Petitioning the (not yet and hopefully won't be) government

Dear Michelle Bachman,
I realize we don't talk much, what with you being kind of a crazy tea-partier and me being a bleeding heart liberal, but I just thought I'd write you a little letter about one of your recent attacks on Rick Perry.
Don't get me wrong: I am all for any attack (of a political nature, not a physical or violent nature) on Rick Perry, especially if it helps to derail his bid for president. But the thing that gets me is how you have decided to go about attacking his recent "every girl must get vaccinated against HPV" law a little over a week ago.
See, you decided to go with the age-old and dis-proven "vaccines will cause mental retardation in your children" argument. First off, it's been proven that they don't. Second off, the guy who did the study that found that back in the 80's has confessed to tampering with the data and participants chosen because he wanted to find that result whether or not it was a scientifically sound study. He was even bought off by supporters of the anti-vaccine movement at the time to publish such false results.
Also, the vaccine is given after age 9. If that lady told you her daughter developed mental retardation after getting that vaccine at age 9 that is rather remarkable. I bet lots of doctors would like to study her daughter: mental retardation developing that late in a child's life is rather remarkable, if in a very sad way.
If you want to attack Perry's law, go for it in a way that makes you look like an intelligent human being rather than someone that read one headline 30 years ago and hasn't bothered to check the validity of the statement and just keeps repeating it. Here are a few options:
1. How about you say it is ridiculous that he requires the HPV vaccine only for girls? Boys are actually more likely to carry HPV without showing symptoms, so they are more likely to pass it on to their sexual partners. The vaccine is also thought to be more effective in males.
2. How is he expecting people to pay for the vaccine? It costs roughly $128 per shot without health insurance and requires three shots within 3-6 months of each other. That can be pretty costly. And since Texas has more uninsured or under-insured residents than any other state, that mandatory vaccine is going to be pretty costly.
3. As far as women's health is concerned, you could have mentioned how he took approximately 2/3 of the budget away of every women's clinic that offered any kind of contraceptive or made referrals for abortions. None of that money was used for contraception or abortions (none of the clinics performed them). The money taken away was used for things like pap smears and breast cancer screenings. All of that money was re-allocated to "crisis pregnancy centers" that only offer care for pregnant women that are willing to keep their baby or put it up for adoption. Those centers to nothing in the form of cancer screenings or health exams at all. If he is really worried about women's health enough to make girls get those vaccines one would think he would be behind them getting screened as a cancer preventative measure as well.
4. You could have even gone with the "if girls think they can have sex without worrying about the consequences of STDs they will start having sex at age 9" argument and would have sounded like a more intelligent person. (Note: that is a ridiculous statement and is not to be taken seriously in any way. Also, girls already can have sex without having to worry (as much) about STDs: they are called condoms.)
Okay, I know you are busy, what with trying to ruin the free world and all. So I'll just leave you with this: I would be okay if you win the Republican primary, because I know that Barrack Obama will eat you alive when it comes time for the real election.
Most sincerely,
Sara Belger
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New blogger. I like it. It feels nice and fresh.

So I have started this new job at an organization I am not going to state the name of here in case it gets searched, and it is kind of a "We're going to give you a job and pay you a bit and want you to do these few things and maybe come up with new things but we aren't really sure about what we want and have a lot of bureaucracy to go through and have gotten really stagnant and don't really do anything anymore but some of us think we might like to so can you figure it out while we work on the figuring out of the structure of the organization until January" -thing. It has been...interesting. I have tons of great ideas of programs and events I could do but would have to take place well after January and whether or not I will be here is still up in the air. There is also the question of money when it comes to trying to figure out how to fund these new programs I want to create. I've mostly just been researching grant opportunities and outlining fundraiser and member event ideas, but it is all so...squishy (that was the best I could come up with for an antonym to concrete without saying non-concrete).

Otherwise, life is pretty good. We still don't have internet in our apartment, hence the lack of posts and my general presence on the internet overall. But that should change in the coming weeks.

We have also been fighting with our older apartment that has issues (as most older apartments do) and a language barrier with the landlady. It's kind of fun, not knowing if she understands what you mean and not understanding 100% what she means.

I really need to learn Spanish.

Funny boyfriend act of the week: I really wanted chocolate last night but was already in my comfy clothes. So Andrew said to think of what I wanted and he would run to the gas station to get it. I couldn't really decide (it's chocolate, how can you go wrong?) so he decided for me. He came back with 15 candy bars, spent a total of $22 on nothing but chocolate in various forms. What a goofball. <3
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Big things have been going down for this girl. I have moved into an apartment with the boyfriend, gotten a job doing something I find interesting and also entirely too much to take on, and I am looking at cars.

Also, I saved over $40 in one grocery trip with coupons and comparison shopping. It was an exciting day.
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I ain't afraid of no books.

I love to read. I like to read lots of different books, most of which are fiction. I think I generally like fiction better because at the end I know that no matter what happened in the book, it wasn't real. Those characters I connected to are not real people, no matter how real they may have seemed. When they die or have something horrible happen to them I am sad because one of my new friends just got hurt, but at the end of the day I can separate the fact from the fiction and be perfectly fine with the outcome.
That being said, I tend to stay away from non-fiction.This is mostly because I know that I can't just fake my way out of the sorrow and heartache I have for the characters in whatever non-fiction book I may be reading because they aren't characters at all. At the end of the book when a character dies or has some kind of horrible circumstance, it is real. Every person you meet in a non-fiction book is out there somewhere, living their life and suffering their pains (if they have them).
I don't know why, but I have been on a non-fiction kick lately (I define kick here as having read two non-fiction books in the last three months that weren't assigned by a professor). Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that I am growing up and opening myself up to the strife of the real world. I am okay with reading about real issues for pleasure (does it count as reading for pleasure if it makes you cry?) and accepting that they are real. I might not be able to save the world and solve the issues presented, but I can make myself a little more aware of them and help in what little ways I can.
The two books that have prompted this musing are Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I highly recommend both of them (one of which I already mentioned in another blog in May) and think that many of you will enjoy them.
Orange is the New Black is about a woman who enters the federal prison system ten years after committing the crime of which she was convicted. The book chronicles the interesting make up of the group of women in the low-security prison she is sent to and brings up some very interesting issues with how the system is handled. The book reads like a letter from a good friend, and at the end of it I felt like I knew some of the women personally. The whole thing is made even better knowing that Kerman now works with non-profits to improve how they use media to get their messages out.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is about cells taken from a woman in 1951 that have since been grown and regrown in the billions and used in extensive medical research. These cells were the first human cells to successfully live outside of the human body and have led to the polio vaccine, HPV research, and countless other valuable medical miracles. The main issue is that they were taken without the consent of Henrietta Lacks or her family. I am not a science person at all, but Skloot was able to write all of the technical science in a way that I had no problem understanding. I was able to get past the science and look at the issue of cell ownership, how research has been done in the past, and a very moving story about how Henrietta's family has dealt with finding out years later that a part of their mother was not only still alive but very important to medicine. Like Kerman, Skloot has taken the issue to heart and formed the Henrietta Lacks foundation, and proceeds from the book are donated to ensure that Lacks' grand children will have resources to go to college.
Moral of the story: don't be afraid of non-fiction. I don't think I am anymore.
Moral of the story 2.0: go buy both of these books. They are wonderful and you won't regret it.

Seven Things I Learned This Week #18 (Desert edition!)

Things to remember after moving to the desert:
1. You will start to get tanner no matter how much SPF 75 sunscreen you use. I'm okay with being a bit more tan/less ghostly pale that I was, but it seems a bit ridiculous that even after generously applying and reapplying sunscreen I am still noticably darker.
2. 100 degrees is a nice break from the heat.
3. Where shade in the heat didn't make that much of a difference in the midwest because the humidity was so high you always felt like suffocating here it means the difference between life and death.
4. STOP FORGETTING TO PUT THE REFLECTOR THINGY IN THE DASH OF YOUR CAR SARA. One day my luck will have run out and they will find a baked Sara souflee because I forgot to put the sunshield up in my car when I ran into the grocery store.
5. Upper arm strength is key when you have to carry in all of the groceries ASAP so they don't die in the trunk of your car.
6. Do all of your baking at night. I started baking a chocolate cake after 9 because this way the house won't be unnecessarily heated during the day when it is god awful hot outside.
And last but certainly not least...
7. I really am a desert rat at heart. By far the most beautiful sunsets and natural scenery I can recall seeing in my time.

Blink-182 once said, "Nobody likes you when you're 23."

23. George Harrison was 23 when the Beatles released Revolver.
23. Twenty-three is the ninth prime number, the smallest odd prime that is not a twin prime.
23. Nobel Prize-winning economist John Forbes Nash, the inspiration for the film A Beautiful Mind, was obsessed with the number 23 and it featured prominently in his nervous breakdown. He claimed that Pope John XXIII was in fact himself, the evidence being that 23 was his favourite number. Nash also published only 23 scientific articles.
23. Michael Jordan wore number 23.
23. 23 is the atomic number of Vanadium.
23. Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times. 
23. Psalm 23, also known as the Shepherd Psalm, is possibly the most quoted and best known Psalm.
23. The 23 in South Africa refers to the 23 conscientious objectors who publicly refused to do military service in the Apartheid army in 1987. The following years the number increased to 143 (in 1988) and 771 (in 1989), with Apartheid being dismantled from 1990 onward.
23. The sum of the first 23 primes is 874, which is divisible by 23, a property shared by few other numbers.

* In accordance with the Knox College honor code, I hereby state that my sole source for this information was Wikipedia.** While I realize Wikipedia isn't exactly a reliable resource when it comes to academic integrity, it's my birthday, so I will cry if I want to (and pretend like Wikipedia is the end-all be-all of knowledge). ***
**The George Harrison one I knew without Wikipedia.
***Blogger should have footnotes so one can properly cite one's sources. 

7 Things I Learned This Week #17

1. Graduation robes were originally designed to keep people warm in the cold halls where commencement usually commenced. They are now a fashion statement meant to separate new graduates based on how well they can stand sitting in 100 degree weather while wearing stifling black clothing in the sun. *
2. It is possible  for me to wine 1st place in a race on Mario Kart if no one can see the screen and I am riding a bike that looks like an adorable ducky.
3. Snapple fact #480: You can tell which day a loaf of bread was baked by the color of its plastic twist tag.
4. This day in history: Helen Keller was named a communist by the FBI 1949. 
5. Knox has an award simply called "Outstanding Senior Award." **
6. Knox College has only had 19 presidents since its founding in 1837.
7. Some buffets have started to say they are "All You Care To Eat" buffets rather than "All You Can Eat." I think this is a very positive, if minuscule, step in the right direction.

If you can't tell, it was a very Knox-y weekend.

* I learned this while attending Knox College's 166 graduation ceremony from both the program (origin of the robes) and some of the graduates (they were very uncomfortable with the heat).
**One of my friends got it this year, because he really is outstanding.

I blog, therefore I am.

But I haven't been blogging lately. Does that mean that I am not?
I've been busy with living life, mentally preparing to turn 23 (that's a big number), spending my last days in the midwest, and gearing up for a big move. For those of you who don't know, I am moving to El Paso, Texas, in just under two weeks.

I know, I know. I am moving from somewhere cold and green to somewhere hot and (more or less) brown. But do not forget that Las Vegas was the first environment I ever knew, and it is a desert. Also, I hate the cold. I think a year without snow will do me some good. I spent most of this past winter trying to figure out why my feet were always numb and came to the conclusion that I am a cold-blooded creature, most likely a turtle. I do like to hide from people. Though I would imagine the claustrophobia would inhibit my living in a shell.

Another thing I have heard is, "You're moving to Texas?" Yes. Yes I am. I am reconciling this fact with the knowledge that El Paso is only a few miles away from New Mexico and El Paso-ans (El Paso-ites?) do not speak with the southern drawl that is typical of Texans. Don't get me wrong. I have plenty of family from Texas and the South in general. But I have such a tough time not getting distracted when someone speaks with the very slow, twangy dialect that is so prevalent in the South. My mind just starts to wander and I try to guess the next word the person I am speaking with will say and start to have my own conversation in my head. This habit doesn't really lend itself to productive conversations when trying to get to know someone new.

I also don't speak Spanish, something I hear is pretty prevalent in El Paso since you can turn toward the South from just about anywhere and see Mexico. I'll just hope that I meet every person that speaks German in town so I can communicate with people and make friends. Or there is also the option of learning Spanish...The thought of that just sends chills down my spine. It's been so long since I switched gears and started learning German that much of Spanish pronunciation is gone from my mind.

But I'm sure I'll make plenty of new friends with all of the cacti in the desert.

Google Search: Why am I awake right now?

I googled, and Google responded with quotes from Peanuts. Anyone who knows me knows I am a sucker for quotes. And peanuts. And Peanuts. 

Are you upset little friend? Have you been lying awake worrying? Well, don't worry...I'm here. The flood waters will recede, the famine will end, the sun will shine tomorrow, and I will always be here to take care of you. -Charlie Brown to Snoopy

Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos.-Also from Peanuts

Non-Peanuts quotes centered around friendship that came up after wandering around the quote site

Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it's all over.- Gloria Naylor

Not only is your story worth telling, but it can be told in words so painstakingly eloquent that it becomes a song.-Gloria Naylor

But what is the good of friendship if one cannot say exactly what one means? Anybody can say charming things and try to please and to flatter, but a true friend always says unpleasant things, and does not mind giving pain. Indeed, if he is a really true friend he prefers it, for he knows that then he is doing good.-Oscar Wilde

And my personal favorite, one that reminds me of my sorority ATP from back in the old days before we were Alpha Sigma Alpha: Do not walk in front of me; I may not follow. Do not walk behind me; I may not lead. Walk beside me and just be my friend.-Albert Campus

I have learned so much over the past month...

That I haven't been blogging about all of the things I have learned for fear of not being able to go through them all and choose only 7 a week.*

*The above statement is false. I have been learning things, as one learns things all of the time. I have simply been too busy lazy to actually keep track of them like I should in order to maintain this blog.

Instead of keeping track of learn-y things, I have been a busy bee in terms of:
1. Reading awesome books. The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman. I highly recommend both for very different reasons. The first is a gothic thriller set in Barcelona. The second is a memoir about a woman's year in a federal prison camp. Go buy them, download them, or check them out from the library. They are wonderful.
2. Traveling to El Paso to meet members of the boyfriend's family and see where he grew up. I went sand sledding. It was wonderful. I think that was the first week my hands have been warm since November.
3. Toying with the idea of making a cooking blog to keep track of the adventures in the kitchen. This is mostly in response to my new rule of trying out at least 1 new recipe and/or perfecting one recent attempt at a new recipe a week.
4. Cleaning in preparation for the arrivals of several house guests. My most recent college roommate visited this past weekend, the roommate from before her and her boyfriend will visit this weekend, and my parents (dramatic music) will visit the weekend of Easter. Fun times have been and will continue to be had.
5. Trying to plan Easter. I have never done a family holiday before. I might hide under a blanket until it is over.
6. Getting pinned by the boy. Ain't he sweet?

Anyway, there are the excuses. Enjoy.

7 Things I learned this week #16

1. When sending resumes and cover letters via e-mail it is best to send them both as an attachment with a short and sweet message in the e-mail itself.  (applying for jobs is hard)
2. I can make up my own recipes rather than just using someone else's. I made tequila-jalapeno baked tilapia for fish tacos. It turned out pretty well. I am a culinary genius.
3. Google Chrome's spell check doesn't recognize tilapia as being properly spelled. I actually second-guessed myself and googled it to make sure it was correct (it is.)
4. Before a new doge of Venice could be selected he had to be presented to the public accompanying the phrase "This is your doge, if it pleases you" despite the fact that the new doge was selected by an exclusive group mostly comprised of noble families. The things you learn from Assassin's Creed 2.
5. Snapple Fact #21: Almonds are part of the peach family.
6. Cardigan Welsh Corgis have tales, whereas Pembroke Welsh Corgis do not. 
7. Stanford had a list of classes recommended for athletes to "accommodate their demanding schedules." Translation: they actually distributed a list of easy classes to boost athletes' GPAs. Respect points lost: 50. 

Those were the days...

This was my wikifire page, word for word, character for character. My life was so different Freshman and Sophomore years of college when the majority of this was written. I decided it was time for its run to come to an end. 

Sara is beautiful. She is an international relations major, economics minor that is very nice. She wears skirts when it is warm out because they are comfortable, not because she cares about what she looks like.

Her hair also smells really nice all the time. If you get a chance, you should smell it. It is also very soft and silky. The ideal situation would be to pet her hair and get to smell it. Good luck with your mission.
Sara has no idea who wrote the above comment and is kind of creeped out at the thought of random people petting/smelling her hair. She asks you to please refrain from such activity, or at least ask permission before doing so.

Sara was born in [[Las Vegas]] and she will defend the little honor the city has left until her death.  She enjoys long walks in the parks and quite often she is confused with men.

One of her favorite pastimes is framing [[Daniel Dyrda]] for things.  This is facilitated by her passing imitation of his handwriting.

Sara is a member of [[German Club]] and [[ATP]]. She also has a radio show on [[WVKC]] with a partner under an assumed identity ([[Eleanor Rigby]]).

==The Many Noises of Sara==
Sometimes when she wakes up she makes wookie noises, that don't actually sound like wookies. She can play a myriad of instruments, including a recently acquired bass guitar.

Sara also has a variety of noises that indicate when she is hungry, tired, confused, etc. Perhaps one day there will be a media file that documents the sounds Sara makes in her natural habitat while in one of these situations.

== Procrastination Almost Turned Into A Sport ==
Taking [[procrastination]] to a new level is something Sara is very adamant about.  A two-page paper can take her weeks to write.  This accomplishment is only thanks to [[Facebook]], [[Wikifire]], [[Myspace]], [[AIM]], and various comics online.  However, procrastinating in this rare art form is not taken too far, as her missing a deadline is a very rare occurrence.

Another thing that lends to Sara's procrastinatory efforts are the multiple video game consoles in the living room of Naked House.  With an NES, Super NES, and an N64 all stocked with a variety of games how can one be expected to do homework?

==Claim to Fame==

On May 26, 2007, Sara, as well as friends [[Tasha Coryell]] and [[Daniel Dyrda]] were declared "cool people" on [[Bill Mayeroff]]'s [[WVKC]] radio show [[Bill's Beatles Bonanza]]. [[Bill Mayeroff|Bill]] revoked the title on Oct. 8, 2007 because Sara isn't proud of something she should be. The others got to keep their titles.

But Bill restored Sara's title at 10:48 p.m. Central time on Oct. 24, 2007. He decided he did not want to have to deal with the paperwork associated with revoking a status like that.

[[Category:Class of 2010]]

Things I Learned This Week #15

1. Speed bumps are also referred to as "sleeping policemen." I found this while trying to figure out what you call the little circular or rectangular reflector things they put on the roads in Las Vegas (I'm sure they use them elsewhere, but Vegas is just where I remember from when I was a child) that were kind of bumpy, but never figured out what those are actually called. I shall continue to call them do-hickeys. If you know what they are called, please tell me.

2. Heart disease is the number one killer of American women. (Related: February was heart disease awareness month)
3. One is a cannolo, more than one are cannoli.(In case you don't know what I am talking about, go here.)
4. Bald Eagles go "bald" at age five when they reach maturity.
5. Snapple Fact #173: Chinese is the most spoken language in the world. And they are so worried about learning English.
6. The Illusionist is the best cartoon movie I have seen in a very long time. I think it should have beaten Toy Story 3 for that Oscar. 
7. The Peace Corps is 50 years old this month. I wonder if it will go out and buy a red sports car to cruise around the world in.

Note to self

Just know that having a fractured wrist and trying to chisel out a car shaped object from what Snowmageddon '11 left you behind is not a very good experience. In the future, choose one of the following options:
1. Screw the wrist brace and put on gloves right off the bat. The lack of frostbite will be worth it.
2. Get a garage. Steal a garage, if you have to. Just get one.
3. Don't drive anywhere. Leave your car parked for the rest of winter. It will thaw by June or so.
4. Call everyone and just tell them you are dead so you don't have to go anywhere.
Self, I hope you learned something from this little heart-to-heart.
You. I mean, me. (?)

Average conversation

Me: I want to make cinnamon rolls.
Penny: Cinnamon rolls are quite tasty.
Me: Mmhmm. I need to invest in a rolling pin, though.
Penny: They are handy things.
Me: For baking and use as a blunt object should zombies attack and you have not yet obtained a shotgun.
Penny: Of course.

This is an example of why we are friends.

7 Things I Learned This Week #14

1. When making cake balls, don't try making your own frosting. It won't be the right texture and will just screw everything up. Also, don't use black forest cake: it's too crum(b)y. Haha, see what I did there? Did you see? I made it a combination of "crumb" and "crummy."
I am so clever.
I need to get out more.
2. Charles Manson has three kids, two of which are also named Charles Manson. I wonder if their mothers regret any of their decisions, related or otherwise.
3. Hillary Duff wrote a novel...? It was released in October and came up in my Amazon recommendations. I think I need to retrain Amazon. Anyway, it is called Elixir, and a masochistic part of me kind of wants to see if I can find it at the library or something. (Oh my. I just found out she has an album called "Best of." If it is the best of something awful, it is still awful, right?)
4. I never would have thought I would post something about the Bears or the Packers, but this was actually mildly interesting: since they produce a bunch of championship merchandise for both teams before they know the outcome, half of the items they make are not okay to sell after the championship game. That extra merchandise winds up in third world countries. This I knew, but what I didn't know was that World Vision is the organization that is under contract to send that stuff overseas.
5. When you don't log on to Twitter for several months, they e-mail you to let you know they miss you and that you are missing out on the world around you since you don't have a 140-character tweet every few seconds to tell you what is important. I must be more lost than I thought.
6. The "beef" in Taco Bells tacos and burritos is only 36% beef. The rest of it is a combination of soy products, wheat products, and a mess of things I can't pronounce.
7. Thomas Jefferson thought the State of the Union as a speech was too monarchical, so he sent a letter to congress instead. Other presidents followed his example, Jimmy Carter being the last to do so.

7 Things I learned this week #13

1. Katzenjammer is the technical term for the "discomfort and illness experienced as the aftereffects of excessive drinking." (hint: that is a hangover)
2. Monmouth College's slogan is "what college was meant to be." 
3. The boiling point of mercury is 629.88 K356.73 °C, or 674.11 °F.
4. I learned how to make eggs in a basket. After one terribly failed attempt that Andrew ate, the second one was quite nice.
5. 30% of employers give MLK day off.
6. Snapple fact #673: turtles can't reproduce until they are 25 years old.
7. My sorority got four awesome new girls in recruitment. Go AlphaSig! 
Bonus learny thing: being in a sorority is just as much fun when you don't have to do the work for recruitment and can just be proud of the sisters and their accomplishments.