The Death of the American College Experience

American Colleges and Universities, with their sprawling campuses and buildings are not what they once were. Dormitories full of co-eds partying, gossiping and maybe even studying are now staying at home for a variety of reasons.

The cost of the university experience has gone up considerably year over year. Since 1980 the cost of going to college is up 1200%. Is it because college professors are getting paid more? No. It is more administration! Sited in Forbes, in 2014, instructional costs were about 148 billion and administrative expenses were 122.3 billion. Interesting! Yes, in 1980, only 26% of the cost of a college education was administration.

Technology

Another reason for the death of the American College experience is technology. While it was necessary to go to college to get an education, tech has made it possible to get lectures online and have no relationship with a campus. There is no need for campus life. In 2019, at least 33% of students were attending at least one course online. With the events that have transpired in the last few years, that number is certain to climb.

When I attended college in 1999, the fastest connection was on the college campus. My home still had dial up internet, but we had a T1 connection at school which enabled me to download music on Napster at super quick speeds. Now, college students can stay at home with their quick internet in their own bedrooms and stay in their pajamas while zooming their professor’s lectures. No need to eat nasty cafeteria food, mom’s cooking is just downstairs. And Uber Eats can easily deliver to your house, instead of your dorm room.

Health Paranoia

Outbreaks at colleges have always been an issue, and that is now even more at the forefront of everyone’s minds since 2020. My college had an outbreak of meningitis right before Thanksgiving my sophomore year. Where massive people congregate, use showers, eat, sleep and unfortunately sometimes sleep around, there will be outbreaks of disease.

With people staying in their own homes, there is less of a chance for outbreaks. It is not necessarily going to be nonexistent, but diseases break out when people shower in the same places and congregate. Warts, athletes foot and other nasty fungus were also common in our bathrooms at our schools..

At home, you can clean your own bathrooms and make sure your kitchen area is clean and sanitized, where shared spaces aren’t always as clean.

Will this be the end of Campus Life at American Universities?

Teenagers once reveled in getting away from home and experiencing life in a new town or city. But, more and more kids are choosing to stay home, do online school or even commute. Harvard Business School moved their MBA classes online to curb an outbreak and other schools keep wavering between online and in person classes. Many families do not want their students sitting in rooms all alone. Solitary situations for these students have been terrible and so families have opted to keep their students home instead.

What do you think?

Do you remember Olestra?

If you were a kid in the 90s (or an adult) you might remember WOW chips. The chips that had a food additive to replace fats in home and commercial uses.

Approved for usage in 1993 by the FDA, by 1996 the FDA started to put warnings on food products in 1996 for gastric issues that were caused by eating foods with Olestra. Unfortunately, people who ate food with the Olestra didn’t just suffer issues when they ate those WOW chips. Anything they ate during around the same time caused issues too. If the person ate an apple, meat, or any other good food, the good parts of the food were not absorbed. People eating Olestra chips not only had gastro intestinal issues, but also started suffering vitamin deficiencies as well.

The FDA hasn’t rescinded Olestra as a legal food additive, however it has been shown as detrimental to those who have eaten it.

Why do I bring up Olestra? Because the FDA often approves and keeps things on the market that are not beneficial.

From the FDA website:

Although FDA does not have premarket approval of food products, it has the authority to approve certain ingredients before they are used in foods. Those include food additives, such as substances added intentionally to food, and color additives.

Companies that want to add new food additives to food are responsible for providing FDA with information demonstrating that the additives are safe. FDA experts review the results of appropriate tests done by companies to ensure that the food additive is safe for its intended use. An approved food additive must be used in compliance with its approved uses, specifications, and restrictions.

Using Our Own Common Sense

WOW chips caused a lot of havoc on the bodies but yet it was a feel good thing. There are so many other “feel good” things out there that we deal with every day that may be “approved”. There have been many drugs throughout the years that have been FDA approved and later rescinded. According to a CNN report, one third of the drugs that FDA approved between 2001 and 2010 were later pulled from the market because of safety issues.

Olestra was just a big, poopy mess of the FDA’s in the 1990s that was let loose on grocery store shelves, but the FDA marches on with a horrible track record of approving things that aren’t suitable for mass consumption.

The Rental Society

Renting a car for a short term use or renting a home is a normal phenomenon in our society. You’ll see skyscrapers in many of the cities across our country full of rental apartments and in the suburbs, you’ll find plenty of homes ready to be rented for those who may be looking for a new home. Car rentals make sense for the on the go passenger who wants the freedom of travel without the hassle of calling for a car service

But our society has changed to fearing any type of commitment. While there is sometimes a reason to rent things, some of these things are kind of crazy!

My husband and I were talking about different types of rentals the other day, and I was stunned at the things that you can rent nowadays. One of the companies you may be familiar with is Rent the Runway. No need to purchase clothes when you can rent them.

Dating

You might need to Rent the Runway when you rent a date. Not feeling courageous enough to tell mom or dad that you haven’t found the “one” yet? Well, no worries, you can rent a date! Or, feeling like you can’t make it on your own at a social event? You can now rent a date instead!. I know that there are jokes that prostitution is one of the oldest occupations, but this takes a slight spin on this, while implying that it is just for impressions and not for anything more than looking good in front of people.

Personal Cuddlers

Did that date not suit your fancy? Well, you can get a little more intimate without getting intimate! Have someone hug you by renting a personal cuddler.

Animals

Want a furry friend without the hassle? No worries! You can rent one of those too! I truly worry about the animals that have to go through this craziness as animals do like schedule, certain smells, a safe space to feel at home. This just feels like animal abuse to truck an animal from one home to another.

Paparazzi

While you have your rented pet, date and clothing, you can also hire people to follow you around to take pictures of you. Make sure you put on make up. Is that rented too?

A crowd of people

That crowd of people waiting for you, you rented them too! Can you imagine having all those people fawning over you? Well, you paid for them!

Mourners for a Funeral

Was your family member a stinker, but you don’t want to let anyone know? Well, you can rent people to make them (or you) feel more important than they were.

Line Holders

Want the latest iPhone, new game or whatever is on your list? You can rent someone to stand in line for you. Renting a human has never been so easy.

Rent a Pool

Yes, you can rent out someone’s pool for a pool party. This sounds like a liability waiting to happen for a homeowner.

Rent A Yard

Don’t like the dog park? You can rent out someone’s yard for your dog to play in all by themselves! Make sure you pick up after your pooch!

Rent a Driveaway

Not sure where to park? Well, you can rent someone’s driveway so that you won’t get towed!

Rent a Tire

Don’t want to pay for new tires of your car? Well, you can rent them! Not sure what happens when you get another nail in that tire and have to replace that one too!

Anything for Safety

When I posted earlier about what is happening in the Avondale School District, I got a lot of negative feedback that I don’t care about the safety of the children.

I do care a lot about kids safety. But, at some point we have to let kids lead regular lives. Disease has always been a part of our lives. This disease is not nearly as deadly as most other diseases for children. Malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, HIV are all more deadly for children but we haven’t done anything for them previously in schools. While Malaria doesn’t usually hit US school children, other diseases absolutely do. And, we have never taken this crazed steps to combat these diseases.

How about pool deaths? Are we going through crazy steps to stop those? Or kids who run out in the street? How about kids who choke on their food? Or kids and teens who get into medications at home.

Right now there is a crisis over helicopter parenting and government. When we lose individual liberties to make our choices and risk assessments, then we live no life at all. Unfortunately, with a risk adverse society we will be less likely to have new discoveries, new treatments and tons of great new things for the future.

Being Risk Adverse is Not Option for Everyone in Society

Our great wars in the past weren’t won by risk adverse people. Fires aren’t fought by the risk-adverse. The medics, policemen, and firefighters who went into the towers on September 11th were not risk adverse people. However, if we keep going with the mantra of “stay safe” or “anything for safety” our kids will shy away from anything that challenges them, makes them uncomfortable, or could possible hurt them or make them sick.

The movie WALL-E is a perfect depiction of where our society is headed. Overweight people with eyes stuck to screens with no person to person interaction. Completely risk adverse.

Is that a life worth living? Is that quality of life? Are we sacrificing quality of life for quantity of life?

Testing every day or every other day isn’t even meaningful. The tests have false positives or negatives, and they are pooled and take days to come back. This approach makes no scientific sense, but to the “we must do something” crowd, they feel like they are in some sort of perpetual movement. Unfortunately, this movement is backwards.

We must get our kids comfortable with some risk, as well as feeling like we can take some risks of our own. Sometimes there is failure. Success comes when you learn from your failure.

I remember taking my oldest son to the park when he was four years old. He was a very adept climber and I was standing at the other side of the park with my two other children. One grandmother started screaming because my oldest was climbing without me underneath him. She started freaking out and going underneath him and saying “I got you, I got you, I got you.”

My oldest looked at her and said “I’ve done this so many times. I’m an expert.”

I told her to back away and that she was more likely to make him fall because he would concentrate on her instead of what he was doing. She shook her head angrily at me, but walked away.

Where do we go from here?

And this is where we are with the society. Instead of thinking about how we can be healthier with our diets, exercise, mentally and socially, we are sticking q-tips up our noses weekly to see if we have the latest ill and hopefully the newest drug can cure us. We are focused on the wrong thing and will ultimately fall (just like my child would have) if we don’t focus on what we should be focused on-which is our overall health.

An Anything for Safety approach will leave people sad, miserable and alone. Some of life’s best accomplishments have come with great risk. With great risk can come some great rewards.

Get out and take some risks. It may not come naturally for all people. Saying things that others’ may not like is one thing (like I do here). Public speaking is another thing that is hard for people. Trying something new or going to a place where you know no one is another thing to try. Find a place on the map you have always wanted to go and make it a goal. You can try hard things and DO them!

The Hunt for Witches in Avondale Elementary School District

I am sure you have heard the story of the Salem Witch Trials. Teenage girls would accuse women and even men that they did not like of being witches. The trial would proceed and in order to show that they were or were not a witch, the accused would be thrown in water. If they could swim, they were a witch. If they drowned, they were not a witch, but died anyhow.

A parent posted that her school district, the Avondale Elementary School District in Arizona, is asking permission for pooled “c-v” testing.

I read this and was absolutely appalled. While they state that “knowledge is power”, they is also can be used against people when it is abused.

I came up with a list of concerns immediately on this process.

  • How will the samples be stored? Will they be stored individually or all mixed up? Pooled seems to mean they will be all put together, and therefore touching each other. One child with an infected specimen would therefore infect all of the samples.
  • If the children are doing this to themselves, how will they prevent injury? We tell kids all the time not to stick things up their noses, and now we are instructing them to do this! This is a nightmare for teachers.
  • How are teachers going to make sure that a kid whose parents do not want them to do this does not do it? Permission forms are completely week. This puts the onus on the child to remember that they aren’t supposed to do it and gives them the burden to push off peer pressure.
  • What happens with the samples? Who is in charge of the samples? Where do they go, how are they stored? How are they destroyed? What happens with them?
  • How are they storing the information on the the end of the qtip?
  • If Concentric is making me sign this form and it is supposed to be pooled and therefore anonymous, why are you asking my child’s ethnicity? You should already have demographics of the school.
  • There are false positives and false negatives and this company states that, so the “knowledge is power” doesn’t even make sense. It is an abuse of power if they know that they are going into this knowing that they are giving out faulty information.
  • That pooled testing is going to give higher false positives.

So, that Witch Hunt? Where does that come in?

In the email, the school district says that they are making decisions with this information on whether they will continue in school learning. Will parents have to stay home or find alternative care without much notice from the school because there are errant tests? Parents will start looking for the child (or children) who might have infected their kid!

Just like a witch hunt, parents will start whispering about which groups their kids were in and what tests they took, and eventually they will find a scapegoat. Unfortunately, the person who they find might not even be the one who actually caused their child to be sick. Just like the witch trials, that person might just be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Instead of coming together and learning that our immune systems need some work, our kids need to have a social outlet and kids need to be in school, Avondale Elementary School District is putting together an inevitable Witch Hunt based on scant evidence, scare tactics and very little science. Oh, and your tax dollars too.

Avondale Elementary School District is not the only one doing this, so be aware!

Location, Location, and Parturition

If you are were me, you might not have even know what the word “Parturition” means until today. It means birth.

But, why am I talking about Parturition (birth) and Location?

As my husband and I have traveled with our kids along Arizona highways and have seen the expanse of homes cropping up everywhere, I wonder about the future. Will people actually live in these homes that already seem so far out and remote in the future? They already seem so far from everything. There are full HOA communities that are being built far from the major cities, and with no amenities nearby.

But, back to the birth thing that I brought up. The birth rate in the United States has been on the decline for quite some time, and our age expectancy hasn’t really increased all that much in 46 years. In 1975, the average life expectancy was 75 years for both male and female. In 2018, the average life expectancy was 78 years old. We have gained +3 years in 46 years.

Our birth rate has taken a huge plunge from 1950 to 2018. in 1950, all races were having approximately 24.1 children per 1000 people in the United States (considered the “Crude Birth Rate). In 2018, that number went to 11.6, which is less than half of what it was in 1950.

Arguably, you can say our population has increased since 1950, however, we are not replacing the population we have at that can come at a critical cost. Japan is having a crisis, along with many other countries when the younger generation does not have enough children to support an older generation. There are not enough workers to support the older people-healthcare being a huge primary issue.

Back to the housing issue. The homes that are so far out in the desert. Many people take out mortgages for 30 years and feel that they will live in that house until retirement and a younger generation will come in and take over the home.

But what if there is not a younger generation to take over the home? I look at these homes far away from everything and think of the huge oversupply that we could have in years to come.

We will always have immigration, but this will not be enough to offset our birth rate. Pick your location wisely and always think of resale. Remote places will be harder to sell if they are not located near amenities. When there is a reduction in population, people tend to trend to city centers and move like a target toward those. Things on the outskirts will often be left behind without services.

I’m not saying this to frighten anyone, but just to be aware of our moving world and how things may work in the future as you make plans.

The problem with the Likert Scale in the Medical Field

I remember having my wisdom teeth pulled out when I was 17 years old. It was a few days before Martin Luther King Day. This was 23 years ago now. I was given OxyContin for pain after the surgery. I looked at my mom thinking these people were insane after reading the side effects. Even at the young age of 17, I tried not to take medicine if I could. I already had congenital hypothyroidism (my thyroid was misshapen at birth) and so I tried to not use medication if at all necessary.

You may wonder what the difference between OxyContin and oxycodone is, because I wondered the same. OxyContin is the time-release version of oxycodone. OxyContin is the brand name.

My gut reaction to not using the OxyContinwas well informed. While I was prescribed it in 1999 for my tooth removal, in 2004 studies found that there was a serious addiction problem to this substance.

But, what is it with the Likert scale?

The Likert scale , developed in 1932, is a point scale on which you agree or disagree with a statement. In medicine, it was widely used to access your pain. As stated on Healthline.com, these tools can oversimplify pain. One of the issues with pain is that it is there to signify that there is something wrong, and many times people either ignore the pain or over amplify the pain in order to seek relief.

In the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, drug overdose came at a crux because of the overdosing of pain relief medications. Michael Jackson’s very public death put a spotlight on pain-killer addiction. However, the hospitals and staff are taught to help patients get out of pain. Staff are often reviewed on metrics of how they attended to their patients, how well they listened and solved the problems of their patients. An addicted patient who has figured out the system of the Likert Scale will understand this system and push for their next fix.

The medical system has created a disaster based on mitigating pain.

While hospitals are supposed to help patients fix their pain, they have also increased pain by creating this highly addictive and lucrative drugs.

When I was in the hospital for many of my fun stints (having babies, H1N1, a brain infection) I was asked on the Likert Scale what my pain was. I believe it was during my H1N1 stay, and I launched into a monologue about the problem with the Likert Scale. As a student of psychology, the Likert scale is very fallible. It is based on the feelings of the person at that one moment on time. It is not measurable. You can not quantitatively measure it and it cannot be rooted in science. You are dosing out medication that is highly potent based on a feeling.

Obviously, I wasn’t at the hospital because I felt 100%, but I didn’t feel like I was without a limb. I could be a whole lot worse, and I know that there are people who were doing a lot worse than I. Putting a number on what I felt could change instantaneously based on a quick movement at any time. So, I wasn’t really able to give a number based on this crazy scale. Especially for my whole body.

I think we are very soft as Americans right now. I know that we often feel uncomfortable and want something to soothe our pain that will take this uncomfortable feeling away. But sometimes we have to get through that feeling to find something better in life. Working through something is important. Often the pain we are feeling is to let us know that there is something wrong and if we mask that pain with medication we won’t be able to find out that there is something wrong. If we continually take Tylenol every time we have headaches, we might not find out we have brain cancer.

There are reasons for pain, and there are reasons to push through pain. The Likert Scale is not a good way of measuring pain and has lead our society into a very dark place with OxyContin and Oxycodone.

Who are the experts?

For over a year, Americans and people around the world have been told to “Trust the Experts”.

But who are the experts?

And why should we trust them?

I love looking at the psychological drive and motivation of people and why they do the things that they do. Are people searching for power? Fame? Money? A pat on the back? Others to like them?

Our experts such as Dr. Fauci, Dr. Walensky, and many other experts in Finance, politics, and foreign affairs (for example) are only experts at the time because they are the people whose voices are amplified at the moment.

Which experts do you trust? And why do you call them an expert? Is it because you know that they have previous experience or that you have faith that they will lead through a difficult time? Do you trust yourself or your neighbor to do the right thing? Do you need constant intervention in your life by the government to dictate what can and cannot be done every moment you live.

We are living in some precarious times. Many in our nation do not know the history of our country or the history of other countries. They do not know the history of oppressive regimes nor do they care to understand them. Their day to day life is unaffected, so it is of no consequence to them, even though they would like to claim oppression. Unfortunately, because of their desire to hand freedom to the government, we soon will all become oppressed by the government our forefathers’ created to keep us from a dictatorial and monarchial oppression.