by Marinka on October 13, 2011

Last night I was sitting peacefully and minding my own business when 10 year old Young Ladrinka came out of his room and asked me for help with his homework.

That’s the problem with kids today– they refuse to suffer in silence.

“I don’t get this math problem,” he told me and shoved a piece of paper towards me.

This is what it said:

The weather during Gary’s vacation was strange. It rained on 15 different days, but it never rained the whole day.

a. Rainy mornings were followed by clear afternoons.
b. Rainy afternoons were preceded by clear mornings.
c. There were 12 clear mornings and 13 clear afternoons in all.

How long was the vacation?


I repeat, WHAT?

First of all, I’m already annoyed because Gary had at least 15 days of vacation and frankly I have no idea what he did to deserve it. The only silver lining is that the vacation was marred by rain. I can only hope that it was a beach vacation that was completely ruined. I’m sorry, but why should the rest of the world work while Gary lounges on the beach with a tropical drink? He’s kind of a dick.

But the weird thing is that the question didn’t ask for our opinion of Gary. The question asks how long his vacation was based on some rain patterns.

Second of all, what are they teaching our American children? Is this a math lesson or a lesson in how to get a migraine? Because if it’s the latter, I’m ready for my diploma.

Third of all, if you know how to solve this *#!@(* problem, please let me know, so that my son doesn’t think that I’m a moron.

I had to edit the title of this post from @#~!&* to “Cruses!” because WordPress, like Gary, was being a dick and not letting people comment.
It’s like the First Amendment doesn’t exist.

One year ago ...

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

DawnA October 13, 2011 at 11:48 am

If I was so inclined I could totally figure that……………..pffft who am I kidding?


Satrina October 13, 2011 at 11:52 am

The answer is 20. 15 rainy days and 5 totally clear days.

How do I know the answer? I… uh… I… googled it 😛


jonaki October 13, 2011 at 11:57 am

I love this! I think the answer is 20 days. The trick is to realize you can have clear mornings and afternoons on some days but not rainy mornings and afternoons (Sorry M!). So the only combination G. gets on his vacations are a) only morning clear, b) both morning clear and afternoon clears and c) only afternoon clear. You also know that ….you know– if you want I’ll email my drawing on a paper. But I do love this problem (and your blog).


Katie October 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Okay, I was confused and a little terrified after reading this post since 4th grade math starts in our home next year. But having read this comment, making clear I’m a moron, I think I’m just going to leave the kids and husband, and move in with Gary. Ole!


Marinka October 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm

You can’t love both this problem and my blog. It’s me against the problem. You must choose a side!



kathy October 13, 2011 at 3:00 pm

I totally choose you. I hate Gary too.


Jonaki October 15, 2011 at 9:31 am

Since I no longer have a rep to protect, I’ll come right out and say it– that’s such a false dichotomy! Marinka can crack a logic-problem loving girl up. She does so with amazing regularity.


karen October 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm

You totally nailed it with this post, M!


Zee October 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I think the real problem is setting children up to expect 20 days of uninterrupted vacation. The only time I’ve had that much time off was when I was recovering from a surgery.


Melissa A. October 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I hope Gary got malaria.


October 13, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Man, I went to college as a math major (before i started smoking weed and switched to art) and I even had to doodle this one out for a few minutes. That’s like a GRE question for 21 year olds!


Megan October 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Um… what?


Math Geek October 13, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Morning rain (MR) has to have a clear afternoon.
Afternoon rain (AR) has to have a clear morning.
There can be full clear (FC) days of clear afternoons and clear mornings. (Not specified but implied)

Days of Rain (DR) = 15
Clear afternoons (CA) = 13
Clear mornings (CM) = 12

Clear afternoon (CA): 13 = morning rain (MR) + full clear days (FC)
Clear morning (CM): 12 = afternoon rain (AR) + full clear days (FC)
Days of Rain (DR): 15 = morning rain (MR) + afternoon rain (AR)

Now’s it’s just solve the algebra equations by isolating one variable and replacing in subsequent equations.
13 = MR + FC becomes: FC = 13 – MR

12 = AR + FC
12 = AR + (13 – MR) which becomes MR = AR – 1

15 = MR + AR
15 = (AR – 1) + AR becomes: 15 = 2AR – 1, 2AR = 14, AR = 7
So afternoon rain is 7 days.

15 = MR + 7, makes MR = 8
So morning rain is 8 days.

One last problem:
FC = 13 – MR, which is FC = 13 – 8 = 5. So 5 full days.

Vacation has 5 full clear days and 15 days of rain for a total of 20 days of vacation.

My bags are packed!


Katie October 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I just vomited.


cindy October 13, 2011 at 2:53 pm

…and not just in my mouth.


Marinka October 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I am without words.

And possibly brains.

I assume you have special training in the calculation of rainy days, right?
I mean, amateurs should not attempt this, correct?

Give me something. Please.


Math Geek October 13, 2011 at 2:58 pm

After years of living in lovely Portland, one does get use to calculating rainy days.

Now after living in Texas, the knowledge is useful in calculating days of over 100 degree temperatures instead.

*barf bags all around for those that need it*


Roshni October 13, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Who ARE you!?!?!??!


Math Geek October 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Just someone who normally quietly reads the blog. I’ll go back to lurking now.


October 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I think you’re awesome!


Marinka October 19, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I think you’re awesome too!


Rainyday October 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm

My head hurts. Thanks.


October 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Are you available for parties? And/or tutoring?


JamiK October 14, 2011 at 10:52 am

My head hurts…..


dusty earth mother October 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I repeat for Roshni, WHO ARE YOU?


mommygeek October 17, 2011 at 7:59 am

That is both beautiful and terrifying, all at the same time.


October 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm

So glad I’m not the only one uses Google for all of the 4th grade math that comes home. What in the hell did our parents do back in the “old days?”


October 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Back in the old days my parents told me to figure it out myself or I’d never succeed in life. Apparently that’s a frowned upon option of parenting style these days.


October 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Gary’s a fucking asshole.


Scottsdale Girl
October 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm



rebeccaNYC October 13, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Math geek showoff.


Dorothy October 13, 2011 at 6:18 pm

ummmmmmmm….yeah sure, got it…….not

I’m still trying to figure out a 4th grade math problem from 1995 when my kid was that age…..and I actually like math.


Fiona Picklebottom October 13, 2011 at 6:27 pm

An easier way of looking at it is that there are a total of 25 days that have either a clear morning, clear afternoon, or both. There are 15 days that have either a rainy morning or rainy afternoon. We know those 15 days also are days with either a clear morning or afternoon, so subtract them from the 25 days, leaving us with 10 clear mornings AND afternoons, which is 5 totally clear days. Add the 5 totally clear days to the 15 partially rainy days for a total of 20 vacation days.


Fiona Picklebottom October 13, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Actually that is the same way of looking at it without the equations. 🙂


Kate Coveny Hood
October 13, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I think my first question is what a name like “Gary” is doing in a math question for the graduating class of 2000-anything. “Gary” is on vacation in the 1970s. And he must be one of those bartenders who works hard during high season so he can surf in Maui all Winter. Just a thought.


Heather October 13, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Write in D) Who gives a damn. Because really. Who does? Obscure word problems fucking piss me off.


October 13, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Hop. Goes. Bop.

Yep. My ability to help the kids with homework pretty much ended there.

By the way, I’m pretty sure Gary was in that Tsunami a few years back. Poor Gary, he got washed away during his “massage.” Not the happy ending he had hoped for.


the mama bird diaries
October 13, 2011 at 11:17 pm

What the hell is up with math geek?

M – you are hilarious. Loved this post.


The Mommy Therapy
October 13, 2011 at 11:30 pm

This reminds me of an LSAT question. I used to love these, but right now I am going on 4 hours of sleep from a cranky baby and I probably couldn’t figure it out if I were offered $1000 to get it correct.

Freakin’ Gary!


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes October 14, 2011 at 7:21 am

For some bizar and unknown reason the answer ’20 vacation days’ popped in head as soon as I had read the riddle.
I’m supposed to have dyscalculia, so either I have gotten smarter or Management has spiked the coffee with experimental drugs…


October 14, 2011 at 7:55 am

When I saw the title of this post, I thought “Awesome! Spells I can use on my pesky in-laws”. How disappointing to find out that I am just as lame as I thought I was went it comes to math.


October 14, 2011 at 10:15 am

I am frightened of my children going to school and coming back with these problems. My husband frequently tells me I’m going to have to do homework along side them because apparently I didn’t retain the important knowledge of how to calculate how many days it rained on Gary’s vacation. However, I would be perfectly willing to text him and ask. Glad smarter people knew the answer!


Lady Goo Goo Gaga October 14, 2011 at 10:46 am

oh jeez – what grade is this??? I am totally dead and so are my kids……


October 14, 2011 at 11:35 am

First off, eff 15+ days of vaca, how the he’ll is Gary getting to experience CONSECUTIVE days of rain?! Vaca AND rain?! He’s just having a grand ol time while we had to deal with 30+ days of 100 degree rainless weather in a row. And second, I went back to school to become a math teacher, if I have to teach crap like that I’m screwed!!


October 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm

*snort * *choke*

“Is this a math lesson or a lesson in how to get a migraine? Because if it’s the latter, I’m ready for my diploma. ”

God, but you are a funny, funny woman.


Domesticated Gal
October 14, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Gary needs a job. If he were stuck in cubicle land like the rest of us:
a. He wouldn’t have 15+ vacation days to take in the entire Year. Let alone all at once.
b. He wouldn’t know what the weather outside was at all, as the single square inch of window he can glimpse over the wall of his mid-level cubicle would give him a glorious view of the dumpster in the alley out back.
c. He’d realie that 15 days of vacation? Is just about when you can apply for unemployment. BECAUSE YOU’RE OUT OF A JOB after that long on “vacation.”

Oh, and the dork in me says the answer is 20. Don’t worry. I’ve already stuffed her in a locker and taken her lunch money for you.


Jessica@Team Rasler October 14, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Well, I teach upper elementary kids, and so I skipped the algebra and did two of my trusty problem-solving strategies that I teach my students: Make a Chart and Guess and Check. I got the right answer (thank goodness), but my main question is this:

Why the heck was the teacher sending this kind of problem home for homework? Homework is to practice stuff you learned in class. These kinds of problem-solving activities are best done in the classroom where the kids can think about it on their own, then talk to each other about it, then make a big chart together to sort it out. At least for elementary school. Especially now that I’m a parent, I definitely see it as my job to not send home work that makes the other parents despise me. Although as a blogger, I certainly see that it’s good for entertainment value!

And even teachers don’t typically get to enjoy 20 days of vacation in a row. There are always continuing ed classes to take…or math papers to grade. ; )


Lady Jennie October 15, 2011 at 8:57 am

Laughing. Let’s hope the French install some genius into my kids regarding math so they don’t have to ask their parents.


Cherilyn October 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Unless your kid is fucking Rainman, how do they expect kids to figure this out? Hell, I’m still trying to work the “preceded” by puzzle in my mind to figure out if that means before or after.

Oh, and Gary must be the useless CEO, I don’t know anyone who gets 20 days of vacation in a row.


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