Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Things I learned in graduate school: People aren't as observant as they think

Last week I re-connected with a grad school friend--last I knew, he lived in Galveston, and I wanted to see if he was ok after Hurricane Ike hit (He's fine--doesn't even live in Texas anymore). I haven't talked with him in at least six years--probably more like ten.

But talking with him brought back lots of grad school memories...

My first year, one of my friends, Elliott, liked to say, "Yeah, right, and monkeys may fly." So I bought a barrel of monkeys and designed ways of making them fly--a hang glider, rocket ship, airplane, parachute...pretty creative, if I do say so myself :) I even got friends to place a couple of them, to throw them off the track.

So I would plant one somewhere near his desk, and see how long it would take him to discover it. Usually it would be a day or two (the longest was a week), and he would swear it hadn't been there when he had gone to XX (lunch, the bathroom, the gym, whatever) just a few minutes ago.

He was a good detective, too--I was sweating it when he was in search of who had the matches I had used to make the hang glider wings (they weren't the standard lab matches). But the funniest thing was that he was convinced that the ones I made had to have been done by a male, and the ones I had others do were done by me.

So the big take home lesson: People aren't as observant as they think, especially in an environment they think they know.

And just because something is well constructed, doesn't mean a guy made it!