Hanging on the telephone   Leave a comment

And four million Ferrero Rocher.

Yesterday afternoon Richard Herring asked on Twitter how many layers a pyramid (square or triangular) made up of four million Ferrero Rocher would have. The question made me curious, so I did a spot of research on Wikipedia and wrote a program to calculate it, which gave the result:
Square Layer: 229 Number in pyramid: 4029255
Triangular Layer: 288 Number in pyramid: 4022880

So now you know.

(Initially I thought tetrahedral numbers were the number in each layer of a triangular pyramid, not the number in the pyramid in total, giving 90-something layers. Oops, nevermind.)

He later added cones and hollow pyramids to the question, the answer being: I have no idea. The whole thing’s pretty academic anyway – I’m not sure one of the sweets at the bottom would support the weight of over 200 layers without squashing, and building an unsupported hollow pyramid would be quite the task.

Anyway, telephones. I received two calls yesterday (I know!). The first was a chat with a friend about weekend plans and mutual interests, which was fine, especially as I wasn’t trying to do anything at the time.
The second was my mother (it seems things have blown over enough that we’re talking regularly again. Oh well.) asking if I wanted a lift to buy some decorating stuff, which was nice (I’d got other plans to get it and for my evening, but figured the car might make it easier). The problem arrived when she then spent half an hour wittering on about kids and teachers at her school, none of whom I’ve met or care about thus rendering the anecdote entirely pointless, boasting about being great whilst pretending to be embarassed about it, and complaining about things she’s complained about countless times before. It turned a five minute conversation (or, better, three or four text messages or emails) into a 35 minute chore, when really I wanted to be getting on with my evening and doing the washing up.

(I had a similar problem with my ex. Sometimes she’d call three or four times in a day, despite absolutely nothing happening. “I miss you”. How? You’ve only been gone a few hours and this is the fourth time you’ve called!)

Which is the problem with telephones, really. They’ve the advantage that you get a response then and there, but the disadvantage that they interrupt your victim and demand their attention right now. They also limit what you can do at the same time, as you’re a hand down and don’t want to (say) drop the thing in the sink. So unless you’ve got impeccable timing, and the restraint to not witter on interminably about whatever drivel pops into your head, telephoning means you’re horribly interrupting and mucking up somebody’s day, and probably pointlessly wasting their time. So don’t do it unless it’s imperative (and let’s be honest, it isn’t) or previously arranged so all parties can plan around it.
In all other cases, send a text message or email. Or use Twitter, for group communications. In those mediums your victim can read and reply when convenient, and you can even proof-read your writing and make sure you say what you want to say, rather than trying to wing it.

And, of course, if you want to rabbit on interminably about the minutiae of your tedious existance: start a blog! You get the satisfaction of having said it, nobody else has the ordeal of having to read it. Everybody’s a winner.

Sadly, my mother views any technology developed in her lifetime as terrifying, evil witchcraft to be shunned or, better yet, destroyed.


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