Go to a different part of the world and you begin - inevitably - to compare it with your own home.
I do that almost every January, when I travel to Boulder, Colo., for an annual conference of folks in my profession. Given the vagaries of the weather, I am not always wandering about in the vicinity.
Last year, it was dreadfully cold, and I spent most of my time in the area inside hotel conference rooms.
But this year was a marvel, an invitation to see the world from the perspective of Boulderites. One day I had time to hike around the city's parks. I walked up Mount Sanitas in a sleeveless shirt in 60-degree weather. I observed local wildlife.
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That includes rabbits and ravens. The latter was about the size of a small Chihuahua and made an absolutely terrific noise. It reminded me of my dad's snoring - raucous, outrageous and ear-splitting.
Did I mention Chihuahuas?
I didn't actually see any of those.
But on that one day's hike up the mountain, I did see golden retrievers, Australian shepherds, huskies, many limber, long-legged dogs, and a wide range of small, loud, and fuzzy dogs whose names I do not know.
There were so many dogs running about that I began wondering: What would happen if one compared the number of dogs in Boulder, per capita, to the number of trucks in Concord?
The first statistic was easy to find out. According to a website that features plenty of trivia about Boulder (www.bouldercoloradousa.com/about-boulder/trivia), the city is rather literally going to the dogs. Recent visitor counts to Boulder Mountain Parks found a ratio of one dog to every five visitors.
According to that statistic, my visit, which this year included my husband and son, increased the population of Boulder by three-fifths of a dog.
I could not, alas, discover the corresponding statistics necessary for my comparison where Concord and environs are concerned.
But I did stumble on some important news, albeit somewhat dated.
It appears that in 2010, Charlotte managed to become the "manliest city" in the nation. The relevant website (www.mars.com/global/press-center/press-list/news-releases) announced the fact.
It's true. There is a study that ranks 50 major metropolitan areas according to manly criteria.
These include the number of home improvement stores, steak houses, pickup trucks, and motorcycles per capita. "Charlotte, N.C.," according to the article, "now has chief bragging rights on manliness, thanks to its top 10 rankings in the sports, manly lifestyle, manly retail stores, manly occupations and salty snack sales categories."
Folks don't eat salty snacks in Boulder, by the way. People eat gluten-free. All of the people.
I extrapolated from those two sources of information, even though it is now 2012 and Charlotte - and, perhaps, its crown jewel of Concord (after all, the NASCAR stuff played a big role in the assessment) - has fallen to second place behind Nashville, Tenn., in the contest for the title of "manliest city."
My home is, perhaps, the very opposite of Boulder. Boulder is a city of folks who bicycle to work.
They exercise a lot there. No one is called a dog owner in Boulder. The appropriate title, a local resident informs me, is "animal caretaker."
People are dog owners in Concord. Many drink Cheerwine and go to manly sports events.
Everyone says "hey," not "hi." Folks eat Krispy Kreme donuts. We are home to the Cabarrus Creamery.
And we are an "All-American City."
Our greenway does feature dogs. But it mainly features human beings.
I am left with just one question. What is the ratio of trucks per capita in my home town?