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!

Puzzles — How Did She Know?


I grew up with sisters, so I know women are analytical, logical and super- smart.  Here are three tales of intelligent women who were very quick to figure things out.  Check and see if you’re as smart as they are from the information their stories provide.  Please DON’T post your answers in the comments, even under SPOILER ALERT.  If you seriously want to play, use “Contact Me.”  The first and only prize (to the first 3 right answers) is a signed copy of The Woman in the Window.  Good luck!

1 – Danielle is having dinner in an expensive restaurant.  She finishes the meal and orders dessert and coffee.  The server brings her cheesecake and a cup of coffee.  Unfortunately, as Danielle is stirring her coffee, she discovers there’s a fly in the cup.  She calls the server back and points out the fly.  The server apologizes profusely and takes the cup and saucer away.  Danielle waits to eat her cheesecake, and in a couple of minutes, the server returns and sets her coffee down.  She lifts up her fork to cut the cheesecake, takes a sip of her coffee  and shouts across the restaurant:
“What are you trying to pull!  This is the same coffee — you just picked the fly out!”

How did she know?

Hint: Danielle wasn’t wearing lipstick.

2 – Celeste goes to a business conference in a distant city.  At the end of the first day, she and her colleagues check into a hotel.  Before they go to their rooms, they all agree to meet back in the bar later for drinks.  Celeste is the first to leave the group.  She goes to her room, unpacks her suitcase, has a shower, gets ready and is about to leave to meet her new friends when there’s a knock on the door.  Celeste looks through the security peephole and sees a man she doesn’t recognize, in a dark blue business suit.  She opens the door and, with a startled look on his face, the man politely says:
“I’m terribly sorry; I thought this was my room.  Please excuse me.”
Then he turns and Celeste sees him walk away toward the elevator.  She immediately closes the door and calls hotel security who apprehend a notorious thief in the lobby.

How did she know?

3 – When Detective Isabel Chambers arrives on the scene, there is a dead man splattered on the street– in front of a hotel with only three windows.  The windows are on the 7th, 8th and 9th floors.  The hotel manager says no-one has gone into the hotel since the accident.  He also tells Officer Chambers that the elevator and stairs are on the other side of the building and there is no access to the roof.  There are two witnesses, a couple walking their dog.  They tell Officer Chambers:
“We didn’t see which window the man jumped out of; we only saw him fall.”
Officer Chambers thanks the couple and goes into the hotel.  She goes to the 7th floor, walks into the room, lights a cigarette, looks around, opens the window, looks down at the body and drops the cigarette.  She watches it fall.  Then she takes the stairs to the 8th floor.  She walks into the room, lights a cigarette, looks around, opens the window, looks down at the body and drops the cigarette.  Again, she watches it fall.  Then she goes to the 9th floor.  She walks into the room, lights a cigarette, looks around, opens the window, looks down at the body and drops the cigarette.  And again, she watches it fall.  All three cigarettes fall within 5 cm. of the body.

Later, when Officer Chambers is examining the body, the couple with the dog say: “It’s such a shame that poor man committed suicide.”
Officer Chambers replies:
“This wasn’t suicide; this was murder.”

How did she know?

Answers on Friday

Puzzle — Movie Quotes

Meanwhile in Vancouver, Canada, the snow has turned to freezing rain.  The streets look like somebody spilled a gigantic dirt and dishwater daiquiri.  It’s been a week since I’ve done anything but shovel.  I’ve eaten all the chocolate, all the cookies and all the leftover Christmas candy.  This is my last bag of Doritos and my last Pepsi.  Now I know how the boys of Terra Nova felt.  (Too soon?)  But, if I’m going to go down, I’m going to go down swinging, testing the mettle of my electronic friends.


This is a movie quote puzzle.  Here are 11 quotes from 11 movies and the 11 actors and actresses who spoke them.  You have to match the quote to the actor or actress and then name the movie.  This is moderately difficult.  Hint: Use the process of elimination.

So, if you like, answer all the questions correctly and use Contact Me to send me your answers.  The first person to get all of them correct (100%) will be awarded a signed copy of The Woman in the Window — everybody else will bask in the knowledge that they did a good job.  The contest ends at noon on Monday Feb. 13, 2017 (Vangroovy time.)  Answers next week.  Good luck!

1 — “You gonna do somethin’ or just stand there and bleed?”

2 — “And tomorrow we come back and cut off your Johnson.”

3 — “Go away — or I shall taunt you a second time.”

4 — “You are a sad, strange, little man and you have my pity.”

5 — “Looking at the cake is like looking at the future. Until you’ve tasted it, what do you really know– and then, of course, it’s too late.

6 — “Shut up and deal.”

7 — “It’s always gonna be somethin’ with you, isn’t it Joe?”

8 — “You people! If there isn’t a movie about it, it’s not worth knowing– is it?”

9 — “I don’t know how to shut down a neutron reactor — and unless you took a Learning Annex course I don’t know about, I’m pretty sure you don’t know how to shut down  a neutron reactor, either.”

10 — “Get off my lawn!”

11 — “It’s not the years; it’s the mileage.”


A — Sigourney Weaver

B — John Cleese

C — Harrison Ford

D — Clint Eastwood

E — Peter Stormare

F — Kurt Russell

G — Meg Ryan

H — Tim Allen

I — Shirley MacLaine

J — Alan Rickman

K — Nicol Williamson