Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dottie Mann: Loving life

Dottie and Bill Mann at home in Barstow.
Desert Dispatch

Dottie Mann, the sole owner of Brubaker-Mann, a producer of colored rock for landscapes and roofs, was born in St. Louis, Mo. in 1933.

When she was a young girl, her parents moved the family to Illinois where Dottie attended high school. When she was a junior in high school the family moved to Santa Paula. After high school, she went to Pomona College where she met Bill Mann, her future husband.

Q: Why did you move to Barstow?
A: In 1953 during my Sophomore year at Pomona College, I met a graduate from Pomona College named Bill Mann. He had already established a business along with his cousin, Ron Brubaker, in 1950 called Brubaker-Mann Inc. We dated four weeks and then were married in the church on the College campus. I knew he was going to be a success and he also wanted children which was very important to me. So I moved to Barstow with him and our first home was a duplex that he built on Highway 58 just west of Brownie's Liquor.

Q: What is your passion?
A: Living in the Desert became my first passion. Later I started buying antiques and before long, our home was filled with these items. So, Bill said that I had to either quit buying or start selling antiques. Well, as we all know, any red blooded American female does not want to quit buying so I started selling antiques at shows throughout the west including Arizona, Utah and Neveda. In fact my first show was at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas. I continued working these show for about 15 years until I had a serious car accident.

Q: Describe a special memory you have of Barstow.
A: My husband, Bill, and I have very much enjoyed being involved in the Mojave River Valley Museum. We love all the times of going to the Annual Museum barbecues.
Bill was president for one year and we led the Museum excursions for about 25 years. We met many wonderful and long time friends during these trips. We were fierce protectors of the desert.

Q: Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.
A: What you see is what you get!!

Q: What are the top three issues facing the Barstow, and what’s your take on them?
A: The number one issue to me is the anti-business attitude that our city government has seemed to adopt. When I see a new business trying to start up, they are thrown with many regulations and requirements. Our town needs to grow and improve and this attitude prevents that.

A close second problem is the homeless and welfare recipients that roam our streets freely to steal, deface, damage and litter wherever and whenever they want. This single problem will eventually kill Barstow. They need to be out of Main street motels and away from business and private residences. We as taxpayers have the right to live in a safe and secure and clean society.

My third concern is the vacant buildings throughout the town. Of course this goes back to the anti-business attitude. The city needs to contact these owners and assist them, not necessarily with money, to upgrade or raze these properties. Barstow looks like it is dying.

Q: What person, living or from history, would you most like to have dinner with and why? What would you ask them?
A: Even though I am an ardent Republican, I would love to have dinner with Harry S. Truman and his wife, Bess. His attitude was depicted in the famous quote, "Give Um Hell." He was a gutsy leader and because of this, he ended WWII.

Q: Where do you get your values from?
A: All my values came from my Mother. She was hard working, religious and very honest. She worked for everything she earned and did not look for handouts. Now a days, too many look for handouts instead of working for them. This is not the American way. Shame on them.

Q: What’s your favorite movie and why?
A: I do not watch movies but my favorite TV interests with the stock market and national news so those two channels are CNBC and FOX News. Because of this, I feel I stay well informed on most issues.

Q: Tell us about your favorite thing about Barstow.
A: I love most things about Barstow. My children went through the local schools here and all lead successful lives. I have many friends here and thus many memories.

Q: What is the ultimate issue facing the United States, and what’s your take on it?
A: The ultimate issue is the fact that our current Government wants to take us towards a socialistic country like those in Europe. That means government intervention into our daily lives, more people on entitlements, higher taxes and a bankrupt government. That is a slow death and we will follow Greece if it is not stopped. Lazy Americans need to suck it up and start earning their own way.

Q: What is the best thing about your job?
A: As the sole owner of Brubaker-Mann, my job is to keep track of everything and ensure that the business continues to be successful. We have been in business for over 62 years. One of my main concerns is the welfare of my employees, some of whom have worked for me for over 30 years.

Q: What is your secret to living a happy, satisfying life?
A: You can always tell that when a person has a happy and satisfying life, he or she is a very positive person. Have you ever seen a person walking around with a frown on his face? That person is not a successful person. I have always been positive, even in hard times. I believe that is why I have a very happy and satisfying life.

Q: What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
A: I don't believe I have any guilty pleasures. I don't smoke or drink to excess. I don't over eat or indulge is excessive sweets. I love my life.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: Hopefully above ground. I will be turning 79 this November and am still in very good health.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Treasure Trove of Old Maps at Your Fingertips

A map of Chicago, Illinois, imprinted in 1913 from the United States Geographical Survey’s historical topographic map collection. Image courtesy of the USGS.
by Susan Spano
Smithsonian Magazine

Map lovers, rejoice! The United States Geological Survey, headquartered in Reston, Virginia, is about to complete a massive project to digitize its cache of approximately 200,000 historic topographic maps, previously available only in print or in some cases out-of-print, meaning that people searching for a special old topo had to go to the archive in Virginia to take a look.

Who cares? Geographers, geologists, hydrologists, demographers, engineers and urban planners, to be sure. Also people interested in local history and genealogy, says the USGS. And, if you ask me, travelers who want not only detailed maps for pursuits like walking and biking, but information about what a place looked like in the past. For instance, the course of rivers before impoundment by dams, villages that have grown into cities, vast empty spaces in the West now crossed by superhighways, mountain ranges reconfigured by volcanic eruption.

Some of the oldest maps in the USGS Historical Topographic Map Collection show the Chicago Loop in 1929; Tooele Valley, Utah, in 1885; New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1888; Colorado’s Mosquito Mountains in 1886. When taken as a whole, the collection can be considered a National Map, a cartographic library of “last resort,” says archive manager Greg Allord, containing hard-to-find maps when all other sources fail. Allord says that scanning is now complete, though processing may take until September and some maps found in other libraries will eventually be added.

Meanwhile, it doesn’t take much computer-savvy to search the collection by state, scale or original map name. I just tried it, successfully downloading and printing a 1886 topo map of the Escalante River watershed in southern Utah. What will I do with it? I don’t quite know, but it’s free because the collection is in the public domain and making it broadly accessible is part of the program’s mandate.

A few definitions may be useful for laypeople who want to try it out: A topographical map shows physical features and elevations, usually with contour lines. Topo mapping done by the USGS generally divides the country into quadrants, or quads, bounded by two lines of longitude and two lines of latitude; the most popular are 1:24,000 in scale (one inch on the map representing 2,000 feet on the earth surface), available in sheets that show 64 square-mile areas.

Since the advent of digitized maps, new words have been added to the cartographic lexicon like georeferencing (a method of adapting old map information to contemporary computer-based geography, a study now known as Geographic Information System or GIS) and metadata (background map information, sometimes part of the legend), not to mention technical computer terms like Bagit, TIFF, GeoPDF—but let’s not even try to go there.

There was, of course, no such thing as georeferencing when the USGS was created by Congress in 1879, chiefly to locate and describe potential mineral resources in great swatches of the country that hadn’t been closely studied. By then the government had funded several surveys, marking what Clarence King, the first director of the USGS, saw as a turning point, “when science ceased to be dragged in the dust of rapid exploration and took a commanding position in the professional work of the country.”

John Wesley Powell, the great Colorado River explorer and second director of the USGS (1881-94), believed it was impossible to convey geological information without a topographic component, though he came under fire from Congress for the added expense it entailed. As a result, topographical surveying has long been intimately connected to geology in the U.S. (unlike Britain, which has separate divisions for topographical and geological mapping) and the USGS is part of the Department of the Interior. The oldest maps in the USGS collection come from Powell’s time.

It’s fitting to note that the Smithsonian Institution was a supporter of Powell’s surveying expeditions; indeed, he went on from the USGS to serve as director of the Bureau of American Ethnology, later folded into the Smithsonian Office of Anthropology. And even now the connection remains strong with the USGS and the Smithsonian cooperating on the Global Volcanism Program, which publishes a Weekly Volcanic Activity Report detailing geothermic events that may someday require new topos.