Category Archives: Conversation of the Night

Conversation of the Day: In Which I Earn the Right to Tell People to Get Off My Lawn

My student: And then my mom had to drive my car home from the mechanic, and she was all nervous about it.

Me: Because it’s a strange car?

My student: I don’t know why!  I told her, “Mom, it’s easy!  You just make sure your foot is on the brake and push the button.  And then make sure it’s turned off when you get out, because people have died of carbon monoxide poisoning otherwise.”

Me: …button?

(Tongue-In-Cheek) Conversation of the Night

Me: I love that you agree with me on everything [when it comes to opinions on Doctor Who and Torchwood].  It makes me happy. (beat) Because I’m right. (beat) And that means you’re right, too.

My friend: I like the way you worded that.  Because then if we end up on opposite sides at some point, you’ll have set yourself up on the “right” side.

Me: Well, of course I’m right.  If I weren’t right I’d change my opinion.

My friend: Wait, you’re not allowing for the possibility that you might be wrong?

Me: Of course not.  Why would I want to be wrong?  If I were wrong, I’d change my mind so I was right.

My friend: But maybe you believe . . .

Me: Pffffft!  Why would I want to believe something that wasn’t true?

The Mathematics of Comic Con: Conversations

My friend is ziptying frames of PVC pipe together to pack up the set pieces for our masquerade act.

Friend: I’m trying to make sure these don’t come apart. It’s a topology problem. There. Will those stay together?

::I pick up the frame pieces and shake them::

Me: Yup. (beat) Notice how I did that like an experimentalist rather than a theoretician. Instead of proving it was solid, I tested it.

That night, we are verifying we’ve pinned the backdrops correctly for our sewing-capable friend[1] to sew them. We are momentarily concerned because we’ve pinned the Velcro parallel to the direction of sewing rather than perpendicular to it.

Sewing-Capable Friend: Parallel is fine, as long as they’re all pointed away from the direction I’m sewing in so I can pull them out as I go.

::other friend and I look at each other::

Me: Did we do that?

Other Friend: Well, it’s a binary choice. Either we did or we didn’t . . . fifty-fifty chance . . .

Me: But the chance we did it right on all of them is more like one-half to the power of how many pins we put in—

Other Friend: True, except the probabilities for the rest of the pins were probably conditioned on the direction of the first, because I think we kept going in the same direction.

::we look at sewing-capable friend::

Me: Uh, we’ll check.

Later, when finding our car in the parking garage, which is structured with a concrete pillar every three cars:

Friend #1: Where did we park?

Friend #2: Well, I remember it wasn’t next to a pillar.

::everyone laughs::

Friend #1: Technically, that does diminish the possibilities by 2/3.

Me: Yes, but that 2/3 is a sieve across the whole parking lot, so it doesn’t actually limit our search area!

Just before masquerade, a regular con-goer approaches my friend, who is also a regular con-goer.

Regular Con-Goer: I hear your group this year is like . . . you guys, plus like five MIT people.

My Friend: That’s not entirely inaccurate.

  1. By “sewing-capable” I mean “massively ridiculously talented, and generously deigning to direct sewing-incapable peons like myself in ways we can help.” Just to be clear.

Conversation of the Night: All Hail the Singularity

Friend #1: “You’re so unique you only have one eigenvector.”

Me: “Yes, I’m a very singular person.”

Friend #1: ::Groan::

Me: “Are you groaning because it’s such a bad pun or because it’s technically mathematically incorrect?”

Friend #1: “BOTH!”

Other friend: “Wait, a singular matrix doesn’t have any eigenvectors.”


Other friend: “And isn’t it impossible to have only one?”


Conversation(s) of the Night: Highlights While Watching The Incredible Hulk

Bruce runs into a library . . .

Me: Don’t Hulk out in the library!  You’ll ruin the books!

My friend: You are such a nerd.

Tim Roth fires a bunch of grenades at the Hulk from about ten feet away . . .

Me: Come on, that’s not how impact grenades work!  You need a lot more distance to arm them; they won’t go off at point-blank range.

::I proceed to explain exactly how impact grenades arm to my friend while we make fun of the bad CGI::

Bruce says to Betty, “Remember when we were at Harvard and we participated in those experiments that induced hallucinogens?”

Me: Yes, because it’s so normal for students to participate in studies that induce hallucinogens.

My friend: What are you talking about?  That’s what I did all the time at college.  What kind of college is MIT anyway?

Me: I feel like some writer really wanted to say, “Hey Betty, remember when we dropped acid in college?” but then figured Bruce Banner wouldn’t do that.  Cue “studies that induce hallucinogens.”

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Conversation of the Day: A Silly Post to Start the New Year

As I help my roommate take down her Christmas decorations, she gives me the top half of the artificial tree.

My roommate: Okay, squish that together.


My roommate (who deserves a medal for putting up with me): No no, don’t Hulk squish!  Just . . . gentle squish.

Me: HULK SQUISH! . . . Hashtag This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things?

My roommate: Exactly.  See, this is why I can’t get a puppy!  You’d Hulk out on it.

Me: I wouldn’t Hulk Squish a puppy!  I like puppies.  Besides, I feel like that goes a bit beyond “Hashtag This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.”  It’s more like, “Hashtag My Roommate Is An Asshole.”

My roommate: You mean, “Hashtag I Don’t Have A Roommate Anymore.”

Me: . . . Touché.

Happy New Year, everyone!

p.s. — I will defend to the death my use of the word “hashtag” in conversation even though I mock people who say “LOL.”

Conversation of the Night

Me: I’m a good roommate!  You’ve never come home to find me having sex all over the apartment.

My roommate: That is true.  I have come home to find you doing . . . other things.

Me (sighs): . . . Okay, true, you have walked in on me doing math all over the apartment.

My roommate:  Yes.  Yes I have.