Tacoma 4th of July Asshat Bingo

For those of us who have had to forgo our holiday plans to escape the madness due to unprecedented drought conditions, heat and fire danger to protect our homes, I’ve created a little game. (it’s keeping me from going out and killing my drunk asshat neighbors for shooting off illegal explosives and risking all of our homes and lives)

I present to you…

“Tacoma 4th of July Asshat Bingo”

Play along with us on Twitter and Facebook tonight on your mobile device while you’re out hosing things down in your yard.

4th of July Asshat Bingo Card 4

4th of July Asshat Bingo Card 2

4th of July Asshat Bingo Card 3

4th of July Asshat Bingo Card 5

4th of July Asshat Bingo Card 1




Mason Middle School Principal Refuses To Meet With Petitioners, Supports Shaming

There are things that the principal of Mason Middle School and the Tacoma School District don’t want you to know about this story which appeared in the News Tribune two weeks ago.

That the principal at Mason Middle School refused to meet with these girls, who went through all the proper channels respectfully and launched a very successful petition. to modify a dress code that prohibits any part of a girl’s shoulder from showing.

What that principal did do was meet with two students of her choosing who were not involved in this at all. One who called these wonderful young women “sluts” (probably got that idea from her parents)

A handful of wealthy North End Parents didn’t like the attention the school got because of this. They said it was “embarrassing” so these girls were harassed by other students in school, shut down and denied due process.

You know what they (the school) SHOULD be embarrassed by?

body shaming young girls, having your daughter call them sluts and being a principal who hand selects said slut shaming/name calling girl to “represent” students.

supporting the sexualization of young girls.

promoting the idea that the mere sight of part of a girls shoulder will distract a young boy and that the boys lack self control and that their education is more important than the girls.

sexism

and being on the wrong side of history.

SHAME on that “principal” who in my opinion, is not fit to run a school, and shame on those parents.

The girls learned several valuable lessons about acitivism and fighting social injustice.

Sadly, they also learned that money talks even when it’s on the wrong side of an issue.

The harshest lesson learned is that because they are female, they won’t be respected or treated fairly and that if they stand up for their rights, they will be called “slut” (and in this case the one doing the name calling was rewarded by the principal for that behavior)

I have heard however that they are going to be honored by a state legislator for taking this issue on.

I am sad that these young women were treated so unfairly, were disrespected and denied due process.

But I am glad that they are the next generation who will be taking on social injustice; they are the hope for our future.

I’m also glad I no longer have a middle school age child.

You can bet that if I did, she would NOT be going to Mason Middle School.

girls


Memorial Day – A Day To Remember – Let’s Make It A Day To Make Change

A day to remember those who are gone…

Those who lost their lives in service of our country…

Those defending our freedom and the constitution…

Those sent on dubious missions who served in good faith…

Those whose lives were stolen by a for profit, corporate war machine…

If only we would stop sending so many to their deaths…

If only war was not for profit…

If only it was a last resort…

If only life was honored as sacred…

 

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Tacoma Public Schools Sexist Dress Standards – 8th Grade Girls Can Not Show Any Part Of Their Shoulders. Seriously? Just Say NO to Body Shaming and Sexism!

Body shaming young girls with unfair, outdated and sexist dress codes is nothing new.

I won’t bore you recent research and articles about the negative impacts body shaming, objectifying, hypersexualizing and holding girls accountable for the behavior of boys has on students of both genders and the self esteem of girls in particular. (if you’re reading this blog, you all know how to google)

On Sunday, May 3rd a friend of mine purchased a lovely dress for her daughter’s 8th grade graduation and dance at Mason Middle School in Tacoma scheduled for June 11th.

There were no dress code guidelines given to parents or posted on the website at the time. The dress is similar in style to dresses worn without incident at the same event last year as well as other events.

Yesterday, on May 12th, less than a month before the dance, after most girls had purchased their dresses, many of whom saved up for them, the school district announced a ridiculous dress code.

This perfectly lovely dress is not allowed at the dance because….

The shoulders are not covered.

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Yep, you read that correctly.

The mere sight of the shoulders of an 8th grade girl might ruin the event, drive boys insane and/or make school administrators/some parents who are apparently stuck in the dark ages have sinful thoughts.

For those who are curious about the aforementioned ridiculous dress code; here it is.

8th grade Dance.attire.guidelines

Not only is this dress code, sexist, objectifying and body shaming to young girls, it’s not even consistent from school to school.

Whoever came up with this idiotic dress code which as far as we can tell only affects girls at Mason Middle School needs to be made aware that this is 2015. They also need to learn about the negative impacts hypersexualization and body shaming have on young girls.

My friend’s daughter and her friends have created a petition on change.org.

They will also be reaching out to media and elected representatives.

This is a lesson for them.

A lesson in standing up and making their voices heard.

A lesson on being proactive and making change.

A lesson on becoming involved in issues that affect their school, community and contacting elected officials.

Let’s help this be a good lesson for them.

Please consider signing and sharing their petition, which you can find by clicking here

If an 8th grade girl is forced to cover her shoulders in summer, what’s next? Burkas?

Tacoma, we can do better for our girls (and boys).

*on an amusing note, the prom dress I wore in 1979 has the dreaded “spaghetti straps” so it would not be acceptable by today’s Mason Middle School Standards.

**Forget the 1970’s, bare shoulders were perfectly acceptable for school dances and proms in the 1950’s as evidenced by a google search of 1950’s prom dresses


Lifelong Passions

Today was a “blast from the past” as an interview I did with Douglas Scott from Exotichikes.com was published.

While I’m no longer running medical aid calls, rappelling down cliffs for rescues or fighting fires, my day job affords me the opportunity to help others save lives.

I’m also still involved in sharing my love of the outdoors through books, magazines and other print and electronic media.

We never know where our passions may lead, but they are always our passions.

http://outdoor-society.com/ask-a-national-park-ranger-l-lisa-lawrence/

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Open Letter to the News Tribune who is trashing our city and Tacoma City Council who allows it

Dear Phil Schneider,

I do NOT want to hear any more of your bogus apologies.

EIGHT times I have used your useless opt out system and still have to deal with this crap, and I am not the only one (our numbers are growing as is our anger)

Last time, it took almost three weeks for you to come pick up your rotting trash out of the gutter in front of my house.

I WILL be notifying the State Attorney General and BBB of your continued VIOLATION of the agreement and I will be encouraging everyone else to as well.  We have an attorney looking into that agreement and your liability for continually violating it.  Your trash blights our communities, poisons the environment, is a burden on the elderly and disabled, is a slip and fall hazard, and targets homes for burglary.

We will also continue to boycott, picket and give negative reviews on Yelp, Google + and Facebook to any business that advertises in your trash..

We will call the police on any of your below minimum wage, non local (I’ve seen Oregon plates), desperate Craigslist contractors driving down the road throwing things out windows and/or anyone who trespasses on our property.

We will continue to fight the re-election of any member of the current city council until they take a stand against you.

This is not an exercise of your “1st Amendment rights”.  This is littering, trespass, poisoning the environment, endangering the elderly, disabled and those who travel for work, can’t get out to clean up your trash every day.

This is you, disrespecting and trashing your community.

I used to care that you stayed in business.

I no longer do. (and neither does a large percentage of this community)

We will not stop our fight against you, until you stop.

or cease to exist.

I really don’t care which at this point and neither does anyone else I know.

Hey…  Remember the Seattle PI?  The Seattle Times?

Neither does anyone else.

Have a nice day.  Sir.  (if you need a translation for that, ask any law enforcement officer or military personnel)

I would explain it to you myself, but you are not worth the profanity.

Even a pig is smart enough not to poop where it sleeps and eats; apparently you are not.

a walk taken 45 minutes ago20150108_105735

Well over a year later, the McClatchy Corporation who bought out the (formerly Tacoma) News Tribune and has ZERO interest in Tacoma or being a good corporate citizen is still trashing our city.

Despite multiple complaints to their offices, the BBB, the State Attorney General and our City Council, they have increased their trashing of our community to throwing 50,000 toxic plastic wrapped bags of trash onto our streets, sidewalks, yards, parking strips and gutters, washing into the Sound claiming bogus 1st amendment rights, often, dangerously out of moving vehicles.

This is all about money, revenue, advertising dollars. It is NOT about free speech and is an affront to the 1st amendment which they are citing.

Our current city council members: Marilyn Strickland, Anders Ibsen, Robert Thoms, Lauren Walker, Marty Campbell, Joe Lonergan, Victoria Woodards, David Boe and Ryan Mello refuse to take a stand.  As a matter of fact, at a recent citizens forum at a regularly scheduled city council meeting our mayor could not be bothered to stay because she had something “more important” to do than listen to citizens and left to introduce a book author.  Deputy Mayor Boe chastised the audience for applauding when citizens spoke out against this trashing of our city. (but it’s perfectly OK to applaud any action the council takes)

Plastic is a HUGE threat to our oceans and beloved Salish Sea and is of increasing concern.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/23/plastic-ocean-pollution-fish-health_n_6923872.html

One of our group members just had her EIGHTH Opt out violated again and found more plastic wrapped trash in front of her house.

The News Tribune does NOT respect the citizens of Tacoma.

The News Tribune does NOT respect the environment.

The News Tribune does NOT respect the legally binding opt out agreements that our city council critters tell us to abide by.

opt-out-my-ass

These bags continue to rot in our streets and gutters polluting the Puget Sound.

Our elected officials continue to ignore this and refuse to speak out against it.

What can we do?

FORCE the TNT to come pick up their trash immediately when they violate the opt out.  They will.  Use the customer service email address customerservice@thenewstribune.com and also contact Phil Schroeder directly at phil.schroder@thenewstribune.com

Let your council critter know that you do NOT support them or their reelection until they do the right thing and take a stand against this practice.

You can contact them here

Contact the State Attorney General and Better Business Bureau EVERY time they violate their bogus opt out agreements.

Here’s how to file a compliant with the State Attorney General

https://fortress.wa.gov/atg/formhandler/ago/ComplaintForm.aspx

Here’s how to file a complaint with the BBB

https://www.bbb.org/consumer-complaints/file-a-complaint/get-started

Here’s where to give them the crappy YELP review that they deserve.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-news-tribune-tacoma

Don’t forget to EMAIL (don’t call) the TNT (email provides a “paper trail” to support how often they violate their own opt out program) to let them know you that you aren’t going to tolerate this and to insist that they come pick up their trash at your opted out home as well as from in front of vacant homes.  customerservice@thenewstribune.com

We need to continue to let City Manager T.C. Broadnax know that we are displeased with his performance.

Another option being researched is a “No Trespass” order.  These are used by retail outlets when they have known loiterers/shoplifters frequenting their establishment.  Once the order is received; the police can be called to make an arrest for trespassing.  They send/give the form to the offender (In this case we’d take it/send registered mail to the TNT offices) If this can be done for “any representative of the TNT or their affiliates” we should be able to charge them when they violate the order (which their craigs list contractors will continue to do)

Most important, continue to target the advertisers in this trash.

Be polite, ask them if they know that their advertising dollars are going towards this practice.  Many local businesses have been appalled and demanded a stop be put to it.

Others, like Safeway and Puget Sound Audiology and Hearing Aid don’t care and refuse to stop the practice.

Call, write, email, picket, give negative Facebook, Yelp and Google + reviews to those who knowingly and unapologetically trash our city.

This needs to STOP!

Join our Facebook group, Citizens for Tacoma Not Trash


It’s Almost Time…

It is almost time for the technical run through of tonight’s midnight fire spectacle.

I know I’ll see many (oooh, about 20,000 or so) of you at First Night Tacoma Pierce County tonight to help ring in the new year with music, art, fun and community.

For those I don’t see, I wish you a happy, healthy, safe and totally fabulous New Years Eve!

My plans for 2015 include a lot more quality time with friends, loved ones and chosen family.

More music (making it)

More dance (performance, class and recreational)

More writing

More time spent on positive endeavors and with positive people.

More gratitude.

More game nights (Cards Against Humanity and Cowgirls Ride the Trail of Truth anyone?)

More hiking, backpacking, cycling, kayaking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and other outdoorsey stuff.

Getting back to healthy eating and more exercise.

Being kinder to myself.

2015?

Bring it!

2014 fire




New Year Reflections, slide show and holiday card/letter

Happy New Year friends, family and chosen family.

While I don’t normally do “resolutions” (and if I do, I usually do them at the begging of the “Celtic” New year at Samhain in early November), I am ready to kick 2014 to the curb and look forward to 2015 being a new and awesome year.

2014 seems to have been a year filled with more challenge, tragedy, illness, death and trauma for just about everyone I know than any years in recent memory.  (as I write this, one of you is in surgery having a large, rare and malignant tumor removed from around your iliac vein and artery and another also with cancer is planning your own memorial)

Without offering up platitudes which those who are still struggling/grieving may not appreciate, I will just say that for me, that pesky phoenix metaphor holds true.  While just about every area of my life went up in flames (all at once) last year and it seemed overwhelming for a time, it is allowing me a fresh start on a lot of levels.

I enter 2015 in a much better place career wise-I love my job and have benefits again.  Small business, which contributes to society in a meaningful way seems to be my sweet spot between working for a soulless corporation for benefits and working for a non-profit with no competent leadership and no benefits.

While I’m pretty sure the debacle with the scummy mortgage servicer took a year or so off of my life, I ended up in a better position in a modified mortgage which has left me with a 1.25% decrease in interest rate and a 25% decrease in monthly payment.

While I very much appreciate (you’ll never how much that meant to me) those of you who offered to help, it was something I needed to do on my own and the end result was much better than if I had accepted help and tried to deal with the status quo.  It also helped me learn to navigate a corrupt system that is designed to victimize hard working people and reward the worst of the worst 1%.  I am using that knowledge to write a guide to help others who are in the same situation.  I have already been able to use my experience to advise others.

I extricated myself from a “relationship” which made me feel bad about myself every single day (and Yikes! Did I ever wait far too long).  While I still have work to do on myself and my habit of putting my own wants/needs/self-esteem aside in favor of others’ I feel that I am stronger for it and can only hope that moving forward, I am able to make healthier choices for myself.

So yeah, I’m still decompressing from it all, but looking forward, things look pretty darn good.  I managed to “rise from the ashes” once again and sooner or later the scent of singed tail feathers will dissipate.

I plan on filling my life with more friendship, love, hiking, cycling, running, backpacking, music, art and dance.

I wish all of you a happy, healthy, 2015!

I put together my annual year end slide show, which those of you not on Facebook haven’t seen yet.

It just goes to show you that 2014 had a lot of high points despite the challenges, and most of them involved you, my friends and chosen family (a lot of you are in it)

Book update 
I’m still waiting on proofs from the book; I ordered a bit too close to the holiday rush.  I will let you know as soon as they are ready.

New Years Eve – First Night!

Don’t forget First Night on New Year’s eve.  The forecast is for clear and  no snow so once the indoor venues close at 11:30 and everyone moves to the square for our fiery countdown to midnight, it will be comfortable (if you’re dressed warmly, unlike we performers)

My fire siren friends and I will be in the parade with our LED toys as well as in the fire spectacle at midnight.  It’s going to be awesome this year!

An article on first night was just posted in last Friday’s Trib

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/12/26/3554861_fire-food-spectacle-and-music.htm

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For those who didn’t see it on Facebook or receive it by email or snail mail, here is the holiday card and BadKitty’s sarcastic letter.

holiday card 2014

holiday letter 2014

Family, Love, Loss and Magic at Christmas

Tis the season.

The season of love, joy and family.

It is the season of shared traditions.

For many, it is the season of melancholy.

Many (far too many this year) are spending their first holiday without a parent, loved one, beloved pet or child who has passed from this earth (losing a child to an early, unfair death or suicide… I can’t even imagine)

I was reading a Facebook post of a friend of mine today who asked if she was the only one who felt melancholy at this time of year.

She mentioned that she wished she had known as a child how precious those holidays with family were despite the fact that even though they were Jewish, they gathered at Christmas when they were free from work and school obligations and spent quality time together.

As many of us are wont to say, “Hug your loved ones; tell them that you love them, for you never know when it will be the very last time.”

Truer words were never spoken.

I do my best to distract myself from the fact that I have no immediate family (I do have some cousins in other states) and that due to my own abusive, dysfunctional, upbringing in an alcoholic household, I have been unable, as an adult to form a lasting functional romantic relationship/partnership (Wow, do I ever “pick wrong”)

I host holiday gatherings with chosen family (which in cases of severe dysfunction, neglect or abuse can be preferable to and healthier/safer than blood family)

I try to make sure that anyone who finds themselves alone at this often emotionally challenging time of year for whatever reason, knows that they have somewhere to go.

I cook, bake, decorate, send out cards and letters and try to give back to my community.

But in the end, there is still, always, that sense of aloneness, of being different-not in that cool, quirky, creative way, but in that “there is something wrong with me kind of way”.

Tonight, I will be cooking a holiday feast for friends/chosen from all walks of life, relationship statuses and faiths (or lack thereof)

I am going to hug them and let them know that I love and appreciate them, because we never know what someone else may be going through inside and because we never know when it will be the last time we have the chance.

I encourage everyone to do the same.

Family eating Christmas dinner

And just to end this rather serious reflection on a positive note, I offer up one of my favorite, past Christmas experiences.

“One Perfect Christmas Moment in Tacoma”

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Sometimes when we least expect it, something amazing and profound hits us out of the blue, more often than not, it comes from a source that we least expect.

I am one of “those people” who prefers to use the words “Happy Holidays” to greet people during the winter holiday season in order to respect and acknowledge the fact that the season is shared by many faiths and traditions. It’s not a “war on Christmas”, it’s merely being inclusive and respectful.
I am not a Christian, but I do celebrate Christmas as a holiday of shared seasonal traditions. I celebrate it as a season of light, hope and ideally, peace on earth. To me, rebirth and renewal is a universal concept.

One Christmas morning, many years ago whilst living in Tacoma’s Stadium District, I walked to my neighborhood corner market to pick up something for a celebration that I was going to attend later in the day.  The weather was beautiful, the air was crisp and clean, and I was still enjoying fond memories of a celebration with good friends the night before.

As I looked out on to the deep blue waters of Commencement Bay, I also contemplated all the stress and depression that many people feel at this time of year, and how truly sad that is. I thought of all the pressure that our society puts on people to be happy and have the “perfect” holiday, and how many end up disappointed and frustrated. I thought of those who have lost loved ones, and for whom this time of year brings only painful memories of loss.; and as I watched a homeless man digging in the trash, I thought sadly of those who don’t even have a home and a hot meal. It seemed so wrong to me that a season that is supposed to be about happiness and joy brings stress, depression and sadness to so many. I was feeling pretty darn jaded.

I was distracted from my train of thought when I stopped to chat with a friend from work at the little coffee shop on the corner, and was then greeted by familiar faces and smiles at our little neighborhood market. I made my purchases and began my walk back home, my mind drifting back to the sadness I was thinking about earlier..

And then, I heard it on the air.

At first it was faint and distant; then it began go gain strength and seemed to be coming from all around me.
Music, bells, magic.

Stadium is an historic neighborhood where most of the buildings are at least 100 years old. It contains several beautiful old churches.

Resounding across the waters of Commencement Bay, the castle that is now Stadium High School and the old brick buildings filled with history, was “Gloria, In Excelious Deo…” coming from real bells in an old church (I don’t know which one) that has an organ controlling the bells. Next I heard, “Joy to the World” and was reminded that this indeed is a season of hope for many traditions.

I stopped walking and just stood there to listen, appreciate the world around me and experience something that was very powerful. It was then that I noticed other people stopped on the streets, also mesmerized by the magical sounds. They came out of their businesses and homes to sit on the stoops and listen, some even pulled their cars to the side of the road and turned off their engines.  Everyone, regardless of their religious upbringing, traditions or even current life circumstances was smiling in shared joy for the beauty in the air surrounding us. Most of us did not know nor had even seen each other before that moment; yet we felt an undeniable connection of the spirit.

For one brief moment, the world stood still, filled with peace, love and joy.

It doesn’t matter which church, religion, tradition or building that joyful sound came from. There are certain messages in this world that are universal.

If only we could all share more moments like the one I experienced Christmas morning in a tiny Tacoma neighborhood.

The world would be a better place.

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The Day Before Solstice

The day before solstice
Dark… gray…
oppressive

Reflections on a cycle of pain for many
Death… suicide…
suffering

Concerns swirling through their minds
Out of work… cancer…
overwhelming

Bearing witness to it all
Sadness… pain…
helplessness

Obligations to fulfill
Parties…. cards…
ritual

Doing what needs to be done
art to create… words to write…
busyness

Tomorrow
home full of loved ones… the light returns…
Hope

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