Wednesday, November 9, 2011

But I can't do Dimensional Analysis that way!

Sitting in the Tutoring Center, grading papers...  I must share this brief episode of misery with you all.

One of the Work-Studies there is a future nurse (hereafter referred to as FN).  She was leading a study group through a dimensional analysis problem.

Convert 250 mg/hr to gtt/min  (not really sure what gtt means, but its not really relevant anyway).

FN:  You know how some teachers set it up with the fraction bars?  I can't do it that way.  I do this instead.

She then drew this table on the board:

250 mg
1 g
250 mL
10 gtt
1 hr
1 hr
1000 mg
1 g
1 mL
60 min

EMH:  Sorry for butting in but, um,... hmm... you know, if you erase the outer rectangle and the vertical bars, you can get the way it is set up with fractions:

FN:  Well, I'm just going to do it my way!  Unless you want to come up here and explain it instead...

EMH:  I would just be erasing things...  Not much of an explanation really.

Probably should have minded my own business, but it just really got to me how retarded she seemed to be acting. 


  1. EMH, this is very funny. I'm sorry there is such misery in the tutors own backyard.

    I know I mention this a lot, but I must persist: please keep an eye on the use of "retarded." It's an extremely offensive word. I may be more in tune to it because I have a mentally challenged sibling, but it really is similar to calling something boring or stupid "gay." Except in some ways it is worse, considering the history of the way people with mental challenges have been treated in this country in terms of locking them up, forcibly sterilizing them, evicting them from homes and jobs, etc.

    That is all.

  2. gtt is from the Latin "guttae" meaning drops.
    10 drops in 1 mL

  3. EMH you have remarkable restraint. I would not be able to stop myself from saying something like: How the HELL do you think you're competent enough to be hooking up IVs or otherwise administering meds. Gawd forbid this moron ever have to catheterize someone.

  4. What a winner of a tutor. You really are very kind to keep an eye on the developmentally challenged.

  5. This anecdote takes us back close to two decades. I was an undergraduate tutor assigned to General Physics I. The prerequisites were HS algebra and HS trigonometry. Bobby had to kick something, or shoot something, or spray something, but the bottom line was, it had to go as far as possible before it hit the ground. The answer was 45 degrees. Everyone knows the answer is 45 degrees. But the question asked that fact to be informally proven using a few given, simple, already differentiated equations (no calculus prerequisite) and the definition of sine.

    I didn't have a FN, I had a FD (that's right, doctor. A fucking premed.) She didn't want to transcribe the diagram, with already resolved vectors, from the question into her work space. She agreed to transcribe part of it. The kicker, or the hose or whatever the fuck it was. But not the triangle. Not the resultant vector. But, with vehemence, definitely not the triangle. You could almost picture Fred Savage doing this with Daniel Stern narating "something about a triangle?". The triangle was out of the question and would not be employed in the solution of this problem. FD didn't want to do it "that way". She couldn't do it "that way" but in case she could do it "the other" way. She was sure, and insisted that there was "another" way to do it.

    At 20 years old, I wasn't going to assume that not knowing another way meant, irrefutably, that another way didn't exist. So I carefully expressed that I could be wrong, but I didn't think there was another way. It was all downhill from there:

    FD: go find out.
    WotC: ?
    FD: Go find out.
    WotC: ?
    FD: The other way. Go find out what the other way is.
    WotC: I don't think there is another way. I can show you this again.
    FD: No. I want to do it the other way.
    WotC: Find out from whom?
    FD: The professor.
    WotC: ?
    FD: Find out the other way and then tell it to me.
    WotC: ?
    FD: Find out.
    WotC: What do you mean, like go ask a professor how to do this without drawing a triangle?
    FD: [makes 'duh' face]
    WotC: It's like 3 hours later than anyone is ever here.
    FD: Well this is a library [duh-face]
    WotC: ?
    FD: Look in one of those books for the other way.
    WotC: What other way?
    FD: The way without the triangle.
    WotC: You have to use the triangle.
    FD: No I don't! There's another way!

    Then the humility I previously thought was wise, flew out the window.

    WotC: Then show me.
    FD: ?
    WotC: I don't know another way, but apparently you do. So show me how to do this without the triangle.
    FD: You're the tutor. You're supposed to know!
    WotC: Am I supposed to know the meaning of the poem the pegasus recited you in your dreams last night too? What amount of crap you wish for am I, as the physics tutor, "supposed to" know?

    Then the grandfather clock in the library struck 7 PM and I told her there was no tutor again until 8 PM and left it to be the next guy's problem.

    The next guy was my best friend. He said the first 20 minutes of work were listening to her talk about what a bitch I am and how I'm so stupid I don't even know 'the other' way. This guy is now an internationally known cosmologist who I am almost certain has asperger's syndrome. She fared worse with him.

    I saw her name in the alumni magazine. She's some kind of "healer" and the picture involved a tambourine and an owl.

  6. "Bobby had to kick something, or shoot something, or spray something, but the bottom line was, it had to go as far as possible before it hit the ground."
    Oh Wombat, you just made me cry laughing.

  7. don't want to sound idiotic, but you don't need any "triangles" to find that the optimal angle is 45 degrees [three equations for x, y, and Vy - get rid of time and find x]. Just saying.

  8. @ WOTC,

    Sounds like the Reverend Doctor (or her daughter for that matter).

    All of my conversations with the Reverend Doctor end up going that way. Interestingly enough, she too is very much in to the new age stuff and claims to feel the energy radiating from crystals.

    She told me that if you use a crystal, you WILL be healed of whatever is making you sick. She then asked me to make a pouch for those crystals (I crochet).

    One night, her daughter had a kidney infection and they were complaining about not having health insurance. "Use a crystal!" I said.

    She didn't appreciate that, for some reason.


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