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Priorities
Feb 27th, 2010 by Dr Karma

Those who know me know that I’m regularly over-committed. I teach a lot; I’m on many committees; there are vague attempts at a social life. There are many doctors’ appointments.

Sometimes there are more things to do than others. The galleys came for the book this week, so that’s certainly something to do. And then there’s grading. And then there’s course prep. There’s a full in box, reviews to do, letters of recommendation to write.

There are my friends–one has an interview this week; two others have broken up with their partners in the last few days.

There’s mail to open, muddy kitty footprints to clean up, and a child to be relatively ignored by.

If I had the time, I have movies to watch, a DVR to clean off, and books to read.

It probably goes without saying that I have to eat, use the toilet, bathe, take vitamins and medications, wander from room to room, breathe, blink, and digest.

I haven’t mentioned sleep, but sleep is really only an elusive idea of something I should be doing rather than something that’s happening. I sometimes nod off, but then I awake again, sweating and with a sense of lead in my stomach, hanging there (to paraphrase Douglas Adams) in exactly the way bricks don’t.

I’m wandering in a state of near tears, from exhaustion and stress. Due to budget cuts, I have about a 50% chance of losing my job.

This makes all the other things on the list seem silly, since I should be applying for jobs 23 hours a day. I am applying, but I can’t turn my back on my teaching. After all, this is my calling and my current students shouldn’t suffer just because of this stress (although my sanity seems to be suffering quite a bit).

Any ideas welcome and appreciated.

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Exhaustion and Confusion
Feb 20th, 2010 by Dr Karma

I haven’t been writing because I haven’t been sleeping. I keep waking up every day at around three a.m. and then I can’t get back to sleep for about an hour.

But I wanted to share this quick thought about the news today. An AP headline today said that the IRS agent killed in this week’s attack was a “loyal family man.” I don’t want to debate that. What happened to him was tragic, but it is not necessarily more tragic because he was a family man. If he were divorced, would his life be worth less? If he were never married? If he were socially awkward? If had the kind of union that many people in this country would refuse to see as belonging in the category of family?

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New Column
Feb 17th, 2010 by Dr Karma

on A FISH CALLED WANDA: http://www.matchflick.com/column/2114

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Two links for this week
Feb 10th, 2010 by Dr Karma

I just had to share these two stories (then it’s back to work).

First, Du clued me in to this story: http://www.fresnobee.com/local/story/1813692.html Is there some reason why Fresno is the drunkest city in the nation and one of the least educated? Well, it might have something to do with a certain community college instructor who teaches the Bible in health class, explaining that the textbook is wrong (because abortion kills more people than cancer) and that homosexuality is wrong, but curable by shots. He’s gotten in trouble for this kind of thing before, but apparently it’s okay, because he doesn’t believe in the separation between church and state (or facts and religious belief).

Second, a story on NPR today really hit home. I was just writing about my insurance issues this week and then a certain company (mine) decided to raise its rates over 30%. Listen in: http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/02/10/pm-reich-commentary/

And now tell me why insurance companies are immune from anti-trust laws. Anybody?

(Small question for the Fresno teacher: why are those who are pro-life often pro-gun as well (I don’t know if you’re one of those people)? Guns are used to kill lots and lots of people, but we’re not supposed to outlaw them because “guns don’t kill people, people do.” Even if you see abortion as murder, shouldn’t you hold that “abortions don’t kill people, people do” and not try to outlaw them? Just asking.)

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Richard Armitage
Feb 8th, 2010 by Dr Karma

I’ve been watching the British TV series Robin Hood this week. While not the best thing on TV, it’s strangely addictive.

I’ve found myself rooting for one of the villains, though. Sir Guy is after Maid Marian and power (not in that order). But he does genuinely seem to love her and keeps saving her life in kind of hot ways. He even saves her and loves her after she betrays him in a most emasculating way.

But I think the real reason I want Marian to dump Robin for a bad guy is because the bad guy is so cute. How did I not know about Richard Armitage before?

Here he is:  richard3

Here he is as a bad guy (there’s a pun there):richard2

And just in case you missed him, here he is again.richard1

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The Evils of Socialized Medicine (Before Socialization, Even!)
Feb 7th, 2010 by Dr Karma

To weigh in on the healthcare debate is in some ways fundamentally silly, especially when reform is being halted by those claiming that “Americans” don’t want reform. (It’s amazing how the vast majority of the Americans I know apparently aren’t American.)

Some people believe that any move toward Obama’s plan is a move to Socialized medicine. Socialized is a word meant to scare people, although we have a socialized military, police force, fire-fighter force, postal service, pre-college education system, etc.

Those who manage to move beyond simply snarling the word “socialized” say that there are two huge consequences to socialization. 1. “Bureaucrats” would get to decide whether I receive care. 2. I might have to wait for treatment.

I’m not all that sure how this would be different from the system now. I belong to what is likely the largest insurance company in California (because of where I work; I would never be able to get insurance on my own due to some pre-existing conditions). To listen to those against reform, this should mean that my doctor and I should get to make medical decisions based on what’s best for my health.

However, there is nothing my doctor can prescribe and no one he can send me to without insurance authorization. This means that bureaucrats are deciding what treatments and drugs I may have access to. This week, they’ve held up two prescriptions (one is a simple refill and one is a larger dose of an existing refill to combat an exacerbation of symptoms).

As far as waiting for treatment goes, I’ve had to wait several months for the neurology appointment I have this week. My insurance company has negotiated a contract meaning I can’t see the allergist I’ve been going to for years. While waiting for an appointment with one I can go to, I’ve been deprived of both my allergy shots and a very necessary asthma medication for over a month now. I have no idea when I’ll be back on them. One specialist can’t give me a follow-up appointment — they’re just too booked up–and there’s no one else to see unless I wanted to drive a few hours (as it is, I have to drive out of town to see the specialists I’ve referenced here). My son has had to wait five weeks to see an ENT after he tore a membrane in his ear even though the referral was marked “urgent.”

I’m extremely lucky to have insurance and I’m extremely lucky to have a caring Primary Care Physician.

But whoever thinks we don’t need reform in this system apparently isn’t using this system as much as some of us do, or else they would be able to see that something has to change.

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I knew it first!
Feb 6th, 2010 by Dr Karma

Many moons ago, I talked about getting to meet Raj Patel, the hot and brilliant, Eddie-Izzard-funny, Colbert-appearing economist (though he hadn’t been on Colbert then). I didn’t quite proclaim him my god, but I proclaimed him. (You can scroll down a bit to see what I said.)

According to this New York Times article, Raj has been declared a god: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/05/us/05sfmetro.html

I sort of called it first.

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New Movie Column!
Feb 3rd, 2010 by Dr Karma

In the Loop on IN THE LOOP is here: http://www.matchflick.com/column/2100

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Back to Sugar
Feb 1st, 2010 by Dr Karma

When I was a child, my great-grandmother would tell me that she wanted some sugar, which meant that she wanted a hug and a kiss.

Over the past year, I’d tried to abjure literal sugar. Thus, I’ve been putting splenda into my tea. It wasn’t a hard habit to get into. In fact, it made sweetening iced tea easier, as splenda dissolves a lot easier than sugar.

Splenda isn’t always available, though, and so sometimes I had to have sugar. And then I started wondering why tea tasted strange.

Splenda has warped by sense of taste. Sugar doesn’t sweeten tea for me anymore.

Thus, I’m going back to sugar. For the past month, I’ve not had splenda. Tea has tasted awful, but I have faith that my taste buds with reacclimate.

Lift your glasses to nature. Long live sugar!

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