Wednesday, April 22, 2009

No Comprende, It's a Riddle

I know, I know. It's math, right? So I'm not surprised that it has recently come to light that the original 1868 survey of the Four Corners – the only place in the United States where four state boundaries come together – is off by 2.5 miles.

According to readings by the National Geodetic Survey, today's official marker is supposed to sit at blah-blah-blah W longitude and yada-yada-yada N latitude. But according to three different Internet sites for distance calculations (including an FCC site and GPS visualizer) the really real readings actually stand at yeah-yeah-yeah; alrighty-then; and whatever-man-I-believe-you miles.

Then, most likely thanks to all that Red Bull and Doritoes he's spent years consuming down in his parents' basement, some smarty-pants member of the Utah Association of Geocachers used two other Internet sites, Google Earth and the Great Circle Calculator, resulting in a definite determination of a 2.5 mile miscalculation.

Makes you wonder what else we've miscalculated over the past couple hundred years, right? Then again, I'm not really surprised we got it wrong. It's a wonder we could even locate our own feet in 1868, much less anything else using, what, a pencil, piece of paper, and our fingers? Okay, so maybe an abacus was involved there somewhere.

Or maybe, just maybe, the original survey had someone like me along:

Intrepid U.S. Geologic Surveyor Dude #1: Okay, guys, I know it's late and we're all tired, but let's check these calculations one more time. Future generations are counting on us to get this right.

Intrepid U.S. Geologic Surveyor Dude #2: Hey, Moi! (whistles). Get back here and get with the program. We don't need you getting lost again.

Moi: Oh, come on. This is way too hard, and I just broke a nail. How do we know any of these number thingees are correct anyway? Calculators haven't even been invented yet. What do you say we just mark this spot right here, call it a day, and go pound down some brewskies at Ye Olde Tavern down the road? I'm buying.

Still, what to do? There is hardly a family in America that doesn't have tucked away somewhere in an album or fraying cardboard box, a photo of themselves frolicking on the official Four Corners Monument.

Therefore, according to an article in Desert News:

"There's little chance of moving the monument, especially because millions of dollars have been spent to improve it and because the current state lines have been firmly established now for 110 years."

There you go, folks. Commerce first.


Heff said...

Yeah, what the hell. Just leave it be. I'm sure the taxpayers would have to "eat it" if they corrected it anyway.

NYD said...

I'm reading this and the only corollary that pops into my head is this punchline: What's time to a donkey.

Ya know what I mean???

moi said...

Heff: I'm exhausted just THINKING about moving the thing.

NYD: You have trouble with math, too? Oh good, there's a pair of us.

pamokc said...

I always wondered how they knew exactly where it was, without the obvious river or other natural boundary. But remember, those geocachers have to rely on the accuracy of satellites ... how do we know THOSE figures are accurate?

Boxer said...

I wonder what Lewis and Clark would have said?

"We just traversed this %^*&@^ country, spending years knee-deep in mud and YOU'RE TELLING ME IT MATTERS??"

Or something like that.

Mostly, this line made me spit my coffee out:

"Then, most likely thanks to all that Red Bull and Doritoes he's spent years consuming down in his parents' basement."

Dudes, go get real jobs.

Aunty Belle said...

Heh...soon it woan matter a'tall to nobody--when they throw our fannies in the human habitation corridors so the wild game can traverse from Alaska to Patagonia.


It's "Deseret" news. Not desert.

You're on our list now, heathen!

TROLL Y2K said...

Interesting. Is there anything of value in the disputed territory?

Gnomeself Be True said...

Redraw the state lines.
Geeze, do I have to fix everything around here?

moi said...

Pam: It all just gets way too complicated, doesn't it?

Boxer: "I traversed this country from east to west for three solid years and all I got was this stupid tee shirt." And the rest of us got Las Vegas and the ranch style home.

Aunty: Oh gosh. Wonder who's doing THAT survey?

MDF: Give it your best shot. You Mormonators don't know just how cranky I can get in this desert heat.

Troll: Scrub, jackrabbits, and some Navajo.

Gnome: Well there ya go - problem solved. Why in the heck fire aren't you in charge of everything?

TROLL Y2K said...

Mexican Radio! Awesome song.

fishy said...

I expect the existing location will be "grandfathered".
After all, in another hundred years technological advances will say the current survey is off in some other direction. Might as well stick with what is or changes will be happening every millenia.