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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Dialogue 5 – Comedy

September 26th, 2018 by Ken

“A dog walks into a bar  . .”

“What are you doing,” she asks.

“Telling a joke,” he answered

“What makes you think I want to hear a joke.  I don’t feel very funny right now.”

“Maybe a good joke will make you feel better,” he said

“Maybe not – but go ahead and try.”

“Why would I want to tell you a joke when you’re not really open to hearing a joke,” he said.  “I think you have to want to hear a joke to really appreciate it.”

“OK, I’ll get a better attitude,” she said.   “Go ahead and tell me.”

“A dog walks into a bar and says to the bartender, Do you have any jobs.  The bartender said, Why don’t you try the circus.  The dog says – How many bartender  jobs do they have at the circus.”

“I don’t get it,” she said.   “Why would a dog ask a bartender for a job?”

“Let me change the subject,” he said.  “When I die I want my headstone to say ‘If life is a joke – then death is its punch line.”

“You didn’t tell me you were sick,” she said.



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An interesting meal

September 20th, 2018 by Ken

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped by the Lacey McDonald’s to get a quick bite to eat before an evening meeting.  A homeless man was standing near the door and asked me if I could give him some money to get something to eat.  I said, “No, but I’ll buy you something.”

He said thanks and went inside with me.  “What can I have,” he asked.  “Anything you want,” I replied.  He ordered his meal and went and sat down at a table.  I ordered mine and the woman behind the register said, “I won’t charge you for his.”  She didn’t, and I thought  it was very kind of McDonald’s, but I’m not sure if that was the store’s policy or just a kind person working that evening.

I got my food and went and sat down at his table.  He was a little surprised, but moved his stuff and gave me room to sit.  We started making small talk.   I found out his name was Jay and that he was 52 years old.  And, that he slept near a dumpster by Lowe’s.  A short time later I asked him if he was a vet.  “Yea,” he said.  “Vietnam.”  I thought a minute and realized that was an incorrect statement.  “You were too young for Vietnam,” I said.  “They drafted me right out of the eighth grade,” he stated.  “They were looking for a Rambo type and I was it.”

I realized that Jay might be having some problems, but I didn’t push it.  We kept talking and he told me he had to get to Reno because his Tiffany jewelry was locked in a vault and they had taken his key.  It became obvious that Jay was having some mental problems.  We talked a little more and he told me he was a computer security expert and was looking for work.  “Did you know,” he said, “that all of the computer knowledge in the world is kept in a warehouse in Estonia.”

That was the key.  Estonia.  He could have said almost any other country and it might be possible – – but Estonia?

It was time for me to leave.   “Have to go,” I said.  “Got to get to my meeting.”

“Thanks,” he said, as I walked out the door.

He wasn’t threatening and I never felt like he might lose control, but – – it was an experience you seldom have. Besides, I got to see the charity of one of our fast food restaurants.  It was an interesting meal.

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Mother Nature’s Third Act

September 18th, 2018 by Ken


It’s been a hot dry summer.  This is the third summer in a row with hotter and drier weather than normal.  While I enjoyed the weeks of sun, my garden, my yard and my psyche began to suffer.   I wanted rain and I wanted lots of it.

Well, the rain came, and along with it came Fall.  Autumn started this week.  I love Fall.  It’s my favorite time of the year.

Fall is like the third act of a four-act play.  All of the characters, all of the excitement, all of the action becomes more animated just before the fourth act and the finale.  That describes Fall fairly well.   It’s colorful, its exciting and it’s a prelude to the end.

The trees have started to turn and soon will spread their color over the ground.  The Big Leaf Maple has piled its droppings in brown patterns all over the lawn while the Flowering Plum’s purple leaves contrast with the dark green of my neighbors lawn.

Soon the daffodils will start peeking their heads up thinking that spring is here when the sun makes a last few futile efforts to stop from becoming irrelevant.   The dahlias and the roses  have  a few colorful blooms, but even those are beginning to wilt and sensing the shortening of the days.  The marigolds still have some yellow color but the brown of rotted petals can be seen more often on the tall stems while the smell of those rotted flowers carry several feet.

Someone in the neighborhood has put out a sack of peanuts for the squirrels and they roam the area at will, digging and planting their fall harvest for the winter, not caring that they are disturbing the Tulip bulbs just planted a few days ago.   The loose soil easily dug.

Down by the lake, a handful of Canadian geese are still roaming the shoreline looking for handouts, content to stay put and not migrate south with the rest of the clan.  Their clucking and honking can be heard over the sounds of the lawn mowers of those few souls who feel the need to cut the grass one more time.

I’m content to stay inside and venture out only for my daily walk, secure in the feeling that the Third Act is the best act of all.  Knowing that an early Fall is a joy and a bonus.

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You don’t have to be “fair and balanced” in news coverage

September 16th, 2018 by Ken

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald.  His column often appears in The Olympian.

His recent column said that newspapers do not have to show both sides of an issue.   Pitts claims that showing both sides of an issue, in an effort to be fair, often gives both sides the same standing, when it’s obvious that one side is the predominate side and that newspapers are under no obligation to be “fair and balanced.”

He’s right.  No newspaper has to be fair and balanced in its news coverage.  Presenting fair and balanced news is a modern idea that has no basis in history.  Since the beginning of the printed word, newspapers never claimed to present both sides of an issue fairly.  For most of this country’s history, newspapers were either conservative or liberal.  More importantly, they were often “homers” with a bias towards printing what was good for the community it served.

The problem began in the 1960’s and 70’s when newspapers were being criticized for being monopolies.  Their subscribers began clamoring for news that printed both sides of a controversial issue.  Newspapers answered by printing the news on the news pages and keeping the biases to the editorial pages.

Now, with the age of Trump, papers have forgotten that news and opinions should be separated.  You have only to read a newspaper to see the biases in the writing and more importantly in the stories that the newspaper chooses to  print.  I once had a newspaper editor tell me that he decides what is news.   “If I chose to run a story I make it important by where I place the story on the page and how big of a headline I put on it.”  That’s even more true today.

You can’t blame newspapers for showing their biases.  They are no longer the dominate news media in the country nor often in their own home town.Social media, technology and television have displaced newspapers as the main source of news for people.

If you want to see the future of newspapers, you only have to look at cable news to see where it’s heading.   FOX News is conservative, CNN is liberal.  Viewers know what side of an issue the station will come down on and watch the channel that best fits their bias.  That’s where newspapers are heading.  They’re already there, they just aren’t admitting to it.

Please.  Would The Olympian stop saying it’s  “fair and balanced”  when the readers of its pages know otherwise.  Follow Leonard Pitts Jr.’s advice and come clean.  You could be setting a trend that other newspaper will soon emulate.

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Dialogue 4 – Old Age

September 14th, 2018 by Ken


“It’s hell getting old,” she said.  “I’ve got aches and pains everywhere and just about everyday I discover another.”

“Welcome to the club,” he said.  “Want to compare pains?”

“Not today,” she said.  “But, maybe if I get a new one tomorrow, I’ll want to talk about it.  Until then, how come young people think it’ll never happen to them?”

“Because old age doesn’t come all at once,” he said.  “It comes upon you a day at a time.   A new ache here, a sprain there, a broken ankle, a hard hit on the head.   We get these over a period of time and they just sneak up on you.

“But, there’s a good thing about that,” he said.

“What can be good about having all the aches and pain of old age?” she asked.

“Simple,” he said.  “Time gives us a chance to adapt.  We age one day at a time, we adapt one day at a time.

“Put a 25 year old in this body and he’d be screaming like a baby.  Old age asks the questions, but it gives you time to understand the answers.”

“So, would you want to be 25 again,” she asked.

“Not on your life,” he said.

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Washington’s immigration problem

September 11th, 2018 by Ken

Washington State has an immigration problem.   It’s California and Californians.

Some 10,000 a month move to our fine state.   They bring their socialist ideas, they bring their bankrolls of money made by selling their $300,000 homes for $2.1 million and they bring their California culture.

Half of them settle in the Seattle area and the other half settle around the Puget Sound area.   A few, a handful, make their way to the Eastern side of the state where they congregate around Spokane.   But their impact is significant.

With their pockets bulging with money, they overpay for housing and drive up the cost of living for everyone else.  Seattle has the second highest housing costs in the country, second only to San Francisco.  This influx of over paying drives up housing costs all around the Puget Sound area and right here in Thurston County.

They also bring their socialist ideas, particularly as it relates to government and government’s role in our lives.  Several of the state initiatives on the ballot this year are the result of Seattle-area Californians who want to remake the state – or at least Seattle and Puget Sound – into the California image.

And, they often fail to assimilate into the Northwest culture.  They complain about the rain, about the gray and cloudy weather.  They put on jackets when the temperature dips to 72 degrees and complain about being cold.  They ride their bicycles on our bike trails and demand more trails be built.

And, they run for public office with the idea of changing the independent spirit of Washingtonians into one of subservience to the greater good.  One California right now is running for the highest seat in Thurston County government.

This isn’t new.  Californians have been pouring across our borders since the 1980’s.  Oregon even tried to stop them once before they got to our state, but failed.  (At one time, the police chiefs of Olympia and Lacey, as well as the Thurston County sheriff, were all California transplants.)

We need to find a solution to this problem.  Maybe we need a wall on the Columbia River and a roadblock on I-5 and 101 to stop them before they get here.  And, we’ll have California build it.  Or, maybe we just need to face the fact that California is out-of-control and the smart ones are moving out and moving here.


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Lawn Chairs

September 10th, 2018 by Ken

Jan and I have been doing a lot of sitting out doors this summer.   The weather just seemed to require that we leave the interior of the house and venture outside.

For the occasion we bought six new lawn chairs.  Not the really good kind that you buy in an outdoor store for hundreds of dollars, but good enough chairs that we actually purchased at Costco.

We have them placed strategically around the yard.  Two of them sit facing the East where we can get the morning sun.   Here we start the morning with coffee, the newspaper (Jan gets hers on-line) and conversation.

As the day wears on and the sun gets a little too hot, we move to the two chairs we have under our large Cherry Tree.  It blocks most of the sun and gives us a different view of our yard.   We usually sit in these chairs after having done some household chore  like washing the dishes or vacuuming the floors.  A cool drink often helps us to relax and enjoy our conversation.

In the evening, when things have calmed down we sit in our lawn chairs on our patio, facing west and watch the sun go down.  These happen to be rocking type chairs and we rock as we share the highlights of our day.   We stay there until we run out of highlights, or it gets a little to chilly for one of us.

There’s nothing like good lawn chairs to help put a day into perspective.


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