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

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

 

An Update From The Front Lines

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.

Tim Hunter

With Apologies to Mr. Ronan

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.

Rest in funny, Bob.

Tim Hunter

 

 

Another Batch of Holiday Traditions Conquered

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:

  1. Find a song
  2. Write the lyrics.
  3. Record Alana singing the lyrics.
  4. Find a time in our mutually busy schedules to film the video.
  5. Find time to produce the video.
  6. 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.

In the meantime, please enjoy this year’s HO HO BROTHER 21!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tim Hunter

 

You better watch out….

Oh, Christmas Tree

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.

 

Tim Hunter

A Salute To New Ideas

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.

New ideas–I salute you!

Tim Hunter

Attack of the Time Vampires

Let me begin by saying, “I’m a busy person.”

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.

You have been warned.

Tim Hunter

Here I Go Again

I’m on the prowl. I’m boat shopping again.

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 rare photo of the boat with an engine

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:

  1. I was told it had been sitting around for a year. The last time it had been licensed was 2012. Hmmmm…
  2. 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?
  3. I asked the yard if they could do a mechanical check, and they said they could–at $175 an hour.
  4. 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.

Here I go again.

Tim Hunter