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2011 April

The Worst Type of Homework

Written HomeworkBeing a teenager, I spend a lot of time doing homework.  Okay, that was an understatement.  Being a (pause read a chapter of Shakespeare) teenager, I (pause, write about that chapter of Shakespeare) spend a lot (pause, do the vocab for that chapter of Shakespeare) time doing home-(pause, go back in time and kill Shakespeare)-work.  That’s only natural, though, right?  Babies cry, eat, and sleep; then Toddlers whine, eat, and sleep; then Children throw tantrums, eat, and sleep; and then Teenagers complain (about homework), eat, and do homework.

We get lots of homework-I’ve made that clear.  What you might not understand, though, is the number of different types of homework assignments teenagers are given.  Homework can be anything from writing a paper about mercantilism to using the quadratic formula to ransacking the fridge (if you are good at manipulating directions like I am).  Some homework can be completed on the computer.  This is the good kind, because a computer helps speed up the rate at which a teenager can find something entertaining to do instead of homework.

The homework that cannot be completed on the computer, though, is horrible.  This requires a pencil and forces one to think instead of letting one’s pet hop around on the computer keyboard for twenty minutes to complete the assignment (unless you have a fish, which is great; when placed on a computer keyboard, fish flop around twice as much as any pet, and can cut your homework time in half).

The worst sub-category of the written homework is the type with the question and a pre-defined space for you to answer it.  It makes you look bad if you do not fill up the lines, but often the amount of black lines delegated to the question makes no sense.  For example, a question like “How are proteins made?” might have two lines under it, while something like ”Was Watson and Crick’s laboratory painted puce or muddy green?” would have lines filling the rest of the page.

While a few solutions might include threatening/bribing the all-powerful guy who decides (using dice and the stock market, along with a complex algorithm) exactly how many lines to give each question, the only other solution I have found is to restate the question numerous times.  So the above example would be something like: Watson and Crick’s laboratory, or Crick and Watson’s laboratory, was painted muddy green, that is, to say that it was the color of muddy green, and that the color had been applied by paint, to the walls of Watson and Crick’s, or Crick and Watson’s, laboratory.

The Great Pencil Debate

Three writing implementsIt has come to my attention that a schism has once again split high schoolers.  The topic, like in any great schism, is profound and difficult to understand.  However, I can attempt to sum it up in four words: mechanical pencils, wood pencils.

Many of you may not know what one of those types of pencils is, so let me explain it.  A wood pencil is a round, column shaped object used for writing, with a stick of graphite in the middle and a pre-hardened useless eraser on the end (for convenience).  I’m sure you know what a mechanical pencil is.  If not, you need to understand that it is different from a regular wood pencil.  There are many fierce debates on which type of pencil is better, similar to the debates on whether or not school food is worse or better for you than what you’ll find in a freezer aisle.  Here’s the bulk of each side’s arguments:

The Regular Wood Pencil

It’s a classic, which is great; however, this means that it spends a lot of time marketing a 21st century image (Pre-sharpened! Durable! Versatile! Triangular! Erasable! Writes!).  Its other image is of a strength tester, so people are always breaking it with their head, hands, or nose (I wouldn’t recommend this).  Therefore, I feel the marketing should be more along the lines of “Has a cousin in the Mob!” or “Will prosecute injury claims!”

One of the drawbacks to the wooden pencil is that it needs to be sharpened.  Carrying around a sharp metal blade and leaving piles of kindling behind can solve this, but it can be a pain to sharpen.  The electric sharpener was invented for this reason, but those usually sound like someone is torturing their pencil with a blender, leading to negative public image.  Also, the lead breaks at the most inconvenient times-just when you need it most.  When you are taking a test, for instance, or when you just need to finish the unibrow of some magazine model.

There are positives as well, though.  One of these is the fact that with a wooden pencil, it’s obvious it’s a pencil.  It doesn’t look as if you are carrying around some sort of blowgun, per say, although a blowgun is very handy when taking notes (usually it helps persuade the rest of the class that they should wait for you to finish before moving on).

Another positive is the fact that it is made of wood.  Not only does this mean you are allowed to take it on an airplane, but that it leads to an increase in de-forestation.  While that is generally bad, I figure that with no trees, there can’t be tree-huggers (unless they wanted to hug a pencil.  You know, “Pre-Sharpened! Extra Huggable!”).

The Mechanical Pencil

This is widely accepted as the fancier pencil.  In fact, it can be disguised as just about anything, from a pen to a piece of spaghetti (not to say that this exists, just saying that this is possible.  The reason it doesn’t exist yet is because you readers aren’t putting out enough of a market demand for spaghetti-looking writing implements.  Work on that, please.  Or you could simply start writing with spaghetti and marinara sauce, and I’m sure it will then become a mechanical pencil; they even have mechanical pencils that look like, you guessed it, regular wooden pencils, all because people liked the look).

The trade-off, though, is the difficulty level.  While it has been widely accepted that even pre-schoolers have the motor control to use a sharp blade and manually carve their pencils, many people can’t seem to understand how to operate a mechanical pencil.  It is these people whom I’d recommend choose spaghetti instead, to fairly represent their intelligence among the general population.

Mechanical pencils are reusable, though, using graphite sticks that can be replaced.  This is a positive for the environment (unless the manufacture of these tiny, less-than-an-ounce graphite refills causes massive pollution due to transportation and packaging) and for people who are always losing their pencils.  This means that even if you lose your pencil, you can still try to write with a graphite stick with the diameter of an anorexic earthworm.

Lastly, these types of pencils usually come with a clip, just like a pen.  This way, the 6% of the population that still actually uses those pockets on t-shirts for writing implements (and not, say, for small mammals like the rest of the population) can carry around both pens and pencils instead of just pens.

Both pencils have arguments for and against them, so it can be difficult to come to a decision.  I’d recommend throwing darts at the pencil aisle of a store and seeing which packages get stuck with a dart.  Then I’d choose the packages that weren’t hit with a dart, because nobody wants “Holey!” pencils.

Wonderful School Bus Rides

Inside view of school busThe average school bus could keep a psychologist occupied for a year.  I’m not sure why, but it seems that being on a school bus brings out the ‘weird’ in people.    Maybe it is the yellow color, the old, musty, leather seats, or even the fact that there is no seat belt to keep people’s brains connected to the rest of their body during transit.

The morning ride isn’t so bad.  It’s dark out, and nobody’s awake enough to use more than a few organs at a time.  Lots of people sleep, unless you are unlucky enough to be on a field trip bus.  Then there is always the one person who feels a need to shout, “I’m so excited!” in case you missed it the first few times, just as you are finally able to fall asleep.  One of these days, I plan to work up the courage to shout back, “I’m so worried for your near-future safety!”

However, on those daytime bus rides home, things can get a little more interesting.  For one, it is light outside, so you can see the interior of the bus.  While this might not seem immediately pleasant, you should realize that this allows for a new form of entertainment: picking at the gray duck tape on the back of the seat in front of you.  See, it is incredibly entertaining to the teenage brain to slowly peel it back, only to return it to its original position at the end of the ride.  The tape is originally placed there when someone pokes a hole in the seat, to prevent the from-concentrate stuffing from falling out.

Frankly, I think the bus drivers should simply put the tape on the seats before the holes are poked; this would save the students the trouble of poking the hole in the seat to let the bus driver know that they would like some tape to play with.  At the very least, the system should be updated to the airline standard.  I mean, when I want a drink, I don’t cough until the person next to me gets up and leaves (to hide in the bathroom for the remainder of the flight, convinced that I am dying of an exotic lung disease) and wait for the flight attendant to ask if I’m thirsty.  There is a button for that, at least.

Enough about tape, let’s talk about windows.  What I believe happened is that the US patent office accidentally set fire to every window function patented, from sliding to pushing up or out.  Without these patents, people forgot how to make windows.  Therefore, the bus manufacturers were forced to find the most inconvenient way to open windows possible, to ensure that the patent office set fire to the patent immediately instead of waiting around for a few years.  That’s why one must stand up, use both hands to push in the two buttons, and pull down to open a window, finding precise holes for those buttons.  Also, to make sure people learned to use the windows, school busses always made the temperature too hot or the air too stuffy.  Of course, when you get off the bus, the driver asks you to close the window, because he doesn’t remember how.

I’d also like to know what the bodily fluid clean-up kit is for.  I’ve never seen anyone bleed so massively that they required more than a band-aid.  I think that it is a bunch of sweat bands, for sweat, so when the bus breaks down on that one day where you have a gazillion things after school and can’t change your schedule, not even by a minute, you can lean, grunt, push the bus from behind while avoiding the indignity of getting sweaty.

There are a number of other features I could talk about, but I’ll pick the outside of the bus.  The little yellow thing that extends from the bus when it stops is the modern version of a train’s cattle catcher, or pilot.  If livestock gets in the way, or the stray pedestrian, the bus can push it out of the way and continue driving at the pace of snail on crutches instead of stopping (wouldn’t want the bus to slow down the cars behind it, now, would we).

Lastly, I’d like to point out how brilliant “Unlawful to pass while red lights flash” is.  Not only does it tell you the literal meaning, I feel that it is also a metaphor, something along the lines of how one should never try to go around problems on the road of life, but rather wait patiently for solutions.  With that deeply philosophical statement, I must leave to protest the government, for I just learned that federal budget cuts may lead to a decrease in available gray duct tape.

A Practice “Safe Driving” Test

How many of you could still pass the driving quiz today?  Want to find out? Of course you do.  Having just taken it myself, and passing, I have compiled a sample driving quiz for you readers.  Be warned: I am now allowed to drive with a responsible adult in the vehicle (Draw conclusions of how I might drive based on this piece of writing).

The most common cause of a crash with a construction worker is:

A)   Anger towards the color orange

B)   An attempt to skew the ‘most common cause’ statistic by reversing over the worker while texting with your eyes closed

C)   The construction worker getting too involved in Doodlejump

D)   Movie stunts

If you see this sign, you should:Truck Sign

A)   Beware of triangles that may randomly pop out of the road.

B)   Avoid using your brakes and coast down the hill

C)   Look for a sign with a truck on top of a square for a bingo

D)   Use the Pythagorean theorem to calculate the likelihood of a truck crashing into you

When turning left, always remember to:

A)   Notify close friends that you have turned liberal

B)   Look up to avoid low-flying helicopters

C)   Take a short nap to refresh yourself

D)   Hit the stop sign for a bonus of 600 XP

The Gas pedal is one of two pedals found in every car, the other is:

A)   The ejection pedal

B)   The bike pedal

C)   The nitro-nuclear-fuel-boost pedal

D)   All of the above

E)    Other

Well, the correct answers will not be given, because I risk angering at least a few readers with them.  However, I would suggest you study (and I’m sure an acceptable form of studying is reading this blog).