Tulip Festival 2008

Jodi, as always, does a much better job of keeping up with periodic blog posts about things going on in our lives. She posted pretty quickly about our trip last weekend up to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, including some adorable pictures of Gabriel. Yes, I’m biased, but I do think the photos are adorable enough to warrant a second post.

See the rest of the photos in this Flickr set.

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Restaurant Experience – Bluwater Leschi

Normally I’m pretty sanguine about my restaurant experiences. If they’re good, they’re good but I’m not gushy. If they’re lousy, I gripe a bit with Jodi. Today I’m going one step further and blogging my thoughts, since it was just so unexpected.

Let’s start with the good: They sent us a $20 gift certificate as an enticement to come in. They probably dropped them from the sky as an advertisement, so it wasn’t a personal invitation, per se. I forget when or how we got it.. In any case, a $20 headstart on a nice dinner is always appreciated. Even though the place is not so far from our house (about 2 miles, maybe), we’d never been there before and having the GC was a key factor in our deciding to try it last night. Score for the Bluwater marketing folks.

The location was great, right down on Lake Washington in Leschi. We got a window table with a great view of the water, Bellevue on the other side of the lake, and mountains behind. Yesterday the weather was spectacular (at least into the upper 70s, I’m told by Jodi it may even have been into the mid 80s! — and sunny and gorgeous).

Even the food was great. Great selection on the menu, and what we ordered in the end was wonderful.

So, why the blog post that is very clearly going to skew negative? Because we were very disappointed with the experience. Because it was *SOOOOO Slow* and we consistently felt like we were being ignored.

We arrived for our reservation at 6:30pm and didn’t get done until 9:30+ pm! Seriously. And all we had were bread/salads, entrees, and dessert. Nothing special. Just after each course, we sat waiting at our table for 20+ minutes for the waitress to notice and come back to clear our dishes and move us to the next stage. I’m not quite sure what it was about our table or our meal, but we watched as other patrons came and left — for instance, the table right next to us (also our waitress) turned over twice starting after we arrived and ending before we finished. More than twice as fast, and both parties seemed to have eaten full meals from my vantage point. It made even LESS sense for our waitress to continue to be so slow as the restaurant cleared out (we were there early, and we were among the last out).

We weren’t in a significant hurry, thank goodness (no specific plans after dinner), so we kept ourselves occupied by talking as we waited and tried not to let the delay bother us too much. But eventually it just got to be too much.

Sounds pretty tame, right? Why even write the blog post, Evan…? Well, let me give you a specific example of how the service went last night that should strike you as pretty awful.

Timeline – we’ve just finished our dinner. Probably it’s about 8:00 by this time (90 minutes to order and eat). We wait about 15 minutes before our waitress comes by and delivers the dessert menu. It’s about 10 minutes before she comes back to take our dessert order. Another 10 minutes before it arrives. Perhaps 15 minutes to eat it. Then it gets fun. We’re now done with the dessert, very obviously. By this point we’re both so tired that I’m beginning to slump in my seat, tired and impatient with the slow service and just waiting for the bill.

So our waitress speeds by in a rush to somewhere and, in passing, asks “If (I) was tired“? To which I replied, dryly, “Very“. No reaction, and she sped on. We didn’t see her for another 15-20 minutes. And only then because I finally got up and asked another staff member if we were ever going to get our check. Seems like the waitress, or someone else on staff should have been more attentive to our timing and our progress!

So, in conclusion, let me say that the Bluwater Bistro in Leschi was really great. On paper. The gift certificate, the location, the menu. All great. But the service, at least for us and at least last night, was abysmal. Before the dinner started, I was pretty sure we’d go again since it was so great (location, menu). But after the dinner, I’m not at all sure we’ll be back, Which is a shame, after all the great work the marketing folks did to get us in the door.

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Happiness is…

A little boy who’s starting to break his flu/fever/cold cycle and is definitely feeling better this morning!

A 7:15am walk with the boy to Starbucks and then around the neighborhood.

The boy watching the cars and buses pass at the intersections as we waited for the light to change.

A crisp, drizzly Seattle morning… perfect for a walk.

The boy watching the the middle school kids arrive for their school day at Washington Middle School.

Getting back home in time for a great morning nap!

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Partial Credit at the University of Washington

Yesterday, Gabriel and I took a few hours in the afternoon to go walk around the UW campus. Well, actually it was more like 2 hours and 45 mins of this was for the bus-ride up and back.

Yes, that’s right.. the bus ride. I haven’t been taking the bus too much lately given my new work schedule — I keep G in the morning until Rachel arrives and come home later in the evening (making traffic a lot better and buses a lot less frequent). So, feeling a little bit guilty about the change, I decided to make use of the bus to get to the UW.

Riding the 48 bus north to UW on a Saturday wasn’t too bad. I felt a little awkward with him strapped in the stroller taking up part of the aisle, but he kept pretty busy watching the other passengers (particularly one fellow across the bus who was reading with great concentration).

Then we walked all around the UW for an hour or so and had a great time. It was kind of fun to walk around the core of campus with all the students swirling around us. G was enthralled watching the mass of students passing in every direction! I found it sort of funny too that of the only two (totally separate) conversations I was really able to overhear as we walked… both involved the speaker’s relief that they would qualify for “partial credit” on their project. Ah, mediocrity.

In any case, we finished up by hopping the southbound 48 bus from the NW end of campus. Strangely, this bus driver insisted that I take G out of the stroller. It seemed strange to me that he’d somehow be safer squirming around in my arms as I tried to keep the stroller from moving away (vs just remaining strapped into the 5-point restraint in the stroller so I only have to focus on keeping the stroller from moving). But, I’m sure there was some exam at Metro Transit Bus Driver school where you don’t even get partial credit for allowing the first option. πŸ™‚

We made it home safely. Success!

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Caucus Photos

Jodi took some photos of the caucus proceedings, and had some photos taken of her and Gabriel — I’ve posted them to the Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/doddsfamily/sets/72157603888967247/

Here’s Little G at his first caucus!! πŸ™‚

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Here’s me leading the start of the caucus:

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Also, thanks to Adam Perry who took a bunch of photos and sent me the link to the tagged photos (also at Flickr): http://www.flickr.com/photos/industrialbarn/tags/caucus/

None in that batch with Gabriel, but they give a number of views of the process — especially the delegate selection process toward the end! Here’s one that shows some of the 173 people we crammed into the room and out into the hallway.

 37-1833 Caucus

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Washington State Democratic Caucuses

Wow. Just wow. Today we did the Washington State Democratic Caucuses. As my precinct’s PCO (Precinct Committee Officer), it was my responsibility to run the caucus for my precinct. I’d gone through some training on this a few weeks ago — and it largely consists of being able to follow directions and read from a script — so I wasn’t too worried about it.

At Washington Middle School, where we caucused, there were a total of 15 precincts doing their caucus, spread around the school. Since our area coordinator had been out of town until just a few days ago, I had been the one to do a site survey with the chair of the 37th democrats, standing in for her about a week ago. Rob and I had walked around the school, getting a feel for which parts we’d have available for our use.

We had decided to start in the cafeteria — which could comfortably hold about 300-500 people. If we needed to overflow after the area-caucus greeting, we were going to spill into the library and possibly a couple of classrooms across from the library.

Now, I wasn’t at the caucus in 2004 (if for no other reason than I still lived in North Carolina at the time!), so I didn’t know what to expect. The rumor was that 2004 was “pretty big turnout” and we even expected to double it this time. But a room that could hold 300-400 people for the 15 precincts onsite was probably going to be fine.

Wow. Just wow. We were so wrong!

The turnout was… absolutely… spectacular. By the time the doors opened for “early setup” at 11:45am there were already about 30 people lingering outside. By 12:30, we’d already long-since passed 300-400 people collecting in the cafeteria. By the time our 1:00pm start time passed, the cafeteria was packed like sardines and spilled out in the hallway.

Our final count (and I’m doing this from memory, so perhaps I mix up some of the numbers) for the full site with 15 precincts: 1378. Yes. Thirteen hundred and seventy eight people.

37-1833 was the largest precinct in attendance, providing >12% of the total attendees at the site: 173 voters.

Thinking ahead, I had even staked claim to one of the “large” classrooms, expecting my 30 to maybe 50 people to show up. We (again, 173 people) ended up packed like sardines in the classroom, with people spilling out into the hallway. So — quick digression — if you ended up listening to me talk from out in the hallway, I apologize! I can confidently say as one of the planners of the caucus, the turnout was significantly bigger than even my wildest imagination!

In any event, even given the naturally chaotic nature of a caucus and the overwhelming crush of people, things still went off pretty effectively. We got through all the business, counted the votes, elected the delegates, etc. Good stuff.

As a quick datapoint, 37-1833 ended up splitting our 9 total delegates to 8 delegates for Obama and 1 delegate for Hillary. A pretty decisive victory for Obama!

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So many books

Wow. No book report posts since August. Ouch. Well, the good news is that I have a bunch to report on. Or the bad news. Your call. In any case, time is precious so I’ll keep them short.

  • Conservatives Without Conscience by John W. Dean – super good book. “Authoritarian followers” who are ready and willing to submit to the extreme right-wing leadership of the current Republican party and religious leaders. Very prescient. Very scary. 5/5 stars.
  • The Paris Option by Robert Ludlum and Gayle Lynds – Good clean fun, like most Ludlum books. But gone in an instant; no real long-term impact. 3/5 stars.
  • Conservatize me by John Moe – John tells us about his attempt to understand the conservative philosophy and lifestyle. Lightweight fun. Good Seattle references and makes very reasonable points. 4/5 stars.
  • One Percent Doctrine by Ron Suskind – I found this one hard to get into. Never got traction; finally aborted after 2 hours. First time I’ve ever done this. 1/5 stars.
  • Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman – Good. Very good. A particularly interesting and engaging discussion of how the Christian bible has “evolved” over the ages, both due to intentional manipulation and unintentional translation and scribe errors. 5/5 stars.
  • The Sigma Protocol by Robert Ludlum. This one was quite long, but definitely one of the better Ludlum books I’ve “read” lately. The Progeria connection was tenuous at best, and a number of the plot “twists” were appallingly obvious. But it was still fun. 4/5 stars.
  • American Fascists by Chris Hedges and Eunice Wong – I never quite got figured out “the voice” of the book since there was no introduction and it seemed more like an academic reference book than a readable non-fiction at times. That said, it made interesting points, and I finished it right as the Jonah Goldberg book was hitting the media circuit, so it made for some interesting perspective on those interviews. 3/5 stars.

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Another coincidence

I found this quite an interesting coincidence: On my drive home Monday night, I finished up “reading” (yes, listening to) “American Fascists“, a fairly interesting book.

But in particular, near the end of this book were quotes from “The Danger of American Fascism” — a article written by (then Vice President) Henry Wallace in the NYTimes in 1944. This caught my attention because the article was very prescient (sadly, both for the 1940s-50s, and perhaps even more so for today). I had actually intended to post some comment/link about this article as part of my (eventual) write-up of the book review.

So what’s the coincidence? Well, the VERY NEXT MORNING, Thom Hartmann opened up his show reading some of this very same article. I immediately recognized it. And I got quite a good chuckle at the coincidence of hearing this same text from two, completely separate sources within 24 hours.

Of course, the cynic in me might argue that this is just proof that I operate in an inbred intellectual space — where all (or at least many) of my sources have the same reaction to events of the day. The cynic in me is partially right, I suppose… we all generally surround ourselves with things we like and agree with. But, even with that acknowledgement, it’s still amazing that “the book I had just finished” happened to overlap so specifically in topic with “the lead-in to a specific guest Thom had on his show the following morning“.

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I’m here — sort of!

Contrary to my sister’s assertion and (coincidentally, I expect) my father’s admonition over the telephone just hours before C’s post went live, I do still blog. And even more importantly, I read other people’s blogs!

Yes, I realize it’s been since November that I’ve last posted. In fact, when I realized after Christmas that it’d been nearly 2 months, I actively decided to wait until it had actually been 2 full months before posting again (giving myself a bit of a breather). Well, today is the 16th of January, making it 2 months since my Barcelona post. So, with that break, I’ll try to post at least a bit more often. I’ve built up quite a queue of things to post about, and now it’s just about finding time.

So, what have we (or, at least I) been up to since November 16th? Tons!

  • G’s 4 month checkup in November
  • BG (MIL) and Tim visit for Thanksgiving
  • Went to an informational thing about the new penguin exhibit to be built at the zoo
  • Lots of holiday parties (MS-Exchange, Neurology, 37Dems, probably others I’m forgetting)
  • We had Neuro applicants (and a bunch of residents) over for an applicant dinner in December
  • Spent Xmas week in Texas: some in Houston, some in Austin — G got to meet lots of family
  • Went to “Caucus Training” to learn how to run my precinct caucus on Feb 9th
  • Filed our state and city Excise/B&O taxes for Rockhopper Papers
  • Prepared the W2/W3 year-end stuff for our nanny, Rachel
  • Spent just about every waking (and some non-waking) minute with G and J

So, as you can I’ve had lots of time for blogging and I’m just a lazy slacker. Catherine. Sheesh! πŸ™‚

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Leaving Barcelona

Well, my time in Barcelona is drawing to a close. “Time in Barcelona?!”, you may be thinking. And you should be! Because I have done a lousy, unreliable job of keeping my public up to date on what’s going on.

Well, since going back to work at the end of October, things have been pretty level. But then BAM all of a sudden I’m in Barcelona presenting at the IT Forum TechEd conference for a week. Not entirely unexpected (I’d bought my ticket back in September), but it still came up quite fast. So now I’ve spent nearly the week out of the country and away from J and the boy. It’ll be good to be back!

Sessions all went well, and I was able to do quite a bit of touring later in the week. Barcelona is a great city, and I’m really excited to bring J back here at some point!

Here are a couple of photos of things I saw, and the whole Barcelona 2007 Flickr set is public visibility so feel free to have a look at the rest of the photos as well.

 PB130024 PB140073 PB140068 PB140002

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