Anita Finlay has written a book about women who run for office and the unique obstacles they face.

Teen Pregnancy and Plan B

The Obama administration has allowed age restrictions on Plan B to prevent anyone under 17 from being allowed to purchase it.  Plan B is a high dose hormone pill that can prevent pregnancy if it is taken within 3 days after unprotected sex.  Obama’s reasoning is focused on the red herring of an 11 year old, like his daughter, becoming pregnant.

Melissa McEwan says it best:

“You know, I don’t want 11-year-old girls having the need for Plan B, because an 11-year-old girl who has the need for Plan B is an 11-year-old girl who was raped. But in the imperfect world in which we live, where 11-year-olds are raped and made pregnant, often by the family members on whom they have to rely to get access to emergency contraception, the only real options are giving access to Plan B to 11-year-olds who need it and leaving those 11-year-olds with one less option.”

So lets look at teen pregnancy in terms of a kid’s life.  A normal pregnancy lasts longer than a school year.  It is likely delivering a baby will disrupt one of her semesters at school and she will get to repeat those classes. Girls who have babies before the age of 18 drop out of school at a much higher rate.

When they realize they are pregnant, many teenagers will hide the pregnancy from friends and family.  Even if a teenager is not hiding the pregnancy and getting prenatal care, there is a big chance that baby will be born with health problems, from the March of Dimes:

A baby born to a teenage mother is at higher risk than a baby born to an older mother for premature birth, low birthweight, other serious health problems and death. (emphasis mine)

Babies of teenage mothers are more likely to die in the first year of life than babies of women in their twenties and thirties. The risk is highest for babies of mothers under age 15. In 2005, 16.4 out of every 1,000 babies of women under age 15 died, compared to 6.8 per 1,000 for babies of women of all ages (9).

Teenage mothers are more likely to have a low-birthweight baby. Most low-birthweight babies are born prematurely. The earlier a baby is born, the less she is likely to weigh. In 2006, 10 percent of mothers ages 15 to 19 had a low-birthweight baby, compared to 8.3 percent for mothers of all ages (2). The risk is higher for younger mothers:

11.7 percent of 15-year-old mothers had a low-birthweight baby in 2006; 18,403 babies were born to girls this age, with 2,153 of low birthweight (2).
9.5 percent of 19-year-old mothers had a low-birthweight baby in 2006; 172,999 babies were born to these women, with 16,362 of low birthweight (2).

Babies who are premature and low birthweight may have organs that are not fully developed. This can lead to breathing problems, such as respiratory distress syndrome, bleeding in the brain, vision loss and serious intestinal problems.

Very low-birthweight babies (less than 3 1/3 pounds) are more than 100 times as likely to die, and moderately low-birthweight babies (between 3 1/3 and 5½ pounds) are more than 5 times as likely to die, in their first year of life than normal-weight babies (2).

The age of consent in most states is between 14 and 16 years where the age of the partner is within 2-5 years, here is a table illustrating the age of consent by state if you are curious.

It is really hard to find good data on the ages of the fathers.  Most of the data is incomplete and the authors of the papers I could find would extrapolate the data out to be consistent with the reported ages of the fathers.  This paper (from the references sited by the Wikipedia page about Teen Pregnancy) makes the amazing statement that 2/3 of the pregnancies involving teenage girl’s are fathered by men over 20.   In other words, many of the teenage pregnancies are the result of rape even though popular wisdom would suggest teen pregnancy is the result of two teenagers “getting carried away”.  The Education Training Resource Associates map out the ages of both partners that show how many of the pregnancies involve men much older than the girls.  See this table illustrating the ages of both partners where the mother is a teenager.  There is also a contrasting illustration at the bottom of the same paper showing the boys who become fathers as teenagers with women who are over 20.

Why would Obama and Kathleen Sebelius deny girls the ability to prevent pregnancy using Plan B when so many of the girls are being raped through violence or coercion?


Santa Visit at The Pet Market

I’m catching a cold, so I really didn’t want to do anything today.  Unfortunately, I had made a reservation to have a Santa picture done with Izzy the dog, Kiki and Apple the cats and the girl.

Now won’t that be cute?

First, I had some trouble getting motivated to move, let alone take a shower.

I also lacked the energy required to repeat the reminders to the girl that she get dressed in matching clothes, brush her teeth and hair and maybe wash her face.  The moment I ask if she has her coat, she runs into my bedroom with a hairbrush asking for help.  She is wearing a black sweater with pink t-shirt sleeves (I think it may have been a sweater-dress a couple years ago) and white shorts with big blue and orange flowers.  I realize my description does not do this ensemble justice, so I guess it will remain one of those things you had to see.  Just in case the “Santa pictures” weren’t an indicator, we do have winter weather here.  I help her brush her hair where I find a bit of gum but I think it goes nicely with the shorts.  I get the front of her hair smooth and off we run, but as we are going out of the room, I notice she has one of those poofy spots on the side of her hair from her pillow.

She decided to take a detour and put pink stretch pants on.  I might have told her those shorts would be cute FOREVER in the picture, helping her to decide to change.

I grab the three kennels and Kiki foolishly hangs around to check them out, so I grabbed her and stuffed her into the first kennel.  Easy cheesy! We still have 15 minutes before we need to see Santa!  I found Apple next, sleeping on a chair, so I scooped her up and carried her to the kennels.  I think Kiki tipped her off because she started to struggle as we approached.  I got the kennel open and was getting Apple positioned to squish in, when Izzy the dog rushed in.  Crap!  I pulled Izzy out of the kennel and by this time, Apple has become a gloopy mess of liquid cat pouring herself through my arms to escape.  She also has extended her rear claws with lethal force, so I let her go.  Meanwhile, Izzy the dog has rushed back into the kennel.

I pulled Izzy out of the kennel (we still have 12 minutes!) and put a pony tail on top of her head.  She isn’t really a dog, she’s a Yorkie, so pony tails are requisite for Santa pictures.  Izzy loves kennels, so she hops right back in.  Now we rush to the car with the two kennels filled with our most compliant pets and off we go.  I made one more attempt to catch Apple but she managed to have even more claws while being boneless – so I gave up.

We got to The Pet Market just in time for our appointment.  Izzy was terrified and started shaking uncontrollably, I had to close the kennels to keep her from hiding inside them.  Kiki acted like she owned the place and just sniffed around checking out Santa and camera equipment.  Everyone piled onto Santa’s lap and then Kiki started her boneless act, slipping through Santa’s arm.  I sneaked behind them and poked her back into Santa’s lap.  Then I ran and stood behind the photographer and called Kiki the cat (in my best squeaky cat voice) but she studiously refused to look in my direction… then the lady with the camera blew a duck call and everyone looked.


The Super Committee Failure -or- Why Can’t Americans learn to Love Austerity?

Since “increasing” taxes is off the table and so is letting tax cuts expire, we will be asked to believe token cuts of sacred military programs are part of a larger national “coming together”.  Nice how they were totally on board with dropping the “Making Work Pay” tax credit, in effect increasing taxes for the lowest paid in the economy during the last round of budget negotiations.

Here are my old posts from January outlining the playbook for this shell game that is all about how to make the lower and middle class LOVE austerity or at least believe corporations shouldn’t pay tax at all because they are “job creators” – in India & China.

Here’s how Military spending will offered up for cuts to give us a “sense” of “shared sacrifice”. My posts are from January, but I can see this playing out now since these things operate at the speed of government:

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

If you like chocolate and peanut butter – this recipe is for you!

First, make peanut butter rice crispy treats, recipe can be found at:

To make it easy, I’ve brought the key parts of the recipe over:

3 Tbsp margarine or butter

4 cups mini marshmallows

1/2 cup peanut butter

6 cups rice crispies

Melt the margarine or butter in a very large sauce pan and add the marshmallows.  Stir until melted and creamy, stir in the rice crispies and then fold in the peanut butter.  Spread the treats into a large pan lined with parchment or wax paper.  This is seriously sticky stuff, so spray a little non-stick cooking spray on a rubber spatula and use it to press the rice crispy treats into the pan.

Admittedly, these are pretty good but imagine adding chocolate and more peanut butter!

So, once you have squished those rice crispy treats into your pan make this peanut butter chocolate frosting:

6 oz chocolate chips

1 cup peanut butter

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for about 30 seconds and then add the peanut butter.  Microwave a little more until it is smooth and creamy when stirred and no chunks of chocolate remain.  Pour the frosting over the rice crispy treats and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, if you can wait that long.

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Squares

Cut into bars and serve.  I always cut the edges off to make beautiful bars of uniform shape and then I eat the edges before anyone sees them!

Finished Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Squares

This recipe can be allergy friendly:

Dairy-free by using dairy-free margarine and chocolate chips

Peanut free by using almond or other nut-style butter

Gluten free by using gluten free Rice Krispies

** for allergy modifications, always be sure to check the rice crispy box, peanut butter, margarine and chocolate chips – just to be sure!

Occupy whatever the hell you want!

All my favorite blogs are dominated by posts for or against OWS (occupy wall street) and I’ve been missing newsy liberal posts  in the posts for/against the whole OWS thing.  For the record, I’d love (LOVE) to see some bankers in orange or at least charged/tried for the fraud that led to the meltdown in the economy.  I’d settle for breaking up the large, un-auditable banks into smaller, more oversight friendly banks and financial institutions.  I’d love to see OWS improve the focus on the part of our elected officials to help people find jobs and afford healthcare.

But, to be honest, I’m not feeling it.

It seems like everyone has a different idea about OWS is based on what they need.  While I can appreciate those positions, there doesn’t seem to be enough criticism of our government from OWS.  The government has allowed the needs of the banks needs to trump the needs of everyone else  and they have actually contributed to making banks even bigger when they were too big to fail to start with.   The government has also given only lip service (at best) to the unemployed and underemployed while mandating a health insurance bailout and austerity for individuals.  All the while our courts have been giving corporations a voice commiserate to the money they can spend in political speech and life.

I would be more on board with OWS if they were actually trying to change the legislation that allows the corruption or chooses not to prosecute it.

Bake Sale

If you ever find yourself needing to contribute to a bake sale for a school with a cat/dog mascot, probably bobcats, wolves, tigers, etc… would work too:

Marshmallow Truffles:

40 large marshmallows (the old kind of large, not the new huge – large)

1 package chocolate melts

1 large jar of chocolate sprinkles

Dip the marsmallows in melted chocolate and then roll in sprinkles.  The result will look, um…

After these are done, package them in unfancy, clear baggies and make a cute label for them claiming they were made by the mascot animal.

Husky Snacks (made by real huskies!)

They don’t look edible but that’s the whole idea.

There will be some people who don’t think this is funny, but even that is kind of funny!

The Homework Project

The girl is working on a project for school called “All about me”. It is a poster she has to fill out with pictures of her, her family, what she likes to do and stuff like that. The poster can include drawings, clippings from magazines or actual photos.

Because nothing is simple in our world, she decided to make a diorama of Santa’s Workshop to show how she “wishes for a reindeer” (in case you don’t remember, a diorama is a 3-d design using various messy objects to demonstrate an idea in a picture form – all inside a box.) I’m thinking the resulting “display” will now be sacred and I will have to be careful about how I dispose of it.

After assembling this elaborate diorama, she took pictures of it and I helped her print those so she could glue them on her poster.

She set up a desk of a folding TV table and put her name on it (like a name plate) and some art supplies.  I took her picture sitting at this “desk” so she could show herself as an art teacher when she grows up.

She has been spending a couple hours messing around with these props for her photos. You’d probably get quite a kick out of it – other than the fact that there is now a bunch of crap all over the house from this “project” and we have a girl scout meeting here tomorrow after school.

Bring on the puppet show book reports!

Lovely Rita, Meter Maid

This is Rita Meter Maid but it doesn’t really matter what anyone calls her because she won’t come.  Rita is terrified.  Her human family moved away and left her living under the deck of their abandoned house.  She gave birth to four kittens under that deck.  They were all rescued by R.A.I.N.* and are currently living in an unused bathroom at a local church.  Volunteers visit the Rita and her kittens every day and people often will take kittens wrapped in blankets to hold while they work or attend meetings.    

Rita is rarely handled because she hisses and spits when people approach her.  Some of the more experienced volunteers will wear leather gloves to pick up Rita and wrap her in a blanket.  Once she is wrapped securely, she will allow people to touch and pet her but she is still very afraid.   

Her kittens (names: Raquel “Rocky”, Desmond, Prudence, Bungalo Bill) are all weaned but they are still with Rita and she is teaching them to be afraid of the volunteers.  The kittens hide and cower behind their mom and won’t play with cat toys if people are around.  They play and eat during the hours that the church is empty and quiet. 

We really need to find a foster home for Rita where she can learn to trust humans again.  We are hoping that without her kittens to protect, Rita would relax and be more friendly, but I wouldn’t expect her to become a lap cat.  She is definitely a special needs cat who could use a quiet place to live without her kittens.  She would do well in a home where she could be an only pet or have a private place to relax, away from chaos or other pets. 

She will be spayed on October 6th and has all her shots. If you are somewhat local to the Tacoma area and have a quiet home where a scared cat could live for a while and learn to trust people, please ask me to contact you in the comment section.  

We have an abundance of cats and kittens available for adoption and people tend to choose a cat when they have an emotional connection.  A terrified cat who hisses at people who look at her won’t be adopted.  She needs to learn trust before we can find her a forever home.   

*R.A.I.N – Rescued Animals In Need is a group, local to Seattle and Tacoma, that is unaffiliated with other groups by the same name.  We find foster homes and adoptive homes for homeless cats and kittens.  We also have cats and kittens ready for adoption that can be visited at  All cats and kittens have received shots, are wormed and  have been altered before they are available for adoption.

Cheap Eats! New Mexico Hatch Chile Stew

Chile peppers are the biggest export crop from New Mexico and NMSU even has a Chile Pepper Institute dedicated to chile peppers.  Also, in New Mexico, they are called chile peppers, as opposed to chili.   The stew at the pub had some potatoes in it and the special New Mexico chile.  I’ve been trying several different recipes to approximate this stew and at last, I’ve arrived at one that seems to be like the one at the pub.  When working with Hatch chile peppers, be sure to wear gloves!  They aren’t super hot but they definitely have some bite.
One of the problems I’ve run into was finding tomatillos that are green this time of year at the local farmer’s market.  Many of the tomatillos are turning yellow and this makes them a little sweet, that sweetness will change the character of the stew.  I was thinking about adding lime juice in the future to adjust for ripe tomatillos when I can’t find super green ones.  I’ve also seen chicken broth used instead of water and I may try that in the future.
One nice thing about pork shoulder is the different ways it is sold at the grocery store.  I found country-style spare ribs for $1.99/lb but if there is pork shoulder roast or pork shoulder cut as steaks on sale, any of these would work.
This is the recipe so far:
New Mexico Hatch Chile Stew
1 cup chopped onion (I use Walla Walla or Vidalia)
1 cup chopped celery
3 tbsp chopped garlic
1.5 lb pork shoulder, cubed with visible fat removed
1 lb tomatillos, quartered
4 Anaheim peppers, chopped with skins and most seeds removed
3 Hatch peppers, chopped with skins and most seeds removed
2-3 Yukon gold, red or white potato, cut into about 1″ pieces
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp canola oil
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Pour oil into a large pot* over medium heat and add onion and celery.  Allow the onion and celery to cook for about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute and then add the cubed pork and stir to coat with oil and onion.  Brown the pork and then add tomatillos, Anaheim peppers and Hatch peppers (I broil these ahead to char the outside and make the skin easy to remove).   Cover with water and add spices.  Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for at least 2 hours.  Add the potatoes and more water if needed to cover the potatoes.  Simmer until the potatoes are soft when poked with a fork.  If you like a thick stew, this recipe will serve around 5-6 nice bowls but I believe it could be stretched using more broth or water.
Serve with a garnish of cilantro and grated cheddar cheese.
Next year, I’m going to try growing my own tomatillos, the plants are interesting and they seem to be pretty easy to grow.
* If you don’t have a large pot like a dutch oven, use a large frying pan to brown the pork, onion, garlic and celery and then transfer into a crock pot to add the remaining ingredients.