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Big trees and big gaffes . . .

I posted this item some seven months ago, entitled Letter to the editor, San Antonio Light—Big trees and big gaffes . . . I am reposting it because legions of new viewers and bloggers have joined Word Press in the interim. I realize those persons can reach back in time for previously posted material, but I feel obligated to assist them by offering material that is among the very finest to be found—anywhere—seriously!

By reposting I am eliminating the necessity of new arrivals to Word Press to search through archives. Word Press created a system to enable instant reposts, apparently in the notion that reposting an item can be beneficial to its members, whether new viewers and bloggers or long–time users—in effect, I am simply assisting Word Press in its effort to spread the word.

Letter to the editor, San Antonio Light—Big trees and big gaffes . . .

SAN ANTONIO LIGHT: The San Antonio Light, a daily afternoon and Sunday morning newspaper in San Antonio, Texas began as the San Antonio Surprise in 1881. The paper subsequently morphed through a series of titles including the Evening Light, the Daily Light, the Light and Gazette, and finally settled on the San Antonio Light title in 1911. The Light was published continuously until late in 1992, and closed shortly after its purchase by the Hearst … Read More

via The King of Texas

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2010 in letters to the editor

 

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Letter to the editor, San Antonio Light—Big trees and big gaffes . . .

SAN ANTONIO LIGHT: The San Antonio Light, a daily afternoon and Sunday morning newspaper in San Antonio, Texas began as the San Antonio Surprise in 1881. The paper subsequently morphed through a series of titles including the Evening Light, the Daily Light, the Light and Gazette, and finally settled on the San Antonio Light title in 1911. The Light was published continuously until late in 1992, and closed shortly after its purchase by the Hearst Corporation.

This posting is a letter that I submitted to the editors of the San Antonio Light way back in 1990, and in the interest of full disclosure I must admit that it was never published. Apparently my letter touched a nerve, or perhaps several nerves, because it was neither printed nor acknowledged.

November 26, 1990

Letters to the Editor, San Antonio Light

PO Box 161

San Antonio, TX 78291

Susan McAtee’s article on big trees in your VIVA section on Sunday, 25 November featured some dimensions that sent me scrambling for my calculator and the World Almanac. Susan cited the General Sherman giant sequoia as the largest tree on the National Registry of Big Trees, with a diameter of 998 inches.

A quick application of “pie-are-square” revealed that such a tree hollowed out would accommodate a home of 5,179 square feet with the outer walls one foot thick. Since official measurements are taken at a point four and one-half feet above ground, floor space at ground level might be even greater. A tree that large would accommodate a ten lane freeway, each lane 8 feet wide with a median of 3.2 feet (and I thought one lane built through a tree was impressive).

I wonder how Susan fared in Geometry 101. Diameter is the distance across a circle, or in the case of trees, the thickness of the trunk. Circumference is the distance around the circle, the distance around the tree trunk. The General Sherman, last measured in 1975, has a diameter of 26.5 feet and a circumference of 83.2 feet. Either Susan confused diameter with circumference or the General Sherman has experienced phenomenal growth in the past 15 years.

Her apparent confusion also extended to a cherry tree (64 inches in diameter, or 5.3 feet), a maple (80 inches in diameter, or 6.7 feet), and the Goose Island live oak, a whopping 422 inches in diameter. Try to imagine a tree 35 feet thick and only 44 feet tall—such a tree defies imagination!

The article would have benefitted from outside proofing, perhaps in collaboration with  Bill Graves of Uvalde, Texas, the person that was interviewed for the story. And except for the misleading statistics the feature was interesting—well written and informative.

And that was my letter to the editor. This next bit of information may be adding insult to injury, but here’s another statistic concerning the San Antonio Light. When the Light closed in 1992, two years after the Big Tree feature appeared in its VIVA section, it employed 600 people including 134 editorial staff. With that many editorial staffers, surely at least one could have been assigned to corroborate the Big Trees dimensions. And I can’t help wondering whether the writer of the Big Trees feature was one of those remaining 134 staffers. I don’t know how well the writer fared after receipt of the letter, but if she remained on staff as a writer she must have had a very close relationship, familial or otherwise, with the people upstairs.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

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School teachers rock!

I recently received this e-mail, Teacher arrested at JFK, from a relative in Dallas, and I felt that it should be disseminated as widely as possible. It was very difficult to confirm with Snopes because of the profusion of articles dealing with the arrest of teachers including arrests for DUI, indecent exposure, drug theft, leading prayer, dealing crack, having sex with minors, early dismissal, slaying stepdaughter, brainwashing kids, kicking students in karate class, murdering another teacher, etc., etc.

The scope of these arrests and their reasons reflect poorly on our historically vaunted teaching profession, but they comprise an infinitesimal part of the whole—they amount to no more than the teeny-weeniest part of the iceberg’s tip. The greater part of the educational iceberg is comprised of teachers that are largely and historically overlooked and underpaid. They are the ones that work and fight in the trenches, the ones that dedicate their days, their nights and their lives to helping families and other elements of society mold students into outstanding adults, and the ones that are in a great measure successful in their efforts.

The story of the teacher’s arrest is untrue, of course, but it’s funny and it’s very creative, obviously penned by someone familiar with mathematics (I’m not very familiar with mathematics, but would like to believe that I’m familiar with creativity in the written word). I am using it in this posting because it enables me to expound on my feelings and my respect for teachers—and I feel that I’m qualified to express my feelings and my respect because I’ve been paddled by some of the very best—seriously!

This is the story as I received it in an e-mail:

Teacher arrested at JFK

A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International Airport when he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a compass, a slide-rule and a calculator.

At a morning press conference Attorney General Eric Holder said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement. The man was not identified, but the Attorney General said that he has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

“Al-Gebra is a problem for us,” Attorney General Holder said.

“They derive solutions by means and extremes, and they sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute values.”

“They use secret code names such as “X” and “Y” and refer to themselves as “unknowns,” but we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval, with coordinates in every country.

“As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, “There are three sides to every triangle.” (The Snopes article added the following item: The teacher was found carrying code books written in an arcane language called “calculus,” which the NSA is currently attempting to decode)

When asked to comment on the arrest President Obama said, “If God had wanted us to have weapons of math instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes.”

White House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the President.

It is believed that the Nobel Prize for Physics will follow. (This was not included in the Snopes article)

The comment attributed to President Obama was attributed by Snopes to Hillary Clinton as follows:

When asked to comment on the arrest, Senator Hillary Clinton said, “If nature had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, she would have given us more fingers and toes.”

House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or more profound statement by the senator.

On a personal note, I believe that neither President Obama nor Hillary Clinton made the statement. I don’t believe it because the statement is funny, and neither person is capable of exhibiting that level of humor. I have not detected one whit of humor in either person at any time since they stepped into the national spotlight.

Those that laugh when a person says something intended to be funny are not always laughing with them—quite often they are laughing at them.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

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Sex & Chocolate Math—Find Anyone’s True Age . . .

Do you know someone who is reluctant to reveal their age? If so, ask them to play this “game of numbers” and you’ll know their age (if they play the game honestly—and you’ll know whether they did).

Use the Chocolate Math Formula to determine anyone’s age (including your own). A neighbor recently e-mailed me the formula, undoubtedly gleaned from the Internet. It works every time, and one can only speculate on how much time someone had on their hands in order to “formulate the formula.”

Special note: I took many liberties in making what I felt were improvements in the presentation of this posting. There is not even a fat chance (pun intended) that the Chocolate Math formula has been copyrighted, and trust me—my presentation is infinitesimally better than the one I received.

CHOCOLATE MATH FORMULA

Ask that person (the one reluctant to tell their age) to take the steps outlined below—you might want to suggest that they apply pen or pencil to paper in the process, or perhaps use a calculator.

1. Choose a number from 1 to 10 ( including the numbers 1 and 10)—this
should be the number of times you would like to have chocolate each week.

2. Multiply the number you picked by 2.

3. Add 5 to the total.

4. Multiply that total by 50.

5. If you have already had your birthday this year, add 1759—if you have not had your birthday this year, add 1758.

6. Now subtract the 4-digit year in which you were born.

You should now have a 3-digit number.

The first digit is your original number (the number of times you want to have chocolate each week).

The other digits tell your age—oh, yes, they do—don’t deny it!

This year, 2009, is the only year in which the formula will work, so spread it around for everyone to enjoy.

Oh, and here’s a helpful hint—chocolate is not a mandatory part of the formula. Chocolate can be replaced by the number of times the person would like to eat out each week, or leave work early, or be late for work, or bathe the dog, or have sex, or wash the car—the possibilities are limitless, and depend only on the circumstances under which the game is being played. Regardless of the commodity or activity used, the formula will always work.

Neat, huh? Or, as the younger generation might say, “Sweet!”

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2009 in games, Humor, math

 

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