Idiocracy Plus?

September 30, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee has been in the news recently over their squashing of the public option in the health care debate. Don’t fret- it doesn’t necessarily mean a public option is dead. But that’s not the only thing they did this week. They also voted to restore $50 million in funding to abstinence-only sex education that the President has so rightly been trying to remove. This doesn’t mean the money is spent- the senate and house still have to vote on the measure- but it does mean that our lawmakers still think that these programs work.

Even Texas, TEXAS for crying out loud, has started to see the error of their ways. With pregnancy and STIs on the rise, Texas is about to implement “Abstinence Plus” programs that address birth control options. Forget studies that take years to compile and report data. Texas has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country and they have seen abstinence only programs failing their youth over and over again. If Texas can get on board, why can’t the Senate?

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Music Review: Boys and Girls by Ingrid Michaelson

September 30, 2009

I have a satellite radio so that I can avoid the drone of early morning talk radio and repetition of the same three pop songs. However, I know when something is really popular on mainstream radio when it reaches into the realm of satellite radio. Recently, Ingrid Michaleson’s song “Maybe” has been all over the place. The first track off her third release Everybody is fairly catchy with a set of sappy “if you love something, let it go” lyrics. Every time I hear the first chords on the radio, attempting to evoke some sort of soulful remembrance, I struggle with changing the channel. Its not that I particularly like the song, but I do like Ingrid Michaleson.

I don’t have the new album, but her second album, Girls and Boys, comes into fairly frequent rotation on my iPod. Its the first appearance of the song “The Way I Am” which made its way into various tv shows where quirky romance was involved. Her voice evokes the sweetness that you want in a primetime dramedey. Much more compelling than “Maybe”, this song gives us jewels of poetry like, “I’ll buy you Rogaine when you start losing all your hair/Sew on patches to all you tear.” Its the kind of sweet, oddball songwriting that makes you want to press play on your “quirky girl” playlist featuring Bijork and Regina Spektor.

But more than just being precious, Girls and Boys showed the potential of Ingrid Michaleson. The downfall is certainly the one-track-mindedness of the content. If you’re in a relationship, getting out of a relationship, longing for a relationship, or have ever had a relationship then you’re prime for Girls and Boys. The first track “Die Alone” is one of my favorites for its great pacing and ultra catchy hook, but I can’t endorse the theme of “I never thought I could love anyone but myself/ Now I know I can’t love anyone but you/ You make me think that maybe I won’t die alone/ Maybe I won’t die alone.”

Quarterlifers have so much to consider when it comes to relationships. Most of our parents were married at this stage in our lives, many of them were already changing our diapers. While Ingrid Michaleson is fun to listen to on occasion, she starts to wear on me with her longing for love. I don’t like to judge too quickly when it comes to matters of music, so I purchased her third album Be OK. A little lighter on the sap, I’m left feeling like this was an album with a deadline. Out of 11 tracks, we have four live tracks- one of which is a duplicate of “The Way I Am” as well as a cover of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”

The saving grace for the album is the last studio track entitled “You And I.” Yes, still about relationships, the lyrics give us a little more to cling to. “Let’s get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance” is the line that sealed it for me. Its these out of the blue odd lyrics and the quality of Michaelson’s voice that keep me listening. If she can find something else to talk about other than heartbreak, I’ll be a true fan. Until then, I’ll cycle her in between Garfunkel & Oates.

Dr. Paidlove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Flu

September 28, 2009

Recently, I was victim to a nation-wide epidemic: I came down with the Swine Flu. Before you reach for the anti-viral wipes to scour your eyeballs with lest reading this article gives you the dreaded Swine, let me share a few things I learned.
First off, our health care system sucks. I have health insurance through work, and supposedly this is a real benefit to me. I pay into the system bi-weekly and should, therefore, be able to see a doctor while I am ill. That’s what I was told at the informational meeting, anyway. However, it turns out that’s not really true. I guess because most of my ailments over the years had been minor: colds, rashes, the usual gambit of discomforts that could bloom into medical problems if not tended to, I hadn’t noticed that it had been nearly a decade since I’d seen my primary care physician. Always handed off to a nurse practitioner, I was getting care by proxy. I wasn’t even sure what my doctor looked like at this point – or if he even really continued to exist. Like some sort of Emerald City wizard, his orders and prescriptions came to me, but I never saw the man behind the curtain. So, it was a little bit shocking – though it shouldn’t have been – when my primary care physician told me it would be four days before I could see someone in his office even when I reported symptoms of fever, body ache, and vomiting. I remember in a delirium of daytime cold medicine and acetaminophen feeling the sore rub of getting jipped when my physician’s office recommended that I go to a walk-in clinic because I couldn’t be seen there. Not in the amount of time that was necessary to treat my illness. If my employers and I are going to pay such steep health care costs, then shouldn’t the benefit be that I don’t have to wait in line to see a doctor? Furthermore, shouldn’t I ever be able to see said doctor – in the flesh? Wasn’t this exact same scenario – long waits for care and sub-par service – what all of those ravenous anti-universal-state-health-care (though that’s not even what’s being proposed by the current administration) town hall attendees were so against?
The second eye-opening experience I had was in the actual walk-in clinic itself. Still ripe with fever, my breath had a warm pull to it that felt like illness. My forehead was coated with a thick layer of perspiration that bled into my eyebrows until they were too burdened with flop sweat and let a waterfall of stinging, biting moisture into my already irritated eyes. Constant body aches and chills and a dry nagging cough had me wrapping myself tighter and tighter into a contorted mess as I sat in the waiting room chair. My mailman could have diagnosed me at this point for the symptoms were so obviously all screaming in unison one word: flu. The nurse who weighed me and asked the standard repertoire of questions even looked me in the eye and said, “Oh, honey, that’s some flu you’ve got there.” So, everyone could see I had the flu. Everyone but one person: the doctor who saw me.
“I’ve seen the flu before, and this isn’t it,” were the first words out of his mouth. He proceeded to ask me if I watched a lot of television and if I had heard about the Swine Flu on television. I told him that of course I’d heard of it, and that several people I knew had recently come down with the flu. After some back-and-forth he finally agreed to do me the favor of testing me for the flu. Fifteen minutes later, my test results for H1N1 were positive and I was donning a medical face mask and prescription for Tamiflu. It was reassuring to learn that I wasn’t victim to media suggestion only and suffering from some sort of illness created in my mind, but it was also disheartening to learn that my walk-in clinic doctor was little more than a middle man between me and the care that I needed. I diagnosed myself. I ordered the test. He just granted permission and wrote the prescription for the medicine that I knew I needed.
The pharmacy was a whole different experience. Whereas I’d been getting less-than-optimal medical services up to this point, nothing really expedites the handling of your prescription like a face shrouded in a virtual poster reading, “you don’t want what I’ve got,” and a prescription that proves it. The exact words of the pharmacist upon handing her the prescription were, “Wait. Wait right here.” Less than three minutes later, and fifty dollars lighter, I had my pills and was out the door.
However, the final – and perhaps most shocking thing – that I learned while home sick with the Swine flu was this: it’s not that bad. I mean, it wasn’t exactly how I wanted to spend my Labor Day weekend, and I wasn’t thrilled about using up so much sick time the next week while it worked its way through to completion, but overall it was just a regular flu for me. I was miserable, but there were no horsemen of the apocalypse coming to my bedside warning of end times. In a way, it was almost like a vacation. A chronic non-sleeper, the flu forced my body to surrender – often – to unconsciousness. I caught up on some sleep that I’d been missing. Also, as a workaholic, I was actually shocked when after a few days of being too ill to concentrate on my occupation shifted from mortal dread to respite and calm. I actually started to think about things besides work. This produced an infectious desire for me to get out more, do more besides just set my proverbial nose to the grind stone once feeling better. What started out as a disheartening, cynic-producing journey through the health care system has ended with a most rested, rejuvenated me. For that, I guess I have the flu to thank.

Greener Pastures

September 15, 2009

Amid the news of town hall meetings gone awry, the announcement from GM was a little subdued. The pseudo-defunct auto giant announced that they have developed an electric car that will get 230 miles per gallon. On a single charge, the battery in the car will go for 40 miles, at which point the small gas engine kicks in to recharge the battery- getting you the 230 miles they claim.

Its a step. It really is a step. With hybrids only getting at most 60 mpg, on a good day, we haven’t really cracked the dependence our traveling has on gas. Nissan has criticized GM whose LEAF car, due out in 2011, is claimed to get 267 mpg and be more than $10,000 less than the Chevy Volt.

Bickering aside, can’t we do better than this? Reducing the gas needed to run a car isn’t exactly a long term solution, it simply slows the bleeding. More importantly, companies seem to be focusing on how to make a car more efficient, not for whom. We are the ones who would buy up an eco-friendly car if they showed up. Present a low cost, truly environmentally friendly car, and quarterlifers would stop cruising Craigslist and updating their Facebook statuses to get to the dealer.

Stop trolling Craiglist for an hour

September 2, 2009

The smell of freshman fear is thick in the US right now. Newbies are stepping onto college campuses for the first time, learning how to do a kegstand and arriving in class in their pajama pants. But for those of us who have graduated (I’m a master of something now!), life is a bit different. We have to get used to the demands of the real world, especially waking up before noon.

Don’t freak out- I have a list of 100 blogs to distract you from the pain of reality and help you along the way. Oh, and check out number 98…we hear it’s pretty great.