Monday, April 10th, 2006

sid meier’s civilization II. about 10 years old and silly graphics, but I get addicted to Sim games. the control, the attention to details. the fact that there’s really no break in the gameplay – even if it is “turn based”. I’ve already lost one complete night sleep and most of 2 others… and I downloaded it a couple days ago. used to play CivNet in college. same problem. addiction.

must stop. sleep good. Civ bad.

Mandatory Health Insurance

This is a rant about what became the Affordable Care Act, when it was just RomneyCare. Now that we have a full family with an assortment of medical needs, good health insurance is pretty great. The teacher’s union negotiates for the benefits, so go unions.

What would be better is single-payer national health care. But I’ll save that for a new post.

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

Taxachusetts just passed a law that will soon force everyone to have health insurance. Subsidies for those who can’t afford it and penalties for those who can but choose not to. And for businesses who don’t offer insurance.

One of the reasons I hate health insurance is that I have never found a plan that I will use. I want emergency medical (ER, bambulance etc) for trauma. I want some help with glasses and dentist (one must see and chew to survive, no?). That’s it. But I can’t find a minimalist plan like that. Why pay for services that aren’t going to be used?

It’d be great to find a plan that covered prevenative health programs (not just disease management) like exercise clubs, chiropracty, nutritional supplements etc. Something that pays to stay healthy so there’s fewer actual medical bills.

Eddy and Allison have both been to see doctor’s recently (one is sick, the other pregnant). The bill shows that the doctors charge more than the insurance will pay, and then choose not to bill us for the balance. What that means is the medical industry is intentionally marking up their bill to get the most money from the insurance company that they can. If the cost of the service actually represented the charge, they would have to come after us in order to keep from losing money. And this is apparantly standard practice.

rawr. I hate insurance. I hate doctors and hospitals. I hate the state of health care and that victims of malpractice and mistake are being blamed for driving up the costs with “frivolous law suits.” How about frivolous markups? How much does actually marking the price up drive up costs?

Man, if I get cancer… fuck it. I’ll live it out as best as I can. Go carrot juice and algae 24/7. Sad thing is, insurance would pay for the drugs and surgery to make my longer life hell, but not the actual things that might take care of my health. yeah yeah. I’m young and invincible, right? sure. If that makes you feel better, think that.


Currently I have several things in the works. As I get more into each of them, I’ll add resource links that I found useful.

– Baby
Self-explanatory (I hope). Allison’s actually doing most of the work, but I am officially a “Husband Childbirth Coach” I guess.

– Website
I’m still getting it up and running. Nothing real fancy, but I’ll be adding to the articles and baby section often enough. Someday I’ll update the photos section. I’ve got some great pictures, I promise.

– Job
I work at Penn’s Cave. I was hired as a tour guide for the off-season because I could work full-time, unlike most of the students they hire. Then I was asked my opinion on getting a falconry program here. I managed to convince my boss that a rehabilitated bird would be easier to start with, and better for education programs. So now I get to do that. We’re bringing Shaver’s Creek out to do a Bird of Prey show, and then I’ll get to work on designing and constructing the enclosure, securing the permits, and food, and the birds.

They’ve also asked me to look at reworking the cavern tour script and gear it more for school groups. I’ve also contacted a lady who rehabs bats and does educational programs with them, so we may strike up a partnership there (I mean, hey, it’s a cave, right?)

Oh, yeah – I’m also training for the wildlife tour and writing my own script to use for that (more interactive education while still entertaining.) I love it though. It finally seems like my Wildlife Science degree and all my camp/education experience are coming together in one place. My boss is really excited about developing some education programs, and I’m ready for the challenge.

– Essential Nutrition
My other job is a home-business where I teach people how to earn an extra paycheck by using and sharing some fantastic diet and nutrition products that really work. The only thing keeping me from making a ton of money at this is my fear of just asking people if they’re interested in something like that. When I get passed that first step, I do well, but getting there is often a challenge.

The company I represent came out with a new product that is just fabulous. It’s a nutrition/energy bar made from whole foods instead of isolates and sugar (like many). This bar is approved for retail sale, so my next project here is to try and get some bars into a few retail stores. I’ll get to handle the inventory and everything, so it’ll be a great learning experience. It should also be great exposure for the company and products. I just need to remember to breathe, go slowly, and relax.

No such thing as a free lunch

©Phill Becker

When you flush something down the toilet, where does it go? Well, of course it goes into the sewer or septic system never to be heard from again. Good bye and good riddance, right? Only that’s not really the end of the line. The sewer lines connect to treatment facilities, and eventually find there way out back into the world. It all has to go someplace.

The single most important thing I learned in college this: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and everything goes somewhere.” The free lunch thing is no surprise to most people, we’ve heard it before. Even if you do score a free lunch, it cost you something in energy or resources to get there in order to consume it. Say, for example, that your best friend from back home bought you lunch one day. Think about what it took to get there – fuel to travel from wherever you were (or energy to burn if you walked), the time you spent not actually stuffing your face cost you, and so on. That lunch that didn’t cost you money out-of-pocket still used up some of your energy and resources. This is not a new idea. Now, take that idea and expand it a little into “everything costs something.” O.K. that’s a big expansion, but the premise is still the same.

After we get that free lunch, what happens to it? Some of the food is changed into energy to run our bodies, some is broken down into basic components which get put back into our bodies as new living tissue and cells, and some is passed through as waste material. Now that we’re thinking about the sewer again, let’s really follow it through. Waste material is broken down into smaller bits, but still the same substance. Bacteria and other decomposers then breakdown the waste material into more basic components, and the organic material gets passed back into the environment. But, in order to break down that waste material, decomposers must usually ingest it. They then draw energy and fresh raw materials for their own life functions, and then pass on waste. Which eventually gets passed into the water systems and usually finds its way back into another organism. Lather, rinse, repeat. I’m not trying to gross you out, just help you remember what you probably just forgot to think about today.

Every action taken does indeed have some kind of reaction, even outside of physics. “Everything goes somewhere, and there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

If everything goes somewhere, then it probably came from somewhere as well. Back to that lunch, say a cheese burger with a soda and a side salad. Pretty basic stuff, found all over the western world. The raw ingredients came from the local supermarket, so that’s easy enough. Only nothing actually grows in the supermarket, right? So let’s look just at the beef for a moment. Backing from the restaurant, we had: a vehicle to transport the beef from somewhere, a shipping center to store the frozen pre-formed patties, vehicle, processing plant to turn beef into patties, vehicle, plant to butcher the cow, vehicle, stockyard, vehicle, farm. Plus the cow ate grass or grain. If the feed wasn’t growing straight out of the ground, more vehicles and more processing probably were needed. Lunch’s other ingredients include the cheese, bun, condiments, and a couple different veggies in the salad. If you really thought about it, you might be able to figure out where the stuff in the soda came from originally, but I’m not going attempt it.

So if everything comes from somewhere, goes somewhere, and costs something, what does that mean? It means that we as living beings are smack dab in the middle of a REALLY complex system. Choosing to visit your friend and eat that cheeseburger becomes more than just simple entertainment and caloric intake. It connects you to the larger world by bringing it inside your body. Those thing you bring into your body will become your body.

As consumers, we influence the market by our purchasing powers. Intelligent food choices can be difficult, but highly rewarding decisions. Organic produce ensures your food is free from harsh chemicals, and grown in an Earth-friendly or sustainable manner. Buying locally grown foods boosts the local economy, and just think of all those transportations costs and resources that get skipped! An even better option is regional “farmer’s markets” where you can buy local, often organic produce and flowers straight from the grower. What a fabulous way to connect to your neighbors and your food!

It may be hard to feel connected to the wide world when there are so many steps between your food and the soil it originally came from. Many people feel this connection by hunting or fishing, or even picking an apple or berry of the plant yourself. Try it sometime, even big cities have apple trees someplace. Knowing the source of your food is just one step in appreciating and nourishing your body. If the body is not properly nourished, the mind lags behind, health suffers, disease happens. Disease, or dis-ease could be thought of as simply the body’s way of letting you know that it is not in top working condition, perhaps due to a lack of some kind – energy, nutrient, sleep, water, etc. “A well nourished body doesn’t make mistakes.”

Take time to think about what you do to your body. It will love you and defend you and provide for you for your entire life. The only tools you give it are the air, water, and food you bring in. When high-quality raw materials are combined with healthy servings of respect and exercise the results are nothing short of miraculous.


Allison Becker

This was Allison’s CV as of 2001.


Personal Information

Allison J. Becker
[email protected]
[we used for free email for a while before it shut down]


Doctor of Philosophy Candidate : The Pennsylvania State University
College of Education
Area of Focus: Language and Literacy Education
Jamie Meyers, advisor

Masters of Arts : University of Massachusetts, Boston
College of Arts and Sciences
Area of focus: Applied Linguistics
Donaldo Macedo, advisor

Bachelors of Arts: Texas A&M University
College of Arts and Sciences
Area of Focus: English

Teacher Certified in Secondary English Education – State of Pennsylvania

Professional Experience

Professional Development School Associate and Graduate Assistant, 2001-present
The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA
Jamie Myers, advisor

English as a Second Language Teacher, 1999-2001
Language Studies International, Boston, MA
Brooke Cashin-Breen, Director

Supplemental Instructor of English Literature, 1996-1999
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Shelly Christie-Blair, Supervisor

Courses Taught

All levels of Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking in the adult ESL Classroom

Assisted with the teaching of 9th-12th grade ESL in State College High School, State College, PA

Facilitated various educational theory and methods classes in the Professional Development School

Conference Presentations

National Conference of Teachers of English: Fall 2001
  – Facilitated roundtable discussion of Interdisciplinary Writing Skills, Baltimore, MD

Holmes Conference : January 2002
  – Table presentation of the use of inquiry in the model of the secondary English Professional Development School at The Pennsylvania State University, San Antonio, TX

Professional Organizations

National Council of Teachers of English member

Awards and Honors

Diefenderfer Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies
2002, The Pennsylvania State University

Book Award Recipient for Outstanding work in Applied Linguistics
2001, University of Massachusetts, Boston

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