Friday, May 27, 2011

HP: Through the Pensieve

Ok. So. I used to wait in agony for the Harry Potter books to come out. I would check and almost every day to find any hints and read essays other fans had written. The plots were so elaborate and the characters so complex, I fell in love immediately after the fourth book was written, and had to wait six long years for the final chapter. (I must admit that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is my all time favorite. Don't you just love to hate Dolores Umbridge? Ugh. She makes my blood boil and head explode!)

The movies have been pretty good as well. Always a little bit disappointing, since the movies are never as good as the books. Three was my favorite until 7.1. Neil and I waited with 4,000 other people outside the AMC Loews theatre for the midnight showing last November (most were dressed up. We were not.) I loved it. In my opinion it was the best one yet released, and gives me hope that 7.2 will be even better. (We'll probably be back in that line with the 4,000 other fans.)

The clip below is an amalgamation of all the films and it really shows a number of things: the growth of the characters throughout the series, the increasing ability of actors who play them, and just how powerful the storyline really is.

Thanks JK Rowling for creating such a magnificent world. I can't wait to share it with my children! :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Police State?

UPDATE:  Fromk Andrew Sullivan,. The raid captured on helmet-cam.

He quotes Radley Balko:

[I]magine you’re asleep—behind a couple walls, after working a graveyard shift—for what you see in the video. Would you have woken up and known that these were cops breaking into your home? Might it have been in the back of your mind that you had relatives murdered by armed intruders just a year ago?
There is more to the story. Is this type of action called for? In a marijuana raid?

ORIGINAL POST: Friends, I respect police officers and the jobs they do. They put their lives on the line to keep us safe. However, this is unacceptable. The Pima County SWAT team enters the house of Jose Guerena, a former marine, and his family, looking for marijuana. Guerena hid his wife and 4-year-old son and armed himself with an AR-15 rifle, to protect his family. The SWAT team entered, and shot at him 70 times and hitting him 60 times in seven seconds. No drugs or paraphernalia were found in the residence. Please read the story; people need to be held accountable. I will have updates as they come.

Adele Remix

Three guys with a new spin on some of Adele's hits.

I like it, but it's not my favorite cover version. Still shareworthy though!

This is one of my favorite performances she does. :) I wish I could see her live!!

House Votes to Withhold Education from Medical Students

How far will the right-wing go? This makes me burn with rage. An amendment to a funding bill for the health care law signed last year was sponsored by arch-homophobe and now anti-medical Virginia Foxx (R-SC). The amendment states that no federal funding will go to any medical school that teaches abortion procedures to its students. It passed with bipartisan support, 234-182.

I have several problems with this. First of all, what the hell?! Abortion is legal, and it should be. Regardless of how one may feel about the morality or ethics of abortion, there will always be women who have them performed, whether in a back alley, someone's home, a clinic or doctor's office. As someone who actually respects life, especially of someone who is already living, I would prefer that these women see someone who is competent in their skills, so there are as little complications as possible and they may receive the support they require/want without fear of being arrested or the stigma of having one performed. Second, some abortions aren't really a choice. Sometimes babies need to be aborted to save the life of the mother. Should a woman be required to carry a baby to term when said baby was conceived during a rape? What if the baby's father was a close-blood relative of the mother, like her father, uncle, or brother? I feel like the 'respect for life' movement has jumped the ship named Sane Discourse, and is swimming to shore, hoping to make it to Crazy Town, USA. Third, I thought that republicans were all about less regulation and control and more freedom. How does this amendment allow for more freedom? Will this attachment create a better, more competent, compassionate medical field? No. Third, if you want to decrease the amount of abortions performed in the country, and the world, research has shown that proper comprehensive sex education needs to be implemented. Counseling should be provided for those women who are considering an abortion, and rhetoric should be toned down. If you are really 'pro-life,' then you should practice being pro-life for everyone. Oh, and get ready to adopt a bunch of babies.

The abortion debate is so complex and nasty. It sickens me that I have even felt the need to put in my two cents. However, when the culture wars start meddling in my professional life, I won't take it sitting down.

P.S. A book was recommended to me, Killing Rage, by Bell Hooks. It is my understanding that it suggests constructive ways to deal with rage. It might be helpful for those who feel so strongly about this issue.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New updates coming soon!!

Friends! I have been mired down by my responsibilities at work, and making some big decisions about school, so I haven't posted as much as I have wanted, recently. I'm hoping to post on such topics as; marriage equality in New York, religious language, Adele, HIV vaccine updates, deafness, and reason. Anyways, that's what I will be writing about soon! I hope you enjoy my posts as much as I enjoy writing them. Here's a music video to entertain you while you wait. It's dedicated to Neil. ;)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bi-national Couples: DOMA

Americans who are married to citizens of a different country are able to sponsor their spouses for residency, and ultimately citizenship, if that is what they choose. I have been able to witness the process first-hand (second-hand?), as my sister's husband is from Canada. It is logical and legal way to keep families together. Not all Americans have the opportunity to sponsor their spouses for residency or citizenship. The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was pushed through Congress by social conservatives due to fears that Hawaii might be the first place in the modern world, let alone state in the Union that would allow people of the same sex to be united with a marriage contract. It was signed in 1996 by President Clinton, who has since denounced the law. The third article of the act defines the federal recognition of marriage as only between a man and a woman. This is a difficult situation when it comes to citizens of states where marriage equality is a reality. As of this writing, five states and the District of Columbia allow people of the same sex the same rights and responsibilities of marriage as people of the opposite sex. Eleven other states offer civil unions, which are similar to marriage in all but name (in most states). Citizens in a legal marriage cannot sponsor their spouse for residency or citizenship under federal law. These are some of their stories.

Out4Immigration - Binational Couples for Immigration Equality in the US from Devote Campaign on Vimeo.

There have been several lawsuits challenging DOMA on the third articleEric Holder, the Attorney General has decided that his department would no longer defend it in court, as he and President Obama both agree that article three is unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the deportations of foreign spouses has not been halted. Please listen to their stories. Let's keep these families together!

The End is Nigh!

I was literally working on another (more important) blogpost when I saw this video. Oh my goodness. I loved it. This group, NMAWorldEdition, has been making videos about popular American stories for a while now. Please look at the calendar, and who 'the elect' are. It's always nice to see how other cultures view the insanity that can be American culture at times.

Get sh*t-faced? Hitler as one of the elect? Haha! So great.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spaceships of the future... now!

Virgin Galactic just had their first 'feathered' flight. This reentry technique allows the plane to slow down enough during reentry so that damage caused by extreme heating caused by friction is reduced dramatically. No more tiles needed, no more red-hot underbellies. Watch and be amazed!

Does anyone have more information about where spaceflight is going? Who will take the lead from here? Private industry, like Virgin Galactic, or public ventures, like NASA or the ESA?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Practicing Better Medicine?

A part of preparing to begin the process of medical school involves paperwork - a mountain of paperwork. This mountain is not Everest, but it is still a mountain. Ok, maybe a hill, but it was still more than I was expecting. Most of it was just, 'sign this document stating you will consent to allow other students to learn manipulation on you. Do you promise all this background information is true, etc.' A majority of the annoying stuff to fill out was health information. I've been vaccinated, but getting the proof of vaccination ended up being ridiculously round-about.

Finally I decided to call my pediatrician to get the records, I think off of the advice Neil gave me. As someone who has moved around a few times in recent years and a future medical professional, I am a strong advocate for a centralized health records system.

This concept is not a new one. Since the internet came into being, many of our 'sensitive' documents and information about our lives have found themselves online: banking information, insurance information, credit cards, investments, shopping habits, likes/dislikes and friends. Why not have a secure system in place where we can store our health histories? Moving from one part of the country to another would be much easier (for those who don't already have their health information organized). Going from specialist to specialist would no longer require a stack of paperwork to fill out, and needed information, like familial health history, might not slip through the cracks (did Uncle So-and-so have high blood pressure or COPD?).

Even having a centralized electronic health record (EHR) for a hospital/primary care facility could help improve quality of care by catching medical errors immediately or before the treatment plan begins. When prescribing medication, walk through screens could increase patient safety as drug incompatibilities and adverse affects can be highlighted before the pen reaches the Rx pad.

On a wider level, health trends and treatments could be categorized and implemented much faster if the EHR were used in conjunction with evidence based medicine.
Privacy has been cited as a concern, but with proper password/id protection, it shouldn't be a problem. Actually, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), set up in 1996 not only helped to protect patients' right to privacy, but also set up guidelines for a paperless, centralized system of electronic health records. I have seen software systems used in academics and in medical practices that allow for information to be shared without compromising privacy standards.

More can be done to assuage privacy concerns, but I believe that the benefits of having a centralized EHR system outweigh any costs. What do you think?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Planking Continued (aka the unknown internet meme)

I guess this whole 'planking' business has actually been around for a while (circa 2003), and thanks my friend Marc, I know know that this phenomenon is similar to, yet developed independently from a Korean internet meme called, 'playing dead.' The Korean meme makes more sense to me, visually, but it creeps me out. Here is a nifty video explaining the two:

So. Internet memes. Getting kind of crazy. Has anyone of you actually participated in either of these memes?


Here is more background to the phenomenon known as 'planking.' Meme's can be fun, but I don't think I get this one.

Update: Several people have sent me stories (here and here) about a man who lost his life planking. Plankers, stay cautious!

My Apartment Dream

Friends! One of my many loves is architecture and design, specifically form and function in a livable space. This youtube video, from Christian Schallert in Barcelona, is practically the epitome of this design concept.

My ideal space: not too big, clean lines, open floorplan, design elements, multi-function furniture. He's lucky he's in Barcelona. He probably doesn't need much climate control and he gets plenty of air movement. I can see how the floor plan would be perfect for a single person. Neil and I couldn't cut it. We would be too messy. I do like the idea of being able to shut things away so quickly and how the small square footage discourages accumulation of unneeded stuff.

I would want to add more sustainability functions, like a rain water tank, windmill and/or solar panels. Maybe two rooms like this could work, with an outdoor living space slash garden? What do you think Neil? We could swing this in Manhattan. ;)

Marriage Equality Update

Friends who fight the good fight! For a couple months now, a guy from California named Matt Baume has been updating the world via two youtube channels, first the Prop8-centric Stop8org, then the more inclusive Marriage News Watch. If you were ever curious as to how gay marriage rights are doing across the nation, Baume does an excellent job collecting the stories, presenting them, and then explaining what can be done to help move the country towards equality. Here is this week's video:

This issue is huge for me, for hopefully obvious reasons, if you know me. Right now I live in a state where I am allowed to get married to the person I love, but those protections and responsibilities will not follow me down Florida, where I am going to school. When you do not have marriage equality, simple things become ridiculously difficult. If we're married, Neil should be covered under my health insurance provided through the school. They are unwilling to do that, and we have to go down to Florida, crossing our fingers that he can find a job so we don't have to spend a fortune on insulin supplies (more on this issue later). That problem isn't as big as potentially losing a legal spouse due to deportation. Watch the video, follow along; this is one of the most important civil rights movements going on in the country. I hope that you care.


I don't even know what to say... Just watch and be amazed. Is there anything like this going on in the US and I've just completely missed it?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

more to come

Friends. I've been extremely busy trying to get myself ready for school in the fall. This includes doctor's visits, figuring out health insurance, moving, timing, other prior commitments (like an amazing relay race to the Cape)etc. There are a couple topics. I want to write about, including centralized health care, mental health and marriage protection rights, but they are going to have to wait for a bit while I catch up on work (which I also want to blog about). I will try and fit them in as soon as I can. In the meantime, please enjoy this glee cover of one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists: Rolling in the Deep by Adele.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

A story that should be more public

Friends, this is a story that warms my heart. A couple decides they want to help take kids out of the system and give them a better life. Because they want to keep siblings and family together, they end up with 12 children before they closed their foster license. Here is a little of bit of their story:

Their home state of Arizona just passed a law giving preference to legally married couples, over just what is best for the child(ren). This is an honorable family; one who seeks to provide love, care and protection to all its members. Unfortunately, a majority of states do not provide protections to families like this. Only five states and the District of Columbia provide full state marriage benefits, where 10 states provide benefits similar to marriage called civil unions. Families like these are so strong, yet so fragile. Only two of Roger and Steve Ham's children are legally adopted by both. If something ever happened to Roger, what would happen to their children? Marriage rights are important, for many reasons.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Softball

Yesterday, I was privileged to play a bit of softball with the Geoffrey's Mets. I was extremely nervous, because I haven't played in an actual game of baseball/softball since I was probably nine or ten years old. Here I was, subbing in on a D2 team.

It. was. AWESOME!

Yes, my senses were all heightened due to tendency to not want to screw up and I could feel every muscle in my body, but I played much better than I expected, and hopefully a lot better than they expected! I played catcher for most of the game and made a couple really important plays. I got knocked over trying to tag someone out sliding into home. Unfortunately, it was too close to call so the ump called him safe. Whatever, I wear my scrapes proudly!

I am extremely sore today. I asked Neil to remind me why I felt like it felt like I'd been hit by a truck this morning, if I had forgotten. I didn't forget. Being able to feel all those muscles I don't normally use reminds me of how important it is to change up your everyday exercise routine. If you neglect certain muscle groups during normal exercise, you will definitely pay for it later. Use ice and heat for sore muscles to prevent injury. But most importantly, try something new and have fun!