A Word Problem

I’ll be honest, I never liked word problems much in math class. Words were so much my friends in other contexts, and in math class they just seemed confusing. But Paul has requested this one specially, and even I will admit it’s kind of cool.

This is my Uncle Harold in 1944, when he was 12 years old.

1944 Harold Stoller 12 yrs

Is he not adorable?

It runs in the family, as I used to say when I was four or five and didn’t know better than to parrot what my older siblings had brainwashed me to suggested I say.

Anyway, he grew up and married my Aunt Luella, and they had three boys. The boys were born in three different years, and they were all single births.

They will all be 56 on their next birthday.

This statement was true yesterday and it is true today.

If you want to figure it out on your own, stop here and have at it.

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A hint, you say? Okay. This happens regularly. Specifically, every four years, for two days, all three sons will be the same age on their next birthday.

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Don’t feel bad. I’ve known about it forever and I still made Paul type out the dates for me so I wouldn’t get wrong. And I still might, because it’s been that kind of week. But here you go.

The first two boys are almost exactly a year apart. The third came a year and a half later, on a leap day. Doug was born on July 18, 1961, and on his next birthday (tomorrow), he will be 56. Art was born on July 16, 1962; on his next birthday (a year from yesterday), he will be 56. Tom was born on February 29, 1964, and in about 2 1/2 years, on his next birthday, he will be 56.

I don’t know when Uncle Harold figured this out, but I have been hearing about it all my life. It is so quintessentially Stoller-nerdy.

If you didn’t know Stollers are a little nerdy, I think you haven’t met a sufficient amount of Stollers. My brother (our mother was a Stoller) was strictly rationing his driving at one point so that on New Year’s Day, he could drive the last mile required to make his car odometer read 100,000 miles even on the date 01/01/01. I found this hilarious and told everyone I ran into, which is how I discovered at Christmas dinner that one of my mother’s brothers was doing the exact same thing. Neither of them knew about the other until that moment.

Ner. Dy.

Me, too. It just mostly manifested in language instead of numbers. (Ask me about apostrophes sometime. When you have a lot of time.)

I don’t know whether the off-topic rambles can be attributed to the Stoller influence or if that’s just me, but regardless, it’s kind of a fun one, no? It’s good for two more hours before it expires, but it’ll be back around again.

July 2021, baby.

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