Counting at the Counter

Mar 15, 1997

RAY: I have to paint the scene first.

TOM: Go man. I'll close my eyes and put on my wave music.

RAY: There I was sitting at the counter at Sam's Luncheonette in our fair city. The sky had been angry that day, but it was clearing with faint white wisps, clinging desperately to a promise to be a blazing blue sky. There I was spilling egg on my shirt and I noticed a woman and her son next to me at the counter doing his arithmetic homework. And they're adding a bunch of decimels. And I'll give you the numbers. Get a pencil.

TOM: Get a pencil. Got one.

RAY: 6.2, 1.1, 2.2, 3.2 . Add that up.

TOM: 2, 4, 6, 7, 5, 6 ...13.7. 12.7

RAY: There you go, that's a little better.

TOM: 12.7

RAY: They come up with14.1.

TOM: Base 8.

RAY: Base 8?

TOM: Base this!

RAY: Here are the numbers again: 6.2, 1.1, 2.2, 3.2 -- for a grand total of 12.7. Except their total is 14.1.

TOM: Is the question going to be these people are from another planet and how many fingers did they have? No that's not it. I shouldn't try to ... what is the question? They have 14.1.

RAY: So I was about to correct them, but I didn't. They get up, put on their hats and coats.

TOM: And their six-fingered gloves.

RAY: It's three.

TOM: Three-fingered gloves.

RAY: And as they leave I say, "I've got it. " What did I get? And I gave you the hints. All the hints are embedded. And it had nothing to do with the white clouds clinging desperately ... it might have. Everything in there is essential. And there is nothing more I think that you need.


TOM: Well, I mean, my first thought was that it is not base 10.

RAY: Right. well...

TOM: Except what base is it? If there's a one here where I think there should be a seven, that means it should be base 6. But one of the numbers was a six and we know there's no 6 in base six. So it ain't base 6.

RAY: Well, it's base 3 on the right side of the decimal point and it's base 10 on the other side.

TOM: What kind of stupid addition is that?

RAY: Baseball addition.

TOM: Baseball?

RAY: They're adding up innings pitched. Where 3.1 is 3 and a third innings. 3.3 is four innings.

TOM: Oh my god! So this is innings. So I got 4, 5, 6, 7...7 thirds is 2 and one left over.

RAY: Comes out to?

TOM: 14.1

RAY: And the hint of course was the hats.

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