By William M. Dowd
When I was just a kid and the mountain where I live overlooking the Hudson River was merely a mole hill and we both had a lot of growing up to do, my parents’ and grandparents’ generations used to amaze us kids with their references to far-off places.
“Don’t waste food. Think of those poor, starving kids in India,” they would say.
I had a rough idea where India was. Timbuktu and Borneo I wasn’t so sure about, but they sounded very exotic.
One other common expression referred to digging a very deep hole “all the way to China.” That was imbedded in many of our minds for so long that many of us made the natural assumption the U.S. and China were roughly on opposite sides of the globe.
Despite eventually becoming a geography nut who has books upon books of maps and cartographic history, I never gave the “all the way to China” expression much analysis and just tucked it away in that memory cubbyhole where one keeps old sayings, mottoes and phrases. Until I stumbled across a curious Web site.
It lets you pick any spot on Earth and find out where you would come out if you dug straight through to the other side. For some reason, I picked China as my starting point. I was surprised at where I came out. Not in the good old U.S. of A. Nope.
Fascinated, I tried “digging” from the Capital Region and came out — care to guess? — just west of Australia.
For your kids, this can be a fascinating lesson in geography you can share with them. Once you’ve packed them off to bed, however, you can always turn it into a fascinating new drinking game if you’re of that frame of mind. Pick a starting spot, guess where you’ll come out, and down a shot each time you miss. Educational, entertaining and a lot better than getting caught out in the thunderstorms we’ve been experiencing.
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