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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Silly Personal Games


Don't Try This One
I’ve chosen throughout my life to adopt self-imposed challenges in the stupidest areas, or, as phrased in this blog post title, silly personal games.  I’m a person who is fascinated by the left-brain/right-brain dichotomy, about which I’ve written a good deal (see Related Posts below), and so some of these games are left brain (words/numbers, abstract concepts) in nature, while others are pure right brain (physical things).  I play bridge, for example, and that’s a left-brain activity (except for holding the cards in your hand and playing them), while bowling, which I no longer do, is right brain oriented (keeping score being the only left brain part of bowling).

Every morning I read the newspaper and use my left brain to work the puzzles, and every night before going to sleep I play one round of Angry Birds on my iPad until I score a perfect three stars, a purely right brain endeavor. 
Typical Angry Birds Screen
Left Brain Silly Game:

The silly left brain game that I play on top of the usual ones has to do with Sudoku.  You may know the basic game, which starts with a grid that looks something like this:
 
The goal is to complete the missing squares with the digits one through nine so that these digits will be repeated in each block, each row, and each column. 


While this involves numbers, math has nothing to do with it.  Instead it’s a test of logic.  The game was invented in France and then popularized by a Japanese company in 2005.  Like most players, I started on easy puzzles (with very few missing numbers), and worked my way up to a level that http://www.websudoku.com/ calls “Evil.”

The silly game comes from my keeping score how often I finish the puzzle successfully, and how often I fail completely (and end up with, say, two “8”s in the same column).  Failing is frustrating because it’s almost impossible to trace back to the mistake and right things from there, and this means I have effectively wasted half an hour or more.  I estimate that I solve about 60% of the puzzles, and my record is nine in a row before a failure occurred.  [Interestingly, that percentage is about the same as mine for solving any given Angry Birds screen with three stars without having to go to YouTube to find the winning strategy.  I hasten to add I never go to YouTube unless I have at least solved the screen with a rating of one star.]

Right Brain Silly Games:

There are a number of these right brain games. 
The Pin Drop Statistics.  For decades I’ve worked out in my own basement on a gym machine with the usual mechanism that uses a pin to change weights [see photo].  Whenever I drop this metal pin it clangs annoyingly on the floor, and so I challenged myself to see how long I could go without dropping the pin.  As the statistics below show, the periods between drops range from days to years.  I’ve become very careful about moving that pin from one weight slot to another, to the point where I’m a little nutty about it.

[Part of My Workout Statistics Sheet]

The Toilet Paper Roll Toss.  The nuttiness of the pin drop game is nothing compared to this one.  The game started innocently enough, though more recently in 2006 when I moved into my condo.  Sitting on the toilet and finishing off a roll of toilet paper I would toss the cardboard tube into the wastebasket about four feet away.  Eventually I became proud of how often I accurately hit the wastebasket, and a running count of the statistics began.  My old record was ten tubes in a row before a miss, and that record stood for years.  But since I got married and David moved in, the use of toilet paper has of course doubled, so there are more opportunities for this exciting contest to occur.  In the beginning David was astounded to learn that I wanted him to save the tubes (he caught me taking one from a wastebasket in the guest room half-bath and asked me what I was doing, so I, chagrined, explained).  But now he's resigned himself to the madness.

Even better, I’m currently on a roll (so to speak), having successfully tossed thirteen tubes into the wastebasket without missing.  Very exciting!  Whenever I have a new victory I spontaneously shout out the number (“Thirteen!”), which originally caused my hubby to come running, worried there was some emergency erupting in the bathroom (Thirteen what?”).  Now David  just humors me (“Should I call Sports Illustrated with the news?” he sarcastically asks when I emerge triumphant from the bathroom, doing a victory lap of the bedroom).
 

So, blog readers, those are my silly personal games.  Now fess up.  You yourself have some personal games that are similar, don’t you?  Send them to me, complete with details and even photos, and when I get enough of them I’ll put out a new blog post highlighting the best of the best.  I’ll even protect your anonymity if you’re too embarrassed to own up to your games, though having confessed myself to the toilet paper roll toss how could you top that?

Send those emails to me at dglswhaley@aol.com
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Related Posts:
“Benjamin Franklin Riding Shotgun,” May 29, 2010
“The Left-Brain/Right-Brain Life,” January 17, 2011
“Life's Little (But Important) Rules,” April 23, 2011
“How To Be Perfect,” March 17, 2012
“Life’s Unexpected Pleasures: “¡M├ís Bueno Que El Pan!” November 5, 2012
“Douglas and David Get Married,” December 20, 2013
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013

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