Category Archives: This Blog

Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow

One thing I did when I went in and told my boss, Kitsap Sun Editor David Nelson, that I was taking a job elsewhere was I promised him I wouldn’t write a “Goodbye” column. Those kind of farewells can be so full of self-importance and blindness. It’s blindness to the fact that the majority of readers, and “majority” is really underselling it, are fortunately incapable of giving a bark about some fool who got the notion that writing stuff that happens for a living is not going to write stuff that happens anymore. Not for a living, anyway.

I mean, I don’t read farewells from people leaving their jobs at the toaster manufacturing company, the shipyard, or the bar. Even some politicians make less noise when they leave the business.

Hasta la vista, baby. (California Motor Speedway 2006. Photo by Larry Steagall.)

Hasta la vista, baby. (California Motor Speedway 2006. Photo by Larry Steagall.)

I stayed committed to my promise to David for about a week, figuring I’d leave a note on Facebook that a few people would notice. It would be enough for those who wondered what happened and to make clear that I didn’t get fired. Because I operate under the perhaps misguided notion that I have a reputation worth protecting, I cared a whit about that.

But your accountant will let you know if the party’s over and that you might ought to consider getting your money laundered by someone else. So as my final day approached I shifted in my thoughts about this. I got the notion to create a farewell that wasn’t so much like the ones I’d seen that had become so tired. There have been so many journalists leaving the business in the last 10 years that it’s nearly impossible to not swim in the exit pieces. I crafted a short message on top of a picture of a cowboy riding off into the sunset, then accidentally let it post sooner than I wanted to. For 15 minutes or so you had the chance to see it.

Even that seemed too self-serving and emotional, so I took it down.

The reason I came back to write something is because I don’t want to quit this job without saying one thing, even if it is in a tortured farewell.

If you’re curious why I would leave, my first answer is simply that it is time. I believe everyone involved wins in this. I loved being a journalist for the last 16 years, but I never operated under the assumption or even the hope that it would last forever. I said before on Facebook that this is amazing work. I mean it. I’m sure I’ll miss parts of it, particularly the people I got to meet as a reporter, especially including my coworkers. We cover things that are boring to most people, other things that are exciting to many and news that is tragic to everyone. In all of those experiences I was always amazed by the graciousness of those who somehow had faith that talking to me might do some good.

And that gets to the one thing I wanted to say: Thank you.

To leave without saying that seemed ungrateful.

The other reason I leave is because the right opportunity became available. On Monday I go to work in the Kitsap County Auditor’s office as education and outreach coordinator. If you run for something here you will probably talk to me. I’ll be taking on other communications tasks in the office as well, applying what I’ve learned here and learning new skills.

For my closing number I leave you with a song that I think reflects the emotions of someone who looks back on a career path he hopes did some good and probably wasn’t as great as he wishes he were.

Please come see me and hang out with friends at Story Night.

Again, thank you. As always, go Dodgers! And my apologies to David. I hope this doesn’t get me fired.

Whatever It Is, I’m Against It

If this blog has seemed inconsistent in delivering political material as of late, it’s largely because I have been immersed in a project story that will be out within a couple of weeks. When it comes out I’ll share how and why the project came about. For now I’ll tell you that it has to do with how people make major transformations or conversions in their lives.

Oddly enough there’s little, if any, political material in the piece, though when I started I thought there might be. There are pundits and politicians who migrate from one party or philosophy to another. Though I don’t really address it in the story, I think I might understand a little more how it happens. The conversions I’m dealing with are mostly the sudden kind, which I don’t think often happens in politics.

That said, 25 years ago when I worked as an intern in Washington, D.C. I became convinced that many of the unelected people on Capitol Hill working for elected people were mercenary. I also believed that few people in Washington cared about solving problems, it was more about winning. From my perspective, it’s way worse today.

You see above in the Kitsap Reader a Washington Post piece by Joel Achenbach called “The audacity of nope.” The piece opens with this:

“The state of the union is obstreperous. Dyspepsia is the new equilibrium. All the passion in American politics is oppositional. The American people know what they don’t like, which is: everything.

That sounds like nihilism, but they’re against that, too.”

My heavens, the piece is depressing, more so because it’s accurate, much more than it was when I was an observant intern in Senator Wilson’s office.

For me it makes sense now that there is an absence of political transformation in my story about conversion. When you get to thinking that Americans will be disapproving of whoever gets elected; and disapproving of the talking heads that discuss the politicians; and you recognize that your e-mail Inbox was once filled with calls for regime change in Washington instead of Iraq, but that now your Facebook page is filled with messages of calls to hand our leaders over to Haiti; you kind of wonder if changes in the political world really matter. The same people are yelling. They’ve just exchanged arguments. Well, the tone of them anyway.

I might feel differently tomorrow if I sleep better tonight.

I’m Workin’ On It

Gardner here.

From yesterday through probably Tuesday the blogging could be light again. My wife went to Mexico for the weekend. At least she said it was only for the weekend. Anyway I’m home with the other three who didn’t go to Mexico. I’ll be doing some work from home, but may not have much to add here until mid-week. I’m working on something I hope to add, but it’s new technology for me, so whether it happens is open to wagering.

See you around town.

Steven Gardner
Kitsap Caucus drink stirrer

So Should We Give People What They Want?

Sarah Palin wrote against cap-and-trade policies in the Washington Post. The second paragraph included this sentence:

“Unfortunately, many in the national media would rather focus on the personality-driven political gossip of the day than on the gravity of these challenges.”

On this blog we have two recent entries about Palin. So far they’ve generated 50 comments. To get to 50 comments on topics other than Palin you have to go back 21 other posts.

If I were to base my posts on what draws the most comments, I’d be writing about Palin, Clinton/Lewinsky, or anything else that would boost comments and views. I don’t, and frankly I think in large part it’s because I don’t think you really want me to.

Am I right?

Two-Minute Pause Before Tweeting

Over the past several weeks I’ve become kind of a fan of Twitter, after entering into the technology somewhat reluctantly. I know, Nikky. My participation has made Twitter officially uncool. Tell Ashton Kutcher.

We use the technology to post links to our stories and blog entries, to blast out one sentence of news when that’s all we have and to repeat things overheard in the newsroom.

Twitter does remind me of an online chat room, except that you can pick who you chat with a lot easier, so the conversation seldom, if ever, devolves into “Who here wants to party!!!!”

There are risks. The ability to write something and post it can happen almost as quickly as it would at a cocktail party. So remember that time you said something really stupid, and realized it sometime between the words coming out of your mouth and the laughter dying down? So it might behoove us all to wait at least a couple of minutes before Tweeting, at least on issues that aren’t critical. Case in point from Monday, from a Tweeter whose name I’ll keep to myself:

RT @TheRealMariners Tarp is currently on the field with rain expected. US: Uh, doesn’t Safeco Field have a retractable roof?
2:07 PM Jun 9th from TweetDeck

Never mind—the game’s (duh) in Baltimore. @TheRealMariners
2:09 PM Jun 9th from TweetDeck

“Twitter” is now in the AP Stylebook, along with “collateralized debt obligations” and “baba ghanoush.”

The new entry for Twitter notes that the social networking Web site limits messages to short Tweets. The verb forms are to Twitter or to Tweet.

I think AP is wrong about using “Twitter” as a verb, but I don’t know anything. I just Tweet here.


Don’t Forget the Kitsap Reader

We had an issue with the ad above and the white space it was creating, so I chose to lift something from the sidebar to the right and place it up top. So now we give you  another reminder to check out the Kitsap Reader.

I try to read a few national or regional stories in the morning that I think you political types might find interesting. Sometimes I don’t get to it until later in the day, but I’m updating pretty regularly.

The stories don’t always deal directly with Kitsap issues, but they often have either an indirect relation and are things I think some of you would be glad to read.

In the past I’ve wanted to post a listing of stories you might like reading, but creating a blog entry takes a bit of time, you see. Thanks to Publish2, I can do that this way.

Feel free to recommend stories to me for inclusion in the Kitsap Reader. Contact me by e-mail at

The three latest entries appear, but for more of them you can click on the “More Kitsap Reader Links” line.

Kitsap Reader Launches on the Caucus

Following the lead set by Angela Dice on the food blog, we’re going to launch a “Kitsap Reader” feature of the Kitsap Caucus blog. In it you will find a list of stories that I, or some of you, have found interesting and think would be interesting to others in this group. The reader will stay in this post, but I’m also going to set up a page you can always click on the find the list.

If you’ve read stories you think might interest the others in here, feel free to send me the link. If it seems like a good fit the link will join the others. This will be an experiment for a little while, but I’m sure we’ll eventually settle into a predictable standard. These first few stories are beyond Kitsap, but they don’t have to be.

More Kitsap Reader Links

Kitsap Caucus Is Twitter Fated

If you’re a Twitterer, or whatever the jargon is for such a thing, so are we. You can find us by clicking on the little linky thingy here. @KitsapCaucus

Personally, I’m still getting use to this Twitter thing and there are many in this arena who hate Twitter, HATE IT, I tell you. I figure if it will help me continue to get paid, I’m inclined to be for it.

Later I’ll set something up on Facebook, too. I know my way around that place. No poking, no sending me flowers or snowballs. I like those little buttons, though, and I’ve become quite the farmer.

Visiting Reagan Country

I’ll be away from the beautiful Olympic Peninsula over the next week on a trip to Utah for a family wedding.

Still, I may post occasional items while in the shadows of Lone Peak and Timpanogos. That’s if I’m not too busy gawking at the changing colors and the relentless blue sky, or boring my children by pointing out every place I lived or ate or walked or had my car break down while I was in college. “Oh my heck!”

I’ll also miss the first Gregoire-Rossi debate. One good thing, Rossi still hasn’t scheduled another visit to Kitsap for me to miss.

Talk to you all on Monday the 22nd, if not sooner.

Only Kitsap Caucus Readers Get the Leap on the Kitsap Sun Sounding Board

Oh sure, you could wait until Sunday and read this in the paper. Or maybe you could wait until it goes live online, usually sometime Saturday night.

But you, faithful (or just happened to stop by) Kitsap Caucus readers can have a sneak peak at the story we have introducing the Kitsap Sun Sounding Board. This is the group who will help us cover the 2008 general election, by being sources and weighing on key events.

Hey, I may not be able to text-message all of you when I announce my choice for veep. But every once in a while I can get you something those not wise enough to read this blog don’t get until hours later. Pat yourself on the back for being so sharp.

My Independence

Enjoy the Fourth and the next week. I, the main contributor to this blog, will be away until July 14. The others will make some contributions, so keep checking in. There may also be some site maintenance while I’m gone. You know, stuff like changing my password so I can’t login here anymore and invalidating my key card so I can’t get into the building, things like that.

Actually, it will probably be something else.

At any rate, here’s a little educational material to satisfy your curiosity about how all that noise happens. See you on the 14th.

New Blog Software

This is just to let you know that we upgraded our software for the blog. It doesn’t look any different for you, but holy moly it does for us on the back end.

A couple things have happened since the upgrade. One commenter posted a comment and never saw it. I checked the spam file and the regular file and it’s not there. I usually get notified when someone writes, and for that comment I never was. If any of the rest of you have had the same thing happen, I’d like to know.

Second, one commenter posted a comment and it went into the right folder, but I was never notified. There’s nothing for you to tell me about there, since that’s something that only I would know.

There is a possibility that you could make it so your comments can post automatically, but I haven’t yet figured it out. If any of you are willing to set up an account at TypeKey ( we can see if automatic posting is possible. If you do it, let me know and I’ll see if I can list you as trusted. I’ve tried to do it myself and have not been able to figure out how to make it work, or if it will.

If you’ve noticed anything different in the last couple of days, I’d like to hear about it. Send me an e-mail or make a comment here.


We Hit 5K

We hit a milestone today.

Jim Watson’s comment on the latest NASCAR post was the 5,000th reader comment to be posted on this board.

Of course, most of you will remember that this blog started as the Tracking the Speedway blog and then morphed into a broader discussion of politics. Nonetheless, it’s only fitting that the 5Kth comment was one about NASCAR.

Thanks to all of you for your contributions and keep it coming.

As you were.