That’s How You Do It Right

If someone asked you to list 100 things wrong with the world, you’d probably respond, “Only 100?”

I’ve noticed that, as you get older, you have to compromise your expectations because things just aren’t done they way they use to do them. Expect a certain level of service or quality and you’ll hear catch phrases like, “supply chain issues”, “we can’t find people to do the job” and so on. You’ve heard ’em all.

So, when a company does something not only really right, but above and beyond the kind of service we settle for these days, I have to shout their praises to the rafters. Well, I don’t have rafters, so you’ll have to settle for it in writing.

It all began when I realized how corroded the burners were in my barbecue. The flames shot up unevenly, which made it really challenging to cook anything. One end of the steak would be black, while the other end was raw. It was time for new burners.

So, I did what any other red-blooded American does these days–I went to Amazon. I found some burners for my Char-Broil grill, placed the order and soon, the package arrived.

They sat patiently on a downstairs desk until I had the time to take on the barbecue. You can’t put new burners in a filthy barbecue, so I removed the old, corroded burners and threw them out. They I cleaned out the barbecue so it would be a welcome home for those new shiny burners. I went to install them and…..they didn’t fit. They were too thick at the bottom.

OK, Life Lesson #14,490–you need to make sure you order the correct burners for the model of your Char-Broil grill.

The good news, of course, is that I could just return the wrong ones. But the challenge came when I went to find replacement burners for my model and they were nowhere. I searched on and off Amazon, carefully comparing the ones for sale with the 9-digit model number and….nothing.

I reviewed my Amazon orders and discovered it wasn’t really THAT long ago I bought my barbecue. It was an Amazon “Best Buy” and I really liked the grill, but if all I get is 18 months of use before I have to buy a new barbecue…..well, then this is definitely going to be my last Char-Broil purchase.

Before biting the spatula and going out to buy a new barbecue (which I might add have gone up significantly in price in the last couple of years) I decided to take a couple of last swings. I would reach out to local appliance gurus Judd & Black, and also write to the manufacturer to say, “What’s up with this?”

Both responded quickly. Judd and Black told me that I would have to contact the manufacturer. Yes, the folks at Char-Broil. And this is where it started getting good.

Char-Broil actually called and emailed me. I missed the call, but when I called the number provided in the email, a friendly voice took my information, and let me know that the burners were actually covered by a warranty. I mentioned that I needed all the guts for my barbecue, and they said, “No problem. What other parts do you need?”

This couldn’t be happening.

In fact, when I was forwarded to their credit robot that would ring up my sale, I tried to punch in the credit card numbers on the phone and got disconnected. I called back, got the same person and he personally took me through the purchase.

Friendly. Treating you like a valued customer. Making sure you really were happy. It was numbing. All in one day, in a matter of minutes, really, and the matter was resolved. The barbecue I was perfectly happy with will live on and I won’t have to spend hundreds of dollars for a new one.

But when that time comes, I guarantee it will be a Char-Broil, because they understand customer service.

That’s how you do it right.

Tim Hunter

 

AND WE ALL MOVE ON…

The best thing about getting older is that, of course, it’s better than the alternative.

But as I continue to rack up the years, I see others who don’t get to enjoy that good fortune. We’re all blessed with a certain amount of time on this planet, we just don’t know how much. The only consistent thing is that it’s never enough.

AUNT DORIS

Last weekend, we lost my Aunt Doris. She was the fourth of the six Brandner kids raised on the family farm just outside of Roscoe, South Dakota and in her lifetime, she didn’t get very far away. After getting married, she and her husband worked another nearby farm until he died at a young age and their oldest son, my cousin Clay, took over. Doris moved “into town” which is where she called home up until she passed at the age of 88 last weekend.

The day before passing, my mom was able to have a nice chat over the phone with her. Doris was so excited about being driven over to Ipswich, a nearby town with an actual grocery store. When you’re confined to an apartment in a small town of 269 people, something like a trip to a real-live grocery store can be a big deal.

The next day, following all the excitement of Friday, Doris had a ticket for a performance of the Edmunds Central High School’s production of “Trouble in Tumbleweed,” featuring her granddaughter, Ember.

By the way, Edmunds Central serves 32 students, grades 9-12.

Aunt Doris enjoyed the play, but as it concluded, she went to applaud and couldn’t raise one of her arms. It was the beginning of a stroke and, of course, for an ambulance to get her to a hospital, it had to be summoned from another city. By the time it arrived and Doris made the 45-minute trek to the big city of Aberdeen where the hospital was, things did not look good. In the wee hours of the next morning, she went to her eternal reward.

The last time I got to see Aunt Doris was at a Brandner sisters reunion back in 2019, which seems like yesterday. Doris and her sister Virginia left the Dakotas to travel all the way to Portland, Oregon, where youngest sister Judy lived. My mom and sister Debbie headed north from L.A. and my wife Victoria and I headed south to the Rose City for a couple of days.

I’m sure I have video of that group, as pretty much, when one or more are gathered, it turns into a laugh-fest.

Even though I would only see Aunt Doris and the rest of the South Dakota clan every couple of 5 years or so, when we were together, we just picked up where we left off before. I had kept up on her life thanks to my mom’s updates on the phone, but one of the most endearing things about Aunt Doris: for most of my life, she would always take the time to send me a birthday card every September. And not just a “Happy birthday, Doris” signature, but a hand-written, detailed update on everything that had been going on in Roscoe and her life that sometimes would often spill over to the back side of the card.

I’m pretty sure I saved every one of those cards. I’m going to have to dig them out and read ’em again.

What a sweetheart. Enjoy your rest. You will be missed.

MR. SLATER

Say what you want about Facebook, and I know you will, but it does allow us to keep up with people from our long ago past. This morning, I saw a post announcing to the world that my high school drama teacher, Mr. Slater had passed away at the age of 90.

I call him Mr. Slater because that’s what you called teachers back in my high school days. His full name was Charles Slater, he was the head of the drama department at Torrance High, and while I wasn’t into the drama thing, there was a time when a friend had written a play and asked if I would try out for one of the parts in his production of, “Nuts!” (hold the wisecracks at least for a moment) I got the role, Mr. Slater oversaw the production and made me as good as I could have possibly been. Acting was not my forte, but being goofy was, and somehow, we pulled it off.

That was my only real connection with Mr. S, but of the drama students I knew, they loved the heck out of him. Picture a Gene Wilder type appearance, with the big eyes and the curly 70s perm, and you have Mr. Slater.

Man, the power teachers have to make a difference in their student’s lives. It’s been 50 years since I roamed the halls of Torrance High School and I still find myself relying on some of the lessons learned there.

To all the teachers at THS, thank you.

DWIGHT PERRY

Now, wait a minute–Dwight’s still with us! In fact, they held a retirement party for him last Sunday as he hangs up whatever you hang up after you’ve been a sportswriter in the Seattle area for an eternity. Dwight not only turned the big 7-0 last weekend, but his kids organized a retirement gathering for him (on a Seahawks bye week, I must point out) so friends and colleagues could gather in Kent to celebrate his contributions to multiple print media outlets in the area, including the Seattle PI and the Seattle Times. His weekly column, Sideline Chatter, in the Seattle Times was responsible for countless people saying, “Hey, Tim, I saw you in the newspaper.”

Years ago, I decided to add Dwight to my weekly Wacky Week joke list and once a month or so, one of my lines would tickle his funny bone and he would stick it into his column. I will be forever grateful. In fact, there were times that some of my jokes that Dwight included in his Seattle column would show up in other newspapers around the country, so he was apparently being watched. To that end, when his daughter sent me an invite to attend his retirement bash, I had to at least make an appearance to say thanks. While the gathering was heavy on newspaper types, I had a great chance to meet and chat with Dwight’s son Matt, and meet one of his colleagues, Justice Hill. Mr. Hill still writes a weekly column for Cleveland.com but you’ll want to check his main website and follow his travels. Getting around the globe is what he’s doing these days and posting about his adventures right here.

I had forgotten that Dwight suffered a series of strokes last year that set him back for a while, but he got back up on his Sideline Chatter horse and returned to putting out those fun, positive stories for sports fans. I’m sure hoping that someone takes over that column, but if and when that happens, Dwight Perry is going to be a tough act to follow.

Enjoy your downtime, Dwight! You can just see how thrilled he was to finally meet me in person.

And we all move on….

Tim Hunter

It Really Happened

I have to be honest, something like this has never happened to me before.

Oh, there was that time I went “ghost hunting” with my producer, Bryon, at a south end cemetery on Halloween years ago and we talked ourselves into believing we saw some misty figures off in the distance. I wouldn’t swear to it in a court of law, but for the sake of a bit on the radio, sure, I saw something.

And I’m still not totally convinced I saw an actual ghost a couple of weeks ago, but it’s probably the closest thing to it that I’ve experienced.

So, it was a Sunday afternoon. That morning, my wife and I made a rare cameo appearance at a service at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Ballard. We had bumped into Pastor Gretchen at the grocery store the week before and she reminded us that All Saints’ Day was coming up, when everyone was invited to bring along a picture of someone they had lost and put it up in a window of the church. And so, we brought along a picture of my wife’s father, Ernie, who passed away last year.

After church, we enjoyed a rare day of not much to do, watching the Seahawks on TV and then after the game, running a couple of quick errands. As we headed home, we traveled west on 125th Street in Seattle, which happens to run right in front of the Evergreen-Washelli cemetery, where Ernie enjoys his eternal rest. I drive by that spot a lot and always look over his direction, just to make sure all is well. But this time, as I glanced over while I was driving, I immediately got chills. There, in the cemetery, not far from Ernie’s final resting place, was a man of his stature, in a blue oversized coat, just like the one he used to always wear, walking a big puffy white dog. Since I was driving, I’d check to make sure I wasn’t about to run into anything, then over to the cemetery, then back to the road and so forth until the cemetery was out of view. I didn’t stop, as I wasn’t really sure what I was seeing, plus, I didn’t want to say something that might freak out my wife.

But I was pretty damn sure that was Ernie.

I told Victoria about the sighting later and she found it “cool.” So, she didn’t freak out. If I had known that, I might have slammed on the breaks and yelled out, “Look!” But I didn’t.

I don’t know what’s in store for us in heaven or whatever awaits us after this life, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that wherever we end up, we get to spend eternity enjoying the things we loved. Ernie loved walking that dog, and people recognized him around his neighborhood as “that guy who walks the big, white, fluffy dog.”

And for probably 10-seconds, I got to see him again. Or, I think it was him. It had to be him.

It’s a moment I’ll never forget. And I know, one thing’s for sure–it really happened.

So, I thought I would share.

Tim Hunter

Let’s get political, political…

Yes, I’m going to take a gingerly stroll down this topic on the eve of those infamous mid-term elections.

No preaching, no secret agenda. You see, I’m old enough to remember when people could actually DISCUSS politics, without one thinking the other was a monster for having an opposite view. Flashing back 60 years ago when I was a kid, I recall my parents having friends over and them discussing the upcoming presidential election. (Gee, that would have made me 5-years-old) The phrase that stuck in my brain was, “Someone said that if Kennedy’s elected, he’ll have us all praying to Mary!” (Kennedy was a Roman Catholic. You know, the ones who wore togas)

Zip back a mere 40 years, and I can still see news coverage of President Ronald Reagan having beers with House Speaker “Tip” O’Neal. Yes, a Republican and Democrat, with serious political differences, but remembering the important thing: we’re all still Americans.

What the hell happened and why did we let it get this way?

I have my political beliefs, you have yours. I respect that. I’m not going to try to change your mind and I guarantee you won’t change mine, but that’s OK. Politics is only a part of who we are, it determines our future as a group and the kind of country we live in and will leave for the next generation. But it’s sad how it has become less about philosophy and debate, and more about marketing and manipulation.

As further proof I’m not trying to sway your vote, I’m posting this now. My ballot was filled out and mailed in two weeks ago. I have a feeling more and more people are getting it done early just to get it out of the way.

I’ve got a couple of videos I’d like to put on your radar. The first, this brilliant parody of a horror movie trailer about where the Democrats are when it comes to a future presidential candidate.

So much truth.

And another dose of truth for you here. This one touches on the blinders that some voters strap on and this preacher (yes, you will hear some preaching here) absolutely nails it. Thanks to sister Debbie for passing along.

But as I tell people I know who are freaking out about how these mid-term elections could go, we get the government we deserve. I hope for the best, but if we’re not bright enough to elect the right people, well, we’ll have to live with it.

So much more I could say, but for now, that’s enough.

Know WHY you’re voting the way you’re voting. Is it because of things you believe, or the marketing fears that they’re capitalizing on? Is it conviction on the candidate’s platform, or the talking points sent to them to repeat over and over because of what they found out in focus groups?

But here’s hoping you do vote so you can at least share the credit or the blame.

Tim Hunter

With Apologies To Facebook

I don’t know about you, but Facebook remains my go-to social media platform. Frankly, I forget about checking Twitter; Instagram is one of those things where I notice the logo on my phone and go, “Oh, yeah!” I visit Linkedin twice a week to post my weekly biz newsletter and my jokes.

But when I’m on the go and I see something cool or a funny sign, or I get one of my silly ideas, I shoot the picture or video with my phone, think of something dumb to attach to it, and then post it on Facebook.

You know, like this:

                                                                                                                                                Oh, yeah, like I was just going to walk by this…..

Now for the first time that I can remember, I’ve actually got some pictures piling up in my photo collection that never reached their usual destination. So, with apologies to Facebook and with the goal of getting all caught up in one fell swoop, here are just a few of the gems I meant to post there, but just never got around to it. (Or, I may have, but I don’t remember)

LET’S START WITH WHIDBEY ISLAND–A couple of weekends ago, we went there and stayed at a waterfront AirBnB and it was so out of the way, we HAD to relax. One of the evenings, Samantha, my daughter-in-law, was playing around with her time-lapse feature of her iPhone and I thought I’d do it, too. So, I captured this beautiful Northwest sunset.

This doesn’t even really do it justice.

However, lesson learned–Tim, would you stop being so impatient!!! If I had just let it go, it would have eventually ended up here.

Uh, yeah….

PLAYING TOURIST IN YOUR HOME TOWN–When you live in a cool spot, as we do, there are always a ton of fun things to do. But you’re living life, working a job, on the go, commitments, etc. and you just never get around to the fun stuff. For example, my wife and I have yet to experience “The Great Wheel” along the Seattle waterfront, even though it’s been down there 10 years.

But with a couple of Victoria’s cousins in town–Judy and her husband Bill from Santa Barbara and Francine from Oklahoma–we hit a couple of those hot spots.

First up were the Ballard Locks, where ships from the salt water Puget Sound come to be raised up 25 feet so they can enjoy the fresh waters of Lake Union and Lake Washington. That’s importing or flushing 8-million gallons of water in just 8 minutes.

As part of the locks, you can go to the fish ladders and watch the salmon traveling to their place of origin to spawn and die. Each one traveled hundreds, if not thousands of miles during their life’s journey. Just amazing.

And of course, right next to the locks is one of our favorite places, The Lockspot. Had to experience that place, famous for their fish & chips.

I’m the one on the left.

The next day, we headed to the Seattle Center, site of the 1962 World’s Fair, which Francine remembered attending as a little kid.

We opted not to go up the Space Needle, but did explore the Chihuly Garden & Glass Museum and not just words, but pictures also don’t adequately convey the eye-candy you get to experience there.

Looking up the master, Dale Chihuly on Wikipedia, the guy’s actually 81-years-old now and still creating visual masterpieces out of molten glass.

By the way, I discovered a hack you may have already known about when it comes to taking pictures with your phone. I wanted to get a group shot that was close, but that would include the entire Space Needle. I laid down on the ground and this was the best I could do:

Then I thought, “What if I use the Pan feature, but instead of doing it horizontally, do it vertically.” It worked beautifully.

A MINI-REUNION–I enjoyed a great lunch the other day with a couple of other former Destination Marketing refugees. Some of us left willingly, others were ‘retired’. Funny, but whenever we get together, new stories about a place I haven’t worked at for 7 years continue to emerge. Ironically, both of these gentlemen became recent authors. Scott Janzen penned about his days in the ad industry, while Chris Settle did a more inward reflection that included some stories from that previously mentioned agency we all share in our resume past. He changed the names, but some of the un-named knew who he was referring to and weren’t happy. Ah, life.

So, this week when I sat down to write my weekly blog about what going on in my life, I realized that Facebook wasn’t a part of it. I was actually busy being present and enjoying all these events as they happened and not doing a play-by-play on Facebook, to keep people posted on everything I was doing every minute of every day.

And I kinda liked it.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. Now you’re all caught up with me and Mark Zuckerberg will never know.

Our secret. Sorry about that Facebook.

Tim Hunter

Zero Degrees of Separation

You know how it goes. You meet someone you’ve never met before and while chatting, you realize you have a mutual friend or aquaintance.

Let me tell you a story….

So, on Tuesday, while I was Norwegianing (I swear it’s a real word, Spellcheck) my brains out at the annual Syttende Mai celebration down in Ballard, I noticed a guy chatting with my wife, and it seemed like he was referring to me. I was in the middle of a conversion with someone else, so I continued chatting until we wrapped up. Within seconds, this fellow came over and introduced himself.

“Hi, my name is Alex and you used to work with my mom!”

Well, if this was a movie, this could have gone all kinds of ways. But to answer the first question you had–and I had thought of it, too–no, he wasn’t my son.

It turns out that Alex’s mom was Heather Muphy, a woman I worked with years ago when I was at Destination Marketing, when we were making TV commercials. Heather was a production director or something like that, just great people and over the years, we stayed in touch the way most people do–watching each other’s Facebook posts.

But that’s just where my connection to Alex began.

Besides working with his mom, Alex said he had known my brother-in-law Kris for years. Then, I found out that he also knew Bruce Johnson, the Rowland Studio photographer, who was the official photo guy for Syttende Mai. Alex had gotten to know Bruce and my late radio buddy, Larry Nelson, back in their Chandler’s Crabhouse days.

It keeps going.

I was then introduced to his wife, Barbara. Not only had she worked at KING-5 for a while, but these days, she was at a company called Tri-Films. More connections. I had interned years ago at KING on the radio side, (although, I did chauffeur around the owner, Dorothy Bullitt for a week once while her regular driver was on vacation) but for a time, I was also a contributing writer to some of the projects Mark Dickison and the team did at Tri-Films.

They informed me that Mark had passed away years ago from pancreatic cancer. One of those cases where, here one day, diagnosed the next and gone within months. So sad. Mark once gave me the opportunity to write some jokes for the 75th birthday party that Bill Gates was putting on for Warren Buffett. One of the coolest things I’ve ever done, writing one-liners for the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Diane Sawyer and others, back in 2005. I always wanted to get a copy of that gig, but never did.

Oh, yeah, back to Alex. Apparently, he followed his mom’s footsteps into the entertainment industry and besides being a stuntman, he has a stuntman agency here in Seattle that he operates with Barbara, called Seattle Stunt Company. Check out his IMDB, and you’ll see he did stunts on a lot of the movies you’ve seen.

And may I add, all this, and a really nice guy.

So, how did Alex discover this connection between his mom and yours truly? Apparently, he’s a member of the Leif Erikson Lodge in Ballard–just like me–and while showing his mom photos of a recent lodge event, she saw a picture of me and said, “Hey, that’s Tim Hunter!”

Such a small friggin’ world!

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

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

Apparently, It Ends At 65

I’ve had a lifelong love affair with fireworks. But after 65 years, I’ve decided to call the whole thing off.

Growing up in Southern California, I was there when “Safe & Sane” fireworks were all the rage. Every year when those firework stands opened up with names like Red Devil and TNT (I mean, how family-friendly sounding can you get?) we would all pile into the car, park in front of that firework stand and dream of getting the biggest pack of fireworks they would sell us. Well, that was the kids’ view. As far as mom and dad were concerned, they’d usually pop for a $15-$20 assortment pack that we’d fight over as to who could hold on to it in the car on the way home.

But all three of us–my two sisters and moi–knew the second we hit the car, dad just had to blurt out his traditional phrase, “I don’t know why we just don’t light a $20 bill on fire!”

I think dad secretly enjoyed lighting off those sparkling fountains and log cabins that smoked. There were the Piccolo Pete’s that would explode if you clamped down on the ‘t’, but of course, we didn’t find that out until we were older. Oh, and Smoky Joe.

You’d put something that resembled a cigar into his mouth and it would actually smoke. Very anti-climatic, especially since during those days, most parents were doing that all the time.

But still in the eyes of kids, it was awesome. We’d enjoy a whole half hour of black or rainbow snakes, a couple of fountains, some sparklers with at least one of us burning our hands and then it was time to pile into the ’59 Ford Fairlane or the ’66 Chevy Impala to go find a parking spot down by Redondo Beach, to watch the bigtime fireworks they would launch off the barge.

There was one summer when we made a family pilgrimage to my mom’s home state of South Dakota during the 4th of July. The reason I remember it is because they actually sold firecrackers. I had never seen any close up. A cousin quickly fixed that by lighting one and throwing it up by my ear. Gee. Great.

The years passed. I became more interested in girls, I went to college, took a radio job in Yakima, got married and then moved back to Seattle to play radio here. There was a stretch where, due to my chosen career, I found myself at those big public displays. There was the Cellular One Fireworks Show at Gasworks Park one year, where we laid back on the lawn and looked up to an incredible show. Same for the 4th of Julivar’s a couple of times along Seattle’s waterfront. However, the drawback of those shows is that by the time they’re over and you walk back to the car and fight traffic, you’re getting home at midnight or even later. I had a couple of those in me, but then we made the switch to the neighborhood displays.

There I was, married, in my 20s and living in a neighborhood full of 20 and 30-somethings, and boy, they knew fireworks. The annual tradition became gathering in the cul-de-sac and watching each other launch all the not-safe-and-sane fireworks we had purchased at Boom City, up in Marysville. Looking back, it’s a miracle none of us were ever seriously injured. Including that now famous moment when my son lit a mortar that tipped over and shot exploding bombs at the crowd as they dove behind lawn chairs. You may have read that an NHL goalie was killed by one of those this past weekend when he took a direct hit in his chest. He was only 10 feet away and never stood a chance. He was just 24.

There’s something about the 30-to-40-year-old American male that attaches celebrating our freedom by blowing things up.  As kids got older, lifestyles changed and we successfully dodged house fires by bottle rockets landing on our cedar shake roof, you just hit a point where, “OK, that’s enough.”

As a sneak peek at the future for my younger readers, there comes a time when the 10 o’clock TV fireworks satisfy your fireworks Jones. You watch, you turn off the TV and by 10:30, you’re asleep. Well, until the 30 and 40 somethings in the neighborhood get out their illegal reservation fireworks and try to out-do each other.

Our current 4th of July routine is to watch the Macy’s or Seattle fireworks, call it a night and then try to sleep through what the surrounding neighbors have planned. One of the jokes I wrote about this weekend is that 1:30am on July 5th is my favorite part of the 4th of July weekend, because that’s usually when my neighbors run out of things to blow up.

Every year, my wife swears it’s worst than last year. To me, they’re all the same. Geeze, one of them this year actually set off a car alarm in the neighborhood. It was that big of an explosion.

And then, if you have a pet who just doesn’t understand, I’m sure you have learned to hate the holiday even more.

It could be maturity. It might be burnout. Whatever it is and the reasons behind it, the whole fireworks thing ended for me when I hit the age of 65. Nothing sad at all about it, I had my fun, but those days are now behind me. I’d continue to ramble on about the topic, but I’ve got to go chase some kids off my lawn.

Tim Hunter