MegaKota? Mega NO, duh.

Have you heard about the online petition to merge North Dakota and South Dakota into a single state and call it MegaKota? Some guy in Fargo must have been really bored, because he started thinking about how badly he wants Puerto Rico to become a U.S. state, but hates the idea of changing the flag, because having 50 stars is neat-o. His solution? Combine the Dakotas and give them a really stupid name. Because that’s far less disruptive than hiring a seamstress to sew a 51st star onto the flag.

It’d be pretty cool to have a state called MegaKota so yeah.

The guy does have a way with words. I can see why his petition went viral. So yeah.

I think the whole idea is MegaStupid. Then again, I’ve got a more vested interest than most of the population. You think I want to go through the hassle of changing my address in a million different places, getting a new driver’s license, new license plates, etc.? I just went through all that six months ago! Besides, we aren’t the only states that could merge. How about MegaLina? Or MegaGinia? Or, for that matter, why not ColoRaska or IdaTana or New JersAware? Literally any two states that touch could be combined into one larger state in order to prevent the despoiling of our precious flag.

megakota

As usual, the comments on this article are even more entertaining than the story itself. One rocket-scientist-in-training writes, “How can it be called the United States if some of our states are divided in half?” By that logic, Einstein, how can it be called the United States if some of our states are divided by a freakin’ ocean!? Much like, ahem: Puerto Rico.

It’s all starting to feel like a vicious circle. A MegaCircle, if you will.

megakotamapborder

Mind you, I don’t think any of this will ever actually happen. These petitions to split up and/or combine states gain a little traction and then inevitably peter out. Like the idea to turn California into three separate states (shot down by the state Supreme Court last July) and the desire to create Jefferson out of southern Oregon and northern California. There’s even an independence movement afoot to create a whole new country called Cascadia out of the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, but good luck ever seeing that come to fruition.

But at least we live in a country where people can dream big, right? They won’t get arrested or have their citizenship rescinded or anything.

They’ll just be ridiculed in blogs.

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Tentucky, Anyone?

I was reading an article the other day about states with the most appealing shapes. This piece declared Montana the winner. I’m a little suspicious though, because the article in question was printed in a Montana newspaper.

Conflict of interest much?

I have actually given a lot of thought to states’ shapes over the years. I used to work in an office with a giant map of the U.S. hanging on the wall, and my eye was often drawn to it. One day I was gazing extra intently and made a few observations about America. Our states may be united, but they are not equal – at least when it comes to their shapes and sizes.

Take Tennessee, for starters. The poor thing looks as if it’s been squashed beneath somebody’s foot, a fate deserving of a cockroach perhaps, but not the Volunteer State. It certainly doesn’t have the vivacious, full-bodied look of an Ohio. How ’bout they volunteer to annex Kentucky? That would be one pleasant-looking state. Tentucky, maybe?

tentucky

Introducing Tentucky.

Tennessee is far from the only state to have drawn the short end of the geographical straw. At least it isn’t Rhode Island, so tiny it looks like it was tacked onto Connecticut as an afterthought. Plus, hello: it isn’t even an island. Our forefathers were either naive, drunk, ironic, or sarcastic when they named it. Possibly some combination of the four. Delaware, with size issues of its own, is a relative giant in comparison.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, why is Texas so big? You could fit approximately two hundred Rhode Islands within its borders, and still have room for a Delaware or two. Do you think Oklahoma ever looks at its neighbor to the south with anything short of derision? Texas already spills over into a good portion of what should rightfully be the Sooner State, leaving it with a thin little sliver of a panhandle. By the way, panhandles are stupid. They’re like a consolation prize or something. I’d be insulted if I were stuck with a panhandle! Whoever cooked up that idea must have been begging for ridicule.

They say Idaho has a panhandle, but it looks more like a chimney to me. Unless you’re balancing your pan on its side, in which case all your food is going to spill onto the stove, leaving you with one hell of a mess to clean up. Like I said: stupid.

At least Texas has an interesting shape. Colorado and Wyoming are just squares. Yawn. New Mexico is spared their fate by a little hanging piece in the southwest corner, which by all rights should be a part of regular Mexico. Speaking of that, I’d be offended if my name were lifted from someplace else. Sorry, all you “New” states. That doesn’t disguise the fact that your name has been recycled.

Nevada’s a freakin’ trapezoid. How badass is that?

Wouldn’t a perfectly round state be fun? Imagine driving around it. You’d just keep your steering wheel turned to the left or right the whole trip!

Do you think Florida ever gets lonely, dangling out there all by itself in the bottom corner of the country? They always say California is in danger of breaking apart and floating away, but if you ask me, Florida’s the real trouble spot. Especially with the constant threat of hurricanes pounding at their door. If any state is going to break off, it’ll be the Sunshine State. Hey, if that happens, maybe they can swap names with Rhode Island.

What’s the deal with Michigan, anyway? It’s like somebody with Parkinson’s disease was tasked with drawing the outline. While sitting in the passenger seat of a car traveling down a bumpy road. And, it’s like two states in one – an upper and lower peninsula. Are they even connected? Hawaii, for that matter, consists of seven islands, yet it’s a single state. And one of those islands is named Hawaii, but the others are…not. Somebody was smoking Maui Wowie that day.

Finally, answer me this. There are two Dakotas and two Carolinas, both distinguished by North and South. Why, then, is there a West Virginia, but no East Virginia?

And you thought geography was no fun…

Countdown: 80 Days

What’s a “Swinged Cat,” Anyway?!

Like most states, South Dakota has several different nicknames. Most are not surprising. It is called, among other things:

  • The Mount Rushmore State
  • The Coyote State
  • The Sunshine State
  • The Blizzard State
  • The Land of Infinite Variety

But one nickname stands out from the pack: South Dakota’s most unusual moniker is the Swinged Cat State. Wondering where such an odd name came from? You can thank (or blame it on) this guy:

mellette

That’s Arthur Calvin Mellette, the first Governor of South Dakota. In 1890, the state was experiencing a drought. Mellette was doing his best to persuade settlers to stick around. While in Chicago on a trip in which he was attempting to secure financial aid, Moses Handy, an associate of Arthur’s and a newspaperman, turned to his friend and asked, “Well, governor, how is South Dakota?”

Mellette’s response?

Well, South Dakota is a swinged cat, better than she looks.

The term “swinged” is an old colloquialism meaning “singed” or “burned slightly.”

The next day, the Chicago Inter Ocean newspaper ran a story about Mellette, governor of “the swinged cat state.” And the rest is obscure history.

I’ve been blogging, on and off, for the better part of my adult life now. The platforms have changed, but writing is the one constant in my life. Since 2009, I’ve been posting semi-regularly on WordPress to Mark My Words. That blog has followed me through many ups and downs in my life and contains memories galore. However, 2018 promises to be a year of change like no other, and I feel it’s time for a fresh start.

Welcome to Swinged Cat. This blog will chronicle the journey of me and my wife, Tara, as we leave behind the Pacific Northwest and head 1,200 miles east, to the Great Plains of South Dakota. I lived in Rapid City many years ago and never imagined I’d ever call it home again, but if there’s one lesson I’ve learned over the years, it’s that the old axiom, never say never, holds true.

If you’ve been following me on Mark My Words, first off, thank you. Please go ahead and bookmark this site instead. That 8+ years’ worth of content isn’t going anywhere, but I will be shifting the focus of the blog to business-related articles.

Swingedcat.com (I kind of love the name!) will be my new home for personal posts and more. I have a few goals in mind here: I want to write more frequently, even if my posts are simple one-sentence asides. Or random thoughts. Inspiring quotes. Photos. Reposts of interesting articles. I want to focus more on the attractions of South Dakota, once we get there. The things we eat and drink, the places we go, the crazy weather we are sure to encounter (“Blizzard State,” remember?). But most of all, I want to document the experience of uprooting my entire life, at the not-so-tender age of…never mind…and start fresh. It’s big, and exciting, and a little scary. And I’m pretty sure it’ll be entertaining, too.

So thank you for following along. Buckle your seatbelts…it’s going to be a crazy ride!

Countdown: 132 Days