Want a real Halloween nightmare? Imagine filling your child's  too-small bucket in the first three houses and going home with only a  small slice of your kid's potential rake. But if you allow your little monster (or in my case, blue whale with pink and purple barnacles), to carry a big bag, you should be prepared to spend the hours and hours (and hours) needed to fill it.

Bad news: there are nightmares on both  ends of the bag guesstimation spectrum.

So instead of playing the equivalent of Russian roulette with your child's Halloween bag size, use the equation below to calculate—with the power of absolute mathematical certainty (wink, wink)—the bag size that's best for you and yours.

•  T= Total time in hours you plan to spend trick-or-treating

•  A= Trick-or-treater's age. If over 20 (or below zero...), shame on you. You're stealing my kid's goodies.

•  Hc= Hours spent on costume. If store-bought translate into hours at \$20/hr.

Pd= Population density in trick-or-treat neighborhood. Enter 1 for "rural", 2 for "open suburban", 3 for "tight suburban", or 4 for "Apt or dorm"

•  Ma= Estimated median age in neighborhood. For comparison, median age in the Gaza Strip is about 15 and in Japan about 41.

•  X= Your child's ineffable, illogical, but very real lust for candy. Enter 1-10 with 10 being "has strategized since last Halloween"

Interpretation Key:

If Bckt is less than 1, your pockets are more than enough

If 1<Bckt<7, use small-size, plastic jack-'o-lantern bucket

If 7<Bckt<15, use the standard trick-or-treating bucket

If 15<Bckt<25, use a grocery bag

If 25<Bckt, use a trash bag

If you'd like the live version, I'm Skyping into Good Day Sacramento on Saturday morning at 6:40am PST to explain this revolutionary scientific breakthrough in person. (I'm sure they'll post vid online.)

--Notice the outstanding Halloween colors of Brain Candy: Science, Puzzles, Paradoxes, Logic and Illogic to Nourish Your Neurons