Danny Westneat

Restless in retirement? You don’t have to be.

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A guy who made city’s unused toilet paper a precious gift | Local News | The Seattle Times.

Office worker overworkedThose of us working the 9 to 5 work day drudgery can’t imagine having any difficulty filling our days with whatever the heck we want to do once once we’ve walked off our career path and onto the retirement treadmill.  To be sure, the first several months – perhaps even the first couple years – we’ll readily manage the forty free hours a week now available to us post-employment.

Retired man reading newspaperBut what about the point in time when we wake up in the morning, complete our morning rituals, sit in our easy chair and find ourselves thinking, “Now what?”  Those of us who barely have enough time in the day to organize our thoughts can’t imagine ever being restless, but chances are, each and every one of us will be well-acquainted with that feeling at some point in our retirement future.

So what’s a person to do?  Go back to the grind just so we have something to do that removes the boredom from our lives?  Hell no.  What we can do, however, is take on a project that satisfies our need to be useful and productive, but also satisfies the needs of those hidden citizens in our community whose needs far outweigh their means.

Toilet Paper GuyThat’s what Leon Delong did when he got restless.  He became aware of a pattern of waste that was going on in office buildings all over the city of Seattle: at night, janitorial crews replaced partial rolls of toilet paper with full rolls so that the nether regions of the next day’s workforce would have plenty of the stuff to take care of their toileting needs.  Perfectly good partial rolls went unused – and worse – were thrown away.  Thanks to the Toilet Paper Guy, however, these perfectly usable rolls were donated to food banks all over the greater Seattle area.

When you read the above, did you think, Big deal, it’s just toilet paper; it’s not like the food bank customers were offered a filet mignon to take home to their families.  Hold onto that thought for a moment and think back to an incident where you scrambled for some sort of “cleaning implement” to finalize your stay on the commode.  As the above article’s writer, Danny Westneat, stated, “I know it’s just TP.  But as someone who once substituted coffee filters in an emergency, I can attest: It’s like gold when you don’t have it.”

When you become restless in your retirement years, who will you become?

  • The Perfectly Usable But Discarded Produce Lady?
  • The Overstocked Slightly Irregular Chartreuse & Hot Pink Striped Bedsheets Guy?
  • The Unsellable Dented Canned Good Lady?
  • The Super-sized Box of Costco Bandaids Person?
  • The You Fill in the Blank Guy?

The possibilities are endless because there is no shortage of need in your community.  Visit a food bank or homeless shelter and ask them what is their greatest need; the product that is most in demand.  Then go about defining a way to meet that need.  Come on, you have all the time in the world to do so and still have plenty of time to enjoy your own leisurely retirement activities.

“So take it from the Toilet Paper Guy.  Life is like a toilet-paper roll.  What you do with what you’ve got left is up to you.”




Same sex marriage: we don’t have to agree

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Fanaticism on both sides of gay-rights issue | Local News | The Seattle Times.  by Danny Westneat  Please read the attached article if you have not already done so.

A friend from college found me through Facebook the other day and we’ve spent a couple days catching up with each other via e-mail because it has been decades since we’ve communicated with each other.  I told Angie about my work with the elder-care community and I also mentioned that I’m a contributing writer for Grandparents Day Magazine (an Australian online publication), I have my own blog, and I’m writing my first novel.  “Irene, did you major in English at the University?”  “Nope, I majored in French.  I write not because I’m an exceptional writer, but because I have something to say.”

As is the case today.

Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times wrote another brilliant column in such a way as to make you say, “Hmmmm.”  What I mean is that at least for me, he opened my eyes as to how demanding some of our opinions can be.  For example:

Whether you support same-sex marriage or you don’t, you have the right to say how you feel about it.

Six years ago, Mozilla CEO, Brendan Eich contributed financially to Proposition 8 in California – a proposition that opposed gay marriage.  It was discovered that he had done so, and the newly installed CEO was immediately ousted.  He had, however, been with the company since the 1990s, and as Danny Westneat pointed out, “There was no evidence his views against legalizing gay marriage had any effect on his various jobs at the company, including his treatment of gay co-workers.”

Putting a more local perspective on this same subject, Washington State’s 2012 Referendum 74 that would allow same-sex marriage in our state, had 5,700 names on the anti-gay-marriage monetary contributor list, including those from Amazon, Starbucks, T-Mobile, F5 Networks, Microsoft, and Boeing, to name a few.  Many others were opposed to the Referendum and financially contributed against it: medical professionals, public-school teachers, a school superintendent, and a couple college instructors.  The measure passed, with the voters split 53.7% to 46.3% of valid votes placed.

Is this where we're gonna place those who don't believe the way we do?
Is this where we’re gonna place those who don’t believe the way we do?

Isn’t that grand?  Everyone was allowed to vote which ever way they wanted; a fabulous example of the right to believe/speak the way you want through the democratic voting process.  But do or say something that might give ones business a bad reputation in the eyes of the majority – or even the minority – then by God, you’ve gotta go.

Where do we draw the line?

Personally, I passionately voted the way I wanted to vote regarding Referendum 74, and although I might disagree with those who voted differently from me, I respected their right to vote which ever way they wanted.

In his article, Danny Westneat talked about the fanaticism that the Boy Scouts exhibited by ousting a gay Boy Scout leader because of who he is, not because of his work performance.  But the columnist added that the same fanaticism was displayed when the Mozilla CEO was ousted for what he believes.

If we are now requiring everyone to believe the way we believe; think the way we think; or vote the way we vote, aren’t we exhibiting a radical intolerance that nullifies our right to believe and speak as our conscience leads us?

I hope I never live in a world where someone figuratively puts a gun to my head to force me to think, believe, or vote the way they want me to.

Anyone who knows me, knows that would really piss me off, and it should make you pretty darn angry as well.

Freedom of the Press using Boeing as an example.

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‘Squeeze play’ on Machinists is reality elites failed to feel | Local News | The Seattle Times.

I am very pleased to say that I am a subscriber of the only Seattle newspaper still in print – the Seattle Times.  This newspaper writes and publishes varying opinions on local and global issues – even when one journalist disagrees with his or her fellow journalists or – dare I say – the Editors of the paper.  A timely example of freedom of the press was displayed during the showdown between the aerospace machinists unions representing Puget Sound Boeing machinists (blue collar workers) and the higher-up Boeing management who replaced Seattle with Chicago as their ivory tower home base in the year 2001.

English: The top of the Space Needle in Seattl...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee, asked for – and received – a special legislative session to present a bill that would award Boeing with delightful tax incentives to entice the company to continue the practice of building their airplanes in the greater Seattle area, a/k/a the Puget Sound region.  This bill was passed but was contingent on the machinists agreeing to an extension of their current union contract period from 2016 to the year 2024.  Additionally, the newly revised contract would not come close to resembling the current contract that both the machinists and the Boeing executives agreed upon when signed a few years back.  If the union membership would vote “Yes” on this newly devised contract, Boeing would keep the 777X in Washington forever more.  If the machinists voted “No” on the contract, Boeing leadership would approach other non-local Boeing sites – those not in Washington State.  Now why would this Washington business want to give their work to another state’s economy?  It’s all about the unions, baby.

Boeing leadership, and the major shareholders of Boeing stock, are sick and tired of machinists and engineers caring about – and fighting for – their rights regarding employee benefits.  Shifting work to non-union locations means that the company doesn’t have to deal with the petty demands of their dedicated workers who are just trying to make a decent living now, while building a decent retirement for later.  One of the major take-aways of the newly crafted contract is the cessation of the machinist’s pension plan, replacing it with a traditional 401(k) savings plan.  Go ahead and say it – many people are thinking the same thing you are: “Shit!  Companies all over the United States are ending employee pensions and cutting back.  You SOB Boeing machinists should stop your whining and just be glad that you have a job!”

On November 11, 2013, the Seattle Times editorial staff printed their opinion of what the machinists should do: Vote Yes for the Boeing 777X.  I encourage you to read the attached article because the Editors no doubt speak for a certain percentage of their readership who believed that the machinists should give up their current contract and take on a new contract – let’s call it Machinists’ ContractX.  Danny Westneat’s “Squeeze play” opinion piece attached at the top of my article, speaks for a different percentage of the newspaper readership – many who work for Boeing – but also those non-Boeing people who understand that when employees are told to sacrifice and cut back on their benefits for the good of the company – everyone in the company should be a part of that sacrifice.

Let’s look at the facts and you can decide if the executives are sacrificing to the same extent as their employees.  Boeing has been racking up profits with its stock exhibiting impressive numbers.  When the markets closed on Monday, November 18th, the stock price was $138.36 per share.  “If Boeing’s CEO, Jim McNerney, retires right now, he will get $265,575 a month.  That’s not a misprint: The man presiding over a drive to slash retirement for his own workers, and for stiffs in the rest of America, stands to glide out on a company pension that pays a quarter-million dollars per month.”  See Anguish many of us understand, by Danny Westneat dated 11/9/2013.

At play here are many emotions and opinions – both in the newsroom and in our living rooms.  On the one hand, people are saying that the machinists ruined it for Washington State by not agreeing to replace their current contract in 2016 with the hastily revised one.  This new contract came about as a result of the Governor and his legislators getting into bed with the Boeing executives and some of the machinist union leaders, to discuss in private what they felt was best for their employees.  As a result, the squeeze was indeed put on the machinists and now they are being blamed for Boeing’s decision to look elsewhere for airplane production that would have provided guaranteed work for current – and future – Boeing employees in the Puget Sound region.

Let’s get back to the disgruntled people who say that Boeing employees should just be glad that they have a job.  Boeing employees are highly skilled workers, and historically they have been paid salary and benefits commensurate to their skills – as is the case with Boeing engineers – many of whom have been with the company for decades.  All the salary and benefit details were agreed upon by Boeing management and Boeing laborers at the beginning of their current contract – the contract for which the terms don’t expire until 2016.  If the machinists voted “Yes” on the newly proposed contract, they would have eight years’ worth of financial takeaways for which they weren’t prepared at the 2016 contract end.

Based on what had been legally agreed upon, these employees had been managing their present lives and gearing up for their future lives, when all of a sudden they were presented with a different financial formula than the one promised in the contract upon which they based these financial plans.  Then the rug was pulled out from under them and the people pulling the rug were those who will bank monthly pension amounts of approximately $300,000 at today’s rate.  Where’s the sacrifice baby?  What am I missing?  Don’t forget, the aforementioned amount is just the pension amount – there are many other richly held benefits held by the executives.  And even if $300k per month was all the compensation each executive were to receive in retirement, that’s $3,600,000 a year.  Shouldn’t that leave some sacrificial wiggle room?

But the article I set out to write is about Freedom of the Press and the wonderful ability for one newspaper to express conflicting views while still being able to retain their jobs.  Newspapers and other periodicals would do well to model the Times so that the reading public can read conflicting journalistic opinions in order to arrive at their own opinions on hotly contested subject matters…

just as I have done in this article.