Friday, January 9, 2015

It Gets Better at Everett, Shoreline, and Lacey Fire Departments

Fire halls aren't the poster child for diversity. But three Puget Sound departments are trying to change that, and welcome a new generation into the fire service.

That's the inspiration behind the new video from the Everett, Shoreline, and Lacey Fire Departments released as part of the It Gets Better Project. Launched in 2010 by Seattle columnist Dan Savage, the campaign aims to reach out to gay and lesbian youth who may face harassment for their sexual orientations and has had participation from the likes of President Barack Obama and Kathy Griffin. Many teens can't see past the immediate, sometimes bleak, future of middle school and high school where they may fear for their safety and feel like they will never be accepted. That leads to depression for many, and desperation for others.

In this video, the firefighters tell their own stories of struggle growing up and how they've come into their own as adults.

Chrystal Murphy with Lacey Fire District Number Three grew up in southern California in a religious family, part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

"I remember being in school, asking girls out, feeling natural, feeling like everything was the way it was supposed to be and going to church and being told I was wrong," she said.

Everett Fire Captain Matthew Sorensen only came out last June. He was terrified growing up that he would be rejected.

"I think the fire service has remained one of the last places where it's difficult for LGBT people to come out because just traditionally, the fire service has attracted a lot of macho men," said Sorensen. "And there's this idea that to be anything than heterosexual somehow diminishes your masculinity."

That's why he was floored when his brothers in the hall embraced him for who he was. He says he got a flood of calls and emails supporting him.

Everett Fire Chief Murray Gordon has seen a cultural shift in the world around him, and on the job, in his 38 years with the Department. He says that's a good thing, and they're ready to welcome recruits of all stripes.

"When I began, the department was primarily white and its primary interest was to create a department that all looked alike, to create a department where we all thought the same way. I believe now the department is very interested in diversity, and the benefits of diversity. I believe the department is interested in each individual's experiences. And it's those experiences that make us a stronger department," said Gordon. "I'm here to tell you that it definitely gets better.

As much progress has been made, Shoreline Firefighter Jodi Denney said there's more to be done.

"We need you. We really need you," she said. "There is a lack of visibility and voices - coming out in America and coming out in the American Fire Service are not the same thing, and I get that. But if there's one message, I just want them to hear me say: we're here, and we need more of you, and when you're ready we will welcome you with open arms."

See the video for yourself right here. Warning - you may shed a tear (I did):

Monday, December 22, 2014

Santa's Back-up in Issaquah

Santa lands early at the Issaquah Police Department to see who's been naughty this year. (Image Courtesy the Issaquah Police Department)

This year, Santa has back up against thieves, thanks to the Issaquah Police Department. Police patrolling shopping center parking lots leading up to the holidays are on the look out for cars that might be easy targets for thieves, and putting their owners on the naughty list.

Police Sergeant Todd Johnson explains they’ve been seeing more and more car break-ins in during the holiday season in broad daylight. Many thieves turn opportunistic, looking for packages on front stoops and newly purchases presents in the backs of cars.

Johnson says he noticed some victims made it much easier for thieves.

“One of the main problems we noticed was cars were being left unlocked, high ticket, high theft items were being left in plain sight.”

That’s when they started putting car owners on notice, leaving notes.

“They’re little cards, they say Santa’s Naughty List and we have the hashtag #SantasBackup. Place these on the cars just as a kind of reminder this holiday season to try to keep those presents in the hands of your loved ones, versus getting stolen by someone and given away to their loved ones,” says Johnson.

Johnson says if he sees a new XBox in the back of a car, or even shopping bags, someone who might steal it can see it too. The cards are gentle reminders to put new purchases in the trunk, as well as other crime prevention tips.

So far, he says he’s gotten good feedback on the program.

“I was putting them on some cars and right after I put one on a car, the lady who owned it came up, and I just asked her what she thought of it," says Johnson. "She liked it, she actually thought it was a good idea as a reminder for her just to keep these items out of sight.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Turns out there is such a thing as too much Christmas cheer

Photo courtesy State Trooper Mark Francis (who is really cool and says this elderly couple got off with a warning)

That photo has a lot of Christmas cheer! Unfortunately, the decorations are illegal, which is what I found out when I spoke with Trooper Mark Francis with the State Patrol. There are strict regulations when it comes to Christmas decor. It's not a grinch move - it's actually all about safety.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Last-minute Christmas gift ideas (probably for the hipster in your life)

So I see you googled some version of what to get a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/hipster life partner/friend/crush/dog for Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus (really guys, is that still a thing?). Here are my suggestions for gift ideas that nobody else will be giving them. If you have suggestions to add, let me know in the comments!

1.  Maps Urbane - $29.95

Created by Hipster-Foodie-Intellectual Renaissance Men, these maps describe famous cities through their neighborhoods; and there are plenty of witty jokes for locals.

From decoding San Francisco's transit stops to making fun of Seattle's taco-toting-kayakers, it's a smart gift that says, "Hey! I have good taste! Aren't I witty and a thoughtful gift-giver?"

2. Private Anti-Piracy Navies: How Warships for Hire are Changing Maritime Security - $85

For the intellectual who might be interested in pirates, security, military, maritime trade... or just wants a coffee table book that makes them look really smart, this is an incredibly well-researched debut book by Claremont McKenna alumnus and Harvard graduate student John-Clark Levin.

3. Betabrand Reversible Smoking Jacket - $195-$225

For the hipster who has everything, this is the jacket equivalent of a mullet: it's reversible with a colorful brocade side and suave work-appropriate interior. Kick it up a notch. Live life on the edge, knowing that under your conservative work blazer a daring gentleman rages beneath.

4. For the Whiskey lover:  Blood and Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel ~ $21.95

One writer called the legendary tales of Jack Daniel taller than "Paul Bunyan on a step stool." This book charts the life of the legendary whiskey distiller from his poor upbringing to the elegant southern gentleman he became, with Civil War drama to boot. You can get the book at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or Half Price Books (for under $10)

Throw in a bottle of hooch and maybe some drinking accessories, and you have a great gift or a generous stocking stuffer.

5. Erynn Rose Photography Tilt-Shift Photos of Seattle ~$10 - $250

Tilt-shift is all the rage in photography, but Erynn Rose does it better and locally; he shoots both iconic and less famous Seattle landscapes, and even the most classic Seattle scenes are new again with his tilt-shift technique that makes people and skyscrapers look like they're doll house models.

I bought a metallic print of Gasworks Park for my sister's birthday and framed it with a vintage frame I got at Goodwill in Bellevue, so it was an affordable and really unique gift.

6. For Seattle movie lovers: Scarecrow Video gift card - ~ $25 - $50

The largest independent movie rental company in the COUNTRY, Scarecrow is a Seattle icon. They have new releases - even in 3D - and classics that are hard to find anywhere else, including Netflix.

If they're too lazy to make the trek to Scarecrow, you might consider buying them a subscription to Hulu Plus, which has holiday classics streaming online and gives you access to the Criterion Collection.

7. Dinner from Portillo's po' boy beef sandwiches - ~ $73.95

I personally have enjoyed these delicious, juicy sandwiches. Portillo's sends them to you frozen and vacuum-packed in Styrofoam with instructions on how to heat the gravy, the shredded beef (mouthwatering), and saucy green peppers. It also comes with hot pickled veggies. There are other options, but this is my favorite.

How could a sandwich that comes with two pages of instructions be a good gift? Let me tell you: it's worth it, and it's not something anyone else will get them. The food will also keep so they don't have to eat it right away.

8. "Gift certificate" for a fun activity

This is pretty obvious, but if you either don't have time to buy a gift or want to plan time to spend with someone, give them a gift certificate for day of fun - but plan it out, and have an itinerary written that comes with dates and times that you are available.

Video: The most epic Christmas yule logs of all time

Drama. Suspense. FIRE.

It's the Netflix Yule Log:

Very sassy, Netflix. I like it. Hulu for the Holidays and Amazon Instant Video both have their versions, but neither give you the same sense of danger and adventure.

If you're ready to make a nice cup of cocoa and hibernate for the winter, here are some more great fireplace dramas for your holiday season. Let me know your favorite in the comments below:

Yule log for cat lovers:

A new take on the classic cozy sitting room fire:

For country music fans - Brad Paisley Yule Log MTV series:

Christmas "fireplace" for Chemistry nerds:



Spangler effect dramatic lighting (and then kind of boring) "fireplace":

Sam Harris sexy music time Yule Log:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bunk beds are not as awesome when you're a grown-up

When you're five, bunk beds are awesome. They pretty much guarantee you a spot at the cool-kid table. And they're a status symbol - especially if you're on the top bunk. Even at ten, at fourteen a bunk-bed is the coolest bed (short of a hammock or living with wolves) you could ever hope for.

At 23, not so much.

 For one thing, the bunk bed that's been around since you were a kid has gotten creaky. So when you come home at 2am after a night out it's impossible to quietly drift off - you wake up the other person in the bunk bed: your 21-year-old sister, who happens to have the bottom bunk.

And it's not ideal to bring friends home... or a man friend...

 ("Want to come back to my place? I have a really sweet bunk bed...")

 And sometimes you have to deal with ladder malfunctions. (coming up next)

So I live in a bunk bed. I could move out. I could get a normal grown-up person apartment... but........

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The growing Sharknado threat

The Global Sharknado Threat
by johnmnelson.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Film studio The Asylum has been warning us for years of the growing threat, and only now in a time of global crisis when hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes are in the news daily have scientists taken heed.

The graphic above is a result of years and thousands of hours of manpower researching global weather trends and the possibility of hurricane-tornado updrafts resulting in the transfer of marine life to coastal land areas.

Scientists have warned of the cataclysmic results of global warming and climate change; thus, the growing threat of the Sharknado:

And while we're at it, let's not forget Asylum's other cautionary tale, Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus.