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Maphead

Ken is the author of Because I Said So!, Maphead, Brainiac, and Ken Jennings's Trivia Almanac.

Postby econgator » Thu Oct 06, 2011 12:45 pm

I was just reading the section about the Massacre and you mentioned that there was a distinction between being "on" a road and "upon" a road. I'm curious to know what the difference is.
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Postby Ken Jennings » Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:51 pm

Muskrat wrote:I followed the somewhat erratic directions, looked around, and spotted the "cache" -- a 35 mm film canister. I felt.... nothing. I mean, I'd basically followed a blinking arrow.


Ha! To be fair, the book also points out that the ubiquity of the boring film canister cache is ruining the hobby for many people. It's a lot more fun if there's something clever or challenging about the hide or the container, or if the spot you're taken to is noteworthy in some way.

Or if there's crack hidden there.
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Postby Ken Jennings » Thu Oct 06, 2011 11:19 pm

econgator wrote:I was just reading the section about the Massacre and you mentioned that there was a distinction between being "on" a road and "upon" a road. I'm curious to know what the difference is.


It's a side effect of the "course following" rules. Basically, if you're placed "on" a named/numbered road, you stick with that name/number until the next instruction. If you're just "upon" it, things like type of road and direction of travel have precedence.

I think I just made that less clear, not more.
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Postby Molly1220 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:33 pm

Hi Ken,

Just wanted to say that I am enjoying Maphead tremendously. I am, in no particular order, a map geek, a weather geek, a geocacher and an ex-Jeopardy champ (but certainly not in your league or even your decade) and the book really speaks to me. I am also really enjoying your sense of humor.

When I was a kid and my girlfriends and I played Barbies back in the early 1960s, everyone's Ken doll went off to spend the day at some unnamed office in some unspecified job while the Barbie dolls spent their day changing in and out of outfits and tooling around in their pink sports cars. My Ken doll hung out by my globe and I told my friends he was a cartographer for the National Geographic. So the geekiness started many, many years ago.

Thanks for the great book!
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Interstate trivia and powercaching update

Postby markj57 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:28 am

Ken - loved Maphead! I saw the teaser article a few months ago and made a point of getting my hands on a copy as soon as it was available. Entertaining and informative, a great read.

You may already know this, but in your discussion of the Interstate highway system in the book you did not mention that N/S Interstates are 2 digit odd numbers, E/W Interstates are two digit even numbers, and the number itself tells you the % distance either from the west coast to the east coast or southern border to Canada. Some exceptions to the rule (I99 as you point out) but otherwise something a lot of people don't know.

On a totally different topic, the new ET Trail was released in August (1500 caches along highway 375 in Nevada) and myself and 3 other caching nuts decided to attempt to do it all in one day. Starting at midnight at ET0001, 4 guys in a pickup truck finished off the entire ET Trail by 9:13PM that same day, then drove the 45 minutes to Tonopah to the next closest cluster of caches and ended up with new one day caching record of 1564 caches. This was mentioned on a recent PodCacher podcast. For the record, I (markj57) was the junior cacher on the team (only 6000 finds). We also had Team Sand Dollar (15,000 finds), Team Geo-Ranger (23,000 finds), and Peasinapod (28,000 finds).

Hope you meet you someday - if you're ever in Scottsdale AZ and are looking for a caching guide, let me know!

Mark
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John Glenn

Postby Boomchuck » Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:36 pm

Heard about this book on NPR and then ordered it from Amazon. Just now reading it (it's my 'read at work' book) and am really enjoying it. One of my duties when I was in the Navy was as the Maps & Charts Petty Officer, so I got to play around with some real interesting maps.

Haven't seen this elsewhere, and maybe I didn't look far enough, but you stated that John Glenn was the first man to orbit the earth. He talked about how Florida looked just like on the maps. Yuri Gagarin actually gets credit for being not only the first man in space but also the first to orbit the earth. Minor detail in the book, but as a space and astronomy enthusiast as well it did stick out.

Again, great book. I enjoy your writing style.

edit... D'oh, I should have looked in another forum!
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Postby Radagast » Sun Oct 23, 2011 11:02 am

Just finished the book - great stuff, lots of neat little facts that I never would have known about. The 'place-collecting' travellers were definitely a slice of society I'll never rub elbows with, some real characters.

I definitely think much of Ken's story is relatable to my own life; I also had a treasured atlas, in my case a giant National Geographic world volume (revised 3rd ed, 1970) that still has a space in my office. Ken's note about cartophilia coming from those wanting a solid anchor (a broken home in my case; that atlas was left behind by my Dad after the divorce) certainly seems to apply to me.

One aspect that I would have added had I written this, though, would be the one discipline that keeps paper maps at its very heart: the sport of orienteering. Indeed, it's their insanely detailed maps of parks, natural areas and forest reserves that drew me to this activity; even forest rangers or wildlife management personnel wouldn't need quite that level of detail, but orienteering cartographers can map individual trees, the smallest of footpaths and the minutest difference in the density and height of vegetation. And some orienteering maps have human-made landscapes as well, so you have to consider buildings not by their design but by their layout at ground level, whether they block the path of a runner or have open-air passages that can be navigated. Given the nature of the sport, this type of thing (though digitally encoded, for sure) will not be leaving the paper medium for its intended use anytime soon.

All the same, it's a very fine read, Ken, so many thanks for providing and engrossing weekend!
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Postby Chiefkent » Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:41 am

Radagast wrote:I definitely think much of Ken's story is relatable to my own life; I also had a treasured atlas, in my case a giant National Geographic world volume (revised 3rd ed, 1970)!

In my case it was a revised 2nd edition - in a slip case with our last name embossed in gold upon it, that we got while in France in 1960. I'm a military-brat, (12 schools in 12 years type). My life long love of maps and places was diverted into a symbiotic love for history when while reading a bio of the Maid of Orleans on the school bus in 3rd grade, I realized that all of the place names in the book where also on the road signs! We were able to tour all the major battle sites of WWII in Europe when I was a kid. Our next door neighbor was a retired French Army General in the process of writing his memoirs so I had the opportunity(?) of learning military history from the French point of view, and visiting various battle sites around Poitiers dating from Tours to WWI. Then we moved to La Rochelle on the Bay of Biscay where I ran amok through the same alley ways that the Huguenots last walked. My Boy Scout troop camped out in the same woods described in, "The Three Musketeers"! (Also witnessed an OAS assassination attempt on L'Grande Charles there).

When DeGaulle kicked all US troops out of France and my father was transferred to W.Germany, I used to dive into the Moselle where an entire German Army surrendered, after being trapped in early 1945, for souvenirs to sell to the GI's! Even got my photo taken with the Lord Mayor of West Berlin, (one Willi Brandt), when our Scout Troop visited to see the newly completed "Wall". The VoPo's who inspected the US Army train even let all of the Boy Scouts check out their AK's, (whilst one watched out for Soviet GRU troops)! This was a couple of years post-"jelly donut" speech.

Maps were just a tad bit more important to all of us back then, but I was already a 'Maphead'! I watched for every border and helped plan our family vacations on the old Michelin maps so that we crossed as many borders as possible while visiting the sites of 1960's western Europe. Learned to drive in a Peugot 203, (5 on the column), when I was 10 because my father kept falling asleep when driving at night, (after working all day), while we were driving to visit my mother and new born sister outside Paris, on what passed for major highways back then.

When getting drafted, I joined the Navy, and made a career of it, primarily - for the opportunity for travel. On the discussion of spatial cogitation, I find that it is also the ability to organize internally one's own thoughts and ideas, as well as being able to visualize the concrete in abstract terms. I believe that those who have developed their spatial cogitative abilities to any degree also develop their abilities to both compartmentalize and mentally pre-plan "what-if's" as a matter of course. The mental pre-planning is more of a result of idle mental exercises caused by excessive reading, (for lack of a better word), causing a mental exercise of, "what would I do if...?" , and, "how would I feel/react if..."?

All of this came to my attention when I was sent to a shrink after being diagnosed with MS some 30 years ago by a team of physicians who felt that my reaction was atypical. I felt that it wasn't something that I could just give back and so began learning everything that I could it. After talking with the shrink for a while, we realized that I had abstractly thought at sometime, "what would I do if I ever lost a leg(s)"? I'd come up with the answer, "Sh*t happens and life goes on". (Also didn't hurt that I was exposed to a large number of French WWI vets in wheelchairs as a kid)! The shrink went back to the other docs and explained 'transference', and that they fully expected me to react as they thought that THEY would react with a similar diagnose. In a nutshell, we're weird. (Yes, I DID go through denial, but it lasted about 1 day when a good friend who's adult son had Cerebral Palsy, chewed my butt out for self-pity)! :roll:
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Re: From Chapter Lesson Plans

Postby Ken Jennings » Sun Nov 20, 2011 11:56 am

geomom wrote:In on eof the chapters of Maphead, you mention a geography activity where students are given a "blank" map (sometimes oriented "upside-down") and are instructed to figure out where they would build a town, etc. By a "blank" map, I assume you mean one that shows rivers, mountains, oceans etc. but not "human" features like towns etc? Can you direct me to a lesson plan for this activity?


Yes, that's the idea...physical features but no manmade ones. I don't know of a specific lesson plan (the original cite is actually to a research experiment, not to a curriculum) but you could do something similar with any physical map...the US, say, or your region thereof. The original researchers used a map of the Midwest.
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Re: Mistakes early in Maphead - intentional?

Postby Ken Jennings » Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:14 pm

Dr. Baha'i wrote:I love maps and "Maphead." Early on, you make three clearly erroneous assertions and was wondering whether you will only talk to us if we spotted them. Guess not. Anyway: the two strictly rectangular states are, obviously, Colorado and Wyoming (not Utah).

Ardmore, AL couldn't possibly border on Ardmore, LA, as the two states are separated by Mississippi. Ardmore, AL does, however, border on Ardmore, TN.

You cite Weirton, WV as the only town bordering on two different states at opposite sides to it. We'll skip over such places as Memphis and I'll give you a pass on the obvious Washington, DC, but not very far from Weirton, and involving the states of WV and PA (as does Weirton), is Hancock, MD, where Maryland's waist is at its narrowest at a mere 1.8 mi.

All this is trivial. I really admire your ability to make the subject come alive. Wish I could write like you!


Yeah, many have pointed out the Ardmore, TN glitch. It'll be fixed in the paperback.

You're the second person to ask about Hancock, MD...is it possible the city limits don't extend all the way to the state line on both sides, as is apparently the case with Weirton?
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Postby ScarletKnights » Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:44 pm

My review of the book:

Meh.

This would have been a good magazine article, or a chapter in an autobiography.

To turn it into a book of its own took a lot of fluff.
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Re: Mistakes early in Maphead - intentional?

Postby Ken Jennings » Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:47 pm

Dr. Baha'i wrote:Anyway: the two strictly rectangular states are, obviously, Colorado and Wyoming (not Utah).


Forgot to reply to this "clearly erroneous" issue. Merriam-Webster, rectangular: "having edges that meet at right angles." Like, obviously, Colorado and Utah.

ScarletKnights wrote:My review of the book: Meh.


That is not a review. "Meh" is three-letter shorthand for "I am an uninteresting person with nothing to say." A one-word "Awesome!" review would be just as bad, I guess, though yours also says, "I'm a douche!"

SaraE1010 wrote: I would love to enter Jim Sinclair's challenge and any information that you might send my way would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide!


A few people have asked that, so I put up a blog post today with links to Jim's site.

PaulyOH wrote:Any plans for a trip to Ohio anytime soon?


Not to my knowledge, sorry. I've heard from more than one person who, like you, did that create-a-fictional-world thing as a kid and had no idea they weren't the only one. Maybe you guys should form a club.
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Canadian Geographic review

Postby Radagast » Sat Jan 14, 2012 6:37 pm

I've always been well aware that one of my favourite magazines has a review column for books, maps and other media in its back pages, but I was surprised to see Maphead in the latest issue! They're quite appreciative as well (possibly partly due to the triple-island being 'ours'), and found the mix of fact and humour to work well.

It's the War of 1812 cover, if you're perusing (Canadian) newsstands.
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Re: Maphead Date Correction & Orienteering

Postby Ken Jennings » Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:35 pm

Patrick wrote:1) Date correction: In the opening paragraph of the geocaching chapter, it reads May 1, 2001, instead of May 1, 2000. I was a college intern at Garmin in May 2000, and the turning off of selective availability was a BIG deal there when it happened, so I'm pretty sure that the date in the book is a typo.


Wow, you're the first to spot this! Pretty dopey error, since it's correct on the very next page. I think I still have time to fix this in the paperback.

I too regret not having more orienteering in the book...I was a Boy Scout myself and did some orienteering research for Maphead, but I guess geocaching and the other GPS games ended up filling that niche in the final book.
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Postby Ken Jennings » Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:57 pm

Yes, that will be fixed in the paperback. I didn't mean to suddenly switch the scene to Manchuria.

As for the triple island...all I know is that on Google Earth it looks not terribly easy to visit. I'm sure those waters are navigable in summer, right?
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Re: No orienteering?

Postby Ken Jennings » Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:48 pm

Reentrant wrote:I am so disappointed that my heart aches.


Redefining "first world problems"!
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Postby Reddpen » Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:17 am

Lilly wrote:Just finished reading the Kindle version and the illustrations seem to come through fine (other than the mistake in the first illustration being discussed elsewhere).

Now I'm curious what mistake I'm missing in the first illustration (the Wisconsin/Tanzania etc. comparisons), and where else it's being discussed.

I'm also wondering why the map shown on p.53 of Maphead, allegedly produced in 1979, labels what was then the USSR as Commonwealth of Independent States, which first came into being in 1991. But from what I can tell, that's the case on McArthur's original version too. Any insight? Is it all some corrective Communist plot?
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Postby Ken Jennings » Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:24 am

The goof in the original Kindle illustration was fixed within days. (I think the Wisconsin and Tanzania maps both had the same label during the first week of release.)

Yeah, I noticed that as well about the McArthur map that the publishers sent over. I take it this is the latest version of the McArthur map? ODT must not have a good graphic of the first one, since they're using the early-90s one on their site as well.

That does make the "first-ever upside-down map" caption a little confusing, but I guess it's technically true: this is the first-ever upside-down map, just a later printing of it.
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Postby econgator » Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:47 pm

Ken Jennings wrote:The goof in the original Kindle illustration was fixed within days. (I think the Wisconsin and Tanzania maps both had the same label during the first week of release.).


Actually, it was that it was just two sets of Lanai/South Carolina and CA/BC pictures. The Tanzania/WI and -- I'm guessing -- Lake Michigan/Sweden pics weren't there. I never bothered to update mine, so I still have the wrong version.
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Postby Reddpen » Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:27 am

Assuming this is the forum for posting things we think may be goofs that might warrant fixing for the paperback edition...

On p.79, the first page of Ch.5, Elevation, the first sentence reads:
Lowther Lodge, a bountifully gabled and chimneyed Queen Anne town house... has been the home for the last century to Britain's Royal Geographical Society.

Near the end of the same page, in the second paragraph, this sentence appears:
The squeaky blond floorboards of the Victorian building are lined with card tables and makeshift booths...

I claim zero knowledge of British architectural styles, and only a bit more of British royalty timelines, but it seems unlikely the house is both a Queen Anne and a Victorian. Is it possible your inner architecture aficionado is... Baroque?
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Postby Ken Jennings » Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:38 pm

Is your Wikipedia "Baroque"? The "Queen Anne Style" was indeed a Victorian revival.
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Postby Reddpen » Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:37 pm

Ken Jennings wrote:Is your Wikipedia "Baroque"? The "Queen Anne Style" was indeed a Victorian revival.

So it was, at least the second time around, per Wikipedia.
The Queen Anne Style in Britain means either the English Baroque architectural style roughly of the reign of Queen Anne (1702–14), or a revived form that was popular in the last quarter of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century.

I learned something, and though it may be counterintuitive, it wasn't all that painful. Maybe next time I'll do a bit of research first.
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Postby Reddpen » Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:03 am

If there's a thread with a more extensive collection of potential fixes for the paperback edition of Maphead, I can't find it. So here goes...

--On p. 166, you quote Mark Bozanich speaking of "the old Milwaukee Railroad logo" (itals mine). If that's what he said, so be it... but I'd guess this is the logo he spotted:
Image
Milwaukee Road was popular shorthand for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad.

--On p. 173 you say "...we say good-bye as he drops me and John off..." Shouldn't that be "drops John and me off"?

--On p. 174, in the pull-quote from Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island, he mentions "Pike's Peak." I've tried to find my copy with no luck, and again, if it's in the original, never mind, but there's no apostrophe in the official name of the mountain.

--Perhaps more importantly, the Bryson title is Notes from a Small Island, not Notes on....

Not a fix, just a note related to the stoplight on I-70 in Breezewood, PA: You may not have lived here then, but there used to be a stoplight or two on I-90 in North Bend, WA, before the freeway was rerouted in 1978.

Love the description of your family's attempt at the Massacre, especially Mindy's one-liners. Best of luck if you try it this year.
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Postby Ken Jennings » Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:21 am

The Bozanich and Bryson quotes are correct as is, but thanks for spotting the error in the name of the Bryson book. I think we can still fix.

"Between me and you" vs "between you and me"...meh, Strunk and White care, but I never have.
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Postby braggtastic » Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:41 pm

I heard back from the friend of my family for whom I purchased a copy of Maphead. He's wintering in Florida, and is loving the book. As a long-time map enthusiast/boy scout now in his mid 70s, he has an enormous collection of paper maps. He is looking to give them to a good home. If anyone is interested, especially if you live on Long Island (where the majority of his collection resides), please let me know.
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