February 25, 2014
In Mayor Fred Butler’s Feb. 18 State of the City address, he said the first initiative of the coming year lies in providing “outstanding customer service.” It was the most recent example of hearing city officials in Issaquah and elsewhere refer to citizens as customers and I keep trying to unravel why it bothers me.
I should say up front that I have a silly little degree in political science, and obsessing over the details of government language comes with the territory. Still, my knee-jerk reaction would say, “You are a government, not Verizon or Domino’s pizza.”
Clearly, governments who refer to citizens as customers do so in order to clarify the relationship between the public and the establishment. By saying they hold themselves accountable for the taxes they receive and pledge to provide good services in exchange, it frames the relationship in an economically driven way. Additionally, it makes the give and take seem more friendly and personal.
February 18, 2014
Debbie Berto joined a growing, distinguished list within the past year when she announced her retirement. After 40 years at The Issaquah Press, she was ready to move on to the next challenge in her life.
She wasn’t the only one to call it quits on service in the public eye.
Locally, Ava Frisinger ended her run in January as Issaquah’s longest-serving mayor after 17 years. When Frisinger announced in 2009 she would not run for another term, her reasoning was simple.
“I didn’t want to become stale,” she said. “It’s important to let others in and run things with a fresh set of eyes.”
February 11, 2014
Congratulations, Seahawks and Seahawks fans. The 43-8 Super Bowl win against Denver makes us proud to be Northwest residents. And kudos to the Seahawks organization for the way it has embraced the 12th man concept — saying we fans are part of the team.
Online sports columnist Art Thiel (www.sportspressnw.com) said the number 12 seems to have significance for the Seahawks.
“If you’re into sports numerology, Seattle scored 12 seconds into the first half, and 12 seconds into the second half,” he wrote. “For the long-suffering 12s, the symbolism goes beyond coincidence.”
February 4, 2014
I was proofreading copy and the word came up again: sustainability.
It must be a regional buzz word, as I have never heard it used as much as I have here, but what does it mean? It is often used with stories about building projects but seems to have other contexts as well. I think it has to do with the fact I am now living in a more environmentally sensitive culture.
I believe it was the Mad Hatter who said to Alice, a word means what I say it means. The dictionary defines a word, but personal experience forms the many possible nuances.
When I hear “sustainability,” the follow experiences shape its meaning for me: I was in Switzerland while the U.S. was celebrating its bicentennial. One of the locals, curious about the celebration, asked, “What’s the big deal. The barn over the hill is more than 200 years old?”
January 28, 2014
I spent $14 on a single pair of socks yesterday.
While I do not skimp on dates with pretty girls and the like, I resist spending unnecessary money on myself. I taught myself to cook to save on meals, I only buy generic brands and you better believe I put water in an empty shampoo bottle to get a little more life out of it. So, what would justify such expensive socks?
Shamefully, I am slowly becoming a runner.
You know what I mean, one of THOSE runners. I’m becoming one of those runners who wear nothing but reflective gear, weird fabric sleeves on their arms and legs, obnoxious sunglasses and ostentatious shoes.
I have long loved running and have regularly engaged in it for the past decade. As my metabolism begins to wage war against my waistline, I have used running as a primary defense. Like a calorie cavalry…
However, I still would never have spent $14 on two thin slabs of fabric attached to my feet.
Last year, on the whim of a particularly strong run and a whispered New Year’s resolution, I ran my first marathon. Like an idiot, a crazy idiot, I ran 26 miles without stopping. Training for only eight weeks, I finished the sucker and haven’t shut up about it since.
As time passed and my running schedule grew ever sporadic, I felt an urge to do an insane thing and I decided to try my hand at another foolish feat of fleet-footedness. So, I’m currently in week five of training for the May 4 Vancouver Marathon.
It turned out that I didn’t hunger for another free T-shirt and more professional pictures of my accomplishment that I can’t afford. Rather, I grew nostalgic about how I physically felt during the training. With a set schedule for when I would run and how far, it ensured that I would get more than enough exercise and feel way less guilt about eating pizza.
More than anything, everything feels great. From my mind to my body, getting so exhausted can only mean good things to relax my busy self. It helps everything make more sense and will hopefully aid me in aging gracefully.
However, as I feel more compelled to do this, I want to train more responsibly and optimize each run. I was extremely proud of finishing the first marathon. Unfortunately, I am nothing without challenges. I finished one, but how can I do better? This is my personality and most of what makes me insufferable for long periods of time.
I’ve begun worrying about pace speed, shoe-life and how many calories to eat while I venture out on anything over 12 miles. Instead of just doing the thing, which I focused on last year, I want to do the dumb thing well.
And with that decision to optimize this increasingly important exercise comes very stupid corollaries. Like spending $14 on socks.
Of course, you should assume I can only do this through the gift of bachelorhood and the curse of being without a family. After you turn 30, it seems your Facebook page becomes full of either baby pictures or bragging about running marathons. At least I picked the least expensive choice.
January 21, 2014
People, local land are missing Margaret Macleod
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
Margaret Macleod would not care if you read any farther than that quotation, as long as you take it to heart and burn it into your mind. That’s my hunch, anyway.
A few of her friends have shared their thoughts with me.
January 7, 2014
People tend to dread making and sticking to resolutions.
A few years ago, I decided I wasn’t going to make any more resolutions. Oh, I would always start the year with the best intentions, but you know what they say about those.
I would make a list, excited about prospects and possibilities. Weeks later, I would feel awful about missed opportunities and failed plans. The blues would set in as I struggled to get back on track and finally gave up.
But wait! What if I made only one resolution, something I knew I could stick to?
December 17, 2013
Alyene Porter published “Papa was a Preacher” in 1944, and it has been on my reading list for years. This will be the year it gets scratched from the list, as I just ordered it from Amazon.com.
Dad was a preacher, and I look forward to commiserating with Porter as I read about her life of growing up in a parsonage, especially at Christmastime.
Dad pastored small-town churches in places like Roslyn, Cle Elum and Eatonville. No single childhood Christmas memory stands out, but the ambience of the season does.
December 10, 2013
Budget season ended last month. You missed it. You missed many graphs, many charts, many numbers, many questions and many answers. You also missed the opportunity to take part.
You know that saying, “If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain?” That should apply to civic action and education in general, especially regarding local government. If you don’t recognize the many ways the city tries to cultivate civic interaction, then you lose out on a chance to both learn how your tax dollars are spent and complain about how the council decides to spend them.
From social media alerts, two public hearings and five open work sessions, only one citizen stood up to speak. That’s pretty poor representation for Issaquah’s 31,000 residents.
December 3, 2013
Extraordinary acts of generosity never cease to amaze me during the holidays in Issaquah, and it’s a privilege to see some of them up close on assignment with a camera.
Among the first of many that will be going on throughout the month, it is a pleasure to report on the first two I’ve been sent to cover. There are more events to come, and it’s never too late to step up to the plate and help those in need.
At Issaquah High School on Nov. 26, it was stunning to see a portion of the floor in the commons covered in a blanket of canned and boxed food. Tying in the food drive with the release of the popular “Hunger Games” movie sequel, students Amanda Levenson and Juliana Da Cruz thought a friendly competition would get interest from a lot of their classmates.