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Poetry and snark blogger who also has a creative side (who knew?)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Celebrate Banned Books Week!

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The paper burns, but the words fly away.  ~Akiba ben Joseph

During the last week of September every year, hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. The 2011 celebration of Banned Books Week will be held from September 24 through October 1. Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,000 books have been challenged since 1982. For more information on Banned Books Week, click here

According to the American Library Association, there were 348 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2010, and many more go unreported.

The 10 most challenged titles of 2010 were:

And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: offensive language, racism, religious viewpoint, sex education, sexually explicit, violence, unsuited to age group
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit
Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
Reasons: drugs, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit
The Hunger Games (series), by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: sexually explicit, violence, unsuited to age group
Lush, by Natasha Friend
Reasons: drugs, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group
What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich
Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint
Revolutionary Voices edited by Amy Sonnie
Reasons: homosexuality, sexually explicit
Twilight (series), by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence, unsuited to age group

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy New Year!

Forget about the Shake Weight, y'all. If you really want a strenuous total arm workout, try making homemade challah! Yes, it's that time of year again (don't ask me what time or what year-it's too confusing in Jewish months and years!), but it's Rosh Hashanah or Jewish New Year.

If I were an observant Jew, I would be in temple today. However, I consider myself "Jewish Light." I'm more culturally Jewish than religiously Jewish. I married an Italian Catholic for Christ sake! So, in the spirit of both Jews and Italians, I spent the day cooking!

Challah, which is a sweet, egg bread, can be eaten any time of the year, but it is eaten especially at Rosh Hashanah. It's also baked into round loaves at this time to signify the circle of life. Jews believe that during the next 2 weeks, God opens the Book of Life. We scurry around atoning for the previous year's sins and praying to have our names inscribed in the Book for the coming year before the Book is closed again. How do you know if your name is written in the Book? If you die during the next year, it wasn't.
Jabba the Challah?

ready to bake
all done!
Today was quite rainy, which made the proceedings rather sticky and more difficult than usual. Hopefully, it will taste OK. So, to everyone in blogland, Shana Tova (a good and sweet year!)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Not Playing Nicely

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If you work at or seek services at a clinic that provides abortions, you should probably be prepared to find protesters outside the building.  These anti-choice protests have become a staple of the movement to rescind a woman's right to abortion. 

If you attend a Back To School Night at your child's middle school, you would probably not be prepared to find protesters outside the building, nor should you be. However, this is exactly what the parents of children at Robert Frost Middle School in Rockville, MD found last Thursday. It seems that the protesters decided that the middle school would be a good place to march around with signs and banners with pictures of aborted fetuses that read "Please STOP the Child Killing." Why here? The landlord of the building that houses an abortion clinic has a child who attends the school.

Reproductive Health Services in Germantown, MD.  is a private clinic that provides abortions. Its staff is all too familiar with anti-choice protesters.  The clinic physician, LeRoy Carhart, M.D., arrived in December of last year and is one of the few doctors who openly acknowledges performing late pregnancy abortions. He has been the target not only of protests but of numerous death threats from "pro-lifers."  The activists have reportedly been trying for months to get the clinic shut down and thought that the middle school would make a good public venue for their protest.  In addition to their slogans and pictures of dead babies, the protesters also held a banner that showed the landlord's photo, full name, and phone number.

Besides being totally appalling and inappropriate, I find it hypocritical that a group of people who say they respect life show such blatant disrespect for the lives of those who are already here. It seems as though the only lives they respect are those still in the womb. What about the life of the landlord's child who attends that middle school? What about the lives of the other parents who were subjected to that protest that night? What about their children, many of whom may have been too young to understand what the pictures were even about but may have been frightened by the whole ordeal?

I can respect those whose opinions differ from my own, but do these zealots really think they are going to change anyone's mind by their methods? When someone attacks my beliefs, they become more entrenched. When someone yells at me, I tune them out. Maybe these protesters should go back to school and learn to play nice.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ever Feel Like This???

Word for the day: matriphagy

When the babies are around a month old teens, the mother spider rolls over on her back allowing the spiderlings to clamber over her, kill her by injecting their venom and digestive enzymes into her body, and eat her.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lying With Dogs or Ticked Off

It has been a while since I've posted. Earthquakes and hurricanes have come and gone, and these I've taken in stride. Now, however, I have been cursed by the spawn of the Devil himself. I have been tick bombed! Not only have I had to suffer with this horrendous plague, but my poor dogs have been struck. For the past several days, we have been living in tick hell.

For those of you who have the incredible luck (or foresight) not to live in an area where ticks reside, count your blessings! These nasty little critters were put on earth for no reason but to annoy and gross out humanity (and other animals.) I have questioned real, live naturalists about ticks, and they, too, are stumped as to their purpose in nature. I think ticks are God's way of saying F you! to humanity. And, I must've done something to piss off the Big Guy (Gal) this week!

My dogs didn't just bring home ticks after their walk. They do that on a regular basis, and I always keep a tweezers handy to pick the little blood suckers off them, myself, and family members on a daily basis. Yuck! Oh no. They apparently walked through a tick nest and were tick bombed by seed ticks! Seed ticks, you say? What the heck are seed ticks? Hope you never have to find out, my lovelies, because they are the seed of the Demon himself!

seed ticks on finger
Seed ticks are not a particular species of tick but are the larval or nymph stage of a tick. They sit in hundreds, nay thousands, in tall grass waiting for a tasty looking dog or person to walk by. Then they instantaneously attach themselves to the unsuspecting victim and hang on for dear life. They look like tiny poppy seeds (hence the name) or specks of dirt, but when you look closely or remove one, it crawls. The legs are so tiny you can barely see them. Imagine hundreds of poppy seeds suddenly crawling over your ankles. Yeah, it's a nightmare. They can leave itchy bite marks at the attachment site, and may or may not spread tick-borne illness (I've read differing opinions on this).

seed ticks on pants
So, this week, I spent the better part of a day picking tiny, blood filled baby parasites off my dogs' bellies, paws, and legs.  Of course, by the time I discovered the seed ticks all over my dogs, the dogs had already jumped all over my bed, so I also found little, crawling buglets all over my bed and carpet! Can you say freaked out? I've never done so much laundry in my life! Stripped the bed, washed the bathroom carpets, all the blankets the dogs lay on, and all the clothes they came in contact with. Then I vacuumed everywhere. Twice. Not to mention giving the pooches their dose of Frontline, which is essentially a systemic insecticide (don't even tell me that it's toxic-so is Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever!) My poor Maltese had red welts all over his body, and I still have about 2 dozen itchy red bites all over my calves, ankles, and feet! Not fun. 

I think (hope, pray) the tick bomb is getting under control now. I haven't found any new ones on the dogs since yesterday and haven't seen any on my bed or carpet for 2 days now. I'm still vacuuming like a fiend, which is one of my least favorite activities of all time (right after picking seed ticks off dog bellies).  If I don't post again for a while, keep me in your thoughts. I may be battling locusts or cattle disease or some other plague sent from above. Or from below, like those damn ticks!