"If more students were self-starters, fewer teachers would be cranks."
- Dian Ritter
I doubt many students returning to school here in the dead of summer agree with my granddaughter. She's excited that her long, b-o-r-i-n-g vacation is over. Funny, but it seems like yesterday she was counting the days until her l-o-n-g vacation began.
I doubt I could muster much excitement if I, too, were returning to the classroom just now. But I do love to study, learn and, perhaps, pontificate a little too much after I've discovered some new fact.
So, wouldn't you know it, just as I'm preparing to dole out sympathy when the back-to-school excitement wears off, I have a new subject to research: comparing facts about Georgia with other states in the Union. I realize I may have lost 2/3 of my readers with that last sentence, but if the rest of you hang on until the final paragraphs I'll have a "stately" surprise for you to enjoy.
Georgia, as I learned when I arrived in the South, is the largest state (in area) east of the Mississippi. I didn't know that, or that Alabama was the border state to the west. However, I was surprised to learn Georgia's largest city barely made the top 50 (in population) in the country. Based on the 2000 census and coming in at No. 39, Atlanta is smaller than Albuquerque; Charlotte, N.C.; Denver; Virginia Beach, Va.; and Las Vegas. Also, with a statewide population of 8,560,310 people, Georgia has just over a half million more people than New York City. Or, to put it another way, without the cities of Atlanta and Augusta, our state and the country's largest city would be tied.
I dreaded the next part of my research, knowing I'd have few bragging rights when it came to the stats of my home state of Maine. It would take only three Atlanta's to equal the population of the whole state. It also takes five of the six New England states to almost equal the size of Georgia. (Massachusetts is almost as populous as the other five combined.)
But Maine has her share of honors, too, including the longest shoreline (including islands) on the East Coast, the easternmost city (Eastport), and the highest point on the Atlantic coast: Cadillac Mountain.
nd now that your daily dose of trivia is complete, settle back and enjoy your "stately" reward. No comparisons here, just an old puzzle I found with the names of 20 states hidden in the following letter. The answers may be inside a longer word or overlapping several words. For example: In "that exasperated me," you would find "Texas." See if you can get all 20. (Answers and names of those who find 15 or more will be published.)
"Aloha Georgianna! What a vacation! We started in Las Vegas and now are in Maui. Though Vegas was scorching and arid, a hot day always makes me happy. John and Mary landed here first, and Al and I came in later. We didn't miss our island shuttle to Lanai even though we were running late, but boy, did Al ask a concierge a lot of questions.
On Friday we went to a luau where the aroma in each bite was so pleasant we couldn't help eating more and more. Gone just 8 days but I've gained 10 pounds. One guy was such a comic - Higans was his name - and we met a model. Aware of this, Al and John had to pose with her! Tonight we're off to Oahu. Tahiti is next, but first I'm going to grab some water with lemon, tan at the pool, and turn the beautiful brown color adored by everyone here.
Tell India, Nancy, Louis, Ian and Joe 'Hello.' When we get back we'll have to connect. I cut out enough pictures to cover months of collages. I also have so much laundry I'll be washing tons of clothes for days. Oh, I ordered a wonderful dessert last night - caramel sauce over bananas and ice cream. The trio was scrumptious. See you soon!
Neva D. Adams."
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer. E-mail comments and puzzle answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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