And I never change or rearrange you

I don't really mean to report every time The Price Is Right plays ``Pay The Rent'', but it seems to be tending in that direction. I don't know how the average viewer feels about it; the only comment I've seen on the Price episode-viewing site was a complaint on the debut that it was unwinnable. Except as hyperbole, that's not true, of course, and figuring out how to win it is just what set off this minor obsession of mine. Anyway, they played again for the Veterans Day show.

This time around the prizes were juice (\$3.39), antiseptic (\$6.79), pancake mix (\$2.99), chips (\$3.99), an eye pencil (\$4.99) in case you need to draw eyes on things, and a jar of baby food (\$0.79). The contestant set on the first level the chips giving that level a price of \$3.99; on the second level, the eye pencil and baby food for a total of \$5.78; on the third leve, the juiec and the pancake mix for a total of \$6.38; and on the fourth naturally the antiseptic for a total of \$6.79.

That's correct: the contestant placed the items perfectly. And if my fiddling around with permutations hasn't failed me, put it in the only possible winning combination. The contestant bailed out at the third level, taking a sure \$10,000 prize rather than daring for the \$100,000, and I can't say that was a bad decision, but I am curious what the show will do if someone ever does win the \$100,000, other than go through a long stretch of non-car Showcases.

The grocery item price range is opened up a little, with the baby food not quite ramen-noodle cheap. The distribution is interesting --- an item of about a dollar, two of about three dollars, a four, a five, and a seven-dollar item --- and I wonder how the distribution corresponds to how many solutions are possible. I suspect also this is just an impossible problem to answer in the general case, but I'm still fascinated.

Trivia: The number of United States military personnel lost to the Influenza of 1918 exceeded the number killed in combat during the Vietnam War. Source: The Great Influenza: The Story of The Deadliest Pandemic In History, John M Barry.

Currently Reading: On Mars: Exploration of the Red Planet 1958 - 1978, Edard Clinton Ezell, Linda Neuman Ezell. NASA SP-4212.

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