Until very recently, only sea captains, astronauts, and serious nerds cared about geographical coordinate systems.

But guess what, maps just got cool.

I've always been a secret map nerd. I love looking at them, new or old, digital or paper.  My love stemmed from practicality. If I look at a map, I am 99% more likely to get where I am going than if you give me other types of directions (drive up the hill and take a right at the candy cane building onto a street that is named after a tree just doesn't work for me). Once I've looked at a map, I can carry the image around in my head and refer to it when I am feeling lost. Sometimes, I'll admit, I need to "get into the map," Joey Tribbiani style, but only when it is of the pop-up variety.

I once wanted to decoupage my dresser with maps. (Instead I painted it in a gray scale). I have about 10 maps sitting in a pile, waiting to be used for future art projects. Every time I see something map related, I "oooh" and then bookmark it for future reference. And just yesterday, we had a guest speaker in my library class, and I completely nerded out over maps. Which reminded me of the post I have been meaning to do about all the cool map things I have been finding. 

A while ago I saw these map installations by Shannon Rankin.  They are so simple yet gorgeous. I love the circle-within-circle pattern. I also appreciate her use of map pins. Clever!

Maps are already abstractions of geographical information, so why not abstract the abstraction? Armelle Caron does just that when she takes cities (like the New York City map below), pulls apart the pieces, and reorganizes them. This is the best kind of OCD one can have.

These maps that were designed by Harold Fisk  in 1944 to show the historical geography of the Mississippi River are not actually art, they just look like art. Maps are awesome that way.

And if you are tired of tracking your travels via a Facebook application, you can buy this map, tack it to your wall, and scratch the countries aside as you travel places and in doing so uncover cool colors and interesting factoids (yes, I did just write 'factoid'). Neat-o.
Okay, okay. You are probably thinking to yourself that having a secret love of maps and maps that have been turned into art is not so nerdy. It is, in fact, cool in an I-live-in-Brooklyn-with-the-hipsters-so-I-can-like-maps kind of way. But... here's my secret. I don't just like to look at maps anymore. I like the idea of all the data behind a map. And the layers upon layers of data that are and that can be in maps. The idea of collecting information and transforming it into a geographic representation of the data makes me want to.... wait for it... swoon. I am weak at the knees over my love for maps.

So my new mission is that I am going to learn about maps and map making. I've been teaching myself about GIS software, as well as how to find, download, and then ultimately use the data within those systems. I've also spent an embarrassing amount of time on the Perry-CastaƱeda Library Map Collection, you know, just hanging out, looking at maps.  What can I say. I'm hooked. And I promise when I make my first map (even if it is something ridiculous like tracking the Christmas tree sales across the US in 2010), I will share it here. Because you care.

*Post title is a quote from the guest speaker whose name I can't remember. 

Date a girl who reads.

There's a little essay that's been circulating the web called "Date a girl who reads" written by Rosemarie Urquico. It's been on so many blogs, I can't seem to track down the original post and even my best googling skills fail me in finding out more about the author other than her name. But this has touched the hearts of readers everywhere, and being a reader and a girl, it touched mine, too. Well, it touched the empty space where my heart used to be, anyway. So I am reprinting it here and adding some photos, sort of as a public service announcement on behalf of all the readers out there. You're welcome.

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book. Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. 

Ask her if she loves Alice or if she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. (Except in the Twilight series.)

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are. You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.