Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Finding Your Legislator

It's funny. We have a presidential election and EVERYBODY shows up to vote.

We have a municipal election and nobody knows it even happened. We seem to pay a little more attention at the state level, but not much. How many of us even know the name of our state legislators? Every person in Utah has two: One in the House and one in the Senate.

It's funny because, in a very real way, the state legislators have a much bigger impact on my life than the President of the United States. Their biggest task of all, in addition to occasionally passing or not passing a state law, is to figure out how they're gonna spend my tax dollars in my state. That will impact me a lot more directly than most federal programs.

I've learned, over the years, that this is a very important issue, and something that we should take very seriously.

So, after quite a while of digging through the 'net last election, trying desperately to find out which districts we're in, and who were the candidates, and what did they stand for, etc... It's a real joy to find a tool like this one!

You simply type in your address. It finds it on Google Maps, draws in your congressional district boundaries, and then shows you your legislators with their phone numbers and links to websites and email addresses. So simple!

So, if you want to tell them to vote to not cut the services to the disabled, like I suggested last time, or if you want to tell them to vote any other way on any other issue you think is important, there you have it.

If any of you have other good online resources for following and influencing the state legislators, just let me know and I'll post it here!

Mark Hansen

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sometimes, Politics Scares Me

There have been times when I get political here, and I'll probably never change that. There are times, though, that I kinda keep my mouth shut. Sometimes, I just get feeling a bit smothered by all the debate and argument. And sometimes the debate and argument swirl around suppositions. People say that if someone gets elected than this will happen, or that if we spend our tax money here or there than the economy will soar or tank.

But we really don't know, do we? It's all speculation? Sometimes we're right and sometimes we're wrong.

Well, now it's not so much political as it is personal. And I don't really know what's going to happen. I'm just afraid. Very afraid.

First, please watch this video:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

If the state budget passes as currently proposed, it is very likely that my son, Jacob, will be disqualified from receiving services from the state DSPD (Division of Services for People with Disabilities). That means that he would also be disqualified from receiving Medicaid, and almost all of his medical expenses would then fall on our insurance and our shoulders.

So that you understand, let me show you some examples. His daily formula and monthly medicines cost about 7 grand a month. So, after our deductible, our split of the 80/20 would be about $1400. Considering that this insurance costs us about $900 a month, and that would include a $500 out-of-pocket deductible, we're paying some pretty hefty costs in medical expenses monthly.

And, keep in mind that the amount quoted above doesn't include doctor's visits, nor specialists visits, nor physical therapy, nor equipment like wheelchairs, nor his yearly week-long stay up at Primary Children's.

Here are just 16 of the 72 cuts being considered:

  1. Eliminate Medicaid optional eligibility categories
  2. Reduce Medicaid spend down eligibility level
  3. Reduce children’s dental coverage
  4. End the Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver
  5. End the Physical Disabilities Waiver
  6. End Disability Services
  7. Reduce local Substance Abuse treatment
  8. Reduce local Mental Health funding
  9. Eliminate Children’s Center Mental Health Grant
  10. Eliminate Autism Preschool
  11. Close State hospital beds
  12. Eliminate general fund for Nursing Home Alternatives
  13. Eliminate coverage for Breast and Cervical Cancer Clients
  14. Eliminate Meals on Wheels for 8200 people at risk for malnutrition
  15. Eliminate meals at Senior Centers for at risk seniors
  16. Provider rate reductions for all levels of health care and human services providers

I'm not asking you to compromise your own political beliefs, but if you could find it in your heart to call your state legislator and tell him that you know a really cute kid who needs to have DSPD funded, I'd sure appreciate it. To find your state house representative, go to http://www.le.state.ut.us/house/DistrictInfo/newMaps/State.htm and click on your district. Keep clicking deeper until you find your house rep.

Thanks so much for your consideration.

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Song Written, and an Oops

Sometimes people ask me where I get ideas for my songs. The answer is as varied as there are songs in my catalog. But one thing that scares every songwriter is that this great new song that you've written is based on an idea that was subconsciously "borrowed" from some other, already famous, song.

So, that happened to me the other day. I wrote this song, and after working on it for a couple of days, practicing it, reworking it, I suddenly realized that a major part of the hook was from somebody else's song. You'll probably pick it up right away.

So, I doubt I'll ever record this one, but I thought I'd at least share the lyrics here...

I've been thinking a lot about joy lately, as I've been considering what to blog about and how to direct my life this year. I've also been going through some tough times. Which is probably why I'm so urgently looking for joy.

I started to realize that the whole opposition in all things is very much in play. With struggles comes blessings, with suffering can come inspiration and humility. Ultimately, after despair and futility can come love and forgiveness.

Anyway, here's the lyrics of my newest song of 2009!

By Mark Hansen

It feels like you're taking the hits one by one
You look for a plan and you're sure there is none
And your hope dries like water in the afternoon sun
You look at your life, "God what have you done"
But somehow it all works out right, just like He knew ya

Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Alleluia

The world is just full of bullies and fools
Who break into your life and scatter your jewels
They're selfish and spiteful, angry and cruel
You want to strike back, cause revenge is the rule
But still you pray for them in spite of all that they've done to ya

Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Alleluia

After all you've been through
You just feel like you've had it rough
After all that you've done
It still feels like it isn't enough
But then, life should be all about joy, you know that
Or do you?

The more that you try the more you feel less
Like all that you've made of your life is a mess
At the end of it all you're just left with a guess
If it was all worth it, if you made the test
And you'll stand before Him and you'll feel His love flowing through ya

Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Alleluia

Mark Hansen

Monday, January 05, 2009

Finding Joy

"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." 2 Nephi 2:25 The Book of Mormon

Over the last few days, I've been contemplating what my "Word of the Year" is going to be. I've bounced around a bunch of ideas, but the one I keep coming back to is: Joy

The bottom line to me is that I can make more money, or I can lose weight, I can even make more music and cook more, but ultimately, if I'm not enjoying life, what's the point? And I want to enjoy it like the word really means: to enJOY it. Or, in other words, to find joy in life.

That scripture lays it right out on the line. My whole purpose in life is to find joy. Not to just "have fun", mind you, but to truly find joy. Honestly, I don't know what that really means, but I aim to find out this year.

I think it's interesting that the scripture mentions joy in the same breath that it mentions the fall. The very thing that brought death, sorrow, and suffering into the world, is the same thing that allowed us to exist, and that allows us to find the joy.

I have a few thoughts of how I can start doing that. One thing I'm going to do is to start counting my blessings more, rather than focusing on my frustrations. Each blog entry is going to be wrapped up with a short segment that I'm going to call, "Joyful Noises". This will be something recent that I've experienced, seen, or noticed that has brought joy. Personal prayer will play a big part in it this year as well. I'll look at difficulties as opportunities and frustrations as mere bumps in the road with otherwise beautiful scenery.

So, come join me. Make a joyful noise along with me, and enter His gates with thanksgiving!

Tonight's Joyful Noise:

I was finally able to reinstall my music program into my laptop, and I can now carry on recording music! I'm very excited by that. It's been a while since I last recorded. I think I'm going to start with "The Third Time". What's that one like, you ask? You'll just have to wait and see! Muahahahaha!

Mark Hansen

Friday, January 02, 2009

Moving New Friends

I had kind of a strange experience tonight. I got home, and got on my computer (I've not been able to access the internet from home for a long time, so tonight was pretty exciting!). I checked my email first, like I always do. There was a message from my Elders Quorum President that a family was moving and could I come help.

I looked at the family name and the address. I didn't recognize either one. Even still, I want to help out and get me some good karma goin' on, so I bundled up and went over.

I got to meet the family and a few of their cousins and in-laws that were helping doing the move. They had pretty much finished, and only had one roomful of stuff left when I got there. Still, I was able to help some.

But what was strange to me was realizing that this family was a part of our ward, and they'd lived in that house for probably about six months. And here I am, shaking their hand and meeting them for the first time the night before they leave the ward for good.

They're really nice, a young couple with one toddler daughter. He's getting a better job in St. George. And then they're gone!

Kind of a shame...

Mark Hansen

2009 – What's the Word?

I've been contemplating what I want to improve on this year. In that process, I started to make this list of all the things about be I want to fix in the upcoming year. Here's the basic list, as it got started:

1.To be healthier
2.To be less grumpy
3.To be more grateful
4.To be more frugal
5.To be more musical
6.To be more spiritual
7.To have Jacob be healthier
8.To help Jodi and Brendon be more content
9.To be a better provider
10.To be more in control
11.To be a better chef

It went on and on. The futility of that exercise struck me pretty quickly. There is simply no smegging way I'm going to be able to do all that and still maintain my sanity.

I remembered a blog I read a while back, where the lady (Christine Cane) suggested that instead of setting a new year's resolution that fails, instead you choose a word that will be your focus in the upcoming year. You think about that word, you do things that strengthen your connection to that word, and in the end, you're much better at the end of the year, instead of wondering whether or not you achieved a fixed goal.

So, I'm thinking about it, and I'm considering a few words, and I'll pick one by one week from this post. Here are my ideas:


It's an interesting concept. I could explore, throughout the year what that word means to me. I can explore it both in thought, and written word, and, of course, in action. I'd like your input. Tell me what word you'd like to focus on, and which one you think I should choose. Just pop it into the comments.

Mark Hansen


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