A Little Knowledge is a Puzzling Thing

First day back at work after Christmas today. Whatever kills me, it’s unlikely to be overwork or stress. I now have a week off, thanks to Covid. A whole week, and nothing immediately comes to mind – I have three haibun to refine for a competition by the end of the month and that’s it. The rest of the year looks comparatively easy.

I’m setting myself some targets to make sure I don’t drift off into idleness but that won’t take me all week.

One project is printing copies of my published submissions as I like to put them in a folder so I can leaf through them on the days when my confidence needs a boost. I have got a bit behind with this and need to catch up. The main problem is that the existing folder is lost. It will be somewhere lurking in plain sight, but I just can’t find it at the moment. For the moment I’m going to start a new folder and transfer them when I find the original.

Another is trying to memorise the capitals of American states, because they often come up on quiz shows. So far it’s not going well. Apart from the difficulties of an aging brain, how did Americans come to select so many unknown towns as capitals? Some of them are world famous and others are completely unknown. You’ think that being selected as the state capital would guarantee a place would become well known.

I then looked up the county towns of England, and found I don’t know as much about my own country as I thought I did, including the development of county names. THe county towns of Somerset and Wiltshire, for instance, were Somerton and Wilton. I’ve never heard of Somerton, and only know of Wilton because of the carpets.

AsΒ  a result of all this new knowledge I now find myselfΒ  thinking “Nebraska” every time I see the word “Lincoln”. I’ve lived in Lincolnshire, I can almost see it from here, but it just doesn’t seem to register. Lincoln, Nebraska is named after President Lincoln, not the English city. It used to be called “Lancaster” which is the county town of Lancashire.

I can’t help thinking that I might have been better not starting down this road as the more I learn, the more I realise that I don’t know.

If I carry on like this I might have to read more articles like this.

31 thoughts on “A Little Knowledge is a Puzzling Thing

  1. Helen

    Interesting article and good points. Also, nice to know about the county towns of Somerset and Wiltshire. I had no idea anywhere had county towns until relatively recently. The first was the county of North Yorkshire – and no it isn’t York 😊

    Reply
    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      To be honest, I thought Yorkshire was all one county for ceremonial purposes until you mentioned this. It’s all too complicated for me. Looks like more work is required. πŸ™‚

      Reply
      1. Helen

        After a cursory look, I’ve just learned that Northallerton is indeed the county seat for North Yorkshire but West Yorkshire no longer has one. I also learned that where I grew up has now been subsumed under North Yorkshire jurisdiction. Not sure if that makes me a Yorkshire woman as I was born north of the Tees.

      2. quercuscommunity Post author

        It’s all very tricky. A number of my family were very confused by the border rearrangement between Yorkshire and Lancashire. York, according to Wiki, became part of North Yorkshire in 1974 but I’m sure it was part of North Yorkshire in 1960-62 when we lived there. Not that I remember, but I remember my Dad talking about it.

  2. LA

    State capitals were originally chosen for there location. If you look at a map you’ll see that many capitals are somewhere in the middle. Back in horse and buggy days, they tried to have it that the capital was equidistant to all parts of the state. Albany, the state capital of New York is about four hours north of nyc and probably not much more than five hours from everyplace else

    Reply
      1. quercuscommunity Post author

        Try looking up Salem. I thought there was one, and that it had witch trials (I can’t spell the state it’s in) but it seems there are over 30 in the US, including Oregon, and 4 in the UK.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      I just looked at a map. I hadn’t spotted that before. I suppose that’s what happens when you get a chance to plan a country. I can’t even find a decent map of England to show me where ours are.

      Reply
  3. Lavinia Ross

    Realizing one’s limits to knowledge would be a great start for all human beings. Among little known and unusual town names over here I have come across are ‘Rough and Ready’, California, Bucksnort, Tennessee and Toadsuck, Arkansas.

    Reply
    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      Those are excellent names, and I’m sure they asr full of history. I just had to look them up…

      I see that Wiki has eight entries for Bucksnort/Buck Snort and that there were once three Rough & Readys in California.

      A whole new world of knowledge I didn’t, until today, realise that I didn’t have. πŸ™‚

      Reply
    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      I was surprised that I couldn’t name all the county towns – we have fewer counties than you do states. Strange isn’t it, how little we find we know sometimes?

      Reply

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