Saturday, June 15, 2013

School Accountability

"Private and voucher schools do not have the same accountability standards that exist in the public schools."  This time the quote was from the Pewaukee school board president, but you've heard that talking point a gazillion times before.

"They don't have the same accountability!"  They say it like it's a bad thing.

Why doesn't anybody ever respond, "Darn tootin'.  And maybe that's actually part of the reason they provide a better education than do the public schools"?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Sad Side-Effect of Cell Phones

Once upon a time, when I called my mom to ask a quick question, sometimes my dad would answer.  Then we'd chat for a few minutes.  Or if my in-laws called to talk to Gary, sometimes I'd answer the phone.  When the kids grew old enough to answer the phone, they might catch a few minutes to say hi to Grandma and chat for a minute or two. 

With cell phones, that doesn't happen.
When I call Rachel, I don't bump into Matt.  Calling Paul to ask a question won't provide the opportunity to shoot the breeze with Mandy.  I have to choose which number to dial.

Even with landlines, the caller-ID provides a heads-up of which person should answer the phone.  So when I call Katie, Nathan seldom answers, assuming (usually rightly) that I'm calling to talk to her.

In the last couple of weeks, I'm recognizing these technological "advancements" as unpleasant barriers.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cleaning Silver

Put down that bottle of silver polish.  Back away from it slowly.  It is bad

I didn't know any better.  Those pretty silver-plated things we received as wedding gifts?  When they tarnished, I used silver polish.  I have ruined them.

Watching Downton Abbey, I saw servants polishing silver.  In centuries past, people didn't have high-powered chemicals with noxious smells, liquids for which you need rubber gloves and a mask when you open the bottle.  There had to be another way to clean silver.  And those secrets are what the internet is good for!

A large pot made of non-reactive metal
(or even the kitchen sink).
A piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Hot water.
Salt and/or baking soda.

Fill the pot or sink with enough hot water to cover the vase or tray or spoons.   Place the foil (shiny side up) on the bottom of the pot.  Add several tablespoons of salt or baking soda (or both) and dissolve it.  Place the silver into the water, making contact with the foil.  Wait for a minute or two (or five) as the tarnish dissolves away.  It is okay for the water to simmer gently on the stove. 

When you take the silver out of the water, polish it up a bit to dry it well.  Use a touch of olive oil on a soft cotton cloth or cotton ball to rub onto the silver to keep it from tarnishing too fast again.

If you have a piece of cheap silver that's in cruddy horrible awful shape, simply leaving it in the water longer won't be enough to clean it.  After 10 minutes or so, take it out of the water, and use some elbow grease and a rag to rub it well.  When you've gotten off as much blackness as possible, get fresh water, fresh foil, and fresh salt, and do it again.  If you've already used traditional hardware-store chemical silver polish on your silver gazillions of times, the silver may be damaged enough that it can't be cleaned nicely.  But you sure can make it better this way.  And it sure does seem to me that it takes longer for the tarnish to return when the silver is cleaned this simple, non-toxic way.