Domestic Goddess

On Monday night my teammate and I were making our shirts for tonight’s Pro-Choice Resources bowl-a-thon. While I was ironing, she ordered me to give her my best Domestic Goddess pose:

Me ironing and giving the camera the finger

Today is the LAST DAY to donate to my bowl-a-thon fundraising website.

Please, please, pretty please consider donating some money to this incredible group. Pro-Choice Resources is on the front lines working to ensure that people have access to sex education, birth control and safe and legal abortion. You can see the original, thoughtfully-written appeal in this post, and I’m re-copying the goals and awards for donating at the end of today’s post.

So far you all have contributed $150 dollars for PCR. What say we push that up just a smidge more before I hit the lanes at 7:30pm CST tonight?

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

**********************

Goodies For Individual Donors:

Any Amount – I will send you a (photo of a) personal, hand-written thank you by email. Delivery goal: All emails delivered within one week of the end of the bowl-a-thon.

$25 or more – In addition to the above, I will send you a postcard thanking you for your donation (to anywhere in the world!). I would not have access to your mailing address via the PCR fundraising website, so I will put out a call for you to send me your address via email if you would like me to send you a postcard. Delivery goal: Date-stamped within two weeks of the end of the bowl-a-thon.

$50 or more – In addition to the above, I will devote a post to any question you’d like me answer or topic that you would like me to address. I make no promises about length or tone of the post, but on average I tend to devote between 500-1200 words to a topic that I find interesting.

Total Fundraising Goals:

If I raise the following amounts, I will do the following silly things:

$150 or more – I will post a photo of me with a bowling bowl, and wearing my team shirt (we’re “The Notorious P.I.D”)

$200 or more – In addition to the above, I will post a video of me granny-bowling and chanting “No back alleys in the night! For safe choices we will fight!”

$300 or more  - Both of the above, and I will do a dramatic armchair reading of some of the vile things that protesters say to patients and clinic escorts, and post a video of it.

$350 or more – The first three, and I will do the previously described reading in a smoking jacket with a pipe in my mouth and classical music playing in the background.

$400 or more – All of that stuff that I’ve already mentioned, and I’ll do the reading in a funny hat.

$500 or more – The first three, and instead of doing an armchair dramatic reading, I will have a friend do the dramatic reading while I act out the vile things that protesters say. And heck, we’ll turn it into a PSA about sidewalk bullying tactics.

 

Satan Makes You Stand

Today I was introduced to a lovely, quirky series called Adult Wednesday Addams. In honor of National Abortion Provider’s Day, which was on Monday – and because I just really want to share it with you – please enjoy Episode Six of Adult Wednesday Addams: Planned Parenthood.

Also, something really, really, really exciting happened on Monday: I met my first Pro-Choice Resources Bowl-A-Thon goal!!! Thank you to the five of you who gave some of your hard-earned money to help support Pro-Choice Resources. For the individual donations, I will be sending out several postcards, and I’ll be doing one custom blog post for the generous individual who donated over $50.

With $150 being raised so far, the first of my six total fundraising goals has been met! After the Bowl-A-Thon on March 20th, I will be posting a photo of me with a bowling bowl, and wearing my team shirt, “The Notorious P.I.D”.

AND I just raised my fundraising goal on my PCR Bow-A-Thon web page to $200. If I meet $200 I will post a video of me granny-bowling and chanting “No back alleys in the night! For safe choices we will fight!” I have goals set for $300, $350, $400, and if I should somehow manage to raise $500, I will make a YouTube PSA about sidewalk bullying tactics. To see all of my individual and total fundraising goals, check out this post from last week.

I sorta really wanna do that PSA, so I’m going to reach out again: If you want to support an organization that works to secure the right to comprehensive reproductive options, and provides abortion funds in Minnesota and the surrounding areas, public outreach throughout the United States, secular after-abortion support, and sex education for teens across the world – please consider sending a few bucks their way via my Bowl-A-Thon Fundraiser web page.

Very, truly, sincerely: Thank you.

Pro-Choice Resources Fundraiser

I may have mentioned once or twice that I feel quite strongly about safe and legal access to abortion.

Skeptical-looking dog and text that reads "...once or twice?"

Heh.

I blog about reproductive choice, access to birth control, and the benefits of sex education. I’ve held online panels about the lies that abortion-restriction proponents tell. I clinic escort. I donate to abortion funds and organizations that support sex education and health, and comprehensive reproductive options. I advocate for trans* inclusivity in conversations with my pro-choice peers.

And now I’m bowling.

Text Banner "Pro-Choice Resources Bowl-A-Thon"

This year I’m participating in a bowl-a-thon fundraiser for Pro-Choice Resources, a group that has as its goals, “advocacy, access, education and empowerment.” From the Pro-Choice Resources website.

Pro-Choice Resources (PCR) is a unique grassroots organization that provides a range of reproductive health services. PCR works every day to reduce barriers to reproductive health access. PCR is the only organization of its kind in the country to offer education, advocacy, financial assistance, and outreach under one roof.

I’ve seen PCR at the Minnesota State Fair (they gave away condoms-on-a-stick), and I attended one of their fundraiser banquets last year. I’ve spoken with clinic escorts who volunteer for PCR, and with people who support this group wholeheartedly. PCR is a MNSure advocate. They do sex education for youth groups and other at-risk populations in the Twin Cities, and they run the teen-oriented website birdsandbees.org. They fund abortions in the surrounding five-state area, and provide secular after-abortion support.

They’re doing good work. Heck yeah, I’ll bowl and fundraise for them!

And so I would like to humbly request your monies for Pro-Choice Resources via this Bowl-A-Thon fundraiser.

I am willing to be quite silly in the pursuit of your monies. And the more monies, the better. And the more silly.

Shrek-pleading-cat Kitty holding a hat with two front paws and pleading with HUGE black eyes

Plz can haz monies for to accessiblize reproductive healths?

Pro-Choice Resources has this fundraiser set up on a Blue Sky Collaborative website. They’ll send you a thank you email for supporting PCR, and I’m going to throw in a bunch of extras for those who donate through my personal fundraising page.

For Individual Donors:

Any Amount – I will send you a (photo of a) personal, hand-written thank you by email. Delivery goal: All emails delivered within one week of the end of the bowl-a-thon.

$25 or more – In addition to the above, I will send you a postcard thanking you for your donation (to anywhere in the world!). I would not have access to your mailing address via the PCR fundraising website, so I will put out a call for you to send me your address via email if you would like me to send you a postcard. Delivery goal: Date-stamped within two weeks of the end of the bowl-a-thon.

$50 or more – In addition to the above, I will devote a post to any question you’d like me answer or topic that you would like me to address. I make no promises about length or tone of the post, but on average I tend to devote between 500-1200 words to a topic that I find interesting.

Total Fundraising Goals:

If I raise the following amounts, I will do the following silly things:

$150 or more – I will post a photo of me with a bowling bowl, and wearing my team shirt (we’re “The Notorious P.I.D”)

$200 or more – In addition to the above, I will post a video of me granny-bowling and chanting “No back alleys in the night! For safe choices we will fight!”

$300 or more  - Both of the above, and I will do a dramatic armchair reading of some of the vile things that protesters say to patients and clinic escorts, and post a video of it.

$350 or more – The first three, and I will do the previously described reading in a smoking jacket with a pipe in my mouth and classical music playing in the background.

$400 or more – All of that stuff that I’ve already mentioned, and I’ll do the reading in a funny hat.

$500 or more – The first three, and instead of doing an armchair dramatic reading, I will have a friend do the dramatic reading while I act out the vile things that protesters say. And heck, we’ll turn it into a PSA about sidewalk bullying tactics.

Okay, so that’s about it. The Bowl-A-Thon will take place on March 20th, and I will get the individual and total goal deliverables out ASAP after that date.

What’s that? Oh, I haven’t told you how to donate to my fundraising page? Well that’s easy.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO BRIANNE’S BOWL-A-THON FUNDRAISER!!!!

Want to make an anonymous donation?

The awesome folks at Pro-Choice Resources responded incredibly quickly with information about how to make an anonymous donation, with suggestions for making the donations anonymous to me only, anonymous only to PCR, or completely anonymous to both of us. From PCR:

There isn’t a way to make an anonymous donation on the Bowl-a-Thon website. If someone wanted to make a donation that was anonymous to the bowler or team, [see below]. But the name would be known to Pro-Choice Resources.

To do that, a donor could make an online donation to PCR on our website and send me an email ([email protected]) that it is intended as an anonymous donation for someone’s Bowl-a-Thon team. And we can credit the donation anonymously to that bowler. Or they could mail a check per the instructions on the website.

If a donor would like to make a donation to an individual, but anonymous to PCR, the best way is for them to pay the bowler directly and have the bowler make out a check to PCR or bring cash at the Bowl-a-Thon.

Sex Ed – We’re Doin It Wrong

I was recently accepted as a volunteer for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota-North Dakota-South Dakota. One of the requirements for becoming a volunteer was attending four classes. The first two were introductions to the organization; the third and fourth were educational sessions focused on the basics of sexual transmitted infections (STIs), reproductive health and contraception. It makes a lot of sense to train volunteers in these topics, as the majority of what Planned Parenthood does is provide family planning and sexual health advice, education and health services.

After having attended these last two courses with a group of my peers, I say this: We need to do better at providing the people of this country standardized, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education.

Remember: All of the attendees of these courses want to be there. All of us believe in reproductive planning, promoting sexual health, positive sexuality, and supporting a woman’s right to  have an abortion. We are all supposedly “the good guys”. But goddamn there were some ridiculous beliefs that were shared in that classroom! There were misunderstandings about how common forms of birth control work, what happens during puberty, how certain STIs are spread, how communication with partners can limit the spread of STIs, how to bring up the issue of STIs with a new partner. There were prejudices, preconceptions and privileged opinions about issues such as sex before marriage, how many partners people “should” have, relationship status (monogamous vs. polygamous vs. open marriages, etc.), gender identity, how young someone should be before they have sex, if parents should have a say in whether an underage girl is allowed to have an abortion.

In a country that allows parents to pull their children from classrooms during sex ed…

When sex “education” still seems to come primarily from friends or the internet or those first fumbling encounters…

When sex, birth control, reproduction and sexual autonomy remain taboo subjects that aren’t discussed in “polite” company…

When these things happen we find ourselves in a climate where people speak the right words and espouse the right positions, but we still don’t know what the hell we’re talking about. A lot of people in that room probably walked in thinking they knew all there was too know about the basics of reproduction, contraception and STIs.

Planned Parenthood seems to understand the reality of sex education in this country, and they have taken steps to extend their educational outreach to their volunteers as well as their clients. We can do better.

Why We Need Sex Ed NOW

I was sent this infographic by a new group called Public Health Resources. According to their website, the group’s purpose is to provide a source of information and resources for people who are interested in pursuing a degree in public health. The infographic is called Why We Need Sex Ed Now. Here’s what the creators have to say about the project:

Today it’s pretty clear that abstinence-only education doesn’t work — and scientific studies prove it. Not only does it not work though, it actually worsens the problems that it claims to solve. States where abstinence-only education reigns supreme have the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the United States. At the same time, states that favor comprehensive sexual education — the type that teaches students about birth control — have the lowest levels of teen pregnancy.

Teen pregnancy rates are often closely mirrored with a nation’s public health status because high rates of pregnancy suggest a lack of protection during sex. And of course, a lack of protection leads to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. Every two minutes in the United States 3 teens get pregnant, and more than 80% of these pregnancies are unintended. We need sex ed now: not just as a matter of public health, but as a matter of sustaining the robust society that America has built over time. This graphic lays out all the facts and makes the case for protection.

[Read more...]

Clinic Escorting

In March I underwent clinic escort training for a women’s health center in Minneapolis. I am a strong supporter of a woman’s right to obtain affordable, confidential and safe abortions, and I believe that all people should have access to and information about sexual and reproductive health care. Being a clinic escort is one way for me to show my support for these issues and for the people who take advantage of these rights.

At the women’s health clinic at which I volunteer, a pro-life group has paid staff who stand outside and intercept women who have come to the clinic to have an abortion. These staff members hand out pamphlets filled with pictures of bloody tissue, stories from women who were “crippled by dispair and depression” because of their decision to have an abortion, and dubious or disproven claims about the links between abortion and breast cancer or future reproductive and sexual health. They walk alongside potential clinic patients and quote statistics at them or tell them to consider adoption or other alternatives to baby killing.

The women and men who come to the clinic often become exasperated, angry or distressed when these protesters get in their personal space and start speaking at them about abortion. They may yell back at the protesters, making a tense situation even more loaded. And as a clinic escort, do you know what I get to do in this situation?

I get to smile.

When a client approaches the clinic and is accosted by a protester, I get to stand off to the side in my bold yellow jacket that proclaims “clinic escort” on the front and smile, open the door to the clinic and motion them inside. That’s it. Nothing really world-saving there. I’m an unpaid doorwoman and it’s really easy work. But the relief on the clients’ faces at seeing a friendly, welcoming smile and having a guide past the aggressive in-your-face tactics of the protesters is the most incredible thing.

Last Saturday was my first day of escorting. There were  two of us escorting and four protesters, all of them regulars who are well-known to the clinic. We were all pretty nice to each other, considering we were diametrically opposed about the issue at hand. It felt very much like “you’re here to do your job, I’m here to do mine.” (and again – they’re *paid*, so they very literally were there to do their jobs).

At some point one of the ladies gently tried to hand me a pamphlet and I said “Look, while we’re out here together I’ll talk to you about anything you like except abortion.” She shrugged and we actually talked about the weather! She tried to slip abortion back into the conversation now and then, but each time I averted my gaze and sealed my lips. Then she’d sigh and go back to talking about her garden or grandkids. When a person or couple would approach the clinic, I would walk right next to the client(s) and distract them with chit-chat so the protester was relegated to speaking loudly at our backs. As soon as the client was inside the protestor and I would go back to discussing the weather.

It was an odd detente and I imagine a pretty good protester experience to have on my first day of escorting. I’m guessing they won’t all be this genial.

I learned about volunteering as a clinic escort from a twitter user named – appropriately enough – @clinicescort. Many Saturdays @clinicescort posts a tweet or two from the front lines about protests occurring at the clinic where she or he volunteers. I am always astounded by the spiteful, ignorant, close-minded vitriol that @clinicescort endures, but I am grateful that she or he is there to play interference for the clients of the clinic so that they can go about their day with less harassment. So far it seems like the protesters at my clinic are pretty benign – they don’t scream or unduly harrass, so small favors.

If you want more information about escorting, let me know in the comments or shoot me an email. And if you’re ever in downtown Minneapolis and you see me standing around in front of a building wearing a bright yellow jacket, make sure to give me a smile. I’ll certainly smile back.

Walk4Choice Minneapolis

On Saturday I walked with the Minneapolis contingent of the nation-wide Walk4Choice, a visibility event meant to draw attention to the recent anti-health legislation being proposed by pro-life advocates at both the federal and state levels.

Several bills have been introduced in 2011 which would do (or would have done) things like expand conscience clauses, define murder of those who attempt to harm a fetus as justifiable homicideredefine rape so that some types of rape would be “worse” than others (and thus less deserving of abortion and funding for abortion), put financial pressure on insurance companies who cover abortions, and call for the investigation of miscarriages as prenatal murder unless they can be proven to be spontaneous.

Perhaps the most heart-wrenching bills are those like H.R.3: No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion, which would cut federal funding for organizations that provide any type of abortion services. That means that organizations like Planned Parenthood would lose federal funding for desperately needed services such as contraception, breast and cervical cancer screening, gynecological exams, STD testing and other routine lab work, treatment for urinary tract infections and yeast infections and countless other services, education and support.

And here’s the real kicker with these bills that are being introduced in the interest of “not forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions”: Because of the Hyde Amendment, Planned Parenthood (and others) already cannot use federal funding in the vast majority of abortion services. Planned Parenthood serves over five million clients a year, and only about 3% of their services involve abortion counseling and abortion procedures.  Talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face.

H.R. 3 passed the US House on 2/18/11 and will next go before the Senate.

These types of bills are not intended to protect we taxpayers or to save lives; they are a distraction from greater problems that we face as a country. The lawmakers who are introducing these bills are wasting time until they can have a crack at the 2012 elections. Unfortunately, we can’t just dismiss these bills as the political posturing that we know them to be because people will suffer if we defund organizations like Planned Parenthood, if we restrict safe, legal access to abortion, if we stop offering affordable health services to men and women in a health care environment like the one we have in this country. So we write opinion pieces and blog posts, we call and email our congress members, we sign petititions, we send checks to organizations that support our rights, we have conversations with our friends and family.

And we walk.

Walk4Choice Minneapolis heads out from the intersection of 4th Street SE and 15th Ave SE in Dinkytown by the University of Minnesota, led by walk organizer Nora.

Walk4Choice supporters pose in front of the Minneapolis skyline on the Stone Arch Bridge. In total we had about 20 volunteers, with some people showing up later on the route.

In front of Minneapolis City Hall as the light rail glides by. Half of the group is huddling for warmth in the train shelter.


Two walkers laugh and cheer as we get shouts of support and honking from passing traffic. We had some hecklers and a few curses were thrown our way,
but for the most part people were polite. The honks, thumbs up, waves and cheers were very welcome encouragement.

Here we are on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. You can see the Pantages theater in the background. Halfway through the walk my lips and cheeks were so cold that I had trouble forming the word “women” when we chanted “Trust Women!”. We ended up walking about five miles on slushy, cold, icy, windy, snowy sidewalks and streets, and our organizer later used the hashtag #freeze4choice to describe our walk on Twitter.

This camera! I’m telling ya!

I’ve had a chance to play with my camera on the HTC Incredible, and I have to say – I’ve been pretty impressed with it.  The autofocus feature is great.  Below is a pair of pictures I took at work.  I focused the first pic in the foreground, and the second pic in the background.  All I did was touch the area of the screen where I wanted the camera to focus, and it did the rest.

Pretty amazing for a point-and-click camera.

I’ve had awesome, crisp photos in daylight settings, and I’ve been able to use the white balance to correct for incandescent and fluorescent indoor settings. 

I like all of the options for setting the on-screen review period, the resolution and ISO settings.  This camera has every option (and then some) that my traditional compact camera has. 

I also like the digital slider bars that control contrast/sharpness/saturation, brightness and the zoom, although I did find the zoom to be a little restrictive, i.e., I want to zoom more than the settings allow. 

Downsides to the HTC Incredible camera:

The laser roller button took a little getting used to, especially learning how to snap a photo without shaking the phone and ruining the picture.

No macro mode :(  But, the camera does do a good job with maintaining the focus for close-up pictures.

I’m a bit worried about the unprotected glass lens.  Glass doesn’t scratch as easily as say, plastic, but still  I wonder how long it will be before I manage to scuff the lens.  Photo source 

I don’t have any photography training, so excuse my mealy-mouth description of this – the pictures are sometimes too…saturated?  The colors are a bit unbelievable, sometimes, in some situations. 

The flash is very, very bright, and I haven’t yet figured out if there is a way to modulate the brightness.  Below, in the indoor low-light picture of my tomato plant, everything is washed out and blue.  I also haven’t been able to make good use of the flash in outdoor, shade situations.  And fugedaboutit with shiny/reflective surfaces – I washed out every glossy-cover book that I tried to shoot with flash, from every angle.  But I’m guessing that some fiddling around with different light/dark photos will help me hone my skill with this not-quite user-friendly flash. 

I found a nice review of the HTC phone at Mobility Digest that includes a lot of screen shots.

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Tomato Plant Update

We had a cold snap this past week in Minneapolis – well, not a snap so much as the temperature has plummeted and hasn’t come back up yet.  I went out one morning and found my poor tomato plant bent over at the base – the main stem had weakened in the cold.  I brought my three planters back inside and commandeered a corner in one of the apartment stairwells.  I bolstered the tomato plant stem by resting the top of the plant against the wall and waited to see what would happen.  It did bounce back, and is actually flowering, but I’m getting worried about the lack of direct sunlight.  Ugh – cold, rainy, cloudy weather.  Enough, already!

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And finally, Happy 50th Anniversary of the Pill! 

photo source

I found a great column in the NYTimes via Skepchick called What Every Girl Should Know.  The article was written by Gail Collins and it outlines a few of the outrageous ways women used to try to prevent pregnancy.  It includes a snippet from The Pill, sung by Loretta Lynn, and a few stories about Margaret Sanger and the melodramatic villan-esque Anthony Comstock. 

And speaking of Loretta Lynn:  Woman sang herself a song with The Pill!

Loretta Lynn: The Pill lyrics (source) - 1975
You wined me and dined me
When I was your girl
Promised if I’d be your wife
You’d show me the world
But all I’ve seen of this old world
Is a bed and a doctor bill
I’m tearin’ down your brooder house
‘Cause now I’ve got the pill

All these years I’ve stayed at home
While you had all your fun
And every year thats gone by
Another babys come
There’s a gonna be some changes made
Right here on nursery hill
You’ve set this chicken your last time
‘Cause now I’ve got the pill

This old maternity dress I’ve got
Is goin’ in the garbage
The clothes I’m wearin’ from now on
Won’t take up so much yardage
Miniskirts, hot pants and a few little fancy frills
Yeah I’m makin’ up for all those years
Since I’ve got the pill

I’m tired of all your crowin’
How you and your hens play
While holdin’ a couple in my arms
Another’s on the way
This chicken’s done tore up her nest
And I’m ready to make a deal
And ya can’t afford to turn it down
‘Cause you know I’ve got the pill

This incubator is overused
Because you’ve kept it filled
The feelin’ good comes easy now
Since I’ve got the pill
It’s gettin’ dark it’s roostin’ time
Tonight’s too good to be real
Oh but daddy don’t you worry none
‘Cause mama’s got the pill

Oh daddy don’t you worry none
‘Cause mama’s got the pill