Archive for December, 2012

The MJ4MF Bowl

It’s college bowl season, and there is an impressive line-up of games, from the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, to the Bowl, to the…

Oh, for Pete’s sake.

There are no fewer than eight college football bowls that have completely abandoned any pretense of respecting tradition. The name of the bowl is isomorphic with the name of the sponsoring company. Sure, some bowls give a nod to tradition by appending the name of the sponsor to the historical name, such as the Allstate Sugar Bowl or the Discover Orange Bowl. But even in those cases, the sponsor is listed before the bowl itself.

What can you do? My daddy always told me, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!”

Following his sage advice, I’d like to announce the 2013 Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks Bowl, which already has a spiffy logo…

MJ4MF Bowl Logo

But the MJ4MF Bowl will be different than the others. There have to be rules. My rules.

First, the game must be played on January 3, 2013, which can be written as 1/3/13. (Nice, huh?)

Second, both teams would have to be willing to modify their nicknames — only temporarily, of course — to make them more mathy. For example,

  • Arizona State Sum Devils
  • East Carolina πrates
  • Navy Midpoint Men
  • North Texas Median Green
  • Penn State Nittany Lines
  • Standford Cardinality
  • Tulane Sine Wave
  • UCLA de Bruijn Sequences
  • Western Kentucky Hilltopologists

Third, and most importantly, the yard lines on the field would need to be renumbered. Currently, they are numbered as follows:

|0    1|0    2|0    3|0    4|0    5|0    4|0    3|0    2|0    1|0    0|

That’s just dumb. For the MJ4MF Bowl, the yard lines will be numbered like this:

-5|0    -4|0    -3|0    -2|0    -1|0    0    1|0    2|0    3|0    4|0    5|0 

Honestly, doesn’t that make more sense? The middle of the field would be the 0-yard line, which seems appropriate; and, now when you hear, “The Lions have the ball on the 10-yard line,” you won’t have to wonder, “Which 10-yard line?”

Finally, teams will not have to meet the onerous NCAA bowl eligibility requirements to participate in the MJ4MF Bowl. Why does a team need six wins to be bowl eligible, anyway? That just means they’ll demand a big pay-out, and unless a rich, eccentric math geek buys a million copies of Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks in the next week, well, that’s just not gonna happen.

Two exciting teams are currently sought to play in the inaugural MJ4MF Bowl. Notre Dame and Alabama are required to play for the national championship, and the likes of Georgia, Kansas State, and Nebraska have already agreed to other bowl games… but surely the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss (0-12) and the Akron Zips (1-11) are available, no?

December 31, 2012 at 11:32 am 2 comments

The Year in Review – MJ4MF 2012

The thank-you note that I posted earlier today was premature. This afternoon, the good folks at WordPress delivered annual statistics for the MJ4MF blog.

How revealing.

The most popular post of the year was At 41, I’m Pretty Happy (1,640 views). It’s good to know that my old age is a topic of interest.

And when 1,796 people went searching for “ant” on October 6, they were directed to an image on Mathy Animals. (Phishers?)

For what it’s worth, I think my best posts this year were 12 Math Knock-Knock Jokes and Math Tom Swifties. But what do I know?

No matter you’re reason for visiting, thanks for stopping by in 2012.

Thanks, also, to those who encouraged folks to stop by, like Valerie Strauss of The Answer Sheet (Washington Post), Casey Frushour at Casey’s Head, and Mike at Spiked Math.

And big props to Xander Henderson, Outlier Babe, Jims Maher, and Keith Raskin for providing commentary.

(Should you care, feel free to take a peek at the MJ4MF year-end report from WordPress.)

December 30, 2012 at 11:55 pm Leave a comment

Giving Thanks

The end of the year is a good time to reflect and be thankful for all that we have. I have two fantastic, five-year-old sons who love math and their daddy — what more could a man want?

Eli is thankful, too. This is the note he wrote to his teacher for the Math Enrichment homework she asked him to complete during the holiday break:

Thank You For Homework

When I asked why he was thankful for homework, he said, “Because this was fun!”

Checking sales on Amazon Author Central tonight, I was thankful to the 299 folks who bought a copy of Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks from December 17‑23, making it the best-selling week for my silly joke book yet. In fact, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, an astounding 928 people bought my book; people who, apparently, are unaware that they could have gotten not one but two venti, decaf, sugar-free, non-fat, vanilla soy, extra hot, no foam, mocha cappuccinos with three shots, light whip, extra syrup, cinnamon and sprinkles at Starbucks for the exact same price. Oh, well… their loss.

These numbers represent a sales increase of nearly 40% compared to the 2011 holiday season. My financial planner previously predicted that I’d be able to retire at age 65; but, if this trend continues, I might be able to retire at age 64 9/10.

Allow me to take this opportunity to thank all of you, whether you read my blog posts religiously in 2012, stopped by only once in a blue moon, bought Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks from a local, independent bookstore, or stole a copy from your local library. I appreciate your support, in whatever form it takes.

Wishing you peace, joy, and happiness in 2013, y’all. May you occasionally laugh so hard that milk comes out of your nose.

December 30, 2012 at 2:22 am 1 comment

Christmas Eve Numerology

Yes, today is Christmas Eve, but more importantly, it’s December 24. That bodes well for numerologists. Compliments of today’s date, here’s a number puzzle for you.

  1. Write today’s date in the form mm/dd/yy.
  2. Remove the slashes (/) to leave a six-digit number.
  3. Add the digits of that number.
  4. Divide the six-digit number from Step 2 by the sum you obtained in Step 3.
  5. Take the square root of the result.

As your special bonus, insert the result of Step 5 where it says [number] in the URL below, then enter that URL into your browser. Enjoy! And happy holidays![number].html

More math…

The result in Step 4 isn’t all that unusual. In fact, there are 120 dates in 2012 that, when the six-digit date is divided by the sum of those six digits, the result is an integer. (If the six‑digit date starts with a leading zero, just drop it.) But the result in Step 5 happens far less frequently — there are only 5 dates in 2012 for which Step 4 yields a square number. Can you find the other four?

December 24, 2012 at 6:09 am 3 comments

The Twelve Days of Crisp Math – Day 12

Oh, good, you’ve arrived! Today is December 23, and below are some jokes to celebrate the Twelfth Day of Crisp Math. But if you’re sad that this glorious holiday is coming to an end, check back tomorrow for something extra special…

If you had 5 apples in one hand and 7 apples in other hand, what would you have?
Very large hands!

Since it is the last day, there should probably be a joke involving large numbers.

Take a positive integer n. No, wait, n is too large; take a positive integer k.

December 23, 2012 at 12:12 am Leave a comment

The Twelve Days of Crisp Math – Day 11

It’s the Eleventh Day of Crisp Math, the next‑to‑last day of this joyous season. Here’s a joke about being next‑to‑last.

In college, I took a math class with 600 other students, and I got the lowest score on the midterm. The scores were posted on the wall in the math building, and as I was looking at them, the guy who got the second-lowest score was making fun of me. “How’s it feel to have the lowest score?” he asked.

I said, “You really want to know?” The next day, I dropped the course.

December 22, 2012 at 12:12 am Leave a comment

Is It Yours? It’s Not Mayan…

Maya CalendarIt’s December 21. You’re here. I’m here. So much for the prophecy of the Mayan calendar.

So, will someone please call Ms. Angelou and tell her she had it wrong?

Actually, the Mayan calendar never predicted the apocalypse. (Nor was it developed by Maya Angelou. Or Maya Rudolph. or Maya Lin. Or anyone else named Maya.) In truth, one cycle of the Mayan calendar is ending, so a new cycle is about to begin. It’s not a like a time bomb that will explode when the cycle ends. It’s more like the odometer of a car rolling over.

While I can forgive folks who misread the Mayan calendar, I have less patience for folks who misunderstand our calendar.

I recently received an email that stated the following:

This year, December has five Saturdays, five Sundays, and five Mondays. This will only happen once every 824 years.

Oish. Really? I wish that folks who forward this kind of nonsense would, at a minimum, look at a calendar. (At a maximum, I wish they would lose my contact info.)

The good folks at will gladly show you the calendar for December of any year you like. And if you look at the calendar for December in 2018, 2029, 2035, 2040, 2046, 2057, 2063, 2068, 2074, 2085, 2091, 2096, or any of 105 other years within 824 years of today, you’ll see that they all have five Saturdays, five Sundays, and five Mondays. Consequently, it doesn’t seem that December 2012 is terribly special.

The folks at also have a nice explanation of why the math in the email that I received is all wrong (though their article is based on July 2011 which had five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays, and they disprove an argument saying that such an occurrence happens once every 823 years; but, whatever).

I suspect that most folks are unaware that our calendar repeats in a 28‑year cycle. And I’d bet that even fewer realize there is a nice pattern of 6‑11‑6‑5 years when the calendar repeats… assuming you skip those nasty century years, like 1900 and 2100, that fail to include a leap day.

Still, I think most reasonably intelligent humans should recognize that a claim like “only once every 824 years” has to be an exaggeration.

But perhaps that’s the problem: I’m assuming that people who forward emails like this are reasonably intelligent.

Along similar lines, here’s a math trick that I’ve received several times via email:

  1. Take the last two digits of the year in which you were born.
  2. Now add the age you will be this year. (That is, if you’ve already had your birthday this year, add your current age. If you haven’t, add the age you’ll turn on your birthday this year.)
  3. The result will be 112 for everyone in the whole, wide world.

There’s only one problem with this trick: It doesn’t work.

For someone like Besse Cooper, who was born in 1896, the result will be 212.

For someone like my twin five-year-old sons, who were born in 2007, the result will be 12.

In fact, the trick won’t work for anyone born before 1900 or after 2000. Based on data about age distribution, the result will not be 112 for approximately 15% of the U.S. population. The yellow bars in the graph below indicate the ages for which this trick does not work.

Age Distibution U.S.

A better statement of this “trick” might be…

  1. Take the year in which you were born.
  2. Now add the age that you will be this year.
  3. The result will be 2012 for everyone in the whole, wide world.

Completely correct! But not much of a trick anymore, is it?

December 21, 2012 at 7:14 am Leave a comment

The Twelve Days of Crisp Math – Day 10

It’s the Tenth Day of Crisp Math, and there are lots of jokes involving the number 10.

How many tents can a campground hold?
Ten, because ten tents make a whole.

The following is for those students who didn’t do much during the fall semester, but who think they can engender some good will by giving a holiday gift to their professors.

A failing student showed up to the math professor’s office with a hundred-dollar bottle of scotch. The professor objected, “I’m sorry, taking a gift from a student would be unethical.”

The student said, “I understand. But what if I sell it to you for $10?”

The math professor thought for a moment. “At that price, I’ll take a whole case!”

December 21, 2012 at 12:12 am Leave a comment

The Twelve Days of Crisp Math – Day 9

You’ll go head-over-heels for the joke we’ll use to celebrate the Ninth Day of Crisp Math.

There were 99 people on a boat. The boat flipped over. How many people were left?

This reminds of a joke (as it were) that my mom used to tease me with.

Pete and Repeat were on a boat. Pete fell out. Who was left?


Pete and Repeat were on a boat. Pete fell out. Who was left?


Pete and Repeat were on a boat. Pete fell out. Who was left?

December 20, 2012 at 12:12 am Leave a comment

The Twelve Days of Crisp Math – Day 8

For the Eighth Day of Crisp Math, here’s a problem for you. Best of luck solving it before Day 9…

If you choose an answer to this question at random, what is the probability that you will be correct?

A. 25%
B. 50%
C. 60%
D. 25%

December 19, 2012 at 12:12 am Leave a comment

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About MJ4MF

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

MJ4MF (offline version)

Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, NCTM, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and other purveyors of exceptional literature.

Past Posts

December 2012

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