Tuesday, August 17, 2010

the Manos Cavalry's 3rd consecutive victory

Here is a message from Kevin Lybarger, Steven's teammate and friend from Seattle U:


"Manos Cavalry claimed its third straight victory this year at the Spokane to Sandpoint relay race, beating the competition by 45 minutes. The team had some excellent performances this year. Mikey (Mickey according to the race announcer) and Carlos each ran two sets of legs totaling 35-40 miles. Todd and Dave ran strong and even biked along several runners during the night sections. Alex (Matt's girlfriend) ran amazing and showed us yet again that she could have made an excellent cross country runner. Kelly destroyed the competition in the time trial, beating the 2nd place girl by 3 minutes. Floppy ran great, including a leg in a pair of full length long underwear in 85 degree heat. Matt ran the fastest he has ran since college. I took on Doomsday hill again and am ready to do it again next year.

A great time was had by all. Steve would have loved it.

Go Hawks!"
Dave

Guam Dave to Floppy (Nathan)

Floppy to Todd

Mikey

Carlos to Alex

Kevin

Floppy and Carlos

This year's team: Nathan Heitzinger, Kevin Lybarger, Dave Neilsen, Carlos Siqueiros,
Todd Nishida, Kelly Fullerton, Alex, Matt Blaine, Michael Hughes

And here is the SU magazine article written last year about the Manos Cavalry:

Steven certainly would love it.

Amie and I attended the first race two years ago with a slightly different subset of the entire Cavalry. The love and respect these teammates and friends share is beyond words. Steven was blessed to have such wonderful friends, and fortunately, he knew it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blueberries on August 19th


As most of you know, Steven loved blueberries. Tom and Jean had probably convinced him this blue cupcake was a blueberry. This other photo suggests the likely destruction...


As Jean has planned, you might take this day to remember him with a sweet, blueberry treat, guilt-free...it would make him happy.

Last year someone gave Jean a Happy Birthday card, which is fitting. I am sure August 19th, 1981, was one of the three most wonderful days for Tom and Jean. Jean, tonight I look forward to your baked, blueberry treat!

Somewhere in between the innocent, blueberry pie attacking toddler and the (mostly) serious grad student are some crazy birthday stories, from my understanding. I hope all remember the (too few) happy birthday adventures you shared with him.

We love you so much Steven!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

We love you Steven.

Thank you everyone for your love and support.

- The Manos clan and Jenny



I wanted to be sure everyone saw Mary Heiland's comment (thanks Mary):

Many of you came to the rosaries we did last year at Ss. Simon & Jude in honor of Steven and felt the power of prayer and community.

This Friday, July 24th, we are hoping that everyone can join us at 8 a.m. to pray from wherever you are. Say the rosary or pray in your own special way. If you can't pray at 8 a.m. just pray sometime that day.

There was such a powerful feeling at our rosaries and I'm sure Jean, Tom, Ryan, Amie and Jenny (along with the entire Manos clan) will feel our love and support as they commemorates this anniversary.

Peace...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A thankful Anniversary

Today is the anniversary of the night Steven and I exchanged "vows" on our own. It seems like yesterday. Fortunately, I wrote down my thoughts immediately after we talked, so I have a detailed account of the entire event. It was very tough to reread after a year, but I am so thankful for those moments. I guess I want to repost what I wrote in a comment last year, as a way to honor this day and our love. I also want to use this day as a chance to remember what commitment means...not my commitment to him, but the honor and love he showed me for three years, taking care of me and bringing me more happiness in those three years than I could hope to experience in a lifetime.

A conversation led to him pulling out the ring MawMaw gave him to give to me. I took Poppie's ring out of my jewelry box, where we were saving it until the day we made the commitment "official." However, as I've said, and as he and I discussed that night, our commitment began nearly the day we met. On one of the motivation posters we made, we began a list of things he wanted to accomplish in his life. One day I returned from school, and he had written "Jenny Rae Hawkins." I am so thankful MawMaw and Poppie gave us the chance to make that "official" commitment, as he wanted to do. Though the pain still is intense, I have faith our souls will meet again, somehow. I love you Sunshine.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

I don't know what to say, but I want to try to convey my love for Steve. After Steve left us, I stayed up and just wrote. Anything I try to write now won't satisfy me, so I decided to just post what I wrote that night...

Steven and I's assigned cubicle chairs in the Economics Department our first year of graduate school were probably no more than six feet apart. He sat behind my left shoulder, and I behind his left shoulder. We both are lefthanded, which meant to glance left-back at the other, the pencil had to be paused. I knew, and I knew Steven knew, a prolonged pencil pause from problem solving meant "I'm stuck". What else do you do but look left-back at your new classmate to see if his pencil pause might mean he is stuck, too? So during the first few weeks of school, two simultaneous pencil pauses and glances left-back led to study partners. Study partners led to best friends, and quickly we knew we were soul mates.

I wouldn't say I knew or even believed in the concept of a soul mate before I met Steven, but I can't explain our relationship any other way. One day during math camp, while discussing some math problem, I realized looking into his big blue eyes was distracting me from figuring out this math problem! I knew our friendship would be something more from that day forward. No matter how determined I was to make graduate school the only focus in life, I couldn't ignore that the blue eyes of my study partner-turned-friend were making me blush.

We realized quickly we were such a great team. We called ourselves the Green Machine, because one day a few of our classmates pointed out we were both wearing mostly green, seemingly coordinated clothing. We understood each other's weaknesses, and found even those weaknesses beautiful. I told Steven one day I knew he truly loved me because all my weaknesses to him were lovable...what a sweetheart. We each had a soul that only felt true happiness and comfort when the other's was always near. We frequently discussed that even if something did tear us apart physically, as it now has, those souls were joined as the Green Machine, and that's why we considered ourselves soul mates.

Love is expressed through actions and not defined by a word. There are many types of boyfriends and husbands, but a soul mate is just that. Steven gave me a ring several weeks ago, passed down to him from MawMaw, and we held our own private commitment ceremony. Steven was given his Popi's wedding ring a few years ago, so I put it on his finger, and he didn't take the ring off from that evening on. But the ceremony felt silly -- between the trials of graduate school and our illness, our commitment was proven long ago.

We had 36 months together, for which we lived a lifetime.

Luckily, we realized this often. We truly were in shock for how much love we had for each other. We had each other to cry with during the many emotional periods of graduate school. We realized often some of our best memories were just talking and laughing at night for a few hours after an exhausting 18-hour day. In fact, the majority of our time together was spent at our cubicles, the basement of the law library, or the health sciences library. We studied, rather than went on real dates, but loved (nearly) every moment. We absolutely never grew tired of each other under so many stressful circumstances. Our chemistry naturally allowed us to be so patient with each other. During any time we could take off, we tried to take it together and had a no-more-than-three-days-apart rule. I guess being around someone so many hours, day after day, time apart was absolutely devastating. We never grew tired of each other, which constantly amazed us. We traveled together during a few breaks and have wonderful memories of our adventures.

Few have the opportunity to spend nearly every hour of every day with their best friend. For the first 25 months of knowing each other, we estimated that on average, no more than four hours per day were spend not by each other's side. What a blessing I have been given to have been able to live so much with him during such a short time.

We agreed from the day of his diagnosis we would fight as a team. His soul is so precious, I couldn't do less than fight this battle as hard as I could with him. We still had happy memories, like relaxing walks in the Foothills, dancing to the great songs suggested by his supporters, discussions about economics, and nighttime talks. During these ten months, we tried so hard to find good and stay positive. I would ask him often what happiness he found that day. Especially the past few months, I would ask him before going to bed, hoping he didn't find any day unimportant or uneventful, but we always found moments of success and
happiness existed in every day. A few hours before he left us, we kissed during a moment he was feeling overwhelmed, and after our lips locked he said "That was a good one!" That was a gift Steven shared with many of us -- staying calm during a rough situation. These past ten months were more brutal than most could imagine; yet all of us who saw his suffering also saw him never complain.

I found my soul mate, so I don't feel I said goodbye to Steven tonight. I had to let Steven physically go, but I was so fortunate to lay by his side with his amazing parents, sister and brother. Steven was a special gift to me, but his entire family has been an extra blessing for which my gratitude and love can't be expressed. I feel so lucky to have that big fireball of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandma, parents, brother and sister in my life.

A song by Michelle Featherstone, titled "I'm there too" has always been in the back of my mind for the past ten months. I recall he and I lying on the bed, discussing these lyrics in detail. How would our souls still be together when we were physically apart? We talked about this often. We never could have imagined this parting could be ten months away. Once he was diagnosed, we mourned the life we very likely wouldn't have together growing old. Later, we mourned the likelihood we might not have children. But I never imagined ten months. I haven't wanted to listen to this song since his diagnosis, but now, a few hours after Steven has left me physically, I yearn to hear the words:

I see myself in you
In everything you do
And when you’re all alone at night
You know I am by your side
Cuz I’m there too

I see me in your eyes
And I’m the tears you cry
And when you fall apart
And are dying from a broken heart
I’m there too

I see your footsteps in the sand
As you journey on across this land
But if you should fall on your way
Then I will carry you that day
Cuz I’m there
I’m there too
Yeah I’m there too

I see your face in mine
And I know there’ll come a time
When you will take my hand
And I will understand
That you’re there too
When you will take my hand
And I will understand
That you’re there
You’re there too


I love you Steven.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Video...and a happy birthday to Jean

Today is Jean's birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEAN!)

I can't believe how much time has passed since the last post on Steven's blog. Life still is surreal, and I guess it is difficult to post because most days are incredibly tough to get through as is. However, it is my goal to post all those updates I or anyone else desires to share, so here is the first of many overdue updates. For Steven, I do it.

For Jean I do it today. I know she isn't much of a birthday celebrator, but she deserves a happy day. Each day we face has a memory of the same day one year ago. Sometimes it is hard to find the happiness in those memories. I so badly want her to think of happy memories today and to have a happy birthday. So here's a memory for her:

I believe a year ago today, give or take a day, Jean, Steven and I watched from the hospital a documentary called "King Corn". Most of you can probably still picture Steven's energy when he talked about something he was passionate about. His blue eyes sparkled, his hands and arms moved to the beat of every syllable he spoke, and he talked VERY LOUDLY. I loved it. He would get so fired up over the most seemingly random issues. Corn was one of them. High fructose corn syrup was a bad word to Steven. Grocery shopping took twice as long because he'd dissect the ingredients of everything, getting quite outraged to learn something was corn based. Watching this video with him is a happy memory. Now that I think about it, it was rude not to let Jean pick the video, considering it was her day...though, that would have left 2/3rds of us painfully pretending to enjoy a Mel Brooks film.

A few nights ago I came across Dwight Yoakam playing at the Grand Ole Opry. Steven loved Dwight, "the man who brought honky tonk back to country music," as they introduced him, as well as Dwight the actor. When Dwight played Honky Tonk Man, I thought of the video from Steven's rosary. I've wanted to post the video for those who didn't get to see it or who might want to watch it again. I hope it brings back happy memories for all who watch it, and especially today, for Jean. He would want you to think of the thousands of happy days he had with you.

-Jenny



video

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Living Tree Celebration

While the rest of the world focused on the election, we had a little pine tree on our minds on Election Day.

Yesterday morning we planted a pine tree in Central Phoenix's Granada Park in Steven's honor, as part of the City of Phoenix Living Tree Celebration program. We chose Granada Park, and specifically, a location near the starting line for Brophy cross country meets, because Steven ran many cross country meets there. During cross country season many will run by his tree, and every other day of the year his tree is kept company by a flock of birds who gather in desert brush just a few feet away. Steven's pine is located on the west side of Granada Park, close to the sidewalk leading off 20th Street, just north of Maryland.

A plaque will be installed in about six weeks with his name and a few of Steven's inspiring words. We hope runners and park visitors find in these few words the inspiration Steven blessed us with. Mostly, we hope it will be a peaceful spot, meaningful to Steven, where all can visit to think about him.

Steven's tree was blessed by Monsignor O’Grady, a very special priest to Steven. It's hard to find words to express what a wonderful man Monsignor O'Grady is; you feel at peace in his presence and want him to keep talking and not leave. He read scripture and blessed Steven's tree. As we stood talking with him, he commented how he had pondered the meaning of a "sacramental" and how, by its very meaning, Steven's tree is a sacramental for all of us, to help and bless us. Suddenly Steven's beautiful pine became even more special by Monsignor O'Grady's blessing and words. Though emotional, it was special.

Stop by and leave a note or flowers at Steven's pine anytime. For those not in the area, here are some photos of the tree and the park:






the new King of Granada Park (little guy in the center) with his flock of birds

Thank you so much to the following families for donating the tree in Steven's honor. It is a wonderful way we can honor him and keep the memory of his wonderful spirit alive forever:

DiCarlo Family, Nagaki Family, Heiland Family, Lundy Family, Thompson Family, DiSantiago Family, Perkey Family, Circello Family, Fairburn Family, Behrendt Family, Novotny Family, Ross Family, Parise Family, Nicchi Family, Mel Terkelson and Ryan Burke, Palazzalo Family, Jackson Family, Bickman Family Bonono Family, Heinley Family, Amrhein Family, Tanaka Family, Burruel Family, Hill Family, Esahak-Gage Family, Rhea Family, Stern Family, Beaudoin Family, Coltin Family, Gordon Tylor Family


Updates to Steven's blog

We will post updates of events held or to be held in Steven's honor, and we hope you continue to share your thoughts.


A direct link to his "Memory" post is above, under his name; we hope you share stories or any random thoughts of Steven as they come to you. Any little thought or story we hear about him makes this difficult time a bit more bearable for us, and we hope by putting your thoughts of him into words it brings you comfort, as well.

Friday, July 25, 2008

In Memory

IN MEMORY

Steven Michael Manos

August 19, 1981 - July 24, 2008

Steven peacefully passed away at home late last night with the five of us by his side. On Wednesday he made it known he was ready to stop fighting and be at peace.

Steve inspired many of us as a runner, graduate student, and friend even before he began fighting this disease. However, this fight has inspired us beyond his many accomplishments, revealing his gentle soul and fighting spirit. We will miss his beautiful smile that blessed us when we least expected such strength.

The many contributions to Steven's blog gave him and many of us strength to fight and have joy even on the roughest days. Your continued contribution of memories will help us all remember how this disease could never destroy his strong, sweet spirit.

We will update this posting with service information as soon as it is determined.

As commented last week, the Steven Manos Scholarship Fund raised over $10,000 in gifts from several of Steve's professors in the first few days of its announcement. If you would like to add your gift to honor Steve, you can do so by any of the following means:

By credit card, at http://econ.arizona.edu/gift.htm
(Be sure to designate your gift "Economics Manos Fund")
By calling Lana Sooter at (520) 621-2821.
By sending a check, payable to "UA Foundation, Manos Fund", to Lana Sooter, Economics Department, U of Arizona, Tucson AZ 85721-0108.

-Jenny

-------------------------------------------------
UPDATE:

Visitation 6:00pm; Rosary 7:00pm, Tuesday, May 29th, at Brophy Chapel, 4701 North Central Avenue

Memorial Mass 1:00pm, Wednesday, May 30th, at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, 6351 North 27th Avenue

Sunday, June 29, 2008

More Treatments

A few few weeks ago I was faced with the decision of what to do as far as treatment goes. I could stay with my current oncologist, but he was going to leave after a month and I would would be left with no one in Tucson. So I decided to meet with a family friend who is an oncologist in Phoenix, to get his opinion. I really like his plan, so we are going with it. It involves 2 chemo drugs as well as one drug that works like chemo but technically it not.

Unfortunately my body had a very adverse reaction to the chemo and I ended up in and out of the hospital 4 times, which was pretty tough. So I had to take a lower dose of chemo this last time. Hopefully everything goes well !!!!

I am just happy to be home for an extended period of time and not in the hospital!

Monday, May 5, 2008

the road to travel

Well, today I got the news that the cancer has spread to the lungs. I wasn't surprised and was prepared for the news as we knew it was a very legitimate possibility.

I don't want to view it as bad news, it is just another road that I have to go down. Things will be different than before, because treatment is different for vital organs than not. Obviously you have to be very careful about how you treat the lungs, and cannot use the same approach as on the neck. I meet with my medical oncologist tomorrow and will know more about what type of treatment I will be going through. It sounds like chemotherapy is more the route than radiation, because your lungs can't really handle much radiation.

I am going to do all I can to fight it. I spoke to an attending oncologist this morning who was really helpful and I really liked. I had heard such bleak things about what happens when squamous cell spreads to the lungs and was obviously concerned. She just said you can't go by statistics derived from other people because you are your own unique individual and there is no reason not to put yourself in the small pool of people that survive this. So is just what I am going to do, put myself in the pool of people that survive.

Also, please no more posts about me drinking alcohol. One of the causes of oral cancer is alcohol and I probably won't drink again for the rest of my life; and I could really care less about it. I don't think that's what has caused this but am perfectly happy not drinking again, and don't think that I could even stomach the thought for a long time. I know most of you didn't know this because I hadn't posted it, but the last thing I want to do is drink.

Steve

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Back to Square 1

This Tuesday I saw my medical oncologist to see if we could find out why I have been feeling so poorly. He didn't think it was an infection and wanted to investigate other options. What he pointed out is that two spots showed up in my chest on my head and neck CT scans. These could be a few things, but they could be putting pressure on veins going to my head and disrupting bloodflow.

I had a CT done on just my chest today to investigate further, and it showed no signs of pressure on any veins. However, it did show multiple spots in my chest. At least one is over a centimeter that puts it in the "worrisome" category. The oncologist speculates that it is either valley fever, or that the cancer has spread to the chest. If you remember, the original suspicions by the oral surgeon was that I had valley fever, tuberculosis or cancer.

So, I will have a biopsy done of at least the largest node to see what is going on. Of course it is frustrating to think that I may have to go through a lot more, but we don't know what it is yet, and it could just be something like valley fever. That would explain why I have also been feeling so poorly.

Whatever happens happens, and I will post when I find out the results of the biopsy.

Steve

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why I haven't been posting

For some reason, the Saturday before last I got really tired during the day and had to lay down for a few hours. Then on Sunday the same thing happened. By the week and still until today, I lay in bed 20 hours a day. I feel completely exhausted and week and yet cannot really sleep. Even if I do fall asleep I wake up about every hour coughing up mucus. The mucus has gotten better but my esophagus is more swollen shut and it causes me to gag on the mucus.

I saw my radiation oncologist this week and did blood work and an x-ray but nothing came out of it. So, next week I see my medical oncologist about it, because he used to be an internist (i.e. practiced internal medicine) and may be able to better diagnose the problem. Any other internist would have been weeks to be able to see.

It has been frustrating, but what has been most frustrating is the not being able to drink. I am at the point where I have no desire to eat, but I crave sweet drinks. Even ice water would bring me incredible happiness. (Read Skeletons of the Zahara to understand how I feel). I would love a slurpee, sprite, or cold coke. And last night I dreamt I made my own root beer and it was delicious.

But so as not to be depressing, last night I came up with a great solution. I just took a glass of juice, and kept taking swigs and spitting it out. Its not quite as good as actually swallowing, but you get all the flavor so I really enjoyed it and will probably keep doing it today.

Also, yesterday I got a nice care package from the Seattle U track team. It was really flattering to be remembered and the coach talked with the Women's Volleyball coach and they are thinking of having a game called "Dig for the Cure" and I would be the opening speaker. That really made my day to hear that. Thanks for all your support and comments lately. I have needed them and enjoy reading them.

Steve

Sunday, April 13, 2008

DJ Fraggle Rock

For those of you with Seattle U. connections, I recently received an email from the man you know as DJ Fraggle Rock (Reuben Joseph). As many of you may know Reuben is now in Iraq and was recently interviewed by a local Seattle tv station. I thought you would enjoy watching this. The first link is what actually aired and the second link is a complete interview with "Frags."

For those of you who don't know what I am talking about, Reuben was on the Seattle U track and cross-country team with me, and was also a DJ. If you remember an earlier post, he is the one who was running up and down the halls of a hotel at 2 in the morning after a meet screaming "Who got a Playstation!" Since he had met some other people he challenged to a game on the Playstation and wanted to settle the score.

Interview with KIRO tv

Full Interview

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Oral Cancer Awareness Week

Oral Cancer Awareness Week is coming up, April 21-27, and I hope to post information about oral cancer so that people can better understand it. I found this article on headandneck.org, an organization devoted to head and neck cancer.

Click Here

This many of of you have seen. It appeared in the Wall Street Journal:

Click Here

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

CT-scan

I had a CT-scan on Tuesday to measure my progress. It is not as detailed as something like a PET-scan, but it does provide some useful information. I had previously had a CT-scan maybe a month ago when I developed an infection, so they were able to compare the two to see how things have changed. The results showed that my lymph nodes are definitely improving. They had gone down since the previous CT-scan, and so the doctor was optimistic about the way things were going.

We will know a lot more in about two months though when I have a PET-scan. That is on May 14th, and it will tell us whether I really kicked the cancer's butt Chuck Norris style or whether the ENT will have to perform one more surgery.

I guess I better go watch some Walker Texas Ranger to learn sweet new moves!

Steve

Monday, March 24, 2008

Article with UA econ prof

Here is a great article by U of A Econ professor, Dr. Swanson. Dr. Swanson's popularity on campus is hard to describe; people love him so much. He has an incredible ability to explain economics in common sense terms and inspires a passion for the subject in all of his students.

Article

Friday, March 21, 2008

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day: "This isn't Carmen San Diego. This is the University of San Diego." -- CBS Sports Announcer.

I wish I was playing Where in the World is Carmen San Diego right now. Of course I can't download it because it is not compatible with Windows Vista. I checked and The Oregon Trail is also not compatible with Vista. Good work Bill Gates. For those of you interested:

Carmen San Diego

The Oregon Trail

Both have dowload options.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sun Devils

It wasn't just bad news for Sun Devil fans this weekend. There was also some good news.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

NCAA Tournament

I thought it would be fun to have a tournament pool for everyone who reads the blog. Anyone is welcome to join.

You just need to go to here and set up a user id and password.

Then go here to join the Mighty Ducks group. The group name is Mighty Ducks. The group abbreviation is mightyducks, and the group password is gordon_bombay.

I think that should do it. If not let me know, but I think it should be easy with the information I have given you to join the group. If people have better suggestions then just post them under the comments.

The Candidates

Who is the only candidate for curtailing the monstrous amount of farm subsidies doled out every year that are keeping poor countries from being able to sell their products? Click here

Hint: It is the same candidate who is the only one for ending the ethanol subsidies. Click here

But what's wrong with Ethanol. Click here

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Poor Yankees

A Yankees player makes a terribly hard slide into a Devil Rays' shortstop, gets fined and somehow the Yankees are the victims in all this. Look at what Hank Steinbrenner had the gall to say. Note: you may want to throw up if you c0ntinue reading. In fact reading this made me more nauseous than any chemo treatment.

This time, Yankees general partner Hank Steinbrenner took up the charge, reaffirming the front office's support of manager Joe Girardi, backing the players and making a comment that clearly was directed at the small-market Rays.

"I don't want these teams in general to forget who subsidizes a lot of them, and it's the Yankees, the Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets," he said to The New York Post. "I would prefer if teams want to target the Yankees that they at least start giving some of that revenue sharing and luxury tax money back. From an owner's point of view, that's my point."

I guess not wanting to get cleated in the chest counts as going as going after the Yankees.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Brophy Lacrosse

Last night was the final tune-up for the Broncos before their trip to D.C. for the Jesuit High School Lacrosse Classic. The Broncos looked tough and so did freshman sensation Ryan "Manny" Manos. Manos was put it at goalie to replace Junior, Duke-committed goalie Pierce and notched a very impressive save, allowing only one goal.

The defending state champion Broncos will have their hands full as the tournament is "arguably the country's premier high school lacrosse tournament." The tournament features tough teams like #5 ranked Georgetown Preparatory School.

Good luck Broncos!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

life in the Old Pueblo

I have been resisting temptations to link to any articles, so I just thought I would give an update on what has been going on. Although, it is likely more articles will be coming!

At the beginning of my treatment, my Aunt Maryanne had her class make cards for me, which was really nice, and one card stood out among all the others. It was from a girl who had Leukemia and told me she knew what I was going through. Here is a picture of it:

The card has been a great reminder that there are worse things to go through than my type of cancer. Going to treatments, you always see people that remind you that life could be a lot tougher.

I have been fortunate to have an incredible amount of support and that has made all the difference in the world. I have been amazed at how many people visit this blog!

Still, things have not been improving quite as fast as I had hoped, but it is definitely nice not to have to go get radiation every day. You can't complain when you get to sleep in until noon and then read and surf the internet all day! So, this isn't complaining, just telling you what's going on. It is still difficult to talk, so I rarely do it. My throat is really raw, which makes talking difficult, and has kept me from eating. The other problem is that I produce a lot of mucus in my mouth, and there is some blood in the mucus. Once the blood stops showing up in the mucus, I think that will be a good signal for my throat having healed.

From here on out, I meet with the radiation oncologist every week for the next three weeks, will have a CT scan in two weeks, and a PET-scan in about three months. The PET and CT scans are to make sure that we have gotten everything. My ear, nose, and throat doctor/surgeon is a little worried about two nodes on the left side of my neck that still appear enlarged. If they do show up positive, I will have to have another surgery to remove (many of) the lymph nodes on the left side of my neck. (Many of the right ones are already gone.) So, I am starting a routine of meditation and hopefully yoga to try alternative healing. Also, I am starting to put together recipes of healthier cancer fighting meals for when I can eat again. (Note: this does not rule out eating Greek style macaroni and cheese.)

It has been nice to have visitors. I have gotten great visits from Ted, the Dude, Lynn, Maw Maw, and Mary (and my family). I know I have discouraged visiting when I wasn't feeling well, but if people want to now, they are more than welcome. For those of you in Seattle or who want to go to Seattle I hope to go there in about a month. I will give an update on that as plans solidify for those who would want to meet up there.

For my fellow runners, I think we are hoping to set up some sort of reunion/get together. Let me know what you think.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Baby Blankets

Two of my friends started a baby blanket company and they are producing the coolest blankets. Here is a link to their website. I never imagined I would be passionate about baby blankets, but I am about these. Also, please don't get one for Mary and Danny; I think they already got enough loot.

Steve

Sunday, March 9, 2008

photos from my walks

One of my favorite ways to recuperate is to go on walks at night. It is so peaceful and gorgeous in the foothills that I am always more relaxed and content afterwards. On weeknights my dad, Jen, and I have a 2.5 mile route that we usually do and I just finished a nice walk with my mom and Jen.

I decided to post a few pictures of the walks and the surrounding area.

The women of Placita Bacanora:


Snow in Tucson!



My mom and I:

Friday, March 7, 2008

More

I have to admit that the articles I linked to earlier are from Greg Mankiw's blog. Greg is a famous economist who has served on the President's Council of Economic Advisors and wrote the most commonly used intro to Econ textbook.

I found this article on NAFTA

http://www.american.com/archive/2008/march-02-08/doing-a-job-on-nafta

And this slide show is a GREAT explanation of what happened in the subprime markets. WARNING: it is PG13 for some strong language-i.e. Mom you should probably skip this one. If you look at one of the two, look at this. It is pretty funny.

http://docs.google.com/TeamPresent?docid=ddp4zq7n_0cdjsr4fn&skipauth=true&pli=1

Thursday, March 6, 2008

one more economics post

I really liked both articles, so I am going to respond to Billy's post. Jim we can discuss more over making some calzones, and Bean we can discuss more when I come up to the Great Northeast.

I just wanted to clarify why the government gives tax breaks to U.S. companies that locate overseas. At first it seems like some horrible Republican scheme to make the rich richer; it seems like some way to promote the corporate greed that is strangling the poor and American culture.

I know this is what it sounds like, but there is what I think a logical explanation for it; although Barak and Hillary would like the people of Ohio to think this is why they have lost their jobs. The explanation is that at some point it became popular for American companies to repatriate to foreign countries to take advantage of both cheap labor and lower tax rates. Many developing countries like Vietnam were able to experience high economic growth rates by creating Export Processing Zones (EPZs) or Free Trade Zones (FTZs) which are areas of the country that are designated as trade barrier free and tax free. So American companies could move there and pay no corporate taxes and could import intermediate products without paying any tariffs. In other words, they are areas of the country that literally practice free trade. As my uncle Jim pointed out, in the U.S. and all other countries, we don't really practice free trade.

The U.S. suffered not only from job losses, but also started losing a significant amount of income in the form of lost income taxes. So, the U.S. wanted to devise a way to keep these companies from repatriating. In other words, the U.S. wanted to let companies move elsewhere and still tax them. The solution was to offer them a lower corporate tax rate- i.e. give them a tax break. The idea being if we don't do this we lose their taxes and so we might as well accept less taxes rather than none.

I was not aware of Barak Obama's plan to give tax breaks to companies that stay here. In general I don't see why you wouldn't just lower the corporate tax rate to make it more attractive for companies to locate here. Part of it is that I am not a believer in all these amendments to our tax system, and am in favor of simplifying things.

But what does this mean for the strength of the dollar? Well, anything that makes it more attractive to invest in U.S. companies means that would strengthen the dollar. More prosperous U.S. companies means more foreigners want to invest in the U.S. and to do this they need U.S. dollars. This increase in demand for U.S. dollars increases the value of the dollar. I am not really sure if this answers your question.

I don't know what the impact on exports would be on more companies locating here, because the dollar may strengthen hurting exports, but we are also producing more; so I don't know what the net effect is.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Two Posts in One Day

I am only posting twice, because I am watching the election results come in and NAFTA is turning out to be one of the main issues for the Democrats. So, I am linking to two articles. The first article is a "conservative" article explaining how NAFTA is not the problem

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/03/rescuing_the_rust_belt.html

The second article is for you "liberals". It is about why Obama is a better pick for people who believe in free trade. I don't know if I believe it, but it is interesting.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f24fa1c4-e92b-11dc-8365-0000779fd2ac.html

By the way, the articles are written by two of the most respected economists. Let me know what you think.

Recovery

It has been a little while since I posted because there hasn't really been much to update on. One of the worst problems that came with the radiation is that I constantly am producing a ton of mucus in my mouth. So, I am always spitting into Kleenex to try and get rid of it. It is pretty gross and keeps me up all night. I also have a lot of mucus in my chest and other areas which keeps me up. I thought this problem would at least diminish by now, but there has been no real progress. Also, my throat is still really sore from the radiation.

So, it looks like it will still be a while before I can eat, but all in all, I am in good spirits. It is really nice not to have to go in for radiation therapy everyday! Yesterday, I went to a Diamondbacks spring training game, and Saturday I went for a great hike with my mom, sister, and the Dude. So, I am back to being pretty active again. Thank you all for your continued support.

Steve

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Perspective

I wanted to write a little bit to put some perspective on what I have been through. First, I would not have been able to do what I did without the man standing to my left in the picture- my dad. My dad took a six month leave of absence from work just to come stay with me in Tucson and take care of me. I initially underestimated how hard all this would be and thought that it was really nice of him, but that he might not have much caretaking work. Boy was I wrong. There is no way I would have done this without a caretaker as loving, compassionate, and dedicated as my dad. He has put his life on hold solely for the purpose of constantly taking care of my every need. For this I am eternally grateful, and I know this would have been much tougher without him.

My second caretaker is a woman who set a record for amount of throw up cleaned up in a two week period. That is Jen. She tirelessly researched everything to do with head and neck cancer, and was beyond prepared to tell me what was normal and what people were doing whenever I came across a problem. Beyond that she is responsible for me having such high spirits through the whole ordeal. Any time I got to see her was a time for me to just be happy. For Valentine's day, she decorated my room, and almost everyday throughout the whole treatment she did at least something as simple as leaving me a note. Since she learned so much about the whole process she was an invaluable resource for keeping me doing what I needed to be doing.

My ultimate perspective on the whole thing is that I had to go through something very unfortunate, but it was simply something that I had to do. Any of you would have done the same thing. When you are faced with this situation, there is just no other option besides to fight. And I fought a miserable, cruel fight. I don't and never have viewed my situation as tragic. There are much worse things that can happen to one in life. As far as bad things go, I got off relatively easy. I will have to sacrifice through changing my lifestyle for the next few years, but for other tragedies the recovery is not that easy.

I hope my sister doesn't mind me bringing her up, but she is my true hero and source of inspiration, because she went through a legitimate tragedy. Her journey was harder than mine, and I would go through my treatment forever if it meant having to avoid what she has been through. And yet, her situation never got the kind of press someone going through cancer gets. I don't even know if she got as much support as I got. What I have realized through all this is to pay attention to all suffering, not just the ones that are obvious. I hope to keep forever, the sensitivity that this terrible disease has given me.

Steve

video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kSfRkOjmKQ

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Done

I will definitely keep the blog going through my first Berto's burrito. I should still have some more interesting stuff to post, although hopefully it's all good.

Today was a very exciting and emotional day. It's hard to describe how overwhelming it was to have them take off the mask for the last time. The radiation technicians gave me a special diploma and a rose for having completed the 33 radiation treatments. Everyone was so supportive.

One of my fellow cancer fighters gave me an incredible card. He came up to me one day about a week ago and said him and his wife have been praying for me even though we had never even met. Then, today, he gave me very nice congratulatory card. I can't tell you how thankful I am to people like that and to all of you who have shown me such incredible support. I truly love you all. You have made this a lot easier on me and I am forever grateful.

Steve

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

tomorrow

Tomorrow is my last day of treatment! I should finish about 2:00. The radiation starts at 1:30 and lasts about a half an hour. It will be a very welcome ending. I have been feeling pretty terrible lately. I threw up 5 times yesterday and once two hours ago. I actually started this blog then had to go take a break. I don't know what is causing all this but I can't wait for it to go away.

Thanks to all the people cheering me on. It will still be a little bit of a challenge after all this is over, but at least i can rest all the time. It will take a little while for my mouth to heal up, but hopefully the healing process goes quickly.

Steve

Saturday, February 23, 2008

stew

To my list of what I am going to eat, I need to add my grandma's stew. I am watching Jen and my mom eat it right now and it is absolute torture. Maw Maw, can you make this for me when I am feeling better?

Steve

movies

Using my Blockbuster gift card, last weekend I rented three movies: Rocket Science, Waking Ned Devine, and King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, and all were superb. But, King of Kong really stole the show. If you haven't seen it, it is a documentary about a man from Redmond, WA and his quest to get the highest Donkey Kong score of all time. He is up against current record holder Billy Mitchell, who also is the only person to ever get a perfect score in Pac-Man. The movie is really made by Billy who turns out to be the biggest buffoon in any documentary I have ever seen. You couldn't have written a better character if you tried. The bottom line is go to your nearest movie store, or Netflix King of Kong asap. It is the best humor documentary since Wordplay, although I don't want to say which one is better.

So, now this weekend, I am looking for more movies, and per Jim's suggestion, have decided to open up the forum to see what you think I should rent. I am looking for humorous or uplifting movies, although any movie in any genre will be considered fairly.

My top three come from my days sailing aboard the Misinclined. They are:
  1. Animal House
  2. Captain Ron
  3. Grumpy Old Men (or substitute Air Force One- "Get off my plane")
I actually had somewhat of a tough week. As I said earlier, I had to have chemo again on Tuesday, and i didn't really notice the effects at first, but starting on Thursday and continuing until now, I have felt really nauseous and out of it. I keep thinking that "tomorrow will be the day it passes" but that hasn't happened yet. Since I was feeling so bad, I actually couldn't go through with the radiation on Friday. I was just so nauseous and every time they put the mask on I just panicked. Finally, they gave me shot to calm me down, but that didn't work. Finally, I just called the whole thing off. So, instead of only having two days left, I still have three left. But that's ok. Only a half a week of treatment. I just need to get the nausea under control.

It's not too big of a deal, because my radiation oncologist actually wanted to take Friday off anyway. So, the finish line is still in site. Thanks for all your support.

Steve

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Thanks for all the book suggestions!

This was taken by Jen over the weekend. I bought three books this weekend. Thanks for all the great recommendations. I hope to get to them all at some point.

I had my last chemo treatment today! There was debate about whether or not to do it and if we should use the 5-FU. We decided to just do a small dose of Cisplatin and forgo the 5-FU since they think that's what wrecked my lips and neck. Also I only have five more days of radiation, so I can count down the days on one hand.

Steve

Saturday, February 16, 2008

new phone

I lost my phone at radiation about two weeks ago and finally got a new one today. The only problem is I don't have anyone's phone number anymore. Since it might be kind of weird to post that information on a public forum, you can email me at stevenmmanos@gmail.com or manoss@email.arizona.edu. Notice the two m's in the gmail address. Or you can just post here if you want. Thanks and I will have another update soon since I finished another week!

Steve

P.S. I still can't talk so don't be expecting any long chats but I can text message and my fingers seem to be doing fine through all this!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

books

Well I finished "The Road" by my favorite author Cormac McCarthy last night ("All the Pretty Horses" and "No Country for Old Men") but was thinking the whole time, "this is not the book to be reading while you are trying to stay in a good mood. It was superbly written and a great book, but it was just as weird and dark, although the ultimate message may have been good for my situation. The book is about a father and a son who wander the roads after most of civilization has been destroyed. There are very few other people alive and no animals survived some sort of tragedy that hit the earth. Very little happens, but it is a constant struggle for father and son to survive. The whole book is about not giving into the utter tragedy of the situation, but the situation is so tragic, it is hard to stay in a good mood while reading it. Plus, it is actually pretty suspenseful, which I think kept me from sleeping. I guess I am starting to say too much, but my point is, the book was great, but I want to read more uplifting material. (It doesn't sound like the greatest plot, but really is a good book.)

So, I am asking for suggestions as to what you think the most uplifting or humorous books are. My top three are:
  1. The Power of One
  2. Candide
  3. A Confederacy of Dunces
I have received good books from people, but I am running out and need something to read.

Good books people have given me are "New Rules" by Bill Maher (a book I found surprisingly funny), "I am America and So Can You" by Stephen Colbert (very funny) and "Pure Drivel" by Steve Martin (haven't listened to it yet). Also, I wouldn't classify it as an uplifting book but "A Fine Balance" was one of the most remarkable books I have read in a while if you are looking for something to read.

So any suggestions you have would be great.

Steve

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Back in the Saddle

I started radiation again yesterday, but before I talk about that I wanted to tie up a few loose ends with some previous posts.

Ted and Billy are right that Honey Bears and Berto's should be added to the Phoenix list respectively. As is my mom for suggesting El Chorro. My bad.

On the Seattle side, I had forgotten about the taco truck, because it was harder to keep track of than the dude. I thought it had gone the way of disco. But, if it still alive and well (apparently x3) then put them all on the list.

As far as San Diego goes, with me leaving off Sara's, Gabiano's, and the Bull Weevil, well, I never included San Diego in the cities, because the cities I listed were ones I hoped to visit by early summer, and the San Diego trip comes in late summer. Plus, nobody said Filipi's, which is still my favorite despite a seeming ambivalence from the rest of the family. Since this was left out, I don't feel too bad for excluding San Diego food.

I was very impressed with all the comments from the state of the economy post. Everybody really put a lot of thought into it. Even Seth's short comment was brilliant. It was interesting last night when I stumbled onto a website that had Econ t-shirts, and one shirt said, "Sure it works in practice, but does it work in THEORY." I had a pretty good chuckle, because that's the way academic economists seem to think. All the papers presented in the Econ department seminars have almost nothing to do with reality. This is a real problem for an economist when you then have to talk about real life situations. I think my own comments come from a point of view with an obvious lack of experience, and is one that relies more on theory. You can contrast that with the unbelievable insights of my uncles who showed great knowledge in how economics plays out daily in their jobs. I hate to single people out, but I was really impressed with Jim, David, Brian (not an uncle, but a former coach so close enough), and Bean's comments. I am sure we will get to talk more one on one in the future. And Bean it would be great to be discussing economics on the CT back roads again. I do feel I have some more arguments for you against the minimum wage but I will save them until then. But can't we agree that a national minimum wage of $11.15 is a little high? Like I said in the blog, I have to imagine that has an impact on poorer states like West Virginia.

My only other follow up discussion would be on OPEC. There was an interesting article in the Economist last summer I wish I could find, and will post if I do. The article was on three common economic misperceptions. Number two was that the current high oil prices are due to OPEC. While it is true that OPEC played a larger role in the oil shocks in the 70s, and was very successful controlling prices then, its influence is no longer as strong. Since 1973, OPEC has steadily lost ground in the world share of oil produced. It reached a high of 52% and now produces about 40%. This is not to say that OPEC can't alter prices, but if you look at modern day fluctuations in demand, they are a much better predictor of price changes. In other words, it is the old fashion laws of supply and demand rather than conspiratory cartel behavior that explains why oil is above $100 a barrel. The fact is that demand for oil has surged over the last few years and will continue to surge unless we are to change our behavior. These surges are what have caused the price increases. In other words, we are handcuffing our own hands and doing nothing about it. One blog reader sent me an interesting email saying sales of SUVs actually increased in 2007! With China booming and the U.S. consumer refusing to change his preferences, we can only expect the problem to get worse. And it won't be OPEC's fault; it will be our own.


Sorry, for the rambling, but I did start treatment again yesterday! To be honest I was nervous and hesitant to start again, because me lips were previously so banged up. They looked like I was repeatedly punched by someone wearing barbed wire over their boxing gloves. It was almost unbelievable to look at. But, by Monday they were much better. I was still fearful that once we started again, they would go back to looking terrible, but so far so good. I am getting to the point in my treatment where I am not quite close enough to being finished to get excited, so I am getting kind of impatient. But, once this week is done, then I have next week, and if I get through next week, I will be on the last week! So, really I am closer than I think. Overall, I am feeling better and have more energy that I did in the past. The chemo really did a number on me and I am just now starting to get over that. The week where I have chemo and radiation at the same time was definitely the worst.

I also have good news that I am doing a reverse balding. You know how most people get bald on top and then have the classic horshoe pattern of hair around the side and back of the head? Well, mine is the opposite. Just the back of my head is balding, and I think that is all that I am really going to loose. Unfortunately I am not allowed to just chop all the hair off or I would, but after this is over I probably will.

Steve

Sunday, February 10, 2008

state of the economy

(Warning: reading this column make make you so bored you end up in a worse condition than I am.)

In retrospect, I really regret ever saying I would do this post, as I haven't really been paying attention to the economy too much. Also, I realized it was a lot more work than I wanted to put in. I have watched a lot of political news, but it's all about the election. Listening to most of candidates speak actually hurts your economic knowledge, so I hope I don't say too much that doesn't make sense. I will tell you now, that raising the minimum wage to $11.15, as Edwards wanted, does not make sense (more later), and injecting $1 billion into the housing market, as Hillary wanted, does not make sense. I am not really sure where these people get their numbers. Do they just randomly think they make sense, or do they have economists who crunched the numbers and found they were the best? My guess is the former.

My other reason for not wanting to do a state of the economy blog is that surprisingly, I know very little about Macroeconomics--the area that deals with things like recessions. There are no Macroeconomist researcher on staff at U of A, and the one "Macro" class we do take is literally just a theory course on Dynamic Programming. The most helpful textbook was an operations research textbook, followed by Stokey, Lucas, Prescott. Basically, I know the math behind Macro, but nothing about Macro. This probably means nothing to most people, I just wanted to say I know very little about Macro. In fact, if you read the Economist weekly, you know more than I do.

So, all analysis here will really come from an introductory Econ class.

First, I need to talk about the dollar, because I am so annoyed by this McDonald's commercial. In case you haven't seen it, a group of nincompoops is sitting around talking about how the dollar is tanking. Then, a smug worker comes in saying he got a double cheeseburger for a dollar, and then all the nincompoops start talking about how strong the dollar is. The commercial makes me so upset, because these workers are confusing inflation with the strength of the dollar. Let's get one thing strait: changes in the price of domestic goods represents inflation. You paying more for a pair of Levi's, movie ticket, and other goods is inflation. If prices go down, that is deflation. Most likely, neither is correlated with the strength of the dollar.

The strength of the dollar represents how costly it is to buy a particular foreign currency. The dollar only rises and falls with respect to a particular other currency. For instance, it could rise against the pound but fall against the Euro. It so happens, that the dollar has continuously fallen against all: pound, Euro, Yen, Loonie, and other major currencies.

What does this mean? It means if you want to buy a European good or a European stock, it is going to now cost you more, because you have to trade in more dollars to get the same amount of Euros.

If you read a Newsweek article on the subject a year or two ago, you would think the falling dollar was a sign of the apocolypse, but what are the real consequences? They are both good and bad, but a weak dollar is not the end of the world. For instance, it is well known that the United States has a very bad trade imbalance. Since the 70's we have imported more than we have exported and keep doing so in larger proportions. A weaker dollar will help alleviate this problem, since it means that foreign goods are now more expensive. Also, for foreigners, our goods are relatively cheaper. So, foreigners will buy more of our goods and we will buy less of their goods; thus, reducing the trade imbalance.

The downside to a weak dollar is that if a foreigner wants to invest in U.S. stocks or bonds (and they do heavily) it is now more expensive for them to do do. Say someone in Japan wants to buy a 5 year Treasury note. Well, now they have to trade in more Yen than they used to in order to buy the note. So, we would expect a lowering of foreign investment into the United States.

Is this a problem? Yes. Investment is perhaps the biggest catalyst of growth. Firms (businesses) obviously need capital in order to finance new projects or to expand their businesses. We want firms to expand, because that means more jobs. It also means more innovation. We want there to be sufficient capital to help start new businesses and to help businesses develop new ideas. It may be cheesy, but it is true that this entrepreneurial spirit is what makes the U.S. so great, and it will be necessary to sustain our greatness in the future.

Aside: this is why the "big three" auto manufacturers make me so mad. They fail innovate and just stick with the same mold year in and year out. It makes me so mad, that I have had to start rooting against them. I don't understand how you could compete so poorly with foreign auto manufacturers. I do blame part of it on the unions, although they shouldn't bear the brunt of the blame. I can't find the numbers, but I once heard that union costs add somewhere between $500 to $1,000 to the price of every domestic car. The real reason for the "big three's" failure is an inability to innovate. They failed to forsee the compact car revolution and they failed to forsee the hybrid revolution. Ford does have a legitimate hybrid in the Escape but had to license the technology from Toyota after they violated Toyota's patent right. GM has as abundant amount of commericals lauding their hybrids but nothing to really compete with the Prius or Civic. Also, they have tended to focus on alternative fuels rather than electic cells like Toyota and Honda. If you look, the Malibu hybrid gets a whopping 32 mpg on the highway! Wow!

Aside2: It does not make sense to try to develop hydrogen or ethanol fuel compatible engines in the U.S. as GM is doing. First, how do we get hyrogen? In the U.S. we get it buy buring coal. So, calling hydrogen, "a green alternative" doesn't make sense. The U.S. currently gets about 50% of all its energy from coal, which is an issue I may discuss later, but coal is the worst option for producing energy, and I can't see why we'd want to use more of it. Second, ethanol can be used in fuel and is made from crops like sugar and corn. The problem is (1) why do we keep looking to natural resources as an answer when there is currently technology that allows propulsion to occur based on an automobiles' own energy. I.e. Toyota and Honda have developed a way to power a car using no outside fuel inputs. Shouldn't we be following this route rather than just looking for other inputs? (2) A surge in using agricultural commodities drastically affects agricultural markets. It doesn't take an Econ PhD to tell you what will happen to the price of corn when demand for it shoots through the roof-- it is going to raise high. In turn then, some people will turn to substitutes like wheat instead, and that increase in demand is going to raise the price of wheat. So, what you are doing is raising the prices of agricultural goods, and ultimately food prices in the U.S. Plus, the U.S. already consumes an unbelievable amount of corn. If you look at what you eat, you will be very surprised to see that you probably can't go a day without consuming corn. Anyone who simply drinks a soda will do so.

Sorry for the asides, but my point with the dollar is that it is not as bad as it is made out to be. If you are staying in the U.S. and not traveling abroad, it really shouldn't affect you too much. Also, as long as U.S. firms remain dominant, people will keep investing here.

So, Steve, what about this recession! First, contrary to what you might think, the economy is still in an expansionary phase, and we're not in a recession. Yes, many signs point to an upcoming recession. The Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P 500 all had down weeks; jobless numbers are up; and consumer confidence is down. These are all three indicators that an upcoming recession is LIKELY but does not mean that we will have own. I do lean towards there being a recession simply because of all the talk of a recession. The politicians and media have been working overtime to scare consumers, and just creating the expectation of a recession can cause a recession. Consumers will cutback on spending out of fear for their jobs or financial security and cause a recession. I didn't read a recent Newsweek, but again, the cover was a nightmarish prophecy of a doomed economy. I am not sure why Newsweek is so pessimistic, but they are not helping matters by scaring people. (If you did read this issue and I am wrong about scaring people, please let me know.)

In order to have a recession, we need two consecutive quarters of negative growth in real GDP (gross domestic product). In other words, we need to produce less as a country for two consecutive quarters. My guess is that if there is a recession, it will be relatively short and mild, much like the previous recession. That's one reason I can't understand this rush to create a stimulus package. The other reason is that stimulus packages rarely work. I am not a believer that President Bush's tax cuts got us out of the previous recession. I think we were on our way out anyway. I also think that by the time you get your $200 dollar check, the economy will probably be fine. Aside from the fact that stimulus packages like these are usually so poorly timed, there is no economic evidence that these types of stimulus packages do anything to help the economy. They only thing they do is help politicians. Stimulus packages are politically popular, because politicians need to be able to say, "look what I'm doing to help you." And most Americans buy into it. Unfortunately a lot of times no action is better than action, but politicians are too afraid to say this. John McCain was the only politician I saw who said he didn't know if he would do anything about the housing "crisis." Thank you John.

Let's talk for a minute about this "crisis." First, everyone saw it coming, but no one did anything. The Economist magazine had been predicting a collapse in the U.S. housing market at least two years before it actually happened and did so regularly. Did this cause financial institutions to change their lending practices, or homeowners to change their borrowing habits? No. So it is hard for me to feel too sorry for companies like Countrywide. To me, they were greedy in their practices of giving out loans, and should not be surprised that a large number of people had to default. If you are giving out no-doc loans you shouldn't be surprised when people can't pay. On the campaign trail Hillary Clinton has been talking about the family that took out a second mortgage to finance a college eduction for their kid and then had to default on their home. Well, Hillary, I don't think this is the average reason Americans were taking out second mortgages. Most saw that interest rates were low (temporarily) and decided to refinance to milk as much cash as they could out of their house. Most probably bought a new car, television, etc. Then, when interest rates went up, they were unable to pay because they signed some sort of variable interest mortgage. While, I feel for a lot of these people, I don't think a bail out of the mortgage industry is a good idea. In economics there is a term called moral hazard. It simply means that people act differently when they don't bear the consequences of their actions. I.e. people drive more recklessly when they have car insurance. Or here, financial institutions behave more poorly (take on too much risk) when they know the government is going to bail them out. If financial institutions know they are going to be bailed out by the government, then they are going to be too greedy in their actions. So, the government needs to set a precedent now, that they don't bail out companies that behaved poorly. Thank you to John McCain for being the only one to agree.

Back to the recession. The housing market will correct itself in time, and its impact on the economy will become minimal.

But, Steve, should the government do anything? The only thing I would do is TEMPORARILY alter unemployment benefits. You should see research/articles by Alan Krueger on the matter. In most times, I do not believe in high unemployment benefits. It has been well shown that high unemployment benefits lead to a much higher unemployment rate. This is why the unemployment rate in the U.S. is two times lower that most Western European countries. Western European countries have a very large unemployment web to fall into, and unemployment benefits last for a long time and benefits are very high. I don't think you have to be an economist to see why unemployment would be a lot higher. During times of downturn though, high benefits don't keep people from working as much, and as I said, they help ease consumer fears. Consumers won't spend much less, knowing that if they lose their job, they wond't lose their financial security. I emphasized temporary, because many social fixes start out as temporary but become permanent.

I think the government needs to be a little more worried about the long term health of the economy, and there are a few things that hinder it. The first, is the much talked about dependence on foreign energy. The solution has been to invest in things like ethanol, which I just don't get, and cannot understand why we aren't looking at other alternatives. One is wind. Wind power has steadily grown in the U.S. but setting up a "wind farm" is such a capital intensive operation that an insufficient number are set up. Also, there were originally problems with the blades cutting down flocks of birds, but the blades now turn slow enough that this isn't a problem. Another benefit of wind power is that once the "farm" is set up, there are really no additional costs. Wind power isn't popular though, because there is no one to lobby for it like there is for ethanol. President Bush is going to promote ethanol because that's where the money is.

Another option is nuclear energy. France actually gets something like 70% of its energy from nuclear sources. My main point though, is that there are other means than ethanol to look into.

The second hindrance for long term growth is the U.S.'s high corporate tax rate. The U.S. corporate income tax rate is 34%, and is the highest among OECD countries. As a reference, in Ireland the corporate income tax rate is 12.5% and since Ireland lowered their corporate income tax rate, they have seen an incredible surge in their economy. You may have heard the term "Celtic Tiger" to describe Ireland's economy. As American's it is natural to be concerned with the exodous of U.S. corporations to other countries, but we must ask ourselves why is this happening. Part of the answer is cheap labor abroad, but part of the answer is that the tax situation in other countries is much more friendly. Many Asian economies have areas that are no tax zones, so that a U.S. corporation could move there are pay no corporate income tax. It's then not hard to see why it is tempting for U.S. corporations to move off-shore.

Corporations have to compete, and the fact is that not all corporations are as successful as Microsoft. Many struggle to be viable, and those that are viable have to maintain healthy profits to satisfy shareholders. We can make it less attractive for marginal corporations to move off-shore if we lower the corporate income tax rate. It is not Microsoft that we are worried about moving its headquarters to Thailand. Companies like this can afford to pay the high rate. In fact, they probably prefer the high rate because it drives out marginal competitors. So, its not like you are really socking it to the Wall-Street fat cats by having a high corporate income tax. You are socking it to the marginal corporation operating in an ordinary American city.

Lastly, this is my problem with the minimum wage. You are not hurting Microsoft with a high minimum wage. But you are hurting your local coffee shop or sandwich shop. These businesses that are on the margin of surviving are the ones that are hurt and are the ones that will either have to lay people off or go out of business. If they can't lay off people, then they have to raise their prices, which is what happened to many shops in Tucson after the recent minimum wage increase. I think there is a common misperception that just because you have a business you must be doing well and can afford to have money taken away from you, but this is just not the case for the vast majority of businesses in the U.S. I recently talked with a local coffee shop owner who said her business was already struggling and with a new increase in the Arizona minimum wage was really worried about her shop. She did say she was for the increase, but that it did hurt her business. I only bring this up, because John Edwards wanted to raise the minimum wage even way higher to like $11.15. Well, this may make sense in Seattle, but what do you think this is going to do in West Virginia. I guarantee you it would hurt employment. And who do you think is going to have a hard time finding a job? Well-educated people? No, poor, uneducated people are hurt the most be the minimum wage, because their jobs are the first to go. Some people end up winners-those that can keep their jobs, but some end up losers because they can't get a job at that high of a wage rate.

If you made it this far congratulations. I hope I didn't bore you too much and feel free to criticize me all you want. Like I said, I am not an expert on the subject, but do have an opinion. I could very well be wrong on a number of things, but the alternative energy and corporate tax thing I am pretty passionate about.

Steve


Oh, and my last two points were going to be the educational system in the United States and the amount of visas given out to educated foreigners. I think its silly to restrict these visas, as we have. I think our primary and secondary educational systems are broken. But I am not one to believe in some national fix. I think it's each state's responsibility to invest heavily in education and to try to innovate. By not nationalizing education, hopefully we promote innovation, where different states try different things and we can learn from the successes and failures in order to grow.