October 12, 1998, WHO WINS THE BID? This is a cynical story, but one which unfortunately has a ring of truth to it.
Three contractors were visiting a tourist attraction on the same day. One was from New York, another from Texas, and the third from Florida.
At the end of the tour, the guard asked them what they did for a living. When they all replied that they were contractors, the guard said, "Hey, we need one of the rear fences redone. Why don't you guys take a look at it and give me a bid?" So, to the back fence they all went to check it out.
First to step up was the Florida contractor. He took out his tape measure and pencil, did some measuring and said, "Well I figure the job will run about $900. $400 for materials, $400 for my crew, and $100 profit for me."
Next was the Texas contractor. He also took out his tape measure and pencil, did some quick figuring and said, "Looks like I can do this job for $700. $300 for materials, $300 for my crew, and $100 profit for me."
Without so much as moving, the New York contractor said, "$2,700."
The guard, incredulous, looked at him and said, "You didn't even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?"
"Easy," he said. "$1,000 for me, $1,000 for you and we hire the guy from Texas."
You can find this and similar jokes at Cybercheese.com
This joke reminded me of an old joke told by construction estimators. Question: "If you get ten contractors to bid for a job, who will offer the low bid?"
Answer: "The one who made a mistake."
Of course, more cynical people might answer, "The one who cheated his workers," or worse, "The one who moved overseas to escape pollution and labor laws."
May 1, 1998, $1000 AIR FORCE PLIERS: "They're multipurpose. Not only do they put clips on, but they take them off." Pratt & Whitney spokesman who was attempting to explain why they charged the Air Force $1000 for an ordinary pair of pliers.
"Traditionally, most of Australia's imports come from overseas." Former Australian cabinet minister Keppel Enderbery
You can find more of these improbable quotes at the Comedy Break
May 1, 1998, BORING ECONOMISTS: Two government ecnomists were returning home from a field meeting. As with all government travelers, they were assigned the cheapest seats on the plane so that each was occupying the center seat on opposite sides of the the aisle. They continued their discussions of the knotty problem that had been the subject of their meeting through takeoff and meal service until finally one of the passengers in an aisle seat offered to trade places so the two economists could talk and the passenger could sleep. After switching seats, one economist remarked to the other that it was the first time an economic discussion ever kept anyone awake.
SECOND JOKE: A mathematician, an accountant and an economist apply for the same job.
The interviewer calls in the mathematician and asks "What do two plus two equal?" The mathematician replies "Four." The interviewer asks "Four, exactly?" The mathematician looks at the interviewer incredulously and says "Yes, four, exactly."
Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and asks the same question "What do two plus two equal?" The accountant says "On average, four - give or take ten percent, but on average, four."
Then the interviewer calls in the economist and poses the same question "What do two plus two equal?" The economist gets up, locks the door, closes the shade, sits down next to the interviewer and says "What do you want it to equal?"
These jokes come from "Jokes about economists."
April 21, 1998, THINKER'S ANONYMOUS: It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker. I began to think alone - "to relax," I told myself - but I knew it wasn't true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.
I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don't mix, but I couldn't stop myself. I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, "What is it exactly we are doing here?"
Things weren't going so great at home either. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother's.
I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day the boss called me in. He said, " I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don't stop thinking on the job, you'll have to find another job." This gave me a lot to think about.
I came home early after my conversation with the boss. "Honey," I confessed, "I've been thinking..."
"I know you've been thinking," she said, "and I want a divorce!"
"But Honey, surely it's not that serious." "It is serious," she said, lower lip aquiver. "You think as much as college professors, and college professors don't make any money, so if you keep on thinking we won't have any money!"
"That's a faulty syllogism," I said impatiently, and she began to cry. I'd had enough. "I'm going to the library," I snarled as I stomped out the door. I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche. I roared into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass doors... they didn't open. The library was closed. As I sank to the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye. "Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?" it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinkers Anonymous poster.
Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was "Porky's." Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting. I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed... easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.
This wonderful spoof on all 12-step programs came from A Sense of Humor a site that is loaded with many jokes of all kind.
April 17, 1998,SIMPSON'S PARADOX: "The two Waugh brothers, Steve and Mark, decided to have a little wager on who would have the better overall batting average over the two upcoming Ashes Test series, the first in England and the next here in Australia.
After the first Ashes series finished, Steve said to Mark, "You’ve got your work cut out for you, mate. I have scored 500 runs for 10 outs, for an average of 50. You have 270 runs for 6 outs, for an average of 45."
After the second Ashes series, Steve said, "Ok, mate, pay up. In this series I scored 320 runs for 4 outs, an average of 80, while you had 700 runs for 10 outs, which is only an average of 70. I topped you in each of the Series."
"Hold on," Mark said, "The wager was for the better batting average overall, not series by series. As I reckon it, you have scored 820 runs for 14 outs, and I have scored 970 runs for 16 outs. My trusty calculator tells me your average is 58.6, while my average is 60.6. A clear case, old son, of being pipped at the bails."
How is this possible that Steve could have a better average in each of the two Ashes Tests but a lower average overall?
This is an example of Simpson's Paradox which you can find at a wonderful website called the "Glossary of Mathmetical Mistakes." While not intended to be a humorous site, I couldn't help but laugh when I found myself making some of the more common mistakes.
By the way, does anyone know what "pipped at the bails" means?
April 17, 1998, MAKING FUN OF ECONOMISTS: Three economists and three English professors were going for a trip by train. Before the journey, the English profs bought 3 tickets, but the economists only bought one. The English professors waited to see their stupid colleagues be embarrased by getting caught and paying a fine. However, when the conductor was approaching their compartment, all three economists went to the nearest toilet. The conductor, noticing that somebody was in the toilet, knocked on the door. In reply, a ticket was handed out. The conductor punched the ticket, returned it through the crack at the door, and each economist saved 2/3 of the ticket price.
"We're greedy and insatiable," the economists murmured as they returned to their seats.
The next day, the English professors decided to use the same strategy. They bought only one ticket, but much to their surprise, the economists did not buy tickets at all! When the English professors saw the conductor, they hid in the toilet, and when they heard knocking they handed out the ticket.
The English professors returned to their seats, and were quite shocked when the conductor demanded tickets from them. They had to pay double the normal price as a penalty. The economists seemed to be gone. But when the conductor knocked on the other rest room door, a single ticket was handed out to the conductor who then punched it. After the conductor left the car, the economists returned to their seats. They said to the English teachers, "You're greedy and insatiable, too. How predictable." It took the rest of the day for the English profs to figure out what had happened to their ticket.
This joke comes from "Jokes about economists". We added the lines about being "greedy and insatiable" and subtituted English teachers for mathematicians. Because Ron is an economist, this is one site he likes. You can substitute any occupation for "economist" and laugh at yourself as well.
April 13, 1998, ANECDOTES: "I worked one summer shortly after high school in a discount furniture store as a stock boy. Shortly after I arrived one morning I immediately went to work moving furniture to the freight elevator for the morning delivery truck.
After a few trips the elevator suddenly stopped and I was stuck between floors. The doors could open about 4 inches and all I could do was call for help. Luckily my Boss heard my screams and he came running. He was quite upset that the furniture truck was not fully loaded. He was not as concerned about my safety.
After some time he called the elevator repair service. In his conversation, he learned I would be stuck for several hours before a repairman could come. Armed with this new information, my Boss returned to the elevator shaft. He put his head to the small opening in the freight elevator doors and shouted down the news. He then said, "Since you won't be working for the next several hours, I punched your timecard out."
I was docked for being trapped in an elevator."
This and similar true anecdotes can be found at When winners work for losers. This is a good site for anyone who wants to laugh at other people's stories instead of crying over their own.
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