Our Room in Punta Cana

I love hotels to the point of obsession, so it is crucial to me that a room where I stay is beautiful, spacious and clean. Our room in Punta Cana was all those things.

But that’s not all. There was also a jacuzzi bathtub:

To avoid annoying those who hate photos of resort vacations, I placed more photos under the fold. Remember, folks, this is all to honor the wishes of a good mother-in-law, and how many of those have you met in your life? It’s easier to find a dinosaur than one of these rare creatures.

Continue reading “Our Room in Punta Cana”

Humor from David Brooks

David Brooks wrote a really hilarious mock biography of Mitt Romney. It’s seriously  funny, folks. Here is just a small excerpt:

Romney was a precocious and gifted child. He uttered his first words (“I like to fire people”) at age 14 months, made his first gaffe at 15 months and purchased his first nursery school at 24 months. The school, highly leveraged, went under, but Romney made 24 million Jujubes on the deal.

Mitt grew up in a modest family. His father had an auto body shop called the American Motors Corporation, and his mother owned a small piece of land, Brazil. He had several boyhood friends, many of whom owned Nascar franchises, and excelled at school, where his fourth-grade project, “Inspiring Actuaries I Have Known,” was widely admired.

The Romneys had a special family tradition. The most cherished member got to spend road trips on the roof of the car. Mitt spent many happy hours up there, applying face lotion to combat windburn.

Now head over to the article and read it in full. Reminder: this is humor, ha ha, turn your frown, etc. Please don’t leave any comments outlining how Romney didn’t buy any nursery schools.


This is not the same table runner, of course, but it looks similar enough to the one in the story

My first mother-in-law was an. . . erm. . . very complicated person. Oh, to hell with reticence. She was horrible. In all the years I was unfortunate to know her, she never managed to open her mouth without saying something excruciatingly mean. She was also cheap to the point of ridiculousness. Let me tell you just one story about her to help you understand the kind of person she was (and probably still is because nobody changes dramatically at her age.)

When A. (her son) and I got married, he came to live in my apartment. Everything in there was mine: the furniture, the drapes, the pots and pans, the crockery, the cutlery, the bedding – everything. The poor guy wasn’t allowed to take anything away from the house where he had grown up and where everything had been bought with the money made by his late father. Mind you, A.’s family was a lot richer than mine, yet he ended up having to accept a suit of wedding clothes and a wedding ring bought by my mother because everything he had was taken hostage by my mother-in-law.

A. still wanted to feel like he contributed something to his new household, which is very understandable. So he brought a fairly old table runner and placed it proudly on the table in the living-room of our shared apartment. I can’t say I was too crazy about the runner, but I could see it mattered to him to have at least one thing that belonged to him in his new life.

Then his mother came to visit us. She walked around the apartment looking like, in my mother’s apt expression, somebody had placed a pile of shit in her pocket. Nothing was to her liking. The apartment, the furniture, her son and I were equally disappointing.

And then she saw the table runner.

“Is that MY table runner?” she said in a terrible whisper.

“No, it’s my runner,” A. responded. “It was given to me by grandma and I wanted to have it here to remind me of her.”

“You took it away from MY house!” his mother bellowed as her eyes bulged out. “This is how things begin. First, you take a table runner and then you steal everything your elderly mother has. My own children are robbing me blind! I will die alone, in the streets, begging strangers for a piece of bread!”

“Mom, it’s just a table runner,” A. mumbled.

“Who taught you to steal things from me?” she continued yelling. “Did Clarissa teach you to do that? Or was it her mother’s idea? I always knew those Ukrainians were crafty!”

“I think we should give the table runner back to your mother,” I suggested to A.

“No!” he suddenly exploded. “I want to have my grandmother’s gift in my apartment and I will have it!”

I realized that things were getting too tense for my liking, so I cleared out and let mother and son discuss the table runner for the next 40 minutes.

The table runner stayed with us but it brought no joy because every time we saw my mother-in-law she would ask in a tragic voice, “So how is my table runner? Are you, at least, taking good care of it? I miss it so much!” All this was said without a trace of humor.

I know you are now thinking that there is no way this story could be true. This is because you never met my first mother-in-law and have no idea that this was one of her nicer moments (I mean, she did let us have the table runner, after all.) The rest of the time she was much worse.

I’m happy to report that my second (and, hopefully, last) mother-in-law is a vast improvement on the first. From what I hear, she is not a huge fan of Ukrainians either but she doesn’t come to my house to share those feelings, which is good news already.

She is also a great fan of my blog. Of course, a person who enjoys Clarissa’s Blog is, by definition, a worthy human being. Mother-in-law made two requests for blog posts. One is that I write more about my personal life. Curiously, my personal life these days happens exclusively with her son who is a very private and reserved person. Which means that I find it hard to honor that request. The second thing she asked for was to see photos of our recent trip to Punta Cana on the blog. So to honor the cause of good mothers-in-law everywhere I will now be posting photos of that trip with my insightful commentary.

Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

Do American women understand the *fundamental level* at which their rights are being violated when the right to an abortion is attacked? If the bodily resources of men were redistributed for the sustenance of others it would be recognized at once as communism. Anti-choicers are communists, traitors, and a threat to this nation at the most fundamental level–but none of it is viewed truthfully because they only enslave women to the government.”

Akin believes the lie because it’s pretty. The lie tells him that he’s not a monster. It helps him avoid the ugliness of his beliefs. That thought pattern makes him absolutely typical of the conservative movement today. When implemented, conservative policies cause a lot of ugliness. And when confronted with these ugly consequences, conservatives rarely adopt a more compassionate position. A few brave ones talk about necessary sacrifices and breaking eggs to make omelets, but most just paper over the ugliness with a pretty lie.

A scary teaching story: “I am just as liberal as liberal gets in the Heartland, but I can’t be “out” about that — not completely — in front of a bunch of tuition-paying conservatives.” I feel that way only too often, too.

If Todd Akin du jour said that there are “legitimate and illegitimate ways of giving birth”, we’d eviscerate him. Yet when women say that, it’s perfectly OK. I feel disgusted right now.

A plant owl. Ultra cute.

Dare to be inefficient.

Baby formula is just like AIDS! Or, at least, it is in the mind of some vile “lactactivists”: “Formula is a little bit like AIDS… Nobody actually dies from AIDS; what happens is AIDS destroys your immune system and then you just die of anything and that’s what happens with formula. It provides no antibodies.” On jerkwad compares being raped with having a child out of wedlock. Another says that formula is like AIDS. What is it with the freakazoids?

An autistic’s tips on surviving the first day of school.

Baby turtles are back!!! Impossible cuteness awaits you when you follow this link.

Mitt Romney’s funny biography in pictures. Brilliant!

While the women of Christian patriarchy will joke amongst themselves about the helplessness of their husbands and how they are really the ones who keep it all together, it’s a joke that casts a shiny veneer over the uglier truth: that they are staff in their own households, and that if they stopped keeping it all together they would be replaceable.” It’s not just the Christian fundamentalists. Whenever you hear a group of women joke about their useless husbands, you need to know that there is some major compensation going on there. These women have given up something of value and now feel like idiots. The post starts out well but ends up dissolving in idiocy: “In patriarchy – Christian or otherwise – women are expected to be daily martyrs, to give up little pieces of their lives and their freedom over their lifetimes. Men, on the other hand, are allowed to keep their liberties in exchange for the vague risk that someday they might need to die (with great honor) to save someone else.” Yeah, because being the only person in the family who is responsible for paying the bills and feeding everybody is not a daily effort. Come on, men in patriarchal arrangements are as miserable as women.

Clint Eastwood’s discussion with an empty chair was not only ugly and embarrassing, it was also full of lies. I always really disliked Clint Eastwood and considered him to be grievously devoid of talent. It’s a mystery why so many people like his boring movies. All he films is infantile macho mythology.

A brilliant deconstruction of Ann Romney’s RNC speech.

And here is another deconstruction of the same speech: “The big thing seems to be to point out that women are necessary in their traditional roles for this particular economic and social system to work, and that to praise them for their traditional work suffices to keep them faithful to the GOP.” I think that in the light of the recent activities of the GOP, no speech of theirs addressed to women could have avoided being obnoxious. But this one was really really obnoxious, no matter who it came from. If Hillary Clinton gave that speech, I would have hated it, too. This idea of women constantly serving the needs of others and needing to be celebrated in that capacity bugs me.

“Pickert never minded that his son liked dressing in little girl’s clothes, but when his family moved from West Berlin to a small southern town in Germany, he learned that other people did. In fact, it became a “town wide issue,” according to Pickert.” Read how the father joined forces with his small son to combat the close-mindedness of the people in their village.

The Poles have had a series of dictatorships forced on them, most recently by Berlin and Moscow. The Nazis and Communists said they were protecting good people from bad, good ideas from bad. America’s self-identified patriots are apparently so frightened of sexuality that they’re willing to demand government dictatorship to protect them.”

This article on how a bunch of rapists gets celebrated and protected by the criminal justice system and their pathetic excuses for parents will make your hair stand on end. I warn you, everybody, this is really horrifying.

Students and Religion

I have a student who is an atheist in one of my courses. I know this because he shared it publicly, in case people start worrying that I spy on students.

In this geographic region, it’s easier to spot a pink elephant than an atheist student, so I’m glad to have him in the course.

Most of my students claim to be very passionately Christian but I find that their knowledge of their own religion is pretty non-existent. I have to explain the most basic things. Forget the arcane (to them) things like, for example, the existence of the Orthodox Christianity. Or the Inquisition that they don’t connect to Christianity in any way. During the last lecture I had to talk about the crucifixion of Christ. The question I was asked was, “But what do the Jews have to do with any of it?” (This was in response to the discussion of how Isidore of Seville said the Jews were to blame for rejecting Christ.)

I had to explain who Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas were. It felt bizarre.