Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Apocalypse Now

This is Day 5 of Snow Storm 2008, otherwise known as the apocalypse. Mike's been trying to get into work but was only successful on Friday, and required assistance getting home because Seattle decided to cut bus service. Desi hasn't even tried to go to work because she's able to work from home. We walked to the grocery store a couple times for supplies, to Walgreen's for some jigsaw puzzles, and Game Crazy for an XBOX game. But, otherwise, we've stayed inside the house and just marvelled at the accumulating snow. We haven't seen snow like this since we moved to Seattle. Typically, if it snows in Seattle it only snows about an inch and then disappears within a few hours. But, this snow has been on the ground for over a week (12/13 was the first storm) with a few more snow storms on top of it. We've got more than 8 inches in our yard and we're expecting another storm tonight. Stores are running out of supplies because trucks aren't able to make deliveries and trash is piling up because trucks can't make collections. We're pretty sure this is the first sign of the apocalypse.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Two Year Plan: Step One

We have now registered for winter quarter at Seattle Central Community College. Classes begin on January 5th and continue through March. We're each taking two evening classes four days a week, from 6pm-8:30pm Monday through Thursday. Mike is taking painting and sociology and Desi is taking art appreciation and American government.

We're both really excited about going back to school. The schedule is going to be tough to coordinate with full time jobs but we feel prepared for the stress and sacrifices and it's only for a year, since we'll have accumulated enough credits by the end of December 2009 to apply for entry at University of Edinburgh.

We're also really excited about taking the first step in our grand plan. After almost a year of planning we're finally taking action towards our goal. This first quarter will be tough, but it'll be good practice for when Mike goes back to school full time in Scotland.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

And Then There Were Two

We knew when we got married that we wanted a dog. Desi had never had a dog before, so she was especially excited about expanding our family of two in this way. In September 2000 we found a 10-month old Yorkie that we fell in love with. We named her Meg and brought her home. On this past Monday night we dropped Meg off at her new home in West Jordan, UT. She'll be living with another Yorkie, Toby, two kids, a fenced backyard, and a mom that works from home.

After living with a dog for 8 years, and never really accepting the responsibilities of dog ownership, we've adapted to living without one rather quickly. While we're both happy to have our freedom we'll miss Meg terribly. But, we truly believe she'll be happier with her new family than she ever was with us.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Master Bedroom: Check

This past weekend we finished our bedroom renovation. It only took about two months and probably cost less than $1000. We are so happy with our work! We finally have a sanctuary in our little, messy home. Mike did all the woodwork, which is especially noteworthy because his tools and workspace were severely lacking. He had a miter box, a hand saw, a rotary saw, and worked either on the ground or with the wood suspended between two chairs. Quite extraordinary!
This marks the second completed room in our house (the first one was the bathroom). We're planning on taking a couple of months off and then hitting either half of the kitchen or doing the living room.

Friday, November 07, 2008

OBAMA!!!

We watched Senator Barack Obama become President-elect Barack Obama on November 4 on CNN from our couch in the front room of our tiny house in Seattle.

Throughout Seattle people crowded the streets in spontaneous celebration. Police closed both 1st Ave near Pike Place Market and Broadway on Capitol Hill due to the crowds. Unfortunately, there were no celebrations in our neighborhood and we weren't aware of the parties in Seattle until stories from coworkers the next morning. It would've been fun to be a part of that.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Las Vegas, Baby!

To celebrate Desi's half birthday we jumped on a plane to see Elton John's "The Red Piano" at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Elton John puts on a great show and this was definitely no exception. With a venue specifically designed for this show, the acoustics were amazing and there wasn't a bad seat in the house.

Our seats were the best we've had yet at one of Elton's concerts and Desi was very nearly able to touch Elton upon his stage entrances and exits. We were sitting within rows of audience members that did actually get to touch Elton, and kudos to Desi for restraining herself from hurdling over the few rows separating us from him.

The concert was definitely worthy of the trip but the entire vacation was a whole lot of fun. We have never really had any luck with our Vegas vacations. We usually get bored or wind up staying at the wrong hotel or try to do too many things but this time we did it right.

We arrived Monday afternoon and stayed until Thursday afternoon, which proved to be the perfect duration. We stayed at Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon, which is on The Strip sandwiched between Bally's and the Flamingo and across from Caesar's Palace. It's one of those $60/night places with $1 margaritas but shares the Flamingo's pool, one of the best in Vegas. And, even with Desi getting a migraine on Tuesday night, we had a great time and are already planning a return trip.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Black & Orange Ball

Last night we went to our first ball, the Black & Orange Ball supporting the Alliance for Education. This is one of Desi's new responsibilities at work. She is now supporting the program officer for the state of Washington and because their grantee portfolio is local they are expected to be present at local events. Desi will be invited to a lot of these in the future due to her new position but because this was our first one we were both quite excited by it's novelty.

The event was high profile and high living. Free drinks, four-course meal, almost live auction and live auction. Evening Magazine host John Curley was the auctioneer for the live auction. Desi had fun trying to win the trip to New York City to see The Lion King, but it wound up going to someone willing to spend just a bit more than we were.

We didn't leave the evening empty-handed, however. Each table had a hand blown glass centerpiece created by Seattle glass artist Dehanna Jones and we wound up walking away with the one on our table for $150. It's gorgeous and the first art piece we've ever bought and we're completely thrilled with it, especially since the proceeds are going towards a good cause.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Master Bedroom Status

Our bedroom is coming along nicely. We've got to finish sanding the joint compound and then we can prime, paint, and add the moldings.
We're also planning on stripping the paint from these doors (left: entrance from hallway, right: closet door) to return them to their original state. We believe these to be the original 1931 doors and we'd like to restore them. But, if we can't then we'll probably paint them the same color as the trim, which is going to be a nice cream. We've spoken to our neighbor, also a residential electrician, about rewiring our house room by room. He'll be sending a guy over some time next week to start with our master bedroom. He says it should cost less than $300 for the bedroom. He's also adding a "smokie" because we don't have one smoke detector in the house and, for some reason, he thinks we should be up to code.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Two Year Plan

On Thursday we met with Rebecca, the international student recruiter for the University of Edinburgh. We spoke for 30 minutes with her and she provided us with a lot of critical information that will inevitably help with us being accepted to the University of Edinburgh.

The good news: International students are basically guaranteed acceptance. According to Rebecca, UK and EU residents have government subsidized tuition. International students aren't eligible for government assistance and are responsible for the full tuition. Accordingly, international students are basically guaranteed acceptance if they meet a few basic requirements. They must have the equivalent of 1-year's worth of college credit, earned within the last 3-years, with at least a cumulative 3.0 GPA. Additionally, they should have a letter of reference from a professor, preferably within their chosen program.

The bad news: It is impossible for us to gain 1-year's worth of college credit before the application deadline for fall 2009. With this reality we decided we had to strategize our next move. Thus, the Two Year Plan was born.

We're going to begin taking classes at Seattle Central Community College as soon as possible. Fall quarter started 9/22, so it's possible we can't start until next quarter. Hopefully by September 2009, or at the very latest February 2010, we'll have enough college credit to meet the basic requirements necessary for acceptance at the University of Edinburgh for a fall 2010 start date. Meanwhile, Desi is going to continue to work at the foundation and Mike is going to continue working temp.

Desi has applied for another job within the foundation, located in Washington, DC. If she gets the job then the Two Year Plan will be carried out on the east coast. If she doesn't get the job, then we spend another 2-years in Seattle. Our goal remains Scotland, but we have to postpone what we had hoped would be a fall 2009 move to fall 2010. Meanwhile, we'll be accumulating college credit, saving money, paying off debt, and renovating our Seattle house. The additional time will be well spent.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Renovation Pictures

This is a picture of our solid wood walls. The squalor surrounding them would be 77-years of wallpaper and some type of very thin Masonite-type material. We were planning on removing the wallpaper, but once we decided that tearing the walls to the studs meant tearing down the walls, we decided to just leave as-is and apply drywall on top. The new plan means much less work and less chance of our house falling down. Another picture of the same thing but this one provides more context. Here are our hallway floors. We've been living with these for over 5-years because we just didn't have the energy to remove multiple layers of linoleum and asbestos tiles after doing it in all the other rooms, even though this was by far the smallest space. None of our hallway doors have closed entirely due to the difference in height between the rooms and the hallway. It took us about an hour to remove all the layers. All doors now close and the floor is down to the original hardwoods, just like the living room and master (right doorway). Had we only known this project was going to be so easy, we would've tackled it years ago. We're losers.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Our Walls Are Solid Wood

Yesterday, while trying to demo our existing master bedroom's walls, we discovered that under the 77-years of wallpaper layers there is only wood. Not lath boards, which is what we expected to find under the layers of wallpaper, but massive boards. No wonder our house has such good bones.

Change in plans, we're no longer tearing down our walls. We've decided to just apply thin drywall, probably 1/4", over them. That definitely makes the job both less messy as well as easier. YAY!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mission: Master Bedroom

We purchased some fantastic hardwood floors in 2006 that we have yet to install. They're currently piled up against walls in our small house, camouflaged as tables and shelves, and occasionally moved around when deemed an obstruction. We identify the purchase of those floors as our last attempt at renovating our 1931 Craftsman bungalow.

Yesterday, however, that vast 2-year desert of renovation inactivity may have ended. We moved everything out of our bedroom, relocating the bed into a storage room we call our Aluminum Room due to the corrugated aluminum roofing material we installed to hide the aging walls. The plan is to completely renovate the master bedroom, installing new drywall, floors, and moldings, to reinvigorate the tired space. By working on weeknights to keep our weekends free, this project suddenly seems both enjoyable as well as doable.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Bumbershoot, Never Again

Yesterday we went to Day 1 of Seattle's 3-day music festival, Bumbershoot, to see Neko Case, Lucinda Williams, and Beck. Two words: Never Again. Bumbershoot has increased their prices each year and this year it was a painful $35 for one day. Perhaps that doesn't sound like a lot to those of you having never attended the event before, but know that a short year or two ago the tickets were only $20, and before that they were only $12. For the increased ticket prices you get an enjoyable day spent in lines and maneuvering through crowds.

But, because there were at least 3 acts that we were excited about, we felt the $35 was a good price and we would just strategize to avoid the crowds as much as possible. However, in addition to being crowded, this year the festival was also poorly planned and designed. It took 20 minutes to get in when bags weren't even being searched and another 20 minutes to get to Neko Case's stage. Luckily, Lucinda Williams was playing on the same stage as Neko Case so we didn't have to do any navigating. Another positive was that free water was available in two different locations at this stage so we could fill up our water bottle at no cost, which was incredibly thoughtful and generous because other festivals typically charge at least $2 for water. But, that was the last good thing about the festival.

After Lucinda Williams and before Joe Bonamassa we wanted to grab a drink. In Seattle, beer and wine are only available in designated "beer gardens." We hit the beer garden a bit past the Joe Bonamassa stage but were surprised to find a line that reminded us of Disneyland and that wasn't moving since the beer garden had hit capacity. We wandered to the garden closest to our preferred stage and saw the same situation. Then we decided to bail on Joe Bonamassa and hit the garden next to the Estelle stage, who we wanted to see after Joe Bonamassa, but saw the same situation as twice previously.

By this time we were both so frustrated by the crowds that we decided to just bail on the entire festival and grab a cheaper drink off-grounds. Since we were still planning on returning for the Beck show that evening, we needed to get our hands stamped in order to re-enter. We quickly got our hands stamped but then found that we had to stand in line in order to exit. When we got to the front of the line we were told that we had to get our tickets stamped in addition to our hands, something the hand stamper didn't mention. So, we had to leave the line, get our tickets stamped, and get back into line.

By this time Desi was on the ledge. She was pushed off the ledge when one of the volunteers shouted to the crowd, "thanks for your patience." Desi turned on her and screamed, "NO patience!" At that point we both knew we would not be returning for the Beck concert. Bumbershoot has only gotten more crowded, more expensive, and less fun over the years. We will not be returning again.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

OBAMA!!!

Years from now we'll look back on Thursday, August 28, 2008 and remember that we watched Barack Obama accept the Democratic presidential nomination on our couch in our little house on Bradford in Seattle, WA. When people ask, "where were you," that's what we'll tell them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Congratulations, Old Friend!

We got news this weekend that one of Mike's old friends from Utah is getting married the weekend after Thanksgiving. Of course we plan on going, but this means we've got to change our fall vacation plans.

Rather than road-tripping to Salt Lake and Vegas in October, we're flying in/flying out of Vegas for a long weekend instead. We'll switch the road trip to Thanksgiving, incorporating Desi's uncle's place in Dallas, OR for Thanksgiving day and then heading to Salt Lake from there.

Perhaps we'll even get some snowboarding in on that trip? That would work out well.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Vegas, Here We Come

We're making arrangements now to complete another one of Desi's 30th Birthday Celebration Bonanza Year events. We're heading to Las Vegas, Nevada to see Elton John at Caesar's Palace. After much discussion, we've decided to make this into a road trip and incorporate a stop at our place in Salt Lake City.

We plan on selling our Acura sometime this month or early next, so we'll be renting a car for this trip. We'll leave Seattle on October 18, arriving in Salt Lake that evening. We'll head down to Vegas on Tuesday, October 21, stopping somewhere in southern Utah to do some hiking or biking. We haven't spent any time in southern Utah since we moved to Seattle, and Goblin Valley used to be one of our favorite spots, so we're really looking forward to that portion of the trip.

We plan on staying at Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon and buying tickets to Red Piano for Wednesday night, October 22. We usually get pretty bored in Vegas after a couple days, so we'll head back up to Salt Lake on Thursday, October 23. We'll spend Friday resting and then head back to Seattle on Saturday, October 25.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Goodbye, HBO

TV has always been a huge part of my life. I think of it as my onetime babysitter and the tool through which I learned everything from my social skills to my humor to my insignificance. I relish my pop culture knowledge and my ability to recall episodes of Cosby, Cheers, Married with Children, Family Ties, I Love Lucy, Newhart, The Andy Griffith Show, and many others. Without TV, I believe a huge part of who I am would be missing.

When we got married one of our first acts in establishing our new home was to have cable installed. I’d never had cable before and the ability to exponentially increase my TV channels made me giddy with anticipation. We spared no expense and went for the full spectrum of channels, including premium channels like Showtime and HBO.

Though we've lost most of the premium channels over the years, my one standard has always been HBO. With The Sopranos and Sex and the City, Entourage and Big Love, Flight of the Conchords and Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO has always been one of my favorite channels. But, this year is transforming into one of change for us. We’re reviewing everything from where we live to how we live and, after 9 years, we have decided to try living without HBO.

With the ability to stream shows online, the decision to cancel HBO was not as difficult as I had envisioned. Perhaps my anticipation of change is making me more open to it? After all, this may just be the first of many adjustments we make in the near future and, though there is a part of me that remembers the joy I felt the first time I held HBO in my hands, in my house, in Seattle, I’m truly beginning to enjoy this process of purging.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Happy Seafair

Yesterday was a really nice Saturday here in Seattle. Typically, we would have just stayed around the house, maybe we would have done some yard work or house cleaning or just watched movies all day. But, yesterday was also the first day of Seafair events on Lake Washington, which is just down the street from us. The noise from the air show and water show was making our little house unbearable. We had to get out. 

Since Seafair car traffic makes it impossible to maneuver and Seafair people traffic makes our usual walks unattractive we had to be creative. At about 4:30PM we decided to walk to the Olympic Sculpture Park, about 5 miles and 2 hours away.

We walked along Rainier to Dearborn, broke right and headed to the waterfront. We walked along the waterfront, like the tourists, grabbing some fish and chips at Ivar's, and picnicked on a hill overlooking Elliott Bay. Mike read while Desi played sudoku until about 7:30pm, at which time Desi led us to Noc Noc to enjoy their daily happy hour, which lasts until 9PM. Miller High Life tastes a lot better when it only costs $1/bottle and $2 appetizers can't be beat.

Around 9PM we decided it was best to catch the bus rather than attempt the 2 hour walk home. Our timing couldn't have been better. When we got off the bus, around 10PM, we caught the Seafair fireworks show on our walk from the bus stop to our place. It was awesome and a perfect way to end our day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Another Winter In Seattle

It looks like, at the very least, we'll be spending another winter in Seattle. News hit us this week that Desi wasn't going to be getting transferred anytime soon to Washington, DC. They want her out there, and we want to be out there, but things move slow and we're learning to adjust to their timeline instead of expecting them to adjust to ours.

Meanwhile, Mike is still working temp at a medical records job. He's planning on being there until August 1st at which time they can extend his contract or he could be reassigned. He's also looking into taking some art classes to strengthen his portfolio for the next round of college applications.

Additionally, we've finally started some renovations on our house. We sledgehammered the back sidewalk and turned it into a planting bed where we hope to grow vegetables and herbs. We're also putting up a side privacy fence and plan on turning the side yard into an extension of our back patio. We're really motivated now and look forward to turning our backyard into outdoor living space. We have such a nice yard, with grand old growth cedars, but we are never really out there to take advantage of the space. Hopefully, with these renovations that will change.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bike Riding

Last year I became a bike riding enthusiast. I started by participating in the Group Health Yakima Ridges bike ride in April 2007 with my friend, Duana. It was a scenic 25 miles along the Yakima River. I did it with a mountain bike and no prior long distance bike riding experience.

Afterwards, Mike bought me a new hybrid bike and I began riding my bike to work whenever possible. Columbia City to South Lake Union isn't terrible, though getting over Capitol Hill took a few weeks to get used to. Still, the ride only took 30-45 minutes and was rather pleasant.

The season ended in September with the Group Health Wine Country Trek, which was a 60 mile bike ride through the Yakima wine country, from Yakima to Prosser, incorporating a few vineyards along the way for shopping, eating, and resting. It was fantastic! I rode with Duana again as well as her husband, Jason. It took 8-9 hours, but it was a beautiful day and the wine was good and the country was amazing.

Unfortunately, I haven't really touched my bike since September last year. But, I woke up this morning determined that today was going to be a bike riding day. Seattle does this fantastic thing every summer where they close Lake Washington Blvd to car traffic two weekend days per month, allowing bikes to own the road (http://www.seattle.gov/PARKS/Athletics/bikesatsun.htm). Coincidentally, today happened to be the Saturday in July that the road was closed to car traffic.

It's fun to see everybody spread across the entire street enjoying the day on their bikes. I think it's one of the things that makes Seattle feel so small town. Needless to say, I had a very enjoyable ride this afternoon.

This year I've signed up for only one bike riding event. The Vela Bella Bike Ride is a ladies only ride through the beautiful Wenatchee National Forest near Lake Wenatchee (http://www.athleteslounge.com/events/event.php?eventid=2264). It takes place in August and Duana will be my riding partner again. I've never really spent any time in the Wenatchee National Forest. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Happy Anniversary

We are heading to the San Juan Islands this July 4th weekend to celebrate both our wedding anniversary (June 25th, 9-years) as well as the anniversary of the day we met (July 3rd, 11-years). We tried to get married on the day we met to consolidate holidays but, apparently, July 3rd is a very popular wedding date and the reception area we wanted was already booked.

We haven't really ever spent any time in the San Juans. We went to Friday Harbor once a few years ago but it was just a day trip and we went more for the ferry ride than we did to explore the islands. This time we've made reservations at the Blue Heron Bed & Breakfast on Orcas Island for 3 nights. We're bringing the car, our bikes, and Meg. We should get a lot of exploring in on this trip.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summer In Seattle

It appears that summer has finally arrived here in Seattle. We've had some nice days this year, but they've been few and far between. But, today we've got heat as well as blue skies and we're feeling optimistic that this indicates the beginning of our summer.

We've been enjoying afternoon walks along Lake Washington for the past few weeks. We've adjusted our work schedules so that we're home around 4PM during the week. Once home we walk down to the lake for good conversation and beautiful scenery.

We've found that we talk a lot more to each other on our walks than we do otherwise. When home, Desi is typically watching TV and Mike is usually on the computer. After our walks we fall back into the old routines, but at least we get a good couple hours of conversation in now.

We're heading to dinner tonight at Steelhead Diner and then a burlesque show at The Pink Door. We're celebrating our friend's birthday as well as our 9th wedding anniversary. We'll probably also use tonight to celebrate the start of summer in Seattle.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Good Luck, Sean!

Microsoft flew Desi's cousin-in-law, Sean, out to Seattle this week for a couple job interviews. We were able to join him for a drink at his hotel to celebrate the occasion. Good luck, Sean!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Move Is Likely, Though Probably Not Scotland This Year

Mike just received news today that the Fine Arts program at University of Edinburgh is full for this year. With that news, Mike and I are beginning to realize that starting school in Scotland this fall may be unrealistic.

In other news, my supervisor at work is resigning later this summer. With her imminent departure, I am beginning to investigate other opportunities for me within the foundation. This includes possibly relocating to Washington, DC. I've requested a meeting with our HR department for an exploratory conversation and Mike is researching art colleges in The District. I'm not sure of the odds, but from what I hear it's difficult to fill Program Assistant positions at our DC office. That type of recruiting environment can only help me. I'll know more after my conversation with HR.

Whether we stay in Seattle or relocate to Washington, DC our goal is still Scotland. The date has moved due to circumstances, but the goal is still intact. College applications for a fall 2009 start date will be accepted starting in September 2008. We should know in January 2009 whether Mike's application is successful.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Edinburgh

While in Mexico back in April we were inspired by a New Zealand couple to evaluate our life plan. Prior to our trip, we had abstract plans about where our life was headed but nothing concrete. This couple from New Zealand, on holiday for 3 months after living in London for 5 years and on their way to Sydney to start life again, inspired us to take a hard look at our life and goals. What we came up with was a desire to move abroad, specifically Scotland.

We got back from that trip to Mexico very motivated to make our move. After doing research into visas, we found that the only visa that would work for us would be a student visa. We started doing research into some schools and, along the way, we both fell in love with the idea of being students again. But, realistically, only one of us could be a student while the other supported both and we drew straws and Mike won. So, Mike applied to Edinburgh College of Arts and we waited.

Mike received notice yesterday that his application to ECA was unsuccessful due to capacity issues. Apparently, ECA reaches capacity during Round 1 applications and Mike was applying during Round 3. After a little sadness we brushed ourselves off and started to strategize our plan B.

Since the student visa is our only way in, we're going to still try for a fall 2008 start date. International students have until 6/30/2008 to apply, so Mike is sending an application to approximately 10 other art colleges, including a few traditional universities with fine art programs. If those schools are at capacity as well (highly unlikely for the traditional universities, I think) then there's always the Clearing.

If Mike hasn't been accepted by any school by 7/1 his applications are sent to Clearing, which will allow him to take a spot given to someone else who has either declined the offer or withdrawn after accepting. All this to say, even with this set back, we're still on track with our plan. We won't give up the fall 2008 date until 9/1, when most classes start. After 9/1 we'll focus on fall 2009, which would allow more time to plan and budget and maybe even visit (for the first time) the place we hope to live for the next 5 years. Some would say fall 2009 would be the more prudent/realistic/practical goal, but those people don't know us very well.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Kicking It In Utah

We're at our townhome in Salt Lake City this week. Desi is working from home and Mike is on vacation. So far, this visit has been one of the best.We've had plenty of time to both visit with family and friends as well as reacquaint ourselves with some tourist attractions, like Park City.  We've even had time to relax.

When visiting Salt Lake we typically drive, which we did this past Saturday. It takes us anywhere from 12-14 hours. We're here until Saturday morning when we'll be driving back.

The only family we didn't get to see this trip is Mike's oldest brother and his family. But, if our plans work out as we hope, we may be seeing him in September.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mom & Dad in Seattle

My parents came to visit me & Mike for a few days before we left for Washington DC. Mike & I took them to the Seattle Cheese Festival, which was a total disaster. Seattle is completely useless regarding crowd control and this festival was showcasing that ineptness. But, M & D seemed to have a pretty good time, so that's all that matters.
Mike & I also took them to a couple of good restaurants. They wanted to hit Salty's on Alki for good food but we took them to Ponti's instead. I find Salty's is nice if you want to impress people with a nice view and mediocre food. Ponti's also has a good view, if you can get seated on the balcony, but the food is always fantastic.

We also took them to the Elysian on Cappy Hill for fish & chips but were disappointed when we found out they no longer offer fish & chips. But, we still had a nice meal and Dad enjoyed the beer sampler.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Washington DC

We're in Washington, DC this week. This is Mike's first time in the District and Desi's second. Mike is joining Desi on another business trip.

We flew into National on Tuesday, took the Metro to Lafayette Square and checked into the Hotel Sofitel. Super nice hotel right next to the White House where they greet you in French and have good humor when you attempt to respond in kind.

After putting our stuff in our room, #312 overlooking the American Bar Association building, we immediately stopped at the hotel restaurant to grab something to eat. Afterwards, we walked over to the White House so Mike could check it out in person for the first time. It was very awesome!

Desi had business meetings all day Wednesday so Mike spent the day touring the monuments and memorials. His favorite was the FDR memorial which happens to also be Desi's.

Around 4:30pm we met up and moved to our new hotel, the Intown Uptown Inn Bed & Breakfast. We're staying in the Corleone room which is super cool. We don't really have any plans for the rest of our trip. Desi's done with work, so she's officially on vacation now. Some things we have on our list of things to do: Congressional Capitol Tour, National Portrait Gallery, Spy Museum, U Street neighborhood, and Smithsonian. We're in the District until Sunday, so we should have plenty of time to do everything on our short list.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Moving & Shaking

This evening I had the opportunity to meet a number of important people at a cocktail reception being held at McCaw Hall in the Seattle Center. My first opportunity was to meet Warren Buffett. I introduced myself to him and immediately recognized him to be an awesome person. This man is not only amazingly humble but also hilarious and a bit naughty. I enjoyed our short conversation over drinks.

My second opportunity was to meet Bill Gates. Unfortunately, I thought it would be rude to interrupt my conversation with Warren to introduce myself to Bill, so I missed my chance. He was standing next to me the whole time I was talking to Warren, though, which was cool.

I did, however, introduce myself to Melinda Gates, which did not go as smoothly as I had hoped. For those of you who know my Ted Kennedy story, this went slightly worse than that. I introduced myself and then proceeded to brag that my tickets to Elton John were better than her tickets. Why I thought this would be humorous for her to hear is beyond me, though it is funny for normal people that I happen to tell anecdotally. We then bonded on our mutual respect for YouthBuild USA schools and I believe I left no worse than I began, but I'll still spend more time than necessary reflecting on how poorly I handle myself in pivotal situations. Sadly, this is not a new revelation.

When I think of my interactions with people of this caliber I'm reminded of Bridget Jones introducing Mr. Fitzherbert at the launch party for "Kafka's Motorbike". Hilarious for everyone else, but terrible for her. I'll probably laugh about this tomorrow with coworkers, or at least hide my embarrassment behind my sarcasm and self-deprecating remarks.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

New York City

I'm in New York City for the weekend, killing time before my meeting in Philadelphia on Monday. I'm staying at the Hotel Newton on W 96th St & Broadway. It's right next to a subway station, so it's super convenient to everything. I've had the best time in the city today.

I took the red-eye from Seattle last night at 11:00pmPT and arrived at JFK this morning at 7:00amET. It was my first experience on a red-eye and I think I managed it rather well. I took the Long Island Railroad from JFK to Penn Station and then grabbed the subway to W 96th. It was very easy but it took me about 90 minutes. I dropped my suitcase off at the hotel before coming back at 2:00pm to check-in, when I rested until about 4:00pm.

The people in NYC are super nice. I've only encountered kind and generous people here. For example, a gentleman saw me struggling with my luggage up the subway stairs this morning and picked up my bag for me and carried it all the way up (and it was a long way) to street level. Also, no one is too busy to answer my stupid tourist questions. On the contrary, everyone I've stopped has responded kindly and then asked me where I'm from, which is super nice.

I spent this morning exploring the city and taking pictures and shopping and I spent this evening at Wicked, which is perhaps the best entertainment money I've ever spent. It was awesome! I bought a singles ticket this afternoon and wound up 4th row center orchestra. What amazing seats!

I haven't been to NYC for almost 10 years, so it's nice to be back. The last time I was here, which was also the first time, was on our honeymoon. We only spent one full day here, so it wasn't really any time at all. Of course, that's all the time I'm spending in NYC this trip, too. Hopefully we'll get back here soon for a longer trip. Perhaps next time my job sends me this way, I can extend the trip and Mike can join me, like what we're doing in Washington, DC later this month.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mike's Birthday

Yesterday was Mike's 32nd birthday. Desi made dinner reservations at Salty's on Alki to celebrate. The view was marvelous and Mike really enjoyed the meal.  After dinner we enjoyed a nice walk along the Alki shoreline.

Unfortunately, Desi having a horrible cold added another dimension to the celebration. Desi couldn't taste her meal at all and was having a hard time staying awake, probably due to the cold medicine she had taken earlier. Regardless, Mike enjoyed his birthday celebration and, even though she was miserable, Desi enjoyed it, too. 

Happy birthday Mike!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Back to Reality

We returned from Mexico red and tan, relaxed, happy and with many plans for the future. At the tail-end of our trip we met this wonderful couple from New Zealand that really inspired us in many ways. One of the inspirational moments was when they began discussing this fantastic hotel in Jamaica. They showed us the website and told us great stories, so we decided immediately that our next beach vacation was going to be to that hotel in Jamaica. Now, when that next vacation will occur is anybody's guess. But, if nothing else, it'll be where we conclude Desi's 30th birthday celebration bonanza year.

Right after returning from vacation in Mexico Desi had to travel to Alderbrook Resort in Hood Canal, WA for business. It was a nice, relaxing place to hold 4 days of meetings. Mike & Meg were able to join her on the second day, which was nice and helped ease the transition from vacation back to work.

Mike started his first temp assignment this past Tuesday. He gets to do mindless filing for a couple weeks, which is his dream job. He's finding out that the bar is pretty low for temp employees and he's having fun being continuously praised for having any skills whatsoever. It's constant comedy and he's really enjoying himself. Plus, the commute is about 3 minutes, which compares to his old commute of 45 minutes, so he's relishing that change, too.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!

Yesterday was the first day of my 30th Birthday Celebration Bonanza Year. My good friend, neighbor, and Costa Rica travel companion, Laura, took me for a mani/pedi at Julep in the U-District. We got to drink wine while getting pampered, which was awesome, and then Laura took me to Coupage in Madrona for dinner. I had the black cod and she had the beef yaki soba. We had beignets for dessert, but we eat dessert as the first course so we technically had it as an appetizer. Dinner was really good, too, for a neighborhood restaurant. We both agreed that we liked Coupage more than La Medusa, which is it's counterpart in Columbia City.

We leave for Playa del Carmen, Mexico on Tuesday. I wanted to do something memorable for my 30th, since it's so often I can't remember what I do or what I get for my birthday. I didn't want that to happen for 30. So, Mike's giving me a trip to Playa del Carmen. It's going to be fantastic!

My birthdays are usually at least a week long celebration but for this milestone I'm going for the full year of celebrations. Other trips already scheduled are Washington, D.C. and New York City. Both are business trips I'm extending and Mike isn't coming with me for NYC, but that just means I get to see Lion King on Broadway and Wicked, rather than only one. We're also planning a group trip to Las Vegas in October for Elton John. I want to also do another volunteer vacation. I'm hoping for Uganda but will probably have to settle for Guatemala.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Facebook

Desi just discovered Facebook. She registered and found that her dad already had a page. What the?! How is her dad kicking it with a Facebook page and she's just now checking it out? Must've been that 60 Minutes piece a few weeks ago.

Mike is still blissfully enjoying his sabbatical. We rented our Salt Lake townhome for another week in March, so that means he gets to stay unemployed for another month. If we get any tax return at all, that'll be another month off for him. He's very productive though, getting a lot of house stuff done and running errands during the week so that weekends are free.

This past Sunday we spent the whole day walking around. We walked from our house to Pike Place Market and to the gym. Desi is still sore from it. Mike's not because he does long walks almost every day. Prior to Mike's sabbatical we would never have had the luxury of wasting a whole day walking around. It's so nice having him home!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How is it already March?

Remember when you were a kid and the days were long and time couldn't go fast enough? What happened to that? Now time zips by and suddenly you've got shoulder pains, wrinkles, hot flashes, and ear hair. Not that either of us have ear hair, but we're both expecting it any day now.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Happy Leap Day!

First of all, Desi is THRILLED that the Hollywood writer's strike is over and her programs are coming back. Namely, Men In Trees. That is her favorite show ever--perhaps more so than Gilmore Girls--and it's been terribly frustrating for her without it over the last 3 months. But, all is right with the world now that it's back on the air with new episodes.

Secondly, Mike's first week of unemployment was very enlightening for him. Who knew there were that many hours in the day? It took him a while to get used to the unemployment thing but by Wednesday he was able to sleep in. By Friday he actually stopped feeling guilty for not doing anything. But, he still can't believe how much time he has in the day.

Physical therapy is working well for Desi. She thought she was getting better but the therapist said there's been no real change yet. The biggest change has been psychological--she's no longer scared to move her arm. She's been going weekly and doing her exercises daily so she hopes that at the next appointment her therapist sees some progress.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Firsts and Lasts

This is Mike's last week on the job. He resigned a couple of weeks ago. He's super excited about this transition and it's been a long time coming. Four years of commuting from Seattle to Everett and 10-12 hour work days will soon be a distant memory.

Mike will spend a week enjoying unemployment and then the plan is for him to apply at a bunch of temporary staffing companies. He doesn't want to sign up for anything permanent at this point. He wants to temp for a while and check out a bunch of different types of jobs before he commits to anything. He's really quite excited about this new direction and he's really looking forward to a deserved sabbatical.

Desi has her first physical therapy appointment today for the right shoulder that she injured back on Jan 4 while snowboarding in Utah. She finally went to see a doctor last week and the orthopedist diagnosed an inflamed rotator cuff. The doctor said that this injury makes him think Desi's had prior shoulder injuries. Unfortunately, she hasn't. What that means neither of us really knows. Maybe Desi will be prone to shoulder injuries from now on? Something she should ask her doctor in 2 months at the follow-up.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Democracy In Action

We caucused today. We've never done that before. It was pretty amazing because the turnout was so huge. It was also fun participating in democracy out in the open, rather than behind a curtain or through absentee ballot. We saw a lot of people reconnecting, probably neighbors that hadn't seen each other in years.

The line to get into the elementary school was super long but we only saw one person turn around. She was alone with two small children, so we can imagine getting there was a trial in itself but actually standing in a long line while trying to maintain two kids by yourself would probably be too daunting a task to tackle on a Saturday afternoon. We wouldn't have even attempted it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

If this is 30...

I went snowboarding on Jan 4 while vacationing in Utah and wound up hurting myself pretty seriously. I'm not a very good snowboarder - I think I've only been boarding for 4 years and then only about 3-4 times per season - just now attempting to change from heel to toe and vice versa without stopping; definitely a beginner. Well, I'm riding down the hill mid-day, going probably faster than I should because I've had a successful day up to that point and I'm feeling a bit too confident, and I wind up catching this wicked edge.

I belly-flop so hard that the wind is knocked clean out of me. There is such a lengthy pause before I can start breathing again that I'm actually able to comprehend my imminent death. When I am finally able to inhale it is with so much effort that I debate whether or not to just give up trying. After a few minutes of writhing on the ground, I'm able to collect myself enough to begin to assess the damage. I'm thinking I may have at least one broken rib.

Very cautiously, I'm finally able to make my way down the rest of the mountain and hobble towards Mike and my BFF Luis. Luis is typically unconcerned with my general welfare but Mike can tell right away that I'm in terrible pain. We both decide that I probably don't have any broken bones and that maybe some food might make me feel better. After about an hour of resting and nourishment, we take to the mountain again.

My ribs are still as sensitive as they were prior to lunch but now my shoulder has suddenly stopped working and my right arm has the range of motion of John McCain's. I'm miserable. Now, here it is 2 weeks later and there is almost no improvement. My ribs are just as sensitive and my shoulder has recovered a little bit but I still require Mike's assistance with ponytails, etc.

Everyone is telling me my injury is so bad because I'm turning 30 and apparently 30 is when your body changes. Well, if this is 30 then I'm against it. When I was younger an injury like this wouldn't have slowed me down for more than a couple of days. What the Hell?!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Best Buy Sucks!

Earlier last year I read an article on msn.com about Home Depot once being a favorite stop for couples but not anymore because they have turned into Time Stealers - where their customer service and store is set-up in a way that steals time from their customers; not very efficient, in other words. Well, Best Buy did that to me and I am no longer a customer of theirs.

Mike & I wanted Guitar Hero III but it was sold out everywhere we went. We decided to purchase it online at BestBuy.com and pick it up at the store (saves us time going from store to store looking for it and no shipping fee). The gift certificate we had didn't cover the entire cost so we put the rest on our debit card. The whole transaction went rather smoothly.

When we get the game home and begin playing it we discover that the guitar in the bundle is broken. It's too late to go to the store to exchange it so we have go to bed without getting to enjoy the genius of GH III.  The next morning we head over to the same Best Buy from the previous day and here's where the anger starts.

Rather than simply exchanging the game for a new one Best Buy does a complete return/refund on the broken game and then a completely new purchase for the new game. During this process I find out that my debit card has been charged the full purchase amount rather than copying the split transaction from the day before, which was clearly represented on the receipt.

Apparently, according to the guy behind the counter, the system in the store is not compatible with the website's system and it is not possible for them to simply duplicate the transaction. Thus, the whole cost is applied to my debit card and the prior amount is credited back to the gift card.  However, the guy behind the counter hadn't been trained to advise his customers of this critical detail because Best Buy apparently doesn't think this type of inconvenience is worth highlighting..

The guy behind the counter said our gift card had been credited with the amount from the original purchase which I had discarded the night before after depleting its value.  When I brought this information to the guy's attention he said that I could call the phone number listed at the top of the receipt and request a new gift card and they would mail me a replacement. Seriously?!

All I had to do was call this number, most likely wait on hold for a long time, perhaps repeat this story several times to different people before a duplicate gift card is mailed to me, most likely taking at least 7-10 business days before I receive it.

Moral: Best Buy does not value the time of its customers.  Best Buy is a Time Stealer.

There were several ways in which this could've been handled better, without making me angry or feeling completely devalued.  For instance, the guy behind the counter could have just given me a new game without processing the exchange in the system; he could have called the number for me; he could have handed me a new gift card right there; he could've told me all of this information prior to the transaction so I could've exchanged the game at Game Stop or Game Spot or Game Crazy or anywhere else where I would not have had this problem.

Instead, Best Buy thought nothing of wasting my time nor inconveniencing me not once but twice and three times if you remember that it was their broken game that I was returning in the first place. I hate Best Buy and will never buy anything from them again. I cannot tolerate businesses that forget about customer satisfaction or customer convenience.. Bastards!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

We rarely do anything these days to celebrate New Year's. We don't go out because we don't want to be killed by any drunk drivers; we don't go to parties because all our friends are old like us and no one wants to throw them any more; we don't watch fireworks, either in person - due to crowds, which we hate - or on TV - because fireworks cannot be captured correctly on TV. But, this year we're trying something different.

We've made 9PM dinner reservations at La Medusa in Columbia City. It's within walking distance from our house so we're not terribly concerned about the drunk driver issue and with reservations we're not too worried about crowds and the 9PM reservation will allow us to be home at a reasonable hour so we won't have to deal with post-New Year's revelers.

We tried this dinner reservation thing for Christmas dinner and it went rather nicely. We dined at Six Seven at The Edgewater Hotel. The only trick was that the restaurant was a whole lot more crowded than we ever thought a restaurant would be on Christmas day. The hostess, who was also surprised by the crowd, told us that they were turning away patrons without reservations because they were so full. Eating out was really nice and probably a tradition we'll maintain though not necessarily at that restaurant. Nice place and reasonable price for prix fixe ($65) but we didn't really like the menu or the food that much.

Of course, we can't post on New Year's Eve without mentioning our New Year's resolutions. We really only have one: start renovating the house...again. We've been on hiatus for a number of years now, though the house desperately needs some help. We had good momentum at the beginning of 2007 but we had issues with finding a reliable electrician.  So, rather than persevere we decided to just give up.

We're also just paralyzed by the amount of work that needs to be done. To combat this paralysis we've decided to ask for help by way of hiring a general contractor.  Our plan is to list everything we want to do to the house and have the GC prioritize and recommend sub-contractors so we can get some shit done! We have even identified a couple general contractors that we're going to approach thanks to Seattle Magazine's recent special section "Best of Home Repair."

Best wishes for a Happy New Year!
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