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From Fire And Brimstone To Rainbows

, , , , , , , | Friendly | December 3, 2021

Back in college, there was a very loud religious advocacy group that would visit campus, set up their speakers, and “preach” the gospel to the students passing by. Now, I say “preach” because it was less “Glory to God who loves you!” and more “You’re all going to Hell because of who you are! Change your minds or burn!”

One such day, they set up right outside our performance center. It was obviously intentional, as a majority of the performance majors were part of the LGBT community, and the theater majors were not happy about having their space taken over. I had a class in the building behind the performance center, so I walked by the crowd gathering.

One of the advocates had a mic in one hand and was holding hands with a young woman I have seen in a few theater productions. The advocate seemed to be praying while the young woman stood there, half-smiling and nearly crying.

Advocate: “Lord, help this girl see the error of her ways! Help her, God, to see that her homosexual fornications are not what you want for her, but that she is here to bear children with a man, to love his family, to—”

Young Woman: *With a very dramatic tone* “Lord! You died for me!”

Surprised, the advocate shook her arm almost violently.

Advocate: “Yes… Yes, He did! He did die for you! The Lord loves you, child! Spread the word!”

The advocate passed his mic to the young woman, who stepped forward proudly.

Young Woman: “Jesus died for the gays! He loves us!”

There was a cheer from the crowd. The advocate dropped her hand and glared at her. I don’t know what he was trying to say because he was drowned out by the screaming crowd. The young woman took a bow and walked away. I went on my way to class, but when I came back, the advocacy group had packed up and left campus. They came back a few more times over the years and the message never changed, but I don’t think they tried to openly save anyone after that.

Comments About Babies From The Mouths Of Babes

, , , , , , | Learning | December 3, 2021

I’m volunteering at my church’s Vacation Bible Camp during the summer, leading the first-grade group. This mostly involves wrangling wriggly children and preventing them from knocking down intricate butcher paper decorations.

At one point, we have to wait outside one station while the previous class is finishing up. To keep the kids occupied, I start asking them about their plans for the fall. One kid pipes up.

Student: “What grade are you going to be in?”

Me: “I’m actually out of school.”

Student: “So, what are you doing in the fall?”

Me: “Well, I’m engaged, so I’ll be getting married this fall.”

Student: “Oh, so, you’re pregnant.”

Luckily, none of the other teachers in this very traditional church setting were around to hear, and I quickly corrected him, but I had to wonder what order these things typically happened in his family for a six-year-old to reach that conclusion!

Teacher Intelligence Exists On A Spectrum

, , , , , , | Learning | December 1, 2021

By the time I take psychology class in high school, I have already had a regular physics course and am now taking an advanced AP physics course. We have just gotten a test back that covered the senses and psychological effects on them. I go to my teacher at the end of the class.

Me: “[Teacher], you marked this question as wrong but I’m pretty sure it’s correct.”

Teacher: “No, violet light is a lower wavelength than red light.”

Me: “I’m pretty sure it isn’t. Radio waves have the longest wavelength; that’s why we use them for long-distance communication. Then, they get shorter, going up to infrared, followed by red light, up to violet, then ultraviolet and x-rays.”

Teacher: “That’s not what it said in the book.”

Me: “Regardless of what the book said, I’m pretty confident about wavelength; we’ve covered it numerous times in science classes. I could get [Physics Teacher] to check the question if you want.”

Teacher: “If you think the book was wrong, why didn’t you say something when you read it?”

Me: “I didn’t notice. I already knew plenty about wavelengths so I wasn’t paying as much attention to that section, and it always takes me half a second to remember which is shorter wavelength and which is shorter frequency. I probably wasn’t worrying enough about it to think through whether it was right or wrong while scanning over it.”

Teacher: “Well, we were testing if you learned by the book, so you need to give the answer in the book.”

Me: “But not if the book is wrong. I’m sure my answer is correct. I can get you proof if you want.”

Teacher: “It doesn’t matter. If you had a problem with the book, you should have brought it up before now.”

More than half a year later, it was the end of the year. During our last class, the teacher asked if anyone wanted to share their favorite and least favorite parts of the class. When it was my turn, I gave my favorites before moving on to my regrets.

Me: “My least favorite part is that you still don’t believe me that red light has a longer wavelength than blue light!”

Teacher: “Well, you’re in luck, then, because I believe you now.”

Me: *Hopeful voice* “Does that mean I get my point back?!”

Teacher: “No.”

Honestly, in the grand scheme of things, one point on a test hardly mattered. I still aced the class; it was quite easy compared to some of my other courses. But the sentiment of refuting the truth coming from a teacher has always bothered me.

What I found most confusing, though, was that supposedly, only one other person came to the teacher to refute the incorrect question, which implies most of the students gave the answer the teacher expected. We were all in our last two years of high school, so everyone should have had basic physics, not to mention chemistry and middle school science — courses where they learned about light. How could an entire classroom of students memorize the book’s incorrect answer without any of them realizing it conflicted with everything they had been taught previously?

Pikachu Deserves Extra Credit

, , , , , , , , | Learning | November 27, 2021

One day in March or April, one of my classmates comes to class wearing a full-body Pikachu costume. The professor is just as perplexed as all of us.

Professor: “Why on Earth are you wearing that?”

Student: “But [Professor], it’s in the syllabus!”

Professor: “Where is it in the syllabus that you should wear a Pikachu costume today?”

Student: “It says, right here, for today’s lesson, ‘Come in costume.’”

They show the professor a copy of the syllabus.

Professor: “So it does.” *Eyes go wide in realization* “Okay, ladies and gentlemen, this is why you don’t just copy the lesson plan from the last semester and change the dates without bothering to read it. When I taught this course in the fall semester, this lesson was on Halloween. I didn’t realize that was still in there!”

Have You Tried A Punching Bag, Instead?

, , , , , , , | Learning | November 19, 2021

I took Tae Kwon Do for several years until I left for college, and at the time of this story, I was either a belt away from my black belt or had just gotten my first Dan. I was studying Olympic-style Tae Kwon Do, which is more sport than defensive art. Its sparring rules are designed to encourage interesting fights to watch more than to teach practical defense. Because of this, a number of things that are practical in a real fight, like grappling and punching, are either illegal or unable to score points when sparring.

Recently, we had a new person taking classes: an old friend of the person who ran the dojo who already had a black belt and training in a few different martial arts. He was always trying to get people to agree to bend the sparring rules to allow things he was taught but aren’t legal in our sparring, like grappling or punching to the head. By itself, this wouldn’t be too big a problem, except he wasn’t very good at taking no for an answer and would try to use these techniques even when his sparring partner didn’t agree to change the rules. He only did it with advanced belts and did it infrequently enough that, while annoying, it never quite reached the level of his being properly punished. Being friends with the owner likely helped him, as well.

On the day of this story, more for fun than anything else, we were doing two-on-one sparring matches, with two lower belts against one higher belt. I was going up against our master’s friend and had been paired up with a young girl who had only been sparring for a little while and still had the hesitancy that is often seen in new sparrers. While in a real fight, two on one is a massive advantage given the rules and limits of sparring, and with my partner’s lack of experience or aggression, I didn’t think she would be able to contribute much to the match. That meant the fight would mostly come down to me versus my opponent, who was far more experienced, which meant we would almost certainly lose the match.

I was worried that my new partner would be intermediated if our foe started using illegal moves she wasn’t ready to deal with, so before the match started, I politely reminded him that we wanted to stick to legal moves only without any of the stuff he liked to add.

My opponent seemed to take this as a challenge; the very moment the fight started, he dive-tackled me and grappled me to the floor. Not only was this illegal, but it was also rather foolish, as it put him on the ground and tied up with me while my partner was still free. Rather than trying to break his grapple, I instead did my best to tangle his legs and arms up with me so he couldn’t get up and told my partner to start kicking him while was defenseless. He had just turned an almost guaranteed win if he had just followed the rules into a rather inglorious defeat at the hands (feet?) of someone barely experienced enough to be allowed to spar at all.

Luckily for him, my partner seemed to realize how unfair the situation was, and as I said, she wasn’t remotely aggressive, so her “kicks” were barely more than taps, more demonstrating the damage she could do than really trying to inflict harm. Despite this, I could see our opponent growing increasingly infuriated with every strike.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to keep my opponent tangled on the floor forever. Eventually, he managed to untangle himself and get up, at which point he went at my partner full force. He was clearly angry and not holding back nearly as much as an experienced black belt should against a newbie sparrer. I was honestly worried he would hurt my partner, so I rushed to get up and knock him away from her with a push kick so I could get between the two of them. Luckily, time ran out seconds after I’d knocked him away and the match ended before anyone was hurt.

My partner wasn’t badly hurt; he had landed a few very solid blows on her padding that winded her, but they didn’t cause any lasting harm. She was, however, terrified and upset at having been chased down and so viciously focused on, and I still wonder if he would have harmed her if it wasn’t for my intervention and time running out. As far as I was concerned, he had gone too far this time.

Despite being nothing more than a high school student, I went against my instincts and spoke to my master about his friend and my concerns after class was over that night. He agreed with me that his friend had pushed too far this time and told me he planned to have a “talk” with his friend. I don’t know what that talk entailed, but I noticed that the friend stopped coming to class not long after that.