Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Little Treasure I Found

Yesterday, I went to a used bookstore where I found the following little treasure. I thought it was such an unusual and beautiful little book that I scanned the entire thing:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Teens and Sex

"Study Finds 1 in 4 US Teens Has an STD

By LINDSEY TANNER | AP Medical Writer"

Now THAT is a disturbing statistic, if it is accurate. What is even more disturbing is the establishment's so-called solution to the problem. Of course, you guessed it - more education programs. The teens just aren't being educated enough. Supposedly, sex is still a taboo subject. I kid you not.

"At least one in four teenage American girls has a sexually transmitted disease, suggests a first-of-its-kind federal study that startled some adolescent-health experts.
Some doctors said the numbers might be a reflection of both abstinence-only sex education and teens' own sense of invulnerabilty. Because some sexually transmitted infections can cause infertility and cancer, U.S. health officials called for better screening, vaccination and prevention.

Only about half of the girls in the study acknowledged having sex. Some teens define sex as only intercourse, yet other types of intimate behavior including oral sex can spread some diseases.

Among those who admitted having sex, the rate was even more disturbing -- 40 percent had an STD.

'This is pretty shocking,' said Dr. Elizabeth Alderman, an adolescent medicine specialist at Montefiore Medical Center's Children's Hospital in New York.

'To talk about abstinence is not a bad thing,' but teen girls -- and boys too -- need to be informed about how to protect themselves if they do have sex, Alderman said.
'Those numbers are certainly alarming,' said sex education expert Nora Gelperin, who works with a teen-written Web site called She said they reflect 'the sad state of sex education in our country...'"

..."'Sexuality is still a very taboo subject in our society,' she said. 'Teens tell us that they can't make decisions in the dark and that adults aren't properly preparing them to make responsible decisions.'

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the study shows that 'the national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure, and teenage girls are paying the real price.'"

I don't know what teenagers she is talking to, but the ones that I have known and spoken to for the past 10 years know more about sex than I do. The problem, in my opinion, is not that they don't know enough - it's that they are very immature and think of the whole subject through TV eyes. Whatever drivel is on TV that depicts physically attractive young people becoming emotionally involved and, as an immediate result, having sex - that is what they base their truth upon. The music they listen to, the movies and TV they watch - and the commercials that tell them what they should want and how to dress, act and behave; and their peer group. This is the arena from which teens get their information.

They also think of their own friends and peers as their family, often more so than their own actual family. Since they feel this way, they don't associate having to use "protection" with those they trust and love. I also think they romanticize sex and/or love. Who wants to stop in the heat of passion and put on a condom, when:
a. one is in love, and,
b. one doesn't want to spoil the moment or the sensation

Abstinence today just isn't an option to the majority of teens. You know the old axiom - "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink"; well, you can teach the teenager about sex until hell freezes over, but you can't make him take it seriously or act upon the information.

Last, but not least, the condom and other methods of contraception are no true failsafe against venereal diseases. The condom is such a poor protection, and yet it is touted as the veritable wall of safety between the sex organs and possible disease. If it doesn't prevent pregnancy very well, what makes people think it protects against STD's?

And of course, there are other types of sex that don't involve coitus. Those sexual activities are fraught with STD possibilities, and condoms can't even be part of the equation.

Please note who is to blame. According to the teens, it's their parent's and other authority figures' fault for not preparing them to make good decisions. At least we can all breath easy - it's not the teen's fault. It's never their fault. According to Planned Parenthood and others, it's the fault of those who teach abstinence (read "Christians" here). Correct me if I'm wrong, but abstinence hasn't been a major player in sex education for many years. It's all about condoms, "responsible" sex, using "protection" and getting tested periodically (which prevents nothing and is more like barring the gate after the horses escape).

Reading further, one finds out that the 4 diseases that were most prevalent were Genital Herpes, Chlamydia, Human Papilloma Virus and Trichomoniasis. AIDS isn't even mentioned, but I bet that is on the rise, also.

In any case, this is not shocking news, but it is very saddening. Just 60 years ago, sex before marriage was Just Not Done - and if it was, marriage ensued quickly. My, how things have changed.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Last Quote - I Promise

This is my all time favorite. I've used this and the theory behind it a LOT:

"I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."

Of course, that's Scarlet O'Hara after Rhett tells her he doesn't give a damn. I have called this the Scarlet O'Hara method of dealing with things - and I use it often. Instead of worrying about something in the future, or something I can't do anything about right now, anyway - I use her approach - I'll worry about it tomorrow.

I have to admit - it works like a charm.

More Quotes

So now I'm totally cheating. I've used the internet, and here are some more of my all time favorites:

"I'll make him an offer he can't refuse." - Godfather
"Look, Dave, I can see you're really upset about this." - Hal, 2001: A Space Odyssey
"Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" Dorothy - Wizqard of Oz
"I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." - Blanche - Streetcar Named Desire
"Stellllaaaaaa" - Stanley - Streetcar Named Desire
"Heeere's Johnny" - Jack Nicholson, The Shining
"May the Force Be With You" - obviously, Starwars
"ET phone home" - ET, of course

My brain is still working - I may come up with more....

Fun Monday - Give Me Five

I was reading this blog, and saw the Fun Monday meme, so here goes:

1. "People come and go so QUICKLY here..." - Dorothy (Judy Garland) in Wizard of Oz. She has just had a visit from the Good Witch Glinda who leaves in a bubble. I often say this - and have said it for many years - at places I have worked, where the turnover was high.

2. "Frankly, Scarlet, I don't give a damn." - Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) in Gone With the Wind. Last scene in movie, where he's had enough of Scarlet's crush on Ashley Wilkes, and leaves her for good. Or not. I have used this when in an argument with my daughter - and said it word for word. Of course, she looked at me like I was nuts until she got older and understood the reference, at which point she only would roll her eyes.

3. "Are you entertained?" - General Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) in "Gladiator". This is screamed a few times in succession at the audience from the floor of a huge arena after Maximus has defeated all that they have thrown at him.
I use this when I've done something stupid and everyone laughs - I say it to be funny, but I'm not sure most people get the reference on this one.

4. "I'll be back" - the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Everyone knows this one - and it is so usable. I say it to my cockatoo before I leave the room where his cage is - and he repeats it back to me all the time. I say it at work, when I leave the room, to let my coworkers know I'll be returning shortly. Of course, I use the accent, too.

5. "Do I feel lucky?" - Dirty Harry - Clint Eastwood. This is only part of the whole quote, but it's the part I use - when I'm doing anything that might have an "iffy" outcome.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Battle of the Morning Glory

Today was going to be a restful Sunday until I started reading some gardening blogs. These are blogs of people who live and garden in Florida, some even as far south as myself, or farther. People like Danielle's Garden Blog, Hoe and Shovel, Wicked Gardener, Dragonfly Gardener, Gardening in Central Florida, and last but not least, Florida Ecomania. A couple of the above blogs are Central Florida or farther north, but one is south of me in Miami. I got as far as Dragonfly Garden this morning in my reading, before I could resist my conscience no longer.

The Saga Begins
I have a Morning Glory vine from a Stephen King horror story. Years ago, when I first moved into this house, there was one corner of the yard that had a pretty deep green leaved and purple flowered vine. Since purple and green are my favorite colors together, it was serendipity. I thought. I thought wrong. That vine would not die. The neighbors who shared the other side of the vine knew better than I did and killed the stuff on their side with Round Up. I was upset at the time, but now I understand. What astounds me is that people who live north of Florida actually plant Morning Glory ON PURPOSE from seeds every year. They get a season called winter, which effectively kills off the vine every year so it has to be replanted. We don't get freezes down here, so Morning Glory becomes riotous, insanely voracious in it's ability to cover everything and smother it - it's the Kudzu of my backyard. Oh - by the way - my husband read the other day that Kudzu is growing in the Everglades - now THAT is a serious, villainous vine - I hope they can eradicate it - but, I digress.

The years passed and we thought the Morning Glory was dead, since the neighbors had killed the root system, which happened to be on their side. I planted Bougainvilleas, Clerodendrum (which get carried away themselves, but that's another story), Cape Honeysuckle (someone told me I'd get hummingbirds if I planted this - but I've not seen one yet...but that, too, is another story), Confederate Jasmine, Mexican Heather, Beautyberry and wild Lantana transplanted from the Everglades. I also planted native bushes like Firebush and somthing else whose name I can't recall.

Then, one day I noticed a few purple flowers and deep green leaves along the left back yard fence. Just a few. They looked pretty, so I left them. I'm a softy about anything living - usually. I can't stand to hurt living things, including bushes and trees - it's dumb and ignorant, since pruning helps trees and bushes. Anyway - I left the Morning Glory alone. Then, last spring we had cat birds in our yard. Cat birds are notorious for loving heavy brush cover. Since the Morning Glory had formed a nice covering over some bushless areas in the back yard and provided cover for the cat birds, we left it alone. Big mistake.

Now it's a year later, and the Morning Glory has taken over the back yard. Runners could be seen through the grass, it covered the Clerodendrum way too high up to pull down. It covered our fence in the back yard and was beginning to smother the Bougainvillea.

I looked at it in extreme dismay. My husband joked about setting fire to the back yard and then paving it. We're both in our 50's, out of shape, overweight, and bookworm-internet nuts. I'm more of an outdoor nut than he is, and I enjoy working in the yard, but we were facing a monumental task this time.

I girded my loins, figuratively speaking, gave myself a pep talk, determined to wipe out the Morning Glory one step at a time. I started on the left side fence in the back yard where it was the thickest and where it was smothering my Bougainvilleas. I ripped and pulled, I trimmed the Bougainvillea. I literally, step by step, obliterated all signs of the vine and it's roots.

Of course, my back was killing me for days - and each time I've gone out there for another round of Morning Glory War, I think calling 911 might be a good idea.

Well, now I've got documentary evidence of my battle. I decided today to conquer the left side of the house where the fence passes between my neighbor's house and my house. The houses are about 8-12 feet apart, with the fence passing in the approximate middle of this. Weeds had sprung up on the side of the house, since it is such a narrow space and brutally hot in the summer, I rarely try to plant anything there. My husband, ever security conscious, thought it might be a good idea to leave the area overgrown to discourage would-be burglars from trying to climb into our windows from that side. Well, I decided it had to be cleaned up. I could see the Morning Glory juggernaut had reached the back of one of my favorite bushes that line the front of the house. The Morning Glory was moving up - and I had to stop it. Below is a before picture of the side of the house at about 11:00AM this afternoon.

As usual, click on the picture for a bigger, more detailed view.

Now for the after picture - taken about 3:00PM. My husband joked that we should have taken a before and after picture of me, too - but I'll save that for another time.

Pretty good, huh? Does anyone out there have any suggestions for something to plant on that side? It gets brutal sun in summer for a number of hours.

Now that the left side of the backyard fence is completely done and also the left half of the fence along the back of the yard, I'm ready to start on the right side, which isn't as bad. I also need to weed along the back of the house itself, and along the edge of the outside of the back porch.

Every week, I inspect the areas I've already de-Morning Glory'd to make sure no little shoots are coming up - I've caught two tiny ones and promptly ripped those suckers right up.

That's the saga so far - now for some Biofreeze and a heating pad.