Life as it Once Was: A Backwater Peninsula on Puget Sound

The Key Peninusula has been home to anarchists, millionaires, loggers, and poets. It remains the summer refuge for whatever the opposite of a snowbird is.

Is America Falling Behind?

Visiting our near neighbor reminds this on-edge American that it really doesn’t have to be this way.

Remembering: No Innocence

It’s not that there haven’t been murders, tragedies and hideous injustices in the past. There have. But were they so “normalized” as they seem now to be?

Joan Didion’s Hawaii

Unwavering eyes, like a microscope, the quintessential observer grabs you by the lapels and gives you a good hard shake. Reading her is like having a candle lit inside you.

Explaining Idaho: Growing Fast and Changing Politically

My North Idaho neighborhood is a tiny blue puddle in a sea of red. For all the talk (hope?) that the influx of newcomers would moderate the politics of Idaho, the opposite is the reality. The last Democrat to win an Idaho presidential election was Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Travel Tips from an Expat in Italy

"High on most people’s list are three cities: Rome, Venice, and Florence."

Five Reasons Why Idaho is Off my List of Travel Destinations for Now

The new laws concerning abortion, guns, book-banning, and vaccines will be bad for tourism, a key industry in Idaho, but most Idaho businesses have been silent.

Idaho’s Battle of the Republicans

Some are drawn to a “white homeland” movement which dreams of turning northern reaches of the Inland Northwest into a refuge from America’s growing diversity and multiculturalism.

Italian Diary: Coming Together In A Crisis

Our street market was cancelled but the fish truck still appears twice a week as it always did, attracting a village street cat that sits politely, awaiting its supper. People buy the freshly caught fish, but with a meter separation in between. The usual discussion of various fish ensues as always.

Rebate to Nowhere: British Columbia’s Feckless Fuel Folly

While governments put money in peoples’ hands, they tend to reach into taxpayers’ pockets.

Italy — The Music Returns

"The music is back. Audiences are eagerly returning."

Canadian “Freedom Convoy” Fizzles as Anti-Vaxers Sputter

In a strong political position, Trudeau has shown no truck for the caravan or the shivering protest.  He warned last week that a “small fringe minority” was manipulating the protest.

Italy: Fast Language, Slow Bureaucracy (and a Personal Challenge)

Perhaps the greatest challenge I’ve encountered is not linguistic or social, but physical.

Leaving it to the Kooks: Alberta Premier Abruptly Quits After Railing Against “Lunatics”

“What’s the easiest path for me?” Jason Kenney asked.  “Just to take a walk. I don’t need the job. I could go into the private sector, have my evenings, weekends off. I don’t say this stuff publicly, there are just kooky people generally."

BC Premier: Let’s “Get Back to Things We Love” as Province Relaxes COVID Rules

B.C. Premier John Horgan observed: “I absolutely understand the right of people to dissent to public policy. I come from a party of dissent.  I don’t recall at any time participating in anything that involved threats and intimidation to other citizens.”

Nicholas Kristof — The Next Governor of Oregon?

A columnist has only one boss, his editor, who can also stand between him and angry detractors. A governor—even a candidate for governor—is naked against the scorn. Even veterans of other offices are often surprised by how incredibly personal being a governor can be, and how lonely. 

Cats as Traffic-Calming Devices

No one wants to be blamed for harming a cat aleeping in the lane. Drivers really pay attention and watch the road. After four years, I know now all the cats by sight. I have not noticed any missing

Italian Lessons: Sociability versus Efficiency

I was given a prescription by the surgeon to address the recovery process. One day, there was a knock on the door, which I answered it in my pajamas and robe. It was the local pharmacist, asking if I needed any refills. I had never imagined a pharmacist making house calls.

Extreme Distancing: A One-Man Island

As the sole resident of Protection Island, the two-mile long bird refuge at the entrance to Discovery Bay, west of Port Townsend, Marty Bluewater has to be one of the best-distanced souls in Puget Sound country.

After the Virus: Rome without Tourists

I did not think it possible to go to Rome and not once hear English spoken. Yet, on a recent trip over several days,...

Italian Diary: View from a Cold December

Although there is a modest ant-vax movement in Italy, it doesn’t seem to feed itself on fantastical conspiracy theories about Bill Gates’ plans for world domination, 5G towers, and nefarious nanotechnologies. Since Italians appreciate their medical system, they trust their doctors to offer sound advice.

Canada: Battered by Climate Change and Growing Political Division

Canada is, at this moment, a stormy place. The Great White North is a physically battered country.

Dazed And Displaced: Portland’s Reckoning

We suffer, here in Portland, from the importance of being earnest. We have been defunding ourselves for years, not only in allocation of resources and poor policy and planning, but in believing that we were vision-keepers of a more humane, enduring, and green community.

“Drive-By Chalking”: The Sheep and Jackasses of Ferry County

The commissioners wanted motor bikes on the trail, which follows an old railroad bed. Crusty Commissioner Michael Blankenship described as “sheep” and “jackasses” advocates of a walking, jogging, and pedaling trail.

Comparing British and American Pandemic Politics

The British briefings on the pandemic come across as disciplined and professional with punctual timing, good clarity, reasonable brevity, and no impassioned hostility or displays of temperament. Certainly none of the speakers – even those suitably professionally qualified- would ever recommend to the public speculative but un-researched cures for the virus.

Report From The Front: Life In Italy During The Coronavirus [UPDATED 3.3.20]

As I check in with various friends and colleagues in different parts of Italy, it seems most are being cautious and careful, but there is little real hysteria. But online is going crazy.

“Lying Cow”? Breathtaking Misogyny and Political Malpractice in Australia

The coinciding scandals spurred massive March 4 Women protests that drew 110,000 into the streets of dozens of cities under the banner of “Enough is Enough.”

Beleaguered Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler Faces Recall

The recall movement, which claims to have close to 200 volunteers, began just last Friday, July 9, hours after city regulators approved the filing, and organizer have until September 6 to collect the necessary valid signatures.

Italian Diary: A Slowdown In New Cases

The effects of Covid-19 creeps closer even as the rate of new cases is declining.

Election Lessons from Portland

Portland, with 77 percent white population is one of the nation’s whitest cities, yet it will be majority-minority on the new city council. The city remains among the most liberal in terms of social policy, but the mayor’s victory plus this shift on the council may signal a police-reform agenda that would not be radical.