I turn 40 this year. While it doesn’t feel nearly as weird as I thought it would, for years Tyla and I have talked about doing an uncharacteristically big gift for our 40th birthdays. Some ideas I’ve had are going to Maker Faire in California (but that got canceled even before COVID-19), watching a SpaceX launch, renting a vacation house for a weekend, or taking a rally racing day class at Dirt Fish. Once the lockdown started, I started thinking about other options. The original goal of this was to have an experience that we wouldn’t normally have, not to just buy something expensive and throw it in the house.
Ever since Kevin opened his taproom, he’s had a limited number of lifetime membership spots available. It has always seemed like a great way to support a friend, but it also felt extravagant. So… it’s a perfect fit for this 40th birthday experience!
Thankfully he had a spot left for me, so after years of thinking about it, I’m happy to announce that I’m a Good Brewing Co. Lifetime Member! What does that mean? It’s mostly me showing my support for Kevin and his wife and what they have started, but it does get me some nice perks like a buck or two off beer purchases, free merchandise each year, a private party with annual members and a more private party with the lifetime members.
I never imagined that I’d be a lifetime member at a brewery, but I’ve never seen a brewery like Good Brewing!
Three weeks ago, we decided to try a “socially distant group hymn” with church members. The idea isn’t unique, but it felt like a fun way to join together virtually. It was tough to convince people to send me videos of themselves singing, but eventually we had 28 people who participated. Editing it was more of a challenge than I expected as even my beefy new PC had trouble rendering all of those video streams at the same time. But I was able to render out each row by itself and then combine those rows into the final video. We used it in our online service last Sunday and then posted it by itself as well. Enjoy!
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write today, but there’s a lot of things that make this weekend special:
This is the 100th day since I started working from home.
Elijah and Tyla finished up the school year yesterday
Monday is Elijah’s birthday.
It seemed like all of that warranted a “where are we now” post.
Since the last post, King County has moved to Phase “1.5”. It’s basically like Phase 2 but with lower limits. So if a restaurant might be allowed to have 50% capacity in Phase 2, in Phase 1.5 they can have 25%. King County is a bit behind some other counties mostly because they aren’t doing enough testing. It’s hard to ramp up to test the right percentage of the population when you have the most populous county in the state.
The risk assessment dashboard from Washington state is the main data source that I’m watching these days. It shows the metrics that each county needs to hit to apply for the next phase. Looking at that website, it appears that King County has really been ramping up their testing and infection rates are falling so we will probably be applying for phase 2 next week.
When we were in phase 1, it was very easy to draw the line on our interaction with people outside our house because there was none. Now that we’re able to have outdoor interaction with 5 people, it’s more challenging to draw the lines. It’s important to get Elijah outside to socialize with his friends and burn off some energy, but how do you keep that to 5 people? As we’ve seen all along, these rules are difficult to implement, but we continue to do our best to follow the orders and when in doubt, I apply that guideline I quoted early in this series: If everyone else was doing the same thing, would it be ok?
As if deciding how to handle things inside my own family wasn’t enough of a challenge, I’m also an elder at church which means I’ve been having a lot of difficult meetings to figure out how to minister to our members. Our behavior inside the walls of thechurch are even more complicated since we aren’t bound biblically or constitutionally to follow guidelines that tell us not to worship together. However, up to this point we’ve been abiding by them by choice. As a group, we decided to open up a very limited service this week, following the same rules that the state government gave for other businesses even though they have said that indoor church services aren’t included yet. It was a tough choice followed by many more tough decisions about what precautions to take.
My main challenge in this was separating out valid Christian needs and desires from political anger and frustration. While the church will be open this week, my family won’t be attending this one. My thinking is that King County appears to be on the verge of Phase 2 when I’ll be able to attend church without exercising my right for civil disobedience. I don’t know how things will shake out down the road but at least for this weekend, that’s the plan. (If you want an excellent survey of what the Bible says about our responsibility to follow the government and how that applies to these pandemic orders, check out this blog post by Dr. Ryan MacPherson. It’s fun to hear from him again. We went to church with him while he was getting his PhD at Notre Dame.)
Socially, it’s challenging to have a new opportunity in our bag. Outdoor visitation with five people per week outside of our household? That is very easy to burn through. How do you pick the five people? How do you kindly tell close friends that you’re not picking them this week? I don’t have answers but we’ll figure it out.
I’m thankful that things are opening up despite the new challenges that it presents. I’m thankful that the outdoor spread of this does seem to be small as evidenced by the lack of an uptick in Seattle despite the large protests. However I’m nervous about counties like Yakima and Spokane. Yakima has one tenth the population of King County but yet they have three times more cases than King County. The quick answer from the people who want to ignore this is that “they’re just doing more testing.” If you look at the data, that is true but despite how many tests they do, they’re still getting the same rate of positives. That implies that there is a huge untested population that has the virus. Spokane is also headed in the wrong direction. After lowering their numbers and demanding that they be allowed to go to Phase 2 with the counties around them, their numbers are shooting up much higher than the first spike. Will we see more hot spots like that as things reopen?
It’s easy to get lost wondering if and when the second wave is going hit or what will school be like in the fall or will we really get a vaccine in the beginning of 2021 or how long will it take them to produce enough for everyone globally or how big will the outcry be from the anti-vaccine crowd? All of that is out of my control so I focus on my family and living our lives one day at a time. I don’t have to get through a year at a time. I just have to get through today.
With that in mind, I recommend reading the June 10 devotion from our church body titled “A New Day“. It focused on the comforting refrain from the first book of Genesis: “There was evening and there was morning.” Every day, the sun comes up and the sun goes down. God continues to be in control. He watches over us and keeps his promises. He gives us what we need each day.
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:
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?
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!
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!