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Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Pink Joke

This post could alternatively be titled “My Sister is Gullible.”

So for those of you who don’t know the pink joke, or at least don’t know it by that name, the pink joke is basically a test of gullibility. The joke teller essentially makes up a story on the spot and just keeps telling it until the joke listener realizes there’s no punchline. Recently, my sister and I discovered a typed up version of part of the pink joke the one time I tried to tell it to her. I present it to you now, because it’s pretty funny for not being a real joke. I (as I tend to do) insert some parenthetical comments. For the most part, though, this is how the conversation went down:

Once there was this guy named Mark and he worked at this gas station. Mark loved burritos, but wouldn’t eat them ever because he was afraid of gaining weight. One day his mean ex-girlfriend Lola came into the gas station and started waving a burrito in Mark’s face and taunting him. Finally Mark was so fed up that he snatched the burrito out of Lola’s hand. Lola got mad and called her dad who was a police officer and said that Mark had robbed her. The police officer started chasing Mark, but then realized that all he had taken was a burrito. Mark didn’t realize that the police officer had stopped chasing him, though, and kept running until he reached Mexico.

Once he was in Mexico a mob saw him, but since he had a burrito they decided to give him a sombrero instead of being hostile to him. Then he ended up on a boat (ok, so I told this story awhile ago. I don’t remember WHY he got on the boat.). While in the boat he dropped his burrito overboard. When he didn’t have his burrito anymore, the mob became hostile again and through Mark off the boat. In the process Mark cut himself on a sharp piece of metal protruding from the side of the ship. Because of the cut, he was eaten by a shark when he fell into the Gulf of Mexico.

As it turned out the shark’s name was Leonard. Once he had finished devouring Mark he felt bad about eating the poor guy. So he went to a wise octopus and asked what he could do. The octopus sent him on a quest to scalp an elf, but first he had to visit some sea gnomes to make him a supershark suit so that he could walk on land. (My sister is now reminding me that apparently I had to come up with a reason why elves and gnomes are different. What I ended up telling her was that elves lived on land and gnomes lived underwater. makes sense…) So after acquiring his supersuit, Leonard set off, but was thrown off by a storm and ended up in China. While there he met a llama named Ferdinand and they decided to walk together to Ireland to find some elves. And then they were chased by a Chinese mob. And then they ran into the Great Wall of China. And then Leonard accidentally broke a hole in the Wall. And then a bunch of mythical Chinese women who had been holding up the Wall since it was built came out. And the women got into a fight with the Chinese mob.

And then in route to Ireland they got sidetracked in Italy where they encountered a crazy monkey named Uga Borba who liked to bite of people’s toes. And he has this whole backstory about his dad named Gordon (when I got to this part of the story, I had to stop for like a full 20 seconds to try and think of a name for the dad, under the pretense that I was trying to “remember” it. And the best I could come up with was Gordon…) Basically Gordon had a habit of biting of people’s thumbs, but one day decided not to. And oh my goodness I am getting tired of telling this story. Just as I was getting tired of telling Miranda the pink joke back when I initially conceived the story. And no, she never figured out there was no punchline. After like two hours of me talking, I eventually just gave in and told her the catch.

I say she failed the gullibility test.

So this is basically what I imagined Borba looks like.

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Finals Week: A Survivor’s Tale

I am only one of the countless students who have survived the horor known as finals week. And yet I will add my tale to what countless others have already tweeted and facebooked (we have verbed facebook, haven’t we?). Perhaps you’ve seen this lovely depiction that utilizes the awesomeness of polar bears to illustrate common feelings about finals week.

Yes. I got home from my last final today and slept for about two and a half hours. And then I lay in bed for about another hour, just because I didn’t want to move. What can I say except that I like cuddling with my stuffed animals Araynia and Archie way more than a text book. Anyway, I’m still in a recovery state, and not super capable of forming coherent paragraphs. Which means for this post we get to go bullet style. No rhyme or reason. Just stuff about finals week. Here we go!

  • I’m capable of coming up with some really, really bad mnemonic devices. I was studying with a friend, trying to memorize different symbols in the Book of Revelation. We were trying to think of a way to remember that the twelve gates represented the twelve tribes of Israel (as opposed to the twelve apostles). I suggested that since tribe and gate both have four letters it would be easy to remember. Yeah, tribe has five letters…
  • Sometimes bad mnemonics are actually more effective for remembering things. Laughing about my silly letter miscount was probably the most fun we had all evening, and therefor that was probably the most memorable thing we studied.
  • It’s really sad when laughing about that becomes the highlight of the evening.
  • I don’t normally get test anxiety. But I was so freaked out about one exam that I was having trouble sleeping the night before. In fact, during my tossing and turning I managed to be thrashing about so hard that I whacked my head on the wall. It’s ok though. Neither the thud of my head hitting the wall nor the moan that escaped my lips managed to wake my roommate up.
  • I can’t be completely sure, but I think the moan probably sounded more or less like what a dying wildebeest sounds like.
  • Probably I didn’t wake my roommate up because she wasn’t asleep in our room. She had fallen asleep in the living room while studying. Like so:

  • I frequently try to bribe myself with food. That’s how I convince myself to study.
  • I also tend to justify eating a lot more in general.
  • One night I was trying to bribe myself with food. I was planning to take a study break and get high on Koolaid before finishing my studying. I got home and was too tired to even make myself Koolaid.
  • Most of the funny things about finals week that I intended to blog about aren’t actually that funny now that I’ve gotten some sleep. That sort of you-had-to-be-there thing.
  • You know you’ve hit a bad point when doing dishes suddenly becomes a fun and anticipated break from studying.
  • I actually do kind of enjoy that camaraderie that comes from the shared misery of finals week.
  • Right now I’m procrastinating doing cleaning.
  • White boards make studying 47.3% more enjoyable.
  • Coloring is a great study break. Some people get really into and it and create lovely pictures like so:

  • Other people are like me. They intend to draw something nice, but are so beat up from finals they just end up scribbling anyway. Like so:

  • Quick, somebody analyze it so we can send it off to an abstract art museum.
  • There seems to end up being a lot of laughing about things that aren’t actually that funny during finals week.

To those of you still taking finals, best of luck. Meanwhile I’ll be enjoying my freedom. My mom asked if I was planning to do anything fun after finals. I responded, “Yes. I’m planning to not take finals.” At this point pretty much everything else is fun. My name is Kyra. And this is a true story.

I am not a grammar Nazi…No really!

Chris (you remember him from the hipster post, right?) gave me a clever way to start this blog post. And I totally forgot it. It was something to the effect of this post is about the survey I did not do for my blog. But it was actually funny when he said it.

So the story is that I’ve been going about administering a survey to various people for a class I’m taking. Quite a few times the people I was surveying asked if the survey was for this blog. The answer to which was no. And I was a little surprised that people were assuming I would do something like that for my blog. In general, I avoid putting that much effort into this thing. Anyway, it occurred to me that I could in fact post the results here. Moreover, it would be conveniently easy. And I like easy blog posts. Especially with finals around the corner.

Here’s the survey if you would like to take it:

1. The practice test will not ____________ your grade.

a) affect                      b) effect

2. Neither the students nor the teacher __________ averse to cheating.

a) were                       b) was

3. ___________ was the house sold to?

a) who                                    b) whom

4. _____________ they elect will be president.

a) whoever                b) whomever

5. If I __________ you, I would go to the game.

a) was                         b) were

6. After work, I like to _______ down and rest on the couch.

a) lie                           b) lay

7. I had just _________ down for a nap when the phone rang.

a) laid                         b) lain

8. She ________ her work out in front of her.

a) lay                          b) laid

9. He seems completely _____________ in going to the show tonight.

a) uninterested         b) disinterested

10. He laughs _____________ a hyena does.

a) like                         b) as

Answers: A, B, B, B, B, A, B, B, A, B

In the survey, I was looking to see if there were any particular areas that people struggled with. I was also looking to see if there was a difference between men and women. The results were about as I expected them. I did expect the women to do better, but realized in advance I would probably not be able to collect adequate amounts of data to prove anything. I thought (based on a statistics class I took in high school) that in order to achieve statistical significance I would have needed to survey many more people. Chris informed me that I would actually needed to have a longer survey with more usage items to prove women did consistently better. However, doing so would have made it much more difficult to find volunteers. And so the results stand where they are. Women did better, but not enough to prove anything.

These are a few of the things I heard quite a bit of as I was administering the survey:

“Lain? That’s a word?”

“But… this sentence is just wrong!” (About sentence #3, which ends with a preposition)

“Well that’s a dumb rule anyway.”

“Man, I thought I was good at grammar.”

“I will never correct anyone again.”

“Disinterested isn’t even a word, right?”

“Lie? But then it sounds like I’m telling a lie.”

“And that’s why I’m not an English major.”

Many people groaned. Many people gave a sort of humorless laugh when they looked at the first question. Many people expressed frustration. A few people argued with me. One person argued with me a lot.

And a lot of people seemed very concerned about how I would judge them. When I tell people that I study the English language, they often say something to the effect of, “Oh, well I guess I have to watch my grammar around you.” I promise though, I’m not into correcting people.

From a linguistic standpoint (and I do consider myself a linguist) there is no such thing as right or wrong. Good grammar vs. bad grammar is a game based on set of arbitrary rules created by some grumpy and overly opinionated dead guys from the 1700’s. True story. Now there is such a thing as conforming to a norm in order to communicate—especially since people do judge you based on your use of the language. That’s where editing and correction come in. Outside of that realm, I think anything that communicates works.

One reason not to be a grammar Nazi is that correcting other people leaves you open to correction. Most of the people who correct others have a limited scope of knowledge concerning grammar. They only know a few of the rules. But you can bet they’ll police the rules they do know to death. How many times have you been scolded for asking can you go to the bathroom as opposed to may you go to the bathroom. That’s a relatively easy rule, so many people know it and many people enforce it. How many times have you been called out for using who or whom incorrectly? Probably not much because only wackos like me actually know that rule.

Second, as I mentioned before the rules are pretty arbitrary. They change. A lot. Contractions used to be a big grammatical no-no. And I don’t just mean in academic writing. You’d never use them if you wanted to be taken seriously. Just like any educated person today avoids ain’t.

I think that maybe this post isn’t as interesting as I’d hoped it would be… oh well. I can’t be entertaining all the time. So I’ll sum up real quick. Constantly correcting others people’s grammar doesn’t do much besides make enemies. And almost always it will come back to bite you in the behind. Personally, I know that when I am corrected I watch the person who corrected me like a hawk, just waiting for them to make a mistake. And when they do make a mistake (and they always do eventually) I am at their throat with the full force of all 1232 pages of Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage. Obsessive? Maybe. But I really don’t like being corrected. And now end this less-interesting-than-desired post here with a fun picture I found and a few more results from my survey.

Question # Item tested Overall % Proficiency
1 Affect/effect 71.6 High
2 Subject/ verb agreement in correlative constructions 21.1 Low
3 Who/whom 57.9 Moderate
4 Who/whom 63.2 Moderate
5 Subjunctive 84.2 High
6 Lay/lie present tense 58.9 Moderate
7 Lay/lie participle 40 Low
8 Lay/lie past tense 73.7 High
9 Disinterested/ uninterested 74.7 High
10 Like/as 24.2 Low
Question# Correct answers: Women Incorrect answers: Women Percent correct: Women Correct answers: Men Incorrect answers: Men Percent correct: Men Difference

1.00

39.00

12.00

0.765

29.000

15.000

0.659

0.11

2.00

11.00

40.00

0.216

9.000

35.000

0.205

0.01

3.00

31.00

20.00

0.608

24.000

20.000

0.545

0.06

4.00

36.00

15.00

0.706

24.000

20.000

0.545

0.16

5.00

46.00

5.00

0.902

34.000

10.000

0.773

0.13

6.00

33.00

19.00

0.635

23.000

21.000

0.523

0.11

7.00

22.00

29.00

0.431

16.000

28.000

0.364

0.07

8.00

35.00

16.00

0.686

35.000

9.000

0.795

-0.11

9.00

39.00

11.00

0.780

32.000

12.000

0.727

0.05

10.00

9.00

42.00

0.176

14.000

30.000

0.318

-0.14

AVG

0.05

STDEV

0.10

Ok, I guess sometimes corrections can be funny.