This Is What Happens When You Sniff Too Much Ammonia

, , , , , | Learning | November 17, 2017

(Because of a specific chemistry assessment, several students need to come in after school to do lab work.)

Classmate #1: *pouring solution* “Ugh, the ammonia smells.”

Classmate #2: “Don’t insult the ammonia. The ammonia has feelings, you know.

Classmate #3: “Ammonia was my best friend for a year.”

Illustrating The Need For Quiet, Mathematically

, , , , , , , | Learning | November 16, 2017

(I’m in the common area of my dorm, attempting to get some homework done, as there isn’t enough space in my dorm room for this project. A pair of other students apparently have the same idea. Unfortunately, they are working on what appears to be accounting homework, and bickering over a problem, LOUDLY. I’m trying to concentrate on my own work, but they just keep going back and forth, and it’s distracting, as their volume only rises.)

Me: *finally fed up* “Oh, my God. Just… give me the problem you’re working on!”

Student #1: *snootily, after glancing at the large self-portrait I’m working on* “Um, you won’t understand the terms.”

Me: *ignoring the fact that they’ve been bickering so long I already do* “It’s just f****** math. I don’t need the terms; just give me the numbers.”

Student #2: “Um… it’s [figure #1] and [figure #2].”

Me: “Are you f****** kidding me? It’s . It’s frigging basic division! Now, can I please get back to work in peace?!”

(They both glare at me and flip to the back of their book, then immediately look sheepish.)

Student #1: “It… it is .”

Student #2: *glancing at my homework* “So… Is that an elective, or…?”

Me: “No. I’m an illustration major.”

Student #2: *weakly* “Well, I guess you could always switch to accounting if you wanted.”

(Thankfully, after that, they were much quieter.)

They Put More Than A Few Feet Wrong

, , , , , | Right | November 8, 2017

(I am in a department store, and I overhear this discussion between two 20-somethings.)

Customer #1: “How big did you say the room is?”

Customer #2: “Ten feet by ten feet.”

Customer #1: “Okay! These boxes have ten square feet in them, so we can do the whole room with one box!”

The Biology Of Growing Up

, , , , | Related | November 7, 2017

(I’m a student worker in a university biology department, and I’m fairly close to my boss. One night she asks me if I’d be willing to babysit her five-year-old, since the regular sitter cancelled. I agree. The little girl is very sweet, and is mostly interested in playing with her new toy, a set of plastic dinosaurs with a little printed cardboard backdrop. I’ve finished cleaning up from dinner, and she’s telling me about the picnic adventure her dinosaurs are having.)

Little Girl: “This one is a meat eater, but he’s not eating meat so that he doesn’t scare his friend, who is an herbivore, and this one likes the cupcakes best, and this one is mad at the herbivore dinosaur because he wanted the salad…”

(Out of nowhere, the little girl suddenly sweeps her arm across the table, sending the dinosaurs and their backdrop and their “picnic” flying.)

Little Girl: “And none of that matters, because then the meteor hits, and dust covers the sun, and all the plants die, and ice squishes them all!”

(She looks up at me, perfectly placid.)

Little Girl: “And they all die. And that’s what happens.”

(I was completely aghast. Five years old, and this little girl had a better grasp of mass extinction than most adults I’ve met. Don’t mess with a biologist-trained kid, I guess! This child is going places.)

Will Weather Through That Bad Grade

, , , , , , | Learning | November 3, 2017

(I am a graduate student at [University #1]. As part of my graduate coursework, I have to take a departmental seminar on how to make presentations of your research. I choose to present about a project I did as an undergraduate at [University #2]. For the project, I collected storm water runoff from roads, so I could only collect water when it was raining exceptionally hard. Because of this, I was only able to collect water on three days. I know that the project isn’t perfect, since I only had one summer to do it and $500 to spend on it. For reference, most graduate projects get tens of thousands of dollars in funding. But it is all I have to present on, because my graduate work isn’t done yet. It’s useful to note that the professor who moderates the presentation class has a reputation for being unreasonable and a bit of a show-off, and I don’t stand for it. At the end of my presentation, he goes on a rant that culminates in this exchange.)

Professor: “I just can’t believe you thought this was science. I mean, I’ve never seen a study with only three data points. Why didn’t you collect more data?”

Me: “Sorry, but the magic weather machine that makes it rain was booked up by a different department for the summer.”

(I got a C.)

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