Archive for September, 2014

Oh man, lots going on, lots to talk about, but an absence of prioritization to talk about it. So let’s just jump in:

I recently read somewhere an anecdote about a Google interview:

“I’m going to give you five minutes,” he told me. “When I come back, I want you to explain to me something complicated that I don’t already know.” He then rolled out of the room toward the snack area. I looked at Cindy. “He’s very curious about everything,” she told me. “You can talk about a hobby, something technical, whatever you want. Just make sure it’s something you really understand well.”

I thought about that story for days. I told it to my husband, and said “I swear, I’ve been thinking about this for 72 hours, and I have no idea what I would explain if I were in that situation.”

Now, my husband loves the inner workings of things. He’s a thing finder outer type person (that is a play on a Colbert Report bit where he called white Americans “Thing stuff havers” vs “Thing stuff wanters”; after that segment Mike looked pointedly at my shoe collection and goes “honey. You are a thing stuff haver” and I swear, we’re still laughing about it. And since the Colbert Report fills me with joy on any given day, the clip is below, even though it has almost exactly nothing to do with what I’m talking about.

(Embed fail! Click here to watch.) (My complicated thing is not, apparently, how to embed video clips)

Anyway! My husband: a thing finder outer type person. He doesn’t, as a completely hypothetical example in no way reflective of our actual lives, observe that the headlight in the car is out and make motions towards getting it replaced, he wants to know WHY the headlight is out (burned out bulb? Quirky electrical?) and then fix THAT, unlike, say, his wife, who more or less registers that the car is showing less light than previously but then files that away for action at a future time.

Hypothetically, I mean.

Anyway! Mike, without even really thinking, began listing off complicated things that I could explain in that interview scenario:

  • Ballistic coefficients and the variables needed to test for long range accuracy at altitude
  • Down force and its effect on helicopter lift
  • The relationship between cost, weight, and aerodynamics and its impact on F1 regulation and innovation

to which I could only reply “Ok, so that’s… things YOU could explain” and he goes “… oh. Right.” But I’ve got to have something, right? I’m a smart gal, there has to be SOMETHING I would be able to offer, yes?

We got there, eventually. Because of course, I can talk at length about any number of things; the problem is they feel simple to me, not worth filing under “explain something complicated.” That is one of my strengths, this is how I could teach statistics to english majors well and take reams of data and summarize what that data is saying in 5 powerpoint slides: I simplify complicated things.

So what would YOU explain? What’s the thing you know like the back of your hand, but would feel complicated to others?

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