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Are you going back to the office?: Today So Far

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  • Offices are opening back up, but not exactly like before.
  • There's a new orca baby in Puget Sound!
  • Employees at Washington's Office of Insurance Commissioner are accusing their boss of being a bully.

This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for March 3, 2022.

Get the cover sheets ready for your TPS reports and go find your coveted stapler (the Swingline). Seattle-area companies are bringing folks back to the office. Google is bringing 7,000 employees back into its offices in Seattle and Kirkland in April. Microsoft is reopening its campuses as it welcomes workers back around the same time. Expedia is doing the same. It's a sign that the Before Times are coming back. But there is one interesting angle to this news that I picked up on — all the above-named companies will have some level of hybrid work instead of bringing everyone in full-time, splitting employees' time between the office and home. Sound familiar? Are you working for a company that is bringing its employees back into the office?

Starbucks used its time during the pandemic to rethink its approach to office work at its Seattle HQ. It has been moving toward a model where no employees have set desk spaces, and are instead encouraged to work-from-home. When they need to collaborate with colleagues, they can come into work and reserved desk space. So, I guess no quirky employee desk at Starbucks anymore. You know, the one with all the Funkos. And REI decided to nix its brand new HQ in Bellevue in favor of a "distributed work model" with satellite offices throughout the region. REI has stated the future of work will be more "fluid." The key theme across all these major Seattle companies: flexibility.

Washingtonians may appreciate Mike Kreidler's work going up against insurance companies and advocating on their behalf. But employees at the Office of Insurance Commissioner are speaking out to say that he's a bully. Kreidler has served as Washington state's insurance commissioner for more than two decades. Northwest News Network is reporting that many of the department's staff have reported a range of bad behavior from Kreidler over the years, such as publicly humiliating and belittling employees. Some say the behavior is "abusive" while others say he's a strong advocate for Washingtonians who can be "sharp" with people. According to official complaints filed with the state, Kreidler has used language that I'm too shy to repeat here.

Northwest News Network spoke with Kreidler for the story. He says he has made mistakes and needs to be more tactful. Read the full story here.

The Salish Sea's Southern Resident orca family has a big announcement — it's a baby! The new addition to J Pod was spotted near the San Juan Islands a couple days ago and has been given the oh so adorable name of J59. It's the first calf born in the pod since September 2020. You can see photos of the bouncing baby orca here.

There is still time to send KUOW a pandemic postcard. Do you have a memorable moment from the past couple years? Share it by sending KUOW an audio clip. It's pretty easy. Check out details for this pretty cool project here.

Have a comment or want to reach out to me? Send me an email at


caption: The Houtz-Martinez family
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The Houtz-Martinez family
Courtesy of the Houtz-Martinez family

The Houtz-Martinez family, including Sam Martinez who died from a hazing incident at Washington State University in 2019. The family has since been pushing for Sam's Law Act that aims to upgrade the state's laws around hazing. The family recently spoke with KUOW's Kim Malcolm. (Courtesy of the Houtz-Martinez family)


The Dark Knight has had many costume variations over the years, ranging from black, to blue and black, to gray and black, and more black. But the original idea of Batman, put forth by Bob Kane in 1939, was bright red with stiff, fixed wings and a Zorro-like mask, appearing nothing like our modern caped crusader. Kane brought the idea to his friend Bill Finger, who edited the character. It was Finger who came up with the Batman we know today. The original sketch had a man with fixed wings (inspired by da Vinci flying machine drawings). Finger replaced that with a cape. He then replaced the Zorro mask with a cowl. And he got rid of the bright red tights and added gloves. In fact, the Batmobile, the name Gotham, Robin, the Joker, Catwoman, and many other core Batman features were created or co-created by Finger. Though, since Kane had the contract with the comic company to produce the character, Finger never got the credit he deserved for his many, many contributions. It wasn't until decades later that Finger's credit became widely known.


caption: Displaced persons carry luggage as they walk to a border crossing in Medyka, Poland, Thursday, March 3, 2022. More than 1 million people have fled Ukraine following Russia's invasion in the swiftest refugee exodus in this century, the United Nations said Thursday.
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Displaced persons carry luggage as they walk to a border crossing in Medyka, Poland, Thursday, March 3, 2022. More than 1 million people have fled Ukraine following Russia's invasion in the swiftest refugee exodus in this century, the United Nations said Thursday.
Markus Schreiber / Associated Press

A million people have fled Ukraine as Russia nears takeover of port city

The number of refugees fleeing across the borders of Ukraine has reached a grim milestone, the U.N. said, as Russia's siege of key cities across the country extended into Thursday, with Moscow saying it now controls a city in southern Ukraine.


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