Your Math Is Week

, , , , | Right | November 7, 2019

(I’m working at an animal shelter in the dog area. A customer has just come out of our puppy area. The info sheets of all our animals list their age in years/months; the puppies in this area are generally two to three months old.)

Customer: “Do you have any smaller puppies?”

Me: “No, I’m sorry. We don’t get small breed dogs that often.”

Customer: “I mean, do you have any younger puppies?”

Me: “No, two months is about as young as they’ll let them be adopted. They have to be spayed/neutered and vaccinated before they can go home.”

Customer: “Yeah, but a two-month-old puppy isn’t like a baby baby puppy, like a nine-week-old puppy.”

Me: “I, uh… Well, actually, a nine-week-old puppy is slightly older than a two-month-old puppy.”

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, , , , , | Learning | November 6, 2019

(I’m going to high school in the late 90s. We have a couple of teachers who have enough tenure that they know they can’t get fired, and are slightly crazy. This makes for some very interesting classes; my chemistry teacher is one of these. A brief bit of background, which will be relevant later: my father is a chemical engineer and taught me quite a bit about chemical reactions. This particular class start out different from normal, with the teacher having all of us get up and stand out in the hallway. He has us gather around the door, looking into the room. On the counter, he has a large beaker of water.)

Teacher: “We’re going to do the sodium reaction today.”

Me: *thinking* “Cool, this is a pretty fun experiment.”

(I then watch as he goes to the supply closet, brings out the sealed container, puts on gloves, and proceeds to remove a block of sodium about an inch thick and the size of his palm. I’m waiting for him to remove a small piece of it to begin the experiment, but instead, he grips the whole thing between two fingers, stretches his arm out as far from his body as he can, and drops the whole thing in. The instant he lets go, he starts sprinting towards the supply room.)

Me: “Oh, sh–” 

(I barely have time to say the words, as I, too, dive to get out of the doorway.)

Sodium: “KABOOOM!”

(The sodium reacted predictably, with a massive explosion. Water and glass went everywhere, ceiling tiles got singed, and everyone who didn’t know what to expect started freaking out. I am still amazed that the fire alarm didn’t go off, or that no one called the police.)

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Let’s Hope This Problem Doesn’t Repeat Itself

, , , , , | Learning | October 28, 2019

(I’ve always been very nerdy and a lot of my friends have also been nerds, which is not always easy on our poor teachers. When I’m in middle school, my friend and I come to our science teacher to resolve something we’ve been arguing about for almost two days straight.)

Me: *walks into the classroom with my friend* “Hi, [Science Teacher].”

Science Teacher: “Hey, [My Name], hey, [Friend].”

Friend: “Can you answer a question for us?”

Science Teacher: “Sure. What’s your question?”

Me: “If you cloned yourself, would that clone be more like your sibling or your child? I think it’d be more like your child and [Friend] thinks it’d be more like a sibling.”

Science Teacher: *looks at us, clearly questioning the sanity of these two little nerd girls* “Probably sibling, since they’re still a mix of your parents’ DNA.”

Friend: “I told you!”

(I still wonder what exactly was going through his head when we asked that question.)

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Holding On To That Bakers’ Dozen

, , , , , | Working | October 25, 2019

(I am a young team lead — 20 — that frequently runs the building alone on the weekends. We have a recent hire that’s a bit older than me — 32. We are trained that for clients that are out of area, we have to charge them two dollars for every mile outside of the service area they are for the trip there and back. So, for example, our service area is 25 miles. If the client lives 30 miles away we charge them $2 x 5, so $10 total. I’m just finishing up an escalation report when I hear this new hire talking to her cube mate.)

New Hire: “Can I borrow your calculator? Mine is broken.”

Cube Mate: “Sure, here you go.”

(A minute later.)

New Hire: “I can’t believe it; yours is broken, too!”

Cube Mate: “Are you sure? I just used it for an extra-long trip and it worked fine.”

New Hire: “Yes, it’s giving the wrong answer!”

Cube Mate: “Here, let me see.”

(A few moments later.)

Cube Mate: “It’s working fine. What are you trying to figure out?”

New Hire: “Six times two.”

Cube Mate: *pause* “That’s twelve.”

New Hire: “No, it’s not!”

(Cue me leaning out and watching with interest.)

Cube Mate: “Yes. Yes, it is.”

New Hire: “No, that’s what they are saying, but I know it’s not true. It’s 13!”

(The cube mate looks at me and we both just stare for a moment before they motion, helpless, for me.)

Me: “No, [Cube Mate] is correct; six times two is twelve, not thirteen.”

New Hire: “No, it isn’t; I know math!”

(I am thinking, “Then why did you need the calculator?”)

Me: “Six and two are both even numbers; when you multiply them you can only get another even number, right?”

New Hire: *rolls her eyes* “Well, duh, everyone knows that. That’s why it’s thirteen, not twelve.”

Me: *open my mouth closes it and shakes my head* “Just put in the payment for $12, please.”

New Hire: *all but screaming* “You are both just trying to get me fired!”

Me: *internally sighing* “Put in the payment for $12 and say I approved it. Give me the job number and I’ll notate it myself so if anything comes of it I can take the full blame.”

(She finally entered in the payment. Unsurprisingly, nothing ever came of that payment. Now, her, on the other hand… I could write a book on.)

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With A Poof And Boom, Water!

, , , , , , | Learning | October 24, 2019

Our science teacher was pretty relaxed and mellow. In the four years he tried to teach us the principles of chemistry and physics, I only saw him mad two times. One of them involved another teacher.

He entered the classroom seething mad and told us [Other Teacher]’s key to the cupboard and storage room with chemicals and materials had been taken away and he was never ever to touch the school’s equipment again. 

He did say some things not to be said about other teachers, especially not to your teenage students, but he was beyond mad. The show was not around at the time, but what happened could have figured in a Seconds Before Disaster episode. 

[Other Teacher] performed a small experiment regarding the electrolysis of water, basic stuff. This means an interconnected two-tube system was hooked on to a generator, sending a current through the water and splitting it into its components: hydrogen and oxygen. Those gases amass at the top of each tube. First of all, the generator used for the current was set on AC instead of DC. No harm done at this stage, if he remained vigilant. 

The chemical formula for water is dihydrogen oxide, meaning that for each oxygen molecule, there are two hydrogen molecules. As a consequence, in one tube should be twice as much gas as in the other tube — invisible but you can see the “void” space. [Other Teacher], however, failed to notice that due to the AC, the volume in both tubes was the same. The next step — students are fond of this — to prove the hydrogen, you are supposed to tap some of the gas in an upside-down test tube — hydrogen is lighter than air — and to light the gas. It will result in a small “poof.”

[Other Teacher], for some reason, did not take a test tube and let the gas escape from one of the tubes and lighted it directly. If you hold a flame next to hydrogen and oxygen, they want to come together, resulting in a “boom” rather than a “poof.” As the tube contained a mixture of both, an expensive piece of equipment made out of glass exploded… onto the first two rows of students, who luckily remained mostly unharmed or had only minor scratches. He was lucky.

For some reason, our very strict principal did not see it as a reason for dismissal but [Science Teacher], who was also responsible for the material, revoked his privileges. He had to fight the principal but he won that one.

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