All posts by erintrapp

6-year-old Committing Sexual Harassment?

CNN Article on 6-year-old suspended
A 6-year-old in Colorado Springs, CO is accused of kissing a classmates hand and is suspended. Not only is the child suspended, but the school is accusing him of sexual harassment?
I was sitting in my car dealerships office when I heard the report. I could not believe what I was hearing. I have to admit that I actually laughed. He kissed a girl on the hand? Big deal! The best part about it- my not-so-politically-correct car salesman said, “I hope he went for an older girl!”
Well, now that this has made national news, the outrage has begun. I agree with the mother of the child, “This is taking it to an extreme that doesn’t need to be met with a 6-year-old.” Children are usually pretty expressive with their thoughts and feelings at that age and a kiss on the hand 20 years ago would be considered chivalry.
The child in the past has had some behavioral issues. Do these play into this punishment from the school? The punishment should really be coming from the parents and without knowing the girls parent’s point of view, an accusation of such should not be imposed.

Restaurants and Stores Invading the Supermarkets

The new trend in fast food  and the service industry today is to offer their own products in Supermarkets. It is hard to walk down an isle without seeing the Taco Bell meal kit, the Rudolph’s Coleslaw dressing, or the Starbucks ground coffee on the shelf. Is it worth buying these products and do you get the same taste? Well, of course this Is going to be a case by case basis!

As far as the fast food chains are concerned, consumer packaged goods, according to restaurantbriefing.com, “can help promote and extend a restaurant’s brand, and be a source of incremental revenue.”

Now… let’ click the link to view what the taste testers!

Two Time Zones and no DST for the US?

Since 1883, the United States has followed a time system that involved 4 time zones. To top that off, consider the challenges that Daylight Savings Time (DST) poses. With gaining an hour of time for DST this evening, I thought I would do some investigation on what other ideas there were as to the structure of times zones.

As far as DST, I am against changing the clocks at all. Why mess with time? Not only do you lose an hour and a good nights sleep in the spring but, even thought a majority of the country changes clocks, there are a few rare cases (such as a few counties in Indiana and most of Arizona) that are except from the change. On the other hand regarding time zones, I feel that there are definite challenges having 4 different zones in one country.

Economist Allison Allison Schrager has argued that having the four time zones is not realistic. She promotes the idea of only two time zones and not following DST. With only two times zones, an article she has written supporting this change provides benefits such as – no jet lag when flying from one side of the country to the other and businesses would function better (there would be less of a time constraint).

I think because of the 4 time zones there is too much effort spend trying to accommodate all areas of the country. Personally, I work for a company that has business needs in multiple times zones. One example would be the Eastern Time Zone (EST) that is one hour ahead of our location. For what might be a normal beginning meeting time of 4 p.m. to workers in Central Standard time, is now a 5 p.m. meeting for a counterpart in Atlanta, GA and can hinder time with family, or make dinner times later. Additional examples would be when you think of broadcasting times and how television stations schedule to get the most people to watch an episode of a Primetime television show.

As for eliminating DST, I would argue that this would do away with the need to have the accuracy of auto programming devises for DST and also devices that are programmed by satellite that change would no long need the change would make for a more stable environment.

Just for the sake of argument, I have saved this blog as a draft and my plan is to post this blog at 2am, when the change tonight is supposed to occur to see how the internet timing is reflected.

A Mother Against Social Media

In today’s world it is important to keep children in touch with technology. Just this year, my niece and nephew brought home iPads and are expected to read and do homework on a daily basis from a screen rather than a book. They even have assignments where they have to research on the internet work on interactive calendars and assignments. These assignments are made possible because of the enhancement of the internet to Web 2.0 and introduce the interaction and collaboration that also enhance social media.

In a post where a mother feels that Facebook is overtaking her daughter’s life and that she has lost all of her friends.  Does she know what her child does while at school and how much they interact there? How about being on Facebook and talking to her friends through chat or messaging? Just because they are not together does not mean that she does not have friends or is not conversing with them on their Facebook walls?

Social Media can positively impact a child’s mental growth. Research by Pediatrics and an article, point out that there are benefits such as collaborating on projects, staying connected with others, and contributing to charity work that is done by children and teenagers that use social media.

I understand that some mothers feel that their children spend far too much time on social media such as Facebook or Twitter but when the World Wide Web introduced version 2.0, it expanded the market to include far more interaction between users of any age.  Instead of placing blame that Facebook is ruining a childs life, embrace the fact that this is part of a childs development in today’s world. With email, blogs, Facebook, and all of the other types of online communication possible, children should be able to participate. I am not saying that it needs to overtake their lives or that children should be vulnerable to information that is not age appropriate, but it is enviable that children will need to use social media. There is even a show on television show on the Disney network, entitled Dog with a Blog, where a family dog writes daily about family values in his own blog following each episode. Not all social media is bad and because someone uses social media it does not mean that their lives are ruined. Instead, if this mother could understand the benefits it might enlighten her …. Ironically, this mother turned to the web to post her concerns, why shouldn’t her own daughter?

“Wanna go to India?”

In April of 2013, I was asked “Wanna go to India?” Now, I can imagine what is rolling through some of your minds right now… Some of you are thinking,

  • What is in India?
  • What would you eat?
  • It is dirty!
  • For how long?

While others of you are thinking,

  • What a great opportunity!
  • Great food!
  • So much to see!
  • The cultural experience would be awesome!

Well, trust me, when I was asked to go, I thought all of those things myself. 

My initial reaction was that I was a student and I had heard that internet accessibility was not the greatest, and remembered that I am not a fan of Indian cuisine… and how would native people react to me being in India?

I have a lot of friends that I consider world travelers and have visited so many places and experienced so many cultures but I had not yet had the opportunity to do so. They were telling me about all of the things I would need to bring – nets for sleeping, gallons of bug spray, small packages of American snacks —  in preparation.  Which honestly, made me a little more worried to go!Not to mention the scary names on the shots I would have to get at the travel clinic.

Working things out with school, I went. The travel was long (about 24 hours was the shortest route I could find). On the packed fights, were interesting people to chat with and hear their travel plans. Upon arriving to Bangalore, the airport was full of chaos- long security lines, few people that spoke English, security guards with machine guns, and the list goes on…

The travel to the hostile that I stayed in was a bit depressing. A late night drive through downtown where people were sleeping on cardboard boxes and had a few branches nuzzled together for a pillow, people begging at the car doors without fingers, stores that looked tattered and dirty with the dust that was picking up and blowing from the streets.  This was reality for the days to come.

I stayed in Bangalore to two weeks. Much to my dismay, I loved every little bit- congestion, traffic and horns, seeing how others live. I went, I tasted some amazing food, and I met a whole new network of peers and friends. Even though this is the actuality of Bangalore and there were some pretty disheartening things that I experienced, there were some very beautiful parts of my trip. I got to see temples, become associated with the game of Cricket, went to some authentic stores (even though the population there really enjoys their American stores in the Malls), and even food that I could not live without and everyone should try (Masala Dosa)!

Masala Dosa
Masala Dosa

I encourage anyone who has the opportunity, whether for work or play, to travel to India. It is a fascinating place to explore. As we have all heard before, “the world is your oyster”. Make the most of what we are give and experience all that you can. Whether you are five or fifty years old, you should take the time to explore. I took the time to be mesmerized by my findings while I was in India and I think you would be fascinated as well. This is just the just the beginning of my adventures to come and this has only got me started.

Food distribution
Food distribution

New FriendsIndia Part One 059

Health Insurance and the State Exchange

In only a few days, MNsure will be unveiling the new health plans policies on it’s exchange site. You might ask, “what is in it for me?” and “what penalties can be applied”? For those of you who have not followed Obamacare (also known as Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act), here are some key points.

Timeline

In March of 2010 the ACA (Affordable Care Act) was signed. This policy would eliminate pre-existing condition exclusion for children, lifetime healthcare limits. cap annual limits, establish consumer assistance programs, provide small businesses health insurance tax credits, and provide free preventative healthcare services. Some of these changes have been phased into current policies already. In the upcoming week, we will also see a large component of reform made public. Even individuals with insurance through a group employer will have access to the health plans policies that are participating in the state exchange at the tip of our fingers.

Enrollment

The Exchange (for people who reside in Minnesota is MNsure) will be a website to support the virtual market place for two markets: individual medical policies (that meet ACA guidelines) and small group policies. These policies will be available to consumers to view on Sept 6th and the enrollment period will begin October 1st and continue through March 31st 2014. What was once a personal relationship between the insurance purchaser and an insurance company will now become an electronic enrollment file that, through the state, will be sent to an insurance company of choice.

For those individuals who may not be as savvy to the web to enroll on their own, good news! Insurance Agents are still able to assist in enrollment of these policies. By visiting agents, they will help in the completion of online enrollment and provide detailed explanations of all policies on the exchange.

Benefits of ACA and Reform

To date, ACA and Health care reform discussions have centered on slowing healthcare costs escalations, providing health coverage for 47 million uninsured Americans, and reducing medical errors. What role to we play in making this successful? The success of many of these aims depend on individuals making behavior changes – becoming more accountable for their own health, more engaged in the process, and more knowledgeable about costs of their choices.

How many people shop for providers like they shop for cars? When you shop for a car, you compare prices and most likely check it’s actual value on Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds. Do you do the same for services that you have performed at a clinic or hospital? What happens when we see a physician that charges 3 times the average rate for a service? Well, that will impact insurance costs. When healthcare companies negotiate with providers, they consider averages (cost, location of services being performed, etc.). This, eventually, will bring payment for services up and will in turn make premiums higher. Something to think about when we see a doctor.

From 1999 to 2009, insurance premium costs increased 131%. The chart below illustrates in the same period, in comparison, how salaries and inflation rose.

Image

Source

Penalties to Know About

Americans without health insurance in any month beginning in 2014 will be penalized when filing income taxes if they do not qualify for a government subsidy. For those that do not meet the subsidy guidelines, there will be a flat-dollar amount or a percentage of income, whichever is greater. For cost estimations, calculators  have been set set. Click here, to find out how much you might have to pay! 

Questions to Ask

  • Have I done my research on plans available?
  • Will I be effected or do I qualify for a subsidy?
  • How can I keep healthcare down?

In conclusion, being aware of your healthcare costs, searching available options for health insurance, and knowing about potential penalties, can help to keep your own (and Americas) healthcare costs down. How will you help to keep these costs down?