Culture Channel

Desperately Seeking Mario

One of the problems that comes with a new (or, used but new to you) smartphone is that it has a phone number attached to it. In some cases, it is possible for people to transfer their old phone number from one phone to another. I didn’t transfer my old number over for many reasons, one of which was I wanted a “fresh start”.

As a result, I have gotten a number of calls, texts, and messages from people who were desperately seeking to connect with someone named Mario. I’ve never met Mario, and have absolutely no idea who he is. Even so, I’ve ended up learning a bit about his life thanks to all the people who wanted to contact him. If, by random chance, Mario is reading this… please give your friends and family your new phone number. I’d like them to stop calling me.

In general, no one calls me...

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Goodbye to My Flip-Phone

A few weeks ago, I got my very first smartphone. I’m in my early forties, so it may sound strange that I’ve never had my own smartphone until now. It was only a few years ago that I got my very first cell phone – the flip-phone you see in the photo that goes with this blog. I could have gotten a smartphone, but I truly didn’t want one. A flip-phone seemed easier.

Before I delve into my thoughts about my newly purchased iPhone 6, I wanted to write the story of the flip-phone. There were very specific reasons why I wanted an extremely basic cell phone. Things have changed since then, and the old flip-phone has outlived its usefulness.

My flip-phone was a “Go...

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Celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act

On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It is also known as the Affordable Care Act, ACA, or “Obamacare”. More than 16 million Americans have gained access to affordable health insurance as a result of this historic piece of legislation.

Personally, I can tell you that the only time in my life where I’ve had consistent health insurance coverage was due to the Affordable Care Act. It’s made a huge difference for me, both financially and emotionally (in terms of “peace of mind”). No more years of having no health insurance at all because I couldn’t afford any! No more risk of suddenly losing my health insurance because I changed jobs or became unemployed!

I’m lucky to live in California, a state that not only created a state-based health insurance marketplace, but also expanded its Medicaid program. At the time I am writing this blog, it is unknown how the Supreme Court will rule on King v Burwell. Will millions of Americans be able to continue to afford health insurance coverage? I hope so!

What follows are some of the best tweets that were in celebration of the 5th Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. Read them over. It is remarkable how many people were helped, in so many ways, by “Obamacare”. The tweets were posted on March 23, 2015 with the hashtag #ACAisWorking.

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Just say NO to the New Year’s Onslaught of Fad Diets

Fad diets are exactly that a “fad”, not a healthy lifestyle choice. Many of these diets focus on eating a large amount of just one kind of food. I have heard of the popcorn diet, the grapefruit diet, the coconut diet, the lemon diet, and the infamous “maple syrup diet”.

Other diets direct people to avoid a specific food group entirely. The Atkins diet, for example, directs people to avoid all carbohydrates, and instead substitute lots and lots of protein. This isn’t the only example of that sort of diet. Don’t be fooled by the onslaught of fad diets that pop up as soon as the New Year starts! Fad diets are not healthy lifestyle choices and rarely lead to long term success with weight loss.

Publishers are not doctors

The new ...

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The Official Holiday Guide for Retail Shoppers

Work in “retail hell” for as long as I have, and you, too, will believe that you have seen it all. Crying, screaming at high volumes, temper tantrums, pushing and shoving, …. and that’s just from the adults!  There have been countless times that I wished I could print out flyers of an etiquette guide for holiday shoppers, force people to read it, and physically remove from the store those people who just can’t manage to play nice with others!

There is nothing stopping me, however, from posting that imaginary flyer onto this blog.  It is my hope that people will read it, follow the advice in it, and make the holiday shopping season a little less stressful for those who are stuck in customer service jobs in December.  Consider this to be the Official Etiquette Guide for Holiday Shoppers.

(1) Remember the rules you le...

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Telemarketers are People Too

I used to be a telemarketer. There, I’ve said it. I’ve actually worked for several different telemarketing companies. If there is anything worse than working as a telemarketer, it is having the circumstances in your life go so badly that you end up returning to work as a telemarketer a second, or, heaven help you, a third, time.

Telemarketers are people too. They are just like you, except more desperate, less financially endowed, and, in some cases, less educated. I worked as a telemarketer on summer break from college, because I desperately needed to make money for school. Later on, I worked as a telemarketer while going to school full time, and also working two days a week at several of the local day care centers, and one night a week in an art studio, teaching “non-credit” art classes. Yes, I had three or four jobs at the time, and was a full time student.

Did I want to be a tele...

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Should Married Women Change their Last Name?

There was a time when society expected women to change their surname after marriage.  Today, there are many women who choose to follow along with that tradition.  There are also plenty of women who do not change their last name after they become married.

Which decision is the right one for you?  Should you keep your “maiden name” or should you change your surname so that you and your spouse will have the same one?  Here are some things to consider while you are making that decision.

When I got ...

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Reasons Why People Choose Not to have Children

“When are you going to have some children?”

Since I got married, I have been asked this question more times than I can calculate. I don’t understand why coworkers, relatives, and even complete strangers, feel that it is perfectly acceptable to ask me what amounts to an intensely personal question. Frequently, people who want to ask me why I choose not to have children are not curious about what my reasons actually are. Instead, they use this opening question as an opportunity to attempt to convince me about what they deem to be the virtues of procreation.

The result of all these interrogations is that I now have an entire list of reasons why I choose not to have children, that I can rattle off in rapid succession, whenever I need to.

Those of you read...

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Destroying Debt: Saving Money through Covered California

In a previous blog, I wrote that Shawn and I got our health insurance coverage through Covered California. It is the health insurance marketplace for the state of California. We ended up with a health plan that covered both me and Shawn. It cost only a few more dollars than the health plan that covered only me.

Right away, it was obvious that we were saving money by purchasing a health insurance plan through Covered California. Part of the reason was because we qualified for a subsidy. The only way to get a subsidy is to go through the marketplace (which, for us, is Covered California).

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Our “Obamacare” Story

A pink piggy bank sits next to a stack of dollar bills. A stethoscope is on the money.

Shawn and I signed up for “Obamacare” yesterday, and we got a really good health plan for a very affordable price. I wanted to share this story for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted our story to serve as a counterpoint to the hysteria that is being passed around about canceled health plans and skyrocketing rates. (ThinkProgress has a helpful guide that will teach you how to spot a fake “Obamacare” horror story).

The other reason I wanted to share our story was because it directly relates to our efforts to destroy our debt. We got a health plan that covers both of us for just a little bit more than the cost of a plan that was only covering me.

Previously, I wrote a b...

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