Olathe means “Beautiful” – My Ouisconsin Toponymy Bliss

France is smaller than Texas alone, but like everywhere, it’s divided into regions, with different cultures, crowded (Paris region) or not (l’Auvergne), near the sea (Bretagne) or near Germany (l’Alsace).

Some regions have city names with the same suffix. Next to Lille (North of France), we have many towns finishing by “in” : Carvin, Camphin, Phalempin, Wavrin…

In Normandy you find many “ville” : Dauville, Trouville…

In Brittany : Bannalec, Carnac, Le Drennec, Glénac, Iffendic…

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You know that I’m a little obsessed with America, and I often wander on the USA map, trying to find the origins of the cities. Indian native, or English, French, Spanish? I check on Wikipedia…

For example, there’s a List_of_Swedish_place_names_in_the_United_States

More interesting : List_of_non-US_cities_with_a_US_namesake, where I find a Chantilly, Missouri (Aawweeeeeeee) or a Versailles, Kentucky (oh really?). Paris, Texas, remember?

22 American city names comes from Norway! (Drammen, Wisconsin, OMG).

So, let’s see the States names. Alabama is Choctaw. Arizona means “The Good Oak” in Basque (South-West of France), Nevada means “snow-covered” in Spanish, and OMG, Wisconsin : “Originally spelled Mescousing by the French, and later corrupted to Ouisconsin” : That’s cute, n’est-ce pas?

 

For each city, you can open this little box of shells. I chose Olathe, Texas, gives :

Olathe was founded by Dr. John T. Barton in the spring of 1857. He rode to the center of Johnson County, Kansas, and staked two quarter sections of land as the town site. He later described his ride to friends: “…the prairie was covered with verbena and other wild flowers. I kept thinking the land was beautiful and that I should name the town Beautiful.” Purportedly, Barton asked a Shawnee interpreter how to say “Beautiful” in his native language. The interpreter responded, “Olathe.”

I knowww, I will never be cured 🙂

Good day !

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Fixin’to #traveling (again without moving) in the #USA

Sweatin’ like a sinner in church…

I downloaded a bunch of Smithsonian TV episodes of Aerial America. I just watched the Michigan one, and, say, I’ll probably watch the whole pack!

It’s just one hour long, it’s “taken from helicopter” so I see the country from above, it’s… interesting. There’s a little of History and some funny stories (Kellog’s, Detroit, Eminem, General Motors, Ford, the German population, lakes, and the fact it’s divided in two pieces). The flaws are : there are not enough maps to explain things. It’s not linked enough to the neighbor states. And the narration is a little too much American-TV (so everything is “THE BEST OF THE WORLD” – or the biggest stadium of the country, the greatest factory of the fifties in America, or the longest bridge EVER, etc).

I also have a pack of movies about American History. It’ll help, this summer, I bet, to move forward.

You’ll find plenty of arrogant European people telling that people in USA are non traveling ignorants who don’t even know where Belgium or Italy are on a map. But ask a French what is the capital of Colorado, or to place Oklahoma on the US Map, and you’ll see.

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I began to read the hilarious Bill Bryson book called The Lost Continent. This guy is from Iowa and decided one day to explore his country with two big loops (cf map). So my next episodes will be Iowa and maybe Missouri. It’s another way to visit without moving, right?

When Bryson crosses some cities like Des Moines, Hannibal or Palmyra, I often stop reading and I go on Instagram. I search Pella, Iowa, for example, and, well, I see the land, the sky, the church, the roads, what people do, what people like (cycling or all terrain vehicles?). Do I see vineyards or corn fields? I can’t wait for Wiscasset, Maine, right? I Google-mapped too, a little.

I wonder what you people “feel” when you see one of yours words written in the UK way. For example with realise/realize or colour/color.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time on YouTube exploring accents. What is really the Southern Accent? So I watched this :

 

Sorry for my English, it’s difficult some days. I’m French, after all!…

Thanks for reading!

JP

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“And he heard how I laughed with you” : Chronicle 6

Happiness is a strange thing. Sometimes we forget to laugh, then we suddenly have someone who’s able to open a box. We laugh. It’s a strange and delicious laugh. It’s THIS box opening. A new sound. Something new. And we laugh.

As a French, I learnt at school that New was pronounced NIEW. Then I talked to Americans, all saying NOO. So now I’m proud to say : “Hey! That’s new!”. Correctly said (noo) and with the “no space between new and the “!”. I find SO interesting that we French are used to add a space here : “It’s new!” -> “C’est nouveau !”.

Today I watched this hippie movie, Hair, with my oldest daughter, and she and I loved it. Then we talked about the fact that last week we watched Forrest Gump. Like if we were studying the second part of the XXth Century of the United States of America, right?

I love this beginning, from Oklahoma to New York :

 

Imagine you live in America, and your street name is in Spanish, your city name is in Spanish and your school’s name is in Spanish. What does it mean? Well, OK, nothing.

I remember my own shock when I realized that San Francisco meant Saint François, and Los Angeles : Les Anges (The Angels, sorry).

I read that a wall between Mexico and the USA would be a little stupid, because Mexican immigrants mainly come by plane. Is that true? Can someone be THAT stupid? I need a lecture.

Tonight I watched a great documentary about one of your best photographer alive : William Eggleston. If you Google Image him you’ll (maybe) understand why I love him so much : he shows (with a fabulous sense of color) something intimate about the USA, he SHOWS something. And this with a “constantly random” attitude (kids, a light, a street, a store, a car), which I adore. I was watching him “hunting” images in this documentary, with a constant “awwweeee” in my mind. The eye of a photographer is something really special. I love that guy. Here are a few pictures :

 

To finish this chronicle here is a good picture I found of Facebook yesterday.

Don’t forget how you laughed. I won’t. Ever.

Have a nice day!

 

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“Interstate 80” fantasy #traveling #USA

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_80

I choose this road. 3000 miles. 60 days. Drive 50 miles a day every morning, then leave the Interstate to see what’s around. Drive. Park. Breathe. Watch things, nature, villages, cities, roads, people. Sit somewhere on a bench. Watch. Take pictures too. I could do it.

No, it’s NOT Route 66.

I can’t do it for real, because I’m shy, lazy and broke. Maybe on Google Maps?

It’s traveling without traveling. Maybe when I’ll be stuck in my bed when I’ll be 80 years old. By the way, I found the list of big cities I’d cross over.

I publish this. I have to go, dear readers : I want to visit Joliet, Illinois, now.

“Quad Cities”? Really?

San Francisco, Californie
Oakland, Californie
Sacramento, Californie
Reno, Nevada
Salt Lake City, Utah
Cheyenne, Wyoming
Sidney, Nebraska
North Platte, Nebraska
Kearney, Nebraska
Grand Island, Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Des Moines
Iowa City
Quad Cities, Iowa et Illinois (Davenport)
Joliet, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
Toledo, Ohio
Cleveland Ohio
Youngstown, Ohio
Sharon, Pennsylvanie
Clarion, Pennsylvanie
Du Bois, Pennsylvanie
Clearfield, Pennsylvanie
Bellefonte, Pennsylvanie
Williamsport, Pennsylvanie (par l’Interstate 180)
Bloomsburg, Pennsylvanie
Hazleton, Pennsylvanie
Stroudsburg, Pennsylvanie
Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvanie
New York (par l’Interstate 95)

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Freedom & Hungriness : exploring a domain “in a roundabout way”

Imagine you want to explore the life of Abraham Lincoln, or the D-Day. You can do that the proper way, reading a biography or watching a good documentary. But I like to find other path, in a roundabout way, finding another door, another color, being a little casual and inappropriate.

Take the Lincoln example. You can :

  • Read about someone’s around : his wife, a general, his murderer.
  • Read about what happened after him, or the American life before him.
  • Find pictures on the web about him, his life, his handwritten letters.
  • Read a diary of somebody who knew him.
  • Find everything about his opponents.
  • Explore one month only of his life and the country’s life too.
  • Find a Lincoln forum on the web and spend months exploring, reading questions and answers of specialists.

Tool :

Casualness in knowledge exploration is a possible way.

Thanks for reading!

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Writing in another language

I’m French. I write in English. Why? Here’s what I see :

  • Blogging in English forces me to me short and simple.
  • So it’s like pendrawing instead of oil painting. Water instead of wine.
  • I constantly check (and thus learn) vocabulary.
  • So I have to think about the French vocabulary too.
  • I am not distracted by any search of French “Style”, and it’s a relief.
  • I quit my well known ground, to find another babyway to walk on another soil.
  • Writing in French is like “too easy”, it flows fast (as I type) from ideas to words.
  • Writing in English is more like building a little plane-model with unusual words. It’s slower, and a pleasure too.
  • There’s a playing child pleasure into it.
  • As it’s not my “tongue”, I feel really more chilled out when I write here.
  • Therefore I can focus on my little tools, not “How to say that in French properly”.
  • I invent words with a smile.
  • I make mistakes on purpose… with a smile.
  • I know and feel that I miss something, and I have to ignore it, and let go.
  • I can speak English, but I’m also quite lost in it. I explore, then.
  • I learn constantly about American culture, just by watching the way this language expresses things.
  • Idioms are different, and each time it’s like finding a jewel.
  • It’s probably an exercise for “one day write in French”, with new eyes and muscles-of-the-brain gained from writing in another language.
  • It can also be a way to voluntarily lose bad habits in my own language.

 

Beautiful books are always written in a sort of foreign language, said Marcel Proust. That’s a great seed for the mind, don’t you think? It’s about style. When I’ll “write back” in French, I’m sure I’ll be richer, then, because of my English exploration years…

Merci!

 

An American Z Traveling Fantasy

I’m French, and I’d like to visit the USA – noooo not the Route 66, come on : everybody goes there, thus I don’t and won’t.

Then I had the idea to cross is from San Francisco to New York : Interstate 80, but a friend of mine told me that I will miss the South (oh Faulkner) so much that it would be stupid.

So I’d like to make a Z.

1 From New York to Houston, Richmond, Atlanta and Nouvelle-Orléans.

2 From Houston Texas to North, crossing this “pile” of States : Oklahoma Kansas then, well, Iowa & Minnesota.

3 North Dakota to Salt Lake City and San Francisco

Maybe I’d like to add a SLC to Seattle then South to Frisco?…

What do you think?

 

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