Archive for the ‘Doing Good’ Category

Delta Airs Anti-Vax Advertisement

November 4, 2011

I haz a sad.

I like flying Delta. There’s a huge hub here in Minneapolis. I have the Delta SkyMiles card so I can rack up points and fly places for free (well, freeish, but that’s another post), and I’ve generally had very good experiences on Delta flights.

So, I was sad when I saw this in my Twitter stream yesterday:

It turns out that Delta and In-Flight Media are presenting a nearly three-minute ad that trivializes the flu and tells the audience that:

  1. You don’t have to worry about preventing the flu – FALSE.
  2. Most illnesses that present with flu-like symptoms are not the flu – TRUE.
  3. Washing your hands is a good way to help you stay healthy. – TRUE.
  4. Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze is a good way to minimize spreading germs – TRUE.
  5. Drink water to keep your body hydrated – TRUE.
  6. Get the right amount of sleep and reduce stress levels to decrease your chances of getting sick – PROBABLY TRUE.
  7. Vitamin C and D – found in nutritious food  – are effective, natural preventatives – FALSE.
  8. Regular exercise helps keep your immune system strong. – TRUE.
  9. The flu shot is an option. Research the different types of flu vaccines your doctor may recommend. SURE, WHY NOT?

Who would advocate against being an informed consumer? I applaud people who are willing to research their health care options. But, when considering the source (psst – it’s one of the country’s biggest anti-vaccine organizations), and considering the place that they direct you to research flu vaccines (psst – It’s their hugely anti-vaccine propogranda-laden website filled with misinformation about all sorts of vaccines), the little alarm bells in your head should start to ring, buzz, sing, or talk – whichever you’ve got your alarm set to.

Elyse Anders – the president of the  Women Thinking Free Foundation and driver behind the Hug Me I’m Vaccinated Campaign brought this story to my attention via her article on Elyse has a list of things that you can do to help protest to Delta and the associated organizations that are allowing this ad to run.

  1. Sign the CHANGE.ORG petition. Add your name to those of us who would like Delta to remove the advertisement. works, and it’s an easy way to make your voice heard.
  2. Tweet: “#fludelta @DeltaAssist @Delta If you’re so concerned about safety, stop running potentially deadly anti-vaccine ads
  3. Facebook/YouTube: Add your comments about the video here. The content has been removed from Facebook, but you can still see it on YouTube. The owner, In-Flight Media, has disabled commenting, but you can still downrate it.
  4. Share Elyse’s post on Facebook and Twitter.
  5. Tell your friends and family about the campaign and get them involved!

The last time Elyse was involved in a campaign against vaccine misinformation advertisements by this group placed in Times Square, the ads were pulled. With all of our help, hopefully we can make it happen again!


Academic Animal Dissection, FY!

October 17, 2011

This morning I saw one of my Facebook Friends showing off a t-shirt that really annoyed me:

Image shows a cartoon frog with the words “cut class, not frogs!” and “Don’t dissect.” “peta2”

Of course it’s a PETA shirt, which is one mark against it, but it’s the joyous anti-intellectualism of the message that first slapped me in the face. The cutesy message about cutting class makes me want to take a shower. Remember this summer’s marketing disaster for  JCPenny –  the “I’m too pretty to do my homework so my brother has to do it for me” t-shirt? Same sort of thing, but more gender-inclusive; Everyone can be anti-learning with this shirt! 

I’m making a lot of assumptions in these next couple of sentences, but they’ve held true in my experience. Don’t skip class – you miss out on interesting, important information. I’ve found that when I skipped classes, it was harder to grasp the big picture, and so the subject seemed more out of my grasp. Once this downward spiral starts, it’s easy to just pretend that the material is boring or irrelevant because you’re missing an entire hour’s worth (at least) of facts or information! Also, whatever you’ve missed is probably going to be on the test, and you’ll feel a lot less stressed and like more of a superstar if you do well on the test…you know, rather than failing it.

Second – do dissections! It’s not gross, it’s not weird, it’s cool as hell! You are looking at the internal workings of the machinery that drives a living being! The National Science Teacher’s Association supports animal dissection and believes that it can help students develop skills of observation and comparison, discover the shared and unique structures and processes of specific organisms, and develop a greater appreciation for the complexity of life.

The wet lab portions of my high-school and college A&P classes were amazing! Seeing how fine the nerves were, how intricate the cardiovascular system, with all of the tubes going into and out of the heart and through the lungs, and understanding how long the small and large intestines really were as they moved through my gloved hands for a length of time that seemed to go on forever – these experiences fueled my interest in anatomy and inspired me to ask questions in ways that I doubt a computer program would have. So much of what we do these days is digital, and I suspect performing a necropsy on a computer screen would be just another game for me.

So, I was feeling a little grumpy about the “cut class, not frogs” shirt. But this morning on Twitter I found a perfect way to raise my spirits. A teacher at Gaffney High School in Gaffney, South Carolina is requesting donations to help fund dissections in her classroom:

My Anatomy and Physiology students attend a high poverty school that has limited resources and monies available. They are juniors or seniors who have identified their career path to be in the health science field. Some have set goals to be lab technicians while others strive for their doctorates. All of them want to learn and are interested in the structure and function of the human body. We have an enormous amount of fun learning and utilizing the limited resources we have.

My Project: Future nurses, health care professionals, and doctors will be inspired to pursue their dreams by having hands on experience with preserved specimen dissections. Dissection tool kits, virtual dissection tutorials, and basic specimens of sheep eyes, hearts, and brains will create a curiosity of the structure and function of the human body that will last a lifetime.

Science is a difficult and intimidating subject to many teenagers. My goal is to remove these obstacles by providing lessons that motivate my students to learn and strive for a college degree. Hands on activities and labs are the pathway to see my students excel not only in science, but also in their life.

If you can spare $5 (or a few $5!) and you’re feeling sentimental about your old frog dissection days, why not stop by her website and help out? At the time of this posting, Mrs. Greene is only $109 away from meeting her goal.

foursquaring for Vaccines

September 20, 2011

I use foursquare, which is part online game, part social media, part easy advertising for businesses. When I visit a place and “check in” I tell the world or just my circle of foursquare friends that I’m there, or that I’ve been there. foursquare seems to be great for local businesses – they can offer specials for checking in once (“show a cashier that you checked in and get $5 off your total at check out”), or offer loyalty programs (“check in here three times and receive a free Margarita”). foursquare is free for users, it’s a way for local businesses to advertise to their target market, and there’s a silly point program so you can compete with friends. From what I understand it’s similar to Facebook’s Places, but I don’t use Places, so I’m not sure how accurate the comparison is.

I’ve used foursquare to tell my friends when I’m visiting somewhere extremely cool or out of the ordinary (It was fun to tweet via foursquare that I was “checking in” to the sky deck of the Seattle Space Needle last month), and to get good deals ($5 mojitos at Stella’s Fish Cafe!). But yesterday I used it to SAVE LIVES!

I stopped at a Walgreens in South Minneapolis last night, and when I opened up Foursquare I was interested to see that Walgreens was offering a special. I stop at that particular store pretty often, but had never before seen them offer a special. I opened the tab and saw this:

I went online to learn more about the offer, and it turns out that through October 8th, Walgreens will donate one flu shot voucher for every valid foursquare or Facebook Places check-in. And you can go onto their Facebook page to vote for one of five groups that will receive a percentage of the flu shot vouchers (the organizations are Feeding America, the National Urban League, AmeriCares, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the American Diabetes Association).

How cool is that!? I love technology. And corporate giving. And vaccines. Win!

Dining Out for Life

April 27, 2011

Dining Out for Life Minnesota is tomorrow – Thursday, April 28th.

Go out to any one of a gazillion and ten participating restaurants, and the restaurant donates a portion of your food bill to The Aliveness Project, a local nonprofit agency which each year serves one out of four people living with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota. The Aliveness Project offers an on-site hot meals program, food shelf, integrative therapies, case management, holiday baskets, HIV educational services.

I’m getting up early to have breakfast at Anodyne Coffeehouse in South Minneapolis before going in to work.

And for dinner I’m going to Joe’s Garage in Loring Park with a bunch of friends.

There’s an entire list of restaurants throughout Minnesota that are participating in Dining Out for Life.

Where are you eating?

Winner of the FWP Contest Announced

January 13, 2011

Congratulations to MADELINE for gathering the most votes for her Butt-Sushi Dilemma in the First World Problems Contest against four other very humorous stories!

Madeline is the winner of a shiny new $25 gift certificate!

Thanks to everyone who contributed a FWP and to everyone who stopped by to vote.  You guys are awesome – it rawked my world to see all the activity here at Biodork over the past week.

First World Problems Poll

January 10, 2011

The First World Problems Contest is closed!

Awesome FWP comic from the awesome website Sticky Comics

I am happy to announce that I have narrowed the entries down to my top five favorites – which was a lot more difficult that I thought it would be (<— FWP?).

There were 16 unique entries by 14 commenters.  That’s great!  Thank you to everyone who stopped by, and an extra big YOU RAWK! to all of you who put your odd, humorous, wry, thoughtful and ultimately human First World Problems out there for the entire world to see (the infinitesimal segment of the world that visits this blog, anyway).

Below I’ve copied the finalists’ stories as they were posted in the comments.  After reading through them I invite you to cast a vote in the poll at the bottom of the page.

Please only one vote per person, but feel free to refer friends to vote for you here.  The poll will close at 8pm on Wednesday evening.  The entry that receives the most votes by that time will win the $25 gift certificate!

Happy Voting!

First World Problems Finalists

Madeline – Butt-Sushi or Panini?

Today, in the well-stocked cafeteria at my comfortable, well-paying job, someone took the sushi I wanted just seconds before I got there! It was either the butt-sushi that was left, or a panini for me!

Michelle – Carl Kassell Withdrawl

My iPod tragically went missing just before Christmas. Despite searching the car, house, and nearby snowbanks, it remains MIA.

Yes, I still have CDs (I love my albums). Yes, I can still listen to my Macbook at home.

But I can’t get my Wait, Wait – Don’t Tell Me! podcast fix in my car.

Life without Carl Kassell. #firstworldproblems

Erratapage – Diet Coke Dilemma

The worst day of last year began quite simply. I was out of diet coke. No problem. I had to get some gas, so I took the car up to St. Francis to fill up and buy diet coke. Got to the C-store, and they had no cold cans of diet coke. I went back home and got dressed, and got back in the car to go into the office. I stopped at the C-store in Anoka for a donut and a diet coke. There were no cold cans of diet coke. At this point, I’m wondering if I’m going to have to settle for a cold bottle or if I’m going to have to buy a warm 12-pack. I get back in the car and drive to work, stopping at the local stop and rob near my office so that I don’t go to work under caffeinated. I go to the refrigerated coolers, and start looking for the diet coke cans. They were out. I showed up at the office with a 20-ounce bottle significantly unhappier than I had a right to.

Ela Darling – Too Tired to be Adored

My first world problem: my head hurts because too many people bought me drinks last night and I had to wake up at 6:00 to get ready for the Adult Entertainment Expo. I didn’t want to leave the warm white cocoon of my comped hotel room to be coiffed and made up and styled and dressed to spend the day signing things for horny porn fans.

bill – Bananas: Under-ripe/Over-ripe

I like to have a banana every day and they only grow commercially 4000 miles away, so I have to buy them at the grocery store. When I buy them, they aren’t ripe enough to my liking for the first two days. Then they are perfect for about 4 days. Then they are overripe. But I buy them in bunches of 6 or 7. So some of every bunch, I have to eat either too ripe or too green.

First World Problems Contest

January 6, 2011

We are so lucky and have so much.

I, personally, have lived a charmed life.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have problems and complaints, but I’d say my frustrations are pretty minor.

For instance, this morning I stepped in cat vomit as I was getting ready for work.  While untimely and disgusting, stepping in cat upchuck hasn’t damaged me in any apparent permanent manner.  When it happened I had instant access to water and soap to wash my foot, a clean pair of socks, and a designated rag, scrubby brush and special carpet cleaner to make the watery, hairball-filled, partially-digested food mess disappear.

Then there are the frustrating, petty experiences that I can’t complain about, because to do so would would make me look like total a total asshole.  Like my annoyance this morning at having to settle for a Cherry slushie because the regular Coke slushie machine was broken.  What asshole would even put a “problem” like that in print?  Oh…

A broken slushie machine is an example of a First World Problem.

Urban Dictionary defines First World Problems as “Problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders would probably roll their eyes at.”

Aw, crap, I don’t know which 1 carat diamond encrusted platinum ring to buy!

In my far from exhaustive Bing search I found several websites that catalog examples of First World Problems, a Facebook site, and a Twitter hashtag devoted to these usually intentionally funny anecdotes of the issues that nag at those of us living relatively high on the hog.

As human beings we tend to get wrapped up in ourselves, but we also know that somewhere someone else has it harder than us.  The thing that I like about highlighting our First World Problems is that it illustrates just how silly we can get about our day-to-day experiences, and it serves to remind me that there are bigger problems to address.

So let’s address them – at least in a small way – and have a good laugh at ourselves in the meantime.

I introduce to you, my dear readers:

The First World Problems Contest!

Here’s how it works:

  1. In the blog comments post a First World Problem (FWP) that is plaguing your day.
  2. At the end of the contest I will compile all of the entries and create a poll of my favorite 5-10 FWPs.
  3. YOU, the readers, will have to opportunity to to vote for your favorite FWP.  The submission with the most votes wins.
  4. I will email the winner a $25 Kiva gift certificate! is a microlending website that allows individuals to loan money to low-income entrepeneurs from all over the world.  You go to the website, browse the small business owners or groups who are seeking funds and then you lend your $25 to someone who wants to put it to good use.  The business owner repays the loan over time (if all goes as planned), then you can choose to roll your returned investment into another loan!

The Hubby and I participate in Kiva.  We enjoy learning about the work that others are doing in different parts of the world, and it feels good to be a part of an organization that is getting these entrepeneurs the funds they need to help their businesses grow.

Contest Details and Guidelines

  • Comments are open NOW.  Entries will be closed at 8pm (+/- a few minutes) central time on Sunday (1/9/11).
  • On Monday I will post the poll with my favorite FWPs.  The poll will be open until 8pm (+/- a few minutes) central time Wednesday (1/12/11).   I will tally your votes and announce the winner on Thursday.
  • The Kiva gift certificate will be delivered to the winner by email.
  • Anyone can post, and you can enter as many times as you like, but my top favorite entries will not include multiple submissions from any one contributor.
  • If the winner does not wish to claim the Kiva gift certificate, the contributer with the next greatest number of votes will have the option to accept it.  And so on.

I think that’s it.  Disclaimers…hmmm…I’m sponsoring this contest all on my own. is not involved with this blog.  Once you get the gift certificate, we’re done  – don’t get mad at me if you lose your $25 investment.  I recommend understanding how the lending process works before you get started.  (Kiva’s About sections and Terms and Conditions are a good place to begin)

Thanks in advance to everyone for visiting my blog and for participating in the First World Problems Contest!

Hot Head, Cool Landlord

December 7, 2010


I’ve had an icky cold for the past couple of days.  I thought I had gone through the worst of it by last Friday, but it came back with a vengeance on Sunday.  Or maybe it’s a new cold; I don’t know.  So I haven’t been real motivated to put a lot of thought into blogging.  I mean really, what’s to tell?  On Friday I hacked up a lung, on Saturday I went to Walgreens for more NyQuil.  There, that pretty much sums up the last couple of days.

Sketch by

I did get to see some friends at a couple of holiday fundraisers this weekend.  The Saturday fundraiser was fun, but by Sunday evening my head felt like a big, empty balloon. I had to preface every conversation with “I’m getting over a cold, don’t get too near to me!”

That’s always a popular phrase at parties.

But they had medicinal whiskey for me, so I made it through.  I’m a trooper.


I actually made it to work on Monday, but only for half a day. Between the hacking and the nose-blowing and the resulting disgusted looks from my coworkers, I finally slinked out of the office around 1pm.  I went home and slept for a while, and my one big contribution to the human race was taking the trash out later that evening.


To end my fabulous day I discovered that my apartment’s towing company had kidnapped my car from the six-spot parking lot sometime during the evening.  Apparently they didn’t see my parking pass AND didn’t recognize my car, so they towed me.  I mean, I’ve only been parking there for 5+ years, and to be fair, my car is fairly non-descript:

You wouldn’t remember seeing that bumper every day for however long you’ve been patrolling the lot, right?  Criminy, it’s only a six-car lot!  It’s not like you have to memorize the Blue Book to remember who parks here!

It was around 9:30pm when I called them to confirm that they had indeed towed my car.  I wanted to come in and get it right away, but they made me schedule an after-hours appointment to pick up my car at 11pm. Seriously, doesn’t that sound like “Gee, I’m right in the middle of this basketball game, doll.  Can you wait?”  I hung out with some nice night-owl friends for a while and then made my way over to the impound lot.  The owner was there when I arrived at 10:55pm, and after producing copies of my title, insurance and valid driver’s license, he brought my car around.  When I opened my car, my parking pass – which I had placed in the passenger-side dash – was on the floor of the passenger side.  I maintain that it slide off during the tow, the driver swore it wasn’t on the dash when he doubleANDtriple checked for it.  I ended up paying $275 to get my car back.

I am happy to report that I behaved in a fairly calm, rational manner during the whole “How about I tow your car far, far away, then you give me lots of money to give it back to you” game.  The only time I was…brusque…was when I gave the guy $280 for the $275 fee, he looked through his wallet and then pronounced that he didn’t have change.  He gave me the single that he had with him and told me, “It is what it is.  We don’t keep change on hand after-hours.”  Srsly?  I turned my back on him and walked away at that point.  He did offer to give me the last $4 if I wanted to drive back to the impound lot on the next day.  Did I mention that the garage is in Bumbledink, Nowhere?  Jackass.  I would have to spend $4 in gas just to get out there and back.

So today I called my SuperHero LandLord, Dan.  Dan really is awesome.  All of his renters have direct access to his cell phone – how cool is that?  Dan has been known to replace carpeting and appliances within days of a request.  When renters move out he contracts to have the unit sparkle-cleaned from top-to-bottom, and before you move in he’ll paint the walls whatever color you like.  He recently put wood flooring in at a new renter’s request!  Last summer he ripped up all the old asphalt in the crumbling parking lot and replaced it with concrete.  I mean, this is just a run-of-the-mill nine-unit apartment building located in an okay part of south Minneapolis.  I’d guess most of us make low-middle to middle class incomes.  It ain’t the Ritz, is what I’m saying, but he treats his renters and the building really well.

So I called Dan about the towing sitch.  Dan employs the company to make sure non-renters aren’t using the parking lot, but after I laid out the events of the night he must have felt that I had a case.  I did tell him that I would no longer feel safe parking in the lot if the company was going to be towing cars with properly displayed passes with only a “I didn’t see one when I look so I towed it” mentality.

So he fixed it.  He MORE than fixed it.  My SuperHero LandLord Dan is crediting me the $275 on next month’s rent AND he negotiated a procedural change to with the towing company: They are going to register all renters’ cars so the driver’s don’t have to rely solely on visual verification of a properly displayed pass.  Hooray SuperHero LandLord Dan!  I have a feeling Santa is going to be very good to him this season.

I would like to give My SuperHero LandLord Dan a huge ticker tape parade like this one that John Glenn received for his historic space flight in the Mercury-Atlas 6 space mission, but I’ll probably just send him a really nice Christmas card and a kick-ass box of Godiva chocolates or something.

Local Books and Food

June 25, 2010

I don’t always read the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Metro section because it has a tendency to be depressing.  It seems like a lot of the stories are about local people involved in drunk driving crashes, child abuse cases, murders, robberies, scandals,  etc.  Yeah – go neighbors!

However, yesterday’s Metro had two inspiring stories – one on the James J. Hill Library in St. Paul, and the other about EBT being used at the Midtown Farmer’s Market in Minneapolis.

In the James J. Hill Library story, author Jean Hopfensperger introduces us to the James J. Hill library.  For some of her readers I’m sure it was a re-introduction, but I had never heard of the JJH Library in St. Paul.  And I love libraries!  Especially old libraries with leather chairs and lots of wood and marble accents like JJH Library has.  Look at how gorgeous this library is (source):


The library’s board of directors is renting out the space for conferences, music and art exhibits and weddings.  I found these pics in a google image search – gorgeous!

I can’t wait to get over to St. Paul and check this place out!


The other article was by Gail Rosenblum and it was all about the Midtown Farmer’s Market, located by the intersection of Lake Street and Hiawatha in south Minneapolis, and “Market Bucks” available for users of EBT.  EBT is what they used to call “food stamps”.  The USDA defines EBT as “an electronic system that allows a recipient to authorize transfer of their government benefits from a Federal account to a retailer account to pay for products received.”

So low income families can go to Minneapolis Farmers’ Markets and use their EBT to buy groceries, just like they can at most retail grocers.  The Minneapolis and Northeast Farmers’ Markets also accept EBT, but Midtown is offering an additional benefit: For the first $5 spent in EBT, a user will be given $5 additional “Market Bucks” that they can use to purchase additional food!  The program isn’t funded by taxpayer money, but by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.  From the article:

Blue Cross is funding the Market Bucks pilot, using proceeds from its 1998 Big Tobacco settlement. The effort is one of many created by Blue Cross (think “Do” campaign) to get all Minnesotans to eat better and fight rising obesity rates.

I think this is an excellent use of Big Tobacco money!

I mentor a teenager whose mother uses EBT.  One time several months ago I offered to take her to the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market on Lyndale and she told me that she didn’t have the money to shop there.  I can’t wait to tell her – I hope it will give her an opportunity to enjoy the Market and have a unique shopping option.

The vegetable photo above is not from the Midtown Market, but I thought it was a very pretty composition and it does resemble the open air atmosphere of Midtown.

Meet Dr. Hawa Abdi

May 13, 2010

The Daily Beast via Skepchick:

Terrorists Kidnapp a Hero: Militants are holding the Mother Teresa of Somalia hostage, and as a result, dozens of children have already died. Eliza Griswold talks to Dr. Hawa Abdi from the home where she is being held captive.

This story has it all – subjugation of women, religious extremism, needless deaths of innocents, and one bad-ass female doctor.  For pete’s sake!  If you need your daily dose of indignation, I highly recommend this article.

Dr. Abdi is awesome: She’s a 60 year-old Somali gynecologist who built up a one-room clinic into a 400-bed hospital, she shelters refugees on the hospital grounds, and she gives everything she has to feeding the hungry and to obtain staff and medicine from international aid groups.  And now she’s back-sassing the militant extremists who are holding her and her staff under house arrest.


photo source

Somalia Online has more information on Dr. Hawa Abdi and her accomplishments in Somalia.