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 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.

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.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Few Thoughts

A few observations after being back in Seattle for just shy of two weeks:

1) Apparently over the last two years of being in California, my wardrobe gained too much color. As I'm consistently wearing the brightest colored shirts in most public situations. Today, I'm wearing a red shirt.....I've yet to see another and it's almost 1:00.

2) Beer tastes better here. Maybe it's the water?

3) I'm not a tech guy, but you know that law (Moore's Law) which says something to the effect of that microprocessors will double their speed every 12 months or whatever. Well, somebody needs to write a similar law based on the number of coffee shops in Seattle. There was a crap load of them two years ago, but there seems to be a substantial amount more now. So, I'm guessing the number of coffee shops in Seattle doubles about every four years. Someone has to know the answer to this. And I'm not against this, but I'm curious how long it can be maintained.

4)Camping in the Northwest is still awesome...even in the rain.

5) The music is just soo good here. I missed it more than I realized.

6) Wow, it's nice to hang out with friends without getting on an airplane.

7) As of late, it seems like you have to get up early to see the sun. Is this new? Or had I forgotten?

8) My unmodified 1995 honda civic doesn't look out of place here.

9) I haven't seen a dog eat its own poop for two whole weeks. (sorry, but it's true)

10) And finally, speaking of dogs, I just watched someone order a grande, soy, no foam, decaf latte for their golden retriever.

It's great to be home.

Episode IV: A New Home

We're finally getting settled into our new rental house in Seattle. The house is located between Greenwood and Greenlake in North Seattle. I'm really digging its location so far, as it allows us to walk to a number of coffee shops in less than 10 minutes. There are also a number of pubs and restaurants within walking distance. And Greenlake is less than a half mile away, which should be a boost to my running ambitions, which are currently stuck in neutral.

I'll post some house photos in the coming days, once our home internet access is set up. Our current method for accessing the internet is causing me to drink copious amounts of coffee. Or if I say that differently and coherently...we have to go to coffee shops and use their wifi.

(and yes the title of this blog entry was a weak effort at some Star Wars humor)

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