Before The Parade Passes Me By

So, for years, I’ve been the voice of a couple of parades–the Bothell Freedom Festival Parade and the 17th of May Norwegian Constitution Day Parade in Ballard.

That includes at least 15 years in Bothell and another 10 in Ballard. So, I’ve got a combined 25 years’ worth of farting around and making smart-Alec remarks about what goes on before me as the parade passes me by.

In Bothell, my co-hosts over the years have included Joyce Goedeke, Joy Johnston, Judge Michelle Gehlsen, Dr. Eric Murray, and Bothell Civic Leader Mike Rue. While behind the mike in Ballard, I’ve hung out with Dori Monson, M.J. McDermott, Karen Pauley and Bjorn Nalum. Yeah, you can tell by the rotating names, I’m hard to get along with.

However, several weeks ago, I got the email that Bothell no longer needed my services and after a decade of doing the play-by-play for the city cable channel, I was officially retired. That’s fine. Time moves on and because of COVID, it’s been three years since the last time I had done a parade. I get it.

Now, normally, the place where I broadcast in Ballard over the loudspeakers to the crowd is where the judges make their decisions on who wins which awards, and it is THE place to be at the Syttende Mai Parade. But this year, things took a turn.

I was informed that my co-host of the past couple of years for the 17th of May parade was not going to be able to make it this year. Then, I was told the judges would no longer be based at my broadcast location, but rather an earlier stop along the parade route. So, it would be just me, on my own, from a new location in Ballard known as Bergen Place Park–I was still honored to be able to do it, but needless to say, my enthusiasm was dampened.

Then, I got an idea. A real Norwegian that I have a great rapport with, Ozzie Kvithammer, could be my new co-host. Slip him a couple of Aquavits and God knows what could come out of his mouth. He agreed, so brace yourself.

If you are planning to head down to Ballard for the big parade on the 17th of May, by all means, get within earshot of our broadcast to the crowd at 20th & Market and I promise, we’ll be at least entertaining. If nothing else, you’ll want to say you were there when we actually said THAT over the loudspeakers. The streets start packing in there around 4pm, the parade steps off at 6pm.

I’m down to just one parade, but I’m looking very forward to making this one really count.

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

Tell Me What I Can Do That Will Really Matter

After that long buildup with the expected result, Russia has invaded Ukraine. Who could have predicted that?

What you could see coming is the flood of traditional responses that Americans have developed from an assortment of tragedies over the years. Hashtags, Facebook profile pictures with an added graphic (in this case, the Ukranian flag), an industrial strength bombardment of ‘thoughts and prayers’, and so on. All well-intentioned efforts, but does it really help –oh, maybe we feel better about ourselves, but does it do anything to help Ukraine or punish Putin? Do you really imagine Putin flying through his Facebook feed and saying to himself, “Wow, maybe I screwed up?”

The steps our government and others are taking seem to be inflicting some economic pain. We’re closing air space to Russian airlines, freezing assets, sports events with Russian teams are being canceled, the ruble is plummeting in value and the Russian government has bumped up the interest rate to 20% with more increases on the way.

I do have questions for our leaders, like, “If we do sanctions and don’t the results we hoped for, then imposed more sanctions and then more sanctions after that, why didn’t we do all those sanctions at once at the beginning?” Sanctions take time to have an effect. Ukraine is out of time and has Russian soldiers, tanks and fighter jets attacking it right now. Things that will be painful for Russia a month from now seem like too little, too late.

Now, those are government efforts. What I want to know as a guy living in Seattle, Washington, what can I do that will actually make a difference? Something that will help Ukraine, inflict pain to the Russian government or both.

A natural instinct would be, “Well, I’ll show those Ruskies–I’ll just give up vodka!” Here’s why that won’t work.

Besides, I don’t drink vodka. (got sick on it once back in college) However, should Scotland ever decide to invade a country, I’ve got my economic hammer standing by.

Not being able to do anything substantial or meaningful is frustrating. I’m sure lots of people would like to financially fight the evil Putin empire, but in this day and age, Google “Aid Ukraine” and you’ll likely be aimed at a scam charity operated by long-time arch enemy Boris Badanov.

This is the first blog I’ve written in a long time asking you for help. I welcome all responses. I’m looking for what you know, what you personally can share. Oh, I’ve already Googled, “How can I help Ukraine?”

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

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

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

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

And thanks.

Tim Hunter

My War With Wordle

Earlier this year, I started noticing these weird posts by people on my Facebook feed. Something like this

⬜🟨⬜⬜🟨
🟨🟨⬜🟨🟨
🟨🟨⬜🟩🟩
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

At first, I wasn’t sure if my computer monitor was going out, or if the ‘Ruskies were trying to pass along a secret message to their spies here using a special kind of code.

Eventually, I learned that it was a result you’d get when playing the online word guessing game, Wordle.

Wanting to stay on top of social trends, I thought I would investigate. I played the game, got a kick out of it and most days when I get up, it’s one of the first things I do. (after making coffee and playing Jeopardy with Alexa)

Since you’re only allowed to play it once a day, it helps you from getting addicted and wasting a lot of time with it. I’ve been stumped a couple of times and then kicked myself for not being able to figure it out.

But then, Wordle-gate came along.

Around a month ago, the New York Times bought the game and fears immediately surfaced that they would start charging for this daily challenge. Was that the Old Gray Lady’s evil plan?

Well, not yet. But what some people were talking about online is that since the Times bought it, the puzzles have been getting harder. At first, I laughed it off as just a bunch of whining players who were stumped a few too many times. But then, last Sunday’s word made me re-think my position.

The word of the day? “Tacit

And I wasn’t the only one to notice that particular word. Now known among loyalists as “Word 246”, people were pretty ticked about that choice.

Yes, people were really upset.

Be honest–when was the last time you used that word?

Maybe when you were drunk, and slurred the sentence, “I’ll have to ask it”, which sounded more like “I’ll have tacit.”

Or, maybe you had an upset stomach and remarked, “I’m dealing with tacit indigestion.”

What exactly does ‘tacit’ mean? The dictionary tells us that means, “understood or implied without being stated.” Use it in a sentence? “Your silence may be taken to mean tacit agreement.”

Oh, yeah, I say that all the time.

I have never heard of that word before in my life. I’ve never used it and I can pretty much promise I’ll never use it in my remaining days. Why? Because if I did, I would have to explain what I just said.

So, are the new owners of Wordle trying to build up our vocabularies? I already have Reader’s Digest for that. That’s not why I play the game and if they’re going to start tossing me curve balls like tacit and have me guessing at words I’ve never heard of before, well, then, two can play at that game.

On Sunday, when I had figured out the ‘acit’ parts of the word and was only letter shy of nailing it, I did what every red-blooded Wordle player would do. I fired up Google and asked, “Words that have acit” in them.

Since there was only one possibility, I entered the missing ‘t’ and all was right with the world. Take that, Wordle.

It’s the first time I’ve resorted to this because I do want to keep adding wrinkles to my gray matter. I’ve solved some of the puzzles in 3 guesses, while others took me the full six guesses with the “Whew” comment from Wordle as I guessed correctly on my last try.

For now, I’ll keep playing Wordle. If you haven’t tried it out yet, do that here.

And one other hack that I stumbled across. Play the game on your phone first (a different IP address) and since the world is playing the same word that day, learn what it is on your phone, then guess it with one guess on your computer. Impress your friends. Influence your enemies.

What does the future hold for the game of Wordle? I don’t know, but if I get a chance to chat with the future, I’ll have tacit.

Tim Hunter

 

For Fred’s Sake

You’re thinking, “Wait, Tim. You mean Pete’s Sake, right?”

No. I’m going with the insanity happening in the Seattle media market this week and randomly tossing away the name everybody knows for another one.

The change I’m referring to is the call letter change happening at KOMO radio, where after almost a hundred years as KOMO, this week the station will be renamed KNWN.

Originally, I was ticked off at the current ownership, Lotus. But broadcast buddy Gregg Hersholt informs me that Lotus actually wanted to keep the KOMO call letters. However, the evil Sinclair empire decided to spread salt around the Seattle radio landscape and take the call letters with them. According to Gregg:  “The new owners spent months trying to convince Sinclair to sell the call letters. They wouldn’t budge, and it’s their loss because our affiliation was a benefit to them.”

Here’s the news story.

Apparently, one of the things that comes with growing older is you get to see the things you know get new names–Ernst to Lowe’s, the Bon Marche to Macy’s, Payless to Rite Aid, Weight Watchers is now WW, and on and on.

I’ve already blogged about the specialness that came with being a part of the KOMO family for almost five years. You can catch up here.

So, Sinclair gets the credit for taking the call letters and going home. KNWN is supposed to mean K-Northwest News, a phrase that KIRO has already tagged to their top of the hour I.D. as part of the radio wars.

But the bottom line–we’re saying goodby to call letters the area has known since 1926. Yeah, another 100th birthday we’re not going to see.

Back in the day, you wanted to make radio stations easy to remember. So, instead of four letters that all started with a K, you went with names that you could pronounce, like “KOMO” and “KIRO.” That would help them remember what to write down if they had to fill out one of those ratings diaries from years gone by.

These days, it’s all done digitally. People carry around something that logs who they listen to, so they don’t need to fill anything out. 

It saddens me to think of all that history that’s being tossed out. I haven’t been bummed out like this since I found out they were going to tear down the old KOMO radio building, that I haunted from 1980-1984. I remember my little office that I shared with Larry Nelson, the morning guy. Just outside of that office was a wall with a mural of radio stars who had been featured on KOMO over the years. The greats of the 30s and 40s. I believe in the remodeling, that wall was torn down.

With Rip Taylor in front of “The Wall”

It saddens me to watch a place so full of personal memories and that for decades, was a part of the daily life of people in the Puget Sound area. be relinquished to the history books. During my tenure, there was Brian Johnson’s 7:45 Morning Report (when Larry Nelson would head to the bathroom and shave); Bob Rondeau, the voice of the Huskies for so many years, was the “sports guy” who did the morning sports report; KOMO was the on-air home of Paul Harvey, with an abbreviated 5-minute early report at 5:30 and 8am, and then the full “Paul Harvey News and Comment” at high noon. I can still recall when we moved to the new technology, from a phone-line report to a satellite feed. It was like he was in the studio.

That was back in the days of “Destination Radio”, where people came for personalities and other things they just couldn’t get anywhere else on the dial.

KOMO was, of course, your Husky Station, which allowed me to meet so many of the Dawgs of that time, including head coach Don James. He knew me as Larry’s producer but would always greet me like an old friend whenever our paths crossed.

Another big phase was the arrival of AM-Stereo. It was going to change the industry. The announcers were told to start calling the station, KOMO, AM-Stereo-1000. I remember the big AM-Stereo kickoff event we did at some fancy estate up on Capitol Hill.

During my brief tour of duty in the building, I got to know so many people in the radio biz, as well as some of those fancy TV folks down the hall.

On the radio side, (and apologies if I forget you), Larry Nelson, Bob Rondeau, Gary Johnson, Brian Johnson (no relation), Dale Good, Bob Gillespie, Harmon Shay, Jim Reed, Monte Grau, Wanda Hutton, Pat Eisner, Shirley Thom, Kathy Cozu, Leslie Soule, Karen Heric, Rita Carrier, Bob Adkins, Keith Shipman, Eric McKaig, Gina Tuttle, Stan Orchard, Bill Swartz, Michael Hamilton, Roger Nelson, Jim Reed, Keith Johansson, Norm Gregory, Don Chapman, Joe Coburn, Jaynie Dillon, Kirk Lawrence, Rich Osbourne, Melody Tucker, Ted Garlatz, Jr. & Sr., and a host of others whose faces popped up in my head, but whose names escape me. Cut me some slack—that was 40ish years ago.

On the TV side, I got to know Ruth Walsh, Ray Ramsey, Bruce King, Kathi Goertzen, Dan Lewis, Dan Ibabao, Dick Foley, Steve Pool and others.

And two great engineer types–Stu Hitchner and Lloyd Jones, a classic character and brother of Seattle’s own Quincy Jones.

In just under 5 years, I packed in a lifetime of memories, not to mention all the life changes that took place while I was in the building. I was hired a week before my wedding and started after we returned from the honeymoon and moving over from Yakima. My daughter was born during my KOMO days, and I found out that my son was on the way the same day I was told I was being laid off.

If you want to read the adventures of KOMO in Seattle radio history, Wikipedia has a nice write-up here.

Management didn’t always make the best choices for the future of the station. It was the original flagship station of the Seattle Supersonics, until they let KIRO swipe them away. I had also heard a rumor while I was there that, at one time KOMO had an FM frequency but gave it away to UW, which became KUOW. I don’t have any verification of that story, but it’s a good rumor.

A radio station isn’t a building, it’s a frequency. It’s that place on the dial that you go to out of habit, so really, changing its name doesn’t really impact anything. When I go to AM-1000, I’ll be reminded of those years, of people who were and some, still are, a big part of my life and my history.

KOMO, I’m sorry to see you go.

Now, I no longer want to live forever. I just want to live long enough to see some company to buy out the Sinclair folks and re-name it “Evil Broadcasting.”

For Fred’s sake.

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