Category Archives: Uncategorized


I took 10 days at the end of December 2023 to go to Antarctica. I had no idea what to expect, other than penguins. I had a friend ask me what it was like, and he had done a stint in the Peace Corps in Namibia. I said, “Do you remember what it felt like when you got back from Africa?”

He said, “Yeah.”

I said, “It was like that.”

He said, “I totally get it.”

Having said that, I will try to share a few impressions.

Here is what I have to say about Antarctica. It is an incredibly beautiful place, unlike any place I’ve ever been. There is ocean, massive amounts of water, full of life – from the penguins porpoising through the water to the whales surfacing to breathe to the petrels flying above. Unseen to our eye is the phytoplankton and krill, which everything else in Antarctica eats. Literally every other animal eats krill. Side note, go watch Happy Feet 2 just for the krill subplot.

Antarctica 2023

There are towering mountains, covered with glaciers and ice, icebergs of all shapes, and very little color. The landscape is incredibly monochromatic, whites and shades of gray and black, with washes of blue in the sky and ice. The gentoo penguins have bright orange beaks, and I found some lichen but there is nothing that grows on the ground – other than moss. No trees, no bushes, no grass. It is wild beyond imagining, so vast, so incomprehensible.

Gentoo penguin

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the sky, ever changing. Sometimes blue, sometimes gray and full of clouds, and on one day it snowed all day. The weather was on our side. We were very lucky. There was a group two trips before us who started their time on the boat a day late and had to return to the continent a day early. It was summer there, and the sun set at 12:30 a.m. and rose at 2:30 a.m. I felt outside of time, suspended in this special place.


I know folks have a lot of questions, many around the logistics, so I have described them below.


Wednesday: left Seattle early in the morning.

Flew Seattle -> Miami -> Santiago -> Punta Arenas. This took ~30 hours

Thursday: arrived Punta Arenas 

Friday: day in Punta Arenas.

Saturday: took a 2 hour flight from Punta Arenas to Frei Station in the southern Shetland Islands. Got on a zodiac to the boat. Spent the afternoon getting various briefings about safety and what to expect.

Transit the Bransfield Strait overnight


Morning excursion: D’Hainaut Island, Mikkelsen Harbour

Afternoon excursion: zodiac cruise Cierva Cove

Monday: transit the Lemaire Channel

Morning excursion: Petermann Island

Afternoon excursion: Pleneau Island


Morning excursion: Neko Harbor (continental touch!)

Afternoon excursion: Cuverville Island

Transit the Bransfield Strait (12-foot swells thank you ZOFRAN)


Morning excursion: Deception Island (active volcano!!)

Afternoon excursion: Half Moon Island (chinstrap penguin chicks)

Thursday: reversed back. Got off ship and on zodiac from ship to shore at 8:00 a.m., waited for ~90 mins for plane to arrive, then flew back to Punta Arenas where we spent the night.

Friday: started return journey home. Punta Arenas -> Santiago -> Atlanta -> Seattle.

Saturday: arrived back in Seattle

click on the picture below to go to the full album (there are also some videos in there)


What I brought:

  • 2 pairs of fleece leggings
  • Rubber/waterproof pants
  • Heavy parka
  • Neck gaiter
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Warm wool socks (to wear with boots)
  • Long sleeve cotton shirts (if you sweat a lot I do not recommend cotton for a base layer)
  • 3 Smartwool tops
  • 1 lightweight wool/cashmere sweater
  • 1 heavy cashmere sweater
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand/body lotion
  • Camera
  • Phone
  • Binoculars
  • Plug adapters
  • Antinausea medication (we brought Zofran)

Depending on what operator you go with, you may have the option to rent things. The operator we took provided the boots. My sister also rented pants and a backpack. Our operator provided hiking sticks at every excursion.

Additionally, on our trip all of the expedition team were allowed and encouraged to intermingle with the guests, sitting with us at meals, etc. This is not the case on every boat. It’s worth finding out what the policy is. It made for a very intimate experience for us.

Let me know what questions you have! I will try to answer them for you.

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Why Borrow Poverty?

I saw a post on Instagram Annie had made about creating a necklace as a talisman for a client, and even though I’ve seen previous posts she’s made before, for some reason it clicked that I could ask for something now! But why now? Annie and I have had a connection about menstruation for several years now, and last winter I had talked to her about my experience around perimenopause. With the advent of the novel coronavirus in Feb/March and the increased level of change/uncertainty, I wanted something to ground myself as I move through this experience of my body changing. When I went through puberty I was very disconnected from my feelings. I often joked about wanting to be like Spock, and was very shut down around physical desire. As I’m transitioning to a new stage, I am incredibly aware of my emotional state as it changes. I like to joke that I am on the hormonocoaster.

When I talked to Annie about what I wanted, I threw a hundred ideas at her. There was Mary Ruefle’s poem, Pause and Ursula Le Guin’s essay, “The Space Crone,” which I have from her collection Dancing at the Edge of the World. Le Guin says, “… it seems a pity to have a built-in rite of passage and to dodge it, evade it, and pretend nothing has changed. That is to dodge and evade one’s womanhood, to pretend one’s like a man. Men, once initiated, never get the second chance. They never change again. That’s their loss, not ours. Why borrow poverty?” [emphasis mine]

As our conversation continued, I repeated something my therapist told me several years ago: “You don’t have control, but you have a choice.” As I go through this experience, I certainly don’t have control, but I can choose how I respond to what is happening. I likened this to Penelope, waiting for Odysseus to return, and how every day she would weave and every night she would undo her day’s work in order to delay potential suitors. She had no control over her situation, but she did have a choice as to how she would face it and where could exercise her choice.

I also asked Annie to make the earrings asymmetrical, to represent the unbalanced feeling, as well as three different phases of life. We talked about including rubies for menstrual blood, but also moonstone as a connection to the moon and space (crone!), as well as bloodstone.

I couldn’t be happier with what Annie created. I see all of the things we talked about in these earrings and that also gives me strength, a reminder of these various threads.
If you want to see Annie’s work, please visit her at her website, Dotted Line Jewelry

And here is what the earrings ended up looking like!

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Last week I was chatting with my friend M and she mentioned that she didn’t care for Weird Al. This was in response to another person saying that if someone didn’t like Weird Al, they could GTFO (essentially).

I can appreciate that desire to have everyone around you like the things you like, but I find life is so much more interesting and rich to surround myself with people who are interested and passionate about things that I am not. This was basically the toast I gave at my brother’s wedding.

super space titan kitty

I told my brother and his wife that passion is important in a marriage, but we often think of passion as the feeling between two people and leave it at that. I encouraged them to maintain their passions and interests in things outside each other, because that would keep their relationship fresh and interesting. When I go along for the ride with a friend’s passion, I get to experience something I never would have otherwise.

One of my brother’s passions is music. It is a touch point that connects us. I was a teenager when Tipper Gore founded the Parental Music Resource Center (PMRC), to label albums with explicit lyrics. It was rooted in her horror at discovering her 13-year old daughter was listening to a Prince song that talked about masturbation. The intention of PMRC was to raise awareness for parents about the music their children were listening to, it also made my local music store restrict the age of customers who could purchase those albums. When I was 18, I went to Specs with my brother so we could purchase the Guns N Roses album, Appetite for Destruction. We went up to the register where my brother handed me the album and the money. I passed them to the clerk, who rang it up and then gave me the album and the change, which I returned to my brother.

Fast forward a decade, and I’m now living in Seattle. My brother has graduated college as well and is living on the west coast. His favorite band, the Beastie Boys, is doing a west coast tour and he and a few friends decide to follow them for a few shows. He stops in Seattle for one of them.

I love telling this story, because it was an epic event. The concert is held in an arena (at the Seattle Center for those who know it), and the show is staged “in the round.” The stage is in the center of the floor and spins, like a lazy susan. The crowd completely surrounds the stage, separated from the performers by a 6 or 7 foot security moat. We sit up in the stands and can watch all the action on the floor. We see a few circles in the crowd where people are moshing, and it’s amazing to watch the energy ripple and flow through the crowd.

Every so often someone tries to breach the security moat and get on the stage, but they are dragged down by the security folks. UNTIL one guy does it. The band is performing the song “Sure Shot” and this guy somehow pops up on the stage! He whips out a throwaway instant camera and while being chased by security, he stops and snaps a selfie with at least two of the band members. Just as it seems security is going to nab him, he runs to the edge of the stage and LEAPS OFF, clearing the moat and falling into the crowd, who catch him and swallow him up. The crowd roars for their hero and the security folks are probably telling the story to this day, not to mention my brother and I like to share this memory and revisit it. I just had to ask him what the song was, as a matter of fact, since I couldn’t tell you a single one they performed.

A couple years ago, the musical Hamilton hit the zeitgeist. I heard friends raving about it online and sought it out. My brother remained clueless about this one, until his daughter brought it to his attention, and he became a fan. I love this thread connecting us through time and space, and seeing his daughter picking up the tradition thrills me.

Sometimes other people’s passions become integrated into my own spheres, but often they are something I enjoy vicariously. It adds color and dimension to my life, sometimes turns my brain inside-out and makes me think about things in different ways, and always challenges me to give something a try. Except shrimp. Sorry Mom, I still hate shrimp.

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Bobbleheads and Giveaways

A year and a half ago I wrote about why I loved baseball.

When I enter a baseball stadium, it’s a form of time travel. The air holds all of the space-time continuum, and I sit there with the crowds and my family, connected throughout history to the present. And that is why I love baseball.


My team at work has gone to a baseball game the last two summers, and I was talking to my girlfriend about it on Monday, wondering when we would go again. On Tuesday I learned that we were going to a game the NEXT DAY. When I got home, my girlfriend mentioned that there would be a bobblehead giveaway. I thought there was no way I would get a bobblehead.

So imagine my surprise when we got to the ballpark and they were still giving them away! I didn’t realize at the time, but it turned out there were two figures, or twin figures if you will. I think of all the baseball giveaways I’ve received (this brings the grand total to two as far as I can recall), twin Ichiros beats out the Minnesota Twins rain ponchos.

Double Ichiro!

Ichiro played for Seattle for 12 years, and Seattle fans STILL love him. He plays right field, and we got to sit behind him. Just like the days when Edgar Martinez played, the fans call out his name, the three syllables stretched out in a haunting chant.

I love to watch him at bat, when he extends his bat and swings it in a circle, then points it directly at the pitcher before shouldering it. Unfortunately I have no pictures of him at bat, because I only had my phone. So have this horrible picture of him in right field instead.


My brother reports that he keeps his bobbleheads on the dash of his car. I have no car, so I’m trying to find a place in my apartment. And just like the no-hitter game I attended, I shared my bobblehead joy with my dad and brother.

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Why I March

I’ve seen people asking with true curiosity why people were marching yesterday. I marched in Seattle.

Here are a few reasons why I marched: Because my feminism is intersectional. Because Black Lives Matter. Because police need to be accountable to the communities they serve. Because too many people are still disenfranchised from voting. Because treaties between sovereign nations need to be respected. Because women should have control over our bodies. Because access to healthcare saves lives. Because ADA and DARE and DACA. Because I’m mad as hell. Because I voted with the majority.


My friend Brigid made this hat for me. She wasn’t able to march, but she was with us! I have so many friends who weren’t able to march, for a variety of reasons – from health to access to family obligations to work. I marched for them, too.

Pussy hat


Over 130K people marched in Seattle. I heard an estimate as high as 175K. They were expecting 30-50K. This was true of every march around the country. The turnout was phenomenal. The day was peaceful and friendly. Saw a lot of signs, but these lined up so beautifully. The future is female.

The future is female

As we waited to leave the park, a pair of bald eagles soared overhead in a benediction. I thought how the bald eagle is the symbol of America, how it was brought to the brink of extinction, of the legacy of grassroots movements and the formation of the EPA (which I will note, was under Nixon who was hostile to environmental protections).


Because I know that when people get together and push for change, change happens. Because I want to control my story, not live a script someone else has written for me. Because in the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, love is love is love.

Women's march collage

The puppet at the bottom is Wangari Maathai, who won a Nobel peace prize for teaching women how to plant trees in Kenya.


There are many ways to make our voices heard. Marching is one, but if you didn’t march yesterday, there are other ways to participate. I encourage you to contact your elected officials. Calling is the most effective, but if that’s too scary, email or write letters. If you can, donate money to local organizations. Yesterday was just the beginning. I will leave you with some resources. Find a way to engage. Here is a list I’ve compiled. I encourage you to find at least one weekly action you can do. Several of the resources have suggestions for concrete actions you can take. Collectively, we will make a difference.

And as a final reminder, always take care.

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Me and the Octopus

Octopus mural by Henry

I posted the above image on Instagram and a friend asked me why I love 🐙. I have a feeling she isn’t the only one who is curious.

I started using the emoji as a stand-in for every emoji, because I didn’t understand what most of them meant. I felt the most affinity for the octopus emoji of all the animals. I often feel awkward, like I have too many limbs and I don’t have full control over them.

Octopi are incredibly smart, but most people overlook them. They are judged as alien, foreign, weird, strange and slimy. In other words, gross. They are also incredibly clever and graceful animals. I just read an article in the New York Times that talked about how they are a type of mollusk, but since they don’t have a hard shell to protect them, they had to get clever to outwit predators.

I aspire to be as clever as those octopi.

I’ll leave you with this little story. I was talking to someone at work who is more technical than I am. He was making fun of cosplayers – people who dress up in costume like characters from different media – tv, movies, comic books, etc. I said to him, “I might look normal, but I keep my tentacles tucked up under my skirt.”

I’m learning to let them out more these days, and if I thwack you with a tentacle, I’ll try to be gentle.

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I am not writing


I am not writing about another man with black skin who was shot and killed by a person in a uniform and I’m not writing about the man with orange hair who spouts words like a whale exhales. I’m not writing about the thousands and hundreds of thousands of people who are displaced from their homes due to violence or due to flooding or drought, famine or pestilence or illness. I’m not writing about the woman running, running, running and still being judged as not being good enough. I’m not writing about the men kneeling in silent dissent nor the men yelling as spittle flies off their lips. I’m not writing about my city apportioning dollars to lock up more youth and spend more money on militarizing the police.

I’m not writing about how the words all turn into lumps in my throat, because I get to be comfortable and I do not have to give children lessons in how to navigate a system that would rather they are dead.

I’m not writing about the lessons I learned growing up, as a Jewish child, about Auschwitz and Hitler and Nazis. I repeat the stories about people being rounded up, being catalogued and herded on trains. I always wondered why people never did anything, even when they knew. But I know what is happening and I have no fucking clue how to change it. I despair. I fear I’m a coward.

I bear witness to countless stories, the refrains echo, and the chorus grows bigger. My heart continues to break, beyond what I thought possible. This is not my pain. I don’t have answers.

I am not writing, but I am listening.

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Last week a friend of mine asked me what my favorite song was. I have to admit, I’m not much of an audiophile. I enjoy music mostly as a sensory experience, and if it doesn’t sound pleasant, I tend not to like it much. There aren’t many songs where I listen to the lyrics, too. So when he asked me that question, I had to go with “Long Road/Long Ride Home” by Patty Griffin (I’m not sure what the actual title is; I’ve seen both).

car lights

I started to tell him the story in the song, about a man whose wife has died and he is thinking back about their marriage. It’s this verse that gets me:

Forty years go by with someone laying in your bed
Forty years of things you say you wish you’d never said
How hard would it have been to say some kinder words instead
I wonder as I stare up at the sky turning red

I love this song because it makes me feel something deeply, and there isn’t a lot of music that does that for me. Also, I feel grateful that my relationship isn’t full of regret, like the person in this story.

You can go listen to the song here.

What songs do you love?

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A Personal History With The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

I invited my friend Danielle to write a blog post about her experience surrounding the Malheur NWR, based on a longish comment she left on Facebook. What she sent to me gave me chills. I really hope you will take the time to read the full piece. It is worth your time. And thank you, Danielle, for trusting me to share your story.

gembalaheadshot_02 small
Wearing the stereotypical pith helmet as a joke for a photoshoot at Fort Vancouver. Photo Credit: Bean and Sprout Photography.


I have struggled with a lot of deep pain and anguish since I first saw the Bundy militia show up in Burns, Oregon to protest the prison sentence of Steven and Dwight Hammond for arson on BLM lands in 2001 and 2005.

Part of it is because I spent part of my childhood in Ontario, Oregon. My grandparents were farmers in Vale, and my father loved hunting, fishing, and being outdoors. I spent a great deal of time following him through the beautiful rivers, streams, lakes, canyons and mountains of the High Desert. We didn’t live in Burns, but we spent time around there, too.

My fifth grade class at Alameda Elementary in Ontario spent the year studying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Our art projects involved constructing a color guidebook of the different bird species there and habitat collages of the different species. Our spelling words were the names of birds, plants, and natural features. Our history lessons were about the rich prehistory of the area, learning about how millions of indigenous people who thrived in the lakes, and the ways early farmers used the lands. We did science experiments about caves. It culminated in a five day field trip to the Station, where we followed the amazing rangers and scientists recording and watching the birds, preserving their habitats, and the rich cultural history of the area. I discovered that the HQ building was built on a significant prehistoric village built by the Wadatika, ancestors of the Burns Paiute.

I will never forget the moment when our ranger guide pointed out the two snowy owlets in a nest above us, blinking at the gaggle of noisy kids.
Malhuer trip 1988
Malheur trip 1988: My friends Sally and Shawna. This is the only photo I have of that trip to the Refuge in 1988, taken the same day as that fateful moment with the owlets because all of my photos were destroyed in a flood in 2005. Photo Credit, Danielle D.M. Gembala

I stumbled over a projectile point on the ground that had been scuffed up by the feet that had walked before me.

That had been put there by feet that had walked this same ground so very long ago.

But that isn’t the only reason the Bundy militia in the Malheur Refuge bothers me.

I realized, growing up among ranchers and farmers, loggers and hunters, miners and lawyers, that we don’t know what is under our feet, that surrounds us. The beauty of. Not until it is gone. I realized that our ignorance, our blind focus on our own use and ideas of the land often leads to tragic consequences for everyone.

I decided I could change that. That I would use my own experience and knowledge as a voice.


Two Dragon Camp 1996
1996: Me at Two Dragon Camp, a Chinese mining site in the the Wallowa Whitman National Forest. Photo Credit, Gary Keenan.

I worked first for the Forest Service as a volunteer while doing my undergraduate honor’s thesis and my master’s research on the archaeology and vernacular architecture of 19th century Chinese mining site in the Wallowa Whitman National Forest and Italian railroad camps over Santiam Pass in the Willamette National Forest.

I went on to study archaeology in graduate school at the University of Washington in 1998.

After my first year in school, I went to Russia to excavate at Pavlinovo, an Iron Age fortress in Western Siberia. While driving through the countryside, our driver pulled a sharp U-turn and I heard gunfire. I knew only three phrases in Russian, but the French archaeologists sitting next to me told me that the driver had to evade crooked police stopping vehicles at a roadblock, because they’d gotten word “Western foreigners” were in the area. These same police later searched our camp, so the few “Westerners” hid in tents occupied by the students from Belarus while the police searched the rest of the camp. I suspect someone bought them off.

Archaeological excavations at Pavlinovo, and Iron Age archaeological site, Kaluga Oblast, Western Siberia. 1999. Photo Credit, Danielle D.M. Gembala

I was bitten by giant mosquitoes, had to eat, drink, and bathe in dangerously polluted water, and witnessed a lot of shady mafia-esque activities. It was uncomfortable, but an adventure. When I learned my colleagues face similar dangers here, I realized that I didn’t need to go far for danger if I wanted it.

Soon after, a colleague invited me to work with her in Bosnia to help identify human remains in mass graves. I declined. I was in grad school, and I had just returned from Russia. I wasn’t ready to be shot at again, and I wasn’t sure I had the strength to face that level of horror.

Instead, I interned at the Burke Museum, where I worked in a room down the hall from The Ancient One, a.k.a. Kennewick Man, while Army Corps of Engineers archaeologists cataloged and studied the bones during the drawn-out lawsuit. It turned out to be a horror in my own backyard.

I listened to native peoples’ stories, and wept at the tragedies I have been part of. That I’ve benefitted from. I have held hands with people who have had all they know taken from them systematically, then erased because they are not descended from white Europeans.

I learned that it isn’t enough to put artifacts in collections and preserve them. They need to be touched, to be accessible, to be known to remain important.

So, I joined several museologists and local tribal members in a project to take their hidden cultural heritage and make it accessible, touchable, available to children in tribal schools, and to the public in the Archaeology of West Point Burke Box education kits.

Station Camp photo
Station Camp Photo: Analyzing Fire Cracked Rock (FCR) in a frigid lab at Middle Village/Station Camp in 2005. Photo Credit, Melissa Darby.

After I received my masters in 2001, I moved back to Oregon, and worked for many years as an archaeologist for Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver, Washington. Our team worked at sites and with collections from around the Pacific Northwest, including Fort Clatsop and Middle Village/Station Camp at the mouth of the Columbia River, and Cathlapotle at the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. I gave countless tours of the park’s amazing collection, and instructed new students and volunteers in active excavations and laboratory work to preserve the past, on public display for visitors every single day of my job.

Analyzing metal artifacts in the archaeological lab at Fort Vancouver NHS in 2006. Photo Credit, National Park Service, Fort Vancouver NHS.

I spent over a decade protecting our nation’s heritage and natural resources from people like the Hammonds and these so-called patriots. I attended conferences with antiquities law enforcement officers, and conducted numerous interventions with people attempting to destroy archaeological heritage on our lands. I spent countless unpaid hours developing outreach programs for children and adults to educate people about our natural and cultural heritage, to attempt to change how we approach conservation and historical preservation by making it more accessible and more important to everyone.

I learned how to engage in the difficult, daily dialectic with people who think that their want to use the land in a particular way constitutes a right, not the misplaced privilege that it has been.

I fought to educate people who support and have engaged in riding ATVs through protected habitats and cultural landscapes, intervened with friends who argued for setting back-burn fires, letting them know how they endanger historic structures and landscapes let alone lives and habitats, talked with poachers who chafe at being restricted from “their” forests by “environmentalist hippies” like me.

I’ve sat with developers who want to build roads through prehistoric villages. Given tours to congressional staff members who want to please someone higher up the food chain by making a highly visible project happen regardless of the laws right now, dammit. Congressional staff who work for politicians who get paid by lobbyists who will benefit from their plans to privatize the entire parks system.

I’ve intervened when hot-shot Forest Service crews wanted to trample over extant historic log structures in order to practice fire suppression. I’ve called the police and helped guide them to meth-heads who want to collect metal artifacts to sell for scrap at a historic site. I’ve stopped construction workers who just want to dig that damn hole right through a privy once used by Ulysses S. Grant, on the edge of a cemetery with Native American remains in it. I’ve argued with ranchers who want to graze cattle on public lands so that they profit on directly on the destruction of delicate riparian zones and wildflower habitats, had beer with loggers who want to destroy watersheds for steelhead and salmon. I’ve taught pothunters and “collectors” who loot artifacts and sell off antiquities to form that funnel to an international black market, aka “recreational metal detecting.”

These last ones are the most dangerous. I’ve had multiple law enforcement officers report that illicit antiquities are used to funnel money into most drug, weapons, and human trafficking organizations all the way up to international warlords and cartels. The site Conflict Antiquities has a trove of examples, if you have the heart to read the heartbreaking stories there.

That trail starts with the arrowhead and potsherd enthusiasts.

I lived this for a decade, committed to the mission of preservation, education, and conservation. I’ve been personally threatened. I know people who have been shot at while surveying for pipelines, people who have been threatened. I had to quit when the backbreaking pace of this work threatened to kill me after I was diagnosed with a progressive congenital neurological disorder.

We don’t get paid much. I was paid less than the entry-level construction workers I supervised. We don’t do it for the Indiana Jones-style hats, or the glory of being covered in the dirt, or living out of suitcases, waking up arthritic and bruised after another day in the hot sun, or even the non-existent sweet, sweet gold nuggets that everyone asks us if we’ve found yet.

We do this because we all believe in the importance of knowing where we come from so that we know where we are going. Because we believe this is important for all of us, not just us history nerds.

My colleagues have died — and are dying — to protect the past in multiple parts of the world, including the United States.

My heart is in my throat for the rangers and scientists who work for the Forest Service and BLM right now. This is not because I think they will be shot at. Well, partially that.

It is because I fear that all we have done has not been enough to make people aware why this is so wrong, and the desperate pain that arises when you’ve given your life to this greater cause only to have everyone turn their back and say, “Who cares. It’s just a wildlife refuge in the middle of nowhere Oregon. Let them burn the place down.”


The Bundy mob stated they want to open the Malheur Wildlife Refuge and the surrounding lands to ranchers, that the “best possible outcome” will be that the government will “relinquish control” over “their” land and that what they are doing is not “rebellious” but in accordance with the “Constitution.”

These are the same people who have organized ATV trail rides through cultural heritage sites in Utah that are off limits because the mere touch by human hands can destroy what has survived for millennia. They support the “American Lands Council” who argue that all public lands have been “taken from them” by the government. While I agree in some cases with eminent domain cases here and there, by-and-large, the same politicians behind these movements are paid by lobbyists for international corporations who would benefit from the wholesale opening of public lands for stockholder gain for mining, water, agriculture, etc.

You and I, the common citizen, would not benefit in any way. We would probably lose a great deal of our treasures if the American Lands Council got their way.

They use the imagery of Wounded Knee and the history of Native American genocide as symbols of their anti-government movement, while benefitting from the privilege of being on the “winning side” of that war of conquest.

My experience is that these people have no respect for heritage other than their radically skewed version of the past. They have have absolutely no respect for science, for culture, for heritage. They have no understanding of what lies beneath their feet, what is or isn’t a common good, other than how it reflects their shortsighted, narcissistic, vision of the world: a vision that reflects a white man carrying a gun and doing whatever he wants whenever he wants, no matter what anyone else wants or needs.

The Constitution says they can believe that. It is a free country.

Until they use their power, their force, their ignorance, and their hypocritical symbols of “justice” and “Constitutional Rights” to force the government to bend to their personal vision of a world in which “public lands” are theirs to use as they wish, whenever they wish.

The FBI considers domestic terrorism as:

  • Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
  • Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
  • Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

And that:

18 U.S.C. § 2332b defines the term “federal crime of terrorism” as an offense that:

  • Is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct; and
  • Is a violation of one of several listed statutes, including § 930(c) (relating to killing or attempted killing during an attack on a federal facility with a dangerous weapon); and § 1114 (relating to killing or attempted killing of officers and employees of the U.S.).

They are carrying guns. They have told media that they will resort to violence if law enforcement attempts to remove them from federal property. They want to take lands we stole from the people who came before us, a place Teddy Roosevelt set aside for all of us in 1908, and make it into a cattle ranch for their fun and profit. They want to subvert our justice system in order to support two arsonists who poached, burned, and consistently opposed efforts to conserve habitats in areas that are environmentally very sensitive to fire and grazing.

Nevermind that this is the same justice system that a few days ago failed to indict a police officer for shooting of Tamir Rice, a black twelve-year-old child for carrying a toy gun in a park because he was a reasonably suspicious threat.

They are no different than ISIS, who use the same weapons to dismantle the archaeological sites in Iraq and Syria than they do to kill their own people. Who are selling artifacts on the international black market to fund their terrible war to make the world into their radical vision. They are no different than the Taliban, who did the same in Afghanistan. Or the junta who took over Myanmar and destroyed much of the Buddhist heritage there, or the Nazis, who looted and pillaged their way across Europe and North Africa. Or the British in India, or the Americans in North America. The list is really endless.

This is a tactic of terror, conquest, and control.

If you feel any of this is wrong as I do, I’ve learned something else working in public service.

You have a voice as a citizen, while the government employees are tied by bureaucracy and the silence of ethics.

You can call your elected officials, local and national. The Oregon governor, Kate Brown.

Talk to your neighbors, your kids, people you meet online and around town. Educate yourself. Educate others. Be vocal. Be an advocate. For it is all of our future that is at stake, here.

But most of all, please, do not mistake the fact that they haven’t “shot at anyone yet” for peaceful intent. They are not peaceful. They are not patriots. They are not protesters.

They want what is all of ours for their own. And they will kill to get it.

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World (series) Enough and Time

The first game of the World Series started tonight.

The only sport I grew up knowing anything about or having any regular interaction with was baseball. My grandmother used to tell us stories about her father taking her to see Babe Ruth play. Baseball is a powerful through-line for me in my family history.

For a couple of years we lived in South Dakota, within spitting distance of Minneapolis/St. Paul, and more importantly, the Minnesota Twins. My father was thrilled to take his twins to a Twins game. We were supposed to get rain ponchos as a giveaway, but for some reason, we didn’t get them. So my dad wrote them a letter and we received them. A triumph, even if they were crappy!

Go team! Team bonding :). ⚾️

We moved to Florida when I was nine. Our hometown was also the spring training location for the Kansas City Royals. Terry Field felt like it was on the other side of the state, but I still felt their presence in town. My brother played in Little League, and one of the men who was deeply involved with Little League had ties to the MLB. We went to all my brother’s games, and worked the concessions. This was the mid-80s, and these cute little kids would come up to the window and ask for a “suicide” – a soda that was a mix of all the flavors.

A quick aside: when my brother was probably about 10, he had two loves – baseball and mythology. When we would have guests over, he would ask them, “What would prefer to talk about? Baseball or mythology?” We would not-so-silently urge the guest to pick mythology!

In 1986, the Little League bigwig scored tickets to the World Series games. To this day I don’t quite understand how it works, but it involved buying tickets for all the possible combinations and then getting refunds on the games that didn’t happen. So my dad got two tickets to a couple of the games in New York City. It was the Mets against the Boston Red Sox (I will admit I had to look that up). While my dad and brother went to the games, my mom and my sister and I traipsed around the city and shopped. I got a denim jacket that I never felt cool in, but did manage to decorate over the years with lots of fantastic buttons. I remember my dad and brother coming back from the game, elated, and regaling us with tales of rats in the subway. It seemed so horrifying and exotic all at the same time.

But I digress. Eventually my brother stopped playing baseball and I went to college and moved far away. And yet .. whenever I hear about a game, there’s a flicker of connection. I think about my grandmother, going to see Babe Ruth. And all the games I watched with my family. And then the games I’ve gone to, even when separated by a continent. When I was in Japan two years ago, even there I was thrilled to see on the news that the Hiroshima team had made it into their playoffs.

I’m sure people more eloquent than I have waxed prophetic about their love of the game. I wouldn’t know about that. I can’t speak to strategy or athleticism. I can’t even really talk about the history of the sport, although I did love A League of Their Own.

In August I got to go to a game through work. It was a shutout no-hitter, and only the 5th in Mariner’s history. I texted my brother about it, and he told our father. The next thing I know, my dad is talking to me about it. It was another fabulous stitch.

When I enter a baseball stadium, it’s a form of time travel. The air holds all of the space-time continuum, and I sit there with the crowds and my family, connected throughout history to the present. And that is why I love baseball.

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