:

State Nickname:
The state’s nickname, in English.

Famous Person:
A famous person who was born in that state. I am not including people who were born elsewhere but moved to that state, even if they did so as babies. Where possible, I’ve picked a name that I recognize. Barring that, I’ve picked someone who sounded interesting to me upon further research. I’m trying to keep this fun, so I’ve picked people who have had a positive influence on the world, so don’t expect to find despots or criminals in here (i.e. no Ted Bundy, etc.). Presidents are too easy so I’m unlikely to pick them.

Note that pretty much every state has produced multiple famous people. Please don’t be offended if I didn’t pick the one you think I should have, but feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

Book Set In/About:
A book either set in and/or about the state, either fiction or non-fiction. I took suggestions from Goodreads and tried to pick books with ratings of 4 stars or higher. I also tried to pick books that sounded interesting, in case you or I might want to read them someday.

Note that pretty much every state has produced lots of literature. Please don’t be offended if I didn’t pick the book you think I should have, but feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

Movie Set In/About:
A movie either set in and/or about the state, either fiction or non-fiction. In some cases, I had to settle for a movie made by a director from that state. I took suggestions from several sources online and checked them against IMDB. I tried to pick movies with a rating of 7.0 or higher, in case you or I might want to watch them someday.

Note that pretty much every state has produced lots of movies. Please don’t be offended if I didn’t pick the film you think I should have, but feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

Headline of the Day:
Right as I am about to post the state, I will google the state’s name. The first news headline that pops up will be what I post here.


Patricia said...

Oh goodie! Unlike world geography, I have a good handle on US geography. I think if I were doing this project, I would include state motto, because I always find those interesting.

One time on a road trip with three friends from college, we entertained ourselves for hours with a US Atlas that listed four things for each state: capital, nickname, flower and I think gem, (odd choice). Someone would say, "Delaware's capital?" and someone else would answer. Then that person would get to say, "Hawaii's flower?" and whoever answered that correctly would get to say the next question. We were good at capitals and nicknames (especially after we had gone through all the nicknames once) but those flowers and gems kept tricking us.

Let's see if I can do Idaho right now off the top of my head:
Idaho is surrounded by British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Montana. It is located in the West/Northwest (Growing up in Idaho, I never associated it with the Northwest, but a lot of people lump it in.)
No water boarders. Landlocked. Northern Idaho has some very good lakes.
Five largest cities. This is tough. Boise. Then I'm betting the next largest is no bigger than 100,000 people. (I know you aren't including population, but there are so many cities that could be the next largest.) I will be interested to see if any of the top five are cities around Boise that when I was growing up were very far away, but now seem to be suburbs of Boise.
Landmark: Gotta be Craters of the Moon. (Which I've never been to)
State's nickname: The Gem State
Famous person: Right now only politicians are coming to mind. Frank Church was one. I'm not remembering any famous non-politicians born in Idaho.
Book set in/about: Another tough one. There were no campaigns I remember of "Great Idaho Literature" so I can't answer this with what is a correct answer. So I will say, Chris Crutcher's Running Loose, which takes place in the town of Trout, (aka Salmon) Idaho. It is also a very good (and short) book.
Movie set in/about: I'm going to list My Own Private Idaho here even though the time spent in Idaho is minuscule. That movie actually takes place in Portland, Italy and Seattle. To me Napoleon Dynamite is the Idaho movie that really reminds me of Idaho.
Headline of the day: Idaho [something to do with taxes]. This one I'm actually going to check: FBI opens investigation into Idaho rancher's fatal shooting by deputies
Not close at all.

That was fun. If I wasn't hungry for breakfast, I would do Oregon too.

balyien said...

Oh, well done! I may use some of your suggestions when I get around to doing Idaho. I did a quiz recently that was largest and second largest cities in each state (if you love trivia and have a lot of time to waste, head on over to Jet Punk) so I should know what #2 in Idaho is but I've already forgotten. I'm pretty sure it's a Boise suburb.

I don't think I'll be adding any other categories, but I'm considering adding an explanation for the nicknames. We were talking about Pennsylvania the other day (after showing Groundhog Day to my brother; he'd never seen it) and wondering why it was called the Keystone State (because it was the "keystone" of the "bridge" that made up the first 13 states). That made me think that it would be nice, since some states don't have the most obvious nickname, to explain where they come from.

Patricia said...

I like the idea of explanation of the state name. I always assumed Pennsylvania was called the Keystone State because of its shape. The truth is much more interesting.