Category Archives: My Random Thoughts

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.

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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.

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.

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?

I’m 40!

I’m 40!

That’s not really news since I’ve been 40 for a little over 8 months. (Shit! I’m closer to 41 than 40 now?) But, because a good friend of mine had his 40th birthday two days ago, we got to talking about The Big 4-0. Turning 40 wasn’t a big deal for me.

The only birthday I had a problems with was my 25th. I was still in school, and felt like I was waiting for my life to begin, but had already wasted a quarter of a century! Turning thirty was fine. That doesn’t divide into 100 evenly.

My 40th was actually good for me. The last two years of my 30’s had some rough spots and as I was approaching 40, it felt like things were finally turning around and going in the right direction. I had a quiet birthday with a few close friends, but really didn’t do a lot of celebrating. I wanted to just focus on the really good things in my life and enjoy them immensely. Quality over quantity.

But now that my friend, Gary (not his real name because he doesn’t want me to tell his real age), turned 40, we got to talking about what it meant to us. For me, there were two realizations that came with being 40. I call them realizations even though I had thought about both before, but hitting 40 made them sink in.

The first realization was that since I remember when my parents were in their 40‘s and they were old then, I must be old now.

The second was that there were a lot of things that were never going to happen in my life. That’s the hardest part of getting older. I’m not sure that some of these were really things I wanted to happen, but it was nice to know there was the possibility of it happening. But, now that I’m older, even the possibility is gone. Here’s a partial list.

  • I’m never going to be a college or professional athlete. (Let’s face it. If it’s an activity you can learn and excel at at 40, then it’s not a real sport.)
  • I’m never going to have kids in my 20’s or 30’s.
  • I will never be an astronaut. (I guess this is ok, since I hate to fly.)
  • I’m never going to just up and move to San Francisco and work in a coffee shop or bookstore.
  • I’m not going to get married before I turn 40.
  • I will never compete in the Olympics.
  • I’m never going to be the “hot, young thing” walking into the gay bar. (Unless I go to the bar above Dupont Italian Kitchen.)
  • I’m not going to backpack across Europe for the summer.

I guess some of this is ok. I’m actually in some of the best shape of my life thanks to the gym and my trainer. I’m actually feeling more athletic than I ever have (more on this in a future post). I have great friends. I had two first dates this week, both of which went well. And when I finally finish school and pay off student loans, I may have enough money to have a kid on my own if I want to. (Is 75 too old to be a father?)

Overall, 40‘s looking pretty good.

Happy DC Pride!

This weekend was DC Pride. It was earlier this year, yet still managed to be one of the hottest days ever. I guess mother nature likes seeing the gays with their shirts off.

I have mixed feelings about Pride. It’s great to be out and proud. It’s clear that people’s views on homosexuality (such a clinical term!) tend to be more positive if they know someone who’s LGBT. But maybe we take it too far sometimes. If you’re into leather jockstraps, great. Just not sure I need to see it on a parade float. And no one needs that much body glitter. For many, it’s just an excuse to spend the day drunk. Walking home from the grocery store at 3 pm (the parade started at 4:30), I saw one guy stumbling out of Cobalt. His friends were barely able to hold him up.

Also, Pride has become very commercialized. Several beer companies and the local banks all had cars in the parade. While it’s great that you want our business, I’d prefer if you did some lobbying on our behalf, instead of just trying to get our business. Last year there was even an Idaho Potato car in the parade!

But this year, I went in with different expectations. Instead of wondering if the images we were creating were “good” or “bad” for the community, I went in with the attitude that everyone’s there to be who they want to be. And for some, that means dancing in a leather jockstrap. I guess if you can wear leather in temperatures near 90, God bless ya.

I was thinking about this after reading a great quote at Breaking The Illusion (a blog by one of the hottest men ever!). In response to a reader who was worried he would be seen as “too gay” if he does certain things. Davey’s response was:

It’s not your job to shatter every stereotype there is about gay people.

He then goes on to tell the reader that he should put his energy into being himself, whatever that may be. It was a beautiful thought.

At the end of the night, several of us were sitting on my roof deck drinking beer with a straight neighbor and his friend. One guy in my group said that he didn’t think people should take their kids to the Pride parade because it would lead to awkward conversations. My straight neighbor challenged him and said that’s why people should take their kids to the parade. It’s an interesting question. How would you explain to a young child what’s going on? “Daddy, why is that woman not wearing a shirt?” 

Here are some pics from the parade. (Click for larger versions.) The Festival was today, and wasn’t that exciting other than a delicious hot sausage sandwich (my favorite carnival/fair food). Since I’m trying to drop some weight this summer, that was a special treat. And I went swimming afterwards.

This Little Piggy Wants to be a Dragon!

2012 is going to be a good year for me. I can feel it.

I’ve had some rough times over the last few years, but things have been steadily improving and it seems that everything is lining up. That’s why I KNOW 2012 is going to be a good year.

Chinese dragon

Image via Wikipedia

The Year of the Dragon

2012 is the Year of the Dragon. Since this is going to be my year, I figured I must be a dragon. It makes sense when you look at the descriptions:

      • Dragons are frequently helpful but rarely ask for help.
      • They prefer to be alone.
      • They are hardworking

But, when I checked my sign, I found out that I’m a Pig.

The Year of the Pig

English: Pot bellied pig at Lisbon Zoo

Image via Wikipedia

That was a little disappointing to discover. Who wants to be a pig? It’s bad enough when my trainer hints that I’m not losing weight. I don’t need the whole Chinese Zodiac calling me fat!

So what’s a Pig? Well, according to my only source, the Pig symbolizes diligence, compassion and generosity.

  • We are entertaining.
  • We are giving, but can give too much.
  • We are honest and expect honesty
  • We spend more than we save.
  • We seek fun and often indulge too much.
  • We are social and dislike being alone
  • We are detailed oriented.
  • We make great partners. We’re affectionate, sexual and prefer staying home to going out.

Ok, so most of those do fit me, except the one about disliking being alone. Maybe that one does fit. I am an introvert, as I previously discussed, but I do get lonely when I’m alone for too long. I guess I can be social, but I prefer being social in small groups, rather than in large situations.

Since I was born in 1971, I’m actually a Metal Pig. According to my only source on this topic, that means I work diligently and love “with all [I] have.”

So, maybe this whole pig-thing isn’t so bad. We do seem like a good bunch of people to wallowing in the mud with.

But, since I want 2012 to be my year, this little Piggy still wants to be a Dragon. At least until the end of 2012.

Happy 2012!!

Happy New Year!

I’m back!

It’s been a few months since my last post. I got busy with school and work, and didn’t feel like I had anything to say. Then, the longer I waited, the more it felt like I needed to have something important to say. It’s the same idea behind Open That Bottle Night. (More on OTBN later.)

Buttons on his first day here

Since I’m going to try to post more frequently, even if they are brief posts, some quick updates:

  • I got a new cat: Buttons. He’s about 3 and one of the sweetest, 15-pound cats I know. Alex isn’t happy with him, even though she was very lonely since Katie died.
  • I finished my first semester of law school. Not all of our grades are in, even though the exam was Dec 7th, and we start the next semester in a week, but so far, I did pretty well. And there was only one point where I really questioned the decision.
  • I’m still working out with the trainer twice a week. I guess it’s showing. For New Year’s Eve, I went to a coworker’s party. I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, and he was impressed that my arms and shoulder have gotten bigger. I guess it doesn’t show under my dress shirts.
  • 2012 is going to be a great year! I’ve made a few New Year’s resolutions, more on these with time.
  • I’m starting to use Twitter, more. Thanks to the app Flipboard, I’m finding it possible to keep up.

What are your resolutions for 2012?

Leave them in the comments below.

I Need Professional Help!

I realized tonight that I need professional help. I know what some of you are thinking! That’s not what I meant, but may be material for another post.

As I was driving through the 7th torrential downpour of the day to go to the all-night animal hospital to pick up Katie’s medication (which I probably could have made at home if I called in a few prednisone tablets to the local CVS — and wouldn’t have cost me $60), I realized that I while I think I can manage work and school, I think I need help with the rest of life.

Anyone interested in the job? Your duties include such mundane tasks as:

  • Picking up cat medication. Giving said medication to the cat once a day.
  • Getting my watch battery changed. Yesterday, I realized it was two hours behind, which got worse though out the day. You’d think I could survive without a watch, but it’s a problem at work. Every clock is different: my Blackberry, iPhone, computer, office clock, clock in the hallway, etc. And they vary by as much as 10 minutes, which means I’m usually either early to meetings, or late, depending on the clock in the room where they’re holding the meeting.
  • Going through my mail and tossing out the junk mail. If you want to open it and pay the bills for me, you might get a little extra in your holiday card.
  • Laundry!!
  • Watching the weather in the morning so I know how to dress.
  • Picking up the wine and Peanut Butter Cup Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, so I can have Second Dinner (Watch this episode of The Office to see where that comes from).
  • Reminding me what day of the week it is, and possibly where I’m at.
  • Petting the cats. They’re feeling neglected.
  • Fighting with my Co-op Board when I’m busy at work. (More on this one later.)
  • Unpacking and repacking my work/school bag. (As an aside, I’ve been having a lot of neck and shoulder tension. I realized today that it’s because the bag is so damn heavy. Tonight, was Contracts and Legal Rhetoric. My bag weighed 15 pounds.)
  • Get my Jeep’s oil changed.
  • Go through my DVR and delete duplicates. (Who the hell scheduled law school to overlap with the start of the new TV season?)
  • Other To Do List items as assigned (Can you tell I’ve worked with government HR?)

These are simple tasks, I know. I just don’t have time to do it. I’m not sure I am going to have time to get my watch battery changed this weekend. And there’s a fair chance my car may go 35,000 miles without an oil change.

I can’t pay you for your time, but I will cover the expenses. I’m not asking you to buy the watch battery. And, in exchange, you have access to anything you find in my refrigerator. That includes the over-ripe apples, the possibly expired Chobani yogurt, that weird wheat side-dish I made that was tasty but still got pushed to the back, the pizza from the other weekend, and both bottles of ketchup. It’s all yours!

Just send your cover letter and résumé to me through this blog, if you’re interested in helping me out.

I’m an Introvert! Now Go Away!

I’m an Introvert! There, I said It.

Yesterday, a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to this article by Jonathan Rauch, called “Caring for your Introvert.” It links to several related articles including, “Introverts of the World, Unite!“, “The Introversy Continues,” and “Jonathan Rauch comments on some of the feedback he’s received for ‘Caring for Your Introvert’…” They are a great collection of article on what it means to be an introvert and how the rest of you should deal with  us, to keep from driving us crazy.

I’ve known I’m an introvert since at least early medical school, but the signs go back much farther. During my first year of medical school, I took the Myers-Briggs personality inventory as part of leadership training for an organization I was involved with. I’m an INTJ, and at that point my Introvert scale was almost pegged to the extreme. We spent most of an afternoon discussing our different types, what they meant, and how we would work best together. That was when I first started understanding that introversion is not the same as shyness.

I may be a little shy at times, but introversion means other things:

  • I need time by myself to recharge and re-energize, even if I can do fine in a social situation.
  • Getting up and giving a presentation in front of a large crowd is less draining than a small party.
  • Extroverts think out loud. Introverts think inside, and when we finally get around to saying it, you should listen. We’ve thought it out and mean exactly what we’re saying. And we may not say it again if you steamroll over us.
  • You may not notice we’re an introvert, especially if you’re an extrovert who hasn’t shut up since we met.
Jonathan Rauch spends a fair amount of time explaining his idea that introverts have a better understanding of extroverts, than vice versa. Perhaps it’s because extroverts are more in your face and therefore we’ve learned how to deal with them. Maybe it’s because we spend more time in our heads thinkings, so we’ve just had more time to ruminate. That’s the main purpose behind him writing the articles: trying to educate extroverts how to handle us.

After Admitting It, the Next Step is Accepting it.

Over the last 18 years (Yes, it’s been that long since I started medical school), I’ve gotten less introverted. My last Myers-Briggs test had the scale much closer to the middle (but still an INTJ). But, I still consider myself an introvert. The last two weekends, I spent Friday night at home, alone. I’d been out every night during the weeks, and just needed some quiet time to read, watching a movie, and not talk to anyone. I didn’t feel guilty about it. I’m an introvert. I don’t need to be out every night of every weekend.

Now, Learning to Live With It.

In, “The Introversy Continues” (see link above), several readers wrote in to discuss romantic pairing between introverts and extroverts. Been there. Done that. The last two long-term relationships I’ve been in were with extroverts. That was part of the attraction, I’ll admit. They were outgoing, so easily social, talking to anyone, anywhere. Even though I’ve admitted an introvert, I still — at times — envy the extroverts. But there was such a difference in us, that it was often a cause of friction. “Do we have to go out, again?”, “Can’t we just sit at home quietly, staring into each other’s eyes lovingly, while watching reruns of the Golden Girls?”, “Do you know everyone, here?”

From here on out, I’m looking for a guy who’s just a little extroverted. Maybe I do have a tendency to spend to many nights at home, so it’s good that someone’s encouraging me to go out. But, don’t push me too hard.

 

Time to get ready for work. Go on! Read the articles! We’re out there. We may blend in at first, but once your introvert-dar is working, you’ll see us. And now, you have no excuse for not treating us better.