Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Book Review: Phage -- Do you know what's in the air you breathe or the food you eat?

Go ahead & check it out!
How safe is our food supply? How hard would it be for someone with nefarious intent to infiltrate that food supply at any point along the way?

PHAGE is a bio thriller that speculates on these questions. The answers are not encouraging. Mark Tamplin is an author-scientist whose specialities are microbiology and immunology, and whose vitae include work with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the UN Food and Agriculture Org. He scares up a nifty little tale about how easy it would be for a bio terrorist to use the technology of gene manipulation to contaminate the nation's food supply in a catastrophic way. 

Far-fetched? I wouldn't say so. As I am writing this review, on May 5, 2016, the FBI reports that it has in custody a man who entered several grocery stores in Ann Arbor, Michigan to spray mouse poison on produce and good bars. That was a localized incident. This past year, national restaurant chain Chipotle has suffered outbreaks of illness caused by e-coli whose origin is still being investigated. Cruise ship populations regularly break out in ship wide mini-epidemics caused by the noro virus. So far, these incidents seem random and easily controlled. But what if a dedicated bioterrorist put his or her mind to the effort?  Could we escape so easily?

Tamplin presents a plausible scenario with enough detail about how to create and disseminate a bio weapon to keep the reader fascinated. 

The opening chapters take us into the guts (sic) of a factory farm in the small town of Wilmer, Alabama. Here, pigs are born, housed, raised, slaughtered and processed in close confinement, all in the service of the most intensive production possible of pork products. This is contemporary agribusiness, the type of animal farming most prevalent in developed countries like the United States. We follow one worker as she goes through a typical day on the job, not knowing that as she sprays water to clean the areas where the pigs are confined, she breathes in a microscopic droplet of water containing a genetically mutated E. coli bacteria that had been purposely merged with DNA from a highly toxic pathogen and left to reproduce. I might not even have the terms right. It’s a fascinating but complex process Tamplin describes. But it only took me a little googling of the CDC to find out that he is right on the money when he writes about the ease with which a pathogen can be introduced to a human population through normal factory farming conditions.


The mutation jumps the factory inside its human host. A small microbial outbreak in Wilmer brings the attention of the CDC, the USDA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the CIA.  We meet Dr. Sam Townsend, academic and professional consultant/troubleshooter of microbial outbreaks, and follow him as he puts together an investigative team from his young graduate assistants. We watch our governmental and scientific bureaucracy in action as key players jockey to advance agendas and politics while Sam tries to get to the truth of the situation. Is this a random event, or is a more nefarious scheme at work?

I am an inveterate reader, and the digital publishing revolution has provided such a profusion of fiction that it would take several lifetimes to read all the novels a real book addict might want to read. This is a blessing and a curse. Part of the curse involves the deterioration of grammar and writing skills among published authors, as well as the lack of real editing from even the biggest publishing companies. I am happy to report that Phage does not suffer from these difficulties. Tamplin knows his way around the English language. The book is tightly constructed, well-written, and bears the marks of professional editing.
Buy it with confidence and have yourself a thrill. And a chill.  


Oh, and another thing I like about this book that is purely personal?  I know and love the locales in which the action takes place!

1) My permanent home is in Newark, Delaware, and I worked for 27 years at the University of Delaware where a main character in the book studied. The Philadelphia area, where I grew up, is the site of a lot of the action. 

2) I have a small second home in Selma, Alabama, near my daughter. The book opens in the rural Alabama area and stays there for its entire first section.

3) My husband and I, now retired, cruise the Caribbean as often as we can, several times each year. The book sends its protagonist to the the Bahamas and the warm islands of the Caribbean!


And I didn't even know any of this going into the book blind. What serendipity!

Monday, May 09, 2016

Book Review: In the Shadow of the Steel Cross: The Massacre of Fr. Sebastién Râle and the Indian Chiefs


 In the Shadow of the Steel Cross

IN THE SHADOW OF THE STEEL CROSS: THE MASSACRE OF FATHER SEBASTIAN RÂLE, S. J., AND THE INDIAN CHIEFS

By Louise Ketchum Hunt

Reviewed by Onalee McGraw

In this inspiring historic narrative, Louise Ketchum Hunt captures the story of Father Sebastién Râle. Father Râle and the Indian chiefs who tried to protect him were martyred on August 23, 1724 at the site of Louise Ketchum Hunt’s Norridgewock ancestors. In the day there was a raging conflict between England and France for control of the North American lands that belonged to the indigenous Native American tribes. The English put a price on Father Râle’s head because he kept the Native Americans loyal to the French who were headquartered in Quebec. Father Râle was determined to stand by his people, the Wabanackis tribe of what is now the state of Maine.

Louise spent the first twenty-one years of her life growing up in the parish of St. Anne’s Catholic Church on the Penobscot Indian Reservation located at Old Town Maine She learned from her grandmother abut Father Râle and the Norridgewock massacre as the story was passed down through her family’s oral tradition. 

Louise highlights what she remembers her grandmother telling her:

“Our ancestors, a young girl and her brother, escaped the massacre. They made their way to a mission village near Quebec, Canada. Father Râle was not buried at Norridgewock.” Louise recalls her grandmother saying that Father Râle’s body was scalped and desecrated.  Her grandmother said, “The people took Father Râle and buried him in a faraway place where none would ever find him.”

What emerges from this narrative of heroic fidelity to Christ and his Church is a message for our own time.  We are reminded that in days of darkness and of light, this world is not our home. Father Râle gave his life to serve a people, the Algonquin and Wabanackis tribes of the northeastern American continent who were completely dependent in their surroundings on the whims of nature. Father taught them and learned for himself the mystery and beauty of spirituality and nature. He stayed with his people for thirty years, living among them as friend, fellow laborer, teacher, spiritual leader, and giver of the sacraments.


Louise Ketchum Hunt makes the story come alive with her interesting and believable characterizations in this true story. In particular, her account of two young people who find each other while in the grip of the deadly conflict between the English and the French is a warm hearted diversion that blends well with the main story. The author has woven her narrative into a seamless tale of great heroism and sacrifice. 

Buy this book: http://amordeus.com/giftShopProductDetails.aspx?itemID=519

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Book reviews: Strange Worlds + The Devil's Auction


STRANGE WORLDS by Paul Clayton is a fine collection of SF/fantasy stories. Damn fine!

When you load up your Kindle with freebies from unknown authors, you get a mixed bag. You wind up reading a lot of enjoyable but shallow page-turners whose authors you forget immediately. But every now and then, you experience the thrill of discovery. A real writer!

Paul Clayton is that thrill, a writer with chops and depth. In STRANGE WORLDS he spins yarns of future worlds just a heartbeat away from our own. Funny yarns. Thoughtful yarns. Disturbing ones. In this eclectic collection you will find cautionary tales of a future sprung organically from our own technologically rich, spiritually impoverished 21st century.

The cover art for STRANGE WORLDS mimics a classic SF magazine from the 1950. These stories are popular, not esoteric. Like the best classic SF, they speculate about science and culture. This is not an exercise in nostalgia. Let me run through them. The stories vary in length, in tone, in person. There is something for everyone , adding up to a very satisfying experience that you will want to repeat. These stories bear rereading.

"Triumph" is a classic monster tale, but it gets the book off to a slow start. An amorphous Thing has trapped a small town's population in the high school gym and is siphoning off their life's blood. A Catholic schoolgirl and an observant Jewish scientist are the only townspeople left free. What will it take for them to fight It?

"Dog Man" - In life, you've got your dog people and your cat people. Vietnam vet Steven "Cap" Crowley is a dog man. There's just something devious about cats... A nifty creeper folded into the story of a good man trying to be his brother's keeper in one little corner of the world.

"The Thing in the Box" - The UPS man delivers a package to six year old Danny's house. An unforgettable slice of family life that takes place the day after tomorrow. I can't get this one out of my mind.

Day, or Two, of The Dead - a wry take on the zombie tale.

About Our Cats - short and pithy; reminiscent of those Twilight Zone episodes wherein the universe metes out karmic justice.

Remembering Mandy - What is it like to be old and wrinkled in a world where no one ages, with a coveted memory trove from a more leisurely time?

Jimmy Jon and the Avengers - a children's zombie tale.

A Working Man - In a world of casual terrorism and easy sex, what's a girl gotta do to find a boyfriend she can tolerate?

Amything - Cybernetically Assisted Persons (CAPS) represent a technological alternative to the deterioration and death of the physical body. But at what cost? One couple in love find out. A disturbing story about choice and relationship.

The Great Leap Forward - A time travel story about jealousy and gender in the academic world.

The Last Raft - Apocalypse now. Who is the enemy when most of the world is gone?

Christland - Come visit Christland, entertainment park of the future! See the legends and rituals of Christ worshippers!Thrill to the weird rites of now-defunct Christianity reenacted in all their primitive splendor!

Gentle One - a poignant story of function and gender in a tribal world. This one reminded me of a futuristic one-act play from my own Catholic schoolgirl days, when our all-girls school had to choose plays with mostly female roles.

2038: San Francisco Sojourn; The Wrath of God - What if God WASN'T one of us? But something a little more Old Testament-y? Broad and goofy satire of our PC society.


The Devil's Auction by Robert Weinberg

The Devil's Auction is a fast-moving horror tale of the occult arts and the modern sorcerers and sorceresses who use them. It will appeal especially to horror fans who like true historical lore mixed in with contemporary greed and lust. Published in 1988, it was the first novel of author and editor Robert Weinberg, first brought to my attention when he edited what is arguably the best collection of vampire tales ever, Rivals of Dracula. I read The Devil's Auction awhile back and meant to review it, but never got to it. I re-read it recently, enjoyed it all over again, and thought better late than never.

A mysterious Invitation shows up in the mail of a handful of the world's most astute practitioners of the occult arts. Jake Lancaster is one such invitée. Those who do not receive this Invitation, like the seductive Countess Marie Lamont and her savage servant Hannah, will stop at nothing to obtain it. Why? The possession of this Invitation admits the holder to the private auction of an unknown occult item of unimaginable power, bid for and paid in kind with magical objects rare and powerful. Held once every generation by a mysterious sorcerer said to be centuries old, this is The Devil's Auction. The rumors surrounding it are all secondhand. For every participant of previous auctions has subsequently disappeared off the face of the earth.

When Jake Lancaster receives his Invitation to The Devil's Auction, a horrific presentiment of death accompanies it. Soon his good friend, Vietnam vet Alex Warner, is drawn into the intrigue. Two beautiful women seek to enter Alex's sphere of influence: hi-powered fashion model Valerie Lancaster -- Jake's daughter -- and the Countess Lamont. Both exude a dangerous sensuality. What do they want with Alex, a staid professor of history at a Midwest university?

If nobody has returned from The Devil's Auction, why would anyone want to attend? The motives are mixed. Revenge, curiosity, lust for power, and a drive for dominance in the field of sorcery -- all of these play their part. Above all there is the promise that winning the auction will give access to an obscure occult treasure hidden from the time of the Christ-- possibly the secret of immortality itself!

Weinberg takes you on quite the enjoyable ride. The plot is fast moving, the characterizations light but memorable. We follow the action from the points of view of a bunch of different characters, lending poignancy to the fates of even the obvious villains. At several points you want to shout out to the characters, "No! What are you doing? You are courting death!" Luckily, these fictional folks aren't scaredy cats and pay you no heed.

A very satisfying read.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Labor Day, the Battling ‘Guires, Corresponding Popes & a Prayer

Monday is Labor Day. This holiday, which informally marks the end of summer and "back to
school" (and work) after summer vacation, has its roots in the 19th century labor movement. The first observances took place during 1885 and 1886. At that time, a number of city governments passed ordinances setting aside the first Monday in September as a holiday to celebrate the contribution of workers to the strength and prosperity of the country. From the municipal level, a movement emerged  to have the day through legislation passed at the state level. Oregon was the first state to enact legislation to create the holiday named Labor Day. Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York followed. In 1894, Congress enacted legislation making Labor Day a legal holiday throughout the country.

But who thought up the idea first? According to the Department of Labor, two men hold claim to the title “Father of Labor Day”: a machinist named Matthew Maguire and a carpenter named Peter McGuire:
“Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those ‘who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.’ 
But Peter McGuire's place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.” (http://www.dol.gov/laborday/history.htm)
Labor Day is a sad holiday to me, since it marks the passing of summertime. I haven’t given much thought to its origins as a day to celebrate the workingman and workingwoman. I’ve been thinking more about labor lately, though, as I contemplate the social implications of our current high unemployment.

I found a nicely put together selection of excerpts from Catholic social teaching on labor on the USCCB’s web site. A few years ago, I started to read Pope Leo XIII’s seminal encyclical Rerum Novarum (On the Condition of Labor), but I didn’t get all that far into it and I’ve since forgotten what I did read. So it was a bit of a surprise to read on the USCCB site Pope Leo’s statement, from that encyclical, that “The most important of all [workplace associations and organizations] are workingmen's unions. . . .”  Will I have time to dig into the whole encyclical? Or maybe just read Pope John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical written on its hundredth anniversary,  Centesimus Annus (The Hundredth Year)? It has relevance to current discussions on economic policy:
“Furthermore, society and the State must ensure wage levels adequate for the maintenance of the worker and his family, including a certain amount for savings. This requires a continuous effort to improve workers' training and capability so that their work will be more skilled and productive, as well as careful controls and adequate legislative measures to block shameful forms of exploitation, especially to the disadvantage of the most vulnerable workers, of immigrants and of those on the margins of society. The role of trade unions in negotiating minimum salaries and working conditions is decisive in this area. “ 
Labor is just one of the areas of Catholic teaching I want to explore. My eyes are bigger than my brain, though. So much to read, so little time... especially given my television and movie habit.

But then there’s my prayer habit; it might come to my rescue. I found the following prayer while researching Blessed James Alberione, the Founder of the Pauline Family. I am a lay Pauline, a cooperator.  I intend to print this out and start praying it regularly. I will ask for the grace to learn what I need to learn, in order to be a participating citizen of the U.S., about the teachings on labor and their real life applicability. If America is going to go belly up--as it may in my lifetime--I don’t want to be asleep at the wheel when it happens.

The Worker’s Prayer, by Blessed James Alberione 

Jesus, divine Laborer and Friend of workers, deign to look benignly down upon the working world. We present to you the needs of all who carry on intellectual, moral, or physical work. See amid what fatigue, sufferings and snares we live our hard days. See the physical and moral sufferings! Repeat the cry of your Heart: "I have compassion on these people." Comfort us, through the merits and intercession of St. Joseph, model of workers and artisans.   
Grant us the wisdom, virtue and love which sustained you in your toil-filled days. Inspire us with thoughts of faith, peace, moderation, and thrift, so that together with our daily bread, we will always seek spiritual goods and heaven. Save us from those who deceitfully try to deprive us of the gift of faith and confidence in your providence. Deliver us from all exploiters who do not recognize the rights and dignity of the human person. Inspire social laws which are in conformity with the Church’s teaching. May charity and justice reign together, through the sincere cooperation of all members of society. May everyone consider the Vicar of Christ the teacher of the only social doctrine which assures the worker of a gradual social betterment, and of the kingdom of heaven, the inheritance of the poor in spirit. Amen.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

"Time to Say Goodbye" - and shameless self-promotion from Rae





Today's blog post, the first in months, is by guest blogger Sr. Margaret Joseph Obrovac, FSP. It marks a transition in her life and in mine. It is also both an act of self-promotion and a statement of intent to resume blogging on my part. This article is the last one Sr. Margaret Joseph will write as editor of the Pauline Laity blog. I am assuming her editorial duties starting now. I encourage you to put Association of Pauline Cooperators -- paulinelaity.blogspot.com -- on your radar, your blog list and your subscriptions. Find out what the Pauline charism is all about. I look forward to resuming my lifelong passion for communicating through that most beautiful of human systems for conveying thought and emotion: language.

“Time To Say Goodbye”


When Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman sang this English rendition of his song, “Con te partirò” almost twenty years ago, it topped the Billboard Classical Crossover chart for 35 solid week just in the United States, selling almost a million-and-a-half copies. That’s not why I remember it, though. In 2001, I had been studying Italian in Rome for only three months, when a group of American Daughters of St. Paul came on the first FSP pilgrimage in years. Before returning to the States, they sang this song to the community. I bawled.

Now I’m the one saying goodbye. Earlier this month I accepted a transfer to Rome to write and do editorial work in English. If all goes as planned I’ll leave at the end of September, not knowing when I’ll be back, but certain only that Jesus will be waiting for me…and for you…because “Con te partirò”—I’m leaving with you. Or as Mother Thecla used to write, “I carry you in my heart.”

You may remember that a Pauline pilgrimage to Rome and Piedmont, Oct. 19-30, is in the works, spearheaded by Brian Reilly from Staten Island, a seasoned organizer of tours and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Greece, Turkey, and Italy. I’ll be able to join up with the pilgrims as spiritual and cultural guide, together with another FSP from Rome, Sr. Maria Grazia Gabelli, who will accompany us to Piedmont in the foothills of the Alps. I can vouch that the other 13 of us in the group are in for a Spirit-filled experience with her in the land of our Founder and of other “Paulines of the first hour.” Peter and Paul await us all in Rome, while Sts. Francis and Clare promise to welcome us to Assisi on our way north.

The trip is still on in spite of the fewer than 20 originally required. That’s because Bove Travel, the agent in Brooklyn, is not taking any commission for the work involved, and accommodations for both Sr. Maria Grazia and the chaplain, Fr. Michael Goonan, SSP, are being sponsored by donors. Pray for them all!

Rae edits blog article for Association of Pauline Cooperators
Here at home, this blog will also continue. With the approval of the provincial director of the Pauline Cooperators, Sr. Patricia M. Maresca, Cooperator Rae Stabosz from Delaware has generously agreed to manage it from now on. Christine Dufresne, a Cooperator from Massachusetts, is her collaborator and back-up. Every Wednesday you will continue to receive an insightful and well crafted post by one of 12 bloggers from five branches of the Pauline Family, who have you in mind as they research, pray, and write. The Writers’ Guidelines for the Cooperator blog describes their mission this way:
“The blog is intended to be both formational and informational:
1.    to familiarize Pauline Cooperators with the charism of the Pauline Family—its story, spirituality, and mission—and to serve as a lively, practical, and trustworthy resource for them in living that charism themselves, as they share the Good News with others.
2.    to provide a news forum connected to other Pauline social media services, to inform Cooperators about Pauline events and initiatives, leading them to feel a sense of belonging to this Family and providing them with a means to reach out to other Cooperators.
3.    to invite others to explore a membership in the Association of Pauline Cooperators and so, share in its dedication to personal holiness and its witness to Jesus, Way, Truth, and Life, in the spirit of St. Paul the Apostle.”
Do you notice the emphasis on sharing the articles with others? Evangelizing, in other words? That’s where you come in. As a former administrator, I can tell you that in the weeks when you share the blog on social media, readership really spikes. Even if you just post it on your Facebook timeline either from the blog itself or from the Cooperator Facebook page, a whole new audience is exposed to the thought of Jesus, Paul, the Church’s pastors, and the Pauline Family—all in a way they never were before. Your cut? Apostleship, increase, and in the end: “Those who lead the many to justice will shine like the stars forever” (Daniel 12:3).

So when I sing, “Con te partirò,” I’m thinking not only of your friendship, which I will always treasure, but kinship—in spirit and mission:
“I know you are with me, with me,
Building bridges over land and sea….
With you, I will go.”



______________________
Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP, originally from San Francisco, has been a Pauline evangelizer since 1973 and has worked in various phases of the mission of the Daughters of St. Paul. After attending the Pauline Family’s nine-month Charism Course in Rome in 2012-2013, she served on the provincial Cooperator Team in Boston in the area of ongoing formation. This fall, she will begin carrying out English language editorial work in Rome.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

“We came here for a reason” – what Rebecca Frech's friend wishes you knew

What one Muslim-American history prof would like Catholics to know.


And yes, I know Protestants suffered under Elizabeth I's sister Mary and I know Jews suffered under Christians of all persuasions. I just think that my own religious  siblings should remember that we've been hated & feared in America also. I have had an appreciation of Islam since I did a report on it in 8th grade. In the rush to communicate to sleepyheads and naive people about the very real dangers of ISIS, my fellow American Catholics need to understand and respect ordinary, non-apocalyptic Muslims. ISIS' threat is like if Jim Jones had attained the power to carry out his vision of Christianity. It's aberrational. If our response is to insist that it's growth is an inevitable result of the " inherent vice" of Islam itself, we will drive more crazies into its fold.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Open letter to all the Big Damn Heroes of the Internet

Dear Catholics, Big Damn Heroes, and Other White Hats of the Blogosphere,

           How would you like to participate in a stunt that, if it comes off, will REALLY piss the heck out of the folks who profit from abortion, like Planned Parenthood and their kin?

My name is Rae Stabosz. Some of you know me. Most of you don’t. I would like to interrupt your kitten videos, your reddit snark and your all-purpose interwebs fun and bring you a bold display of naked desperation.

You don’t have to label yourself “pro-life”. Labels can sound like polemic. This is a non-political stunt for anybody who holds to this equal care principle: in an unwanted pregnancy, both the pregnant woman AND her unborn child deserve equal respect and care.

            Here’s the stunt:

Between now and Sunday, November 30 – we internet White Hats will pool our resources and fund a SINGLE mobile pregnancy center equipped with ultrasound!

·       It will be beautifully appointed and staffed by professionals; it will park outside of abortion clinics in Delaware and offer FREE ULTRASOUND, FREE PREGNANCY TESTING and FREE COUNSELING to women in crisis.

·       It will also park at fairs, church festivals, and other happy community events, educating the public to the marvels of ultrasound technology and what it shows of intrauterine development.

·       All we want to build the bus and put it on the road is $120,000 in capital expenses. We will get the operating expenses on our own! (there’s a reason for that).

We only need 4800 heroes to donate $25 each!  More than that, and we give it away!

                You may have heard of Save the Storks, the national organization founded by Joe Baker in 2011. Save the Storks is taking the country by storm. Its mission is “to equip pregnancy centers to more effectively connect with abortion-vulnerable women ... by providing Stork Buses — mobile medical units — so that pregnancy centers can offer free sonograms and pregnancy tests wherever women need them.”


                Two months ago, an eclectic group representing two of the three counties of Delaware founded the Delaware Stork Bus, Inc. Our intention is to carry out the Save the Storks vision in Delaware. We have signed a contract with Joe and Co.  We are ready to rumble. And we want your help.

      
BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT... I can hear you say.

·         “Why should I help you?  Aren’t there other groups in the country trying to get a Stork Bus off the ground?”

·         “I live in Kokomo, Indiana, home of the Kokomo Mantis. Why should I care about little Delaware?”

Fair enough. Here’s where “stunt” part comes in.  I DO live in Delaware, and I DO want to pull out all the stops to get this Stork Bus up and running. I freely admit that it is self-serving.

But if the stunt takes off we could scare the pants off of Planned Parenthood and fund more than just one little Delaware bus!

 “For the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light, “ Jesus tells us in the gospel of Luke.  And isn’t it the truth? 

No Stork Bus project has used crowd funding to our knowledge, and we hope to establish a precedent.  The secular world has been a lot quicker to harness the power of crowd sourcing than we have been.  Witness the success of the ALS Bucket challenge. In two weeks’ time it made four million dollars for the ALS Association and its 38 chapters. It did this by harnessing the power of social media and the fun of seeing people (especially celebrities) have buckets of ice dumped on one another.

Yet the ALS Association supports using human embryos for stem cell research, and so Catholics and others were not able to embrace this as readily as some.

$120,000 is just 4800 donors giving $25 each. What if the White Hat blogosphere gives more?? 

Here is the deal, and it’s a good one:

If we raise more than $120,000 between now and the end of November, we will give 100% of all additional monies collected to the national Save the Storks project!

That’s right! We are not greedy. This is our first fundraiser, and we are targeting our capital expenses only.  We will trust in our fundraising acumen to raise the first three year’s operating expenses on our own. We came up with this stunt not just for Delaware Stork Bus, but for all of us.We want to show the abortion industry that we can get a fully-outfitted Stork Bus on the road in a little more than two-months time. That will have them shaking in their stylish yet affordable boots!

But we don’t want this to be a Zero Sum Game.  If YOU give to US, we don’t want you to worry that other Stork Buses will suffer.

Save the Storks gives grant money as part of its mission. So if our little stunt goes anywhere, and we collect any extra we make above our capital goal of $120,000, we will give the rest to Joe and his good people to give in grants as they see fit.

Most of you don’t know me from Eve, even though I’ve been an internet presence since before there was an Internet! (international PLATO system in the late 70’s, anyone?) I have left a 20+ years trail on the Internet.  Look me up and see if I seem trustworthy.

Look our entire Board of Directors up! You’ll find some surprises!

Yes, you will find that we have paid our dues. We are trustworthy.  Children of light: allons-y!  No need to be less sensible than the children of the world!


Rae Stabosz, with the Delaware Stork Bus Board of Directors:
Evelyn Baldwin
Susan Bullock
Nicole Collins
Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich
Ed Taubert
Tim Werbrich

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Baring my all for the Delaware Stork Bus


Dear Friends,

Many of you know that I have labored for years to figure out how persons of good will from both sides of the abortion debate could work together to offer non-partisan, non-judgmental help to women who are experiencing unwanted pregnancy. It's no secret that I think that abortion is a tragedy. It is a unique instance of an injustice perpetrated against one class of human beings - gestating humans -- by a class that by all rights should be their greatest protectors -- their pregnant mothers. Even writing that sentence, I am no doubt alienating folks on both sides of the social issue.

I have put myself on the front lines of this social issue because while none of us can eliminate all the injustices in the world, we can each spend some of our “time, talent and treasure” trying to restore justice and balance to at least one upended aspect of human and social living. 

Being on the front lines has cost me a lot. I have recently, through the help of my husband and other concerned loved ones, come to realize that I do not have the constitution for conflict. People are often surprised to hear that I am an introvert.  That may be because I do have a great love for a great number of individual human beings, as well as a heart that aches for how much it longs to exchange love with greater and greater numbers of the fascinating and lovable women and men who share this earth with me. I love people in all their variety, with all their flaws. That's the simple truth.

But the social activism I have done since I retired from the University of Delaware eight years ago has lead me into conflicts I could never have imagined -- conflicts with both "friend and foe."  And I am constitutionally not built to handle it without damage to myself. And so I am in the process of retiring from social activism. I want to spend my remaining years taking care of my own health and being involved in "family activism" -- I want to be the wife, mother and grandmother that my large and wonderful family deserve.

But I want to leave a legacy. And the Delaware Stork Bus has all the markings of that legacy. I am working with some good people whose interest is in equal care and respect for women AND their unborn children in a crisis pregnancy situation.

We have incorporated as a non-profit organization, Delaware Stork Bus, Inc., and are in the process of applying for 501c3 tax-exempt status.  We have signed a contract with the national Save the Storks organization that has pioneered these small, mobile units across the nation. We have a small seeding of donor money, and the hope that this is an idea whose time has come in Delaware.

We are launching a GoFundMe crowd-funding campaign to use social media to spread the word and find donors for this very good cause.

We want to bring a mobile pregnancy center to Delaware. We want to travel the three counties of Delaware offering free ultrasound, free pregnancy testing, free counseling, and free resource referral. We want to use it also as a traveling educational van, a presence at state fairs, festivals and community events.  We want to gain the trust of all people of good will who are interested in women's and children's health, beyond the conflicts and confines imposed on women by the social issue of abortion.

The Delaware Stork Bus will be a warm, supportive environment where pregnancy is neither sentimentalized, nor feared, nor despised. It will be a safe haven for women to relax, be tested and scanned, speak freely to professionals, ask questions, and receive information. Above all, it will be a space where women can be authentically themselves – respected and free from societal pressure -- as they work out this crisis in their lives.

Some of you may be surprised to hear that after all the years of laboring to make this happen, I am not taking a leadership role in the Delaware Stork Bus. I stepped down a few months ago to attend to my own health. There is a time for leading, and a time for relinquishing the reins. I remain on the Board and am pleased as punch to be a "Go-fer" and a "Do-er" and a willing “foot soldier” to the leadership I helped to recruit.

I hope you will consider supporting us. Click here to go to our GoFundMe donors page.   From there you can make a donation of any size. From there you can also spread the news of the Delaware Stork Bus by email, Facebook and Twitter.

Many of you have wanted to support an effort like this in Delaware. Help us make it happen!

A NOTE ABOUT DONATING:

A “crowd funding” campaign like this one depends on a “crowd of donors” each contributing a modest amount rather than a few large foundations or private donors each making a substantial contribution.  If you want to help with a donation of any size but need more information, please contact me atrstabosz@gmail.com or 302-731-7692.  I would be happy to show you our business plan, our three-year budget, and show you the list of existing pregnancy centers and community organizations with whom we are establishing connections. I will answer any questions you might have about the long-term viability and goals of the Delaware Stork Bus.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stock Market Education: Learning thinkorswim


So I haven't blogged in ages but I am going to start reporting on my education in stock trading. I've only been trading actively since 2008 when stocks fell and it became cheap to buy stocks and start learning the ropes. Tim Stabosz, my nephew, has been a big help. I trade on TD Ameritrade and recently began using their thinkorswim platform.  I seem to have reached a new plateau in my understanding of the arcane world of the stock market. I only trade equities.

I'm going to start documenting my self-education, so I'll have a place to refer to when I forget how to do stuff.

The thinkorswim Learning Center has a wealth of information but boy is it hard to figure out where a newbie should start. HOME shows you the latest tutorial videos, and these are not in any particularly logical order, plus they do not start with the basics. I needed to figure out just how to find the same information on thinkorswim that I find on the regular TD Ameritrade platform.

HOME / Videos and Articles / Topics / ALL  : this is a good place to start.  The first video teaches you the basic Monitor view of your portfolio.  One thing I wanted to figure out was how to see my past history of trades.  Do this by putting in a stock ticker at the field under Monitor/Activity and Positions, then go over to the right on that same field line to select up to the last 30 days by the "today for" button, or "change dates viewed" for a longer time period.  Click "reset" to go back to today's.

Questions I want answered as I learn:

1. how can I make a pie chart of the equities I hold divided by sectors, so I can see if my portfolio is balanced by sector?

2. how can I see all the dividends I've collected in a given time period? I know how to do that easily in the regular platform, how about here?

3. what are all the things that folks use watchlists for?  I use them but I think not to the max.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Delaware Legislators Hold Second Hearing on Planned Parenthood of Delaware

For immediate release
From: Rae Stabosz
Contact: rstabosz@gmail.com, 302-731-7692 H, 302-391-0727 C

 
Planned Parenthood of Delaware Under the Microscope
Bipartisan Hearing of the Delaware General Assembly
Chase Center on the Riverfront
Tuesday, July 30th at 11:00 AM
Free and open to the public

Newark, DE. July 29, 2013

Two whistle-blowers will continue the investigation into the practices of Planned Parenthood of Delaware that lead to multiple 911 emergency transfers to hospitals in the 2012-2013 time period.

The former manager of Planned Parenthood’s family planning services will testify about her experiences there. A former Planned Parenthood employee will testify about the state’s failure to protect women for over a year after she came forward to report the risks to women.
Dr. Timothy Liveright, who performed abortions at Planned Parenthood in
Wilmington and Dover, has been charged by Attorney General Beau Biden for
being a “clear and immediate danger to the public.” In addition, two nurses and a former manager of Family Planning at Planned Parenthood have testified that Planned Parenthood had a host of other problems. These included:
• using improperly sterilized and potentially contaminated needles and instruments
on patients
• requiring patients to lie down on operating tables still bloody from prior patients
• sending five women to the emergency room in the first half of this year
• failing to notify over 80 women who received colposcopies (a test for cervical
cancer) of the results of the test
• failing to notify in a timely way over 200 women who tested positive for chlamydia
and/or gonorrhea that they needed treatment—in some cases the patients were
notified months late; some were never notified at all
• failing to have a system in place for notifying women that they had an abnormal
breast exam
• failing to give poor women who have a special blood type (Rh negative) the drug Rho-
GAM, which must be given within 72 hours of an abortion to protect future pregnancies

Bipartisan General Assembly Hearing on
Unsafe Medical Practices at Planned Parenthood
Tuesday, July 30th at 11:00 AM
Chase Center on the Riverfront

The Harlan & Hollingsworth Room

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Explaining and exploring how pro-lifers benefit their communities


Isn't it time we examined the negative narrative about pro-lifers that seems to permeate our public consciousness?  

All you have to do is read mainstream news reportage to realize that pro-lifers get a raw deal.  We are portrayed as anti-women extremists, prone to violence, who enjoy shaming women and whose goal is to put women back in subservient positions in society. 

Never mind that women make up significantly more than 50% of the population at any pro-life event or activity. 

Never mind that abortion on demand is just about the best gift that predatory males have ever been given.  Women who are exploited by sex trafficking, as well as ordinary teens who learn from Planned Parenthood that hooking up without relationship is a mark of empowerment for women, both require abortion as a method of "cleaning up" reproductive messes, ie. pregnancy. 

Meanwhile, educators and counselors who oppose both amoral sexuality and abortion on demand are stigmatized in print and in Planned Parenthood sex education programs and material. 

Delaware Right to Life is taking issue with the mis-characterization of the pro-life community, which in every state is a beacon of hope and help to women struggling with reproductive issues. Here's a recent News Journal article, followed by a discussion from the comment section of the online version of the article. I am taking up the keyboard to enter into the discourse. Pro-lifers need better press, and the community at large deserves to know exactly what we do for them.



Mary-Lee Lutz ·  Top Commenter · Newark, Delaware
Ms. Collins seems to forget what women well remember… that Planned Parenthood, even with its alleged shortcomings, is a vast improvement over the back alley abortions they were forced to endure as recently as forty years ago.

  • Jessica Christine Ferraro
    I'm sorry how is leaving baby parts in a patient's body a vast improvement???

  • Cj Warren
    The crap that's been going on sure doesn't sound like a vast improvement to me!

  • Mary-Lee Lutz ·  Top Commenter · Newark, Delaware
    Cj Warren

    It is an improvement. You see the "crap" that happens to a few women. I see the successful abortions that many receive.

    In times past, every woman risked her life by having an abortion. Generally speaking, abortions were performed on kitchen tables in the woman's own home or in the home of the abortionist. Those women who did not die often risked losing their reproductive potential entirely. These were not isolated incidents. They were common, everyday happenings.

    Those women who used coat hangers or knitting needles on themselves were at even greater risk. Most of them died… in excruciating pain.

    So, whatever Planned Parenthood does or does not do, it is far better than what happened to women in the past. Women KNOW that. That's why so many of them choose Planned Parenthood for their abortions.

  • Rae Stabosz ·  Top Commenter · Chief Cook and Bottlewasher, CEO and all that at Pious Ladies Bookmobile
    Ms Mary-Lee Lutz , you are forgetting that the article is not about abortion per se but about the benefit to the community of pro-life advocates and pro-life advocacy, a benefit that goes largely unacknowledged and untapped because of Planned Parenthood apologists like yourself. The choice is not PPDE abortions or back-alley abortions. The choice is between knowing your full range of options for an unwanted pregnancy or being given counseling at Planned Parenthood that nurse Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich termed "a joke" as you are rushed through a procedure by an uncaring doctor and a profit-minded business model, often after having been pressured into the abortion by boyfriends, parents or even husbands.

    The term "back alley”, by the way, refers not to where abortions were done prior to Roe v Wade but to how women were instructed t...See More

  • Jessica Christine Ferraro
    To tell women that they must settle for PP because it's better than before is a huge slap in the face to women. Such a tragedy to choose to take your life in your hands all because of a beautiful baby. What would those woman say if we could ask them " was it worth it?", "was it worth it to kill your child and yourself?". What kind of legacy did those women leave, Mary? The common argument against abortion is that "I don't want a baby right now" "I have dreams I want to pursue first". What about the baby's dreams? What about his/her destiny? What if that child grew up to cure cancer? become a doctor? a scientist? What if... I now think of another woman I once knew who had a completely different way of thinking. A woman that had 16 children (yes all from the same husband). That woman was my grandmother and because of her choosing life I am here today. Many of her children and grandchildren went on to work in the healthcare field and SAVE PEOPLES LIVES. She has left a legacy that is touching hundreds of hearts.

  • Mary-Lee Lutz ·  Top Commenter · Newark, Delaware
    Rae, women know what they are doing when they come in to an abortion facility… of any sort. They neither need or want "counseling" on the "full range of their options." They know the "full range of their options" They want an abortion. Period.

    I suggest that women who claim to regret having an abortion are more motivated by the angst and shame that you "pro-life" advocates saddle them with. I have never met a woman who has had an abortion express anything but relief that it is over and done with.

    On the other hand, adoption agencies are now required to inform women of the "full range of THEIR options," including government assistance of various kinds, when they come in to place their babies. When women are so informed, 99% choose to keep their babies and raise them themselves. These are women who already want to give birth, but also want to keep and raise their own children… not women who need to be talked into it.

    Matter of fact, my birthmother gave birth to me when she was sixteen (in 1944) and she relinquished me for adoption. The next time she was pregnant and still unmarried, she had an abortion. I wonder how many other women have done the same. I suspect there are many. So much for the manifest joys of "choosing life."

    In summation, women already know what their choices are, at least as far as whether to continue their pregnancies or abort them. They do not need you to confuse them.

  • Rae Stabosz ·  Top Commenter · Chief Cook and Bottlewasher, CEO and all that at Pious Ladies Bookmobile
    "I suggest that women who claim to regret having an abortion are more motivated by the angst and shame that you 'pro-life' advocates saddle them with. " Is it necessary to resort to the inflammatory rhetoric that is precisely the kind of stereotyping that the article exposes to light. It belittles and stigmatizes the super caring women and men who make up the Delaware pro-life community. Either you are politically motivated or you sincerely believe that this stereotype is true. If the former, I will just say that it's a one trick strategy you are using, one that does not reflect reality. As more pro-life folks come "out of the closet" and refuse to be cowed by your own brand of shaming, it will go away. The PPDE scandal already shows how dangerous to the public weal that prejudice can be. If the News Journal had reported on the ...See More

  • Rae Stabosz ·  Top Commenter · Chief Cook and Bottlewasher, CEO and all that at Pious Ladies Bookmobile
    Actually, let me correct myself. By using the phrase "super caring" to describe pro-life advocates I'm engaging in the same kind of rhetoric as Ms. Lutz, but from the point of extravagant praise rather than belittling criticism. I apologize. Not everybody is super caring, and not all of the time. I'd say there's more caring than shaming, which is why I invite you to meet some of "the other side".

  • Mary-Lee Lutz ·  Top Commenter · Newark, Delaware
    I did not say that pro-life people do not care. What I did say, basically, is that pro-life people do not respect a woman's ability to choose what is best for herself.

    Just as no one should try to force their religious beliefs, or their political beliefs, or any others of their beliefs on anyone… unless that person asks for an opinion… neither should they try to force their beliefs about abortion on anyone. The women entering Planned Parenthood do not ask for your opinions, and they certainly know how to contact you if they actually want your opinions.

    They do not need your opinions. They have opinions of their own. You need to respect their opinions and their choices.

  • Rae Stabosz ·  Top Commenter · Chief Cook and Bottlewasher, CEO and all that at Pious Ladies Bookmobile
    Ah, well, that's a different matter than accusing pro-lifers of "shaming" women and saddling them with angst. You are speaking of those who engage in sidewalk counseling and prayer. I have done quite a lot of that. Yes, it is quite true that the women we approach have not solicited our opinion. It is also true that part of the American experiment is for folks to offer their opinions, unsolicited, in public places. Now, what you say is true: very many women, the majority in fact, have made up their minds completely and are there to have an abortion, no doubt in their minds. But not all. For some women, our presence acts as "a sign" that they are meant to re-think their decision. Read the literature. This literally true.

    We provide two services by praying and by offering literature and counseling.

    1) We offer a supportive presence for those women who are unsure even at the last minute if they really want to end their child's life. Such women exist. A woman came up to our group a few months ago and thanked us for being there. She said that when she heard our Deacon Bob leading us in singing the Divine Mercy Chaplet, with his baritone voice and the conviction of his words, she was moved by the music. She knew then that she would ask to see the ultrasound, and she knew that if she saw the ultrasound she would decide to keep her baby. Which she did. A child lives because a woman in conflict experienced our presence as a sign. Again -- I attended a baby shower thrown by pro-lifers for a young woman who had decided to accept help and counsel from a member of our sidewalk group. When I entered the room where the shower was being held, and saw the young mother whose due date was approaching sitting there laughing and smiling, with the outline of her baby sharp against her t-shirt and the excited laughter of her birth family and her new pro-life "family" all around her, I began to cry. An uncertain woman had found the support she needed at the moment she needed it, because somebody was there to simply ask.

    Presence to a receptive person is more powerful than attempts to persuade an unreceptive person. I respect the women I talk to. I don't shame. I am present, and available, and I offer what I can. Sometimes, that's what is needed. We stand in the gap between life and death -- not to scream and shame but to offer alternatives to those who are willing to listen. We make ourselves available to serve as an unlooked for catalyst for a change that was already formulating interiorly. We are there for those who are receptive. Some are. Just as some are not, and in fact are repelled by us, or angered. No social progress was ever made without some people standing in the gap offering alternatives to the status quo.

    2) We also stand up for the unborn whose last moments of life are approaching. It is a salutary thing to stand in solidarity with innocent human beings in various stages of gestation who are being led to their execution. I like to pray that their last moments be as dignified an end to a short life as is possible. Any person whose conscience is well-formed will stand against injustice when it involves the death of innocents. When a society perpetrates a legal injustice against a vulnerable population on behalf of those it gives the power to choose life and death, a person of conscience can stand in solidarity with the victims without judging or condemning the ones who are imposing death.

    Not all abortion-minded women are cut from the same cloth. That's as true for you to understand as it is for me. The pro-life community stands ready to offer help to those who are open to rethinking abortion, even at the last minute when death and life are immediately on the line.