Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Latitudes, Altitudes, and Attitudes

There are a lot of factors in this thing we call climate.

What first got me thinking about this idea was something I touched on in an earlier post, how the climate is so different in the two places we usually sail – here at Five O’Clock Somewhere on Heron Lake, and during the colder parts of the year, down south at Elephant Butte. The difference in climate comes both from altitude (Heron is about 7200 feet above sea level, while Elephant Butte is somewhere around 4000 feet) and from latitude (Heron is at about 37 degrees north; the Butte is about 33 and a half).

That led me to think about the various correspondents to this blog, to compare their locations, not just for sailing, but for general thinking about where they are. For locations in North America, I was able to get information from the American Map/Discovery Channel 2004 Road Atlas on latitude, although not on altitude. My southernmost regular is at 27N, and is probably barely above sea level. Definitely a warm place. I don’t currently have any regular commenters from San Diego, but if there were, they’d be just shy of 33N. Then there’s another regular at nearly 36N, inland enough that there must be some hills, but probably still fairly low altitude. My northernmost North American regular is a bit below 41N, and although not too far inland, the map does indicate hills.

Now for the really cold stuff. I have a few regulars in Europe. People tend to think that the United States and Europe are pretty directly across the Atlantic from each other, but that’s not the case – Europe’s a lot further north. The year I lived in a village in England, near Didcot, we looked at maps and found something interesting. If one starts in Didcot and travels due south until one gets to the latitude of Los Alamos, one is in Tunis. And if one starts in Didcot and goes due west until reaching the longitude of Los Alamos, one is in Saskatoon. Among my regular visitors, there are two at about 50N and one about 60N. I’m guessing both locations are fairly low altitude, but they’re still likely to be pretty darn cold.

There is currently a beer commercial, and before that, there was a song (by you-know-or-should-be-able-to-guess-who) about changing one’s latitude leading to a change in attitude. Presumably, being in a more southerly place also leads to a more laid-back approach to life. Well, yes, my southernmost regular is definitely a relaxed guy, and my northernmost North American regular is absolutely a go-getter. But my overall northernmost contributor is another really laid-back person. But wait, I may hear some of you saying, he’s an American transplant, so really, the latitude he came from is what counts. Well, if that’s the case, he’s from 43N.

So mellow isn’t necessarily related to being in a balmy climate. It probably also isn’t related to drinking a particular brand of beer – although a lot of that does happen at 50N.


Blogger Tillerman said...

Climate is also related to the moderating effects of the ocean and of ocean currents. My birthplace in the UK at 53N is a lot milder in the winter than my current home in NJ at 41N. Something to do with the Gulf Stream, I believe.

As for beer, don't forget that Brits drink it warm. What effect does that have on our attitudes?

Thu Dec 22, 07:21:00 AM MST  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Yes, that's true -- the Gulf Stream definitely keeps Britain warmer than it otherwise would be. I remember the year I spent there -- there was seldom snow, and I remember the climbing rose that grew up the side of our cottage had blooms at Christmas time -- big, pink, old-fashioned flowers the size of cabbage heads. (The cottage was Victorian -- the rose may not have been, but it sure looked the part!)

As for the warm beer, I don't know. I usually drank lager, which even the Brits serve chilled.

Thu Dec 22, 11:23:00 PM MST  

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