Friday, November 9

Donations for Hurricane Sandy

I was looking for places to make donations for hurricane Sandy's victims today, so I thought I'd share what I found. I tried to organize these resources by area, so that if you are local, you can find a place to donate money/materials/time and if you're not, you can find a national effort to join.

For "Locals" (pretty much anywhere on the North East coast):

Staten Island:

North Jersey:

Somerset County:

Wayne, PA:



National Efforts:
Sew for Sandy
"...we are continuing our Sew For Sandy initiative to collect as many handmade warm items from our crafty readers to donate to those in need."
Links for Monetary Donations to Red Cross, United Way and more Here.
Diapers for Devastation
"Diapers for Devastation is a new relief program developed by two moms and best friends wanting to help other moms in need that have been affected by a devastation."
Donate to the North Shore Animal League to help support rescued pets

And just because I like to be thorough, here's a story about some of the scams exploiting Sandy, already up and running. Always be careful to check where you are sending donations!

Thursday, October 4

Big Bird, Big Spender?

So, I will be up front and say I haven't watched the debates yet. We taped 'em, so I promise to beat myself up about not having watched them while we're catching up on True Blood and Game of Thrones. But I have been reading the coverage and I was especially interested to see this whole flap about cutting PBS to balance the budget. If there's one thing I watch a lot of these days, it's Sesame Street. And I know that people have been posting numbers and graphics for a while now to demonstrate how tiny a chunk PBS actually commands out of our budget, but I think I found a new way to look at it, so bear with me.

"Cutting PBS support (0.012% of the budget) to help balance the Federal budget is like deleting text files to make room on your 500Gig hard drive"
~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

This is the best analogy I've seen. When I tried to graph out some numbers, this is what I got: 

Please note that the above numbers are in millions of dollars. I opted for graphing the number for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting instead of just PBS because it was bigger, but it still doesn't even show up on the chart. Here, you can see PBS's actual needs, shown as a percentage of the CPB's budget:

So Mitt was talking about 26.65 million dollars out of over 3.5 trillion. Let's look at the other number up there, the one for the Department of Defense: 964.8 billion dollars. Before anyone says I'm being a typical liberal in going after the Pentagon, I want to say I have nothing against the Department of Defense. I know we need an army and I know it costs a lot and I know there are a ton of people who depend on our armed forces for their jobs. Instead, I want to point out a very weird illustration of our national priorities. This video is a montage of sponsors for the 2011 Winter X Games:

And at 1:57, you see the Navy. This, is the advertising budget for all arms of the United States armed forces: 667 million

Here, we can see how that's divvied up between the branches:

What does it say about our country, when a billionaire with small children can run for President and get cheered for saying we can't afford to teach kids to read? But obviously we can hand piles of money to the Navy, so they can give it to ESPN?

"The CPB’s two-year, $445 million government grant makes up less than 1/100th of a percent of a Federal Budget worth upwards of $3.5 trillion."

"$26.65M for PBS support;"

"The military's budget for advertising -- on TV, radio, print, web, mail campaigns, pamphlets, and movie theaters-- was projected to be $667 million dollars this year, according to the Operation and Maintenance Overview prepared by the Office of the Defense Comptroller in February 2011."
"the U.S. Navy was one of four major sponsors of the event (the X Games), filling ad intermissions (you can see one of the spots running pre-roll on ESPN) and sponsoring events like the half pipe snowboarders"

Friday, June 15

this blog may be cursed

I want you to scroll down real quick and note that the last post before just a few months ago, was about the death of one of our chickens. And now I must unhappily report that just a few weeks after I started writing again, another died. I didn't have it in me to write about it at the time, but I wanted to today, since she was my favorite. D'brickashaw was the queen of the coop. She was a very big, beautiful bird. When we had problems with Jessica Simpson eating eggs laid in the coop, D'Brickles started laying on the porch, so every morning, just about, we'd see her just outside the back door rearranging the nest she'd made out of shavings and feathers. She used to sit on the window sill and eat spider webs while I nursed my son in the glider on the other side of the glass. She was the one who always purred when she got treats. And she was the one who used to climb up on the washing machine to demand treats too. She passed away on Mother's Day, peacefully, we think. I would have been so heartbroken if I'd found her one day when I was alone, so it was really quite considerate of her. Mr. Strangely buried her next to the wild currant she loved to hide in, and we planted yerba buena there.

That left us with one, lonely, little chicken. But do not worry, she wasn't lonely for long. That story will be for another post though...

Friday, April 6

What Do Pro-Lifers Want From Women?

As a woman of childbearing age, I have a vested interest in the birth control flap going on right now. It's an issue I've followed for years, and one that only persists, I think, because the two sides never actually speak to each other. They get by too often on vagueness and rhetoric that has barely changed since I was born, 2 years after roe v wade.  It's time for that to end. So, here, I would like to challenge some of the arguments I hear most often from those who identify as "Pro-Life", concerning the rights of the unborn. And I hope those of you who are Pro-Life will present the arguments you do find compelling in the comments, or help me with nuances I might not be describing correctly. I will do my best to update this post and address them, because this needs to be a conversation. The marketing just fails all of us.

1: Life begins at conception.
I agree. There is no doubt that the cells dividing after sperm meets egg are alive. But... What does that mean for the rest of us? This argument is presented as though that should be the only consideration the law need make. But let's examine that. For starters, this life resides inside someone else.  And it is invisible. And the person who carries it might not even know it is there. So, what duty does someone owe any microscopic, invisible stranger? I'm seriously asking, because it's not obvious to me and I want someone who actually believes this to explain how this should all work.

2: This life is human life.
So it's a human life. OK, what does that mean? What is this new human entitled to? The threshold pro-life advocates are claiming is, in fact, stupendously low. It is, "don't murder it." And that is not like the duty we owe any other human being. Even touching another person without their consent qualifies as "assault" under the law. So other things like a forceps birth or a c-section are flat out illegal if that thing inside the pregnant lady is a person. And I don't mean to be harsh about that. I actually have a 1 year old son. And he was not on board with our birth plan, so he had to be dragged out by a team of professionals. He consented to none of that. Now, as a happy mom to be, I was thrilled to do whatever I could to make sure he was as healthy as possible. I gave up not just alcohol, but sushi and cold cuts too, because listeria can be fatal to unborn babies. I even started flossing because dental diseases can cause miscarriage. Now, my point here is not to run for mother of the year (unless that's actually a thing, in which case I'm totally in), but to ask, what do Pro-lifers want out of unhappy pregnant ladies? What they are asking for would be unique in our laws, because normally, you don't owe another person any rights to your body. If your brother will die without a kidney, and you don't want to donate yours, that is your right.* And how will they know which women are pregnant, since you only show for about 1/2 of the 9 months, unless you are exceptionally lucky like I was, and give birth to a toddler? Are very young fetuses not entitled to protection? Will every woman of childbearing age have to submit to pregnancy tests so you can tell where these vulnerable children are? Can they still smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol? Lest you think these are crazy things to wonder about, consider two stories from the past years...

A woman was arrested in Iowa, because she was pregnant and fell down the stairs. When she went to the emergency room, she told the nurses about all the troubles she was having at home (she was unemployed and her marriage wasn't doing well and she was pregnant with a third child... who would skip an opportunity for free therapy?). And because she told the nurse that she had considered abortion and adoption before finally electing to keep her child, she went to jail, on the suspicion that she threw herself down the stairs in an attempt to abort the pregnancy. Two days later, they let her out because Iowa's law against feticide is only applicable in the third trimester. There was no evidence she ever intended to harm her child.

A pregnant woman in Florida was held against her will by her doctor. The mother of two toddlers had gone in because she was worried she was in premature labor at 25 weeks. She wasn't, but the doctor she saw recommended up to 15 weeks of bedrest. When she asked for another option, since obviously you have a hard time supporting your family and caring for two small children when you're not supposed to um, move... the hospital had her confined and got a court order from the county to keep her at the hospital, for the sake of her fetus.  She wasn't allowed to even seek a second opinion. She was held for 3 days before an emergency c-section delivered a dead child. Let's be clear about this again... she went to the hospital, was forced to follow her doctor's advice against her will, and the baby died anyway. The incredible things to me are that 1) people commenting on the article still think that somehow, it's still the mother's fault and 2) Dr. Bures-Forsthoefel is still employed.

The lesson here is that, even if you are doing everything right, pregnant women don't deserve to be trusted. This is just one of the abhorrent comments I found about the above story:
"my daughter just miscarried her first baby.. and this ho.. won't follow doctor's orders to protect another human life? I hope they did a hysterectomy on this person.. so she never has to worry about this or waste our tax dollars again on another court hearing.."

That's right... if your Dr. orders to on bedrest and you ask for another option, you deserve to have your uterus taken away after you're held against your will in a hospital, away from your already born kids as you miscarry.

3. Abortion is murder.
If that's true, what are miscarriages? What about embryos who don't survive as part of fertility treatments? I'm really asking. If Pro-Lifers want fetuses to be protected and have rights, they cannot pick and choose which fetuses the law can ignore. Is that how it works for babies? The answer is no. You don't get to have 3 kids, then only 1 with no questions asked. Nor should you. But who will be charged with murder in cases where embryos die? The doctor? The mother? These are legitimate questions that the Pro-Life contingent has not addressed. And I understand that it is much more exciting to go to clinics and try to "save" the babies you believe are in jeopardy, but someone has to sort through these details if the law is going to take the unborn into account. When a born child disappears, the police investigate. When a fetus disappears, what happens? Does the law then presume the mother is guilty? Why or why not? And what is the threshold for her to be at fault? How many cigarettes can she have? How many glasses of wine? How many cans of tuna? Didn't you know? Mercury can cause miscarriage or birth defects too. How about bologna sandwiches? Like I said, cold cuts can spread listeria just like sushi. Will these things be evidence in a murder trial? This is far bigger than any simple sign with a blown up photo of a dead fetus.

I wish there was more I could discuss from the Pro-Life side, but so far, that's the bulk of what I've heard. For many, their only concern is for the babies, and the woman becomes invisible. I'm not trying to be harsh about that; how else can you read comments like this?

"Despite all the nonsense words and creatures he made up just so that his stories would rhyme, a lot of Dr. Seuss' books are good metaphors for world issues. "Horton Hears a Who", for example, I think is about abortion because the whos on the dandelion fluff are like unborn babies: they can't be seen but we know that they exist and that they're living beings. So Horton represents a pro-life advocate and he is being persecuted by people who don't believe that the fluff contains living creatures and want to destroy the fluff. "The Lorax" is obviously an environmental story. " Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?" and "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish", however, are just plain stupid and pointless."

I'm a ball of lint. I'm not even alive anymore, I'm just a piece of real estate with precious cargo. Or I'm a potential murderer. Neither does justice to the very real problem of pregnancy and the law.

So fitting he's an elephant too...
And don't get me wrong, I want people to be concerned about children and their welfare. That's a great impulse in civilized society. But every child lucky enough to grow up will someday consider how they want to construct their own families. I am pro-gay marriage because I think people should have the right to legally join their life to their chosen partner. I oppose China's One Child policy as vociferously as I oppose banning abortion, because you should be able to have as many children as you feel you need to complete your family. I don't agree with what the Duggars, for example, have done, but I will defend their right to do it with everything I have if anyone ever tried to tell them they could not have another baby. That's why I identify as Pro-Choice. But more recently, I am identifying as Pro-Bodily Sovereignty, because that's what the abortion issue is really about. We must be careful and clear about what we want in this debate, and what I want is the certainty that I will not be cut open against my will. I want the certainty that my doctors will listen to me, as a patient, instead of treating me as an object. I want my rights to remain intact, even if I am loaning my body to someone else for a brief time. Those are rights that seem to be taken for granted by the Pro-Life individuals I've spoken to. But it's clear that they can and do evaporate when a woman becomes pregnant. 20 years ago, Angela Carder was a pregnant cancer patient, who was forced to undergo a c-section by court order, sought by a hospital that never even consulted the doctor treating her cancer. They took her into surgery as she said over and over, "I do not want this." She and her baby both died. That is the real result of this terrible argument that pits doctors against their patients. The Pro-Life side must acknowledge these concerns with the same seriousness they seem to have for baby-saving, instead of pretending that every pregnant woman, even the unhappy ones, are just vessels filled with the miracle of life.

*Yes, that's actually been argued in court. A few times:

Tuesday, April 3

It Lives!

Howdy people! I know that it's been years since I posted anything here, but I swear I have an excellent excuse. He's napping right now. And I actually have been writing... but it's on my mom blog, maintained out of consideration for my family that doesn't get to see our munchkin in the flesh much. And I am so happy to be having GROWN UP thoughts for a change! They don't really belong on the blog reserved for baby pictures and videos... so I'm dusting this sucker off. And I hope I won't offend anyone who was reading for the pictures of flowers and chickens, because I'm launching straight into posts about abortion rights and dead teens in Florida. But on the other hand, becoming a mom has really reinforced a lot of my beliefs. And I think it's important to share them, because there are precious few authentic moms writing about politics in the media. We get written about much more, and not surprisingly because this shit is TIRING. (See? I'm already cursing! It's so liberating not to be writing things my grandparents might read... if they get their iPad working again.) So, let me just say, I missed you guys! Let's talk more often! And yes, there will still be pictures of chickens and flowers, because, well, because they make me smile. Even when they're molting:

Or maybe especially when they're molting...

Friday, June 18

The Reality of Farming

He came in the night
masked, like a thief
and his grasping black hands
pulled her out of her sister's warm embrace
We heard her cry, once
and with flashlights we came to find her door wide open
and I caught him in the light, by the cellar door
frozen for one moment, before he disappeared
and then I saw her
in a heap of crumpled feathers
still gasping, but not moving
and I had to finish her myself
with the hedge clippers

and this morning, we heard her sister call to her, over and over
and masses of rust and black feathers swirled over the dead grass and under the trees

and today, I will bury her
under the apple tree
and it would probably make real farmers laugh
to know that I've been crying over a chicken

Thursday, March 18

About Labor and Delivery... Kind of

So, I realize I have neglected posting about the chickens. We added a third to the flock. We started off with D'Brickashaw and Tony Romo. They did not get along with the new girl, and Romo was especially mean, so eventually we named her Jessica Simpson. And for a while, all was well in the back yard. My regular computer's fan has died, so there will be no pictures of the following, I'll try to do what I can.

At first, I just thought they couldn't share the nest box. Jessica was clucking around the porch, looking in little spaces, so I figured she needed a place to lay. I noticed her foot was bleeding, and it's because she kept trying to get in the nest with Tony Romo, who was making crazy noises and pecking her every time she tried it.

The next day, I saw her happily snuggling with Romo in the box, and thought, "Oh, how nice, they're getting along!" When Romo was through laying, he popped out and Jessica started cooing and stretched herself out over the eggs. I went inside to have some breakfast. And when I came out, I busted her in the nest box with egg on her face and everything. What I thought were maternal noises was actually a nom nom song. I had to clean out the whole coop so it won't smell like rotten egg.

So today I've been reading a lot about what you can do when this happens, and a lot of people seem to think it's incurable. They say it's time for a chicken dinner, but I can't do that with something I've given first aid to. When the other chickens pecked the crap out of her feet, I caught her and washed them and sprayed her toes with Neosporin.

Anyway, what you can do is get golf balls and put them in the nest, so when the offender tries to peck them, she gets nothing. We tried that this morning, and D'Brickashaw wouldn't go in the nest... just kept making this noise that sounded like the aliens from Sesame Street (nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope).

So I captured Simpson and stuck her back in the run and pulled the golf balls back out, and then Romo would lay, but D'Brickashaw just kept trying to make a nest on the bag of pine shavings we keep on the porch. And I'm thinking I really didn't want to clean up a broken egg on the porch, so I just dumped the shavings out for her. She was wailing and making all this noise, but she calmed down right away once she had a nest. I wound up with two eggs, put the golf balls back in the nest and let Jessica back out, who went directly into the nest box for snacks. And she pecked all the golf balls (yes, they are really that dumb). The moral of the story is, Tony Romo was right.

In closing, I feel fortunate that this is one thing I don't have to worry about. I'm pretty sure no one is going to sneak into labor and delivery to try to eat my baby. But I might bring a doll just in case.