succumbing to peer pressure

Friday, April 02, 2004

Just finished watching Apollo 13. I know it's dorky and cliche, but I'm always a little choked up and inspired by the end - when the entire control room at NASA erupts into applause at the safe landing and several of the guys get a little teary-eyed. Sure, it's the Hollywood version, but a room full of really smart, geeky types all busting their butts for a common purpose rings true with me. I don't know much about the space program, and I have to admit that I don't feel all that strongly about space exploration (as a budget allocation). But I just love the mentality of that mission, and I think it's something we've been missing for a long time. There was a problem up in space, and a ton of people down on the ground essentially locked themselves in a room with all the same supplies as the guys up in space and said, we're not coming out until we come up with a solution. It was completely unacceptable to them not to find a solution. I don't see very much of that these days. Take, for example, the spaceship Columbia. The panel that resulted in meltdown on reentry was known to be flawed before they ever left earth. But it hadn't resulted in a catastrophe yet, so they figured it would be ok.
Also, obviously, the geek-camaraderie appeals to me. I mean, it's at least some of the reason I'm in school. I felt it when I visited NIST too. This dorky excitement about the tensile strength of a material, or the speed with which they could make particles move. I really, really hope I can find that in some sort of career.

On an unrelated note, the silver lining to being sick is that starting to feel well again is like springtime after a bitter northern winter - I feel so damn good right now! I was ridiculously productive today, just because it was so nice to feel able to be productive again. I did research for my two upcoming papers, finally made the code for my consulting project work (mostly), organized some of my notes for qualifying exams, checked out an apartment complex for Daydreamer's Guide, and bought orange tulips (among other things). Then, I got a flat tire, which would have sucked, except that I remembered that I have AAA and not only did the guy come to my apartment to change the tire, he was able to patch it on the spot, so I don't have to run out to the mechanic's in the morning! Then I ran to Target and picked up some kickin' black mossimo flip flops and round vanilla candles. Since then I've mostly just been sitting around the house, but I'm ok with that. Hopefully I'll feel even better tomorrow, 'cause then I'll be unstoppable!

Sending e-mail to the White House is fun!
Sent the following e-mail to President Bush this afternoon:

Dear President Bush,

I am surprised and saddened by your choice to defund the UNFPA. I know that you
are concerned about coerced abortions and sterilization in China, but surely you
believe your own State Department's team of investigators. They went to China
in 2002 and determined that the UNFPA was definitely not a part of any negative
reproductive health practices, and in fact, was a force of good within China.
Your own investigative team recommended that the United States fund the UNFPA.
And yet you declined. Surely you did not know that without our contribution it
is estimated that there will be 2 million more unwanted pregnancies, 800,000
more abortions, 4,700 more dead mothers, and 77,000 more deaths among children
under five. I am sure that as a compassionate conservative these are not the
sort of results you had in mind. Until you correct this mistake, I will be
making donations to the 34 million friends of the UNFPA in your name, because I
am confident that you do in fact want to help poor mothers and children in third
world countries.

Megan Price

I know he'll never see it, but some poor intern will have to read it, and that's enough to make me feel the tiniest bit better.

So my 8:30 Friday morning class was cancelled. Of course, that was posted on the classroom door, so I actually had to wake up and come to school this morning, only to discover that I could have slept in. Ah well. Much as I would like the sleep, it'll do me good to be up and at 'em and get working at a reasonable hour today. Which never happens unless I have some sort of commitment dragging my ass out of bed.

I got my midterm papers back in Health and Human Rights, and although I did well (A-/B+ and A-) the comments make me nervous. The overall comment is that the writing is informal and reads like a book report. Which is totally true. And frustrating, since a) I used to be able to write better than that b) I should be able to write better than that and c) over the next 3 weeks I definitely have to write better than that. Anyway.

In political news, the Senate shelved a welfare reform bill, indefinitely, because republicans and democrats can't play nice together. Obviously, the issue is much more complicated than that, but it's too early for thoughtful analysis. The point I want to make is the reason the bill got shelved is democrats wanted to add a section about raising the minimum wage and the republicans didn't want to vote on it.

"The minimum wage has been $5.15 an hour since 1997. Democrats wanted to increase it to $7 over two years. A person who works 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year would then make $14,560, rather than the current $10,712. Under federal guidelines, a family of three is considered poor if its annual income is less than $15,670."

Call me crazy, but wouldn't it be just a little bit logical if the minimum wage was set so that a person working full time was just above the poverty level? And speaking of poverty level, $15,670 for a family of three!?!? I don't know about the rest of you, but I make $18,000 (before taxes) and that's just enough to cover me and my cat. Sure, I live pretty decadently (by poverty-type standards) but I also don't have things like car payments or credit card debt or student loans to pay off, which many living in poverty do. And it's not like those minimum wage jobs come with health insurance, so that's another couple grand a year out of a measly $15,670. As Senator Barbara Boxer says, "We want to get people off welfare," Mrs. Boxer said. "That's the point of the underlying bill. Lets get them into work that pays. I hear all about compassionate conservatism. Fine. Show it to me. Where is it?"

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I'm Back!

With nothing all that interesting to say. I've been sick since Monday and am finally feeling better today (though still sound pretty gross). I figure it was just karma balancing things out from the awesome weekend I got to enjoy. Anyway, mostly just slept Monday and Tuesday, realized yesterday that I have about 3 weeks to write 30 pages, and have been working on that since then. Am venturing out of the house for something other than school for the first time tonight - going to weekly Taco Mac gathering. And that's about all.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Civic Rent

I attended a meeting today between Emory's Law Student's (soon to be Coalition) for Choice and Georgia's Win List. Win list is a Political Action Committee working to get pro-choice democratic females elected to political office. One of the women spoke about civic rent - our obligation to be involved in social and political activities on behalf of our brothers and sisters who cannot afford the luxury of activism. I really like thinking about it in that way, and I figure her voice in my head will get me to the next meeting I'm thinking of skipping because I have homework to do or I'm a little tired or there's an interesting movie on tv. The meeting was awesome. A bunch of first year law students and me, surrounded by all these amazing, powerful women. I know it's obvious, but I've been spending so much of my time as an activist working with 20-somethings that even though I know it's my mother's generation who achieved so much of what we take for granted (and are at risk of losing) that it was really inspiring and comforting to see this wall of support. People my age stumble so much - don't know the right people to call, aren't sure how to organize, don't have enough money, whatever - being reminded that there's this well of resources was a relief.

Living the Dream

Jason Koebler was in Atlanta yesterday (fellow Clevelanders will know who I'm talking about) and I got to have dinner with him and his friend Justin. They're living in Nashville, trying to make the whole music thing happen. It's so cool to watch and listen to them talk about how they feel they're Living the Dream. Which, at the moment, means working crappy-ass jobs (justin moreso than jason) to earn a little studio time and driving down to atlanta to buy shitloads of equipment and staying up all night playing. But they love it and they're so's awesome. I hope that all of us are, to some extent, Living the Dream; in that we're doing whatever it is we want to be doing for the rest of our lives. Or at least, working towards whatever that thing is. But I rarely hear people talk about how excited they are to finally be on that path and how lucky they are to have found that thing about which they are passionate. So it was really nice to hear these two guys realize just how lucky they are and not take that for granted. And more than that, put in the hard work and effort it takes to do something like music. Sure, it's risky, and not many people "succeed" in the mtv-video-top-ten-single kind of way. But these guys found the thing they want to do and they're making it happen. Scary and risky or not. And I think that's admirable.