Monday, April 21, 2014

The Troy Confectionery to Host a Benefit for UHPP

If you haven't been to the Confectionery (full name: Charles F. Lucas Confectionery & Wine Bar) in Troy, you need to get yourself over there as soon as possible.  It's an absolutely beautiful space, lovingly renovated in the classic Troy fashion; a little bit speakeasy, a little bit steampunk, but 100% awesome.  They have a great tapas menu and dozens of wonderful wines and beers to try-- they even have wine on tap, a fact that never ceases to delight me, for reasons that I cannot fully comprehend.

This is the second fundraiser that Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood's Young Leaders has had at the Confectionery.  The owners have been nothing but wonderful to us, and it's great to connect with such supportive community partners. It is UHPP's 80th anniversary year, and we're trying to get as many people out in support of the occasion as possible.

Last year's PPYL event at the Confectionery
The fundraiser will be held this Wednesday, April 23rd, from 6-9 PM.  We will be on their gorgeous patio, weather permitting, and a variety of cheeses and charcuterie will be provided for your nibbling pleasure.  Tickets are only $20 and are available for purchase at: http://uhppcocktails.eventbrite.com

For more information, please contact Amber at 518.512.9028 or by email at amber@uhpp.org.  We do hope to see you there!

Many thanks to Albany Medical Center, our PPYL sponsor for the third consecutive year!  We are so grateful for their continued support.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Hilarious and Illuminating Oatmeal Post about Religion

In case you haven't seen it, check it out here.  While it may appear to casually mock religion, please be assured that it does not. What it does lampoon, are the people who get it all wrong, and make life difficult for others.  Religion can be a wonderful, peaceful experience, but the moment that experience oppresses others and threatens individual freedoms, then there's something very wrong.



Friday, January 3, 2014

Passion and Compassion for 2014

I once got into an epic argument with an aunt of my husband's on Facebook. It was all prompted by a sarcastic status update deigned to point out the hypocrisy and cluelessness of bigots in their suppression of marriage equality. I wrote: "My husband and I have no intention of having children. Does this mean our marriage is invalid??"  This was a dig at those who say that gays shouldn't wed because the "true" purpose of marriage between a man and woman is procreation. Well, this relative, who is against marriage equality, said that I was 'insulting her gay friends by making light of the issue.' I, a champion for equality, who has attended rallies and marched in pride parades, was somehow insulting her gay friends by attempting to point out society's failure through humor.  As the argument progressed, the preposterousness of her statements enraged and flabbergasted me to such a degree, that I actually shut down.  As bullies do, she attempted to prove her ridiculous point by belittling me, making me look frivolous, and essentially punching holes in my logic by saying I wasn't a serious person. 
We all have that relative.
Time has passed, and I have made only one resolution this year: NO MORE BULLSHIT.

I wish that I could somehow wear a neon sign with the sentiment blazing across my body.  I will no longer be weak when dealing with an internet bully whose own self righteousness has warped their mind into believing that they are making a lick of sense.  I wish I could go back to that day and do it better.  Instead of crumpling in defeat, I wish that I had used my anger to propel my argument further forward.  I wish I had said, "No. I am not insulting your gay friends, because I fight for them. I believe, down to my very core, that people like you, who think you're hip for having gay friends but still don't want them to have access to the same basic rights you do, are part of what's wrong with this world.  Because you still feel, deep down, that your friends aren't normal, that they may be denied access to heaven, and that marriage is only between a man and a woman. What sort of friend are you?!"

There are so many people who scratch their heads and say, 'why can't gay people just be together-- why do they have to get married?'  Well, it's because by design, our legal and financial systems fail loving couples who, for one reason or another, cannot legally wed.  I cite the heartbreaking tale of Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, an American couple who legally wed in Canada after a 40 year engagement.  Two years later, Spyer tragically died, and Windsor was required to pay $363,053 in federal taxes on her own wife's estate because the US government didn't recognize same sex marriage as a legal union. 

Windsor took the case before the Supreme Court and won, subsequently causing the Supreme Court to re-examine the constitutionality of DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act), which was also struck down.


Chris Kluwe: BAMF
Former Minnesota Vikings player Chris Kluwe said it best when he wrote to Maryland State Legislator Emmet C. Burns, Jr.:
"I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won't even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?"
Ohh burn. Unfortunately, Kluwe subsequently lost his job with the Vikings, a move he suspects is in large part because of his own outspokenness for equality. It's so sad and frustrating that it's 2014 and champions for justice are still being treated in this way. It has to stop. While I am frustrated, I am determined not begin 2014 with anger, but with passion, and the strength to keep fighting.

2014: the year of NO MORE BULLSHIT!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fitness Model Posts Unflattering Pictures of Herself on the Internet, Attempts to Dispel Unrealistic Body Image

Lauren Fleishman deserves a round of applause for doing this.
It’s no cover of Glamour Magazine, but when my pics from the NY Fashion Week Oiselle Runway show were posted, a lot of people commented that it was pretty crazy to have my body change that much in three months. And yeah, it was a little crazy but in real life, people don’t walk around spray tanned and flexed. Out of the thousands of photos taken at the runway show after all that tanning and primping and posture-holding, one or two of them looked good. A lot of them looked pretty gnarly. Weird facial expressions, lumpy bits, zombie walks…but nobody would ever know… (X)
Polished runway look
image
Reality
image
 
She cites Lady Gaga's comments about her recent Glamour cover photo as inspiration, and goes on to add that you should never take pictures that you see on the internet seriously.  Kudos to you Lauren Fleishman.  Read her fitness blog here.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jezebel: "Teens Bone With or Without Condoms, Say Docs for the Millionth Time"

I have to pimp out this excellent article from Jezebel, because I couldn't have said it better.  Thanks to the good folks at Jezebel for continuing to write about sexual health and education. All the applause to you! 

Take a look:

Teens Bone With or Without Condoms, Say Docs for the Millionth Time
 
 
Seriously, dum-dums, how many times do we have to go over this? Condoms do not cause sexy intercourse any more than seat belts cause car accidents. Adding yet another voice to this "conversation," which has seemingly been raging since the invention of penises, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Adolescence has released a policy statement affirming that America's youngsters need access to free, reliable contraception and comprehensive sex ed. Posthaste. Preferably via their schools.

These so-called "doctors'" endgame? RAMPANT UNDERAGE PERVERT SEXING, OBVIOUSLY. Because it is a well-known statistical fact that the fewer condoms a teen comes into contact with, the fewer babies and STIs they ha—oh. No? That's wishful-thinking garbage talk? And literally, measurably, the opposite of true? HUH.
Read more 
 

Friday, October 25, 2013

The End-of-Summer Blues (and what you can do about it)

I know this feel
It seems that when there is a substantial shift in the weather, or a change of season, everything gets blamed on it.  Raise your hand if any of these statements sound familiar:

"I've been fighting a cold for a week now. Must be the weather change."

"I've had the hardest time getting out of bed in the morning. Must be the season."

"I've been feeling grumpy and out of sorts. Must be the cooler weather."

And so on.  I have been struggling with it myself.  It's darker in the morning, and it's harder for me to get out of the snug cocoon of my bed.  I shuffle through the day feeling like I need a nap, and I crave carbs and comfort foods.  I feel gloomy or downright emotional.  When I watch a Youtube video about an abused dog getting a second chance, I cry buckets.  We try to brush it off, but sometime it's really hard.

The truth is, SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is very real.  According to the Mayo Clinic:
Seasonal affective disorder (also called SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. If you're like most people with seasonal affective disorder, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.
Sometimes knowing why you feel out of sorts is the first step to feeling better.  However, there is one oft forgotten symptom of depression; folks who are feeling depressed often forego regular steps in their routine, and studies show that one of these steps is to stop taking their birth control.  The percentage is staggering: a University of Michigan poll showed that of almost 700 women studied, the women who were depressed were 47% less-likely to use their birth control.  It's one thing to skip a shower or ditch your exercise routine. This particular lapse could be very dangerous, particularly because an unwanted pregnancy or STI could have a very unpleasant effect upon the already present depression.

What's even more interesting, is that studies are now showing that hormonal birth control methods can actually reduce depression. Women's Health Magazine reports:
You may have heard that the Pill was linked to mood disorders like depression, but the latest research says that’s not the case. In fact, women using hormonal contraception had lower levels of depressive symptoms than non-users, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The researchers looked at hormonal birth control use and depressive symptoms in 6,654 sexually active women aged 25-34, using data from a longitudinal study conducted in 1994-2008. Women taking hormonal contraception (including the Pill, the patch, and the ring) had lower levels of depressive symptoms and were much less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year—two factors that are strongly associated with depression. 

So there you have it.  Taking the pill, or another form of hormonal birth control, can actually help you with the moodiness associated with SAD and other forms of depression.  You can boost your results by watching a funny show or film (what a coincidence: UHPP is hosting a comedy show fundraiser next month, but more on that later), and surrounding yourself with people who make you smile.  Playing with a pet also works wonders.  Of course, if you are ever concerned about your health and well-being, or if you would classify your depression as severe and/or suicidal, you should make an appointment to speak with a professional right away.  There are treatments that can be prescribed, such as medication or light therapy.  Just don't ignore what you're feeling and remember; it's normal and common for this time of year. Smile!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sorry Yosemite

Today, as I sat down to my computer and opened my web browser, I was greeted by another lovely Google Doodle commemorating the anniversary of something terrific.  You've probably seen it already.




No cake for you, Yosemite.

 

That's right-- Yosemite is turning 123 today! Huzzah! Break out the candles and party hats!

Actually, no. Yosemite will have to spend its birthday all alone-- well, without human visitors, anyway-- because the government shut it down today. Not to over-anthropomorphize a swath of land, but it seems sad.  Though 123 is hardly a milestone-- which makes me ponder Google's motives-- a birthday is a birthday.

The actual humans hardest hit by today's government shutdown are the over 800,000 "non-essential" federal employees who will have to be furloughed, meaning their jobs-- and their paychecks-- are put on hold until Congress and the Senate sort this mess out. 

Why is this happening?  You are sure to receive a different response based on whether you ask a Democrat or a Republican.  Democrats say that it is because the Republican-controlled House is essentially holding the government hostage until they get the amendments they want passed along with the budget. The major amendment in question, is the delay of Obamacare.

Republicans say that it is because Obamacare, as it is written, is unconstitutional, could be disastrous to the economy, and allowing it to go into effect right now would be irresponsible.

Okay.  Here are the facts: "Obamacare," or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was signed into law three years ago. Why is this happening now, on the day it is supposed to go into effect-- especially when ACA really doesn't even have anything to do with the budget?

Not content to just let sleeping dogs lie, The House is determined to delay or outright repeal ACA, even though 60% of Americans support it, and in 2010 it passed in both the House and the Senate. In 2012, it was under attack by the House, with conservatives challenging its constitutionality.  The Supreme Court ruled that it was not unconstitutional, because:
"According to Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution, “Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it. . . .” This is how Obamacare became the law of the land. The House passed the Senate’s version of the health care bill on March 21, 2010 by a vote of 219 to 212. The Affordable Care Act was signed into law by the president two days later." --Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post
So really, these attacks are nothing new.  It wouldn't even be the first time the House threatened to shut down the government based on provisions that they wanted in the budget.  Unfortunately, it is the first time in 17 years that it actually happened.

Hopefully it won't take them long to sort this out, because 800,000 Americans aren't getting paid anymore, and that would be disastrous to the economy.  It could take a day, or even weeks.

Obamacare doesn't have to be a dirty word. Health Care Reform should be a good thing.  If our elected officials would just put on their grown-up pants and work together on this, the country can get back to business.