2018 Senate Primary in Washington State

Pensacola Ballot Box

Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans via Wikimedia Commons.

For voters from Washington State, perhaps the most contested race on the Primary ballot this year is that for US Senate. Indeed, for me, it was the last item that I decided on when preparing to mail in my ballot from Poland (those who mail in absentee have to make their decisions much more earlier than those still in the States, hence the reason for making this analysis that I’m sharing here in my blog this early).

The smart money betting on the race says that the two contenders who might still be running after the Aug. 7 primary will be incumbent Maria Cantwell (Democrat), and former KIRO-TV news anchor Susan Hutchison (Republican). Of the two, Hutchison is clearly the greater danger: she has without apology expressed her support of President Donald Trump both in defense of his character (i.e., her rationalization of the Hollywood Access tape: “He was a Democrat at the time”), and in defense of his agenda (i.e., supporting the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court). Also being a renowned philanthropist (despite her finding common cause with Trump, reportedly an unabashed con artist when it comes to charitable causes), she also has the popularity among statewide conservatives needed to actually generate enough support to win.

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Influencing Murkowski, The Last Word’s “how not to” guide


Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, photo courtesy of the US Senate via Wikimedia Commons

I have good memories of Lisa Murkowski. I didn’t know her in my time in Alaska, I only knew of her. She was a strong ally of the University in its annual effort to retain full funding of its budget requests, and was a moderating “adult” voice in the state legislature in discussion of just about any political cause. When she was later appointed by her father as U.S. Senator after his election to the governor’s mansion, it was no surprise to me that she would prove to be a rare counter-example against the argument that all nepotism is bad.

For the next few weeks, she will be one of the most important people in the country as the conservative activist judge Brett Kavanaugh goes under consideration for Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. She is one of two senators who might conceivably turn against the nomination and vote him down.

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Karma policing – is it time?


“The tradition has been in every new administration to set aside past allegations of criminal behavior by the previous administration, whether it was torture that was illegal, or the Iran-Contra case, it has been set aside. Donald Trump is setting up bad karma for himself and the people around him, because one day there will be a Democratic administration, and the constraints against investigating criminal behavior by the previous administration, absent any compelling reason, will be gone. And it will be thanks to him.”

-Joe Conason, author of The Hunting of the President (during an AM Joy segment:
DOJ investigating Clinton emails, Clinton foundation)


Scott_Adams Tricia

Scott Adams, cartoonist and author of “The Dilbert Future”, delivering his keynote address at the Special Libraries Association (SLA) Conference in Denver on June 6, 2007. Photo by Tricia via Wikimedia Commons

Years ago in the late 1990s, I bought one of Scott Adams’ books, “The Dilbert Future”. I’d long been a Dilbert fan and the cartoon strip’s cynical view of office life, in part because the problems that Adams lampooned were often ubiquitous, and even more often ignored by people who went into management. At times, the engineering side of me would look at these problems and try to imagine solutions. Too much of the time, the solutions failed, but the resulting analysis of them could be almost as amusing as Adams’ original work.

“The Dilbert Future” certainly entertained me, but his usual material about mismanagement that he expounded upon in his narrative wasn’t the most memorable thing that I recall about the book. No, the part I recall about the book came at the end. In his final passage, he advised his readers that he was a firm believer in the use of affirmations to achieve goals. He promised that if you wrote down your goal 15 times a day, and visualizing achieving it, you would see your goal achieved as if by magic. For a cynical cartoonist, this seemed, well, unexpected.

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Coed Scouting comes to America

DSCN7183On Wednesday, Oct. 11, the Boy Scouts of America announced plans to become a coeducational scouting organization, following in the footsteps of many national scouting organizations worldwide. Admittedly, there are some flaws in the plan, the most glaring of which was that it appeared to be wholly uncoordinated with the Girl Scouts of America (indeed, it almost seemed to be something of a hostile takeover of their mission to teach girls to become better citizens). But the goal of including girls in the BSA organization still seems to me worthy of applause.

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From widget-making to automation

I’ve promised myself that I would write for the longest time, and it seems that one distraction leads to another. Then months pass. So, now that I have a natural break in submitting resumes and doing other projects, I find myself thinking about the future.

I guess the inspiration for these thoughts comes from my attempt to jump start my job hunt. As I review my qualifications in search of the perfect position, I think back to my most substantial employment success. This was a position as Management Representative in the Philippines. The specifics of the position were to carry through a project to raise a 150-person office to readiness for ISO certification for quality, environmental, and occupational health and safety management.

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The author in Bataan in early November 2007. Selfie.

I have to admit that this job was more enjoyable than I had anticipated. Everything boiled down to getting people to write down what they did, and then defining how to measure their performance against what they said that they did.  It all made sense, reducing everything down to inputs, processes, products, and target “customers”, both internal and external. Not everything could be boiled down to this sort of “widget making”, but a lot could.

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In remembrance of a grandfather


Grandpa Ben in his last in-person visit with Little Ben and Albina in Gig Harbor, Washington, on July 23, 2016. Photo by Ben M. Angel

In many countries outside the United States, July 4 appears indistinguishable from any other day. There are a few countries that mark national celebrations on or near this day: Canada has its celebration of what amounts to its effective separation from Britain on July 1, and Belarus celebrates its “independence” from Nazi Germany on July 3 (the day in 1945 when the Soviet Army evicted the Wehrmacht from Minsk). In Poland, July 4 is merely the day that follows July 3, and comes before July 5. Still, I try to remember the day, anyway.

This year, though, the day would prove to be eventful, and not in a way I would have wanted it to be. As I recall it, my wife had suggested that we take the kids for a walk to explore areas of our neighborhood she wasn’t that familiar with, specifically the little park near the Orla tram stop. It’s not a particularly scenic spot in southern Wroclaw, but it isn’t that bad of a place to set a destination. But before we went, I had wanted to get the kids together to send off Independence Day greetings to their grandparents in the States.

When I got to the computer, I saw that my mother had beaten me to the punch. She had sent a greeting already, but then a few minutes later, she had sent a second message that I should call her. I thought nothing of this, figuring that she wanted to see her grandkids. So, we all got together and made a Skype call to her.

When we got through, my mother answered. We blurted out our Happy Independence Day greeting before I noticed that she was barely holding herself together. She smiled and wished my wife and kids and I the same, but then asked if she could speak with me alone. Marina immediately herded the kids to the bedroom to give us some privacy.

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Family Histories of the First Ten Eagle Scouts of BSA Troop 401 Chief Seattle Council (Auburn, Washington)


A pair of American bald eagles near their nest on Unalaska Island in the Aleutians. The bald eagle was chosen to adorn the Great Seal of the United States on June 20, 1782. The Eagle Scout award, in emulation of this selection, was approved as the highest award in Scouting in August 1911. The first Eagle Scout, Arthur Rose Eldred of Long Island, New York, was awarded this honor about a year later. Seventeen years after that, Troop 401’s first Eagle Scout was likewise honored. Photo by Ben M. Angel.

Auburn, Washington, in 1923 appeared in writing to be no more than a simple railroad junction. Sitting in the middle of some of King County’s most valued farmlands, the town was serviced by both steam train and an electric interurban railway, the latter of which faced imminent closure with the expansion of automobile roads in between Seattle and Tacoma. About 6 years later, the opening of Highway 99 provided officials the excuse the authorities needed to shut down the electric trains, and shut off the deadly third rail that frequently electrified stray cattle and careless track-crossers.

That was also the year that the Boy Scouts of America expanded into South King County. In 1923, Troop 401 held its first meeting, bringing together a group of boys that would immediately and enthusiastically begin pursuing merit badges and earning rank on their way to the coveted Eagle Scout badge, the highest honor bestowed on a Boy Scout.

When I was in the troop, I would see at the few Eagle Courts of Honors we had at the time the list of those boys who had earned the rank before whoever was the current honoree. It was fascinating for us to look over the list, and wonder why there was this big break for something like a (baker’s) dozen years spanning the 1950s when no one in our troop earned their Eagle Scout. No matter the actual answer to this question, this period did effectively divide the first ten Eagle Scouts of our troop from those that came afterward.

Next year, in 2018, the troop will be celebrating its 95th anniversary as one of the pioneer units of Scouting in Washington State. Additionally, as of January 2017, the troop has already produced some 96 Eagle Scouts, and it’s very likely that the troop will soon produce its 100th before too long. It seemed to me that it was time that there be some remembrance of the first among our troop who achieved Boy Scouts greatest achievement.

Unfortunately, being in western Poland, I couldn’t delve very extensively into the actual thoughts and efforts of the first ten Eagle Scouts of Troop 401 while achieving their awards. Indeed, out of all of the first ten, only two are still alive as of this writing (one in Tacoma, Washington, and the other in Pasadena, California). So, instead, I chose to study what I could of their family histories for insights, and now I want to share a little of where their families came from, and how their family might have helped shape the success stories that belong to them. Perhaps this will someday contribute to a more authoritative work on this part of the history of South King County Scouting.

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