Tuesday, November 23, 2004
I took some time off before I start my new job at Microsoft, and Laura and I took a lovely wintertime trip while we had the opportunity. On our little trip, we drove from Seattle to Jasper, in Alberta, Canada, and stayed there for a couple nights. The town of Jasper is in the northern part of Jasper National Park, which connects to Banff National Park. A famously scenic road called the Icefield Parkway runs from Jasper in the north to the town of Banff at the south of the two parks.
Winter is a deep-discount time for the hotels in the area, so we stayed one night at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, a huge castle-like building on the outskirts of Banff, and another night at the Fairmont Lake Louise, which stands on the edge of the famous Lake Louise, which is supposedly one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Also, for a day, we went skiing at Sunshine Village, a cool resort that isn’t directly accessible by car; visitors park in a lower area and take a gondola to the resort village. The scenery is spectacular, and the snow was wonderfully dry, like the inland areas of the US. I was happy to find that my leg performed quite well; my snowboarding function seemed to be between 85 and 90%.
Right before the trip, I got myself a Canon 20D (that’s a camera) as an early Christmas present. I had a great time photographing the stunning scenery we saw; check out this collection of pictures from the trip.
As it turns out, November was a great time to visit Canada’s famous national parks; it’s the quietest time of the year, since it’s cold, but the ski season isn’t in full swing yet. As a result, hotel rooms were easy to book, and the towns weren’t mobbed with tourists, the way they are in the summer. We saw big-horned sheep and plenty of elk, and often we were the only car on the road. I recommend early-winter trips to Banff if you’re thinking of visiting the area, although of course the place is also breathtaking in the summer.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
I went jogging around Greenlake, in Seattle, with some friends today. This little exercise reminded me that I’m not really 100% healed yet; in addition to being generally out of shape, I found that I had trouble running for more than a few minutes at a time without my hip hurting. It’s just a sort of ache, but it looks like it will still be some time until I can start pretending that I was never clobbered by a car…
Thursday, November 11, 2004
I was discharged from physical therapy this morning. Woo hoo!
In truth, my right knee still bothers me a little; I have somehow developed tendonitis on the inner side of the knee where various muscles cross the knee assembly, but it has been getting better with time.
Aside from that, though, I can run, jump, hop, squat, and walk with very little trouble. I estimate my function at 90 - 95%. Wh00+.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
This site, run by Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman at the University of Michigan, shows some interesting cartograms that show a projection of the 2004 election map of the USA, with states or counties that are more populous taking up more area. Here is a cool example:
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
I went to see Death Cab for Cutie, a Seattle alt-rock band last night. After finishing their set, the crowd called them back for an encore. The singer came back on stage and said something like “leading up to the election, we toured to get out the vote, and met lots of very nice people… like this guy”. Then Eddie Vedder, of Pearl Jam fame, came up on stage and played a song with Death Cab. Everyone was wondering if it was really him. Then he wandered off. It was very random.
Friday, November 5, 2004
In Texas (of course), the State Board of Education, which is elected and currently contains 10 Republicans and 5 Democrats, recently asked textbook publishers to change various “asexual stealth phrases” in textbooks, such as ((gasp)) “individuals who marry”, which may ((horrors)) imply that people of the same sex could, in fact, marry. Republican board member Terri Leo explained that “I want the reader, the child to know that marriage is between a man and a woman”.
The Board of Education “is allowed to reject books only because of factual errors or failure to follow state-mandated curriculum”. I guess in light of the recent election, and the tide of state constitutional amendments against gay marriage sweeping the country, it’s time to recognize that it is now, in many parts of the country, state policy that gays be denied basic civil rights. God Bless America!
Thursday, November 4, 2004
Slate runs an article covering the world press’ reaction to the Bush re-election disaster. Selected portions:
The Mirror wasn’t the only British paper with a striking cover. The Guardian’s “G2″ section was fronted by a page of solid black containing just two small words: “Oh, God.”
The Independent’s editorial added: “This does not mean, however, that we do not contemplate the second Bush term with considerable trepidation. Another four years of a president in thrall to the religious right and the neo-conservatives is another four years in which the United States risks sliding back into an earlier age of bigotry and social injustice.”
Writing in the Times of London, Simon Jenkins’ condescending sigh of disappointment typified the genre:
Mr Bush’s election will give the rest of the world a collective heart attack. It expected a Kerry win. At the very least it expected Americans to somehow rein in a man it sees as naïve and dangerously belligerent. … Americans declined to rein him in. They legitimised him. The rest of the world has been roundly snubbed.
Wednesday, November 3, 2004
This is the greatest political calamity I have witnessed to date in my life.
This election’s outcome, this heartbreaking proof of a nation split more deeply and decisively than ever, it simply reinforces the feeling among much of the educated populace: It is a weirdly embarrassing time to be an American. It is jarring and oddly shattering and makes you rethink what it really means to be a part of this country. The answer: It doesn’t mean much at all. Not really. Not anymore.
This is the common wisdom on the progressive Left. Those first four toxic Bush years? A fluke. A phantasm. A stolen election. A gaff, a mugging, a crime. But this? An election this close makes you reconsider. Maybe, after all, we aren’t nearly as far along as we think. Maybe we’re not all that sophisticated or nuanced or respectable a nation as we sometimes dare to dream.
Maybe, in fact, we’re regressing, back to the days of guns and sexism and pre-emptive violence, of environmental abuse and no rights for women and a sincere hatred of gays and foreigners and minorities. Sound familiar? It should: it’s the modern GOP platform.
So then, to much of Europe, Russia, Asia, Canada, Mexico, the Middle East — to all those dozens of major world nations who want Bush out almost as much as the educated people of America, to you we can only say: We are so very, very sorry. We don’t know how it happened, either. For tens of millions of us, Bush is not our president and never will be. That’s how divisive. That’s how dangerous. That’s how very sad it has become.
Today is indeed an embarrassing time to be an American. I also apoligize to the world for whatever insanities this administration will wreak on it in the next four years.