On the subject of accents, I wanted to share what happened at the departmental outing we had today. My colleagues and I went to the best restaurant in town to celebrate the end of the semester. The waitress who served us is Mexican. She heard us speak Spanish and started guessing where everybody is from based on our accents.

“Mexican, Venezuelan, Brazilian, another Venezuelan or maybe Colombian. . .”

“So where am I from?” the colleague from Spain asked.

“Oh, you are a gringa,” the waitress answered immediately.


So yesterday I left my house, got into a car, drove it around the neighborhood, drove to the gas station, came back home, and parked the car in the lot next to the house. The neighborhood dogs, cats, squirrels, and deer* remain unharmed.

Of course, my blood pressure was through the roof and I was shaking spasmodically. But I’ve only had 16 hours behind the wheel, and people keep telling me it gets better.

* We have a herd of deer living in a small vale around the corner.

Copy-Pasting Skills

A student handed in an assignment with responses copy-pasted from Wikipedia. This wouldn’t be breaking news if it weren’t for how badly the copy-pasting was done. If knowing how to plagiarize well were a gradable skill, he would have gotten an F for it. One would think that even if a person copy-pastes a text of which he doesn’t understand a single word, he could still make sure he copy-pasted complete sentences.

I can imagine myself offering classes in copy-pasting in the near future.

“See these dots that appear in the text at regular intervals?” I will ask. “They are called “periods” or “full stops.” The bits of text that appear between the periods are called sentences. When you want to cheat on an assignment, you need to select the part of the plagiarized text that appears between these dots. Don’t just copy-paste a random part of text if you want what you are submitting not to look completely insane.”

For those of you who speak Spanish, this is what the student handed in to me:

siendo inocente al igual que el personaje. Cuanto más se aproxima al final de la novela y el cuento respectivamente, ambos lectores presienten que sucederá algo terrible. En el último párrafo el lector-personaje se convierte en víctima y el lector real se vuelve culpable por imaginar la muerte del personaje. La falta de cierre del cuento por no haber quien lea la novela hace que el final desaparezca, evidenciando la culpa del lector real, quien se ha vuelto victimario o cómplice de la muerte del personaje a la vez que observa

This was a response to “Analyze the title of the short story.”