Worse Things Have Happened To Younglings… 

, , , , , , | Friendly | March 27, 2020

(My father’s friend is hosting a Christmas dinner at their place. As the adults start drinking in the dining room, most of the kids all run up to the TV, but I decide to accompany our host’s younger son, who is around nine. He takes me to his room and wants to play.)

Son: “Let’s fight!”

(He takes out a drawer filled with toy weapons.)

Me: “Sure, but I’ll just use this.”

(I pull out my younger brother’s toy lightsaber.)

Son: “Okay, but you’re gonna lose.”

(He equips a Nerf gun and his own toy lightsaber. We stand at opposite sides of the room.)

Son: “Go!”

(He then fires his Nerf gun at me, but I block the bullet with my lightsaber, stride forward, and knock both of his weapons aside with the lightsaber before tapping him lightly on the neck)

Me: “You’ve been decapitated.”

Son: “What? How did you do that?

Me: “The people in my fencing class can stab faster than a Nerf bullet.”

Son: “Cool! You’re a Jedi!”

Me: *deepens voice* “May the Force be with you, youngling.”

(I was telling the truth; my fencing classmates are fast. But I was actually watching the barrel of his gun and angling my lightsaber to be directly in front of it. Don’t tell him that, though. I have the reputation of a Jedi to maintain.)

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You’re Bucky To Work In Such A Cool Office

, , , , | Working | March 6, 2020

(We use a certain program at work for tracking contact information. After being reminded that we can change our profile pictures, I decide to change mine. My coworker and I are both big Marvel fans. This takes place over instant messaging.)

Me: “I think you’ll appreciate my 100% professional [Program] icon.”

Coworker: “I can’t even tell what it is? Is it a cat attacking some dude?”

Me: “It’s Bucky Barnes while T’Challa’s trying to attack him, so yes. Yes, it is.”

(For reference, the picture was a still of Bucky’s face the half-second before T’Challa takes a swipe at his face.)

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To Teach Geeks, You Have To Think Like A Nerd

, , , , | Learning | February 27, 2020

This happens during my first year of studying English at university. One of the first courses I take is Introduction to Linguistics, which consists of one lecture and one seminar per week. The three-hour-long seminar is on Friday afternoon, in one of the stuffiest, most cramped classrooms on campus, neither of which are beneficial to students’ concentration. So, maybe we can be forgiven for being more dense than usual one afternoon, as the teacher is explaining allophones and phonemes. She’s wrapping up an explanation.

Teacher:
“So /c/ and /k/ are allophones of the same phoneme that are in complementary distribution.”

The struggle to comprehend must be clear on our faces, because after one look he decides to simplify it.

Teacher:
“…which means that /c/ and /k/ are different versions of the same sound that never occur in the same place.”

We’re starting to get it, but not quite. The teacher thinks for a moment and then comes up with the most brilliant analogy ever.

Teacher:
“Think of /c/ and /k/ as Clark Kent and Superman; they’re different versions of the same person that are never seen in the same place.”

Class:
“Ooooh!”

Everybody laughs, but we finally get it. From that point forward, the seminar has a new theme.

Teacher:
“So, these phonemes are in parallel distribution, which means they’re different sounds that can occur in the same place. Basically, they’re Superman and Batman — different people who can be seen in the same place.”

There’s more laughter.

Teacher:
“Phonemes can also be in complementary distributions, so different sounds that do not occur in the same place. Like, say, Batman and Spiderman.”

Quick-Witted Classmate:
“That could still happen, if DC and Marvel decide on a crossover.”

Me:
“That already happened, in the eighties, I think.”

Teacher:
“Okay, something more radical, then. How about Batman and Care Bears?”

Quick-Witted Classmate:
“That could still be a crossover.”

Classmate #2:
“Not sure I’d read that, though.”

Classmate #3:
“You kidding? That’d be hilarious!”

Teacher:
“Okay, this analogy is going off the rails, so I need something new: an apple and a book. Satisfied with that? You don’t read an apple, and you don’t eat a book.”

Sassy Classmate:
“Well…”

Teacher:
“No, I don’t wanna hear it. Does everybody at least get it now?”

Class:
“Yes!”

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the difference between complementary and parallel distribution.

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Maybe You’re Having Twins?

, , , , , , | Romantic | January 30, 2020

(My husband and I go out to buy ramen and end up bringing home leftovers for later. I’m seven months pregnant — the constant hunger, I swear — and I want to save my noodles for the next day, on which I end up making a cup of noodles.)

Husband: *looks at me and my cup* “What’d you bring?”

Me: “Cup of noodles.”

Husband: “I don’t know you anymore. [My Name], you’re breaking my heart. You’re going down a path I can’t follow.”

Me: *looks at him confused* “Because of noodles? Are you serious?”

Husband: “Because of what you’ve done. Because of what you plan to do! Stop. Stop, now. Come back. I love you.”

Me: *still confused* “I’m not going anywhere?”

Husband: *starts walking away making lightsaber noises*

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Standing In Line

, , , , , | Friendly | January 24, 2020

(The year is 1987. “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” has just been published. Douglas Adams is on a book tour and is making a stop at a bookstore in Venice, California. My friends, big Adams fans, decide to go and I go along. I should point out that I have never read anything by Douglas Adams. I have actually made a bit of a light-hearted vow not to, not because I don’t like him but because ALL of my friends are into him and quote him extensively, and my college freshman orientation was themed around “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Thus, I have essentially absorbed the books by osmosis, know the plot backward and forward, and can quote it just as easily as they can. I have just never read the books. We get to the bookstore, they get their copies of Dirk Gently, and we stand in line for the autograph. As expected, the line is quite long. We finally get to the front, he signs my friends’ books, and he holds out his hand to me to take my book — Diane Duane’s “The Door Into Shadow” — to sign.)

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t have a book for you to sign.” *shows the book is not his*

Douglas Adams: *staring at me quizzically*

Me: “I haven’t actually read anything of yours, but my friends love your work.”

Douglas Adams: “And you stood in line for two hours anyway?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Douglas Adams: “What are you, English?”

(I suddenly realized that telling an author to his face that I’ve never read their work is not exactly the nicest thing, but he didn’t seem to be bothered at all. We laughed at me queueing up for hours and we moved along. I fully expected to show up as a character in one of his future books as the guy who just stands in line. Since then, a friend has gotten me a lovely leatherbound copy of the entire Hitchhiker’s series and it sat on my shelf for a year before I finally broke down and read it.)

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