Life is tricky stuff. You don’t want to obsess about what can go wrong, but you also don’t want to take it for granted, be oblivious to what’s going on around you and have life just blur by.
It’s precious stuff, folks.
Several things have triggered this week’s round of self-therapy. One is the recent flurry of bad health news surrounding some of the famous broadcast folks in our area.
You know how you think, “Oh, that was a couple of years ago, maybe five at the most.” Then, I look to see when radio icon Bob Rivers retired from broadcasting and it was 2014. Seriously? 8 years ago? My wife and I were lucky enough to grab an in-studio spot to witness the last broadcast up close, as Bob and his wife Lisa sold their estate out in North Bend and headed to the northeast, where they came from. They settled down on a pretty cool place in Vermont and Bob, among other things, took up the hobby of making maple syrup. Damn fine, maple syrup, I might add, as I bought a couple of jugs of this year’s harvest following some Facebook posts about the process. You can order some right here.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, Bob dropped this bomb on his blog. He’s in a fight for his life, so that means he’s going to be taking some time off from his blog and podcast, to put up the good fight. In his words, “It’s serious. And there are three forks this journey can take. One may be brief, nuff said. The middle fork, and most likely, as I’m an excellent candidate for surgery, brings me back to a good quality of life for at least a few years. The third fork in this path has led me to two patients from the same medical team as me, alive and kicking in their 80’s.”
It’s just not fair.
Another Seattle radio guy who came from a famous role on a 70s TV series, Danny Bonaduce, has also taken leave from his morning show at KZOK. After his “Partridge Family” days, Danny went to into radio and had settled down in Seattle for the past 11 years. However, a couple of Fridays back, he announced he was going to be taking a medical leave for an undisclosed illness. His sister described it as a “mystery illness.”
And it was just last October that Channel 13 Meteorologist M.J. McDermott handed off the reigns of her weather duties to a friend of mine, Brian MacMillan. I chatted with M.J. about her future plans and she was so excited to be able to retire and pursue some of her other dreams. You can hear my interview with her here.
But a mere six months after hanging up her thermometer, M.J. got her bad medical news. She was diagnosed with Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma, Stage 1, and has started undergoing treatments. Not in her retirement game plan.
Now, all of the above folks and yours truly are part of fast-growing 60+ club and I’ve been encouraging people to pass along their prayers and positive thoughts as their beliefs dictate. When you get into this age category, it’s amazing how many friends and family you start hearing about and the unfortunate health woes that stalk them.
It goes back to my original thought–life is tricky. Hearing about all three of these brothers and sisters in broadcasting experiencing these health problems is just one more reminder of our frailty; but we just don’t want to think about that all the time. I mean, why spend what time you do have left worrying about how it will someday be gone?
I’ve known about their health news for a while. What I didn’t know about until this morning was the diagnosis this young student I don’t even know received this past week that just grabbed my heart. We were all in her position at one time–excited to head out into the working world, starting a life, raising a family….all those regular life challenges that are tough enough. But then you get slapped with a thing like this.
Life shouldn’t be a battle, but for far too many of us, it becomes one, when we least expect it. And it’s even more cruel when it happens to someone in their 20s, just starting out.
I’d say the bulk of us all that drive to get that next promotion, upgrade to a nicer car or home, go on the vacation that we’ve always dreamed of taking. These days, I find that what I’m trying to do in my own world is take it all one day on a time, treat every day as the precious gift it is, and be grateful for what I don’t have.
If you need examples of those things, go back to the top of the page.
Keep fighting, Maddie. Godspeed to everyone having to alter their life plan to deal with bad health news.
And if that doesn’t include you, there’s the first thing you should be grateful for every time you wake up.
Oh, sure, I probably should have put something in the title that let people know this was intended for our news providers to read–especially radio and TV–but they wouldn’t bother anyway. They know better.
For starters, you’re reading something right now that was written by a news junkie. A guy consumed with what’s going on in the city, the nation and the world. I need to know everything that’s happening, especially for my hobby of writing jokes. For the longest time, I had my DVR to catch a 5 o’clock local news, and then a 5:30pm National News broadcast. My choice for quite a while was the #1 most watched newscast, ABC News with David Muir.
But that has now been deprogrammed from my VCR.
If you care for my opinion and maybe even be open to hearing my reasons for being done with that daily routine, here we go:
It’s old news. For starters, the evening news used to be a nice collection of everything that happened in the day, for those of us who were too busy with life or work or family to try to catch one of the newscasts on the radio or TV. We’re no longer dependent on that. If you care, you receive a constant stream of information 24 hours a day on your phone, tablet or computer. By the time 5pm rolls around, the local news may contain a new story or two, but it’s usually a rehash of what we heard the day before.
It’s bad news. I gotta say, locally, FOX 13 does a nice job of telling me things I didn’t know. Oh, they include the bad stuff, but the “bad stuff/new stuff” ratio is much better there. The rest of the locals all showcase the latest shootings or the continuing COVID saga. Add to that having a spouse that has hit the wall on negative news coverage and, if I am going to try and watch a newscast, I do it later in the evening after she’s gone to bed. And of course, by then, its old news.
It’s repetitive news. I know its a tricky balance between telling people actual news, and repeating something they may have missed, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the same b-roll from the day before as I’m being told this is ‘breaking news’.
Crying Wolf and not Blitzer. As much as I enjoy ABC’s coverage, the hype has worn thing. Watch the opening of “World News Tonight” and you’ll, “Breaking as we just come on the air”, “Breaking news” or “This just happened….” Rarely true. And again, unless its a seriously new breaking story, west coast viewers are getting a newscast 3 hours old.
Now there’s News on Demand. For breaking news about major stories, I keep an eye on the Drudge Report and CNN. If I’m sitting at my computer, I can just say to my Amazon Echo, “Alexa, play ABC headline news” and if the missiles have actually been launched, they’ll tell me. Anytime I want.
So, what’s the answer? I truly don’t know and wonder if the “Evening News” is just an outdated model that will eventually go the way of the local daily newspaper?
Now, I know I’m about the farthest you can get from a ‘typical’ viewer. I get up at 4:45am every morning to write for Radio-Online, a radio show prep service for disc jockeys. Yes, I’m writing up stories about news items that won’t be used on the air for another 24 hours, but that’s why I write up a salad of stories and news items that, when you hear them, you’d say, “Dang, I didn’t know that!” Plus, that makes the radio listener think more highly of the voice passing along these stories, like, “Boy, they sure know everything that’s going on!”
So, when I’ve fed my last Radio-Online tidbit of information, it’s around 9am. When things happen during the day, I’ll add them to the feed, so that tomorrow morning, there’s as current a collection of information as possible.
Perhaps the TV evening news is hanging on thanks to a dwindling population. If you watch who the advertisers are during the newscast, you can see they skew older and disease-ridden. Really, how many medical disclaimers can you take in a 30-minute period?
Legends have occupied that space in American homes over the years: Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters, Huntley/Brinkley, Peter Jennings, oh, and Frank Reynolds. The technology was different back then. A nightly newscast was the only place you could get a roundup of what happened during the day. These days, the evening news best serves the graveyard shift worker who slept until 4 and wakes up to watch while eating a bowl of cereal.
I used to watch for nostalgia’s sake, but I’ve reached the point where I’m willing to let it go.
Plus, it allows me to get caught up on “Barry.”
It’s all about getting the most out of your available time.
That includes at least 15 years in Bothell and another 10 in Ballard. So, I’ve got a combined 25 years’ worth of farting around and making smart-Alec remarks about what goes on before me as the parade passes me by.
In Bothell, my co-hosts over the years have included Joyce Goedeke, Joy Johnston, Judge Michelle Gehlsen, Dr. Eric Murray, and Bothell Civic Leader Mike Rue. While behind the mike in Ballard, I’ve hung out with Dori Monson, M.J. McDermott, Karen Pauley and Bjorn Nalum. Yeah, you can tell by the rotating names, I’m hard to get along with.
However, several weeks ago, I got the email that Bothell no longer needed my services and after a decade of doing the play-by-play for the city cable channel, I was officially retired. That’s fine. Time moves on and because of COVID, it’s been three years since the last time I had done a parade. I get it.
Now, normally, the place where I broadcast in Ballard over the loudspeakers to the crowd is where the judges make their decisions on who wins which awards, and it is THE place to be at the Syttende Mai Parade. But this year, things took a turn.
I was informed that my co-host of the past couple of years for the 17th of May parade was not going to be able to make it this year. Then, I was told the judges would no longer be based at my broadcast location, but rather an earlier stop along the parade route. So, it would be just me, on my own, from a new location in Ballard known as Bergen Place Park–I was still honored to be able to do it, but needless to say, my enthusiasm was dampened.
Then, I got an idea. A real Norwegian that I have a great rapport with, Ozzie Kvithammer, could be my new co-host. Slip him a couple of Aquavits and God knows what could come out of his mouth. He agreed, so brace yourself.
If you are planning to head down to Ballard for the big parade on the 17th of May, by all means, get within earshot of our broadcast to the crowd at 20th & Market and I promise, we’ll be at least entertaining. If nothing else, you’ll want to say you were there when we actually said THAT over the loudspeakers. The streets start packing in there around 4pm, the parade steps off at 6pm.
I’m down to just one parade, but I’m looking very forward to making this one really count.
For the bulk of my life, I have been running a marathon with no finish line. If we were to sit down together and try to figure out what makes me tick, what keeps me going, I would probably point out that I have already (I think) determined that during a session with myself.
For the majority of my life, I have felt like the clock is ticking. None of us know how much time we get, but I just want to make sure I get in everything I want to do before the timer goes off. The problem with that is that as I check things off the top of the list, I keep adding more items to the bottom. You see how this works.
The result is a constant need to keep going, to push, to drive myself. Having a hand-written list to the right of this keyboard so that when I get another thing done, I cross it off. When I get too many things crossed off, I start a new list, importing the tasks still left to do from the old list. It’s the only way I keep it all straight.
But what I’ve noticed happening is that some of the things that make up my work week are seriously losing their importance to me. Things I feel I have to do, or really should keep doing, I’m getting dangerously close to pulling the plug.
It must be part of that mental adjustment that occurs in your brain when days of playing with grandkids or going wine tasting or sneaking away for the weekend have a much greater importance in your life. You realize that those are the things that make you happy, that reduce the stress in your life and thus, help extend that precious life of yours.
I remember when my broadcast buddy Larry Nelson was forcibly retired from KOMO radio. It was basically a surprise going away party–“Surprise! You’re going away.” In the months and years that followed, as I continued to feel that radio addiction, I would talk about him coming back to another station, returning to Seattle morning radio and showing the bastards at KOMO and, it just wasn’t there. It wasn’t that he was defeated, he was just content with those things that retirement offer–lunches with friends, golf, trips to Mexico, grandkids. I just couldn’t understand how he could let radio go.
Lar, I get it now. I really, really get it.
For the time being, I’m going to continue doing my little morning show on KRKO because it helps keep my toe in radio, but I can feel it coming on. This September, it will have been four years that I went back on the air. I’m hoping to make it that far. But I was reminded once again over the weekend with some Easter Egg hunts and just watching a new generation learn and realize all those things I went through years ago, that’s the real-life stuff we should be taking in and enjoying.
I’m pretty sure in my final moments on earth, I won’t be thinking about that one more morning show I could have done. It’ll be the voice of a young granddaughter looking at me and calling me ‘Grandpa Tim’ and remembering back when she was that young. That was just one of the great moments from this past weekend.
In the meantime, I start to slide into the landing pattern, with a goal of touching down into retirement in three short years. Time flies by as it is, so I know that will be there before you know it. And, again, my retirement is definitely going to be a hybrid of things, with some of the stuff I’m doing now, but also thinning out the herd of responsibilities to only include the fun stuff. The things that I would do whether I was getting paid or not. I’m not there yet, but man, I feel it coming on!
Besides being therapeutic and cathartic, one of the driving purposes for me sitting down each week for the past couple of decades and sharing something that passed through my brain is to share an experience that might benefit you in the future.
I arrived on Ballard Avenue in front of the restaurant, grabbed a spot and went to pay for an hour with the city’s wonderful Pay by Phone app. I’ve used it often and it really does make it really easy to pay for parking. And their rates aren’t that bad. 75-cents here, 50-cents there.
But when I tried to pay, I got this note of rejection.
And, of course, fearing I might need proof of this, I took a picture of it.
I tried again. Again. And again. Same message.
Well, by this time, the meeting was about to begin, so since they weren’t willing to take my money, i went into Skäl.
When I emerged 45 minutes later, there it was. Tucked under my windshield wiper, a parking ticket.
Yes, you read right. $44 worth of parking ticket. Pretty much $1 a minute while I was in there.
On the back side of the ticket, was a place to let them know you wanted to contest it and where to mail it. Oh, absolutely. I put together an explanation letter, said I wanted to fight it in court and off in the mail it went.
Several days later, I received a note back from them that I could set up a court date or write up a one-page letter contesting the citation which would mean I’d accept whatever the magistrate decided.
I chose option B and popped that in the mail and awaited my fate.
Here’s what the magistrate sent back to me:
As you can see, I am “responsible for the above committed charge.” Even though their app wasn’t working, I was supposed to “move the vehicle to another spot.” It wasn’t the spot that was the problem, it was the app.
So, guilty…but no fine and it doesn’t appear on my driving record. Still, it was the cost of about an hour of my time and two stamps to get to the zero fine. However, to me, it was well worth it.
To summarize the life lessons here:
If you’re paying by app, and the app won’t accept your payment, move to another spot. Maybe it will work there.
Or, you can go my route and hope to get that first-time pass. If you’ve got the time and ambition.
Or, just stay at home. Stop being involved in so many things and open a beer.
So, for years, I’ve been using an Alaska Airlines card to rack up mile so that, whenever we travel, we can get some ridiculously cheap airfares.
And it’s worked great–until a pandemic came along. Then we stopped traveling. So, with almost 100,000 miles waiting to be used, I thought I’d take advantage of Costco’s offer of switching to their VISA card, which would give me rewards cash back.
Oh, I’ve been using this for everything. Xfinity bill? Pay it with the Costco Citi card, then immediately pay the card off. Basically, use it like a debit card, but just make sure to pay it off right away.
I figured my rewards would come to me like the previous Executive Member Rewards and last year, I received a check for $177-ish, which was a kick back on my in-store purchases at Costco. I even lost that check at the store and had to ask for a replacement, which they sent in the mail a couple of weeks later.
I thought that was the end of it.
But then at the end of last year, I got this email that looked about as spammy as they get.
Oh, sure. Who do you think you’re dealing with here, pal? I already got my rebate check, fools. And I’ve never received anything in the $400 club. And what’s with the info4.citi.com address? Oh, I’m not falling for that one.
A week later, the aforementioned rebate check appeared in my inbox:
Uh, well, it looks real. But I don’t have time to deal with this right now. So, I devised a plan: print it out, take it to Costco at some point and see what they have to say about it.
Well, that was in early January. As readers of this blog know, that’s when my world got turned upside down and our downstairs flooded, wiping it all out. I had printed out the coupon and it sat behind my laptop until this past week, when I was heading north to visit a friend. I thought, this is the perfect occasion to just hop into customer service, ask if it’s real and be on my way.
I walked into the Shoreline location, the guy asked me to step forward and I told him the story of this spam-looking coupon. He playfully said, “Oh, one of these,” took it from my out-stretched hand and tucked it underneath the cash in his open till. He continued his dry delivery with someone like, “Yeah, I’d just forget about it, if I were you. I’ll take care of it.”
He then handed me a quarter.
As I stood there wondering what was going on, he grabbed a chunk of bills from his till and started counting out: “20, 40, 60, 80, 100…..” and so on, until he had counted out $438 to go with my new quarter.
“It’s real?” I asked. He replied, “Yup!” I told him, “If I could get through this glass, I’d hug you.”
The spam-looking coupon was authentic. The measly 3% kickback grew to quite the size by using the card to pay for almost everything over the year.
But I couldn’t help but wonder how many other people saw that email come in, viewed it as spam, and never collected their bonus? I wonder if CITI Bank is counting on that happening?
It’s why I felt compelled to tell you about it. I mean, seriously, I almost threw the darn thing out because it wouldn’t have been worth the hassle or embarrassment to take it into Costco and ask.
Search your inbox in late December and early January for CITI, Rewards or Costco and see what shows up. I can’t believe I almost tossed away $400 because of how weary I am about receiving spam. I was this close to being at the bus station when my ship came in.
Well, good news and bad news for the Academy Awards this year.
Ratings were up by 5-million people compared to last year. I haven’t heard people talking about what happened at the Oscars like this in years.
Of course, back in my day, they were more civil about it. The year Marlon Brando refused to accept his Oscar, he sent a Native American woman in his place, Sacheen Littlefeather, to refuse to accept his award for “The Godfather.”
George C. Scott also refused one for his work in “Patton” and while producer Frank McCarthy accepted the award the night of the show, he returned it to the Academy the next day, per Scott’s request.
And no one was assaulted.
It’s been amazing to see the split of opinions of what happened Sunday night. You’d think, a guy walks up on stage, strikes someone and walks away shouting profanities to him on international television. Should be pretty one-sided. Not in this day and age. There are two distinct sides to every friggin’ issue that comes along and this was no exception.
There are those who feel that kind of response was completely wrong, sets a bad precedent, was uncalled for, degraded the institution and should be dealt with harshly.
Then there are those who say he stood up for his wife and chivalry is still alive.
I believe when you get to the upper echelon of Hollywood like those involved, you lose all kinds of common sense. Just ask Will Smith’s gardener’s personal masseuse’s executive chef.
OK, so the whole thing taught me a new word: alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that can result in hair loss. Oh, I knew she had something that had caused hair loss. Hey, we’ve all got our problems and Jada had embraced her condition many times before in the private confines of social media. Among the quotes in a recent post on TikTok: “I don’t give two craps about what people think about this bald head of mine. Cuz guess what? I love it.”
So, Chris Rock ad-libbed the line (it wasn’t in rehearsals), Will Smith laughed and then turned to his wife, who wasn’t amused and the rest is history.
OK, now that’s the review of the main story. Others were upset about the “In Memoriam” collection and the fact that it didn’t include Ed Asner and Bob Saget. Others got bent about a bit where Amy Schumer referred to Kristen Dunst as “a seat filler.” As if she didn’t recognize her, or was disrespecting her. (Kristen was in the gag)
There was something to upset everyone.
However, one of the bits puzzled me more than upset me. We’ve just come through a recent purge of tearing apart actors and careers because they had been closet letches. The creators of the “Casting Couch” finally got their comeuppance, and a spotlight was cast on the weasels and low-life’s that had preyed on women over the years.
I could have sworn that the lesson was received well, there was a new morality in town and we would no longer degrade people, of either gender, ever again.
And then this happened.
Funny? I’d give it mildly humorous. Love Regina Hall. Nice of everyone (except Will Smith) to play along. These days, when I watch older TV shows and movies, I cringe when I see some of the things that we laughed at back then. There are countless incidents of “Oh, they’d never get away with that today.”
While everyone knew Regina wasn’t going to take them backstage and give one of them “a deep PCR test” and she felt up a couple of them, imagine that bit being played out with the genders reversed? It would have been Will Smith’s dream. Everyone would have been talking about that bit, and maybe by the time he slapped Chris, we would have been more focused on the outrageous, sexist bit they dared to put on the Oscars.
In the skit, in case you haven’t watch the video, among the things Regina said was going to happen when she went backstage with them:
Just ake off your mask…and your clothes….
Then I’m going to swab the back of your mouth with my tongue….
And we’ll do some other freaky stuff which I’ll record for Academy protocol.
Oh, I’m not mad about this in the least. I was just frankly, a bit in shock. It’s just illogical in the aftermath of #metoo.
Or, maybe I’m over-reacting and should just imagine the laughs Harvey Weinstein could have had with that bit.
With a wife out of the country, I decided to do some things I’ve been meaning to do for a while. Last Wednesday, I went up on a school night to Whidbey Island to have dinner with some longtime friends I just hadn’t seen in a while.
On Friday, I tried out the new Amazon Fresh store that opened near our home.
And over the weekend, I semi-spontaneously decided to head over to Walla Walla and do some wine-tasting. You can never go wrong there and it had been at least a decade since my last visit. As far as the tasting went, I made some amazing discoveries and brought back quite a collection.
But surrounding the delicious tastings was a trip down and back through the Yakima Valley. Since you have nothing to do but think as you drive along the highway, I started reflecting on that area and the many memories associated with the valley.
Some good, some bad.
Yakima is where this guy landed after graduating from the University of Washington with a Communications degree, wanting to put it to work in radio. I had looked in the Washington State Association of Broadcaster want ads, saw there was opening in Yakima at a station called KQOT and set up an interview.
It was a long, nervous drive as I hoped they would see the good in me and hire me for my first professional radio job. After chatting with the business manager and the owner for a while, they said, “Let’s hear how you sound.” We walked into the control room, he tapped the disc jockey on the air on the shoulder, told him to get up and I was instructed to do a show. Apparently, it was their practice when auditioning talent, they would set them down in front of the microphone and then go out and drive around, listening to them on the radio.
I was hired. $350 a month to start, bumped up to $375 if I “worked out.”
I spent a total of less than three years in the Yakima radio market, but those were three very life-eventful years..
I reconnected with an aunt, uncle and some cousins that I hadn’t seen in years down in Wapato, just to the south. They had a mobile home for rent on their peach orchard for $175 a month. OK, there was half my paycheck. Shortly after moving over, my college sweetheart came over for a visit. She missed me. But I had decided it was just too early to settle down with someone, that we needed to break up. I was a jerk to her all weekend and she left knowing that we were over. Of all the things I carry with me through this life, how I handled that still haunts me.
So, let’s see. I got to be a disc jockey, do high school dances, do a ton of radio production and copywriting. Did some serial dating, had a stalker. (that’s a whole blog in itself) On the personal side, I eventually met someone, fell in love and got married immediately prior to getting a call from Larry Nelson at KOMO radio in Seattle to come ever there and be his producer.
Yeah, in less than three years, a whole hell of a lot happened.
On my way down to the Walla Walla wine-tasting trip, I arranged to meet up with Brady Layman, who was the seasoned veteran of KQOT when I first went to work there. He was now living in the Tri-Cities and reminded me that, as a child, he had polio. It had come back to bite him again as he was now wheelchair bound. We reminisced about those KQOT days: the people, the crazy promotions, the River Floats, etc. I asked about a couple of the old gang that we used to hang around with. One had a heart transplant and was now living in Spokane. The other had a tragic end with a messy divorce that drove him to take his own life. But even though that was 45 years ago, we both remembered details that triggered the other to remember something else, and it was just a wonderful stroll down memory lane.
After posting some pictures of day 1 of wine tasting, one of my kids’ former teachers from Bothell High School reached out and said, “You’re here? Let’s wine-taste tomorrow!” So, an extra stop was added to my eastern Washington tour and Shelly Crump & I managed to sip and reminisce in the early hours of that Sunday.
Then it was on the road again, this time to Terrace Heights, east of Yakima. Gary Myhre and I had a blast together during my time at both KQOT and KMWX. He was supposed to buy KQOT and we were going to rule the valley but the deal went south, he went across town and I went with him. If you search these blogs, he’s come up before so I won’t repeat stories, but we had so much fun at those stations. He’s always been so complimentary of what I do, so it was always nice to have a fan. And here we are, 40+ years removed from those days and when we get together, it seems like it was just yesterday.
By the way, weird coincidence—both Gary and Brady married women named Peggy.
My next stop was with the one remaining relative in the area, Bonnie, who was on that peach orchard with my aunt & uncle all those years ago. Another person I’ve previously blogged about with a fascinating story, but this was just a check-in to see how she was doing since losing her partner two years ago. It obviously still hurt. We had a great catchup and then I headed home.
I wanted to drive by that peach orchard and see if that mobile home was still there, but just ran out of time. To me, I’m just amazed when I actually think of how many life-shaping events took place during my 34 months in the Yakima Valley. I’m sure if we ever get together and you start me on that stretch of time, several dozen wild stories will come to mind.
Just like with Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”, not all ghosts are bad and some are there to help us understand our lives even more. I guess if I’m ever feeling like I’ve got everything figured out, all I need to do is head east of the mountains and return to the Valley of the Ghosts.
Yeah, there are a LOT of stories that didn’t come to mind during this time through.
We’re all on this journey together and whenever I come across a life hack that is life changing, I feel compelled to pass it along.
My latest discovery occurred during the much-dreaded “Spring Ahead” weekend, which occurs during the shortest weekend of the year. Once again, we were forced to move our clocks ahead an hour to please the ghost of Ben Franklin and appease farmers who lived over 100 years ago.
This year, the time change was scheduled for the same weekend that I was invited to the wedding of a good friend, Corey Newton. He was marrying the love of his life and I was not going to miss it, so on Saturday morning, we flew down to Arizona, caught the wedding and reception, saw a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen in a while, went to bed, woke up and flew back home to Seattle.
Besides being an incredible wedding, It was the most painless time-switch ever.
You see, when we left Seattle on Saturday, we were still on Standard time. When we landed in Arizona shortly before noon, we had arrived in a state that ditched the time change years ago. They are in the Mountain Standard Time Zone, or Seattle’s version of “Daylight Saving Time” year ’round.
Technically, we “lost an hour” during the flight. But who knew? On paper, it was a 4-hour flight but in fact, was actually a 3-hour flight. Think about it–when you’re on an airline, you really can’t be a good judge of time. I’ve been on 2-hour flights that seem like 5 hours, and 8-hour flights that seemed like 4. Airline flights are a lot like movies: when you check your watch, they’ve gone on too long.
In this case, I spent the three hours in flight doing some work on my laptop and then catching a short movie. The next thing we know, we’re landing in Arizona. From that point, until the time we flew home, there was no time change. We woke up Sunday morning in the same time zone in which we landed, and Seattle adjusted their clocks while we were gone.
Even my wife, who is one of the time change’s biggest critics, barely talked about it. I figure if it makes her life easier, it may just justify going on an Arizona trip every second weekend of March.
As for what we’re going to do in the fall when we return to standard time, I’m sure if there’s an easier way to do that. I guess I could try to talk her into a trip to Alaska, but that could be tricky. I’ll work on that angle.
But in the meantime, next year for “Spring Ahead” weekend, may I offer up Life Hack #189: When it’s time to “Spring Ahead”, Go to Arizona.
I’d like to try and give those with far less living experience a scouting report so that you have a better idea of what lies ahead when you blink and it’s suddenly 50 years later.
Eventually, the world changes so much around you that there comes a day where you feel like an alien visiting another planet.
That may sound a bit over-dramatic, but let me provide some examples.
The planet Earth I grew up in is vastly different than what today’s kids are experiencing. Back in my day, when you picked up the phone to make a call, there was a cord attached to the wall-mounted base of that phone. And if you heard people talking, it was due to the fact they were using the party-line at the time and you had to check back later to see if that line was available. Oh, and long distance you had to use sparingly, because back then, that was an extra cost. I remember when I was 18 and went away to college, my first month’s phone bill was $118 because I spent so much time on the phone with my girlfriend back home in Torrance.
During my “Wonder Years”, televisions did not have remotes. You had to watch what was on or get up off your keister and change the channels, and when you did, it clicked. And we only had a total of 6 stations to choose from. Somehow, we survived.
There were no copy machines, there were mimeograph machines, with a cylinder that had to be refilled with a cheap-high fluid and you hand-cranked it to make blue-scale duplicates.
Not every game of every sport was on a TV channel somewhere. During the 1960s, most of the Dodger games were NOT on television, so I spent an awful lot of evenings listening to Vin Scully do the play-by-play of my team. When I was 8, they won the World Series–sweeping the Yankees four straight. In ’65, they lost the first two games at home against the Minnesota Twins, and then managed to pull out the series in 7 games. The next year, however, they ran into the dominant pitching of the Baltimore Orioles, who swept them in four games.
But think about that–my favorite Major League Baseball team went 3 of those four seasons to the World Series. It was just assumed they would go, if not this year, then next. Here in Seattle, we have generations of kids who have grown up, never knowing that thrill.
We not only had the Popsicle Man, but also the Helms Bakery truck driving up and down the streets in our area. I could have cared less about the bread, but the Helms guy DID sell baseball cards. At a stage of my life when I couldn’t just run down to the store to buy them, the Helms guy had the goods. I think it started at 10-cents a pack and that included 10 cards and a stick of gum you could have used to pry open a window. Thank God my mom was not among those who threw out their kids’ seemingly worthless collection.
My diet of cartoons included all the Warner Brothers “Looney Toons”, before the days of editing out anything that resembled violence. The rest of my gang included, “Rocky & Bullwinkle”, “Beany & Cecil”, “Felix the Cat”, “Astro Boy”, “Gumby” and Sunday morning’s before heading off to church, I’d try to sneak in an episode or two of “Davey and Goliath”–which used the Gumby-style early attempts at Claymation animation.
Most of those characters are confined to my memory bank, with an occasional sighting whenever I get nostalgic about my childhood.
Speaking of nostalgia, while some may view it as a sentiment waste of time, a new study claims that looking at nostalgia actually triggers something in the brain that helps relieve pain. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling better.
So yes, the world I grew up in was quite a differently. What’s interesting to me is that, in comparison to all that kids have today, I never noticed that I was missing things. In fact, I had everything I needed.
It was a very simple time. I mean, we considered Tang a major breakthrough in space age technology. So, when I compare that era of my life to today’s extremely complicated world, you can see why I almost feel like I was raised on another planet.
OK, I have a quirky fondness. I love that all the days of February match up with most of the days in March. If the 1st of February was on a Tuesday, in March that will be true as well.
Then I got to thinking—what if we made every month of the year just 28 days long? Think about it–over time, if someone said the 16th, then you’d know over time that it had to be a Wednesday.
Naturally the next step is, uh, Tim, what about the remaining days of the year? I went that direction and multiplied 28 times 12 months and that gave me 336. Subtract that from 365, the number of days in a typical year, and you get…..29!
This is where my plan kicks in.
So, we have a dozen 28-day months of the year, January through December…and then welcome the 13th month which, because I thought of this, becomes the 29-day month of Timvember.
Now, the cool thing about Timvember is that we call get it off. All 29 days. I mean, c’mon, we’ve already put in a full year. We deserve a month off. And, of course, for the leap years, Timvember would be 30 days long.
Now, I’m sure there are some details to work out, but bottom line:
We’d get in 12 months of a calendar year.
Still enjoying all the pre-established holidays.
I’m trying to figure out the downside.
Look, I’m the idea guy. Explain to me why this isn’t a great idea. I’m sure they called Julius Caesar crazy for redefining the calendar, but sometimes it takes a leader to make big things like this happen.
Wait a minute–the Ides of March are coming up. And I just booked a lunch with a friend of mine, Frank Brutus on the 15th.
Uh, I’d like to withdraw my proposal and go back to the quiet life I’ve grown to know.
After that long buildup with the expected result, Russia has invaded Ukraine. Who could have predicted that?
What you could see coming is the flood of traditional responses that Americans have developed from an assortment of tragedies over the years. Hashtags, Facebook profile pictures with an added graphic (in this case, the Ukranian flag), an industrial strength bombardment of ‘thoughts and prayers’, and so on. All well-intentioned efforts, but does it really help –oh, maybe we feel better about ourselves, but does it do anything to help Ukraine or punish Putin? Do you really imagine Putin flying through his Facebook feed and saying to himself, “Wow, maybe I screwed up?”
The steps our government and others are taking seem to be inflicting some economic pain. We’re closing air space to Russian airlines, freezing assets, sports events with Russian teams are being canceled, the ruble is plummeting in value and the Russian government has bumped up the interest rate to 20% with more increases on the way.
I do have questions for our leaders, like, “If we do sanctions and don’t the results we hoped for, then imposed more sanctions and then more sanctions after that, why didn’t we do all those sanctions at once at the beginning?” Sanctions take time to have an effect. Ukraine is out of time and has Russian soldiers, tanks and fighter jets attacking it right now. Things that will be painful for Russia a month from now seem like too little, too late.
Now, those are government efforts. What I want to know as a guy living in Seattle, Washington, what can I do that will actually make a difference? Something that will help Ukraine, inflict pain to the Russian government or both.
A natural instinct would be, “Well, I’ll show those Ruskies–I’ll just give up vodka!” Here’s why that won’t work.
Besides, I don’t drink vodka. (got sick on it once back in college) However, should Scotland ever decide to invade a country, I’ve got my economic hammer standing by.
Not being able to do anything substantial or meaningful is frustrating. I’m sure lots of people would like to financially fight the evil Putin empire, but in this day and age, Google “Aid Ukraine” and you’ll likely be aimed at a scam charity operated by long-time arch enemy Boris Badanov.
This is the first blog I’ve written in a long time asking you for help. I welcome all responses. I’m looking for what you know, what you personally can share. Oh, I’ve already Googled, “How can I help Ukraine?”
Earlier this year, I started noticing these weird posts by people on my Facebook feed. Something like this
⬜🟨⬜⬜🟨 🟨🟨⬜🟨🟨 🟨🟨⬜🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩
At first, I wasn’t sure if my computer monitor was going out, or if the ‘Ruskies were trying to pass along a secret message to their spies here using a special kind of code.
Eventually, I learned that it was a result you’d get when playing the online word guessing game, Wordle.
Wanting to stay on top of social trends, I thought I would investigate. I played the game, got a kick out of it and most days when I get up, it’s one of the first things I do. (after making coffee and playing Jeopardy with Alexa)
Since you’re only allowed to play it once a day, it helps you from getting addicted and wasting a lot of time with it. I’ve been stumped a couple of times and then kicked myself for not being able to figure it out.
But then, Wordle-gate came along.
Around a month ago, the New York Times bought the game and fears immediately surfaced that they would start charging for this daily challenge. Was that the Old Gray Lady’s evil plan?
Well, not yet. But what some people were talking about online is that since the Times bought it, the puzzles have been getting harder. At first, I laughed it off as just a bunch of whining players who were stumped a few too many times. But then, last Sunday’s word made me re-think my position.
The word of the day? “Tacit“
And I wasn’t the only one to notice that particular word. Now known among loyalists as “Word 246”, people were pretty ticked about that choice.
Be honest–when was the last time you used that word?
Maybe when you were drunk, and slurred the sentence, “I’ll have to ask it”, which sounded more like “I’ll have tacit.”
Or, maybe you had an upset stomach and remarked, “I’m dealing with tacit indigestion.”
What exactly does ‘tacit’ mean? The dictionary tells us that means, “understood or implied without being stated.” Use it in a sentence? “Your silence may be taken to mean tacit agreement.”
Oh, yeah, I say that all the time.
I have never heard of that word before in my life. I’ve never used it and I can pretty much promise I’ll never use it in my remaining days. Why? Because if I did, I would have to explain what I just said.
So, are the new owners of Wordle trying to build up our vocabularies? I already have Reader’s Digest for that. That’s not why I play the game and if they’re going to start tossing me curve balls like tacit and have me guessing at words I’ve never heard of before, well, then, two can play at that game.
On Sunday, when I had figured out the ‘acit’ parts of the word and was only letter shy of nailing it, I did what every red-blooded Wordle player would do. I fired up Google and asked, “Words that have acit” in them.
Since there was only one possibility, I entered the missing ‘t’ and all was right with the world. Take that, Wordle.
It’s the first time I’ve resorted to this because I do want to keep adding wrinkles to my gray matter. I’ve solved some of the puzzles in 3 guesses, while others took me the full six guesses with the “Whew” comment from Wordle as I guessed correctly on my last try.
For now, I’ll keep playing Wordle. If you haven’t tried it out yet, do that here.
And one other hack that I stumbled across. Play the game on your phone first (a different IP address) and since the world is playing the same word that day, learn what it is on your phone, then guess it with one guess on your computer. Impress your friends. Influence your enemies.
What does the future hold for the game of Wordle? I don’t know, but if I get a chance to chat with the future, I’ll have tacit.
I guess when it comes to that, I’m a pretty lucky guy.
It’s not the first time I went back to the home I grew up in; to that blue collar street in Torrance, California, where my parents bought a home back in 1952-ish and raised a family.
But, for some reason, this time around really tugged on the memory strings.
Yeah, Mom & Dad bought that little 1200 square foot, 3-bedroom rambler in a brand-new development that was going into a field in this fast-growing suburb of Los Angeles. The story goes that they initially only had the choice of one home, the last one unsold, which was right on the busy street to the west. But then, a sale fell through on a home in the middle of the block and they purchased it with dad’s G.I. bill rate, for $11,9000. I remember as a kid, walking down the street to the Bank of America with their final house payment in hand. I want to say their monthly nut was around $86 a month.
I was the first to arrive, followed by two sisters who shared the room down the hall until I went off to college. Then, they finally got to have their own room. It’s so funny to go back now and realize how small things really are. Yet, at the time, it was all the house we needed.
The backyard, which as a child seemed huge, was probably only around 800 square feet. But it was where we played in the wading pool, ran around with the family dog, posed for pictures for the home movie camera and, again, it was all the backyard we needed.
Mom is just one of two people left in that neighborhood from when I grew up there. As my sister Debbie pointed out during this visit, as troublesome kids go, we were a pretty mild lot. She couldn’t resist bringing up the time I got caught sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night. “Snuck out? Through the window?”, mom remarked. “It’s a good thing you didn’t get hurt!” “Uh, mom,” Debbie continued, “he was sneaking out to go visit Bette, the neighbor girl across the street.” Thanks a lot, Deb.
But it was true, I made a couple of successful reconnaissance visits during the middle of the night, until one time I was caught. You would have thought I had committed mass murder, and that bust abruptly ended our 2am rendezvouses.
Yeah, the Fonti family across the street had three stunning daughters, and I had fallen madly in love with the middle one. That first-love romance continued until my second year in college, when she called one Thursday morning to let me know she had to break up with me because of a “sign from God.”
A couple of months later, she married the minister who helped her realize she had a sign from God.
But the rest of the homes up and down the street offered brighter memories. I had a gang of kids that I hung out with, back in the days when you’d leave home in the morning to go play and your only obligation was to be home in time for dinner. I always relied on Mr. Toman’s whistle, which he belted out around 5pm and we’d close out another day of adventures.
In my elementary school days, the gang consisted of Mike, the other Mike, Glen, Kelly, Kenny, Karen and her brother Dennis, and some other characters that came in and out over the years.
We played a lot of tennis ball baseball, keeping track of those homers that would sail over the house across the street. There was hide and seek, some football that started on lawns—but, when some of the older kid-less neighbors started yelling the classic, “Get off my lawn” we’d switch to playing on the asphalt of the street.
As we got older and a little more daring, we’d climb aboard our bicycles, ala ‘Stranger Things” and ride down to the elementary school or over to Del Amo shopping mall, where we once saw candidate for Governor Ronald Reagan speak from the back of a flatbed truck.
We traded baseball cards, we had fights, we went to movies on Saturday morning, and celebrated birthdays together. It’s like I was lucky enough to grow up in a normal neighborhood, doing the normal things kids should do, in a suburb of Los Angeles.
These days, I could never imagine just letting my kid wander around down there, without a military escort.
Oh, it’s not like a chunk of innocence wasn’t lost during those years; that’s a normal part of any childhood. There was the Cuban Missile Crisis–one of my friend’s lived at a house where they had a bomb shelter in the backyard. There was the JFK assassination, the Martin Luther King, Jr and Bobby Kennedy assassinations, the Watts Riots, the Manson Murders, the Viet Nam War, the draft and so many other things. I remember thinking for a time that it was just the way the normal world was—wars, riots, every now and a then, a leader was shot to death. Those were your 1960s.
And here I was back at the scene of the crime.
Standing out in the front yard, I could look at each home, and each would generate its own memory. Right across the street, that’s where an older couple named the Kidds invited our family over to watch the Tournament of Roses parade on a real color TV. A couple doors down from them were Fred & Carol, a fun couple who ever now and then would invite us to come over and swim in their swimming pool. It was the only one on the block. Go the other direction, and that’s where Irv lived, nicknamed “the Bachelor” because he was single for years, although he married late in life. Way up at the far end of the street were the Slingerlands, who had a cute daughter named Pam, but I never really got to know her. For a couple of years, I hung out with Irene, who lived a few houses up. The kids teased her because she had such long toes, and gave her the nickname, “Bozo.”
Oh, man, how could I forget Raylene Crocker, who was the first next-door neighbor I played with? She was a year older and when I was 5 years old, she decided to plant a big old wet kiss on me. My very first.
We all remember that special street or lane where we spent those care-free days of our childhood. How lucky am I to be able to go back and visit the place mom and dad raised us? This time, the memories were thick and it made me realize that I better start writing these down somewhere before they get away.
Thanks to whoever is the driving force behind the Torrance High School Memory Wall. It’s a Facebook page with the sole purpose of letting graduates of T.H.S. know about classmates who are no longer with us.
If you ever need a reminder of how grateful you should be, dare to see how many of those people you use to hang out with, are gone.
Looking back, high school is such a brief part of your life experience. Yet, those are amazingly powerful years that had a serious influence on what kind of adults we all became.
I roamed the halls of Torrance High School from the fall of 1969 until graduating in June of 1973. Some folks would rather forget those years. I cherish every single memory my increasingly feeble brain is able to retain.
Thankfully, there are others that feel that way and who get involved enough with preserving memories that they create a Facebook page and actually keep track of who’s still around, and who isn’t.
Those who leave us are put on the Memory Wall. Recently, they offered up an Excel spreadsheet of all the Torrance High School Tartars who had used their allotted time on earth. While there were a lot of folks I didn’t know that came before or after me, when I came across the name of a former classmate who had since passed, I was sad to think that their journey was over. But seeing some of those names knocked loosed a flood of memories:
Dave Sanford was a couple of years ahead of me but was a super-jock whose picture appeared several times in my first two high school yearbooks.
Danny Gans went from the kid I played with in Little League to the Las Vegas mega-star. His life was cut short due to an unfortunate combination of drugs and heart disease. Read more here.
Dexter Wolfgang acted as flamboyantly as his name at a time when you just didn’t do that. Looking back, the guy was a lot braver than most of the students who teased him.
Greg Stadler was one of those guys all the girls longed after, yet his ego was so in-check. Just a good guy. I had heard he had gotten seriously into the “born again” thing. I found his obituary online. 55 is way too soon.
There are dozens of others from that 600+ person class who had also passed away. As I scanned all the names, I noticed the last names of some of my classmates, which means they had lost their older or younger brothers or sisters.
The organizers of this page were also kind enough to keep us posted on some of my favorite teachers, like Mrs. Wright, Mr. Buck and my counselor Mr. Ronan (who I blogged about recently). People who devoted their life to teaching and who may not have realized the impact they had on so many young lives.
We lost them to cancer, to Alzheimer’s, to heart disease, to COVID. All leaving much earlier than they planned, while serving as yet another reminder to appreciate the fact we’re all still here to remember those life-changing days.
It’s a sobering reminder, but a journey I’m really glad that I took.
I’d highly recommend taking a similar stroll down your own path.
You’re thinking, “Wait, Tim. You mean Pete’s Sake, right?”
No. I’m going with the insanity happening in the Seattle media market this week and randomly tossing away the name everybody knows for another one.
The change I’m referring to is the call letter change happening at KOMO radio, where after almost a hundred years as KOMO, this week the station will be renamed KNWN.
Originally, I was ticked off at the current ownership, Lotus. But broadcast buddy Gregg Hersholt informs me that Lotus actually wanted to keep the KOMO call letters. However, the evil Sinclair empire decided to spread salt around the Seattle radio landscape and take the call letters with them. According to Gregg: “The new owners spent months trying to convince Sinclair to sell the call letters. They wouldn’t budge, and it’s their loss because our affiliation was a benefit to them.”
Apparently, one of the things that comes with growing older is you get to see the things you know get new names–Ernst to Lowe’s, the Bon Marche to Macy’s, Payless to Rite Aid, Weight Watchers is now WW, and on and on.
I’ve already blogged about the specialness that came with being a part of the KOMO family for almost five years. You can catch up here.
So, Sinclair gets the credit for taking the call letters and going home. KNWN is supposed to mean K-Northwest News, a phrase that KIRO has already tagged to their top of the hour I.D. as part of the radio wars.
But the bottom line–we’re saying goodby to call letters the area has known since 1926. Yeah, another 100th birthday we’re not going to see.
Back in the day, you wanted to make radio stations easy to remember. So, instead of four letters that all started with a K, you went with names that you could pronounce, like “KOMO” and “KIRO.” That would help them remember what to write down if they had to fill out one of those ratings diaries from years gone by.
These days, it’s all done digitally. People carry around something that logs who they listen to, so they don’t need to fill anything out.
It saddens me to think of all that history that’s being tossed out. I haven’t been bummed out like this since I found out they were going to tear down the old KOMO radio building, that I haunted from 1980-1984. I remember my little office that I shared with Larry Nelson, the morning guy. Just outside of that office was a wall with a mural of radio stars who had been featured on KOMO over the years. The greats of the 30s and 40s. I believe in the remodeling, that wall was torn down.
It saddens me to watch a place so full of personal memories and that for decades, was a part of the daily life of people in the Puget Sound area. be relinquished to the history books. During my tenure, there was Brian Johnson’s 7:45 Morning Report (when Larry Nelson would head to the bathroom and shave); Bob Rondeau, the voice of the Huskies for so many years, was the “sports guy” who did the morning sports report; KOMO was the on-air home of Paul Harvey, with an abbreviated 5-minute early report at 5:30 and 8am, and then the full “Paul Harvey News and Comment” at high noon. I can still recall when we moved to the new technology, from a phone-line report to a satellite feed. It was like he was in the studio.
That was back in the days of “Destination Radio”, where people came for personalities and other things they just couldn’t get anywhere else on the dial.
KOMO was, of course, your Husky Station, which allowed me to meet so many of the Dawgs of that time, including head coach Don James. He knew me as Larry’s producer but would always greet me like an old friend whenever our paths crossed.
Another big phase was the arrival of AM-Stereo. It was going to change the industry. The announcers were told to start calling the station, KOMO, AM-Stereo-1000. I remember the big AM-Stereo kickoff event we did at some fancy estate up on Capitol Hill.
During my brief tour of duty in the building, I got to know so many people in the radio biz, as well as some of those fancy TV folks down the hall.
On the radio side, (and apologies if I forget you), Larry Nelson, Bob Rondeau, Gary Johnson, Brian Johnson (no relation), Dale Good, Bob Gillespie, Harmon Shay, Jim Reed, Monte Grau, Wanda Hutton, Pat Eisner, Shirley Thom, Kathy Cozu, Leslie Soule, Karen Heric, Rita Carrier, Bob Adkins, Keith Shipman, Eric McKaig, Gina Tuttle, Stan Orchard, Bill Swartz, Michael Hamilton, Roger Nelson, Jim Reed, Keith Johansson, Norm Gregory, Don Chapman, Joe Coburn, Jaynie Dillon, Kirk Lawrence, Rich Osbourne, Melody Tucker, Ted Garlatz, Jr. & Sr., and a host of others whose faces popped up in my head, but whose names escape me. Cut me some slack—that was 40ish years ago.
On the TV side, I got to know Ruth Walsh, Ray Ramsey, Bruce King, Kathi Goertzen, Dan Lewis, Dan Ibabao, Dick Foley, Steve Pool and others.
And two great engineer types–Stu Hitchner and Lloyd Jones, a classic character and brother of Seattle’s own Quincy Jones.
In just under 5 years, I packed in a lifetime of memories, not to mention all the life changes that took place while I was in the building. I was hired a week before my wedding and started after we returned from the honeymoon and moving over from Yakima. My daughter was born during my KOMO days, and I found out that my son was on the way the same day I was told I was being laid off.
If you want to read the adventures of KOMO in Seattle radio history, Wikipedia has a nice write-up here.
Management didn’t always make the best choices for the future of the station. It was the original flagship station of the Seattle Supersonics, until they let KIRO swipe them away. I had also heard a rumor while I was there that, at one time KOMO had an FM frequency but gave it away to UW, which became KUOW. I don’t have any verification of that story, but it’s a good rumor.
A radio station isn’t a building, it’s a frequency. It’s that place on the dial that you go to out of habit, so really, changing its name doesn’t really impact anything. When I go to AM-1000, I’ll be reminded of those years, of people who were and some, still are, a big part of my life and my history.
KOMO, I’m sorry to see you go.
Now, I no longer want to live forever. I just want to live long enough to see some company to buy out the Sinclair folks and re-name it “Evil Broadcasting.”
So you know, we’re not losing; we’re not winning; we just fight on.
January 3rd, 2022. A day that will live in infamy. Hey, imfamy’s a big place. It has more room for another date.
That’s the day I stumbled down the stairs at 4:45am as part of my morning ritual, on my way to my office to begin another 12-14 hour day doing what I love to do–writing, creating, producing videos, and putting together another morning radio show for KRKO.
However, as I approached the lower level of our house, I could see a reflection in the rug. That’s not right.
It seems that on the same night we had a massive snow melt, toss in a serious dose of heavy rain, and our sump pump dying and the result: water filled our lower level, up to two inches in some areas.
Insurance company contacted, water abatement company retained. Now, to make it all happen.
Cue the snails.
I get it. We were not the only ones who suffered flood damage that day. In fact, local companies were slammed so we had to fire up the patience. I know one of the folks from Servicemaster said they normally have rows and rows of equipment in their warehouse, but right now, the shelves were empty.
STAGE 1–The Dry Out
A collection of fans and dehumidifiers were brought in to run 24 hours a day downstairs to help the drying out process. It didn’t help the carpeting downstairs, which had been soaked, to dry out and soon, the air downstairs was a moldy stench of yech. First, “the packers” (no connection to Aaron Rogers) came and took everything away from downstairs, deciding what was totaled and what they could keep and store in a storage unit. Next, after a week of fermenting, the rugs were finally removed which helped make the downstairs air healthier than downtown Beijing during rush hour.
STAGE 2–So, what’s next?
The way the process has been described to me is that once the packers have gone through everything they took, they will send us an inventory list and it’s up to us to make sure everything is included. (Oh, yeah, I remember everything that was downstairs). Then, someone is supposed to come in and test the linoleum that was glued to the cement and the walls and see if any asbestos lurks therein. To do that, we just found out that the lower level needs to be sealed off so the air can be tested. Since they don’t want the downstairs air to come upstairs, until they get the results IN THREE DAYS, we need to turn our furnace off.
It just keeps getting better.
STAGE 3–What comes after that?
I don’t know. Eventually, the insurance company will say, “Here’s a few Sheckels to help you get things done” and redoing the floors and the walls can begin. After that, we’ll begin refurnishing the spaces and then, after that, our crap in storage will be dropped off and we can recreate a typical all-American lower level.
STAGE 4–Realizing this week’s fresh hell
So, the day after “the great seal off” started with me playing the part of MacGyver. I walked into a kitchen with a thermometer showing me it was 35-degrees outside and only 63-degrees inside the house. I sprung into action and turned our oven up to 400-degrees, leaving the door open so it would be a heat source. I started the coffee, of course, but I also put a pan of water on the stove and brought it to a boil. My wife had a small personal heater next to her work-from-home workspace and I brought that in. WIthin 90 minutes, I had the internal temp up to 70-degrees and was pretty darn proud of myself.
But the lower level continued to be sealed up:
Want to do a load of laundry? I’ll just go downstairs and….
Oh, we’re out of paper towels and toilet paper. I’ll just go downstairs and….
Making spaghetti sauce? I should dump a little red wine in. I’ll just go downstairs and….
Crap, I ran out of checks. I’ll just go downstairs to the office and….
And the real capper, this morning, while blow-drying my hair, the fuse blew and I was suddenly in the dark. Oh, I’ll just go downstairs and…
However, no way we’re going to live the next couple of days with a powerless bathroom. Adding to the misery, the power alarm I hooked up to the new sump pump’s power source started whining. Great.
So, I masked up and broke into the fuse box room long enough to reset the power. I’m probably now covered in a thin coat of something toxic, but for the time being, it’s not noisy and well-lit.
QUESTIONS THAT REMAIN
Will we have black mold or asbestos in our floors or walls? If so, will our insurance cover the repairs to remove it? Will our stuff be valued at full value? Will all of this take place soon, or wrap up by April? Why am I wasting valuable blogging space to tell you all this?
I never thought it would happen to us. As I learn things, I hope I can pass along useful tidbits that might help you, a family member or friend should they find themselves in a similar situation.
I did meet with a guy from a construction company today that will actually handle everything with the insurance company and I got a good vibe from him. He would act as our agent in getting this all taken care of, and his company came highly recommended by some good friends.
As I continue my temporary, surreal routine of working from a table set up in the kitchen and doing all the writing, video and audio editing and crafting only the finest in comedy, I crawl into my work to keep from being bummed by our situation.
But as I tell my radio listeners tomorrow morning, if you hear me one morning doing Fondue recipes, you’ll know I’ve cracked up. Just keep that Fondue pot handy.
By the time you reach your mid-60s, it really is amazing when you sit down and just think about all the people you’ve met and experienced life with, that made a brief appearance in one of the many chapters of your life. Chapters with characters that now are no longer a part of your book. But when reminded of them, it jars loose a few memories you’re proud that you could actually recall.
Get me started on my high school years and you’ll knock loose a flood of memories. (great–more flooding) Favorite teachers, classic life moments, falling crazy in love with the girl next door, being Senior Class President, highlights of my brief basketball career, etc. I know some people are extremely done with those years, while others hang on to them as if they never ended. One of my post-retirement goals is to finally finish a movie script about those days at Torrance High School, if nothing else, to help preserve those stories for later years when memory fails.
In late December, I was minding my own holiday season, trying to get the career to calm down so I could enjoy my favorite time of the year when I got word on Facebook that Mr. Ronan had died.
If I said, “Mr. Ronan” to any of my fellow Torrance High School Tartars from the Class of ’73, they’d know immediately I was talking about one of the two counselors that helped guide our class through our high school years. Not a small task, when you’re put in charge of directing teenagers in a hurry to grow up, with raging hormones, falling in love with a new person every couple of months, all the while, dancing with the devil known as “popularity.”
Of course, by now, the memories of those days have softer edges, but Mr. Ronan definitely still stands out. It made me smile to think that Jerry lived into his 90s and that dealing with me hadn’t shorten his time on this earth. And when I heard that he had written his own obituary just waiting for that inevitable day, I just had to share it.
As the sixth of Maggie McGraw and railroad bridge builder Thomas S. Ronan’s nine, the journey began 1926 – on the day winter leaves Camelot. Great good fortune was mine from that at-home birth, merely yards from the banks of the Missouri River in Fort Pierre, South Dakota. Life-long friends, school work, paper routes and four years at Loupe’s Drug Store filled happy boyhood years.
High School graduation in 1944 and induction into World War II Navy duty for two years were simultaneous events; Navy service was growing up time. After an interlude of a year at First National Bank in Pierre, I was off to four years with the Jesuits at Creighton University in Omaha; they calibrated my compass and awarded me a diploma.
That Bank in Pierre had been home summers and college holidays – a post college year in the bank provided a one-way ticket to Europe on the Queen Mary for a two-year-plus adventure. It was a dream come true – Salzburg, Austria was my Shangri la.
Back to the South Dakota prairies: Ranch kids, responsible, almost adults, boarded in town, kept the Lemmon High School lights and the faculty on for ten-hour days. It was a memorable school year and the beginnings of a career with emerging adults.
Following a summer of English classes at Georgetown University, a continental crossing landed me on El Prado Avenue and Torrance High School in 1955. It was to be Home. Thirty-seven years in the “mother school of Torrance” with winning kids and colleagues passed in the seeming flip of a page. It doesn’t get better.
Leave taking was not easy. As classes and volunteer activities kicked in, life took on a new meaning. My affection for Torrance with its small town caring citizens was reaffirmed on a daily basis. I was never far from those Torrance High Tartars.
Never regretted a move – each chapter was a happy experience. Good-byes and leave takings were difficult. Transitions were tough, but life has been good. Trust and gratitude are key. Family and friends are the treasures. Along the way USC awarded me a Master’s degree; my remains go to their Keck Medical School. For my transgressions – for my omissions – I beg absolution.
One by one, Tom and Maggie and now the eighth of their nine has taken leave. Only “kid sister” Helen Pike of Janesville, Wisconsin survives. Her two sons, three of seven other nieces and nephews and their offspring remain. All nine and their issue have made me proud.
Join me in spirit for a Mass at Nativity Church as I make this final transition Sunday, December 19th at 8:00am.
What I recall about the man is that he took his job so seriously. He truly wanted to help students successfully head off in the direction they hoped to go, offering suggestions on classes to take and how best to get there. I’m sure he had a hand in helping me choose typing as an elective, at a time when that was “a girl’s class”, to help create future secretaries. Yeah, this was a long time ago. But that skill was an important part of what got me where I am today, wherever that is.
He took his job and responsibility seriously, but with a subtle humor that I very much appreciated. I’d have to say that it influenced my preferred style of comedy, because while the laugh-out-loud yuks are fun, there’s nothing better than a subtle masterpiece that sticks in people’s minds. Clever comedy is an rare art and a great example is still found today in my high school yearbook.
I remembered Mr. Ronan had written something funny when I asked him to autograph my yearbook and when I dug it out of the bookcase and looked it up, I was right. Imagine your high school counselor, the person charged with helping you direct your way through those crucial years, writing you a note like this:
I could imagine some parents flipping out. “All the world’s a stage? Get off?” What do you mean by that?
I take it that he recognized a screwball when he saw one, but that he knew I was going to be just fine.
Wow, he spent 37 years at THS. That’s amazing. I wonder how many other people can look back on their careers and think, “You know, you’re right. He did have a huge part in how I got to where I am?”
I hope a lot.
Mr. Ronan, sincere thanks for all you did for me and hundreds of other Torrance Tartars. It was appreciated a whole lot more than you’ll ever know.
For the second week in a row, I had planned to dedicate my little corner of the Internet to my high school counselor, Gerald Ronan. He passed over the holidays and it started a minor flood of memories that I was going to pool into a blog.
Last week, he got pre-empted by the Great Flood of 2022 in our lower level. OMG, what a nightmare. A week later, they’re just now taking out the soaked and moldy-smelling carpet from downstairs. Hopefully the lingering smell in our house (upstairs as well) will gradually improve.
Then, this past Sunday, we got the news that Bob Saget was found dead in his Florida hotel room, at the age of 65. There was a time in my life when 65 was so old. Now, that’s two years in my rearview mirror.
Bob gained his early fame as the dad in one of those “T.G.I. Friday” shows on ABC. Friday nights, my kids would make an appointment to be in front of the TV, watching that family-friendly collection of characters, and where science perfected that breed of human called “the Olsen Twins.”
Those years are a little fuzzy, but most likely, that was when mom & dad probably went out and hired a sitter, who used TV to entertain them until bedtime and then, the easy money came in. I was not much of a “Full House” fan, but I was aware of its popularity. After all, I was in the “know everything about pop culture” business.
Of course, each of the actors on that show went on to reach additional fame in various ways. John Stamos went off and played with the Beach Boys for a while, Lori Loughlin became a college advisor and the most popular girl on cell block C, and Dave Coulier went on to be the guy whose last name everybody pronounced differently, broke up with Alanis Morrisette inspiring an album and became a household name as the guy who used to play the Joey on TV that wasn’t on “Friends.”
Bob Saget, however, wanted to let the world know he was funnier than what you saw on “Full House.” He became the first witty host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, the narrator on “How I Met My Mother”
and a stand-up comic that packed theaters, not night clubs.
That was his passion, that’s what he loved to do. After his last show Saturday night, he posted this on Instagram:
I love that one of the last things he remembered doing was something he loved to do.
And just a week before his own departure, Bob posted this tremendous salute to another very funny person:
This amazing woman was exactly who you wanted her to be…
Razor sharp wit, smart, kind, hilarious, sincere, and so full of love.
From the first time I snuck into “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” at 15 years old and watched her hit everything she said out of the park, to decades later, getting to hang out with her on several occasions, I had a small peek into what a remarkable talent and human being Betty was.
We were on an ABC jet once for a junket and I was sitting across from her, both of us sipping Bloody Mary’s. We had been laughing for hours— I looked into her eyes and faux romantically said, “How ‘bout it, Betty, you and me in the bathroom? Mile High Club?” She answered me before I had a chance to finish the invite— “Of course, Bob, you go in there first and I’ll meet you as soon as I finish my drink.” And then of course she went right to sipping from her straw. I waited in that bathroom for over two hours. (That would be the joke on a joke part, in case you take things literally.)
She always said the love of her life was her husband, Allen Ludden, who she lost in 1981. Well, if things work out by Betty’s design— in the afterlife, they are reunited. I don’t know what happens when we die, but if Betty says you get to be with the love of your life, then I happily defer to Betty on this. My deepest condolences to her family and friends. Betty White. My God, we will miss you.
I have never considered myself a comedy expert, but more of an aficionado (yeah, I needed spellcheck to help me out on that one) of what and who is funny. Being completely honest, I never thought of Bob Saget as really funny. He was a type of funny, that some people appreciated, but he wasn’t my cup of tea.
Around 10 years ago, we went with friends to a Bob Saget performance at the Paramount and it was a bit of a jarring experience for me. The warm-up comedian, whoever it was, was genuinely funny. However, the Bob Saget comedy fans were done with him within a few minutes and started booing him. How sad.
Then Bob came on the stage and it was one of the most profanity-filled, moderately funny sets I’d ever sat through. The crowd loved it, but it left me feeling like we had just wasted a lot of money on someone not very funny.
As I read the posts on his passing from comedians I do enjoy and respect, they have a tremendous amount of admiration for his comedy chops and that makes me think I should find some sets on YouTube and give him another try a decade later. Regardless of his comedic ability, all of them say he was one of the nicest guys in the business and that scores a lot of points with me. You don’t to be a jerk to be successful, you just don’t.
Yeah, looking back at that evening with Bob Saget, I guess I just wasn’t prepared for the foul language and the topics he covered. It was if he wanted to completely destroy anything having to do with the “Full House” version of him, and he felt the best way to do that was to swear his way out in front of his former TV audience. Those of you who know me know I’m far from a saint and foul words occasionally come out of these lips, but sparingly and for effect. I find profanity a lazy way to get a cheap laugh. Tell me something funny!
Some of my favorite comedians today–Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, Lewis Black–far out-swear what I heard from Mr. Saget that night, so maybe I’ve evolved. Maybe I just wasn’t ready for the X-rated version of Danny Tanner.
I know what I definitely wasn’t ready for was losing him at the age of 65. Another one in that parade of reminders that our time is limited and we just never know when our clock will expire.
But I do know that Bob Saget went out on top, doing what he loved for an audience that loved him, as people who loved him mourn his passing. And I just don’t think it gets much better than that.
And, swear to God, Mr. Ronan, you’ll get your turn next week.
Let me begin by saying I’m already looking forward to 2023.
I honestly don’t know what happened. The New Year started with a quiet evening at home, doing our best to stay awake until midnight, watching an embarrassingly cheesy show from the Space Needle and then going to bed.
New Year’s Day was pretty smooth. Got to watch some of the Rose Parade coverage, saw the float from Torrance (where I was raised), watched some pretty good football games and did what you’re supposed to do on a typical first day of the New Year.
That’s where it stopped. Or, if you look at it this way, when it all started.
On Sunday, I was hanging with someone who complained that he and his wife had been experiencing headaches lately. Wait. What? You mean, like you weren’t feeling well, and you came HERE?
Shortly afterwards, we found out he tested positive for COVID. We had only been around him for 45 minutes, but you never know. So far, we’re clean, passing our first test. One more on Friday and we will have somehow dodged that bullet.
But then it got worse.
Monday morning, I got up at the usual time, 4:45am, and headed downstairs to my office. I noticed a reflection from the carpeting as I got closer. By the time I stepped on the ground level, I was standing in 2-inches of water. Our entire downstairs was flooded. Our sump pump, apparently inspired by Antonio Brown, just decided to stop working. Melting snow and pouring rain didn’t help and our entire lower level was underwater.
At first, I went into “Fight the Battle” mode. I tried to get the sump pump to return to life, but without luck. While trying to move things around downstairs, the paper shredder popped open and scattered shredded paper bits into the water. To this day, anytime you walk downstairs, you leave a trail of paper bits all over the house.
I went upstairs with my laptop (as my main PC that I do everything on drowned a painful death) and wrote my contribution for Radio Show Prep, as I do every morning. After that, I bolted over to Home Depot and bought a new sump pump and a 9-gallon shop vac. I hooked up the sump pump to a hose that emptied in the bathtub and started sucking up water with the shop vac. I was getting nowhere. I basically found myself just keeping it even.
Thus, the beginning of our first big adventure in 2022. An inspector came out and said, “Yep, you’re screwed.” A crew is downstairs as I type this, beginning the dry out. Then there’s a packing crew coming tomorrow to take everything out of the rooms and put into storage. Then the serious dry-out begins, followed by repairs, recarpeting and painting and then bringing everything back.
Oh, and did I mention my iPhone went into Satanic mode Monday afternoon and I’m waiting for a replacement to come into T-Mobile so I can reconnect to the world. It was writing gibberish in texts, jumping from one program to another, all on its own. Linda Blair would have been proud.
I went into T-Mobile and they said they had never seen a phone behave like that before. Wasn’t dropped. No water damage. It just went ballistic. So, they ordered one for me and I picked it up the next day. But when I got home to finish restoring it, my password didn’t work. So I had to clean it, restore from scratch and see what happens. It’s been several hours and it’s still not done. Then, because it’s a new phone and new access, it’s not connecting with Facebook. Oh, I can launch the program and put in my password, but then it wants an authenticator code. It doesn’t send me one. Now, I’m trying to figure that out. I’m basically locked out of Facebook right now.
With my main PC down, I’m doing this all on a laptop. With my downstairs studio gone, I’ve set up a portable microphone with my laptop and recording my daily radio shows while I sit perched next to my bed in the bedroom. Yep, living the dream.
With a lot of my production and writing projects, I have to download files from the cloud; everything now takes three times as long to do, and each day this week has been a serious struggle.
It’s gotta get better, right?
Or will 2022 just be 2020, too?
P.S.–I do feel like I’m tempting fate, posting that picture before the week is actually over.
Like you, I received numerous Christmas gifts this year. Some, I’ll remember for a while. Others will fall into the abyss of memories that, frankly, my brain doesn’t have room for anymore.
Oh, it’s not like those forgettable gifts aren’t appreciated, they are. And I’m sure I’ve passed along my share of forgettable gifts over the years.
Seriously, think about your Christmas back in 2020–how many of those gifts you received that year could you actually name? Then how about 2019? See what I mean?
That further illustrates the point that it really is the sentiment behind the gift, not the gift itself. Regardless of what’s on the other side of that wrapping paper, someone cared (or felt obligated) enough to cough up a couple of bucks, use some wrapping paper from Dollar Tree and do their part to assure you have a Merry Christmas…..or Happy Hannukah….or Krazy Kwanza, or whatever I’m supposed to say.
One of the gifts I’ll treasure most this year actually came on Sunday, the day after Christmas. In Seattle, we received 6-inches of snow, missing the big day by 24 hours….but, with that, it allowed everyone to get their Christmas travels in, then go home before we were buried.
The gift I’m referring to was a phone call. From an old high school buddy I hadn’t talked with in years and probably only a handful of times since we both graduated from Torrance High School in 1973. (Go Tartars)
Mark told me he was compelled to give me a call after he returned from celebrating Christmas in a nearby state at his son’s house. He had arrived back home in Iowa to find the card my wife and I had sent him and he was touched. Not necessarily because of the typical year-end recap that appears in our annual letter, but because it was addressed to Mark and Trisha, his wife.
He felt he should call and let me know that Tricia had passed back in early November. While visiting his folks in California, he contracted COVID and not knowing it, returned home to Iowa and brought the pandemic home. He fought his way through, but then Tricia caught it and in a very short amount of time, it claimed her life.
Mark told me how he and Trisha had been talking about how they would celebrate their upcoming wedding anniversary. That would have been number 47. Mark kept telling me how blessed he had been in his life to have her that many years. But it’s just the sudden ending that was really a shock, and still is.
Mark was a very talented saxophone player and one of the fearsome foursome of buddies I had during my Torrance High School days. There was Guy, Tank, Mark and yours truly, who during my high school years, acquired the nickname “Tab” after the actor. That’s the name that went on my letterman’s jacket. It’s still there.
Any guesses who the four screwballs were in the front row?
While three of us experienced many a relationship during those formative years, it was just a couple of years out of high school that Mark became the first of us to get married. While those days softly blur, I can still remember Trisha being so sweet, so tolerant.
Mark can come off pretty strong and say some things that might tick some people off if you didn’t know the real Mark. That was just his style and it still cracks me up to this day.
I could hear in his voice the hurt and caring as he spoke of Trisha’s passing. I can’t even imagine having a lifetime of plans suddenly yanked out from under you as you finally reach those so-called “Golden Years.”
As we wrapped up our conversation, Mark asked that I go upstairs and give my wife, Victoria, a big old hug for him. “You just don’t know how long you’ve got together.”
And you don’t. But life is a continuous balancing act. You don’t sell the house and bet it all on 31-black and see what happens, nor do you sit at home and start every sentence with, “You know, someday…..”
I know that after my chat with Mark, I need to get a little bit better about my life balancing. Sounds like a New Year’s resolution to me!
And thanks for the gift I’ll be remembering for a while, Mark.
I’m basking in the glow of that period of the holiday season where you start to feel, “You know, this is actually all going to work out!”
Mailing out the last of the Christmas cards on Sunday helped. Got the long-distance packages off in the mail. (had to pay priority mail rates, but I know they’ll make it there in time).
And the annual Ho Ho Brother project is completely done.
A couple of decades ago, the tech guy at KLSY, Rick Taylor, taught me how to burn my own CD’s. I love learning new technology, and after watching him do it for a couple of years, I started my “Ho Ho Brother” series, in the year 2000. That means that this year’s compilation is my 21st in a long line of holiday collections.
Over the years, I feel I’ve learned the balance of what goes into a good Christmas CD (although, these days, while I burn a few actual CD’s, I’m promoting the streaming link, coming later in this writing.) My goal is to make the collection a unique Christmas experience. Some old songs, some new songs, a few comedy bits or holiday commercials from long ago–pop it on and the next 70 minutes are fill with a healthy dose of Christmas spirit.
The past 10 years (except for one), I’ve collaborated with a local singer named Alana Baxter and, each year, we’ve created a new Christmas parody song. You’ll find the whole collection here
Among them, you’ll find this year’s timely song, “Christmas Vaccination”(done to the tune of “Christmas Vacation”, my all-time favorite holiday season film). And while the song could have been enough, each year we produce an accompanying video. Here it is:
This is my biggest holiday season challenge each year. Basically, the steps:
Find a song
Write the lyrics.
Record Alana singing the lyrics.
Find a time in our mutually busy schedules to film the video.
Find time to produce the video.
Try to get all that in between the day after Thanksgiving and a week before Christmas.
And somehow, it happens.
This year, I wanted to tackle the idea of Santa going around and injecting people with the COVID vaccine, whether they want it or not. In my mind, it would be Santa visiting many homes and injecting lots of arms, but the logistics were just too overwhelming. I also wanted to pursue the idea of Santa going out to events to shooting people with the vaccine using a pea-shooter, but I only had time to shoot one scene and I scrapped the idea.
But here’s that deleted scene.
Sorry, Pat, for leaving you on the cutting room floor. And while I’m at it, if you’d be willing to be an extra for next year’s video–God knows what it will be–just let me know and I’ll put you on the list.
I had big plans to have a real Santa star in the video. He’s one of the University Village Santa’s and he was willing to do some scenes for me. However, we had scheduled him on the same day Alana & I were going to record the song (gotta do it when you can) and by the time we got there, parked and tried to track him down, we had just missed him. So, that inspired me to dig out the Santa suit that I inherited a couple of years from GSR Rentals in Monroe. Thanks again, guys!
Again, this is entirely a passion project. No budget, no one’s getting rich, my crew is me. It’s short of a miracle that somehow those songs turn out as well as they have. And each is a time capsule of that particular adventure we went through.
Yes, a challenging couple of traditions. But once again, conquered. 2022, I’m ready for the next challenge.
I try to be a nice guy. I think it’s a good place to be.
Oh, there are a few folks out there that would argue the case. But I ‘m not claiming to be perfect. I just like to keep things positive, try to make the majority of my actions to make things better or to help others and not hurt anyone.
The other night, thanks to my brother-in-law, Kris, I was able to attend a “meet and greet” with the Prince of Nice Guys, Tyler Lockette of the Seattle Seahawks.
Even just hearing that would make the guy uncomfortable.
As kind-hearted as he is, he’s also very modest. He shows up to play football, has fun, makes great plays and then goes off into his personal world. It’s taken some time, but he’s finally accepted the fact that if he just pushes himself a little beyond his comfort zone, he can use his celebrity to make a difference. Such was the case at the event this past Monday, when Tyler was handed the microphone and it was time to turn it on.
This year, he is the Seahawks nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. If he wins, he’d be the second Seahawks to do so in a row, as quarterback Russell Wilson received the honor last year. What makes Tyler such a perfect nominee? It all has to do with the passion he has for helping out the youth from his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In 2019, Tyler and his Light It Up Foundation hosted their first “job shadow” where the foundation awarded four young women from Tulsa to come to visit Seattle and job shadow members of the Seahawks organization. Much of what Tyler aims to build for the youth from his foundation is exposure.
“People from my hometown, they don’t really see what life is like outside of where we grow up, so unless you play sports, nobody is going out of town,” Lockett said “And so once you finally get out of your own city and you’re able to see what life is like outside of it, then you get a new perspective. It allows you a vision and have an imagination.”
He’s simply one of the good ones and a lot of those are usually drowned out by the loud ones and the showboats. I just wanted to cast a quick spotlight on a talented, caring and modest hero we have right here in our city.
Thanks for setting up camp here, Tyler. You truly are the nicest among the nice.
I’m celebrating my 66th Christmas this year and while decorating Christmas Tree #1, my mind was full of thoughts.
There are so many things I remember from those Christmas’s growing up. That was back in the day when we’d go out and get a real Christmas tree, mom would spend an entire day in the kitchen making her various Christmas cookies and treats and my dad put his wood-working skills to use and created Mr. & Mrs. Frosty and the snow kids. For a couple of years, my folks actually put this white fiberglass “snow” on their front yard, to give the illusion of a winter look in Southern California. It only took a couple of years that formerly pristine snow had the look of 6-week old dirty snow and went away.
For my very first Christmas, at just three months old, mom & I posed in front of their glorious tree by the big picture window in the living room.
In time, the tree was relegated to the office, which eventually became my bedroom.
In later years, it finally earned its spot back in the living room, but not always by the picture window.
Over in nearby Gardena, where I was born and around 15 minutes from my parents’ house, my dad’s relatives lived in a home where they had one of those tinsel trees with the rotating color light bulbs. It was a thing at the time.
You’d just set up one of these:
Hit it with one of these:
And it’s Christmas.
There are several events for me that help kick off the holiday season, but it isn’t until the Christmas tree is up and decorated that I feel the season coming on. To me, that signals commitment and a time-sensitivity, especially as you watch the tree dry out in record time from the moment you bring them inside.
Back in the 1980s, the Seattle P.I. had a writer named Ann Combs. When I was at KOMO radio, I got to interview her and she told me her story of how the Christmas tree worked at her house. From the time they could reach a branch, she would have the kids do all the decorating. Oh, sure, when they’re real young, the tree was only decorated for a couple of feet. But her thinking was, when they’re old enough and big enough to reach the top, it was time for them to move out.
At our house, Christmas Tree #1, as I mentioned above, is the artificial tree I bought at Lowes a decade or so ago. I went there the day after Christmas one year to see if I could score any screamin’ deals on Christmas decorations and they had a sign up that said: “9-Foot Westinghouse Trees $20.” I don’t know why they were blowing them out, but I actually checked with three employees before grabbing one, to make sure that sign was right. The original price was $259 or something like that.
So that’s the artificial tree in the house. Then, for our living room, we buy a shorter, real tree that goes up on a raised platform. Around 5-feet is perfect (and also, cheaper). That’s the upscale tree, with the fancy Norwegian ornaments, the clip-on candles and such. The normal routine is for me to decorate the one in our dining room and Victoria does her fancy one in the living room.
For me, that’s perfect. The dining room tree is where all the ornaments I like are hung with care. I’m talking Husky and Seahawk ornaments, some of the hand-made ones that have survived the years, and the ones that scream, “Oh, Tim must have decorated this one”–several Scottish ones, a Christmas pickle, a JP Patches and Gertrude ornament (a Seattle kids’ show host from the past), a Bigfoot ornament, my Santaur (looks like a cross between Santa and a….oh, let me just show you)
Plus, a bunch of cool Christmas ornaments from places Victoria and I have been over the years. Leavenworth, Alaska, Florida, etc. It’s a friggin’ thing of beauty!
As a public service, while decorating the tree this year, I took some mental notes and would like to offer these up just in case you’re about to tackle the tree-decorating chore in the next few days.
TIM’S TREE TRIPS
1) You always start with the largest ornaments on the tree, by carefully placing each in front of the burned-out lights you just can’t seem to figure out.
2) Always buy a new box of ornament hooks in November when they first show up. Oh, sure, you bought one last year, but good luck finding that one.
3) The best part about artificial trees is, if there’s a thin spot, you just bend the branches.
4) Well, and the fact you don’t need to water them.
5) Candy canes trim a tree nicely. I’ve been using the same ones for a decade now and should anyone steal one from the tree, I bear no legal responsibility for what happens.
6) When shopping for a tree, remember, the person helping you is trying to sell more trees. So, if you ask a question, they’ll probably going to tell you the answer they think you want to hear. For example, the classic one my wife always asks is, “Are these trees fresh?” The following response ranges from, “Oh, yeah, we just got ’em off the truck yesterday!” or “Absolutely! Sure. You bet!” without any qualifying for their statement or an explanation for why that “Hillary in 2016” bumpersticker is stuck between the branches.
While there are lots of parts of the Christmas celebration I can take or leave (did I SAY lutefisk?), I just gotta have my real Christmas tree. The watering, the needles, the price—yeah, I can understand why a lot of people have gone to fake or no trees at all. Maybe someday, I’ll have to opt out.
But for now, just give me my tree and no one gets hurt.
When people ask what I do, I have to give them the old “Jack of all trades” description of my work routine. Oh, I could just mention the top couple of jobs, but my professional style is more similar to that guy on the Ed Sullivan Show with those spinning plates.
For my younger readers, here’s a clip.
The biggest lesson I took from my three decades of playing radio is that you need to evolve, you need to keep fresh, learning what’s new and constantly have some plates spinning. That lesson was really driven home with my first radio departure, when I found out that I was losing my job on the same day I had a son on the way.
After that, I made sure I always had multiple gigs going. A main one and a bunch of smaller ones, in different areas. I was constantly learning something new and with each new skill, I considered making myself more valuable. What it did over time is give me an overwhelming urge to one day break off and not work for one company, but with as many people and projects as I could balance.
Always be fresh, always try something new.
Throughout my career, I’ve been involved with dozens of new ideas. There were hits, there were misses, but each gave me a new skill and perspective on something I previously had no experience with. Back in the days before Linkedin, it allowed me to constantly make new biz acquaintances.
There was the time I did an Inspector Gadget impression for a computer game. The company wanted to hire Don Adams (aka Maxwell Smart) but he wanted $1-million. So, for $20 an hour, I said every phrase imaginable and they used my poor man’s Inspector Gadget voice. Sadly, they didn’t have the computer game part quite figured out, and the game didn’t play on computers very well. I have a copy of the CD-ROM, but with a quick Google, I actually found a way to play it and hear my voice from almost 30 years ago right here.
Then, through various friends, I was introduced to a guy who had a brilliant idea. Do tours of cities like, oh, say, Edmonds, on a cassette. You’d put it on in your car, hit play, the tape would tell you where to drive and what you were looking at…and then, tell you where to go next. It was a bit of a flop, too. And I’ve got a couple of those still wrapped in plastic.
Going a way back, I remember connecting with former KOMO news anchor Ruth Walsh, who wanted to try launching a syndicated weekly radio show. We did episodes for a couple of months, but it soon faded away….
The great ideas just kept on coming. One that was fairly successful was an audiobook of a couple of the “Wizard of Oz” stories. A guy named Bill Wright who owned Piglet Press and was a huge Oz fan wanted to create several audiobooks (yes, more cassettes) and we actually produced three of them. I say “we” as in the late Debbie Deutsch, who was the narrator; a girl named Alexandria who did the voice of Dorothy; and yours truly as EVERYBODY ELSE. We’d record for hours at a studio in Lake City, and then audio guru Bob Majors fixed the sound to perfection. Former Bothell High School Principal Bob Stewart told me that he and his kids loved them as they drove across the country on vacation. Nice to know they’re still out there.
I was lucky to work on quite a few new projects during my lifetime, but geeze, the pace at which new stuff is coming out these days is insane!
What brought me down this rabbit hole? Well, I have a daughter-in-law that is taking a big swing. One of her classmates from graduate school has launched a new venture and she’s going to get on board Map Your Idea.
Right now, to introduce the product and get people to use it, it’s free. That allows this startup to build up a collection of examples of how small businesses and organizations are putting it to use. Go ahead, visit the website and see how it works. It’s pretty intuitive and who knows, your work or organization just might find it quite useful.
All this to say, I love innovation. And trying. Success is also a nice biproduct, but the experience and the lessons you take along with every swing at the plate will someday find a way to be quite valuable in your future.
It’s good to know things. And I hope you’ve taken a few big swings in your lifetime.
Thanksgiving Day means a lot of things to different people. It’s a day of stress, of family get togethers, watching football games, hanging lights, planning out the shopping, drawing names and of course, eating turkey.
Somewhere in all that we try to think about all that we’ve got, how fortunate our lives have been, and immerse ourselves in gratitude. Because when you sit down and think about it, each of our lives truly are blessed. It’s downright sad that the bulk of the holiday season is all about “what more can I get” than “you know, I’ve really got more than what I need.”
I mean, for God’s sake, you can buy anything with a couple of clicks of a mouse these days. I’ve gotten to the point where, if I need it, I buy it. If I don’t really need it, I’ll pass.
I wouldn’t say I’m non-materialistic, but when asked to write up a list of what I would like for Christmas, it was a struggle. Most of what I wrote down is what I’ve put on that list for the last 15 years. And when Christmas Day rolls around, when all the wrapping paper has been ripped off, I’ll have some nice holiday bonuses to enjoy. But as far as importance, those gifts are near the bottom.
As I get older, some of the most precious gifts to me are time. Time spent with people I care about, from college buddies of long ago, to friends and family that I just don’t see that much anymore. As you read in a recent blog, I lost a cousin a couple of weeks back–a cousin I didn’t even know I had until three years ago. I’ll tell you, she’s come to mind quite a bit lately, because dammit, we just weren’t given enough time together. If I could have had anything for Christmas this, just one thing, it would have been to have one more sit down with Diane.
That’s probably why the Facebook post of a longtime radio friend that I read yesterday really hit home with me. Sean and I worked together briefly a long time ago, back when radio was still in black and white. We’ve both lived lifetimes since we last saw each other and while I lament the passing of my cousin, he’s still absorbing what it’s like to lose a child.
Last year was to be the first Apple Cup in 20 years I watched without Griffin by my side. It will instead be this Friday. Again, in the interest of transparency, our shared experience was less shared than an experience when it came to watching the Apple Cup. For the last ten years or so, Griffin spent nearly the whole game on his phone, WhatsApp-ing with who knows who whilst I watched every play with the intensity of a dog watching its owner slowly fill its dog dish with the evening kibble. Griffin’s experience of the Apple Cup was via replay: my overly emotional reactions cueing him to look up from his phone to watch the replay. For the first several years that he had his phone, it nearly ruined the game for me. I’d look over at him, hunched over his phone and mutter just audibly enough, “Cougar loving Duck fan can’t be bothered to watch the frigging game.” But over time I resigned myself to the fact that this was way we shared our passion for the Dawgs, shared memories one replay at a time. I’ve pondered over why the holidays are so difficult a time for those of us who have lost a loved one and why it is possibly trebly hard for those who have lost a child. The only answer I’ve come up with is space. The holidays offer us an opportunity to slow things down at work and school and create more space for reflection, relationships and fellowship. That space becomes a yawning breach when one of those for whom it is designed is no longer with us. Our reflections project into the present and worse yet the future as we transpose memories of holidays past on to holidays future and grieve the loss of both. Sadly, ironic in this for me is my own tendency during past holidays to watch time speed up as the stress of making every memory special drained them of joy, and filled that space with missed expectations and crooked Christmas trees. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. When our Christmas ad season now begins in late September something has definitely gotten a little out of whack societally. The pressure to make our holidays look like our favorite movies (or at least like the Home Depot commercials) is very real and very unrealistic. We press a year’s worth of entertainment into 20 days all while trying to encapsulate (and dress up) our family’s victories over the past year in our Christmas letter (assuming we remembered to snap the holiday photo when we were on Vacation in August). So, as we approach this holiday season, our second without the one person in our family who seemed to have the season in its proper perspective, let’s make a promise to one another. Let’s allow ourselves to be the imperfect beings we are. Let’s celebrate the lean the Christmas tree is taking to the right. Let’s allow our kids to build their memories their way, if only via replay. Let’s skip that seventh Christmas party and walk the neighborhood and look at the lights with our family. Let’s write a Christmas letter that tells it like it really happened. And certainly, let’s at the very least make some time to sit and be quiet in the space the season allows and hear what’s there is to be heard.
I’m pretty sure that’s what Griffin would recommend
Meanwhile, back at the holiday, when you find surrounded by Thanksgiving this Thursday, be present. Take in those moments and store them in your brain like a fine wine. Because the older you get, they’re the things you’ll cherish a lot more than anything that makes it on to your Christmas list.
Happy Thanksgiving. And thanks for being out there for me.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again–there is no other stretch of years I’d like my life to include than the decades I’ve fortunate enough to experience, especially when it comes to music.
I’m a Boomer. Born in the mid-50s after the war, raised in the turbulent 60s, going off to school and moving into adulthood in the 70s, raising a family in the 80s, 90s and a couple of years in the 2000’s (by the way, what do you call THAT decade?) and getting ready to eventually wind down in the 2020s. The current guestimate on when I’ll “retire” is early 2026 and even then, I plan to define retirement as “doing only the things I like to do.” Most of which, I’m doing now, so it may be hard to tell I’ve retired.
As I look back at all that happened with music during my lifetime, I am truly blessed. It’s a span includes legends like Elvis, Chuck Berry, James Brown, the Fab Four and all the British Invasion bands and really, the evolution of what is Pop Music. During 50 of my 66 years, a group called The Eagles provided some pretty memorable songs. And a couple of Saturdays ago, we got to get together again and revisit those songs and so much more.
Part of the magic of the evening was that we caught the show in Seattle’s brand-new Climate Pledge Arena. Yeah, a bit of a dorky name, but reflective of the facility. This was built as the ultimate in arenas, delivering a completely zero carbon footprint. The ice for the hockey team is made from rain they collect. The electricity is generated from solar. Everything served comes in recyclable containers and is compostable. But with all that, they still gave the building amazing acoustics, such that as we listened to the Eagles play, it was like we were listening to them in our living room. I mean, that clean. Toss in an orchestra AND a choir and I get goosebumps just thinking about that night.
Don Henley mentioned in his early banter that their first album came out 50 years ago. Do the math and I was a sophomore at Torrance High School with a crush on the girl across the street. KHJ was LA’s “Boss Radio” station and when I finally got my driver’s license and could borrow the folks’ car, I’d roll down the windows and crank up the radio, listening to “Take It Easy” or “Witchy Woman”, which were on that first album.
I’ve had favorite groups come and go over the years. The Beatles were the first, followed by the likes of Three Dog Night (I had the poster on the wall and, in fact, took it with me to the UW), the Moody Blues, Electric Light Orchestra and so many more. I enjoyed the Eagles, but it’s as I get older that I realize I should be including them on that list. They were a band that played a kind of country-rock sound that was fun and cool, but in my younger years, not among my favorites.
However, when they performed that Hotel California album wall-to-wall and then played over two hours of “greatest hits”, my God, what an amazing team. Yes, Glenn Frey is no longer with us, but his son Deacon and Vince Gill covered for him nicely. When they added Joe Walsh in the mid 1970s, the band ascended to amazing new heights.
Before the intermission, Don Henley said they would be right back to play “everything we know” and he wasn’t kidding. They returned with all their hits PLUS Joe Walsh doing some of his classics PLUS some Don Henley solo pieces AND letting Vince Gill show that he was not just a country music bumpkin. He and Joe Walsh broke out into a guitar duel on one song and if you closed your eyes, you couldn’t tell who was playing.
Earlier this year, when I heard their tour was passing through Seattle, the day tickets went on sale I just had to buy a pair. Being a radio weasel, I could have waited and hoped for free tickets to get in (that’s been known to happen) but I was going in with the idea that this is probably the last time I’m going to see them all together like this. And I did not want to miss it.
And it was an amazing treat.
If, in the future, they do make it back up this way again, or if they launch a Vegas residency, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to experience that band. I left the Climate Pledge Arena proud of the place this city has built, and thankful that I was able to see the group that pretty much has provided the soundtrack to most of my life.
And as they continue to be where I am, as I continue doing that morning show on KRKO, we play more than our fair share of Eagles songs.
Each one generating their own unique memory for me.
This past week, I lost two people in my life. I tell you this, not for sympathy, but to share the strange connection they shared and to give you a peek into their lives.
The first was my cousin Diane. She was the newest member of the family, even though she had just turned 70.
Let me explain.
In early 2019, I signed up for ancestry.com. I don’t remember if it was a killer deal that I couldn’t resist or what inspired me, but I thought it would be fun for at least a year.
Not far from where I live, there was a woman whose son, I believe, bought her a one-year subscription to Ancestry as well. The son knew of his mom’s life situation and thought it might cast a little light on any possible relatives out there, somewhere. And it did–me.
Diane lost her parents over a decade ago. First her dad, then her mom. When her mom went to her heavenly reward, she left behind a note revealing that she had, in fact, been adopted. Mind blown. Having known several adoptees over the years, I know that some think, “Well, that she my BIRTH mother, but my mom and dad will always be my real mom and dad.”
And then there are those who are curious and just need to find out, “Who is out there?”
Diane had already exhausted the obvious attempts at having the birth records reveal who her parents were, so off she went to Ancestor.com (and to my dying day, I will always be grateful she did). When Diane signed on, I showed up as a relatively (pardon the pun) close connection, like at the cousin level. How could that be?
By comparing notes, having members of the family do some thinking, tossing out some theories and ruling out the dumb ones, we came to the conclusion–she really was my COUSIN!
How can that be? Well, it turns out her mom was my dad’s sister. At the time my aunt was in a place where she could not keep the baby, so she gave Diane up for adoption. We think there was some back-door dealing when it came to how the adoption happened, as Diane was born in Long Beach, California….but ended up being adopted by a family not far from my aunt’s house and was raised in the same city where my aunt lived. One of the theories tossed out there was that my grandfather was in the same gambling circles as Diane’s adoptive parents. But we’ll never know.
And to top it off–she was living just across the Puget Sound area in Washington state, over near Bremerton.
Bottom line–Diane was thrilled at our connection! We were able to round up pictures of her mom from my old photo albums and tell her all about the life of the mom she never knew. When my mom and sister, Debbie, flew up from California that summer, we gathered and chatted and all of us could definitely see the Hunter family resemblance.
As we occasionally checked in with each other over the past two years, she never stopped expressing her gratitude for connecting with her and it brought her such happiness. It just helped fill in so many blanks.
Unfortunately, the clock was ticking and our time together would be limited. She had been battling cancer. Diane actually beat it once, but as I’m sure you’ve heard, it’s a mean son of a bitch and this time around, it eventually became too much. Our time together was just shy of three years which points to the classic life lesson, you just never know how much time we have.
In recent weeks, I knew life was fading for Diane, but when we heard the news, I was still surprised. Yet, relieved. She was in a lot of pain and life, I’m sure, it became less and less of a life to look forward to waking up to. God blessed her with an amazing partner, her high school sweetheart, Russ, who helped her every way he could until the end. To get to know both of these kind, caring people AND to be able to know we were related is one of the things I will always treasure.
One of the last projects she tackled in her final days was finding a home for her beloved horse, Beau.
My friend, Paul, has been in my life since I married my wife, Victoria. Paul, and his partner, Rod, all lived together with my brother-in-law, Kris. Paul was known for many things–his incredible Christmas tree collection that would go on display in their home every year. Oh, I have to show pictures.
Paul also an amazing gambler. He could go to a casino (Angel of the Winds among his favorites) and bring home winnings in the tens of thousands! When health allowed, he had a meticulous backyard and could identify almost any of the beautiful plants growing back there. He loved to cook and create new masterpieces in the kitchen.
And he also was quite well known around the Seattle area for his alter-ego, Asia Cache.
Yeah, there was another side of Paul that his close friends knew about. To be honest, it was a world I had not previously been familiar with, but was so fun to hear about whenever those stories surfaced.
Sadly, Paul, like my cousin Diane, was also relentlessly pursued by cancer. Towards the end, there were good moments, surrounded by lots of bad days and so, with doctors’ approval, he chose to leave the building on his 66th birthday. I’ll forever be able to hear his laugh.
I was only recently made aware of the connection of these two souls. While in Long Beach, Washington, earlier this year to scatter the ashes of a cousin who passed last year, I had an extended opportunity to reconnect with another cousin, Bonnie. Bonnie was adopted by my Aunt Jan and for my entire life, I’ve always known here as “Cousin Bonnie.”
The woman that adopted her, my Aunt Jan, was the woman who gave up that baby, my cousin Diane, 70 years ago.
It turns out that back in Paul’s drag “Hey Day” as Asia Cache, he, his partner Rod and their friends would make the long drive to Puyallup to party at a bar called Trax that was owned by my cousin Bonnie and her partner.
Talk about a small friggin’ world.
A world that is now minus two of the more amazing people whose paths I’ve crossed during my lifetime and so, I just thought I would share.
Every now and then, a day comes along that’s so special, you can’t wait to tell people about it. This is in no way an attempt to brag, but a way to inform about the wonderful adventures I had this past Sunday and definitely, something is in it for you.
For starters, a good friend of mine was given tickets to see the Russell Wilson-less Seattle Seahawks play at Lumen Field against an even worse team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. OK, we might have a shot.
But this day was so much more than about a football game.
Both of us were excited to try out the new Seattle commuter train, that seems more like the shuttle they have installed at SeaTac. Automated announcements, telling you which side to exit and which stop is coming up next. It was amazing.
Now, I admit, I was a bit irritated by what I initially saw. Oh, you go over to what used to be the Northgate Mall and there were signs up in quite a few areas, where they charge $20 to park. I was thinking, “Wait—I have to pay to park AND pay to get down there?” This is breaking down quickly.
But while there ARE pay parking lots, there are still plenty of free spots and garages for you to choose from. OK, we’re over that hurdle. Now, what’s it going to cost to ride this train?
With two seniors trying to figure it out, we had to ask for the local King County cop for help, which he gladly provided. We had the right idea, we were just doing the steps in the wrong order. Got an Orca pass? You can use that to pay or plastic money. I had an Orca card I had loaded $20 on a couple of years ago, but just never got around to using. So, our transportation was paid for. What’s it cost for a senior citizen to take the train down to the International District for a short walk to Lumen Field? $2, round trip.
How long did the trip take? (and you’ll notice, I haven’t even gotten to the game yet) 15 minutes, from leaving the Northgate platform, to getting out in the International District. Return trip, same amount of time, although when you’re heading back, the trains are pretty packed. Something I can endure for 15 minutes.
It was the feeling of a big win as we walked to the stadium, passing lots that were charging $50 to park. And then you get to wait in all that traffic to get home. Seriously, from the time our train started moving to the time I pulled in my driveway was less than 25 minutes.
Now, it’s time to talk about all the bonuses:
THE DAY—this was a picturesque, classic northwest fall day with the trees screaming with color, the sun-drenched blue skies, the crisp fall air and no rain.
THE GAME–No Russell Wilson, but even though there were a few missed opportunities along the way, the Seahawks pounded the Jaguars. When the Jags actually scored with not very much time left, we decided that if snuck out now, we’d beat some of the train rush. Of course, while we were in the restroom, we heard on the radio broadcast that the Seahawks ran an onside kick back for a touchdown. I’ll swear ’til my dying day, I saw it.
THE TRAIN–We knew this was the way to go. The eastern U.S. and Europe have known this as long as there have been tracks. If you want to read the frustrating Seattle history of how we avoided doing this a half-decade ago, read this. If you didn’t know about it, it’ll blow your mind. (they said that a lot back in the 1960s)
THE COACH–Seahawks Coach Mike Holmgren was inducted into the “Ring of Fire” and is now the 14th member of that special group of people. In his speech, he referred to the TWO championships we should have. I’m sure he was referring to the year he was cheated out of a championship by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the referees that were on their payroll.
HALLOWEEN–The icing on the cake: there were fun costumes and goofy people around during the game. It was a fun atmosphere and on top of that, the first home win of the season. It was numbing.
This Friday, I’m going to attempt talking my wife into taking the train down to the Eagles concert, getting off at Westlake and hopping on board the Monorail to the Seattle Center. Bet you didn’t know that all of your public transportation to any event at Climate Pledge Arena covers the cost of your public transportation ticket? We’ll see how that works.
It might be a future blog.
But nothing is going to tarnish the memories I have of last Sunday, my amazing day.
We have a serious homeless problem, not just in Seattle, but across the country.
The current mindset of our current city and county leadership is that if you’re not all in favor of pouring an endless supply of money at the problem, regardless of results, you’re a heartless bastard.
Hey–that’s Mr. Heartless Bastard to you!
I see parks overrun with tents, playgrounds no longer safe for kids to play off because of discarded needles, people with absolutely no hope of getting out of their current situation on their own. And some, now experiencing the only situation they can remember, prefer to stay put.
Here are a few pics I snapped at Ballard’s Commons Park a few days ago. To think, around 5 years ago, I hosted a pet show there.
I know I’ve blogged about this topic before, never even thinking that it wouldn’t have been resolved over a decade later. But for the millions of tax dollars poured into non-working solutions, to see homelessness spreading like a disease and worsening everywhere it goes, I need answers to the questions that just won’t go away.
Before going on, a quick recap of my personal, simplified philosophy on the topic.
There are three types of homeless people:
1) The Drug or Alcohol Users
2) The Mentally Challenged
3) Those legitimately down on their luck and who have nowhere else to go, except to places where the first two groups hang out.
Anyone with a milligram of compassion would like to see each of these groups get help, get off the streets, and return to a level of normal life. But what has been wrongly described as “compassion” has been to allow these people to continue their current existence, living in parks, on sidewalks, in dilapidated RV’s parked along the road.
How is that helping them?
The first two categories need serious help, which we don’t force them to do because that would imposing our values on them and violating their rights.
I missed the memo where setting up a tent alongside a freeway, throwing your garbage and human waste outside for someone else to deal with is a right. Within my lifetime, they had laws against such things like loitering, trespassing, vagrancy, littering and so many more that are no longer enforced. Oh, the laws are still on the books, but none are enforced because to be homeless moves you into a protected class.
Among the reasons being given for all these people on the streets and in our parks: it’s because Seattle doesn’t have any affordable housing. Local government’s answer? GIVE them a place to live and everything will be fine. They’ll be off the street and we’ll all live happily ever after.
Who are you trying to kid?
The prevailing thought is that you give the people in the beltways and parks a tool shed of their own to call home, they’re suddenly going to turn into neat freaks and proud home owners. Do you really believe that? Or will these tiny homes filled with the mentally ill and serious drug and alcohol users become nothing more than government-funded slums?
So, you’re saying that, “Yeah, they live that way now, but if we give them a place to stay, they’ll become model citizens.” Did you never have a messy roommate?
When 2021 is in the history books, the city of Seattle will have spent $160-million on homelessness. Just in one year.
You tell me–with all the money that’s been spent, is the problem getting better or worse?
So, you’re serious with this plan: We’re not going to demand that the drug and alcohol abusers get help, or that the mentally challenged get assistance, but we will give them a mini-house or a room in a former motel and then, things will suddenly get better? Really?
Spending tax dollars so that Seattle’s political elite can feel better amongst themselves or have something to talk about at their next fund-raiser doesn’t work for me.
I think we should stop ALL spending on homelessness, and slowly resume it–first, funding those programs that have legitimately shown results, and then expand on those.
Is that just too much common sense?
And also, let’s seperate the down-on-their luck folks away from the drug & alcohol dependent and the mentally challenged. When you’re in the water and drowning, you don’t reach out to take as many people as possible with you. Let’s seriously help those asking for help. Those are the people I want to fund towards a better life.
Helping people who don’t want our help just doesn’t make sense. We’re ignoring the root problem and assuming it will just disappear by giving them a government-funded place to live.
Let’s say, instead of drugs or mental issues, it was a domestic violence situation. Would moving that dysfunctional family to a new residence fix the problem? I seriously doubt it.
It’s an extremely complicated situation, I get it. But the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. That is exactly what we are doing.
And one more question that I have while I’m wallowing around in this topic. I keep hearing the phrase, “Affordable housing.” As you know, we live in a free-market economy, capitalism and all that. Prices are all a result of supply and demand. Just because I am currently in Seattle doesn’t mean I have a God-given right to be here, regardless of cost. Play that game, and I could say, “I have a God-given right to live in Beverly Hills. Where’s my free place?”
I don’t have that right. Back in the day, when people looked at their economic situation, they made a choice as adults that maybe they need to relocate to something they can afford. Eastern Washington. A house in one of the suburbs. Sure, there’s no Lake Washington view, but you could afford to live there, pay bills and have a life. When did that become not OK?
Right now, there are some readers who made it this far that are thinking, “I had no idea Tim was such a heartless bastard.”
I’m not. I just want to aim all of our efforts towards fixing the situation, not enabling it and allowing it to continue. Forever.
I know, I know, the problem has to do with what I titled this piece.
Maybe this is why we’re only meant to live so long. From the day you’re born to the time you start dreaming of retirement, the world changes a lot. The longer we stick around, the more we are told the things we know are wrong and that we should feel bad for it.
Oh, you know what I’m talking about.
I want to focus on one of those items in that collection of corrected thought, brought to my attention last week when the Rolling Stones announced they had dropped the song, “Brown Sugar’ from the playlist of their current “No Filter” tour. I have to say, that is one of my all-time favorite Rolling Stones songs and to see it performed live two years ago at what was known as Qwest Field, it was part of an amazing night of rock ‘n roll that I’ll never forget.
But I guess now, I’m suppose to forget about it.
So, what’s the deal about “Brown Sugar?” Here’s the story, for those who want all the details. The first I heard about it, I thought to myself, “Oh, for God’s sake! What’s so bad about that song?” I found the lyrics online and I didn’t even make it past the first paragraph before I completely understood. In fact, I wondered how it had survived this long.
Here’s the first verse of “Brown Sugar”:
Gold Coast slave ship bound for cotton fields Sold in the market down in New Orleans Skydog slaver knows he’s doin’ all right Hear him whip the women just around midnight.
I mean, outside of slave ships, cotton fields, being sold into slavery, a slavemaster and whipping women, what’s not to love?
For those of you who didn’t listen to that break, yeah, back when the song came out in 1969, I was a freshmen in high school and mom was about to make her weekly trip to Foods, our go-to grocery store for the big spend. Back in those days, they sold 45’s in the grocery store for, I think, 79-cents (I remember them being as low as 49-cents each). So, I asked mom if she would pick up the Rolling Stones’ song, “Brown Sugar” and she said she would.
I was so excited for her to return home so I could put it on my record player. But as she handed it to me, she said, “You know, I almost didn’t buy this for you, because of the song on the other side.”
It turns out they had chosen the song “Bitch” to put on the flip side.
Most of the people I have talked with about this “controversy” admit, once they’ve heard the lyrics, that yeah, it should probably go away. Everyone I chatted with had no idea that’s what Mick was singing about. I sure didn’t.
But the melody is so great, here’s hoping the Stones take some time and rewrite the lyrics to make it something that doesn’t offend anyone. In fact, I’m going to offer them a rewrite for the first verse absolutely free. However, if you want me to tackle the rest of the song, boys, it’s gonna cost you:
Gold Bond treatment for hurting feet It’s on sale over at Walgreens William Shatner knows he’s doin’ all right ‘Till he has to go and get up around midnight.
When you stop and think about it, each of our lives have been blessed with so many amazing people. But for the grace of God, our paths might never have crossed. I suppose, then, I’d not realize just how much I had missed out on.
Such is my situation with a guy named John Sandvig. Over the past decade, I took a crash course on all the things this guy had done in his lifetime and all the time, while we were in each other’s backyard. He was a radio guy, and so was I, in the Seattle market, 25+ years ago.
But while I was playing Christopher Cross, Celine Dion and other soft rock artists over at KLSY, John ended being the Sales Manager over at KISW during its rock hey day. While I posed for pictures with Darius Rucker, Kenny Loggins and Sarah MacLauchlan, John got to hang out with bands like the Who, Led Zeppelin and so many more.
I know we would have had a hoot together had our paths crossed back in those days, but it was not meant to be.
Somewhere around 2010, I attended a Police concert at the Key Arena at the Seattle Center. It was a great show and as the last song wrapped up, my wife looked at the guy I had been sitting next to all night long and she said, “I think I know him.” The wheels spun furiously until the pieces came together and she leaned over and said to him, “You’re John Sandvig, right?”
I swapped places with her and they began to talk about old times. Technically speaking, John was Victoria’s mom’s cousin. But because they were much closer in age, they always kind of thought of each other as cousins. Over the course of time, she had lost touch with John, but this was a much-appreciated reunion.
That’s what I’m trying to explain. I’ve only known this guy for a little over 10 years, but in that time, I learned so much about him.
Prior to meeting him, I had heard Victoria reference his parents, Jerome and Clair, who were like Ballard Norwegian music royalty. They sang all over town, threw fabulous parties and Ballard was their stomping ground. I know on more than one occasion, we’ve gone and placed flowers on their graves at the cemetery not far from us.
John grew up in Ballard and attended Ballard High school. For a stretch, John dated a nice girl named Bunny. However, when high school ended, they went their seperate ways.
I learned that while at Pacific Lutheran College in Tacoma back in the day, he was in a band called The Deacons. They had a regional hit with a song called, “You can’t get there from here,” with John singing the lead vocals. Remember, he came from a musical family. They performed together from 1964-1968 at all kinds of Northwest venues, including a one-year stretch where they did over 300 shows.
In 2014, the Deacons reunited for one more performance at PLU for homecoming. 50 years later, the band was back together. In fact, John’s wife Bunny actually sewed all their band costumes for them. Yes, Bunny, from those high school days. After attending a Ballard High class reunion, there were now both single and they fell back madly in love. For the last 10+ of John’s life, he got to spend his final decade on earth with his high school sweetheart.
Wow, that PLU concert was 7 years ago. This blog helped me remember that night.
A couple of years ago, John was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. At first, it was a slow decline, but it just kept getting worse. The last two to three years of John’s life were spent in a thickening fog. We got to see him a couple of times, and, at first, he was so excited to see us. In later visits, it took time for him to slowly remember who we were, when that smile of his would return. But sadly, after visiting with him, 30 minutes later he wouldn’t have remembered we were even there.
Damn you, Alzheimer’s.
He took his last breath this year on July 11th. That happened to be John and Bunny’s 12th wedding anniversary.
This past Saturday, family and friends gathered to look at old pictures of all those years gone by, and share stories. It wasn’t surprising that there was a flood of fun and laughter as we reflected on the life of this man who came into the world only 76 years ago.
He was a man of faith, a caring husband, father, grandfather and friend and even though I only scratched the surface of knowing him, I had a chance to witness his world and the people around him. There’s no denying, John Sandvig was one remarkable man.
Former Seattle Supersonics stadium voice, George Toles, recorded a video eulogy that was played on Saturday. He had lots of stories about John and their radio sales days together, with a few jokes tossed in. My favorite: “John is now up in heaven, where there are no tears, there are no wars, and there are no Houston Astros.”
It was completely my pleasure to know you, John Sandvig. Rest well. I promise you’ll be among the first people I look up.
If you know me, I’m a multi-tasking fool. I like it. I appreciate it. I’ve known people who have done something similar to what I decided to do seven years ago—get out of the 9-5 routine and put together a collection of jobs, of things I LIKE to do, and make a living that way–but that just weren’t as lucky getting enough jobs to keep them busy. Yes, it was a risk. But at some point, you cross a threshold where you believe in your abilities enough that it just all works out.
I am a flat out achievement addict. I have a collection of year-round projects that I like to take on, despite my already busy schedule, because I like being busy.
There’s my annual April Fools Day video project, “National Gullible Day.” I am organizing another Christmas CD, as I call it, a collection of songs, memories and comedy that has been a passion project of mine for 21 years now. I write and produce a Christmas parody song every year with local singer, Alana Baxter. Again, not for financial gain, but because that’s what I enjoy doing!
A typical day for me begins at 4:45am. I listen to the radio news while on my rowing machine, play a round of “Jeopardy” on my Alexa, and then it’s off to writing for Radio-Online. Once that’s completed, I have a hand-written list of projects by my side, to cross off, one-by-one, as I do them. While I’m working on that list and crossing things off up above, I’m usually adding things down below.
That list could include my daily radio show, this blog (I have to remind myself), do a podcast, produce a podcast, do social media posts for my clients, write up a newsletter or design an email blast, produce a new video ad for one of the clients, and so on and so on.
Each day, I dive into a pile of tasks and frankly, I impress myself with what all I end up accomplishing by the end of the day.
That is, unless I experience the much-dreaded, “Time Vampire.”
Time Vampires are real. They’re out there lurking. On a day you have exactly enough time to do 14 projects, they’ll contact you and make it 19. And while either talking to you, or going back and forth with emails, they cost you time for one or two of the projects you had hoped to get done.
They don’t suck blood. They suck time. That’s why I call them, “Time Vampires.”
For the most part, they mean no harm. It could be they don’t even realize that they’re harming my daily work efforts. The one that really drives me nuts is when they tell you about a project that, with planning you can work in sometime over the next couple of days, but then they drop in that key phase, “by tomorrow.”
And of course, you’ve developed an “Oh, I’ve got this” mentality so that no matter what gets hurled your way, you make it happen. Maybe not your absolute best work, but you get it done.
Now, before you start referring doctors who might help me with this phenomena, let me assure you that Time Vampires are real.
While the blood-sucking variety has such fear-mongering names like Dracula and Nosferatu, Time Vampires are known by softer, less threatening names like Inconsiderico, Imposeonya, and the worst of them all, Screwyooallup. Let’s compare them:
So, just know that they’re out there and they will show up when you least expect them.
And when you find yourself running late or just not achieving at the level you like to be, you have someone to blame: the Time Vampires. It’s what I do.
Every now and then, I’ll take on a new challenge and while I may not be the poster child for how to do the task, I figure what I didn’t know, I know now. That keeps the wrinkles coming in the gray matter and I’m just that much more equipped to deal with projects and situations in the future.
But this past week was like a New Skill Boot Camp. I emerged with so many new insights and nuggets of knowledge that I thought I’d share a few of them.
THE DOWNSTAIRS BATHROOM
It’s a half-bath where the shower curtain rod is mostly used for hanging clothes to dry. We had the tub refinished once before, but it didn’t take long for the white to start peeling off. It looked like hell. So, I turned to Yelp and found The Seattle Bathtub Guy. Guess what he does? The reviews were great, his work amazing, and if we ever need that kind of work done again, he’s my go-to guy.
In order for him to access the tub, I was told I needed to remove the toilet. My wife and I discussed it and decided while we were removing it, we might as well replace it with a nicer-looking, more efficient one, which we purchased. Once the tub was refinished and it was safe to go in there, I put my YouTube knowledge to work, found a couple of videos of how to install one, and went to work.
Step one is setting the new bowl down on the wax seal perfectly, so it seals up as you tighten down the screws. Just like in the video. But when I connected the bowl, it leaked. I tightened the bolts more, it still leaked. The answer eventually became obvious that you REALLY need to tighten those bolts, which I did and the leaking stopped. I had heard too many scare stories about over-tightening bolts on a toilet, it cracks and you get to buy a new one. I’m thinking that applies more to the floor bolts, than the bowl.
So, the biggest lesson I learned was that I should have been wearing gloves. Some of you may be yelling at your computer or phone screens now, thinking, “Ew! How could he do all that without wearing gloves?” To me, it was get in, get it gone, get out and then wash your hands really well. I think that theory would have played out, if I hadn’t splashed some sewer water that went up by my mouth and into my eye. That opened the door for a bacteria to get into my system which allowed Montezuma to enjoy his revenge without using up any frequent flyer miles. Looking at the positive side, I increased my vocabulary and now know what “Campylobacteriosis” is.
Heavy duty gloves have been ordered on Amazon.
THE HONDA HEADLIGHT
My step-daughter asked I could change a headlight for her, on her 2005 Honda CR-V and my immediate response was, “Of course I can!” Then, off to YouTube I ran again, to see what I was getting myself into. See, if you’re old school like me, you’d think you have to remove the big headlight, put a new one in, and then adjust it so it’s at the right level. Oh, what a different world in which we live.
So, in this case, you go under the hood, unplug the light, remove a rubber gasket, and then try to find the clip that needs to be sprung so you get the bad bulb out and replace it. Un-doing the clip was by far the hardest part, but once I got that, I was in and out in less than 7 minutes.
THE BACKED-UP SEWER LINE
We try to be good. Using minimal amounts of toilet paper, flushing more than usual, etc. We live in an older home, so it’s probably to be expected, but we’ll get the occasional backed-up sewer line.
It seems to happen about every couple of three years. Sometimes, I grab my 75-foot pipe snake and can knock it loose. But the last time, it couldn’t reach the problem. I went to Lowe’s, looking for a 100-foot long snake, but they didn’t have any. Then I saw this thing called “a bladder.” Again, I’m sure there are advanced homeowners out there right now saying, “Well, yeah, duh, Tim.” But in my 30+ years of owning homes, this device had never crossed my radar.
Let’s say you have a blocked sewer line. You attach this bladder to the end of your garden hose, bring it in through a window and then start feeding the garden hose into your sewer line until you can’t go any further or you’ve run out of hose. Here’s the key. First, you turn on the water slowly, so that the bag of the bladder fills with water. While doing that, it expands and creates a seal in the pipe. Then, you crank the water pressure up to max and whatever was blocking your main sewer line is blasted out and you have cleared out your drainage problem.
While our minds are in the gutter, with our summer being as dry as it was, the roots of those thirsty trees in your yard may have found a way into your sewer line and you won’t find that out until the first heavy rains of the season.
This has absolutely nothing to do with fixing up anything. My son, his wife and the grandkid came over on Saturday for my birthday dinner (one of several this month) and he brought along ribs. Not just any ribs–barbecued ribs from Peg Leg Porker. While on a business trip back in Tennessee, Tyson had been told about this place for great ribs. He was so impressed, that he eventually brought his wife back there. And, for my birthday, he had them flown out for our celebration. OMG. Now, I’m a big fan of Carolina Smoke up in Bothell, and until I am asked to judge a Rib Off between the two, I’ve gotta say that Peg Leg Porker was in the realm of “to die for” ribs.
As I mentioned on my little radio show on KRKO each morning, I’m big on knowing things. I feel you just can’t know enough and so, when I learn something new, I’m glad to share. Hopefully, there’s a nugget or two in there that makes you just a little bit more smarter.
Or, if you already knew all these things, I’ll at least feel a little less dumb.
I don’t know about you, but I quickly became consumed with this whole Gabby Petito situation.
It’s not like heinous crimes haven’t become a daily part of our lives. All it takes is opening yourself up to the flood of information aimed at us daily, and you’ll quickly get your fill.
From the beginning of the Gabby story, I sensed something incredibly wrong. As the days rolled on, more and more revelations indicated this just wasn’t going to turn out well.
It started September 11th, when Gabby’s family reported her missing. They hadn’t heard from their young, 22-year-old daughter for several weeks. She had been on a road trip adventure with her fiancé` and even though they traveled to the middle of nowhere, it was unusual for her not to check in for that long.
Back home, her best friend hadn’t heard from Gabby on her birthday. That wasn’t like her. Then, it was revealed that the guy she was traveling with had returned to his parents’ home, with HER van and had been home five days before the rest of the world found out that Gabby was not with him. First, his parents wouldn’t allow police to talk with him. (wait, he’s an adult, right?) Then, they said he had actually left their home several days before and that they “didn’t know where he was.” I hope over time that, if their son is convicted as Gabby’s killer, that the parents are charged with something to do with harboring and aiding a fugitive.
I started writing this on Monday. Tuesday afternoon, we got the word that the medical people had identified that body found near Grand Teton National Park matching her description was actually Gabby.
Over time, I’m sure we’ll find out the complete story, learn every sordid detail, and set up our DVR’s to record the story when it arrives on 48 hours. It’s what we do.
But the reason I’m diving into this topic this week is because it didn’t have to be that way.
As you probably saw on the police body cam footage when they were called out because of a reported domestic dispute, Gabby was shaken. She was not happy, she was crying and told police matter-of-factly that she and her boyfriend had a fight. Police didn’t have enough evidence to take any steps, neither wanted to press charges, which we now realize probably could have saved her life. With insufficient evidence of a crime, there was nothing they could do and had no choice but to let them go.
I look at pictures of that cute, bubbly 22-year-old with her whole life ahead of her and having all of her future adventures robbed from her and it just makes me sad. Watch her videos and see how full of life she was. See the news reports with her parents pleading for information about the whereabouts of their daughter and feel their pain.
Again, it just didn’t have to be this way.
From the second we’re born, the clock is ticking. We’re free to choose whatever path we want, we’ll make mistakes and if they’re bad ones, we’re the ones that pay the price. It’s how the world works.
I just wish somewhere along the line that someone would have said to Gabby, “Are you sure about this? Is he hurting you? Are you sure you want to connect your life to this guy?” It always amazes me that someone so out-going, seemingly so happy, could have a level of insecurities that kept her there and in harm’s way.
Monday, I celebrated my 66th birthday. While I hope for many more years to come in the future, I’ve already enjoyed a lot of friggin’ years and a lifetime of experiences. Most were good, but there are some bad ones in there. That’s true for everyone. As long as we stick around, there will be more major decisions to make–potential turning points in your life. Looking back I feel really good about 95% of my life-changing decisions, with only a couple of minor exceptions.
They say that when you’re down to your last few breaths, it’s not the things you did during your life that flash before you, it’s the things you didn’t do. If your life isn’t quite what you had in mind, please, make a change. Switch directions. Have confidence in your abilities.
Career-wise, I’ve had three major shifts in my lifetime. Two were not my idea, the third was all me, rolling the dice and believing it would all work out. And it did. That’s what is going to fuel me into my feeble years. Between now and then, I’m going to continue doing exactly what I want to be doing. Absolutely, I’ve been blessed, but it’s the good things I’m focusing on, not the things that go south.
If, right now, your life isn’t going the way you had planned, remember: it just doesn’t have to be this way. Especially, in relationships, physical violence at any level is not normal, is not acceptable and undeserved. Period. And you have family, friends and even complete strangers that will support you in making a change.
I only wish someone would have passed along that speech to Ms. Petito earlier. God’s peace to her family.
PS ABC Meteorologist Ginger Zee wrote this articleafter the Gabby story reminded her of her own situation in her earlier years. Worth a read.
OK, one more collection of thoughts from my 3-state adventure last weekend, that took me from the Land of Lincoln, through Indiana, over to Michigan and back.
I was entertained by the signs we saw during our 10 hours in the car.
However, I couldn’t resist starting our trip with a few questions about the obvious. When we were in Chicago, that big lake where the city is located–why isn’t it Lake Illinois? Nope. Chicago is on Lake Michigan. I asked if there was a Lake Chicago in Michigan. Kristi told me, “No. But there’s a Michigan City in Indiana!” Of course there was.
So, with that in mind, I thought I’d offer a collection of the signs that caught my eyes during our condensed weekend in the middle of the country.
Of course, when we arrived to the scene of the crime, they had to make sure we knew their slogan: “Pure Michigan.”
I’m thinking a Husky snuck on board this bus to change this sign.
And a sign I was SO glad to see. I didn’t even know that Bob’s Big Boy Restaurants were even still around.
Well, maybe not exactly THAT building. This could be where they make that other Pfizer product you’re familiar with.
Anyway, just wanted to share. Plus, it helps me remember if I write it down.
Well, actually, I didn’t lose, my team did. I actually won more than I lost during our recent adventure.
So this plan slowly evolved over the years. Once we heard Michigan was coming to play in Seattle, followed by them hosting us the following year, we toyed with the idea of going back to Ann Arbor when it was the Huskies’ turn to travel to the Midwest.
Then, COVID hit and last year’s meeting in Seattle was postponed to 2028. Great.
We have a couple of Michigan friends and the more we talked about it, the more we decided to make it happen. I have friends that have done the Husky road game thing and the idea of me being able to go back and see “The Big House” in person, it was pretty much a bucket list item.
Of course, this was back when I was believing all the hype about how good the Dawgs were going to be this year.
So, I thought I would pass along everything I learned from this experience so that, should you ever decide to try and do a Road Trip Weekend, you’ll gain from my lessons learned.
Here’s how the game plan looked:
Catch an 8am flight, arrive in Chicago around 3pm, hang out with our Wolverine friend, Kristi, and then get up early and hit the road.
Get up early and hit the road. Wait, I just said that. We arrived in Ann Arbor by 2pm with a couple of potty stops thrown in, grabbed some lunch and began walking.
We walked all over the U of M campus, hearing stories of our friends’ time back on campus. At one building, as we were going in, a future Wolverine leader asked me, “Washington….is that D.C. or the state?” I answered his question so he wouldn’t have to look it up.
From campus, we walked to a nearby golf course, where Kristi’s family had a tailgate party set up. We were surrounded by a sea of Maize & Blue. We enjoyed the delicacies of the day and then, walked to the game. Notice the key word, “walk.”
We were surrounded by 108,000 fans, most from Michigan, with a smattering of Purple and Gold throughout the stadium, including us.
And after the walk from the library where we parked, to the campus, to the tailgate party and then to the game, we got to stand pretty much the entire game if we wanted to see it. Despite the fact we didn’t want to, we still stood.
As the game ended, we headed out to our rendezvous point to meet up with our group and then WALK back to the library. Throw in post-game traffic and a 25-minute drive to our hotel room and we didn’t lay our heads down on our pillows until 2am.
The alarm went off at 7am, we met up in the lobby at 8:15am and then headed to a breakfast place I found in Yelp. it was awesome. What a discovery!
After breakfast, we made a couple of stops before beginning the trek back to Chicago.
Our first destination was a place called Novi, around 30-minutes out of Detroit, where my cousin Pat lived. I mean, c’mon, we had traveled all this way and to be just a few moments away from a cousin I had only heard about and never actually met–I just had to get by and say hi!
From there, we swung through Kalamazoo, Michigan, the hometown of our Wolverine tour guide, Kristi. We got the abbreviated tour, stopped by to see her parents, pick up a cooler that had been left with one of her brothers at the Tailgate party, and then headed off to the Windy City.
Oh, and on our way out of Kalamazoo, we drove by the Pfizer plant where they made that now-famous vaccine.
Hours later, Kristi dropped us off at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, where we caught our flight home.
Since we were flying home on a Sunday, both my wife and I wore our Seahawks blue. As we made our way through the terminal, a little voice yelled out, “Hey!” I turned to look to see if he was talking to me and he was. It was a 3-year-old kid wearing a Seahawks jersey, so I yelled, “Go Hawks!” and he replied, “Go Hawks!” What a special moment. Nice to see parents raising their kids the right way.
Was the whole trip worth it? Absolutely, for so many reasons. A Husky win would have been the icing on the cake, but I did pick up some tips about trying this kind of thing, so I thought I’d pass them along to you.
Give yourself more time.
Yes, you CAN do it in three days, but trying to do everything we did in that allotted time was insane. Several of us had Fitbits on and we figured we had taken 26,843 steps on that Saturday. Up to this point in my life, I haven’t taken that many steps. It was so many, my Fitbit reported itself stolen. That’s 75 flights of stairs.
Lesson: Pad both sides of the trip and give yourself a couple of days to do things leisurely, rather than wedging them in. Your knees will thank you.
Bring a Portable Phone Charger
I had actually thought of this and charged mine. I just left it at home. The result was, I was constantly on the prowl for energy sources so I could charge my phone. It wasn’t about me being connected. it was largely due to the fact our game tickets were on an almost dead phone
Lesson: Bring TWO chargers.
Keep reminding yourself to be in the present and take it all in. It already seems like forever ago and I’m realizing that I brought back almost more memories than I could pack.
It’s a trip I’ll be talking about for years, filled with special moments and lessons. My goal is to try and remember at least half of each.
Right now, there are so many half-baked concepts being passed around like they’re God’s truth, it can be overwhelming.
Of course, you’ve heard the one where the COVID vaccine contains microchips so that Bill Gates can control our thoughts? Apple is said to be working on one of their own that is easier to use.
And then there are those rocket scientists insisting that horse de-wormer will prevent COVID. Most of those people were rushed to emergency rooms, but the good news–not a single worm among ’em.
But it’s time for me to rip the cover off of a longtime secret organization that has terrorized me every single year during the Husky football season. This dastardly group is so evil, they don’t even have a name, but I’m outing them now for all for everyone to know about.
I’ll begin by figuring out a name to call them. Since apparently their goal is to prevent me from being able to relax and enjoy watching a U.W. football game, I’m going to assign them the handle, the “Talidawg.”
The Talidawg (or T.D. for short) uses everything in their power to make it almost impossible for me to watch Husky games. My best guess is that sometime in July or August, they begin plotting out all the variables that help them keep me from watching games.
They have more tools than ever to accomplish their vile objective. There was a time that all fall football games were a 12:30 kickoff and that was that. Then came along the Pac-12 channel and TV determined how to stack the games on television to fill a broadcast day. That meant that some days, the games could start as early as 11am, or as late as 8pm, all based on my weekend social calendar. And, of course, they wouldn’t announce when the games would take place until two weeks away, after we have made social plans.
Get invited to a birthday party in the evening? Definitely a night game that weekend. Going out of town for the Labor Day Weekend? Let’s make that a late afternoon game, since we don’t have WiFi up at the cabin. (Ha–I cheated the bastards last weekend by streaming it on my phone, although, in this case, it would have been OK if they had blocked it)
During full-blown COVID last year, it would have been easy to catch all the games because we were trapped at home. The problem there was that the team caught COVID and only played 4 actual games before being contagiously removed from the Pac-12 Championship game.
This coming weekend, I out-foxed them. We are actually going to Michigan to see the game in person. Sure, after last weekend’s debacle, I’m having second thoughts. But life is all about the adventure, right? It’s also nice of me to give the Talidawg the weekend off so they can come up with more ways to block me out of the rest of the season.
One thing about me, as a die-hard University of Washington Husky fan, I’m in it for the long haul. I was a season ticket holder (although, it was the last season I did that) the year the team went 0-12. Talk about being a glutton for punishment (not to be confused with a gluten). I’m pretty sure that year was the one the Talidawgs consider their greatest achievement.
Do you know how awful that season really was? It was so bad, the official school poster for the season (which I have around here somewhere) didn’t even have all 12 games listed. They forgot the last one against Cal.
Damn you, Talidawg!!!
Which, by the way, I also have a theory that the Talildawg is made up of a consortium of Ducks and Cougars that are quietly working together, so as not to attract attention.
I win this weekend. The team may not, but I will. However, I’ll be ready to continue the good fight when I return, as their little conspiracy continues to torment me.
I’m done. I’m withdrawing my forces from Facebook.
Maybe I’m a freak, but I prefer to have my Facebook feed filled with positive things, funny jokes, updates on friends, the latest on family–you know, that kind of stuff.
Those who know me are well aware that I can tolerate things for so long, and then I’ll snap and make a change. I’m not talking going ballistic, but just saying to myself, “I’m so done with this” and acting towards a permanent solution to the situation.
And that’s where I am with Facebook. It took a while (for the past couple of years, tolerating those fanatical political posts) First, hiding their sources so I wouldn’t have to see anything more from that source again. Then, when they insisted on putting their ignorance on full display, I “snoozed” ’em for 30 days. And, as I mentioned before, I have a “three snoozes and you’re out” rule, so in the course of the past couple of years, I’ve had to unfriend several people. No loss.
But returning to my personal Facebook philosophy, I just don’t go there to argue, especially about the whole masking and anti-vaccine thing. That’s a no-win situation. There’s the science and then there are the weak-minded believers who parrot the misinformation they’ve found on a website or heard from the radio or a politician and they know it all. More than scientists, more than those with common sense, they just know.
Such was the case this past week, with I found, what I thought, was a nice collection of thoughts on the whole masking issue. (which has so many people wondering, “Why is this even an issue?”)
Make sense? Basically, asking people to mask up for others, not themselves. Nowhere in the Bill of Rights does it refer to the right to bare faces. But oh, no…this is where the “You’re infringing on my rights” thing reared its ugly head.
As you can see, I was flustered and had to mock the misinformed Tim that, indeed, part of the problem is that those reluctantly masking up are doing it half-assed, because they have to. That doesn’t help control the spread of the virus.
You people simply don’t realize how much you and all of us have to lose.
Sadly, this whole political divide is rooted in the rule of former President Trump, who had four years to spew his hate, fuel our national divide and preach his “us against them” gospel from our nation’s highest bully pulpit. The snake oil salesman had a sizeable amount of buyers.
I just don’t want to get into this topic on Facebook, only to leave there all ticked off until I return, and then see even more annoying comments. I’m moving the discussion to here. Want to post a response to what I have to say? Have at it. This is the correct platform, not Facebook.
So, I’ll begin.
Let’s start with “If the virus is surging, masks don’t work” comment. Dear God, such ignorance. You’re the kind of person that probably thinks, “He died in a car crash? How could he? He was wearing a seatbelt! See, they don’t work.”
Masks are a PART of the solution. However, even if you wear them properly, you still need to practice social distancing and wash and sanitize your hands. Or, did you think the pandemic is over?
I know that’s how they thought things were going down in the south.
I have absolutely no idea what people think they have to gain by fighting what we know works and avoiding the vaccine? You’re looking at the results of your actions. Instead of wrapping up this pandemic, you’re not only extending it, but you’re giving the virus an opportunity to morph into yet another variant. More on that in a moment.
Another aspect of the anti-vaccine movement–wait, let’s start calling it the Pro Covid movement–is how conservative Christians have fought against vaccines, masking and such. As a Christian and a Lutheran at that, I just don’t get it. For those using their Christianity as an excuse for not getting vaccinated, a couple of useful nuggets:
Where do they get these crackpot theories? Well, of course, the Internet, but also the blabber-mouths on the radio passing along their spin on the situation.
Let’s take a moment to honor some of those broadcasters right now.
Here are four that joined the COVID is a Hoax Hall of Fame over the past month–
Marc Bernier, a right-wing radio host in Florida opposed to vaccinations, has died of COVID-19 after a three week hospital stay.
Phil Valentine, a conservative radio host in Nashville who mocked vaccines and spread misinformation about the coronavirus has died of COVID-19. He was 61
Jimmy DeYoung, whose Christian radio show “Prophecy Today” was carried by 1500 stations worldwide, died of COVID on August 15.
Dick Farrell who called Dr. Anthony Fauci a “lying freak” and said COVID vaccines are “poisonous” died on August 6.
Coincidence or karma? Your call.
This makes me wonder, what is the Anti-Vaccine, Anti-Masker’s vision for the next 20 years? Is it so they’ll be able to say, “Ha! See, we didn’t need to get vaccinated!” or “You guys were such sheep! Remember when you used to wear masks all the time?”
You know what those of us who did get vaccinated and wear masks are going to be saying in 20 years? “How’s it going? Good to see ya. Remember that guy who thought the whole virus thing was a fraud and that masking and vaccines violated his rights? Where’s he buried again?”
I have to say those masks “that don’t work” have helped me stay cold and flu-free for 18 months and counting. That’s the first time I ever remember that happening. It’s not a major inconvenience for me to slap one on before I go into the store if that ends up meaning years of not getting sick. Glad to do it, and my wife and I plan on doing just that.
And when did you get all high and mighty about vaccines? Have you never had one? You know, your kids aren’t allowed in school without certain vaccines. It’s how we made things like measles and smallpox a thing of the past. Or, were those an infringement of your rights? Those failed arguments have a history.
So people don’t get vaccinated, don’t wear masks and don’t social distance because they have a “right” to not do those things. What’s the worst thing that could happen?
Variants. (I’m fighting the urge to be snarky and say, ‘I’ll wait while you look that up in the dictionary’)
I’ll simplify this. Play that game and, in time, you’ll catch coronavirus. Could be the original strain, the new and improved Delta variant, which is out there killing the unvaccinated now, or one of the new variants on the way and they ARE on the way. We’re learning about Lambda, while just this week, the World Health Organization starting looking at the Mu variant.
Eventually, we could have a variant which isn’t repelled by our current vaccines. Ready for another shut down?
So, for the Anti-Vaxers, Anti-Maskers and the “COVID isn’t really that bad” crowd, for all the above-mentioned reasons, THAT’S why we’d like to see you vaccinated. We actually want to see you stick around.
Then we can get back to arguing about less lethal things, like if the dress is blue or black.
Face it–we were happier back then.
If you need help in deciding what to post on Facebook that I’ll actually enjoy, how about something like this?
Argue away in the ‘Comments’ section below because this is where you should get it out of your system, not Facebook. I may argue with you here (not gladly) but not a drop of it on Facebook. Got it?
My forces there have been withdrawn and relocated here. However, if you insist on tainting my Facebook feed with your ignorance, ironically, you’ll be “masked.” Heh-heh.
P.S. My co-worker, Amp Harrell wrote this nice piece on Facebook that I think fits in here. Nicely said, Amp.
Friends, I have to share something. Thursday morning, I heard something on a national newscast that I did not expect. I heard a student reference Rutherford County Schools. For those who don’t know, he was speaking in favor of a mask mandate, as he lost his grandmother to COVID.
He was interrupted and mocked by adults in attendance, and at least one person visibly laughed.
Ultimately, by a narrow margin, RCS voted to institute a temporary mask mandate. By a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 margin, respondents to the tweet announcing this were loudly against it. Their comments also alerted me that there’s apparently a way to opt out, which doesn’t make it a mandate anymore.
Why do I care? Because this is MY school system. I attended school at McFadden, which is now a Murfreesboro City School I believe but may have been RCS when I attended. I opened Rockvale Elementary, and graduated as a Valedictorian from Riverdale High School. I broadcast softball against Siegel and basketball against Blackman; I also broadcast Oakland football’s championship run in 2018 before saying farewell to Tennessee by calling my alma mater Riverdale’s games in 2019. I even got a chance to call games FOR my school against a school I almost attended instead (Blackman) and one I would have attended if it had existed (Rockvale HS). I even called middle school basketball games at Stewarts Creek. I don’t get a lot of “from here” credit since we moved around so much, but I don’t think anyone can argue I’m not a product of RCS.
As such, I don’t say this lightly. Rutherford County? You need to get yourselves in order. Grown ups mocking a teenager whose grandmother died, because he had the audacity to suggest we all should wear a face covering during a global pandemic? Going on twitter to pout like a child that you’re against the rulings or that you’ll openly defy them? Who are we?
…actually, at this point, I’d like to say “Who are YOU.” This behavior doesn’t represent me. If anything, I’d like to point out how this “I know what’s best at all times” attitude is forcing these schools to let our children down. Allowing parents to opt their kids out of a mask mandate during a global health crisis is much like making sex-ed an “opt in” and allowing unqualified instructors to lie to our children. The most virtuous bible-belt area around, but you wonder why you’re seeing more teen pregnancies. After all, abstinence is 100% effective.
You don’t want “new math” in the classroom. You don’t want “critical race theory” or controversial books. You don’t want transgender children to use the restroom where they feel safest. You want to make sure creationism and intelligent design are taught alongside the theory of evolution, but you don’t want our children to learn anything positive about Islam. You don’t want qualified educators to take the place of parents when teaching (or ignoring) things that could lead to 18+ years of commitment and hard work. But you’re more than happy to build a screen door on a submarine because only 1% of people will die, and kids seem to do better with this virus anyway.
If you don’t see why this is a problem, then you are the problem. To my friends in the county I left behind…I’m sorry. I wish you good luck. But I don’t know if you have room to take those wishes home, with the overflowing “thoughts and prayers” you get from your politicians.
Last Saturday night, I did my first live, in-person auction in almost two years.
It kind of came out of nowhere. I remember talking with master Bothell Booster fundraiser Kim Monson earlier this year about the Bothell High School Boosters possibly having an auction, but it wasn’t until a week and a half ago that they asked, “Did you get our email?” I hadn’t, but Auctioneer Extraordinaire Ken Carson reached out to me to see if I had heard about it and the show was on!
And so, on Saturday night, August 21st, Ken, yours truly and the family and friends of Bothell High School football players gathered at the magical place known as Nardoland.
You could have lived here your entire life and never known that Nardoland exisits. For anyone who attended or had kids at Bothell High School, this is Mecca. I actually wrote a blog about this place several years ago and to this day, I still get random emails from people all over the country who stumbled across the story and want to know how they can get in to see it for themselves.
After the auction last weekend, I actually had a great chance to just sit down and chat with the owner, Ron Nardone. He played football for Bothell back in the early 1960s and remained so proud of his alma mater, he turned his spacious property into a Smithsonian-like salute to his Bothell High School Cougars.
Ron said he only allows events at his place three times a year. For his Bothell High School class reunions, for his wife’s Ballard High School reunions and for the annual Bothell Boosters event.
How you know you’re in the right place
Let me just take you on a tour of the memorabilia on display at Nardoland.
This is Ron, riding around his compound in a golf cart given to him by a friend down in Palm Springs.
It belonged to his friend’s mom
Ken & I had to get in a quick picture with Coach Tom Bainter. He’s entering his 22nd year as head coach of the Cougars.
And, of course, former Bothell City Councilman (and Cougar assistant coach) Del Spivey was there. I think he’s stalking me.
One of the cool auction stories from the evening: Every year, they offer a package called, “Hekker in Hollywood.” Former Bothell High football player Johnny Hekker went on to QB at Oregon State and then, became a punter in the N.F.L.. The package included two seats of the game of your choice to watch him punt footballs for the Los Angeles Rams down in L.A., two passes to Universal Studios and $500 cash. Ken was wrapping up this item with the traditional “Going once, going twice….SOLD!” when a woman claimed she wanted to bump the bidding higher. At that moment, quick-thinking Coach Tom Bainter called up Johnny and asked if he could double-it and he did.
I also hear that, in the off-season, Hekker is known to return to his Edmonds home and come over and work with the kickers at Bothell High during spring practices. What a guy!
This year, circumstances forced them to make this an outdoor event. In years’ past, we were all jammed inside the giant garage. But this year, they went with a large tent in the fresh open air and I’ll bet this is how they’re going to be doing this for years to come. By the way, here’s the picture that resulted when I asked folks to hold up their bid cards.
I actually originally asked them to hold up their vaccination cards, but they didn’t think that was funny.
My favorite line of the night: “Tonight, I’d like to ask you for your prayers. Oh, I’m healthy, doing fine. I just want to win the lottery and quit my job!”
However, that’s definitely not true. I can’t wait for my next visit to Nardoland. I just might have to blog about it again.
PS KOMO TV’s Eric Johnson did a great piece on Ron Nardone and Nardoland. Watch it here.
I think it’s a safe assumption that all of us care, at least to some degree, what others think of us.
It’s why we spend so much on clothes, or hairstyles or the car we drive around that’s really just something that gets us from here to there. We feel we have to have a specific sports shoe or post pictures on social media that reinforce the image we desperately want, so the world will think of us what we want them to think of us.
God, we’re a mess.
There are some of us who insist we don’t care what others think of us or, better yet, that they need to demonstrate that they’re superior human beings and that the rules, common sense and science don’t apply to them.
They just know better.
And it’s a powerful belief. So powerful that it helped extend our COVID-19 pandemic way beyond how long it would have run had everyone able to get the vaccine would have taken the shot.
I’m just imagining someone from the 1940s being transported to the future and finding themselves in 2021 as we continue battling this pandemic.
GUY: Wow, the world is an amazing place.
ME: Well, yeah, it is. I mean, just in the last ten years, the technology breakthroughs have been amazing.
GUY: What’s that over there?
ME: Oh, it’s a robot that vacuums our floors for us. We also have phones we carry around with us, that double as a camera and that connect us to the Internet where ever we go.
GUY: The Inter what?
ME: Oh, never mind. But as amazing all of our technology is, we’re actually battling one of the worst pandemics in the history of the earth.
ME: Did people really say that back then?
GUY: Not really. But you’re writing this. Well, hopefully it won’t be long until they come up with a vaccine.
ME: Oh, they already have one.
GUY: What? You mean, something that cures it?
ME: No, but it helps prevent people who catch the virus from getting worse and keeps you out of the hospital.
GUY: So, I suppose they don’t have enough for everyone?
ME: Oh, they do. But the vaccine became political last year.
GUY: Wait, wait. So, they have a vaccine that works and people are intentionally not getting it?
ME: Yep. Some say it’s because they don’t know what’s in there. Not that it’s ever stopped them from eating a hot dog. Others think tracking devices are embedded in the vaccine. There are even some who say that it will make you magnetic. I’ve got a niece whose doctor told her not to take it if she’s planning to have more kids. Oh, and others say they won’t get it because it’s against their rights.
GUY: Well, if it were me, I’d at least wear a mask
ME: But there are some who say that wearing a mask violates their rights.
GUY: What about people having a right not to get the virus? Especially when they know how to prevent it. You know, I think I’m going to go another 50 years in the future and see how this all turns out.
ME: Oh, I can tell you. The people who use the science will be here. Those who think they know more are taking their chances and could end up not being around. And we don’t know the long-term effects of what COVID does to the body. There are some battling symptoms months after initially catching it.
GUY: So, this is becoming like a natural selection thing.
ME: Yup. Like the caveman who went outside because it wasn’t fair that the T-Rex was forcing him to stay inside. Or the scuba diver who went in the water without a mask, because it violated his rights. You can’t save stupid.
GUY: You know, I think I’m going to head back now. You know, back then, all we had to worry about was World War II.
ME: Nice talking with you.
GUY: I can’t believe they can avoid it, but choose to get it.
ME: If we ever figure that one out, I’ll let you know.
Actually, we have figured it out. When President Trump said the virus was no big deal, that this was all just going to magically disappear, how he spent the last year of his term mocking Dr. Fauci and the science, when he downplayed the significance of the vaccine, caught COVID and still got the vaccine, but didn’t encourage his followers to get it, he ended up with full credit for mishandling one of the biggest attacks ever on our species.
And then, on Inauguration Day, inciting a riot at the Capitol Building to try and overturn the election verification process.
He basically was torching the country on his way out.
If you’re a Trump fan (and I know quite a few), I’m sorry. Not for what I said, but what history will bear out over time. History is the final judge and I promise you, it won’t be pretty.
There’s the old joke about the heavy rains that resulted in flooding. A man was standing on the roof of his house when a guy in a rowboat came by and yelled, “Hop in!” The guy responded, “That’s OK. God will save me.” Shortly afterwards, a guy on a jet ski came by as the water kept rising. The guy yelled, “Hop on!” and once again, he responded, “No, God will save me.”
Finally a helicopter flew overhead, dropped down a rope and he yelled up at the chopper, “No thanks. God will save me!”
Well, the water kept rising and the man drowned.
When he got to heaven, he saw God and said, “Hey! How come you didn’t save me?”
God replied, “I tried. I sent a boat, I sent a jet ski and a helicopter!”
This quote I saw on Facebook sums it all up: “What doesn’t kill you morphs and then comes back to try again.” As long as we keep allowing the virus to developed new strains, we’re going to stay right where we are. And people 50 years in the future will look back and wonder what the hell we were thinking.
Get the vaccine so we can argue about all this in the future. However, if you stick by your guns insisting it’s not for you, you can’t say that you didn’t at least have a chance. Actually, it’s possible you may not be around to say that.
I’ve kiddingly labeled a recent 2-day stay in Leavenworth as a vacation, because it’s really been the only time in the past 17 months that we got away from the usual routine and even though it was less than 48 hours away from home, I took it.
But last week, we flew out of Seattle and hit Santa Barbara for a few days, then went off to my hometown of Torrance, California, to hang with mom as she approaches her 93rd birthday. A total of 9 days away from home and I loved every minute of it.
Oh, I still got up early every morning to write for Radio Online. But just a couple of hours writing compared to my usual 5am-5pm days just felt like a vacation.
In Santa Barbara, Victoria’s cousin Judy and her husband Bill treated us to four days of seeing the town and experiencing walks on the beach, some fun restaurants and even an event called Viva La Fiesta.
Now, I’m not going to recap the entire trip, but I did want to share some photographic memories of our time there.
We also visited a woman named Terry who had lived in her home on a hill for 30 some years and had turned it into a showcase dessert garden. Here are just a few of the visual treats we enjoyed.
We then headed south to the place and the house where I grew up. My folks bought it a year before I arrived and mom still takes care of it. While we did a lot of hanging at home, helping mom with some of her projects around the house, we also snuck in a Dodger game while we were there. And, did an early celebration for mom’s upcoming birthday.
I’m telling you, I honestly haven’t shut down and relaxed like that since I don’t know when. I highly recommend it. As I sit here looking at those pictures and fondly remember those 9 special days, I can’t help but think, “So, THAT’S what a vacation feels like.”
I’m down in Southern California and currently staying outside the Los Angeles area, enjoying the cool ocean air, a high of 72-ish, and just a perfect, beautiful, relaxing setting.
This morning, my wife and her cousin were sitting out on the cousin’s front porch, sipping on coffee and enjoying the quiet of the morning. The cousin and her husband recently returned to living in their house after doing something really adventurous–renting out their home for the school year as they traveled and enjoyed the world.
Now they’re back living at their beautifully remodeled home. Returning to that scene at the front porch, one of their neighbors walked by on this gorgeous, sun-drenched morning as the two women chatted and yelled out, “You should put your flag back up!”
The cousin explained that they had been out of the country for a while and that the woman may have been confused with the neighbor next door, who flies an American flag.
“Oh, not the American flag. The TRUMP flag!”
The cousin responded, “Oh, that wasn’t us. But we can still be friends!”
As the woman walked away, she yelled back, “Not really. I don’t speak Chinese.”
Who knew that sheep could be so hateful? Wait a minute–I guess we already knew that! And I suppose we also now know she probably wasn’t vaccinated.
Another reminder that hate in America is alive & well. How sad is that?
Growing up, I had occasional brushes with them. In home movies, you can see a 4-year-old version of me (hmm, I don’t recall a life jacket) on a rowboat during vacation up in Washington State.
The big story around that visit is that a cousin of mine put a brand-new engine on that boat, went out in the water and it fell off, sinking in the mud below and was never seen again. Apparently, he hadn’t attached it very well and it was the reason someone had to row.
A year or so later, I went up to Big Bear Lake and went out on a boat fishing with my uncle Chuck and cousin Charlie. I don’t remember catching fish, but I do remember them thinking it was hilarious when I decided to try eating some salmon eggs.
One time during a South Dakota family trek, my late uncle James, my dad and I went out on the Missouri River, with me latching on to a huge Northern Pike. It’s trips like that one that makes one a fisherman for life.
However, I never really owned a boat until I was married, a couple of kids in and had cracked 40. One Father’s Day I went to look at an ’88 Bayliner Capri and fell in love. I had something to play with during the Lake Chelan vacations and even came home from work one day, grabbed the kids, got us lunches from Boston Market and then went out on Lake Washington to have the Blue Angels fly over our heads. Now, that’s how you do it here in the northwest.
A quick side-story about that. Five days after purchasing the boat, a brand-new Hooters Restaurant opened up in Lynnwood, north of Seattle, and the Murdock, Hunter & Alice show paid a visit to settle the dispute about it being “a family restaurant.” As we walked in the door of this brand-new restaurant with all the Hooters Girls greeting us, one yelled out, “Tim!” It was the girlfriend of the guy who I had bought the boat from. Small world.
I had that boat for around five years, but while my love continued, the rest of the family became a bit bored with it, resulting in me going out by myself more often. That just made it too much work. Add in the time I took the kids to Lake Wenatchee and bent the shaft by going over some rocks and it was a sign that it was time to sell.
In recent years, for a time, we had a boat to borrow up at Lake McMurray, where Victoria’s family cabin is, but that went away. So now, I feel I’ve got this life thing under control, I could afford a small boat payment every month and I know I would use it. I just want to make sure I don’t buy something that lives in the repair shop.
That being said, I came close to pulling the trigger on a ’91 Bayliner yesterday. I really wanted that boat. It was $4500, which is the same price I paid for my Bayliner back in the day, and it looked pretty good. Just on the dirty side, as I was told that it had been in storage for a year.
Where it broke down:
I was told it had been sitting around for a year. The last time it had been licensed was 2012. Hmmmm…
The seller said that he had all kinds of work done to it. I called the shipyard where it was being stored and was told that they didn’t do the work. I wonder who did?
I asked the yard if they could do a mechanical check, and they said they could–at $175 an hour.
I checked with BECU about doing a boat loan with them. They don’t loan money on boats older than 25 years.
For those reasons, it just got too complicated. I had a check with me, ready to fill out, but the inner voice said this wasn’t the one. So, my quest continues.
I know, I know: “The two happiest days of a boat owner’s life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it.”
And now, the shipyard where I visited yesterday said they had a similar boat to the one I was looking at, and they had done all the maintenance on it. I’m going to see that at noon today. We’ll see what my inner voice has to say about this one. Wish me luck.
Every morning, the alarm goes off at 4:45am (yeah, later than it used to be–I’m slackin’) and after burning off 300 calories on the rowing machine, I begin writing my daily contribution to Radio Online, a show prep service for disc jockeys around the world.
Part of each day’s submission are one-liners or jokes I think up. I started doing this back in the Murdock, Hunter & Alice days and when that went away, Radio Online hired me to be a staff writer. That was almost 20 years ago.
I’m pulling back the curtain a bit to share with you something that happened last week. A joke occurred to me, I wrote it out as a comedy contribution, but the more I thought about it, while I’ll humbly suggest it was clever, it also felt like a sad commentary on our country’s current situation. Seriously sad, but very true.
And I’m pretty sure some people would have felt it was over the line, so rather than have hate mail pour into Ron & Lisa who operate Radio Online, I thought it would stick it in here.
See what you think:
So, let me walk through this. Our country is very divided. One side got vaccinated, the other side called the pandemic a hoax and insisted on not getting the vaccine, carry around a proof-of-vaccination card or wear a mask because it violates their rights. Yet, the unvaccinated ones are 99% of the Americans being hospitalized and dying. Doesn’t this seem like it will just all work out?
Seriously, if you’re putting your health at risk just so the other side can’t “win”, how in the hell does that make sense?
Think it through. Are you willing to risk getting the virus (cases of which have doubled in the U.S. in the past week, again, among the unvaccinated) just so that one day, you can point and laugh at people and say, “You were so stupid. Wearing a mask. Washing your hands all the time. Having ’em inject an unproven drug into you. Ha! I’m smarter than you.”
I’m not a betting man, but I’d wager against that happening.
I can’t help but think of the person saying that they refuse to get the vaccine because they don’t know what’s in there…as they’re eating a hog dog.
Sorry, but you were seriously misled during a massive void of leadership in our country. But that’s the sad truth.
And it’s not the first time. Amazing how history can repeat itself.
You’ve probably already guessed correctly–they’re both thinning.
While I can’t do anything about my hair, I can actively try to remove most of the negativity in my life. Spot a negative comment on social media–just ignore it. But what if it really ticks me off? Use that handy feature where you get to block all futures posts from that source. What if the irritating comment is made by the actual “friend”? Snooze ’em for 30 days. Three snoozes on the same friend? Just unfriend them.
I’m touching on this topic because I violated my own rule the other day by commenting on someone’s complaint.
No need to get into names, but let’s just say this friend was a former high school classmate. After one of the reunions, we became Facebook friends and it’s been fun to see some of our other classmates show up in her feed over the years. Really, I don’t remember much about her other than what she looked like back in those days, and that embarrassing moment at our 20th reunion when we bumped into each other in an elevator. She smiled and said, “Tim!” and I said, “Karen!” and that wasn’t her name.
One of the few things I did know about her is that she is a die-hard Dodger fan, the team I have returned to as “my club” with the legacy of disappointment that has become Seattle Major League Baseball.
Last week, she made a post that I understood was a “shame on Dave Stewart”, the former Dodger pitcher who was part of the team during their 1981 season. Apparently there’s a reunion coming up to celebrate that team, but Stewart was refusing to take part of it because of how the team was handling the Trevor Bauer situation.
Her post made it sound like Dave Stewart was wrong about shaming the Dodgers organization. I made a “consider the source” comment and put the link to the story of that time Stewart was arrested for trying to pick up a prostitute.
I never should have done that.
She went straight to, “Oh, Tim Hunter(and included my name so it would go everywhere), picking up a prostitute and beating up a woman are not the same.”
What? Where did this go south? Was she saying I was defending Bauer’s actions? Huh? So, now I’m defending myself. So I had to respond.
I commented, “Your words, not mine. I wasn’t making that comparison.”
I don’t need to relive the conversation because I’m not letting it take up any more of my energy or time, but after a couple of rounds of pointing out to her that the Dodger organization had already suspended him–twice—pulled his merchandise from the store and canceled his bobblehead night, but were awaiting a final legal ruling before doing anything permanent, I realized that she was on a vendetta and nothing I could say would make the issue right in her brain.
As I mentioned, I just don’t need that in my life. I ended up spending 15 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back and once you steal time from me, all I can do is to make sure you don’t do it again.
This morning, there was an awesome post of a dog snuggling with a fawn. I just stared at it and then watched it play again. I felt good. It was positive. That’s where I want to live. This isn’t the same one, but see how something like this makes you feel.
My youngest sister and I had a chat about this very thing last night. She’s trying to do the same thing in her life–shut out all the negative influences and simply enjoy what’s good out there…and you can. The negative will always be out there, but it’s up to each of us individually to block out as much as possible. I’ve mildly pursued doing this in my life over the years, but now it’s become a passion and I’m loving the results.
Positive inspires positive. Negativity can take over your life. Just ask that former Facebook friend, whatever her name is.
I’ve had a lifelong love affair with fireworks. But after 65 years, I’ve decided to call the whole thing off.
Growing up in Southern California, I was there when “Safe & Sane” fireworks were all the rage. Every year when those firework stands opened up with names like Red Devil and TNT (I mean, how family-friendly sounding can you get?) we would all pile into the car, park in front of that firework stand and dream of getting the biggest pack of fireworks they would sell us. Well, that was the kids’ view. As far as mom and dad were concerned, they’d usually pop for a $15-$20 assortment pack that we’d fight over as to who could hold on to it in the car on the way home.
But all three of us–my two sisters and moi–knew the second we hit the car, dad just had to blurt out his traditional phrase, “I don’t know why we just don’t light a $20 bill on fire!”
I think dad secretly enjoyed lighting off those sparkling fountains and log cabins that smoked. There were the Piccolo Pete’s that would explode if you clamped down on the ‘t’, but of course, we didn’t find that out until we were older. Oh, and Smoky Joe.
You’d put something that resembled a cigar into his mouth and it would actually smoke. Very anti-climatic, especially since during those days, most parents were doing that all the time.
But still in the eyes of kids, it was awesome. We’d enjoy a whole half hour of black or rainbow snakes, a couple of fountains, some sparklers with at least one of us burning our hands and then it was time to pile into the ’59 Ford Fairlane or the ’66 Chevy Impala to go find a parking spot down by Redondo Beach, to watch the bigtime fireworks they would launch off the barge.
There was one summer when we made a family pilgrimage to my mom’s home state of South Dakota during the 4th of July. The reason I remember it is because they actually sold firecrackers. I had never seen any close up. A cousin quickly fixed that by lighting one and throwing it up by my ear. Gee. Great.
The years passed. I became more interested in girls, I went to college, took a radio job in Yakima, got married and then moved back to Seattle to play radio here. There was a stretch where, due to my chosen career, I found myself at those big public displays. There was the Cellular One Fireworks Show at Gasworks Park one year, where we laid back on the lawn and looked up to an incredible show. Same for the 4th of Julivar’s a couple of times along Seattle’s waterfront. However, the drawback of those shows is that by the time they’re over and you walk back to the car and fight traffic, you’re getting home at midnight or even later. I had a couple of those in me, but then we made the switch to the neighborhood displays.
There I was, married, in my 20s and living in a neighborhood full of 20 and 30-somethings, and boy, they knew fireworks. The annual tradition became gathering in the cul-de-sac and watching each other launch all the not-safe-and-sane fireworks we had purchased at Boom City, up in Marysville. Looking back, it’s a miracle none of us were ever seriously injured. Including that now famous moment when my son lit a mortar that tipped over and shot exploding bombs at the crowd as they dove behind lawn chairs. You may have read that an NHL goalie was killed by one of those this past weekend when he took a direct hit in his chest. He was only 10 feet away and never stood a chance. He was just 24.
There’s something about the 30-to-40-year-old American male that attaches celebrating our freedom by blowing things up. As kids got older, lifestyles changed and we successfully dodged house fires by bottle rockets landing on our cedar shake roof, you just hit a point where, “OK, that’s enough.”
As a sneak peek at the future for my younger readers, there comes a time when the 10 o’clock TV fireworks satisfy your fireworks Jones. You watch, you turn off the TV and by 10:30, you’re asleep. Well, until the 30 and 40 somethings in the neighborhood get out their illegal reservation fireworks and try to out-do each other.
Our current 4th of July routine is to watch the Macy’s or Seattle fireworks, call it a night and then try to sleep through what the surrounding neighbors have planned. One of the jokes I wrote about this weekend is that 1:30am on July 5th is my favorite part of the 4th of July weekend, because that’s usually when my neighbors run out of things to blow up.
Every year, my wife swears it’s worst than last year. To me, they’re all the same. Geeze, one of them this year actually set off a car alarm in the neighborhood. It was that big of an explosion.
And then, if you have a pet who just doesn’t understand, I’m sure you have learned to hate the holiday even more.
It could be maturity. It might be burnout. Whatever it is and the reasons behind it, the whole fireworks thing ended for me when I hit the age of 65. Nothing sad at all about it, I had my fun, but those days are now behind me. I’d continue to ramble on about the topic, but I’ve got to go chase some kids off my lawn.
Things happen, they get written down into the history books and we move on.
When I think of all the things that happened in my early years–the turbulence of the 1960s, the loss of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr., the moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall–that’s a pretty impressive list.
But I gotta say, the last couple of years have really gotten out of hand.
First, the pandemic. COVID-19 started slowly, with nobody thinking it could really be that bad, or that it was just like a bad flu bug. Some still believe that. But basically, it was a once in a century event, often compared with the Spanish Flu outbreak of the early 1900s.
OK, so it happens every 100 years and I just happened to hit the life lotto. Great.
But then, barely a year later, we’re now going through what has been described as a “once-in-every-1,000-years” event, with Seattle hitting all-time high temperatures–hotter than ever recorded–and three days in a row of triple-degree heat! Something that’s never happened before.
So, in 2020 we had a once-in-100 years occurrence. Now, in 2021, we’re experiencing a once-in-1,000-years event. My theory is that next year, 2022, we’ll be on tap for a once-every-10,000-years occurrence. I don’t want to come off as overly pessimistic, but give it a little bit of thought: what could next year’s “bet you never thought THIS would happen in your lifetime” event be?
I may have to reconsider that comet insurance policy I recently turned down.
Whatever. We’re all in this together. But I am getting a little tired of being historical.
OK, I’m going to embrace it. More and more people just keep moving to Seattle, making real estate prices skyrocket, the roads even more crowded and giving us all growing pains in every direction possible.
I can’t change that, but the least I can do is make it easier for our newer residents to know how things work around here. So, this is the first in a series I call, “Welcome to Seattle”, to give our new neighbors an idea on how we think and do things.
In this inaugural segment, I’m going to talk about the seasons. Seattle has four of them, so as you spend time settling in your new home, you’ll find yourself developing these beliefs and eventually, say them out loud yourself. Feel free to print this out and put it up on your refrigerator for easy reference.
Let’s start with our current season:
This is when you’ll hear multiple complaints about various topics. The most notable, when we shift from complaining about how cold it is to complaining about how hot it is. The season always begins with the Summer Solstice, which is the longest day of the year. If it naturally occurred to you that you should be complaining that the days are now getting shorter, you have potential.
Among the phrases you might hear:
“God I hate mowing my lawn.”
“It’s too hot! Man, I can’t wait until fall. Football, the leaves turn colors….it’s beautiful in the fall around here.”
“Well, I guess this won’t be the year for the Mariners…”
“Oh-oh, here comes fire season again.”
“Don’t open that window! You’ll let the heat in!”
Absolutely my favorite season because of football and cooler weather. Throw in fun holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving and the countdown to Christmas (most of which takes place in fall) and you can see there’s a lot to like about fall.
But this time of year comes with it’s own seasonal collection of complaints:
“Oh, my God, it’s getting darker earlier and earlier!”
“Time change weekend? Again? I hate that! I thought we approved getting rid of it. It takes me days to recover.”
“Crap. look at all those leaves in the yard. And most are from the neighbor’s tree!”
“Well, at least there are some former Mariners on some of the playoff teams.”
“Well, winter’s almost here. I hope it snows this year.”
“Don’t open that window! The rain will blow in!”
This is peak complaining season in the Northwest. I’m pretty sure its when S.C.D. (seasonal complaining disorder) was invented. I mean, what’s not to complain about? The briefest amount of sunlight daily, when the clouds actually allow the sun to sneak though. “50 Shades of Gray?” Oh, that title had to have been invented up here. By the time the Winter Solstice arrives, it’s iffy if the Seahawks will make the playoffs, the Huskies and Cougars have their fingers crossed to make it to a modestly respectable bowl game and we start hearing about how good the Seattle Mariners are going to be next season. I leave out the Sounders, because they’ve actually given us less to complain about.
So its a very gray period featuring rain, occasionally snow, a make-good windstorm should it fail to show up in November, and the fact that everything you do has to be inside because of the weather that rules the outdoors.
The classic winter complaints you can practice ahead of time:
“God, this weather is SO depressing.”
“We really need to plan a mid-winter vacation to someplace sunny next year.”
“I can’t wait for spring! The flowers, the buds on the trees, the lawns turning green again!”
“I’m ready for some baseball. I hope the Mariners do well this year!”
“Don’t open that window! You’ll let the cold air in!”
And now, we complete the cycle and prepare to start all over again with summer complaining right around the corner. As Mother Earth wakes up again, we enjoy flowers and blossoms, along with pollen, hay fever, sneezing, and itchy eyes.
This season’s typical complaints:
“It’s too cool!”
“My God, will it ever stop raining? I can’t wait for summer to get here.”
“The Mariners are going great in spring training. Maybe this is the year!”
“Time change weekend? Again? I hate that! I thought we approved getting rid of it. It takes me days to recover.”
“Don’t open that window! You’ll let the pollen in!”
That’s all you need to get started. Practice daily and in no time at all, people will think you’re a native.
Over the years, traditions come and go. Some stick, others you do for a couple of years and then they just don’t seem as important anymore.
A relatively new one for me is “Midsummer.” Oh, I’ve long known that summer officially arrives that third week in June and that people feel the need to celebrate it. In the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, it usually means a Summer Solstice parade, complete with naked bicycle riders. Yeah, it’s kind of our statement to Portland that we can be weird, too.
Since becoming involved with the Norwegian community when I met my wife, it’s big deal in the Scandinavian world to celebrate MidSummer. (oh, there are a million ways to spell that. I’m just going with the easy one) There are those who dance around a pole and celebrate. But I’m told that’s more Swedish than Norwegian.
In fact, we’ll be heading north to Lake McMurray and Norway Park on Saturday, where the residents will be celebrating down in the waterfront park. However, the only pole I’ll have anything to do with will be for some quick fishing.
Oh, and a quick side note–avoid the movie, “Midsommar.” Very, very disturbing. And they dance around a pole.
So here comes summer and we’re ready to celebrate–but wait—what about dad?
Oh, sure, mom gets her own weekend in May (we celebrate her first) and things shut down. You wouldn’t dare plan anything for Mom’s Day weekend unless it involved mom. Heck, back when Little League used to play (and I’m sure it will return again some day), games on Mother’s Day Sunday were always canceled. The day had to be all about mom. But speaking for absolutely no fathers out there other than myself, I don’t mind sharing the weekend. I love summer as much as the next person and I’m anxious for its arrival. To me, this coming weekend isn’t about me being a dad–which I am, and an extremely proud one–but it’s about my dad, who left us six years ago.
I really need to write down all the dad stories circling around in my head when I think of that man. They’re like little treasures stuffed into a scrapbook of events that help me see those moments as if they were yesterday.
As I recently said at the memorial for my father-in-law, Ernie Templin, I can hear the sound of my dad’s voice when I think of certain phrases, like “What in the Sam HIll?”, or the 4th of July classic whenever we bought fireworks, “I don’t know why we don’t just light a $20 bill on fire.” Yep, there he is.
Dad was dad. A kid from Scotland who came to the U.S. when he was 3 years old and then was raised in West Virginia. Like everyone else, there were great moments and setbacks during his life. He survived World War II, and shortly after his return, fate would bring him to California. That’s where he landed a job with United Airlines for 37 years and met my mom, who had herself left South Dakota to seek a new life.
Flipping through that mental scrapbook of dad, I can see him in his United Airlines overalls he’d wear at work. Whenever he’d work on the cars at home, he had some United overalls for those occasions. When were young, he’d bring home some of those fake pilot badges they used to hand out to kids when they flew. He put ketchup on his eggs. There was his collection of suits he’d always wear to church on Sunday mornings. He helped me with my Pinewood Derby when I was in Cub Scouts, was a coach, then manager of my Little League teams. One of his favorite stories to tell about those days was–I was at bat, bases loaded and I managed to find a pitch to hit over the center field fence. Yes, I had hit a grand slam home run, the only home run of my Little League career and….dad had missed it. He was trying to control some of the rowdier kids in the team dugout and by the time he looked up, I was circling the bases.
I still have that ball.
I spend a good 10-12 hours a day at my keyboard every day doing a variety of things to earn a living. Just off to my right, the little plastic bookmark they made up for his funeral is taped to the wall. it features a picture of dad, smiling away and reminding me of just how lucky I was.
It’s funny. When I judge myself on what kind of a father I was, I tend to give myself a solid “B”. It was an important role to me and I tried to be there for my kids as much as I could. I woke up at 2am to work radio until noon, come home, take a nap and then spent most of their non-school hours until bedtime together. I coached or assisted with their soccer, baseball, softball and basketball teams until their high school years. I probably shaved a few years off my life with my serious lack of sleep, but I just didn’t want to miss a thing.
I was lucky enough to be able to spend a lot of time with them. Yet, for some reason, I am haunted by a couple of times I left them down, which of course, lowered my grade to a B.
What was my takeaway from all those years of fatherhood? My biggest advice to both moms and dads has always been–no matter how exhausted you are, cherish these years, because it seriously does not take long for them to become a distant memory.
So, celebrate your Midsummer. But as my son and my step-son both celebrate their first Father’s Day as dads, I have to have more of an emphasis on the dads. I also have to thank my father for showing me the secret to being a good dad: just be there. You’ll do the right thing most of the time, you’ll make mistakes, but just being present and in their lives will make all the difference in the world on how those kids turn out.
Plus, you’ll be giving them a mental scrapbook of their own packed with nuggets for them to enjoy the rest of their lives.