Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Hobbies that can kill you

Saturday, as we approached what is in most of the civilized world, spring, my alpha rhythms went delta. All of them. Outside, it blew fat wet snowclods, which changed to sleet and freezing rain and finally to rain. The streets were as sloppy and grey as my state of mind.

I'm not one to sit and conduct a pity party for any more than a few days or weeks, so I decided to cheer myself up by taking an online IQ test. The results (the ones you didn't have to actually pay for) declared me to be stunningly average. (As Weedy says, "Remember that part in American Beauty when the girl wails 'I am not ordinary'?" Matter of fact, yes. Matter of fact, I was howling something just like that to my walls.)

And it seems, from the scant information they deigned to provide free of charge at the conclusion of the test, that it is visual pattern recognition that lowers my score. You know: the part of the test where they show you four objects that look like squared off, tortured drain pipes, and ask which one doesn't fit? I flunk those.

Once, during the Christmas season in Toronto, when I was working in my business partner's store and ripping yet another folding box, my partner exclaimed merrily to the customer, "Can you believe she can work with all those teeny little beads and she can't fold a gift box?" So, I ask you, how am I going to manage the twisty drainpipe problem?

And I've taken that round peg/round hole test too. And the psychologist, in an amazingly unprofessional display (I thought) remarked, "I'm surprised. You're such a bright girl," as I attempted to squish a triangle into a square hole.

Just thank the gods I didn't take up driving - or architecture.

I do splendidly on general knowledge and communication. I can easily figure out what number comes next in a sequence. But there's another area that drags my score down, too...

If four trucks with six wheels each are travelling down a highway carrying eighteen bicycles and it is snowing in Japan, what direction are they going and when will they get to Memphis?
I'm not kidding. This is precisely how these questions look to me. And then, instead of trying to figure it out, I stare at the screen and say (usually aloud because I live alone) "Who the fuck cares? Are you serious? Who needs to know this kind of shite?" My brain grinds into reverse. I can almost feel my brain hurting. Don't tell me about having no pain centers in the brain. The brain knows when it's being asked to imitate a seal balancing a ball on its nose. And then I guess.
Eight o'clock p.m. Why not? Who cares? Personally, I'm wishing flat tires on them all and urging the drivers to stop and have a nap.

Afterwards, I turn my average talents to thinking up solutions to the intricate problems of world peace. Stay tuned.


Koru's Daughter said...

Please listen to Dr. KD on this because you hit a specialty of mine... social science research and testing. I have a PhD minor in this bullshit (literally, psychological statistics).

What is an Intelligence Quotient? Seriously? Have you ever seen one? Could you pick it out of a line-up?

There are 1,000s of different types of intelligences and an IQ test just tests about 1/2 dozen types that some middle-to-upper class over-educated white males decided were valuable somewhere about 1910. Yeah, it has been updated but not significantly changed over the last 100 years.

Different activities require different intelligences. A soldier and a chef would require radically different skill sets. OK... they both use pointy things, chemicals and fire but in radically different ways. Why do we use the same antiquated system to test both of them?

A urban black kid is not stupid because s/he does not fit in with a white-centered higher educational system. Hey, lets drop a white Harvard full professor on the streets of South Chicago pennyless in the middle of a blizzard and see if s/he can pass the IQ test known as staying alive.

Am I suggesting that IQ tests are racist, classist, ageist, sexist and completely invalid outside of English-speaking North American mainstream culture? Yes.

Also, what makes people think that IQ is static? Health, sleep, practice, social factors, environment, inspiration, age and chemical yummies all influence it.

Ummm.... I am ranting, aren't I? Sorry. One more point and I am done. Honest.

In conclusion let me just state that an IQ test tests what an IQ test tests... and that has NOTHING to do with the skills any of us actually use and the lives we actually live.

IQ tests... (KD turns her head and spits) let is not speak of these vile things again.

Here is another rant... the BS called the Gaussian distribution (You know... the bell curve. Sometimes called the normal distribution). It is just a moronic metaphor we all pretend is true so that our statistics work. Don't believe any "above or below average" bull cookies. It is mathmatical voodoo.

(OK... I lied about that one more point promise).

Remember, everyone... you are poerty. You are not a number for crass comparison in a tragically-flawed imaginary patriarchial system.

Mr. X said...

Well done KD for actually coming out and saying it! IQ tests ARE bollocks - there's no easy way to sum up a person, definitely not with a raw number.

It's YOU that counts - never forget that.

You're not a number, you're a free... oh sorry, that one's already been done, hasn't it? :)

LJ said...

But did I make you laugh. At all?
Thanks for the rundown, KD. Yeah. To tell with those dead white guys and their twisty drainpipes! And Mr. X, thanks for "Bollocks" which is joining "Twaddle" and "Wimple" on my list.
She poses like Scarlett O'Hara, raises an arm and declares, "I will never be average again!"

LJ said...

To "hell" that is...with the dw guys.

edvard moonke said...

'who's number one?'

'you are number six'

sorry, mr x's allusion to 'the prisoner' sent me on a tangent there.

and he's right, IQ tests are bollocks, in the same way that those 'test your sex appeal' type questionnaires where you are encouraged to tick one of five options and which frequently appear in women's magazines are bollocks. It fits only the limited brain of the person who thought it up.

oh, and it was funny! :-D

LJ said...

Bollocks! Yes indeed. Edvard Moonke,
I propose that as a writing challenge, we come up with our own "test your sex appeal" test! What do you think?

Mr. X said...

Shouldn't that be number 69?

Sorry, I'll get my coat...

P.S. I quite like using the word "piffle" as well..say it out loud a few times and see what you think :)

LJ said...

piffle. piffle. piffle. twaddle wimple dum.
Would that be your PINK coat, Mr. X???

Anonymous said...

They used to make us do these Standardized IQ Tests in school. There would be the question, or situation, and then you'd fill in the appropriate solution oval with a little magnetic graphite pencil. They'd be marked by computers. In 1989 I was suspended for a week for filling in the ovals on my answer form to spell "These fucking things only test cultural knowledge!"

I was thirteen then and my opinions on just about everything have changed since. But not that.


Minor Deity said...

I either come up as average or a genius on those things.

As can be seen by where I work, neither are terribly accurate. ;)

LJ said...

I see your point MD. Yes indeed. Perhaps there is no measure in the madness of choosing that particular workplace?

LJ said...

Marko. I still remember exactly how you looked the first time I saw you at the ripe old age of 22.
Spikey hair, safety pins, studded stuff, black leather jacket, bicycle chains(?), huge tattoos and the biggest grin and fastest wit in the east. I swear your energy preceded you by 20 feet.I can only imagine what 13 must have been like in that little town.

Koru's Daughter said...

Yes, LJ... you were funny. My favorite line was "Just thank the gods I didn't take up driving - or architecture."

You, indeed, are not ordinary, LJ. And I do not mean that in the "every child is special" way.

I mean that in the "everytime I read your writing I wish I had your gifts of perception and wordsmithing" way. I mean that in a "every time we talk I wish I had your insight" way.

You have courage in your day to day life. No test or story problem can measure that. Also, tests can't find funny.

Anonymous said...

I turned out average, too. KD is so my hero.

Hey, I just sounded like I'm 22. My day has taken a sudden turn...

I tanked on the perception questions, too, and my short-term memory is shot. I blame the 5am start to the previous day, thus sending my sleep cycle to the land of the piffle demons.

What would a test for funny look like, I wonder?


LJ said...

Thanks KD. I really do try for at least a little levity. You know from personal experience what a little gloomy guts I can be. Laughing at my own insanity is what yanks me out.
And HQ - Naw. You can join me in the Scarlet O'Hara declaration.
Nobody ordinary in my life or blogsphere!
A test for funny...hmmm. I think it would have to involve mirrors.

herhimnbryn said...

Oh lj, you have made me larf and larf! ( coffee snorted up nose is not pleasant)
Hon. IQ tests = BS.
Ordinary you are not Scarlett.

Anonymous said...

Mirrors? Oh, crap. I'm going to have to work harder at sounding 22.

I'll be the one wearing drapes.


LJ said...

I can do a marvelous Scarlet. Really.
And the test part comes if you can laugh without drapes! Ha!

zhoen said...

I used to treat those tests as games, and did wonderfully at them.

I started doing Sudoku to teach myself to see numbers better. Origami is a fun way to work spacial skills. I just like to beef up my weak spots. But I do crosswords, and it's not like I don't have a scary vocab already.

tracy said...

The only tests I like are those personality ones where I get to check over and over to see if I'm still an introverted intuitive jugemental ...damn- can't remember the last one- better go take the test again!

LJ said...

I figure it should be doing something up there in the grey matter when I follow a 68 step diagram to make a three-dimensional bead that ends up being a 1/2 inch in diameter...but maybe I should be expanding the torture!
You're an INFJ, T? Or an INFP?...I forget what the N is for. I like those too. And the results are usually consistant. I also took an emotional "IQ" test and did well. It was fun. And it gave me a great idea for a send-up for the blog.

herhimnbryn said...

The curtains were wide open at 6.30am....I din't care who saw the coffee fountain! I didn't have an opportunity to care! It did wake the hound up though ( the Bear slept on!)

Mr. X said...

Pink coat? Oh no. I never got into it again. With or without it's real owner!
Are you suggesting something there, dear one? ;)

HandyGirl said...

you will always be the square peg in the round hole of life. you cannot help it...you were born that way and i think it's karmic. how wonderfully amazing that you are not like everyone else.

i watched some of 'test the nation' the other night, a live national iq test, and i was blown away by how many people had trouble with easy questions...interestingly, they announced halfway through the show that the redheads were in the lead, as far as intelligence goes...

JoeinVegas said...

But if two trains are approaching each other, one at 40mph and one at 23 don't you need to know when they will meet?

LJ said...

Hi Joeinvegas. I'd think the question would be: Where is the stitch for the tracks? Don't you? Grinning

LJ said...

Or "switch" ...rather

Anonymous said...

LJ demonstrates the condition known as "Bead Brain."


Ariel said...

Erm, you may suffer from the grasshopper mind syndrome whereby your brain is so mighty that it processes all kinds of info at any one time in its own special way... I have a theory that those people who design those tests are sadistic saddos who desperately need to validate their existence... Better be a confused genius any time! Sod the tests. Of course, not saying that because I always come out bottom of the pile in them you know, am not bitter, oh no!

LJ said...

HQ - Bead Brain. EXACTLY. But we can thread a size 15 on a piece of softflex, can't we? HA! Take that 1910-white-men!
Ariel...I am not bitter, either. Nope, not me. But if anyone asks, I'm telling them 135. Grin.

phlegmfatale said...

I believe that for people like us, our creativity is a manifestation of how we sort out the universal twisty-drainpipe issues. We're not taking the road more-traveled, and we're working it out in our own way. And something so staid and dull as an IQ test can't be a measure of the gorgeous conduit you are for universal creative energy. Fuck the asshats who can't find a different way to measure IQ for people who daily reinvent the universe entirely by themselves - if we wanted to play by their rules, anyway, we'd be denying who we are and not realizing our own potential. I see true brilliance in you.

phlegmfatale said...

This is very much like my theory after 15 years of being owned by a Jack Russell Terrier-- I have come to believe that the really smart dogs are the ones who are not trainable - who show occasional insights that they understand what is expected of them, and then they go on and do what they want to anyway. Cats have got it right, actually - they have trained us to let them shit in the house.