Friday, April 29, 2005


As some of you may know, I'm a Pennsylvanian born and raised. Growing up in PA had it's share of difficulties. The same trials and tribulations that any kid in any state would go through during their youth. But Pennsylvanians have an extra hurdle. They have a constant battle of East vs West. For example, if you're a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, you most likely despise the Philly Eagles, and vice versa. The same holds true for anything that comes out of these areas. They're just natural opposites. The graphic below illustrates the geographic area of divide I speak of. (more on that to follow)

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Now imagine a kid who was born in western PA and moved to eastern PA to grow up. Accepting the new culture. Trying to fit in. Learning the language. But I did. And before my 5th birthday, I was bilingual. Often times I would serve as an interpreter for those that came to visit from the west. I felt as if I knew my purpose in the world. I could be the great unifier. Put an end to this whole eastside-westside squabble.

So I did what any born ambassador would do I decided to attend college smack-dab in the middle of the state. The epicenter of east-west convergence. There I would champion my cause. I would break the language barrier. An age of peace would surely follow for generations.

Perhaps my most difficult language hurdle was cutting through the "pop vs. soda" barrier. I can't tell you how many times I've been in an eastern restaurant only to see a visiting westerner ask the waitress what kind of "pop" she had. It's like watching a car wreck. The music scratches to a stop. Everyone stops and turns. Tempers flare. It's at that point that I feel obligated to intervene before a fight breaks out. Most times a simple translation will diffuse the situation. I have had my share of close calls, too close.

So what better way to defeat an enemy than to learn about it? To study its strongholds. To pinpoint its weaknesses. That is why I entered the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Using GIS technology, enabled me to see the battlelines. My good friends at the East Central University of Oklahoma are facing an insurgency as well and have joined my cause as you can see by clicking below.

From the map, you can see that we are clearly a nation divided. (and you can also see people in North Carolina clearly can't make up their mind on anything) GIS is a powerful tool. But it's going to take all lot more than new ideas and powerful technology to win over the hearts and minds of ideologies that date back for generations.

So join me. Help me bridge the gap between these deep rooted religions. You may be saying "Del, what can I do, I'm from Arkansas?" Well, first you can get your hands off your sister and go to the dentist, then you can educate your friends or family (is that redundant?).

So help me. Even if you just educate one person a day. Explain to them that it's not "pop VS soda", it's "pop = soda".

And remember, the life you save, just one day may be your own...

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