obsevations

I Analyze a Cereal-Box Game

 

Please look at the picture of the Alpha-Bits game. (Sorry, it’s a bit blurry. I have fired my camera man.) You draw from a deck of cards, containing each of the following numbers, 1, 2, 3, and 4. If you draw a 1, you move your piece, an Alpha-Bit letter, ahead one square, and so on. However, there is something funny about the game. Unsettling even.

Starting the game, it is impossible to land anywhere but on the 3rd square, the one with the bee. For . . .

If you draw a 1, then you move to square 1. The result tells you to move ahead two squares to square 3, the one with the bee.

If you draw a 2, then you move to square 2. The result tells you to move ahead one square to square 3, the one with the bee.

If you draw a 3, then you move to square 3, the one with the bee.

If you draw a 4 then you move to square 4. The result tells you to move back square to square 3, the one with the bee.

No matter what you draw, you end up on the bee.

Similarly, if your piece is on square 13, the one with the rocket, no matter what you draw, you’ll finish the game.

Working backwards from square 13, you can determine the expected numbers of turns needed to win the game.

THE EXCITING RESULTS

Square #   Expected Numbers of Turns needed to win the game.

———-   ———————————————————–

13            –         1.00

8              –         2.00

6              –         2.25

5              –         2.56

3*            –         3.15

Start        –         4.15

* = Mathematical excitement abounds if you’re starting on square 3. If you draw a 1, you have to go back to your bee. If in your second turn, you again draw a 1, you will once more be back at the bee square. Fear not! By using the mathematical formula for infinite sums, you can calculate how many turns you can expect to be stuck in this purgatory. (It’s 1.33 turns.) Knowing this, our calculations become simple again.

Note that is impossible to end your turn on squares: 1, 2, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 20.

I have come to believe that the designers of this game never really played it. I am quite certain they never subjected their creation to mathematical analysis.

Please do not use this analysis for betting purposes. And if you do, do not employ a doubling cube as in backgammon.

At any rate, my years of mathematics has served me well. And you get a gold star if you read this blog all the way through.

Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D., nerd

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Pictures of Me

 

Here I am, ready to start the day in my work pajamas.

Here I am, being a chef.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: food, humor, obsevations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caramelized Banana Cake

Cape Verdean Dessert

CARAMELIZED BANANA CAKE

INGREDIENTS

4 eggs
½ cup butter, softened
1½ cups sugar (1¼ cups more later)
½ cup milk
⅛ teaspoon salt
2⅓ cups wheat flour or flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
no-stick spray
4 ripe bananas
⅓ cup water
1¼ cups sugar
no-stick spray

SPECIAL UTENSILS

electric beater
8″ * 12″ cake pan
9″ * 13″ cookie tray
sonic obliterator

Serves 10. Takes 1 hour 20 minutes.

PREPARATION

Separate eggs into yolks and whites. Add butter and 1½ cups sugar to large mixing bowl. Mix with electric beater set on medium until well blended. Add egg yolks, milk, and salt. Mix with electric beater set on medium until well blended. Gradually add wheat flour. Mix with electric beater set on medium until well blended. Add baking powder and egg whites. Mix with electric beater set on medium until this dough is well blended and fluffy. Spray cake pan with no-stick spray.

Cut each banana into 6 circles. Add water and 1¼ cups sugar to pan. Warm sugar using low-medium heat until it begin to melt. Stir enough to keep sugar from burning and clumping. Reduce heat to low and continue warming sugar until it melts completely and turns a caramel brown. Stir constantly. Pour this caramel immediately into cake pan. (Don’t let it set.) dish. Smooth with spatula.

Place banana circles evenly over caramel. (Be careful if caramel is hot.) Spoon dough over bananas. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick stuck in middle of cake comes out clean. Loosen cake by sliding spatula around the edges and, as far as possible, under the bottom. Put cookie tray on top of cake pan. Carefully turn cake pan and cookie tray upside down. Tap cake pan with knife. Say a brief prayer. Lift cake pan. Cake should come out cleanly onto cookie tray. Let sit until cool. Serve to adoring guests. Zap unappreciative ones with sonic obliterator.

TIDBITS

1) One of the most beloved form of communal games of gambling is craps. Just go to any casino. Any time you hear a loud roar of happiness, it is quite likely it came from the craps table. Of course, as with all gambling choices in a casino, you will likely go home a loser. But you have more fun losing than people playing slot machines. And that’s the main thing.

2) There are two games that come to mind for people to play face to face. They are chess and dominoes.

3) However, chess is mostly a silent game. It’s bad form to disturb, in any way, the player about to make a move. People can take the longest time pondering whether to move their bishop or not. Or where. How long can some players take to move?

4) Eons.

5) Culinary sociologists have determined that chess is the game of choice for prison wardens. The wardens deal with violent and otherwise troublesome prisoners by placing them in solitary confinement.

6) There is always a chess game going in solitary confinement. The guard tells the ingoing inmate whether he is playing for white black. The player looks at the game. His mind goes a mile a minute thinking over the 172,329 possible moves. This takes a while, and lo and behold. just as he moves his chess piece, his time in solitary is over.

7) The head guard then picks the current troublemaker in the chess-game cell and informs this inmate that his is playing the opposite color from that of the previous cell mate.

8) Solitary Prison Cell has become all the rage. Inmates have begun to commit offenses just to play chess in solitary. Prisoners have begun to form chess gangs. The most popular gang names are the White Knights and the Black Bishops. For a while, wardens tried segregating these groups.

9) However, as this policy is proving insufficient in decreasing prison violent, the guards are starting to take away solitary-chess privileges for frequent rule offenders. These men can only play dominoes, a much less violent game. It’s still addicting, though.

10) When prisoners are released, the dominoes players need a good fix of the game. This is why you see people playing dominoes outside a remote, rural general store. But there aren’t many such establishments any more. So dominoes junkies naturally flock to anything that has the big dots on them that dominoes has. What do they do? They can’t play chess anymore. That games doesn’t have dots. Beside, the ex-cons have been conditioned against playing that game? So what do they do?

11) They play craps. The dice in craps have plenty of dots on them, enough for any dominoes junkie. However, as we established in the first tidbit, people who plays craps lose all their money.

12) Then what do these one-time felons due for their dot fix? They eat food with dots on them. Like caramelized banana cake. The bananas in ths dessert look like the dots on a domino tile. (See the above photo.) This is why this dessert is so enormously popular around the world. Now you know.

 

Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Common Sense Solutions To Ending Crime

Crime is bad. Let’s get rid of it. Is our present system of incarceration working? No. Who was responsible for this?  Who will fix it? I will. How? I’m glad you asked. Here is my thirteen-step program.

1) Convicted criminals will never get bacon or chocolate.  Our current system allows prisoners to enjoy socialized bacon and chocolate.  That’s no deterrence at all. Geez!

2) Criminals will eat lutefisk at every meal. For beverages, they will have a choice of lutefisk tea and castor oil

3) Convicted criminals will download software for all the law-abiding citizens in their community. They will work with customer service until the myriad of issues are resolved.

4) Convicted criminals will be forced to shop WalMart(tm) on holiday weekends. Municipal, county, state, and federal governments will save billions and billions of dollars on prison construction costs, prison maintenance, and prison staff.

5) Criminals who leave WalMart will be sent to maximum-security cells for life. It bears repeating, these ne’er do wells will still be without chocolate and bacon for life . They will still do software downloads for life.

6) These ne’er do wells will also be forced, in their short free periods, to read and re-read James Joyce’s Ulysses until their minds explode trying to understand it. Moreover we will, if allowed, by human rights organizations, serve lutefisk everyday to our hardened criminals.

7) The prison TV will only show ESPN’s Canadian Curling Highlights.

8) Jailers will give the inmates paper cuts every day.

9) You will be put in Facebook(tm) jail whenever you use the word “the.”

10) These baddies will eat all those Christmas fruitcakes that people insist on giving, but nobody wants.

11) Convicts will seed and dice the hottest of hot chile peppers then immediately rub their foreheads. (Don’t try this at home.)

12) Prisoners must keep places in line for the elderly at the DMV. Twice a week too.

13) Criminals will be forced to listen to every high-school and college commencent speech within a 50-mile radius of their prison. This includes all speeches by students, faculty, and guest speakers. Yes, this is a severe punishment, but we must have a credible, strong deterrent against crime.

No person alive would even contemplate committing any crime when faced with the above thirteen consequences. Crime would disappear from our great country within the year. Money spent on law enforcement could be used to balance budget and distribute free bacon and chocolate to all Americans.

Now behave, don’t make me come back there.

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

 

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A Fun Renaming of the Bird World

 

How in the world did someone come up with the idea of calling a flock of crows a murder of crows? Were they pickled to the gills? Why not call a flock of crows a FLOCK of crows? However, it is unlikely we will be able to change everything to flocks with the Supreme Court busy deciding cases of great import and chaos in our federal government. And with people arguing on Facebook(tm) and Twitter(tm), no one is noticing what we do. We can get away with changing the little stuff.

Let’s do it!                                                                                                      A burrito of burrowing owls.

Let alter the names of the types of birds to something more interesting and alliterative. I humbly propose the following:

A Murder of Crows becomes A Cacophony of Crows

We can now have:

bird                           – flock name
——————————————————–
blackbirds              – blintz
bobolinks              – Big Mac(tm)
boobies                 – booger
budgies                 – bean dip
buntings                – bunion
burrowing owls     – burrito
ducks                     – DNA
elephants              – finch (an elephant is technically not a bird.)
falcons                   – fallacy
finches                   – elephant
hawks                    –  hemarrhoid
jays                        – jackhammer
larks                       – lithograph
loons                      – lutefisk
pigeons                  – pizza
starlings                 – strawberry
swans                     – sarcasm
woodpeckers         – wart

You’ll have to excuse me, a bunion of buntings just flew by.

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Why Bluebirds Sing

 

About a million-to-some-three-thousand years ago, life was hard. Life was brutal. Life was boring. After a tough day hunting and killing a mastodon Joe Caveman naturally craved intellectual recreation. So he and his friends, those who survived the hunt, got together for a game of “rock, rock, rock.” But everyone played “rock” and the game ended in one tie after another. This so discouraged prehistory’s brainiacs that even the most cursory of intellectual pursuits, such as telemarketing and mime shows, were put on the back burner for millennia.

Then happy day, papyrus and soon afterward paper were invented. In one literary salon after another in ancient Egypt and Greece the forward thinkers flocked to hearty games of “Rock, Paper.” Life was worth living. Thinking was worthwhile. The Egyptians erected magnificent pyramids in their great joy. The Greeks, the Parthenon. The Chinese, the Colosseum.

Unfortunately, in 989 a lowly, but brilliant rag picker named Arlin reasoned thusly. If I pick rock and my opponent picks rock as well, I tie. If, however, he picks scissors, I lose. So, I either lose or tie with rock. If I pick paper and my opponent also picks paper, I tie. But if he picks rock, I win. So, I either tie or win with paper. Ergo, I should always pick paper. Within a scant fifty years, everyone picked paper and the games degenerated into ties, just as in the days of the caveman.

Joyless people stopped thinking again. The whole world plunged into the Dark Ages.

Then not so long ago, a Italian man with a bad haircut invented scissors. The game became Rock, Paper, Scissors. There was no same, optimal strategy. People could win and lose again. Thinking became worthwhile. The clouds parted. The bluebirds sang.  They’ve sung ever since.

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

 

 

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Flags of the World – Red and White

How many times has this happened to you? You’ve been scrupulously observing quarantine regulations. But you’re finding abiding them harder and harder to take. You find yourself developing a serious case of cabin fever. Finally, you can stand it no longer, so you rush outside. But before you know it, you’ve somehow organized a massive military uprising. Your forces, armed men and women who were drawn to you by your animal magnetism, have conquered a large part of a large country.

You find yourself filled with rebellion remorse. You try to give back your conquered lands, but the brave lads and lasses who fought for you won’t have any of that. “Go back to school,” you say to them. They say, “We missed our deadlines for turning in our essays. No teacher is going to accept the excuse ‘I couldn’t get term paper done as I was participating in a rebellion. ‘Begone,” the teacher will say, ‘like I haven’t heard that one.’ So, we will all get Fs. Our GPAs will plummet. We’ll lose our scholarships. We’ll have to drop out of university. But we won’t be able to get a job anywhere because taking part in bloody insurrection is such a resume stain.”

So, there you have it. You’re stuck with your new country. But won’t the old country that still exists be angry at you? You betcha! Won’t they be chomping at the bit to reconquer their lost lands? Absolutely. Can they do it? No, you inadvertently overpowered their armed forces earlier. Remember? What happens if they ally with some powerful nation and attack you?

That is the nightmare scenario. The only way to stop this international coalition from forming against you is to fool the world into thinking your country isn’t a new, that it’s really part of an old and peaceful nation. How do we do this?

Simple, pick a flag that looks like the one from another country. How do I do that?

May I suggest limiting the colors of your new flag to red and white? There are simply scads of countries that use only red and white in their banners. Look at the Polish flag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poland is at peace with everyone. Adopt this flag and the foreign armies will think you’re at peace with everyone. If you don’t want to use the Polish flag, possibly for copyright reasons, you flip it on its side, like this. And add a little cross and you get . . . Malta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malta is a tiny and peaceful land. But choices for your flag still abound. Remove the cross and rotate the flag one more time and you get . . .  Monaco’s and Indonesia’s flags.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monaco is far too tiny to invade anyone and Indonesia hasn’t tried anything like that decades. And now, if you still want a flag that’s guaranteed to confuse your fledgling nation’s with those of more-established countries but is a little bit more stylish, may I suggest that your peruse the following red-and-white flags.

 

 

You don’t even have to draw your flagian, not really a word, from a real country’s banner. Look at the Swiss and Red Cross flags.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’re almost the same flag! One of the two entities just switched colors with the other. Is this okay? And if you stare at the Swiss flag long enough will you see the Red Cross flag and vice versa? Something to think about.

Other countries have red-and-white flags, but didn’t make the cut for displaying their flags.  Anyway, honorable mention goes to:  Denmark, Georgia, and Japan.

So now you have many, many red-and-white flags to choose from. You new nation needn’t fear invasion, secure in the knowledge that the rest of the world will confuse your country with another. And that’s a good feeling.

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

 

 

 

Categories: humor, international, obsevations, politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love Today

Some years back, I was in the men’s room at an airport. A man walked into a stall and closed the door. He immediately got on his cell phone. I didn’t listen in on the conversation and was in a foul mood anyway, having just gone through a long line at airport security. Then the man in the stall said, “I love you, sweetheart.” Presumably on his cell phone to his girlfriend and not to me.

Wow! True love. True love. Most men would have waited to call their sweethearts until they had pooped and wiped, but not for this Romeo. His love for his amour was so great he just had to tell her that very moment. He had shunned the hustle and bustle of every day and would no doubt leave the stall feeling much better.

Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses.

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: love, obsevations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cheddar Beer Soup

American Soup

CHEDDAR BEER SOUP

INGREDIENTS

1 carrot
1 celery stalk
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons butter
⅓ cup flour
12 ounces (1 can) beer (not dark)
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1¼ cups whole milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¾ pound shredded sharp cheddar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley

Serves 6. Takes 35 minutes.

PREPARATION

Dice carrot, celery, and onion. Mince garlic. Add butter to pan. Melt butter using medium heat. Add carrot, celery, onion, and garlic to pan. Sauté for 5 minutes at medium heat or until carrot and onion start to soften. Stir frequently.

Add flour. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir constantly. Add beer, broth, and milk.. Continue simmering on low for 5 minutes. Stir frequently enough to prevent burning. Add dry mustard, pepper, salt, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until well blended.

Add cheese and continue simmering at low heat for 5 minutes or the soup becomes creamy. Dice parsley. Add soup to bowls and garnish with parsley.

TIDBITS

1) Beer spelled backwards is reeb.

2) Reeb, however, spelled backwards is beer.

3) So beer spelled backwards a second time is beer.

4) This makes beer a second-order palindrome.

5) Many other words are second-order palindromes. See if you can find them.

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: cuisine, obsevations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Favorite Newspaper Headlines

Alas the art of fantastic newspaper headlines is disappearing into the mists of history. At one time, you could count on looking at The National Enquirer(tm) while waiting to check out your groceries. No longer. But I still remember how the following headlines made me chuckle:

6) “Tap the Amazing Healing Power of Ketchup”

(Who needs a pill?)

5) “Woman Steals Three-Headed Baby”

(Two-headed baby abductions are so common they’re no longer news.)

4) “News Reporter Eaten Alive by 80-ft. Dinosaur”

(I have a sneaking admiration for the correct usage of the hyphen between “80” and “ft.”)

3) “Archaeologists  Discover Skeleton of Satan. Find of the Century”

(Discovering that the Prince of Darkness existed and the Goodness reigns unopposed is only the find of the century. Geez, the millennium at least)

2) “Learn Ten New Ways to Talk to the Dead”

(I never knew the ten old ways. I’m so embarrassed.)

1) “L.A. Quake Opens Gates of Hell”

(There goes the neighborhood.)

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: humor, obsevations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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