JoyBinge Podcast Ep. 2: Tuition, Tigers, & Trash
Hi and welcome to JoyBinge, a podcast where we re-learn that good things are happening in the world and celebrate those good things because we are tired of only hearing about the bad crap. My name is Kimmy Mauldin and I am not a journalist or a professional of any sort in the news industry. I’m just a Texas girl in need of some happy news and want to share what I find. All the articles we are discussing today came from Aug 1st through about the 18th or so. Let’s binge on some joy!
School debt is one of the most ridiculous things people deal with these days. Yes, paying for school is important and can teach lots of important lessons of its own. However, as many of us have dealt with, debt can be crippling. Well, according to NPR’s James Doubek, New York University School of Medicine is getting rid of tuition in the form of full scholarships to the students in their doctor of medicine program. Kenneth G. Langone, chair of the board of trustees at the NYU stated, “I’m proud to announce that as of right now, every student that we admit to New York University School of Medicine comes tuition-free. And this includes the incoming class and the upperclassmen as well that are here right now - no more tuition.”
While tuition isn’t a problem these students need to deal with anymore, they still have to pay $29,000 each year for room & board, and other expenses. Too bad the scholarship won’t cover everything but hey! Maybe other scholarships can! At least $55,018 is cut out. That is their tuition. Over $55,000. So that’s a great head start! There are 93 first year students and 350 current students who will be able to take advantage of this new full ride. The article goes on to state that the Association of American Medical Colleges reports that $192,000 is the median amount of debt most medical students graduate with. I can’t even begin to comprehend that amount of debt. Read the rest of the article to learn about how this type of debt is keeping doctors out of primary care and pushing doctors to more specialized fields. What is cool is that NYU is hoping that this new scholarship will encourage more diversity in their program. Get it, NYU! High fives all around!
We have another win in the medical field to celebrate! Here in the US, The Food and Drug Administration or the FDA has finally approved the first generic version of the EpiPen on August 16th, according to The Washington Post. Carolyn Y. Johnson and Laurie McGinley reported in the article that Teva Pharmaceuticals USA fought long and hard to get this new device approved. As someone who has had to use an EpiPen due to a bad reaction to poison ivy some years ago, this approval came as good news! Those things are hard to use but definitely incredibly important for scary situations.
Even though the approval came in time for back to school sale spikes, the product won’t be on the market for a few more months. Hopefully not too long. If you didn’t hear, the EpiPen ended up being way over priced, rising over 450% since 2004. There was a big ol’ scandal about it which is really interesting but that isn’t what we are focusing on here. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated, “This approval means patients living with severe allergies who require constant access to lifesaving epinephrine should have a lower-cost option, as well as another approved product to help protect against potential drug shortages.” TRUTH. Allergies usually seem to come out of nowhere and can often be hard to diagnose. So having another more affordable option will literally save lives. There were many horrible mistakes and awful things that have happened due to the EpiPen scandal so it’s absolutely fantastic to see that a solution is finally being offered to those who really need it!
A while ago, I was talking with a friend about this podcast and she sent me this great article about a teen wanting to help his favorite teacher’s family by raising money to help with some medical bills. Getting this article from her brought me so much joy, I was rather overwhelmed by how excited I got to be honest. Please send me stories when you see them! The email you can send them at is firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them at me @joybingepodcast and I will of course attribute the discovery of the story to you. This article was sent to me by one of my closest friends, Suhasini and I promise this is the last medical related story today. Pinky promise.
CNN’s Mayra Cuevas reported about a sweet young man named Waylon Klitzman who saw a problem and worked about offering some relief for his favorite teacher, Kim Katzenmeyer. People, you need to read this article, it is beautiful. I wish I could just read this to you verbatim because Cuevas does such a great job. Basically, Waylon is a sweet dude and relied on Katzenmeyer for support because being around a lot of people like you are at school is tough for him. I hear you man, it can be real tough even if you aren’t particularly bothered by lots of people.
In 2017, Katzenmeyer’s little niece was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Because of how intense this was for her family, Katzenmeyer quit her teaching job to go volunteer at the cancer research charity, Beat Nb. This crushed Waylon. His response? Giving her the $52 he had recently received for auctioning off one of his 4-H pigs. While this couldn’t make her stay at the school, Waylon decided to keep donating his winnings to her charity. He wrote a letter along with other members of his 4-H club thanking the auction attendees for helping the club by purchasing their animals. In Waylon’s letter, he mentioned that all of his proceeds were going to Beat Nb to help with his teacher’s family. This stirred feelings in the community.
Dan Drozdowicz attends the auction every year and decided when he read that letter that he was going to help. So he talked with his auction competitor, Scott Owen, and told him that if Scott let him get the highest bid, he would turn around and sell the pig immediately to help raise more money. Roo, probably the best selling pig at this auction of all time, was sold over 4 times with a winning total of $10,070. All the money went to Beat Nb. But Waylon isn’t done. He plans to sell his pumpkins at his school’s homecoming this September. DUDE. GET IT. YES. Cuevas ends the article with a quote from Waylon, “I want to do something where I can help people. This has really stuck with me.” Well, Waylon, your actions are inspiring others in your community to do things too and that will stick with them. And frankly, I think this will stick with us as well.
Ok, time to break this medical trend we’ve got going and move on to environmentally focused stories. Julie McCarthy reported with NPR about the “Forest Man of India.” Jadav Payeng has been planting trees on a special island in the Brahmaputra river to combat erosion in his area. When he was a boy, the island didn’t exist. It was simply part of the mainland. One day in 1979, he saw as McCarthy puts, “a freakish site: dead snakes piled on sand in scorching temperatures, perished for lack of shade or tree cover.” She goes on to quote him as saying, “‘When I saw it, I thought even we humans will have to die this way in the heat. It struck me. In the grief of those dead snakes, I created this forest.’”
Now the island is covered in so many trees, it apparently shocked the Forest Department when they realized what was going on...40 years after he started. The forest and grasses on the island have thrived so much that animals started coming back. He even has tigers he has to contend with now! He cracks me up, when he talked about coming across one of the tigers, he said, “‘I wasn’t scared. I know that tigers have half the courage of women. This one killed a buffalo, saw me, and slinked off.’” WHAT?! Haha oh man that got me. While the people in surrounding areas revere him as a great conservationist now, they approached him to cut back on vegetation to get rid some of the animals. Apparently he replied, “‘You will have to kill me before you kill the trees.’” The man is serious about his trees. I mean, why wouldn’t he be? He literally turned a sandy island into a thriving ecosystem in 40 years. His ultimate goal is to plant another 5,000 acres on top of the 1,300 acres he already has, to encourage the plants to grow along the Brahmaputra River islands for 500 miles. Alright, Jadav, we get it. You win. You are Mother Nature’s favorite now. And I thought my feeble attempt at recycling made me extra good. Well, hey, at least it’s a start huh? Go ahead and read this article. McCarthy talks about Jadav’s daily routine and what he does to keep the forest thriving. I can’t get over it.
Speaking of recycling, Vivibarefoot is making a line of shoes that use 17 recycled water bottles to make. YUP, you heard me right. Each pair is made out of 17 recycled water bottles. And the shoes actually look pretty cool. Business Insider’s Mara Leighton has pictures of the shoes in the article, go check it out! Apparently, water bottles take about 400 years to decompose. Ouch. So this shoe company decided to make use of the trash and put them on our feet! Their mission is to “prioritize and protect nature.” The shoes are also designed to support your feet, so much so that Vivibarefoot shoes are referred to as barefoot pairs. Leighton says, “Wearers will benefit from the sensory input of their feet as well as their hands for a potential increase in balance and accuracy, and the muscles in the leg may develop more naturally and cohesively.” I’m down. Apparently the company plans to boost their use of recycled fibers in their vegan line this year as well as introduce more innovations in the future. Vivibarefoot is literally offering us the opportunity to change our environmental footprint. HA.
Understanding our impact on the environment and learning to change how we view nature can help us recognize other impacts we create with our thinking. The best way to better comprehend other ways of thinking are by meeting people from different areas and see how they run their lives. So let’s take a look at Guna Yala or San Blas, an archipelago off Panama’s eastern coast. There, the Gunas have several traditions that are so different from much of the western world that we would do well to learn from them. Gender fluidity is a normal part of life, not scorned or shamed as it oftentimes is in other parts of the world. Rather, gender fluidity is embraced and treated as a normal part of life. Because it is. And always has been. The Omeggid are people who are considered as a third gender on the islands. While born male, the Omeggid follow their natural tendencies to be more female in nature and are accepted as they are. The article from BBC written by Egle Gerulaityte talks with several members of the Guna community about their lives there, including several Omeggid people. When reading this article, it seemed to me that many Omeggid figure out they are Omeggid when they are still children. One anthropologist and post-doctoral researcher from the University of Sao Paulo, Diego Madi Dias was quoted as saying, “‘The Guna have taught me that children should have sufficient autonomy, as their ‘self’ comes from the heart, from within, and starts manifesting early. So if a male child starts showing a tendency toward being transgender, (s)he is not prevented to be himself.’” Many families, or even I think it might be safe to say that most families support their family members who realize they are transgender. How beautiful is this? While it is rare for females to transition to males in their culture, they still would normally be accepted.
What else is interesting about Guna Yala is that the role women play is similar to what you might expect in other cultures, but they are heavily revered. The article goes on to explain that weddings have the groom ceremoniously abducted and moved into the bride’s house. Women make the decisions as to who he can share his food and money with, including his own family. His work belongs to the wife’s family now. There are even three important ceremonies every female gets to celebrate on Guna Yala: her birth, puberty, and marriage. The culture seems more centered around the females’ lives rather than the males as many of us are accustomed to. I won’t lie, I tend to be a bit bothered when any gender is more celebrated than another, but it is pretty cool to see a culture that celebrates women so much. We don’t really see that a whole lot in the US outside of celebrating successes in beauty or career. However, what is neat, is that Guna seems to balance the roles of men, women, and Omeggid way better than many other cultures do. Definitely read this article, it goes into way more detail about the lives people lead there and even what problems they have, like the HIV breakout in the Omeggid community. Thankfully organizations like the Wigudun Galu have been created to help with the breakout. We could learn so much from Guna Yala, so please give this article a read! While they aren’t the only people to have a third gender or two-spirit group of people recognized and honored in their society, they are certainly wonderful role models that we can look up to.
Now for a taste of Texas. A city in the Dallas Fort Worth area, Richardson, has a cool new playground in the works. Brooke Rogers with CBS DFW reports that an inclusive playground will begin construction in 2019. Ramps to assist children and adults with mobility challenges will be installed as well as a smooth rubber surfacing to allow space for people with mobility, sensory, or developmental challenges to play. Dina Alsaid has a son named Abe who lives with autism and they are excited about the new playground. She said, “‘This is a way of life for us. We have to think every day, ‘How are we going to function in society?’ For children that are even younger than my children, they now have somewhere they can have a birthday party, a family function.’” While there already is an ADA-accessible playground in Richardson, it will be replaced by this more inclusive and easier to navigate playground that more people will be able to enjoy. I’m hoping this inspires more playgrounds to be created like this in other parts of DFW so people don’t have to drive for miles to just find this one. Besides, it’s important for kids especially to learn how to play with other kids who may have varying types of differences. Not being exposed to all the cool types of people out in the world really keeps our minds closed and that isn’t conducive to living a happy life. Sure, there will be challenges, but those challenges help us to grow and get to know people we wouldn’t have known otherwise. Yay for this playground!
Now that we’ve got the news out of the way, let’s talk about a way you can get involved in your community. Recently, on Aug 18th, DFW, like many others across the nation, had many Clear the Shelter deals to inspire more people to adopt sweet pups and kitties. It seems animal shelters all over the US and probably in other parts of the world are having an overcrowding problem. So on Aug 18th, the shelters waived the adoption fee and got many pets introduced to their new families. My boyfriend and I love spending time with our sweet pup, Belle, who technically at 10 years old isn’t a pup but she will always be our pup. She adds so much to our lives, we can’t imagine being without her. So I thought that this week, we would talk about what it takes to foster a pet. Maybe you have pets already, maybe you don’t, but maybe you are wanting to do something a little extra to help some sweet animals find a good home. Fostering is one cool way of doing that. Petfinder.com has a great list of questions written by Richard and Raye Scott that you should consider before becoming a Pet Foster Home. They go into more detail about each question, offering advice and explanations as to why these questions are important. There is a lot to consider before welcoming in a little fluff ball into your home, even on a temporary basis! Alright, here are the questions:
Are you able to separate the foster pets from your own?
Are you aware that there is a great deal of clean-up and even possible damage to your home when you take a foster pet home?
Are you able to monitor the health of the foster pet?
Can you get to the shelter’s vet quickly in case of an emergency?
Are you emotionally prepared to return the pet after the foster period is up? This one is tough. I don’t know if I could do it to be honest but if you can, then maybe this is something to consider!
Can you place your trust in the shelter staff to decide what is best for the animal?
Do you feel comfortable explaining to friends that these pets are not yours to adopt out and that they must go through the regular adoption process at the shelter? No freebies, people, even to your best friends.
They even go into qualifications, not like licenses or degrees, but personal attributes that are needed to foster a pet like compassion, flexibility, etc, foster policies and procedures, preparing your home, supplies you might need, and when to return the pet to the shelter. If you have some extra space and love to share, fostering a pet may be just the thing for you!
And now for some advice about bettering yourself. I always look at articles that talk about food, or fitness or other things I should probably not be reading articles about because they get stuck in my brain and drive me insane. But sometimes they are kind of fun and sometimes kind of interesting. Hormones suck. They don’t always but boy when they suck, they suck hard. Balancing hormones can be a hard task for many of us, I know I’ve had my own problems trying to do this. Abbey Sharp of Greatist made a cool little list of foods that can help balance out or mess with your hormones. This may not be true for everyone as each of us react to foods and hormones differently but hey, maybe this is worth a try! She goes into greater detail about how each food affects you and I won’t do that here because I’ve already been talking to you for awhile.
Foods that can help balance you out
You could make a weird little casserole with that, I guess.
Foods that can mess you right up
High-Fructose Corn Syrup because duh
Packaged Fried Snacks - nooooooooooo
Artificial Sweeteners also duh
Alcohol - well that just messes with everything
Fat-Free Milk - whaaaat?
Don’t mix those together, that would be disgusting.
Try substituting some of these in or out of your diet respectively after talking with your doctor (TALK WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST) and see what happens! Maybe something good!
Now Something to Laugh about
Alright, something to laugh about: this is the last part of the podcast. I like to share different Twitter accounts, Instagram accounts, podcasts, poems, movies, books, stories, comics, blah blah blah, whatever I find and whatever other people find and share with me. So today, on Twitter, there is this hilarious account that I found, well, I didn’t find it, I found an article about great Twitter accounts to follow and this was one of them. It’s called Faces in Things or @FacesPics. It is so adorable. There are pictures of bread or airplanes or bridges and cars and all sorts of stuff where people see a face. I think it’s hilarious. It makes me laugh every single time. I don’t know why I enjoy seeing faces in everything but I really do. So go check that out, give them a follow!
A podcast that I have loved listening to for at least 5 years now if not longer, however long they’ve been around. I think I’ve been listening to them one year less. Dear Hank and John, this is Hank Green and John Green. John Green wrote The Fault in Our Stars and a bunch of other young adult fiction. He’s absolutely wonderful. Hank Green does a bunch of science based stuff. They have made videos together, they were the vlogbrothers and they do Crash Course. They are basically like YouTube gurus, they’ve really helped to make YouTube what it is now. But all that aside, Hank and/or John created VidCon. This podcast is hilarious because it is where they give dubious advice and they talk about death. It sounds depressing, sometimes it can get depressing but it is hilarious and it’s such a wonderful community. Definitely worth checking out even just one episode. It’s just so so good. I used to listen to it all the time when I was working out but I have switched over to true crime because I am in my 30’s and apparently that’s what I’m supposed to do now (which I love). But I go back to Dear Hank and John every time I need to get a true crime break because it is so good!
There’s this poem that’s been circulating around the internet this summer so I’m sure you’ve seen it but if you haven’t, it’s worth looking at. It’s surprisingly insightful. Abdullah Shoaib wrote Pretty Ugly and it’s one you really need to physically look at. In case you can’t, the word “pretty” is written upside down while “ugly” is written right side up. The poem reads,
I’m very ugly So don’t try to convince me that I am a very beautiful person Because at the end of the day I hate myself in every single way And I’m not going to lie to myself by saying There is beauty inside of me that matters So rest assured I will remind myself That I am a worthless, terrible person And nothing you say will make me believe I still deserve love Because no matter what I am not good enough to be loved And I am in no position to believe that Beauty does exist within me Because whenever I look in the mirror I always think Am I as ugly as people say? (Now read bottom up)
by Abdullah Shoaib
Thanks for listening to some of the joy found in the world these past couple of weeks. If you have stories of good people doing good things in your neighborhood or anywhere else, send them to me! I’ve even got an email, email@example.com or tweet at me @joybingepodcast. TELL ME THE GOOD STUFF!
The music for this podcast is "Industrious Ferret" by Kevin MacLeod. Thanks for listening and have a great week!