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Monday, February 13, 2006

A Statistician's Lot

This is a paper I wrote recently for a BYU writing contest. It's not as good as I'd liked it to be, but it's definitely blog-worthy. Enjoy.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw that there were several open parking spots. Most of which were approximately 2.5 miles from the grocery store entrance. I decided to take my chances and look for a closer one. There was about a .0037 chance of finding one. Did I mention that I’m an aspiring statistician? Probably the only one who doesn’t know whether you hit or stay if you have 14, or wishes that their last name could be “Hellmuth,” or “Moneymaker.”
There really is a famous poker player named Moneymaker. Chris Moneymaker. What are the chances of that? Well, I know. 100%, because it happened (but that’s assuming you have a very closed, certain and happy mindset). 20 years ago, before he became a cultural icon, I couldn’t have told you that. There were too many variables to consider:

1. Are his poker-playing skills the reason for his fame, or is his name the only reason he’s known? I suppose that this is just a case of the chicken and the egg. Was it his name or his ability that first made him so popular? I’d say it was both working hand in hand. But then where does the rooster come in?
2.

I didn’t have time to think of a second variable before I saw a parked car near the front of the store turn its reverse lights on with no other inhabited car in sight to steal it from me. The car was facing the store and was directly in front of it, in one of those spots you’d step over your own mother to get. I was about 20 feet directly behind the car, in the empty area between two rows of cars. Here’s a picture of the situation.

The car slowly started backing out and turning to my left. I began easing forward to claim my spot, when suddenly the previous owner of the spot rushed back into it. A few seconds passed, and the car began pulling back out. This time, the car left enough room for me to slip into the spot, but I figured I’d let him completely clear out before moving in. He paused for a moment and then switched into drive and took the spot again! A few more moments passed. Then he did it again! And then again. And again and again. Each time leaving me a little more time to take the spot, but not enough. I didn’t mind though. I had time, and nothing else to do.
On the sixth time he pulled back into the spot, I looked in his passenger side mirror and saw the lens of a video camera pointed at me. They were filming this! I was furious at first, but then decided to just let them have their fun until they got bored and gave me the spot.
Ten minutes later they were still going back and forth. Daring me to take the spot and risk getting hit. I wouldn’t budge. After two or three more idiocies of theirs, I decided to do what they wanted me to do and respond. I honked the horn once. It was one of those quick, polite, “excuse me, but you’re being an idiot” honks. This seemed to do the trick and let them realize that enough was enough. They pulled out again. This time they pulled to my right, temporarily blocking my access to the space. I assumed that this was for the driver to see me and give me an apologetic, friendly, “yes, I was an idiot, now what are you going to do about it?” wave. The wave came, but it was not apologetic. In fact it wasn’t even directed at me. It was a “here, take this one” wave, and it was directed at the driver of the car coming at us from the left.
When I saw this happen, I have to admit that I first thought, “Oh, what a nice thing to do.” Then I gained back my sanity, and went crazy.
“What the crap!” I shouted with blazing eyes staring right at the driver of the car blocking me.
When he turned and saw my expression, first he smiled. I began to think, “Hmmm, maybe he’s not such a bad guy after all.” He then nudged his videographer buddy in the passenger seat to get him to film my reaction. I took my right hand off the steering wheel to express to him how I really felt. They beat me to it. Smiling, with middle-fingers raised, they drove off with impunity just as the other undeserving car stopped in my spot. I’m sure this whole thing will probably be on MTV or one of those stupid prank shows in a week or so.
“You just got parked,” they’ll say to me. I don’t think I need to tell you what my response will be.
I ended up having to park 2 blocks away on the other side of an 8 lane highway. I was parked in an embroidery store parking lot and would probably get a ticket, but I didn’t care.
When I got about 50 yards from the grocery store main entrance, I saw the car that had taken my spot. The car to its left was gone, and the space was still open. The car in my spot was a grey Geo. A little wiener car. I looked to my left and saw about 8 shopping carts lined up in the cart return and began walking in their direction.
As I gained speed with the eight carts rolling loudly in front of me straight at the defenseless Geo, I paused to reflect on the situation. Why was I seeking revenge on a car that really did me no harm? Besides, they were probably just as desperate for a spot as I was. I probably would’ve done the same thing too. I came to my senses and stopped myself. I gripped the cart I was pushing to stop it. I was jolted forward a bit before all the other carts broke off from the one I was holding. I was helpless as they sped through the empty parking spot next to the Geo. The first cart smashed into the driver’s side door, leaving a relatively noticeable dent (a blind man could spot it from 20 yards away). This impact swung the remaining carts into the side of the car, scratching it all up and exploding the line of carts. About half kept rolling towards the store, while the other half ended up on their sides on the ground, or leaned up against the poor Geo.
I briskly walked past the wreckage and toward the entrance of the store without even turning my head to look at the damage. I passed a family of four near the entrance who had seen what I had done. A little girl, held by her father, was crying with her hands over her ears because of the noise the carts had made. Her father just looked at me and shook his head. I couldn’t bring myself to look at them. I just kept walking with a stern expression planted on my face. I knew what I had done, and it affected me greatly. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I actually got clear to the frozen foods section before I burst out laughing.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Blog Hackers!

Recently, somebody hacked into my blog. Don't worry, I've already contacted the proper authorities about it, and I'm going to therapy now to get through this troubling incident.

"Show me on this monitor where the hacker touched your blog," my therapist asked me.

I showed them.

"That monster," was all that they could say.

Anyway, I think I have a good idea of who it was/is. They would have to know me probably. Have to know a lot about computers, perhaps even have a job working with computers. Has a relatively similar sense of humor as me. hmmmm, oh brother, I just can't think of who it could be.

Any ideas?