Democratic Republic of the Congo, of course!

My daughter, Clara, is a bit of a geography nut. At the tender age of eight, I would venture to suggest that she knows more about world geography than most human beings.

And it has nothing to do with her intelligence or our attempt to instill a love of geography in her. She simply became curious about the topic and was handled the tools to pursue that curiosity. 

Books. Maps. Websites. 

The desire to learn is so powerful. 

In a recent competition to name countries beginning with certain letters, Clara included these three in countries beginning with the letter S:

  • Sudan
  • South Sudan, "which isn't the same as Sudan!"
  • Singapore, which she informs me is both a city and a country. "Just like Vatican City, Daddy!"

When we reached the countries beginning with D, she opened with Denmark.

I countered with the Dominican Republic and suggested that there might only be two. 

"I can think of another one," she said.

After thinking about it for a minute, I finally surrendered. "I give up. What?"

"The Democratic Republic of Congo, of course!"  

Of course. 

For the record, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and Djibouti also start with D. Clara didn't know North Korea's official name (nor did I) but she knew about Djibouti and quickly showed it to me on a map.

Emergency and Evacuation Plan maps should not be designed to produce panic

Just a thought, but perhaps your Emergency and Evacuation Plan map shouldn’t indicate your present position in an amorphous speech bubble that seems to engender a sense of flame, heat, and panic, and shouts the three words with the use of an exclamation point.

The message should be: “You are here.”

This one reads: “AH! You are here! Right next to the fire! The heat! The flames! The humanity! You’re all going to die!”

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I think my wife married me to compensate for her lack of a sense of direction.

I’ve always been able to navigate well without a map.

Years ago, in a time before GPS, I brought Elysha – who was still my girlfriend – to Rhode Island to visit my mother. When we arrived at my mother’s building, I suddenly remembered that she had moved across town just a week before. 

In the distance, I could see my mother’s new building, a tiny speck on the horizon. We climbed back into the car, and using nothing more than my sense of direction (mostly the position of the sun), I found my way to her new home.


Elysha, who is directionally challenged, couldn’t believe that I had navigated across town without a map and had managed to find my mother’s home. This is a woman who once drove halfway across the state of Connecticut, stopped for a cup of coffee, and then drove almost all the way back home before realizing that she was heading in the wrong direction.

When she told me about this, I asked why she hadn’t noticed that the position of the sun was reversed as she drove in the wrong direction.

I think she wanted to punch me. 

But as we pulled into the parking lot at my mother’s building that day, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen her more impressed with me. I sometimes think that was the day she decided to marry me. My skills, in light of her deficiencies, were just too good to pass up.

It turns out that this disparity in our senses of direction is probably biological and therefore unavoidable. Scientists recently located the part of the human brain where our sense of direction is located and have determined that the strength and reliability of these ‘homing signals’ in the human brain vary among people and can predict navigational ability.

It turns out that my brain is just better than my wife’s brain.