The Horror Known As Note-Taking

Taking Notes TimeWhat if I gave you a choice between walking through a pond filled with great white sharks or sitting in a room with twenty other teens, listening to the teacher drone on while taking notes?

I know that you’d choose the shark pond, mostly because you are less likely to die. I guarantee* that more people die of boredom while taking notes on a lecture than by being attacked by sharks, every year.

*Guarantee meaning that I want you to believe something. At least, that’s how they do it on infomercials.

Why are notes extremely dull and incredibly boring? Should they make this into a movie with Tom Hanks? Well, having experienced the horrible process of taking notes five days a week for a majority of weeks in the year for the last 8 years, I can tell you definitely that I don’t know. My brain’s ability to think on its own has been crushed. Maybe we can figure it out.

Notes start with one of three horrible utterances from the teacher’s mouth: “Class, take out your note books, please,” “Get out a piece of paper and something to write with,” or “Who here has either a pacemaker, an irregular heartbeat, or is pregnant? Federal law says I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

Then, you’ll actually get out your materials to take notes. Instantly, the flashbacks start, crushing your hopes that this time, notes might not be so bad. As you flip to the next blank page, you pass these memories: the illegible notes you took while half-asleep, the notes you took with your opposite hand for entertainment because your brain was about to go into a coma, the completely illegible notes you took while asleep, the twelve pages of notes you took in one marathon, the notes that stop in the middle of the page because your hand had a small seizure, etc.

This experience alone has nearly brought you to tears, and you haven’t even started taking today’s notes yet.

Right about now, the teacher has started their lecture. More often than not, they are reading off of a powerpoint slide that is also extremely dull and incredibly boring (Tom Hanks, I challenge you to make this more interesting…). You, of course, try to frantically get down all of the important info.

I have some bad news: you will never be able to write fast enough to take down everything your teacher says. You probably already knew this. Of course, being teens, that’s not going to stop either one of us from trying. What do they say about this kind of thing, again? Oh yeah: “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” Or maybe it was “Some things are not meant to be.” One of those two.

Eventually, your mind will slowly numb, and it will feel like the teacher’s words are reaching your brain through a blanket. Thankfully, your hand will still work, so at about this time you will start writing words that make no sense.

I don’t just mean these words make no sense as in you’re leaving out a lot of things, like
“1776. Washinton. Civil War. Depreson. Civil Rits…” I mean the words will make absolutely no sense, like “Purple. Made in China. ABCDEFGH. The name’s Bond. James, Bond.”

After about twenty minutes of this, your teacher will notice how deadly silent the class is. Sure, you’ve been silent the whole time, but in bad situations, a few of you may actually be dead. At this point, they feel it is proper to start asking questions and ‘involve’ the class.

Depending on your condition, you may or may not be able to answer the questions. The key is to be confident and, if you don’t know the answer, ask a scholarly question of your own. So, the average questioning session in a class usually goes like this:

Teacher: “Alright, class, now who can tell me what one of the causes of World War One was? Jimmy?”

Jimmy: “Well, maybe guns?”

Teacher: “That’s sort of close, Jimmy. But you should have had it in your notes. Let me see if you had it written d…’Blue Toothpaste?’ Jimmy, why is there all this gibberish in your notebook? ‘I’m afraid. I can feel my mind going. I can feel it. Dave…’ Jimmy, have you even been taking notes? Detention. For the rest of your life or until death, whichever comes last. What about you, Alexander? Do you have a cause of World War One?”

Alexander:

Teacher: “Hmm. Alexander appears to be incapacitated. Can somebody check his pulse? Thanks. Also wipe up that bit of brain trickling from his ear. How about you, Phil, or do you need detention as well?

[Me, using that brilliant strategy I mentioned above]: “Well, I was actually about to ask you a question: did the rest of the world passively watch as these causes of the war slowly came into being?”

Teacher: “GREAT QUESTION, Phil. Let’s examine that for a moment. Well, in eastern Asia you had…”

Thus, the teacher is diverted onto a new subject, and you can avoid detention. Sure, they might ramble on about that until the bell, but at least you’re done taking the actual notes.

Sadly, this is about as good as it gets, because note taking is as unavoidable as being buried every time you open your closet. The good news is, I’m pretty sure Alexander’s case was extreme. Things like that only happen once a week at my school.

Since you have to take notes, you probably want something to write with. In “The Great Pencil Debate,” posted at this time last year, you’ll learn what sort of writing implement meets your needs the best, whether it be a pencil, mechanical pencil, or spaghetti noodle.

4 Things You can do to Stay Alive until Summer

Funny drawing, of courseWell, the obvious first thing you can do would be to read this blog. I mean, I doubt we’ve ever lost a reader, having fewer than 200 so far, so statistically, if you read this blog, you won’t die.

Or maybe it’s that statistically, since we haven’t lost a reader yet (I think), everyone is more likely to die until someone actually dies. But since I want you to read this blog, let’s pretend that my imaginary friend sacrificed himself for our statistical chances of survival.

However, it is going to be tough from now until summer. Spring Break’s over. Snow days are hopefully over, unless your weather is really messed up (or you live in northern Canada and are reading this on you icePad or icePhone). Weekends, well, that’s barely even enough time to procrastinate from doing your English homework, let alone math and science homework.

So, in the interest of losing no readers this spring, I’ve compiled a list of tips scientifically proven to have no effect whatsoever on anything but what you might have for breakfast tomorrow morning (don’t ask me to explain; this gets complicated).

Get Enough Sleep

Sure, we’ve written about sleep a lot, but the fact of the matter is that if you actually need to read about sleep before you can sleep, you probably aren’t going to get enough sleep anyway. Real teens can sleep on command. The problem is that most teens decide they should be the ones commanding when to sleep, and, to put it nicely, most teens almost have the intelligence of an advanced kiwi (I’m sorry to say, in this instance, that I meant the fruit, not the bird).

Really, to get enough sleep, you need to just sleep. Whenever you feel tired, sleep, unless you’re in class. Doing homework? Sleep. Eating dinner? Sleep. Walking your dog? What do you think the answer is? (The answer is sleep. Unless, again, you live in Northern Canada, in which case falling asleep outside means you will get hypothermia and then freeze to death or get eaten by polar bears/penguins – I forget which one of those two is the species in the North).

Stay Nourished

We all know those procrastination marathons in the late weeks of May can be draining. However, don’t let your body get you down. To stay healthy, you need lots of vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, subwaybohydrates, antiteins, and, of course, water.

You can get the vitamins and minerals from rocks in your back yard (we all know this from science class), and all the other stuff comes from fruit, I think. To get fruit, you just need to eat/drink anything with fruit pictured on the packaging, because big corporations don’t lie. So, soda, fruit snacks (this even has fruit in its name), fruit roll ups, and fruit-y cereals are all good choices. As for water, well, ice isn’t too hard to find (especially if you’re in northern…never mind).

Stay Motivated

At some point, you’ll be questioning why. It may be why you have so much work, why school is boring, or why I never shut up. Either way, you’ll be questioning why.

To motivate yourself, remind yourself of all the good things that happen once summer starts. Wear tank tops instead of raincoats. Heck, wear swimsuits and just swim to school in all the rain we’re getting. It’s almost as good as the beach.

Look for the May Flowers

I’ll bet you’ve heard the saying, “Spring showers bring May flowers,” but have you ever actually looked for the May flowers? Do you realize how much enjoyment you’re missing?

So, what you need to do is see if you can find enough time, between sleep and eating rocks, to get to the nearest natural, undeveloped beach. Then, walk along the beach looking out towards the horizon. According to my history textbook, which has only been wrong about two things so far*, a May flower is a large sailboat filled with grim pills and pure tan people.

*The first error being the line “I bet, at some point, you asked yourself: what caused the erosion of this small but important stretch of the French coastline?” and the other error being the next line, which was, “Well, here’s the fascinating explanation…”

While there may be other things you can do (such as exercise, or relaxing, or running down the street with a big banner flowing behind you that says “HIGH SCHOOL HUMOR BLOG IS THE GREATEST!”) to increase your chances of survival, I feel that these are the main important things. Although that may just be because I am so sleep deprived that my opinions currently change faster than teenage fashions.

One place to sleep, is, of course, on the bus, but there are many other fun and amusing things to do on the school bus. Such as…well, you’re going to have to read “Wonderful School Bus Rides” if you want to find out.

The Essential Guide to 4 Common P.E. Sports

A dangerous situation in P.E.Sure, we’ve covered sports before on this blog, but there are two differences between P.E. sports and regular sports: first, that all teens have to take P.E., even though not all teens have to play high school sports; and second, all P.E. sports have been specially thought up to make jocks look good and make everyone else look, well, to put it kindly, like they are a bunch of chickens trying to swim in oatmeal.

(You can find spring sports here and winter sports here).

Why? I don’t know why. It’s certainly not the fact that most P.E. teachers are football coaches. Nor the fact that it’s hard to avoid looking like a chicken trying to swim in oatmeal when you’ve just been trampled by a 400-lb teen and are still trying to run in a straight line.

Maybe it’s because there’s a certain gene that is either jock persona or drowning chicken, depending on which form you get.

Regardless of the reason, knowledge of the sports that are involved can certainly help you, even if you’ve already taken P.E., to remember what sports were played in P.E. (otherwise, after that concussion you got, it’s going to be tough to remember what you were actually doing when you got the concussion).

Dodgeball

This is such a classic P.E. game that it’s not even funny. And I mean that truly. You won’t be laughing after a round of dodge ball. The first problem you have is ensuring you are on the same team as all of the football players. This rarely happens, especially if it is girl vs boy (and you’re a girl), sophomore vs freshman, a random division of people, or, worst of all, jocks vs all.

The next problem you have is avoiding actually getting hit with a ball. Thus, the name ‘dodge ball.’ You can dive, you can duck, you can jump, and you can do the Macarena, but the truth is, if you aren’t already a jock, you are going to get hit. So, you should focus all your efforts on getting hit in the least painful place possible, such as the calf.

You might think that dodge balls, being mostly air, can’t possibly hurt that much. I can tell you from personal experience that the last guy I knew who was this careless ended up needing a torso transplant. That’s right; he didn’t just need another heart or a new lung. They had to replace his entire torso.

Volleyball

Volleyball probably has a higher injury rate than dodgeball. With dodgeball, one or two people get totally flattened, but the rest of the group escapes fairly unharmed (this is because after the first person goes down, lying on the ground in pain, he/she becomes an instant easy target). In volleyball, everyone has to hit the ball at some point.

Not only are the volleyballs harder than dodge balls, you are supposed to hit them with the sides of your wrists, where you have approximately 0.00003 inches of muscle to cushion the blow. Imagine someone taking a baseball and whacking you again and again on your bone, and you’ve got the basic problem with volleyball.

To score in volleyball, one gets the ball to land on the other side without it being hit back. So, it is generally a good idea, if you want to win, to hit the ball over and then tackle whoever is about to hit it back.

Sure, while you might end up crammed in a P.E. locker, especially if you tackled a jock, you’ll have won the game, which is all that anyone cares about in P.E. anyways. And I hear that the P.E. lockers get cleaned once a month, so you can’t have more than a 30-day wait.

Touch Football

Once upon a time, one football coach/P.E. teacher decided that he could make football ‘legal’ for P.E. by removing the tackle part. However, as this coach obviously knew, if you ‘touch’ someone too hard, you can basically tackle them.

Therefore, to avoid death, or, worse, humiliation in front of your peers, you need to avoid ever coming close to the football. Offering to be the center is usually a good choice, because no one really touches the center in touch football. Plus, you can pretty much do anything after snapping the ball, including running down the street to the nearest 7-Eleven, if you’re fast, and nobody will notice.

Ultimate Frisbee

To do well in ultimate frisbee, you need to be able to predict random movements of a plastic disk that doesn’t even look like it should be able to fly while factoring in wind speed, wind direction, Frisbee spin, and the cloud of small gnats. Or you could just be a jock.

Otherwise, while you might be directly under the Frisbee the whole time, you will never be able to catch it. Ever. You might get lucky, and manage to touch it, by, say, getting hit in the nose, but a catch won’t happen. The best thing to do is wait for someone else to catch it, and then grab it right before their hand has completely closed.

When it comes to throwing the Frisbee, you need to remember two things. One, you throw it with a wrist snap, not a wrist twist (which sends the Frisbee to the ground faster than a falling satellite). Two, the 330lb (high school) football linebacker in front of you can, somehow, jump seven feet vertically and swat the Frisbee down.

Now that you know what’s played in P.E., the logical next step is either:
• If you’ve already taken P.E.: call up the doctor and tell him you figured out what you were doing when your head became two dimensional, or
• If you’ve yet to take P.E.: practice. But don’t practice these sports; if you’re not already a jock, it’s too late for you. Instead, practice dodging, hiding, running away, and being invisible.

Last year, we broke things up with a much shorter post entitled “A Practice ‘Safe Driving’ Test,” where we brought you a driver’s knowledge test to help you prepare for the real thing. Want to know what the two pedals in every car are? (The answer is not what you might have been told).