The grass is greener on the other side.

I know, it’s a drearily hackneyed and cliched (ok fine “clichéd” for those diacritical elitists) expression, but instead of the classical interpretation, I have another dilemma that I face in school.

(Yeah, school. Awfully boring topic to talk about, but then again I’ve spent around a sixth of my life thus far in this institution, so most things that happen happen here. So you might get a bit lost if you don’t go to my school.)

You see, in many of my classes I’m placed in the worst class. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that these classes give a brutal amount of homework or the teachers are evilly sadistic (which I have had in the past, sure), but in my very humble opinion almost nothing occurs in class. This somewhat contributes to the fact that school is somewhat boring. Also, before anyone asks, I am not the person who takes non-honors classes because they are easy; the only non-honors class I’m taking is World History and that’s because there is no honors version (and is also mandatory). [I suppose you could technically make exceptions to Finite/Discrete and Multivar/Linalg, but it’s actually decently hard to get in the latter… especially as a sophomore.] But anyways, the evidence:

1) Rath, 4th period. This is a great big abyss of superficiality. Despite our English teacher’s great efforts to induce thought-provoking discussion, only crickets can be heard. Talk about zombie apocalypses, extremely tangentially related to the discussion at hand, and you get a five-minute nonstop torrent of chatter of the subject. (Zombies, not the poem that we’re supposed to be discussing) We discuss all the wrong things. Even when he manages to elicit an answer actually relevant to the material, you can nearly be certain that it’s devoid of interpretation of any sort.

I still remember the time when we had to comment on a piece of standardized education as an English project. It was so chock full of comprehension questions and absolutely no in-depth questions whatsoever. Yeah, that’s a good approximation to what our discussions are like. Even when Rath guides us. It’s pretty sad, really.


Oh, you might be wondering why I don’t initiate these discussions too often. randomguy64 actually hits the spot pretty close: I tend to skim over the material being covered, so am a bit reluctant to discuss potentially erroneous analysis.

2) Kuei, 6th period. Science is, by the nature of the material, fundamentally different from English. For one, there’s not much leeway of interpretation. Kuei teaches Chemistry, by the way, if it wasn’t semi-obvious.

Anyway, the problem here is that nobody except for a select few people in our class actually gets the material. Lectures also seem to go slower as well. Case in point: during the acid/base lecture, our period was uniquely the most behind, a full 2-3 subtopics behind. Which is about 5 minutes for a 30 minute lecture, so we’re going about 15-20% slower. Yay unproductivity. For this, you can’t really blame this on me: Kuei semi-prohibits the high performers from answering her questions in order to let the others to learn.

Also, there isn’t an unusually high class intersection between Rath 4th and Kuei 6th. (The exact figure is 5, if you were wondering.) 31 Rath students / 7 Honors Chem Sections = 4.4, which I’m sure falls under a 95% confidence interval if I was bothered to construct one, which I’m not.


3) P.E. (Madsen), 3rd period. Once again, P.E. is very different from both English and chemistry. How does a P.E. class underperform? Well, it doesn’t, but we do form smaller groups when creating teams for various sports (basketball, soccer, volleyball, etc.) The kicker is that our team has always gone through a losing streak.

Soccer. Dead last.

Volleyball. 5th out of 6.

Basketball. 6th out of 10 (this is actually a pretty decent performance)

Volley Tennis. 5th out of 7.

And it doesn’t really comfort me that currently we’re going 2 ties 3 losses in ultimate frisbee.

Team selection is approximately random [read: teacher random], with the most influence an individual student can impart being partnering up with a friend or two.


What does this all mean? Well, I like to think of myself as competent at many things: English, Chemistry, and even (god forbid) P.E. I run decently fast, consistently running in the top 4 or 5. Maybe not as fast as you track mavens, but definitely not extremely slow. I’d consider myself fairly competent at chemistry, usually getting curve-worthy test scores in the top 5%. (After a bit of arguing, of course. Apparently I have a slight penchant for debate.) Also, my grade in English was the second highest grade in the period, which, by the way, is something like 6th or 7th in most other periods, i.e. our period fails. What is wrong? Let’s throw out a few ideas:

1) CONSPIRACY! It’s a conspiracy to make me fail. All the administration and P.E. teachers are trying to sink me… no.

2) NOT A TEAM PLAYER: Well, this could be a more reasonable explanation, especially when you consider my relatively anti-social tendencies (well, I do try to think that I’m fine at socializing to a marginal degree). However, there are a few problems with this explanation. First, I do fine on group projects. Group projects are basically the epitome of academic cooperation save for maybe in-class discussion. Projects that my group makes tend to score very high, and this trend even goes back to 9th grade, where our Greek myth video scored the highest in our period. A 92, or so I heard. I also heard that that’s a pretty bad grade in the other periods, reinforcing my point that I get pretty bad classes.

And even if it were the case, my behavior should not directly influence the class to the point that absolutely no discussion is occurring. This cannot be strictly endemic to myself only. Some other forces must be in play.

3) PROBABILITY. To be fair, the probability that this scenario occurs to someone is around (1/7)^2~0.02, so you could expect out of the approximately 200 honors students, around 4 would share this experience.


That reminds me. Probability isn’t on my side either.

Rath has assigned two big group projects to date. There are eight groups, and 31 students in our class. By Reverse Pigeonhole, at least one group has at most 3 students. And thus, logically, the groups are partitioned into sizes 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, and 4. Now, there is a (3/31) probability that a person is in a 3-person group.

Now what is the probability that you land in two 3-person groups in a row? That’s right, 9/961, which comes to about 0.0094. And guess who did?

Yep, me.

Or maybe it’s all a conspiracy by the insecure random number generator that Rath uses to generate groups! Maybe… (I hear it’s some fairly antiquated software; that would not be a stretch to say the least)

4) YOUR IDEA HERE. Well, I’m out of ideas as to why everything I’m in is dysfunctional. Your idea could be here today! Just comment/e-mail and maybe I’ll put it up.



Which is pretty funny. I’ll use a persistent strategy game as another example. In Grepolis, Ephesus World, my ocean is in the core 4 oceans (that is to say, O44 O45 O54 O55). It turns out the ocean I started in is the most politically unstable! Joy! In fact, you probably wouldn’t care [and yes, this is turning into an incoherent mess. Wow, I’m prescient!] but here’s my alliance history:

some random island alliance: Alliance recruiting strictly in the center. Fades away into inactivity.

THE UNION: Join the top-ranked alliance in O54. Also becomes inactive.

Chaos INC: Formed as a splinter alliance from THE UNION, taking the most active players, and becomes the top-ranked alliance in O54. However, becomes inactive.

Roman Legionnaires: Formed as a splinter alliance from D3th and The Pirates, taking the most active players, and I join. Becomes top-ranked alliance in O54, becomes inactive.

Lords of Loyalty: Top-ranked alliance in O44. Joined from a referral from someone next to me. Leadership inactivity, merging with Honour and Power (the top-ranked alliance in O55) and Eternal Soldiers (the top-ranked alliance in O45).


ba dum tss

Further evidence: I haven’t been playing very hard in this game, so I’m somewhat ashamed to say that I’m only 22nd in our ocean individually. That would be 25th in O44, 33rd in O45, and (QQ) 41st in O55.

For crying out loud, it’s 29th in O65, 33rd in O66, 27th in O56, etc. etc., and these guys started significantly later than I did. In fact, most of the other oceans already have a unified alliance ruling over them. But not O54. Because we’re dysfunctional.

[Note: I’ll be somewhat impressed if you determine my Grepolis account from the information presented to you. Have fun guys!]


Edit-not-really: You don’t say? (it should be obvious that I am not either YAYger or beohoff.)


I didn’t edit that. It was an afterthought. I was going to say “EBWOP” but that would make even less sense.




So I used to wonder why certain blog maintainers managed to write such long posts. I still do not know how they do so, because the stuff they write about actually makes sense. Maybe it’s because they’re actually ranting. Rants are hard when you don’t really have very strong feelings about a particular topic.


  1. Confirmation bias.

    That being said, high school is still a lousy place to be. Hang in there.

    • totalepicfailure
    • March 16th, 2012

    Partially true, I suppose, though you could say all of my classes are like that (Finite/Discrete 5th <<< Finite/Discrete 4th, WH Krishna 2nd = min(WH Krishna 2nd/3rd/5th)). Or maybe I'm just being overly critical about myself and my classes. I don't know.

  2. Its all a CONSPIRACY!

    • randomguy64
    • March 16th, 2012

    I say it’s a combo of probability and confirmation bias.

  3. Also, chaotic would want you to use the –more– tag, and there’s a boilerplate widget still to the right.

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