DON’T GO TO COLLEGE

As someone who has spent a great deal of his professional and personal life encouraging kids to go to college, the latest salvo from one of our presidential candidates really ticks me off. This, from someone who has a bachelor’s degree from Penn State, a Master’s Degree and a law school degree is somewhat disingenuous. This declaration that liberal professors distort children’s world view is further incomprehensible coming from someone who graduated from one of Pennsylvania’s most conservative schools.
This is not the first time that I have heard this call to stop kids from going to college. There is actually a professor at Penn State who argues that everyone should not go to college (a reasonable statement). He then proffers his philosophy to school district whose going on to college rate is down at the bottom of the barrel. He does not seem to be very popular in the wealthier parts of the state where the going on to college rate is over 90%.
Who encourages you to go to college? Is the guidance counselor who told my wife that she would never make it to college? Is it teachers, ministers, family or others, who impact on students? Is it peers (maybe more likely) who affect your everyday school activities?
I have seen the poorest and wealthiest schools in a number of states. The distinction can take your breath away. When you go to Loudon County, VA., Montgomery County MD., Cold Stream Harbor in N.Y. and compare them to MacDowell County, West Va. or Potter County, PA. you know that what these strange people say is a pile of Caca de toro.
How can you not know that poorer kids will not be able to go to college without some help from some place? The reason that they don’t go to school in the first place is their circumstances. This Darwinian Theory of the best and the brightest always find a way to get to school is ludicrous. I have seen it up close and personal in our two scholarships for poor rural kids over the past 12 years. These kids might not have gone to school at all without the scholarships. Were there many of them who should not have gone at all. I believe that there were some. Even those who dropped out did get some advantage from going for a year or two and many completed their schooling later.
The projections for the future are not so great about what kinds of jobs there will be needed. They all seem to be low end jobs. Without a college education, who will create the next set of new jobs, or are we relying on Ayn Rand to produce super people?
Wonder if our presidential candidate will encourage his own children not to go to college. That will be an interesting summation.

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LET’S START A CONTROVERSY !!!

There are so many items on the controversy list these days that it is nigh impossible to locate one that does not already have an advocacy group. In consulting with two of my consultants, Jeremiah Nebbish and Ronald T. Bogus, we have come up with something that really needs to come front and center. I am, of course, speaking about the weighing scales at the supermarkets.
These devices purport to give you the exact weight of the items that you intend to purchase and then multiply them by a cost per pound and then provide you with a sticker that is placed on the plastic bag that you take to the register or to the self check-out counter. Once past the sticker phase, there is no redemption. The sticker, with its barcodes represents a kind of finality that may not be questioned. When the barcode goes through the bar code reader, you are then obligated to pay the price.
Let me ask a few questions to titillate you. Have you ever questioned the scale’s determination of the weight of the item? Have you ever used a scale of your own choosing to see if the store scale is accurate? Have you actually checked the price for item 4201 and then multiplied it by the weight? Are you sure that item 4201 is actually the Granny Smith apples that you are then to purchase? When the scanner at the cash register, or the U-Scan machine scans your item, does it, in fact, register the proper price?
All of these things, and others, make me suspicious of the entire process. It was a far better world when the butcher put his finger on the scale when he weighted you purchase and you could blast him from across the counter. When you purchase your meat, chicken or turkey these days, do you actually weigh them? Of course you don’t. If it says 1.4 lbs, you just accept it, along with the plastic holder and the Saran Wrap on top of it.
How about those bags of apples or oranges or potatoes? Are you actually getting what you are paying for? Who does the weighing on those anyway? If they are by the number of items, who counts them and can you do it before you pay?
Funny thing, at the costly part of the supermarket, the special meats, cold cuts and sea food, they do not allow you to do the weighing. You rely on the person behind the counter to, once again, put their finger on the scale, which is too high for most people to see. When they ask you to tell them whether you want a lean cut of bologna, are they really distracting you from watching them?
The very displays of food are completely distracting as you walk along the aisles. Once you find what you really want from all the choices, you really are not sure what it is that you chose, or what price it is. Why are some of the exact same products, with differing labels at such varying prices? Why is it that certain aisles are misnamed? Are they really sure that Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda should be sold in the International section, instead of the soda section? Does that account for the higher price for Dr. Brown’s than any other can of other soda?
These are just a few of the questions that have spawned our interest in what is happening in the American super market. If there is any desire to form an advocacy group, please let me know.

IS THERE A DANGER TO LIN IN LINSANITY?

Since I am an old Knick fan (not currently, I now root for the 76ers), I am fascinated by the emergence of this young man, 23 years old and a Harvard graduate. Jeremy Lin is a rags to riches story like no other in a very long time. He seems to be a clean cut kid with a drive and ambition to be a successful basketball player. There are many players in the NBA who have the same skills as he does, but not with the determination and verve.
I believe that there have been just a few players in my memory who have had such an effect on a team by just joining them on the floor. I believe that Lin is comparable to Bob Cousy, Pete Maravich and Magic Johnson. I know that he has already been compared to John Stockton and Steve Nash. If you see him play, you become excited, even if you are rooting against him. That happened in Toronto when the crowd went wild for Lin’s moves. After the Knicks beat the Mavs, Jason Kidd, who guarded Lin throughout the game, came over and gave him a hug. So have other ballplayers from other teams.
So what’s the big deal with this young man? He is a novelty, not just because of his race. He seems to understand where he is and understands the struggles he has been through since he was a five foot three inch 9th grader trying out for the high school teams. He seems to respect the game that he is playing. He seems to really enjoy making a great pass. He appears to be as proud of his assists, as he is of the other parts of his game. He has even begun to improve on the defensive end of the court.
He is also aware that he is really a rookie and pays homage to all of the other people on his team. In an interview today, he said something that smacks of the many ethnics that have come over to this country. As people came over to this country their families who had been here a while were told to “fit in.” Lin said that when he was with the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets, he was trying to “fit in.”
When he got a chance with the Knicks a few weeks ago, he decided to be himself, with all the skills and warts that he had. He still gives the ball away too much, but he adds so much to the team. His energy, his constant looking for a way to score, pass off, even rebound, his resilience when people hit him, bespeaks of an inner strength. Do I believe that all of this publicity will hurt him? No I don’t. There is something real about Jeremy Lin that will win out in the end.

ALAS POOR YORICK, HE COULD NOT PUTT

I played my first round of golf at the Augusta, Georgia course that holds the Masters every year. I was at Fort Benning and went to services one Friday night and this nice gentleman invited me to go golfing with him. I had hit some at a golf driving range near my house in Forest Hills. I had never owned a club nor had I ever been on a golf course. That was something an inner city boy did not get to do in the late forties and early fifties.
The Augusta course was amazing, filled with flowers and trees (not sure if it was the site of the Masters). I was given a bag of clubs and a bunch of tees and balls. There were four of us and I wound up holding up the other three golfers. I played a side to side game. I hit the ball to each side of the fairway with every other shot. My tee shots were not quite as bad. I was a pretty strong kid and in good shape because of my basic training.
At the end of the round, I never thought that I would ever play another round of golf again. I was wrong. When I moved to Kutztown in 1973, I was invited to join Rotary. I was very proud of that invitation and remained a Rotarian for twenty years, including two stints as President. By the time I was entrenched in Rotary, I became friendly with all of my age cohorts. They were wonderful people and later supported me for superintendent of schools.
One Saturday morning, there was a knock on my door at about 6:30. I was dressed, for some reason, opened the door and faced two of my friends standing there with a golf bag filled with clubs and a bag full of golf balls. I was astounded when they said that they were there to pick me up to go to the Shepherd Hills Golf Course to play a round. I said that I had not played golf since 1957 ( this was 1975). They pshawed and dragged me out to the van that they were driving.
I waved goodbye to my wife and children as I dazedly sat back and awaited my fate. Remember that it was 6:30 in the morning and I had not had any breakfast. One of my buddies pointed to an Igloo canister and said have a drink. I thought that it was orange juice or something like that. I was wrong. It was a screwdriver.
By the time, we got to the golf course, I was already soused. My golfing partner was Craig Wagaman, a banker in town. On the first tee, money exchanged hands, betting on whether I was actually going to hit the ball off the tee (I did). Craig and I tooled around the course in our golf cart. We spent lots of time driving through sand traps and other unconventional parts of the course. I don’t remember what else happened. I do know that Craig wound up with a huge headache that he carried around for days.
I played a few more times in Kutztown and later on in Clarion. If I played more than twice a year, that was as much as I had time for. Fast forward to about five years ago. By then, I had my own set of clubs and bag. My friend Bill Hughes would call on me from time to time and I went out with him and had a good time. One day, Bill, the inveterate traveler and gambling maven decided that we should take golf to another level.
Along with my friend Mark Widoff we decided to go to different parts of the United States, spend five days and play golf every day. That seemed crazy at the time, but not so now that I am somewhat retired. We decided to go to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We found a great place to stay, right next to a gambling casino and actually played each day that we were there. As the days progressed, I began to get better. In my lingo that means about a 125. Each year we chose a different place. The second year, we picked up Al Collini, my daughter in law’s dad. He was a pretty good golfer with a penchant for picking up golf balls in all of the water traps. We went to New Orleans, North Carolina, and Mississippi. We had a great time in each place.
We also had a wonderful time playing jokes on Mark Widoff, who is a wonderfully calm person, even when I presented him with fake Rolex watches from time to time in public places. We ate well, gambled as much as we wanted and generally had a good time.
Golf is not a part of my home activities. If I play once or twice a year with Bill Hughes that’s about it. This year Carol and I decided to spend the month of February in North Myrtle Beach. There are so many golf courses here, that I had to take my clubs. I have played 3 times in seven days and will continue to play and meet nice folks. Today I was the youngest in a group of four. They all still beat me. I will try to get better.

THE EVOLUTION OF MY HAIR

Sometime in the early 1970’s, George Carlin did a poem about hair. You may remember it as a poem where all of the end words rhymed with hair, mon frère. His description of his own hair was pure Carlin and right on the numbers. After seeing a picture of myself when I was about 8 years old, I realized that I have gone through a long evolution of hairness.
My 8 year old picture shows a crop of dark, rather straight over the eye kind of hair that seems to bounce with every bounce of a basket ball. Some more early pictures show a darkish, maybe even brownish crop of uncombed, yet short locks. I barely remember any of those hair days. I have a feeling, that when I went to Dan’s barbershop on the lower East Side of Manhattan, that my grandmother had already detailed what was to happen to my hair. I never questioned Dan. After all, he was friendly with a bunch of guys in double breasted suits who wore large guns in holsters under their armpits.
Each morning, I would brush my teeth with Dr. Lyons Tooth powder, wash my face and hands and apply various greasy emollients’ to my head. My mother and sister used Pomatex, a foul smelling greenish goo that could not really be washed out of one’s hands very easily. The smell permeated my aura and did not go away until I arrived at school. At that point, my hair was as close to my head as any follicle.
If there was no Pomatex available, I would just throw on some Vaseline Petroleum Jelly, or its smelly twin sister, Carbolated Jelly, made by the same company. That usually sufficed till one day when all other stickums were depleted, there appeared in the medicine cabinet, a sweet smelling substance called Dixie Peach. I believe that Grandpa Israel used the stuff on his own hair.
Since no one really spoke to Grandpa, enough to find out what his habits were, I just assumed that he used it when he went to synagogue. It was a very light smelling stuff, without the magical sticking power of the other two. I used it for quite a while until it disappeared from the medicine cabinet. It has always been a mystery to me, why it suddenly was gone. Did Grandpa Israel take it in a fit of pique, or did Grandma discover my transgression and loosed all her venom on the helpless little bottle. Soon the Pomatex was returned and the mystery slid from my mind.
High school would never accept greasy kid stuff (a favorite expression at the time). These were the days of D.A.s Chicagos, Detroits and other kinds of hair styles for teenaged boys. T.V. was then in its infancy and ads for non-greasy kid’s stuff was abundant. “ Get Wildroot Cream Oil, Charlie, it keeps your hair in trim. You see it’s not an alcoholic Charlie, it’s made with soothin’ Lanolin,” or “Brylcream, a little dab ‘ll do ya. Brylcream, you’ll look so debonair. Brylcream, the girls will all pursue ya, just put a little Brylcream in your hair”
How could you miss with these kind of products. They even had hair contests at the movies to see who had the longest hair ringlet hanging down over one’s forehead. I never competed. Yet, I was right there with my D.A. and a Kool cigarette hanging out of my mouth on the corner of Continental and Queens Boulevard.
The movies had quite an effect on teenaged boy’s hair. Stars such and James Dean, Marlon Brando and later Elvis ignited hair styles and looks. Singers like Bobby Rydell, Fabian and the Everly Brothers were people to look like. By the time 1957 rolled around, I was heading to the Army where their idea of hair was a complete “baldy bean.”
That style was pretty much it until I got out of the service in 1959. However, there was one event in my military life that may have had a significant effect on my hair history. In August of 1957, I was stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia at the South Eastern Signal School. It was blistering hot during that time of the year. My two friends, Don Mondschein and Jack Behlman decided to go to Savannah Beach and pick up some women.
Don and Jack were older than me. Their idea of picking up women was to find some prostitutes and pay their way into the sack. My idea, at almost age 19 was to find some nice girls at the local synagogue, get introduced as a nice Jewish boy and maybe go to someone’s house for dinner. I lost out to Jack and Don. They found their stash of professionals and I wound up walking on the beach for a few hours.
It was one hundred and ten out there on the beach. I had not thought of bringing a hat with me, military or otherwise. I burned the top part of my had and I head blisters for days. I spent a significant amount of dough on Noxzema.
No one in my family, man or woman, back three generations, had ever lost their hair. Grandpa Israel and Grandpa Sam both died with a full head of hair. Both my grandmothers did the same. My father, although dying at age 36 had all of his hair when he died. That was also true, I am told, of the generation before my grandparents. I was to become the most singular hair loser on both sides of my family.
The wedding pictures of 1963 show my forehead beyond its original line. The curls are drifting away from each other and empty spaces have appeared. By the time I was on my mid twenties, I was pretty bald on the top of my head. At first I was not even aware of the need to cover a bald spot. Since it was a normal kind of thing, I paid no attention to it.
However, I began to replace my loss of hair on the top with hair under my nose. This became somewhat annoying because I had to trim it and keep it free and clear of dry skin and suchlike. At age thirty four, I became the principal of the Kutztown Area Junior High School. One day, one my teachers came to me and suggested that I might be better off, if I affected a combover.
Combovers have another name, “Immigrant Hair,” you bring it over from the other side. It took my new barber, Bob, to get the idea that he should not cut all of my hairs ( as they say in Kutztown) and that he should part my hair and leave most of the hair on the left side of my head long enough to comb over my giant bald spot. I wore it like that for many years. However, as I became more Dutchified, I got rid of the mustache and cultivated a beard that went around my face from sideburn to sideburn. It was the Amish look which I then affected for close to 20 years.
The combover was a difficult hair do to work with. First of all, you should always wear a hat in windy weather. If you do not, you could get lashed to death by a windstorm ( happened to a Mt. Idy character named Leonard Box). Each time you take off a shirt, take a shower, go to the gym or almost anything physical, you mess up your “do.” Sleeping is also a problem. It is a period of time that confronts almost everyone who has hair. Upon arising, I had to unplaster my hair and spend about five minutes making it look presentable.
Sometime during the early part of my reign as I.U. Director in Clarion, I started to diminish the combover and got a moderately short haircut, which I sport till today. Towards the end of my tenure there, I did away with my beard, my sideburns and extraneous hair. I did start growing hair on other party of my head- my eyebrows, my ears and my nose. The barber charged no more to do these cuttings, because the rest of my head was a snap.
During the early nineties, I began to experiment with a very close haircut and found it to be the best of all possible worlds. I now did not have to take care of it at all. One visit to Al the Barber was all it took each month. I was even bold enough to get haircuts in other places in the world, even from a woman wearing a cowboy hat it Cody, Wyoming.
As my hair recedes into the background, I can still see faint dabs of brown color of days gone by. I still have dark brown eyebrows, which contrast wildly with my whitewall hair. It’s funny how all of this does not seem so important now. I guess there are more important things to do now, like take all of my pills.

TRAVELIN’ WITH KATZ

Sometime last Fall, Carol and I decided that we were going to do something that we had not done before. We were going to spend a month away from our home in Harrisburg, PA and go somewhere down South. We scratched Florida (God’s waiting room) and focused on some more northerly places like Georgia and North Carolina. Carol met some nice people at her Tai Chi class and was told about North Myrtle Beach.
Carol went on line in a flash and discovered a nice place about a block from the ocean with a swimming pool and three bedrooms. Yes, the water is still cold and why have three bedrooms? You can never tell who might head down here and want to stay over. It was all set then, we were going to take our two pests, Mr. Random Numbers and Mr. P.S., our two black cats. They were thrilled with the opportunity to see someplace new. You could see the smiles on their faces as we told them ( believe that and I have bridge to sell you in Moscow).
Our planned route was going to take us about two days. We started packing up our van ( Bartolo) about a week ahead of time. The question was, what to do with the Katz. We pondered this problem for a number of weeks. We decided to purchase a $125 carrying motel room for two a put blankets in it. We placed the carrier in the middle of the living room for a few weeks so that we could get them used to the idea of a new place to crawl into. Random knew exactly what we were doing. P.S. still does have a clue.
Prior to leaving we took the Katz to the vet to see if they were o.k. We asked the vet about traveling with the animals and he gave us some good advice. Here is a bottle of valium and put them out if they become too excited or noisy. It will calm them down and put them to sleep.
We were smart enough to purchase harnesses for the beasts and got them used to them for a few weeks. We felt that if we opened the door of the van and had them on a leash, there would be less chance of them running away. So, the morning came and we packed the rest of our things. We put in their water, their food and their litter box. We then went back inside and carried the little motel into the van and placed in on some plastic.
The Katz were quiet for the first mile. After that, P.S. began to speak to us in cat talk. He was not very happy at all. He wanted to be let out to wander around the van and do his usual curling up in our laps and relax. Mr. Random had nothing to say other than to jump on P.S. and give him a nip or two. Not sure he wasn’t more annoyed than we were.
We stopped at a gas station in Virginia and a restaurant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. By that time the mewling was almost intolerable. We took a chance and gave Mr. P.S. a valium that the vet had given us. Even that did not work. The sounds were a bit off key, but kept on for miles. We decided that I would continue driving and we would let the cats out of their cat house. Carol would control the cats so that they did not go under my feet and cause a problem.
As it turned out, Random just looked around on the top of the carrier or climbed over Carol and stayed in the foot well. P.S., on the other hand, was all over the place, till he finally got buzzed enough and laid down in Carol’s lap. He stopped meowing and we were on our way to North Myrtle Beach.
We hoped that when we reached our home for the next month, that the Katz would have calmed down. That was true for Random, but not for P.S. who continued to mouth off even when we got to our destination. We brought the Katz up to the apartment and put them in the carrier while we trudged up the stairs a number of times and brought in all of the “stuff.”
We then let them out to explore. They both kind of hesitantly went into all of the rooms and looked around. We had set up one of the rooms as their food and processed food area. They immediately began to eat, and in P.S.’s case continued to meow. By the time the late evening came around we were dogged (Katzed0 tired. We went out for a bite to eat and returned to sit and read and then go to sleep.
We normally do not allow the Katz to sleep with us, but this was a different case. We did our ablutions and then lay down in bed.The Katz were all over us and P.S. continued to howl. It was a night of Katz jumping on and off the beds and lying down nearing our ears and snoring, sleeping on our chests and generally wreaking havoc with our alpha waves. We didn’t sleep much.
The next morning we actually did not get out of bed until 10:30. By that time there was silence in the apartment. The two cats ate breakfast with us, not our food, but just sitting there and looking at us. By the end of the day, there was silence. That evening the cats slept with us with a minimum of sound and fury. By day three they had become used to the apartment and our routine.
I am not sure what we are going to do on the way back. We will probably make it all in one day, that is if we have the strength.