Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Trying to muster the energy...

I read plenty of self-improvement stuff, but I don't usually put these great suggestions into action. Not that I don't want to, it's just so time consuming! Right now there are so many things on my plate that I want to change that I'm really not sure where to even begin.

Drink more water. Exercise everyday, or at least 4-5 days out of the week. Get enough sleep. Go to bed at a regular, and reasonable time. Get up at the same (early) time every day. Stop napping. Eat healthier. Eat smaller portions. Cook more at home- eat out less. Keep my condo clean and organized. Go to all of my classes. Do my homework on time, do some every day. Write in my journal every day, or at least regularly. And on and on...

So, maybe I'm putting too much pressure on myself- or maybe I'm incredibly inept at running my own life? I'm not sure. But I'm a perfectionist. This works both for me and against me. I do things really well, but I don't like to do them unless I know I can do really well. I'm a huge procrastinator. I'm also fairly lazy if left to my own devices- I would much rather do something fun and unproductive than exert myself needlessly.

So, I'm just generally stressed out and I feel like my "to-do" list never gets shortened. I keep wanting to get started on an exercise program, but always am finding excuses to not start today. I have too much homework, or a test at school this week. I'm too tired. I want to sleep in when I have the chance. Same thing with my dieting- I'm too tired to cook today, I'll eat healthy starting next week. I've decided I just need to suck it up and get on with it. Obviously, life isn't going to get any easier, I'm never going to find extra time. I have to make it.

So, back to the self-help reading. I read all sorts of diet and exercise info, research, etc. Some say to just focus on making one change at a time to turn it into a habit. But this hasn't really worked out for me so far, I kind of lose focus and forget what I was working on and then change focus. So, other research says that you have a better chance of making multiple changes- major changes- all at once. You have better odds of having at least a few of them stick for the long-term. So, starting tomorrow, this is what I'm tackling. I will get up early and go to the gym before class, then I will go to all of my classes, and on, and on...

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I am aware that this is a very touchy subject for most people, and understandably so, but I just thought I'd put my own philosophies out there in the universe; hopefully, they will prompt someone else to think of such things and maybe just start to make things better here. I know that this is a big order to fill~ I'm just hoping! *Warning: this is my longest post to date- but I've just got to get this out there* To a lot of people my personal/religious views (which are VERY conservative) are sort of conflicting with political views that are, well, pretty liberal. I can understand this, but please also understand that I believe SUPREMELY that this nation was founded on the separation of church and state; and that, as such, my religious views and personal decisions are just that, mine. I believe that my religious views have no part in politics and that they *while they dictate my life choices* should not dictate others', I would like the same respect in turn; religion is religion and politics are politics. So on this general principle I feel like the conservative right dominating a political party is wrong. I also feel with all of my heart that the Democratic party's view/position is just so much more socially responsible.

While my leanings are not entirely Democratic, in the last three elections at least, this has been the lesser of two evils for me. For instance, while I know some people are afraid of socialism, I believe that my country would not be in the dire position that it is in if the government *as I believe it should* provided (or oversaw) a few basic necessities of life for all of its people: healthcare, energy, and education. I do believe that our government could provide all of these things without dramatically increasing taxes (or potentially without increasing them at all) by simply appropriately spending the money that they do have and eliminating the outrageous waste that does occur. Additionally, while all of these things would initially cost quite a lot of money, over the course of time they would save a tremendous amount more. I'll go on about these three which I think are of paramount importance, although there are many other important issues too.

Healthcare is vital for all people. And more importantly, NO ONE should be denied healthcare or go bankrupt to try to obtain it. I believe that health, good health, is a universal human right, the world has the means and the technology to do this. The current system that we have in place is completely capitalistic and for profit- huge profits, I might add, and that it is truly disgusting. First, if the government controlled healthcare it could keep the costs lower- there would be no price gouging, thus making it more economically feasible. Insurance and pharmaceutical companies make huge profits and control the healthcare market, and insurance in particular, can also choose to deny anyone they see as a risk for costing them money. By having the entire population have equal access to healthcare, people could obtain adequate access to preventative care, which is far more cost effective than emergency care and high level care required to treat simple conditions that have escalated into true medical emergencies simply because they were not treated in a timely manner. Plus, research shows that people who receive regular preventative healthcare have better overall health.

Many countries with these sort of medical, dental and pharmaceutical plans in place have been a great success- see some of the documentaries I have recommended. I have personally spoken with people from England (and visited countries with these great systems), including healthcare providers, who advocate this as a great thing. Everyone is taken care of! Everyone receives the same, good quality care! Imagine that! Many people argue that they would begin to receive substandard care under such a system or have to wait months to be seen or to have essential surgeries or other procedures, but this is simply not true. First, all of our existing doctors would not just disappear and be replaced by new "government" doctors- they would still be here, doing their jobs, I'm sure, just as they always have. And lets be honest- when it's not an emergency, how quickly do you get in for a doctor's appointment now? I had to wait almost 3 months for a dermatology appointment this summer and it's usually at least 2 months out for a regular visit with my gynecologist. I work for physicians- when you are having an elective surgery, it is scheduled based upon the surgeon's schedule and the hospital's availability. But if you go into the hospital having a heart attack, they don't even check you in, you are seen immediately (because that takes priority over someone with a minor complaint). How long do you usually wait to be seen at the emergency room? Maybe if people could go to their primary physician when they were sick (because they didn't have to worry about not being able to afford it) they wouldn't clog our hospitals for common health concerns and they could operate more efficiently. This is no different than it is in any other country with free universal healthcare. And, in case anyone wasn't aware, Americans' health isn't that great. We don't even rank in the top 25 of developed nations for life expectancy, and we have poorer health and more chronic health problems, I personally think that for such a great nation that this is inexcusable, we can and should do better.

I personally, having experienced a major health crisis with my mother when she had lung cancer, remember the stress and the financial burden of something so terrible. Trying to find ANY insurance that would cover her, and then being charged over $500 per month in premiums for just her! And being told at the oncologists office that just one particular bag of chemotherapy medicine was $13,000! Just one, and she was receiving multiple medicines at one time. Or going to the pharmacy to pick up her prescriptions and having a 10 day supply of medicine cost over $300- $30 per pill!!! This is really criminal, and for many people it is life or death- what if it were you, or your mother, or your child?

I also strongly feel that if the government controlled our energy supply that the nation would be better off as a whole. Compare the prices you were paying for gas before George W. Bush became president, and now- does it cost you more to heat your home too? Now, while I dislike Bush, he is not the sole cause of these problems, but his oil policies have not made things any better for us. I think we need to incorporate several energy and transportation methods into the solution to this problem. While we definitely need to make use of the technology we have and implement more wind, solar and water power; I think the best and cheapest option we have available is nuclear power. We now have the technology to do this well, it's clean and unlike the past we can minimize problems. Nuclear energy scares many people, but we are far beyond the Chernobyl days. We have the open space in this country to relatively isolate plants and the technology to make them very safe. Nuclear energy is so much more cost effective, what costs us $30 a month now, we could get for $3 a month- and it doesn't pollute like gas does. We also need to repair and ramp up our train system. It is so much more cost effective to transport goods by train than by semi-truck, at least for long distances. Along the same lines, I think that every metropolitan city, or even every city with more than 75-100,000 people needs to have an excellent public transportation system in place, whether that be subways or trains.

And last, but certainly not least, the one that's hurting most of us the most right now- GAS. Wow, we really need to fix this one quickly! First, we're spending a ton of money rebuilding Iraq and they have a huge financial surplus, while we have a huge deficit. They should be repaying us for our services with their only commodity, which they have a ton of- oil- period. We should not be doing this for free, and we are the only, or one of the only, countries left doing so. Also, we should be using what oil deposits we have. I care very much about our environment, and want to keep it beautiful- I'm an Alaskan by birth and absolutely want that beautiful place to be preserved (along with all of our country's beautiful places), but we also have the ability now to extract our oil without destroying the environment around us- it just needs to be done responsibly.

As a student, education is a very important issue to me. I am working four part-time jobs to pay my living expenses (which are fairly modest) and have to take out student loans for tuition to put myself through school. This is not easy, in fact, it is one of the most difficult things that I have ever done, but I think that the value of a college education is very high and the reward of a career that can adequately support myself and my future family (if need be) is worth this temporary sacrifice. I am also aware how many people never have this opportunity, or never take it because of the sacrifices that it entails. I think that education is something, like healthcare, that should be a basic human right. Everyone benefits from education individually, and society benefits from an educated populace. While my focus is mainly on making college affordable for all, this extends to all levels of education, which are sadly under par in this nation. I think that all state run institutions should be free, as a university education is in France, for example. Of course, if someone has the means to pay for an expensive private education or higher degrees, that's great, but a basic education, from pre-school on, including a bachelors degree shouldn't cause people $30-60,000 in debt.

How much better would your life be if you never had to worry about how to pay for your healthcare, especially if something catastrophic were to happen to you or a family member? Or if you could afford to go to college and didn't leave school with thousands of dollars of student loan debt hanging over your head? How much more productive would our society be if people were healthier and better educated? What about heating or cooling your home without fear that you can pay the rest of your bills, or that you can actually afford to travel to and from your job, so that you can afford to keep paying those bills? While I, like most Americans, feel that the government is already taking too much of my small paychecks, I would willingly have more taken out to have the security and equality that these measures would offer. I know that these changes are not likely to happen without some sort of revolution taking place, but I for one will continue to hope that someone else will realize the potential and good that would come from these things. Our country will quickly become a third-world nation if our middle class cannot afford to survive. We will have the very few rich and the rest living in poverty. We are living, now, more than half a century later with New Deal policies and politics (which were revolutionary and great for their time!), which no longer address our society's realities. Big change is needed for us to stay afloat, I'm just afraid that the nation is too afraid of the changes it will take.

Please get out there and register to vote! And then show up on election day and make changes happen!

Friday, October 3, 2008


I really can't believe that this person is a consideration for ANY government position, much less Vice President- and given John McCain's health record and age- lets be honest, she's one small step away from the real thing! I will admit, she did better than I expected in the Vice Presidential debate, but, then again, should the mere fact that she didn't screw up be considered a success? I don't think so. And, incidentally, she spent most of the debate talking about herself and trying to be as cute and folksy as possible- and I, for one, don't find it to be a positive or down to earth quality I want in a leader, I want someone who can be a professional and is actually well-spoken.

Here is a clip of her recent interview with Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News:

Watch CBS Videos Online

I also strongly suggest you watch Tina Fey's spot-on impersonation on Saturday Night Live's website- it's hilarious and eerily accurate!