Posted by: Willem | August 24, 2008

Pop Quiz

I’ve been busy working on a surprise for Kate.  You’ll find out tomorrow, no doubt, when she returns.  So, I have just a simple math question for you tonight based on an actual event from my youth.

I was reminded of this the other day when I flipped open Sports Illustrated and read a short article on an American Olympian competing in air pistol.  His story is pretty interesting.  He finished 4th, but managed to win the bronze medal when the 3rd-place finisher was found to be doping (see here for picture and full story).

Turns out he was a very good childhood friend of mine.  We were pretty much inseparable in the 9th and 10th grades.  We only lived two miles apart and we would bike to each others house nearly every summer day.  We also would bike into town (Rush, NY) and frequent the many (two) stores.

So here’s the question.  A boy walks into a store with fifty cents.  He wants to buy some fireballs, which are a nickel each.  Since the store is in Monroe County, NY, 1991, there is an 8% sales tax.  However, he somehow manages to purchase 10 fireballs without stealing or borrowing money.  How did he (I) do it?

The answer is written below in white font.  To read it, simply click and drag to highlight.

ANSWER:  I bought the fireballs one at a time.  8% of five cents is less than half a penny, so the total cost of each purchase is still five cents.  I literally walked around the register 10 times just so I could buy 10 fireballs.  I hope that wasn’t too easy or too hard for you!



  1. Rush? Wow. I’m in Fairport right now. 🙂

    What’s the surprise?

  2. I don’t dare say, on the off chance that Kate finds a computer before tomorrow night. You’ll know by then.

  3. I’m so happy I never have to take algebra again! Not too hard, just pointless (tongue in cheek).

  4. The hardest part was the clicking and dragging 🙂 But that was pretty smart of you. A more pertinent question might be how long did it take you to consume TEN fireballs?? Ow!

  5. smart, very smart. now we all know why kate married you! 🙂

  6. What a smart young lad!

  7. I was clueless!!!

  8. Clever little devil! My dad, the quintessential cheapskate, always joked that he used to ask his dad for a nickel to buy a Coke, so he wouldn’t have to break a dime!

    Can’t wait to hear what you’re surprising Kate with!

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