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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Book Club

Tonight was the night of our monthly book club. The book that we discussed was Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. It was the story of Chris McCandless aka Alex McCandless aka Alexander Supertramp. A 23 year old man who walked into the wilds of Alaska in April of 1992 only to be found 4 months later having starced to death in an abandoned bus. Telling the fact that he died reveals nothing, as that is where the story starts. The book explores McCandless' life and the events that led up to his venturing into the wilderness without a map. The author went to great lengths to justify the idea that while Chris may have been over-confident and foolish, he most definitely was not crazy. It was a compelling story albeit a bit tragic and provided a good conversation among the group.

On a different subject, I really like maps. There is actually a connection between these two subjects because if Chris had had a map he very well may have survived. But back to maps; Steve Johnson, the Chicago Tribune internet critic today reviewed the most popular online map sites. He reviewed MapQuest, MapBlast, Yahoo Maps, Rand McNally and Google Maps. He used all of the sites to try to get from downtown Chicago to a few notoriously difficult places to get to. And the results? Google Maps came out best (which I would have expected having used it before), followed by Rand McNally which surprised me because I haven't ever used it, Yahoo Maps, and then Map Quest and Map Blast tied for last. While all of the map sites were usable, it was the extra stuff that made the difference.


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