Monday, June 30, 2008

Google Maps Finds Me

Earlier this month, Google Maps added my town to their Street View feature. Now you can "drive" down my street and see my home:

I showed the feature to one of my co-workers and he was a bit freaked out... but then I think he also worries about black helicopters and other creepy conspiracy theories.

But then again... maybe we do need to worry about Google Maps Gone Bad...



Friday, June 27, 2008


In 2004, my part of the country, and much of the east coast (New York to North Carolina and inland to Illinois and Michigan) was inundated by the Brood X of cicadas. These harmless insects spend most of their 17-year life cycle under ground, then emerge together to create a ruckus with their mating calls. They are loud. Some cicadas produce sounds up to 120 dB "at close range", among the loudest of all insect-produced sounds. Imagine millions of them in your trees for several weeks during the summer. It can be deafening.

Fortunately, we only have to put up with Brood X here every 17 years. Folks in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Massachusets are currently experiencing Brook XIV:

Get up to date cicada news at Cicada Mania.

These bugs don't bite. They don't spread disease. They just make a lot of noise, make some babies, then die. Low in fat and high in protein cicadas could actually make a healthy snack! However, during their swarm they can be annoying as they fly about, then leave their carcasses to crunch underfoot. An enterprising entrepreneur in 2004 attempted to cash in on the cicada craze by "inventing" the Cicadanator:

I don't know how well he cashed in on the fad, but the website is no longer functioning.

Thanks to Hunter for the Cicadanator images!



Thursday, June 26, 2008

Map Catalog of the Week

Who doesn't love maps? I recently discovered two more blogs focusing on interesting maps:

Map of the Week has been highlighting a new map every week since 2005! The author, "Dug", calls himself a "Cartographer/GIS/map nut by trade originally from Philadelphia now living in exile outside of Boston, Mass." This week's map takes a look at the Map of Web Trends from Information Architects:

Mary Ann Vance started a new blog last month, that she calls "Map Catalog". I presume that Mary Ann is also a cartographic professional of one sort or another (educator?). Her blog posts highlight different types and styles of maps. Her choice of an example of a planimetric map was a stroke of genius!

In a recent post, she offers a population density dot distribution map from the U.S. Census Bureau. The brighter the dot, the higher the population density:


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Origins Game Fair

This weekend, I am attending the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio. Origins is one of the largets consumer game shows in the country. Dungeons & Dragons, collectible card games, minatures, family games, strategic board games and everything in between will be played, demonstrated, bought and sold. Thousands of gamers, game designers, publishers and distributors will be at the Columbus Convention Center.

If you're looking for me at Origins, most likely you will find me in the "Boardroom", a special section set aside for board games, operated by the Columbus Area Boardgaming Society. If not there, then I'll be with the Train Gamers Association, playing games like Railroad Tycoon and Ticket to Ride.


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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why Guys Won't Ask For Directions Part 2

Why Guys Won't Ask For Directions Part 1

From, the repository of secrets on postcards.

Carto-Kudos to the first Carto-Commenter who can identify the city depicted on this postcard

Ding Ding Ding! Of course it is Bangkok. First place goes to Brian!


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Monday, June 23, 2008

Forvik the Free

It looks like it is time to write a new chapter for the Lonely Planet Micronations (Previously noted here).

The tiny island of Forvik, population one, part of the Shetland Islands, has declared independence

No, this is not one of Michael5000's Forgotten Lands... it is a REAL ISLAND.

The owner of the island, Stuart "Captain Calamity" Hill promises to issue currency, stamps and a new flag.


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Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Bretton

[Another entry from Michael5000's Forgotten Lands with maps by Cartophiliac.]

New Bretton
Capital: Ipswich
Population: 12,493 (2001 Census)

Economy: Fish, Optical Equipment

When Newfoundland voted to join the Canadian Federation in 1949, the local vote on the fishing island of New Bretton was strongly against union. One week later, the island’s local government invoked an unusual provision in its original royal charter – dated 1678 – guaranteeing it the right to "dissociate from any colonie, or other lands of ye king, or any conjoining to these at will". Initially dismissed as an anachronism, the clause was ultimately found legally binding by the Newfoundland courts. New Bretton thus became one of the world’s smallest independent entities.

Although they rely on Great Britain for defense and representation in world bodies, New Brettons are a fiercely nationalistic people. “Never call a New Bretton a Canadian,” goes the local joke – “and the bigger he is, the more important that you don’t.” Though to the outsider there might seem to be little cultural distinction between New Bretton and the Atlantic provinces around it, to the natives there is much substance in small differences.

New Bretton is spared many of the Northwest Atlantic region’s economic woes due to the presence of New Bretton Scientific, a leading world manufacturer of precision optical equipment. Occupying a bluff overlooking the capital and only real town, the company’s production facility employs one of every five New Brettons, many in highly skilled and well-paid positions. Local entrepreneur Brian Redham founded the company in his basement in 1962, and is now thought to be comfortably among the world’s richest 100 people.

Flag: A red St. George’s cross is evidence of the English ancestry of most islanders. The white background of the English flag is replaced by blue, however, on New Bretton’s banner. No symbolism is attached to the blue; a typically pragmatic New Bretton once told the author that “they had to pick something besides white, else it would still be the flag of England.”

[Cartophiliac's Note:] While preparing to map this forgotten land, I discovered yet another interesting tidbit of information. It is commonly known that the nation of Canada is covered by six different time zones, ranging from Pacific (UTC-8) to Atlantic (UTC-4) and Newfoundland Standard (UTC-3:30). However, in typical New Brettonish style, the inhabitants have stubbornly refused to acknowledge the "standard time" of their neighbors, and instead insist upon the use of New Bretton Lunar Time (ranging from UTC-3:15 to UTC-3:45) based on a complicated system controlled in part by the phase of the moon. Many New Brettons, not employed by New Bretton Scientific, are engaged as public clock resetters. A daily task.

Congratulations to New Bretton for the distinction of being the 200th post on Cartophilia!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Test your geographical knowledge and help impoverished persons get water...

Yet another one of those "click on this and help a charity" sites (see The Hunger Site and Free Rice). They say that these sites are legit and contribute to the needy. In the case of, regardless of how much goes to charity, it is a fun quiz:

You're on the clock. Locate world cities and landmarks. The closer you get to the answer, the more cups of water donated.

Can you beat my score?

Via GeoLounge


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Firfox 3.0

Firefox 3.0 is now available for download, and the folks at Mozilla are trying to set a world record for the number of downloads in one day.

I tried once and timed out... I'll try again. But here is a map showing how many downloads so far around the world:



The World On Your Plate

Musician, Mike Doughty, recently visited Salamanca, Spain. Presumably in the airport, he took a photo of this tasty looking map:

A Map of the World Made from Grilled Meat.

I've never come across this artist before, but I kind of like his music. I'll have to check him out.

Thanks for Michael5000 for the tip.



Monday, June 16, 2008

You Say Soda, I Say Pop

While I was growing up in Michigan, the only word we used to describe a carbonated soft drink was "pop". When my older brother married a girl from the St. Louis area, I heard her refer to it as "soda", engendering funny looks. Both of these terms come from the older word, "soda pop". Later, as an adult, I briefly lived in the portion of Wisconsin where nearly everyone said "soda" (but then, they don't drink from a "water fountain"... they drink from a "bubbler"... go figure). Here in Ohio, it is mostly, "pop". Strangely enough, many folks in the South just say "coke"... even if they mean orange soda pop, or 7-Up... it doesn't matter. It's all "coke" or "co-cola" to them.

The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy website is an attempt to map the geography of the generic word for carbonated soft drinks:

Based on an unscientific survey, the blueish areas say "pop", the yellow-greenish areas say "soda" and the redish areas say "coke". The data is gathered from participants who stop by the website and indicate their term of preference, and their "hometown".

This is similar to the method used by Common Census Map Project to map the location of fans of professional sports teams.

See United Countries of Football.

Nowadays, I find I use the term "soda" more often then "pop". I'm not sure why. Perhaps it just sounds a bit more dignified.



Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day to Me

Happy Father's Day to Me!

For Father's Day today, I was given a copy of You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination, edited by Katharine Harmon. Yes, I know I've already talked about it here and here. But I was only able to enjoy this book for three weeks at a time, checked out from the library.

There are so many delightful maps in this book, I would like to blog about them all... but that is not necessary, since Katharine Harmon has already put them together for you in this one place.

Buy this book! I love it.

A Father's Day gift from several years ago. My family knows what I like...


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Friday, June 13, 2008

Manhattan Rose to the Occasion

Aware that the Island of Manhattan has lately been taking a holday... Michael5000 noticed a special visitor at the Portland Rose Festival:


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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Railroad Tycoon

I have often written about my boardgaming hobby and games with maps. Many of my favorite games have a railroad theme. Currently, my most favorite game is Railroad Tycoon, and its sequel, Rails of Europe. In this game players compete to build the best routes linking cities throughout the eastern United States. Points are earned by delivering goods. But invest wisely, or you could find yourself so heavily in debt, your liabilities outweigh your assets, and you'll end up losing victory points. The game mechanic for Railroad Tycoon: The Boardgame, is based on an earlier railroad boardgame, Age of Steam, and the game name and theme was licensed from Sid Meier's classic railroad computer game.

The game board for Railroad Tycoon is huge, and can accomodate up to six players. Be ready to use the dining room table, as this will not fit on a standard card table:

The quality of the components is exceptional. City rail links are created by purchasing track hexes. Once connected, certain cities will demand specific goods. Use your rail links to deliver the goods.

Rails of Europe is an expansion that requires the original game (for most of the components), but provides a new map, and can take up to five players. The cities are less congested, but building through the Alps and the Pyrenees offer new sets of problems to overcome.


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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Plates and Babies

Two more examples of maps and globes in magazine cover design.

This issue of American Heritage is from last year. It makes clever use of old automobile license plates to create a map of the United States.

The current issue of Reason Magazine uses a globe.

Anytime a magazine talks about a "global" issue, they like to put a globe on the cover... but I like the combination of the baby and the globe. The article highlights the problem that many developed nations perceive, declining birth-rates. Yet in other parts of the world (China, India) there remain attempts to control population growth?

Didn't Paul Ehrlich predict a huge world-wide crash in the 1980s because of the population explosion?


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Monday, June 9, 2008


[The next entry from Michael5000's Forgotten Lands with maps by Cartophiliac.]

Capital: Gokura
Population: 542,486 (2000 census)

Economy: Shipping, finance, and light industry dominate an internationally oriented economy. Agricultural production is exclusively for local production. Gokura prints no money of its own; the local merchants and cashiers are willing and uncannily able to accept, calculate a rate for, and make change in virtually any significant world currency.

If the impossibly rugged and remote island of New Guinea is to a certain extent a world of its own, then this prosperous little country occupying the lower valley of the Five Bats River is the least typical part of that world. Where Papua New Guinea is one of the least technologically developed countries on Earth, Gokura is a gleaming oasis of modernity. Where Papua New Guinea is loosely governed by a weak central government, in Gokura the state is deeply involved in the lives of its citizens. Papua New Guinea is overwhelmingly Christian and largely off the beaten track; Gokura is Muslim and, at nearly the eastern tip of the island, sits on a natural bottleneck for oceangoing traffic.

Gokura, converted by traders in missionaries in the 13th Century, represents the easternmost spread of traditional Islam. Held by the Portuguese during the colonial era, it was incorporated into Japan’s military empire in the 1930s, gaining independence after liberation by Australian troops during the Second World War. Though much smaller and of a lower profile than other Asian city-states, it has developed a similar prosperity over the last half-century through success in shipping, manufacturing, financial services, and technology. A rare high-profile moment was a 1998 cover story on “Asia’s Other Tiger” in the business magazine The Economist.

Gokura is a self-avowed Islamic state. Non-observance is tacitly tolerated, but public practice of faiths other than Islam is strictly prohibited. The city and its surrounding farms convey an impression of immaculate order, tidiness, and cleanliness. The government ascribes the extremely low crime rate to a faith-based public education system and strict enforcement of traditional Islamic law.

Flag: Intersecting green diagonals, trimmed with gold on official banners (but not on the less expensive flags seen on many schools and public buildings), against a black background. No official account of the flag’s design is known, but the green is assumed to have been chosen to represent Islam.

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

How To Find Your Way Around Atlantic City

Submitted to the Toy Swap 5 contest at (Swapping playthings for everyday items), by bicyclewilli.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I must wear a tie to work almost every day. Sadly, I have only two map ties:

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Nova Hibernia

Another of Michael5000's Forgotten Lands with maps by Cartophiliac.

Nova Hibernia
Capital: N'koutou (formerly St. Patrick, Karlsburg)
Population: 1,443,000 (2000 estimate)

Economy: Produces cashews, cotton, sugar, citrus, timber, and fish. Imports include machinery and equipment, metals, staple foodstuffs, and textiles. Subsistence agricultural is practiced by a significant portion of the population.

The country of Nova Hibernia came into being in 1882 as the colony of German Central Africa. Like most other territories that were created by the Treaty of Berlin, German Central Africa contained a heterogeneous population drawn from disparate peoples who shared no common language, culture, or history. The Germans established a port at Karlsberg, but in their 30 years of rule did not manage to extend practical authority past its hinterlands. Stripped from Germany along with its other colonial possessions after World War I, the now nameless colony existed for several years as a League of Nations Protectorate. After several years of the British and French blocking each other's moves to absorb the little territory, administration was finally handed over in 1924 as something of a gift to the fledgling Irish Free State.

Absorbed in their own lengthy struggle for full independence, the Irish devoted little attention to their "overseas empire." As a result, the Irish administration had an even lighter footstep than had the German. Although adopting some Western innovations, most inhabitants of the newly-renamed Nova Hibernia tended to continue to live and govern themselves according to well-established indigenous systems. When a provisional government set up by native schoolteacher Brian Ktombe petitioned for and was granted independence by the Irish Parliament in 1963, the event failed to make the front page of the Irish Times.

Since independence, Nova Hibernia has suffered two periods of military rule, once for three months in 1969 and again from 1978 to 1984. Ktombe's nephew, Brian Ktombe III, became president in 1985 in elections that restored democratic rule. Since that time, he has been re-elected every six years in elections that, by the standards of sub-Saharan Africa, have been relatively free and fairly contested.
Nova Hibernia is also unusual in Africa in that it never acquired a large international debt. Instead, the country's political elite have long pursued a policy of small-scale local development and grassroots education. Perhaps not coincidentally, Nova Hibernia enters the third millennium with one of the continent's highest standards of living.

Flag: Older colonial banners, like the capital city's name, were replaced at independence. The new design was clearly inspired by the flag of the United States, the country on which Nova Hibernia's federal system was modeled. The ten colored stripes represent the ten federal districts, and the blue field represents the common blood* of all Nova Hibernia's people. Some have speculated that the lack of green, orange, or white in the flag suggests a rejection of all things Irish by the newly independant colony.

*In local tradition, blue is the color of "living blood" (as it is seen in the vein). Red represents "dead blood," and is generally avoided in decoration.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Montana: Top of the Continent

Tuesday is one of the two final two stops on the Democratic Presidential Primary tour, Montana, "Big Sky Country." Here are my two Montana postcards:

South Dakota is also voting on Tuesday, and Puerto Rico voted on Sunday... but I don't have postcards from those places (perhaps you can do something about that...).

While reading about Montana, I was intrigued by an interesting feature of Glacier National Park in that state. Triple Divide Peak, a mountain in the park, is effectively the apex of the North American continent. The mountain sends waters towards the Pacific Ocean, the Arctic Ocean via the Hudson Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean via the Gulf of Mexico. The peak of that mountain "tri-sects" the continent.

Ocean drainage basins provide another interesting way to draw borders around the world.

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