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December 17th, 2007

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The Evolution of Teaching Math

June 9th, 2007

The Evolution of Teaching Math
(Four variations of the same theme)

From  http://www.pen.k12.va.us/Div/Winchester/jhhs/math/humor/teachmth.html How a math problem changed its look …

Variation #1:

Up to the 1960’s

A peasant sells a bag of potatoes for $10.
His costs amount to 4/5 of his selling price.
What is his profit?

In the early 1970’s

A farmer sells a bag of potatoes for $10.
His costs amount to 4/5 of his selling price, i.e., $8.
What is his profit?

1970’s (new math)

A farmer exchanges a set P of potatoes with a set M of money.
The cardinality of the set M is equal to $10 and each element of M is worth $1.
Draw 10 big dots representing the elements of M.
The set of production cost is comprised of 2 big dots less then the set M.
Represent C as a subset of M and give the answer to the question:
What is the cardinality of the set of profits?


A farmer sells a bag of potatoes for $10.
His production costs are $8 and his profit is $2.
Underline, the word “potatoes” and discuss with your classmates.


A farmer sells a bag of potatoes for $10.00.
His production costs are 0.80 of his revenue.
On your calculator graph revenue versus costs.
Run the “POTATO” program on your computer to determine the profit.
Discuss the result with the other students in your group.
Write a brief essay that analyzes how this example relates to the real world of economics.



Variation #2:

From the Feb. ’96 Reader’s Digest:

1960s arithmetic test:

“A logger cuts and sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is four-fifths of that amount. What is his profit?”

’70s new-math test:

“A logger exchanges a set (L) of lumber for a set (M) of money. The cardinality of Set M is 100. The set C of production costs contains 20 fewer points. What is the cardinality of Set P of profits?”

’80s “dumbed-down” version:

“A logger cuts and sells a truckload of lumber for $100. Her cost is $80, her profit is $20. Find and circle the number 20.”

’90s version:

“An unenlightened logger cuts down a beautiful stand of 100 trees in order to make a $20 profit. Write an essay explaining how you feel about this as a way to make money. Topic for discussion: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel?”



Variation #3:

From issue #91 of Recreational & Educational Computing

Teaching Math in 1996

By laying off 40% of its loggers, a company improves its stock price from $80 to $100. How much capital gain per share does the CEO make by exercising his options at $80? Assume capital gains are no longer taxed, because this encourages investment.

Teaching Math in 1997

A company “outsources” all of its loggers. The firm saves on benefits, and when demand for its products is down, the logging work force can easily be cut back. The average logger employed by the company earned $50,000, had three weeks vacation, a nice retirement plan and medical insurance. The contracted logger charges $30 per hour. Was outsourcing a good move?

Teaching Math in 1998

A laid-off logger with four kids at home and a ridiculous alimony from his first failed marriage comes into the logging company corporate offices and goes postal, mowing down 16 executives and a couple of secretaries, and gets lucky when he nails a politician on the premises collecting his kickback. Was outsourcing the loggers a good move for the company?

Teaching Math in 1999

A laid-off logger serving time in Folsom Prison for blowing away several people is being trained as a COBOL Programmer in order to work on Y2K projects. What is the probability that the automatic cell doors will open on their own as of 00:01, 01/01/00?


Variation #4:

From John Funk and his daughter

Teaching Math in 1950:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the price.
What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1960:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80.
What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1970:
A logger exchanges a set, “L”, of lumber for a set, “M”, of money.
The cardinality of set “M” is 100. Each element is worth one dollar.
Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set “M.”
The set “C”, the cost of production contains 20 fewer points than set “M”
Represent the set “C” as a subset of set “M” and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set “P” of profits?

Teaching Math in 1980:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20.
Your assignment is to – Write and underline the number “20”.

Teaching Math in 1990:
By cutting down beautiful trees and desecrating the precious forest a logger makes $20.
What do you think of this way of making a living?
Topic for class participation after answering the question:
How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees? – There are no wrong answers.

Teaching Math in 2000:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is $120.
How does an Enron Accountant determine that his profit margin is $275?

Teaching Math in 2010 (in California):
“El hachero vende un camion cargapor 100,000 pesos.
La cuestade production es… ”


Beers Not Bombs

June 7th, 2007

Does it seem like there are more conflicts in the world now than ever before?  People fly off the handle easier than ever too.  Too much tension?  Who knows?

I think it all comes down to “man’s” instinct to survive and is a “me” versus “you” mentality.  Have you ever thought, the whole world is against me?  That is not true, but is instinct in all of us.  It is everywhere: me versus you, man versus woman, Christian versus Jew, U.S. versus other countries, kill or be killed competition.

Here is another reason there may be so much tension in today’s society.  People like to complain and if there is nothing to complain about then something is made up.

I think if everyone helps everyone else out, the conflict goes away.  If you are no longer an enemy with a conflict, there is nothing to fight about.  I think that is why America is great.  The majority of the population is willing to help others out.  Americans realize that “what goes around, comes around” and everybody falls on hard times.  Differing opinions are OK.

I have a suggestion.  “Beers Not Bombs“.  By this, I mean slow down, relax, do whatever you do to wind down.  I am not encouraging drinking at all.  I just think “Beers Not Bombs” sounds better than “Stop yer Bitchin'” or “Quitchyer Bitchin”.  Stop fighting and help somebody out.

Try this next time someone poses a conflict to you…consider that their opinion.  Everybody has one.  Sit back, relax, have a beer (or an iced tea) and consider their opinion.  You don’t have to agree with their opinion.  If views differ, that is no reason to punch each other with fists, shoot each other, call names or in the government’s case, drop bombs.  That is why we should all get along and enjoy “Beers Not Bombs“.  Cheers!

What part of “No Solicitation” do you not understand?

May 23rd, 2007

In my housing development is a large sign that says “No Solicitation”.  Some companies think that does not apply to them.  We get company solicitations for lawn care, windows, vacuum cleaners and much more.  Why?

When I am mowing the grass, playing with my dog, watching Nascar or any of my other “wind down” hobbies, I don’t want to buy services or stuff. 

Chemlawn is one company that I won’t do business with because they seem to be multliple offenders of the “No Solicitation” rule.  Please, don’t call me, I’ll call you. 

Coming soon to www.abadbuy.com you will find a list bad buys and poor solicitations.  I will add door to door solicitations as well as telephone solicitors.  The same applies to my phone.  I don’t want to get home from work to see 5 messages on the voice mail, only to find them all trying to sell me stuff.  Please, don’t call me, I’ll call you.

May 1st, 2007

Recruiters do not work for you; they work for employers.

March 29th, 2007

Did you know that job recruiters do not work for the employee!  They work for the employer to find employees.  There is more information at the link below:


Let’s consider this…The employer pays the recruiter to find employees and they are on the employers side to get you employed for the lowest wage possible so the employer and recruiter can profit the most. 

Here is what got me thinking about this:  A recruiter called me to interview me for a position he didn’t even have.  He had no job to offer me.  He just wanted to get me into his office, 40 miles a way, to discuss a potential offer in the future.  That sounds like a waste of time to me.  It could be good networking, but will probably lead to wasted time and money.  Joe Hodgson works at J.P. Hawkins LTD and seems to be wasting time. 

Think about that next time a recruiter calls to get you in for an interview or if they try to “help” you find your dream job.  The recruiter just might be trying to pad their own bottom line.

Big business loses control of the important stuff.

February 16th, 2007

You know what really burns my butt…A flame about three feet high.

You know what else burns me up.  Big business.  They get too big and get too cocky.  They lose sight of trying to solve a problem quickly and efficiently.  They offer their employees to help with problems, but the employee doesn’t get paid well.  They also spend money haphazardly, not getting the best value for the corporation.  That is just my opinion though.  Just say no to big bidness.  They are a bad buy.

 If you would like to keep it small, you can hire an engineer.  Hire me.  One engineer but lots of new ideas.  I don’t think I fit the typical engineer introvert, narrow mind.  Do you want to hire a creative marketer with engineer intelligence?  Give me a call.  Do you want a website?  Do you have questions about the Internet, computers or software?  Do you need a professional blogger to help your business grow?  Let me help.

An example of a small business that made a big buzz is the story of the Boston marketing company promoting a new cartoon.  Authorities arrested two men in connection with electronic light boards depicting a middle-finger-waving moon man that triggered repeated bomb scares around Boston on Wednesday and prompted the closure of bridges and a stretch of the Charles River.  Meanwhile, police and prosecutors vented their anger at Turner Broadcasting System Inc., the parent company of CNN, which said the battery-operated light boards were aimed at promoting the late-night Adult Swim cartoon “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.”  Check out the news story below…


I promise not to do that kind of scare to promote your business.  I just want to show that a smaller group of people can produce astronomical results with innovatave, new ideas.  Do you want to bring in fresh, new ideas to your company.  Let me help.  Email at badbuy@abadbuy.com.


What is this website about?

January 24th, 2007

This website is about putting complaints about a company on the web.  It might make some people mad.  It might make the company fix the problem.  If the problem is fixed, we will make that known too.  www.abadbuy.com is a problem solver, a list of problem areas, the Anti-BBB.  As a group we can hold their feet to the fire.

Do you have a company, service or product that turned out to be a bad buy?  Tell others about it here.