Written by David Vogel Wednesday, 20 June 2007 09:46Earlier today I was browsing Internet news articles in hopes that some sort of current event would be worth writing about, and picking lint out of my computer mouse.
I have to pick lint out of the mouse periodically because lately I have been getting sneezing fits in the morning, which causes the need for a Kleenex-like tissue, but because whoever is in charge of inventory at my house is too cheap, I have to use a roll of toilet paper, which sets off a fine powder every time I rip off another square.
(I’m not completely sure if the ration of words-to-commas was acceptable in the last sentence.)
This dust sort of ends up coating my entire desk, and residue eventually builds up in the crevices of my computer mouse.
So as I was digging around with a mechanical pencil, I was also absentmindedly flipping through various pages on Google News just to see what was up in world events. (Answer: gas prices.)
Among the more notable news pieces is that Paris Hilton’s stay in jail is apparently benefiting other women prisoners in the way of shampoo, extra blankets, and plenty of cookies, because the guards don’t want to be accused of playing favorites.
But that’s a whole other topic. In fact, I’ll leave it to some cheap supermarket-checkout-line publication.
However, there was a more serious article that caught my attention. “Some common birds not so common anymore,” the headline read.
I started reading it because of a recent run-in (quite literally, as I will elaborate later) with some sort of common bird.
Apparently the populations of 20 familiar American backyard birds, including various brands of sparrows and meadowlarks, are declining.
As for the reason why these birds are fading out, the article blamed events such as climate change, agriculture expansion and the spreading the West Nile Virus.
But I have my own theory: math.
Please, let me explain.
My mind works in a way so that if I know that I have any sort of work or obligation unfinished, I will not be able to enjoy anything until I have completed it, so that I know it is not hanging over my head.
This is why I spent my entire spring break working on a history project, instead of doing other more exciting things such as watching afternoon talk shows.
So as summer rolled around, I was looking forward to having completed an entire year of schooling, and being rewarded with three months of rest and relaxation.
What happened was, my parents suggested that I take an online course of College Algebra over the summer so I wouldn’t have to worry about it at some other completely inappropriate time like, say, college.
My initial opinion was, no, I do not want to spend my summer in a book dissecting formulas for parabolas and deciding whether all real numbers are a function of the equation. (Answer: beats me.)
But then my quasi-psychotic subconscious began kicking in, saying, quote, “It would be really helpful to get that class out of the way now.”
I hate my quasi-psychotic subconscious.
The real fun began when trying to enroll for the class. Unbeknownst to me or my family, an ACT score was required to apply. I did not have an ACT score. I was taking the test the following week.
So on a Friday several weeks ago, I suddenly found myself completely rearranging my schedule. That Friday I had intended to get up at nine and take care of several tasks before leaving at one o’clock for Hutch, where I would be singing that evening at the State Lions Convention.
However, I was awakened an hour earlier, and told that I was going to go take a math test in Marion to make up for my MIA ACT score. I took the test, which led to an application, the application led to a lot of repeat signatures and Social Security numbers, signatures led to forms that needed to be made official by school, which led to a trip to Hillsboro to have it signed, which led to another trip to Marion, which led to only having one hour to complete everything I had been planning to do all morning.
I was not happy.
But this test was just a warm up for the following weekend, which was when I got to take the real ACT. If you were wondering, this is where everything starts tying together.
As I was driving to the testing site, I had an accident. Going about 60 mph, I had a collision. With a bird.
I’m not kidding. It flew right into the driver’s side door.
So this is the conclusion that I came to: The decreasing bird population is in fact due to overzealous students like myself who frankly cannot keep themselves away from math, no matter how badly that want to.
And as much as I hate to admit it, thanks to this online College Algebra course, I can calculate at exactly what angle and velocity the bird hit me.
* * *
UFO: The billionth digit of pi is nine.
Don’t ask why.