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You know, geography is a heck of a lot of fun once you get sufficiently far enough away from the torturous memories of high school classes on the subject. The conversation began when we were talking about the RinkWorks Convention 2000, which will be held in Washington, D.C.

Wolf: Sheesh. If you came up here, you could rent the entire top of McGill University's gorgeous Mont St-Hilaire for the *entire day* for 300 dollars, plus get the services of a world-famous chef for lunch or dinner.
Iss: Wow. That sounds great.
Enigma: Um, where is "Up Here"?
Sam: McGill University, duh!
Sam: :-)
Iss: Cloud five or six.
Iss: We're trying to help her back up to cloud nine, though.
Wolf: I went up there this past summer for a wedding, and the scenic part is out of this world. Imagine a green green plot with an 18th century manor, by a still calm lake on the top of a mountain, with rest of the real mountaintop in the background of the lake.
Sam: Yeah, but in DC you can see lots of buildings and traffic.
Mousie: Yay! Buildings and traffic! We don't have that here in LA!
Enigma: So, what are we actually going to do in DC? Walk around with funky plaid colors and cameras hanging off our necks, gawking at the monuments?
Sam: Right.
Sam: Sunday, at least. Saturday we'll hang out indoors with funky plaid colors and cameras.
Enigma: That'll be cool
Sam: I'm so excited about being in the DC area again. I was born at Fort Belvoir, and lived in northern Virginia for six years of my life, and now I'm all nostalgic about it.
Wolf: What's the heat like in August?
Sam: In Virginia? Devastating.
Sam: It'll be hot for us northerners.
Sam: Actually it depends. Certainly warmer than we're used to. Provided it's sunny, I would expect low 90s, but it could be high 90s, too. *shrug*
Sam: But the hotel has a POOL!
Sam: And we'll get to hear southern ACCENTS!
Sam: Although I'm not enthralled with the city itself, once you get outside the suburbs, this is perhaps my second favorite part of the country. It RULES I'm getting to go back.
Sam: And there are a lot of things I prefer about it to New England. Like that they actually have a Spring, with blossoming trees and stuff. People are generally a little better off financially, and they're a lot friendlier.
Mousie: Virginians can't decide whether they're southern or not.
Sam: Yeah, I know what you mean. That may be why I like it, though. They have a Southern culture and history and southern-tinged accents, but they're not all that far South, and there are some strong northern influences. Best of both worlds.
Enigma: Connecticut is a whole other world from where you're at. Here, they're a little better off financially, but they're snobby as all get-out.
Sam: My grandparents live in CT. I still think the snobbiness is worse further north, but Connecticut is just another one of those southern New England police states. Humongous taxes, too.
Enigma: 'Police States' is putting it mildly. Police here live by their own rules.
Enigma: The corruption is really widespread.
Sam: NH is *so* much different in that regard, that's for sure.
Sam: I still think it's funny that one of the most conservative states in the union (NH) is right next to one of the most liberal (Mass). I don't know why civil wars haven't broken out on the border.
Wolf: New Hampshire's motto, "Live Free or Die"? Where did that motto come from?
Sam: Oh, dang, you had to ask. Guy's name is on the tip of my tongue. I'll go look it up.
Sam: Here you go:
Sam: Now I'll try to find a USEFUL history of the phrase.
Sam: LOL! Check out our strict 'dinking age'.
Ticia: LOL
Sam: If you're not 21, tough, no dinking for you.
Ticia: I'm glad I'm over 21, I can dink all I want!
Sam: Ok, I found it. Here's a history of the origin of our motto:
Ticia: Sam: Great minds think alike! I was just on that site!
Ticia: "Live Free Or Die; Death Is Not The Worst of Evils."
Ticia: Utah's motto is "Industry"
Ticia: Kinda boring, ehh?
Sam: That's not quite as dramatic.
Ticia: Nope, not quite
Ticia: But we have a cool song:
Sam: Is that your actual motto, or is Utah 'The Industry State,' or something like that? Because New Hampshire is 'The Granite State,' which is different from the motto.
Ticia: It says: Motto: "Industry"
Ticia: We are "The Beehive State."
Sam: States rule.
Ticia: Yup
Sam: It RULES that we have such things as state trees and state birds. Never mind that the state bird for roughly half of the 50 states is the cardinal -- it STILL rules.
Ticia: Utah's state bird is the seagull...goodness knows, we've got enough of 'em around here!
Sam: Eeww. You could have at least picked an interesting bird.
Sam: Gulls are cacophonous and dirty.
Sam: Although they do rule.
Ticia: Actually, there is an interesting story about why the seagull is the state bird, do you want to hear it?
Sam: Lay it on me.
Ticia: Well, when the pioneers first came to Utah, and had just gotten the results of their first crop...
Ticia: a bunch of crickets (thousand and thousands of 'em) came and started to eat all the wheat and such
Ticia: well, the pioneer prayed for help, and the seagulls appeared
Sam: Wow, cool.
Ticia: the seagulls would eat as many of the crickets as they could, then throw them up and start all over again...basically we had a bunch of bulimic Seagulls
Enigma: awesome
Sam: LOL
Ticia: and it saved the crops, and the pioneers didn't starve
Ticia: If you want to read the seagull story a bit more:
Wolf: Oh... Bulimic birds. That's not so cool.
Sam: Eh, they're gulls. :-) I suspect the story is exaggerated anyway. But it's a cool story.
Wolf: Heh. The pilgrims would have all died of scurvy if the Natives hadn't shown them pine-needle tea.
Sam: Wanna know why we're The Granite State? There's a funny story about that, too.
Ticia: Shoot.
Sam: New Hampshire's first settlers settled down in New Hamsphire, and they noticed what a heck of a lot of granite there was lying around. So they called it the Granite State.
Ticia: That is funny.
Sam: Now I'll tell you why Ohio is the Buckeye State.
Ticia: Ok
Sam: Because there were horse chestnuts all over the place. But everybody thought 'Horsechestnut State' sounded stupid, so they made up a new word that would mean the same thing.
Enigma: Cool!
Ticia: Wow, that is cool
Sam: Well, I'm assuming that's how it happened. Ohio *is* the Buckeye State, and they're the only people I know that call them that.
Ticia: The name "Utah" comes from the Native American "Ute" tribe and means people of the mountains.
Sam: The name 'New Hampshire' comes from 'Hampshire,' England.
Ticia: Did you know: Utah is the 11th largest state in the Union?
Sam: But New Hampshire was the ninth state admitted to the union.
Ticia: Utah was 45th
Ticia: and it was only allowed into the Union after they made Polygamy illegal
Enigma: Florida is called The Sunshine State
Ticia: I've always wondered why? Florida's not that sunny, is it? *wink*
Enigma: Actually, after moving to New England, I discovered that I have a psychological need for sunshine... must be addicted to the Vitamin D high or something.
Sam: Well, we have 286 square miles of inland water.
Sam: Plus, we have a 21 dinking age.
Ticia: well, we're going to have the Olympics here in 2002!
Sam: Ruling.
Ticia: Get this: Utah's Official State Cooking Pot:
Ticia: Dutch Oven!
Sam: Yes!
Ticia: The Utah State Fossil: The Allosaurus!
Ticia: More allosaurus specimens have been found in two of Utah's quarries than any other dinosaur. Sixty individuals, from juveniles to adults, were found at one site in Utah.
Enigma: thatsa alotta allosauri
Sam: NH should have an official state cummerbund color.
Sam: But I'll be more than happy if they make RinkWorks the official state web site.
Sam: So you went to college in GA, but where did you live before that?
Enigma: Florida -> Georgia -> PoliceState
Sam: Heh. Culture shock with every move. I'd take Georgia over Florida in a heartbeat, no thought necessary.
Wolf: Florida has the worst-tasting water I've ever had.
Sam: Florida is only good to visit. I don't know why people like to retire down there. It's not like there isn't any other state with a warm climate and a coastline.
Enigma: Almost no annoying Southern or Northern accents to get in the way of communication, highest income-to-taxes ratio, friendly people.
Sam: Florida?
Enigma: Yes.
Sam: Bah.
Sam: How about humidity of death, high population density, pitchfork-armed mosquitos, drug smugglers, and Piers Anthony?
Wolf: That sounds like Columbia and other Latin American states, save for the Piers Anthony part.
Enigma: No chokingly dry air / also depends on where you live / definitely a minus / Don't mess with them and they don't mess with you / That sux bad
Sam: The accent thing is a minus, too. Accents RULE.
Sam: I want to move to Minnesota just so I can pick up their accent.
Wolf: Minnesota: Land of 10,000 Lakes and 100,000 mosquitos
Sam: Anyway, Georgia is a pretty cool state. Laid back atmosphere, courteous people. It's a little too far south for me, and Atlanta is pretty messed up (except for the airport; Atlanta's airport RULES), but it's pretty decent, as far as I'm concerned.
Enigma: It's really weird in GA... everybody acts as if they've known you for all their lives, and complete strangers walk up to you and seem to pick up where they left off with the last person, and finish telling you about what happened to them yesterday.
Enigma: But the Atlanta airport does rule
Wolf: There are parts of Quebec that are "land of mosquito" too. We have lots of freshwater bodies in Canada
Sam: Mosquitos are pretty bad most places with water, I guess. The part of NH I live in, we basically don't get any, but any time you go camping, you're in the thick of them. Funny thing about mosquitos, though. My parents went on a river rafting trip in the boonies of Alaska a couple years ago, and most places were out in the open -- no bugs -- but a couple places they stopped, they were in the woods, and they were so thick, by morning the tent was practically invisible beneath a thick layer of mosquitos. Open the tent screen for one second, and it was flooded inside. And yet...
Sam: ...they got maybe a tenth as many bites as they would have on a camping trip out here, though there would be far fewer mosquitoes. Alaska apparently has lots and lots and lots of not so ravenous ones.
Wolf: Weird. Maybe humans don't taste as good to the deer-sucking skeeters.
* Enigma wishes Florida had not-so-ravenous mosquitos
Enigma: The scraggly floridian hicks have been known to attack mosquitos with baseball bats and shotguns.
Enigma: The Florida State Bird is the Mosquito
Enigma: At least, that's what the postcards say.
Wolf: I know nothing about Virgina. Why have people suggested that the "state motto" of Virginia be "Please don't confuse us with West Virginia"?
Sam: I hadn't heard about that suggestion before, but I am betting it's a joke that refers to the rivalry between Virginia and West Virginia. You know how in every area there's some kind of sibling rivalry with some place next door? In NH, the rivalry is with Maine. The way Brunnen-G talks, there apparently is between Auckland and Wellington. Well, in VA, the rivalry is with WV. All those 'Did you hear about the xxxxian who...?' jokes were 'Did you hear about the West Virginian...?' when I lived in VA.
Sam: So, just a guess -- maybe that's it.
Iss: (No, it's that West Virginia is thought of as full of hick mountain folks, at whom Virginians look down their noses.)
Sam: Well, yeah.
Iss: (I didn't really say anything ... ignore me. :-) )
Sam: I *did* get that impression when I lived there. How true it is, I don't know. I don't know anything about WV other than what the stereotype was.
Sam: But I certainly don't think the Virginians are snobby. I have seldom met nicer, kinder people.
Iss: Oh, what the heck. I'll spout. Virginians have a sense of the genteel history of their state. They're proud of it. West Virginia is stereotyped as uneducated, poor, and backwards. It's small wonder that Virginians don't like the two states confused.
Iss: For all I know, WV is very unfairly stereotyped. But because it is at all, no one wants to be associated with it.
Sam: Actually, now that I think about it, there *was* a West Virginian who went to our high school, and he *did* seem like a hick.
Enigma: I had a WV teacher once, who definitely was.
Sam: I'm sure the stereotype is unfair, even so.
Iss: And while we're on the subject of "official state so-and-so's", the state flower of WV is often said to be the satellite dish. :-)
Sam: All I know is, West Virginia has a really cool song written about it by John Denver, and as if that weren't enough, when you drive back and forth between New England and Virginia, the trip through WV is about 40 minutes, so, after spending five hours in Pennsylvania, it really feels like you're making progress.
Sam: Maryland is even better. The trip through the part of Maryland you go through takes 12 minutes. I timed it.
Sam: And while I'm speaking of Maryland, I nominate it for most comically shaped state ever.
Iss: Including Oklahoma?
Sam: Including Oklahoma, although maybe that takes third behind Maryland and Michigan.
Iss: Yeah, I was thinking Michigan too.
Ticia: I think Florida is kinda funnily shaped
Sam: Maryland too bizarrely shaped for words. There's *two* spots where it's all narrow, and it seems like there should be a state boundary splitting it in there.
Sam: I mean, shouldn't Delaware get SOME of the Chesapeake Bay?
Iss: When you become President, Sam, you can rectify that grossly negligent oversight.
Sam: Here:
Sam: Interstate 81 goes right through that silly pinched part of Maryland's pan handle. 12 minute drive -- and yet there's a huge chunk of it further west. WV or Penn should own that.
Sam: Virginia has a weird thing going on with the Chesapeake Bay, too. See that little line just above where the word 'Richmond' is written? Everything south of that belongs to Virginia. It's not even connected to the rest of Virginia.
* Iss thinks an awesome-super-unbreakable spy code would be to replace each letter of the alphabet with a Yahoo URL.
Wolf: I think I agree Maryland is pretty comical. Texas is comical too, but that's because it's just big.
Iss: Which states have the *coolest* shapes?
Iss: Nevada is pretty cool, I think.
Enigma: I like Nevada, too
Marvin: Colorado :)
Ticia: Utah!!!
Wolf: Any state that doesn't look like a rectangle.
Iss: I like the way Alabama and Mississippi kind of stand back to back.
Enigma: If you could be shaped like a state, which state would it be?
Iss: LOL
Sam: So how about comically shaped countries? I nominate Chile.
Marvin: Vatican City...
Wolf: Luxembourg.
Wolf: And of course, Italy.
Sam: Luxembourg? Its shape is pretty conventional. Or were you talking about its size?
Wolf: Its size, of course.
Iss: Greenland, as it appears on most maps.
Enigma: United Arab Emirates
Iss: Finland.
Wolf: Oh yeah, Finland is all nice and craggly. :-)
Sam: Finland. Awesome lakes!
Sam: Denmark's a winner.
Iss: England/Scotland/Ireland together as an island has always looked funny to me.
Sam: It looks like a deer sitting down to me. I think Scotland by itself qualifies, too.
Sam: I don't know how we can avoid nominating CANADA!
Iss: Dang, I was about to say Canada.
Iss: Canada definitely has some of the worst "hair" of any country. :-)
Enigma: I thought that England won the Worst-Hair award
Enigma: (the punks of England, that is... not the normal Englanders)
Iss: I mean all that choppy land in the north of Canada, broken up by rivers and bodies of water.
Wolf: Canada's got a huge "scar" slashing it diagonally, starting from the NW Terrirories going down to the Great Lakes.
Wolf: It's due to the glaciers gouging.
Sam: Antarctica isn't a country, but it's the coolest shaped continent. Check out that spike in the Argentine claim.
Iss: You know, looking at that Canadian map, Alaska's got a pretty funny shape, with that dangling stretch of coastline.
Sam: I personally like the west Pacific islands. Check these places out. I would so love to go see what 'Mata-utu' is like. A capital city on an island smaller than the star on the map that indicates that it's a capital. That RULES. And there's a TON of them!
Sam: I can't even IMAGINE the culture shock.
Sam: Do they get Hershey Kisses there?
Enigma: I like "Pago Pago" myself
Iss: This is reminding me of Joe Versus the Volcano.
* Enigma just realized that there actually is such a place as Tarawa in Kiribati
Enigma: Anybody ever read Greg Bear's series on the moon?
Iss: Nope
Sam: I read it on the moon.

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