Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Amazon.com vs North Carolina Department of Revenue

First of all, I am not from North Carolina. But I recently read about a case that is currently being dealt with in which North Carolina wants to audit Amazon.com to make sure that the customers in North Carolina are being taxed a certain way. That in itself sounds fine. The controversial part of the case: The North Carolina Department of Revenue wants information that includes the names of all NC residents who have purchased from Amazon.com since 2003, their addresses, and what they bought. All NC needs to be able to audit the situation is the items that were purchased and how much was paid for them. The personalized information of the customers is NOT necessary. This case has spurred debate that Amazon.com should not have to provide that information and even has several plaintiffs in this case. Many people (in theory) are not ashamed of what they purchase, but for some people, they may purchase books on subjects such as mental health, religion, sex, and politics. What a person's opinion is on each of these subjects and every other subject should be their own business, but if this information of who is purchasing what books become public, some people are worried about the ramifications that it could have pertaining to their job and livelihood.

People should not have to worry about private information becoming a public matter. It should be up to the individual to decide what they would like to be public about themselves and what they would like to keep private. Everyone is entitled to privacy and many people are citing that this is an invasion of our First Amendment rights. This case has involved not only the two parties, but Amazon.com has also enlisted the help of the ACLU - the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU is an organization that was created to make sure that we are all allowed to live by the rights we have been given. They deal with many issues and encourage people to talk to their senators and state representatives, which is something we should all be doing to make sure that our voices are heard. With this case becoming so public, the ACLU has encouraged people to write to their senators and representatives about updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which would keep our electronic information safe, including in situations like this. If you would like to learn about the ACLU - you can visit www.aclu.org.

It's amazing how little control we have over our privacy these days...

Crazy Idea

Here's an idea: Let's pay kids money for doing well in school. That's an idea that I thought was insane when I first saw it addressed in the April 19, 2010 issue of Time magazine. Kids were being paid money for doing various things. During this experiment, kids in Dallas got paid money based on the number of books they read. In Chicago, money was given based on their grades. In Washington D.C., money was rewarded based on factors such as attendance and behavior. In New York City, money was given based on test scores. This idea that kids should be rewarded for factors dealing with school just seems weird to me. Growing up, I was not paid for getting good grades or going to school every day. The only time I was ever paid money for reading was when I was raising money for Multiple Sclerosis (so I never actually made any money from it). Luckily, I was brought up with the belief that I should do well in school so that I would have more opportunities in my life - plus, I liked learning.

It seems that these days, most kids in inner city schools don't really do well in school because they don't put the effort in. I can understand kids not always being in class (there are circumstances where they might not be), but I don't understand kids dropping out because they aren't a fan of school. There are plenty of kids, all over the country, who don't necessarily enjoy school. But they still go. I realize that there are many schools that don't have the funding to be able to create more opportunities for their students. I firmly believe that there should be grants and other financial assistance for those schools so that kids have something to look forward to at school. I understand the idea of trying to get kids to read more by rewarding them, but I don't necessarily think it should be in the form of money - although when I think about it, that is basically how a lot of people live their lives. A lot of people in the world have jobs that they don't like, but go to work to make money. Kids may not enjoy school, but they go to make money (which seems to be the concept with this experiment).

Of course, everyone has an opinion on what is right for education in our country and I totally respect other opinions on any subject. This is definitely one of those articles to check out if you have kids or are thinking about having kids - heck, this article would be great for everyone to read because it gives us an idea of what could be taking place in our nation's schools in the future.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Birthday Celebrations

So two days ago (June 26), I celebrated my 24th birthday. There was nothing different about the day or what took place, but it really made me think about the 23rd year of my life and what I had or had not accomplished. I look back on the year and realize that I held one job for 5 months (a job I didn't mind, but couldn't keep because of the migraines) and was an accompanist for the middle school choirs at a high school near my home. Both had felt fairly gratifying, especially playing for the kids, but it made me think that I didn't accomplish anymore. It made me doubt what I had really done for the world. I feel like I am in the same place I was when I started - trying to be healthy, look for a job, and enjoy "me" time. But while I was busy thinking about all the things and accomplishments that I didn't have, it also made me appreciate the things that I do have:

I have a roof over my head, clothes to wear, a bed to sleep in, food to eat, books to read, a computer to blog on, a phone to talk to family and friends, and a boyfriend who has been willing to take care of me when I am not working. I thank God every night for giving me what I need to get by. Granted, if I had to, I could get by with far less, but I'm also not looking to get more physical things in my life - I just want to accomplish goals and dreams. I recently found a poem called "I Pray You Enough" by an anonymous author that really made me think about my life. Here it is:

"I Pray you Enough" Anonymous Author

I pray you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I pray you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I pray you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I pray you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I pray you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I pray you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I pray you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

Take the time to remember all the things you are thankful for and all the things you are lucky to have. I know that I need to do that more often.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Goals left unattended

So as I have stated before in a previous post, my goal this year is to read 75 books. Back in February, I had not yet started. It is now June, and I have yet to start. How incredibly embarrassing - I write a blog about books and I love to read and I have not yet started a book yet this year. Believe it or not, I am still catching up on past issues of Time and Smithsonian and Sporting News from the end of March up until now. Not only that, but I seem to be spending a lot more time on my computer instead of reading. It's mostly because I am watching sports, usually Twins games, and I am sitting on my computer during games instead of watching them in bed and reading at the same time. On days off for sports, that's when I try to catch up with reading. I guess I need to do a little bit better in that realm.

I was reading an article from my friend Steven, who has an incredible blog called Hundred Goals (you can find the link in my blogroll). It was about how it takes a lot of work and dedication to be able to achieve our goals in life, and it made me realize how much I have been slacking on my goals. I am still trying to figure out what my goals are in life, and I am sure that they will change as I grow older. Right now, I'm just trying to get better from the migraines and dizziness that don't seem to go away, I am just trying to find a way to help my boyfriend out when it comes to bills. But without a job, that can be kind of difficult. I'm trying to think of ways to make some money and jobs that I could get that wouldn't exacerbate my health problems. The prospects are pretty thin right now, but I am trying to keep my chin up. I know that I am the only one who can find out what my goals are in life and I have to keep trying to figure that out as I continue to learn more about myself. What are some of your goals and how are you working to achieve them?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


You know what one of the greatest things in the world is? Sports. It's one of the most incredible things in the world. The games bring ups and downs, celebrations and defeat. Now I am not a huge Detroit Tigers fan (I'm a MN Twins fan), but Armando Gallaraga had a chance at throwing a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians. A perfect game -- it's one of the most incredible things to see in baseball and brings tears to my eyes when I get to see one, even if it is only on tv. Gallaraga had to get only one more out and as (what would have been) the last batter slapped a ball to the 1st base side of the field, Gallaraga went to cover 1st base. The ball was passed to him and he stepped on the bag, a split second before the runner stepped on the base. He clearly had gotten the guy out, but the 1st base umpire (Jim Joyce) called the run safe. Replays showed that Joyce had gotten the call wrong, but the call could not and would not be reversed. A travesty in the world of baseball.

One of the other most exciting things to watch is the NHL Stanley Cup finals. It's incredible to watch grown men rush around on ice, giving everything they have for that amazingly gorgeous and very heavy cup. It's definitely something that not many things can compare with.

Competition is one of the most wonderful things that can take place -- and watching it take place in sports is one of the greatest things to experience. There is something incredible about rooting for your team, feeling like you really are a part of the team itself. In fact, when I talk about my favorite teams, I use the phrase "we", as if I'm talking about my teammates. The victories and the devastation of sports is what makes life so exciting. Sports epitomizes what life is all about. A series of victories and defeats, but still getting out there the next day and trying again to get a win.

So here is my question from my last post and here is my own answer:

Question: Do you judge people based on their taste in music? How has musical taste enhanced or detracted from your relationships?

Answer: I do not judge people based on their musical tastes. I feel like that would be completely wrong because there are so many people that listen to music that you wouldn't expect them to listen to when you see them. I am one of those people. I am such an eclectic person and I listen to so many types of music -- it just depends on my mood. As for how music has affected my relationships, it hasn't really changed anything. If anything, being with my boyfriend has opened my eyes to new music that I haven't had a chance to experience. I may not like everything I hear, but at least I can say that I have heard it.

My question to you this time around: Do you watch sports? Do you have a favorite sport or favorite sports team? What is one of the greatest moments in sports?

Peace and Love