Minimum Essentials Test

These questions are deliberately “trick” questions in that they require one to pay attention to exact wording and use some logic.

NOTE: Bonus question added 1/13/2008.

I have obscured the answers using ROT13, an “encryption” mechanism that is completely insecure and is best for obscuring punch lines of jokes and answers to questions. It’s a simple cypher where the letters of the alphabet are assigned values from 0 – 25. Since there are 26 letters, adding 13 to the value for each letter and using modulus 26 will provide both “encryption” and “decryption”. If you need the answer to any of these questions, just paste the funny looking text under the question onto the ROT13 page below, click Cypher, and appreciate that someone has a URL even shorter than would be generated by tinyurl. All answers will be spelled out, even when numeric due to the cypher algorithm used.

Note: If you look up the answer, expect a snarky one.

1. A ship standing in one of the locks of the Panama Canal extends 42 feet above the water line. The water rises in th elocks at a rate of 6 feet per minute. After 3 minutes, how far above the water line does the ship extend?

A) Sbegl-gjb srrg, nffhzvat vg vf abg fvaxvat.

2. How many three cent stamps are there in a dozen?

A) Gjryir.

3. Do they have a fourth of July in England.

A) Bs pbhefr gurl qb, gubhtu gurl yvxryl qb abg pryroengr vg.

4. Why can’t a man living in Mobile, Alabama be buried west of the Mississippi River?

A) Orpnhfr ur’f nyvir. Grpuavpnyyl, bs pbhefr, ur pna or, ohg znl abg or. Vg’f ernyyl n crezvffvbaf dhrfgvba.

5. How many birthdays does the average man have?

A) Whfg gur bar, bs pbhefr.

6. If you had only one match, entered a room with a kerosene lamp, an oil burner, and a wood stove, what would you light first?

A) V gbbx zl gvzr ba guvf grfg. Guvf jnf gur bayl bar V tbg jebat. Gur nafjre, qhu, vf gur zngpu.

7. If a doctor gives you three pills and tells you to take one every half hour, how long would they last?

A) Na ubhe, bar abj, bar va unys na ubhe, bar va bar ubhe. Qbar. Bs pbhefr, ubj ybat orsber gurl qvtrfg vf bhg bs fpbcr bs guvf dhrfgvba.

8. Some months have 31 days, some 30. How many have 28?

A) Nyy bs gurz.

9. You’re driving a bus. At the first stop, three people get on. At the second stop, nine people get on and two get off. At the third stop, four people get on and six get off. How old is the bus driver?

A) V pna’g nafjre gung. Creuncf lbh pna. Ubj byq ner lbh? (Lbh’er qevivat n ohf…)

10. I have two United States coins totaling thirty cents. One is not a nickel. What two coins do I have?

A) N dhnegre naq n avpxry. Gur dhnegre vf vaqrrq abg n avpxry. Bar vf abg. Gur bgure vf. Trg vg abj? (Gbyq lbh gurer’q or fanex urer.)

11. A farmer had nineteen sheep. All but nine died. How many does he have left?

A) BX, ba guvf bar, V’yy gnxr rvgure avar be avargrra. Ur znl fgvyy unir gur gra qrnq barf unatvat va n zrng ybpxre fbzrjurer.

12. Divide thirty by one half. Add ten. What is the total?

A) Friragl. Vs lbh tbg gjragl svir, lbh qvivqrq guvegl ol gjb, abg ol bar unys.

13. An airplane flying from Canada to the U.S. crashes on the border. Where do they bury the survivors?

A) Gurl qba’g ohel gur fheivibef.

14. Two people playing checkers played five games. Each won the same number of games with no ties. Explain.

A) Gurl jrer abg cynlvat rnpu bgure.

15. Take two apples from six apples. How many apples do you have?

A) Lbh gbbx gjb. V qba’g pner ubj znal gurer jrer. Lbh unir gjb.

16. An archaeologist claims to have found a gold coin dated forty-six BC. What is the coin worth?

A) Vg’f jrvtug va tbyq, vs naq bayl vs vg’f erny tbyq. Ab bar jbhyq unir qngrq gur pbva sbegl-fvk OP. Ubj jbhyq gurl unir xabja?

17. A woman gives a begger fifty cents. The woman is the beggar’s sister. The begger is not the woman’s brother. How come?

A) Gur orttne vf n jbzna.

18. How many animals of each species did Moses allegedly bring aboard the ark?

A) Gung yrtraq vf nobhg Abnu, abg Zbfrf. Unq gur dhrfgvba orra nobhg Abnu, gur yrtraq fcrpvsvrf n cnve bs rnpu aba-xbfure navzny naq frira cnvef bs rnpu bs gur xbfure navznyf.

19. Is it legal for a man to marry his widow’s sister in North Carolina?

A) Qrnq zra qba’g trg zneevrq. Jryy, bar qbrf, ohg bayl vs lbh oryvrir gur zna rire rira rkvfgrq, juvpu frrzf qbhogshy.

20. You’re in a round room with an all southern exposure. A bear walks by. What color is the bear?

A) Lbh’er va n ebhaq ebbz jvgu na nyy fbhgurea rkcbfher. Gurersber, lbh ner ng gur Abegu Cbyr. Gurersber, gur orne vf juvgr, be ernyyl fbeg bs n pernz pbybe.

Bonus: Why are man hole covers round? (Person hole covers?)

Snarky Answer: Orpnhfr gur ubyrf ner ebhaq.

Serious Answer: Orpnhfr ebhaq vf gur bayl funcr gung jvyy abg nyybj gur pbire gb snyy guebhtu gur ubyr naq xvyy n jbexre orybj.

How did you do? Have any similar questions to share?

9 Responses to Minimum Essentials Test

  1. hhopper says:

    I got snarked by the two coins and the 28 day months, Really fun quiz!

  2. KD Martin says:

    Got ’em all, with one possible exception: See here on Cage Match:,3309.msg12047/topicseen.html#msg12047

  3. Mr. Fusion says:

    I’ve seen them all before so I had no trouble. I added my version of #13 which, with all respect, I think is better.

    #13, A leased Air France plane is being flown by a British air crew. It is carrying the Polish National Soccer team to a match in Mexico. It crashes on the Canadian and American border. Everyone is killed. Where do they bury the survivors?


    A rooster is sitting on top of a barn roof peak at daybreak. He lays an egg. The barn is directly on a North / South plane. Which way will the egg roll, East or West?

    Roosters don’t lay eggs.


    How much dirt is there in a hole 6′ long by 6′ wide by 6′ deep.

    None. If there was dirt in it, it wouldn’t be a hole.


    In the middle of a field there is a young baby bull. In one corner of the field is a papa bull and in the opposite corner is a momma bull. Who will the baby bull run to?

    The papa bull. No such thing as a momma bull.


    How many States are there in the United States of America?

    Go ahead and ask your friends this one. Although you might expect most people to say 50, around here the average is less than half say 50. The only people getting the answer correct just guessed.

    Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Kentucky are all Commonwealths and properly refer to themselves as such. So, the correct answer is 46 States and four Commonwealths comprise the United States.


    (makes more sense when spoken)
    Last Christmas party we were all feeling pretty Mary. Mary went home and we jumped for Joy.


    In a room there are two fathers and two sons. How many are in the room?

    Three. There is a man, his son, and his son’s son.

  4. Misanthropic Scott says:

    Mr. Fusion,

    Having worked on a trading system for municipal bonds, I assure you that there are 54 states. On any “state search” page where one may search for munis by place of issue, you will always find DC, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. Don’t bother to try to tell anyone in munis trading that these are not states.

    As for your final question, the answer is really at least three. That may be the configuration, or there may be two unrelated fathers with their two sons, or there may be any number of women in the room, making the answer much higher. Perhaps your tri-generational men have just entered a brothel and are amidst a crowd.

    There was also one about a train.

    An electric train is going 40 miles per hour east. The wind is blowing 20 miles an hour west. Which way does the smoke blow?

  5. Misanthropic Scott says:

    Bonus question added. See above.

  6. Mr. Fusion says:


    That would depend. Is the train old enough to smoke?
    (old joke from when I was a kid)


    Just after Christmas my 7 y/o niece came up and asked me if I wanted to take the “Stupid Test”. I fell for it. The first question was “How old are you”. Then “what is your full name”. Then another four or five equally lame questions. Then she asks me “what was the first question I asked you”.

    Of course the correct answer is “Do you want to take the Stupid Test”.

    Damn kids.


    What color is Polar Bear hair?

    Answer: There isn’t any color. Their hair is clear. It is also hollow. It appears white as it reflects the light in all wavelengths. If they appear slightly yellow, that’s just dirt.

    What color is Snow?

    Answer: There is no color. It is also clear ice crystals that reflects the light in all wavelengths.

    What color are pure diamonds when immersed in water?

    Answer: They have no color as they are clear crystals. They become invisible in water.

  7. Misanthropic Scott says:

    Mr. Fusion,

    I’m very impressed that you know that about polar bear fur. Yes, it works like fiber optics, channeling the light to the skin, which is black to absorb the heat. Looking at polar bear faces and paws, you can see the black skin. Very cool creatures. Did you also know that they are considered marine mammals? Their Latin name reflects this, Ursa Maritimus. (not positive about spelling)

    Interesting point about diamonds. I have also heard that they are easy to convert into graphite with not nearly as much heat as one might expect. I think a regular oven can probably do it, though I don’t remember the actual temperature necessary. Too bad it’s much harder to go the other way.

    I guess that doesn’t matter much since they only have their high value because De Beers is sitting on 95% of the world supply. They dump them on the market and a 1kt diamond drops to about $100, last I heard. They’re a really scummy company too. I won’t be buying any more diamonds.

  8. Petrusky says:

    All greetings. I’m sorry that off-topic post, but would like to know what seo-plugins you use in your blog for effective optimization? I would be happy to answer.

  9. Hi Petrusky,

    I don’t understand your question. Everything I use on this site is just standard features of the hosting site and the wordpress software they use to run the blog.

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