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Dear Mitch,

I manage the math department of a medium-sized school in New Hampshire, and I appreciated the problems you posted for the Thanksgiving holiday. I used them exactly as you had them for students at their level and adjusted them a little in either direction to meet the needs of our mathematicians whose level is differed. In all case, though, you should know that our teachers appreciated the new twists you gave on some of the most important concepts that students need to grasp before they move on to higher education.

And I noticed that immediately following Thanksgiving you responded to a request for Hanukkah problems. I liked what you chose for your response, but for me in my role at the school I need to be sensitive to the demographics of our community. Well, you probably know where I'm headed with this, but here it is: I am VERY MUCH looking forward to any Christmas math you would be kind enough to present. And besides the obvious reason (of downloading from you to my blackboard), but I am curious to see if you find yourself stumped to come up with something as unique as the sorts of problems you seem to take –pride in presenting. And, believe me, after almost twenty years in this field, I know how hard it can be to keep reinventing the wheel, but whey YOU do it, I for one have appreciated it!

So, while I respect (and applaud your trying to cover as many different cultures and religions as you can, WHENEVER you are ready to begin Christmas, I know people will be more than ready!

On behalf of my department, I want to again say thank you for doing what you do. We have great fun watching students make the connections you seem to know they're ready to make. Keep it up!


"Mr. D"

From beautiful New Hampshire.

Specifically, though, it is from my overstuffed corner office whose windows are being overtaken by stacks of books, that I will sit and await!


Dear Mr. D.

I try not to get too personal in these public posts, even when I am almost certain that I see through whatever nickname is attached to the email I'm reading and I really know the person, but at the moment I can't stop myself from asking you one question: Your name... Please tell me that it is not connected to your favorite choice of grade when it's time to fill out report cards (or 'progress reports'). Please?

Moving on, I would like to point out an interesting irony: Your letter is one of the few that actually refers to whatever 'uniqueness' we do indeed try to go for here on this sight, And the irony is this: today, for probably the first time since we 'launched' Adler-n-subtract less than one year ago, I am going to present a math problem which is not merely one I did not create, but it is one which is very old and famous.

However, I will admit that instead of leaving well enough alone, I did end up changing every word into the word that immediately preceded it and then tabbed each line the precise number of spaces so that I will know in my heart I put a lot of effort into it, regardless of whether it actually needed it.

Actually, if you adjust the above joke (which is weak, I know) just slightly, then it is worth knowing. I did in fact take every word and illustration of my beloved ancient puzzle and replace then with different ones. Hey, I had to, because there wasn't any part of it that had a thing to do with Christmas. And now, well, it's on its way to becoming a Christmas classic. HEY, STOP LAUGHING...because you never know, right?

Here's the problem. It is VERY, VERY challenging for many people. And, in a day or two (or three or four...) I will post a couple of major hints on how to make it easy for most students to get.


And Happy Holidays,


Christmas Math, A Question of Balance