Monthly Archives: November 2009

“Duck” means “Duck”.

We’ve been down this road before, but I feel the need to rant. Again.

So, on my course outlines, there are some clear policies, including, now, thanks to the Shrinker, stuff about how cheating on an exam is heavily discouraged. One of these policies says “If you are about to miss a lab with an in-class assignment for marks, and you care, and you want to make up the assignment, let me know before the class finishes, and preferably before it starts.”

This means that if you are sick, you need to reach your arm limply to your sidetable, whereon your blackberry rests, and type, with fingers weakened by the racking cough and fever you are experiencing because of the Hiney, “I am too ill with the Hiney to come to class, can I make up the assignment.” Onerous, I know, but we all know I chose this profession because of the ample opportunities to be an asshole. Deal.

This semester, I have a student, let her be known as Balloon Girl, perhaps because of her airheaded tendencies, who has so far failed to manage to do this thing 3 times. She missed an assignment on Wednesday, and didn’t get around to mentioning that she wanted to make it up until Friday morning, which, coincidentally, was the deadline for any other students who missed the class or couldn’t finish in class time.

I replied to her email, saying, AS PER THE WRITTEN POLICY, it was too late to make up the assignment.

So, today in class, she says to me that I only sent her half a reply to her request. Excuse me? What this apparently means is, no is not an answer. Or rather, it is a partial answer, and the question will be re-asked until she gets what she wants.

So once again, explaining the rules and sticking to them is seen by the Snowflakery as aberrant. I know blaming the helicopters is becoming a cliche, but really. What kind of parenting are these kids experiencing?

FYCL #16 – Sexy, sexy hamsters.

Dubious advice on making cocktails with bacon, whether couples can make friends, confronting the idea of humourless feminists when people make sexist jokes, and the homework denial controversy. As usual, we have Dubious Sex Toy and our recommendations for the week.

FYCL #16, if you are still doing the old-fashioned-y downloading of each episode, rather than subscribing with our shiny new rss or via iTunes.

For further reading:

Apologies for the coughing husband in the background.

Closing music is a shout-out to Mr Falor; it’s Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros.

A reminder: although only the most recent 3 episodes are live in iTunes, you can always access back episodes of FYCL in our archive at

Another Good News, Bad News Day.

Good News:
The class I have been wondering if it will run next semester looks like it is running.

Bad News:
Said class is at 8am.

Bad News:
The other class I am teaching only has 8 students in it. Rut row.

Good News:
There are lots of students on a waiting list for Children’s Lit, so maybe I can teach that instead.

Bad News:
I was taking an enforced break from teaching Children’s Lit because most of the students who take it are in the Teaching Small Children stream of Education, and they are whiny pussies who can’t cope with criticism, because apparently they think that rules about not giving Kindergarteners Fs, or any negative feedback at all, really, apply to College students.

Good News:
My chair decided that he would take a punt on me teaching the class anyway, especially since many of the students on the waiting list appear to be regular students and not ones pre-stamped with a pink S for “Snowflake”.

Bad News:
He made me promise to try not to make them cry. In the words of Bart Simpson, I can’t promise to try, but I will try to try.

Good News:
I got to go out to lunch.

Bad News:
Going out to lunch was the result of coming home to find that my stove is utterly and mysteriously buggered.

Even Worse News:
The repair people can’t come before Tuesday. TUESDAY! That’s like 6 whole days away.

Dire News of Direness:
Our coffeemaker is the stove-top Italian kind. FUCK. FUCK FUCK FUCK.

FYCL #15 – GGB on BBG

Dubious advice on being angry about holiday cooking and/or marking, encouraging girls to do science, indoctrinating young men into the ways of feminism and dealing with scheduling during the holidays. Ask a Dude returns to consider the logistics of a BBG threesome; there’s an extremely Dubious Sex Toy, and some great recommendations.

FYCL #15, if you are still doing the old-fashioned-y downloading of each episode, rather than subscribing with our shiny new rss or via iTunes.


  • Belle de Jour’s blog, which is hotting up at the moment with juicy back and forth about the revealing of her identity.
  • Times news story and follow-up on Belle de Jour and the revelation of her identity.
  • Caroline Moore is the teenage astronomer we uselessly could not remember, and she found a supernova.
  • For those of you who have been living under a rock – Sarah Bunting’s awesome Yes You Are.
  • Looks like Double X is getting folded back into Slate.
  • Wildly inappropriate gnome dildo video. Click at own risk!! Further research determines that it was intended to be a sex toy, but I haven’t seen a vendor of same online. Even google is shocked and horrified.
  • HUGE props to the Bugger for finding a reference to the actual gnome dildo, although it appears they are not currently available for purchase.
  • Gay Sex in Dragon Age: Origins, pointed out on the Queerty blog, which is worth a bit of a browse for its other content, too.
  • On being a Bad Mother, by Sandra Tsing Loh, from the Atlantic online.

Apologies for sound quality – both of us were having internets issues this week. I have sorted mine out (fingers crossed).

Closing music is 3 by Britney Spears, chosen OBVIOUSLY, for thematic rather than musical merit.

A reminder: although only the most recent 3 episodes are live in iTunes, you can always access back episodes of FYCL in our archive at

Things that made me lol.

Thing 1

Prof Birkenstock made up this awesome writing exercise where students have to produce a short piece of writing with no errors in it. The idea is that they get a topic and a word requirement (say, 200), and then they have to use all available resources – Mr Spellcheck, their fellow students, and as a last resort, their brains – to make sure it is perfect before they hand it in. If there are mistakes, then they have to fix the mistakes, and write a further 50 words. In my class, if it is right first time, they get an A+, but the grade goes down for every subsequent showing.

As an exercise, it is awesome because it is a) sadistic and b) forces students to pay attention to expression, and encourages them to edit collaboratively. b) is the actual pedagogical part.

Today students were lining up to have their work checked over and one of them was all “This makes me nervous,” and I was all “Why?” And someone else pipes up “That pink pen of yours has the power to alter my GPA; that’s why.”

Thing 2

The other day 2 of my more regular students were not in class, and their pal, whom we shall call Dan #3, was a little late. As he sat down we had the following conversation:

Dan #3:  Dans #1 and #2 are probably not going to make it to class.
Me: Enlighten me.
Dan #3: They were in a car accident.
Me: Are they okay?
Dan #3: They looked okay when I drove past.
Me: What?
Dan #3: I drove past them on my way here. They were, like waiting for a tow truck, I guess.
Me: You didn’t stop?
Dan #3: I didn’t want to be late to class.

FYCL #14 – Champagne Quality Podcasting

Dubious advice on how root beer is not ginger beer, drinking, especially champagne, dealing with people you disagree with, the pursuit of feminism, whether helicopters can be brought to Jeebus, and what to do when your child is menaced by a dog on the way home. Dubious Sex Toy has a holiday theme, and as always, there are our recommendations.

FYCL #14, if you are still doing the old-fashioned-y downloading of each episode, rather than subscribing with our shiny new rss or via iTunes.


A reminder: although only the most recent 3 episodes are live in iTunes, you can always access back episodes of FYCL in our archive at

This just in – ballet moms unfamiliar with lolcats.

As I have mentioned previously, my spawn does ballet, which at this time of year means 5 hours a week minimum of Nutcracker.

This year, she is in the junior company proper, which means she has several different roles, and her parents are required to “volunteer” help with the production. (I say “volunteer” in this way because it isn’t actually optional, and I am pretty sure that if I didn’t, some hefty teenage ballerina would offer to break my arms.)

Feckless husband has slithered out of his volunteering responsibilities by being utterly booked up with paying gigs on the performance dates, which paying gigs he deliberately accepted for the sole purpose of not having to volunteer at Nutcracker performances, which means that I was the one to shoulder the volunteer commitment. Through a series of unfortunate events, I have ended up as Stage Manager for 3 shows. Expect tales of chaos.

So, yesterday was our first big run-through of the whole show with an entire cast, and I was sitting at the side of the studio being coached, I mean terrified, by people who have been Stage Manager, who kept saying helpful things like “Now, at this moment, you will have 15 seconds to completely clear the stage, so make sure you have given everyone a specific task, and hopefully no one will die,” and “the fog machine is not that tricky, but of course you have to make sure it isn’t too early or too late, and the person using the fog machine is in some danger of losing fingers”. I AM SURE IT WILL ALL BE FINE.

Anyway, we get to the part where Sugar Plum is supposed to do a pas de deux with Cavalier, and she gets up, but Cavalier is not there, because he’s a professional hired to come in later, but as it happens we haven’t managed to hire one yet, on account of the Winter Olympics. People say this to me as if it makes sense, and I don’t want to look like a moron by asking “How is it on account of the Winter Olympics?”

So, anyway, it transpires that there is a search on, but we don’t have one yet, and the Artistic Director (otherwise known as the head of the ballet school) is still searching, and asking everyone to get her contacts, and maybe there is this guy, but he doesn’t have a phone. It’s a bit tense.

And then I, prompted by some Demon of Internet Frivolity say, “Well, if worst comes to worst, we can always drape a banner across the stage that says ‘Invisible Cavalier is Invisible’.” And there is dead silence. At which point it dawns on me that ballet parents are not internets people.


FYCL #13 – Exploding Soup

Dubious advice on how not to pack soup in your bag, lost and found, making choux pastry, dating someone with kids, having a feminist epiphany, whether biography is a dead art, and how to recognize a chick flick. As always, we have a Dubious Sex Toy of the week, and our recommendations.

FYCL #13, if you are still doing the old-fashioned-y downloading of each episode, rather than subscribing with our shiny new rss or via iTunes.

Not much linkage this week:

Dubious Vintage Sex Toy – a first! We have no idea where this came from originally, but here it is in all its glory. (I was going to put a modesty line, but seriously, it doesn’t even look that rude, or perhaps my perceptions of “rude” have been warped.)


Fascinating side note: FYCL now comes up if you do  a google search for “dubious genitalia”.

Closing music is “Smells like Teen Spirit,” as rendered by the Flying Pickets. Just because.

A reminder: although only the most recent 3 episodes are live in iTunes, you can always access back episodes of FYCL in our archive at

Is there an award for petty assholes? Because I think I have a winner.

So, today my Chair says, “have you got a minute,” which we all know is never good news, but I SWARE my conscience is clear.

So, I chase him down and he’s all like “There’s a complaint about your midterm,” and my mind immediately goes to the Groomer, but I haven’t even marked the midterms yet, so you know, what kind of complaint could she have? So I give this a moment to play out, and he asks if I can explain the circumstances of how the midterm unfolded.

My Chair is generally a good guy and all, but he has this habit of assuming that you know what he is talking about, which in this case I have no fucking clue, so I am just describing what happened, which is as follows:

The class is 50 minutes long and meets at 9, and so it’s a bit hard to have a full-on srs midterm, but by starting early because the room is empty and maybe squeezing a couple more minutes in at the end, in the changeover gap between classes, I tell them they can likely get a reasonable length essay written. So he says “yes, this seems to have been the problem”, which, you will agree, in no way explains what the fuck the problem is.

So, I say, I told them they could come in early, and about 80% of them were indeed in the room when I got there at 8:45, so we got underway, and the rest trickled in. So far so good. Then, at 9:50, there were a few students left and I told them to finish up, and I went outside and apologized to the person I thought was the teacher and said “They are just finishing up their midterm.” And this person said “Oh, no problem”.

Apparently, though, “Oh, no problem” is code for “This is such a problem that Ima report you to MY chair, who will then have YOUR chair say that there is a request for you to be reprimanded for disadvantaging students who needed to sit a midterm and also you have to write a formal apology”.

And I am all like “Dude, I am happy to apologize, because I thought I already did, but isn’t this a bit much of a rigamarole over 5 minutes, which 5 minutes was part of the 10 minutes changeover, and not in any way 5 minutes of this person’s actual class time?” And he says “Are you sure it was only 5 minutes?” And I said “Yes, because I was on time to my class that started at 10am”.

And then he’s like flipping through some papers on his desk saying “I need to get the details of this a bit clearer then”. And I am dismissed, still mystified, but now with one burning question –


Introducing the Groomer. Whom I am prejudiced against.

This one has been slowly building to a head. Rather like a boil.

Once upon a time in the first week of semester, I received a series of emails from a student who was “really keen” to be in my class. My class, the delightful centre of elite learning that it was, would totally complete her semester, make her erudite in the ways of literature, and quite possibly cure her acne. Could I get her in? Sadly, no amount of fairy-farting flattery could make it in my power to let her in, but she could keep checking the list, because it was still add-drop.

Well. Eventually she got in, at which point it became apparent that the real reason she wanted to be in my class was to sit next to her boyfriend, a mild-mannered young man, who is slightly, but not all that much, more capable as a student. They share books, so that is probably another reason. Nothing to do with my overall reputation for fabulousness in professoring, after all.

Having joined the class late, this little treasure then proceeded to further tarnish her attendance record by coming to class only about once a week, although class meets 3 times a week, giving her many more opportunities to join me for a little light literary discussion. When I responded to an email excusing yet another absence with a suggestion that she perhaps needed to be a little more dedicated in the class attending department, she gave me to understand that she was very busy and important, and that really, it was no business of mine what she did with her time.

The due date for the first essay came. I gave the essays that came in a cursory glance, checking for dead ducks, and found that there were several in need of duck removal. Out of the kindness of my heart, I gave the owners of these duck documents a few moments to make their adjustments. The Groomer’s essay was very ducky, but when I called her name, she was nowhere to be seen. You may imagine her reaction to receiving the designated D for Duck grade: the word “unfair” was used liberally.

I am clearly not performing up to scratch in the spoonfeeding department, as the Groomer informed me a few weeks ago, by asking exasperatedly if I was “ever going to tell us what is on the midterm, or what.” Given that the midterm was 3 weeks away, I responded that I didn’t feel the urgency, and was admonished by a huffy sigh.

I would like to say, in my defense, that while it crossed my mind to wait the short interval until the Groomer was absent from class to reveal the ultra-secret midterm information (aka “you have to write an essay on Gatsby“), I resisted the temptation. This is because I am not in any way prejudiced against her. I give you this as an insight into subsequent events.

In this class, I have a requirement for a number of mini-assignments, marked on a pass or fail basis, which, I am assured, is just the kind of asshole thing Professors like me do in order to drag down the A students who prefer to procrastinate, writing one paper (probably at 2am) and pulling out a miracle A-. These brighter, more deserving, but lazier students resent the opportunity I am giving to plodders who do all the required work to essentially get a free 10%.

These assignments I mark with a checkmark if they are decent, a few pertinent comments if they are barely passable, and with a “ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING” if they don’t manage to meet the pathetically minimal requirements. The Groomer has managed to hand in a few misspelled atrocities, which I have passed, but have also spent a few minutes pointing out the worst of her spelling and grammatical errors, in the vain hope that she would notice and try to improve.

At the mid point of the semester, then, she is scraping by, saved by the pass/fail nature of the gimme assignments, which information is no doubt making some A student somewhere grind his or her teeth.

Then we come to Friday’s class. The Groomer wandered in 15 minutes late, and proceded to do the following, from her seat in the front row for the remaining 30 minutes of class:

  • check email
  • moisturise hands
  • giggle with boyfriend
  • comb hair
  • use fingernail to clean speck of something off the arm of glasses
  • rearrange hairstyle
  • check email again.

You will notice that a) none of these things involved looking at her textbook (which never came out of her bag), or participating in class discussion. Oh, and did I mention she sits in the front row? Most people who don’t want to pay attention have the decency to sit further back.

At the end of class, I asked to have a word, and gently suggested that she could do a better job of paying attention, rather than, say moisturising, which, while important, can be accomplished before or after class time. Her response? “Well, my hands were dry.”

I let it go at this point. It’s no skin off my nose if she gets a zero for participation, after all. Then, on Saturday, I received an email complaining about my attitude. You see, I have a “bais opinion towards” her.  You know how she knows? Other people receive checkmarks on their work, while she receives comments, instead of the “proper checkmark”.

Got that? Feedback is evidence of prejudice. If I liked her, no doubt I would give her the proper grade of an A, and write no useless messy comments on her paper.

I was going to write a huge screed protesting this recockulous accusation, but then I did some soul-searching, and you know what? I think she might be right. I do have a bias opinion towards students who incompetently fail to follow instructions and basic standards of hygeine and grammar, and I express them by writing comments on their work.

It’s a fair cop.