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North Bay ranks high on Twitter happiness index

  • Molly and Jim Fiffer traveled from San Francisco to tour the Russian River, via Burke's Canoe Trips in Forestville, Saturday July 13, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

So, how are you feeling?

Happy? Contented, you say?

You're not alone, at least in Sonoma and Napa counties.

Statisticians at the University of Vermont recently took a look at a few thousand key words typed by Twitter users, sorting them by positive and negative association and looking at their concentration in 373 metropolitan areas nationwide.

The happiest people in the country, it turns out, are in the North Bay: the Santa Rosa area, which includes almost all of Sonoma County, ranked No. 6, while neighbor Napa ranked No. 1.

"People used the word 'beautiful' more often in Napa and they swore less," than in less happy cities, said lead author Lewis Mitchell, a post-doctoral research fellow at the university's Computational Story Lab.

The key happy words that characterized Sonoma County should come as no surprise: park, river, beach, lunch, coffee, wine.

"We're blessed," said Larry Laba, owner of Russian River Adventures when told of the survey findings. "We have awesome weather, great food, great wine, great outdoor recreation."

Geraldine Flatt, vice president of retail operations and human resources at the Gloria Ferrer winery, was also not surprised by the finding.

"We are the best place on earth," she said. "We're surrounded by green and the vineyards, we can touch the soil and smell the fresh air."

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