Sunday, April 17, 2011

alex's update.

It's April! And for those of you no longer in Seattle, it's still raining here but the cherry blossoms are in bloom.

Personally, I've been far to busy to enjoy them though. I assessed my situation more seriously the other day and decided that I need to quit something. Currently, I've got two paid jobs, two volunteer jobs and am taking three classes. My newest job is at the YWCA, which I'm enjoying quite a bit. Plus the location and pay are both better.

I turn 26 this week, which means I get booted off my parent's fancy insurance. Thankfully I've had it thus far though. I had an ordeal a few weeks back where doctors passed me around with a slew of frightening suspicions (ovarian cancer, torsion, endometriosis). In the end it was just a benign ovarian cyst that ruptured. Measuring in at a whopping 6 centimeters (that's bigger than a golf ball) it was really damn painful. But thankfully its gone. And much thanks to my mom's health insurance provider which paid $1,400 for all the tests and visits.

Starting next week I'll be covered under the new Washington Health Plan. It's pretty new. It started in response to Basic Health losing funding. It's not subsidized like Basic Health, but it is still for people considered low-income.

I'm still planning on submitting law school applications this summer/fall after a bit of traveling. I'll be heading to Florida (not by choice!) and will get to catch one of the last shuttle launches since Obama cute the NASA program. Then we're headed to Melbourne, Tasmania and Auckland for a few weeks to visit a friend who moved out there. And of course, what would summer be without the obligatory trip to LA to see the other side of the 'fam.'

That's all I can come up with for now. I was toying with the idea of including a picture of an ovarian cyst for reference but I'll just let you google it if you want to see one.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nuclear Disarmament Now: Results

Hey guys!
A few months ago I posted about the struggle by the Disarm Plowshares Now group, five elderly nuns, priests, and citizens who protested the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor in Washington state, which are approximately 24 percent of the entire U.S. arsenal. The Bangor base houses more nuclear warheads than China, France, Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan combined. (See blog post below, or check out their website)

Well, they were found guilty and sentenced last week. All five members from 6 to 15 months in prison. They are feeling brave and most are imprisoned together. If you feel like supporting them, check out the website. You can write letters and protest on your own.

P.O. BOX 13900

Register Numbers:

Fr. Bill Bichsel 86275-020
Susan Crane 87783-011
Lynne Greenwald 40672-086
Fr. Stephen Kelly 00816-111
Sr. Anne Montgomery 03827-018

Saturday, February 19, 2011

WTF Wisconsin

Hey friends,

I'm sure you're probably not closely following Wisconsin politics; to be honest, we have exams coming up, so I'm not either. But things around here are INTENSE!

Our ridiculous governor who does not even have a college degree (I have no idea who voted for him) has created a shitty bill to combat Wisconsin's budget crisis (that may or may not exist according to an article I read today). Rather than taking expenditures from things that suck: ie - charging fees for high emissions, etc, he has decided to cut our Medicaid program (Badgercare) and take away collective bargaining rights from government employees (ie: officials, teachers, UW hospital workers; fire and police are exempted).

My mom is a teacher, so this could potentially have a big impact on my whole family. School districts state-wide have been closed, some since Wednesday. One specific concern of my mom's is that she'll be eligible for retirement in four years. Currently, she is able to keep her health insurance until Medicare kicks in at age 65. This, however, has to pass one contract revision set to happen in two years. If this changes, both she and my dad will be uninsured when my mom retires - yikes!

In another respect, Wisconsin is one of the best states in terms of uninsured children - very few of our children are uninsured because of Badgercare, and to lose this program will send those stats through the roof. The labor issue is in the spotlight, but the impact on our low-income residents will probably have a bigger impact on the health of our state. Add the potential for a Planned Parenthood cut (which still has to pass through the Senate) AND AmeriCorps cuts (***tear***)...the thought is devastating. Do people not realize that when you cut funding for medicaid and community health centers that people are left with NO option?

To prevent this bill from passing, several of our democrats left the state - without enough people, the vote can't happen. You might view this as an immature act - after all, we did vote for these people and that's how laws get passed. However, Walker is strong-arming this bill - creating it one day, passing it the next, without the opportunity for public discourse. There was a Tea Party counter-rally today...they had to bus people in because...oh wait...nobody likes the Tea Party! People may have voted for Walker, but in many Wisconsin counties, school districts and the governmental sector are the largest employers (and everybody else is on Badgercare). Everybody knows somebody who will be hurt by this bill.

Anyway, I'm sure I don't have all the facts straight, but I figured this was a worthy cause to post for!

Love and miss all of you!

P.S. I've seen the inside of a penis. Yep, this upcoming exam is on abdomen/pelvis - woohoo!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Update from Illinois

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

I've been enjoying reading everyone's news. What variety so far (back-to-back nuclear disarmament and guns)! I miss our weekly meetings (even when they were over video-conference), but it's great to hear about your adventures and opinions, and I hope to hear from the rest of the group too.

Nothing super exciting in my life so far. Tomorrow is the first day of my second semester: some more Russian history, a class on microhistories, and a first-year research paper. Currently, my research deals with the introduction of western European languages into Russian society in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In two years I should be done with courses and starting on my dissertation. In short, I will be in Urbana for at least the next six years, with sporadic trips to Russia, so you're more than welcome to come and visit.

I've started a blog of my own, My Present and Thoughts, with mostly random musings on history and culture, although I haven't been that good at writing on it regularly. I've been meaning to do a post sometime on the random connections between my current activities and my year with AmeriCorps; if I do, I'll leave a link here.

I hope to see you all again soon!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Buns and Guns; Thanksgiving at the Ingersolls

The first picture is my uncle, then the buns and guns motif, finally my uncle and my the kitchen of my house.

Apparently my dad is now into guns. My uncle was in the army for decades, and is also into guns. I'm not quite sure how to respond to this...

Don't let this inhibit any of you from visiting me in Wisconsin...I swear it's much friendlier than these pictures imply!!!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bangor Base: Disarmament of Nuclear Weapons

A year ago, Father Bill "Bix" Bichsel and four trespassed onto Bangor (Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and Strategic Weapons Facility-Pacific). This Friday, they will be arraigned, and sentenced to possibly 10 years of prison and a $250,000 fine.
Bix has been a friend of my family's and community's for a long time. This is not the first time he has been in trouble. It is, however, the first time he has been in trouble with the workplace of my husband's parents. I was actually legally on base this Saturday, and was given a tour. I didn't mention my connection to Bix.

So what is so bad at Bangor that people are going to prison over?

"The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles west of Seattle, is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal, housing more than 2000 nuclear warheads. In November 2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared that the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire U.S. arsenal. The Bangor base houses more nuclear warheads than China, France, Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan combined."
"The base has been rebuilt for the deployment of the larger and more accurate Trident D-5 missile system. Each of the 24 D-5 missiles on a Trident submarine is capable of carrying eight of the larger 455 kiloton W-88 warheads (each warhead is about 30 times the explosive force as the Hiroshima bomb) and costs approximately $60 million. The D-5 missile can also be armed with the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead. The Trident fleet at Bangor deploys both the 455 kiloton W-88 warhead and the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead."

Also, Desmond Tutu has said about this group: “We know that nations need teachers, schools, books, drinking water, productive farm land, food and shelter. We do not need weapons of war, and we do not need nuclear weapons which threaten to destroy all of God’s creation."

What exactly did they do?
"The defendants entered Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in the early morning hours
of November 2, 2009, All Souls Day, with the intention of calling
attention to the illegality and immorality of the existence of the Trident
weapons system. During the action they held a banner saying."Disarm Now
Plowshares : Trident: Illegal + Immoral", left a trail of blood, hammered
on the roadway and fences around Strategic Weapons Facility - Pacific
(SWFPAC) and scattered sunflower seeds throughout the base."

On the other side of it, the guards at the base were ordered to shoot on sight, and were very young men. THey were likely scared, and didn't want to shoot anyone. However, they also didn't know if these trespassers were planning on getting to the nuclear arms or not, or trying to set off any weapons. Which, to me, shows the danger of even having them.

It's really sad and mixed up and confusing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

to hijab or not to hijab

I recently got invited to a Muslim wedding and have been advised to dress modestly, hijab would be best. I'm a bit torn here though. My friend (a female) is not muslim, nor is she converting, but is marrying a muslim man. Apparently only men are allowed to marry out of their faith. Here are some of the rules on the website of the mosque where the wedding will take place:

Parties wishing to get married at XXXXX Mosque must comply with the following requirements before making appointment:
  1. Marriage will not be performed between a Muslim female and a non-Muslim male.
  2. Approval of the Marriage by respective fathers or recognized Muslim guardians shall be demonstrated prior to the performance of the marriage. This condition especially applies to the bride. Written permission from the Parent / Guardian of the bride consenting to marry.
  3. An agreement on the Dowry (Mahr) to the bride between the bride’s guardian and the groom must be completed.
  4. Marriage performance/reception shall conform to Islamic standard; no alcoholic beverages, no drugs of any kind, no sensual music, dancing or singing, no free mixing of men and women and immodest dressing
  5. Two Muslim male witnesses.
  6. Presence of the ‘Wakeel’ (guardian) of the bride at the time of marriage

There are some rules on here that, in my opinion, seem oppressive and unnecessarily outdated. By the way, I did not add any of the bolding or italics, that's straight from the mosque's website.  I have somewhat of a superficial understanding of Islam and its treatment of women and would love to learn more, but I do feel that some of the tenants of Islam conflict with my personal values. I'm definitely planning to attend the wedding and promise to not mingle with men or dance sensually. But do I hijab? I don't know. I want to out of respect for my friend and her new family and a general respect for people's religious views. Any thoughts? -Alex