Doing what we can

I’ve been blessed with hair that is thick and grows quickly (though not as thick or as quickly now that I’m older, it’s still better than average). Since I discovered Locks of Love, I donated my hair every 18 months or so, which is about how long it took to grow 11 inches.

I truly wish this service had been available when I was in college. At that time my hair was growing around an inch a month and was three times as thick as it is now. I could have helped so many people.

Locks of Love has generous guidelines. While they need a minimum hair length of 10 inches (if curly, length when pulled straight and measured), shorter hair can be sold to offset their manufacturing process, as can gray hair.  The hair needs to be in a ponytail or braid.

I decided to stop donating after I turned 50.  My last donation actually took place after my 51st birthday.  The aggravation of growing it long, and the headaches it was sometimes causing, made me decide to take a break.  My hair’s gotten a bit long again, but I don’t think it’s long enough to donate.  I found the pictures I took before and after my last donation which I’ll attach below.  If I find my hair has gotten this long again, I’ll donate again, but I don’t think I’ve reached the mark by at least three inches and I’m ready to get a trim.

If you have long hair and decide to make the change to short hair, and haven’t bleached your hair, Locks of Love would like to use your hair to help make hair pieces for children suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.  Give it a thought!

Before and after my hair donation in January 2011

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Proud of my agency: the Interdiction for the Protection of Children program

These are the kinds of things my agency does with your tax dollars.  I am proud to work here.

December 6, 2012                                                            NEWS RELEASE

DPS Program Saving Lives, Protecting Children

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) today highlighted the success of the unparalleled Interdiction for the Protection of Children (IPC) program, which helps officers identify and recover missing or exploited children. In 2009, DPS launched the IPC program to teach troopers and officers how to identify, recognize, intervene and remove endangered children without obvious signs of abuse being present.

“DPS identified and filled a law enforcement void with an invaluable program that trains officers to identify children in danger during traffic stops, including human trafficking,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “This program will continue to yield results and our officers will continue to protect innocent children, save lives and stop predatory criminals from committing the most heinous crimes.”

IPC is a valuable program that provides sophisticated training to help law enforcement officers identify and recover missing or exploited children and arrest suspects for sexual assault of children, including possession of child pornography.

As a result of this training, DPS has made 20 criminal arrests and recovered 62 missing or exploited children since 2010. Since the program’s inception, DPS has provided the IPC training to its own officers as well as other law enforcement, including more than 2,600 officers in Texas and approximately 1,900 officers nationally and internationally outside of Texas. A variety of other groups interested in the protection of children have also attended the training.

Numerous organizations interested in the IPC program have requested and received presentations and classes from DPS about the training, including the Georgia Bureau of Investigations; Canadian Center for Child Protection Conference; University of Arkansas – Criminal Justice Institute; and Child Advocacy Center of Texas Conference.

### (HQ 2012-135)

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How to block abortions without making them illegal

The state of Mississippi has only one abortion clinic. Just one. Lawmakers who want even that one closed may have found a way to do it.

First, they passed a series of laws that were so difficult to comply with that the state’s abortion clinics closed until the Jackson Women’s Health Organization was the only one left.

Last Spring they passed a law (H.B. 1390) requiring all doctors working at an abortion facility to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. That seems innocuous enough, but the doctors have been denied privileges at every one of the 12 hospitals in the area. In the denial letter, Crossgates River Oaks Hospital basically said that since the doctors performed elective abortions, they would never get hospital privileges.

So women whose religious and ethical beliefs are different from those of the hospital administrators will soon be denied the service protected by Roe v. Wade (1973). An injunction has been filed to delay enforcement, which was signed into law in April, but if the federal court does not grant a preliminary injunction while the clinic fights the constitutionality of the law, it could close down as early as February.

In doing further research, I’ve discovered that in Casey v Planned Parenthood (1992), the Supreme Court proclaimed that any regulation that imposes a “substantial obstacle” preventing a woman from obtaining a legal abortion is an “undue burden” that violates the woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. I say that H.B. 1390 fits the definition of “substantial obstacle.”

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War against all who are not white males?

Rachel Maddow posted it and Juanita Jean echoed it. Here’s a picture of all the chairs of the House Committees.

Juanita Jean’s commenters came out in fine style. Aggieland liz said, “I know a song about ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale?'”

One of my favorite commenters, daChipster, came back with:

They skipped the PC tango
While holding the House floor
They dropped the female chairmen
But Grover called for more
The baggers shouted louder
As civility flew away
When Boehner called for another drink
The Koch boys brought a tray

And so it was that later
As the Speaker told his tale
That the House, at first just ghostly
Turned a Whiter Shade of Male

He said, there is no reason
The truth is plain to see
Although we lost the voting
We gerrymandered free
Inventing vestal virgins
Who pay their own health cost
And though you won the election
You might as well have lost

And so it was that later
As the Speaker told his tale
That the House, at first just ghostly
Turned a Whiter Shade of Male

I truly do not know how the Republican Party can say they represent everyone when their demographics look like this. But they tried. According to BusinessWeek, Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, who will head the Homeland Security Committee (the only committee even considered to have a female chair, Representative Candice Miller of Michigan) said, gender imbalance is “an inside Washington baseball story.” He also said, “Half of our leadership is female; that’s a big sea change.” And he said, “You’re going to see them on the TV all the time with leadership.”

Kind of a strange sentence to me. If they are leadership, how are you going to see them “with leadership.” And if they are leadership, why aren’t they being given leadership roles in Congress? Are they only considered to be fit for roles within the Party Conference?

And it still doesn’t address the lack of minorities.

There are two committees left to fill, both of which “are known more for headaches than for power: chairman of the Ethics Committee, which judges lawmakers accused of wrongdoing, and the Committee on House Administration, which oversees the nuts and bolts of the multi-office complex on Capitol Hill.” House Administration was described elsewhere as “the panel in charge of cafeterias and parking lots.” According to BusinessWeek, “Unless Speaker John Boehner chooses a woman to run [one of these], there won’t be any chairwomen in the next Congress, which begins in January.”

The only woman currently serving as a full Committee Chair, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, must step down due to term limits imposed by Party rules.

There was hope that there would be some women running subcommittees “if the opportunity comes.” Don’t know what that last statement meant. It would certainly be a step in the right direction.

But for now, the Democrats’ assertion that the Republican Party is running Congress with “old white guys” is gaining credence, even if everyone in this picture isn’t old.

Thanks to Ms Juanita Jean and the girls at The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc. for bringing this to my attention.

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Santorum and Lee oppose a treaty protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. Why?

The U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a human rights treaty negotiated during the administration of former President George W. Bush and ratified by 126 nations to date, including China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Syria and Saudi Arabia. It has not yet been ratified by the United States of America.

Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) want our country to reject the treaty. Senator Lee said,

“I will do everything I can to block its ratification, and I have secured the signatures of 36 Republican senators, all of whom have joined with me saying that we will oppose any ratification of any treaty during this lame-duck session.” Source

Why are they blocking a treaty negotiated by a Republican president?

Santorum says, “This is a direct assault on us,” and Lee has “grave concerns” about the document’s threat to American sovereignty.

According to the Washington Post, the treaty requires virtually nothing of the United States. It essentially directs the other signatories to update their laws so that they more closely match the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If they truly have 36 votes, they will block ratification by the United States. Treaty ratification requires a 2/3 majority.

And I believe they do it all because, while a Republican negotiated the treaty, it doesn’t happen to be a Republican in office today. I truly believe if the Republican candidate had won, they’d stall the vote until the day after inauguration, and then do what they could to get it passed.

Any takers on that bet?

Thanks to Ms Juanita Jean and the girls at The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc. for bringing this to my attention.

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I hadn’t realized it had been that long

A commenter on mentioned she couldn’t remember the last time a white male had been U.S. Secretary of State. I had to look it up. It was Warren Christopher, President Bill Clinton’s first Secretary of State. He appointed Madeleine Albright Secretary of State for his second term. In fact, three of the last four have been female. The fourth was war hero General Colin Powell (Ret.).

In other words it has been more than fifteen years since the last time a white male was U.S. Secretary of State.

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Fitness Assessments for Texas Students

I got an email from the American Heart Association (Austin chapter) today. They are concerned about the possible sunset of a law requiring a Fitnessgram Assessment of Texas students. It’s an annual physical fitness assessment. Individual results are private, but the raw data is available to study the connection between good health, better behavior, and high academic achievement. It also helps identify statewide trends in obesity rates.

There’s an online letter, if you prefer to do things electronically. It can be found here. Handwritten letters carry more power, if you are so moved.

The local American Heart Association will also have several days where they go to lobby our Legislators on this issue at the Capitol. If you are interested in helping, or in getting on their mailing list, please get in touch with Brian Bowser at

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I’d love this for my next car

CNN wrote an interesting article on “new” battery technology known as “liquid metal battery.” I put “new” in quotes because, as with many discoveries, it has been in process for decades.

But what I found most interesting was in the comments. I copied this one directly from the article. I’ve added line breaks for clarity, but no other editing.

RealityBitesU • 6 hours ago (which would have been approximately 10:30 a.m. CST on 11/19/2012)

How about an EV that rarely requires outlet charging? The market is huge. People Talk About the Electric Car Future; Did you know:

In 1996 in the NESEA American Tour de Sol, the Solectria Sunrise got 375 miles per charge, Ford’s Ecostar got 227 miles per charge, GM’s EV-1 got 125 miles per charge. Nearly 20 years later they’ve actually regressed!?! !

Why? What industry has an interest adverse to the electric car industry and try to stop it?

It would be easy to make an EV (electric vehicle) that is: Coated with Thin-Film PV so it is always trickle charging the batteries and ultracapacitors, anytime any light, direct or indirect, is present, (Aleo Solar thinfilm PV, developed by Dr. Vivian Alberts of Univ. of Johannisberg S.A., works equally well off of indirect light because it operates off of infrared, it pays back for itself in 2-3 years and lasts 17 years (for 15 years of free power) and the active elements are fully recoverable recyclable for re-use.) This EV would also have Generators placed in certain wheels so that according to the generators configuration either or both, the batteries or the ultracapacitors are charged anytime the wheels move, (the free moving wheels containing generators (high efficiency DC permanent magnet dynamo generator) are rolling along with the large already moving mass of the vehicle propelled as a means of transport); (UQM is a leader in high efficient motors and generators); Regenerative Braking (AC magnetic field induced braking low efficiency generator) would also recapture energy and also feed electricity back into the onboard recharging system; The Solectria Sunrise’s power saving system and light weight ideas could be approximated or used; and Power Saving Ultracapacitors i.e., Maxwell Technologies’, would also be employed during acceleration greatly extending the battery charge up to 15 times and of course further extending the range. You could also use the Altairnano Nanosafe batteries which already provide +240 miles per charge in Phoenix Motorcars and Lightening vehicles, charge in 10 minutes, operate in extreme temperatures, do not overheat and last over 15,000 recharges. This EV would rarely need recharging by an outlet because it is almost always trickle recharging through these other means, especially the PV.

Economically: Think of the world-wide market for such a vehicle replacing most existing vehicles and the money and wealth it would put into the hands of consumers and the worldwide economy because they are not paying for gas or much electricity. And, of course, the effect it would have on reducing climate change and air pollution. Think of all the jobs it would create in making all these vehicles. Even conversion companies would start up more jobs.

I wish the President, on our behalf, as we are the shareholders due to the bailout and he is our elected Representative order GM to make a prototype immediately, say within the next 60 days. They could. Or perhaps he could put out a request to several companies or open it up to come up with such a model ASAP.

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How can they be so ignorant?

Rep. Joe Walsh told reporters on October 18, 2012 that there should be no exceptions to a “no abortion” law. “There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing”…” because “with modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance” in which a woman would actually die. [I have reordered his comments for clarity. One source for his comments is here and another here.]

From where are these supposed representatives of the people getting their information? It can’t be from any reputable medical journal.

Here’s a quote from a medical journal, The American Family Physician, which is the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Ectopic pregnancy occurs at a rate of 19.7 cases per 1,000 pregnancies in North America and is a leading cause of maternal mortality in the first trimester. Source

While case-fatality rate has declined from 35.5 maternal deaths per 10,000 ectopic pregnancies in 1970 to only 3.8 maternal deaths per 10,000 ectopic pregnancies in 1989 [same source as above], every treatment involves death of the fetus, whether by chemical or surgical means.

Would the new abortion laws the conservatives wish to pass condemn 19.7 per 1,000 pregnant women to death? That’s essentially 2 of every 100. And those are just the ones from this single cause: ectopic pregnancy. It doesn’t count all the other possible complications that might manifest during a pregnancy.

Abortions should be the decision between a doctor and the patient. No-exception abortion laws are going to cause needless deaths among the childbearing women of our country.

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Whose life is more important?

A woman has died in Ireland because she was refused an abortion for a baby she was already miscarrying.

She went into a hospital on Sunday with terrible back pain. She was 17 weeks pregnant and the doctors told her she was miscarrying her baby. There was no way to stop the miscarriage, they said, and insisted the family would just need to wait a few hours.

Two days later, she was in such terrible agony, the father asked for an abortion to expedite the miscarriage. “‘Sorry, can’t help you. It’s a Catholic country. Can’t help you. It’s a Catholic team.’ So, Savita said that she was not a Catholic. She is Hindu, so why impose the law of the land on her?” her husband said. “They knew they couldn’t help the baby. Why did they not look at the bigger life?”

According to Kitty Holland of the Irish Times, Doctors at Galway University Hospital said that as long as the fetal heartbeat could be felt, the law prevented them from ending the pregnancy. In Ireland, abortion is legal if the mother’s life is at risk, which is different from her health being at risk.

On Wednesday, Savita Halappanavar died of the blood infection septicemia. She was 31 years old.

The hospital, while expressing sympathy, are saying the facts are yet to be established.

Cases like these are why I am terrified of abortion laws becoming more restrictive. It should be a medical decision between a woman and her doctor. This baby was already dead; its heart was just still beating. There was no way to save the baby, but the laws were written so unclearly they left a woman in agonizing pain for 3 days and ultimately let her die.

That’s torture. That’s inhumane. That’s making the birth mother less important than a baby who has already been fated to not be born. In my humble opinion, it’s also medical manslaughter.

Here’s the CNN Article.

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