By The Numbers!


You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I’m a numbers nerd.  That’s right!  Unlike everybody else I know, I didn’t get the numbers kicked out of me in school.  Yeah, algebra was a pain in the ass, and I’ve never used it since Mr. Wells ruled the halls of Kitsilano High, but I still love its symmetry.  The thing is numbers never fail, yet they remain as mysterious as the Sphinx.  For example, nobody, not even Watson (the Uber computer) can calculate Pi (π) but it still delivers the area of a circle every time. (Not that anybody has a burning need to know that – but it’s pretty cool.)  Actually, when I was a starving student at university, I used to play with numbers to win drinks.  I must confess that when you’re sipping hops with wannabe poets and Jane Austen fans, it was like shooting fish in a barrel, but … free beer is free beer … and I still don’t feel guilty.

Here are two bits of numerical magic that I remember.  (There were more.)  One of them has only failed once, and the other hasn’t failed yet.  Play along (be honest and no googling) and I’ll bet you a beer that — wherever you are in the world — my mastery over the telepathic power of numbers will let me know your answers.  And I’ll prove it at the end.

1 – Take the 8 digits of your birthday (DD – MM – YYYY) and write them down.
Scramble the numbers any way you like and write that down.
Subtract the smaller number from the larger one.
Place a 9 either at the beginning or the end of your answer.
Add all the numbers together until you get a single digit.
Subtract 6
Multiply by 41.
Regardless of what day you were born I already know the answer.

2 — Think of any 4 digit number.
Multiply it by 9.
Take the answer and add all the numbers together.
Place a 9 either at the beginning or the end of your answer.
Add all the numbers together again until you get a single digit.
Subtract 5.
Using the method 1=A, 2=B, 3=C, 4=D, 5=E, 6=F, etc. find the letter your number represents.
Think of a European country that starts with your letter.
Take the last letter of the country, and think of an animal that begins with that letter.
Take the last letter of the animal, and think of a fruit that begins with that letter.
If you did the puzzle in English, I already know your answers.


Numerical Magic One

If you’re under 100 years old, the answer is 123.  (I used it as the graphic.)

Numerical Magic Two

Your answers were Denmark, kangaroo and orange.

Somebody owes me a beer!

Another Bit Of Fun

For all those posting “spoilers” to Avengers End Game and all those posting theories about Game of Thrones, let’s remember that tomorrow is the 4th of May, the day that started it all.  So …


Christmas Trivia 2018

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Any Laplander will tell you that all reindeer have antlers.  However, they will also tell you that male reindeer lose their antlers in late November or early December, whereas female reindeer do not lose their antlers until spring.  Therefore, the reindeer that pull Santa’s sleigh are all female – including Rudolph.  There were originally eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.  Rudolph was added in 1939 when Robert L May created a colouring book for retailer Montgomery Ward to give away at Christmas.  The book told the now familiar story of Rudolph and how he came to guide Santa’s sleigh.  Ten years later, in 1949, Gene Autry had finished colouring all the pictures, so he decided to record a song based on the Rudolph story.  “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was an instant hit, and Rudolph has been around ever since.

“Frosty the Snowman” was written by Jack Rollins and Steve Nelson in 1950, for Gene Autry, who wanted to follow up the success of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” from the previous year.

Originally, there was one other reindeer in Santa’s team pulling the sleigh on Christmas Eve.  Unfortunately he became bitter and belligerent, so Santa had to take appropriate disciplinary action.  His name was Dinner.

The names of The Three Wise Men are Gaspar, Melchoir and Balthasar not Manny, Moe and Jack as some TV ads would lead you to believe.  However, if you want to astound your friends with your Christmas knowledge or win drinks at any pub in the world just ask the question; Which Wise Man brought which gift?  The answer is Melchoir brought gold, Balthasar brought frankincense and Gaspar, who, like most of us left his Christmas shopping to the last minute, brought myrrh (whatever that is.)

The traditional Christmas poinsettia originally came from Mexico.  It was first brought to the United States by Joel Poinsett in the 1820s.  Even after all these years, the name is still almost universally mispronounced.

Although, under various aliases, Santa Claus is claimed by a number of countries he is, in fact, a Canadian citizen.  On December 23rd, 2008, the Canadian government’s Minister of Citizenship, Jason Kenney, declared, “The Government of Canada wishes Santa the very best in his Christmas Eve duties and wants to let him know that, as a Canadian Citizen, he has the automatic right to re-enter Canada once his trip around the world is complete.”

Like most of the cool Christmas traditions, candy canes come from Germany.  They started out, in the late 17th century, as white sticks of candy given to children to keep them quiet during the long and infinitely boring Christmas church services.  Many people believe candy canes are bent so they could hang on the Christmas tree.  Originally, however, the canes were bent to resemble a shepherd’s crook and so calm the objections of stodgy old churchmen who didn’t want kids having candy in church.

If you’re trapped in Dublin at Christmas, “Merry Christmas” in Irish is “Nollaig Shona Dhuit” but I have no idea how to pronounce it.

Oddly enough, Mrs. Claus does not have a first name; nor, for that matter does any of the elves.

Canada was the first country to issue Christmas stamps — in 1898.

Nova Scotia exports more Christmas trees than anywhere else in the world.

The reason that relentless movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, is on TV so much is that television stations don’t have to pay for it.  Apparently, when it was made, there was a mix-up in the contracts, so nobody who worked on the film — including the actors — ever gets residuals.

It is a well-known fact that the stupid “Little Drummer Boy” (who was put on this earth to annoy me) has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas.  The real little drummer boy was a pickpocket and sneak thief who fell in with the Three Wise Men in order to gain their confidence and eventually rob them.  He was already a hardened criminal by that time and had a list of previous offences as long as the Ohio River.  He was caught with his hand in the frankincense jar and sentenced to 10 years’ hard labour — which is exactly what the treacherous little bugger deserved.

Did you know?  There was once a dyslexic devil worshipper who sold his soul to Santa.

Christmas Quotes

“There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.” – Erma Bombeck
“All Christmas trees are perfect.” – Charles N Barnard
“It’s not the gift, but the thought that counts.” – Henry Van Dyke (Dick and Jerry’s other brother?)
“Christmas is a whispered conspiracy of love.” – Anon
“Nothing is as mean as giving a child something useful for Christmas.” – Kin Hubbard
“Santa is very jolly ‘cause he knows where all the naughty girls live.” – Dennis Miller
“Bah! Humbug!” – Ebenezer Scrooge
“Merry Christmas, Nearly Everybody!” – Ogden Nash