Thursday, September 10, 2009

Very Much Needed

Rain, Rain came today.
For all too long you've been away.
Arid creatures want to play.

Rain, Rain you fell from high.
Big fat drops fell from the sky,
Wetting all that time left dry.

Rain, Rain you quenched our thirst.
We were thinking we had been cursed.
It's been so long, it's like the first.

Rain, Rain please hang around.
Keep sending moisture to the ground.
Turn to green all that is brown.

Rain, Rain splash on my face.
Slake me in your cool embrace.
All that is gone, please do replace.

Rain, Rain you're geographic,
You cause problems with our traffic.
But I'm grateful you're not holographic.

Rain, Rain you've got your own Rhyme
From Mother Goose, how sublime.
I'm so jealous. Is that a crime?

Rain, Rain you even get your own Blog!
You sure can be a publicity hog.
Now I can't even go for a jog.

Rain, Rain you have such great powers.
You can cause the death of millions of flowers
When you selfishly withhold your life-giving showers.

Rain, Rain so where have you been?
We've been down here on Earth taking one on the chin.
Now that you've come, I sure hope you have a twin.

Rain, Rain our umbrellas' been forlorn.
With your arrival, our apparati we adorn.
We just wish they were a bit more worn.

Rain, Rain without you we yearn.
Your long term absence gives us much concern.
For our garbage and tree limbs we, by law, can't burn.

Rain, Rain it's feast or its famine.
May you last longer than a spawning salmon.
Stay for a while, won't you? A-men.

Rain, Rain you've come down in tons.
And I hope that your presence has only begun.
But if not, you've had your day in the sun

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tower of Hanoi

Long ago in Brahma, or was it Bali, maybe it was Burma, definitely NOT Boston, the god was Brahma, or was it Buddah, definitely not Bob, a group of Hindu priests were charged with the daunting task of moving 64 giant golden disks stacked on a giant pole to a different pole. Why? 'cause they were told to by someone of great importance. The disks were originally stacked so that the largest disk was on the bottom, and each successive stacked disk was slightly smaller in diameter (radius, circumference, surface area, and volume too). The priests had to not only move ginormous golden disks, but there were rules too! Arrrg, rules.

In the process of moving disks, there were only two other poles on which the could (and had to) temporarily stack the disks. Additionally, and this one's the real kicker, no disk of larger radius could be stacked upon a disk with smaller radius. Great.

As if that wasn't enough for them to decide to abandon the project and possibly their religion, the great, superior being that ordered them to do such a random, arduous task instructed them that upon completion of the restacking, the temple would turn to dust and the world would VANISH, including all the fruits of their ridiculous labor.

With blind, faithful religious fervor, they set out, never bothering to "hustle," or to actually calculate how long the task would take them.

That's where I come in.

Before determining how long it will take them, we need to determine how many moves they will have to make with the disks. For the sake of clarity and conserving energy, I'll start small.

A typical modern puzzle has 6-10 smaller disks with 3 dowel rods. Something like this:
One way to see if there is a way to "count" the number of total moves for n disks is to start with one disk, then two, then three, etc. and look for a pattern. A mental or actual experiment would yield the following results:
  • one disk takes one move
  • two disks takes three moves
  • three disks takes seven moves
  • four disks takes fifteen moves
Continuing in such a manner will eventually lead one to the formula that for n disks, it will take 2^n - 1 moves. For example, four disks: n = 4. 2^4 = 16, and 16-1 = 15. This equation can also be mathematically derived by defining a recursive relation, then reducing it down to the finite sum of a geometric series. I won't get into that here, but ask me to show you in person some time . . .

So as it turns out, in the case of the Hindu priests, it would take one move less than 2^64. Wow. In case you're wondering, that comes out to

18,446,744,073,709,551,615 moves!

That's JUST over 18 quintillion moves. Assuming these priest worked in shifts around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, not even taking leap day off, not even taking time out to update their Facebook status, making an astounding and doubtful ONE MOVE PER SECOND, it would take them a shad (shade + tad) over 580 BILLION years pull it off . . . only to be reduced to ashes at the end.

Totally anticlimactic. Think about THAT next time someone knocks over your house of cards or destroys your sand castle.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A day in the life

Now that school has started back up, I'm trapped in my daily routine of unfulfilling minutia. Do this, then that, then that, then that again, then do it all over again the next day. Each moment is filled with actions that repeat themselves Monday through Friday.

Get up at 5:00, make coffee, check for the newspaper, watch Sportscenter, check for the paper, drink coffee, check for the damn paper, feign interest in the Houston Astros season, get the paper, look at the paper's pretty pictures, do the crossword, pretend to care about the American League highlights, feed dogs, personal hygiene, put on clothes the wife set out for me the night before, wake up family, get kids ready for school, see the wife off to work, feed the kids chicken Cordon Bleus for breakfast, watch SportsCenter top 10 highlights again, finish coffee, get in the car and drive away, turn around to make sure I closed the garage door and turned off the coffee maker, go by the in-laws' house so my kids can say "hi," get in the line to drop the kids off at school, make room for someone trying to turn into the drop-off line from the wrong *friggin*lane, give the kids kisses, hugs, and priceless advice, drop them off, get to the high school, curse when I find out my classroom hasn't been cleaned, greet the 1st tutorial student of the day, resist the urge to tell them they are there 15 minutes before tutorials officially begin, TEACH MATH AT A FRENETIC, EUPHORIC, NON-STOP PACE, watch the clock for 20 minutes until my contract day ends, go to the in-laws to pick up the kids, spend 20 minutes telling my kids "we're leaving now, come on, I'm leaving without you, get your stuff, just 1 more minute, I'm serious, you can walk home, give Grammy and Poppy hugs and kisses, where are your shoes? and socks? do you have your bag? your homework? I'm leaving. . . . ," get home, check the mail, put the kids on their homeworks, sign their folders, listen to the stories of their day at school while I do a little housework to impress the wife before she gets home, feed the doges, feed and water the chickens and check their eggs, tell the neighbor girl to go home 'cause the kids are doing homework and that 3-year-old girls shouldn't come over to play without an adult, tell my son to practice his piano, make subtraction worksheets for my daughter, listen to the sound of no piano playing, yell a bit, check homemade math homework for correctness, correct a misplayed piano note, greet the wife when she gets home, help with making dinner making next-day's lunches and picking out next day's clothes (except my own), eat with the family while we talk about all the upcoming events that we need to fit into our schedule, I clean the dishes while the kids dote on their mother as she sits in the recliner relaxing while ET and the local news play, coerce my kids away from their mother and "encourage" them to take the dogs for a walk around the block with me, I take the dogs for a walk by myself, water the dogs, get the kids into the shower, listen to the wife's monologue about her day, nod in period affirmation while the wife speaks while trying to determine in the back of my mind if my child has spent too much time in the shower wasting water, I yell "hurry it up in there!! You wanna turn into a raisin??," get the kids dressed, make them read on their own a bit, do a bit of grading/planning for school while the wife watches primetime TV, tell the kids to go to bed, recreate on the world wide web, tell the kids to go to bed again, check the Astros score on the internet, tell the kids if they don't go to be now they can sleep outside with the dogs, personal hygeine, tell the kids they are WAY up past their bedtime, check out ESPN on the tube while doing crunches, burpees, and pushups, demand that the kids go to bed or I'll take away their birthdays, personal hygiene, read a book while the wife watches the evening news, turn off the TV that plays to a sleeping audience, finish the chapter in my book, check on the (finally) sleeping kids, lay in the dark in bed thinking about all the things I didn't get done today and all the things I have to do tomorrow, finally doze off only to be awaken every 3 hours by the incessant noisome barks from my ADD yellow lab, wake up WAY TOO SOON.

At least today is almost behind me and tomorrow's another BRAND NEW DAY.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thoughts on a particular color

Green is . . .
  • not my favorite color.
  • the color of my envy for those whose favorite color is green.
  • verdant.
  • associated with Martians, even though Mars is red.
  • is a noun, adjective, and a mistaken adverb.
  • is the best color my kids can get at school for their conduct.
  • is the worst color my kids' hot dogs can be in their school cafeteria.
  • is the actual color of my kids' hot dogs in their school cafeteria.
  • is nearly chartreuse
  • the latest fad.
  • very expensive.
  • something worth going.
  • not easy to be.
  • the old color of my grass before the summer of 2009.
  • an unnatural hair color.
  • a signal meaning "go" for a grape, "wait" for a banana, and "stop" for a school hot dog (a la Mitch Hedberg).
  • is a funny color for a lantern.
  • the color of some bugs (see photo above or click here.)
  • the only color that can get you pinched if you're not wearing it on one particular day.
  • a color that often appears in the loo after a fresh insertion of "2000 flushes." (oooh gross . . . )
  • a difficult topic for an entire blog.
Tell me what green is to you by replying.