Its the fourth of July and I'm getting out of the States! Not that I can't enjoy the ultra-nationalism, parades and flag waving (in an ironic way), but two months doing point counts in Oregon was enough. It was no easy job, crawling through the "japanese prison" of wine maple and rhododendrons, stumpling down slopes of slippery debris, and bearing the brunt of a ultra-stressed Ph.D student. A steady diet of demoralization, getting banged up, bruised, waking at 3:30 am to count the old growth passerines in the HJ Andrews Experimental forest. It just goes to show you that not all field biologist jobs are a dream job. It had to happen sooner or later I suppose, as I've been lucky with amazing employers and amazing co-workers before. Some hot springs, treks to the coast weren't so bad though.
But wow, two months to really examine what it is to be an American vs. a Canadian. I had sort of idealized Americans, having lived in Sweden, where they were a delightfully chatty and interesting bunch, in comparison to the more humble Swedes. I had forgotton the otherside of the coin, that with the fanciful ambitions and mental plasticity comes those with mad individualism, unchecked and inconsiderate of others. Not everyone, of course, not by far, but there are definitely a high proportion to steer clear off and not work for (ask for references). In a slight but noticeable contrast, I'd say Canadians at least have politeness and humility as values, even aspects of "national character". You just can't get away with somethings.
On the other hand, I've been seeing a wonderful Californian girl. California, I'm been lectured, is another story unto itself, and why not, given its the population nearly of Canada and certainly more wealthy, productive and creative. Buts thats for another blog; now, its back up to the Arctic!