Most G(r)eeks Know This

, , , , , | Learning | January 4, 2019

(My math teacher isn’t great. My two friends and I often sit off to the side of the class and do other homework while keeping an eye on her, because we are well ahead of this class and she is painfully slow in teaching the topics. On the bright side, she allows this because we do well in class. On the not-so-bright side, we’ve also had several disagreements with her about the accuracy of what she is teaching, most notably, her insistence that the constant pi is equal to 22/7 — not close to it, but equal to that exact value. In actuality, pi is not the same as any number, and famously requires lots of work to calculate ever more digits to be ever more precise. Most geeks know this, and all math teachers should. During two earlier incidents we’d given up trying to convince her she was wrong. On this particular day, she starts teaching the class about rational and irrational numbers. Rational numbers can be expressed by a ratio of integers — i.e. 22/7 — while irrational numbers cannot — i.e. pi. She starts putting down examples in two columns. As shown in the book, she puts pi in the irrational numbers category.)

Friend: “So… if pi is 22/7, that is a ratio of two integers. Why isn’t it listed as a rational number?”

(She looks flustered and thinks for a good thirty seconds, then erases pi and moves it to the rational numbers column.)

My Friends & Me: “Noooooo!”

(This suddenly became our Alamo, our line in the sand. We weren’t giving up this time. It took us another fifteen minutes of arguing to finally convince her that while pi was approximated as 22/7, this wasn’t its actual value. We had to dig through some extra textbooks she had in her cabinets to find an earlier textbook that stated this explicitly and simply in a single sentence in order to convince her, but she finally admitted she was wrong. The reason she had so many spare textbooks sitting in her cabinets? She was the head of the math department and they were samples from publishers. Also, this was the honors class.)

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Hasn’t Done Math Since The Fifties, Or Changed His Attitude, Either

, , , , | Right | January 2, 2019

(I am doing an exchange for a gentleman, and once the receipt prints I hand it over to him. I am male.)

Customer: “The f*** is this? You’re ripping me off! I should have gotten more back! I want your manager!”

(I call over my manager, who is a short, young woman, and explain the situation. She is a very blunt person and very good at math, so I know she can figure out what happened)

Manager: “May I see the receipt, please?”

Customer: “Who are you? I wanted a manager!”

Manager: “And you got one; let’s see that receipt and figure this out.”

(I grab it off the counter and hand it to her. After just a few seconds of looking at it, she figures it out and explains how everything worked out, that the amount he got back is correct. She even shows him with the calculator the simple math she used to solve the confusion.)

Customer: “How the f*** do you expect me to trust a woman with math stuff? This is a joke that you are management here!”

Manager: “If I can’t do math because I am a woman, then what is your excuse, exactly? Tell you what; you grab a second-grade math book and double check my formulas, and give me a call if you need a tutor to get you through it. Until then, you have a wonderful day.”

(The customer leaves with a very red face.)

Me: “How do you put up with stuff like that?”

Manager: “The secret to success is to not give a f*** what people say you can and can’t do, and to relish the looks on their faces when you prove them wrong.”

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Expecting Millions But Only Got 132

, , , , , , | Related | December 29, 2018

(I am about eight years old. It is about nine am on a weekend morning and I am still in bed, half-asleep. Suddenly, both my parents barge into my room, waking me up.)

Dad: *eagerly* “[My name]! Quick! What’s 11 times 12?”

Me: *utterly bewildered and slightly terrified* “Wha?”

Mum: “Come on, [My Name]! 11 times 12! What is it?”

Me: *hesitantly* “132?”

Mum: “See? She knew it!”

Dad: “Yeah, she would have gotten it.” *leaves the room with my mum*

Me: *completely baffled*

(I found out later that they were watching “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” and one of the contestants had gotten to a very high round but, to my parents’ astonishment, ultimately lost because he couldn’t figure out what 11 times 12 was.)

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They’re Not In The Upper Percentile, Part 2

, , , , | Right | December 18, 2018

Me: “All right, your total is $10 and with your 20% off coupon, your total now comes to $8.”

Customer: “What?! But I thought that coupon would take off, like, half the price!”

They’re Not In The Upper Percentile

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Breaking Bad At Math

, , , , , | Learning | December 15, 2018

(I work as an assistant in a high school, helping in classes with kids who need extra assistance. On this day I am in a math class, assisting a freshman boy who isn’t one of the students I am assigned to; because of his immaturity, he tends to spend class time joking and goofing off and then needs help catching up. I am walking him through a problem when he suddenly interrupts with one of his jokes.)

Student: “I don’t need to learn math; I’m going to be a drug dealer and make mad bank!”

Me: *without missing a beat* “Oh! Well, then, you definitely need math; how else will you know who owes you money?”

(The look on his face was priceless, and he and I got along just fine for the rest of my time working in that class. He was failing at the start of the year but later went on to get a passing grade!)

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