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A Talk a Day to Keep me Inspired and Learning

October 26, 2011

So since starting this Blog, I’ve been seriously neglecting it. I have a number of post ideas that I’ve started but not felt ready to finish. In addition to needing topics for this, I need and want to be learning more, so I’ve decided to give myself a new goal of watching or listening to some type of talk/webcast/podcast everyday. Since I have a smart phone, I really have no excuse for not being able to do this each day. I initially planned to watch a Ted Talk everyday, but I’d like to explore other things as well, such as online lectures, new podcasts, content. I’ll happily take suggestions for things to watch.

As I’m looking at getting back into Health Care IT work, I thought I’d start with a related talk. Today I watched Daniel Kraft’s Talk, “Medicine’s future? There’s an app for that”. In the talk, Kraft talks about how technology is changing medicine and where it might be taking us. He discusses many recent developments and inventions as well as what we might see in the not so distant future. It’s amazing to see the speed at which advancements are happening. While watching, I started to think a lot about the patient-doctor relationship. Kraft speaks briefly about the potential to improve the amount of time doctors spend with patients and increase communication but his talk is mostly on devices, information, and indirect contact. His talk can be viewed at the link below. It’s a fast paced talk with a lot of interesting information. I recommend it if you are interested in technology or healthcare.

My mother was a surgeon, and I believe one of the reasons she was successful was her ability to truly connect with patients. Even though surgery is not necessarily a field where a patient will have a long-term relationship with his physician, from what I saw, my mom’s patients felt truly cared for while under my mom’s care. Whenever running errands with her, she would be stopped by former patients who wanted to say hi and thank her. Additionally, I often would wait in the doctor’s lounge for my mom as a child while she made rounds. Usually she said it would take a half hour to an hour, and it always took much longer. This is likely because she took the time to talk with each of her patients and their families and make sure all of their questions were answered, and they felt comfortable (or as comfortable as possible given the situation).

Technology has the potential to truly change healthcare. As heath care technology continues to advance, it is critical that we not only focus on gathering information and the bottom line, but also finding ways to improve the doctor-patient relationship and not hurt it. In many industries, human interaction is almost entirely removed (banking, retail, etc), but as “care” is an essential part of health care, it cannot be removed from heath care.


A Hope for Change – Capital Punishment

September 22, 2011

As long as I can remember, I’ve considered the death penalty to be wrong. I do not believe one human being has the right to decide when another should die. Although there are a lot of terrible people out there, and it seems many cannot be rehabilitated or change, I do not believe that anyone has the ability to determine with absolute certainty which criminals will never change or the right to decide which ones should die. In addition to the moral issues related to the death penalty, it is not applied fairly or consistently in the United States, and has been used in instances where there is significant evidence that he executed may have been innocent.

In recent weeks, there have been a number of headline news stories surrounding death penalty cases. These stories have highlighted cases like that of Troy Davis (convicted of killing a police officer in Georgia) where there is a question of his guilt, as well as cases like that of Lawrence Brewer (convicted of the racially-motivated killing of a a back man in Texas) where there is little doubt of his guilt. Additionally there are stories about the sheer number and pace of executions in certain states (Texas has executed 11 inmates this year, in the US 35 have already been executed).

I’m hopeful that the increased attention on the death penalty will encourage change and that the death penalty will be used more rarely if at all.  As more people become aware of the issues with the death penalty, the most problematic being the likelihood that innocent people have been executed, hopefully our political leaders will see the need for change as well. In particular, Rick Perry’s candidacy will continue to fuel the fire of this debate as he has seen 235 men executed during service as governor of Texas.  Although the death penalty is far from the only issue with the US Justice System, I consider it to be one of the largest and easiest to fix.

Below are a few articles I have read and recommend regarding death penalty cases in the US.

Trial by Fire by David Grann – looks at the case of Todd Willingham who was executed in for the death of his two children who died in a house fire.

Davis is Executed in Georgia by Kim Severson – includes some of the details of the appeals and case against Troy Davis who was executed last night.

Troy Davis, Texas and the Ultimate Justice by J.D. Bell – a brief look at the Troy Davis case and its ties to how the death penalty is handled in Texas.

I am Lawrence Brewer by Sarah Howell – a look at how reactions varied to the executions of Troy Davis and Lawrence Brewer (thanks to Brian Johnson for pointing me to this link)

A Reason to Scuba Dive

September 15, 2011

I’ve never been terribly interested in going scuba diving. My disinterest is likely related to my not so great experiences snorkeling. I remember snorkeling as a child and enjoying it, but a couple of years ago, I went while in Hawaii, and it was not terribly fun for me. While snorkeling, you have to float, swim around, keep your snorkel above water, and avoid running into things like coral. This proved to be too much for me, especially because I kept having trouble with breathing with the snorkel. I was later convinced to wear a life jacket while snorkeling, which made it more enjoyable, but still not great (and had the added bonus of making me feel silly). So as a result of not enjoying snorkeling and being somewhat freaked out by a lot of things in the ocean, scuba diving was not on my to-do list.

This changed, when I learned about the Grüner See in Austria. The lake is located in the Hochschwab mountains and is filled by snowmelt from the mountains. During the fall and winter the water is low, but in the spring the water rises resulting in an underwater meadow. Divers are able to see a variety of different plant-life as well as paths, a bridge, and benches underwater. I recommend you view the YouTube video below (there are a lot of other ones to check out as well) to get an idea of the lake.

Scuba diving is the best way to experience this lake, so as a result I’ve decided that scuba diving in it will go on my list of things I want to do in my life. And who knows, maybe I’ll enjoy it so much, I’ll decide I want to do more scuba diving.

Why I’m Doing This

September 14, 2011

I did some blogging during my Fulbright year. The main purpose of that blog was to give updates to my family and friends of what I was up to in Germany.

My reasons for starting this blog are a bit different and broader. My reasons and goals for this blog are:

  • Practice writing. Since college, most of my writing has been in the form of emails, Facebook updates, personal letters, and business documents. I’ve done very little creative writing and very little formatted writing of more than a few paragraphs. I’m hoping through writing this, I’ll be able to reactivate some of my writing skills. This will improve my writing for resumes, cover letters, essays (when I decide to apply to grad school), and general writing.
  • Unpack my mind. I’m currently struggling with my need to nest as I don’t have a room or apartment of my own where I can unpack my things and express myself.   Instead of unpacking physical things, I’ll be unpacking the things going through my mind. Through this I hope better understand my own feelings, passions, and thoughts.
  • Enhance my online profile. I am in the midst of job and apartment hunting. As a part of this, I suspect people are regularly googling me to find out what I’m all about. This blog gives me the opportunity to share a bit about myself in a way that I am comfortable with and I control.
  • Inspire creativity. Since starting to work professionally 4 years ago, I don’t feel I’m as creative as I used to be. Through this I hope to explore, develop, and share more of my own skills and abilities. his
  • Give myself a project. Although I have things I’m spending time on, I felt I needed something more substantial and personal. This will be a new and different challenge for me. It forces me out of my comfort zone, as writing and sharing are nothings I generally consider to be strengths of mine.
  • Document this time in my life. I’ve never been one to write in journals or keep a diary for more than a week or two (no guarantees this will last more than a week), but I enjoy going back and reading the entries from when I did. Every few months, I re-read my blog entries from Germany and am thankful I have some of the memories documented. I’m hoping I will feel similarly about this blog.

This will likely be a collection of writings of experiences I’ve had or want to have, sharing of things I’ve found interesting, and expression of my thoughts and feelings on certain topics. I don’t know that what I write will be of too much interest to many people, but I am doing this in large part for myself. I do hope that people find what is on here interesting, but if they don’t, I won’t mind. I suspect it will mostly be read by me and some of my close friends and family members, which is entirely fine by me.

For those who do read it, thank you. Feel free to leave comments and let me know what you think or give me suggestions.