Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Notes from the dark hole of despair

It is now raining, which is slowly turning the city into a patchwork of slush, ice and bare ground. Everyday there is a little bit more bare ground, but still not enough road is clear to go bicycling without studded tires (of course, as Tom justly pointed out, I am just weak; this crazy woman has no problem with a little ice and snow).

I have largely been an indoor creature lately, studying, vegetating in Jad’s condo, going to downtown bars (quite an adventuresome thing to do, at times), etc. I did restart running (I had been injured since October), but that is also indoors at this time and rather slow. With some luck, I might be able to go to the National Guard marathon trials in May. I even took up indoor birdwatching, looking at passing eagles, siskins, redpolls, chestnut-backed chickadees, Steller’s jays, magpies, and even a heron, through windows at the condo and the university. I took this picture of a Steller’s jay from the condo:

In the same mood of winter depression, we are now calling Jad’s condo “the dark hole of despair”. It really isn’t so bad, but I like it because I had been reading a lot of Kierkegaard when Ian came up with the name.

A few days ago, I did briefly go outside. Ian and I went out to the range to shoot a flak jacket (it stopped a .40 cal round – not bad), and start a fire by rubbing stick together. We had seen a guy do it on television (I know…) and it looked rather feasible, so we went out there and tried. It was simply impossible to find anything dry. Even the relatively dry wood we extracted from the rotting core of living trees (through opening between the roots) turned out to be too wet. Also, the bow just didn’t seem to work; it kept flipping the stick into Ian’s face or slipping and achieving nothing. We gave up.

A good thing that I did was vote in the primary elections for the first time. Primaries are complicated, and usually Alaska only has a symbolic role to play, but this year every state counts. In the American system, registering for a party is free and non-committing, and registered voters basically get to vote twice: one for nomination and once for president. Because we already know with 90% certainty that all Alaska votes will result in one Republican vote in the presidential elections, the primary votes are more important than the presidential votes – especially for Juneau democrats, because of the way that delegate numbers are assigned. So I registered, and went to vote at the primaries. The primaries were a crazy affair, with 1200 registered democrats showing up in spite of a cold, windy day with two feet of snow on the ground. Obama, the candidate I had turned up to vote for, got almost three-quarters of the democratic vote in Juneau (same as the state overall of 74%). That means there were about 900 of us there to vote for him. Polls for the primaries are an old-fashioned, simple, and emotional affair compared to the presidential elections.

Democracy at its best…

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