Off The Press

September 24, 2013

Go places, learn new things on the cheap

 Do you have a King County library card? At the low price of free, it’s one of the best values on the planet.

I’ve been an avid reader since I was a little kid. Oh, the lives and worlds I’ve escaped into. Books can do that.

Kathleen R. Merrill Press managing editor

Kathleen R. Merrill
Press managing editor

I still have my first library card, which I got when I was 5. I also have my library awards from reading contests when I was a child. If they said read 50 books, I read 100. Ahh, nostalgia.

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It’s a small, bark, meow world, after all

September 17, 2013

There is not what we would call an identity crises going on among the two- and four-legged residents of the humble Farrar household, but we could probably hit the nail on the head if our identities were described as highly flexible.

You will understand if I simply say that the cats think they are dogs or sometimes humans, the dogs think they are humans, the husband thinks he is a cat or dog or sometimes a wife, and the wife thinks she is a dog or cat or sometimes a husband.

Greg Farrar Press photographer

Greg Farrar
Press photographer

Smudge, one of our three cats, always wants to eat what the people are eating. She enjoys rice cakes, fudge bars, olives, yogurt, vegetable soup and spaghetti.

Our dogs Bairn and Ilsa live on the furniture and watch TV with us, always “help” us read the paper, never let us out of their sight and don’t bat an eye when Smudge, Smokey and Flash walk around them rubbing their foreheads under the dogs’ chins.

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Off The Press

September 10, 2013

If you’re going to go, go with a smile

I’ve finally got a topic here that I can sink my teeth into — my smile.

Essentially, it sucks.

David Hayes

David Hayes

You think teen girls have it hard, trying to live up to an impossible ideal, comparing their bodies to the svelte models in their pop culture mags? Try comparing your grill to the flawless grins in television commercials.

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Off The Press

September 3, 2013

Old teachers lose all class

Joe Grove Press reporter

Joe Grove
Press reporter

In his speech before a joint session of Congress in 1951, eight days after he was fired by President Harry Truman, General Douglas McArthur closed with the famous lines, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” To paraphrase it, old teachers never die, they just lose their class.

As a retired teacher, when I browse stores this time of year and see the school supplies out, along with the newest trends in student clothing, I feel a twinge of nostalgia and a bit of sadness, knowing I am now out of school for good.

What I miss most is my seventh-grade reading classes, reading aloud to the kids and talking to the kids about what they were reading.

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Off The Press

August 27, 2013

Put your clothes on for back to school

It’s almost time for young people to go back to school, which means for weeks we at the newspaper have been receiving emails and phone calls galore about what students and parents need to know.

Kathleen Merrill Press managing editor

Kathleen Merrill
Press managing editor

Last week, I got several emails from schools about dress codes for students. This reminder in one of them from a high school made me howl with laughter:

“At all times, your chest/cleavage, thighs/buttocks and shoulders must be covered, and all underwear must be UNDER another piece of clothing and not visible.”

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Off The Press

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.

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Off The Press

August 13, 2013

Frank Blethen, Jeff Bezos and the future of news

Peter Clark Press reporter

Peter Clark
Press reporter

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.

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Off The Press

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.

Joe Grove Press reporter

Joe Grove
Press reporter

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.

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Off The Press

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.

Greg Farrar Press photographer

Greg Farrar
Press photographer

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.

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Off The Press

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.

David Hayes

David Hayes

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.

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