Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Who is Yann?

This is Yann.

He is the boarder that has been staying with me every other week for over two months. I've made references to him on this blog, but I've never properly introduced him. He's a Ph.D. in Human Computer Interaction and he's been doing research at OSU this summer.

He is French and has spent a couple years in Australia. He speaks English fluently but with an accent that's somehow both French and Australian. He loves photography, scuba diving, and cheese (natch). You can check out his photos in his Flickr gallery.

This picture is from a juggling lesson I gave him, but I think I benefited more from the things he taught me.

He taught me how to cook gougère, quiche, and crêpes. He didn't personally show me how to make ratatouille, but it was on his recommendation that I figured out how to make it on my own.

He showed me how to work my camera better. I now know why purple was showing up as blue in all my photos (like in the balloon arch). But I still have to remember to revert the setting back when I'm indoors so that my photos don't turn out too red (like the bird on my head).

Yann influenced my opinion on public health care. He has strong opinions on the subject and it's easy to get him started on it, but he makes a compelling case.* (at this point I go off on a tangent so I cut and pasted it to the bottom of the post.)

He introduced me to some great new music from France (Les Hurlements D'Leo) and Australia (The Cat Empire). We were each impressed that the other was familiar with Manu Chau and Xavier Rudd (although I was surprised to learn that Chau was French and not Spanish).

Also, he taught me how to sharpen my knives.

His project's deadline is tomorrow (Thursday) and that will be his last day in Corvallis, but I will certainly see him again. He and his wife live in Seattle in a neighborhood not far from Andy and Jung-Eun, and I've promised to meet up with him next time I'm in town.


*My opinion on health care was only that I hate the way insurance companies work and I would support anything that made the whole process less aggravating. On principle, I would prefer a solution that didn't involve the law, but I don't have any idea what that would be exactly. Since the government seems set on getting involved anyway, I was just hopeful that the end result would be an improvement.

I admit that a major reason I want health care reform to pass is because I'm a fanboy of the President and I have a rooting interest in seeing my guy succeed (or perhaps more honestly, I want those folks who want my guy to fail to fail). But I don't have the idealism to believe that a government run insurance plan would be a hassle-free streamlined solution to all our country's health care problems, nor do I have the inherent distrust of government to fear it as a first step in the U.S. becoming a totalitarian police state.

After listening to Yann's testimonial, my opinion on the issue has shifted from "government run health insurance is an unobjectionable if not ideal way to treat the symptoms associated with dodgy health insurance practices" to "government run health insurance has proven to be an effective and popular alternative around the world".

I bet we're smart enough to come up with a way to keep the best parts of our system and incorporate the best parts of other countries' systems. Maybe we could provide a basic public insurance, but still keep the option of signing up with a private insurance company. Has anyone thought of that? It works for schools.

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