More Costumes

And this is your favorite blogger . . . Carl offering a masculine glare and trying to hide his chest.

You wanted photos? Now don’t complain.

Halloween Costumes

We are invited to a Halloween party today. N decided to dress as a woman because this allows him to wear my long blue skirt and my pink hat that he adores. And I, of course, had to dress like a man.

Here is N in his costume. Cool, eh? These are also the cheapest costumes ever because we are wearing each other clothes. Now I just have to figure out how to prevent the tie from going into food and drink.

What I’m noticing is that he looks so much prettier than I do. Male clothes are kind of boring. There is an obvious gender imbalance here.

Two Sides of Autism

Today, I had to record an audio of a lecture for my students. For ten minutes, I struggled with the microphone because I had no idea how to put it on. I used a mirror, I turned it every which way, I stared at it, trying to understand how it worked. Nothing helped. Finally, I had to ask N. to come and put the earphone with the mike on me.

Here is the microphone I struggled with

N. found my struggle with the mike impossible to understand. He thought I was kidding when I said I couldn’t figure out how it worked. For me, however it was truly a daunting task. Now that I have taken it off, I still have absolutely no idea how to put it back on.

However, I then managed to record my lecture from beginning to end, using no notes or memory aides, never stopping or pausing (except where the context required it, of course). I wanted it to be about 30 minutes long and it ended up being 33 minutes long, so no editing will be needed. It came out exactly as I wanted, and the effort that went into it was minimal.

This is how autism works, people. A task that involves a minimal degree of manual dexterity and a basic understanding of left and right is impossible for me to carry out. At the same time, a much more complex intellectual task is effortless.

Babies, Bathtubs, and Essay Submissions

Every new generation of young parents in my country had to participate in the ideological battle of whether to place a napkin in the bathtub while bathing the baby.

“Why do we need to do that?” new Moms and Dads moaned. “It’s messy, it’s annoying, and it makes absolutely no sense at all.”

“You have to do that!” Grandmas and Great-Grandmas responded. “I always did it, and so did my mother, and her mother. Everybody places a napkin at the bottom of the tub when bathing a baby, so you should do, too.”

The reason behind the napkin tradition is actually very simple. In the XIXth century, children in the country-side were bathed in wooden bathtubs. Those tubs were of low quality, and babies ran the risk of getting splinters into their backsides if no napkin was placed at the bottom of the tub. When the tubs made of metal and later of plastic appeared, people still retained the old tradition, even though it had no practical value any more.

I’ve had my own version of the bathtub fallacy. I’ve never allowed my students to submit their essays by email. I persecuted them with repetitive enjoinders never ever to submit anything to me by email. These enjoinders were delivered in a voice that made email submissions sound like some sort of a crime against humanity.

And you know why I did it? Because as an undergrad and then a grad student I had professors who flatly refused to accept email submissions. So I just imitated them unthinkingly without stopping to consider why I was doing it.

Then, I read on Jonathan’s blog that he accepts email submissions of student essays. Jonathan is an important role model for me, so I decided to conduct an experiment that would allow me to figure out whether I genuinely preferred paper submissions to email ones.

This week, students in both of my courses submitted their essays by email. And you know what? I loved it. This cut the weary work of essay grading at least in half. I can write very long comments, which is important to me because I work hard to improve the way my students write. I didn’t have to try to fit my comments on the small paper margins any more. Also, I think students are now more likely to read my comments because they don’t need to decipher my imperfect handwriting. And, of course, I type faster than I write.

Finally, I have been able to realize that there is no actual need for the napkin in this metaphorical bathtub. Thank you, Jonathan!

A Short Illustrated History of Clarissa’s Blog, Part IV

Hilarious conversations with an OB-GYN.

Why the commenters on my blog are much much much better than the commenters many other bloggers get.

Students exhibit gender bias while doing a grammar exercise.

Whining as a way of life for academics.

And this is a humorous post on the hypocrisy of the liberal treatment of Israel.

On my search for intelligent conservatives. Of course, now that my blog is popular, I’ve had some intelligent conservatives come over here and comment of their own free will. At that stage, however, I was searching for them desperately and not finding them.

And this is when I first discovered the insane Babygate conspiracy theorists who investigate Sarah Palin’s reproductive processes. Some of the conspiracy theorists joined the discussion and left some pretty wackazoo comments.

Here I reminisce about my very first day as a student at a North American university and make fun of the silly preconceived notions I had brought with me from Ukraine.

This is a very good post about the reasons why people enjoy to engage in conjuring doom-and-gloom scenarios that, sadly, went unnoticed at the time it was written.

As a hopeless old fogey, I was shocked to see what my students had to say about money. Bible Belt, huh? You don’t say.

Why do people try so hard to get me to meet Ukrainians?

After I wrote this highly personal and extremely cathartic post, I was immediately ridiculed by some idiot for writing “confessional tear-jerking crap.” Still, I enjoyed the experience and continued writing in a more personal way after that.

P.S. Everybody who feels like leaving comments on the old threads is welcome to do so.