Archive for Almost Yogurt

Saturday gets a little smaller

You can hear el Chacal de la Trompeta fading in the distance:

After more than 53 years, the popular Univision program Sábado Gigante will end on September 19, the Spanish-language broadcaster announced Friday.

The variety show, which stars Mario Kreutzberger (known on the show as Don Francisco), first launched in 1962 on Chile’s Channel 13 and has routinely been one of the most-watched show among Hispanics.

Which is not to say that Don Francisco, now 74, is retiring or anything:

Kreutzberger will continue contributing to the Univision Network with new projects and by hosting entertainment specials and campaigns such as TeletónUSA, which is held every year on behalf of disabled children. He will also take part in Univision’s ongoing efforts to look for and develop new on-air talent and professionals.

Actually, Kreutzburger’s first variety show of this sort was Gran Show Dominical, on Sundays; after a year or so it moved to Saturday.


Whatever you font

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We are become a perennial herb

Submitting scientific papers now apparently requires a sixteen-digit number:

ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) is a nonproprietary alphanumeric code to uniquely identify scientific and other academic authors. This addresses the problem that a particular author’s contributions to the scientific literature or publications in the humanities can be hard to recognize as most personal names are not unique, they can change (such as with marriage), have cultural differences in name order, contain inconsistent use of first-name abbreviations and employ different writing systems. It provides a persistent identity for humans, similar to that created for content-related entities on digital networks by digital object identifiers (DOIs).

Is ORCID pronounced the way you might think? Wikipedia provides no help, so you’re on your own:

I was at first hearing it in my head as being like “orchid” but when I went back to the site, it was ORC (in one color) ID (in another), which looks more like ORC ID to me, like either the identification of an ORC (“Orcs, this line, prepare to present your I.D. cards”) or the id of an orc, which would be a Very Bad Thing indeed. (Orcs are probably ALL id, doesn’t seem to be a lot of super-ego going on there).

Given the nature of orcs — Tolkien once described them as “squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes” — well, short quasi-people got no reason to live.

Still, having an ORC ID perhaps confers some status, however infinitesimal:

I don’t expect fellow scientists to start shoving me around and going, “Oh, you think you’re a big shot, don’t you, with your ORCID number?”

I dunno. I assume that if they’re in the not unusual publish-or-perish environment, they’ll have their own numbers soon enough.

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Just like yesterday

That’s today, and tomorrow will be much the same, and what’s it to you?

I’m giving up feeling bad that I live in routines. I need routines; they give my life structure and they help me keep the illusion that the world isn’t sometimes a frighteningly random place where you have no control over things. So for me, doing the same thing for breaks, or stuff like food-jags (my standard lunch these days: a cup of plain Greek yogurt, a string cheese, a tangerine, a small thing of applesauce and some kind of a cereal or fruit bar) doesn’t bother me. I don’t always crave novelty. (I’m not QUITE to the point of “Four o’clock, time for Judge Wapner” but I do have my routines I like to stick to and I am open about the fact that I get unhappy when someone decides to mess with my schedule.)

Judge Wapner? Oh, my. You gotta be Rain Man to like this guy.

Still, I have to respect this position, since for the most part it’s my position: I figure, once things start working well, changes in those things I deem counterproductive until proven otherwise. I rotate through about eight basic menu items, though I tend to reset on Saturday, as it’s my grocery-shopping day. And as anyone who has watched my Twitter timeline already knows, I get seriously boxer-knotted if someone who’s supposed to get something to me by time T doesn’t deliver until T plus one day.


Selfie indulgence

“Show business kids, making movies of themselves,” sneered Steely Dan, suggesting that said kids were indifferent to all other considerations. Pertinent observation, or just typical cross-class, and possibly cross-generational, abuse?

When I was a substitute teacher, during a poetry lesson, I read aloud “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou and asked the classes what they thought. Five classes of kids, and four of them would only talk about how cocky and full of herself the author was. They talked about her with disdain, sometimes outright shock. How dare she?

However, one class loved the poem. The kids in that class loved how she owned every wonderful aspect of herself, in spite of what society deems appropriate. They called her a “badass”, and asked me to read the poem again.

Incidentally, this class was also the so-called “remedial” class. It was full of kids who lived outside the box, who spent the majority of their time bombarded by low expectations. Those kids understood exactly what Maya Angelou was talking about.

We live in a world that actively PUNISHES confidence. We’re not allowed to think we’re attractive. We’re not allowed to agree with compliments. I have spent so much of my life minimizing my intelligence, my looks, and my accomplishments; because I was socialized to believe that owning your beauty, your intelligence, your hard won success, equals being “cocky” or “full of yourself”.

Now I’m not the one to argue against humility; I have much to be humble about. But if all you ever do is hide your light under a bushel, eventually something’s going to catch fire, and not in a good way either.

So I don’t sneer at selfies qua selfies; after all, they’re not being done to get attention from the likes of me. And besides:

I see people posting selfies all the time, and I never think they are being shallow or are too full of themselves. I think “That must be nice. To feel so good about yourself in that moment that you freeze it for all eternity and post it for the whole world to see.”

I’m sick and goddamned tired of living in a world where we are forced to minimize ourselves for the comfort of others. Where we have to actively neg ourselves so no one will feel threatened by our worth.

Incidentally, “Phenomenal Woman” dates back to 1978, but its descendants are everywhere. The opening lines:

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.

Not so different, really, from these:

Yeah it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
All the right junk in all the right places

The true narcissist is not just a person who takes a selfie; it’s the person who takes a selfie because it matters to him and therefore it should matter to you.


Support your local pony fan

Now here’s a perfectly reasonable question:

I can imagine a Brony scholarship … where maybe I get to give scholarships to the people who drew the cutest fanart or made the fan-drawn comic that made me laugh the hardest. Darn it, why isn’t that a thing?

Well, of course you can make it a thing. But you won’t be the first:

The Brony Thank You Fund is now raising funds to start a permanent animation scholarship to Calarts, the school where such people as Lauren Faust, Craig McCracken, and Tim Burton got their start, among many, many others.

It took a little over a year, but it happened:

Pony makes things happen.

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Truth in variety

Not approved by the Staff of Sameness:

[T]ry to remember that 99 percent of the people around you are just people trying to get by. They are like you: all the colors of dirt, from pale dry dust to red clay to dark loam and everything in between. They are gay and straight and not-all-that-interested, religious or atheistic or doubting; they are happy and sad, angry and calm, often opinionated; they are clever and dull, amusing or scary or pitiable. Each one of them has got the same one vote you do and there are no prizes to be won in this life or any other by treating any of them badly.

If all your friends think exactly the way you do, you’re due for some new friends, as Starlight Glimmer has not learned.


Be sure to show your lack of work

Joseph Brean writes in the National Post:

Psychologists have a quip about IQ tests — the only thing they measure is your ability to do IQ tests. They are not, as they purport to be, an objective measure of intelligence, like the air temperature of a room. Rather, they are variable, and vulnerable to luck and circumstance, like the score of a hockey game.

Exams are the same. They are cruel in their way, in their pose as objective measures of a student’s worth.

If hockey were so dependent on luck and circumstance, surely the Maple Leafs would be better than 29-43-7, and a dismal 8-27-5 on the road.

But that’s not really the point. This is:

We show what we know when we can remember information when prompted. Writing essays and doing projects display communication skills and an understanding of concepts, but, without committing the content to memory, I’m not convinced we can say we’ve learned it. If you can’t tell me anything about WWI — when it happened, who was involved, worldwide implications… — without looking at your notes, then you don’t know anything about it. Then when you watch Downton Abbey, and a date flashes on the screen, “June 1914,” you have to look it up to grasp the significance. It’s useful to know things, and it’s useful to our society if everyone has a common knowledge of basic facts about history, geography, multiplication tables, the carbon cycle … Without a display of memory, we can’t assess learning. And a good test or exam can be a clear indicator of knowledge.

So why not just have tests without a final exam? The nice thing about exams is that kids do them. They don’t whine or try to bargain or chat or even think of taking out their phones during exams. Because exams are held up to a higher standard, and the whole school stops for a week for them to happen, and the kids only get one kick at the cat, students take exams more seriously than tests. I’ve had in-class tests with a third of the class AWOL then had to spend days tracking them and getting them to write a make-up. I once had a student take a make-up test home for three days to write it, and I was instructed that I had to count it because he showed he knew the content — ignoring the obvious fact that he had ample opportunity to Google the material. For exams, they all show up and do the work. Period.

Okay, sometimes they all show up and do the work.

Furthermore, while one should certainly be concerned with a student’s worth, I’d argue that one should be substantially less concerned with the student’s perception of her worth. There are those who think it’s the instructor’s job to cover the class with a shiny veneer of self-esteem, the way one might spritz PAM on a saucepan. Yes, exams are stressful. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be worth bothering with.

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Forward to the weakened

The life of a supermarket checker is not always a happy one, and while some grocery operations frown on this sort of thing, I’d much rather go someplace where the store staff don’t appear to be Animatronic.

Saturday I was doing my usual weekly run, and in between whisking things from conveyor belt to bags, checker (curvy black girl) and sacker (skinny white dude) were cracking wise on the misery of their lifestyles, albeit with just enough grin to remind themselves, if not necessarily the baffled customers, that this is done as a rhetorical exercise, not as a cry for help. At some point, they apparently lost track of what day it was — was it Friday? Saturday? Those of us in regular nine-to-five jobs don’t even have to think about such things.

Finally, they decided it was in fact Saturday, and I piped up: “And Sunday comes afterwards.”

The checker, who couldn’t have been much more than nineteen, gave me an “I can’t believe you actually said that” look, but she was smiling just the same.

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Not that I care

Who didn’t see this coming?

Apathy discussion marked by lack of interest

(Another joyous clipping from Bad Newspaper, found, from the looks of it, in the OU student paper. Oh, and that should be “fewer than 15 people.”)

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Creativity awakened the wrong way

Sir Ken Robinson, a couple of years ago, boiled down to a single paragraph:

Robinson has suggested that to engage and succeed, education has to develop on three fronts. First, that it should foster diversity by offering a broad curriculum and encourage individualisation of the learning process; secondly, it should foster curiosity through creative teaching, which depends on high quality teacher training and development; and finally, it should focus on awakening creativity through alternative didactic processes that put less emphasis on standardised testing, thereby giving the responsibility for defining the course of education to individual schools and teachers. He believes that much of the present education system in the United States fosters conformity, compliance and standardisation rather than creative approaches to learning. Robinson emphasises that we can only succeed if we recognise that education is an organic system, not a mechanical one. Successful school administration is a matter of fostering a helpful climate rather than “command and control.”

And presumably it would help if the youngsters got enough sleep. Sir Ken Robinson, last night:

The powers that be were profusely apologetic.

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Mayo presumably to be held

Because standing in the parking lot and taking a deep breath just isn’t enough:

For hamburger aficionados who can’t get enough of it, Burger King has an answer: a grilled burger-scented fragrance.

Burger King said Friday that the limited “Whopper” grilled beef burger-scented cologne will be sold only one day on April 1, and only in Japan.

And no, the date is not the joke. The King is serious enough about this to ask 5000 yen (forty bucks) for the bottle — with purchase of an actual Whopper.

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Goodness, me

There might be as many ways to answer this question as there are possible answerers:

Are you good at what you do? I’m pleased to hear it, but allow me to ask a question: How do you know?

Lots of possibilities there, as you can see.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you were to become determined to find out exactly how good you are at your trade. What metric would apply? Can you think of an absolute standard against which to measure yourself? I can’t. Among other things, most human qualities are immensurate. They simply can’t be expressed in numbers, and as Robert A. Heinlein has told us, if it cannot be expressed in figures, it’s merely someone’s opinion.

That throws us back to relative measures: “how good you are” as a ranking against others who do the same thing. How would you go about determining that?

About the only metric I have to go by is deadlines, of which I have an abundance. I’ve missed a few over the last quarter-century, but at most two were due to something I did, or to something I didn’t. (Being in the middle of the pipeline is hazardous to one’s sense of well-being.) How this compares to the competition is unclear, since there’s so little of it and no one has time for proper corporate espionage these days, but nothing I hear in industry scuttlebutt suggests to me that anyone is doing any better than I do. Then again, this is merely an opinion, and frankly I’m not one to think myself all that and a bag of organic sun-dried chips.

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It wasn’t part of the plan

The IMDb page for actor Gregory Walcott lists over a hundred credits, but there’s only one everyone seems to remember: Jeff Trent, the pilot in Plan 9 from Outer Space, the glorious mess created by Edward D. Wood, Jr. Even Walcott’s Wikipedia page has a picture of him as Jeff Trent.

From The Hollywood Reporter’s article on Walcott’s death last Friday at eighty-seven:

“I read the script, and it was gibberish. It made no sense, but I saw Ed Reynolds [J. Edward Reynolds, nominal head of the production company] as a naive, sweet man. I had done some pretty good things prior to that, so I thought I had a little credibility in Hollywood. I thought maybe my name would give the show some credibility… The film was made surreptitiously. My agent didn’t even know I did it.”

For years, Walcott sought to distance himself from Plan 9. But eventually he came to terms with Jeff Trent: he appeared in a brief role in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, playing a character not unlike Ed Reynolds. And he later conceded: “It’s better to be remembered for something than for nothing, don’t you think?”

Besides, as we learned from Mystery Science Theater 3000, there are plenty of films out there that made Plan 9 look like Citizen Kane.


Quote of the week

The next bozo who goes on some ranty rant about “cultural authenticity” has earned a bitchslap from Jack Baruth:

Peter Green was a white Englishman who heard the Chicago blues on pirate radio and wanted to imitate it. Robert Cray grew up in a middle-class household and was performing for a living before he turned twenty. Even Albert King, who picked cotton on a plantation in his teens and then drove a bulldozer, was firmly into the pro-musician groove by his early twenties and could afford a Gibson Flying V. None of these guys ever shot anybody or went to prison or got poisoned by a woman or worked on a chain gang or plumbed the depths of human sorrow before they started making records. They didn’t live the blues — they played the blues.

Muddy Waters reportedly told Little Walter, “We don’t live the blues, we play it.” Miles Davis said something similar to his bandmates. I repeat: The best musicians to ever play the blues didn’t live the blues. You think that’s unique to the blues? Ask Dr. Dre how much crime he’s actually done in his life, how many people he’s shot. Rick Ross was a correctional officer, not a gangster. Ice-T was a gang member once — but he’s spent a much larger portion of his life playing a cop on television. Axl Rose wasn’t born in Los Angeles. Robert Plant wasn’t actually a character in a Tolkien book. Barry Manilow wrote a lot of songs but “I Write The Songs” wasn’t one of them.

Musicians are performers, assuming a character for the purpose of performing music. If you want authenticity in your life, you’d better look somewhere else besides music, maybe “upcycling” or “curating” or something like that.

And if you ever hear me claim this five-million-plus-word unauthorized autobiography to have been “curated,” you can slap me.

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Gleaming, sinuous curvature

There are, admittedly, stories hung on flimsier premises than this:

Christie Aackerlund doesn’t need help with anything. So when the world’s biggest technology company offers to fly her to a remote location and investigate an alien artifact, all by herself, she’s all like “I’ll do it!” But the artifact isn’t what it seems, and soon an overly helpful giant living paperclip is getting her all bent out of shape.

Yes, children, it’s smutty Clippy fanfic, and it’s a mere $2.99 for your hungry, gasping Kindle. Author Leonard Delaney has also written Taken by the Tetris Blocks.

(Via Daily Pundit.)


Models of consistency

And the formula never failed them:

Although Bill Lava’s latter-day music was arguably not quite as inspired as Carl Stalling’s or Milt Franklyn’s. Still, that’s not a script problem.


Call it negative feedback

Earlier this year, reasoning that saving a single sheet per copy per week would save several million sheets of newsprint over a twelve-month period, the Oklahoman cut the Sunday comic section from six pages to four, shrinking the strips to fit. The reaction was decidedly unfavorable, and this past weekend the six-page section was reinstated.

Then again, there’s “decidedly unfavorable,” and there’s this complaint to an Indiana daily:

An 8-year-old boy named Mac got on the phone Sunday and complained to Bloomington (IN) Herald-Times editor Bob Zaltsberg about some of his favorite comics no longer appearing in the paper.

“OK, I want back these comics now,” the boy demanded. His list included Peanuts, Dilbert, Nancy, Garfield, For Better or For Worse, Ziggy, and others.

“I’ll give you all my money” if the comics are returned to the paper, the boy said before ending his call by blasting the “idiots, jerks, [and] shitholes” at the paper.

This wasn’t a newsprint-volume issue, though; in this case, the paper actually lost those strips, and a few others, when they couldn’t negotiate a lower rate from the syndicator.

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Days of antiquity

Definite +1 to this declaration:

I know this isn’t an official definition but I have a strong feeling that anything made in my lifetime cannot be an antique and anything made since I have been an adult cannot be vintage and that last is a bit of an emotional compromise because I really feel that anything made since I was about 10 cannot be vintage.

I’m willing to extend “vintage” up to my 16th birthday, but no farther.

What prompted this, you ask?

A couple of days ago I joined an antique sewing machines group on Facebook. (Oooo, big surprise, right?) It appears that some members were recently up in arms because someone had posted a picture of a sewing machine from the 1980s. The 1980s? Really? Well, you can bet that if I had been there I would have been in the group wielding torches and pitchforks.

Contemporary torches and pitchforks, I’ll wager.

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Second thoughts

There are times when it seems that national patience is at an all-time low:

[S]omething has happened to us as a society since about the end of the 1970s. We’ve lost track of time.

Arriving at a party plus or minus 30 minutes was typical. When you took some photos, it then took a few days to have them processed and get the prints back. Waits of 25-35 minutes between ordering your meal at a restaurant and the arrival of the entree were considered normal. Just the very idea of “waiting” was okay — it wasn’t a big deal. Time was divided into blocks of 30 minutes; it was rare to have to narrow things down to 15 minutes. To put it simply — life was slower, more relaxed, and less clock-driven.

Now, with computers, cell phones, iPads, and their ilk, we have instantaneous communication. And we time things in MINUTES. Not half-hours, quarter-hours — our days seem to get eaten up as fast as we can live them, with nary a spare few moments to catch our breath.

“But what about productivity?” they ask. Tell me why it’s worth my time, my health, my life, to live on your cockamamie schedule.

There are darned few things that can’t be put off for a few hours, or even a few days.

Tell that to the manager whose entire self-image is based on wishful thinking masquerading as scheduling. Surely you know one, or more.

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O R’lyeh?

The correct pronunciation of “Cthulhu,” from H. P. Lovecraft himself:

I referred to this story one day, pronouncing the strange word as though it were spelled K-Thool-Hoo. Lovecraft looked blank for an instant, then corrected me firmly, informing me that the word was pronounced, as nearly as I can put it down in print, K-Lütl-Lütl.

Why? Because reasons. (Read the whole thing.)

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Stash management

Laura of Fetch My Flying Monkeys has been posting crafts-related stuff on Facebook, and I figure I have several readers who can relate to this item:

You promised you wouldn't buy anymore fabric

Spies lurk everywhere, I tell you.

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Quote of the week

Roberta X, on the debased condition of our politics, and by extension our culture:

[W]e live in a bumper-sticker kind of world, where Twitter’s 140-character limit about matches the typical attention span. Buckley, Vidal and Mencken are all dead and buried deep and the latter’s “boobocracy” is in the driver’s seat, encouraged by as rotten a pack of politicians as we’ve ever had — no worse than the worst, but certainly not a patch on the best.

The Right have become modern-day Know-Nothings (and even the Left has learned to drop final g’s when hectoring the unwashed); the Left encourages a culture of smug superiority, especially among the average (and the Right emulates it with a wink and a chortle), with a resulting downward pressure on the intellect of the body politic: Sure, both sides say, we’re Average Folks, but we’re way smarter than those crooks and fools who support the other party. Next thing you know, we’re all extras in Idiocracy. (I’m not talking about who does or doesn’t have a college degree — you can walk out with a Ph.D. and still be an ignorant lout about anything outside your specialty.)

By under-estimating themselves and way underestimating the other guy, by measuring “smart” and “savvy” in terms of buzzwords and unexamined bullshit, The People generally act dumber than they are — and our “Leaders,” who were supposed to be high-minded public servants, have become rulers, laughing behind closed doors at the milling pack of rubes who comprise the electorate. It ain’t no way to run a railroad, let alone a nation of people who were supposed to be largely left alone, neither run nor railroaded unless they violated the peace.

Then again, The People, or some substantial fraction thereof, voted for those “Leaders”; they can’t foist off all the blame on Washington and the state capitals. As Mencken put it, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Of course, this nation was never intended to be a democracy; but once again, The People dropped the ball.



Lynn offers up some truth about lies:

Most of us know the difference between a truly bad lie and a merely kind or courteous lie. In between these are “lies of convenience” (I was stuck in traffic. The check is in the mail.) that we know are wrong but that somehow don’t seem so bad. There are, of course, people who push the limits, people who tell lies in order to sell us stuff, to sway us to their cause, or to get elected. We must expose and punish liars but this leads to finger pointing, witch hunts, and better, more careful liars. What more can anyone say? We are an imperfect species. Trying to get rid of our imperfections is like killing bacteria. The strongest bacteria survive and multiply but we can’t stop trying or the bacteria will wipe us out.

Yea, verily. The major advantage of telling the truth, of course, is that you don’t have to worry about keeping your story straight. And in this era of (anti)social media, there are always people to remind you what you said the first time.

Additional truth: There exists a game called “Fibbage,” from the makers of “You Don’t Know Jack.”

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Fifty grains of salt

Violet Blue tells you the things that Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t:

It’s not a BDSM novel. It’s “The Ultimate Guide” to revoking all the hard work sex-positive sex educators have done over the past 30 years to create a culture of informed consent around kink and keep people from sticking household objects up their asses. It’s not a romance. It’s a book about a rapey douchebag with borderline personality disorder who obsesses over an invertebrate whose insecurity should win her a Darwin Award. Instead of reading Fetish Sex, people are reading 50 Shades and sticking dangerous things up their butts. Instead of a sexy, relevant, redeeming film version of the book directed by Erika Lust or Anna at FrolicMe, we got another reminder that Hollywood and the mass book market for sexual content hasn’t quite grasped this whole internet fad.

Rather a lot of those links should be considered NSFW.

(Via Nudiarist.)



When I was in school, back in the Old Silurian times, they hadn’t come up with the term “Public Display of Affection,” probably because we wouldn’t dare do such things in class. I remember the siblings discussing it, so it apparently filtered in during the 1970s. Truth be told, I’m not sure if my own negative reaction to the concept is based on some sort of devotion to order — or on sour grapes, inasmuch as I was never in a position to engage in such a thing myself.

Aw, heck, let’s put it as flatly as possible:

I’m not the prudiest prude who ever pruded, but seriously, it’s GROSS to be trying to teach and out of the corner of your eye see two people practically feeling each other up.

Especially two people who, if pressed, will argue that they’re actual adults despite their teenage-crush mutual fondle session.

And while I’ve seen “prude” turned into an adjective before, this is the first time I can remember seeing it verbed.

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Either oar

Apocryphal picture of Shit CreekThe paddle dealer portrayed here is probably enhanced by Photoshop — what isn’t these days? — but there is, in fact, a television series called Schitt’s Creek:

The series stars Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara as Johnny and Moira Rose, a wealthy couple who are forced, after losing all their money, to rebuild their lives in their only remaining asset: the small town of Schitt’s Creek, which they once purchased as a joke.

Even more à propos, Chris Elliott is in this show, playing a descendant of the original Schitts.

And apparently the phrase “shit creek” is old enough to have this sort of history, as Nancy Friedman reports:

Shit creek or shit’s creek (“an unpleasant situation or awkward predicament”) is no shitty-come-lately, according to the OED. “Up shit creek” first appeared in print in 1868 in no less august a publication than the Annual Reports of the (U.S.) Secretary of War: “Our men put old Lincoln up Shit creek, and we’ll put old Dill up.”

Who knew? But this is the part that gets me. From that Wikipedia piece:

Schitt’s Creek is a Canadian television sitcom which premiered on CBC Television on January 13, 2015… On January 12, 2015, CBC renewed the show for a second season.

Renewed the day before first airing! Now that’s confidence. (In the States, Schitt’s Creek debuted Tuesday on Pop, which used to be TVGN.)

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You’re on your own

Rather a lot of us live alone, not that there’s anything wrong with that:

Mic just gathered some scientific research that claims living alone boosts your social skills, chills out your overactive brain, and forces you to get in touch with yourself.

Yeah, I can see some of that:

Spending time by yourself helps you value time with friends. And the time you spend with other people is all by choice, not forced.

You’re becoming the chillest person that ever was: When you live with roommates or a significant other, there’s always some sort of clamor: your roommate’s Spotify playlist, your other roommate vacuuming his bedroom for the third time this week. Not so when you’re alone. (Well, assuming your apartment is blessed with thick walls.)

Which is why I live in the middle of a largish lot and share walls with no one.

Still, this poses some additional challenges:

It’s a weird thing, not having someone double-check that you’re legally prepared for the outside world. That is on you, when you live alone. Of course, you’re probably not going to forget to wear clothes, but the thought that you could tends to cross your mind for a second. Because, technically, you could walk out of the house wearing nothing but a headband, sipping a cup of coffee, and nobody would say anything until you left the house. It’s like a childhood nightmare come true.

Two words: car keys. Fumbling around for them will make me excruciatingly aware of my condition.

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Make mine drab

Hey, somebody has to keep this place from falling apart:

Sometimes I wish I were the creative one. Or the good singer. Or the athlete. Or more comfortable taking risks. Or something else. I don’t know why. I know that it’s valuable to be able to count on someone to get stuff done, and that there are a lot of people who aren’t reliable … but it’s kind of an awful thing to be known for, I think. If we’re talking Hollywood stereotypes, instead of the “fun dame” or the “manic pixie dream girl,” I’m the spinster schoolmarm who disapproves of everything.

Considering how much in everyday life deserves disapproval, I don’t see this as being so terrible.

And how many times has that “fun dame” been passed over to the next guy, and the next, and the next? Probably more often than we’d want to imagine.

I close with a quote from one of the most quotable people I know: myself.

Be wary of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The most immediate effect of being swept off your feet is losing your equilibrium.

Some of us would just as soon not lose ourselves in the moment.

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Not that we’re busy or anything

News Item: Gov. Scott Walker said the University of Wisconsin could ask its faculty to teach more classes and do more work to offset funding cuts in Walker’s state budget proposal.

Why this will not go over well with the faculty, from Professor James Hanley, who does not teach in the UW system:

My department completed our program review document last week. On Tuesday I spent most of the day just writing the one page executive summary. (Have you ever tried summarizing a 100 page document in one page, while emphasizing your own tremendous awesomeness and how any imperfections could be solved easily if somebody outside your department would do the right thing while not offending that person who could do that right thing by making it sound like it’s their fault?) On Friday I spent 5 hours reviewing and editing the final draft. And today, Sunday, I am working on a new assignment for my American Government class that will require them to work with real data, which requires long pauses in writing while I think about how to make the directions clear to non-data oriented students.

There are, of course, worse ways to make a living:

This is not to say “pity us poor college profs.” It’s not a bad gig. I worked a lot harder, at much greater personal risk, and for much less pay as a bike messenger. One of my own profs had previously worked at a nitroglycerine factory, until the old guys there — who all had occupational-induced emphysema — told him to get out and go to college so he didn’t end up like them. It’s just to say that the job takes time; that classroom hours are not synonymous with workload; and that Walker can only get what he wants by damaging the impressive reputation of UW-Madison and thereby diminishing the reputation of the state as a whole.

As is often the case with politicians, Governor Walker got this idea into his head, and just having that idea proved to be so invigorating that worrying about things like mere consequences got pushed to the side.

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