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Australia Bound!

Do you smell that?   It's something in the air...smells like...INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL!  Yep, my long dry spell in international adventures is finally coming to an end.  Sometime in the very near future I'll be packing my bags, grabbing my passport, and heading to one of my favorite places on earth, Australia! 




I was incredibly lucky to have visited Australia while in high school with People To People.   Their motto is "Promoting peace through understanding," which I think is a pretty cool tag line.  It was a fantastic experience and I've been pining to go back to Australia ever since.  I'm really looking forward to not only to visiting, but sharing it with my parents this time. 
 
Little guy smelled terrible, but it was still one of the greatest moments of my life.

I don't know why, but I was obsessed with getting this picture at the petting zoo.

To my great surprise, I learned I was a wizard at milking cows.
   Even though the trip is in the very near future, I only found out it was happening this week and we don't even know exactly what we are doing yet.  We know we will spend most of the time in Melbourne since that's where my Dad's business trip is centered, but we may also venture to other regions.  I'm hoping for a trip to Brisbane and Tangalooma, but really, just being able to travel for a reason other than needing neurosurgery is fantastic.   

There's a lot of planning that needs to happen in a short amount of time.  I've been busy researching things to do, but also busy packing in as much Australian culture* as I can to get ready. 

I am well stocked with music, compliments of my awesome People to People bus driver.  My favorites are (in all it's folky brilliance) Home Among the Gumtrees,  I Am, You Are, We Are Australian, and anything by Shannon Noll (but particularly Drive**).  I'll probably also add Avril Lavigne's second album, Clay Aiken's first album, the Southpark Soundtrack, and the Buffy musical soundtrack to the mix because that's what I listened to on repeat on my trip.  I sure had some weird taste in music as a teenager!


I'll be sitting my family down for a few movie nights with titles such as Australia, Finding Nemo, and Tomorrow When the War Began.  I may even try to get them to watch that mermaid H2O show, but I doubt we'll last very far into the first episode.  Maybe I'll recruit my 9-year-old neighbor for that one. 

Speaking of Tomorrow When the War Began, I'm doing a re-listen (for the third time) of the whole series.  I'm still blown away by how good those books are.  I got the first one for free in an Audible sale, and was hooked within the first three minutes.  If I was in charge of things, the series would be required reading for all high schools (from what I gather, it's already assigned reading at a lot of schools in Australia).  If anyone is looking for a fantastic read/listen that will entertain you and make you think, then definitely check this out.   


Feel free to offer any suggestions for further cultural explorations!  I realize I'm severely limited in my perspective and would love to remedy that. 

One other note is that I will be writing posts from Down Under in real time, but will be posting them once I'm back home.  No need to broadcast to the world exactly when I'll be out of town.

Even though my puppy would happily feast on the heart of any burglars.  Look at the vicious monster!


Cheers! 


    *And by culture I probably mean surface level stereotypical stuff I was obsessed with as a Yank teenager.
**Us kids had a huge debate with our bus driver and tour leader about whether the lyrics could be taken at face value or if the whole song was a giant innuendo.  You can guess what side the teenagers were on in that particular argument.  
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Revisiting My Brother's Speech in Support of the ACA


     I am heartbroken to have to revisit the time in my life before the ACA.  I thought this was behind me.  I thought a lot of things that are being challenged lately.  I think it's time to dust off this old blog and get posting about all the many things that need to be talked about. 

     I'll start this off by revisiting a fantastic speech my brother gave in support of the ACA when it was in it's infancy.   Now that this lifesaving legislation is under threat, it's more important than ever to share my family's story.  Read this and know that there are millions of others in a similar situation.  Please, support the ACA and stand up against those who would have it dismantled.  



The following is copied from a previous post.  Original Post Here

Dan and I Hiking the Alps in 2005


  Today, I feel like the luckiest sister in the world.  As I sat in class, squirming in anticipation from a text from my brother, he was giving a speech to Congressman Waxman, and many other important people.  The speech was about how the Affordable Care Act has benefited our family in life-changing ways.  Finally, a text from him, "Wonderful," in response to my, "how did it go?"  A few minutes later I got to read his speech for myself and the idea that I had a truly extraordinary sibling was confirmed.  
    Here is his speech...


"When I was 16 I watched my 19-year-old sister, Emily, have a stroke right in front of me. This was only the second of three she eventually survived. In a matter of seconds I watched as a genetic condition manifested bringing her from the competitive soccer player I knew to someone barely able to get out of bed. Over the next five years I watched as my family too changed from a comfortable middle class family to one solely focused on the health of my sister.

My father continued to work as an engineer and my mother still worked at her physical therapy clinic so we could pay the bills, but all our free time went into figuring out what was happening to Emily. At the time she started getting sick the healthcare system, a system that was in place just a few years ago, seemed to be working against us.

As that first year pounded ahead in a constant rush of hospitals, doctors, and false hopes she started to rapidly approach the age limit at which my parents health insurance would kick her off. Eventually Emily had to withdraw as an honors student from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the hopes that becoming a full time patient may help us find a cure before she was deemed unfit for insurance.

Another year passed and she made great progress, we confirmed a diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, but still I saw as her enthusiasm for life started to waver. This diagnosis would mean she would need to frequent hospitals the rest of her life to receive IVs. As it stood she could not do anything physically demanding, she could not get a job, and she needed constant medical attention. Even if she went back to college, received a degree, and got a job, no one would insure her. She could never receive the healthcare she needed to live a real life.

This was the state of the healthcare system before the Affordable Care Act. This was how patients, with undeserved conditions, were treated. My sister is an economic pitfall because she is sick with no known cure. She does not make economic sense to treat. Before the Affordable Care Act this would be the end of the story for my family. Too bad. Better luck next time. Some lose, some win. These were the only words of comfort we ever received.

And then a bold congress, pushed forward by some great women and men, decided that we were better than this as a country. My family sat glued to the TV as we watched the role call vote for the greatest piece of social legislation since the Great Society. And together we watch as it passed. And in that moment it passed I saw my sister receive her life back. With the passage of that bill, we witnessed healthcare becoming about health again.

From now on my sister could not be denied coverage just because she needed help. This meant for the rest of her life there was a path in front of her and a government beside her to help her walk it. She went back to college, graduating with a degree in kinesiology and with honors to boot.

I called her two days ago to wish her a happy 24th birthday, something that would have been tragic a few short years ago. We couldn’t talk long because she was rushing to her grad class at Tufts University in Boston. She is now going for an advanced degree in Occupational Therapy with strong hopes of finding both a job and insurance. Insurance she thought she never could get. And insurance that will allow her an IV once a week that can keep her standing upright and working.

When I told her I was speaking about the Affordable Care Act she had one request for me. She wanted me to thank everyone who made the legislation possible, not because it helped insure her, but because it let her be a part of the country she lived in. It let her get a degree, and eventually get a job, pay taxes…and even volunteer. More than anything the Affordable Care Act let her be a citizen and contribute to the land that stepped up and took care of their own. Thank you Congressman for all you have done for my family. Thank you for giving my best friend, my sister, the most caring, and ambitious person I know, her life back and, as she said it, her citizenship back. The American Dream is attainable for millions more like my sister because of the work you did to pass this bill. Thank you. Thank You.Thank You."


Read more from Daniel Block at his Small Well Lit Blog.  




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Posted by Emily Block | 4 comments

Happy Halloween!

I know I haven't updated this in forever, but I will do it someday!

In the meantime, happy belated Halloween!  My wheelchair is dressed as a Sir...




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