Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hammer on the Thumb Clinic - Give Me a Break

I've a great idea and I think Medicaid and Medicare should start paying for this immediately.  I'm going to open a new series of clinics to treat a number of problems.

The first, and possibly most overdue, is the Hammer on the Thumb Clinic.  For a tidy sum, you can be admitted to my new clinic for the treatment of bad knees.  Over the course of a couple of weeks, specially trained (I'm opening a training center soon) therapists will come into your designer decorated room and smash your thumbs (alternatively) with a hammer.  You'll soon forget about your knee pain all together. 

Headaches troubling you?  Check into one of my new SPUTH Clinics.  Stomach Punch for the Treatment of Headache is an idea whose time has come.  I know.  The last time someone punched me square in my gizzard I stopped complaining about headache the second I stopped puking.  I think it will work for you, too!

And finally, my piece de resistance will be ViCTA! (Valium Clinic for the Treatment of Alcoholism)   I must admit that this isn't a new idea.   Back in the day, alcoholism was often treated as a Valium deficiency.  Then the whole addiction "theory" came into being and it fell out of fashion.  But I'm thinking with Methadone clinics being used to treat Heroin addiction, the time has come to bring it back.

I mean if we can treat one opiate addiction with another addictive opiate (Heroin with Methadone) surely I could make a gazillion dollars in my Valium Clinics for the Treatment of Alcoholism, don't you think?

I'm thinking about opening some sort of treatment clinic for broken thumbs, too.  After all, I have my retirement to think about.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ant Meth

I've spoken with the bug men from the local university and have been told that I need to feed my unwanted ants more of the bait they like best.  I'd stopped doing that because when I put it out the ants brought their ant aunts and uncles and 17th cousins twice removed and I didn't really want to see more ants.  But now I understand that this works like a meth house. 

I offer them the poison.  They like it.  A lot.  They get all crazy and run home and tell their friends along the way, "You have got to get down there and try this stuff!  It's insane, Ant!  I mean, it's the best."  So all their friends and the friends of the friends of the friends come to the buffet.  They think it's the best stuff since sugar.  They load up on it.

Most of them grab all they can and then run home to stash it and run back and get more.  Some of them, however, only get as far as the front yard of the ant meth house and fall down crazy.

I don't have microscope, so I don't know if their little ant teeth turn black and rot out or if they visually age the equivalent of 30 years in the equivalent of  a couple of months.  But if this is really working like meth, that's how they look.  And I don't know if their ant IQs plummet and they forget to shower or completely dress.  I really don't know if they have started killing each other for the poison or if they've begun selling their larva to the highest bidder to get more poison.  I hope not.

Don't get me wrong, I am trying to get rid of the ants.  I just hope it isn't as awful for them as methamphetamine is while it's getting rid of people.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kitchen Drawl

I'm not ready to start flying the Confederate flag or anything, but after living in the South for seven years, I believe my kitchen is acquiring  a drawl.

Recently a friend from work gave me a big mess of collards.  My husband, a Canadian, pretends they don't exist.  More for me, I say! I cooked those green babies with a bit of bacon, some onions, garlic and olive oil.  When they began to get just a bit crispy around the edges of some of the leaves, I added some chicken stock so they'd steam nice and soft.  I was in hog heaven!

And grits.  It was quite a few years before I discovered this emotional experience.  The trick with grits is that you melt in Velveeta.  I know Velveeta isn't real cheese.  I'm from Wisconsin after all.  But when it comes to grits, it's gotta be Velveeta.  Grits don't claim to be health food.  But they are proudly comfort food.

Sweet tea is not the same thing as sweetened iced tea in the North.  Sweet tea is tea mixed with simple syrup.  It's sswwweeeeeet and cold.  If you order tea down here, don't expect a cup of Earl Gray.   I don't drink sweet tea, but it's not because I don't want to.  I've been know to mix a quarter glass of sweet tea with three quarters unsweetened tea. 

I still maintain some Northern sensibilities.  Even a girl who grew up eating head cheese and blood sausage isn't going to eat chitterlings (chittlins).  They are pig guts and just wrong.  If you ever hear I've eaten them, please come and do a Yankee intervention immediately.

Now let me explain that the Southern way to cook collards or any greens isn't really much like my way.  Have you heard of fat back?  It's the uber bacon.  If you like bacon - and you know you do - fat back would make your toes curl up in sheer joy.  It's more fat and more salt than bacon.  It's to die for . . . literally, I'm afraid.

So I heard on the news last night that in addition to the Bible Belt, the South is also now the Diabetes Belt.  Is it any wonder?  When I tell people down here about Northern Wisconsin fish boils their eyes glaze over with pity just before they offer me a fried chicken biscuit with gravy.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On, Wisconsin!

In my last column I made known my opinion about tenure and unions that add a level of bureacracy.  Then I stood back and realized that people may read it 'round the corner and think I'm against the protests in Wisconsin.

I've lived in Wisconsin.  I love Wisconsin.  I'd move there quickly if I had a job and could move my home there.  And one of the things I love about Wisconsin is Madison.  It's not just a city, it's an attitude.  And it's an attitude I wish I could import to South Carolina.

The fact that gazillions of people peacefully march on the capital square and make their voices heard above the political machinery makes my heart proud. I hope it catches on.  I hope people in every state start telling the government officials and their owners where to get off. 

What's going on in Wisconsin isn't just about teacher unions, though governmental employee rights to collective bargaining is in there.  It's about saying, "Oh, no you don't!" to the government that is changing the rules in the middle of the game.  THAT'S the part I love.

Even if I don't agree with everything they're are arguing for, I love the fact that so many are moved to speak out.  Is that cool or what?  Isn't that what this country is supposed to do?  Ya, ya betcha it is.

So here's to you, Wisconsin people!  Tonight I'll have some brats and beer in South Carolina, wishing I could be lifting a Spotted Cow with you at the Great Dane.  Yous people of Wisconsin are my heros!

Lay a Little Learning On Me

I’ve been pretty confused about the whole teachers’ right to unions lately. I wanted to know how the states without teachers’ unions compare to the states with them. Not in terms of how the teachers fare so much as the overall education. Here’s some of what I found.

Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, and Louisiana are the ten states without teacher unions now.  Virginia is a bit of an oddity in this marginally scientific study y there's one in every group),  but the other nine states are  in the bottom third of poor states. All (but Virginia) are in the bottom third of ACT/SAT scores. But nine of these ten states rank in the top quarter of teacher salary/cost of living index.

So does that mean that well-paid teachers don’t necessarily produce smart students? Well, my little gathering of research can’t prove that. But I believe it has a long finger pointed in that direction. And that is not to say that good teachers don't teach well.  I just don't think good teachers are necessarily well paid or that poor teachers aren't.

I think what we need is teachers to be freed to teach. I don’t think unions do that. I think they just add more bureaucracy.

There was a great idea once to hire people who’d been working outside of education for some time to teach. The idea was twofold. First, it would fill a shortage of teachers. Secondly, it was supposed to create teachers who weren’t boggled down with all the how-to-be-a-teacher rules that hadn’t, for the most part, been working. I thought it was a brilliant idea.

I thought it was so brilliant that I decided to become one of those non-traditional teachers. Evidently, no one had told my school that creativity in the classroom was a good thing. No one told them that the idea was to lay some learnin’ on those chillen. They didn’t like the way I taught.

However, at the end of the year (after the school and I had decided to part ways) my students’ standardized test scores came back. The students I learned with (taught) blew the school’s record out of the water.

I’m afraid that unions don’t do much to free teachers, who could then free students to learn. I’m afraid that they just add another layer of rules of how to be teachers. The silliest, of course being “You can’t fire me, I have tenure.” and “That’s not the way it’s done.” Duh, the way it’s done doesn’t work, so anything else has a better chance.

Administration and the community for whom they work should treat teachers like respected, responsible adults if they deserve it and fire them if they don’t. If the students are learning and working, administration and the community should stand back and let it happen. That’s all. If a teacher is doing a good job he should be rewarded. If he’s doing a bad job he should be strongly encouraged to change careers.

I remain skeptical about needing teacher unions, but I’m sure we need common sense in our schools.