Compassion, There is (or should be) Enough for Everyone

I’m seeing a lot of posts, as I have over the last several months pitting groups against each other.

It seems that in the small and narrow minds of some that compassion for one group of people is seen as not caring about others.

People who were outraged about Cecil the Lion were vilified and accused of not caring about starving children in Africa or whatever cause internet trolls wanted to throw out there.

Guess what folks, we can all care about more than one cause at once.

The statement that Black Lives Matter is twisted and co-opted by those who don’t understand that yes, all lives do matter, but black lives are being unnecessarily taken at alarming rates and that the underlying causes need to be addressed for the good of humanity.

And now the Syrian refugee crisis.

Islamophobia aside (don’t get me started) many are outraged that we still have homeless veterans (or homeless at all) and say that no refugee should be accepted until all of our veterans/other homeless are taken care of.

And you know what? We should be outraged that veterans (or anyone) is on the street in this country while corporate CEOs make obscene amounts of money poisoning our environment, and others grow wealthier by the day on the backs of our soldiers sent off to fight wars for profit.

Does that mean we should pit one group against another?


It means that we should try to help EVERYONE.

Rather than using this crisis to “take sides” and pit groups against one another, how about we try to find a better way to think and to act.

Instead of creating more hurt and anger, how about you think of actual solutions that will help everyone?

Could the homeless and veterans be sheltered and put to work helping the refugees assimilate? We won’t know unless we try, until we propose solutions, when we vote and demand that our alleged “leaders” are accountable (and stop with the partisan bickering from the far sides of the spectrum, that helps no one)

Before you post that next inflammatory meme to social media which does nothing but divide people further, how about taking some real action and calling/writing/faxing your congress critter and demanding that we take care of our veterans, the homeless AND the refugees who did not ask to be bombed out of their country.

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Dia De Los Muertos in Tacoma

Dia De Los Muertos, translates to Day of the Dead.

Once a little known (to us) observance celebrated in Mexico and Latin America, it has become more prevalent in our society, the predominant culture of which is taught to fear death and the dead.

The closest festival that those of us with Northern European/Gaelic/Celtic ancestry once had is Samhain, which was eventually assimilated by our culture and turned into the modern Halloween which has nothing to do with honoring our ancestors and departed loved ones and everything to do with commercial profit.

Sadly, this is beginning to happen to Dia De Los Muertos as is evidenced by incredibly tacky Halloween costumes on sale, and other misappropriations.

Make no mistake, Dia De Los Muertos is not “Mexican Halloween” just like Cinco De Mayo is not “Mexican Independence Day” (it commemorates the battle of Pueblo and achieving victory over French forces against all odds, but that’s a conversation for another day) nor is it about drinking tequila until you puke.

This Huffington Post article speaks to appropriation and misrepresentation of the observance, so rather than wax poetic from upon my soapbox, I shall link it here.

While appropriation and colonization are very real and serious issues based in devaluing and disrespecting other cultures, the United States has always been known as the “Great American Melting Pot” in which many generations of immigrants from different cultures brought some of their own traditions.

We can learn a lot from other cultures and regain some of the connections to the earth and our ancestors we lost when we all melded into a homogenous culture if we approach it with respect and a desire to learn.

This short video explains the basics of the observance…

The Day of the Dead – A Lot More Than Skulls and Candy

It's definitely not the “Mexican Halloween.”

Posted by AJ+ on Saturday, October 31, 2015

Today, an example of respectful learning and celebration occurred at the Tacoma Art Museum for Dia De Los Muertos.

A colorful event that included education, entertainment, music, activities for children and sacred spaces created for departed loves ones drew people from all over Tacoma and beyond in the spirit of community.


Offerendas (altars built to honor departed loves ones and ancestors) lined hallways on multiple levels of the museum. Filled with photographs, decorations, memorabilia and often, written explanations about the symbolism and people involved were lovingly built by individuals, families and community groups who took workshops to understand their significance so that they could be created out of love and respect.


I spoke with a Latina woman who was laying out a lovely offerenda she was decorating with feather headdresses, photographs and items of significance or that were favorite things of her departed loved ones. She told me about her father who had passed only one year ago, and her grandmother and aunt. She sadly told of how quickly “the cancer” took one of her relatives and smiled sharing fond memories others.

I then spoke with a Chinese American woman who wanted to take my photograph since I was in costume and we shared stories of observances in our own pre-United States cultures (in my case, Irish) that were similar to Dia De Los Muertos,

I saw people of all ages, classes, cultures and ethnicities come together to learn, share and remember their departed loves one who live in our hearts and stories. I watched people of diverse political leanings learn about another culture at a deeper and more personal level than before. I witnessed healing.

If you didn’t make it this year, you need to put it on your calendar for next year. I certainly hope that the museum will continue to provide this amazing, free event to the community.


There is still time to “get your dead on”. Tonight, on 6th Avenue there is a Dia De Los Muertos

Doors will open at the Studio 6 Ballroom Event space, 2610 6th Avenue, at 4:00 PM for face painting, creating and local vendor setup.

At 6:00 PM a procession will move down 6th Ave, many participants carrying paper mache figures they created in workshops.

At 7:00 PM, there will be live music, celebration and activities back at the event space lasting until 9:00 PM.

Come join your community and departed loves ones, for death is not to be feared, it is part of life and the end, is just the beginning.

I leave you with a charming short film showing a little girl discovering Dia De Los Muertos

Gun Control – A post that will likely piss off both sides…

I’ve remained silent on the issue of gun control for some time now.

This is not because I don’t care or don’t have an opinion (I have lots of them) it’s because I see too much emotion, hysteria, knee jerk reactions, use of tragedy to promote a political agenda and unreasonableness on both sides of the issue, and I prefer to wait until a calm, reasonable discussion can be had when topics are this important.

I have opinions that support both sides of the issue, so this post is likely to piss off everyone who has a strong opinion, but such is life.

Most important, I have professional training and experience that may help clear up some misinformation about the use of firearms.

I am a gun owner. My weapons are registered and I have a concealed carry permit.

I am well trained in not only their use, but in the ethical implications of their use because I am a former federal law enforcement officer.

No matter what a lay person sees on television, you do not “shoot someone in the leg to wound/stop them” or brandish a weapon in an attempt to “scare” them. Pulling a gun ALWAYS escalates a situation.

The ONLY reason to pull a weapon is to STOP the threat (here’s a hint, “shoot to stop” is the phrase that replaced “shoot to kill”) because you believe your life or the life of someone in your care is in imminent danger (and you better be able to articulate that in a court of law)

If someone who is amped up on enough adrenaline to need to pull a weapon in the first place tired to hit an arm or a leg, it’s not going to work; the only safe shot to take in order to hit anything is center of mass (go through some professional tactical training if you don’t believe me)

Even if someone could “shoot to wound” you know what happens? The arm or leg will be missed multiple times before it is hit (if it is ever hit) putting everyone else in the area in danger and creating more victims.

If you can not articulate in a court of law why your life or the life of someone else was in immediate danger and lethal force was the only (last) option, then you have no business pulling a gun out of it’s holster.

There is ONE reason to pull a weapon and that is to kill someone.

If someone is not mentally, physically and emotionally prepared to do that, a gun is not for them and will most likely hurt or kill them or someone else who is not the intended target.  They should not own, carry nor keep one in their home.

The first day of my law enforcement academy, our RTO asked us a question. “How many of you could take a human life?”

Half of the class either didn’t raise their hands at all or hesitated so long that it was a moot point. Only a handful of the other half, myself included put our hands up without hesitation.

“All of you that hesitated… You’re DEAD… Because the time it took you to decide that, gave someone else the time they needed to kill you.” He chastised.

Why did I not hesitate? Because I’ve seen what humans are capable of doing to one another. As a paramedic and one who had already worked in field law enforcement, I saw things I can’t tell regular people about at all. In addition to the horrendous things I’ve seen done to others, I’ve had people try to kill me.

Yes, given the right circumstances, I am capable of it.

With that said, I’m grateful that in my years working law enforcement, that I never had to un holster my weapon anywhere but on the range (I’ve had my holster unsnapped and had my hand on it however) Thankfully, I have been able to defend myself with a baton and/or my hands.

Despite what those who hate police like to think/espouse no one (barring mental illness/hatred bordering on mental illness) wants to take a human life in that manner. Those I have known who have had to make that choice are forever changed, forever haunted and damaged by the most terrible (and split second) decision one can be required to make.

The first thing that the self proclaimed constitutional scholars throw out there is the second amendment to the constitution.

Let’s take a look at it, shall we?

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed

The words that so many zealots find inconvenient is the part about the “well regulated militia”. This does not appear to give everyone the right to an insane arsenal of assault weapons.

With that said, there are many texts that list the following pre constitution reasons for the right to bear arms (sorry, if it’s not getting graded or paid for, I’m not citing multiple sources on my lunch break… you all know how to use the internet)

• Enabling the people to organize a militia system
• participating in law enforcement;
• deterring tyrannical government;
• repelling invasion;
• suppressing insurrection, allegedly including slave revolts;
• facilitating a natural right of self-defense;

I didn’t see hunting on that list, but I would add it myself.

Sorry folks, but cruelly treated factory farmed meat is much less humane and healthy than hunting.

But in the name of brevity (and to illustrate my point), let’s just say that we have no right to bear arms except as part of a “well organized militia”.

Let’s say that “guns are banned”.

I ask those who want “all guns off the street” how exactly they plan on facilitating that plan of action?

The guns are already out there; the genie is out of the bottle people… and there is no way of getting it back in.



Should the military go door to door and search every home, every car, go through every back alley and dig holes in people’s back yards?

There’s another “pesky” little constitutional issue there; it’s called the 4th amendment which protects us from unreasonable search and seizure.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

As much as I hate to say it, “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” it’s true.

Yes, horrific incidents occur when legally purchased guns are stolen/not secured, but in my opinion, the answer to that is education and to enforce the laws that we already have and to close loopholes.

All you’re going to have by pushing for a total gun ban is unarmed innocent people who are easy prey for the criminals, who do not acquire their weaponry through legal channels in the first place and have already shown blatant disregard for the law.

The whole idea of “arming teachers” is ludicrous at best; dangerous and negligent in common practice and criminal at worst.

The fact is, that not everyone is cut out to safely and responsibly carry/handle/use a firearm. Putting them in the hands of people who are not is no solution, it just exacerbates the problem.

I have mixed feelings on gun registration. On one hand, we have to register our cars; on the other, it’s an expensive program, another layer of government and will have no effect on criminals.

I wish I had an “easy” solution for all of this, but I don’t believe there is one.

So here are a few ideas I have floating around in my head.

* Education

* Training

* Teaching our children to value human life

* Better mental health care for EVERYONE

* Enforce the laws we already have on the books

* Hold people responsible for their weapons/choices

* Stop glorifying “thug life”

I’m sure I’ve pissed everyone on both sides off with this post.

GOOD! That means I’ve made you think.

We have a problem with gun violence in this country.  To believe or say otherwise is naive at bests.  I won’t bore you with statistics; they are readily available and all show one thing, the United States has a outrageously higher rate of gun violence than any other developed country.

The question at hand is “How do we deal with it?”

We need people to calm the heck down (the hysterical partisan BS I’ve seen from both sides doesn’t do anyone any good), think rationally and work cooperatively together for solutions.


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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

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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.


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.


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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.


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

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

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Lifelong Passions

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


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