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WSB EXTRA: Sign up before next one goes out!

The fifth weekly edition of our new e-mail WSB EXTRA goes out at the end of the week … are you on the list? If not, consider subscribing – here’s the link. So far it’s been what we hoped it would be – a little bit behind-the-scenes, a little bit “here’s what we didn’t get to tell you about,” a little bit “did you know …”, a little bit sneak peek – and it’s still evolving. Thanks to everyone who’s on the list already!

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YOU CAN HELP: Make ‘Lunches with Love’ on Saturday, and/or donate ingredients now

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Another round of “Lunches with Love” is happening in West Seattle this Saturday. We’ve told you about this volunteer community effort before – most recently, last fall. This announcement, along with the photo, is from Karen Crane of West Seattle Art Nest:

Are you looking for a way to give back to your community, to a stranger, or to commit a random act of kindness? Please join us this Saturday from 10-12 at West Seattle Art Nest (4138 California Ave SW). Community members will gather, prepare sack lunches for our homeless neighbors, and then those who can, will set out around the sound to make deliveries.

If you are not able to make the event but still want to help, we need the following items: brown paper bags, ziplock sandwich bags, peanut butter, jelly, oranges,bananas and soft snack foods. Donations can be dropped at West Seattle Art Nest anytime! Thank you!

WSB EXTRA: 2nd edition tomorrow; subscribe today!

Last Friday, our first-ever bonus weekly e-mail-exclusive edition of WSB EXTRA debuted. As explained in our announcement last month, it’s *NOT* a recap or digest or list of story links – not a substitute for coming here to see what’s going on – but rather, something extra, quick infobits we find or receive that don’t turn into stories, as well as “comment of the week,” some “behind the scenes.” some “did you know” … If you’re not already signed up, we’re extending the invitation again – go here to subscribe. We’re sending it on Fridays – aiming to have it out by early afternoon most of the time (edition #1 was later because of a busy news day).

Computer trouble at local Seattle Public Library branches

July 5, 2016 2:43 pm
|    Comments Off on Computer trouble at local Seattle Public Library branches
 |   Utilities | West Seattle news | West Seattle online

Thanks to Kay and Jissy for the tip: If you’re going to a local Seattle Public Library branch, be aware the West Seattle-area branches (Delridge, High Point, Southwest, Admiral, South Park) have been having computer trouble today. We just confirmed this with SPL spokesperson Andra Addison. It’s blamed on a fire affecting fiber optic lines, and while we don’t have specifics, apparently it was last night’s fire in the 4800 block of Delridge – not near the library, but the initial burst of flame was so huge (see the reader photo added to our story) that it may well have affected utilities. We’re trying to find out more; Addison says repairs are in progress.

WSB EXTRA: Launching tomorrow – subscribe today!

From the in-case-you-missed-it file: Tomorrow we launch the first-ever edition of our new bonus weekly e-mail, WSB EXTRA. It’s *NOT* going to be a recap or digest or list of story links (as explained in the announcement earlier this week) … it’s truly meant to be something extra, beyond what you find here day in, day out, night in, night out … quick but interesting tidbits we get/find but don’t get to turn into stories … some big-picture features like “comment of the week” … a little bit of “behind the scenes” … among other things. Sign up here; if you get it and you hate it, unsubscribing will be fast and simple. Thanks to everyone who’s signed up already; we’ll be interested to hear what you think.

WSB EXTRA: Sign up for our about-to-launch weekly e-mail

Every week, WSB features hundreds of things you won’t find anywhere else – from news stories to photos to lost/found pets to event listings to forum posts, and beyond. But even with the 24/7 stream here on the website, we still don’t get to share everything we see/hear/observe/receive. So we’re launching a new weekly e-mail titled WSB EXTRA. You might have seen the signup box – we soft-launched that recently, but we haven’t yet mentioned it here in the news stream, until now. We’re planning to send the first one on Friday, so we’re announcing it more widely today.

While many news organizations send you e-mail newsletters that are basically lists of links to their stories, that’s NOT what we’ll be doing. The WSB website is and will remain THE only place you’ll find all the news we cover, and all the other regular 24/7 offerings. But we’ve been trying to find a way to share some of the observations, asides, links, tidbits that tend to build up without ever appearing in a story or comment. We also want to offer some overview features like “comment of the week,” top weekend pick, what’s going to be big NEXT week … So that’s the sort of thing you’ll find in WSB EXTRA, weekly. Please consider signing up (go here). If you decide it’s not for you, don’t worry, unsubscribing will be easy. Thank you!

City-run community centers to get wi-fi via Google grant

More free public wi-fi is en route to West Seattle, as part of the city’s Digital Equity Initiative, but via public funding. A public-relations firm for Google just sent this:

Google has provided $344,000 in grants to fund WiFi access points at all 26 Seattle Parks & Rec community centers, including Delridge, South Park, Alki, Hiawatha, and High Point Community Centers, which will improve public events, classes, camps and learning programs, and to provide WiFi to low-income families in Seattle Housing Authority housing. Some community centers will also get new computers — the funding will be used to replace 31 outdated and obsolete computers at five RecTech Community Technology Labs, including Delridge.

Last year, you might recall, Google bought borrowable wi-fi hotspots to make available through Seattle Public Library branches.

‘SCREENAGERS’: See it for free Thursday

February 23, 2016 5:47 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle online

That’s the trailer for “Screenagers,” which you can see for free this Thursday night in West Seattle, with a bonus – a chance to talk with filmmaker Dr. Delaney Ruston afterward. Local entrepreneur and mom Jackie Clough is organizing it in connection with the upcoming launch of SeattleTeenBlog.com. It’s a subject right at the heart of 21st-century parenting:

This documentary explores how learning, playing, and socializing online affects teens’ developing attention span, self-esteem and moral instincts. SCREENAGERS examines the risks of failing in school, social isolation and digital addiction. The film explores solutions to handle screen time and provides parents with tools to help young people develop self-control and find balance in their digital lives.

It’s at 7 pm Thursday (February 25th) at Fauntleroy Church’s Fellowship Hall (9140 California SW). No ticket required, but please RSVP so they know how many seats to set up – you can do that here. (Jackie advises arriving a few minutes early.)

Virtual reality @ Chief Sealth IHS, via Google. Anybody else interested?

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Thanks to teacher Noah Zeichner and colleagues at Chief Sealth International High School for sharing that scene from today, when a Google rep was on campus to help students and teachers explore the company’s simple approach to virtual reality – something he says other schools can take advantage of, too:

Students at Chief Sealth International High School got to travel to far off places using virtual reality technology as part of Google’s Expedition Pioneers Program. Students looked through Google Cardboard viewers while their teacher controlled and narrated the expeditions from a tablet. Students visited Mexico, Japan, Dubai, India, Brazil, and several other countries around the world.

If other West Seattle schools are interested in bringing this program to their school, teachers or administrators can send an email to google-expeditions@google.com. They will be in the Seattle area during the month of February.

The photo is by Sealth librarian Katie Hubert, showing teachers trying out the systems; she also reported “hoots of amazement and delight” as students checked out what, as she described it, are “really just a cardboard box holding a cell phone.”

SITE NOTE: Downtime later tonight

8:33 PM: Just an alert that WSB will have some downtime tonight starting around 11 pm. Last Saturday we had two rounds of downtime to switch to new server hardware, with space not only to hold our current 10-year archives but to accommodate the years ahead, following up on our recent software overhaul. But there’s one more step to take to move our live site onto the new hardware, and that’s happening tonight. Please bookmark (or otherwise save) our backup-site address, since we’ll use it for breaking news, if needed, while the work is under way – westseattleblog.wordpress.com – and of course our major social-media channels too, facebook.com/westseattleblog and twitter.com/westseattleblog. Thanks for your understanding as we continue evolving.

2:15 AM: Over now.

Late-night tech note: Overnight downtime

January 29, 2016 11:30 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle online

Two weeks have passed since WSB came out of the first stage of our first major technical overhaul in the 10 years since the site was founded (built on a foundation intended for the small personal site this originally was, and no longer able to accommodate what it had grown into). Overnight tonight (possibly Saturday night too), more work is ahead, this time including expansion of the storage space on our server, as WSB’s database of stories, photos, comments, and Forum posts continues to grow. This will mean some downtime after midnight. If wee-hours breaking news happens and we’re down, we will of course report via our backup site (westseattleblog.wordpress.com) and social-media channels (facebook.com/westseattleblog and twitter.com/westseattleblog), so please keep those links handy. Keep our number for breaking news too – 206-293-6302. Thanks for your understanding!

From the WSB Forums’ new Lost and Found section: Missing jewelry, found money

After eight years of keeping the only all-West Seattle online clearinghouse for lost-and-found pets, we’ve been asked often if WSB has any place to post lost-and-found items that AREN’T dogs, cats, chickens, etc. With our recent changes, we’ve been able to add a lost-and-found NON-pet section to the WSB Forums – see it here. Among the listings there already are two posted today – money found on California SW, and family-heirloom jewelry lost at Westcrest Dog Park. Maybe you can help!

WAS PINNED: Welcome to WSB’s next chapter!

Hello! As of tonight, January 15th, WSB is emerging from its first-ever major technical overhaul, in “beta” mode. It’s our next chapter, in partnership with you. Packing up 10 years worth of news, information, and discussion and moving it into a new shell turned out to be mightily complex; it had to be done to get to a point where we now have the ability to add, expand, improve. What you’re seeing now is just the start of WSB’s next chapter; much of what happened is “under the hood” but the look is different as well because the one we’d had since 2005 wouldn’t work with current upgrades. WSB has always been “community-collaborative news” – your tips, your comments, your events, your concerns – and now we will appreciate your collaboration on tweaking what’s live now, and then as the weeks and months go on, your ideas for what more is needed to truly serve our community. For now the biggest change is that we’re using more of the screen and surfacing more of what’s always been happening “inside” WSB – comments, forum posts, lost/found pets – and alongside in social-media channels. We look forward to talking with you here and/or via e-mail at editor@westseattleblog.com. P.S. Thanks to the thousands of readers who have joined us on our backup site as we continued covering the news there this past week.

NEXT WEEK: Cyberbullying/social media briefing for West Seattle parents

January 13, 2016 8:46 am
|    Comments Off on NEXT WEEK: Cyberbullying/social media briefing for West Seattle parents
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle online

No matter what school your kid(s) go to, the Madison Middle School PTSA invites you to its meeting next week to find out what parents should know about “cyberbullying” and social media.

As a followup to the Finding Kind program for our students in December, school administration has put together an expert panel of representatives from Seattle Children’s, Seattle Public Schools, OSPI (Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction), and UW to help our families navigate these difficult years. Let’s have a high turnout for this panel! Everyone is busy but it is important to take time to tool yourself with the advice and input from our experts.

Here’s the flyer, shared by Madison PTSA president Carla Rogers. The event is at 7 pm Wednesday, January 20th, in the Madison library (45th SW and SW Spokane).

TECH OVERHAUL STARTING: Find WSB at our backup site

January 8, 2016 6:07 pm
|    Comments Off on TECH OVERHAUL STARTING: Find WSB at our backup site
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle online

Our technical overhaul is starting – even if you can still see this! – so starting a little later tonight, you’ll find WSB coverage at westseattleblog.wordpress.com while the work is under way at our regular “address.” Thanks for your understanding!

WEEKEND WORK ON WSB: Where to find the news while we’re overhauling, starting tonight

As we noted briefly last night, WSB has some work coming up this weekend, and a curtain will go up while the overhaul’s under way. **WE’LL STILL BE COVERING THE NEWS!** You’ll just find it someplace different until the work’s done. So once the overhauling begins around 6 pm tonight, you’ll see a page here pointing you to our temporary backup site at westseattleblog.wordpress.com (which we haven’t had to use in a couple years). As we add stories, whether breaking or not, we’ll also publish the links on our main social-media sites, facebook.com/westseattleblog and twitter.com/westseattleblog (so if you aren’t among our 21,000 FB followers and 37,500 Twitter followers – consider joining, at least temporarily!). Our technical team’s not sure how long it’ll take to move our decade of data – which this creaky old shell just can’t handle any more – but once it’s over and we’re back at the regular address, we’ll send messages too.

WEEKEND ALERT: WSB will be in temp quarters for a while

If you’re one of the many readers who come here late at night to catch up – we want to let you know that you’ll find us someplace else, temporarily, tomorrow night, and for at least part of the weekend. We’ve had a sorely needed overhaul in the works for a very long time, and our tech team tells us it’s finally ready to go live. So around 6 pm Friday night, we’ll be putting up a “Pardon Our Dust” type sign here, and providing news coverage from a temporary site while our decade of data is moved. The direct link to that temp site will be in a longer note we’ll publish here around midday tomorrow, and you’ll find it pinned in our social-media channels, so if you don’t already frequent them, please bookmark those now (particularly Twitter at twitter.com/westseattleblog and Facebook at facebook.com/westseattleblog), because we’ll also directly link our temp-site-published stories there until we’re back here live with the overhaul. Thanks in advance for your understanding!

P.S. We will also post lost/found pets on the temp site while it’s in use, because that’s one of the most valued services we provide. We will not have a temporary event calendar but we WILL publish daily highlights on the temp site on Saturday and Sunday mornings, as comprehensive as we can make them.

Senior Center of West Seattle launching fundraising campaign to compensate for what it’s not getting from United Way

The Senior Center of West Seattle‘s end-of-year pitch for donations isn’t your everyday end-of-year pitch.

This year, the center is trying to make up for $60,000 it’s not getting from United Way of King County.

That was the West Seattle center’s share of $700,000 that UWKC gave Senior Services last year.

Next year, SS isn’t getting that at all, because UWKC has decided not to fund general-purpose organizations – instead, a spokesperson told us, they’re focusing on a new strategic plan with missions such as helping end homelessness and raise graduation rates.

General funding of services for senior citizens, for example, just doesn’t fit, explained United Way of King County spokesperson Jared Erlandson when we called to ask the reason for the cuts. He said the organization is focusing on spending that can have a direct effect on problems and challenges, rather than spreading the dollars thinly. But Senior Services points out that the elder population is swelling, and, SS spokesperson Karen Bystrom points out, seniors are also a vulnerable population. (SS is not the only organization affected – in all, $1.7 million in funding that goes to 30 organizations is being redirected by UWKC, and they’re not all senior-focused organizations.)

In the meantime, the West Seattle center is trying to raise $25,000 for starters by year’s end. The theme is “keeping the Senior Center thriving.” Center executive director Lyle Evans says WSSC is “responsible for raising 75 percent of the nearly $800,000 annual budget. This loss hits hard since we have counted on this stable income.”

The center is a 501(c)3 organization, so contributions are tax-deductible. Its programs include feeding dozens of local seniors every day in the center’s “Junction Diner.” The center also offers programs that help seniors deal with challenges such as finding affordable housing. And they offer fun, too, from dances to bingo to movies. Right now, they’re just hoping to rustle up the funds to keep all that going.

Site trouble: In case something seems to be missing…

Tonight we’ve been dealing with some issues related to technical trouble last night and in the process our technical assistants had to restore the site to a point that went back to about 5:40 pm tonight. We hadn’t published any new stories since then but we do appear to have lost some comments and Forum replies published since then – they might not be recoverable. The forums, which had borne the brunt of last night’s trouble, had to be restored to a somewhat earlier point. Again, please forgive us; thank you!

Man who requested Block Watch Captain, Night Out organizers’ names isn’t saying why he wants them, but says he’s requested and received the list before

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Seattle Police, like most if not all public agencies, deal with many public-disclosure requests.

But one that they are handling right now is so unusual, apparently, that they took the step of sending e-mail to thousands of people whose names will be part of it. We’ve heard from several readers, too, unsettled after receiving this message from Assistant Chief Steve Wilske, sent out by Southwest and South Precincts Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon and other CPCs around the city:

Right after receiving that, we asked SPD’s media-relations unit if they could tell us who had made the request; at the time, they couldn’t find the information, but it was in this followup that Solomon sent shortly thereafter to the original mailing list:

Dear Community Friends,

As per our legal advisor, the name of the individual who requested the names of all of our Block Captains and/or the individuals who organized Night Out events is public information. The individual’s name is Keith Gormezano. He requested names, addresses, home phone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses, notes and the approximate block where Night Out event was held, as well as the same contact information of Block Watch Captains (past and present). Mr. Gormezano does not have to provide why he wants the information or what he intends to do with it. He has signed a declaration stating that he will not use the list of names for commercial purposes.

As the letter from Chief Wilske states, we are only mandated to give out the names. For South and Southwest Precincts, this information was provided for current (not former) Block Watch Captains and 2014 & 2015 Night Out registrants. If you are not currently a block watch captain, or if you have not been the one to register your group’s Night Out event in the past two years, your name was not disclosed.

I’ve received dozens of responses on this. Many of you are upset, curious and some block captains have quit as a result. We understand. In my 25 years as a Crime Prevention Coordinator, I can say we have been protective of our Block Captains, to a fault. Unfortunately this could not be avoided. I am extremely sorry and saddened for the distress this is causing.

Our subsequent online search quickly turned up an e-mail address for Keith Gormezano, so we wrote to ask him why he wanted the names. His reply:

I am under no obligation to tell you why I am seeking this information.

This isn’t the first time I have requested the names and contact information for BWC and NO organizers.
The department gave me a complete list several years ago.
I would be happy to send it to you.

It is subject to the PDR.
That is the price of living in a free society.
If people are curious, they can look up my voting record or value of my Creekside condo.

If it is causing a lot of distress, one has to wonder why SPD went out of their way to inform everyone after the fact.

Looking him up via Google, you’ll find this 2006 seattlepi.com story featuring what he did to revolt against Safeway’s loyalty program, and a 2003 Stranger story about how he got sued for posting public records from a legal proceeding.

Regarding public records in general – far more is subject to disclosure than you might think. You can read the chapters of our state’s Public Records Act here.

SPAM SCAM ALERT: Beware of e-mail from ‘seattleschool’ address

October 13, 2015 10:29 pm
|    Comments Off on SPAM SCAM ALERT: Beware of e-mail from ‘seattleschool’ address
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle online

With schools in the news more than usual lately, WSB reader Jade wanted to warn you about e-mail spam with a too-close-to-real address: She received e-mail tonight from an address containing seattleschool (dot) org. That’s one letter off the district’s official domain – but some might not catch that and would open it anyway. The body of the e-mail, Jade explains, contained “the ever-so-obvious ‘follow instructions for lottery payout’ instructions” in an attachment. But attachments are one of the most common ways for viruses and other problems to get passed onto your computer – don’t EVER open one you’re not expecting – so beware.

West Seattle Comcast outage: Seaview, Morgan trouble

11:38 PM: If you’ve been having trouble with Comcast service tonight in Seaview or Morgan Junction – it’s not just you. We’ve heard from people via all our channels with problems in those areas. Since Comcast itself doesn’t have a publicly accessible official outage map so far as we can tell, it’s important that you call to report it if you’re affected … let us know what you hear back in terms of a fix. While this doesn’t seem to be as widespread as the infamous June 1st outage, this is the largest number of reports we’ve received since that one.

7:51 AM: Some have theirs back, as noted in comments below. At least one person says on Twitter that theirs came back – then went away again.

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