Sunday, June 19, 2011

Time to Get Serious!

I'm changing the focus of this blog for the next few weeks - hope you don't mind.  Like many women, after a certain birthday, I've found pounds creeping on and refusing to vacate the premises.  I've tried a variety of methods to counter the trespassers and, while I've had some success (I took up whole grains, for example), I'm just sick and tired of not seeing much change.

So it's time to Take Steps.

I've never been one to closely examine bookstore shelves for diet advice, feeling that it's all either (1) pretty much the same - cut sugar and fried foods, watch portion size, and exercise more or (2) kooky junk that desperate women will do despite usually having common sense, like slurping cabbage soup three times a day.  Therefore, I was a little shamefaced about looking at these books, almost like I'd been caught doing something Not Quite Polite.  Also, I accept that obesity is a (pardon the pun) huge problem in American society and I know that I'm really just looking to lose what my English friends would refer to as "a stone," but it's been a nagging problem for me.

But, like Willow, I am wearing my Resolve Face.  I've looked over the book and made my shopping excursion.  I have the CliffsNotes version printed out and posted on the fridge.  Everything starts tomorrow.  The first cycle only lasts 17 days and the only restriction that seems tough to me is giving up even whole grains for that time (rice, pasta, and bread are all verboten for the first cycle, after which I get to reintroduce them). It's a little of Atkins in that it's high-protein, low-carb. The idea is to spark a noticeable weight loss during this first cycle so I don't get discouraged.

I'll keep you posted.  Don't worry, this won't turn into a place where I constantly fret about "how I'm doing," but knowing that I'm going to post will (I hope) keep me on the straight and narrow during this time.

In some ways, this is just another way that I'm Getting Serious.  To wit, I've always been interested in politics, but mostly in the theoretical way.  I vote (not straight ticket) and I follow the news and I go tsk, tsk a lot, but until recently, that's been the extent of it.  But there's a change in the air here at the Nest.  My much-beloved state is doing some things that aren't just bordering on the country of Stupid, they pretty much are setting up housekeeping there.  Of course, the state budget has plenty of things in there for everyone to get upset about - I could almost accept that, in working on such a gargantuan task, there would be some tough decisions that I didn't like.  Well, I was right about that.  But:
  • Cutting all funding to Governor's School.  This is a summer enrichment program for advanced high school students who show unusual promise in science, mathematics, writing, the arts, etc.  Founded in 1963, NCGS is a jewel.  By being forced to impose tuition, which for the next year affected by the just-passed budget is estimated to be $1,700 per student, the program will be unable to meet one of its primary purposes which is to reach the promising student of limited means.  The best and the brightest shouldn't have to rely on the kindness of strangers dropping spare change into a pickle jar at local gas stations to fund such programs.  
  • Cutting all funding to the NC Teaching Fellows program.  This program is a merit-based program that grants scholarships of $6,500 per year to students throughout their four years of undergraduate instruction, with the provision that upon graduation from college, the students will repay the state by teaching for four years in NC public schools. Built-in trained teachers ready to tackle work in public schools - can't have that.
  • Muzzling the state Department of Revenue from vigorously going after multi-state corporations who juggle the location of their taxable assets in a transparent dodge to avoid paying state taxes.  We already have the lowest business taxes in the nation (same as the previous link) and the lowest percentage (3.2%) of unionized workers.
Those items were included in the state budget that our governor vetoed and the legislature overrode.  I can't do anything about that - until the time comes to hit the campaign trail.  But the next one got me involved - I've never written so many e-mails to my elected representatives before.  Both my state representative, state senator, and governor heard from me.  It might not matter - I'm only one person, but it has to start somewhere.  And this is simply outrageous.

Disingenuously called the "NC Women's Right to Know Act," the bill (which is waiting for the governor's signature or [please] veto) would require the following before a legal abortion could be performed:

  • A 24 hour waiting period (which for many in NC will involve finding a place to stay the night since abortion clinics aren't all that widespread in NC, which is mostly rural)
  • A required ultrasound, paid for by the patient
  • A session with the doctor, who will explain the ultrasound images, the development of the fetus, and explain what alternatives are available to the woman.  The woman is permitted to "avert her eyes" from the images.  The doctor is given a lengthy list of items that must be included in his spiel - yes, the legislators thoughtfully provided a script for the licensed professional physician to follow.
  • The only exception here is a "medical emergency," which is defined as imminent danger of the death/irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the woman.  Psychological or emotional damage from continuing the pregnancy is specifically not included in the definition of a "medical emergency."  See subsection (4) in the "Definitions" section at the start of the bill.
  • Oh, and there's no exception in the case of rape or incest.  None.
At this point, I think I actually felt my blood boil.  Imagine a rape victim who has become pregnant as the result of the attack (or an incest victim, a crime that only became a serious felony in NC in 2002.  Outrageous and it wasn't easy to strengthen the penalties - read here for details) having to pay for an ultrasound and then having to listen to a doctor explain the development of the fetus and explain what resources are available to help her with the pregnancy, which is the result of a heinous crime against her.  

How dare the legislature treat NC women as so thick-headed that they don't know what's going on inside them?  And how dare the legislature interfere in the very-nearly-sacred privileged relationship between a doctor and a patient?

I see the trend here - and it's time to start yelling.  You'll find me writing more e-mails, volunteering with my local precinct and talking your ear off about these issues.  I love North Carolina, but I'm not going to live in a state that dismisses the average citizen the way our current legislature is doing.

And I'm not leaving.

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