Monday, March 29, 2010

Health Care

The most recent debate in the news has been about health care. Actually, for a while it seemed as if that was all that was in the news. A few days ago, a new plan for health care was passed by the democrats. There is a lot to the bill so I try to pay attention to just the main points. When I read the paper I was astonished to find that 32 million people that did not have health insurance would now have it. I couldn’t believe that that many people didn’t have it in the first place. I am a firm believer that everyone in the country should have heath care whether they want it or not. You may be a healthy person but you never know when you will be in a car accident or if you will be diagnosed with cancer.

When the health care bill was released, a lot of the pharmaceutical companies were against it for fear they would lose money. After all, under the new bill pharmaceutical companies would be required to pay millions more than usual to the government. The government, eager to strike back, explained that the revenue of the pharmaceutical companies would jump far higher than any bills they were forced to pay. This is because far more people, 32 million to be exact, would be able to get the drugs and medication they needed. The pharmaceutical companies would then get paid off by the insurance companies. The insurance companies, in this whole mess, I have found out will pretty much remain neutral. This means they won’t make more money, but at the same time they aren’t expected to lose any either. They also don’t have to worry about insurance run by the government taking them over because there won’t be any governmental insurance.

Another main topic of discussion was the stock market. It was expected that this new heath bill would make the market go down. For some reason this didn’t happen and the stock market actually increased. I don’t understand exactly why but I do know that it is good news. Another note of good news is that not only has the stock market benefited for the time being, the hospitals will also benefit. Emergency rooms treat patients’ everyday that don’t have health insurance. They lose out big time on these patients. With the new health bill these uninsured people would become insured people and would no longer be a problem to the hospitals. The biggest benefit to the new health care bill to me was that I will now be able to use my parents’ health insurance until I’m 26.

Here is a link to the many more benefits of the new health care bill!

Parlor City

Before Spring Break I applied for a job at Parlor City. I was pretty sure that I would get the job since my mom is good friends with the owner but I wasn’t for sure. Luckily, a few days before Spring Break I got a call from my new boss saying I had gotten the job! I was extremely excited, especially since this would be my first job. I didn’t really have any preparation to do, so I just waited for the first day which happened to be the first Sunday of Spring Break. Normally, kids would be bummed that they would have to work over break but since I had just gotten the job, I couldn’t wait to start working.

The first day I showed up in jeans, a t-shirt, tennis shoes and had my hair pulled back. Right away they handed me a t-shirt and welcomed me onto the staff. The first day I worked 5 hours, and it was very overwhelming to say the least. There were so many different ice cream treats you could order, so many different buttons on the cash register. As the day went on I got better, but it was still pretty scary. I had to work at the cash register the whole time because I didn’t know how to make anything yet. I did that for about 2 days and on the 3rd day they taught me how to make cones. You would think starting with a cone would be easy, but I actually think that the cones are the hardest to make. So far, mine look pretty bad but with practice I’m sure I’ll get better.

After the first few days things got a lot better. I began to know the girls that I was working with a little better and I was finally getting the hang of the cash register. I now know how to make just about everything except the specialty items and the coffee coolers. I’m still pretty new so they help me out whenever I need it. In the end, I’m really glad that I got to start my job over Spring Break because it was a lot less stressful for me. I work again tomorrow and I’m a little worried because it’s the first time I’ve had to work on a school night and I won’t have much time for homework. I guess it won’t matter though because it’s not any different than having a cross country meet or a marching band practice take up my whole night. In the end, I couldn’t be happier that I have my first job! Oh yea, and did I mention I get free ice cream?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Czech Republic

A few days ago I volunteered at a chili supper at St. Ludmila’s Church. My aunt is the secretary on the Czech School Board so I usually help out at the events. It also helps me get volunteer hours. Czech school is a nonprofit organization that puts together a school over the summer for children to go to and learn how to speak Czech. When I was younger I went to the school but as I got older I got too busy to continue. The organization is going strong and is even able to support teachers from the Czech Republic to teach the students. Each year about 4 or 5 young adults come from the Czech Republic and live with a family. During their time here, they are supported by the Czech Board and in return they teach the American students how to speak Czech. It helps them establish connections in the United States and gives them time to explore some of the country while expanding their English skills. The teacher I had when I attended the school, Petra, went on to move to the United States permanently and marry an American man.

My family has been involved in the Czech community as long as I can remember. My great grandpa, who died a few years ago, was from the Czechoslovakia. He moved to the United States when he was a little boy in the very beginning of the 1900’s. They moved into a small cute home, that my family still owns today. Before he died, my great grandpa would tell me stories of his childhood in Czechoslovakia. It made me and my family want to stay involved in the Czech community as much as possible. They are a very tight knit group of people; most the eldest generation was either born in Czechoslovakia or are the children of immigrants born there. I think it is a very interesting culture, especially since I know it is mine. Last year my family took a trip to the Czech Republic to visit our relatives that still live there. I couldn’t go because I would have missed over a month of school but I hope to visit my relatives and the country in the future!

Israeli Conflict

The other day in my US history class we had a debate on the situation in Israel. I hadn’t really formed an opinion yet because I honestly didn’t know a thing about it. Apparently, our teacher assumed this was something we knew about. After not having much to say during the debate, I went home and did some research on the topic. The first website I went to was BBC News because they always have an updated article on the situation, even though I have never taken the time to read it before. I watched a video on it and it seemed to be saying that the Israelis were the main source of the violence. The Israel’s can’t physically move the Arabs off of “their” land so they are trying to make life for the Arabs miserable in hopes that they will leave on their own accord. The problem is that the Arabs feel that it is their land just as much as the Israeli’s land. One specific Palestinian man explained that his family has lived on the land as far back as he can remember and that they continue to live there today. He couldn’t imagine picking up and leaving the only home he has ever known, even though he knows that being a Muslim in Israel gets more and more dangerous every day. Muslims living in Israel aren’t even allowed to have many basic rights including the right to vote.

The United States is in a tough position right now because it is not clear who the land should really belong to. The Jewish people had the land centuries ago but in the most recent history, the land belonged to the Arabs. After World War two, when the world felt extreme remorse for the small numbers of Jews that had survived the Holocaust, the United States helped create Israel for the Jewish people. At the time, this seemed like a good idea. It meant that the Jewish people who had lost their family members in the Holocaust could have a home; it was something to keep them together. Anti- Semitism was still very high in some parts of the world and the Jewish people didn’t have anywhere else to go. It was a gift from the world that served as an apology for the Holocaust. Now though, the two religious groups (Muslims versus Jews) are fighting more than ever. They have proven that they can’t live together peacefully and neither of them are about to give up the land they believe was given to them by God.

Long story short, this is where we are at today: the United States wants the Jewish people to remain in control of Israel. Most of the rest of the world, including the United Nations, tends to side with the Arabs. Luckily for Israel though, it has the support of the United States which is far stronger than most of the countries it is up against. The support of the United States is what has allowed Israel to survive for so long. Unfortunately, for the United States, this has come at a high cost. It has led to most Muslim countries hating us. This makes the people of the United States wonder whether we should continue to support the Israeli’s. Even though the United States seems to be siding with the Israeli’s, I don’t necessarily think that it is the best idea. I am somewhat torn between which side to support because my country supports the Israeli’s while my religion has openly supported the Palestinians. I think when coming to a conclusion on which country to support we need to look out for the welfare of not only our country but the world. If we continue to support pushing the Palestinians out we may be asking for more trouble than we are able to handle.

I think that in order to come to a conclusion we need to look at all sides of the conflict. Just looking at the news in the United States is not enough. The news coverage in the United States is very biased towards the Israeli's. Upon watching the following video I realized that the United States doesn't give us the whole story.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Search for the Perfect College

Lately, the pressure has been on to get good ACT and SAT scores and to take the most difficult classes possible senior year. This is all in hopes of getting accepted to the college of your choice. But getting accepted might not be good enough for you; you may also want a scholarship, whether it is academic or athletic. The problem is how do you know what colleges to apply to? How do you know what colleges are right for you, or which ones or out of your range? The truth is, I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I am becoming more knowledgeable on the subject.

The first college I looked into was Drake University. This is a private college in Des Moines. I started out looking on the Drake website. This included a wide variety of information, all the way from the campus life to the athletics at Drake. Drake University is a very prestigious college and is home to the annual Drake Relays. The Drake Relays is basically a huge track meet where runners from all around the United States have come to compete since 1910. Since I am I runner, this is the first thing that always comes to my mind when I think of Drake.

Drake is a private college so it does cost a little bit more than the 3 public universities in Iowa. The tuition comes to a total of $35,090 which includes room and board as well as the technology fee and the student activity fee. There are other various fees that students have to pay depending on what their major will be, as different materials are used. Here is a link to these different fees on the Drake Website.

Drake has about 5,000-6,000 students every year and is considered by most standards to be the 2nd most prestigious college in Iowa with Grinnell coming in 1st. The student to faculty ratio is 14:1 so the class sizes are not large compared to most universities. This allows for a more personal basis between students and their teachers. It also makes it possible for faculty to know students by their name, which is almost unheard of at large universities like Iowa or Iowa State. Drake has over 70 programs of study and allows students to combine majors and even create their own majors. Drake is so appealing to many people because it is a small school with the academic benefits of a large school.

Here is a link to the official Drake Website