50 Years of Jewels

Milestone birthdays inspire reflection. Especially when the milestone in question is 50 years, and Jewels are being reflected. This year, Jewels, the collection of three gemstone-themed ballets by George Balanchine, turns 50. I’ve been watching Pacific Northwest Ballet for nearly half that time – I fell in love with ballet at PNB’s Nutcracker in 1993. Continue reading

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Article 1 §4.1 on Elections and Districts

Democracy is hard, but it helps if you know what you’re doing. I want to be better at democracy so I’m studying the Constitution, and blogging what I learn.

The Constitution contains seven articles. I am reading Article One, which deals with the legislative branch of government and has 10 sections. Section One establishes a bicameral Congress and Section Two deals with the House of Representatives. Section Three deals with the Senate. Last week I read Clause 7, which placed limitations on impeachment. Today I am beginning Section Four. Continue reading

Rain Shadow

My friend has gone camping on Lopez Island every summer for nearly 20 years. She likes Lopez, because in the Pacific Northwest rain is always a possibility, but Lopez is in the rain shadow. In all those years, she never had always had good weather. A few years ago she invited me along.

American Dream Inversion

Nina Yoshida Nelsen and Hae Ji Chang in the world premiere of An American Dream. © Philip Newton c/o Seattle Opera

Seattle Opera is one of Seattle’s biggest, most “establishment” arts organizations, but they are appropriately progressive to our left-coast city, relative to other major opera companies around the country. American Dream is the perfect example. I’m a little late in talking about American Dream, since I attended the very last performance. I think it’s still worth talking about it, even though the performances are over, because it completely inverts the typical opera experience. Continue reading

Limiting Consequences, Constitution Article 1 §3.7

Democracy is hard, but it helps if you know what you’re doing. I want to be better at democracy so I’m studying the Constitution, and blogging what I learn.

When I was in college, I had a biology professor who often referred to experiments as ‘elegant.’ The elegant experiments were simply designed, but revealed profound results. Democracy is often referred to as an experiment. The democratic experiment is messy – scientists would say there’s a lot of noise in the data. But the design in the Constitution is elegant, and worthy of study.

After all, we must all be Constitutional scholars to get valid results.

Continue reading

Lopez Grocery

The San Juan Islands hold a special place in Northwest hearts. Idyllic islands not too far from the comforts of home, they seem to exist with an Instagram filter that blends nostalgia and progressiveness. The first time I went camping on Lopez Island, I turned down a little dirt driveway onto a farm that had posted a “Fresh Produce” sign by the street. Pulling up in front of a big barn, I couldn’t see any sign of recent habitation. But just inside I found these refrigerators, a table with a scale, a chalkboard listing the prices of everything available that day, and a cash box with a piggy bank slot for payment.

About Impeachment, Constitution Article 1 §3.6

Democracy is hard, but it helps if you know what you’re doing. I want to be better at democracy so I’m studying the Constitution, and blogging what I learn. I read through the entire Constitution on Memorial Day. It was a short read, and seemed simple. But it’s kind of dry and easy to skim over. So now I’m going back through and studying each clause to make sure I really get it.

Let me know if you think I don’t, or if you have insights I miss. After all, in a functioning democracy we should all be Constitutional scholars. Continue reading