Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wandering Attention & Wrestling Cats

In the mid-late afternoon, as my attention started to wander after a long day of talks and workshops and insufficient sleep and/or caffeine, a colleague sitting next to me leaned over and whispered: "If we were students in a boring class, we'd be watching YouTube videos right now instead of listening to this speaker." So I whispered back to ask him if he wanted to see some cat wrestling videos I posted on YouTube last year. He thought I was joking, so I hit the mute button on my laptop and showed him. (note: There are 1,120 cat wrestling videos on YouTube right now, but only a few of them are mine).

We viewed cat videos only briefly, though, because as professors who teach large classes, we well know that just because someone is sitting in the back of the room doesn't mean the professor/speaker up front can't see what is going on..


lost academic said...

I think you just made my day. Now waking up to one of our cats attempting to consume an entire boot doesn't seem so rude.

Susan B. Anthony said...

Great mental image! I've long maintained that YouTube must be at least 50% cat videos.

Muse1 said...

i was going to ask you how do you juggle two jobs but if cat wrestling is your thing I believe you may need to get out more. Good luck with the research.


cat leth said...

Cat videos & stunts gone wrong.
yeah that's about it.

Why do your cats wrestle?! hah.

JP said...

Actually, of greater concern, is coming to the realization that while you've been sitting in the back row goofing off (for a whole term), that the research assistant may be standing in the projection booth behind you...

(I never liked Astronomy anyways. I think the feeling was mutual.)

Scott said...

You are the first official blog I have read (other than people I know)...

YouTube is definately "cat central"...especially lately.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could have watched cat wrestling videos in the seminar I just go out of.....actually, I wish I could have watched anything but that.

JoeBlogs said...

Hi, I like your site. I write a comedy blog, I wondered if you wanted to take part in an interview to highlight your site. My blog is The questions are as follows :

Name :
Age :
Location :
Vocation :
Philosophy :

Sum up what your blog is about.
Why are you doing your blog?
What’s the funniest entry on your site?
What is your writing style?
What do people commonly say about your site?
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing your blog?
Why should someone visit your site?
What did you learn from your first love?
Are there any blogs, you enjoy reading?
If you could invite anyone to a dinner party who would it be and why?
What area of science do you find most fascinating?
What in science developments do you see having the most impact in the next couple of decades?
Tell us about a good deed you have done recently.
Tell us a random funny story that comes to mind.
What advice would you have given yourself 5 years ago?
Any interesting travel stories?
Do you have any strong opinions you would like to debate with me?
What’s the most incredible thing that ever happened to you?
Now it’s your turn! Ask me one question, anything you like.
Your Site Address :

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Joe Blogs

(please include any picture at all that you want to add to the interview)

Stylus Decor said...

yeah youtube has alot of cat vids

jose said...

was going to school worth it, now be honest

Anonymous, as of now said...

i appreciate this one as a regular back of the class student.

Are you allowed to say what you're working on (your research)?
i read some feynman recently so am taking an interest break from bio ( which is the degree i'm working on)

Ape Man said...

lol cat wrestling? what a great idea!

Dwacon said...

Human wrestling is phony.

What is cat wrestling?


Werner Bouhler-Eberl said...

Read my Blog at
The Blog
Rousseau & Revolution resume when?
Answer: (See Blog)

Was Ihre E-mail Adresse ist?
What is your e-mail address?

Werner Bouhler-Eberl

Werner Bouhler-Eberl said...

See my Blog: MEDITATION IN THE TABERNACLE of afternoon 4/27/2007.
I love sacred music.
I have an Amazon Parrot, Rudy.
Where I grew up, southern part of Switzerland, cat named Charlie lived thirty years.
No exaggeration.
Werner Bouhler-Eberl
Blog Address:http://
Was Ihre E-mail Adresse ist?
What is your e-mail address?

calliope said...

I'd rather watch my cat watching me watching him… videos make the world look blurred… well, maybe it is…

Mighty Mighty Joe said...

sounds fun

lilith said...

that definatly just made my day and gave me a really good idea for what i should do in lecture...thanks!

Paul 33 said...

I know people who eat cats.

Natalie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natalie said...

Natalie said...
You are at the top of my 'new favorites list.' I swear I am going to read all of your archives, but in the meantime I am searching all over for those wrestling cats! You are insightful and very good at sharing. Thank you, and I look forward to reading more.

AlterinG Abhishek said...

Hahaha too much!!
The science professor

menakasury said...

It so happened that a student of mine approached immediately after my lecture was over.
"Professor, I want to confess, that I was not exactly listening to what you were telling just now.", she said, with a voice filled with remorse or guilt.
I rebounded by asking,"what were you then doing, Archana ?"
I was watching "you-tube,Sir."She said.
"I knew that. But do you know why I did not call u for greater attention to the class? "
"In fact, almost all of u were watching u-tube only, including the ones in the front rows."
"Then...why did not....u...u..." she paused and hesitated to ask a further one.
"I know what you intend asking. I was just blurting. I did not mind if my students' attention is elsewhere. Problem would arise only when they listen."
"That is a golden truth,Sir." She said.
After many many years, I again met her at one of the workshops.
And I learnt that she was a Science professor.

Anonymous said...

cat cat cat

Inugasa Ginjiro said...


I remember that some students have read comics in boring class and they were scolded by teacher in my high school times. But I'd like to sympathize them a little. ;)

luxi said...

I like your blog.

Saumya said...

I write letters to friends when stuck in boring seminars. Looks good from a distance.

htw said...

I haven't caught on to the laptop in class thing...still just the plain ol' pen and notebook. I doodle instead :)
I'll be on youtube after this though, thanks!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your style of writing very much! It is very refreshing.

Mike Martlet said...

Interesting, - I knew before I read where you were from that you must be a US University Professor; UK University students (Pg or Ug)do not normally tote laptops around with them, - its mobile phones (cell phones) that are their distraction with almost incessant 'texting'.

You are right about noticing what is going on though, - even amongst 400 or 500 students; if I see students texting or watching videos on their mobiles I stop the lecture, then ask them why they are doing so instead of paying attention to the lecture, -reminding them that they can always go somewhere else instead.

Personally, I'm not too sure that I would want 100s of students tapping away at keyboards on laptops while I'm giving a lecture. I expect them to download my PowerPoint slides from my module support Blackboard site, print them off 3 to a page and make notes. How do you cope with noise of all the tapping of keys?

Female Science Professor said...

Yes, exactly. Just today I was bothered by tapping keys in a class I am taking. Other students were doing their final presentations in front of the class, and I suppose technically we didn't have to listen to each other because we won't be *tested* on the material, but the tap tap tapping was rude and annoying. I kept hoping the professor would say something, but she just glared at the typing students, and they didn't stop.

AMP said...

oh - you are so funny with your youtube video at the ready.

I used to work in the architectural field, and have found so much discrimination, it was very disheartening. Plus the harassment from married colleagues. It's just unreal. Then again, the ERA was never passed. Women in power, or empowerment is so taboo.

RandomClown said...

?!?! There are cat wresteling videos??

That is weird, I have seen house cats wrestle, but never heard of a video of that!


A Cat Nap said...

I hate it when I'm sitting in class trying to pay attention and the kid in front of me is checking his e-mail and IM'ing his friends. I never bring my laptop to classes, even though I have one, because I feel like the typing, even if it is for taking notes, is a bit loud. Guess it's ok in a really large room, but I feel pretty weird about it in the classes with less than 100 people in them.

p.s. Just discovered your blog through the blogs of note feature, and I really like it. I am a young grad student in a science field, and I aspire to be both a professor and a mom, so it's really encouraging to see people like you who have done it! Maybe this is in here somewhere, but can I ask at one point along the career track you had your child? I've read a lot of articles about babies before tenure and it's effects on your career, but I plan to have my children before then anyhow, because I'm not waiting ten years to have kids!

Female Science Professor said...

cat nap - all that is back in the archive somewhere, but briefly: my daughter was born when I was an assistant professor, a couple of years before I came up for tenure.