Trump right to be concerned about Greenland

August 16th, 2019 by Ken

President Donald Trump is right to eye Greenland as a potential site for increased American presence.

The president raised the issue of buying Greenland from Denmark recently.  It is a wise move and the correct decision.

Whether the president was joking, was looking for a way to enhance his historical image, or was serious.  Greenland is the next step in the new Cold War with Russia and China.

As Global Warming heats up the Arctic and ice continues to melt at a rapid pace;  those who control the waters have a step up on the future.  Right now the Arctic Ocean is open and ice free during the summer for ships to journey between Europe and North America.  As warming continues, it will be open for shipping all year-round.

The Russians have been aware of the future potential strategic use of the Arctic and have established bases in their northern lands on the Arctic Ocean.  Just recently, China tried to buy land in Greenland to establish air fields (military bases).

Just a look at the world  globe and it’s easy to see the significance of Greenland to the future of the Arctic Ocean and the world.

Greenland is owned by Denmark, and a significant portion of Denmark’s  revenue goes to support Greenland.  And, while it may not want to sell any portion of the “island” it may well want to lease it.

The President was right.  Let’s look at Greenland, see what we can negotiate with Denmark and lets prepare for the future as the globe continues to warm.  That may well be, the highlight of Trump’s presidency.

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Why housing costs are so high

August 14th, 2019 by Ken

Having spent a good part of my life covering government and government policies, I can say with a great deal of confidence, that government has played a significant role in the high cost of housing.

It looks like it has done so on three different tracks; zoning rules, government requirements, and the elimination of non-standard housing.  I’ll try cover all three tracks with my limited knowledge.

When state and local government began planning for growth in the early 70’s, they weren’t concerned about the downstream impacts of their decisions.   Zoning made some pieces of property more valuable and other pieces less valuable.  They were unable to see that restricting development in the rural areas would make the property less valuable, and make property in urban areas more expensive.  These decisions were part of the reason the cost of housing has increased substantially.

Over the decades, since, the term “make growth pay for growth” has resulted in tens of thousands of dollars of added cost to a single family home.  It isn’t the developer or the builder who pays these increased costs – – it’s the home buyer.

In addition, regulations and rules, designed to make houses, safer, energy efficient, attractive and good neighbors has also resulted in increased costs for those buying homes.  Recently the City of Olympia’s requirement that all new single-family homes must have fire sprinklers, has added about $10,000 additional dollars to the cost of a new home.

In the 1970’s, along with the idea and the concept of zoning, government began the process of eliminating all sub-standard housing within its jurisdictions.  Hundreds, if not thousands of homes, not meeting rules regarding safety, were eliminated.  Trailer parks, with their low income housing, were zoned out of existence, or forced out by government redevelopment.

While government is the largest contributor to the cost of housing in our area, other factors also played a part.  Continued in-migration from California and other parts of urban Washington has played a part.  Housing costs seem cheap to them compared to where they came from and they are willing to bid a little more for their housing, thus driving up the cost of available stock.

Federal and state rules regarding labor has caused an increase in building costs and makes new construction even more expensive than it needs to be.

All of these factors are reasons that housing costs in our community has increased substantially and will continue to rise as land gets scarce and demand increases. 

And as long as government sees the need to protect us from living in sub-standard housing we’ll see blue tarps and undrivable RV’s.

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Everyone looks like Americans

August 12th, 2019 by Ken

I recently had the opportunity to visit one of North America’s prime vacation spot. It was filled with tourists from all over the world. They were speaking several different languages, but one thing I noticed – – they all looked like Americans.

That’s right. At of the top tourist attractions in the world, everyone looked like Americans. They spoke Spanish, Japanese, Korean, German and other dialects and languages, but everyone of them looked like an American.

We are truly a magnificent country. A country of immigrants. A country where everyone belongs. A country composed of people from all over the world.

A six-foot blond male would look out of place in Japan, but not in the United States, A short Asian woman would look out of place in Germany, but not in America. We are a country that represents the world.

We have more poles in Chicago than they do in Warsaw. We have more Jews in New York than they do in most of Israel. We have thousand of enclaves all the round the country,

It’s that ethnic diversity that separates us from the rest of the world.

We haven’t always treated our immigrants fairly. We brought hundreds of thousands of Africans to our country against their will.

We first welcomed Chinese immigration to work on the railroads and then we ran them out of every major city of the West Coast. Now, cities brag about their Chinatown.

We heaped scorn on the Irish, for their religion, looking at them as if they were trash. Now, everyone is proud of his/her Irish heritage.

We looked with horror on the Eastern European migration at the turn of the 20th Century. At the Poles, the Slavs, the Russians and the Italians who came. They came is such great numbers that we thought they’d never assimilate. Now, they are us and ethnic names abound in our society.

During World War II we put West Coast Japanese, many of them American citizens, into relocation camps. Now, many of those same Japanese families are looked up to for their quiet suffering.

Following the wars in Korea and later Vietnam, thousands of our allies and their families moved to the United States. The Gulf War and the wars in the Middle East, brought other war victims, many of them practicing their religion and settling in our cities.

Now, we are experiencing migrations from our south, from Mexico and Central American communities. People looking for a better life and a chance to also experience the American dream – – and assimilation.

America is a nation of immigrant. And, while it is not always easy and change is seldom encouraged, it has made our country the envy of the world.

And, everyone who comes here, looks as we do. They all look like Americans. Take a look around.

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How to lie

August 5th, 2019 by Ken

Right in the middle of political season (which seems to last all year long now), I’ve determined what makes a good lie.

It’s a fact of life that we all lie – every single one of us. Some of us do it so often that we don’t really think about it. Others do it so infrequently they can even remember the first lie they’ve ever told. But, all of us lie.

We lie for many reasons. Some of us life to make ourselves feel better. Some of us lie to make others feel better. Some of us lie to avoid embarrassment or to avoid being held responsible. Some of us lie, just because it seems like a good idea.

So, if we all lie, then do I have a deal for you. I’ve developed a program called “Five Elements of a Good Lie.” Follow this program and you’ll never have to worry about being caught in a lie.

First – Does the lie have an element of truth? In order for a lie to be believable it has to have some connection to the truth. You can’t say the ski is falling and have people believe it. But, if something is falling from the sky – like an old satellite – then you can say, the sky is falling.

Second – The lie must be believable. You can’t say you’ve climbed Mt. Everest if you’ve never climbed a mountain. But, if you have climbed Mt. Rainier, then you can probably say that you’ve also climbed Mt. Everest and people may believe you.

Third – Can you remember it? – That’s often the hardest part about a lie. Law enforcement often catch people in a lie because they can’t remember the lie they told. The simpler the lie, the easier to remember. Or, tell the same lie so often, that you’ve fooled your brain into believing its real. A lot of politicians do this.

Fourth – Does it make someone feel better? We often call this a White lie – as opposed to a Black lie (I guess). A white lie is a good lie because it makes someone feel better. We do it all of the time. We tell someone we like their haircut, when we don’t. We tell someone they look good in that outfit – when they don’t. We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, so we lie.

Fifth – Is it deniable? Can you say – “I never said that” to have people conclude that you would never do something like that. (Remember Bill Clinton.)

So, we all lie. But if we do it right then no one will know – or care. All politicians running for public office are free to download this column.

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Denny Heck isn’t who you think he is

July 28th, 2019 by Ken

Denny Heck isn’t who you think he is. Our Democratic Congressman from the Tenth  District represents the urban area of Thurston County and parts of Pierce County.

Many of my conservative friends have supported Denny because they see him as business-friendly and less radical than most of his party. Hell – I even like Denny, but for different reasons.

However, recently, he joined the choir of the more radical members of the Democratic Congressional delegation and called for the beginning of impeachment efforts against President Donald Trump.

I understand why he did. It has everything to do with being re-elected in 2020. Denny understands that some areas of Thurston County are more radical than he is. He is afraid that some far-left radical Democrat will mount a primary challenge and perhaps beat him. No elected official wants to lose. And, no elected official wants to lose in a primary election because he failed to understand party politics.

Denny is a consummate politician. He has been involved in politics since he was a college student. He understands how to play the game. If all it takes to stop a challenge from the radical fringe of his party is to come out for impeachment of the president – – then that’s what he’s going to do.

So, my more conservative friends. Keep this in mind in 2020 when Heck is running for re-election. If he was really business-friendly, he would embrace Trump’s business agenda and support efforts to keep jobs in this country and reject calls for a $15 minimum wage (which has been the death knoll for many local restaurants.)

But, then again. He has to get the nomination of his party – and he has to bow to the radical social agenda just to keep his job.

After all – he is a politician first and foremost.


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Can humans really be happy?

July 24th, 2019 by Ken

Is it true that human beings can never be happy?  Is it true, that no matter how much we say we want happiness, and no matter how hard we search for happiness – – that we can never be truly be happy?

There is no part of the human brain that contains the “happiness” center.  There is no genetic link between human beings and the ability to be happy.

It follows, that happiness is a “made up ideal” fostered on humans, as a means to keep them searching for the unknown ability to be happy, and keep them from attaining such a state, while exercising physical and mental effort that uses their time and energy.

It’s stated in our Declaration of Independence that all people are endowed with the right of happiness.  Never mind that the word was added in rewrite to limit the right of property ownership.

Why can’t people be really happy?

Goals, objectives, dreams, hopes, desires – – all get in the way of individual happiness.  For every goal we reach, another takes it place.  For every dream we have, the next night brings a new one.  Our hopes and desires can never be fulfilled. If we meet them, then we begin hoping for the next step. If we don’t get what we desire we are disappointed. We’re never satisfied.

As we near the end of our lives, many people say they have found happiness in the small things.  A soft rocker, a good books, a brilliant sunset, a grandchild’s smile. 

But, they don’t have happiness.  What they have is contentment.    They have given up on attaining happiness and are using what mental, emotional and physical abilities they have to be content with their place in society.

You may rage against the coming of the light, but you’ll never find happiness.

Contentment is about as happy as we’re ever going to be.

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Leadership – part two

July 19th, 2019 by Ken

With so many people running for local political office this year, I felt it might be worthwhile to review some of the responsibilities of those who seek to be our community leaders.

It helps, if you understand how the community thinks and what it believes is important. It’s fine to bring your value system into public office, but it’s better if you incorporate the community’s value system as well.

As an elected community leader, you need to stop thinking like you always have. It’s no longer about you. It’s now about the community. Your future political goals should line up with those of the community.

While you will be required to help solve community problems, you should also keep one eye on the future. How do the actions I take today affect what others will face down the road? Quick solutions to today’s problems, often result in adverse impacts later.

In working towards the future, be sure to preserve the historic and artistic aspects that exist today. Communities need to understand their history, if they are to create goals for the future.

Now that you are a community leader, you need to act as one. Set an example in everything you do and say. Remember that people have a long memory and one spiteful comment or action will be remembered long after all of your good works are forgotten.

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Too much sky

July 17th, 2019 by Ken

It’s changed, this neighborhood of mine.  Gone are the tall Doug Firs which used to block out the sun.   Gone to the windstorms of November and the chain saws of urban foresters.

In their places are the dogwoods, the flowering plum, the Japanese Maple – – the people friendly trees with their splashes of Spring color.

Gone as well are the two bedroom houses with their one-car garages; replaced by the needs of growing families.  Now asphalt driveways go nowhere.  Garages have been turned into spare rooms and cars park on the streets.

Gone also are the blond-haired couple with their blond-haired children who lived next door.  Gone to new neighborhood with new houses on cul de sacs, with their three bedroom houses whose yards are guarded  at night by concrete lamp posts and little dogs that bark and yip.

Also gone are the neighbors on the other side who often proved that “Good Fences Do Make Good Neighbors.”

The family that lived directly across the street has moved on.  I saw their children grow from tots who rode their Big Wheels on the street, into teenagers who roared  up and down the road at all hours of the night.

The man who lived across the back fence is still there, but he has cut down decades old apple trees which used to hang over my fence.  Now, the only thing that separates my yard from his house is the view of his camper, covered most of the year by a blue tarp.

Just like people, neighborhoods change with time.  And just like people, change in a neighborhood isn’t necessarily bad.

New neighbors have moved in now.  They’re of two types – young and old.

The young ones bring enthusiasm, energy and young children; who again fill the streets with laughter and large smiles.

The older ones bring a sense of finality as though they’re settling in and aren’t  planning to move again.  They dig up old lawns, composed primarily of old grass and dandelions, and replace them with new grass, dark green and smelling sweet.  

They plant rhodies and roses and roots, and introduce themselves and offer to help when they see you outside working on a project they deem too much for one.

It’s changed this neighborhood of mine.  When I think of what’s gone, I think of what’s been added and say – this is a pretty good neighborhood.  Even if there is too much sky.

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Closing the marine terminal just another political tool

July 10th, 2019 by Ken

The race for Olympia Port Commission in the November election is between incumbent port commissioner Joe Downing and his challenger Helen Wheatley .

The race could also decide the future of the port’s Marine Terminal, the part of the port that ships exports and imports to and out of other countries, particularly in Asia. And the part of the port which creates the most controversy.

Critics of the port have complained for years that the marine terminal is a money loser. That it imports products that impact the environment, that supports military activities and is a vestige of old-style thinking.

Supporters of the marine terminal says it is now breaking even financially and will soon be in the black. That having a marine terminal is prestigious and an indication that Olympia is ready and open for business. Supporting the terminal are the longshoremen and their union and other pro-business groups which see a marine terminal is necessary if Olympia is retain its character as a working port.

Wheatley favors closing the marine terminal and is supported by E.J. Zita, the only current member of the Port of Olympia commission which favors closing the terminal. Downing has gone on record as supporting the terminal and is joined in that view by incumbent port commissioner Bill McGregor.

There is much more to the Port of Olympia than just the marine terminal. The port operates the Olympia Airport and has land and facilities in much of Thurston County. But the marine terminal is the most recognized difference between the two candidates running this year.

I favor closing the marine terminal, but that is not the only basis on which I will make a decision on who to vote for. We need diversity of backgrounds, diversity of opinions and diversity of skills and talents. Don’t use the marine terminal as your only reasons for voting for a candidate. Consider the big picture and know – Weyerhaeuser still has more than a decade left on its lease for its log dump. It will be quite a while and several new port commissioners before any serious action could possibly be taken to close down the marine terminal.

Until then its just another political tool to gain votes.

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What we celebrate

July 4th, 2019 by Ken

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature, and of nature’s god, entitle them

So begins the preamble to the Declaration of Independence – a day which we celebrate every Fourth of July.

The document goes on to say that – We hold these truths to be self-evident – that all men are created equal – and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights – that among these are – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

This document. which started a revolution, and brought about the creation of the United States of America, is often thought to have been written by Thomas Jefferson, when in actuality it was written by five men, chosen to lay out the reasons that the American colonies should separate from England. Jefferson was just one of five.

Others on that committee included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston.

Jefferson did write the first draft but it was heavily edited by the committee. The original statement written by Jefferson called for Life, liberty and property – – but was changed to Life, liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness because at that time, only property owners could vote and the committee wanted to make the declaration to apply to everyone, not just property owners.

It was approved by the Continental Congress on July 2 and sent to the printers to run off copies. It was made known to the public on July 4. The actual signing of the Declaration of Independence was on August 2.

That declaration was ignored in England. The English government later declared that anyone signing it were traitors and would be punished by death. Five of the signers were captured and hung as traitors. Nine fought and died in the revolution. Most of the rest suffered financial problems brought about by the war.

But, the drafting of the Declaration of Independence with its stirring words “All men are created equal” – drew the envy and wonderment of people everywhere.

It was a revolutionary concept which people have fought and died to protect – as the idea spread across the world.

That is what we honor this Fourth of July holiday.

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If you can keep it

July 1st, 2019 by Ken

As a child of the World War 2 veterans, I grew up in the time when American was the dominate power in the world.  And those of us who lived in this country believed it was our responsibility to spread our democracy and democratic ideals around the world.  We were going to re-build the world in our image.

Now, half a century later, this idea is under attack from several directions.  And, what we grew up to believe has been shattered by attacks from those who only cautiously accepted the belief of “the American Dream.”

We grew up with the myths of America.  The concept that immigrants came to this country,  learned our language worked hard , believed in education as the pathway to acceptance, and became naturalized American citizens.  By the third generation their children  were “American.”

The idea of American democracy  depended on everyone accepting the dream even if they hadn’t benefited from it. 

Now, that myth of the American dream is being pulled apart from dozens of different directions, by groups reminding us that they have still been left out of the dream.  Because of cultural, religious and racial biases in our society they hadn’t realized their fair share.  Groups that had been silent were now speaking out.   Despite the fact that most Americans – now –  recognize the inequities of our society and feel that major progress had been made in overcoming those  shortfalls; some members of those disadvantaged groups have a different opinion.

Blaming their lack of financial and social progress on “the establishment” they have taken over the Democratic party and are using their new power to push for more and greater government involvement in overcoming their lack of progress.

This new push to overthrow the democratic and representative government we currently have dates from the presidency of Barack Obama.  The election of the first black president of the United States was a signal, that power to change their status and condition came from the ballot box.   When their hand-picked successor was defeated in 2016, their anger over-flowed into rage and hatred.

Believing that democracy had failed them, they began flirting with socialism  or at least starting to look at socialist ideas.  Only through a new concept of government could their needs and wishes be fulfilled many thought.

Our form of government is a combination of democracy and republicanism.  The Founding Fathers were afraid of pure democracy because they knew that demigods can sway the masses by offering them bread and circuses.

So, they built in safeguards to assure that American democracy would not go the way of other revolutions.  Giving power to the states, creating a blind judiciary, creating two houses of elected representatives and establishing a presidency to oversee the implementations of that government.  Those they thought would assure that American democracy would continue.

Now that form of government is under attack by 23 presidential candidates and special interest groups of all kind.  Whether or not our present form of government can survive is in the hands of those who vote.

It’s not assured that we will survive in our current form.

After the constitutional convention created a new government for the new country, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a woman “What form of government do we have?”   Franklin replied, ” A democracy madam, if you can keep it.” 

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Society belittles fathers

June 19th, 2019 by Ken

We just celebrated one of the more obscure holidays of the year – – Father’s Day.  You only hear about it, when stores want to make sales.   It’s not like the better known and well-loved  – Mother’s Day.

Father’s Day was celebrated last weekend, but it always plays second-fiddle to Mother’s Day.  There’s something about mothers that make people oh and ad, particularly when they’re holding their new baby.

And, as he or she grows up, he or she becomes attached to mother.  But, that’s not often the case with fathers.

Something like 55 percent of all children born in the United States today are born to mothers who aren’t married – – and a large proportion of those are births to mothers with no father in sight. 

This has been going on for more than 30 years now – – bringing the idea that fathers are not necessary for the raising of children.

Oh, it’s nice when they’re around, but our society seems to think that we don’t need fathers to raise children.  Consequently the role of a father has been diminished and even a holiday dedicated to fathers means almost nothing.

As a father and a step-father, I always look forward to receiving a visit or a phone call from my five children.  They all did so this past weekend and I enjoyed every minute of it.  I feel loved and appreciated by my children all year long and I don’t need the extra attention on Fathers Day – – although I do enjoy it.’

But, I feel sorry for all those children who have no fathers and I feel sorry for all those fathers who have conceived children – then walked away.

There has to be extra guilt for society to let that happen.

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Iconic community restaurants help make Lacey

June 9th, 2019 by Ken

If it’s true that the Hawks Prairie Restaurant is soon going to be demolished, it is just a continuation of destruction of Lacey’s history.  Three restaurants added significantly to the area becoming the City of Lacey.

The first of these was Lee’s Restaurant, located on Martin Way.  It was the only full-service facility in the Lacey area for many years.  It had a restaurant, a cocktail lounge and a large meeting room.  Many local groups met at Lee’s including the Lacey Area Chamber of Commerce.

In addition, Lee’s had the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Washington state.  In the early 50’s, people would come from  all over to try this newest and latest trend in “fast food.”  To travel down from Seattle and Tacoma wasn’t unusual.

The original owner Lee Bensley sold the restaurant, which sat on US99.  When Interstate Five opened and took traffic off of Martin Way, the restaurant suffered hard times.  Opening of the Red Bull also added to the woes.  The building still stands and remains similar on the exterior.  It now sells motorcycles and similar products.

The second of the Iconic restaurants was the Red Bull.   Opened in 1966 when South Sound Center opened, it was originally called The Barb.  Sold to the McWain family, the Red Bull was a fell-service restaurant.  It had a coffee shop for mall shoppers, a full-sized restaurant, a cocktail lounge and a large meeting facility on the second floor.

Every major Lacey organization and many from Olympia, used the Red Bull’s meeting rooms. It was the heart of activities in the Lacey area.

The restaurant was eventually taken over by Bob Blume, the owner of South Sound Center and eventually sold.  Blume said at the time that he wasn’t in the restaurant business.  He also, apparently, wasn’t in the community building business either.  The restaurant was located in the general area of Target.

The Hawks Prairie Inn opened originally as an unofficial truck stop, with a quick shop store nearby.  For a decade, it was one of the few businesses in the Hawks Prairie area.  It had a full service restaurant, a cocktail lounge and meeting facilities.  Kiwanis, Lions and the chamber met at the facility.

Closure of these three restaurants were a significant impact on the Lacey community.  Ever community needs a meeting space at which the residents can meet, eat and make decision affecting them.. 

It’s also indicative of the difficulty owning, operating and running a privately owned restaurant can be in these times of quick food and quick service.

If it’s true, and I believe it is, then we will miss the Hawks Prairie Inn for personal, business and historic reasons.

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Has Lacey got a deal for you

May 24th, 2019 by Ken

Well – let’s qualify that a little. The City of Lacey has a deal for you, if you live in Capital Golf Club Estates.

Residents of the 400 houses in the development will be given $33,000 to annex to the City of Lacey. Well – lets qualify that a little. The city is putting in new sewer lines throughout the entire development. Residents who hook up to the city sewer system while the construction is underway will not have to pay a penny for the service. The city will pick up all of the cost estimated at around $33,000 per home.

Why such a great deal, you ask? Lacey has a water well near the development. Over the last few years the city has become concerned about the rising levels of nitrates in the water. The well serves most of the southern portion of the city. Nitrate saturation is most often the result of septic systems and failure of some of those systems. All 400 homes in Capital Golf Club Estates are on septic systems.

To protect the well now, and in to the future, the city is extending its sewer lines, and will hook up any resident in the development which wants to do so. However, there are some hooks. Those hooking up will be required to sign a form agreeing to annexation to the City of Lacey somewhere in the future. And, those not hooking up will have to pay the entire cost of hooking up when their septic systems start to fail. In 2019 dollars, that’s about $33,000. It could be significantly higher a decade from now. Those hooking up will begin paying the monthly sewer fee of around $39.

The city justifies the cost to current ratepayers as necessary to protect the city’s water supply.

Estimated cost is around $12 million. Eight million dollars for the sewer extension and $4 million for all of the homes in the neighborhood.

The entire project is expected to start later this year and be finished by next year.

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Ken’s commencement speech (next year maybe)

May 20th, 2019 by Ken

Every year about this time, I sit by my phone and wait for the call that never comes. We have three colleges in this community and it seem to me about five decades in the information business, I would get called to be a graduation speaker – – but the call never comes.

So, I’ve decided that you, my dedicated reader, will have the benefit of receiving the advice I would have given to graduating senior students this year.

I have two words of advice – – avoid commitments.

Avoid commitments in all phases of your life.

If you’re going to be truly happy, you can’t be happy working in a job you don’t like. Many of you will have to take a job doing anything, because you have to take care of the financial commitments you already have.

But keep that “nut” low. Don’t buy a car, borrow one from your parents or get a small motor bike. Don’t buy a house – rent one – – better yet move in with friends, or just rent a room. Even better, move back in with your folks and you won’t have to pay a penny.

Don’t buy any expensive equipment. That means, nothing you can’t pay for now. Don’t use your ATM or Debit card. If you can’t afford it, you don”t need it.

Don’t get married. And whatever you do – – don’t have children.

Now mind you, I’m telling you all this to show you the path towards happiness. You can’t be happy if you have commitments, because commitments tie you down, force you to work, force you to do things that make you unhappy just to meet your commitments.

People labor for years, decades even, to pay off their commitments. They’re stuck, they have no flexibility. You have to have flexibility if you’re going to be happy. You can’t be tied down because you have commitments. Flexibility allows you to change jobs in order to find what it is that makes you happy.

And, here’s the payoff. Once you’ve found what you like to do, and once you start making money from it, – that is the time to start making commitments.

It’s only after you’ve become happy in life, that you can begin taking on the commitments. Your future spouse will be happy and your children will be happy and it continues.

Avoid commitments, stay flexible, find something you like to do and make money at it, and you’ll have a happy life.

That’s the commencement speech I’ll make. I’ll wait by my phone for an invitation for next year.

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Which historical figures should disappear

May 14th, 2019 by Ken

Which of our  historical figures should face the disgrace for past actions particularly as it relates to the issue of slavery,

That’s a question I’ve wrestled with as new societal norms have brought uncertainty to that issue.  While it’s generally assumed that Confederate political and military leaders should answer for their actions, it’s not all that certain that other historical figures, like our Founding Fathers, should also be tarred with that same brush.

In my own mind, I’ve drawn a line over which leaders should be removed from our public conscience and which ones should continue to be honored.

The line starts with the Civil War.  Prior to that time, our leaders were living according to the rules, laws and codes of their time.  People like Washington and Jefferson were slave owners – but that was legal.

But, those who participated in the South’s efforts to form its own country, participated in Treason.  They took-up arms against their country.  That, in my mind, is the line separating  those who should disappear from public view from other leaders.

Statues to Confederate leaders should not be displayed in public squares or honored as heroic figures.  Their statues, displays and other information should be relegated to historic museums and private collections. They were traitors.

But those, who held slaves, participated in the slave trade or benefited from the slave trade should be left alone.  The slave trade was legal – – and while not moral – was accepted in the common square.

We have to draw the line somewhere – and that’s where I think that line should be drawn.

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The appeal of dogs to seniors

May 7th, 2019 by Ken

Moxie sensed danger around the corner.  He tugged hard at his leash.  He planted his four feet squarely on the concrete and stiffened his neck.  The growl started from a rumble deep in his throat then burst out with ferocity.  The bark followed, loud and full of deeply held anger.

One, two, three barks escaped before I tugged on the leash.  He stopped for a few brief seconds, then started up again.  I pulled on his leash stronger and even lifted him off the ground a few inches.

The wind blew the large piece of paper along the street, making  a scraping noise as it went.  Moxie didn’t quite know what to think of it, but wanted to smell it anyway.  We made our way to the paper and I let him sniff.  It was fine he decided and turned his head to look at me to see what we were doing next.

Moxie is a Yorkie, but he’s very small.  He was the runt of the liter and weighs just about five pounds. But, he’s full of courage and will attack anything that he thinks is a threat to me, the pack, or himself.

We’ve had him for a couple of years but haven’t really had time to train him to walk and heel.  When Jan retired, we had more time.  We also got ourselves another Yorkie a year later.  This one is named Minnie, and she’s a full size  Yorkshire Terrier.  She’s also Moxie’s half-sister.  Same mother, different father.

Having a half sister in the house with an older  male is just another word for sibling rivalry and male dominance.  Moxie is just a year older, so Minnie is learning behavior from Moxie.

Minnie is twice as large as Moxie.  In the early days, Minnie gave Moxie great respect and began to learn dog behavior from him.  As the weeks went by, Minnie tried to imitate Moxie, even when he was humping his favorite toy.  (Bear in mind that both dogs have been fixed.)  It was interesting to watch Minnie try to mimic Moxie’s moves, and often stood behind him and moved in unison with the gyrations he made.

But, Minnie is now a year old and is beginning to challenge Moxie for top dog status.

Minnie is faster and stronger than Moxie, and she lets him know it whenever she has a chance.  When they are let outside, Minnie out runs Moxie to the back fence.  Moxie can’t out run her, but has decided to cut across the yard and beat her to the finish.

Moxie tries to keep her under control by growling and barking.  Minnie used to be afraid and would back off.  But, recently she has discovered that she is stronger than Moxie.  Sometimes, when they’re playing, Minnie will get Moxie down and sit on him.  At other times, she will grab Moxie’s collar and drag him around the floor.  

That of course enrages Moxie and he will go into his most fierce alpha male role by growling, hissing, barking and nipping at Minnie’s ear.  Occasionally he will nip hard enough and will back off when Minnie yelps.  But, it isn’t all one sided.  Minnie will also nip back when she thinks she’s in trouble.

It’s been decades since we’ve had any children at home.  Watching these two dogs stake out roles and learn to live together reminds us of our children.

I now understand the fascination that older people have with dogs. 

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Observations May 2019

May 3rd, 2019 by Ken

Democratic Socialist Pramila Jayapal made the Wall Street Journal’s”  editorial page recently with her Medicare For All Act which has drawn the support of more than 100 house Democrats.  Representing the 7th Congressional District, which encompasses Seattle and most of King County, the Bernie Sanders supported socialist has put forth her plan to socialize our medical system. 

Years ago I put forth a plan to provide medical care to all Americans.   it called for drafting all doctors right of medical school to serve in a National Medical Force for five years.  They would work in low income and non-served areas of  our country for five years, after which time, the government would pay their student debt and release them for service.  The plan never got beyond my small circle of friends.  I still think it makes more sense and is cheaper than Jayapal’s plan.

There’s an old legal statement that goes something like this:  “When you’ve got the facts on your side, argue the facts.  When you’ve got the law on your side, argue the law.  When you don’t have either on your side, scream, yell and pound on the table.”   That seems to be the track the House Democrats are taking in regard to the Mueller Report.  Re-direct attention away from the facts and the law and hope someone listens.

The flap in Lacey over the cost of the Train Depot Replica is running without facts.  I think it was Mark Twain who said something like: “A lie can make it around the world before the truth can get its boots on.”    Opponents of the historic train depot are saying the cost is a million dollars for a bathroom.  There’s no truth in that statement. 

The actual cost of the Historic Train Depot is around $660,000.  It is a two-story structure of about 4000 square feet.  The bathrooms are only part one of the entire project.  The building has space for meeting rooms, areas for musical and artistic performance, and will tie into the new Lacey History Museum when it is completed sometime in the future.   The city is building now and looking down the road to creating an anchor for the city’s historic district.

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Government rules add significantly to cost of housing

April 10th, 2019 by Ken

By Dave Nicandri

I support the remediative steps The Olympian outlined in its recent editorial (“Homelessness is a bigger problem than Olympia can solve,” April 7, 2019), especially “addiction treatment on demand” and “criminal justice reforms that focus on rehabilitation.” These and other proposed actions were put forth to address the “inter-generational poverty” that, the editorial argues, have led to the local homelessness crisis. To the extent “inter-generational poverty” contributes to this problem I would argue that there is a major and far more immediate factor. 

I witnessed, as a member of the Tumwater City Council in the 1980’s, the elected leadership of the Olympia City Council (with the full support of The Olympian) take the lead in moving land use planning in all of Thurston County towards a “growth should pay for growth” modality. Sold under the pretenses of environmental sustainability and the desire to curb urban sprawl, we can now see that the vast array of “impact” fees, connection charges, etc. has been all too successful in limiting growth.  The growth of what? Housing. 

Ironically, we once had in place an unstated policy that was a direct “inter-generational” transfer of wealth mechanism, but making “growth pay for growth” eliminated it. The contractor who built the small house my wife and I bought as a young couple in 1975 paid for a building permit for inspections, but he did not pass on to us as purchasers any additional charges for roads, water, sewer, open space, or schools.  All of that infrastructure that we gained access to had already been paid for by previous generations of Tumwater taxpayers who financed it through taxes, utility charges, and bond issues. One must believe they felt satisfaction in the gradual building-up of the larger community for the benefit of their children and other newcomers who could contribute to the life of the city. Each older generation, with its collective means, literally paved the way for those younger ones that succeeded them. It was a form of paying forward.

Currently, new housing in Thurston County is burdened not only by the cost of construction but a measure of municipal infrastructure which adds an average of $40,000 to each new housing unit’s cost. This cost is ratcheted upwards dramatically when it comes to multi-family housing and planned unit developments, and has a particularly deleterious effect on low-income housing which typically operates within the multi-family construction mode.

Having “growth pay for growth” artificially limits the supply of housing and increases demand as reflected in the rising costs for rents or homes. As a result, new construction is not sufficient to keep up with Thurston County’s population growth.  This policy-induced shortage assures that housing costs will continue to rise and many who need housing will struggle to afford it.

None of the foregoing is intended as a brief against “smart growth,” environmental sustainability, or greater urban densities. Neither is it an endorsement of the idea that the current wave of homelessness is principally a function of “inter-generational poverty.” Thurston County went three generations between “Hoovervilles” and “mitigation sites.”  Nevertheless, if the current generation of developers and home-owners is not allowed to transfer its investment in municipal infrastructure to future generations who must otherwise pay for it anew, then the shortage of homes in this area is only going to become more acute.

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Child vaccination rates vary

April 3rd, 2019 by Ken

You’re a good parent.  You vaccinate your child with the MMR vaccine when he or she starts.  And you continue to vaccinate your child as the doctor recommends.

But, some parents don’t vaccinate their child.  What are the chances your child will get one of the diseases eradicated by the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps & rubella)?

Very slim.  Such activities depend upon what is considered “herd immunity”.  The more children vaccinated the less likely your child is to get one of the diseases.   The greater the number of children, the less likely it is that  your child will become sick.

There is some yardstick as to when herd immunity kicks in.  it varies by doctor and other professional’s opinion.  But, it is usually around 80 percent.   The higher the better.

The vaccination rate also varies from location to location.  Washington State is in the middle of the pack with a statewide vaccination rate of about 85 percent.  It also varies by county.

Many counties in Eastern Washington have vaccination rates exceeding 95 percent.  Some in Western Washington are around 80 percent.  Thurston County’s anti-vaccination rate is 5.4 percent.   The lowest vaccination rate is in Jefferson County with 10 percent (based on 2018 figures).

Most of the Lacey schools in the North Thurston district are right around the county’s average of 5 percent.  The elementary schools with the most un-vaccinated children are Meadows and Mt. View, both of whom are just slightly over the county average.  The highest school in compliance is Woodland with nearly 95 percent of its students vaccinated.

So, why, if your child has all of his or her vaccinations, should you care?

Because the failure rate of the MMR is 3 percent.  That means the vaccine doesn’t take in three out of every 100 children.

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