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January, 2013:

My Thoughts on the American Health Care Problem

I have pretty strong beliefs about personal responsibility when it comes to health. As written, I don’t support Obamacare. It is program designed to make us more dependent on the government. When it comes to politics, I believe in less government, more personal freedom and responsibility, and that my money should be my money. I think most government and employer-provided health insurance should be eliminated and individuals should buy their own health insurance if they want it.

Stethoscope and piggy Bank by 401(K) 2013 from Flickr

Stethoscope and piggy Bank by 401(K) 2013 from Flickr

Here’s how health insurance works – when you buy an individual plan, the insurance company hopes that the amount they spend on your medical care will be less than what you pay into the plan. When you’re in a group plan (like through your employer) they hope the amount they spend on the group will be less than what the employers and employees pay into the plan. If you connect the dots, you’ll see that a group plan favors the sick and irresponsible because they pay less than what they’d pay for an individual plan and the insurance company can use the funds from the healthy people who don’t need much health care to offset the cost of paying for them.

I’m an entrepreneur. I pay for my own health insurance. I don’t want to pay for yours. Unfortunately, thanks to Obamacare, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.

I’m a huge proponent of personal responsibility and taking responsibility for your actions. Since started to have employer and government-provided health insurance, I wonder if it’s led people to think that they can neglect their health because someone else will be picking up the tab. I wonder if people would change their habits if they had to directly endure the financial consequences for their bad health.

I think health insurance should be more like car insurance. If you always have to pay for it, you’ll budget for it in the present and the future. If we each had our own health insurance plans, we wouldn’t worry as much about losing our coverage if we lose our jobs or retire. If people planned for their financial future, maybe we wouldn’t need Medicare anymore. Additionally, health insurance companies would have to compete more for your business and might offer lower priced plans.

There is an argument that if everyone had to buy their own health insurance that the price would get so high that only a few could afford it. That could happen, but I suspect someone will find a way to offer a lower priced program and make more money by making less money per plan but selling more plans overall.

If health insurance was more like car insurance, your rate would be based on your habits and past behavior. This would encourage more people to be responsible for their health. If you want your car insurance rate to go down, you have to be a better driver. Likewise, if you want your health insurance rate to go down, you need to take better care of yourself.

I wonder if this country would have fewer health problems if we never had employer or government provided health insurance. The responsibility for one’s health would be on the person. If they wanted to be unhealthy – that’s their choice, but they’d also be responsible for the physical and financial consequences. And if a person chose not to get health insurance, that’s their prerogative. They can pay cash.

My idea comes with one exception: health benefits for the military. Our servicemen and women served our country and got many of their health problems from their service. We have an obligation to take care of them.

I know my idea has flaws. If we implemented my idea now there would be a significant portion of the population that couldn’t or wouldn’t get their own insurance and will use ERs for medical care. My plan also requires providing more education about maintaining your health – but if someone chooses not to apply the lessons to their life, that’s their problem.  The most we could hope for is some people will see people not make changes and make the personal choice to not repeat their mistakes.

I know I’m in the minority on this issue and it’s ok if you disagree with me. Feel free to share your views as a comment.

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Recap of the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

Another race, another personal record – I finished the 2013 Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in 1:52:04, 28 seconds faster than last year’s time. Given that pain has been an issue for most of my training for this race, I was only hoping to finish in less than 2 hours. I was ecstatic when I saw that I did so well.

2013 half marathon pre raceI went into this race thinking that this would be my last half marathon. I was grumpy on the light rail as I headed downtown to the expo to pick up my race packet. As I approached the convention center, I started to feel antsy and by the time I was riding the escalator to the room where the expo was being held, I was completely giddy. There’s something about the running community and the camaraderie of doing a big race that makes me excited.

I planned to get my packet, get professionally taped at the KT Tape booth, grab a sample of 5-hour energy and take off, but I ended up spending over an hour there chatting with people. The physical therapist at the KT Tape booth sent me over the to The Stick booth where one of the guys worked on me and I ended up buying my own The Stick after experiencing how well it increased muscle circulation.

2013 Post RaceThe race day was awesome. I met up with my uncle and cousin in the “warm zone” before the race. Brand X Custom made me an awesome custom race shirt for the race that said “Masochist” across the chest and “Run Bitch” across the back. I learned last year that the back of your shirt entertains and motivates the people running behind you so the “Run Bitch” was as much for myself as my fellow runners.

I don’t wear a watch when I run so I don’t know what my pace is except to note the official race time at each mile marker. Instead, I’d find someone ahead of me that I thought was going slower than me and try to catch them.  There was a bald sweaty man that I ran with most of the race. I nicknamed him “Friend.”  If Friend got in front of me, I’d make it a priority to catch up to him. Friend kept me motivated. Around mile 10, I kicked it into high gear and I didn’t see him again until the finish line. He finished about a minute behind me. I thanked him when I saw him in the post-race area.

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, used with permission

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, used with permission

The best signs I saw along the route were “Chuck Norris never did a half marathon” and “Running is mental – and you’re all insane.” I hope the crowd knew how much their cheering and signs were appreciated. It makes the race much more bearable. My friend Jeff lives near the marathon route and he kept those runners entertained with a variety of snarky signs. According to him, a lot of people thanked him for being out there.

When I first finished the race and I saw how well I did, I thought about not giving up half marathons . . . until the ibuprofen and caffeine I took before the race started to wear off. My legs held up well during the race, but they were sore the next day. My amazing masseur had his work cut out for him. I’m not going to run for at least 2 weeks and let my legs recuperate.  I think I want to stay in 10K shape, meaning I want to be fit enough that a friend could ask me on a Wednesday to do a 10K race the following Saturday and I could say, “Yes” without worrying about embarrassing myself.

Special kudos to the race organizers and all the volunteers who helped make this race happen. You guys did a fantastic job.

And for those who care, here’s how my race results compared to the field:

  • 1853rd overall (top 14%)
  • 544th for my gender (top 7%)
  • 121st in my division (top 10%)

If you want to see my results and my goofy race photos, you can look me up here. My race number was 4040.

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No Pants Light Rail Ride 2013 – Me & My Shadow

My law school alma mater holds an annual networking auction to raise money for its pro bono activities. Local lawyers and ASU law school professors offer opportunities to network – usually lunches and letting students tag along to hearings and depositions. Since I can’t be normal, I auctioned off the opportunity for a law student to shadow me at the 5th annual No Pants Light Rail Ride – participation mandatory.

I was tickled when 1L Michael Ortiz, someone who has never participated in a flash mob before, purchased the item and came along for this year’s ride. He agreed to be interviewed and share his thoughts about the experience.

Mike & Me on the light rail platform, Photo by patrickem from Flickr

Mike & Me on the light rail platform, Photo by patrickem from Flickr

Why did you bid on this item?
I was interested in meeting you and getting a better understanding of what an intellectual property attorney does. When I saw that the No Pants Ride was mandatory I interpreted it as a challenge and experience which would take me out of my comfort zone.

How did you feel before the ride?
When I woke up the morning of the ride, I was already nervous. As I drove to the meet-up point I started to feel a bit anxious, but as soon as I saw some pantsless people already assembled at the light rail stop, my anxiety and nervousness disappeared.

What was your initial reaction/thoughts/feelings about being pantsless in public?
I think knowing that others would be pantsless as well made me more excited to take my pants off. I wasn’t nervous at all and I thought it would be more fun than anything. The sight of numerous pantless people is something else, and the feeling of camaraderie among us pantless folk made the entire experience even better. In all honesty I felt pretty comfortable in my underwear; it wasn’t nearly as awkward as I had thought.

What were some of the highlights from the ride for you?
I think the best moments were witnessing the reactions of people getting on the light rail filled with people wearing no pants. Some of the best reactions were people trying to NOT act surprised. Drinking beers with fellow No Pants Riders was also a highlight for me. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had.

Would you do a flash mob again?
Definitely!

What’s your advice for anyone considering participating in a flash mob?
I would say that there is no other experience like it; you meet awesome and fun people, make memories that are unforgettable, and you get a rush that lasts long after the flash mob has ended.

I had a blast hanging out with Mike at the No Pants Light Rail Ride. I’m glad he enjoyed the experience and that he got to see what it’s like to be an organizer of the event. I was pleased to see that the next batch of law students has some open-minded people in it who want to challenge themselves outside the academic arena.

You can check out more pictures from the 2013 No Pants Light Rail Ride on Flickr and via College Times, Phoenix New Times, and AZ Central. The video from the ride is expected to be released soon on Improv AZ’s YouTube channel. If you live in the Phoenix area and want to participate in a flash mob or prank with Improv AZ, please add yourself to our email list and you’ll be kept in the loop on our upcoming shenanigans.

A Year Without Holidays

When I was looking back at 2012, I noticed I didn’t celebrate many holidays last year. It made me realize that holidays serve as anchors and when you don’t celebrate them, it’s harder to notice the passage of time. Instead, the weeks just blend together.

In school, our lives were filled with anchors – the start of the semester, due dates for papers, exams, mid-semester break, between semester breaks, internships, and the holidays acknowledged by the school (Martin Luther King Day, Labor Day,  Thanksgiving, etc.). These somewhat continue to influence your life when you have kids. When you work for a traditional company where you work in an office, the days the company is closed for holidays are the anchors (Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s).

I work for myself so I declare the holidays the company celebrates with a day off. In my first year of business, the main weekday I didn’t work was my birthday. That is a tradition I intend to continue. When I did a summer internship with the Army JAG, the commanding officer in the office required his people to take off their birthday if they were single or their anniversary if they were married. I thought that was a great rule.

Captain Kirk Birth StoneI recently realized that most holidays aren’t important to me, and thus, I don’t celebrate them. I don’t drink, so the traditional drinking holidays do nothing for me (New Year’s, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo). I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because I don’t need Hallmark to tell me when to tell someone I love them. I’m not religious so celebrating Easter seems sacrilegious. I enjoy my friends and family so I’ll use Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day to hang out with them – but even then I prefer low-key celebrations. I do send Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards to my parents and call them on these Hallmark holidays. I’ve never been into Halloween so I tend to ignore it unless I’m attending a costume-required event. My family Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations are awesome, but even then I like that they’re mellow occasions. If I’m surrounded by too much fanfare, that’s not really fun for me.

I like my smaller dorky celebrations – like visiting an outer space themed restaurant on the Future Birthdate of Captain Kirk and getting together with people to eat pie on Pi Day. The other big events on my calendar are things like Ignite Phoenix and flash mobs with Improv AZ. These aren’t really anchors because their dates aren’t fixed, but those are probably the closest things to anchors I have.

Sometimes I wonder if not celebrating holidays makes me a scrooge, but I think it makes me an introvert who doesn’t need Hallmark, calendars, or societal pressure to know what days are important to me. I don’t mind if you celebrate holidays; they’re just not for me.

Simplify Simplify

One of my goals for 2013 is to simplify and de-clutter my life. My life is busy but for the most part already simple in terms of where I spend my time. I want to turn my attention toward reducing the amount of excess stuff I have in my life.

Regular Hangers

Regular Hangers

I started this project last year but I didn’t make as much headway as I would have liked. I managed to clean out my bathroom, jewelry boxes, and a few drawers. This year, I’d like to expand on that and clean out my drawers, files, books, and clothes.

I realized I have a lot of paper around me like flyers from events I’ve attended, business cards from people I’ve met, magazines and newspapers I meant to read, and billing statements that come in the mail. I want to make a concerted effort to get rid of things I don’t need and to keep papers from piling up in the house. Instead I’m going to use or record the information I need and get rid of the paper version.

Reversed Hangers

Reversed Hangers

A few years ago I did a major closet clean out where I tied a string around every hanger in my closet. When I wore a garment, I removed the string. Whatever still had a string on it at the end of the year was removed from my wardrobe. (Specialty items like fancy dresses and my snowsuit were exempt from this exercise.) I’ve since learned that the easier thing to do is to reverse all my hangers and flip them after I wear a garment. I’ve also created a checklist for my garments that are folded on shelves. Anything I don’t wear in 2013 won’t be with me in 2014.

I admire the people who limit themselves to 100 possessions. It must be freeing to have to keep track of so little. I don’t think I’d ever want to do that, but I want to apply their dedication to simplicity to my life.