Up Mt. Diablo

Last weekend we had a break in the rain and decided to get out of the house.  So we loaded up in the van and drove up Mt. Diablo (we've never been up before).  And then hiked around the top.

From the observation deck, which appears to be almost brand new.  The view is pretty spectacular, especially when everything is green.

I let Heather use my binoculars and she thought it was pretty great to look at anything and everything through them--even if it was only 3 feet away.

Out hiking the summit-loop trail:

Corinne thought climbing rocks and walking the paths was pretty awesome, but that wasn't going to be feasible once we got on the actual trail around the summit.  She wasn't enthused about the backpack at first, but once we got moving she was fairly pleased.

It was nice to get out and about, even if it took almost an hour to get up the mountain.  There was a line at the entrance gate that was moving incredibly slowly.  And then while we were waiting an ambulance and fire truck came up and passed us.  I'm sure taking the firetruck up the mountain with all the switchbacks and narrow lanes must have been fun.  I'm not sure what the correct protocol would have been if you had met the firetruck while coming down as the firetruck was coming up on the wrong side while passing all of the cars stopped waiting for the gate.  There wasn't room to go anywhere except in reverse.

The firetruck came down shortly thereafter, but we never saw the ambulance again.  So it must have gone down the northern entrance.

Worry, Concern, and Hope

I worry.

I worry the country will be a worse place when my girls grow up.

I worry our nation will blind itself to its faults.

I worry that anger and violence will increase.


I recognize that surrounding every atrocity has been a society of good people quietly saying, "That will never happen here.  We're better than that.  Let's just keep our heads down and get through this."

How does one find a balance between wariness, activism, fear, and over-reaction?

I don't know.

Are people in the U.S. currently over-reacting to President-elect Trump's language, decisions, and actions?  I hope so.  For it to be an over-reaction means things aren't really as bad as they might seem.

Four years ago I wrote about the dangers of nationalism.  That post is more relevant now that it was then.  Please go read it.

I am greatly concerned that President-elect Trump regularly, publicly attacks, demeans, and insults any opposition to his actions or opinions.  No one likes being the subject of public ridicule and I am concerned people will keep their mouths shut to avoid this treatment rather than oppose him.

I am concerned that dissent will be suppressed.

I am concerned that President-elect Trump seems to be gathering a body of "loyalists" to surround him in Washington rather than competent and qualified individuals (even if I disagree with their views).

I am concerned that many people no longer feel safe going about their day.

I am concerned that an elected State Representative was harassed and berated for her religion and ethnicity during a cab ride in the nation's capital.

I am concerned that the next few years may be marked by conflict escalation between Trump supporters and opponents.

I am concerned that the next 20 years in the United States may subject us to some type of nationalistic violence within our borders.


I hope these concerns are unfounded.

I hope for peaceful dissent and respectful disagreement.

I hope for a nation that can recognize it has faults even if we disagree on how to fix them.

I hope the country is a better place for my girls when they grow up.

I hope.

Heather's First Day of TK

Today was Heather's first day of public school: Transitional Kindergarten.  TK was created when they moved the enrollment cutoff from Dec 31 to Sep 1.  It's billed as helping the kids prepare, but it's only for the kids born during Sep-Dec.  Which makes no sense since those kids will now be the oldest in their classes.  The only logical explanation I can come up with is that it only exists to appease the families that weren't planning on paying for another year of daycare.  Which, to me, means it should have only existed for a couple of years while the school system transitioned.  But it's here to stay even though it makes no sense.

Anyway, Heather falls in that range so she's enrolled.  5 hours every day.

She had a blast.  So hopefully that continues.

In the morning, ready to walk to school:

IMGP5390a IMGP5390a_01

I held my off-camera flash arms-length to my left which filled in nicely I think.

Coming out when school was over:


And Corinne coped by perching herself on the window sill, with a frog (that's the coffee table under her feet):


The Role of Police

I've been meaning to write this blog post for a while, but haven't been able to figure out how to state it correctly.  But it needs to be written and I'll try my best.

The role of police should be to keep people alive so the justice system can attempt to do its job.

Our country has had too many examples in recent history of police officers escalating situations until some needless tragedy occurs.  But there are examples of "doing it right" as well.

One example, in particular, of the wrong outcome comes to mind: the LAPD manhunt, standoff, and killing of Christopher Dorner in 2013.  Dorner was a suspect in the murder of several people including members of law enforcement.  Police eventually surrounded Dorner in a rural cabin.  Police used equipment to knock down most of the walls of the cabin and then launched pyrotechnic tear gas canisters into the cabin setting it on fire after which Dorner shot himself in the head.  The police defend the use of the pyrotechnic tear gas canisters as "their only option."

Dorner now will not stand trial and it appears that officers were acting out of anger rather than a duty to uphold the law.  It's hard to believe that maintaining a safety cordon and "waiting him out" was somehow an impossible option.

On the other hand, the Boston Police provided a better example of carrying out their duties in a more professionally detached manner during the manhunt and capture of the Boston Marathon bombers also in 2013.  Once Tsarnaev was located hiding in a boat, police surrounded the area.  One officer, unfortunately, did open fire, but was immediately ordered to stop.  Tsarnaev was then taken in to custody and brought to a hospital for medical treatment.  He will stand trial for his crimes.

Even more recently we can find an exemplary example in how law enforcement handled the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in 2016.  Rather than "storm the castle" or light it on fire, law enforcement simply waited until their options improved.  They were able to arrest all but one suspect.  The one was killed by arresting officers after, reportedly, reaching for a firearm.  That means 9 suspects will stand trial and the justice system will attempt to fulfill its purpose.

Police need to be trained in de-escalation techniques.  They need to be trained in working to keep everyone alive--not just themselves.  They need to be trained in alternative problem-resolution techniques to force.  They need to be trained to be patient.  Yes, this will likely result in an increased level of risk to officers.  I recognize that.  That's the job I'm asking them to do.  Training, support, equipment, and compensation should reflect that risk.

We need society to have trust in our law enforcement personnel. We need law enforcement personnel to behave in a manner that retains that trust.

When that trust breaks down violators on both sides will use it as an excuse to escalate their own actions.  And more people will be denied the right to see their families again.