February 25th, 2005


on travel

I was reading another travel book on BART, this one about living on a boat in the Carribean (I've been way behind my reading goals, and I figure travel books are easy to read.) As I was reading the author describe the crammed minibuses, the crazy drivers, the friendly strangers, and the busy markets filled with cheap food and delicious fruit, I was thinking to myself "been there, done that." Finally, the chapter ended with her discovering that the "Seelawn" mangoes she had gotten from the market were in fact called Ceylon. And I thought to myself, feeling somewhat superior, "I could have told you that, without ever having set foot in the Carribean!"

But superiority aside, I realized that it's pretty lucky that I have traveled to places and seen the kinds of things she talks about. I mean, I'm pretty well assimilated into the fast-paced North American culture. (Pretty much the only Russian things left in me are my love of good bread and my trace of an accent.) I've completely bought into it, sipping my latte and eating my lunch on the go while rushing to get somewhere, barely even noticing the world around me. But it feels nice, nay, important to realize that there are alternatives to this lifestyle; even if some of them are not for me, it helps me be conscious that this is a choice I'm making, one I may need to re-examine at some point.

... was really glad to have gone to bab5 today. I've been feeling a little out of it and antisocial for the past while, and I'm really glad to have this weekly chance to get knocked out of these kinds of moods.


today's installment of "not working on my thesis"

There's an interesting math puzzle, posted first in ucberkeley and then reposted in nibot_lab. A variant also appears on a puzzle page. I think I can solve this (kind) of problem using a Python program. But my question to you, smart people, is can you solve it using just pen and paper? (I can't.)

Two numbers are selected from the set of integers from 3 to 98, inclusive. A woman is told the product of the numbers; a man is told their sum. The man and the woman have the following conversation:

Woman: I don't know what the numbers are.
Man: I know that already, but I don't know the numbers either.
Woman: In that case, I know what the numbers are.
Man: So do I.

What are the numbers?

(I removed the requirement that the numbers be distinct from the original formulation since I believe this leads to no solution.)