where to draw the line?

The recent post about how background characteristics and former experiences shape people’s behavior reminded me of a case that raises questions about where we should draw the line in being sensitive to people’s various circumstances.

In a plagiarism case with a graduate student, a colleague once told me: “Well, this is cultural, where he is from [insert country], this is common and often allowed.” My colleague thought that therefore we shouldn’t make a big deal out of it. I found this approach very frustrating. For one thing, the graduate student had already spent over four years at American institutions. Wouldn’t that amount of time be enough to teach someone that plagiarism is not okay at American universities?

How far can/should we stretch sensitivity to different types of behavior based on differences in background?

iowa retrospective

All eyes are on Iowa these days, as the day of the caucus approaches. The NY Times has a story in today’s paper about those who are excluded from the caucuses. The approach of bringing everyone together into one room for a couple hours necessarily leaves out people who work long hours, parents, people who are out of town that day, those who are housebound or who don’t have transportation to the particular meeting, etc.

I am among those excluded. Continue reading “iowa retrospective”

the resolution will not be televised

2008 workout stars

A plain fact about myself is that I am better when I exercise. I feel physically healthier; I am more optimistic; I am more proactive in other domains of my life; and I am more productive at work. Why this is so, and how these different positive consequences are related to one another, is not up for contemplation here. Instead, the issue is that despite all these benefits, I continue to be very easily thwartable in terms of establishing good exercise habits.

Well, I am done bothering around.* Exercising regularly is important to my well-being, and important things are worth drastic measures. So: Continue reading “the resolution will not be televised”

the not-empty nest

There is no milk for my cereal this morning.  Two days ago, when there was no milk in the morning, my husband got his car stuck in the snowplow-created snow dam trying to get milk for me before I got up.  (Yes, he is a sweetheart.  But I’m OK, too.  After we got him unstuck, I shoveled out the snow dam while he shopped.)  Today there’s no snow dam in the driveway but he’s puttering in the basement and either did not notice the problem or thought I would not be up yet since I was working until 3 or decided I could live without my cereal this time.  Why do we have a problem with such a simple thing as keeping milk in the frig, you say?  The emptiness or fullness of our nest oscillates.  Our adult children may or may not be in the house and, when around, may invite over a number of other people which, itself, is a random variate.   The younger people often arrive and eat in the wee hours.  We joke that we can’t go downstairs in our underwear at midnight because we might have unexpected company.  It could be amusing to try to model the fluctuations.  But first I’ll fix peanut butter toast.

Just thought those of you with little children might want to know what you can look forward to.   (For the record, yes it is much less work and yes we are glad our offspring feel comfortable about inviting their friends to hang out here.  Peanut butter toast is a small price to pay, although I’d still rather have my cereal.)