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:

IMG_6652

“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…..

IMG_6855

“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

tents

Once Again, That Date Rolls Around

911

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

Funeral program 01

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

 

My Last Night With Dad

“There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.”     David Eagleman, Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives  

Just a few years ago...

Just a few years ago…

It was a Wednesday afternoon when the first text came.  Dad was in the hospital again.  There had been another fall, but this time, it was bad.  He had hit the back of his head on an end table in the bedroom and the internal bleeding wouldn’t stop.  While there had been falls in each of the past several years, this looked like it could be it.

My wife, Victoria, and I caught a morning flight from Seattle and arrived at Harbor UCLA Hospital by Thursday afternoon.  In less than 24 hours after our arrival, he would be gone.

Dad was speaking when he first arrived at the hospital, but as the blood pooled inside his head, it began squeezing the brain, slowly shutting down his body. By the time we arrived, dad was just breathing.  He was unresponsive, looking like he had so many times before, as if sleeping.

The hospital moved him to a private room upstairs so that we could have more family members in the room with him. Around 11pm, everyone headed home to grab some sleep, while I volunteered to stay with dad.  The last stages of life had been described to us, so it was my job to keep an eye on him and, if his breathing changed, I was to notify everyone so they could come back and say goodbye one last time.

It just felt like ‘this was it.’  The doctor said it could last hours, days or weeks, but the chance of dad improving from his current state was pretty much nil.

I’d stare at him, cry a little, then stare some more. As his body worked on shutting down, I remembered someone saying that hearing was supposed to be one of the last things to go. So, I pulled up a chair and began recalling Dad stories, talking with him about every moment of my life where he was involved. During this time, I came to the realization that I had only ever called him two things—Dad and Pop. Then the rambling, tear-filled stories began. There’s no way I could remember everything I talked about that night, but here are a few of the memories I shared with him:

  • First, the days of Little League Baseball came to mind.  There were the Pee Wee Pirates and then the minor-league Giants (an amazing fact, considering his Dodger Blue loyalty).  I only had one home run in my Little League career and he missed it.  Dad was trying to get some of the rowdy boys in the dugout to calm down when he looked up and saw me circling the bases.  It was a story he liked to tell often.
  • We played catch in the backyard a lot. He’d use this mitt I’d swear was once worn by Ty Cobb that he had from his World War II days.  Dad made up a wood ‘home plate’ so that he could crouch down and I could work on my pitching technique.
  • When we weren’t playing catch in the backyard, we’d be out in the driveway playing basketball.  Even through my teens, he liked going out and shooting hoops.  While my high school coaches promoted the one-handed jump shot, he stuck with his famous West Virginia two-handed set shot.
  • I remembered when he worked the graveyard shift at United Airlines and would come home around 7am. Mom would make him breakfast and dad would enjoy his scrambled eggs with ketchup on them.
  • There’s the bird bath that still sits in my folks’ backyard.  Back when I was a senior at Torrance High School, as class president, I led the charge to repaint the Senior Pond.  We used some Sky Blue paint to give the bottom a nice look and then I took the rest of that paint home.  Dad used it to paint their bird bath and was still using that same can of paint 42 years later to touch it up.
  • There were times that, as a kid, you knew things were different, but you didn’t know enough back then to worry about it.  That’s what parents do.  When United Airlines mechanics went on strike in the 1960s, Dad went down and worked on the Long Beach docks, unloading bananas and doing anything to keep a paycheck coming in.
  • Oh, yeah. There were those United Airline company picnics and Christmas parties.  Those were the days.  The picnics were held at the Los Angeles Police Academy, with games, a swimming pool, endless hot dogs & sodas and a clown.  The Christmas parties were cool, ’cause every kid got a present and we got to sit with Santa and tell him what we wanted for Christmas.
  • There were countless trips to Dodger Stadium, to see our Boys in Blue play.  This was back in the day when very few games were on TV and most of our weeknights were spent listening to the radio with Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett calling the play-by-play.  The Hunters were definitely Dodger fans.
  • To be fair, we also followed the Los Angeles Lakers, back in the days of Jerry West (Zeke, from Cabin Creek….West Virginia), Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain and more.  Working on the ground crew at United Airlines, dad was occasionally able to grab some autographs of the players when they flew commercial airliners (and boarded from those stairs on the ground).  I have one 3X5 card filled with autographs of players like Jerry West, Mel Counts and others.  One day I took it out of the book and flipped it over and there all by itself on the other side–the autograph of Lawrence Welk!
  • There was the time up at Crestline near Big Bear Lake that my sister Terri was running down the side of a hill, couldn’t stop and ran smack dab into the lake.  Not knowing how to swim, she panicked, dad went into the water to get her, clothes and all.
  • There were the times while growing up that we would go over to his mom’s house, where his sister and brother also lived, in Gardena.  They would have dances out in the garage, playing records.  I just assumed that’s what everyone did on their Saturday nights in California.
  • I remembered our South Dakota fishing trip with dad, my uncle Jim and myself, on the Missouri River.  We went out and caught a nice string of Northern Pike, with me and my kiddie fishing pole landing the biggest.  I believe that’s when my fishing addiction officially started.
  • It seems as though we have more home movies than most families.  My dad isn’t in a lot of them because he was the guy operating the camera.  Now I know where I get that.  For the 8mm camera to pick up things inside, Dad had to use a light bar, that I’m sure is used by some Third World Countries during interrogations.  My sister Debbie theorizes that it’s why all of us kids ended up needing glasses.
  • We went camping a lot while growing up.  It made for an affordable vacation and we even worked in a trip to Washington State once.  I know the Redwoods were among mom’s favorite spots, but dad pretty much liked ’em all.
  • This was the guy who bore the brunt of my bad decision to make my first car a 1962 Volkswagen Van. It broke down 3 weeks after I bought it. Dad, in his spare time, rebuilt the engine out in the garage and then we sold it. I might have remembered a mild “I told you so”, but it was a classic example of letting me make a mistake, then being there as my safety net.

Those are just some of the stories I shared with Pop.  I pretty much talked Dad’s ears off for two consecutive hours, half expecting him to sit up and say, “Would you shut up?  I’m trying to sleep here.”  I thought it best to at least grab a little sleep, so around 1am, I set the alarm to go off in an hour.  That way I could check and see how he was doing.  I did that every hour until the morning.  Each time, there was no change in his breathing.

Around 7am, I realized with modern technology, I had the means to put on some music for him.  While he enjoyed big bands, I remembered he was very fond of the Mills Brothers.  So, I used iHeartRadio and put on a Mills Brothers channel.

I continued talking with him until around 10am when more people showed up.  Around 10:40am that Friday morning, with the sounds of his family, friends and the Mills Brothers filling the room, dad slipped away.  No final gasps, no unusual movements, he just stopped breathing.  He was at peace.

Living over a thousand miles away to the north, I wasn’t able to be there for a lot of his later years.  My mom and sister Debbie bore the brunt of all the hospital trips and doctor appointments, for which I’ll be forever grateful. We managed two or three visits a year, with most of those seeming to be at hospitals or rehabilitation centers. Saying goodbye to any family member is never easy, but when it’s your role model and the guy who taught you how to ride a bike and throw a curve ball, that’s tough. I take comfort in the fact that Dad made his life count. People continued to come up to me for the never several days, telling me what a great person he was. 91+ years on this earth, with a wonderful family to show for it—well done, John Hunter.

I appreciate so much being able to spend that last night with Dad. All of us made it pretty clear during those final days that he was loved and will be missed. My goal is to think of him as often as possible with joy, not sadness.

And by saying his name, we’ll put off that third stage of Mr. Eagleman’s theory just a little bit longer.

Love ya, Dad!

Tim Hunter

Yeah, I've always been a goof

Yeah, I’ve always been a goof

The Week I Said Goodbye

Me & Pop

It started with a phone call.  It was a Wednesday afternoon.  My sister Debbie was letting us know that dad had taken a nasty fall.  As in, backwards, hitting his head in the bedroom on the corner of an end table.

Now, in recent years, the annual call from Debbie had become a tradition.  Dad would fall and the result was a broken something which would usually require a 6-month stay at a rehabilitation facility.

But this time was different. My 91-year-old father, John Hunter, had really done it this time.  The ambulance came and took him to Harbor UCLA, where he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. There were stitches and staples and they put the skin on the back of his head together…but it was what was happening inside that didn’t bode well.

For all he had been through in recent years, dad was tired.  He had lost interest in the jigsaw puzzles that occupied hours of his time. His hearing was mostly gone, although as many times as he’d say “What?” he’d surprise you with a comment on a topic that had been discussed near him earlier.

The first CAT scan showed internal bleeding.  The doctors tried giving him platelets to stop the bleeding.  The next CAT scan showed more blood pooling in his head. The bleeding just wasn’t stopping.  After coming back to the room, dad’s speech was garbled, as if he had a stroke. By the third CAT scan that showed even more blood, he had been reduced to a breathing body.

I was still in Seattle, getting texts, dozing off, getting a phone call, talking half-awake and soon, it was morning. We finally had to admit that this was going to be it.  The day you dreaded, but knew it would happen someday.  We booked a flight Thursday morning, arriving at Harbor UCLA in the afternoon.

I walked into the ICU and reality hit. I don’t need to detail everything that happened, but the next step was for us to agree to “Comfort Care.”  It’s when the patient is moved to a private room where family can gather around until he or she passes.

The next thing you know, mom, my sister Debbie, my wife Victoria and I were up in a hospital room on the 6th floor.  My sister Terri and her husband Darrell were on the way from Arkansas, while my daughter Christina was flying in from Olympia.  Since they all arrived at the airport around the same time, they were able to car pool together, arriving at the hospital around 9 o’clock.

We talked about dad.  We prayed together. Our reunion was something special, but unfortunately for the wrong reason. My mom and sister were exhausted.  The rest of us weren’t doing well, either, but I volunteered to spend the night with dad in the room, watching for any signs of ‘the end.’  If something happened, I’d call everybody so they could rush over and say their goodbyes.

Everyone left and I pulled up a chair next to dad.  As the bleeding continued, it squeezed his brain causing portions of his body to shut down.  They say that hearing is one of the last things to go, so I was going to make the most of it.  For the next two hours, I relived every story imaginable that involved dad. I half expected him at some point to sit up and tell me to shut up so he could get some sleep. Around 1am, I figured I better get some sleep so I could be more useful the next day.  However, since I had sentry duty and might need to alert the troops, I set my alarm to go off every hour to check on dad and see if he was showing any of the final stage symptoms.

By 7am, I told dad I needed to do my daily writing job for Radio Online, so I fired up the laptop and took care of business, taking occasional breaks to tell him about what was going on in the world. Then I realized I had the technology to have some of his favorite music playing while he laid there.  He often told me how much he like the Mills Brothers, so I placed my phone over by him and used the iHeartMedia app to stream some Mills Brothers tunes.

A doctor stopped by and we chatted about dad’s situation. He had said these things could take hours….days…..or longer.  We even talked about hospice care if this continued and he said he’d ask the social work to drop by some possibilities.

I wrapped up my writing as family members began to arrive.  Life-long friends of my parents, Steve and Valera Braun, and their daughter Julie, had also stopped by.  We were chatting about dad, his days at United Airlines with Steve, and generally just hanging out when Mom strolled over to dad and noticed something.  “He’s not breathing.”

In my mind, I’m thinking about how the nurse said towards the end he might stop and then start again.  We waited, but nothing happened.  We called in a nurse, who found a doctor and he was pronounced dead.

Really!  That’s it?  You find yourself torn between not knowing that he was going right then and there…but then, to know comes with gasping or convulsing or ugly body sounds.  Dad just slipped away.  He was listening to favorite songs.  I was done talking his ear off about all of the things I remembered about him.  He heard family and friends laughing and chatting in the background.

My sister Debbie missed dad’s departure by minutes and felt bad. But I let her know, WE missed it, too!  We were right there in the room with him and that soft-spoken boy from Scotland who was so proud of his family just slipped away.  My beliefs say he’s finally at peace, with his savior.  It helps.

We stayed in the room for a couple of hours, hanging with our father one last time.  Kissing his forehead, telling him we loved him and then finally, leaving him to begin the process of mourning.

What happened after that you will not believe.  I’ll share that next week.

In the meantime, enjoy this video I put together with just a few of the moments in that incredible life.  With music, of course, from the Mills Brothers.

God’s peace, dad.

Tim Hunter

Hey, We Elected Them!

I love this city.  Since moving to Seattle in 1973, there are few days that don’t amaze me with its beauty.  Yeah, the traffic continues to worsen, but we’re working on that and everything should be fine in around 245 years.  Patience.

However, I lost some respect for our city leaders this week when I attended a public hearing about a proposed homeless camp at 28th & Market Street in Ballard.  While we don’t live in Ballard, our social life is centered on the many events that take place in that part of town and when and we have lots of friends there.  So, when Victoria suggested we attend this hearing, I was all for it.

As we walked up, there was a huge crowd outside the VFW hall, which, if this camp becomes reality, would border the homeless camp.

The parking lot next to the site was packed

The parking lot next to the site was packed

Now, before we go any further, let me just say that the homeless issue has become very much like politics.  You’re either on one side or the other.  Both sides feel that if you start talking and aren’t reflecting what I feel, then you’re a cold, heartless person or a bleeding-heart idiot.

My feeling is this–the homeless need help.  Not enabling, help to make their lives better.  Some ended up there through bad life choices or bad luck.  They are human beings.  They should get our help.

The rest (and what often seems to be the majority) of them have substance abuse or mental issues and will not get better with a couple of bucks or a tent.  But there’s a sincere if not misguided group of people who feel if we cater to those sleeping on the streets, if we wait on them hand and foot, if we don’t expect them to change but accommodate their lifestyle, then we are doing God’s work. And, of course, it comes back to the point where if you disagree with that, you’re ignorant, afraid, or just aren’t of a higher intelligence.

That’s exactly what happened at the hearing last Monday night.  But let me give you the background of how we got there.

The city of Seattle has decided that a temporary solution to homelessness is to give them a chunk of city land and tents.   Then it proves to the world that Seattle cares.  Just a few of the cracks in the logic of that theory?

There are up to 3,000 homeless in Seattle.  This camp would house 50, as soon as September and for up to two years in a row. Then relocate for a year, followed by up to another two-year engagement.

So, of Seattle’s 3,000 homeless residents, which 50 are going to be lucky enough to get a spot in this little village? Is it some of the existing homeless in Ballard, or a fresh crop to add to the numbers?

Oh, did I mention that the land parcel being considered–owned by Seattle City Light–needs toxic waste cleanup, to the tune of $145,000?  Oh and because City Light owns it, the city would pay to rent the land.

And there was a tree there that mysteriously was cut down, despite an existing city ordinance that supposedly protects healthy trees. The councilman was under the impression that it was an unhealthy tree. But he probably wasn’t counting on that city arborist stepping up to the microphone and saying he felt the tree was healthy and there was no reason to have cut it down.

Unless, maybe, you’re planning to railroad through this plan to turn the lot into a tent city?

Mayor Murray apparently assembled a 19-person panel to select the possible sites for more tent cities, starting with 140 or so and whittling them down to 3 finalists and 4 alternate sites.

You have to wonder how 28th and Market Street was chosen as a ‘preferred’ site? Must be because of the families in the units on the hill above, who would be lucky enough to look down on it every day. Or perhaps the V.F.W. Hall whose parking lot bumps up against the lot. They have major concerns that hall rental income would be greatly reduce when potential renters realize their wedding or reunion guests will have to park right next to a homeless camp.

And did we mention how this site has a liquor store, a convenience store full of high-octane beer and wine and a marijuana store all a block or two away?

While the mayor and the council were invited to this gathering to explain their thinking, only Council member Mike O’Brien was brave enough to show up. Kudos to him. However, it’s probably because he lost a series of coin tosses and was chosen as the council representative to spout the city thinking: People act like this when they’re full of fear (we weren’t) or don’t understand what’s best for the homeless. (Oh, tell us, oh wise and all-knowing ones. We are but ignorant common citizens who cannot think of such clever use of vacant lots).

Dori Monson took on this topic the other day and asked a good question. Since churches have hosted homeless tent villages for years because they’re on private property, why don’t the council members including O’Brien, open up their front and back yards and allow homeless to camp there? In fact, here’s a question—Mr. O’Brien, how close is the nearest homeless tent village to your home? In Ballard?

The point was also made that the homeless have almost become a protected species. Very few are ever arrested for trespassing or public intoxication. The homeless advocates live in a world where people on the street are our fault. Again, I’m very in favor of doing things that will help them get better, recover from their addictions, find their way back. However, the majority of current steps are simply to perpetuate their lifestyle, not remedy it. Add to that, it seems as though word is spreading—come to Seattle and we’ll take care of you!

Instead of thinking that being homeless is unacceptable, it has become a lifestyle.

Let’s take them off the streets for a moment and make them a member of your family. So, Cousin Jake has developed a heroin problem and hasn’t had a job in years. So, the solution is to give him that extra bedroom, bring him food and let him live in your house with your wife and kids? You wouldn’t do that for a family member. So, why would you expect a community to welcome homeless camps with drug deals and God knows what else is going on in there?

Advocates who portray these tent cities as a structured second chance are kidding themselves.

It’s as if these people grew up thinking these people are the lovable hobos like Red Skelton portrayed. Again, there are serious, real hard-luck cases out there that deserve our help. But if Seattle is already spending $20-million a year on homeless issues and things are getting worse, not better, you might think our elected officials might consider a different approach to the problem.

I’ve spoken with several police officers who worked in a community that housed such a tent city. The drug deals, some fights, sex under the local school bleachers….the problems are real, not exceptions.

They need counseling, intervention, therapy AND housing. We, as a society, need to help, not enable. We need to be driven by concern, not political grand-standing and guilt.

For those who are interested, the vice-Mayor of Seattle is going to be at the Leif Erikson Lodge in Ballard next Wednesday night for one more hearing on the topic. It starts at 6:30pm. The hall holds 500 people and I’m expecting it to be packed, so if you’re going, get there early.!

I’m also expecting everything said to fall on deaf ears. Through the back doors, I’ve heard this is a done deal. The camp will go in, regardless of who says what, because they know better.

And remember, we elected them.

Tim Hunter

 

 

 

 

WHEN DID GROWING UP BECOME OPTIONAL?

growup

I look around at the world today and wonder, “When did people stop growing up?”

Maybe when times were tougher, when you had to struggle to just stay alive, people were forced into adulthood and adult behavior.  It wasn’t optional.

I know I can look back on my childhood and recall things that today, I can’t believe I did.  But eventually, you realize there are consequences for your actions.  That if you do this, THAT will probably happen.

As a 6-year-old, I went up to my cousin’s cabin at Big Bear Lake and, in one weekend, ate salmon eggs because I was hungry and started a forest fire.  Oh, the fire fighters showed up almost immediately and it was accidental.  It wasn’t like we were doing it for kicks.  Me and my 7-year-old cousin even built it in a wood box so it wouldn’t spread.

There was the time where we were playing hide ‘n seek at Immanuel Lutheran School in Redondo Beach.  Laurel Schearer was “It”, she saw me and we raced back to the flag pole that was home base.  As she came close to saying, “1-2-3 on Tim” I pushed her in the back.  She fell face-first into the pole and chipped her front tooth.  Why did I do that?  I seriously don’t know, but in the mind of third grader playing hide ‘n seek, it seemed like a reasonable action.

Oh, and while a freshman in high school, I threw a girls’ lunch out the bus window and lost my bus riding privileges for a week.

I’m sure there are lots of other indiscretions  but, over time, they minimize so that they’re reduced to buying a stock that plummets the next day or eating that leftover you knew was probably bad, but you hated to just throw it away.

Now, when I see a Minnesota dentist that, from the outside, seemed like a responsible citizen…but that goes out and kills exotic animals for “sport”…or a professional football quarterback who destroys a cell phone so that we won’t really know what really happened…I’m at a loss.  It’s common for people to think they’re above the law, that it applies to everyone else but them. We see that every day with bicyclists that ignore traffic signals, jaywalkers, people talking on the phones while driving and holding them in their hands, etc.  But when it comes to common decency, how do you evolve to the point where that gets thrown out the window? (like a sack lunch)

I’m not claiming I’m perfect, by any means.  I gave you just a few examples above of some of my failings, but I’m saving the bulk of them for my eventual Encyclopedia of Screw-Ups, Volumes 1-26.   It used to be that “they” were the exception.  Nowadays, they seem to be becoming the rule.  Where the guy who walks into a theater and starts shooting isn’t a punk kid from an out-of-control family, but instead, is a 59-year-0ld drifter that can appear normal enough to go to a local gun store and stock up.

I wonder if this is just a generational thing.  That people in the early 1900s felt the world was falling apart when World War I broke out, or how my parents felt when World War II was underway.  Now, we don’t do official World Wars,  we fight mini-wars here and there and at home.

This wasn’t meant to turn into a rant on any one subject. But I have to say, for all the good there is in the world, it just seems like the bad is on the increase.  Or, maybe that’s just the way it’s always been and always will be.

Or, perhaps, even at my advanced years, I need to grow up just a little bit more.

Tim Hunter

THAT PLAY

The Butler did it!

The Butler did it!

If you’re a Seahawks fan, you know what I mean when I refer to, “that play.”

It wasn’t the last play of the most recent Super Bowl, but it was the play that prevented my beloved Seattle Seahawks from re-Pete-ing as NFL Champions.  It also cemented Tom Brady’s reputation as being one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, even though he had nothing to do with that play.

The Seahawks were less than 3-feet from greatness and being the first back-to-back NFL champions in decades. Just this past week, as the itch for football started reaching a feverish pitch, the results of a new survey came out. “That play” was voted the worst call in professional football ever. EVER! If you want to watch it over and over, torture yourself here.

Here’s what I saw & believe:

  1. It would have been a great call had the element of surprise been there. It wasn’t.
  2. Seattle QB Russell Wilson threw to a spot, leading the receiver towards the goal line. The receiver, Ricardo Lockette, just wasn’t hungry enough to want it.
  3. Not everyone expected Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch to run the ball in for a touchdown. Obviously, New England didn’t.
  4. Malcolm Butler ran from 8 yards behind the line to the exact spot where the ball was thrown. Really? How?
  5. Russell Wilson should have thrown low. If Lockette digs it out and it’s caught, it’s a touchdown. If it’s dropped, the clock stops.
  6. Ricardo Lockette should have gone for the ball, if not to catch it, to make sure it wasn’t intercepted. Watch the tape. He made no such effort.
  7. Former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said, had it been up to him, he would have either had Marshawn run it in or fake him running and have Russell walk the ball in.  Which was pretty much what everyone watching thought would happen.  And, if New England stopped that, they’d cleanly deserve to win.

Where I’m going with this: The “Worst Play of All Time” was either a blunder, a amazing display of psychic anticipation or the result of insider information.

It’s in my belief system that the whole “Deflate-gate” controversy was just the surface. From this side of the country, it appears the New England philosophy is, if you get away with it, it’s legal. I will go out on the skinny branches here and say that New England knew Seattle was going to run that play. They were tipped off, perhaps intercepting a radio communication so they knew exactly what was going to happen.  Or, maybe they aimed a ‘shotgun’ microphone at our sidelines and heard the call.

It’s likely the truth will never be revealed.  But there’s still a part of me that hopes, one day, a UFO will land and a Bigfoot will walk out holding video evidence that New England knew exactly which play we were going to run.

No matter.  The one truth that both sides will agree on–football season is almost here.  It’s been a long off-season and I’m ready.  No more whining.  No more excuses.  Just get back out on the field and give the damn ball to Marshawn!

Go Hawks!

Tim Hunter

12 logo

 

There Is No Cod

Cod

Cod is dead.

The time-honored tradition of the Lutefisk Eating Competition at Seafoodfest in Ballard is over.

When I hadn’t received the call to emcee the championship eating event for this upcoming weekend, I went to the website.  Nothing. So I emailed the Ballard Chamber and they confirmed it: the annual Lutefisk Eating Contest had been scrapped.

It may come back next year, it may not.

Yeah, it gave me something to do and kept me off the streets, but I know there exists a die-hard collection of lutefisk eaters who are going to show up on Saturday and be greatly disappointed.

If you’d like to make a comment to the Ballard Chamber about dropping the competition, I’d suggest you go to their Facebook page by clicking here

Since you will be deprived of witnessing a 2015 edition of this northwest tradition, I offer a collection of “Great Moments” that will live on YouTube forever.

 Here are the finals of the 2009 contest

Who could forget the father and son finale` of 2010?

2011 was a fun year

There was the 2012 return of a past champion

 I’m just not sure I want to be part of a codless society.

 

“Oh, somewhere down in Ballard, yes, the sun is shining bright;

A band is playing somewhere, while some folks drink Bud Light

And one less cod will soak in lye, no need for fans to shout,

There is no joy in Ballard. The mighty lutefisk is out.”

Lutefisk eater

Tim Hunter

 

The Gift

Over a year of planning later, the big weekend had arrived and it was time for my step-son Nick and his fiancé Samantha (“Sam”) to get married.  The rehearsal dinner was awesome. On wedding day, the weather was a tad hot, but nothing could ruin this beautiful celebration held at the DeLille Winery in Woodinville.

The following day, Nick & Sam tore into their wedding presents in front of a small gathering of close family. All went as expected until this one gift.  We’ll continue telling the story after this video.

Recently, while clearing out our downstairs to make way for some plumbing work, I came across a “Photo Carousel.” A wedding gift we had received when we were married almost 8 years ago.  It was a cool piece, but there wasn’t really a place for it in the house.  So, we thought we’d just hang on to it.

When I saw it, I immediately thought how funny it would be to give it to Nick & Sam, but to mess with them a little and say it was from someone named “Carl & Bonnie.”  So, I wrapped it up, bought a card and signed it using a couple of names I was sure wasn’t on their wedding list.

Being a very organized bride, the night before the honeymoon, we got a phone call from the couple trying to figure out who Carl & Bonnie were.  So they wouldn’t waste any of their honeymoon time dwelling on it, I called and did the reveal.

Yeah, I’m a prankster. This is news?

So, once again, congratulations Nick & Sam, on taking the big step.

From all of us.  Including Carl & Bonnie.

Carl & Bonnie, excited they didn't  have to buy a wedding present

Carl & Bonnie, excited they didn’t
have to buy a wedding present

Tim Hunter

Happy Independence Day!

As holidays can become routine, I believe the 2015 version of America’s Independence Day celebration will be remembered for a long time.

If I take a quick stroll down my 4th of July Memory Lane, I’d have to start in Torrance, California, where the most anticipated part of the holiday was going down to the local fireworks stand and buying as many “Safe & Sane” fireworks as possible. Smokey Joes, Piccolo Petes (which, if you clamped them around the P of Pete, they’d whistle, then explode), Snakes, Fountains, Pinwheels and Sparklers.  Our budget always topped out at under $20, enabling dad to repeat that traditional phrase, “I don’t know why we don’t just light a $20 bill on fire.”

I remember one 4th of July being back in South Dakota and visiting relatives and how jealous I was that they could buy firecrackers.  Like 100 of them for $2! How cool was that?

When my teen years arrived, fireworks bans began to show up and I drifted towards the big displays.  In my radio days, a lot of my 4ths were spent at either Gasworks Park or Myrtle Edwards Park along the Seattle waterfront, as the radio station I worked for would be the sponsor and that would mean a day down there, followed by a traffic nightmare getting home.

In time, I would bag out and skip the big display to be able to enjoy the holiday in my cul-de-sac. A spending binge rivaling the Cold War would break out, as neighbors would head up to “Boom City” on the Reservation and bring back weapons that North Korea is not allowed to have.  After a while, the routine was wait until a hint of darkness, start lighting off mortars, Roman Candles and everything that boomed, let them cool down overnight and then get up the next morning and sweep the street. How we managed not to burn down the neighborhood, I’ll never know.

Now that Washington State is one big tinderbox, I’m really good with not lighting anything on fire that could cause an even bigger one.  We might catch a big display, we might not.  The past decade or so, my big thrill is the annual Freedom Festival Parade in little old Bothell.  Nothing fancy, I get to see lots of old friends, the sidewalks are packed and I do the play-by-play on the City Cable Channel for those who want to go back and watch themselves later, or who couldn’t make it.

This is a tradition that has been going on in the city since 1906 and the lawn chairs have been out since Monday to reserve spaces.

Hottest seat in town and not just because of the temperatures.

Hottest seat in town and not just because of the temperatures.

And while this could be routine, this year just feels special.  Temperatures will be around 90-degrees, the Grand Marshalls are the Bothell High School Football Team, which celebrated a state championship last year for the very first time.  The stores had a decorating contest this year and the place just looks festive.  Add to that the holiday this year lands on a Saturday, which means everyone got a Friday off and people are just ready to celebrate.

Our after-parade event has become heading over to Annette & Mike Dwyer, Victoria’s former boss, where we just hang, relax and enjoy the day.  We might head out and catch a display, or maybe just go home and watch the big Seattle show on TV.

If you’re in the area, would love to have you swing by and say hi.  Victoria & I and a few assorted family members will be mid-way on Main Street.  Just look for the TV crew and the scaffolding.

Almost showtime!

Almost showtime!

I hope you and yours enjoy a great, safe Independence Day weekend and that it’s your most memorable one yet.  Oh, and if you have a flag, fly it proudly.

Tim Hunter

Another Family Milestone

It’s the big weekend.

My step-son Nick and his finance` Samantha (“Sam”) make it official this weekend at the DeLille Winery in Woodinville, Washington.

This will be the culmination of over a year of planning, spear-headed by Sam, with exact precision and very calculated planning, using her Microsoft Project Manager experience to the tee.  She set up a website, has speadsheets in the cloud on who’s coming and who couldn’t make it, where they’re coming from, where they’re staying, you name it.  She had the benefit of her twin sister getting married last year, which gave her great perspective on how she wanted their wedding to go.  Usually you plan this and have to settle for that, but Sam has led the charge and made this the wedding of their dreams.

I got to know Nick when he was still living at home after I married his mom 8 years ago.  Wow, 8 years.  He was still in high school, so I got to watch him go through the University of Washington, join a fraternity and become his own person, dealing with challenges, adversity and everything else that comes with college life.  Nick also got to discover the good things, including meeting a remarkable young woman named Samantha.

Nick and Sam have already forged a good life together, with plans for big trips, to eventually buy a home and being awesome owners (more like parents) to their dog, Teddy.

I get to make a toast at the rehearsal dinner Friday night.  I’ll keep it short and sweet with a few laughs, because not much really needs to be said.  They are a couple of wonderful souls, who found each other and have a lifetime of adventure ahead.  What’s not to celebrate?

Congrats, you two!

Love,

Tim Hunter

Happy Whatever Works For You

My dad is 91 years old and has out-lived all of his siblings. He was born in Scotland, came over when he was just 3-years-old, grew up in West Virginia, joined the Navy when World War II broke out, returned home, migrated to California, went to work for United Airlines, worked there 37 years and then retired.  He and mom still live in the same home they bought in Torrance, CA back in 1952.Dad

That’s a capsulized version of his life.  There was so much more, especially when it came to his family. He gave it his all, working his way up at United until he had the day shift. By then, I was old enough to realize what was going on. He played catch with me endlessly in the backyard, even crouching down for hour after hour like a catcher so that I could hone my pitching skills. His often-told story is when I was 10 and hit my first and only Little League home run, he was dealing with the unruly kids in the dugout as our manager and missed the whole thing.

I could write pages about my father and it would all be praise and accolades.  But by the time we’re this old, not all of our friends’ parents are still around.  Some would rather not make a big deal about it, since their dad is no longer with us.

Or, they had a lousy father.  That happens and I know a few people that either never really knew their dad, or wished they hadn’t.  For them, also, the whole Father’s Day deal rubs a little salt in their wounds.

So, I shift my attention to my kids and their peers.  My son-in-law Ryan is a very dedicated dad and his faith and family are number one in his life.  As a father, you just can’t ask for much more.  But then, there are other people my kids’ age who haven’t had kids yet, or have found out that they can’t.  So, they won’t be celebrating this Sunday, either.

I have to admit that being a father, raising two kids and watching them settle into their own lives is one of the most rewarding things I ever did.  If I were to go back and critique how I fulfilled my role, I would get an A for effort.  I was there for a lot of their childhood–every concert, sports practice, game, club meeting, you name it. Getting up at 2:20am and being done most days by noon helped make that happen.

But you just don’t realize how quickly it goes by. How one minute you’re holding your little girl’s hand in a store and the next minute she’s raising a family of her own with two kids.  How you’re shooting hoops with a little guy in the driveway who can barely get the ball in the air and the next thing you know, you’re having beers with a 30-year-old version of him in a tavern.

IMG_9022

I’m grateful for so much when it comes to Father’s Day–for the dad that showed me how, for the experience I so thoroughly enjoyed and to be able to watch the next generation try their hand at it.  But I’ve always been uncomfortable about a day that’s aimed at “honoring” me.  I’m glad and proud to be a dad, but frankly, I should be thanking everyone else.

I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day, either as an appreciator or as a recipient.  For me, it really is a day that should be more about giving thanks, but that name was already taken.

Tim Hunter

Here It Comes Again

Dscf0004

I’m writing on this topic as a way to light a fire under me to make a particular something happen.

Very soon, I’m going to begin a weekly podcast.

Oh, I’ve done it before. It was in 2006. I was in my post-radio reinvention, working at an advertising agency, honing some new skills, but missing those days of broadcasting. It’s really hard to explain how an industry that can toss you away without a care can be so addictive. Maybe it’s like the bronco rider, who just wants to see how long he can stay on. I managed to ride 30 years and only get bucked off twice, ending up in a better position each time.

But I’ve seen so many broadcasting brothers and sisters kicked around by the biz. I’ve told some of them I feel lucky that I was able to be a part of my generation’s “Golden Age” of radio in Seattle. There was inventiveness, competition, fresh ideas, big stunts—all things missing from today’s watered-down version of that medium. Or, is it a large? But, I digress…

I was part of the Larry Nelson break-out era at KOMO, when we went from a sleepy Middle-of-the-Road format to a little-more-awake Full Service format. Then, I went over to KLSY and spent the next 19 years of my broadcasting career in their 3 buildings. We started in the Main Place in downtown Bellevue…wandered over to the building next to the Bellevue School District, just about The Butcher…and ended up in the current facilities in Factoria.

The “competition” was Ichabod, Bob Rivers, Charlie & Ty, The I-Guys, Ryan & Ryan, Kent & Alan and lots more that escape my immediate memory.  There was some great radio in town.

When the Murdock, Hunter and Alice thing blew up in 2003, I snuck into The Wolf, doing weekends and fill-in for just under a year, which gave me the country music experience and to meet Fitz, Possom, Woj and Wingnut. Sure, I was able to take part in some fun events, occasionally hearing from a former listener…but talking over intro’s just wasn’t the same as being part of a morning show. So, I let go.

After a couple of years of writing and working my way into an advertising agency, I decided to launch a podcast. Hey, why not? So, in late 2006, I started putting together these various-length montages of bits from my KQOT, KMWX, KOMO and KLSY years, plus some new things I put together.

Then I met a girl. And my priorities shifted.

Almost 9 years after the initial episodes, I’ve decided it’s time to get back into it. I still have that radio itch, but the instability of the business has caused it to lose its appeal. I used to think, “Oh, podcasts are for raging ego’s who just need to hear themselves talk” and that may be true.  But I believe the formula I’ve put together acts like a time capsule, allowing me to share & preserve some of the fun from my radio past.

So, if you’d like to explore the first 11 podcasts, you’ll find them here on my SoundCloud page. I’ll do my best to keep them entertaining and surprise you with an occasional guest or two. It’s been a busy life lately, but I hope to get this back into a fun routine.  Soon.

Wish me luck and thanks for the read.

Tim Hunter

Creating Another Memory Time Capsule

This week in the news, some southern California beaches had been closed–the very ones I use to play on when I was a kid–because of “tar balls” that had washed ashore.

That triggered a stroll down memory lane and a few cul-de-sacs along the way.

You see, growing up in Torrance in the 1960s, our family found its way to the beach quite often.  Most times it was mom, my sisters and me, laying on the sand, jumping into the ocean to cool down, putting a little more zinc oxide on the nose, then back to the water to ride an air mattress or paddle board.  Eventually, as I got older, skim boards came into play.  I even made my own in wood shop. Some of my friends took up surfing, but I just didn’t have a spare $50 or enough of an interest to pursue the sport.

Growing up on the sand, you learn not to run near other people’s towels, don’t mess around too much during lunch or you’ll get sand in your food, be sure to wash the sand off your feet up at the showers on the way to the car and, once home, hold your feet up for mom to inspect.  If there were blobs of tar (and it happened more times than not), mom or dad would get a rag, pour on a little paint thinner and then wipe it off.

That was the norm.  Tar balls on the beach?  Aren’t all beaches like that?

It got me to thinking back to that time and just how much the world has changed since then.  When I played outside with my friends, some days we’d have to take breaks because our lungs burned. Yeah, the smog was pretty bad back then.  Again, I just assumed it was that way everywhere.

Nope, this was the Los Angeles area in the early 1960s.  We had only one neighbor with a color TV and they were nice enough to invite us over one New Year’s Day to watch the Rose Parade–in color!

Hey, it's Uncle Walt!

Hey, it’s Uncle Walt!

It wasn’t until I was older that I found out “The Wizard of Oz” wasn’t entirely done in black and white.  We had stores like Thrifty, where you could go in and get an ice cream cone for a nickel.  Want a triple scoop?  Oh, that’ll cost you 15-cents. There were stores like Zody’s, Woolworth and White Front, now long gone.

The more I thought about that time, the more memories of the way things used to be came to mind. I guess that happens when you’ve carved out almost 60 years on this planet.  There were “party lines”, where several families shared the same telephone exchange. You could pick up the phone to make a call, hear voices talking and then hang up until they were done.

I remember McDonald’s hamburgers going for 19-cents.  Go to Der Wienerschnitzel and you could get 5 hot dogs, your choice of regular, mustard or chili, for a buck.

I was doubly-blessed when it came to baseball because I had baseball-fan parents, who never missed a game.  Back then, only a few games were on TV, so most evenings were spent listening to Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett on the radio.  During that decade, the Los Angeles Dodgers went to the World Series three times, winning twice.  I grew up assuming that your team usually went to the World Series.

I asked for a recorder one Christmas and got a little reel-to-reel machine.  I recall my mom going back and getting her high school degree when I was a kid (I still remember going to her graduation), because when growing up, her parents felt they needed her on the farm more than she needed to go to high school.

No, there weren’t wagon trains passing through town and Lindbergh had already made his trans-Atlantic flight.  But the world was a much different place when I was growing up.  As fast as technology and the pace of the world is moving, my kids are pretty much able to say similar things about when they grew up and that was just a couple of decades ago.

I’ve never been much of an oldies music fan.  That being said, I loved the music I grew up with and those great memory-filled songs of my college years.  However, that’s why I like to only listen to them occasionally.  That way, when I hear them, it’s special and it stirs up a flood of memories which, like an old friend, is great to see again.  I know way too many people in my age group who latched on to a time in their life and basically, their life froze.  There are too many new things to do, to learn about, to discover.

The past is a fun place to visit, I just don’t want to live there.

This quick trip back brought to you by the makers of tar balls and the smell of paint thinner.

We now return you to the present.

Tim Hunter

 

 

 

A Little Late to the Farewell Party

David Letterman’s last “Late Night” show was over a week ago.  I taped it, watched it, enjoyed it.  It was a nice chunk of television history and a glance back at some of the fun he brought to television over a 38 year span.  Pretty darn impressive.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that last week was more about the King of Norway than about the King of Late Night.  Well, the last reigning King of Late Night.  Jay Leno had stepped down the year before.  Johnny Carson had handed off “The Tonight Show” to Jay instead of Dave, which sparked years of controversy over who was better; who was funnier; who was the better late night host.

The simple truth of the matter is that it’s the classic apples versus oranges–which one do you like better?  One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but opinions run strong.  Letterman people seemed to despise Leno, while Leno people just didn’t seem to get Dave.

Years ago, before he took over the Tonight Show, Jay Leno was a stand-up comedian.  Another stand-up, Frank King, found himself bumping into Jay on the comedy circuit and they got to know each other.  When Jay ascended to the NBC throne, Frank asked Jay if he could shoot some jokes his way.  Jay said, “Sure!  Here’s my fax number!”

And so White Collar Comedy was born.  Each day, Frank would write some jokes, submit them and, if Jay used one, it meant a check was in the mail for $50.  In time, Frank added a former writer for the Pat Sajak Show, Pat Gorse.

This is where I came in.

While at KLSY, the Smooth Jazz morning show guy was Matt Riedy, another former stand-up, who had worked with Frank.  One day, he suggested I reach out to Mr. King about submitting the jokes I had been writing for the Murdock, Hunter & Alice Show.  Thus began a 10-year run as a Tonight Show “fax comedian.”   Pat, Frank and I would compile our jokes in one fax, Jay would give them a read and if he liked ’em, he used ’em.  No credit, but eventually the bounty went up to $75 per joke.  Plus, I got to hear Jay tell one of my jokes, often word for word as submitted.

Then, one week, our little trio sold around 7 jokes in one day.  Our theory is that Jay’s union writers complained about using so many jokes from the fax machine over their jokes and we were dismissed.  Just like that.

I know during his final couple of years, Jay bought jokes from another local funny guy, Pedro Bartes from the Bob Rivers Show.   A big believer in things happening for a reason, I decided I had a taste of writing for people exposed to a national audience, so I continue to contribute gags to ventriloquist Mark Merchant, the comic strip “Dustin” and political cartoonist Steve Kelley.  I would be remiss in not mentioning Ima Norwegian or Radio Online Daily Show Prep.

Back to David Letterman.  Dave, I respected the heck out of you and that show of yours, but if I had to make a choice on who the better late night host was, I’d have to go with Jay.  For two main reasons:

  1. Jay bought quite a few jokes from me.
  2. I once submitted an application to write for you—jokes, a top ten list, filled out the whole application completely–and all I got was a “Thanks for your submission” form rejection letter, which I still have packed away in a box in the basement somewhere.

Yeah, I’m pretty transparent.

But nice job anyway, Dave!

Tim Hunter

 

 

READY WORLD?

I’ve never met a world leader.

Probably, the closest I ever came was to be within 25-feet of someone who eventually became a world leader.

It was 1966. I was 11-years-old, had my Sears version of a Sting Ray bicycle and was fearless. It was a time when kids could run around Southern California without fear of ending up as a storyline on C.S.I. or Cold Case. We’d do what kids do until Kelly Toman’s dad put his fingers together and let out that dinner whistle around 6 o’clock. That was our cue that another day of playtime was nearing the end and we’d all scatter home.

One Saturday that year, my friends all seemed to be busy doing other things and so I found myself on my own, riding my bike. I had heard that a guy who was once a Hollywood actor was running for governor and he was going to be over in the Sears parking lot, around 4 blocks from where we lived. On a bike, that was just two minutes away.

So, I rode over and there, standing on the back of a flatbed truck, decorated with lots of red, white and blue, was none other than Ronald Reagan. OK, I saw him. I listened for a while. I even got pretty close to get a good look. Then, I grabbed a couple of buttons and bumper stickers and rode towards home.

Yeah, one of those!

Yeah, one of those!

Flash forward to this week. I now live in Seattle, Washington, and thanks to my wife and her many Norwegian activities, I’ve been invited to three different affairs this Friday, where I will be in the same vicinity as the King of Norway, Harald the 5th.

It begins at a barbecue, followed by a gathering in a nearby Norwegian-themed park and then, it’s off to the formal dinner at the Seattle Sheraton. One of my Norwegian buddies suggested I get a press pass, so I could take lots of pictures, which I would have been doing anyway. But that should give me great access to capture some pictures of this momentous occasion. I’m particularly anxious to grab lots of shots of my wife Victoria who, thanks to her involvement in restoring the mural at Bergen Place Park, actually gets to introduce and shake the hand of said king.

It’s going to be a very special day for all of us and I really don’t want to do anything that might ruin it for everyone, especially my wife. I promise I won’t point out he spells his name wrong.  I won’t ask what the V stands for in Harald V.  And I’m definitely NOT showing up on my Sting Ray bike. Although, I admit, the idea did cross my mind.

If it was up to me....

If it was up to me….

Wish me luck! Pictures to follow on Facebook and maybe a few special ones posted here next week.

Hip, hip, hoorah!

Tim Hunter

Our Ever-Shrinking World

Yeah, just try to not that song in your head now....

Yeah, just try to not get that song stuck in your head now….

Once each month, Victoria, my wife, leads volunteers in cleaning Bergen Place Park in Ballard, a Seattle suburb with Scandinavian roots.  Of course, I tag along to help.

During our most recent cleaning party, I heard her calling my name.  I looked up and she was standing next to some guy I’d never seen before.  There was an introduction, the mention of his connection to her, but apparently back in the day, they went to Ballard High School together.  “Interesting,” I replied.

“But he’s actually here to meet you.”

Huh?

It seems that Ed Henry (Ed, if I don’t remember your last name correctly, I apologize—I had a rake and a dustpan in my hands as we talked and didn’t write it down) was a long-time reader of this blog.  Oh sure, it’s one thing to say it.  But Ed started citing certain stories I’ve done over the years, like the one I did on the passing of Joe South. Yeah, you’d have to dig deep in the archives, but it’s there.

Now, let’s take this up a notch.  He was up visiting his mom in Everett, but he actually lived in Paraguay.  Once each week, 6,444 miles away, he reads my latest blog entry.  He commended me on how much of life was contained in these writings and it was from them that he knew about the monthly work parties at Bergen Place Park.  He had simply stopped by to say hi and let me know he was out there, apologizing if he seemed like some kind of stalker.

I said, “Of course not!”   At least, I think that’s what I said.  He’s outside on the front lawn.  Is that right, Ed?   He said, “Yes.”

Truly, I was flattered beyond words.  So I’d just like to promise Ed and any of my other faithful readers returning each week that I will never settle for anything less than mildly amusing in all my future writings.

Thanks for being out there.

 Tim Hunter

 

 

OK, Playtime Is Over

Seattle has earned the reputation of being too nice, too accommodating when it comes to anarchists.

So, unlike most major cities in the U.S., when May 1st rolls around, we allow our downtown area to be held hostage by a large collection of thugs wearing masks, throwing rocks, bottles and anything they can get their hands on at p0lice, buildings and other public and private property.  All in the name of “punishing corporations.”

It’s time to stop tolerating this coward’s party.  Yes, you’re mighty brave behind that black mask, hanging around a bunch of like-minded morons.  Obviously mommy and daddy told you to be you, to be “the best anarchist you can be” and after a night of destruction, there’s probably a nice plate of milk and cookies waiting for you at home in your basement room.

As you might pick up, I’m done.  I’m embarrassed.  For as much as I like to brag about my adopted home town, when the 1st of May rolls around and Seattle tolerates this kind of destruction–when businesses have to close early out of fear what might happen to them or their employees–that’s nothing short than legitimized terrorism.

You have the absolute right to peacefully protest.  This country was built on that right.  Spraying buildings with graffiti, breaking out the windows of a news car, carrying a rifle into a crowd (yes, there was a guy that was interviewed on TV), ALL are not protected under the U.S. Constitution.

So, I have solutions.  I have thoughts.  I have ideas on how best to deal with this problem to greatly reduce the number of participants every year.  See what you think.

1) Every police officer on duty that night wears camera vests.  That way, when you’re arrested and taken to trial, we’ll have video proof of which crime you so boldly committed while wearing your mask.

2)  Police snipers are set up where ever the crowd gets out of control.  They take their position, armed only with paint guns and when they see someone break a window, the sharpshooter nails the perpetrator with a paint gun ball.  He’s marked, police arrest anyone marked with paint gun stains, and we make the largest arrest of unruly protesters in May Day history.

3)  Besides the sharp-shooters—more video cameras, to capture the broad scene for further prosecution.

You wouldn’t have to do this every year.  One out of three.  Or as needed.  Once this happens in Seattle, like rats when their safe hangout is disrupted, these thugs will find another city to target.  Although, I believe this model could prove effective for almost any city.

I’m all about peaceful protests.  There were several of those in Seattle yesterday as part of May Dy. But being destructive for misguided reasons is NOT an excuse.  We’re standing up to bullying in our schools.  It’s time to take that cause to the streets.

Besides, threatening police lives should be a crime.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it is.

May Day Seattle

My final suggestion. The parents of anyone arrested for causing damage to property will be invoiced for compensation.  You turned out this gem of a human being, so you get to pay for them. Either that, or we bring out that mom from Baltimore and turn her loose for a couple of ass whoopin’s.

Mr. Mayor or Seattle Police, if you need any more suggestions, please reach me at my usual number.

Tim Hunter

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

"A good deed, eh?"

“A good deed, eh?”

For years, my broadcast partner Bruce Murdock would say that phrase at the appropriate time.  It happened enough that, eventually,  I found myself saying, “Well, no good deed goes unpunished!”

11 years after our last broadcast together, those words resurfaced last week.

I had gone to a small coffee shop in Edmonds for a new business meeting.  Being the first to arrive, I went ahead and ordered my usual–a tall non-fat latte.  I waited….and waited….and then, finally asked the barista, “Uh, my drink?”  Somehow, in the rush between me and the other customer, the order had gotten lost.  Apparently, to make up for the error, they served up my drink quickly and extra hot.  Now, I had to wait for it to cool down.  While I waited, my co-worker showed up, noticing that the coffee shop closed in 20 minutes.  That wouldn’t work for our meeting.

So, before the client arrived, we regrouped at a restaurant across the street.  That meant taking my coffee out to the car.  I certainly wasn’t going to go into the restaurant with coffee from somewhere else, so I took a sip and hoped it would still be hot by the time our meeting was over.

It wasn’t. Lukewarm, at best.  Oh well, I probably should cut back on the caffeine anyway.  On the way home, I decided to run a couple of errands and for every store that I visited, I contemplated getting rid of the coffee.  But then, it would have just headed to the landfill.  If I just waited and took it home, I could put the coffee and paper cup into the food compost container, and the plastic lid in the recycle container.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what they call, a ‘good deed.’

When I arrived home, I lifted up the unwanted beverage and sure enough, the very hot coffee combined with sitting in a paper container for several hours meant that, at the very second it was directly over my lap, the bottom gave out and I was soaked.

I cleaned it up as best I could, but the stale coffee smell is still there, serving as an aromatic reminder of those words, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

For those who have been on Pirates at the Caribbean at Disneyland, remember the talking skull and crossbones, right before you go down the waterfalls?  You know, the one saying, “Dead men tell no tales?”  In my head—its the same voice.

“No good deed goes unpunished….”

Tim Hunter

Later Than The Late

mime funeral

Earlier this month, we received an announcement in the mail.  The man who had paid for my step-daughter’s education at Seattle University and her first year at Bastyr University, had died.

He was a well-to-do eastside businessman, who decided to reinvest some of his money into helping people make more of their lives.  Somehow, he became aware of Kjersti’s promise and so, he covered her SU tuition.  It was a very generous and noble thing to do.

So, when the announcement came from his widow and we learned of a memorial service at the Bear Creek Country Club on April 18th, my wife felt a strong calling to attend that service.  I would go along for support.  We read in the program sent to us that Tim Eyman was going to be the main speaker.  By the sounds of it, it was going to be quite the gathering of the who’s who of area conservatives.

The morning came, Kjersti was unable to attend because of teaching a class, but Victoria and I headed out to Woodinville.  We were running behind, so I picked up the pace as best I could.  We still arrived there a few minutes after noon, hopped out of the car and dashed up towards the clubhouse.

Nothing.  No signs of where the memorial was being held.  In the main dining hall, staff was setting up for a wedding reception.  The head of catering was busy and said that he would get to us in a few minutes, which went even longer.  It was then I said, “I’ll run out to the car and re-read the program.”

I got to the car, read the date and location carefully again.  Yep, April 18th.  Bear Creek Country Club, check.  Oh, wait.  The important detail we had failed to notice on the program—April 18th, 2014.

Yes, on the one-year anniversary of his passing, his widow had sent the funeral notice to us.  Probably taking care of loose ends, thinking Victoria and Kjersti would want to see it and most likely wondering why they hadn’t been there a year ago.

For the record, we were there–exactly one year after the service.

As for being late to events, I now have a new personal best and a feeling that record might just stand for a while.

Tim Hunter

Announcing the 2016 Presidential Campaign Sweepstakes

edimage

Greetings Facebook friends!

I’m standing on my blog soapbox today to announce an exciting new contest–the first-ever, Tim Hunter Presidential Campaign Sweepstakes.

Here’s how it works: you post something on Facebook extremely negative, nothing more than partisan poison being passed around by the side that knows better and I ‘unfriend’ you.

That’s it!  Pretty darn simple, huh?

I already know what’s coming.  The negative ads that take vague swipes at candidates using half-truths, quarter-truths and close-enough-truths invading my favorite TV and radio shows.  You know the ones I’m talking about—filled with an arrogant attitude that if you believe my way, you’re smart and if you’re opposed to it, you’re an idiot.

Just today, a very vicious attack on Hillary Clinton made it into my feed, which was just two news stories away from a childish name-calling meme about Ted Cruz.

This just in–it’s not funny, it’s not entertaining, it’s not what I want to be subjected to over the next year and a half.  Funny is one thing (and I actually know a thing or two about funny), but when all you’re doing is saying to your fellow D’s and R’s out there, “Hey, look!  I called him a Poopy Pants! Ha!” and you find that entertaining?  Let’s just say I’ve evolved.

In fact, I’m proud of the fact that I don’t vote party.  At this particular point in time, there is no one aside from Morgan Freeman that I feel is real presidential material out there.

So, back to the rules of the game.  Get it all out of your system between now and midnight.  Because as of April 15th, 2015, make a snide political comment or post a caustic partisan piece on this guy’s Facebook feed and we will be disconnected.  I’ll consider reconnecting after November of next year, but not until then.

It’s a free country, for both of us.  You have the right to be a raging partisan, but the constitution also allows me to confine my Facebook feed to beer bellied bicycle crashes and cats playing pianos.

Have a great election!  Oh, and congratulations to all of our winners.

Tim Hunter

If Pipes Could Talk

Lousy artist's conception of what The Talking Pipe looked like.

Lousy artist’s conception of what The Talking Pipe looked like.

Last week, I bared my soul about a sensitive topic.  It’s an issue on which people have very strong stands and it’s entirely possible, I may have offended at least a couple of folks along the way.

If you didn’t have the chance to read it and be offended, you’ll find it immediately below this one.

These blogs are a bit of a time capsule.  The world is an ever-evolving place, and I consider these ramblings to be a scrapbook of thoughts that I hope live on the Internet long enough for future generations to learn from them.

As I approach my 60th birthday, I feel very fortunate to have already experienced so many things that anyone under 40 find hard to comprehend.  There was a time when TV was only black & white, telephones were tied to walls and had rotary dials and party lines.  The number of TV stations was in single digits. Stores were closed on Sundays.  Yeah, it was that kind of world.

Coming off such a serious topic last week, I really wanted to keep it as light as possible this week.  So, I sat back, let the mind wander a bit and then, I managed to extract this little gem from the depths of my memory bank—the Talking Pipe.

The what?

I grew up in Torrance, California, now famous for being the home of Louis Zamperini.  During my high school years (at the same school Louis attended, just a couple of years later) Friday nights after the football game meant driving up to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, looking out over the city lights and enjoying some romantic moments with your favorite girl.

One of the secret little hideouts for teenagers was a dead-end street, which became famous among necking circles for being the home of The Talking Pipe.  It was a large steel pipe (thus, part of the name) that protruded out of the ground, about four feet tall.  If you walked up to it and put your ear near the opening, you would hear voices.  Nothing you could make out, but they were definitely muffled voices.  Every time we performed this ritual, the pipe “talked”, just as the legend claimed.

Of course, since then, with only the slightest of mental effort, we figured out that this pipe sticking out of the ground high on a hill acted as an antenna.  Because of its location to a nearby news station’s broadcasting tower, the broadcast signal was picked up and sounded as though it came from deep inside the pipe.

Mystery solved. However, The Talking Pipe is one of those high school experiences I remember fondly. 

Almost as fondly as what happened in the car afterwards.

Tim Hunter

 

 

 

We’ll Have a Gay Old Time

There was a time where that was a line from the theme song from “The Flintstones.” Or when we sang “Now we don our gay apparel” and didn’t give a second thought.

This week, when Indiana made it legally OK for someone to not conduct business with a person because they were against homosexuality, it’s forcing this person to speak his mind.

I have very conservative friends. Good friends, even relatives who are opposed to gay people being able to live their lives because of religious beliefs.

I just want to scream. But instead, I’ll write.

First off, it’s God’s job to judge, not ours.

Secondly, let’s say it’s legal to not conduct business with people because you disapprove of a lifestyle or religious belief. We might as well make it easy for you to discriminate. After all, there are a lot of gay people who don’t “look gay.” What about those sneaks who could be gay but appear heterosexual? Or, if a gay guy is with his sister and so you mistake them for a heterosexual couple? Let’s see….a scarlet letter goes back way too far. I seem to remember one country that forced people to get serial numbers tattooed on their arms for easy identification. I guess we’ll let the Indiana legislature figure that one out.

To my relatives and friends who feel there is no wiggle room on this issue because of what’s said in the Bible, let’s get into that. You quote verses you that you claim support the notion that homosexuality is “clearly a sin.” So, it’s sinners that you have a problem, or simply that particular sin? According to the most recent U.S. census, the number of sin-free people living in our country was….zero. But if you’re avoiding contact with sinners, then you probably better have on your list: liars, cheaters, the people having affairs, those living together “in sin” without the institution of marriage, the people full of hate (“love thy neighbor”) and the list goes on and on.

Also, if you’re using selected Bible verses to condemn gays, here are a few others that you’ll want to get to know:

  • “But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head…” 1 Corinthians 11:5 (been in a church without a hat?)

  • “But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.” Leviticus 12:5   (Have a daughter who gives birth to a girl, she’ll be unclean for 66 days)

  • “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.” Leviticus 20:9 (If your kid swears at you, game over)

  • “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.” Mark 9:43 (There was a guy at the UW in the dorms I lived that dropped acid one night and took that one literally. Yep, sawed it off)

 

Or wait—are you saying only certain parts of the Bible apply and you get to choose which ones?

Finally, there are gay people in the world. They’re that way. I have many gay friends, know gay couples and this just in from the newsroom—we’ve had gay relatives on both sides of the family! Sadly, most of them lived a closeted life from the rest of the family because of the possible lack of understanding.

There are so many things wrong in this wacko world—pilots crashing jets full of people into mountains, religious fanatics cutting off heads and putting it on the Internet in the name of their god. If you’re personally opposed to the concept of being gay, no one is asking you to sign up or join a club. I’m far from a spokesman, but from what I’ve seen, the vast majority of gay people just want to live their lives and be happy.

If you’re still a fan of legalizing discrimination, our country’s political system gives you that opportunity. But when it’s your time to face God, be sure to allow a little extra time for the explaining you’ll have to do.

One last thought–Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.  Good luck on those two ever being able to order a pizza in Indiana.

Tim Hunter

Jesus

The Silence Grows

Just a week ago, I attended the memorial service for longtime Seattle news guy, Jim Kampmann.  He was honored well, with a huge turnout at Holy Family Church in Auburn.  Jim spent 17 years in rock radio as the edgy voice of authority, while I got to know him during the next 17 years of his life that he spent as a Green River Community College Radio teacher and nice guy news presence on KIXI & KLSY.  “Kampy” as he was known, became more thoughtful, caring and reflective as the years rolled by.  Sadly, it’s been probably a decade since I last saw him.  A lot of people commented they hadn’t seen him in a while, but it says volumes when you leave that kind of imprint on people’s lives.  There are some wonderful photos of him on his Facebook Memorial Page and, because it doesn’t hurt to give it a plug, they’ve established a GoFundMe page for the Kampmann kids to cover college.  Any little bit helps.

I was blessed to have met Jim, to have gotten to know him and follow his life adventures and misadventures.  To those who didn’t have the pleasure of meeting him, I offer a couple of clips.  Here’s a commentary he did during his tenure at Sandusky radio. And there’s this wonderful collection that John Maynard and friends put together.

However, brace yourself before watching this.  It’s a behind the scenes look at Jim and really gives you a glimpse at the tremendous human being we lost.  That was Kampy.

Just this morning, I found out about the loss of another Seattle radio voice.  Former Smooth Jazz-kateer Cedric James lost his fast and ferocious battle against lung cancer.  Cedric & I worked in the same building over there in Factoria, but most of our encounters were a quick “Hey!” while passing in the halls of Sandusky. He was a Smooth Jazz guy, I was a goofball over at KLSY.  After we both ‘retired’, we connected on Facebook and stayed in touch over the years.

On March 6th, he shared the news that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.  All too reminiscent of my late broadcast buddy, Larry Nelson.  He announced the diagnosis on Facebook and kept his friends and followers updated on his condition.  Just this past Tuesday, he made his last post:

“I have reached the end of the crossroads and it’s time to make the decision. I am headed for hospice. It is time to die peacefully. My oxygen intake is facing slowly and the doctors are chasing the answer. As a result, I am pulling the plug and preparing for the end. Some time in the next week. I bid you all peace and love. May the Devine white light of mother and father God shine on your heart as it has shined on me. Amen.”

A few hours ago, his son, Cedric Jr., posted this message:

“I am sorry to inform you all of this not so great news. My father did not make the night. He passed away and he went in his sleep.”

I look back on my 30+ years in radio and have lots of fond and not-so-fond memories.  But I have to say, some of the people I met along the way were nothing less than amazing. Unique. Characters.

And now, there are two less characters in my story.  Gentlemen, I look forward to seeing you both again some day. God’s peace to both of you.

Tim Hunter

Not As Crazy As I Seem

A police artist's sketch of the suspects

A police artist’s sketch of the suspects

There have been times I’ve wondered, “When you go crazy, do you know it?  Are there warning signs or do you just wake up one morning and proclaim yourself King of the Butterflies?”

I ask this, because of an incident that innocently began back in January.

I saw this Groupon for personalized M&Ms.  With not only the anniversary of the day we met coming up, plus Valentine’s Day, I figured that would be a nice gift for one of those days, depending on whether they arrived in the mail.

So, I bought the Groupon, went to the M&Ms website, uploaded a picture of us and placed the order.  I gotta say, by the time everything was done, even with the Groupon these bags of chocolates decorated with our picture cost about as much as a dozen roses flown in fresh from Brazil by a guy named Juan on a Lear jet….on Valentine’s Day!

But I thought it would be fun.  Different.  So, I sat back and waited for them to arrive.

I remembered buying the M&Ms the week prior to the anniversary of the day we met.  They had not yet arrived. Valentine’s Day approached, so I made dinner reservations and bought a card.  I was sure they’d show up by then.  They didn’t.

So I wrote to M&Ms and asked, “What happened?”   I didn’t hear back.  Then I remembered the confirmation email saying I could track my order.  They said those special M&Ms with our picture on it had been delivered.

Now, I’m second-guessing myself.  Did they arrive and I hid them until one of the big days?  I emptied out t-shirt drawers, sock drawers, checked inside shoes….all the places I would stash something for later, to maintain the surprise.  Nothing.

Then I wondered if they had been stolen. You always hear about someone’s package arriving, and right behind the FedEx or UPS guy, a robber walks up to the porch and steals your goods.  They must have been after me M&Ms!!!! (yes, I meant to say ‘me’. I was having a Lucky Charms moment)

It’s now been over a month since I had hoped to surprise Victoria with these custom candies.  Not a day goes by that I don’t second-check a cabinet or a desk drawer.

This morning, the phone rang at 7am.  It was a toll-free number.  Gee, the telemarketers are starting early today.  However, for some reason, I decided to go ahead and answer it.  It was the M&M people.  First, they confirmed all my information.  Then they informed me that my order had slipped through the cracks and was never filled.  They apologized profusely (just shy of any kind of refund) and promised they would put a rush on this order and have it out to me tomorrow.  Yep, one day service.

I have to admit, I was talking myself into taking the blame for this one.  Their website said the candies were delivered.  I imagined that I had probably opened the order and quickly hidden them away.  I even pictured what the package probably looked like and that, in time, I would stumble across a moldy pile of rock-hard chocolates in one of the best present hiding spots ever.

So many times, things like this happen and you never learn the story.  I can’t be mad. In fact, I’m somewhere between relieved and happy.  I’m taking great comfort, knowing that I’m not losing my mind and going crazy. At least not yet.

I’d love to continue, but apparently my subjects are awaiting a speech from me out in the Butterfly Garden.

Tim Hunter

GIVING APPRAISAL WHERE APPRAISAL IS DESERVED

I made it. I crossed the finish line. The long personal nightmare is over.

I sold my home in Bothell.

It was a great home, a rambler, backed up against a greenbelt in the highly-desired Northshore School District. I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up with all that’s going on in Bothell, but that city is being transformed. I found out at a Bothell Chamber board meeting this week that the new McMenamin’s complex opens up October 15th of this year. With all that’s going on, property values in Bothell are sure to go up.

When I bought my home there, the year was 2006. House prices were escalating and I figured if I didn’t buy now, it wouldn’t be long until I couldn’t afford to live there. So, I locked in the house at $367,000 and settled in.

Without going into details (because you know them all too well), the housing market crashed. When my new wife and I decided we needed a larger house, I tried to sell the Bothell home. However, prices were falling faster than Howie Mandel’s hair.

So, I turned it into a rental. But from the time I started renting it until the last tenant moved out, I was anywhere from $300-$500 under what the mortgage payments were. Each year I hung on, it cost me up to $6,000 to keep it. I rented it for 8 years. Don’t do the math, it’s depressing.

That isn’t to say I didn’t seriously considering doing a short sale—letting the banks take the hit, not me. Sure, my credit would be dismal for a few years, but that would certainly be better than losing all that money.

However, it just wasn’t the right thing to do. I’m no saint, but if there’s a right way to do things, I usually try my best to make it happen. So, I continued to take the beatings, year after year, hoping that someday the market would turn around.

When my last renter gave notice they were leaving at the end of the year, that was the kick in the butt to make a run at selling it. I poured another $6,000 into new carpeting, painting, repairs, etc. Paid to have it landscaped, paid to have it staged…

My efforts paid off!   The hot market combined with all the nice touches inspired 30 couples to pass through during that first open house and by the end of the day, I had three offers, two over the asking price. The top bid–$380,000!

This usually is where the theme music builds, the credits start rolling and we all savor a happy ending.

But enter the appraiser from hell, Allan Mankis with Everbank.

If you get an appraisal of the asking price, it’s smooth sailing through the financing seas. If not, there’s trouble.   Allan’s appraisal of the house came in at $3,000 less than asking.

The way it works these days (post-housing crash) is that you don’t have any say in who gets selected for the appraisal. Apparently, there were a lot of generous appraisers boosting values of homes that helped fuel the housing price increases.

OK, I get it. We all learned.

But now, there are a few cowboys who feel it’s their job to wrangle prices in. We’ve returned to a seller’s market, where bidding wars occur and values are heading up again.

It would be easy to dismiss my views as being personal and “my opinion.” But here are just some of the facts that Mr. Mankis conveniently ignored:

  • Home values and prices were escalating everywhere, not just in my neighborhood.
  • Watch the evening news every once and a while and you’ll hear there’s a low inventory out there.
  • ‘Comps’ are supposed to be comparisons of similar homes AND recent sales prices.
  • The $330K home that was used as a comp was sold LAST AUGUST. Hmmm….do you think house prices have gone up since then?
  • A  smaller 1248 square foot rambler that sold in the neighborhood last October for $372,000 was mysteriously left out of the appraisal as a comparable. Isn’t that convenient?
  • Included in the comparison: a tri-level. So now, tri-levels and ramblers are pretty much equal when making appraisals? Good to know.
  • He made comments in the report about the updated windows not adding any value compared with homes who still have their original aluminum windows from the 80’s. Really? New triple-pane windows add no value over the aluminum windows of three decades ago? I must notify the utilities and window manufacturers immediately.
  • He also ignored that I had forced-air gas heat, which apparently had no added value over electric baseboard heat. His removal from reality rivals “The Matrix.”
  • He included pictures of “Toilet in the hall” and “Bathroom to be repaired”. Ya think? When the inspector noticed some minor water damage (caused by water that splashed out of the shower and NOT a leaky toilet) I went the extra distance and had it over-repaired by a licensed and bonded handyman. Ripped out the old linoleum, installed new, reseated the toilet and $1100 later, the bathroom was like new. It was a two day project and when does the appraiser come? A half hour before the handyman came to make the final repairs on day 2.
  • He pointed out a broken board in the deck. It must have happened during one of the open houses. Funny, but the inspector didn’t even mention it when he looked at the house. It was a broken board that someone had punched through. I replaced it, (and had done several hundred dollars’ worth of repairs on that deck as well prior to his visit) but Mr. “I’m going to make this house look as bad as possible” showcased it.
  • Comments I heard from several real estate people when I was telling them of this nightmare: “They like to play God.” “He had clear stats that could have easily brought the value to the agreed-on sales price.”

In spite of his negative comments and off-base personal opinions expressed in the appraisal, the buyers and their agent were fine. They knew better. Everyone knew better, which is what drove the price up so high. It is a seller’s market.

Apparently, this appraiser goes to the gas station each week to fill up his vehicle and refuses to accept that the prices have gone up.

His appraisal came in $3,000 less than the $369,000 asking price, which affected the financing and otherwise smooth transaction. This forced me into choosing between lowering the price or putting it back on the market. Mr. Mankis, your under-valued appraisal of that house cost me $3,000.

I am confused why, on your Linkedin profile, you’re listed as a Commercial Review Appraiser. Heaven help any commercial real estate owner who is lucky enough to have you assess their value.

The past 9 years have taken quite an economic toll on me, but I played the game the way it was supposed to be played. Congratulations, Mr. Mankis, you were able to sneak in one last sucker punch before I left the ring.

But remember this—karma always wins.

Tim Hunter