Feb 18, 2011

Utility Pockets: Update 2/18/11

So I've been outside all week. Specifically, I've been helping to build an outdoor classroom for a preschool, which has involved digging large holes, and cementing benches into them. That means that not only am I exceedingly dirty as I type this post, but also that my jacket is simply filthy. Before I put it in the wash, though, I've got to empty my pockets. And so, I present to you the contents of my Utility Pockets:

  • One headlamp
  • Two pairs of 3D glasses
  • One bag of Apple-Cinnamon Cheerios (1/3 full)
  • One bag of Honey-Nut Cheerios (nearly empty)
    • UPDATE: empty
  • One pair of clip-on sunglasses
  • Two pencils
  • One fountain pen
  • That Zebra pen that I raved about last time I presented the status of the Utility Pockets
  • One blue Staples pen
  • Five physics problems on small slips of paper
  • One pair of very cheap earbuds (used only once, for a test I was randomly selected for)
  • One nasal cannula (basically, a breathing device that can be attached to a supplemental oxygen take for basic life support)
  • Three chocolate wrappers
  • One small clump of dirt
  • One business card for Ken Salaz, a magician
    • The back says "You will think of Lois and choose the word voices," which was relevant to one of his tricks
  • My learner's permit
  • Half of a ticket to my school's production of The Crucible
  • One business card for my school's Assistant Headmaster (signed)
  • One Dingoo Digital A320 gaming device
Just, you know. FYI.

Feb 10, 2011

King of Shikaku

I subscribe to GAMES Magazine, edited by Will Shortz. It's a fantastic magazine featuring all those pencil-and-paper puzzles, like cryptic crosswords and logic puzzles and whatnot. There's one thing in there called Paint-By-Numbers, which are like giant grids that you have to color in according to certain rules in order to reveal a picture.

Like so.
So when on Facebook one day, I discovered that a friend of mine was playing on some application called Nonograms. I inspected a little and discovered that this Nonograms thing was actually Paint-By-Numbers, except that its pictures weren't pretty. I at first thought this was a little silly. Then I realized that there was a score counter. I had to be the best at this. There were no other options.

Unfortunately for my productivity, Nonograms wasn't alone, I soon discovered - the same developer had created about eight applications total. Sudoku, Lightup, Nurikabe, Slitherlink - there were a whole bunch of neat little puzzles. Each application had only a few hundred users - they were still really small and new. But I'll be damned if they weren't all the most fun things in the world.

This one nifty puzzle called Shikaku was particularly fun for me. I won't bore you with the rules, but if you're interested in playing, you can just click here. Sure enough, my hours, days, weeks of hard work paid off: I was officially the best Shikaku player.

Yes, I was the best. #1. The head honcho. The king. It was I who first broke a million points, who first solved the largest size puzzle twenty times consecutively. I was unmatched. All knelt before. For a while.

As it turned out, there was one gentleman by the name of Karel Essers from Overpelt, Belgium who was better than I was. He ultimately gained far more points than I had - I was left in the dust. Unacceptable. We went back and forth for a little while, but he eventually emerged as the victor. In a huff, I stormed off to play other puzzles - only to find that in Dominosa, the least-played of all the puzzle applications, he was #1. He held the #1 position in the majority of these games.

Karel Essers was officially my rival.

I had to tell Mr. Essers of our enmity, just in case he wasn't aware of my mental turmoil. I sent him a Facebook message:

Dear Mr. Essers -

You may have seen my name before, or more likely, my profile picture. I am the gentleman with whom you have been "sparring," so to speak, over the position of the King of Shikaku. I was quick to ascend to this position, as the first player to achieve a million points; Mr. Er Bollo de Hueva of Spain was quick to surpass me, and I soon dropped to third. There has since been much turmoil; however, you quickly emerged as the de facto ruler. I would like to inform you that your current lead of 1,428,022 points cannot be assumed to be permanent; we are still foes and I am still fighting. You are my rival to the bitter end. From Shikaku to Dominosa, I shall fight valiantly to earn your respect and to usurp your position on the throne.

-G. Edelston.

A day later, he responded:

Hi Mr. Edelston 
It's clear that you are not only a good writer, but also good in logic games. I must apologize for my inadequate knowledge of English. Using a translater gets me quite far though ;-). I'm pleased to have an opponent to compete for the first place in both Shikaku and Dominosa. I started right away with giving you an extra challenge in Shikaku, making the gap between us bigger. In Dominosa, I never tried anything else but the smallest size, but I'm willing to trie the bigger sizes as soon as you pass me ;-).
I wish you the best of luck and I hope that the new year gives you many inspiration. 
Kind regards,  
K. Essers 
That jerk. I didn't wind up responding to him again, and he still holds the lead, but he still to this day holds a special place in my heart: a place of hatred and rancor unmatched by any other. Someday, you shall succumb to my superiority, Karel Essers.