Archive for the ‘Schadenfreude’ Category

Skinned knee, bruised ego

I debated about telling you all, but then remembered that I usually hear the best stories from you all after I do something stupid.

I fell off my bicycle today.

I was on a busy street with a bike lane, but no parking. Sirens came from behind. I waited until they were close, then tried to get as close to the curb as possible. There was a big driveway, so I tried to go into it. But there was an inch curb. And I didn’t get the right angle.

I teetered. I tottered. My feet were on the ground, but I was still going forward. The whole scene was in slow motion with me wondering if the ambulance going by would have to come back for me. I thought I was safe. Then my ankle buckled and I fell.

I stood up, ignoring my scraped ankle and gouged knee. I got back on my bike and rode home. I knew if I stopped it would hurt.

Two little divots, my ego bruised the most, I cleaned the scrapes and covered them in neosporin. Then went to quiz night.

We didn’t win. Busted my ego even more. But now we have a secret dessert that can’t be found on the menu. It made me feel better.

So what is the worst thing to happen to you when you fell off a bike or bruised your ego?


sympathy—feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.
empathy—the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

A few months ago, I was playing a game. It required running up to another person, reading information off the card I carried and having that person tell me which person to go to next. The goal was to get as many “packets” through the “network” as possible.

At the end of the game, a guy came up to me and stated, “You are very empathetic.”

I asked why he thought that. He said I was the only one who played the game by memorizing the information on my card, holding my card so that the other person could read it while I spoke the information.

I said I did it because it would get me through the maze faster. And because some people are better at interpreting information they read, and others are better at hearing it.

He called me empathetic.

I was thinking about what he said while “walking the dog” this morning. While I was talking to The Archivist on a corner, we saw two bicyclists going through an intersection get cut off by a car turning right. She didn’t stop. She didn’t look. She was so focused on herself, where she was going, and what she was doing that she didn’t give a shit about anyone who was biking, or running, or “walking the dog”. I stared her down as she drove by and yelled, “Yeah, ’cause waving is going to make it all better, fucker!”

I run into these people a lot while “walking the dog”. And I understand that they are probably late to work. Probably by their own doing, although they happily blame their alarm clock or some other physical device rather than their ability to understand their own waking patterns and adjust for them.

She is the reason why, when I’m driving, I stop at the intersection before the crosswalk. I look both ways, then inch my way into the crosswalk if I think I can make a right turn without blocking a pedestrian or biker. She is the reason that I don’t turn into the bike lane to make a right turn unless I’m sure I’ll get through before a bicyclist shows up. She is the reason I have to anticipate people like her when I’m on a bicycle or running. She is the reason that when Perl and I are at the entrance to the complexes, I make sure the coast is clear before walking across.

But sometimes, we get halfway across and some jackass comes speeding up. If they were driving the speed limit, Perl and I would be safely across before they reach the entrance, but because they aren’t, I’m usually hidden from their view by redwood trees. So I quickly move Perl to my left side so that if they don’t slam on their brakes and stop in time they will hit me instead of Perl.

I do it because I want to save Perl. But not all my intentions are good. I also want them to hit me instead of my dog because I will make a bigger dent in their wallet. Maybe they will feel that, since they don’t feel empathy.

Resume driving

I had planned to ride my bike to the DMV this morning to renew my license. But just before I fell asleep I remembered that the DMV would take a new photo. Have you ever seen an Irish girl exercise? My face gets bright red and I look like I’m going to die. And then I would have had a line on my head from the bike helmet. And I would have had bed/bike hair because I wasn’t going to shower until I arrived at work. So I devised a new plan.

I had a friend drop me off at the DMV after I showered, straightened my hair, and put on some makeup. I even remembered to wear green for St. Patrick’s Day. But I had stopped at Starbucks. There was a sign on the door of the DMV stating that food and drink was not allowed. Last thing I needed to do was to piss them off, so I sat outside and downed my vanilla latte.

I received my number, G057, and filled out my driver’s license renewal form. I started the time count when I sat down. 9:30 am.

I was going to do work, or read a book, or check my RSS feed, but the eye charts hanging in the middle of the room reminded me that if I read I would not be able to refocus and read the charts as easily. I also didn’t want to look cross-eyed in my photo. So I waited.

The numbers went by quickly. I started to get nervous. My palms were sweating. My breathing labored. I was so excited for my number to be called that I wanted to yell out, “BINGO!”

“Number G057 to Window 13.” I didn’t yell out BINGO, but I did ask Window 13 how often that happens. She said that it happens a lot and scares the shit out of them. People who yell BINGO do it loudly. And the DMV gets terrorist threats. So the workers jump when it happens. Now I’m glad I didn’t do it. They’ve only ever been nice to me. It helps to smile and be pleasant with people who have to deal with angry customers all day.

It also helps to have a unique middle name. She read it on my application and laughed. I explained how it gets me out of trouble with Customs all the time too. She understood why. It helps to break the ice. I highly recommend giving your kids unusual middle names.

I completed the eye test. She asked if I wear contacts. Yes, but only one, so can I get half credit? She laughed again. I bet her that she didn’t expect me to be this strange when I walked up. She politely answered with a smile.

I paid, and she sent me to the picture line. Naming two lines ‘C’ and ‘D’ isn’t good for people who don’t speak English well, or for that case, anyone. They are hard to distinguish when yelled.

My time with The License Photographer was brief but pleasant. I smiled and he said it would be quick and painless. I adjusted myself. He asked me to remove the sunglasses from the top of my head. He took my signature, my thumbprint, and my soul in the form of an inch by an inch and a half photo.

And I was done. Out in 35 minutes.

Et tu, Brute?

I just realized that yesterday was the Ides of March. Everything is so clear to me now. No wonder the world was out to get me!

Now if you will excuse me, I have to bike to tutoring now since I can’t drive with an expired license…


Rode my bike to work this morning.
Realized I forgot my phone when I got out of the shower.
Was checking my email when I got the reminder to sign up for the golf league.
Shit, forgot my checkbook.
Called fitness center and left voicemail to find out if they take credit cards.
Waited for them to call back.
No, they only take checks.
And they only have 5 spots left.
Got new kid to drive me to bank.
He drives slower than my grandma.
Meme is a speed demon.
Arrived at the bank.
Asked for a cashiers check.
They asked for my driver’s license.
Then they asked if I had a valid drivers license.
It expired on my birthday.
I said thank you for noticing because I wouldn’t have found out until I was pulled over.
I said it was good I rode my bike to work today.
And had new kid drive me here.
They decided to ignore the expiration this one time.
Then I ran out with the check and told new kid to get back in the car and hurry!
I hoped the bank didn’t hear me yell, Go, Go, Go!
Arrived at the fitness center.
I ran inside with the check.
Only three spots left.
I signed us up.
They asked for my partner’s birthday.
I don’t know.
Wait! I went to her birthday party yesterday!
Do you know what year?
Um, do you have a periodic table of elements?
I just turned Krypton.
No Superman for me.
Maybe 27?
Do you know her email address?
I forgot my phone.
When I biked to work.

The day was going okay

I woke up early. Showered and even shaved. I know that is too much information, but it is easy to forget in winter. I walked the dog. It was quiet and sunny and a perfect day. I found some gift cards and coupons and headed out. Bundled up, I put the top down on the convertible. Stopped at Starbucks for a vanilla latte. As I was leaving, my phone rang. I pulled into a parking space and unplugged the phone to answer. This resulted in the unfortunate photograph after uprighting the now empty coffee cup.

At least I was entertained by my nieces singing me happy birthday.

Answer to the puzzler

So there seems to be a couple different answers to this question

Three coins, a nickel, a dime, and a quarter, are flipped. It is revealed to you that one coin is heads. What is the probability that the nickel is heads?

It seems to depend on how people interpreted the question. The most popular is

Three coins, a nickel, a dime, and a quarter, are flipped. It is revealed to you that at least one coin is heads. What is the probability that the nickel is heads?

At which point the popular answer is 4/7. There are 8 possible outcomes to flipping three coins. One of those 8 is all tails, which is ruled out by saying “at least one”, and thus, there are only 7 possibilities. Out of that, 4 outcomes have the nickel as heads.

Another popular interpretation is

Three coins, a nickel, a dime, and a quarter, are flipped. It is revealed to you that only one coin is heads. What is the probability that the nickel is heads?

At which point, there are only 3 possible outcomes and nickel being heads is one of them, and thus, the probability is 1/3.

The popular way this question is read by software engineers is as follows.

Three coins, a nickel, a dime, and a quarter, are flipped.
It is revealed to you that one coin is heads.
What is the probability that the nickel is heads?

In this interpretation, the only pertinent information is what is actually in the question, “What is the probability that the nickel is heads?” At which point, the answer is 1/2. If the question was worded like this,

If three coins, a nickel, a dime, and a quarter, are flipped and it is revealed that [at least one | only one] of them is heads, then what is the probability that the nickel is heads?

then it would have been either 4/7 or 1/3.

But then just to throw a wrench into the whole thing, someone with a Math PhD says the answer is 2/3. And here is the proof.

(N=H) =
P(N=H | coin revealed was a Q) P(coin revealed was Q)
+ P(N=H |coin revealed was a D) P(coin revealed was D)
+ P(N=H | coin revealed was N) P(coin revealed was N)

= (1/2 + 1/2 + 1)*(1/3).