Fun with Maps 235&236

I made Map 235 using information from an article by Don’t Waste Your Money about cities where one could live comfortably on a $50,000 annual salary. It was fairly inconsequential content but it caught my attention for it’s map potential. I am always disappointed when articles like this, featuring a list of cities, do NOT have a map. It isn’t difficult to make a map. I made the one below in ten minutes using Google’s custom maps feature. It’s not perfect. The labels on Missoula, MT and Indianapolis, IN disappear because of the adjacent symbols for Billings, MT and Cincinnati, OH. That’s just a quirk of the map tool and I didn’t think it was worth importing the image into Photoshop to manually add the labels. Anyway, enough shop talk. This map features ten cities where one could hypothetically live comfortably with only a $50,000 salary. That’s plenty of money, of course, but it isn’t sufficient to survive in most of America’s major cities. The cost of living is too high. “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in the United States in 2016 was $59,039. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in the same year, annual expenses averaged $57,311 for American households.” That doesn’t leave a whole lot for saRent Too Highvings for the average household (much less the households below the average).

The cities listed in the article are Billings, Boise, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Marietta, Mesa, Missoula, Reno, Springfield, and Tyler. The article states why each is a good place to live in addition to being affordable. Billings has inexpensive rent. Boise has low unemployment. Reno has casinos and active nightlife. Would you move to one of these cities to save money on your living expenses? It’s important to keep in mind that average salaries tend to be less in areas with lower cost of living as well. Just because your household makes $120,000 a year in a Chicago suburb now doesn’t mean they can fetch that rate if you move to Tyler, TX.

Map 235.JPG

Of the cities listed I could see my family and myself giving Reno or Mesa a try. The Montana options are also tempting for their natural beauty but after three decades with Minnesota winters, I don’t know that I’d be terribly interested in moving to a similar climate. I’m sick of snow and it’s only a few weeks away at this point.

* * * * *

Map 236 is from a television show for young kids… that my wife and I are now obsessed with. It’s called Paw Patrol and it’s absolutely adorable. It revolves around a group of talking dogs and their young human leader, Ryder. The Paw Patrol act as the only first-responders to their small town called Adventure Bay. They do everything from rescues (human and animal), fighting fires, traffic control, finding lost items, fixing things, cleaning the town, and generally helping out wherever they can. Each dog has a specialty and has a backpack with bark-controlled tools and a cool vehicle that helps them do their job. Chase is the second-in-command to Ryder. He’s a police dog but also a spy sometimes (we’ve been watching episodes out of order and at some point he got an upgrade to his equipment to include spy goggles and a drone). Beth’s favorite, Marshall, a Dalmatian, is the fire dog and EMT. He drives a fire truck that can aPaw Patrollso turn into an ambulance when needed. He’s also the clumsy one which plays to great laughs (yes, I’m serious). My favorite is Rubble, the construction dog. He drives a bulldozer and in his free time loves eating, day-dreaming, superheroes, and extreme sports. The remaining dogs are Skye (helicopter, jetpack), Rocky (garbage truck, recycling expert, afraid of water), Zuma (hovercraft, submarine), Everest (husky, not part of the main group, snowplow, snow specialist), and Tracker (jeep, not part of the main group, great hearing, tracking skills).


Why do we love this show so much? It’s meant for young children so we probably shouldn’t be so into it. As I’ve said, it’s adorable. The dogs are funny. The animation is cute. The plots are obvious but fun. The writer’s also like to include funny inside jokes for viewers, mostly just for the adults watching with their children. These jokes would be far too difficult to explain if you haven’t watched the show so I guess you’ll just have to go investigate further. Nickelodeon has a huge hit with Paw Patrol and I would know as a television expert.

So how does this adorable kids show relate to the next map? It’s a map of the town in the show, Adventure Bay! I looked all over the internet and this was the only one we could find (Beth found it for me). It does not cover the entire area that the characters inhabit, they often visit the desert and the jungle (where Tracker lives), but it does cover the main town and the nearby mountains (where Everest lives acting as ski patrol). The circles that look like watermelons on the left are a farm where Farmers Al and Yumi live. They grow a weirdly huge variety of crops and the pups solve their various problems frequently. The winding roads in the middle of the image are neighborhoods where most of the people in the town live. The mayor, Mayor Goodway, lives there but we don’t see it too often. City Hall is the large complex at the left edge of the beach. The bridge that crosses the bay leads to the Paw Patrol’s Lookout on the left (and that’s all the bridge leads to really). The brown ring on the bottom right is the athletic area where the pups and citizens of the town play sports (sometimes against the residents of neighboring Foggy Bottom, which has an evil but moronic mayor). The island is home to Captain Talbot, a doofus ship captain that lives in the lighthouse and is constantly getting his boat stuck or damaged. He also locked himself inside the lighthouse during a storm once. This is the world the pups inhabit and it’s wonderful.

Map 236

So here’s what I need you to do now. Read every single one of my posts first and then go watch every episode of Paw Patrol. It should only take you fourteen to seventeen days (most of which would be spent reading my posts because each episode of the show is only 24 minutes or so). Go on. I’ll wait.

* * * * *

This is pretty random but I met the Property Brothers recently. They brought their high-energy book tour through Minneapolis and I won tickets on the radio. They were VIP tickets so I got a free book and a chance to meet Jonathan and Drew Scott (and Drew’s partner from Dancing with the Stars).

Property Brothers.jpg

They were very nice but the photo was really fast and it was over before I could say anything clever or compliment their kitchen designs. I brought my Uncle Steve (not pictured) because Beth had to work.

Until next time,


Bryan Signature 2



Bonus Map Link: Most Affordable College in Every State (including my alma mater)





Google Maps
The Rent Is Too Damn High Image
Map 236


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