Monthly Archives: July 2015

Puzzle #112: Bombs

“The secret is to take a bomb on board with you — the odds of there being two bombs on a plane are astronomical.” — Ted Frank

Of course, this is fallacious reasoning. Why is it fallacious?

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <genew@telus.net>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Order Vampires

Do you like having your work area planned and orderly? I do. I deliberately set things up so I can produce easily.

Sometimes, I run across people who take advantage of me on this. They take my order rather organising their own area. Equipment or supplies that I have arranged for my use get taken with the justification of that it all belongs to the company or some such.

I am not talking about something I am hoarding, just an ordinary amount that I would be using in short order. Now, I have to organise AGAIN. It is a waste of my time.

I call such people order vampires. They can suck the order out of your area if you let them.

Don’t. Insist that they do their own organising, no matter how much they insist you are wrong about it.

Odd Language #108: Off By One

“Born in Stornoway, Sask., in 1913, Katherine was one of seven children with three sisters and four brothers.” – Kamloops Daily News, Tuesday, 2015-06-30, p. B3, “102 reasons to celebrate”

The issue: If Katherine had three sisters and four brothers, then there were eight of them, not seven. Off-by-one errors are very easy to make.

Puzzle #111: Even More Marbles

Once again, you have a collection of marbles. Each marble is one of six colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or violet.

1) The number of red and green marbles is greater than the number of any two of the number of yellow, violet, and orange marbles.
2) One colour has twice as many marbles as green.
3) There are no more than nine marbles of any colour.
4) The total number of blue, green, and violet marbles is odd.
5) The numbers of orange, violet, and yellow marbles are all powers of two.
6) There are fewer orange marbles than green marbles.
7) The number of blue marbles is equal to the total number of violet, orange, and yellow marbles.
8) No two colours have the same number of marbles.
9) There are three green marbles.
10) There is at least one marble of each colour.

How many marbles are there of each colour?

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <genew@telus.net>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #109 Solution: Little, Green Apples

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

It IS How You Say It

Have you ever worked with someone whose conversation was full of threats? It might well be that the situation is critical, but being threatened does not help. “We need this product in production by September 15, or heads are going to roll!” It is not very comfortable dealing with such a person.

You could be in the same critical situation with someone else who is pushing for results in a better way. “We have to have this product into production by September 15, at the latest, if we are going to be able to ship to stores for the Christmas season. I have a preliminary schedule here for you all to review. We will be discussing it tomorrow morning. Be ready, and let’s make it go right!” Same situation, much more comfortable.

Note that it is not a matter of being indirect. The second person is direct, but also is not threatening. There is enough threat in the environment without adding more. If someone does not understand the threat, it can be explained: “This is one of our major sales times. If we blow this, it will be hard on the business and us. Let’s make it go right. We can, you know.”

See Odd Language #110: Iron Fist in Velvet Glove for a simple example of this.

Odd Language #107: Iron Fist in Velvet Glove

I work part-time for WIS International (an inventory counting firm). Individual crews can cover a wide area, and for out-of-town jobs, we meet at a central location and travel to the client site by van.

There are reasonable rules, of course. Wearing a seatbelt is one of them; after all, it is rquired by law in British Columbia and many other places. There are two stickers on the inside of company vans.

The first is rather blunt:

NO BELT – NO RIDE
ALL passengers in this vehicle MUST wear seatbelts!

The second is rather muted:

[in red]

    NOTICE

Van Tranportation Is Provided For Your
Convenience. Employees Are Not Required To Ride
The Van To Work. [in red]It Is Completely Voluntary!

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Division Human Resources
Manager or call Corporate Human Resources at 1-800-888-8210.

The issue: The first sticker is very blunt, but the second one is more effective. I find it hard to avoid smiling when I think of the line about it being completely voluntary. That is a true statement, but the trouble to get to a job, which could be hundreds of miles away, is a lot more than following some reasonable rules. I like the way that the person who designed the second sticker thinks. Iron fist in velvet glove.

Puzzle #110: Eight Eights

With eight eights and using addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and brackets as needed, write an expression that evaluates to 1000.

888 + 88 + 8 + 8 + 8 is one solution. Now, get your own! There are at least two others.

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <genew@telus.net>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #108 Solution: Truth and Lies

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow