Wednesday, January 30, 2008

our NEW house

We went by our house today and it's definitely changed since the last time we were there. It was fun to walk through the house with actual walls up. Here are some of the pics. I hope you like them!





We've got brick!!!

Looking in from the front door

Looking into the kitchen

Looking out of the kitchen

Beth in the master bathroom

Tony standing in the master bedroom

Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is this weekend and I'm pumped. Although I really wanted to see the Packers against the Patriots, I'm just glad the Pats made it. I wasn't around to see the Miami Dolphins go undefeated in 1972, so I think it'd be pretty cool to see an undefeated season. We were in Italy the first time the Giants and the Patriots played and at the time didn't think we'd see a rematch. I think Beth is pumped about the Super Bowl too. Although her reason is different than mine. She's pumped because the Super Bowl marks the end of football season. No more weekends spent in front of the tv analyzing each play and each game. At least until August that is. Not sure what we're going to have as far as food for the game, but hopefully we'll come up with something good.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

WHO Rankings

According to the WHO, France has the best healthcare system in the world. The WHO also puts 36 countries ahead of the United States in its healthcare rankings. I think this is interesting. Ask yourself this question: If you had a choice between getting healthcare in the United States or getting healthcare in Israel, Colombia, Cyprus, Morocco, Malta, or Costa Rica, which one would you choose? According to the WHO, you should pick any one of those countries over the United States. They all have better healthcare systems than the U.S. If it were me(and this is merely my opinion), if I had a choice between Tel Aviv and Kansas City for my medical care, I'd choose Kansas City every time.

John Stossel is a journalist for ABC News. Here are his thoughts on the WHO's healthcare rankings:

"So what's wrong with the WHO and Commonwealth Fund studies? Let me count the ways.

The WHO judged a country's quality of health on life expectancy. But that's a lousy measure of a health-care system. Many things that cause premature death have nothing do with medical care. We have far more fatal transportation accidents than other countries. That's not a health-care problem.

Similarly, our homicide rate is 10 times higher than in the U.K., eight times higher than in France, and five times greater than in Canada.

When you adjust for these "fatal injury" rates, U.S. life expectancy is actually higher than in nearly every other industrialized nation.

Diet and lack of exercise also bring down average life expectancy.

Another reason the U.S. didn't score high in the WHO rankings is that we are less socialistic than other nations. What has that got to do with the quality of health care? For the authors of the study, it's crucial. The WHO judged countries not on the absolute quality of health care, but on how "fairly" health care of any quality is "distributed." The problem here is obvious. By that criterion, a country with high-quality care overall but "unequal distribution" would rank below a country with lower quality care but equal distribution.

It's when this so-called "fairness," a highly subjective standard, is factored in that the U.S. scores go south.

The U.S. ranking is influenced heavily by the number of people — 45 million — without medical insurance. As I reported in previous columns, our government aggravates that problem by making insurance artificially expensive with, for example, mandates for coverage that many people would not choose and forbidding us to buy policies from companies in another state.

Even with these interventions, the 45 million figure is misleading. Thirty-seven percent of that group live in households making more than $50,000 a year, says the U.S. Census Bureau. Nineteen percent are in households making more than $75,000 a year; 20 percent are not citizens, and 33 percent are eligible for existing government programs but are not enrolled.

For all its problems, the U.S. ranks at the top for quality of care and innovation, including development of life-saving drugs. It "falters" only when the criterion is proximity to socialized medicine."

It's been pretty interesting as of late with all of the election stuff going on. I can honestly say that none of the candidates really interest me too much. It seems like there are so many issues out there and none of them line up exactly with what I believe. I'm realistic though and know that this is never going to happen. There's never going to be that "perfect" candidate. I have certain issues that are important to me and certain issues that I really don't care too much about. I definitely know that I would never vote for someone based on one issue nor would I vote for someone that I know doesn't have the same morals as me. And there are certain candidates that I morally can't vote for. It's not necessarily about religion, it's about my moral beliefs being completely opposite of some of the candidates.

It's also interesting to listen to all of the promises made by the candidates. Everyone has the best solution during a political campaign. Free health care to all. Free college. Lower taxes. Increase the military by not increasing military spending. Balance the budget. Spending reform on political campaigns. Blah blah blah.

One big issue has been the idea of universal health care. Universal health care sounds great. Everyone deserves health care especially in a country like the United States, right? I guess this is why American hospitals can't refuse service to anyone whether they have insurance or not. This is also why we have non-profit hospitals as well as government run hospitals. And this free service includes all of the illegal immigrants who need medical care. Personally, I don't like paying taxes as it is. All universal healthcare does is create more control by big brother(the US government), less control by the individual(me), and less money in my pocket. I have no issue with the state governments stepping in and providing additional help as needed, but I don't think it's the federal government's responsibility to pay for everyone's health care. Our healthcare system isn't perfect and some parts of it need to be fixed. So let's fix what's broken and move on. I realize that universal healthcare works in other countries. That doesn't mean it will work here. Sorry.

I've also heard about free college for everyone. Who's going to pay for that? Lower taxes without making our current tax breaks permanent? How's that going to work? We're going to balance the budget? But we're not going to cut anything out of the budget? One US Senator has helped obtain over $1 billion for "projects" in his home state over the past 15 years. These "projects" include a high school, a park, a bridge, and an expressway all bearing his name. While I think it's great that we honor people for their accomplishments, I don't think it's necessary to spend over $1 billion naming 34 different "projects" after someone. Interestingly enough, this same Senator was once a member of the KKK. Not someone I would honor anyway, but that's just me. And we wonder why we can't balance the budget? I've got an idea. Why don't we take that billion dollars and put it towards something of importance? Just a thought.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see what happens. Things are changing and I don't know if that's necessarily a bad thing. My one hope is that people don't vote for Hillary just because she's a woman or Barack just because he's black. I know that if I said I was voting for a white man b/c he was a white man, I'd be called racist and sexist. And I would call myself an idiot and lacking knowledge. Doesn't it work both ways? Look at all the issues and figure out who you line up with the closest. And if you don't know the issues, learn them. It's not that hard, I promise.

Monday, January 28, 2008

We Love Mondays

It always seems like Monday is here before we know it. We have a full weekend of running, hanging out, and basically doing whatever we want and then Monday comes along and is such a downer! Tony and I were so grumpy this morning and I think it's carried over all day today. I didn't have a very good day at work between behavior problems and what not, I was just not into it today. Judging by Tony's attitude I don't think he had a very good day either, mostly because of work too, I guess. With the beginning of the week comes all the things you know you have to do that week...laundry, grading papers, getting up early, driving to work, working on our counseling workbooks (which takes quite a bit of time), dentist appointments, people to call, and running other errands.

We just have to get through Monday and Tuesday and we can see the end in sight! I need to start a Spring Break countdown because I can't wait for that!

Friday, January 25, 2008

I made pizza the other night for dinner. We had eaten Pizza Hut a few nights before and I must selfishly say, my pizza was better.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Coupons

Does anyone else use coupons? Beth and I use them every time we go to the store and usually always save $10-$15. I know it's kind of dorky, but extra money in your pockets is never dorky.

Last Weekend

I figured Beth would write about this, but I guess she's been busy so I'll have the honor. Last weekend was very busy with much wedding planning being done. Going into the weekend we didn't have a clue about most things wedding related. Here it is five days later and I can easily say we now know a lot about cakes, flowers, linens, and even registering. First to our cake. The wedding cake and my groom's cake have been picked out and we are very excited about both. I'll be honest, I'm a little more excited about my cake, but then again, it is my cake. Sorry, but I won't go into details about either one of them. It'll have to remain a surprise until after the wedding. All I will say is that the wedding cake will be simple, but elegant. My groom's cake will be very chocolaty.

The flowers were Beth's thing and I think she picked out some great ones. As well as the linens. Who knew there were so many choices?

We started registering over the weekend and neither one of us realized how much stuff we needed. It was fun using the little scanner to pick out what you wanted, but I must say that after an hour, I was pretty tired of it. Luckily we only went to one place and decided that we'll hit up another place this weekend.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More House Pics

Our House



Standing on the front porch



Beth looking into the kitchen from the bar area


Our front yard..I think we need some grass


Standing in our bathroom...I'm in the shower

Some House Pics

Here are a few house pics. I will post more later.





Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Busy Weekend Ahead

We have a pretty busy weekend coming up. We are hitting the wedding planning full speed and will start the process of registering(the fun part) as well as meeting with the cake people(the really fun part), the flower people(fun for Beth), and the linen people(maybe fun for Beth). Luckily, Beth's Mom is accompanying us on these excursions minus the registering part and I wouldn't be surprised if Beth's Dad joined us for the cake tasting part. I'll keep you posted.

It's pretty crazy to think that when we booked our wedding and started thinking about it, we had over a year before the big day. Now we are sitting here halfway through January with only six months until our wedding.

I'm pretty excited about the registering part although somewhat disappointed that registering for a plasma tv or playstation 3 are usually frowned upon by the bride-to-be. Luckily I have no doubt that we'll be able to find some other, more normal things to register for.

Other than that, football season is winding down and I'm looking forward to the AFC and NFC Championship games this weekend. I know Beth is looking forward to no more football period. I'm sure we'll also make a quick trip down to our house and see how progress on that is going. It'll be done before we know it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

It's Official

It's official, Beth and I completed the 2008 Aramco Half-Marathon this morning. This was our second time to run in the race and we definitely had a better showing this time around. We woke up this morning at 4:35 a.m. to leave by 5 a.m. We got to downtown Houston by 5:30 a.m. and realized we had an hour before we were supposed to line up for our race. Downtown was crazy with over 25,000 runners and volunteers(that's not counting all the spectators) all over the place. Inside the George R. Brown Convention Center is where most of the runners holed up while waiting for their race to start. There were church services for every religion, a mini Starbucks, and water and Gatorade for any racer who needed to quench their pre-race thirst. It was definitely a sight to see and even Beth and I who are avid runners felt a little out of place at times with all the ultra-serious runners everywhere. We've come to realize that just b/c someone comes across as an ultra-serious runner, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are any faster than us. They just take running very seriously. I guess we just don't take ourselves too seriously(which is why I think we have so much fun).

Now to the results. There were 8304 runners in the half-marathon and Beth finished with a time of one hour, thirty seven minutes and forty seven seconds. This put her in 396th place overall(men and women) and 90th out of all women. So needless to say, pretty dang impressive. Beth maintained a pace of 7:27/mile over the 13.1 miles. Her time was over nine minutes faster this time than last time we ran.

I ran the 13.1 miles in one hour, thirty six minutes, and sixteen seconds. This put me 347th place overall and 269th for all men. My time was also over nine minutes faster than last time. I maintained a pace of 7:20/mile. Beth and I ran together the entire time except for the last mile when I ran off on my own. I was wearing my Sooners shirt and Beth her Longhorn shirt so we got some great comments from the crowd as we ran. Sorry, but we don't have anymore pictures than the one below of our race bibs, medal, and finisher shirt. Beth's parents were our official photographers the last time we ran, but they were out of town this year.


Friday, January 11, 2008

The House

Welp, we met with the builder on Wednesday and our house has officially started. It was awesome to actually see something on our lot other than just dirt. We now know how our house is going to sit on our lot and it couldn't be any more perfect. The backyard is going to be huge and we're also going to have a small front yard as well. We changed our brick choice while meeting with the builder and we are excited about that too. Here are some pics. We'll post more as the process continues.

From the Front

The front right corner is our front porch

Looking at the back patio

One side of our backyard

Side view

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Original door to the Roman Forum

Spanish Steps

Louise taking a bath!

Hotel in Florence

Trevi Fountain

Restaurant in Florence

On our way!

Beth with her "chicken strips"

Beth, Tony, and Gab

Wine Tasting in Chianti

Colisseum

Pantheon

Palatine Hill

Dinner in Florence

Me and my Steak

Pompeii

At the Vatican

Making a wish at the Trevi Fountain

Colisseum

Beth Making Her Wish

Back in the swing of things

I promise that pictures from our trip are coming soon. We have over 800 pictures so I kind of need to go through them and pull out the best ones to post. Beth was definitely right when she said we are glad to be home. We had a great time in Italy, but after 10 days, I think we were just ready to get back to a little bit of normalcy. It was definitely interesting watching Beth spend an extended period of time with my family. I mean let's face it, families are different and my and Beth's families are definitely different. I think Beth obviously knew that, but didn't know to what extent. She wasn't quite ready for certain things, nor had she experienced certain things with her own family so she wasn't quite sure what to make of it all.

Anyone who knows Beth, knows that she doesn't have a mean bone in her body. Beth is very genuine and without a doubt one of the most loving, kind, good-hearted people that I know. Obviously some of the reasons why I am marrying her. This being said, it was hard to watch Beth get upset as she tried to figure out why my family does certain things or reacts certain ways, when she isn't used to that with her own family. Definitely a learning process. Overall, we had a really good time and anyone who has ever been to Italy knows what a great place it is.

The half-marathon is finally here this Sunday. Beth and I are pretty excited and can't believe it's already race time. The race starts at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning and they are telling people to be there by 5:30 a.m. as they start closing down streets after that. The Woodlands is about 30 minutes north of downtown which means Beth and I will need to leave at 5 a.m. Not my idea of a good time, but it'll be well worth it when we are done and I know that we'll have a great time.

We are meeting with our builder today and things should be starting on our house really soon. They say that it takes about two months from when they begin to be completed and we can't wait to watch our house be built. That's it for now. Hope everyone had a great holiday and a great start to 2008.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We are back from Italy! We didn't have internet at the house we were staying at in Rome so we weren't able to update or post any pictures on our blog. Sorry about that to all those I told "Just check out blog. We'll put up a ton of pictures." Tony will have to sort through the millions of pictures to pick the good ones and will post them later on. So stay tuned for pictures.

We are glad to be home even though we had a good time in Italy. For me, it was a learning experience about Tony's family and how they all work as a family. With them living in Dubai and Paris I've never really spent an extended period time of them not to mention 24/7. I definitely had fun though, through all the frustrating times were it seemed impossible that all 10 of us were going to be able to do the same thing, eat at the same time, or whatever the task may be.

For those who don't know, we spent about 3 days in Florence and 7 days in Rome. While in Florence, we went sightseeing, saw THE David (by Michelangelo), went on a walking tour where we learned a lot about the history of Florence, on a wine tour through Tuscany's Chianti country, and ate at some good restaurants. We also took a half day trip to Pisa and saw the Leaning Tower. That's pretty much all there is to do is Pisa, so after that, we left. Oh, I forgot...while in Florence, Tony didn't even has any of his luggage. Lovely Air France left his luggage in Paris and it took them 3 days to get it to Rome. Tony finally had to break down and buy some clothes after day 2 when his clothes started stinking. Just kidding honey!

Our next stop was Rome. We took the train from Florence to Rome and stopped back by the airport to pick up Tony's bags and the rental cars. Then we drove out to the rental villa outside of Rome (about 30 minutes if you don't get lost). We did a lot of sightseeing in Rome and we also went to Pompeii and Herculaneum near Naples. Highlights included: the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and millions of churches, to name a few things! We also did some exploring around the little town where our rental villa was and ended up finding a cool castle at the top of a hill. We met up with Tony's sister's family in Rome. She has 2 little ones, Gab (3) & Louise (almost 1 1/2). We had lots of fun playing with Gab and chasing after Louise since she just started walking. They have got to be two of the cutest little kids I know!

We also managed to go running twice which was a really nice break to get out of the house and outside exercising. We ran a pretty hilly course and got to see more of the Italian countryside and enjoyed the cool air.

We will write more about the trip and post pictures soon, I promise!

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