Monthly Archives: February 2016

Order That One Does Not See

Last week, I wrote Appreciation of Order. Now, I have a reason to appreciate some order that was, previously, fairly invisible to me.

My mother just died. As her eldest child, I now have stuff to handle, stuff that I do not know that much about.

I appreciate that there are people who do handle many of the nitty-gritty details: the coroner, the funeral service, etc.

Sometimes, in other areas, I have had protest from a person that he does not see why he should have to do something and him using that as an excuse for not doing the thing. Just because you do not see why does not mean that there is not a valid reason for doing it.

I am thankful that this infrastructure exists now that I need it.

Odd Language #141: Which Name?

My mother just died. The Vital Statistics department seems to think that her name was “Patricia Colleen Briar”.

The issue: Her name was “Patricia Lavonne Briar”. After her divorce, she changed her surname to “Briar” and at the same time she changed her middle name to “Lavonne”. Vital Statistics apparently requires a legal document in order to correct the error that they might well have made. I can do without this.

On a related note, dictionaries have occasionally had entries for nonwords. For example, there is the story of “Dord” which you can read at

Puzzle #144: Leftover Candy

Valentine’s Day is well over, and the local candy store is clearing out the last of the Valentine’s Day candy. There are some packages of chocolate hearts; candy cinnamon hearts; chocolate-foil roses; and pink, red, and white jelly beans remaining with a total of 40 packages of the four item types. The number of packages of each of the item types is prime and unique. There are fewer packages of the jelly beans than any other item type and more packages of chocolate hearts than of chocolate roses. The packages are split evenly between chocolate and non-chocolate items. How many packages are there of each item?

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, March 9, 2016 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #142 Solution: The Princess’s Mousies

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Appreciation of Order

When one steps into a disorganised situation (or one for which one does not know the organisation, or even both), one has to put some order into the situation. If order has been ignored for some time, it can take a lot of time to clean up the mess.

Consider a warehouse where stock is not stored in an orderly fashion. It can take a lot longer than it should to find things, and sometimes, things can be missed. One might be overstocked on items, because they are in multiple places.

If one takes the time to organise an area for easy accessibility, it can be very easy to find things or know that there are none.

But this organisation takes time, and it can seem that not “wasting time” is efficient. Actually, it pays for itself in the long run.

Saving yourself a bit of trouble now may give you way more trouble later. Alternatively, spending a bit of time now can buy you valuable time later.

Odd Language #140: How or Why?

“Mary Anne had wanted to keep the original, but that was being analyzed as no bit of synthetic wool had ever been analyzed in human history, and she had to settle for a duplicate.” — Niven, Larry; Pournelle, Jerry; Barnes, Steven; _Beowulf’s Children_; p. 236 (top of page)

The issue: “as” can mean “in the manner of” or “because”. The meaning intended was the first, but if the item being analyzed was previously unknown, it could have been the second meaning.

Puzzle #143: Murder!

Suddenly, a shot rang out. Or was that someone screaming after being stabbed?

This week’s murder mystery comes courtesy of Dan O’Reilly, formerly of the Philosophy department at the University College of the Cariboo (now Thompson Rivers University).

Sherlock Holmes considered the following evidence and then announced correctly who the murderer was. What did Holmes conclude?

The cook was the murderer only if the murder was done neatly. But, it was not done neatly unless it was done with the revolver. The butler was the murderer just in case his affair with the maid needed to be hidden. If the butler didn’t do it, then either the maid did it, the gardener did it, or the cook did it. Neither the gardener nor the maid did it provided that it was done with the revolver. A necessary condition that the murder was done with a knife is that the maid did it. However, it was not done with a knife. Although it was done neatly, the butler’s affair with the maid did not need to be hidden.

Therefore, Holmes concluded that the ___[who]___ did it with the ___[weapon]___ ___[neatly/unneatly]___.

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, March 2, 2016 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #141 Solution: Shared Cats

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Go Simple or Go Complicated?

So here I am busily learning how to make a WordPress Website work. There is a lot of detail here. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

I can see someone just wanting to get a blog up fast and never mind the fiddly details. I was like that when I started my blog.

But if you want a Website that has lots of features, you have to put time in to figure out how to do it all. This is what I am working on now for Ride North America.

Just today, I read a post in a list I subscribe to in which the poster wants an easy way to set up a photo display site for someone else.

Just how well does it work out to start by doing things the easy way and possibly having to do it all over again later versus biting the bullet and going sophisticated from the start but possibly never needing the high-end features?

For a given case, the answer might not be obvious.