Saturday, January 24, 2009

Vaccines and Risks

There are risks to not vaccinating a child. Too bad many people don't understand the risks these outbreaks pose, even to vaccinated children.

(CNN) -- A childhood illness that has mostly been curbed through vaccinations has killed one child and sickened four others in Minnesota, health officials said Friday.

The five children were infected with a bacterial infection known as Hib: Haemophilus influenzae type b.

Three of the affected children had not received any vaccinations, including the 7-month-old who died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One of the infected children, a 5-month old, had not completed the three-dose series of the vaccination, and a 15-month old child had received all doses but had an immune deficiency.

Authorities recommend that those younger than 2 years be vaccinated against 14 diseases, including Hib.

I wish people understood that choices are being made that will have serious consequences. Unfortunately, scientists have also done a lousy job communicating with parents as equals -- treating parents with disdain, at times, or at least condescension.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Being True to Me

Once I earn my degree and escape Minnesota, I am going to do every thing I can to reset myself and my path in life.

Since elementary school, I have wanted to be full-time writer. While I have an interest in different forms, from reporting to dramatic writing, I always view writing as a way to inform and educate a mass audience. I don't see the same divisions between reporting and creative writing that my professors saw. In fact, it's clear that journalism is changing... and a lot of great reporters did write with a creative flair before the 1970s.

I'm not even sure what I will do with my degree. It's supposed to open doors, in theory. "I have Ph.D form a writing / communications program. You should publish me." Okay, maybe that's not the exact pitch, but it was meant to help. Plus, in theory it gives me the ability to teach -- thereby funding my writing time.

Honestly, I want to sit and write. I want to string words together in such a manner as to have an effect on people.

I do need an editor or at least an assistant to drag me along. I need deadlines -- and I'm lousy at keeping those myself. I do write a lot more than I recall, with dozens of completed projects I forgot about over time. The problem is that I need someone who can keep me on task, on specific projects, and then help package them.

I thought I didn't write when we lived in California. It turns out, while I did write a lot less poetry I was still writing other things. Plus, I still wrote more poetry than I recalled. In other words, I'm always writing more than I realize. I'm writing constantly and just don't think about it as writing.

Stage plays, short stories, and poems. It turns out I've been writing thousands of words every few months. The problem is that I write bits and pieces, often writing "inserts" for works but never merging the various files. Lots of words sit disorganized on my hard drive, wanting to be united into stories.

I am a writer. I have written that simply statement numerous times. When I try to do anything else, I'm miserable. The more I think about it, it isn't the writing that is a challenge to me -- it's the organizing, editing, and eventual marketing. I used to think it was the writing I hated, a talent I had but did not want. The truth is something deeper. It's that I like to write, but I dread whatever comes next after writing.

From this moment on, I really do need to find a way to make writing my focus. I've made that promise to myself before though, only to get distracted and slip into the mindset that I needed a "real career" to support myself. The problem is, those "real careers" just result in failure because I hate them so much.

No, I need to follow through and be a writer. Nothing else. Stop trying to do what everyone else wants or tells me I should be doing. I'm not going to keep being miserable and depressed, hating myself for not being what I am told to be.

I am never going to be an "academic" deeply vested in research. That would take time from writing creatively. Instead, I might be a passionate writer who teachers others about the power of words. Even a script for a silent movie is a script... words put in motion.

If I can't be a writer, I don't really want to be anything else. Teaching, something I do love, is even second to writing. And I definitely don't mean academic writing. I mean creative, literary,
makes your heart race and mind drift writing.

So how do I get out of this stupid, horrible hamster wheel and do what I was meant to do?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Routine Destroyed...

I like my routines. In fact, I am desperate to maintain them when I am under stress.

For the last few years, I have listened to WCCO (830, Minneapolis) at night. The overnight hosts on this local station simply talked. They'd talk about local music, the weather, and stupid news headlines. They were seldom political; mainly it was just people chatting like they might over shared drinks.

Now, WCCO is carrying a syndicated show at night. It's horrible.

The old WCCO reminded me of KGO (810, S.F.) at times. While KGO can get too political, there were also the familiar callers, the nights when "best burger in the Bay Area" was the topic. Just chatting.

National shows have to be loud, it seems. The hosts need passionate topics, so they can't avoid the political nonsense.

I just want friendly voices in the night.

So, I'm back to using Internet radio and listening to old-time radio shows. You can't get much friendlier than Fibber McGee or George Burns. What a shame that local radio is dying... like local newspapers.

Routines matter to me. At least on this issue, I'm not alone. I think a lot of people in Minnesota are unhappy about the change.