Category Archives: Senior Year

A Not-So-Secret Love: My Favorite Korean Dramas

It’s a not-so-secret fact that I love Korean dramas. Given the opportunity to watch an American TV show or a Korean drama, I will pick the Korean one almost every time. I like the storylines that wrap up in 16 or 20 episodes, the general lack of swearing and sex, the glimpse of another culture and the feel of a new language.  I like the strangely obsessive but endearing community that develops around the plots. Korean dramas open up another world within my world; they provide entertainment, yet also express an ethos beyond my familiar Western culture.

 Your favorite stories express something about you. I have predominantly focused on my favorite books.  However, the time has come to announce to the world (or at least my blog readers)….

I really, really like Korean dramas.

Here are my Favorite Dramas* (in descending order)**

Cyrano

9. Dating Agency: Cyrano
Episodes: 16
Plot: The Cyrano Agency provides dating advice and assistance for people with hopeless crushes. They feed lines, arrange meetings, and make true love happen. The leader of the group is a Realist. His latest hire, and the only female member, is a Romantic. Predictable conflict ensues!
I really enjoyed the 2010 movie Cyrano Agency and this drama functions as a “prequel.” Each episode follows a new couple helped by the agency.  In some ways, this show is entirely cheesy and the hero isn’t my favorite. However, the storyline kept me hooked and secondary characters made up for an awkward main couple.

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Monstar 2

8. Monstar
Episodes: 12
Plot: When a pop star gets suspended from his band for anger issues, he enrolls in school to change his image. While there he collects a group of musically gifted underdogs around him and together they challenge the school’s musical elites.
High school musicals are nothing unique, but Monstar’s beautiful soundtrack and realistic, psychological portrayal of bullying, abandonment, and hope stole my heart. A very talented group of actors make this comparatively brief drama worth the time.

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Heirs

7. Heirs
Episodes: 20

Plot: A young woman (“the heir to poverty”) follows her sister to the United States from Korea in hopes of a better life but finds herself worse off. During her time in the US, she meets a young man who is the heir to a large conglomeration and part of the top 1% of Korean society. The drama follows their romance and the “friendships, rivalries, and love lives” of the other heirs of Korea’s elite.
Some of my favorite actors (and actresses!) play main characters in this drama. It is hard to summarize because of the many intertwining subplots, but Heirs represents a recent development in K-dramas emphasizing character psychology. Watch it for the bromance, the ugly sweaters, or just plain Lee Min Ho. I think the drama lived up to the hubbub surrounding it.

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Sly and Single Again

6. Sly and Single Again
Episodes: 16

Plot: Three years after their divorce, a woman discovers her ex-husband has become the very successful CEO of his own company. She decides to seek revenge on him for leaving her penniless and in debt… by making him fall in love with her again.
This drama contrasts the miscommunication and pain that tear a marriage apart with the power of hope and forgiveness. Despite very difficult, deep themes, it manages to remain light hearted and fun. Yet it isn’t all comedy: the story portrays the very raw emotions that come from a divorce. Really well done (and having the ever attractive singer L play the secretary was not a bad move at all).

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Who Are You

5. Who Are You?
Episodes: 16

Plot: After waking from a coma, a detective discovers she can see ghosts. Reassigned to the Lost and Found Division, she seeks to solve the murders of the ghosts whose objects are in the office. At the same time she begins piecing together what happened to her and the detectives that died six years earlier.
Romance, mystery, horror, melodrama, fantasy… this drama has it all (including a very satisfying ending). A very well developed storyline and great acting make this worth the time, especially if when seeking a break from Rom-Com angst.

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Stars_Falling_From_the_Sky_Poster

4. Stars Falling From the Sky
Episodes: 20
Plot: When a self-absorbed, 25-year old woman finds herself the sole guardian of five, adopted younger siblings, her world flips upside down. With no money and no place to live, she takes a job as a live-in housekeeper for her long term crush and hides the kids in the basement. Her employer and his brother are womanizing bachelors with their own painful pasts.
I don’t know how to make that plot sound non-sketch, but this is one of my all-time favorite dramas. It has incredible character change for all the main characters. I love, love, love the sibling relationships. The drama is full of great themes like hard work, independence, and family bonds.  

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Master's Sun

3. Master’s Sun
Episodes: 17

Plot: Because of a near death accident, a woman can see ghosts and the they plague her until she solves their grievances. Because of this, she lives on the outskirts of society and barely sleeps. One day she meets a cold-hearted CEO whose touch makes the ghosts disappear. He seems like the perfect solution… but he wants nothing to do with the crazy lady.
I am not typically a horror fan. It took me several tries to get into the story; it starts out pretty scary. Once I began, though, I was hooked. The drama does an incredible job with character development and exploring psychological themes. It balances several subplots within one greater story. I love the costuming: the heroine’s dresses reflect her mental stability. However this drama isn’t only deep and artsy… it’s fun to watch too!

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Healer

2. Healer
Episodes: 20

Plot: Many years ago, five friends ran a pirate radio station. Then one event changed everything. Now, over twenty years later, two of the original five are dead. One is AWOL. One is a paraplegic. One is rich. It falls to a night courier, a famous journalist, and an online reporter to piece together the clues of their past and unveil the secret of what happened — a secret many are willing to kill for to keep hidden.
This drama is my latest favorite. It combines action, romance, and mystery. The flashbacks are really well done. Unlike some Korean dramas where stupid miscommunication or filler episodes slow down the plot, Healer did a great job keeping the characters intact and storyline moving. This main couple really stood out.

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Rooftop Prince

1. Rooftop Prince
Episodes: 20

Plot: When someone murders a crown-princess in the Joseon era (1700s), her husband and three of his retainers vow to find her killer. In the process they get sent 300 years in the future (modern day) where they find a woman who looks just like the murdered princess… only she has no idea who they are.
This drama contains history, romance, comedy, and mystery. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will give you feels. Though you have to battle through bad hair and occasionally slow episodes, the ending makes it worth it. While newer dramas may provide deeper characters, better graphics, and superior twists, Rooftop Prince offers a timeless storyline that is, at its essence, a classic. I get warm fuzzies just thinking about it! 

So there you have it, some of my favorite storylines. It has been neat to watch Korean dramas improve over the past few years. If you don’t mind reading subtitles, I strongly recommend giving a drama a try. If you watch Korean dramas already, which ones are your favorite? Have you seen all the ones on my list?

Be prepared. Now that I have unleashed my interest in Korean pop culture, you will see more from me about it!

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*These are my current favorites, though I’m watching two right now that might make it on the list at a later date depending how they end (Arang and the Magistrate and Hyde, Jekyl and I)

**Technically, Boys Over Flowers could be on this list. It is the classic, starter K Drama. If you are going to begin anywhere, that is the one to go with. However, it isn’t one of my All Time Favorites and this list is all about me! Maybe someday I’ll make a list of Required Dramas and BOF can top the list.


The Unavoidable Internship: Suggestions From A Senior

Intern

I remember looking at internships freshman year and thinking… ‘wow, that’s impossible.’ The requirements included having previous internship experience, junior or senior status, and moving halfway across the country — all for an unpaid job. If all internships were that difficult to get, where did students find their initial intern experience? Who wanted to wait till junior or senior year? How could anyone afford to return to school in the fall if they weren’t getting paid? Yet everyone said, especially for my field of interest, internships were a must.

Over the past four years, I have worked around 11 different jobs, 3 of them specifically “internships.” While I am by no means an expert, I have picked up a thing or two so here are 9 general tips I have about internships:

  1.  If it is unpaid, tread with care.

This is one of my favorite pieces of advice from Charles Murray, author of A Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead (a book you should buy if you haven’t already.) If a company really considers the position vital, they will pay someone to do it. Unpaid internships often imply unnecessary jobs because the market doesn’t necessitate their existence. Chance are, the job will not be worth your time because it isn’t worth the company’s investment. A real job earning real money offers many more advantages for challenge and character growth, even if the title reflects a less glamorous position.

There may be exceptions to the rule, especially if you are trying to network in a specific company, or are padding a resume. But generally, go where they pay, because that means they need you.

  1. Internships provide unique learning opportunities. Use them!

An internship can give you an exclusive look at the inner workings of a company and offer a front row view of what does and doesn’t work. You can gain valuable experience using your “intern status” to meet people up and down the leadership ladder. When I interned for Human Resources, my first “office” was right next to the Vice President of the company! I had access to Lunch-n-Learns, where I met engineers, accountants, and project managers. I started at a branch office and got to know the men on the ground.

An intern comes to learn, so it is a great opportunity to ask questions: people expect it! Get to know the company even if it isn’t where you plan on staying long term. The attributes that make a company or a leader successful overlap in various occupations and fields. The idea works in reverse as well: poor leadership or a bad company policy shows, and you will notice what needs to be changed. You can take this is wisdom with you to other jobs. Identifying those attributes will benefit you wherever you go.

  1. It doesn’t have to be in your field of interest.

While interning with a company you want to work for when you graduate is a great opportunity, it isn’t always available. Though “internship experience, ANY internship experience” might not be the best plan, an openness to different fields provides some unique opportunities. My first two internships were with a company of electricians. Surrounded by fellow interns with degrees in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, my Politics and Government/Criminal Justice double major stood out like a sore thumb. How did pre-law transfer to the trades? A lot smoother than I expected. During my time there, I absorbed information on unions, safety classes, and light fixtures. I learned about biding a job, billing a company, and handling Affirmative Action paperwork. I gained practical, real-world knowledge that has given me a relationship with people in an area I would have known nothing about if I had stuck to my “field” of law/politics. If nothing else, the experience developed me as a person. It is worth looking off the beaten path, especially for your first few internships.

  1. Find where your connections work.

Internships, like job hunting, involves networking. It takes practice. Where do your friends and family members work?  Where do your friends’ parents work? Instead of starting with a company, it might help to start with your connections. I got the job in the trades because of my uncle. I gained my third internship through someone I volunteered with in high school. Every job I have had since working in the Sam’s Club bakery after my freshman year came from knowing someone. Use the people in your life!

  1. Be open to relocating, but don’t be stupid.

New places can be lots of fun. I moved to college in Tennessee without knowing anyone. The same happened during my experience studying abroad in England. If you can fight the homesickness, openness to adventure can lead to fabulous places. Use those connections. Do you have an aunt who could house you for a summer in a different city? Do you have a friend who has extra room in her off-campus living arrangements? Look for internships there. It could be fun and you will be doubly challenged.

However, remember that you are still in college. It may seem glamorous to move across the country for an internship somewhere, but first weigh the costs and benefits carefully. A less exciting but more practical internship could allow you to live at home and save money. There will be opportunities for new places once you graduate.

  1. Don’t think in terms of the unattainable.

A dream cannot become a reality unless you walk towards it. Practically, my semester abroad should never have happened. I could not afford it. Family, friends, and professors went out of their way to make it happen, but first I had to begin the process. I had to learn about the program, and apply. I had to explain what I needed and request financial support. In the end it worked out, but only after I took the first step.

A specific thing, like an internship or studying abroad, may seem impossible, but it can never become possible if you don’t work towards it. So dream crazy dreams! Set goals. Don’t limit yourself. Right now you might not be qualified, but discover what it would take to become qualified. Work with your connections. Don’t limit yourself because of external hindrances. With hard work and planning, they can be overcome.

  1. Develop a work ethic.

I know this seems rather self-evident, but how you approach a job makes a difference. There will tasks you really dislike doing, but you will have to do them anyway. If you can push through those tasks with a good attitude, it shows. It will show character to your bosses and co-workers, even if they never mention it. If nothing else, you will know what you can accomplish in less-than-favored circumstances.

Also, be willing to do what is needed of you. Take out the garbage, shred the papers, staple the documents. It isn’t glamorous, I know. As an intern, you probably won’t be doing anything that fabulous or ground breaking, but if you learn to work hard and do the little things well, it will transfer over to the big things. When I worked in HR, I handled a lot of paperwork. I am not a detail-person. I quickly grew bored with endless Affirmative Action forms. However, I learned to work quickly and persistently. I enjoyed my work as a Field Director with AFP last year, but there were days when I was exhausted. The attitude I had learned from working in HR kept me going. Stick with it when the work is hard. A job well done makes the effort worth it.

  1. Have fun!

You have the job for a summer. It isn’t a lifetime commitment. Use this season to explore! What do you like doing? What do you hate? Try something new. While this isn’t always possible if you need a consistent, well-paying job (because…. you know, college kid), there are still many ways to discover new things. Get to know your coworkers. Try different fields and companies. Learn what works for you. Do you like order, or prefer making your own rules? Do you want to stay behind the desk, or get your hands dirty? Do you want a specific job description, or to create the position as you go? An internship provides a taste of the professional world with comparatively short-term commitments.

  1. Take internships seriously, but not too seriously.

There are many factors to getting a job, and a positive internship experience can be one of them. However, it isn’t the only thing. Do not stress about getting the perfect internship with the perfect company. When you do get an internship, learn from it. Work hard. Focus on developing your character. Make connections and use them to your benefit. Enjoy it as an end as well as a means to an end. Be willing to try new things. Give your passions and talents a go and spend those summers developing the person you are becoming! That will stick with you for the rest of your life.


Challenge: Ten Books That Stayed With You

Reading Challenge

“List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and do not think too hard. They do not have to be the ‘right’ books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way. Tag 10 friends and me so I can see your list.”

Following the example of Lady Z, The Artist Librarian who tagged me, I decided to turn this challenge into a blog post instead of a Facebook note.

This is a true challenge for me. Only 10 books? I re-read 10 of my favorite books on a monthly basis! (Okay, maybe not anymore, but I used to!)

Instead, I offer a compromise. 10 author and 10 books. 10 authors because rarely does a particular author influence me only once. 10 books because occasionally one novel completely wins over my heart and deserves a spot on the list. I am leaving The Bible and C.S. Lewis off the list because, though they deserve spots, both fulfill an ‘obvious’ role in this post.

I suppose ‘stayed with you in some way’ means ‘books that have affected you in some way’, but I could never narrow that list down to 10. Possibly not even 50. For the sake of your attention span, I am going to go with books I have read over and over. Books I can replay in my head. Books that I cannot walk past without walking to pick them up. Books (or authors) that formed me.  In only a very general order…

10 Authors That Have Stayed With Me

  1. Elizabeth George Speare. The author of my favorite novel, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Speare also wrote Calico Captive, The Sign of the Beaver, and The Bronze Bow. I’ve re-read them all numerous times over the past 10+ years.
  2. Elizabeth Marie Pope. As far as I know, she only wrote The Sherwood Ring and The Perilous Gard. I love them both.
  3. Eloise Jarvis McGraw. She wrote The Moorchild, The Golden Goblet, Moccasin Trail, Master Cornhill, and The Seventeenth Swap. Most importantly, though, McGraw wrote Mara, Daughter of the Nile.
  4. Georgette Heyer. Though best known for her Regency novels, Heyer wrote detective mysteries and medieval fiction. My favorites by her are The Grand Sophy, Frederica, Cotillion, Arabella, and Devil’s Cub though I also really enjoyed Regency Buck, Friday’s Child, The Masqueraders, and The Talisman Ring. If Heyer wrote it, I’ll definitely re-read it.
  5. Jessica Day George. Though her novels do not represent as much of my heart as the first four authors, I have read (almost) every book she has written. Her Princess and Dragon Slippers series always make for a good read.
  6. Emmuska Orczy. The Scarlet Pimpernel, people! I’ve read most of the series. It doesn’t matter how predictable his characters may be after a while, nothing beats Sir Percy Blackeney.
  7. Shannon Hale. She wrote Goose Girl. Like Jessica Day George, I easily include her as an author I have faithfully followed.
  8. Diana Wynne Jones and Patricia C. Wrede. I stick them together because each offers a series I have read numerous times but I haven’t really gotten into the rest of their work. To find my favorites, however, look no farther than Howl’s Moving Castle (all 3 books) and the Enchanted Forest Chronicles.
  9. Gail Carson Levine. I debated putting her on the list and then remembered that I re-read Ella Enchanted for like the 18th time a month ago. She definitely belongs on the list for that book alone. Fairest a good, frequently re-read, one too.
  10. Robin McKinely. I don’t like all her books. In fact, I loathe quite a few. But she did write The Blue Sword and Beauty so for those two she deserves a spot because I love The Blue Sword.

 

10 Books That Have Stayed With Me

  1. A Murder For Her Majesty by Beth Hilgartner. Third favorite/most re-read book of all time.
  2. Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster. Read it, loved it, read it again, loved it more…and so forth.
  3. Bargain Bride by Evelyn Sibley Lampman. In my opinion, a hidden gem of historical fiction. I grabbed it when the library was selling it and now have a very well-loved copy.
  4. The Iron Peacock by Mary Stetson Clark. Another great historical fiction novel.
  5. Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher. A story that takes place in the world of Scheherazade and her Thousand and One Nights.
  6. Around The World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. A favorite adventure novel!
  7. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. If you have not had the pleasure of reading this one, go by yourself a copy. Delightful storytelling.
  8. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye. Maybe because the princess’s name is Amy, I’ve always treasured this one. Truly a charming little story.
  9. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham. It inspired me to try and read Bowditch’s The American Practical Navigator and Newton’s Principia numerous times. I never made more than a dent in either but I sure wanted to be as smart at Nathaniel Bowditch!
  10. Seven Daughter and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen. Captures the imagination and tells a good tale

 

In retrospect, I did not purposefully make this a list of fiction or choose just about only female authors. These are just the books I go back to, over and over again, since I was a kid. They are just some of the books that make me…me.

If you liked mine, you’ll love The Artist Librarian’s! Check out Z’s post at – http://theartistlibrarian.blogspot.com/2014/09/ten-books-that-have-stayed-with-you.html#comment-form


Stop It With The Expectations Already!

The problems facing our nation go beyond one generation. For years as a young person involved in politics, I have received commendation from adults willing to say their generation “messed it up” but mine must “take back the country.” They tell me I am an inspiration and that because they have failed in their duty to preserve my future, I must do my best. My generation must right their wrongs. Readily adults of all ages confess their neglect to stand in the breach and inform me that the only hope rests in me…and my generation.

Over this past weekend I have seen adults idolize the young volunteers who work with me. They are the future. The true freedom fighters. The hope of an entire nation. While I fiercely admire the young people who take time out of their busy schedules to volunteer with Americans For Prosperity, I have come to realize such lauding and expectation do more harm than good for everyone involved.

I volunteered for my first campaign at the age of 9 in 2002. Throughout high school, I campaigned for various candidates, often mobilized by Generation Joshua to key races throughout the nation. I saw the difference young people made. Family friends and total strangers praised my efforts to “save” America (whatever that really means). They extolled my generation. We would fix their mistakes. Like my young volunteers now, my friends and I breathed in the air of expectation as the world around us crumbled.

In reality, all the commendation in the world means nothing when adults, that “generation that messed up,” continue to do nothing. When apologies become excuses for apathy, the problem worsens. I volunteered for my first campaign 12 years ago. Over those years I grew from 9 years old to 21.  From a girl to an adult. While happy to praise a teenager’s efforts to save her future, what legacy have those apologizing adults left me?

In 2002, the national debt totaled $6,228,235,965,597.16[1].  Roughly 6 trillion dollars. It now stands at $17,770,123,176,000 with the expectation of reaching 21.0 trillion dollars by the end of the fiscal year[2].

In 2002, gas cost $1.34 a gallon. In 2014, around $3.67[3].

Since 2002, over 12,982,740 babies were aborted[4].

ObamaCare. Must I say more?

Most recently during those 12 years, Americans have allowed an American ambassador in Libya to be murdered without anyone truly being held responsible. They have allowed the IRS to target groups based on their political affiliation. They paid attention too late to save the veterans forced to go without the healthcare promised them. Americans have allowed the sacrifices of hundreds of brave men and women in the Middle East to go to waste as a terrorist organization wreaks havoc on all we stand for.

While praising my generation as saviors and apologizing for their own failures, adults have allowed the government to devastate our futures. What a hoax.

Yet more than our futures fall prey to praise without action. What my young volunteers cannot understand as they stand in their moment of expectation is the extreme pressure to get it right. It is a glorious thing to be praised, but not to feel like everything depends on you. When adults tell young people the future of the nation rests on their shoulders, they burden a single generation with the mistakes of generations. What good is an interest in physics or a talent for drawing when everyone expects you to save the nation?  Time and time again I have seen my peers entirely drop out of political circles partially because there is no balance between total commitment to politics and participation in outside pursuits. In fact, I would say there cannot be as long as adults expect you to run for president in 20 years. Not every teenager with an opinion on political issues and a desire to make a difference plans on becoming leader of the free world someday! Such a presumption, though often well-meaning, is condescending and shows little understanding or value for something that ought to engage the interest of every American, not just a ‘nerdy few.’

What goes on in Washington or Madison or wherever your capital may be affects everyone. Doctors, entrepreneurs, burger flippers, and movie actresses.  Young and old. Those who can vote, and those who cannot. Putting the pressure on one generation to change the course of a nation not only unfairly burdens those individuals, it neglects the full scope of the problem. All generations must stand firm to make a difference. It is not enough to vote. Older generations must model for younger ones what true civic involvement means. Yes, young people represent the future in that they will someday be old people. That does not mean they should deal with all of America’s problems in the future. Following in their parents footsteps, there is no reason to believe they will act any different from previous generations.

When adults keep kicking the can down the street, they model a behavior for the next generation. Be inspired all you like by a few young people getting involved: they represent a minority. They will continue to represent a minority until the majority of Americans of all ages realize the direction of the country depends on them now, in the present, not some misty future.

Besides continual neglect disguised with apologies and undue pressure to ‘save the nation,’ adults offer one more disservice to teenage activist. They reinforce cultural expectations with their over-the-top praise. Yes, it is wonderful when a teenager shows interest, but what makes their involvement so unusual? Must we celebrate, cajole, and comment every time someone under the age of 50 realizes adults let the government mess up their future?  Culturally, young people get treated like children! Young people have the ability to accomplish incredible things. They have energy, enthusiasm, and understanding. Why do we assume the ability to vote magically represents the ability to engage? Don’t expect less out of young people because they cannot participate in a small portion of civic involvement. Instead, encourage those young people around you to discover their potential to directly affect the civic process. Be mentors, be leaders, and be fans, but don’t tell these kids the world revolves around them because they have an opinion and want to make a difference. Similarity, don’t allow other teenagers off the hook. As citizens, they too must play a role in America’s future.

So stop apologizing! Maybe even stop praising. Get involved. Apathy kills a nation. Somewhere in this country another 9 year old girl is discovering a passion for grassroots involvement. What will your legacy look like for her? Will the next 12 years witness more complaints and inaction, or will you take a stand for her future? For her present? I am indignant. You should be too. Stop exploiting a generation with your false expectations and inaction and recognize that you must make the difference.  That is what I ask of you.

Once again, I find Patrick Henry beautifully expresses what I hope to pass on in his speech “The War Inevitable”:

“Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.”

 

 

 

[1] http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_histo5.htm

[2] http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/

[3] http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?f=W&n=PET&s=EMM_EPMR_PTE_NUS_DPG

[4] http://www.nrlc.org/uploads/factsheets/FS01AbortionintheUS.pdf