September 15, 2009

Links from the Week

With the release of his latest book, created a Dan Brown plot-generating tool... and it’s awesome. If you’re a fan of Dan Brown, Tom Hanks, or insanely bad mullets, visit here and play around with it!

Beyond the Boxscore, a terrific baseball blog, recently addressed efficiency in graphic design. Within that article, they used a map created by French cartographers depicting Napoleon's invasion of/retreat from Russia. It's brilliant and dense and beautiful.

Good is a treasure trove of really interesting graphic visualizations, and this week they linked to an amazing interactive tool showing the changing demographics of the American labor force since 1850.

September 11, 2009

Wisconsin English

I took a couple of linguistics classes during my college career, and learned a bunch of fairly dorky things. For example, Jeff spelled out in IPA looks awesome. While in the first class I went to a lecture on Wisconsin Englishes that, quite frankly, was more annoying than cool. If I remember correctly, it was filled with a bunch of old coots complaining about the way young kids talked. Whatever. The WI English Project is pretty neat (if you're as cool as I am) and the DARE website is also a great resource for finding out about regional differences in American English.

I don't know exactly how to make a rule for this, but rest assured that Thomas B. Marlow has opinions on the proper way to describe objects. Let's tackle two of Wisconsin's more prominent linguistic debates - bubbler v. drinking fountain v. water fountain and soda v. pop v. cola.

Bubbler/Drinking Fountain/Water Fountain

All right. Each of these words do have meaning - bubbler refers to a specific type of drinking fountain made by the Kohler Company. All bubblers are drinking fountains, but not all drinking fountains are bubblers. Follow? Good. Water fountains are like the one on library mall. Generally, I'd not drink out of one, but throw coins in it.

Okay, moving on to...


As you can see by this map, Wisconsin is at a crossroads of blue and green dots...which means that people are going to say pop and soda at fairly equal rates (okay, not really sure about the exact numbers/frequencies of the word choice, but it doesn't matter. You hear both around here.). The larger point here: if you're really a Wisconsite trying to decide whether to order a soda or a pop, the word you're really looking for is beer.

September 10, 2009

Cheese? or Font?

Do I really have a choice but to link this amazing game? Click here to feel worse about your knowledge of cheeses and fonts.

September 9, 2009

Closer to Home

Hope everybody's Labor Day Weekend was as enjoyable as mine - could the weather have been any nicer?

Last week saw me exploring a Wisconsin roadside in Clark/Jackson I'm back making maps in the basement. I got to see most of my coworkers on Tuesday morning though for a company photograph. Since I hadn't seen most of them for any length of time in months, it basically was a barrage of jokes...mostly at my expense. Whatever. It's nice to see you guys again.

Since I'm on a work theme, I thought I'd do a pro/con list of being in the field (although, as you will see eventually, it's just an excuse for a video at the end)


per diem!

pools/hot tubs

doing, you know, actual archaeology

finding artifacts (occasionally)

hearing Afternoon Delight rewritten about orthoquartzite

seeing the sun

the myriad interesting aspects of rural Wisconsin


living in a hotel

having to pack clothes, and then eventually unpack those clothes


not finding artifacts (often)

there is never a piano around

it's a lot harder to cook

how interesting is rural Wisconsin, really?

I'll keep it at 7 and 7 for now. There's both good and bad about being near and far from home...

September 3, 2009

Getting It Right

Lest it seem that Thomas B. Marlow only makes rules to call out rule-breakers, I thought I'd point out an example of someone really understanding how to do things.

Seen at a shop in Egg Harbor, WI:

I wish it wasn't necessary to ask people to keep the letters in order, but apparently only some of us automatically alphabetize.

September 2, 2009


There's currently a bit of drama chez Mapping the Delicious - some people don't believe that there's another human being out there who likes to call the game Paper Scissors Rock. Those same people have then accused me of voting twice, and have called me the "lamest person they know" or something of that sort.

If you voted for that option, please come forward and let me know who you are! I can't be the only person who thinks the game should be called that!

ps even if you hit that button by accident, let me know. I want to clear my name.

Rule 84

Presenting the latest installment in Thomas B. Marlow's series of Rules by Which to Arrange Your Life (we decided holidays are too narrow of a scope for a book deal),

Rule 84: The Proper Arrangement of Restaurant Cream Packets

Not too long ago, I was out to eat with my family. We were a reservation-less party of seven, which led to a Thanksgiving-esque separation of the adults and children. While my parents and grandparents enjoyed a grownup meal, my sister and her boyfriend were treated to the brilliance of Thomas B. Marlow - in this case dealing with cream packets.

The guidelines for cream packet arrangement are quite simple, really. Usually they will be placed in a circular dish, like so:

This is terrible. The haphazard placement is an affront to the proper order of the world. Correctly ordered, a dish should look like this:

Obviously, as you continue to drink coffee your arrangement will have to change - keep it geometric!

  1. The solitary cream packet
  2. Side-by-side
  3. Triangle
  4. Square
  5. Pentagon
  6. Hexagon, center open
  7. Hexagon, center filled
  8. Start stacking a second level or drink some coffee
Edit: It has been pointed out to me that in addition to arranging the packets themselves, I should have also faced them in such a manner so that all the labeling faces the same way. That is correct. I have been out-Thomas Marlowed.

As happens throughout history, genius is not appreciated:

September 1, 2009

Tuesday Notes from the Road

What? The road?

Yeah, I'm out of Madison for the week. It's a little strange traveling again, and I have a hunch that it's not going to last for very long. For this week, anyway, I'm up in Black River Falls doing some archaeology with Norm, Susan, Rodney and Kevin. Here are some things we found/saw/learned today:

1. Surprising nobody, I got sunburned.
1a. Despite my best efforts, glove tans are probably not going to ever get cool.
2. A bunch of taconite pellets in a fill off the side of the road.
3. More evidence against my skill as a word creator - after seeing a jeep/truck mutt thing at the diner during lunch, my suggestions of either 'treep' or 'juck' were...not received well.
4. The Holiday Inn Express in Black River Falls has 17 steps, which is bad, and eight (8!) pillows in my room. That's good.
5. The Orange Moose Bar and Grill has a piano! I never find pianos on the road - it would be fun to go over there and play some night. Unfortunately, I tried it briefly and...nope. It's not anywhere near being in tune.

I'll end with this gem of a song: