Monday, October 12, 2009

Put On Your Flak Jackets And Take Cover! My Head Is Exploding, And Nutella, Cows, And Student Errors Are Everywhere!

Can you possibly handle a Barrage of Hodgepodge? A Pelting of Pastiche? Because my brain is firing random shots of mental rubbish right now, and it looks like you're the hapless target. Gotta get rid of this stuff somehow...

Item. This from a student essay about the character of John Proctor from the play The Crucible: He has changed jurassically from the beginning of Act II until the end. What am I to make of this metamorphosis by a simple Puritan farmer? Does this mean he has become, oh, I don't know...a stegosaurus? Perhaps the student means JP has undergone an era's worth of change? Rather, this kid has phonetically--in his mind--written "drastically." Sigh. And yes, this was in HONORS.

Item. Here's a thing. Now, longtime Dept. readers know of my unabashed love affair with Nutella. It is no secret. But even I never tried to pass the stuff off as a Health Food to try and ameliorate my addiction occasional snacking. What Mom/adult in her right mind would actually believe that a chocolate spread is part of a healthy breakfast? Oh sure it is, if the rest of said breakfast includes eleventy pieces of fruit, half a loaf of tofu bread, and oh, I don't know, maybe a chicken. Come on, Nutella People! Let's take a Reality Pill and Get On A Program.

Item. My Google News Reader has an alert for stories about cows, (Of course. Doesn't yours?) and I keep getting terribly disturbing ones about cow suicides. And no, I am not kidding. My first thought is, naturally, how horrifying. Those poor cows! My second thought is, What the hell is so damned depressing in the life of a cow that it would cause it to kill itself? Seriously. Can you just imagine the thought process of that poor thing? Or, what if it decides to confide in its cowfriend?
Penny: (thoughtfully munching on cud) I don't know, Hortense. I'm just so...down lately.
Hortense: (ruminates, then surreptitiously farts) Let's walk over by that edge there. Then you can tell me.
Penny: I mean, every day it's the same thing. It's okay and all, but I just feel penned in all the time. Don't you ever just want to do something else?
Hortense: Sure. Sometimes, I don't go right up there to the barn. I sorta just wander first. And sometimes, I pee right on his hand when he straps me up.
Penny: (peers down the edge of the cliff) Look down there. I'm just gonna go. You with me?
Hortense: (brings up her cud, then glances over the edge of the cliff) Yeah, okay. Let's make a little noise first. (stretches neck, moos, farts)
Penny: (does same, jumps)
Hortense: (jumps)
(Other cows follow blindly in a stampede of bovine destruction. End)
Google News has about two weeks to get its manure together on the whole Cow Info Situation before I delete that section. At least today I learned that California has outlawed Cow Tail Docking. (What a relief! For the cows, too.)

Item. Oh, this stuff is killing me in student work, too. How hard is it to spell "beginning?" You cannot believe the variations I get. The most common are: beggining, begging (hey, Genius! already A WORD!), beggeng. WHAT? And, has the word "woman" completely disappeared from the English language? Has it? Because my students do not know that it exists. They just use the word "women" for the singular. Or worse, the term "female." Erg. Moreover, they pronounce the word "women" identical to the word "woman." WHAT IS GOING ON? Again, let us remember that this is from my "honors" classes. Heavy sigh.

Item. It is becoming increasingly difficult to do creative image searches on Google. I pride myself on having interesting graphics to go with my posts, and heretofore (*love that word!*) I have been able to plug interesting phrases into the query box and come up with wonderful pictures. Now, for some reason, Google merely isolates any word it feels like and generates completely boring and unrelated things. For example, I wanted to find some sort of interesting art for this post that showed perhaps a head with random imagery swirling out of it or around it. I plugged in "head open", "stuff coming out of my head", "exploding head", "spilling my head"...oh, any number of things like that. Idiotic Literal Google generated things that merely had the words "head", "open", "spill", or anything like that. Ergo, I had pictures of a glass of spilt milk, a hummingbird, a candle, a gay couple kissing, etc. Even the word "my" was in bold, indicating that Dorky Old Google had oh-so-helpfully searched all the pictures that included that word in their captions. Note to Google: You're effing up my Project.

All righty then. As usual, I feel better now that we've had a little chat-up. Thank goodness I have all of You. If it weren't for the Brilliant Readers/Commenters here at the Dept., I'd probably follow Penny and Hortense right off The Deep End.


  1. I've driven by a place in CA's central valley that would make anyone want to jump off a cliff. I don't know if it's a dairy or a slaughterhouse, but man, that place is full to the brim with some mighty depressed looking cows. Do you get the 'happy California cows' commercials there, promoting our dairy (I'm guessing not, seeing as where you live and all). They lie.

    Would you think I was cool if I told you that I'm descended from a Putnam in Salem? Also one of the witches that died. Have I told you that before? I'm going to have to quit blogging, because I fear I am repeating myself.

    That Nutella commercial is crazy. She's tricking her kids into eating 'healthy bread' by putting chocolate on it. How about just feeding your kids healthy food, and leaving the Nutella for the adults, um, I mean, dessert?

  2. I like your smart cow graphic, btw, but this one might have fit your post better:

  3. Oh gosh...your student stories are just awful.

  4. That terrible writing gets even more depressing when it comes from college students...

  5. Those nutella commercials knocked me over the first time that I saw them too. Healthy??!! Even I wouldn't go that far.

    And the cows. I have heard about cows taking off and running away right before they were to be slaughtered. I hadn't heard about the suicides, but if they actually do understand their fates, then that would make sense actually. Makes you wonder how much they understand. Poor things. *sigh* Glad I don't eat beef anymore.

  6. Anali--Oh, despite my deep and abiding love for cows, I continue to have a similar fondness for steaks and burgers. I know--what is my problem?

    Mikey--It's one of the reasons I drink.

    Tiana--I spared you from the truly terrifying ones. Believe me.

    J.--That sign is hilarious, but tragic. And I still think my picture fits my post pretty well overall. Think about it...LOL.
    Oh, and we get the CA Happy Cows ads here, and the latest ones are terribly annoying. But I do like seeing cows on tv more often. See what you can do about getting more BUNNIES on, won't you?

    And yes, you mentioned being descended from Salemites before, but only because I've mentioned The Crucible in my blog before so BOTH OF US CLEARLY NEED TO GET SOME NEW MATERIAL!!! LOL.

  7. Being blessed (cursed?) with a sense of smell equivalent to that of a bloodhound, I think the cow suicides must have some connection to the smell of the fart/poop/pee/belch part of the bovine species. Have you ever smelled a cattle feedlot in the high heat of summer? I would commit suicide if I had to live with that smell. On an exceptionally bad day it could peel paint or completely remove the lining of your nasal passages.

    As for Nutella, I could take it or leave it. My daughter, however, asked for a big jar of Nutella FOR HER BIRTHDAY. No other presents necessary she said. Even though it is now a healthy breakfast food (**choke**cough**) I still limit how much we buy. But I always know what sizes it comes in and when it's on sale, since this information is presented to me EVERY SINGLE TIME we enter any grocery store.

    I too do image searches on Google when I want an interesting graphic for my blog. Occasionally they're spot-on, but mostly I get one or two items that might be appropriate, and the rest is page after page of crap.

    Don't get me started on the issue of spelling. Suffice it to say that it is a short distance from where I sit to the starting gate of going postal, and this issue pushes me in that direction faster than almost anything else. When I take over the world, there will be a cabinet post for spelling enforcement. There will be a "take no prisoners" policy. Nuff said.

  8. The cow story--very sad. Is that what "and the cow jumped over the moon" is really about?

    Nutella. It was my DH's former roommate, a Frenchman, who evilly introduced us to it. He had it on tartine every morning. That ad really had me slapping my thigh. And it looks as though the one kid thinks she's really pulled one over on mom, not the other way round.

    Love Zeke, although I think he has a distinctly operatic look. I wonder which one he would sing?

  9. Sputnik--Re Zeke: I'll let you decide. I'm not a fan of opera, but he has some lips, doesn't he? Did you see Vic, the bunny from last week? He was a cutie, too.

    Life--I think pigs and their associated smells have to be the all-time worst. Seriously. I remember getting stuck next to a pig truck in Montana once on an interstate in 90+ degree heat, all sun, nothing moving, no A/C in the car, so... Let me tell you, that was by far the worst smell I have ever had to get over.
    RE: Nutella. It's a good thing it doesn't come in huge, warhouse-sized jars. I'd be...well, huge and warehouse-sized.

  10. On the subject of horrendous grammar/spelling errors: I'm currently editing a feasibility study written by another student at the institute where I work. He (frequently) wrote " its' " where he meant " its ". The rampant vauge pronoun use is bad enough, but that's just...AHH. Must give him points for originality--I hadn't seen that one before.

  11. Nancy6:41 PM


    So you like Heretofore. You can have that word. I give it to you as a gift. My favorite is Notwithstanding. Isn't that a great word?

    You also pointed out that High School kids do not use the word woman properly. So true. They also do not say "You're Welcome" anymore. If you say "Thank you" to them, their response is "No Problem". It's like you really ARE a pain in the neck to them but they will let you slide this time.

    Heretofore we have not spoken of this so,notwithstanding any other terms of our discussion, please pass the Nutella ....Does Chardonnay go with Nutella?

  12. Perhaps the cows are tired of all the tipping? I'd be suicidal, too, if rubes from the hills of West Virginy interrupted my peaceful evening snooze with such drunken shenanigans. PS: The word my students mess up mucho is definitely. Defanitly, definately, and defiantly are the faves on that front...

  13. Melissa B--Oh, yes, the "defiantly" one is a constant source of annoyance/hilarity. And, has any teenager ever learned yet to spell "yeah"?

    Nancy--The "no problem" phenomenon is, sadly, not teen-specific. I get that from service employees everywhere of all ages. It is so pervasive, and I do detest it. As far as Nutella's Best Wine Complement, that's a tough one. I do like the toastiness of a nice Chard with hazelnuts, but adding the chocolate component makes that a toughie. Hmmm...This calls for study. Let me get back to you after I've done some trial and error. LOL.

    Tiana--I hate its/it's errors. Also, the now-common journalistic use of "their" for a singular indefinite possessive pronound. Makes me very irritated.

  14. nutella is nasty, so maybe it is good for you, lol!

    cow suicide, huh? that really is something. really.

    my second grade teacher told my mother that intelligent students have a difficult time spelling because their brains are working so quickly to process info that we just overlook spelling sometimes...that's my story and I'm stickin' to it, I'm a terrible speller!!!

  15. Nina--Your second grade teacher sounds very kind. I guess I, a terrific speller, am just a dummy.

  16. SirEen9:25 PM

    "Jurasically"...that's an adverb I'm gonna start using.

    Nance, you need to kick some of those "honors" kids' butts! Their parents probably read to them too much as children. I really wish the honors program there were run like a magnet school, and that teachers had some sort of say in their honors classrooms. I could rant for days about how honors there has turned into lazy and mediocre, not to mention the way that "middle class" students (and school staff) treat college as if it were compulsory. OH, I won't start.

    As for nutella...
    ...sweet heaven, I could eat a jar.

  17. Een--You already know how I feel about the "honors" program at my school. When there are absolutely no set criteria or standards for getting in except signing up, this is what happens. And when a kid is told his whole life that he is wonderful just for existing, I get the collateral damage. I can't say any more than that.


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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