Tuesday 1 January 2013

New Year's Resolutions: 2013

It's the end of 2012 and it's time to roll out the time honoured tradition of resolving to do something to better ourselves.

I always start the New Year with the same resolution, “I am going to quit smoking.” This always elicits a few chuckles from those who know me as I have never smoked in my life. When asked to explain, I always add, “I like to start with something easy then work my way up to the hard stuff.”

For 2013? I am once again going to be a man of my word. I am once again going to demonstrate a level of self-discipline that others can only admire from afar and hope to one day emulate. As for the hard stuff? We’ll see. I’m still working on my smoking one day at a time.

Charitable Contributions
On December 31, 2012, just under the wire, I made some charitable contributions over the Internet to the United Way, the Daily Bread Food Bank, and the Cancer Society. Yes, it's a good deed and yes, I will get a tax break because of it but I trust the tax break doesn't negate the good deed. (I donated using my VISA over the Net. How much does VISA take? 2.5%? Probably I should have sent a cheque earlier in the month. I see no reason why VISA should profit from my charitable donation.)

Twenty years ago, in another company, I took on the role of organiser for the company's annual United Way fund raising drive. I got a chance to learn about donating: who donates and how much. I was a little surprised to find out just how few in our society donate. Even if some did contribute, I was a little surprised at how little they may donate in comparison with their salary. Good? Bad? Not quite the Good Samaritan I was hoping for?

I could think of charity in terms of biblical tithing but I have come to realise that in this modern era, one could argue that taxes represent a system of tithing. Taxes are a form of giving back to the collective we, to the general good of society. Yes, yes, everybody will have their complaints about how the money is spent and how government wastes our tax dollars but I'm sure that is very much the nature of the beast. At the end of the day, our elected officials do what they can and it is up to us to vote and keep them in line.

What to think about in 2013
Obama is back in office for another four years and what will come of that? Thank goodness the Republicans did not prevail. Never in my lifetime have I heard such craziness spouted from the mouths of supposedly intelligent people. Am I being unfair in my assessment of the Left? Read on.

A report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies states: "Lack of health insurance causes roughly 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year in the United States." (Wikipedia: Uninsured in the United States: Consequences)

Romney said that one of first things he was going to do when he took office was to repeal Obamacare. I wrote that a vote for Romney was a vote to condemn 18,000 people to death. That works out to 1,500 people per month or 49 people per day. Yes, Obamacare isn't perfect; yes, there is still much to do but the United States is the only advanced industrialised country in the world that does NOT offer its citizens universal healthcare. Canada can do it. England can do it. France, Norway, and the list goes on and on but the great old U.S. of A. can't do this. Uncle Sam, Mr. I'm-the-last-superpower-in-the-world can't get its act together to provide its people with what should be considered the fundamental right of every person: good health.

Obama supports Gay rights. Thank God. Are we going to drop this and move on? There are far more important issues to deal with than the question of sexual orientation.

In 1952, when the American Psychiatric Association published its first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, homosexuality was included as a disorder.
In recognition of the scientific evidence, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the DSM in 1973, stating that "homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities." (Wikipedia: Homosexuality: Psychology)

Let me get this straight: In recognition of the scientific evidence, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the DSM in 1973." Who said to put it on the list in the first place? Whoever did this did so without scientific evidence! What else have they possibly screwed up? (I see that transgendered people are demanding the same treatment, that is, that they are not mentally ill and their "condition" be removed from the APA's list of disorders. Wikipedia: Transgender)

In 2012, I suffered the worst sports injury of my entire life: traumatised upper left quadrant stopping just short of tearing my rotator cuff. As of this writing, I'm coming up to the nine month mark. I'm much, much better but I don't want to stop there. I want to make sure this never ever happens to me again. I can't afford to waste my time being incapacitated by an issue one could argue was and is avoidable. I am consulting knowledgeable people. I am working with experts. I continue with a daily regime of various exercises and I plan in the second or third month to supplement that by buying a home gym set to start resistance training. Yes, I could go to a gym but I don't want to waste one second of my time waiting for equipment. I am going to be serious. I am going to be dedicated. And what better way to be committed than by slapping down my credit card?

Due to my health issue this past year (no, it was a health catastrophe), I didn't take any vacations. My company was very, very generous in allowing me to carry forward vacation time that normally I would lose. I must take advantage of this and go out and see some of the world. A few years ago, I had talked about going to China. I think the time for procrastinating is over. And I should see more of Europe.

I have never been to Las Vegas. Why? I have no idea. I am going to rectify this. I was thinking of putting a few things on the list like some shows (Cirque de Soleil), the Grand Canyon (seen it but why not twice?), and the Hoover Dam. However, somebody mentioned the unusual of the unusual. It is possible to take a plane flight like astronauts do which mimics the weightlessness of space on a plane commonly and comically known as the vomit comet. I found the company, Zero G Corporation (see link below), and discovered this costs $4,950. Whew. I can go on a lot and I mean a lot of roller coaster rides for that amount. Ha ha. There are many wonderful things one would love to do in life if it wasn't for the money. First thing to do: check my lottery tickets.

Final Word
I am a 60 year old single man. Without trying to be maudlin but really trying to be realistic, I have twenty maybe twenty-five years left. What can I do to make those years memorable?

"The greatest thing in life is finding people that turn small moments into great moments. Nothing in life must be eternal only unforgettable." - Unknown

I would like to add a few unforgettable moments to my list of things accomplished in 2013. Sitting here writing this, the details are not yet fleshed out, but I do plan on doing something about it. That's my New Year's resolution.


my blog: Obamacare: Congratulations on doing the right thing, America!
Obamacare is not perfect. But it is a step is the right direction. Socialism? Is helping your neighbour socialism? Is helping your country socialism? Is spending more on uncompensated charity care than on insuring people not very astute? Is spending more than any other country on health care but only ranking 72nd in the WHO's health assessment ranking something anybody would not want to turn around? Would you let 18,000 people die unnecessarily each year because they have no health insurance? You have a right to be free. You have the right to work, succeed, and travel. Shouldn't you have the right to be healthy?

my blog: If you're a woman, this is why you should vote Democrat
The Republican Party is trying to scare you. They are trying to scare everybody. The apocalypse is upon us and if we don't vote for them, next stop Hell, fire and damnation. However, the most Conservative elements of the American political landscape including the Tea Party have completely hijacked the GOP. While you listen to their message of economic recovery, they are slipping onto the ballot a number of policies and political views which would turn back the clock to an era of a patriarchal society in which women were second class citizens; they were merely chattel. Think I am exaggerating?

Wikipedia: Reduced gravity aircraft
A reduced gravity aircraft is a type of fixed-wing aircraft that provides brief near-weightless environments for training astronauts, conducting research and making gravity-free movie shots. Versions of such airplanes, officially nicknamed Weightless Wonders, have been operated by the NASA Reduced Gravity Research Program. The unofficial nickname "Vomit Comet" became popular among those who experienced their operation.

Zero G Corporation
Zero Gravity Corporation is a privately held space entertainment and tourism company whose mission is to make the excitement and adventure of space accessible to the public. The experience offered by ZERO-G is the only commercial opportunity on Earth for individuals to experience true "weightlessness" without going to space.

Zero G: How it Works
Aboard our specially modified Boeing 727, G-FORCE ONE, weightlessness is achieved by doing aerobatic maneuvers known as parabolas. Specially trained pilots perform these aerobatic maneuvers which are not simulated in any way. ZERO-G’s passengers experience true weightlessness.

Before starting a parabola, G-FORCE ONE flies level to the horizon at an altitude of 24,000 feet. The pilots then begins to pull up, gradually increasing the angle of the aircraft to about 45° to the horizon reaching an altitude of 34,000 feet. During this pull-up, passengers will feel the pull of 1.8 Gs. Next the plane is “pushed over” to create the zero gravity segment of the parabola. For the next 20-30 seconds everything in the plane is weightless. Next a gentle pull-out is started which allows the flyers to stabilize on the aircraft floor. This maneuver is repeated 12-15 times, each taking about ten miles of airspace to perform.


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