plagues, pandemics and PISA
A few things bothering me today. Read on to find out what the fuss is all about.
There are no rats in my ratatouille, but there may be some in my garbage any day now.
You see, the garbage collectors in our state are on strike, as are hospital workers, school janitors, kindergarten (pre-school) teachers and various other union workers. We haven't had our garbage picked up since February 10 and it's starting to get nasty.
Of course we're keeping our garbage bagged up and inside the house, but other non-law-abiding citizens are unloading it wherever they please, either leaving it in remote areas, or in front of the gates of the closed recycling centres. It's piling up at at alarming rate. Nice. They say if it goes on we could soon be facing a rat plague. There are already and estimated 500,000 rats in the Hannover area, and many more are going to be attracted by all this rubbish lying around. Apartment blocks usually have large communal garbage containers (which are now overflowing anyway) however out in the suburbs there are no garbage cans - we are required to use special plastic trash bags that are set out onto the street on garbage day. You can imagine how easy they are to rip open. The rats are going to have a heyday.
And what do rats do best besides eat yummy garbage? They carry diseases. And what disease is going around at the moment in Germany? Bird flu. Can rats get bird flu? No one knows, but it's entirely possible. They may not die from it, but they may be carriers. Ugh.
On the European front, bird flu has now reached Italy, Greece, France, Austria and Germany and in the past week the H5N1 virus was found to be the cause of death in over one hundred migratory birds on the island of Rügen in northeastern Germany. As spring nears, more and more birds will be on the move, posing a huge threat to German poultry farmers who have been ordered to lock up their livestock to prevent them from being infected. If the virus is not kept under control, things could get interesting.
I am trying not to worry. Yet.
And last but not least, here's a link to the findings of the UN envoy Vernor Muñoz who just finished up a 10-day tour of German schools to check on the state of the German school system and to determine whether human rights are being violated. I've already mentioned Germany's poor showing in the PISA study, and Muñoz was sent in to analyze the situation and makes suggestions as to what needs to be changed and at what level in order to bring German schools up to scratch.
US Envoy Critical of German School System
I can't quite believe that they needed a UN envoy to figure this one out. Why didn't they just ask the parents?
OK, my rant is over. I am actually feeling sort of human these days after two weeks on my new thyroid dosage. I have (a bit) more energy (worked out twice this week!), the dark cloud over my head has lifted somewhat, I no longer have the urge to stuff my face all day AND I lost 4 lbs! Woohoo! Go me. You know how Madonna re-invents herself every few years? I think I'm going to try that. Look for the new improved me...