A new survey based on Twitter use -- and actually filled with all sorts of math -- has ranked 373 American metropolitan areas in terms of how happy and sad residents are.
The study, by the Vermont Complex Systems Center, looked at more than 10 million geotagged tweets. It looked for "happy" words like rainbow, love, beauty, hope, wonderful and wine (are we sure they didn't mean "hippie" words?) and "sad" words like damn, boo, ugly, smoke, hate and lied. ("Smoke" is sad?)
The results? The happiest place in the whole USA is....the Napa Valley in California. The saddest is Beaumont, which probably doesn't surprise too many people who know of Beaumont but don't live in it.
And Houston? We come in with a not-so-respectable showing of being the 352nd-happiest city, which is pretty depressing.
How can we improve this dismal result? Easy: Invent a weather machine that makes our summer highs about 75 degrees.
Unfortunately, a project like that might be almost as expensive as light rail. We as a city have to be smarter about this, and that begins by studying your competition. Baby steps, people: Let's look at the towns or areas that finished in the five slots directly before us.
5. Anniston, AL What the website's Visitors section says: "Welcome to the City of Anniston. If you haven't enjoyed the azaleas on Quintard, an evening on Noble Street, a summer night to the sounds of frogs croaking and the Symphony at McClellan, you will find it here." Comment: Well, I have been looking for those damn frogs. Point, Anniston.
4. Fayetteville, NC Visitors: "Several box office hits have been filmed in North Carolina including Patch Adams, Dirty Dancing, and both Teenage Mutant Turtles I and II." Comment: Oh man, the sequel to Teenage Mutant Turtles? This is gonna be tougher than we th -- WAIT!! We had the sequel to Terms of Endearment!! Yeesss, they made one. No, really. They did. Actually, we forget what it was called.
No, Jack Nicholson wasn't in it. Nevertheless, point Houston!!! Hah!!!
3. Elmira, NY Visitors (for all of The Corning / Elmira Region of Western New York): "Watkins Glen State Park (left) at the foot of Seneca Lake holds one of the must beautiful chasms in this "gorge-eous" terrain." Comment:Hmmmm: Resorting to wordplay, eh? Well, Houston's air is "smog-tacular"! Point, Houston! We're rolling!
2. Rapid City, SD Visitors: "Visitors to Downtown Rapid City are greeted by the City of Presidents, a series of life-size bronze statues of our nation's past presidents along the city's streets and sidewalks. Whether you're enjoying Downtown shopping, dining or other attractions, you can enjoy these free sculptures." Comment: Life-size? Bah! We spit on lifesize!! Obviously Rapid City needs to familiarize itself with the subtle, haunting art of David Adickes' giant presidential faces:
Er, well, yes; you have a point. Advantage Rapid City.
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On to the tiebreaker!:
1. Tuscaloosa, AL Visitors: "Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports Commission would like to apologize regarding our site. We have experienced several technical difficulties that are beyond our control. We are working daily & diligently to update the site. Again, we apologize and appreciate your patience with the process." Comment: Ha! In Houston we know how to fix things!! Just ask the people in charge of the Astrodome. Or the crime lab.
Okay, okay, so we end up tied. Time to get to work on that weather machine. Hey, maybe we can use the Astrodome for it!