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The Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law this morning in a private ceremony, and I for one could not be happier!  For far too long, wonderful upstanding citizens have been forced to endure countless hours of agony thanks to the gay community.  Business owners have had to sit back while the evil gays make purchases in their stores, then be wished a nice day before those awful gays return to their life of sin.  Now, thanks to the savvy minds in Indiana, this is no longer a worry!

Business owners are free to kick out horrible lesbian couples, refusing to give them service because of who they choose to love.  Yes, CHOOSE, because being gay is 110% a choice and definitely not a way someone is born.  No longer will I have to go to my friendly neighborhood bakery and watch as two men DARE to hold hands as they leave after purchasing their muffins and donuts.  Gay, pink sprinkled donuts, no doubt.  Mike Pence has made all our dreams come true, and I’m so glad we are ushering in 2015 with this type of forward thinking!

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And no, before you say it, this is definitely not a cheap way of allowing people to hide behind religion in order to discriminate blindly against people they don’t understand, lifestyles they wouldn’t want for themselves, or other things that don’t affect them personally.  I’m not religious myself, but boy if I was, I would definitely use whatever interpretation of the bible I could in order to keep certain people at arm’s length.  It’s not hiding behind God, it’s doing His work!  Because if there was one thing we can all learn from Jesus, it’s that we are NOT all God’s children and definitely do NOT deserve equal treatment.

If Governor Pence didn’t take this amazing initiative, just think of what the great state of Indiana would devolve into?  Gays would run rampant through the streets, frequenting businesses in their community like the rest of us and enjoying life’s little pleasures.  They would likely demand that all local businesses cover everything with rainbows and glitter so they feel more welcome.  Our children would be corrupted by the sight of a loving same sex couple who has the NERVE to go out on a day trip to do some shopping.

Some local businesses are protesting the RFRA by putting stickers in their windows saying “This Business Serves Everyone.”  Clearly, these people need to find God.  Equal treatment for all is not what this country is all about!  In this day and age, we should be striving to move backward through time and return to the days where people were afraid of anyone who was different from they are, be it race or religion or sexual orientation.  They don’t call them the good ol’ days for nothing, am I right?!?

Open-for-Service-stickerSure, Indiana may be losing Gen Con, as the popular money making convention wants nothing to do with such a close-minded state, but we don’t need those costumed weirdos anyway!  The nice thing about RFRA is that not only can businesses discriminate against same sex couples, but they can also discriminate against other races, religions, tall people, guys with ponytails, you name it!  Even if you think someone LOOKS gay, out the door they go!  It’s brilliant!

Pence stated “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it.  For more than 20 years, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never undermined our nation’s anti-discrimination laws, and it will not in Indiana.”  See?!?  This is not about kicking a gay couple out of your store to discriminate against them!  It’s about kicking a gay couple out because God says they are wrong for being who they are!  It’s totally different!  It doesn’t legalize discrimination, it just says that it’s totally okay to discriminate if you own a business and don’t like the personal lives of the people who choose to come around you.

It’s a proud day for Indiana.  Heck, it’s a proud day for the country!  Hopefully someone comes along to address my marriage next, because God knows I was totally wrong for marrying outside of my race.  And I also hope someone quickly holds an intervention for me so I can rid myself of every friend and acquaintance that isn’t 100% straight and proud of it.  This return to the dark ages is something we should applaud.  Thank you, Mike Pence, for signing this bill and making me realize how wrong I was all these years thinking that each and every human on Earth deserved equal treatment.  Thank you for teaching my child and children around the world that being different is something that should be punished.  Thank you for showing us that “separate but equal” is an idea worth returning to.  Thank you for opening my eyes to the fact that someone’s personal and private lives involving love and companionship is something we should blindly hate and publicly shun.  Thank you for showing me that I was wrong all these years I ignorantly assumed that I was doing the right thing by treating everyone fairly and openly.  Thank you, Mike Pence.  I applaud you.

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Thanks Obama

I am going to have to try my best to be vague in order to protect the privacy of certain individuals, so bear with me.  I am a government contractor, which often leaves me waiting until the last minute to find out if my contract has been extended and I still have a job.  I’m not faulting my contracting company, as this is just the way it’s done.  To their credit, I have never been out of work due to last minute renewals not going through as planned.  Not everyone in my building is as lucky though; contracts end all the time and some without much warning.  Last week, one was forced to put their employees on furlough “until further notice” because the funding was not approved and they have no way to pay their employees until it is.

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Naturally, the affected employees were upset, and they had every right to be.  One took to Facebook almost immediately to voice her disappointment.  Her comment got feedback as you would expect, but one person (I’ll name him Bob) went slightly overboard.  Bob was also affected by the furlough and was apparently more upset than anyone could have imagined.  His comments were not only inappropriate, they were threatening towards important people in the United States.  Word got back to his supervisor about what was said, because it’s Facebook and you can’t say anything on there without the whole world finding out.  I heard rumors that the FBI and the Secret Service were both notified and looking for Bob.  I heard for sure that both of his supervisors suggested he be dismissed immediately, as employees that say what he said should not be employees for the government.  The whole thing is a mess.

Apparently, Bob went to the hospital shortly after stirring things up with his comments.  The general opinion is that he did this in order to explain the comments away as some sort of temporary insanity.  That opinion is just that, and he could be genuinely sick for all I know.  From the feedback I’ve heard and the remarks from those involved, it’s not looking as though it will matter what frame of mind he was in when he said what he did.  Regardless of intent, he made threats.  I highly doubt Bob would have gone through with anything, but one look at the front page of any news website or paper will tell you that we’re no longer allowed to go easy on people and give them the benefit of the doubt.  Too many psychos in the world are causing irreparable damage for anything to be ignored at this point.

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What did surprise me though, which may reveal my naivety, is that Bob is very likely without a job now because of a Facebook post.  I recently made a comment on Twitter that sometimes I’d like to throw people out of windows when they get on my nerves.  I will go through life without throwing a single living thing out of a window though; it’s normal for us to turn to social media when stressed in order to vent.  If my comment was about throwing my boss out of a window, would that be a threat?  Would I lose my job?  It’s a strange thing to think about, but offhand remarks about harming others are taken much more seriously now that we know that people exist that will be more than happy to follow through with a vengeance.  If I posted about throwing my boss out a window, and then I did so, the first thing people would cry out is “why wasn’t anything done to her when she made those threats??!?”

Bob behaved like an idiot and unfortunately he and his family are currently paying the price.  People are going to say awful things about he and his wife as they try to navigate through this mess.  It’s unfair and could have easily been prevented had he just watched what he said or simply said it in the privacy of his home rather than a public website.  Freedom of speech only goes so far.  There are things you just can’t say.  I can say Obama Sucks until I’m blue in the face, but I can’t say I’m going to track him down and do something awful without suffering some sort of consequence.  I might know that I’m not being serious, but how is anyone else to know unless they check me out?  I’m curious to know what you think.  Where do we draw the line with critiques on our government and officials?  What is okay to say and what is crossing the line?  How should we decide what is a serious threat and what is just someone blowing off steam?

Office Parties

Last week, I joined my office’s party planning committee.  One of the ladies in the office asked me to do it and it seemed like it might be… fun?  Last year, we didn’t have the easiest time putting our holiday party together and it seemed that the people tasked with it had too much on their shoulders and were doing things too close to the party date.  Starting now with a larger group of people, we should have enough time to put together something that nearly everyone will enjoy and something that nearly everyone will participate in.  In theory anyway.

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One of the jobs of the committee is to come up with fun fundraising ideas to cover the cost of whatever it is we decide on doing.  It can be like pulling teeth to get people to agree to either pay for their own meal at the event or to purchase a ticket that will cover the cost.  Maybe it’s being cheap, maybe it’s the fact that no one wants to spend extra cash that close to Christmas, or maybe it just seems inconvenient.  Whatever the reason, we do some sort of fundraising activity prior to any office party so that little to no money comes out of anyone’s pocket and goes directly to the event.  So far this year, we planned another silent auction and we are holding a Halloween Decorations Contest with an entry fee and a smaller fee for every vote that is cast.  We’ve also tossed around the idea of doing a bake sale and other contests that would raise funds while also rewarding participants.

It’s crazy to me how unwilling people can be to help fund an event in any sort of simple manner.  OR just to pay their own way and be done with it.  It will cost approximately $20 per person for our holiday party, which would be no problem for me to save back between now and then.  But try to tell people that they’ll have to either purchase a ticket or bring $20 with them, the number of participants goes down dramatically.  People decide to leave their spouse or kid(s) at home, or they decide to stay at home with them.  Our Organizational Day over the summer had pretty high participation because it was fully funded.  Since the Holiday party has more to it, it presents a challenge to get it funded fully prior to the event.

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The second challenge we’re facing is finding a location.  We have a very outspoken IT guy who hosts a White Elephant gift exchange every year.  The volume of his voice, combined with the sometimes inappropriate things he tends to say, means that we need to find a location with a private room for about 50 people.  That in itself isn’t an issue, but deciding where definitely is.  One idea that was thrown out was to rent a place out that would supply us with the space, tables and chairs, and then get a food truck or trucks to come to the site and cater us.  The problem here is that it interferes with the gift exchange and no one wants to be walking outside to a food truck in the middle of December in Indiana.  We would also be responsible for the clean-up afterwards, which no one enjoys doing.

Our best bet is to find a restaurant with a private area for our group.  I narrowed the field to eight places and tackled contacting them with one other person.  Three of her picks and two of mine were a no-go because they were already booked.  One never got back to me, one costs far too much, and we are left with Dave & Busters.  At about $25 a head (which includes a $10 play card) and free room booking, this is looking like a fantastic option.  But will the rest of the office think so?  Someone is bound to say it’s too far of a drive, too loud of an establishment, not enough good food choices, or just not to their liking for reasons they would rather not express.  Regardless of what we do, people are going to complain.

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The third challenge we face is whether or not this can be considered an off site work day for us contractors.  If not, we are forced to use our annual leave in order to attend.  This honestly isn’t a big deal as far as I’m concerned; I can spare four hours of leave.  But for others, this will be a deciding factor in whether or not they attend.  We got more participation in our Organizational Day because we were allowed to consider it an off-site work day.  Ultimately, it’s our Branch Chief’s call, so it’s not a big concern for me just yet.  I do hope that he agrees just so we have a bigger group, but I still don’t see what the big deal is in taking a few hours of leave (us contractors get enough of it).

Our second committee meeting is scheduled for later today and I hope that the few of us can come to a location agreement and start some additional fund raising activities to get this going for real.  I have to break the bad news to the group that their bake sale is a no-go as planned (our building won’t allow us to set up tables up front for the whole building due to their contract with the food service company here), and that was meant to be the biggest money maker we had.  Obviously, the main concern is going to be the funding.  If anyone has any brilliant ideas of how to raise money in an office of 63 people, please share!

Dress To Impress

My husband teleworks every Tuesday and Thursday, the lucky guy, so I came to work solo this morning.  On my walk in, I spotted a guy that I could not believe worked in this building.  He wore cargo shorts with Teva sandals, a grey Hershey chocolate t-shirt that was at least one size too small, and a fisherman’s hat complete with lures pinned all around it.  His long and curly hair was a total mess, sticking out from underneath his hat at all angles.  As I marveled at his decision to come to work dressed like a Person Of Wal-Mart, I got stuck in line behind a man wearing what looked like fancy pajamas from the 70s.  I know that the dress code for government employees is somewhat relaxed, but this is just ridiculous.

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On a regular basis, I see women in sweatpants or yoga pants, two things that are not allowed to be worn in this building.  Ladies flop around in noisy flip-flops, which are also not allowed to be worn to work.  Men wear shirts that are too small, exposing their beer bellies.  I see people dressed as if they are going to the beach, just crawled out of bed, or are getting ready to participate in a wet t-shirt contest.  Call me crazy, but I don’t see how crocs are office appropriate footwear for a government building.  My boss is in a suit and tie every day, supervising people who at times will wear baggy Disney t-shirts and stained polos to work.  It’s not right.

Obviously the final decision on what is proper for the office is in the hands of the area supervisor, so I have to assume that we either have a lot of relaxed supervisors in this building or just a lot of people who don’t care.  If one of my subordinates showed up in see-through white pants or dressed for the gym, I would send them right back home.  There are certain standards one should have in an office, regardless of how important your job is.  If standards are set low for personal appearance, how high can the standards be for the type of work performed?

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I can remember being excited about getting dressed up when I scored my second job at a department store.  I took a lot of pride in dressing well, even though I was only making around $6 an hour.  I felt that dressing nicely helped customers take me more seriously and showed my supervisors that I wasn’t just some punk kid earning money for the mall.  It has helped me in interviews and has helped me get promotions; no one wants to stick someone in a higher position in the company if they can’t even manage to dress themselves in the morning.  I wasn’t blowing my paychecks on expensive designer clothes in order to impress anyone though, I shopped smart and dressed well so I could feel and act more professionally.

For the civilians in this building, there is better feeling of job security than in most jobs.  Yes, furloughs may be in their future, but for the most part they live without fear of losing their job.  This relaxed attitude seems to have leaked over into their personal pride, letting them reduce the amount of effort they put into their appearance without worry.  If I wasn’t a little crazy and slightly uptight, I could see myself giving up a bit in the mornings here and there and wearing pajama pants to work because they could almost pass as dress pants.  If my supervisor didn’t reprimand me, I could see it becoming a habit, and that is a habit that is hard to break once established.

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Work is not a place for a fashion show, and I’m not saying that we should go all out and be fancy every day.  But the Hershey fisherman this morning was simply unacceptable.  Deciding to come to work dressed like a hobo is disrespectful to your employer and your coworkers.  It’s unprofessional for any level of employment in an office, from supervisor to janitor.  It makes you look like a walking joke rather than someone who wishes to be taken seriously.  It reflects poorly on you and on your work, even if you’re a productive member of the office.  It makes you look lazy, careless, and gives the impression that you don’t give a damn.

It’s such an easy fix; go to Marshalls or another discount department store, grab yourself a few pairs of dress pants and some nice shirts, make sure they are interchangeable, and rotate them out each week.  Fridays are normally casual, so grab some jeans that aren’t acid washed and don’t have holes in the knees, pair it with a clean t-shirt without giant logos on it, and head on out.  Don’t assume that no one telling you something is wrong means that you are right.  Don’t become a slob just because your coworkers are slobs.  Don’t settle for “good enough” when you know you can do better.  I can’t take seeing one more woman with her muffin top spilling out of her sweatpants while I’m trying to do my job.  Get it together, people.

Three Day Weekends

We are edging closer and closer to the zero hour when my husband and mother-in-law will find out if they will be affected by the furloughs and forced to take unpaid days off until the next fiscal year.  As a government contractor, I am thankfully not affected, as the funds for my contract have already been obligated and I can be here as long as there is a civilian or military supervisor also present.  We are lucky that if the furlough does happen, it won’t hit us too hard financially, but I’m obviously holding out hope that it won’t happen.  As far as solutions go, this is one of the worst.

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I currently work for the Army National Guard, so I see a lot of figures and statistics dealing with our budget.  We have already cut down on unnecessary expenses such as trips out of state for conference attendances or classes, and we’re still left with dozens upon dozens of areas to cut funding from without touching anyone’s paycheck.  Obviously I can’t get into specifics regarding our budget and spending plans and patterns, but I feel confident in saying that I see enough areas that can be cut without disrupting business or the lives of people employed by us.  The only problem with picking and choosing where to cut is that it can get complicated.

The easiest route is to go ahead with the furloughs.  How much simpler can it get?  One day off per week without any type of pay equals lots of money saved.  It’s easy and doesn’t require much analysis or extra work.  With travel, for example, you will have groups fighting to get their travel approved by claiming it’s vital.  Since all travel can’t be suspended, you have to look at individual cases and make individual decisions.  With the furlough, everyone loses a day and that’s final.  You don’t have to lay off anyone, you don’t have to make exceptions, it simply is what it is.

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Cutting sixteen hours of pay out of a biweekly paycheck, after taking away overtime, is the absolute worst solution to our budgetary issues and will no doubt cause more harm than good.  The number of people directly affected by this is massive; all government employees along with their families are going to take a hit.  I suspect a sizable number of people will default on loans or credit cards, fall behind on bills, and find themselves struggling to make due.  Sixteen hours of pay doesn’t feel like much until you take it away.  I don’t see how the positives outweigh the negatives here.

I’m so let down that no better decision has been put on the table so we can avoid furloughs, especially knowing that better solutions exist.  If I personally need to cut my spending, I can trim down my groceries by choosing smarter items that will last longer, cut my cable and internet bill by downgrading to basic services, stop shopping sprees for luxury items, quit eating out during the week, choose Redbox over the movie theater, and so on.  I can cut spending without eliminating entire activities.  If this insignificant woman can figure it out, surely our government can.  Surely those brilliant minds can give us a fix that doesn’t result in decreased manpower and paychecks.  Right?

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Well, as of March 18, 2013, that fix is nowhere in sight.  I have fully accepted that my husband will drop to a 4 day work week beginning April 22nd and will stay on that schedule until October.  I have complete faith that my government will fail to come up with a better solution and will sacrifice my family’s financial stability in order to save themselves.  I suspect that the people who are intelligent enough to see alternate solutions will continue to be the people who also have no say in what happens and who lack the power to make something happen.  I have lost hope, and that makes me incredibly sad.

Enough from me, what about you?  Are you going to be affected by the furloughs?  What do you think the impact will be if government employees are all forced to drop one work day per week?  Do you have a better solution that would allow us to avoid furloughs?

The Real Pros And Cons Of Gay Marriage

With the fuss in North Carolina, the world seems to be totally focused once again on the issue of gay marriage.  It’s time we put this issue to rest.  Past time we do so actually.  To make it easy, I’ve decided to go over some pros and cons of same sex marriage and its effect on our society.

PRO:  All consenting adults who are in love and desire to be married will finally be allowed to do so.  Same sex marriages, which are now only recognized in certain states, will be recognized as legal nationwide.

CON:  All heterosexual couples who are or have been married will be shamed and embarrassed once the divorce rate plummets after same sex couples, who appreciate the chance to marry better than anyone, show the world what “til death do us part” actually means.

PRO:  Same sex couples will be able to receive the legal benefits that straight married couples are entitled to; tax exemptions and filing statuses, exemptions from taxes on property left to the spouse after death, certain government benefits, health insurance and visiting rights, family benefits such as joint foster care rights and joint adoption, and more.

CON:  Same sex couples could take advantage of the benefits heterosexual married couples already have; they could run wild adopting children in need, take too many visits to the doctor now that they have health insurance through their spouse, and receive tax breaks that current married couples already receive, leaving less money for the rest of us.

PRO:  It would be a major step forward for our country in ensuring all citizens have equal rights and no one is discriminated against based on things such as race, gender, religion, sexual preference, disability, and other factors that don’t determine a person’s self worth and contribution to society.

CON:  Allowing same sex couples to marry cheapens the institution of marriage and destroys the sanctity of marriage because God disapproves.  Yet, God is fine with quickie marriages such as the Kardashian 72 day affair because although they broke their vows, it was at least between a man and a woman.

PRO:  It could be a huge step in ending discrimination against the gay population by acknowledging that a same sex couple is no better and no worse than a heterosexual couple.  The legality of same sex marriage could potentially usher in a change in the mindset of the general population and an acceptance of same sex couples.

CON:  Legalizing gay marriage could make homosexual people more comfortable in their own skin, resulting in countless US citizens deciding to come out and let their family and friends know of their orientation, flooding the country with homosexuals.

PRO:  Children with same sex parents would finally be able to see their parents make their relationship official and get married.  It could also result in the child’s peers becoming more accepting of the “unconventional” family structure, making life much easier for the child.

CON:  If two men or two women are allowed to marry under the eyes of God, He could strike us all down with lighting, bring on a plague, flood the world for a second time, or take vengeance in some other way.  It could equal the end of days for us all.

Hmm… even after laying it out there, I’m still not sure what to believe.  Maybe we’ll never know if it’s okay or not for gay people to marry.  It’ll have to remain a mystery.

NOTE Oct 16 2013:  This was meant as a sarcastic look at the issue.  My opinion is that there are zero cons to allowing same sex marriage nationwide.  If you look at the issue honestly, there are no downsides.  Thanks for stopping by!

Newt Gingrich Thinks I’m A Slut

“Contraception, when it first became available, was a revolution in this country.  It allowed women to enter employment and educational opportunities that had previously not been accessible because they were unable to control their reproduction in the same way.  And I just can’t imagine rolling back the clock on that progress,” – Sandra Fluke

“There is no compelling government interest in making contraception an “essential benefit” of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act – certainly not at the expense of religious liberty.” – Ben Boychuk

‘I’d rather health insurance cover birth control for the young than cover Viagra for old men’ – Vox Populi

I am the proud mommy of a 6-year-old boy and a happily married wife to an incredible man.  We plan to add another little one to our mix, just not yet.  I’ve been on birth control since the age of 16 when I was prescribed it to help with severe cramping and headaches, along with other symptoms that were less than pleasant.  As my parent’s insurance didn’t cover the cost, I paid $39 out of my tiny paycheck every four weeks for a new pack.  During my freshman year of college, insurance began to pick it up and I had 6 blissful months where my birth control was free of charge.  Unfortunately, that was short-lived and the company decided to cover only half of the cost, leaving me to pay around $20 for a 4 week supply.  When I learned that a generic version was available, cost dropped by half but insurance also stopped paying.  At this point in time, I pay about $480 a year to keep myself child-free until the day my husband and I decide we’re ready for it.

It’s painfully obvious that the cost of birth control is far lower than the cost of treating a pregnant woman to term or even to an unfortunate miscarriage.  It’s less costly than adding a baby to the insurance policy.  There is enough debate and figures out there already to support this, so I won’t focus too much on it.  I do want to point out, however, the ridiculousness of covering drugs that will improve one’s sex life and encourage reproduction, certain surgeries that will improve appearance and therefore make one more attractive and likely to have intercourse, yet not be concerned with covering the things that will prevent unwanted pregnancies that come as a result.

A while back there was a proposed law to declare a fetus a human life and therefore make abortion illegal, as it would be the murder of this life.  Abortion has always been a hot button issue with people both on the pro-life and the pro-choice side.  It would seem like a no-brainer to me to encourage insurance companies to fully pay for birth control for women, as this would reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and in turn, reduce the number of women who seek abortions.  One would think that this would be a go-to topic for the pro-life crowd to focus their energy on; if their goal is to abolish abortion, work to abolish unwanted pregnancies by making birth control readily available for every single person who requires it.

I’ve heard families like the Duggars say that they are leaving the number of children they have up to God.  Some religious people believe that whether or not they conceive is in God’s hands and they must not use birth control, as it’s not part of His plan.  If you believe in God, shouldn’t you also believe that He put doctors and medicines in place in order to help you?  How can God sanction hospital births but not sanction the use of birth control devices prescribed by the same doctors that are trusted in bringing babies into this world?  I had an unplanned pregnancy during a time I still had faith and I didn’t believe for one second that God decided a newly single woman working night shift at IHOP and living in a crappy room for rent was the right person to give a baby to.  If you believe in God’s plan, that’s fine, but you also need to have some common sense and realize that accidents happen.  God’s plan doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions in life.  You wouldn’t fail to buckle your seatbelt and ignore stop signs because God decides when it’s your time to die, not carmakers, laws and government road signs.

I don’t want to start a debate on the intelligence our government shows when it comes to responsible spending, but it’s safe to say that they have made a bit of a mess of things and don’t always act responsibly.  A federally funded program is allowing California teens to receive free condoms and have them delivered to their door, so obviously it’s somewhat of a priority for the government to promote safe sex and prevent pregnancies.  But what about people like myself in a monogamous relationship who isn’t ready just yet for a child, doesn’t wish to use condoms with her spouse, and who doesn’t want her husband to get a vasectomy or get her own tubes tied when we feel our family is complete?  What about women who use condoms, understand they are hardly fool-proof, and wish to have an extra level of protection?  What about women who were where I was as a teen and have severe symptoms that can be alleviated with the use of birth control pills?  Where do we fit in?

I would love to see government funding go into either making birth control pills (and certain other methods) completely free of charge or at least reduce it to $5 or less a pack and base the cost on a person’s income and/or whether or not the pills are name brand or generic.  It should be as easy to get birth control as it is to get laid.  Sex isn’t going to come to a halt, the abortion debate will never be settled, child abuse won’t vanish, and babies will keep popping out of people who don’t want them.  The cost of raising a child isn’t going to go down, promiscuous people aren’t going to wake up tomorrow and change their ways, and people in general aren’t going to stop having sex.  I don’t want birth control to be out of my reach or the reach of anyone else who needs it.  To make it so is terribly irresponsible and completely unacceptable.

A lot of folk who share my point of view raise the argument that a man shouldn’t be proposing any ways to control what a woman does with her body.  I agree with this 100% but I also don’t really give a damn if it’s a man or a woman telling me I can’t have my birth control.  Yes, you can govern certain things I do with my body, such as using it as a deadly weapon or using it to incite a riot or disturb the peace.  No, you are not allowed to govern how I choose to decorate my body (earrings, hair color, tattoos, etc.) nor are you allowed to govern how I care for it and what I choose to use it for.  Making birth control inaccessible to some is just as bad as making it mandatory; you’re sticking your hands where they do not belong.

Indiana And I Just Can’t Get Along

I moved from warm and sunny Georgia to frigid Indiana back in 2008 so I could be with my now-husband.  My first winter here was hellish and I started to deeply regret not trying to talk my husband into moving to Georgia.  Turns out, the state of Indiana is quite sensitive and happened to overhear my remarks about how much I hated the weather.  It decided to get revenge in quite an evil way by deciding that I didn’t pay my state taxes.

After filing taxes for my first year of employment in this lovely state, I received a letter from the state government which told me I owed an ungodly amount for not paying my state tax.  I mailed them a copy of my W2 as well as a bank statement showing the $40 some odd dollars that I owed on top of what was taken from my paycheck and that was that.  Until I got a letter saying that there is a warrant out for me for failure to pay taxes.  I sent my documents to the police station and to the government offices again, plus one more time on top of that until I finally received word back to disregard the warrant and statement of what I owed, assuring me I was good.

Guess what happened again the next year?  Same thing, minus the warrant.  It took at least three mailings of my documents to assure them I wasn’t insane and did in fact pay my state tax through my paycheck and through my checking account during filing time.  I never got a reason for why this happened to me either time, only a letter once it was resolved stating that I did not in fact owe because I was correct in saying that I had paid.  Thanks, Indiana government.

The state must have tired of toying with my taxes because today I found out about the latest way they screwed me over.  In early 2010, I made a right turn on red after misreading a sign that said “no right turn on red” and listed various days and times.  Dumb, but honest mistake.  I got a ticket and called the number a few weeks later to make payment.  The first check I mailed in was mailed right back to me with a note saying that the amount owed was different.  I submitted a new check, it was cashed, and that was that.

Except it wasn’t.  Again.  My husband was getting insurance quotes today and discovered from a very nice agent that my license is suspended.  A couple of fees later, I was able to download some documents from the BMV’s site that confirmed this agent’s claims; my license is no good because I didn’t pay off my ticket.

Of course, I closed the account that I used to pay the ticket, so now I get to deal with the lovely folks at Bank of America to try to get a copy of my statement to prove to the court that I’m not a criminal and I paid my fine.  Yes, CRIMINAL; my case is in criminal court for not paying a ticket that I paid.  Just like the taxes I paid but didn’t pay, right?  I’m going to go insane.

If not for my husband, I’d be busy on the phone making enemies at the BMV, but he calmed me down and I’m taking the proper and calm steps to fix this.  Again.  Ugh.

Please tell me I’m not the only person this has happened to.  Have you ever gone through something similar to this, or know someone who has?  Did you murder anyone in the process of making things right?  Will you bail me out of jail if I assault whatever person make the error and turned my lovely drivers license into a useless piece of plastic?

UPDATE 1/4/12: Received word from the court that they sent the suspension on the same day I paid the ticket (I sent them proof) and they have contacted the BMV to fix me up. Sigh.

Life Begins At… Where Again?

I read yesterday that Mississippi will be voting shortly on a constitutional amendment that declares a fertilized human egg a legal person.  This “could effectively brand abortion and some forms of birth control as murder” according to The New York Times, who also report that “the amendment in Mississippi would ban virtually all abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest, and some birth control methods, including IUDs and “morning-after pills” that prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. It would also outlaw the destruction of embryos created in laboratories.” 

Upon conception, a fertilized egg is nothing more than a ball of unspecialized cells.  During the 5th and 6th weeks of pregnancy you begin to see the first signs of liver and lung formation as well as changes to prepare for ears and a mouth to grow, the arm buds form, and you have a bit of a tail.  In the 8th week, fingers and toes become apparent but are still webbed, the brain is developing, and genitalia begins to form.  The end of this week also marks the beginning of the fetal period, where most organs are present but still developing and operating at minimum.  The brain and nervous system don’t begin operating rapidly until week 27; activity prior to then is mostly simple reflexes and jerk reaction to stimuli.  It is at this point of major brain activity that I consider the fetus to be a person, as do many courts who have made certain cases double homicides when the mother is far enough along in her pregnancy that the fetus could survive outside the womb had it been given the chance.  Prior to that though, regardless of the joy parents feel once they learn they are expecting, what you are carrying isn’t legally or developmentally a person.  Not just yet.

Abortions are risky but they are no more dangerous than childbirth itself when performed in the first trimester, and some consider an abortion to be even safer than childbirth because there is a lesser amount of stress put on the body among other reasons.  There are women in this world who use abortion as a form of birth control, terminating pregnancies left and right because they are too irresponsible to use proper protection.  I don’t agree with abortion in this type of situation, but I also don’t oppose it because it is their right to do what they wish with their body.  They are not murdering a child nor are they taking someone’s life.  They can walk into a clinic and terminate as many pregnancies as they choose.  While I might think they’re irresponsible in their behavior, it’s not my place to comment to them on it nor is it my place to try to stop them.

What Mississippi is proposing is irrational; their argument is emotionally based rather than factually based.  They propose we decide that a sperm and an egg that joined just yesterday is the same thing as you and I, the same thing as my son and my husband.  They propose that the morning after pill, Plan B and others, should be illegal even though these pills do NOT terminate an existing pregnancy, but prevent it from happening which rids the body of nothing more than a few cells that have yet to implant and begin forming anything close to resembling a human being.  They propose that if I am raped by a strange man or a relative, I am stuck with my rape and/or incest baby because it’s the right thing to do, completely disregarding my emotional state and the fact that seeing this baby may make me insane, as it would be a constant reminder that I was violated.

Whether or not I have a baby is up to me, my husband, and partially my doctor as he or she would be there to advise me of negative consequences of conception and birth.  The government doesn’t have any say over my uterus and what I choose to keep in there or take out of there.  In general, abortions can be performed during the first trimester of pregnancy, before the fetus is well-developed and well before it can survive outside of the womb.  This is the safest time for it to be performed and there is no reason whatsoever that any female should be denied an abortion so long as she’s of age and is physically fit to undergo the procedure.  She should not be called a murderer or chastised for her decision.  She should not have the government ruling her own body.

If I had a miscarriage at 22 weeks, my baby that would have been will not receive a death certificate because there was no birth certificate.  We don’t celebrate our day of conception, we celebrate birthdays.  I’m not 31, I’m 30 because my life began when I made my appearance at the hospital in New York and not when my parents decided it was baby making time.  You can’t claim your unborn baby on taxes because they don’t exist yet and have no social security number.  What Mississippi is proposing simply doesn’t fit with the way society works.  If life truly begins when that one lucky sperm burrows into an egg, then everything above and more must change as well.

Mississippi is proposing this amendment because they don’t like abortions.  Well, I don’t like traffic but that doesn’t mean we should pass a law to keep nonessential people off of the roads.  Abortion is a touchy issue and although I happen to support a woman’s right to choose, I have zero problem with people who are pro-life so long as they aren’t the extreme idiots who bomb clinics and murder doctors in between protests.  We all have our opinions about it, but an opinion and a feeling shouldn’t dictate the law.  It’s not wrong to terminate a pregnancy in the 8th week, it just makes certain people sad.  It’s not dangerous to terminate in the first trimester (and sometimes later) but it is very dangerous to allow government to have this control over us as well as to force women to seek abortion in dangerous places since they are unable to obtain one legally.

For every pro-life argument I hear I can think of two pro-choice counterpoints.  In an ideal world we would have no murder and no premature death and no disease or heartache.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in a Pixar movie.  There are so many more important things for Mississippi and other states to do with their time other than find ways to ban abortions.  Rather than try and protect kids before they even come kids, how about spending time assisting children in our country who live in poverty, are abused and neglected, are born addicted to drugs because their mother couldn’t quit, who don’t receive proper education, who go hungry, who have disabilities and don’t get the proper assistance, or the countless other issues facing today’s youth.

I feel as though this push for government to control whether or not women can get an abortion is just one step down a slippery slope of insane controls to be handed over to the government.  Should they also tell me what method I must use during childbirth; can I use an epidural or must I use the water birthing method?  Will they allow use of condoms or will that be some sort of manslaughter since thousands of potential baby making sperm are going to waste?  How far will it be allowed to go?  I can only hope that the majority of people out there feel as I do and this insane vote to amend the constitution becomes ancient history.

UPDATE 11/9/11:   Mississippi voters Tuesday rejected a controversial amendment that would have defined life as beginning at conception.

LazyBones

I work Monday through Friday until 4 in the afternoon in a 4 part office with over 60 people within a building containing thousands.  Every morning, I reluctantly pass through the metal detectors, then fetch my freshly x-rayed bag and walk down the long hall towards my office.  I kiss my husband goodbye at the ramp and he heads to the second floor as I round the corner and settle in at my executive style desk and begin counting hours until it’s time for me to leave.  On an average day, I have about 1 broken up hour where I have work to take care of; the remainder of my day is spent reading the news, talking on here, or creating work for myself.  I am grossly overpaid.

I work for the financial center of the US Army.  Having a government job for the first time is quite an eye opener; I have a whole new outlook on the way things are run and I no longer wonder why the DMV makes you wait for 5 hours or why the US Postal Service holds packages of mine at the local office for a day or two before deciding to deliver it or why paperwork always takes a month too long to process.  In this building and in this office, time moves at the speed of snails.  No one seems to be in much of a hurry to do anything but get to the cafeteria for lunch or leave for the day.  People tend to vanish from their desks for hours at a time.  There appear to be three people assigned to a job that could be done by a single person, who would still have time for an hour long lunch break and possibly a mid-afternoon nap.  It boggles my mind.

Since starting this job in July 2010, I’ve taken it upon myself to seek out work to do because it drives me batshit crazy to sit around without a task at hand.  I’ve added as much as I can to my job duties and I still have an abundance of free time.  At times I feel guilty about this, but this is the first time in my 14 years of being part of the workforce (20 years if you count my time babysitting) that I’ve had a job where I can kick back and relax a bit, where I don’t always have something that needs to be done right away, where I’m not juggling multiple tasks while a demanding boss breathes down my neck.  Immediately before coming here, I spent a hot summer month working 14 hour days selling Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door; that was after leaving a position at a chiropractic office where I supervised three front office employees and had more job duties and responsibilities than I care to mention.  This job is slow paced and I think I deserve the break.  Finally.

That being said, it is very difficult for me to be comfortable in this job.  I’m certain I could stretch my work out to last me all day, but I’ve always been an efficient person and I don’t like to leave a task unfinished, especially when I am able to get it completed and have it done properly.  A task that took the person before me about 2 hours is one I finish within 20 minutes, 30 if I take my time.  It’s annoying sometimes, but it’s how I operate.  As soon as something to be done hits my desk, I tackle it, complete it with accuracy, and get rid of it.  I’m like a damn robot.

Truth be told, I do miss having a high paced job.  I would love to take charge of this building and do some housecleaning; I could easily eliminate a great number of people by handing off their work to someone who actually cares about their job, and I could do so without bogging that person down with extra work.  I miss being in charge, I miss running around, and I even miss the stress of having nonstop work that all has to be completed 5 minutes ago.  I just don’t miss it enough to leave the position I’m in now.  One day, possibly a day in the near future, I’ll begin the job hunt once again.  Maybe I’ll seek a challenging position within this building, maybe I’ll go elsewhere.  But for the time being, at the risk of seeming lazy, I’m perfectly content to glide along in my low key job and enjoy the perks of being a government employee.

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