Saturday, March 24, 2007

It's Christmas Morning!

This is a grand day! We have received presents! Piled on our doorstep! This occurrence is unprecedented! Our mail lady must have been bemused by the appearance of two cartons with our names on them.

(We also removed the propane bill from our doorknob, but we're not counting that as a gift.)

We'll give thanks alphabetically, because the gifts are of equal value to us, and our thought processes have yet to flow as smoothly as might be wished.

First, many thanks to you, Debra, for the absolutely astounding quantity, quality and variety of tea bags that caused our sleepy eyes to spring wide in shock and awe. Many of the flavors we have never before tried, and you included among the enormous selection some old favorites that you know we enjoy. We plan on having a good old-fashioned Penfield Tea Party! We haven't the words to express how we feel about this, so we will just give thanks for having met you.

And Kathy, many thanks to you for the piles of newsprint that you sent (Bonnie is at this moment happily ensconced at her command center, poring through the pages in search of intriguing tidbits. I myself am wondering if this is your fiendishly clever way of reducing your recycling load   {;~)>   ) You must have chortled to yourself as you enclosed the small bottles, knowing that we would ask "What are these?" After struggling with the ziplock, stripping away the plastic seal (who would want to contaminate that solution, for heaven's sake?), and prying off the cap, we discovered the tiny wand and exclaimed "bubble solution!" I am so far from my childhood beginnings that I began to wave the wand about in the air, to no effect. Bonnie finally said "Blow through it." With a mental slap upside the temple, I said "Oh. Right." and did so. And lo, there were bubbles! 

We both want to say "Thank you, dear friends, for being who you are. We can ask for none better."

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Our Weekly Wednesday Answer Page

I am not in the habit of complaining overmuch about my health. Much of what I suffer from is a fact of life and has been relegated to background noise, not worth mentioning, and no one enjoys a constant diet of bitching and moaning. This latest nastiness, however, is worthy of note, if only to memorialize it as an actual journal  entry. I need not describe it, as most everyone in J-land who has suffered from it already knows the details. Bonnie, bless her soul, has been largely immunized to it through constant exposure, and we can only hope that it stays that way.

In our area, we have three entities responsible for  providing content and communications (I am here ignoring radio because for me it is a medium of last resort, as when the power goes out.)

For communications we have Citizens Communications, formerly the ill-fated Global Crossing (ill-fated for us, anyway, as GLBC bought Frontier Corp. not long before the corporate honchos danced away with what Wikipedia describes as "astounding gains", leaving employees, including Bonnie, with very shaky pensions) and Time Warner Cable.

For content we have Dish Network and Time Warner Cable.

You will discern the common denominator.

Despite the fact that Time Warner has a virtual stranglehold on our local area, they feel it necessary to mail out glossy, four-color, picture-laden more-than-weekly brochures touting their various bundled products (digital tv! digital phone! broadband!) Every year our cable rates are raised, presumably because 'programming costs more.' Along with that, they continually play with the schedule, moving most of the decent programming to digital and bestowing upon us backward (read cheap) troglodytes the picked-over leavings that nobody wants to watch. They have done one nice thing for us, removing TBS and Animal Planet from ala carte status.

However, being the greedy corporation that they are ...

Although the two channels will be ala carte for four days only, the latest bill reflects the idea that we should pay for the full month. What they presumably planned to do is to give us a credit on next month's bill for the overage, having earned a shitpile of interest in the meantime.

Bonnie discovered this because she became curious about the new lineup and wondered how long it would be before we had access to the ala carte channels. She was surprised to learn that our actual bill was $1.13 less than the printed bill that came in the mail. Due to this felicitous discovery we will have that $1.13 in our account, rather than in Time Warner's account. Multiply that small sum by thousands of customers, and you will see how clever Time Warner is being.

I hope that was coherent; my thinking is not currently of the clearest.

Here is the answer for the March fourth Cryptocrostic -

 

These puzzles are meant to inform as well as entertain; you will sometimes discover words that are somewhat uncommon. We try to stay away from too much of that, but we can't resist tossing in some lesser-known words from time to time.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

 

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Our Weekly Sunday Puzzle Page

We were warming. We were greening. And then - we were cold and white again. Today the sun is of that brilliant purity that leaves you in no doubt that your retinas will ignite if you gaze too long upon it. There are sounds of melting and ice breaking away.

Winter is a fickle soul.

We thought we might offer a cynical political observation.

We thought we might revisit the unexceptional bookbindery.

We think we'll just publish the puzzle.

This is the second in the CityState series of sudokus.

(Note to Kathy - your word scramble skills should stand you in good stead for this puzzle.)     ;.)   {;~)>

Bonnie has given this puzzle a rating of ** (of course, over time she's become an expert solver, so she may unintentionally be understating things.)

Happy Sunday, happy solving and

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt  

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Our Weekly Wednesday Answer Page

Whew! Missed it by one day! Friday the thirteenth might bother some people; it's Wednesday the fifteenth that always gets to us. (Not really - we just wanted to offer another angle on superstition. Maybe we can start something. Beware Wednesday the fifteenth!)

Here's the answer to the Feb. 28th word cube - we await breathlessly the appearance of the graphics -

Not quite as clean as we would like, but readable. We can't ask for anything more.

We've been remiss in welcoming one of our good friends, Marti, online again. For a long time, she did not have access to a computer, but that has been remedied and she is writing again. Please stop by her place and say hello.

If we haven't commented in your journal recently, it's because our alerts have gone missing. Once again, aol is exercising its capability to be annoying.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Our Weekly Sunday Puzzle Page

Random Sunday Blather

Our life together could be said to be astonishingly soporific (perhaps more so for our visitors than for us), but we like it that way. We have reached an age where most surprises tend to be of the unpleasant variety (annoyances minor and major); we still do enjoy agreeable surprises, but they represent a distinct minority of the overall class of amazements, and so are the more welcome for their rare occurrence.

I have lately been wondering why I do not suffer from what is called "cabin fever"; I spend almost every hour inside our mobile home, essentially living in what might be described as a warren (this may be why I identify so closely with mice). It does have the appearance of a tunnel with various recesses, except for the windows through which I peer as I pass them. My only reasonable conclusion is that cabin fever is a condition that I cannot afford to suffer if I wish to lead a happy life.

War, it seems sad to say, is for some reason part of our primitive makeup - when we live in peace, we sublimate our need for war by means of the outlets of sports and the reenactments of past battles. Despite the fact that natural disasters are a perfectly good means of limiting population overage, it appears that we humans are not satisfied with that but must indulge our primal urge to slaughter. It is to be devoutly hoped that our species may someday become civilized enough to move beyond that, and develop the means by which we can play well with others.

Bonnie has shared a few jokes with me, engendered by her choice of tv viewing for this afternoon (Barbarians on the History Channel):

"What battle cries did the Saxons shout as they attacked the Picts?"

"Take your Pict!"

"Go for the Pict of the crop!"

And the Pict battle cry?

"Blood your axe on the Saxon!"

Okay. We'll stop now. Please don't throw anything, you'll only damage your screen.

I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe--"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.

From "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience" by Henry David Thoreau

Substitute "Iraqi" for "Mexican" and this becomes a very timely quotation.

A couple more items of note before we publish the puzzle -

Kathy has written a very moving and eloquent entry on what it means to be a small-town American, to revere flag and country, and to experience the emotions that arise when someone we may have known is taken suddenly from us in war. Thank you, Kathy, and be assured that we will NEVER FORGET.

When Carl Sagan was alive, we were attentive readers and viewers of any appearance of his, particularly the PBS series Cosmos. He was known as a popularizer of science, but beyond that, he was a serious and dedicated proponent of rationalism. There is a contemporary scientist who, although speaking in his own unique fashion, wears the mantle of popularizer and rationalist quite well. His name is Neil deGrasse Tyson, and it is well worth anyone's time to expose themselves to his enthusiasm for the scientific. Here is a short article that we found highly enjoyable and would like to share.

This word search was designed for a particular person whom some of you may recognize, hence some of the peculiar search terms.

For everyone, we wish happiness and

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Our Weekly Wednesday Answer Page

We've been hibernating over the past few cold days (animals do it and we can too), so it came as a bit of a surprise that it's Wednesday already. We bought a couple of little toys online that are crucial to puzzle creation and they arrived today, so we're busy playing with them.

Yes. That is boring. That's why we kept it short.   ;)

Here is the answer for the first CityState sudoku. Only 49 more to go!

The graphics! They're clean and clear! Oh, what hath aol wrought?

Friendship is returned in the measure in which it is received.

If you live life as though you enjoy it, you will.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

 

 

Monday, March 5, 2007

Editorial

We have been watching the Congressional hearings devoted to the state of facilities and medical care of our young men and women who have sacrificed their health, and more, to fight for freedom. It is amazing to us that it took a pair of journalists to rip off the scab and discover the suppurating sore underneath. For decades, veterans have been complaining about the treatment, or lack of such, that they receive, to no apparent effect.

To put it briefly, here is the problem. If you have ever dealt with a bureaucracy in any capacity, or if you have ever worked in an organization that relies on a rigid chain of command, or (Creator forbid) you have had experience of both, you understand the gist of what representatives' questions have elicited from the testifiers. There appears to be a predisposition to avoid accountability and to pass the buck on any situation that presents more than a normal level of difficulty. This is not specific to the military; one encounters this type of behavior frequently.

There is plenty of blame to go around, from the lowest-level officers who deal directly with the outpatients to the highest levels of the Department of Defense, and ultimately to the commander-in-chief himself. The men and women who are supposed to represent us in Congress are not exempt; they have been taking the word of military officers that all is either okay or in the process of being fixed instead of initiating personal inspections and compelling the military to allow them to visit places that most ought be inspected.

We the voters should be able to expect that the people who have been injured in service to our country be offered a higher degree of caring than they are at present receiving. That they are not is a shame and a black mark upon the soul of our nation.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Our Weekly Sunday Puzzle Page

We do not often stop to think how important our senses are to us; how, although we have necessarily defined our world by means of them since we were first propelled from the birth canal, much of our sensory functions are semi-automatic and largely taken by us for granted. It is not until we are compelled to recognize that our senses may fail us that we devote some time to an analysis of how we are intimately impacted by their deterioration or loss.

It is never easy to realize that what was once a fact, such as the apprehension of high-pitched sounds (the sound of birdsong or the voices of mice), is presently but a sometime or never occurrence. It does lead one to appreciate more the sounds that one can still hear, especially sounds that carry a freight of emotional significance, such as we heard the other night, as we were drifting toward sleep. It had begun to rain earlier in the evening, and as time passed, became a soft and steady percussion of raindrops upon roof. That in itself would have been cause for reflection and the urging of primitive memories to the surface of the consciousness, but in this particular instance it was augmented and heightened by the haunting and lonely sound of a train whistle reverberating through the deeps of the night. It was a moment such as occurs infrequently, laden with phantoms of our primal beginnings and causing us to burrow more deeply beneath the covers and to offer thanks for all that which we have been given.

One of our visitors recalled to me, via her latest entry, what life was like a year ago, when things were different. Those who were reading then may remember that I was compelled to make forays to the grocery when Bonnie became incapacitated. It was my habit to do the shopping very late at night, after 11:00 pm, because the great crush of day people would have made it impracticable for me, depending as I did on my cane, to maneuver through the aisles with any degree of competence, and more likely than not, things would not have gone well. The comparative emptiness of a megamart at midnight was a more felicitous circumstance.

There was one occurrence with which I had not reckoned, however - that same emptiness that made my passage through the store easier, leaning heavily upon the handle of the cart in lieu of my cane (which rested in the cart alongside the groceries), made the appearance of a particular employee inevitable - the wielder of the floor polisher. This stolid gentleman would appear from the depths of the rear of the store, maneuvering a truly sizable and  daunting device that appeared to occupy most of the floor space. When he was plying his machine in one of the wide horizontal aisles, it was nothing to worry about; we would pass as two ships, one in no way affecting the other. In the narrow vertical aisles, however, circumstances became much more chancy, as the polisher occupied more than half of the alloted space. More than once I was forced to scootch the cart right up against the shelves, attempting to retain my erect position as my legs clamored for nothing more than to collapse in abject surrender. It became such a common occurrence, almost as if the gentleman was intent upon causing me grief, that I began to listen avidly for the gentle but ominous whirring and whooshing of the enormous circular brushes and to go out of my way to avoid the contraption by moving to an aisle that had already been rendered spotlessly clean. I can look back now and chuckle at the ridiculous nature of those occasions, but at that time it was a source of certain distress.

Here is the second in our series of cryptocrostics - we hope that you enjoy it.

  Happy Sunday, happy solving, and

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Our Weekly Wednesday Answer Page

Every once in awhile, we run across an aphorism that is so elegant or to the point that we wish we had written it ourselves. We ran across one such this morning, a pearl of wisdom spawned from the mouth of Art Cashin on CNBC:

"Often, it's the second mouse that gets the cheese."

Words to live by.

Here is the answer to the Feb. 11 word search -

This answer grid isn't quite as clear as we'd like, but if you saved the original, you should be able to make sense of it.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Sunday, February 25, 2007

THIS is a Rant

Long-time readers may remember that we have occasionally made mention of the modest store in East Rochester known as the Village Fair ("Our Meats are Freshly Cut").

Bonnie stopped there yesterday to pick up some Delmonico steaks (at least what passes for Delmonicos nowadays, what with high-priced restaurants claiming the prime cuts) and brought them home. I thought, when I put the package in the refrigerator, that it looked a bit odd.

Tonight, as I was preparing to cook dinner, I asked her, "How many steaks did they give you?"

"Three, as always. Why?"

"The package was one-layered, and it isn't very wide."

When I unwrapped the paper, I discovered three narrow steaks that looked nothing like Delmonicos; they did, however, bear a strong resemblance to strip steaks. I asked Bonnie if she had seen the steaks before they were wrapped, and she said only briefly. Then she related the story.

She told me that she had gone up to the counter and spoken to a younger man in his mid-30s and asked for Delmonicos. After a few moments of inspection and hesitation, he asked the older counterman, who was somewhere in his 60s, if there were any in the back. The older gentleman detailed a particular shelf in the cooler and the younger man disappeared, returning in a matter of moments with a plastic-wrapped hunk of meat.

"Is this them?" the younger man inquired. The older man, who was busy with another customer, indicated that it was, indeed, "them", and the younger man, after saying "These look like strip steaks", cut off three slices to the thickness that Bonnie indicated and quickly wrapped them.

We would just like to say to the young man, if he should happen to Google 'Village Fair + East Rochester NY', "You were right. They were strip steaks. You obviously have more knowledge of meat than 'Uncle Tonio' or whatever non-butcher it was that they brought in to serve the customers on Sunday. Keep up the good work, and don't let the old fart try to fool you again."

If you should be in East Rochester on a Sunday, wait until Monday when the regular butchers return to work. You won't be sorry.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Our Weekly Sunday Puzzle Page

First, we would like to extend a thank-you to those of you who contacted your representatives about conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital. There is nothing like a good dose of public outrage to awaken politicians to their responsibilites to the people who elected them to office. It feels very good to be able to report that the military administrators are taking this seriously. There are still numerous dark corners in this country that are capable of being illuminated and cleansed by the sunshine of journalistic scrutiny, and we can only hope that the light will shine in.

We are (we hope humbly) proud to announce that we have created a new type of puzzle, one that combines our love of puzzles and our propensity to play with the Paint program. While it is a variation on other types of puzzles, still we believe it to be unique, and we have created a mechanism to allow for three levels of challenge to accommodate those who may not have scads of time to devote to solving. We would warmly appreciate any feedback that you might care to give us.

We are, at present, calling this a word cube. As you can see, it has some letters already filled in, and all that is required of you, the solver, is to fill in the empty spaces using letters from the list(s).

We have designed letter lists to offer three levels of challenge - the first list, offering the toughest challenge, is simply a comprehensive list of all the letters to be filled in.

The second list offers a bit of help by breaking the list into two parts, one for the horizontal letters and the other for the vertical letters. Admittedly, this particular method may be the most confusing, but for those who can solve in more than one dimension, it may be helpful.

The third list is broken into three parts; each numbered list represents the letters assigned to one of the visible faces of the cube (i.e., #1 might represent the front face, and all the letters in that part will be used to fill in that face.)

As an additional aid, for those who might want it, here is a breakdown of the characteristics of the words -

1 word has 3 of one letter repeated, 2 of another repeated, e.g. cocoons (none of the examples listed appear in the actual puzzle.)

1 word has 3 of one letter repeated, e.g. groggy (after the fact, we discovered that there is an alternate word that has exactly the same letters, but slightly rearranged; either word is acceptable. Someday we'll be professionals, but we're not there yet.)

5 words have 2 of one letter repeated, and 2 of another repeated, e.g., tactics.

The remaining 11 words all have one letter that is repeated, e.g. furry.

We hope that, if you decide to solve the word cube, you derive some enjoyment from it; that is, at end, the reason we're here.

Happy Sunday, happy solving, and

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Shameful and Our Weekly Wednesday Answer Page

Many of you may have already heard something about the recent Washington Post series of articles, written by Dana Priest and Anne Hull, detailing the living conditions at some of the facilities at Walter Reed Hospital. Many of the young women and men who have honorably served in Iraq and Afghanistan and been severely wounded and/or traumatized are treated and, after their treatment, warehoused there.

If you would like to read the complete series, here are the links.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/17/AR2007021701172.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/17/AR2007021701314.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/18/AR2007021801335.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/19/AR2007021901113.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/19/AR2007021900759.html

We have ourselves, for reasons that some of you know, experienced a variety of conditions in regard to medical facilities, but even in some of the oldest buildings, we have never encountered conditions like this.

This is no way to treat young men and women who have accepted the challenge to fight for our country, and sacrificed something of themselves in the process. Please write an email to your congressional representatives, informing them that their inaction in regard to our injured servicepeople is simply unconscionable.

Thank you.

Here is the answer for the first cryptocrostic.

A short note - I began to tidy up this answer grid, aligning the letters so that it would look neat. If the original puzzle ever gets published in something other than this journal, I suppose I will have to do that. Until then, pfft. You can read it, right?

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Monday, February 19, 2007

Take Your Pick Part 2

First, I wish to correct a possible misimpression that I may have unintentionally left in the previous entry. When I mentioned that Bonnie’s command center is the couch, I was stating the truth, but a little amplification may be in order.

When we used to work at the unexceptional bookbindery, we operated literally as a team. Having attained a measure of seniority and autonomy, we were free to arrange our workspace to our own satisfaction and to assign roles to ourselves that most efficiently accomplished tasks that needed doing. We have continued this practice in retirement, and the way matters have naturally ordered themselves is that I, who had performed the majority of computer tasks at work, am the one who fulfills the same function at home. Bonnie, on the other hand, takes care of any matter requiring paperwork, and she has surrounded herself with all the paraphernalia of an office, including clerical appurtenances and the telephone (there is good reason for this - when speaking on the phone, Bonnie’s voice bears a strong resemblance to that of Marilyn Monroe, while mine more closely resembles Andy Devine - ergo, Bonnie is the one who deals with any callers or people who require calls); consequently, it truly is her workstation, with the added advantage of a television, something the bindery would not have allowed.

(Because we are together 24 hours a day, we, as do most couples, prefer that we not spend every minute cheek by jowl, hence I have set up my workstation at the kitchen table, where we are in voice contact but are not constantly tripping over each other.)

The evening vignette (shuttling between the bedroom and the living room):

"Honey, do you still have your answer from the Sunday paper sudoku?"

"Ummm .... yes. Are you working on it?"

"Trying ... the box in the upper left-hand block - is that a 9?"

"Yes."

"Thank you."

Minutes later ...

"Honey, the number under the 9 - is that a 6?"

"Yes!"

More minutes later (once more coming up the hall) ...

"Heeeelllllp meeeeee ... heeeeeelllllp meeeeeee ..."

"Uh-oh."

"In the center left-hand block going down, is it 5-2-3 or 2-5-3?"

(I’m getting desperate when I guess more than one number at a time ...)

"It’s 5-2-3."

"Thank you."

Still more minutes later ...

"Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"

(I must sound like a train passing through a tunnel ...)

"In the center left-hand block again, is it 6-1-4 going down?"

"No."

"Then it’s 6-4-1."

"Yes."

"Thank you."

Half an hour later, Bonnie peeks in to see if I need anything.

"How’s the puzzle going?"

"Finally finished the damn thing. That sucked."

One would think, being a nominal puzzle constructor, I could do better than that. Then again, I too could put twenty letters in a sudoku and make it seem unsolvable, unless one wants to spend days trying out the various combinations. At least when we construct a puzzle, we are fair about it.

We will sign off with a couple of exceedingly gratuitous jokes. This format is a blatant swipe from Late Night with David Letterman, and for all we know this may have been an actual joke used on the show, but if so we have forgotten. Anyway ...

How cold was it today? It was so cold our local squirrel was using a hotplate to keep his nuts warm! Thank yoooooooooouuuuuu!

And -

It was so cold today that we spotted a vagrant using a bun warmer to ...

Okay, you get the picture. We need say no more.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Take Your Pick

(Vignettes of Family Life)

(Come Sit with Us Awhile)

(At Home with the Motts)

I’m feeling a bit older this morning, unsurprising in light of the milestone that passed yesterday (thank you, one and all, for the birthday wishes; they put a lopsided grin on this old man's face), and also a mite crotchety. (No, I do not have mites in my crotch.) I have found that an antidote to this state of affairs is to do a bit of self-examination and observation. Here is a rare and intimate look into our ordinary life.

It’s early; we got a good sleep during the night, but on this day we are both awake around 6 a.m. After our waking-up routines (draining the dregs of the coffee and tea in our cups and lighting that first cigarette of the day) we begin to get active. Bonnie settles in at her command center (the couch) and I stay in bed awhile, waiting for my legs to recognize that they will be required to function for at least one more day. Finally giving in to the importunities of a dry and scratchy throat, I reluctantly rise and shuffle up the hall, peering into my coffee cup at an extremely disconsolate-looking slice of lemon (one of my idiosyncracies consists of drinking tea from a coffee cup.)

Reaching the kitchen, I navigate toward the tap, still searching for meaning in the remains of that sorry-looking lemon butt. Finding none, I upend the cup, allowing the slice to drop into the grounds bucket, its final, ignominious resting place. I am at this point running on autopilot, so I remove the small wad of paper towel blocking the drain (we have had the water on trickle these last few days due to the low temperatures, and we both detest the sound of the resultant gurgle) and begin to fill the cup with water.

(Conversation will be rendered in emerald for Bonnie, and amethyst for myself)

"I made coffee."

"Oh, thank you, hon."

The cup is now full. I pause by the refrigerator, reach up and snag a teabag from the box. (I DID see the coffee on the way to the sink. It just didn’t really register.) The bag goes into the cup, the cup goes into the microwave.

"Did you hear me, hon? I made coffee."

"Yes, thanks. I’ll have some after I finish the tea. I’m not awake yet."

Bee. Bee. Beeeeeeeeeee.

"Oh, it’s time for your pills. Did you want some cold milk to go with them, or are you going to take them with that hot tea?"

"Cold milk, please. This tea is a little TOO hot."

..........................................................................

"Wow. I can really tell the difference between the Upstate milk and Wegmans milk."

"Which do you like better?"

"Oh, the Upstate milk, of course, but it is $.60 more than Wegmans’ milk, and Wegmans’ milk is quite acceptable."

"Upstate Farms has happy cows."

(If you haven’t seen the commercials put out by the California Cheese Association, you probably won’t know to what this refers.)

"Yeah, they must. The only milk I really don’t care for is Tops’ milk, when it has that musty flavor."

"Tops has unhappy cows."

"Yeah, well, why should their cows be any different than their cashiers?"

Aren’t you glad you don’t live with us?

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Our Weekly Sunday Puzzle Page

Whenever we open this page, we feel that we ought have something profound and earth-shattering to impart -

 

 

But -

 

 

As Bonnie so cogently puts it, "It's your birthday. You don't HAVE to think!"

 

 

I like the way she thinks.

 

 

Ah, hell, at least we have puzzles.

So- this is the first of a series of sudokus that we have designated the CityState series, because each puzzle, on the diagonal (of course), features a 7-letter city and the two letters of the state. At the moment, we have 50 puzzles in the series, one city from each state. (Thank you, Mapquest, for making our job so much easier.)

We're not sure yet whether we'll continue to alternate puzzle types or run a string - we guess you'll just have to wait and see.

*Sigh* I keep forgetting the ratings. I'll never be a professional. Bonnie has given this puzzle a rating of **.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day and Our Weekly Wednesday Answer Page

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

In microcosm, a marriage is a lot like relationships between nations - amity requires discussion, negotiation, compromise, and sometimes sacrifice.

We thought we'd toss that in for Jeff, the subject of today's puzzle answer, who has recently embarked upon the ship named the Institution.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Night the Music Lived

Bonnie has always been the music aficionado in the family; up until this century, music has often formed the background of our life together, but I left it to Bonnie to keep up with the particulars of this topic, while I allocated my attention to other topics that Bonnie might not show great interest in. In this way, we have both acquired a good education in a wide range of topics, as our interests have tended to bleed one into the other, and we both are enriched thereby.

In 2003, the Dixie Chicks were reviled for daring to speak out against George Bush and his war. They suffered through many attacks upon their patriotism, spewed out by people who demonstrated some ignorance of what patriotism truly is.

Tonight, they won a Grammy for best country album and album of the year- Not Ready to Make Nice. Rock on, Chicks, and let people know that the music never forgets.

Gnarls Barkley is Crazy like us, and we love it.

 Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Our Weekly Sunday Puzzle Page

Ah, marvelous Sunday! It's very quiet here now; the only sounds are those of the furnace soughing away and the infrequent small squabbles occasioned by a particularly choice nutmeat (and the omnipresent squeal of the exercise wheel.) Bonnie has gone out to the store and the library to pick up a few things, and here I am trying to decide what puzzle to place in this space. Lisa has expressed a preference for a word search, and since we have constructed some but never posted any, this may be a good time.

A short explanation about this word search (and word searches in general) - this puzzle was created for the father of a friend, and I asked her to offer themes of interest to him, so instead of a single theme, there are six; all of the themes are included as search terms (e.g., country music.)

Word searches, we have found, are the most time-consuming and tedious puzzles to construct. I will not go into all the reasons why; the best way to discover that for yourself is to try to construct one. Nevertheless, they do represent a challenge, and we have discovered that word searches are a quite popular type of puzzle, perhaps because all the information necessary to solve the puzzle is included, and because most people do enjoy a scavenger hunt. We have constructed a few and probably will continue to do so when the mood strikes, when we have found a sufficiently entertaining or informational theme. At any rate, we hope that you enjoy this one.

I just had to edit this in - different town, different bay, different idiots - same outcome. When will they ever learn?

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Friday, February 9, 2007

This is Rochester

We first inserted a quick bit about this in Wednesday's entry, but we were unaccountably fascinated by the whole sorry saga, so we thought we'd include the followups today.

The first full-fledged article was in Wednesday's print and online edition of the Democrat and Chronicle, which you can read here.

This article is particularly notable for the quote "Vehicles do not belong in the bay." The gentleman from the DEC has a keen grasp of the obvious, and owes his job, no doubt, to political patronage.

Thursday's edition featured this article.

Today's edition has this article, which largely reprints Thursday's material but does reveal the estimated cost to Mr. Newberry, who has presumably learned a valuable lesson (vehicles do not belong in the bay.)

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Our Weekly Wednesday Answer Page

First, we'd like to thank two of our good friends for some items that they sent us - Debra for a sampler selection of teas that we had not tried, and which were uniformly quite good; and Kathy, for the Anyday Card and the small-town news publication that is always so much more interesting than ours.

Next, a gratuitous selection for our This is Rochester series - it is, we think, fairly typical of certain people who live near substantial bodies of water, but Rochester does seem to possess more than its share of them.

Lastly, here is the answer for the Jan. 20th sudoku -

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Our Weekly Sunday Puzzle Page

This is a little exciting for us, it's been a long time since we put anything but a sudoku on this page.

There is a weekly publication issued by the Democrat & Chronicle titled The Insider; it is free and aimed at a young crowd, with lots of glitzy colored pictures and replete with articles, comics and puzzles. The person who provides the puzzles is a nationally recognized constructor named Matt Jones; he offers two puzzles per issue, one a crossword and one a quasi-sudoku. If you want to know more about Mr. Jones, you can check out some of his stuff here.

We have freely borrowed a particular puzzle concept from him; we have no idea whether it originated with him, or if he borrowed it from somewhere else (we know that he borrowed at least one of his puzzle types from elsewhere; we used to solve that type in Dell Publications, lo those many years ago.)

Anyway, Bonnie took a decided liking to this particular style of puzzle, so I took it upon myself to try constructing some, to tide her through those dry periods when the provided puzzles were uninteresting to her. As long as they exist, we may as well share them, so here is the first in an occasional series that we have chosen to call Cryptocrostics.

 

 We have chosen to call them Cryptocrostics because they are solved somewhat in the manner of a cryptogram, and the grid is reminiscent of an acrostic.

The solving rules are:

All 26 letters of the alphabet are included in the puzzle, and each letter is represented by a number, always by the same number - i.e., if 17 represents A, it will represent A throughout the puzzle. As in cryptograms, the number assignation is random (if 17 = A, it does not necessarily follow that 18 = B.)

Because I am still a novice at constructing these, I have taken it upon myself to relax the rules a bit - you will run into an occasional capitalized word, such as a name or city, and I have included a hyphenated word in one puzzle so far (not this one.)

To solve, you will need to look at the puzzle as you would at a cryptogram - look for frequency of letters, letter placement, at the ending letter of longer words (e.g., few long words end in U), such things as recurring prefixes and suffixes - as a solving tip, you will see that the long horizontal words at the top and bottom share a prefix and a suffix, and the long vertical word just right of the central line has four of the same letter, two of them together. As a further tip, you will find two proper names in this puzzle. 

For sources delineating letter frequency, you can visit here, here, and here.

We certainly hope that you enjoy solving this type of puzzle; if not, feel free to let us know, and if we get enough thumbs down, we'll stop publishing them. Happy solving!

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Friday, February 2, 2007

February 2nd

Attention, government officials of small towns across America! Is your local economy in the tank? Are you worrying about how to keep that last gas station and tavern open? Are the last hundred people in town packing to leave? Fret no more!

It's "Hoist-A-Small-Animal-Into-The-Air" Day! What better way to attract hordes of cash-waving tourists to your desperately poor region than by hauling some shy, hibernating creature from its comfy den and exposing it to the pitiless light of day? Punxsutawney did it; you can too!

Remember, hoist a small animal into the air today!

Oh, yes, don't forget to alert the major media, or you won't have the chance of frost in Hell.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Molly Ivins - 1944 - 2007

We loved you and your work, Molly. Where you now are, may you carry on in the spirit that you always have, pointing out that which requires change.

Peace forever.

Bonnie and Walt

Molly Ivins, and Our Weekly Wednesday Answer Page

It was with a sense of deep sadness that we heard news on the Stephanie Miller show this morning of the possibility that one of our favorite columnists, Molly Ivins, is losing her long battle with cancer. The latest news that we can find on the net is five days old, and did not quite convey the seriousness of her condition. This morning's news makes it seem likely that she is soon to pass to a better place.

If it is Molly's time to go, we wish her well on her journey. If there is a chance that she may yet survive her latest struggle, we send our prayers her way, in hopes that she may yet be with us for a while.

Here is the answer to the Jan. 14th sudoku.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Monday, January 29, 2007

This is Rochester

We are incapable of making this stuff up, so we'll just share it.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Our Weekly Sunday Puzzle Page

We seldom use this page as it was perhaps meant to be used (i.e., as a daily journal) for the simple reason that little in the way of ordinary life changes for us (those of you who have been visiting for awhile know that when a major event occurs, it is likely to be chronicled here, just as a way of preserving the memories.) The little vents and gripes of daily existence that we experience are dealt with outside of this page, in our interactions with friends whom we have met through this medium but who have, with us, moved beyond it, and we thank them for demonstrating the patience that they do.

That being the case, we have felt free to use this space as an entertainment venue of sorts, to put into words and pictures notions that we (as perhaps might some of our visitors) find humorous; to call attention to items that have impinged upon our attention, just for the helluvit; and to showcase the various products of our interests.

We are no longer attempting to attract visitors, or even seeking comments as we once did (not that we don't appreciate the ones we receive - we truly do); we have attained our goal of having discovered a few good people who appreciate what we are trying to do, and have become, we like to think, friends, or at the very least, welcome acquaintances.

We have exhausted our feeble repertoire of things to say about one of our favorite pastimes, puzzles. Even if we had much more to say upon the topic, you would, no doubt, all be moved to go outside and contemplate cloud shapes rather than subject yourself to such horrible torture. Hence, we shall simply publish the (for now) last of the J-land sudokus.

This puzzle contains the name of a journaler who resides solely (as far as we are aware) at blogspot. In his journal, he has recently taken to chronicling the events of his newly-wedded life. The fill-in portion includes his name and the title of his journal.

On future Sundays, we may throw in a sudoku from our CityState series, a word search, or one of our current fascinations, the presently titled Cryptocrostics (formerly heralded as WordFigures - we changed the title to more properly reflect the dynamic of the puzzle.)

Once again, we are beginning to bore ourselves. It's time to put this outside.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt 

 

Thursday, January 25, 2007

News Nuggets

Fret not, news junkies! (We love that line) Having succumbed to the urge to seek out the curious and bizarre, we offer, for your approval, a series of articles guaranteed to waste some of your valuable time. We shall waste no more of your valuable time than absolutely necessary, so let us begin.

BIG-HEADED 'PREHISTORIC' MOUSE IS ALIVE IN EUROPE

Now we venture to claim that we bow to no one in our love for small furry mammals, but does the world really need more mice?

NEW SQUIRREL-LIKE RODENT DISCOVERED IN PERU

Ditto with tree rats - aren't there enough of these creatures burrowing into our lawns without adding others?

(Thanx and a tip o' the Mott manes to Debra for providing the threads to these stories)

To swipe an idea from Dave Barry, the former and currently occasional Miami Herald humorist, 'Now the terrorists are using sponges!'


MICROWAVE EXPERIMENTS CAUSE SPONGE DISASTERS

Is it necessary to spell out in excruciating detail exactly how to nuke a sponge? Is common sense dead?

Common sense is also a hallmark of this next story - this tragedy might have been prevented with a little more care -


WOMAN ON POTTY BREAK FALLS INTO FRIGID LAKE

It is always wise to assure that there are proper facilities in a proximate location.

Lastly, a headline we would like to see - but do not expect to:


PREZ TO ENTER REHAB

Sadly, we cannot provide a link to this particular story, as it is, of course, imaginary. However, we can provide a snippet of it below.

According to White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, President George W. Bush has arrived at a determination to enter a rehabilitation facility. Following in the footsteps of such celebrities as Mel Gibson, Tara Connor, Nicole Ritchie and Lindsey Lohan, President Bush is seeking to boost his badly sagging poll ratings and to curry favor with the American people by burnishing his tarnished image as a wanton warmonger ...

Stay tuned for further semiprecious gems.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Our Weekly Wednesday Answer Page

It's Wednesday already. Why, only yesterday, it seemed like it was Tuesday.

It's already obvious that we have nothing to write about. Last night we watched what the cable news channels persist in calling the SOTU. It was unremarkable, except for the rather subdued nature of the speech and the entertainment value of discovering which section of the audience thought it appropriate to stand and applaud at which initiatives were being proffered.

Having beat it to death in the late hours of yesterday and the early hours of this morn, the news cycle has already moved on.

Despite the serious nature of the consequences for our people and our country, we find it hard, these days, to get very worked up about things. Perhaps, having seen too many of these spectacles over the years, we are just overly jaded. Or maybe we sense, after all has been spoken and left undone, the futility of expecting miracles to occur.

Fret not, news junkies. The sound and fury will continue indefinitely, even if you never discover anything of substance. Perception, at bottom, becomes reality if it is shoved in front of our exhausted minds often enough.

Here is the answer to the journal sudoku of Jan. 7th (it seems so long ago now. We should have resolved to swear off the consumption of news.)

(Note to Barb: if you haven't done it yet, don't peek.)

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

 

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Credit is Hard to Come By

We are posting the item below, an email that we received from one of our friends, because credit (and respect) is hard to come by.

 

I would like all of you to read this and spread it around. My hubby is a journalist for the North Branch Post Review. He worked his butt off on a story and is now being stomped on by the bigwig news stations and such. He is getting no kudos for this story, just phone calls from people like Inside Edition, Splash News and our local WCCO did a report on it as well.
 
We live in a smaller area and no one gave two-Shits about this story until they saw Pat's write up in the North Branch Paper...Guess what, it's going National now. Not to mention an offer for a contract with 15% going to the people involved. Now, don't get me wrong, we are not looking to gain a dime from this but some recognition would be nice for my hubby!
 
Can you help spread this story around and give the credit where the credit is due???
LeAnn
An injustice is being served...

http://bp0.blogger.com/_eLbEFxWC1Ts/RbYz_qyKHjI/AAAAAAAAAJI/wBeAdWZTEWo/s1600-h/keeley1.jpgAnd I am here to make a little difference.

Last week, hubby wrote a damn nice story about a woman who saved a 5-year old little girls life. You can find that
here. This woman, then known as Tia Peterson got married over the weekend and is now Tia Cunningham, had this little girl in her wedding as her flower girl. It's truly an amazing story and Pat did a great job writing it.

I was getting emails from Pat all day yesterday with updates on something that has turned a bit frustrating. We live in a very small area, many times the bigwig news papers and news stations will troll the little local newspapers for some story and basically steal the story from the reporters out here. Not uncommon but never are the kudos given to these little locals who go to great lengths to credit a source for their scoop.

The story of this woman is now going national thanks to Pat's write up of her. Pat was getting calls from
Inside Edition, a magazine/company called Splash, WCCO did a story on her and no credit for how these places found this story.

The grandmother of this girl originally called Pat a few weeks ago and asked if he would do a story about this. Of course he said yes and interviews were done and the story was written.

Pat is very frustrated with this turn of events yet happy that this family is getting some attention for their persistance and abilities. So I wanted to point out that if any of you hear about this, it came from the North Branch Post Review Newspaper compliments to my husband Patrick.

Ironically, our
bigwig newspaper ran ANOTHER story that Pat broke in our area awhile back one in which Pat also received an award for, for his investigative work into the story. The bigwig is a little late with their reporting on this one but all the same, another that they ripped out from a small town reporter who's just trying to earn a living for his family and perhaps some credit once in awhile where credit is due.

UPDATE: One of the women related to this story phoned Pat at work. Apparently Splash News is offering her an exclusive contract to market this story across the globe. She would get 15% of the proceeds...but still no thanks to my husband! Pat's advice to her? Get a lawyer.....more to come.

It is shameful that all too often, things like this occur, so we hope to help, in our small way, rectify an injustice.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Our Weekly Sunday Puzzle Page

The state of Paranoia is not a wonderful place in which to live. It is replete with enemies seen and unseen, a place that leads you to question the trust and faith that you have placed in others. It compels you to the conclusion that you are alone, that it is impossible for anyone to truly befriend you, that you are beset on all sides by those who wish you not well, but want only to use and abuse you. There are ways out of this state, but they are narrow, murky, and difficult to locate. I intend to keep searching.

Today's puzzle features a journaler who, despite health issues, is hard at work on a renovation of his house amid some beautiful heartland scenery, as his photographs attest.

Bonnie has rated this puzzle ****.

A correction of an oversight - last Sunday's puzzle was also rated ****, but I forgot to include it.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Our Weekly Wednesday Answer Page

Souvenirs of a Life

Most of us, if truth be told, have at one time or another succumbed to the lure of some small trinket while engaged in the act of touring unfamiliar places. We purchase these items not for any intrinsic value, for most possess little or none, and while some can be rather charming, there are a few that are simply hideous - enough so that they would make worthy additions to Bonnie’s Curio Closet. No, we procure them, often against our better instincts, as a means to jog our memories when the occasion has long passed, to try to recall the outpouring of emotions that filled us at those times we considered to be special. Flea-market-like retailers take advantage of our weakness for these items, and cannot be blamed for doing so; it is up to us to resist the attractions of such things as naked-lady ashtrays or little statues dedicated to forgotten war heroes or charming monstrosities such as flamingo snow globes or lobster claw harmonicas (we loved it, Kathy, we’ll never part with it!)

There are other items that could be considered souvenirs of a life well-lived - photographs, letters and private papers, special books and objects, films and audiotapes, paintings and crafts produced by loved ones, collections - the list could go on and on.

The original puzzle of Dec. 31st and the answer that is here reproduced represents, for us, one such souvenir.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Superfluousness

Winter has finally arrived in the Northeast, commencing with that loveliest and most dreaded of conditions, the ice storm. The last major ice storm that our locality has seen was in 2003; we seem to receive at least two per decade. The 2003 version was annoying but we toughed it out, spending the majority of our time huddled under two comforters and a pile of lesser blankets, listening to our portable radios and thanking ourselves for having plenty of batteries on hand. That year, the power was off for only a few days; in 1991 the power was off for over two weeks, and we ended up staying with some friends in the city, which naturally had a higher priority in the matter of power restoration than did the suburbs.

Yesterday was not much of anything to write about; despite the overheated excitement of the weather reporters, the coating of ice was thin and the lights only flickered a few times at midday - it would have inconvenienced my heating oatmeal had the power gone, but not much else. We are very lucky in that after the ‘91 storm, the park made a wise decision to place all lines underground, and the only way we lose power now is if a substation is taken out.

The sky is of a gray quite bright; near the brilliant circumference of the sun the atmosphere contains a hint of salmon color, very pretty in its way - it is nice to be able to enjoy the nuances and subtleties that are there represented. We are now receiving our first authentic snowfall. If we are lucky, it won’t amount to much, and we will have the pleasure of viewing the snowy landscape without having to move portions of it so as to allow us to go anywhere.

Awhile ago, when we were yet working, I remember that I had written down a few themes that I thought at the time might be nice to incorporate into a crossword someday. This was, of course, long before it occurred to us that we had some small talent for constructing puzzles - indeed, before we possessed the wherewithal to construct them. Now those themes are tucked away in the security and solitude of a binder pocket - and we have no idea which binder, in which mound of detritus, might hold those golden little products of vagary.

*Sigh*

We hope, friends, that you are all enjoying your day as much as we are ours.

Peace be with you.

Bonnie and Walt

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Our Weekly Sunday (Props) Puzzle Page

As far back as we can remember (and, to be sure, that is a way), Sunday morning has been imbued with a special aura that pertains to no other day of the week. When we were very young, it was a day to sleep late (for our parents, certainly; we were likely up at the crack of dawn) and to dawdle over the breakfast table. As we aged, it became a day to suffer the ministrations of our mothers and don clothing that we would normally loathe, and refuse to be found dead in, all in aid of appearing before the Lord in something approaching respectability.

After we married, it became a day of rest for us, an opportunity to forget the worries of the workday week, a day to read through the various sections of the Sunday paper and to take long exploratory drives through the countryside.

It is still that for us, lacking only the worries and the long drives, but with an added sense of peace. And it has become a day for us to demonstrate that we are not yet virtual vegetables by posting the resultant products of our pixel-slathered fingers and twisted minds. To wit -

This edition represents a prop for this particular journaler, who is something special in J-land. It is unusual in that there are two names located on the diagonal (we thought she would want it that way.) The fill-in portion includes her s/n and the name of her present journal.

In response to our "Grumpy ..." post, Jeff requested that we list the advantages of aging. We at first quirked, smiled, grinned and guffawed, thinking that there was no possible way to fulfill the request. We have, however, given the notion due and careful consideration, and have managed to cobble together two very important and related advantages. The first is that at our age, we no longer have to make compromises in how we present ourselves to the world. We are free to be exactly who and how we are, without the necessity of having to play nice in order to maintain employment, or to get along with those for whom we have lost respect through the process of familiarity. It is not that we are sociopathic, but there are certain types of people who we have learned, through the acquisition of bitter experience, simply do not suit us, and we now have the choice of whether or not to enter into a relationship with them.

The concomitant advantage is that we are free to speak as we wish, and to say exactly what is on our minds, without much caring if those who do not like what we have to say become offended by it. If what we say offends someone, it is likely someone we would not care to maintain a relationship with anyway.

This is not to say that we delight in going out of our way to offend anyone. We believe in the idea of living and letting live, and we truly appreciate others who feel the same.

There is a delicious peace of mind and comfort in discovering that one can, and ought, be true to oneself.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Our Weekly Wednesday Answer Page

Kathy, who posts the private journal Life On Flamingo Row, has requested a favor of her friends. Her dear cousin's son was involved in a vehicle crash, and did not survive. She has included a link in her journal to one of the newspaper articles, if you wish to follow it. We ask that you please send your thoughts, prayers and well-wishes her way, that she and her family may be comforted. It is always difficult, we know, to cope with circumstances such as this, and J-landers are known for joining together to offer their support and comfort to those in need. If it's not too forward of us, we would like to thank you, J-landers, on Kathy's behalf, for being there for her.

Here is the answer for the Dec. 24th puzzle.

We would like to profusely thank both Kathy and Barb for their lovely plugs in their journals, and as long as we're tossing in links, we'd like to welcome Debra and Vicki as charter members of our little puzzle club.

For our signoff, we would like to quote Kathy:

Peace. Out.

Bonnie and Walt

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Highlights of a Lowlife

This semi-stream of consciousness entry may never see the light of day, but just in case ...

There are festive, colorful drifts of paper everywhere (one of the facts of life at the unexceptional bookbindery was the sheer amount of paper that the print room used as text dividers, and we employees were the grateful recipients of the excess, supposedly non-reusable sheets, shrinkwrapping them into 8 inch tall bundles and toting them home, storing them against the day when we might find a use for them) covered with the expired remains of formerly pristine puzzle grids. Such is our life now, and if we dared take a moment to muse upon where our life has led us, we might suffer serious mental damage, so it is probably best that we do not. However ...

We have begun a new series of crossword-style puzzles that require (requires? Is series singular or plural?) the solver to deduce the letters that belong in the spaces from the numbers provided (when we actually publish one of our WordFigures, we’ll provide more explicit directions.) The charter member of our puzzle club, Debra, upon setting in to solve the first one, inquired as to whether there was a theme. Alas, there is not, as we told her; it is difficult enough matching words that intersect across and down without worrying about a theme. Her query did, however, challenge us and lead us to attempt to construct a thematic puzzle, an effort that was quickly doomed to failure as we began to try to fit the entries on our word list together. We ultimately constructed one, albeit lacking any hint of a theme; these puzzles are more suited to insertion of words that closely resemble each other, and that is the way we have chosen to go. Still, we had that word list, which seemed eminently suited to a Word Search, so ...

So now we get to the point. I can’t remember now what led us to research this particular topic, but the word list for the nascent puzzle consists of a wildly disparate collection of toys, games and puzzles, items that have for thousands of years been devised simply to challenge the mind at such times as there existed leisure for those pursuits. Many of the entries are games that we remember from childhood, classics if you will, and others are those that attracted our interest as we entered adulthood. The younger members of our visitorship (hah! coined another word!) may be unfamiliar with some of the titles, and will likely notice the lack of games familiar to their childhoods, but we had to stop somewhere. (The point is coming along; please wait for it.)

We webcrawled to amazon.com to take a trip down Memory Lane; we felt certain that many of the games that we half-remembered would still be extant, and lo, they are! Some things seem to attain a species of perpetuity that is singularly gratifying. Anyway ...

Among the gaily decorated (gaudy) collections are a number of editions of a particular title that returned us to the years of our seriously misspent youth, back in the days (the early '70s) when we were just beginning to shape our shared history. Bonnie was performing data entry for a financial institution that was eventually consumed by a larger one, and I was working in inventory at Bausch & Lomb. We had acquired a rather odd set of friends who shared our love of gaming, and we would host frequent weekend get-togethers to indulge ourselves.

Among the many games that we enjoyed playing, often while under the influence of malt beverages and herb, was a favorite called Risk (the game of global domination). One of our group, whom we shall call "Dave", had devised what he conceived of as a brilliant strategy for obliterating the rest of us ("Mike", "Todd", "Bonnie", and "Walt".) He would place his little pile of colored wooden cubes on one territory (for some obscure reason, he seemed to prefer Kamchatka) and make only a few forays into other territories whenever he thought he could score an easy victory. He would continue to build his pile of cubes into a truly massive structure, struggling to prevent it from toppling and spilling across the rest of the board.

By the time he had acquired what he considered to be an army sufficient for conquest and domination, we were all pretty far gone, giggling uncontrollably and sometimes laughing uproariously, stuffing our faces with crackers, cheese and grapes, and wondering where all the herb had gone to. At that point, "Dave" would put his scheme into operation, performing a maneuver that he gleefully titled "The Grand Munch", moving his handfuls of cubes hither and yon, marching across the board swiftly and destroying everything in his path. It was a truly impressive spectacle, and the rest of us could only admire his audacity and the greatness of his military mind.

There was, however, one small flaw in his plan ... on each conquered territory, he would leave but a single, lonely cube, apparently deeming it sufficient protection. The rest of his force would continue on the Munch, leaving a string of territories barely defended. Not being idiots (although rendered nearly so by our vast consumption of mind-altering substances) the rest of us would sneak in his back door, so to speak, and parcel out among ourselves all those territories that he had left seriously underdefended. This operation seemed to befuddle "Dave" even more than he already was; it had apparently never occurred to him that we could be so brash and unfeeling as to deny him his victory by such an ungentlemanly (or, in "Bonnie’s" case, unladylike) method of play.

It is difficult to remember now how often The Grand Munch resulted in an actual win, but it seems likely that it was infrequent, as the notion that sticks uppermost in the mind is that of major befuddlement.

Which led us to contemplation of Donald Rumsfeld, our erstwhile Secretary of Defense. It is impossible to know whether that estimable gentleman ever played Risk as a youth, but the execution of the original march on Baghdad, if memory serves, bore a certain resemblance to what we remembered of The Grand Munch, a massive strike force moving rapidly upcountry, sweeping all aside in furtherance of the objective of reaching Baghdad. Little attention was paid to fortifying gains; the main thrust of the plan was always to move men and materiel directly to the capital. The assumption may have been that the citizens were too cowed to offer much in the way of resistance. That, as it turned out, was unwise, as many of the citizens remained armed, and the token forces (if any) that were left to subdue individual towns and villages were insufficient to the need. In hindsight, The Grand Munch may not have been such a good idea. The concept of shock and awe was not enough, even back in the days when we sat around the dining room table playing the game of Risk, to ensure a quick victory.

Thanx for bearing with us for the trip down Memory Lane.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Our Weekly Sunday Puzzle Page

Hello, puzzlers. 'Tis a sunny Sunday and in the high 40s here in upstate NY, another fine and snowless day. It almost seems as if Colorado is destined to be the only state to see real snow this year (not that we're complaining, mind you - this weather is kind to our backs and bank account - who would've thought we wouldn't have to fly south for the winter?)

It's an appropriately fine day to go outside and power walk, hit the links or inspect the garden for incipient blooms - hardly the day to hide oneself away, curl up in an easy chair and solve a puzzle. Nevertheless ...

... in case you are one of those people, here's one to curl up with. As we mentioned, we have a few leftover J-land sudokus lurking in the files, and though the temptation is great to toss in a word search or one of our other fine constructions, we'll clean those up first.

Today's journaler is someone who suffers from peripheral neuropathy, as do I, and she knows full well what it means to live with this condition. Despite that, she is a generally cheery and upbeat person, and makes the most of life. The fill-in portion represents the name of her journal, and her name, as always, can be found on the diagonal.

Happy puzzling!

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Our Weekly Wednesday Answer Page

We would like to be able to report that our life is replete with perennially sunny skies, and that nothing ever obscures our limitless horizons. That, however, would be bullshit fresh from the pasture (actually, the skies outside our windows are quite sunny, and the temperature is in the 50s, and this is upstate New York on January 3rd, and ... and ... this is not right! People, there is something seriously out of kilter here! As much as we enjoy and thrive on this type of weather, it's just too obviously wrong). This is undeniably the real world, and we are still grossly physical beings, with all the attendant aches, pains, sniffles and ... um ...

Sigh. OK. That's enough. We'll shut up now. Here's the answer to the Dec. 17th sudoku.

We'd like to add a few notes about these little monsters that lately seem to be consuming our lives. We have four more J-land puzzles in our files, and we'll publish those before we move on to the CityState series, of which we have now completed 33.

We like to think that we are supplying puzzles that you could not get by going to one of the copious sudoku sites; those, beyond all, are bursting with bland number puzzles, and have no character. Ours, at least, have some small entertainment value in addition to the simple act of solving.

Of necessity, we have learned much about what goes into constructing these beasts; there are certain conventions that must be followed if one is to produce a puzzle liable to successful completion. We have designed tools of sorts to make construction easier - early on, much of the process was hit-and-miss, but as we realized how time-consuming it was, we conceived ways of easing the burden.

Bonnie has begun rating the puzzles as she solves them, so in future, if a puzzle has a rating, we will publish it.

If you note a particular lack of coherence in these ramblings, chalk it up to vicious head colds. We hope you all are feeling better than we are.

Peace.

Bonnie and Walt