Election Observations

August 6th, 2020 by Ken

Republicans in Thurston County can count on getting around 30 percent of the vote in any partisan election.  Very few Republicans can get much beyond that thresh hold .But, Kim Wyman is an anomaly among local Republicans.  While votes are still being counted, Wyman has received nearly 58 percent of the vote locally, while creeping along statewide at just over 50 percent.  Kim is well-liked in Thurston County and has won the support of many Democratic voters by her sense of fair play and lack of partisanship in her job as the state’s election officer.  Taking on the hated Donald Trump over his opposition to “Vote By Mail” hasn’t hurt.  Besides, it gives many local Democrats the ability to say they vote for some Republicans.

In the race to fill Denny Heck’s vacant seat in the 10th Congressional District, the General Election ballot will contain the names of two Democratic women.  Beth Doglio, with her base of support in Thurston County and Marilyn Strickland with her base in Pierce County will face each other in the finals.  Doglio has left the state legislature to try for the up town seat, while Strickland has come from the private sector, even if it was from King County.  Doglio  has depended on the traditional base of Democratic support, teacher unions and women.  Strickland has garnered the support of two former Democratic Governors and her base from serving as Mayor of Tacoma.  Since both of these women will get Democratic support in the General election it will boil down to which one of them can get independents and Republican support.

In the 22nd District race to fill Doglio’s legislative seat, former Olympia City Councilmember Jessica Bateman and former Lacey Police Chief Dusty Pierpoint are neck and neck.  Both appear headed for the General Election ballot.  Bateman is a Democrat, Pierpoint is a Republican.  Pierpoint has a tough challenge.  Three other Democrats were in that race including Mary Ellen Biggerstaff and Glenda Breiler.  Chances are pretty good that most of their votes will go to Bateman.  Pierpoint is going to have to find some well to shake the Republican label and convince voters that all politics is local.

A couple of local items of interest.  The race for Thurston County Commission in District one, was always the most interesting contest on our Primary ballot.  Former County Commission Bud Blake had moved into the district to run against current commissioner Hutch Hutchings.  Wisdom held that those two would battle it out for a place on the General Election ballot.  But, at the most recent counting, both Blake and Hutchings were third and fourth in the standings.  Both of them were running as independents.  As of this date (August 6) Democrat Carolina Mejia is leading the pack with Republican C. Davis holding a slim lead over Blake.  Looks like party labels may actually mean something.  (More on this race at a later date.)

And finally is the race for Thurston County Superior Court. Sharonda Amamilo is holding a major lead over second place Scott Ahlf.  With four people running for the job, three are white males.  Only Amamilo is not.  Looks like there is some validity to the effort to get people of color (and women) into elective office.  (Not taking anything away from Sharonda).

We’ll take a deeper look at some of these races later.

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Vote by mail is safe but unwise for the first time

August 3rd, 2020 by Ken

I am not a fan of “Vote By Mail”.  I think it makes voting too easy.  Something as important and significant as picking our leaders, shouldn’t be the same as paying the power bill or the credit card bill.  It should take some effort and some study.  The worse thing for a democracy is an ignorant voter.

Having said all that, I have accepted “Vote By Mail” and participate in the election as I have for every election for the last 50 years.

For the most part, voting by mail has become a standard in voting safety.  Very few fraudulent ballots make their way to the counting table.  The last statistic I heard was that 0.01 percent of all ballots in Washington State were found to be illegal.

When Washington started “Vote By Mail” nearly a decade ago, it was a new idea and as such it had growing pains.  Most of those are in the past.  That last impediment to voting by mail was the need to put a stamp on your ballot.  In my view that was a poll tax.  The need to use a stamp was recently done away with.

States which are attempting “Vote By Mail” for the first time will have a number of problems.  Signature checking, which use to occur at the ballot box, will now have to be done at a collection station.  Voters will need to have a place they can drop the ballot off and be assured they are safe.  That takes to time to do and time for voters to have confidence their ballots are safe.  And, voters need to be assured that who they vote for is kept confidential.  That takes time as well.

So, states voting all by mail for the first time will encounter a great deal of troubles, concerns and questions.

The biggest problem comes at the end, when the collection center is over-whelmed with thousands of ballots arriving after election day.   Not only does this spread out the counting of the ballots, but it leaves close races blowing in the wind with no answer for weeks.  There is no ending day when the counting has to stop.  The election is usually over when it has to be certified – and even then there still may be uncounted ballots.

My solution to this problem is that all ballots must be received at the election office by the end of business on election day.

Any state attempting all “Vote By Mail” for the first time will have to be aware that you can’t make the baby walk until it has developed enough to take the first step.  And, taking the first step because you have little recourse is a poor way to learn to run.

 

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Raise the voting age

July 31st, 2020 by Ken

There’s a move underfoot to repeal the 26th Amendment to the US Constitution.  For those not constitutional scholars, that’s the amendment that lowered the federal voting age to 18.  Passed in 1971 in response to the Vietnam War, it has been the standard for 40 years.  It only applies to federal elections, but all states have adopted it for local and state elections.

That move has changed the face of our elected officials and has lead to the passage of a number of bills which has led to a softening of our laws.  Many of them not in the best interests of privacy, free speech and curtailment of individual liberties.

Aging Baby Boomers, who were the recipient of the law, are now Senior Citizens.  They have seen the troubles letting teenagers vote.  Remember, humans don’t have all of their brain cells fully working until around 23 years of age. That the part of the brain that truly understands the ramifications of actions.  (We didn’t know that at the time.)   But, to me, its not the lack of brain cells in teenagers, its the fact that they already know everything.   That leads to votes appealing to nirvana without understand the negative fallout of actions necessary to achieve that state.

It’s time us seniors utilize our voting power for something important – the future.  Lets stop this insanity of teenage voting and put the country back on a track that utilizes the full brain power of its voters.

 

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Covid slows search for new Lacey Police Chief

July 30th, 2020 by Ken

Covid 19 has slowed the search for a new Lacey Police Chief.  According to Lacey City Manager Scott Spence, a traditional search for a new police chief is out of the question while Covid 19 continues its reign.

“We can’t do a  search using the old methods,” he said.  We wouldn’t be able to have public interviews or opportunities for the public to meet the candidates.

Lacey Police Chief Ken Semko retired in April because of health concerns.  Deputy Police Chief Robert Almada stepped in as acting chief.  “We’re fortunate to have an acting chief of his caliber,” Spence said.  “Because of his capabilities, we’ll wait until the threat of Covid has disappeared before we begin a search.”

Spence had no time line.  “Right now the Covid 19 seems to be getting worse,” he said.

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Lacey Fire District asks for more money

July 29th, 2020 by Ken

Voters in the Lacey Fire District will be asked to approved a new property tax measure to help fund the fire department next year.

Lets qualify that.  Lacey Fire District Chief Steve Brooks wouldn’t call it a tax increase.  Brooks said its just a replacement levy – – a levy lid lift – that would restore the district’s taxing authority to its constitutional limit.

Whatever you call it, the property owners of Lacey and its urban growth areas will be asked to fund a tax which will bring in around $1 million dollars of additional funds for the district.

Junior taxing districts are limited to collecting $1.50 per thousand of assessed valuation to fund their operations.  The Lacey Fire District has been  collecting at that top rate, but over the last several years the dollar amount they can collect has dropped to $1.43 per thousand thanks to an increase in property tax values.  They want to move the amount back up to $1.50.   That will results in additional revenue of around $1.3 million, some of which is still due to increases in the districts assessed value.

Anyway you cut it, voters in November will be asked to give the fire district more money.

If approved by the voters, the money will be used to fund a new aid unit at Station 34,  currently under reconstruction right now on Steilacoom Road, by the Regional Athletic Complex.  Brooks said the district has grown by more than 35 percent in that area, including several senior citizen complexes.

The vote to place the measure on the November ballot wasn’t unanimous.  New Fire Commissioner Robert Motzer  argued against it claiming now was not the right time to raise property taxes and that the addition of a new aid car could wait two years until the economic conditions of Lacey improved.

Lacey Fire District is the largest fire district in the county with a budget over $24 million,

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Ode to my dog

July 17th, 2020 by Ken

 It was a sunny Sunday afternoon.  Jan was sitting in her chair on the patio working with her laptop.  The dogs – Moxie and Minnie were laying by her feet.

Minnie let out a soft growl, Moxie looked up and saw, through the cyclone fence. a raccoon in the neighbor’s yard.  He ran to the fence and began barking, Minnie following along.

Jan glanced up and saw the raccoon scaling the fence and then jump full out on to Moxie. At five pounds he was out weighed ten to one.  The raccoon made quick work, biting Moxie several times in the neck and on the back.  Then turned him over and went to work on his underside.

Jan ran, screaming a high pitched scream right towards the raccoon, who looked up at this sight coming towards him.  He left Moxie laying mutilated on the ground and headed towards Jan, who was continuing screaming.  As the raccoon got closer, Jan took a step back, tripped and fell.   The raccoon grabbed her leg, bit her twice on the calf muscle, turned and in a flash was gone up a tree.

Moxie, had gotten up, ran quickly to the patio and collapsed.    Jan went back, picked him up and came into the house.  By that time I had come out of my office.  Jan told me the story.  I took Moxie to the vet hospital while Jan made her way to the emergency room of the people hospital.

After three-hours, the vet came out and told me Moxie was in critical condition and could die any minute.  She was doing the best she could to stabilize him but he needed to stay for tests, X-rays and Ultra Sounds to see if he had internal bleeding as well as his visible signs.

I’ve had dogs all my life – more than half-a-dozen.  But, they were just dogs.  While they may have been members of the pack, they had not become members of the family.  Moxie was the first one.

When Jan was nearing retirement, we decided to get a dog.  We had a cat for more than a dozen years before she died.  We thought a dog would be something who would love us in our old age.  I went along.  A dog is a dog is a dog.  While nothing special, a dog could add a new dimension to our lives.

We decided on a small dog, a lap dog, and one who wouldn’t  affect my allergies too much.  Jan found just the right one.   We settled on a Yorkie, a Yorkshire Terrier.  Jan found an ad for a breeder who had them for sale near Yakima, Washington.

We made the appointment and one September afternoon arrived at the breeders house who led us to a playpen full of six-week old pups.  I immediately saw one who was smaller than the rest, but was just as feisty.  He was the “runt”.  While Jan was worried that a runt might have problems, she went along with me, and we purchased the runt and headed for home.  We had taken our granddaughter along with us who sat in the backseat and held the dog the whole way home.

It needed a name.  We talked about it in the car, and then we passed by the town of Moxie.   That’s the name we both said, and that’s the name that stuck.

When we got home, my granddaughter handed me the dog.  Those sparkling brown eyes caught my eyes.  I didn’t think I had ever seen something that looked right into my soul.  When I put him up to my face I was entranced by his smell.  It was a new puppy smell, but it  was also intoxicating.  I wanted more.

I was hooked.  From that moment on I became a dog lover.  And, not just a Moxie lover – a dog lover.  I take quick looks at every dog I see and marvel at the look in his eyes.  I watch television shows about dogs and see in them playing, working, and just being lazy and cute.

Moxie was my first love.  A year later, we went back to the same breeder and picked Moxie’s half-sister as our next dog.  We named her Minnie, although she is twice as large as Moxie.

I still have trouble trying to explain how I became hooked on dogs.  I want to pet everyone I see, hold everyone who needs holding, and protect all of those who need protecting.

And, it was all because of Moxie, who at this writing is still in the hospital trying to recover from his wounds.

I think I hate raccoons.

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What’s in your wastewater?

July 2nd, 2020 by Ken

For eight years, the LOTT Clean Water Alliance has been undertaking a study to determine what – if anything – is in the water they pump back into the ground.  The $5 million dollar study is now about 80 percent complete and preliminary results are starting to make their way to the surface.

Some 45 residual chemicals have been identified for further study because they were found in levels above designated thresholds.  But, another 18 residual chemicals have been identified for further study in the next phase because they were found to have a potential toxicity.

Two decades ago, when Thurston County’s urban areas began rapid growth, it became obvious that a new sewage plant was a necessity.  State government wouldn’t allow the creation of a new sewage plant on Budd Inlet, so the three cities decided to go a new route.   They were going to clean and scrub the sewage, remove impurities in the waterwater, and pump that clean water back in the ground.  It was hoped that customers could be found for the water and purple pipes were laid in various areas of Lacey for use as irrigation.  That customer base didn’t develop and another way of disposing of the water needed to be found.

A reclamation plant was constructed in Northeast Lacey in the Hawks Prairie area and pipes ere extended to pump some of the water to Woodland Creek Community Park.

Concerns began to mount of just how clean the wastewater really was, and LOTT started the study in 2012.  It drilled 14 monitoring sites around the Hawks Prairie plant and began to study the water.  In addition to monitoring for chemicals the study also wanted to determine how quickly the water went through the soil and just where it flowed when it reached groundwater.

A few additional monitoring stations will be drilled as the study proceeds, and the results will be reviewed by a Science Task Force and a Peer Review Panel.  It could be a few more years before we’ll have a better understanding of how well pumping waterwater back into the ground really works.

It must be pointed out that LOTT is doing this of its accord and is not under any requirements from state of federal officials.

The complete study results so far are available on the LOTT website.

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Welcome to the new State of Washington

June 29th, 2020 by Ken

Those of us here in Washington State should say hello to the new State of Washington.

That’s right, the Democratic controlled House of Representatives has passed a bill making Washington DC the 51st state of the United States.  It’s name – – The State of Washington Douglass Commonwealth.  (In honor of Frederick Douglass).

There’s no doubt that when the Democrats gain control of the US Senate after this fall’s election, the bill will be passed in that chamber as well and we’ll have the 51st State – and the new State of Washington.

When that happens, our Democratic Senators should add an amendment to the bill that will change the name of our state to Columbia.  That was the original name when we applied for territorial status and was changed by Congress at the time to Washington.

It’s time to change it back.  After next year I expect to live in the State of Columbia.

 

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It’s time for leaders to lead

June 27th, 2020 by Ken

It was understandable when protesters wanted to rid the country of statues to Confederate generals.  I too think they should be confined to historical museums.  Even statues celebrating confederate soldiers in dozens of town squares across the South seemed products of another time and should also be sitting in historical museums.

When the battle to erase the public history of slavery began to gather steam, I became concerned that the idea had morphed into something more.  For 80 years, slavery had been legal in the United States of America.  While it was repugnant and horrific, it only echoed legal slavery in other countries around the world, even in Europe and England which had only recently abolished the system during the time the American colonies began chaffing at being tied to England.

Many of the Founding Fathers were legal slave-holders and two of our early presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson also held slaves.

The profit of slavery wasn’t confined to Southern Planters.  Many New England merchants made fortunes as the result of items produce from the effects of slavery.

So when efforts came to tear down statues of leading Americans who had made a living from slavery, I became concerned that doing so would only lead to other Americans who could be considered racist.  President Andrew Jackson was the first who came to my mind.  Jackson hated Native Americans and led the removal of Eastern tribes along the Trail of Tears  to west of the Mississippi, so he and  his friends could take those lands for themselves.  If there ever was a racist – I think Jackson would be at the top of the list.

Then, the mob ran wild.  U.S.Grant,  Abraham Lincoln and dozens of other American leaders fell under the gaze of protesters.  It was then that I realized, this had almost nothing to do with racism.  I thought, at first, it was an anti-male protest.  Then I finally got it.

The move to remove these statues and other elements of American history, wasn’t aimed at getting rid of the dark side of America.  It was a move to eliminate the culture of the country.

The point has been made by others, that this current effort to erase American culture, echoes the French Revolution which eliminated centuries of French culture and eventually replaced a King with a Dictator.

Rule by mobs often lead to unintended consequences.  And mob rule only flourishes when leaders kowtow to the power of the mob and ignore the results of their actions.

It’s time our leaders, from local city governments, to the highest positions of the land, put an end to mob rule and began to enforce the law.

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Ode to Jim Manning

June 23rd, 2020 by Ken

(Editors note:  In the late 70’s and into the 80’s, a number of entertainers made their home – temporarily – in Lacey.  Many of them performed at the Red Bull in its lounge.  Some were involved in other projects.  One of them was Jim Manning, who opened his own facility and for a while leased Richard’s Roundhouse, renaming it The Doo Wop Diner.  This is my tribute to him and to the other traveling entertainers who appeared in Lacey)

Jimmie was a friend of mine.  Always helped me pass the time.  Wore his heart outside himself for all the lonely word to see.

Jimmy turned to song and joke with a guitar and lots of hope.  Looking for a place to land, not another one night stand.

Jimmy always did his best, tried to answer each request.  Played his song and all the rest.  Not always with success.

And when the crowd had cleared the room, Jim was left with just the tune.  Looking for a place to land, not another one night stand.

Now its better, now its worse, first a tune and then a verse.  Never knowing how it ends – or just how it began.

Jimmie left this town you know, still had a need to roam.  Looking for a place to go.  A place that he could call his own.

Jimmy was a friend of mine.  Really helped my pass the time.  Hope he found a place to land – not another one night stand.

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Intercity Transit should be concerned about the future

June 18th, 2020 by Ken

Intercity Transit is in a bind.  It’s rolling in taxpayer money, but it’s losing ridership fast.

Most transit systems in the United States were losing riders before the Pandemic, but most systems will not get back a major portion of their former ridership because of the continuing concern.

But, Intercity Transit doesn’t care.  It had so much money before the Pandemic that it granted “Free” fares to everyone.  It doesn’t need fare revenue to continue to operate.  It can run buses completely empty for a decade and not be concerned about its revenue.

What it should be concerned about is the future of mass transit in Thurston County.

For years I’ve been telling Intercity Transit leadership that the days of large buses on fixed routes are as old as horse-drawn urban trains.  No one wants to ride behind a pile of horseshit.

Private transportation companies like Uber and Lyft are responding to the Pandemic by insuring covid-clean drivers and covid-clean riders.  Granted, they don’t serve everyone, but they do meet a need and have taken away millions of former transit riders.

If I were the leadership of Intercity Transit, I would use some of that taxpayer money to experiment with new ideas and concepts.  Eliminate big buses.  Register all regular users and let them call for daily service.  Challenge the concept and errors associated with the way they used to do business.  Don’t think outside the box, think outside the bus.

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20 or more shades of gray

June 16th, 2020 by Ken

They say it’s a land without shadows

A place of perpetual gray

Where the oceans and  trees, the land and the seas

Merge in a monochrome haze

 

But it’s not a land without color

As those who live here would say

It’s full of spectacular auras

With its 20 or more shades of gray

 

There’s the color that comes in the morning

When the sun peaks under the gray

That turns the mountain tops yellow

And puts a pink tint on the bay

 

There’s the light that comes in the evening

As the sun dies slowly away

That illuminates all of the colors

Of the 20 or more shades of gray

 

There’s the gray mist that nests at the treetop

That hides the green tips of the firs

And transforms the gray that surrounds them

Into a green misty type blur

 

Or the black clouds that hit in the winter

When the storms come in off the waves

Whose twisting cauldron of colors

Merge the 20 or more shades of gray

 

There’s a blue gray that softens in daytime

As the sun burns down through the clouds

Creating a few rays of sunshine

Which nourish the gathering crowds

 

It may be a land without shadows

As many who live here would say

But it’s truly a place filled with color

With its 20 or more shades of gray

 

 

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It’s a demographic revolt

June 14th, 2020 by Ken

While some are debating whether this is the worse year in contemporary American history, others are pointing to 1968 as the year that changed this country.  But others are pointing to 2020 as the year they hope will change the future of the United States.

While both 1968 and 2020 are unique to themselves, and both are change years, they do have one similarity.    The common cause is demographics.

In 1968, the Baby Boomers were entering adult hood.   Many were in their early teens and late 20’s.  They looked around and saw that the country they were growing up in, was not the country they thought it was, or should be.  The civil rights movement was encountering violence and hatred by some people in leadership positions.  The Vietnam War was being fought for reasons that many of them did not understand.  And two major political figures – Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated.  And, the president and political leadership was left wondering – what is happening.

It’s now 2020.  The Millennials are now in their 20’s and 30’s.  A vast Pandemic is sweeping the country and economic collapse seems just around the corner.  A two-decade war is continuing to have human and economic impacts.  Racism seems to have permeated every section of the country and the political leadership at all levels seems to be wanting.

Just as the Baby Boomers moved their parents aside and assumed control of the county.  So to are the Millennials  attempting just such a demographic coup.

Issues of injustice, war, poverty, homelessness can be solved with new, younger leadership is their cry.

The Boomers in their own way, made this a better country in which to live, work, play and raise a family.  While the major issues of their day were often blunted or shoved aside or just became less important.   This inequity and perceived lack of concern has led to this demographic revolt.  Let us lead and we will do better.

So, I say, go at it  young man and young woman.  Have a try.  It’s your turn.  Good luck.

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Lets get back to Officer Friendly

June 8th, 2020 by Ken

Defunding police departments is a catch phrase that brings joy to some, but dread to many others.  In some dream world, everyone is loving and kind and everyone looks out for each other.  That’s a dream of those who have never been the victim of a crime or who has never suffered from abuse and violence.

While we are a nation of laws, those laws are kept in force by some form of policing.

I’ve been concerned about the status of the local police forces in this country for some time.  I’ve been worried that they have lost sight of their original mission  –  to protect and serve.  While once the general public had involvement with police officers on a daily basis as they went about their patrols – we no longer have general contact with them in non-emergency matters.

I can date the change in our local police departments to one date – – September 11, 2001.  The terrorist attack on the United States changed every police force in the country from a community organization, to part of the national military searching for terrorists, both foreign and domestic.  A whole generation of police officers have grown up and joined the force since 9-11 with that in mind.

Police forces began to look more like the military and less like our next door neighbor.  They adopted new uniforms, mostly black.  They carry military type assault weapons.  Their general appearance is one of power and intimidation.   Gone is Officer Friendly.  Replaced by Darth Vader.  They are often looked on as an occupying force instead of an organization of good.

Instead of defunding police departments, we need to reallocate the money to actual “community policing.”   We need to re-educate police officers that not everyone they meet is an enemy to be feared, but more of a person to befriend.

I’ve never been a member of a police force and I can barely understand the pressures and concerns they face every day.  But, I have met many police officers as they go about their duty, and I’ve found most of them to be friendly and helpful.

But that’s not the image of many people.  I think its time to re-think what it means when we ask for community policing.  And, that doesn’t mean defunding police departments.

 

 

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I broke my addiction to television news

June 4th, 2020 by Ken

I’m a news junkie.  At my highest level I subscribed to three daily newspapers, was a subscriber to at least half a dozen magazines and looked forward to my favorite day of the week – – Sunday – where I could watch three news shows in a row – – Face The Nation. This Week, and Meet The Press.  Every evening I would watch the news on KOMO, KING and KIRO.

I ate it up.  I felt like the most informed individual I knew.

When cable stations started running their 24-hour news channels, Fox, CNN, MSNBC – I was overjoyed – and over-whelmed.

As the print media gradually began its decline I turned more and more to television to meet my need for news.  At first I was confused.  Were these really news shows – or were they the mouth organs of the political parties?  My taste for them soured, but I was addicted.  I couldn’t break away.  Even the local news channels became less and less news and more and more slanted opinions.

I began to realize that the stations I thought were news sources were actually entertainment designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator.  Actual news disappeared, replaced with fear, violence and partisan politics.  But, I hung on.

What I slowly came to realize is that  most news is generated from the East Coast.  All networks have their headquarters in New York .  The ideas expressed on my television came from isolated and insulated staff and announcers living in a major metropolitan area.  Even my only remaining major daily newspaper “The Wall Street Journal” comes from that point of view.

There is no real news on the Internet or on social media.

I think I finally broke my addiction.   I haven’t watched a single news show in the last two weeks.  That doesn’t mean I’m not aware of events.  It just means that I get my news elsewhere.  I use my social contacts.  The people I know, and the people I talk to, keep me informed.   I learned a while back, that if it is really important – I’ll find out about it.

Here’s the purpose of this article.  If you want to be happier and feel good about yourself and your place in this world – – stop watching television news.  And, don’t believe anything you hear or read on-line.  it’s not worth the effort or the anxiety.

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All we need is a plain, ordinary dose of common sense

May 20th, 2020 by Ken

It was the beginning of the 20th Century.  The farmer was riding his horse into town when suddenly he heard an unusual sound.  In a minute, appearing on the road before him was a strange vehicle, driven by a young man with a leather helmet and glasses.

The farmer looked at the machine as he tried to hold his skitterish horse.  “It’s one of those damned automobiles,” he said.  “I’d never ride in one of them.  It’s too dangerous.”

And, the farmer was right.  As more automobiles plied the trails, paths and roads of America, the death rate soared.  By the 1950’s more than 50,000 people were being killed in traffic accidents every year.  Something had to be done.   And it was.

Government stepped in and required safety equipment.  Seat belts, collapsible steering wheels, safety glass in the windshields, air bags for the driver and later for passengers.  Later, safety seats for children were made mandatory.  The government also made highways safer by designing highways with longer off-ramps, wider lanes, collapsible barriers and eventually with speed limits.

By the turn of the 21st Century automobile deaths had declined to 30,000 even though millions of cars were now on the road than in 1950.

It was a change in society, forced on the automobile manufacturers by the public’s call for help and the governments control of the money.

Such is the factor facing society today with fear of pandemics.   Just as the farmer feared the first automobile, so too are some of the public in fear of Covid 19.  Calling on government to do something, government also reacted like the farmer – with fear.

Society buttoned up as prescribed and stayed home for 90 days.  But, some brave souls ventured out and put their toe into the fear.  “It wasn’t bad,” they said.  Just show a little caution. With access to a mask, watching personal contacts with other people, and engaging in proper hygiene, you can not only live, but also thrive.

What’s needed now, is plain, ordinary common sense on the part of our elected officials.  A little understanding of human nature, less reliance of science and scientists and a few common sense rules, and the public can venture out once again and watch as the next new thing causes panic as it rolls down the roadway.

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Stop watching cable news

May 19th, 2020 by Ken

Forty years ago next week, one of the most seminal moments of the late 20th Century changed the way Americans thought about their world.

June 1 will mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of CNN, the first of the 24-hour newscasts.  That was followed a few short years later by the creation of MSNBC and then Fox News.  Americans could get their news fix anytime they turned on their television at any hour of the day or night.

Hope was that people would become better informed and then better citizens.   It didn’t turn out that way.

Networks learned early on that while there may have been enough news happening all around the world, there wasn’t enough to keep the interest of the viewer longer than an hour or so.  Something more was needed.  And what was needed was context.

So, the 24-hour news networks added commentators, experts, specialists and just plain interesting people to the mix of news.  And, the news networks became less about news and more about the opinions of those commentators, experts, specialists and interesting people.

And, to get people to watch the news longer than an hour, those opinions began to stray from the middle-of-the-road, to the fringes of public thought.  And, as cream separates from milk, the networks began to echo the extreme opinions of Americans.

While the opinions became sharper and more pronounced, the news bureaus began to cover stories and events which echoed the views of its commentators, experts, specialists and just plain interesting people.

Now the public is no longer served strictly by 24-hour news, but by biases and opinions. based on what news stories best fit with the views of the commentators, experts, specialists and just plain interesting people.

If you want to be a better informed citizen, I have some advice for you.  STOP WATCHING CABLE NEWS.

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Is Inslee looking at recovery or re-election?

May 9th, 2020 by Ken

Jay Inslee has announced his three advisory group that will help him determine when to re-open the state to business.

It appears our governor is more concerned with getting re-elected than he is in re-opening our economy

His committees are loaded with associates and supporters of the governor and his party.  His list reads like those who contribute money and workers towards Democratic candidates.  Labor unions, Tribal leaders, Farm Workers, the State Labor Council.

Not a single business representative from the hospitality industry, restaurants and farmers.  No retailers, no chamber representatives, no homebuilders, not even a representative from the AWB or the Washington Roundtable.

I’m certain the governor knew he would be criticized no matter who he appointed, so he said – What the hell – might just as well appoint our friends.  Can’t let a crisis go to waste.

A quick dip in the Inslee pool and we can readily see that he wants a third term.  And, if the economy continues to tank, he can always blame someone else who will be on the Fall ballot.

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Local economic impact of shutdown

May 6th, 2020 by Ken

According to Michael Cade from the Economic Development Council, Thurston County has been hard hit by the economic shutdown.

Cade said that households in the Thurston County have lost 30 percent of their income as of the end of April.  Some 8673 jobs have been lost – 2774 in restaurants, 871 in casinos, 800 in dental offices, 703 in medical offices, 565 in auto sales and 343 in motels/hotels.The total economic impact is more than $1.4 Billion so far.

But, Cade said, Thurston County is better off than 88 percent of all counties in the country.  Because of our reliance on state and federal employment, the county has come out in better shape than most other counties in the United States.

For additional information go to ThurstonStrongt.org.

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Ken’s Award Winning Fudge

May 4th, 2020 by Ken

I’ve been making fudge for more than 40 years.  I’ve entered many contests and won them all except one.  In that case, I used old stale walnuts.   Here is my recipe.  I’ll tell you how I make it and then give you explanations at the end.  Read the whole story before beginning.

3 cups of sugar – – 1/2 cup cocoa – – 1 cup of whole milk – – 3 tablespoons of corn syrup

Mix all those ingredients into a medium saucepan and cook on medium heat stirring constantly until mixture boils.  Let boil for 7 minutes and 20 seconds without stirring.

Place pan in sink of cold water to let it cool.  While cooling add 3 tablespoons of butter, a cap of vanilla and half a cup of chopped walnuts if you want.

When bottom of pan is cool, stir until mixture begins to harden.  Quickly pour onto butter greased plate when mixture begins to set up

Enjoy while still warm.  Cover if any fudge is left.

Additional Information – I’ve used the same pan and the same spoon for more than 40 years.  I’ve used three different stoves and have had to adjust the cooking time.  I use an old aluminum pot and a wooden spoon.  Never stir candy with a metal spoon.  There’s something about the chemical components that makes the fudge hard to set up.

I use no salt in my recipe.  There’s enough salt in the butter.

Over the years I know just how much time to cook.  If you use a candy thermometer cook until the mixture reaches a temperature of  234 degrees.

Not every batch sets up right.  Sometimes I’ll have to cook two or three batches until I get the more perfect one.    If your fudge hardens in the pan while stirring see if you can get it out on the plate.  If not, you can heat it up and pour if without stirring.  This usually results in very hard fudge.   If you stir the fudge and it doesn’t set up it means you haven’t cooked it long enough.  You can recook it to boiling for two more minutes then stir.  If it still doesn’t set up pour it out and start again.

Sometimes you have to cook two or three batches to make one good one.  That’s normal, even for me.

There are many things which impact the fudge.  There may be too much moisture in the air.  The pan may be thinner or thicker.  You may have used too little milk or too much milk.  Keep cooking until you get consistent results then write it down and do it the same way next time.

Remember, making fudge is a scientific experiment.  It takes time, tinkering and patience.

Good luck

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