Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How to Make a Snowflake Disappear in 60 Seconds or Less

His professor inadvertently caused
the rapture to occur.
The following message took place via SMS:

Student:  Hi!  I saw your tutoring ad on Craigslist and need some math tutoring.  Are you still doing tutoring?

Reply:  Yes, I am still available.  What is your availability?

Student:  Oh great!  I'm not taking any math right now but I am due to take a major test soon.  Can you help me?

cue Admiral Ackbar:  It's a trap!

Reply:  Sure.  Do you have a study guide for the test?

Student:  No.  I have no idea what will be on the test but would like to brush up on some topics.  My most recent math class was prealgebra at the local CC.

cue rhetorical question

Reply:  Okay, which topics do you need help with?

Student:  *poof*


  1. As the only professional astronomer working in the Central Valley of California, I get all the U.F.O. calls. As I tell students, be kind and respectful to these people, since 9 out of 10 of them have indeed seen something remarkable in the sky. I have yet to identify a definite alien spacecraft, though, but I don’t want to be caught napping when it does come in.

    (If I could definitely identify an alien spacecraft, it wouldn’t be a U.F.O., since U.F.O. means “unidentified flying object.” I’d just have identified it, as an alien spacecraft. I could point and say, “Alien spacecraft!”)

    For the remaining 1 on 10, be kind and respectful anyway. Many are poor souls who deserve gentleness.

    I will confess that I can be short with ones who think I have money I can give them (HA!), and who haven’t seen anything, they’re just trying to cheat me out of the money. An effective way to get rid of them is to point out that if I need to spend a substantial amount of time examining their photos or watching their video, I am going to have to charge a CONSULTING FEE.

    Every time so far, the next thing I hear is “CLICK!” It has never gotten far enough for me to name the fee.

  2. Love the Admiral Ackbar allusion. It is also possible to make snowflakes disappear via email.

    Student: Hey... I'm having trouble understanding the material. Can I stop by your office for some help.

    Reply: Dear Stu, Which material? I'm available tomorrow 10 to 11.

    Student: I guess everything you lectured on Monday.

    Admiral Ackbar: [voiceover] It's a trap!

    Reply: Have a look at the review powerpoint I put up on the course site today and try to come up with some questions about where specifically you're having the most trouble. We'll get through this. See you tomorrow.

    Student: OK, thanks.

    Cut to next day, 10:15 AM. I'm alone in my office getting caught up on grading.

  3. The whole figuring-out-what-you-don't-know thing is such a nuisance. Shouldn't proffies just be able to tell, by osmosis or ESP or something (maybe we need to find those aliens and hire them ourselves as consultants, Frod. But where we'd get the consulting fee ourselves, I don't know.)

    1. It depends on what they'll accept as payment. U.S. currency is just printed paper to them. If they want pure carbon or zinc, no problem. If they want pure gold or dysprosium, that's harder.

  4. The student engaged in enough conversation so that he could say, "I tried to get help from a tutor" then go back to playing video games with a clean conscience.

    1. No, I think the student was feeling EMH out for the chance he'd hire out as a ringer and take the exam for the student.

  5. I request payment in unobtanium. It's about that likely.

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