Merry Christmas

Once upon a time there was an administrative assistant who worked for three wicked corporate executives.

Each Christmas, the executives had her buy gifts for some of their most important clients. This year they waited until the afternoon of the company's holiday party to finally give her their requirements.

The first, instructed her to "send something expensive, that they won't enjoy".

She searched all over the city, finding nothing suitable, until finally it was dark and all the stores were beginning to close. She searched deeper and deeper into alleys, until she came upon a pawn shop that was still open.

Behind the counter was a short, wizened man, with a beard so long that it split neatly not once, but twice, ending in 4 different points around his knees.

She explained her problem to the man, and after a moment's consideration, he pulled out a cellophane covered basket containing many cheeses. "This is a European cheese blend that is frightfully expensive, but that no one ever actually eats," he explained.

"Perfect! Ring it up!", she said, handing over her corporate card.

The little man ran the card, once, twice, and thrice, and returned it with a frown to her. "I'm sorry, it's coming back denied".

"Ugh, my bosses must have forgotten to approve my expense report from last month! Great, now what am I going to do?"

"Well maybe you have another card you can put it on?"

She shook her head, "nothing with that sort of limit..."

The pawn shop owner scanned her up and down, stopping on the ring on her right hand, "Perhaps we can work something out", he said, pointing at the ring.

She did not want to give it away, as it was a family heirloom, but then she thought about how much dental work coming up, and how inconvenient it would be to lose her dental plan, and with a sigh, slid the ring off her finger and pushed it across the glass counter to the man.

"Excellent! Is there anything else?"

Pulling out her phone, she pulled up the requirements from her second boss. "Yes, do you have anything that seems thoughtful, but is actually terribly cruel?"

"I certainly do!", he pulled out a colorfully decorated box, "This game here is very fun to play, so much so that it will likely ending up either permanently stunting or altogether ruining their social life!"

"That sounds great I guess... but is it, expensive?" she inquired.

"Oh my yes... But since I know you're good for it, perhaps I could just keep that hair pin of yours, you know, as collateral?"

Again, she paused, as it was the first gift her long time boyfriend had given her... But then she remembered that losing her job now would mean she would have no chance of getting the end of year bonus. And so she loosened the pin, her business hairdo unraveling down to her shoulders.

"Very nice. Will there be anything else?"

Checking once more, she found her third boss' instruction. She read them, and frowned. "Okay, I think he's just being difficult here. I don't suppose you have anything that is "Everything, yet nothing?".

"That is a tricky one, but I believe I have an answer. You could send an electronic gift card from They sell everything there, and the gift itself will never actually be in any way tangible."

"Excellent.. But I am afraid I am out of things to barter."

"What about that phone of yours, it looks pretty fancy?"

"Yeah, this belongs to the company though, I'd lose my job"

"Hrm, but you'll get fired if you can't order this right? Well how about this, I'll give you three chances to guess my first name, and if you do I'll order the certificate for free. But if you don't, I get the phone."

She frowned, neither was a very good option, but at least playing the game held a chance that things might still work out.

"Alright, I accept, is it 'Frank'?" The man shook his head.

"Tim?" Again the man shook his head.

Out of ideas, she sent a message to her mother, for an idea. After nearly three minutes a reply came back.

"'UGEN-EJ4M7E-KYLU'? Ugh, my mother is terrible at texting, I wonder what she meant that to say?"

The old man's face went ashen. "What did you say?"

"'UGEN-EJ4M7E-KYLU', it is what my mother just texted me, she is all thumbs when it comes to technology."

"Perhaps so, in any case, due to a clerical error at New York City Hall, that is precisely my first name," replied the man solemnly, "Your electronic card will be sent."

Ecstatic at her luck, she hugged the pawn shop owner, and then returned to the company party which ended up being very posh. She also used her holiday bonus to buy back her stuff.

The End.


After being unemployed for a year, I decided to stop job seeking and instead make my mark in mathematics.

There are a ton of numbers out there I figured, and you only need to find one unique concept and it gets named after you.

So I spent a month working during commercial breaks, gathered up all my hand-written notes, and brought them to the math professor of my local community college.

"Sir, I think you'll see I have done some groundbreaking work."

"You know how pi, is the ratio of a circle's line thing to it's round thing? Well I have applied the same principal to the square. I call it, 'Frank's Awesome Ratio'".

The mathematician, obviously impressed, asked if I was a student here.

"No sir, I am without formal training if you can believe it."

He then told me to get out, obviously unwilling to believe that such epic work could have come from outside his own profession.

"I'll just wait outside until you're capable of discussing this like adults."

And so I waited outside his door while students came and went. I held my papers close to my chest lest they attempt to copy my work.

Eventually a tall skinny kid with glasses and unkempt hair came out of the office, and introduced himself.

"Hey there, you must be the crazy guy. The professor said I should look over your work so you'll go away."

I refused to share it until he showed me some evidence of who he was, and he produced a pay stub proving that he was an actual teacher's assistant. Which seemed on the up and up.

So I spread the papers out over the hallway there and went over my work with him.

"I'm sorry sir, but the ratio you are talking about already has a name, it's called 'four'."

I explained to him that I had made the same mistake at first, but when I actually calculated it out, it was very close to four, but not precisely. Looking around to make sure no one else was looking, I pulled the most valuable piece of paper out, and unfolded it for him, hunching over it protectively.

"I think you'll find that, this, is the actual value".

He gave an impressed snort, and said, "This is just the number 4, followed by a decimal place and hundreds of zeros."

I had waited for him to fall into this trap, and trying not to be too smug, pointed at 2 of the "zeros" on the sheet of paper.

"What, why are you pointing at those?"

"Because they are actually sixes."

"That doesn't make sense."

"I know, I was surprised at first too."

"Are you sure just weren't just writing zero so fast that you accidentally made some zeros that looked like a six?"

I took the sheet away, saying that he obviously wasn't willing to discuss this at a mathematical level. I'll just have to wait for the professor to come around.

He sighed in defeat.

"Okay, let me construct a mathematical argument for you".

He then drew a square and then a line dividing it.

"Okay, all these sides are of length one."

I commented that they looked more like two inches to me, at which point he closed his eyes for a long time, before agreeing to label them as 2 inches.

"So, the perimeter of the square is 8 inches, the diameter of the square is two inch."

For some reason when he said the word "diameter" he made two bunnies in the air with his hands.

"Eight divided by two is..."

I gave him time to come up with the answer since he seemed stuck, and then began reciting My Awesome Ratio from memory, which is pretty easy if you remember where the two sixes are.

This made him scream.

"It's four. One, two, three, four! I don't know how to be more clear!"

He seemed sure enough to be angry about it, which gave me pause.

"Alright, maybe you're right, but what if the sides of the squares are 'pi' inches? What's the ratio then?"

"Still four."

"Are you sure?"


"What about in base pi? Is it still four?"

This gave him pause before answering.

"I guess that'd be 1.3... something, probably repeating."

"Like pi?"


"Does that have a name yet?"

At this point his eyes lit up, as if he finally recognized my brilliance.

"No, it doesn't. But by the power vested in me as a community college math TA, I official dub it 'Frank's Awesome Ratio'".

"Can we call it Frank's Second Awesome Ratio, so that people don't confuse it with four?"

This made him scream again.