Crossing the US/Canada border with my mom is always some sort of adventure. Talking to the border guards—especially going back into the States—always makes my mom nervous, and I have trouble keeping from laughing because every time we cross the border I remember all our previous border incidents where my mom was in panic mode and I had to answer the border guards’ questions for her.
But today’s crossing was extra special.
Let me set the scene for you, ‘cause you need to be able to visualize all of this.
When we pulled up to the crossing, the lineup to get through wasn’t especially long, but there were a decent number of vehicles in front of us. There were enough, in fact, for one of the border guard dudes to open up one of the other lanes. He guided a few of us towards it, and we ended up pulling behind a truck that had a very prominent pair of truck nuts hanging down from the rear.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing truck nuts before, they are these things:
(pic from here)
And these exist because…?
I honestly have no idea. Maybe because mounting a 10x scale model of one’s penis to the front of one’s hood is illegal.
But anyway. Mr. Truck Nuts McDangle is now right in front of us, and my mom, never having seen the monstrosity that is a pair of truck nuts before, is taking pictures of it with her phone and laughing while doing so.
I’m pretty sure she’s going to get us arrested by the border guards, but even they seem to be amused by the nuts. There are a few of them circling around the vehicles, just making sure we’re all actually in lanes, and I see a few of them looking at the truck in front of us and laughing a little.
Anyway. Nuts Dude finally pulls up to the crossing window, talks to the guards, and goes on through. As they’re pulling away, I see the two guards outside the booth laughing a bit—probably about the nuts.
So then we pull up.
My mom, nervous about the border as always, had rehearsed questions with me. She always brings a cooler with her whenever she comes up here, so she always has me rehearse with her what to say if they ask her what’s in the cooler.*
And of course they ask. “What’s in the cooler?”
Now keep in mind that we’ve all been primed with giant-ass truck nuts just moments ago.
My mom takes both hands, holds them like a foot and a half apart, and says, “I’ve got a biiiig zucchini.”
I honestly don’t know how those border guards kept straight faces; I had to turn away because I was losing my mind laughing. The guards managed to finish asking their questions and sent us on our way, at which point I totally lost it.
My mom had no idea what was so funny, so I explained it to her as we were driving out of the border crossing area, and we almost had to pull over ‘cause we were both laughing so hard.
I know it may not sound as funny just typed out like this, but holy hell, that was fantastic when it happened.
It’ll be hard to top this border crossing.
Edit: I had to check out the “truck nuts” Wiki page just to see what it had to say, and one of the sentences has the phrase “truck nuts exploded” and I can’t handle this universe anymore.
*We had a “carrot incident” once coming back from Vancouver…it’s still one of the funniest things that’s ever happened to us.
This is as subjective as it is pointless. BUT SO IS MY LIFE so here we go. From best to worst.
I’M NOT BIASED, YOU’RE BIASED
Seriously, though. I like the shape of Idaho. I think it’s one of the more distinctive US shapes (as in, if you see it you’re like, oh, I know what state that is) and it stands out in the Western states by having quite a bit of jaggedness to it on one side.
I like Utah’s shape. Simple but distinctive. Mormons know how to do it.
This state could eat a good number of other countries. I approve.
I hate having Texas so high up on this list, but you have to admit that it’s a very distinctively-shaped state. Everyone knows which state is Texas. Except Americans.
Islands and volcanoes!
Nothingness and excessive heat! I like the shape, though.
Do you like 105 degree weather, hordes of drunk people, losing all your money, neon lights on everything, and a state that exists solely to wall in Las Vegas? Come to Nevada!
Arizona is home to a tiny town called “Tuba City” which automatically makes the state this high on the list.
There’s also the Grand Canyon and whatnot, but…
Generic Block State A.
Generic Block State B. Why does Colorado get a slightly worse rating than Wyoming? Because Wyoming’s generic block shape is better.
Kansas has its shit together. It’s like “hey, you want a flat-ass rectangle that’s full of tornadoes, a Cfa Koppen climate and nothing else? Gotcha, bro.” Also, all the major cities sound like bird mating noises. “to-PEE-kauh!” “WIIII-chi-tauh!”
Nebraska is Kansas’ socially awkward little brother who tried to be a rectangle but forgot what a rectangle was. Either that or pushy Colorado ate that one side of the rectangle and Nebraska’s too polite to say anything.
It’s OK. Get it?!?!?!?!?!
“South Dakota: Stop In for a Visit or We’ll Let the Rock Presidents Eat You”
“North Dakota: The Obnoxious Rectangle between Montana and Minnesota. But Hey, at Least We Don’t Have Angry Rock Presidents”
Dayman. AAAAAAAAAAHHH! Fighter of the Nightman! AAAAAAAAAHHH! Champion of the sun!
Not bad. Not great, but not bad. Also, points for 1st statehood.
I like states that are shaped like their name. It looks like a soda.
I like states that are shaped like their name. It looks like an Ohio.
It’s a boot!
I like the shape, but not the silent “c.”
I’ll just leave this here:
Mississippi’s fun to spell, but that’s about all it’s got going for it.
No seriously. Look it up and it ranks first for all the “bad” things and last for all the “good” things.
The same as Mississippi, but less fun to spell.
The good: redwoods! The bad: San Francisco. They pretty much balance each other out.
Seriously, Nate and I got lost in the untamed fern-covered wilderness in Jedidiah National Park for like two hours, but felt safer during that period of time than during the 15 minutes it took us to walk to a Denny’s in Tenderloin.
Approximately 400% of my family is from Missouri. Which is the only reason why this state is listed as high as it is.
Cheese and weird accents? I’m for it.
I think Maine is the state a good number of people forget about when they’re asked to list all 50 states. Is it because it’s so far up there and so quiet and unassuming that no one remembers it? Poor little Maine. It’s the only state with a one-syllable name, though, so it’s got that going for it.
Meh. Shaped like a lowercase “h” to make it easier to remember which of those 8,000 northeastern states it is.
See above, but shaped like a “v.”
This state will never recover from the 2000 election nonsense.
Washington: a west-to-east tour. Pacific Ocean, Seattle, outskirts of Seattle, still being stuck in Seattle seriously how the hell do you get out of this city, Fallout-esque wasteland, GO ZAGS, GO COUGS, OH GOD IT’S IDAHO TURN THE FUCK AROUND
Do you like peaches and a (currently) really terrible baseball team?
SOYLENT CORN IS IOWANS
I’ve never liked Oregon. I have no logical reason from this apart from just not liking the word “Oregon” and associating the state with freezing cold Pacific Ocean-adjacent beaches.
Too weird of a shape, but I guess I’d have a huge chunk of the US population coming after me if I said NY sucked, so…
It’s the only ten I see!
(if the total ranking scale goes from 1 to 50 with 50 being the best)
It’s the only ken tuck ee!
That works better than Tennessee.
Too small, 0/10 would not admit to Union again
The only good thing to come out of New Jersey was Michael Jones of Roosterteeth. That probably explains why he’s so angry all the time.
Too similar in shape to Virginia, 0/10 would not draw same borders again
I don’t like the name “Virginia.” Also, every time I see any reference to this state, my brain starts singing “in SIX-teen-hundred-SEV-en, we SAILED the o-pen SEA!” and I have to go through the whole damn song. It’s awful. Get rid of Virginia.
Not a fan of the shape. Not a fan of the shape at all.
Hey Michigan, why you gotta be in two parts like a weird little nerd state? Why don’t we make that upper dingle part its own state and merge North and South Dakota to make up for it? We wouldn’t even need to change the number of stars on the flag. And we would have a state named Upper Dingle. Win-win!
Drunk cartographer, slurring heavily: I—I’mma make a state.
Cartographer’s friend: Johnathan, put the pen down. You’re drunk.
DC: NnnnnOOO! ‘Sgonna be state. A new one. Right here.
CF: That’s just a blank space on the map where the borders of existing states don’t meet. You can’t make a state there!
CF: We can’t have a state shaped like potato, Johnathan. Imagine the embarrassment if it gets back to England!
DC: I’mma…I’mma draw it, and I’m gonna name it…Virginia.
CF: Dammit, Johnathan, we already have a Virginia.
DC: South Virginia.
CF: Virginia is below it.
DC: East Virginia.
CF: If you go east of Virginia, you’re in the Atlantic Ocean.
DC: North Virginia!
CF: …Okay, well, I suppose that kind of make s—
DC: NO! …West Virginia.
CF: *defeated sigh* All right, Johnathan. West Virginia. Fine. It’s a state. Now what?
DC: Fill it with hicks!
West Virginia sucks.
There is no logical reason why I find this so incredibly hysterical. It’s not even that funny, but oh my god, I just spit an M&M across the room laughing at Satan’s Kingdom, Massachusetts.
I like to imagine it as the polar opposite of Magic Kingdom.
Or it’s like where Satan keeps his summer home, but wants to make sure it still sounds badass so he named it “Satan’s Kingdom” instead of “Casa de Satan” or something. OH MY GOD, “Memphistopheles” would be a great town for Satan in Tennessee. That’s where the Southern Satan chills.
(Southern Satan is like 40 times worse than regular Satan.)
“Booger Hole, West Virginia.” That’s redundant.*
I think Minnesota just really wants to be a new Canadian province. Minnetoba.
Oklahoma must just really suck at coming up with original names. The capital is Oklahoma City, after all. Or some smartass Oklahoman (is that what they’re called?) was like, “OMG U GUYZ, let’s make a town and call it “Okay” so that when anyone has to address anything to someone in that town, they have to write “Okay, OK” ‘cause that’s hysterical, am I right?”
Pig, Kentucky sounds like it’s the cultural capital of Redneckia. It’s where you go to get the full experience. “Now, y’all are gonna wanna cross the border into Booger Hole to get all them cheap West Virginia beers, then head on down to Smartt, Tennessee, ‘cause that’s where the university is what teaches you how to spell good. But watch out for Southern Satan, ‘cause he’ll make yer Chicken Bristle right sure up.”
Plenty Bears, South Dakota probably has more bears than the whole state has people.
*I have a goddamn vendetta against West Virginia. Why the hell is it shaped like that? It pisses me off, man. Such an ugly shape. If you were shaped better, West Virginia, maybe Satan would summer home in you instead of Massachusetts, did you ever think of that? WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE SATAN!?
It lets you type in a word (I think it only has the most frequently used 100,000 words, though?) and will map its frequency of use in tweets (either by county or just by hotspots) across the continental US.
Here are some fun ones.
The differing distributions of “geek”, “dork”, and “nerd”:
“Canada”, “Mexico”, and “America” (I would have used “United States”, but it just takes words, not phrases):
“North” and “south” are nicely clustered around the states with those words in their names:
I did a little experiment this evening (because why the hell not). I wanted to see which states Idaho is most commonly grouped with when the country is split into “regions” (because I’ve seen it put into the Pacific Northwest, the West, the North West, etc., each with different states along with it). So I went to Google Images and typed “regions of the US” to see what I could find.
I looked at 50 different maps and recorded how many times each state (apart from Idaho, of course) was grouped along with Idaho.
States like Mississippi and Louisiana and such were grouped on some map showing the nuclear regions (or something like that) of the US.
Heat map courtesy of here.
Interesting to see the difference in grouping frequency between our state to the east (Montana) versus the two to our west (Washington and Oregon)
That was probably the easiest border crossing I’ve ever had, and I’ve always had super easy border crossings. It probably took a total of 10 seconds, seriously.
And I got to see my mom again, which is super cool ‘cause I’ve missed her since January (and it seems like I’ve been gone longer than that).
And now to chill in Moscow for a few days.
Okay, so it’s super late, but I have news that I can finally talk about (this was what I hinted at on Saturday).
Nate and I will be leaving in the middle of May to go on a three-week-long road trip through the western US. We’re going to see things like the California redwoods, Yellowstone, Four Corners, the Grand Canyon, Vegas, and a major league baseball game in San Francisco. We’ll also be in Moscow for a few days.
I will post pictures, of course, probably on here and on Facebook (even though I never use Facebook anymore).
I miss Americans.
Is that a weird thing to say?
Like, Canadians are super cool and so are all my grad school friends from across the globe, but I miss my fellow USA peoples. At UBC, the incoming psych grad students were pretty much split 50/50 between Canadians and Americans, but I’m literally the only American grad student in the stats department here. It’s weird.
Hello again from 2015!
Let’s start the year off with some interesting numbers, eh? Specifically, some numbers regarding different fields of education in the United States.
The above.gif (source) shows the field type of Bachelor’s degrees by state, ranked by top percent of degree by field. I can’t read as fast as the .gif goes, so here are the screenshots for each type of degree. Click on the piccys to make them grow.
Psychology and Social Sciences:
Science and Engineering-Related:
Biological, Agriculture, and Environmental Science:
Liberal Arts and History:
Literature and Language:
Computers, Mathematics, and Statistics:
Visual and Performing Arts:
Physical and Related Sciences:
Idaho’s good at Communications and Ag…and not much else, haha.
Dear United States:
Are you seriously risking pissing off North Korea because of one dumb little movie? Really? The movie theatre threats are probably something that’s best treated with caution whether they’re real or not, so it makes sense to pull the showings of The Interview, but is it really a threat to your freedom to do so? I mean, really? It’s a movie. It’s a political satire, and probably a bad one at that (if not, then at least one in bad taste). At least Team America was poking fun at US attitudes more than anything else, but The Interview really just sounds like its goal is to make fun of Kim Jong-un. Not the smartest thing to do.
You’re a big boy now, United States. Calm down, think before you act, and play nice with North Korea. Maybe just sit by yourself and read a book or something. Or go play hopscotch with Canada.
Edit: DID THE U.S. JUST GET IN A FLAME WAR WITH NORTH KOREA? Good lord.
This holiday is always interesting, especially with my group of friends on Facebook. A third are very much “ZOMG ‘MURICA!” and another third seem to be quite ashamed of this country (the last third are pretty quiet, haha).
Some people think the US is the greatest country in the world. Some people don’t. However, regardless of what you think of the current state of the States (ha), I think that this country has a fantastic and amazing history, both good and bad, and I believe that the history itself is worthy of acknowledging and celebrating. Sure, we haven’t done everything right (or even most things right, depending on who you ask), but if you think about all that has happened in the United States in the past several centuries, it’s pretty freaking fantastic.
So if you’re not into celebrating the US as it stands today, I would suggest at least giving a nod to the country’s history. It’s good, it’s bad, and it’s everything in between. And it’s ours.
And I think that’s important to acknowledge.
Now go blow some stuff up.
Hahaha, this is great.
I AM SO FREAKING STRESSED SORRY
Well this was cool to do.
What the colors represent:
- Red: states/provinces where I’ve not spent much time or seen very much.
- Amber: states/provinces where I’ve at least slept and seen some sights.
- Blue: states/provinces I’ve spent a lot of time in or seen a fair amount of.
- Green: states/provinces I’ve spent a great deal of time in on multiple visits.
I like how I’ve been all over the West Coast and the Great Lakes area, but very few other places (I went to Boston for that APS conference in May 2010; my grandparents used to live in St. Louis).
I also realized after making this that I’ve also been to Washington, D.C., but since that’s its own thing and not technically in a state, I decided to leave it as it is.
If you click here, you can make one of your own!
Some of the interesting ones to me:
- I pronounce “crayon” like “cran” (rhymes with “can”), which is the common pronunciation in Minnesota/Wisconsin/Michigan/that region.
- I pronounce “realtor” as “reel-uh-ter,” which is a little more common in the Midwest/upper south.
- I pronounce “roof,” “room,” “broom,” and “root” with the same vowel sound, which is very common in the south and New England.
- My “route” rhymes with “out” and that would probably get me beat up in New England, who strongly prefers that it rhyme with “hoot.”
- I say “garage sale” rather than “yard sale” or “rummage sale.” Garage sale is common in Tornado Alley.
I am once again in shock regarding how difficult seemingly small/simple things can be when handling things across the US/Canadian border.
I’ve posted this video before, but I’m posting it again to support my point (and because it’s pretty cool):
We’re practically conjoined twins. As such, some of the things one might think as difficult to accomplish on an “international” level (like, I don’t know, moving all your possessions + animals across the border in an unmarked white van with suspicious tinted windows*) are surprisingly easy and hassle-free.
Simpler things, like terminating a Canadian cell phone contract (even after waiting until the contract is up), take OMGWTFBBQ-levels of work.
Taxes? They’re kind of in-between. There’s really no way to explain that yes, I lived in Canada last year, but I lived in two different provinces AND I didn’t actually live there on December 31st because I had to go back to the States in October. So I just wrote a nice little note and stuck it in with my return. Hopefully they’ll get the info they need and not send Dudley Do-Right down to Arizona to get me.
…Though that WOULD be entertaining.
Also: “Dr. Binmidnildedindindin.” God I’m glad Metalocalypse is back.
*Yes, this is how I moved all my stuff up for grad school. Big white just-the-right-size-for-bags-of-illegal-substances van, half-drugged cat on a towel, nervous pair of Idahoans in the front seats. Went inside, showed them my passport and study permit, and we were on our way to Vancouver. Same thing happened going to Ontario.
As I was falling asleep last night I thought up another (dinky) analysis I could run on the Craigslist data.
Question of interest: what state(s) had the highest proportion of Craigslist personal ads compared to their total population? Easy little analysis, I know, but it’s a fun thing to look at.
So here we go!
This map shows a gradient from white to deep purple. States that are whiter have a lower proportion of Craigslist ads with respect to the total state population. States that are a deeper purple, therefore, have a HIGHER proportion of Craigslist ads with respect to the total state population.
The three states with the lowest proportion of Craigslist ads:
West Virginia (0.021%)
The three states with the highest proportion of Craigslist ads:
Washington, D.C. (1.055%)
And yes, I realize Alaska and Hawaii aren’t on this map (and weren’t on the original US of Craigslist post either). Sorry about that. I’d remedy that, but it’s late and I want to go read some fanfic before I go to sleep. Hawaii’s the same color as Nevada; Alaska’s the same color as Illinois.
Sweet Jesus crackers, it’s data time!
Over the past month I’ve been collecting data off of Craigslist; specifically, data from the Craigslist personals. This is mainly because statistics is my crack I like to flex my analytical muscles as often as possible and I’ve been in a data drought for far too long.
Anyway, enough blabbering. ONWARDS!
Data: Craigslist Personals from all 415 individual Craigslist listings* within the United States, divided into the four main categories:
WFW: women seeking women
WFM: women seeking men
MFW: men seeking women
MFM: men seeking men
The data were collected over a 13-day span (March 1 through March 13). I recorded the number of personals under each listing that were posted within the last 15 days of whatever day in the 13-day span on which I was doing the collecting. So keep in mind there might have been some post-Valentine’s Day angst-driven posts for some of the listings.
Results of interest:
1. (via extrapolation) Approximately how many Craigslist personal ads (in the United States) are posted yearly?
2. (via correlation) How highly correlated are the number of ads per state and the population of the state? In other words, do more populous states have more personal ads?
3. (via graphs) Where in the United States do homosexual personal ads (WFW, MFM) outnumber heterosexual personal ads (WFM, MFW), and vice-versa?
4. (via way-too-meticulous-digging-through-individual-listings) Are there any individual listings that can be considered “unnecessary” due to lack of posts? Are there any individual listings that should be further divided due to way too many posts?
Let’s do this!
1. Approximately how many Craigslist personal ads in the United States are posted yearly?
Within 15 days, there were a total of 297,141 personals posted. That’s almost .01% of the US population.
Assuming there’s a fairly uniform number of personals being posted year-round, that would be a total of 7,230,431 ads per year (about 2.3% of the US population). That’s a lot of Criagslistin’.
2. Do more populous states tend to have more personal ads?
This’ll probably end up as a “duh,” but it’s worth checking out. Maybe EVERYONE in Wyoming is posting because they can’t find one another, while everyone in Cali is shying away from personals because they’re so sick of being around people.
Food for thought.
Here’s a quick little graph just to give you the idea of the range we’re talking about here.
State with the fewest number of ads: North Dakota (201 ads in 15 days)
State with the most number of ads: California (46,016 ads in 15 days)
To check if there’s a correlation between state population and number of ads, I ranked the states by the number of ads and also by the population, then ran a Spearman rank correlation on the two rankings (non-parametric statistics FTW).
rsp = .837
That’s a pretty high correlation, I don’t care who you are. So yes, the higher a state’s population, the more ads they are likely to have on Craigslist. Durh.
3. Where in the United States do homosexual personal ads (WFW, MFM) outnumber heterosexual personal ads (WFM, MFW), and vice-versa?
This was an interesting one that didn’t quite turn out as I expected. For one, there were more ads in the MFM section than any of the other three sections for pretty much every single listing. This brought the total of the homosexual ads well above the total of heterosexual ads for most listings. That alone was surprising to me.
What’s even more surprising, though, is the pattern of homosexual- and heterosexual-dominated ads by state. Here’s a map that breaks the states down by the ratio of homosexual ads to heterosexual ads.
In order to make keying this thing easier, I centered the ratios at zero, where zero indicates a ratio of 1:1, negative values indicate a ratio of more than one heterosexual posting for every homosexual posting, and positive values indicate a ratio of more than one homosexual posting for every heterosexual posting. I color-coded the map by creating six intervals on either side of zero, with each interval increasingly more imbalanced (fewer/more homosexual postings per heterosexual posting). Therefore, the more intense the colors get, the more imbalanced that state is in terms of the ratio of homosexual to heterosexual postings. I’m dumb and lost the original ratios, but they ranged from .292:1 (.292 homosexual posts for every heterosexual post; South Dakota) to 3:1 (3 homosexual posts for every heterosexual post; Washington, D.C.). States that have more homosexual ads are a deeper red; states that have more heterosexual ads are a deeper blue. States that have a near 1:1 ratio are white.
Can any of you dudes see any sort of demographic that this pattern follows? I was thinking that maybe the ratios followed the red/blue states, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. I also thought that maybe it would vary by general geographic region, but that doesn’t appear to be the case either (except for the Northwest, which is pretty “neutral” overall). Interesting stuff.
4. Are there any individual listings that can be considered “unnecessary” due to lack of posts? Are there any individual listings that should be further divided due to way too many posts?
This wasn’t as tedious as I thought it’d be…just basically involved going back through the data for the individual listings to see if there were any that had HUGE amounts of ads or any that had virtually none.
Some points of interest:
The average number of ads posted per listing was exactly 716.
Pierre, SD had only three ads posted.
New York City had 23,122.
WFW had the fewest ads overall (7,923 for the whole country), while MFM had the most (191,753).
Cool stuff, eh?
*when I say “listing” I mean things like “Pullman/Moscow” under Washington’s state or “Rockford” under Illinois…all the individual cities/towns/regions. When I say “personal” or “personal ad” I mean things like “Good Man Wanted” under Tippecanoe’s WFW section or “SEXCAPADES” under Boulder’s MFM.
Things that are surprisingly easy to do:
– Withdraw from a Canadian university for medical reasons.
– Hire a company to pack all your apartment’s crap and haul it across the country for you.
– Love Coldplay’s new song Paradise. OH MY GOODNESS SO MUCH LOVE FIVE STARS FIVE STARS FIVE STARS.
Things that are surprisingly difficult to do:
– Cancel your Canadian credit card.
– Transfer Canadian funds to a US account.
– Terminate a Canadian cell phone contract.
– Send medical info from the US to Canada.
– Figure out how much money you’re getting for being a TA for part of a month.
– Doing all of the above in the exact appropriate order so that it all works out in the end.
Hooray stress! Perhaps today’s meme entry will alleviate anxiety.
30-Day Meme – Day 22: Your deepest fear.
Haha, nope, no stress relief. I’m afraid of failure. Failure defined on my own terms. I’d go into more detail but I’m getting really
distracted by the slot machines behind me (I’m stuck in the Las Vegas International Airport for four more hours) and I’m super tired of traveling, so I’m just going to leave things off here.