Whats your specialty?
by Mad Dog
most likely way is that she earned a liberal arts degree, then woke up the day after
graduation thinking, "I dont want to teach. I dont want to be a teller in
a bank. What else can I do with this degree?" and decided to go into the lucrative
field of testing triceratops ka-ka.
|| If its ever
crossed your mind for even a moment that were in the age of specialization then you
can put your mind at ease. We are. Doctors specialize in arcane branches of medicine like
post-pediatric neuro-gastro-oncology, there are lawyers who make their living by only
handling lawsuits against presidents (a lucrative field these days), and God help you if
you take your aging Yugo to a mechanic who only works on new Chryslers. Face it, nowadays
generalists are about as common as a guy who hasnt put in for his Viagra
Take, for example, the
recent news that scientists discovered a 15½-pound chunk of petrified Tyrannosaurus
rex manure. Im not sure how they knew thats what it was, since something
makes me think it would look an awful lot like, say, a 15½-pound hunk of dried mud. But
somehow they knew. Probably because they called in Karen Chin of the U.S. Geological
Survey, who a newspaper article described as "the worlds foremost expert on the
fecal remains of dinosaurs." Now theres something to put on your business card:
Karen Chin, Dino-dungologist
There are a couple of ways Karen could have
earned this title. The first is that shes the only person who ever thought to chip
off pieces of dinosaur dung and analyze them, making for pleasant dinnertime conversation
with her husband. The second is that she just happened to have examined more pterodactyl pies than anyone else, which I dont think would be difficult
since most of us think thats a dessert made by Entenmanns. Though we still
prefer the Pecan Ring.
The third, and most likely way, is that she
earned a liberal arts degree, then woke up the day after graduation thinking, "I
dont want to teach. I dont want to be a teller in a bank. What else can I do
with this degree?" and thanks to a quirky score on an aptitude test decided to go
into the lucrative field of testing triceratops ka-ka. The truth be known, she was
probably the only one who responded to the offer on the back of the matchbook cover.
Every March 14th at 1:59 PM people all around the world who have no life celebrate the
irrational number more commonly known as 3.1415926535, carrying it out to more decimal
places than Fox has disaster shows.
|| Contrary to what
you may think, a degree isnt necessary to become a specialist. Louis Johnson of
Oakland, California has turned himself into a cinema specialist by seeing Titanic 100
timesat the same theater, no less and has the ticket stubs to prove it. This
points out one of the chief hazards of specialization: you can become a very boring
Specialization knows no
international boundaries. In Hoevelaken, a city in the Netherlands which translates as
"Hoboken", theres a veterinarian named Mario Blom who opened a hospital
that only takes care of sick fish. If you go online you can find the Airsickness Bag
Museum which shows and describes those little bags you always hope the person next to you
on the 10-hour trans-Atlantic flight wont have to use. And believe it or not,
theres even a special holiday for those who think pi is something to celebrate
rather than to eat.
Thats right. They hold it on
that day because March is the third month, its the 14th day....yes, you get the
idea. Some of these people are so into it that they even celebrate 2 pi day on June 28th.
Did I mention any of the hazards of specialization?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (motto: "Cars dont kill
people, guns fired out of car windows kill people") has decided that those famous
crash test dummies are too generalized, so theyre going to make a whole family of
|| Reference books
can be very specialized. Some, like the Oxford English Dictionary, try to be
all-encompassing, but that just results in a book the size of a commercial refrigerator,
which is why only four libraries own copies and they use it to shore up the second floor
of the building which is sagging because the Library Construction Concrete Reinforcement
Bar Handler was hung over one day when the building was being erected and there was no one
else with that particular specialty to take his place.
Thats why its so heartening to know that the Vaticans Latin Foundation,
a group whose primary mission is to teach people the difference between Latin and pig
Latin, has released volume two of the modern Latin Dictionary. Since no one but the Pope
speaks Latinand even hes not sure what hes saying half the timeit
makes you wonder why they spent six years putting this together just to let you know that ludus
pilae mensalis is Latin for Ping-Pong and lycopersici liquamine condita is
tomato sauce. Not even the four libraries which own the Oxford English Dictionary will be
buying thisits not big enough to support that reference room table with the
one short leg and it only uses up valuable money which could go towards buying another
copy of the self-help book "Men are from Mars, Women Are Always Right."
And finally, it turns out that
specialization isnt just a human thing. Thats why theyre in the
process of designing a 6-year-old child dummy, a small woman dummy, a 3-year-old child
dummy, an infant dummy, and a Dan Quayle dummy, which may be redundant but this is, you
remember, a part of the federal government.
So keep all this in mind if youre
talking to your guidance counselor, looking for a new job, going through a mid-life
crisis, or watching Titanic for the 101st time. Generally speaking, a specialty is a good
©1998 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Especially
those that specialize in having good taste.