Dr. Know: October 2014

Every Skyline Chili I’ve ever visited has a display of York Peppermint Patties at the cash register. It seems impossible to leave without buying a few. How many of those things do they sell? Like, per month, per year?—It’s Pattie Time

Dear Pattie:
You have stumbled upon an aggressively suppressed secret. Ever-higher walls of resistance rose as the answer to this seemingly innocent question was sought. Skyline Chili representatives remained courteous, but after several days were “unable to provide” any data, as if all those patties just party and reproduce overnight, à la Night at the Museum. Only the chili’s recipe seems more closely held.

Direct action was required. Several dispersed Skyline locations were visited undercover; the magazine would have denied knowledge had the Doctor been captured or killed. As 15 cents were gently laid upon the counter and the Big Question casually asked so as not to arouse suspicion, the responses were consistent: “A lot!” Loose lips revealed estimates of one to two, others confessed three to four boxes of 175 patties being sold per day. Progress! Back at the lab and under heavy security, numbers were crunched. Averaging two boxes per day times 84 Skyline locations in Greater Cincinnati (locations exist elsewhere, but we assume our readers to be stereotypically provincial), an admittedly rough estimate was reached of 29,400 YPD (Yorks Per Day). That’s 882,000 patties per 30-day month and 10,731,000 per year.

Perhaps your question has unwittingly exposed Skyline’s chili to be merely the razor, and the patties the more-profitable blades of this operation. Don’t worry; your real name will never be revealed.

After the botched Obamacare website rollout, Kathleen Sebelius resigned and then disappeared. Here in her home town, where we went to school with her at Summit Country Day and saw her dad, John Gilligan, become Ohio’s Governor, she’s still in our thoughts. What’s she up to now? It’s not like her to just sit around. —Old Classmate

Dear Old:
Your concern shows considerable empathy, but please allow the Doctor to answer with dispassionate, scientific jargon.

Ms. Sebelius has fallen victim to the dreaded Schott-Rose-Springer Syndrome, wherein a Cincinnatian rises to fame and admiration, then overnight becomes damaged goods. Near-invisibility is but the current phase of her journey through the Four Stages of Political Toxicity and Recovery.

Stage 1: The worse things get and the more pressure builds for the president to fire you, the more he can’t. This is known as The Rumsfeld Effect. It extended Ms. Sebelius’s employment for six months after the launch of America’s Funniest Home Website. Stage 2: You eventually resign for a transparently lame reason, which the president “regretfully” accepts. Stage 3: Any public appearances must be rare and unrelated to your career (such as Sebelius showing up at the Aspen Ideas Festival in June, where she did allow that she “made some mistakes”). Stage 4: You are reincarnated, either as an overpaid cable news commenter, overpaid speech-giver, or best of all, overpaid consultant for the very activity at which you failed most spectacularly. Future is buffering, please wait…

Every water-sewer bill I get is higher than the last. I know that Cincinnati’s sewer system desperately needs these gazillion-dollar upgrades to avoid being the next Toledo, but sewer jokes aside, what’s the deal? When will my bill stop overflowing?
—Runoff at the Mouth Of Mill Creek

Dear Mouth:
The original sin of most American sewer systems was in permitting rain water and human-waste water to slosh through the same pipes. That sin, however, wasn’t original enough for Cincinnati, so they also permitted City and County dollars to slosh through the same pockets.

Yes, Hamilton County owns and funds our sewers, but the City Of Cincinnati manages them. This arranged marriage has resulted in government à la The Honeymooners, and verily, our streets runneth over. The federal government has ordered the squabbling couple to shut up and clean up, so now either the entire city must stay at a Motel 6 while the sewer system is redone from scratch, or we have to revise what we’ve got, piece by piece. That’s what is underway now, and it’s far from complete.

To summarize and simplify, our problems are twofold: 1) the collision of storm water with waste water during periods of heavy rain, and 2) the collision of Hamilton County with the City of Cincinnati during periods of all the time.

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