Beaver Country Day School
Lady Gaga had to cancel some shows because she has Synovitis. Can you get that from wearing raw meat? Just checkin’. Actually, I know a little something about this. Synovitis, I mean. Not the wearing meat part; I much prefer to eat mine.
Go back to me at 18. Yes, I know it was a long time ago. But there are some things you do not forget, like my first days in the emergency room at the ancient and venerated Massachusetts General Hospital. It had been open since 1811. I read the log; the first patient was a French sailor — ships could dock at the front door, then — with what was politely referred to as a “social disease.” It was a work-study job assigned to me as an undergraduate, allegedly pre-med, at the sprawling Boston University. They laughed when I said I was going to be a doctor. I took people’s wallets from their pockets, looking for identification and insurance cards and I was good at that nefarious profession. I loved the moments when it was quiet up front and I could sneak back to an operating or treatment room, stealing a generally useless tidbit of medical knowledge. Such tidbits seemed so precious then. I remember sneaking back to the cast room when a handsome, muscled, orthopedic surgeon was casting a leg. He was laughing at me, like everyone else. He told me to ask him questions. The lady with fake blond hair, whom he was casting, was laughing, too. “Go ahead, honey. Ask him questions.” I asked him, I guess she hurt her knee. “How do you know how high up and how low down to build the cast?” Above and below the injury. Knees were kind of a mess, but you always worried about the articulations above and below. The orthopedist was not particularly articulate. I started thinking that any idiot could be one, and medical school should not be that hard to get into. I thanked him and turned to leave when he hit me with something I have never forgotten. “Casts are easy. Broken bones are easy. The tough stuff is soft tissue. Nobody knows a damned thing about soft tissue injuries. They act like they do, but they don’t.” I repeated my thanks, and felt bad that I had to slip back to the front desk and the business of who people were and who paid for all this. Read more on Lady Gaga’s Synovitis…
“Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.” “It is sweet and right to die for your country.” The line, in Latin, is from Horace’s Odes, 3.2.13. It is a memory from Miss Lovering’s 8th grade Latin class at the Beaver Country Day School. Everyone said Miss Lovering was a truly great Latin teacher, mostly because she was old enough that she was surely there in Rome when it happened. She was one of the older living Radcliffe College alumnae and had, it was said, found marriage a pale alternative to the glories that were Rome. I remember the above quote as the moment I started thinking Romans were simply not very nice guys. The “lie,” apparently often quoted to soldiers at the beginning of World War I — ostensibly to give them courage — was nicely incorporated into a poem by Wilfred Owen that expresses what yucky stuff war really is. People die of a lot of horrible things, and anyone who has seen combat veterans or lost family has probably figured out that death is just as ugly, if not more so, when it is for your country.
In the poem, he cites, “vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues.” Our friends at the Center for Disease Control show — avoid this page if you are faint of heart — a syphilis sore on a tongue, which is what this sounds like. An attempt to get sexy prior to combat is my guess. Soldiers have tried to use the “I could be in combat and die tomorrow” line on me; it never worked, obviously. Opening combat to women might be good in some ways. Good for military rank climbing or professional climbing. If a woman feels compelled to do this, I guess she should be allowed to. Read more on Women in Combat…
Probably, a lot of people would claim that they were my mentor if I was famous enough to be worth claiming. I had some great teachers, especially early on, and I had a bunch of wackos, too.
My-Father-Of-Blessed-Memory had to take up the slack when my first Hebrew teacher in a Yeshiva — now defunct — was a highly insecure (and probably gay) man who even got chalk all over himself. As a teacher, he was neither condemning nor very helpful, knowing no way to teach except repetition, both oral and written.
One of the reasons that I had no real mentoring when quite young was that I really did not know exactly what I wanted to do with my curious life, aside from “something in the arts and sciences” which covered pretty much anything I liked, or didn’t. Read more on The Fortunate Few Have Mentors…
I am not surprised at all that the findings of this study show young people in college don’t learn much in the first two years. I don’t think they learn much in all four. I was delighted that someone has the brass gonads to take these findings and make them public.
I am not sure how a standardized test would measure critical thinking, analytic reasoning, and writing skills, but let us assume for the moment that it does at least some of that.
I spent a hunk of my career on the faculty of a few medical schools. It never would have occurred to me to try to do anything at all with those allegedly useful four years of “pre-med” college education. It was too evident to me that nothing was happening intellectually. I could not wait to get out of there and get right to medical school. I was marking time to get a bachelor’s degree, and the only reason was to get to medical school. The passion was for medicine, not for the four years of undergraduate college.