Monday, July 4, 2011

Know Your 50 States


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Happy Independence Day to all the bloggy readers of Dogs and Jeans. Please enjoy all the consumable pork products and fermented grains responsibly today. We were celebrating Canada's birthday over the weekend so rather than come up with a whole new tribute to my neighbors to the south, here is an updated re posting of a past celebration of the Great 50 States.

Alaska:
It’s bigger than Texas and slightly more hospitable than it’s latitudinal cousins: Canada’s Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories. However, movies and TV shows set in Alaska are usually filmed in Washington or British Columbia. That’s like filming a movie set in Detroit in Mexico City instead. The travel schedule is brutal if you play sports for the University of Alaska.
2011 Update: Is it possible to see Russia from Alaska? The Bering Strait is over 50 miles (80 km) wide on average. Due to the curvature of the earth, the horizon is about 2.89 miles away for a normal-sized person. Even if one were to stand on a 100-foot tower, the horizon or farthest distance one could see before the curvature of the earth limits vision at the horizon is mere 12.25 miles. Thus, it is not possible to see Russia proper from Alaska across the Bering Strait. Sorry Sarah Palin.

Arizona:
There are so many retired Canadians in Phoenix, when the Toronto Blue Jays visit the D’Backs during inter-league play, it’s like a home game for the Jays. John McCain in a hero; read “Faith of My Fathers” and try to disagree with me.
2009 Update: Let the Coyotes return to Canada, Garry Betteman.
2011 Update: Okay, we'll take the Atlanta Thrashers instead.

Alabama:
SI Alabama tornado coverMy FAVORITE state. Deep fried okra, hoppin’ john, surface raised catfish, barbecue, biscuits with every meal and sweet tea. I love sweet tea. Alabama is hot, but not too hot. Beaches, hiking, Rosa Parks, Auburn-Alabama football, Lynard Skynard. What’s not to love?
2011 Update: No tornado is bad enough to keep 'Bama down. Roll Tide!
2012 Update: BCS title is proof too!

Arkansas:
Best capital city name: Little Rock. But why is it not pronounced ar-KAN-sas?
2011 Update: My parents recently visited the Daisy Rifle Museum and recommend it to others.

California:
Oh yeah, like you need more attention. Get over yourself.
2011 Update: Does anyone else find it weird that Jerry Brown is the Governor again?

North Carolina:
“In my mind I’m going to (North) Carolina…”Ahh, that’s better.

Colorado:
Billy Joel sings in “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” that Billy robbed his first bank in Telluride. However, it was really Butch Cassidy before he hooked up with the Sundance Kid and before he rode Catherine Ross around on the handlebars of his bicycle. You can look it up.

Connecticut:
Nicknamed the “Constitution State”, Connecticut boasts the highest per capita income and median household income in the country. It has long been a state populated by overachievers. Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe were actually neighbors in Hartford. Imagine being the poor schmo who lived on the other side who hadn’t written a Great American Novel.

State Hero Nathan Hale reputedly declared before being hanged as a spy: “I only regret that I have but one life to give my country”. I hope I have something even half as awesome to say before I die. Unfortunately it will likely be “No, I don’t need to wear a helmet.”
2011 Update: A visit to Hartford's Trash Museum is Free!

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North and South Dakota:
I have only been to the Dakota’s in the winter, but the scenery was spectacular in it’s bleakness. Mt. Rushmore is breathtaking; you don’t appreciate the full scope until you’ve seen it in person. It makes me wonder if it would be possible to undertake the project now. I can’t imagine that environmentalists and parks preservation groups would ever allow an entire mountainside to be carved up into statues, no matter how noble the honorees. Think of the endless partisan committee negotiation to endorse one president over another. Why not Adams, or Jackson or Polk or Grant? Best university team nickname: The Fighting Sioux.


Delaware:
Don’t have much to say. I haven’t been there; I don’t know anyone who has. It has a bunch of nicknames including “The Diamond State” and “The Blue Hen State”, but maybe the “Under The Radar State” might be more fitting. It’s not even the smallest state, so Delawareans, help me out. What’s awesome about Delaware? (maybe I’ll add it to “I Like Things That Are Great!”)
2010 Update: This just in... Delaware has no sales tax. Woo Hoo. I think some of Canada's exorbitant tax payments must be redirected to support Delaware’s social systems and infrastructure.
2011 Update: Has anyone heard from Joe Biden in a while? Is he still VP?

District of Columbia:
See above: California
2011 Update: I recently read "The Lost Symbol" and wondered how many lodge meetings it took for teh Masons to set up all those secrets then completely forget about it and let the utopian vision of America become such a mess?

Florida:
In 1976, I visited Florida with my parents. At Busch Gardens I got a Bicentennial Revolutionary tricorner hat (too long ago for digital pictures to post but take my word for it, I was a handsome 10 year old). I wore it everyday. We returned home to Ontario and I wore it to school where I was promptly beaten up.

My dad and I drove down again my senior year of high school. In Cocoa Beach I bought a cool hat at the RonJon Surf Shop. That fall at college, someone stole it of my head at a freshman party and it disappeared into the crowd never to be seen again.

Florida and hats are not a good mix for me.

Georgia:
I don’t think I have ever been hotter than in Georgia, but I do love me some pecan logs at Stuckey’s. The state seems huge when you are thinking it’s not far to the Florida border. I think it’s the only state with an official anthem sung by a contemporary musician, but I’ve been wrong before.
2011 Update: This year Atlanta became the first city to lose two NHL franchises with both teams moving to Canadian cities.
Also my friend Jess over at This Life is Mine just bought her first house in Savannah. Huzzah!

Hawaii:
Practically everyone I know but me has gone to Hawaii, the only state that was once a monarchy. I used to have plans of going to the university, but I never did anything to accomplish that, so nothing happened. Funny how that works. I have seen kite surfers on TV and have to say that looks like the MOST FUN a human can have.
2011: Still haven't gone to Hawaii...

Olympic 4x100 USA relay team
Idaho:
The Gem State. That’s nice. State capital: Boise. Boise is a fun word to say. Famous for potatoes; everybody likes potatoes. It’s the setting for Napoleon Dynamite; everyone likes Napoleon Dynamite. The state motto is “Let it be forever’; it doesn’t get more positive than that. Hats off to Idaho.

Illinois:
The state capital is Springfield but producers deny it’s the same Springfield where the Simpson’s live (although there is at least one page of Simpson’s in the Springfield phonebook). If you produce a sparkling wine in Champagne, are you allowed to call it champagne, or will the French get snooty about that too?

Indiana:
The Hoosier State? What’s a Hoosier? Come to think of it, what are Sooner’s, Hoya’s, Hokie’s and Tarheel’s? One of my life dreams is to see Notre Dame beat Michigan in South Bend. Thank you Touchdown Jesus. Indiana is home to over 250 festivals a year including the Valparaiso Popcorn Festival September 10. So if you live in Indiana, or one of the neighboring states (Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky or Illinois), don’t let the kids convince you there is nothing to do that weekend.




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Iowa:
Iowa Hawkeye Wrestling and Dan Gable. ‘Nuff said.
2011 Update: Also MASH's Walter 'Radar' O'Reilly. I can't remembeer the last time I watched MASH.

Kansas:
If you ever have to drive all night across country, plan your trip to see the sun come up in Kansas. You will thank me.
2011 Update: So far nobody has thanked me...

Kentucky:
I always think of The Bluegrass State as being the start of The South. Virginia, Tennessee and the Carolina’s would likely disagree. Kentucky is one of many states whose main city, or even the second largest city, is not the capital city unlike in Canada. ‘What is the capital of Florida?” is always a stumper in Trivial Pursuit. “Tallahassee? Are you kidding me?” A little Civil War fact; both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were born in Kentucky. The original Odd Couple.

Louisiana:
After the Hurricane, I don’t remember a single international effort made to assist flood victims (Canadian’s helped but that’s not the same thing). After every natural disaster across the globe, the US is there with aid, equipment, tools and money, even if a day before there were US flags burning in the street.

In 1973, Canadian broadcaster Gordon Sinclair wrote an editorial in praise of America and critical of it’s detractors for just this situation. Read the transcript here and know you are appreciated.


Maine:
Another state with an unexpected capital city: Augusta. Maine is both the easternmost and northernmost state (don’t squawk Alaska, I know how far north you are). Plus it abuts both Quebec and New Brunswick, so there is a pretty strong kinship there.

cal ripkin USA flag baltimore oriolesMaryland:
The University of Maryland mascot is the terrapin. Yes it’s unique, but a soft shelled turtle? Surely you can do better. Cal Ripkin Jr. is The Man.

Massachusetts:
When I’m rich, I too will vacation with my family in a compound. We will play football and Pictionary and eat popcorn and the beer will always be chilled to point of being nearly frozen. The wireless connection will be stable and lightening fast. If anyone displeases me, they will be forced from the compound, banished until they can win my favor through a series of physical trials.
2011 Update: Nope. Still no compound.
2012 Update: Does Mitt Romney have a compound? I bet he does.


Michigan:
As a kid, we’d always enter the US from Windsor at Detroit. Sometimes we’d stop and visit a great-aunt in Birmingham. She had the first TV remote I ever saw. It had only one button to change the stations in an ascending order, but I was hooked.

Michigan is possibly the greatest sports state in the Union. Red Wings, Tigers, Pistons, Lions (?), Wolverines, Spartans. New York and California may have more teams, but Michigan fans are more committed.
2011 Update: Watch out Michigan. Notre Dame is coming for you Sept 10!

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Minnesota:
The Mississippi river flows right through Minneapolis and St. Paul. I had no idea until I first visited. They don’t mention the Mississippi once on the Mary Tyler Moore show. They might have on “Phyllis” but I didn’t like that show.

Mississippi:
I thought it was cool to show off how I knew how to spell Mississippi when I was a kid. However, half the other kids already knew how to spell it and the other half didn’t care and would beat you up for showing off. Mississippi, I blame my low self-esteem on you.

Missouri:
Another M state. You know there are other letters in the alphabet, right? There is no state that begins with B or E. What’s that about? And the conundrums don’t end there. There is a Kansas City in Kansas, but THE Kansas City is in Missouri. St. Louis is the largest city, but Jefferson City is the state capital. You always think of the Mississippi River being the longest river in the US, but the Missouri River actually is and they meet in Missouri.

Missouri, you are like the girl at the office that I can’t figure out if she’s hot or not.


Montana:
It’s the name of a state People. Please stop naming your children after it. That goes for Dakota too. "Virginia" is okay though.


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Nebraska:
Nebraska is the most fun name to say. Try it. Nebraska. Now say it with a French accent. Now try Russian See? I told you it was fun.

Second best university team name: The Corn Huskers. The best alternative university team name: Big Red.

Nevada:
Everybody talks about how amazing the Hoover Dam is, but the river diversion effort before they started constructing the dam was an even bigger deal. Life is like that. Rarely does anyone appreciate the effort to lay the foundation to succeed. They only applaud the finished product. Las Vegas I can take or leave. The desert is beautiful.
2011 Update: Sorry Hoover Dam, but BC's Mica Dam is even more amazing!

New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York:
None of these states are new anymore. Isn’t it time we came up with some state names that were unique? That goes for you too New Zealand. And don’t think you are fooling anyone Nova Scotia; that’s just fancy talk for New Scotland.
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While I’m at it, British Columbia hasn’t been British for a very long time. Columbia is just fine all on it’s own.


New York is a great state and city. Urban and rural, the heart of capitalism. The last year of Yankee Stadium though. Why can’t some things remain unchanged?
2011 Update: No more World Series Championships for the Yankees okay?

Ohio:
Slavery was abolished in 1787, before even New York or new Jersey. So way to go Ohio (so sang The Pretenders).
2011 Update: Pretty cool to have your own class of nuclear submarine too.


Oklahoma:
We went to Oklahoma for Christmas six years ago; why it’s not more of a yuletide destination I’ll never know. My son (then 12) asked to go to “a real American restaurant”, so we went to The Golden Corral. While it is not ‘top end’ cuisine, there we were lots of items he had never had before, and may not see again for a long time: chicken fried steak, collard greens, black eyed peas, corn pone, grits, okra, biscuits and gravy, southern fried chicken etc. I was certainly in heaven. He returned from his first trip to the buffet with his plate piled with rice and mashed potatoes. Sigh…

If you travel to Oklahoma, go see the Wichita Mountains, Geronimo’s grave at Fort Sill (even though there is debate as to whether he is actually there or not) and the Holy City (I kid you not)

Oregon:
USA Basketball Dream Team Beavers and Ducks! And Nike. And Intel. And Crater Lake National Park. Oregon’s state capital is not Portland or Eugene, but Salem. Again with the odd state capital. I received the worst case of sunstroke at a rowing regatta there, but it was my fault for going out on the water without a hat.
2011 Update: I'm reading William Dietrich's fascinating story of the Columbia River: The Northwest Passage. I highly recommend it.

Pennsylvania:
Another great state with lots going for it, despite the weird Romanian ‘sylvania’ tag. I’ve been to Pittsburgh but not Philadelphia. How that happened I can’t understand; it seems backwards. Tied with Texas for Best University City Name: Happy Valley where you’ll find Penn State.

Rhode Island:
It’s not an island. The province of Prince Edward Island is an island. But as the smallest state in the union, good things come in small packages. Come to think of it, Prince Edward Island is the smallest province in confederation. Rhode Island and Prince Edward Island should play each other in a ‘best of seven’ softball tournament every year. The winner can be declared King of the Little People.


South Carolina:
“In my mind I’m going to (South) Carolina…”Ahh, that’s better.

Tennessee:
Tennessee is the Volunteer State. It’s good to know they are ready for anything.

Texas:
Texas Longhorns football American flagI had a friend move down to Austin and he sent me a key chain tag that reads: Don’t Mess With Texas. He meant it as a joke, but I have it on my keys because it seems like good advice. Why would I mess with Texas? Would anyone?
2011 Update: That friend has now moved back here with plenty of stories. I'm glad he didn't ask for the key fob back.
Texas is tied with Pennsylvania for Best University City Name: College Station where you’ll find Texas A&M.

Utah:
The native Americans were Ute’s. So named the state. Makes sense. There’s lots going on in Utah, but I can’t seem to get past the whole Mormon thing. My brother-in-law joined the Mormons for a girl he liked. Men do crazy things for women.
2011 Update: I wonder if a travelling version of the smash Broadway hit "The Book of Mormon" will ever play in Salt Lake City?

Vermont:
Apparently it is the leading producer of maple syrup in the US. I can’t help thinking Vermont is muscling in on one of the few things Canada dominates. Pretty towns and beautiful geography. I haven’t been there in a long time, but I think a trip may be in order. Maybe skiing this winter. Who’s up for that?


Virginia and West Virginia:
All the North and South States have it figured out, but not the Virginia’s. Unless there is an East Virginia, there should be no West Virginia. You two states need to coordinate this.

West Virginia is a terrific state: industrious, mountainous, progressive etc. Distinguish yourself from your eastern neighbor with your own name.

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Washington:
When my ex-wife was pregnant with our second child, we went to visit family in Washington. My aunt insisted on raising the foot rest on the reclining chair to help my wife relax. Despite her pleas that she was fine, my aunt persisted to struggle with the chair’s mechanism, ultimately sticking her hand underneath only to have the levers snap out and take of the tip of her right index finger. My aunt received a modest amount of compensation from the chair company, even though it was clearly her fault. We haven’t been back since.
2011 Update: I have tickets to take the family to see the the Mariners play the Yankees in September. Must remember to keep an eye on everyone's digits.
2012 Update: No fingers lost and the M's won with a walk off homer in the bottom of the 12th.

Wisconsin:
America’s Dairy heartland. I love seeing the Cheese Heads and the Packers games. Green Bay is the only city in the US with an NFL team, but no other pro sports.


Wyoming:
The least populous state in the Union and the only one with all straight borders. The Continental Divide runs right through the middle, so for all you people who believe all rivers flow south just because North is at the top of the map hanging on the wall, well, Wyoming is the division for North American drainage. And that’s pretty cool.

7 comments:

Madame DeFarge said...

I suspect that this could come in very handy for pub quizzes!

Trooper Thorn said...

Madame DF: It actually does. Remember I am entitled to 10% of your winnings.

Ed said...

Awesome review of the States from a Canadien's perspective.

Only critique....If you want to see Michigan play Notre Dame in front of Touchdown Jesus, you have to come to Indiana. South Bend is here, not in Illinois.

Rita said...

You'd probably love the Ball State University t-shirts (Indiana) that just say "Ball U" on them--LOL! The first time I saw one, as a sheltered young Minnesotan, I thought it was a joke t-shirt. ;)

Trooper Thorn said...

Ed: Egad! I can't believe I swapped states like that! Thanks for catching it Ed.

Rita: Maybe that's where David Letterman gets his wry sense of humor.

yogurt said...

"Best University City Name: College Station where you’ll find Texas A&M."

Spent 10 long, hot, humid years in CS getting my phd. I've got a framed drawing in my living room of the CS train depot, where CS got it's nam, by the way.

Trooper Thorn said...

Yogurt: It sounds very quaint, as if there was a friendly conductor wearing spectacles who shouts "All Aboard!' and counsels young run-aways to return home to their families.