Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Eve Service

This week, we attended two Christmas Eve worship services -- the first being a Christmas pageant with live animals.

The second being the midnight candlelight service, though this time, with no appearance by the barnyard animals. It was a serene affair bathed by the royal purple light on the center cross and by candlelight lining the sanctuary.

Some parts of this midnight service were the same as the earlier "Christmas Story Pageant", but this was a much more intimate service which gave a feel of a small group experience with God. There were far fewer people in attendance and it was without the sets and players. If the earlier pageant was a TV show, then this service was an old time radio play. When the soloists sang, especially the tenor Matthew Riser's rendition of "Oh Holy Night", the sanctuary was silent save his soaring voice. Starla and I joked afterwards that we can be his groupies and send him fan mail. Even now, several days later, I can still hear his song in my head.

It's not that one service was better than another, but they were definitely different experiences. The pageant had a joyful, festive atmosphere, accented by the procession of the animals, which I think was the part of the service that everyone was looking forward to. The play also brought new nuances to the Christmas story, and along with it, new understandings of what those people might have experienced during the first Christmas.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A little restaurant review

Last month, while walking along Coventry, we saw that a new restaurant had opened near bd's Mongolian Barbeque called Bodega. Peaking through the window, as passersby often do, it looked like a charming place - its decor reminiscent of some of the restaurants at which we recently dined in San Francisco.

We decided to go there for dinner one Friday evening in mid-November. The place was packed, and the round tables shown in the website photos were replaced by small rectangular tables to accommodate couples. There was a small jazz band playing near the entrance.

The seating was somewhat cramped, probably due to a larger number of diners than normal - Friday night at a newly opened restaurant in a popular district. That meant more people talking in closer quarters, and plus the rather loud music by the jazz band, made it very difficult to talk to each other despite sitting across a small table. The diners were mostly young couples and groups of young professionals, which is pretty expected given the location on Coventry. I guess that includes us as well.

Bodega is a tapas restaurant, which are small Spanish-style dishes. It's like having a variety of appetizers. The menu was short, and includes mostly seafood items. I guess we should have checked out the menu online before we went. The non-seafood items mostly included lots of cheese or mushrooms. One appetizer we asked for, braised short ribs, was not available. On the day we went, the catch of the day was scallops, which to us is not fish, so we skipped it. Another entree was a small steak, but was also not available. We ended up ordering three tapas, and they tasted pretty good, but we probably needed at least another three to make a meal. Bodega also has a decent wine selection, though they specialize in martinis and that list dominated the wine menu.

The service was average. Servers are all friendly, but the food came slowly - perhaps they were understaffed for the crowd. Our server was apologetic given the limited choices to us and our apparent dismay, and timidly stated that she hope we'd go back when she handed us the check.

We left Bodega and went to Aladdin's, probably our favorite restaurant, for a better dinner.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Case of the Missing Yard Sign

I noticed yesterday that one of the two Obama/Biden yard signs we had on our front lawn was missing. In fact, almost all of our neighbors' yard signs were also gone. So I'm thinking that either they all took theirs down now that the election is over, or else someone else removed them for our neighborhood. I know that Obama's campaign has called for increased participation in civic service, so maybe someone wanted to help us clean-up.

Whoever took my sign, I hope you'll put it up in your yard in four years. My other sign will be up in four years as well, so if you need another one, please come back then.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day is finally here

I think everyone would agree that this is a historical election. Here's a CNet blog post about where to get election results on the web, including streaming video updates.

In anticipation of long lines at the polling location, we got up extra early while it was still dark outside. I walked Phoebe and we walked to our polling location about three blocks away. Polls open at 6:30 here, and that's when we arrived. However, there was already a line that had wrapped around from the back entrance to the front entrance of the neighborhood library where the voting was being held. I guess we should have gotten up even earlier. Along the way, a nice lady was handing out breakfast cereal bars, and we each grabbed one as neither of us had ate. It was a good thing she had those, because we were getting hungry half way through waiting in the lines. Thank you, whoever you were! We waited in line for about 45 minutes before going into the polling station in the basement of the library. People waited very patiently in the line.

Inside, the voters and poll workers were bustling with their activities, but everything was going very smoothly, even for people who had to vote in provisional ballots. We took out our handy dandy voting guide that we prepared for ourselves based on research on candidates and issues and quickly cast our votes. I liked sliding the optical scan ballots we used into the scanners directly and watching the display update the vote count - not who voted for whom, but just the tally of ballots cast. It made it seem like our vote was already being counted. Kudos to the County Board of Elections and the Secretary of State for fixing the issues in previous elections and making this crucial election run smoothly.

I look forward to the excitement as the results come in tonight.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Obama in Cleveland

Fellow rally-goers waiting at the rapid station
We went to the Obama rally yesterday afternoon. We took the rapid on Van Aken and waited for about 45 minutes for a train to come. Some people at the station had been waiting for over an hour. I guess RTA didn't quite anticipate the crowds. Pretty much everyone on the train was going to the rally, and we couldn't get on the first train that came by because it was already full. Apparently, the people who actually got inside the barricaded part of the mall waited in line starting early this morning, and the line wound all the way to Public Square. I think we were standing about half a mile from the stage. We were standing with other latecomers near the green giant reaching toward the sky statue. We finally got to the mall at around 3:30. News reports estimated the crowd at about 80,000.

First, there were several speakers. While we waited, the Browns game let out (the Browns lost to the Ravens 37-27) and many more people filed onto the mall. There was also a wedding party that was going into the Marriott Hotel and they paused to take some photos with the crowd. Then we all waited quite a while until nearly 5pm and Bruce Springsteen came on. He played a few songs, and then introduced the Obamas. Their entire family was there. Barack Obama thanked a few people and did a stump speech, which I'd say was similar to his infomercial message on Wednesday and covered many of the major issues. There was a funny moment when he mentioned Dick Cheney's recent endorsement of McCain, and it started to rain a little. Of course, the crowd was very responsive to the message.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


This little item showed up recently in the supply station at my office. Apparently, I work with some obsessive-compulsive kleptomaniacs.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The snow storm from a squirrel's point of view

We got about a foot and a half of snow since last night, and it's still falling. The forecast calls for another 4-8 inches before tomorrow. We've shoveled about half of our driveway and decided to take a break. We'll have to go back out later to finish. I took this photo from about 4 inches from the ground in our driveway.

Earlier, when Phoebe went outside, she jumped into the snow and got stuck, spinning around and trying to figure out where to go and where her usual spot went. I had to extracate her from the snow. I bet she wished that she had more fur.