February 19, 2009

Oh, Canada

I got back from skiing in Banff a few weeks ago. For those of you who do not know, Banff is the Aspen of Canada. It is a few hours outside of Calgary, so I had a chance to spend some time in the city. There are some good things about Calgary, as well as some problems.

First of all, you haven’t met cold until you have been to Calgary in February. It was EIGHT degrees there... FAHRENHEIT! Freezing is 32 degrees and it was 8. It sounds so weird to say that it was “eight”. When someone asks you what the temperature is, and you respond by saying “eight”, the likely reaction you will get is “eight what?” Exactly! It’s such a ridiculous, ass-cold temperature that no one believes you when you say it. What does "eight" even feel like?? Can you live in that temperature? I mean, at some point you immediately die if you step outside into a certain level of cold, right? Like, if the air was 100 degrees below freezing (-68 degrees Fahrenheit), then I think you would immediately die, wouldn't you? Well, is “eight” all that much warmer? I found out first hand that you CAN survive in 8 degrees... but only barely. I’m not sure how the people who live there year round actually make it through the winter.

If you actually can withstand the bitter cold and make it out into the streets of downtown Calgary, you will soon notice that their street addresses are all messed up. Calgary had the good intention of building a grid of numbered streets and avenues (like in New York), but their common sense stops there. What do you think the addresses would be of buildings in Calgary that are located between 4th and 5th Street? The building addresses would be numbered somewhere between 400-499, right? Well, not in Calgary. The addresses between 4th and 5th Street are NOT 400-499... they are 500-599! The street addresses in Calgary are always 100 behind! So 415 Sixth Avenue is located between 3rd and 4th Street, not between 4th and 5th Street. How does this make any sense?? Believe me, when you are walking around outside in 8 degree weather, you definitely don't want to find out that you are a whole block off because some backward ass city planner couldn't fucking count correctly! How did this ever happen? Is every stupid city in Canada like this? Are there stupid cities in the U.S. like this??

In addition to the street addresses in Calgary being misnumbered, the country also has a fucked up ZIP code system. Have you ever mailed a letter to Canada? Holy shit, it’s awful. Here is a sample ZIP code in Calgary: “T2P 1N8”. What the fuck is that? Is that a license plate or a ZIP code? Do you really need to alternate between letters and numbers? Canada, your country isn't big enough to require THAT many different combinations of ZIP codes using both numbers and letters. We are perfectly fine in the U.S. with a FIVE-NUMBER ZIP code system (despite the fact that the U.S. has eight times the population of Canada, as well as eight times the habitable land mass), yet you're telling me that Canada requires a SIX-digit ALPHA-NUMERIC ZIP code system?? You're like one of those websites that requires you to set up your account with an eight-figure, alpha-numeric password with at least one lowercase and one capitalized letter... when all you want to do is leave a comment on a blog or something. It's totally annoying and unnecessary.

Canada, can’t you just shorten your ZIP codes and stick with either all letters or all numbers? Do you know how awkward it is to type a letter, then a number, then a letter, then a number...? Especially if you’re doing it on a Blackberry and need to hit the ALT key every other time. Ugh, that’s annoying. And what’s with the fucked up grouping in the ZIP code?... letter, number, letter... and then number, letter, number? Could you make it any more confusing?! I know you're trying to do an alternating pattern, but you do realize that the space in the middle intuitively fucks it up, right? So stupid. Oh, Canada... why?

But, despite its failure with addresses, Calgary was a surprisingly cool town. Despite only having one million residents and being landlocked near what feels like the Arctic Circle, it surprisingly young, hip, cool and trendy. The population in downtown Calgary is generally young and attractive. The girls have trendy haircuts and were fashionably dressed. Based on my visit, I would rank Calgary well above many major cities in the U.S., in terms of fashion and trendiness. Also, I could totally notice that I was no longer in America just based on the average weight of the Calgarian population. Everyone in Calgary seemed to be thin and fit, even the middle-aged people. While the population in Calgary would probably benefit from some extra fat to help them make it through the frigid winter, they all had attractive, thin bodies, especially the women. It was very noticeable, and it made me think to myself, “Jesus, what the hell ARE we Americans eating??... and how MUCH of it are we eating??” It's always shocking to go to a foreign country - you almost always notice the weight difference right away.

Canada has a free healthcare system, and they also have free Internet in the airport, which was nice. But I was shocked to see that The Onion and The Superficial were “blocked sites” by the Calgary Airport Authority. Really? Do these sites really need to be blocked on people’s personal laptops? Let's lighten up on the civil liberties, Calgary. Thank god The Minister of Common Sense was accessible! At least Canada still lets you look at some of the good stuff.

UPDATE: Oh my god... Calgary has CASINOS, too!! Just another reason why the city is cool!


  1. I do hate the Canadian zip codes, but I didn't know the streets had odd numbering. London also has a similar/weird zip code with letters and numbers, so it must be a Commonwealth country issue.

  2. i think chicago gets as cold as calgary, which is just plain nuts!! how can one live??