Monthly Archives: August 2014

Attention Trucks and SUV’s – Stop Blocking Our View!

I have to take the time this morning to discuss a huge pet peeve of mine. I see it every time I go out and after my experience this morning, I must continue to vent my frustration. Am I the only one that thinks trucks and SUV’s need their own parking area? How many times have you, possibly the driver of a smaller car or sedan, come out of a store to see a huge vehicle parked right next to you and dread the inevitable backing out in order to go home? Do you have the ability to see what is coming up behind you and pull out of your space safely without putting yourself or others in danger?

This morning I drove up to the store to do the weekly shopping. I was driving my mom’s car, a Toyota Corolla and I pulled into an empty space with few cars around. I went inside and bought my groceries and as I came out of the store, I couldn’t see my car. Why? Because pulled into the space next to me – despite other empty spaces nearby – was a huge red Ford truck, burying my little Corolla in the huge parking lot. I said a couple of GD’s and F*** and proceeded to put the groceries in the trunk of the car.  I got into the car and put it into reverse, and ever so carefully, touched the gas to ease out of the space.  The next thing I knew, a horn was blaring and I was slamming on my brakes!  Had I not stopped in time and been hit, the accident would have been my fault.   Now, let me ask you, how the hell am I supposed to pull out of a parking space with a freaking monster truck next to me and be expected to see what is coming up behind me??

I know from where I speak…I used to drive a Rav4 and never gave a thought to where I parked my car.  I never considered the car next to me and never cared whether or not they would have an issue pulling out.  Now that I drive a Kia, and occasionally my mom’s Toyota, I am frustrated by those drivers who don’t care about where they park, except to get the closest spot to the store.  Did it ever occur to you that where you park your vehicle could be a hazard for someone else?  I know –  you don’t care and in this world it’s every man for himself –  but take a minute to look around the next time you park your truck or SUV.  You could actually make a decision that will prevent an accident or save a life.

One final thought….to anyone that my white RAV4 may have blocked, I am sincerely sorry.  If I knew then, what I know now I would have left my car at home and walked.

SB/2014

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Is Healthcare a Universal Right? Or a Privilege? Or Does the Government Just Not Give a Damn?

Earlier this week as I was sitting at my computer working on my weekly questions for my Business Ethics class and as I prepared my response, I began to question my own sense of morality because I could not pick a side on the topic at hand.

There is debate on whether or not health care is a universal right that should be provided by governments.  One of the questions I had to address was the ethical, societal, and global issues involved in this debate and explain the moral basis for my opinion.

As I researched the various opinions on this topic, I was amazed at the reasons that each side presented in support of their beliefs. As one who is still in the corporate world and obtains my health insurance through my employer, I have not had exposure to the nightmare that so many have gone through upon implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act. My mother has Medicare as well as a supplemental plan with Humana, and frankly before all the changes started happening, she had no problems with the doctors in her health plan. But lately, Humana has been dropping her doctors left and right due to cost and it has put a large financial burden on our family.

However, having read both sides of the argument, I am still torn as to whether health care should be considered a universal right. There are convincing opinions on each side, first and foremost having to do with the wording of the Constitution and whether or not the right to health care is inferred in our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Simply put, because the aforementioned rights may only be possible with the right of health care, it stands to reason that this right should be assumed to be included. I’m not quite sure I agree with that, as lack of health care may not negate happiness. It may make life harder, but it is not a sole reason for happiness.

One item I learned from my research is that the Affordable Care Act has a provision in it which is called “community rating.” What this means is that insurers must “charge their costliest customers a maximum of three times what they charge their least-costly customers (Roy, 2013, p. 7). Frankly, I think this is unethical; if the Government created the health care plan with the intent of making it affordable, why flip the switch and make it more expensive for those people who can actually afford it? It makes no sense to me.

With the above being said, I still cannot make up my mind. Morally, I think everyone should have access to some type of health care. Why should someone who is barely making ends meet not get treatment that could save their lives because they have no insurance? But healthcare as a universal right, forcing those who can afford it to pay for those who can’t? I’m not sure. Does the decision come down to the disease or condition; i.e., did the individual’s way of life cause their health problems? Should we be required to pay medical costs associated with a smoker who has lung cancer or an alcoholic who has cirrhosis? Morally, perhaps. But putting health care in the same category as food and shelter, which some see as the difference between life and death and hence happiness….still I’m not sure.

I know I have been all over the place with this particular question, so perhaps the best thing to do would be to ask ourselves, “If I had no health care and could not afford it, what would my answer be?” In closing, I am reminded of the movie John Q, starring Denzel Washington – remember that one? His son needed a new heart, but because insurance would not cover the surgery the family could not afford to have it done. And they had health insurance! The bottom line is citizens in our country are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Paying an insurance premium that is more than a mortgage payment is just not right; perhaps the “universal right” should not be healthcare, rather the ability to live without fear of drowning in doctor bills.

SB/2014

Ref:

Dalrymple, T. Is There a Right to Health Care? (2009). Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970203517304574306170677645070

Roy, A. Yes, Health Care is a Right – An Individual Right. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/03/28/yes-health-care-is-a-right-an-individual-right/

Schimmel, N. (2013). The Place of Human Rights in American Efforts to Expand and Universalize Healthcare. Human Rights Review, 14(1), 1. doi:10.1007/s12142-012-0247-x

For the Love of Angels

Today’s topic may be a bit off the mark, but I told you from the get go that I would write about whatever is on my mind at the time, so consider yourself warned 🙂

I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad these last few weeks. He passed away two and a half years ago and I still miss him every day. I know he is with me and as hard as this may be to understand or believe – I have felt him nearby.

When he first passed away, I felt so guilty. We were never an “I love you” kind of family and although I knew he would do anything in the world for us, sometimes he really annoyed the hell out of me. Sounds terrible I know, but I suppose that falls under the infamous father/daughter relationship that all of us go through. When I finally grew up and realized who he was, I felt so blessed and I think he knew how much I loved him when he died.

A couple of months after he passed, I was in our downstairs hallway. There is a table on the left wall and on that table is a lamp that I call “the duck lamp” because the base is a ceramic mallard. The light was mainly for decoration and was hardly ever used, but this particular night as I was carrying a box for storage down the hall, the light came on just as I walked passed it. I didn’t think anything of it, but as I put the box in the backroom, shut the door and walked past the light again, it went off. I checked to see if perhaps the light was on a timer that was screwed up, but when I looked behind the table, I saw no timer. What was even scarier was the light wasn’t even plugged in! I knew right then that my Poppy was an angel, watching over us and letting us know that he was okay.

Since then there have been other subtle signs – the squeak of a car or closet door, a light flicker and one morning my computer even flicked on. But that’s okay…every sign is a gift and tells me that he is happy and “keeping the light on until we get there.”

SB/2014

Death

Switched by R.L. Stine

As an avid, obsessed, compulsive reader, every once in a while I’ll share a review of a book I’ve recently read. Good or bad, I’ll let you know whether it’s worth the money to buy or download. Don’t be shy…I’d love to hear your feedback!

If you are a fan of suspense, I highly recommend R.L. Stine. the stories are good, and although his books are geared more towards the younger adult, it is a good, quick read when you need some suspense.

Switched is set on Fear Street, the location that Stine has chosen for this particular genre.  It is the story of two best friends, Nicole and Lucy, each believing the other’s life is better than their own.  Nicole feels like a loser, as she feels Lucy is prettier, has a cute boyfriend, and an overall better life.  But all that changes one night when they find themselves at a the Great Wall on Fear Street, a landmark in town filled with legend and superstition.   The story goes that it has magical powers allowing two people to switch bodies and live for a time as the other.   (cue the theme from the Twilight Zone….)

Nicole is surprised that night as Lucy – the girl with seemingly everything suggests they give it a try.  Why would Lucy want to live my boring life?  But Nicole agrees, figuring the whole thing was a stupid superstition and could be good for a few laughs.  But what she didn’t count on was the switch actually working and that the life she thought Lucy had was all a lie, and Lucy is planning revenge – with the help of Nicole’s body!

I actually LOVED this book!  The storyline and dialogue really makes the reader wonder what is coming next; trust me, you will not put this book down. I did feel a bit cheated by the ending after all nail-biting I did, even at 3:00 in the morning when I finished. LOL…However, it was definitely worth the ride!

SB 8/28/14

Switched

Take Time for the Little Things….

Today I thought I’d take the opportunity to share one of my favorite stories.  I heard it many years ago, and came across it again when I was doing research for one of my class essays.  We are all so busy with work and family and other everyday occurrences of life and we tend to forget the little things that make ourselves and others happy (I know I do).  I hope you enjoy the story…and next time you pass a toy store, pick up a few marbles….the swirly ones are the best.  🙂

_____________________________________________________________

A THOUSAND MARBLES

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the
quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it’s the
unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few
hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, what began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one
of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me
tell you about it.

I turned the volume up on my radio, and I heard an older sounding chap
with a golden voice. You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in
the broadcasting business himself. He was talking about “a thousand
marbles” to someone named “Tom”.

I was intrigued and sat down to listen to what he had to say. “Well, Tom,
it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job. I’m sure they pay you well
but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much.  Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours
a week to make ends meet.”

“Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities. “And that’s when he began to explain his theory of “a thousand marbles”.

“You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average
person lives about 75 years. I know, some live more and some live less
but on average, folks live about 75 years.”

“Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the
number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime.”

“It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in
any detail”, he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over
twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be
75, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy.”

“So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended
up with 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large clear
plastic container next to the radio. Every Saturday since then, I have
taken one marble out and thrown it away.”

“I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the
really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time
here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.”

“Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my
lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble
out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then I
have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a
little more time.”

“It was nice to talk to you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your
loved ones, and I hope to meet you again someday. Have a good morning!”

You could have heard a pin drop when he finished. Even the show’s
moderator didn’t have anything to say for a few moments. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to do some work that morning, then go to the gym. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. “C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast.”

“What brought this on?” she asked with a smile. “Oh, nothing special,
it’s just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the
kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we’re out? I need to buy
some marbles.”

SB/2014

Life doesn’t come with directions; create your own! TMS/2014

Just Get Over It? – It’s Not that Simple

“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.”

― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

Anyone else shed a tear or two last night during Billy Crystal’s moving tribute to Robin Williams?  Although I wish they would have shown more footage of the talented actor, the message came across loud and clear – what we see on the outside has nothing to do with what is on the inside.   It is sad that it took the death of one of the funniest men in show business to finally bring depression out from under the carpet and into the spotlight, recognizing it for what it really is….a crippling disease.

Depression is one of the most prevalent and serious mental illnesses in the world today, affecting approximately one in four women and one in eight men and an estimated 121 million people around the world currently suffer from some form of depression.  Further, over 80% of people have symptoms of clinical depression but are not receiving any specified treatment, perhaps because they believe it will pass, or even worse, they feel ashamed.

Almost every one of us has, at one point or another, felt “blue” due to a disruptive life event or day-to-day stress.  However, true depression is a persistent feeling of sadness that impairs our general functioning and lasts for more than two weeks.  Although the word “depressed” is often tossed around like a baseball to describe periodic unhappiness, depression is actually a biological illness that doesn’t disappear like a cold or the flu.  The sad thing is that a diagnosis of depression is not always believed by some doctors; therefore, a clinically depressed person who needs help will continue their day to day lives without any kind of treatment.  Our society has spent centuries blaming depression on the individual and creating excuses for those living with depression.

As someone who has suffered from depression in the past, and still struggles from time to time, I know how it feels.  The number of unfounded myths about depression is many; therefore, after a bit of research, I found a few that I have heard before and I’m ashamed to admit, have used on myself:

  •  Being Sad Leads to Depression – while sadness is considered a cause, anger is much more common. Feeling normal sadness due to a loss or disappointment rarely leads to depression.
  • Depression Symptoms are all Mental – nothing could be further from the truth. Mental symptoms such as sadness, anger, anger, anxiety, confusion, feeling of hopelessness and emptiness are present; however, physical symptoms are very common including lack of energy, changes in sleeping and eating habits, stomach problems, headaches and body aches.
  • Only Women Get Depressed – this one is such a crock! Men are told to tough it out and get over it; such advice is very damaging as depression can even more dangerous in men than women as they are more likely to avoid treatment because of the stigma attached to it.
  • It’s Just PMS, Not Depression – okay so women can blame depression on PMS, what can men blame it on? This is perhaps one of the stupidest misnomers I have ever heard.  Yes, PMS can affect their physical and mental state, but a woman’s cycle can last 5-7 days – true depression doesn’t go away when the period is over.

So what do you do when you have been diagnosed with depression?  The most important thing to realize is that you are not alone and you have people in your life who love you. Although the tips below are not a cure, they are a good place to start on the road to recovery.

Capture

 

If diagnosed and treated properly, people can “live with” not “suffer from” depression.   Don’t lose sight of your friends and family as they will be your source of strength and guidance – lean on them in difficult times and let them help you.  It is amazing what one “I love you” can do.

Ref:

Dealing with Depression and Loneliness (2013).  Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/depression-pictures/depression-myths-debunked.aspx#/slide-10

Dealing with Depression – Self-Help and Coping Tips to Overcome Depression. (2014).  Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm

SB/2014

27 Wise Life Tips

1. Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
2. Keep skunks and bankers and lawyers at a distance.
3. Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
4. A bumble bee is considerably faster than a tractor.
5. Words that soak into your ears are whispered…not yelled.
6. Meanness don’t just’ happen overnight.
7. Always drink upstream from the herd.
8. Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.
9. Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
10. It doesn’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
11. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
12. You cannot unsay a cruel word.
13. Every path has a few puddles.
14. When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
15. The best sermons are lived, not preached.
16. Most of the stuff people worry about isn’t ever gonna happen anyway.
17. Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
18. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
19. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
20. Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
21. Don’t interfere with something’ that isn’t bothering’ you none.
22. If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging’.
23. Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
24. The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with watches you from the mirror every morning’.
25. Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.
26. If you think you’re a person of some influence, try ordering’ somebody else’s dog around.
27. Live simply.  Love generously.  Care deeply.  Speak kindly.  Leave the rest to God.

-Jacob Share

SB/2014

2014 - 1

You Can’t Control Who You Fall in Love With

Okay…I’m getting ready to rant, so if you can’t take it, just scroll on past.

This week, the State of Virginia made a huge mistake in staying the decision to honor gay marriage in the Commonwealth.  What is our Government thinking?  To deny an individual the ability to love whom they want is a direct violation of civil rights and frankly is just downright mean.

There are some people who believe that homosexuals do not need marriage licenses, “just a good lawyer to draw up Powers of Attorney and medical directives and to address issues.” (Kotulski, 2004, p. 4). Today, heterosexual couples have access to over 1,300 rights, privileges and benefits and these same rights are denied to homosexual couples on the basis of who they choose to love. Before the government decides to deny homosexuals the right to marry, perhaps they should take a look at the types of heterosexual marriages that are actually legal. Here’s a little food for thought:  In this country it is legal for a man to marry –

• His first cousin (in 20 out of 50 states)
• His ex-lover’s adopted daughter (remember Woody Allen?)
• At the age of 100 (and leave his estate tax-free to his 18 year-old wife)
• If he is in prison for rape, multiple murders, child molestation, kidnapping or corporate scandal.
• Another man in Texas (as long as that man is a female to male transsexual) ???????

This does not seem logical: A rapist, a murderer, a child molester and a kidnapper can marry whomever they want – while still in prison – and never even have to live with their spouse, but two same-sex people cannot exchange legal wedding vows because it is viewed as “immoral”?  Is everybody in our so-called government on crack???

Although society has offered many reasons (for lack of a better word) against gay marriage, I’d like to take a moment to argue the ones that come to mind:

  • Marriage is an institution between one man and one woman: Although it is the most often heard argument, it is also the weakest. Who says what marriage is and by whom should it be defined? “The concept of not denying people their rights unless you can show a compelling reason to deny them is the basis of the American ideal of human rights” (Kotulski, 2004). The key words here are “compelling reason”. Many of the arguments against gay marriage are not reasons, merely a reflection of society’s fear and bigotry.
  • Gay relationships are immoral: The most common answer to this is “the bible.” Freedom of religion is also freedom from religion. “The bible has absolutely no standing in American Law, as was made clear by the intent of the first amendment, and because it does not, no one has the right to impose rules on anyone else, simply because of something they perceive to be a moral injunction mandated by the bible” (Baunach, 2011).
  • Marriages are for procreation and ensuring the continuation of the species: If that is true, then why is it legal for infertile couples to marry? “Again, such an argument fails to persuade based on the kinds of marriage society does allow, without a second thought, and why it really allows them. Marriage is about love, sharing and commitment; procreation is, in reality, a purely secondary function.” (Baunach, 2011).

This country has been through many periods of discrimination over the past hundreds of years: Slavery, the Holocaust, segregation – do we really want to continue down this same road?  We as a society are supposed to be moving forward…not backward and if we want to teach our children anything it is tolerance for others.

Wake up and smell the cappuccino folks; it’s 2014!  There are other things more important in our government that need to be fixed.  Stop worrying about who is loving who and take the high road.  Trust me, the view is much better.

Love

SB/2014

Ref:

Baunach, D. (2011). Decomposing Trends in Attitudes toward Gay Marriage, 1988-2006. Social Science Quarterly, 92(2), 346-363.

Kotulski, D. (2004). Why You Should Give a Damn About Gay Marriage. Los Angeles: Advocate Books.

The Music of My Life

As I sit here at my computer thinking about today’s blog post, I am looking at a picture of my dad’s smiling face and I am taken back to the stories he told me about my childhood.  While I didn’t grow up in a home where music was prevalent, there are a couple of tunes that come to my mind.  As a child, I was definitely a daddy’s girl, and he loved to tell the story of how two songs in particular were heard throughout our household.  It’s kind of embarrassing, but what the hell, there are worse things than being embarrassed.

My mother had a difficult time potty-training me; I was very stubborn, but eventually she succeeded. Every time I would sit on the toilet in the bathroom I would sing, “Sitting on the Rock, Hallelujah!”  Now I don’t think that was a real song, but to me it was, and my mom knew it was a sign that I “did a good potty.”  (Are you laughing yet?)  I would sing it all the time, and I was so proud of myself – it’s funny how the little things make us so happy when we are children.  The second song that comes to mind and is reminiscent of my childhood is “I’m a Little Teapot.”  This one always makes me smile because it is because of this song that my dad gave me my nickname of Teapot.  Mom says I would run around the house singing this song, doing all the motions: “I’m a little teapot, short and stout.  Here is my handle, here is my spout.  When I get all steamed up, hear me shout.  Tip me over and pour me out!”   Even as I type the words I’m smiling, as I can still hear dad in the stands of my softball game yelling, “Come on, Teapot” at the top of his lungs.  Kind of embarrassing when you’re 16 and playing on a co-ed team.

As I grew into adolescence, the music I listened to was definitely rebellious as I would listen to songs that allowed me to scream and at times, cry.  The one song that comes to mind is Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and while the classic 80’s song is a message to parents, I would listen to it as a message to adolescence and the pain of growing up.  Listening to that song always made me feel better, and in a strange way, gave me strength.  My best friend Elsa, whom I met at 13 introduced me to artists I had never heard of before.  From Whitesnake to KISS, Guns N’ Roses, to Poison, and of course Meatloaf, it was the head-banging, loud, and to some, obnoxious lyrics that helped me cope.  I could vent my frustrations and while this may sound melodramatic, I honestly think if I didn’t have that release, I would either be dead or in a mental hospital.  When we were in our 20’s, Elsa would come pick me up after she got off work at night and we would go downtown to the coffee shop, get our caffeine, and ride down  to Chimborazo Park, which has the most beautiful view of the city at night.  As we drank our coffee, Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” would be blasting from her car stereo. Even today, that memory has such a calming effect on me. 

 As an adult, my music tastes have changed quite a bit, and while I do still enjoy the occasional head-banging tune, I’m more drawn to the country genre and songs that tell a story or have a lesson attached to them.  It is this music that provides me comfort after a stressful day, and at times, allows me to cry if I need to.  One of my dad’s favorite songs was Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” and anytime he and I were in the car and it came on the radio, we would drive around just a little longer until the song was over so we could listen to it all.  That song was sung at his funeral and while this may sound strange, the song does give me comfort, and yes a few tears.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to it since he’s been gone, but each time I do – especially in my car – I can feel my dad right beside me.

One final note –  music has the power to bring comfort and happiness. Writing each paragraph of this post brought a smile to my face, and reliving the music of my past reminded me of how far I’ve come.  Today, when I turn on the radio, or download music on my Ipod, I am drawn to songs by Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, The Band Perry, Blake Shelton – the list goes on.  It is these artists that I associate with happiness, and while that may seem contradictory to the genre of Country, it is the story and the words of each that make me smile. 

Now as I get older, I appreciate and love music much more than when I was a child.  I see the meanings behind the songs and I listen to the message the artist is trying to convey.  However, there are times when I am lying in bed at night, I can hear myself as a child singing, “I’m a Little Teapot” and see my dad’s face when he calls me the same.  What better memory is there?  

SB 8-22-14