Paris is always a good idea. Audrey Hepburn
Should one avoid a place because it's associated with violence? And if if so, what's left? But before I look for those places that are left I've decided to revisit places I've been. (And note that I'm jumping over lots of history; this isn't comprehensive, just what comes to mind.)
I'll start with the most recent place, Bali. It's had a bombing or two recently, then prior to that battles between pro- and anti- communists, and then before that were occupations by the Japanese and before that the Dutch.
Spain. I passed through Madrid's Atocha station several times, a bomb target not long ago. I marveled at Picasso's Guernica (the fascist Franco) and read about the Inquisition.
I've ridden London's underground, which has been bombed. I've also been to Paris, Istanbul, and Nice, all sites of recent attacks. Of course there are reminders of the Nazis in much of Europe and of communist occupations in the east, such as Prague. And while in South America I saw monuments to the disappeared in Argentina and Chile. The list of places with a violent history just goes on and on.
As to the US, I lived in Boston (marathon bomber), Madison (UW bomber), and traveled to NYC (9/11) and DC (ditto).
And I can't forget Texas. Netflix recently reminded me of this act of violence when they dropped a movie about my high school friend Garth, his mom Madalyn, and his sister Robin. It's their story, most of it is in Austin, and it ends with their murders.
Also in Austin, but going back a bit, on 1 August 1966 I was with my family driving to the university when we found ourselves a mere car length from people crouching in fear of Charles Whitman's bullets raining down from the tower above. (We were shielded by a building.) A mass murder that dominated headlines at the time but now seems rather ho hum.
And, still in Texas, there was 22 November, 1963. My father was on his way home, stuck in Dallas traffic. A cool fall day, he had his windows down when he heard the distinct sounds of gunshots echo through downtown.
I'm thinking I shouldn't worry.
What is my point?
Tuesday was election day in BC. Canadian politics, of course, is such weak tea compared to the goings on down south that you've probably not heard about it. So today I'll explain and recap.
BC has three parties (with colors of green, orange, and blue) vying for control of the province, three parties so similar they'd all fit comfortably within the US Democratic party. The election started with a dissolution of the legislature. This was followed by several weeks of vigorous campaigning during which time the in-power party lavished the voters with gifts bought from a new-found pot of gold, a vote-buying attempt so blatant as to make this jaded American blush. Also during this time one of the opposition parties promised gifts from their expected-to-be-found pot of gold. Then last Tuesday we voted. Finally, the votes were counted and I volunteered to observe - scrutineer they call it - the vote count.
What did I observe, err, scrutineer? Well, I found ballot counting in BC to be a charmingly no-tech process. Each ballot is counted by hand by being placed into one of five piles, five being the number of candidates in the running. I know I mentioned three parties earlier, I should have said three major parties. As I watched the counting I couldn't help feeling appreciation for this process that lays the foundation for our system of governance. I also couldn't help thinking that this particular implementation wouldn't work in a jurisdiction with more than one contest on a ballot, such as California where my last ballot had over thirty contests.
And what are the results? At the moment it looks like no one got a majority, though we won't know for sure for something like ten or eleven days. It turns out not all votes get counted on election night and since the election was so close these uncounted votes could swing the election. And why such a delay? That is because BC allows a voter to cast a vote anywhere in the province but it has to be counted in their home precinct and the snail they use to move the ballots takes, um, a week to transit the province. Because mountains and snow I guess.
Whoever wins, BC won't change much. Both because of the closeness of the results and because the parties just aren't that different. Not that the differences aren't material - a forest here, a hydro dam there, an oil pipeline somewhere else - but because no one party seems to have all the answers. And none of them appear to be evil, like you-know-who.
Anyway, spring is here, the days are longer, the temperatures rising, and the flowers are popping out everywhere. I really like the color and details shown by this flower as it gradually unfurled its petals and opened to greet the sun.
Speaking in full frame terms, I feel that we 'sense' in 21 mm, we 'perceive' in 28 mm, we 'see' in 35-40 mm, we 'look at' in 50 mm, and we 'examine' in 75-90 mm. Jim Simmons
I guess I'm examining this flower since it was taken at 105 mm.
I'm listening to Madame Bovary, read by Juliet Stevenson. It's one of those books I picked up just because it's a classic, it's a story I feel I know without having read it. Lolita is another book like this, and boy was the book different from my imagining of the book.
Stevenson has a wonderful voice and, fortunately for me, she has recorded many audio books. Her Mrs Dalloway, for example, is a sublime listen. It feels like it's an examination of consciousness, like a lens pointed on a character, and as the story progresses the lens moves and re-focuses, all so fluidly, as it examines one character then slides over to examine another.
I do love this time of year, if only for the flowers. The very blue sage is my favorite, and it'll bloom until fall. The bright orange poppy, on the other hand, provides the briefest of shows. The fragile flowers quickly fall apart from the wind.