Thursday, August 20, 2009

Canada: The Sleeping Giant

Recently some constituents and I decided to have a Canadian themed night. Well, I happen to love Canada (America's rather non-offensive and considerate northern neighbor). And, I've even managed to do some international travel to Canada about four times. So, you would think I would be the expert, right? Er, no. I had a hard time thinking of things distinctly "Canadian." In fact, I couldn't even think of a single movie filmed in Canada (besides some rubbish Bollywood film I once watched in a moment of weakness and boredom).

My idea was that perhaps we could sit around, wolf down some ketchup flavored chips, say "eh" lots, enthusiastically exclaim about hockey, and pretend like we live on farms. But ya know, I just knew there was more to Canada than their ketchup flavored chips.

So, here are a few things that I can think of off the top of my head that are Canadian:

1) The sport 'curling'
2) Celine Dion
3) Roots Clothing
4) Maple Leaves
5) Lots of natural resources (like petroleum)
6) Canadian Bacon (Is it really 'Canadian?')
7) Very badly marked roads in British Columbia
8) The world's biggest meteor crater lake (I once had to do a research paper on crater lakes)

Hmm, I realized my knowledge of Canada was distressingly diminutive. So, I executed some extensive research and unearthed the following facts.

1) California has more inhabitants than Canada, 36 million people, whilst Canada has only 33 million.
2) Keanu Reeves used to manage a pasta shop in Canada before becoming an actor.
3) Canada's east coast is closer to London than it is to it's west coast.
4) It' massive--the second largest country in the world.
5) There are more recreational golfers per capita in Canada than in any other country (including Estonia oddly enough).
6) Superman was created by a Canadian.
7) Pamela Anderson is from Canada.
8) Canada has the highest per capita immigration rate in the world.

Well there you have it. Useful information in regards to Canada to add to you vast knowledge of the country of caribou.

So, next time you're playing a passionate rendition of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," on your guitar, or you're pretending to be Superman, or you're participating in that odd sport of culring, just remember Canada--an often looked over country with more to it than meets the eye.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Traipse at the County Fair

Some weeks ago, I was visiting my parents and pondering what to do. I'd already engaged in the various activities I generally engage in whilst visting them. I had thrown my arm out by playing fetch with the dog, gone for a stroll, watched TV, surfed the web, and admired my dad's impressive book collection.

So, I sucked in my breath and furrowed my eyebrows and gave a good genuine thought about what to do. When, out of the corner of my eye, I detected the local newspaper. Inside was a brochure announcing the weeks activities of the county fair. The county fair? I hadn’t made an appearance at the county fair since I was a teenager. I gave a jolly leap of excitement and made an enthusiastic declaration to my parents that I would like to attend the county fair. We exclaimed to one another what a terrific idea it was and that we would go the following day.

We drove to the fair and parked in a dusty parking lot and rode a cart, pulled by a green John Deer tractor and a man in a cowboy hat up to the fairgrounds. Once there, it all came back to me. The smell of fried food, hay, animal manure, and people enjoying themselves. As a teenager, I used to pass my summer getting ready for the fair and then I would spend every day at the fair, as I used to compete in horse showing contests whilst wearing showy and flashy clothing.

We meandered through the building that housed the craft contests—the flower arrangements, knitted items, home-sewn clothing, photos, baked goods, woodwork, and even place-settings. Not only that but it hosts vegetable growing contests and the miscellaneous booths with people promoting their political ideals, selling jewelry and newspaper ads. I was reminded of my sister, who once entered some boxes in the fair. She dug up some old boxes, covered them with wallpaper, called it art and declared them a form of self-expression (perhaps not). She managed to win “honorable mention,” with a note from the judge saying “Next time use glue, not tape.”

We enjoyed a honky-tonk duo singing country songs about strong cowboy coffee in tincups and wrangling wild farm animals (such as the welsh pony). It made me want to give up this city life, move out to the range and spend the days taming wild mustangs, wearing cool belt buckles, and speaking bad English (Such as "He done diddly done me wrong")

We walked through all the barns housing farm animals sponsored by kids participating in FFA (Future Farmers of America) and 4H (4 H’s—hands, health, heart and head). Kids are expected to keep the animal pens neat, show them in contests, wash the animals and feed them too. At the end of the fair, the kids will auction their animals off and earn some money. We bumped into some people (who my dad knew) and they introduced us to their 11-year-old daughter. She showed us her animal—a massive steer weighing about 1200 pounds. I was quite impressed with this gangly girly girl who managed this monstrousity of an animal

Some kid allowed us to pet his duck and say endearing things to it like "ducky duck! A boo!" A very charitable thing to do indeed.

My favorite part of the animal exhibition at the fair is, of course, the horses. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and personality. What I like about them is their multiple psychological conditions: some spook out of paranoia, others chew on their stall because of depression, some bite because of anger issues and many just feel self conscious that they have multiple embarassing noises coming out of their bodies simultaneously. Yes, they are the most interesting.

When at the fair, one must eat accordingly. I decided I would have the unhealthiest thing I could for lunch: a corndog. As I was eating my corndog, some kids (who were sitting near us at a different table eating hamburgers) were enlightening us about all the animals in the petting zoo: goats, a miniature pony, pigs, ducks, little cows and more.

There is just too much to see at the county fair: the hypnotists, the cutest baby contest, the pig-racing contest, the human cannonball, carnival rides, the magicians, the has been aging rockstars (suck as Village People) and lumberjack contests (men racing up trees and taking their chainsaws and cutting off half the tree--a must see for anyone who is anyone).

After an exhausting day walking around the fairgrounds looking at animals, bean-growing contests, eating snow cones and smelling the smell of animals, I asked myself why I happen to like the annual county fair.

This is why:
a) it's about the most American activity I can think of
b) it's a celebration of rural life
c) it gives kids a healthy hobby and responsibility
d) it enhances community

Rural life is an aspect of American life that does not often get recognition, but once a year, the annual county fair will give it the recognition it deserves. So remember to spend that $10 and go and support your county fair.