Thursday, February 04, 2016

Catching up with literature


I've been re-reading my old books.  Among them is the mystery classic, "Tragedy at Law" by Cyril Hare As I read it, the book is disintegrating  in my hands.  Pages, even whole signatures, are falling out.  A pity, because it's a clever, civilized book, an affectionate portrait of life on the legal circuit during World War II.

Cyril Hare was a member of the legal establishment, whose real name I have forgotten and am too lazy to look up.  He was a deft and amusing writer in that distinctive and civilized  manner of  English writers before Britain became a no-place whose main characteristic was a flabby "diversity.".

Since I am now more or less housebound, I considered   this a great opportunity to read some of the  Great Works of Literature.  I took down Beowolf from the shelf.  Can't understand its appeal.  Likewise The Red and the Black, and as for Ulysses, forget it!

My mind is impervious to improvement.

This is how I am feeling.  (It's a rusted water pipe from Flint)

I've been sampling the health care quality from coast to coast.

It has occurred to me that 50 % of medical graduates are in the bottom half of their graduating class.  I believe I've met a large number of them.

Monday, January 18, 2016

I fell off my treadmill--but good

I went to California to see the sights.  On Day 1, I tripped over my suitcase.  Then the fun started:

1. broken neck, two black eyes
2.) ischemic colitis. This means they don't know why you have colitis, and neither do you
3.) UTI
4.)they said I had gout;  I didn't
5. UTI
6.)Immmensely swollen leg, blown off as arthritis of the knee @ the hospital;
7.) broken ankle
8.) home
9.) x-rays and other diagnostic stuff in Delaware.

Now you know.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Remember loyalty cards?

You remember them, surely?  If you used them at the Acme, you could get 10 cents off of a can of beans.  At the Regal Theater, you got free popcorn.  It was effortless, if not brainless.  You didn't even have to bring the card with you; they could look up your phone number.

Well, those days are over.  Loyalty cards now represent an educational opportunity.  You have to use your brain--never an attractive option for me.  Now you have to go to the website of the loyalty card--let's say it's Plenti--log on, get yourself a username and a password, and then--but I never got that far, so I never got anything out of my Plenti card.

I haven't given up hope.  So today, I used my Plenti card at the gas station, and what do you know, the brain inside the pump asked me if I wanted to use the $12 I had on my Plenti card.  Did I ever?  I pressed yes, and proceeded to pump gas into the car.  However, the receipt said I couldn't use the Plenti points to buy gas.  But I got 8 more Plenti points.

Whole Foods also has a Rewards card.  Yesterday the cashier at my local Whole Foods advised me to just spend an hour familiarizing myself with the card, but that's an hour I will never get back.  Furthermore, I don't want to give Whole Foods my e-mail address and get lots of spam messages from the company offering me free range chickens.  I don't want to sign up.  I don't want an app on my iPhone.  I want 10 cents off a can of beans or free popcorn without making a gigantic mental effort.  Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

To hell in a handbasket

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

These passages  by William Butler  Yeats could be  read at the beginning of every newscast, followed by the words, "Details at eleven," and they would describe the world situation perfectly.  We could then have a speech by Obama, explaining that this was the desired effect of his wise policies, and everything was going as planned.

On the treadmill

Every day when the weather is not good I walk on the treadmill at the gym.  The treadmill has television, I plug in my headset, and I am good for a mind-numbing session of the Food Network.  Or sometimes I watch the news on occasions when Obama is not speaking.

Yesterday, all the television sets were set on one channel, a sports channel, which was having special coverage on a basketball scandal taking place at the University of Louisville.  It featured a woman who procured women for prospective basketball players.  Among the prostitutes she recruited were three of her young daughters.  She had four daughters, but the youngest was left at home, perhaps to watch the cat or maybe do her homework.

Apparently life at the U of Louisville was just one round of orgies, with drugs, alcohol, sex and more sex, all paid for by the coach.  Occasionally the student athletes had to interrupt the party scene for basketball games or practice.  Writing term papers or studying for tests were activities not prominently featured in their schedules.  Student athletes could graduate from the University after a decent interval as ignorant as the day they started their university careers, or maybe more so,  having had their brains fried by alcohol or drugs.

I hate to be the neighborhood scold (or maybe not), but what does this stuff have to do with education?  Why doesn't the university of Louisville just hire themselves a  basketball team, pay them decent salaries, and pocket the profits, if any.  In this way, they could avoid the fiction that they were in the education business.  Nothing wrong with that; the New York Yankees do not award degrees.  They don't have to hire United States Senators and other worthies to give inspirational speeches at commencement.  In other words, they are honestly paid to provide a service which people are willing to pay for. The University of Louisville, on the other hand, is a whore.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

I'm still here, and pissed!

I spent 20 days in rehab, getting infused every 6 hours with antibiotics.  They stuck a tube up my arm so they wouldn't have to open a new vein every time I got an infusion.  That would have been inconvenient.

Every few hours they pricked my finger to test my blood sugar, which was all over the place because I was sick, for God's sake.  After a while, I told them to knock it off.  My blood sugar was not what I was there for, and I didn't want any more finger sticks.  So they sent a nurse over to inform me that if I developed diabetes Medicare would not pay for insulin.  I managed to bear this news with equanimity.

While I was lying there in my bed of discomfort, I managed to read all the literature the hospital had given me.  It turns out that the hospital treats everybody over a certain age as a fall risk.  This means they put a Whoopie cushion in your bed, under your body, so every time you get up an alarm goes off.  You are supposed to ring for the nurse, who then might come and assist you out of bed.When she gets around to it.  Yes, the Wilmington Hospital treats every older adult admitted for anything like a toddler.  You could be a circus acrobat suffering from a sinus infection and still be humiliated this way.  It's not unpleasant enough to be in the hospital, so they make it worse, for their own convenience.

I think this procedure was invented by lawyers to prevent the hospital from being sued. 

I am angry enough about the lack of cleanliness.  Hand sanitizers and hazmat suits have taken the place of soap and water.  The rooms and bathrooms are never cleaned, nor are the patients washed.  I was in there for 5 days, and I must admit I reeked.  But the hazmat suits protected the staff, and the hell with the patients and visitors.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Florence Nightingale, call your office

I am not dead, contrary to rumor, not even close.

My life, or my health, was saved by doctors and nurses of various local institutions, and I am grateful to them.

However, gratitude is the most short-lived emotion, so I am ready to bitch and moan about cleanliness, or the lack thereof.  I was in the infectious disease ward.  Everyone who came in had to put on a garment like a hazmat suit, even if they only brought a pill or a blanket. But the floor was not cleaned once in four days.  There was something--I won't specify what-- on the floor in the bathroom, which had also not been cleaned.  For a moment I flirted with the possibility of cleaning it up myself, but sanity prevailed, so I told the nurse about it.  She immediately told someone, and a maintenance person was sent up.

The maintenance person said nothing, but every atom of her being bristled with the injustice of the thing.  Her body was eloquent with disapproval.  However, she did clean the floor.

Then I was transferred to a nursing home, where the same standard of cleanliness, or lack thereof, was apparent.  Someone came in with a broom and dustpan to remove whatever had spilled on the floor, if it was the size of a kernel of corn or larger.  The toilet overflowed twice, and someone wiped up the water on the floor, but no soap was applied.

Sanitation is something that interests me, for personal reasons.  My father died because an infected pacemaker was implanted in his body and he could not fight off the infection. So I consider the mop, the broom, and the vacuum cleaner vital to taking care of sick people.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Business as usual

A teacher in New Jersey  is reinstated after being tardy 110 times.  Yawn.  Tell me something new.

As library director,I once fired a young man for being insolent.  He had dropped in at various Board members' homes on Easter Sunday to discuss his grievances.  One of the Board members insisted he be fired.  In any private enterprise in New Jersey, an employee can be fired at any time, for any cause.  I know this because I looked it up.  I knew there would be repercussions, even as I drafted the letter relieving him of his responsibilities.

Our library did not have a union at that time, but we had Civil Service, which is just as good at assuring any public employee that he had a cast-iron right to his job.  And so it turned out.  The employee threatened to sue.  The municipality settled the case in his favor, giving him everything he had been asking for.  They even paid for his lawyer.

There is a procedure for firing an employee who is a civil servant.  It involved keeping a log of the person's misdeeds, oral counseling (in Civil Service lingo, that means talking to him).  After that comes written counselling, (writing the person a letter).  There was plenty more that had to be done before saying sayonara, but I will spare you the details.  Just thinking about it makes me tired.

The amount of work needed  to get rid of an employee was phenomenal and took up most of the supervisor's time for weeks.  I also learned that I needed another employee in the room when I did all this counseling, etc, or it would be a case of he said/she said.

Nevertheless I did get rid of two good-for-nothing lazy employees.  I did this by writing them endless letters and having sessions of criticism with both of them (separately) in my office, with a witness.  I kept track of them like God does when he keeps an eye on a sparrow, only God does not have to issue written reports and memos and have limitless discussions.  Nor does God have to have a witness present.

Meanwhile, the supervisor (me) and the witness (someone else) cannot perform any other of our duties because of the time suck involved in showing an employee the door.

How I envy Donald Trump!