Thursday, September 4, 2008

the riddle of moving to another country

growing up, i absolutely loved riddles, puzzles, and jokes. oh my.

the guesser can ask the riddler yes/no questions until the puzzle is solved:

a man lives on the 14th floor of a building downtown. everyday when he leaves, he rides the elevator down to the ground floor and walks to wherever he is going. when he returns, he takes the elevator to the 8th floor and walks the rest of the way. unless it's raining, then he takes the elevator all the way up to the 14th floor. why?

and so on...

ze frank has created an interactive matchstick version of the first puzzle i really remember solving. my dad introduced it to me one time when he took my sister and i to hear the cincinnati pops orchestra. while we were sitting on the lawn waiting for the performance, he set up this puzzle with some blades of grass.

move two matches to form 4 equal squares, using every match as part of a square in the solution.

i have no idea where he discovered this puzzle or if he even remembers this event. i was occupied and frustrated for a good while, but when i surprised myself by actually solving it, i was hooked for life!

i think my interest in solving puzzles and riddles initiated a curiousity in figuring out how things in the our universe work. i also find that it's an advantage to like such things when traveling around the globe. moving to another country is like a gigantic series of puzzles and riddles (and sometimes jokes that either i dont get, or i'm the only one who understands!).

at least during this move, the language puzzle is more entertaining than frustrating, but there are still constant mysteries to figure out. for instance, what is a person from nottingham called? why do they drive on the left side of the road here, while most of the other countries in the world have chosen to drive on the right? is there really a different and/or proper time to say cheers instead of thank you, or are they completely interchangeable? why is there a mysterious trick to flushing half the toilets i've encountered in this country... and what is it?

there are new puzzles to solve everyday.... and luckily, i thoroughly enjoy nearly all of them (for now)!


Steve Jeffery said...

A most thought provoking post, Doctor Bauer.

The matches are bothering me now, but I'm determined to figure it out for a while yet before clicking on your solution.

Allegedly a person from Nottingham is a Nottinghamian, but I've lived here most of my life and I don't think I've ever heard that used in real life. You might as well say they're called "me duck" (you're bound to come across that if you haven't already). I've learnt a new word anyway, Demonym. Do you prefer Ohioan or Buckeye? ;-)

I had half an idea about why we drive on the left. This explains it nicely, and helpfully for me confirms my suspicions (whether it's right or not...).

"Cheers" is generally used more in more informal situations, I think, but there's no hard and fast rule there.

As to the toilets, I can only put that down to temperamental mechanics.

Glad to hear the new environment's stimulating you intellectually anyway. :-D


Unknown said...

not to mislead you.... the link allows you to interactively test your solutions. it doesnt give away the answer to the puzzle!!

Steve Jeffery said...

Ah, brilliant. I shall click with impunity then.

Steve Jeffery said...

w00t! Got it, and the one after.

Oh hang on, I'm at work aren't I? Curses, back to this later.

Here's something for you to try.

Albull said...

I'll throw another couple into the mix... a simple "thanks" and "ta".

What's the problem with the toilets? Is it the 2 button thing or the old rickety hold to flush properly one. Or rather, pump to flush as is the case in many pubs.

Oh and just wait till you try and understand cricket.

Anonymous said...

About a third of the world's population live in countries which drive on the left. I believe there are five more populous such countries than Britain (India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan and another one I can't think of right now). Welcome to this one, anyway.

Anonymous said...

For your first puzzle.... is the building still being constructed?

For the second ... you could pick up the two straws to the immediate left of the rightmost square and drop them into place at the left end of the construction to form FIVE 1x1 squares (and 1 2x2 square). Locating four 1x1 squares after that is quite trivial.

Or am I missing the point?


Unknown said...


riddle: no

puzzle: there must be 4 equal-sized squares. period. no more, no less.

Anonymous said...

Well, now you can see some difference between the way astrophysicists and engineers view the world.... Cheers!


Jimmy said...

You guys are lying, you haven't solved the match puzzle - it's impossible! To get four squares out of sixteen matches, they need to be seperated, no match forming more than one side of any square, and there's no way to do that by moving only two matches.

(PS, I'm kidding, it probably is possible, I'm just very frustrated...:p)