Monday, June 18, 2007

Pilot to Bombardier, Pilot to Bombardier

In my last college post, (no I won't link to it; it's like two posts down! Just scroll down you lazy sod!), I was talking about Econ 101. In the comments Dykewife mentioned statistics. Which reminded me of another story.

In order to get a liberal arts degree from UCONN back in the day, you had to fulfill a number of requirements. You had to complete a number of "W", or writing oriented courses. Generally these were English courses, and if you could read and bullshit, you were guaranteed a B. In fact, the last of these I took I forgot about the final exam, remembered while at a Xmas party, dashed over in the nick of time, and pulled a B+ while really pretty drunk. In short, W courses weren't a real challenge.

You had to have your tuition check clear, that was a big one.

And you had to take three "Q" courses. And pass them. While the "W" courses stood for writing, the "Q" stood for mathematics. Or calculations. Or something having to do with math that started with Q. Beats me. Math isn't my strong subject. But I still had to pass three of these. I actually did so poorly on my orientation math test that I had to take Math 101, which is like Math-For-Kids-With-Mittens-Taped-To-Their-Jackets. I showed up for one class, said hi to the basketball team, then went to my advisor du jour and said "Even I know this is a fucking joke. Gimme that test again." I passed it, transferred to Business Math 106, promptly failed it, and eventually passed Math 104. Woo-hoo.

The second course I took was Statistics 101. Clearly I was hoping it was the equivalant of Math 101, and we'd spend our time calculating points per minute played, rebounds a game, convictions a season, things like that.

No such luck. No, we had to do real math and draw graphs and find the likelihood of all sorts of things that I'm not even going to pretend to understand. I started the semester off with a low D and, through hard work and effort, and luck and a bell curve that would frighten Sylvia Plath, pulled a C+. Score! Then I promptly forgot everything I learned except one thing:

How to make a kick-ass paper airplane.

Can you see where this is going? Here's a question for you. Knowing what you know about me, what is the statistical likelihood that a combination of a paper airplane and yours truly are NOT going to disrupt a Stats 101 class by the end of this story? Discuss, and don't forget your graph.

Our class was taught by an excitable Indian professor, and was held in a large auditorium. There were two sections to the auditorium, the way back, where you could sit and drink and/or get high with relative impunity. And the front section, which was pretty large, but you could still hear. You couldn't drink either. Unless, for instance, you had a can of soda which you poured all the soda out of and then replace with booze, but I never did that.

In that class.

I would sit towards the back of the front section. While I couldn't drink, I could doodle, daydream, contemplate the rise and fall of ancient Atlantis, leer at girls, and make paper airplanes. I was a lot more succesful at the airplanes than with the ladies.

One day I had made a very nice, tightly folded little airplane. For some reason I crimped the back of each wing. At the end of class, I just flipped it up in the air. Nowhere in particular, just a little toss.

I then watched in increasing horror as that sumbitch soared high into the air, turned to the right, and nose-dived right toward the professor. It hit him right in the back of the neck. He jumped about 3' in the air and yelled "Who is the bastard that did that!?" only in an Indian accent and much louder than you think. Having a low D at that point, and a relatively clear conscience given that this was a freak accident and if I'd been aiming at him he would have been the safest person in the room, I kept my mouth shut. He ranted on for a few minutes, but seemed to have fully recovered by the next class.

The next class during which I was greeted by two people saying "hey. it's the Mad Bomber" I did not fulfill their fervent requests to "do it again."

15 Comments:

Blogger Syd said...

Excellent use of sumbitch. TLF would be pleased.

12:24 PM  
Blogger limpy99 said...

As I was writing "sumbitch" I though to to myself "Syd will love this"

12:50 PM  
Blogger Bruce said...

I was a Psych major in college, and statistics was one of the required courses. Well.... I won't go into a lot of detail, but suffice it say that I had no fucking clue what I was doing. At one point, my professor, whose name was Dick Seymann(seriously) asked everyone in class whether he should make lab mandatory. My response was "it doesn't matter to me, because I won't make a good grade either way." Guess what? I made a D-

1:15 PM  
Blogger Phollower said...

Gosh, college sounds hard. I'm glad I dropped out early and married a doctor.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

My statistics class was similar. Except that my instructor was a visiting professor from China and would slip into Chinese halfway through his explanations. We got through two chapters....basically, I can turn on my calculator.

My classes with the basketball team included "Sports in Film". Yea, we watched 'Rocky'. A lot.

2:09 PM  
Blogger eclectic said...

Mmmm. Shoulda stayed with the basketball team in Math 101. You could've totally set the curve and jacked your GPA up, man. Talk about lost opportunity!

2:59 PM  
Blogger Party Girl said...

Confession: As it was 15+ years since my last math class and math wasn't a strong subject 15+ years before, I was one of the kids with mittens taped to my coat when I was in Math 101.

Seeing as how I did a copy-cat of my high school math as I did college math (bare minimum and only what was required, nothing more) I will be taking stats in grad school.

I will also be taking it as either pass/fail or as an audit.

I'm not dumb enough to take it for a grade. If I do have to take it for a grade it may be a long time before I gradumatate from school.

10:30 AM  
Blogger limpy99 said...

Bruce, a D- still means you passed!

Phollower, yeah, well,...actually, I have no comeback for that.

Maggie, I would have thought "Hoosiers" would be the lead film in those classes.

Eclectic, Math 101 didn't count towards your Q course total. Unlike the basketball team, I planned to gradumatating.

PG, I'd give you some helpful hints to pass Stats, but I don't know any of them. Vaya con Dios!

1:04 PM  
Blogger Big Pissy said...

My husband teaches Stats at the local college and part time at a university.

I'll have to ask him if he's ever been hit in the head by a paper airplane during lectures. ;-)

7:39 PM  
Blogger dykewife said...

there's a very good reason there are program such as excel and such for creating the necessary statistical calculations for sociologists. because most sociologists aren't mathematicians. if i wanted to do math, i would've taken math classes. though i have kept my stats texts, notes and exams just in case...one never knows when they're going to stick that crap on as a requirement.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Sounds rather familiar. When I was at the University of Louisville grad school in social work, we were required to take a statistics course. (That was because we earned a “M.S.S.W” rather than a “M.S.W.” with than second “S” standing for “Science.”)

In one of the two statistics classes I was, uh, forced to endure, one of my fellow students explained our position to the professor with these words: “If we were any good at math, we probably wouldn’t be in a school of social work.”

5:18 AM  
Blogger Loops O'Fury said...

The hardest math I took in college was algebra. Yet when I took the GRE I scored higher in the math section. Not quite sure what to make of that.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Blondie said...

I never took statistics.
Lucky me, it seems?

10:13 PM  
Blogger tysgirl said...

Pilot to Bombardier, why hasn't limpy posted anything since monday....doesn't he know we need entertainment!

11:07 AM  
Blogger limpy99 said...

Limpy is kind of hungover Tysgirl. Let's use our inside voices shall we?

Blondie, no really, statistics was a great course. I use the knowledge I learned in there everyday. Or, to be more accurate, never.

Loops, I took Algebra and Algebra II in high school. That was more than enough for me. To this day, as far as I'm concerend "x is to y as z is to go fuck yourself"

Nick, sounds like excellent self-awareness on your fellow student's part.

DW, I gave all my notes from college to my brother. Not sure they helped, but I do think he avoided Stats.

BP, it's a hazardous occupation. You should buy him a safety helmet.

11:46 AM  

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