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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.

Am I Qualified To Be Myself?

16 Dec

So I’m sitting in a meeting with the Lt. Governor’s “people”. I’m listening to a conversation about the state’s position on lowering the drinking age to 18. I get excited about a point, give my two cents, and feel like moron when I hear “the Lt. Governor doesn’t believe in harm-reduction”. I had a valid point, but I feel like a little kid, playing with grownups. More and more I’ve had to come to terms with my lack of age and experience while trying to feel that I’m qualified enough to sit in that room.

To be completely honest I don’t feel qualified. Sometimes I’m doing my job, like writing 5-year objectives for a grant for CDC and think to myself “why would anyone trust me with this stuff?!” There’s just this overwhelming feeling that I’m not equipped to deal with the bureaucracy and the politics involved. And I can’t help but to let it get to me that everyone else with my job has gotten their Masters, while I’m still trying to get one, and they certainly weren’t hired right out of school. Heck, everyone else in my level either qualifies for retirement or will in a few years (or months). God knows I don’t know half of the acronyms people use in Public Health. Everything is just a damn acronym, and there’s no manual that explains what they all mean. You just sort of have to pick up, somehow, what the heck they’re talking about.

But then there’s this part of me that feels like I’m not at my job because I met the education qualifications but because I bring something new. And I have good ideas. I use good judgment and I work hard. Sometime that gives me a really good boost of ego, enough to get to speak up at meetings when I have ideas, and enough to defend them when someone questions me.

But what I don’t have is the ability to look back at mistakes that I’ve made and feel like I’ve “lived” through them. I afford myself no mistake, and keep chugging a million miles a minute, taking up every spare project, because I cannot do less now, I have something to prove. What I lack in education and age I make up in know-how and work ethic. Sort of. At least I want to give the appearance that I do. Secretly, I sweat at meetings, hoping I don’t do anything stupid that shows how insecure I am that I may screw up.

The sad thing is that because I love what I do is why I need to be perfect at it. I’m not unhappy, and no one particularly is tough on me, other than myself. And maybe I’ll never live up to my own standards of what I believe a “qualified” person should be.

If I had one wish…

15 Dec

I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and one of the perks of beginning to rise in the ranks of public health (is that even possible?) is that I get to travel across the US for meetings or conferences.  Because we grew up basically low-income in Hawaii, travelling outside the state was never much of an option.  Now as I get to travel I feel a sense of guilt of being able to see these places that my family hasn’t been able to.

The first time I went to NYC I thought of how much this place made me feel like I was in a Movie.  I’ve certainly seen enough movies based in that city to feel like everything was a part of a big movie set.  But I couldn’t help but to wonder what my sister would think of Spamalot, or what my dad would feel like on top of the Empire State Building.  I wanted my mom to tour San Francisco with me, and I wanted my brother to eat at that winery restaurant in Napa.  Oh, and I certainly wanted my grandpami abuelito to see the redwoods in Muir Woods. 

As my parents get older, my nieces and nephews become less interested in child-like things, I cannot shake that sense of guilt that I get to see things that they may never get to see.  I tell myself that what I see they’ll get to see, someday.  I bring souvenirs back, lots of pictures, and try to encourage them to go one day.  I’m not in a position to help them go with me, but perhaps as I fly more I can begin to amass a small number of free air tickets so I can take one or another here and there.  And they have been travelling more and more, to Vegas, to California, New Mexico, etc.  But I wish I could show them everything I’ve seen, and give them everything that’s ever been given to me. 

The one exception was my trip to Orlando earlier this year, when my mom decided to go with me.  I was staying at a posh hotel and knew that I would be sitting with remorse in my room if I didn’t have someone with me.  My mom put the plane ticket on her credit card and we had an unforgettable time with Shamu, Spongebob, and Mickey.  We’re not poor like we used to be anymore, but now with children, jobs, and “responsibilities”, my family just can’t pick up and travel.  I wish one day I were rich enough to take them to see what I’ve seen.  That’s my one wish.

This is my 4th blog… sad isn’t it?

14 Dec

So I have emigrated from xanga to wordpress.  And, yes, this is my 4th attempt at a blog.  The first one was on blogger, way back when Britney Spears had “done it again”.  I stayed there for a few years, but then began my own domain with typad with a secret blog, which was lost to cyberspace (and cyber pirates).  Then it was off to Xanga, to basically keep in touch with friends.  Now that xanga has become yet another version of myspace, I feel it’s time to move.

Not only is it time to move but it’s time to write again.  There are way too many times that I sit on my desk at work wondering wishing to complain to someone.  Too many things that I see online that I want to share.  Bryan has basically become immune to my rants, so I need a way to capture them. 

About Obama, and Oprah, and about The Soup, and about that crazy Bromance that’s about to happen.  I’ve recently been getting into Twitter, but that only allows me a few seconds of ranting bliss.   I need more. 

If someone wants to read this, great, but really this is more so that in a few years I can read back my thoughts.  That’s the way you do process eval for public health programs.  You track pre and post and changes in the middle. Then you can do process evaluation by taking a look at changes due to the intervention.  Yes, the previous few sentences made sense in my head.