Was reading some Douglas Adams ('Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', etc.) and ran across a few quotes worth sharing. Though he was writing for a somewhat geeky audience, there is no denying the validity of what he says. ;-)
"Numbers written on restaurant bills within the confines of restaurants do not follow the same mathematical laws as numbers written on any other pieces of paper in any other parts of the Universe."
"The first nonabsolute number is the number of people for whom the table is reserved. This will vary during the course of the first three telephone calls to the restaurant, and then bear no apparent relation to the number of people who actually turn up, or to the number of people who subsequently join them after the show/match/party/gig, or to the number of people who leave when they see who else has turned up."
"The second nonabsolute number is the given time of arrival, which is now known to be one of the most bizarre of mathematical concepts, a recipriversexcluson, a number whose existence can only be defined as being anything other than itself. In other words, the given time of arrival is the one moment of time at which it is impossible that any member of the party will arrive. Recipriversexclusons now play a vital part in many branches of math, including statistics and accountancy and also form the basic equations used to engineer the Somebody Else's Problem field."
"The third and most mysterious piece of nonabsoluteness of all lies in the relationship between the number of items on the bill, the cost of each item, the number of people at the table and what they are each prepared to pay for. (The number of people who have actually brought any money is only a subphenomenon of this field.)"
Geeks at dinner
- Reply by RobUncorked, Apr 6, 2009.
Excellent post. Douglas Adams definitely has an abstract way of analyzing normal activities. So, not to brand myself as a geek, here are some of my favourite Douglas Adams quotes (although not dinner-related):
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.
The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.
The older a man gets, the farther he had to walk to school as a boy.
- Reply by dmcker, Apr 6, 2009.
Ran across another restaurant-related witticism:
"Bistromathics itself is simply a revolutionary new way of understanding the behavior of numbers. Just as Einstein observed that space was not an absolute but depended on the observer's movement in space, and that time was not an absolute, but depended on the observer's movement in time, so it is now realized that numbers are not absolute, but depend on the observer's movement in restaurants."
I do enjoy his sense of humor, especially because of the perceptive behavioral observations it accompanies. A Will Rogers for geeks? ;-)
- Reply by Mark Angelillo, Apr 6, 2009.
I've spent many an hour enjoying Adams' books and light hearted observations about the world. Thanks for sharing!
- Reply by RobUncorked, Apr 8, 2009.
After my last post here I had to go dust of my Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy book.. hopefully I'll find a couple more good ones.
- Reply by dmcker, Apr 8, 2009.
I assume Adams may not have even known how spot-on he was, since I doubt he'd been to a sushi shop in Japan before he wrote what I quote in my first paragraph at top. The cryptically coded marks the chefs behind the counter use don't even remotely resemble any other form of numbers known to man, whether Chinese, Arabic, Roman, or what have you... ;-)
- Reply by ChipDWood, Apr 8, 2009.
I love that stuff. If you're looking for some other work that mirrors the kind of brilliant tone and wit of the Adams stuff, make sure to check out a book called "Good Omens", co=penned by Terry Pratchett (Discworld) & Neil Gaiman (Sandman comics, numerous other stuffs).
It's #1 on the funniest I've ever picked up, with the aforementioned Mr. Adams, RIGHT there with um.