Health care reform finally passed. Whether you’re for it or against it it’s a big deal. I’m not normal much of a fan of political cartoons but this one is brilliant on several levels.
I’m really happy about it because I have a pre-existing condition through no fault of my own. I both have the selfish reason that I may not live in Massachusetts my whole life and might find myself between jobs at some point, and the unselfish one that I think I understand more than most people what it’s like for someone with a medical condition and how devastating it would be to be denied medical care.
I think there are reasonable arguments against the specific law and I don’t think anyone thinks it’s perfect. I don’t think any bill anyone thought was perfect would ever have any chance of passing anyway though. To steal a phrase from one of my favorite blogs, creating a passable health care bill didn’t require walking a fine line, but a “line of negative width“. That’s why all the horse trading was needed and that’s why no one has managed it up until now.
Despite many legitimate warts in the bill, the rage against it is so completely and utterly disproportionate to what’s actually in the bill and I find that really scary. At it’s core it drastically changes regulations on insurance companies and makes sure everyone can get private insurance. Yes, it raises taxes. I doubt it but maybe, as the right is saying, this will make premiums go up faster then they’re already going to (they’re going up pretty damn fast now). Guess what, no one likes to pay taxes. How does that translate to sending death threats to congressmen and throwing bricks through their windows?
Last summer when the Tea Party groups were shouting at town halls, they were doing so based on an memo explaining the best ways to be disruptive and intimidating and express outrage. There’s no question that I disagree with the Tea Party substantively, still I’m for political engagement whether or not I agree with you. My problem with the Tea Party is that they’re just interested in shouting their opponents down. I believe people need to be more politically engaged, but we really need to opposite to happen. We need to listen to each other and approach complex issues with humility.
I don’t know how the health insurance industry is going to look in 5 or 10 years down the road. I have my opinion and you have yours. Now there’s only one way to find out. In the meantime I think we could all stand to take a deep breath. You wouldn’t want that elevated blood pressure to put you on the fast track to one of Obama’s death panels.
I like to run regularly and I live in a city which means I tend to do a fair amount of that running on concrete and asphalt. That leaves me very concerned for the continuing health of my knees. I try to be conscious of my running form keep my footfalls light. When I run with others I often point out to them that they’re stomping their feet and are probably doing damage to their knees.
Another part of what I’ve been doing until recently is wearing nice running shoes. I came across some research a while back saying that’s exactly the wrong thing to do. I was skeptical at first but it started to make more sense to me over time. As I’ve been doing yoga over the past year I’ve become much more aware of my alignment, like how my flat footedness causes my ankles to roll slightly inward. I’ve also come to understand how little things like that affect your posture all the way up. The idea that our feet evolved in a specific way that didn’t take thick healed shoes into account sounded more and more plausible.
The short version of the story is that thick healed shoes, like those pretty much everyone wears these days, cause you to land on your heal when you run. Your muscular-skeletal structure is set up to land on the ball of your foot when you run, allowing your arch and calf muscle to absorb the bulk of the force when your foot lands. Even though the cushioning in a shoe will blunt the peak amount of force so it doesn’t hurt to land on your heal the way it does barefoot, the shoe can’t change the amount of weight coming down. When you strike with your heal, the force goes straight up your leg, notably compressing your knee. I decided to buy some minimalist running shoes see for myself.
It’s been about 2 months, and you definitely need to start out slowly to make the transition, but I’m now going farther and faster than I was beforehand. I’m completely sold. I’m putting less stress on my knees and hamstrings, and I’m not getting shin splints any more. My posture when I run is better now, before I had to make a conscious effort not to look down, now it happens naturally. My calves are still ramping up and still very sore when I finish a run, but I feel like I’m getting to be less limited by my legs and getting to push cardiovascular endurance more than I did with shoes.
If you’re a running, I don’t blame you if you’re skeptical but I really recommend giving this a try.
Another reason I’ve been busy for the past month is we had a release at work. Things tend to get pretty crazy around release time for software projects. Friday afternoon before the actual week of the release, they decided that they should have someone at the customer’s site to make sure things go smoothly. There’s money in the contract for getting the release out on time so they didn’t want to take any chances. My project has lost a lot of people lately so it pretty much came down to me. The following Monday morning I was off to California.
It turned out that our software actually pretty much did what it needed to do and all the issues were elsewhere when I actually got there. That’s better than the alternative where I was running around fighting fires, I suppose but it’s a little frustrating to fly across the country with no notice, to no real end. I did get to put faces to names of all the people I’ve been emailing with, at least.
In addition to the 3 hour time shift I had to wake up at 5:00 am to catch my flight on Monday. I fell asleep at 7:00 PST that night. I didn’t really have much energy to take in sights or do much outside of work while I was out there as a result. I pretty much just wanted to go to sleep by the time I got to the hotel. I did eat at some good restaurants though.
I got back to Boston, Saturday morning, just in time for a weekend of torrential down pouring. It was good to be home, rain and all.
I need to start out by saying, I haven’t written anything hear for a while now, I’ve been crazy busy. A lot of that craziness is winding down now. I’m planning to make up for it, posting very regularly in the near future about everything that’s been going on over the last month.
One of the big things keeping me busy was looking for a new apartment. It turns out that when you don’t have enough time because you’re spending too long commuting, in the short run trying to fix that makes things worse. This is especially true if you’re going to be picky and try to find a place you can afford and be happy in.
Last week Brandon and I found our new place. It’s in Central Square, Cambridge. We had actually seen it a few weeks earlier and were very impressed by the location (very close to the T, nice quiet street), the size, and how cheap it was given that. We had some issues that we couldn’t get over though. There was a half bath next to the bedrooms but the full bath was all the way across the apartment and up a spiral staircase. It was a little older and rough around the edges and we were hoping to move somewhere a little nicer, since we’re getting out of poorly maintained student housing now.
After it didn’t go the price dropped and it still didn’t go. On Monday we found out that the landlord is completely renovating it including changing the upstairs bathroom into a study, putting in a new full bath downstairs. The kitchen is being completely redone, new carpets in the bedrooms and living room, the whole deal. After finding that out, suddenly the place is perfect for us.
On April 15th we get to start moving in and I’m pretty psyched.