Pennsylvania means Penn’s woods. I don’t remember much else from school, but, gosh darnit, I remember that. I’m sure other states have some interesting name etymologies, but I don’t really know.

Pennsylvania is really PA. We don’t call it Pennsylvania. We will travel and people will ask us where we’re from and we will say PA and get lots of confused looks. I’ve asked around and apparently no other state does this.

And I can’t say the city I’m from, because that would answer the question of where I’m from just as easily, but my accent comes out and I don’t want to say that I’m from Scran’n. It’s more effort to pronounce Scranton than it is to say “I’m from PA.” “…” “Pennsylvania.”

The closest we get to saying Pennsylvania is when talking about PennDOT. I’m proud of PennDOT. It’s pronounceable, unlike NJDOT.

And we talk about PennDOT a lot, because we don’t have roads, we have potholes surrounded by asphalt. I’ve heard we have more roads compared to land area than most states. That’s a lot of pot holes.

Also our local PennDOT spokesman is named James May, so I can pretend he is the James May, and not just a James May.

You know that Penn’s Woods thing I mentioned a few paragraphs ago? It’s not messing around, we have a lot of trees. It’s pretty cool.

We can’t buy alcohol for home consumption easily. Standalone liquor stores are state run and only a few are open on Sundays, and most of the beer stores sell beer in large cases which doesn’t work for someone who doesn’t drink often. The easiest way to get 6 packs is from restaurants.

Usually pizza restaurants.

Did I mention the pizza? It’s what we do here, nestled among the trees.

We also have many bars. I guess it’s irrelevant how one gets beer for home use when there are bars everywhere.

But I’m antisocial, so I have to brave the stores to get alcohol. The most recent trick is that grocery stores have started adding cafe areas which is technically a separate restaurant so you can buy beer there. They put up pylons to separate the cafe (beer) from the groceries. Wegmans is great because they have an actual cafe with good food, but I think some stores just have beer cafes.

I’m sure there’s a lot more I can say about Pennsylvania, but I didn’t really set out to write a comprehensive list. I just had some wine (that I bought from the state-run liquor store and chose because it had ravens on the label) and it was more interesting to type words on the computer than it was to watch the news. I did watch the news for a minute, apparently someone handed Donald Trump a piece of paper saying he should talk about Joe Paterno (Oh, maybe I should have talked about Penn State, the only other time we say part of our state name out loud) and Ted Cruz and his father are both here (Oh no, I need to leave now).

Oh, I was just reminded by a commercial. We can’t drive here. But everyone from neighboring states drives worse. New Yorkers live in the wrong lane. And New Jerseyans (really?) like to exit from the farthest away lane. And they like to talk about how poorly we drive. I like to pretend we’re all just siblings who’ve had to share a room for too long and 2 lanes are just not enough for all of us.

I…think that’s about all I have to say right now. I like it here. Usually. Kinda. Trees are cool.

2 thoughts on “Living in Pennsylvania, a drunk history of sorts

  1. I remember when the USPS two-letter postal codes for states were introduced. Previously, the names of some states, such as New Jersey, had for a long time often been abbreviated as just two letters. But Pennsylvania was abbreviated as “Penn.” (usually with that period, though people such as I find annoying the inclusion of periods in abbreviations). I doubt that in that earlier age Pennsylvanians called their state /pa/ or /piˈe/, but I have no problem with this innovation.

    I spent most of my childhood in New Jersey, albeït in three separate intervals. We did not call the place /ˈɪndje/ or /nʊdj/, but “Jersey” or “New Jersey”. (Contrary to what New Yorkers have led the world to believe, few-if-any people from New Jersey pronounce “er” as /oi/; that’s actually more a dialect of some people from parts of New York City and Connecticut.)

    California might call itself /siˈe/, but so might Canada, based upon two-letter ISO code. In November, southern Californians of European descent began fantasizing about their state, along with Oregon and with Washington running-away to join the circ— er… Canada. That could cause the postal addresses to end with “CA, CA”, which seems appropriate enough. However, northern California, western Oregon, and western Washington would surely be given and exercise an option to stay with the Union (à la West Virginia during the Civil War), and Canadians might not want the responsibilities of accepting an insolvent state that cannot meet its own water needs and will someday have its greatest city levelled by an earthquake. More likely, a separated southern California (which, by the way, natives do not call “SoCal”) would be annexed by its southern neighbors, with the support of its Latino population.

    “LA” can be the source of real confusion. It stands for the aforemention city-to-be-destroyed, for Louisiana, and for Laos (officially know as “The Lao People’s Democratic Republic”). “Los Angeles” is itself a shortening of “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula”, but its people feel a need to shorten things still further.

    The real economics of state-funded roads is interesting. As a good first approximation, I would say that the state squeezes as much money out of the taxpayers as it can for road building and maintenance, and then provides the lowest quality roads with which it can get away, given that tax burden. There’s a feedback loop, of course, because some people are gullible enough to expect that roads will be greatly improved if that surrender still more of their money, and many people are happy to believe that roads will be greatly improved if they surrender still more of the money of someone else. But the feedback diminishes with each loop, and things settle into an equilibrium unhappy for everyone except bureaucrats and road contractors.

    1. I should above have referred to “eastern Washington” and to “eastern Oregon”, rather than to their western regions. Having spent most of my childhood on the East Coast, I think of the ocean as to the east, and get disoriented when thinking of the Pacific (to my occasional embarrassment).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *