Articles by Peter Amram

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  • Literary Orienteering

    In which we periodically examine how art imitates life and life imitates orienteering.

    by Peter Amram

    Literary Orienteering, or Lit-O, is not sterile cogitation by professors at Ivory Tower U. English departments but rather a search in books similar to that quest in the woods for little triangular box kites with a code and a recording device

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  • Literary Orienteering #2

    In which we periodically examine how art imitates life and life imitates orienteering.

    by Peter Amram

    The hero of Kim, Rudyard Kipling's classic of adventure and intrigue in India in the late 19th century, is a young Irish orphan, Kimball O'Hara. Kim enters a school specializing in geography and cartography. His covert sponsor for

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  • Literary Orienteering #3

    In which we periodically examine how art imitates life and life imitates orienteering.

    by Peter Amram

    Jim Crawford of NEOC alerted me to yet another instance of Lit-O, in which the written page yields a union of life, art, and orienteering.
     
    It was a very high-profile race, featuring a unique chase start,
    ...
  • Literary Orienteering #4

    In which we periodically examine how art imitates life and life imitates orienteering.

    by Peter Amram

    In Sermons in Stone, a cheery rumination on that staple of off-trail orienteering in the northeast, the stone wall, the author, Susan Allport, declares:

    Taken together, the states of New England and New York

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  • Literary Orienteering #5

    In which we periodically examine how art imitates life and life imitates orienteering.

    by Peter Amram

    The Map Thief, by Michael Blanding (2014), relates the perplexing story of E. Forbes Smiley, III, who made a smooth transition from respected antique map dealer to prolific thief of those same objects.

    Smiley, who had access to

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  • A Village Too Far

    by Peter Amram

    Historical note:

    Grigory Potemkin, an 18th-century marshal in the Russian Army, aspired to the confidence of the Empress, Catherine. To demonstrate his diligence on Russia’s behalf, Potemkin ordered facades of fake prosperous villages erected along routes that Catherine traveled. Catherine proved a gullible czarina: much impressed, she granted Potemkin influence in her

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  • iPhone Orienteering

    by Peter Amram

    My wife’s new iPhone comes with a diminutive booklet of instructions printed in type so small that my O-loupe with 2.75x mag is needed just to bring the letters into focus. (The center of the Pawtuckaway map is pellucid by comparison.) The legal department at Apple seems to have urged more than usual lawyerly elusiveness on whoever wrote the booklet, for it contains no page
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  • But cartocontroversy isn't even in my spell check!

    by Peter Amram

    Mark Monmonier, a professor at Syracuse University, is the author of the 1994 Drawing the Line, tales of maps and cartocontroversy. Prominent among the cartocontroveries are the Vinland Map, a fraud which purports to show pre-Columbian discoveries in the New World,

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  • Caveat Numerator

    by Peter Amram

    Although Norman Maclean is best known for his 1976 collection of fiction, A River Runs Through It, his posthumously published Young Men and Fire (Chicago, 1992)

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  • An Orienteering Clinic at 221b Baker Street

    by Peter Amram

    Doctor John Watson, sidekick and chronicler of Sherlock Holmes, had been orienteering poorly for some time. The dialogue below is exerpted from A Scandal in Bohemia, a tale which appears to concern an indiscretion by some petty German king but is in reality crisp O-advice from Holmes, who is invariably first in his class (M155+ as of this year).
     
  • Your Attention, Please!

    by Peter Amram

    Ever wonder why you missed that strong trail coming in from the left, even though you had a good pace count going? Perplexed about running right by the 2-meter boulder because you were sure it was the nearer one, and you kept going, and going? Just didn’t notice passing over the ruined stone wall that was to have been a collecting feature?

    Alex Stone, who

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  • Smarter is Faster

    by Peter Amram
    Originally appeared in theNEOC Times, Volume 36, No. 1, Dec/Jan, 2005/2006

    The best way to improve time on the O-course is to reduce the frequency and magnitude of mistakes.

    If you could have trimmed 10 minutes worth of errors off that last 67-minute run on

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  • Running the Numbers

    by Peter Amram
    Originally appeared in the NEOC Times, Volume 35, No. 6 , Oct/Nov, 2005

    Because each orienteering course is unique, and because terrain varies, absolute time spent on a course is rarely significant. Competitive runners care most about their ranking compared to others, while recreational folk are concerned with attaining a feeling of

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  • A Flow Chart

    by Peter Amram
    Originally appeared in the NEOC Times, Volume 35, No. 5, Aug/Sep, 2005

    A truism about orienteering is that the sport is 50% physical and 50% mental. There is, however, a third component, which might be termed "administration." Administration refers to procedures which relate specifically neither to foot speed nor navigational skill but which

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  • Levels of the Game

    by Peter Amram
    Originally appeared in the NEOC Times, Volume 35, No. 4 , June/July, 2005

    Choice is at the heart of orienteering.

    You decide for yourself which course you want for the day, whether to go alone or in a group, what pace you want, and which routes you prefer. The first and most important choice is which course to select. At each NEOC event a

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  • The First Control

    by Peter Amram
    Originally appeared in the NEOC Times, Volume 35, No. 3, April/May, 2005

    The most important control on any orienteering course is the first one. Experience has shown that problems on #1 often presage difficulties throughout the course, or at least until the orienteer has had time to "settle down" sufficiently to see the map and its scale clearly

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  • Advice to Adults Working with Children

    by Peter Amram

    Continually remind the child to hold the map properly: flat; in the "weak" hand; thumb on present position; and oriented correctly. This is the most important technique for any beginner to master. Cheerfully, ceaselessly, insist that the map be held properly.

    Encourage an interest in the contour lines even if it means interrupting progress on a leg to notice a nearby hilltop or spur or

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  • Advice for Children

    by Peter Amram
    Originally appeared in the NEOC Times, Volume 35, No. 2, Feb/Mar, 2005

    Hold the map properly. If you hold the map properly, it will show you where to go.

    Hold the map with your "weak" hand, that is, with your left hand if you are right-handed, and with your right hand if you are left-handed. That way your "strong" hand is free for other

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