Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Commutergirl, as you may know, is a genius.

She bought me two books about transit.  One shows maps of the metro systems of major cities around the world, and the other is about the history and current worldwide applications of rail transit.  Both are by Mark Ovenden, from whose "about the author" statement I now wish to quote:

"Mark was born in London in 1963.  His cartographic leanings probably began when his mother thrust maps at him in the vain hope that he might fidget less while traveling on the Underground toward downtown, whee his father worked in a West End store.

"Instead of reading comic books he pored over old cast-off road maps.  On one occasion, armed solely with a Tube map and the fearlessness of a seven-year-old, he left his grandparents and made it home alone, ten miles across London.  Using a dog-eared collection of transit fliers, he would spend hours doodling fantasy extensions and didn't see how an entire new city could be built without regard to how its 200,000 residents would travel around, hence Milton Keynes gained a fictitious urban transit system at his twelve-year-old hand.

"While more 'outdoor' boys played war games, Mark would buy a single ticket for the Tube and spend hours voyaging to the terminals of each line, scribbling impossible extensions or creating whole new imaginary mass-transit systems . . .

"Though he later pursued a career in media and music, he never lost his fascination with maps and urban transit, and he continued collecting treasures from around the world until assembling them in this compendium.

"Since its first British publication in 2003, he's been thrilled to find that he wasn't the only geeky kid fascinated by maps or by making fantasy rail plans -- designers of which now form an online army of passionate inventors . . ."


Which leads me to a letter I'm about to write:

Dear Mr. Ovenden:

If you ever read this, will you add me on Facebook?  Thanks,


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