SO, I’M A WRITER

I’m content.

I sat down this week to keep my blogging streak alive of letting the thoughts in my brain spill out on to the Internet, when I realized that I had no bee in my bonnet. (And to be honest, I haven’t worn a bonnet in years. People talk.)

Nope, which coincidentally is the name of a movie in theaters these days, I’m good. Our weather, by Northwest standards, has been exceptional. Too hot for some, but a nice blend of 70s and 80s, with a brief wet down last week and no forest fire smoke, which in recent years, had become traditional.

The work/life balance isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty darn close. Projects keep showing up on top of my weekly duties and, if I’m not done by 5-ish, the rest can wait until the next day. A regular work day begins before 5am, so a “normal” day for me is 12 hours long, but at the pace I like and can control, and mostly, made up of things I love to do.

Being older and wiser (more old than wise), I’ve been working on not getting riled up on everything there is going on out there in our world. With our over-abundance of information constantly being fed to us, it’s so easy to be upset about this and concerned about that and even worried about the other thing.

Nope (there’s that word again), I’m not going to allow myself to get caught up in that. It’s not up to me to save the world, or point out to other people why they’re thinking the wrong way (and they really are), I just want to take it all in, good and bad–acknowledging the bad, but savoring the good.

I’ve always had this crazy theory that all of us receive the same amount of good news and bad news in our lives. It’s just dispersed in various size doses, but when the clock hits zero, we will have all experienced an equal amount of good fortune, and pain and suffering. Maybe you’re the type that had a lot of hard hits in your younger years, but now have a nice steady life going. Or, perhaps you hit early success, but things haven’t been very good since then.

Then there’s the third type of person that spends their life striving for balance. Sure, they don’t get as many highs, but they also don’t sink to monumental lows. I like to think of myself that way. I’ve never been driven to become famous. My goal has always been to be comfortable financially and spend my time doing the things I like to do, including making people laugh and feel good.

As Walter Brennan used to say back in the days of “The Guns of Will Sonnet”: No brag, just fact.

It was a western that only lasted two seasons, so maybe you weren’t as impressed with the show as I was.

Going back to where this all started, right now, I’m really content and doing my best to hang on to that. I’ll savor what’s left of summer, and I look forward to flying to my hometown of Torrance, California, later this week to help my mom celebrate her 94th birthday in the only childhood home I ever knew.

And so, with everything just rolling along, I really don’t have much to blog about this week. Then again, it just took me 585 words to say that.

Oh, well. So, I’m a writer.

Tim Hunter

My Accidental Meeting

It was the least-likely way I ever expected to meet a legend, yet somehow, it still happened.

I was off to Costco on a stock-up run, and to see what else I could find that I probably could live without, but at that price, how do I say ‘no’? It’s why they say that the most expensive vehicle to operate these days is a shopping cart at Costco.

I had just entered the store with my cart, my mind trying to recall all the things I so vividly thought of while I was at home, when I noticed an older gentleman sitting at a table near the books. Curiosity got the best of me, so I went over to see who it was.

It was Bill Friggin’ Russell.

Yes, the Boston Celtics legend that broke my Los Angeles Lakers heart on multiple occasions during my childhood years. Yet, here was this Hall of Fame basketball legend in the middle of a Costco, with no one in line, no one talking to him, just sitting there. It was like someone was setting a trap for me.

As I walked up to him, I kept thinking a door on the floor would open and I would be taken prisoner. But no, Mr. Russell just looked up, smiled and said, “Hi, how you doing?”

I did what any other red-blooded sports fan would do in this situation. I started blubbering about how nice it was to meet him, how great he was and yes, I’d like a couple of books. He asked who he should sign them to, and I think I either asked him for one for me or my son, but definitely I had to have him sign one for dad, who witnessed all those Lakers defeats with me. And besides, this was Bill Friggin’ Russell.

I thanked him and wandered away, stunned that I had just met him in a Costco book department. However, it was not surprising once you realize that Bill chose to retire in our area and had a nice place on Mercer Island, just east of Seattle, on Lake Washington. He was fairly active in the community, once even lending his voice to a Seattle Children’s Theater production.

The book was a great collection of stories of how it used to be, his fondness for his coach, and other stories from the times, that were not good. I’ll let you read all that stuff for yourself. But just the mention of his coach’s name, Red Auerbach, knocked loose one of those little memory nuggets tucked away in my brain. Back in the 1960s, the N.B.A. was a world away from today’s version. I’m not making this up–Bill played for the Boston Celtics and his coach had this tradition, which I witnessed many times on those nationally televised games. Whenever the Celtics had a big enough lead and a win was secured, Coach Auerbach’s tradition was to light up a victory cigar. Yep, there was the coach, with a big smile on his face, smoking his stogie on the sidelines as he watched the final minutes of a game roll off.

Of course, today, the coach would have had to leave the game and stand at least 25-feet away from any entrance. Not as effective.

Here’s the book he autographed for me.

As you can see, he really wanted people to know about this special relationship with Auerbach. After reading the book and seeing how Red stood up for Bill on multiple occasions during those extremely racist 1960s, it made all those Laker losses a little easier to take.

The praises continue to pour in about Bill and his life, and the more you learn about him, the more you realize what an amazing person he was.

And, to think, I got to meet him, at Costco.

Tim Hunter

Not Too Busy To Weigh In

Man, the last couple of weeks have been crazy. Life stuff, work stuff, the holiday disrupting the routine, you name it. But I have maintained my forever tradition of getting out at least one blog post a week.

Yet, as I sat down to write this week’s edition, I noticed a couple of things. Last week’s edition was still in draft form and I never published it. For Pete’s sake! And then, the week before, I had published it but not pinned it to the top, so it showed up lower in my blog feed and may not have appeared as something new.

I’ve been holding off on diving into the Roe vs. Wade thing because I have friends and family on both sides. Living on the left coast, most of our connections out this way were appalled by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent reversal, sending back whether abortion should be legal or not to the states.

It sounds so nice on paper.

I was raised in a fairly conservation Christian church, Lutheran to be exact. And not one of those “Let’s make women pastors” type of synods, but rather the type where the men ran the church and women were not allowed to vote in church matters. Yep, that’s man’s stuff.

I can feel a couple of readers tensing up right now.

With that upbringing and Roe versus Wade being decided in the year I graduated in high school, I spent my early adult years believing that getting an abortion was probably wrong, so I probably shouldn’t get one.

Being a guy, you can think that way, especially when you’re 18.

Say I evolved, say my mind grew, whatever–it wasn’t long before I realized that it just didn’t matter what I thought. It wouldn’t be my choice, it would be that of whoever was carrying the fetus.

OK, about now, I’ve got some relatives writing up some signs to march and protest in front of my home. I realize that there is nothing I could say to you, to change your mind. You have your feelings about the topic and therefore, you can choose whether or not you would ever have one. Meanwhile, there are countless incidents where a pregnancy is not in the best interest of the mom or the eventual baby.

Those against abortion have convinced themselves that they’re fighting for the rights of the unborn. They’ve made them human and consider them existing lives. If you truly believe that, then don’t get an abortion.

But not everyone shares your view and talk about a can of worms. So, the fetus is a person? Then that pregnant woman pulled over this week should have her ticket dismissed for riding in the carpool lane by herself. Or, at six weeks, let’s remove the fetus and see if it survives.

Oh no. You can’t do that. It’s not a real person yet, but it will be some day, so we must protect it at all costs. And if that means blowing up abortion or forcing these procedures to the back alleys to protect the sanctity of life, so be it.

Then, once abortions are banned everywhere, we can take on alcohol. I’m sure we can find some place in the Bible that drinking it makes it a sin. Ignore the Last Supper or the fact that Jesus turned water into the stuff. Oh, I know we tried once before, but now we have a Supreme Court who will back us up!

Again, there’s no way I’m even attempting at trying to convert anyone to any point of view. But what this all has to do with is respecting each other to make our own decisions and then, if not correct, endure the consequences.

To summarize–it’s an incredible polarizing topic but trying to enforce religious views on a non-religious population is insanity in its purest form. Oh, sure, yours is the one true, correct belief and everyone else is all wrong, but……oh, please.

I wasn’t even planning to go this deep on the topic. But what I have been doing over the past couple of weeks is saving the memes that passed through my Facebook page. They reflect my beliefs, but out of respect (yeah, the ‘r’ word) for those with differing views, I didn’t put them out there in front of the masses to fuel the hate speak.

But this is my little corner of the Internet, so I can do whatever I want here. And so, I’m posting these.

I did hear one proposal, where all men would be required to get a vasectomy at age 18 and then, when they’re ready to have children, they could get it reversed.

But then again, we would never tell one gender what they should have to do with their bodies.

OK, there. I got it all out of my system. Yes, it’s been an incredibly busy last three weeks for yours truly. But not so busy, that I couldn’t weigh in on this topic.

Tim Hunter

When It’s The Last Time

If there are any creative inventor types that follow my weekly therapy sessions on this blog, I’ve got a couple of ideas I’d like to offer up.

First, we need to invent fireworks that track where the person lives that bought them and logs the time they were lit off. Then, by using the free app, “Revenge Against the Bastard” (available in the app store of your phone) you could repay that bozo who thought it was funny to light off an M-80 at 6am on the morning on the 4th of July, or who kept blowing things up until almost midnight.

The other invention I’d like to see is a bit more futuristic, but it would somehow let you know when you’re about to do something for the very last time.

Because, if it really is going to be the last time, but it’s a negative experience, those are easy to recall. I remember the last time I was let go at a couple of radio jobs like it was yesterday. Then there was the final day of another job I couldn’t stand, so I quit. And, of course, there’s the last time the Seattle Mariners were in the playoffs.

But then there are those life events that you would have enjoyed and cherished so much more, if you had only known this was going to be it. The last time you hung out with the neighborhood kids, the final time you got together with your high school crowd, or even when you went to visit someone who was sicker than they admitted, and you never got to see again.

For a decade, one of my annual routines was doing the play-by-play for the Bothell City Cable Channel’s coverage of their annual “Freedom Festival” parade on the 4th of July. I think it was in 2008 that Joyce Goedecke, the city’s Public Information Officer, invited me to co-host the parade with her. Being a radio guy, I seized the opportunity to do some on-camera work and we had a blast.

Soon after that, Joyce left for greener and sunnier pastures, so I inherited an annual tradition that I looked forward to every year. Having lived in Bothell and raising a couple of kids there, going to the parade each July 4th meant I would run into some former neighbors, or people from the Little League days or when I was a member of Bothell First Lutheran, and so on. It was like a family reunion.

And with Joyce gone, I was matched up with a series of different co-hosts over the years–Joyce’s PIO successor, Joy Johnston; Bothell Municipal Court Judge Michelle Gehlsen; Dr. Eric Murray, President of Cascadia College; former Bothell City Council member Tom Agnew; and last but not least, serial Bothell civic leader Mike Rue.

Over time, the 4th of July turned into an all-day event with friends in Kenmore hosting an after-party, where they would take in the parade, and then we’d retreat to their house, just hanging out, getting caught up and celebrating the 4th as you should, with a barbecue. It was a nice, thick slice of Americana.

In 2019, Mike Rue and I were paired up again, not knowing about the looming pandemic that would cancel the parade for the next two years. We also didn’t know that when the parade would return in 2022, the city would decide to go a different direction and we would no longer be a part of it. People at City Hall change, I don’t live in Bothell anymore and apparently, it was just time to go in a different direction.

So, when the holiday rolled around this year, I’ll admit, I was a bit bummed. That is, until I decided to go to YouTube and watch the coverage of the 2019 Freedom Festival parade. Within a couple of minutes, a smile returned to my face. I spent the early part of the 4th this year being sad, thinking about that being the last time I would do the parade. But, as I watched the fun Mike and I were having, I couldn’t have been any prouder of our efforts three years ago. In reviewing myself, I’d have to say it was one of my better times in front of the camera. The team of Tim & James did their usual stellar job of capturing the parade and making us look good and frankly, I was at peace with the whole thing.

And so, I thought I would share it with you.

Even just watching the first couple of minutes, you can see we were having a blast.

Thanks to everyone who made the 10 years I was able to emcee the parade some of the most fun events of my life, with special thanks to Joyce, the city of Bothell, Tim & James and my assorted co-hosts, especially Mike Rue.

I will speak well of you all in the old folk’s home. And I’ll definitely use the “my crew” joke a lot, since I had only used it one time.

And I couldn’t resist chatting about it with Maury the Movie Guy on my KRKO morning show. Here’s that exchange.

This experience has just reinforced one of my personal beliefs: never just walk through something. If you are going to do something, do it big, like it could be the last time.

Because if it ends up being your finale`, at least you know you gave it your best shot.

Tim Hunter

The NW Just Got A Little Less Funny

By this stage in life, you’ve no doubt met hundreds of people during your years on earth. Some, one-time events, others are in it for the long haul and they become a part of your life. For me, Scott Burns is one of those rare life-long friends who will always feel like a brother, no matter how far apart we may live.

Including Las Vegas.

After spending the last 41 years in the Seattle area, gracing the airwaves around here on such stations as KJR, KUBE, Young Country and KBSG, Scott and his wife April have packed up and headed to the sunny southwest on a new adventure.

I don’t want to repeat too much of what you’ll hear in this podcast, but for the last couple of decades, the times I’ve laughed the hardest were when I was with Scott Burns. He was the audio production guru at Destination Marketing, where I hung out for just shy of 10 years, both of us recovering Seattle radio personalities. In other words, we weren’t introverts.

Besides the above podcast, here are a couple of audio collaborations I worked on with Mr. Burns:

At one point, I was hoping Scott and I could finally partner together on a radio station, and so we pitched KRKO back in the day with this demo that included the late Debbie Deutsch.

Scott was always willing to help me out with some of my crazy projects, including this open to one of my annual Christmas CD’s.

But perhaps our biggest collaboration was when he willingly put on the green paint and sweet-talked his wife April into help bring my song, “Bimbo #5” to life. It was my first-ever music video that I shot on a Flip camera. Here’s the 10th anniversary special I put together.

What a proud family moment!

All this to say, I’m going to miss you Scott Burns. And I was just handed a special thank you note signed by all of the H.R. Directors of the radio stations where you worked. They sincerely appreciated the job security over the years.

In this stay-connected-no-matter-how-far-away-you-are stage of our existence, I look forward to the next time we connect and laugh our rear ends off.

In the meantime, the Pacific Northwest just got a little less funny.

Tim Hunter

This Week, I’m Stepping Back

Next year, it will mark 50 years since I roamed the hallways of Torrance High School, down in southern California. So much happened during those four years there–I learned so much about me, started grasping how the world worked, fell in love for the first time and met friends that I still stay in touch with all these years later.

Most I haven’t seen in almost half a century. Again, Facebook allows us to connect, see what we now look like, and what all has happened in our lives since those days. There have been the occasional class reunions, but I honestly can’t remember who I saw and who I didn’t.

Today, one of my FB friends from those days, Paul Wolcott, shared the story of his life and the meaning of today’s date. I thought I would share it with you:

Forty years ago this morning I woke up in the hospital, couldn’t move, IV’s everywhere, pain everywhere, some kind of orthopedic apparatus sling around my hips. I remembered what happened. I didn’t realize it was actually worse than I thought it was when it happened. I wanted to know how Gary was doing. He didn’t look so good when we were hit earlier in the morning. 0140 hours in the morning to be exact. Nobody would tell me anything more than he was at another hospital and being cared for and I was doing fine.

June 1982, 1800-0200 night shift motors, Hermosa Beach, California. Me and my partner/best friend, Gary Dean Moss. Working the best assignment in law enforcement, police motorcycle duty, extra pay, take home bike, motor boots, leather jacket. It was all good.

Gary and I had attended the LAPD Motor training school six months prior. A difficult school taught by veteran motor officers. The training was two weeks of intensive drills, skills, cone patterns, 40 MPH decel, combination braking, friction point, stress and dirt. We loved it.

The Saturday night shift started out routine enough, prowling the city for CVC violations, DUI’s, suspicious characters. Writing tickets, taking T/C reports, boundary disputes, backups the usual routine stuff. Weekend summer night in Hermosa Beach, plenty of people rolling into the city to have a good time.

Towards the end of our shift we set up on Ocean Dr at Aviation Blvd to cherry pick speeders and possibly a DUI. Gary and I sat there on our bikes and just talked about our day and what we were doing when we got off shift and what we were doing on our days off. We talked about our girlfriends, Gary had a new one. He felt bad because they had had a fight earlier in the day before work. He was going to make it up to her and apologize for being a jerk. I was seeing Carol Glover, I was going to her house after work. We’d been seeing each other for about seven months, I met her on her birthday, introduced by mutual friends.

As we sat on our bikes, we poked fun at each other, laughed about stupid things, the usual chatter between friends.

We heard the whine of a couple of motorcycles headed towards us from PCH, two rice rockets moving fast, east on Aviation. Instinctively we fired up our bikes and gave chase.

Approximately 60 MPH as we crested the slight rise in the road at Prospect, solid green. Light traffic was moving west, the two speeding bikes were just ahead as we were about to light them up.

A white Ford Fiesta was going west on Aviation, suddenly, without signaling the white car turned left crossing our path just before we reached Harper Ln. the border with Redondo Beach. (He was going to the Jack in the Box)

No amount of braking or evasive moves was going to do us any good. (I only laid down 18’ of locked wheel skid). We were doing 60 MPH. Simultaneously we slammed into the car. Gary hit the space between the front bumper and the right front tire. I hit the passenger door. Momentum kept us in motion. I landed approximately 90’ from the point of impact, Gary a little further slamming headfirst into the south-east curb line of Aviation and Harper. I was in the middle of the street. I was conscious. I felt pain. My arms and legs didn’t work. But I was in pain, a good sign. I could see Gary lying there, not moving. I tried calling out to him, nothing. I tried to check to see if my gun was secured, I couldn’t move my arm. I tried to get to my radio to call for help. I couldn’t move my arm, my hand. What are those sticks poking out of the top of my glove? Completely helpless.

A citizen who was behind us saw the whole thing and stopped to help. He got on the radio on my bike and said this “Officer Down, Aviation and Prospect”. That’s it. Redondo Beach officer Mike Higashi responded, “Was that officer down or what?”.

Gary still wasn’t moving.

Debris and wreckage strewn all around us.

I could hear sirens. The citizen that called for help came to check on me. Told me to lay still. Go check on my partner.

The first officer to get to me was Hermosa Beach police officer Phil Keenan and his trainee. I asked him how he was doing, I told him I was fine, go check on Gary.

More officers were arriving. Redondo Beach officer Paul Burch arrived on scene. (Before joining the force he was an RN in the ER at South Bay hospital). He evaluated Gary and made the decision not to wait for paramedics. He and Phil Keenan bundled Gary up put him in the back of Burch’s black and white and rolled Code 3 to South Bay ER. I could hear the radio, Burch demanded a gurney to meet him at the ER entrance. Gary was in full cardiac arrest.

More units arrived. Officer’s I had gone to the police academy with, familiar faces. Comforting faces. Stressed faces.

I’m still waiting for paramedics. I learned later there had been a mix up in dispatch and the paramedics didn’t get the call right away. One officer yelled into the radio “GET THE GOD DAMNED PARAMEDICS HERE NOW!”

There were four people trapped in the car. My bike intruded 3 feet into the passenger door. My body crushed the roof line in. Thank goodness for my vest.

The paramedics arrived more familiar faces. The ambulance arrived. More familiar faces.

Redondo Beach officer Mike Kaye arrived at the scene, we went through the academy together, I asked him to go to Carol’s house in Manhattan Beach and let her know I was going to be later than expected.

They took me to Little Company of Mary hospital in Torrance. The pain was getting worse, but I was still conscious and aware of what was happening. Chaos in the ER. Nurses, doctors, staff, police officers, vitals. More pain, everywhere. No pain meds till after X-Ray’s. They cut off my boots, my leather jacket, my breeches, shirt. Cold. Shock.

X-Ray’s, more pain. Mike brought Carol to the ER. I told her it was no big deal I’d be out in the morning. The nurses gave her the task of putting ice on my pelvis. I didn’t know why. Learned later, internal bleeding.

Finally, the gift of morphine. Pain was gone. Can I leave now?

Six hours of surgery.

Both arms broken, both wrists fractured and dislocated, compound fractures in my left hand (the sticks), fractured pelvis, broken back, both knees fractured and as a bonus, fractured right patella that was removed during surgery.

More morphine please.

Gary is in intensive care at South Bay hospital they told me, being cared for.

On June 24th, officer’s Jim Chizmar and Spike Kelly came to the hospital.

Gary died this morning…………

Gary’s memorial service drew hundreds of police officers from all over the state. Police helicopters flew past my hospital window in the missing man formation. Body Glove donated their boat to spread Gary’s ashes at sea off of Torrance beach.

A lot of time was spent in physical therapy or “pain and torture”. More surgeries. I regained use of my limbs, my left hand was functional. I got to learn how to walk again. I could finally go home after three months, two at LCM and a month at Daniel Freeman hospital for PT and OT and more surgeries.

The number of visitors to the hospital slowed, but Carol came every day

I spent three months in the hospital. The nursing staff was incredible and caring. They had to do everything. They fed me, changed my bedding, bathed me, gave me my meds, everything.

Carol and I got married on Gary’s birthday, March 19th.

Hermosa Beach Police officer Chuck Griffitts, Gary’s academy classmate, son was born at LCM, he named him Gary. He became a police officer.

I was forced to take a disability retirement in June 1983 when my 4850 time ran out. More surgeries, more PT.

The deuce that hit us had a .13% BAC. He was found guilty by a jury of one count of misdemeanor DUI and given probation.

In July 1985 I returned to full duty. I went back on motorcycle duty in 1995 and took a service retirement in 2008

We learned much later, the two motorcycle riders we were chasing had committed a robbery in another city.

Carol and I divorced but have stayed friends. I will, for the rest of my life be grateful to her for getting me through the most difficult, significant, life changing event I’ve ever experienced. Nothing before or since has been this bad.

I think about my best friend Gary Dean Moss every day.

I’m sure if every one of us were to take the time to write down a compilation of our life’s most traumatic moments since we left the safety of high school, the friends we’ve distantly stayed in touch with would be amazed at what we’ve been through. Some are willing to share, others prefer their privacy. But by this stage of life, all of us from the class of ’73 have a unique story to tell. I’m thankful Paul was willing to share, because I had no idea of all those challenges he had been through. Wow.

It’s why, this week, I’m deferring to my fellow Torrance High Tartar, class of ’73. Thank you, Paul.

Tim Hunter

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

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