Tag Archives: Prom

Sunday Skills: Tying A Bow Tie

by Richard

Normally, I’ll use this Sunday slot to raid youtube and find a nice song to give you dudes a bit of a break from the week, something to relax with, a nice bit of musical enjoyment before the start of the work week.

This time, though, I found the answer to a problem that’s been plaguing me for a while now. I don’t know how to tie an actual bow tie. See, I outgrew clip-on ties by the time I was in seventh grade. Admittedly that was because I had my dad tie a tie for me and then never actually undid the knot for the next three years. Eventually, though, I did learn how to tie my own strangulation neckwear.

Moving on to the next step proved to be a bit more problematic. No one I knew had the necessary skills. So it remained unlearned. And I had to keep wearing clip-on bow ties. I wore a clip on to my prom. To my wedding. To every single occasion that required a tux. It was getting ridiculous.

Enter the internet. People put anything up there.

Thanks to the following video, I now know how to tie a bow tie. And so will you. Learn.


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Freaky Friday: Verbal Sight

by Richard

It turns out that my wife, known to me as She Who Must Give Instructions — Twice, was right again. Being told what to look for can actually make it more likely that you’ll find it.

In a research study published today, scientists reveal that spoken language can alter your perception of the visible world.

The study in PLoS Onereveals that people given a series of visual tests had dramatically different scores when they were prompted first with a verbal cue. Asked to find a specific letter in a crowded picture, people were much more likely to find that letter when they were given the auditory cue “letter B” beforehand. Interestingly, being shown an image of the letter B before looking at the picture did not help them pick out the letter B any better than a control group could.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, we’ve all done word searches in elementary and middle school when the teachers were looking for a little time killer and didn’t want to have to do too much work. With every word search, there’s a word bank to show you the words for which you’re searching. I always found that I did better when I read the words out loud to myself, rather than just reading the words.

The interesting thing to me, though, is I always find words that aren’t in the word bank. A question of looking too hard or just not focusing on the task at hand? I always came down on the side of working too hard, but my teachers kept harping on focus. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

Interestingly, although auditory verbal cues increased detection sensitivity, visual cues did not. This finding makes some sense when one considers that linguistic cues involve a non-overlapping format of sensory information that is globally statistically independent of the visual format of information in the detection task itself. By contrast, visual cues involve the same format of information as the detection task, and therefore do not provide converging sensory evidence from independent sources when the to-be-detected stimulus is presented.

Which means that there needs to be a combination of verbal and visual stimuli for this to work, to let you target what you’re looking for.

This has some pretty significant implications for parenting, dudes.

I mean, I know I’ve left notes for the little dudes before and returned to find absolutely nothing accomplished because they couldn’t find what I’d written about. After reading about this, I realized that the little dudes did do better when I gave them the note and also went over it with them.

Something to think about the next time Zippy the Monkey Boy tells me he can’t find that missing shoe when it’s sitting on the floor in the middle of the room.

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Cheating: A Rant

by Richard

Remember way back when Dennis Miller used to be funny? Yeah, I know. Hard to reach back that far. Still, he was at his funniest when he was at his angriest, when he was on a rant.

I’m not that funny, but I’m about to go on a rant. And I do mean to go off on it.

Back on Valentine’s Day, we got a comment entered in an post that was so old we had to blow the spiderwebs off it so we could actually read what we wrote. Which means, usually, we got spammed by some kind of robot. And not the fun kind. This robot-installed spam was hawking academic papers that you could buy.

Yeah, that’s right. The place, which I will not dignify with a link, is a cheating factory.

There’s an argument that buying papers off the internet isn’t cheating. That those papers only serve as a guideline to the — ha! — students who buy them. A way for them to help focus their thoughts.

Yeah, right. And I’m the Queen of Iceland. Admittedly, I do look good in a nice mauve prom dress and a tiara, but Iceland doesn’t actually have a queen. I think you get my point.

The purpose of an essay is not to punish the students. Well, most of the time. Seriously, it’s so that the professor can make sure the students have actually grasped the point of a section of knowledge and are able to synthesize ideas, resolve contradictions and form coherent opinions about that knowledge. These are all important skills. And buying papers off the internet doesn’t help achieve that goal.

I know I’m speaking as a very old person here. There’s no student who likes writing an essay. I know I didn’t when I was that age. But, now that I’m old, I can appreciate what it’s trying to accomplish. It’s a worthwhile goal. That and it’s fun to watch little dudes suffer like that.

I still remember the two all-nighters in a row I pulled in trying to write a coherent paper about Kurt Vonnegut’s Jailbird. That thing, like most of Vonnegut’s books, is a mass of twisting narrative that can confound the most agile mind. Of which mine was not. Still, I managed to get the paper done on time and turn it in. I got a “B” and counted myself lucky. I later found out I got that high a grade because the professor felt sorry for me when he saw how I looked when I turned it in. I know, how could he tell the difference? Har, har.

Still, even though it’s hard, people need to learn how to write coherent bits of narrative. You will be judged on how well you write. No one’s going to demand that anyone write as well as Christopher Moore or anything, but you have to be able to get your ideas across in print, or pixel as the case may be.

I just do not like these kinds of services. I think they cheat the professor and the student. And that’s not good.

Okay. I’m done. End of rant. Go about your business.

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