Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Mean Map

NOTE: This was originally posted in February 2011; I am giving it a mild update in September 2021. This could take the rest of my day or week, but I've added just a few links to places and works of art that mean a lot to us. Since the original post, our son has gone to school and settled in Illinois and we have all visited both Nebraska and Puerto Rico.

Can a map be mean? Apparently, yes. And can a mean map be entertaining? Same answer. I did not want to like the movie Mean Girls, either, but I did. Perhaps because it was inspired by Heathers. But I digress.

Two Facebook friends recommended the map below, and a third pointed out that it is just not very nice. And yet we are drawn to it. Some of us, anyway.


To their credit, the cartographers who made this map include a source for each claim, and some of the findings are thought-provoking. Since this was published, I have usually seen Massachusetts fairing better in the bad-driver category. We are ranked #49, ahead of Rhode Island ... driving in both bears this out. We rank #8 in highway fatalities because Medivac helicopters operate almost like Uber here -- I guess Lyft is a better comparison -- whisking our crash victims to some of the best doctors on the planet within minutes. We rank #42 in the quality of our infrastructure; it would be even lower if the Bridgewater Highway Department were in charge of the whole state (yes, I said what I said). 

As penance for perpetuating the guilty-pleasure aspect of this map -- and because I hardly ever met a place I did not like -- I am listing here something I particularly like about each state. And since we are enjoying a snow day together, I am actually making the list together with my favorite librarian and originator of the Celebrating the States blog, Pam Hayes-Bohanan, co-guest-blogging on Environmental Geography for the first time.

Herewith, our list of something nice about each state. (Good coffee shops are not included, as I have a separate webpage and more recently a blog dedicated to that.) Some of the enigmatic items might be explained in our Celebrating blog, my County Map Project site, or Google. Or you can just ask us :-) 

States one or both of us have visited are underlined.

Alabama: Birmingham civil-rights museum
Alaska: bald eagles
Arizona: spring-time desert in bloom; Perseid meteor showers
Arkansas: Pam's godmother
California: Muir Woods; John Muir; Eureka; Petaluma; harbor seals
Colorado: Rocky Mountains
Connecticut: Gouveia Vineyard
Delaware: Delaware Memorial Bridge; Rehobeth Beach
District of Columbia: Smithsonian; National Mall; eventually, statehood!
Florida: Carl Hiaasen
Georgia: Savannah; the mountain part of Stone Mountain
Hawaii: coffee-growing
Idaho: Craters of the Moon; potatoes
Illinois: Chicago; Lincoln birthplace; SAIC; Ray's Bucktown B&B
Indiana: Hammond; Metamora
Iowa: Tom Harkin
Kansas: Dorothy; Big Well; Perseid meteor showers
Kentucky: Mammoth Cave
Louisiana: vampires; Tabasco Sauce
Maine: Kezar Lake
Maryland: the only place for crab cakes; Chesapeake Bay; the UMBC French class where we met
Massachusetts: gay rights; Paloma
Michigan: very long summer days; UP; Yoopers
Minnesota: Duluth in the summer; the accent; Mary Tyler Moore
Mississippi: spelling fun; Morgan Freeman
Missouri: Gateway Arch; Kansas City fountains; Elbow Chocolates
Montana: Bozeman; big skies; Pirsig
Nebraska: state library includes Pam's essay as required reading; Archway Museum in Kearney
Nevada: Hoover Dam
New Hampshire: Bow Lake
New Jersey: The Boss; NJTP
New Mexico: Old Mesilla, esp. Pepper's Cafe; White Sands; Las Cruces
New York: Unirondack; Times Square; Niagara Falls
North Carolina: Asheville arts and food
North Dakota: low population density (good place to be a hermit)
Ohio: plenty of money for graduate assistantships
Oklahoma: Norman; catchy musical
Oregon: Eugene; sea stacks
Pennsylvania: Lancaster; Punxsutawney Phil
Puerto Rico: rescue dogs; Rosie Perez
Rhode Island: WaterFire
South Carolina: tea farm; Foley Beach; Charleston
South Dakota: The Heads
Tennessee: rescue dogs
Texas: Quaker meeting; tamales; Selina
Utah: Zion, Bryce, Arches
Vermont: Vermont Country Store; Middlebury; Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP; Golden Stage Inn
Virginia: Camp Montresor (defunct); Shenandoah Valley; Williamsburg; Norfolk Botanical Gardens
Washington: Columbia River at Astoria; Space Needle
West Virginia: Shenandoah Valley
Wisconsin: cousins, of course; Appleton; Door County; National Mustard Museum
Wyoming: Bighorn Mountains at night in a storm

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