Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jingle Bell Run!

Last Sunday Tonja and I and a few friends took part in the 25th Annual Jingle Bell run. It's a 5k run that starts and finishes at Westlake Center in downtown Seattle. It was one of the more fun 5k's I've run.

The course (which has a few well placed subtle hills) runs through downtown and on to the I-5 express lanes. So, you get the fun and unique experience of running through a couple of tunnels and along the freeway. The best part of the run is that everyone wears little sleigh bells on their shoes or clothes. So, as you're running along in these huge packs of runners all you can hear is sleigh bells. It was quite a sound. In addition many of the runners and walkers are dressed up, which gives the entire event a very festive feel. We didn't take our camera, since it would of been difficult to run with, but here's a few pre race photos....


Tonja opted to wear her festive Santa jacket for the race.

I opted for function over style (although I do match the kitchen walls) and wasn't quite as festive with my attire. Just bright.

The start of the race. Can you see us? Actually, I did find myself in this photo. I'm a few people directly below the lamp post on the left. You can just barely see my green fleece if you look closely.
(photo credit: Seattle Times)

I found this photo online of me during the race. Two notes.
1. Apparently, I'm so relaxed I've nodded off for a nap.
2. Mrs. Claus is closing in fast behind me.
(photo credit: On The Edge photos)

A fun event for sure, that I'd happily run again. After our run, we took in the post race celebrations and free food give-a-ways, which included some very tasty Top Pot doughnuts. All in all a nice way to spend a chilly December morning.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Our Christmas Tree Hunt

Here's a few photos from our Christmas Tree excursion on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Christmas Trees in the shadow of a misty Mt. Si


Tonja and I and our 2009 Christmas tree in its natural habitat. This year's tree has kind of a big bottom...which we would really notice once we got it home.


There's no good way to cut down a Christmas Tree without getting a little dirty.


Jon and Tina consulting on best practices of saw use.


Jon and Tina work together flawlessly on their tree extraction

Two trees Bagged and Tagged

Tonja and Tina picking up some additional holiday decorations.

After a little effort (and some choice words) we got our tree back to our house and set up for decorating. Tonja hanging some candy canes. At this point I think these candy canes are 5 years old.

Finishing up decorating by putting our Christmas fairy on the top of the tree.


All finished. As I mentioned, it's a bit chunky on the lower areas for our small living room. We ended up having to take our coffee table out of the room. But, other than that, I think the tree looks great. Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Template

Sorry, I keep changing my blog template. I'm not quite happy with what blogger has to offer, but my HTML skills aren't quite up to doing it myself. I'll eventually find something I like.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I had this dream...

So, I had this strange dream...




Okay, obviously this wasn't really my dream. Basically, I started messing around with iMovie on our Mac and decided to see what I could come up with for a movie using available footage from our various trips. It's all a bunch of random footage from San Jose, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Las Vegas, London, Chicago, Lake Tahoe, and of course Seattle. I've always wanted to make a random dream sequence. Anyway, not really high production value, but it was fun.

The music is Collapsing at Your Doorstep by Air France.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ten Things Since My Last Post

Rather than post small postings every couple of days like normal people, I just seem to post big long ones every two weeks....Oh well...here's ten things.

10. Bar Update. Although, I've got the materials. I still haven't' quite finished building my bar. I'm also still searching craigslist for an appropriate freezer or refrigerator for my under counter kegerator. Damn, I'm good at procrastination.

9. Spokane. We drove to and from Spokane and I didn't get a speeding ticket. However, I had a minute of panic as a cop car came up behind us with lights and sirens as we crossed the I-90 bridge, only to pull over the car next too me. The way 2009 has been, I'm taking nothing for granted.

8. Speeding Ticket. Speaking of speeding tickets, in order to get my speeding ticket deferred and not reported on my insurance I must do the following:
1)Pay a court fee which just happens to be the price of my original speeding ticket.
2)Not receive another driving infraction for one year.
3)Take an online driving class.
4) Blind fold myself and jump a motorcyle through three flaming hoops with a hippo riding in the side car...okay, I made this one up.

And of course this raises a number of questions.
1)How much money does the state get from referring people to this driving school?

2)Can an online driving class make you a safer driver in just 4 hours? If so, every driver in the state of Washington should have to take this now. And every driver in the state of California should have to take it twice.

3) What kind of karma do I need to have to make it another year without a driving infraction? (I'll be taking bets on this. It's even odds at this point.) I went my first 14 years of driving without a speeding ticket. I feel like I might of used up all of my driving karma in those 14 years. Fair warning...if you get in a car with me during the next year, don't plan to get to your destination early or even on time for that matter.

At this point, I feel like I'm being punished for not having a car with cruise control...lets just move on.

7. Job Rescue Update: I'm still seeking to rescue that elusive job. People say it's tough looking for a job during the holidays. But, hell, it's been tough looking for a job all year, how much tougher can it be during the holidays? Are HR departments going to require additional skills like knowing all the words to Auld Lang Syne? (Speaking of that, why does no one under the age of 50 know the words to this song?) I say bring on the job hunt during the holidays. What's the worst that can happen?...I don't get a job?

6. Weather. The sun came out briefly last week and is out again today and supposed to be out again tomorrow. Never take this for granted.

Intermission. If you're still reading this long post, thank you. Feel free to take a break.

5. Beer Pong. I played beer pong for the second time in my life at our friend Jared's 30th B-day celebration. And predictably it ended the same way as the first time I played. I lost and ended up with a headache the next morning. Good thing we were too busy drinking microbrews in college to want to use them for beer pong.

4. Holiday beverages. I had my first brandy and egg nog of the season. And this year's Jubelale is very good.

3. Christmas Tree Hunt. Last Sunday, we headed up to a Christmas tree farm near the North Bend area and picked out our Christmas tree with our friends Jon and Tina. I always look forward to this activity. As there is just something cool about walking around a christmas tree farm, selecting your tree, cutting it down and tieing it to the roof of your car. I imagine it's somewhat like hunting, without all the blood and guts and stuff. I'll post some photos in a seperate post.

2. Husky Footbal Saturday. Apple Cup 2009.
We attended our 3rd game of this Husky football season. A few thoughts...

We opted to go old school and hit the Ave for a couple of pregame beers. We ended up at the College Inn, which has a sweet all you can eat Chili Feed before Husky games. (Insert bathroom humor joke of your choice here).

I'm glad we didn't tailgate. As we walked to the stadium, the parking lot outside of Husky Stadium that everyone tailgates in, looked like a war zone with 30 minutes til kick off. There were people falling over drunk, empties everywhere, friends carrying friends towards the stadium because they couldn't stand up (Leave no one behind). It was a little alarming. I blame the Cougs.

Speaking of the Cougars, Tonja came up with my new favorite (it's new to me at least) anti-WSU chant. WSBooooo!

As most of you know, the game was almost anti-climatic as the Huskies handed it to the Cougars 30 -0.

1. Thanksgiving. As previously mentioned we headed over to Spokane to be with our families for Thanksgiving. It's the first time in about four years, we've been able to be home with our families on Thanksgiving, so it was a great time with lots of eating and good company. In my mind, it reinforced our decision of why it was important for us to move back to the Northwest. It's great to be close to our families and friends. And I guess that is what I'm most thankful for in 2009. Oh and of course, Tonja. : )

And with that the Holiday Season begins...Happy Holidays to all!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Basement Bar

Okay, the squirrels have remained at the top of my blog for long enough. Let's just move on.

During the last week the weather around here has been wet and windy (although shockingly the sun is out this morning). That combined with the sun setting at 4:30 each afternoon, has kind of forced us inside. I've been expecting this. After all it's November in Seattle. But, it's this time a year, that the benefits of having a house with a basement are beginning to become clear.

Ever since we moved into this rental house, I've been attempting to get the basement set up to be a usable space. And by usable I mean a place to hang out, drink beer, play darts, work on small projects and generally not worry about making a mess.

As part of this master plan, the last time we were in Spokane I picked up some pieces of an old bar that my parents have been holding onto for about the last 40 years. My plan is to reassemble this bar and install my kegerator (which I also need to build) underneath the bar.

Several pieces of the bar have gone missing over the years. And the remaining pieces (which are mostly plywood)are in pretty rough shape. Basically, all that remains are two sides and the top. In theory, I could of just started from scratch and built a new one. But, I love the history of this and the fact that my parent's used to use this and that my uncle helped build it. So, I'm going about putting it back together.

The pieces of the bar were wrapped in newspaper. The newspaper dated back to 1982 and was from when we lived at Travis AFB in California. So, that was the last time the pieces of the bar had been unwrapped.

I wanted to keep this project fairly simple and inexpensive. So, I opted just to sand the remaining pieces of the bar and repaint them black as they were originally.


The three original pieces of the bar upside down, as I build a frame to attach the new front to.

After that, I needed to build a new front to the bar. I picked up a half piece of plywood from the home supply store and managed to get it to fit the front of the bar with minimal cutting. My original thought was just to paint it black. But, after thinking about it, I opted to try to class it up a little bit by wrapping the piece of plywood in vinyl.

This required a trip to Joann Fabrics. A few things about this craft/fabric store.
1. Speedy Customer Service is not there strong suit. The place is packed and they've got one check stand open.
2. A 30 year old guy who is not with his girlfriend/wife gets a lot of strange looks walking around a fabric store. Go figure. Granted, I was probably giving some of those same people strange looks, because I was stunned at some of the fabrics people were picking out.
3. They sell some sweet patterns of vinyl. This is good to know as I have eventual plans to recover some furniture.

Anyway, I managed to find a nice sparkly pattern that I thought would go with the red top of the bar and black sides. After being asked by several old ladies, what I was making (code for: what the hell are you doing here?), I finally made it out of the fabric store. Next time, Tonja's coming with me.

I've never done any type of upholstery work. So, I kept it simple and just wrapped the vinyl around the plywood and stapled it on. I thought about putting some padding between the vinyl and plywood, but ended up liking the flat look of the vinyl against the plywood without any padding.


As you can tell from the photo, I don't know what I'm doing. Getting the vinyl tight was interesting.

Decided the floor was a better option for stapling the vinyl to the plywood.

Anyway, I then screwed the new front to some 1 x 2's that I'd used to make a frame for the front. Everything fit surprising well.

Attaching the front of the bar...oh yeah, I also found time to hang my dart board, as you can see in the back.

Almost done...I was happy with the contrast in colors.


It's not quite done. As I plan to run a couple of pieces of trim along the front edges to cover up the plywood edges. And I need to add a shelf inside and figure out where the kegerator, beer lines and tap are going to run. I'll post more as the project moves along.

Right now, I'm headed outside...while the sun is still out....crap, it's gone.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Strange 10 Minutes

I feel kind of like an old lady posting about the weather and squirrels, but for about 10 minutes this morning mother nature didn't want to be ignored.

I'm at home. And I hear a scratching at our back door. It scared the crap out of me. I thought it might be the neighbor's cat, as she occasionally pays us a visit. Not exactly. I peak out through the window and see...

This guy and...


...this guy. And then they meet in the middle...


Well...um...that's awkward. I hope they know each other. And then about a minute later this happens...



And yes the video is sideways. Sorry I wasn't thinking when I was holding the camera. But, you get the point. So, basically this raises the question: Were the squirrels acting strange (seeking shelter on our covered back porch) because they knew the storm was coming? I'm not sure, but it was an odd ten minutes, that I couldn't ignore. And now I've got pictures of squirrels on my blog. Damn it. I'm gonna need to counteract this post with a good beer or sports posting...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

5th of November


Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of* no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd (or by God's mercy*)
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring. (Holla*)
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes_Night

Monday, November 2, 2009

I'll never learn.

Once again, I've managed to get stuck out in the rain. I wonder how many times I'll do this before I remember the weather changes every hour around here?

When I left the house a couple of hours ago to walk up to Greenwood, it was a beautiful sunny fall day. So, not only did I just wear a sweatshirt, but I tempted fate by actually taking the umbrella out of my bag.

And of course, over the last couple of hours the clouds have moved in and a misty rain has begun. I swear I didn't used to be this slow of a learner. Maybe this is why I'm still looking for a full time job?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fall Fun Day 2009

In a similar vain as our tendency to end up at random festivals and county fairs during the spring and summer, Tonja and I at some point five or six years ago started the tradition of our Fall Fun Day (yes, this is some-what cheesy, but fun). It usually involves a pumpkin patch and a corn maze or two. And this year, since it was our first time in two years not doing this down in sunny California, we threw in a drive around Skagit county to check out some of the fall colors. It was a fun day, even though for the first time that I can remember, it rained during our pumpkin patch visit, so we passed on the mud bath that would have been the corn maze. A few pictures.

Some Fall color. The trees were a little passed their peak of color, but still nice to see. We hadn't seen as much fall color down in California the last two years, as the leaves kind of just turn brown and then fall off at some point around Thanksgiving.

A reminder that winter is just around the corner.


Tonja managed to bag a nice looking pumpkin.


This pumpkin was a fighter and took some time to reel in, but I showed it.

A note on the umbrellas...so, I realize we kind of look like idiots or city slickers or californians or something standing out in a pumpkin patch with umbrellas, but first, let me assure you it was raining pretty hard and we wanted to not get the camera all wet. Second, we're still trying to adjust to being back in the Northwest. We've forgotten that you need to take a rain jacket everywhere that you go here, even if the sun is shining when you leave home. Don't worry, it's all coming back to us. By November, our webbed feet will be fully developed.

For some reason we end up at petting zoos a lot...the pumpkin patch we visited had one, so just what this blog needed...more farm animal pictures!


Three strips of pig.


This goat was actually very talkative.


I'm not even sure what to say about this guy.

Black sheep of the family....ha ha h...I know, not funny.


And if pumpkins, farm animals and fall foliage wasn't enough, we topped the day off by baking an apple pie. Tonja made the crust from scratch and I made the filling from some apples we picked up in Green Bluff a couple weeks back, so yes Tonja did most of the work. But, it turned out really well for our first apple pie.


What? You don't photograph everything you bake or cook?




Husky Football Saturday: October 24, 2009



We attended the second of our four Husky football games this past Saturday. And as I had expected it was a far cry from the excitement of our first game against USC, as the Ducks (boo) seemed to have all the answers in a 43-19 victory over the Huskies. I still enjoyed being at the game, the atmosphere of college football can't be beat, but it was a tough game to watch. Not to mention, Oregon (boo) fans seem just as obnoxious as ever.

In case you needed proof this was a rivalry game, someone took the time to buy a bunch of tiny rubber ducks (as in Oregon Ducks [boo]) and drop them in all the urinals of Husky Stadium. Pretty funny.

But, I'm going to take the blame for this loss. I think it came down to one reason and one reason only. Pre-game preparation. Unlike the USC game, Tonja and I failed to have pre-game beers on the Ave. Instead we had pre-game sub sandwiches and cokes. Clearly the change in our pre-game routine was the game changer. So, I can assure you that for our next game (November 28 vs WSU, Apple Cup), we will be partaking in pre-game beers at Big Time Brewery.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sonicsgate

So, I had to post a link to this film. It's free to watch. It's about the Seattle SuperSonics. Or more directly the events leading up to their departure from Seattle to OKC.  No matter your opinion on it or your opinion on modern day pro sports, it's an interesting movie. Although, I'll admit the movie is somewhat biased.  But, here's the trailer:


Preview from sonicsgate on Vimeo.

Full movie here: Sonicsgate.org

For me, it was frustrating as all hell to watch. I've been a Seattle sports fan since elementary school. For whatever reason, The Sonics were even more of an obsession for me, perhaps because basketball was a sport I loved to play, or because the Sonics of the early to mid 90's were so good. Either way, between those early impressions and having the opportunity to intern and then work full time at the Sonics as my first job out of college, it's really frustrating that this team and it's 41 years of history have been taken out of the Northwest.

I like what this film is trying to do, by preserving the history of the team, and by trying to make people aware of the reasons the team left. And perhaps hold someone accountable. Its pretty remarkable how so much of this was mishandled by team owners and local politicians.

As much as I miss the Sonics, I won't support the return of another NBA team to Seattle. The first reason is because, the only way Seattle will get another team is by a team moving here from another city. And as Sherman Alexie points out in the movie, why would you want to put another city's sports fans, through what Seattles' just went through? And secondly and most importantly, I refuse to support the NBA. Why would I pay to see an NBA team, when they treated Seattle fans the way they did?

I guess this is just another example how the business and politics of modern day sports has taken so much of the joy out of the games. It's tough, because I still love sports and will continue to watch them. As I talked about in my UW vs USC post, it's truly exhilarating to be at a game where something magical happens and you can enjoy it with everybody else in the stadium or arena. There has and always will be an emotional connection between fans and their teams, it just a shame that so many people are looking to take advantage of that emotional connection for financial gain. At some point, something has  to give.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pet Posting

Smithers-September, 2009
Believe it or not, this is his happy to see you look.


I've read a few blog postings over the last couple of weeks discussing pets. This got me thinking about one cat in particular. The one and only, and amazingly still very much alive Smithers (Geez, I hope that doesn't jinx it).

Smithers was our pet cat in college. Imagine 10 guys and one cat living in a huge old house together. I'm not entirely sure how we ended up with Smithers, although I recall it required a house meeting or five to determine who and how we were going to take care of this cat. And there were a few idle threats about how this cat was going to end up homeless, and on the streets with a drug addiction, if we didn't step in. Even with that, looking back on it it, I'm surprised we agreed to it, considering during college most of us were barely managing to feed and take care of ourselves, yet alone taking care of a pet. The fact that we agreed to take money out of our bee....um....tuition funds for cat food and cat litter is impressive. But, it actually all worked out as Smithers became somewhat of a mascot for our house...and by mascot I mean he was pretty representative of our house, as he mostly sat around, slept, ate, bothered people at 2:oo in the morning and occasional tried to break stuff.


Smithers (and me) circa 2001. I'm not sure who is more hungover.


Smithers at his best was amazingly entertaining (Granted, we once had a cardboard box as a TV, so we were easily entertained) and at his worst shockingly dumb. Falling both into the entertaining and dumb category, Smithers had a nasty habit of climbing out the windows of the house and walking around on the roof. He once climbed out my third story (25 feet high?) bedroom window, walked around the edge of one of the eves of the roof (maybe a foot wide, and angled steeply) to the third story bathroom window. Realizing a return trip would be difficult, he sat outside the bathroom window and waited to be let in. Who knows how long he waited. But it was a bit of a surprise to encounter a cat sitting outside a closed window of the third floor.

He only ever actually fell off the roof once (that we know of). And fortunately that happened to be the roof of the front porch. One day, he went out on the porch roof and curled up in the rain gutter on the edge of the roof and went to sleep. Much to his surprise and ours, his weight caused the rain gutter to rip off the front of the house sending him falling 12 feet through a rose bush onto the ground. A few of us heard the racket and looked out the window just in time to see Smithers go falling past the window. Quite the site. He clawed the siding/window the whole way down. Amazingly he was unharmed. Which is good, because we couldn't of afforded a vet visit. A shot of whisky, maybe, but a vet visit, no.

In addition, there was the occasional report by various people of Smithers narrowly avoiding traffic on any of the numerous busy streets around our house. It's a good thing he only lived in Seattle for a couple of years. He wouldn't of survived much more.

As college ended, and each of us moved out of the house, we realized none of us was going to be able to take Smithers with us into our various new apartments or houses. The answer? The Russell Retirement Home for Lost, Confused, or Mildly Deformed Felines (No really, they have a Poloydactyl Cat.)..or in other words my parent's house. So after college, we took Smithers to Spokane (that was a long car ride) and for the last seven years, he's been well fed, comes and goes as he chooses, and is generally living the good life on an acre of land chasing mice, birds and climbing and falling out of trees. Believe it or not, every time I visit home and first see Smithers, he always acknowledges me with a meow or by running up to me. So, I guess that means he's not mad at us. And that in a nut shell is the story of Smithers, or as much as I can remember. And I can't believe I just wrote that much about a cat.



May, 2009-Smithers trying to look cute or like road kill? You decide.

May, 2009. Look carefully. Smithers in a tree.
I swear, about 30 seconds after this photo was taken, the branch he was standing on broke. My dad was standing under the tree and caught him. So, basically Smithers hasn't changed.



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nonsensical Mundane Posting

Have a cup of coffee first...then you can read this post.

I feel like I should be blogging more often, especially since I have some free time. But, to be honest there hasn't been much going on. At least nothing I consider entertaining or interesting enough to blog about. ( I don't want to bore people who are kind enough to take the time to read this) But, I gotta write about something. So, here's a cliche and mundane post.

The last two weekends we spent in Spokane. So nothing terribly exciting to report about our last couple of weekends. Not that seeing family isn't exciting. But the circumstances aren't great.

Well, on our way home last Sunday, we did have to take a 50 mile detour off of I-90 between Ritzville and Moses Lake due to a dust storm. Which was kind of strange. Because when the hell did Moses Lake start having dust storms? But, noting really surprises me any more.

So, with no crazy weekend adventures, this leaves my weekedays. But my unemployed weekdays are currently dry as toast. Looking something like this.

7AM:
Stumble out of bed just in time to see Tonja go to work

7:30AM:
Eat breakfast, read the news....curse the news. Shower.

8:30Am-12:30PM:
Job Search (& Rescue)

In this economy, I'm not just considering this a "job search". Due to the record number of lost jobs out there, I'm conducting a "job Search & rescue". I'm going to find one of those millions of lost jobs that we constantly hear about in the media. I'm going to rescue it and I'm going to bring it home and give it some warm milk and keep it as my own job. (I guess one could debate that finding a job actually rescues the job seeker, but I'm going to stick with my idea of rescuing a job, as it makes me feel more in control)

Currently, the "job search & rescue" involves any combination of internet searches, e-mailing, sending resumes, or calling former coworkers about current jobs or potential future jobs. Or contacting companies that at one point used to have jobs and may again have jobs in the future, but currently don't have jobs. However, they are happy to take my resume and burn it, shred it, line a catbox with it, or generally make it disappear into that void that all unsolicited resumes go into, especially in this economy. But fear not, I will find and rescue a job for myself. It will work out for both me and the lost job. Although, one of us may need therapy before it is all said and done.


Come on, lets form a posse, light some torches and go rescue some of those lost jobs...


12:30PM: Lunch

1:00 Pm: Consider drinking a beer.

1:05 PM: Don't drink a beer, but opt for another cup of coffee. (Coffee is an upper)


There is a reason I don't keep any of this close at hand.

1:30 PM: Waste an hour on the internet.

2:30 PM-5:30 PM: My afternoons are usually pretty open, they can involve leaving the house in an attempt to network with people in various networking groups, which may or not provide much networking help. Hence, I've concluded that networking with a bunch of unemployed people isn't necessarily the best type of networking. Only problem being, is that it's difficult networking with employed people, because for some reason they are always busy with their jobs. Go figure.

Other afternoon projects have included, unpacking the basement (yes, still unpacking over a month later), winterizing our house (applying that shrink fit film to our single pane windows, which is strangely exhilarating), brewing beer (just on Mondays, I mostly watch), exercising (okay, this isn't happening a lot), contemplating the meaning of life (happens a lot), or if in doubt posting a non sensical blog posting....

Hours of fun. Who knew?


I think 2009 has been my least productive year, since....since....um....well..........wait...............one of those lost jobs just ran past the window....I'm on it!


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just In Case Anyone was Wondering....


Oxford United FC is currently a top the standings of the Conference National. I've been passively following their progress from afar for about the last six or seven years.

Oxford has had a rough few years. They were relegated to "non-league" back in 2005-2006 and have yet to turn it around. This basically means they are playing five levels below the English Premier league. They haven't played in the Premier League since the 80's. If you're incredibly bored or unemployed you can read more about the English Football League system here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A First for Me...And Not a Good One.

We headed to Spokane early on Saturday morning. It was about 8:00 am and we're cruising about 20 miles west of Moses Lake. Tonja was napping and I was a little bleary eyed as I sipped on coffee and listened to NPR (some story about kosher meats, I kid not). I was quickly snapped out of my zone, by the dreaded and unmistakable image of a Washington State patrol car's flashing lights coming up behind me at a rate of knots.

Through the miracle of technology, here are the series of thoughts that went through my mind over the next 12 seconds as I'm pulling the car to the side of the road.

1. Crap (I look at my speedometer, I'm doing 80)
2. I wish I had cruise control
3. Crap
4. Maybe he's not after me (quickly realize he's 20 feet off my bumper and there's no other car's around)
5. Crap
6. This looks bad. We're driving in a car with California plates that have expired.
7. Crap
8. I look like hell. Good thing I'm not hungover, too.
9. ----what was I doing?...oh yeah...the flashing lights in my mirror...expired plates...pull car over
10. Where are the new Washington plates, that Tonja just bought for her car, but we've yet to install. I really hope they are in the car.
11. Sweet. They are on the backseat
12. What do I do with my hands...

I come to a stop. Between the time we've pulled over and the officer has walked to the car. Tonja has woken up and pulled the license plates out of the backseat, and pulled the registration and insurance out of the glove box. Meanwhile, I inexplicably take off my seat belt and I'm debating whether I should keep both my hands in site on the wheel or not. I'd be useless in an emergency. As you can probably tell, I've never been pulled over before. This would be my first speeding ticket.

So, as it turns out, once the officer sees we're street legal, he is actually pretty nice, at least as nice as one can be as he is issuing me a $144 speeding ticket for doing 82 in a 70. And lets me know that if I don't have any other violations, I can mitigate the ticket and it shouldn't end up on my record, if I don't get another one in the next year. So, that was that. My first speeding ticket. I was wide awake at this point and we continued to Spokane.

Moral of the story. Don't zone out while driving across Washington state, on a quiet freeway, on Saturday morning in a car with expired California plates.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Husky Football Saturday: September 19, 2009


Note: This is a sports posting...which means it may contain extreme emotions over a bunch of grown men playing a game that in the grand scheme of things doesn't really change much of anything other than it gives guys an excuse to talk to each other and feel good about something other than beer.

It's no secret that 2008 was a bad, bad year for Seattle sports. With the demise of the Sonics (RIP), The Mariners loosing 101 games, the Hawks only mustering 4 wins, the unimaginable scenario of the UW football team not winning a football game all season long...and most sadly, the senseless death of a Seattle sports icon Tuba Man.

It was brutal. Perhaps, I was lucky to be over 800 miles away from the carnage. But, I didn't really feel that way. After moving to San Jose, I realized that during my 9 previous years in Seattle, I'd started to take it for granted that I could go see any of my favorite teams play, pretty much whenever I wanted. And even though 2008 was a gut wrenching year to be a Seattle sports fan, with every loss and every bad piece of news that I heard dispatched from the Emerald city...it became more clear to me, that Seattle was where I wanted to be. I wanted to be in a place with other Seattle sports fans who knew how I felt. No one in my Bay Area office had a clue what it was like to see your favorite basketball team (and my first job) pick up and move away to the Dust bowl. The Stanford and Cal fans of the Bay, were okay (if not happy) about UW's football ineptness.

And although we still went to a lot of sporting events while living in the Bay (including UW play at Stanford in 07 and Cal in 08), I vowed that once we got back to Seattle, I wouldn't take my favorite teams (especially my alma mater) for granted (win or lose) and when possible we'd go support them. So, one of the first things we did upon realizing we were coming back to Seattle, was purchase a four game package of UW football tickets against USC, UO, WSU and Cal. No matter how what happened in 2009, I wanted to be at Montlake to cheer on my school.

So, on an overcast Saturday we headed to Husky Stadium for the first time in two years, to watch the Dawgs take on #3 ranked USC. We hopped a bus from Ballard and quickly found ourselves on the Ave surrounded by crowds of people in purple and gold. (Sidenote: I think the average age of people in the U-district jumps from about 20 to 45 on football Saturdays. It was the first time I've felt young walking the Ave since I was a freshman in college.)

With UW breaking there 15 game losing streak the previous week against Idaho, there was a noticeable sense of optimism heading into this game. And I was ready to buy into it. We stopped by Big Time Brewery for a couple of beers before the game (Come on, it was 11am). And then headed to the game. It was great walking through campus to the Stadium. I think it had been about four years since I'd last walked across campus. But, it brought back a lot of good memories.

As the game started, we received a reality check, as USC went up 10 to zero early in the game. It made me start thinking about the last game few games I'd attended at Husky stadium since graduating and before moving to San Jose, most of them had been UW losses. But, regardless the excitement still remained. UW responded with a touchdown and a field goal. And some how the game was tied at halftime. As the 2nd quarter ended some darker rain clouds moved over the stadium and a slight rain began. I think at any other venue in the country, I would have taken this as a bad omen. But, not here in Seattle. This was going to be a cleansing rain.

The second half began with a nervous energy in the air. Like so many other times over the last six or seven years, there was somewhat of an expectation that UW was going to do something to screw this up. That at some point USC's powerhouse offense would come alive and take advantage of UW's young defense and blow the game wide open. But, you know what? That never happened. I'm not sure how or why, but a combination of outstanding UW defensive plays and bone head penalties by the USC offense kept the game tied up all through the 3rd.

As we headed to the 4th quarter with the score knotted at 10, I took a picture of the scoreboard. I wanted proof, that for at least three quarters UW could hang with the best (even if the best had some injuries).

Not to be a pessimist, but I feared this was going to be the high point of the game.

To be honest, the 4th quarter is a bit of a blur. I developed tunnel vision and pretty much blocked everything except what was happening on that field. But, I can honestly say I have never enjoyed a quarter of football or any other sporting event more. The drama was amazing. I hung on every play. I could feel my head spinning with excitement and adrenaline (And yes, I think Tonja thought I was going to pass out at one point). The stadium roared with life each time the Husky defense was facing a must needed stop. And then when UW was on offense, a silence would fall over the stadium right before the ball was snapped. It was amazing. And when it was all said and done and the Huskies hit that field goal to claim a 16-13 victory...not to be to melodramatic, but it was stunning.

Just in case you hadn't heard...

The stadium erupted and I jumped up and down like a 9 year old, screaming and pumping my fist (once again, I'm not sure what Tonja was thinking.) And then after I calmed down, all we could do was take in the moment and watch as a purple blob of people took the field....

This purple blob came out of no where and sat on the field.

A great day.

And so that was our first Husky game of 2009. And my first home Husky game in two years. Needless to say, it was special and will be one that I remember for a very long time (more so, assuming UW can continue to play well and turn the football program around). After the game we headed to the College Inn for post game nachos and beer. A great way to end a great day.

Football...Nachos...
Beer...I think that covers it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hope, Change, and Beer


Hope and Change was all the rage during the early part of 2009...and while the hype seems to have died down on that for the most part (I think most people would settle for the guarantee of a steady paycheck at this point), we had the opportunity to crack into a little bottle of "Hope and Change" right after we moved into our house.

With the move away from San Jose, sadly came the demise of my beer fridge, since it was built into our last house. So, I opted to drink most of the beer (not in one night) before we moved, so we didn't have to worry about transporting it. However, I did hold onto a few special beers. One of which I wanted to share with friends once we got back to Seattle was a bottle of Obama Presidential Ale. The marketing folks at Half Moon Bay Brewing company in Half Moon Bay, CA basically just created commemorative packaging for their standard Amber Ale (which is a pretty good beer regardless). But, I figured it would be fun to share this bottle of beer with a couple of friends who wouldn't be offended by a left leaning beer...

So maybe hope and change will have to wait until next year...but we've always got beer

Once we get settled and I'm gainfully employed, I'll be looking into new options for beer storage, a subject I'm sure I'll be blogging a bit about.

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