Salads Just Got More Interesting

, , , , | Learning | August 14, 2017

(At college, I take a course on the modern history of drugs. As you might expect, most of the class uses weed. Usually, anyone high in class just zones out, but one day we’re discussing regulation of marijuana post-legalization.)

Classmate #1: “I don’t even understand how people think you can regulate marijuana. It’s natural. It comes from the ground. It’s like lettuce!”

Me: *whispers* “How high do you have to be to say that out loud?”

Classmate #2: “I’m just pissed our term papers are due next week, because that’s a way better topic than mine.”

Me:Weed Vs Lettuce: What’s The Real Difference?”

Russian Coffee

, , , | Learning | August 10, 2017

(A few classmates and I are sitting in a classroom waiting for our lecturer. It’s a small early morning class. A cold front has just passed by and brought cold, rainy weather. The building we’re in is cool at the best of times and has no heating, which is common for buildings here since it’s so rarely needed. Needless to say, we’re all feeling a bit miserable. Suddenly, one classmate pipes up:)

Classmate: “You know, I brought a flask of vodka. That could come in handy right about now.”

(We’re all jokingly discussing how to distribute it among ourselves and have settled on adding it to coffee when the lecturer walks in. He’s caught the tail end of the conversation.)

Lecturer: “Vodka? At this time of the morning? In my class? Are you alcoholics?”

Classmate: “Not in class… and we’d be adding it to coffee. It’s just to warm up.”

Lecturer: “Do it now, on one condition: make me one as well.”

(And that’s how we ended up drinking in class…)

Pray They’re Not Taking IT

, , , | Learning | August 7, 2017

(I work in student services at a university. The following phone call takes place a few weeks before semester starts, when new students need to accept the offer of a position in a course in order to enroll in subjects.)

Me: “Welcome to Enrollment Help. [My Name] speaking. How can I help you?”

Caller: “Hi, I need help accepting my offer.”

Me: “Okay, not a problem. Do you have our website open?”

Caller: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay, I need you to click on the ‘New Students’ button.”

Caller: “I can’t see that.”

Me: “If you just try scrolling down a bit, there should be four big buttons across the page, and one of them should say ‘New Students’.”

Caller: “I don’t see any big buttons at all.”

(At this point I assume the caller has, prior to calling me, accidentally navigated to a different page on our website and is not on the home page.)

Me: “Okay, you might be on a different page. Can I get you to just click on the [University] logo in the top left corner to go back to our home page?”

Caller: “I can’t see the logo anywhere.”

Me: “Hmm. Okay, I’ll just get you to enter our web address into the URL bar and we’ll get back to the home page that way.”

Caller: “What’s the URL bar?”

Me: “It’s the white box at the top of your screen where you type in a website’s address.”

Caller: “Okay. But there’s already writing in it.”

Me: “That’s okay, just delete that and we’ll put in the web address.”

Caller: “How do I do that?”

Me: “Just click in the box and hit the ‘backspace’ button on your keyboard until all the writing has gone.”

Caller: “Okay, done that.”

Me: “Great, so now you have to type in www-dot [Univeristy initials]-dot-edu-dot-au. Then hit enter.”

Caller: “Okay, got it.”

Me: “Great. Can you see the ‘New students’ button now?”

Caller: “No.”

(I pause for a moment, wondering how we’ve gone wrong this time. Just to clarify, I ask:)

Me: “And are you on our website? Can you see the [University] logo in the top left corner?”

Caller: “No, but it says [University Name] on the page.”

(This has me stumped.)

Me: “Can you describe the web page you’ve got in front of you?”

Caller: “Well, it’s mostly white with a lot of words on it, and it says ‘Google’, and—”

(Suddenly everything falls into place.)

Me: “Oh, you’ve done a Google search! Tell me, do you have two white bars at the top of your browser?”

Caller: “Yes.”

Me: “And were you typing the address into the one on the far right?”

Caller: “Yes!”

Me: “Right. That’s not the URL bar. That’s a google search bar, so what’s happened is when you’ve put the address in, it’s done a google search for that term instead of just going straight to the website. The page you’re looking at is listing all of Google’s search results. Now, where it says [University Name] in the first search result, is it in blue and can you click on it?”

Caller: *pause* “Yes! I can see the logo in the top corner! Oh and there’s the New Students button!”

(And then I had to spend the next fifteen minutes stepping her through the process to accept the offer!)

Not Even Meeting You Half-Way

, , , , , | Learning | August 7, 2017

I have arranged by email a meeting with a professor at my college, who I’ve never met face to face. She has a very busy schedule, and I’ve been waiting for this meeting, regarding a time-sensitive issue, for three weeks. By email, she instructs me to go to the fourth floor of her building, and meet in the conference room directly across from the elevators.

When the time arrives, I go to the building, and see a sign hung on the meeting-room door that reads ‘Meeting in progress. All meetings with Professor [Name] will be held in [Other Room]’.

I make my way to the other room, and it is empty. I check down the hall, and see that her office is a few doors down, and also empty, so I decide to wait in the hallway in case she comes. After about 20 minutes, a woman walks down the hall and asks me what I’m doing. I explain that I’m waiting for that professor, and she tells me that she is that professor, and then proceeds to berate me for not meeting in the initial room she’d told me to. I tell her that there is a sign on the door, which she denies, so we walk down the hall back to the conference room, where, sure enough, the sign is still up. She then turns to me and says, “Well, I have another meeting in 10 minutes, so you’ll just have to reschedule yours,” and leaves.

It’s going to be another three weeks before I can meet with her again.

A Professor That Gives You The Time Of Day

, , , , | Learning | August 7, 2017

(The gene my research group is studying is time-of-day sensitive, so I’ve been in the lab since four am. I haven’t had time to eat anything, and my period started about an hour ago, so by the time my research professor gets in at nine, I’m hangry, cramping, in a foul mood, and only moderately coherent. Thankfully, we’ve worked together long enough that he speaks my language.)

Professor: “Another early day? How are you doing?”

Me: “I’m full of blood and rage, and I wish to kick the a** of everything that expresses genes or respirates aerobically.”

Professor: “That bad, huh? The munchkins arrive at noon, and the department meeting is at three. Think you’ll make it?”

(I’d totally forgotten that a local science summer camp was coming by today to see ‘real scientists at work!’ and I groan, mumbling incoherently about murder and chemical dilutions.)

Professor: “I kinda figured. I’ll make [Lab-Mate] show the kids around. In the meantime, go grab the emergency lab sleeping bag out of my office, and for the love of Sagan, go take a nap. I’ll finish this up. There’s a new bottle of extra-strength Tylenol in the top left drawer of my desk if you need it, too.”

Me: “…the terms of treaty are acceptable, and the a**-kicking of you and the rest of the lab have been down-graded from potentially imminent to purely theoretical.”

(When the kids arrived, I was crashed out on one of the common area couches, using the emergency lab sleeping bag as a blanket. My lab-mate told me later that he laughed, and told them this was also an important part of being a scientist — learning to sleep where and when you can!)

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