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SCOTUS Gives Hobby Lobby & Other Employers Right to Kill Me

Back some time in the early 2000s, I was diagnosed with a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It's a pretty common ailment these days, unfortunately. In my case, both my ovaries are covered with little cysts. These bastards secret their own androgens that fuck with the rest of me. For example, I have a chin full of lovely whiskers, have to watch my weight like a sentry at a max security prison, and am prone to depression. The bigger problem is that people with PCOS have increased risks of various types of cancer. According to the National Institute for Health, "The risk of cancer of the endometrium... the inside lining of the uterus, is three times as high for women with PCOS as it is for other women... Women with PCOS also may be at higher risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Small studies have suggested that a lack of ovulation (anovulation), as occurs with PCOS, is linked with a risk of breast cancer that is three to four times that of women without anovulation. In other research, results showed more than a doubling of the risk of ovarian cancer in women with PCOS, but scientists have not confirmed these links in large population studies."

One of the reasons, as cited above, for these risks is a lack of ovulation and menstruation, which was a problem I have because of the cysts and their damn androgens. Fortunately, birth control is available to resolve that. When I was on the Pill, I got my period more regularly than when I was not. My risk of cancer decreased dramatically. Yay!

However, studies also show that it's not really great to be on the Pill indefinitely. When I turned 35, I'd been on the Pill to combat my PCOS for over 10 years. My doctor suggested that I consider switching to an IUD. I wasn't crazy about the idea (*cough*Dalkon Shield*cough*), but eventually it made sense. After a farcical failed attempt to have one inserted in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy (let's just say my cervix does not like shit being pushed through it, and I thought I might understand what an abortion done with knitting needles might feel like), I finally got one in June 2013. My insurance covered it. And it's been great.

The problem is that certain employers, thanks to the Supreme Court, are now considered people with religious beliefs. It seems that these non-human people were upset that they may have to allow their employees to have certain kinds of birth control on their company insurance that offended the company's religion. The Supreme Court today decided that my potentially life-saving contraceptive device violated the non-human person's First Amendment rights. Therefore, in four years when I need a new IUD, I better not work for a non-human company with religious beliefs that conflict with my medical needs, or I could be denied an IUD with insurance.

So people have gone pretty crazy about this, insisting that I can just "skip a few cups of Starbucks and buy contraceptives for $20 from Wal-Mart." (This is an actual quote.) Who cares that the decision is so narrow that Jehovah's Witness non-human people are still forced to cover blood transfusions against their religious beliefs? I'm just being a whiny, feminist bitch who doesn't want to get cancer. (How demanding!) Any woman can just wander into 7-11, according to that loving defender of priests who molest children, Cardinal Dolan, and get one. (Yes, he seriously said that.) Who cares that an IUD is actually a few hundred dollars and then the cost of the insertion?

An IUD can save my life. It's nice that my potential future employer might be forced to cover it if I sit down with them and explain to them why I need it. Just like men are forced to do when they want vasectomies. Wait - they aren't? Oh rats. I'm just being a demanding, whiny bitch again. It's so wrong of me to be upset that these companies that claim their religions value life so much that I can't have a contraceptive that will possibly save my life unless I beg and plead!

The best part is that when I mentioned this on twitter, the delightful NY Post columnist Jon Podhoretz responded, "aaaand scene."

Yep. It sure could be.

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Baggage

I had the pleasure of spending the past five days in the Los Angeles/Disneyland area with my family. However, all of the rest and relaxation was nearly undone this morning when dropping off my sister and nephew for their return flight. The Delta terminal at LAX looked like a scene from the news after the airport has been closed for three days due to volcanic ash or a blizzard. We could not even find the end of the line to drop off baggage in the terminal, so we went outside and waited for a skycap. Literally. A skycap. There was only one dude working. This dude not only printed boarding passes and checked baggage, but he also loaded all of the piles of bags onto various carts that were intermittently picked up by people wearing Delta attire. (I offered to load the bags so he could concentrate on checking people in and printing labels, but said that was a liability.) He also had to answer questions from dumbfounded people who could not find any other Delta employees to answer their questions, which tended to be along the lines of, "What the FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?" His other duty was informing people who waited in line for an hour that he was unable to accept bags if people's flights were less than 45 minutes from the time they arrived at his counter. This was a very unfortunate thing for many people to learn.

It was especially unfortunate to the guy who appeared to not speak English who kept running around in a circle at 7:55 am pointing to his 8:00 am boarding pass. We people in line tried to direct him to the Special Services desk (as we had heard the skycap do many times), and he ran in. A few minutes later, he frantically re-emerged on the sidewalk. He took his bags, which had not been checked in, threw them on top of one of the carts of checked bags waiting for a Delta attendant, and pushed it into the terminal. Yes. The entire cart, with about 20 or 30 bags on it. The skycap was so overwhelmed with his work that he did not notice.

The people in line stared, dumbfounded. I can't decide if it was in shock, a selfish desire to not distract the skycap and lose precious time waiting while he chased the guy down, or both. (In my case, it was both.) No one said a word. The skycap checked Dana's bag and Marcus's car seat, and we dashed in so they could get through security, as their plane boarded in 25 minutes. We never saw the man or the cart of baggage again.

So if you flew Delta this morning from LAX, and your bag is lost, now you know why. Beware that crazed tourist!

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Regret, Or, The Internet Blossomed 10 Years Too Late

One of my many regrets in life that keeps me up many a night is that I didn't find out that my great uncle survived the Holocaust until after my grandfather died. It's one of those extremely stupid regrets, because honestly, there was really nothing that I could have done differently. I think that's why it vexes me so. My grandfather died in 1995. The internet sort of existed back then, but not in the extensive way that it enables every facet of my research today. I had an email account through college that was run on the pine system. I knew that AOL and prodigy enabled people to chat. This was very exciting. It was also pretty much it.

At the end of 2004, when there was much more internet to the internet, it occurred to me to email Yad Vashem to look into their database and see if they could find any of my grandfather's relatives with the bare information I had. Nowadays, the database is fully searchable online. But in those days, I waited for a response. When they found a record on my great grandmother and cousin, who perished, filed by my grandfather's brother-in-law, who did not perish as I had thought he had, I was blown away.

I was also immediately angry with myself. Why had I not thought, as a 13 year old or 14 year old or 15 year old (etc), to write to this Holocaust museum? Clearly paper, pens, envelopes, and stamps existed at the time. I could have learned, while my grandpa was alive, that he had a surviving relative.

Of course, without the internet, I also could not have found this man (or rather, his family, since he passed away in the 1980s - one thing I am not angry at myself for, since clearly I was not going to write Yad Vashem when I was four years old). Yad Vashem, for reasons that I cannot understand at all, does not really collect people's addresses to reunite family. So I had to google (or netscape - whatever) the guy's last name. Fortunately, it was very unusual, and I found his great niece very quickly.

Clearly, my dream to reunite my grandfather with some magical surviving relative could not have happened before he died because the internet was the thing that stood between me and this goal. The internet was ten years too late. I know I should not regret this, and it is useless to do so, but I do anyway.

As I found out in 2012, his brother-in-law was not just his brother-in-law. He has also some sort of distant (or maybe not so distant - that is still a mystery) cousin. I never had a chance to reunite them, but his nieces are also cousins. Instead of being alone, he could have spoken to these women and felt the warmth of blood relatives again.

The other reason I should not regret this is that I don't know what would have happened if I found his distant cousins and told him. Would he have handled the news well, rejoicing? Or at that late stage in life, would I have only caused him more pain? Obviously I would not want the latter. Sometimes things happen for a reason, and maybe I was thwarted in my dream of finding a relative because in the end it would have hurt him more.

Sometimes I wonder if he knew that his brother-in-law was out there. My dad said that he had heard a rumor about him, and asked some friends who were traveling to Paris to find out what happened to him. (The brother-in-law had gone to Paris after the war, then to Israel, though the rumor ended in Paris.) Supposedly the friends didn't find him or his nephew, which is hard to believe because I'm pretty sure that phone books existed in the 1960s, and there was probably only one person with that last name. So either the friends were assholes and never even bothered to look, or they found the nephew and for some reason, my grandfather let the connection go.

The truth is, I don't understand why my grandfather never wrote to Yad Vashem. Or maybe he did, too soon, sort of like how the internet didn't come for me in time. His brother-in-law filed the paperwork in 1953. If my grandfather inquired in 1951, say, they might have said, "Sorry, no Rajsmans on file," and maybe that was that.

I also don't understand why he never filed pages of testimony on his sisters. Was it because he never really knew what happened to them, and didn't want to create a false record? Or could he not confront the fact that they were gone, and in doing so, let them be lost forever. If he had filed some paperwork, perhaps his brother-in-law could have found him.

When my grandfather was gone, so was his past. Perhaps my silly regret, since I could not control the circumstances that led to the late discoveries, is a different regret, not one that involves him. Perhaps what I really regret is that I will never have the answers as to who they were.

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