Saturday, August 31, 2013

Super Sexy Saturday

Hot damn.  That aint your usual Lobo.

I like the usual Lobo.  I like testostorone fuelled sweary brawny spoiling for a fight Lobo.  I think this new one will suffer from having the same tone as the rest of the new 52.

But he sure is prettier.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Couch to 10k: Week 8, session 2

38 min. Run 3 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 7 times.

East recovery week my hairy arse.  I went out after work, like I said I would in the last blog post.  I don't know if it's because I last went out two days ago, or if I wasn't hydrated enough, or if I was a bit peckish, or because I'd been cycling a bit more than normal today, but this session was hard work.

The last easy recovery week (chronicled here, here and here) was much easier than this. Pox.  I've been persuading myself to keep going by reminding myself that week 4's recovery was dead simple.  Now it turns out it's not.  And because I'm out all Saturday and busy most of Sunday I'm going to have to do the final session for this week tomorrow after work.  Pox pox pox.


Then the first session of next week is really hardcore: 68 min. Run 10 minutes/walk 1 minute; Run 15 minutes/walk 1 minute. Run 20 minutes/walk 1 minute. Run 10 minutes.


And there was me on Tuesday thinking everything was fine and that I could possibly skip ahead a week or so.

Bugger that.

On the plus side, I am succeeding in raising money for the Abortion Support Network.  Total tally to date is: £49.50.  That's £27 from me, £18 in donations from lovely, lovely people and £4.50 in gift aid.

To everyone who has donated money - THANK YOU!  On those sessions which are difficult knowing that I'm getting funds to ASN really does help me keep going.  Thank you.

If you'd like to sponsor me you can do so here or give directly to ASN here.  The Abortion Support Network provide money to Irish women needing to travel to the UK for abortions.

Couch to 10k - Week 8 Session 1

54 min. Run 10 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 4 times. 

I’m writing this a couple of days after I did the run (on Tuesday) because my eyes have been a bit funny this week and I’ve wanted to stay off the computer.  As such I’m struggling a bit to think about how it went.  I ate some insects by mistake. I got chased/jumped at by a couple of dogs. I really wish people would keep their dogs under control.  Every time I freeze and look scared I’m told ‘it’s OK, he/she won’t bite’.  Yeah well I don’t know that, and to be honest, you the owner doesn’t really know that either.  When I was a small child a terrier bit me on my cheek and I had stitches, so I’m a bit skittish around boisterous dogs anyway.  I don’t mind them running alongside me, but I do get afeard when big ones jump at me, to face level, and bark.

As for the run, it felt comfortable.  I did the same route I did for week 7, session 1, as this is exactly the same running plan (10 mins/1 min), but this week I extended it a bit, as by the time I’d got the part of the route where I started my 5 minute cool down last week, this week I still had another 5 minutes of running to do.  So, I think that means I was faster this week – I was out for the same amount of time but I did a longer route.  If my maths is correct it means I'm faster, but heaven knows my mental arithmetic is awful so I could be wrong.

At one point of the route I decided to go uphill.  I had to stop after about 5 seconds and walk it, because I can’t do hills.  But I did do the full 10 minutes of running once I was at the top.

It’s not Thursday and I think I’ll go out again tonight.  I feel like I need to stretch my legs.  It will only be a 38 minute session so I think I’ll do that.

Total money raised: £48.50.  That's £26 from me, £18 in donations from lovely, lovely people and £4.50 in gift aid.

So here's the usual reminder: If you'd like to sponsor me you can do so here or give directly to ASN here.  The Abortion Support Network provide money to Irish women needing to travel to the UK for abortions.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Comics review - catch up

These will likely be three sentence reviews as I'm really behind and have to start cooking dinner in half an hour.. I will talk about:

Justice League America 7, Animal Man Annual, X-Men 3, Fearless Defenders 7, Princeless Tales of Girls Who Rock, Adventures of Superman 3, Resurrection Man 17, Supergirl Annual 2 (1997), Legion of Superheroes (5 years later), Demon Knights 23, Thor 11 and Fearless Defenders 8.

I'll never get these all written in half an hour...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Couch to 10k: week 7, session 3

52 min. Run 5 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 7 times.

As with last time I really didn't fancy going out.  I had a lot of internal grumbles about it but as soon as I got into the woodland and I smelt the trees and the wet earth I was happy.  It's funny how your mood changes.  You'd think I'd be excited about going out, knowing how good I feel when I start.

As I left the house I saw a grasshopper boinging across the pavement.  On my run I saw 2 dragonflies soaring across the path in front of me.  Two mating butterflies crashed into my hairline.  There were lots and lots of birds twittering.  It was lovely.

The ground was really quite muddy (we had a lot of rain yesterday morning) and I ended up with a load of dirt splattered over my calves.  Speaking of calves, I saw another runner with amazing looking calves who actually smiled at me.  Most runners I see are in their own world and ignore me.  Or perhaps I don't look cool enough.

There's one particular section I go through which is slightly downhill and every time I do that section I feel my flesh shaking.  My cheeks wobble and the flesh on my arms and the top of my bras wobbles.  It's not an unpleasant sensation, it's just unexpected.  Gravity is a wonderful thing.

In terms of my pace, I am still utterly slow.  One round was particularly torturous because it's uphill (although it's a very gentle up hill).  On the last round I decided I would try to go faster and pick my feet up some more.  I thought it would be easy, it wasn't.  I guess that's something to work on.

In total I ran for 35 minutes and walked for 19 minutes, for about 3.95 miles.  I think I need to get faster otherwise it's going to take me well over an hour to do a 10k. :(  I'd like to be able to do it in under an hour.  Is that possible?

Total money raised: £28.75

The usual reminder here: If you'd like to sponsor me you can do so here or give directly to ASN here.  Abortion Support Network provide money to Irish women needing to travel to the UK for abortions.  Here is their July/August newsletter:
  • ASN in the News
  • Showing us the money! Fundraising for ASN
  • The results are in! ASN’s supporter survey
  • A note on your donations
  • Women we’ve helped
  • Have some time and a flair for the social? ASN seeks two volunteers!
  • Gift in Kind – Have a phone to spare?
ASN in the news
It might be summer out there, but with the signing of the “Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act” in Ireland abortion has been front and centre in the news. ASN was asked to comment, and our director Mara Clarke predicted that the new legislation wouldn’t have any impact on the number of women who contact ASN each month, and pointed out that restrictions on abortion access do nothing to stop abortion:
The Guardian, 11 July 2013
Vice Magazine, 12 July 2013
The Week, 13 July 2013
Voice of Russia Radio (UK), 12 July 2013
12 July 2013
There was also a poignant commentary written by ASN phone coordinator Nick Beard, entitled “The debates on abortion in the Dail won’t change the reality Irish women face every day” published in The Journal on 16 July.
Showing us the money! Fundraising for ASN
Like the idea of running a marathon for ASN but not sure you can make it off the couch? The lovely Saranga is doing a couch-to-10k to raise money for us. Follow her progress – or donate – here
Big thanks to Kate Smurthwaite & ComedyDublin and to Bébhinn F and the crew at Dublin Nights for Choice who raised almost £900 for ASN at their two fundraisers in June!
Think you’d like to see if you could put the fun in fundraising? Check out our easy to use fundraising toolkit!
The results are in! ASN’s supporter survey
Thanks to the 178 of you who filled out ASN’s supporter survey! We will be using the results to help shape our plan as we move ASN forward. We were interested to find that:
  •  88% of the respondents identified as women
  • 42% were from the Republic of Ireland
  • 40% live in England
  • 68.5% of supporters have friends and family who know they support ASN
And, so far, our favourite answer to "Why do you support ASN?" was this:
“I am a limited income myself, and it's hard to know which charities will make the most of what I can afford to give. I choose ASN because I feel it's only through quirk of circumstance that the women you help have to go through what they do and I don't. What you do is real and immediate and I can see how vital it is to the women you help and as a tool of change. These are my sisters. Thank you for helping them.”
Thank you for helping us, not only to help women, but to help us learn more about us as an organisation!
A word about your donations
ASN has now been around for almost four years and in that time we have heard from more than 900 women seeking our help. It’s been amazing to see how far we’ve come – and with your support! We’re now entering a very exciting time of growth, in which we need to do all we can to ensure the long-term sustainability of ASN.
As a reader of this newsletter you know that the demand for ASN's services has been growing. We're glad the word is spreading about us and that more women who need us are reaching out - but as the number of women contacting us increases, so do our costs. With your support, we pride ourselves on helping as many women as possible. But to make sure we're able to keep helping women in need, some operational costs are necessary. 
From now on, we want to let you know that any donations you make to us will be considered "unrestricted" unless you tell us otherwise. This means we will allocate your donations to whatever is most needed at the time. That may be a last-minute flight for a woman in need, paying the phone bill to keep the helpline open, the fee for the accounting software that makes sure we're keeping track of every pound, euro or dollar, or an investment in a part-time staff member - the latter being another first for ASN! We always strive to keep our costs as low as possible - this just helps us to be more responsive to the needs of ASN throughout the year. If you have any questions about what this means for your donations, or you would like to restrict your donations, please contact us at Thank you so much for all your donations and support!
Women we’ve helped
In June and July, ASN heard from 65 women, including:
A young mother with mental health issues, who suffered severe physical complications problems after her last pregnancy and wanted information about

A foreign national living in Ireland with a pregnancy affected by fatal foetal anomalies. Initially booked into a clinic, she was unable to be seen there and had to be transferred to a private hospital for treatment. ASN was able to offer a grant towards the cost of the procedure and travel as well as provide her and her husband with a host for three nights.
A woman who attended an appointment at a clinic in England, only to find that her pregnancy was more advanced than she had thought and as a result, her abortion would be £600 more than she had planned for. ASN was able to support her with a £180 grant for the amount she was unable to cover.
A young woman whose partner has been increasingly violent towards her. She decided that her best option was to have an abortion but was struggling to get the funding together. ASN was able to help.
A couple whose pregnancy would not survive who made the choice to travel to England for a termination. In addition to the grief of having their wanted pregnancy end in catastrophe, this couple faced the added burdens of financial hardship, English as a second language, needing visas to travel and making child care arrangements for their young child. The client had this to say:
“It has been like I am in a room and I can't get out, I was locked in, and you have opened the window for me. Thank you very, very much for your support. I have spoken to so many people to try and get help.  I am very, very sad it is a very sad time for us, I will lose two babies. You have made my heart a bit happier. Thank you very, very much.”
A young mother of a child with a genetic disorder, who after becoming pregnant again travelled to England for an early medical abortion but was sent home as she was over the limit for this treatment. By the time she contacted us, her struggle to raise additional funds as well as purchase a second pair of plane tickets had pushed her into the most expensive gestation for termination. Through a herculean effort on her part she was able to raise £1000 towards her procedure and ASN was able to donate the rest.
And finally, we received this from one of the many women who we have informed about Women on Web, after she had used their service to access a safe, early medical abortion with pills:
"I never understood before how being able to have an abortion could be empowering, but now I do".
We thank these women and men for allowing us to share their stories. Also please note – all funds are written as GBP whether the clients are living in N or S Ireland.
Have some time and a flair for the social? ASN seeks two volunteers!
ASN is currently seeking two volunteers to help our fast growing organisation. 

Volunteer events coordinator
In this role you’ll be the first port of call for all queries from people who want to organise fundraisers for ASN. Whether it’s a pub quiz or running a marathon, you will work with ASN’s Director and Fundraising Team to signpost people to the ASN fundraising toolkit, send out ASN leaflets, help publicise fundraisers where appropriate, and proactively seek out fundraising events opportunities.  Experience with event management would be preferred, but most of all you need to be organised, committed to approx. two hours a week for a period of one year, and available by email and phone. Ideally you’ll also be within easy distance of London or Dublin.
Volunteer Facebooker
ASN is seeking one to two people to ensure ASN’s Facebook presence. In this role you will be responsible for sourcing and posting content as an Admin for the ASN Facebook page as well as increasing our number of “likes”. Experience with social media is required, and experience of Facebook analytics is a plus, but mostly we’re seeking a pro-choice, abortion activist news junkie with a flair for what might get people to subscribe to the ASN newsletter or become more active supporters.
If either of these roles sound like you, please email your CV and a few sentences about why you are interested to Please put “Events coordinator” or “Facebooker” in the subject line.
Gift in Kind – Have a phone to spare?
After many years of loyal service, ASN’s (donated by a volunteer) smart phone has bitten the dust. Do you have a trustworthy mobile you’d be able to donate to us? All we need is an unlocked phone that has phone, text, and email capabilities. We’re hoping that at least one of our supporters is a technology junkie with a phone going spare. Please get in touch if you do – and we promise to think of you every time a woman in need contacts ASN for help!
Thank you again for all your support. Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to provide financial assistance, accommodation and confidential, non-judgemental information to many women who have contacted us for support.

Super Silly Sunday - a note on housekeeping

Good grief who treats their house like this!  And why are Archangel and Bishop in action poses?  Why is Bobby icing up the stairs and not just running down them?

Fuck sake!   How is their house not ruined!

From a 90s Uncanny X-Men comic.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Couch to 10k: Week 7, session 2

40 min. Run 4 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 6 times.

I did this after session after work today.  I pushed myself and went faster than usual.  Consequently I was huffing and puffing a bit more. I was running for a total of 30 minutes (split into 4 minute rounds) which means I probably ran about 3 miles.  I am now pretty tired, which I put down to two things:
Pushing myself to go faster and take longer strides
Only having 1 day's rest between sessions

Once I'd got home from work I didn't really want to go out, but as soon as I was out in the woodland I felt happy about being there.  The smell of you outside is wonderful.  On my way round the woodland I scared about 5 blackbirds, within a 10foot stretch.  They just kept popping out from the undergrowth!  I also scared some bunnies.

And hey, I'm halfway through the training programme!  Go me!

If you'd like to sponsor me you can do so here or give directly to ASN here.  You can read about the work they do in their latest news bulletin, here.

Total money raised: £27.75

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Couch to 10k, Week 7, Session 1

54 min. Run 10 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 4 times. 

I was dreading this.  I put off the session until Wednesday, because on Tuesday morning my legs still felt tired from Saturday’s and Sunday’s exertions.  I then decided that I had better go out in the morning before work, rather than afterwards, as I would likely chicken out if I had the whole day to stew on it.

So I got up at 6am, had a slice of toast and a yogurt and was out of the house at 6.25am.

It wasn’t really worth worrying about.  The third round was quite hard, but there were a good few minutes of going up an incline in that one so I walked a few seconds of it.  I managed to not check my watch until about 5 to 7 minutes in for each round, which made it feel easier.  I worked out that it takes me 10 minutes to do one mile, which equates to a pace of 6 mile per hour.  It’s very slow, but I’m not bothered about being fast.  The first, second and fourth rounds felt OK.  I wasn’t huffing and puffing as much as I have been on previous training sessions, which must prove that I’m getting fitter.

I considered trying to push myself to go faster and/or take longer strides but decided against that.  This week’s training sessions are planned to be quite close together (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) so I don’t want to push myself too hard.  From next week (easy recovery week yeah!) I plan to get back into the Tuesday/Friday/Sunday sessions.  Week 6 left me all out of whack.  Hopefully by week 9 I’ll be able to push myself a bit more.

If you like reading about my progress please consider supporting me to complete the training by donating to the Abortion Support Network (ASN).  You do this in two ways:

Total raised so far: £26.75.

Why am I doing this?  ASN provide money to women needing to travel from Ireland (both the Republic and the North) to England to access an abortion.  Currently it is very, very difficult for women to access an abortion in Ireland which means travelling for the procedure is then only open to women with money.  That's not fair.

It strikes me that if you’re going to make abortions very difficult to get you should provide high quality sex education, free contraception for anyone is sexually active (no matter the age), fully paid, statutory maternity and paternity leave for at least the first year of the child’s life, state subsidised cheap childcare, a set of comprehensive benefits that don’t mean people have to live in poverty, and an effective adoption and foster care system.

Do any countries provide this?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Thoughts on Lughnasa

So I didn't celebrate much on the night, but since then I think I've appreciated the festival, or rather the time of year, more.

It's still hot in the daytime, yet by 8 o clock the temperature has noticeably dropped.  It's dark at 8.30, not 10.30.

There is lots of UK grown fruit around.  I've been stuffing myself on nectarines, raspberries, blackberries, cherries and apples.

I walk home and see sparrows flitting about.  I wake up in the morning and hear the bubbling of the goldfinches.  I heard an owl screeching around the house a couple of weeks ago.

It feels like Autumn is coming.  I am grateful for the last few weeks of summer but feel prepared for the seasons to come.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It's raining horse chestnuts

I witnessed something wonderful today.  I was walking home on my usual route, through a tiny woodland, and I heard something.  Dull thuds, repeated and repeated and repeated.  Pit-pat-pit-pat-pitpatpitpatpitpat.  Pit.  Pat.  Pit.  Pat. Pit-pat-pit-pat.

And so on.  I looked up to the trees and could see the branches shaking.  I saw a wing flapping.  It must be a bird, thought I, pecking about for seeds or some such.

Around me I could hear the continued, quite loud thud of things dropping from the canopy.  Looking up, I could see the branches shake and the leaves catch as the things tumbled down from on high.

I tried desperately to watch them as they fell, hoping to work out what they were.  I could see the signs of their fall, but it was difficult to catch them in the last few second of descent.

Eventually, I tracked a loud thud to the ground and marvelled at what I found: horse chestnut shells.  Not whole, but in pieces, after something had chewed through them.

I turned my gaze upwards, still thinking a bird had been at them.  Then I noticed a grey fluffy tail, curiously, it looked a touch red in the early evening sunlight.  It whizzed along the branches, led by a scurrying rodenty body.  As I continued watching, the leaves began that now familiar shake and the pit-pat-pi-pat-pit-pat started again.

It was no bird.  It was a squirrel, possibly two squirrels.  They must have been stripping the trees.  I was
there for a good fifteen minutes and the thudding of the shells paused for only a fraction of a second.

I picked up three shells.  One had a grey squirrel hair attached to it, now sadly lost.

I stood and watched and listened for another five minutes then continued my walk home.

The best end to an average day.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Couch to 10k: Week 6 session 2 and 3

Session 2 - 38 min. Run 3 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 7 times.
Session 3 - 50 min. Run 3 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 10 times.

You may remember last week that I said week 6, session 1 was really hard.  Well it was.  I intended to do session 2 on Thursday and session 3 on Sunday, but by Thursday I was still shattered so decided not to go out.  I didn't manage much on Tues/Wed/Thurs evenings, just made dinner and watched telly.  Then I was away with work on Friday so realised that if I wanted to finish this week and not repeat it, I had to go out Saturday and Sunday.  Argh.  That was daunting.  Here's my report:

Session 2 - 38 min. Run 3 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 7 times.
As I started running I felt like I had more power in my legs, more energy.  I guess this is because I'd had a 3 day break between sessions.  As I moved between the running and the walking parts of each round, I felt like the momentum from the running carried me through to a fast walk, and it was just a temporary breather that gave me just enough time to spring into action 60 seconds later to run again.

I was so caught up in it, in the ease of it it barely registered when I was in my last round.  Then something weird happened.  About 30 seconds in I got this rising sense of panic.  Like there was something clutched around my chest freaking me out.  I have no idea what this was, I've not had it before while running (although I can be an anxious person) and it was actually quite scary.  I ran through it and finished the 3 minute round, but although the feelings reduced when I stopped running, they didn't fully subside for about an hour.

Let's hope that doesn't happen again.

Session 3 - 50 min. Run 3 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 10 times.
Sunday morning I woke up feeling OK so decided I would do this last session.  The first round was hard but then I got into my stride.  I had no panicked feelings this session, which is good.  I did the whole session on the heath, rather than having to move to the roads, but that's primarily because I thought I'd go a new way.  My sense of direction has not improved much so I found myself doing a sort of lazy circle.  Ah well.

Regarding wildlife, I saw a really straggly juvenile rook, looking a bit like this but with less white, some brown bird bobbing about in the undergrowth, I want to say a thrush but I really do have no idea, and various insects.  I went out for a walk with a friend later that afternoon and we saw lots of old cobwebs strewn amongst the gorse, heard crickets and saw quite a few mainly-white butterflies.  Sadly I didn't get enough of a look at the butterflies to identify them.  None of the gorse was in flower, which is odd, because it does usually flower all year round.

Total raised: £25.75.
That includes £1 from me for session 2 and 3, plus £1 for the walk yesterday afternoon, plus a donation via MyDonate for 3.75 (including gift aid). Thank you thank you thank you!!

Please consider sponsoring me to do this training.  As my MyDonate profile says:

I'm learning to run! Follow my progress here:

I'm fundraising for the Abortion Support Network (ASN) because it's unethical to force someone to carry a child they don't want. When women don't have access to safe, legal abortions their mental and physical health is at risk and sometimes they die. In both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland abortion is very very restricted. Where abortion is nominally allowed, when the pregnant woman's life is at risk doctors are unclear as to what 'at risk' means.

Last year a woman suffering a miscarriage was denied an abortion and a week later died of septicaemia.

ASN provides money for travel and the abortion procedure in England, which can cost between £400 and £2000. Women are asked to raise as much as they can and ASN provide the rest. ASN have volunteer hosts who give women a place to stay and get them to the abortion clinic.

I'm donating a pound for every training session I complete. I'd like others to help me by also donating, whether it's per session or for a one off amount.

I've never run before. 5 weeks into the programme I can run a bit. I'm amazing myself. I'll amaze myself more if I can actually manage a 10k run.

Assuming I complete the training, I intend to enter a 10k race in mid October.

You can sponsor me through the MyDonate link given above, or give directly to the Abortion Support Network here:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Couch to 10k : Week 6 session 1

Session 1 - 52 min. Run 5 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 7 times.

This was hard. Really, really hard.

I did my 5 minute warm up walk, then realised I was at the bottom of a hill.  Decided to start running halfway up the hill.

Halfway through the wood I turned my ankle - I didn't sprain it or anything but it sort of buckled and I had to walk on it, not run, for the next few minutes till it stopped being tender.

Then I took more care and mostly ran on flat, easy pavement.

It was hard.  This is the first session I've run for 5 minutes at a time.  I got the hang of not checking my watch every minute, and just kept going for what felt like an inordinate amount of time, until about round 4 when each second felt like an age.

I finished the last running round a few seconds early.  I  had to spend a few seconds in one of the running rounds walking.

It was hard.

I didn't quite manage the full 4.5 mile route which means I'm slower than I thought.  Instead I did about 4 miles.

I came back cranky. I didn't feel invigorated, well exercised or like I'd achieved anything.  I nearly gave up.  I wanted to give up.

When I woke up this morning and walked down the stairs my knees and legs were complaining.

At least the next session is 3 mins running/1 min walking.  But next Tuesday I have to run for 10 minutes at a time.  That I am dreading.

Not much wildlife to report.  Only crickets, blackbirds and pigeons.

I'm using this training to fundraise for the Abortion Support Network (ASN).  I have set up a MyDonate page so you can sponsor me there or give directly to ASN.

PLEASE help me make this torture worthwhile.

15/08/2013 Edit:  I forgot to add in the running total!
Total raised: £22.75.  That includes the £1 from me for today's session, plus a donation via MyDonate for 3.75 (including gift aid). Thank you thank you thank you!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Abortion laws in Ireland

I was just dicking about on tumblr and I came across this post by Mara Clarke, founder of the Abortion Support Network, talking about the women they have helped.

I am furious and tearful about laws that have this affect on women.  Let me give you a few quotes, bolded parts are emphasised by me:

Making abortion against the law means that when faced with unplanned, unwanted pregnancies, women and families with money can choose whether or not to continue their pregnancies, and women and families without money are put into situations so desperate that some of them attempt suicide, or try to self abort.

he government is still dragging its feet on releasing the guidance on what constitutes a risk to the mother’s life TWENTY YEARS after the X Case.

Many of the women who call us believe that having an abortion is killing a baby and that they will burn in hell. They are still having an abortion.

The opposition talks about post abortion stress disorder – I’d like to talk about PRE abortion stress disorder, when a woman or a woman and her partner make the decision that they are not able to parent a child – or in the majority of cases – another child – and then see how much it’s going to cost. 

The limited funds we get from our fabulous donors needs to stretch as far as possible. So we ask women how much money they have, who they can borrow from, what bills they can delay. In the lead up to Christmas, we will be telling women to return Christmas presents for their existing children so that they can have money to pay for their abortions. 

And who were these women, forced by economic circumstance to call a complete stranger in another country and beg for money?
  • These women and girls ranged in age from 14 to 46
  • And while many of these women had partners who stood by their sides while they called us, we also heard “He wants nothing to do with it”, “He spit in my face”, “He said he was leaving me but if I had the abortion he’d paint ‘murderer’ on my house”
  • More than 200 were already mothers
  • At least 26 were in or escaping abusive relationships
  • At least six were living in shelters as refugees or asylums
  • At least 21 had serious mental health issues
  • At least six attempted suicide
  • 12 said they’d rather be dead than in this position
  • At least 4 tried to self abort
  • More than 10 delayed paying rent and faced eviction to raise funds
  • At least 4 had serious learning disabilities
  • More than 20 had serious health issues that pregnancy would compromise.
  • 11 had past pregnancies with serious complications and had been warned against future pregnancy
  • At least 10 had existing children with serious health issues and disabilities that would make it very difficult to care for an additional child
  • At least 15 had catastrophic foetal anomalies
  • At least 19 were pregnant as the result of rape

Irish law doesn't allow for abortion in situations of rape, incest or severe foetal abnormalities.  You just imagine that.

I am currently fundraising for ASN by doing the Couch to 10k running programme.  Please PLEASE consider donating some money to ASN.  Even just a few quid helps.

Couch to 10k: Week 5 Session 3

Session 3 - 42 min. Run 3 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 8 times.

Fundraising for @abortionsupport, one running session at a time!

This was a mixed session.  I got up this morning at 9.30am feeling pretty dog tired.  My legs felt tired and a wee bit achey when I woke up and it took me a little while to come round.  So I wasn't feeling too optimistic about the running session.  I eventually managed to go out at 11ish.

As usual, the 5 mins walk to warm up was fine.  When I started the first round of running I could feel a sort of, pinching I guess, in my knees.  But after a minute that feeling had gone away, so I'm not worrying about it.  My knees usually feel a bit odd at the start of each run but I think it's just that they aren't fully warmed up yet.

By the 3rd or 4th round, and on the last round, I felt that there were some moments where I had finally settled into my stride.  As if I'd found my long distance stride that would keep me going over the whole 10k race I've set myself to do.  Of course near as soon as I thought about it my stride changed, but what they hey.  Today was the first time I'd experienced that feeling.

By the time I'd got home and had 5 minutes sitting down my legs no loner ached like they did when I woke up.  That was surprising.

That was the good.

As for the bad.. At the end of one round, doing the walk, I wasn't paying attention to my stopwatch and ended up walking for 2 mins instead of 1.  Oops.  Then later I realised I really needed the toilet.  I am not someone who can squat behind a tree to wee, I think it's gross and unhygienic.  Thankfully (I suppose) I'd misjudged my route and was nearly home but had another 15/20 minutes or so to go.  So I nipped in the house to use my facilities then went straight out again.  This meant I wasn't running for a full 3 minutes on the penultimate round, instead I ran for 1 minute, nipped in the house, then ran for another 2 minutes.

I will leave it to you, my readers, to decide if this session counts as a full training session or not.

Speaking of routes, today's was 3.8 miles.  That's 6.11km which is sounds pretty good yeah?  OK so I clearly wasn't running the whole route, my timing was 24 minutes running and 24 minutes walking, but that's still pretty good yeah?  Given how I was practically at home at about the 30 minute mark I have since mapped out other routes for me that will fit the next few training sessions.

I guess I'm getting a bit faster at the running, and I'm getting to know my route a bit better because I'm getting better at judging times and distances.  I can more or less accurately guess when I've been running for a minute and a half, or for two minutes, and I know what 10 seconds worth or running paces feels like.  I think in the past I've been checking my stopwatch as a way of gauging where I am and how far I've gone, which makes no sense.  Time isn't the same as distance but when I feel a bit lost and unsure of the geography around me the only way to feel like I have a handle on things is to check my time. It's daft I know.

Anyway, I've mapped out my next route and it will be 4.5 miles.  In total I will be running for 35 minutes and walking for 17.  Or longer, if I've misunderstood my pace.

I didn't eat any insects today.  Hooray.

About the fundraising aspect...
Abortion Support Network (ASN) provide money to Irish women who need to travel to England for an abortion.  Abortion is very restricted in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, so if women require an abortion they need to travel and pay for the procedure.  This is expensive - between £400 to £2,000.  ASN are the only organisation (so far as they know) that provide grants to women to travel.
Although it is illegal to get an abortion in both parts of Ireland, it is entirely legal for women to travel elsewhere to get one, so don't worry, no one is breaking the law here.

Women need abortions for hundreds of different reasons.  Stories from the women ASN have helped are included in their monthly newsletters.  It's an eye-opening read.  Please, regardless of your views on abortion, go read those newsletters.

So I support them.  For every training session I complete I will donate £1 to ASN and I am asking my readers to sponsor me either by doing a one off donation or donating some money for each session that I complete.  You can find out how to donate to ASN here.

Total raised: £18

Thank you for reading.

Super Silly Sunday

Eating doesn't work that way y'all.

An 'emaciation' power is stupid.  I do like the inclusion of the skeleton in the top left of the image though.  I do not approve of the use of literally.  We know it's literal, because you;ve just described a real event.  You tosser.

From a 90s Uncanny X-Men comic.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Stuff that's been swimming around my brain for a while

I have come across tons of cool stuff lately so I'm going to dump them all in this blogpost.   Enjoy.

This video is my friend interpreting Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody into British Sign Language.  If you like, performances, Queen or BSL do yourself a favour and watch this.

Here's a story about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, which went into the Jaws movie.

Here's a graphic showing the sign language family tree.  It's not entirely up to date, Auslan (Australian  Sign Language isn't on there, for example) but it's a good start and probably useful for folk who don't know much about how sign languages develop.

Sci-fi women rock:

I'll end with a few turtle themed pictures:

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Couch to 10k: Week 5 Session 2

Session 2 - 34 min. Run 2 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 8 times. 

Hoo boy this was hard.  I was all enthusiastic but by the final round of running/walking I was tired and slow.  And I got a stitch, but only for a few seconds.  However, this session is essentially what I tried to do in session 1, which left me with such sore legs I couldn't bend down properly for a week.  I also only managed 6 and a half rounds in that session.

Today I managed it all and I haven't destroyed myself.  I suspect part of the reason for my tiredness was because I went to the gym yesterday - I did about 1.5 hours on the treadmill (walking) and the rowing machine.  I felt fine then.  But while running today it was clear that yesterday had taken something out of me.  I was going to head to the gym again on Sunday but now I am reconsidering.  Looking at the next few session plans (3 mins running/1 minute walking, 5 mins running/1 min walking) I don't want to jeopardise my progress by tiring myself out with regular gym sessions.

Although I am feeling apprehensive about the next 2 weeks worth of training, I am going to continue reminding myself that another easy recovery week is coming.  Judging by the last easy recovery week, I will be shattered right up to the penultimate session, then I will end up feeling a lot better and be raring to go again the following week.  However, I think I'll be doing week 7 and cursing all the running Gods I can think of.  But hey, that's where the fundraising acts as motivation right?!

As I run and walk I have tons of thoughts racing through my head.  Running does not make me calm or clear my mind.  I'm usually thinking about this blog and I usually forget everything half an hour after I got home.  Today I wrote down notes to remind myself for this blog. *proudface*

So today I was thinking about how I'd dearly love to take long strides, to be able to lollop along.  I take short strides.  I sort of pitter patter along and my legs don't go far.  I suspect this is due to two factors - 1) I'm still not very good at or used to running and I get tired.  2) Giant strides don't work very well on uneven ground when you don't want to trip up.  Perhaps when I do more road running my strides will lengthen.

I was also thinking about all the bugs that die in my mouth when I run.  I'm a vegetarian.  Eating insects isn't what I like doing.  However I can't breathe in through my nose as I wouldn't get enough oxygen (I am gasping for breath when I run).  Bugs aren't the wildlife experience I was hoping for when I started this programme.  Fortunately, I saw a Jay today and heard a lot of crickets.  That was nice.

Just a reminder that in order to encourage me to complete this darn programme, I am fundraising for the Abortion Support Network (ASN).  For every session I complete I will donate £1 to ASN.  I would also like to ask my readers to sponsor me, perhaps by donating some money for each session that I complete.  You can find out how to donate to ASN here.

Total raised: £17 (That includes £1 for today's training session and £1 for the gym session yesterday).

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Couch to 10k - Week 5, session1

Session 1 - 46 min. Run 3 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 9 times.

A quick reminder - in order to encourage me to do this I am seeking sponsorship, with funds going to the Abortion Support Network, who provide grants for Irish women to access abortions in England.  I am supporting them because women without access to safe, legal abortions get seriously hurt or die (the Dirty Dancing film portrays this quite well), and I do not believe it is ethical to force women to carry babies they don't want.

On to the run report..

I was quite apprehensive about this as it seems a round of running for 3 mins/walking for 1 min, repeating 9 times seems awful difficult.  As turned out, it wasn't too difficult.  I have renewed faith in this running programme.  But oh jeez I am bloody knackered now.

The 1 minute walks felt like brief momentary respites, but worked well enough.  I got a bit of a stitch at about 28 and a half minutes, which may or may not have had something to do with the fact I was running up a slight incline at the time.  I emphasise slight.  I live in the flatlands.  It's pathetic.  Me that is, not the scenery.

I feel very calm about the next two sessions for this week.  I think I'll do session 2 by running home from work.  I feel in control and like I could actually manage to run for 5 minutes at a go this time next week.  Isn't enthusiasm a wonderful thing?  I wonder how long my enthusiasm will last...!!!

Total money raised for ASN, including today's £1 donation: £15
If you would like to sponsor me and help me complete this programme please donate to ASN.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Comic reviews for weeks 18/25th July

Spoilers ahead for Hawkeye annual, Supergirl 22, He-man 4, Wonder Woman 22,  Justice League Dark 21, Justice League Dark 22, Justice league America 6, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man 24 (I think), Wolverine 7 (I think), Thor (can't remember the number), Animal Man 22, Larfleeze 2, Revival 12, Batman/Superman 2.
Whew that's a lot. I'm behind again. Onwards.
Hawkeye annual  - So we discussed this on Radio Bamf on Sunday, but technical problems meant that the recording didn’t go so well. Pox.  Anyway I wish I’d read this before the show because it turned out to be pretty good fun. It leads on from earlier issues – 4 and 5 I think, which I hadn’t read.  Which I think I’m happy about, otherwise the cover might have given the plot away, since it’s all about Madame Masque getting revenge on Kate Bishop.  As I didn’t know the context I found it delightfully slashy and i honestly thought they were going to jump into bed.  At least I did till it was revealed that Kate knew Masque wasn’t so sincere.  But hey, I have my dreams.

Supergirl 22 – Cyborg Superman shows up and has plans for Kara. Kara is not impressed.  Mahmud Asrar is no longer on interiors and his replacement is just not that great.  I didn’t particularly enjoy this.

He-man 4 – A friend who visited the shop with me bought me this.  She-ra is short haired, scarred in the face, and working for the bad guys.    She doesn’t know she is He-man’s sister.  He-man doens’t even know he has a sister.
It wasn’t bad, but I don’t quite understand why a property that was originally created for children, and is rather ridiculous in concept, has been revived and written for adults.*  Why not revive it as a children’s comic?  Why not come up with a brand new idea for adults?
*I do know why, it’s to cash in on the nostalgia market. Doesn’t mean I have to agree with it.
Wonder woman 22 – this has a wonderful soviet styled arty cover.  Inside it gets better. Wondy and her group are New Genesis, meeting the Highfather et al for the first time.  Highfather wants to take Zola’s child, Zeke, but Orion tricks him.  The best thing about this book is that Diana comes across as a leader.  It feels like she is the title character in the issue.  She makes the tough decisions, stands up to the Highfather and is generally reminiscent of the Wonder Woman from before the new 52.  This was a satisfying read.
Justice League Dark 21 – This was an impulse buy.  From what I recall, Xanadu is haunted by visions of the future, particularly a future romance with Deadman.  She tries to turn her back on all this.
Justice League Dark 22 and Justice League America 6 – I can't remember the details of these too well.  I know Green Arrow wasn't quite as Ollie-like as I'd wish, and Wonder Woman was far more Diana-like than I;d hoped for.  There was a lot of fighting and panic.  Hephaestus was in it and it made me think how talented the artist for Wonder Woman is, and how these new gods don't look right when someone else draws them.  Overall I enjoyed these two installments in the Trinity War story.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man – Gwen complains about Miles not being Spider-Man to Aunt May. There’s more Cloak and Dagger stuff.  Spider-woman visits Miles and begs him to put the suit on again.  Spider-Woman reveals she is clone of Peter Parker.  This is stupid.
Wolverine – Logan no longer has a healing factor and now has to come to terms with the fact he’ll die.  Blimey :o  I did not see that coming.  Having just finished my epic X-Men run I feel that this is quite  a godo time for me to jump into a Wolvie title.. whether I will or not remains to be seen.  Anyway, good work Paul Cornell.
Thor – The three Thors and their granddaughters are still alive, hooray!  And they are fighting back, hooray!  Gorr kills his wife for calling him godlike, so Gorr’s son betrays him and sides with the Thors.  Cor.  This is still nice epic stuff, but I doubt it’s a long term keeper.  When the Gorr plotline is over (I assume it will finish soon) I’ll flog the issues on ebay.  They are well worth reading but not quite of high enough quality for me to keep them forever and ever.
Animal Man 22 – This was twee yet gross.  Maxine is in the Red and as she’s the new avatar (?) of the Red it responds to her consciousness and remolds itself around her thoughts.  So it’s all twee and full of baby and mother animals and it’s got rolling hills and it looks like a child’s story.  But the fundamental nature of the Red and it’s purpose can’t change so the organ fields are still there – these are literally fields where organs are grown. Brains and stomachs and lungs etc.  That’s the gross part. Maxine finds these and decides to grow her dead brother, Cliff.  The problem is, without a soul it’s just a simulacrum.  A fleshy, squishy, floppy, gross simulacrum.  Maxine realises this and gets rather upset.  She’s not given up on her plan to hunt for Cliff’s soul though.  She will get him back!
Larfleeze 2 – Fun. Larfleez eis always fun.  The voices of all the characters are fun.  The situation is fun. The fight scenes are fun.  This is just all fun. Fun fun fun fun fun fun.
Revival 12 – This wasn’t fun. It’s a great read and it’s entirely different to the other comics on my pull list, but it’s not fun.  It’s grim and thoughtful.  I liked it a lot.
Batman/Superman 2 - This is just fabulous.  The art is gorgeous.  It's all gothic sillouhettes and moody stuff.  It's a really mature read, not mature like for adults, for complex and thoughtful.  It feels like the creators are really into the story and really care about what they are doing.  I loved it.   One panel made me tear up.  You should all be buying this.  It's great.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Couch to 10k: Week 4, session 3

Easy recovery week
Session 3 - 40 min. Run 2 minutes. Walk 3 minutes. Do this 6 times.

This was dead easy.  I feel a lot more relaxed about the next phase now. 

I felt a lot better, emotionally, after I'd gone out.  I originally intended to go to the gym after the run but I couldn't bear the thought of being inside with no natural light when it's so lovely outside.  So I stomped round the heath instead, bullying it into giving up it's geographical secrets.  I did that for 40 minutes.  I think I now understand the geography.  At least I did when I was going round.  I may have forgotten by Tuesday when I go out again.

The inside of my left ankle feels rather strange.  I don't know why.  I hope it won't be a problem.  My right knee also felt a bit weak when I started the first running bit, but that was soon fine.  My running shoes are great. I love them!

No wildlife to report this time.  I was too busy trying desperately to remember where I had been and where I was in relation to landmarks to look at the wildlife.  So instead, have a look at some wildflowers in my garden.  They bloomed just 2 days ago and have been covered in solitary bees since:

Total money raised for ASN: £14 (Today's contributions are £1 for the running session and £1 for the understanding-where-the-hell-I-am session)

If you'd like to help me finish this running programme please donate to ASN.  You don't have to tell me you've done it - I know abortion is a sensitive subject - but please do consider it.  ASN's newsletters give information about the women they've helped.  The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) provides information about abortion and Irish law.

Thank you for reading.

Super Silly Sunday

It's Scott.  Looking stupid.  It's almost mandatory to mock him.  And almost too easy.

It's from a 90s Uncanny X-Men comic.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Couch to 10k - Week 4, session 2

Fundraising for @abortionsupport.

Week 4, Easy Recovery week.
Session 2 - 30 min. Run 2 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 5 times.

It is an easy recovery week!  I did this on Thursday morning, before work (writing this on Saturday morning)  and although I was groggy and so it took me a while to get going, it wasn't hard at all.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still out of breath when I'm running and I couldn't talk while I'm running, but it felt fine.

In terms of wildlife I ran through several spider webs, saw various butterflies and a flock of blue tits, which was lovely.

My legs were still rather tired from the previous session, I usually leave 3 days not 2 between the first two sessions of the week, so I was nervous about how I'd cope, but it was actually fine.  Later that day and on the Friday my legs stopped feeling tired, which was great.  I even went to the gym for 2.5 hours on Friday after work and was fine.

I haven't been to the gym for about 6 weeks - I used to go 3 times a week for 1.5 hour sessions.  I'd walk on the treadmill for 35 - 40 minutes, then do the rowing machine for 15 - 20 minutes, then finish up on the cross trainer.  What with the hot weather we've been having and starting this running programme (new exercise is SO tiring) I haven't wanted to go, but on Thursday evening I was feeling really frustrated like I hadn't exercised enough.  So I went on Friday and walked out my fury.  It was great.

I will do the final easy recovery running session either today (Saturday) or tomorrow (Sunday).  I'm looking forward to it.  I'm also excited about starting the next stage of the programme - run 3 minutes. Walk 1 minute - which a week ago I was dreading!

Go me, I may yet become a runner!

Total money raised for ASN: £12 (£1 for the running session and £1 for the gym session)

If you'd like to help me finish this running programme please donate to ASN.  You don't have to tell me you've done it - I know abortion is a sensitive subject - but please do consider it.  ASN's newsletters give information about the women they've helped.  The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) provides information about abortion and Irish law.

Thank you for reading.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Couch to 10k - week 4, session 1

The Easy Recovery week
Week 4, Session 1 - 40 min. Run 3 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 6 times

Hooray an easy recovery week!    It doesn't look like it will be easy, this is the same routine that I did on Sunday.  But, it wasn't bad.  I did it all, and it wasn't as difficult as I’d thought.

Monday and Tuesday I was shattered, and Tuesday I was in a really foul mood so spend most of the afternoon eating.  This worked out OK as I wasn’t hungry when I went out.  I figured out a route, but got to the furthest point sooner than expected so had to be a bit more creative on the way back.
For 3 of the running parts I paused midway through, twice to cross a road and the third time because I bumped into my boss, who does a lot of running.  But I did the full 3 minutes of running each time, and perhaps a bit over.

My internal clock is still broken.  I have no concept of time so find myself constantly checking my wristwatch to see how many minutes I’ve done and check when the run and walk.  I hope I get a sense of time because otherwise the 10 minute and 50 minute runs will be awful.

On previous sessions I have got home and found myself feeling invigorated.  This time, I came home relaxed and in a far better mood.  Colleagues have talked about the concept of a good run, being able to feel whether your run is good or not.  I think I might be understanding what they mean.

In terms of wildlife, I saw rabbits, a blackbird and I think a thrush.  I have no idea if it was a song thrush or mistle thrush though.  I saw no butterflies – the rain must have made them all hide.

I’m still not convinced I’ll be able to run 10 minutes without stopping, let alone 60 minutes, but we’ll see.  So far it’s not been anywhere near as hard as the first session was.

Are you enjoying these posts?  If so, please remember that to get me through this darned programme I am fundraising for the Abortion SupportNetwork (ASN), who provide money to Irish women travelling to England to get an abortion, as legal abortion is incredibly restricted in both the Republic or Ireland and Northern Ireland.

I have committed to give £1 per session that I complete.  If you would like to sponsor me you can find information on how to donate to ASN here.

Total raised: £10.