Clicking Your Way to a Better World

I must admit that I spend entirely too much time on the internet. You do, too. Don’t believe me? What are you doing right now? Tiptoeing through the tulips? I think not.

(Not that I’m not happy to see you. I’d miss you if you weren’t here. I really would.)

Sometimes I think I really should make a permanent, all-encompassing change in my life and reduce my screen time to, say, an hour a day. But gimme a break. I’m as likely to do that as I am to give up pizza, and I have the thighs to prove it.

I do try to do the next best thing, though. There are quite a few sites out there that allow you to have a positive impact on the world simply by clicking a button. That’s amazing. I can save the world while staying comfortably potatoed on my couch. (Yup. Potato is now a verb. Because I say so.)

What follows are some of my favorite “positive click” sites. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

  • Ecosia. This is a search engine, similar to Google, with an important difference. For every 45 searches you do on Ecosia, they will plant a tree. They’ve planted more than 20 million trees so far. That makes me incredibly happy. So Ecosia is now my default search engine.

  • Free Rice. This is a fun site. You can feed the world while learning things. Basically, you choose a topic, such as English Vocabulary, or World Landmarks, or Language Learning, or SAT Test Preparation, or Human Anatomy, and you’ll then be asked a series of questions. For every question you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice to the World Food Program. 10 grains of rice doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up quickly. So learn stuff and feed people. It’s the ultimate win/win situation!

  • The GreaterGood. I cannot say enough about this site. Everything you do there will have a positive impact. They have various categories, such as Hunger, Breast Cancer, Animals, and Veterans, and if you go to those sections of the site once a day and click, you will be helping these causes, and it won’t cost you a penny. But beware. They also have a store, and it has the coolest clothes and shoes and jewelry that you have ever seen in your life. And when you buy an item, more donations kick in. For example, I bought an awesome jacket, and because of that, they donated 50 bowls of dogfood to an animal shelter. I think about that every time I wear that jacket, and it makes me feel even warmer.

There are all kinds of websites out there that have positive side effects. You just have to look. If you can suggest any other sites of this type, by all means, include them in the comments section, below! And keep on clicking!

make a difference

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Raped by the System

Ladies, you are twice as likely to be raped than you are to develop breast cancer, and yet less than 20 percent of the rape kits in America have ever actually been processed. 97 percent of all rapists will walk free. Just let those statistics sink in for a minute.

It’s estimated that only 16 percent of all rapes actually get reported, and here are some of the reasons why.

  • 82 percent of rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. If she cannot be assured that the rapist will be brought to justice, why would the victim risk reprisal?
  • If, by some miracle, you find the courage to report your rape, and if, by some miracle, there’s actually a trial, you then have to go through the torture of emotionally reliving the event, this time with witnesses, and in addition you get the pleasure of hearing the defense attorney imply that you wanted this, you brought it on yourself, and you’re a whore.
  • 60 percent of women who report being raped are under 18 years old. 29 percent were less than 11 years old. Would you have had the courage to negotiate your way through a hostile legal system at age 11?
  • Since there are 400,000 untested rape kits gathering dust in evidence lockers around the country, and since the statute of limitations for rape vary from state to state, odds are high that the clock will run out on your crime long before the perpetrator is identified.

Happy New Year, indeed.

I have a dear friend who sometimes works as a security guard in our local victims services unit, and he says the human pain that walks through those doors on a daily basis is unbearable. That unit is so underfunded the staff often has to provide its own office supplies. Something has to change. The true crime is that crimes against women aren’t taken more seriously.

I strongly encourage you to visit the site and lend your support to the cause of getting these rape kits tested. There is simply no excuse for allowing this miscarriage of justice to continue.


Strange Natural Encounters

Yesterday I saw something that nearly made me drive off the road. A rainbow that was shaped like a backward letter N instead of being in an arch. A really bad picture of it is below. I wish it came out sharper. The only thing that I can think of is that it was a double rainbow plus a reflection off the calm, flat, glass-like river.

At that same time, one of my coworkers on another bridge saw a rainbow that started off as an arch, but then took a sharp right angle and ran parallel to the river. Unfortunately he didn’t have a camera.

That got me thinking about how weird nature can be sometimes.

I know a man who used to be a surveyor. One day he was deep in the woods surveying a property line when he came across a hive of very aggressive bees right where he had to stand. So he got some insect repellant and killed them all.

Two days later he was driving down the road with his window open and was unfortunately not wearing a seatbelt. Suddenly a bee flew in the window and stung him on the cheek. This caused him to swerve off the road and into a telephone pole. He flew through the windshield and broke his arm. He considers himself very lucky to be alive, and will now kill nothing, not even a cockroach.

Once I was using an electric weed whacker in the back yard when I happened to look over at the bar-b-cue grill. There was a bird hanging upside down from it. I turned off the weed whacker and slowly approached the bird, which seemed to be in a trance. Suddenly it shook itself and flew away. I can only surmise that it had been mesmerized by the hum of the engine.

A few years ago I was driving a van through Yellowstone Park and stopped at an intersection. When I looked to the left I was eye to eye with a buffalo. I could have reached out my open window and touched it. Having just come from a ranger station where I’d watched a video of people being tossed through the air by this very same creature, I remember thinking, “Please don’t hurt me.” He kept eye contact with me for what seemed like several lifetimes, and then he sauntered away.

One of my cousins had his car destroyed by a moose during mating season. Fortunately he wasn’t in it at the time.

When I lived in Mexico, I went into my bedroom one day and closed the door behind me. When I turned around, there was a tarantula on the back side of the door. I climbed out the bedroom window and went into town, but none of my friends would help me deal with this spider. Sucking up my courage, I went back home. I was creeping down the hall, wondering what to do, but knowing I had to do something, when around the corner came the spider. I don’t know which of us was more surprised. I just know that I jumped in sheer terror just as it lunged, and, well, suffice it to say that tarantulas make a weird splashing sound when they’re crushed that you’ll never forget.

In that same house in Mexico I was lying in the sun in the patio floor one day, and I looked over at the wall. It was rippling. I assumed it was an illusion from the heat, but soon realized that it was thousands of ants pouring down the wall. They came down the wall, crossed the patio, courteously parting to avoid me, then went up the other wall and disappeared. They were late for a very important date, apparently.

One day I was sitting on a couch with the boyfriend I had at the time, and we were talking about scorpions. I don’t think I realized just how much he was creeped out by that conversation until I saw a moth land in his hair. I said, “Don’t move,” and started to reach for the moth, and just as I did that he freaked out and swung his head and broke my nose. That was darned inconvenient as we were on holiday in a foreign country, and I wound up walking through museums with a swollen face, looking like I’d gone a couple rounds with Muhammad Ali.

I went camping once at a friend’s farm, and I woke up thinking for a moment that it was still pitch black outside, but then I discovered that was because I was looking straight up the nostrils of her horse, and it was actually quite light out. That was disconcerting.

There used to be an ape at a zoo in Central Florida that liked to spit at people, and had a deadly aim. I know this from personal experience.

Walking down the bridge after work one morning, there was a crow sitting on a lamp post and squawking at me. So I said to him, “Oh, shut up,” and he dive bombed me, hitting me in the head before flying over and sitting on the roof of my car. How he could have known which car was mine is beyond me. Freaky coincidence. I tried not to think of Alfred Hitchcock.

I went swimming with Dolphins at a place in South Florida, and the owner was telling us that one time all the dolphins surrounded a woman and kept echolocating her. When she asked him why they singled her out, he said, “I have no idea, but you may want to go get a check up.” She did. Turns out she had breast cancer.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

– Hamlet (1.5.166-7), Hamlet to Horatio


Breasts. Do I have your Attention?

Guys, I’ve no doubt that your search engines directed you here and you had high hopes, but move along. There’s nothing to see. This is going to be a frank and unsexual discussion about living with the human mammary gland.

Ladies, we all know that the day to day possession of breasts is not particularly glamorous. They’re there. They make your seatbelt choke your neck. They are often elbowed in elevators. They cause you to lose eye contact with tactless men. And there’s a reason that models tend to have flat chests. Most clothes just do not look good with too much topography.

And I have a theory that the mammogram was invented by a man to torture women. This very necessary test is an unpleasant inconvenience at best, and excruciatingly painful at worst. But it has to be done, because if you think mammograms are bad, try breast cancer some time.

And if you are like me and are overly well endowed, you are the envy of all your flat-chested female friends. I want to shake them. Do you really envy back, neck and shoulder pain, sagging in your later years, having to special order your bras and pay $50.00 for each one? Do you really wish you were constantly sexualized and stared at even on days when you’re not in the mood for it? If I could yank these things off and give them to you, I gladly would.

And before you get breast enhancements, please, please, PLEASE do your homework. Read up on all the horrific health implications, dangers, and complaints. Anyone who tries to tell you this is not a major, life changing surgery is delusional. And any man who tells you he will prefer you with these masses of foreign material in your chest clearly doesn’t love you for who you are, and no amount of silicone is going to change that.

This is one occasion when I’m not including a photo with my blog entry, because all those people whose search engines directed them here for all the wrong reasons do not deserve a cookie.

I am Officially Doomed

After 12 years of working crazy shifts here on the drawbridge, often two or three different shifts in the space of a week, I’m now discovering that there is an official name for my constant state of mental fog, my messed up immune system, and my apparent inability to lose weight despite all efforts. It’s called Shift Work Sleep Disorder. Classified as Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder in the DSM-IV, I can now say that what’s going on with me can be taken seriously, for all the good that does me.

Symptoms of this disorder include:

  • Lack of sleep. (Well, duh…)
  • Increased stress.
  • Increased risk of infections, including colds and flu.
  • Increased risk of breast and prostate cancer.
  • Higher cholesterol.
  • Increased risk of heart attack.
  • Increased risk of obesity.
  • Insomnia.
  • Headaches.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Reduced attention span.
  • Gastrointestinal and digestive problems.
  • Decreased production of Melatonin, causing decreased immunity, and increased production of tumors.

Some other fun facts about shift work are:

  • We are twice as likely to have a work related accident.
  • Sick leave is reported in 63 percent of shift workers as opposed to 34 percent of day workers.
  • 30 percent of us are single, compared to 20 percent of day workers.

All this due to a disruption in our circadian rhythms. I’d love to say “Now I don’t feel so bad,” but actually I feel just as bad. Now I just have a name for it.

There are some things you can do about it, but I’m just too tired to write more. So just check out the sources for this blog entry:


The Destruction of Women

Today I came across this picture on Facebook.


A friend of mine rightly commented, “And this was before Photoshop.” Women used to aspire to have wasp waists. To heck with breathing, we wanted to be desirable! These contraptions caused deformities in ribs and internal organs, weak muscles, and respiratory problems. It also increased the rate of miscarriages and death in childbirth. How many women had to faint before this became less fashionable?

This got me thinking of other ways we women have allowed ourselves to be altered, to our detriment, all in the name of “beauty” or cultural norms. Foot binding springs to mind.

Foot Binding

We’d like to think this particular form of mutilation was isolated, but it’s estimated that one billion Chinese women were put through this over a period of 1000 years. Yes, you read that correctly. People thought this was a good idea for 1000 years. One’s toes were bent into the soles of the feet until they broke, and then the arch was broken. Needless to say, this caused infections, especially if the nails weren’t clipped short enough and they grew into the soles. The solution for that would be to remove the toenails altogether. Sometimes the toes would drop off completely, but that, apparently, was seen as a good thing because then you could bind the feet even more tightly. And then you had the continual breaking of other bones because it’s impossible to balance on bound feet, and falls were quite common. Does reading this make you uncomfortable? Well, it sure beats the lifetime of agonizing pain that these women suffered.

The two horrendous body mutilations mentioned above are, fortunately, a thing of the past. I wish I could say that this was the end of this blog entry, and there is nothing new to report. But no.

In some Asian and African cultures, women wear neck rings to make their necks seem longer. Actually, their necks aren’t elongated. What a relief, right? No, what happens is their shoulder blades become deformed, giving the illusion of a long neck. Their collar bones and rib cages also get pushed down. This is done so they will appear more attractive.


Even more horrific, in my opinion, is female genital mutilation, which, according to the world health organization, is still practiced in 28 countries throughout the world.


About 120 million women have been subjected to this abuse. I won’t fully describe the procedure in all its grizzly variations. You can look it up yourself if you want to lose your appetite, but I will say that it is known to cause fatal hemorrhaging, cysts, recurring infections, a lifetime of pain, incontinence, fistulae, and problems during intercourse and childbirth.

Ah, but we western cultures don’t have to worry about these things, right? We honor our women! We would never cause them harm in the name of beauty, right? We’d never mutilate them, right? Well? Right?


Augmented breasts are supposed to make you more attractive and more successful. What they don’t tell you is these implants can make the breasts sore to the touch or numb and can decrease your sexual response. They also make it harder to detect breast cancer. Ruptures of the implants can cause pain and deformity. And your immune system can reject the implant and build a wall around it, causing pain, distortion and rupture.

And then there’s high heels.

high heels fallon 6 inch black patent stilletto

According to an article in the Washington Post, wearing heels places pressure on the inside of the knee, a common location for arthritis in women. It also causes your hips and spine to go out of alignment. It increases pressure on the forefoot, and shortens the length of the calf muscles. It can cause numbness in the toes, bunions, hammer toes, and ankle injuries. But hey! It’s attractive! That’s all that matters!

Since I’ve started viewing heels in this context, I’ve stopped wearing them entirely, and when I see others wearing them, I shudder.

What frustrates me most about all these horrors I’ve mentioned above is that we women are almost always complicit in these acts. If we don’t choose it ourselves, our mothers allow it or encourage it. So why are we so surprised when this happens?


Eating disorders are more prevalent in women than men for a reason, and before we get all culturally superior, they are much more prevalent in Western cultures. We are raised to think that it’s important to be beautiful, but sadly we are often not warned that many standards of beauty are sick and twisted.

Eating disorders cause a whole host of side effects, including acne, constipation, osteoporosis, scurvy, diarrhea, electrolyte imbalance, cardiac arrest, kidney failure, tooth loss, brain atrophy, suicide and death.

Ladies, ladies, what are we doing to ourselves? I weep for my gender. And I’m also very, very pissed off.