Archive for September, 2017

The Moroccan Carpets

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

It was in the Kasbah of Casablanca. Mohammed, the guide, led Jack and Jill up some narrow staircases into a large hall full of colorful carpets with intricate designs hung up on the walls, placed around on the floor, with smaller ones in piles here and there.

Jill took some photos, Mohammed vanished.

“Please sit down and enjoy a cup of tea,” said Abu Hamza, the manager of the shop.

Jack and Jill were served mint tea in tiny glass cups placed on a small decoratively carved wooden octagonal table by a servant wearing a djellaba, introduced as Mustafa.

A long discourse by Abu Hamza ensued, with carpet after carpet from large to small in sizewise descending order being presented by Abu Hamza.

Mustafa would dutifully carry each carpet and place it on the floor in front of Jack and Jill so they could inspect and admire it, while Abu Hamza detailed its history and how many years it took one or several dedicated women to make it.

The carpets started at 5,000 dollars, dropping in price until Jack and Jill decided on a small carpet, so as not to offend Abu Hamza – after such a fine presentation of Moroccan carpets being placed and neatly folded before them by Mustafa.

“We accept all credit cards, shipping anywhere in the world,” said Abu Hamza proudly.

“We’ll take that one for 150 dollars, in cash,” said Jack, Jill nodding her head vigorously with a silly smile.

“Inshallah, as you wish,” bowed Abu Hamza.

“As a special token to you, our honored, cash-paying guests, if you can work out a riddle, I will give you a superb 200 dollar carpet that it took Habiba two years to make,” offered Abu Hamza.

“We will gladly listen to your riddle,” said Jack, pulling out a notebook and pen.

“This is the riddle: Once, there were five Moroccans who had a total of 200 carpets. Previously one of them had had 12 times as many carpets, another had had three times as many, still another had had the same, yet another had had half and even another had had a third as many – at both times all carpets totaling 200. How many carpets did each of the Moroccans have previously and later?” said Abu Hamza with an enigmatic smile.

“We get the idea, Abu Hamza,” said Jack, having taken some notes. Jill pulled out a calculator.

“I’ll give you ten minutes to think about the answer to this riddle,” said Abu Hamza. “Please enjoy some more Moroccan tea.”

Jack and Jill worked out an answer to the riddle by trial and error, and were happy to be able to walk out of the shop with a neatly folded carpet under Jack’s arm.

Mohammed, the guide, suddenly appeared again to lead them to a ‘very interesting’ silver jewelry shop.

Can you work out the answer to Abu Hamza’s riddle?

The Camel Inheritance

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Sheik Abdullah ben Suleiman al Rashid was assassinated, leaving a will that only included his three sons. The will stipulated that his 35 camels be divided into 2, 3 and 9 parts among them.

The Sheik’s sons Mohammed, Barkatullah and Fawaz waxed hysterical in trying to work out what to do to comply with their father’s will.

“How can we divide a camel into two or three or even nine parts?” said Mohammed pulling anxiously on his beard.

“It is definitely not possible,” responded Barkatullah, puffing heavily on his hookah, eyes rolling.

“Perhaps we should consult the butcher so we can all get a fair share according to our father’s will,” suggested Fawaz, sipping his black coffee while Fatima adjusted his caftan.

They discussed the matter loudly for hours until their neighbor Mahmoud al Mansur got fed up with the noise disturbing his prayers. Mahmoud went to see them and suggested that the problem could easily be solved, explaining what needed to be done.

As the solution was so simple, Mohammed, Barkatullah and Fawaz quickly agreed and the division of the camels went smoothly.

“With an inheritance of 53 camels, I would have had a profit of two camels in the deal instead of one,” lamented Mahmoud al Mansur, leading the two camels to his stables.

How did Mahmoud al Mansur solve the problem of dividing Sheik Abdullah ben Suleiman al Rashid’s camels among Mohammed, Barkatullah and Fawaz, and why would he have gained two camels if there had been 53 camels in the will?

The Roxy Theater

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

It was 10 pm in the midwestern town of Dry Gulch, and the last show at the Roxy theater had just ended with all moviegoers gone home.

“Hey Molly, how many people attended the last movie ’Dead Man’s Canyon,’ starring John Waylon and Mary Pineworthy,” shouted the theater manager Barney Mudd through the door of the ticket office.

“No idea, Barney. I just sell tickets around here,” replied mop-haired Molly as she wiggled her plump body out of the armchair, getting ready to go home.

“The boss is on the phone and wants to know, Molly,” insisted Barney Mudd. “So you’d better figure it out quick, chop-chop.”

“Look Barney, I sold ticket to adults for $3.60 and for $1.50 to kids tonight. The take was $540 and there weren’t many kids. You go figure it out, Barney,” said Molly as she locked the door and left for home.

Barney Mudd remained standing at the Roxy theater’s entrance with a bewildered expression on his face, watching Molly waddle home. Then he rushed off to call his son Leonhard, who was good at math.

Can you help Barney Mudd and Leonhard work out how many adults and children attended the movie show that evening so he can tell his boss and go home to his wife Mildred?


The Globe Balls Quiz Show

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

The host of the show, Barnstorm McDoodle, stood on an elevated podium studded with multi-colored lights. Barnstorm was wearing a jacket splattered with bright small reflectors, flashing a wide Hollywood smile under a pencil thin moustache – his thick, abundant black hair extending backwards like freshly plowed furrows in a field.

A large, transparent plastic globe full of thousands of small colored plastic balls stood in the middle of the floor between Barnstorm McDoodle and the opposing consoles of team A and B. From the globe a tube led into a small tray.

“Tonight, the contestants – Jack and Jill on my left, Mabel and Seymour on my right – can win a lot of money by guessing how many balls there are in this large globe,” announced an animated Barnstorm McDoodle, waving his arms regally to contestants and audience.

“But…if they fail…they win nothing, and the pot will be doubled for next week’s contestants,” added Barnstorm McDoodle.

“To investigate the contents of the globe, the contestants will enter numbers at their panel, to be repeated on this large screen. The number will divide all the balls in the globe into equal groups, ungrouped balls rolling out from the globe through this tube into the tray – which balls my lovely assistant Jane will fetch and replace in the globe.”

“The first team to correctly state how many balls the globe contains will win an amount in dollars equal to the number of balls,” proclaimed Barnstorm McDoodle.

“Any team can request a five minute break to work out a guess, but if it’s wrong they’ll be disqualified, so let’s get on with the show,” shouted Barnstorm McDoodle.

“But first a word from our sponsor, Ace Dogfoods.”

After Ace Dogfoods’ prolonged message, Jack and Jill entered “2” at their panel, which then appeared on the large screen. One ball rolled out into the tray and Jane stepped forth briskly on long legs to put the ball back into the globe.

“Write it all down, Jill,” said Jack.

Mabel and Seymour entered “5” and four balls rolled out into the tray, rapidly picked up and replaced by a smiling Jane.

Jack and Jill entered “6” and five balls rolled  out into the tray, Jane wiggling into action again.

“I see where this is going,” said Jack. “Let’s find a zero.”

Then, Mabel and Seymour entered an “8,” which resulted in seven balls in the tray, recovered in lithe strides by Jane.

Jack and Jill decided to take a chance and entered “11” at the panel. This time no balls came out of the globe.

“Yes!!! We request a break,” said Jack quickly, pulled out his calculator, a pen and notepad.

“Ok, folks, let’s see if Jack and Jill can guess the right number while we hear a word from our sponsor, Ace Dogfoods,” said Barnstorm McDoodle cheerfully.

“Come on Jill, use what you learned in the number theory course to figure this out rapidly before Mabel and Seymour do,” said Jack urgently. “I want to buy that motorcycle.”

“Ok, Jack, I think I see the pattern,” said Jill with a dimpled smile. “Write down what I say and get your calculator ready to win the Caribbean cruise I want.”

At the end of the five-minute word from Ace Dogfoods, Jack announced the result Jill had worked out – which, happily, turned out to be the correct number of balls in the globe.

“People, we have a winner for xxxxx dollars,” shouted Barnstorm McDoodle jubilantly, giving Jane a big hug.

What would you say was the least possible number of balls in the large globe?

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