Pop Quiz: Internet Marketing

1. On which website would you be most likely to find an ad for used kitty litter?

  1. The Onion
  2. Craigslist
  3. Amazon.com
I prefer my cat litter new, thanks.
Figure 1. What’s wrong with this picture?

2. Take a moment to examine Figure 1. What’s wrong with this picture?

  1. In description on the left, the apostrophe is missing from the word “World’s”.
  2. The standard list price for cat litter is, apparently, $96.85 for a 7-pound bag or $109.47 for a 14-pound bag.
  3. Used kitty litter costs more than new kitty litter.
  4. Used kitty litter is being offered for sale.

3. Every two weeks, Alice’s cats convert 25 pounds of new cat litter into used cat litter. If Alice pays $9.99 for each 25-pound tub of new cat litter and sells her used cat litter at market rates, how much profit will she make in a year?

4. Alice wants to quit her job and live off her cat litter profits. She currently has two cats; how many more will she need to adopt?

5. What should Alice call her online store?

  1. The Cat Waste Place
  2. Alice’s Organic Free-Range Artisinal Feline Extrusion Emporium
  3. I Haz Had Cheezburger

Alice’s store turns out not to be as profitable as she’d hoped. She looks for ways to earn some extra income and decides to respond to this craigslist ad:

I have a terrible problem. My litter box is dirty and smells horrible and I don’t want to clean it. I am amazing at making pancakes however. I will trade my pancake skills for a clean litter box. Serious inquires only.

  • Location: bathroom corner
  • Compensation: pancakes. All you can eat!!!
  • This is an internship job

6. Essay question: describe the expected career path of the person who successfully completes this internship.

7. What’s unusual about this ad?

  1. It promises all-you-can-eat pancakes but doesn’t mention syrup.
  2. It doesn’t specify whether the pancakes must be consumed when the litter box is being scooped or whether the intern can show up at the employer’s home at any time and demand pancakes.
  3. It’s on craigslist, but it doesn’t say anything about the intern having to perform his or her duties naked.

8. What’s the probability that the person who placed the ad has at least one cat?

  1. 60%
  2. 40%
  3. 20%

What’s Your Halloween Personality Type?

1. What’s your pumpkin-carving style?

A. I choose the perfect pumpkin, create an original design on paper, create a template, and then cut the pumpkin very precisely and painstakingly.

B. I dig the plastic pumpkin out of the back of the hall closet and blow most of the dust off.

C. I don’t decorate for Halloween.

D. I carve my start-up company’s logo into the pumpkin, then take pictures and post to all my social-media sites. It’s a festive decoration and free advertising.

E. I enjoy carving faces.

2. What’s your approach to distributing Halloween candy?

A. I engage each child in conversation to determine whether their treats need to be gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, or sugar-free.

B. I point at the candy bowl and say “help yourself.”

C. I turn off the porch light and don’t answer the door.

D. When parents come to the door with their children, I invite them in for a drink and a marketing presentation.

E. I make sure everyone gets what they deserve.

3. It’s two days before Halloween. What last-minute supplies do you buy?

A. None. I’ve already carved my jack-o-lantern, sewn homemade costumes for my children, put up decorations, and bought a carefully-selected assortment of candy.

B. A few bags of fun-sized candies to replace the ones I bought last weekend but ate already. And some beer.

C. Blackout curtains and a “No Solicitors” sign for my front door.

D. None. I’ve already picked up the candies that I had custom-wrapped my company’s logo and web address.

E. Extra-large garbage bags, duct tape, an area rug, and a shovel.

4. Halloween is a good time to …

A. Impress the neighbors.

B. Eat candy.

C. Turn out the lights and hide in the dark.

D. Network with people from the neighborhood.

E. Dispose of a body.

Happy Halloween! If you’re looking for last-minute advice, you may find some of these older posts useful:

For costume ideas, why not try some of these Reese’s-themed fashions?

Don’t want to spend the evening handing out candy? Try some of these alternate candy distribution methods

And it’s always a good idea to follow these simple Halloween safety tips

I’ve switched to a different mail-sending mechanism, so if you get these posts by mail and anything looks strange, please let me know. And as always, please feel free to follow my sad, lonely Facebook page.

Oops! Some of you may have gotten two copies of this in the mail. Sorry about that — it won’t happen again.

March Madness! A Pop Quiz

1. You get an email from your college alumni association informing you that your school’s men’s basketball team is in the semifinals for their national championship. You are …

a) Not surprised, because you’ve been following them all season (and every season since your freshman year).

b) Surprised to learn that the school even has a basketball team, and delighted that they’re in the March Madness semifinals.

c) Not surprised, because the email went straight to your spam folder.

2. March Madness is:

a) The annual NCAA men’s college basketball championship tournament.

b) The annual NCAA Division 1 basketball championship tournament. Because the NCAA is divided into divisions, each of which has its own separate championship, and being in the Division 3 semifinals means you’re not even in March Madness, much less the semifinals, whose participants haven’t even been determined yet.

c) Similar to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), in that both are afflitions in which a person’s mood is influenced by a spherical object — in SAD, under-exposure to the Sun contributes to depression; in March Madness, over-exposure to a basketball contributes to mood swings.

3. You would use a March Madness bracket to:

a) Record your predictions regarding who will win each game of the March Madness tournament.

b) Hang your March Madness curtains.

c) Determine what percentage of your March Madness income you need to pay in your March Madness  taxes.

It's the second from the left, right? (Bowling ball picture from wpclipart.com; all others from Wikimedia).

4. If I showed you a picture of a basketball, a bowling ball, a mothball, a hairball, an eyeball, and Lucille ball, the probability that you’d be able to correctly identify the basketball is:

a) 17%

b) 110%

c) No one told me there would be math in this quiz.

5. You discover that your office has a weekly pool in which people predict the winners of that week’s March Madness games. You decide to join in because:

a) You have a really good system for predicting March Madness winners.

b) The pool goes by point spread, so in theory you’d have a 50-50 chance of choosing each winner correctly just by guessing randomly.

c) If you don’t, other people will be having fun without you, and the idea of that happening is just intolerable.

d) All of the above.

6. In your office pool, you choose the Jets to beat their long-standing rivals, the Sharks, by at least 9 points. The final score is Jets 73, Sharks 66. The next day:

a) You’re happy because the team you picked won their game.

b) You’re sad because the team you picked didn’t beat the point spread.

c) You’re devastated by the tragic loss of life that occurred during the huge dance number / knife fight that broke out after the game. Although you think you might be confusing this with a movie.

Answers: 1-b, 2-a, 3-a, 4-a, 5-d, 6-c.

The Pop Quiz Before Christmas

1. Where and how were the stockings hung?

a) by the chimney, with care.

b) on the clothesline, haphazardly.

c) in the library, with a rope, by Colonel Mustard.

2. Who were the children waiting for?

a) Saint Nicholas.

b) Godot.

c) Krampus

3. Why does St. Nick employ tiny reindeer instead of regular-sized reindeer?

a) Tiny reindeer have better aerodynamics.

b) Full-sized reindeer would exceed the weight limit specified in most roof warranties.

c) It was an accident. The baby reindeer that St. Nick bought from a pet store developed stunted growth and a variety of other health problems due to the horrible living conditions and poor breeding practices at the reindeer mill where they were born.

4. Visions of sugar plums…

a) danced in the children’s heads.

b) performed acrobatic feats in the children’s stomachs.

c) grew into unhealthy obsessions and, in many cases, eating disorders that lasted well into adulthood. Some of the children refused to eat sugar plums ever again; others would eat nothing but sugar plums.

Happy whatever-you-celebrate. And please, if you decide to bring reindeer into your household, don’t buy them from a pet store — adopt from a local shelter instead.

Pop Quiz


If a million monkeys type on a million typewriters for an infinite amount of time, one of them will eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare.

1. How does the number of monkeys affect the time it takes to produce results? What about the number of typewriters? If there are a million monkeys but only half a million typewriters, will the monkeys using the typewriters type faster, or will they type more slowly in a stubborn display of territoriality? What if there are two million typewriters?

2. Discuss the ethical implications of exploiting monkeys in this manner. Most people would agree that chaining monkeys to typewriters would be unacceptably cruel. Would a setup in which the monkeys are kept in an idyllic monkey preserve, identical to their natural habitat in every way (except for the presence of large numbers of typewriters that they are free to type on or not as they choose) be acceptable? Where do you draw the line?

3. How much typing paper will the monkeys go through each day? Where will this paper come from? Will vast areas of the monkey habitat need to be clear-cut in order to keep up with the demand for paper? Does this affect your answer to question 2?

4. A monkey produces a copy of Hamlet at time T0. A movie about that monkey’s life is released at time T1. A movie depicting a revisionist version of events, in which Hamlet was actually typed by a different monkey (which — spoiler alert! turns out to be a human in a monkey costume), comes out at time T2. Solve for T1 and T2. Extra credit: who plays the monkey in each movie? Who plays the guy in the monkey suit?

5. Is Rise of the Planet of the Apes available on Netflix? Why or why not?


Photo courtesy of Jens Vöckler

1. Quantum theory tells us that you can’t know the exact position and momentum of an object at the same time. The momentum of an object at rest is 0. What is the momentum of a parked car? Would you entrust your car to a “quantum” valet parking service?

2. Does God play dice with the universe? If so, who usually wins?


Alice and Bob own identical bicycles and park them near each other. One night, Charlie secretly switches the front tires on the two bikes. Each night after that, he switches another pair of parts, until the bike parked in Alice’s spot is made entirely of parts that were originally in Bob’s bike, and the bike parked in Bob’s spot is made entirely of parts that were originally in Alice’s bike.

1. Is this really the best practical joke that Charlie can come up with?

2. Giddy with success, Charlie fails to secure the bicycles properly on the last night. An hour after he leaves, one of the bikes falls over. Does it make a sound?

3. Charlie describes his antics to Alice and Bob, who decide to build a storage shed for their bikes in order to prevent people from tampering with them in the future. What color should they paint the bike shed?

4. Alice begins to notice that Bob has been acquiring more and more items — a desk lamp, a chair, several books — identical to things that she owns. Last week, she was surprised to see Bob in line behind her at the supermarket with a cart filled with the exact same groceries she was buying. Should she be concerned?