New, North, and other N places

the only time I lived outside New York State was in 1977

NunavutEight states and five Canadian areas begin with the letter N? Let’s get to it!

NB: New Brunswick, in French, Nouveau-Brunswick (N.-B.), a Canadian Maritime province. Capital: Fredericton. Moncton

NC: North Carolina, a state in the southeast US. Capital: Raleigh. Largest city: Charlotte. My parents and my “baby” sister moved to Charlotte in 1974. I resided there for four months in early 1977, the only time I lived outside New York State.

ND: North Dakota, a state in the Midwest US on the Canadian border. The abbreviation was N.D. or occasionally N. Dak. Capital: Bismarck. Largest city: Fargo.

NE: Nebraska, a state in the Midwest US. The traditional abbreviation was Neb. or Nebr. Initially, the state code was NB until it was decided in 1969 to avoid confusion with New Brunswick. Many Slang abbreviations describing the place still use Neb. Capital: Lincoln. Largest city: Omaha.

NH: New Hampshire, a New England state in the US. Capital: Concord, which allows even encourages diagonal street crossing, and designs the lights to be able to do so. Very civilized. Largest city: Manchester, whose newspaper has an outsized impact on Presidential politics, since the state has the first primaries.

NJ: New Jersey, a US state on the mid-Atlantic coast. Capital: Trenton. Largest city: Newark. When I was a kid, we went to Atlantic City and the boardwalk a few times, pre-gambling. I almost got arrested in the state hitchhiking to Philadephia, PA when I was stopped and I had left my wallet in some stranger’s car. BTW, I got the wallet back intact.

NL: Newfoundland and Labrador, a Canadian maritime province. In French, T.-N.-L. is short for Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador. Before December 6, 2001, when the province changed its name, NF was the two-letter abbreviation used for Newfoundland. “LB was commonly used for Labrador—the mainland part of the province—prior to 2002. It was an official code available for optional use in lieu of NF and was listed in the Canada Postal Guide.” Capital and largest city: St. John’s

NM: New Mexico, a US state in the Southwest, sometimes formerly abbreviated N. Mex. Capital: Santa Fe. Largest city: Albuquerque.

NS: Nova Scotia, a Canadian maritime province. In French: Nouvelle-Écosse. It’s Alba Nuadh in Scottish Gaelic. All three N provinces have a form of New in the name. Capital and largest city: Halifax.

NT: Northwest Territories, a Canadian territory. In French, Territoires du Nord-Ouest. What’s with these territories, anyway? “The major difference between a Canadian province and a territory is that provinces receive their power and authority from the Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly called the British North America Act, 1867), whereas territorial governments have powers delegated to them by the Parliament of Canada.” Capital and largest city: Yellowknife.

NU: Nunavut, a Canadian territory. It was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999. It is the largest and second-least populated section of the country. Capital and largest city: Iqaluit.

NV: Nevada, a western US state, historically abbreviated Nev. Capital: Carson City. Largest city: Las Vegas.

NY: New York, a mid-Atlantic US state. Capital: Albany, where I’ve lived for 40 years. The largest city in the US: New York City. I have lived in Binghamton, Kingston (briefly), New Paltz, Jamaica (Queens), and Schenectady.

For ABC Wednesday

My, my, there are a lot of M’s

the Missouri Compromise of 1820

Maine.War Of 1812When my daughter was learning the states, she listed them semi-alphabetically: the 4 A states, 3 C states, et al. The M’s were the hardest because there are eight of them. There are eight N states too, but four of them are “New” and two of them are “North”.

And on the abbreviation list, there are even more M’s

MA Massachusetts, US state and commonwealth in New England. Home of the father-and-son second and sixth Presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams, respectively. Capital and largest city: Boston. The traditional abbreviation was Mass, which I remember even though the Puritans were hostile to Roman Catholicism. We’ve been to the state a LOT.

MB Manitoba, a Canadian prairie province. The abbreviation is the first letters of the first and fourth (last) syllables. No other combination would work without being confused with a US state. The capital and largest city is Winnipeg.

MD Maryland, US east coast state. The abbreviation is the first and last letter, and it used to be Md. I remember that because of Johns Hopkins is a noted hospital in Baltimore, and Walter Reed is a once-troubled medical facility in Bethesda. The capital is Annapolis, the home of the US Navy. The largest city is Baltimore. We’ve stayed at a hotel in the state, but haven’t spent quality time there.

ME Maine, US state in New England. The abbreviation is the first and last letter, which was what used to be if they bothered to shorten it at all. Maine used to be part of Massachusetts until it became a state in 1819. The capital is Augusta. The largest city is Portland, where my then-fiancee and I were stranded in a snowstorm in March 1999.


MH Marshall Islands, a Freely associated state in the Pacific. What? “The Compact of Free Association (COFA) is an international agreement establishing and governing the relationships of free association between the US and three Pacific Island nations.” This is a complicated and occasionally contentious relationship beyond what I can address here. Capital and largest city: Majuro.

MI Michigan, US state in the Midwest. It was historically abbreviated Mich before it was altered to the first two letters. One of the five Great Lakes is in Michigan, but I won’t tell you which one. That’s why there’s an Upper Penisula and Lower Peninsula. The capital is Lansing. The largest city is Detroit, the original home of Motown Records, which I have visited, along with the Henry Ford Museum and the now-razed Tigers Stadium.

MM As far as I know, there is no MM. There are M&Ms, a candy introduced in 1941. When I buy a small bag, I usually eat them in rainbow order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and brown.

MN Minnesota, US state in the Midwest. It was formerly abbreviated Minn. Angle, MN is the most northern point in the continental US. The source of the mighty Mississippi is Lake Itasca. The capital is Saint Paul, and the largest city is Minneapolis, which are collectively known as the Twin Cities. I hope to go there in 2021.

MO Missouri, US state in the Midwest. It’s almost always abbreviated Mo., to distinguish it from Mississippi. It entered the Union as a slave state in 1820 as part of the Missouri Compromise. The short-lived Pony Express started in Missouri in 1860. The capital is Jefferson City, and the largest city is Kansas City, where everything’s up to date.

MP Northern Mariana Islands, a Commonwealth (U.S. insular area), like Puerto Rico, but unlike states such as Massachusetts. It’s in the Pacific. Capital and largest city: Saipan.

MS Mississippi, US state in the South. I found it oddly humorous as a teen when I discovered Miss. became MS. I was in the state for a very short time in 1970. Capital and largest city: Jackson.

MT Montana, US state in the West. Formerly Mont., it’s easy to remember because it resides in the Rocky Mountains. Capital: Helena. Largest city: Billings.

M’s for ABC Wednesday

The phenomenon of Florida Man

around since 2013

florida man beerI’m not convinced that men in Florida are, per capita, any weirder than fellows in Oklahoma or Maryland or New York. Yet the notion of the Florida Man has been around since 2013. The meme calls attention to Florida’s supposed notoriety for strange and unusual events.

This narrative is explained HERE. “On May 12th, 2015, the Miami New Times published an article titled How Florida’s Proud Open Government Laws Lead to the Shame of ‘Florida Man’ News Stories, which cited the state’s Sunshine Act as a possible cause for the bevy of ‘Florida Man’ news stories.”

The paper “noted that freedom of information laws in Florida make it easier for journalists to obtain information about arrests from the police than in other states and that this is responsible for the large number of news articles.

“All we have to do in most cases is call the police department and ask for an arrest report, and the cops are required to give it to us. Nowadays a lot of cops simply email the reports, and some departments even post arrest records online. Some of the more dedicated weird-Florida-news reporters go through batches of arrest reports at a time.”

For instance, here are 60 examples posted in 2018:
Florida Man attacked during selfie with squirrel
thousands of gun owners in Florida planning to “shoot down” Hurricane Irma
Florida Man gets tired of waiting at hospital, steals ambulance, drives home
Florida Man breaks INTO jail to hang with friends
Florida Man denies drinking and driving, says he only swigged bourbon at stop signs

Here’s a list from Huffington Post and a description in the Urban Dictionary.

In fact, the phenomenon has engendered some reflections. It turns out that people from Florida are (slightly) better at guessing if a ‘Florida Man’ story really happened in Florida.

I’ve been to Florida twice, both to conferences in the 1990s. Once, I was in Miami during a muggy October. The other time was in Orlando, but no, I never went to Disneyworld or Universal Studios.

FL Florida – first two letter. The traditional abbreviation was Fla. Capital: Tallahassee. Largest city: Miami.

FM Federated States of Micronesia. Capital: Palikir. Largest town: Weno. It is “a sovereign, self-governing state in free association with the United States of America, which is wholly responsible for its defense.”

For ABC Wednesday

BC: British Columbia; Before Christ

the use of BCE was popularized in academic and scientific publications

British ColumbiaWhat possessed me going through the two-letter postal codes for United States states, Canadian provinces and territories of both? It started with a game I used to play with my daughter, usually in the car.

I’d say there were four states beginning with A and she’d name them. None with B, but three with C, one with D, etc.

Re: British Columbia, I started wondering about something. How does the province in Canada furthest from the country and explorer for which it’s named become so dubbed?

Here’s an explanation: “The Colony… was founded by Richard Clement Moody [et al.]… in response to the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush… He was hand-picked by the Colonial Office in London to transform British Columbia into the British Empire’s ‘bulwark in the farthest west,’ and ‘to found a second England on the shores of the Pacific…’

“Today… the question of Aboriginal Title, long ignored, has become a legal and political question of frequent debate as a result of recent court actions. Notably, the Tsilhqot’in Nation has established Aboriginal title to a portion of their territory, as a result of a 2014 Supreme Court of Canada decision.”

The traditional English abbreviation was B.C., the traditional French C.-B. for Colombie-Britannique. Capital: Victoria; largest city: Vancouver.

Dionysius invented the Anno Domini system in the sixth century, “which is used to number the years of both the Gregorian calendar and the Julian calendar.

“Common Era or Current Era (CE) and BCE (Before the Common Era or Before the Current Era)… are alternatives to the Dionysian AD and BC system respectively… Since the two notation systems are numerically equivalent, “2019 CE” corresponds to “AD 2019” and “400 BCE” corresponds to “400 BC”.

The expression has been traced back to 1615, when it first appeared in a book by Johannes Kepler… The term “Common Era” can be found in English as early as 1708, and became more widely used in the mid-19th century by Jewish religious scholars.

“In the later 20th century, the use of CE and BCE was popularized in academic and scientific publications as a culturally neutral term. It is also used by some authors and publishers who wish to emphasize sensitivity to non-Christians, by not explicitly referencing Jesus as “Christ” and Dominus (“Lord”) through use of the abbreviation “AD”.

There’s a daughter story here, too. Someone in her class a few years back suggested that AD meant After Death, presumably of Jesus, but someone (OK, I) had told her some time earlier that it meant “in the year of our Lord”, or Anni Domini. However, the teacher agreed with the other student until he subsequently checked.

For ABC Wednesday

Where I’ve been in the USA

Sadly, I haven’t added to the thirty states I’ve visited since my trek to Chicago, IL in 2008.

I got to the map on this page via Dustbury.

Click states in the map to cycle through the colors, or use the list beneath. Choose:

red for states where you’ve not spent much time or seen very much.
amber for states where you’ve at least slept and seen some sights.
blue for states you’ve spent a lot of time in or seen a fair amount of.
green for states you’ve spent a great deal of time in on multiple visits.

These are definitionally tricky categories. In addition to NY and NC, where I’ve lived, I’ve added PA to the green category, because at least three of my grandparents’ families lived there. The parents of my childhood friend Carol owned a cottage in northern PA, where I visited a lot. I’ve seen my now-ex, the Okie, there. One of my brothers-in-law lives there now.

Likewise, I spent so much time going to Boston and Springfield that I added Massachusetts to the list. The same then future brother-in-law used to live there, who I visited after I appeared on JEOPARDY! in Boston.

California almost made the list, due to multiple visits to San Diego; I’ve actually been to the major league ballpark there more than any other. Vermont was also on the blue-to-green bubble. Washington, DC would be definitely blue.

Most of the amber states I visited as a result of a single conference visit: Colorado, Kentucky, Illinois, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin. I went to Michigan and Ohio on a train trip in 1998. Oddly, the only place I’ve been in West Virginia is Martinsburg, about halfway between Albany, NY and Charlotte, NC, but we’ve been there enough times to identify the restaurants and hotels, practically from memory.

A few years ago I did a similar map, but it was a merely/yes no thing. Sadly, I haven’t added to the thirty states I’ve visited since my trek to Chicago, IL in 2008. But we ARE working on adding to The Daughter’s list.

Incidentally, if I were to add the Canadian provinces, Quebec would be amber – two trips to Montreal in the 1990s – but Ontario would be blue, with trips to Windsor, Toronto, Peterborough, and especially Niagara Falls.

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