Archive for the ‘General Musing’ Category

Groan Before Reading!

April 20, 2016

I’m going to warn you in advance . . . here are some limericks that are real groaners.  And, they all have to do with mathematics.  Enjoy!

The Möbius strip is a thing,
Which somewhat resembles a ring.
But given the strength,
To travel its length,
You still haven’t done anything.

An arithmetic teacher names Jones,
Was reduced by the new math to groans.
And shortly expired,
Since he has not retired,
He now serves as Napier’s Bones.

A little old lady from Becimal,
Arrested for stealing a decimal,
Was thrown in the joint,
The judge missed the point,
The sentence was infinitesimal.

To measure one really must try,
To learn about deci and centi,
Cause butter you know,
Will sell by kilo,
And a liter of bread you can’t buy.

Great mathematicians ’tis true,
Don’t think like both me and you,
They often abhor,
The idea that four
Is as simple as two plus two.

A modern mathematician,
When asked to do an addition,
Responded at once,
“Me add, you dunce!
That’s only a part of tradition.”

The calculator, per se,
Is always right in its way.
The problem you see,
Is usually me,
‘Cause the dern thing does what I say.

A mathematician so keen,
While programming a super machine,
Made an extension,
To an unknown dimension,
And never again was seen.

Source: “Mathematics and Humor,” Aggie Vinik, Linda Silvey, and Barnabas Hughes (eds.), p. 50.

This Isn’t Missouri, But . . .!

March 25, 2016


Missouri is commonly known as the “show me” state.  Here are some mathematical “show mes” to perhaps amuse you on this Friday.

  • Show me a man who counts on his fingers;, and I’ll show you a digital computer.
  • Show me a useless exponent and I’ll show you one.
  • Show me how to partition six and I’ll show you how to do it to two, too.
  • Show me a glib salesman and I’ll show you a line.
  • Show me an erratic teenager with no personal income and I’ll show you a dependent variable.
  • Show me a skier in a miscalculated jump and I’ll show you a slope-intercept form.
  • Show me a homicidal hippie and I’ll show you a square shooter.
  • Show me a desegregated school and I’ll show you integration.
  • Show me a nudist colony and I’ll show you some finite differences.
  • Show me some sharp cleavers of the positive  from the negative and I’ll show you axes.
  • Show me a roulette player who likes to play numbers of the form 2n + 1 and I’ll show you a man who has the odds in his favor.
  • Show me a protest march and I’ll show you some radical signs.
  • Show me a brooding hen and I’ll show you a nested set.
  • Show me a police state and I’ll show you the law of the mean.
  • Show me the checkbook balances during a long vacation and I’ll show you a monotonically  decreasing function.

Source: “Mathematics and Humor,” Aggie Vinik, Linda Silvey, and Barnabas Hughes (eds.), p. 27.

For the origin of the “show me” state slogan, check out this article.

Typeface Glossary!

November 13, 2015

Happy Friday!  Here is a handy infographic that will help you identify each and every part of a typeface (probably more parts than you ever thought existed).  Enjoy!

Trivia in the Kitchen, Number Sixty-Two!

November 7, 2015

Saffron.  You probably already know that saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world (thousands of dollars per pound), but did you know why?  Saffron is the stigma of the “Crocus sativas” (a fall-flowering crocus).  Each crocus can bear up to four flowers and each flower will have three stigmas.  Because this is such a labor-intensive crop, you will only achieve 5-7 pounds of saffron from each acre of land.  The good news: Saffron contains over 150 aroma-yielding compounds and a very little bit can go a long way.  The aroma has been described as metallic honey with grassy or hay-like overtones; the taste is also described as hay-like and sweet.

How’s Your Memory?!

November 4, 2015

I generally have a pretty good memory, but let’s face it, with all of the information and sensory input coming at us from every direction during the day, it is getting harder and harder to remember everything.  Here are the hard, cold numbers about how the average guy fares when it comes to memories . . .

  • 26% – birth of their child as their happiest moment
  • 18% – getting married
  • 27% – erase the details of a past relationship
  • 22% – swear to have a photographic memory
    • <0.1% – actually do
  • 58% – have forgotten their spouse’s birthday
  • 42% – claim to have never forgotten their anniversary
  • 34% – forgot where they left their cell phone
  • 43% – have forgotten a woman’s name mid-date
  • Age of 4 – average guys earliest memory
  • In his 50s – starts to notice memory loss
  • 40% – regularly forget one of their login passwords
  • 49% – believe there will be a cure for Alzheimer’s in their lifetime
  • 50% – wish their doctor could prescribe a memory steroid

Source: Men’s Health magazine, October 2015, p. 144.

Trivia in the Kitchen, Number Sixty-One!

October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!  In case you didn’t know, pumpkin is actually a fruit, NOT a vegetable.  And I would hazard to guess that pumpkin pie is the most popular and frequent way to prepare this fruit.  Pumpkins belong to the family Cucurbitaceae, which includes cucumbers, melons, squash, and gourds.  Here are some pumpkin links to help you plan your next menu (if you wish to include pumpkin) — and, due to the fact that there may be a shortage of canned pumpkin this year, I would not wait until the last minute to pick up enough to get you through the holidays.

Top 10 Pumpkin Desserts (courtesy of Taste of Home)
30 Best Pumpkin Recipes
(courtesy of Country Living)
Flavors to Pair with Pumpkin
Ten Ways to Enjoy Pumpkin

Trivia in the Kitchen, Number Sixty!

October 24, 2015

Show me the heat!  Chile peppers come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and heat.  So, if you like to spice up your cooking, be sure to select the appropriate pepper for the amount of heat you are desiring.  The heat of peppers is measure in “scoville” units.  Note: peppers will vary in heat, flavor, and color from crop to crop.  Here is a list of the types of peppers and their approximate scoville ratings:

  • Ancho peppers (3,000)
  • Guajillo peppers (6,000)
  • Aleppo peppers (10,000)
  • Cascabel peppers (11,000)
  • Chipotle peppers (15,000)
  • Crushed red peppers, medium hot (20,000)
  • Jalapeño peppers (35,000)
  • Arbol peppers (35,000)
  • Crushed red peppers, very hot (40,000)
  • Tien Tsin peppers (60,000)
  • Dundicut peppers (60,000)
  • Piquin peppers (70,000)

For some other options/examples, check out this Scoville Scale.

Trivia in the Kitchen, Number Fifty-Nine!

October 17, 2015

Have you ever wondered how long your spices remain fresh?  Six months?  A year?  Two years?  More?   Herbs and ground spices are generally good for six months to a year while whole spices may still be good for up to two years.  Each spice is different and the flavor components will all dissipate at different rates.  The best test: just give it a sniff.  If it smells strong and spicy, then use it; if not, then it might be time to replace it.

When it comes to preserving your spices there are certain rules to follow to ensure that they remain fresh: heat, light, moisture, and air will all speed up the loss of flavor and color.    Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Glass/barrier plastic containers are very good
  • DO NOT store spices near a heat source
    • examples of where NOT to store include the top of: the stove, the dishwasher, the refrigerator, or the microwave; near the sink or a heating vent
  • Avoid the light (store in a cupboard or drawer, if you use a spice rack on a counter-top, keep out of direct sunlight)
  • Store in a cool environment (refrigerator/freezer) when possible
    • Exception: vanilla beans and extract

Some Police Humor!

October 6, 2015

Here is a sampling of some pretty funny jokes (check out some more at

How many cops does it take to screw in a light bulb? Just one, but he is never around when you need him.

How many cop jokes are there? Just two, all the rest are true!

A police officer attempts to stop a car for speeding and the guy gradually increases his speed until he’s topping 100 mph. He eventually realizes he can’t escape and finally pulls over.
The cop approaches the car and says, “It’s been a long day and my tour is almost over, so if you can give me a good excuse for your behavior, I’ll let you go.”
The guy thinks for a few seconds and then says, “My wife ran away with a cop about a week ago. I thought you might be that officer trying to give her back!”

What did the policeman say to his belly button?
You’re under a vest!

How many cops does it take to throw a man down a flight of stairs???
None. He tripped.

Is Your State Bicycle Friendly?

September 29, 2015

Here are the rankings for 2015 (the best and the worst).  I’m not sure what criteria were used in these rankings, so read ’em and weep.  Hmm, Oklahoma made the bottom ten.

Friendliest states:
1.  Washington
2.  Minnesota
3.  Delaware
4.  Massachusetts
5.  Utah
6.  Oregon
7.  Colorado
8.  California
9.  Wisconsin
10. Maryland

Least-friendly states:
41.  Alaska
42.  West Virginia
43.  Hawaii
44.  South Carolina
45.  Oklahoma
46.  Montana
47.  Nebraska
48.  Kansas
49.  Kentucky
50.  Alabama

Source: AARP Bulletin (September 2015), League of American Bicyclists