Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Blogging Slowdown

I started this blog almost six months ago because I really wanted to make writing a priority, and I wanted to write stuff that people would read. I found that it filled a creative need in me - and frankly, writing regularly made me a better writer. I spent all of what had been my television time on my blog, writing for a couple of hours a day (not everything made it to the site, obviously). When I wasn't working on my classes, I was working on my blog.

But now I find myself up to my eyeballs in writing projects, and my blogging seems to be taking me away from these projects (which I undertake for money, for goods, and for lines on my c.v.). And further, I'm tired - not of writing, but of the pace. It's summer, for gosh sakes, and I just want to lie out in the sun for a while.

So I need to slow down. You can see that I've slowly dropped off from my daily blog posts to a few a week. My plan now is to post at least a couple of times a week, with the hope of stepping it up in the future.

I'm making this announcement as I prepare to leave for Iowa City for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. In case anyone is interested, I will be attending the Braided Memoir workshop. Having never attended a writing workshop, I'm not entirely sure what to expect. I will either be written out and unable to post next week, or I will be energized and inspired and will post often. I just don't know. So if you don't hear from me, you know why.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I don't know whether to be just quietly wigged out...

...or vomit.

Because my husband just asked me, after thinking about it for a while, if maybe the guy was talking about sexual experience.

I mean, ew.

Watch it and draw your own conclusions.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

South Dakota: The Hick State

I'm writing this from Oakland, CA, where I'm at the National Women's Studies Association Conference. And so far today, every time I've mentioned South Dakota, people have said, "Oh."
(beat) "OH. WOW." And then offered me a supportive comment or empathetic look.

So hear this, Unruh-ites. The rest of the country feels sorry for us because of you.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I should say first that I am a gal who dislikes the directions that come with anything. I will look at them if I am putting together a bookshelf or something and I don't want to put it together backwards, but I generally read just enough of the instructions so that I can fill in the blanks myself.

And, second, I should point out that I am in fact not a tech geek (not that there's anything wrong with that), so anyone who is and is reading this will have to excuse me as I stumble along in my discussion of the technology in my life.

Anyway, my impatience with instructions may contribute to my frustration with my new iRiver. But I doubt it.

I bought a iRiver IFP-795 last summer (512MB, or something like that). I didn't want to buy an iPod for several reasons. First, iPods are an annoying shape - the iRiver is much, much smaller and not a big, flat rectangle. And the older generation of iPods didn't have rechargeable batteries, whereas the iRiver runs on an AA or AAA. Also, the iRiver is non-proprietary, which means that I am not wedded to iTunes or to Apple for anything. And I can easily listen to files from iTunes (after converting them, which is a simple process) on my iRiver. However, the IFP-795 requires iRiver software in order to download anything onto it. Not a big deal - the software is free and somewhat simple to use, once you get the hang of it.

So, I liked my iRiver so much that I just bought a new, 1G one - the iRiver T30 - which is even smaller than the other one (yay!).

Now, I realize that iRiver is getting out of the MP3 player business and that this must affect their customer service. However - if the early generations of an MP3 player require a specialized music manager...wouldn't you think that the later generations would at least be compatible with that music manager, so that you could easily transfer your music onto the new player?

No. That would be too easy.

My new T30 only uses Windows Media Player. Now, almost all of my music is already on there, so that in itself is not a huge problem. What IS a huge problem is that I seem unable to download playlists without the playlists being taken apart in the process and reorganized by artist. That's fine, if what I want to do is listen to cds by different artists. If, however, what I want is a methodically ordered mix to listen to while I work out, then I am fucked.

I am fucked.

I like to think that I'm a smart person. I managed to get through a Ph.D. program (some would argue that that is no indication of intelligence). I know how to use a computer even if I'm not a tech geek. I can usually figure things out for myself.

I have tried eight times to sync these music files to the T30. I've looked in WMP "help" and I've read the directions many, many times.

I am now considering praying to whichever saint is the saint of computers (anyone?).

If you know how to do this so that the playlists remain playlists - you know, in a directory hierarchy - and don't get reordered by artist - for my "convenience" - please advise. But I have a feeling this is just one of those stupid things that happened when they were designing the thing. What must that conversation have sounded like?

"Hey, don't forget to fix it so that they can download playlists."
"Nah, it's lunchtime. Let's not bother."

I mean, seriously. What is the point? Would the thing have had to be bigger to recognize playlists?

Much, much later:
OK, I don't know how or why, but it at least downloaded my songs in the order I wanted. But no directory.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Sick of Abortion

I am so very tired of talking and thinking about abortion. My friends who work at Planned Parenthood tell me this ALL the TIME, and now I finally know what they mean.

I got up this morning, logged on, and continued a discussion I had been having since yesterday about whether or not EC is abortion. I got pretty upset by it, actually. It was partly just the fact that email can be a somewhat limited means for having complicated discussions. So often, when I'm emailing about something I care about, I find that I am unable to clearly articulate myself. In this case, I was confused by the terminology my friend used and led to think that she thought that EC was RU-486. Eventually, we got it sorted out, but not before I got my feelings hurt and got really frustrated - and not before she felt attacked and like her thoughts on the issue were unwelcome. And that was the second part of why I got upset - because I was going through, "oh, she really thinks I'm a big jerk! Oh, she really thinks I'm dissing her! Oh, what do I do? Should I try to apologize and explain that I wasn't doing what she thought I was doing? But what about the fact that now I'm pissed off and feeling hurt?" All very exhausting. And it wasn't even 9:30 yet.

At the same time, I received an email about a project I'm working on locally, over which there is a sort of mini-turf war taking place (of course, this project has to do with abortion rights).

Meanwhile, my son and I were getting into a crying argument (the tears were on his end) over whether or not he had to go to the bathroom (I said yes, he said no. Usually, this is *his* decision, but lately he's been refusing to go even when he has to go, and he can hold it a long time, which is not good for his bladder.). Anyway, I didn't handle it well because I was so distracted by all the email confrontations and serious discussions. (Note to self: do not check email until child and self are dressed and ready for the day.)

By the time I got my cup of coffee, it was already 11:30. Then I went to Weight Watchers. All I will say about that is that it was really depressing. At least there was no talk about abortion there.

Then I went to the gym for another blissful hour of no abortion talk.

Then I went to a meeting at which there was an impromptu discussion about abortion (read: *they* had a discussion about abortion; *I* sat silently, literally biting my tongue and waiting for an excuse to get the hell out of there, and trying not to lose it completely because the issue had come up in the context of something really difficult that a friend of theirs was going through, and it was not the time or place for me to launch into anything). I was stuck for an hour and a half.

Then I came home and wrote a letter to the editor about - guess what? Someone else's stupid letter about the effing abortion ban. Sigh.


Teen Beat for the New Millennium

Warning: Rant to follow.

I was just thinking today about how irritated I am by MySpace (and, ahem, Blogger) and all of these sites that ask you to list your favorite books, bands, movies, etc.

I mean, I can understand listing what you're listening to these days or what you're reading or what movies you've seen recently. These are things we probably all have something to say about and are interested in talking about with others. But how lame is it to list your favorite bands once you're out of high school? And for those people who list 20 gazillion bands - in case, god forbid, they should leave one out and then visitors to their page wouldn't really get their core essence and know what they were all about - you know, if you list 20 gazillion bands, not only will no one take the time to read the list, but you will end up just listing the same trendy, "alternative" bands everyone else lists. Way to look cool.

(And what's up with the "current mood" bullshit? Because I think we can all agree that the better writing is generally not found on blogs that look like somebody's 10th grade diary. Can we give each day a letter grade, too? Sheesh.)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Three Cheers for SD Pastor

I was grumpy last night. I didn't get as much done yesterday as I would have liked, my summer class started today, we're out of Froz Fruit bars...yeah, I was grumpy.

But here's something that lifted my spirits - an affirmation of gay families by (gasp) a SD pastor. It's great to see people in this red state who "get it!"

Aberdeen American News, June 7, 2006

'Family' defined by people who form it
by Riedel, minister of United Church of Christ, Aberdeen

I've given a lot of thought to what my first column should be about. Surely I should tackle something soft and cuddly, something warm and fuzzy to endear the readers to me for ages to come. Surely I should, but those who know me best know that is never going to happen.

Please turn your attention to the political ad about every child having a mother and a father in the American News of May 31, page 6A. When turning to this page a couple of harsh assumptions jumped out from the ad: first that Sen. Tim Johnson doesn't care about children and second, that apparently if homosexuals are allowed to be married it will be the ruination of life as we know it.

The basis of the ad is fiction in regard to Johnson's personal beliefs, according to his staff. The ad, paid for by Focus on the Family and others, states that "a compassionate society would not deliberately deny a child a mother or a father." It goes on to assert that the only way to protect marriage, the only way to protect our children, is to discriminate against an entire group of people and ban gay marriages.

The obvious result of this ban would be what? Perhaps we can expect an instant decline in the divorce rate amongst heterosexual couples, which is currently nearing 50 percent. Surely once we amend our Constitution, once the politicians vote to ban gays from getting married, those percentages will drop.

Will we also be able to expect a drop in the rate of unmarried pregnancies?
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 32 percent of all births are currently to unmarried women. Are gays to blame for this? Will gays being allowed to marry affect these numbers at all?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are at least 11.9 million single parents in the United States. Twenty million kids under 18 live with only one parent. Of these children who are living with one parent, 35 percent are living with a parent who was never married and 38 percent are the product of a divorce between their heterosexual parents.

The crisis in American families isn't about or caused by gay and lesbian partners who want the same status as their heterosexual neighbors.

I think that the Marriage Protection Amendment isn't so much about protecting our children as it is about protecting the homophobic from facing the reality that gay and lesbian partners seeking equal rights are not nearly the monsters they want them to be.

Before anyone starts screaming about how homosexuals will start molesting children should they be allowed to marry and adopt, let me say that they are already allowed to adopt and doing quite well as parents. According to an article in Pediatrics magazine, in a study of 269 cases of child sex abuse, only two offenders where found to be gay or lesbian. More relevant was the finding that of the cases involving molestation of a boy by a man, 74 percent of the men were or had been in a heterosexual relationship with the boy's mother or another female relative. The conclusion was that "a child's risk of being molested by his or her relative's heterosexual partner is over 100 times greater than by someone who might be identifiable as being homosexual."

What this writer finds more alarming than all of the rhetoric about gays and lesbians, is what ads like this say about children who are products of homes that the American Family Association don't find normal. In their zeal to stamp out homosexuals they are labeling children from single-parent families or what might be termed "non-traditional" families as something less than desirable.

Folks need to be careful that in their effort to make gays and lesbians second-class citizens they don't push 20 million children down with them.

What defines a family will never fit nicely in the box that the American Family Association has built for it. It will never be solely defined as one man and one woman with 2.3 children of the same race and appropriate gender identity. Rather it will be defined by those who choose to be a family. Every child understands how important family is; don't try to tell them what theirs should look like.

Rick Riedel

Friday, June 09, 2006

Lack of EC Causes Abortion

Just to reiterate: EC works the same way as the birth control pill. It's not an abortifacient. A woman who takes EC after unprotected intercourse is using birth control, not getting an abortion.

Read on.

From the Washington Post:

What Happens When There Is No Plan B?
By Dana L.
Sunday, June 4, 2006; Page B01

The conservative politics of the Bush administration forced me to have an abortion I didn't want. Well, not literally, but let me explain.

I am a 42-year-old happily married mother of two elementary-schoolers. My husband and I both work, and like many couples, we're starved for time together. One Thursday evening this past March, we managed to snag some rare couple time and, in a sudden rush of passion, I failed to insert my diaphragm.

The next morning, after getting my kids off to school, I called my ob/gyn to get a prescription for Plan B, the emergency contraceptive pill that can prevent a pregnancy -- but only if taken within 72 hours of intercourse. As we're both in our forties, my husband and I had considered our family complete, and we weren't planning to have another child, which is why, as a rule, we use contraception. I wanted to make sure that our momentary lapse didn't result in a pregnancy.

The receptionist, however, informed me that my doctor did not prescribe Plan B. No reason given. Neither did my internist. The midwifery practice I had used could prescribe it, but not over the phone, and there were no more open appointments for the day. The weekend -- and the end of the 72-hour window -- was approaching.

But I needed to meet my kids' school bus and, as I was pretty much out of options -- short of soliciting random Virginia doctors out of the phone book -- I figured I'd take my chances and hope for the best. After all, I'm 42. Isn't it likely my eggs are overripe, anyway? I thought so, especially since my best friend from college has been experiencing agonizing infertility problems at this age.

Weeks later, the two drugstore pregnancy tests I took told a different story. Positive. I couldn't believe it.

I'm still in good health, but unlike the last time I was pregnant, nearly a decade ago, I'm now taking three medications. One of them, for high cholesterol, is in the Food and Drug Administration's Pregnancy Category X -- meaning it's a drug you shouldn't take if you're expecting or even planning to get pregnant. I worried because the odds of having a high-risk pregnancy or a baby born with serious health issues rise significantly after age 40. And I thought of the emotional upheavals that an unplanned pregnancy would cause our family. My husband and I are involved in all aspects of our children's lives, but even so, we feel we don't get enough time to spend with them as it is.

I felt sick. Although I've always been in favor of abortion rights, this was a choice I had hoped never to have to make myself. When I realized the seriousness of my predicament, I became angry. I knew that Plan B, which could have prevented it, was supposed to have been available over the counter by now. But I also remembered hearing that conservative politics have held up its approval.

My anger propelled me to get to the bottom of the story. It turns out that in December 2003, an FDA advisory committee, whose suggestions the agency usually follows, recommended that the drug be made available over the counter, or without a prescription. Nonetheless, in May 2004, the FDA top brass overruled the advisory panel and gave the thumbs-down to over-the-counter sales of Plan B, requesting more data on how girls younger than 16 could use it safely without a doctor's supervision.

Apparently, one of the concerns is that ready availability of Plan B could lead teenage girls to have premarital sex. Yet this concern -- valid or not -- wound up penalizing an over-the-hill married woman for having sex with her husband. Talk about the law of unintended consequences.

By late August 2005, the slow action over Plan B led the director of the FDA's Office on Women's Health to resign her post. The agency's delay on the drug, she wrote in an e-mail to her colleagues, "runs contrary to my core commitment to improving and advancing women's health." As recently as April 7, Steven Galson, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said that the agency still needed time to work on the issue.

Unfortunately, time was the one thing I didn't have.

Meanwhile, I hadn't even been able to get Plan B with a prescription that Friday, because in Virginia, health-care practitioners apparently are allowed to refuse to prescribe any drug that goes against their beliefs. Although I had heard of pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control on religious grounds, I was dumbfounded to find that doctors could do the same thing.

Moreover, they aren't even required to tell the patient why they won't provide the drug. Nor do they have to provide a list of alternative sources. I had asked the ob-gyn's receptionist if politics was the reason the doctor wouldn't prescribe Plan B for me. She refused to answer or offer any reason, no matter how much I pressed her. By the time I got on the phone with my internist's office and found that he would not fill a Plan B prescription either, I figured it was a waste of time to fight with the office staff. To this day, I don't know why my doctors wouldn't prescribe Plan B -- whether it was because of moral opposition to contraception or out of fear of political protesters or just because they preferred not to go there.

In any event, they were also partly responsible for why I was stuck that Friday, and why I was ultimately forced to confront the decision to terminate my third pregnancy.

After making the decision with my husband, I was plunged into an even murkier world -- that of finding an abortion provider. If information on Plan B was hard to come by, and practitioners were evasive on emergency contraception, trying to get information on how to abort a pregnancy in 2006 is an even more Byzantine experience.

On the Internet, most of what I found was political in nature or otherwise unhelpful: pictures of what your baby looks like in the womb from week one, and so on.

Calling doctors, I felt like a pariah when I asked whether they provided termination services. Finally, I decided to check the Planned Parenthood Web site to see whether its clinics performed abortions. They did, but I learned that if I had the abortion in Virginia, the procedure would take two days because of a mandatory 24-hour waiting period, which requires that you go in first for a day of counseling and then wait a day to think things over before returning to have the abortion. Because of work and the children, I couldn't afford two days off, so I opted to have the procedure done on a Saturday in downtown D.C. while my husband took the kids to the Smithsonian.

The hidden world of abortion services soon became even more subterranean. I called Planned Parenthood two days in advance to confirm the appointment. The receptionist politely informed me that the organization never confirms appointments, for "security reasons," and that I would have to just show up.

I arrived shortly before 10 a.m. in a bleak downpour, trusting that someone had recorded my appointment. I shuffled to the front door through a phalanx of umbrellaed protesters, who chanted loudly about Jesus and chided me not to go into that house of abortion.

All the while, I was thinking that if religion hadn't been allowed to seep into American politics the way it has, I wouldn't even be there. This all could have been stopped way before this baby was conceived if they had just let me have that damn pill.

After passing through the metal detector inside the building, I entered the Planned Parenthood waiting room; it was like the waiting room for a budget airline -- crammed full of people, of all races, and getting busier by the moment. I was by far the oldest person there (other than one girl's mom). The wait seemed endless. No one looked happy. We were told that the lone doctor was stuck in Cherry Blossom Parade traffic.

He finally arrived, an hour and a half late.

The procedure itself took about five minutes. I finally walked out of the building at 4:30, 6 1/2 hours after I had arrived.

It was a decision I am sorry I had to make. It was awful, painful, sickening. But I feel that this administration gave me practically no choice but to have an unwanted abortion because the way it has politicized religion made it well-nigh impossible for me to get emergency contraception that would have prevented the pregnancy in the first place.

And to think that, all these years after Roe v. Wade became the law of the land, this is what our children have to look forward to as they approach their reproductive years.

Dana L. is a lawyer and writer living in Virginia. Out of concern for her family's privacy, she requested that her last name not be published.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Who Gives a Flying....

For the record, I don't care what Brad and Angelina's baby is named, nor do I care what it looks like. I'm not interested in the pictures. I'm saddened that the pictures are worth an estimated $5-$7 million. What the hell does that say about us as a country? I'll bet more Americans know what little Shiloh's name is (see, I'm not even paying attention - I am STUDIOUSLY NOT PAYING ATTENTION - and I STILL KNOW) than know who their elected officials are. Or even what their own teacher's names are (as ridiculous as it sounds, I meet students every semester who do not know the names of their professors. How is that even possible?).

Nor do I care for the trying-to-be-clever nicknames "Brangelina," "TomKat," and "Bennifer." (Is this what we have to look forward to? Will every celebrity couple from now on have to be given a nickname? (And doesn't the press have more important matters to attend to?!))

And finally - whose business is it, really, what some couple you've never met chooses to name their baby? If you are self-righteous enough to ridicule Gwyneth Paltrow for naming her babies "Apple" and "Moses," you can bet your sweet bippy that karma is going to get you: right now, your friends and relatives secretly hate the baby name you've picked out. They think it is 1) pretentious, 2) inappropriate, and/or 3) horribly common.

(This is a general rant, not directed in particular at any of my friends who like to gossip about celebrity baby names. Your friends love your babies' names. Really.)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I Know, I Know, I Mentioned the Film Crews...

And several times, I started to blog about it, but the truth is, I just kind of feel sorry for the one director who pissed me off. The more I read about him, the more of an asshole everyone seems to think he is - I mean EVERYONE. Not one person has anything nice to say about this guy, and I'm thinking that it would suck to be a person that is so roundly disliked. So I'm just not going to add any further to his bad reputation by smearing his name here.

Besides, I already vented to one of the better-known movie sites...for which I now feel guilty. Hopefully, they won't use it.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


I tend to fetishize things like office supplies, closet organizers, interestingly-shaped cleaning products - you know, those things that promise us better, tidier, fresher-smelling lives. Bonus if they make our environmental footprints smaller at the same time.

I love having an excuse to go to OfficeMax, and I will wander the aisles in search of the perfect pen or pencil, the one that will revolutionize my writing experience, or of the perfect calendar (the right size, shape, and subject), or of some desk organizing caddy that I have never seen before.

The pencil I've been using professionally (i.e., for grading papers) and for just about everything else for the last several years is the Papermate PhD, which is an incredible mechanical pencil experience. What I like about it is the way it feels in my hand - it's hefty enough that I can hold it comfortably without getting finger or hand cramps, even after hours of writing. But most importantly, unlike almost every other mechanical pencil I've tried, the PhD lead doesn't snap on me very often.

Plus, it's very stylish, as you can see.

But, although Office Max was my first love, lately, Target has become even more of a time and money sucking experience for me. Not that there aren't all kinds of reasons not to go to Target - for one thing, Target allows its pharmacists to decide for themselves whether or not to fill EC prescriptions.

Beginning of long tangent:
Though I sound like a broken record, it bears repeating: EC is emergency CONTRACEPTION. Not abortion. If there is an established pregnancy - which means that a fertilized egg has implanted itself in the wall of the uterus (which how the medical field defines "pregnancy," which is a medical condition, so it's not a definition that's up for grabs), EC will have absolutely no effect. So refusing to fill a prescription for EC is exactly the same as refusing to fill a prescription for birth control (which many pharmacists do, these days).

Here's what Target has to say about the matter (excerpted from AMERICAblog ):

From: Target.Response
Date: Nov 14, 2005 11:14 AM
Subject: Filling Prescriptions

Dear Target Guest

In our ongoing effort to provide great service to our guests, Target consistently ensures that prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B are filled. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also requires us to accommodate our team members' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In the rare event that a pharmacist's beliefs conflict with filling a guest's prescription for the emergency contraceptive Plan B, our policy requires our pharmacists to take responsibility for ensuring that the guest's prescription is filled in a timely and respectful manner, either by another Target pharmacist or a different pharmacy.

The emergency contraceptive Plan B is the only medication for which this policy applies. Under no circumstances can the pharmacist prevent the prescription from being filled, make discourteous or judgmental remarks, or discuss his or her religious beliefs with the guest.


We're committed to meeting the needs of our female guests and will continue to deliver upon that commitment.


Jennifer Hanson
Target Executive Offices

I LOVE the - what is it - irony? Doublespeak? - of that last line, I have to say.

I just need to quote a little more for you from this blog, because Target's insanity may not be completely clear from the above email. In response to the above email, AMERICAblogger has this to say:

So let's ask Target if they also support the following Target employees:
- Check out clerks who verify how fat you are before selling you that package of potato chips?
- Pharmacists who don't want to fill prescriptions for Jewish customers who killed Christ.
- Pharmacists who don't want to help customers who worship a "Satanic counterfeit" (read: "The Pope," in fundie-speak).
- Pharmacists who only dispense HIV medicine to "innocent victims" of AIDS.
- Pharmacists who want proof that women seeking emergency contraception were really raped, and that they didn't "deserve it."
- Pharmacists (or cashiers) who are Christian Scientists - can they refuse to sell any medicine, even aspirin, to anyone?
- Pharmacists who won't sell birth control pills to unmarried women, condoms to unmarried men, or any birth control at all because God doesn't want people spilling their seed.
- Can fundamentalist Christian employees refuse to interact with gay people in any way, shape or form since gays are sinners, abominations, biological errors, and very likely pedophiles?

I'm still sort of surprised that Target doesn't get it. I'm still trying to get my head around how they can make the exception for EC and still make pharmacists fill birth control pills. It's all about what people think about how EC works, and not about how it actually works.


So there are certainly reasons not to shop at Target.

But I do. And I've given up Wal-Mart and K-Mart is closed, so I. Don't. Want. To. Hear. It.

So - long tangent over - while I don't usually have very good luck with women's Target clothes (crappy quality - nothing I buy there lasts through the washing machine), I have wonderful luck with Target everything else - storage containers, furniture, picture frames, kids' clothes, and supplies.

I am obsessed with Method.

I have bought green cleaning products almost exclusively for the last decade or more - despite my reference to "Ajax" in that earlier post, which was mostly for effect (I used to clean with a green cleanser, and now I clean with baking soda, which is not really a problem on dishes, but still, it's the general principle, because in my mind, dish gunk and sink gunk are two different things, even if the dishes sit in the sink.). So when I first saw Method products on the shelf at Target a couple of years ago, I ignored them. I mean, sure, they were cheap, but so are commercial cleaning products in general, compared to Seventh Generation or Ecover or whatever green products I find at the co-op.

And I was so sure that Method was just another cleaning product that, last week, when I picked up some supplies, I was outraged that the ingredients were not listed on the bottles, and I came home ready to report them to the FDA.

It turns out that non-toxic products are not required to list their contents. Score one for Method (minus one for the FDA: if your kid drinks bio-safe cleaning products, doesn't Poison Control still want to know what's in them?!).

Method also uses biodegradable ingredients. And they don't test on animals (score about 100 for Method).

Plus, their products are so CUTE!!

They are almost - almost - as cute as the Koziol products (such as Curly, below):

And there you have it. And we're back to office supplies. Sigh. Moan.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Abortion Ban Makes NO EXCEPTIONS

Just to reiterate, that's N-O E-X-C-E-P-T-I-O-N-S for survivors (let's start saying "survivors" instead of "victims") of rape and incest. Here's one letter to the Argus Leader that got it right:

Michelle Wolf's letters [are] all basically saying the same thing: she believes HB1215 provides an exception for rape and incest. This is not true, no matter how many times she says it.

Her idea of an exception? Emergency contraception. Of course, the same legislators who passed the abortion ban also rejected bills that would have require[d] ERs to provide rape victims with EC, so many will never know it exists. If they do, they might be in a town with one pharmacist who refuses to fill the prescription (thanks again to the Legislature). Also, victims have to access EC within 72 hours for it to be effective. Not an easy task for a 13-year-old incest victim, even if you don't consider all the other barriers.

The people who passed HB1215 were not concerned about rape and incest victims when this bill was being discussed, and now that they realize how opposed the people of South Dakota are to it, they're trying to back-pedal. It's too late. We know this bill is extreme.

Caitlin Collier

If a grown woman I know who works at Planned Parenthood can't get EC on a Friday night, what's a 13-year-old gonna do? Better make sure to get raped during the work week. Thanks, SD Legislature, for your compassion. (And thanks, Kelsey, for the heads-up.)

Little Idiosyncracies

We all have them, right? One of mine is that I'm very particular about my kitchen and bathroom. I'm strictly a toilet-lid down person, and it bothers me no end when a guest leaves the lid up. There is something about an open toilet that just strikes me as unspeakably rude (though only in my own house - it doesn't bother me in other people's homes, though I will close the lid if I use your bathroom). But more to the point, we have cats, and when we got them, I didn't want them drinking out of the toilet as have the cats of some (pretty disgusting, actually) people I've known. And then we had a kid - ditto (um, that is, I didn't want the kid throwing toys in - I don't know anyone whose kid drinks out of the toilet, and if you do, please don't tell me about it). So the toilet lid rule has been in effect for over ten years.

And still, people who've been visiting us for that long and who know us well leave the lid up.

I also have a thing about the way my dishes are washed. Right now we have houseguests who drink tea. And tea, if you have noticed, leaves a stain on cups and the teapot. Now, it never fails to amaze me how a person can take a clean mug - sans tea stain - enjoy a cup of tea, wash the cup, and put it back away with a new tea stain and see nothing wrong with that. These particular house guests do this ALL THE TIME. And they do it to the teapot, too, which never gets used unless they are visiting, so I know that they are the tea stainers.

The thing is, the tea stains come out easily with a little scrubbing - if you get at them right away and don't let them sit. But, for whatever reason - and I've had occasion to spend plenty of time wondering what the reasons might be (they're losing their eyesight? they're so accustomed to the tea stains in their own dishes that they no longer see them? they don't realize that tea stains come out? they figure tea stains are just a part of life, so why not embrace them?) - they don't seem to notice the stains, and so I am left to sneak into the kitchen later and re-wash things so they are not permanently stained.

And then there's the matter of the dish scrubby. I have a whole dishwashing system. There's the dishrag, for actually washing the dishes. I knit these myself and wash them in the washing machine every so often. There's the scrubby, which I buy at the store, for scrubbing pots, but I use this sparingly and take time to get the bits of food out of it each time so that I won't have to keep replacing it. (I really, really hate filthy dish scrubbies - ick.) There's the steel wool, which I never use but which is there for the occasional steel wool emergency. And then there's the old, filthy and disgusting scrubby, which is used for cleaning the sink.

Guess which one guests always use on the dishes?

What boggles my mind is that they ALWAYS pick that one, and it's not just our current houseguests but others, too. And I always say, "please don't use that one, it's for cleaning the sink and counters," and they are perplexed as to why I'd be bothered by them washing my dishes with the same dirty-looking scrubby that probably has AJax or whatever still in it. And then next time, they use the wrong one, again.

Along similar lines, I rewash anything that comes into contact with the mat under the dish drying basket, just on principle. I'm surprised and revolted by how frequently people will put silverware flat on the mat - I mean, ick. Or maybe everyone but me scours their mat on a regular basis. Even so, my mat does not even *look* clean.

Furthermore, I have a very picky dishwasher, and it needs to be loaded a certain way. And everytime these house guests visit, we must go through it again - please let me or my partner load the dishwasher because it's really fussy and it won't wash the dishes if you don't stack exactly the right way. And yet, I find things like upside-down silverware in the silverware basket.

It's not that I'm especially clean. I am perfectly willing to let dishes rot in the sink until I can get to them, and every so often, that means a week. I know that's disgusting to many people. I'm not thrilled about it, but I'm used to it, and I can live with it. But if I'm going to clean, I do it right, and that means that I follow all of the above "rules" and that when I wash a dish, it has no food particles or anything left on it afterward. (Unlike SOME people.)

Now, I'll be honest. You caught the title of this post, right? These are MY little idiosyncracies. I know that. I know that the world won't end if the silverware is loaded upside-down or if the toilet lid is up. I know that, at bottom, this is Plainsfeminist being OCD and not entirely an issue of cleanliness. But then - it's my kitchen, isn't it, and my bathroom. And I suspect that, what's really going on is that our houseguests are trying, from time to time, to teach me a lesson, because we end up having the same discussions each visit about these things.

(You might be thinking that any host who would let her guest do the dishes deserves to be taught a lesson. But really, I implore them not to. The only way to prevent it is to always do the dishes immediately after using them, which is so totally not my style. But seriously, if you come over for a meal, please don't do the dishes. It will cause me enormous anxiety. If you feel you must do something, just bring some foodstuff to serve with dinner, and we'll call it even.)