Fun Ebola Facts #1 and #2

It’s been years since I’ve blogged, but I might as well start up again now. I don’t feel like watching TV tonight, so why not kill some time correcting some of the misperceptions regarding Ebola and the US response that I keep seeing on Facebook?

I have to say that this is also an interest of mine, which is why I’m happy to share my opinions on the topic. I spent several years working on emergency preparedness at the federal level. I was surprised by the legal constraints on the federal government, That’s part of what led me to law school. (I will also say that I was very impressed by the thoughtfulness of the really smart people who have spent entire careers thinking about preparing for emergencies much, much worse than Ebola.)*

Fun Ebola Fact #1

Misperception: We should shut down the borders to travelers from West Africa.

FACT: That won’t work. For several reasons.

First off, people travel all around the world. The gentleman who died of Ebola in Texas flew to the US from Brussels. I believe he flew on a connecting flight, so we might have known where his trip originated. But suppose he traveled by car to Egypt, then flew to Istanbul, then thru Paris to the U.S. Would we know that? I doubt it. Especially if he crossed a border illegally somewhere and wasn’t registered by the immigration services.

Second, people ignore those types of orders and find ways around them.  For instance, a few years ago there was a US citizen who flew to Italy who had been diagnosed with XDR TB (extensively drug resistant tuberculosis). While the government was working to bring him back to the US safely, he ignored instructions and flew commercial flight to Canada and then drove across the US border. You can read about that here.

Fun Ebola Fact #2

Misperception: The failure of the CDC to enforce infection control procedures in Dallas are why the two nurses got infected.

FACT:  It’s not the CDC’s role to enforce infection control procedures in hospitals.

We live in a federalist system, which means the federal government only has the powers granted to it in the Constitution. The remaining powers (such as the “police powers” — the power to protect the health and safety of citizens) are powers reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment. While the CDC has had protocols for health care workers posted on the web, it is the states’ responsibility to manage health and public health within their state.

The CDC doesn’t even have the power to go in and quarantine individuals. As explained here, the CDC only has authority to isolate or quarantine individuals trying to enter the US or moving between states.

What Should You Do?

There are a few things you can do:

  1. Get a flu shot. You’re much more likely to die from the flu. Depending on the severity of the flu season, over 40,000 people die each year from influenza. Only one person has died from Ebola in the United States ever!
  2. Wash your hands. Always good advice.
  3. Call your Congressman and ask if they supported the President’s funding request for responding to Ebola in West Africa. The best chance at preventing further spread to the US is to help the international community contain it in West Africa by supporting the health and public health systems there.
  4. Stop using Ebola as a political topic. You can be a better person than that.  While I don’t think we have any need to panic, this is a serious disease that is likely to kill a lot more people around the world before it is brought under control and has nothing to do with which political party is in charge.

Next Fun Ebola Facts?

Have a question or concern about Ebola or the US response? Post it in the comments and I’ll see if I have any facts or opinions that I can use for the next post.

* Now that I no longer have to think about these things, I sleep A LOT better at night.

Disclaimer:  Obviously, these are just my opinions, except for the parts that are facts.

Tomorrow’s the Day?

Ok, first an apology that it’s been so long since I’ve posted and longer since I’ve posted regularly. But the truth is I’m often too tired or brain dead to write anything when I get home.

Ok, on to the post…

– = – = – = – = –

I’ve felt anxious much of today. It started when I was in class, but instead of paying attention, I was following SCOTUSBlog’s live coverage of the Supreme Court opinions being released today. But the anxiety’s continued after today’s opinions ended.

Maybe it’s because tomorrow the Supreme Court is going to tell me whether I and my friends are as valuable as human beings as straight people. I don’t have my hopes up.

Sure, it could be a broad ruling akin to Loving v. Virginia, but from all the things I’ve read that is pretty unlikely. I do think they will overturn Prop 8, but I think they’ll do it on fairly narrow grounds. While that’s a positive step, and definitely better than letting it stand, it won’t have the same impact of a nationwide ruling that gay people are protected under the Equal Protection Clause and should be treated equally.

I also think DOMA will be overturned. That will be a big step in reality, even if it’s only overturned on federalism grounds.

I try not to fathom the possibility that we could be punched in the gut like we were in Bowers v. Hardwick.

I’m going to be in class again tomorrow at 10 a.m. I won’t be paying attention, as my eyes will be on SCOTUSBlog. I hope I’m wrong and I hope that tomorrow there’s celebration in the streets like the night Obama won. But, I’m not getting my hopes up. I’m afraid we’ll still be reading the opinion trying to figure out just how much ground — if any — we’ve gained.

But I’m still hopeful because the times they are a changing.

What has helped calm me today is to remind myself how quickly society’s changing, whether or not the Supreme Court agrees. On the day these cases were argued, over 2.7 million people changed their Facebook page to some variation of the Equality symbol. Many of those people were straight. Even some friends of mine, that I wouldn’t have expected to be so openly supportive changed their pictures.

The times they are a changing.

My niece, who just graduated high school had a kid in her class come out in 7th grade. When I was in that school, no one came out. That wouldn’t have been a possibility I’d have ever considered even if I had realized I was gay that far back. I asked her if kids made fun of him. “Oh sure,” she said, “but not for that. He’s weird in other ways.”

The times they are a changing.

But are they changing fast enough? Just two days ago, a drag queen was assaulted on 14th Street, smack in the heart of DC’s gay neighborhood. People stood around and videotaped it so they could post it online. If hateful shit like this can happen in a place that’s traditionally as progressive as DC, then gay kids in rural PA are still at risk no matter how progressive my niece’s classmates have become.

But her classmates will soon be old enough to vote. And then old enough to get married and raise children. They’ll realize that same-sex marriage isn’t a threat to their marriage. And hopefully, their children will be raised with open gay friends and family in their life and they’ll realize it’s no big deal. History has always moved forward. Sometimes in fits and starts, but over the long arc, fairness and progress always win. (I guess that actually says something good about mankind, right?)

So, is the Supreme Court opinion even important? I hope it is. While the government recognizing us as equal would be a big step, it would still only be one small step towards people recognizing us as equal.

Keep your fingers crossed that I’m wrong and all this anxiety is for naught. Maybe Hollingsworth v. Perry will be my generation’s Loving.

PS. Sorry if this post rambles a little, but I’m trying to capture my mood and feelings and am not spending a lot of time editing.

Poached Eggs!

I think I’ve finally cracked the secret of poached eggs!

I’ve always loved poached eggs. It’s probably my favorite way to eat eggs. Sometimes I even poach them until the yolks are hard, which basically makes them a hot hard-boiled egg.

I’ve been practicing making poached eggs the authentic way. Putting them in the little medal cups in the special pan really makes “steamed” eggs. Poaching means cooking in liquid.

This morning, I used a wider and shallower pan. I brought the water to just below a boil, where a fair number of bubbles were coming up from the bottom. I’ve always used the trick of putting a little vinegar in the water to help the egg whites bind together so the egg didn’t ooze all over the pan.

But I’ve never been able to get them really stay in shape. I’d get a big stringing egg, that was all crosslinked, and sort of in the right shape, but with lots of straggling pieces. This morning, I dumped the egg from the measuring cup into the water FASTER, and it worked. They stuck together nicely!

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Resolution #1 continues!

Resolution #1

Even though it’s only been 2013 for a few hours, I’ve been working on some of my resolutions for the last few days.

Resolution #1: Eat Better!

Not necessarily to eat healthier, but  to eat better. I’m going to cook more. Try different foods and different recipes. Because I’ve been so busy, I end up eating out a lot at the same local restaurants, and it’s boring.

So, here’s what I’ve cooked so far this weekend.

Chicken Adobo

I found this recipe on the Amateur Gourmet blog, but it is from a cookbook by April Bloomfield, A Girl and Her Pig.

I used half the chicken it called for, because my dutch oven isn’t that big, but I left everything else the same. I mean, why mess with any recipe that calls for two heads (yes, heads. Not cloves) of garlic. It was delicious, although based on the layer of fat on the top once I put the leftovers in the kitchen, it’s fattier than I thought. I guess that’s from the chicken skins.

IMG_0202I served it over rice, with a kale and lettuce salad.

Scallops with Quinoa and Pomegranate Gastrique

This recipe came from the Sprouted Kitchen cookbook. I left out many of the herbs in the quinoa, because I forgot to write them down when I went shopping, but it still turned out pretty good.

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Figs with Gorgonzola and Sopressata

This was a recipe I saw on the Closet Cooking blog. I had to go to four different supermarkets before I could find figs, but it was worth it.

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Today’s lunch

In the Parisian style, I think today’s lunch is just going to be some cheese and bread. I have a bunch of gorgonzola cheese left.

So at least one resolution is off to a good start.

Will 2013 Be The Year?

Well, it’s almost the end of 2012. That means I’m nostalgic about the past year, and hopeful about the future. Happens every year.

I was reminded about how recurrent this feeling is by an email. I use my email inbox as a To Do list. I only keep emails in there that I need to respond to, or to remind me of something (like something I ordered which hasn’t arrived yet). At the bottom of the inbox is a message trail which started in January 2008 between me and my best girlfriend. The subject line is, “Getting my shit together.”

I was talking about how 2008 was going to be my year. I was going to pull it all together. I was going to be well-rested, hit the gym frequently, dress better, have a more active social life, excel at work, and solve all (at least most) of the world’s problems. Ok. I didn’t have all of those things on the list, but you get the idea.

My friend thought it was great idea and summed it up perfectly, “I really love all that I get done in my life, but I wish I could do it with more grace.”

<sigh>

The next email in the chain is from May 2010, where I told her that those two emails were still in my inbox. Not because I’d achieved my goal and wanted to celebrate, but because I hadn’t completely given up on the idea of getting it all together.

<sigh>

And now it’s almost 2013, so I’m going to have to give it another try!

I’m starting to think that it’s impossible, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep trying. Maybe that’s what it’s all about: the adventures in trying.

Happy New Year!

So, I’ve made a few resolutions. Nothing formal and strict, just some general goals for the new year. Since one of them is blog more regularly, I’m going to leave the rest for another time.

Surviving Sandy and Other Updates

It’s been almost two months since I last posted. Wow, this semester’s been kicking my ass, I guess.

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy blew through here yesterday, with a little rain continuing today. The lights flickered once last night, but otherwise it was pretty uneventful here. Living downtown, all the power lines are underground, so I’ve never lost power in the six years I’ve been in DC. I haven’t gone out yet to see if there’s much damage with tree branches down, etc, but given the last couple of years of big storms and the dorecho we had this summer, I think all of the weak branches were already down.

I spent yesterday catching up on the pile of magazines that has been piling up all semester. Then I watched three movies:

I also cooked. Beef stew in the crockpot on Sunday, and chili, yesterday. Now the freezer is stocked, and I have food for the week.

The best part of Hurricane Sandy was that they closed everything yesterday and today: work, my trainer, school. I’ve had two days with ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do! It’s been fabulous. I’m even going to celebrate by taking a nap later today.

My Birthday

Sunday was my birthday. I’m 41.

I had a small birthday party at my house on Saturday. It was a good excuse to clean up, throw stuff out, and invite some people over. There was a good turnout and I think everyone had a good time.

And mother nature gave me two days of relaxation, which is the second best present I got.

School

This semester has gone pretty quickly. We’re already in Week 11. I had one midterm, which I should get the grade for this week. Last year, I would have loved to have a midterm, so I had some idea what to expect on exams. This year, it was just a pain in the ass. For finals, we at least get about a week to study. For midterms, it was just business as usual: class on Tuesday, exam in class on Thursday. And a one-hour twenty minute exam isn’t very long for an essay. It was hard to get everything down and organized in that short amount of time.

We’re a week away from spring registration. I don’t think I’m going to try to squeeze all my classes into two nights. It hasn’t worked out as well as I had hoped. First, I still have to go in and do office hours for the law review. Since I don’t to do that from 9:30-11:30 pm, I end up going in a third day, anyway. And because I have to leave work early on Tuesday and Thursday, I end up having to work later on Wednesday, so I get home about the same time I would if I had class.

Oh well, I gave it a shot.

It’s almost November. That means I need to start thinking about outlines and studying for finals. So I don’t have to take much time off work, I’m hoping to get started earlier this year. Maybe I’ll at least be able to get some of it done ahead of time. Luckily two of my finals are at the end of the exam period, so that gives me some extra time, too.

I know I’ve said it before, but I’m going to try to do a better job of staying on top of posting.

Back to School

I’ve been back to school for two weeks, actually, but am just now getting a chance to catch up and write a blog post. Thank goodness for the three-day weekend.

It was kind of hard going back after having the summer off. I didn’t get as much done around the apartment or in DC over the summer as I had planned. It went so quickly!! I guess that’s ok, partly because it means I just wasted some time and relaxed. And, I did get a fair amount done.

This year, I only have class Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then go to school on Monday just for office hours for law review. Wednesdays I work later, head home and then go to the trainer. Last year I had class at 6 pm every night. While it’s nice to have a little free time, it’s been confusing because I have to keep track of what day of the week it is, and where I go on which nights. I double booked myself twice the first week getting used to the schedule.

I didn’t do that at all last year, I think. Maybe it was the excitement (fear) that comes with starting law school. Or maybe I was just hypervigilant about my schedule. Or maybe I’m just getting older and forgetful, even though I try to use the calendar on my phone/computer.

The semester’s been good so far. The workload is reasonable, nothing seems too hard, yet. I’m taking:

  • Constitutional Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Family Law

What’s not on that list? That’s right! No Legal Rhetoric this year! Although I do have to write a comment for law review, but not until spring semester, so there’s time to worry about that later.

It’s Been a Year!?

It’s been a year since I started law school. Wow! A year goes by so quickly.

Yesterday, a few of us were invited to give our advice to the incoming part-time students and to hang out with them over lunch to answer their questions. I remember how excited and nervous I was when I was in their seat. Law school was finally happening; the culmination of several years of planning. First deciding I wanted to go, then studying for the LSAT, then taking the LSAT, then getting the score, then applications, waiting for admissions, lots of paperwork, financial aid forms. And it was all about to start.

That morning, they had their practice lecture on the Hairy Hand case. It was their first experience reading casebooks. I remember how confusing that was and how overwhelming it felt. And while I’m a little nervous starting second year (three doctrinal classes instead of two, and I don’t know any of the professors), it’s nothing like it was the first year. Sometimes you forget just how much you’ve learned.

So, I tried to give the students the good advice I was given and the advice I wish I had been given.

  • Give up on trying to do everything perfectly. Figure out what you can stop doing, or do less perfectly. I told them about the time I went to Target and bought socks because it would take less time than doing laundry.
  • Set limits. Take nights off. Say, “This paper is good enough. I need to go have dinner with my friends.” Stop studying.
  • Don’t get behind. Keep up with the reading.
  • Don’t get involved first year. As a part-time student, I have three years to get involved after first year’s over. Go to meetings and events, but don’t sign up for any roles until you’re sure you have school under control.
  • Outline early. This was opposite advice we’d been given. Everyone said it could wait until after Thanksgiving. It can wait, but I think it created a lot more stress than was necessary. So, I told them to start early, even if it was only a rough outline summarizing each section, or only if they spent a few hours a month doing it.

Weirdest Dream EVER!

Last night, I had a series of dreams that was probably the weirdest dream ever. I kept waking up and falling back asleep into the same dream, or — what seemed at the time at least — the next scene in the dream.

First, I was driving, but couldn’t drive through the deep, narrow gorge because, during the July derecho, a tree at least 200-feet tall had fallen into the gorge and was wedged almost the whole length of the gorge blocking it. We managed to get the Jeep far enough down the length of the gorge that I could drive over the top few limbs, but then the gorge was blocked by a landslide. Woke up and fell back asleep on the other side of the gorge.

Everyone thought the psychotic serial killer was getting better, which was why he was allowed more freedom at the hospital visits. But then he’d slip back into his killer personality and was trying to kill me. Woke myself up from that one pretty quick. Everyone knows nothing good comes from getting killed in your dream by a serial killer. And I woke up pretty scared. That was one of the really intense parts of the dream.

So I fell back asleep thinking I should make a movie based on that serial killer. Since it scared me so much, it’d make a great horror film. The problem was that my movie’s star kept slipping too much into the serial killer role and was trying to kill me. Woke up and fell back into that dream a few times.

The next part is a little hazy. It involved a house at the beach, my sister’s house, and the house next door where a random Facebook friend was training for a marathon while also storing raw chicken necks on his front porch. Then we left his house and ended up in my parents yard where I was attacked by a giant bald eagle who kept pecking at me while a fox (the small, brown, woodland creature) with a face that reminded me of Antonio Banderas napped nearby on the pillow it had carried out of the woods.

What do you think it could mean?

One of the Reasons Dating in DC is Hard

One of the biggest problems with trying to date in DC is that everyone’s busy. Busy with work. Busy with school. Busy with social lives and current friends. I’ve recently had two experiences that have reminded me of this.

Guy #1

A few weeks ago, I started emailing with a guy on OkCupid. After a few messages there, he gave me his email as an easier way to continue our conversation. The email looked familiar. I checked my Gmail and sure enough, we had chatted before.

About 2.5 years ago, we met on Match.com. We had chatted for a while, and then moved the conversation to Gmail, where we spent several weeks trying to arrange our first date. It never happened because of work schedules, and other events. And then I started dating someone and we lost touch.

Now that we’d reconnected, we finally went out. The first date was nice. On the second date, I don’t think either one of us was feeling the magic. But, it took about 2.5 years from when we first met to find that out.

Guy #2

I met Guy #2 in January of 2009 through a mutual friend that I see occasionally. We traded information and became Facebook friends. Again, we tried scheduling a date, but conflicting calendars didn’t allow it. At some point, we stopped trying. Over the years, he’s popped up on my newsfeed and I never thought much about it, other than the fact that he’s really cute.

A few weeks ago, we ran into each other at an event, but didn’t talk. When he got home, he emailed me on Facebook and asked if I had been at the event. We chatted until a few hours past my bedtime, and set up a date for the next Friday.

It was a really nice first date. And it only took 3.5 years to happen.

Is there a solution?

If you’re single, you can’t spend all your time cruising bars and dating websites trying to meet people. But, it is so easy in DC to get caught up in all the activities of a busy urban life. So how do you resolve the conflict between wanting to meet someone and our current social lives? When you’re loving your life (and hopefully your job), how do you make sure you’re making space and time to let someone else in?

And how weird is Fate that it reconnected me with two guys within a month?

Would love to hear your comments below.