Archive for April, 2009

100 Days for Obama

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Today is Obama’s 100th Day in office. Happy 100 days Obama. I know you have done a lot for this country but the work has just begun. In the next 100 days I would like to see three more vital changes:

  1. Labeling for Genetically Modified Foods.
  2. Negation of all patents on life in any form–including DNA, bacteria, and seeds.
  3. Prosecution of everyone else involved in torture.

Highlights of Obama’s first 100 days can be found on many a website this week. I will focus more on the coming weeks. Suffice to say Obama is doing a stellar job, particularly in comparison to his predecessor.

The right to fresh and pure air…

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

I am so tired of my stinky, rude, disgusting chain-smoking neighbors. They smoke so much that it comes up through my drain holes in the kitchen and bathrooms. Now that Spring has arrived—I wish to open my windows and get some fresh air but instead I inhale even more of their disgusting second-hand smoke. This really should be illegal. It is harmful to my health and impedes on my right to fresh and pure air.1

Dear F*cktard Neighbor,

Smoking is one thing—if you want to kill yourself, more power to you. However, when your smoking affects me or those I care about or anyone who does not consent to inhaling secondhand smoke, then your right to smoke is negated. You have NO right to harm another person.

Every single day you smoke like a chimney and stink up your house and MINE. You smoke indoors, you smoke outdoors…you even invite your family and friends over to smoke with you. I can’t escape your BAD HABIT!!!! Something is wrong with that! I appreciate your right to do whatever you’d like with YOUR family in your home but I draw the line when what you want to do with your family affects my health and well-being.

I fully believe it should be illegal to smoke in apartments or anywhere anyone else will be affected. I believe parents who smoke with children in the house should be warned and if they continue, they should have their children taken away. It is dangerous to your health—and to anyone else’s health who inhales your secondhand smoke! We do not allow drunk drivers to drive because they are dangerous and could harm themselves and others. We should not allow our neighbors or parents to kill by inconsiderate smoking. When should a bad habit become a legal concern? When people are harmed. It is that simple.

This is simply ridiculous. My lungs should not feel as if I partied in a smoky bar for hours last night because I take a shower above you! I should not open my window in hopes of clean and fresh air only to become inundated with a cloud of toxic smoke. I should not have to sit on my toilet and hold my breath to avoid your second-hand smoke.  Gawd! This is incredulous. I am a victim of your smoking and it is dangerous to us both! Why can’t you quit? I feel sorry for your children! If my lungs hurts, I can’t imagine how theirs must feel!

I honestly feel you should be charged with a crime. I really can’t stand you.

And to make it even worse, you are disgusting. You stink, you do not take care of yourself, you do nothing but smoke and leer in our direction, licking your lips. You are gross. We also have the right to come home and walk up the steps to our apartment without having you standing outside on your porch or on the common stairwell molesting us with your eyes—staring at us like we are pork chops. You are really repulsive. We do not, would not, could not and will never find you anything but repugnant and menacing—so don’t bother.

Try some Nicorette or the patch or some gum. Try being a good parent. Try washing your orange walls.

And I do fully intend on researching this further and if I can — I WILL — charge you with assault on my lungs and every single one of my senses you tobacco-crazed imbecile.


Your coughing, fed up upstairs neighbor…


Yes…kill the smoking or kill yourself but don’t kill me!

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Of Books and Birds v3

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

In keeping with the going trend…I will post another time about books and birds. This week’s bird of the week is a female Pine Siskin and Anna’s Hummingbird.

Female Pine Siskin

Female Pine Siskin

Female Pine Siskin

Female Pine Siskin

Female Pine Siskin

Female Pine Siskin

Female Pine Siskin

Female Pine Siskin

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

I really enjoy these little birdies. =) They are fun to watch, relaxing even. I would be hardpressed to think of a better day than a breezy Spring day relaxing with a good book and an unobstructed view of the birdies. These are the books I am currently reading—I know I haven’t given a thorough review of my last ones yet but I will get to it eventually.



What is Arbor Day?

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Next week on April 24th, 2009 is Arbor Day in the United States. So, what is Arbor Day?

Julius Sterling Morton, a journalist and a politician, founded the first Arbor Day in Nebraska. He long advocated tree-planting because he realized the importance of trees to the local landscape and economy. He was appointed to the state board of agriculture and this is where Arbor Day was born.

Morton proposed designating one day a year to plant trees or to inform others the importance of trees. April 10, 1872 was the very first Arbor Day designated by Morton himself. On this day more than one million trees were planted. The 2nd Arbor Day did not officially take place for another 12 years after it was declared an official state holiday in Nebraska. In the years following other states declared their own Arbor Days. Almost a century went by before President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April National Arbor Day in 1970. Since then this is when we celebrate it here in the United States.

In years to follow other countries have joined in. Some call their day and/or week Arbor Day/week, some have a different name for it but all educate about the importance of trees and plant trees during this time.

Trees provide us with oxygen, clean air, shelter, shade, a place to cool off, medicine, food, tools, clean soil. Trees control noise pollution, slow storm water runoff, act as wind breakers. Trees store excess carbon—helping maintain a livable temperature on this planet. Trees are beautiful and increase property values. Trees are home to many species big and small…almost all birds. Trees inspire art, give you the perfect place to read. Children love to climb them. They are invaluable in so many ways.

So. Plant a tree. Plant more than one. It is the least you could do. =)

For more information on what you can do to help or to get involved you can visit the Arbor Day website. If you live outside of the United States you can find out when Arbor Day or something similar is celebrated in your country here.

Stamped Philanthropy

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

I have always enjoyed handwritten correspondence. I like paper, envelopes and stamps. I like the impression left on the paper with the pen filling with ink on the paper. I like the feel of the paper under my hands. I like to post them and I like to receive them. I am always searching for new pretty paper with matching envelopes. I even use holiday paper… I know, I am a geek. =) I also like to pick interesting stamps. I have for many years. I think the flag stamps are boring (patriotic but…boring). I used the Breast Cancer Awareness stamps as default for a long time. Each stamp meant a few more cents towards Breast Cancer research. I am a sucker for a good cause coupled with something I enjoy—like writing letters or sending mail.

I’ve slacked a bit in my writing the past few years. Tsk, tsk. I will try to work on that.  I did order some stamps recently. I had some of the Breast Cancer Awareness stamps and some Edgar Allen Poe stamps (because I love his work) but I wanted to buy a bird stamp (to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day 2009) so I went to the UPSP site and started looking. Here is what I ordered.

The 2004-2005 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp—the Redheads (in my honor hahahaha). It is a $15 stamp but it is not mailable. It is purely for conservation means. The money is donated to the National Wildlife Refuge System to help maintain the 5-million-plus acres of habitat.

2004-2005 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp

2004-2005 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp

Next, I came upon the Alzheimer’s stamp and thought of my dearest friend whose grandfather is struggling with memory issues. Naturally, I ordered them.

Alzheimer Awareness Stamp

Alzheimer Awareness Stamp

And last but not least I got some stamps from my birth state. I will leave you guessing on that one.

I am still in pursuit of some cool new paper but I am simply not finding any. However, I did find this most interesting journal. I ordered it for someone special. It arrived yesterday. It is plantable. Brilliant idea. It is symbolic as well as earth friendly (made with post-consumer recycled paper and plantable!). It is perfect for anyone who needs to grow through some pain. Write it out and plant it.




The Bay of Pigs Remembered

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

I am proud of my President, Barack Obama for taking the first step towards mending the gaping wound between our country and our exotic small neighbor Cuba. It is a start, though small in light of all that has happened. It is too little, perhaps too late but it is something. There is a lot of work to be done to end the suffering we have caused for Latin American countries. Here are few of the things we could do immediately.

  1. End the embargo against Cuba.
  2. Close the School of Assassins also known as the School of the Americas or renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in 2001. This is a school located in Fort Benning, Georgia. Latin American teachers in this training facility teach counter-insurgency, military intelligent and combat in Spanish to Latin American assassins and mercenaries. And all of it is funded by the United States. Some of its graduates includ the following Latin American dictators Manuel Noriega, Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri Castelli and Roberto Eduardo Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, and  Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia.
  3. Set the record straight on the Bay of Pigs or La Batalla de Girón.
  4. We funded, trained, equipped and sent angry Cuban exiles on a clandestine mission to invade the South of Cuba. These exiles were the same men who supported the violent dictator Fulgencio Batista who violently terrorized his people before being driven out by Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and other revolutionaries. The highly trained and armed exile mercenaries landed on a small beach, Playa Girón, erroneously believing they could easily take Cuba back by force if they entered through a small town instead of a big city like Havana. They thought they would gain support of the simple farming folk, also known as campesinos, since mostly they had been forgotten about by their own country before the revolution. However, the opposite happened. They were met with much opposition from the campesinos. These people who had long since been forgotten or relegated to the least importance in their country were now helping the revolutionaries build roads to and from their towns. They were given the opportunity to be educated and to educate others. Women and children were given freedom and responsibility but they were also given recognition and respect. The campesinos were finally involved in their country’s politics. They were actively helping to make their country a better place. They were treated like equals for the first time in perhaps their entire history. And thus, they wanted nothing more than to fight for their new found freedom and respect. The lifelong inequality they had faced was crumbling before them and they were not about to allow the same people who had kept them in such a position for so long return to power. It was not the military assistance from Russia or China that won this battle for Cuba, it was the people who had enough of political and military tyranny. We had no right to be a part of the Bay of Pigs let alone be the masterminds and financiers behind it.
  5. Repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act which unnecessarily entices Cuban immigrants to risk their own lives to get to the United States. We are building higher, thicker walls between here and Mexico—manning it with more and more armed people ready and willing to shoot—just to keep the illegal immigrants out of our country but we are all but inviting thousands of Cubans to trek the 90 miles of treachorous waters in unsafe floating devices all to spite the Cuban government? It is a political ploy to make Cuba look like the worst place to live. The Cuba of today is NOT the same as the Cuba of 1959 or 1961 or even 10 years ago. Why don’t we give the same treatment to the Haitians or Dominicans who risk their lives cross the sea to find refuge here from real political chaos? Furthermore, the Cuban Adjustment Act assists the ever-increasing human trafficking market by way of its allowing unrestricted access to the ‘poor’ Cubans who venture out into those waters. Most Cubans after the initial lot of exiles some 50 years ago leave not for political reasons but rather for financial ones. Lifting the embargo would do wonders to relieve the economic stresses it has created. (See #1)

We have harassed Cuba in so many ways for too long. It is time to stop, past time.

I can still remember the taxi driver I met in Cienfuegos whose eyes filled with tears at the thought of his brother who died at Playa Girón during the Bay of Pigs which happened almost 48 years ago (April 17-19th, 1961). I remember how despite losing his only brother in this senseless battle, he was extremely gracious and welcoming to me. He invited me to his house to meet his daughter and granddaughter. He gave me a tour of his beautiful home and told me the story of the days right after the revolution. He, like all the Cubans I encountered, were not resentful or bitter or rude but welcoming and hopeful that one day our countries could behave like good neighbors.

This week the suffering of the Cuban people is on my mind and I hope soon the United States will cease to be a continuous economic, emotional and political source of anguish. I believe Obama has a similar goal for our Caribbean neighbor but whether or not it is feasible for him to accomplish even the 3 things above, I simply do not know, but he can try. And a little effort goes a long way! Thanks again Obama for having the courage to do the right thing.

Bienvenido Vecino

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Obama has been making excellent strides towards restoring our Political Legitimacy throughout the world. This will do more to keep us safe than 7 years of fighting in Iraq. It is time we show some diplomacy. To carry a big stick is one thing, to beat people over the head to make them see things your way is another.

Cuba is not a threat to the United States. Anyone who thinks it is—simply is uneducated about the situation. Those Cuban expatriates that left Cuba out of fear because of what they allowed to happen to their people, even their students, stealing the country’s money on their way out—have been paying politicians for years to keep this ridiculous embargo going. It is time to end this nonsense. It is not keeping us safe, it is not teaching anyone a lesson. It is simply strangling relations with a country of beautiful people who have a strong sense of moral values while making it extremely difficult for them to thrive economically.

Though somehow despite this economic stranglehold these people have thrived, they have learned, they have educated their people, they have grown and helped throughout the world in crisis and in teaching thousands of people worldwide to practice medicine. One of their biggest exports is doctors, did you know that? They even offered to send doctors and aid up to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. They have given the world so much and wish to give even more. It is time we give back.

Thank you Obama for taking this first step…today many families will go to sleep or wake up thrilled, relieved, crying in happiness knowing they can freely visit or care for their loved ones, for the people they grew up with, for the people they left behind, for the people who left them behind… children who taken away from their families, parents who sent their children to a foreign place out of ignorant fear, brothers who haven’t seen sisters since childhood, grandparents, friends, old lovers… you have reunited an entire people with this decision. Thank you, Obama.


Office of the Press Secrectary
For Immediate Release                                      April 13, 2009


Today, the Obama administration announced a series of changes in U.S. policy to reach out to the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their country’s future. In taking these steps to help bridge the gap among divided Cuban families and promote the freer flow of information and humanitarian items to the Cuban people, President Obama is working to fulfill the goals he identified both during his presidential campaign and since taking office.

All who embrace core democratic values long for a Cuba that respects basic human, political and economic rights of all its citizens. President Obama believes these measures will help make that goal a reality.

Cuban American connections to family in Cuba are not only a basic right in humanitarian terms, but also our best tool for helping to foster the beginnings of grassroots democracy on the island. There are no better ambassadors for freedom than Cuban Americans. Accordingly, President Obama will direct the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Commerce to support the Cuban people’s desire for freedom and self-determination by lifting all restrictions on family visits and remittances as well as taking steps that will facilitate greater contact between separated family members in the United States and Cuba and increase the flow of information and humanitarian resources directly to the Cuban people. The President is also calling on the Cuban government to reduce the charges it levies on cash remittances sent to the island so family members can be assured they are receiving the support sent to them.

Specifically, the President has directed the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Commerce to take the needed steps to:

  • Lift all restrictions on transactions related to the travel of family members to Cuba.
  • Remove restrictions on remittances to family members in Cuba.
  • Authorize U.S. telecommunications network providers to enter into agreements to establish fiber-optic cable and satellite telecommunications facilities linking the United States and Cuba.
  • License U.S. telecommunications service providers to enter into roaming service agreements with Cuba’s telecommunications service providers.
  • License U.S. satellite radio and satellite television service providers to engage in transactions necessary to provide services to customers in Cuba.
  • License persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to activate and pay U.S. and third-country service providers for telecommunications, satellite radio and satellite television services provided to individuals in Cuba.
  • Authorize the donation of certain consumer telecommunication devices without a license.
  • Add certain humanitarian items to the list of items eligible for export through licensing exceptions.


Supporting the Cuban people’s desire to freely determine their future and that of their country is in the national interest of the United States. The Obama administration is taking steps to promote greater contact between separated family members in the United States and Cuba and increase the flow of remittances and information to the Cuban people.

Lift All Restrictions on Family Visits to Cuba

We will lift all restrictions on family visits to Cuba by authorizing such transactions by a general license, which will strengthen contacts and promote American good will. We will ensure the positive reach of this effort by:

  • Defining family members who may be visited to be persons within three degrees of family relationship (e.g., second cousins) and to allow individuals who share a common dwelling as a family with an authorized traveler to accompany them;
  • Removing limitations on the frequency of visits;
  • Removing limitations on the duration of a visit;
  • Authorizing expenditure amounts that are the same as non-family travel; and
  • Removing the 44-pound limitation on accompanied baggage.

Remove Restrictions on Remittances

We will remove restrictions on remittances to a person’s family member in Cuba to increase Cubans’ access to resources to help create opportunities for them by:

  • Authorizing remittances to individuals within three degrees of family relationship (e.g., second cousins) provided that no remittances shall be authorized to currently prohibited members of the Government of Cuba or currently prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party;
  • Removing limits on frequency of remittances;
  • Removing limits on the amount of remittances;
  • Authorizing travelers to carry up to $3,000 in remittances; and
  • Establishing general license for banks and other depository institutions to forward remittances.

Authorize Greater Telecommunications Links with Cuba

We will authorize greater telecommunications links with Cuba to advance people-to-people interaction at no cost to the U.S. government. This will increase the means through which Cubans on the island can communicate with each other and with persons outside of Cuba.

  • Authorize U.S. telecommunications network providers to enter into agreements to establish fiber-optic cable and satellite telecommunications facilities linking the United States and Cuba.
  • License U.S. telecommunications service providers to enter into and operate under roaming service agreements with Cuba’s telecommunications service providers.
  • License U.S. satellite radio and satellite television service providers to engage in transactions necessary to provide services to customers in Cuba.
  • License persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to activate and pay U.S. and third-country service providers for telecommunications, satellite radio and satellite television services provided to individuals in Cuba, except certain senior Communist Party and Cuban government officials.
  • Authorize, consistent with national security concerns, the export or re-export to Cuba of donated personal communications devices such as mobile phone systems, computers and software, and satellite receivers through a license exception.

Revise Gift Parcel Regulations

We will expand the scope of humanitarian donations eligible for export through license exceptions by:

  • Restoring clothing, personal hygiene items, seeds, veterinary medicines and supplies, fishing equipment and supplies, and soap-making equipment to the list of items eligible to be included in gift parcel donations;
  • Restoring items normally exchanged as gifts by individuals in “usual and reasonable” quantities to the list of items eligible to be included in gift parcel donations;
  • Expanding the scope of eligible gift parcel donors to include any individual;
  • Expanding the scope of eligible gift parcel donees to include individuals other than Cuban Communist Party officials or Cuban government officials already prohibited from receiving gift parcels, or charitable, educational or religious organizations not administered or controlled by the Cuban government; and
  • Increasing the value limit on non-food items to $800.

Resources for Ovarian Cancer

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Johns Hopkins Pathology — Resources for Ovarian Cancer

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

Eyes on the Prize — Support Group

Ovarian News

Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

Ovarian Cancer Community Forum

University of Texas — Ovarian cancer information

Facing Our Risk

Gilda Radner Familial Ovarian Cancer Registry

Ovarian Plus: Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Quarterly

Ovarian Problems Listserve

SHARE: Self-help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer

A resource guide to those newly diagnosed with Ovarian can be found here.

New Hope in Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

British scientists have developed a drug that could prolong lives of women suffering from ovarian cancer.

read more | digg story

This is news-worthy indeed. I will be watching this study intently. Apparently. Another study in the UK has found some really positive results for some new testing—to detect ovarian cancer earlier rather than later. This is extremely important to improving the chance of survival. It would seem the UK is putting forth significant funding to study ovarian cancer whereas the U.S. really is not. Why should they when the pharmaceutical companies provide such perks to deter new effective treatments? I am disgusted with the lack of effort given by the U.S. companies despite the hideous amount of money they rake in each year.

Thank you Britain for caring enough about women and the men and children who love them (and need them for survival) for doing something.

Furthermore, I have ample time to think about ovarian cancer, the effects, and the symptoms—despite its claim to being the silent killer—I sometimes think it should be named the deaf killer—as doctors are often deaf to a woman’s intimate health complaint. Last year the American Cancer Society finally came to a consensus about some early warning signs for ovarian cancer:1

  • bloating
  • pelvic or abdominal pain
  • trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • urinary symptoms such as urgency (always feeling like you have to go) or frequency (having to go often)

Others symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:

  • fatigue
  • upset stomach
  • back pain
  • pain during sex
  • constipation
  • menstrual changes

However, these symptoms are more likely to be caused by other conditions, and they occur just about as often in women who do not have ovarian cancer.2

I have always been dubious about the said lack of symptoms. What I know to be true is that I went to the doctor on numerous occasions with a variety of symptoms that were abnormal for me only to be blown off like a worry wart, dismissed as a ‘hysterical’ female overly worried about her health. Well, listen up physicians—you are supposed to want to help heal and prevent illness—that starts by listening carefully to your patients. Listen to me when I say my pelvic area feels odd, different. Listen when I say it hurts to have sex. Don’t suggest I am frigid and just need a glass of wine! I can orgasm just fine and that is a poor assumption on your part simply because you have no clue what you are talking about.

And this is why too many women die with ovarian cancer. It is caught too late but not because of its silence as much as your inattentiveness to our complaints.

Furthermore, why aren’t all women given the blood tests to look for the gene mutations or presence of cancer antigens?3 This should be a standard treatment with the yearly exams.

I am not finished with this topic. I will revisit it again and again. But for now I will end this post. If you have any interesting information regarding ovarian cancer, its treatment, its prevention—please do share.

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Of Books and Birds v2

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Two constants in my life are books and birds—that is not to say there are not other constants but these two stand out for me right now. I wish to share the books I am reading with you and the birds that are coming to my feeders. I have four feeders and 2 bird houses. This is quite the feat considering I live in an apartment and all of those are on my balcony. Hahahaha. I do so love my birds.

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

I have better photos but this one I took just a few moments ago — and so I thought it would be the best to share. I will also share a photo of a female house finch that visits regularly.

Female House Finch

Female House Finch

I really enjoy watching and listening to the birds. This week has been sunny and they haven’t missed a note in enjoying the newly come spring time weather. They were flying in elaborate aerial patterns trying to impress potential mates. They were singing pretty for all to hear. I like spring and I like birds.

I am currently reading the following books.

Women of the Asylum by Jeffrey L. Geller and Maxine Harris

Women of the Asylum by Jeffrey L. Geller and Maxine Harris

This book is a collection of personal accounts by women who were locked away in the mental institutions against their will. It is sad but revealing. Not so much has changed for women and mental health.

Lover of Unreason: Assia Wevill, Sylvia Plath's Rival and Ted Hughes Doomed Love

Lover of Unreason: Assia Wevill, Sylvia Plath's Rival and Ted Hughes Doomed Love

This is the biography of Assia Wevill—Ted Hughes’ second wife who committed suicide, taking her daughter’s life with her own. I will let you know in detail what I think of this book when I finish it.

I am reading a few for classes but I won’t share these with you unless you really want to know…then you can leave a comment. I will also give thorough reviews of these books when I am finished with them.