Thursday, February 25, 2010

Billy Kim

My parents love telling me my "where I came from" story. As one version goes, I was the troll they found under a bridge. (Seriously.. they told me that all the time). The other one is about how they were told I'd be a boy, but lo and behold, I entered the world sans 5th appendage.

In honor of my would-be name, I am channeling my inner Billy. If I were a man, I'd frame this and grab a pint with these guys. And then I'd aspire to be this man.

Speaking of men, I learned a little something about my paternal grandfather. I never met the man because he died when my dad was 3. My paternal grandmother died around the same time, so the only thing I've known about them was what they looked like from the painted portraits at my uncle's house. Well apparently, my great-grandfather was a wealthy man who educated his 4 children (Gramps was the eldest) in the nouveau Western tradition. Gramps was a ladies man who gambled away the family money, liked the drink a little too much, and had a few run-ins with gangsters. Grandma was arranged wife #2 who came from the country, so they didn't exactly get each other.

I really wish I could have met my grandparents. I've only ever met one, and that wasn't enough time.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

I am a public health nerd, yes.

The start of it all: Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. I remembered glancing over the cover several times, but only after my sister recommended I read it, did I finally pick it up and flip through it. Within the first few pages I became engrossed in this non-fiction/historical/anthropological/sociological/east v. west cultural/medical/beautifully written novel, and did not put it down until I read from cover to cover. Yes, I blind-faith entered into the world of public health based on one book.

The last time I read a book from cover to cover was probably the first in the series of The Boxcar Children. I wanted so badly to be one of those four kids, make a home inside a boxcar, scavenge for food.. I digress.

Here we have a how-to public health site c/o the American Public Health Association. One of the first things my BU professors said was that I'd probably have to explain to my family over Thanksgiving dinner what "public health" is and why I just plunked down an obscene amount of money for a degree in it. Well, here's a little nibble of what I've been occupying myself with.

This health care bill has been hogging media attention over the last several months. I'm not here to weigh in on the pros and cons. Just know that I've been called a tree-hugging liberal who loves the world--make your assumptions as you will about whether you think I'd be in favor of, or against universal health care coverage.

What I will say is that compared to other developed nations, we’re spending way too much money, 16% of GDP, to be so far behind our competitor countries. As of 2006, the US ranked 28th in life expectancy. That figure is now 38th, between Cuba and Portugal (UN 2005-2010).

Purely from an economic investment perspective, where's the bang for the buck? There are obvious reasons for why the health care system is the way it is (hi, pharma, lobbyists, private insurance!), but it's about time we join the adults at the big table, don't you think?

Finally, this too, is public health. I've always been interested in law (shhh, don't tell my mom) but I'm still not convinced that law school is in my future. However, I find these cases fascinating. Who knows, if I ever manage to get my hands on a few more hundred thousand dollars, I might add some alphabet soup behind my name.