Author: mathtans

Writer and high school mathematics teacher.

General l’Hopital: Entry 1e

…not anti-longed

Electra Lysis walked into Room 231, put down her things and closed the double blinds. Then she flipped on the TV to see what was on the Mr. Rogers [TM] Cable Neighbourhood. Coming to the realization that there was nothing on the Life (serial) channel, she reached for the remote… as a man burst into the room and stumbled forward a pair of meters. He seized a package from the table. “Ana!” he shouted as he opened it. “You must not use this… lemma merangue pi?”

“That’s a parcel from my grandmother – Gran U. Larity,” Elly stated, perplexed. “She’s into pi and cayenne distribution. Who are you?”

“Er, I’m Max,” was the response. “Trying to intercept a Sir Vay package for Ana. Who are you?”

“Ana Lysis’ sister, Electra. What relation are you to Ana’s steady? That guy’s unnerving… I’m getting worried about heteroscedasticity.”

Max blinked. “I don’t know what that measure meant.”

“I think there’s a pattern in how Ana’s relationships vary,” Elly clarified.

Max shook his head. “Electra? Complex…”

“Meaning,” Elly sighed, “that they never last. I’d estimate – or approximate – it was three weeks with both Stu Dee and Sam Pull. So her time with Sir Vay is almost up.”

“I guess that’s characteristic,” Max acknowledged.

Elly sighed. “It’s getting such that I can’t concentrate on my work… the other day I got a hopital’s normal distribution charts mixed up with student tea distributions!”

“Chi…,” murmured Max.

“My job assessment can’t be good to say the least. So, just what is her latest companion up to?”

“Well, he was upset when he found out Ana was an imperfect model. So he knit a hideous looking ‘sigma’ hat – white, but with lurking variables that will glow in the dark. He hoped to embarrass her and horrify the local population… both those events cueing the breakup of their relationship.”

Elly gasped. “That’s a cue-cue plot! You sure you’re not gaussing?”

“Beta believe it.”

Elly rolled her eyes. “Typical. They always give up on Ana when they observe her modelling is experimental.”

“So… the package?” Max pressed, looking very antsy.

“Oh, the one by the matches has been here since I arrived.”

But as Max turned to get it Ana walked into the room. “Would you believe it?” Ana commented. “I was so rushed to leave I grabbed a wrong ski – isn’t this Ron’s ski?”

“Wonder what the likelihood of this was,” Elly sighed.

To be concluded…

–Greg “hologrami” Taylor

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[Nothing to add this time. Are you amazed how it’s suddenly coming together? Me too. We’re almost done.]

General l’Hopital: Entry 1d

I don’t know C…

Electra (or Elly as she was known) slapped her $50.00 fee down on the counter in the ‘High’s Cool’ ski resort foyer and rang the service bell. After ringing three more times, a person finally came forth. “Sorry,” the receptionist, Bern Oulee, apologized. “We’re understaffed. A lot of people are against the testing of a 160-hour work week.”

Elly blinked. “And you’re working because…”

“I’m pro-testing.”

Elly sighed. “Well, as long as this deviation from protocol isn’t standard,” she relented. “Now, is Room 231 finally ready?”

The receptionist scanned the log book with e’s and nodded. “Electra and Ana Lysis? The room’s been made up; you even have a parcel waiting there.”

As Elly processed this, her sister turned to her. “Well, my assessment of the situation is that we’ll have at least two hours until dinner,” Ana observed.

“Er, good estimation…” Elly said, experimentally.

“Well then, I’m going to rise over ski runs and thus observe slopes. Maybe give them a trial run.”

Elly nodded. “Then I’ll move our articles to our room.”

That decided, the two sisters parted ways as another individual entered on the other side of the foyer. He was visibly upset. “First my flight gets PPD; A.C. will hear about that,” Max complained. “Then those confounded crankshafts! Causing crazy car collisions, creating chaos… I hope I’m still in time…”

He approached the receptionist and paused for a confidence interval. “I’m Max Value,” he finally said. “Has anyone named Ana Lysis been by?”

Bern Oulee raised an eyebrow – there was no expected Value in his log book. “You just missed your target,” he said guardedly. “Her room is 231 but…”

“Why… aie!!” Max gasped, running off. What were the odds in catching her? He hoped there was still the time to perform any pivotal function required…

He almost ran into a short haired woman in his charge to the elevators, but Dr. Waterson paid only marginal attention to their encounter. She’d had a good derive down in a rented ford from Tilde. She proceeded to the counter and greeted the receptionist. “Hi, I’m booked in Room 230 and I’m looking for an Electra Lysis.”

“Figures. Room 231,” came Bern’s standard response. He shook his head. “Is there some sort of plot here?”

“Not that I know of,” the doctor replied, moving off.

Bern sighed. “All the flakes aren’t in the snowdrifts.”


To be prolonged…

–Alia S. Choir

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[NOTE: We’ve moved from STAT230 into STAT231. This was also the mathNEWS issue where names were changed to draw attention to the 1997 Teachers’ Strike in Ontario… we posed as “replacement” workers. “Alia” was the Evil Leaper on Quantum Leap, while “S Choir” is from Bill S. Preston Esquire. And no, there is no plot. That you can spot yet.]

General l’Hopital: Entry 1c

Apparently, to be…

Max sat at the restaurant table, picking at his fishbone. Earlier, he’d resorted to calling the resort, where apparently a re-sort of schedules had delayed Ana Lysis’ arrival. So Sir Vay’s knit wit present, while pre-sent, hadn’t been presented. So now Max was waiting for his contact – Mr. Y.

Max requested a dessert sample, then returned to gauging the situation. He didn’t understand why Sir Vay was rejecting Ana simply because she was a model – apparently something about a model’s imperfection. Well, he would rectify matters.

A ghostly apparition abruptly appeared, apparently appraising apples and apprising all of assonance applications. Max almost applauded. “I have reservations coming here…,” Y noted.

“No, I made the reservations,” Max corrected. “Care to sit and have a treat?”

“No, no time for tricks. Here’s your departure component.” Y put a ticket on the table then moved off in a random direction.

Max blinked. “Not staying for at least squares…?”

“I’m involved in a scatter plot,” came Y’s response. And he was gone.

Max picked at the residual of his meal. Well, now he had the means – he supposed he should get to the resort as soon as he could…


Doctor Waterson walked into the absolute value bar and glanced around. It hadn’t taken too long for her to determine that there existed a correlation between all the strange h^ospital events and one particular orderly on the night shift. Even the accidental labelling of “poison” jars to have an extra “s” in the middle could be explained. And the current assumption was that the orderly frequented this bar.

The Doctor walked up to the bartender and produced a diagram. “Do you know this person?” she asked.

The bartender blinked. “Count on it. I see her with relative frequency. Last I knew she was off to the ‘High’s Cool’ ski resort.”

Dr. Waterson frowned. She knew of it… the slopes were pretty easy compared to later places she’d found herself. Well, she might as well go and verify her hypothesis there… with a quick acknowledgement to the bartender, she departed – as another patron entered.

“Norm!” greeted the bartender. “What did you do for dinner tonight?”

“CS,” Norm grumbled.


To be… or C?

–Greg “hologrami” Taylor

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[NOTE: Still leaning into Statistics jokes. This was also near Halloween.]

General l’Hopital: Entry 1b

you were warned…

“He’s had some improbable reaction!” Dr. Waterson realized. “Send out copies of his history charts, STAT!!”

The on-duty med, Ian, blinked out of his reverie. “Which means – do I Gauss at the distribution?” he asked.

The doctor turned from her patient patiently. “Good gravy, don’t be a turkey,” she admonished. “You don’t need to Gauss, just be Normal.”

Ian stopped yammering and rushed out of room 230 as Mr. Venn came in. “I heard about the mode blue… are we covered this time?” he wondered.

“No, this isn’t a front page issue, it’s small potatoes,” came the reply.

“Let’s give thanks for that,” Venn sighed. “But we should keep such random events discrete or the press may gobble them up.”

Dr. Waterson frowned. “You’re not stuffing this into the same category as the others?”

“No… and that decision is unconditional,” Venn affirmed. “We can’t get pie-eyed over this.”

“But this time it was because the orderly brought by no meal…”

“No meal distribution?” Venn paused. “Well, run a uniform check,” he relented. Dr. Waterson nodded. She hoped the events weren’t independent. Even if it sounded corny, cobbled together.


Meanwhile, elsewhere, Sir Vay was getting upset. “I won’t be a target!” he stated.

“But what you knit was not a tribute,” Max noted. “Your very ability –“

“No! I won’t take the fall,” Vay cut in coldly, squashing any further conversation. Max sighed – he knew when he was whipped. But this was still a Sir Vay error… that could drive people out of their gourd. He had to do something before full punishment could be meted out…


To be… or not to be

–Greg “hologrami” Taylor

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[NOTE: Came out in early October, 1997. Food references are due to Canadian Thanksgiving being around this time. STAT230 also crept in as a course code, with many distributions, such as “by no meal”.]

General l’Hopital: Entry 1a

mathNEWS, Volume 75, issue 1 : Friday, September 26, 1997

[Yes, that’s literally all we have for the start of my mathNEWS serials (and “Hopital” in particular), cover art. Not even my first mN cover art. For those who don’t know, mathNEWS covers were reader submissions, much like many articles themselves. When no art was submitted, it was up to the editors to whip up some graphics or stick men or… check in with the people pulling the issue together.

For the record, my twelve covers were: (1) Volume 69, Issue 4. (Nov 10, 1995). (2) Volume 69, Issue 5. (Nov 24, 1995). (3) Volume 69, Issue 6. (Dec 5, 1995). (4) Volume 71, Issue 1. (May 17, 1996). (5) Volume 71, Issue 5. (July 12, 1996). (6*) Volume 75, Issue 1. (Sept 26, 1997). (7) Volume 78, Issue 2. (Oct 2, 1998). (8) Volume 81, Issue 2. (Oct 8, 1999). (9) Volume 82, Issue 1. (Jan 21, 2000). (10) Volume 82, Issue 5. (Mar 17, 2000). (11) Volume 84, Issue 6. (Dec 1, 2000). (12) Volume 85, Issue 1. (Jan 19, 2001). *: see above

I also provided cover art for Volume 84, Issue 0 (Frosh Issue, Sept 2000) and appeared in person as part of group photographs for Volume 78, Issue 5 (Nov 6, 1998) – the “Square One” parody issue – and on Volume 86, Issue 2 (June 1, 2001) – the “Iron Chef” parody article. Miscellaneous other drawings of mine appeared briefly in Volume 80, Issue 8 (“Irrational Toast”, July 28, 1999), throughout Volume 83, Issue 4 (“DaGlobeNPost”, July 12, 2000) and briefly in Volume 88, Issue 7 (“Toronto Moon”, March 22, 2002).

So I was dabbling in art well before my personified math webcomic. (Hey, have you checked that out?) Draw your own conclusions about how long I spent at University.

At any rate, this single cover would be spun into a set of entries for the rest of Volume 75. Hope you enjoy.

As a bonus for reading this far, here is the first draft of the relevant cover art. Along with the different dialogue, note the absence of my marker, the Trek-KnightRider-QuantumLeap-Sliders-SMoon emblem on the file cabinet. It appears on all my official mathNEWS cover art.]

–Greg “hologrami” Taylor

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Quantum Loop: Entry 1f

“An aliquot is a number which can be divided evenly into another number!” shouted Hal and Rick Ursion concurrently.

“OOP!” Sham recalled. He quickly set the detonator’s timing device to a suitably large prime number, giving them time to defuse the situation before the counter hit ‘1’. It was all over in record time.

“Congratulations, Sham,” Hal remarked. “Got out of a heap of trouble with minimal Risc.” He knocked his hand against the calculator as Rick led Lynn Kedlist away.

“What happens to them?” Sham queried in reference to the others.

“Uhmmm, looks like Lynn reveals the identities of some CPU members… the CPU gets locked away… oh, this is good though. Rick Ursion changes the ALU to RAM, Rick’s Amusing Mathematics. Talks a lot about interesting principles and inspires a lot of students.”

“Great!” Sham declared. “… so why haven’t I looped?”

“Well, if you recall, things were already going to work out before you changed them and made them better,” Hal reminded. “Helping the ALU wasn’t your reason for being here.”

“Then what??”

“Uh, we’re still working on it,” Hal admitted.

Sham threw up his hands. “There must be a hex on me.”


The afternoon of July 20th found Sham grading C papers when Hal suddenly appeared. “We’ve figured it out!” he pronounced. His handlink made a noise. “Okay, BigE’s figured it out,” Hal relented. “You know, I think the E stands for Ego, darn computer sent an interrupt as I was having a private moment with Xina…”

“Hal, can we settle arguments after I’ve looped?” Sham pressed.

“Oh, sure Sham. Well, it seems you looped in on a mathNEWS publication day, which should have tipped us off. Maybe you’ve seen it around? Anyway, you just need to include an article which will inspire the whole idea of RAM that eventually leads one student to unparalleled greatness.”

“You’re kidding. Like what, information about divisibility…?”

“No, no, that’s been done to death. Something like… ‘the first number with the letter ‘a’ in it is one thousand’.”

“That will inspire someone to great heights?”

“I’m just reading suggestions off the link. Or how about that the only number with all it’s letters in alphabetical order is for… for…”

“The birds?”

Hal hit the link. “Forty.”

“This is ridiculous.”

“This is mathNEWS. Just write some things down and do some BLACK BOX testing on the third floor. You’ll be inspiring someone to a Nobel Prize in Mathematics!”

“Hal, there is no Nobel Prize in Mathematics,” Sham observed.

Hal shrugged. “You get the idea.”

Sham sighed, pondering for a while before finally jotting down some options. He proceeded downstairs and started dropping paper into the box. Hal watched as ‘8 pints in a gallon’ and ’69 is the same upsidedown as rightside up’ went in. “I hope the last one’s more unique,” he noted.

Sham grimaced, dropped in his final sheet… and looped away in a blue haze. Sitting in the box was a slip of paper containing some simple words: ‘Take a number between 6 and 12. Square it. If the number you have is odd, add one. Add all digits in your number until there is one digit left. Subtract one. Take this number modulus 4. The result is how much sense this series was intended to make.’

–Greg “hologrami” Taylor

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[That concludes the Summer 1998 run of “Quantum Loop” in volume 77 of mathNEWS. This serial would later return in Fall 1999, during volume 81, hence the “Next” option. Hope you enjoyed; I like to think Sham’s departure here was due more to quantity than quality.]