Friday, November 30, 2007

Non-profits I like: RAINN

(A semi-regular post that features, duh, not for profit agencies and organizations I like and support.)

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is one of those non-profits doing the really shitty work that absolutely needs to be done. They're the largest national anti-sexual assault organization.

Here are some scary stats:

  • Someone is sexually assaulted in America every 2 and 1/2 minutes.
  • 80% of rape victims are under age 30.
  • Almost 60% of sexual assaults go unreported.

RAINN runs a national sexual assault support hotline and has an online support line in beta. They run educational programs that reach over 120 million Americans each year. They're considered the go-to source on sexual assault statistics, prevention and information. Donate here. Check out the whole site though, because the people at RAINN are a huge reason why sexual assaults in the US have dropped almost 70% since 1993.

I was going to put a feminism tag on this post, but chose not to because issues RAINN deals with are not confined solely to women, although we do make up the majority of the victims. Again from the website, "About three percent of American men — a total of 2.78 million men — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime according to the 1998 Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women study." Men are also much less likely to report a sexual assault.

It's easy to be against rape and sexual assault. It takes some effort to do something about it. RAINN has volunteer opportunities here. Be a good human and do it, please.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bloody rant

(Note: I edited this post on 11/30. I need to remember not to blog angry!)

Ok so back in the beginning of the month, I decided to organize an office blood drive. I called the NY Blood Center and set up a time and place. I then asked around my office to see if anyone would be interested. Turns out, no one was.

Then one person said she'd donate with me. Hooray! I happily made the appointments for this Friday. Only, 3 weeks later, now she's sick and on antibiotics. That's a blood donation no-no. So now it's only me again.

Today my boss decides that we should have a brainstorming lunch meeting on Friday and the exact time I'm scheduled to give blood. Dunno what to do. Skip lunch or skip donation?

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Be Thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving! Here at Be a Good Human, as is my wont, I will follow the trend and list what I have to be thankful for. You should too!

1) My smokin' hot bod. Well ok, I've actually packed on a few pounds and I don't exercise nearly as much as I want to, but so far, I haven't been confined solely to my bed. And here's something awesome: Extra weight = bigger tits! That's good for everyone!

2) Upwardly mobile career path. I've been "taking more initiative" at the office and I think it's starting to pay off. I'm getting more responsibility, which will conceivably lead to a promotion or at least a pay bump. It's nice to see that I'm getting somewhere.

3) Kickass BF. We've been together like 3 years and he's perfect for me. He's so chill. When I get all type A crazy girl, he evens me out. When I freak out that we spent more than $100 on groceries for the month (see: poor childhood) he tells me it's ok to eat more than once per day. (Photo from, duh)

4) My Dentist. I have TMJ like you would not believe. My insurance is spotty, at best (I blame Michael Moore) and the good doc is comping a lot of the services he would normally charge for. It almost makes up for the fact that his teeth are crooked. (SRSLY! WTF!)

5) Libraries. A seemingly unending supply of free books! How great is that?

6) Native Americans. You wouldn't know it by looking at me, but I am of American Indian descent. So I am thankful for my people, their casinos, cheap cigarettes and low gas prices. I'm also thankful they took those smallpox blankets and trail of tears in stride. I'm also thankful for the peyote. (jk jk jk)

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Monday, November 19, 2007

My readers is edjumacated

cash advance

Found this interesting. I wonder how they actually tabulate the "readibility." Who cares? You guys are smart!

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Feminism for humanity

I'm working on being a better feminist. No man's gonna hold me back from what I want, but.... OMGTHERE'SABUGKILLIT!!!! I still have a ways to go, I suppose.

My appreciation of Planned Parenthood showed a nice spike in readers (Thanks, Google Analytics!) and so Menstrual Poetry decided to include it in the latest edition of Feminism at its Finest. Go check it out!

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Friday, November 16, 2007

You can't give away what you don't have

I'm trying to be a good human. I'm really trying to be nicer to people, volunteer my time, give notice to worthy causes, be less of wastoid, etc. I wrote last month about the things that inhibit me the most in my quest, but I left out the giant elephant in the room: money. I'm going to deviate from my normal blogging topics because money is an overarching theme in the lives of those who don't have it.

I don't have a lot of money. My boyfriend and I live in a very expensive city and almost 1/2 of our income goes directly to rent. We also have a combined $50k in student loan debt, of which I carry the majority. That's a lot.

Last year the bf consolidated his $20k student loan debt and chose a graduated repayment plan. Big mistake. Sure, his payments for the first 2 years are about $100 cheaper than they would be if he just chose a level repayment, but his payments are pretty much all interest, as in, he's making almost no dent in the principal balance. It kind of feels like treading water, he keeps paying, but the balance doesn't ever seem to go down.

Now on my end, I just consolidated my loans, something I really didn't want to do. I didn't want to stretch out the repayment term because I know that doing so adds thousands more in interest. Plus, the interest rates are astronomical right now! But I really didn't have a choice because I can't afford the monthly payments otherwise. So I consolidated at 6.75%, and now I'm stuck with it. Even though as the economy continues to tank, the rates will drop, but I won't be able to re-consolidate at a lower rate. This is one serious flaw with the Federal student loan system and it shackles so many college grads with unnecessary interest debt. Not cool!

In the end, I decided to go with Bank of America over Sallie Mae for my consolidation. I guess there was some change in the law (of course I'm fuzzy on the details, I'm only one of thousands being affected by it!) so that many lenders are no longer offering a 1% interest rate reduction after 36 consecutive on-time payments. B of A still offers this, along with .25% interest rate reduction for enrolling in direct deposit, both of which I'm going to take advantage to the fullest. And yet, I'll be 42 at the end of my loan term.

I know in the greater context of the world, my student loan debt isn't such an atrocity. However, shelling out $300+/month to pay for my admittedly mediocre state school education when I could be putting that to better use at the food kitchen or sponsoring some kid in Africa or sending presents to brighten my little sister's day, well it really kind of sucks. If there were ever a topic to get this generation off their keisters and write their representatives in Congress, this just might be it.

Here are some things I could do with $300/month instead of pay back this damn loan:
1) Donate a laptop.
2) Save for 3 or 4 months and get a damn couch.
3) Sponsor 12 poor kids.
4) Leave a HUGE tip the next time I get my nails done.
5) Save it, so my little sister won't have the same headaches later on.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Of Saints and Real Estate

My grandparents put their house up for sale over the summer. It's huge: 5 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, formal dining area, fireplace, etc. The price is exceedingly reasonable/ somewhat low, in my opinion. And yet they've only had 2 people even stop by to look, nevermind actually make an offer.

The problem? Well besides this whack housing market, the house is located in Western NY, a region that has been hemorrhaging people since the '70s, including me.

My grandparents are awesome people. They opened their huge-ass house to their kids and grandkids when they needed some help or a place to stay at the expense of their privacy and a whole lot of money. They're in their mid-60s right now and are so freaking sick of Lake Effect snow. They just want to pack up and head down South where they can enjoy their retirement without astronomical heating bills.

The main story of the housing slump is the ridiculous number of foreclosures and all the people losing the homes they really couldn't afford in the first place thanks to wildly unscrupulous lending practices. However, there are also people like my grandparents with the exact opposite problem - they are stuck with a house they don't want and can't find a buyer.

So I've decided to put god on their side, in the form of his servant, St. Joseph. If you haven't heard the story, apparently you just bury good old St. Joe upside down next to your mailbox and then he'll work his stepdad o' the savior magic and voila! You'll sell your house!

I got my St. Joe from Home & Beyond, but you can also find them at your local Christian store or by Googling "St Joseph statue." If you think about it, you probably know someone struggling to sell their house. Be a good human and pick one up for them. Then you can take all the credit when they get deluged with offers.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007


(February 2007: That's me. And my old neighbor in the full length camo snowsuit Yeah, the snow is as tall as I am.)

I'm originally from Western NY. You know, by Buffalo, where it snows a lot. Then I went to school in Oswego. Maybe you heard about it on the news? I'm intimately familiar with the dreaded lake effect snow. What I'm trying to say is, it gets really cold. And snowy. And sucky.

And now that I live in NYC, the weather has been a lot better. But this week it's been freaking cold! And I haven't fully unpacked since moving here (don't judge!) so I couldn't find my winter coats. That blue one in the photo is so warm and awesome. I've had it for years and it's held up to some brutal winters.

I thought, "This is no problem; I'm from Upstate! I've lived with snow and bitter temperatures all my life! Only the locals (or what I used to imagine the locals looked like) would need a coat down here. I'm too tough for this." And so on.

But I was wrong. As it turns out, without my awesome Columbia Bugaboo, I'm no tougher than the locals. I found it today and I was soooo relieved.

I started thinking, what if I didn't have a winter coat at all? Lots of people don't. So this woman in San Francisco (do they even need coats there?) started One Warm Coat, which is where you can donate warm winter outerwear, find a coat drive in your area or start one of your own. They even get sponsors like the Burlington Coat Factory and The Gap to pitch in. Awesome right? So look them up, then be a good human and look in your closets and donate! One Warm Coat makes sure that the coats and mittens that they receive are given away for free to those who need them.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Don't call it volunteering

So here at Be a Good Human, I'm documenting my efforts to... uh... be a good human. And I'm trying really hard! (At being a good human, but not so much documenting my efforts.)

Irregardless! I'm looking to volunteer more. Right now, I don't actually volunteer at all. Sad story, I know. I want to volunteer at Planned Parenthood, but I think I'd really like to work directly with kids. Also, there isn't one in my neighborhood. WTF! So I've been checking out Nework for Good in order to find something I'm interested in. There are a lot of possible places I can volunteer my time.

However, I don't really like the calling int "volunteering." That makes it sound like my time is idle, and a couple of Saturdays every month don't matter. Well actually, I'm pretty fucking busy! I have to commit to block out time to devote to charitable work. And it also makes it sound like it's unnecessary. Like not everyone needs to volunteer; only those who have the time. That's silliness, as everyone should be able to make the time.

There's gotta be a better way to say it. Or maybe I'm just being sensitive about it. Maybe, as I've tagged it, I'd rather take action to fill a need that I see. I do like the idea of siezing the opportunity rather than just raising my hand and volunteering for it.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Planned Parenthood is Awesome

I'm a huge fan of Planned Parenthood. I used to go there when I didn't have health insurance and they gave me birth control pills for $15/pack. That's a good deal!

But besides the money I saved on pills, they saved me a lot more by making helping me choose not to have children. From their website, "For 90 years, Planned Parenthood has served women and men who want to decide when and whether to have a child — who believe that every child should be wanted and loved."

That's not to say that I wouldn't love a child. Duh - of course I would! But I definitely don't want one, not right now. I'm seriously considering getting rid of cable so I can have an extra $60 or so per month - there's no way I could afford a kid. And that's the thing, every child should be wanted and loved. Love isn't enough to raise a family.

But what I really like about PP is that they're more than just birth control and abortions. They offer a full range of reproductive health services to women in an honest, supportive, non-judgmental way. From what I've been told, the doctors and nurses there don't make whole lot of money, but they work there because they know they're providing an invaluable service.

I was just reading a PP sponsored blog, Emily X, "the true-life diary of a frontline Planned Parenthood worker and activist." It mostly features various PP doctors, nurses and volunteers talking about their interactions with protesters and picketers at their local health center. This was in response to anti-choice groups starting a picketing campaign from 9/26-11/4, called "40 days for life." The Nov 2 posting, from a doctor who practiced in the same clinic as Dr. Barnett Slepian isn't particularly riveting - it's just some guy talking - but when you think about it...holy shit! There was a very real chance that he could have been killed and yet he still went to work everyday to provide these services for women. That's ballsy. If I ever saw him out, I'm sure I'd buy him a drink.

In sum, Planned Parenthood is awesome. The people working there provide great services, even in the face of danger. You can find a local health center by going to their website. I just thought you should know.

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