Friday, July 23, 2010


Yesterday I had two McNair meetings: one for a GRE vocab prep course and one for a statistics refresher to figure out which type of analysis I'll need for my data set (cross tabs with no layers, it turns out).  During the stats meeting, we were running example data sets through SPSS, and one of the independent variables had three categories, abbreviated on the table to "3 cats."  The data set we had just run was about abortion or marijuana smoking or some other social issue that would offend the Evangelicals that run our country, and the woman next to me, Kathy, said loudly, "..and they have three cats?"

"That's categories," I whispered, trying not to disrupt the professor.

"But they have three cats?" she said again.

"It's categories," I said.

"Why do they have three cats?" she said, each time louder.

"It's categories!" I said.  "The independent variable has three categories!"

"Oh my gosh, I totally thought that meant cats, like the animal!" she cried.  "I'm like, why do we need to know the abortion people have three cats??"

By now the professor had stopped to listen, and upon hearing her confession, quipped, "Yes, cats and statistics are never far apart."

Later I turned to Kathy and asked my most burning question of the day: "Hey--when a guy sunbathes nude, does his penis get tan?"

She puckered her lips thoughtfully.  "I don't know," she said.  "I would think that the skin is so thin that it would just burn."