What’s in a Name?

August 11th, 2022 by Ken

What do these names mean to you – – Bragg, Benning, Gordon, AP Hill, Hood, Lee, Pickett, Polk and Rucker?

If you said Confederate generals and officers during the Civil War, you’re right.  They are also all traitors to the United States of America.  And yet, they are also all names of military bases in the United States.

A federal commission has been working on renaming these bases, with that to start at the beginning of 2024 – little more than a year and a half away.

From 34,000 names suggested by the public, the commission has come up with suggested changes.

Fort Bragg would become Fort Liberty (the 82nd Airborne’s song).

Fort Benning would become Fort Moore (Lt. Gen. Hal Moore who was immortalized in the movie and book ” We Were Soldiers Once – and  Young.”)

Fort Gordon would become Fort Eisenhower.

Fort AP Hill would become Fort Walker (after Civil War field physician Mary Walker)

Fort Hood would become Fort Cavazos (Korean War hero Richard Cavazos.)

Fort Lee would become Fort Gregg-Adams (after two black World War Two Army  logisticians Arthur Gregg and Charity Adams)

Fort Pickett would become Fort Barfoot (after Medal of Honor recipient Van Barfoot)

Fort Polk would become Fort Johnson (after Medal of Honor recipient William Henry Johnson)

Fort Rucker would become Fort Novosel (after Medal of Honor recipient Michael Novosel Sr.)

These may or may not be the final names selected by the Secretary of Defense.

I support cleansing the military’s infatuation with the Civil War and Confederate names.  It isn’t right that traitors be honored by having their names memorialized by the US government.  On the other hand, I’m not certain that these suggested name changes are the right ones.  It’s obvious that the commission tasked with changing names has tried to encompass every minority group and every gender available.  Woke consideration ran amuck.  Why was one Medal of Honor recipient selected over another?  Was it based on race or gender – or did that individual stand out so much that it was impossible not to give him or her the honor?

The names eventually selected will bring recognition to those individuals and to the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces.  I believe that race and gender should be a factor – but not the over-riding reason to be honored.  I would ask the commission to take a closer look at those selected and make the determination on the basis of pride in country and love and sacrifice for the Unites States of America.

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Don’t force me to vote for Trump

August 10th, 2022 by Ken

My recent Facebook post about the partisan movement on the part of the FBI, to swarm President Trumps home, looking for “something”  received a warning from Facebook, that the post would be deleted because it “Violated Community Standards”.

My post said that the United States government was looking like a Banana Republic which replaces losing president candidates by throwing them in jail.  In this case I said “Why not have a show trial, then take him out in the courtyard and shoot him”.

In retrospect, I can see how suggesting someone be shot could be a violation of community standards – – but the thought is still the same.

I voted for Donald Trump twice.  I was hoping not to have to vote for him a third time.

But, if the Democrats (a party of which I have belonged for more than 40 years) continues on its present course with a vendetta against the former president – I can see nothing but re-election for Trump.

Sometimes presidents have to shake up the establishment and put the country on a different course.  The first to do so was Andrew Jackson.  He was the first president not from the original 13 states. He was from the backwoods and brought about a new perspective on what government’s role should be.  He also founded the Democratic Party.  The next president to do so was Abraham Lincoln – who not only saw slavery as wrong, but help found the Republican Party.  For all of his faults, Donald Trump hit a nerve in the American public.   More nationalistic, more self-contained  more introspective.

The January 6 Committee is a partisan committee with no desire to understand the events of that day, but to fix blame and try to  connect the president to the events as a co-conspirator.  Many people believe that was the reason for the invasion of Trump’s home.  Every other reason expressed by the current government is just a cover-up.

Democratic efforts continue in many Blue States to bring Trump to heel and punish him for his words, his demeanor and his personality.

They are driving the American public to embrace the embattled former president.  They are looking like a Banana Republic which punishes former president and they are continuing to force me to vote for Trump again, when I’d much rather vote for someone else.

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Bread and circuses

July 29th, 2022 by Ken

In order to keep the restless masses under control Roman emperors often resorted to a combination of bread and circuses.  With full stomachs and bloody  entertainment, the problems and concerns they once had often faded into the background.

There is a correlation to ancient Rome and today.

To keep the masses satiated, the current emperor has pumped more than three trillion dollars into the economy in the form of government grants, subsidies and outright monetary bribes. That’s the bread.

The circus comes in the form of entertainment.  Our television screens are filled with murder, blood, gore, catastrophes and mayhem, all brought by the government lackeys the national news media.

And, to top it all off, is the public trial of the former emperor, live and in living color and in our living rooms courtesy again of the spokesman for the emperor, the national news media.

The current emperor has just tried and failed, to pump another three trillion dollars into the economy, while minor emperors in some states have managed to return to the masses, some of their own money to pay for the high cost of transportation.

It’s all bread and circuses.  Feed their bellies with food, and their heads with mindless dribble and the huddled masses will be too full of both to change emperors and the legislative body which is intent only in keeping themselves in power.

Had enough yet Roman citizen?

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A story with no title

July 26th, 2022 by Ken

It was a typical summer morning.

A heavy thump on the outside of the house at 4:55 am was the signal that the day had started.  The paper carrier delivered my copy of The Wall Street Journal as regular as the clock.

The thump woke up Jan, who stretched and sat up on the side of the bed, trying to get her senses working.  Soon she had gotten up and went into the bathroom.

I laid there, in the bed, still in that dreamy state – not asleep and not quite awake.   It’s at that  stage, my mind begins to put forth my coming day into some kind of calendar.  It’s also at that time, that I usually start thinking about my next story.  It  comes to me so clear, that if I had my computer right there, I could write the whole story down.

But, by the time Jan is finished and the bathroom is left to me, those thoughts have partly disappeared and all I’m left with is an outline of a story and a few random lines that will make the story – stunning.

I try not to take much time getting up and getting dressed.  I want to get down the hall to my office and get the words down before my mind loses them.  I pour myself a cup of coffee and go into my office – all the time trying to remember all of that great prose I had discovered in my brain just a few minutes earlier.

By the time I sit down to my computer and start writing –  –  it’s all gone.

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Too much money causes problems

July 23rd, 2022 by Ken

What a problem to have.  Too much money to spend and not enough time to spend it.  That’s the problem facing the Thurston County Commission.

The county received more than $56 million in Covid relief money.  So far the county has spent $36 million of the federal money but still has $20 million left to spend.  And it has until the end of 2024 to spend it.  It has currently allocated $10 million but hasn’t spent it yet.

County Commissioner Tye Menser said the county was just going to run out of time.  He was recently quoted by The Olympian as saying, “It’s not like they can just go out and buy a hotel” talking about the Prosecuting Attorney’s office having trouble spending its allocated money.

That was a joke on Menser’s part because the commissioners just authorized the purchase of two hotels to house homeless people – – both of them by the way in the greater Lacey area.

This whole process is a joke.  The  federal American Rescue Plan, from which this money comes, has distributed trillions (that’s right trillions with a T) of taxpayer money around the country.  That is one of the major reasons we have the inflation that is currently sweeping our costs of living to new heights.

Much of the money allocated has gone to worthy and worthwhile projects.  But, a substantial amount is still trying to be spent, or has been spent foolishly.

And, we the taxpayers of the country are to blame.

Had Enough Yet?

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Busy time at the County

July 18th, 2022 by Ken

It’s a busy time for the Thurston County Commissioners.

Not only are one-third of them up for re-election this year (OK only one) but that’s one-third of the commission, but they’re also in the process of moving.

The entire administrative staff of Thurston County are moving out of their current offices atop Mottman Hill, and are moving to Lacey.  (OK, only on Pacific Avenue near Lacey, but close enough)  All administrative offices – the commission, auditor, treasurer and assessor – are moving to their new digs on Pacific Avenue across from the old Boone Ford location. The actual move is scheduled to begin in September.

The other offices, clerk, coroner and prosecuting attorney will join the sheriff and remain at the current location, while renovation and remodeling will start in converting the existing county courthouse into the new Law and  Justice center.

The commissioner have also placed a proposition on the fall ballot to increase the number of county commissioners from three to five.  They will join with the Port of Olympia which has agreed to work with the commission to also increase its commissioners from three to five as well.  (I’ll have more information on that in the near future.)

Everyone is anxious to see how things works out, particularly the residents of Thurston County whose county business will be impacted.

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Stop a significant power rate increase

July 14th, 2022 by Ken

Electricity, natural gas and other generating and distributing products are controlled by the State Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC).  When the power company wants to increase your rates, they petition the UTC for permission.   The UTC then requires utility companies to notify their customers.  If there isn’t major concerns expressed by users of the power, the state then authorizes the power company to increase the rates it charges customers.

Currently Puget Sound Energy(PSE) has asked for a rate increase across the board of about 17 percent over the next three years with about 14 percent of that increase coming next year.

PSE is required to notify customers and allow them to have a say in those increases.

A 14 percent rate increase is a significant burden for many customers of PSE.  If you want to have your say, you can contact the the UTC at comments@utc.wa.gov.   You can also contact PSE at – – customercare@pse.com.  It’s also possible to submit written comments to Customer Care PO Box 97034, Bellevue,WA  98009-9734.

If significant consumer comments are opposed, it’s possible the UTC will lower the proposed increase.  If not, you will pay significantly more next year and for two years after that.


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Some advice you can really use

July 11th, 2022 by Ken

It was a scene right out of a tear-jerking movie.  The old man lay dying.  The family had gathered around the bed.  Their father and grandfather had been a successful business owner.  He had made a fortune – – and everyone wanted to know what his final words would be.

As he woke briefly from his labored sickness he gestured for his youngest grandson to come closer.  The young man did as he was told and bent over to put his ear closer to his grandfathers lips.  He listened a few seconds, nodded, and then retreated from the bed – – the old man died.

“What’d he say?”, “What’d he say?” – – The others gathered around the bed wanted to know.  “What’d he say?”  What did he tell you?” they all demanded to hear.  The young man looked up at the group who waited with expectation at the final word of advice from this successful businessman.

“Don’t take the first pancake,” the grandson said.  “What?, they all asked  again this time in unison.  “Don’t take the first pancake,” that’s what he said.  “Don’t take the first pancake.”

Anyone who has ever cooked pancakes, know that the first pancake is often doughy inside and not very tasty.  The family is waiting for breakfast and your in a hurry.  So we put the cakes on before the griddle is smoking hot and these first  marvels of flour and water are often not not very good.

Is that what the old man was trying to say?  Or, did his final words have more to do with the world than with pancakes?  Did he mean that going first isn’t the best position to be in?  Did he mean to say that allowing others to go first and make the first mistake gives you an opportunity to learn from that?

Or did he mean to say that giving others the opportunity to go first is a learning experience for everyone?

I don’t know what he meant.  Advice is only as good as the people receiving it.  It you want advice, you have to be willing to accept it  Not taking the first pancake can be read as about anything you want it to be.

Or – maybe, just maybe, the first pancake isn’t the best – – but it can be if you follow these words of advice.

The griddle has to be hot – – at a temperature of 375 degrees.  After mixing, let the batter sit for three minutes to allow all ingredients to mix well.  Pour the batter in one spot and let it spread out on its own.  Cook each side for three minutes on each side.   And, don’t lift up the pancake to see if its done.

Then, you can take the first pancake.

Now, that’s some advice you can really use.

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Marine Terminal must go

July 6th, 2022 by Ken

By Joe Illing

(The following story appeared in The Jolt News earlier this week.)

I own a small commercial property in downtown Olympia, a short
walk from the port peninsula’s Marine Terminal (what most of us
call “the port”). Needless to say, over the years I’ve taken a keen
interest in what happens there, or what doesn’t happen there.

My point of view concerning the peninsula that’s distinctly
different from those who work for, or receive funds from, the Port
of Olympia. They see the Marine Terminal as one of the big
pistons that drive Thurston County’s economic engine. They
shower us with facts, figures, charts and statistics in order to
validate their assertion that the terminal bestows upon us a
bounty of invaluable benefits.

These include five-hundred and sixty-four jobs “associated” with
the terminal (that means some are essentially part-time). They
point to a $135,000 annual profit as proof of the terminal’s health
… if you don’t count “depreciation” and pretend equipment and
buildings last forever, or that a profit margin of a few thousandths
of a percent on “business revenue” of $33,000,000 is laudatory.

All of this information, however, is essentially useless if we’re to
assess the value of the terminal to the general population. It
compares apples to apples and fails to ask the single most
important question concerning the Marine Terminal … does
it meet the needs of post-industrial Olympia? Does it add to,
inhibit or subtract from the public good?

The Marine Terminal occupies a priceless piece of geography, a
peninsula that juts out into the headwaters of Budd Inlet, offering
unparalleled vistas of snowcapped mountains rising out of the
sound. Its shoreline invites incomparable recreational
opportunities. Urban amenities are within a short, easy walk. It’s
truly what the old timers called “The Pearl of the Puget Sound.”

Yet, in spite of its beauty and its unique attributes, and in spite of
a century-long evolution of the community it serves, the terminal
remains stuck in a 19th century mindset … and we use it for a log
dump. It’s like defacing the Mona Lisa.

The Marine Terminal is a vestige of Thurston County’s industrial
past. Over the ninety-five years since the Port of Olympia was
formally chartered, that era has vanished. The peninsula once
hosted thirty lumber mills, five shingle mills, a veneer factory, a
cannery and numerous ship builders.

It was a busy, productive place with plenty of living wage jobs that
generated big ripples in the local economy.

Those days are long gone. All that remains is what’s
called a “weekend port” in maritime lingo (that translates as
“small potatoes”). It has a marina, a children’s museum, a
tragically wrong-placed sewer treatment plant, a couple of fancy
office buildings and a farmer’s market, all of which surround its
once vibrant, beating heart … today’s “log dump,” a mechanized
no-man’s land where monstrous machines belch diesel fumes
while tossing around whole forests of logs like pick-up sticks.

Is this responsible stewardship of a singular asset like the
peninsula? I think not. It’s long since time to consider

To see one such alternative just drive north to Granville Island
in Vancouver, BC. The similarities between it and our port
peninsula are striking.
• They both share an industrial past.
• They both dredged their surrounding waters and expanded
their land mass with its fill from 1911 through 1915.
• They both welcomed manufacturing industries in the early
1920s and prospered through a couple of world wars well
into mid-century.

Then new economies, new methods of transportation and new
ways of doing business changed old business models. And that’s
when the shared destinies of these two entities diverged.
In the 1970s the Canadians decided to bid adieu to the industrial
use of the island and welcomed market activities. Today Granville
Island, with half the land mass of the port peninsula, is alive with
activity … and prosperity. Today that island boasts 275 businesses
that employ more than 2,500 people. It generates more than
$215,000,000 in economic activity each year, and fills
Vancouver’s tax coffers to overflowing.

The Port of Olympia’s Marine Terminal, however, stuck with its
out of date business model. It posts predictably
disappointing results annually. If you compare our peninsula with
Vancouver’s Granville Island you must inevitably conclude that
the terminal is not serving its community well.

It’s time to close the books on the Marine Terminal and develop
the peninsula to the benefit of all. Surround it with marinas and
other maritime uses, provide access to Budd Inlet for all citizens
of Thurston County, create housing for those who want to reurbanize

and turn the un-peopled port of today into a

vibrant neighborhood that contributes in a meaningful way to the
economic and cultural health of our community.

It’s time the Port Commissioners exercised their fiduciary
responsibility to the citizens and taxpayers of Thurston County
and take a critical look at the peninsula and unlock its
matchless potential. It’s time for them to answer this simple
question … does the Marine Terminal represent the “highest and
best” use of the peninsula?

If not, it’s time to begin the transformation of the terminal from
artifact of an industrial past to icon of a dynamic future. It can,
and should, be done.

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The men behind the Fourth of July

June 27th, 2022 by Ken

While it’s not popular in some circles, to tout the Founding Fathers, but with the Fourth of July close by, I think we should take a moment and reflect on the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and what they suffered as a result.

Of the 56 men who signed the document, nine fought and died in the Revolutionary War.  Five were captured, tortured and executed.

Many of them lost children during the war and suffered other hardships.  The men who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their scared honor – gave all.  So, what kind of men were they.

Twenty-four of them were lawyers, 11 were merchants, nine were farmers and plantation owners.  They were all men of means (and as some have pointed out slave-owners).  But they all signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that if the revolution failed, it would mean death for them.

Carter Braxton of Virginia was a wealthy planter and trader.  His ships were sunk or confiscated by the British Navy.  After the war he was forced to sell his home and property to pay his debts,  He died penniless.

Thomas McKean was hounded by the British army and was forced to stay constantly on the move.  His house, lands and other possessions were taken by the British.  He died in poverty.

At the Battle of Yorktown – Thomas Nelson Jr. noted that the British had taken over his home and used it as their headquarters.  He urged General Washington to fire on the house and it was destroyed.

Vandals, soldiers, looters and others destroyed the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walston, Winnett, Heyward, Rutledge and Middleton – – all signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Francis Lewis lost his wife and child who died in a British prison.  John Hart lost his wife and children in the war.

When we hear these tales, we realize that pledging their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor met more than just words on a paper.  We need to realize that the celebration we undertake this week is more than just fireworks and barbeques.   Lets take a few minutes this holiday to remember those men and their families.


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What is the purpose of a city?

June 19th, 2022 by Ken

What is is that makes living in Lacey unique and different?

Recently, “Livability”, a national web page, named Lacey as one of the top 100 cities in the United States in which to live.  Actually, it named Lacey 75th best in the entire country.

Those of us who have lived her for decades have our own ideas of why we love our community.

Every city exists for three reasons – – Security – Transportation- Quality of Life.  Lets take them one at a time.  Though recent events would say otherwise, Lacey is still a safe and secure community in which to live.  While adjacent cities have a significant homeless problem, Lacey has handled the situation fairly well.  Our police force is well-trained, professional and well-paid.  Members of Lacey’s police department are the highest paid city police force in the state, second only to Seattle.  In the near future, voters in Lacey are going to be asked to approve a bond issue to build a new police station.

Lacey has some of the newest and best streets in the county.  The increase in growth and the increase in traffic, has forced Lacey to come up with unique ways of accommodating the thousands of cars which fill city streets.  When new housing developments are built, the contractor pays for road and street improvements.  New traffic roundabouts have improved the flow of traffic and keeps it moving.  Traffic signals have been set to respond to increased traffic flows at peak hours.   And, in a unique arrangement decided several decades ago, the city sets aside money every year to renovate neighborhood streets.   In addition, the city works with national and state agencies to help improve access and egress to Interstate Five.

It’s in the area of Quality of Life where Lacey stands out.  Lacey is home to St. Martin’s University.  The city and the college have a great relationship and the city is currently working with St. Martins on a new baseball facility.  Sports and sports facilities are a major part of Lacey’s  past.  Creation of the Regional Athletic Facility (RAC) has put the city in the forefront of athletics and attracts teams and tournaments from around the state.  At the same time, the city has not forgotten the taxpayers who funded the operation.  Local teams and local residents have priority in all RAC usage.

Quality of Life also centers around supporting those who served in our armed forces.  The Lacey Veteran’s HUB is a well-known and well-respected facility that serves the needs of all veterans.  And, most of the staff are volunteers and many of them veterans themselves.

As a relatively new city, Lacey has done a great job of preserving its heritage.  The city hosts the only museum in Thurston County opened and staffed on a regular basis.  It has just completed a replica of the original train station and is in the process of building a new museum.  When completed, the museum will not only preserve and protect the Lacey community’s history, but will also serve as a cultural center to highlight the many people who have settled here and made Lacey the most diverse city in Thurston County.

And, lets not forget the many parks and open spaces in the city.  While the RAC and the museum are all part of the parks system, Lacey has more park land than any other city in our area.  It’s the city’s goal to have neighborhood parks in all areas of the city, in addition to regional parks which provide opportunity for larger venues and larger activities.

There are many other qualities of life in addition to the ones mentioned, but there is still work to be done.

Stay tuned for information on the future of Lacey.

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Recollections of a Greener

May 24th, 2022 by Ken

(As the school year ends, and The Evergreen State College is still around.  I thought it might be interesting for a student’s perspective on that first year 1971.  Here’s mine.)

Resent research shows that memory at its best is only 70 percent accurate and the further away from the event the less you recall accurately.  With that in mind, here goes my recollection of Evergreen’s first year of operation from a half century later.

I was enrolled in a coordinated studies program called “Causality, Freedom and Chance”.  Its purpose was to explore the idea of “free will”.  Did man really have free will?

We were given our list of reading material in advance of the college’s opening in the fall of 1971.  It appeared we had around 100 students and four (or five) faculty members.

The campus wasn’t ready for opening.  All of the dorms had not been completed and some students were staying at an apartment complex called Village Capri off campus in West Olympia.  I lived off-campus and wasn’t impacted.  The main building on campus was the Library building, which would contain most of the college activities.  The first and second floors contained the library and classrooms while the third floor was college administration and the top floor contained the cafeteria and other admin facilities.  I’m not certain if the lecture hall and student union building were open during that first year but were open for sure by the second year.

Because classrooms weren’t ready, we spent the first week of class on a small island just off of Fox Island.  All faculty and all students were to work together, get to know each other and spend time discussing our readings.  There were two rooms for sleeping and an area for food service.  Most of us slept outside for the few days in sleeping bags, around campfires with guitars and smoors, with an occasional toke.

It was during the height of the Vietnam War and the beginning of the Women’s Movement.  Both events cast an impact on our studies.  When we began unloading supplies from the ferry that took us to the island, the men (boys) created a chain and began moving supplies from the waterfront to the main building.  The women (girls) were standing around watching.   I shouted out at the top of my lungs “I thought you women wanted to be equal, why aren’t you helping?”  A few of the girls started moving towards the line and very quickly, almost all of them were helping carry supplies.

Most of the students were in their late teens, just out of high school.  I was 29, had a wife and a kid and was a military veteran of nearly six years in the service.  I became the leader, because of  my decade of maturity over most of the group, but I was out of step with the tenor of the students.

Because the classrooms still weren’t ready, we spent our second week in the House Chambers of the Legislative Building.  I think we only met twice that week but we did discuss our readings when we finally began to accept our new classroom space.

By late October, we were ready to move into our classrooms.  Each sub-group of about 20 students and one faculty advisor were give a home classroom.  The chairs were all wrapped in plastic and tied together with plastic zip ties.  The classroom phone was still sitting in a box under the outlet, waiting to be installed.  Because the chairs were all wrapped up, some of the students sat on the floor in a small circle, which became larger the more people joined.  Soon we had one large circle around the whole room.  Our faculty advisor initially stood in the center, before he too sat down and began the instructions.  That was our normal classroom style for the whole year, even after the chairs had been unpacked.

The next few weeks are uncounted for in my memory, but we did have seminars with other groups and other faculty members.  We took field trips to farms to study natural growth, visited a lab to examine fruit flies, read books after books and wrote paper after paper.

I found I was a fairly good writer and organized a writing group within our class with the intention of reading each others papers and giving feed back.

My attention soon became focused on The Paper Cooperative which had created a student newspaper called “The Paper.”  I wrote several articles for the paper and decided  I had come upon my profession.  We finished that first year out.

I was signed up to do a contracted study group for the next school year with an emphasis on journalism.  A month before school was to start, I was informed that my professor had been deported for running guns for the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and I had to scramble to find something to replace it.  I managed to get an internship at “The Olympia News” and found myself a sponsor.  I spent the whole school year of 72-73 working as an intern for two local weekly newspapers.

I did a contracted studies program over Christmas Vacation to fulfill my attendance requirements and graduated in the summer of 73.

During my time at Evergreen I was selected as the student representative to the Board of Trustees and later become the Vice President of the Evergreen Alumni Association.   In later years I worked at the college in the college relations office and taught a class in journalism.  I also spent time at advisor to the school newspaper.



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They’re all gone now

May 20th, 2022 by Ken

They’re all gone now.  All of the toys and all of the items that brought him so much pleasure – – his truck, his motor home, his boat, even his wheelchair – that he wheeled to the end of his driveway every day and watched the world go by.

They’re all gone now – – except for the flag – – the flag that he flew night and day – and the flag that he had fought for – in one of those foreign wars – – the war that left him confined to the wheel chair.

He sat in his driveway every day – rain or shine – wearing the marks of his service on his jacket, on his cap and on his face.  He seldom talked about the war, but it was obvious that its remnants had a major impact on him.

For years I watched him grow older.  I watched as his toys sat unused.  I watched as the neighborhood visitors grew fewer.  I watched as his flag became more tattered.  And I watched as he slowly slipped away.

But, his flag is still flying.  Like him, it is slowly deteriorating and will eventually be taken down.  Until then, I salute it every time I walk by – – in his memory.

(Dedicated to Steve and all Veterans)

(The above story is in my new book “A Storyteller’s Story”.  PM me on how you can get a copy of the book.)


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What’s up at “The Olympian”

May 19th, 2022 by Ken

I’ve been concerned for sometime now about the decline in local media.  The most recent example of  The Daily Olympian’s publication shows how difficult it is to believe what is written on its pages.

The recent example comes in a headline the newspaper wrote concerning a local learning center.   In the headline for that story, they spelled Lacey – LACY.  What utter lack of professionalism on the paper’s part.

Misspelling a name is a sin in any publication.  Misspelling the name of the largest city in Thurston County – may not be a mortal sin – but it is indicative at how low The Olympian has become.  Perhaps the headline writer didn’t know anything about Lacey and decided to use the more common spelling.  Perhaps the headline writer isn’t even in Olympia but in Tacoma.   Perhaps the story came in at the last minute and no one thought much about the spelling.  Perhaps no one proofed the story and headline before it went to press.

It doesn’t matter.

Mistakes, misspellings and inaccurate information are common.  But, this mistake just reminds us how un-professional the paper was become.   Too bad.  We need more local media.  Thurston Talk and The Jolt can’t do it all.  And, I don’t want to anymore.The Olympia

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Chehalis Western Trail holds a dangerous surprise

May 10th, 2022 by Ken

The Chehalis Western Trail runs for several miles through Olympia and Lacey forming the boundary line between the two cities in many areas.

It’s a calm relaxing trail – – winding through the countryside, past farms, Chambers Lake, and even through new housing developments.  It’s a nice and relaxing way to travel – – see the countryside – – and spend some time outdoors.

There’s one problem with that bucolic scene.  A major natural gas pipeline runs right through the middle of the trail.  A pipeline that is dangerous if it were to rupture.  Many people along its path would be killed and millions of dollars of property would be damaged.

When the Chehalis Western railroad went of of business, Thurston County obtained the railroad and its right-of-way, with the intention of turning the track bed into an urban trail.

But, the county suffered from lack of money and couldn’t find any way to get the trail constructed.  Then came Puget Sound Energy (PSE).  They were looking for a way to put a natural gas pipeline in the area and the old Chehalis railroad right-of-way was the perfect fit.

Under an agreement with the county, PSE removed the railroad ties, lowered the bank and paved the entire stretch of the trail.  In the process it dug a ditch down the middle of the trail and laid its natural gas pipeline.  It was fine.  Everyone came out a winner.  The county got a new urban trail and PSE got a location for its pipeline.

Then came the earthquake of 2001.  The trail suffered several cracks and buckling.    When I reported the damage, the county said it wasn’t their responsibility.  I contacted PSE and they gave me the name of the contractor.   I contacted him and  he said he had checked and there was no damage to the pipeline.   Later, I found that no paperwork had been filed stating the fact.

Why do I bring this up – now two decades later.  Because we have had least one major earthquake since 2001 and more are expected.  It would be nice to know that someone is responsible and that Thurston County and PSE are aware of the potential problem and have coordinated response plans with local fire agencies.

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I’m a math dummy

May 10th, 2022 by Ken

I admit it.  I’m a math dummy.  I had a difficult time with math in high school and barely passed basic math.  When I entered college, I was forced to take a remedial math course and did enough work to be allowed to continue with my education.

Not knowing math caused me trouble a few years later.   I was working for a small weekly newspaper, when I came across an ad from “The Wall Street Journal”.  They were willing to pay and train a working journalist to become a financial reporter.  They would pay all expenses and a salary for two years of masters study at UCLA.  All I had to do was pass the Graduate Record Exam.

I passed the writing portion at the top of the class.  I barely charted in the math portion.   I didn’t get offered the job.

Other than that, I have had and continue to have – almost no need for math beyond the basic addition, subtraction and division, with a little fractions rolled in.

I’m not alone.  Millions, if not hundred of million, of Americans are not proficient in math.  Because, in most professions math is either not needed, or available with a computer.  Many people will tell you they are math dummies and don’t feel embarrassed to say so.

But, as I’ve said, I am proficient in reading and writing.  If someone were to tell me they were illiterate (meaning not able to read or write) I would feel pity and be embarrassed for them.

Why is is OK to say you’re a math dummy, but not OK to say you can’t read or write well?

It’s simple.

We use language every day in many different ways.  We have to understand language to get along in society.  The same is not true with math.  Basic math is fine for most of us.   Knowing basic language is not enough.

There are many professions that require advanced math skills.  But, most people aren’t in those jobs.

So, why do our schools insist that kids learn Algebra and in some cases – Advanced Algebra.   Wouldn’t it be better for them in the long term to have advance reading and writing skills?

Just asking.


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Pity the poor Stechass

May 3rd, 2022 by Ken

By Dale Cooper

 For untold centuries a group of American Indians called the Stechass lived in the Olympia area at the headwaters of what we call Budd Inlet and what the Stechass called Whulge (in Lushootseed).

The Stechass populated the southern waters of the Puget Sound Basin (Whulge) along with the Squaxin, the Nisqually and  dozens of other Southern Lushootseed speaking people from villages up and down the long fingers of the Sound.

Prior to the arrival of American settlers in the mid-nineteenth century, these Indians had no formal multi-cultural or tribal affiliations.  Of course they shared many things and there were certainly familial ties between villages, but among them they recognized no formal alliances, leaders or chiefs.

That all changed post-contact with the treaties of 1854 and 1855.  In order to establish legally acceptable signatories for his Treaty of Medicine Creek, Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens designated these native villages “tribes”.  The Stechass tribe was among those tribes, recognized as co-equal with the Nisqually, Puyalllup, Steilacoom, Squaxin, Samamish, T’Peeksin, Squiatl, and Sahehwamish tribes.

Looking back, we can now see the deal Stevens struck with the “tribes” didn’t turn-out well for them.  But for the Stechass that deal wasn’t the end of their misfortunes.  They ran into what we’d now call a cancel-culture, led by the then politically correct pioneer ladies of the early contact days.  They found the word Stechass (i.e. “ass”)  offensive and vulgar and excised it from their conversation, their histories and their lexicon.  In fact, the last known mention of the people known as Stechass is found in the Treaty of Medicine Creek.

But, that wasn’t the final offense against these ill-fated people.  A few days ago, in a fit of “wokeness” and nontheistic sensibility, the good citizens of the Olympia city council voted unanimously to change the name of its popular and spectacularly sited Priest Point Park to Squaxin Park.

This municipal manipulation not only exhibited a benighted historical illiteracy and a lack of due diligence, but delivered a final insult to the Stechass people.  For in the end, these people not only lost their land to the laws of the Americans, their remembrance to the territorial  aspirations of the Squaxins, but thy lost their name itself.

This is a tragedy and a pity, and the final nail in the coffin of the forgotten Stechass.

As a final note, we should remember that the treaty wasn’t all bad news for all the native people here.  In fact, it was great news for some  – – the slaves.  It was an Emancipation Proclamation for them.  As Article 11 of the Treaty of Medicine Creek reads that all signatories “agree to free all slaves now held by them, and not to purchase or acquire others hereafter”.

I assume the woke Olympia city council overlooked this aspect of native life when considering re-naming Priest Point Park.

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The boys at the table

May 3rd, 2022 by Ken

I’ve been playing in a monthly poker game for almost 50 years.  While we have  lost players and gained players, the purpose of the poker game is not often related to money  So who the players are has little impact on the game.

While our players have changed over the years, many of them have been at the table for decades.  We have business-owners and politicians.  We have gentlemen farmers and real farmers.  We have government workers and we have those whose occupations and ways of making a living are obscure.  But we all have two elements in common – – we’re all men and we all like to compete.

When I was younger and played in the group, we would often play until the sun came up on Saturday morning.   Now, when midnight rolls around, we start looking for an ending time.  We all used to drink and most of us smoked.  Now, only one of the players still drinks, but limits it to two beers.  And only one of our group still smokes but is trying to quit.

Pre-Covid, we met at each other’s house, each taking a turn at hosting the game.   We missed a few months of  playing because of the virus, but after the vaccine became available we went back to playing.  Now we have a common playing area, supplied by one of our players who owns a building.

For a short period of time we had debates over political matters.  When the group became concerned that the conversation was interfering in playing the game, we relegated political talk to our mid-game break and the 15 minutes we chose to eat.

Previously, the person hosting the game had to supply the food at the mid-game break.  Often it was the spouse who did the meal preparation.  Now that we moved away from a private home, that mid-game break is often delivered pizza, or sandwiches from one of the many sandwich shops in town.

Even while the players have changed – the location has changed –  the food has changed and the drinking and smoking habits have changed, we continue to meet each month to play poker.

None of us are young.  Our physical powers have deteriorated and our mental state has seen a decline.  We continue to play poker because it gives us a chance to meet with other males and compete.  Competition is the only skill that men never have to learn.  And no matter how old we get, we need to compete.

The money is only a means of keeping score.


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Supreme Court wrestles with religious freedom – again

April 25th, 2022 by Ken

The United States Supreme Court is just about to rule on the most significant religious freedom suit in recent memory, and it has a local appeal.

Bremerton High School football coach Joe Kennedy, had been praying after each football game on the 50 yard line thanking God for the game – win or lose.  He started out alone and was eventually joined by a couple of players and soon every player joined the prayer group.

Despite being told by the school district to stop such activity he continued and was suspended and eventually fired.

The Court heard the case this week.

The question of course is complex.  The first amendment of the United States Constitution says (in part) “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”.

The Court has wrestled with this issue in the past.  I’m no legal scholar and I can’t cite all of the rulings, but basically, as far as I can tell, the Court has said that government facilities cannot be used for religious purposes.  The question becomes, does a football coach praying alone after a game on the 50-yard line of a public school  violate separation of church and state.  Further, does the fact that some students joined  voluntarily in prayer with him -which put pressure on all team members to join – in the interest of team unity – void the private prayer.

I doubt that whatever the outcome, not  every one will be satisfied.  But, it is interesting to see whether a country, with a great history of religious freedom and private activities, can keep that separation going.

France couldn’t.  The French Revolution resulted in a ban on all public displays of religion, among other restrictions.

The US Court has to decide, once again, where the line lies.

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We have too many old elected officials

April 22nd, 2022 by Ken

Mike Kreidler isn’t a racist.  And, I’m sure that any inappropriate comments he may have made were unintentional.  Mike has just one fault.  He’s been a public elected official since the 1970’s.  That too long for any one person to serve as a representative of the people.

He’s also 78 years of age.  Like many of our current elected officials – – Patty Murray comes to mind – – he’s just too damn old.  I say that with a heavy heart.  Just being old isn’t any reason to turn someone out of office.  But, being old has one drawback – – it’s difficult to keep up with a changing society.

I should know.  I’m 79 and still writing.   But, there’s a difference.  Being an elected official has one responsibility that I don’t have.  An elected official must represent all of his/her constituents and keep up with their changing make-up.   All I represent is myself and my own view points.

Don’t think the public, and particularly Washington state voters don’t take age into consideration.

A few decades ago, Washington state was well-served by a powerful Democratic Senator – –  Warren G. Magnuson.  After nearly a half century of service  – the voters turned him out of office.

There is a time limit on elected officials.  Murray’s up this year.  Kreidler has two more years left to serve.  He’s not on the ballot this time.    In two years, I wouldn’t want to run on any ticket that has an 81-year old man at the top.  That’s how old Joe Biden will be in two years.   If he’s re-elected, he’ll be 82.

Modern medicine may extended our life expectancy, but it doesn’t do a damn thing to keep our mind young.

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