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Rep. Gene Green Votes in Support of Health Care Reform

Rep. Gene Green voted in support of H.R. 3590, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and H.R. 4872, The Reconciliation Act of 2010.

Rep. Green released the following statement in support of the legislation:

“While no bill is perfect, my greatest concern is ensuring that the people of our district have greater access to healthcare. Your health care decisions shouldn’t be made by the government or by an insurance company. Your health care decisions should be made by you. This bill expands coverage to 30 million U.S. citizens including 223,500 in our district.

This is middle-of-the-road legislation that builds on the private insurance system that we current have. This is also a market-based approach, not a government takeover or government option, that utilizes insurance exchanges to pool individuals together – who don’t have employer-based insurance and would otherwise be on their own to secure insurance – in order to reduce exorbitant premiums. The legislation includes significant consumer protections and improves Medicare benefits for 56,000 seniors in our district.

In addition 217,000 residents in our district will receive improved employer-based coverage, 34,500 residents will no longer be denied coverage for preexisting conditions and no one will be denied coverage because of health status or gender. The time for health reform has come and these benefits to our district are essential.”

Editor’s Note: Gene Green is the Democratic Congressman from District 29. The district includes Baytown (south of I-10), Channelview, South Houston and Northeast Harris County. He has served in Congress since 1992.

Congressman Ron Paul: Legislation doesn’t stand up well against economic realities

Congressman Ron Paul issued the following editorial following the March 20 vote.

Following months of heated public debate and aggressive closed-door negotiations, Congress finally cast a historic vote on healthcare late Sunday evening. It was truly a sad weekend on the House floor as we witnessed further dismantling of the Constitution, disregard of the will of the people, explosive expansion of the reach of government, unprecedented corporate favoritism, and the impending end of quality healthcare as we know it.

Those in favor of this bill touted their good intentions of ensuring quality healthcare for all Americans, as if those of us against the bill are against good medical care. They cite fanciful statistics of deficit reduction, while simultaneously planning to expand the already struggling medical welfare programs we currently have. They somehow think that healthcare in this country will be improved by swelling our welfare rolls and cutting reimbursement payments to doctors who are already losing money. It is estimated that thousands of doctors will be economically forced out of the profession should this government fuzzy math actually try to become healthcare reality. No one has thought to ask what good mandatory health insurance will be if people can’t find a doctor.

Legislative hopes and dreams don’t always stand up well against economic realities. Frustratingly, this legislation does not deal at all with the real reasons access to healthcare is a struggle for so many – the astronomical costs. If tort reform was seriously discussed, if the massive regulatory burden on healthcare was reduced and reformed, if the free market was allowed to function and apply downward pressure on healthcare costs as it does with everything else, perhaps people wouldn’t be so beholden to insurance companies in the first place. If costs were lowered, more people could simply pay for what they need out of pocket, as they were able to do before government got so involved. Instead, in the name of going after greedy insurance companies, the federal government is going to make people even more beholden to them by mandating that everyone buy their product! Hefty fines are due from anyone found to have committed the heinous crime of not being a customer of a health insurance company. We will need to hire some 16,500 new IRS agents to police compliance with all these new mandates and administer various fines. So in government terms, this is also a jobs bill. Never mind that this program is also likely to cost the private sector some 5 million jobs.

Of course, the most troubling aspect of this bill is that it is so blatantly unconstitutional and contrary to the ideals of liberty. Nowhere in the constitution is there anything approaching authority for the Federal government to do any of this. The founders would have been horrified at the idea of government forcing citizens to become consumers of a particular product from certain government approved companies. 38 states are said to already be preparing legal and constitutional challenges to this legislation, and if the courts stand by their oaths, they will win. Protecting the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, should be the court’s responsibility. Citizens have a responsibility over their own life, but they also have the liberty to choose how they will live and protect their lives. Healthcare choices are a part of liberty, another part that is being stripped away. Government interference in healthcare has already infringed on choices available to people, but rather than getting out of the way, it is entrenching itself, and its corporatist cronies, even more deeply.

Editor’s Note: Ron Paul is the Republican Congressman from District 14. The district includes Chambers County. He has served District 14 since 1997.

Congressman Ted Poe: The government control of healthcare in unconstitutional

Congressman Ted Poe presented the following speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Mar 20.

Mr. Speaker, the Constitution of the United States of America was written by our Founding Fathers to limit the size of government. The Constitution sets limits on what the government can do for us and what the government can do to us.

The people decide what is best for themselves and our country, not the all-seeing eye of the federal government. James Monroe said in 1788 at the Virginia convention to ratify the United States Constitution, “how prone all human institutions have been to decay, how difficult it has been for mankind in the ages and countries to preserve their dearest rights and best privileges, imperiled as they were by an irresistible fate of tyranny.”

Now the tyrannical all-seeing eye of the federal government is trying to take care of us. The government doesn’t think we know how to take care of ourselves, so it must come in and take care of us. We are to be made subjects incapable of taking care of our own health. Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government given any authority to control the people’s health, not one place. George Washington didn’t fight the redcoats so people could be the subjects of the new, oppressive, and untrustworthy federal bureaucracy. The colonists didn’t die in the War of Independence so a healthcare czar could rule over us.

The government takeover of healthcare is unconstitutional. And if this bill passes, the Texas attorney general and 30 other State attorneys general are prepared to sue the federal government for an exercise of unconstitutional action because this bill is unconstitutional. It forces Americans to buy health insurance against their will. And if people don’t buy the insurance, they will face fines or go to jail. And on top of that, it forces people to buy government-approved health insurance. That means the Feds tell people they have to buy the federal-approved insurance, and it tells them what insurance they must buy. That’s not allowed under any stretch of the law or imagination. That is unconstitutional.

And of course, in this bill they are hiring 16,000 new IRS healthcare police to enforce that dictate. The IRS healthcare police will verify that American citizens have acceptable healthcare insurance every month. I say American citizens because illegals are exempt from paying healthcare fines and taxes, although illegals can receive coverage in this bill.

The healthcare bill also violates the people’s right to privacy. People’s most secret, private, intimate medical records will become the property of the U.S. government. Healthcare busybody bureaucrats will burrow through private medical records and decide what medical care people are allowed to have. Healthcare bureaucrats will stick their nose into private banking accounts and their records to decide how much people have to pay for that health insurance. They will be able to seize tax refunds, bank accounts, garnished wages all in the name of forcing people to buy insurance for their own good. And of course, this is in the bill.

This power grab is not about health, and it’s certainly not about care. It’s about liberty. It’s about federal government control over people’s lives against their will. The federal government has no right to dictate to the people their healthcare needs. And in my opinion, it’s unconstitutional.

Most of the American people oppose the government plan to take over this healthcare. There were thousands of people here today making their voices known that they are opposed to this bill. It costs too much, it borrows too much, it taxes too much, it’s inefficient, and it gives government bureaucrats the control of our medical decisions.

Even Thomas Jefferson talked about government-run healthcare. He said, “If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”

Mr. Speaker, government-run healthcare is unconstitutional, and it’s unhealthy for everyone. We must remember the Constitution says and begins with “We the People,” not “We the Subjects.”

And that’s just the way it is.

Editor’s Note: Ted Poe is the Republican Congressman from District 2. The district includes Highlands, Crosby and Liberty County. He has served in Congress since 2006.

Where’s the Motto? Revisiting an urban legend


MEANDERINGS
By Bobby Horn Jr.

I love urban legends and folklore. They have got to be my favorite styles of literature. We have all seen them, and probably told a few ourselves. That story that is so remarkable that it couldn’t be true but the storyteller swears it is. The strange occurrence that happened to a friend of a friend (called FOAF by folklorists). We know many of them: alligators in the sewer, the escaped mental patient with the hook hand, spider eggs in bubble gum.

I was happy when one arrived in the newspaper’s inbox this week related to the U.S. $1 coins and the apparent removal of the motto “In God We Trust.”

This is the text of that email:

“Refuse to accept these when they are handed to you. I received one from the Post Office as change and I asked for a dollar bill instead. The lady just smiled and said ‘way to go’, so she had read this e-mail. Please help out… our world is in enough trouble without this too!!!!! U.S.Government to Release New Dollar Coins You guessed it ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ IS GONE!!! If ever there was a reason to boycott something, THIS IS IT!!!! DO NOT ACCEPT THE NEW DOLLAR COINS AS CHANGE. Together we can force them out of circulation.”

Let me put your minds at ease… this is an urban legend.

The story first appeared in the “Tallahassee Democrat” on Feb. 24, 2007. On June 19, 2007 the Associated Press ran an erroneous story about the U.S. Mint deliberately leaving off the nation’s motto.

The issue comes from the minting of a new Presidential series of dollar coins in 2007, in which the motto was printed on the edge of the coin rather than face like other coins.

However, many people not seeing the motto in its usual place assumed it was gone.

To be completely fair, a few coins escaped the U.S. Mint in 2007 without the motto. These were minting errors, not unknown in the minting process, and were not deliberate attempts.

So widespread was the rumor that congressional action was taken. When Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 it included language that the U.S. Mint return the motto to the face of the coins within a timely manner.

Since 2009 the motto has appeared on the face of the coins, including the 2010 set which will feature Presidents Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan and Lincoln.

I thank the reader for sending me another urban legend for my collection, and I welcome other readers to send me their favorites as well.

Not all those who wander are lost– J.R.R. Tolkien

The lifeblood of our all-volunteer army

TEXAS TIMES
By SEN. JOHN CORNYN

The United States Army is the finest in the world. Throughout our country’s history, these brave men and women have demonstrated unparalleled patriotism, valor, and resolve. I join my fellow Texans in saluting the often unsung efforts of the American Soldier.

The Army’s achievements would not be possible without the efforts of its Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) Corps. These Soldiers — ranging in rank from Corporal to Command Sergeant Major and responsible for the “nuts and bolts” of daily training and operations in the Army at home and overseas — are truly the backbone of the Army. Oftentimes, commissioned officers are the public face of the Army, but NCOs work behind the scenes to get things done. Whether it’s the drill sergeant training new Soldiers, the squad leader caring for young Soldiers and their families, or the platoon sergeant leading a patrol in Iraq or Afghanistan, NCOs are out front, making things happen Army-wide every day.

The U.S. Army is celebrating 2009 as the “Year of the Non-Commissioned Officer.” Since 1775, the NCO Corps has distinguished itself as the world’s most accomplished group of military professionals. Historical and current accounts of NCO actions are exemplified by acts of courage coupled with a dedication and willingness to do whatever it takes to complete the mission. NCOs have been celebrated for decorated service throughout our nation’s military history – ranging from Valley Forge to Gettysburg, to charges on Omaha Beach and battles along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, to the current operations in the mountains of Afghanistan and streets of Iraq. The recent actions of Texas’ own Staff Sergeant Matthew Kinney, from Nacogdoches, represent the tremendous level of leadership, dedication and courage epitomized by the Army’s NCOs.

Staff Sergeant Kinney had already served twice in Iraq when he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008. Kinney, a flight medic, responded to an urgent MEDEVAC request for four casualties in the rugged Korengal Valley of Afghanistan on October 16th. Once on the ground, Staff Sergeant Kinney discovered six American casualties in a small mud hut, as well as several other Soldiers taking cover from fire.

Demonstrating strong and decisive leadership in a very difficult situation, Kinney ordered all nonwounded Soldiers to secure the outside area as he triaged the casualties and stabilized the critically wounded. As hoist operations began, the aircraft and the shelter came under heavy machine gun fire. While completing a hoist, Kinney was able to locate the direction of the fire and redirect Apache gunships to take out the enemy threat, ultimately saving the crew in their MEDEVAC aircraft as well as the Soldiers still on the ground. As Kinney continued the evacuation, he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire as he diligently cared for his fellow Soldiers, without regard for his own physical well-being. Then, while en route to the Forward Surgical Team’s location, Kinney single-handedly treated the wounds of five critical patients.

His heroic actions that day earned him a Silver Star, our nation’s third highest military award for valor. He has also been awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for a separate engagement in Afghanistan.

Staff Sergeant Kinney epitomizes the critical role played by our Army’s NCOs, and he and other NCOs like him provide the gold standard for others to follow. Today’s NCOs are more innovative and capable than ever; they lead by example, all while taking care of their fellow Soldiers, adapting to ever-changing environments, and taking on growing responsibilities. This year of recognition for our Army NCOs serves as an opportunity for Texans and all Americans to become better acquainted with the significant functions that NCOs carry out within our Army. They are truly a national treasure, deserving of our utmost gratitude and respect.

Please join me in celebrating the accomplishments of Staff Sergeant Kinney and these fine American patriots. I applaud the efforts of the Army’s NCOs as they train and fight every day to preserve our way of life and care for the American Soldier. I also offer my sincere thanks to our Army NCO veterans who have sacrificed in defense of our freedom and who continue to represent the best of both Texas and the United States. I am humbled by your dedicated service. Well done!

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Finance, Judiciary and Budget Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Opinion: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act needed

Rep. Gene Green last week voted in support of H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This legislation will help Americans become more globally competitive and energy independent, modernize our infrastructure and healthcare systems, invest in the future of education, while providing unprecedented accountability and transparency. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was approved by a vote of 246-183, and will be sent to President Obama this week for his signature.

“Today, Congress took action and passed a responsible solution that will put America on the road to recovery,” said Rep. Green. “We are not looking simply to provide a crutch for Americans who have lost their jobs. Our investment in the workforce is designed to not only rebuild America, but to transform our economy for long-term growth and make Americans globally competitive in growing industries like green collar jobs, new energy markets, and health care information and technologies.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will create and save 3 to 4 million jobs and prepare our economy for long-term growth. This legislation focuses on the struggling economy today and on creating a sustained workforce for tomorrow. ARRA includes strong oversight and public transparency. More than three quarters of all Americans favor this legislation.

“Right now Texas has an unemployment rate of 6 percent, and it is estimated that the Recovery package will create or save over 269,000 jobs in Texas alone,” said Green.

A staggering 3.6 million American jobs have been lost since this recession began in December 2007. High unemployment and rising costs have outpaced Americans’ paychecks. The Recovery Act will help workers train and find jobs, and help struggling families make ends meet. Every dollar in unemployment or food stamp creates at least $1.63 in economic activity, as these funds are spent quickly. 95 percent of Americans will receive an immediate tax cut.

This jobs and economic recovery act contains plans to create or save 269,000 jobs in Texas over the next two years, provide a “Making Work Pay” tax cut of up to $800 for over 8 million workers and their families immediately, and modernize the state’s infrastructure and create jobs with an extra $2.8 billion dollars in funding.

“We cannot afford to wait. Our economy is crumbling, workers are being laid off, people are losing their health insurance, and families are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet,” said Rep. Green. “This legislation will start us back on the right track by looking out for those who have been most affected, and by broadly investing in multiple sectors of our economy. It will take time to turn this economy around, but I am confident that this package will make our economy stronger.”

Gene Green is the Democratic Congressman for East Harris County.

Opinion: Just say no to largest spending bill in U.S. history

Dear Neighbors,

Today, Congress passed the largest spending bill in our nation’s history – I voted NO.

This morning, before the vote, I was talking to my friend Sammy Mahan from Baytown, Texas, and I shared our conversation on the House floor today. Like most Americans, he was concerned about his business and what this is going to cost.

Sammy owns a wrecker business and has five wreckers under his service. He asked me, “How are we going to pay for it?” And I said, “Well, we don’t have the money so we are probably going to have to borrow it, maybe from the Chinese. Eventually there is going to be a tax increase.”

And he asked, “How much is it going to cost?” I said, “$790 billion.” Then he said, “No. How much is it going to cost me?” I replied, “It is about $10,000 per family, is what they say.”

Then he said, “Well, I don’t have $10,000; and unlike you government boys, I can’t spend money I don’t have. So I want you to opt me out of this deal.” And I asked, “What do you mean, opt you out?” He replied, “Give me a form. I want to sign it. You take $10,000 off that $790 billion. I don’t want to pay it because I don’t have the money.”

I suspect that if most Americans read this bill and they realized how much it was going to cost them personally they would agree with Sammy. And since people I represent can’t opt out, I am going to opt out for them.

Congress needs to come up with a plan that actually stimulates our economy by addressing the problems that got us here, not creating more. But in another failed attempt to save the day, Congress continued down the same path of careless and wasteful spending and voted 246 – 183 to pass this misguided spending bill loaded with pork. Congress needs to act to revive our economy, but a bill loaded with pet projects and more government programs is not the way to financial salvation. Government is not the answer – it is the problem.

Allowing Americans to keep more of their own money by providing tax cuts for everyone who pays federal income tax is the only proven method of giving the economy the shot in the arm it needs to recover. We do not need more government jobs, we need to allow our small businesses to increase their productivity and create jobs that will last. I believe that Americans know how to best spend their money, not the Washington elites.

Ted Poe is the Republican congressman for East Harris and West Liberty County.

Texas Times by Sen. John Cornyn: ‘Texas Uncorked’

You’ve heard it described as medium heavy, sweet and low in sulfates. Its presence pre-dates the arrival of the first Anglo-American settlers to Texas. And today, its industry pumps millions in revenue into the Texas economy each year.

While crude oil may first come to mind, this liquid is Texas wine. More than three centuries ago — long before the first wine grapes arrived in Napa Valley — Franciscan priests brought grapevines from Mexico and planted the first North American vineyard at Ysleta, perhaps the oldest town in Texas, along the Rio Grande near presentday El Paso. These grapes provided the priests and missionaries with sacramental wine for the Eucharist.

Over the next 200 years, the El Paso Valley would be recognized by travelers for its grape-growing capabilities and wine production. The concept of viticulture did not really gain traction in the rest of the state until settlers from European countries like Spain, Italy, and Czechoslovakia brought their interest in wine and the European vinefera vines to Texas. These European vines did not take well to the Texas climate, local pests, and fungus, however, and many of these initial efforts did not survive.

After these setbacks, German immigrants who settled in the 1840s in South and Central Texas — founding Hill Country cities such as Fredericksburg and New Braunfels — learned to adapt their process and incorporate local Mustang grapes, a high-climbing vine native to Texas and well adapted to heat. By adding more sugar during fermentation, they produced commercial wine and are largely recognized as the most successful wine-makers in Texas history.

Meanwhile, back along the Texas-Mexico border, an Italian immigrant, Frank Qualia, found success with the Lenoir grape, a Spanish black grape, in Del Rio, Texas. He started the Val Verde Winery, and today, as the only Texas winery to survive the Prohibition, it remains the oldest continuously running winery in Texas and still uses the Lenoir grape.

One of Texas’ most famous grape breeders was horticulturist Thomas Volney Munson, more simply known as T.V. Munson. A native of Illinois, Munson moved to Denison, Texas in 1876. While he devoted much of his life to the study of native American grapes, his work on rootstock development would earn him international acclaim. In Denison, Munson researched and developed rootstock that was resistant to phylloxera—tiny, yellow insects that feed on roots of grapevines and had severely damaged many native American grapevines. In the late 19th century, a phylloxera epidemic devastated the French wine industry—destroying almost two-thirds of France’s vineyards. Little did they know the solution to their problem would come from an American horticulturist in Denison, Texas. Munson’s phylloxera-resistant rootstock saved the industry in France and in gratitude to his contribution, the French government named him Chevalier du Merite Agricole of the French Legion of Honor, and the city of Cognac, France became a sister city to Denison. Today, Grayson County College’s West Campus houses much of Munson’s research and work.

After the Prohibition, the Texas wine industry was slow to get back on its feet. But as the grape culture began to boom in the U.S. in the 1970s, so did the number of vineyards that began popping up across Texas—beginning with the establishment of the Llano Estacado and Pheasant Ridge wineries near Lubbock. Today, Texas is home to nearly 3,700 acres of family-owned vineyard land, including eight American Viticulture Areas—wine grape-growing regions that have been identified by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Texas is America’s fifth-leading grape and wine producer and the industry contributes more than $1.35 billion to the state’s economy.

In its February issue, Bon Appetit magazine lists Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, Texas as one of seven of its favorite wineries off the beaten path. As our state’s wineries and vintners continue to gain national and international attention, fortunately, we don’t have to travel far to enjoy the unique Texas wine culture. Wine trails through vineyards across the state occur throughout the year. In late February, the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association holds its Annual Conference & Trade Show, which brings together members of the industry from every region of Texas.

The Texas wine industry is yet another hallmark in Texas’s long history of ingenuity and achievement. Let’s toast to the men and women who have built up this industry and wish them many more years of success.

An Underground Movement via MySpace

By AISHA FARHOUD
“Rock hasn’t died, it’s just moved underground”
That’s what someone said to me when I told him rock was dead. At the time I thought it was just a nicer way of saying it was dead, but I’m beginning to realize that the underground movement in music is growing stronger by the minute with the help of the Internet.
Popular networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook aren’t just for teenagers looking to message their friends anymore, these sites are becoming powerful tools for musical groups. Musicians can create a profile and upload full-length songs off of their latest album, list upcoming tour dates and locations, post photos and articles, and, perhaps more importantly, include a link to a page where fans can purchase their album on mp3. Fans can add their favorite performers to their friends list, further increasing Internet exposure.
In essence, the music industry is changing completely thanks to these websites. 10 years ago we wondered what tiny media we would be purchasing for our music, as the bulky record had transformed into the cassette tape and then the nearly paper-thin CD. But with the advent of the mp3, tangible music media began to vanish. Even MTV has let music fans down, evolving from a kooky 24-hour music video channel into a commercialized empire that airs programs such as “The Hills” and “Pimp My Ride” over music videos in what looks like a ratio of 20:1.
A few nights ago I went to a concert of a band named I Am X (with Chris Corner of the Sneaker Pimps, a trip-hop group that had decent radio exposure in the mid-90s). I stumbled upon their MySpace page and noticed that under “Label” they listed “Unsigned”. Yet the turnout at the concert was fairly good, and they seem to have a pretty strong fan following, with some people travelling all over the state to see them perform. This means that even without label support bands are able to sell digital copies of their albums and organize concert performances; websites such as MySpace and Facebook help them do just that. The music industry has definitely taken notice. Universal Music even threatened to sue MySpace over “copyright infringement” in 2006, which arguably shows that they felt endangered by the website’s increasing prominence.
It appears as though television is following a similar path with the help of websites such as YouTube. In fact, I know several people who no longer own a television and instead watch their favorite TV shows online. Although YouTube frequently deletes copyrighted videos uploaded by users, this does not stop them from reappearing later, nor does it stop similar websites from offering copyrighted material (in a similar fashion to what happened after the music-sharing network Napster was shut down in 2001). We may even see independent television shows and movies appearing on websites such as YouTube in the near future.
The revolution will indeed not be televised, but rather broadcast over the internet for all to see.

Aisha Farhoud is the Youth Editor of the Northeast News. She can be reached by email at aishafarhoud, yahoo

The end is the beginning…

As new columnists, we would like to use this first opportunity to introduce ourselves to you and let you know a little bit about who we are and where we are.
For us, one summer has ended, but another is just beginning. As the leaves transform from green to gold, we too are changing. At 22, we are no longer in the spring of our lives, when everything is beautiful and new. Now things are heating up, making us sweat, working up our thirst. This is not like the season of play we used to anticipate so eagerly. This is our transition into the so-called Real World.
Even though we have been best friends for the past 8 years, we find ourselves entering this new phase in very different ways. One is back in Texas, where we were born and raised; the other moved 1,100 miles away to Ohio. How did we get to these places? Summer brought us here.

* * *
Kristan
On May 21st, I carried the last cardboard box from my dorm room to my car. With a mixture of reluctance and excitement, I closed the trunk, settled in behind the wheel, and pulled away from campus. Looking in the rearview mirror, what did I see? A beautiful university, an exciting city, and four of the best years of my life. And when I looked ahead? The great unknown.
Well, not completely unknown. From a map, I learned that “Cincinasty” sits in the bottom left corner of Ohio. From my boyfriend, who graduated and moved there a year before me, I learned that the city serves as corporate headquarters to Procter & Gamble, the company that gives us Crest, Charmin, Tide, and every other consumer product we need to survive. From the United States Post Office, I learned that it’s spelled C-I-N-C-I-N-N-A-T-I, not C-I-N-C-I-N-A-T-T-I. Oops.
So, Cincinnati, OH is home to Steven Spielberg, Ken Griffey Jr., Nick Lachey, and now, me. I was fortunate enough to get a job offer just two days before graduation, so it was bye bye summer, hello 9-to-5. I jumped straight into my new city and my new career, making me wonder, whatever happened to baby steps?
But I guess that’s the point: I’m not a baby anymore. Not even a kid. I’m an adult, more or less, and this is how it goes. Work, eat, pay bills, sleep. Repeat.
To tell you the truth, it’s really not that bad. There are things I miss, like my family and friends, but I sincerely enjoy my work, I have a roof over my head, and the weather here is great! Truly I am very grateful for all of that.
But there’s something missing. Though I am doing a lot of things for myself—reading for leisure, practicing piano, playing sports—I feel less personally fulfilled than I did in college. As a Resident Assistant and student leader, I practically had meaning thrown at me. I assisted my fellow undergrads almost 24 hours a day, arranging study groups, volunteering sessions, or trips to the emergency room. While I don’t necessarily want to be on-call all the time again, I do want to feel like I’m contributing to my community in some larger way.
In school, it’s so easy. Every day, we are given purpose and value. Through education, through leadership, through personal interactions. But out here, in the Real World, we lose a lot of that. We struggle, because suddenly we are in a void. We cannot find meaning. We have to make it.
So that’s what I’m doing now. Working and writing, yes. Exploring a new city and taking new steps in my relationship, yes. But most of all, I am trying to make meaning in my life, with my life. Because that’s what really matters to me.
* *
To be continued…
Kristan Hoffman and Angie Liang have been friends since middle school. Kristan is the daughter of newspaper publisher Gilbert Hoffman, and both she and Angie worked for the paper during summers. Currently Angie is a graduate student in advertising at the University of Texas in Austin, and Kristan works at a graphic design firm in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Kristan and Angie would love to hear from you! Email JBUcolumn@gmail.com.

Rotary hears of advances at San Jacinto Hospital; Washer Tournament a success with 32 teams participating

HIGHLANDS– Rotarians were busy in this town as they hosted the annual Washer Tournament at Charlie’s Ice House, and then helped him celebrate his 15th year in business.
The 2nd annual Washer Tournament is a benefit, to raise money for the Community activities of the club, according to president Charlie Ward. Approximately $7000 was raised in the event, with several hundred people turning out to participate in the tournament, the silent auction, or just to cheer on their favorite players.
The event was held all day, last Saturday, Sept. 22, at Charlie’s Ice House on N. Main St.
Because the Highlands Rotary Club has such a strong reputation among the other 56 Rotary Clubs in the greater Houston area, for fun and successful fundraising, many city wide Rotarians turned out for this event.
Blaine Springer was judged the Grand Champion Washer Thrower. First Place Team was Blaine’s Bunch; Second, Unstabalized; and Third, Unit 4.
Speaker at Luncheon
Rotarians also listened this week at their luncheon to Dr. Jeff Ackerman, CEO of San Jacinto Methodist Hospital in Baytown, who spoke on the history of the hospital, and recent improvements in the facilities and services offered.
Since its inception in 1944, founded by Humble Oil, the hospital has served a large population in East Harris, Chambers and Liberty County that otherwise would not have access to good medical services. It affiliated with the Methodist system in 1983, and built its new bulding in 1988.
SJMC now has 270 beds in 2 hospital buildings, and serves 15,000 admissions and 100,000 outpatients a year. There are 300 physicians on staff or affiliated, Ackerman said.
He noted that the public perception of the facility has improved considerably, and that it now ranks in the top group of Houston hospitals in many ratings.
He noted that recent Initiatives have included a Cancer Center, Stroke Center, Cardiac Rehab, and soon a Chest Pain Center.