Had the smiley face been completed...

…where would its projected boundaries have extended to? I realize that this is speculative in that it didn’t get the chance to have happened, but at the same time, I think that the extrapolation necessary to answer this can be pretty well done within the bounds of GQ- if not, I apologize in advance.


Allow me to be the first: huh?

The mailbox bomber arrested the other day was trying to arrange his droppings in the shape of a smiley face. He didn’t quite get to finish it.

Being the American pig-dog that I am, I just assumed that everyone would be able to, like, read my mind or something. :stuck_out_tongue:

Sorry for the confusion Coldie.


Coldfire, allow me to fill in a regional story. Smoke’s referring to the college aged bomber that drove across part of the US putting pipe bombs in mailboxes.

His pattern in map view at first appeared curious… two smaller circular paths and the beginnings of a larger loop of locations where he’d left the physical manifestations of his stupidity.

Then the larger loop halted abruptly… no more pipe bombs.

Here’s the explanation: this dumbsh*t was creating a giant “smiley face” of bomb locations on a map of the US. His two smaller circles were the eyes and the half loop was the beginning of the mouth. Mid mouth he apparently realized authorities knew who he was and that they’d issued an APB on his car and he broke off his delivery pattern and booked it to Nevada.

Smoke’s question appears to be “Had he not been identified, where would he have struck next?”

Along these same lines I had a question. When they told everyone in those areas that they had to keep their mail boxes open for obvios reasons, why did they only tell the people in those areas. the bombing (until recently) appeared to be very scattered, no one knew where he would be next, why didn’t they tell everyone to leave their boxes open?

Well, putting the center about midway down the Missouri-Kansas border, and assuming the Colorado blast was an endpoint of the mouth, I get a circular face with a radius of about 800 miles, going east-west from the western border of Colorado to western West Virginia, and north-south from the Canadian border to Houston.

The mouth and eyes aren’t quite in the standard ‘smiley’ layout, so the whole thing is a little iffy. YMMV.

Thanks for the succinct explanation, lieu.

Yes, “Where would he have struck next?” is the thrust of the question. But less so, than, if he had been able to complete it, where would the perimeter of the circle have laid?

I read an quick blurb in a local rag this morning calling it an attempted nationwide terrorism campaign. I realize that by spanning several states, this could, in and of itself, qualify as nationwide. But at the same time, I am wondering if it possible from the pattern that emerged, so extrapolate how far east and west (and north and south) the circle needed to outline the smiley face would have extended. Would it have extended to Cali, Mass, etc?

For those underwhelmed by my stunning lack of clarity: http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/05/10/mailbox.pipebombs/index.html


In answer to your question, IMHO it appears he was going to trace through the Gulf and Atlantic coastal states (bypassing Maybe Florida) and end up in or around Virginia.

Hey look, you can see his stupidity from the space shuttle!

It would appear that he didn’t really understand about map projections, either. Smaller scale regional maps shown on the news show the eyes not level with each other - the Nebraska ring being significantly “below” the Iowa ring. They are about a degree different in actual latitude.

However, on the right projection of the US, such as you might find in the Rand McNally road atlas I’m looking at, the eyes line up fairly well on the page, and are fairly well centered. If you want to guess what he was going for, you probably want to look for a pattern superimposed on such a map without regard to the underlying actual coordinates. Say, a polyconic of the contigous 48 states arranged so that the tip of Maine and Seattle are at about the same height on the page at each end.

That said, Salida looks way too far west for the edge of the “smile” part of the smiley. Amarillo would fit very well. Perhaps Salida was part of the outer circle. Perhaps he wanted to throw in a few “red herring” bombs to keep his pattern from being too obvious until he was closer to being done. Perhaps he simply changed his mind. He’s a nutjob - who knows.

It also might seem that he could have drawn neater circles in Nebraska and Iowa. I’m guessing that they may look a little more ragged on the news maps than they are because he placed bombs in rural mailboxes, and the news agencies are marking nearby towns rather than the actual locations.

It was rural Iowa and Nebraska; we don’t put mailboxes out in the middle of fields so that people can draw more accurate smileys with them. Mailboxes can be few and far between in some places.

Didn’t the Zodiac killer have a similar M.O., leaving a trail of murders in a rough Z pattern across several states?