Ron Judd

Earnestly cutting through the chaff to get to the wheat -- wait; is it the other way around? -- I'm an experienced storyteller, journalist, author, photographer, teacher, humorist and practicing historian with an eye for viewing people and institutions from the outside, looking in.

Ron Judd’s advice for Northwesterners Going to Hawaii (GTH)

SO HERE IT IS, almost Spring Break time, and if you’re reading this somewhere other than a big, white beach in Hawaii, you’re a failure at the game of life. More on this half-truth in a second. First: Lately it has come to our attention, via watching ghastly amounts of TV, that no given subject, especially human physical/psychological ailments, can be discussed in what passes for modern short-attention-span culture unless it is represented by an approved two- to four-letter acronym. The Backs

Studying Seattle’s Roaring ’20s history might help us get through this next decade

SO IT’S THE dawn of the ’20s, and just about everything seems to be full-on, topsy-turvy, whack-a-doodle upside-down. The north end of downtown Seattle is being radically transformed, in a way that’s left it, for many old-timers, sadly unrecognizable. White-hot socialist leanings — and a hostile, authoritarian reaction to same — dominate presidential election talk; a national outbreak of what can best be called the Politics of Fear sours civil discourse. The Backstory: Let’s hope we learn from

What’s new on Nextdoor? About what you’d expect.

IN THE WORLD of digital publishing, stories with universal appeal often prove to have surprisingly long legs — and distribution. Such was the case with our Sept. 29 piece satirizing Nextdoor, the popular online neighborhood social media site that has proved useful in alerting the entire planet to the presence of sneaky nighttime opossums and coyotes, for which actual photographic evidence now exists. Our narrative was an example of a typical day’s worth of community discourse on Nextdoor. It be

Port Townsend wrestles with its increasingly complex identity and dizzying change

PORT TOWNSEND — One of the town’s main attractions is a dead whale named Hope, and no one seems to find this ironic. Day in and out, people trade tips on green living while sipping cocktails on decks overlooking one of Puget Sound’s last surviving waterfront pulp mills. Much of what’s produced in these parts is still made by hand — some of this (wood boats) is traditional; some of it (handblown glass “pleasure products”) decidedly not. The Backstory: Tag along to Port Townsend — if you haven’t

It’s not necessarily nosy if you just happen to eavesdrop on this Nextdoor ‘conversation’

SCENE: Pleasant autumn day in Escrow Heights, Washington, a middle-class cul-de-sac just far enough from Puget Sound to not afford views of same. Local resident, YETI insulated mug of pour-over coffee in hand, plunks down at flat screen to engage in civic life in the post-journalism world. First daily reality check: Nextdoor, the rapidly expanding community civic-discourse site, the lather/rinse/repeat content on which, alas, very much speaks for itself. Has Anyone Seen My Monkey? My Rhesus mo

Lt. Jessica Shafer keeps her mind on the bar as the 1st female commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment

WHEN YOUR BRAIN spends most of its time chewing on disasters with a million moving parts, each capable of claiming a life, you tend to savor life’s slower, straight lines. Running is simple: you and your shoes and the salt air. Lt. Jessica L. Shafer, a former college rower and longtime fan of line-of-sight missions, loves to run. She needs to, even — the drifting fog on the ocean beach of Southwest Washington countermanding the fog in her mind. Still, nagging details of her work and her passion

Yes, we landed on the moon. If you don’t believe it, try telling an astronaut.

SO HERE WE ARE, 50 years after landing — by most accounts — on the surface of the moon, an event that, at the time, seemed a harbinger of a national future marked by something much more fantastic than space-program spinoffs such as Tang, Velcro and, ultimately, annoying mobile phones. And yet: A half-century after the flames of Apollo 11 fizzled, rather than zipping around in jet-pack nonchalance, without worry or want, we find ourselves conjuring not whether things might go bad for America but

Why Washington’s armories are worth saving

IN THE FAMILY of public buildings, they’re like your slightly off-kilter uncle: been around forever. Done and seen everything, made friends far and wide. Made the front page a time or two, mostly just worked away in the background. Now graying and shedding some shingles, wondering whether there’s enough time, space or energy for a second — or maybe eighth — act. Washington’s public armories won’t show up for anyone’s Thanksgiving dinner. But for multiple generations of residents, they were a sp

On Ron Judd’s revised Ten Essentials list: toilet paper, your stupid phone and alcohol

LISTEN: YOU CAN almost hear the WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP-ing in the background. The helicopters are spinning up as we speak, about to be filled by helmet-and-flight-suit-wearing wilderness commandos. They are not practicing for a possible invasion of Canada (yet). They’re coming for you. “You” being anyone who ventures out into the vast, sometimes-great Pacific Northwest outdoors without being … oh Lord, say it ain’t so … fully prepared, if not overequipped. Newcomers will quickly learn, if they don’

Breaching Snake River dams could save salmon and orcas, but destroy livelihoods

THE GROWING Snake River Dam people’s self-defense movement has no written public-relations manual containing a list of cardinal sins. If it did, a new entry at the top might suggest this: DO NOT DISPARAGE THE ORCAS. Not that anyone in Washington’s southeast corner — wheat country, USA — would do that, anyway. Most of them will tell you that they, too, love chinook salmon, cherish orcas and see both as iconic Northwest species. They, too, know about the steady decline of the Salish Sea’s souther

Setting the record straight on the 1919 Seattle General Strike

In 1919, Seattle’s General Strike shut down the city for 6 days — but in the 100 years since, its stories have grown a little murky. ONE HUNDRED YEARS ago, Seattle — all of Seattle — went on strike. Mayor Ole Hanson, an ambitious politician who never turned down a second helping of drama, famously described the scene on the first day of the strike, Feb. 6, 1919, thusly: “Streetcar gongs ceased their clamor; newsboys cast their unsold papers into the street; from the doors of mill and factory,

The legend of Sasquatch won’t die. (But if just one Bigfoot would — die, that is — Ron Judd would become a believer.)

Professional Bigfoot believers keep believing, and profiting, but they lack one thing — evidence. CONSIDER THIS MINOR miracle: Over the course of a 30-year career that has often taken me deep into the woods, cracks and crannies of the Northwest — and even deeper into the mythology, paranoia and psycho-quirks of the region’s inhabitants — I have until now managed to avoid writing a piece exclusively about the legendary Sasquatch. In the same spirit, I have never written a piece about flocks of

Why aren’t more people freaking out about the nuclear warheads sitting 20 miles from downtown Seattle?

With so many social justice issues to consider, most of today’s young activists are taking a pass on the peace train. JADE LAUW WOULD LIKE to upset you. Maybe even ruin part of your day or, better yet, question your very existence. CATCHING UP WITH (Dec. 20, 2018): Local activists are giving peace a better chance, following the midterm election None of this is born of surliness. She simply has assigned herself a civic duty (remember those?): to make the rest of us look unimaginably destructiv

Ron Judd explains how to outsmart your smart technology

The Stupid Idiot’s Guide tackles 10 of our most-pressing plugged-in problems (plus II from those pesky ancient Romans) SOMEWHERE, DOWN DEEP, every single one of us stupid humans knows that it’s only a matter of time before smart tech gets the best of us. Oops. Try on “got” for size. That day actually arrived a few years ago, while most of us, understandably, were deeply engaged in our time-honored civic duty of passionately arguing about the color of a dress in an online photograph (smarty-pan

When local media struggles, so does our democracy

With fewer news outlets, and fewer employees, local journalism is a troubled — but still essential — institution. PACKING UP BOXES after signing off from a four-decade run as a Seattle journalist, Enrique Cerna can’t look at the notepads, awards and other touchstones of a notable career without feeling a touch of distress intruding on satisfaction for a job well done. Cerna, a Central Washington native and broadcast fixture since his humble beginnings as a KOMO radio reporter in 1975, retired

10 Underappreciated Things in the Northwest That Could Kill You

The smug notion that the Pacific Northwest, compared to the rest of the quickly deteriorating occupied world, is some sort of geographic Safe Zone from natural calamities is laughably false. SOME UNSETTLING NEWS for the many, many of you who are newly arrived: You might be a danger to yourself and others. This is not necessarily your fault; it’s simply a result of your status as one of the more recently deposited lumps bobbing around near the surface of our big, bubbling Jet City Metroplex mel