Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Years ago a friend who was (and still is) a science teacher at Everett High School took me to attend ancient music concerts with her. The music was performed on period instruments by people who were expert in their use in buildings in and around Seattle with some pretty amazing acoustics, churches, actually. Hearing medieval polyphony played this way is truly transcendent. It's as if there is no other music in the world, nor does the world need any other. I was quite happy to accompany my friend to these concerts and didn't mind a bit that I was only there so she would not have to go alone. Sometimes profound experiences come from mundane , even inelegant ones. She also purported herself to be an atheist. After one particularly amazing performance, as we discussed the music, she expressed with amazement the idea that there must be something to all that religion stuff since religious belief had inspired those ancient composers to create such incredible music.

I did nothing to disabuse her, but it's also likely that the religio-politics of the time obviated any other form of music. More on this anon...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

If newspapers die completely, I'll be honest, what I'll miss most is the comics. I can't miss the funnies. Today, in Dennis the Menace, Dennis was sitting at the dinner table opining that he would rather eat next door at the Wilsons'. Looking at his plate, you see the typical cartoon drawing of food, various lumps. I had an epiphany this morning, which may explain why I truly love mashed potatoes. The only thing I really miss on those high protein diets in mashed potatoes. They aren't really the most flavorful thing on the plate, nor are they extraordinarily nutritious. They do, however, resemble cartoon food. Just check out the Simpsons or any other cartoon where the family sits down to eat. What everyday food could possibly look like those lumps? It's gotta be mashed potatoes. I remember wondering why the food on my dinner plae did not resemble comic strip food. For some reason, it all looked really tasty, just lumpy squiggles on the plate.

On a related note, go here: http://www.kingfeatures.com/features/comics/bizarro/aboutMaina.php and get the comic for July 1, 2009.

I think this comic is quite apt for Americans. After I got back from six months in China, I started to notice how fat we are as a people. We're fat. Not all of us are, of course, but lots of us, dare I say tons of us. I'm fat, but I'm not as fat as many, so people say, oh, you're not fat. No, I'm fat. It's affecting my health in many not good ways. If you're fat, do what you can to become un-fat. If your health is not suffering now, it will be. It's only a matter of time.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Let's wait and see," he said. Exactly a year later, I went back to him with my foot. He still had no clue, so he decided to send me to a specialist. At the time, my insurance, like so many plans, did not allow me to decide for myself whether or not I should see a specialist. He sent me, after a full year of suffering constant pain, to the best podiatrist in Seattle. He looked at my X-rays, poked at my feet and announced that I had soft tissue damage and now that a year had passed, it was too late to do anything but amputate my little toe. Or I could wear shoes with a straight last, shoes that cost $300 dollars.

The shoes eased the pressure on my throbbing foot, and the following year, my school district offered a new insurance option, slightly more expensive of course, wherein one could refer oneself to a specialist. I jumped all over that. Over the next several years I found 6 different ortho guys who also perused the X-rays and found nothing. I kind of gave up and went with my $300 shoes. Then, after moving from Everett to Tacoma, one of the other ailments I had brought to my "wait and see" doc got so much worse I needed a complete hysterectomy. While in the hospital with a morphine drip, my foot hurt so bad I could not sleep. OK, I thought, one more podiatrist.

My new podiatrist looked at my old X-rays and immediately saw two breaks in my fifth metatarsal. That was ten years ago, and although my foot still hurts, I now have much better ways to deal with it. It will never be cured. That ship has sailed.

All this talk about having a government bureaucrat come between you and your doctor is amusing to me. A bureaucrat might have been helpful, since my own doctor came between me and my health care. Options people, we want options. It may be true that the best health care exists in the USA, it is also true that our system often keeps us separated from it. That's ridiculous.

The hysterectomy, BTW, went very wrong and that will be the subject of a future installment of Rosewoman's take on health care needs in America.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Quackery, and I don't mean AFLAC although it's related

When I lived in Everett, I had a doctor I liked; I liked him as a person. We had great conversations, but as a doctor I did not like him. He was a "wait and see" doc. I say that to other doctors and a knowing half-smile creeps across their face. They know just what I mean. He was so poor at diagnosing he would say, "Let's wait and see," perhaps in the hopes that whatever problem the patient has would simply go away on its own and he would therefore be absolved of any responsibility for actually doing anything.

Well, back then I had four problems I took to him, all of which received the wait and see method, but I'll spare you the details of all but one, my left foot. It was Christmas, and I was walking downstairs in my new abode. I thought I was on the last step, not so much. I felt the popping as my foot broke. Doc saw nothing on the X-ray. "Let's wait and see...."

I waited one year...
I had a different topic in mind for today, but it'll keep. I finally remembered to write a letter to Comedy Central.

Here is my letter, edited blog-style:

Ever since I discovered The Daily Show with John Stewart, I have been amused at Stewart's use of what most consider foul language, only to have it bleeped later during the broadcast. After all, it's pretty obvious what he's saying. His show is not ad libbed, it's scripted, so if Comedy Central really wanted it censored, it seems like Stewart would write his material without obscenity in the first place.

Lately, though, I've noticed that although the "F-bomb" is censored, the "b-word" is not. Obviously Comedy Central does not think the "b-word" is as offensive to people. Maybe they even have focus groups to determine these things. Until recently, I'd have agreed with them.

I now believe the "b-word" has evolved from mildly racy to patently offensive. Here's the link to my favorite dictionary site's entry for the word. http://www.yourdictionary.com/bitch

From simply meaning female dog, it became a description of an unpleasant female and by extension, the act of complaining or nagging. Kwitcherbichin is a nicely alliterative and assonant phrase popular in my family. Recently, however, from hip-hop, the phrase "make you my bitch" has shaded the meaning of the "b-word" more maliciously. To be someone's bitch is much more demeaning than just to be an annoying woman. As someone's bitch, you're their ultimate servant, complete underling, even sex slave. As difficult as it is to do after 50 years of using this word, I have deleted it from my vocabulary. As a teacher, it is on the list of words not to use in the classroom and words I will not ignore if I hear them, even if said quietly.

There is a specific image that was in the news that really convinced me to rail against this word: Snoop Dogg at the 2003 MTV Music Awards. It can be found here.


A picture is worth 1000 words, isn't it?

Frankly, I'd rather hear the f-bomb than the b-word.

Thank you.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Last evening, we attended Jose's graduation from the Goodwill Industries Youth Build program for kids who have had poor starts in life compounded by a series of bad choices on their parts. Using the setting of the construction industry, young people who are no longer part of the public school system gain preparedness to pass the GED, earn a pre-apprenticeship certificate and be able to get jobs or further training. Jose did very well in the program; he worked for a time as a laborer on a site with a major construction company, got his GED and remained substance-free during the entire duration of his enrollment, something he told us the other kids mostly did not do, even though it could have meant expulsion. One of the final activities of the program was a tour of several local colleges.

I know what colleges popped into your mind, community colleges and technical schools, institutions that are a logical step for youth who have struggled, whose reading levels were barely 9th grade and math levels were middle-school when they started 8 months previously and have now improved to GED level, which isn't very high. Part of the graduation ceremony was a slide show chronicalling major events and activities for them. They hauled these newly hopeful youths to Central Washington University, Gonzaga University, WSU and University of Oregon.

I don't want to denigrate their achievement. Without Youth Build, these kids would still have no credentials nor training nor job readiness of any sort and be sleeping all day and roaming the streets at night (I'm just quoting the commencement speaker), but there is no way any of them, many with felony convictions, are going to get in to Gonzaga. There was one photo in the slide show that I think was unconsciously symbolic. It was at Gonzaga. All of the kids, identifiable by their Youth Build T-Shirts, were peering in to an vague space through one of those roll-down barriers, essentially through bars. Whatever was behind the barrier was clearly fascinating to each of them. But like Gonzaga itself, clearly unattainable. As good as the program is, it's not enough to get them into a four-year university of that quality. Maybe CWU, or even WSU, but Uof O and Gonzaga? I do not understand why they spent so much money on such an excursion. Why not take them to area 2 year colleges and training programs? Why give them a false sense of encouragement? True, I don't know how the trip was presented to them, but seeing that photo, disadvantaged kids, clinging to a barrier at an institution of higher learning while peering intently inside, really stung my heart.