In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “On the Way.”
No matter how many plane journeys have passed, looking out the window and being utterly and completely captured by the beauty of the skies is something that never loses its magic. Maybe it’s the Heavenly clouds, or the rainbow of colors, or the sun behind the clouds exuding the perfect glow, the beaming lights of the city below against the dark skies, maybe it’s the thought of defying gravity and nearing the stars, or simply the liberating feeling of being far removed from problems and concerns and being rapt in momentary peace. Whatever it is, this is an “on the way” moment that sure holds my gaze.
“180 Degrees: Tell us about a time you did a 180—changed your views on something, reversed a decision, or acted in a way you ordinarily don’t.”
It was the year 2005. A moody Thursday in a border town located in South Texas. It was late in the afternoon. The clouds have covered the sky, dark and grey. Rain poured down, as though an entire ocean was being drained from above. Thunder rumbled in the sky, so deep and ominous. Brief flickers of lightening created a momentary ray, only to disappear right away.
In a silver Honda Accord, I sat in the back seat, entirely drenched by the rain, and with my backpack clinging on. With the wipers oscillating with such fierce swiftness, my father drove, calmly and slowly.
The road was barely visible, flooded by the heavy waters. With the hazard lights on, and the high beams burning bright, we moved—steady and strong.
Just then, a gray SUV zoomed past, splashing several feet of water on either side. The SUV so recklessly rushed past, on the opposite lane, in a hurry seemingly unneeded with such a monstrous weather. As the SUV shoved past, our car forcibly swayed to the right nearing the edge of the road, almost veering off into the ditch. Although our car trembled, my father, as skilled as he was, kept it on the road and we remained safe. The SUV merged onto our lane, in front of us, and kept the speed haste.
In shock we sat, wondering of what had happened. Unable to understand the irresponsible speed and reckless driving the SUV had displayed. We thought it to be a careless person, without consideration for another life. Surely it must be right, if they drove in such a reckless haste?
At a distance, a frail old woman, half deep in water, walked in a struggle, on the right side of our lane. The rain was pouring heavily upon her; she prodded along, with a hand full of bags, completely drenched. With the waters flooded heavily, her every step must be placed so precisely or she risks falling into the ditch, with the waters hiding the edge.
As we worriedly approached the frail woman closer and closer, the “reckless” SUV ahead, recessed its speed. With the hazard lights on, the SUV came to a complete stop. Its passenger side front door propped open right adjacent the frail woman. What was said between them remains unknown. But a gentle smile came upon the frail woman’s face, as she struggled to climb onto the seat.
As we passed the SUV, our rear-view mirror revealed a beautiful sight. The SUV that was in such a “reckless” rush, picked up the frail woman, and now turned around, driving off in the opposite direction. Seemingly, providing this woman with a ride and relief from the danger that surrounded.
It was a complete paradigm shift. Just moments before, we had thought of this person driving the SUV to be someone who was so inconsiderate of another life. Since, they drove so recklessly in this horrid weather, almost forcing us off to the ditch. But, that image changed completely as the person gave a ride to this frail old woman, driving off in the opposite direction, caring enough to take this woman to safety.
Our view of this person took a complete 180. Till this day, 10 years after, the kindness displayed by providing the old woman with safety is what is revered. It showed me that no one is either good or bad. No one is black or white. We are all but a collective shade, capable of making good choices, capable of showing kindness. I’d like to think that the person who drove the SUV, after almost forcing us off the road, reflected upon his or her haste, perhaps felt it was an unneeded momentary impulse. Perhaps it was one of those moments that changed his or her perspective of life, and forced him or her to slow down, and continue this journey without rush. Perhaps that is what compelled the once-rushing person to halt, offer a ride, and head off in the opposite direction. Or perhaps it’s nothing more than that he or she is simply, human. Capable of polar expressions. Capable of actions beyond reason. Capable of making their own 180s.
Back in September of 2014 I posted a picture of my driveway. It had a large crack in the pavement, with weeds growing from it. I believe this is a good example of “Broken” for this week’s challenge. Please check out, “Life knows no bounds” from last September. Thanks for visiting! All comments are welcomed. Cheers!
Broken, yet a threshold for life.
The image of grass growing between the cracks in the cement pavement of my driveway got me thinking. What does it truly mean to “persist”, to “have tenacity”, to “survive”?
Most of us are used to seeing the image of certain plants protruding from our driveways, and we think, “there goes the smooth pavement!” Our instinct is to reach for a can of “Weed Killer’ and to spray the plants out of existence. Normally, I too would do just that.
But today, it made me ponder of how even a large slab of cement is not a barrier for these plants. How beneath the layers, this one life can penetrate outwards, survive and thrive, making the pavement its own.
It made me realize, how often in life, we tend to be suppressed by boundaries. That too, self imposed, more often than not. How we let ourselves be limited, and refuse to challenge, outgrow, thrive. From the dawn of time, to “persist”, and to “have tenacity” IS to survive. Then why along the way do we sometimes choose to limit ourselves, to settle, to let rejections and “no’s” define us?
If this one plant can break through the hold of a barrier of cement and not only survive but thrive, then we too can break the holds and grow. Why linger on the “no’s” and rejections and negativity behind something not going as we had wished?
We can instead take a leaf from this plant’s book and choose to actively be the one who is in control of our own journey.
Keep persisting, be tenacious, and one day, we too can emerge from our barriers, and survive, nay, thrive, making our life, truly our own.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Zone.”
An instance when I feel i’m in, “The Zone,” is during a run on a beautiful, Texan, summer day. Being kissed by the warmth of the sun, the cool breeze carrying the water from the resaca and brushing against my skin, the smell of freshly blooming jasmine flowers, the gentle gliding of colorful birds, the clear blue skies, the crispness in the air, my favorite songs joyfully filling my ears from the music player, the excited puppies in the yards wagging their tails upon my sight, the movement of my body feeling lighter with each step, the fruity taste upon my lips from my lip balm—makes me feel so in love with the moment. Not realizing I had been running for over two hours, my mind craved to keep going. I felt completely free. I felt completely at peace. It was my zone.
Today is my beloved parents’ 25th Silver Wedding Anniversary!
It’s a special day, and I would like to give them a small tribute through a poem. Through these 25 years, they have met with struggles and successes alike, and through it all, one thing that never changed, is the love they have for each other. After work, when they come back home, without fail, both of them sit together at the breakfast table and share each other’s day. They shared the good, the bad and all the grays that happened that day, while they sipped on a cup of coffee or tea, having no secrets. Nothing makes me happier than to know that, no matter what goes on in the world, or with each other, they have a strong commitment, love and trust in each other. I can honestly say, through all these years, I have never seen two people more in love with the other and two people who are each other’s best friend. I love you both very much, and I thank you deeply for showing me what true love looks like. Wishing you many, many, more wonderful years together.
Cheers, Mom and Dad (Anbu and Edin)!
The Silver Crown
Once upon a time in a land far, far, away,
There lived, Edin, a brave, handsome, young, man.
He worked hard and let nothing get in his way.
With humility, he bowed to God’s plan.
He read books and sought knowledge,
He worked out and became chiseled,
He became an Engineer after college,
He became Mr. Coimbatore and the crowd whistled.
He soared the skies as a fighter pilot,
He charmed the folk with his speech.
For him many a girls formed a riot,
But for a Princess he did beseech.
As his greatest gift, God did create,
Such a Princess, Anbu, who surpassed all other.
Although she grew up on a golden plate,
She was down to Earth like no other.
Her beauty was soft and delicate,
Her heart, pure and just.
Her speech was kind and eloquent,
She captured with her angel dust.
For knowledge she did thirst,
After college, as a teacher she did serve.
In everything she did, she became versed.
Her love was something to preserve.
Upon seeing this fair Princess,
Our Edin became spell bound.
For her hand he sought fearless,
As he knew he has found something profound.
Surrounded by family and friends,
They became Husband and Wife.
In tying the knot they donned a new lens.
To journey together, in this walk of life.
Through the time, the tears were few,
The laughter abound,
They went to three from two.
Their life became a joyful parade ground.
Through struggles and triumphs,
They remained together,
They knew their love will overcome all trials.
They couldn’t go a day without the other.
Twenty five glorious years has passed,
Reaching this milestone is not slight.
Their bond has proven to last,
And it shines strong and bright.
Their love has made the kingdom glow,
Their commitment, sacrifice, and care too,
And this day the Heavens bestow,
A Silver Crown, which is rightfully due.
With great happiness we all exult,
To wish this couple a journey sustained.
In another twenty five years we will exalt,
This stellar couple with a Golden Crown, proclaimed.
The 2014 general election taking place in India to constitute the 16th Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian Parliament), with a whopping current electoral population of 814.5 million, largest in the world, according to the Election Commission of India, really got me to reflect about my Indian heritage and my American growth.
Being an Indian born American citizen living in the United States for over seventeen years, I find myself in a unique cross-roads- balancing Indian values and seizing the opportunity behind the American freedom, while embracing India’s global leadership simultaneously.
In the usual norm where being a minority may not serve as the most prestigious title, being an Indian minority in the United States of America not only serves as a catalyst for success but also a recipe for strong grounding.
India is currently tantalizing the world in many dimensions- a worthy contender in sports, politics, science, education, commerce and innovation. Having an Indian identity is quite an honor- where people’s expectations of you become high and demanding. While India is climbing the global stairway ardently, it gets me to think how I, as an Indian American, will contribute to the Indian global recognition while adding an American flavor.
India has its historical richness, with its successes in politics, business, arts, religions, economic prosperity; despite Indian challenges on population excesses, diversity of thinking and multi cultural aspirations. India shines because of the fundamentals of cultural greatness which lie in Indian morality and discipline—seen through acts of non violence, tolerance, piety, religious outlook, belief in karma, aspirations for success and respect for the elders. Indian success lasts because of the strong familial connection and commitment of the elders to youth and their achievement. While India has its already strong moral backbone, it concurrently seeks globalization with an ever-prepared attitude for growth in emerging fields and a quest to mimic western cultural greatness, and this balance propelled India for victory in the new era.
As an Indian American, I assume moral responsibility of bringing balance to Indian thinking and aspirations. For that, my task at hand is to connect American societies- change perspective on India, and connect Indians through the self confidence to believing in themselves and cashing on old principles and glories. The key philosophy is to think global but act locally, and this thinking should be brought to India.
For that, immediate solutions should be to apply foreign successes to Indian problems such as over population, environment awareness, self discipline, hygiene, and lack of sensitivity to other cultures. We should help break the stereotypical actions which falsely lead us Indians to close our eyes and follow- where the American way is to embrace the odds and follow our dreams. Fusing American dreams with Indian aspirations will free us from limiting and containing ourselves to certain professions and industries.
As Indians, we have the duty and moral obligation to play an active role in fighting child labor, anti-women growth, child abduction, women abuse and many such ill occurrences. We should resist the goal towards material wealth possession instead gather wealth in harmonious living compatible with nature- which include less consumption, organic farming, water harvest/recycling etc. It’s important for us to resist the love for affluence and consumption, and rather grow love in reaching out and bring balance to this world. We can actively help develop responsible citizens, through partnership and collaboration in higher education, and bring a stepping stone to our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world.
To bring my words to action, and walk the talk, I for my part, will be committing myself to the rural and semi-urban development by engaging in civic engagement activities. Rural and semi-urban healthcare issues- especially women and childcare health are under peril- and are indirectly impeding the growth of the Indian national economy because India still depends on the rural development. For that, I wish to be an activist. Just as America is actively democratizing the world by putting boots on the ground, synonymously, we must make the commitment to become the foot-soldiers. In my case, as a pre-health professional, I must become a foot soldier, step into the heart of India, and make first hand change in healthcare opportunities. We want stethoscopes and gloves on every rural hut, we must attend to every man, woman or child in need of our service. We should share the joy and pain that every human feels and actively shape the well-being of our world.
We are the privileged ones, we have tasted of our success, and now it’s time to break the barrier and give back to the community and the only effective way is to spend at least 10% of our professional time and help the rural population. We must not just visit the urban elite, but step deeper in and aid the rural commoner—where the heart of India lies.
Although I as an Indian American have been raised in America, I still share an Indian lineage and the welfare and growth of India should equally be my concern as is America’s welfare and growth. In that thinking, we as Indian Americans get a unique gift to spread America’s freedom to dream and innovate to our India and its aspirations.
I have dreamed of the day where the entire world is fed, clothed, cared for and is healthy- and now I will make my first step in making that dream a reality. Who is with me?
After all, we are one world; not all that separated.
According to the White House, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed during a time of great growth in spending on health care in the United States; while majority of that spending was towards new treatments and improvement in overall well being and health, the system also was affected by disorganization, and high costs and the declining quality of care for patients (1). The White House states, “a key goal of the ACA was to begin wringing these inefficiencies out of the health care system, simultaneously reducing the growth of health care spending—and its burden on families, employers, and state and federal budgets—while increasing the quality of the care delivered (1).”
While the White House document suggests that 1) spending on health care is at an all time low, 2) inflation in the price of health care is low, 3) and the low spending on health care recently has benefited the Federal budget future outlook, it is still unclear if the ACA is directly responsible for the decrease in spending on growth (1). Although enough evidence is not yet present to correlate this spending decline to the ACA, one of the evidences out of a few that could credit this spending decline to the ACA is that: “ACA provisions that reduce Medicare over payment to private insurers and medical providers are contributing to the recent slow growth in health care prices and spending. In addition, ACA reforms that aim to improve the quality of care are reducing hospital readmission rates and increasing provider participation in payment models designed to promote high-quality, integrated care (1).”
In my opinion, I believe that the ACA played a significant role in the decline of health care spending. The ACA collectively addressed many of the weakness that affected our health care system, and is currently working to fix those gaps. As in any large problem, it takes time to fully address the issue, fix the problems and sustain the success. More research and time would be needed to evaluate ACA’s true role in the deceleration of health care spending in the U.S., and it is definitely something I would be interested in knowing. Accordingly, I do believe the claim held by some administration officials that the ACA is responsible for the recent deceleration in the health care spending growth is justified, as explained above.
Howdy readers! I have a special treat for you all today. I had the pleasure of interviewing a young, professional, Tennis star, who has aced his 14 year tennis career- pun intended.
Mr. Ashwin Vijayaragavan is a 24 year old, U.S. Business school graduate and a professional tennis player who represented India in the 2013 Davis Cup, The World Cup of Tennis. In 2013, he held an Indian National Rank of No. 13 and an International Tennis Federation (ITF) rank of No. 810, which is no easy feat! Incidentally, he is the son of Mr. T. Vijayaragavan, who was the Captain of the Indian National Basketball team in the 1970s. Mr. T. Vijayaragavan won the prestigious Arjuna award in 1978 for his extraordinary contribution in basketball, with only 16 other awardees in total who have also earned this meritorious award in basketball. The super-genes certainly run in the family! In the competitive world of sports; brains, sweat, muscle, and an ounce of luck serve as key ingredients in the formula of success. The Vijayaragavans certainly have mastered the recipe. Here’s what our young, Tennis star has to say about his life, tennis and his journey:
Surely, Sherley: Mr. Ashwin V., how long have you been playing tennis?
Ashwin: “I started tennis at the age of 10, but quit in between to play cricket till the age of 12. Then I went back to Tennis, which ended up being my first love.”
Surely, Sherley: What first inspired you to start up tennis?
Ashwin: “I always went along with my brother to watch tennis, there was something about the game which interested me, and so I just decided to hold a racquet one day and never wanted to put it down. I still have it in my hand,” he grins, pulling out his racquet.
Surely, Sherley: When did you realize you wanted to pursue tennis competitively?
Ashwin: “It was when I was finishing my under 14’s division. I was No.1 in the country [India] already, in the under 14 ‘s division, but I really didn’t think I had in me. Then, my parents saw my potential before I did, and they nudged me to go one more step. So that’s where it started and I started enjoying it and loved every challenge that was put in front of me.”
Surely, Sherley: What is on your mind when you are on the court during a match?
Ashwin: “Many things. First thing that comes in mind is how to play with a particular opponent. Sometimes negative thoughts do come but I listen to music for a while and get it out of my head. Then on court it’s basically how I deal with each situation. I keep telling myself to stay calm and positive even If it’s the worst day of my life.”
Surely, Sherley: How do you prepare in terms of training for any particular match?
Ashwin: “If I am going to compete, say in 2 weeks, I make sure I get in a lot of match play which keeps me sharp. And physically, I try to do a lot of sprints and keep my legs moving.”
Surely, Sherley: Tell me about your experience being a part of the Davis Cup team, representing India, internationally.
Ashwin: “It was an amazing experience. I was sitting in front of my computer when I got a call from the federation, they said, ‘Hey Ashwin, you available for the Davis cup tie?’ I was blank for a second and I said, ‘Yes!’ Then I ran to parents, who were in the other room, and told them about it. They were all extremely excited and then it was announced on TV. It was an amazing feeling. Then when I went for the training, the treatment I got and the respect every Davis cupper got was just unbelievable. I got to interact with my childhood favorite, Mr. Leander Paes, and it was something very special.”
Surely, Sherley: Have you worked with any Tennis legends?
Ashwin: “I haven’t worked with any, but during the Davis Cup tie, I got to interact with greats like Mr. Amritraj and Mr. Akthar Ali. And, of course, Mr. Leander Paes.”
Surely, Sherley: Have you trained with any Tennis legends?
Ashwin: “I trained with Mr. Novak Djokovic in Los Angles, U.S.A. couple years back. It was unreal; it clearly showed how much I needed to work to reach even close to his level.”
Surely, Sherley: How many matches have you played since you first started tennis?
Ashwin: “Well I cannot remember the number exactly but easily around 500 matches or more!”
Surely, Sherley: As a professional Tennis player, you must be travelling quite a lot. What countries have you traveled to for matches?
Ashwin: “I have been around Asia like Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, and in Europe I have been to Spain. And, in the Americas, United States, of course.”
Surely, Sherley: What countries have you traveled to for training?
Ashwin: “Mainly Spain.”
Surely, Sherley: What is your greatest strength in tennis on the court?
Ashwin: “My quickness on court and my forehand. Plus my ability to stay in the point longer play to my strengths.”
Surely, Sherley: What do you feel you need to improve, in regards to your game?
Ashwin: “I need to have a specialized play, which can make me win points more easily.”
Surely, Sherley: What are your Tennis dreams?
Ashwin: “My first major dream was to be part of the Davis cup team, and I’m very happy I was able to attain that.”
Surely, Sherley: Who is your favorite Tennis player?
Ashwin: “Roger Federer. His game is just great to watch and the feat he has achieved I don’t think is easy to match.”
Surely, Sherley: What is your current education? And, what do you plan on pursing professionally?
Ashwin: “I have graduated with a finance degree (BBA), from the University of Texas Pan American. My plan is to get my MBA and then, start a tennis academy which has been my lifelong dream as I want to give something back to the game, “ he says with a smile.
Surely, Sherley: How has Tennis affected you and your life?
Ashwin: “It has made me a different person. It has taught me to handle pressure, as the pressure we face is not a joke. It has taught me that mainly, and I am a person who knows how to handle pressure now, due to its influence.”
Surely, Sherley: How has having an Indian Basketball legend as your father inspired you personally and professionally?
Ashwin: “It’s a blessing in disguise, as you get to learn a lot from his achievements and he has always told me never to go after result, just believe in perfection and success will follow you.”
Surely, Sherley: What would you like to say to your fans? And to the aspiring Tennis generation?
Ashwin: “Thanks for being there for me and believing in me when the going got tough. It’s not easy to fight a battle alone on court. I think all your prayers and blessing are the reason where I am today. To the youngsters out there, don’t give up when the going gets tough. Belief is what takes you through the distance. Enjoy what you do, if you don’t enjoy, don’t try to enjoy it. Do what you think is right.”
Surely, Sherley: What do you think are important tips to consider when starting up Tennis professionally?
Ashwin: “There are many things, you need to be clear what you want, this is a game for those who want to sacrifice a lot of things. If they are willing to do that, then they are on the right track, then there is the training part. Always try to look for an academy which will provide you with the best training.”
Surely, Sherley: Thanks, Mr. Ashwin for sharing with us your Tennis experiences, we as fans would like to know about your non-Tennis pursuits as well. What are your hobbies?
Ashwin: “I enjoy reading books, writing, watching movies, spending time with family and friends.”
Surely, Sherley: Tell me about your interest in writing. What are your dreams in that regard?
Ashwin: I have always liked writing, and I started writing a blog which talks about the daily happenings around the world and some interesting stories I’ve written. I especially liked crime stories, since I was a child, so I have started writing crime stories. I recently wrote three stories. I have entered one for a competition. Hope people get to read it. It’s called, ‘Case of a stolen sword.’ Hopefully I can write a book in the future.”
Surely, Sherley: That’s fantastic, what are you current projects?
Ashwin: “As I had mentioned, my short story, “Case of a Stolen Sword,’ was my recent story. It’s a story where a young man who wants to make a mark in the media world tries to help the cops in solving a case. It’s posted on Tallenge.com. It’s been published for the competition where the voting closes in 9 days. Hopefully the readers will like my story, ” he says humbly.
Surely, Sherley: Would you tell me about your blog?
Ashwin: “It’s about the day to day happenings and about the recent elections followed by the IPL, some parts I find to be interesting. You can follow me on wordpress.com, name is changetheworld2014.”
Well, thank you Mr. Ashwin Vijayaragavan for this interesting, and pleasurable interview! Wishing you all the best in your Tennis, Business, and writing careers! It was an absolute treat interviewing you today.
Dear readers, thank you for the read, and be sure to check out Mr. Ashwin Vijayaragavan’s short story here, which currently holds the No. 1 rank in the world at Tallenge.com. Be sure to cast your vote for this young Star.
In a health policy and management class that I took earlier, we were asked to read, “Major Component and Themes of local public Health Laws in Select U.S. Jurisdictions,” by McCarty, et al. Found here.
After reading, “Major Component and Themes of local public Health Laws in Select U.S. Jurisdictions,” by McCarty, et al, I’m overcome by a mixed, bitter-sweet, reaction regarding the variation in approaches to public health administration and enforcement at the local level in the U.S (1). While I find it a celebration that local jurisdictions address community health with their unique ordinances that are catered to fit their particular community, I find it an alarm that there seems to be a lack of uniform application throughout the U.S. with certain best, evaluated regulations/ordinances.
An example that caused my alarm is local public health laws concerning the regulation of food. I believe, the regulation of food should be carefully thought, and carried out, addressing the nuances that accompany the complexity that follows it. In the study, the municipalities that were observed to have ordinances that regulate the category of food were grouped into five subcategories, namely: “(1) food handlers and distribution; (2) mobile food units; (3) restaurant licensing, inspections, and sanitation; (4) milk; and (5) meat(1).” There was great dissimilarity among the various ordinances on how many of those five subcategories each addressed. It would be beneficial if the ordinances across jurisdictions would adhere to a “Guidelines-Manual”, for example, and sync their individual jurisdictions accordingly, which would allow the entirety of the population to benefit from the same quality experienced through the best jurisdiction’s ordinance.
Aside from one such example of my cause for alarm, I do believe the diversity and specific catering of ordinances across jurisdictions to their community is something to be celebrated. Being Americans, we pride ourselves in our diversity, thriving way of living with various cultures, and by the uniqueness and individuality that accompanies each state, city, county, and community. What better way to address our unique needs and philosophical reflection than with ordinances that show great flexibility and such individualized attention?
I am not sure which is better, complete synchrony or absolute variation, and perhaps it changes across situations, but with public health, it may be beneficial to strike a balance between the two, to reflect the individuals that we are but at the same time have a universal quality.
1. McCarty, et al. “Law and the Public’s Health.” Public Health Reports. 2009. 124: 458-462.
City ordinances are an excellent way that U.S. cities vision for and address important issues- whether it’s a health issue, safety issue, welfare issue or an issue of morality. The type of ordinances that caught my eye in regard to public health was- public smoking ordinances. Public smoking, other than the discomfort it causes for some, and the overall unpleasant odor and air, is a significant public issue due to its link with secondhand smoke, or SHS.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines secondhand smoke as, “a mixture of the smoke given by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, and the smoke exhaled by smokers (1).” The United States EPA goes on to state that, “secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and exposure to secondhand smoke is sometimes called involuntary or passive smoking. Second hand smoke contains more [than] 4,000 substances, several of which are known to cause cancer in humans or animals (1).” What makes this a starking public health issue is that the, “exposure to second hand smoke can cause lung cancer in adults who do not smoke,” states the EPA and the, “exposure to secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year in nonsmokers … and exposure to secondhand smoke has also been shown in a number of studies to increase the risk of heart disease (1).”
The two cities in Texas that I sought interest in that demonstrated an ordinance against public smoking are, Austin, Texas and Brownsville, Texas:
The city of Austin addresses public smoking in its Code of Ordinances, Title 10., Public Health Services and Sanitation under Chapter 10-6., Smoking in Public Places (Ord. 20050303-05). This particular ordinance regulates public smoking by prohibiting smoking “in public place or in a park; in an enclosed area in a building or facility owned, leased or operated by the City; in an enclosed area of a workspace; within 15 feet from an entrance or openable window of an enclosed area in which smoking is prohibited; and if the owner or operator of a public place commits an offense if the person fails to take necessary steps to prevent or stop another person from smoking in an enclosed area in a public place (2).” The exceptions to this ordinance currently are, “residential dwelling units, 25% or less of guest rooms in Hotels/Motels, Retail Tobacco Stores, private semi-private room in nursing homes, outdoor areas of workplaces (> 15ft from entrance/openable windows), Bingo Facilities, and Fraternal organizations (2).”
The city of Brownsville addresses public smoking in its Ordinance Enforcement code, particularly the Smoking Ordinance 2012-1556. Taken into effect on February 2, 2013, the smoking ordinance 2012-1556 prohibits smoking, “in all enclosed public places within the City of Brownsville, including enclosed places of employment, enclosed residential facilities, and certain outdoor areas outlined … [in] the ordinance,” according to The City of Brownsville webpage (3).
The ordinances of both the cities are similar except in Brownsville’s prohibition of smoking in, “all private and semi-private rooms in nursing homes, [and] at least 80% of hotel and motel rooms that are rented to guests,” whereas, Austin declares those two as an exception (3).
Over all, these two cities show great concern for public health in their initiation of these ordinances, and it would be great to see many other cities, not only those of the U.S, but those of the world at large, follow in their footsteps.
In 2012, only 67.5 percent of Texas children obtained all seven vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (1). The remaining one-third of Texas children are exposed to dangerous diseases that are vaccine-preventable. According to The Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS), there were 2,652cases of whooping cough alone in 2013, just one of many vaccine-preventable diseases, expected to rise (2). Texas fails in comparison with other states in its children receiving the full set of vaccinations (1). Why? While nearly all states provide exemptions of immunizations for medical and religious reasons, only 20 states, including Texas, provide exemptions for philosophical reasons, and not surprisingly, these are the states that show highest outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases (3). With a large population of children exposed to preventable diseases we must adapt our philosophy to see the importance of vaccination and we mustvaccinate.
TDSHS states that philosophical exemptions have increased yearly since allowed in 2003, increasing unvaccinated individuals, therefore increasing the risk of an outbreak when a vaccine-preventable disease enters the population (4). With over thirty percent of Texan children not vaccinated—these children are dangerously exposed, especially with the rise in recent outbreaks (4).
The outbreak of diseases that could have been prevented with vaccination has children across the State exposed. Certainly no parent wants their child suffering, then why is it that over thirty percent of Texan parents decline to vaccinate? Some parents have a misconception that vaccines cause diseases such as autism but that claim is false, as justified in much scientific research and supported by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the CDC (5, 6).
Why should we vaccinate? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 1) we need vaccinations to protect our children from preventable diseases, which still exist even if we haven’t seen a case recently credited to the effectiveness of the vaccination; 2) although the disease polio is removed from the U.S, it would take only ONE case from another part of the world to bring it back to the U.S if we are not vaccinated; 3) about 95 percent of the population must be vaccinated if we want for vaccines to protect everyone; and 4) we get greater complications and pain from the disease than from the vaccination, so it is much safer to have the vaccination (7).
“An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure.” Accordingly, organizations are working to increase vaccination in Texas and fix this dangerous public health problem. TDSHS’ Division of Disease Control and Prevention Services began a statewide effort to increase vaccine coverage levels to protect children (4). This effort will hopefully increase the number of vaccinated children and save them from a vaccine-preventable disease. However, the health of our children rests in our hands and our decisions. Effort from external sources will not protect our children, unless we increase our knowledge, adapt our personal philosophy and choose to vaccinate.
Because we care, we want to vaccinate our children and join the effort of a healthy, immunized Texas, but how? There are simple steps that we can take to be a part of the change:
We must speak to our Physician—by speaking with a professional we can know that: vaccines are important, safe, effective, getting several shots at one time is OK, on-time vaccination is important and that the physicians “cannot use a vaccine unless the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it as safe and effective (8).” Therefore, any vaccination given to your child by the physician is safe and in the best interest of the child.
We must speak up—a fast way to raise awareness is through word-of-mouth. While many parents are aware of the truth behind vaccinations and their benefits stay silent, there still circulates false information about vaccination leading to thirty percent of our children being exposed to dangerous possibly fatal diseases (8). Start talking! Start Vaccinating! Start saving lives!
We must make the right choice—vaccination is beneficial. Drastic increase in children being exposed to vaccine preventable diseased occurred after 2003, due to exemptions based on medical, religious and philosophical reasons (8,9). Vaccination is a powerful public health tool against diseases (8). Choose wisely, and vaccinate.
Over 2.4 million of Texas children are not vaccinated—exposing them to any one of many vaccine-preventable diseases (10). What are we waiting for? Let’s Increase our knowledge. Adapt our philosophy. Protect our Children. Vaccinate.
According to Time magazine, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) approached a major public health problem that India faces, defecation in public, with a focused campaign (1). This campaign, in the form of videos, public announcements, and online games is designed to target the serious issue of over 620 million people defecating in public (1). This informal yet catchy campaign “Poo2Loo” aims to raise awareness of preventable health issues resulting from microbial contamination of drinking water from improper waste disposal- in the form of public defecation (1). UNICEF’s Poo2Loo campaign, although relaxed, has instigated India to think about the negative effects behind public defecation.
It is unclear if the targeted 620 million individuals in practice of public defecation will have access to televisions, computers, and the internet to be aware of this campaign, let alone understand its implications. But perhaps a combination of UNICEF’s campaign along with Indian government sanctioned public announcements, and designs for waste management systems and implementation would result in an effective solution toward the problem.
While I agree that awareness campaigns designed to encourage individuals to use a proper waste disposal facility is a start, I think the lack of community-wide public waste systems and access to toilets is also something that needs to be addressed.
I hope the campaign instills in the targeted population, India’s community leaders, and the general population that if the prevalent habit of public defecation continues then the exposure to infectious, life-threatening diseases will continue to be upon the population.
It is a responsibility carried not only by the individual but by the Indian government, so here’s to hoping this campaign prompts for a change toward the good. “Take the Poo to the Loo!“
What is it about the carnival that is so innately alluring to children and adults, alike?
Every so often the booming noises emanating from the bustling streets fade, and is replaced by the gleeful music of the touring carnival. The lure of the colorful stalls filled with games and plush toys; the heavenly temptation of sugary, deep-fried, meaty treats; the vivid call of adrenaline pumping thrill-rides; and the feeling of community and togetherness, all, budding from this one, universal celebration- the carnival.
Like a bug to a light, we are drawn to the flickering, beaming, luminescence displayed by the carnival. The dazzling ambiance turns even the most sophisticated of individuals into a child again. We emerge again, with a childlike innocence, eager to coalesce with the crowd and be rapt in the wonders that we out-grew long ago.
The carnival reveals to us, the innocence we have at heart, the thrills and unity we so seek. Unlike, the regular world, which is filled with a repetition of mundane tasks and responsibility. Bound by the strings of age, we float in stillness, and one visit to the carnival severs the strings and let’s us fly.
We fly high and far, to reach out and touch the stars, just as joyfully as would a child, lost in reverie.
Perhaps it is time again, for us to seek the next carnival, to rejuvenate our souls, in this fountain of youth.