One reason I dislike Hotmail is because when you log out, you have to see MSN's horrible portal page with banalities such as "10 ways to tell if your man is cheating on you." This one, however, caught my eye: The Twenty Happiest and Most Depressed Cities in the U.S., as measured by antidepressant sales, suicide rates, and reported cases of depression.
Top on the happy list: Laredo, TX. What the heck!? I've been to Laredo. There's not much to be happy about other than that you're not in Nuevo Laredo, just across the border in Mexico. Maybe that is what they're happy about. Ditto for #2, El Paso. No matter how bad things get, you're not in Juarez! The rest of the list I could accept - some good, wholesome happy midwest towns - until I got to Fresno and Bakersfield, CA. Especially Bakersfield. If you haven't spent any time there, it's basically the armpit of California. It's hot, dusty, smelly, crime-ridden, all the boredom of a small town with all the problems of the big city. Stockton is #13 on the list, and it's essentially just like Bakersfield but improved by being within decent driving distance of Tahoe. Sacramento, #19, is better than the other California cities (except San Jose)...but we're still in the San Juaquin Valley, folks!
Anchorage seemed a little funny to be on the happy list, too. My impression was that depression-fueled alcoholism was rampant in Alaska. Perhaps just not in Anchorage. Still, I'd think there'd be enough SADS (Seasonal Affective Disorder Syndrome) to go around in the winter.
I expected Portland to be on the depressed list, but #20 seems kind of far back. Between weeks of rain and gloom in the winter, and hordes of depression-prone angry left-wing artist types, you'd expect a higher depression rate. I was a little surprised to see Kansas City on the sad list when Omaha is on the happy list - c'mon, at least ya got better BBQ in KC!
I just realized that this list is scewed because it only recognizes depression that people are doing something about by seeing a doctor, taking meds, or killing themselves! You won't pick up slight depression that goes untreated, or somebody who is so depressed they can't even bother to commit suicide! Or, for that matter, the folks in Anchorage who self-medicate with the help of Johnny Walker.
Okay, here's Sam's list of Sad/Happy Layovers, as decided by my impression of the general mood of the town:
Happy: Boise, ID; San Jose, CA; Sacramento, CA; Spokane, WA; Missoula, MT; Kalispell, MT; Calgary, AB; Victoria, BC; Santa Barbara, CA
Sad: Seattle, WA; Fresno, CA; Butte, MT; Helena, MT; Billings, MT; Edmonton, AB; Vancouver, BC; Klammath Falls, OR