YouTube Juxtaposition

I watch and listen to a lot of YouTube videos when at home. One of my favourite songs is “Reflections of My Life” by Marmalade. Tuesday evening, YouTube suggested a video about Dean Ford formerly of Marmalade having died. I might not have otherwise known.

Odd Language #292: Firm Sagging

Woman’s World headline for the 2019-01-07 issue: “FIRM SAGGING SKIN with $6 body brush!” (I did not write this one down so the second word might not be “sagging”, but it is an antonym of “firm”.)

The issue: “firm” and “sagging” being adjacent. Since they are often both adjectives and antonyms, it looks odd, but in this case, “firm” is a verb.

Puzzle #295: Marbles

You have some marbles. They are each one of six colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. There are one to nine of each marble colour, and no two colours have the same number of marbles.

There are three orange marbles.

There are more violet marbles than red marbles and more yellow marbles than orange marbles.

The number of yellow marbles is a multiple of the number of green marbles. The same applies to blue vs. orange, red vs. yellow, orange vs. green, and violet vs. orange.

How many are there of each colour of marble?

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, January 30, 2019 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #293 Solution: The Cookie Jar

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

The Trouble with Some Job Interview Questions

Have you ever been asked an odd question in a job interview? I have. In particular, technical trick questions can be downright nasty.

People who treasure these questions quite often do not really understand the area. This can lead to trouble especially since the answer will not be given to the job candidate.

What sorts of trouble?

The question can be distorted. Technical language can use ordinary words but with special definitions. Changing a technical word to a synonym of an ordinary meaning of the word can confuse things. Does “spiralling couple” mean anything to you? “spiralling” is a synonym of “twisted”, and “couple” is a synonym of “pair”. “twisted pair” is a type of cabling used in computer networking, but changing it to “spiralling couple” loses the technical meaning.

The item might not be important. There are some little tricks in practically any field. It is possible that the candidate just has not run across that particular one or that it is something of limited value that one should generally avoid. If he were told about the trick, he might understand it very quickly. To decline to hire a candidate because he does not know that tiny bit seems unfair.

There might be more than one answer. The interviewer may have an answer he is looking for, but a candidate might come up with another valid answer. If the interviewer does not know the area, he is not able to evaluate the answer. Since the candidate did not give the “correct” answer, he will be considered to have gotten the answer wrong.

There might be only one answer. There is a math puzzle that I know of which I mention in Puzzle #289: Divisibility Puzzle where I give the one answer. Some people think that there is another answer, because when they check for divisibility by 8, they divide a number greater than 80 million by 8 which on an 8-digit calculator will give eight digits before the decimal point and thus have no room to display any fraction. Not seeing a fraction, they mistakenly conclude the number being checked is evenly divisible by 8. (You can check this with the almost-solutions of 921,654,387 and 963,258,147.)

The supposed answer may violate the terms of the problem. There is a problem with lights often mentioned. The lights are in a black box unit. One is supposed to work out which switches do what. The answer involves opening up the black box and feeling the bulbs. A black box unit is one that is not supposed to be opened up.

The supposed answer may be out-of-date. The same problem suffers from that incandescent bulbs are not used much anymore. The lights will not heat up much or at all.

The interviewer might not understand the area. If so, the interviewer might not even be aware of the possible issues given above, and he will not discuss the matter with the candidate anyway.

This is why I refuse technical interviews with non-technical people.

Puzzle # 294: 2019

Using the numbers 2, 0, 1, and 9 each exactly once, and any of the operations addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, come up with expressions that evaluate to the integers 0 to 9.

(n! is product of the integers from 1 to n. 0! = 1.)

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, January 23, 2019 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Different Perspectives

Kamloops has some development on a hill in the northwest. The development is a strip about one block wide running along the side of the hill.

I have been in it, and it is full of fancy homes.

Where I work, I now see it from the east across the Thompson River. The strip in the hill does not look as if it belongs there and oddly, at the distance that I see it from, it resembles the line of plowing in a garbage dump. Oops!