Treats for trout: Getting ready for the ones that will get away

With less than a week to the opening of Maryland's put-and-take trout season, you can bet grown men everywhere are busy rolling Velveeta balls and stocking up on Niblets brand corn. Those are the baits of choice, tested and proven season after season, the ingredients to a bait-dunker's success. (And they make an excellent stream-side fondue when the fish don't bite.)

Social worker on 'ER'?


The hottest show on television this year has been NBC's "ER." I know a lot of women who love it -- or at least George Clooney, who plays the hunk pediatrician -- despite all the blood and guts. Personally, I prefer laughs in prime time. (When the guy showed up in "ER" with the meat hook in his chest, I went to bed.) Apparently, a lot of people who work in hospitals take a keen interest in the show and often engage in next-day analysis. I've heard nurses comparing notes on how their fictional counterparts are portrayed. I hear doctors yap about the show, too. And social workers -- anybody seen the social workers?

"The lack of access to a social worker is not accurate," Debbie Jones, director of social work at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, wrote the program's producers. "On several shows, there have been degrading comments about this profession. . . . There have also been times that the show has insinuated that the problem is with the social workers' inability, such as not responding to a situation or not being able to 'cure' the social issue, rather than a problem with the systems in the community. It seems that great research has been done [on] the roles of several disciplines within a hospital, with the exception of social work. . . .Social workers do not have 'magic wands,' but they do have access to many resources beyond what most nurses, physicians, residents or medical students have the time or training to consider or arrange." Jones listed the many services social workers provide, then suggested "ER" cast someone in such a role for next season. I'm for that -- as long as she has babeness to match Clooney's hunkness. Maybe I'll start watching again.


Those crowns are king-sized

Dolly, the 17-year-old African elephant at the Baltimore Zoo, is getting outfitted with crowns -- for her tusks. Dr. Barry Jurist, the endodontist who has been treating zoo animals for the last 17 years, says it's a first in his experience. Dolly had been shearing off pieces of tusk. To keep the damage from spreading, Jurist called in Dr. Michael Linnan, a specialist who made impressions last Thursday while Dolly relaxed and munched apples and carrots. The crowns, which will be about eight inches around and about three inches long, should be ready in another week or so.

Of charity and chairs

Allow me to introduce Cereal Mom. That's what I call her because, with two boys, she's all the time running out to buy Apple Jacks and Rice Krispies. She's 30-something, lives near Wyman Park, shops at the Rotunda Giant, races around in an Isuzu Trooper, volunteers at her boys' school, recycles, grows herbs in her back yard and, when she can get a sitter, likes to go to Blob's Park to polka with her honey. Cereal Mom all the time calls me with stuff:

"Here's something nice: I pulled in front of the Giant with the kids in the Trooper, and a lady waiting for her daughter jumped out of her car and helped me load the groceries! . . . Something else, kind of strange: I saw a leather swivel chair -- nice chair, too -- sitting alone and empty on one side of Linkwood Road, near Cold Spring Lane. Then, like a half-hour later, the same chair, alone and empty, was sitting on the other side of Linkwood Road. What do you think of that?" I think a Loyola College student picked it up, thought about taking it to his dormitory and started walking across the street when he was suddenly zapped by an alien mother ship and taken to the planet Zog.

Preferential treatment

I love the well-to-do white man, who has enjoyed a life of privilege -- boyhood on some valley manse, prep schools, riding lessons, Ivy League, Gibson Island, inheritance from grandfather, regattas and country clubs, professional career based on hail-fellow handshakes -- complaining about affirmative action.

Where and when, revisited


Frieda Hermann, our Hamilton correspondent, says I blew a couple of details about her big night out last week on the eve of bulk trash pickup day. First of all, Walther Avenue -- not Walther Boulevard -- was where she met that guy who gave her a hand carting off somebody's kitchen cabinet. (This is not the first time I've made the error; I suffer a mental block about Walther and keep thinking it's a boulevard, not a mere avenue. "That's because it has a median strip and lots of trees," says Frieda. "Lots of people call it Walther Boulevard.") One other thing: The night Frieda described was last Tuesday, not Wednesday, as I reported. "Get it straight, hon," she says, and I'm not making that

up. Frieda uses the "H" word a lot.

This one's no sweat

Here's the kind of 5K I can get psyched about running. The Liberty Road Recreation and Parks Council is staging a Phantom 5K on April Fool's Day. You register for $15 and take home a T-shirt and "a certificate of participation" you can show off to friends. Starting time? Don't sweat it. There's no race. Proceeds go toward a summer concert series and tot lot. No pain, no gain? Who says?