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A Drinking Story

12 Apr

A while back I got into fight after I had been drinking. It shook me up pretty badly because it had some strong repercussions. I stopped drinking for a year and took a real close look at my actions and choices relating to drinking.

I wasn’t an alcoholic, and I didn’t feel I needed to quit drinking altogether. Rather I was a high-risk drinker. When I drank it was with the intent to get drunk, binged in a short amount of time, and would do it in social situations so I could “let go”. It became clear to me that I was doing this because most of the time I was uncomfortable in social situations and drinking made me more likable, less uptight, and gave me an excuse the next day if I made an ass of myself. It was not that hard to change my drinking habits after seeing that this was not the person I wanted to be.

There is still one thing that bothers me.  Friends would encourage drinking, and thought it was funny when I did, even to really dangerous levels. We weren’t particularly young either, I didn’t start drinking until about 22 or 23, and at the time I would hang around people who were in their 30’s.  I particularly remember one night when a good friend said to me after singing a karaoke song “wow, you must not have drank yet, you sound a lot better when you drink.” I always took that to heart because I loved to sing but was so self-conscious about it. Whenever I did karaoke I felt uncomfortable if I wasn’t drinking because I thought I sucked.

Two things that I took out looking at this: learn to be comfortable in social situations without drinking or just don’t go to things you don’t feel uncomfortable at, and never tell a friend they are more fun after drinking. I remember this guy sitting next to me in school at Manoa Gardens and his friend came by and said “wow, it’s like 7pm and you’re not drunk, what’s up with that?” The guy explained to his friend that he had to study, and the friend just said “that’s so unlike you.” Instead of saying “that’s cool, good for you” that friend chose to make the person feel even more inadequate. Good job.

It’s scary how the smallest things can have an impact on our lives.

The Crap CNN Passes for Reporting

5 Feb

Can you pick up how many ways CNN reports statistics in this one story?

Posted: February 5th, 2010 08:40 AM ET
A new poll out Friday takes a look at the public’s view of the Tea Party and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Nashville, Tennessee (CNN) – One third of Americans have a favorable view of the Tea Party movement, but a plurality have no opinion at all, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey indicates that 26 percent of the public has an unfavorable view of the Tea Party movement and that four in ten have never heard of the movement or don’t know enough to form an opinion. The poll’s Friday morning release comes as what’s being billed as the first national Tea Party convention begins its first full day of meetings Nashville, Tennessee.

“The Tea Party movement is a blank slate to many Americans, which is not surprising for a political movement that is only about a year old,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Not surprisingly, opinion breaks along partisan and ideological lines.”

According to the survey, Democrats by a two-to-one margin have an unfavorable view of the Tea Party movement; Republicans like it by a three-to-one margin. Among Independents, 35 percent of Independents holding a positive view and 24 percent a negative view.

Seriously, are they trying to confuse people on purpose?  First they use flat-out percentages.  Then they say four in 10.  Then they use 3-to-one-margins.  Why in sweet Jesus’ name would they use all these different types of ways to use percentages in one single story?  Presenting statistics is one of the things that we do a lot in public health.  If I presented stats in the way CNN does no one would know what the prevalence rate of anything was. 

I remember when I took my first statistics course our professor showed us that you can basically make any point with statistics, as long as you present it in a way that is favorable to what you want to say.  I’m not a “Tea Party” person or anything remotely to it, but it almost appears as if CNN is trying to confuse people on purpose as to what its poll says.  Why not simply use straight percentages?  Or use straight “1 out of 10” type of breakdown?  That way people can compare apples to apples and it makes for much simpler reading and hence accessible to everyone.  CNN constantly releases their polls in this manner and it bugs the hell out of me.

On a related side note, there was this one marketing person that I worked with on a campaign that would constantly communicate “when we polled teens we found almost 7 out of 10 teens don’t drink, but the teens thought that 90% of teens do drink.”  I kept asking her not to use that because it was confusing, and I could see the teen’s faces when she would explain it that they  said in the back of their head “????!!” I would explain it saying “teens thought that only about 1 out of 10 teens don’t drink, but in reality almost 7 out of 10 teens don’t drink.”   You could clearly see they got that.  This CNN story totally reminds me of that.

The Life (not death) of Selena

31 Mar

selenara14 years ago today, Selena was killed by a single bullet to her back at the age of 23. A lot of Spanglish speaking Latinos can relate to Selena because of what she was: a hard-working young person with a positive attitude and proud of her roots. She was unapologetically Latina with her brown skin, big hoop earrings, crinkled dark hair, and big red lips. Watch any of her performances, and she looks like she’s having. Her husky voice sounded nothing like her Latina pop contemporaries, Latina singers usually prized for sounding “feminine”. And she had paid her dues, working in smoky nightclubs, slowly rising to become an international artist, performing in the biggest arenas in the US, and selling millions of albums, even winning a Grammy. But what’s even more fun is to watch how Selena interacted with her fans. She treated them like friends not fans.

What’s ironic is that it’s Selena’s joy for life that made her so endearing to Latinos. She genuinely seemed grateful for her success. That’s why her death was so poignant, because she seemed to really appreciate life.

It’s not how big Selena might have become but how big she would have become. Selena was able to wake up people who had long felt ignored. Latinos who worked in fields and in offices alike slowly united behind her. Even if “mainstream” didn’t accept her she would have come with a built-in audience. It wasn’t just because they liked her music, but because she represented the best there is in us, what we tell our children: with hard work you can succeed. We would have made sure Selena succeeded, we still do. She deserves it.

Watch how much fun she has singing this song

Something in the way…

24 Feb

This woman, Rocio Durcal, was is one of my favorite singers of all time. Her voice seems to have a natural reverb, like it’s vibrating within her body cavity. But what gets me is her intensity. To me it feels like a claws at my heart when she hits those long strong notes, and then the soft sustained notes feel like she gives the wound a kiss.  The song lyrics or theme are secondary in this example, because I don’t think I even know what she’s saying other than “Come Along With Me”

Civil Unions

23 Feb

I honestly don’t understand what legal ground people against civil unions think they are making. They keep comparing allowing same-sex civil unions to allowing stealing, murder, etc., things that are currently illegal. But they fail to realize that it was also once illegal for a woman to vote, or for people of opposite colored skin to marry.

Things like murder and stealing will always continue to be illegal because they infringe on other people’s rights. I don’t understand who someone else chooses as their partner affects me in any legal way.

I wish that people would just come out and say what they really believe: that it’s a crime against God. At least be honest, if that’s what you believe then be out with it. At that time I would say that’s between God and whoever decides to enter into a civil union.

I’m sure if I were to come up to you and tell you how unholy it is to drink alcohol, and how by punishing your body you commit a crime against God, you’d basically tell me to go to Hell, and that no one can judge you but God. Yet these same people are turning around and judging others.

It’s crazy and silly. And a tad bit fanatical. And a whole lot scary that we cannot separate church and state, or even personal prejudices and civil liberties.

No Person is Illegal

15 Feb

I’m no poet by any stretch of the immagination.  But I was inspired to write a blog in prose form. My first try. 


“No Person is illegal”,

The sign over the little girl said.

One of the many signs in a sea of red white and blue, accented with green,

In a ocean of brown immigrants.


“No person is illegal.”

Catchy enough, short enough, simple enough.

The cadences of the phrase make it rhythmic

And leds itself for chanting. 

Smart phrase.

Smart little girl.

It’s in her handwriting,


“No person is illegal”

Thank you AP online for sharing this touching moment.

Click next, on to pictures of Britney Ashley Madonna Aguilera Hilton

To see what their clothes looked like last night. 

I already forgot what the little brown girl’s sign read.

AP is reporting Hillary Cyrus took a picture of her belly with her camera phone.


“No person is illegal.”

The same brown girl, the same sign, two years later.

“No person is illegal.”

What does that mean anyway?

It doesn’t tell me anything,

It doesn’t make me think

It doesn’t even make me want to twitter.

Perhaps it’s a badly worded phrase by someone spending years in ESL classes.

I’m insulted by the sign.

Repelled by it’s short, simple, “catchy” nature.

I’m smarter than that.

I watch CNN & Fox news, just for the balance.

I might have gone to ESL classes, but I can make whole sentences.

As good as anyone else in public education can.


The truth is they are illegal immigrants.

I know that, you know that, they know that.

Illegals are people,

But we knew we would be illegals when we came here.



Illegals because we jumped the wall, or swam the river, or tricked the system.

Illegals because we didn’t get a piece of paper signed.

Illegals because our parents didn’t have enough money to bribe the embassy officials.

Illegals because the officials decided only the mother could have a visa

But her children cannot.

Illegals because they have no other recourse in their home,

So they leave everything they understand behind

Into a land where they know they will live in a golden cage.

Where everything sparkles, but a cage nonetheless.

Illegals because they took all their courage and fears and

Packed it along with a few pictures and several hundreds of prayers,

And the dozen hopes of their entire family. 



But wasn’t that illegal born from a womb?

Didn’t that illegal suffer through his first tooth?

Didn’t that illegal have youthful crushes, and parents,

And brothers and sisters, and cried, and laughed, and even sang when he was happy.

What law of nature did he break?



He jumped over a wall, ran with all his might,

And spent the rest of his years in fear that while

Swallowing up all his pride cleaning the remnants of people’s food

At the local International Waffle House he might lose it all and

Not be able to provide for his family.


The jumping over the wall was illegal.

The working at the pigly wigley was illegal.

The way his boss treated him was illegal.

And maybe the years of having to hold back tears

While watching happy families eat breakfast should be illegal,

But he is NOT illegal.

People are people.

No person is illegal.


Damn.  That little girl was right.