What do I know about US politics?

21 03 2008

…very little! But I’ve just been quite moved by the speech made by Presidential candidate Barack Obama a few days ago. My good friend Dave said it was one of the best speeches he’s ever heard and he put it on a par with those by Dr Martin Luther King and President John F Kennedy.

You can view the entire 37 minute speech here:

This little piggy went to market

21 03 2008

I left the charming little town of Gig Harbor for the Seattle-Tacoma Airport (SeaTac) where I was scheduled to change the car over at noon. I’d called Hertz yesterday to confirm that I could drop off earlier – no problem there.

But when I got to the Hertz counter they whacked on another full day’s charge (US$51) on top of the prepaid amount as I was 2 hours over the 14 days! Not happy about that, as, had I known, I could’ve returned the car earlier. I’ll take it up with my travel agent when I get home as the prepay was until 12 noon.

SeaTac Airport is a mess of construction! So I was glad that I’d left enough time to get there and do the changeover. Other than the extra day’s charge, the swap was painless and helped by the fact that I was the only one at the Hertz counter.

I couldn’t get another Mazda6, but I needed a car that had a trunk to conceal my luggage when I was in parking lots, and one that was suitable for taking in to Canada (i.e. Canadian or Washington licensed). So the trainee clerk upgraded me to a Chevy Malibu.

I negotiated the Seattle freeways to the Pike Place Markets without a map! If you’ve ever been to Seattle, you’ll know that’s no mean feat. I had copied down the basic directions from Google Maps the night before, but it was not really enough to deal with the maze of roads near the markets. After looking for – and not finding – the public parking garage that I had the address of, I eventually found a open air parking lot about 3 blocks from the markets. That was close enough so I paid the exhorbitant parking charge and got out of the car. By God it was cold!! Fortunately I knew where my trusty old wool Freo Dockers scarf was, so I got it out of the luggage and wrapped my neck with it. I already had a polar fleece jacket on, but it wasn’t going to be enough.

The Pike Place Markets were buzzing – LOTS of people, despite it being a Friday, out of tourist season, and very cold (like about 42F, maybe less). I was about two hours early for my lunch meeting with some local tech writers so I wandered around the Markets for that time. Lots of little stalls selling trinkets etc. as well fresh produce stalls for fruit and vegetables, flowers, meat, and, of course, the famous fish stalls (with the famous fish-tossing guys!). Some of the fish were AMAZING – the picture below is of an Alaskan King Salmon.

Alaskan KingĀ Salmon

I was due to meet the tech writers at the bronze pig in front of the fish tossers. We all found each other – the little Aussie flag on my daypack was a giveawsay for the first one! There ended up being three of us and we had lunch overlooking Puget Sound. Lots of chat about our respective jobs and how we all work.

After lunch, one of the lunch buddies drove with me far enough to point me in the direction of the I-5 North, and off I drove, heading to Anacortes for the evening.

I made the pretty little town of Anacortes around 5pm, and navigated my way to Emily and Paul’s house. They’re a lovely couple with two gorgeous little girls. Emily and I talked about her getting back in to the job market now that the girls are getting a little older. Then we went out to dinner at “Adrift” while Paul minded the kids. Emily and I both had the “Happy Halibut” and it was delicious! Grilled fresh Alaskan halibut with bok choy, mashed potatoes and crumbled crunchy honey pecans on top with a butter sauce. Very yummy, but no photos as I didn’t take my camera.