Studio711

Delivery and Curbside Pickup

I know exactly how many times we had food delivered to our house when I was growing up: zero. We lived so far out of town that it wasn’t even an option. That has carried on into adulthood and I’ll rarely pay the extra money to have something delivered.

With the lockdown this year, we’ve gotten a lot more used to doing delivery and curbside pickup. The gig economy-style services (Grubhub, DoorDash, and UberEats) seem fairly indistinguishable, but here are my reviews of various delivery and curbside pickups that I’ve attempted:

Losers:

  • Home Depot – I’ve attempted curbside pickup twice. The first time, I called twice and let the phone ring probably 40 times total but never got an answer. So I went into the store and waited for quite a while before finally someone went to get my order. The second time, the curbside pickup spots were clearly being used by random customers going into the store and it was so crowded that it took forever to find a spot near the designated area. It was so busy that I felt dirty participating in shopping there at all. Since there are some projects at home that really need to get done, my only recourse is to try and order as much as I can online or at least let my order pile up so I can make as few trips as possible.
  • Qdoba – Qdoba is a staple at work. It’s within walking distance and is a favorite of our team on Fridays. We ordered burritos delivered for lunch one day and honestly, I didn’t feel like they held up. I ordered the same thing I always get but it didn’t pack the same punch. I’d definitely skip the lettuce next time because it just gets soggy and maybe I’d zap it in the microwave for a few seconds?

Winners:

  • Tres Hermanos – AMAZING. They win the takeout championship. I did have to go inside to pick it up, but every single person working there had a mask on and they had two cups of pens (used and unused). And even after the drive back home, the food was still fantastic. The only slight ding I’ll give them is that it’s hard to find their menu online but honestly, it’s Mexican. What combination of rice, meat and tortillas do you want to order? And if you do need the menu, you can find it in Yelp photos.
  • Good Brewing Co – I know I’m biased, but Kevin’s beer is amazing. He started up a delivery service and I’ve used it many times. He even sells his pizzas as kits that you can make yourself at home for a fun family activity. If there’s one local business that I want to support, this is the one.
  • Pizza Coop – There is no better pizza and I’m happy to say their curbside pickup worked wonderfully. When I pulled up there was a number to call but an employee stepped out of the building quickly to ask my name and then brought my pizza over. The pizza wasn’t quite as good as it is fresh in the restaurant, but they’re so far ahead of the game that it was still a big hit.
  • Red Robin – We don’t eat here much anymore, but they had a good deal on pickup orders so we went for it and honestly, I think I liked their food better at home than in the restaurant! When I went there, it was easy to pick up the food without interacting with any other customers. Everything was outside.
  • Total Wine – Buying booze at Total Wine is a lot cheaper than getting it from Safeway and they have a bigger selection of beer too. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t pick beer singles from their website, but otherwise this was a great experience. when you get there, you text them what spot number you’re parked in. They come out, check your id through the window and then load directly into the trunk!

Honorable mention:

  • Chipotle – In contrast to Qdoba, Chipotle hit a home run. The burrito I had delivered was delicious.
  • Mod Pizza – After a mixup on my first order attempt (somehow they thought I asked to have it delivered to the Mod Pizza where it was made?!), our second attempt went well. I don’t have a lot to say. Mod Pizza is good and it tasted about the same as it does in the store.
  • Hollywood Tavern – If you want a Woodinville dining experience, you need to eat here. We don’t go there a ton but we decided to try their takeout. Their menu is smaller than normal and beware that there aren’t any sides with the entrees, but the food was good and the pickup experience was great (text when you arrive and they bring it out.) They do get a ding for getting Tyla’s meal wrong but they were very nice about the mixup and cleared it up for us.

Prior to all this lockdown mess, we enjoyed eating out a few times a month and it’s nice to keep that going even if we’re eating the food at home. It still means that I have a day where I’m not cooking dinner!

Grandpa’s Clock

Both of dad’s parents have passed away and one of the things I remember from their house was a clock made from a painted saw blade. As I remember the story, Grandpa got it the saw blade from a local painter and made the wooden part around it. After they both passed away, I was very happy to be offered that clock!

Getting it back to Washington was a story in itself. I decided to bring it home in my carry on instead of shipping it. As we took our bags through the TSA checkpoint, I got pulled aside. “Sir, do you have a saw blade in your bag?!” Me: “What? No! … Oh dear… Yes. Yes I do.” The TSA agent had to check with their boss who had to check with their boss. Finally it was decided that I could bring it onto the plane since it was artwork and the blade was firmly attached to the wood. Phew!

I proudly hung that clock on the wall in my shop for about a year even though the time was never correct. The hands would move but no matter how many times I set it, they would be randomly wrong all the time. I eventually ordered a replacement clock movement and new hands and got it repaired. Now I have the clock in my shop and it even works! I think about Grandpa and his woodworking a lot while I’m out in the shop doing similar things and now I’ll have one more (working) reminder of him.

COVID-19: Part 10

When this whole thing started, it felt wonderful to be fighting something together as a global group. It’s like the story from the cold war when Reagan and Gorbachev were in tense negotiations. During a private conversation in a break, Reagan said, “If aliens attacked the United States, would you help us?” Gorbachev said yes, and after they went back into the room, negotiations went much better. Sometimes there’s a common enemy we can all fight and it brings us together.

That was nice while it lasted wasn’t it? On a recent episode of his podcast, Mike Rowe said, “A couple months ago I said, ‘For the first time in a long time, we’re all in the same boat.’ I take it back. I don’t believe we are. I think we’re all in the same storm. Our boats are different for sure.” When I open up the news, it’s full of tension and anger as each political side beats the drum and rallies the troops for another screaming match. How can people be so different when the data is so clear?

Data like this is far from clear. While this virus was expanding rapidly, the population had to learn how to understand the pace indicated by an upward line on a logarithmic scale. Now that we’re coming back down, a better metric seems to be the “R-value” or the transmission rate. An R of 1 means that for every one person who gets sick, they share it with 1 more person. If the outbreak is at that level, it means that we’re going to hold our ground. Go above 1 and we end up with a mess. Keep it below 1 and we will solve the problem. The trick is figuring out what R value we’re currently at and how that varies by region.

Uncertainty in models showing the impact of various social distancing rules combined with the fires being flamed in politics lead to a situation where everyone can find a “statistical report” that reinforces their bias. I don’t know which point of view this report backs up, but I’ve been keeping tabs on the ones that my company is involved with and one of the best is the Centre for Mathematical Modeling of Infections Diseases. Their estimates show that R is probably at or above 1 in most states. The Institute for Disease Modeling also has a very detailed dive into transmission characteristics in Washington State.

CMMID transmission estimates for the United States
IDM transmission estimates for Washington State

The media thrives in the uncertainty of these models. They can twist the statistics and wording, but if you skip over the media and look at the raw data, you can get a better idea of the situation and the level of confidence you can reasonably gain from it. Are we out of the woods? No way. Have the changes in restrictions over the last couple weeks taken us immediately back to huge increases? Nope. Yay for now, but this virus is pernicious. The time between being infected and having measurable symptoms is long, so the task of finding a good balance between lockdown and a return to normal is going to take a very long time.

It’s hard to know how much of this anger being flamed up around the country is legitimate and how much is an effect of being influenced by bad actors in the system. Other countries love targeting the US and feeding the frenzy. The media makes their money on eyeballs. People love to have their biases reconfirmed. It’s a lot of dry tinder.

It’s easy to get depressed with all the fighting and the numbers that arent’ trending down as fast as we’d like. But there’s hope too. There are other polls that show that we’re not really as divided and angry as it seems. I enjoyed this comic (with sources cited) from Randal Munroe:

Coronavirus Polling

Even if the country really is divided and angry, it doesn’t mean that I have to participate. Tyla and I were talking about good things to come out of this This list will continue to grow for decades as gain more perspective, but here are a few of the things we came up with:

  • We have an amazing digital library that keeps our eyeballs full of good books. A couple weeks before this all started, we had decided to get Elijah a tablet to help with his reading. So not only can we use our awesome library, but now there are floods of educational apps that have free periods. Elijah’s reading skills have skyrocketed!
  • We haven’t been sick for two and a half months! That’s unheard of during school season. It’s usually a non-stop merry-go-round of viruses and bacteria flowing around.
  • I do most of the cooking at dinner time and it’s challenging to keep dinner interesting on weeknights. The removal of my commute means that I can plan just about any meal on any day.
  • What a perfect time for me to build a new computer! It has been a joy to work on this thing every day, and the enormous horsepower has come in very handy with all the video editing that I’ve been doing for church.
  • I’ve been wanting to learn Davinci Resolve for video editing and all of this editing for church services finally pushed me over the edge. While I don’t really have any extra time to learn things since work is busy, I was forced into the situation and after a couple weeks of struggling, I’ve burst through to the other side where now I’m more productive than before and I have an endless list of new features to explore. (It’s like learning to swim the Stennis way!)

I could go on and on, but the point is that while there’s still a lot of uncertainty and we’re being encouraged to fight with “the others”, keep calm and carry on. Good things are happening too. And even if you can’t see those good things when you read the news, you can find them in your own life. Celebrate them and thank God for them.

James 1:17-21

17 Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the lights, who does not change or shift like a shadow. 18 Just as he planned, he gave us birth by the word of truth so that we would be a kind of firstfruits of his creations.

19 Remember this, my dear brothers: Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. 20 Certainly, a man’s anger does not bring about what is right before God. 21 So after getting rid of all moral filthiness and overflowing wickedness, receive with humility the word planted in you. It is able to save your souls.

COVID-19: Part 9 – The Awakening

On Friday afternoon, Governor Inslee extended the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order through May 31, but more interestingly, he released the guidelines for how things will be opened back up. There are multiple phases of opening and there will be at least 3 weeks between each phase to ensure that we have time to measure the impact of the changes. Along the way, other states are going to be pushing to open back up much more quickly so we’ll have data about how well (or not) that goes.

It sounds like Phase 1 could start in a couple weeks. That one is only a mild increase from what we currently have, but as an elder at our church, I’m specifically interested in the allowance for drive-in services. I’m also the resident AV geek, so that means I need to come up with a tech solution if we go that route. It will take until Phase 3 for us to start having bigger church services, although even then, we’d need to have a couple of them to fit within the limits.

Phase 2 is looking pretty good right now… it will be really nice to sit on enjoy a small barbeque with friends or family this summer! At that point I think we can let Elijah play outside with friends more too. Schools are notably absent from the plan and it’s hard for me to believe we’ll be all the way through Phase 4 by September, but we can figure that out later.

There are an increasing number of people deciding they are done with the lockdown. I hope that some of them will see this list and realize that they need to dial it back a little. (Never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to ignorance. – Hanlon’s Razor) As for me and my family, we will continue to keep any contact outside our house to an absolute minimum. Why? The government told us to stay home, and the Bible is very clear on the role of government for a Christian:

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1-2)

So unless the government starts forcing me to do things counter to the Bible, I need to follow their rules, and in our state right now, those rules are telling me to stay home. I can disagree with the rules, but that doesn’t mean I can disobey them. I can vote to change the rules or elect new leaders, but I can’t ignore them.

We can do this. Together.