Danica Patrick Beats the Boys, Ups Her Game

Danica Patrick

Photo courtesy of espn.go.com

Danica Patrick has been showing for a very long time that women can compete, and win, when playing with the boys. Her four-year career has been full of trophies and triumphs, but her latest accomplishment stands above all the rest. At the Daytona 500 she took a pole and is the first woman to do so. She is also the first woman to clinch a pole in NASCAR’s premier series, the Sprint Cup.

Not only did she beat champion Jeff Gordon, but she left 37 others in her dust as she made her way around the track at 196 miles per hour. This is something that all women can celebrate because every time a woman accomplishes something major like this, it is another giant step in leading to further gender equality.

“I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl,” Patrick said. “That’s how I’ve always approached my racing career. I’ve been lucky enough to make history and be the first woman to do many things. We have a lot more history to make and we are excited to do it.”

The next race is February 24, 2013 and Patrick will be in the front row with Jeff Gordon, who she just beat. Since NASCAR is largely seen as a man’s sport, this is a really big deal.

Women have competed in sports for as long as sports have been around, but only in the last few decades have they actually been recognized. Things like the WNBA have worked to bring more attention to women in professional sports. Of course, the Olympics also recognizes women all over the world for their athletic accomplishments.

In many things today, women are regarded as equals, but at the same time there are many things that women are seen as secondary in. For example, women tend to make less money than men in most professions, but especially those that are seen as men’s jobs. The government is working to eliminate this wage gap, but it persists and likely will for at least a little longer.

When women can get into the men’s arena and exceed expectations, it helps to show that both genders really are not that different. This is not an attempt to promote feminism, but a way to promote the fact that men and women really are not that different in most respects and deserve to be treated as such.

Danica Patrick is not the first woman to beat the boys in something that is seen as a “man thing” but the recognition she is getting for this is sure to set a precedent for women who are professional athletes. Most people can name dozens of NBA stars, but few can name dozens of the best in the WNBA. With continued athletic accomplishments by women, this divide will start to shrink.

Best of luck to Danica as she heads into one of the biggest races of her life. Both men and women will be cheering for her.

Folic Acid May Reduce Autism Risk During Pregnancy

reduce autism in pregnancysIf you are planning on getting pregnant, your doctor has likely mentioned that increasing your folic acid intake is important to prevent neural tube defects. New research is showing that this vitamin may also play a role in decreasing the risk of your child being born autistic. The key is to ensure that you are getting adequate folic acid before pregnancy and that you are getting the right amount once you become pregnant.

This study followed 85,176 babies for three to 10 years and looked at how mom’s intake of folic acid impacted whether or not the child ended up on the autism spectrum. The moms looked at were those that started folic acid supplementation four weeks prior to pregnancy all the way through those that did not start taking the supplements until they were eight weeks into their pregnancy.

Once researchers followed up with all of the kids, it was found that 270 kids had been diagnosed with a form of autism. There was a 40 percent reduction in risk in women who started to take folic acid early on in their pregnancy when compared to women who did not take a folic acid supplement at all. There was no reduction in risk found when it comes to PDD-NOS or Asperger syndrome.

Folic acid can be difficult to get in foods, though a lot of foods in the United States do contain it. When a woman is trying to get pregnant or just finds out she is pregnant, it is recommended that she take a supplement of 400 micrograms of folic acid each day.

In a developing fetus, the basic brain structures start to develop 15 to 56 days after a baby is conceived. This is early in the pregnancy, therefore, it is critical to be getting enough folic acid before you even become pregnant. The 400 micrograms per day is recommended not only when you are pregnant, but for all women of reproductive age. Also, just because you eat a diet rich in folic acid does not mean that you should skip the supplement. Folic acid is a water-soluble B vitamin, so whatever your body does not use will simply be excreted in your urine.

While the research needs to be confirmed in other populations, this is something for all women to start thinking about. It is still quite provocative to think that a nutritional supplement has the power to reduce the risk of autism in the developing fetus. However, since women should be taking in folic acid anyway to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, it certainly cannot hurt.

A good rule of thumb for all women is to get a comprehensive health physical before trying to become pregnant. This will allow you to know your general health status, how good your diet really is and if you are lacking in any essential nutrients, especially iron, folic acid, calcium and vitamin D. If you do have a deficiency, then you can get this corrected before even getting pregnant so that once you do become pregnant you know that you have everything that your baby will need for healthy growth and development.

Woman Will Die Without Four Organ Transplants

Molly Pearce

Image courtesy CNN

Imagine being young and relatively healthy and then being told that you need to have four organ transplants or you will lose your life. This became a reality for Molly Pearce, a 24-year-old from Santa Monica, California. Now, Molly knew that she had a rare disease that could lead to this and she has battled health issues her entire life, but the fact that she needs four organs came as a major blow to the young woman in the prime of her life.

Molly has what is known as Hirschsprung’s disease. This is a congenital disorder meaning she was born with it. Her large intestine does not have nerve cells so obstructions occur because the muscle movement is not regulated. While her life has been highly sheltered due to being sick a lot, she has a long-time boyfriend and lives life to the fullest. With the exception of this disorder, she is quite healthy according to her doctors.

This story has gained so much attention because Molly doesn’t just need a kidney or pancreas, but a kidney, liver, pancreas and a small intestine. She had a small intestine and a kidney transplant in the past, but then a blood transfusion in 2011 resulted in a negative reaction. As a consequence, both transplants as well as her liver and pancreas had to be removed. She was put on dialysis.

“I was so depressed that I was telling my mother and everyone that I didn’t want to live anymore,” Pearce said. “I just wanted to give up because of how many things had gone wrong. After a few months, I realized I could either die or try to get better — and I at least wanted to try.”

After wanting to give up, the young woman decided that she just has too much to live for. She cannot eat solid food and is stuck in an isolated room, but Molly is putting up a fight.

Doctor’s say that without all four transplants, Molly will not survive. While the procedure of transplanting four organs is extremely complex and the recovery is going to be tough, once she is out of the woods, her quality of life should be reasonably good. Her positive attitude and fighting spirit no doubt would play a major role in a good outcome. They are likely what have gotten her this far.

Molly and her family were fighting this battle alone looking for an O negative donor for all four organs, but others have since joined the fight to save Molly. An organization known as the Flood Sisters Kidney Foundation of America are using their resources to help Molly get what she needs to get back to living her life. This organization is responsible for saving six lives since they started working so they are incredibly dedicated.

It can take as many as 10 years to get an organ transplant even when someone is really sick. Molly has a lot of people standing behind her and fighting along with her. This is not going to be an easy task, but each and every one of them, along with Molly, will keep fighting until those four organs are available and being transplanted into her body.

This just goes to show that even when things seem impossible that people will band together to make miracles happen. It is nice to see that big hearts are still scattered across this nation.

Buying A Used Car? How to Make Sure Hurricane Sandy Doesn’t Screw You.

buying a used carThe tragedy that the Northeast experienced this past week courtesy of Hurricane Sandy was devastating with the effects of the storm expected to last for months. Even if you don’t live on the East Coast and were directly affected by Sandy that doesn’t mean you may not fall victim to Hurricane Sandy scams, especially if you are buying a used car in the near future.

Over the next few weeks, thousands of cars will be totaled out by insurance companies. Some will be reduced to sheet metal and scrap. Others will be sold to junkyards. And many of them will find their way back into the used car market, especially in states far removed from the East Coast where unsuspecting consumers will not think twice about whether or not their car may have been a victim of Hurricane Sandy.

Why You Should Never Buy A Flood Damaged Car?

A flood damaged car can be repaired and cleaned to resemble a good buy, but the dangers of buying a flood damaged car are imminent  When a car sustains major water damage the electrical systems of the car are usually irreparable. Yes, they may work for your initial test drive, but eventually these systems will fail to the point they cannot be fixed.

Also, flood damage voids any warranty. If you purchase a used vehicle with a warranty and problems arise that can be contributed to prior flood damage your warranty is useless and you are, pardon the crudeness, screwed.

How to Check For Flood Damage?

Used car dealerships look for the best deal in order to get make the most money they can from a transaction. So, if a car looks decent and salable  then they won’t think twice about purchasing it, but that doesn’t mean they thoroughly investigated the car’s history. When you start shopping for a used car look for the following tell-tale signs of flood damage.

  • Do you smell mildew? Mildew and mold are hard to completely erase. Walk away from any car that smells damp.
  • Check for dirt. The interior of the car may be cleaned, vacuumed and appear unscathed, but investigate further. Check the crevices of the trunk and around the lights for trapped dirt that is harder to wipe away.
  • Rust is another indicator of water damage. If you are considering buying a car that is only a couple years old, rust on the body should be absent. If you see rust, you are probably dealing with a water damaged vehicle.
  • Check the title. Ask to see the title. Where did the car originate from? Trace the transactions. How did your car end up in Houston when the original owner lived in New Jersey?
Shop Smart and Don’t Fall In Love at First Sight

There will be a lot of deals over the next couple months on the used car lots. Some because of Hurricane Sandy and some because of the year end model sales. Either way, don’t fall in love at first sight with your dream car. Keep an open-mind and ask the right questions to make sure Hurricane Sandy doesn’t make your car buying experience a nightmare.

Are you in the market for a new car? How will you protect yourself from flood damaged car scams?

Ways That Early Voting Can Help and Harm The Presidential Election

Photo Obtained from Bloomberg.com

Tuesday, November 6th is Election Day for the majority, but absentee and early voting began weeks ago. While I rarely give the political arena much thought (please, hold your abuse. I understand I am a political slacker), I have noticed a lot of news stories recently centered around the concept of early voting. After a while, I started to take a small (very small – after this article I probably won’t think of it again) in how this voting trend/privilege can change the landscape of the Presidential election. Here is what I learned.

How Soon Can Constituents Vote?

Short answer? It varies. Each state has their own regulations in regards to when a person can cast an early vote. For instance, in South Dakota voters could make up their mind and cast their vote beginning September 21. In Maryland, early voters couldn’t begin voting until October 27.

Can Anyone Vote Early?

As with most political topics, the answer is unclear. 15 states have no-excuse early voting, but the best way to determine if you can vote early to avoid the lines and frustration on the actual election day is to call your local voting officials and ask what the requirements are. Of course, if you are reading this now, you are kind of out-of-luck until the next election.

How Does Early Voting Help Political Campaigns?

Early voting allows political campaigns to begin reducing the number of voters they need to target on Election Day. For instance, if South Dakota residents can begin voting in late September campaigns schedule more stops, air an increased number of ads in that state prior to when early voting begins. For those constituents in other states that cannot begin voting until later, closer to the actual election date, campaigns can spend more time later in the campaign promoting their agendas in these states. The early voting process aids campaigns in making strategic campaigning decisions when it comes to spending their money, a fiscal lesson they will forget when they actually take office.

Early voting also gives the candidates a clearer idea of how they will fare on Election Day; which states they need to target more aggressively to gain the majority of electoral votes.

What are The Cons of Early Voting for Politicians and Constituents?

Some voters give early voting the finger, afraid that late developments in the political campaigns could occur that may have had the potential to sway their vote. Truthfully, unlike daytime television, there are rarely 11th hour confessions that would have the potential to sway thousands of early voters.

The candidates may have to work a little harder to gain back votes lost during early election, but knowing they lost the votes and have to work to gain them back somewhere else is actually a bit of a pro. Not all politicians may agree, but knowing 30 days out that they are trailing is better than 30 minutes before the polls close and campaigning to gain extra votes is not an option.

How many of YOU are early voters. Share with us your reasons for voting early here or on our social media pages. We want your voice to be heard!

Stupid Quotes From Politicians Regarding Women’s Rights

bad quotes

Image courtesy of kivitv.com

Dumb, dumb and dumber. No, I am not talking about the Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels comedy that made us laugh and struggle to hold in our pee. I am talking about the political nonsense that dribbles from the mouths of ignorant politicians when they try to defend their right to control another person’s body. Some would call that rape, but in politics it is called “protecting America’s morals.” So, in light of the upcoming political election, let me share with you some of the dumbest quotes politicians have ever uttered.

Birth Control Causes Prostrate Cancer?

“As a man, would it interest you to know that Dr. Brownstein just published an article that links the pill to prostate cancer?” state Rep. Jeanine Notter (R)

Did You Know the Pill Causes Breast Cancer?

“It is scientifically undisputed that full-term pregnancy reduces a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer. It is also undisputed that the earlier a woman has a first full-term pregnancy, the lower her risk of breast cancer becomes, because following a full-term pregnancy the breast tissue exposed to estrogen through the menstrual cycle is more mature and cancer resistant.” – New Hampshire Bill that requires doctors to tell women seeking abortions that the procedure can cause breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society, as well as other major health organizations like WHO (World Health Organization) dispute this so-called “scientific” fact.

Rape Is a Woman’s Issue, Unless She is Married.

“I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.” Idaho state Sen. Chuck Winder (R).

Arizone Lawmakers Prefer to Keep Women in the Dark

A bill, sponsored by Sen. Nancy Barto, protects doctors from wrongful death lawsuits by allowing them to withhold information that may be a factor in a woman choosing to terminate her pregnancy  When asked why she sponsored this bill her answer was that she sponsored the law because “she did not want claimants to blame a doctor for a baby born with disabilities. Under the provisions of her bill, a doctor could not be sued for medical malpractice if the doctor withholds information from a mother about a child’s potential health issues that could influence her decision to have an abortion. In addition, a lawsuit could not be filed on the child’s behalf regarding a disability.”

Way to look out for the patient’s best interest.

Planned Parenthood Aims to Create Subservient Men?

“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.” —Rep. Allen West

Equal rights does not equal subservient men. Someone must have penis issues.

Conception, No Matter If Consensual or Not, Should Be Protected At All Cost.

“The method of conception doesn’t change the idea of life.” – Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan

Todd Akin Isn’t The Only MisInformed Politician

“The facts show that people who are raped —who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.” – Former North Carolina Rep. Henry Aldridge

Where did these men learn sex education? Clearly from poorly written romance novels.

Did we miss some outrageous quotes? Leave a comment and let us know!

Why I Still Don’t Vote. . . Sometimes

election votingThe piece I am going to share with you today, is actually an article I wrote 4 years ago. With the Presidential election a little over a week away, I am feeling a little embarrassed that I have given it so little bit of thought.  But the truth is, I could care less and I know that by admitting this publicly, I am opening myself up to ridicule and shame. However, I suspect I am not the only one who feels this way which is why I am publicly outing myself as a non-voting American.

I have resisted the urge to edit this article, even though 4 years later, some of my opinions have changed. So, please feel to call me out, ask me questions. I will try to respond to each and every one of you. Okay, here we go . . .

If you walk up to a stranger today and tell them that you chose not to vote in the primary elections being held across the Unites States today and the next few days, chances are you would get this response, “Well, if you don’t vote then you have no room to complain.” People may phrase the response differently, but the sentiment is the same.

Standing in line at a local department store this morning I heard one associate say this exact same thing to a co-worker and judging by how young the non-voter was – she probably believes this. She probably believes that choosing not to vote means choosing to be silent.

Well, I rarely vote. I abstain from the electoral process not because I am lazy or disinterested, but because I am frustrated. In addition, I admit to grumbling to friends and family often about how horrible our political situation is in this country.

So, why do I choose not to vote? The raw truth is that I find politics to be impersonal and true results unattainable. Funny, because everyday bills are introduced and discussed that are very personal to the American people. Issues such as healthcare, social security, national security and education are just some of the concerns that our government addresses on a daily basis. Why, you ask, do I feel that politics is so impersonal?

We can vote people into an office to basically fight for a belief that we have. But after we have cast our vote for that representative or that senator, the situation is out of our hands. The average person is not a lobbyist that can bombard Congress with money and promises. The only thing the average person has to offer is faith in those we vote for.

Politics is impersonal because although our benefits and our welfare rely on the government working for the people, we see our hopes shot down by Presidential vetoes and stone-walling in Congress.

The politicians that we held so much faith in become immersed in the deep-waters of party affiliation and partisan agendas that bolster political resumes, but do little for the people that these politicians claim to be serving.

In addition to the distant relationship the general American population has with politicians, there are also the cliques. Everyone has experienced cliques at some point in their lives. If you didn’t belong to one of these cliques then you floated around, peacefully perhaps, but not belonging at the same time.

Our government has these cliques, too. They are called the Democrats and the Republicans. If your ideals do not live up to the party standards then you become ostracized and unable to move amongst the partisan factions that decide our laws.

I hate being categorized. I hate feeling like I am a key that can only fit in one hole. Generally, I hold the categorized ideals of the Democrats. However, I will and have supported Republican candidates.

I look at situations individually. I look at candidates individually. I am confident that most of the American people do to. We just have a hard time executing that when we are told to vote based on our party affiliations such as in the primary elections when you pick a certain color ballot that is suppose to symbolize your truest intentions. While I do have a certain person that I want to win the Presidency, I would love the opportunity to pick a person from both parties whom I think would do a decent job as our president and make the race a little more interesting.

Now, that I have ranted and raved about why I detest voting, I have a confession. I am the proud owner of an I Voted sticker. I braved the torrential thunderstorms in Missouri today to cast my vote.

Why did I vote? For once, I believe we have some good candidates that will make our country whole, complete and bring about a change that many claim to be looking for. The candidates that are running, Republican and Democrats, are actually giving America something more diverse than in the past elections.

When I say diverse, I am not referring to gender or race. I am referring to personal styles when it comes to approaching issues. There are candidates that are more modern and progressive. There are candidates that are more traditional and firm. No matter what, they are offering something that people can embrace that cross the partisan lines that are so frequently drawn during political elections.

I voted today because today politics didn’t feel so impersonal. Today these candidates made me want to put my faith into a government system that many countries wish they could emulate in their own governments – Democracy, a government by the people.

No matter who wins the primaries and the nomination, no matter who wins the Presidency, this election will be the first time that I have been excited about being a part of our government. Voting is a right, but that doesn’t mean one should cast their vote lightly. People need to really believe in what they are voting for. Today I believed and confidently made my vote count.

Bic Pens for Women . . . Really?

Bic pens for womenDo you think sexism in popular consumerism is dead? Do you think we are evolving as a society where marketing companies are pulling away from the stereotypical roles between women and men? Recent advertising for brands like Yoplait’s Go-Gurt and Tide began to convince me that perhaps marketing companies are catching on to the diverse roles women and men play in the daily household. Both Yoplait and Tide have commercials airing that feature fathers as the main parent responsible for making lunches, doing laundry – responsibilities that have traditionally been advertised as the chores of women in households.

Girl power! Yes, I felt a bit of a victory when I first saw those commercials because in my household my husband makes our kids’ lunches, he does laundry and he actually cleans toilets. In fact, his cleaning skills are impeccable and make mine look sub-par. Here comes the big sigh . . . unfortunately, it appears that these small, progressive, cutting-edge steps that some companies are taking are the exception to sexist marketing.

Companies still insist on clothing our daughters in attire that sends horrible messages such as “I’m too pretty to do homework”. The gap between the sexes is evident in a multitude of products available from backpacks to lunch boxes to tool sets that are pink for women, but black and amped up for men. I mean, seriously, a drill is a drill. But, if you buy one of the tool sets for women, the drill is dainty and unable to compete with, dare I say it? Unable to compete with a man’s drill. Please excuse me while I gag.

So, let me get to the point of this article. Is sexism dead in popular consumerism? Not at all. Take a moment, to watch this video about Bic Pens for Women. Yes, apparently, we must use different pens, too. Here is the funny part to this story. Bic asked Ellen DeGeneres to promote their pens, which in a way she kind of did, but probably not in the way they intended.

Watch this video and let us know, does sexism in marketing bother you or do you just roll with it?

Paris’ Trampoline Bridge May Soon Be the Newest Tourist Attraction

As if life couldn’t get more interesting, architects have been busy creating a playfully bizarre design for what could soon be Paris’ 38th bridge that crosses the Seine. This pedestrian only bridge is designed to engage visitors and residents of Paris in a unique way – a trampoline bridge for adventurous souls.

Trampoline bridge in Paris

Trampoline bridge in Paris

Sound ridiculous? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time that architects have reached outside of the box to create pedestrian bridges that do more than get a person from point A to point B. In fact, because pedestrian bridges are designed to carry less weight architects can get by with innovative designs that are marvels.

Henderson Waves Bridge

Henderson Waves Bridge

The Henderson Waves Bridge is the world’s tallest pedestrian bridge. At 118 feet, tourists can relax and take in the sights of the nearby skyline of Singapore City.

Langkawi Sky Bridge

The Langkawi Sky Bridge

The Langkawi Sky Bridge in Malaysia is designed to enhance a tourist’s view of the beauty of this southeast Asian location. Reaching 2000 feet above sea level,at the top of Mount Mat Cincang, pedestrians are treated to unprecedented panoramic views.

The Da Vinci Bridge

The Da Vinci Bridge

Southeast Asian countries are not the only countries that have historically produced captivating structures. The Da Vinci Bridge in Norway crosses the E18 highway,offering locals and visitors an stunning sight. The Da Vinci Bridge was originally sketched 500 years earlier by Da Vinci himself for Sultan Bajazet II of Constantinople thus the reason for the current name of this gorgeous architectural wonder.

Pythonbrug bridge

Pythonbrug bridge

Amsterdam is known for its traditional canal bridges, but when the Pythonbrug bridge opened in 2001, a modern feel was introduced in extreme style. The waves in this bridge design actually force pedestrians to dip and rise in conjunction with the wave structure. If your legs can handle the steep incline and your pocketbook a trip to Amsterdam, this structure will not let you down.

So here is our question to you, what type of bridge would you build? If you could build any type of pedestrian structure what would it be?

Protect Your ID to Keep Your Financial Future Secure

identity thiefBeing a victim of identity theft is a harrowing experience that  leaves a trail of devastation that can follow you around for years. When your identity is stolen, not only is your current financial situation put in peril, but your future financial stability is in danger, too. In the high-tech world we live in where personal information is stored on our smartphones, personal tablets and other devices that are easily accessed by identity thieves protecting your identity should be a top priority.

This week, October 21-27, is Protect Your Identity Week. According to ProtectYourIDNow.org, identity theft has been the top consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the past twelve years in a row. We want you to keep your identity, your family and your finances safe. Here are a few tips to help you achieve that goal.

Do Not Carry Your Social Security Number in Your Wallet. Keep your social security number sacred. Once a thief has this information they can open bank accounts, credit card accounts and file false IRS reports.

Pick Credit, Over Debit. Entering your PIN number is easy, but opting to run your debit card as a credit transaction provides you with extra protection. In addition, do not sign the back of your card with your name. Instead, write SEE ID. Even though a clerk may not always ask for your ID,a potential thief may be dissuaded from using your card if this is displayed.

Check Your Mail. Believe it or not, the majority of people do not check their snail mail on a regular basis. Many people perform their banking and bill paying online, but there are still potential identity stealers sitting in your mailbox such as pre-approved credit card solicitations. Check your mail everyday and shred any personal information before disposing of it.

Do Not Store Personal Information on Your Computer. Or your smartphone. Or in your car’s glove box. Keep your personal passwords, social security numbers, bank account numbers and other personal information in a locked, secured area in your home.

Check Your Credit Regularly.  Even if you have taken every precaution available to keep your information safe, checking your credit regularly will help you stay in control of what information is being reported about you. You can also put an alert on your credit that requires companies to request a password from you before issuing you credit.

Identity thieves steal your personal information for their financial gain without regards to your credit status, your time or your money. By applying these few simple suggestions to your daily life, you can stop a thief in their tracks before they make your financial life a nightmare.

Have you been a victim of ID theft? How did it affect your life?