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Dear Mitch,

It seems like every week when you're choosing which question to answer, you try to get to all different types of math, and also I think I noticed you pick ones from different grade levels, which I guess is what you have to do. Anyway, my father and I really look forward seeing them, and sometimes he even prints them out and brings them in to school! (You guessed it, he's a teacher!). So anyway, I'm sure you don't want to get bored by answering the same kinds of questions all the time, but my Dad and I were wondering ... since you did come back to one thing for two weeks in a row (maybe by popular demand?!?), would you mind giving just one more group of tricks to remember stuff (I mean the tricks you and my father call "mnemonics")? (Because I REALLY find them to be a HUGE helper in math).

Thank you,

Carl J., Jr.
(and my Dad, Carl J., Sr.)


Dear Carl J.'s (Big and Small),

Sure, I like mnemonics too, but I must admit I didn't realize how many people appreciate them until this week's mail! I would have been happy to do a third week of math mnemonics just for you guys, but fortunately it seems like you aren't the only two who wouldn't mind a few more. I just want to remind you that for me the fun is in making them up, so again I'm only going to give ones that you won't find anywhere else (except if you ever get stuck in my head), but to be honest I have noticed that within a few days the Internet has a funny way of spreading things around, and I don't mind one bit. (Actually, when I see how fast some of them get spread around, it makes me smile!) Remember one thing, though, the point of them is to help you recall what to DO in a math problem, or remind you of what order to do certain things, or remind you what something is called when you can't remember the right math words, BUT that's all these tricks should do, and then it is up to YOU to do the mathematical work to arrive at the answer. So if you've found one that works for you, cherish it and use it and do not go looking for more tricks than you need to help you do the same thing. Why keep extra stuff in your head clogging up space that could be used for new information?

So, here's a few more, so if you're ever stuck... Why not try?

1. (Mitch Adler Original) Have you ever heard an adult say that he (or she) is in "seventh heaven"? Well, you probably have heard it at least once in your life, and probably much more. It's an expression that means they're very, very happy. For example, you might hear an adult say something like this: "My daughter Abby just loves pink more than any other color in the world, so when she opened the box and saw that the dress we bought her was bright pink, she was in seventh heaven!"

Okay, now think of the feeling that you get after a whole day of everything including after-school activities and homework and brushing your teeth and carrying out the garbage and feeding the cat.... and think of the feeling you get when you finally, FINALLY get it all done and slide yourself into bed for the night and you might think AHHHHHHHHHHHHH... I'm in SEVENTH HEAVEN FOR THE NIGHT.

"Seventh" is from the number seven and Heaven sounds like seven, so...

seventh heaven for the night:
7 7 four nine
7 7 4 9
7 x 7 = 4 9

2. (Mitch Adler Original) Imagine walking into a huge banquet (a feast) and everyone is gobbling up lots of food (or TRYING to gobble up lots of food) but their plates are heaped high with way too much stuff....

Then you notice one man is not eating anything at all. . . He's just sitting there, and his plate is empty. But not quite: it has the grease marks from food that had been there...

You ask someone: "Who took his food?"

The waiter (or whoever you asked) shrugs and says "He was served like everyone else. Then I see his food's gone. So I ask someone, 'Where is his food?', just like you did, and his answer was, 'Said he ate, then finished sick.'"

QUESTION: What's seven times eight? ANSWER: fifty-six.

(SAID sounds like 7, and ATE sounds A LOT like 8, finished sounds like 50, and SICK sounds like SIX.)

7 x 8 = 56

3. Which reminds me of one of the most famous and best ones I've ever heard (and now here I'm cheating a little because this one I didn't make up, but here it is anyway to help you):

8 times 8 = sixty - four:
"I ate and I ate, and I got sick on the floor."
8 x 8 = 6 4.

4. Ever use the word Diameter when you meant Radius, or did you ever measure the Radius when the question is asking about the Diameter?

Well, I have. Maybe I haven't in a while, and maybe I've only confused the two a few times, but I'd bet that I've done it sometimes without even realizing it!

Recall that Diameter is a straight line segment inside a circle that goes from one side of the circle to the other and passing through the circle's center point, cutting the circle in half, just like the first cut that a round pizza usually gets going from one side to the other, and ending when it reaches each side. (By the way, you know that sharp round wheely-rolly thing they usually use to cut a pizza? Well, that's another circle, and when they make that circle the manufacturer has to do a pretty good job locating the center. Can you figure out why?...)

A RADIUS of a circle has a measurement that is equal to half the diameter and is a line segment that goes from any point of the circle to its center (or from the center to any point on the circle, because a line segment can be thrown up into the air and as long as it lands in the same place it doesn't matter if it's reversed or the same way it was as segments have no "direction".

Anyway, getting back to learning without having to really learn anything or think, the mnemonic for radius and diameter is this: Diameter begins with a D, and its length is Double the length of the radius.

5. (Mitch Adler Original) Which is on top of a fraction: the numerator or the denominator?

Well, it goes like this:

and "numerator" begins with an 'n', so put a little vertical line down the center of that 'n' and it will look like an arrowhead pointing up; the word "denominator" begins with D, of course, and D is for "down".


The 'n' in "numerator" stands for "NEARER TO NEPTUNE", which is a planet high up there in the sky. And "Denominator" begins with "Den", like DENT, like a dent in a car, so it is something that's bent DOWN from the surface, not bulging up.

6. What's a trapezoid? That's the polygon that's shaped like a trap -- wide on one side, and then it gets narrower down the hall, until you're stuck looking for the cheese, or whatever it is in there that your heart desires...


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110% Recall

Illustrated volume of 110 mathematical mnemonics by Mitch Adler

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