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.


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.


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


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.

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?


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?"


"Thank you."

Minutes later ...

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


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

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


"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 ...


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

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


"Then it’s 6-4-1."


"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.


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?


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 **.


Bonnie and Walt

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day and Our Weekly Wednesday Answer Page


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.


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.


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?


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.)


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 -


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!


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.


Bonnie and Walt