In last week's article about cartograms, we discussed one type of thematic map (a map that displays a theme, such as poverty statistics or disease infection rates). This week, we'll look at some free programs to make choropleths - thematic maps that preserve distance and shape, but use colors or patterns to differentiate between different regions with different values.
Sometimes you get tired of "armchair mapping" -- working exclusively with digital tools from the comfort of your home or office. Sometimes you want to go ride bikes through the Yosemite Valley, marveling at the waterfalls and cliff faces and rushing rivers. Sometimes your friend Alan gets a new Garmin Oregon 400t handheld GPS unit and you want to go play with it. Sometimes all three of these things happen on the same day PLUS it's your birthday so you can totally feel justified to take the day off to go do it as long as you blog about it later!