Tuesday, March 02, 2010

you cannot be serious! - john mcenroe (1970s/80s)

A few weeks ago we sent off a couple of letters to the great north but they were returned about a week later by the USPS. Both included the standard, yellow sticker that said something about undeliverable as addressed – clearly a mistake since both addressees were correct. Not really understanding what the problem might be, I grabbed a new envelope (both items were cards), addressed it (again), stamped it (again), and fire it out yesterday morning. As expected when one tries to sort out an issue, another card was returned yesterday afternoon but this time it included some very official mathematical directions and chastisement (is that a word?) sticker covering the entire face of the envelope. It appears that unless you are mailing a perfectly standard-sized card you’ll be paying an additional $.20. Just so you don’t think that we were mailing those 2’ by 3’ cards full of pandas and balloons, here’s a picture of the returned card with a reference so you can size it yourself (that's a CD, by the way):

Here’s a zoom on the rules and directions. When you’re done with the math problem, please turn in your papers. I’m guessing that they’ve decided that if they must hand sort anything then you’re paying more. Have they purchased new sorting machines? This is complete bullshit:

I also wanted to update the progress of our snow-clearing equipment around the neighborhood. If you remember how they were stuck by feet of snow last month (see here), then rest assured they’ve finished their work. J.O.B.

We are in the midst of what I’d dubbed the “Extra Hash Brown (EHB)” game theory. It started accidentally when I asked which of the three blockheaded kids were interested in the extra hash brown at breakfast the other morning. (Background: the big pan only fits four hash browns for cooking. Yes, I could have only made three. Yes, I could have cut the last one in thirds, but where’s the fun in that?) I wrote down a number between 1 and 100 and starting with G., followed by H. and L., respectively, (they were all interested in the hash) and told them that whoever was closest to the number would win the gold. G. started with 77 – I now don’t remember the other guesses because I immediately lost interest – and after all the bids were in, H. had won. Why I lost my focus was because I immediately thought that 77, when you know two others are guessing behind you, is a poor opening salvo. What this became over the last two days – and now involves my workmate/probability geek as well as X – is this: what are the best numbers to choose if you are picking first, second, and/or third? I’ve added variants to the game that include closest without going over (the Price is Right version), and writing down a number on a secret ballot where if two pick the same number they are eliminated (the You Can’t Just Write 50 version). I’ll save you our endless discussions and thoughts and just let you play the game on your own. If you have three kids around – or two kids and a crazy wife – have them give a try and see what happens…but don’t give them any background before the first round. One additional input: since humans aren’t actually good at randomly selecting a number, go online and Google-up a random number generator and use that as your source for the final, winning, answer.

No comments: