In a Word

n. basking in the sun

In a Word

n. a helper of the blind

I was recently told the following story of a piece of silverware now existing in the plate-room at Marlborough House. One day the Prince of Wales, on alighting from his carriage at the door of a house where he was about to pay a visit, saw a blind man and his dog vainly trying to effect a passage across the thoroughfare in the midst of a throng of carriages. With characteristic good-nature the Prince came to the rescue, and successfully piloted the pair to the other side of the street. A short time afterwards he received a massive silver inkstand with the following inscription:– ‘To the Prince of Wales. From one who saw him conduct a blind beggar across the street. In memory of a kind and Christian action.’ Neither note nor card accompanied the offering, and the name of the donor has never been discovered. But I think that this anonymous gift is not the least prized of the many articles in the Prince’s treasure chamber. I can vouch for the authenticity of this anecdote, as it came to me direct from a young English lady who, by the kindness of a member of the Prince of Wales’ household, was shown through Marlborough House during the absence of its owners, and the inkstand in question was pointed out to her by her conductor.

— Unsigned article, The Australian Journal, January 1893

Math Notes

j.a.h. hunter math notes

Discovered by J.A.H. Hunter.

Piece Work

Mathematician Henri Picciotto was visiting a local McDonald’s with his son when he noticed that Chicken McNuggets are served in boxes of 6, 9, and 20 nuggets. This means that you can easily buy, say, exactly 15 nuggets, but not 16. What’s the largest “non-McNugget” number?

He worked it out on a napkin: It’s 43. If you want any number of Chicken McNuggets larger than 43, you can get them by buying some combination of 6-, 9-, and 20-nugget boxes. But if you want exactly 43, you’re out of luck.

(That was in the 1980s. Today you can buy 4 McNuggets in a Happy Meal, which simplifies the problem. Perhaps McDonald’s was listening.)

Hot Wheels

Robert Martin offered a novel addition to the automobile in 1919: a stove. His invention would direct hot gases from the engine to a cooking chamber in the passenger compartment, where they could warm food even while the car was in transit. The stove’s lid is fitted with compression springs to prevent your casserole dish from rattling on the way to grandmother’s house.

Martin promises that the heating coil is sealed, so there’s no danger of contaminating the food by “the poisonous and injurious constituents of the exhaust gases” or of “smutting or blackening the cooking vessels by the soot.” So don’t worry about that.

Coming and Going

Surprisingly natural palindromes:

  • Lepers repel.
  • Step on no pets.
  • Never odd or even.
  • Stella won no wallets.
  • No lemons, no melon.
  • Now, sir, a war is won.
  • Ma is as selfless as I am.
  • Draw pupil’s lip upward.
  • Won’t lovers revolt now?
  • Nurse, I spy gypsies. Run!
  • Oh, who was it I saw, oh who?
  • No, it is open on one position.
  • Some men interpret nine memos.

E.L. Fletcher proposed a telephone conversation:

“No! … Too bad! … Ah! I was never, ever, even tired! … Now, is Eire very sordid? … Oh! Won’t I? … Did I? … Was I not up, spot on? … I saw no shell! … I saw it! … I did! I? … Fired? … No wonder! … It saw dad was well left … I sat, rapt! … I did? … Won’t i? … No! … Red? … No! … Prevent it? … Never! … Ponder on it now! … Did it part as it fell? … Lew saw dad was tired … No wonder, if i did it! … I was ill, eh, son? … Was i? … No tops put on, I saw … I did it? … No? … Who did? … Rosy reveries? I wonder! … It never, ever, even saw I had a boot on! …”

Sound Sense

Here is a class of a dozen boys, who, being called up to give their names were photographed by the instantaneous process just as each one was commencing to pronounce his own name. The twelve names were Oom, Alden, Eastman, Alfred, Arthur, Luke, Fletcher, Matthew, Theodore, Richard, Shirmer, and Hisswald. Now it would not seem possible to be able to give the correct name to each of the twelve boys, but if you practice the list over to each one, you will find it not a difficult task to locate the proper name for every one of the boys.

Click for Answer


  • Newton was born the year that Galileo died.
  • Cole Porter’s summer home was called No Trespassing.
  • 66339 = (6 × 6)3 + 39
  • Could you have had different parents?
  • “A good conscience is a continual Christmas.” — Ben Franklin

UPDATE: The first item here is incorrect. The dates coincide only if one uses the Gregorian calendar to date Galileo’s death and the Julian to date Newton’s birth. The two events occurred 361 days apart, which puts them in separate years on both calendars. Apparently this is a very common error. (Thanks, Igor.)


No sun — no moon!
No morn — no noon —
No dawn — no dusk — no proper time of day —

No sky — no earthly view —
No distance looking blue —
No road — no street — no “t’other side the way ” —

No end to any Row —
No indications where the Crescents go —
No top to any steeple —
No recognitions of familiar people —

No courtesies for showing ‘em —
No knowing ‘em!
No travelling at all — no locomotion,
No inkling of the way — no notion —

“No go” — by land or ocean —
No mail — no post —
No news from any foreign coast —
No park — no ring — no afternoon gentility —

No company — no nobility —
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member —
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,


— Thomas Hood, in The Book of Days, 1832

Four Puzzles

  1. You’re playing bridge. Each of four players is dealt 13 cards. You and your partner find that between you you hold all 13 cards of one suit. Is this more or less likely than that the two of you hold no cards of one suit?
  2. As he left a restaurant, a man gave the cashier a card bearing the number 102004180. The cashier charged him nothing. Why?
  3. How can you position a marble on the floor of an empty room so that I can’t hit it with a baseball?
  4. Thrice what number is twice that number?
Click for Answer