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Knoxville Sketch Map – 5/22/19

I just returned from a 5-day whirlwind press tour of middle eastern Tennessee. The trip encompassed a wide variety of activities, but my primary focus was on the natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities in the region. I took plenty of notes each day and at the end of my visit I used them to sketch out this rough map to highlight some of the memories I made along the way. It’s a visual record of the experience, one that will come in handy when I get around to creating a proper illustrated map. If you like American history, bluegrass music, excellent BBQ, wilderness adventure and some of the friendliest folks around…I highly recommend a visit to the Volunteer State!!
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Mapping Urban Areas – 5/5/19

Cities vs Metropolitan Areas vs Urban Areas. Which term is the most accurate to describe concentrated human populations? “Urban areas” is probably the most accurate, denoting contiguous clusters with a population density above 1,000 people per square mile. Being defined based on population density rather than political borders means urbanized areas are a closer measure for the true size of any city. They measure what’s really there, rather than where governments drew arbitrary lines centuries ago. Check out a deeper explanation and larger map here. [Source: ggwash.org]
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Mapping a Measles Outbreak – 5/1/19

Measles is a highly contagious infectious airborne disease that can be deadly for the very young and immunocompromised. In 2000 the Centers for Disease Control officially declared the disease eradicated among the U.S. population. However, the disease has made a frightening comeback recently, with 2019 being the most notable: in just the past 4 months, he United States has seen the largest outbreak of measles in a quarter century, with the CDC reporting 704 individual cases so far this year across 22 states. Maps of emerging cases is a critical tool in tracking the outbreak. This is a serious situation and one that will likely get worse before it gets better. Learn more at the CDC’s site here.
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Are You Map Illiterate? – 4/20/19

“If I were to give you a blank map with no labels, no highways, just county lines and state lines, could you draw a dot within 50 miles of your house?” That is the question posed by James Spann, chief meteorologist at Birmingham’s ABC 33/40. He was worried (and a bit frustrated) that when maps of the local area were shown during times of severe weather outbreaks, many people didn’t know where they lived. So he started visiting various rotary clubs and other venues to survey average citizens. He found 60-70% of those he quizzed could not pinpoint where they lived. With smartphone turn-by-turn GPS directions, geographic literacy seems to be a serious problem that’s on the rise. A significant number of Americans live in tornado-prone areas, and others may be dealing with different environmental threats, like flooding, earthquakes or tsunamis. Spann sums it up perfectly: “If you can’t identify where you live on a map, you’re just in big trouble.” [Source: WBUR.org]
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Mapping the World of GOT – 3/14/19

I don’t have HBO and I can’t be considered a follower of the Game of Thrones craze…but I am definitely a map geek, so I’m loving all of the loving attention being given to the maps of GOT. So, ahead of the launch of tonight’s 8th and final season of GOT, here are a few links to view, study and gawk at the world of Westeros, Essos and the Shivering Sea! Stark Trek GOT Interactive Maps Essential Maps for the GOT Fan GOT Google Map-style Official Map of Westeros
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Mapping Migrating Birds – 3/12/19

Euro Bird Portal’s LIVE viewer, individuals can look at weekly animated maps dating back to January 2010 up to the present, that show where birds have been sighted in real time. The maps are the result of an automatic data-flow system that connects data from 15 different online bird recording systems which collectively cover 98 percent of Europe. Together, the portals see roughly 120,000 new bird records per day, leading to an enormous amount of data that lets users see where birds are at any given moment. The compilation of the data was made possible by a grant from EU LIFE. [Source: BirdLife.org] Launched in 2015, the Euro Bird Portal aims to compile species maps from all over Europe. The portal offers nine different types of maps including climatic variables. The maps can also be seen side-by-side, allowing users access to more than 50 million map combinations. The maps can be accessed at Euro Bird Portal’s Website.
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Fall Lecture at The Map Society – 3/11/19

I am excited to announce I will be presenting a lecture on my work for The Map Society of Wisconsin this coming fall! The Map Society of Wisconsin was formed in 1996 to bring together people interested in all aspects of maps and mapping – their history, uses, production and preservation regardless of format. The Society was founded through and is based at the American Geological Society Library, housed in the Golda Meir Library on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus. Through the years, the collections have expanded and presently comprise well over one million items including maps, atlases, books, journals, pamphlets, photographs, slides, Landsat images, and digital spatial data. I will post the date and time of my talk once it is confirmed later this summer. 
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Visualizing the Moon – 3/3/19

Marcy Bidney, curator of the UWM Libraries’ American Geographical Society Library (AGSL), will speak tonight about the history of visualizing the moon, from pre-telescopic observations that imagined what the moon might look like to lunar cartography up through the space age. This free presentation includes a special exhibit of lunar maps, globes, atlases, and photos from the AGSL’s collections. This event is part of the UWM Planetarium’s 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing event series. July 20, 2019 marks the monumental achievement, 50 years ago, of the first time humans set foot on another world. [Source: Nisenet.org]
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Erin go Bragh! – 3/17/19

Erin Go Bragh is a Gaelic phrase used to express allegiance to Ireland. It is most often translated as “Ireland Forever.” True, forever is a long time, but Ireland has been around for millenia — the first nomadic people arrived some 9,000 years ago! Anthony Murphy, author and photographer, has been photographing ancient monuments across Ireland for over two decades. Some of the monuments date back to the Bronze Age, possibly around 4,000 years old. “In many cases the monuments have no surface trace, so farmer and landowners are unlikely to know they exist,” says Murphy, who made international news headlines in July 2018 when he discovered a late Neolithic henge using his drone at Newgrange. Murphy has been using GoogleMaps to discover even more sites, which will be added to the Irish national database of archaeological sites and monuments. “At the time, in October 2018, they reported that 71 new monuments in 12 counties had been reported, during the months of June to August.” [Source: IrishCentral.com]  
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Preserving Railroad History – 3/13/19

As far back as the 1870s, Washington’s Puget Sound region was served by the Northern Pacific and the Milwaukee Road. Those lines eventually merged to become the BNSF Railway, as we know it today. The process of consolidating and merging over 200 smaller and medium-sized regional lines required the sale of deeds of all that property. The maps and deeds are now being digitized for preservation and stored in an archive facility in Fort Worth, Texas. “The library contains over 100,00 real estate maps that document the railroad title and ownership. Most of the maps in the BNSF collection are one-of-a-kind, hand-drawn, custom creations that were most certainly not mass-produced; these aren’t the folding highway maps from the gas station or mini-market. However, they were used like maps from the gas station for decades by rough and tumble railroad people who folded them, wrote on them and stuffed them in their dusty briefcases. So now BNSF is working to conserve and preserve all of them.” [Source: MyNorthwest.com]
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Let’s Map the Ocean Floor! – 3/6/19

Did you know…we have more complete maps of the surface of Mars and the Moon are than of our own planet!  But in June 2017, at the United Nations Ocean Conference, an ambitious project — on the scale of a deep-space mission — was launched. It’s goal: to gather all available bathymetric (ocean bottom) data to produce the first definitive high-resolution map of the world ocean floor by the year 2030. The project was given the name Seabed 2030 and is the collaborative effort between the Nippon Foundation of Japan and the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO). “The Seabed 2030 Project will co-operate and collaborate with international organizations, ongoing mapping initiatives, the scientific community, universities, non-Governmental organizations (NGOs), maritime industries, youth organizations, explorers and citizens to: 1) bring together pre-existing data, 2) provide data that are currently not in the public domain, 3) plan cruises to previously unmapped regions and 4) help us get the message out for building a stronger global movement.” [Source: Seabed2030.gebco.net]  
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Map Lover Turned Store Owner – 2/24

Chris Johnson is a 57-yr old Greensboro, North Carolina native who traded in his career as a computer aided draftsman for ownership of the region’s only map store. Pathfinders offers “maps, globes, atlases, flags, GPS and hiking maps.” He says most people want maps for display.  3D laser-cut wood maps of North Carolina lakes and waterways, featuring shoreline topography and recessed lake depths, are his store’s flagship items. Johnson opened Pathfinders just last year, specializing in maps and mapping services to the whole of the Appalachian Mountains, western and northwest North Carolina, southern Virginia and West Virginia, eastern Tennessee and northeast Georgia. His target customers are vacationers looking to navigate the area by plane, boat, car, cycle or on foot. But any map looks good just hanging on the wall, too. Kudos to Chris Johnson…the world needs more map stores!
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Scotland’s Military Maps – 2/17/19

There are over two million maps in the National Library of Scotland’s (NLS) map collection. Many of the earliest maps that survive were drawn up on behalf of the church and served a reconnaissance, administrative, economic or resource purpose. “However, it’s the rich legacy of Scottish military maps over the last five centuries that NLS senior map curator Christopher Fleet will be specifically uncovering when he gives a Winter Words 2019 Literary Lunch session at Pitlochry Festival Theatre on February 17.” The talk with have four main themes: 1) How Scotland’s enemies changed over time, 2) The evolution of military technology, 3) Examination of Scotland’s military geography, and 4) How Scotland’s military maps show more, or less, of the world than other maps. “All of these maps consciously or unconsciously choose only certain things to be represented on the map.” [Source: TheCourier.co.uk] Sounds like a fascinating exploration of how maps changed the course of Scotland’s history!
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Stories in Maps of the Grand Canyon – 2/8/19

“For a geographer or cartographer, a map unfolds a story. They are intricate tapestries that can depict economical, political, and even cultural patterns of a region. Matthew Toro, director at the Map and Geospatial Hub at the Arizona State University Libraries, studies maps, imagery, and geospatial data—from web-based interactives to physical charts. He uses maps to better understand social and environmental issues, such as trends in population demographics of urban areas, sea level rise, and the history of exploration. He and his team at ASU are currently digitizing and cataloging hundreds of maps of the Grand Canyon in celebration of the national park’s centennial this year.” “When you start to appreciate what goes into making maps, there’s an entire scientific intellectual lineage of admirable explorers who risk their lives just to collect raw data about where things are,” Toro says. Click here to check out a short video. You can take a better look of these historic maps of the Grand Canyon and the American Southwest here. Links in the captions allow you to view them in high resolution. [Source: ScienceFriday.com]
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Magnetic North Pole Shift – 2/7/19

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) has just announced Earth’s northern magnetic pole is shifting away from the Canadian Arctic toward Siberia. This movement has forced scientists to update the World Magnetic Model (WMM) sooner than planned (a new WMM is released every 5 years, the next planned release was scheduled for the end of this year). Click here for more details on their website. What does this mean for us, why is it important and what are the effects? The WMM is used by/for: Undersea and aircraft navigation Parachute deployment NASA forsatellite/antenna tracking Federal Aviation Administration for air traffic management U.S. Forest Service for surveying and mapping Compass apps, maps and GPS services Airport runways
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Mapping a Shrinking Wilderness – 2/6/19

“There aren’t many corners of the world left untouched by humanity. Recent research has highlighted that just 23% of the planet’s land surface (excluding Antarctica) and 13% of the ocean can now be classified as wilderness, representing nearly a 10% decline over the last 20 years. And more than 70% of what wilderness remains is contained within just five countries. While global maps are useful for drawing attention to the attrition of wilderness areas, only the greater detail of national and local maps can really help us understand and respond to the threats that face our remaining wild areas.” “The scale of these kind of maps (click here) affects both the patterns we see and how we understand wilderness destruction. This in turn influences how we might respond to and manage the threats to the world’s remaining wild areas. While global maps grab the headlines, they also risk masking the detail in the underlying causes and so have limited use. They may be great for highlighting the problem, but should only be a starting point to encourage us to look deeper and help us appreciate the underlying drivers of these lost wilds.” [Source: TheConversation.com]  
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New Hampshire Stone Wall Mapper – 2/3/19

In New England, hidden in plain sight, there are some 100,000 miles (that’s about four times around the Earth) of centuries-old stone walls dotting the landscape, hidden amongst the forests and hills of the countryside! The walls weren’t really meant to be barriers or boundary markers, but rather a convenient way for plowing farmers to move rocks out of the way. “To learn more about these structures, the New England Department of Environmental Services launched a crowdsourced initiative to map every stone wall in the state, using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) mapping. LiDAR utilizes lasers to produce geological surveys showing land elevation. Through an interactive interface known as the New Hampshire Stone Wall Mapper, interested parties can map the plethora of walls from the resulting aerial imagery.” [Source: Atlas Obscura] Click here for a fascinating interactive Story Map that explains it in excellent detail.
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Memorial Map to Mourn Loved Ones – 1/28/19

Jeremiah Lindemann is a GIS mapmaker employed by the company ESRI (maker of the world’s most powerful mapping and analytics software). He lost his kid brother to an opioid overdose over a decade ago. But seeing so many others grieving over their loved ones who have died from drug overdose, the pain of his loss is fresh as ever. So Jeremiah decided to put his training and personal story toward helping others by creating an online Memorial Map. “Lindemann’s map enables loved ones to post pictures of absent friends and relatives, along with a brief tribute. Alongside the photo gallery is a map that displays where lives were lost, as well as a tally of the death toll in a given community. So far, more than 1,900 people have posted photos and shared stories of loved ones who have died, most of them in the United States, but a few in farther-flung locations such as England, South Africa, Ireland and Australia .” [Source: USNews.com]
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Chosen for Maptacular 2019! – 1/26/19

I am honored and excited to have been chosen as one of 12 artists commissioned to design an illustrated map of one of Milwaukee’s county parks. “Maptacular is a project to reimagine our park maps. There are over 150 parks in the Milwaukee County Parks system, each with their own distinct character; so we’ve teamed up with local artists, designers and illustrators to create parks maps, each in their own distinctive artistic styles.” Check out the artists and maps from last year here.
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No Address? Use a Map! – 1/11/19

A tourist who had visited a horse farm in Iceland wanted to send a postcard to thank the woman and kind family who lived there. She didn’t know the exact address but she did know a few clues: “Country: Iceland. City: Búðardalur. Name: A horse farm with an Icelandic/Danish couple and three kids and a lot of sheep!” She also knew that the woman worked in the local market. So before leaving the Icelandic capital of Reykjavík, she relied on her memory of the place and quickly drew a map of the farm’s location on the envelope. And it worked — the letter arrived as mapped! Apparently this is not a completely unique occurrence there, as only 300,000 or so people live in an area the size of Ohio. (Source: BBC.com)
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One Map To Rule Them All – 1/4/19

On September 21, 1937, a fantasy book was published in the UK, authored by an Oxford professor named J.R.R. Tolkien. It was titled The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, and it would spark a revolutionary and critically-acclaimed series of adventurous tales of hobbits and elves, dwarves and wizards that introduced millions to the rich and magical history of Middle-earth. Going beyond literature, Tolkien’s Middle-earth is a world complete with its own languages and histories and…yes, maps! Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth is an upcoming exhibition (January 25-May 12, 2019) at The Morgan Library & Museum which is planned to be the most extensive public display of original Tolkien material that has been seen for several generations. Drawn from the collections of the Tolkien Archive at the Bodleian Library (Oxford), Marquette University Libraries (Milwaukee), the Morgan, and private lenders, the exhibition will include family photographs and memorabilia, Tolkien’s original illustrations, maps, draft manuscripts, and designs related to The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. An exhibition organized by the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford in collaboration with the Morgan Library & Museum, New York with the support of The Tolkien Trust. (Source: The Morgan Library & Museum)
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Beauty of River Maps – 12/28/18

Until about a year and a half ago, 31-year-old Hungarian Robert Szucs studied geography in the United Kingdom, with a focus on GIS. Now he’s using his mapmaking skills to turn nature’s patterns into contemporary art. He uses open-source software and satellite data to paint the world’s rivers, and in the process revealing an entirely new way of looking at the world. “It’s all 100% scientific, based on satellite data and digital elevation models,” he says. “Every stream and river is placed on a scale of 1-10, based on the stream order (size).” Read more about Robert and his unique maps here. His maps are available for purchase on Etsy, under his moniker GrasshopperGeography.
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Map of Every Building in the U.S. – 12/20/18

Earlier this year, Microsoft’s computer engineers trained a neural network to analyze satellite imagery and then trace the shapes of buildings across the country. This is the first comprehensive database covering the entire United States. Check out these interactive maps of every building in the US.  It’s mesmerizing! “Classic maps answer questions like: How do I get from Point A to Point B? These data images, instead, evoke questions — sometimes, simply: What’s that?” (Source: By Tim Wallace, Derek Watkins and John Schwartz, NY Times)
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Map of Mottos – 12/15/18

“The Star of the North”…”She Flies With Her Own Wings”…”It Grows As It Goes”…”To Be, Rather Than To Seem.” These are not Shakespearean quotes, but rather just a sampling of state mottos. A motto (derived from the Latin muttum, ‘mutter’, by way of Italian motto, ‘word’, ‘sentence’) is a phrase meant to formally summarize the general motivation or intention of an individual, family, social group or organization. (Source: Wikipedia.com) Every state in our great union has it’s own unique motto, and as you might expect, someone put them all on a map! Click here to view this lovely illustrated map and explore the interesting range of state mottos.
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Cheers To A Mappy New Year! – 12/12/18

Have you been struggling to find a holiday gift for that hard-to-shop-for person in your life? I came across a couple of sites with gift ideas for the map maniac or geography junkie in your life (or maybe YOU are the cartographic connoisseur!) — check out the gift guides at National Geographic and GeoLounge.
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Recently Published – 12/6/18

  My map illustration of Cordova, Alaska and the Copper River Delta was recently published in a travel feature in the December/January 2019 issue of Country magazine. “Cordova is known to locals as Alaska’s hidden treasure. It’s a small, hard-working fishing community with a population of about 2,270.  Located near the mouth of the Copper River, it nestles peacefully at the head of Orca Inlet in Prince William sound and has a mystique all its own The area has glacier-carved mountains, wildlife-rich wetlands, lush forests and countless waterways that host many exciting activities such as skiing, hiking, wildlife photography, boating, sport fishing, “flight-seeing” and much more.” (Source: Alaska.org) Click here to download or order a printed map of Alaska to start planning your visit!
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A Better Bus Map – 12/4/18

“In the world of public transit, though — where ridership is on the decline, not just for Cincinnati Metro but for systems all across the country — the craft of map design is becoming more important than ever. The “Better Bus Map” is just the latest in the coalition’s grassroots efforts to make Cincinnati Metro more user-friendly. The proposed map effectively does a lot of the planning and logistical work navigation technologies like Google Maps or transit apps do — just without requiring a mobile device to do it. “Not everyone can use these apps,” says map designer Mark Samaan of the Better Bus Coalition. He has made the map printable in sizes up to 40″ by 48″, and he hopes to see them start popping up at destinations around town. He also would like to see a map like his at Metro bus shelters. (Source: wcpo.com)
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Earthquake Map – 11/29/18

A large earthquake has just occurred outside Anchorage, Alaska. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude of the earthquake was 7.0 and the National Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for coastal zones of southern Alaska. The center said Friday that the warning was in effect for parts of the state’s Cook Inlet and the southern Kenai peninsula. Police in Alaska’s Kodiak island community have told residents to head to higher ground amid the tsunami threat. Kodiak is an island about 200 miles (321 kilometers) south of Anchorage. (Source: CNBC.com) The USGS operates a live map that plots earthquakes in real time. Check it out here to monitor events in Alaska or anywhere else in the world. A cool feature on this map are the red lines marking the edges of tectonic plates.
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Milwaukee Maptacular – 11/28/18

Maptacular is a project launched by the Milwaukee County Parks council, intended to use illustrated maps to reimagine and promote individual parks in the system. “There are over 150 parks in the Milwaukee County Parks system, each with their own distinct character. They teamed up with local artists, designers and illustrators to create parks maps, each in their own distinctive artistic styles.” (Source: milwaukee.gov/) I attended the event and spoke to a few of the artists. Such great talent in our humble city on the Lake! I did not know about this initiative before the artists were chosen, but stay tuned next year because I plan to be posting my own map for Maptacular 2019!  
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Importance of Maps in Fighting Wildfires – 11/18/18

The importance of accurate, updated maps in the battle to contain California’s deadly (and historic) wildfires cannot be understated. Maps are being used to pinpoint new fires, track the advance and progression of existing fires, outline terrain, identify residential areas and potential hazards and plot evacuation routes. Fire maps are not unlike military maps in that they help firefighters strategize their defenses and plot offensive attacks on the fires. Maps are also invaluable for assessing where and how to rebuild after fires have swept through an area. Heavy.com has a nice roundup of static and interactive maps of the more significant fires in California, consistently updated and provided by CAL FIRE and Google.
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