Pics from Christmas

GarretT slept in on Christmas, which didn't do me any good since I was up at 6am anyway. Despite the late start (9am) we were done opening Santa's gifts by 20 after, with our boys doing their best to break the world record for opening the most gifts in the shortest amount of time.

We had our neighbors over for dinner and enjoyed a fine meal of prime rib, twice-baked potatoes, asparagus, and fine wine from our neighbors liquor cabinet. The kids got along great (apparently not realizing how long a year is before they have to be good for Santa again) which allowed the adults some much needed socializing.


The boys with Santa

The most wonderful time of the year

I can't think of a better time of the year to be a father than Christmas time. The entire Christmas spirit, from the boys counting the days down until Christmas, talking about Jesus' birthday, to how God is watching us (even through the roof of our house), to them following Santa across the globe on Christmas eve via Norad Santa (who apparently is in Boise, ID, as I type), to getting to play Santa in real life and wonder when the hell they are going to figure this gig out, and finally their faces and joy opening presents Christmas morning, truly makes a year full of hell raising two boys worth it. Everything seems to come together, from the boys' values to my values.

It truly is a time of hope, being grateful, and being generous all rolled into one. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!



When he was the coach of the Chicago Bulls, Phil Jackson used to tell Dennis Rodman (after Rodman got hit with a technical foul during a game) "BOHICA." Finally, the press asked Phil what "BOHICA" meant...

Bend over, here it comes again.

You know, that same feeling with today's auto bailout. Bend over responsible taxpayers, you now have to bail out another group of people that made poor (and by poor, I mean "friggin' idiots that have had 30 years to fix their crappy cars and still can't figure it out") decisions. That's right, take money from people who know what they are doing and give it to those that don't. That's a surefire way to fix the economy, don't ya think?

Proud to have two foreign cars in my driveway right now. Unless my friends in Germany email me and tell me that workers from those companies are asking for handouts too...


A day in the snow

We got our yearly day of snow early this year, I worked from home in the morning, and the kids dragged me outside for the afternoon to enjoy the white fluffy stuff. Sledding in the backyard, shoveling snow, a little hockey in the street, and sledding across the street.

Garret preferred to roll down the hill rather than taking the sled.


Latest family picture

Not calling this a Christmas picture although its that time of year. Last time we had our picture taken as a family was last Christmas, so we are due for a new one. It didn't scan too well, I'll have to play with the settings to try and improve it.


The Christmas Tree from the Shire

Stop by your local ranger station, fork over $10, and the US Forest Service will let you cut down the tree of your choice almost anywhere in a National Forest. Such was the way we went about getting our Christmas Tree this year. Funny, at almost every trailhead, there are warning signs that if you so much as kill a blade of grass, you will destroy entire ecosystems and cause the immediate destruction of mankind. Fork over $10, and you can trample all the vegetation you like and cut down any tree you want. Go figure.

Our quest started on Saturday, and we spent an entire afternoon in several places in the Snoqualmie-Mt Baker National Forest looking for a tree worthy of our abode. And beating up my Audi too boot. We soon learned why there are Christmas Tree farms and why they charge a boatload for a tree - natural selection just doesn't create perfect, symmetrical, full Christmas trees very often. I'm sure they're out there, we just didn't see them.

We ended up going out Sunday morning and grabbing one 10 feet off the paved road that runs between the two exit 38s on I-90. Doesn't seem to sporting, but far as we can tell it was legit. It was actually a heavy rain, but don't worry, the family found shelter in our SUV while I destroyed nature.

I'm uploading pics now, will add them to this post later.

Spencer's first Seahawks game

Today was my fourth game, my third this year. A couple weeks ago Amy and I enjoyed our neighbors tickets while the Seahawks got beat by Washington. When we told Spencer what we were doing he showed a real interest in going. I was lucky to find decent tickets on eBay for less than face value.

Spencer had a good time taking everything in and seeing a side of a game he hasn't seen before, we had a good view of the Seagals, er, field, and we took in our share of junk food. The weather was decent until halftime, and we had to leave early to get Spence to a birthday party. Spencer's one disappointment was that Matt Hasselbeck (his favorite player) didn't get to play, but that was tempered since the Seahawks outscored the Pats while we were there.


Amazon Black Friday Deals

Some great deals available today at Amazon Black Friday Deals. And I get to stay away from the mall.


An early Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I'm sure Happy Thanksgiving is politically incorrect in most of this country, but screw it, its a day to reflect on what's positive in our lives and be thankful for what we have. Looking forward to a day with friends, family, three football games, hoping the rain holds off until the turkey is done, and plenty of giving thanks.


dahlia lounge review

I'd capitalize "dahlia lounge," but dahlia lounge is simply too cool to be capitalized. Or at least they don't in their restaurant.

I'm a n00b to Seattle, so far be it for me to know what are good restaurants or bad restaurants, or what is famous in this town. In general, putting it nicely, the food sucks in this town, which is actually a good thing as it forces Amy and I to eat in most of the time. And we've been burned so many times by recommendations by the locals (for example, that crappy Woodman Lodge in Snoqualmie, argh) that we've learned to not even bother with trying new restaurants in this town - just ain't worth it.

Three years ago my boss at Amazon gave me a gift certificate to dahlia lounge for Christmas, telling me it was his favorite Seattle restaurant. Amy and I sat on it for at least six months, simply not trusting recommendations from the locals. We were sorry we waited so long.

Located on the corner of 4th and Virginia in Seattle, dahlia lounge is the first restaurant that has earned my trust in putting something on my plate I can't spell, pronounce, or describe, and yet I will taste it. Namely because everything they make is amazingly good.

For example, Amy and I went there Saturday, and one of the appetizers was listed as "(some word I don't know) cheese, white toast, (three words I don't know) mustard, and (two words I don't know) onion jam" for $10. Any other place, and I'm going "ewww". Instead, Amy orders it, and it was un-friggin-believable. That's right, an amazing taste from cheese, bread, mustard, and onions, whoddathunkit. I wish I would have ordered enough to make an entree out of it.

They always have a simple menu (just two short pages) based on what's in season, with the two consistent offerings that Amy and I can detect being their crabcakes and their Peking Duck - both are awesome. Upon request, they'll turn their crabcakes into an appetizer, so you can enjoy both signature items. Not that I've done that a couple times or anything.

dahlia lounge is on the pricy side - $30 or so for entrees, $10 for appetizers and desserts. Plus the service is always excellent so you're ponying up 20%+ for a tip. Brings it to $75-$100 a person depending on your drink of choice (their wine selection is excellent, including half bottles).

Next time I'm not sharing my "cheese/bread/mustard/onion thingy" with my wife... she has to order her own.


Amazon Toy List

Pretty cool way to shop for toys. Just hope Spencer and Garret don't find this URL...


Snoqualmie Ridge 5k Turkey Trot

I was out of breath, sweating profusely, dying for a break, but when I reached the finish line, I was proud of what I had done - I had successfully walked the 3/4 mile from my house to the school.

Seriously, the Ridge held their annual 5k today, which Amy ran, as well as a 1k for kids, which Spencer ran. Spencer started in the front row with a bunch of his friends, and ended up near the end with him and one of his buddies walking it in :) I'm proud of his effort and seeing this through. I had the chance to run with him, and I said no effin way. I did join him for the pancake breakfast, though.

Spencer out of the gate.

Spencer and his buddy Parker, both having decided that running just ain't worth it.

Spencer crossing this finish line - great job champ!


Happy 4th Anniversary...

... to my personal blog. Proof positive that Web 2.0 is a failure. Funny, when I created it, I was so late to the blogging game. But I'm glad I started when I did as it has really helped with indexing in the major search engines.

And despite my heavy investment in micro-blogging (Twitter), my blog isn't going away any time soon. I think the two compliment each other very well.

Here's to four more years of opinionated crap.

The new Snoqualmie Ridge Supermarket

Just got an email that the new Ridge Supermarket opens up on the 19th, in time for Thanksgiving. Excellent! Hoping they run a better store than the previous owners, there's such a demand for a decent grocery store on the Ridge.

I hate Christmas...

... anytime it surfaces before Thanksgiving. Actually, I don't hate Christmas. I love December and the Christmas time of year. I hate any mention of Christmas, any advertising of Christmas, any decoration of Christmas, that occurs before Thanksgiving. 1/12 of the year dedicated to Christmas is enough, we don't need 1/4 of the year or 1/6 of the year dedicated to it. Christmas can start after Thanksgiving. Heck I don't even mind when it spills into the New Year. Just let Thanksgiving have its props.

I also hate "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" or other politically correct mumbo-jumbo so that someone doesn't have to hear the horrific phrase "Merry Christmas." In fact, the last few years, I've been saying Merry Christmas in public, and find everyone returns the same "Merry Christmas." So apparently I'm not the only one with a little bit of contempt for the politically correct police. I mean, I don't get how "Merry Christmas" (or "Happy Haunukah" or whatever) equates in any way, to any one, something offense. "Eat shit and die this Christmas!" is offensive.

Who's with me?

And don't think the hypocrisy of me talking about Christmas before Thanksgiving isn't lost on me.

Now, off my pedestal and back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Spencer gets his Red Belt

Spencer continues to work hard and move up the belt ladder, last night earning his red belt. His Black Belt Club did a very cool form with Nunchucku, but I didn't get a good video of it. I did get a video of him breaking a board, with his familiar Ax Kick, which seems to be his favorite.


Snoqualmie River Water Level Gauges

I just think these are so cool. Yes, I realize that makes me a dork. But they're still cool. Just amazing how fast the river can rise, and not because of heavy rain... just drizzle over a couple of days that feed the mountains that runoff into the rivers that coalese in the foothills.

From NOAA (I just found out they had one)

City of Snoqualmie at Flood Level

Glad I live on the Ridge, but sympathies go out to those living in the flood plain.

Stop the bailout insanity

Once again, the American auto industry crying for help. Please, let capitalism do their jobs, let these companies that can't make cars consumers want die, and free up resources to put energy into companies that CAN make companies that consumers want. I'd rather see a bigger Toyota, BMW, Volkswagen than throwing money down the drain at the Big Three.

No more bailouts!


A big thank you to our Veterans

Very glad Veterans Day has achieved first class status as a holiday, our soldiers deserve our respect and honor.


Wow did I anger the football gods

The Lions and Purdue are a combined 3-16. Wow. And very few of those losses between the two teams have been close.

To pour salt in the would, the gods have made sure I can't follow a local team either, as WSU, UW, and the Seahawks are a combined 3-24.


As I ranted last night...

... Sarah Palin gets rave reviews from Republicans. Now, in my cynical world, I would have to say that these same Republican voters have been putting RINOs in office for a decade (self included in that group), so perhaps take with a grain of salt, but I stand by the best chance to get back to the sane world of the 80s/90s is to get conservatives to lead the Republican party, and Palin fits the bill.

I'm still angry

One of the reasons I've been posting less frequently the last three months is the downright raw anger I've had at our federal and local governments. Across they board they have just pissed me off to no end. Between local idiots putting stupid taxing measures on the ballot that everyone knows will fail, to our wonderful public servants in Washington ignoring calls of "drill here, drill now" and "say no to bailouts," I'm just downright pissed.

The bailout was the straw that broke the camel's back for me and the Republican party. My assumption for several years was that we were sliding down a slope but somewhere the GOP would course correct and find its way back to Reagan conservatism. I couldn't have been more wrong, and the broad support from the party on the bailout is pure evidence of that.

I sat on election night about 9pm local time when the call was finally made for Obama, and I just thought "wow, you retards just lost everything that Reagan built through the 80s. Rewind to 1976." For the last eight years the GOP has been anything but conservative, in a country that is still, as a whole, right of center. And in doing so, completely destroyed the gift-wrapped legacy and public support left by Reagan and even the 90s Republicans that initiated the Contract with America in 94.

It would be very easy for me to fire shots at those that voted for Obama asking "what the hell are you thinking? (or rather, 'why aren't you thinking?')" But I can't - the GOP gave them no choice. Why would one vote GOP these days? If you want to vote for fiscal irresponsibility, against personal responsibility, etc, the Dems have them beat hands down.

By the way, I have news for the old GOP guard: Sarah Palin is going to kick ass in 2012. And she's not going to play the game you want it to be played. You better wise up to that or even more of you are going to be out of jobs as constituents flock to her. McCain totally blew it with the best asset he had - turning Palin loose. Instead, he asked her to play ball according to his rules. Idiot. Not that I wanted McCain to win, but this typifies the arrogance of the modern GOP - they are way out of touch with the base, which is why their base is dwindling.

As if I needed yet another reason to be against the bailout

Sorry, not bailout, but rather welfare for the shithead-people-and-companies-that-created-a-global-recession.

I found this site tonight. Wow, talk about pissing away our tax dollars and watching our gov't tried to hide the details.

Boy, can't wait for Obama to redistribute my wealth and piss more of it away. Sigh.


Life is getting creepy

And no, I'm not just talking about President-Elect Obama. (Seig Heil!)

My neighborhood and house is now on Google Maps. Which means some schmuck from Google drove around our neighborhood taking pictures.

Go to maps.google.com, enter my address, and you can see our house on the street view. Can also move around the neighborhood with an easy to use interface.

The experience is excellent I might add.

Just creepy. Kinda like the Obama kids singing (shudders).


Now this is good

just click on it

Another Obama National Anthem Video

Maybe I'm just immature, but I always findthese funny. this one is done especially well (the song is old, the video content is new).


Quote of the day

I had been looking forward to the UW-ND game for the past year. I always tune in to root against the Irish, and the chance to root against them in person just made me drool.

My bubble was burst not even halfway through the first quarter as the Huskies found themselves down 14-0 and things looked worse than that. They mustered 38 yards of offense in the first half (my friend won the bet... I put the over/under line at 40 yards and he wisely took the under). Early in the fourth quarter, the UW offensive Juggernaught had musterd 20 yards rushing and 21 yards passing. To which the dude behind me says...

"At least they have a balanced offense."

Maybe you had to be there, or perhaps have several cocktails working their way through your bloodstream, but damn it was funny.

Oh well, I got to make fun of Charlie Weis from the cheap seats.

My best line of the day to a Seattle native (who had just told me "they're not married, they're cousins"): "I know they're cousins, but they're from Indiana, which means they COULD be married."

Misc random pics

No rhyme or reason to these... just my periodic pic post.

Spencer with the moves.

A herd of elk on meadowbrook farm, with mt si in the background.

The boys at NW Brickcon 2008

The boys at Seattle Center.

Garrett showing Spencer his preschool room.

Thankful they chose to read and not some weapon-based fighting activity.

The most fascinating thing on one of our recent hikes was a huge slab of concrete near the trailhead. Spent countless minutes investigating what the hell this was.


Obama makes appeals to his base

Concerned that John McCain's support for big government, deep-reaching social programs, and spending money it doesn't have was whittling away at his core, Presidential candidate Barack Obama has spent the last few weeks strengthening his base, giving CNN the approval to report on his connection with terrorist William Ayers and leaking information that the Obama campaign is funding ACORN to get out the vote.

According to the Obama campaign, "we realized voters are being drawn to John McCain's leftist philosophy, message of big brother government, and ignoring the American people. We needed to shore up our base and remind Americans that Obama is a more radical liberal than John McCain."

The tactic seems to be working, with Obama holding a five point lead in national polls, a lead that was up to 8 points a couple weeks ago before kicking off Operation Obamunism.

"I was a little concerned that the rhetoric earlier this year about Obama and William Ayers was just that, rhetoric, and that Obama was a one-trick pony whose only radical friend was Reverend God-Damn-America Wright. But when I heard on CNN that Ayers helped Obama launch his political career and they've worked together in the past, I was relieved. Most definitely this is change I can believe in."

"Indeed, the news from the Communist News Network about William Ayers gives me hope. Perhaps Obama will offer Ayers a cabinet position, hopefully in Homeland Security."

Others, however, are playing a wait-and-see attitude. "Oh sure, Obama may make grand claims that we can't have SUVs or keep our homes at a comfortable temperature, but has he ever pushed such socialist programs through? Or even proposed one? Nope. At least John McCain passed McCain-Feingold and other laws putting restrictions on the Bill of Rights."

"Some people are making a big deal of Obama's roots in ACORN and hiring ACORN to generate bogus registrations. But people, let's not be fooled - those are registrations, not votes. Until Obama can prove he can generate bogus votes and steal this election, I will remain skeptical. In fact, I'm leaning to casting a write-in vote for William Ayers."

A simple solution

I've been too pissed and angry to blog for a while, but I've come up with a simple solution. Congress needs to pass legislation to create two programs:
1. Group of people that believe in socialism and that the government is the answer to problems.
2. Group of people that believe in limited government. This would include defense and basic infrastructure. And that's about it.

Group 1 would be all the McCain and Obama supporters that have a love affair with big government and letting gov't solve all problems because we are helpless. Group 2 would be the 5% who's left (including me).

Let the government tax #1 at 90% or whatever they want to provide the plethora of banking, health, auto manufacturing, automated toilets, and other services that the socialists want.

Let the government tax #2 at 10% or whatever it takes to defend the country. This group would pay for their own education, health care, road usage, park usage, etc.

Of course, this wouldn't work - most people would opt for group 1, and gov't waste, corruption, and inefficiency would kill the economy forever. But at least I wouldn't feel like I was getting screwed on a daily basis.


National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

It's that time of year again, when lots of creativity flows around support for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Always glad to support one of our top charities (wow, imagine that, private funds going to fight disease, go figure).


More on the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac problem

This will probably get your blood pressure up, watching our politicians in 2004 defend the practices (which auditors and regulators said were egregious at the the time) of two companies that will be consuming more of our taxpayer dollars.


What caused the current mess?

Debatable, for sure, but I love Jim DeMint's presentation. This should be used in business school classes.

WaMu collapse doesn't surprise me

They way they treated me, the way they made stupid business decisions (I watched this first hand), I took my money out of there six months ago and switched banks.

Their failure doesn't surprise me, and its a function of bad decisions. Capitalism at its best, it weeds out poorly performing entities. Let someone who knows what they are doing step in.


Time for another picture update

Misc. pics over the last month or so.

Spencer on his way to first day of second grade.

Crazy Garrett at Green Lake, hanging on to the merry-go-round as it spins.

Garrett and I on a walk, in a meadow near Mount Si

Garrett spotting a cache on the Iron Horse Trail near Snoqualmie Tunnel

Spencer getting the hang of soccer and finding himself around the ball more often.

Spencer during warmups, while I marvel at what constitutes a straight line in this town.

Yes, we let our kids play on train tracks.

Taking a rest near Mount Rainier. Love Garrett's "Indiana Jones" hat, as he calls it.

Spencer reading to Garrett during our nightly storytime.


Spencer and I atop Little Si

Spencer and I did a little bonding this morning and took on Little Si, a 5 mile roundtrip hike that takes you 1000 feet up to views of Snoqualmie Valley. Spencer was able to do it in less than 90 minutes, which I thought was pretty good. We hit the trail early, hung out at the top for a while, did some caching, and were home by 11am. He said he'd do it again, so despite his blisters he must have had a good time hanging out with his ol' man.

Spencer found a hiking stick right away and proceeded to show me how Yoda walks with it.

Time to pull Culpepper out of retirement

Sorry, Kitna, this one was all set up for you to deliver on, and when the chips were down you folded three hands in a row, costing your team 21 easy points.

Who's next in the joke that is the Detroit Lions QB ferris wheel? Orlovsky doesn't exactly scream potential to me.


That was painful, I think

So Purdue lost in double OT to Oregon. Interesting. Interesting because my DVR recording stopped at 1:08 left to go in regulation. Talk about a pet peeve of mine. At least NFL Sunday Ticket allocates four and a half hours to their game slots.

For Purdue to be up 20-3 early in the second quarter and not be able to muster more than 3 points the rest of regulation is a shame. Then again, long stretches of scoring droughts (or even moving the ball droughts) has been a hallmark of Purdue since Brees left, and part of the reason I am excited about getting fresh blood in the coaching ranks next year (although I was hoping some of Danny Hope would start rubbing off this year). Will be nice to watch Purdue run more than 4 different plays on offense. At least I hope they do.

Could be a long year. Glad I didn't stay home to watch this one real-time.

Glad others saved me the time

After watching the Palin interviews I was left scratching my head wondering if ABC and Gibson took a similar approach with Obama. After all, I don't recall seeing anyone in the mainstream media other than FoxNews examining Obama's relationship with domestic terrorist William Ayers. Or his relationship with Tony Rezko. Or asking whether he felt experienced enough for the Presidency.

Sure enough, some people have done the deep digging and analyzed the two interviews. The differences between the questions and what was edited out are, well, interesting to say the least. Funny how some reporters believe the VP needs to have more experience than the President.

This is what I think is great about the web. 20 years ago this type of analysis is not available to the common folk. But tools like youtube and free blogs make this kind of dissemination of analysis trivial.

And just like with the media's treatment of Hillary, I don't think this is chauvinism or sexism. It's just the media's attempt to push their agenda forward. We'll see if it works better this election than it did in 2000 or 2004.


Spencer gets his brown stripe belt

One notch away from a red belt. This was pretty impressive as this form is a tough one to learn and most students do not pick it up in two months. And given a couple weeks out due to vacations in this last cycle, and I'm proud that Spencer worked hard and focused and got his brown stripe. The instructor was even having Spencer demo the form and moves for the class. He's come a long way and to watch the growth is amazing.

The first few pics are Spencer with one of the Black Belt instructors, who saw Spencer practicing on his own and stepped in to give Spencer some direction. I like this set.

And here's Spencer practicing his "Seig Heil Obama" salute.

Catching the board right as it breaks. Kewl.

Uh, don't ask me what this is about