Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The home stretch

I am so fabulously lucky. I met an amazing man who fell in love with me, despite being separated by an ocean and thousands of miles. Not only did we conquer the small statistical probability of us ever meeting, but we then continued to reign victorious over the difficulties associated with mixing cultures and an ongoing long-distance relationship. FOR SIX YEARS. We developed understandings about "putting the suitcase in the boot", "carrying a fanny pack", "a minging hairdo on a slapper", "getting my bangs cut", "going out on me tod", "what's up?!" and "football." And it's been lovely.

Still, I dream of more. More days spent with my Sweetheart, more adventures, more memories, more happiness. And so we were married 24 October 2010 in the hopes of really being together, more than just a few months of the year. And now we're in the home stretch, having submitted Noel and my applications to the British Consulate. All that's left to do is to wait....just a little bit more...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dear Santa Claus

Let me start by saying that I'm sorry I haven't been perfect. As usual, I see some room for improvement. Also, let me apologize for not sending my Christmas list earlier. I guess that I thought it was perfectly clear what I wanted and I thought buying the plane ticket would be enough, but as it turns out, it wasn't.

So here it is. Skip the material goods and just bring me my Sweetheart. He's in England and I'm in the U.S. We were in the same position last year and I hated it. So, we got married. We had been "together" for more than 5 years on different continents, and I was tired of being alone most of the year and on important holidays and birthdays. Although I spent my 2010 New Year's, Valentine's Day, birthday, and Thanksgiving alone, I thought that my Christmas was going to be different. That's why I married him on October 24th. That's why I planned the wedding, paid his airfare, and decided to move to England: because I didn't want to be alone, anymore. Still, although I am "Rebecca Anne Bachmann Ross", I am not yet allowed to move to England. We cannot be together there until a considerable amount of paperwork is signed and every "i" dotted and "t" crossed. So in the meantime, we are relegated to visits. Since we've been married, I spent our one month anniversary alone. Yet, I was pretty good, and I called on every bit of reserve patience to wait-it-out as calmly and nicely as possible. "It's only another 3 weeks, and then we'll be together." Just wait, be patient.

That leads us to now, with every ounce of patience spent, Heathrow shuts down. Flights are canceled, with no way to rebook until after Christmas, until after my second month's anniversary spent alone.

So, Santa, you know that plane ticket I bought? Could you please make it work and deliver my husband safely to me? His flight is tomorrow at 9am.

Thanks so much.


Sunday, March 07, 2010

Fix it Dear Elisiah, Dear Elisiah, Dear Elisiah....

Gordon Brown made a grand gesture a week ago, apologizing for having banished British orphaned children after WWII to a country on the other side of the world, where many were maltreated for years, spoiling their childhoods at least, leading to life-long hardships often. Yet, still ingrained in British culture is a lack of appreciation for childhood, as evidenced by the prevalence of the very manageable “children’s disease”: lice. Currently, head bugs are treated as a socioeconomic issue, such that teachers are banned from even mentioning the presence of these pests, as if such talk infringes on a person’s rights, as if it is a problem of the poor. On the contrary, the bugs do not discriminate and do not ask salaries before feasting on one’s blood, although they do prefer a clean head.
In contrast to the situation with lice, rules exist for other medical conditions, and a child displaying signs of flu, for example (e.g. vomiting), is sent home. Why? Because diseases such as the flu are contagious, much like head lice, and precautions should be taken to minimize the spread. Unlike the flu, however, head lice can be easily cured. So, given all of these medical facts, why is this vector of disease for blood-born pathogens allowed to continually infect the children of England and the adults who work in the setting? My only guess why an easily curable disease is not managed properly is because it has been classified as a “disease of children”, who sadly, are still not made enough of a priority in British society.
The British government needs to step up and establish rules regarding the medical condition, in order to stop the continual infestation of their own children. Children infected with lice may have a hard time focusing on school, similar to working in the presence of a very sore ankle or an itchy spot of dry skin. Imagine trying to learn whilst your head is constantly itching. Put simply, managing this problem is part and parcel of providing a good school environment. Rules and measures must be implemented for the good of our own children, but also for our friends’ kids, and importantly, for the teachers, as well. Members of Parliament, please imagine working in a setting where there is a constant threat of catching itch-inducing bugs. And, best of all, this issue is NOT akin to solving world hunger; it is easily cured.

Friday, January 08, 2010

At the busstop...

...I came to a new understanding of my position on gun ownership. The gentleman across the way seemingly has a direct line to the heart of crime in the area, and consistently reports about the newest incidents. Today's news was regarding 3 nonfatal gunshot injuries at a local school, and it immediately got my dander up.

It's not too hard to figure out why: I have a 7-year-old attending a local school. The thing that is hard to determine is why the hobby of a portion of Americans is given precedence over the safety of the rest of Americans. According to a national survey by the National Institute of Justice, ~25% of adult Americans own guns; presumably only a portion of those owners actually engage in the sport of hunting.

Notably, hunting is NOT a necessity. We have plenty of shops to handle our food needs. In comparison, the other major source of deaths in America outside of medical conditions, is from trauma due to car accidents. I think that we need to consider the risk of getting into a car accident acceptable, considering the benefits we obtain, most notably in transporting us to work and school. However, the benefits of allowing a portion of Americans to own guns are unclear at best, while the risks are obvious and significant. A report from the CDC's National Center on Health Statistics described 721 accidental deaths by firearms, 17,348 suicides, and 12,129 homicides in 2006 alone.

Let me put it another way. There will inevitably be crazed people in the world. An insane person with a knife can damage and possibly kill 2-3 people, while that same person with a gun easily gets into the double digits with their homicides. The intensity of crime when guns are involved is so much more amped than those without. Which brings me to the other classical reason for gun ownership: for self-defense. Well, in a world without gun availability, there would not be the same level of concern for self defense. And frankly, there are plenty of other methods to put someone down without killing them, thereby allowing you to find safety and call law enforcement.

Guns accessiblity needs to be controlled. How about the creation of areas where guns could be borrowed for the day for on-site hunting? The goal is not to suppress those who enjoy that sport, only promote the safety of the rest of us.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Congress, give us healthcare!!

Personal stories of medical tragedies from Canada and the U.K. have circulated in the heat of the healthcare reform debate, along with myths and outright propaganda (e.g. Republican Chuck Grassley claiming that Ted Kennedy would have been left untreated, to die in the U.K.; Sarah Palin and death panels). Unfortunately, doctors in all parts of the world are not perfect. Iatrogenic disease (disease caused by medical [mal]treatment) is all too commonplace in all healthcare systems and will remain so at least until personalized medicine—a focus on each individual patient’s background and presentation—takes hold. For example, the Institute of Medicine has estimated that as many as 1.5 million people in the United States experience preventable medication errors, such as wrong diagnoses, bad treatment choices, wrong dosages, etc. that lead to negative consequences, including death. Hence, there are plenty of personal horror stories out there of mistreatment in medicine. Still, there is no excuse for a first world nation adopting continuing blanket policies that abandon the food or healthcare needs of its own citizens. That is not the same level of negligence as isolated case stories of bad medicine.

And indeed, the United States does not measure up in the statistics. Overall, the US is listed as 37th in healthcare, behind the United Kingdom (18th) according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the leading international health coalition. Ranking according to life expectancy also puts us behind the UK (14) and Canada (12), at 24, while we are second from the top in the amount of money spent on healthcare. The assertion that we have the “best healthcare in the world” is not necessarily wrong, it just needs to be followed by “for those elite that can afford that care.” A poor or middle class citizen would fare better in a socialized country, where the common man is given regular treatment and preventative care. The British have a system with an option to pay for additional insurance that offers further care benefits, beyond the basic public level that insures people no matter how rich or poor—all British citizens have the right to health care. In stark contrast, the current American system is hallmarked by refusal of insurance, and hence, care, especially for those with chronic conditions who have “preconditions". With regular checkups and good preventative care, the development of disease is identified and halted at an earlier stage, potentially leading to a longer life.

Inherently, the premise of the American system is wrong. The main goal of the insurance industry is profit; hence they endeavor to serve only the healthy in order to maximize their earnings. Thereby this allows the top insurance companies to pocket billions of dollars in profit, making them the most profitable industry in all of America in 2006. Instead, the health care system should be a service industry, focused on the well-being of the citizens of America, enabling us to be more productive and better contributors to our society. Oh, to live in a country where upon arriving to the hospital, the doctor’s first question is, “Where are you injured?” instead of, “What is your health insurance coverage?”

A call to inquire about the stance of our Congressional representatives, Senator Schumer and Representative Lee landed me in a discussion with an employee for the latter regarding why he was voting against including a public option. “The government should not be involved in healthcare” was quickly discounted as it was noted that the government already handles the healthcare for older adults (Medicare), veterans, and disabled Americans (Medicaid). The phone lackey then quickly retorted that the public option would be a financial loss to the US government (i.e. taxpayers) as, for example, Strong serves the Medicare population and operates at a loss to the tune of 7 cents out of a dollar. Inarguable facts, however, the populations in question are groups of individuals that require more healthcare than any other group: the elderly, veterans, and disabled. The public option would serve the rest of us, many of whom are healthy, thereby not requiring the same level of care, or on other words, the same expenditures.

The leading body of physicians in the United States, the American Medical Association, as well as others (e.g. The American Association of Emergency Medicine and AARP) support a public option for health insurance, as do the majority of American people. Congress, who do you think you are representing? Health insurance companies? I have never seen one of them at the polls in November.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


While words like socialism and nationalization (and even the C word!) get bandied around in accusatory tones, it occurs to me that Bush and his cronies got off the chopping block way too easy. I am not sure why developing a few socialized principles into reality, like making sure that the more than 40 million Americans who are over 65 years get health care (our frail parents, mind you!) gets lashed with so many negative responses. Does it occur to the naysayers that they will age, and indeed are doing so at this very moment? Are they so unwise to think they would never be in such a position when they are old, where health insurance becomes an extra instead of an essential? I'm sure our elderly did not conceive that this could happen to them either.

In contrast, the NY Times published an article yesterday detailing some of the executive privileges that the Bush administration took over the last six years (post 9/11). During this time, they took, "a broad interpretation of presidential authority, asserting as well that the president could unilaterally abrogate foreign treaties, ignore any guidance from Congress in dealing with detainees suspected of terrorism, and conduct a program of domestic eavesdropping without warrants." First of all, this has been presented as if it's new news. It's not. We've known about these unauthorized extensions to the executive branch for years now. What I want to know, is why there hasn't been more figure pointing, more attention, more labeling of what our government was becoming...an oligarchy?...monarchy?...dictatorship?!!! Only once have I seen the mainstream media explore this path, in which, notably AFTER the 2008 presidential election, Bush administration was referred to as the "Imperial Presidency."

And meanwhile, we the people, what are we going to do about it? Step 1, change direction. Check: we've elected President Obama. Step 2: Ensure this executive exploitation of power does not happen again?