Wednesday, August 6, 2014

No On 46: A Threat to my Privacy

A while back, I was asked to like a Facebook page, No On 46. Being that I live in California, I figured some friends of mine felt it might apply to me and thought I might be interested in what the Political Organization behind this page had to say.  Not one to blindly follow, I began some research.  

Of course, it was easy to find the “No On 46” info because it was connected to their Facebook Page. If you go to NoOn46.com, you can easily navigate their site to “Get the Facts,” see what’s “In the News,” and find ways to “Take Action.”

My eyes were drawn immediately to “Threats to Personal Privacy,” which can be found here, under Get the Facts. Being that I work in high tech, I am constantly questioning how my use of tech devices, social media, and cellular technology impacts my right to privacy...it's often a question that our customers ask and so it is an answer that I grapple with daily.

I wanted to begin with a fair investigation. So, instead of presenting the information I found on No On 46's website, I will share the info I have discovered on the State of California's Department of Justice website (here):
The Department of Justice (DOJ) limits access and dissemination of this information to licensed prescribers, licensed pharmacists, law enforcement personnel, and regulatory board personnel strictly for patient care or official investigatory/regulatory purposes.
This sounds great, right? It even goes on to say, hey, we have to follow HIPPA regulations. However, a deeper dive into Lewis v The Superior Court of the State of California, we can see that, we, as patients, 
...do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their prescription records vis-a-vis the Board's limited data in CURES, and such access does not amount to conduct constituting a serious invasion of privacy...
AND
the government may see and use information covered by the right to privacy if it can show that its use of the information would advance a legitimate state interest... [use of bold is mine]

So what does this mean? The CURES database even as it exists today does not protect our information from being used by the Department of Justice or any branch of the government for that matter despite our assumption that our medical information is protected by HIPPA.

We have a diminished expectation of privacy. Because of CURES.

CURES is currently a voluntary database, of which a small group of doctors are using. It is voluntary for doctors to use it EVEN after January 1, 2016, once they are all required to register to use it (this was enacted last year in Senate Bill 809).

Why would I agree to this mandatory reporting?

What is at risk... and I agree having found this on the NoOn46.com site...
The ballot measure contains no provisions and no funding to upgrade the database with increased security standards to protect personal prescription information from government intrusion, hacking, theft or improper access by non-medical professionals.
Am I saying that this is not a worth while venture? Am I a vicious liberal who is putting my own privacy above the value of the lives of those lost because of doctor shopping and a lack of accountability for how to dispense addictive drugs to patients?

No. What I am saying is there has to be a thoughtful conversation about a law that can do just that-- add accountability-- while protecting the general population. We cannot remove our doctors' ability to practice discretion. We cannot remove our doctors' ability to exercise compassion. We cannot allow mandatory reporting of medical information that can be used at the discretion of the state for ANY STATE INTEREST. We cannot use our fear of pill popping drug addicts to drive our desire for fair laws.

I have discovered through my investigation that there are many other reasons why Prop 46 is not the right way to enact the laws and protection that we crave.

But this? The threat to our privacy? Is what has motivated me to share my perspective on why I'm No On 46.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy: Quite possibly my favorite summer movie!

Not every action movie has a soul. 

Sometimes, they’re pretty darn predictable. 

This can be especially true when the movie is based on a story from a comic book.

I’ll tell you what…this movie? Definitely does has a soul.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is a smartly written movie, if there ever has been one in the Marvel family. Most lines are not only smart written, but deftly delivered. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the banter amongst the “Guardian” group, including the lines of Groot (limited to just four words, he is still able to steal a few scenes with those words and some great CGI facial expressions!). I know I will hear the words, “I am Groot,” for weeks to come out of the mouths of my four young boys.

Of course, I love Gamora, played by Zoey Saldana. My favorite line of hers?  "And I am not some starry eyed waif here to succumb to your...your...pelvic sorcery!”

The audience can easily find a place in their heart for her and her traumatic story…of which, each Guardian has one. And Star Lord aptly captures their sad stories with his laugh grabbing line, “I look around, and you know what I see? Losers. I mean like, folks who have lost things…” Because, of course, it was just another way Star Lord endears himself to us, as he struggles from becoming the lost little boy who was stolen from his dead mother to the man who could have the strength to save the galaxy.

I love this movie so much? That just four short days after seeing it the first time with my eldest son, I saw it AGAIN with all four boys at the Drive-In.

My ONLY disappointment in this movie was the seemingly MISPLACED use of two words- one, when Drax calls Gamora a whore (this stands out because he DID NOT have to use the word) and then again when Star Lord tells Ronin, “You said it yourself, we’re the Guardians of the Galaxy…BITCH.” In such a smartly written movie, these words just stand out like a sore thumb, because as I tell my children…you’re intelligent enough that you could find a better word to use than THAT one. And the writers and directors of this movie could have (and should have). Those words were just really out of place.



Altogether, I’d give this movie an A-…and the minus is because of those two misplaced words. Otherwise, this movie is Marvel gold.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Catching my breath

Breathing heavy because thoughts keep racing and they're running 5 minute miles
I haven't had the endurance because I thought I'd never run again

I wonder how long it will be this time
I'm tired of 5Ks and half marathons
I want an ultra marathon

One would imagine that because you've done all this training in the past
You'd be prepared
For twisted ankles and sprained knees
But what really hurts you in this sport is a wounded heart

Lost love for the race
Or worried about the bling you'll get at the end
Never realizing that even though you get a free shirt you're really paying for it with an entry fee

I remember now I love my foot against the pavement
It makes me feel alive
My passion lays in the moment
And I remember it's a journey, not a destination

And I love that I'm out here again
Catching my breath

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sometimes

Sometimes

You forget that you've ever been hurt (too painful to recall)
That love has been risked and lost (why did I bet the farm I lost it all)
That YOU have been lost (I should not have given my heart)

Sometimes 

You forget that love has been painfully empty (the love drained out the holes poked in my heart)
That despite every ounce of every thing you have poured into love,
you have gained nothing (broken empty vessel left behind)

Sometimes 

You remember that you were a girl who believed that love could be greater than the sum of the two (I've heard rumors that it existed)
That love could prove two plus two is five (but they were all too calculating)
That despite the irrationality of love, the logic couldn't be refuted (love is the only thing that matters at all)

Now you find that you always retreat (before he can)
And that you never give it a chance (that thing called love)
And that love is always too far away from now (I don't have that kind of time)
And that love will never prove forever (I'm too busy and tired for things that won't last)

Take a breath

Take a breath

You can't change the girl you are (I wear my heart on my sleeve)

And nothing is black and white (so many beautiful shades of brown)
And nothing is always or never (never trust promises or is that always expect nothing)

And now outta nowhere you're hit from left field (where did you come from if I didn't build you in my dreams)
And now always and never don't matter (I will take today I will take right now if it's with you)
And now who cares that you've been hurt (a million hurts to get to you I'd take a million more)
And now thank god for all the empty (there is room for you to fill me up)

Sometimes nothing else matters (except that I am me and you are you)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Magnificent Maleficent

I am not one who take every story at face value. I know there is always two sides.  There are always more ways to look differently at the same situation. 

I sat in the theater, viewing the opening scenes Maleficent and for a moment I was disappointed. Why were there CGI fairies? CGI twinkles? CGI anything?

And then I let go.  I let go of my expectations.  I let go of my preconceived notions. I let myself enter the world of Maleficent and I wanted nothing but to hear and see her side of the "story.”

And Angelina Jolie presents her side of the story so well. So perfectly. I got chills when she walked into that first scene as the Maleficent we love to hate. CHILLS!


I went into the movie theater expecting to hate a villain.  Instead, I walked out aligning with Maleficent, empathizing with her, even seeing parts of her in me.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we like to find inside the stories we watch and read? Confirmation that we are not alone, that pain and loss happen to us all, affirmation of our “universal truth” on the silver screen?

Watching the last few minutes of the movie, I didn’t want the movie to end. I wanted another chapter, deeper insight into where Maleficent and her loved ones would end up, how they would interact with each other, how their worlds would grow because they had each other in it.

Highly recommend you go see this movie. I know I will be seeing it again!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

A self-proclaimed nerd and lover of comics, I was super excited for the second installment of the Captain America series. 

Who can turn down a movie that brings together Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson?  

From the first scene, the pull of good and sorta bad between Cap and Black Widow moved the scene, the plot, and the tension in the relationship along. Black Widow even mentioned it herself, telling Cap that saving the hostages was his mission.... Not hers. 

That didn't keep me from cheering for their friendship. Natasha randomly attempts to set Cap up with good girls throughout the movie. Their friendship and playful teasing is pretty sweet and actually reminded me of a good friend of mine and my friendship with him. Who doesn't like seeing glimpses of their own life reflected back at them on the silver screen?

I loved Natasha Romanoff. Marvel really takes a stand for female empowerment and a woman's ability to carry an amazing fight scene- there are no "oh, no, Black Widow is struggling, Cap hurry up and go save her moments." 

Cap is the emotional and sensitive good guy. From his attempts to direct Natasha to walk the heroic straight and narrow, to his honest offer to simply let his neighbor use his washer and dryer, to his undying loyalty to his best friend Bucky Barnes, any girl would fall for Cap and any man would kill to have him as a friend. 

The fight scenes, the action, the storyline with HYDRA, all are compelling and worth the ticket to see the movie on the big screen. 

The movie is not a conclusion, but a continuation in a long storyline in te Marvel Universe. 

Based on how good the movie is, I am looking forward to that next installment. Shoot, I may even go back and see this installment yet again. 


Monday, February 10, 2014

Advocating with the fury of 1,000 fiery mama bears

My mama's boy has often struggled with school. Sometimes with the learning, mostly with HOW the learning takes place.

His recent diagnosis of ADHD has explained so much. I have worked on changing our diet at home, the organization of our house and his workspace, added more routine to our day...all to support his growth and development.

Of course, I was planning on the school coming and meeting me 1/2 way in the support of Mama's Boy.

But almost two months after his diagnosis...still, nothing.

I went to the school on Friday to pick up The Twins for their birthday treats for their Kindergarten class. Mama's Boy's case worker was there and intercepted me. She was so nonchalant about her approaching me it took me off guard. She asked if I was interested in getting FURTHER TESTING STARTED for Mama's Boy now that we had this diagnosis.

Um, WHAT???

Shouldn't that have gotten started months ago when I dropped off the medical diagnosis?

And why further testing? She CLEARLY stated in our last meeting that if I was able to the diagnosis there would be plenty more we could do for Mama's Boy but WE JUST NEED THE DIAGNOSIS.

I actually had to ask the twins to get in the car and roll up the window because I didn't want them to hear me give the lady a piece of my mind.

I called the superintendent to bring the situation to her attention. I wasn't going to call the principal AGAIN. I had called her two weeks prior, left a message and received no call back.

I returned to the school about 45 minutes later and there was paperwork there for me to sign to get testing started.

I signed. This case worker/psychologist was kind but was late to the game and received my story empathetically, but could do nothing to change where I was emotionally and mentally with this situation.

I received this email this morning from case worker #1:

"Thank you for expressing your concerns today. I have a few dates
available that Mrs. Taormina and I are able to meet with you. I have
CC’d Mrs. Stibbard as we have not had the chance to speak with her as to
her availability. The dates are:
Weds 2/12/14 at 1:50pm this is during Eddie’s PE time
Weds 2/26/14 at 3:35pm
Friday 2/28/14 at 8:30am

We hope that one of these times will work for you and Mrs. Stibbard.
Thank you for coming in to sign the assessment plan offered today.
Copies have been provided to our school psychologist and resource
specialist and they are aware that the timeframe has begun for assessing (Mama's Boy).

We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Cody Ostadsharif, M.A., CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Cupertino Union School District
408-255-2848 x126"

The teacher stated she couldn't make it until the last time.

I replied I didn't want to meet until Mama's Boy's assessments were done.

The case worker replied to that with this email:

"Hi,

Just to clarify you no longer wish to have a meeting immediately as was stated on Friday at approximately 12:10 p.m.? Would you be in agreement with moving his annual IEP meeting from May to whatever day is proposed to review his assessment results?

The testing timeframe began on Friday when the documents were signed. As our psychologist and resource specialist begin to reach the end of the assessments we will propose times to you as we get closer to the end of the assessments. We will do what we can to expedite the time frame for you, however, please note that it will be within 60 days from Friday. Which means on or before 4/8/14. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Sincerely,

Cody Ostadsharif, M.A. CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist"

WHAT???? Oh, now you want to get SMART and QUOTE THE SPECIFIC MOMENT I MADE A REQUEST??? Don't get smart with me and expect me to cower in the corner or tuck my tail between my legs. I DONT RUN FROM A BATTLE, especially one that I'm fighting on my son's behalf!!!

They dropped the ball. Legally, a parent request is the start date, at which the Cupertino Union School District had 15 days to create an assessment plan, at which point I would have to approve/sign that plan.

THEN the clock starts for the test, being 50 days (I believe- maybe 60, the wording here is interesting in different pieces of legislation that I've read) and then a final IEP or 504 plan. AND MIND YOU, Mama's Boy ALREADY has an IEP!!!

Filled with rage, anger, lots of stabby feelings...I sat in front of my computer ready to type out all of my feels.

I followed her email with my reply. I think you can see my level of frustration from the tone and the word choice. But please tell me they didn't deserve this.

Sent to the caseworker, the teacher, the principal and added the superintendent of Cupertino Union School District.

"You’re right. Let’s clarify Friday.

I think what I actually stated was that you and your school staff have severely dropped the ball when it has come to Eddie and providing services within his needs assessments and that a meeting to provide additional services needs to happen now. If this meeting is not for his additional services, why are we meeting? So that I can continue to tell you and the school that you are failing my son? That I have done everything you have asked of me and that now when the table is turned and you have a legal obligation to provide further services-or at a minimum according to you, further tests- you have not?

On October 24th, Mrs. Stibbard, you, and I met to discuss Eddie’s achievement, concerns, and needs. I expressed my concerns for Eddie’s lack of organization, his lack of focus, and his development as a 5th grader preparing for middle school.

The three of us were in agreement, but you expressed we needed some other diagnosis to provide further services. I expressed my concerns that he had ADHD, and you stated that if I was to get the diagnosis, there were many more ways the school could support him, but that it couldn’t happen until I received the diagnosis. “Just get the diagnosis,” you told me.

On December 19th, after two doctor appointments, a teacher assessment, parent assessment and final medical assessment, I received the diagnosis that I was anticipating and immediately brought it to the school. I personally handed it to you and you stated that we would get the ball rolling and try to see how we could begin to support Eddie with this diagnosis.

I asked for clarification, to make sure, was there anything else I needed to do at that time to get further accommodations and you stated NO.

I foolishly believed you. I have since received a minimum of three emails from Mrs. Stibbard about Eddie’s lack of focus, missing work, and test performance. I requested from Mrs. Stibbard information about where we were with supporting Eddie with this new diagnosis.

I called the school approximately two weeks ago to ask Mrs. Taormina, left a voicemail and received no call back.

I refuse to wait any longer on the testing. The woman who handed me paperwork on Friday said she would personally make sure this would be fast tracked. And I insist that this be done.

Maybe you see this as something that can be waited on, but I am personally taking the reigns on this. Your school is failing my son. He has less than one half a year until middle school, where this performance will definitely be one that will continue to keep him behind.

As far as I am concerned, the testing time frame should have started on DECEMBER 19TH. However, you dropped the ball on that one. Own that. Be responsible for how you failed my son on that day- as we teach our children they will be held accountable, so should we as adults be held accountable.

If this is a problem and you cannot fast track this as the other case worker stated on Friday, I do want that meeting, and I will have to insist on a meeting with the superintendent as well. She has been cc’d on this email.

-Angel Geden
 Angel Geden, M.Ed."

Let me just say, I will advocate with the fury of 1,000 fiery mama bears. I am the lioness, queen of the jungle, something far more fierce than any other animal. I will fight for my cub until I have exhausted my last breath. This is a battle I refuse to lose because winning it is too important to the future of my son.