Don’t worry–I was punished!

First off, to be clear, I’m one of those who hears that snow is in the forecast and I get all excited. I love snow. Well, I used to.

You see, a typical Seattle snowstorm shuts down the city for a couple of days and then we get back to normal. It’s a nice break, forces you to slow down and for a day or two, our little corner of the U.S. is turned into a temporary winter wonderland.

With my wife having to head to Florida to run a global sales meeting for work, I got to join her at the end of her duties.  We then hopped over to visit her cousin and her husband for a few days in the Tampa/St. Pete area. It was pretty much the most vacation I’ve had for a long time. We watched the snow reports from Seattle while we sat on the beach, enjoyed 70-degree weather, and I even snuck in a round of golf. (my first time in three years)

A quick home movie of one of the things we saw: the Don Cesar Hotel. It was a whole lot of pink (lighter than the T-Mobile kind) that had a bunch of history behind it.  Here are just a couple of photos from that historic hotel:

There were grouper sandwiches, beautiful sunsets, warmth, fun, great company and a whole lot of relaxing. So, when it was time to head back to Seattle, we were ready. We wedged in a lot of fun in those 5 days and knew when we landed that it was going to be one snowy mess in the Emerald City.

And it was, but it took time to get there.

You see, flying back on Monday, we were within half an hour of landing in Seattle when the pilot announced that we weren’t landing in Seattle. We were heading to Portland, Oregon. Oh, boy.

Initially, after landing, we exited the plane and were told to stand by for an announcement in half an hour. Then another half hour. Then ANOTHER half hour. Finally the announcement came as we saw the flight crew walking away that our flight was canceled. Seattle wasn’t accepting any more flights and we were out of luck.

So, now what?

The airline (whose name rhymes with Schmalaska) let us know that our bags were on the way to baggage claim and that we should contact their reservations agents to decide what we wanted to do. Well, we wanted to get back to Seattle that night. It wasn’t going to happen.

All the flights on Tuesday were full except for a few remaining seats on the 11pm flight, more than 24 hours away. So, we decided to grab a hotel, rent a car and drive home. I dashed to Hertz, they told me all their one-way rentals were gone, so I headed over to Dollar and scored a Honda CR-V. By 11:15pm, we were in a hotel room. 5am came early, but I woke up, did my morning show prep writing and we were on the road to Seattle around 7:45am.

The drive wasn’t bad. A few occasional stops, but what’s new? We arrived at the airport parking lot where I had parked my car and I had to wade through a foot of water to clean off the snow and make it drivable. We dropped off the rental car, and arrived home around noon. But there was one more challenge–to be able to pull into the driveway, I had to shovel out a spot.

All this to say, while I was out of town for the big record-setting Snowmageddon of 2019, I still got to share in the ‘fun’ when we got home.

As awesome as it was in Florida, those getaways never ever feel like home. They’re a brief escape, very temporary and I know that over time they’ll offer ample dream fodder. Really, if you’ve lived in the northwest for any amount of time, you know you need at least one sunny getaway during our dark and dreary winters. This was mine. I enjoyed and savored every moment of it. But for those who were stuck here for this record-setting snowzapalooza, rest assured, in the end I was punished.

But I would do it all over again.

It’s good to be home.

Tim Hunter

Crap, I’m Doing It Again

Well, add this to my continuing series of blogs written and inspired by the latest mass shooting.

Look–I’m no genius. (please, the line to chime in forms down the street) For the sake of my comedy-writing skills, my observation muscle is really in good shape. I see things, process them, look for similarities and connections to other topics and create amusing quips and comments.

There is nothing cute or funny about the Florida shootings. But part of the routine response process (“More gun laws!”/”Stricter mental health regulations!”) kind of stands out to me this time.

The true solution is going to be a compromise that’s strictly enforced on both sides.

THE GUN ISSUE–Yes, 200 years ago, our forefathers made sure there was an amendment guaranteeing the right to own weapons and protect ourselves. The majority of people who own guns do so for for target practice, hunting and home security. But, like everything else these days, guns have become a political commodity–are you FOR guns or AGAINST them? Say the phrase “gun control” and the die-hards immediately respond with “that’s the first step towards the government taking all of our guns away!” And, there we are, back at that Second Amendment.

THE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE–Between all the social media bombardment, where our media has evolved, and let’s throw in drug abuse while we’re at it, there are a lot of unstable people out there. Some are out-right dangerous. And not just at the homeless camps, but the bullied teenager who, in this case, lost both of his parents and was living with a family that took him in out of the kindness of their hearts, not knowing the complete mental damage that had happened. Someone with a history of violence, that had been kicked out of school, who had posted on YouTube that he wants to be a “professional school shooter”…I think it’s safe to say he has mental health issues. He needed help and wasn’t getting what he needed. It seems like a pretty simple concept that someone in that state of mind should have a tag on them, somewhere, that prevents them from buying an automatic weapon that can mow people down. But in this ever-so-PC world, we can’t label someone like that because it would be violating their rights.

I probably need to re-read the Constitution again, but I don’t believe there’s a right to shoot dozens of people with an automatic weapon.

Calling on the Republicans or the Democrats to fix this falls right into the camp that there are two teams playing. We’re one nation. The NRA has politicians in their pockets: shame on them. Then again, they’re doing what the pharmaceutical, insurance and other industries do. That’s how the political game is played.

But it’s time to call a time-out in this game and take positive steps so that people aren’t sending their kids off to school and not being really sure if they’ll ever come back.

GUN PEOPLE–Yes, you have the right to an AR-15, based on that second amendment. You’ll most likely treat it with respect and only shoot it at a firing range. But here’s the deal–there’s a disgruntled ex-co-worker or an abused or battered teen planning to lash out like all those shootings he keeps hearing about.  First off, is owning that kind of weapon really that important to you?  If so, shouldn’t a special license and training be required?  You need that to drive a car.  You can’t just hop behind the wheel of a semi and start driving. You also need special training and a special license.  Notice a pattern here?  There’s also a high accountability that comes with owning a gun. Having one that suddenly disappears and is used in a crime or killing spree–that’s on you.  Perhaps if your weapon is used in a crime, you’re charged as an accomplice or face a $100,000 fine.  Maybe if you knew that could happen, that semi-automatic would be treated like gold and locked up instead of being a quick grab away.

MENTAL HEALTH PEOPLE–When people go off the deep end, it’s not them. Their minds aren’t right. In the case of this Florida shooter, dear God, how many signs do you need?  If you have parents of teenagers, ask them if they have kids at their school “most likely to go off.” I pretty much guarantee they do. They always have. A snoopy grandmother in Everett this past week opened her grandson’s guitar case and found a rifle, along with his journal plotting a school shooting. She reported it. Yes, it’s family, and it could drive a wedge in your relationship, but God knows how many lives were saved by that action.  Dropping all the concern about being PC for a moment, if you’re mentally ill, you should NOT have the right to buy a gun. Is that really so difficult? Get help. Get therapy. Eventually, prove you deserve to be able to own a gun. We don’t allow 10-year-olds to buy weapons. We have laws that try to prevent ex-cons for owning them. The thing is, we’re at least trying in those areas. We are way overdue to identify those who are struggling and even just temporarily prevent them from owning weapons.

In summary, this is a Gun Control AND Mental Health issue. Did you ever think you’d live in a world where a dozen or two innocent people being gunned down became a common event?  The frustrating part is that political parties have become packages. If you vote in this party, you’ll get this, this and this.  If you vote in the other party, they represent that, that and that.  But what if I’m for this but also want that? Get my point?  I think we’ve reached the time that Gun Control for Mentally Disturbed People has become THE issue. The one that will determine who gets my vote.

Because those who already got our votes just don’t seem to care.

Tim Hunter