Monday, October 30, 2006

Nutbags and Their Unmentionables

Injured pair see red as flying bra triggers rollover accident on I-75

With a supportive brace around his neck and an arm in a sling yesterday, James Campbell agreed the incident was like a bad episode of Girls Gone Wild.

Mr. Campbell was driving north late Tuesday afternoon on I-75, just south of Perrysburg, when he swerved to avoid something coming toward him. His Dodge Neon lurched into the median and flipped several times.

He ended up with a helicopter ride to Toledo Hospital, a fractured vertebra in his neck, and a broken thumb. His passenger, Jeff Long, is still at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center with a broken rib and possible liver damage.

So, what was the unidentified flying object? It wasn't a piece of tire, a rock, or even an animal.

It was a red bra, previously hung on the antenna of a Mercury Sable occupied by four teenage girls who, well, went a little wild. And the Ohio Highway Patrol is considering charges against them.

Mr. Long, 47, of Toledo, said he and Mr. Campbell, 37, also of Toledo, saw the girls sticking their pierced tongues out and making inappropriate gestures toward them. He said one girl climbed from the back of the car to the front, hung a red bra on the antenna, and rolled up the window.

"Usually a girl will make eye contact and you'll just wave and that will be it. I don't know what those girls were trying to do," Mr. Campbell said. "They went a little overboard and me and my partner got the worst of it."

Trooper Chris Hasty said she has identified three of the girls in the car and is looking for the fourth. All are 17.

Trooper Hasty said witnesses have corroborated Mr. Campbell's story, saying the girls flashed other motorists. Neither Mr. Campbell nor Mr. Long said they saw any skin.

Mr. Campbell, who was tossed from the car as it flipped, was cited for not wearing a seat belt and for failure to maintain control of his vehicle. He's a little upset that, so far, he's the only one to get a ticket.

"I get cited and I'm not even the one who did anything," Mr. Campbell said. "What's the world coming to where 17-year-old girls would do something like that on the highway?"

Despite the injuries, Mr. Campbell figures it could have been worse. "It could've been a whole pile of cars instead of one that flipped. That wouldn't have been good at all," he said.


Nutbag Mom Goes to Prison for Not Treating Child's Piercing

Woman gets prison time for not treating daughter's illness

A Boston mother was sentenced to 18 months in prison and another 12 months of probation today for endangering her daughter, who nearly died last year from an untreated infection caused by a navel piercing.

Deborah Robinson, 39, faced a maximum of five years in prison for the felony conviction of recklessly or wantonly permitting substantial bodily injury to a child. She will get credit for the 14 months she spent in jail awaiting trial.

She was convicted on Oct. 17, despite her daughter's testimony that she was not in pain while she was ill and that Robinson did provide care for her.

Prosecutors said that Robinson did not seek medical treatment for her daughter, who lost 40 pounds over the course of two to four weeks, until she was gravely ill.

Robinson's lawyer said she acted out of ignorance, not malice, and should not have been charged with a crime. The girl, now 14, and her 16-year-old brother are in a foster home.

So let me see if I've got this straight: a mother allows her 13-year-old child to get a navel piercing and when it becomes so infected that the child loses 40 pounds and has to wear a diaper...she doesn't take her to a doctor?

Some people are seriously, SERIOUSLY, too stupid for words.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The News

I got the news.

My dad's ex-wife, the one he recently got back together with and the one I refer to as my "stepmonster," died of a heart attack on Sunday.

I'm still kind of in a daze about it. I have no idea how I am supposed to feel. This woman was part of my life for 18 years. When I try to think back to anything kind she might have done for me, I come up with a blank. She was a mean, abusive, miserable woman. When she and my dad divorced seven years ago, I moved on and was glad to do so. Relieved, even, to have her out of my life. When she and my dad got back together a few months ago, I was horrified. I was even more horrified when she sent me an email telling me how good she had been to me as a child!

My answer was blunt and nasty. I don't apologize for that. After two decades, I finally told that woman what I thought of her. It felt so...I don't know. Like the weight of the world dissolved from my shoulders. Apparently, though, I am now the "bad guy" in the family, because I wrote such "terrible" things to her right before she died. As if I were Kreskin, and I could tell when she was going to die and timed my words to her just for that moment.

I'm numb. I can't bring myself to care. Or to feel anything.

I wonder if this makes me a bad person? I just don't know.

Anyway, that's why I've not been around the last few days, and I'm not sure when I'll "snap out of this." How are you supposed to feel, when someone who abused you as a child has died? All I feel is numb.

Monday, October 16, 2006


As longtime readers of this blog know, I cut off contact with most of my family several months ago. The only person I really speak to anymore is my younger sister, "Leah."

Leah called me last night. Or rather, she called my husband's cell phone, having apparently misplaced our home phone number. She left a message: "Hope this is the right number. Please call me back when you get this. I have something...important to tell you."

By the time I got the message, it was way too late to call her back.

Now am I all anxious. Is it good news, or bad news?

In my family, people rarely call me to tell me good news. I hear about it, months and months later. Pregnancies, weddings, the lot. It was one of the big problems I've had with them, the fact that I am constantly treated as an outsider in my own family. My father didn't tell me about two of his weddings until weeks or even months after the fact. I rarely learn one of my siblings is expecting a baby until they or their significant others are several months pregnant.

Bad news also comes slowly to me, but less so. I usually learn about funerals a few weeks late. Sometimes, I hear about them in time to send flowers to the funeral home. Okay, ONE time that happened. The same with serious illness or, in the case of my brother, incarcerations.

What I do usually hear on time is DRAMA and GOSSIP. Neither of which, I am terribly interested in. Another of my father's well-timed "sickbed/deathbed" tirades, for example. These are incidents, usually occuring when Dad is in need of attention or a blanket forgiveness or what have you, when my Dad's health "suddenly takes a turn for the worse." He begins telling everyone he is "dying." He often has a set amount of time he is expected to live. I used to fall for this, quite often. I even wrote here, nearly two years ago if I recall correctly, about one such incident in which he claimed to have six months to live (justifying his disappearing for several weeks and scaring the crap out of everyone). Well, those six months have come and gone...just like all the other "deadlines." But if he was going to do that again, I probably would have heard from him or my stepmonster, not my sister. She tends to steer clear from the drama and gossip. And she never tells me something is "urgent" or "imporant," unless it really is.

So what's the news?

Is she pregnant again? Somehow, I doubt that. Her message did not seem to be a happy one, and she usually is happy when she finds out she's having a baby. Is she getting married, or did she elope? Possibly. But again, I didn't get a "happy" sense from her.

I also didn't get a "tragic" sense from her. She wasn't crying, nor did she sound as if she had been any time recently. That pretty much rules out the death of my father, or serious illness or injury of one of my nephews.

Of course, I could be wrong. It was a short message. Perhaps trying to read anything into it is foolhardy at best.

I only know this: my sister rarely calls. She prefers to email, which saves her a lot of money and saves me the pain of talking when my neuralgia is acting up. But I have no email from her today. Whatever the "important" thing is, it's too important to tell me via electronic means. Anything less than "serious" would simply be left on my voice mail or put in my inbox.

And my sister, unlike most people in my family, never cries wolf. And she never shouts "fire" in a crowded theater.

And so I write this, anxious and nervous, wondering what has happened that is so "important." We have a few mutual friends, including my ex-boyfriend-now-friend "Adam." Has something happened to Adam? Is my grandfather in the hospital? No, my Aunt "Edith" would have surely called me in that event, or my grandfather's wife "Theresa" (my step-grandmother, I suppose). I am on good terms with my grandfather (my mother's father). In fact, he just recently sent me an article about a study on MS for me to read. It is likely I would know about a problem with Grandpa before Leah would. Has she run into someone I knew in high school, who is maybe sick or knew that a friend of mine had died? Or someone who wants to get in contact with me? No, I think she would've sent an email about that, and I doubt she would've seen someone wanting to get in touch with me again as "important." Has something happened to my stepsister "Anita"? Anita has severe cerebral palsy. No, she would've told me it was an "emergency," in that case, and called more than once and sent an email for good measure, too. Stepmonster would probably have called as well, had Anita been the issue. Has there been a change in my nephew's condition? My sister's oldest child has some health issues, not life-threatening but still, issues. I am hoping THAT is not it. The child's been through enough already.

I guess there's no point in obsessing about it. In a few hours, it will be morning in Ohio and I can call and find out what all this is about. I am hoping it is nothing.

But this is Leah. If she says it's "important," chances is.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Tattoo Marks Prisoner a Molester

Tattoo in prison makes molester a marked man

CARLISLE, Ind. -- An inmate serving life in prison for molesting and killing 10-year-old Katie Collman is now the subject of an investigation into how he ended up with the tattoo "Katie's Revenge" emblazoned across his forehead.

The Indiana Department of Correction placed Anthony Ray Stockelman, 39, in protective custody away from the general inmate population last weekend after authorities discovered the tattoo, said Rich Larsen, a spokesman for the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. It is about 30 miles south of Terre Haute.
An internal investigation is under way to determine how the tattoo, which covers Stockelman's entire forehead, got there, Larsen said Wednesday. He refused to comment on what Stockelman has said about it or what investigators have learned.

A message seeking additional comment left Thursday for a DOC representative was not immediately returned.

Stockelman was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to abducting, molesting and killing Katlyn "Katie" Collman. The Crothersville girl was missing for five days before her body was found Jan. 30, 2005, in a creek about 15 miles from her Southern Indiana home.

Although prison officials did not comment on how Stockelman got the tattoo, Collman's father, John Neace, believes it was the work of inmates.

"If I had to guess, I'd say it's a statement from the inmates," he said Wednesday.

Neace said he heard about the tattoo from friends and has no idea if his late daughter's distant cousin, who also is serving time at Wabash, played any role.
Tattoos are against state prison regulations.

Larsen said he did not know how a picture of the tattoo that has appeared in some media reports was taken and distributed outside the prison, including being posted on the Internet.

Larsen said the results of the investigation would be turned over to the Indiana State Police.


Maternal Profiling

My comments follow the article...

Maternal Profiling
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Anita Dufalla, Post-Gazette

Since becoming a mom I now understand a lot of things about mothers that never seemed to make sense to me way back when. Like why my mom would stand at the end of the driveway when I rode off on my bike, or why she insisted on brushed hair and clean nails, or why she tended to be a stress case around the holidays. With four kids of my own, I get it, Mom. Promise. But there are some issues involving motherhood I don't understand at all, one I learned about just a few weeks ago.

At a special screening of an about-to-be-released documentary film called, "The Motherhood Manifesto," based on the book of the same name by Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, I happened on a little known fact about mothers in our state.

In Pennsylvania it is legal for employers to ask job applicants if they have kids or if they are married. The applicants' answers can determine if they are hired, or not, meaning they can be rejected not because of their qualifications but because of blanket perceptions about what having children (or not), or being married (or not) means. More often than not, these types of questions are directed at women, and tend to hurt mothers, especially single mothers.

The film features a woman named Kiki Peppard, from Effort, Pa., who, when she was new to our state 12 years ago, couldn't find a job in Pennsylvania, because, as she was told by numerous, would-be employers, she was a "single mom."

"I don't want to have to carry your kids' health benefits," was one reply Kiki got, when she asked an employer why it mattered if she had kids.

Kiki had excellent references, was a fast and accurate typist and never missed work, according to her former employers in Long Island, N.Y. But, in the Poconos, Kiki learned that none of her credentials mattered. After 19 interviews -- all starting with the questions, "Are you married? Do you have kids?" -- Kiki still did not have a job. Kiki and her daughter and her young son (who suffered from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) were forced onto welfare.

The more I thought about the film, the more worked up I got. How, in this day and age, could the people of Pennsylvania tolerate "maternal profiling?" The first person I called after seeing the film was Kiki.

"I asked other single moms, 'How do you get jobs?' and they would all say, 'Oh, I lie and say I don't have kids. That's how it works around here,' " Kiki said. "But three months go by, and it is time for benefits, these single moms are in a bad spot, because they lied in their interviews about their kids in the first place. The kids go on without health coverage. It is devastating. It happens all the time."

In New York, as in several other states, it is illegal to ask questions about marriage and family in a job interview, so Kiki had never faced those questions before, and she never had trouble finding work in New York.

"I am as mad today as I was 12 years ago," Kiki said. But Kiki didn't just fume, she took action. After calling the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission to complain, she was told that her experience in Pennsylvania was common, and legal. She also was told by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that marriage and family status are not protected federally either.

"What can I do then?" Kiki asked a representative of the Pennsylvania commission. "Get a law passed," he answered.

For six years Kiki struggled to get a lawmaker to sponsor legislation. She has spent six more years fighting to get it made into law.

The legislation, HB 352 and SB 440, would amend the 50-year-old Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, and make it illegal to ask "marital" or "familial" questions of job applicants. The bills remain stalled in committees.

Where is the massive, public outcry?

"There has not been an understanding or appreciation of how widespread this type of discrimination may be," state Sen. Jane Orie, R-McCandless, sponsor of SB 440, wrote me in an e-mail.

"Many believe that familial discrimination is currently illegal in Pennsylvania," Ms. Orie continued.

It's true, not one person I have talked to about this issue in the last month believed that asking an job applicant about married life or kids was legal in Pennsylvania, but, according to complaints lodged with the state and women's organizations, there are plenty of Pennsylvania employers out there who know their "rights" and take full advantage of them.

Homer Floyd, executive director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, is worried. "There are a lot of consequences to this kind of discrimination. Many women find it far more difficult to find quality health care for themselves and for their children. Many mothers can't get a good job that pays the kind of living wage that takes care of themselves and their kids. It is extremely important to have the law changed now and we do think this is very important," Mr. Floyd told me.

Why an employer would discriminate against a potential, qualified employee doesn't make sense to me, especially an employee who needs the work to support her kids and could, therefore, be that much more committed to her job and her productivity.

The "bottom line," it appears, is a key factor when employers discriminate against mothers, driven by a belief that health benefits (if there are any) could cost the employer more if a spouse doesn't have insurance or if the woman is single, or that mothers are less productive.

Could it be that these employers don't understand the nature of moms?

"Discriminating against a mother is disingenuous. Mothers are well known for their juggling skills, and, most of the time, can keep all their balls in the air," said Debra Levy, director of Mothers & More, a national association for mothers.

Another possibility is that some employers just don't accept that the world is different now.

"The model of a family living off the wage of one worker and one person at home is obsolete and is never coming back. It is a disorienting time for our country, but we have got to find a way to accommodate these changes," said Judith Stadtman Tucker, editor of Mothers Movement Online.

Stadtman Tucker says the time has come for businesses, and the nation, to make a leap of consciousness. "People call it the 'changing' work force," she pointed out, but, really, it is the "changed work force."

For businesses that embrace the new world of work, it can pay off.

Georgia Berner, a mother of four, took over the New Castle-based manufacturing company her husband ran when he was killed in a plane crash 22 years ago. Since then, Berner International has grown 600 percent, embracing a host of family-friendly policies that include health care, personal leave and flex time.

"We have a teamwork approach. Job performance goes up, efficiencies improve, mistakes occur less often, we work together to create a quality product, when we are committed to each other. The fear that having respect for employees' personal lives will lower the bottom line of a company is outmoded and irrational," Ms. Berner said.

"As for single mothers," Ms. Berner added, "The ones I know take their jobs very seriously."

As it turned out, in two of her job interviews, Kiki was not asked questions about marriage or kids, and in both cases Kiki was offered a job. She works today for one of those employers.

HB 352 (sponsored by state Rep. Craig Dally, R-Monroe County) and SB 440 must be passed by the end of November or the bills will die in committee. Ms. Orie told me she would re-introduce SB 440 if necessary, but how long can this go on?

Cindia Cameron, organizing director of 9to5, a national association for working women, said a lot of eyes are on Pennsylvania right now. As one of 28 states without protections against maternal profiling, the commonwealth could influence the rest of the country not only on job discrimination, but also on a host of other issues critical to mothers, such as child care, health care and family leave. "If this legislation passes, Pennsylvania has the potential to start a crucial chain reaction," Ms. Cameron said.

Kiki and her campaign represent two of the most important things I have come to understand about mothers: 1) They want to leave the world a little better than they found it, and 2) When mothers set their minds to something, they get it done.

It is up to all of us, not just moms, to get it done, to call our legislators and tell them that HB 352 and SB 440 need to become law because doing away with discrimination would make Pennsylvania better for everybody. And this would be a perfect time for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and his new Women's Commission to weigh in.

As long-time readers of my blog are well aware, I live in Oregon, not in Pennsylvania. Still, I believe this is an issue that affects all Americans, everywhere, and I urge voters in that state to contact their legislators and urge them to pass HB 352 and SB 440. I find it absolutely unconscionable that single mothers are being forced onto welfare in order to feed their kids; mothers who are more than willing and able to contribute positively to the workforce, but are being barred by maternal profiling. In the end, it is our tax dollars shouldering the misconceptions and outright bias of these employers who begin interviews with potential female employees with questions like "Do you have kids" and "Are you married," questions I highly doubt they are asking the male applicants. It is gender bias, plain and simple...and it should be illegal.

Pennsylanvia lawmakers: do the right thing. Help the mothers in your state provide for their children by passing these bills. Because it is abundantly clear that if you don't, you'll be providing for those kids through welfare instead...and robbing the state of a workforce that is both determined, capable and desperate to prove itself. Pass these bills. It's the right thing to do.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Checking In...

I know I haven't been blogging much here lately...and I do hope to change that soon. The weather has changed AGAIN and left me reeling from fatigue so bad I feel I can hardly get out of bed...and when I do get out of bed, I don't accomplish much else. All I can do is rest, and ride it out, and hope it ends soon.