It’s Not The Solution Except When It Is

, , , , , , | Learning | April 26, 2018

There’s a stereotype that the more academically intelligent or successful you are, the less likely that you have “common sense” intelligence. This was never truer than in my chemistry exam eight years ago. Despite being part of the “nerdy” group in my class, I wasn’t feeling confident with chemistry at all. In my anxiety, the weekend before the exam I managed to complete every single past exam that I could get my hands on, dating all the way back to the mid-90s. My head was whirling with about 15 years’ worth of formulas and equations, and I finally felt ready for the exam. All that practice did pay off, as I found most of the exam fairly straightforward, right up until the last question.

It was a long question divided into multiple parts, and it started off okay, asking me standard questions like writing out the correct formula, identifying the product of the reaction, naming the molecule in question, describing its structure, and so on. Everything was fine… until the very last question completely threw me off.

The question was, “Why wouldn’t you place this molecule atop a Bunsen burner?”

I stared at the question for several minutes, completely stumped. There hadn’t been any questions on the dozens of practice exams I’d completed that were in any way reminiscent of this one. It was only worth one point, but I couldn’t think of what to write. I ended up writing something ridiculous, like, “Because Bunsen burners are hot,” or something equally stupid.

After the exam, my nerdy group of friends gathered together outside the classroom and we all pondered over that last question. None of us had figured it out; we had all been equally baffled. Then, finally, one of my friends slapped her forehead in frustration.

“Oh, my God, you guys! It was alcohol!

This Table Is A Bit Extra-Dimensional

, , , , | Working | April 25, 2018

I work in the editorial office of a big furniture store. We write furniture descriptions for our online shop, and get in touch with other departments when we notice mistakes or inconsistencies, such as a bed having a length of 100 cm and a width of 200 cm, or a lamp having a green colour on the picture, but being described as red.

I noticed a coffee table which was marked as quadratic, but had a width of 90 cm and a length of 102 cm. I sent an inquiry to check and correct those figures, as either the measurements or the quadratic note had to be incorrect. Yesterday I got the answer back: “Corrected.” Indeed, when I pulled up the table in my browser, the measurements were corrected. The table now has a width of 90 cm, a length of 108 cm… and still is marked as quadratic.

50/50 Chance Of Keeping Quiet

, , , , , | Romantic | April 24, 2018

(I am a math teacher, and my husband is a bookkeeper working on an accounting degree, so we both do a lot of math. We attend a conservative church where women are expected to stay quiet. The sermon is about prophecies.)

Preacher: “The prophets weren’t like people today who make guesses about what might happen. For example, a weatherman might say it’s going to rain tomorrow. Well, he has a 50% chance of being right. It’s either going to rain, or it’s not.”

(I bite my tongue. My husband holds my hand.)

Preacher: “…and they might say the rain will start at three. And they’d have a 50% chance of being right, because the rain might start then, or it might not.”

(I hold my husband’s hand tight enough to leave fingernail marks, and start rocking in place. After the sermon, on the way home…)

Husband: “I can’t believe you managed to not say anything. Go ahead. Release the rant.”

Me: “That’s not how math works! Just because there’s two possibilities, it doesn’t make them equally likely!”

(I continued my rant all the way home. Now it’s a joke between us. If one of us asks what the chances are of anything, the other always answers “50%.”)

This Practical Is On Fire

, , , , , | Learning | April 11, 2018

(I am studying microbiology at university. We have a practical class in which we have to spread bacteria onto an agar plate. To do this, we have to suck up some of the bacterial solution, place it on top of the agar, and spread it around using a spreader. The spreader is a glass rod, with the end twisted into a triangle shape, the bottom of the triangle being a flat edge that we can push the solution around with. Before using it, we have to sterilise the spreader. We do this by dipping it into a glass of ethanol, shaking off the excess liquid, then passing it through the flame of a bunsen burner. I accidentally get the order of operations mixed up. I dip the spreader, pass it through the flame, then shake the excess liquid off. The excess liquid is now, of course, little fireballs, and I shake them off into a half-full beaker of flammable liquid. I don’t notice for a few seconds, because the flame in the beaker is so transparent, but as soon as I do, I call for the teacher.)

Me: “Mr. [Teacher].”

(He is speaking to the class and doesn’t seem to hear me, so I get louder.)

Me: “Mr. [Teacher]!”

(Still speaking to the class, he is obviously ignoring me and annoyed about being interrupted, so I scream out.)

Me: “Mr. [Teacher]! FIRE!”

(He turns and immediately puts the fire out. The next year, I obtain a job assisting in practical lab sessions for younger students. I am assigned to the same class I had taken the year before and notice something different. They are using disposable plastic spreaders instead of the glass. I asked the same teacher about it.)

Teacher: “Yeah, we had to change because some idiot tried to set the lab on fire last year.”

Teaching Them The Whole Nine Yards

, , , , | Learning | March 5, 2018

(I teach physics to students in a university aviation course in New Zealand. It is like flight school, but with more depth of background knowledge, and you get a degree at the end of it. There are about 20 students, and about half of them are from Asian nations: Malaysia, Korea, Indonesia, etc. The first lesson is unit conversion. I give them some unit conversion factors, like miles to feet and feet to meters, and give some examples, one of which is something like, “Convert 340 yards and 2 feet into miles.” An Asian student raises their hand.)

Student: “What is a yard?”

Me: “I am so happy to find out there are people in the world who don’t know what a yard is. Alas, I am about to destroy your innocent ignorance.”

(I explain inches, feet, yards, chains, furlongs, and miles, to the astonishment of half the class.)

Page 3/1412345...Last
« Previous
Next »