Friday, December 9, 2022


The greatest day in history is, of course, my birthday, oddly celebrated with unusual perspicacity twenty-three years before I was born.  It also happens to be the title of an excellent book by Nicolas Best about the final week of what we now call World War 1.

Best understands, as some academics do not, that history is the story of individuals, not trends or labels or movements artificially imposed on often chaotic events, and he relates that final week of madness through individuals, both in the trenches and at home in many parts of the world, some then famous, some who would become famous, and some who were not.  

I found the book fascinating throughout and learned a great deal I did not know.  That Belgian civilians castrated German stragglers as their army disintegrated at the end.  That many, including General Pershing in command of the American forces, were against the armistice because he and they believed the war should be continued until unconditional surrender which was only days away, otherwise Germans would be told their army had never been defeated in the field, but had been betrayed by politicians, and another war would have to be fought.  That many careerist army officers who wanted their records to show how aggressive they were ordered senseless attacks up to the very last minute.  The Western Front saw 10,944 casualties on November 11, including 2,738 dead.  What ironic tragedy to have died in those last eleven hours.

An email from Alan has resulted in my watch now displaying latitude and longitude in degrees, minutes and seconds.  He wrote that in two photos he has seen of Apple Watch Ultras latitude and longitude were shown that way.  This caused me again to search the settings.  When I did I found under Compass Grid System a cryptic list:  DMS; Decimal Degrees; MGRS/USNG; UTM.  There was a check mark beside Decimal Degrees making it the default.  Alan’s acute observation led me to decipher DMS to stand for Degrees, Minutes, Seconds.  I checked that and it does.  

Curious about the other choices, I googled and discovered as those of you who were in the military already know, MGRS stands for Military Grid Reference System.  USNG is United States National Grid; and UTM is Universal Transverse Mercator.  I am happy with DMS. Thank you, Alan.

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