News Headlines

Friday, March 30, 2007

At The Mandolin

It’s already Friday. Man, it was a busy week. I was at The Mandolin CafĂ© last night listening to a friend’s band. It was pretty cool, the place was packed. I hadn’t been to The Mandolin in quite a while. They added a cool little bar in the middle of the floor that was getting a lot of use. The place has a nice vibe; coffee, beer, wine, music, couches…what’s not to like? Another acquaintance is playing at Jazzbones tonight. It should be a good show, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it. We’ve got plans all weekend and I’ve got to get some things done. We’ll see… And to make things better, baseball opening day is Monday. Go M’s! Sun, beer, and strikeouts make a good afternoon.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

First Pitch

Well, baseball season is back. I’m not so sure that the Mariners have a chance to do anything, but I’m still happy that we have baseball. There’s nothing quite like going to Safeco and watching a game on a nice sunny day. Or even watching the game at home during a BBQ is nice. Baseball is one of the great signs that spring and summer are underway. You may or may not be a baseball fan, but if you haven’t gone to Safeco and had a beer in left field while watching the game or hanging out with friends, you’re seriously missing out on one of the great spring/summer events. FYI, pre-funk at Pyramid! See you there.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Tacoma Condos

There’s been plenty of news in The Tacoma News Tribune regarding condo prices and how the market is full of high end units and is rather lacking in units offered at low to mid-level prices. Unfortunately, I think this is a concern. In order to really have a vibrant city, all types of people with varying levels of income have to be included. It becomes difficult to have a city full of artists, musicians and creative professionals if the city can only accommodate those people who make above average salaries. Not everyone is going to make six figure incomes. In a weird sense, I think the market will ultimately help solve the problem when developers realize that there is an underserved market and that money can be made by creating housing in a category other than “luxury” or “premium”. And really, how many people can really afford those units? And are these people looking at moving to Tacoma right now (or in the next twelve months)? I’m not quite convinced that Tacoma will be able to steal away these types from surrounding cities by simply offering expensive condos with views of the bay. At least not yet, anyways. I think the glut of the expensive units will continue. What Tacoma can do is offer homes to middle and upper middle class families and professionals. This seems like a battle that Tacoma can win. Seattle and Bellevue are expensive cities and housing is no exception. With the Sounder in place, Tacoma can become poised to offer an alternative to working families and professionals who cannot afford to live further north. With our urban feel, mass transit options, and proximity to the Sound, Tacoma can offer a viable alternative to those looking to live in an urban setting and still be able to afford a lifestyle that they desire. I think it’s good to set our sights high, but I also think that the condo developers are all setting their sights just slightly too high for where we are right now.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sounder in Lakewood

Sound Transit is currently breaking ground on the new Sounder Station in Lakewood. That’s great news. Within a couple of years, there should be Sounder Train service connecting Lakewood and giving residents the opportunity to commute to work and stay off the road. This is exactly what needs to be done to help the traffic situation in Western Washington. I wish the Sounder service would be expanded to include more than just servicing the I-5 corridor. If anyone has attempted to drive I-5 between Olympia and Everett during rush hour, you know what I’m talking about. Also, getting to the East Side is a complete nightmare as well. What still concerns me is why there isn’t an even bigger push by our political leaders to expand mass transportation. Obviously, not everyone in WA is going to use the service. But results show that usage has been greater than expected. And also unfortunate is the fact that the option of using rail is only limited to weekdays and certain sporting events. I personally love using the Sounder and do so whenever I get the chance. Between the Sounder and Link Light Rail, we have viable examples of what can happen if our governments truly commit to building mass transit that is more than just a necessary evil. Washington is continually growing and I’m not sure that what is being done is completely sufficient. We can do more and should demand more from our government. Let’s press the issue further and make potential government leaders see that there is a mandate of mass transit improvement and expansion from the people. You, your emotional well-being, and calendar will be better off for doing so.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Misc. News on Tacoma

Lots of interesting things going on in the area. There’s been plenty of news about the condo market here in Tacoma. I’m not sure how that will play itself out in the short term, but it will be interesting to watch. If you’re condo shopping, you should have plenty of choices. Also, the local political race is getting interesting as people make themselves available to run for city council. I think that this is a huge race coming up in terms of importance. I believe Tacoma is on the cusp of great things but we need great leadership to securely get us closer to our goals. And as the city continues to improve and clean itself up, it’s quite obvious that there are still pockets of crime spread throughout the city. We can change this as we continue to work towards letting people know that criminal behavior will not be tolerated. This next year can be a great one as we work towards positive change in our city.

Politics-No Response

What's with the administration in Washington DC? Does the Executive Branch and the Republicans in it not feel the need for accountability to its constituents? It just seems like every day there is a new debacle and no reasonable explanation for the mistake. Furthermore, there seems to be no oversight to clamp down and try to prevent any other disasters from happening. With the war, holding detainees, firing prosecutors, inept staff, lack of response after Katrina, etc., etc., the list could go on and on. And when do people within their own party finally decide that this is enough? It's no secret that many Democrats and moderates are tired of this sad routine, but what about those further to the right? It's not enough to have political opponents screaming for change. Those within that party need to speak up and demand accountability. I'm still completely amazed that no one else in that party is willing to speak up and request reason, transparency, responsibility, and a sense of service to the American public. Maybe that's why that party has no real Presidential candidates worth mentioning at this time. No one on that side of the aisle has been willing to speak up and begin doing the right things as opposed to toeing the party line. It's too bad, good debate and politics can only occur when there are viable candidates from different parties. One party full of potential candidates doesn't fully engage the potential of the great American political process.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tacoma Jobs

Can Tacoma's job market grow? What will it take for the city to be able to attract companies that can employ local residents? Is it our current tax structure that limits who is willing to set up shop here? Is it the city leadership or government that hasn't been able to address concerns and give proper incentives? I'm not completely sure that we have one answer for this. But I think it needs to be reviewed and addressed. Tacoma cannot grow into a vibrant, thriving city if a large percentage of it's residents has to leave town daily to produce elsewhere. Thankfully, I'm not sure that our neighboring towns are necessarily on the cutting edge of business development either. But, we can't take too much solace in that. We need to find new, more creative ways to keep our talent home and producing goods and services in town. I think we need to find new ways to promote relocation and growth in Tacoma. Favorable and fair taxing in Tacoma could help. A good infrastructure with low crime wouldn't be too shabby either. But can the city also look at ways of promoting new growth by subsidizing the reconstruction and redevelopment of dilapidated areas of the city? Tacoma has numerous dead spots and rundown areas that could use some serious TLC. Could the city find ways to sweeten the pot when it comes to finding more beneficial ways to redevelop those areas? Many questions remain to be sure. But I think we all need to try to come up with answers if we do not want to fall into the trap of mediocrity. Your thoughts?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Resource-The Maker's Diet

I've been going through and reading some material by an author named Jordan Rubin. He has written The Maker's Diet as well as some other books. The Maker's Diet is a great resource for those looking for some advice on diet and living a more healthy lifestyle. The advice is easy to understand and it doesn't have the feel of a textbook or anything like it. If you're interested, check it out. You may end up feeling better and living a more fulfilled life because of it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Food-Organic Foods

I’ve recently been trying to eat more organic and whole foods as opposed to my past diet which consisted of some rather horrible foods (too many to list). I’ve been going to various stores and I’m quite happy that places like Wal-Mart Superstores and other grocery stores like Fred Meyer have been improving their organic and natural food selections. And of course, Marlene’s is a great store to shop at as well. It would be nice if some other natural food stores would begin popping up in and around Hilltop as well. It’s still a battle to find a large selection of products. I’d be thrilled if a Whole Foods or PCC store would locate in or around Tacoma. But for now, the stores I’ve mentioned have some decent stuff. If you happen to know of any other stores that I’m unaware of, pass it along.

Resource-feed >> tacoma

Kevin Freitas of fame has done a good thing. He has put together feed >> tacoma ( Feed tacoma is a collection of blogs and blog updates specifically pertaining to Tacoma and its happenings. And you may have or have not noticed that Hilltopia occasionally shows up there when a Tacoma related article has been written. The cool thing about the site is that it has a good mix of articles and featured writers. If you are interested in Tacoma and what's going on, feed tacoma is a great resource to stay on top of things. It's really cool to see all of the different writers put their talents to work and come up with something for the rest of us residents to peruse. Check it out.

feed >> tacoma

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tacoma-Commercial Districts

There’s been plenty of buzz about UW Tacoma expanding, new businesses going downtown, and even the Tacoma Mall beginning its renovation. Which brings me to my point, where will the next commercial district be? Will Sixth Ave. continue to develop? Will the Proctor District decide to become more of a shoppers’ destination? 38th Street seems like it could become an even larger International District with an Asian themed shopping center and larger market perhaps? All of these things appear to be somewhat viable and possibly desired to some extent. More jobs in Tacoma is definitely desirable. And there could certainly be more places to walk to and experience. There are many possibilities, I just hope we can retain the character of all of these neighborhoods during any and all of these changes. Tacoma has shown a good propensity to retain some of it’s grit and character so far, hopefully we’ll keep up the good work.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tacoma-On the Dumping Lookout

Yesterday a neighbor and I had to confront a lady who was dumping some trash on a curb. This lady claims that she had planned to have the city pick the garbage up. I highly doubted it since the lady reeked of crack addict. Not that she unequivocally was a crack addict, but she certainly could’ve won a crack addict look-a-like contest. And to make matters worse, I swear the stray shopping carts are reproducing. Oregon is looking at passing some sort of law to address the stray shopping cart situation. I think Washington should do something to solve the issue as well. There is nothing more lame or trashy than looking at a stray shopping cart left by someone’s house or apartment building. If a grocery store can’t find a way to secure them, I think they should at least have to hire someone to go around and pick them up. I’m not trying to pick on people that need a way to transport groceries, but I also don’t think everyone in the neighborhood should have to pick up after people stealing these shopping carts either. Does anyone have a cure for the shopping cart ills?

Business News-Good Day for Stocks

The stock market had a good day today. That’s nice to see since the last few weeks have been a little rough. We may have some more rough waters ahead with fears of a recession and an increase in loan defaults. For the investor with cash, this may present a buying opportunity. So, keep your eyelids peeled for buys.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Get Out and Walk Tacoma

I’m only one person of a much larger group that thinks Tacoma is turning a corner in its revitalization. The neighborhoods are cleaning up nicely, downtown is growing, and more growth appears just ahead. There have been numerous citizens who have worked countless hours to make Tacoma a safer, more attractive place to live. I think many appreciate and acknowledge this work, but it would be early to say that we’ve arrived at our desired destination. We still have more work to do fighting crime and making the city yet more livable and enjoyable. My suggestion for helping to change perceptions and reality is that we need to get out and walk. That’s right, walk through your neighborhoods more often. We need to continue to force the issue with criminals that responsible citizens are in fact taking back their city. If everyone made their presence felt more often, I think those with bad intentions would make themselves more scare here and find somewhere else where they are tolerated. Tacoma doesn’t have to be that place. Besides, most of us can use a little more physical activity. So as the weather gets more bearable, take a walk through your neighborhood with your head up. Make sure people notice that there are residents who will notice criminal activity. I think we’re so close to making things much, much better. A strong display of unity and ownership will send a message that certain illegal activities will not be accepted here. And really, who can’t afford to walk and get out more often?

Open Sunday Night

I went for a long walk Sunday afternoon/early evening. My wife and I ended up at Starbucks on Sixth Ave. and left when it closed which was at 8pm I believe. I noticed that our town really closes up shop fairly early on Sundays. Which brings me to my point, I miss the old hang outs that you know and can rely on to be open at all hours. I'm talkin' diners, greasy spoons, coffee shops, etc. I'm not so sure that Tacoma needs more upscale restaurants. I do think Tacoma needs some more good places where people can go to hang out, read, eat, drink and just be at almost all hours of the day (or night). I know there's a couple of places that are in this description (Mandolin, Knapps, Harvester), but I do think we need more of it. And besides, I need variety. Hopefully you do too.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Creative Tacoma

I took a look at the Creative Tacoma website and was somewhat hopeful from what I read. In a nutshell, it’s a group that is rather progressive and forward moving in its message and goals for Tacoma. There is sort of a multi-faceted set of goals including commercial, ethnic, cultural, and ecologically safe goals that would benefit Tacoma and its residents as a whole. I was pretty impressed. Of course goals and outcomes can be dramatically different, but this is certainly a promising start. If you’re a Tacoma resident or are thinking about becoming one, click the link below and check it out.

Current Economic Forecast

With more news of the economy wavering, it may be a good time to look for some deals. Stock prices have dropped and experts think there may be more foreclosures as people are forced to re-finance some of their low interest rate loans originated a few years back. If you do have some cash on hand, stocks and properties may be a good deal now and an even better deal if we hit the skids. I think things may flatten out and we could see some deals that haven't been this good for a few years. Keep your fingers crossed.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Now I Remember Why I Live Here

With the sun out and an afternoon breeze blowing through my house, I finally begin to remember why I live in Washington. When the weather is nice, I think this may be one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Of course, being in such a green place should only be expected with rain nine months a year. But when it's nice, it's really nice. I can't wait for the warm weather events like kayaking in the Sound, baseball at Safeco, walks into downtown Tacoma and up in Seattle. Maybe even some work around the house with some music and cold beers. Finally, spring is here.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Tech-Google Docs and Spreadsheets

If I find something that I really like, I tend to become an evangelist for the gadget, book, idea, etc. Well, I love Google's personalized homepage and some of their office tools. Google Docs and Spreadsheets is awesome since the docs are stored at Google. Because of that, you can access your docs as long as you can access Google. So if you're like me and you don't carry any data storage on your person, this alternative is great. You can write word or excel-type docs, save them on Google and then pull the docs up wherever you have internet access. It comes in handy when you want to show an acquaintance something and you didn't plan on bringing the doc with you. Life is a little more spontaneous than even us planners admit sometimes. But, having access to your stuff online takes some of the pain out of surprises and having to run back to your office or home office to access your docs. So, if you haven't checked it out, I highly recommend taking a look at some of Google's products.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Promising Work Towards Criminal Supervision

There’s a good article in The Seattle Times by Jennifer Sullivan and David Postman explaining some of the work that is being done to better supervise released felons. This issue of supervising felons is a serious one and it demands our attention. In the past year alone, three Seattle Police Officers were killed as a result of actions taken by felons who were currently under supervision. It is quite obvious that those felons were not rehabilitated and probably should not have been released if there was a chance that anyone could have been harmed or worse, killed. Tacoma and Seattle are not the only areas that can or could be negatively affected by unsatisfactory law enforcement and supervisory efforts. I’m not sure if there is one particular person at fault for these procedural shortcomings, but the issue still remains. Citizens can and should demand an improvement in this area. Thankfully, it appears that our governor is determined that corrective action is taken as soon as possible. I think people of all political backgrounds appreciate the effort, but we cannot rest until there is significant improvement regarding this. There’s always a wish list of what citizens want from government, but this cannot be a wish; it must be a demand met with excellent results.

The Seattle Times

Warm Weather, Music, More

With Spring and Summer right around the corner, the warm weather will be here and not a minute too soon in my opinion. This will also be a time when downtown Tacoma will feel a little bit more complete than in years past. Past years have seen more construction with the additions of a new hotel and convention center among other projects. With the downtown area moving into a new direction, something else needs to be added to help celebrate all of the work that has been done. And what’s the point of it all if you can’t show it off and have a little fun? What we need is an event. Something annual, fun, mostly outdoors, and pedestrian friendly. I think an outdoors music event with a bunch of different bands would be really cool. Something like Wintergrass but outdoors. A few different stages and plenty of food and concessions booths and maybe even some old hotrods and nice boats on display in the marina. It would be a great event to show off Tacoma and what it has become. There are still many local Western WA residents who have never even ventured into Tacoma since the 80’s. Not only would an event like this give the Tacoma residents a chance to get out and enjoy the city, visitors from all over can come to listen to some bands, sightsee downtown, and get out in a town that they may have forgotten about a couple of decades ago. Tacoma shouldn’t necessarily be our own little secret.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Worthy Goal-Improving Infrastructure

With all of the squabbling over the Alaskan Way Viaduct, it got me thinking about Tacoma and how our roads and infrastructure affect us here. Do we need more traffic improvements? I believe so; I also believe that we have a unique opportunity to make improvements before our city grows even more. I’m not sure if we need an infusion of new city leadership or if a vocal citizen population is enough to create change. But, I think now is a great time to consider how the city can begin unique projects involving traffic and mass transit. With the success of the Link, it seems like an extension of it or a comparable addition should be created to service and connect the various Tacoma neighborhoods. Not only would this help reduce the use of single passenger cars, it could also encourage commercial development. Businesses may be more apt to set up shop in neighborhoods that have a population that can access the neighborhood and commercial districts easily. Also, the sense of community that develops when citizens can travel and sightsee with others in their community is immense. And of course the eco-friendly benefits are considerable when also thinking about using an energy efficient means of transportation and reducing the harmful exhaust gases as a result of reducing our dependence on cars. I certainly don’t know the answers on this one, but it appears that now is a great time to think of how Tacoma can distinguish itself as a user-friendly and energy efficient city while also promoting growth and industry.

One Big Push?

I've noticed my neighborhood has really cleaned up since I moved here to Tacoma three years ago. There are not nearly as many issues involving transients, drug users, and other people basically hanging out in places where they shouldn't be. I've also noticed a significant increase in residents taking care and sometimes completely renovating their homes. I haven't seen a large number of drug deals in quite some time; and believe me, I used to see a show just standing on my front porch. I'm sure that the neighborhood isn't where it needs to be. But on the other hand, we've come a long, long way. I'm starting to wonder if the next summer and year are going to be what pushes us over our hump. I think many Tacoma neighborhoods are going to break some of their own ceilings holding them back soon. I think if the local residents make another strong effort and really keep an eye out for crime, we'll be rid of some issues that have long plagued the city. Keep an eye out, report criminal activity, and get out and make your presence known. Just a small wave of activism and I think we'll all benefit from the cause.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tacoma Possibilities

There’s been plenty of news regarding older buildings getting some TLC and future use. If there’s one thing I dig about Tacoma it’s that there are so many great older buildings. Tacoma certainly doesn’t need to become a strip mall haven with so much existing interesting architecture. With such an eclectic mix of old and new, Tacoma is well positioned to become more of a sightseeing destination. Now if we could only get a pub crawl worthy of some real attention. If there is to be a Brewery District, possible brewery/restaurant in the Elks Lodge, and a bar/restaurant in The Mecca Theater, fans of beer would have something to truly admire. Maybe then St. Patty’s Day will be a much larger celebration here in Grit City. And who knows? The beer drinking aficionados can only imagine the possibilities. Cinco de Mayo anyone?

Economic Slowdown?

With the stock market faltering and the sub-prime mortgage market taking a hit, the economy seems to be hitting a bump in the road. The question is, will there be more? There has already been speculation that more mortgages will default in the next few years as buyers experience higher interest rates when they go to refinance. This is all interesting, but how does this affect the common guy? Besides the interest rate part, I'm not so sure that we will feel much pain. I'm not so sure that there will be new jobs created, but it appears that there are already plenty of jobs available that are somewhat specialized or require some education and skill. Where this might affect local residents is in the real estate market. With so many condos being built here in Tacoma, the market could see a glut right when interest rates could be rising. Eventually I think demand will catch up with supply, but I think we could see some good choices for condo buyers if they go to market at the right time. So if you're going to be looking for some real estate, your prime time may be coming to buy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Business in Tacoma

With the resurgence of Tacoma, I wonder if the city will ever be able to become home to more businesses. It appears that there are plenty of Tacoma residents who commute elsewhere to go to work. So it begs the question, what does Tacoma need to do to become a favorite destination for businesses to set up shop here? I think a couple of things could help. It seems a favorable tax environment could give incentive for companies to move or add remote offices here. Taxes are something that the city can control and manipulate in its favor. Creating an incentive for companies to come may be a positive step. We have to give a compelling financial reason for companies to want to relocate or start here in our home. We need to affect their bottom line in a positive manner. And our reward is that we can employ more Tacoma residents and keep them working in our city.

Good infrastructure is also something Tacoma could provide that would set it apart from other cities. We already have the Link and it has shown to be quite popular. If we can find ways to expand on our transit system, this would be a huge advantage since no other city in the region has been able to adequately run a mass transit system that is simple, easy-to-use, and convenient. Being able to get to from point A to point B easily is something that is severely lacking in the entire state. Tacoma could be the first city to take real proactive steps to address this problem.

And lastly, we need to do everything we can to create a positive experience for residents, workers and employers. Whether that includes adding attractive green spaces and parks, keeping/adding adequate security patrols to monitor illegal activity, or simply streamlining the process for businesses to get started or build new facilities, or any or all of the above, we need to continue to improve the process of progression. Continual innovation and implementation of good ideas and policy will help us all move forward. If we progress however, remains to be seen.

Vegas Changing Rapidly

It looks like the Stardust casino has met its end. Las Vegas is changing swiftly and the old casinos and hang outs are quickly fading away. That's too bad, I liked some of the old school places. Las Vegas minus some of the tacky, kitschy funk is just too sanitary and plain compared to what its history has made it (and what it should be). Instead, people will be able to go to The Echelon which will be finished in 2010. What the hell is that? It sounds like a Star Trek ride. And it probably won't have the old school flavor of the Stardust. Now don't get me wrong, some of the old places are run down and in poor shape. But I really think some of these gaming companies are making a huge mistake. There's value in keeping or restoring some of the old names and places. How many Paris', Venetians, and Echelons can one city take? After a while there's going to be so many random names and places that the Strip won't have any real value in the actual names or locations. There won't be landmarks, only expensive mega-resorts that can all be exchanged for each other without any real personal connection. I'm even ok with a company completely recreating a casino; at least there will be someone's interpretation of what the old school casino would be in today's world. But to tear down the older casinos and replace them with these faceless, nameless behemoths seems to do something that could end up harming the essence of what made Vegas so great to begin with. Why even give the new casinos names? It's all ultra-, mega-, premium, world-class, luxurious, trendy, casino-land. That's really the new name of it and it's already been done (a dozen or so times at least) and it's kind of boring. Below is an article by the AP featured on discussing the demise of the Stardust.

Monday, March 12, 2007

If You Had an Audience of Millions, What Would You Say?

I came across this question while reading Steve Pavlina's blog, What a great question! I think that's one of those questions that would tell you a lot about a person based on their answer. I think I would say that one of the most important things that I've learned is that you have to continually keep learning more and never stop pushing yourself forward. It's funny, as soon as I reach one stepping stone or plateau, I find that there is so much more to accomplish after it. It's kind of like climbing a mountain and always finding out that where you are isn't the peak. In fact, the peak is always higher up. I guess that's how humans progress. If we ever felt like we reached the peak, progress would cease. It's a little scary to think that you'll always have this battle to fight, but I guess that there is some respite or reward along the way. Still, it makes a strong case for never feeling too comfortable or at ease. What would you say to the millions of people out there if you had the chance?

Week Ahead-No Huskies

What's in the Week Ahead? No Huskies, that's for sure. The Dawgs were left out of the NIT Tournament after failing to qualify for the Big Dance. So, I won't be watching the Dawgs trying to win the second best college hoops tourney after all. St. Patty's Day in Tacoma has a couple of options now that there are a couple of new Irish bars here. Doyle's and Paddy Coyne's should both see plenty of business as the festivities get underway. And to mark it all off, the days are now longer, how can you beat that? It was 7pm and somewhat light out last night, a much welcomed event in my opinion.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

More Good News for Downtown Tacoma

Wow, more good news for downtown Tacoma. Apparently the Tacoma Elks Lodge has been sold to developers who are committed to doing something that will make the city proud. I'm certainly optimistic and happy about this. It's such a cool building and it has so much potential. And the great thing is that little corner could use something to draw more interest. Downtown is coming along, but there are still pockets where nothing is really happening. Once the ball starts rolling in some of those dead areas, I think the city experience will feel more cohesive. Now, it feels like parts of the downtown area are coming alive, but then on the next block there will be nothing or urban decay. This building was certainly one of those spots. And there's still many more dead spots. But to focus on the positive, I really feel we're as a whole getting to a better place. Below is the article by Dan Voelpel from The Tacoma News Tribune discussing the sale.

The Tacoma News Tribune

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Seahawks Spending Money

I have some high hopes for the Hawks. They're making some big moves in free agency. With free agency comes the risk that these new guys don't earn their big money. But if these players play according to what they've shown in the past, and if we also have a good draft, the Hawks could be right back in the thick of it. This is a good thing since I think Arizona and San Francisco will be better. Keep your fingers crossed. Below is part of an article written by Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times also discussing the recent signings.

Seattle announced Friday it signed former Jacksonville Jaguars safety Deon Grant to a multi-year contract. It's a six-year deal that totals more than $30 million, according to

Grant's addition came only days after the Seahawks signed Patrick Kerney, considered one of the top pass rushers available in free agency. Seattle also agreed to terms with safety Brian Russell, formerly with Cleveland, on Friday.

Russell signed for five years, ESPN reported, but financial terms of the contract were unavailable.

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Eating Better

I've never been bad about working out. I actually like the physical activity and I always feel like my head has been cleared of stress and all of the other junk that accumulates on a person's being throughout the day. Of course, growing up it didn't hurt to have a dad and a step-dad who were both career army soldiers (somehow I think I had a little extra motivation sent my way because of that). But the diet part, that's been tough. I love greasy food and plenty of starchy carbs. Basically a lot of the crap you're not supposed to eat everyday. So lately I've been trying to eat better, and that even includes trying to eat organic or less refined foods when possible. And even though grocery shopping just got a lot more complicated, I've got to admit, I do think I feel the difference. I've always been one to be a little skeptical of people who make all of these health claims for going organic, but I must say that "they" were on to something. Like I said, you have to read the labels on EVERYTHING now and it is kind of a hassle. But honestly, I do think I feel the difference. I feel much better late in the day when I'm at work when typically I would be dropping like a brick at that time. It's hard to describe it, but if you've never tried to really clean up your diet, you won't really know the feeling I'm trying to describe. I'm not sure if there's a good adjective to communicate feeling better after clearing some of the garbage food from your body. And if you've never done it, you should really consider it. You'll feel so much better once you get rid of all of the processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and bleached flours, breads, etc. Healthy foods can really make a big difference in how you feel and even act throughout the day. Think about making a really good change for yourself and your family.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Will the Religious Right Have a Candidate?

Will the religious right find someone they can like? I've heard many times the names that conservatives would like to see in office again. One of them is Newt Gingrich. He's one of the conservatives' heroes of the past. Yet, time and time again, Gingrich comes up every bit as flawed as one of our liberal heroes, Bill Clinton. Could it be that they are both fallible human beings caught in a legalistic world that cannot fathom human error; or better yet, human error before or during one's stint in the public eye? Maybe, but I find it odd that in a world where people cannot forget about Clinton's mistakes, we're still talking about Gingrich in the next sentence with little or no mention of his private life. And many sources claim that subject is every bit as sordid as anything else out there in politics. I'm not trying to be another person bashing a guy on his personal life. As a matter of fact, I'm trying to prove a point against it. We're all stuck in this rut that people in the public eye are somehow supposed to be saints up until the time that they become public figures. And in all reality, that's impossible. The continual witch hunt of the past needs to stop. Let's get to judging people by their actions; and more so on the actions of their more recent history as opposed to the distant past.


Thursday, March 8, 2007

Encouraging News on Education

If you didn’t read the article by Jamie Forsythe from the Tacoma Weekly, it’s a good article on education and our governor (click link below). Governor Christine Gregoire is asking many questions about our state’s education system and is working on finding more solutions. I appreciate that we have a leader who is proactively trying to improve matters that directly affect our families and communities. Most people wouldn’t argue the value of education, but here is an example of people getting together and actively working towards real improvement. Sometimes it just takes people asking more questions and searching for more answers. And in this case, I don’t feel like the public is being fed a political line or gimmick. Hopefully this discussion translates successfully into proactive steps to improvement. Education plays such an important part in all of our communities. At least I can be thankful that there are others who feel the same.

Worthy Goal-Let's Clean Up!

With Spring and Daylight Savings coming up, I’ve been thinking about everything I need to do around my house. I’ve got to work on my lawn, porch, garage, and other various house projects. What about you? Have you thought about what needs to be done at your home? It’s amazing what can be done with a pressure washer and some paint. Let’s make Tacoma nicer than ever. Your friends and neighbors will appreciate all of your efforts. And chances are, you’ll be satisfied once you’re through as well.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Big Idea

I'm not a fan of almost anything TV, but I like Donny Deutsche. The guy is interesting and he conducts a pretty good interview. If you don't know who Donny is, he's the host of The Big Idea on CNBC. Donny is originally famous for running his ad agency. After years of advertising, he's now working on his own show which airs weekday evenings. Donny has guests that aren't the typical fare on most other talk shows. And nicely, there's quite often a business, professional, or showbiz bent to add to the uniqueness. Somehow Donny manages to not get too soft with the guest, but he's not annoyingly inflammatory either. After work, I just don't want to hear two or three people yelling over each other (as many TV interviews now go these days). Donny doesn't seem to have too much patience for that nonsense either. It's just a really simple show with some interesting guests minus the band, joke monologue, sketches, and other mindless fluff. A good show if you've got the time to catch some TV right around dinner. And you won't feel like you've lost some IQ points after watching it either. I think that alone puts it in the top 1% of television.

Tacoma Growing?

I took a long walk with my wife this past Sunday. It was really odd, there were people downtown. The Convention Center and the Tacoma Dome both had scheduled events and the downtown streets actually had some traffic. I don’t know if you go downtown on any Sunday afternoon, but it’s typically dead as a doornail. I mean eerie quiet. There’s been times where I think I was one of five people in all of downtown going for a walk. But this past Sunday was a different story, there were people everywhere. It was nice, there was a whole new energy there. With that many people downtown, it was evident that there could have been more for people to do; there really isn’t much to speak of in regards to small shops, bookstores, cafes, etc. But if more is built, will it lead to this? I hope so, we’ve heard so much made of Tacoma’s potential; I’m ready to see some more potential turn into a growing reality.

Are There Moderate Republicans?

As I was reading this article from the AP this morning, a question arose. Are there moderate Republicans now? And if so, are they welcome in their own party? It seems the term Republican is beginning to mean a more religious, conservative, and very right wing candidate. We all know that there are these types in the Party, but how is someone like Giuliani going to fit in with the very loud and demonstrative religious right? After reading this article, you realize how times have changed. Just a little while ago, Giuliani was hailed by all as a hero; now, his own party is going to test him according to his number of skeletons in the closet. That's too bad. I had this same issue with people who played the same card with Bill Clinton. I think too much weight is given to the morality of a candidate as opposed to a person's ability to do a job. By the way, recent history shows that if the public turned the spotlight in on some right wing ministers, they would have their fair share of hypocrites as well (Haggard, anyone?). Don't get me wrong, ethical and moral standards are very important, I just don't want to get delusional and assume that we're electing the next Pope.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Ann Coulter Losing Ads

Ann Coulter, could two words bring more nasty, mean thoughts? The surly, spewer of political mud has found herself in a bind. Because she's now using discriminatory terms to describe people publicly (did we ever doubt that she used any derogatory and discriminatory terms in private?), she is now losing ad revenue. What happens when the sideshow begins to lose money? That in and of itself is almost anti-Republican right? Well, we'll see. Due to Ann's words of hate, she's now losing some support from both advertisers and fellow Republicans. It's not really a good thing to have the vocal support of a bigot if you're interested in becoming President of the United States. Throw in the fact that the Republicans have had a tough go of things anyways and poof!, things are getting hairy. What I'm interested in seeing is how the Republicans and advertisers deal with Ann later on. It's not acceptable to endorse any behavior that is disrespectful and mocking of peoples dignity and lifestyle. For her to blatantly blast anyone with terms that she's willing to use is bringing us back to a place that I think most Americans would just rather not go. We've come a long way in acknowledging rights, respect, dignity and equality. Let's not reverse progress in order to garner attention or to further a cause of hate. Respect should not have to be at a premium today. And lastly, for the sake of everyone involved, Ann needs to go away, far away.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Week Ahead

What’s going on in the week ahead? The economy seems to be battling for center stage as the stock market has some investors worried. There is also talk of a slowing economy. Politics seems to be the same old, same old. Not much going on other than the media biting at the bit while it awaits the inevitable political battle between Obama and Clinton for the Dem’s favor. And in other news, not a whole lot else exciting although basketball is definitely getting better now that we’re inching closer to March Madness and the NBA Playoffs. Albeit here in western WA, the Huskies are clinging by a string for an NCAA bid and the Sonics are just painful to watch.

Economic Jitters?

With the stock market getting so much attention lately, there has been increased word that a recession may be ahead. Stocks have certainly been volatile, but I'm not so sure that a recession will be underway. The country is certainly due for a slowdown, but U.S. companies are still posting strong gains and their balance sheets are looking very good in many instances. Who knows what the rest of the world will experience, and that uncertainty does affect us in this global economy. But overall, I'm not too concerned as long as we can continue plugging ahead and remain productive. More job creation certainly wouldn't hurt, but I think overall we're poised to ride out this latest storm.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Seahawks in Free Agency

Ok, I'm getting slightly worried. The Seahawks didn't get the offensive lineman they wanted, Denver is set on signing Patrick Kerney (DE) and everyone it seems is interested in Daniel Graham (TE). And to make it worse, I don't think there's too many good Safeties out there. And on top of that, San Francisco made some big moves to bolster their secondary. I'm certainly not the type to say that we need to sign a bunch of overpriced free agents, but I think we need to make a move or two. If not now, hopefully we can do some good things through the draft. But that's a tough situation too since we don't have a first rounder. Interesting times, we'll see if that much-talked-about front office can make some magic this year.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Hello Out There!

I typically write about some thought or idea brewing in my head. But today I just didn't want to be so serious. So hello to everyone out there. Thanks for checking out Hilltopia. There's been lots of new faces showing up and I again want to welcome you and say thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave comments and make this as much yours as is mine. See ya!

Thursday, March 1, 2007


In Hilltopia you’ll see quite a bit on politics. Politics is a weird thing; it affects us directly, yet so many of us avoid directly addressing it. I find that very strange. So often I find that the political situation either locally or nationally is the bull in the china shop that everyone is trying to avoid addressing. Horrifically, this new level of political correctness is exactly what is partially ailing so many situations in our communities. I can only address so many of those situations, but who cares? I can certainly give it a go. With that being said, let’s dive into some food for thought.

One of the biggest challenges to democracy now is the level of behind the scenes giving that is affecting what our representatives say and do. Too often a politician isn’t doing the right thing but is simply doing the action that has been paid for. There needs to be more transparency in campaign funding and political giving in general. All political funding should be easily traceable and verified. Each source of giving should have a name attached to it. The public should be able to clearly see who is contributing to a politician’s campaign. Dates, amounts and names should be recorded. Again, everything needs to be easily verified.

There should also be a limit to the amount a candidate should be able to collect. The democratic process should remain a public one. By limiting the amount collected, the political race doesn’t become one of who can get the most money to spend on an effective campaign. Instead, all politicians can collect up to the same amount. After that, you have to win on your track record, political platform, beliefs, plan of action, sales ability, and presentation to the public. The political game is currently one of pandering to the biggest wallets in order to get their money (and in turn be committed to serving the big wallet’s interests). And to make matters worse, the general public has no idea who the politicians have sold out to in order to build this war chest of money.

A set number of public debates should become mandatory in order to run for public office. No more hiding behind flashy ads, campaign managers, and public relations representatives. The politician has to get in front of the American public and present their views directly and in the company of a moderator and the other candidates. This would truly help create a “No Spin Zone”.

Criminal records should be made public. Hey, we’re hiring this person to oversee our well-being. I want to see what I’m buying. You should want to see what you’re buying into as well.

On top of all of this change, audits need to be conducted to make sure that everyone is playing by the rules. And to keep things clean, criminal charges should be brought against the candidate if there is any foul play. That’s right, no Scooter Libbys taking the fall for misrepresentation. The criminal charges are levied against the big boss if there’s any shady play. Somehow I think the process would clean itself up if the big boys had some skin in the game.

Spending, the great American pastime. All American governments should create a legitimate budget. The budget has to stay in the black with the exception of emergencies and war. And any spending over a set limit should be voted on by the people themselves. Any spending initiatives voted on should pass by a 2/3 vote. That is, there should be a clear mandate by the American people that this major investment is necessary and agreed upon.

Accounting, the fast and wild world of accounting. Ok, not so much. All governments need to practice “pay as you go” accounting. All expenses are paid for by income sources currently present. That is, there is no putting off expenses and working the books in such a manner as to show excess funds when in reality, the budget is in the red. And again, failure to present the budget in a manner not indicative as suggested above results in criminal prosecution for failure to disclose accurate information to the American public.

And to keep everyone honest, more public addresses and speeches made by politicians to the American public are made under oath. That is, say what you mean, mean what you say, and if not, you’re breaking the law. Let’s take the spin out of politics. Too many speeches and statements are made to the American public under false or at the very least, not completely true pretenses. Our founding fathers worked towards a political system that allows for a clear and honest dialogue between elected leaders and the American public. I’m not so sure that the same intent is being practiced as effectively today as it had been practiced then. A new effort to push for improvements in presenting clear and honest information to the American people is far overdue.

In closing, I’m not a professional politician nor do I claim to be an expert in any or all of these areas presented. But I am a participant in this great society and I think it’s not only my privilege and right to discuss these ideas, but it’s also a responsibility as an American citizen. Apathy and neglect are current plagues upon our political systems. And as a result, I think much of what we believe to be true and right about our American society has been twisted due to changing times, modern growth and special interests. The greater American public can begin to bring back our basic American ideals, we just have to push a little more and remember what it is that we truly want as a society. We can shape our destinies with practical application, we need only to begin.

Worthy Goal-Eating Better

I've been trying to watch what I eat a little more. I've also tried to cut out more processed foods. Talk about a battle. It's a tough change to start reading labels on everything you eat and watch what is really going into your body. With so many processed and chemically altered foods, you can't fall asleep at all when trying to decide what to eat. I also didn't realize just how much sugar or sugar substitutes are in everything. It's so much harder to not eat sugar or sweeteners than just not thinking about it. But eating better is a worthy goal. In America it's almost an opposite problem than what much of the world is dealing with. Here we have too much food and it's a challenge of not eating it all whereas in so many other places there is simply a food shortage. Unfortunately Americans are generally (according to numerous studies) in poor health and shape. We can change this by trying to make smarter choices about what we decide to consume. So if you're like me and aren't really up to speed on food, do some reading and get ready to be shocked. You'll be surprised by some of the information regarding certain side effects of eating what is in the everyday diet of the common American. And then begin to make some changes (this is definitely the harder part). Good luck on your journey!