Tag Archives: bubble

The Urinal Problem

urinalToday we study a particular variation of the classic so-called Urinal Problem. For millennia great thinkers like Socrates, Plato, Leonardo da Vinci, Bill Gates and others have pondered the great mysteries of gentlemen’s restroom etiquette. Now it’s my turn to take the problem out for a spin.

The classic definition of the problem, of course, involves an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of urinals. It’s easy to see how a problem like that could humble even the greats. In a flight of hubris, even I once made the attempt, and was left humbled and feeling flushed.

For simplicity, we will closely examine a three-urinal subset of n and attempt to fully solve the problem variation.

Abstract. A man walks into a men’s room and observes n empty urinals. Which urinal should he pick so as to minimize his chances of maintaining privacy, i.e., minimize the chance that someone will occupy a urinal beside him? In this paper, we attempt to answer this question under a variety of models for standard men’s room behavior. Our results suggest that for the most part one should probably choose the urinal furthest from the door (with some interesting exceptions). We also suggest a number of variations on the problem that lead to many open problems.

Source: Springer Link – The Urinal Problem. The complete paper is available for purchase.

It was easy to theorize a solution for the three urinal-subset based on the process of elimination (no pun intended). This is also known as The Vizzini Gambit. (See: The Princess Bride.)

Clearly you should not choose the urinal in the center as the next visitor must choose one of the adjacent urinals. Thus, it is obvious that the solution must be one of the end urinals. But which one? Elimination only gets us so far.

As is often the case, field research is required to test theoretical constructs. And that’s where the shit hit the fan. (The results of that experiment are beyond the scope of this article.)
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changeKeep the change, ya filthy animal.

Change of Address

I live on the surface of a rotating planetoid. The speed of rotation is approx. 1,000 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, the planet itself is moving about 67,000 miles per hour around the sun.

The sun is the center of our solar system, which is also moving around the center of our galaxy at approx. 490,000 miles per hour.

The galaxy is moving towards something called the Great Attractor, appox. 150 million light years away, at a rate of 1,000 kilometers per second.

In other words, I just want it to be known my physical location on this planetoid is changing by about 2.5 degrees of latitude. That’s a lot!

Moving Paradoxes

A pending move means boxes. Packing lots and lots of boxes.

The more you pack the more exhausted you get.

The more exhausted you get the more you require peaceful, restful sleep.

The more you require sleep the more the more you lie in bed with your eyes open.

Can’t sleep. Might as well get up and pack some more boxes and make myself more tired.

Blue Bayou Bobble Bubbles

Blue Bayou from Caribbean Ride

The Blue Bayou Restaurant at Disneyland

B is for Blog. That’s what Big Bird over at Sesame Street told me. (That’s the PBS solution to programming for children.) Barney the Friendly Dinosaur told me that B is for Best Buy. (That’s the for-profit free market solution to programming for children.) Boldly brainwash our babies the benefit of business. Bravo!

Behold any bent in this blog broadcast yet?

But “B is for Blog” is the easy way out. I’ll bet there are billions of “B is for Blog” posts today for the “A-Z Blogging Challenge.”

Not me, baby. I’m boldly and bravely being bodacious.

Bah! That’s enough balderdash with the bold.

Do I take things too far? I sure hope not. I don’t mean to babble. Enough with the befuddling bafflegab!

Blue Bayou

Ever been to Disneyland? Near the entrance to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is a restaurant known as the Blue Bayou. Here diners can eat inside a building in a simulated outdoor restaurant next to a simulated Louisiana bayou.

This effect is achieved through the use of a dark and distant ceiling, air conditioning, and carefully coordinated lighting. The theming is intensified by the sounds of crickets and frogs, the meandering glow of fireflies, and projection effects above that imitate the night sky. (Wikipedia.)

Diners can watch park patrons depart and return from the exciting theme ride while they nosh on authentic Cajun cuisine like head cheese, ham hocks, alligator, frogs legs and nutria. (I’ve never eaten there but I’ve floated by a few times, so these menu choices are merely assumptions on my part.)

Crayola art in Newark, NJ, June 2008

An excellent use of a Crayola product (besides eating)

Bubble Bobble

Who doesn’t feel all goofy at the sight of a glowing child engaging in the time-honored practice of blowing bubbles?  Me, actually. I hate the bloody activity. (Another “B” word bonus.)

Crayola “after years of research” has finally achieved bubbles in color. Ooooh. Unciting. Apparently, before now, they were always black and white, although they appeared fairly colorful to me.

Reportedly it took Crayola almost two decades to develop the winning formula. Can you sense the palpable desperation here? “We have got to break out of the edible color wax genre, people! Dammit, we need new revenue streams!”

Lauded as the “holy grail” of bubbles, Crayola brand “Washable Colored Bubbles” allow mischievous youngsters who are easily amused to “create bubbles in bright, bold vibrant colors!” (So says the official Crayola website.)

Choose your colorful poison: Purple Pizzazz, Sunset Orange, Screamin’ Green, Wild Blue Yonder, or Pink Flamingo.

I always wondered if I had the “right stuff.” Now, for only $3.99 for a 4 oz. bottle, I can slip the surly bonds of Earth and touch the Wild Blue Yonder. Yeah! (That’s only $127.68 per gallon.)

Alas, there’s a downside. It’s that always the way?!?!?

A story in on the front page of the Wall Street Journal this week breaks down the bad news. Even though Crayola prominently features the word “washable” on the bottle and in the product’s name, it seems there is a bit of a sticky wicket.

The product has spawned a bit of a backlash from angry parents who are quibbling over the definition of “washable.” Critics allege that the product can leave behind a colorful “permanent” mess. One woman blogged about it, calling it “the worst product I ever bought.” Another said the Wild Blue Yonder turned her children into “smurfs.”

The blogger added, “Washable?…It practically requires scrubbing the top layer of your skin off to get the color out.”

Damn, I take it all back. This sounds like my kind of product after all. Crayola just tricked parents into making kids graffiti artists in their own home. Bravissimo!

Crayola was clearly sensitive and understanding of the threat to their coffers:

Crayola, which is owned by Hallmark Cards Inc., of Kansas City, Mo., says that the product should wash off when used properly.

But consumers ought not to expect the new product “to perform like regular soapy bubbles,” says Leena Vadaketh, Crayola’s head of research and development.

Allow me to parse this. In other words, “It’s not our problem. You’re doing it wrong.”

Crayola is a trusted brand. I know that when I think of freaky chemicalized shit, I think, “Crayola!” Now I see why!

Scouring the Crayola official website, I learned the following verbatim factoids. Enjoy!

  • Crayola Dough contains wheat and therefore is not Gluten Free.
  • It is possible that latex gloves may have been worn during the manufacture and distribution of raw materials, components or finished goods.

Additionally, when attempting to glean what compounds are in their products, I found a statement on Crayola’s website that they won’t list ingredients due to “proprietary” concerns. They will, however, list some of the things not found in their products. Things like “peanuts & legumes.” I have to admit, this gets me a bit confused. We’re not talking about a food company, right? I mean, where do they list the calories in their products?

I salute Crayola for the beautiful bubble bobble!

AZ Awkwords
A poem in tribute of the A-Z Blogging Challenge
by Tom B. Taker

Bone chilling democratic
Freely gone hyper intergalactic

Kept languishing madly
Overtly playing quintessentially

Radiant sunshine
Teaming underground
Verdantly washing
Xenophobic yearning


This is my “B” post for the April 2011 “A to Z Blogging Challenge.”

For the brave-hearted few who read the bottom, here’s a bonus video: