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Life through a haze of anxiety

Anxiety Presentation Plan

jazzrack Wednesday October 7, 2015



The Purpose is to inform the audience about the impact of anxiety disorders. I would like to help the audience understand and relate better to people with anxiety disorders.


My ideal audience would include family, friends, colleagues and even physicians. The presentation would benefit a larger audience as well. The topic is appropriate for a general audience interested in mental health awareness.


This topic is very significant to my audience because anxiety disorder is a growing issue in society and few understand what it is and how to deal with the issues those with anxiety face.


Fingernails on chalk board. Imagine how it would feel to have that 24/7 at various levels of intensity


Research suggests people with anxiety disorders have difficulty with social integration due to lack of understanding of the disorder and knowledge of how to interact with those who have it.

Introducing the main points to the audience

First I will discuss what anxiety is and how pervasive it is and how it can impact those with the disorder. Then I will discuss the lack of understanding of anxiety in society. I’ll conclude, in part by using my own journey with anxiety disorder, with ways to understand and interact with those with anxiety.

Transition to the first main point

For starters we will look at what anxiety is and its pervasiveness and impact on individuals and society.

First main point discussion

What is anxiety and how prevalent is it? According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (2015) “those with anxiety disorders worry much more than normal about everyday things”. They also note that these work in conjunction with other symptoms, some of the most prevalent are; being on edge, issues with focus, tension and insomnia (American Academy of Family Physicians 2015). A recent study suggests that anxiety disorders are the largest mental health issue in the united states inflicting roughly 30% of the population and those with anxiety disorders have a reduced quality of life and social functioning (Weisberg, 2014, p. 443). To round it off, according to earlier research anxiety disorders are a disability equivalent to depression (Wittchen, 2002. P. 169).

Transition to second main point:

Now that I have discussed what anxiety disorder is and how pervasive it is. Next, I will discuss how pervasive the lack of understanding and knowledge of anxiety disorder is and the impacts of that lack of understanding.

Second main point discussion

As Zanon describes in an article in vibrant Life magazine, people are reluctant to discuss mental illness issues because of the stigma attached (as cited in Heffernan, 2015 p. 13). It is commonly understood that stigma comes from a lack of knowledge and understanding. Even doctors are not immune from this lack of understanding. According to research by Weisberg only 28% of anxiety patience reported receiving satisfactory anxiety treatment at intake (2014, p446). While these numbers improved over time, only 69% of participants received satisfactory anxiety treatment over the 5 year follow up period.

Transition to conclusion

As you can see, the combination of a lack of understanding and the lack of knowledge of anxiety disorders and how to interact with those who have it can lead to great difficulty for anxiety sufferers to integrate successfully into modern society.

Summarizing the main points for the audience:

First I discussed what anxiety is and its pervasiveness in society. Then I showed how it is misunderstood and some of the impacts from that misunderstanding.

Ending with an effective closing strategy

In closing, the question is how do you help those that are dealing with anxiety disorders? I have some tips compiled by Carol Heffernan in a Vibrant Life magazine (2015), educate yourself, listen without judgement, ask how you can help, and adjust expectations. Then to round it off with one of my own, just be yourself. If somebody with anxiety has already let you into their lives, they most likely like you and would much rather you stay the same, predicable person you have always been, be more mindful, but most of all, they need you to be you.

Visual aid:

(Heffernan, 2015 p. 14).

Audience Questions/Responses:

1. What are common misconceptions about anxiety disorders?
According to Carol Heffernan in Vibrant Life magazine (2015, p14) Some of the common misconceptions about those with mental illness are that they are either lazy, overly sensitive, unpredictable, prone to violence or will never recover. Of course the reality is every person has a unique path to and with anxiety disorder, they are no more or less prone to violence than anybody else and with proper care can live a fulfilling life.

2. How many people with anxiety disorders have multiple mental health issues?
According to research as much 66% of patients with anxiety disorder will currently have an additional mental illness while 90% will have at least one other mental illness diagnosis over their lifetime (Whttchen, 2002, p164)

1. What is the impact on minorities and the poor?
Research shows that quality of care is mixed, those with severe symptoms and impairment, on public insurance and an income of less than $20,000 receive adequate treatment (Weisberg et al. 2014, p448) while those with lower levels of education were less likely to receive adequate physiotherapy and racial minorities were less likely to receive any type of adequate care.


Heffernan, C. (2015). HELP for the Hurting. Vibrant Life, 31(3), 12-15.

Information from Your Family Doctor: Help for Anxiety and Panic Disorders. (2015). American Family Physician, 91624A.

Weisberg, R. B., Beard, C., Moitra, E., Dyck, I., & Keller, M. B. (2014). Adequacy of treatment received by primary care patients with anxiety disorders. Depression And Anxiety, 31(5), 443-450. doi:10.1002/da.22209

Wittchen, H. (2002). Generalized anxiety disorder: prevalence, burden, and cost to society. Depression And Anxiety, 16(4), 162-171.

Increasing College Graduation Rates

jazzrack Sunday November 30, 2014

 Increasing College Graduation Rates


The need for an advanced education is becoming a more important part of everyday life and at an ever-increasing pace, reaching the graduation milestones gives people access to a better quality of life. They are more active citizens, live healthier lifestyles, are more active parents and increases the chance of families move up the socioeconomic ladder (Baum, Ma & Payea, 2013). At a glance, the overall graduation rate appears not bad: “About 59 percent of first-time, full-time students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year institution in fall 2006 completed that degree within 6 years.” (National Center for Educational Research, 2014). On deeper inspection, it is those who need educational access the most who are the ones not graduating. The reasons for this are as individual as every student, but the general barriers of time, access and educational style disproportionately affect those least able to navigate a complex system that does not work well together and is not flexible enough to match the constantly changing needs of those it’s supposed to serve. A practical method of increasing college graduation rates would be to create a hybrid system that combines online education with the community and state college systems. This type of system would help students better manage the ever-changing variables of time, costs and academic needs.



With the constant change in work and life needs, current and future students need a more flexible educational system to accommodate the changing demands on a student’s time. Under the current system education happens on a schedule defined by the institution. If, for example, a student has the opportunity for an immediate career advancement but that opportunity conflicts with a schooling schedule the student is left with a disastrous choice between current and future needs. For the economically disadvantaged, these problems become even more magnified, bleeding over into quality of life decisions. Do the children of a student suffer if they lose the opportunity to partake in extra activities such as soccer gymnastics or music because a parent is afraid it may conflict with some future needed class? And why must this be so? There is little need for it at a time when high quality on-line curriculum not only exists but can be cheaper and more current than more traditional curriculum delivery systems.

These time issues would be challenging enough but they get added to public policy decisions that compound the issues. Even in places with a robust community college system, like California, the waiting lists for needed classes are causing immense problems for students. As Rivera discussed (2010) California has the nation’s largest community college system and it is expected to accept every student but in effect thousands are turned away because they can’t get the classes they need. Other students who hoped to attend full-time are either having to take classes at several campuses or just accept a part-time education. This is while other state educational facilities go largely unused during the summer months (Rivera, 2012) Not only do these problems create stress and frustration, increasing the chance of a student giving up, they extend the time required to complete an educational milestone allowing life events more opportunity to create barriers, this added time also adds to the cost barrier.

The average annual student budget can range from $16,325 for an in-district commuter at a public 2 year institution to $46,272 for a student at an on-campus, 4 year private non-profit University. (College Board, 2014) And these costs increase regularly. It is not difficult to imagine how a low income family can look at the figures and see them as insurmountable obstacles. Even if, through a combination of grants, loans, scholarships and even family fundraising, lower income families can make the budget work they are especially vulnerable to economic changes. A seemingly stable 9-5 warehouse or office job can easily turn into a lower paying sales clerk or unemployment with little notice. The economic uncertainty of their financial situation makes their ability to sustain the financial commitment for 4-6 years vulnerable. These families are far less likely to invest in a system that is costly, slow and inflexible in meeting a wide variety of academic needs.




Not all students have an easy time through the education system, the reasons for this are as varied as the individual student. Culture clashes, social disorders and learning disabilities are just a few of the potential issues these students face. Then they are faced with a system that isn’t designed for their individual needs. Online school is always open, so, for example, if a student needs a mentor, the student can meet with their mentor at any time easily and get help when they need it. The student would not have to wait for an appointment and won’t have to drive somewhere at an inconvenient time and place.

Students who are trying to get their education can get it without having to be stuck with having to make compromises all the time. If you have to take care of your child or you’re sick, you’re stuck in the traditional system. Your job has to work around classes, causing people to lose pay or opportunities for advancement and sometimes it even costs them their job. If they had a composite learning system they could work around these limitations. The classes should work for people’s schedules, not the other way around. It’s all system focused, not student focused. It is understood how the system has evolved. In the past education moved slowly, buildings, materials, books, and staff, are expensive. Schools were a centralized location to gather the physical resources needed for a complete education.

The solutions to the problem of increasing graduation rates already exist in the world around us. By combining the speed and economic efficiency of on-line education with the physical resources of our community colleges and state universities coherent system can be created. High quality on-line education can be used for students with time or travel constraints and for classes that students are comfortable with self-learning. Then for subjects that a student needs more guidance or attention they can access the community college, or even state university facilities. This saves the student both time and money by minimizing time and maximizing flexibility. Because of reduce pressure on the physical system the community colleges will be able to shift resources and offer testing, mentoring services, lectures, lab work, and even a study hall where all students can gather, including online students, for academic help and a sense of community. This also maintains the currents system for those subjects that require a physical presence or for students that prefer a more traditional setting. The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t have to be the same experience it used to be it is time the educational system has caught up with the rest of the world.



Baum, S., Ma, J., & Payea, K. (2013). Education pays 2013: The benefits of higher education for individuals and society. College Board.
College Board. (2014). Trends in college pricing 2014 – Final report. College board.
National Center for Educational statistics (2014). Institutional Retention and Graduation Rates for Undergraduate Students. Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cva.asp
Rivera, C (2012, May 28). College summer school in California largely a thing of the past: Column. Retrieved November 6, 2014, from http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/28/local/la-me-adv-college-summer-20120527
Rivera, C (2010, October 4). Community college class wait lists throw a wrench into students’ plans. Retrieved November 2, 2014, from http://articles.latimes.com/2010/oct/04/local/la-me-college-classes-20101004

Problems with Youth Unemployment

jazzrack Friday November 7, 2014


my 3rd essay for my WGU composition class




A popular complaint heard in neighborhoods throughout America is that the youth of today are either on their electronic devices playing games or hanging out on the street corner with nothing to do and causing trouble. However, these are symptoms of a problem with youth employment. With youth unemployment around 15.8 % (Budig & Heaps, 2014), it has become a major problem in the United States today. Youth unemployment is made worse with zoning regulations that have separated entry-level jobs from poor communities, minimum wage increases pricing youth out of jobs (Congressional Budget Office, 2014), and an educational system that focuses on academic education even for those that would benefit from a more practical educational path.

The good intentions of zoning regulations is not in question, but the unintended consequences are becoming clear; the separation of entry level jobs from those who need them the most. The poor are the least likely to be able to move close to a job, or they change jobs too often to make moving closer to a job practical. As a result, a commute is not just a minor inconvenience, it is a barrier to life improvement. The costs of a commute are not just in dollars. The time spent waiting for busses or walking miles limits opportunities. For example, if a person can walk to work in 10 minutes, this gives them more time to take and complete classes, parent children and stay connected with friends, family and community. If that same person has personal transportation, the commute boundary that still allows for personal and lifestyle improvement widens, greatly. For those families that have been priced out of personal transportation due to economic realities and deliberate policy decisions, job opportunities are reduced because of the reduced commute boundary. Additionally, they are still spending a much longer time in transit. These policies also interact with other well-intentioned policies such as minimum wage laws that further limit the opportunity of youth and people from other vulnerable groups.


Raising the minimum wage is popular and clearly can help the lifestyle of some people. These actions do not come without a cost on the other side. A Recent Congressional Budget Office report noted, “But some jobs for low-wage workers would probably be eliminated, the income of most workers who became jobless would fall substantially, and the share of low-wage workers who were employed would probably fall slightly.” (CBO, 2014) It is the young worker that these issues are most likely to impact. Youth lack the contacts that develop after a long and diverse job path which so often open the door to higher job opportunities. This is due to transportation issues limiting their ability to flood the commute area with applications and in-person follow up, the likelihood of getting an interview decreases. In addition, a business or individual’s willingness to take a chance on an under skilled worker decreases as the cost increases. When you combine this with an education system that is focused on academics over entry-level job training, the disadvantage begins to grow larger.

For decades our education system has focused on sending every child to college, so they can have a good career and secure financial independence. We have ignored or discounted the training needs of janitors, hairdressers, warehouse workers and other service or manual labor based career paths. Local schools should be seen as palaces of opportunity by the youth of our poor communities. Instead they are designed based on middle and upper class experiences and values. They don’t focus on immediate and practical job skills, they are seen as disconnected and even insulting to those who could benefit the most. The youth in families whose primary job experience is manual labor or service based have a difficult time justifying the time an expense of a college degree when they struggle to buy food and clothes today. If our educational system can’t benefit their perceived needs of today, they have a difficult time seeing how our current educational system will benefit them in the future. This system leaves the under privileged youth at an even greater disadvantage when unintended consequences begin to interplay.


It would not be fair to claim there has been an assault on the employment opportunities of our youth. As was noted in a recent newspaper article, “individuals, society and the economy suffer from a generation hamstrung by poor, little or no work experience” (Budig & Heaps, 2014). The individual policy decision have been driven by good intentions and a genuine desire to help people and society. Yet, the lack of focus on the combined negative consequences is leaving our society ill prepared to deal with these long term issues of youth unemployment being made worse by zoning regulations that have separated entry-level jobs from poor communities, minimum wage increases pricing youth out of jobs (CBO, 2014), and an educational system that focuses on academic education even for those that would benefit from a more practical educational path.



Budig, G., & Heaps, A. (2014, May 4). Unemployment a crisis for youth: Column. Retrieved October 16, 2014, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/05/04/economy-youth-unemployment-jobs-america-column/8471769/
The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income. (2014, February 18). Retrieved October 13, 2014, from http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44995

Evaluating OOTP for class

jazzrack Saturday October 11, 2014

an evaluation essay of Out of the Park Baseball for school



 Out of the Park Baseball is a difficult game to describe. Is it even a game? Is it a simulation? Is it a community based hobby? Can it be true that out of the Park Baseball is all three? There is no button mashing, no hand-eye coordination needed. This is a text based simulation, a game that is played with the brain. Out of the Park Baseball is the best sports management simulation on the market because of it customization, statistical depth and community.



Out of the park baseball has unsurpassed customization tools. In many sports simulations, the designers are attempting to replicate current or historical situations of professional or college sports leagues. The effort to accomplish this gives the user minimal flexibility. Out of the Park Baseball does the opposite; it gives the user the ability to create almost any baseball world they can think of. A user can attempt to re-create baseball history, mix historical and fictional aspects or go all the way to completely fictional universes. It is not just the basic league structure that the user can customize, it also has a flexible financial, coaching and scouting system. But where Out of the Park Baseball really stands out is in statistical depth.

Statistical output is the meat of any sports simulation but the backbone of statistical output are the ratings systems and simulation engine. In Out of the Park Baseball the ratings system is a highly complex system that breaks down the various skills that it takes to play baseball and assigns a numerical value for potential talent and current ability. It is not just the physical abilities or running, throwing and hitting that the program tries to simulate, it also assigns a value to less tangible qualities like work ethic, intelligence, leadership & greed then combines these ratings with a customizable preferred set of statistical totals and simulates each interaction, from “on the field” all the way to contract negotiations. These creations can feel real enough for users to practice the 7 stages of decision making, as defined by UMass Dartmouth (2011). Identify the decisions to be made, gathering information, examine alternatives, weighing evidence, make decisions, and take action and review decisions and consequences. A member of a robust online community has shared a story about how he uses Out of the Park baseball in his classroom to engage his students while practicing decision making.



The community that has evolved is an important part of the success of out of the Park Baseball game engine. Not only has the Out of the Park baseball community helped define the direction of customization and statistical engine, the members share, with blog like write-ups called dynasties, some of these users create whole fictional worlds as detailed as any novel. The community members also tips, strategies, failures and successes. Some community members compete in micro-communities called online leagues where people of diverse backgrounds and locations get together and not just compete to see who can play the simulation better than others, but to become real close knit communities that develop real relationships.

Out of the Park Baseball has become a product that is greater than the sum of its parts. Customization gives the user maximum flexibility. Statistical depth provides a richer individual experience. The on line capability gives the individual user the opportunity for an even richer community experience. As a result Out of the Park Baseball has become the best sports management simulation yet made.





Decision-making process. (2011). – UMass Dartmouth. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from


Here I Sit

jazzrack Thursday September 18, 2014


 So I wrote an essay for class and was encouraged to use it for a blog post (thanks Shauna) I thought about re-writing it for the different audience, but decided I didn’t need the extra writing project right now and it probably has more meaning this way.



As I sit staring at the cursor as it mockingly blinks at me I wonder what I could possibly have been thinking when I decided I should return to school after 25 years of working on assembly lines and in warehouses. Because of an anxiety disorder that makes expressing myself problematic, I am finding the assignment, to narrate an experience with a writing or reading task that I find difficult or challenging, is my biggest writing challenge to date. As a result of my anxiety disorder, my trip through formal education was difficult. My career path led to my writing experience being mostly in bullet points and my hobbies are done in live and unscripted video. Stir in a dab of post-concussion syndrome and the written form has become my biggest obstacle when trying to get my point across. This writing assignment has been the most challenging for me, which is significant because it’s helping me unlearn old habits and learn a writing process that respects my anxiety and sets me up for future success at school and in my career.

As I think back I realize that for as long as I can remember communication has been difficult. My trains of thought move so fast that when writing my fingers can’t keep up. The spoken word becomes quick, low in volume and enunciation takes a back seat to just getting the thoughts out. This caused many issues throughout my educational career. From being thought of as just shy in early grades to the dreaded “you have so much potential if you would just apply yourself” as I grew older and my attendance level dropped. It simply was not understood that shyness is a symptom of anxiety. For me the condition exists on such an all-consuming level that it became less exhausting to limit my participation in an effort to compensate for what I can best describe as sensory overload from the educational environment. This limiting of participation had negative side effects when it came to writing. I learned to write to pass, not how to write effectively. The distinction was huge as I moved from school to a career path.
The anxiety issues did not leave me barren of job skills. In a small team or individualized workplace setting my ability to listen and my personal observation skills allowed me to learn and progress in a company fairly well, to a point. As long as the most complex writing to be done was an accident report form or bullet points of production challenges things were ok. However, when I would progress to a point where more communication was required to keep progressing in a company the added stress would trigger more anxiety and I would revert to the learned process of minimal participation. Of course, since the company would want me to reach my full potential there would be some understandable disappointment, usually from somebody who gave me a break. This would feed the anxiety disorder until I would have to change environments or I would have an anxiety-induced nervous breakdown. This cycle repeated its self until I realized that I needed to form a new relationship with my anxiety disorder and I needed to practice alternative forms of communication.

There are a number of ways I use to practice communication; the most effective has been the use of live video streaming. I learned the attempt to follow a script or even a general outline creates more avenues for anxiety to invade. By going live and unscripted once the stream is up the only anxiety trigger is the camera. I have no time to over analyze, no script or outline to try and follow. My genuine thoughts must bubble to the surface or I must turn the camera off. Since these are mostly hobby related videos, the audience is friendly and expectations are low. Because of this moderate success, I was beginning to feel confident about new skills and the progress I was making in coping with my anxiety disorder related communication problems when a small home accident changed the equation.

It was as much a normal day as any, I was a few days late for my monthly cleaning of the HVAC filter and I had a few minutes so I took it outside and washed it off. But when I turned off the faucet, I turned around, stood up and hit my head on the pole of my son’s basketball apparatus. At first it didn’t seem such a big deal, it hurt a little bit but really not that bad. It didn’t take long thought before I started feeling more serious effects and a trip to the hospital became required. After 3 months of mostly blank memory, a variety of tests and a number of doctor visits I was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. This syndrome and its consequences have spent quite a bit of time in the news recently. For me, other than the gap in my memory, the biggest ongoing issue is that it has turned up the intensity of my anxiety disorder. So, my normal anxiety issues became more intense and more ever-present. This did also have a benefit; it forced me to reconsider the nature of my anxiety disorder. Instead of “fighting” or “battling” through the disorder I decided to develop a relationship with it, then evolve that relationship into something more functional. Part of the evolution is to return to college for a degree.

And that all leads me back to the reason I was staring at the cursor, I understand the reason for this assignment is more than just an exercise in proper grammar or even getting my thoughts onto the screen. It is about unlearning old habits and learning a writing process that both honors my anxiety and sets me up for future academic and career success. For me the successful completion of this difficult writing assignment is more than another assignment, it is an opportunity to continue to change and improve my life.

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