Ahoy there! Whaaaaazzzup! Hi-there ho-there! Welcome to another Fun with Maps! Beth and I close on our house in 21 days! It is incredibly exciting. We’ve got big (read: long-term, expensive) renovation plans for our new house but we’ll also need to fill it with furniture (if we’d like to sit down). I went garage saling in my in-laws neighborhood yesterday looking for stuff for the house. There were 43 houses participating and I got to about half in two hours. I didn’t find any furniture worth buying and storing for the next three weeks. I was also looking for tools and other useful things we’ll need but came up empty. The only stuff I bought was CDs and DVDs. I only spent $5 so I feel pretty good about the excursion. Plus, now I can enjoy the Cool Runnings soundtrack on my way to work! On a separate note, one of Beth’s mom’s friends is moving to Seattle and she gave us a bunch of free stuff including a file cabinet, dresser, and a treadmill, all for free! Beth wanted to buy a treadmill anyway so that is a huge purchase we won’t have to make now and it’s only two years old. Huge savings.
Map 45 comes from Roadtrippers in an article about the possibility of a bridge (or tunnel) connecting Russia and Alaska. This idea has been around for a long time. I remember watching a Discovery Channel special about it several years ago but little progress has been made in actually bringing the bridge (or tunnel) into reality. The map below shows a possible driving route from London to New York City that would be made possible by such a connection.
I support connecting Europe and Asia to North America by road and/or train but a project of that magnitude obviously faces many challenges. First, Vladimir Putin is a lunatic. I mean he’s bat-shit crazy. Politics will play a huge part in building anything to connect us to Russia. Second, the Bering Straight area isn’t very hospitable. It’s close to the Arctic Circle and has long, harsh winters. Third, the estimated cost of the project is in the trillions. I think that includes the bridge (or tunnel) and the highways needed in Russia to connect it with Europe and the US but it’s still very expensive. The United States is holding up our end of the highway projects, obviously, but that’s because Dwight D Eisenhower got jealous of the autobahn during World War I.
Map 46 is of my creation and is incredibly nerdy. I have mentioned before that since Christmas I’ve been playing an iPad game called SimCity BuildIt (it’s also available on Android). It’s loosely based on an Electronic Arts Game Sim City and all of its sequels but with one key difference; Pay to Play. The BuildIt version is actually a lot closer to Farmville than it is to Sim City. The game was a free download but the term “Pay to Play” refers to paying to make the game easier. Just like in Farmville and similar games, players produce resources they need to expand or enhance their cities and impatient players can utilize in-game currency to speed up this process. In-game currency is hard to earn but lucky for desperate players, they can pay real money to make their game-lives easier. I have been playing for almost five months without any temptation to use actual money. I’ve found the game to be perfectly playable and fun without it because I have the requisite patience. I also made a pact with my sister-in-law that we would never use actual money (she’s been playing it too, or at least she was, we haven’t discussed it in two months). I never played Farmville, unlike my wife, but I do consider it to be a fairly nerdy game. I initially downloaded the game because of my Sim City obsession. I played the original version in elementary school, I had Sim-Tower in high school, and once I got my current laptop I got Sim City 4 too. I really wanted the newest version called SimCity (technically version 5) but it’s too advanced for my computer. If I had the hardware to run that game I’d be playing it instead of the app game (and playing it a lot)!
So I have confessed to playing a nerdy app game, here’s the map of my city.
My city is called “Eden”, named for my hometown of Eden Prairie, MN. To understand the map you will need more than the key at the top, you’ll need a basic understanding of how the different buildings work. The factories and commercial buildings produce goods I need to upgrade buildings, complete challenges, and expand my territory (the white area to the right side of the map is territory I haven’t earned yet). The residential zones provide population and tax revenue that I can use to upgrade things like services and roads. Services (fire, police, health, parks, and education) have ranges of influence so they have to be arranged in such a way that the population can use them and remain happy. Utilities (power, water, waste and sewage) are also required to keep people happy but don’t have to be evenly spaced, which is good because some of them are stinky and people don’t want stinky in their backyard. There are additional things like government buildings, entertainment, and famous landmarks. I only have two of the landmarks that I’ve seen in real life, Big Ben (which is technically the bell, the tower is called Elizabeth Tower) and the Arc de Triomphe, but my many more are available. Finally, all structures must be along a road to have power but I can rearrange buildings and roads whenever I want (in-game currency sometimes needed). Oh, outside my controllable city to the left there are a couple of structures such as a trade depot (for buying and selling goods), an airport and shipping port (production challenges), and a tower controlled by the evil Doctor Vu (disaster challenges).
I’ve done my best to maximize the space I have. There are a few open blocks on the left side that I’m not currently using but as Eden grows I will end up replacing some of the utility buildings with larger ones. My services are evenly placed so that all the people are happy (the game lets you know if they’re not!). Eden has a population of 824,312 which is very high but there are other players that I’ve seen over a million. I’ve been playing since roughly the game launched and have one of the highest levels of any other player I’ve seen at 51. I have 2,500,000+ of in-game currency and it was a million more a week ago before the app did an update that gave the population three new (expensive) road upgrades to demand from me constantly. My city storage space is filled to the gills (which is bad) and I don’t have enough of the specific items needed to expand more of the city right now. I’ve been upgrading residential units whenever possible and selling un-needed goods to free up space. Need a couch or a suit? I’m your man. I have too many of them and they fetch a good price on the trade market. That’s it. That’s my nerdy update on SimCity BuildIt. I’m sorry if I bored you to death. It really is a lot more fun than I presume Farmville would be.
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