I Wonder if That’s What Heaven Is Like

Ask someone their idea on what heaven is like, and I’m sure you’d get all kinds of answers. I imagine it’s a collection of all the good moments, all the positive things that emerged during one’s life story.

Put my mind to a pop quiz and I’m imagining that walk with my Grandma Hunter, holding her hand as we walked on the next block, which had some mean kids. They said something cocky, and my grandmother told us to just ignore them. I was probably around 7.

There’s George, the first family dog, who was so spunky and, looking back, probably the perfect dog who just wanted to be loved and run. I remember we took him over to “the fields” to let him run and he did. That was back when Torrance had vacant lots, which are long gone.

There was that gang of mine at Immanuel Lutheran Church’s school, which were my best buds for the first six grades. Then, the church suddenly closed the school and I found myself thrust into public schools, having to deal with being “the new kid.” Traumatic at the time, I harnessed the confrontations to bring out my comedy skills. It prevented at least a couple of beatings.

High School was beyond awesome. I hit my stride, was a basketball player, a senior president and A.S.B. vice-president, prom king, you name it. And, after a long uncertain stretch, I got to be the boyfriend of the girl next door. (OK, well, across the street)

College days were fun and one of these days, I’m going to make that a film script, but I left with a ton of great memories and classmates that I really enjoy seeing again. We pulled off a reunion last year, but there were still some people I really wanted to see that didn’t make it.

OK, back to the concept of heaven. I was lucky enough to work at an eastside radio station called KLSY. There were several KLSY’s—when I first started, the next phase, the phase after that and the Mix 92.5 phase.

Last week, a spontaneous reunion broke out, featuring phase 2 of that adventure.

Remember, I was there 19 years of my broadcasting career. A lot can happen in radio in a couple of years, let alone 19. The crew that assembled that afternoon at the Ram Restaurant at Northgate was a wonderful time capsule of that KLSY era. By this time, I had joined Bruce Murdock as part of the Morning Show, (First, the Breakfast Club, then Murdock & Hunter…eventually, Alice got her name in the show, “Murdock, Hunter & Alice) and that night, we had to drunk Facetime Bobby Irwin our program director and talk about old times.

You see each other and break out in smiles, ask how you’re currently doing and then, return to those thrilling days of yesteryear.  It was pretty much 3 hours that seemed like 5-minutes. Of course, there were at least two toasts to the memory of the late Alice Porter. Oh, sure, those days were far from perfect and there were insane challenges that we all shared together. But now, we could laugh at those challenges and fondly remember all the good times that surrounded them.

The old adage, “If I knew then what I know now” is so true. Probably, the number one thing I would do differently is to slow things down, to savor that time, which, of course, is a reminder that we should be doing that right now.

Up in our brain, there’s a storage locker that we fill up with all the great moments of our life.  The positive, the good. I’m convinced that is what we’ll be surrounded with when all is said and done, and that makes the end of everyone’s story just a little easier to accept.

Last week little KLSY roundup was just another reminder of just how good my life has been and I say that with the utmost of appreciation. It doesn’t mean there weren’t some awful moments along the way, but those will have no place where I’m going.

Enjoy the moments going on in your life right now. Several of them are probably heading to your mental storage locker.

Tim Hunter

The Hidden Costs

My position on the homeless situation is so incredibly clear.

Let’s break them down into three categories: 1) The unfortunate, down on their luck, 2) The drug addicts and 3) Those battling mental health issues.

All three deserve our help. They are human beings, lost souls or people who just didn’t get the breaks that we did and weren’t trained how to handle the setbacks.

With the over $1-billion being spent every year in Seattle and King County, I can’t understand how the situation is getting worse, rather than better.

Those in category one, that’s a no-brainer.  Sometimes people need help, training, guidance, support, housing, etc. I think we’re all in agreement that helping them is a good idea.

However, somewhere in our extreme thinking, free-spirited minds (or at least by the people in charge) it has been decided that leaving people alone is the right thing to do. If someone wants to be a drug addict or roam the streets mentally challenged, that’s OK. Bring ’em a sandwich and we feel so much better about ourselves. Offer them help, only to be declined–well, at least we tried.

Not the kind of world I was raised in and not what we all deserve.

Right now in Seattle, this little chunk of paradise in the northwest is experiencing a huge blight of people sticking up tents and living whereever they choose. It’s trespassing. It’s loitering. It’s all kinds of things that we have laws against, yet we don’t enforce the laws. And when you don’t enforce the laws, word gets out to those who aren’t fans of the law.

So, you may saying to yourself, “Tim, why are you launching out at the homeless situation this week?”

Because it could have cost me my life this last weekend.

In the past, I had some drug-dependent loser wheel away my $350 pressure washer off my car port at 4am on a Sunday morning. I have the grainy footage to serve as a memory.

But this past weekend, we rented a U-Haul truck from the Ballard rental facility to move my step-daughter’s things. After loading up and relocating everything, we went to a gas station to fill up the truck. As the pump chugged away, there was a strong odor of gas. I looked under the truck and everything we had been pumping had just gone all over the ground. At least three gallons’ worth of gasoline. One spark, one idiot continuing to smoke while he fueled up and we would have been toast.

What happened?  I looked under the truck. The hose to the gas tank had been disconnected from the fueling tube. Upon returning it to U-Haul, the guy explained they had been having trouble with people coming to their lot at night and siphoning out gas. Someone decided to disconnect the hose so they could get to the gas, and then just left it.  We had driven around town in the truck with the tank disconnected, another way that something could really have gone wrong.

They loosened the clamp and disconnected the hose

The location of this U-Haul store was not far from several homeless gathering spots, some living in dilapidated RV’s.  We weren’t charged for the gas missing from the tank because apparently this happened before. It’s just one of the bi-products of the Seattle world gone mad.

We dodged the bullet. This time, we were lucky.

I hope that someday, Seattle’s leadership will wake up and do something to return our area to a place you can live without fear of stepping on a needle, having your property stolen or worse. It wasn’t always this way.

I’m placing most of my hope in next year’s elections. It’s time to make a serious change.

Tim Hunter

 

There is a Now

I was gazing over to the side of my computer monitor the other day. It’s the place where I have photos of the people that are or were special in my life so that when I need a little reminder about what’s important, there they are.

Among the rag tag collection is the “In Loving Memory” thing they produced for my dad’s funeral.  There he is, smiling away, in a picture taken probably ten years before he passed. He was older, slowing down, but mentally, everything was still there.

As he approached the final days of his life, there was a lot of failures. The body was giving out, the hearing selective at best, the wit sneaking out every now and then, but dulled by 90-plus years on this earth. However, going back to that picture–it made me wonder, did I really thank him enough for all he did? To appreciate all those things he did to support his family–working overtime, slinging bananas down at the docks in Long Beach when the United Airlines  mechanics went on strike, managing the Little League team I played on.  Those Pinewood Derbies, the camping trips, the times we went fishing.
I think he knew. But with Father’s Day approaching, it causes me to wonder.

I know I did my best on the last night of his life when he laid there, unresponsive but breathing, as his life slipped away. I spent the night and talked his ear off, clinging to the knowledge I heard somewhere (and I don’t want to check into its validity because I might find out it’s not true) that the hearing is the last thing to go. That you can still reach the person by talking to him and saying what was on your mind. I tried to re-live my entire life that night, enough that when the morning came and he left, he was probably thinking, “Great! Peace and quiet at last!”

I don’t know much, but I have come to realize that one of our biggest personal downfalls is living in the future or the past, but not so much in the present. We hang on to unpleasant things that we experienced or live in fear of what might happen in the future. Oh, I’m still guilty to a degree, but I try to remind myself daily, whenever I feel overwhelmed, to just enjoy the now.

At this particular point, the only noise in my office is the keyboard tapping as I write this.  There’s no music, no TV in the background, the cat is sleeping (again), and later, I plan to wander out on to our deck and just breath in the air. The scent of cedars fills our backyard and can easily conjure up memories of those many family camping trips we took when I was a kid.

See, that’s the past, but a pleasant memory to savor like a vintage wine. It rolls around in the brain and then you put it away until a future moment. And that’s how easy it is to get distracted and leave the now.

Life is a collection of moments. You’re actually enjoying a few right now. Savor them. Cherish them. There millions and millions of people no longer on this earth who would do anything to experience just a few more.

And, at least for now, we’ve got all the moments we want.

The now.

Use only as directed.

Tim Hunter

Here We Go Again

I’m not Norwegian. But I married into it. And that’s OK.

As we approach another 17th of May (Norwegian Constitution Day), we’ll be doing the traditional stay in the Ballard Hotel for two nights, attending the big luncheon, stopping by the Leif Erikson Lodge, I will announce the parade while Victoria marches in it and so on.

It’s an all-out celebration of Norwegian heritage and good for them. But they are WAY more concerned about where their parts came from than I am. I’m a rag-tag collection of ethnicities from around the globe.  In fact, here’s what 23andme.com had to say about my make-up:

Yep, that’s what it takes to create your very own Tim Hunter. It was me before you knew that, it’s still me after you read that data. A lot of Northern European, with a splash of Eastern European that I surmise resulted from some relative’s wild weekend away.

Heritage is nice to know. Some people embrace it, while others like me say, “Eh, good to know.”

Who we are is the result of what we’ve been, our experiences, our influences. In other words, we have existed.

I look at my life’s journey and I’m extremely appreciative and happy for everything. Oh, that’s not to say there were pretty rough spots along the way, but everything resulted in my present being, in who I am today and all things considered, I’ll take it.

This summer, we’re heading to Scotland to visit the town where my dad was born, I look forward to feeling a closer connection to those roots. However, I will still be this Tim Hunter guy I’ve become.

And I’m really liking that.

Tim Hunter

 

Mother’s Day 2019

Everyone has one and this Sunday, we salute that special person we’ve come to know as mom.

Yes, dad was involved with bringing you into the world, but mom was seriously invested in the process. Remember, she probably had to give up smoking and drinking for 9 months, out of concern for the little monster she would be bringing into the world. That’s dedication.

In my case, I was the first one to come along, followed by two sisters. Dad was a mechanic out at United Airlines, while mom was a stay-at-home until the mid-1960s when women in the neighborhood began to start working outside the home.  First, she tried her hand at retail over at J.C. Penney’s and then, she worked for Home Savings, which eventually became Washington Mutual. Mom had a chance to become a manager, but opted not to, because it would have meant being sent to a God-forsaken branch somewhere around Los Angeles. She climbed the ranks to head teller and stayed there and in Torrance until she retired.

Mom has threatened to write her life story down over the years and has a few notes jotted down. A few years back, I video-taped her telling about how she ended up in California. She was raised on a farm in South Dakota and the story I remember most happened when she graduated from 8th grade. She told us she remembers crying when her parents said that she couldn’t go to high school because they needed her to work on the farm. Eventually, she moved to the big city of Aberdeen and worked there until she was 18. When her roommate and best friend headed out to California, she went out to visit for her wedding. She was the maid of honor, and my dad, was the best man. That’s where they met which eventually resulted in me.

It’s so funny, but if you ask me to remember mom stories from growing up, I could bring up the fact she was a Cub Scout den mother or some nice memory, but what always comes to mind is sitting in back seat of our Ford Fairlane after being picked up at school and how she got pulled over just down from our house by a motorcycle cop for failing to use her blinker when she turned into our neighborhood.  She was mortified. I’ve often thought of writing to the governor to ask for clemency.

Oh and another story I remember. Mom was determined to graduate from high school, so she went back and got her G.E.D. from Torrance High School, the same high school me and my sisters graduated from.

I’ve always been a big fan of everyone getting their life stories written down for future generations to enjoy. I’d love to hear all those details about the big decisions they had to make or the setbacks along the way. It’s an assurance that we all somehow manage to pull through; that as much as we think we’ve got it either tougher or easier, we all go through our own versions of life.

Last weekend, my sister Debbie and my mom came up for a visit. It’s been years since she’s been up here and we were able to do one of those bucket list things for her–catching the Skagit Valley tulips in bloom. She was blown away.

Mom is 90 and turns 91 in August. We threw her a big party last year and, if you never saw it, I put together a fun video to salute her, which I’ll stick in here, in case you haven’t seen it.

 

 

So, as we approach another Mother’s Day, I have to express my gratitude to the powers that be that allow me to still chat with my mom on a daily basis. She’s in Torrance, but all three kids give her a call once a day, just to check in. In the meantime, she continues to enjoy life–gardening in her yard, hitting the Dollar Store for deals, reading her newspapers and continually trying to get caught up with all the shows on her DVR.

It’s a good life and knowing what all she had to go through in raising me, a well-deserved one.

Happy Mother’s Day, Ma!

Tim Hunter

Opening Day of Boating Season

 

Here it comes again–another notch in the spring belt, the Opening Day of Boating Season.

While the rest of the country goes bonkers over a horse race in Kentucky, we’re all about the 106th annual celebration of all things nautical in Seattle, when crowds line the Mortlake Cut next to the University of Washington to first watch a series of crew races, followed by the traditional parade of boats with all the yacht clubs from the area showing off their finest.

It’s free and for a lot of people, an annual tradition. Bring the lawn chairs and set up camp as you watch yachts, steamboats, vintage craft, sailboats and more float by to the cheers of the crowd.

We won’t make it this year, but I have to admit I have quite a few of these under my belt.

Back when I was Larry Nelson’s producer at KOMO radio in the early 1980s, KOMO was “your Husky station” and part of that honor included broadcasting the crew races. I remember the voice of the Huskies, Bob Rondeau and the Husky Crew Coach Dick Erickson, doing the play-by-play as the KOMO 4 helicopter flew overhead.

The day didn’t end there. KOMO’s Traffic Reporter Ted Garlatz invited everyone on his boat to go out on the water and hop from yacht club to yacht club. To be honest, I’m surprised we didn’t crash into anything along the way. Or, maybe we did and just kept going. Yes, alcohol was involved.

Years later, I went on a sentimental trip there was a previous father-in-law, who had been a coxswain for the UW back in the late 40s. He loved being back there again, as he had done his fair share of opening day regattas. I’m convince that he’s the guy yelling instructions at the rowers in the blown-up picture on the wall of the Northgate Ram Restaurant.

Then, when I first got together with Victoria, we were regularly invited guests aboard the Oberg’s boat for opening day.  First, going out with the rest of the yachts that were tied up and then, eventually, just partying from shore and walking over to catch the parade.

Yes, that first Saturday in May means a lot of things to lots of people. To some, it’s the Kentucky Derby, while others look forward to the annual free pancake breakfast at McLendon’s Hardware. No matter how you celebrate it, it’s a special day. This year, we won’t be going to the cut, but instead are heading up to catch the tulips that made it this far. Oh, and it’s my wife’s birthday.

As I said, it’s a very special day.

Tim Hunter

A Warning About Facebook

Imagine you’ve had a Facebook page for your business for years. Then, one day, without warning, it disappears.

That’s exactly what happened to one of our Create Impulse clients a couple of weeks ago, Jack Carroll’s Skagit Hyundai.

It was a Thursday when I got a note from Corey, my advertising co-conspirator, asking what was up with their Facebook page after he received this note:

I had never had this happen before. I’m racking my brain, trying to come up with theories and possible reasons–maybe a customer got ticked off and went ballistic on the Facebook page to get it shut down. I was hoping that Facebook would give me an explanation.

Good luck reaching a human. It took over a week of getting non-answers and generic responses, thanking me for reporting it. One auto response said I should report the offending post. How could I do that when you took the entire page down?

I worked on the theory that maybe a disgruntled customer had gone on their page and written a bunch of nasty things, to get them kicked off. I would think that would get the post gonged, but not the whole site. I even found an extremely nasty review posted on Google the day before the page went down. It turned out it was from a guy who was denied a car because he was in the middle of a bankruptcy.

Bottom line: their page was history. All the photos, all the reviews, all the posts–gone. Let’s see, at the rate of a post a day for three years, that’s over 1,000 posts I’ve put up that just disappeared. And the more I pleaded with Facebook for an explanation, the more the generic messages came back.

While I continued working on getting some sort of explanation from Facebook, I reached out to every resource I could think of–a contact at iHeartMedia who asked his expert, and a tech writer for the Washington Post that actually responded. All of them had never heard of such a thing.

As I looked for ways to crack the Facebook barrier, I finally found a link where I could chat with someone. I wish I could show you how that conversation went. The summary–apparently, when the car dealership set up their Facebook page, it was done as a person and not as a business. The FB rep said that they were clamping down on such pages and eventually, there would only be real people with non-commercial FB pages. A business would need to have a business page.  This blog recalls an experience from a couple of years ago that someone else endured, very similar to the one Skagit Hyundai had to deal with.

I asked Facebook if it would be possible to get the list of people who liked the page and I was told “No!” because they were “misled” to Like the page as “friends” and not a business. Oh, brother. I think I’ve used up my quota of quotes.

So, it’s back to ground zero. We’ve begun rebuilding the following of Skagit Hyundai. If you wouldn’t mind Liking their page and helping me boost the numbers, I would really appreciate it.  I’m doing the posts, so I try to at least make them entertaining.

Here’s their new Facebook page link: https://www.facebook.com/Jack-Carrolls-Skagit-Hyundai-616048762199459/

or just search for them on Facebook: Jack Carroll’s Skagit Hyundai.

Is your business Facebook page a personal page? I would highly suggest you make the switch. Today.

Tim Hunter

Stop and Smell the Tulips

I could have gone a lot of directions this week in this little therapeutic corner of the Internet.  Last week, a client’s Facebook page was just taken down without warning. A generic message from Facebook said that there had been hate speech or something like that. With this week’s posts having to do with the Mariners, tulips and Hyundai’s, I had no explanation as to how this could have happen. I was unable to reach a human entity at Facebook and even wrote up a report that Mark Zuckerberg was harassing me, just to get their attention.

The page remains down.

But then you have things like the fire at Notre Dame, the insanity of the presidential campaign already heating up and, I’ve made a decision: I’m dropping a flying water tanker on it all and going back to those tulips.

Yes, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is off and running up north once again. I’ve actually talked to several people this week who have lived here all their lives that have never been. With this weekend looking on the sunny side, it would the perfect occasion for that first trip, so here are my suggestions for a great time in the tulips.

  • First, get a brochure. They’re free to download at the festival site. If you can’t make it this year, you can have them mail a printed version you one so you can plan for next year.
  • When we went last weekend, the forecast was for rain. That actually turned into a blessing, as the crowds were WAY down and we just drove right in, hit Tulip Town, and even managed to get out by the fields in-between rainstorms. While it was gray, the colors in the fields were still beautiful.
  • I mentioned Tulip Town. We like it because it’s an all-in-one experience. Free parking (which can be hard to come by this time of year) and for $10, you can hang inside their festive barn, see displays, do some shopping and then, head out to the fields. When it’s not rainy and muddy, they have wagons you can ride in that take you around the fields. Otherwise, like last weekend, we had to walk it and it was really muddy. Like walking on ice.
  • There are other farms and fields. That’s when you’ll need the map that’s included in that brochure.
  • And Skagit County has finally spoken up. Apparently, when the lines get long and the cars get backed up, so do people. They’ve had a problem with people going to the bathroom in the Tulip Fields. It’s so much of a problem, they had to create PoopSmart.org. Plan ahead.

While you’re up in the area, swing through La Conner. An artsy little town on the river with a bunch of fun shops, restaurants and a brewery. It doesn’t get much better.

If this weekend is more dedicated to Easter or Passover, I get it. But we probably have a couple of more weekends of blooms for you to catch and by then, the crowds should have died down a little. We live here, it’s a rare treat right in our own backyard and something you really need to experience, if you haven’t already.

With all the craziness in the world around us, it would be good to stop and smell the tulips. Yeah, it’s time.

Tim Hunter

A Penney Not Saved

Oh, it’s official–the J.C. Penney store at my nearest mall is going away. The Northgate Shopping Center, which opened in 1950 as one of the country’s first post-war shopping centers, is going through a massive renovation that has no room for the big anchor stores that every successful mall needed. Penney’s is going through the closing process and Macy’s will be right behind it this July. In a few years, the shopping center will be transformed into a mixed-use center with hotels, housing, offices and the headquarters and practice facility for our new N.H.L. expansion team.

The going-out-of-business signs went up a week ago. There are those guys on the street corners, holding up the 50-70% off signs. We decided to go take a look and it was sad. Yes, times change, things come and go, and yes, we scored some great deals. But what we saw when we got there really drove home the point it was going away. You can’t access the downstairs. Where the men’s department and housewares used to be is now where all the shelves and racks are being stored. All the merchandise has been moved upstairs with ‘All Sales Final’ posted prominently everywhere.

I’ve always joked that the two places I only buy clothes are Costco and Penney’s.  That joke has now been cut in half. Penney’s is where my mom went to work, back in the 1960s when women dared to start working outside the home. Since my parents had one vehicle, I remember dad and us kids all piling into the car around 9:30 in our pajamas and then head over and wait outside the employee entrance for when mom got off.

Victoria’s dad was a school teacher, but started working at Penney’s to help supplement the family budget and was one of the first hires of that new Penney’s when it opened in Northgate many years ago. As a retired Penney’s employee, I believe he gets the employee discount for life, as long as he can find a Penney’s store still open.

But now, like so many things of his generation and now, my generation, it’s going away. I have to say, it’s very strange to see things that have been around your entire life just fade off into history. Perhaps it’s just another reminder to appreciate the day and all that is around us. I’m going with that.

Tim Hunter

I Did It Again–No Foolin’

Most people as they get older are looking for ways to make their lives easier. I seem to be doing the opposite.

Oh, we’re not talking brain surgery on the side while saving the world, or anything like that.  But the little radio show I do each morning for KRKO in Everett pretty much erased any “spare time” I might have had, and has made each of my work weeks challenging, to say the least.

But it’s what I love to do, so quit yer complainin’!

Back in January, as I looked ahead to the year and saw the traditions I like to continue, I wondered how the heck I was going to pull off another National Gullible Day video. Its a silly little tradition I started four years ago, producing a news-like report for a fictitious holiday that also happens to land on April Fools’ Day.

Being the goofball I am, I’ve always loved April Fools’ Day. My radio career gave me an annual opportunity to prank thousands of people at a time. From live coverage of the big April Fools Parade in downtown Seattle, to something as simple as having cell phones ring in the background while we were on the air, making people think their phone was ringing.

In fact, this year on the radio, KRKO celebrated the 40th anniversary of “the concert that set the standard for all the others except Woodstock.”  We promoted it as “The Return of the Jetty….Island Concert.”  I even used Star Wars font when I put together this visual:

You can even see at the bottom of the sign being held up the words, “We didn’t Photoshop this.”

The idea was that we were celebrating the anniversary of a big show that never really happened. Adding to the absurdity, we were celebrating the 40th anniversary of something that happened in 1972. Do the math.

This is my favorite hourly I.D..

And my favorite break had to be my interview with Sir Paul McCartney.  Thanks to the very talented Scott Burns for hooking me up with Sir Paul.

Oh, yeah, the National Gullible Day video.

Like I said, as if putting together this silly three-hour radio show wasn’t enough, I was determined to crank out another April Fool’s Day extravaganza.  I spent the entire year, stashing footage that I would be able to use. About a month out, I started scripting some bits and then called in favors from people who didn’t owe me anything, but I knew they would love to be involved. In fact, if you watch over the years, we have some recurring characters.

I set up taping sessions in between appointments. I asked for voice-overs from my radio friends and permission to use the images of other friends. I grabbed the gang from one of my clients, Opus 111 Group, and asked them to be people “who were at the Jetty Island concert.”  I tried to get all the pieces ready by Friday, got up early on Saturday to shoot my on-camera parts and then, put it all together.

Some of the behind-the-scene nuggets from this year’s video: Check out my bed hair.  I woke up with it sticking out, tried to wet it down, but as you’ll see, it would not stay put.  When the guy talks about building a raft to get to the concert, those photos are actually of me, Skip Tucker and Terry Michaels from KQOT in Yakima at our station’s first-ever River Float.  The guy you see who found the long-lost movie of the first April Fools prank on film?  That’s Leif Eie, who will celebrate his 90th birthday in a couple of months.

Every year, it’s another passion project. No one’s getting rich and frankly, at times, I don’t think my wife completely understands why I do it. It’s just me. If you would do your job for free, then you win.  I’ve already started collecting things for next year’s edition and, if you would like to be included, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Just remember, at some point in my life, I’m expecting all this to be held against me.

Here’s the 2019 edition of National Gullible Day. Enjoy.

Tim