Sometimes A Great Speech Deserves To Be Done Twice

First day into the Republican National Convention and there was already a big controversy.

Really?  Do you call Melania’s convention speech that borrowed a chunk from Michelle Obama’s speech several years ago “plagiarism?”  No, really, I’ll give you second chance to answer that.  Still stick by your feeling that using a speech word for word that’s been done before is plagiarism?  OK, if nothing else, misdemeanor plagiarism?

Then, what’s the next step?  Arrest them?  Not likely.  Think less of the person who repurposed the talking points?  You could.

Or you could take a step back from the partisanship that some folks embrace every election year and realize that this is the same game, just different players, doing the same thing they’ve always done.

How do you feel about someone who repurposes a speech a couple of years after its been made?

Watch this clip and let me know if you still hold the same opinion.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=7a4_1203347783

This isn’t to defend one candidate or diss another. Both of our “choices” are just doing what American politicians have always done. They go back to the playback of a presidential candidate who came out on top and implement that strategy.  They reach back and borrow some words that were said before, with the hope of recreating that spark in today’s crowd.

I’m observing. We’ve got a long way between here and November, I’ve got two main candidates I don’t care for and I secretly hope that a third comes along that I can vote for and feel good about it. The concept of actually voting FOR someone rather than out of fear of the other is strongly appealing to me.

And, being the land of the free, that should still be possible, right?

Tim Hunter

The Wednesday Night Picnics

I know a lot of people.

As Walter Brennan said in his short-lived 1960’s TV series, The Guns of Will Sonnett, “No brag. Just fact.”

I’ve self-analyzed what caused me to be that way. My favorite theory is rooted in the small Lutheran grade school in southern California I attended that suddenly closed. I found my compact world grew quickly as I was tossed into public schools and became “the new kid.”  I wanted people to like me and I found that making them laugh accomplished that.  Then, it became an addiction, which evolved into a radio career. Of course, the more people you get to know, the more that can potentially like you. There’s also the bottom line that I just enjoy people. Everyone’s different, everyone has their own story.

Moving to Seattle and marrying into the Norwegian world, I’ve gotten to know even more people over the past 9 years. This past week, I got to know even more.

We received an invitation from friends to attend a “Wednesday Night Picnic” at a private estate up on Capitol Hill, an area east of downtown Seattle full of old, brick mansions. That’s about as much as I knew going in. Basically, we would be picnicking along with other people having their own picnics in the yard of a huge estate.

I felt very privileged to have been included in this long-time Seattle tradition. How long have these Wednesday nights in July picnics been going on? Would you believe 58 years?  As you can read in this article from the Seattle Times, the estate’s owner, Kay Bullitt, has done a lot of things for this city, very quietly. Not for show, but for the love of Seattle. And people.

She has used her estate to host all kinds of events including these neighborhood picnics. Her daughter Dorothy told me that back in the 60’s, her mom held a integrated camp for kids. There was also a “Peace Camp” for Jewish and Arab kids. And when Kay’s days on this earth are done, she has designed that the entire property will go to the city and be turned into a public park. Initially, there was talk of tearing down the mid-century home on the premises, but it now looks as though they’ll keep it around for a possible meeting facility.

First-timers to this Wednesday Night Picnic were asked to NOT take pictures of the neighbors and other people attending, but I was able to snap a few shots of the grounds and our little party.

Peace & Tranquility

Peace & Tranquility

A small playground

A small playground

Oh and from this vantage point.....

Oh and walk to the edge of the property over here…

And you can see the house across the street, towards Seattle, currently being remodeled before it’s new owner moves in.

Maybe Macklemore will invite us over sometime...

Maybe Macklemore will invite us over sometime

It was a very relaxed gathering of Seattleites, all just enjoying a perfect summer evening and the beautiful grounds thanks to our generous host. And now, I know even more people.

As one neighbor and his wife prepared to walk home, he came over, introduced himself and then invited us to come back next month for an afternoon of opera on the lawn.  Just bring a picnic, some chairs and enjoy. It should make for a splendid day of relaxing music. As long as that new neighbor doesn’t crank up the tunes.

The Wednesday Night Summer Picnics weren’t on my bucket list. But now I’m going to write it on the list just so I can cross it off.

Thank you, Kay, for everything you’ve done.

Tim Hunter

Saying Goodbye To The King

KING LOGO

There was another shift in the Seattle landscape this past week. The wrecking ball began to erase what had been the home of KING Broadcasting–Channel 5, KING AM and KING FM.

We knew the day was coming.  We heard about the sale, witnessed The Home Team move into their new studios down by the stadiums, heard about several “Goodbye to the building” parties (I missed both of them) and even enjoyed a little behind-the-scenes tour from the recently retired Jean Enerson, who shared some of the building’s secrets.

And then, the demolition began.

KING 5

There are many, many people who have a lot more extensive stories from their days in that building. My time there covered just a school year. It was my senior year at the University of Washington and I was trying to get some real-life working experience in before heading out into the world of broadcasting. My first internship was under the direction of a woman named Diane Clark. She was short, had a curly mop of hair and the nickname, “Roadrunner.”  Under her direction, I helped with the Public Affairs programing at KING radio.  Then, the following quarter, I got a dream internship under one of the finest audio production guys you’ll ever meet, Steve Lawson. This was at the time when Steve was the station voice of KING 5, as well as the production director at KING Radio. (Strangely, that’s where I first met my future radio co-host Bruce Murdock, pretty much a decade before we were teamed up over at KLSY) 

I’d have to say that my experience under Steve really cemented my interest in audio production. KING had one of those cutting-edge 4-track recorders. While most of my time with Steve was spent observing, after he was done for the day, I was allowed to use the 4-track recorder to produce a comedy series “Return to Normalcy” for KCMU, the U.W.’s student-run station. (now, KEXP, after Paul Allen bought it and moved it to the Experience Music Project at the Seattle Center)

Besides the hands-on Public Affairs and Production experience, the internships also gave me exposure to other areas of interest in that building:

When it came time to graduate, I had hoped KING would offer me a job. Hey, they liked me, they let me keep coming back after the internships were over. They even hired me for several odd jobs:

  • Doing Music Research–that’s calling up numbers out of the phone book, asking people if they’d be willing to take part in a music survey and then play 50 or so 7-second clips of music and have them rate the songs.  I’m pretty sure “Afternoon Delight” was among ’em.
  • Driving Miss Dorothy–I tell you, they trusted me.  So much that when Frank, Dorothy Bullit’s regular driver went on vacation, I was asked to fill in for a couple of weeks.  I would come to KING, pick up the keys to her Volvo, then drive to her home and take her where ever she would like to go.
  • Answer Phones on the Request Line–Yep, people would call, and request the songs, I would forward the list along to the DJ.

Also, being in the building, I got to know a lot of radio people, some of whom I worked with later in my career.  Folks like Dana Horner, Alan Mason, Rob Conrad, Dan Foley, Andy Barber, Rick Scott, Joe Cooper and, of course, Mr. Murdock.

However, that job offer from KING never came. And, when I was passed over for a copywriter position and lost that job to a woman with two years’ experience at Planned Parenthood, I knew I had to get in somewhere and start doing. And that’s when I went east of the mountains and began my radio career in Yakima.

But that’s a story for another time.

One other connection to that facility. For those who were around in the 1990s, you may recall that a former KING sales person flipped out and decided to drive his car through the front window of the building. He ended up on top of the older brother of a high school friend, Mike Oling, who had been a channel 5 reporter.  Mike eventually got out of the broadcast biz and now sells insurance in downtown Seattle. KING, as well as KOMO took immediate steps and put in cement barriers to prevent any future such attacks.

So now, the KING building becomes a part of Seattle’s broadcasting past. I was there at a time where Seattle’s top music stations were battling it out on the AM dial. Can you even imagine? It was a different era and now, just one more radio memory that eventually will fade away.

But until then, I’ll remember every moment of my time there fondly.

Tim Hunter

KING LOGO

Fred Hering

Fred Hering

Fred Hering

If you lived in the Seattle suburb of Bothell any time in the past 30 years, you knew Fred Hering.  If not the man himself, the real estate guy who had his office right there on 522.  Coming into Bothell, you’d see that sign, “Bothell–For a day or a lifetime” and then you’d pass the reader board out in front of Fred’s company, Hering & Associates.

I found out this morning that Fred passed away this week. The announcement was made yesterday at the Northshore Kiwanis breakfast, which he rarely missed.

Fred had his hands in many pies–he was President of the Northshore Schools Foundation and a member for 14 years, the Northshore Kiwanis (40 years), Northshore Schools Foundation (14 years), PTA, Boy Scouts, Northshore Senior Center, America Cancer Society, GOP District 1, and the Greater Bothell Downtown Association.  The retired Navy veteran was also father to three boys: Kevin, Tim & Dave.

Somewhere back in the days when I was Mr. Bothell, playing on the radio and writing a newspaper column for the Bothell Reporter (then known as The Citizen), Fred and I hooked up.  We didn’t see each other very often, but every seven years or so, he would graciously invite me to join the Northshore Kiwanis for breakfast and to be their guest speaker.

The last invitation and the final time I saw Fred was almost two years ago. I had decided to leave my job at a Seattle area advertising agency and set a departure date–October 1st, 2014. If you need me for anything, catch me by September 30th, because that would be the last time you’d see me working there.

During that farewell month, Fred gave me a call and invited me to come and speak to the Kiwanis gang again. “So, what date you looking at, Fred?”  He replied, “October 1st.” I quickly responded, “Funny, I have absolutely no plans for that day or the days after it! You’re my first commitment!”

While searching my email inbox for old previous exchanges with Fred, I realized he’s one of the people on my Wacky Week email list. Most likely, Fred was probably one of the original subscribers. I have to say, the guy was a fan and liked my style of comedy. I doubt he listened to me much on the radio, but he read my newspaper column religiously. Looking through my book, “Nosin’ Around Northshore: The First Five Years”, I found a great example of how Fred & I shared the same humor gene:

Last week, I told you about some of the more unusual signs spotted around town.

The gang at Hering & Associates Real Estate along Bothell Way decided to get into the spirit of obscure signage. Maybe you noticed it over the weekend. I know I did. On both sides of their reader board, just two words:  “Tim Hunter”.

I thought it was catchy and I sincerely appreciated the honor. But in no way am I going to allow their special attention to affect the high standards I have set for this column. Nice try, Hering & Associates, the home of thoroughly-trained real estate professionals who would love to help you find your next home.

It’s sad when you say goodbye to those characters that make up the fabric of your life. Four years or so from now, the phone won’t ring.  Fred won’t be at the other end, picking up where we last left off.  However, I prefer to look at things from the other side. I realize that I was so fortunate to have met Fred and honored he’d even remember my name. Fred Hering did a lot to make the community he called home a better place and his efforts and smile will be missed. We definitely need more Fred’s in this world.

Tim Hunter

The Apology Collection

635956876941753017523522344_sorryOnce each week, I like to sit down and just let the keyboard take off and see where it leads me. For most of my blogs, I like to pounce on a topic of the day. But having to choose between the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team getting spanked by Argentina, the on-going gun debate or the farce that we call the presidential campaign, I’m opting to create a new category.  Actually, this may become an occasional feature of this blog.

I call it, The Apology CollectionEpisode 1.

Think about it. We ALL have things that we regret or feel bad about that took place in our life. What we need to do is learn from those incidents and move on. Gradually, becoming a better person, life lesson after life lesson.  So, let’s begin with my inaugural collection.


  • THE SUBJECT: Susan X–I don’t remember her last name.  Heck, we were in kindergarten together so we’re talking back shortly after the earth cooled. What I DO remember is that she had cheeks that were rosy red, that looked to my 5-year-old brain, like peaches.  So, one day while walking home from school, I decided to bite one of them.
  • WHAT I LEARNED–Always find out, before biting someone’s cheek, if they have an older brother that will beat you up the following day. Susan, I’m very sorry I did that. Although, not as sorry as I was when your brother showed up.

  • THE SUBJECT: Laurel Scheerer–I have no idea where she ended up, but we attended Immanuel Lutheran School together for quite a few years, from grades 1 through 6. (apparently, my parents decided to go for a parochial education to help me cut down on my cheek biting) I recall several things about Laurel. In the 3rd grade, she became famous as the girl who went down the slide in her dress.  The dress caught at the top and by the time she reached the bottom, she was down to just a slip.  She landed and hit the ground running, making a beeline towards the girls’ restroom. But why Laurel continues to haunt me is because of the time we were playing hide ‘n seek in the 3rd grade. Laurel found me and was heading back to the flag pole, the base, to announce “1-2-3 on Tim!”  We were pretty close and for some reason (and this is why I probably should donate my brain to science some day) I decided it would be a good idea to push Laurel, right before we got back to the flagpole. She went face-first into the flagpole and cracked off a tooth.  Seriously, what goes through the mind of a 8-year-old boy to think that it was ever a good idea to do something like that?
  • WHAT I LEARNED–In a word, karma. Not too much later, some of the kids in our Cub Scout troop were farting around out in front of my parents’ house when a kid named Mark Kerstein threw a rock, making a direct hit on my front left tooth. Half of it was just gone.  So Laurel, a bit overdue, but I’m really sorry I pushed you into that pole.  But, truth be told, I was safe.

OK, just one more for this round.


  • THE SUBJECT: Giovanni Kordowski–OK, I was a goofball growing up.  Seriously, I can’t explain half the things I did.  At least now, I’m up to 52%.  So, it’s 9th grade, I’m now in the public school systems and we had a new neighbor with a funny name. She was riding on the bus with me and something in my noggin’ thought it would be hilarious to grab her sack lunch and play a game of keep away on the bus.  It went to the back, she pleaded, “Give it back!” It came back up to the front and I caught it and gave it a throw. Someone in another row had their window open that morning and it sailed out on to the street as we continued to ride to school. She was in tears, I felt bad (good timing, Tim) and eventually, she turned me in. Then I got to explain to my mom and dad why I had my bus-riding privileges revoked for a week.
  • WHAT I LEARNED–Never take someone’s personal property and disrespect them by throwing it around. Plus, if you do, always be sure all the windows are closed.  I’m sorry, Giovanni. My bad.

OK, that feels good. The rest of you waiting for your apology–well, you’ll have to keep checking back, or join the rest of the others waiting for their turn. They’re currently waiting down at Century Link Stadium, at least until the Seahawks are back.

Sorry about that.

Tim Hunter

 

 

 

THE FIRST ONE

Dad and Me 02

Sunday is Father’s Day. This will be the first one since my father passed away last August.

It would be easy to spiral down from there, but to what end? Yes, I’m sad that he’s gone. That the traditional Sunday phone call to wish him a happy Father’s Day won’t be happening this year.

But I’m not the first to lose a parent and it makes more sense to me to view Father’s Day as a day of gratitude. Looking back, I hit the Dad Jackpot. I’m so thankful that he was given almost 92 years on this earth. I have a lot of friends who lost their dad decades ago.  I can’t say enough about all the things he did for me while growing up:  the endless hours of crouching down behind a home plate he had crafted out of plywood so that I could practice pitching. Game after game of driveway basketball. The time he took me pheasant hunting, the fishing trips or all the adventures the family enjoyed on our summer camping trips.

There were the United Airline company picnics at the Los Angeles Police Academy. (yes, the same one as in the films) Watching home movies, I’m reminded of the dad who smoked a pipe for a while. Then, when he gave up cigarettes and tobacco, he became addicted to having a toothpick in his mouth.  He was on the board at the church school I attended and I recall one graduating classmate telling me he was afraid to shake dad’s hand—a part of the graduation ritual—because he might get splinters.

John Hunter was easy going.  He didn’t like conflict.  While born in Scotland, he was raised in West Virginia and had that relaxed pace about him in life.  He wasn’t fast, but deliberate. That’s probably what made him such a great mechanic, as several of his former United Airlines co-workers remarked to me at his funeral.  He was the last of his siblings to go.  We were blessed to have him for over nine decades.

This Sunday is that day set aside to honor our fathers.  If you had a dad worth honoring, consider yourself lucky.  That’s not always a guarantee and sadly, there are a lot of people who don’t even want to be reminded about their father.  As a dad, that’s impossible for me to imagine.

Being a father has truly been one of the greatest experiences of my life.  Having to actually be responsible for a couple of human lives and the way they turn out, that’s a big concept.  But having arrived at the point where my little ones are now 31 and almost 34, I’m so proud of what they’ve done with their opportunities and look forward to many great years ahead, watching them live their lives.

And when the time comes that I experience a factory recall, I sure as heck don’t my kids moping around or being sad about me being gone. OK, well, maybe a little.  But life is something to celebrate and, as we were reminded three times this past week in Orlando, to appreciate—every precious moment.

A quick tip for those whose parents are still with us–sit down with a video camera or even your cell phone and a table tripod and ask them to tell you their life story.  I did that several years with both mom and dad and while, for me, it’s too soon to go back there and watch, their presence, their voice, their mannerisms are then captured for generations to come.  Maybe even do that this Sunday.

Happy Father’s Day, Dads!

Tim Hunter

Dad and Me 01

HERE I GO AGAIN

guns

Another mass shooting and once again I head to my blog and try to explain to the “guns at any cost” crowd that the cost is getting way too high.

And actually, I’ve done this at least four times before:

As good a time as any to say thanks  

OK, I’ll take a swing  

I’m Really Tired of This

Giving second thought to the Second Amendment  

The point is, the latest carnage—and our casualty record-holder at this writing—was carried out with a semi-automatic weapon. You do not need one of those to protect your family or to do whatever it is you do to feel better about yourself. Being a personal weapon of mass destruction, it’s no different than a bazooka or a tank. We’re not allowed to own those, but because it’s called a rifle, every N.R.A. card carrying member immediately goes to “they’re trying to take all of our weapons.” No. Just the ones that are designed to kill mass numbers of people in a short time.

Remember, these days, we’re no longer allowed to identify people as crazy or, technically speaking, having a few screws loose. So, until they prove themselves completely off their rockers, they can walk into a gun store and buy a rapid-fire rifle.

I’m officially refusing to accept that this is just going to happen. When given the spotlight Sunday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio said, “It was Orlando’s turn.” That’s just viewing this as a game or right of passage or inevitable. Mass murder by deranged, angry person with an assault weapon can and must be prevented. I’m not willing to have my family or friends gunned down so that you can enjoy your misconstrued constitutional right to have an arsenal of every weapon imaginable at your home. If you believe the United States government is going to come to your home and take away all your guns, then you’ve got some serious issues to deal with.

Jim Jefferies does a masterful job of explaining exactly how I feel about guns in this video.  Yes, there are some F-bombs, but they were never more appropriate than in this piece. It is part 1 of 2, but the second part is easy to find on YouTube once you watch this one.

The late night TV hosts all said some thoughtful things in the aftermath, but TBS host Samantha Bee was the most on target.

How many more times does a mass killing of innocent lives have to happen until our country does something about it?

Tim Hunter

Putting the Ota in South Dakota

The Brandner Bunch

                       The Brandner Bunch

I was not raised in South Dakota.  I’m a California kid that grew up in a South Bay area city called Torrance (which, by the way, hosts the largest Armed Forces Day Parade in the nation every May).  However, I come from two imports to the Golden Bear state—my dad, born in Scotland and raised in West Virginia; and my mom, who was born in North Dakota and raised on a farm in South Dakota.

I kind of wish we had made it back to West Virginia to visit those relatives at least once while I was growing up. Never did. But we more than made up for it with our trips to South Dakota.  While we visited other destinations while growing up, I have to say the South Dakota ones were among the most memorable.  I’d guess we ventured back there was a family at least a half-dozen times during my stay at the Hunter estate.

It was a combination of driving and flying trips.  I’m told that my first trip back occurred when I was a baby.  Dad was exhausted, but the trio headed out anyway in our green ’57 Chevy Bel Air.  Since this was shortly after the Jurassic Period and in the days before air conditioning, the conventional wisdom was to do the bulk of your driving during the overnight hours, to take advantage of those cooler temperatures.  Of course, what else do people do at night?  Sure enough, on my first trip back, I’m told my dad fell asleep behind the wheel and we ran off the road.  This was also back in the days before such luxuries as seat belts. As the car eventually came to a stop, the passenger door popped open, as my mom held on to me tightly.  It would be decades later before I would hear this story for the first time. Most likely, it had to do with the statute of limitations thing.

Now, flying back then was also an adventure. Because my dad worked for the “friendly skies” of United Airlines, we flew dirt cheap, but on stand-by.  I remember flying United into Omaha and then catching a North Central prop plane that puddle jumped it’s way north to Aberdeen, the airport nearest our relatives.  One year, we tried the Minneapolis route, but it was so popular, there was no stand-by room for a family of five. So, after sleeping in the airport overnight and being bumped off another flight, we rented a car and drove the rest of the way to South Dakota.

Who was there?  Pretty much all of my mom’s side of the family, including the cousins I would see every couple of years.  There were my grandparents, Emma and Emil Brandner, along with my Aunt Irene, Aunt Virginia, Aunt Doris and Aunt Judy, Aunt Yvonne and the assorted uncles. The routine was to get in, use the grandparents’ house as a headquarters, then visit the various family members for a night or two.  In the early years, my grandparents lived on a working farm—as in milking cows, feeding chickens, raising hogs, etc.  For a city kid from California, it was a pretty big eye-opening experience.

We have home movies that document all those trips back and this summer during a rather impromptu reunion, we delivered DVD copies for all to see and relive some of those visits.  While we managed to work in some touristy things, visit a few family member grave sites and shop a little, the stories that were told of a South Dakota long ago were the real treasures we brought back.

One of my mom’s friends from her early years came by and that triggered a memory of Aunt Virginia, who was hired to babysit that same woman when Virginia was just 9.  Apparently, her family came to my grandparents home and “checked out” Virginia for a two week babysitting stint.

Virginia also flashed back on the time when she and my mom needed to go out and round up the cattle. With such things as shoes a luxury, my grandfather improvised and made some ‘shoes’ for them to wear into the field—using cut up inner tubes and some rivets.

My cousin Clay also provided some great stories, including the fact that he drove a car for the very first time when he was just five.  It wasn’t for a long distance, but his dad needed to drive the tractor, so Clay got behind the wheel when most kids were just starting kindergarten.

Our visit this time around was a bit of a whirlwind, but it was so great to get back to the place I hadn’t visited since 2007, and seeing some relatives I hadn’t seen in decades. While some of the young adults were just kids the last time we met, my cousins and I clicked like it had just been a couple of months since we last talked.  Of course, Facebook helps us stay connected better than any letter-writing did back in the day, but it was so cool—seeing Ronda, Clay, Curt, Pamela, Corinne, their spouses and families, we just picked right off where we had left off.

I couldn’t resist and so I put some excerpts of the trip together in my weekly podcast, which you can listen to right here.

Another South Dakota trip in the books. Another reminder that, when it comes to family, I’m a pretty lucky guy. 

Tim Hunter

 

 

 

It happened

Engagement on the Roof

Engagement on the Roof

When you arrive at this stage of your life, you look back on things that feel like they happened yesterday, but were actually decades ago.

Case in point.

It was August of 1984.  We were thinking about buying a new car, so I was asking KOMO Radio’s Larry Nelson for his thoughts on which ones I should seriously consider. We had become pretty good friends, even though my role was being the producer of his Seattle radio show.  That meant getting up at 2:17am every morning, driving in, finding lots of things for him to talk about during his show, lining up interviews, and such.

To be honest, I felt as though I should probably look around for what was next.  I was almost 29, had given up being on the radio in Yakima to become a producer in Seattle, but I felt like my growth potential at KOMO was limited.

Anyway, when I asked Larry for car recommendations, he shrugged it off.  “Oh, I wouldn’t get a new car right now.”  I came back, “Oh, yeah, it’s time.  We really need a new one. We’ve had the one in the shop quite a bit and we’re thinking about a minivan.”  He insisted it just wasn’t a good time.

So, I went back to the office to keep working on things for the show, but kept thinking about his words. “I wouldn’t…” “You shouldn’t…”  After a few minutes, I walked back to the studio and asked him what was up.  He informed me that management had decided to eliminate me and two others because of budget moves.  Yep, I was about to be laid off.

As Fridays go, this was probably the darkest one I had ever experienced. I began thinking about what to do next when the phone rang.  It was the neutralizer for the day–my wife letting me know that we were pregnant with our second child.  I thought it best not to bring up the job thing until Monday so that we could bask in the good news for at least a couple of days.

That child, eventually born on March 27th, 1985, was Tyson James Hunter.  Tyson, because we saw a story in the paper about Pete Rose naming his kid after Ty Cobb. Pete went with Tyrus, we liked the sound of Tyson–and James in honor of my mother’s late brother.  The quick story on James was that as a kid, I remember going through a photo album and seeing all kinds of pictures of me doing things I didn’t remember doing.  It turns out that they were actually pictures of a young James growing up.  We shared an uncanny resemblance.

I’ve been a bit on the over-sentimental side lately after seeing some home movies I had digitized.  It was the first time in years that I watched video of my two kids in their single-digit years and it made me realize how quickly time had flown by.  Add to that, last Saturday morning, parental units gathered at the Eastlake Bar & Grill, where we met up with Tyson and his new fiancé, Lacey, to celebrate their updated Facebook status.

I can easily walk through my mind and see so many of those Tyson moments again–Cub Scouts, coaching him in sports, holding hands as we walked along a street, seeing him laugh and goof around, hanging with his friends, buying that jacked-up truck in his teen years, going off to Boston University, graduating and becoming quite the businessman.  He’s now wrapping up his second year at the UW’s Foster School of Business, which leaves him a year away from graduation and then, becoming a loving husband to a really great person.  It’s about all a parent can hope for.

That time period I just flashed through covered 31 years.  It all began on a day when I found out I was going to lose my job, but it was a launching point for many good things to come.  I went on to my own successful radio & writing career AND I got to help raise a son.  The latter, among one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

Congrats Ty & Lacey!

Tim Hunter

 

The Curse of The Home Movies

Yep, that's one of ours!

                           Yep, that’s one of ours!

Frankly, I love home movies. But over the years, as the technology has evolved, they have become even more powerful.

As humans, we experience things–we remember things. As time rolls along, our brain filters out the lesser events and we remember those incidents with a different point of view: good times are now great and the bad things that happened were just a blip on the radar.

Growing up mid-last century (wow, that sounds old) the technology in my day was something called an 8-millimeter camera. It was approximately the size of the box your last cell phone came in, you had to wind it up, listen to it click like a purring cat and hope that, whoever was behind the camera, remembered to keep his thumb out of the way. Oh, and when shooting movies inside, the camera needed the help of a “light bar”, which amounted to four 100-watt bulbs strung across a bar that rested above the camera. The brightness helped with the filming process, but for the performers it was like staring into the sun. My sister Debbie is convinced that the light bar was the reason all three of us kids needed glasses.

Oh, yes, and then when you had finished using the roll of film, you had to take it to a processing place and wait a week or two for it to come back.  Then, you’d set up the screen, strap the film into a projector, turn off the lights and enjoy your home movies.

In the 1980s, the era of the VHS camera arrived, just in time for me to capture my kids growing up.  Fortunately, the radio station where I worked invested in the gear and I would borrow the camera to videotape everything and anything. I was thrilled by the technology and quickly became that guy who inspired people to say, “Oh, here he comes with that camera again.”

I’m so glad I did.  Sort of.

Here’s the deal–watching those silent movies of my family back when I was a kid is fun. It helps stir memories and remind me of people and times I could have forgotten about.  The quality is OK and there was no sound.

However, after recently digitizing some old VHS home movies and watching them–the combination of the much better quality plus the addition of sound turned me into a blubbering idiot.  Yes, I was happy to see them, but there they were again–that 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son I remember spending so much time with.

I’m not going to bore you with the hours of video I shot.  I’ll definitely go through all of it and set aside some highlights.  Here’s a clip I grabbed during one simple afternoon in the backyard with my daughter, Christina, and my son, Tyson.

It’s those ordinary moments that are right in front of you every day that, years from now, you’ll cherish.  Seeing this clip reminded me of one of the greatest times in my life.  It brought back the memory, but at the same time–hearing those voices, seeing those wide-eyed smiles and the backyard they spent so much time in–it forced me to admit those days are now gone forever.

However, they will always live on in my mind & in those home movies and, for that, I’m eternally grateful. And, in my mind, I’m able to hug them again.

Tim Hunter

 

In the Crazy, Crazy Month of May

Yeah, for me, May is an insane month.

Now, it’s a GOOD crazy.  But we’re talking everything from Opening Day of Boating Season, being the auctioneer at our church auction, Mother’s Day, birthdays including my wife, my granddaughter, my aunt, my sister-in-law, my father-in-law and several other family members. Yes, later in the month, Memorial Day officially kicks off summer.  But smack dab in the middle of May is Syttende Mai–Norwegian for “the 17th of May.”

Lots of people see a bunch of Norwegians (and by the way, reminding you that I married into all this) celebrating a holiday and think, “Oh, it must be Norwegian Independence Day.”  Actually, the holiday is in celebration of Norway’s constitution, which occurred before it became an independent country in 1905.

Seattle has been celebrating Syttende Mai longer than Norway has been a country.

Our personal celebration has evolved into a two-day party based out of a Ballard hotel. We move in the night before, use the place as our headquarters, play a little home-town tourist and just have a great time with friends.

To that end, I thought it might be fun to take you along on this year’s adventure, so here’s an audio highlight reel of some of the sounds and people from the Syttende Mai celebration in beautiful Ballard, Washington.

Hope you enjoy it and maybe we’ll see you in Snoose Junction next year!

Tim Hunter

IMG_4003

THAT OLD GANG OF MINE

While rummaging through photo albums for a Mother’s Day photo to post on Facebook, I stumbled across this picture from a long, long time ago.

The Old Gang edited

This was my gang. Not all the members, but the ones that were lucky enough to attend this particular birthday party gathering, whichever year it was.

We all had that collection of kids that we played with in our younger years. You’d get home from school, find out who was around and then organize a tennis ball baseball game or touch football or hide ‘n seek.

My guess is that we went bowling for this birthday.  That was a popular thing to do back then and we had a bowling alley just down the street from where I was raised in Torrance, California.  In fact, to this very day, that alley is still operating and occasionally the scene of a PBA event.

It’s hard to imagine the actual number of years since this photo was taken and how much has gone on in my life and the world since then.  This is most likely in the middle 1960s.  It was back when our  TV was still black & white, when only select baseball games were actually broadcast on television, stores were closed on Sunday, you probably had a party line at your house—meaning, when you picked up your phone to use it, someone in your area who shared the line could be talking and you’d have to wait for them to be done until you could make your call.

This was before contact lenses and VCR’s.  We had lost John Kennedy, but Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were still around. We had yet to land a man on the moon and we drank gallons of a Kool-Aid type drink called Funny Face (Goofy Grape, Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry, Lefty Lemon) that was sweetened with Cyclamates, which they later banned because it caused cancer in rats.  Why rats were drinking a soft drink, I do not know.  We didn’t wear bike helmets, seat belts were a new thing and despite it all, somehow we survived.

A quick rundown of the players, starting in the back row (apparently the boys’ row) from left to right:

  • Glen Rico—Glen was a year older than me, with parents from Mexico. As you can see, he didn’t get the plaid shirt memo that day. It was thanks to his older brother Oscar that I saw my very first Playboy magazine!  Well, Oscar didn’t show me. Glen just knew where the stash was hidden.  Glen also introduced me to the game of chess and years later, would not only attend the University of Washington, but also become an ophthalmologist over in Kitsap County. After suffering a detached retina several years ago, I was left with a blurry left eye. It was Glen who pointed out to me that it was a cataract and referred me to a doctor over here in Seattle. Once again, I have clear vision in both eyes which will come in handy should I ever stumble across some of Oscar’s old magazines.
  • Kelly Toman—Kelly was a year younger than me, but of all the friends, we were probably the closest. His dad and mine coached our Little League team together. We were both junior lifeguards own at Hermosa Beach.  Not only were we Cub Scouts, but we both had moms named Fran and they became our Den Mothers.  Kelly went on to become a firefighter and I would get occasional life updates on him through the years, but we didn’t really stay in touch. He was kind enough to come to my dad’s funeral last year and it was incredibly awesome to see him again.  We haven’t communicated since, but I’m sure when we do see each other again, we’ll just pick up where we left off.
  • Kenny Vaughn—Kenny lived down the street and came from a family of 8, if I remember correctly. There are several things I remembered about Kenny.  He had the neighborhood hip mom. While the rest were living the 1960s housewife dream, Kenny’s mom was seriously into pop culture.  I remember hearing that she took her kids to “Yellow Submarine” on opening weekend because she was such a huge Beatles fan and I remember thinking, “That’s a COOL mom!”  Kenny’s oldest sister was Penny…slightly younger Lori was the stunner of the group….and Sandy was the freckled-faced younger sister who I think we all had crushes on at one point or the other.  I always wondered what happened to them. Not a clue.
  • Kerry Freeman—Another “I wonder what ever happened to him” flashback. Kerry attended the same parochial school as me, Emmanuel Lutheran.  It was probably the following year that the church voted to close the school and all the kids that were a day-to-day part of my life suddenly scattered. Kerry also had a cute sister, Tina. Then again, when you’re that age, maybe everyone’s sister is cute.
  • Me—Yeah, I know too much about me. Let’s move to the lower row, where the girls apparently needed to be.
  • Karen Belcher—Karen and I were the same age and she loved playing sports with the guys.  That probably earned her the label, “a tomboy”, but she was kind, happy and her parents talked funny.  They had that southern drawl thing going. It turned out they were from West Virginia, where my Scottish father was raised.  Karen eventually worked for a local police department, but I believe she is retired now.  We saw each other at high school and such, but by then we were just on different paths.  Although I should mention that she did help play a role in telling another girl that I liked another girl, who eventually became a girlfriend, so I should thank her for that.
  • Terri Hunter—Yes, my sister, the middle child. Oh, the things I did to my sisters. One was a procedure called “Von.” Terri would have her hair exactly the way she liked it, I would reach up and my hands would act like egg-beaters on her hair as I said, “Vonnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!”  I have no idea where that came from.  I also liked to make her and my other sister Debbie, laugh, especially when it wasn’t appropriate, like at the dinner table. I’d get them to crack up, milk would come out of someone’s nose and mom would yell at them.  But being flustered she didn’t know where to aim her attention and would confuse the names: “Dairy! Tebbie! Awwww!!!!”  And that made it all worth it.
  • Debbie Hunter—Yes, apparently she and Terri were twins that day.  You gotta remember, this is back when moms stayed at home and some moms even sewed clothes for their kids.  Their look was probably a McCall’s pattern that mom mastered on her machine.
  • Shelly Toman—Kelly’s younger sister, the same age as Debbie and apparently bowl haircuts were the ‘in’ thing that year. (probably a Sound of Music aftermath) Shelly and Debbie were besties for quite a few years growing up, at least, that’s how I remember it.   Plus, more kids at your birthday party means more presents, right?

Those years seem like forever ago, but start heading down that path and a flood of memories get knocked loose.  I remember them as good years, learning years and everything The Wonder Years would talk about decades later.

As you’re growing up, you can’t wait to get older. To move on to the next phase of life.  Then, after you’ve done that a bunch of years, you start realizing the importance of the now and how, maybe, you should have appreciated those years a little bit more.

It’s never too late, so let me just say thanks for all the great memories to that old gang of mine. You were an important part of my own long, strange trip.

Tim Hunter

Lost Memory Recovered

payphone

When you think about it, we all experienced thousands–perhaps, millions–of events while we were growing up.  Going from first recollection to fleeing the nest, so much happened.  The older you get, the more the little details slip away and you simply hold on to those big events.

So I was pleasantly surprised by a memory of a little thing brought back this week by my sister Terri. She was the middle one, closest in age to me, so our high school years over-lapped. Terri was chatting with my mom on the phone the other day and she flashed back to the system by which we were picked up from high school, in the days before we could drive.

Apparently, each of us were given a dime. Back then, that was the price of a phone call from a phone booth. Whenever we had an after-school activity like band, a sport, drill team, whatever, we would let mom know approximately what time we might call.  Then, we’d place the dime in the pay phone, rotary dial the number, let it ring three times and then hang up.  That way, mom knew it was time to pick us up and we got our dime back.

A way to beat the system and save a dime.  I would have never remembered that by myself. Just thought I’d share this memory of a little thing from long ago and a much different time.

Tim Hunter                                                                  dime

 

 

 

PLEASE BEAR WITH ME

Bear

You can now rent “The Revenant” and so, in the near future. we’ll make the commitment and plow through that Oscar-winning movie.

My wife, Victoria, and I try to get out and see as many of the Oscar-nominated films before the big night each year, but that one kept getting bumped to the bottom of the list. The next thing we knew, we were just out of time. So we promised ourselves, “We’ll rent it when it comes out on DVD.”
When you wait that long to see a much talked-about movie, you hear things, you read things. SPOILER ALERT—I’m about to talk about what I heard that supposedly happens in the movie. Not necessarily things that do happen, but the rumored plot lines that seeped my way.
When you’re trying to psych yourself up to see a highly-awarded movie, the rumor that Leonardo DiCaprio was raped by a bear, or had to hollow out the guts of a horse to spend a night there (imagine how the horse felt) just made it a little harder to push that button at the Redbox kiosk.
At this point, we still haven’t seen the movie. I know it’s out there. We will rent it eventually. But until that time, when I think of The Revenant, I think of the bear, which takes me back to a week-long vacation when I was five-years-old.

I grew up in a Los Angeles suburb called Torrance, nestled in what they call the South Bay area.  When I was but 5-years-old, my Aunt Colleen, Uncle Chuck and cousin Charlie invited me to come along with them one week to their cabin in the mountains.  The place where it was located? Big Bear Lake.
I have spotty memories of that week, but here are the few things I remember:

  • The cabin they owned was in the mountains a good couple of hours away in a pine-scented neighborhood dotted with other vacation homes. It made you feel like you were a million miles from Torrance.
  • On our way to a fishing trip out on a rented boat, my Uncle Chuck gave Charlie and I some money to buy  drinks at a store for us to enjoy out on the rowboat. I picked out a chocolate milk soda for him because I thought he would like it.  He didn’t.
  • While out on the boat, I honestly don’t remember catching any fish, but I do remember being really hungry.  I decided to try a salmon egg (remember, I was 5) and I ended up eating most of the jar.  My uncle thought it was hilarious.
  • My cousin Charlie and I liked to wander around the woods above the cabin.  At one point, the two of us Einsteins thought it would be a good idea to go deep into the forest and build a fire.  But we weren’t going to take any chances.  We would build it inside a wood box so it wouldn’t spread.  Uh-huh. Fire department came, had to put out a mini-forest fire and, thankfully, we didn’t go to prison.
  • At one point of my first vacation away from mom & dad, my aunt & uncle tried to wear us down by taking us to the local community swimming pool.  There were signs everywhere saying, “Don’t run on the cement.”  A lifeguard yelled at me, “Hey, you—don’t run on the cement.” You know what happened next–I ran on the cement, slipped and went sliding on my side, scraping my left check pretty badly.

I was pretty low key after that—hurt and embarrassed. To make matters worse, a huge scab formed on that cheek. Upon arriving home, my parents were informed I had slipped at the pool and scraped my face. That was pretty much a non-event.  But what would I say to the neighborhood kids?  I can’t tell you how the mind of a 5-year-old works, but my brain decided to tell Glen, Karen, Kelly, and both Mikes that I was attacked by a bear. After all, we were up at Big Bear Lake.  It must have been by a big bear, right?

Did they believe me?  Maybe for a while. Maybe not. I know I tried to sell it.

Doing the math, that incident probably took place during the summer of 1960. Over the years, the scar has faded away and the story went to the back of my brain until The Revenant reminded me of my own personal bear attack.

So I guess Leo and I do actually have something in common—a bear attack that didn’t really happen.  Only he’s the one that gets the Oscar. Yep, kid actors don’t stand a chance.

Tim Hunter

AND OUT THEY GO

KING 5 FOUR

The faces of TV news in Seattle are changing. A lot.

It’s been a long time coming. As an experienced observer of this market for 40 years, I’ve seen ‘em come and I’ve seen ‘em go. In fact, at one time, I was one of those who went.

The sudden “retirement” of the King 5 Four  (really, KING, one more and you could have had the perfect number) was a pretty obvious ploy to young-up their staff and hopefully, their audience. But, to me, that seems like flawed thinking.

You know what’s been going on in that industry.  Fewer and fewer people turn to TV for their news. Younger viewers aren’t getting home at night and flipping on the evening news. Geeze, watch the NBC national news at 6 and you’ll see every laxative, high blood pressure medication and skin rash treatment known to mankind.

So, by flushing out the long-time familiar faces in a bulk retirement, viewers will now have the option to scatter or catch up with the world and stop watching the evening news all together.  My wife and I are actually down to just occasional viewing, as there is so much negative news and killing that, by the time TV gets around to giving details, we already know them. Radio and online have already filled us in and we just don’t want to hear it all over again.

I’m positive this push out the door was a combination of long-term employee higher salaries and corporate pressure to trim the bottom line.  I believe all four will continue to live in the area. They love Seattle, which is what kept them here all those years. When you see them, be sure to say “hi” and thank them for all they did. 

I casually knew most, but like you, after inviting them into your home night after night for up to four decades, they feel like family. So now, the Home Team will actually be home.

A few words on each of the KING 5 Four: 

Linda Byron–As an investigative reporter, she did her job and did it well.  She was the driving force behind the investigation into Sono Bello years ago when S.B. was a client at the agency where I worked.  Linda was relentless. I didn’t know her personally, but one of my life goal’s is to see her smile. Just once.

Jeff Renner–My morning show co-host, Bruce Murdock, was buddies with Jeff from his days at KING Broadcasting and we’d occasionally have him on the air.  I talked with Jeff on the phone during those group conversations, but other than that, I didn’t really know him.  He was Mr. Weather Guy, took it all very seriously and was just always there.  It’ll be strange to not see him in the broadcasts anymore.

Dennis Bounds–I’ve met Dennis professionally, but we’ve chatted more via Facebook than in person.  The only face-to-face I had with him was the time he read “Twas the night before Christmas” at our final Murdock, Hunter & Alice Show.  He came all the way out to the Village Theater in Issaquah to read it on stage and for the live listening audience.  As soon as the show was over, the radio station G.M. came backstage and told us our KLSY days were over.  I never did get a chance to thank you, Dennis.  For those who would like to hear his reading, just click here.

Jean Enersen–I actually have worked with Jean more than any of the others and even then, they were pretty much brief encounters.  You’d have to go back to the KING radio days, when I was an intern from the University of Washington and she was the gorgeous blonde news anchor that was always dashing through the radio area. Later, I’m proud to say I got to co-host a couple of “Race for the Cure” events with her.  Then, when I met Victoria, our paths at least crossed once because Jean is married to a guy named Bruce, who was the big guy at Zymogenetics where Victoria worked.

This Friday is the group’s final day with the company. They’ll make the break and I hope they make the most of it.  If you guys need any tips, look up former KOMO news anchor Dan Lewis.  That guy is a role model for retirement. Since he walked away, Dan has been enjoying every single day to the fullest. Hiking, spending time with his sons, going on road trips.  I’ve seen him a couple of times since he called it good and he just beams.

Nothing more to say but thank you all for the tremendous effort and for setting such high standards for your successors.

Tim Hunter

 

 

 

Take Me Out Of The Ball Game

sad baseball

sad baseball

I’m a baseball fan.  This must be understood if anything good is to become of this blog.

Wow, how Dickens!

Seriously, I was raised a baseball fan. The games were on the radio every night at our house. Back then, TV games were a treat and rare.  You either went to the ballpark or listened to Vin Scully & Jerry Doggett call the play-by-play.

I played Little League.  Baseball was the sport and a big part of my life. Other sports weren’t as organized at that time, although I began to dabble in basketball in my later years of adolescence.  But having a team like the L.A. Dodgers as your team, it meant winning and going to the World Series most years. Because they played the Series games during the day back then, teachers would actually bring in a black & white TV with ‘rabbit ears’ so we could watch those historical events.

Fast-forward to present day Seattle.  We have a team called the Seattle Mariners that made a couple of runs over their decades of existence, none ever resulting in a World Series. 1995 was a magical year with miracle wins along the way and a dream team combination of stars and over-achievers.  In 2001, we won an amazing 116 games only to get blown out in the first round of the playoffs.

And that’s been it. Since then, season after season, the routine has become hope that turns to despondence anywhere from April through late-July…and then, it’s football season.  I was thinking about it.  In Seattle, the difference between fans of the football team and the baseball team can be summed up like this: If you’re a Seahawks fan, you go to the Team Store and spend some serious bucks on a jersey.  If you’re a Mariners fan, you take whatever Fred Meyer or Penney’s has on sale and call it good.

Oh, now there are the die-hards who love their Mariners and are getting pretty pissed off at me right now. Tune in any of the home games in the next few weeks and they’re the ones you’ll see sitting down by the field, checking their phones and looking for the fast-forward button for life.  As a baseball fan, it’s hard for me to get excited about this team.  Oh, we have the stars, we just don’t have the leadership or that special “it.”

The “it” is what takes a team like Kansas City from a bunch of rag-tag, dreamy-eyed players to winning the World Series. Last year’s Fall Classic was exactly that.  I’ve had 14 years of post-season baseball to enjoy that didn’t include the Mariners.  Real baseball fans know what I’m talking about. Sure, by then, football is underway, but those final weeks of baseball’s endurance challenge keep me coming back year after year.

Coming back?  Yeah, part of that 14-year history is knowing that, by August, the Mariners are done. By then, I’m no longer checking to see if they won or lose and I’m actually paying more attention to my back-up teams (you need those in Seattle) the Red Sox and the Dodgers. At least one of them usually makes it to the post-season.

Again, the die-hard Mariners fans will call this blasphemy, but I’m just not finding them to be a team I can believe in.  I would LOVE for them to prove me wrong.  I hope they right the ship and get this collection of players to live up to their potential.  But the biggest reason behind my doubt is inspired by the ownership’s decision to name a manager who has never managed a major league team before. Ever.  Or a minor league team, for that matter. It sounds like the plot of a Disney baseball B-picture.  At least in “Damn Yankees”, the guy with no experience had the devil helping him out.

If I accept this, I’d also have to hop on board a 747 with a pilot who has never flown before, or have a surgery performed by a guy who isn’t a doctor, but who has watched every episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Yes, I’m venting.  It’s because I care so much about the game of baseball that I’m sad it’s not taken seriously when you’re lucky enough to have a major league team.  I’m not asking for an immediate championship. Hell, I’m 40 years into this adventure. I’d settle for a competitive team, that shows up and has the desire to win every day.  I’m just not feeling that with this year’s edition of the Seattle Mariners.  At least, not yet.

It was the great Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda who said it best:

“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”

Here’s hoping the Mariners figure out that final third.

It’s early in the season.  I think I’ll wander over and check on soccer for a while.

OK, I’m back. Go Mariners. Please.

Tim Hunter

Sorting Out This Wacky Election Year

none

We’ve been hearing the candidates debate, bicker, accuse, slander and whine for what seems like forever and there are still over six months to go until the presidential election.

Where’s the fast forward button?

There was a time I was in the Republican camp. Heck, I was a registered Republican in my early voting years.  But even as a registered Republican, I strayed one year and voted for Ross Perot for president. (younger readers, he was the Donald Trump of our time) Back then, the idea as I understood it was that Republicans wanted less government in our lives. Provide a strong defense and just let people live.  But somewhere along the line, the party evolved into the moralist party, the “God is on our side and we’ll determine your morals” party and when that happened, the far right fringe took over.

Everyone is allowed their own political opinion. We have a constitution that protects that.  No one is more right than the other, their opinion is just the way they’d like the world to be.  What has happened over the years is that I’ve become less “Republican” and more “Democrat”, but prefer to remain somewhere in the middle.

Topics such as abortion or same-sex marriage–those are choices, not mandates.  No one is going to force you to have anything to do with either.  If you view them as wrong, don’t do them.  If you choose them, well, it’s your choice.  If you start out by saying, “Well, the Bible teaches they’re wrong”, think about it: it also teaches that lying and robbing and coveting are wrong.  Disobeying laws of any kind are wrong. If that’s the case, why don’t you skip the next anti-whatever rally and focus on one of the less trendy sins of the world?  Maybe a petition to stop speeders from owning homes?  Or allowing people to discriminate against gossipers? (actually, I’ll sign that one)  If a sin is a sin is a sin, the Bible says you’ll have to ultimately be accountable in front of God.  I think it’s probably a good idea to take “God’s Law Enforcer” off your resume.

When you start legislating other people’s lives based on your personal religious beliefs, you’re heading down a slippery slope.  Everyone’s religion matters, right?  So the Hindu that is offended you’re eating that burger wants a constitutional amendment to ban beef.  Oh, so it’s only the way YOU believe that should be law.  Then run for king or queen and see how that works out.

I’m now at the place where I’ve gone from a “Young Republican for Nixon” (hey, I admit it) to someone planning to vote for Bernie Sanders whether he gets the nomination or not.

I said at the beginning of the campaign season that the reason there were so many Republicans running is that they had inside knowledge Hillary would get her party’s nomination, then would have to bow out because of the email scandal.  That being said, I’m bracing myself for the possible election of any of the remaining candidates:

Hillary Clinton–You thought Obama had a tough time getting things through with a Republican congress? I’m hoping if she wins, she’ll realize her victory was a “You ended up being the better of two evils” rather than a mandate.

Bernie Sanders–There’s no way that Republican congress will go along with his “Let’s beat up the bankers and give things away” plan, but I believe the guy has good intentions and a conscious. If there’s one candidate who is sincerely concerned about people, it’s Bernie. While he may not realize his vision, he could take the country in a positive direction.

Ted Cruz–He scares me more than Donald Trump.  While not a darling of the party, this Tea Party survivor would do everything in his power to make the U.S. a theocracy.  But again, he hasn’t made a lot of allies in the Senate and his caustic, self-righteous style would probably put us into four years of “Uh, who’s up next?”

Donald Trump–There was a time when I believed that our country needed a leader that’s more CEO than politician. Someone who would run the country like a company, being responsible with the budget and that would make America efficient again.  Trump’s mouth and crass style was attention-getting at first, that “anti-politician” that you think you want. But his outlandish and primitive-thinking comments have eliminated him from any serious consideration.

John Kasich–You know, there actually might be something there. He seems to have a sensible message going, but just can’t get traction over the side-show of the other candidates.

Other observations:

You keep hearing that Bernie Sanders doesn’t have a chance of getting the nomination, yet people keep voting for him. What does that say?

If the Republicans do manage to ‘Dump Trump’, Donald will be pissed and go off and run as an independent. That fractures the Republican and independent vote and gives whoever ends up being the Democratic nominee the election.

Don’t watch political ads on TV and let them influence your opinion. I live in the advertising world. Commercials are designed to sway opinions and political ones are among the worst. The negative half-truths fly everywhere and its up to you to flush out the truth.

I have friends that are dyed-in-the-wool Republicans and others who are life-long Democrats. Both would never consider voting any other way.  I guess my political opinions are too all over the board to be represented by one party.  This may mean it’s time for the Tim Party.

I never wanted to be a single-issue voter, but the increasing gun violence in our country has forced me to make that a priority.  I believe the rights of gun owners should be protected, as stated in the second amendment.  However, I don’t think a mentally disturbed person should have the right to go to a gun shop and get everything he needs to go out and slaughter innocent people.  That is not what our forefathers intended.  A solution is desperately needed.

Basically, I’m looking for a candidate that is genuine, sincere, that will eliminate wasteful spending, promote responsible gun control and lets people live their lives.  Am I asking too much?

Tim Hunter

 

My Favorite Holiday

April Fools’ Day is right up my alley.  I’m a jokester. I love the kind of comedy that surprises you. Actually, it’s easier when they don’t see you coming.

And because AFD can be annoying to some, I go for the subtle.

Oh, I’ve done my fair share of blatant over the years. I’ve blogged about it before, so dig around the archives and you’ll see of a few of the stunts I’ve done on the radio side of things.  From phony parades in downtown Seattle to looped cell phone rings that we had playing in the background but didn’t acknowledge, it’s just fun to me.

So, this year, I was trying to think of something fresh, something new.  Nothing really jumped out at me. Over time, when I hit a comedy writing wall, I try to tear down the subject to it’s basics.  April 1st is about fooling someone and the reason they believe you is that they trust you. That’s the kind way of putting it. You could also say, they’re “gullible.”  So, why not declare Friday to the unsuspecting as “National Gullible Day.”

I could do a TV ad. OK, that’s a start. Let’s keep going.  I could shoot some stand-up lines, swipe some footage from YouTube, etc.  Then I realized I should tap into the people I know.   I reached out to Matt Riedy, former DJ turned actor down in Hollywood and asked if he wanted to play.  I reached out to former KOMO news anchor Dan Lewis to see if he would be up for it.  I sent out messages near and far, expecting a balance of “Uh, no thank you’s” and “Sure, why not?”

I love that everyone I reached out to agreed to go for it.  They trust I won’t do anything embarrassing to them or something that might tarnish their image.  The result is this plug for National Gullible Day.

 

 

Thanks to everyone who helped–Skip Tucker, my brother from another mother, down in L.A.  Nick & Sam, my step-son and his wife, who sent me a clip from London on the final day of their vacation.  The talented Fred Bugg, who lent his Donald Trump and Ted Cruz voices to the bit.  Bob Boustedt, who lent his lower body to play the part of Donald.  Marty, Jodi, Pedro & Luciana from the Jet Morning Show in Seattle.  Matt Riedy and Dan Lewis–thank you!

This came to me Tuesday, sent out requests Wednesday, and shot my part on Thursday, then put it all together.  Wow.

Here’s hoping you survived the pranks and take comfort in the fact that April Fools Day falls on a Saturday next year.

You know, that only adds to the challenge.

Have a great one.

Tim Hunter

 

Easter Weekend 2016

I was a tall kid. They couldn't fit my entire head in the picture.

I was a tall kid. They couldn’t fit my entire head in the picture.

The past is a wonderful place, I just wouldn’t want to live there.

But it’s fun to go back and visit. To dig out a photo album, watch those home movies you had digitized, or even just watch one of those movies from a key part of your life that brings those memories out of a dusty corner of your brain.

I was debating on which topic to cover this week and the temptation to do something on one of the latest wrongs in the world was there–the elections, terrorism, guns, crazy drivers (Victoria was clipped this week by a hit & run driver).  But I decided upon the occasion of Easter weekend that I should keep it positive and reflective.

So I’d like to talk about the Sweet Sixteen and who I think will win the NCAA tournament.

KIDDING.

I let the mind wander back to my early years.  The earth had recently cooled and I was a member of a church-going family.  Oh, I don’t mean we went every Sunday.  I meant, if there was a service, we were there.  Sundays, Lent, Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, Advent, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve–we rarely missed a one. I’ll bet if the church had tested us with something like a “Transgression Tuesday” service, you would have found the Hunters there.

Once you have a family of your own and you want your kids to at least have the exposure of church, you’re pretty good about it.  Most Sundays, got ’em to Sunday school.  Kept ’em involved to a degree until confirmation and then, that’s about all I could really ask. It’s about giving them the foundation and then see what happens.

These days, Victoria & I aren’t regulars, per se. When I host the annual church auction, I like to say, “If you go to the early service, I go to the late service.  If you go to the late service, I go to the early service.”  We belong to a church, like the people there, but we live very crazy-busy lives, by choice.  Sundays are sometimes about vegging out or there could be something planned.

But enough about me–back to Easter, the star of this weekend.

I was giving it some thought and Easter is like one of the last remaining, respected Christian holidays.  At a time when you say the word ‘Christian’ and people think of Ted Cruz or Televangelists or Right Wing Wackos, I proudly admit to being a Christian, just not like those aforementioned.  But think about it: On Good Friday, the stock market is closed.  On Easter, the malls are actually shut down. Seriously.  I remember several times back in the day when I thought I’d run over to the mall on Easter and it was a ghost town.  Remember the outrage over the past couple of years?  First the stores were open on Thanksgiving, then Christmas Day.

But they are closed on Easter and no one is complaining.  Go figure.

Comparing Easter to when I was growing up and now, things really haven’t changed a whole lot when it comes to the celebration at a kid level. There are still hollow chocolate bunnies that shatter the hopes of every kid who would have bet their college fund that it was solid chocolate.  There are still malt balls, (my favorite), jelly beans, and Peeps.  Just more flavors of each than I ever could have imagined.

I remember hiding plastic eggs for our kids throughout the house when they were growing up.  They also took part in a few outdoor egg hunts over the years.  Today, a new tradition has started at my daughter’s in-laws, down in Olympia, where a field of colored eggs, around 500 of them, will await a dozen or so kids this Saturday.  It’s awesome to see the look in their eyes and their genuine excitement.

There are smiles. There’s a look of hope. And when you think about it, that’s what Easter is supposed to be all about. A new beginning, a second chance, hope.  We can celebrate it for just one day, or take it with us all year long.

I guess the only thing that disappoints me about Easter is that the holiday was never validated by a Peanuts Cartoon special.  Oh, sure, do Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the easy ones.   But would it have hurt anyone to have Linus spend the night in a rabbit hole, awaiting the arrival of the Great Bunny?  Then again, those aren’t jelly beans on the ground.

Never mind.

Happy Easter.

Tim Hunter

Aw, Election Year

Undecided

So, I’ve done the math and I realize that I’ve been eligible to vote in 10 presidential elections.  I voted in all ten, but not along party lines.  Seriously, I voted for a Bush or two, Obama and even Ross Perot that one fateful year.

At this point, I don’t know who I will vote for in 2016.  But notice the structure of that sentence: “will vote for.”

Sadly, we’ve gotten to the point where Americans are more anti-someone than actually for the candidate they end up supporting.  Because negative works, each candidate and the troll-like party PACs sling the mud and it usually sticks.

Now, this is hardly new in our presidential election system. It’s just that now, information travels so fast, even the most incredible rumor can make the rounds with passion before someone points out it’s not true, or an exaggeration.

Gosh, just in my lifetime, I’ve heard scare stories about multiple candidates. “If Kennedy is elected, he’s going to have the whole country praying to Mary!”  “If Goldwater gets in, he’ll blow us all up!” One worked, one didn’t.

I know a lot of people who vote party, not person.  That’s too bad.  I frankly don’t understand it, especially since the parties have changed so much over the years.  In 1872, there were actually three major parties—the Republicans, the Liberal Republicans and the Democrats.  When Susan B. Anthony asked for each party to include something about women’s rights in their platform, the only ones to respond?  The Republicans.

Yet, the G.O.P. also gave us some pretty slick dirty tricks back in the day.  Like going into a predominantly black area, putting up posters for a free picnic to support the democratic presidential candidate and then, of course, there would be no picnic.  Yeah, ain’t America great?

Basically, I’m just sitting back until November, watching the circus and seeing where this all takes us.  And what a lot of my liberal friends don’t understand—I’m not concerned about Donald Trump.  He’ll either get elected or not.  That’s beyond my control.

If you’re concerned that a rich guy will get in office and make it easier for businesses to thrive, yes, I do believe that is a possibility.  It’s the on-going conflict—let’s hate Wall Street and everything that big business represents until they take a hit and our 401k’s begin to crash.  Then we complain about that.

Until this year, the wealthiest man ever elected president?  John F. Kennedy.  I don’t think he did such a bad job for a rich guy.

Trump is no Kennedy, but he’s also not a Hitler.  He’s a non-politician that is running for our country’s highest office.  He’s saying popularist blah-blah so that he can get enough voters to give him a shot at being the first CEO of our country.

Yes, Tim, as he slipped into third person, but Trump never held public office!  If I asked you if a candidate was qualified to be president after only two years of being elected to public office, what would your answer be?”

I’ll let you answer that with this helpful chart.

Barack Obama Sara Palin

Republicans

No

Yes

Democrats Yes

No

Here’s the deal—let’s say Trump is elected.  The guy who Democrats fear and who the Republican establishment resents for taking over their party.  How exactly is he going to get anything done with a congress that wants to see him fail?  To that end, unless there’s a major shift in congress, President Hillary or President Bernie would face the same thing.  Ted Cruz, I’ve heard, isn’t very well-liked in the Senate.

So we’ve got a real mess on our hands.

My main point is that I encourage you to the best of your ability to vote FOR someone. You can wait until the dust settles and the candidates have been chosen, or get on board now.  But don’t let negative TV ads or ridiculous comparisons or rumors help decide who we’ll have running the country for the next four years. That just reinforces that negative works.

As we’ve done many times before, America will survive regardless of who gets in and we’ll either advance or learn something that makes us a better nation.

But only if you vote.

Ushers, you may pass the plate now.

Tim Hunter

True Confession #1582

gas-mask-bc-27155

Oh, I’m sure I have more than that, but I just picked a random number.

It’s one of those stories that popped into my mind when a picture of the person involved passed through my social media feeds. Because I’d like her to not disown me as a friend, no names will be used to protect the innocent.

It was a recording session at Destination Marketing.  The mighty Scott Burns was manning the audio equipment and I was there to direct the talent who stood in the recording booth on the other side of the glass. She read the lines, they didn’t seem to flow, so I rewrote them on my copy of the script.  Another read, more changes.  Pretty soon, both of our copies of the scripts were pretty messed up and hard to read, so we put things on hold and I dashed down to my office to write up a clean script.

I printed the easier-to-read versions and dashed back down the hall to our awaiting talent. As I rushed down the hall and then pushed open the recording booth door, she yelled out, “No!  Don’t come in!”  I thought she was being silly….until I took a breath.  Apparently, while I was gone, she had released one of the meanest, nastiest farts ever cast upon mankind.  I handed her the scripts, acted as if I had been gassed by the Kaiser’s troops and slipped back out of the booth.  The next five minutes or so, we all spent laughing hysterically.

What’s better yet, somewhere there is an audio recording of that incident.

Aw, what goes on behind closed studio doors……

Tim Hunter

 

The Day I Was Lucky Enough To Meet Heidi

sunset 2

This was a pickup mission. With the Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle having their annual Fishcake & Meatball Dinner on March 6th, one of the chorus members had a friend who had offered items for the live and silent auction parts of the event.  All I knew going in was that we were heading to a house, somewhere in North Ballard, I would lug some boxes out to the car and off we’d go.

If it weren’t for this rendezvous, I probably would have never set foot inside that cute little brick home or met its resident. My wife Victoria & I approached the door and a friendly voice welcomed us into her home.  Her name was Heidi and after three hours of wrapping donation items,  she was finishing up the last box of things she had so carefully packed.  In all, there were four boxes full of collectibles I was surprised she was donating–clocks, collectible Hummels, gold-plated plates and such.  She explained the disorderly appearance of her home by saying that she was moving to a local retirement center. Heidi estimated that she had given away around 95% of her stuff in preparation for the move.

As she carefully wrapped another item for placement in the box, she began to tell the story of why she was moving.

It began several months ago, when she and her husband went down to the beach to celebrate his 75th birthday.  Shortly after they came, he drove to the store and was making a turn on to 15th Avenue NW when he had a massive heart attack.  As in, by the time he was part way around the corner, he was gone! His car crashed into a Metro bus, medics were called but, when they arrived, they found no pulse or heartbeat.  After working to revive him for over an hour, they realized he was gone for good.

As she told this story, Heidi realized that this accident had happened six weeks ago today.

In that short amount of time, her entire world had been turned upside down.  Life had already become quite challenging. She was slightly hunched over and needed a cane to maneuver around safely. Because of a liver condition, Heidi explained that even though she was in pain all the time, she couldn’t take any pain medication.

Yet, she was smiling, pleasant, excited to see us and discuss what was happening in her life.  She realized that, had she been with her husband that fateful day, she probably wouldn’t have survived.  Now, she found herself with a house full of stuff and no family to share it with–no kids, no relatives nearby and their only niece died a few years ago.  She literally was completely alone in this world.

As she pushed herself through to the next phase, giving things away and packing what was left, Heidi was dealing with the recent tragedy as best she could.  She wrapped up the final item, we taped the boxes shut and I began carrying them out to the car.  In between my trips, I could hear Heidi talk about her church and her faith that has kept her going.  I can’t help but think that it would be extremely easy to become cynical and bitter after hearing what took place in Heidi’s life, but she would have nothing to do with that kind of lifestyle.

She was happy to be alive, to live a life that would be pleasing to God and to carry on with whatever he had planned for her.

I was lucky enough to meet this remarkable woman, to spend an hour or so with her, chatting and getting to know her.

Thanks for the life reminder, Heidi. We tend to forget that everything can change in an instant and that really need to cherish every single day for the gift it is. Good luck in your new adventure.

Tim Hunter

 

WHAT A SMALL FRIGGIN’ WORLD

OK, it’s a given–I know a lot of people.

Primarily, it’s because I enjoy meeting people, getting to know them, staying in touch over the years.  If I had to count up the number of people I actually dislike (and I temper that a great deal because I feel actually hating someone takes too much energy) I could probably count ’em on one hand.

We’re all together on this rock.  Each of us has had some great moments, some tragedy, a little fun, a generous helping of all the things in the Smorgasbord of Life.  I have this crazy theory that we all receive the same amount of each, we just get it at different times during our experience here.  Things go great for years, then fall apart.  Or, they’re great, then down, then great again, then down.  Or, life sucks at the start, but we work out of it (or at least have the opportunity to do so) and things go smoothly from there.

All that aside, between my outgoing demeanor and my life experiences, I have met a lot of people. Let me just pluck two of them out of thin air–Shellane Adams and Teena Christel.

I met Shellane years ago, when Penguin Windows needed a spokesperson for their TV commercials.  Shellane was trying her hand at some acting jobs, stood out in the auditions and next thing you know, she was the company spokesperson. Here’s one of her pieces we did for Penguin, before they were shut down.  These days, she’s a loving mom and a mortgage specialist for Homestreet Bank.

Next up is Teena Christel. Our paths had actually crossed a couple of times and the next thing you know, I directed a video for her company, MySource Consulting. Over the years, we’ve stayed in touch.  I’ve even done some other recent video work with her, like this segment, as she tries to get the word out about her company’s different way of doing things.

Two random people that have remained good friends and business associates over the years and that have absolutely no connection whatsoever. Or so I thought.

This morning, I see a picture in my Facebook feed.  It’s Teena, down in Mexico, enjoying a little sun and sitting right next to…..Shellane…..in Cabo.  Roo?

I had to ask her the questions running through my head: “What? Huh? How…? When…? Uh, explain!”

And she texted back:

“We’re neighbors. I did her loan… We realized how close we lived together… Started walking.. And the rest is friendship history! :)…… Small world, isn’t it???”

What are the friggin’ odds?

So there you have it. It really is a small world and so, to completely scar you for the rest of today, watch this.

You’re welcome.

Tim Hunter

Follow Your Dreams—And Don’t Forget The Shovel

Maybe the moles were having the same dream

Maybe the moles were having the same dream

Some friends of mine down at the Ballard Branch of Mountain Pacific Bank shared a great story, so I’m passing it along to you.

It seems there was this customer who lived nearby, who had a recurring dream.

Heck, we all dream, some remembering them better than others.  I don’t remember much of the dreams I have at night. But after I’ve gotten up at the usual 4am and it’s been a long week, sometimes I grab a half-hour cat nap to recharge.  It’s during those brief ventures into Snoozeville that I remember them the most.

Now, back to the Ballard man.  He had a recurring dream that there was a jar of money buried in his backyard.  He’d been having it for years.  Apparently, there comes a point where one says, “What the heck?”.  So, he talked a neighbor into helping and the two of them began digging.  After quite a few holes with nothing but dirt, they heard a clink, like glass being hit by a shovel. Well, that’s because it was glass being hit by a shovel.

OK, so far, everything was happening according to the dream.  The two carefully dug the jar out of the ground, lifted it up and inside: money.  Bills that had not done well during their time in the earth, but there were quite a few of them.

The man took the rotted, decrepit money down to Mountain Pacific Bank and told his story to my friends, Ozzie and Cory.  Their job was clear—work with the Federal Reserve and see if the money was still any good.

It was.  The serial numbers were legible enough and the next thing you know, the guy received a check for the amount of the rotten bills—over $1,000!  All because he listened to a dream.

Now, I have two choices: To dismiss the events as purely a matter of coincidence or to believe that one day, I will finally win the Powerball.

I’m going with number two.  Better result and less shoveling.

Tim Hunter

GIVE IT A REST, CAM

Until recently, when I thought of someone named Cam involved with football, I thought of the TV show "Modern Family."

Until recently, when I thought of someone named Cam & football, I thought of the TV show “Modern Family.”

When you think about it, the NFL season ended just in time.  After enduring 16 regular season games and several playoff games watching Cam Newton’s ego swell to beyond imagination, he was thankfully reduced to a mere human in last weekend’s Super Bowl.

Now, this comes from a Seahawks fan, where we have our own collection of rather strong egos.  But anyone who follows our team closely knows that while we occasionally get a big-time wrestling outburst or two from our players, they also turn around and show their humility and appreciation for the fans and respect for the game.  It’s not unusual to see them down on the field or in the locker room praying after a game, win or lose.  Their off-the-field involvement with charities and fans have become a league standard.

Cam, if you somehow come across this, swallow a gallon or two of pride and take a few lessons from the Seahawks.  Oh, for example, Russell Wilson, who took full responsibility for “the pass” that cost us our second Super Bowl in a row. He sat there taking every moronic question until the press was done with him.  Then, as a team leader, he organized a team retreat in Hawaii to talk about what happened and how they were going to return to greatness from there.

It is a team game.

Maybe we don’t know you as well as we should, but you’ve given us so much to judge. The cockiness, the attitude–and then suggesting that we don’t get it because we’re racists. What’s with not going after a fumble when the ball was right in front of you? Not your job?  Then you explained the fact you walked out of your post-Super Bowl interview because “anyone who’s a good loser is a loser.” Yeah, how many kids who look up to you as a hero will justify their future tantrums or show-boating because that’s what Cam does?

Sorry to break this to you, but as the leader of a very talented team, people want to look up to you. They want to raise you up, not watch you do it yourself.  And this just in—when you go into a game this cocky and have your butt handed to you, people eat that stuff up.  Win with that kind of attitude and people aren’t as happy for you and I mean a lot of people.  Did you know that for all Tom Brady has accomplished, New England is ranked the most hated team in the N.F.L.?

Unless you’ve gone to the dark side and you’d like to turn your team into the Carolina Vaders.

You have to possess a great deal of confidence in professional sports to succeed, we get that. And talent. And the perfect supporting cast. Cam, you’ve got a ton of talent and I want to believe you’re just showing your immaturity because of your age.  Then I look at my Seahawks again and see that our players are the same age.  I’ll be curious if all the antics return with you next season, or if we’ll start seeing the more mature version of Cam Newton.

Lastly, there’s this little thing called karma.  If you don’t know what that is, I have the Super Bowl on my DVR if you’d like to come over and see for yourself.

Tim Hunter

 

A Book Of Memories

It’s a scrapbook.  That’s its job.  The typical scrapbook is full of things like birthday cards that, as a kid, you thought you’d want to keep forever.  Maybe a couple of postcards, a ribbon you won, and so on.

While organizing my office, I came across this familiar-looking book:

Scrapbook

It went back to my early years, while growing up in the 1960s. It was full of all kinds of treasures–from the giant Dodger collectibles you’d get with a fill-up at your nearest Union 76 station, to postcards of the many places we went while growing up. I remember the time as a Cub Scout, we took a field trip to the racetrack, Hollywood Park.  Besides seeing the stands and where the horses resided, we also got to go out to the center area, a special lake where the Goose Lady lived.

goose lady

I was young.  I just assumed she lived there all year ’round.

I also found some old vintage pictures and postcards that our neighbors had given us.  I guess I turned into a packrat at an early age, but how can you blame me?  How could you possibly throw away an autographed picture of actual Siamese twins from 1932?

Siamese Twins

But the real prizes found in this scrapbook were autographs of sports stars from years gone by.  My dad, God bless him, worked out at United Airlines back when it was at its prime and when famous folks flew regular commercial flights, including sports teams.  Back then, there were no sky bridges to take you from the terminal to the plane.  You had to go down on the tarmac and walk up some stairs.  Between the terminal and the plane were mechanics, like my dad, who always carried some 3X5 cards with him, just in case.

That’s how I came into possession of these autographs of sports stars from my past.

Like Maury Wills of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Maury Wills

There are other Dodgers he talked into signing his 3X5 cards, including Bill Buckner and Don Sutton.

He also managed to catch the Los Angeles Lakers a few times.  The guys I watched on TV and my dad had talked with them and got their autograph.  Gail Goodrich, Jerry West–several times.  I bet after a while, Jerry probably said, “You again?”

Lakers1

But here’s the amazing part of this particular 3X5 card.  For years, I treasured it and had it attached to a scrapbook page with photo corners.  Decades after assigning it in that book,  I decided to take it out and look on the back. Lo and behold:

Lawrence Welk

Yes, the autograph of none other than the King of Champagne Music, Lawrence Welk.

Oh, and one other autograph I found in this scrapbook.

Baja Marimba

None other than Julius Wechter from the Baja Marimba Band. It was the band of choice for those who couldn’t afford Herb Alpert.  How did we get that one? It turns out Julius’ aunt did my parents’ taxes.

Aw, the memories of a scrapbook….

Tim Hunter

Remembering when “Oh Give Me A Home” was about Cowboys

ratty RV

Let’s say you own a car. A really nice car with leather interior, state-of-the-art sound system, every luxury imaginable.  It cost $145-million, but it doesn’t run.  It’s completely broken down.

What would you do?

Spend $290-million to fix it or get a new one?

Look around Seattle and you’d have a hard time convincing me that the city spends $145-million of your tax dollars in services for the homeless.  Blue tarps, encampments, ratty RV’s, panhandlers, people who you thought only lived in Pioneer Square, are now in grocery store lots and street corners close to your home.

What happened?

I’m having a hard time with this one, because it seems the more services that are offered, the less help it’s providing.  The city is great about documenting all of our information so that if we can’t pay a water bill or garbage bill—oh, yeah, you’ll hear about it.

But $145-million tax dollars are supporting the current non-working scenario.  Tuesday night, the mayor went on the city cable channel and revealed his new plan. He’d like twice that amount–$290-million—and THAT will fix the problem.

KIRO talker Dori Monson pushes the idea of the city selling the land all these tent cities being pushed on neighborhoods and build a structure, a housing facility…where counseling, job-training and addiction therapy can take place. Their afternoon team of Ron & Don are doing a fantastic job of bringing the issue to the front lines.

Besides soft-peddling milk-toast solutions to the homeless, Seattle is also going down a dangerous path of selectively enforcing laws.  Are those encampments legal or not?  Doesn’t the state, or the city or the county own that property?  Why couldn’t I go to some unused land and start up a restaurant or a business?  That would be shut down in seconds. I would be trespassing.  Yeah, the t-word.  Remember when that was illegal?

I’ve heard some suggestions about what to do. I’ll combine those with some of my own touches:

1)      Go through every homeless camp and remove those who want to be helped.  Those who stay remain do so at their own peril and will be subject to every single law on the books.  Last time I checked, illegal drugs were, well, illegal. That’s how they got their name.  Remember charges like “possession”?

2)      Bring in the National Guard and use them to go through the rougher areas.  Combine police with social agencies that can actually get these people help.  Let them all know the free ride and the lack of caring is over.

3)      Not from the area?  Came here because you heard how Seattle and various community groups coddle the homeless?  Here’s your bus ticket back home.  And a police escort to make sure you use it.

Imagine Seattle as your home.  Well, it is…but I mean, your house.  Someone you don’t know moves into that extra bedroom and things start disappearing from around the house.  Needles are found on the ground.  You’re afraid to go to that room.  How in the world do you rationalize it in your head to make that OK?

But we have, on an embarrassingly large scale.

Seattle has already spent over a billion dollars on a campaign over the past decade to solve the homelessness problem. Seriously, it was “The Campaign to End Homelessness.”  And it’s done nothing but make it worse.  Enough that Mayor Murray recently declared a state of emergency in the Emerald City.

People can be down on their luck.  For those who need the support of their community to turn things around, I’m all for it.  But to enable those who have given up and made their bad choices our problem, how does that seem fair?

Homelessness is ugly, unfortunate and affects all of us.  A real solution is needed.  I’m not the expert, I just have a pair of eyes that have witnessed a lot of expensive efforts that seem to be worsening the problem, not fixing it.

Elect leaders that bring a real solution to this problem.  Please.

Tim Hunter

 

 

 

WHICH WAY DO I GO, GEORGE, WHICH WAY DO I GO?

which_way_did_he_go1

For those not raised on Warner Brothers cartoons, let’s get you caught up to speed

Which way do I go, George….

You see, when you’re a kid and you hear that phrase a million times while watching cartoons, it becomes your default phrase when you’re not sure which direction you should head.

Each week, I like to crawl into this little corner of the Internet and express my top feeling, the thing that’s most on my mind.  Throw your phone into the washing machine and, yeah, that tends to dominate your brain. But since last week’s adventure, I’ve had the opportunity to be more aware of the rest of the world and there are just so many directions I could go, George.

So, instead of elaborating on one particular subject, I’m going to give you some fast thoughts on the headlines that have grabbed my attention:

DYING ROCK STARS–How do you ignore that?  Especially when the people in question are in the same decade as myself?  OK, I most likely wasn’t into the drug scene and wild parties as David Bowie, Glenn Frey and the drummers of all those other bands.  As I look back on that debauchery I missed out on, it probably gives me a pass to the next decade.

THE DEBATES–I keep trying to watch, make it about 10-minutes and then get depressed.  I’ve long criticized the presidential race as choosing between the lesser of the two evils, but it’s somehow gotten worse. Rather than focusing on who I’d like to vote for, I’m trying to see who I can talk myself into.

THE SEAHAWKS–That hurt. I haven’t been depressed about the loss of a game that much since the 1995 Mariners had their run end. What I take solace in is that the Seahawks will be back. They’ll look at what didn’t work this year (yeah, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to have the offensive line jump to the front), figure out who they can keep and who has to go, and they’ll give us another team that just might go all the way.

THE STOCK MARKET–Talk about your doom & gloom. I thought the economy was doing alright?  At least, that’s what we were being told. And how in the hell is gasoline heading to less than $1 a gallon bad news for our economy?  Yes, the greedy bastards that cashed in when it was almost $4 a gallon have to lose some money, but with proper planning, they could have easily stashed some money aside for this “rainy day.”   Besides, do you really think it’s going to stay that low?

By the time I click “publish” there will no doubt be another topic or two I could have tackled.  We’ll see who rises to the top next week.  But for now, you have my two-cents on what’s been going on lately.

I could have probably run with the DYING ROCK STARS topic, but I can’t even partially imagine that being anything more than a “the end is near” ramble. Glenn Frey had impact because, yes, he was there during the second 2/3’s of my life on this earth. Starting out with Pure Prairie League, his work with The Eagles and his solo efforts.

The second my sister Debbie let me know that he had passed (by the way, she caught the Eagles twice live in concert in recent years) the first place I went was the closest I ever came to Mr. Frey.  I was at Disneyland with Murdock, Hunter & Alice.  Glenn was doing a concert in the next couple of hours and was in the middle of a sound check in the Tomorrowland Plaza.  He was not happy, and was threatening not to do the concert if the sound issues continued.  I got to hear his voice, complaining. That was as close as I got.

I can say that, with the recent passing of notables and some older friends I’ve made in recent years, this little gift we have is something not to be overlooked.  If you’re not doing what you really like to do–change it. If you’re not happy, don’t just wait to be happy–BE happy.

I had a great chat with my long-time friend Bryon Mengle this past week. You can catch it on my podcast here.  That’s what I love.  Connecting with people, enjoying the times we shared and looking forward to more of the same in the future.

Like having you stop by to read this blog.  Thanks!  And see you next week.

Tim Hunter

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished–Part 2

Cell in Rice

It was a pretty lazy Saturday.  Not much planned and late in the morning, I thought I’d scoop up the sheets and pillowcases off the bed and toss ’em in the washing machine.

A while later, the washer played those familiar that notified me the load was done, so I went to toss the laundry in the dryer.  As I lifted up the damp pile from the bottom of the washing machine, I heard a clunk.  A rather loud clunk.  Like something had fallen out of the pile of soggy sheets.

It was my cellphone.

A beautiful Samsung Galaxy S6 that had only enjoyed 6 months of life outside the box. This was a first for me, but I had heard of people who dropped their phones in water, only to revive them by placing them in rice. I gave it a try.  24 hours later, I plugged it in and it appeared to be charging. It actually got up to a 26% charge but when I tried to turn it on, the words “Samsung Galaxy S6” came up on the screen…but that’s as far as it would go.  I then unplugged it and placed it back into the bag of rice.

I tried to ride it out.  Some people online said that it could take up to two weeks.  But here’s the deal: I’m an addict.  My entire life is based around the functionality of my cell phone.  My daily alarm clock was gone.  The brain that reminded me of the appointments I scatter through each week–gone.  Needless to say, I was inaccessible unless I was at home and someone called my home number, if they knew it.  When I left home, I was away from email until I returned.

Now, all of this disconnection isn’t bad unless you’re running a business and you need to stay in touch. So, I started thinking of ways to improvise.  I realized that I had a Samsung tablet that I wasn’t really using and it was like a big cell phone, it just couldn’t make calls.  But it would allow me to check email, set the alarm and wake up to the same sound I normally do, etc.  I could survive for a while.

I checked the phone again.  Same results.

It was now day 2 without a phone and I couldn’t stand it. I went to three difference T-Mobile stores.  Two of them told me to just go through the insurance, pay the $175 deductible and get on with my life.  The third store said, “Oh, it’ll take four days to get it back.  For $250, we’ll give you the phone now.”

That’s when my Scottish heritage kicked in and saving $75 was worth waiting a couple of days for a new phone.  However, I filled out the insurance claim on Monday and got my new phone on Tuesday!  For only $175! OK, now this is working.

So, once again, I’m plugged back into Cell Phone Society.  I will say that because my address book was on the phone and NOT on my Sim card, I lost everything in my address book. It would help greatly if you would text me a note and let me know who you are, give me your email address and other vital information so I can add you back in.

In summary, here’s what I learned or had affirmed:

  • Insure your cell phone.
  • The phone insurance people understand your needs and will get you your new phone pronto.
  • While multi-tasking is productive, sometimes you just need to slow down and focus on one thing at a time.
  • Your Smartphone probably won’t survive a 50-minute wash in hot water.
  • Stick with your local phone store. Go to someone who recognizes your face, not someone looking to up-sell you.
  • You may have to buy a higher-capacity Sim card, but it will be so worth it if something happens to that phone.

This was my first and hopefully last such experience of “losing” a cell phone. We’ve allowed these devices into our lives and now, they’re a part of them.  If nothing else, I must look at the positive things that came out of all this. Like, for example, I was unable to take a selfie for almost 72 hours.

It’s the little things.

Tim Hunter

 

 

 

The Reason He’s A Rock Legend

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It’s come to my attention that there are people living on this planet who heard about the death of Pop Star David Bowie and said, “Who?”

To save you the time Googling his name, David Bowie was this introvert who evolved into a Pop Music Icon.  He was out there, but just inside the line to capture mass appeal.  During the many post-passing salutes, I heard the story of how he got his name. He was trying to crack into the music biz, when all of a sudden, another guy with the name of Davey Jones was making it big with a manufactured-for-TV group called “The Monkees.”  So, David changed his name….but before that could stick, another guy named Tom Jones had his first hit.  What was next?  David Bowie.  I think because people struggled with whether to say “Boowie” or Bowie”, that no one else stole that one and he finally had a name of his own.

While most probably just dust off Bowie’s passing as “time marches on” or “yeah, well, he was a partying kind of guy”, it’s more importantly a reminder–especially for 60-year-old me–that we need to appreciate the time we’ve got here.  Bowie passed away from liver cancer just two days after his 69th birthday and the day he released his 26th album, “Dark Star.”

For me, you don’t have to be Einstein to see the Dark Star connection, or where he was going with one of the songs on his final album, “Lazarus.”  David was given an 18-months heads up to make every day count and he did. He recorded one more album and posed for a professional photographer.  Even some of his last photos on earth were of him smiling, enjoying life.

Bowie’s music was always there.  It was a soundtrack.  In the 1960s, the 70s, the 80 and so on, five of the six decades of my life contained music from David Bowie. I remember driving up from California to Washington State for college and hearing “Young Americans” on the “Best of Bowie” cassette in my car. While I enjoyed the pop tunes in his early days, I locked into him when he was deep into doing albums that he created for music’s sake, not mass consumption. That’s where I found Heroes.

We’re all born, we all live, we all die.  Hopefully, we focus on the middle part, as David Bowie did so well.  I heard an interview the day after he passed with Carlos Alomar, who played guitar on most of his albums.  Carlos was talking about how Bowie would arrange to go in and record an album…but with the idea they’d make it up once they got there.  No plans, just a few thoughts going in–and the magic would happen in the studio.

And magic occurred.  26 times.

We just left the Christmas season, but I’m already looking forward to the first time I can watch that video of David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing “Little Drummer Boy” to get me in the holiday spirit.  My guess is that’s a number one request item up there these days.

I just want to say ‘thanks’ for everything you gave while you could, Mr. Bowie.  Music is such a wonderful invention. How many other things can you create–and they never go away?

I’m glad for that.

Tim Hunter

 

 

 

And There He Goes….

The Kid back when he was a kid

The Kid back when he was a kid

As many expected, Ken Griffey, Jr. joined baseball’s Hall of Fame this week with the most amount of votes any player has ever seen.  437 out of 440 votes. That’s a high-water mark of all time–99.3% of the votes. For all of his accomplishments, you’ve gotta admire how much he achieved while under the pressure of such high expectations.

As with so many great stories, this one starts in the beginning.

Heading into their 10th season of existence, the Seattle Mariners found themselves naturally in the position of having baseball’s number one draft pick in the 1987 draft.  They grabbed Ken Griffey, Jr.–the son of Big Red Machine legend Ken Griffey, Sr.–two days before he was to graduate from high school.  A week later, he was taking batting practice with the Mariners and the following week, it was off to Bellingham to play for their single-A farm club.  On June 16th, he played his first minor league game for the Baby M’s and batted 0-4.

However, the next night, I joined thousands of people up at Everett’s Memorial Stadium to get a first look at “the Kid” when Bellingham traveled to Everett to play the San Francisco farm club, the Giants.  In his first at-bat, he knocked it out of the park.

That’s one of the two stories that pop up into my mind when I think of Ken Griffey, Jr.. The other is the fact that I used him often in talking with my kids about trying your best. They may have blocked it out after all these years, but I remember telling them, “How do you think Ken Griffey, Jr. makes those amazing catches?  Great things will never happen unless you try your best.”

And Junior gave us his absolute best.  The prime of his career was right here in little old Seattle.  He’ll be the first player to go into baseball’s Hall of Fame wearing a Mariners cap. We got to see him play in the outfield with his dad.  That was cool.  Griffey was also the center of Seattle’s greatest season of baseball ever.  It didn’t end up with a World Series ring, but anyone who was in town in 1995 will never forget that incredible playoff run.

Baseball seasons come and go. Spring rolls around and everybody’s team plans to make this “THE season.”  That’s part of the heritage and history of the game.  As a kid in Los Angeles, where it seemed like the Dodgers were in the World Series ever other year, I grew up at a time when teachers brought TV’s into the classroom so that we could watch the World Series and when an entire city found itself buzzing about baseball. While it seems like a million years ago, the magical 1995 season was among the best rides in sports I ever experienced.  Thanks, Mr. Griffey, Jr., for making that happen.

And welcome to Cooperstown!

Tim Hunter

P.S.  For those who’d like to relive that 1995 run

 

 

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Maybe I should have gone with the ham?

Maybe I should have gone with the ham?

“No good deed goes unpunished.” My old broadcast partner used to slip in that phrase every now and then.  The other day, I lived it.

To begin, I love the holiday season and, as they go, this was one of the better ones.  Very little drama or conflict, lots of fun and merry-making, the kind of holiday season you’d imagine should be standard equipment.

So, when we were out running errands the day after Christmas, I found myself moved. Appreciative. We walked into a grocery store and a scruffy-looking kid (somewhere in his 20s, I suppose) blurted out, “Got any change?”   We kept walking and I replied, “No thank you.”   I like doing that. It confuses them.

But while in the store, I got to thinking how great this Christmas had been.  Not so much about the things that go with it, but the experiences.  Seeing the kids, the grand-kids, spending time with friends.  So, it just seemed like it would be a perfect gesture to buy that guy standing outside the store a sandwich.  One I would love to get, but it possibly could be the most decent food he would see all day.  I went with a turkey and Havarti on a whole grain roll, purchased it at the check stand and headed out the door.

The guy was still there.  I handed him the sandwich, said, “Here you go. Enjoy!”  He slipped the sandwich inside his shirt and without missing a beat said, “Got a buck?”  As I walked away, I told him, “I just gave you a sandwich.”  As I continued to walk away, he let me have it: “F-bomb this, something, something, something, asshole.”

I wanted to turn around and remind him of what a loser he was, how ungrateful he was, that he was nothing but a big leach on society and….

Well, no matter. Victoria and I theorize that he was probably on drugs, just looking for that next fix.  Confronting him could have been dangerous and probably wouldn’t have done any good anyway.  Sigh.

Now, my Christmas buzz had been extremely harshed. For the next hour, no matter what topic we discussed, I would cap it off with “Or I could give them a sandwich.”

I’ve long said that the people outside the stores, by the freeway on-ramps, in the homeless encampments need real help. Serious help. When I hear of all the effort being put into providing meals or sandwiches for them, I admire the compassion, but it’s not helping them get out of their situation.

I don’t have the golden solution, but I do know that help comes to those who help themselves. Because of that little encounter outside of a grocery store, I’ve been cured for a while.  The next time I even think about buying a sandwich for a homeless person, I’ll remember that moment.  I’ll then fight off the tendency to do something nice and do what we all normally do–just look the other way.

Too bad.

“No good deed goes unpunished.”  Truer words were never spoken. If Bruce was closer, I’d take him a sandwich.

Happy New Year!

Tim Hunter

My Own Musical Christmas Miracle

I’m a busy guy. I like it that way. I like to constantly be doing, creating, experiencing.  It’s in my DNA.

The results–I get to do an incredible variety of fun things. For over a year now, I’ve been working the way I thought might be possible, but things are actually going better than I could have ever dreamed.

There’s my own deal, Tim Hunter Creative Services, where I get to connect with friends & business associates I’ve known for years and actually help them with their marketing.  I’ve had a blast working with Opus 111 Group, Pacific Fishermen, Mountain Pacific Bank, Scandinavian Specialties, AAA Fire, the city of Bothell, even the iDrink Phone flask and so many others this year.

Now, add to that, being the Chief Creative Officer for Create Impulse and working with clients like Jack Carroll’s Skagit Hyundai, Sole Perfection Shoes, Bellevue Christian School, Enginuity Jobs and more, and that’s a full plate.

Toss in being an auctioneer, emcee, podcaster, comedy writer and Radio-Online show prep writer, and life is just wonderfully busy.

But when the holiday season rolls around, there are more things I’d like to wedge in.  One of them, self-imposed, is creating a Christmas-themed music video.

Several years ago, I met a singer named Alana Baxter.  I heard her sing and thought, “Hmmm…I wonder if we could….?” and the next thing you know, we did our first video project together, “It’s Silent Night.”  I took a Katy Perry song, rewrote the words, had her record it and then, we went out and shot video on my little Flip video camera.  It was so much fun, it launched a new tradition.

The following year, we let Katy Perry warm up the crowd for us again and did “He rides a sleigh.”  Then, in 2013, I decided to go for an original tune, found a music bed I could write words to and the result was the fairly sarcastic, “I won’t hate you very much tonight (it’s Christmas)”.

Then, last year, the stars just wouldn’t align.  I was in the early stages of my career transition and Alana had headed off to the Arizona desert to go back to school. She wouldn’t return until just before Christmas and I didn’t want to spend Christmas Eve madly editing a video. That kind of defeats the purpose.

So, here comes Christmas 2015.  In late November, I went down a couple of different paths and tried writing some lyrics, but nothing really click-click-clicked.  Then, while working on my annual Christmas CD and reviewing songs, I came across Faith Hill’s “Where are you Christmas?”, a song I had used on a previous Ho Ho Brother CD.  That was at the same time the whole Starbucks debacle began, where they went to a plain red cup and people were upset that the Christmas touches had been removed.  The two seemed to go together, so I began writing and the lyrics just flowed.

Now, I have a song, but also a singer in Arizona that won’t be home until right before Christmas again.  Hmmm…what if I could get her to record it down there?  It was time to call in favors, work out schedules and see if we could pull this off.

I reached out to Tucson morning guy, Bobby Rich.  Bobby’s a Facebook connection, but we’ve never even met in person before.  Back in the 1990s, we were competitors for a while, when he was part of the Rich Brothers over at Magic 108 or I-107, or whatever it was at the time.  We knew of each other, being brothers in radio, but that was about it.

I sent him a message and he said he would love to help.  Now, to figure out when to get Alana in to the studio.  The radio guys were on the air until 9, and out of the building by noon, so Alana would have to come in the morning. Drat. She had classes every morning of the week.  It didn’t look good.

Then Alana found out about a Tuesday where she wouldn’t have class.  One day, one chance.  I checked with Bobby and they made it happen. Alana went into the studio and in two takes, nailed it.  Thanks, Greg, who manned the production room and was so kind to Alana.

Now I’ve got a song–but what about the video part?  Alana was not scheduled to come back until the week before Christmas. That would be tight. Then, her mother’s medical procedure had to be moved up. Alana got special permission to be gone finals week, came home two days before the procedure and in two hours after a Seahawks game, we shot all of our scenes.  I supplemented it with other video I shot around town and a week before Christmas, the video was done.

I hope you enjoy “Where are you Christmas?” featuring Alana Baxter and a host of miracle-workers behind the scene.

Merry Christmas to all!

Tim Hunter

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The Christmas That Finally Happened

Our first Christmas together

Our first Christmas together, 60 years ago

Well, here it is.  And here it flies by.  My first Christmas without dad.

You always know this year would come. Some day.  I always wondered when that time finally came, how would I deal with it?  What do other people do?

First, I’ve always been an internalizer.  Maybe it’s all those years of radio where you walk in, you’re on the air, and it doesn’t matter what’s going on in your personal life, you’re always having the greatest day of your life.  No one wants to listen to a complaining, unhappy morning guy.

Secondly, I always tend to think, and usually over-think things. Dad passed back in early August, just three weeks shy of his 92nd birthday.  That month seemed like a blur. Surreal. I’d find myself getting all teary-eyed in random moments.  Going through the grieving process in my own way.

Now, here we are, 4 months later, during my most favorite time of year.  After thinking and internalizing my brains out, I’m just going to share what I came up with.

Yes, dad is gone.  But he gave me years and years of memories, great memories, fun memories.  It would be a shame to toss those all aside so I could sit around and be sad and self-pitying while the world around me celebrates.  Funny how your brain works.  Part of me thinks, “Well, if you’re not sad, then you’re a callous person or you didn’t really care.”  So far from the truth.

One way I like to try to get a handle on things is to switch people around.  How would it be if I were the one gone and everyone else was still here?  I sure wouldn’t want to be the reason for ruining anyone’s holiday season.  It made me realize that there was so much good to celebrate that dwelling on the end of a person’s life is, well, pointless.

It’s up to us how we feel.  Want to be sad? Sure, that’s easy. Or, focus on what that person gave you, the mannerisms you have because them, the catch phrases they wore out, the stories tucked away in that brain of yours.  Take that perspective for a test-drive and you just might find a happier way to get through the holidays.

“Get through”…like it’s a struggle going to parties, decorating, singing carols, exchanging gifts. I do everything I can to make sure this season doesn’t get away from me and despite my best efforts this year, I still have everything done…but it’s just going by way too fast.

So, I take a deep breath and reflect on those holidays gone by.  The years I woke up to a brand-new bike or a train set that dad had put on a giant sheet of plywood, painted it green with a blue painted like in the middle of it.  My first watch.  The smells coming out of mom’s kitchen when she went on a cookie-baking binge, resulting in cocoanut balls, peanut butter rolls and chow Mein noodle cookies. An Operation game.  Stockings hung on the chimney that said Brother or Sister on the side.  Going over to Grandma’s house to see their short aluminum artificial tree with the rotating multi-colored lights.

Then, when I became a parent, driving home late one Christmas Eve, seeing a plane fly in the distance and telling the kids, “Hey, look at that!  It’s Santa’s sleigh!  You can even see Rudolph’s nose flashing!  We better get home and get to bed!”  Reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to my kids and now, reading it to my grandkids, either in person or on Skype.

Dad was a pretty easy-going guy.  He was all about getting along.  This year, it would be easy to focus on the fact that he’s not here.  But he is, in every way I think and everything I do. I haven’t been back home in Torrance for Christmas Day in decades, but it was always nice to hear him on the phone.  I guess that’s the part that will be missing this year.  But the rest will all be there. I’ve made it to another Christmas season and I’m going to make every minute of it count.

Dad would want it that way.  Merry Christmas to all.

Tim Hunter

 

Person of the Year

Big enough for a generous shot of Aquavit

Big enough for a generous shot of Aquavit

I’m going to take advantage of this space on the Internet to brag a little.  The same week Time Magazine selected the president of Germany as their person of the year, the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce chose the person they wanted to honor for 2015–my wife, Victoria.

We gathered last Friday at the Seattle Golf Club. It’s always amazingly beautiful and decorated so nicely for the holidays.  When you walk in the door, you immediately feel like you could be arrested for trespassing.  I’ve never been the ‘club’ type, but once each year, around 150 of the people I know from the Norwegian Community gather for a spirited kickoff to the holiday season.

And for the fourth year in a row, I had the privilege of emceeing the event.

What that did was give me a great excuse to get-together with the club’s president, Drew Gardner, to not only discuss what I was planning to do…but also, so that he could pick my brain about what he was going to say about Victoria when presenting the award.

Victoria, being on the board, was in on the discussions about who this year’s recipient would be. But the entire board was in on this surprise.  They played along, trying not to give any looks that would be suspicious at their meetings and everything just fell into place.

I assisted Drew in crafting his announcement. You see, you want to make it sound like it could be the person she thought it would be, so we threw things that could have described most of the people in the room.  Has been to Norway a lot, has relatives there, played the guitar, went to school in Norway…..and then, Drew said the word, “she.”  In Victoria’s mind, it was supposed to be a “he.”  Something was up. You can see the magic moment for yourself in this video.

If anyone would know how busy she is, it would be me.  I see her come, I see her go.  And while she does it out of passion and a sense of duty for her heritage, it’s nice to see her recognized by her peers.

Kudos, oh love of my life and congrats.

Tim Hunter

This Is My Kickoff Weekend

When does the Christmas season officially start for you?

For some, they don’t even mention the “C” word until we get to this side of Thanksgiving. Others, begin transitioning their homes and the music they listen to in November, gradually easing into the season.  That’s the route I’ve chosen to go.  I started listening to Christmas music in early November, put up the outside lights the second weekend and basically was all set to take off running the day after Thanksgiving.  For those who have a hard time thinking that way, you’re doing it already.  You’re a Seahawks fan.  They play Sunday.  You’re a Husky or Cougar fan.  They play Saturday.  You don’t hold off on being excited about the Seahawks game until after the college teams are done.  You’re excited about both.  That’s how I treat Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It gives you more holiday bang for your buck.

If there’s even a remote chance I’m not in the holiday spirit, by the end of the first week of December, I’m there.  It’s always a 3-day Christmas kick in the butt, with great reminders of how much fun this time of year can be.  Here’s what I have coming up this weekend:

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“Julebord”  I had never heard of Julebord  (pronounced yoola-bord) until I met my wife, Victoria.  It’s a formal Christmas meal, served at lunch time, in the elegantly decorated Seattle Golf Club, just up the road from our house.  I joke that it’s the only day of the year that they’d let me into the place.  A nutshell description:  you arrive, enjoy a glass or two of champagne and then head upstairs for a lunch that looks like a dinner of roast pork and all the trimmings, non-stop wine, beer and Aquavit (a Norwegian licorice-flavored liquor). There are musical performances (my brother-in-law, Kris, Victoria’s brother, is one of the traditions), plus the crowd is led in some Christmas songs.  The first four years, I attended as a guest.  This year will be my fourth as their emcee.  I’m really excited for this year’s monologue that I do at the beginning to kick things off.   Hope to share some highlights with you next week.

“The Arrival of Santa Claus at Country Village”  This funny little tradition started at least a dozen years ago. I show up shortly before 6pm, put on a Dickens-style “town crier” outfit and run around ringing a bell, saying things like “Hear ye! Hear ye! Santa Claus is coming!!”.  Then, at 7 o’clock, as a choir sings on the stage, Santa arrives, lights the Country Village Christmas Tree and hands out candy canes until the last child present gets one.  Special note–right across the street from Country Village is the annual Lutefisk Dinner at the Bothell Sons of Norway lodge.  Every year, a sell-out. I’d go but, yeah, well, I’m busy…..

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“Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle Holiday Concert” The third installment of my holiday trifecta is held every first Sunday of December, at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Ballard, beginning at 3pm.  (Our Redeemer’s is where Victoria & I were married and we’re members there)  Besides the ladies’ music, this year they’ve invited Joe Carolus as their special musical guest.  Joe is not only a great guy, but one of the most talented pianists you’ve ever heard. A $12 donation is requested and there’s a fantastic dessert buffet following the concert.

How can you not break into the Christmas feeling after that 3-day holiday boot camp?

Well, if you’re still having trouble, try out my 2015 HO HO BROTHER Christmas CD.  Just finished it this week.

Yes, it IS Kickoff Week for Christmas.

The best of the season to you and yours,

Tim Hunter

WHY I’M NOT A DETECTIVE

Yeah, the hat just doesn't look good on me

Yeah, the hat just doesn’t look good on me

My wife, Victoria, and I have our weekly TV shows.  It’s a nice collection, most of which there are mysteries to be solved, or we’re watching for clues to see if the good guys are really bad guys.

All this to say, while watching “Gotham” or “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, “Blindspot” or “The Blacklist”, we often start talking out loud about our suspects and theories, vying for the honor of Top Living Room Detective.

The other night, we were watching “Elementary.”  It fulfills the need until Benedict Cumberbatch gets his butt in gear and cranks out a new season.  In this episode, someone was killing people.  (Yes, that’s true in most of the episodes)  Anyway, a policeman was murdered and it was plain as day to me.  It had to be his partner, I explained, because she was acting too relaxed when they interrogated her.  You know, it could have been….

And before I could even get out my entire theory, she was the next victim.  I’m serious, I was mid-sentence in my wrap-up and there she was, on the floor, dead.

Moments later, Victoria pointed out who the killer probably was and half-an-hour later, she was proven right.

Then again, so was I. There was a really good  reason why I didn’t become a detective.  Good call on my part.

Tim Hunter

I HAVE A THEORY…

The issue of homelessness has risen to an insane level in the Seattle area.  Seriously, since the time I arrived here back in the 1970s, it’s gone from those small groups gathered down at Pioneer Square, to countless numbers squatting on any piece of land they can find to call home.  We’re number 4 nationally, with only Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas having more people living in the streets than we do.

The homeless have always existed. Whether it’s from a streak of bad decisions, an unfortunate series of events, a downward spiral in the economy, alcohol or drug abuse or mental illness, you can go back over time and they’ve always been there.  They were bums, freeloaders or hoboes and they were an accepted part of our society, those not very visible.  They were a footnote, not a force. I even came across this picture of my cousin wearing her Halloween costume years ago, dressed up like “a hobo.”

Back in 1963, it was OK to be a hobo for Halloween

Back in 1963, it was OK to be a hobo for Halloween

So, what’s the deal with the increasing numbers of homeless people?  There are no blanket answers, or quick fixes. In my on-going pursuit of finding out what’s working and what isn’t, I discovered Hopelink. Yes, it provides food and essentials to those in need, but does it in a nurturing environment, helping thousands of homeless people and families get back on their feet.  They aren’t a spigot that turns on to give out the goods and then says, “See you next time!”  They help, train, feed and inspire those down on their luck to get back up and rejoin society.

But again, how did we get here?  Where driving down I-5 looks like a Boy Scout jamboree, with tents pitched everywhere.  Where so many people just give up or assume that it’s their lot in life to spend their days outdoors, begging for money. I have this theory.

I’m old enough to remember a time when there was authority. Where there were rules.  Not all of them fair, not all of them in our greater interest, but they maintained order.  As students of the 1960s know, the rules began to break down.  We stopped taking government’s word for it.  We questioned wars.  We saw society rules and started asking “Why?”  All good.

But then, it became a passion.  Nothing was right, rules were meant to be broken.  It was the evolution of society, but also a beginning of a break down.  Because one of the underlying themes became fairness.  Yes, that’s a law, but that’s not fair.  Everyone needs to be treated fairly. Harshness is bad, generic all-acceptance is good.  A lofty goal, in principal. but not always practical.

All that being said, here’s my theory–the current abundance of homelessness is our own fault.  We’ve bent over backwards to coddle and protect and keep everything fair so much, that in the end, these people head out into the adult world (which isn’t always fair) and get knocked down the first time mom and dad aren’t there to take care of a problem for them.

There are as many styles of parenting as there are parents, but my way was to be as close to my kids as possible during those formative years, and then, when it’s time to let go, let ’em fly away from the nest.  I’m very proud and at peace knowing that, if I dropped dead tomorrow, both my kids (hopefully after some extended periods of grieving) would easily be able to carry on with their lives.  They’re both independent adults that can stand up for themselves.  It’s exciting to watch their lives evolve, as they carve their own path through this life.

There was no single defining moment where homelessness became OK, but there’s a belief that we need to accept it.  I refuse. To me, it’s not an acceptable lifestyle. At one point, they all had dreams and aspirations and goals.  They’re fellow human beings that deserve our compassion, help and guidance on how to become citizens again.  Pity doesn’t solve anything and standing next to a freeway exit with a cardboard sign is not a career.

Seattle, which just asked the federal government for additional help in dealing with the homeless, already spends $25-million a year on them. As of last January, we had 3,772 people living on the streets in Seattle.  Divide that money up and that’s almost $7,000 per person in spending.  Are you saying that we can’t help someone improve their lives with $7,000?

King County actually began a program to help the homeless and reduce the numbers 10 years ago…and instead, the numbers have increased.

There is a solution, somewhere out there.  Perhaps it’s all of the private entities working on the problem partnering with government to combine resources and efforts.  Maybe it’s a commission led by a Homeless Czar that oversees it, constantly checking to see that whatever direction we go, it’s working.

These people need our help and this is a serious problem that’s worsening and just won’t go away.  Not even if you give each of them a trophy.

Tim Hunter

Freddy

I’m pretty sure Red Skelton would be labeled

“insensitive” for this today

I GOT IT, SO I’M SHARING IT

Warning: contents inside may have shifted

Warning: contents inside may have shifted

You know I was only kidding.

Seriously, when September 20th of this year rolled around and I hit the big 6-0, I brushed off the landmark birthday by saying, “OK, this is where I start falling apart.”

And I did.  In spite of the fact Christina & her family, as well as Tyson and his sig-other joined us at the house that day, I got sick. I mean, the worst kind of sick I’ve been in years.  I had to cancel everything the following week and didn’t even feel remotely human again until Friday night, 5-1/2 days after being ill.  Fortunately, no one else caught it.

There was a lot of wrong about this.  I never (or use to rarely) get sick.  First, I had an almost week-long flu bug.   Then, for several weeks, the intestines were in rebellion.  I was bloated.  It was just the weirdest thing.

But I carried on.  Got lots to do, so I did it…until a week ago when one of my daily bouts with nausea turned into lay-down-on-the-couch dizziness.  So, I called the doctor, went in for an appointment, but left supposing it was a really bad flu. They did some blood work and then I went home and played “Collect the stool sample.”

I share all this because it’s entirely possible that the resulting explanation could also happen to you.

It was a two-parter.  The “flu” turned out to be something I picked up called Giardia. I thought it was the name of an airport in New York, but no–it’s a parasite.  A what?  Yep, a very common parasite that I had never heard of before.  Among the things I learned about Giardia is that it is ugly.

What Giardia looks like (from it's recent session at he JC Penney photo studio)

                         What Giardia looks like                        (from a recent session at the  JC Penney Photo Studio)

How does one get Giardia?  It’s the reason you don’t drink water out in the woods without boiling it.  I’m thinking, “Oh, yeah, that’s me! Mr. Outdoors.”  I eventually figured out the source.  During a recent rainstorm, our backyard rain barrel was clogged and overflowing, so I had to get out there and bail, stagnant water splashed everywhere and the rest is history.  Nothing that five day’s worth of an antibiotic once tested in the Atoll Islands couldn’t fix.  Seriously, when I picked it up from the pharmacist, she said: “Whatever you do, don’t take this within 24 hours of drinking alcohol and then, once you’ve finished the pills, wait 72 hours before having a drink….or…….”  Right after that, she closed the doors and went home out a secret back entrance.

OK, that takes care of the intestinal issues, but what about my dizziness.  Even after the antibiotics did their job, I was still not feeling great.  You know the feeling you get after your big brother spins you around on that thing at the playground, you yell “Stop” and he keeps spinning.  Dizzy, nauseated, yep—that.  On my initial visit to the doctor, he asked if I had hit my head recently. “Nope, not me.”  Then later, I realized something.

On October 16th, I filmed a video for the city of Bothell, with the punchline being a bunch of football players tackling me.  With one on each side, they would grab me and slam me to a foam mat that was stationed right behind me.  Sure, no problem.  Never show any signs of weakness. I’m not too old.  So, we did it once…and then again….and then again…..

By the time I was done filming, I was a bit woozy, but didn’t give it a second thought.  The long and short of it—I didn’t hit my head on anything, but my head did get pretty seriously jostled. Three times!  You got it–I had a mild concussion. concussion-word-art4

I’m still not back yet, but the wooziness is lessening each day.  The doc says within a couple of weeks, I should be back to normal. Well, OK, normal-esque. You know what I mean.

So, let us review our lessons:  Don’t drink water out of rain barrels and avoid being tackled by football players.

Class dismissed.

Tim Hunter

6 Decades Worth of Halloween Memories

Puttin' on the Aladdin with Dad

Puttin’ on the Aladdin with Dad

This Saturday is Halloween, the last holiday with enough force to fight off Christmas.  Oh, sure, the stores have already started pulling the Halloween decorations and confining them to an area that will be 50% off territory come Sunday.  But unlike the other pre-Christmas holidays like Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, it’s become OK to hang up Christmas lights as soon as you’ve removed the rotting pumpkin from your front porch.

I come from a different time than today’s trick or treaters.  Charlie Brown’s “Great Pumpkin” adventure was brand-new when I was growing up.  Costumes were onesies with a plastic mask you could not see out of or breathe through.  But that was the price you paid for going around the block and asking the neighbors for some candy.

Looking back, I actually had really good timing when it came to this holiday.  “Back in my day” (I try to avoid using that term along with “Get off of my lawn”) there were no Bite Size candy bars.  You got candy bars. Or popcorn balls. Or full-size Sugar Daddy suckers.

It was when I reached that age of “Oh, this probably should be the last year” that the weirdo’s started happening.  People putting broken glass in with boxes of raisins or razor blades in apples.  What kind of freak does that kind of stuff?  It began the rapid decline of the holiday from a more innocent time, to safe trick or treating at the malls or taking your bag to the hospital for a free x-ray.

For a while when I lived in the Highlands neighborhood of Bothell, I was encouraged by how the neighbors and the area really got into Halloween. Seriously, it was a 6 Costco bag event, with kids from all over coming through, looking at our decorated houses and running around laughing and having an old-fashioned good-old time.

This Saturday, we’ll hear the door bell around a dozen times, end up with more candy than we want to have in the house at one time, which will find its way to my wife’s work.  I’ll answer the door with the fake knife sticking out of my head and watch in amazement as the littles ones look up and can’t believe what they see.  Sadly, it looks like most of them should dress up as Navy Seals, with a gully-washer of rain projected for the day, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed.  Halloween is a pretty special night if you look in the right places

One of these years, I just might go join Linus in the pumpkin patch and watch for the Great Pumpkin.  But of course, only if he finds a really sincere one.

Last time to enjoy a holiday before Christmas. Make Halloween count!

Tim Haunter

FRIENDS

Yeah, don't ask

                   Yeah, don’t ask…..

We’re watching the show “Gotham: Rise of the Villains” each week on FOX and, if you’re into the Marvel Comic book thing, it’s a fun, long-winded explanation of how Gotham got to the point that Batman had to step in and fight crime.  The series started and continues to be set at the time when Bruce Wayne is around the age of 12 or so.  What we’re gradually seeing each week is how Penguin became Penguin, Cat Woman became Cat Woman, etc.

The show is cast perfectly and the writing is crisp.

The other night, one of the weirder characters said something profound that really connected with me. Words to the effect of, “When you don’t have a lot of friends, it makes the ones you have more valuable.”  That got me to thinking about the various levels of friends that we have in this life.  While the word ‘friends’ is used a lot, we each have different types of friends…or, at least, I do.

I’ve always liked getting along with people.  It just seems like an easier way to live and probably is just one of the things I inherited from my dad, the original Mr. Nice Guy.  There are those who bring their problems to work, or take things out on anyone that’s available, only to later apologize or not.  There are jerks, drama queens, all around messes, bullies–you name it. Somehow, my M.O. is to befriend people, resulting in less conflict.  I’m not a conflict guy.  And, besides, like I said, when you get along, life is easier.

So, what are friends?  We throw the word around and say “Facebook Friends” but hey–I have over 1,000 Facebook Friends, that include family members from my wife and kids all the way to a friend of a friend who was told, “Hey, you oughta friend this guy and see what he posts.”

I have work friends. Neighbors who are friendly and we chat, but don’t spend a lot of time together.  I have social friends that I see based on what events we’re doing.

But if I were to drill down to the handful of people that, to me, epitomize the idea of friends, a couple of folks come to mind.  Sure, this is dangerous because, if you’re not on the list, then you might be tempted to think, “Wow, I thought we were friends!”  See, real friends never think that way.  They don’t constantly keep score about who called who or even think something negative about the other person.  Some people I know have very dysfunctional friendships that they cherish very much, but those kind of relationships don’t fit my definition and simply are more work than they’re worth.

One friend that comes to mind–Steve Diklich. A former college roommate, we share some great adventures in the Terry Hall days at the University of Washington and have stayed friends ever since.  We may see each other only two or three times a year, if that.  Steve and I actually went to the Oregon game together last weekend and got all caught up on our personal lives. I can’t tell you when the last time was that we saw each other.  That might have been it for the year, I’m not sure.  But see, it just doesn’t matter when you’re friends.  You cherish your time together, act like it was just five minutes ago that you last saw each other and then leave, looking forward to the next time.

Bryon Mengle was our producer during the final two years of the Murdock, Hunter & Alice show. He came to us with a rolodex full of contacts and a willingness to do whatever it took for good radio.  I’ve watched him grow professionally over the years, seen him get married (I was his best man) and enjoyed staying in touch with him as Bryon, Shawna and their two kids go through their adventures together. These days, most of our connection is through Facebook, instant messages or email. He still asks for my opinion on things or if I might have any crazy ideas for a radio promotion, but again, we just pick up where ever we last left off.  With doing mornings back in Iowa these days, I think it’s been a couple of years since we caught the Mengles passing through town.

Heading down this road, I’m thinking of more people I would consider really good friends.  Some I’ve seen recently, others not for years, maybe even decades.  It doesn’t make them any less friends.

Good friends don’t judge, they care about what happens to you and can’t wait to tell you what happened to them.

The quote that always pops in my mind when the subject comes up: “Friends help you move. A real friend helps you move bodies.”

Yeah, well, I made it that far before going funny on you.

Are you considered one of my friends?  You know the answer to that one and that makes me look forward to the next time we get together, whenever that may be.

Tim Hunter

A Haunter We Will Go

Oh, sure, blame the ants.  What about the uncles?

Oh, sure, blame the ants.
What about the uncles?

I’ve shared with you before that fall is my favorite season of the year—playoff baseball, college & pro football, the leaves changing colors, storms rolling in and you have such great holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Think about it–you don’t have to buy presents for either one of those.  One is dedicated to reliving your youth and dressing up, while the other is all about eating (and football).

When I have nothing else to do, I grab those moments to reflect on how the heck I got here.  So, how did I become such a Halloween fan? Why do I love The Walking Dead so much and watch practically every scary movie that comes along?  The answer lies in my youth.  As the years roll by, those early years of my life get a little hazier and hazier.  But one of the fun things I remember doing every Friday night (when I was 10 or so and could stay up a little later) was watching channel 9, KHJ-TV, which offered “Strange Tales of Science Fiction.”  It’s where the old B-movies went to die.  Each week, it would begin with this theme song and then I would brace myself to get scared out of my wits.

Many of the movies you’ve probably never heard of, but that didn’t stop me from buying them here and there over the years if I ever found them.  Movies like, “The Crawling Eye.”  Yes, a movie about a giant eyeball that crawled around and killed people. Thankfully, Forrest Tucker was there to save the day.  There was “Man from Planet-X”, where a real spaceman landed on earth. I must have liked it because the alien decided to land on an island in Scotland.  Oh, and I can’t forget “Them!”, the movie about the giant ants and starring Edmund Gwenn, the same guy you knew as Santa Claus in “Miracle on 34th Street.”

The list goes on and on: “Frankenstein’s Daughter“, “Forbidden Planet”, etc.

As I grew older, I continued to be drawn towards scary movies.  But they tended to lose me a little when they went into the slash and gore phase.  Even if you watch “Psycho”, there’s really not that much slashing and goring, but it’s probably amongst the greatest scary movies of all time.

Hats off to films like “The Shining”, “Poltergeist” and even “The Blair Witch Project” for being more about the scare than gallons of fake blood.  It is an art.

I’m a fan of the classics–Dracula, Wolfman, The Mummy, Frankenstein–but I’d love to a new genre launch that is simply about scaring the heck out of you.  In the meantime, I’m going to sit back, savor the season and do my best to have some of that Halloween candy left for the Trick or Treaters.

Have a happy one.

Tim Haunter

As Good A Time As Any To Say “Thanks”

Immediately after the Oregon shootings last week, I wanted to sit down and write about it.

After all, as President Obama said, this has become way too routine in the U.S.A..  Crazy person gets a handful of guns, walks into a school, a movie theater, you name it and starts firing.  People head straight to their standard positions—all guns should be banned or we have plenty of gun laws on the books, they’re just not being enforced–we hear about it on the news for several days and then we all go back to normal until the next time.

I’ve blogged about this topic several times before.  Like this one, this one and even this effort.  I was trying to think, “What could I possibly say that I haven’t said before?”  We know how to fix it, but we don’t.  If you try to make it a little tougher to get guns, then you’re infringing on rights.  If you try to limit a person with mental issues from a getting weapons, then you’re violating the second amendment AND persecuting people with a handicap.  I had this idea and toyed with the idea of posting it to Facebook, but then the whole rhetoric wars would break out again and I’m tired of hearing them.

28th Amendment

Blogging, to me, is therapeutic. It allows me to concisely convey my thoughts, my ideas, my concepts and then, preserves it online for as long as the Internet stays open.  It’s my personal Tim Hunter time capsule.  Use only as directed.

I’ve given a little more thought to my blog this week as I was invited to speak to a class at North Seattle Community College on Thursday about blogging and writing in general.  Former KLSY “Lights Out” host Peter Lukevich has always been one to give back and so, these days, you’ll find him at the NSCC campus a couple of days a week, teaching a class.

Wow, speaking to a class of college students.  How did I get here?  Yet, as I thought about it, writing has been a very big (just not always obvious) part of my life.

The bulk of my early years were all about radio.  But that required writing–commercial scripts, comedy bit ideas, etc.  Late in that phase of my career I found myself writing more and more.  I went to the Northshore Citizen (now the Bothell-Kenmore Reporter) and pitched the editor on an “around town” type column, full of folksy fodder, real-life events and funny things that happened in town.  I did that for an entire year before finally getting paid: a whopping $20 a column.  I wasn’t doing it for the money, it was for the experience.  Seven years later, I finally gave it up, having moved out of Bothell and I just wasn’t as connected as I needed to be to sustain the column. However, after all those years, I still had enough material to compile a “best of” book from the first five years of “Nosin’ Around Northshore.”  And believe it or not, I still get recognized to this day from that column.  Just last week, someone said, “Where have I heard that name before?” and sure enough, she remembered me from the newspaper column.

After the column was done, I still had the writing itch to keep the stories coming, but from my life, not everyone else’s.  So, I decided to start a blog.  I kept trying to think of names that were clever but not dumb and with every new idea, I’d think, “Well, that’s stupid. That’s stupid.”  Without dragging out this story any longer than it has to be since you know the answer, I went to GoDaddy and bought WhataStupidNameforaWebsite.com.

Fluky idea. Interesting concept.  So, who’s going to read this thing?  I then realized that I had reached the point that any successful writer finally finds his or her self: I just don’t care!  This is me, these are my thoughts and observations and this is just a blip in the universe of content that’s available online and somebody just might find it interesting.

So, I kept writing and writing and now, here I am, a dozen years into this thing with over 660 posts to my credit.  I pretty much write one blog a week, trying not to be too heavy, too preachy and definitely not boring.

I gotta say, I was amazed when I actually look at the stats of my blog for the first time.  Over the years, I’ve had 36,597 views from all corners of the world.  The single most read blog was titled, “A Day of Sadness”, which was all about that tragic day last year when the KOMO copter crashed, claiming two lives–one of them, former UW classmate and all-around great guy, Bill Strothman.

I’ve heard so many people say, “Oh, I can’t do that.”  Yes, you can.   Writing is just taking what’s going on in your head and putting it down in a more permanent form that you can share with others.  It doesn’t come out perfectly the first time.  You get it down and then polish it up.   Writing is a muscle. With daily workouts, it gets easier and easier and you’ll find yourself enjoying it more than you ever thought possible.

Besides this blog, I get up every morning and write for Radio-Online, a show prep service for disc jockeys.  I have multiple clients that I write for, as well as personal projects that require some keyboard tapping, like my weekly update for Tim Hunter Creative Services.

The point of all this–to say “thanks” to you.  As you might imagine, one of the biggest rewards for any writer is to have their work read.  And so, I’m using this week’s collection of thoughts to emphasize just how much I appreciate you taking the time each week–or, even just when you can–to visit my little corner of the Internet and see what’s going on.

Back next week, God-willing.

Tim Hunter

365 DAYS THAT SEEMED LIKE A YEAR

First-Year-Anniversary

I had been wanting out.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  The company had welcomed me as a writer with lots of radio experience back in 2004.  I began with them as a part-time copywriter.  Then, occasionally, a little of production work,  (making radio commercials) and eventually, a full-time offer at less than 25% of what I was earning in radio when that job went away.

But I was glad to be a part of this team.  Every day, I came to this collection of people who I grew to know and become very good friends with.  Over time, I went from copywriter, to lead copywriter, to Associate Creative Director to the full-blown title of CD.  In that almost 10-year span, I went from being married, to going through a painful divorce, buying a home of my own, meeting an incredible person who is now the cornerstone of my life and seeing a company that was, at one time, up to 40+ employees down to just a little more than a dozen.

I counted how many co-workers I had at this company–from the time I started there to the time I left, I actually worked with 100 different people in just less than a decade.

That really was the tricky part. I was this close to leaving at the beginning of summer 2014 when I was offered a raise to stay.  It still wasn’t what I had hoped to earn, but it was a sizeable bump from what I had been making.  I decided to make the most of it, summer was on hand, and I would just ride this out as long as I could.

But all around me, there were signs.  We had been losing clients left and right.  Rumored new clients turned out to be wishful thinking and because of the tough economic times, the owner became more and more insistent that his way was the only way to go.  What did that mean for me?  Ideas, concepts, any new direction I might come up with had to go through his filter and often didn’t survive.  The end of summer rolled around and I went on an extended Labor Day weekend.

Upon my return, I discovered commercials that I had written for a client had been gutted for the umpteenth time.  After being away, having time to think and ponder, I decided the time was upon me.  Sure, I was 3 months away from my 10th anniversary with the company, when I would have received a 6th week of paid vacation and a $1,000 thank you for sticking around, but I was done.

I walked into my supervisor’s office and informed him I was at the end.  I was giving notice that at the end of the month, almost 4 weeks away, I was gone.  They could find a replacement, I could help train them, etc.  I would make my departure as easy as possible.

When September 30th rolled around, my final day, no one had been hired.  A V.P. asked if I would consider helping with a couple of clients as a part-timer and since I had zero lined up, I agreed.  I worked for a few weeks on a couple of projects, but eventually decided it would be best to part ways.

October 1st, my first day of being out on my own,  did NOT involve sleeping in. In fact, without even announcing to the outside world what I was up to, Fred Herring from the Bothell Rotary Club called me up and asked if I would come and be a guest speaker at an upcoming breakfast.  I said, “Sure, when’s the date?” and he replied, “October 1st.”  “Funny, I have that date open!  Deal!”

To explain my thinking, here’s where I was headed.  Over the years, I’ve met a LOT of people.  I’ve worked with, in both radio and advertising, a ton of clients in the Puget Sound Area and beyond.  In my mind, it only made sense that I just put myself out there, let people know what I’m up to, do a few pro bono projects to demonstrate the kinds of things I enjoy doing and, Voila!  Things would just fall together.

And they did!

Every morning for the past year, I’ve gotten up to do what I want to do.  A 4am rise to accommodate my Radio Online writing, then off to a project for one of my clients. I can’t remember any time in my life when I’ve had this kind of flexibility.  A lot of the radio career was a blur–getting up at 2:17AM, going through the day, grabbing a nap, awake again until 10, back to bed, repeat.  I wouldn’t trade those days for anything, but just shy of 30 years of radio really does take a toll.

So, where does that leave me?  Right now, Tim Hunter Creative Services keeps me busy with lots of writing gigs, Radio Online Morning Show Prep, video projects, social media and marketing consultation…and then, the rest of the hours of my work week are spent with Create Impulse, where we’ve got a handful of clients we enjoy working with, and several bigger ones on the horizon.

I’ve also found time with my fairly loose schedule to be able to catch up with people via lunches or coffees (it’s that networking thing), I’ve re-launched my podcast that I began in 2007 but set aside when I fell in love.  When my father’s health went south quickly, I had the flexibility to just dash down to Southern California to be there for as long as was needed and then returned two weeks later to help tie up the loose ends.

I do get up every day and say a little prayer of thanks.  I really believe everyone should live that way, getting up to something they anticipate and that excites them, rather than that they dread.  We just don’t know how many of these gifts we’re going to get, so why not make the most of them?

I appreciate all the support of those who know me and who I’ve worked with and wish nothing but the best for you in the future.  Here I am at the one year mark of “the Great Experiment’ and you know, I think this crazy idea just might work.

Tim Hunter

THE AMERICAN WAY

 homer brain

Watching the debates and the presidential candidates in general shows me that we’ll, once again, end up having to choose between a couple of people who we think we know.
I have to say, the refreshing part about Sanders, Trump and Fiorina is that they aren’t career politicians or insiders just trying to put the final icing on their political cake. While I don’t agree with a good part of their politics, I believe more and more we all end up voting on what we hope will happen if that candidate gets in. You just put a check by a name on that ballot and keep your fingers crossed that they can grab the wheel and steer our country in the right direction.
Sanders wants to socialize America. I’ll be honest, I’m not as afraid of that word as I once was, but the practicality of it in the U.S. seems unlikely. I remember John Kennedy had this crazy idea of putting a man on the moon by the end of that decade, which was as much a dream as it was a challenge to America. And, we came through. Yet, to be honest—having a national government-run anything the size of our country is asking for problems. Point in case—the U.S. Postal service, which announced this week they’ve lost money again for the 7th year in a row. We’re spending trillions of dollars we don’t have, our postal service loses money and we want it to run medical care in the U.S.?
Hey, if we were a Scandinavian country with 7-million people or so, not only possible, but happening. But 320-million people and growing daily? Do you really think that’s a good idea? Or, you just want it to punish the current non-working system and hope it ends up to the good?
Now, on the other side, Trump and Fiorina say they want to run the country better, like a business. I agree with that in principle, because there are way too many back-scratching deals and tagged-on pet projects that have become of our broken system. I’ve long felt our country, our state and yes, even the city of Seattle, should have to undergo an audit. Here’s what we have in revenue, here’s everything we’re currently spending. OK, those don’t match. Let’s get rid of the extra’s and put them in a “when things get better” pile and when we have the money, they’ll go back in. But no spending what we don’t have except in the case of a declared war.
It’s also been clearly demonstrated to us that no matter how much “hope and change” is promised, that’s a slogan and a vague dream, not a deliverable. A successful marketing catch phrase, just like “Just do it” that compels people to think spending $250 on a pair of running shoes is cool. Our elected president does become the C.E.O. of the company, but it’s a company with two boards that need to be on your side—the House and the Senate. And then, a third board—the Supreme Court—that just might undo everything you had in mind to fit their standards.
Getting back to “hope and change”, while I was hoping for the economy to improve, I was hoping it would change a lot more. We’ve recovered from the economic crash, but we’re far from healed. This is where the two-party filter kicks in for most people.
If you’re a Democrat, you’ll view what Obama has done over the past 6+ years as wonderful, far from where we were, a better place. If you’re a Republican, you don’t like the social direction he’s taken the country and are quick to point out the size of that national debt.
And that’s a great example of why I’m in the middle and refuse to associate with either party. I think, socially, we’ve evolved a long way. Abortion, gay rights, and legalization of marijuana…we’ve advanced our thinking. Remember Republicans, you’re all about defending personal rights which is why Lincoln signed that Emancipation Proclamation. Let me take you back to the Garden of Eden, where God didn’t lay down a bunch of rules. Just one and that was ignored. Now, what makes you think that any of the afore-mentioned sensitive topics should come with rules because of your religious beliefs? No one is legislated to have an abortion, or to smoke pot or to be gay. It’s about rights, just like back in that garden.
And if you go all Bible-thumping Christian on me, the good book says you can’t save someone else’s soul. Only they can do that. So, if what they are doing is wrong, then God will take care of it in the end, right?
By the way, for the record, I’m a Christian. More the “it’s the spiritual part of my life” not the “because the church I belong to believes this, you’re all going to hell” variety.
We’re all being asked to evolve from our current comfort zone to what’s next. The world will keep changing, not always to our liking, but it’s smart to adjust to the times, while maintaining our personal standards. It helps you grow.
What it doesn’t do is help us find a presidential candidate who actually reflects the way we feel. Right now, there’s a whole herd of politico’s that I agree with here, but not there. That speak my language on one topic but alienate me on another.
So, I’ll just watch the process, then, once again, have to decide on the lesser of two evils, cast my ballot and hope it’s all for the better.
But then again, that’s the American Way.
Tim Hunter

OH GIVE ME A HOME…

Once upon a time, you could have a different opinion on a topic and not be instantly labeled a jerk or insensitive or worse.

You’re a Republican or Democrat?  Independent?  Cool.  It’s what you believe, we all have the best interest of this country at heart—we just have different ways of getting there. Got it!

I don’t know when the shift began or maybe it’s a generational thing, but we’ve become a society of “If it’s not my way, I’m not going to play!” (see Kentucky) Rather than allowing people to have opinions and then go with what the majority wants, there are now clear-cut lines that you are simply not allowed to cross over.

This week, I’m tackling one of those topics:  homelessness.  Prepare to call me a jerk.

Seattle has a serious homeless problem that is getting worse by the year.  Yet, the politically correct way to talk about homelessness is to do everything in our power to make them more comfortable.  Not get them out of their situation, just enable it.

That doesn’t work for me.

Now, when you drive along I-5 in Seattle, you see little camping tents set up under freeway overpasses or on hillsides.  The residents will get up, spend the day panhandling or begging for funds to continue their barely-getting-by lifestyle only to wake up the next day and do it again. Some see it as a reminder of the homeless issue.  Others see them and feel guilty, as if WE have failed them.

For you 30s and under, it never used to be this way.  Oh, sure, in the 1920s after the Stock Market crash, little shanty towns sprung up where people lived until they could get back on their feet.  It was a tentative existence until the economy turned around. But the residents of those villages never ever planned to stay their the rest of their lives.  Today’s homeless seem to be content with their surroundings, and homelessness has become a lifestyle.

Seattle and the Misdirected Compassionates (I should register that term) have created conditions that cause these pup tent apartments and villages to be an acceptable option.  They are not.

Seattle’s current philosophy on the homeless:

Regardless of history, drugs or alcohol abuse, anyone who has chosen to live this lifestyle is a saint.  Their welfare comes before those of tax-paying citizens, as our politicians set up tent villages in areas far from their homes but close to ours.

Church members gather together to pack sandwiches, drop them off, then drive home while patting themselves on the back.  Of course, they don’t do that for every meal every day, but one day a week or a month and they’re able to feel a little less guilty.

I don’t remember “Thou shalt be coddled and waited on by people who work and have earned everything they’ve got.”  I do remember “Helping the poor.”  Helping.  An active form of the word, “help.”

Enabling, accommodating, coddling, and tolerating is not helping. Forcing a homeless camp into a neighborhood because the city claims it knows best is not helping.

People who are down on their luck need real help and real solutions.  Job training, counseling, a safe place to live temporarily while they make the effort to help themselves.

You say, “Well, Tim, that’s going to cost a lot of money.”  In 2014, Seattle spent $40-million on homeless services.  Add to that all the efforts of churches and private social agencies and you can see we have the weapons to fight this plague. Instead, we opt to show compassion, at any cost.  Well, $40-million last year, to be exact.

To get ahold of this issue, perhaps we need a Homeless Czar. Someone that leads the efforts of the city and county and enforces it.  You’re homeless?  Here’s how we’ll help you fix that.   Choose to ignore that, continue abusing drugs or alcohol and prepare to suffer the legal consequences.

Oh, that’s right.  There are laws.   I was driving through Bothell yesterday and noticed there were white letters painted on the freeway pillars, saying “No trespassing.”   That’s right, it’s actually illegal to just toss a tent up anywhere and call it home. The burbs enforce it.  The city of Seattle feels the compassionate response is to ignore it.

I’ll cover for you on the next response: “But Tim, you can’t just arrest those people.”  No, you give them warnings.  If they ignore them, then they do get arrested.  If you make the threat real, word will spread.  Seattle is NOT where to go when you’re homeless. Go to any suburb, try that and you will be arrested.

You see, what they’re doing is against the law.  We are currently ignoring all kinds of laws—vagrancy, trespassing, etc—because, currently, homelessness buys you lots of leeway.

“But we just need to ignore those laws.”  OK, so which laws do you want to ignore?  Do we all get to ignore them or just the homeless?  And which ones are you keeping?  We live in a society of laws.  Otherwise, you have anarchy.

Our Homeless Czar should compare notes with other major cities about how they’re handling this issue. I remember traveling to Japan a couple of decades ago and saw a homeless guy, begging. One guy.  I asked our guide if homelessness was a problem in Japan and she told me that being homeless was a great shame to the family, so they often would take care of it themselves.

The way I see it, there are three ways to deal with the homeless situation:  Keep feeding it and hope that it fixes itself, do everything in our power to just hide it away from our sight, or make a commitment to really deal with what’s happening out there.

Think about it—Seattle spent $40-million on the homeless issue and yet, it continues to get worse.  There are people who have found themselves living on the streets due to unfortunate circumstances.  We have too much at our disposal not to offer help to those in need.

But again, they need real help, not “feel good” enabling.

Tim Hunter

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Once Again, That Date Rolls Around

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Each generation seems to have that “never forget” date where we reflect on an incident that forever changed our lives.  The Alamo, The Maine, Pearl Harbor and, for us, 9-11.  September 11th, 2001, a day that a group of religious fanatics felt they were doing their God’s work by hijacking and crashing commercial jetliners and killing as many people as possible.  You’ve got to wonder what kind of religion would consider killing large numbers of people “God’s work”, but if you review history, Muslims didn’t exactly corner the market on that one.

I’ve written several times about that fateful day, so rather than repeat myself, let me pass along the links of those blogs if you are so inclined.

The 10-Year Anniversary

Two Years Ago

Last Year’s Blog

Time helps the healing.  With each year, it still hurts, but just a little bit less. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to have lost a family member that day.  It is imperative that all of us never forget, to continue our vigilance, but also to try to live our lives the way we want. Catering to their threats and terrorist ways lets them win.

Observe the day, respect the day, but keep on living.  Remember 9-11.

Tim Hunter

The New Fall Season

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I returned to post this week’s blog and realized that the entire month of August was all about my dad’s passing.  The past four collections of thoughts were all about that particular topic.  While I tried my best to make them informative for you and therapeutic for me, I have never been more relieved to see the calendar flip over to the next month.

Now, September is not without consequences.  Someone very close to me…well, actually, it’s me…will turn the big 6-0 on the 20th.  Why do they always say “The big 6-0?”   Like I could choose the smaller one?

I’ve told some people my theory before and for you younger readers who aren’t wearing readers, please notice this when you reach your mid 30s.  In my wrinkled mind, I still feel like I did when I was 35.  In my brain, I am 35.  Older, yes….wiser, maybe….but that particular point of my life just locked in.  Until I get in front of a mirror, I look out through my eyeballs away from my body and I’m a 35-year-old.

When I was in mid-30 territory, I had several good friends in their 50s and  remember thinking, “Man, that’s a great decade.” These people all had settled into a great jobs, they had the toys–a boat, a vacation place, they traveled–life was completely under control.

You 30s and unders, let me be your life guide:

30-something  The decade you’ll back on when things seem to start coming together.  The kids don’t need constant supervision.  Or, maybe they do, but you’re relaxing a little now.  You’ve bought a house, the income has come up, the job is clicking, you’ve got a great circle of friends and life is good.

40-something  The decade where things started to come apart. I remember going to a neighborhood party and within 10 minutes, the guys were all off by themselves, talking about what part of their body hurt the most.  Divorces start to show up in that circle of friends.

50-something  The decade that the things that fell apart start coming back together again.  The biggest thing I noticed about this decade is that you are as developed as a person as you’re going to be.  You know what you like, what you’ll put up with and what you won’t.  My way or the highway.  You start thinking about the fact that you’re clearly past the mid-way point of your life.  Parents and friends begin to die.  Time to create that bucket list.

60-something   I’m not there.  Stop pushing.

One thing that this past month taught me (and I’m always looking for something to learn) is that you haven’t heard all the stories yet.  Oh, sure, family members go back to the classics a lot and you think, “(sigh), here we go again.”  But while talking with my sister Debbie a week ago, she reflected back to her youth and the fact that she was not a very good seamstress.  Oh, she took Home Ec in school, but try as she might, she just didn’t pick up the knack of sewing.  How bad was she at sewing?  One year for her birthday, she got a seam ripper for a gift.  That cracked me up.  I had never heard that story before.

There’s a lot out there to absorb and here’s some shocking news: its not all on your phone.  Talk with the people you care about.  Chit chat.  The ones who mean the most to you are on different life clocks that you are.  It’s a delicate balance between being morbid and savoring every moment of this precious life.

I’m glad to be turning 60.  It means I’m still here, still doing what I love to do and looking forward to all the fun ahead. Bring on the new fall season!

And besides, the Mariners traded Fernando Rodney.  What more could I ask for?

Tim Hunter

 

WHAT I LEARNED

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Losing a family member is one of the most painful things you’ll experience in this lifetime. This past month, my dad went home to his eternal reward. If you’ve read the past couple of blogs, you saw how a difficult thing was made even tougher by situations and people obsessed with their own self-importance.

We all know life will have its rough spots and, as you’ve often heard, “what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.” That is SO true. If there’s anything to be learned from an experience, embrace it.  Down the road, it will help us either avoid situations or make the difficult ones easier to navigate.

Prime example—back when I owned a boat, I was on Lake Wenatchee with the kids when I decided to take a shortcut. My prop hit a rock in the shallow water, the shaft was bent and $2800 later, I had the boat all fixed up enough to sell it.  I won’t be taking shortcuts in unknown waters ever again. A lesson learned.

With my father’s passing, I observed and witnessed several things that I’ll offer to you, hoping to spare you the learning curve and perhaps, making it just a little easier to get through that challenging stretch of your life.

Here’s what I learned:

My parents were smart.  They bought a pair of cemetery plots back in the 1950s for $170.  They made $6 a month payments until they owned them.  Today, they would sell for $14,000 EACH!  A pretty good return on your investment.  If you’re planning cremation, much simpler.  But if you wanted to end up in the ground somewhere (and, you could always change your mind later and sell your plots at a much higher rate), now is the time to buy.

They also did the pre-paid funeral plan.  Back in 2001, mom and dad both picked out their coffins, the type of service they wanted, everything.  Yes, it’s morbid, people don’t like to think about that stuff, etc….but it saves the family so much agonizing over which $7,000 coffin to buy….what would mom or dad want, etc.  Upgrades and alternatives were offered, but we stuck with the pre-approved plan because, after all, that’s what dad had wanted.

I’ve never been a fan of open casket services.  The person just doesn’t look right. However, I believe that the amount of time I spent at the viewing and the open casket funeral service really pounded home that this was real, that it was dad’s shell and not him. He was in a much better place now, at peace and without pain.  I guess, in a way, it helped make his passing more real.

Airlines vary in how they handle flight changes based on bereavement. Alaska Airlines changed our return date with no questions asked and no fees.  While United Airlines charged $50 per change and wanted proof sent to them.  A consideration if you have long-distance travel as part of being there. Like they say, “check with your airline.”

There will be times when you feel you have to fight for everything—don’t give up.  That’s what they want, that’s what they hope for, but don’t let them have it.  We were told that our father’s body wasn’t going to be released to the mortuary and would spend the weekend on a slab in the morgue like a common criminal because he died on a Friday and a hospital employee “just couldn’t finish all the paperwork by 4pm.”  Unacceptable.  Not negotiable. UNACCEPTABLE!  We found out this fact at 2pm.  We argued on the phone with a hospital employee, then went to the hospital to further argue our case.  By going over her head and being there (even after a phone call that claimed it had all been handled and it wasn’t), our father was released at 4:45pm.  Most people probably would roll over, or are grieving so much they just don’t want to take something like that on.  Not the Hunters.

In buying flowers, you’ll get so much more (and pay less) if you go to a floral wholesaler. Google ‘em, you’ll find one nearby.  Yes, we had to drive a little and pay a delivery fee, but we were able to choose some stunning floral arrangements from mom, the kids and the grandkids and great grandkids.

Oh, and people will say things.  Wrong things. Uncomfortable things.  They are not intended to be mean or insensitive, but other people are having a tough time with the passing, too.  They care about you, so they feel they need to say something and the words that come out are far from helpful.  Just hold your outrage, nod your head and process it later.  A great example: While waiting at the funeral home, one of the employees came out and said to us, “Oh, you all look so sad.” Ya think?  Another well-meaning friend who had an elderly parent that needed lots of care sent me a private Facebook message.  In fact, here’s what she said: “At that age I’m sure he was happy to go and maybe ready too.”  Even if that was true, not the time to say it and I really don’t want to hear it.  Especially from a non-family member.  Or even from a family member.

Those are the headlines. Just a few of the lessons learned after my father’s passing. I hope something in there helps you better understand a few things when the time comes for you to go through the loss of a family member.

God’s peace.

Tim Hunter

The Great Hunter Hospital Nightmare

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The following is a letter that I wrote and sent on behalf of our family to Harbor UCLA Hospital, where my father spent the final hours of his life.  It’s hard to believe in this day and age that someone could be so insensitive and it’s a shame that one person can taint the otherwise mostly positive experience.

I heard from the hospital administration yesterday.  They are sending a letter explaining their steps and reactions to my mother and have called to apologize to her.  It still doesn’t un-do the emotional abuse we endured that day, but we’re hoping that calling them out prevents any other family from going through this on a day they lose a loved one.

The lesson–stand your grand and don’t put up with power-tripping, insensitive people.  There are actually very few of them and many more of us.

Tim Hunter

 

To the Directors of Harbor UCLA Hospital

The John Hunter family of Torrance, California, had quite a few experiences with your facility over the past couple of years, but we feel we must share our most recent.

The reason for our visit, our dad, 91-year-old John Hunter, got out of bed Wednesday afternoon after lying down to take a nap, lost his balance and fell backwards, hitting his head on an end table in the bedroom.

The result was an injury that required an ambulance ride to Harbor UCLA.  It was there that, after a series of CAT scans, we realized his bleeding wasn’t going to stop, he was too weak for surgery, and this was probably the end of the road.

After the second CAT scan, his speech became garbled and by the third scan, the pooling blood had reduced him to just a breathing body.

My wife and I arrived in town Thursday afternoon and by the time we arrived at the hospital, the situation was obvious.  We all believed dad could hear everything said, so we talked with him and included him in the discussions.

It was at this point I knew that I would need to write a glowing letter about some of your caring staff.

First off, my sister Debbie and Mom raved about the incredible treatment when dad first arrived at the Emergency/Trauma center. The staff was phenomenal and Dr. Brando was exceptionally compassionate.

Then, in the 3rd floor ICU, there was Nurse Rodney Hittle.  When my wife & I first arrived, dad was in the ICU unit in his non-responsive mode.  Rodney came up, introduced himself, explained the situation, asked if we had any questions and made us feel that our dad was in great hands.  Even while moving him around as they prepared to relocate him to a private room on the 6th floor for Comfort Care, Rodney would talk to dad and say, “OK, John, we’re going to….etc”   It was heart-warming to see him treat a patient that way.  Add to that, Rodney also came up twice to check on us before he headed home.

Since I live in Seattle and realized that we were in the final few days of my father’s life, I volunteered to stay the night with him.  This gave me a lot of time to talk with him, relive old stories and say my goodbyes.  Concerned he’d try to slip away while I was sleeping there, I set my alarm every hour to check on him.  The overnight nurse, Christine, was amazing.  She introduced herself.  During her multiple stops in the room to check on him, she kept asking how I was doing.  It was the kind of caring for your family member that you’d think should be the rule.  However, in our experience with other area medical providers, we’ve discovered that it’s the exception.

We also had incredibly positive encounters with a Dr. Sloan and Dr. Nan and on Friday morning, our day shift nurse, Tracy Jones, who you’ll be hearing about later.

We had various discussions about the “What if’s”, wondering if dad would last for days, hours or whatever.  He surprised us all and slipped away at 10:41 Friday morning.

The family grieved, prayed and spent time with dad before Tracy informed us they were ready to move the body whenever we were done.  The family packed up and left around 1pm, heading home to have lunch and begin our grieving.

And this is when our Harbor UCLA nightmare began.

As we sat down to lunch at our mother’s home around 2pm, my sister Terri’s cell phone rang. She went down the hall to talk and soon returned, signaling me to come join her in the conversation.

It was Green Hills Mortuary, letting us know that there was a paperwork issue preventing them from picking up our father’s body.  Terri was given the phone number of someone to contact at Harbor UCLA: her name was Donna.

Terri called asking why our father’s body wasn’t being released.  She was told that was true and that it probably wasn’t going to happen today.  Then she informed my sister that pickups didn’t occur after 4pm Fridays or on the weekends so my dad would probably remain in their morgue until Monday.

Without hesitation, Terri conveyed the family response.  That was completely unacceptable.  That’s when Donna dug in and informed her that having dad’s body picked up “wasn’t going to happen.”

With her lack of co-operation, we decided to go around her.  We asked for her supervisor and we were informed that she was on vacation, but here’s her cell phone number. “Don’t leave a message, just keep calling.”

We called the phone number over and over without a response.  Now, we’re fighting mad.

So, I called Rodney.  He told us our best bet would be to check with our floor nurse.  I called up the 6th floor to reach Tracy Jones and was put on hold for 10 minutes.  I decided to hang up, redialed and this time, I reached Tracy. She was surprised and told us that all the paperwork had been turned in.  The doctor had signed off, there was no reason why it shouldn’t be released.  At 11:45am.

We called Donna back and explained what Tracy said and Donna informed us that there were complications, the coroner’s office had to be involved, and again, it was unlikely it was going to happen today.  Plus, there was something my mom needed to sign that she hadn’t signed.  (which turned out later to not be true)

OK, it was obvious by now that this was not going to be resolved over the phone, so my sister Terri, my mother and I headed back to the hospital.  A place we thought we had left for the last time.

As we approached the hospital, my cell phone rang. It was Tracy the nurse, who had given me her personal cell phone in case this wasn’t resolved.  Tracy told us it had all been handled, she had personally gone down to Donna’s office and talked with her and that Green Hills was 15 minutes away from the hospital.

We called my sister Debbie with the good news.  She suggested that since we were almost at the hospital that we stop by and verify the transfer, just in case.

Thankfully we did, because it was NOT resolved. We went to Donna’s office (Decendent Affairs), knocked on the door and were greeted by a friendly employee.  We explained why we were there and that’s when she turned and spoke to the other employee in the room and said, “Donna?”

Donna then abruptly told us she was working on the forms, that there was a lot to it, that bit about involving the coroner’s office again and said she was doing the best she could.  We said that Tracy told us it was all handled.  Donna used her hands to create an imaginary box and said, “Yes, but she does not work here in this office.”  At one point of our discussion, your employee even mention that some bodies stay in their morgue for a month or more.

My first reaction was to go outside so I could have cell phone service and call Tracy back.  When I reached her, Tracy said she had hand-delivered the paperwork to Donna, the doctor had signed off and that Donna had everything she needed.

At this point, it became apparent we needed to locate someone at the hospital who could show a little more compassion for a family that had just lost one of its members.  I found out the location of patient services on the 8th floor and went there to explain our situation.  After going through a detailed description, the two friendly employees told me they were aware of what was going on and led me down to Donna’s office.  My mom and sister Terri joined us along the way and waiting in front of the office were Nurse Tracy and Dr. Nam.  Both apologized and said they had no idea what the hang up was.   It was now 4pm.  Tracy had gotten off-shift at 3pm, but stayed late to make sure this was fixed.  She had done everything she could possibly do to help.

Tracy left and the rest of the hospital staff gathered behind the frosted windows of Donna’s office as my mom, sister and I stood outside. 45 minutes later, they emerged with Dr. Nam letting us know that dad’s body had been picked up and taken to Green Hills.

We were also informed later that, yes, there was something the coroner’s office needed to do, but they were able to perform that at Green Hills.

We never saw Donna, which was probably for the better. Her lack of compassion, her condescending attitude, was monumental.  We wondered how many other families have experienced this heartless treatment by a Harbor UCLA staff member.  It was not our intention to interfere with her on-time Friday afternoon departure.

It’s a shame for all of the positive attributes of Harbor UCLA during such a traumatic life experience that we had to spend a day of mourning for my father fighting for his dignity.

Regretfully yours,

The Hunter Family

 

So you know the complete story, on Sunday we were informed by the funeral home that dad’s body would have to be taken to downtown LA and signed off by the coroner before we could bury him.  We didn’t know until Monday afternoon that the Wednesday funeral plans would actually happen.  How to make a difficult time even more difficult.  I understand the intent, but every now and then, a little common sense needs to break out.

Again, stand your ground.  Fight for what you know is right and maybe you’ll help another family avoid such treatment.

TH