Thursday, November 10, 2011

News Update: The majority of Mississippi voters disapprove of setting this precendent

I don't think I'm an Anglophile, but I do definitely prefer (if I need to make a choice) reading the BBC's coverage of American Politics than the Washington Post's or The New York Times'. I think there's less goose stepping around the issue when it's an international news source.

Here's a short and sweet update about the Mississippi "personhood"/life begins at conception amendement being defeated by voters in the November 8th election (Yay!). 

Captain America wants you to think twice about suicide

If we're talking Public Health (and happily we are), I generally think of your standard public service announcements (PSAs) as nourishing detritus. For a good part of the 20th century, PSAs dominated small and large health campaigns - through radio, television, and billboard - as a main approach for health communication with the public. In this case, "main approach" should also read as "a method so wildly overused that negative connotations have been rubber cemented to the term and its acronym." Maybe not for all time, but it's quite an industrial adhesive.

ANYHOW, that said, I posit that PSAs have been and are useful; they've provided flotsam and motivation for current social marketing practices, they can be directed towards a specific audience more easily than some other methods of health promotion, and, perhaps more importantly, they've lent a basic design to a whole melting pot of creativity.

Nick Dragotta and Tim Ursiny's "Captain America: A Little Help" is a PSA. Sure, it's internet-based and it features a superhero fighting a robot, but it is trying to highlight a specific health concern: suicide. (Side note: I feel that saying "health issue," "health concern," or anything similar sounds a bit glib if I talk about suicide. Is that just me?) Specifically, the digital issue is trying to "combat" (press release's wording) suicide by presenting 12 pages in the life of a young man, Zack McKenzie, who perceives his life to be at a pressure-cooked end point. He walks up to the roof, closes his eyes, and is stepping off of the building... only to be distracted by Captain America fighting a bunch of underlings on the roof next door. Do we expect Zack to feel differently and gain a different perspective on his life after this encounter with a guy in a red,white, and blue-plastered cat suit? Um... maybe? Definitely yes?

The upsides? First, it's an interesting read for someone who is both a health communications nerd and a comic book enthusiast. It showcases an actual suicide hotline and is free. The dark negative spaces that Dragotta (as penciller) gives are interesting to the eyes.

On the other hand, the concept is, to me, the best thing about the issue. I hope that the PSA and superhero blend will become a trend and, as an accepted design, evolve as any idea should. I wish I liked this attempt better than I do, but"A Little Help" falls into several of comic book clichés that, in such a short issue, distract the viewer away from its overall good intentions.

Zack is a) not white and b) living in a ghetto. Okay, I'll bite or, rather, I'll continue to read despite the fact that I'm a bit tired of African-American characters in superhero stories seeming to only have one option for an origin story.

But then I'm stuck again, and this time it's on a technical point. I press the arrow that, I think, means "next page," but instead the comic viewer screams back up the page I just finished reading. In fact, the Adobe Flash Player feature of this comic means that pressing the comic to go "forward" means that it zooms around art so that you are sure to read every panel. That's a bit annoying to me. I don't really want to release my control on noticing what I want to notice in the comic and, with satisfaction, turning the page.

Lastly, Zack's story is obstructed by the cover art (picture at the beginning of this post). A petty slug, I know, but the cover has nothing to do with Zack... or with suicide... or any mention of depression... or with anything other than Captain America and the flag of the United States of America. The cover is completely disconnected from the rest of the comic in mood, art, and its outward intention of what is to follow.

Now I feel like I've downed this comic enough. As I said before, I think it is interesting. I hope it becomes nourishing detritus for other PSAs.

Also, even though I think it could be done better, this probably will connect with someone in a really good way. I think it has too much potential not to.

The link is here if you're so inclined.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Still posting videos from Chile



Moving Right Along...

Announcing changes to this blog! But first...

Mitchell and I have been doing a lot of that "spending time together" thing recently. We also got married just over two weeks ago. I suppose the two things are related?

Anyway, during the times when we are at home at the same time (which are wonderfully awesome times even if I'm unemployed, he's underemployed, and we both spend too much time stressing out about things we have no control over), we tend to talk. Right now, we're talking about individual endeavors that we'd like to accomplish by the end of the year. We both love fall; we both feel motivated to take on a small part of our perceived world. We both have this want (probably would phrase it more like "need") to write.

So the other day we had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: I'd like to specify my blog a bit more. I've hardly written on it.

Mitchell: Yeah. I've hardly written on mine either. Y'know... from reading authors write about writing and from reading my dad's blog, I've realized what... well, what we both should do. *pointed look* Write. Every. Day. It doesn't matter how long it is. It doesn't matter if it's crap. And yes, I realize it's funny to have me saying this. [Mitchell is, perhaps, more of a perfectionist writer than I am].

Me: No. I think that's great. I would like to write everyday. I've just... I've lost what I'm writing about. I haven't written almost at all since I got back from Chile (I hardly wrote while I was there). My blog title is too general. "Urban Health" and "Pop Culture"? That's too broad; I could write about anything with that subject line, and I keep feeling like I've got to be more complete.

Mitchell: Yeah, you.

A couple of days pass. Then today (over a baked turkey and pesto sandwich):

Me: I want to start writing. Seriously, what should my blog be about? What do you think?
Mitchell paused, thought, laughed, almost choked on his food, and then said,

You could make it about Linda Holmes' worst nightmare... talk about "The Ghost Map" and disease, go see "Contagion", talk about disease in movies and books...

My guy knows what I like. He knows this so well that he started describing something that my knee-jerk reaction was to go find and bookmark/list right away, and then I realized that it didn't exist yet. I needed to start writing it as soon as possible.

Yes, I've been bit by the epidemiology bug. I've also been bit by the film geek bug and the book worm bug. I'm not easily grossed out, but I am easily amazed and inquisitive.

So, my plan is this:

  • I'll use this space to write about reading books of the Science Writing genre (writing about science performed, usually, by journalists rather than scientists).
  • I'll use this space to talk about diseases (infectious and chronic) according to the movies.
  • I'll use this space to discuss recent mainstream articles on epidemiological research, and how research sometimes doesn't translate all that well into a journalistic lexicon.
  • I'll use this space to diverge a bit, sometimes, into epidemiological theory, content, and practice outside of the page or screen.
  • I'll learn more about all of these things as I go.
Let's see what happens.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Because I haven't posted recently...

I am home.

I miss Chile, but I am happy to be home. It is a dichotomy that I can live with.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Come quick! You won a prize!!!!!

Publicidad for a good cause

Happy Día Mundal sin Tabaco!

Or rather, let this be a day of health promotion and respect of public spaces and the celebration that a right-wing Chilean government may be actually promoting a good law (a law protecting a few urban public spaces from tobacco smoke, which... let´s call it a rare idea in Chile). However, don´t stigmatize people who do smoke. That accomplishes shit nothing.

Note: "Field Notes Crossover"

I added a summary of my trip so far (sadly, sans photos that may be referenced in the text. A thousand maldiciones on the upload tool and my internet connection, but I don´t have the energy to fight it right now) to the page entitled "Field Notes Crossover." This ramble will also be featured on the IE3 blog... at somepoint in the next few weeks. I have sent it in to be published, at any rate.

Share and enjoy!


 Music is essential to work, and especially to writing work.

I think one of the reasons that this blog has "failed" in my initial expectations of it is that most of my job has been writing, researching, using the computer most of the day... which is both good and bad. I love learning, and I love learning by doing. This is a type of doing. Also, I am taking this experience and applying it to program design projects of my own motivation (a photovoice project with kids? Yes please!). But, by the time I get home... I am computered out and written out. I want a bowl of warm, tasty cazuela and a nice glass of wine (and a cup of tea for later).

But, anyway... music. I have been listening to a lot of music. These are a few links that have gotten stuck in my head.

Maná - Lluvia al corazón
 (Thanks to Santiago Metro for playing this over and over and over... really, thanks.)

Adele-Rolling in the Deep

 Bruce Springsteen - Radio Nowhere
(Really I have been listening to a metric ton of Springsteen)


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Updates and preguntas

 What do you know about social determinants of health? Or how they can be highlighted through popular education? No really… I’m curious. I spend a lot of my time these days looking at articles like the one below (and this one is interesting, but fairly rote), and I am wondering how common the ideas are among people I know.

Speaking of time, how has the time passed oh-so quickly? Sometime in the beginning of last week was my trip’s half-way point (I admit, for several reasons, I didn’t look up the specific date) As of last Sunday, the 15th (that date I do know), I have less than a month left to spend in Chile. How do I feel about that?

  • Relieved. Honestly, this trip has been hard for me in a lot of ways, mostly in regards to the solitude. Yes, I have friends here. Yes, I have people I am going to stay in contact with. I work with amazing people and live with wonderful women. I am surrounded by awesome people and I am incredibly grateful for that.  But there is no one in Santiago who has known me for years (obvious from the start), and I miss having people who do know me that well in my day to day life. I miss my family. I miss my friends and my northwestern haunts. I am accustomed now to sharing my living space with my lover, and not having him here to talk to, to coexist with, after work is… well, it is has never stopped being strange. I am constantly reminded by the totality of this strangeness. In general, the majority of people in Santiago de Chile are very focused on family (friends who become family and family who become friends). I miss my family. 
  • Sad. Of course sad. I am going to miss Chile and Santiago and my new friends/family. I am going to miss going to EPES everyday (groggily stumbling into the people pile in the 8:15am Metro station at Parque Bustamante and only somewhat less groggily walking out of station La Cisterna almost an hour later). I am going to miss working at EPES. I’ll miss the communal lunches, and the stressedly running about, and the capacitation workshops that breed amazing learning environments. I am going to miss my pieza chiquitita, ferias de las pulgas, churrasco stands, the green spaces near the Centro, the DJs on alternative radio stations… I could go on, but you get the idea. I have so much left to learn here. I need to come back at somepoint.
  • Excited. I  have a job as a teaching assistant during the summer (at Portland State University) and another internship in a part of the Multnomah County Health Department (the Community Capacitation Center, which is a small center akin to a Portland version of EPES). I am also looking forward to farmer’s markets, good biking weather, coexisting with friends, public parks, free movies in the park, stacks of library books getting musty-dusty beside my bed, and kisses from Mitchell (won’t lie about that one).
  • Scared-excited. Going back means getting ready to leave higher education studies after five years. Yikes. A degree and all. 
  • Scared. Shit, I need to search for a job. I am excited by the prospect, but even more so I’m terrified of the idea of not finding or getting anything related to my chosen field. I really want to work at some level of community health or popular education. Really really really. En serio. And in Portland or its surroundings, if you please.
  • Content. Have I mentioned that this trip has helped me to focus on what I want in my life? Work, free time, todo?  If I haven’t, my mistake. I think that perhaps this is the clave (key) of this trip, and will remain that way far after I fall asleep in my own bed with mrrring cats.
I leave on the 14th. Coworkers are already insisting that we need to go out for drinks beforehand. I am concerned by the lack of time to go to ferias before I leave, and the space (or lack thereof) in my luggage for gifts to bring to friends and family. I have my first interview for the nutrition project tomorrow. I am going to propose a website in two weeks. Fast fast fast! Work work work! Closure!

And on a random note: Did you know there is such a thing as a water bear? And that they can  live in space? I did not know that. And… well, now you know.