I drank beer with the president

December 11th, 2018 by Ken

It was a fairly normal day around the office.  I was working for some government agency dealing in international trade.  After finishing a paper on trade policies with Cuba, I took a break and went to the break room.

It was an average size room,.  On one side was a  bar counter with three bar stools and a coffee maker behind the counter.  A few small tables were in front.

i went behind the bar to make a cup of coffee when I saw President Barack Obama and Michelle  pass by in the hallway.  Someone said “This is our break room” and the president peaked a look.  He started to turn away, leaned back and looked again, then said “You have German Pilsner?”  He had notice a box on top of the refrigerator which had a German logo on it.

I spoke up.  “We sure do sir.  I think we have a few behind the counter.”

I could see his confusion.  Was it because we had German beer in a government office, or could it be that he would really like a beer.  “Come in, I’ll pour you one.”

He hesitated a couple of seconds, looked at Michelle, then said, “I sure could use a good German beer.”

The president and first lady sat down at the counter.  A half dozen men followed and stood behind them giving the room. and me, a silent look.   I reached under the counter and  pulled out two beers.  I also found two pilsner glasses and put them on the counter.  Opened the beer, filled the glasses, and sat them in front of the president and first lady.

I  could see the enjoyment in his face as he drank the beer, slowly, sipping, enjoying each mouthful.   I picked up a bar towel and started wiping off the counter.  At one time, I even picked up the first lady’s glass and wiped underneath it.

What happened next, I can’t tell you – because I woke up in my bed.

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Dialogue 12 – Snowflake

December 10th, 2018 by Ken


“What’s a Snowflake,” she asked.

“Wait, you mean you don’t know what a snowflake is, he asked?

“I know what a snowflake is,” she said.  “I’m not talking about the frozen rain that falls from the sky.  I’m talking about the common usage that’s been going around the internet.”

“Snowflake is a derogatory term being used by some people to describe the current generation of kids and young adults.  These kids have been sheltered and pampered by their parents, by their schools, and even by the government to such an extent, that they are fragile and liable to fall apart if something offends them.

“That’s why they use the term Snowflake to describe them, because a snowflake is fragile and falls apart when you touch it.”

“That seems a little out of place,” she said.  “I agree that today’s kids seem to find fault with just about everything, but isn’t that the way kids have always been?   Weren’t we that way when we were kids?” she asked.

“I don’t know about you, but I know I didn’t fall apart if someone looked at me, or if someone disagreed with me, or if I didn’t agree with something they said.  “That’s part of growing up and becoming an adult.  You need to be able to tolerate the slings and arrows that others throw your way.

“You have to learn to stand up for yourself without relying on government to help you out,” he said.

“What wrong with that,’ she said.  “People of color, poor people, disabled people, have always been looked down upon by our society.  Why shouldn’t government step in and even things out.”

“Government has it’s role,” he said.  “But, when you tend to rely on government for everything, then you place your future in the hands of a bureaucracy that can limit your freedoms as quickly as they can assure it

“Anyway, I’ve got to go now,” he said.

“Why, Where are you going?” she asked.

“I’ve got to make sure my unemployment check was deposited in my account today,” he said.


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Observations on the news

December 3rd, 2018 by Ken

The City of Olympia’s homeless response coordinator Colin DeForrest said in a recent news article that the temperatures of business owners are “ready to blow” in response to the homeless situation in downtown Olympia.  His observations are right on target.  Recently a meeting of Olympia Downtown business owners was forced to move to a new location when protesters took over the meeting facility.  The business owners moved to a new location, only to be faced with a protester who refused to leave the meeting.  Several  business owners responded and physically showed the protester to the door, in the process of which the protester suffered minor injuries.

Riots in France are over a significant increase in the gas tax for the purpose of stopping global warming.  Here in Washington State voters have twice rejected a tax which would have also significantly increased the state gas tax for a similar purpose – to reduce the impact of global warming.  Anything we do to try to reverse or stop global warming would be insignificant and extremely costly until India and China stop pumping pollution into the air.  Those two countries account for 80 percent of all pollutants released into the atmosphere.

A recent editorial in The Olympian recently took the City of Lacey to task for not having any women or minorities as finalists for the position of Lacey Police Chief.  All six of the announced finalists are white males.  I suspect that all of the finalists are well-qualified for the position, but the city has refused to release the resumes of those finalists.  Diversity is an element that needs to be taken into consideration whenever we make a hiring decision . If – and that’s a big IF – there’s a problem, then it rests with the firm hired by the city to make the first cut.  Incidentally The Olympian’s editorial board is comprised of all women.  Where’s the diversity there?


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Disparity of wealth largest problem for 21st Century

November 27th, 2018 by Ken

Disparity of wealth between the rich and the poor has always been with us since the beginning of civilization.  For various reasons, some people have more money, goods and influence than other people.

The same holds true for countries.  Some countries are richer than other countries.  Along with that richness, often comes some form of democratic institutions, although some rich countries are not democratic; China for example.

Into the 20th Century, it was assumed that we have rich countries and poor countries. Poor countries looked to rich countries for  economic and development help, which sometimes took the form of military help.

Poor countries often saw out-migration of its populace in search of a better life as a fact of life.

With the beginning of the 21st Century, the number of people seeking economic improvement in their lives has increased substantially.  That’s due to instantaneous communication and world-wide connection to the internet.

Previously, people in poor countries knew they were poor, they just didn’t have anything to compare their poverty to. Now, the disparity of wealth is no further away than the computer in their school room and in many cases to the cell phone in their hand.  They can now see just how poor they are compared to what they’re seeing.

And, they don’t like it.  The wealth of other countries and the poverty of their country just doesn’t seem fair.

So, they leave, sometimes risking their lives, for a better future in a richer country, where even the poor seem rich.

But, it isn’t only poverty.  It’s war, it’s government corruption and it’s crime. It’s dysfunctional government.   Adding to the woes is climate change which has caused droughts and storms and  placed their former subsistence living at the very end of the life scale.

It isn’t only the United States which is facing tens of thousands of refugees from Central America.  Europe is facing a similar problem.  Refugees from Africa, from drought-affected areas are looking for a better life.   More than a million survivors fleeing war in the Middle East have already settled in Germany while millions of others are pounding on the door of Greece, France and Italy demanding to be let in.

This is going to be the biggest problem facing rich countries in the 21st Century.  What to do about refugees seeking a better life.

President  Donald Trump, in his own way, has seen the future.  His solution is to build a wall and keep them all out.   Others want them all let in.  Germany is having its own problems today accommodating those million refugees.  Some want to invest money in their home countries with the goal of making life easier so the people want to stay home

Whatever the solution – or solutions –  government is going to have to make a decision on what to do.  This will be a problem for the next hundred years and will only get worse as time goes on.

Our leaders in the 21st Century will have to find an answer.

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Dialogue 13 – Luck

November 25th, 2018 by Ken

“Do you believe in luck,” she asked.

“In what context,” he said.

“Well, an acquaintance of mine just won $3.5 million playing the lottery.  He always wins.  I swear he was born with a horseshoe up his ass.  He could fall into a pile of shit and make a fortune selling fertilizer.”

“Some people seem to be lucky, but I think it’s more that they’re just opportunistic,” he said.   I think that there are three element to luck and they’re based on opportunity.”

“Tell me more wise one born under a lucky star.”

“Those who seem lucky just have an ability to see an opportunity.   That’s the first element,” he said.  “They recognize an opportunity when it comes their way.  Then, they have the flexibility to take advantage of the opportunity.  Too many people fail to take advantage because they aren’t able to get out of other commitments.

“And, then they have to act on the opportunity,” he said.  “You’d be surprised how many people just stand on the sidelines and watch opportunity run down the field.”

“How does that relate to winning the lottery,” she asked.

“I could say that you have to buy a ticket in order to win, but that would be too simplistic,” he said.  “It’s just that some people like to gamble and it’s those same people who often take chances on opportunities which come their way.”

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“To buy a lottery ticket,” he said.  “I think the pot’s now over $200 million.”

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Lets clean up College Street

November 21st, 2018 by Ken

For more than a decade, the City of Lacey has had a plan to widen and improve traffic flow on College Street.   The proposal calls for widening the street, putting in bike lanes, better sidewalks, roundabouts and landscaped medians.  The plan hasn’t been implemented for two reasons – – cost and the impact on traffic flow during construction.

While the city waits, it treats College Street with benign neglect.  In the meantime, the street has become an eyesore and a garbage collection facility.

All along College Street, from Lacey Boulevard to the Yelm Highway, the property and right-away on both side of the street are littered with refuse.  Overturned grocery carts, beer bottles, black plastic bags full of garbage, liquor bottles and paper sacks from our more famous fast food chains full of someone’s leftovers, lay along the street.

The city will say that the responsibility to clean up the right-of-way falls on the property owners.  But, the city bears some responsibility as well.  It should organize a clean up effort, enlist the help of the property owners and make certain that safety is maintained in the process.

College Street is the main north/south thoroughfare in the city.  It’s a disgrace and sets a wrong example.  The city needs to clean it up.

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1961 was a good year for Lacey

November 20th, 2018 by Ken

1961 was a good year.   Baseball was still the American past time , American music was still dominated by love songs,  the young vivacious John F. Kennedy was in the White House and Vietnam wasn’t even on the horizon.

It was also a good year to own a business in Olympia.  Some 80 percent of all retail sales in the entire county emanated from a four block area of downtown Olympia where everything you would ever need could be found – – including all three major automobile dealers.

Olympia government was controlled by a three-member city commission and all three slots were filled by downtown Olympia business owners.   The Olympia chamber was also dominated by downtown Olympia business interests.   Everything was calm and peaceful and no one could see what was about to happen.

A few miles outside of the city limits, to the east, in a unincorporated area called Lacey, a handful of young men were about to shake up the entire South Sound area.

Most of them were veterans of World War 2 and some of them also served in Korea.  They settled in the Lacey area after discharge because it offered them opportunities to meet the needs of veterans without the restrictions of city codes for  housing and for the children they were having as part of the nation’s “baby boom.”

Al Thompson had built Tanglewilde and Thompson Place.   Mo Loveless had purchased the old Mt. View Golf Course and was building the largest retirement community in the Northwest called Panorama City.   Bob Blume was operating a sporting goods store located at the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Sleater Kinney and selling real estate out of the back.  Not only had he been building the housing developments of Belair and Brentwood, but was purchasing land to build a regional shopping center.

The three were just the most well-known of those early Lacey businessmen.  Other young men like Lee Bensley, Gordy Schultz, Tommy Martin, Ken Wilcox, Mike Ostrander ,Al Homann, John Rupp, and Arden Deering, were making their mark on the Lacey community as well.

Many of them would gather every morning for coffee and conversation at the Flavor Nook, a drive-in restaurant on Pacific Avenue.   Most of them were members of the Olympia chamber and  the subject of starting a chamber of commerce in Lacey soon became a major topic in that year of 1961.

By September, the group had drafted by-laws and in October the Lacey Area Chamber of Commerce was formed with the motto “Where Free Enterprise Thrives.”   Elected as the first president was retired businessman Ray Kidwiller.

He served two terms as Lacey chamber president.   He later died of a heart attack at a Lacey chamber meeting after giving a talk about the need for economic development in the community.   A scholarship fund was established in his name and continues to provide monetary help to students in the Lacey area who are selecting business as their major.

Selected as the first secretary was Agnes Kenmir (who preferred the title secretary to that of chamber director).  Agnes went on to spend more than two decades leading the Lacey chamber’s management.

The new chamber didn’t cut its ties to the Olympia Chamber.  They made the president of the Olympia chamber an ex-officio member of the Lacey chamber’s board of directors.   They also organized joint chamber committees and called for a joint meeting of the two chambers once a month.   Joint meetings and joint committees were a staple of the relationship between the two chambers for nearly a decade. During a joint meeting in April 1965, the meeting of the two chambers was rocked by an earthquake.

With Christmas coming on, the Lacey chamber created a sub-committee to procure a community Christmas tree, and Bob Blume volunteered to head that committee.   In his exuberance Bob cut a very large tree and spectators recall seeing his car drive down the road with its front wheels almost off the road.

Two projects the chamber undertook almost immediately, was the need for street lights and a flooding issue in Market Square.   The chamber worked with Puget Power (as it was known then) to get the street lights along Sleater Kinney and Pacific Avenue.   The long time flooding problem in Market Square was the result of a lack of sewer systems.   The chamber contracted to build a flood control ditch that ran from the shopping center to a drainage ditch that ran along the railroad, thus alleviating some of the problems.   (Long term relief came with cityhood and a stormwater system.)

For several years the chamber operated out of rented space or donated space.  After South Sound Center opened in 1966 it even operated out a store front donated by KGY Radio.   But, always, the chamber hoped to have its own building and set up a building fund.   Donations played a role and a chamber golf tournament brought in funds on a regular basis.   In 1980 the chamber was able to purchase its own building on Pacific Avenue next to the Lacey Fire District headquarters.   (Now the site of John Paul the Second High School.) Washington Governor Dan Evans cut the ribbon and dedicated the new building.  The property was later sold to the fire district for their headquarters expansion.

Over the decades, the Lacey chamber has changed its name, changed its location and changed executive directors.   But it always had the best interests of the Lacey business community as its first goal.

It forced the US Postal Service to improve service at its Lacey branch.   It fought with the City of Lacey over its restrictive sign ordinance and eventually was able to get some relief.   It supported Lacey schools by its support of levy and bond issues and it continues to offer programs and information of value to anyone who owns or does business in Lacey.






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The dumbest thing I ever did

November 14th, 2018 by Ken

I’ve done some dumb things in my life.  Some I did out of ignorance, some out the search for adventure and some just to do it.  But, the dumbest thing I ever did encompassed all of those elements.

It was December 1966.  I was a 24-year old newly married veteran just back from nearly six years in the military.  I had made acquaintances with Dick Johnson who had served with me and had been discharged a little earlier than I.

Dick was a tinkerer and an airline mechanic.  He had been working on building an airplane in his garage and called me one day.   The plane was ready and he was bringing it from Lakewood to the Olympia airport for its maiden flight and asked me if I wanted to go along.

It never dawned on me that this was a dumb idea.  An airplane built in a garage, on its first flight ever and in the middle of winter.  Of course I answered yes.

When I got to the airport at the designated time – early in the morning, Dick pulled up in his VW bus, pulling the airplane, with its wings disassembled .  We unloaded it, put on the wings and pulled it to the runway.  After fueling we took off.  The plane performed well.  I sensed no problems at all.

We decided to fly to Friday Harbor in the San Juan’s, have lunch and fly back.  We landed safely, had lunch (I had a hamburger), refueled and got the plane back into the air.

Then, the Puget Sound winter weather hit.  Rain, sleet and clouds surrounded our little plane.  Since we were flying visual with no instruments whatsoever, we  needed to get down below the clouds.  We descended  lower and lower until we were just above the treetops.  Dick looked for a place to land the plane and found it.

An apple orchard on Vashon Island.  He brought the plane down on a little access road and pulled into an open area where several warehouses sat.  We exited the plane and went into one of the buildings.  There was no one around.  We decided to sit out the rain and the clouds hoping we could get back into the air before it got dark.  Flying with no instruments in the dark was not something Dick wanted to do.

While waiting, we began to eat apples from the dozens of boxes stored in the warehouse.  When Dick went outside to get a better view of the weather, I took a box of apples and stuck it in the back of the plane.

Dick returned and said, the cloud level was rising and if were going to make it off the ground now was the time to try.   He noticed the box of apples and told me to take it back into the warehouse.  “We don’t need the extra weight,” he said.  I did what I was told, but before leaving, I filled my old Army field jacket with as many apples as I could, maybe half a box.

Dick started the plane, turned it around, and got as long a start as he could.  He were worried about some power lines at the end of the road, but he revved up the engine, gave it all the power he could, and we took off, clearing the power lines by just a few feet.

In the air, and feeling a little more comfortable, I reached into my jacket, pulled out an apple and said, “Here, you want an apple?”  I thought Dick was going to lose his temper, but he took the apple, looked at me and said, “That’s one of the stupidest things you could have done.  What if we didn’t clear the power lines,” and then his voice trailed off.   We now had a bigger problem.

It started to get dark. It gets dark early in Western Washington in December.  We had no instrumentation and had to fly visual.  Lights were on in the houses and the towns below us.  We tried to make our way by identifying the different communities and I wasn’t sure we were going in the right direction until I saw the state capitol building all lit up.

We finally landed at the airport and there to greet us was not only our wives, but a representative of the civil air patrol just starting to call off those who had volunteered to look for a missing plane with two aboard.

It wasn’t until much later, with a little more maturity, that I realized what a dumb thing I had done and how easily events might have turned out quite differently.

I heard later that Dick had sold the plane to someone in California.  I heard it was a good plane.

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Dialogue 11 – Bucket List

November 11th, 2018 by Ken

“What do you have on your bucket list?” she asked

“What makes you think I even have a bucket list?” he replied.

“You’ve got to have a bucket list,” she said.  “You’re getting to the point in your life where you have to decide what you want to do with the days you have left.  Really, you don’t have a bucket list?”

“Look.  I’ve been everywhere I’ve ever wanted to go and more,” he said.  “I’ve written my book, sang my songs and experienced many of the good things about life.  But, I’ll admit, I do have a bucket list.”

“Well, don’t keep me in suspense any longer.  What’s on your bucket list.”

“I have three things on my bucket list,’ he said.  “The first was to grow a pony tail. I did that.  Then I wanted to learn how to whistle.  I learned enough about whistling to know I’ll never get better than I am now.  That’s it.”

“Wait, you said you have three things.  What’s the third?”

“It’ll be a while before I get it done,” he said.

“What is it?” she asked.

“I want to get a speeding ticket when I’m 90,” he said.

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Dialogue 10 – Leadership

November 5th, 2018 by Ken

“What do you think it takes to be a good leader?” she asked

“Why?” he asked.  “Are you planning to lead something.”

“They asked me to  head up the schools parent organization and I’m not sure I’m the best person for the job,” she said.

“It seems to me, the first quality of a good leader is confidence.  You don’t seem to  have much confidence in your abilities.”

“I’ve never been the leader,” she said.  “I’ve always been the worker bee.  I like doing things and helping people out, but I’ve never, really been the leader.”

“I don’t think that’s true,” he said.  “You’ve always been the leader around here.  You plan all the trips, make all the reservations and follow up on all the details.   I think that makes you a leader.”

“No, it makes me the worker bee,” she said again.  “Someone else decides what needs to be done, and I do it.   Do you think just anyone can be a leader?”

“I do,” he said.  “Do you enjoy being involved in school activities?”

“I love it,” she said.  “I think there’s nothing more important than to see that the kids get a good education and that the school has the resources to get that done.”

“Well, you’ve got the first element of a good leader – – Passion,” he said.  “I think a good leader needs to have passion and I think you have it.”

“So, should I do it”” she said.

“I think you should go for it,” he said.  “Once people see how passionate you are about helping the school, the more they’ll see you as the leader.  All you have to do is tell them what needs to be done, and they’ll do it.”

“Will you help me?”

“I don’t know if I’ll have the time,” he said.  “You probably should ask somebody else.”


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A love letter to Lacey Rotary

November 1st, 2018 by Ken

It was 1973.  I had just gone to work for a small weekly community newspaper called The Lacey Leader.  I started as a reporter, but soon worked my way up to city editor.  Promotion comes quick when there’s only two of you in the newsroom and one of them is the publisher.

While I was centered on the news, I soon learned the financial facts of running a newspaper.  Advertising pays the bills.  If you’re going to sell advertising in a small community of 6000, you have to depend on local businesses to buy.

Unfortunately Lacey was a new city with very little sense of community.  I knew that if we were to make it, we needed to create a sense of community, and then translate that sense of community into support for the community’s newspaper.

Our local undertaker Doug Twibell, stopped by the newspaper office weekly to drop off death notices.  One day he asked me if I wanted to come to Rotary with him.  I knew of Rotary and I knew that it was filled with community leaders.  I eagerly agreed to lunch.

I was right.  Many men of importance in the community  were a member of the Lacey Rotary Club.   I had to join and I did.  I thought if we could get all of the city leaders in the same organization we could begin to create a sense of community.  But, we needed as many of the leaders as we could get.  We need business owners, franchisees, bankers, clergymen, school administrators and city officials.  We needed them all in the same room on a regular basis.

As a newspaper editor (and reporter) I had access to almost everyone of them.  I began to recruit.  No one was too small or too great not to be considered.   In just a few months I had sponsored a dozen new members.  Not all of them stayed, but they had exposure to a cross-section of the community.

I continued recruiting members into the Lacey Rotary Club, several a year.  When a new business opened, I was the first through the door, sometimes before they had even opened their doors.  When a new administrator was hired in a government position, I was one of the first in their office.

Many of them wanted to become involved in the community. Some because it would help their business, others because they needed the community to support some cause.  And they joined.   The club began to grow and I began to get a reputation as a “go-getter”.

I eventually left my newspaper job but by that time, I had become invested in the community.  I continued my involvement with Lacey Rotary and continued my involvement in the Lacey community.

As the years went by I sponsored more and more members in the club.   Before I knew it, I was creeping upon a hundred members.   No one in the club seemed to care, but I did.  My 100th member was an officer with the Lacey Fire Department.  He stayed only a short time and left in six months.  But, I’ve continued to sponsor new members.

Did I accomplish my goal?  Was the Lacey Rotary Club a catalyst for the creation of the greater Lacey community?  I think so.  I can point out the creation of city parks, the support for the Lacey Boys and Girls Club.  The many social service organizations which have received funding from the Lacey club and the hundreds of students who have received scholarship money.

While those types of activities help make a community, its the table talk that went on at Rotary meetings when business, government and educational leaders share a meal and talk about their day.

Lacey is a strong stable community with a population passing 50,000.  People who live in Lacey know they live in Lacey.  There’s no doubt in their minds anymore.

And, members of the Lacey Rotary Club were instrumental in helping make a vibrant Lacey community.


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America’s Cultural Revolution

October 28th, 2018 by Ken

Five decades ago, Communist China was racked by the Cultural Revolution.  Chairman Mao deZong unleashed hordes of young Chinese to rid their country of Western ideas and to bring the country into the future, where youth ruled.

This was all a plan by Mao to wipe out the leadership of the Communist Party and assure his place as the undisputed leader of the largest country in the world.

The result of course was that the old ways were shunted aside; that all intellectuals were made to pay for perceived mistakes in past actions, and that everyone must conform to one ideal.   In the process two million teachers, political leaders and  educated elite were murdered by mobs of young people and millions of other leaders were sent to work in the countryside with the peasants.

This Cultural Revolution set China back two decades and only began to function again when the country began to understand what it had done and reversed course.

I see a similar cultural revolution underway in the United States today.  It’s a revolution against our history and our culture – and it’s aimed at the old white men which created a country in which free enterprise thrived and everyone had an opportunity to rise as far as he could.

Of course, there were significant flaws in that scenario.  Women and minorities were left out of the American Dream.  The way business was conducted is now  under fire.  The way women were treated is deemed a “crime”.  The way minorities were exploited and used has created anger which is just now boiling to the surface to such a degree that it can no longer be ignored.

And now the American Cultural Revolution has been unleashed.

All of those crimes committed by old white males must be brought to the surface and those old white men punished for their crimes and the crimes of their fathers and grandfathers and great grandfathers.  Statues of our Founding Fathers are being torn down.  Decades of abuse of women and minorities are now coming to the surface and “modern” public opinion asked to cast judgment.  Our entire American capitalistic system is under attack because it was built on the backs and labor of minorities and women.

These formerly disenfranchised groups are even asking if our capitalistic system should remain and suggesting that a fairer more inclusive system should take its place – – maybe something like socialism.

They are being abetted by our new political elite who see a vast sea of votes just waiting for them.  This attack on American traditions and old white men is being  spread by social media. And the American press, looking for readers, hits and viewers has bought into the idea that only they can place this anger into its proper position.

American is gripped by a Cultural Revolution, just as dangerous and just as far-reaching as that which gripped China four decades ago.  And, until an agreement is reached only anger and violence will follow.

Lets hope that it doesn’t take 20 years for Americans to see what they’ve done to our cultural and our society.

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Laceyites make their mark

October 23rd, 2018 by Ken

As Graeme Sackrison ends his term as president of the Lacey South Sound Chamber of Commerce, I’m reminded that he is also the current president of the North Thurston School Board and has previously served as mayor of the City of Lacey.  An accomplishment he can be proud of.   But, he isn’t the only Laceyite to have served the community in elective office.

Judy Wilson is a current member of the Lacey Fire Commission.  Before that she also served on the North Thurston School Board and got her career in politics started by getting elected to a term as a  Thurston County Commissioner.

Of course, no list would be complete without talking about Karen Fraser.  Karen started as mayor of Lacey, served as a member of the Thurston County Commission, then as state representative and ended her run as state senator.  She continues to be well-liked and respected for her years of service.

But the person who has the most varied career in “public service” is Mike Kreidler.  Mike started as a member of the North Thurston School Board, served as a state representative then a state senator and as a representative in the US Congress.  He currently serves as Washington State Insurance Commissioner.

While some of these people may not consider themselves Laceyites, their careers took them through Lacey.  I’ll claim them as Laceyites.


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Dialogue 7 – Life story

October 20th, 2018 by Ken

“I think I’m going to write my life story,” he said.

“What, why,” she asked.  “Why do you think your life is so fascinating that anyone will even be interested in your story?”

“The kids might,” he said.

“When have the kids ever asked you about your life?  I don’t think they even know what you do for a living,” she said.  “Why would you want to spend your time trying to tell them about your life?”

“I have to,” he said.  “I have to leave something of myself behind.  I want people to know that I was here, on Planet Earth, and that my life meant something.”

“Did it?” she asked.  “Did your life really have any meaning at all?  Have you ever done anything that people would want to know about.  Anything that people would want to read about.”

“I loved you,” he said.   “I loved the kids.  I have many friends whom I talked with, listened to and felt their joy and their pain.   Doesn’t that count for something?”

“Sure it does ,” she said. “Sure it does.  But, does it make a good story?”

“It might if I embellish it a little, make a few things up, add some exciting events, put in a few fake facts.  That should make my story better.”

“It’d be fiction then,” she said.

“But, the kids might actually read it,” he said. “It doesn’t make any difference if it’s true or not.  Never let facts get in the way of a good story.  Hell, it might be good enough to make the Best Seller List.”

“Better take some writing classes then,” she said.


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This neighborhood of mine

October 17th, 2018 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 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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Dialogue 3 – Raising teenagers

October 15th, 2018 by Ken


“Why do loving children, whom you held in your arms, kissed their hurts and helped them ride their bikes, suddenly become someone you loath.  Someone you don’t recognize as your loving daughter,” she asked?

“That’s a question parents have been asking since they first realized where children come from,” he replied.  “But, I think I have an answer.”

“You always seem to find something to say,” she said.  “Go ahead, enlighten me.”

“You only have about 10 or 11 years to teach your children what you consider the right way to live their lives., to give them a moral code.  By then, they are under the influence of whatever peer group they’ve joined.   After that you have almost no control over them.

“Therefore, you have to pick their friends for them as early as possible.”

“That’s it,” she asked.   “That’s all I can do.”

“Your only role as a parent of a teenager is to keep them in school, keep them out of jail and stop them from getting pregnant.  Nothing else is important – – not a tattoo, not the color of their hair, not the clothing they wear.

“Stick to the important goals and let every thing else slide.  If you let the little stuff go, they’ll listen to you on the big stuff,” he said.

“Do you have any kids?” she asked.

“No,” he said.  “Never had the honor.”

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National issues hit state ballot

October 13th, 2018 by Ken

Police brutality, global warming, obesity, gun control.  All of these national issues have made it onto your November election ballot in the form of state initiatives.   And most of these ballot measures are being financed from out of state national corporations and billionaire do-gooders who have found they can make their money speak.

Initiative 1631 slaps a tax on polluters who pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  This attempt at evading global warming is paid  for by out-of-state interests who see Washington State as a good test ground for the idea of making big industry pay to clean up the air.  Such a move has never been approved in any other state – not even California – – and a previous recent effort here in this state failed.  Fighting it of course are big oil interests.  If approved by the voters, the measure would significantly raise the price of gasoline and every product shipped by truck or rail.   The fee would be passed on to consumers.

Initiative 1634 is the direct effect of Seattle’s soda pop tax to fight obesity.  This measure would forbid other local governments from doing the same thing as well as expanding the scope to cover all food and beverages.  Big soda like Coke and Pepsi funded the initiative campaign and are funding the effort to pass it at the polls.  If the measure fails consumers should be concerned that local governments can approve a similar tax and even expand it to other unhealthy foods such as sugared cereal and even to red meats.

Initiative 1639 would put severe restrictions on gun owners, chip away at the Second Amendment and place undo and burdensome reporting requirements on those who own guns of any kind.   I’ve already written elsewhere that this is the worse state initiative in the last 50 years.  National interests are using liberal Washington State for a testing ground to move these gun restrictions nationwide.  I can’t emphasize enough how badly written and far-reaching this initiative is.  Most of it will probably be overturned by the courts, but such an action will take years and the damage will have been done.

Initiative 940 is in response to perceive police violence on minorities.  It places restrictions on where, when and how police can use deadly force, makes it easier to prosecute police officers for the use of force, and requires additional mental health and anti-bias training.   It is supported by most organizations concerned with minority rights and opposed by most police agencies.  I’m not certain that such a measure is needed, but it does put pressure on local police to be more aware of their biases and perhaps take a quick second to look at alternatives to deadly force.



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Dialogue 6 – Politics and friendship

October 8th, 2018 by Ken

“I think I just lost a good friend,” she said.

“What makes you think that?” he asked.

“Well, we were arguing about a political post she made, and then she just disappeared from my Facebook page.  I think she unfriended me.”

“Was she a really good friend,” he asked.

“My best.”

“Do you think you really lost your best friend over a political post?”

“I don’t see any other reason for it.  What do you think I should do,” she asked?

“Well, if she was really a “friend” you wouldn’t have lost her over a difference of opinion,” he said.  “There’s a big deal of difference between a Facebook friend and a real friend.  A real friend doesn’t drop you when you disagree with her.

“I’ve always said, you can reject a person’s opinions without rejecting the person.”

“Have you always believed that,” she asked.

“In this partisan political climate it’s harder.  But if she’s a real good friend, it’s worth the effort to listen to her opinion even stronger.   That doesn’t mean that you can’t keep your own opinion,.”

“Do you do that,” she asked.

“I try.  Believe me, I try.  In the end its worth it.   Keeping a friend is worth all the effort in the world,” he said.  “I always hope so anyway.”

“Is it,” she asked.

“I guess we’ll see,” he replied.

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Dialogue 2 – Life’s Purpose

October 5th, 2018 by Ken

“I’ve been thinking about the purpose of life,” he said.

“Really,” she replied, “have you uncovered some ancient, religious manuscript or something like that.?”

“No, I’ve just been doing some thinking about the purpose of life and why we’re on this planet,” he said.

“Enlighten me, oh ancient scribe.”

I think we have two purposes in life,” he said.  “The first is to procreate  Every animal and plant on earth has that as its major goal.   Humans aren’t any different.  The second is to have fun.”

“Can’t you have fun procreating?” she asked.

“You’re just like all my men friends.   That’s the first thing they say.  But after I tell them the caveats, they seem to pay a little more attention.

” In the process of having fun, you can’t hurt yourself or anyone else.”

“Maybe you ought to write that down and pass it on,” she said.   “Maybe in a thousand years you’ll be that ancient scribe.”

“Maybe it will be sooner than that,” he said.


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34 million people stopped doing this last year?

October 2nd, 2018 by Ken

Riding mass transit.  That’s right, 34,000,000 people in the United States stopped riding mass transit systems all around the country.  Every mass transit system in every major city lost ridership.  (With the exception of Seattle which is growing by 5000 people each month – and spending billions of taxpayer dollars to move them.)

Even our own Intercity Transit system lost ridership last year.

Mass transit systems, where buses, trains and other large vehicles travel on a set route, moving people from one location to another without regard to need or speed came about more than 200 years ago.  Mass transit was founded in the 19th Century, revised in the 20th Century and obsolete in the 21st Century.

The 34 million ridership drop (figures from 2016) came about because of technology.  Modern private transit systems like Uber and Lyft account for the majority of the drop-off in transit ridership.  Rental bicycles, scooters and other mobile devices account for the remainder.

Modern mass transit systems are an anachronism, obsolete and a waste of taxpayer money.

Intercity Transit just received a federal grant of more than $9 million dollars to enlarge and improve its service center on Pattison Street and the Olympia Transit Center.   But, it’s still going out for more money from local taxpayers.

The local transit system is asking for a 4/10th percent increase in the local sales tax to bring the total sales tax to nearly 10 percent.   This is the largest tax increase in the four decades IT has been in existence.  While it spells out how it will use of some of the money, it isn’t able to be specific on how it will spend the rest.

Mass transit systems are out of touch with modern technology and the decline in ridership.   While looking at the same old concept – – buses and trains on fixed routes, – – it’s lost touch with the need for individual transit requirements.  While  private industry is eating away at its ridership, transit systems refuse to even look at new models of transportation – – relying on federal, state and local taxpayers to prop up an obsolete system bound for the ash heap of history.

Locally we need new blood and new ideas at Intercity Transit that look into the future instead of holding on to the past.

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