Sunday, May 29, 2011

Superintendent Bootz' Idea

" I guess we need to treat our students like they are prisoners, with equal funding. Please give my students three meals a day. Please give my children access to free health care. Please provide my school district Internet access and computers. Please put books in my library. Please give my students a weight room so we can be big and strong. We provide all of these things to prisoners because they have constitutional rights. What about the rights of youth, our future?!"

Nathan Bootz, the superintendent of Ithaca Public Schools in Michigan.

Here in the education-starved land of Arizona we spend $7,608 per year for each public school student. In the same period measured and discussed in this report released last June the national average was $10,259.

Arizona spends $61.74 per day (according the the Arizona Department of Corrections website,) to imprison each of its inmates. That comes out to $22,535 per year for each prisoner.

But of course public schools students aren't housed 365 days per year. Only about 180, so if you take that number and multiply it out by the same amount it costs us to incarcerate a person for their first-time marijuana bust, you get $11,113 per student per year. A far cry from the amount we now spend, and cuts to education will only make the numbers even worse.

Le voila!

The answer to our spending problems for public schools is to simply turn them into prisons, as suggested by Superintendent Bootz.

However, it will be argued that unlike prisoners, students are housed for only part of the day; about 8 hours. That of course would reduce the amount spent on students to about $3,704 per year.

Maybe it's not such a good idea after all.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Less Pink Clouds

I love my dog, a red Texas Blue Lacy, but she has a very high energy level and sometimes I just want it all to stop.

She herds the poor cats, leaving them cowering under the bed in shrimpbowl's room. She stands at the top of the stairs looking out the front window and she barks at passing chimeras. Nasty threatening things, those chimeras, though they are supremely disadvantaged because they don't really exist. She bolts around the house jumping on the carefully-arranged human furniture, which turns out to not be for mere human use after all. They are launching-assist devices.

I think bad things about her. I want to toss her into a volcano and sacrifice her to the canine lava-goddess, eight-armed (or is it eight legged?) Collie, mistress of doggie hell-fire.

Additional thoughts:

If there were some enormous Bank of Dumb-Ass where stupidity was stored like bullion, you can be sure someone would try to rob it.

Far from now many thousands of years in the distant future some David Johanson type is going to dig up what by then will be an ancient container of Cool Whip and it will still be edible.

Some of the surgeons I get to work with specialize in thoracic and esophageal stuff. Tough cases from around the Valley get referred to them. Beware of bariatric surgery.

I am actually a big fan of bariatric surgery. When I see a morbidly obese person, I do not think "that person needs to seriously cut back on the Mars Bars." Instead I think "that person needs surgery." It's really the only way some people, those who are just plain genetically determined to be fat, can successfully get their weight down. A good bariatric surgeon can help people get their lives back from the hellish brink of morbid obesity, at least until they invent some sort of recombinant-DNA kit that you can buy at CostCo to make you into a Lance Armstrong or Calista Flockheart type.

The problem is that not all bariatric surgeons are the same.

This poor guy had some major fuck-ups in his original bariatric surgery and he ended up with segments of necrotic bowel that had to be removed. After that he couldn't eat at all, and his nutrition was maintained intravenously for months before he had recovered enough strength to undergo restorative procedures. A new Roux-en-Y. A gastroplasty. A distal esophagectomy. Lysis of multiple adhesions. Re-anastomoses of of the esophagus and gastric outlets and a double-anastomosis of duodenal and jejuenal sections. There was more in the surgical report but I cannot remember it all. It went on and on.

They unzipped him. His stapled surgical incision ran down from his sternum all the way to his groin. He had G-tube, a J-tube, a JP drain, a PICC line for TPN and fluids, a peripheral line for antibiotics, an epidural for pain control, and a patient-controlled anesthesia pump for additional pain medication. We ran four pumps (some were double pumps) into him continually.

This didn't have to happen.

If you ever need to consider bariatric surgery please contact me and I will assist you with your search for a surgeon who specializes in these procedures. I might be able to point you in the right direction. There some really really good ones out there. For example, I know these people and they are tres formidable. I've seen their work. They do good things. I know of this surgeon by reputation only, but it's good.

Nurses hear things that you probably don't. Dog whistles.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Au Fait

Initially I bought the Valenti book for my kid to read because it's written in short easily digestible bits that would not tax the attention span of a relatively young person, but I like it too. Not that I have the longest attention sp... Squirrel!

The Ariel we all grew up with was not the one that Plath wrote; not the one that was found sitting on her desk completed.

You can never know enough about evolution and teeny little particle field-thingies.

Hitch won't be around much longer, sadly. His writing is so eloquent. I'd have loved to have had him over for a party, along with say Molly Ivins. Boy howdy!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Now Is the Month

Now is the month of Maying, when merry lads are playing! Fa la la la la!
Each with his bonny lass, a-dancing on the grass, fa la la la la!

The Spring, clad all in gladness, doth laugh at Winter's sadness! Fa la la la la!
And to the bagpipes’ sound, the nymphs tread out the ground! Fa la la la la!

Fie! Then why sit we musing, youth’s sweet delight refusing? Fa la la la la!
Say, dainty nymphs and speak! Shall we play barley break? Fa la la la la!

Thomas Morley was an English composer who was born in either 1557 or 1558 and died in the first decade of the 17th century. I studied and played much of his music when I was in college. One of my best musical experiences was when Roger Harmon, a lutenist from the Peabody Institute, came to our school with a passel of instruments including an Orpharion (basically a small Bandora,) and a Cittern.

The Orpharion looked something like this:

One of the graduate students in our little guitar department was selected to play that. I was handed a Cittern and my tablature parts to learn, over the weekend, for a performance of several of pieces from Morley's Consort Lessons, first published in 1599.

The Cittern looked something like this one:

It didn't exactly have frets; instead, the fingerboard was scalloped at each fret position. Probably because Citterns were wire-strung, not strung with gut with gut frets tied around the neck as on a lute of that period.

A few more students who had some interest in early music were also drafted into this mixed Consort: we had a couple Viol players and a flautist who worked on the recorder a lot. Morley wrote for a "broken consort" which contained a variety of different instruments. Other consorts were made up of instruments from one family: a consort of viols, recorders, sackbutts, krumhorns, or whatever. The flautist got to play a wooden transverse flute; basically a stick with holes in it. I got selected to be a part of this thing because I could read tablature, the notation employed by Renaissance composers for plucked string instruments. Here's an example from the Cherbury Lute Book:

Lord Herbert of Cherbury liked lute music and his collection contains the above as well as a lot of other music, mostly French like that intabulation of the chanson En me Revenant. A guitar-music version in modern musical notation looks like this. (I couldn't load the pdf file to post it here.)

It looks daunting but it's actually easier to read tablature than it is to read "music."

We had a great time rehearsing and performing.

But here it is, May 1st 2011, and I am a nurse. I haven't had a Cittern in my hands in years.

"Now Is the Month of Maying" is probably Morley's most famous madrigal, though technically speaking it's a ballett, which is basically a madrigal with "fa-la-la's" in it.

The English went for madrigals like crazy after Musica Transalpina was published there in 1588. Developed in Italy, madrigals were taken up by English composers and these became staples of household entertainment.

Transalpina has Italian music in it with the words changed to English. To English ears the "fa-la-la's" made these part-songs sound Italian.


Morley was a teacher, too. I have a copy of "A Plaine and Easie Introdvction to Practicall Musicke."

It's sitting on a shelf somewhere. It's handy to have it around, just in case.

Here's "Now Is the Month of Maying" in modern notation: