Easy Isn’t Better

 
 
I like mental puzzles.  I take great pride in my ability to do things like Sudoku, or logic puzzles, or codewords, or crosswords.  I do them at home, on lunch breaks, and even in the bus on the way to and from work.  This takes a bit more skill because sometimes the bumps on the road come exactly when I am writing down a crucial word or number.  This doesn’t really bother me though.  It isn’t the greatest frustration that I have.  The greatest frustration comes when crossword puzzles are too easy, too predictable, or seemingly rather lazy.

A couple of years ago at my work, several people used to do the crossword puzzle as a group.  They enjoyed doing it…but after a while they had to mix things up.  I came upon them one day and witnessed a strange scene.  The person holding the puzzle said the answers and they had to guess the clues.  They were quite proficient at it.  I guess the puzzles had gotten rather predictable.

As of late, the puzzles that I am doing (featured in the “free” newspaper) have been full of lazy clues.  So many of them are suffixes and prefixes, or words that wouldn’t normally need an s–but do in this case only.  One TV show (How I Met Your Mother) has the main character saying they always use the same clue because they need the vowels–I didn’t realize how true that was.

For the next week, I won’t be doing the crossword puzzle, because it has become too predictable.  I could blame it on myself.  I am the one who chose to do the “free” puzzles.  If I were smarter, I would go to the bookstore and get a book of tough crosswords.  Then, at least, I wouldn’t complain about easy and lazy crosswords. 
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Commuting Distractions–Logic Puzzles

Having too much time on my hands in the bus is both a good and bad thing.  My bus is frequent enough that I don’t spend a lot of time waiting for it, but I certainly spend a lot of time on it.  I read, do the crossword, maybe a sudoku, a codeword when I have them, play video games and lately, I have been doing logic puzzles.

I thought I was the only one who did them because I had never seen anyone do them.  Sudoku seems to be the favourite, followed by people reading, and then followed by whatever iPhone game is popular at the moment.  I have never seen anyone doing a logic puzzle.  And no one has ever asked me what I was doing, or stared at me to figure out what I was doing……. until Friday.

On Friday I met someone who was interested and who wanted to know where I got the book.  This is no big deal, but it means that I am, in my mind, no longer the only one doing these things.  I am part of some group.  Since the book was published and sold in a big bookstore chain, I should probably have realized this before now….but this seems more personal, more real.

Logic puzzles are not the best thing for the bus.  There is less to write than a crossword puzzle (I use circles and “ x”s), but more to pay attention to.  I had been managing it pretty well, but I realized that for the difficult puzzles, it is difficult to concentrate.  Add to this fact that I am often sleepy during the morning commute and on the verge of dozing off on the evening commute and you can see the problem.

I will persevere though.  Logic puzzles are fun, and challenging.

I became a fan of logic problems when I was in high school.  We spent a week in mathematics class doing them.  I did acceptably well on the test, but now I would be able to ace it. (okay, that’s ego talking–let’s just say I hope I would do better now.)

Over the years I have bought some puzzle magazines because they contained a few logic puzzles.  The only problem was that I didn’t do the rest of the magazine and it sat around for years until I finally threw it out–no I am not a hoarder, but I am not a constant purger either.  My current book is 160 pages of logic puzzles.  I got it in the discount section of the bookstore (I guess they aren’t popular) and have done about 25 of them.