Monthly Archives: July 2020

Hold Music Survey

My arm, scratched from yard work, showing the stopwatch showing how long I was on hold

This morning I was on hold for 1 hour, 39 minutes, and 22 seconds. I have a few questions for you. My answers are at the bottom.

  1. If the hold music loop takes 30.5 seconds, how many times did I listen to the music repeat before I spoke to a human being?
  2. The music featured a soprano saxophone. Is there any instrument you would like listening to for over 1.5 hours, repeatedly?
  3. Is there any music (genre, song, etc.) that you could listen to over and over again for X times (refer to #1 above)?
  4. When was the last time you heard hold music you found agreeable?

Toby’s Answers:

  1. 1:39:22 = 5962 seconds
    5962 divided by 30.5 = 195.5

    Therefore, I heard the same music loop repeated 195.5 times.
  1. Even the most agreeable sounding instrument will grate on my nerves if repeated 195 times with no change in melody, dynamics, or tone.
  2. My most favorite melody or song will grate on my nerves if repeated 195 times.
  3. Never. The closest was a kind of radio show where songs were rotated through. But that experience was ruined by frequent interruptions either telling me “your call is important to us” and/or advertisements for goods or services. Give me good music, or give me silence!

The ReplyAll podcast had an early episode where they claimed to find the “Best Hold Music in the World”. Here’s the podcast:
ReplyAll #6 This Proves Everything + The Best Hold Music in the World

Oh, and the music is “Simplicity” by Macroform.

Downtown Portland, Part II: An Injured Friend

Photo Credit: Teri Melton, taken Tuesday. July 21

TL;DR: Street medic shot in the back by Portland Police at multiple protests, once causing severe injury. This is her story.

My last post examined the disparity between what is happening in Portland and what is reported by the news media, law enforcement, and the administration.

There are some who feel I unfairly lay most of the blame on the city and federal officers for the escalating violence and injury to both property and people. Some believe the city and federal officers are justified in their actions, and that those who are breaking no laws have nothing to fear or be concerned about.

I disagree.

Journalists and protest medics have been targeted by the police since before the feds arrived in Portland.

Doubt this to be true? I want to share the personal story of someone I know. She’s a talented musician and artist, volunteer for multiple creative arts organizations, Gilman Scholarship recipient, 4.0 student, and a published poet. Not only is she my friend, she is also the daughter of a junior high and high school classmate and dear friend of mine.

I will refer to her as “Z.” All the following text in italics are her own words.

This will be a lengthy article in 4 parts:

Part I. Z’s Participation in the Portland Protests

Part II. Z’s Injuries

Part III. Non-Lethal Weapons”

Part IV. Conclusion – What You Can Do

Feel free to post, share, and forward this article if you are so moved.

Part I. Z’s Participation in the Portland Protests

Z has attended about half of the daily protests (she estimates about 30 total). She has participated in protests both prior and after the unbidden arrival of federal enforcers. Her primary goal all along has been to provide basic first aid.

“I go out as an unmarked street medic. I avoid having the red crosses anywhere on my person to avoid getting targeted by police and federal agents. It’s been a while since I’ve been fully CPR certified, so I can offer basic first aid and eye wash (the most common need on the front lines) but not full blown 911/first response type care.”

Beyond sometimes joining in some of the chants, her primary focus is to offer care to fellow protesters:

“When I’m protesting, I generally keep my focus on first aid and protestor safety. However, I join in chants. I chant ‘QUIT YOUR JOB!’ amongst many other things. I don’t carry signs because I need use of both of my hands should anyone need first aid attention.”

Z has been shot more than once in the back with rubber bullets and clubbed on the head with a baton.

“When I was hit with the rubber bullet, me and the other protesters were retreating from a front line of police after they deployed tear gas, pepper bullets, flash bangs, and rubber bullets into the crowd. I had my back turned to them, was walking in the direction they were requesting of the protestors and was shot. This is pretty common. As soon as anything is declared an ‘unlawful assembly’ or a ‘riot’ the police/feds will not stop firing munitions until the entire crowd is dispersed and most of the people go home. They single out people who stay late and either arrest, detain, or beat them.”

“Every time I’ve been hurt (at least when it hasn’t been by tear gas or pepper spray) I’ve had my back to police and they have either shot at me or hit me in the head with a baton.

Folks have started chanting ‘don’t turn your back on them’ as things get spicy down there now as a protective measure.”

Photo credit: Reuters news photo captioned “A federal law enforcement officer pushes a mother back during a demonstration against the presence of federal law enforcement officers and racial inequality in Portland, Oregon, U.S., July 21, 2020. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY”

Some might ask whether Z could be perceived as a threat to law enforcement. She is 5’1” (155cm) and 105 lbs. (47.6 kg). Although she did not see the officer who shot her, the one who hit her in the head with a baton she estimates to have been at least 5’11” (180cm).

Part II. Z’s Injuries

One of the protests where Z was hit was on June 2. That night she was shot in the tail bone with a rubber bullet. She thought she could manage and heal on her own, but the pain increased and a visit to the doctor a few days later didn’t help. After two weeks immobilized with debilitating pain, she dragged herself to the ER where it was determined she had developed a severe infection.

“I’ve had tailbone injuries before, so I figured with appropriate icing and keeping weight off the injury, I would be okay. The pain, swelling, and (eventually) infection got increasingly severe over the course of the following two weeks. Somewhere in the middle of those two weeks I went to the doctor for X-Rays and an exam. The doctor didn’t look at the wound, said I was fine, and sent me home with instructions to take Tylenol for the pain. Mind you, I had arrived at that visit with a fever (as a response to the blood infection) and complaints about inability to eat, sleep, or defecate. That experience left me feeling confused about the severity of the injury and ultimately informed my hesitancy to take myself to the ER.”

“At the peak of my infection, I could hardly make it to the car to get to the hospital, even with help or crutches.”

“The pain of a blood infection is something I had yet to experience also – it was so intense. I legitimately had a moment prior to asking my roommate to drive me to the hospital where I felt something very deep and intuitive within me say, ‘If you don’t get yourself serious help for this FAST you will die.’ It was a very mortal moment. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that fragile, or truly exposed to my own mortality, in my life. It definitely redefined by pain limit, that’s for sure.”

“The rubber bullet didn’t break [the] skin, but there was significant internal bleeding that became severely infected. When I admitted myself to the ER, the surgeon who was preparing me for surgery said that had I waited 24-48 hours longer to seek help I would have needed extensive blood transfusions. They also told me the infection was deep and progressive enough that it was visibly ‘tracking.’ I was told the operation (which was basically just a very deep drainage) would take about 2 minutes. The infection was so deep and expansive that it took 30 minutes. The underwear and skirt that I wore into the hospital had to be tossed into a biohazard bag and thrown away because of how soaked in infection it had gotten during the operation. They put a drainage tube in the wound site, which stayed in place for two weeks after surgery. Once the tube was removed, I was permitted to go back to activities like walking and biking. I’m still working on gaining my strength back.”

Click here for an image of Z’s drain tube [warning: graphic image]

Z, convalescing post-surgery

Z has recovered sufficiently enough to attend protests. She received a baton hit to the head after the federal officers arrived, but she is adamant that her injuries were all inflicted by members of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB):

“The tailbone injury was [prior to the arrival of the Feds], the head hit was post-Fed. But both injuries were carried out by the PPB, who claim not to be working with one another, but have been employing each other’s tactics in very noticeable ways (ie: bull rushes, combining tear gas and mace to use en masse in large crowds, etc.)”

Despite her injuries from the PPB, she agrees that the arrival of the uninvited federal enforcers has significantly resulted in larger protests and an escalation in tensions.

“The crowds at the Justice Center had dwindled significantly before July 4th and DEFINITELY got reinvigorated once the federal occupation happened.”

Z also has witnessed a lot of troubling evidence that the Portland Police and the federal enforcers are collaborating and supporting each other:

“The PPB and Feds are not supposed to be working together, but there are a lot of personal accounts and evidence that suggest otherwise.

One tactic I’ve seen (and experienced) is that the Feds at the Justice Center will excessively gas the park (the area where protestors gather, where houseless folks have tents set up, and where free food, clothing, and other resources are available), pushing the crowds into downtown areas where then (miraculously) the PPB are waiting at various intersections to continue gassing, macing, shooting projectiles, and corralling the protestors as they try to get away from federal gassing.”

Photo credit: David J. Loftus. One of the tents in the protest support camp near of SW Third across from the federal courthouse. The report is that the feds specifically attacked the camp last night (July 21st)– classic disruption of military supply-line tactics — with pepper spray and tear gas. – David J. Loftus

“There were a lot of elders in the crowd last I was in one of those situations as well – the majority of the first aid I was providing that night was for men aged 45-75, most of them appearing to be closer to the 65-75 range.”

Part III. “Non-Lethal Weapons”

Z’s experience shows the danger so-called “non-lethal weapons” pose. Commonly used to control crowds and riots, non-lethal weapons can inflict significant and, in some cases, permanent serious injury, or death. This is especially the case when wielded by people who are poorly trained and/or not using the weapons as intended.

From tear gas to rubber bullets, here’s what ‘nonlethal’ weapons can do to the body – National Geographic

‘Less lethal’ can still maim and kill: A visual guide to weapons police use on protesters – USA Today [Warning, graphic images]

Part IV. Conclusion – What You Can Do


  • City and federal officers have been using excessive amounts of so-called non-lethal weapons on protesters
  • City and federal officers have been using these non-lethal weapons improperly, either because of lack of training, a sense of impunity for their actions, or a combination of both.
  • City and federal officers have been targeting journalists and those providing medical aid to protesters.
  • My friend Z presented no threat to anyone, caused or threatened to cause no damage to property, was offering medical aid, followed official orders to retreat, yet was targeted and injured on several occasions, gravely injured on one occasion.

What you can do:

Demand federal officers leave Portland. Both Oregon Senators and two Oregon Representatives have denounced the “politically-motivated authoritarian tactics.” Contact your members of Congress to in support of the removal of the Feds.

Call for the banning of the use of tear gas. Seattle’s City Council recently voted to ban police use of tear gas and choke holds. Urge your city to follow suit! The use of tear gas is banned in war under Chemical Weapons Convention and the 1925 Geneva Protocol, but it is still legal for use in law enforcement.

Organizations Z Suggests you Support:

I asked Z what she recommended people who want to support to do. She suggested these organizations to support:

She has high praise for Teressa Raiford and Don’t Shoot PDX

This person is crowdfunding to distribute respirators to protesters on the ground level as well- prioritizing BIPOC, Moms, Dads, and Elders”

She provided these links for organizations that are helping:

Figure Out How To Help, Portland – Portland Monthly

Things You Can Do to Support the Black Community and Promote Anti-Racist Efforts – Portland Mercury

Z’s Educational Suggestions:

Z stresses the importance of educating yourself on the issues. Here are her recommendations:

Arresting Power: Resisting Police Violence in Portland, Oregon
Z says: “Arresting Power is a documentary specifically about the history of police brutality to Oregon, and gives very necessary insight into exactly how and why the police have behaved, and continue to behave, the way they do.”

12 Free Documentaries And Shows About Black History And Racism In America – KBPS

Ten “Must Watch” Black History Documentaries – PBS

Be safe, keep secure, and do the right thing.

Downtown Portland

I have received well-wishes and worried queries from friends around the country as well as from Oregonians outside of Portland. Watching the news, they are concerned about my safety and well-being.

First, thank you for your interest and concern. I am fine.

Secondly, downtown Portland is 9 miles (14 km) away, and since I am still sheltering in place, I haven’t been downtown in weeks.

Thirdly, it is my opinion that in general, the breathless reportage covering the situation in downtown Portland is at best, exaggerated, bombastic, and lacking nuance, at worst, inflammatory and victim blaming.

Have I attended or observed any protests? No. Have I witnessed first-hand the alleged destruction of our beloved city? No. But my brother lives close to downtown and has been regularly reviewing and photographing the area. I also have several friends who live close to and have attended protests, some as protesters, some offering medical aid.

I am going to borrow heavily from my brother’s accounts and photographs. If you are interested in getting more current updates, you may follow his FB wall by clicking here.

This is the first of two very long posts on the topic (click here for Part II). This post will be in three parts:

I. What You Can Do
II. Exaggerated Claims
III. What To Be Concerned About

I hope this will help those who are interested and concerned to have a better picture about what is happening here in Portland, how it should concern you, and what you can do about it.


a. Get Educated and Ask Difficult Questions

When presented with explanations and narratives, ask for evidence and data. As we shall see, when pressed for actual data on violence and property destruction, the Portland Policy Bureau’s (PPB’s) case falls like a stack of cards.

Sadly, it is my impression that the mass media are not taking the time to really investigate the situation, question the official explanations, and provide thoughtful analysis and historical context.

I highly recommend you avail yourself of non-corporate and international media. Rather than going with ABC/CBS/CNN/FOX/MSNBC/etc., I recommend looking at DemocracyNow, Independent, and TheRealNews.

Rumble Podcast episodes 101 – 104…
I understand many people are not fans of Michael Moore. I, too, sometimes find his films a bit ham-fisted. But I find his recent podcasts focused on the Portland protests (episodes 101, 102, 103, and 104 as of this writing) to be excellent.

b. Trust the locals

I have seen too many times where out-of-town and out-of-state friends are so certain about the situation here that they try to explain it back to local folks. They dismiss our views and insist the violence and destruction are real and justify the Draconian response from local and federal law enforcement.

Please do not dismiss the locals’ views, and if you see others doing so, please ask them, “why do you believe this?” and request evidence (beyond the words of some talking head) be provided.

c. Contribute

Many people, myself included, are unemployed and are seeing their unemployment benefits (assuming they are even receiving any) about to run out. If you can, please consider donating to any of a number of worthy causes in support of civil liberties and the protesters.

Don’t Shoot PDX
Don’t Shoot PDX is a Black-led, community-driven nonprofit organization. Donate Here.

Defense Fund PDX
Defense Fund PDX is a jail support group whose work involves prioritizing the release of BIPOC and queer people from jail, as well as supporting those without homes. You can Venmo donations @defensefundpdx.

Riot Ribs
Riot Ribs provides free food for those attending direct actions in Portland.

The ACLU brought suit against federal officers and have won a temporary restraining order against targeting of journalists (see below). It is mind-boggling that we even need court intervention to protect our journalists, but the ACLU is doing it. Support the ACLU.

Portland General Defense Committee
GoFundMe donations are used “to pay for bail, legal fees and fines, lawyers, discovery, investigations, personal material support and any other financial needs that arise during the legal process.” You can follow them on Twitter.

Rumble Legal Defense Fund for American Dissidents
100% will go to organizations and individuals (no admin fees).
GoFundMe: Rumble Legal Defense Fund For American Dissidents

d. Register to vote, vote, and support all efforts to increase voter turnout and accessibility

Be sure you are registered to vote
In most cases you can check your voter registration online. Do it! And double-check your voter registration early enough to resolve any issues, and often to make sure you have not been removed from the rolls for some reason.

Do I really need to say it?

Consider requesting an absentee ballot to avoid the chaos, the waiting, and the pandemic risk in this next election.

Support and defend Vote-By-Mail
We in Oregon have enjoyed vote-by-mail for over 20 years. We know it is safe, secure, convenient, saves money, and most importantly increases voter turnout. A 2003 survey shows vote-by-mail enjoys high favorability among 85% of Democrats and 75% Republicans here in Oregon. 30% of respondents reported they vote more often since vote-by-mail was enacted.


First, I believe most national news media have painted a picture of widespread violence and destruction of property, justifying the heavy-handed tactics of Portland Police Bureau (PPB) and the recent arrival of federal officers. Many of my friends near and far are under the impression that downtown Portland has become a war zone with widespread looting, fires, and destruction of property. Some media outlets regularly refer to “riots” in downtown Portland.

Certainly, images like this fuel that narrative:

Still image from video captured by Teri Melton, friend and classmate to my brother, David J. Loftus, who joined the Wall of Moms. This is from Tuesday, July 21, at approximately 11:15pm.

To the contrary, numerous reports and photographs from individuals actually in the area, like those from my brother, indicate that the “hot” spot is really limited to a two-block strip of SW 3rd Avenue. One block is in front of the Justice Center and the other in front of the Federal Courthouse.

Even then, visiting that 2-block strip during the day reveals little more than sprayed graffiti and messages in chalk.

Chapman Square, surrounded by SW Main, Madison, Third, and Fourth, and a block south of the protest epicenter, shortly before 1 p.m., Wednesday, July 22. – Photo by David J. Loftus
“It’s nothing that a little soap and water, power wash, and maybe sand blasting — as well as bagging and dumping the trash — won’t solve in a few hours.” – Text and photo (July 26) by David J. Loftus

Here is a Facebook post from last week showing a series of images of bucolic normalcy in various areas of our city. This is a common friend of a few of my musician friends and colleagues.

So please take any assertions comparing Portland to some 3rd world and/or war-torn country for what they are, blatant and irresponsible claims.

Furthermore, what is the nature of the damage? One official declaration by Sergeant Strohmeyer of PPB, though at first glance impressive in length, upon closer inspection reveals the vast majority of individual items to be simply broken windows and/or tagging and graffiti:

Declaration of Erik Stohmeyer, Portland Police Bureau Sergeant with the Narcotics and Organized Crime Unit (from July 2, 2020)

There are a few property damage items (stolen bike, broken car windows, etc.), and one single item listing “fire” with no details of size or amount of destruction.

I personally find it a hard sell that this list of crime justifies the PPB showing up in riot gear and firing tear gas, flashbangs, and pepper balls, much less the need for the appearance of federal officers.


In my opinion, the overwhelming, disproportionate, and heavy-handed tactics of the Portland Police, the extrajudicial actions of the federal officers brought uninvited to our city, the abrogation of our First and Fourth Amendment Rights, the make up of the federal officers, and much more, should be the focus of journalists and of greater concern to our friends and family near and far.

Overwhelming, disproportionate, and heavy-handed tactics

Exhibit 1: Navy Veteran, Chris David
Perhaps you heard the story about a Navy Veteran, Chris David, who was severely beaten with batons. His crime? Asking federal officers why they were there.

In this local news report and video, you can see him standing still, posing no threat, hands at his side, making no movements other than to shield his own face as he is beaten and sprayed in the eyes. This occurred Saturday, July 18th.

Navy veteran beaten at protest says he was enraged to see federal officers in Portland – KATU News

David told CNN this was his first protest, and he was enraged to see federal officers on the scene. “I was going to ask why they weren’t living up to their oath of office, the Constitution,” David explained. ” All I wanted to do was ask them why?”

Exhibit 2: Portland Fire & Rescue Ban Law Enforcement from using fire stations
Traditionally there is a strong bond between fire and police departments. In Portland, that bond is being severed over the fire department’s perceptions that city police are collaborating with the federal officers, and that the federal officers comprise an “occupying force.”

On Sunday, July 19th, Portland Fire Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty announced that Portland Fire and Rescue would bar all law enforcement from using fire stations as staging areas for “any tactical operations” until further notice.

Portland Commissioner Bars Local, Federal Police From Using City’s Fire Stations
Oregon Public Broadcasting

Fire and Police departments sometimes overlap when responding to large protests, but Fire Chief Boone wrote they wish “to ensure that there is no confusion in regards to our role in providing safety to the residents of the city of Portland.”

The fire bureau emphasized that both the city police and the feds “were not, and will not ever” be allowed to use fire stations for their operations.

Exhibit 3a: Wall of Mom member shot in the face with a pepper ball
The sister to a musician friend who attended my high school with my older brother joined the Wall of Moms providing a human shield between law enforcement and the protesters. She was shot in the face with a pepper ball. These are her own words:

Last night I was hit in the face with a pepper ball (a lil pellet of tear gas shot from a gun thingy) about 1am while protesting peacefully and nonviolently in front of the Justice Center. It was the first thing fired last night from inside the fence, so a bit of a surprise, followed by much else. Fortunately with my protective getup the powder exploded mostly on my helmet, goggles, respirator, sign, and clothes; only the white sliver of powder (pic) made contact with my skin between helmet and goggles. Um, it stung.

ways with eyes squeezed shut. We’d stepped back a bit after I got hit and my getup was effective enough that I was affected by the gas scarcely at all until returning escorted to my car blocks away and taking off my mask. Whether that stirred up the teargas still on my person, was lingering in the air from the Justice Center, or was (biggest contributor) just because I was now breathing directly, IDK. All I know is all of this happened in a large nonviolent group mainly just standing there and chanting.

In reading, it sounds as though they can aim the pepper balls very well and are forbidden from aiming at faces. Why they chose me and my face, a few loose rows back from the fence and in Mom Yellow, I do not know. What I do know is that their attack on protestors [sic] was a massive overreaction as I’d heard and observed downtown on earlier night from a distance.

That said: I will go back. This was nothing. Black persons and other POC experience perpetual racism, brutality, and murder, and that’s why massive numbers of white people must step up in support and protest. I urge everyone who feels able, to go downtown. Protest the killings of Black people. Protest systemic racism. Protest the unnecessary and contrived presence of the feds in our city. The numbers willing to stand up speak volumes and we must not accept this latest step toward authoritarian/fascist control of our country.

I’m not posting my protest actions these days, having done beyond enough such posting over the years, and our feeds are already awash in similar photos/footage from others. This exception is to confirm that Yes, they are firing on 100% peaceful and nonviolent protestors [sic] who are posing no risk to the federal building. I do believe they are escalating to provide 45 his photo ops claiming we are “rioting” in our liberal cities. With my own (still safe) eyes: Nothing could be further from the truth.

Exhibit 4: Wall of Mom attorney arrested tells harrowing story
Jennifer Kristiansen, a 37 y.o. attorney from Beaverton attended the July 22 protest as part of the Wall of Moms. Briefly, she alleges:

  • She was never informed of her rights
  • Her arresting officers never identified where they worked
  • Was restrained across her chest (“that must be why my sternum hurts today”)
  • Was pushed against the courthouse wall
  • Was touched on her breast and butt (unclear whether intentional or not – she was terrified)
  • Her cell only had a small metal bench and she was refused a blanket
  • Never was allowed to call an attorney
  • Was released 4pm the following day
  • Did not get her phone, ID, or shoe laces back

Attorney arrested by feds among Portland Wall of Moms protesters says she was not read rights – OregonLive

She said her experience being arrested by federal officers was bad, but said immigrants and Black people have faced the same abuses for much longer.

“Not enough people paid attention,” she said about the Department of Homeland Security’s treatment of immigrants. “If it takes a tiny little rainbow-wearing white lady to bring attention to this problem that has been a problem for the immigrant community for a while, so be it.”

Exhibit 5: Wall of Moms attendee describes the fireworks, protests, and disagreements among protesters
My older brother’s high school classmate drove 225 miles to Portland to observe and participate in the Wall of Moms.

She has experienced war-torn regions, witnessing Northern Ireland and the use of non-lethal and lethal weapons, thrown, Molotov cocktails, and the carnage in the streets.

What she witnessed in Portland, though concerning, was nothing in comparison. These are her words from Tuesday, July 21st:

I was there Tuesday night until after midnight and Wednesday into the wee hours of Thursday.

I went to Portland to join the Wall of Moms. It wasn’t my first rodeo, though. I spent the summer of 1996 in Derry and Belfast, Northern Ireland, as an observer for a social justice group.

As an observer, I was chased by Saracen tanks, nearly hit in the head by a plastic bullet (head shots with plastic bullets can and have been, lethal), and corralled by a British military helicopter (although it might have belonged to the Royal Ulster Constabulary) and driven into dead end streets. There were Molotov cocktails all over the place and by dawn, the streets were glittering with a sea of glass shards.

In Portland, there were white men lighting cardboard boxes on fire and tossing them over the fence that was erected on Wednesday. And they were throwing garbage over the fence as well. But I never saw a single Molotov cocktail on Tuesday or Wednesday and until I left around 4:30 a.m. Thursday.

Someone was also aiming fireworks at the Hatfield building on Wednesday into Thursday. It took me a while to find the people responsible for that. It was quite a crowd pleaser, as in: “You’re going to gas us, shoot at us with plastic bullets, beat us, set off flash bangs, well, we’re getting our own back at you.”

What I found was that there were young BLM guys in a beat-up van who were the source of the kind of stuff you hear for days during the 4th of July festivities. Pyrotechnics that included mortars. Aimed at a building.

One young man lit one that nearly hit an adult BLM protestor and the older guys confronted him. One adult said, “That’s my nephew, I’ll take care of it!” And the young guy was taken out of the area. I saw him some hours later. A little smarter than he was before.

The BLM protesters begged the “skinny white boys” to stop throwing burning material over the fence, but they were ignored. Two different groups with a different agenda. I was so concerned at one point because I thought the trees in front of the building were going to go up in flames, but it stopped just short of that.

No one in the protest movement approved of these actions but they were provocations, not a direct attack on any human being — including the federal goons who gassed us, deafened us with flash bangs, and shot at us with rubber bullets.

I have some experience with rubber bullets as well in Derry and Belfast. They can be lethal if a person is hit in the head. Though the UN mandates that their use be confined to the waist down, that’s not how it plays out in reality.

When I was covering the Apprentice Boys weekend (Protestant annual celebrations for some shit that happened in 1689) I had a plastic bullet come so close to my head, it burned my hair. 17 people died from rubber/plastic bullets during “The Troubles.”

I’m reading other people’s FB profiles and responses, and I’m getting pissed off. No one ever got what they needed from the ruling class by asking politely on their knees.

My question to you is: Is there ever a time when a people that fight for their human rights would meet with your approval? Because we’ve seen this in Northern Ireland, Tienanmen Square, Johannesburg, Prague, East Berlin, Poland, and in our own country, starting with the Boston Tea Party, and right on through every battle for equality and freedom from a repressive regime.

The battle women waged to be able to vote. The battle waged by labor for decent wages and a weekend. The battles that were waged throughout the south that culminated in the Civil Rights Act. The right to marry the person you love without govt interference. The right to claim who you are, your gender, your sexual orientation.

None of these rights were handed down by a benevolent government. They were forced from a clenched fist.

Teri Melton

This account describes the disagreement and confusion among various factions of the protesters. That being said, I don’t think it gives credence to those who support the tear gassing, shooting of rubber bullets, and mass detainments being perpetrated by city police and federal officers.

Exhibit 6: More groups joining the protests
Joining the Wall of Moms, who are dressing themselves in yellow, there several new groups adding their voices and bodies to the protests.

a. Dads There is now the wall of dads, aka the PDX Dad Pod, now showing up to protests with leaf blowers, which they use to blow tear gas away from protesters and back at law enforcement. The dads are dressing in orange.

One 44 y.o. dad and attorney, Zack Duffly, attended his first protest on Monday, July 20th. He was taken to the ground, had his glasses broken, and was arrested. Duffly believes he was targeted because he brought a leaf blower.

Dad with leaf blower arrested Tuesday, says he was taken to ground by federal officers during Portland protest – Oregonlive

He was held for 14 hours, often crowded with other detainees who didn’t have masks, and was finally arraigned at 3:30 p.m. the next day and charged with federal disorderly conduct.

Days later, he can still feel and smell the tear gas.

b. Vets
Former US service members are joining the moms and dads to form human shields between protesters and law enforcement.

Wall of Vets joins Portland BLM protests to ward off feds, Internet says ‘Trump is finally building walls’ – MEA WorldWide

c. Grandparents
The self-proclaimed “Raging Grannies” made up of women 50 years or older have joined the protests.

Wall of Vets, grandparents support Black Lives Matter movement at protest – KATU News

d. Healthcare Workers, Teachers, and Union Members
Teachers wearing red, healthcare workers wearing scrubs, and union members in their union gear are now joining the protests.

Healthcare workers, union workers, teachers join Portland protests – KATU News

With such a variety of voices joining in chorus against the city police and the federal officers, please do not accept official accounts from the police or DHS about the justification for tremendous use of force.

Exhibit 7: Judge blocks federal officers from targeting journalists

It shouldn’t take a court order to protect journalists from doing their job, but that’s what it has come to in Portland. A case brought by the ACLU has resulted in a restraining order against the DHS and U.S. Marshals Service.

No longer may federal officers target journalists. U.S. District Judge Michael Simon reviewed evidence that law enforcement had specifically targeted journalists and legal observers who were clearly identified and not violating the law. This decision came on Friday, July 24th.

Judge blocks federal officers from targeting journalists in Portland anti-racism protests – CNBC


Portland protests began after the horrifying murder of George Floyd and persisted, on a daily basis, for nearly two months. They were not without incident, but for the most part were peaceful. Some say they were dying down – then the federal officials arrived.

It is demonstrably evident that their arrival has ratcheted up tensions. But is this surprising? Officers are in camouflage gear, gas masks, wielding batons, and shooting tear gas, pepper balls, and flashbang grenades. Using unmarked rental vans they whisk unarmed peaceful protesters off the streets, don’t read them their rights, will not identify which agency they represent, have no visible name tags or officer badge numbers, and hold people for hours without charge.

We may speculate and debate what the motivation and political end game of these tactics may be. But I cannot be convinced the federal presence, uninvited, likely untrained for this kind of work, and unquestionably provocative in their tactics, are in any way justified, effective, or constitutional.

Please pay attention, question and challenge what your media and law enforcement is telling you, and get engaged.

Please read my second post, which tells the story of a personal friend, acting as a street medic, who was shot in the back and injured by Portland Police.

Recommended Podcast: Keep Classical Weird

My friend, the extraordinarily talented violinist, Casey Bozell, concertmaster of the Newport Symphony, and member of the Portland Opera Orchestra and Oregon Ballet Theater, hosts a new podcast, “Keep Classical Weird.”

In it, she explores some of the more quirky stories and odd facets of classical music. Pairing Beethoven with beer and examining Mozart’s taste for scatological humor are a couple of topics you will hear about, interspersed with interviews with musicians, conductors, and musicologists.

Each episode is short, just 15-20 minutes, and Casey is a merry and delightful host.

I’ve listened to all the episodes and look forward to her upcoming offerings.

I encourage you to check them out as well.

YouTube battle between violinists and a bass player

The two violinists on YouTube that make up TwoSetViolin have gotten themselves embroiled in an internet feud with a bass player.

This is not the first time TwoSetViolin has gotten themselves into hot water with other instrument players. They made some lighthearted fun of the recorder, and they justly got roasted for it.

The TwoSetViolin pair recently made fun of electric bass players, which raised the ire of one of the most popular YouTube bass players, Davie504 (for those keeping track at home, as of this writing, TwoSetViolin has 2.55 million subscribers, and Davie504 has 7.4 million subscribers). This set off a back and forth video battle of skill, bluster, insults, and questionable editing. Here’s the whole sequence:

Twoset: Violin vs Bass
Davie504: These Violinists tried to EXPOSE ME…(Epic Fail)
Twoset: Our Response to Davie504’s Challenge
Davie504: I play the VIOLIN
Twoset: Davie504 FAKES Playing the Violin!?
Davie504: These YouTubers are trying to CANCEL ME

On closer inspection, Davie504 appears to be trying to start feuds with multiple instrumentalists, including one of the recorder players who reacted to the TwoSetViolin slights just last month. With grace and humility (the latter of which Davie504 appears to possess none), she responded.

Despite TwoSetViolin’s constant roasting and denigration of the viola, I do enjoy these back and forth exchanges.

The surprising history of paramedics

Few people know the origin of the first fully-trained paramedics. Even EMTs in the city of the profession’s birth (Pittsburgh) probably don’t.

Paramedics and EMTs are a relatively recent creation. In the 50s and 60s, there was really no emergency medicine. Hospital Emergency Rooms often weren’t open 24 hours a day. Transport to a hospital was typically carried out by the police transporting accident victims in the back of a paddy wagon or sometimes even by a mortician in the back of a hearse (someone close to me experienced waking up in a hearse on the way to hospital).

There was no on-site emergency medicine performed, and on the ride to the hospital, cops would sit in the front with the unattended victim in the back.

I learned the history listening to a fascinating podcast on the subject. It’s called “Freedom House Ambulance Service” from the “99% Invisible” podcast. The story includes the “Father of CPR,” Dr. Peter Safar, training a group of young Black men deemed “unemployable,” competition between the fledgling paramedics and racist police departments, contending with racist accident victims, and much more.

You can listen to it or read it here:

The story is very relevant today. Back in the 60s, the responsibility of picking up and transporting injured and dying patients to the hospital fell mostly on the police force. They had little training, inadequate equipment, and mortality rates for patients was high.

As we examine the myriad responsibilities placed on our police and the sometimes disastrous outcomes and tragic results, the story of Freedom House Ambulance Service provides an example of how we might better serve those experiencing domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health issues, and more. Why not provide services of people trained specifically in those areas rather than just leaving it to the police?

We take EMTs and paramedics for granted today. It wasn’t the case just a few decades ago.

Winter of the Witch

I remember a short film I saw a few times in elementary a couple times. It is just over 22 minutes long, and for some reason I just thought about it yesterday for the first time in decades.

A woman and her young son buy an sprawling, old mansion for a pittance. When they arrive they find it is inhabited by an old witch. The witch is sad and foul tempered and bemoans she is “old and unwanted. The world’s so full of evil nowadays that people don’t need witches anymore.”

They form a stable coexistence, and the young boy and the witch become friends. One morning, the witch cooks up a batch of her magic blueberry pancakes. Upon the first bite, the diner is struck with a burst of happiness. Mom and son open a pancake parlor, which becomes popular and successful, and spreads a lot of joy.

At the end of the short film, the boy and the witch go for a walk, and the witch opines:

“[In the old days] people needed a little scare now and then. But times have changed. People are already scared. They need something they can believe in. I’ve given them something to believe in: the goodness of the pancakes.

“Watch. Watch how people are eating my pancakes. They’re all happy. Some of them are happy for the first time in their life…And when people are happy, then they want to make other people happy.

“Someday, when everyone is happy, then…I’m going to start scaring them again!”

It’s a short, simple TV film with a low budget. It was made in 1969, and you might recognize the voice of the narrator: Burgess Meredith (who played Rocky’s trainer).

Funny how in 1969 a fictional witch who had lived for 300 years observed that “people are already scared.”

Not sure why this film came to my mind some 40 years after my last viewing. You can watch this simple and charming film here:

Music with Dad

Twenty-four years ago today I enjoyed a full day playing music with my father, something I always enjoyed whenever I came home. We played our favorites: Mozart Piano and Violin Sonatas and Fritz Kreisler.

Starting on violin at age 4 in Hanau, Germany

He started me on the violin at age 4 and piano at 6, and we performed together for years at weddings, parties, and dinner music at a local restaurant.

Performing at the Blue Heron Bistro in Coos Bay, OR, circa 1986.
Playing at my eldest brother’s wedding, 1993

Twenty-four years ago today was the last time we played together. The following morning, just after I left to return to Portland, he was hit by a drunk driver. He never woke up and died the following day. He was only 67.

Cherish the time you have. Life is short, precious, and fragile. Tell people how you feel.

And by all means, do not allow yourself or anyone around you drive while under the influence.


As some of you know, I like to fly-fish on occasion.

The pro, though, is my wife, and she just opened her online store featuring her own line of flies. These flies have been rigorously tested for several years, and she provides detailed information on how and when to fish these flies – something you don’t find anywhere else.

I’m really proud of her and her website, and wanted to share it with you all in case you or anyone you know might be interested in getting into the sport.

Here is her store:
Here is her blog:
Here is her FB page: