It’s My Blog and I’ll Rant if I Want To

Just a friendly warning – this is going to be a rant.

People or institutions which display poorly thought out ideas and actions make me want to scream.  I listen to a lot of talk radio, and it frequently sounds to me like people are spouting out a bunch of crap that they don’t know a lot about.  Take Sarah Palin and the Paul Revere story.  I heard her comments described as “word salad”.  Can’t think of anything better to call it.
A few months back, I got a letter from the Allied Health department at Orange Coast College to tell me that once again, I did not make the cut for the cardiovascular technology program for Fall 2011.  When I first applied to the program in March of 2009, they said it would be about 1-2 years.  Now they are saying that the list has been stable at three years.  Really?  Why weren’t we told that two years ago?
This really irritates me to no end.  I mean really, how hard is it to count the number of people on a list?  I guessing the counting portion of keeping a list is not what they do well.
And all of this wouldn’t bother me nearly as much if they took a student’s qualifications into consideration.  This is true for all of the allied health programs at OCC.  They are first come, first serve.  Let’s think about this for a minute.  During the economic downturn, many people are going back to school to pursue new careers.  So these waiting lists have gotten longer in recent years.  I understand that.  The downside is that some of the people on those lists shouldn’t be anywhere near a patient, but they get a chance to be in these programs just because they finished the pre-requisites and they got to the top of the list.
OCC doesn’t care if a student has previously been unsuccessful in work or school.  So someone who couldn’t hold down a job, or decided not to apply themselves to an educational process still gets into the programs.  Every student has to pass the “weed-out” class Anatomy & Physiology, but they have 3 to 4 times that they can attempt the class.  OCC doesn’t care how long it takes a student to pass the pre-requisite classes, as long as they pass with a C or better.
So if you are in a hospital, and a technician comes in to do an ultrasound or respiratory treatment, how do you feel about having someone treating you that just barely made it through school?  Or maybe these students never get hired after graduation because the medical institutions see that they aren’t all that great.  In the meantime, more qualified applicants are sitting on the waiting lists.
Another downside to this “first come, first serve” policy is that the highly qualified students are finishing their pre-requisites and going to other schools that actually have a merit based application process.  And that is most of the other community colleges in this area (e.g. Cypress, Golden West, Saddleback).  Because of the merit based application process, the good students are getting into programs faster at schools other than OCC.  The problem is that OCC is the only school that offers some of the Allied Health programs.
You may think this is just sour grapes, and I don’t know what I’m talking about.  I’ve worked with some of these students as a tutor, and some of them have no business pursuing a health profession.  So my advice to the health care consumer:  ask questions about the practitioners that you encounter.  If you aren’t happy with their patient skills or technical knowledge, request another technician.  I know this has opened my eyes.  I always thought that people practicing in the medical fields were the cream of the crop.  Now I know that at least some of the them can wait patiently and have nothing better to do with their time.
End of rant.
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Moderation – unfashionable?

Politics seems to be an arena where extremes get all the attention.  The views of Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Mike Malloy, Keith Olberman, and many others seem to get all the focus of media.

What happened to moderate views?  Having opinions that straddle the left and right are completely out of fashion these days.  And if you dare to think that the extremes should talk to one another to build consensus?  Heresy!!
Okay, I do have some opinions that might not be considered moderate.  I think they are moderate, but you be the judge:
  • get rid of the IRS and all the convoluted tax code.  Institute a flat value-added tax for EVERYONE.  Make everyone pay their fair share, including corporations that aren’t currently paying anything.
  • cut spending in the areas of the budget that are the largest (e.g., social security, defense spending).  These areas have more money to play with.  Forget all the peanuts like foreign aid, NPR, and Planned Parenthood.  There just ain’t a lot of money in these areas to cut out that will make a real difference.
  • provide healthcare for everyone.  Create more competition in healthcare insurance by eliminating state borders.
  • balance the federal budget.  Stop borrowing money from foreign governments.  Period.
  • stop busting unions.  Who cares if public employees organize?  Let them strike and hire around them.  If there aren’t any qualified people to hire, then maybe you need to pay attention to what they are asking for.
  • if you are a Christian – bully for you.  I’ve done the church thing and it didn’t work for me.  I’d rather have a great discussion with a well-educated mind that knows how to think than a person who wants to talk about how religion guides their life.
  • if you watch Fox News, try watching MSNBC once in a while.  If you watch MSNBC, try watching Fox News occasionally.  Try to find something that you can agree with.
  • engage in a conversation with someone who doesn’t agree with you.  Find common ground.  Don’t yell.
I recently had a discussion with a staunch Republican about immigration.  Believe it or not, we found common ground.  But we also had areas we disagreed on.  But we didn’t yell at each other.  Too often we have “discussions” that have the sole purpose to reinforce our opinions and views.  Talking is about communicating, not a dictation of opinions.
Ranting complete.
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Resolving to not resolve

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions.  I’ve tried them and I usually fail.  Then I feel like a failure, which leads to more resolutions to stop failing.  It’s a vicious circle.  So I have stepped off that merry-go-round.  Here are some of the resolutions that never made it to the success column:

  • Lose weight – who hasn’t tried this one?  And I continue to yo-yo back and forth, so that’s just the way I am.  Case closed.  Well, not really – I’ll be watching calories or points probably for the rest of my life.  The best I can hope for is some kind of dementia that erases my thoughts about my weight but not everything else.  Is there a calorie focused Alzheimers?
  • Hand write notes to people to say thank you or let them know I’m thinking about them.  This has never even gotten off the ground – ask my family.  I finally gave up on birthday cards because I never got around to sending them.  Somewhere I have a pile of unsent cards some of which are years old.  The best I can do these days is send an email that lets a friend or loved one know that I’ve been reading their Facebook page diligently.  How lovely.
  • Get more exercise.  See “Lose weight”.
  • Eat a healthier diet.  Again, see “Lose weight”.
  • Stop drinking.  When I used to drink, I would set a goal to stop for one month.  Never made it that far.  This resolution was abandoned and replaced with a 12 step group.  And not at New Years.  But visit a 12 step group in early January.  The rooms swell with well meaning addicts.  They are usually gone by February.
  • Watch less TV.  Where do I start with this one?  At one point in the past ten years, I was down to one 19″ TV and if I wasn’t in front of it when a show was telecast, I didn’t watch it.  Now we have three, soon to be four, flat screen TVs, all of which are hooked up to a satellite receiver and DVR.  Once we find a show we like, we record it.  We have every premium channel there is, and some sports programming that you pay extra for.  I actually feel guilty if I don’t watch some shows because we paid extra for them.  Somewhere I have gone terribly wrong with the goal of not sitting in front of a TV as much.
  • Read more books.  Okay, I’ve made some progress on this one since I got a Kindle, but with all the TV watching I have to do, playing with my iPad, and school work, who has time to read?
So I ask, why bother?  This year’s resolution:  no resolutions!  I’m just going to continue my on-going effort to lead a better life.  Sounds good to me.
Posted in fun, HEALTH, moderation, Truth | Leave a comment

Crap

This seems like an apt title for a mish-mash of topics with relevance in my life right now.

Yesterday afternoon, we had a neighborhood water main break under the street.  Brown water was running in between the asphalt and the gutter, actually lifting the street up.  Pretty cool to watch.  Not fun to repair.  The city got here around 4:00 in the afternoon, and despite budget cuts, they worked most of the night to get it fixed.  This morning we are back in business.  However, in the mean time, we had no running water.  And being in the middle of remodeling, we had no containers to fill with water before they shut it off.  If you read between the lines, that means no way to flush toilets.  Crap.

Solution?  We used the port-a-crapper currently sitting in our driveway for the construction workers.  Gross?  Yes.  Functional?  Yes.  Do I have a new appreciation for running water.  YES.

Speaking of crap, I’m just starting to go through the voters guide and all the eco-unfriendly voting clutter that has filled our mailbox in recent weeks.  I’ve developed a methodology for making voting decisions:

  1. For any particular ballot initiative or candidate, look at who supports them.
  2. Research the supporting organizations or individuals.  I can usually find more information on them than I can the candidates because they have a lot of money and money buys attention.
  3. If I agree with who or what they are, consider voting for the initiative/candidate.  Otherwise, no go from me.

Example:  Proposition 23 was put on the ballot and is widely supported by oil companies.  This initiative will suspend the new state climate change law unless unemployment is under 5.5%  Ever wonder if oil companies support green initiatives?  Ever wonder if the Pope has considered converting to Islam?  We have installed solar panels, drought resistant landscaping, and low voltage lighting.  I drive a hybrid.  I think oil companies are full of crap.  That was easy.

Now the hard part.  Going through the entire ballot and doing the same analysis on every single issue or candidate.  Crap.

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My Bucket List

I’ve been thinking about dying lately.  No, not “I’m gonna die!  Oh, sh$%^&*, what am I going to do?”  More like, “what do I want to accomplish now that I’m in my 50’s and I have a lot less time to get things done?”

I would like to take a whole bunch of science classes, like chemistry, biology, and physics.  But they take a lot of time and energy.  I could devote the next 10 years to this alone – for what?  So I can be really smart?

I would like to get really buffed.  You know, weight lifting, aerobics, the whole bit.  But I don’t know how, and I’m kind of lazy.  This ship may have sailed.

I would like to be the kind of person who sends cards all the time, not just for special occasions.  As it is, I don’t send cards at all, and when I do, they are usually late.  Accomplishing this would be like swimming upstream, I fear.

I would like to stop watching so much TV.  But I think I really need an intervention to get this one done.  I have the TV on even as I write this.

I would like to be more forgiving to people in general.  Is this really possible?  I’ve heard people say that they can forgive others, but I think they just secretly harbor resentments like the rest of us normal folks.

I would like to make a difference.  Create or do something that really matters.  This one I think has a real possible positive outcome.  But again, I don’t know who to contact to let them know that I’m available for being amazing.  For free, even.  What, do I write a resume that starts with a Job Target of “want to make difference by being a wonderful, stellar human being.  Willing to work for free.”  I just don’t think anyone would really believe me.  I have done some volunteer work, but my current volunteer gig is kind of boring.  I sit around doing nothing a whole lot.

I would like to throw huge parties that people were dying to attend.

I would like to attend all of the grand slam tennis tournaments.  But only if the weather isn’t too hot.

I would like to celebrate all the religious holidays in a decidedly secular manner.  I fear this might offend some people.  And I really don’t want to do any fasting for those holidays that require it.  Give me the feasting holidays only, please.

When I think of some more things for my list, I’ll let you know.  Maybe making the list is the closest I’ll ever get to some of these things.

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Summer? What summer?

This weekend is Labor Day.  I’m still wondering what happened to Memorial Day and the 4th of July.  Although I did take a class this summer, it was more of a distraction than a pursuit of knowledge.  Why?  Because of THE remodeling project.  Wanna have a good time?  Invite dozens of contractors into your home to make your life interesting.

We have been planning this project for a year, and we finally got started on the first day of June.  It’s been pretty much non-stop ever since.  I don’t know how people work and remodel at the same time.  I have spent so much time nearly everyday doing a  myriad of tasks.  Most of which I haven’t done a whole lot of – ever.  For example:

  • Trying to figure out how to “edge” tiled surfaces.  I thought that tile just stopped when you were done.  WRONG!  There needs to be a quarter round or 90 degree corner to give the tile a “finished” appearance.  So just picking out tile isn’t enough.
  • Washing dishes in a bathroom sink.  This has made me appreciate the fact that kitchen counters are higher (more back friendly) than bathroom counters.  I never knew this before, and I had to use that information in specifying cabinets in the kitchen and downstairs bathroom.  And now I REALLY appreciate dishwashers of the automated variety.
  • Shopping for large dollar amount items and writing some really large checks.  This just isn’t getting any easier.  The second line of the check simply doesn’t fit all those words when the amount is big.  Oh, yeah, and my bank account is dwindling.
  • Walking by a port-a-potty in our driveway and not even noticing it.
  • Calling people to get references on contractors.  This is so awkward.  This involves calling complete strangers to ask questions about their remodeling [hell].  Then asking them if the contractor was wonderful or sucked.  And hope like crazy that they don’t give you one word answers.  I don’t like talking on the phone that much, so this one really isn’t very easy for me.
  • Asking lots of stupid questions to anyone who will listen and possibly respond.  Questions like “Why do sinks have to have vents?” and “Which comes first:  flooring or appliances?”.  One of my favorite set of questions is:  “How much does this cost?”, quickly followed with “Can you do better?”.  Sometimes I follow that up with “I think I’ll check online for a better price.”  That doesn’t always work, but I’ve been known to check and come back later begging for the deal we made before I left.
  • Trying to regulate the amount of pain relievers/killers I take for all the headaches I’ve had this summer.  Okay, I’ve had headaches before, but not usually with this frequency.  Reminds me of “escrow” headaches.  Homeowners, you know what I’m talking about.

But this too shall pass.  It’s going to make holiday shopping real easy this year.  There ain’t gonna be any presents.  We bought ourselves a remodel.  How am I going to wrap that and put it under the tree?

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Shhhh…I want to listen to silence

We finally got the plans finalized, the permits issued, and the contractors lined up.  Well, most of them anyway.  And the noise started today.  First step?  Build a temporary staircase (pun intended).  It was so noisy, even the dog was nervous.  But it is very quiet right now.  I love silence.

In the next couple of days, they are going to start taking up parts of the foundation and putting down new pads and footers to support the new load distribution for the first and second floors.  Important stuff since we are taking down the entire back (load-bearing) wall – all 25 feet of it.  Oh, yeah, and the major interior wall that holds up the second floor is going away too.  And we started by simply envisioning a kitchen remodel.  This has definitely gotten MUCH bigger as the planning progressed.

When the concrete saws show up, I’m trying to think of how to put noise canceling earphones on the dog and the cats.  I don’t know what would annoy them more – the noise or the earphones.

Anyway, wish us luck.  I’m stocked up on Aleve and my favorite anti-anxiety medication.  I’m good to go.

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