Changing Lanes on the Road Called “Life”

October 24, 2008
Did a traumatic experience transform your life for the better?

Have you suffered from the pain of an illness, divorce, loss of a job or loved one — but came out of the experience stronger, wiser, and more in touch with your purpose and passion in life?

Did you feel as though your life was at rock bottom but now you have risen from the ashes a much stronger person from that experience?

For me, it was prison. I live in a small rural town , and after having  my ex husband arrested for beating on me, I found myself uneducated, and unemployed   I turned to dealing meth to feed my child and pay my bills. It was extremely lucrative,  and for two years I “wanted for nothing”. I tried several times to quit dealing… to get a “real job”, but I couldn’t survive on the little income that gave me. Eventually, I was arrested, and served two years in prison. I lost my son, my home… everything. When I got out, I had NOTHING, even having to wear my prison clothes home, and to the bank to cash the $100 check they give you upon release. It changed my life. I remember laying in that cold, hard bunk thinking it would have been better to live with a blanket on a sandbar than to be there. I got out, took the first job I could get, applied to college, and set a different path.

It took me two years to get my son back, and I’m a senior in college now. I have a wall full of academic awards and news articles… among them… my arrest and conviction clippings.  I’ve talked to churches,  a criminology class, and to other groups about  where I had been, and how far I’ve come, and how people CAN change. I’m stronger, more confident, and have more faith than I ever thought imaginable.

My passion? Helping people be MORE than they (or others) think they can be.  People CAN change their lives. There IS a way out, and allow ANYONE to make them feel they are less than incredible.  They just have to believe, and sometimes that starts with someone else believing in THEM. I remind them that while no one ever said it would be easy, I can tell them, it is worth it.

The Thermodynamics of Hell

October 11, 2007



The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so profound” that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

“First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added. This gives two possibilities:

1) If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2) If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, “…it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,” and take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded in having an affair with her, then #2 above cannot be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and will not freeze over.”



Students/Professors… Lies and Evolution

October 6, 2007


Top 10 Lies Told By College Students

10. It doesn’t bother me at all that my college roommate is making $80,000 a year on Wall Street.

9. I’d be delighted to proofread your book/chapter/article.


8. My work has a lot of practical importance.


7. I would never date an undergraduate.


6. Your latest article was so inspiring.


5. I turned down a lot of great job offers to come here.


4. I just have one more book to read and then I’ll start writing.


3. The department is giving me so much support.


2. My job prospects look really good.


1. No really, I’ll be out of here in only two more years.




Success in academia is hypothesized to require specific phenotypes. In order to understand how such unusual traits arise, we used human clones to identify the molecular events that occur during the transition from a graduate student to professor. A pool of graduate student clones was subjected to several rounds of random mutagenesis followed by selection on minimal money media in the absence of dental insurance.Students surviving this selection were further screened for the ability to work long hours with vending machine snacks as a sole carbon source; clones satisfying these requirements were dubbed “post-docs”. In order to identify assistant professors from amongst the post-docs, this pool was further mutagenized, and screened for the ability to turn esoteric results into a 50 minute seminar.

Finally, these assistant professors were evaluated for their potential to become full professors in two ways: first, they were screened for overproduction and surface display of stress proteins such as Hsp70. Assistant professors that displayed such proteins (so-called “stressed-out” mutants) were then fused to the M13 coat protein, displayed on phages and passed over a friend and family members column, to identify those that were incapable of functional interactions. These were called full professors.

Although these mutants arose independently, they shared striking phenotypes. These included the propensity to talk incessantly about their own research, the inability to accurately judge the time required to complete bench work, and the belief that all their ideas constituted good thesis projects. The linkage of all these traits suggests that these phenotypes are coordinately regulated. Preliminary experiments have identified a putative global regulator. Studies are currently being conducted to determine if overexpression of this gene product in post-docs and grad students can speed up the grad student-full professor evolutionary process.


The present paper, titled “Direct Evolution of a Full Professor” is a fascinating document, well worth publication. However, the authors fail to note several topics sure to be of interest to the Journal’s readers. For example, it is a well-documented phenomenon that transition to industry can occur at any point along the evolutionary pathway. The authors fail to comment on the possible mechanisms behind such versatility. Plasmid-borne resistance genes encoding a tropism for rich media have been postulated to fulfill this function. In support of this hypothesis, it may be noted that previous researchers who attempted to isolate this plasmid quickly underwent transition and never published their findings.

Thank you to Jenifer Ramsey, grad student at HSU, for this one. In turn, she received from Sarah Gerkin, Darline Marine Center, University of Maine.
Return to Academic Humour
Return to Sophie’s Web page


October 6, 2007


 University:  ______________________
To: Professor____________________

I think my grade in your course,___________________, should be changed from ______ to _______ for the following reasons:

__1.  The persons who copied my paper made a higher grade than I did.

__2.  The person whose paper I copied made a higher grade than I did.

__3.  This course will lower my Grade Point Average and I won’t get into:
______Medical School                  ______Graduate School
______Dental School                     ______My Fraternity/Sorority
______The Mickey Mouse Club    ______Tri County Tech

__4.  I have to get an A in this course to balance the F in:    _______________.

__5.  I’ll lose my scholarship.

__6.  I’m on a varsity sports team and my tutor couldn’t find a copy of your exam.

__7.  I didn’t come to class and the person whose notes I used did not cover the material asked for on the exam.

__8..  I studied the basic principles and the exam wanted every little fact.

__9.  I learned all the facts and definitions but your exams asked about general principles.

__10.  You are prejudiced  against:

__11.   If I flunk out of school my father will disinherit me or at least cut my allowance.

__12.  I was unable to do well in this course because of the following illness:
____broken baby finger
____acute alcoholism

__13.  You told us to be creative but you didn’t tell us exactly how you wanted that done.

__14.  I was creative and you said I was just shooting the bull.

__15.  I don’t have a reason; I just want a higher grade.

__16.  The lectures were:
____too detailed to pick out important points
____not explained in sufficient detail
____too boring
____all jokes and not enough material
____all of the above

__17.    This course was:
____too early, I was not awake.
____at lunchtime, I was hungry
____too late, I was tired

__18.  My (dog, cat, gerbil) (ate, wet on, threw up on) my  (book, notes, paper) for this course.

__19.    Other__________________________________

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