For Some Reason I Can’t Explain…

, , , , , | Learning | August 13, 2020

I have unusual taste in music and typically know zilch about new or popular releases. I’m in middle school and my orchestra teacher has just announced that we’re going to perform a string version of the Coldplay song “Viva La Vida” as our “fun piece.”

Me: “Viva La Vida?”

Classmate: “I love this song! Do you know it?”

Me: “Nope. Never heard of the group, either.”

The teacher plays the song on her laptop. I’m excited beyond belief.

Me: “IT’S ‘FALLEN KINGDOM’!”

Classmates: *Pause* “What?”

It turned out that “Fallen Kingdom” was a parody of “Viva La Vida.” Geekdom strikes again!

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Multiple Choice Croissants

, , , , | Right | August 12, 2020

I’m working at a coffee shop inside a university. It’s exam season. Two girls walk in, looking pale and haggard and rubbing their eyes.

Girl: “Can I please get a coffee and a croissant?”

Me: “Okay! What size coffee?”

Girl: “Oh, yeah, [size].”

Me: “Anything in it?”

Girl: “Oh, sorry, [specification].”

Me: “And what kind of croissant?”

Girl: *Deflating* “Oh, my God… Plain…” *To her friend* “And I have to do an exam like this!”

Me: “Up all night studying?”

Girl: “Yes.”

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When You Room With Pigs…

, , , , | Learning | August 9, 2020

I am working a full-time job when I decide to get a university degree. My colleagues then regale me with some of their university experiences. One of them tells me this story.

Colleague: “I shared a flat with two other guys and we never really got around to doing the dishes. We would just pile them up in the sink and if we needed one, we would take the top one, wash it in the bathroom, and put it back on top of the pile after using it. One day, a friend visited and decided to help us out. He soaked all the dishes so we could then clean them. We didn’t, though, and everything became moldy and disgusting.”

Me: “And then?”

Colleague: “We just locked the kitchen door and never went back in.”

Me: “But what about when you moved out?”

Colleague: “I don’t know. They condemned the building and tore it down.”

I guess that is one way of getting out of doing the dishes.

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Pride, Painfulness, Cramping, And Soreness!

, , , , , | Learning | August 8, 2020

I teach karate. While there are younger students in my group, today, the class consists of students around seven years old. Seeing an opportunity for a deeper talk on our values, I gather them together. Our values are pride, patience, courtesy, and spirit.

Me: “So, what’s our first value?”

Student #1: “Pride!”

Me: “Yes, exactly! We need to have pride in what we do. This means we always do our best, no matter what. Can you tell me what our second value is?”

None of them can.

Me: “Okay, it starts with a P. P, p…”

After a moment of deep thought, one of them pipes up at last.

Student #2: “PAINFULNESS!”

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Math Skills! Ooh Ha Ha!

, , , , , , , | Learning | August 3, 2020

I am a private tutor. To make math more fun for my students, I often play a modified version of a Pompeii-themed boardgame with them during our lessons. For every question they answer correctly, they get a certain number of moves — depending on the question’s difficulty — to help their pawns escape the city, which gets increasingly consumed by lava as the rounds continue. For every wrong answer, they forfeit their turn and I get to move my pawns instead. The person with the most escaped pawns by the end of the game is the “winner”.

To try to instill a habit of always checking their work, I’ve also created a rule that if they don’t read over their steps or at least double-check the question again when they get to their answer, I get to just take one of their pawns and pop it straight into the volcano in the corner of the board. I am brutal with this and it has worked tremendously well; I don’t usually have to punt a pawn into a volcano more than once or twice before double-checking their work becomes an automatic process. 

I am playing this game with one of my fourth-graders — age nine. After giving him a two-digit multiplication question, I look over and check his answer once he’s finished — and double-checked!

Me: “You missed something in your addition there. Check that last column again.”

Student: “What do you mean?”

Me: “That shouldn’t be a zero. Check it again.”

Student: “No, that’s a nine!”

I take the whiteboard back from him, at which point I can see that he indeed wrote a nine, not a zero; I missed the “tail” of the nine from the angle I was viewing it from and the fact that he’d written the answer right on the edge of the board. But he got the right answer, fair and square.

Me: “Whoops, you’re right. It is a nine. Sorry, I thought that was a zero. My bad.”

Without skipping a beat, the student wordlessly takes one of my pawns off the board, and, without breaking eye contact, puts it straight into the volcano.

Me: “…”

Student: *Deadpan* “You didn’t double-check.”

Okay, kiddo. You win this round!

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