1. I had trouble with the T-shirt, because I at first tackled it like a real nerd, and it was totally incoherent — that’s not how you set up a formula with a sum, WTF is this? Then I realized I had to step back and do nerd-lite, just puns, each disparate term a “word” in a sentence, ha, ha ,ha…

  2. @ larK – For all of those innocent non-nerds out there:
    a) Square root of “-1” = “i” (the fundamental “unit” for imaginary numbers) = “eye” = “I”;
    b) 2^3 = 8 = eight = “ate”;
    c) Σ (used to add sequences of numbers) = “sum” = “some”;
    d) π = pie, therefore:
    a+b+c+d = “I ate some pie“.

  3. @Ian Do people in Europe actually celebrate July 22? I thought I made that up! I’m very excited if you do!

    More Pie for everyone!

  4. Locally it’s 314 Day. The original area code for much of the metropolitan area was 314. Over the years, it shrank some and a while back we got an overlay code, which I don’t know because both of my numbers are the old one.


  5. @Ian “We don’t do Pi Day in the UK. Instead we have Approximation Day on the 22nd of July.”

    In fact 22/7 is a better approximation than 3.14 !


  6. @Kilby: The character depicted in Monty who doesn’t know that pi is a number is Moondog, not Monty himself.

  7. @ Joshua – Thanks for the correction (as you might guess, I don’t follow Monty).

    P.S. @ Grawlix – The video you embedded appears to be “not available” (at least from my location), so here’s an alternate link to “π” by Kate Bush.

    P.P.S. Having listened to the whole thing, I am reminded of Tom Lehrer’s description of “The Elements“, as being “A song that is completely pointless…

  8. It’s been quite a week for food. Pie on Tuesday, Caesar Salad on Wednesday and corned beef, cabbage and Guinness today!

  9. Brian in STL –

    We used to have one area code for Nassau and Suffolk (I won’t say Long Island as others would as they forget that Brooklyn and Queens are also located on the Island). Then they split off Suffolk with a new area code. – changing the area code of everyone there). Now they were getting too many numbers again and Nassau has 2 area codes -luckily the numbers with the new area code will be issued for new numbers as an overlay.

    Similarly all of NYC used to be one area code. Then they split off Manhattan and Bronx which kept the area code and issued a new one to Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Since then they have issued multiple additional area codes to both sections of NYC as overlays.

  10. Meryl, I believe the original vintage area codes were assigned with ease of rotary dialing in mind; so that cities with large populace got low numbers. Thus 212 for NYC and 312 for Chicago.

  11. @ Mitch – The original North American area codes were required to use “0” or “1” as the second digit, which limited the pool of possible combinations to 152 different “usable” codes (because the first digit could not be zero nor a one, and all “even” hundreds were reserved for special purposes). One of the major changes when most exchanges went to 10-digit dialing was removing the restriction on the second digit of the area code.

    P.S. Both the German “city codes” (prefixes) and the local telephone numbers are variable length. In general, large cities have the shortest (three digit) prefixes (Berlin = 030, Hamburg = 040), whereas the smallest towns may have up to six digits in their prefix. Conversely, large cities have the longest (7 or 8 digit) telephone numbers, whereas very small towns may have telephone numbers as short as 4 (!) digits. (Even within a single prefix, the telephone numbers can still vary in length. Our number has 6 digits, but a close neighbor has a 7-digit number.) When put together, the sum total is still variable length, but is usually either 10 or 11 digits (there may be places that have 9 or 12 digits, but I cannot think of one at the moment).

  12. Kilby, then you might find interesting the way the original 10 digit ISBN (Intl Standard Book Numbers) worked, with variable length fields within a fixed total length. Altho the full specification was full of lists of special reservations for particular purposes, the basic structure was:

    • Country or “language agency” code
    • Publisher code
    • Publisher’s catalog or publication number
    • Check digit (base eleven)

    So if you are a small publisher, you have a long number, and fewer digits available for your publication numbers.

    When I said there were reserved ranges, part of that was about disambiguation. Both 0 and 1, for example, are valid country code / language codes, for the first field. But so is 01! Which means within the 0 area (Which btw is basically ENU, or English in the U.S.) publisher numbers cannot start with 1. (This is partly reconstructed from memory and the details may be off.)

  13. Then, when the ISBN13 was adopted in 2008, obviously the point was to overhaul and expand the system, to allow more entries for all types of entity… NOPE! It was just to fit with a broader scheme of many sorts of standardized numbers, called EAN, which uses 13 digits. The ISBN13 numbers all have a 3-digit prefix (Currently 978 with 979 also but working a different way), followed by 10 digits of what would be a ISBN10 number. And existing ISBN10 numbers were just mechanically converted by adding the 978 at the front followed by 9 digits of the old ISBN10, and a recalculated check digit.

  14. By the way, now that we have 10-digit dialing in the USA, can anyone tell me whether I am supposed to dial 1 before the number or not? The 1 used to mean “here comes a long-distance number” but now I think it means “I’m dialing into the United States, oh but I’m already in the United States so you know that already so I can leave it out???”

  15. @ MiB – Unfortunately, usage of the “1” before the ten-digit number is not uniform, and depends on the area you are dialing from. Some exchanges and carriers are more sensible than others. When the Washngton D.C. area was forced to switch to 10-digit dialing (because of new “overlay” area codes introduced in the suburbs), the idiots who programmed the system decided to require the “1” for long distance calls (so far, so good), but those same idiots decided to forbid the “1” for local calls.

    The problem is that no matter whether the target number has an old “traditional”, or a new “overlay” area code, it is impossible to know whether the call will be long distance until you have dialed the number from wherever you happen to be. If the “1” is included on a call to what turns out to be a local number, the system refuses to put the call through, and issues a lame-brained recording that says “…the ‘1’ is not required when dialing this number.” For the converse situtation, you get the opposite recording. No matter who was responsible for programming this nonsense, the jerk who decided to allow this “computer friendly, but user hostile” system to be implemented was an utter moron.

    P.S. About 15 or 20 years ago, I needed to call both Germany and my family from Dulles airport (in Virginia, west of D.C.) The call to Germany cost $1.25 for up to ten minutes. The call to the Maryland suburbs cost $2.85 for (at most) three minutes. Isn’t deregulation wonderful?

  16. @Kilby – A system that reminded you that it was or was not a long-distance call, telling you to dial 1 or not dial 1, made sense when we paid for long-distance calls. You probably still have to pay for long-distance calls if you have a landline, but most people have a cell phone with a calling plan that doesn’t charge extra for long-distance within the country.

  17. Even with a landline, one can get a Google Voice account and make long-distance calls free.

  18. @ MiB – Mobile phones are served by more modern switching systems, which can ignore and/or assume the presence of the “+1” for domestic calls.

    P.S. I once had problems dialing a German number on my mobile phone while travelling near the French border. I had not noticed that my phone had logged into the Telekom’s French partner subsidiary, and the number I had stored in my phone was in “domestic” format, which is used by most European countries (using city prefixes that start with a “0”). Since I had not included the “+49” for “Germany”, the French provider was trying to dial that number in France, which of course produced an error message (in French, which I could not understand).

    Since then I’ve been more careful about including the country codes when I store new numbers.

  19. ” You probably still have to pay for long-distance calls if you have a landlin”

    I have a landline, but my calling plan lets me use up to X amounts of long-distance minutes every month for no extra charge. With one exception detailed below I’ve never come close to exceeding that. (Yes, I know, I ought to drop it and just buy a cellphone, but I’m used to what I’m used to and I like what I like.)

    However, my wife has a cellphone, sent to her by friends from California. When she was in a medical facility back in 2020, I went in to see her every day until the Covid quarentine closed access to outsiders, after which I called her every day, sometimes multiple times. When I got my landline bill that month, I belatedly realized that her cellphone, based on area code, was considered as still being “in” California (rather than just twenty blocks away here in Minneapolis), and the bill . . . surprised me.

    (It was still worth it to talk to her every day, though. And soon after that she was home again.)

  20. My landline doesn’t require +1 for local ten-digit calls. I dropped long-distance from that many years ago. For quite a while I just bought calling cards for the occasional needs. Then with Google Voice it became unnecessary to use anything else.

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