Canvassing for Obama in Chandler AZ

So I finally got off my lazy butt and got involved with the effort to make change happen in the country that I love. Last Saturday I went to Chandler Arizona and met with a bunch of really enthusiastic Obama Supporters and Canvassed Democratic Voters to sign up for Mail In Balloting. It was one of the more rewarding things I have done in many years and I am ready to do it again.

Some neat Statistics that I overheard:
-80% of voters registered for Mail In Ballots actually vote, compared to 40% or worse for regular registered voters
-When there is a record number of voters actually voting Democrats win the elections.

Here are some pictures, it was a lovely beautiful day:
get out the vote
canvasing chandler
political action women

Riding with DNB Arena

bachelors of science labelGot home and had nothing on my mind other than getting on the bike and getting some miles in. Did the sun lakes route again same as Sunday and finished 20 minutes faster. Gorgeous sunset as always and 33 miles in 105 minutes.

Got through 3 mixes from DNB Arena:
Bachelors of Science – very smooth stuff, good warmup
Logan D & Evil B – much harder and Evil B’s lyrics might be considered a bit rude, but its good for dropping the hammer
Mixmaster Doc – at this point my legs were shot so it was good just for rolling on home

Sun Lakes Route

A Blogshop in Chandler of all places!

Just got out of a really fun workshop Stop, Blog and Roll! with Biray. It was a really good intro to the subject and Biray is not only very knowledgeable about the topic but also a great presenter. She definitely has passion for blogging and getting others to do it.

This was fun because its a topic that I know a lot about and its always nice to meet others with that passion. While I still havent completely figured out what Desertstandard is about I have a refreshed energy to keep going.

St Pattys in Chandler

Shamrock
I don’t know about you but my fall-down-drunk days of green beer are retired. Nowadays I am much more interested in outdoor festivals with bands and lots of people. From the sounds of it Chandler is gonna have a pretty good try at it this year with their first annual St Patricks Day Festival.

Its right downtown south of Chandler Blvd on Arizona and starts at 4pm till 11pm. Its being organized by the non-profit Downtown Chandler Community Partnership.

Two new blogs that I am now reading

I need to do a post on all the various blogs and websites that I read so that you know where I am coming from. Anyway I wanted to mention two new ones that I am subscribed to now:

Tim Saffles and I have been buds for a few years now. It all started at that strange event known as Retention where we worked for Bob Parsons at Godaddy.com. Our dark and sarcastic humor pretty much clashed right away and it was all over but the arguing after that. He is a really good writer and gets his thoughts out like I wish I could:

So I have a dilemma: I want to purchase a place of my own, I feel that there will be no better time that in the next year or so, but I don’t think it will be a worthwhile investment of capital or time. I’m torn between sentimentality and responsibility. : TimothySaffles.com

Renting vs. Buying: Housing Dilemma

The second one is from Biray Alsac who I just learned of today via her teaching a blog workshop at the Chandler Library on March 26th at 6:30pm called Stop, Blog, and Roll. She is a fitness guru and really into the Internets. She is also a very good writer and I look forward to reading more from her:

Despite being a bit of a techno-geek, I’m still a health educator and fitness professional first. I admit, I spend countless hours on the web exploring online tools and reading up on new technology. But I see my efforts as directly helping me better understand this gadget-driven, internet-savvy culture. I’m striving to become more effective […] : Be Fit With Biray

Everyone Could Use Some Spare Change

Tough times in the Desert

Take a look around while driving through any part of Phoenix and the amount of lifted trucks and high end cars will make you think that everyone here is making six figure incomes. The reality is that these people are in deep debt attributed to the housing boom seen over the last few years which has allowed people to take out second and third mortgages to make big purchases.

Now that the economy is slowing and the housing values are dropping we are seeing a slowdown in this spending. Since Arizona gets most of its taxes through sales and income there is a huge shortfall occuring in all city budgets across the state. Its going to start getting very tight around the Desert.

State and local governments tighten belts as tax revenues fall, a ripple effect of the housing slump.

If there’s any reason for cheer, it’s that the state has been in this position before, and it not only came out of it, but also came out of it with unprecedented growth to lead the country as the fastest-growing state last year.

“There have been seven nationwide recessions since 1960, and each time we’ve bounced back,” Vest says. “The two most recent recessions, in the early 1990s and 2001, were both short and mild. So far there’s no reason to believe this is any different than the last two.”

: Christian Science Monitor | Top Stories

Arizona coffers shrink amid housing bust

North Chandler Bike Ride

This whole having a week off stuff is really nice. My body still awakens 5 minutes before my alarm goes off at 4am each day but I am unhurried now. This allows me to sit and write for a few hours after breakfast. Have a nice shave and go for a morning ride through my hood.

Today marks the second day of riding through Chandler on my bike. Yes I have lived here for over a year now but have not taken anytime to explore the area. The biggest reason for this delay is my fear of riding on the roads in Chandler because of the high proportion of drivers who are not paying attention. This is of course a silly notion because there is a high proportion of drivers not paying attention just about everywhere there are cars. So the rule is to pay attention, and then pay more attention!

Choosing a route is critical to creating an enjoyable ride. Having to constantly think about what route is best is tiring and prevents you from being able to pay attention to those inattentive drivers. There are a number of bike lanes in Chandler but I cannot find and resource that tells me exactly where they are. I winged it and came out pretty lucky. Have a look here to see my North Chandler Bike Route, just over 10 miles in about 50 minutes.

Afternoon tea in the desert

As has been noted here on Desertstandard, Tea is getting a major boost into the American Market. Whether this is a genuine growth that will establish itself or just another marketing trend is for time to decide. I have a feeling this will establish itself:

  1. Cold tea drinks have been doing well for a while: Snapple, Arizona, etc
  2. Tea is much healthier than Coffee
  3. American’s love new trends as we get to buy new things. =)

One thing that is holding up more adoption of tea drinking is the retail situation. Personal experience with ‘Tea Rooms’ is that they are tied in with a certain lifestyle, generally Vegetarian/Vegan. This is fine and has its benefits but limits the market share. Asking people to change everything is harder than just asking them to change one thing.

This is where the Urban Tea Loft in Downtown Chandler, AZ gets things right. Situated next to Kokoapelli Winery and near the San Tan brewery the Tea Loft is a unique place in a rapidly evolving and growing downtown revitalization. The space is very open and light as would be expected and after navigating the seating setup you are assured a good seat no matter what as their is somewhat limited seating to begin with. My server recommended some blend of tea and a scone.

The Chef, Christopher Jinnette, was gracious enough to bring out a sample of the days soup. Something about pork and potato and though my belly was not hungry the sample was gobbled up quite quickly. This single act has guaranteed a dinner return will occur and soon.

A quick note on the tea pot at Urban Tea Loft: If you are going to incorporate a gimmick into the central theme of your store be sure to make it intuitive. At the Urban Tea Loft you get your tea either in a 20oz or 40oz teapot. However, while there is a handle, this teapot has no spout. After attempting to retrieve my tea incorrectly my server was gracious enough to show me the proper method which involves putting the pot on top of the cup and pressing it down. A mechanism lifts in the teapot and the tea comes out the bottom and into the cup. My suggestion is to have a design on the side of the pot that makes this more intuitive.

Teapot chicanery behind us the scone arrived and was better than most. Thankfully it wasn’t dry as a bone and served as a nice afternoon snack. However next time I will probably go with toast and preserves. At the end I was treated to a sample of the BBQ pulled pork which was very tasty indeed and prompts another return for the food.

When it comes to space the UTL(their website uses it, so why can’t I be a bit lazy?) has an interesting setup. As you walk in there is a patio out front, then a row of tables with benches on the window wall to the left, then a few central tables with a cabinet of retail products on the right wall, the bar is on the right wall, and the back closes down suddenly into a hallway. The retail wall reminds me of my families’ deli in Vail where we let the merchandise get out of control, maybe it works for them.

Some of the central tables incorporate high backed bench seats and curve slightly. These are good for creating a private space at the table but also cut off some of the openness of the room.

The bar seems unfinished with bottles and various storage bins sitting near the open end. This made me hesitate from sitting there as I was unsure if they were doing prep work or something else.

The biggest curiosity is the sudden hallway which occurs about 25 feet into the place. Two doors are easily spotted on the right side and there is a glass wall facing the front door through which you can see that the first side door leads to a meeting room of sorts. After venturing down to the second door I find a large table with chairs and a flat screen TV on the wall at one end. So meeting rooms must be a decent part of their business, or that is the hope anyway, as these are hard walled rooms that cannot be opened to incorporate the rest of the restaurant.

The website is very sharp looking and professionally done. However it is little more than a brochure for the store and incorporates only one form of user interaction: a mailing list form on the Contact Us Page. The events page should incorporate an actual calendar, I suggest looking at Google’s tool which can be incorporated into the site. Tying into a social network like Myspace and Facebook would cost nothing, creates free publicity and allows you to grow a membership list. They are hosted on a shared server with about 1500 other sites which keeps the cost down, but ensures various hiccups in service. Obviously having a blog is a no brainer and could incorporate so many topics and create conversation. All of this is with the goal of getting people to come back to the site again and again because there is always something new to check out. It also ties into their life via Social Network or newsreader.

Overall I enjoyed the UTL and will return again. The service was fast and responsive, the food was excellent, and the setting was relaxing and pleasant.

My gripes are the non-intuitiveness of the teapot, the large amount of merchandise, the unfinished bar, the closed rooms, and the price. More than $8 for a small pot of tea and a scone is a premium I can only get away with once a week at the most. From looking over the rest of the menu this looks like a consistent situation which is fine but will limit how often I can attend. Oh yeah and no free WiFi. =(

Tea is making a big push right now and the Urban Tea Loft is doing a great job of catching the trend. Friday and Saturday nights there is live music starting at 7pm, so grab your gal or guy and check it out.

Phoenix New Times Review