A few weeks back, I was walking to the store. It’s a short walk (about 3/4 of a mile) with a very slight grade. I walk a lot, usually a few miles a day, mostly by choosing to walk while waiting for the train, or when going to the market.
This time, when I got almost to the store, I started having some chest pain. I thought maybe I was feeling the precursor to a heart attack, or that maybe that bug from last week had turned into pneumonia. I hadn’t been walking that briskly, and I was really out of breath in addition to the pain (both of which were odd for me, especially since I had walked relatively slowly).
Naturally, I immediately made an appointment to see my doctor (although in hindsight I probably should have gone to the ER). He saw me, had an EKG machine brought in, and didn’t see anything, but referred me to cardiology to get a stress EKG.
Most of my career was spent in healthcare, working in IT for providers, coordinating third party payments, and being a consumer battling with crazy multi-layered payment systems. I was lucky enough to be healthy in my youth and get by without insurance (although my feet still point in different directions thanks to breaking my ankle and not going for treatment). I have clear experience with seeing how the system is so badly broken, and it seems to me we’re not addressing the actual problems.
I feel like people miss the point of the ACA, which was a first draft at controlling costs and a start to healthcare reform. I also believe that repealing it will do more damage than simply starting to address the shortcomings and work on reforming the actual problem.
I get a chuckle over this every time it happens. Something in one of the many synch tools I use does some sort of conversion of birth dates, and I end up with alerts on my Mac that tell me somebody is having a really great birthday:
I also see the opposite where I’ll get a reminder that today is somebody’s second or third birthday.
In the case of the ones where they show up younger, it’s usually because wherever I got their birthdate from originally, they didn’t put in the year. So that usually ends up being the year that the contact was entered into my address book.
But in the case of the incredibly old dates, my address book typically has an 1800’s date, so my guess is it’s some system breaking on a date overrun. I’ve also noticed that sometimes these contacts have two birth dates in my address book (again, some symptom of a synch problem), so for instance Reinald has both a birthday in the 1800’s and one a littler more reasonable than that.
Today I went to work expecting a great day. My young friend Chris Merris was coming back to TheraDoc, and it’s always a good thing to have sharp people around you.
The mood of the day suddenly shifted as I found out that Jeff Knell, another new friend at work had died over the weekend. I felt extremely sad all day, not so much because I’d lost a close friend (although I thought that Jeff and I were going to be good friends).
Instead I think it has more to do with the loss of that growing friendship, and the reminder of the transience that is life.
A project manager has to be able to be in the moment and calmly react to any situation in order for a plan to succeed. Reacting to everything that might go wrong, or things that don’t help to achieve the goals of the project doesn’t get us to the product of the project (our “ends” or project goal).
Because a project manager’s biggest job is keeping everybody communicating, it’s easy to get distracted with all the chatter and worries of everybody on the team. You have to weigh the value of the cries of the Chicken Little‘s on your team in order to figure out whether the sky is actually falling or not, and if so, what to do about that fact.
When I was in third grade, we lived in Fairbanks Alaska, and I wanted to be a grown up. Because Alaska is frontier wilderness, a lot of the activities I remember were around doing things in the outdoors with the family.
I wanted to be grown up, so I got a paper route (at eight years old I was the youngest one they’d ever had). I remember that I had to borrow my Dad’s typewriter to write the circulation department telling them why I wanted to be a paper boy.
I also remember my parents making me take my little brother with me so I wouldn’t get into trouble and getting into trouble anyway (but that’s a whole bunch of different stories).
I was struck by the power of unintended consequences while watching a show about the science of dyslexia.
What hit me the most was a segment of the show where they were talking to a successful business man who had struggled with dyslexia his entire life and found a place he could succeed in the high school shop. His business was started by buying up the equipment from that same shop as the high school did as most schools have done: cut “non-essential” programs.
What struck me was that because the schools have chosen to cut the broadening curriculum like art, music and shop, there are kids today who will potentially never know success. And even worse, the kids who do well in the remaining classes, will never see that those kids who struggle with the college prep classes have abilities in different areas.
From my high-school experience, I distinctly remember that there were kids who just didn’t do well in the standard classes, but luckily for us we had art, music, home ec and shop. Because of those classes, I got to see some of those kids do amazing things that I simply didn’t have the skill to.
I saw incredible cabinetry built by a kid who literally couldn’t read (today he’d probably have been diagnosed with dyslexia and learned to read).
I recall other kids who built beautiful hot rods from piles of junk, amazing metal contraptions, and people who were able to shine in all sorts of ways that aren’t readily available to kids today.
So as an unintended consequence of “saving money”, we’ve cost our society the chance to expand the social interconnection that happens with recognition.
Those kids may not get the chance to sing in front of the rest of the school and gain the respect that they deserve. That quiet kid in the back of the room might just be perceived as angry and sullen, instead of having the respect as the guy who can do something amazing with a piece of wood.
We weaken our community by not supporting the search for that potential. Those kids frustrated by subjects they have no talent in, who won’t as easily find the joy in something they can do well, and won’t be as likely to go on to be pillars of our community.
I’ve been busy, so I haven’t logged into Facebook for a while now. I ran into somebody who said to send them a friend request, so I pulled up my Facebook app on my iPhone and ran through the process of logging in there.
I hadn’t used that app for a really long time, and like most iPhone apps, you have to start over once it upgrades, so that didn’t surprise me.
What did catch me by surprise was what happened when I tried logging on from my Mac later that day. First thing that happened was I got an unfamiliar screen that said I had logged in from a location I hadn’t used before:
OK, fine – seems like they’re trying to protect me, so I guess I can deal with this – but why they think I’m logging in from a different location is a bit off. So I’m expecting some sort of confirmation of identity, which would be fine. So next comes the usual Captcha to make sure I’m not a machine:
I type in the phrase, and get to the next screen, where the first surprise happens, apparently to identify myself I’m going to have to recognize people tagged in photos:
I’m a little worried now, since I don’t spend a lot of time looking at photos from my friends, and I’ve seen a LOT of photos from the ones I do know that don’t really look like the person to begin with. But it looks like this is the only option.
So I start trying to identify the photos, and the very first one I see is a picture of a cow and calf … Hmm, this is going to be hard. Obviously none of my friends are cows, so it must be pulling from somebody’s picture album. Of course I only know about 20 people who might post a picture of their livestock, and probably the same number that might think a calf was cute enough to take a picture of.
So I skip that one, and try again – now I get a picture of somebody celebrating. It’s a picture of people in their 20′s, so I’m thinking either an old photo, or one of my younger friends, but I don’t recognize any of them. Two down and no luck. At this point I even try looking at photos on the iPhone (which for some reason still works), no luck, so this is skip number two ….
Next I get what is obviously some sort of a class picture from the 60′s or 70′s – I probably know this person, but how would I know who the picture belongs to ? So it goes, with all 7 pictures being people, places or things I don’t recognize.
Then the next annoyance: after failing, you have to wait an hour to retry, so I can’t even go back in to see if I might get more recognizable pictures.
The next time through I think I recognize one, but still no luck. OK, wait another hour.
Finally on the third try (the one where I started writing this post), I get lucky. Every picture that comes up is an actual person, and I recognize all but one. Luckily for me even the one that has more than one of my friends on it appears to have worked. And I’m back in …
And in this whole process, there is no link to get help, or alternative way to get past this process. What would you do if you had some sort of vision impairment.
I am going to break one of the rules of social media and talk about politics. I’ve had lots of conversations with people I know who generally share my views on issues, but being disenfranchised and fear based, have the strong feeling that politics should never be talked about.
And to a point I agree. People are so strongly aligned along party lines, that if you say the wrong thing, you will alienate many people. The weird thing for me is that most people don’t even know why they follow those party lines.
I spoke to a very smart young man a while back and asked him which party he belonged to.
“The X party”, he said.
“Why did you choose that party?”, I asked assuming he would have a logical reason for why he joined that party.
“Well, I guess mostly because my parents were in the X party”, he replied.
And even stranger, the lines shift based on what the other party is saying. An idea that one party comes up with is immediately opposed by the other, even if that idea is a plank in the opposing party’s platform.
Take the recent rhetoric about the healthcare reform work. From everything I’ve seen, what is being proposed is almost exactly the same thing that the Republicans proposed when Clinton was trying to get them to move on universal healthcare. A sort of modified version of what we have today that tries to fix the biggest fiscal problems with our current system.
This is but one example, but there seem to be endless times that opposition is simply a tribal fight. The Democrats reject all Republican ideas, the Republicans reject all the Libertarian ideas, and they all view each other as bad and wrong. It’s one reason I don’t declare a party, and would probably still be independent if I didn’t want to vote in primaries.
I often wonder if we just got rid of the parties, could we have an intelligent discussion about the issues. Are people just naturally unwilling to consider other viewpoints?
For me, health care is broken, and there are simple things we could do to fix some of the big problems. By making sure people could actually see doctors when they need to, we would reduce the burden on emergency rooms and hospitals caused by people who have either had to forgo care that would have been less expensive.
Add to that fixing some of the corruption in the insurance industry (which also prevents people from getting care early with things like “pre-existing condition” clauses), and not only would health care costs go down, but productivity would go up, due to a healthier population.
It’s not rocket science, it’s what we need, and anything is better than the current system that is bankrupting the country.
I was reminded today of the peculiarly clever way that grief occurs over time. I was watching a documentary on Teddy Kennedy yesterday and was struck by the depth of feeling I had to his words at his mother’s funeral. He spoke about how she would be greeted by all the other family members who had gone on before, and I felt that profound grief for every loss that I’ve experienced in my life.
The greatest (and most recent) of these for me was my dog and companion Bo. I lost him a couple years back after 14 years of loving companionship. I grieved as deeply and profoundly as I ever have for him, but from the very beginning, I noticed that the grief came in waves.
At times there are the pleasant memories, then some consolation from kind words about how dogs wait for us in the after life. Other times, there were simple pleasant memories of times with him, things he did to amuse and warm the heart. And sometimes there was the pain of the fading recollection of what he looked like, or how his fur felt under my hand.
But always the relief and sadness taking turns, with each stretch of sadness being more manageable and more level with the good memories.
My belief about this is that we had to develop this way in order to survive. If we simply grieved until we were done being sad, we wouldn’t be able to do anything for months. If we “cried a river“, we’d die of dehydration or starvation. Our minds give us the reprieve from the grief so we can deal with the business of living, and to allow us to continue to connect with the world.
For me, also faith helps in this, since it gives us a way to view death as a transition rather than something final. Feeling that there will be a time to see your loved ones again, takes away the sting at times (although that comfort doesn’t seem to be available at other times, when your heart feels as if there is no point and faith has no power).