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Archive for the ‘Washington’ Category

We’ve been known to go to Naked City, a new pub in Greenwood. I wanted to add a review to Yelp when I noticed an interesting pattern in the other reviews. The reviews were almost all favorable, but quite a few complained how at Naked City you order your beer at the bar.

Some of my international readers may be confused at this moment. Ordering at the bar is bad? As opposed to ordering where? I have to admit when I moved to Washington state I found it a bit peculiar that almost all pubs have table service. I don’t recall that being the case in California. It may have been more like 50/50. In Britain of course you generally order at the bar unless you’re in a restaurant that also happens to serve beer. Ordering at the bar seems to be the case in most of the places I travel to.

Personally, I prefer it. If a pub doesn’t hire enough servers then you invariably will be looking around and waiting for someone to serve you. Which can be a bit distracting.

I liken it to Oregon where you are not allowed to pump your own gas. Oregon state law prevents you from doing this in order to save gas station attendant jobs. While this is a great idea in theory, gas stations are too cheap to hire the requisite number of attendants so you are invariably waiting for someone to do something for you that you are perfectly capable of doing for yourself. But I digress.

So what do you think?

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My local pub in Seattle is The George & Dragon. I’ve been going there for trivia night on Tuesdays for almost eight years now. It’s a British pub in the real sense of a British pub: sticky bar, greasy food and it’s low on the frills. Before Washington state passed a bar smoking ban, the G&D was the smokiest bar in town. The day after trivia we would toss our smoke filled clothes in the washing machine, and if we didn’t wash them right away our home would smell of dank smoke. Naturally this was quite an inconvenience.

After the smoking ban of 2005 our clothes smell like greasy french fries instead, and we can definately live with that. I’m sure I’ve added years to my life the last three years.

But now my favorite pub is in peril because included in the smoking ban was a twenty-five foot rule meaning that you are not allowed to smoke within 25 feet of the door. I thought the purpose of the ban was to get the smokers out of the bar. That of course has been completely successful. I’m not sure what more we can ask of these businesses. People do smoke and lest they want to smoke in the middle of the street they are going to have to do it somewhere.

According to the suit, the health department received 15 smoking-related complaints from June 2 through Oct. 1 about The George & Dragon Pub.

Health-department workers repeatedly saw customers smoking on an outside patio, and they could smell smoke from the patio while standing in a door to the pub.

Under the state law, smokers must be kept at least 25 feet away from business entrances to prevent smoke from coming inside.

Smoking is accepted as a bad thing that only bad people do, but what about all the other things that have similarly bad consequences. Pollution from cars? Do you read about people complaining about the traffic on their street that is causing them to be asthmatic. What about construction dust or paint?

I think I’m having a bit of a knee-jerk reaction because the G&D really is my favorite place. I hope that the owners find a solution that keeps the bar open.

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I first blogged about Leavenworth Washington to describe why there exist in America things like fake German villages.

A sawmill and a healthy logging industry eventually fell apart, however, when the Great Northern Railway Company pulled out of Leavenworth. The re-routing of the railroad and the subsequent closure of the sawmill sadly converted the town from a bustling, thriving hub of commerce into a hollow, empty community. For more than thirty years, Leavenworth lived on the brink of extinction.

But in the early 1960’s, everything changed. In a last-chance effort to turn their precarious situation around, the leaders of the community decided to change Leavenworth’s appearance, hoping to bring tourism into the area. Using the beautiful backdrop of the surrounding Alpine hills to their advantage, the town agreed to remodel their hamlet in the form of a Bavarian village.

Ironically Leavenworth, the Bavarian holiday town and not the saw mill town, is so popular that the train will be returning to Leavenworth once a station has been built. Leavenworth lobbied and received a federal grant for the station. The station will be part of the same line that I took to Glacier Montana, the Empire Builder line, which travels from Seattle to Chicago.

Life can be quite funny sometimes.

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One of the great things about the Leavenworth Marathon is that you run on Saturday morning leaving the rest of the weekend open to spend in the beer gardens. This is Patty who won a costume prize for the run two years in a row. She actually ran the race with at stein in her hand. That’s dedication.

Here is nice barn with a tiny speck of fall colors in the background.

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Damn, Oregon beat Washington. Then again they do make fine tasty beers. If I had to name my top favorites I’d say:

1. Scuttlebutt Blonde Ale – Everett, Washington

2. Manny’s Pale Ale – Seattle, Washington (Georgetown neighborhood)

3. Mirror Pond Pale Ale – Bend, Oregon

Via wikipedia.

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Back in Seattle

I think it’s fairly appropriate that I return to 60 degree weather and rain. Seattle, I hardly missed you.

A lot of people who come to Seattle say that people here are not as friendly as other places. I’m from California and I’ve never really noticed this observation, but I must say that people in Chicago were incredibly friendly. For someone who was new to town and only stayed there a week, I had some exceptional kindness directed at me by strangers. I didn’t really feel like I was in the city alone.

I guess I’m back to the hum drum of daily news which by the way is starting to depress me. If the Republicans win this year then America is just as depraved as everyone believes.

Here’s one last photo from Chicago.

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I thought I might talk a bit about why there exist fake German villages in America for McCain to do photo ops at.

The fake German village in Washington state where I live is called Leavenworth. And it’s history is as follows:

A sawmill and a healthy logging industry eventually fell apart, however, when the Great Northern Railway Company pulled out of Leavenworth. The re-routing of the railroad and the subsequent closure of the sawmill sadly converted the town from a bustling, thriving hub of commerce into a hollow, empty community. For more than thirty years, Leavenworth lived on the brink of extinction.

But in the early 1960’s, everything changed. In a last-chance effort to turn their precarious situation around, the leaders of the community decided to change Leavenworth’s appearance, hoping to bring tourism into the area. Using the beautiful backdrop of the surrounding Alpine hills to their advantage, the town agreed to remodel their hamlet in the form of a Bavarian village.

A lot of my friends refuse to go to Leavenworth because they say it’s too kitschy. So is Bavaria I say. Talk about garden gnomes.

One thing that strikes you when you go to Leavenworth is that everyone who’s in on the ruse is in their 60’s. It’ll be interesting to see if the next generation will carry on the tradition. Currently, it looks like the younger members of the town have an adverse reaction to wearing lederhosen. And who can blame them?

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In the winter we often drive through the town of Enumclaw on the way to Crystal Mountain ski resort. It’s a small humble town where some parts look more affluent than others. The town gained some notoriety a few years back due to a rather embarrassing story that I won’t go into here.

But Enumclaw is in the paper today because of their refusal to even consider an offer from the Nestle company to bottle Enumclaw’s water.

Last spring, in the small town of Enumclaw, a company came calling. What it wanted was water. One hundred million gallons a year, to be precise.

It would pay nicely for the privilege. It would set up a bottling plant and provide jobs for the people. If only somebody, somewhere in Enumclaw, would listen to what Nestlé Waters North America had to say.

But it was not to be.

Last month, without so much as a public hearing, Enumclaw sent a message to the multinational corporation: Go tap someone else’s spring.

I have to say I can relate to the people of Enumclaw. Big business in general hasn’t exactly earned much respect from the communities they operate in. In the people’s minds, big business wants to exploit communities of their resources and leave little in return. Bottling tap water is hardly mining, but in people’s minds it’s the same thing. I was surprised to read in this article how much Nestle was offering to pay for the water.

Nestlé would pay $250,000 a year for the water, plus property taxes on the $40 to $50 million plant.

That doesn’t seem like much money considering their entire resource, you know the thing they’re actually selling, is coming from the town’s resources.

Image via FastCompany.com.

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Things were so much better in the olden days. I say this having never lived in the olden days, but noticing the folly of planning a time-sensitive harvest festival in advance. Take this strawberry festival in Bellevue:

These are tough times for lovers of local strawberries.

The unseasonably cool temperatures have delayed the annual harvest and is even hurting Bellevue’s famed Strawberry Festival.

Most of the 6,000 pounds of strawberries this year are coming from – shudder – California.

“It’s unfortunate, but for the last few years, the weather has made finding local berries a real problem,” said festival spokesman Daniel Gale.

Gale says a few local berries are making an appearance, however.

Wouldn’t it be more fun and exciting to have the festival when the local strawberries are ripe? You could have web cams where the public waits in anticipation for the strawberries to reach their peak. Eating local is supposed to be encouraged after all.

A few years ago, I went to the Vashon Island Strawberry Festival. I was prepared to buy several pounds of strawberries. When I got there they didn’t sell any berries at all. They sold strawberry lemonade and strawberry shortcake, but you couldn’t actually buy a basket of strawberries. I asked someone only to find out that Vashon Island’s strawberry business was destroyed after the advent of child labor laws. They too every year ship in strawberries for a strawberry festival that has no grounding in reality.

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The Arctic Building is associated with one of the lesser-known facets of the Klondike gold rush–the formation of social institutions for the men who returned from the Yukon gold rush after “striking it rich.” Though most who headed north found no gold, a small percentage did return to Seattle with more than just memories. The Arctic Club, originally located in the Morrison Hotel, provided an exclusive social community for those Seattlites who had returned from the Alaska Gold Rush with money in their pockets and a repertoire of stories to tell about their adventures in the Yukon. In 1916, they commissioned A. Warren Gould, one of the city’s most prominent architects, to design the building that would become their institution’s new home.

This building will soon be used as a hotel/condo.

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It turns out this man is not a terrorist. He’s just mad about suspicious people taking his photograph.

They were software consultants in town for a weeklong business conference — not terrorists planning an attack to cripple the country’s largest ferry system.

Last summer, the FBI launched an international search for two men after crew members and riders on a Washington State Ferry reported their unusual behavior — namely that they were taking pictures below deck, in areas that don’t hold much interest for most tourists.

One of the men recognized himself in the photo sometime in the fall but didn’t know what to do, said David Gomez, the FBI’s assistant special agent in charge of national-security programs in Seattle. He contacted his friend and they consulted family members involved in law enforcement in their home country. Then they went to the U.S. Embassy, Gomez said.

For someone who rides the ferry every day, taking photos of the car deck is pretty unusual — but not so for “a guy who rides it one time in his life,” Gomez said. “Their story makes sense; their story has validity … . It was perfectly normal once we learned what was going on.”

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I’ll give him credit where it’s due. Nice work. I’m crossing my fingers that he won’t be announcing a snowmobile theme park in the wilderness area tomorrow. Click here for more pictures.

Nearly six years after it was first introduced, a bill to create a Wild Sky Wilderness northeast of Seattle has become law.

President Bush signed a bill Thursday making Wild Sky the first new wilderness area in Washington state in nearly a quarter-century.

The House gave final approval to the bill last month. It designates 167 square miles in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest north of Sultan, Wash., as federal wilderness, the government’s highest level of protection.

Wild Sky, sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Rick Larsen, both D-Wash., is the first new federally designated wilderness in Washington since 1984.

“Reaching the end of the trail never felt so good,” said Larsen. “Today marks the summit of a long journey made possible by many committed people and years of community input. Together, we not only created a new wilderness bill, but a new model for creating wilderness in the future.”

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This is why I have a coffee category.

If you prefer your coffee fresh-brewed when hiking, Spokane-based GSI offers a number of coffee solutions. If you want a steaming mug of Starbucks Yukon blend during your hike, toss your favorite lightweight stove into your pack, then add a GSI Lexan Javapress — a French-press style coffee maker.

Available in three sizes, the GSI Javapress is light, yet incredibly tough. The 10-ounce size proved to be perfectly sized for solo hikers wanting a single cup while the 33- and 50-ounce sizes can serve four to eight hikers at a time. I found the 10-ounce press, weighing a mere 8 ounces, a lightweight way to get fresh java while snowshoeing on Mount Rainier. The 10-ounce Javapress sells for $19.95, while the group-sized 50-ounce runs $29.95.

Of course, being Northwesterners, many of us are addicted to powerful espresso brews. Even here, we are covered in the backcountry. GSI’s stainless-steel Mini Expresso espresso makers sit atop pack stoves and pump out one to four shots of espresso at a time. The 4-cup Mini Expresso kicks out four flavorful shots during one brew cycle, and with a small 10-ounce box of soy milk, I was able to serve my friends fresh lattes at Panorama Point on Mount Rainier this winter. The 4-Cup GSI Mini Expresso runs $49.95. See http://www.gsioutdoors.com.

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As soon as I saw this in the vending machine in Tokyo, I knew I had to get a picture. Not only is the logo a complete knockoff of Starbucks but the logo and name is Mount Rainier — a mountain near and dear to my heart as it’s located in Washington state where I live and I ski near it all the time.

Why I Love Starbucks Gossip remains a top hit on this blog.

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I love trout. Trout and butter and almonds, trout grilled on the barbecue with herbs inside. After I read this nausea inducing article on maggots being the answer to the trout farm, I swore off farmed trout:

University of Idaho and Idaho State University scientists are working on a new maggot-based feed capable of fattening rainbows for the dinner table while simultaneously helping slash growing mounds of manure and fish entrails that come from the state’s hundreds of thousands of cows and millions of farm-raised fish.

Idaho is America’s largest commercial producer of trout, with the industry bringing in more than $35 million annually. And with 500,000 cows, it’s surpassed Pennsylvania as the nation’s fourth-biggest dairy state, which got Sophie St. Hilaire, an aquatic-species veterinarian at ISU in Pocatello, thinking: Why couldn’t dairies use a slurry of cow dung and trout intestines, removed during processing, to grow maggots rich in the fatty acids that make fish so healthful for humans?

Now I may have to swear off wild trout:

You may turn up your nose at farmed Atlantic salmon or shrimp raised in ponds in China if you’re searching for wholesome, safe foods. But do you eschew fish pulled from a remote lake in a U.S. national park?

Maybe so if you’re concerned about eating elevated levels of mercury and chemical flame retardants.

Some trout from secluded lakes in Olympic and Mount Rainier national parks were so polluted they reached unsafe levels for routine human consumption, according to a study out Tuesday.

“We’re looking at some of the most pristine areas left in North America that are under the protection of the national parks, and we’re finding some alarming results,” said Dixon Landers, a senior scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Health and Environmental Effects Laboratory.

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I’m always fascinated by kleptomaniacs or pathological liars, because they often have fairly stable jobs and would seemingly have little reason to deceive.

On a drizzly day last February, a young, athletic man in hospital scrubs walked into a triathlon-supply store in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood and said he wanted to buy a very expensive bicycle, and right away.

The man said he was an oncologist, and he looked and talked the part. So the staff at Speedy Reedy Multisport set him up with a $6,800 road bike and a helmet, and he sped off for a test ride on the Burke-Gilman Trail, leaving just his name, which he said was Tony.

He also left behind a Tully’s coffee cup — with “Jake” written on it.

When neither the bike nor the man returned, the store called Seattle police. They took that coffee cup and tested it for DNA, which traced back to an unlikely suspect: Jacob J. Bos, a respected 35-year-old podiatrist from Longview.

And he was such a “normal” guy.

“He was an incredibly detail-oriented person,” Kirkpatrick said. “He had professional satisfaction, solid income, a great girlfriend, a very satisfying professional-level hobby. Why would anybody do that?”

Update: I found this article fascinating which is why I posted it and I have posted before about bicycle topics. I just read now that this man took his own life, and I feel a little guilty that his mental illness was used as entertainment by me.

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I just got back from skiing at Mount Baker, the original ski resort of snowboarders so I am told, and I couldn’t believe the amount of Dolce&Gabbana crap out there.  That’s right, Dolce&Gabbana, they don’t use spaces. They’re too cool for that.

The last time I watched winter sports on TV I saw the logo, but I never believed some crappy fashion house merchandise would actually make its way to what is supposedly an alternative counter culture sport.  I guess that’s what happens; everything that’s cool gets swallowed by the mainstream.

Photo via www.metrostylemen.com

Dolce&Gabbana stickers, snowboards, t-shirts…ick. Do these guys  travel with Louis Vitton luggage and  wear Juicy Couture sweatpants? I hear there is a great perfume out there made by Hillary Duff that maybe they’ll want to try.

There’s nothing that gets my ire up like clothing whose sole purpose is to point out who made it and how expensive it is. There is nothing inherently finer about these products. In fact, the prominent display of the logo makes it look cheap. Please show me the pair of cool looking glasses that don’t have their maker prominently displayed on both ear rests.

Snowboard and ski equipment is riddled with logos, but I guess there’s just something offensive about a fashion couture house and snowboarding. These guys sell $300 jeans, for god’s sake.

Last night on CNBC there was a show about how skateboarders had initially rebuffed Nike when Nike wanted to break into the lucrative skateboard business. Apparently it was short-lived. You can now buy all your Nike skateboard equipment via the brand “Nike SB.” Please wake me up.

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Washington state has broken the record for the largest caucus in the nation’s history.

The 244,458 people who showed up for Democratic Party presidential-nominating caucuses in Washington last Saturday may have set a national record for attendance at any of the party’s 18 state caucuses.

“We’ve done some research, and we haven’t been able to find a caucus in the history of this country that has been as large as this state’s last Saturday,” Washington State Democratic Party spokesman Kelly Steele said.

The Republican caucus apparently can’t give their own numbers because they still don’t know how many attendees they had, giving even more credibility that Huckabee may have been on to something.

And Democratic caucus-goers are thought to have greatly outnumbered their Republican counterparts although the state GOP hasn’t counted how many attendees it had and won’t have a number for another week, party spokesman Patrick Bell said.

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So the recount results for the Washington State caucus are in and McCain has once again been declared the winner over Huckabee. The consensus is from state party officials that the delegates don’t matter anyway. I’m having a hard time following their logic.

Esser said four counties — Snohomish, Benton, Grant and Jefferson — had given the wrong numbers previously, reporting the preferences of all caucus attendees, not just the elected delegates.

Don’t the caucus goers elect the delegates? Wouldn’t it be a conspicuously large number if they counted caucus goers instead of delegates?

Esser said that by then, precincts had stopped reporting in for the night and his analysis made him confident that McCain’s lead would hold. The party resumed counting on Sunday.

Amid the furor over the results, former GOP Chairman Chris Vance tried to put it all into some perspective: The numbers reporting who won or lost may not matter much in the long run.

Due to the way Republicans select their delegates, the results could bear little resemblance to the presidential preferences of the 40 Washington state delegates ultimately sent to the GOP national convention in September.

How do they select their delegates? I thought one half were from primary and one half were from the caucus. Is it even more complicated?

Here, the number of delegates elected at precinct caucuses means very little in terms of which candidate will ultimately get the most delegates heading into the national convention, he said. Delegates are “unbound free agents,” who are not required to vote for one candidate over another. They can tell people whom they’re supporting, but they can also change their minds, Vance said. Also, the roughly 16,700 delegates elected at Saturday’s precinct caucuses will be winnowed down at legislative district caucuses and county conventions. Those remaining will go to the state convention, where only 18 of them will be chosen — two from each of the state’s nine Congressional districts — to go on to the national convention.

Isn’t that the case will all the caucuses? We usually assume when counting though that the delegates elected by the caucus will go with what the people want. I guess Republicans just don’t do it that way.

And that only counts for a portion of Washington’s national delegates. Nineteen others will be allocated based on the state primary election on Feb. 19. The three remaining positions are “automatic” delegates — the state party chairman and two national-committee members.

My head hurts. They may not like to count but they sure love confusing rules.

Update: It looks like HorsesAss.org did some dedicated research on what these rules mean. Answers here.

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Where was Mike Huckabee when we had Presidential election inconsistencies (a nice way to put fraud) in 2000 and 2004? It’s hard to be sympathetic.

Mike Huckabee continued to cry foul Monday over the results in Saturday’s Washington State GOP caucuses, saying the state party chairman’s decision to call the race there early for John McCain is reminiscent of elections in communist bloc nations.

“That is not what we do in American elections,” Huckabee said on CNN’s American Morning Monday. “Maybe that’s how they used to conduct it in the old Soviet Union, but you don’t just throw people’s votes out and say, ‘well, we’re not going to bother counting them because we kind of think we know where this was going.’

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caucus.jpg

Preliminaries

There were definitely more caucus goers today than four years ago. My precinct had 9 delegates to give. We all signed in with our name and information and included our preferred candidate. At first count, we had 6 Obama delegates, 2 Clinton delegates and 1 undecided delegate.

All On the Same Side

Throughout the afternoon, many made a point to say if their preferred candidate did not get the nomination they would vote for the other.

Speeches

Each candidate is allowed to have one speaker deliver a statement supporting their candidate of choice. The minute is timed. Because we had undecided caucus goers, we were also allowed a one minute speech from an undecided.

The speaker for Obama went first. He spoke less of specifics and more toward the ability for Barack Obama to reach across to the other side and get things accomplished. He talked about Obama’s vision and ability to inspire individuals. I agreed with everything he said although I wish he had included some specifics. A mantra from the Hillary camp is that Obama is all talk and no action; yet, if you look at his record, statements and vision I think he is no less active than Clinton. I am highly encouraged by his outright commitment to reforming the accountability of Washington through transparency.

An Eerie Omen From the Clinton Speaker

He started out well enough attacking Obama for lack of experience and lack of political connections to get things done in action. I saw many nods around the room from the Hillary supporters. He then included other positive points about Clinton none of which I disputed, but then as he was winding down he said “Yes, she did vote for the Iraq war but…” when the the word “time” pierced through the room. All of sudden you saw a frustrated smile appear from him and he said: “That was a really bad time to call for time!” The Hillary supporters murmured their disappointment with this man. As he proceeded to get off the stage he tripped and fell falling right into a group of people sitting under the stage.

The Undecided Speaker

He was definitely the worst of the three. His speech comprised mainly about his worry that Clinton could not win the election. A Clinton supporter yelled “You’re not undecided.”

The People Gets Ancy and Start Talking

After the speeches the organizers were counting the numbers and sporadically trying to answer questions from the audience. The cut off time for changing your vote had just passed and there were a few people who had in fact changed their vote. Since there was a huge amount of lag time, an Obama supporter suggested trying to convince anyone who was still unsure. This was by far the best part of the caucus. People around the room — supporters for both Obama and Clinton — started debating. For the most part, it was respectful if emotionally charged. I had to concede many points to the Clinton supporters in that I think saying she polarized the Republican party and that Rush Limbaugh wants Clinton to win are not good enough reasons to vote against Clinton. The Clinton supporters also spoke of primary results where she got the vote of rural and Republican voters. I think Obama has enough merits that voting for Obama does not have to be solely a strategic move. Both sides had equal opportunity to present their cases. This was a town-hall meeting if ever I saw one.

The Worst Representative for Clinton Ever

A woman wanted to have her unofficial say on why she supported Clinton. She had a booming voice and you could tell she was nervous but she was using all her nervousness to project her voice: “I want Hillary to be the next president because she deserves it!” I couldn’t believe my ears. Up until now, I had been supportive of both sides of the debate, but this was ridiculous. Hillary deserves it? What about me? What about my rights as a citizen of the United States? Don’t I deserve to have the right to vote for who I think is most qualified? Deservedness has nothing to do with it. In fact, I’m quite certain George Bush thought he deserved to be president, that he deserves peace in Israel, that mainly the rest of the world needs to bow to his will because he deserves it.

She continued about how this was a gender issue and how the media had been unfair to Clinton. I would agree the media have been unfair but I don’t think she suffers for it and it certainly does not influence my decision to not vote for her.

A neighbor of mine is a supporter of Clinton and did participate in this exchange of ideas. He was a much better speaker than the other two, so I do feel bad for the Clinton supporters for not having better representatives. Leroy in fact said to me that he had thought there would be Clinton representatives and was disappointed that no one stepped up to the plate in an informed way.

The Recount Is In

As I said earlier, before the cutoff point some people went to change their vote. An announcement was made that the recount now had Obama with 7 delegates and Clinton with 2. A cheer went up throughout the crowd including a whoop and holler from me. We had done it, we had managed to go away with more than we started with. I feel sorry for our Primary counterparts who weren’t able to participate in this kind of experience. This was much better than filling out a bubble on a ballot.

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I hate those people who line up for an event hours early causing us the rest of us to line up early too in order to get a ticket. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Seattle International Film Festival, getting a spot up front at a popular concert — it’s all the same. I just want to scream why don’t we all collectively agree to show up only 5 minutes prior to the show then we’ll all be happy. You know the type of people I’m talking about.

In many ways, that’s exactly what Super Tuesday was like. So many states wanted to be significant that they moved up their primaries to be early, yes, but be accompanied by several other states thus canceling their importance out. So here I am in Washington state and my Democratic Caucas is on Saturday and suddenly, I’m special and significant.
If you live in Washington and you want to know where to caucus, click here. If you’re a Republican, you can fill out your primary ballot and have it mailed by February 19th.

Update: I guess that means Washington is like the people who show up late just when they open up the balcony. 

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Living close enough to the border with Canada, I often reflect on our similarities and differences. I love driving into Canada from Washington. You immediately feel the effect of smooth roads and less garbage.

Vancouver is in many ways superior to Seattle. It’s more cosmopolitan and is greatly more international. A few years ago, I went to Vancouver to buy fabric for my wedding dress. I was told the Indian fabric stores were a great bargain. Sure enough, my fabric cost a fraction of what it would cost in the States, but I was more impressed by the fact that I felt like I had been transported to India. While I was thumbing through the cloth, I was vaguely aware of this voice droning on and on. I thought it was the radio, but it turns out it was the owner of the store with a head set microphone calling out the bargains at the moment. It was almost like a trade show.

As much as I love Vancouver, I got to say the Puget Sound in Seattle is prettier. Not cleaner mind you, but prettier. When you fly into Seattle the snakes of the lakes is something to behold. As much as I love running around Stanley park, the view of the Oympic Mountains at Myrtle Edwards Park in my opinion is more beautiful.

But it’s not a contest, I’d love to live in both places.

Here’s a great quiz called “How Canadian Are You?” I wonder if you can guess which letter is meant to imply an American.

1. Your spouse comes home to find you in bed with someone else, and you’re not taking measurements for a new bedspread. You:

  1. shoot either your spouse or your bedmate,
  2. try to come up with a persuasive although false excuse
  3. tearfully beg repentance
  4. demand sovereign sexual status with continuation of transfer payments for condom purchases

2. You are driving legally through an intersection when a car running a red light smashes into your car and leaves you with incapacitating injuries. You:

  1. have the other driver shot
  2. sue the other driver
  3. negotiate damages with the other driver
  4. negotiate changes to the Highway Act acknowledging the other driver’s right to opt out of observing traffic lights

3. A friend asks you for money. You:

  1. pull a gun and shoot him/her
  2. rebuke him/her energetically
  3. give him/her some money
  4. promise him/her distinct friend status

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This article brings us yet another way our species is negatively impacting the planet. While the earth will most likely eventually recover from whatever we throw at it, we will not. We can’t grow food if we have no top soil in which to grow it.

“Globally, it’s clear we are eroding soils at a rate much faster than they can form,” said John Reganold, a soils scientist at Washington State University. “It’s hard to get people to pay much attention to this because, frankly, most of us take soil for granted.”

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It always makes me angry that people who drink and drive get the book thrown at them for vehicular assault, but negligent drivers who kill people get a slap on the wrist. To the family that has lost their loved one, it’s little comfort that the person is just a bad driver.

Well today a man was convicted of assault for killing a pedestrian who was in a crosswalk. This is the second time I’ve read of a person being convicted without being drunk, and while I’m happy that the family got justice it appears that it was because the pedestrian worked for a Seattle City Council member.

Here are couple of examples of non-drunk vehicular assaults that did not get justice:

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