Friday, November 21, 2008

An open letter to my Health Care Administrator

Dear Health Care Administrator(s),

The time is now for change. You've heard the bells tolling, and I dare say that meaningful health care reform in our country means that it tolls for thee. No man or woman or CEO needs to earn millions of dollars selling a basic human need and right like health care and we all have a pre-existing condition that makes us a future health risk, it's called being human. So let us no longer be the only civilized and rich country that does not provide and guarantee basic rights such as health care to its citizens, to all of its citizens. I believe the time is now for the health care industry (including pharmaceutical companies) to become part of the solution or be prepared to look for another job.

Kevin Lapin

PS Please don't try and lobby or false advertise your way out of this, I've lived in France and had a knee operation there and it was great. So I'm not buying it.


Monday, November 17, 2008

To the Farmer-in-Chief

Michael Pollan's open letter to president-elect (yipee!) Obama, titled "Farmer in Chief", clearly and comprehensively laying out a 21st century food agenda for our country, based on the need for healthy, safe, environmentally friendly, locally produced, distributed and heartily enjoyed food in our country. This is part of the new New Deal that we need.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Life is a page

Life is a page
And I am a word

Life is a cage
And I am a bird

Life is a field
And I am a crop

Life is a stream
And I am a drop



Wednesday, November 5, 2008

One Child Left Behind

Dear Friends and Family,

I don’t know about you, but recently I find myself vacillating more and more between hope and depression, between a sense that we as families and friends, as a nation and as a people, that we have the power and compassion and drive to make things better. That maybe universal health care, nano and solar energy, recycling, sustainable growth and peaceful relations with our neighbors are right around the corner. And that maybe this next election will bring change we can believe in. But then I watch an hour too much of the CNN or read an article too many in the Times and things start to seem really gloomy. I think how we’ve gotten ourselves into a couple of wars, a colossal debt, a recession, how we’ve lost most of our allies, our direction as a nation, Ossama Bin Laden and our sense of responsibility for the tired, poor and huddled masses knocking on our doors. I think how we have an expensive and completely useless arsenal of nuclear bombs and continue to spend more on our military then any other nation in the world, in fact, then several of the most important ones put together and yet still have problems properly equipping and caring for the men and women who join it. Meanwhile the middle class is shrinking, fanaticism is up, tolerance is down, and oil companies are making record profits while teachers and artists are working part-time jobs to make ends meet. And when I think about all this, then I think there ain’t much hope and that this time the ‘you know what’ is really in the air and on it’s way towards the fan.

Now don’t get me wrong, like so many other Americans I have been inspired and engaged like never before by the presidential campaign. I’m proud that I live in a country where a minority or woman can run for the highest office. And I’m even more proud that someone who speaks intelligently, compassionately, thoughtfully and sometimes even inspirationally is once again who we are considering as the type of person we want to lead our country. But I’m scared, too. By the polls, by the reactions, by the lipstick news media, selfishness and consumerism that keeps everyone thinking they have to please a lowest common denominator which may or may not even exist, and even if it does doesn’t anyone believe in the power of pulling people up by giving them not what you think they want but what you think they need? And isn’t it foolish of me to think that anything will change after the election? Won’t these election promises turn out, as usual and once again, to be just that? Once shame on you, but twice shame on me, right?

So as we get into the nitty gritty of how we are actually going to do any of these great ideas, or just forget about them all and focus on having enough cash to buy a new widescreen plasma HDTV with a 100 channels of complete crap, I steel myself for a post-election let down, the slump after the bump, the purge after the surge.

In the moments when my mood and emotions aren’t screaming in my ears at the extremes of hope or depression, I do take solace in one thing. One thing that I can count on. One great relief. And that is that no matter what happens, we will no longer have a ridiculous monkey-child leading our country. So, today I raise a glass to you my dear friends and family, pointed to an uncertain future with a mixture of hope and fear, but with a loud and long sigh of relief for the thought that on November 5th, 2008 we will be a nation with “One Child Left Behind”…


From the Heart,

Kevin Lapin
"Appreciate beauty in all its forms."
"Get stuck in there!"


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Front Page News, Shanghai SAS

Jesse Long is taking pictures, lots of pictures, at Shanghai American School. In fact, he just finished up at Pudong, and is now on the Puxi campus where he and his helper friend, Kevin Lapin, will remain until next Friday, the 19th. I asked Kevin what it was exactly that he did. “It’s like in the Wizard of Oz,” he said. “I’m the guy behind the curtain. I help Jesse try to get smiles out of the kids, and I look at how they’re coming out on the computer and try to pick the best shot. Sometimes I will open the photo in Photoshop to do some color corrections. I’m a master of keyboard shortcuts on the Mac. I could never do this job if I wasn’t.” Jesse is behind the camera. With 3,000 students and over 400 faculty, plus some staff pictures, and, considering that he takes 2-4 shots per subject, he figures by the time he leaves Shanghai American School on the 19th, he will have taken more than 10,000 shots—easily! Probably more.

From SAS, Jesse, who owns his business known as International Photos, will be headed for the International School of Beijing, and from there to the Middle East. He goes to these schools, including ours, at his own expense and has been doing this for six years. He says that he’s beginning to run into teachers in different locations. He may meet a former SAS teacher in Dubai, and he’s met some teachers at SAS he photographed at other schools in previous years. Jesse became an international school photographer almost accidentally. He had been in Africa taking photos, and returned to Seattle where, one evening, he was showing them to an old high school friend, Shane Oprescu. Her father, Warren Carlson, dropped by and saw his photos. He had been shooting school photos at international schools for over 30 years. He said, “I’m thinking of retiring. Want to take over my business?” Today, Shane works in a Seattle office handling the details and getting the photos to the lab and then back to the school. Jesse and Kevin will soon head north to ISB. “Yi, er, san!” They’ve got thousands of snaps before they’ll see home again.
By Timothy Merrill, Editor, ParentTalk


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Personal Statement

(for application to the Columbia ETP program)

I believe everyone should have access to a good education and good healthcare. Our happiness, as individuals and as communities, depends on being healthy, both physically, mentally and spiritually. Indeed, one of the reasons I want to become a nurse practitioner is because of its holistic approach to patient care; it combines the excitement and challenge of diagnosing and curing illness with the reward and contentment of educating and caring for patients as unique individuals. Attending Columbia represents the perfect step in achieving this goal of being able to care for the wellbeing of others as well as teach them to care for themselves, as the ETP program combines an intensive hands-on approach with the highest standards of education.

Although I didn’t always want to be an NP when I grew up, when I look back now it seems a natural decision. My dad, one of my greatest role models, always said that aside from his family, being a cardiologist has been the most rewarding experience of his life. I have also experienced first hand how medicine can change someone’s life, for when I was 12 years old I was diagnosed and treated for a pituitary tumor. I feel lucky and grateful to have benefited from the highest quality of health care, which ultimately helped me avoid brain surgery, avoid going blind and, most significantly at the time, break the 5’ barrier before the 10th grade. And all of that thanks to an extremely kind and understanding team of doctors and nurses.

In college, I majored in French and Education with the idea that I might become a teacher. After graduating, I lived in France on a post-graduate exchange scholarship and then to study translation and interpreting. Later, while working at and living in Seattle, I started doing plays and taking acting classes which led me back to Paris for graduate school in theater. It was then that I got a job working for a small medical translation agency and realized that I was interested in health care and medicine.

When I moved to New York, I began working as a medical interpreter which tied together my desire to help people with my background in French. The more I found myself working with patients, the more I wished I could offer them health care directly. I also work as a Standardized Patient, and this has showed me how interesting and challenging being able to interact with a person and take their history is, and how this is such an important diagnostic tool in the primary care physician’s arsenal. I always tell students I work with that patients are looking not just for someone who has the scientific knowledge to fix them, but that they are also looking for someone they can trust and who will care for them. Indeed, without trust, patients may not offer that clinically vital piece of information that will help make the diagnosis. I look forward myself to the wide range of individuals and issues that I will deal with as a family care NP.

Before making the decision to go back to school, I felt it was important to spend more time in the hospital and with patients—to see if nursing was truly the right path for me. So for the past few months I have been volunteering on a step-down and neurology ward at Beth Israel and in the ED and cardiac units at Columbia Presbyterian. What I have learned is that RNs work really hard and play a very important role in the quality of a patient’s stay in the hospital and that I like working in the hospital. I’ve also learned that I want more than hard work; I want the responsibility that comes with being an NP, that is to say, taking part in the diagnostic, prescriptive and educational aspects of care.

From what I can tell I would make a good nurse practitioner. I love working with people and health care connects with something in me. I have a lot of patience, energy, compassion and intelligence to offer patients. I even know what it’s like to be hospitalized in a foreign country. This type of cultural understanding as well as my language skills in French and Spanish should come in handy, as immigrant patients so often make up the underserved populations that I hope to care for.

Ten to 15 years from now, I hope to have gained enough experience and confidence to be an important member of a clinic or practice, while still spending time in a hospital setting (to stay connected). I’m also interested in teaching, and could foresee pursuing a doctoral program towards that end—as well as to gain more training and knowledge. I think that teaching is one of the best ways to really find out if you have learned or know something; as the saying goes, ‘learn one, do one, teach one.’

My rabbi, another role model in my life, once told me something when we were studying together for my bar-mitzvah. He said to me, “Kevin, you’re a smart boy, but that’s not what makes you special. You’ve got a lot of energy and a good sense of humor, but these are also not what make you special. You have a big heart, that’s what makes you special.” I’ve never forgotten that. And I believe that it’s true that the only way you can lead people is by walking the path with them, and that the only paths worth walking in life are paths with heart. These are the paths that I hope to walk as a nurse practitioner.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Kurt and Rebecca

From the Commitment Reading of the Pueblo Indian and a slam poem by Michael Cirelli
(arranged for Kurt and Rebecca’s wedding, July 27, 2008.)

Before we met, you and I were halves un-joined except in the wide river of our minds, where each other's distant shore, the opposite wings of a bird, the other half of a seashell, curled and stripped to fine perfection. We did not know each other then, did not know our determination to keep alive the cry of one riverbank to the other. We were apart, yet together in ignorance of one another, like two apples falling from a common tree. I knew you existed as a memory, long before you understood my desire to join my freedom to yours and yours to mine. I will remember.

Our paths collided long enough for our indecision to be swallowed up by a greater need of love. When you came to me, the sun surged towards the earth and the moon escaped from the darkness to bless the union of our two spirits, so alike that the creator designed them for life's endless dance, a circle K and R, spinning in the middle and where they join is us, because I am your Parker painter, your supplier of, and you, you are my beloved partner, keeper of my heart's odd secrets, clothed in summer blossoms so the icy hand of winter never touches us. I thank your patience. And trust our joining is like a tree to earth, a cloud to sky and even more, for richer or poor, in sickness and in health, we are the reason the world can laugh on its battlefields and rise from the ashes of its selfishness to hear me say, in this time, in this place, in this way - I loved you best of all.

From the first moment that our eyes set on each other like the dust, our hearts melted like wax that turned to vinyl and the albums turned, degrees upon degrees upon degrees. Our chests opened up like the sky playing the music of a land of showers translated into living for bread, mind became tongues as the summer melted like butter and leaves slowly roasted on trees.

Somehow we had remembered that we used to love each other, but couldn't recall where or when or why. Our hearts were like wax, and the vinyl rotated like it had never turned before till our souls spun around the sun and you became my earth. That's when we first met.

Then I walked the streets of Japan for thirty days, six hours, five-and-a-quarter minutes, it seemed like a year with new eyes swinging low trying to pick up rhymes for you on concrete and neon bustle that reminded me of you until we met again. You said, "yes," and then we found ourselves outside under a ripe moon, our candle constructed of the excess wax from my heart, exchanging wine and optimisms, but the album turned degrees, upon degrees of romanticism, I said "I guess I'll see you next lifetime," which was ironic because my lifeline was entwined with another, I used to love her, until I met you.

So I jumped in your car with P-town plates to go skiing on mountains with the thrust of plate-tectonics, and with you. Through bumps and trees, we followed each other up and down until the snow settled on our hoods. We packed lunches of bread and cheese and drank the breeze blowing off the slopes of Mt. Hood. And there was no need for a car radio, because my heart spun the wax which was the vinyl which turned those degrees times three, and this time I thought to myself, "love me, love me, say that you love me."

We made our love ceramic. It was so fragile that our heads began to spin like clay on a wheel, scriptures flipped, pieces chipped, words fell off as the album turned, throwing degrees upon themselves like neither one of us wanted to be the first to say goodbye, so we said I do. And by degrees our does become deeds where we will sign our names with greed with the excess wax from our melted hearts now tripped and tied in a frieze, and all we need is one witness, as we sign our intentions to become anew. Will you say I do?

So we can return to the same Dalles that we said "I love you" in for forty days and thirty-nine nights and it will be fire, and we’ll melt our albums back into a new heart, forget where they came from, return our records, so they can play a new composition, like a beat.