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

Secrets

secrets

I love secrets.  I know quite a few. We all have a couple tucked away in our memory bank.

Maybe it’s about a family member, a co-worker, a friend who turned to you and trusted you enough to share.  Then, we have to decide–are we keepers or ones who like to share?

Some things start out as secrets, but in time, we all find out.  Putting years between us and the uglier truths seem to make it OK to share.

I recently was privy to the story behind the Christa compound.  Now a religious broadcast facility, senior housing and the home of King’s Schools in Shoreline, Washington,  it once was a tuberculosis hospital.  What’s even better is that there are a series of tunnels underneath which were used to remove the bodies of people who died from the disease.  It sounds like a great urban myth, but actually true.

However, I was not prepared for a story I heard recently and because of its nature and the fact that the person involved is still living, I have to be a bit vague.

The woman who shared this powerful truth swears it’s true.  Now, I should point out that she is a life-long Democrat. Say the “R” word and she’ll get a stern look. Her daughter will be among the first to tell you that her 90+ year mom loves to pass along her stories.  But this one is a real shocker.

As I sat at the table next to her, she began by asking, “You know how President Roosevelt died, don’t you?”   Wanting to show off my knowledge of her generation, I matched her matter-of-fact manner and said, “Sure.  He was sitting at his desk, uttered the words, ‘I have a terrific headache’, had a stroke and died.”

“That’s not what really happened,” she replied.

FDR

According to her, she was working that day at the “Georgia White House.”  It was where FDR got away and relaxed, along with his girlfriend.  Our storyteller said she had been brought in as a staff member and that she was no more than 3-feet away from the president when he ended his life.

The president’s health was not good and he was confined to bed.  That day, a secret service agent removed his gun, and put it down by a bedside table.  Why?  Unknown. But she said she watched as the president quickly reached over for it and before anyone could stop him, shot himself in the side of the head.

Everyone was in shock.  The head of staff told those present to pack up their bags and prepare to leave and ordered that no one was to tell anyone what had taken place.

Now, I’ll be honest–I had never heard this theory before.  But she told it to me like it was God’s truth.  Remember, this is a dyed-in-the-wood Democrat, so why would she want to tarnish the memory of one of the great D-presidents of all time?  Now, hop on Google and you’ll see lots of other similar stories that are circulating about this rumored suicide.  Noting the times and the fact that FDR was not allowed to be photographed in his wheelchair, it wouldn’t surprise me that a presidential suicide would be swept under the rug.

So, that’s the secret.  I’m hoping to interview her soon, so that some day I can share with you the passion and detail with which she told her story.  Otherwise, you’ll probably have to wait another generation or two before finding out what actually happened that day.

Until then, now you know the secret.

Are you a keeper or one who likes to share?

Tim Hunter