Classless in Wisconsin


The calendar and thermometer have been arguing about whether it’s really spring here in northeast Wisconsin. The calendar, who happened to major in English, has already written this year’s story and insists that we are just a Memorial Day away from unofficial summer. The thermometer, a math geek, sees the world in numbers, and kindly pointed out this morning that the number at 6 a.m. was 36 degrees. My heart is with the calendar, but my feet side with the thermometer.

Classroom 1900's

Be that as it may, could, would, or should, my school semester has ended, the papers and tests have been marked, and the grades put in. Now that I am no longer  teaching, you could say I was “classless.” (And you would not be the only one to say so.) For the next two months I plan to read, write, loll around, dither, wander and meander, and practice retirement.


However, since I believe that you’re never too old to learn something new, or too young to learn something old, or even too new to know now what you didn’t know then, I am looking into summer classes that I will not only enjoy but will also be able to apply toward maintaining my certification credentials.


(The 56-word sentence above, masquerading as a paragraph, gives me secret pleasure because while I don’t allow my students to get away with that kind of writing, I let myself get away with it. We teachers get our pleasures where we can.)


I found one writing class, which satisfies both my interest and my certification needs, but I have been hoping for another. So far I haven’t found anything, but I did create a wish list of classes I would be interested in.


  • Risk Management and Interplanetary Scandinavian Studies


  • Therapeutic Zoological Phonemes in the Writing of Dr. Seuss


  • Urban Uterine Ultrasound Graffiti


  • Astro-Psychology of Real and Unreal Estate


  • Obstetrics Music Performance
  • Electrical Entomology
  • Microscopic Macro Studies in Micro-Linguistic Microcosmic Microwave Microchips in Microbiology


  • Slavic Plant Pathology and Philosophy


  • Genealogical Genomes in Gender Genuflection


  • Ethics of Folkloric and Gnomic Engineering


  • Bovine Dance Studies


  • Collaborative Dolphin Engineering
  • Chicana/o Environmental Accounting Literature


  • Art History of Post-modern Horseshoes

If I can’t find anything else this summer, I guess I will have to wait until next year when I am classless once more.

 Classroom Photo

If you can’t say something nice …



Imagine you are at the Westminster festival in London in May of 1306 to watch King Edward 1 knight his son, Edward of Caernarfon. You need to be a man for this scenario to work, so if you are a female, imagine that your take-home pay is as much as your male counterparts.

Everyone imagined up? Good, let’s proceed.


While you are enjoying your third cup of ale, a big, burly man calls you nice. Enraged, you try to punch him in the jaw, which is both stupid and foolish because he is twice your size. Your aggression proves to everyone within bowshot that you are, in fact, nice. Back then, nice meant stupid or foolish.

But don’t feel bad. Edward of Caernarfon, destined to sit on the throne in 1307 as Edward II, was deposed after twenty years for being nice, too. The nice things he did included military defeat at the hands of the Scots, murderous revenge, scandals, plotting, and lavish living, among other royal entertainments.

For several hundred years, that four-letter word nice insulted and disparaged people by calling them foolish, wanton, lascivious, fastidious, cowardly, and showy. Then by the late 1700s, nice changed its wicked ways, stopped going into bars to start fights, got a respectable job as an bookkeeper, and starting calling people refined, cultured, and respectable. Suddenly nice was finding other people agreeable and pleasant.

Some words at 700 still look hale and hearty; nice does not. His hair is thinning, his belly’s thickening, and his feet are flattening. He mumbles a lot and has begun to call everything and everyone nice. It doesn’t feel right to me, however. It’s a little too nice, if you know what I mean (and I think you do). Do you hear that hint of sarcasm when he speaks? “How nice,” he says in his treacly voice, when he really means, “How mediocre or bland.” It’s a short road from bland to vapid to stupid.

Maybe he’s making a comeback as an insult instead of a compliment. It would make for what some may call “a nice story.”




Why all the fuss about youth in Asia?



Why road

Why are we heading in this direction?


I do a fair amount of driving. Some of it involves my car, but a lot of it involves driving people crazy. I know every back road to crazy there is and can get you there faster than you can buckle a strait jacket.


When I drive my car, NPR (National Public Radio) or WPR (Wisconsin Public Radio) often rides shotgun. They always have something interesting to say, and of course, I have interesting things to say back because, yes, I talk to the radio. Don’t you?


Many of their programs allow people to call in with comments and questions, and whenever the topic is healthcare, someone inevitably mentions youth in Asia.


What exactly are people so afraid of? Have youth in Asia done something to them? Should I be afraid? Is there some conspiracy going on that people are trying to prevent me from knowing about?


I have lived in Asia, and I had no problem with the youth there. Yes, there are a lot them, but I think there are youth everywhere. I’ve seen quite a few at the mall near my house.


Dear reader, are you equally troubled and full of questions? I assume you are if you are reading this blog. And I bet I know which question you are asking right now: Are we there yet?




No, dear friend, not yet. Crazy is just a little further down the road.




The secret to eating more vegetables


If you had only listened to your mother, I wouldn’t need to write this post today. “Eat your vegetables,” she said. But did you listen? I think not. Otherwise, the government would not need to keep reminding you to eat them.



First, let’s begin with how to recognize a vegetable. In the wild, if it squeals, whinnies, moos, squawks, or swims, it’s not a vegetable. In the supermarket, look for bones, blood, and gristle. These are dead giveaways that you are looking at a different food group. Vegetables do not and have never moved. Be careful not to use the lack of movement as your only definition. Otherwise, cakes, cookies, candies, and pizza can easily be misidentified. These so-called foods are not vegetables.



Many people do not realize that those colorful and leafy products in the produce section of the supermarket are not decorations or gardening plants. Those are the edible plants known as vegetables.


More than your refrigerator's bottom-drawer petri dishes used for growing mold

Vegetables: More than your refrigerator’s bottom-drawer petri dishes used for growing mold


According to the DGAC of the HHS ODPHP and USDA CNPP* (U.S. Departments of way too many acronyms), people (you) are not eating enough vegetables. Many people have told me that I have a peculiar insight into these kinds of problems. In fact, some say it’s a very peculiar type of insight. So, as a public service, I am revealing (for free) the secret to eating more vegetables.



1. Buy vegetables – you can find fresh ones in the produce section of your supermarket. Avoid the inner aisles of your grocery store where they place the embalmed ones in cans.


2. Remove any wrappings. Sometimes vegetables are tied up with little wires. Right-tighty, lefty-loosy will not help you here, so do your best. If you have difficulty, cut the wire with kitchen shears.



3. Prepare the vegetables. This may require a level of manual dexterity you have not reached yet. If you don’t feel comfortable holding a knife or if others don’t feel comfortable when you are holding a knife, merely wash them and ask others to prepare them.



4. Put the vegetables on your plate.



5. Use a fork to spear a piece of a vegetable or use your fingers to pick it up. It’s not unheard of to use a spoon for vegetables that come in small pieces, like peas.



6. Put the vegetables in your mouth and chew. Don’t forget to swallow.



You will be amazed at how these deceptively simple steps will help you eat more vegetables.



Having trouble visualizing these steps? For just $9.99 you can purchase my 60-minute video demonstrating these methods. But wait, there’s more. If you act now (instead of just sitting there), for an additional $9.99 I will also send you my “Secrets to Eating More Fruit.” This patented method of “fruit installation” includes hand-illustrated diagrams as well as pictures of real fruit showing you how to get it inside your digestive system. (Note: The book has graphic content that may be offensive to some people who don’t like the way I draw.)



Since my patented methods have not yet proved patently false, I’m now offering to help you serve yourself in the same way I serve myself. And just to show you how self-serving I am, tomorrow I am giving away copies of my other most recent book, The Magic of Mastication: Unmasking the Mystery of Meaningful Mouthfuls. I guarantee it will give you something to chew on.



*Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee of the Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion AND the United States Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion