Posts tagged ‘phone’

11 Things to Hate About Conference Calls

Old PhoneHave you noticed that the word telecommute can be split into the two-word phrase telecom mute?

Elegant, isn’t it? After all, there’s nothing I enjoy more than hitting the “mute” button so I can microwave a Hot Pocket® while doing a conference call from home.

There are a few old jokes at the intersection of math and telephony:

I’m sorry. The number you dialed is imaginary. Please rotate your phone 90°, and try again.

When I dial into conference calls, I hope beyond hope that the dial-in number is imaginary. But no such luck.

Got math problems? Call 1 – 800 – (7 × 5 + 36) – (212).

Both of those jokes are terrible, and I apologize. But you came here for math jokes, and since I’m about to rant about something that isn’t math-related, I figured I should lead with something that connects the rant below with the reason for your visit. And those are the only jokes I know that even tangentially relate math to conference calls.

So, there ya go.

Now, my rant. I hate conference calls. I mean, a lot. We’re talking full-on despision here, like the kind Tartaglia had for Cardano. Conference calls are occasionally useful and productive, but typically they involve too many people and waste too much time. If I’m never invited to another conference call, I promise I won’t complain about feeling lonely.

Dave Barry said:

If there’s one word that describes why the human race never has and never will reach its full potential, that one word would be: meetings.

Replace “meetings” with “conference calls,” and it’s equally true.

I have 11 reasons for despising these unproductive time-sucks, but feel free to add additional reasons in the Comments section.

  1. People who dial in late. For God’s sake, please don’t dial in 10 minutes late and then expect the rest of us to catch you up on what’s been discussed so far. Show up on time.
  2. People who dial in late and announce themselves. As if it isn’t bad enough that you’re late, now the conversation is interrupted while the rest of us hear your name. If your conference call provider says, “After the tone, please state your name and then press the pound key,” just press the pound key; and if your provider says, “Please announce yourself,” don’t.
  3. Someone bumping the redial button. Now we all have to hear ten (or more) melodic beeps. Oh, for Pete’s sake, please put your finger back in your nose so this doesn’t happen again.
  4. People who coordinate activities for those in the main office. For instance, someone interrupts the conference call to sing “Happy Birthday” and deliver cupcakes to the 8 people who are gathered in a conference room. Meanwhile, the 14 of us in other locations have to imagine how good those cupcakes must taste, based on what sounds like giraffes chewing bubble gum on the other end of the line.
  5. Trying to focus for an hour on voices from a far-away land. I know I can’t do it, and I’m not alone. Dr. Mike Hollier from Dolby Communications explains,

    …if we visualize our entire cognitive capability as the size of a football field, then our conscious intelligence — the portion of our intelligence that’s available in the moment — would be the size of a tiny grain of sand. In face-to-face meetings, we don’t need to strain our conscious intelligence to figure out who’s speaking… But conference call audio is so hard to decipher that we need to devote our entire conscious intelligence to analyzing audio information. With our conscious intelligence so taxed, paying attention to the subject of the conference call is exhausting.

  6. Multi-tasking douchepickles who continually ask, “I’m sorry, could you repeat the question?” Sorry, Biff, I cannot repeat the question. But I would like you to repeat after me: I will not play Evil Genius during conference calls.
  7. Calls being continually rescheduled because one person can’t attend. Perhaps this is reasonable if the one person is the Queen Mum or the Dalai Lama. Otherwise, accept that it’s impossible to find a time that will work for 27 people, and proceed with those who are available. Be a good employee, take notes, and send a follow-up to everyone after the call — including those who couldn’t be there. That’s progress, and you won’t have to wait till June 2054 to find a mutually agreeable time.
  8. Making 15 people wait while the organizer uses his cell phone to call the one jerk-off who hasn’t dialed in yet. If he doesn’t deem the call important enough to remember it, why does the organizer think he’s important enough to warrant a reminder? Why is his time more important than yours? Send him an IM, maybe, but proceed without him.
  9. The long-distance yeller who shouts, “Okay!” from the far side of his office to the speakerphone. Are you afraid of catching a communicable disease through the phone? Or is it just that your Justin Bieber bobblehead is on the other side of the room? Please, get a little closer to the phone so we can hear you.
  10. Bad mobile connections. If you cause static for more than 5 seconds, mute yourself. If you cause static for more than 10 seconds, hang up. Nothing you have to say is so important that we should have to tolerate this. And if your input is that important, then call from a landline.
  11. Conference calls that take place when you should be driving home. No calls starting later than 4 p.m. Period. And for goodness sake, no calls after noon on Friday!

Greg at www.ihateconferencecalls.com says, “You hate conference calls? I hate them more.” Here’s a pearl of his wisdom.

I really am doing my best. I have to remember:

  • They aren’t doing this call because they hate me specifically, but rather…
  • They are doing this call because they hate humanity, and this small amount of suffering that we all share will bring us together as humans.
  • By suffering through the call, I become more human.

What do you hate about conference calls?

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April 16, 2015 at 12:13 pm Leave a comment

Can I Get Your Digits?

Saw this on a t-shirt recently:

PIN Digits Pi
It made me think about this problem involving digits.

Consider the number

1234567891011121314151617181920

obtained by writing the numbers from 1 to 20 in order side-by-side.

What’s the greatest number that can be obtained by crossing out 20 digits?

If a fetching lady or handsome gent catches your fancy by solving that problem, you might want to ask her or him…

How can I know so many digits of π and so few digits of your phone number?

And if he or she still hasn’t taken leave of you, then you could really press your luck with the following:

  1. Ask your new friend to write down a number with four or more digits.

459,163

  1. Then, have your friend add the digits.

4 + 5 + 9 + 1 + 6 + 3 = 28

  1. Subtract the sum from the original number.

459,163 – 28 = 459,135

  1. Have your friend cross out one of the digits, and then read the remaining number aloud to you.

45,935

  1. Then, miraculously announce the missing digit.

1

 

The secret to the trick? Simple. Just add the digits of the number that your friend reads aloud, and then figure out what number must be added to get the sum to a multiple of 9. Above, the digits of the number 45,935 have a sum of 26, which is 1 less than a multiple of 9, so the removed digit is 1.

 

February 23, 2015 at 10:33 pm 6 comments

Periodically Crude

Old farts will know the answer to this old trivia question:

What two letters do not appear on a phone?

And if your phone still looked like this…
Rotary Phone
then it would be a reasonable question.

But phones don’t look like that anymore. They look like this…
phone-powerof2
in which case, it’s a really dumb question. (The Q is now attached to 7, and Z hangs out with 9.)

On the other hand, the periodic table looks the same today as when Mendeleev published it in 1869, so the following trivia question may be a bit better:

What two letters never appear in a chemical abbreviation on the periodic table? (I mean anywhere, bitches.)

Shouldn’t be that hard, if you’re willing to take the time to look.

Jessica Lee made headlines back in May when she placed the following quote in her yearbook:

Fluorine uranium carbon potassium bismuth technetium helium sulfur germanium thulium oxygen neon yttrium.

Seems innocuous enough, till it’s translated with the periodic table:

Jessica Lee Quote

(A line from a Notorious B.I.G. song, for the old farts reading this.)

Are you made of nickel, cerium, arsenic and sulfur? Because you have a…

Nice AssOr maybe you’re made of copper and tellurium? Because you’re…

CuteIf you got nothing better to do today, maybe you could take a ride on a ferrous wheel…

Ferrous Wheel

September 22, 2014 at 7:56 am Leave a comment

6 Degrees of Bad Math Jokes

I once read an article that said, “To a greater or lesser degree, everything tastes like chicken.” Well, that’s true, but it’s also true that everything tastes like broccoli, to a greater or lesser degree. Carrots, to a greater degree; mint chocolate chip ice cream, to a lesser degree.

To a greater or lesser degree, some of the following jokes are funny.

What did the thermometer say to the graduated cylinder?

Thermometer and Cylinder

A scientist dropped a thermometer and a candle from the roof of a building. He observed that both objects reached the ground at the same time. Conclusion: A thermometer falls at the speed of light.

A doctor walks into a meeting, and a nurse asks why he has a rectal thermometer behind his ear. “Damn,” says the doctor, “some asshole has my pen!”

The star college football player was taking a math exam. The coach desperately needed him for the big game on Saturday, so the professor agreed to an oral exam.

“All right,” said the professor. “How many degrees are in a circle?”

“That depends,” said the boy. “How big is the circle?”

If you’re cold and there’s a right triangle nearby, stand in the corner opposite the hypotenuse. It’s always 90° over there.

The number you have dialed is imaginary. Please rotate your phone 90°, and try again.

December 27, 2013 at 10:00 pm 1 comment

Math from Car Talk

After stating this week’s Car Talk Puzzler, Tom and Ray said that the answer could be submitted via mail, email, or phone, and they gave the address, email address, and phone number. But their statement of the phone number was ambiguous. They said,

If you’d like to call us, the number is 1-888-CAR-TALK; that’s one-eight-eight-eight, two-two-seven, eight-five-squared-eight.

Near the end of the number, you’ll see that they included a “five-squared” to liven things up. No doubt, they did this to follow the lead of Ed Drewitz, a listener who suggested three alternative mnemonics for remembering the Car Talk phone number:

  • log-1 (10.27605439324)
  • 2662.8791941723
  • cos 79.11590889189° × 10,000,000,000

As part of a phone number, I was unsure how to interpret “five-squared.” Did it mean two 5’s? Or was it to be translated as 25, meaning a 2 and a 5? Converting TALK to the phone digits 8255, I was happy to see that 52 was meant to represent 25, which is what I had hoped but dubious that that’s what it was.

Later in the show, Ray and Tom discussed an interesting piece of research, which concluded that genius is passed from mothers to offspring, and that fathers have very little influence. This bummed me out. Three days ago, Alex told me, “A tablespoon is equal to 3 teaspoons, and that’s 12 quarter-teaspoons. We need 2 1/4 teaspoons, which is 9 quarters. So, we need to fill the tablespoon 9/12 full, which is 3/4.” That struck me as pretty good for a six-year-old — and I beamed with pride until I learned today that all of his mathematical acumen is likely derived from his mother. Ha-rumph.

There is, however, empirical evidence to the contrary. I recently read an article about wunderkind Jacob Barrett who has a 170 IQ and, at just 12 years old, was primed to become a paid research assistant in astrophysics. In an article in the Daily Mail, his mother Kristine Barnett admitted, “I flunked math. I know [Jacob’s ability] did not come from me.”

I don’t claim to have an IQ of 170, nor do I have a firm understanding of astrophysics. But my mother and Jacob’s mother seem to have a lot in common. My mother used to exclaim, “How the hell can x = 6, when x is a letter, and 6 is a number?”

God rest her soul. I hope she’s found peace in an algebra-free eternity.

June 30, 2013 at 4:28 pm Leave a comment

Dialed In to Math

I didn’t choose my phone number very carefully. It contains a 0 and a 1, which are not associated with any letters, so I can’t make up any cool mnemonic to remember the number. Best I can do is JEB-0812. Bummer. You can find mnemonics for your phone number at Phone Spell — though it’s more fun to create one on your own.

Old Phone

Don’t you just hate automated customer service menus?

For a list of all the ways that technology has failed to improve your quality of life, please press 3.

I once called the Psychology Hotline.

If you are obsessive-compusive, please press 1.

If you are codependent, please ask someone to press 2.

If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, and 5.

If you are paranoid, we already know who you are and what you want. Please remain on the line so we can trace the call and know where to find you.

That, however, was better than calling the Mathematics Hotline.

The number you have dialed is imaginary. Please rotate your phone 90° and try again.

Working for the phone company is a lot like being an algebraist — you regularly deal with rings and operators. But you’d likely have better colleagues at the phone company.

Who’s the nicest employee at the phone company?
The deferential operator.

Thanks for calling! Have a nice day!

February 22, 2013 at 11:29 am 1 comment

Mitch Hedberg’s Numerology

Comedian Mitch Hedberg died six years ago today, on March 29, 2005. He was just 37 years old.

Mitch Hedberg

He was known for one-liners, and one of my favorites involves data analysis (sort of):

I went to a pizzeria, I ordered a slice of pizza, and the [guy] gave me the smallest slice possible. If the pizza was a pie chart for what people would do if they found $1,000,000, [then he] gave me the “donate it to charity” slice. I would like to exchange this for the “keep it” slice, please!

Here’s an MJ4MF original, based on one of Hedberg’s lines:

Sometimes in the middle of the night, I’ll wake with a profound result or an elegant proof, so I keep a pen by my bed to write such things down. But sometimes, if the pen’s been moved, I might lie awake for hours trying to convince myself that my thoughts weren’t really that profound or the proof wasn’t really that elegant.

Here are a few other Hedberg lines that are slightly mathematical:

My lucky number is 4,000,000,000. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come in real handy when I’m gambling. “Come on, 4,000,000,000! Aw, f**k! Seven. Not even close. I need some more dice. Four billion divided by 6, at least.”

I angered the clerk in a clothing shop today. She asked me what size I was, and I said, “Actual.” Because I am not to scale. 

I hope the next time I move, I get a real easy phone number, something that’s real easy to remember. Something like 222‑2222. I would say, “Sweet.” People would say, “Mitch, how do I get a hold of you?” I’d say, “Just press 2 for a while. And when I answer, you’ll know you’ve pressed 2 enough.”

Rotary Phone

That last one reminds me of a classic math joke:

We’re sorry. The number you have dialed is imaginary. Please rotate your phone 90° and try again.

March 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm Leave a comment


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.

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