The first story I wrote subject to the new Kitsap Sun paywall was one about how the Central Kitsap School District has encouraged adults to act as mentors to students. These are typically students who are probably doing OK, but could use one more caring adult. The hope is that a weekly visit with an adult helps a child have a better sense of self. And district officials say studies show students who feel better about themselves perform better in school.
Before doing this story on a student at North Kitsap High School, I had met parents of children with Asperger’s Syndrome. Diana and I watched Parenthood for a while and I had met children who had been diagnosed with some form of autism. I’m not sure, though, that I had ever carried on a conversation with someone who actually had Asperger’s.
I’m glad that every once in a while we get to do a story on someone who is breaking through limitations. It’s not that there are not still some, but there is every reason to believe Justin can have a completely satisfying life.
Washington (the state) will have three legislative races this November. Two of them will be in districts that could very well have a Republican running against Republican in the final race. Not here.
The 26th Legislative District Senate race here will likely have in November the appointed incumbent Democrat, who performed reasonably well in Olympia this last session, running against a Republican who has run in five different campaigns and won every one. Two of them were for county commissioner. The last three put her in the state House of Representatives.
Democrats have a three-seat majority in the state Senate, but two Democrats bolted (without changing party affiliation) to create a one-seat majority, so the political split in that chamber is close. A loss by the Democrats of that one seat would still leave more Democrats than Republicans in the chamber, but Republicans would have a bigger de facto majority.
The bottom line is this is an important race here, and it’s the only one either party has to focus on.
I started our coverage by doing a story looking at the success rate of appointed incumbents and looking specifically at where they have failed. I’m kind of proud of this story, because it took significant research and work with a spreadsheet to find recent political history from which to draw parallels. It makes me excited to dive into this race even further as time marches to November.
The times have conspired to have me posting three items in two days. It could have happened all in one, but I’m going to space it a bit. The first one is about a development in our industry, specifically my newspaper. The second two are related to stories I wrote for that same newspaper.
The Kitsap Sun is joining much of the print media and beginning to charge for subscriptions. I think this is a great move and would almost be willing to say it is so whether it ends up being successful or not.
I’m one of those who believes that what newspapers offer is a far, far better product than what you get with random blogs, because we do hold ourselves to standards they don’t. I think our product is worth paying for. Readers can, and have, criticized our pricing ($10/month) and how we’re rolling it out, and those are arguments worth having.
Others argue the product is not worth paying for. For them that may be true. But here is the reality. We never captured every single customer we could until we started offering it for free. We tried that in hopes that advertising would make up for what we lost. We were trying to do what TV does. You pay for a cable-TV subscription, but that only became the norm about 30-some years ago. It used to be you stuck rabbit ears on the television and the news and other programming came to your house for free, unless you consider having to sit through commercials payment. I do. If you’re watching live television you pay by sitting through ads. For the vast majority of television programming, we don’t have to. We can watch almost every show later online via Hulu, Amazon Prime or Netflix and cable television “on-demand” programming. Only sports and breaking news have added value by watching them live, and DVRs have altered people’s viewing habits on those, too.
Many of the commenters say they’ll go to the local TV stations to watch and comment on news. I do not know how that business model is working for TV networks. It may be that they will be able to do it this way for a long time. If so, I bless them with our former readers. Those readers won’t get the depth about our area that we offer. People got excited because TV crews came to our area to cover school closure conversations, but I will put what I contributed against their coverage any day. There were no TV crews at the other district’s interviews and selections of superintendent or school board member. And one of the stories I will post about later will go ignored by television until Robert Mak maybe does a single show on the race. TV does fine work. I think much of what they did revealing problems with the ferry system here was excellent investigative work. For me to suggest that the Seattle stations cannot offer the depth we do makes me feel like the self-promoters they have no problem being. But I’m right. They’ll come over when someone’s yelling at someone or when there are big crime issues, but they go away long before we’ve finished telling the story. They are great at breaking stuff, not so good at finishing stories.
Finally, even if it doesn’t work, I am glad we’re doing it. I think it should be the standard, so I’m hoping this new reality is here for a long time. That might be wishful thinking, because these days reality changes in seconds, not years.
This food intake is according to a healthy diet plan, because today is “cheat day,” or maybe I should call it “treat day,” or “free day.” Whatever I call it, on most weeks Saturday will be the day I can shed all pretense of trying to eat healthy and cheat on the diet, treat myself to everything yummy and feel free to pack on the carbohydrates.
For those of you who saw the last post and didn’t make it down on the Facebook thread to see my decision, I have decided to postpone weight-loss surgery. This comes because I never stopped believing what I believed all along, that if I could lose the weight without surgery I would prefer it. Over the past nearly six weeks I have made tremendous progress in my quest to be at a healthy weight.
In the last post I guessed I would see a 20-pound weight loss when I went to Swedish. I was off by 7 pounds. I shed 27. I’ve lost more since. The dietician at Swedish Medical Center was astounded at the number. Then we got into a conversation, led by me after she asked a question about preparing for surgery, about whether to have the surgery at all. She called in the surgeon. They were supportive. I’m pretty sure they would have preferred I had gone ahead and had the surgery. They laid out the statistics that there is not any data to support the idea that people who go on diets have any long-term success. But the doctor said that if I can be the “one in 20″ he would be happy for me. Then he said if I come to a decision later to go ahead and have the surgery to get on track quickly.
Once I hit 370 again, where I bottomed out my last weigh in before deciding to have surgery, I’ll post all the numbers, including how high I climbed. Suffice to say I was heavier than when I started in October 2011. From that start point to the day in August 2012 I hit 370, I lost 34 pounds.
In the past six weeks I’ve already lost more than that. I’m down 36.6 pounds since March 27.
The pace is likely to decrease, but I have yet to have a serious temptation to stray from plan. That is more important than the day-to-day number. I’m also exercising more. The real reason this works, as I said before, is the notion of giving up some foods forever creates tangible fright and stress for me. To turn those things down until Saturday is little problem.
Speaking of Saturday, a Dr Pepper sounds good right about now.
There were a lot of reasons to avoid weight loss surgery in the past. The safety of the procedure was unknown, the long-term effectiveness was in doubt. Those two things have been answered to my satisfaction. I could have the surgery and it would be safe and would work. My life would be better.
One of the other big reasons I had for avoiding it before, though, was the idea that since weight loss surgery requires a lifestyle change to work, why couldn’t I just change my lifestyle and get the same result? Surgery is no magic pill.
Then I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t do it without surgery. I made the decision that I wanted it, that the reduced stomach size would help where will power hadn’t been helpful before. In December I went to a seminar at Swedish Medical Center to start the process. The real work began in January.
The biggest issue for me with diets in the past, though, has been the exclusion or drastic reduction in foods that I love. It creates a scarcity mindset. I get stressed and the first thing I turn to is the thing I can’t have. Even on Weight Watchers you can pretty much eat whatever you want, just in reduced portions.
That scarcity mindset attacked as I knew weight loss surgery was coming. My trips to fast food restaurants become dramatically more frequent. I ballooned, exactly the wrong result for the folks at Swedish. To their credit, they want to make sure someone will succeed with surgery. They’re not there to just take my money for their service.
So about a month ago I had another visit with them where my weight had gone up dramatically. Everything was in place for them to submit my surgery to my insurance for final approval, but they wouldn’t do it. They wanted me to show them that I could stick to a plan.
You see the irony, right? To qualify for weight loss surgery I’ve got to demonstrate an ability to do something I’ve never been able to do.
I went home determined to pull it off. Since that visit I’ve been great, for the most part. I’ll get to the exception in a bit. The post surgery diet is essentially a higher protein and lower carb regimen. Bread and rice would be a rarity. Forget soda. I started on that routine the day I left the hospital my last visit and, with a notable exception, have stuck to it.
Here is where the exception comes in. Reading the story of a friend of mine, the second weekend after I started I incorporated a “cheat day.” On Saturday, I decided, I could treat myself. Chips, soda, bread, pizza are all available to me. I tried it one week and it was almost miraculous. I ate what I wanted on Saturday and on Sunday I was perfectly content to go back to the plan. As my friend said in one of his posts, the idea of never having a certain food again is painful, but waiting until Saturday is doable. It’s almost easy. So at work I skip the chips that are so plentiful and the wonderful baked goods fellow workmates bring in. My friend who has done this has lost 78 pounds in six months. I weigh in tomorrow. I’m guessing I’ve lost close to 20 pounds this past month.
I’m day two into another week of waiting until Saturday for goodies and I am content. I feel like I’m in a space where I could live this way the rest of my life. I may have said something like that in the past, but I never felt it this strongly. This is working.
So tomorrow I go back to Swedish, I’ll get weighed in and I’m sure they’ll be pretty encouraged by the results, perhaps enough to submit me for approval. And I might say I don’t want it anymore.
Should that happen, this whole effort with them hasn’t been wasted. The lab work I had to get done revealed some things that we fixed with medication. I feel so much better.
When I first mentioned weight loss surgery in the past I received mixed responses. If you have strong feelings about this, I’d be glad to hear from you again. I make my own call here, but you might know something that is worth sharing. Feel free to tell me here, on Facebook, an email, or call me. I’m not “all” ears, but I am open to ideas.
For a while, anyway, I plan to post more of my day job stuff here, in part so this sight isn’t just filled with tales of losing weight. Those will be here, too, probably in more quantities in the future.
The day job stories I’ll post are those that I think merit at least a little special attention. You won’t get general school board news. This story is about two students from Kitsap County who qualified as semifinalists for the Presidential Scholar program. The county typically has two or three candidates every year, but in the decade before this year there were only two semifinalists, one of whom won the award and was a student at an art school in Michigan. To get two semifinalists in the same year is pretty noteworthy. They’re competing with nine other students for what will probably be two spots, but this is a case where it really is just an honor to be nominated.
The award means a trip to DC, with a chance to meet the president. You can read Two Kitsap students candidates for national honor where my day job stuff gets published.
The video that goes with this story held a particular challenge in that the audio device I was using didn’t have enough room to record the entire conversation that I wanted. The problem was big enough that I considered scrapping the video element of the overall project. Later that evening, though, during a North Kitsap School Board meeting, it came to me how to solve the problem I knew I had. Onarheim’s interview still isn’t as crisp in sound as I would like, but I think overall the video comes as close to telling as complete a story as the written piece as I’ve ever come.
The story is pretty cool, but this might be the worst video I’ve ever done. Really it was only about the lighting. Had the lights been up that shot of Ali Templeton leaping to her father would have been money.
It’s a story about another surprise military homecoming. Since 2002, probably, we’ve seen these early reunions a million times. I acknowledge as much in the story. And it doesn’t seem to get old for the ones involved.
“Children clutched their arms around the shoulders and necks of their dads, showing what eight months apart looks like when it’s over.”
At the Kitsap Sun we contacted as many local Boston Marathon runners as we could to let people know how they were. We had 20, and we verified the condition of all but a few. They were all OK.
One story I didn’t get to tell was of Eileen Glenn and her husband, Lee. Eileen stepped across the finish line minutes before the bombs exploded. Lee was over among the crowds. Kevan Moore at the Central Kitsap Reporter described it well in his story from the event the next day.
The Silverdale run was to show resolve that terror like what happened at Boston wouldn’t stop runners from doing what they love to do, putting one foot in front of the other and just going, sometimes really fast.
One reason I didn’t get Eileen and Lee Glenn’s story is because Diana and I know them, and more so Eileen’s daughter Renee Partsch. In general I don’t want to write in the newspaper about people I know are my friends. In hindsight I know I could have handled it in a way where I wasn’t directly involved and we still would have had the story. There were three bylines on the original piece. I think I have an idea for how to make it right.
This touches on me personally, too. This is a group, runners, I would love to be part of, something I have yet to accomplish because of my weight challenge. As of this moment I’m making good momentum again, so I intend to run in one of these one day, not just shoot video and write about it. Secondly, Diana is a part of this group. She would have done this run except that the kids needed rides and I was covering it. These are her friends. In fact, after I interviewed Amanda Rodgers for the story she told me she knew Diana.
These are the same people who showed up in force, not knowing me at all, to support me and cheer me on when I first went public with the weight challenge I was undertaking. I was overwhelmed generally with all the support, but especially from these guys.
Here is the video from the run the day after. I was genuinely inspired.