Category Archives: Education

What’s Wrong with Nursery Rhymes!

Would you let your child hang around this woman?

Would you let your child hang around this woman?

For centuries we’ve taught our children nursery rhymes, and then wonder why they grow up so maladjusted.

“Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to get her poor dog a bone…” Why would she store a bone in the cupboard? If she had a bone left over from a meal, given that there were no refrigerators, it would make better sense to just give it to the dog at the meal. Besides, a bone is more entertainment than actual nutrition.

“Jack be nimble. Jack be quick. Jack jump over the candlestick.” There’s the poster boy for national fire prevention week. On the other hand, we get our panties in a wad over the idea of our children running with scissors—but jumping over candles is just fine.

“Jack Spratt could eat no fat; his wife could eat no lean.” Where does Michelle Obama and the food pyramid stand on this one? Where are the vegetables and the fiber?

“Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon,” but then we wonder why some kids stray into drugs.

Rare Artisans

quill-pen

I refer to myself as “esoteric.” You might prefer to say that I’m “odd” or “different.” I’m okay with that.

Being esoteric, I sometimes find that I need the skills of certain specialists. While many guitarists have their instruments repaired or tweaked, I give credit where due and refer to Doug, who takes care of my instruments as a luthier—the appropriate name for an artisan skilled in making or repairing stringed instruments.

I write with a fountain pen, and have a collection of six through which I rotate. The oldest of my pens, going back about thirty years, has traveled with me everywhere, including through Afghanistan and Iraq. Unfortunately, after returning home, it fell and landed right on the nib—the part that carries the ink to the paper. The manufacturer couldn’t repair it, but under their lifetime warranty, replaced it. Since the original had sentimental value they returned it as well. The replacement was very nice, wrote very well, but was, well, a replacement. Even worse, a stapler fell off the top of the desk, landed on the pen, resulting in a huge dent. The manufacturer repaired it, but it, unfortunately, looked like a badly dented replacement pen that had been repaired.

I found an interesting site online—Pentiques.com—and decided to try them out. They have since repaired both of these pens, the original and the replacement. The original looks and writes better than it did the day I bought it. Wow!

Artisans such as Aaron and Kim Svabik at Pentiques are few and far between, but if you find one, take advantage of the skill, the precision, and the unique capabilities that they offer.

 

Pentiques.com
PO Box 7361
Goodyear, AZ 85338
Aaron@Pentiques.com

We Are Oh, So Smart!

Blood_letting.1

We twenty-first century humans are the pinnacle of humanity in so many ways. We can kill one another with great efficiency AND effectiveness. We can blather to the entire world about absolutely nothing, thanks to smart phones and social media (excuse me while I shoot a selfie).

No one in history was as great, and wonderful (and, might I add, humble) as us. We are the undisputed technological winners.

Well, mostly.

There is that thing about Damascus Steel that the ancients could do with sword blades that we have never duplicated. Imagine what amazing Ginsu knives could be made of that! Or weapons for Seals and Delta Force! Or surgical scalpels and medical implants!

We’re proud about our computers and claim them as our own, but then there’s that mechanical computer from the first century found in a shipwreck by Greek sponge divers. Some say that if it had not been lost, civilization would have advanced so that space exploration would have begun centuries earlier.

And now we find that the bacteria that can whup our best antibiotics (with one pseudopod tied behind its back), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can be controlled by a concoction from the tenth century. An eye salve, found in Bald’s Leechbook, made from fermented, garlic, cow bile, and wine appears to be effective against the disease in several trials. “Leechbook” because the barabarian healers still believed in bloodletting—yet the barbarians got this one figured out better than we did. (Oddly, my insurance provider doesn’t have it in their pharmaceutical formulary, so if I need it, I have to pay for it out of pocket.)

If we truly are smart, we’ll honor those who came before, and figured out some things that demand our respect.

Geekery for Geekery’s Sake

Dated--but still a great flick

Dated–but still a great flick

We all know that computer geeks love to speak among themselves in terms that defy logic, and the understanding of those they consider “mere mortals.” They speak of “enterprise-wide solutions” when they install software for an entire company. If you have a computer problem, they “open a ticket.”

Okay, we get it. If you spoke in plain English, we’d not be nearly so impressed. But what’s the deal with software names? Why must you geeks choose names that give absolutely no clue as to what the software is supposed to do?

Microsoft Silverlight: Sounds like it should, I don’t know, decrease the mass of a heavy metal? [It deals with streaming media, graphics, etc.]

Avast: Sounds like a program for messaging pirates. [It’s an anti-malware program]

Magical Jellybean: Something to prepare for Easter or Halloween? [It displays the activation codes you entered when installing software.]

While “Word” sort-of, kind-of suggests a word processor, “Excel” does not scream “SPREADSHEET” to me.

CCleaner: Is an anomaly; it means “crap cleaner” as in getting rid of all those leftover pieces of programs you no longer need. But, as I said, it’s an anomaly.

So, to all you computer geeks out there, be warned that, I’m getting ready to frambus on the esperel before re-chwising the quimbrel.

So, there!

The Chin? Why?

chinIt’s taken me a long time to figure out the chin as compared to other body parts.

Opposing thumb? Great idea!

Eyes, ears, nose, taste buds? They make life worth living.

Those body parts the British call the “naughty bits?” No explanation needed.

After years in the healthcare field primarily focused on anatomy, I’ve always had an appreciation for body parts. But the chin? There’s no reason that the neck couldn’t extend anteriorly and go straight from chest wall to mandible.

Oddly, the tip of the chin is called the mentum from the same root as mental; it refers to the fact that when we think we tend to cup, hold or stroke the chin. So I sat back and thought for a while.

Then it came to me.

As man evolved from the primordial soup, through the multicellular stages, eventually into a warm blooded, erect walking mammal, somehow the genes and chromosomes aligned to form the chin for one reason.

Without the chin, we could never get pillows into pillow cases, or fold bed sheets without help.

It just boggles one’s mind when you realize how amazing Mother Nature is!

Write? Right? Rite? Wrong!

English is certainly a strange language. I was taught the language phonetically, which must have been someone’s idea of a very cruel joke.

Spell “tough.” Now spell “though.”

“But I don’t know how to spell them.”

“Well, then look them up in the dictionary.”

“But if I can’t…never mind.”

Sincere and insincere are opposites. Flammable and inflammable mean the same thing even though dealing with fire should be the one area in which there should be no room for confusion.

Then, of course, you’ve got all of those weird plurals: a pride of lions, a gaggle of geese, a murder of crows, and a shitload of politicians.

As if it isn’t confusing enough, every single group comes up with its own jargon.

Then, people have the nerve to complain that, “No one understands me.”

The Power of the Press

SONY DSC SONY DSC

My in-laws are getting ready to move, and as they were packing—reaching into the far corners of the attic, they came across a vintage 1905 typewriter and a printing press. Based on e-mailed pictures I thought it was a mimeograph or spirits duplicator, which were mainstays of my grade school days. The mimeograph was better quality and was reserved for the school newspaper. The spirits duplicator was used for tests, and printed in purple; it also had a distinctive aroma of the solvent used to transfer the stencil to the papers.

When I actually saw it, though, it turned out to be an actual printing press, complete with type from the last printing job still in place. This wasn’t some toy with individual rubber letters; each line of type was cast in metal, and I believe it may have used some type of offset process. I have more research to do on it.

Today, we take it for granted that any thought, feeling, or whim can be shared with the world by Twitter, e-mail, blog or whatever. Here’s a selfie. Now here’s a picture of my spaghetti.

However, there was a time, not so long ago that the process was more time consuming. The sieve was more selective, and only those thoughts that made it through several critiques were shared with the world. That was not necessarily a bad thing.

About 90 percent of the e-mails, social media posts, and other messages I receive electronically is spam. Many news articles are followed by a nasty trail of anonymous troll droppings. So maybe the hassles of getting into print in days past was not so bad a thing.