Trayvon Martin
For some reason, this week and last week I have been non-stop reading about Trayvon Martin and crying at my desk at work, like constantly, in an unhealthy way. I realize that what happened has happened before and probably happens way more often than we realize in un-publicized instances, but this particular event has gripped me so hard and I can't stop crying and feeling truly morose over it. It makes me so scared and has been keeping me up at night.

I feel like white people DO NOT UNDERSTAND the level of privilege they carry around with them. Anyone who thinks racism is no longer an issue is completely fooling themselves. Black men walking around at night by themselves are subject to people being afraid of them, questioning them, assaulting them... and even killing them and the murderer getting away with it. Norman has told me that he has to take into consideration what clothes he wears at night even if he's just going to walk the dog so people perceive him as not a threat... and even so he's been stopped by the police before, white ladies clutch tightly at their purses, and so on. And this is NORMAN for crying out loud, the least threatening person ever.

We white people take for granted the ability to innocently walk around without being questioned, chased, pestered, without people calling the police on them, without shooting them. I just cannot believe this world we live in sometimes, that and it makes me hate everyone and everything. Private citizens cannot walk safely to the corner store because of the color of their skin and their murderers walk among us.

I used to think I would see an end to stuff like this in my lifetime but now I'm not so sure.

Not only is the murderer George Zimmerman still walking around free, but he also STILL HAS HIS GUN. Maude help us all.

Even Ayn Rand Was On Welfare

It's been a very long time since I've written anything lengthy about political issues on livejournal. I'm not sure why- I just don't have the energy because it upsets me too much? I save my social justice rage for facebook, where I can write short snippets and reach more people? I'm not sure. But I'm here now to say that I've totally had it with libertarians.

This NY Times article and subsequent Paul Krugman piece, both about Americans who use government services yet claim that they don't (or claim that they want to do away with them anyway), really hit me hard-- made me very depressed.

"the regions of America most hooked on Mr. Santorum’s narcotic — the regions in which government programs account for the largest share of personal income — are precisely the regions electing those severe conservatives... many beneficiaries of government programs seem confused about their own place in the system. She tells us that 44 percent of Social Security recipients, 43 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits, and 40 percent of those on Medicare say that they “have not used a government program.” (Krugman piece linked above)

Things have changed so radically in the last 20-30 years. 

I care about social issues, I care about the issues that "fiscal conservative social liberals" always give as their examples of things they support--  gay rights, women's rights, legalizing marijuana, all that stuff. But I think I care even more about living in a functioning society, which, let's face it, we barely do anymore and every year our structural functionality weakens.

I'm fed up with most Americans not realizing how much we rely on public funding to make society run. In so many subtle, little ways we use tax dollars to keep us up and running. And these things are a small fraction of our overall government funds.

All the most user-friendly, successful, thriving-middle-class societies have very strong publicly funded services, why do people think we could be some exception to this?! I think these people think "government money" and think "welfare". But it's so so so so many things. Education, roads, libraries, public transportation, universities, a police force**  Also lesser-known uses of government funding are research, health services, funding releases to small non-profits who provide community services. We are a very rich country, and if wealthy people in this country actually paid taxes, think about all the things we COULD have! Health care. Much better public schools. Subsidized maternity leave/child care so more women could work. A stronger safety net. 

Another real factor in this is that the amount of taxes middle class and poorer people pay would not have to change for our society to function better. There is so much misinformation about who pays taxes and how much. Rich individuals and corporations pay dramatically less in taxes now than they did 20-30 years ago. About a year ago, we learned that in 2010 G.E., the nation's largest corporation, not only did not pay one red cent of taxes, but they received a 3.2 billion dollar TAX BENEFIT. That's where your hard-earned taxpayer dollars are going. Not towards public infrastructure, not towards helping those in need... but to G.E and the like. There is a lot of wealth in this country, and it is being increasingly stolen from the middle class and handed to the rich.

I wish I understood why people don't get the role tax dollars have in their daily lives, and what we can do to change it. I have a guess that might be part of it: maybe it's human nature to think you'll fare better than everyone else. Recently I read an article for school that surveyed people on how much money they think they should set aside for Long Term Care services when they age (like, saving money in case you get dementia and need supports). Even when informed what the average person needs, most people think they will need less than average. Maybe it's part of the human spirit to have high hopes and pursue good things for yourself. Because of this, I don't think that people should be in the situation where they ALWAYS have to plan for the absolute worst (not to mention that, especially now, few people CAN afford the luxury of saving for possibly getting dementia).

I fail to see how you can identify as "socially liberal", that people can choose what they want to do, if you don't believe in having a functioning public system to support those choices. Some of the same people who were outraged over the Komen foundation (a private agency!) cutting funding to Planned Parenthood would be fine electing a public official who would immediately cut financial support of PP (a much bigger slice of PP's funding). How can you believe in a woman's right to choose if you're OK with poor women not being able to afford that choice?

When I first moved to Chicago, I noticed-- and liked-- that it was easy to see tax dollars working for you (at least on the north side-- that's a whole other angry post though :) ). In the last four years I've noticed a major decrease in that. They eliminated bus lines, are slower to fix potholes, the libraries are now closed on Mondays, they've closed some major low-income health centers. This is just in four years. How long are we going to not only let them get away with this, but elect and support politicians who are destroying our society?

Re-reading this post I think it's a little disjointed, but I don't the clarity to refine it. I'm just too mad... and scared.

** I'm not the biggest fan of the cops, but I do think they should be well paid; in places like Brasil for example, the police are paid so little that the police are extremely violent and corrupt.

Wayne's World
I was ten years old when the movie Wayne's World came out. I remember my older brother telling me all about the movie when came home from seeing it in the theater. Sure enough he got it on VHS the following xmas, and I watched it maybe 50 times before I went off to boarding school at age 16, no exaggeration. I knew at the time that it was set in a Chicago suburb, but I didn't know much more than that. In college I made a friend who was from Aurora and he (understandably) groaned when I excitedly said "oh like Wayne's World!". (sorry, Tim!)

Now that I live in Chicago it is no longer exotic and thrilling when I meet people from Aurora, although the movie still holds a certain buzz and excitement with me since I loved it so much as a child. I recently read Rob Lowe's memoir Stories I Only Tell My Friends and loved some of the behind-the-scenes Wayne's World stuff.

So you can probably imagine my reaction when someone said to me today "you know the scene where they are all singing Bohemian Rhapsody in the car?" Do I. "That scene was filmed in Logan Square. They drive through that major intersection by your house a couple times."


It's true! THEY DRIVE PRACTICALLY RIGHT BY MY HOUSE. At around 36 seconds and again at around 1:32 after they pick up Phil who is "partied out". (side note: when I was little I thought "partied out" simply meant he had way too much fun the night before and was tired, maybe just a bit ill from too many cheetos or something.)

You can see the Payless, and you can see the Gap outlet, it even has the old Gap logo from the 1990s and everything! You can just make out the Logan Square movie theatre marquee in the distance down Milwaukee ave.

It is hard to explain why this is the most exhilarating thing ever, but it is. I watched a movie over and over again as a child (a movie that, in my opinion, mostly stands the test of time), 15 years later I move far away, and discover the movie has a scene right by my house. CRAZY!

I love photo editing apps
I am loving having an iPhone for many reasons, and the latest reason is all the photo editing apps.

Norman and I have been terrible at decorating our apartment, and now I'm going through all our old vacation photos and making them look artsy and pretty so I can frame them and put them on our wall.

So for example, we took this photo in Rio De Janeiro in 2008 from the pinnacle at Cristo Redentor.

I just made it look like this using photoforge2:

I haven't mastered all the capabilities of these photo editing apps yet, and I don't personally have that artistic an eye... but even with just a few simple tweaks I've taken kind of a weak shot on a cloudy day and made it more accurately represent the breathtaking nature of that view. Looking at the 2nd version of the photo, I feel so much more brought back to the way it actually felt standing there, looking at that landscape.

My life lately
 I'm checking in to say that my summer is going really wonderfully. I feel like my life is in this magical place where my social life is great, I like my jobs (even though they are temporary), my home life is fantastic, I'm excited about where my future is going, etc. Life is good!
lots of photos and stories!Collapse )



The semester ended! I survived!!!  I received all As except for Epi, where I got a B, and let me tell you, I have never been so proud or worked so hard for a B in my entire life. Epi is effing confusing.

Our trip to Mexico was amazing. I've never taken an international vacation where the only objective was to relax-- that was a really new experience for me. It was so badly needed though, and I do feel way more relaxed and recharged now.

a few pics and storiesCollapse )

It was nice to come home, even if the trip back was a little rocky. We changed planes in Houston. When we took off in Mexico, the pilot was like "some really nasty storms in Houston..." then the plane proceeded to get battered around in the sky and the flight attendants had to prepare for emergency landing an hour early. That was scary! Then when we landed in Houston, 3/4 of the rest of the flights that day were canceled, including ours. We managed to get home in Chicago at 3:30am. Still... WORTH IT!!!!

This week I start my summer. I'm working 15 hours a week at the arthritis foundation, 10-15 at white crane (my old job), taking one class online (a notoriously easy class), and writing my thesis. So far everything is getting off to a slow start, and I'm feeling antsy. I've only had a few hours at each job this week thus far.

Things are going to be kind of jumbly keeping track of that schedule, but I'll work it out. Ideally there would be regular days for everything, but I know how things go at WC and I'm guessing it will be the same at AF. like "oh, I know you aren't scheduled to work wednesdays but can you make this meeting??". I'm just going to need to be flexible and make sure nothing falls by the wayside.

Other than that things are good. Lots of out of town visitors this summer including my parents and also LILY!,  a camping trip to the Michigan dunes with school girlfriends in June, a wedding here in Chicago in July, a weekly dinner with school girlfriends, and just trying to stay afloat with all my responsibilities!

(no subject)

Semester over. Off to Mexico!

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.


negotiation final

For my public health negotiation class, the final exam is a negotiation simulation. It's so fun, and I love that I go to a school with such fun projects!

A couple of weeks ago, we were broken into 8 groups, each group is an HIV/AIDS service organization in Chicago (except one group is the department of public health and another group is a hospital).

Everyone was given the same packet of information about the history of AIDS/HIV organizations and funding in Chicago. It explained that some organizations have traditionally been given a big chunk of cash from the city for their work, but the demographics of the HIV/AIDS outbreak have changed and there is some tension over who gets funded. This packet also explained the set-up for our final negotiation: that all the organizations were coming to the table to talk about how to divide up the AIDS walk/run money. We could plan and communicate with each other in advance.

And then each group was given a sheet of secret information, explaining their private needs (like the bare minimum funds they require, if their organization is opposed to this or that, if we historically have issues with any other organization, etc). For example, my group is a small organization working with the Mexican undocumented population, and  we are Catholic and oppose any MSM programs or condom use. That was challenging at first to wrap my head around, but I have really come around to understanding my position.

Over the last couple of weeks, some really interesting stuff has been happening. We've all been communicating over email, forming coalitions and the like, planning strategy. Then one of the more powerful organizations is trying to bust up a coalition... it's just very very interesting, all this work and discussion that is going on outside the classroom.

It feels like a game, a little. It kind of reminds me of playing mafia in high school, lots of us would play this game with individual games lasting weeks at a time, calling each other at night to discuss it, etc.

My school is great in a lot of ways. This semester hasn't been my favorite, but for two of my classes I have very interesting projects as finals and I really love that (as someone who doesn't care much for writing papers).

Chicken Salad, Tikka Masala style
halcyon bathroom
This is SO GOOD:

cubed organic chicken breast
cubed extra firm tofu
sliced celery, raw
diced red onion, raw
golden raisins

Sauce: Tikka Masala sauce mixed with organic non-fat yoghurt (about 1:3)

First, the tofu and the chicken breast are cooked and then allowed to cool. Then, all ingredients are combined in a bowl. Mix in the sauce. Refrigerate and eat cold.

I think I'm going to eat this all summer.

2nd semester classes
I was reviewing my journal from last semester and there was a post where I detailed each class I was taking. For posterity, I'm going to do that again! Also, I've been kind of a "negative nancy" about this semester because nothing really relates to my career (I'm taking a lot of requirements). Still, I am learning and challenging myself in new and interesting ways.

Epidemiology. Sigh, this class is so, so hard. This is often what is considered "classic public health"-- think John Snow and the Cholera epidemic, this is essentially when epidemiology was invented. it's the science of how disease is spread. The basic concepts are:

-the distribution of disease in a population is not random,
-the distribution is scientifically knowable,
-and from understanding that distribution we can gain knowledge on prevention and treatment.

What that boils down to is medical research. Epi is about conducting, understanding, interpreting & analyzing group-level medical studies.

There's a lot of math-- we look at journal articles and we take the tables from them and do hand-calculations on the relative risk of different populations represented within the study. We talk about the different kinds of study designs and understand the uses and limitations of each. We also look at data and learn when you can establish a causal link.

It's really quite hard. I studied my ass off for the first exam and got a B. I studied less hard for the 2nd exam (and that was the week I worked two jobs and had 3 exams) and got a C. yikes. So this is tricky.

Environmental Health. This is another "classic" public health topic. It's not in my career area at all, but we have to take the first level class for each major PH subject area. This class has a little math and a good amount of science in it, it's about understanding pollutants in the air, the water, the soil, etc. I think the subject matter is fascinating... but unfortunately, it's an online class, so I have trouble investing myself fully in it. Instead, it's this annoying thing that needs to be checked on every few days and I breeze through the material enough to do well on the quizzes. Lesson learned: the online format is just not for me.

Public Health Advocacy. This is an advanced class in the policy division of my school that I got permission to take because of my policy & advocacy background (good to know it counts for something!). It is more of a negotiation course than anything else- it's a class on how to build an argument when you are presenting testimony etc, and how to negotiate on behalf of public health interests before politicians and businesses.

It's an interesting topic, and more than that, the assignments are fun. We had to prepare testimony and present it to the class, and next week we're doing a negotiation simulation where one person is representing the PH Department and the other person is representing the pharmaceutical company and we have to negotiate a contract for this year's flu shots.

I don't think I'm learning a ton here, but it's fun and fairly relevant.

Research Methods in Community Health. This class is all about designing research studies for community health interventions. It sounds dull, and the topic is kind of dry, but the professor is GREAT. She brings her own work into it to use as examples (she does stuff with intravenous drug use among HIV+ Latino teens in Chicago, among other topics in that general area), and I always find her perspective interesting.

Community Assessment. This is a class on how to conduct health needs assessments in communities. A major role of Public Health is surveillance, so this class is a requirement. The professor has a real Community Based Participatory Research perspective-- which is a research method where community members are actively involved in the research process, especially with major decisions. (often in Social Science research, institutions come in with big ideas, do research, and then flee. Some call it "helicopter research". A community organizer we spoke to called it "raping the community.")

This class is the most work of all my classes, but it's fun work that I enjoy. For the whole semester, we've broken into teams of 8 people and we choose a community to assess. We learn about different assessment methods and we get to try them out, and the end product is like a 50 page paper with an assessment of the community's health needs surrounding a particular topic area.

Our group has collected 140 surveys of people who live in our area, and we've done 11 interviews with "key informants", and attended 10 community meetings. It's a huge project but I'm really enjoying it!


Whew, that's it. 5 classes is a whole lot of work. Never again. This summer I'm working two 15-hr-a-week jobs and taking one class and writing a big paper, which should be much easier than this. In the Fall I'm only doing four, and at least one of them should be really easy.


Log in