Let's Play Probabilities

A few weeks ago I noticed coo-ing and flapping sounds in the house.  Further investigation, and the sound of mortar tinkling down the chimney, led me to conclude there was a bird in the spare bedroom flue.
I ignored it, since birds fall down chimneys all the time and the world nonetheless turns on its axis.  The noise eventually ceased.  Today, I have released around fifteen large bluebottles from the upper floor of the house.
What is the probability that there is a rotting dead bird carcass stuck half way up my chimney?  Bonus points if you can correctly guess the probability that I’m going to stick my head up the  aforementioned flue for confirmatory purposes.
Last week, K-man did a load of laundry which included my most expensive hiking socks: a pair of wigwams purchased in Canada for the hefty price equivalent of around ten of my finest English doubloons.  I only have one other pair of proper hiking socks – an absolutely stellar ten year old pair of Bridgedales which cost 8 doubloons and are still going strong.   I love a product that lasts.
When the laundry was brought in from the line, only one wigwam was in attendance.  I have hunted high and low inside and outside the house, including in the vegetable patch.  The sock, my most expensive sock, is nowhere to be found.
What is the probability that I will ever see that sock again?
I have been pondering, in a vague and uncommitted manner, the notion of doing a PhD for some time now.  It is time to either pony up with the commitment or run whimpering into the night, and yet because my highest-level academic qualification is in procrastination I still don’t feel like I have garnered enough information to make a meaningful decision.
To force myself to be serious, or at least enable myself to head in the direction of real actual serious consideration – instead of excitedly telling people about my idea and leaving it at that – I spent a lot of money on a book* about the application process and how to figure out what to do and when it needs to be done by.
Today I set myself the goal of reading the book.  It’s 4.45pm and I’ve read exactly NO pages of the book.  What is the probability that I will read the first chapter today?
* clearly, the price of a book is inversely proportional to the number of people interested in reading it.
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2 Responses to “Let's Play Probabilities”


  1. 1 trash April 27, 2011 at 1:46 am

    So your PhD? Will it be in statistics?

  2. 2 Jenn @ Juggling Life April 27, 2011 at 3:30 am

    But you are playing a heckuva Words with Friends game!

    You have reminded me of my own fireplace/probability story. What is the probability that if you don’t know that a bird is in the chimney and you start a fire that the bird will squawk in a terrible manner, then fall down into the fire and you and your small children will all stand there screaming hysterically as the bird is immolated?


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