Monday, January 25, 2010

Innovation in the South (?)

In a gutsy move, a Tennessee hospital (Memorial Hospital, Chattanooga) has created a new policy wherein they will not hire anyone who smokes. (Nice idea on paper, let's see how they work it...) Stating that the hospital and it's employees should be more health oriented, the policy has made national headlines. Now the interesting part of this policy (for me anyway) is that it will include periodic testing for nicotine in their employees system. They have even gone so far as to say that they will not allow anyone to be employed at the hospital and use any 'quit smoking' system which includes nicotine (like the patch, or the gum) and the periodic testing would prove this out.

This new policy has garnered more than a few comments, most of them on the bad side. One major employer called it 'ground breaking' and another called it 'bold' where most of the individuals I've talked to have called it ...well I can't repeat most of that, let's just say that the heredity of the administrators has been compared to sheep and possibly bovine excrement. It would seem that most of these commentators didn't think that the hospital administrators thought this through enough. I mean, let's suppose that the hospital now has more than a few employees who smoke. Your new policy says that they must stop smoking. Ok, so how do you do that? Most Doctors I've talked to have said that quitting cold turkey is bad for the system, and recommend something such as the patch, the gum or a slow step-down-to-nothing sort of program. But this new policy doesn't allow for those current employees to take that initiative to quit smoking properly. It says you cannot have nicotine in your system at all, at any time, period, thank you for playing our game have a nice day.

Ok, so I can understand the push for more healthy employees, but at the same time not allowing those current employees an avenue to quit properly is like saying "We don't want you here". Let's go further and ask how you can exclude smokers for health reasons and not exclude people who are obese, or people who don't eat nutritious food, (or do other things which can endanger one's health, etc) thus excluding people based on behavior in their own homes. What's next? Excluding employees who don't watch the right TV shows, or read the right books, think the right way....or maybe, since Memorial Hospital is in fact run by a religious order, they will use religious beliefs to cull their employee roster.

As one friend of mine said, "This has been tried once Germany..and it didn't work out so well there either as I recall." I'm not going to go into a huge dissertation on the subject, I think the pundits have done a fine job by themselves.

I usually expect better from my Suthun neighbors. I bet some Nawthunuh snuck in there and started this ruckus. Yeah, I bet that's what it is.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Kudzu Critters and The Plight of the Suthun Farmer

It's called KUDZU (K-UH-D-zoo) and it's more than a weed, it's the enemy of the entire south. Not since General Sherman marched to the sea destroying everything in his path has something so single minded taken root in Southern Soil. Kudzu vines are not content to just grow up and around trees, telephone poles and inanimate objects (such as the car above) they grow into the cracks and crevaces making it even harder to get rid of. Not only that, but it grows fast. Take that car, for example. In the springtime, the vines can grow inches over night so this car may have been sitting there for only a few weeks rather than months or years as one might expect. (I hope that the driver got out ok...)

But where did this insideous green plant come from, you ask? (Oh good, you're asking questions, that means you're paying attention) Kudzu was introduced to the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The large leaves and sweet-smelling blooms of kudzu captured the imagination of American gardeners who used the plant for ornamental purposes. In the 1920's, the Glen Arden Nursery in Chipley, Florida sold thousands of kudzu plants through the mail. A historical marker there proudly proclaims "Kudzu Developed Here." During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Soil Conservation Service promoted kudzu for erosion control. It was easy to plant, took to the soil quicky and grew faster than anything else they had. Hundreds of young men were given work planting kudzu through the Civilian Conservation Corps. Farmers were paid as much as eight dollars an acre as incentive to plant fields of the vines in the 1940s. In 1953, however the US Government stopped advocating the use of Kudzu and in 1972, the poor maligned plant was formally declared a weed.
I was first introduced to Kudzu by my daughter on a long trip across the south to visit family. The way in which the plant spread out and covered everything in its path with a blanket of wide leaves created rather startling looking 'monsters' which she was sure were lurking there next to the highway waiting to reach out and grab our car. To keep her creative little mind off "monsters," we nicknamed them 'kudzu critters' (Yes, lower case to keep them friendly) and encouraged her to see friendly 'muppet' like critters in the odd and unusual shapes. Soon she was seeing cute bears, 'agalators' (yes, agalators, I kid you not) and even two headed 'efalumps' as the miles sailed by. To this day I cannot look at a field of Kudzu without thinking of them as critters.
Any Suthunah with more than a bit of land will tell you (in graphic and somewhat colorful language) what a pain Kudzu is to get rid of. You can cut it down and it practically grows back overnight. (There are poems and songs which entreat the southunah to keep the windows closed at night to keep the Kudzu from getting in!) Yet there are recipes (yes, you can eat it!) out there on the internet and people make everything from baskets to paper from the vines. (Oddly, has nothing to do with the plant...go figure...)

You won't find Kudzu in California (probably because the air is too dry) nor will you find it in New York (probably because of their abrasive attitude). Kudzu is a Suthun plant with Suthun sensibilities. Once invited in, it wants to stick around a while. So, the next time you're on a drive through the Smokies or across the delta, look for the friendly Kudzu critters and tell them I said Hi.

Monday, January 11, 2010

High Tech Redneck

Don't you just hate that? I had written up a great entry for this blog and then saved it on my flash drive. I then decided to do some re-organization of my backups for this same drive and somehow deleted it. I am kicking myself all over the room!

I am a computer tech by trade. I spend my days answering questions on computers and working to keep computers running. I know all about drives and backups and can repair most computers with one hand tied behind my back. So you can imagine how much this really irritates me. The most irritating thing is that I have to listen to a co-worker rattle on how to keep from deleting files in the future. (Yes, Yes, I know all this, but he has to go on and on about it.)

My co-worker is a real suthunah... let's call him Bubba. (not that this is his name, I just like the name Bubba and it seems to fit and since this is my blog, Bubba it is!) Bubba is what I refer to as the High Tech Redneck Suthunah. Not only is he a computer tech, but he's one of those guys who has to get the newest gadget when it comes out.

He's got an Iphone, and has all the services for it. (He's even got an ap which will make sounds like a Star Wars Light Saber when you move it around!) He's got a big portable drive on which he keeps all his movies, in both regular and Iphone format. At home he's got a wireless network for both his computers (his entire family's computers) and his gaming boxes, and he carries a laptop with a cellular connection. If he could find a way to connect his computer to his Harley and be able to get to his files at home AND at the office while riding in the Smokey Mountains, I'm sure he'd be the one to do it. (In fact, he may have done it already and just not told me about it!)

You see, most people think of being suthun as being backward, or behind the times. I've mentioned this before. Everyone thinks that it's sweet tea and honeysuckle vines and the thought of The South having a wireless remote for the TV is as foreign as Blintzes and Borscht. Bubba puts those thoughts in the ground with his Blue Tooth headsets (yes, plural, as he has one set for home and another for the office and another for riding on the aforementioned Harley.) High Tech is not a Northern affectation.

So, welcome to the New South, with it's crossover artists and it's High Tech Gentlemen like Bubba. Me, I'll just be over here whittling me a new thumb drive...maybe one that won't let me delete important blog entries again.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Suthunah and Technology

When you think of the South, you probably think of Nascar as being the most technological thing in their (our?) realm. Suthunahz (someday I may have to find a standard spelling for that...but I digress...) Suthunahz aren't wary of technology, they are more concerned with the quality of life than with the quality of their TV. Because of that, the Suthunah is looked upon as a backward ignoramus.

We know better, now don't we..
To the Suthunah, getting there is more important than the electronic doohickey that gets you there. Directions written out are the original GPS without the S. (Look it up...)

And while we're at it, how about the Original Suthun Palm Pilot...
The other thing that the Suthunah does is laugh. All my Southern friends and neighbors will look at these and laugh, because along with their laid back sensibilities, they have a great sense of humor about life and themselves. I'm sure they tell jokes about their displaced Suthun-wannabe-neighbor (ME) too.