Smoking Cigars – Is it Worth it?

I happen to love smoking cigars, even though I know it’s not really good for me. Yes, cigars contain toxic substances that are bad for one’s health. And exposure to cigar smoke can bring about a lot of health problems.

So, why do I keep smoking even though it’s bad for me? I’ll have to admit it’s a form of addiction. Manufacturers of tobacco products want the consumers to be addicted to their products; that’s a fact, and they keep on making it for money and profit. And all tobacco addicts are willing victims.

What I hate about the whole scenario, however, is that people can be judgmental at times. I get judged for being a smoker or for being weak when it comes to quitting said habit. Like what happened to me last week when I bought a Quality Importers humidor; I was with some friends and they’re not smokers, so they were urging me to quit the habit. And it wasn’t just a simple expression of concern, I was judged just because they saw me buy a cigar humidor for home use.

Smoking Cigars – Is it Worth itI appreciate their concern, actually; but to really rub it in like that, it somehow irritates me. And this is not the first time it happened. Maybe it’s because I have a lot of non-smoker friends; so a lot of them are self-righteous about it.

I can tell I’m an easy target; but I really think addiction comes in different forms. It’s like being addicted to soda, for example. Did you know that sugar and certain additives are addictive too? Yes, that’s why it’s hard to give up sodas too. But are soda drinkers being judged like smokers? No. And I think that’s quite unfair.

I don’t mean to sound defensive; and I’m just speaking for myself and not for every smoker. But in my particular case, I am really trying to quit smoking. Just please don’t expect me to be able to do it instantly. Battling any type of addiction is a long process; and there are other factors involved too; so it’s not a simple thing.

And since I am well aware of the harmful effects of smoking cigars, I really don’t smoke as much when there are other people around. When I’m home, I always smoke in our garden or backyard so as not to expose my family to secondhand smoke. I know it’s not an excuse to say that I am only bringing harm to myself because that’s not good too. And that’s precisely the reason why I’m trying to quit, gradually.

So to all the non-smokers out there, please be supportive of your cigar smoking friends who are trying to quit. And don’t judge them or ridicule them for not having the strength to quit this vice instantly. Know that it’s not that simple; and we need support and understanding from our friends.

As for the cigar smokers, please be considerate of other people and don’t smoke when there are other people around you, especially non-smokers. And know too, that cigars are really bad for our health; and as enjoyable as smoking cigars is, it would really benefit us a lot if we could stop smoking. It’s for our own good as smoking cigars is dangerous to our health. You can read that in tobacco packs too.

What’s Up With the World These Days

I belong in the generation called baby boomers. If you don’t know what that means, it refers to those people who were born during the 60’s and 70’s. Yes, go ahead and count, you will find that there are only a few remaining baby boomers today. Some are retired, some are forced to still continue to work even when they are past their retirement age due to lack of money, and some are, well, dead.

Fortunately, I am still among those baby boomers who are still strong and healthy today. Maybe this can be attributed to my healthy lifestyle as I have always been conscious about my health. I didn’t smoke cigarettes, I didn’t drink alcoholic beverages, and I didn’t do drugs either. And, I was always conscious of my weight too, since we have a history of diabetes in the family.

I look at my friends and contemporaries; and most of them are dealing with health issues now. There are those with high blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar problems. And there are also those who are experiencing body pains here and there. It’s sad; but I know that these are the types of people who had vices before and took their health for granted.

I would say, I’m aging gracefully, thank God. But sometimes I get into contemplating about my life and my surroundings in general. It was very different during those years that I was growing up. For some reason, everything seemed to move slowly compared to today’s fast paced living. Have you noticed the way technology has changed? It seems like new things are getting invented every minute. Just think of cell phones; today’s latest models will soon to be passé and obsolete in just a couple of months. Everything is just happening so fast. It can be amazing and confusing and sometimes scary all at the same time.

Well, I’m not really into modern gadgets like cell phones, laptops, tablets, and more. I’m into power tools; and I have witnessed first hand how these things have evolved too. For example, my dad who was also into woodworks used to have a regular saw. In fact, I inherited a lot of his carpentry tools; and I still have most of those today.

Going with the times, however, it really is more convenient to use power tools. That’s why I have power saws, chain saws, grinders, nail drivers, etc. Just a month ago I bought the latest model of angle grinder. By reading angle grinder reviews, I found that there are newly released models that are really portable and handy. And I know I can really use those to lessen my hand fatigue after work. So I bought the one with the most features that I need for my projects. I ended up with the Bosch grinder.

And you know how I bought my power tool? Through the Internet! While doing my research, I ended up at http://bestanglegrinder.net which is a really good review site. They suggested the top products in the angle grinder category so that it’s easier to pick the model that best suits my need. Buying things was never this easy during my time. We had to personally visit stores, choose products, and pay at the cashier. But now, click here, click there; and items are bought online and delivered at your doorstep. Amazing.

Should You Be Concerned About Cigar Smoke?

First of all, let me just confess that I am a cigarette smoker and a cigar smoker as well. So this is not something from a self-righteous guy who doesn’t smoke and feels that he is way better than other people. No, that is not the purpose of this article, not at all.

What really pushed me into sharing my views with all of you, fellow smokers, is that I have witnessed again and again how cigar smokers consider themselves less prone to health risks by exposing themselves to cigar smoke rather than cigarette smoke. And there are even those who take pride in switching to cigars when they used to smoke regular cigarettes.

Well, here’s another confession. I used to be like that too, when I was also misinformed about the dangers of smoking cigars. In fact, I was even proud of smoking the most expensive cigars and even bought the top cigar cutter that I can find on the market to complement my new vice. I bought my expensive cigars online and got my cigar cutter from cigarcutterguide.com which covers reviews, tips, and information about cigars and the necessary accessories for these.

But then I had a family member who was diagnosed with cancer of the lungs. He’s my cousin and I know for a fact that he has switched to smoking cigars way before I did so myself. So that alarmed me and made me do an intensive research on the subject. And guess what, I didn’t like what I discovered from studies and articles written on this topic.

Contrary to what many of us believe, cigar smoke is just as dangerous as cigarette smoke. Yes, shocking, isn’t it. At least, when a person is a cigarette smoker, he or she is aware of the many health risks that are associated with this habit. But when one is a cigar smoker, he or she apparently thinks that he/ she is safe from health problems.

The truth is that both cigars and cigarettes contain nicotine; and we all know that this is a dangerous substance. So that alone should cause an alarm to smokers everywhere. Yes, there is some degree of truth that cigars are less dangerous than cigarettes; but that doesn’t mean that these are safe. That’s simply the wrong conclusion. Maybe we have been brainwashed by tobacco companies to think that cigars are indeed less dangerous so that they can continue with their business.

Well, I am not out to tell you what to do; I am merely laying down the facts. Seeing my cousin suffer from lung cancer is not very pleasing; and if I could just make some people aware of the hidden dangers of cigar smoke, then I would be a happy.

Note that the risks of smoking cigars and cigarettes are almost the same. Cigars are designed in such a way that their nicotine content can still be absorbed by the body whether one is inhaling the smoke or not. You put the cigar in your mouth; and that simple act already exposes you to harmful substances. Period.

So, should you be concerned about cigar smoke? I say you should. Know that it is just as dangerous as smoking regular cigarettes; so it exposes you to heart problems, lung diseases, and even deadly illnesses like cancer. Do your own research and ask your doctor about it. Don’t let your lack of knowledge on the subject expose you and your family to physical, mental, and emotional problems when these can be avoided.

How stricter gun laws affect air rifles and pellet guns

Recently, California imposed stricter gun laws related to air guns than for any other state in the nation. If you’re someone who is thinking about buying an air rifle from that state, then it’s important for you to pay attention to air rifle laws California located since they could affect you. In most states, air rifles aren’t considered official firearms. This policy makes a lot of sense since they don’t have the same specifications as other guns, aren’t nearly as deadly, and aren’t even meant for the same purpose in many situations, since air guns are often for specific sports. As a result, most states where air powered rifles are considered something besides guns allow for the sale of air rifles over the counter. This also means that most states allow for the sale of these air guns without background checks or other red tape like what would normally happen with a firearm that is considered actually seriously dangerous. While it’s true that firearms are much more deadly than air rifles, you can see how powerful these guns can be by checking out the Feet Per Second in the air rifle reviews at PelletGuns101.com.

However, legislation in California modifies the way this works. For starters, air rifle and pistol owners have to pay a tax when it comes to purchasing items such as propellants with CO2 or refills for canisters. These refills actually have to be done only in specific areas such as centers for the California Air Resources Board. And even more than that, you actually have to get a certificate called an “Air User Certificate” that goes through the state that allows you to even do this in the first place., You have to get this certificate every year and it costs almost on hundred dollars to renew. It actually only goes on from there. Obviously it’s not exactly hard to fill up canisters with air since air is everywhere. But the law goes on to add penalties for anyone who tries to fill up their canisters with sources not expressly approved by the government. It’s actually possible for you to go to jail by using a compressor illegally.

The justification is that people who supported the law claim that you can still do considerably dangerous things even with just an air rifle. Many call them the “silent killers.”

Another law that affects the purchase of guns in some areas of California include the statutes regulating when you can shoot them and where. For example, Code 1965, Section 66-11 states that it’s illegal to fire any firearm within the city limits without express permission. This means you can only really do this at galleries and other areas that have permission without getting in trouble. Again, air rifles are considered real firearms for the sake of a lot of these laws. This affects the sale of the weapons due to the fact that many people are going to be more wary about selling the guns to people in California. One major difference in that it’s not necessary to actually purchase storage in California for air guns like you do regular guns.

Direct Purchasing Laws

According to the Smart Gun Laws site, there are no laws that affect the sale of these guns across the board, California does regulate the sale of them to minors who are under the age of 18.

Is the Housing and Urban Development Program Necessary?

Is the federal government making more cuts that will affect our very own neighborhoods? Will perfectly capable areas begging to expand continue to be shut out? Unfortunately, the federal housing and urban development programs sector has a long history of scandal and playing favorites, leading some very deserved areas missing out on the expansion they desperately want, need, and are ready for.

What the government doesn’t realize, or doesn’t care to see, is the affect this has on the children. Neighborhoods could flourish, schools could be built, and jobs can be created. Kids can join programs, classes and spend time outside with their friends shooting baskets with their new ball, playing catch with their new mitt, or doing tricks with their new shoes for skateboarding. It’s sad to see a department we’ve come to rely on be in such disarray. This department in general has created many more problems than they have been able to solve, and many are calling for them to disband or start from scratch.

In the late 20th century, the new thinking was to make cement play areas and create huge apartment like high rises for inner city folks to habitat. Problem was once they were built, there was no plan for maintenance and they fell apart just as quickly as they were built, largely due to poor building materials and crime. It was a massive failure and taxpayers continue to fork over nearly $10 billion on public housing subsidies, which makes no sense. These subsidies should cease and the housing projects that are up now and doing no good should be permanently knocked down.

All subsidies do is make people comfortable and not out looking for jobs or improving themselves. People become dependent on the government and stifle production. Ending these subsidies would save taxpayers over $10 billion a year and that money can be used for many other worthy projects, especially in a time of large budget deficits.

There are also housing finance programs that are used to help homeowners buy their first home, even when they don’t have the available funds to do so. These people get in too deep and are unable to afford these homes within a year, flooding the market with bank owned foreclosures. With this housing finance programs that are supposed to help people, eliminating them would keep people from getting in on homes they can’t afford.

Rental units should be built in place of homes so people can rent based on the money they’ve budgeted. Unable to pay the full amount of rent this month? Then move into a more rent-friendly area. Around these rental units should be parks and trails so people can frequent them on their bikes or running. Bike shops can be erected and stores that sell running shoes can flourish. Doctors offices and medical facilities can appear to take care of illnesses or any unwanted outcome from spending time outdoors. Skate shops should be open to people who want to rent skates and enjoy time outside in their exciting skate shoes.

The Housing and Urban Development program has done very little for the country up to this point. The biggest problem is greed – people who are put in charge of these programs have very little morals and are always out to make a buck. They don’t give a flying crap about what’s best for the people that desperately need these areas. Contracts are given to companies that will offer a kickback. The company hired does a poor job of building the structures, are late, and way over budget. Then in a few years these structures are in poor shape because no one has maintained them. If there is one thing that all homes need is proper maintenance. This is largely overlooked in all aspects of business and real estate. There should be divisions with leaders who are solely in charge of maintaining structures put up. Until then, places like this will suffer. The HUD program will continue to remain under scrutiny until something is done to fix the poor choices that are being made regularly.

Gun Safe Requirement: An alternative to gun control

What is Gun Safety?In the last 15 years, one of the hottest political topics has been the discussion around gun control. Democratic views are often centered around a stronger gun control stance with bans of assault grade weapons as well as other stricter measures to keep the guns out of the hands of criminals because of the unfortunate statistics of gun violence and injuries on a yearly basis. But that isn’t the only way to keep the hands out of criminals and prevent children or, even adults, from being injured by accidents.

Recently CJ Smith from http://gunsafereviewsguide.com sent us a suggestion on a stance where laws can be put into place to promote smart gun ownership and training. He pointed on that it would be a stance that would educate gun owners to be smart and responsible while requiring them to purchase a gun storage device with their firearm. I found this to be a very interesting concept because California has already implemented a requirement similar to this. According to the law which was effective on January 1, 2002, no gun may be transferred, or sold unless it’s accompanied by a gun safety device approved by the CDOJ. Within 30 days of prior to taking ownership of the firearm, the owner will need to demonstrate that they have ownership of an approved device.

This law is definitely something that could be put into effect across the board which would take care of many of the violence and accidents that take place due to guns on a yearly basis. There are surely many detractors that will argue that it isn’t strict enough, but there’s a fine balance between strict and fair which I completely agree with. I can understand how victims of the tragedies that occurred in Newton would want a gun control law which prohibits the purchase of assault rifles or high caliber hand guns, but are those laws really going to prevent owners of other types of guns from being irresponsible with their guns, leaving them out in the open, or being stolen? Honestly, I don’t believe that they will. They will work to a point, but in that process they’re going to also cause a hit to an already volatile economy.

Also, including a requirement such as what is stated above, there is an additional benefit inherent to such a requirement. It requires that a gun owner learn about the responsibility of owning a gun. If you just put a flat out ban on a specific type of gun, it does absolutely nothing to educate the owner of a firearm, but when you require them to purchase a gun safe to safely store their handgun or rifle, they become educated on how to store them properly to keep their family, and others, safe. That is a very important pro to the argument of instituting such a law. It is important to carefully read gun safe reviews because some are including whether or not the storage device is CDOJ approved in their coverage of the storage unit. I believe that it will become a common practice for additional states to implement a similar requirement.

In closing, it’s important to make sure that you’re going to be responsible with your firearms. Sweeping laws aren’t going to do anything but infuriate pro gun owners and cause the sales of guns to very likely affect the economy in a negative fashion. Yes, gun safes can be expensive to buy, and every potential gun owner may not want to spend that additional money if they’re just wanting to buy a gun, but if they’re not willing to make that investment then they are not responsible enough to actually own a gun in the first place. It’s time that we educate them on how to not put others in danger instead of attempting to mask the problem with gun laws that will eventually be broken anyway. These are my thoughts on how we can provide an alternative to extremely strict laws while also educating at the same time.

Is There a Nursing Shortage in the US?

I must say, I do worry about this. As my kids get older, and my parents get older, I worry about whether or not there will be enough qualified nurses in the field to take care of the increasing population that needs care. Knowing people who work in that industry, I’ve heard of staff shortages and having nurses to work extra shifts. And come on, we know that isn’t healthy or productive for the individual or the patient who needs your undivided care and attention. Are nurses really complaining about long hours, back and foot pain from standing all day wearing nursing shoes that aren’t providing the support they need, or mandatory overtime that has gotten out of control?

The whole while I hear graduate nurses are having trouble locating a job? Now why is that? If hospitals are short on people, why can’t these hungry graduates take on the open positions? Well, I think one thing is hospitals have a certain budget that must work within. So while it seems like there are not enough nurses, there in fact are, or should be. You may even hear some hospitals are on a nursing freeze – what? How does this make sense? But yes, it all goes back to what each hospital can afford and what they deem is appropriate staff levels to deal with the amount of patients they see regularly.

Hospitals have reports that tell them when the ebb and flow of patients will occur and how many nurses need to be staffed. Hospitals are in the business of making money and they need to cut costs, or at least not increase costs, in order to show a profit. What better way to do so then keeping the number of nurses to a minimum? Nurse salary’s are one of the more expensive costs in the entire hospital (after the docs) and doctors always seem to be more important than nurses, even though they’re really not the ones who wage the war each day.

lack of nurses

The top reason nurses can’t find jobs right out of school is because there are so many fighting for so few jobs. I’ve read there are 12 applicants for every 1 job position that opens up. That makes it very difficult when you’re constantly fighting an uphill battle against many others who are just as qualified.

Next off, many hospitals are very concerned with Magnet certification and all the perks and benefits with being designated as a Magnet certified hospital. This measures the strength and quality of the nursing staff, upping the designation of the hospital, and being the place that patients choose to come to for elective, routine, and emergency visits. A Magnet status means most hospitals are only hiring BSN graduates, making it increasingly hard for LPNs and diploma nurses to find something, even with a fairly sizable nursing history.

There are also a ton of nurses who are working longer. I’m talking about older nurses who might have retired if there wasn’t a significant turn in the economy. Now, they are working longer to recoup their lost earnings, even if that means working into their mid 60’s or earlier 70’s. That’s not a trend that younger nurses want to see.

So to answer the question, is there a nursing shortage? My best answer is No. It’s called a hiring shortage. Hospitals are watching their bottom dollar while also being very picky about whom they take on. And with nurses working longer and making more money, it’s as snowball effect that is putting a damper on individuals who really desire a nursing job right out of college. A nursing shortage, I think not. You can also read more about this now.

How Can Concealed Carry Weapons Keep People Safer

So much is in the news these days about weapons and whether gun control would make this world a safer place. I won’t hide my opinion. I’m of the mind that people who are responsible with their weapons aren’t a threat. It’s the people that find or buy guns illegally that are the threats. Taking guns out of the hands of people who are responsible will only make the bad guys harder to stop, thus a bigger overall threat. The real problem lies within the inability to stop the illegal acquisition of guns. If the government could put more of a penalty on this action, we’d be in better shape overall.

You see, responsible people who carry weapons typically carry them concealed, which means by looking at them, you wouldn’t realize they are carrying. This way there isn’t a panic if someone happens to see your print, which can easily be hidden with a reliable iwb holster that won’t make it obvious you’re carrying. Firearms are only as good as the holsters that carry them so be sure not to skimp out on this aspect because it’ll cause more problems for you.

Now remember, people who carry concealed have a responsibility to protect their weapon and not use it for the wrong reasons. Here are some reasons why someone who is carrying CAN use their weapon:

  • The ability in cause serious injury by a perpetrator is obvious. The perp has a weapon and is not afraid to use it.
  • The perp has shown that he is not afraid to use the weapon or has engaged the weapon and pointed it at you or others.
  • There is serious intent through words or actions that you are in jeopardy of some sort of attack to inflict serious harm.

download (2)If these three situation elements are in place, then there’s an overwhelming strong possibility you’re in danger, thus justifying your means to use deadly force. However, just because you are armed doesn’t mean that you should outright use your weapon. Read the situation and understand how you can escape without drawing your weapon. Keeping your firearm holstered typically means you’ve avoided a confrontration that can quickly put you, friends, family members or innocent bystanders in harm’s path. So if you can get away without making the issue worse, that is highly recommended. Even though you have the very best interests in mind, you can’t predict the outcome of this and could be charged in a civil lawsuit if your actions end up putting someone in harm’s way. Short version of this story = run if you can and fight only if you must.

Now it’s natural to consider the circumstances when making a decision about pulling out your concealed carry weapon. If you can safely get away, call 911, and have a police presence on the situation in mere minutes and you’re leaving no one in harm’s way doing so, then that is a smart call. However, if seconds can be the difference between life and death, the making a split second decision to intervene to save the life of someone you know (or don’t) may be necessary.

However, if there is no imminent risk of harm and your weapon is pulled or seen by another person in public, you can be arrested and charged with a crime, regardless if it was unintentional or not. That’s why a respectable holster is so important, such as a Galco King Tuck IWB holster which is one of the most reputable types that can hold many Glock variations. Be sure to have a good grasp on your weapon and only use it when you have no other choice. Having a loaded weapon in public is a huge responsibility and not something that should be taken lightly. Now our approach should be taking the guns out of the hands of the bad guys.

Are Couples Waiting on Marriage Nowadays?

The latest generation of 20-somethings are now holding out longer than ever. Can you guess what I’m referring to? Well, it’s marriage and while it’s likely your parents were married before they each reached 25, that’s not the case anymore. In the 1960’s the average age for a woman who was marrying for the first time was 20, and for men – 23. That has certainly changed since then. In 2012, the average age for women was 27 and for men was 29. This all leads us to the question of why? Why are couples waiting to be married? What has changed exactly?

Reasons Couples are Holding Off on Getting Hitched

For one, couples are being smarter and living together before being hitched. This wasn’t practical 10-15 years ago, let alone when our parents got together. You dated, you got married, THEN you rented or bought a house together. Nowadays it’s a useful tool to assure that you are compatible with your partner by joining in on rent, sharing chores, making purchases, and being with each other 24/7.

There is much more relaxed aura around the idea of living together. Times are different today and I believe that you don’t want to marry too early and regret your decision. I’ve seen this happen before with friends of mine. Why not wait, court your partner longer, take a chance on living together, and really determine if you’re the best fit for each other. I mean, it’s that the most responsible way to look at it. We don’t need to up the divorce rate, do we?

Because couples are waiting to marry longer, they are also accumulating more wealth by the time they do get married. This makes for a difficult decision when couples do decide to marry. Should a prenuptial agreement be highly considered? Since each of you have been in an established career longer and have produced sizable wealth, it makes sense to really consider creating a prenup using a prenuptial agreement form. These forms will help you determine if a prenup is really the best idea. Why jeopardize what you have worked so hard for and be forced to split your earnings if a divorce were to occur? Instead, for a relatively affordable price, come to a meaningful agreement with your spouse-to-be on who keeps what and how debts will be paid off.

It truly is a smart financial proposition, and smart mature adults can see this at an older marriage holdage. Why put yourself in a position to struggle for years to come by paying half of what you earn to your spouse? Also consider an inheritances or big job promotions that are upcoming when you finalize the contract.

It’s also true that many more people go to college these days and many go for more than 4 years for advanced degrees. That kind of thing just didn’t happen 30 years ago. Many times women skipped college to start a family. Today more and more women are holding off on families to educate themselves with the highest degree and putting off marriage longer to start a career. This pushes back the marriage timeline quite a bit.

Shot-gun weddings are also a thing of the past as having a child out of wed-lock isn’t totally out of the ordinary these days. That doesn’t automatically mean that the couple will marry just because a child is conceived. In fact, the smart money on one parent raising a child in a house that does not have conflict and instead has harmony and receives visits from the supportive parent. What will happen in another 20 years? It’s hard to say, but my money is on continued prenuptial contracts and later marriages which may ultimately been less divorces and more happy couples.

What’s Up With the NSA and Surveillance?

Recently, it has been brought to the attention of the American people through those in the news media and around the world that the National Security Agency has been engaging in a long-term, massive collection of data on citizens and other people in the country and around the world.

Whether you call it spying, or monitoring, or something in between, the NSA contends it has done so for reasons relating to national security and counter-terrorism issues, while some American people argue that their actions are a gross over-stepping of the Constitution and a terrible example of the watchful eye of Big Brother growing and growing ever more in a newly digital society.

Libertarians Challenge the Constitutionality

Millions of Americans from the start of the scandal have been horrified and fed up with the actions of the NSA, and other agencies (including the FBI’s counter-terrorism unit and the CIA) in undergoing surveillance and monitoring the American people. Libertarians and others argue that it is a matter of civil rights and civil liberties to live free, and the NSA has violated the rights of millions of Americans by spying on them and tracking their activities without them being made aware.

nsa surveillanceKenneth Roth, the director of Human Rights Watch, alleges the president must do more to combat the NSA’s overreach here. “In none of this has there been a recognition that non-Americans outside the United States have a right to the privacy of their communications, that everybody has a right to the privacy of their metadata and that everybody has a right not to have their electronic communications scooped up into a government computer,” he told Reuters this week.

It’s all for security, alleges the government

The NSA and others have alleged that their actions in monitoring certain American citizens have been in the name of national security and government surveillance, working to stop terrorist attacks and other major problems from spiraling out of control through pre-emptive surveillance. While citizens may be up in arms, the NSA contends that they are simply doing the job of national security and protecting people from terrorist attacks, bombings, threats, and other major catastrophes as they work to make sure that evil within the midst of the American people is rooted out and prosecuted.

In all, the NSA question of the 21st century dates back a long time to the balance (often delicately) between government surveillance and safety, and personal and civil liberties. A society with total surveillance becomes a society completing lacking and freedom, while a society without surveillance at all runs the risk of becoming a society completely lacking in safety. A necessary balance ought to be struck between the two factions (surveillance and civil liberty), as the government and the people of the United States seek to make a more perfect union that fights the threat of terrorism while also establishing rigid boundaries around civil liberties and freedom as outlined in the Constitution.

It may very well take years beyond this for that balance to be found perfectly, as well as for trust in the government to be restored from people who have had their civil liberties and trust shaken by the surveillance in the first place. Until then, the debate about the NSA’s role in pre-emptive surveillance and counter-terrorism will rage on, and people on both sides will call for action to find a situation that can better represent the American people.

Barack Obama’s Take on the Marijuana Laws

This week, President Barack Obama came out and discussed marijuana, the move towards legalization, and what it means for society and more in an interview with New Yorker magazine.

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” the president told the magazine. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

His views represent a growing number of people in America, who hold that while marijuana may not be their recreational activity of choice (Obama even told his daughters that the drug is a waste of time and not very healthy), more and more people do not see the big deal in legalizing and regulating the drug that is already used by so many millions of people.

To Legalize Marijuana or Not

imagesWhile recreational marijuana use is still illegal under American federal law, president Obama has given states the ability to experiment a bit with whether or not to make marijuana legal – and two states, Colorado and Washington, have already passed laws making it legal in most instances within state borders.

President Obama sees regulating and legalizing marijuana as a way to lessen the crime rate and stop clogging courts with minor drug cases and charges from young kinds who were caught with an ounce or two of marijuana on their person. In the past, where states had enacted unduly harsh penalties to those who used or possessed marijuana, legalizing it in the president’s mind will take away some of those penalties and problems as states focus on larger and more serious crime and drug issues.

“Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” the president continued in the interview with New Yorker magazine. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.”

That being said, the president still issued a caution to those who think legalizing marijuana will solve all the drug problems for those involved, as he argued that simply and fully legalizing pot as a catch-all solution is probably a gross overstatement and oversimplification of the drug issue in America.

Outside of Obama, critics are still concerned that increased marijuana use may lead to a spike in other related crimes, and that the issue of driving while high may begin even to eclipse the problems America has with those who choose to drive while intoxicated. Unfortunately, only time will tell if those problems may manifest themselves into the future.

For now, though, the president may very well be speaking for a large percentage of the population when he discusses the more relaxed tone he would hope to take with marijuana users and the general use and habit of marijuana indulgence. As the war on drugs develops, it appears marijuana is starting to get more of a free pass.

For many, these new laws in Colorado and Washington are simply a step in the direction every state will be in 10 years. Pot has this stigma of being terrible and can rot your brain, but it’s not more harmful than alcohol. So if you’re looking for a little kick, heading out to the mountains or upper Northwest is your only legal alternative until more laws are passed throughout the United States. In due time, in due time.

How HealthCare Reform Has Affected the Middle Class

I will be the first to say I voted for President Barack Obama. As his run towards the presidency was in its infancy back in 2007, Obama should charismatic tendencies and was always calm when being pelted with the toughest of questions. He had a resiliency that was unparalleled versus the other candidates. He had the “it” factor and Democrats were eating him up. While serving as senator in Illinois prior to his presidential run, he continued to push his legislation and put forth tremendous effort in health care, welfare, law enforcement and more. He had all the right answers with very little skeletons in his closet.

Obama’s First Few Years in Office

Over the last 6 years, Obama’s run as president has been uneven. It’s possible he felt he’d be able to make the changes the majority of the American people wanted but didn’t realize how much difficultly he would have against Republican’s stances on the topics he was in favor of. He has shown quite a bit of frustration pushing his Democratic agenda, not able to attain the rally he had hoped for.

Personally I thought Barack Obama was the perfect leader for this country, and in many ways, I still do. He has the American people’s wishes at heart and would never do anything to double cross them or put this nation in jeopardy (even if it doesn’t always seem that way). He’s a not a true businessman, but he’s a dreamer, innovator, and motivator. There is one aspect of this tenure that hasn’t sat well with me, mostly because it’s affecting our family quite a bit. I’ll explain.

How Obamacare Has Affected Our Family

new-york-post-obamacareWhen I was working full time for a hospital near my home, I had a wonderful health plan that wasn’t particularly costly, but the premiums were starting to rise quite a bit over the last couple years. When I quit that job to go into work on my own, self-employment, I was forced turn to individual and family health insurance for myself, my wife, and my 2 children. We elected for a high deductible insurance plan because for the most part, we were pretty healthy and rarely saw the doctor except for routine checkups, shoots, exams, and the like. We were paying under $400 for the 4 of us with a $5,200 deductible. Most of the routine stuff was included  — wellness visits, pap smears, physicals, etc. It was really nice.

We were very happy with the coverage, the doctors in our group and the cost. Well, along came the middle of 2013 when we received notice we’d be forced to end our current health policy and pick a Obamacare package. Talk about sticker shock. The price of the coverage increased by nearly $100/month and the deductible skyrocketed from $5,200 to $12,700 for our family. That meant, in a worst case scenario, we’d have to come up with over 12K before our insurance would kick in and cover the rest. It seemed so unbelievable and such a drastic jump. We were a healthy family who rarely went to the doctor, and we were now seemingly being forced to cover pre-existing conditions that other sicker people had. This included maternity, mental health, and other types of ailments.

We didn’t know what to do except to force ourselves to stomach this new policy and just be extra careful in our daily lives. I heard from other self employed families that this was bad news to them too. At the very last moment, because the official Obamacare website was in such bad shape, the White House gave the option to companies offering policies to extend the same coverage to individuals throughout 2014. We were happy to be represented by Blue Cross Blue Shield who elected to extend the 2013 coverage into 2014. However in the back of our heads we know come the end of 2014, we will be forced to deal with the Obamacare pricey coverages unless something happens between now and then. This was certain a miss by Obama for the middle class who will struggle to pay higher price tags and hope to God they aren’t afflicted with a problem that will cost them 12K a year.