Sunday, March 25, 2018

Point Roberts - land enclave, US exclave, witness protection

I enjoy maps - looking at maps, creating maps, exploring maps. When I was younger and we went on family vacations, I had the Rand McNally Atlas in my hands looking at highway routes. One of my favorite classes in grad school at UTK was GIS map making.

So one day, I was exploring the Canada-US border with Google maps and I noticed something a little weird. I found a part of Washington state surrounded by Canadian land (a land enclave) and US-controlled waters between the land enclave and the main body of land (exclave).

This specific point is called Point Roberts. Point Roberts, Washington.

Point Roberts was created when the 49th was used west of Minnesota until the Vancouver Bay. The five square mile land is at the tip of British Columbia. So when I used street view in Google Maps, I found houses on the Canadian side built up right onto the border. I mean like the US border is part of the lawn border!

Here are some pictures from one of the streets in Canada looking into Point Roberts. Notice the simple yellow painted curb. This is looking from Canada into the United States.

On both sides of this street are houses. Across the road is the start of a recreational area. There is one point of entry for cars and trucks.

So what is Point Roberts economy and education? Children K - 3 attend the elementary school on the point. From fourth grade onward, they must take a 40-minute bus ride through British Columbia to reach Blaine, Washington to go to school.

Economically, Point Roberts has five shipping and receiving companies. Why? Online retail shipping into Canada is costly. Shipping to Point Roberts and trucking it into Canada is much less expensive. Groceries are 30% cheaper and gas a dollar a gallon cheaper than across the border.

During the summer months, Point Roberts doubles in population as Americans come to spend the summer yachting by using the superb harbors and waters.

And with the crossing border and exclave properties of Point Roberts - it has served another useful purpose. A large population of people in the US Marshal's Witness Protection Program live there too.

Google map link to Point Roberts:

Saturday, January 13, 2018


In 1970-71, my mom was taking me to see medical professionals for regular monthly visits in Hays. The trip to Hays took an hour. One-way. So, naturally, I got hungry before heading back home.

That’s where I got hooked on Sandy’s. Sandy’s was a fast-food chain with a Scottish-based theme. The workers wore Scottish-plaid berets and the food was really cheap. 

The menu at the Sandy's restaurant included a 15¢ hamburger, a 20¢ milkshake, and a 10¢ bag of French fries. My favorite, the Mariner (fish sandwich), was 15¢.

Once, I was able to splurge for a Big Scott – two single patties with cheese and the special Sandy’s sauce.  As one could guess, Sandy’s was started by three guys who were unhappy franchisees of McDonalds. The Scottish-based theme and the Big Scott were all directed toward their former partners.

Sandy’s was located at 2700 Vine Street in Hays. That’s where the Hays Chamber of Commerce is now across from Walgreens.

Hardees bought out Sandy’s in late 1971 and then they were gone. A few Sandy’s stayed around with different names. One of those few was Bucky’s in Lawrence. I was fortunate to be a student at KU when Bucky’s was still open for business.

I loved the Scottish motif and the food. Back then, news like the Hardees buyout wasn’t in our life cycle. One day, Sandy’s was there, and another day, it was gone, and we didn’t know why.  The beauty of the Web is that now I can find out what happened to businesses like Sandy’s. Boy, I sure do miss it and those prices.

My favorite Sandy’s television commercial – Big Scott.


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

My View on NFL Protests and Television Viewership

So, after two NFL seasons of hubbub about kneeling during the National Anthem, I might as well wade into the controversy.

My short take: a bunch of ‘much to do about nothing’; a politicized outcry about two percent of all NFL players who are protesting. What about the other 98% - jeopardize their livelihoods? Makes no sense to chop off the 98 percent to slap the 2 percent.

In 2016, then San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting what he saw in policing and the black population by not standing for the anthem. Actually, he sat for the first two preseason games. Then, Nate Boyer, a green beret who served multiple tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, suggested to Kaepernick that kneeling would be much more respectful to him and other veterans rather than just sitting. 

Repeat: Boyer advised that kneeling would be much more respectful than sitting.

The kneeling began after that suggestion from Boyer. The green beret. The decorated military man who also played football.

An odd fact: we found out this year that NFL running back Marshawn Lynch had been sitting for the National Anthem for eleven years. 11 years - for no apparent reason. And no one cared. But Lynch is one of the most eccentric people in the world and no reporter probably even cared what he did on the sidelines.

Kaepernick on the other hand, a few yards short of winning a Super Bowl, was a different matter. Easily recognizable across the NFL and American sports landscape. 

As we found out this year, Kaepernick essentially sacrificed his NFL career for his stance. I don’t think he cares that his football career is over; he is taking his fight onward through his foundation. That what makes America great – creating nonprofits for a cause or for a stance.

Number 45 fired up the NFL base of players and owners calling any NFL protestor a son of a bitch. Even ardent number 45 supporters such as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was not happy with that comment. But as with a lot of things in America today, the disdain was short lived.

Despite the decrease in television viewership for NFL games, the advertising money has increased. Why? Well, NFL games were an anomaly for the last few years. Television viewership in general had decreased the last few years but not for NFL games until the last two years. For advertisers on television, NFL games are still gold even with the decrease compared to other television advertising options.

But as American ways of seeing things and watching things continue to change, I think television viewership in general across the board will change significantly. Cord-cutters have increased; people who stream online are not counted as viewers. Traditional pay TV (cable, satellite, telephone companies) lost 1.7 million subscribers in 2016 and more than 2.6 million cut the cord through September of 2017. Cord cutters use streaming Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime companies plus free over-the-air antennas to supplement their viewing.

Plus, football’s violent nature has been documented to affect the human brain. There are some longtime football families who no longer want a part of it.  This new cultural outlook has affected the game as well. 

We are on a shifting scenery of change, not very comforting to those of us who want the world to slow down a little – it’s easy to take advantage of these shifts for political gain. And again, that may be short lived too.