Is That The Retirement Bug Coming On?

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!

Tim Hunter

I FOUGHT THE LAW AND IT CAME OUT A DRAW

Yeah, it won’t be a song title.

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.

So recently, I was invited to attend a meeting of the new Ballard FC soccer club at Skäl Beer Hall, to talk about an upcoming “Nordic Night” at one of their home games.

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.

I think from now on, I’m going with option C.

Tim Hunter

I Was Almost At The Bus Station When My Ship Came In

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.

Tim Hunter

But, What About….?

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.

Equal means equal. Just sayin’….

Tim Hunter

A Valley Full of Ghosts

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.

I’ll just save those for the next time.

Tim Hunter

Life Hack #189–Go To Arizona

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.

Tim Hunter

Thanks For Stopping By, Earthling!

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.


Thank you, Helms Guy!



Move that bread stuff and gimme the cards!

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.

 

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Thanks for stopping by, Earthling.

Tim Hunter

My Brilliant Idea

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.

But you have to admit, it’s a brilliant idea.

Tim Hunter

Tell Me What I Can Do That Will Really Matter

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?”

NBC offered up this collection. Time put together this list. And I’ll just assume we can trust the Washington Post, who published this group of charities.

Again, that’s what others are suggesting. I want to know what YOU know, what you can tell me. Maybe something I missed or that just isn’t getting the publicity it deserves.

When you read stories like this, that’s not press hype or “fake news”–that’s reality.

Please. Just tell me what I can do that will really matter.

And thanks.

Tim Hunter

My War With Wordle

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.

Yes, people were really upset.

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.

Tim Hunter