Not being able to go back to the US for more than a year has made me realize just how much stuff I still get from there. Mostly it’s stuff that I can’t find up here (like my particular brand of deodorant or the ONLY lip balm that seems to work for me), but a good amount of it is stuff that is WAY cheaper in the States. Examples:
- The pens I use when I lecture (though I guess I haven’t been using these since we’ve been online anway)
- Clothes (like even the basic stuff like socks and bras)
That’s just the stuff I can think of off the top of my head.
And it’s too terrifying to go into a Walmart or a Superstore right now, so everything has to be bought at Safeway, which is SUPER expensive.
Yay. I hate this freaking pandemic.
And it goes on
I’d say this election is absolute madness, but it actually is fitting in quite well with the theme of 2020.
Which, I guess, is the theme “absolute madness.”
But anyway. Every time I see an update on the election from a Canadian news source, you can tell the reporter is trying to hide their exasperation and disbelief over the whole situation. I’m sure it’s the same sort of thing in the States.
And while it’s frustrating that the outcome is taking so long, it’s understandable (with COVID) and I’m glad that the remaining states seem to be trying their best to be as accurate and sure as possible so that Trump will have less ammunition to use against them if he loses.
(Not like that will stop him from going after people, though.)
Edit: I love this. The joy.
There’s freaking celebrations in the streets. I don’t remember such widespread joy at the changing of Presidents in the past. Like…did people rejoice in the streets when Bush (the second one) was finally out of office? I don’t think they did.
Edit 2: Hahahaha.
COVID PARTY 2020
Six-digit daily case counts in the States? Yeah, sure, why the hell not.
That is absolutely terrifying, America. I feel like it’s right on the verge of being past anyone’s control and the only way it’s going to slow down is by just chewing through the whole US population.
But Canada isn’t doing all that much better. Here’s our second peak going strong:
Alberta, specifically, has really dropped the ball. We were in new daily case numbers between 100 and 200 for the longest time, then things jumped up to the 500s a few weeks ago. Yesterday? 800 cases. Today? 1,441 cases. People keep gathering and are apparently not staying home when they’re exhibiting COVID symptoms.
Why is everyone so freaking stupid and selfish, I don’t understand.
Like, I get the whole “pandemic fatigue” thing, but holy hell. If people just calmed their tits for like TWO MONTHS and isolated as much as they could, we could probably cut this thing down significantly.
Why is that such a hard concept?
UGH I AM SO FRUSTRATED WITH THIS WHOLE WORLD RIGHT NOW.
Wave goodbye to any sense of normality this year
So we are definitely in the “second wave” of COVID up here. It’s a bit scary because Canada was doing quite well as a country through July and August, but cases are spiking again nonetheless.
I guess the comforting thing (if you want to call it that) is that the second wave seems to be happening in almost every country that appeared to have the virus under control, so at least we’re not an outlier as far as that pattern goes. I mean, it could be worse, right?
(That, of course, is the US)
Canada did really well squelching the first wave. I hope people take this second wave just as seriously.
Edit: okay, just for funsies, Canada has had a total of about 197,000 cases and about 9,800 deaths. That’s about 0.52% and 0.026% of the Canadian population, respectively. The United States has had a total of about 8.1 million cases and about 219,000 deaths. That’s about 2.5% and of the population and 0.067% of the population, respectively. I’d say that’s a decent difference, especially in the percentage of cases.
“How Many U.S. Cities Can You Name?” aka “Your Recall of the State Capitols is a Lot Worse Than You Thought.”
I can’t name a single damn city in West Virginia. What the hell is in West Virginia? I like to think my inability to recall a single location in West Virginia is because I’ve been traumatized by the shape of that freaking state and my brain is just trying to protect me.
“It’s okay,” my brain whispers as I cry in the corner. “West Virginia isn’t real. It can’t hurt you.”
I hate how this virus has turned some people into “OMFG THE US IS A COMPLETELY WORTHLESS COUNTRY THAT HAS NEVER CONTRIBUTED ANYTHING TO THE WORLD EVER!!!!11!!11”
Just because the United States is in Hell Mode right now does not negate the good things that have come out of the country. Also, a big reason for the US being in Hell Mode right now is how polarized the country has become. Posting stuff like this to Facebook/Twitter/whatever will either a) ignite people who agree with you and make them even more “everything about the current US is awful” or b) incite people who disagree with you and make them even more “everything about the current US is amazing” and both of those outcomes will make it harder for anyone to actually make any meaningful changes because the more polarized people are, the harder it is for them to agree to anything that doesn’t pander to every aspect of their polarized view.
I mean, obviously this is just my opinion, but it seems…irresponsible. The last thing we should be doing right now is trying to further polarize the country. I don’t think it’s the solution.
North of the Border
This is probably going to sound super stupid, but every once and a while I remember that I am not living in the country I was born in and I’m like…oh.
Yeah, that sounds pretty stupid as I’m typing it out. But it’s not something that I consciously think about very often, so when I do actually think about the fact that I live in a country where I’m not technically a citizen, it’s kind of a weird thing. It’s kind of a shocking thing. I never thought I’d be living anywhere other than the US, but HERE WE ARE in a world where I’ve spent more of my adult life in Canada than in ‘Murica.
Sorry, that’s all I’ve got for today.
Take a look at these two different graphs of daily cases of COVID-19.
Which one is the US? Which one is Canada? I’ll give you one guess.
Even with the population difference, Canada is seeing much smaller rates than the US. And we’re flattening a lot more. Will we spike again? Probably. But I don’t think we’ll spike to the extent the US currently is.
Hell, that isn’t even the second wave in the US. It’s still the first wave. It just picked up a lot of momentum.
That’s terrifying. Are you all terrified down there?
Good Lord, United States
This is scary. Compare this to a pic of this website that I took back on March 26 (almost exactly a month ago).
Too bad I didn’t have Canada on that first screenshot. We’ve shot up quite a bit, too, but not nearly to the extent that the United States has.
And some states still want to start opening things back up soon, huh?
US vs. Canada
Hey friends in the United States, is it as bad down there as the news is making it sound? ‘Cause it sounds pretty bad.
Obviously no one is really focusing on Idaho; how’s Idaho? Is everyone walking around in fear of getting the virus? Is Gritman overwhelmed? Are people protesting the shelter-at-home orders to get back to work?
Obviously Canada is getting hit by this as well (just like the rest of the world), but I think the biggest difference between Canada and the US as far as how this is being handled is in how it’s become such a political thing in the US whereas up here, we haven’t politicized it.
At least, not nearly to the extent that the US has.
Like…the crisis is being dealt with despite political differences up here. Political differences are not being deepened by the crisis. Again, at least not to the extent that they are in the US.
It’s interesting and weird and scary.
And this is going to sound really stupid, but I feel guilty for not being in the United States. I feel guilty for living in a country that seems to be handling this quite well while like 99.8% of all the people I’ve ever cared about are getting traumatized by the Trumpster Dumpster and his complete incompetence. It sounds scary down there, and I feel guilty for not having to share that scariness, if that makes any sense at all.
Annnnnnnnnnd the border’s closed.
I’m actually surprised they waited so long, but the US-Canadian border is now closed to all “non-essential” travel.
It’s only closed for 30 days, but I suspect it will extend for longer than that.
I know that this closure was a mutual decision between the US and Canada, but if things start to get really rough with all of this (economy-wise, especially), I really hope it doesn’t drive a wedge between the two countries. I’ve posted this video before on here, but I’ve been thinking about it with the recent talk of closing the border (and, of course, the actual closing of the border today).
I see a little silhouetto of a ham
HEYOOOOOOO so this is something I just thought of checking (I should have done it earlier, it turns out), but I was wondering today if I’ve spent more than half my adult life in Canada yet. Some important info I needed to figure this out:
- I turned “adult” on February 2, 2008
- I spent 686 days living in Vancouver (the longest damn 686 days ever)
- I spent 70 days living in London
- I’ve lived in Calgary since August 15, 2014
So after a little bit of wizardry (math), I found out that January 5, 2017 was the first day where I’d spent more than half my adult life in Canada (1,631 days in the Canada compared to 1,630 in the US).
So that’s kind of cool! Wish I would have thought to check this a few years ago so I could have actually live-blogged it, but whatev.
Do I ever live-blog anything anymore?
I’m bored and sad, so let’s do some more dialect quizzies. Areas in red are places that pronounce things similar to how I do; areas in blue pronounce things most differently from how I do. Here are the interesting ones to me:
I apparently pronounce “Colorado” like an East Coaster (colo-RAH-do).
Pronunciation of “pecan” (pick-AHN). I blame my Missouri-born mom.
“Route” (rhymes with “out”). Montana has my back on this one.
Woo! Give it a shot here.
IDES OF APRIL
Remember that map thingamapoop that you can color in based on where you’ve lived and how long you’ve lived there?
Probably not, ‘cause that’s not super descriptive or specific. So here’s mine from 2013.
Here’s the updated map to reflect my current state.
(That was a really stupid joke, sorry.)
That’s…not as different from the 2013 one as I thought it would be, haha.
Fun at the Border Crossing
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.
Claudia Ranks the States by Shape
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.
BIG BOTTOM, WASHINGTON
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:
Where is Idaho?
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)
Road Trip – Day 2: Crowsnest Pass to Moscow
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.
Summer Plans (well, some of them)
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).