I took this photograph last Friday:
Two days later, on Sunday morning, I took this one:
It’s been that kind of month. Since the start of the year, I’ve traveled for work to Indianapolis, Salt Lake City, Suffern (New York), Grand Cayman and Green Bay. The ship photo is obviously in the Caymans, and the subzero temperature photo is equally obviously in Green Bay. Between now and mid-April, I will also be traveling to Ames (Iowa), Sandusky (Ohio), Knoxville (Tennessee), Annapolis (Maryland), Atlantic City (New Jersey), Philadelphia, Great Barrington (Massachusetts) and Minneapolis.
Needless to say, it was nice to have that warm spell in the Caribbean in the midst of that spread of wintry destinations. Also needless to say, all of that travel time has precluded me writing much here, though I am at work on my Story of the Month for February, with goal of having it up here later this week. The four random seed words for the story were: chef, peepshow, creepy, and volcanic. The narrative that links those four together is going to be interesting . . .
Wing Seat Warrior . . . Deploy!
Marcia and I moved to Iowa a little over four years ago, at the peak of 2012’s caucus season. Within a month of our arrival, Marcia was interviewed and quoted in an internationally-syndicated Reuters article, after we attended a candidate rally on a whim. So we learned first hand that it’s easy to have your say in public when you live in a small state with a vast media enterprise descending upon you.
Marcia’s quote in the Reuters interview was thoughtful and balanced, but that’s not the norm, frankly, especially in hotly contested races like those unfolding now. A lot of the quotes coming out of Iowa lack balance as voters and campaign flacks attempt to sway others to their cause, and many other quotes coming out of Iowa lack thought because politics is primarily a gut sport in many areas of the State, like football, or deer hunting. Reaction and reflex matter more than deliberation and discourse, especially under the media’s unrelenting kleig lights — which many thoughtful voters are repelled by, even as they draw the most reactive voters into their beams.
By the time I left Iowa, I reached the conclusion that the caucuses are bad for America. That being said, were I still in the State, I would be participating tonight, because I consider voting to be a civic responsibility of all citizens, regardless of how I feel about the process. Marcia (who still works out of Iowa and has maintained residency there) and Katelin (who lives and works there full time) are planning to caucus tonight, so I hope they enjoy the evening and I look forward to hearing about it from them. The media army in Des Moines is largely based in the same building where Katelin works, so she’s getting to really see it all up close and personal. That’s an experience, if nothing else.
I wrote a lot about Iowa while I was there, with many of my pieces being tongue-in-cheek explorations into some of the State’s unique cultural habits and history. One of those articles — Iowa Geography: An Introduction — has recently gotten a bit of renewed online traction after Molly Ball of The Atlantic re-tweeted it a couple of time for her followers.
So in a spirit of helpfulness to those of you who may be either wondering a bit about, or wandering about a bit, of Iowa today, here are a few other articles that may help you get what’s going on, and why:
Iowa History 101
Why Iowa First?
Danny Allamakee’s Iowanfero (Cliff Notes Version)
Best Iowa Films
Universal Iowa Recipe
Des Moinsk, Iowaberia
Iowa Ranking Roundup
Popular Iowa Cocktails
Popular Iowa Wines
Great Iowa Novels
Great Iowa Music
The Iowa Decathlon