August 20, 2013
Chandler and Jamie, this column is for you
I got two emails last week, on two consecutive days, that made me cry.
The first, an announcement and a photo, was one of joy — Chandler Balkman was getting married.
You may remember Chandler. On Aug. 3, 2006, Balkman, then 16, and his father went for a swim in Lake Sammamish.
August 13, 2013
Frank Blethen, Jeff Bezos and the future of news
Stars aligned in inviting me to see The Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen speak at the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce lunch only two days after The Washington Post announced its purchase by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
Blethen gave an expert and impassioned speech regarding the family-owned daily The Times, the future of the newspaper industry and the state’s hurdles in improving the educational system. However, the event shined during the question and answer session.
To me, it was relevant on many levels. Along with the local implications including my appreciation of The Seattle Times (full disclosure: The Issaquah Press is owned by the company of the only daily left in the metropolitan area), hearing Blethen speak about the decision of another local powerhouse taking an active interest in my industry left my head spinning with speculation.
August 6, 2013
Get it right for the kids
I was driving along with my radio blasting when my least favorite commercial came on: Kars4Kids. I dislike this commercial on two levels. First, it is such a catchy tune that it sticks in my brain for hours. Of course that makes it a commercial success. The second reason I don’t like it stems from my years as an English teacher: it misspells car.
Hillary Clinton told us it takes a village to raise a child, and I can remember those times I got home and somebody had already called my parents to report some misbehavior. However, the village can also damage kids when it messes with the language.
Children come to school with a language structure already in place. They don’t come to school with a history or math structure in place. The English teacher works to correct and polish that language structure. When advertisers purposely misspell words as in kars for cars, kidz for kids, lite for light or nite for night, etc., because it is kind of cutesy, they are a part of the village that damages the kids.
July 30, 2013
Kings on their thrones should be so blessed
This little tale has a touching beginning and a sad middle, but a very happy ending and a hero at the finish, so I hope you’ll make it to the end.
There once was an old metal office chair, made in the 1930s, surplused from The Boeing Co. with a metal company serial number on it, which made its way at some point to The Issaquah Press. A number of people who loved this little community paper used it over the years, and it eventually was used by Myrtle Winslow, the newspaper accountant, for more than 20 years until she retired in 1989.
In 1996, 17 years ago this month, the paper hired a full-time photographer. That, by the way, was me! I was given a desk, but it didn’t have any particular chair. Between the several unused ones to choose from, was this old green metal antique that made a lot of creaky noises and had sort of fake cracked green leather upholstery on the seat, back and armrests.
July 23, 2013
Luigi and I prove to be a perfect match
Astute observers may have spied me behind the wheel of a spiffy, yellow Fiat buzzing around town lately. A confluence of odd factors combined to put me in said driver’s seat.
No. 1, I was growing tired of the commute between Issaquah and Kirkland in a 15-year-old car. While my Japanese car was built in America, it was not designed with ideal gas mileage in mind. Especially since the price of gas in recent years is celebrated for not topping $4 a gallon. I occasionally grow nostalgic for my first car, which I filled up for $10 or less.
And two, the RAV4 was beginning to exhibit additional signs of impending doom. Already the recipient of two major surgeries, it was time to look for a replacement before it required a third.
July 16, 2013
The money’s been spent so enjoy the ride
Shortly after I moved here, the bike trail along East Lake Sammamish Parkway was blocked off and construction began. As I watched men, women and equipment at work, I concluded I was watching an overly constructed, public works project in progress.
The paving of 2.2 miles of bicycle trail for $2.7 million seems a little steep. I suppose all this was hashed out long before I got here.
July 9, 2013
Softball, reporter come full circle in summer game
There are always certain places from our youth that remain entrenched in our memories, no matter what.
For me, one such place is Kirkland’s Everest Park, where in 2000, as a member of the North Issaquah Little League softball 9/10 all-star team, I enjoyed one of the best summers of my life.
Exactly 13 years after our team took second place in the District 9 tournament, I returned to the fields to cover the Issaquah/Sammamish softball all-star team July 5. As you can imagine, I was hit with an overbearing wave of nostalgia.
July 2, 2013
How I remember Doc
When I decided to re-enter college after a three-year hiatus, one of my first political science classes at Indiana University Southeast was taught by Dr. Tom Kotulak. He would go on to define my educational experience, my personal drive toward accomplishment and set a standard of knowledgeable debate that I strive to realize on a daily basis.
He died June 11 from complications of pneumonia and it hit me harder than I expected.
I agree that the idea of a professor turned mentor is a romanticized idea that generally makes for better hyperbole than truth, but it is no exaggeration to say that I would not be where I am in life without that man. And I really like where I am in life.
June 25, 2013
And The Beat will go on, with your help
The Beat team and I had to make some hard decisions a few weeks ago when we had an end-of-the-school-year meeting. Do we go forward? How do we rebuild the team? How do we get the funding to continue our teen journalism project?
The Beat is our monthly (during the school year) page by teens, about teens, for teens. The team — students from Issaquah, Liberty, Skyline and Eastside Catholic high schools — meets once a month to plan what to write about, and the students learn about journalism and newspapers long before they get to college. Some even then decide to study journalism, which always makes me proud.
June 11, 2013
At least I don’t talk with my mouth full
A funny thing happened the last time I played poker.
Another player was slowly verbalizing her options in a particularly big pot when she said, “I never talk to myself. I only do this at the poker table.”
That provided me with a personal epiphany. I did the same thing. Which made me wonder, just what else do I do at the poker table I don’t do anywhere else in life?
Sometimes, I break the niceties of sportsmanship and harshly criticize another player for something they did (usually to my detriment).