“401k? We don’t need no stinkin’ 401k!” (Actually, I kinda do)

Republicans talk an awful lot about less dependence on the government–that people need to be more self-reliant. While I agree, I do feel part of government’s role is to help people be more self-reliant.  To me, the retirement plan known as the 401k is one of those things that enable people to be independent. It’s a great way for average Americans to save a bundle for retirement, and with little government involvement. Recently Congress has proposed changes to the 401k, changes that may both hurt us in the long run as a nation and negatively impact the middle-class.  Continue Reading

Become a saving rock star!

Saving is a pain in my neck. It doesn’t come naturally to me. Although I didn’t grow up poor, my parents weren’t financial savants either.  In the end, to become a good saver is about setting a goal, creating a habit.  Or as Tim Ferris puts it, setting a fear.  My fear is life will happen, Murphy’s Law will rear its ugly head and I’ll be unable to afford basic necessities, like housing.  Years ago, my dad died unexpectedly 9 days before Christmas during my senior year in high school.  Weeks later my mom was declaring bankruptcy and the bank foreclosed on our house. My Nana stepped in and made sure we kept a roof over our heads.  You’d think an experience like that would jolt anyone into financial literacy.  But, I’m an experiential learner and I don’t like making a mistake just once.  I need to experience a screw-up multiple times before it really sinks in.  So after I graduated college with enough student loans to buy an Alpaca, bounced enough checks to cover the salary of a bank executive and got fired from my first job, it occurred to me I should try saving a little.   So seeing I’m not very good at it, I made it as easy as possible using internet banking and direct deposit.Continue Reading

Nana was an investing whiz

I’ve been thinking about my Nana lately.  She was my grandmother and she died 10 years ago, at age 94.  She was special in many ways, but lately, I’ve been thinking about her financial savvy.  There’s a whole movement now towards retiring early and financial independence that I think she would’ve loved.  It’s a party I’m a bit late to but hey, better late than never.  I think for me part of the issue was a lack of financial knowledge and drowning in student loan debt.  Fortunately, I’ve recently paid off my student loans and over the years I’ve taken steps to educate myself financially.  Part of that education included a recent Freakonomics podcast that hit me with a statistic that down right shocked me: nearly 70% of Americans can’t pass a basic financial literacy quiz (check it out around the 6:20 mark.)  Continue Reading

How will DACA repeal impact our healthcare?

Like other American’s, I’ve been following the news on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, especially now that the Trump Administration decided to cancel it.  People disagree with the program for a number of reasons, although the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute estimates rolling DACA back would cost the government $60 million and cause a 10-year loss of $280 billion.  From a strictly economic perspective, it makes sense in my mind to keep the program.  Still, there may be compelling reasons beyond simple economics to keep or repeal the program.  I wanted to explore DACA from a public health perspective. People have some strong opinions on the best way to handle illegal immigrants and trying to tease out the public health implications also requires addressing the economic consequences too.  Those economic concerns are part of what drives people’s strong emotions, but it’s near impossible not to discuss them in relation to public health.    Continue Reading

It’s just a flesh wound

It’s been a few days since the video of that Utah nurse being arrested has come out.  I’ve been ruminating on it a good deal.  I think part of the shock, at least for me, was the physical violence unleashed in a situation that didn’t call for it.  The police could’ve pushed past her and found someone else to lead them to the patient.  She wasn’t physically barring them from the patient.  They could’ve escalated things higher, “ok, you’re not going to help me, where’s your supervisor” kind of thing.  When asked why they were taking it out on this nurse, that she was “just the messenger,” the police said, “because she’s the one who has told me no.”  So you move on and find someone who will tell you yes.  Like a judge. Continue Reading

You will respect my authoritah!

Wow.  I just watched the video about the nurse getting arrested in Utah.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s pretty disturbing.  There’s a 20-minute version that in my opinion doesn’t make the police look any better.  One thing that disturbed me was the overall attitude that the police were either going to get what they wanted or arrest this nurse for obstruction.  Now I’m not an attorney or a cop, but I am a fairly reasonable human being.  I’m someone who tries, not always successfully, to build consensus and collaborate.  Even if the police have a legal right to the blood draw, which it seems they do not, but if they did, how does arresting someone who is following a legitimate policy reasonable? Continue Reading

I never knew the luxury of airport screening…

TSA is the bane of my existence.  They are the biggest waste of time, in my humble opinion.  I realize they have a job to do and I’m not critical of the people who work in the airports (although there’s room for that too), it’s the system.  The process of pulling out our liquids and laptops and waiting in long lines for some person to see our boarding pass and ID with little conversation seems to me like a lost opportunity.  Part of the screening process should also include questioning passengers. This article in Discover sums it up pretty well.Continue Reading

BTS & the Diver Medic Course

Last week I had the pleasure of attending an EMT-Diver course sponsored by The Diver Medic, an organization created by Chantelle Newman.  Working in the Caribbean on a dive destination island, we see our share of dive related calls and any opportunity to learn and improve I jump at.  The fact that this was in NJ, in March where the temperature reached 24F wasn’t on my mind when I signed up.  This was the second time this course was offered and was taught by Sandy Shaw, a local EMT and dive instructor.  The first course was offered as a pre-course to DEMA, the professional dive show held annually either in Las Vegas or Orlando.  This time, the course was scheduled just before Beneath the Sea (BTS), the annual dive show held in Secaucus, NJ.Continue Reading

Finishing Nursing School

Uggg, the slog is over.  I love being a paramedic, but I also like options.  Becoming a registered nurse seemed like the most logical step.  I graduated paramedic school in 2006 and started nursing school in 2008, which was an utter disaster.  I did great in clinical but the classroom killed me.  Part of it was switching from a medic perspective to a nurse perspective, which isn’t always aligned.  By 2009 I had failed out. Continue Reading

The Right Care

Today was kind of rough, from an emotional, what the hell is going on in the world, kind of way. It wasn’t especially busy, nor were the patients especially sick. We transported a guy to the hospital who could’ve driven himself. Then we cared for a young woman having a miscarriage. Then we responded to a low-speed MVC where the patient didn’t need a hospital. Then we brought a patient in, who by all accounts isn’t a great person and watched as the ER doctor treated him like a jerk. Oddly, it’s that call I just can’t shake today, and I’m bothered more by what I didn’t do, then what I did.

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