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Peninsular Interning: The best of Kitsap

Peninsular Thinkers, you know your towns better than anyone else. So what are the things you’d recommend to someone who’s never set foot in the Pacific Northwest before? If your relative came into town (and you liked that relative) what are the places, attractions and restaurants you would insist they experience?

That’s the position that I’m in. My name is Miranda Davis and I arrived in Kitsap County about two weeks ago to spend my summer interning at the Sun. The plot twist? I’m from Kansas. I’m a senior studying journalism at the University of Kansas and I drove two thousand miles at the end of May and before that, I’d never been west of Denver. Everything I thought I knew about the area before arriving was from Grey’s Anatomy and Starbucks. I know, I’m awful.

When I tell people I’m new here they say I’m so lucky, because summer is the best time to experience the area, and I completely agree. It also appears as if I brought my pink rain boots for nothing.

So send in the things you think I have to see, eat and experience before August 1st, and I’ll give them a try. Ideally, I want to experience the things that you think of when you think of the word “home,” so hopefully that includes a mix of tourist attractions and things that are off the beaten path.

My rules:

  1. I am willing to drive up to two hours each way if It’s something I can do for the majority of the day. I also like taking the ferry to Seattle but I plan on trekking it on foot once I get into the city.
  2. I’ve already been to the Space Needle and Pike Place Market (It was so busy! There was too much happening around me! I ate a really good grilled cheese!)
  3. I have no diet restrictions and I will eat almost anything. Seafood is growing on me every minute I’m up here. (However, bonus points if you recommend an awesome cheeseburger, and double bonus points if you recommend barbeque)
  4. I’m not afraid of heights but I really dislike roller coasters. Please don’t make me go on a roller coaster.
  5. While mountains and large bodies of water are new to me, I like hiking and swimming, but do not expect me to run a half marathon.
  6. I want to attend festivals and events and I’m 21 years old (so yes, I would really like to know what craft beer I should be purchasing at the grocery store)

I’ll post about the best of my experiences on the Peninsular Thinking blog, where you can see what I think of the best Pacific Northwest and weigh in from the comments section or on social media.

Send all ideas to, or find me on Twitter @MirandaDavisUDK. That’s also where I’ll be posting photos, videos and unrefined thoughts from my adventures.

Celebration of Shane Zimmardi’s Life Saturday

Check out this picture. See the kid in the top row, second from right, the one with the big smile? That’s Shane Zimmardi.
Shane played with my son Daniel (bottom right) on the legendary Blue Angels. The team had a reputation in South Kitsap Soccer Club for kicking butt and taking names. They were the team to beat in their age division in the mid-2000s.

Shane was a ball of energy, always with that great big smile. It could be raining sleet sideways, and you’d think Shane was out for a day the beach. And fast! That kid could run.

I was heartsick on May 13 to see that Shane had died at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma. The cause of his death, as reported by a close friend, was a drug overdose.

On May 8, Shane attended a rave in Tacoma and consumed a drug he thought was “molly.”

“MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), also known as ecstasy or molly, is an amphetamine derivative that has both stimulant and hallucinogenic effects,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Although MDMA is an illicit substance, it is used recreationally, including at electronic dance-music festivals, and can cause adverse health events. These include hyperthermia (spiking body temperature), seizures and organ failure among other effects. The drug, which is often laced with other substances, has been linked to a number of deaths across the country.

According to a KOMO story on Shane’s death, nine people were transported by the Tacoma Fire Department from the Life in Color event where Shane became ill.

Ashton Soete, a close friend of Shane’s, posted on Facebook about the availability of test kits that can quickly and cheaply screen for contamination. Like prophylactics to prevent STDs and pregnancy for people who are sexually active, the use of these kits should be encouraged among people who do use drugs, Soete said.

I can’t speak to that, although a doctor quoted by KOMO said the tests are unreliable.

The CDC reported on an electronic dance music festival in New York in 2013 where twenty-two people suffered adverse effects from the heat of the event, drugs and alcohol. Nine people became severely ill and two of those people died. The two who died both had MDMA in their system.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene investigated and as a result, the department and festival promoters together “developed multiple interventions including implementing a surveillance system for adverse events and safety measures (e.g. roaming teams of peer volunteers, stricter entrance procedures, procedures to reduce heat exposure, and required viewing of harm reduction messages before entering the festival).”

“These interventions might help prevent adverse health events at future electronic dance-music festivals in New York City and elsewhere,” the CDC states.

Shane’s brother Forrest has an email where you can send memories and pictures of Shane,

A celebration of Shane’s life will be held at 1 p.m. at Olalla Bible Church, followed by a gathering open to all at the Zimmardi home, 11132 Banner Rd SE Olalla, WA 98359.

Port Orchard cleans up

A sure sign of spring is the annual Port Orchard downtown clean-up, hosted by the Port Orchard Bay Street Association.

This year’s cleanup was April 26. About 30 people, including Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes and City Councilwoman Bek Ashby, showed up to lend a hand, said Kathleen Wilson of POBSA. Volunteers swept and tidied, and planted flowers in the stone planters. Rico’s Landscape NW helped by removing small trees from the planters that had overstayed their welcome, becoming large and unkempt.

Hanging baskets, paid for by POBSA, will arrive next week, Wilson said.

Wilson on Tuesday thanked the city of Port Orchard Public Works Department for pressure washing the sidewalks before the cleanup.

It was, as they say, a group effort.

Here’s a gallery of photos from Nick and Elissa Whittleton that were posted on POBSA’s Facebook page. Port Orchard, aren’t we looking spiffy now?
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Another Kitsap crew runs in Boston

BostonCompactOn Monday 19 of our ambitious, dedicated and skilled friends will run the Boston Marathon. Bib No. 18775 is a friend of ours. Who you see here as Luz M. Rodriguez is someone my wife, Diana, and I know as Marcela.

We met Silverdale’s Marcela when she and Diana were teammates in a relay that runs essentially from the Canadian border in Blaine to somewhere on Whidbey Island. Those relays are a tough haul. Diana had to run two extra miles when she missed a turn. Marcela herself wasn’t sure she could tough out the last of three legs each runner agrees to run, but she did it, making it look like it was easy. Diana has since run the Portland Marathon and from what I can tell is not eager to run another one.

Marcela, on the other hand, set her sights on Boston some time ago. We’ve celebrated her progress. And since Boston is something you have to qualify for, we’ve been especially proud of her work. So has her home country of Chile. Marcela comes from the southern quarter of that country and on Friday was featured in her hometown paper. At the end of the story she’s telling anyone that if they want to, they should go after a goal like this one, repeating the Spanish version of the common English saying, “If I can do it, anyone can.”

The view from Chile of Silverdale's Luz Marcella Rodriguez.
The view from Chile of Silverdale’s Luz Marcela Rodriguez.

While I don’t agree that anyone can qualify for Boston, if it’s not a marathon that’s in your dreams, there is something. And in that sense, Marcela is right. If she can achieve this dream, you can achieve yours. I have a few things I dream of accomplishing, and finishing a marathon is one of them. Aside from the fact that it’s hard for anyone (Well, a few people make it look pretty easy.) to run 26.2 miles, for me to do it would prove that I had accomplished so much more. If you’ve met me, you know what I’m talking about. Any marathon would be my Boston.

So maybe that’s the question. What is your Boston?

Good look to all our Kitsap runners. Thanks for inspiring us to pursue our Bostons.

Note from Esteef: I tidied this thing up quite a bit since its initial publication.  I normally give these things at least another read or two before hitting the “publish” button, but it was late on Friday and I spent most of the week coughing, so I was tired and ready to go home. Had I read it at least one more time I might have noticed a few things that needed changing, including the fact that I misspelled Marcela’s name throughout. I also forgot to mention that of all the Spanish or Portuguese-speaking nations in the world, Chile is the best. It’s not even a close contest. Some of it is the dramatic variety in the nation’s landscape, going from the driest climate on Earth to a point where the next neighbor to the south is a penguin. It’s also got great beaches, mountains and enough earthquakes to satisfy even the thirstiest of thrill seekers. I hear the wine is quite good. The shellfish is excellent and plentiful , Chileans have perfected the art of dressing up a hot dog and the empenadas should be part of every death row inmate’s last meal as a testament to our compassion for even the most vile among us. The best parts of Chile are probably the Chileans, except for the one in charge when I lived down there. He was a jerk.

Anyway, all this to say that most American of explanations, “Mistakes were made.” 


UW researchers say schools’ pot policies matter more since legalization

Suspending kids from school for using pot is not an effective deterrent, in fact it can lead to more — not less — use, according to a study by researchers at the University of Washington and in Australia.

Counseling and promotion of an abstinence message in schools were found to be much more effective, according to an article about the study that was published March 19 in the American Journal of Public Health.

The study, conducted in 2002 and 2003, compared drug policies at schools in Washington State and Victoria, Australia, to determine how they impacted student marijuana use.

The researchers were initially most interested in teens’ use of alcohol and cigarettes, according to a news release about the article from the University of Washington. But after Washington legalized recreational marijuana use for adults in 2012, researchers decided to reexamine the data to see how legalization might influence students in Washington versus their counterparts in Australia, where pot remains illegal, said Deborah Bach, a social science writer at the UW.

They found students attending schools with suspension policies for illicit drug use were 1.6 times more likely than their peers at schools without such policies to use marijuana in the next year. That was true for the whole student body, not just those who were suspended.

“That was surprising to us,” said co-author Richard Catalano, professor of social work and co-founder of the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work. “It means that suspensions are certainly not having a deterrent effect. It’s just the opposite.”

This echoes reporting we did in the Kitsap Sun about student discipline in general, in which educators and child advocates from many corners said suspension and expulsion are ineffective at reversing undesirable behavior.

Conversely, in schools with policies of referring pot-using students to a school counselor, students were almost 50 percent less likely to use marijuana.

Washington and Victoria, Australia were chosen for the study since they are similar in size and demographics, but differ considerably in their approaches to drug use among students. Washington schools, at least at the time of the study, were more likely to suspend students, call police or require offenders to attend education or cessation programs, the researchers noted, while Victoria schools emphasize “a harm-reduction approach that favors counseling.”

Researchers surveyed more than 3,200 seventh- and ninth-graders in both 2002 and 2003 about their use of marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes and also about their schools’ drug policies and enforcement. Nearly 200 school administrators were also surveyed. In both survey years, pot use was higher among the Washington students. Almost 12 percent of Washington ninth-graders had used marijuana in the past month, compared with just over 9 percent of Victoria ninth-graders, for example.

Tracy Evans-Whipp, the study’s lead author, said although the research predated Washington’s legalization, the findings show what types of school policies are most effective in discouraging teens’ use of the drug.

The study also showed “a consistent link” between increased acccess to marijuana and higher rates of self-reported use by adolescents, Bach notes.

“To reduce marijuana use among all students, we need to ensure that schools are using drug policies that respond to policy violations by educating or counseling students, not just penalizing them,” Catalano said.

Others involved in the research are are Todd Herrenkohl at the UW, Stephanie Plenty at the Centre for Health Equity Studies in Sweden and John Toumbourou at Deakin University in Australia.

Chros Henry, Kitsap Sun education reporter

NYT article focuses on Port Orchard man

Several people on Facebook have mentioned a New York Times article about Doug Whitney, a Port Orchard man who has a gene mutation that (in most people) causes early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Whitney, 65, has yet to show symptoms, and researchers are trying to figure out why.

Whitney’s mother and nine of her siblings, as well as Whitney’s older brother died of the disease. All began showing symptoms in their 40s.

“So Mr. Whitney has become Exhibit A in a new direction in genetics research. After years of looking for mutations that cause diseases, investigators are now searching for those that prevent them,” the article states.

The idea of beneficial gene mutations is getting plenty of attention from the scientific community.

Two Seattle researchers have started “The Resilience Project,” drawing on large databases to find people, like Whitney, who seem to have protective genes. They found Whitney after contacting Washington University (in St. Louis), where a study is under way of families with a gene, presenilin, that causes early Alzheimer’s. Whitney joined the study in 2011.

Whitney deferred getting tested for the Alzheimer’s causing gene until he turned 62. Other researchers have contacted him, as well, and Whitney, for his part, is happy to contribute to advancing knowledge of Alzheimer’s, the article states.

So, question for readers: If, based on the medical history of family members, you knew you might have a disease-causing genetic mutation, would you get tested and when?

Tell your story

Click to see a larger version.
Click to see a larger version.

Might I suggest an activity for you on Thursday?

Come tell your story. Or just come and listen to others tell theirs at Story Night in Manette.

The event starts at 7 p.m. and we have to be out of there by about 9 p.m. because Karaoke takes over the Manette Saloon.

If you wish to tell a story, here are the basic rules. Stories must be:

  • True
  • Less than five minutes long
  • Within the night’s theme: “Schooled”

We have an event page and a regular page on Facebook. And I’ve got a website,, that explains why I’m doing this. Here are a few paragraphs to give you a taste:

“I’ve been telling people for years that it’s probably one of the earliest forms of entertainment in the history of humans. Secondly, if the conspiracy theorists are correct and one day all the power shuts down, then much of our entertainment will be what we can do in person, like sing or dance. Storytelling will also be a big part of the mix.

“Storytelling events also connect us to people we might not otherwise know. We hear their stories and our beliefs about issues, lifestyles and life’s triumphs and mistakes becomes something human. If we’re not careful, storytelling makes us empathetic.

“Finally, it’s fun. You shouldn’t miss it.”

In 1999 or 2000 I attended a storytelling festival in Provo, Utah. That’s probably the first place I had ever become interested in the activity, though I always enjoyed public speaking. I know. I’m weird that way. I get scared, but I love it.

There are not that many opportunities for on-stage storytelling, so over the years I worked on improving my storytelling in my reporting. I also listened to shows that offer excellent examples, such as “This American Life” and “The Tobolowsky Files.” And then I heard The Moth, which is when I became interested in hosting an event. Angela Dice, a former reporter here, and I talked about it for years, but didn’t quite feel confident or disposed with a lot of time to get one going.

Then a few months ago Josh Farley, a fellow reporter who runs the outstanding Kitsap Quiz Night, asked me what I needed to get started. Turns out what I really needed was to have him ask me that question. He introduced me to Rebecca Dove Taylor at the Manette Saloon and we eventually set a date. Since then, it’s gone from slow simmer to full on burn as far as planning. And now the event is upon us.

The official jewelry of Story Night in Manette.
The official jewelry of Story Night in Manette.

A couple weeks ago I finally got to attend a Story Slam in Seattle put on by The Moth. And last week I participated in another Story Slam on Bainbridge Island put on by Field’s End. My message to you? You’ll do fine. Come tell your story. On the Facebook page and on the website are some tips to help you prepare to tell your story if you choose to give one. The winning storyteller on Thursday walks away with the fine jewelry you see pictured here. And I plan on bringing other prizes. I’m still working on those details.

The biggest prize, however, is just whatever you get out of being there. If you speak you get that experience. If you don’t, you get the thrill of hearing others and sharing a night with friends. I’ve been to a few of these and I’ve never been to one that wasn’t fun. And hey, even if you don’t tell a story, you could win a prize! You’ll find out about that on Thursday.

Sharing Silverdale’s history in photographs

Read about the history of Silverdale in a recently published book by the Kitsap County Historical Society.
Read about the history of Silverdale in a recently published book by the Kitsap County Historical Society.

The Kitsap County Historical Society published its third book in three years earlier this month. “Silverdale” is the second book in the historical society’s “Images of America” series.

The 128-page book, which took more than a year to complete, features hundreds of photographs of historic Silverdale and its development on the shores of Dyes Inlet from 1857 through the 1980s.

Readers can flip through the pages to see aerials of Silverdale from the 1930s and 1946, showing the growth and change because of World War II. The book also features photographs of Bucklin Hill Road as a narrow dirt road, as well as Silverdale families throughout history.

The first book of the “Images of America” series — “Port Orchard” — was published two years ago, along with the third edition of “Kitsap County, A History: A Story of Kitsap County and Its Pioneers” that was originally published in 1977.

While the historical society would like to publish a book about Bremerton some day, writer Claudia Hunt is ready for a break.

“We’re exhausted,” said Hunt, a historical society board of trustee. Hunt, along with her brother, Randy Hunt, and Carolyn Neal wrote “Silverdale”. The Hunt siblings also wrote “Port Orchard”.

All three books can be bought through Kitsap County Historical Society, on Amazon or local bookstores.

Nothing like living over the water

FRAGARIA — I caught a ratfish from my deck. Its big green eyes, large spines and gaping mouth were right out of a nightmare movie. Cut the line and let it plop back into Colvos Passage. Thirty years later, it might still be out there.
I’ll never forget that creepy creature, or much else about living on pilings over Puget Sound. It was the coolest place I’ve ever called home.
Shortly after graduating from college, we found the beach place in the want ads. Three hundred dollars a month. That was a fortune in 1980.
The road wound steeply down a hill, nothing keeping a wayward driver from tumbling into the creek canyon. At the bottom, a skinny dirt driveway slipped between a cliff and row of old cabins on pilings. Ours was third from the end, a white 1 1 1/2 story built in 1940.
Dark-stained knotty pine adorned the walls, broken up by a huge, river-rock fireplace. Single-pane windows exposed the water. On nice days, a tiny Space Needle could be spotted. Binoculars recommended.
Pull-down stairs led to an open second floor where a guy had died during a wild drug party. We were scared of his ghost — though the landlord said he was friendly — and didn’t go up there much. I did haul a Volkswagen engine up piece by piece and rebuilt it, then couldn’t get it back down the ladder.
During high tide, four or five feet of water rose under the deck. I’d cast a line, imagining beautiful cutthroat trout (you could keep them then) and salmon like my neighbors showed off, but caught nothing but dogfish. It was still fun reeling them in. Get offa my hook.
Huge perch lounged under the planks. I could hit them in the head with bait and they still wouldn’t bite. Not that I really wanted to hook one, but they could have at least paid me some mind.
Otters floated past on their backs, cracking clams on their bellies. Seals ducked below the surface, popping up hundreds of feet away.
Sound slid across the water like a shuffleboard. Ships were heard before seen. In the fog, they weren’t visible at all, just horns in the haze.
Once in a while, a black submarine cruised past, probably to an old sonar range off of Fox Island. Light-green Canadian warships were another rare treat. There were always boats of some sort, from brightly colored sailboats racing around the island to monstrous freighters steaming for Tacoma.
It wasn’t always tranquil. Storm waves slammed logs against the 40-year-old pilings, rattling the house and preventing sleep. The water was icy, racing in our out and never stopping long enough to warm up. Rainstorms pummeled the cliff. Once, mud slid across the road and knocked a cabin into the bay. We were long gone by then, fortunately. Would’ve been blocked in for days.
I’d go back in a second. Not only are they not making more waterfront, they’re not building more houses on piers over it. Let me know if you find one. I’d like to retire there.
— Ed Friedrich

Anthem rendition a kick in the brass

The Bremerton High School Brass Band gave a rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the school board meeting on Jan. 16.