Monday, October 27, 2008

Vote over

We voted yesterday. As is our habit, we sat down together after breakfast with our ballots and voter guide nearby and discussed the candidates and issues before us. Unlike the primary we mostly agreed on the choices. Now we can excuse ourselves from the advertising and other political nonsense until November 4th.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Nina Kinert and Ladyhawke

There are times when a pop song really catches my ear. Here's a couple of examples. First up is Nina Kinert. I came across her today on these Internets. After doing a little research, I was reminded of the vocal track she laid down for Steve Jansen's fine release last year, Slope. Ms. Kinert is from Sweden. This track is from her third and latest album. She is a mere 24 years old. More from Wikipedia here. What I like about this song is the way it builds. From the simple piano and (excellent) vocal to the double drum set towards the end. It's a lovely pop song and well above the usual standard.

Next up is Ladyhawke. This band hails from New Zealand. The lead singer was described in the Guardian as what Stevie Nicks would have looked like had she had a punk make over. They've been heralded by Peaches. What's great about this pop tune? Well, like the Nina Kinert track, the lyric isn't so good, but the vocals are excellent. Plus, it's definitely got the retro-80s/dance pop feel going on. There's a slight update of that sound in the production of the song. Bottom line, though, it's catchy as all hell as is the rest of the album. I love how the video is very retro-80s as well. Perfect matching of the two.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Near Highway 20

Near Highway 20
Originally uploaded by B.D.'s world
Pictures from our holiday. This one taken off of Highway 20 at a rather random pull off stop for us. We got off at a spot where the road through was closed. We parked the car, admired the scenery, and stretched our legs before heading off to Winthrop and Twisp to find a B&B. More photos here.

Like much of our vacation, this trip was mostly unplanned. We decided to wander a bit with no agenda. The first day was a late start on a drive on Highway 20 through the mountains. The photo is from the one stop we made along the way. Our arrival in Winthrop was in the early evening. Upon a recommendation from our host at the Chewuch Bed and Breakfast (we rented a cabin with a kitchenette), we went into Twisp to dine at the Twisp River Pub. The dinner was really good, but sadly, as with many places, there was too much food, so we packed it before heading home. We strolled through downtown Winthrop before heading back to the B&B.

The next day, after a good breakfast, we drove back through Twisp along Highway 20. It was a pleasant, if grey, morning. We passed through Okanogan and went into Omak. It was there that the co-signer's library fetish kicked in. She wanted a picture. I wanted a bathroom. As it turned out a restaurant that I had read the menu from at the B&B that morning was across the street from the library. The Breadline Cafe is a kitschy sort of place from the decor. The building it is rather large and it needs to be in order to house the kitchen, the bar, the dining room, and the bakery (not to mention all of the nostalgic items placed everywhere). We stopped in to look, but rather than eat (still full from breakfast) we headed up Highway 20/97 to Tonasket (another library stop) and Oroville.

We stopped in Oroville to snap another library picture. Across the street from the library is a wine tasting room for Okanogan Estates winery. Our pourer knew the basics about the wines, but not a whole lot more. Luckily, the wines spoke for themselves. There were a couple that were quite good. We grabbed a bottle each of their Gewurztraminer and Bench Rock (Bordeaux blend). Not much further down the road was Lake Crest Winery's tasting room. We weren't as thrilled with most of their wines, but they had an outstanding Syrah Ice Wine. I don't normally go for the dessert wines, but this one was very good. The flavors of the syrah grapes really tamed the sugars of the ice wine style. Very nice.

Our visit to Oroville's lake side park was cut brief by some rain falling. We did stop and would have gotten a picture, but there was too much rain and fog for it. Before we left for the holiday I had gone looking for my birth certificate in order to cross into Canada (damn, stupid, idiotic Fatherland Security regulations). Unfortunately, I couldn't locate it anywhere. It wasn't in the place I normally keep it. This was particularly distressful since I was planning on applying for a passport soon. Since I didn't have my documentation, the co-signer didn't bring hers either. We discussed going across the border with the owner of Lake Crest Winery (she cursed the regulations as well noting that she's known some of the border guards her entire life and they still are required to ask her "Where do you live?"), but ultimately decided not to chance it. That turned out to be rather fortuitous.

Instead we drove north and west through the country side on the Loomis-Oroville road. After passing through Nighthawk we drove south along the same road. The country is gorgeous here. Golden Rolling hills and jagged peaks, green patches where farming takes place along a riverside. Eventually, we pulled off to the side of the road at the north end of Palmer Lake. Here we enjoyed a picnic lunch of cheese and crackers and snapped a few pictures. We then drove to the south end where there's a park and snapped a few more pictures. We drove through Loomis south along the Sinlahekin Road into National forest land. Along the way we saw lots of pheasants and some wild turkeys (sadly, no mountain goats, which were hoping to come across). Of course, we saw deer as well, but that was a common site around Twisp and Winthrop, so we were less awed by that. We eventually came upon Forde Lake which is a gorgeous little spot along a dirt road. There was little to no traffic on the road at this time, so we had the place to ourselves. It was lovely and quiet.

Eventually we passed through the resort area of Conconully. A few cabins, but not much else to see here. The lake looks nice, but compared to where we came from, it also looked crowded. By this point we needed gas so we took the Conconully Road back to Highway 20 and Omak. We stopped off at the Breadline Cafe for our dinner that evening. The co-signer enjoyed a rather tasty pear cider with her meal. The breads were delish. My shrimp jambalaya could have been spicier, but it was still tasty. We shared a brandied bread pudding for dessert and it was very good. After dinner we headed back to our base in Winthrop. We stopped at Hank's along the way to pick up some coffee (for me) and tea with the idea that we'd stay up and watch the VP debate. However, we missed the circus.

The next day was also quite nice. We stopped for coffee at The Local 98856 (a really nice spot...the decor isn't what makes it, but rather that you can buy local, organic products here from chevre, to milk and eggs, to sanwiches, flour, honey, and more). I'ld link, but they don't appear to have a site. Saveur rated them highly recently. We then walked around Twisp, stopping at the Cinnamon Twisp Bakery (where we bought some yummy fresh baked bread and brownies) and the Glover Street Market (natural food store where I bought some flour - no linkage available). We shot some photos and headed on home along Highway 20 again. I took a bit of a detour on the way home and drove south through Darington along the Mountain Loop "Highway". That led to some more lovely scenery as we eventually made our way along some 1 lane roads through the Mount Baker forest and ended up connecting to the Mountain Loop "Highway" again heading into Granite Falls.

All in all, a lovely and leisurely holiday.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Driving through the state and being heartened

The holiday drive was lovely. Pictures will be forthcoming. But one thing that we didn't capture in pictures was a bit of a surprise and a pleasant one at that.

Washington is often described as a divided state. The Puget Sound area is the most populous section. It is also more liberal leaning that most of the rest of the state (exceptions being Bellingham, north of Seattle; a tiny corner of the southeast section near Washington State University; and the area around Vancouver, Washington - south, near Portland, Oregon). When a populist politician on the right wants to bash the liberals she usually chooses to bash Seattle as the figurehead of liberal politics here. Indeed, the Seattle area is much more progressive than even other liberal areas of the state, so it's a good target. But things are always more complicated than that. For instance, Bellevue, until recently, was historically conservative. In fact, it still is considered conservative, but looks like it might flip to Democrats in the near future (if not this election, then perhaps the next). Microsoft's hiring has changed the demographics in the area greatly, yet one should note that even so Microsoft employs a fair number of conservatives. Again, it's not so easy.

Outside of the Puget Sound region the state is mostly conservative. I recall that during the last gubernatorial election that side of the state was covered with signs urging the election of Dino Rossi, the Republican. In fact, Rossi almost won that election. In the first counts he did win the election, but the Democrats sued and in the recount by hand Chris Gregoire won the race by under 500 votes. To this day there's a good number of people who grouse that she stole the election. I've heard a lot of people tell me that they can't wait to vote her ass out of office.

The trouble is for those people that Gregoire has been a pretty good governor. Sure, she passed through some major Democratic priorities, but the most costly of those benefited schools. She's also been very good at bringing opposing sides of an issue to the table and hammering out a compromise. When flooding hit Central Washington this past year Gregoire's government received high praise from conservatives over it's response. Still, these accomplishments and more will not quell the naysayers who feel that their vote was unjustly nullified.

The polls said that Gregoire held a 15% lead over the summer. That was cut recently to 7%. Given the amount of bitching I heard at the store over the past couple of years and the fact that the state is looking at a $3.2 billion deficit next biennium (our budgets are 2 years in length), I expected to see a ton of Rossi signs again. What I found actually surprised me. Yes, there were a number of Rossi signs, usually coupled with McCain/Palin signs. However, I also saw a large number of Gregoire signs and they were always coupled with Obama/Biden signs. I saw more signs supporting the Democratic candidates for office than I have ever seen on that side of the state. And it wasn't just in medium sized communities or those known for their liberal leanings. Rather, I saw them all over and everywhere.

My take on it is this - it won't just be the Puget Sound area that goes heavy for Obama. He's going to receive a lot of support from elsewhere in this state. McCain might still take those eastern regions, but it's going to be close. Rossi? He should throw in the towel, now. There was too much support for Gregoire out there. She's going to carry the traditional liberal areas and she's going to eat into his traditional base in a big way. The whole trip made me feel much better about the upcoming election day. If Obama/Biden can carry that much influence and make people that excited in areas of this state that are very conservative, then they are probably doing the same throughout the country and that bodes well for those of us who want to see them elected.

It also helps explain why McCain pulled out of Michigan this week. He's losing independents and he's bleeding from his base as well.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Financial Mess

Some 192 economists signed a letter asking the president and Congress to take a calm and measured approach to the financial crisis. What was reportedly the reply from Bush?
I don't care what somebody on some college campus says.

Idiot or evasive

Or both. Here's the Palindrone discussing her sources for international and national issues with Katie Couric:

I'm betting that she does read something, but that she doesn't want to reveal what it is because people will jump on it and note that she's a wacko. In fact, I'm not sure which is worse - that she reads nothing or that she reads wingnut propaganda.

Getting Saucy

Originally uploaded by B.D.'s world
Tomato sauce before it was frozen for enjoyment throughout the winter.

Tomatoes and Wine

Tomatoes and Wine
Originally uploaded by B.D.'s world
After getting home we picked some tomatoes.


Originally uploaded by B.D.'s world
Vacation wining.

Beginning Vacation

Beginning Vacation
Originally uploaded by B.D.'s world
We're on vacation this week. On Sunday, we wandered through Woodinville. We went to the Cider Mill, then a farm, and then wine tasting. It wasn't planned and it was more enjoyable that way.