## Thursday, December 27, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 23, 2012): Actor, Artist, God

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 23, 2012): Actor, Artist, God:
A: Take the last name of a famous actor. Drop the first letter, and you'll get the last name of a famous artist. Drop the first letter again, and you'll get the name of a god in classical mythology. What names are these?
I thought the puzzle deadline would be a day earlier this week, but it isn't so this comment can be mostly ignored.

Edit: The first hint is Wednesday (day earlier) which is named after the Norse god Woden/Odin. Additionally, if you ignore one letter in "ignored" it anagrams to the name of the actor.
A: GRODIN --> RODIN --> ODIN

## Friday, December 21, 2012

### Christmas Puzzle 2012 - Snowflake Maze

Our annual Christmas puzzle is available now. It's a fun maze in the shape of a snowflake. As in prior years, the reward for solving is a video Christmas card, but you'll need to figure out the password by solving the puzzle.

Note: If you need some help, the full answer is posted here, but try solving it without help first... it's more fun that way.

Feel free to add a comment below to let us know that you successfully figured it out (without giving away the answer to others). We are always looking for new ideas for next year's Christmas puzzle, so submit those too.

## Thursday, December 20, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 16, 2012): Where in the World?

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 16, 2012): Where in the World?:
Q: Name a two-word geographical location. Remove the first letter. Move one of the other letters to the front of what's left. This will result in a single word. And this word names what you are most likely looking through when you see that geographical location. What is it?
Take the initial letters of the geographical location, add one more letter and the result will be something familiar.

Edit: The answer to this follow-on puzzle was N.P. + R = NPR
A: NORTH POLE --> PORTHOLE

## Thursday, December 13, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 9, 2012): Three Letter State Abbreviation

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 9, 2012): Three Letter State Abbreviation:
Q: Name a major U.S. city in two words. Take the first letter of the first word and the first two letters of the second word, and they will spell the standard three-letter abbreviation for the state the city is in. What city is it?
I was hoping Will was going to break the pattern of incredibly easy puzzles, but I guess that's not going to happen. It also appears Will has forgotten that we switched to two-letter abbreviations for the states awhile ago...

Edit: My hint was "break" as in a former popular springbreak destination.
A: Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

## Thursday, December 06, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 2, 2012): What did you eat under there?

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 2, 2012): What did you eat under there?:
Q: Name two articles of apparel — things you wear — which, when the words are used as verbs, are synonyms of each other. What are they?
Been there, done that.

Edit: This was essentially a repeat of the NPR puzzle for June 28, 2009
A: SOCK and BELT

## Thursday, November 29, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 25, 2012): Not Since 1987...

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 25, 2012): Not Since 1987...:
Q: In a few weeks something will happen that hasn't happened since 1987. What is it?
Wait? Will "The Simpsons" be going off the air? Now that would be different.

Edit: The main hint was the word "different". The other hint was the image from the Simpson's episode "Future Drama" set in the year 2013.
A: 2013 will be the first year since 1987 to have no digits repeated (1988, 1989, ..., 2011, 2012). At least we didn't have it as bad as they did in the 12th century going from 1098 to 1203 with all the intervening years of repeated digits (1099, 1100, 1101, ..., 1199, 1200, 1201, 1202). Oh how agonizing that must have been for them!

## Wednesday, November 21, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 18, 2012): Common Five Letter Words

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 18, 2012): Common Five Letter Words:
Q: Think of a familiar five-letter word in two syllables. Change the middle letter to the preceding letter of the alphabet, and you'll get a familiar five-letter word in three syllables. What words are these?
I bet some people will be coming up with the answer almost immediately while for some it is going to take a few hours.

Edit: The hints were "bet" (as in alphabet) and "coming"/"going" (since aloha can mean hello or goodbye).
A: ALPHA --> ALOHA

## Friday, November 16, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 11, 2012): Lead Pencil Puzzle

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 11, 2012): Lead Pencil Puzzle:
Q: With one stroke of a pencil you can change a capital F into E; you can change an O into a Q, and so on. Write the phrase "LEAD PENCIL" in capital letters. Add a stroke to one letter and rearrange the result to name a classic movie. What is it?
Wake me when it's over.

The Four Tops had a hit with "Shake Me, Wake Me (When it's over)". The missing part of my hint was "Shake Me". And if you search for "Shake Me" it's a song by the group "Cinderella".
A: Change the P to an R, rearrange to get CINDERELLA

## Thursday, November 08, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 4, 2012): 100% Organic and All Natural Puzzle

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 4, 2012): 100% Organic and All Natural Puzzle:
Q: The words "organic" and "natural" are both commonly seen at health food stores. What other seven-letter word, also commonly seen at health food stores, has five letters in common with organic and five letters in common with natural?

Edit: According to Wikipedia, "Granola" was originally a trademarked term in the 19th century, but is now only trademarked in Australia. The easiest way to solve this was to notice that both words already share the letters A, N and R. There are 6 ways to pick a couple letters from the remaining letters in organic and 6 ways to pick a couple letters from those in natural. From there it's a simple check to see if those 7 letters anagram to any common words.
A: I was able to come up with 5 words that meet the criteria of sharing 5 letters each with natural and organic. They were cranial, curtain, granola, guarani and languor. Only one of them seems to be a word you would typically find at health food stores:

GRANOLA

## Thursday, November 01, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 28, 2012): Happy Halloween!

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 28, 2012): Happy Halloween!:
Q: Think of a word associated with Halloween. Add a letter in the second position to create a new word that does not rhyme with the first. Then add another letter in the third position of the word you just created to complete another word that does not rhyme with either of the first two. What words are these?
My hint? Only this...

Edit: My hint was from Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven "only this, nothing more." In the poem there is another line "Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore."
A: TREAT, THREAT, THEREAT

## Thursday, October 25, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 21, 2012): World Series of Letters

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 21, 2012): World Series of Letters:
Q: What letter comes next in this series: W, L, C, N, I, T?
I know I've seen this somewhere before.

Edit: The series refers to itself... and the image with the alphabet looping back on itself was to imply this. The comment also should lead you to looking at the question itself.
A: S is the next letter in the series which consists of the initial letters of the original question (What, Letter, Comes, Next, In, This, Series)

## Thursday, October 18, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 14, 2012): Word Properties

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 14, 2012): Word Properties:
Q: What specific and very unusual property do these five words have in common: school, half, cupboard, Wednesday and friend? Identify the property and name a sixth word that shares the property. Any word having this property will be counted correct.
While I usually have these right away, I had to think a couple times before I got the specific property.

Edit: It was pretty easy to notice that there were silent letters in each of the words... but the specific property is that the silent letter is in the third position in the word. I mentioned that I had to think a couple times before getting this property (e.g. third try). Additionally the picture I chose was of planet Earth which is the third planet from the sun.
A: In all the words, the third letter is silent. Some examples are JEoPARDY, DEbT, SIgN and WAtCH

## Thursday, October 11, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 7, 2012): Hexagon Diagonals - Count the Triangles

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 7, 2012): Hexagon Diagonals - Count the Triangles:

Q: Draw a regular hexagon, and connect every pair of vertices except one. The pair you don't connect are not on opposite sides of the hexagon, but along a shorter diagonal. How many triangles of any size are in this figure?
The diagram in the upper right should help. I've removed one diagonal. It looks like a cool cube, don't you think?

Edit: The words "cool cube" were a double hint. First, the diagram I drew reminded me of the isometric cubes in the Q*Bert video game which was released in 1982. Additionally, if you cube the answer (82^3) you get 551368. I think the result is cool because 55+13=68. As a final clue, in several of my comments, I used the word "lead" which happens to be 82 on the Periodic Table of Elements.
A: 82 Triangles - be sure to watch the video for an explanation of the answer.

## Sunday, September 30, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 30, 2012): Opposites Attract

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 30, 2012): Opposites Attract:
Q: Think of a word in which the second letter is R. Change the R to an M, and rearrange the result. You'll get the opposite of the original word. What is it? (Hint: The two words start with the same letter.)

## Thursday, September 27, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 23, 2012): Anatomy Book

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 23, 2012): Anatomy Book:
Q: Name two parts of the human body. Put them together one after the other. Change the 7th letter in the result to the next letter of the alphabet to name something that's often found in books. What is it?
If I add anything, I think I'll give it away (as it seems to happens in the comments too often) so I'm going to say nothing.

Edit: If I were to add anything, it might be in a footnote. the other hint was TOO OFTEN which anagrams to FOOTNOTE.
A: FOOT + NOSE --> FOOTNOTE

## Thursday, September 20, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 16, 2012): I'd Like to Buy a Vowel

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 16, 2012): I'd Like to Buy a Vowel:
Q: Think of something that the majority of adults buy. It's a two-word phrase with 10 letters in the first word and nine in the second. This phrase uses each of the five vowels (A, E, I, O, and U) exactly twice. What familiar product is this?
Lmnvskr ukbaxmu quytf ggzm aca jqhhkiv rsxgmph uv uqfk sv eox mvuixeves.

Edit: If you decode that using Sharky's Vigenere Cipher and the key of "Geico" you get "Fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance."
A: AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE

## Thursday, September 13, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 9, 2012): Pick a Pill

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 9, 2012): Pick a Pill:
Q: Name a world capital whose letters can be rearranged to spell a popular and much-advertised drug. What's the capital, and what's the drug?
I apologize for being sleepy last night and not getting to the puzzle, but I have the answer now. Oorah! The hint? Study the picture.

Edit: The obvious hint was "Oorah!" which is uttered by the Marines. Their hymn includes the line "...to the shores of Tripoli". The less obvious clue was the picture which takes a little explaining. While it initially looks like an open hand with 3 pills, they are actually 3 pill bugs, also affectionately called "rolly polly" bugs. 3 = tri, rolly-polly = poli. Sorry, I know it wasn't a very good clue.
A: TRIPOLI --> LIPITOR

## Thursday, September 06, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 2, 2012): Autumn Leaves

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 2, 2012): Autumn Leaves:
Q: It's an anagram word ladder. For example, take the word "spring." If the last letter is changed to an "o" and the result is rearranged, you get "prison." Or, instead, if the last letter is changed to an "e" and the result rearranged, you get "sniper." Or change the last letter to an "a" and get "sprain," and so on. For this challenge, start with the word "autumn." Changing one letter at a time, and anagramming it each step of the way, turn "autumn" into "leaves." Each step has to be a common word. In how few steps can you do it?
I know Will frowns on capitalized or plural words, so I initially looked for an ideal answer without any plurals (except for leaves). As luck would have it, that forced me to use "vestal" or "teasel" which seemed worse than using plurals so I relaxed that restriction. There are multiple answers, but I believe only one acceptable length.

Edit: My clue was intended to hint (but not give away) that there is an ideal 5-step* answer. The word "luck" hinted at amulet being required in most of the common 5-step chains. *In my terminology a step is when you go from one word to the next.
A: The following chain is 5 steps and uses common words. Your answer may be different.
LEAVES

## Thursday, August 30, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 26, 2012): Famous Classical Composer

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 26, 2012): Famous Classical Composer:
Q: Take the name of a popular children's character in nine letters. Several of its letters appear more than once in the name. Remove every duplication of a letter, so every letter that remains appears just once. This new set of letters can be rearranged to name a famous classical composer. Who is it?
Wouldn't you like a hint?

Edit: "Wouldn't" sounds a little like "wooden"...
A: Pinocchio --> Chopin

## Thursday, August 23, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 19, 2012): Sports Section II

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 19, 2012): Sports Section II
Q: Name the winning play in a certain sport: two words, five letters in each word. These two words share exactly one letter. Drop this letter from both words. The remaining eight letters can be rearranged to name the person who makes this winning play. What person is it?
Queen to H4, Checkmate!
Edit: The hint was to Queen and their song "We are the Champions".
A: MATCH POINT --> CHAMPION

## Thursday, August 16, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 12, 2012): Two Bugs Puzzle

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 12, 2012): Two Bugs Puzzle:
Q: Name two insects. Read the names one after the other. Insert an H somewhere in this string of letters, and you'll complete a familiar word that is the opposite of what either of these insects is. What word is it?
Nixon in China?

Edit: If you check the Wikipedia page for Behemoth, there's mention of a reference to Behemoth in the musical, "Nixon in China".
A: BEE + MOTH + H --> BEHEMOTH

## Saturday, August 04, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 5, 2012)

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 5, 2012): The Cat is Away:
Since I'm not going to be around to comment on the puzzle, I'm putting this week's puzzle on "auto-pilot". Please play nicely and don't give the puzzle answer away.
Here's my standard reminder... don't post the answer or any hints that could lead directly to the answer (e.g. via Google or Bing) before the deadline of Thursday at 3pm ET. If you know the answer, click the link and submit it to NPR, but don't give it away here.

You may provide indirect hints to the answer to show you know it, but make sure they don't give the answer away. You can openly discuss your hints and the answer after the Thursday deadline. Thank you.

## Thursday, August 02, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 29, 2012): I'm In My Element

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 29, 2012): I'm In My Element:
Q: Think of the last name of a famous person in entertainment. The first two letters of this name are a symbol for one of the elements on the periodic table. Substitute the name of that element for the two letters, and you will describe the chief element of this person's work. What is it?
Aluminumanis?

Edit: Alanis Morrisette has a song entitled "Isn't it Ironic"
A: Tina FEY --> IRONY

## Saturday, July 28, 2012

### GeekDad Puzzle of the Week: Contiguous Consonants

GeekDad Puzzle of the Week: Contiguous Consonants:
Q: [GeekDad had] a lot of time to work out several phrases that incorporated words with multiple adjacent non-vowels or "contiguous consonants." For purposes of this puzzle, please consider the letter "y" strictly as a consonant. In parentheses, after each phrase is the number of words, and each word's count of contiguous consonants.
• Ice-free, super tall buildings in Scranton (3w/6c)
• Encoding long words in a fixed orbit (3w/6c)
• Crazy fish-studier’s two wheeled transport (3w/5c)
• Melodic equivalents to the "Queen of Diamonds" (Condon)(3w/6c)
• Sufficiently valuable magic during the America’s Cup (3w/5c)
• Where playing Beethoven on your iPhone was invented (3w/5c)
• Artificial disk-flip game (2w/5c)
• Rotational energy "battery," 10-10 meters across (2w/5c)
For those that have struggled with the math problems, this might be more up your alley. The hardest one, in my opinion, is the 4th one; I'm not completely happy with my answer. Which ones do you find tricky? Remember don't give anything away since this is a contest with a prize. Feel free to read the full puzzle details on the GeekDad site and submit your answers by Friday for a chance at the \$50 prize.

Edit: The deadline has passed and I've posted our answers in the comments. I'm still waiting to see the intended answers, especially for #4.

## Thursday, July 26, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 22, 2012): Sports Section

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 22, 2012): Sports Section:
Q: Name a sport in two words — nine letters in the first word, six letters in the last — in which all six vowels (A, E, I, O, U, and Y) are used once each. What is it?
Grr!!! I spent a good amount of time trying to find a 9-5 answer before finding out that there was a mistake in the posted puzzle... I bet a few of you were similarly confused. I was working on "organized rugby" as a potential answer until I saw the correction.

Edit: The hints were "Grr" which are the starting consonants of the answer, "9-5" as in odds of 9 to 5, "posted" as in race results being posted and "bet" as what you might do at one of these races.
A: GREYHOUND RACING

## Saturday, July 21, 2012

### GeekDad Puzzle of the Week: Dog Siblings

GeekDad Puzzle of the Week: Dog Siblings:
Q: A guy with a black lab said that his dog, Selkie, has five brothers and sisters in town. "But I’ve never run into one of them," he said. "I wonder what are the chances of that?"

Imagine that each of the six dogs goes out somewhere an average of once every three days. And imagine that between trails and parks and fields there are 200 places a dog can go, all (let's say...) with equal probability.

If it's been exactly two years — 730 days — since Selkie's owner picked her up from the litter, what are the chances that during this time Selkie would NOT see a doggie sibling?
For extra credit, what are the chances over the same time that any sibling will meet any other sibling?

Edit:  The deadline was Friday, so here is how I went about solving the puzzle.

The key to this puzzle is figure out the chances of dogs not meeting on one day.  From there it is easy to figure out the chance of them not meeting for 730 days. And then if necessary, you can figure out the probability of the opposite case (meeting) by subtracting from 100%.

#### Part 1 - Selkie doesn't meet a doggie sibling

In order for a dog to be at a specific location, they must be out (with 1/3 probability) and at that specific spot (1/200 probability). That means there is a 1/600 chance of a specific dog being out at a specific location.  Thinking of the negative probability, that means there is a 599/600 chance that a dog is *not* at a specific location.

Selkie will *not* meet another dog on a specific day if,
1) Selkie is at home (2/3)
2) Selkie is out at any location (1/3) and dog 1 is not there (599/600) and dog 2 is not there (599/600) and dog 3 is not there...

In other words, the chance that Selkie doesn't meet any other dog on a specific day is:
2/3 + 1/3 x (599/600)^5 ≈ 99.7231466062%

And the chance that Selkie doesn't meet any dogs for 2 years (730 days) is:
[ 2/3 + 1/3 x (599/600)^5 ]^730 ≈ 13.2148023616%

A: (Part 1) The chance that Selkie does NOT see a doggie sibling is around 13.2148%

#### Part 2 - Chances that any sibling meets another sibling

This is the much tougher question.  First let's make a table of probabilities of having 0 dogs out, 1 dog out, 2 dogs out, etc.

The chance that 'n' dogs are out on any one day is C(6,n) x (1/3)^n x (2/3)^(6-n).
And given 'n' dogs are out, the chance that they do NOT meet is 200/200 x 199/200 x 198/200 ... (using the number of dogs that are out.)

Thus, the chance that no dogs meet on a single day is around 99.1717389885%
The chance that no dogs meet for 730 days is (99.1717389885%)^730 ≈ 0.2307745729%
Subtracting from 100%, you get the probability that at least two siblings will meet (100% - 0.230774573%) = 99.769225427%

A: (Part 2) The chance that any of the siblings meet during those 2 years is around 99.7692%

## Thursday, July 19, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 15, 2012): Is There a Doctor in the House?

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 15, 2012): Is There a Doctor in the House?:
Q: The name of something that you might see your doctor about is a two-word phrase. Three letters in each word. When these six letters are written without a space, a three-letter word can be removed from inside, and the remaining three letters in order also form a word. What's interesting is that the four three-letter words — the two in the original phrase, the one that was removed, and the one that remains — all rhyme. What is the original phrase?
The picture this time is from Halloween 2005 when we all went as various doctors. Speaking of doctors, is there ever one in the house?

Edit: Perhaps too obviously, a moving, emotional theatrical performance can result in there not being a dry eye in the house.
A: DRY EYE --> D(RYE)YE = DYE & RYE

## Wednesday, July 18, 2012

### GeekDad Puzzle of the Week: Math Trolls

GeekDad Puzzle of the Week: Math Trolls:
Q: Nora is taking a trip to visit her Grandmother in northernmost New York State this week, to bring her some freshly picked berries. On the way there, she has to cross a total of 30 bridges, and under each of the these bridges lives a troll. Each troll is aware of their bridge number, and either demands or gives berries based upon the rarest or most applicable description of their bridge. They demand or give berries according to the following schedule:
• Trolls under odd numbered bridges demand half of your berries.
• Trolls under even numbered bridges demand 20 berries.
• Trolls under prime numbered bridges give you half again the number of berries you are carrying.
• Trolls under perfect square numbered bridges demand a quarter of your berries.
• Trolls under perfect cube numbered bridges give you the number of berries you are carrying, doubling your number of berries.
If trolls round up in their demands (i.e., if you have 57 berries at the foot of a bridge best described as odd numbered, you will cross it with 28 berries), what is the minimum number of berries Nora must start with so that she ends up with 1,000 berries when she arrives at her Grandmother’s house?
The solution has already been posted on the GeekDad website. If you want to solve it yourself, read no further. A detailed breakdown of my solution is given in the comments.

## Thursday, July 12, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 8, 2012): And the Oscar Goes To...

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 8, 2012): And the Oscar Goes To...:
Q: Think of a well-known actor, three letters in the first name, seven letters in the last. One of the letters is an "S." Change the "S" to a "K" and rearrange the result, and you'll name a well-known fictional character. Who is it?
Add an "F" to the fictional character, rearrange to get part of a car.

Edit: TINKER BELL + F rearranges to LEFT BLINKER.
A: BEN STILLER - S + K --> TINKER BELL

## Thursday, July 05, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 1, 2012): Retail Therapy

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 1, 2012): Retail Therapy:
Q: Think of a well-known retail store chain in two words. Remove one letter from its name. The remaining letters, in order, will spell three consecutive words that are synonyms of each other. What are they? Hint: The three words are all slang.
I didn't immediately get the answer because they've been getting rid of most of these stores in our area. And the answer I have is technically one word, not two.

Edit: The hint was "getting rid of" which could be another slang synonym.
A: OfficeMax (remove the M) = Off, Ice, Ax as synonyms for "kill"

## Wednesday, July 04, 2012

### GeekDad Puzzle of the Week: Poaching Berries

GeekDad Puzzle of the Week: Poaching Berries:
Q: Leif and Kestrel are willing to give GeekDad a 20% cut of berries they poach for turning a blind eye. Imagine that Leif picks five berries per poach and Kestrel picks three berries per poach and that they attempt to poach once every day, with the exception of any day just after they’ve been caught. Now imagine that each time they poach berries, they have a 15% chance of getting caught. How many berries can GeekDad expect to eat each each week, averaged over time?
I'll post my thoughts on the answer after the answer is revealed (generally early next week).

Edit: The following answer was what I submitted to end up winning the puzzle:

Let's assume a few things:
1) Leif and Kestrel start in a state where they haven't ever been caught.
2) Each time they are caught, the berries that day don't count. Also, they must skip the next day until trying again.

There are essentially 3 states that each child could be in. Since the probabilities for each child are the same we can group them together, though in reality the puzzle allows for one child to be caught and the other not. The results work out the same, so let's just simplify it to a pair of children trying to poach 8 berries a day.

The children could be:
1) Caught the day before and therefore have no chance of getting berries that day (must sit out).
2) Caught today (15%, if not caught the day before)
3) Not caught today (85%, if not caught the day before)

Each day, the chance of being caught the day before is just carried forward. So on day 2, the chance is 15% they are sitting out. That leaves 85% chance they are attempting poaching. Of that 85%, there's a 15% chance they are caught (0.85 x 0.15 = 12.75%) and an 85% chance they poach successfully (0.85 x 0.85 = 72.25%).

If you repeat this, the next day (Day 3) they have a 12.75% chance of sitting out and a 87.25% chance of attempting poaching. Day 4, the chance of sitting out is 0.15 x 87.25% = 13.0875% and not sitting out is 86.9125%. Day 5, the chance of sitting out is 0.15 x 86.9125% = 13.036875% and not sitting out is 86.963125%. You can continue this progression and you will see that the chance they are sitting out approaches a value of about 13.043478%. The chance they are caught that day is equivalently about 13.043478%. That leaves a 73.913043% chance they are able to poach 8 berries with an expected return of 5.913043478 berries a day.

That equates to approximately 41.39130435 berries a week. With a 20% "commission" after awhile you will be eating approximately 8.27826087 berries each week.

Note: For a more accurate answer (rather than just a decimal approximation) we can solve this algebraically as follows:

Let p be the chance that you ARE sitting out.
Let q be the chance you are NOT sitting out.

Together these are mutually exclusive and therefore add up to 100% (or mathematically we say 1)
p + q = 1
p = 1 - q

The chance you are NOT sitting out, but CAUGHT is 0.15q
The chance you are NOT sitting out, and SUCCESSFULLY POACHED is 0.85q

We know that eventually the two values p and 0.15q end up being the same, so equate them
p = 0.15q

Substitute in 1-q:
1 - q = 0.15q

Rearrange:
1 = 1.15q
q = 1/1.15

The chance we are caught that day is 0.15q
0.15q = 0.15(1/1.15) = 0.15/1.15 = 15/115 = 3/23
And the chance we poach some berries is 0.85q
0.85q = 0.85(1/1.15) = 0.85/1.15 = 85/115 = 17/23

For the sake of completeness that means you have:
3/23 = chance child is sitting out
3/23 = chance child was caught today
17/23 = chance child was able to poach successfully

Now multiply this last number by 8 berries attempted times 7 days and then times 1/5 (20% commission) to get the expected number of berries poached each week.
Berries per week = 17/23 x 8 x 7 x 1/5

If you reduce that to a fraction you end up with:
952/115 = 8 32/115 berries each week.

A: 8 32/115 berries each week.
8.27826086956521739130434... (underlined portion repeats indefinitely)

## Thursday, June 28, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 24, 2012): The Cat is Away

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 24, 2012): The Cat is Away:
Since I'm not going to be around to comment on the puzzle, I'm putting this week's puzzle on "auto-pilot". Please play nicely and don't give the puzzle answer away.
Here's my standard reminder... don't post the answer or any hints that could lead directly to the answer (e.g. via Google or Bing) before the deadline of Thursday at 3pm ET. If you know the answer, click the link and submit it to NPR, but don't give it away here.

You may provide indirect hints to the answer to show you know it, but make sure they don't give the answer away. You can openly discuss your hints and the answer after the Thursday deadline. Thank you.

Edit: From my comment, We just reached our destination (goal line). After the family got settled here inside... (go all in)
A: GO ALL IN + E --> GOAL LINE

## Thursday, June 21, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 17, 2012): Est-ce que tu parles franÃ§ais?

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 17, 2012): Est-ce que tu parles franÃ§ais?:
Q: Think of a common French word that everyone knows. Add a "v" (as in "violin") to the beginning and an "e" at the end. The result will be the English-language equivalent of the French word. What is it?
Well, I never expected it to take me this long to figure out the puzzle answer. I spent much of last night pouring through lists of common French words as well as English words starting with V and ending with E. My wife was similarly stymied so we gave up and assumed that there must be a typo in the wording of the puzzle. Unfortunately, when I listened to the on-air puzzle, the wording was the same as what is posted. Perhaps it was the clearer head of the morning, but I finally figured out what Will wanted us to do.

It's actually refreshing, for a change, to have a puzzle that takes some time to solve, but I expect there will be some that want to voice a small complaint when the answer is revealed especially since you may find me guilty of not giving a very obvious clue either.

Edit: I think I was actually rather generous with the hints this time:
• "Well, I never expected" --> initial letters spell WINE
• "pouring" --> deliberate misspelling of poring, as in pouring WINE
• "wife + typo" --> WINE
• "clearer head of the morning" --> no personal experience with this, but...
• "what Will wanted" --> string of words starting with W
• "refreshing" --> another indirect hint to a beverage, coupled with France = WINE
• "takes some time" --> as in aging a fine WINE
• "voice a small complaint" --> WHINE
• "Find Me Guilty" --> Movie starring VIN Diesel
• "giving" --> hides the word VIN

• The key for me was actually listening to the on-air puzzle and hearing Will say the puzzle was tricky. But what finally caused the "Aha!" moment was searching for the puzzle submitter "Kate MacDonald" "Murphys, California" and finding her listed as the Winemaker of Stevenot Winery in Murphys, California. In the end this puzzle was challenging but not impossible.
A: French word: VIN, English word: WINE (VV = W)

## Saturday, June 16, 2012

### GeekDad Puzzle of the Week: When Are the Odds Even?

GeekDad Puzzle of the Week: When Are the Odds Even?:
Q: If we have a bag containing equal numbers of black and white marbles, and we pull out one marble, the odds of it being black are even. If we have a bag containing 120 marbles, 85 of which are black, the odds of us pulling out two marbles and them both being black is also even — (85/120)x(84/119) = 0.5 or 50%.

If the largest bag we have can hold 1,000,000 marbles, for how many sets of marbles (i.e., the 120 marbles described above are one set) can we pull two marbles and have a 50% chance of them being the same designated color? Are there any sets of marbles for which we can pull three marbles and have a 50% chance of them being the same designated color? If so, how many?
After the solution is revealed, I'll post the details of my answer.

In the first case you are essentially looking for integer solutions to:
a(a-1) = 2b(b-1)

There are EIGHT sets under 1 million that will result in even odds when 2 balls are drawn.

4 marbles (3 black) --> 4 x 3 = 2(3 x 2)
21 marbles (15 black) --> 21 x 20 = 2(15 x 14)
120 marbles (85 black) --> 120 x 119 = 2(85 x 84)
697 marbles (493 black) --> 697 x 696 = 2(493 x 492)
4,060 marbles (2,871 black) --> 4,060 x 4,059 = 2(2,871 x 2,870)
23,661 marbles (16,731 black) --> 23,661 x 23,660 = 2(16,731 x 16,730)
137,904 marbles (97,513 black) --> 137,904 x 137,903 = 2(97,513 x 97,512)
803,761 marbles (568,345 black) --> 803,761 x 803,760 = 2(568,345 x 568,344)

Interestingly, the next number in each sequence can be computed as follows:
a(n) = 6a(n-1) - a(n-2) - 2

So for example, the next numbers in the sequence would be:
Total balls: 6 x 803,761 - 137,904 - 2 = 4,684,660 marbles
Black balls: 6 x 568,345 - 97,513 - 2 = 3,312,555 black

Integer sequences: A011900 and A046090

In the second case you are looking for integer solutions to:
a(a-1)(a-2) = 2b(b-1)(b-2)

There is only ONE set under 1 million that will result in even odds when 3 balls are drawn.

6 marbles (5 black) --> 6 x 5 x 4 = 2(5 x 4 x 3)

## Thursday, June 14, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 10, 2012): Have a Seat

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 10, 2012): Have a Seat:
Q: Name something to sit on. Divide the letters of this exactly in half. Move the second half to the front, without changing the order of any letters. The result will name some things seen on computers. What are they?
Add the letters D-E-M to the answer, rearrange to name something that might be affected the longer you sit on one of these.

Edit: BARSTOOL + DEM --> BLOODSTREAM
A: BARSTOOL --> TOOLBARS

## Thursday, June 07, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 3, 2012): Stay Tuned

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 3, 2012): Stay Tuned:
Q: Take the names of two state capitals. Change one letter in each one, resulting in a phrase naming someone you will see soon on TV. Who is it? (Hint: You don't really have to know anything about TV to solve this puzzle.)
Whenever I wade through the channels to see what is on TV, I see nothing but re-runs.

Edit: My hint was "wade" which is a hint to the states of WA and DE as well as an indirect hint to water and diving.
A: Olympic Diver
Olympia, WA --> Olympic
Dover, DE --> Diver

## Sunday, June 03, 2012

### GeekDad Puzzle of the Week: Waffle Cuts

GeekDad Puzzle of the Week: Waffle Cuts:
Q: If we only cut along the ridges of a circular waffle, and if each cut traverses the waffle in a straight line from edge to edge, how many different ways can the waffle be cut?
Note: rotations, horizontal flips, and vertical flips of a set of cuts should only be counted once.
Given that there are 6 places to cut vertically and 6 places to cut horizontally, that's a total of 12 cut lines. If you allow for any combination of these 12 lines to be cut or not, you have a total of 2^12 = 4096 ways to divide the waffle. But of course, the puzzle asks for the number of unique ways to cut the waffle, not including any mirrored or rotationally symmetric sets of cuts.

After the official answer to the puzzle is posted, I'll post my solution here.

Edit: The solution is posted, but just the number without any detail. Also, I disagree with their counting of the "no cuts at all" solution as one of the ways to "cut" the waffle. In any case, a full detailing of my solution along with an enumeration of all 665 (or 666) ways to uniquely cut the waffle can be found in Blaine's Solution to the GeekDad Waffle Puzzle.

## Thursday, May 31, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 27, 2012): Types of Wool - Actor Puzzle

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 27, 2012): Types of Wool - Actor Puzzle:
Q: Name two different kinds of wool. Take the first five letters of one, followed by the last three letters of the other. The result will spell the first and last name of a famous actor. Who is it?
Take the actor's first name and add a type of idol. Anagram the letters to get the actor's first movie.

Edit: Al + Matinee = Me, Natalie
A: Alpac(a) + (Mer)ino = Al Pacino

## Saturday, May 26, 2012

That Darn Achilles:
Q: You, Paris, have the luxury of launching an arrow at faraway Achilles either from the ramparts above the Hesperian Gate at a height of exactly 8 meters. Or you can stand atop Priam’s palace. This gains you another 7 meters of launch height, but it costs you 15 meters of horizontal distance. If the arrow leaves your bow at a somewhat modest 70 meters per second, are you best taking your pot-shot at far-off Achilles from the ramparts or the palace? Which perch offers the farthest reach?

I had to look up the formulas for determining the maximum range of a projectile when fired on uneven ground. The following page was invaluable.
Wikipedia: Range of a Projectile

Because several things weren't stated, I'm going to assume that we can use acceleration of gravity (g) at sea level, we can assume no wind resistance and also assume that the ground is level between the target and the firing point (except for the elevation change and horizontal offset provided by the ramparts (0,8) and the palace (-15, 15).

While the ideal case (firing on even ground) results in an optimal angle of 45°, when you are firing from a height, then you want to angle down slightly to maximize distance. I won't bore you with going through the details on that page, but basically there's an equation for the horizontal and vertical positions at time t, given an initial angle (theta) and velocity v. You can then set the final height to be 0 and solve for t. Using that you can get an equation for distance given an angle and by taking the derivative and setting it to zero, you can get a formula for the optimal angle to get the longest distance.

Rampart (x0,y0) = (0,8)
Palace (x0,y0) = (-15,15)
Velocity (v) = 70 m/s
Gravity (g) = 9.80665 m/s^2

Optimal angle (Î¸) = cos-1 [ √(2*g*y0 + v^2) / (2*g*y0 + 2v^2) ]

Rampart angle (Î¸) = 0.777519 Radians or 44.54853°
Palace angle (Î¸) = 0.7708234 Radians or 44.164927°
Distance (d) = [ v*cos Î¸ [v*sin Î¸ + √((v*sin Î¸)^2 + 2*g*y0) ] /g + x0

Rampart distance = 507.5979m
Palace distance = 499.44231m

A: When firing from the ramparts (8m), the optimal angle is around 44.55° and will net you a distance of 507.6 meters.

When firing from the palace (15m), the optimal angle is around 44.16° but because of the -15m offset you only reach 499.4 meters.

## Thursday, May 24, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 20, 2012): Present and Past Tense Verbs

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 20, 2012): Present and Past Tense Verbs:
Q: Think of a common three-letter word and five-letter word that together consist of eight different letters of the alphabet. Put the same pair of letters in front of each of these words, and you will have the present and past tense forms of the same verb. What words are these?
I appear to be drawing a blank...

Edit: My hints were "drawing" (with ink) and "blank" (as in zero/ought). In the comments I had other hints like "I'm not kidding" (i.n.k.), "last decade" (the oughts), "Oops, unfortunately good hints take..." (o.u.g.h.t.), "I now know" (i.n.k.), "I figured" (thought) and "just assume" (think).
A: INK & OUGHT --> THINK & THOUGHT

## Thursday, May 17, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 13, 2012): Capital Profession

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 13, 2012): Capital Profession:
Q: Name a state capital. Change one of the vowels to another vowel and say the result phonetically. You will name a revered profession. What is it?
While I initially was down with a different answer, I realized that Will included the word phonetically for a reason.

Edit: My hint was "While I initially" which means take the initial letters of "While I" (WI) to get the state. The different answer that some came up with is Dover/Diver, but it isn't necessary to pronounce diver phonetically, so that isn't the intended answer.
A: Madison (Wisconsin) --> "Medison" = Medicine

## Sunday, May 13, 2012

Coffee Conundrum II:
Q: Each cup of coffee gives me a jolt and then the jolt decays across time according to the following equation (t in minutes): Jitters=10-[(t-10)^2]/10
So at minute 10 after consuming a cup of coffee (which, for the purposes of this puzzle happens instantly), I reach a maximum of 10 jitters. At a combined 20 jitters, I go catatonic. With what frequency can I instantly consume coffee without the combined jitters passing this important tipping point?
The diagram shows the exact tipping point situation. Focus on the red curve which is the second cup of coffee. Right at the middle of the parabola, the second cup is at its maximum (10 jitters). At this point, the effects of the first cup are diminishing and the effects of the third cup are increasing. Notice, because of symmetry, they have the exact same value when they cross. The tipping point will be when cup 1 is contributing 5 jitters, cup 2 is at its maximum of 10 jitters and cup 3 is also contributing 5 jitters (5+10+5 = 20). (Note you can extend this diagram out to 4 cups, 5 cups, etc. but you'll never have more than 3 cups contributing to the total jitters at once. If you did, you'd definitely be over the tipping point of 20.)

As stated in the puzzle, the height of one parabolic curve is given by the formula:
Jitters = 10 - [ ( t - 10 ) ^ 2 ] / 10

Solving this for a Jitters value of 5 we have:
5 = 10 - [ ( t - 10 ) ^ 2] / 10
-5 = -[ ( t - 10 ) ^ 2] / 10
5 = [ ( t - 10 ) ^ 2] / 10
50 = ( t - 10 )^2
t - 10 = √50
t = 10 ± √50
t = 10 ± 5√2

That means that the coffee Jitters are at a height of 5 either 5√2 seconds before the peak or 5√2 seconds after the peak. This also happens to be the minimum frequency between cups (5√2 seconds or approximately 7.071068 seconds apart) to avoid jitters.

If you can handle exactly 20 jitters without going catatonic, then you could handle drinking cups of coffee every 5√2 seconds (≈7.071068 seconds)

If you must stay under 20 jitters, then you would have to pick a frequency just over every 5√2 seconds.
A: Frequency of 5√2 seconds (or approximately every 7.0710678118654752440084436210484903928483593768847403 seconds)

## Thursday, May 10, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 6, 2012): Bronte Sisters Turn a Phrase

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 6, 2012): Bronte Sisters Turn a Phrase:
Q: Using only the six letters of the name "Bronte," repeating them as often as necessary, spell a familiar six-word phrase. What is it?
The Bronte Sisters grew up in a small village called Haworth. The question is whether this is relevant to the puzzle.

Edit: A small village is a hamlet and the famous soliloquy continues with "...that is the question".
A: To be, or not to be

## Thursday, May 03, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 29, 2012): Capital Punishment

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 29, 2012): Capital Punishment:
Q: Name the capital of a country that, when said out loud, sounds like a three-word phrase. This phrase might describe the reason why the police did not catch a barefoot thief. What is the capital, and what is the reason?
We seem to have a pretty characteristic Will Shortz puzzle involving countries, phrases and sounds.

My clue was "characteristic" which contains the letters of the country name in order (cHarActerIsTIc). I'm not going to get into a debate on the French vs. anglicized pronunciation of the capital city. Will must have heard it pronounced "port-oh-prints" just like I have. Get it? The police weren't able to identify the barefoot thief because all they had were "poor toe prints."
A: Port-au-prince & "Poor toe prints"

## Thursday, April 26, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 22, 2012): Vs lbh pna ernq guvf, lbh'er n trrx!

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 22, 2012): Vs lbh pna ernq guvf, lbh'er n trrx!:
Q: Think of a common man's name in four letters, one syllable. Move each letter exactly halfway around the alphabet. For example, A would become N, N would become A, and B would become O. The result will be a common woman's name in two syllables. What names are these?
Am I the only one that thinks there should be a couple more letters at the end of the man's name or can we agree that it's more of a nickname?

P.S. I'm heading out to nearby a narrow gorge and will have to ponder this further as I sit beside the river.

Edit: My initial hint was for Trev (or) which becomes Geri (be). Both 'or' and 'be' were hinted at. My second clue was for a "narrow gorge" (glen) and "beside the river" (banks).
A: GLEN & TYRA

## Thursday, April 19, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 15, 2012): Initially Famous Novel

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 15, 2012): Initially Famous Novel:
Q: Name a famous novel in two words. The first word has five letters, and the second word has 11. If you have the right novel, the initial letters of the novel's title, reversed, are the initials of its author. What's the novel, and who is the author?
With audio books or e-Readers, I wonder if physical novels are vanishing, to become a thing of the past?

Edit: The words "audio books ... e-Readers" start with AB...E with the missing letters being CD. Then of course there's the "vanishing" reference to tie in with magician David Copperfield.
A: David Copperfield --> Charles Dickens

## Thursday, April 12, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 8, 2012): Three Consecutive Letters

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 8, 2012): Three Consecutive Letters:
Q: Name an article of clothing that contains three consecutive letters of the alphabet consecutively in the word. For example, "canopy" contains the consecutive letters N-O-P. This article of clothing is often worn in a country that's name also contains three consecutive letters of the alphabet together. What is the clothing article, and what is the country?
Does anyone know if the dye in Easter eggs will leave a permanent stain? My fingers are now blue, pink and yellow.

Edit: The hint was "stain" which anagrams to "istan". Add that to the article of clothing to get the country. Also, the picture above has the 3 letters FGH appearing more prominently than the others.
A: A(fgh)an* --> A(fgh)anistan
*alternatively others have suggested hijab.

## Thursday, April 05, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 1, 2012): Take Me Out to the Ball Game

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 1, 2012): Take Me Out to the Ball Game:
Q: Name some things seen at a baseball game. This is a two-word phrase, four letters in each word. Change one letter in each word to a new letter to get a new two-word phrase that names a popular music group of the past. Name the group.
For some reason, I'm thinking of tulips.

Edit: "of tulips" anagrams to foul tips
A: FOUL TIPS -> FOUR TOPS
(alternatively, some have suggested "foul pops" as the baseball phrase.)

## Thursday, March 29, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 25, 2012): In the News...

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 25, 2012): In the News...:
Q: Think of a much-discussed subject in the news. Two words (five letters in the first, six letters in the last). The letters of the five-letter word can be rearranged to get the first five letters of the six-letter word. The six-letter word ends in a Y. What's the subject?
Kind of...

Edit: A kind of book or movie would be a genre which is an anagram of the 5 letters.
A: GREEN ENERGY

## Thursday, March 22, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 18, 2012): This Puzzle is No Sweat

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 18, 2012): This Puzzle is No Sweat:
Q: Take the phrase "no sweat." Using only these seven letters, and repeating them as often as necessary, can you make a familiar four-word phrase? It's 15 letters long. What is it?
Don't forget, you should use every letter at least once.

Edit: In other words, don't waste any letters because you know what they say...
A: Waste not, want not

## Thursday, March 15, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 11, 2012): Warning! Puzzle Contains I-L-E-H

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 11, 2012): Warning! Puzzle Contains I-L-E-H:
Q: The answer is a two-word name. Inside this name are the consecutive letters I-L-E-H. Remove these four letters, and the remaining letters in order will name something commonly found inside the original thing with the two-word name. What is it?
It may sound hard at first, but this is a piece of cake.

Edit: The hint was "cake" which if you were breaking out of jail might hold a file (file holder = cake)
A: FILE HOLDER - ILEH = FOLDER

## Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bigger than Googol!:
Q: What is the first Fibonacci number bigger than a googol?
This was relatively easy in Haskell:

let fib = 0 : 1 : zipWith (+) fib (tail fib)
let answer = [ (n, fib!!n) | n <- [1..1000], (fib!!(n-1) <= 10^100) && (fib!!n > 10^100) ]
(481,14913169640232740127827512057302148063648650711209401966150219926546779697987984279570098768737999681)

A: F(481) is the first Fibonacci number greater than googol. The numerical value is given above, but just for fun here's that number in words:
fourteen duotrigintillion, nine hundred thirteen untrigintillion, one hundred sixty-nine trigintillion, six hundred forty novemvigintillion, two hundred thirty-two octovigintillion, seven hundred forty septemvigintillion, one hundred twenty-seven sesvigintillion, eight hundred twenty-seven quinquavigintillion, five hundred twelve quattuorvigintillion, fifty-seven tresvigintillion, three hundred two duovigintillion, one hundred forty-eight unvigintillion, sixty-three vigintillion, six hundred forty-eight novemdecillion, six hundred fifty octodecillion, seven hundred eleven septendecillion, two hundred nine sexdecillion, four hundred one quindecillion, nine hundred sixty-six quattuordecillion, one hundred fifty tredecillion, two hundred nineteen duodecillion, nine hundred twenty-six undecillion, five hundred forty-six decillion, seven hundred seventy-nine nonillion, six hundred ninety-seven octillion, nine hundred eighty-seven septillion, nine hundred eighty-four sextillion, two hundred seventy-nine quintillion, five hundred seventy quadrillion, ninety-eight trillion, seven hundred sixty-eight billion, seven hundred thirty-seven million, nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, six hundred eighty-one

## Thursday, March 08, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 4, 2012): Can't see the Forest for the Trees

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 4, 2012): Can't see the Forest for the Trees:
Q: Take the trees hemlock, myrtle, oak and pine. Rearrange the letters in their names to get four other trees, with one letter left over. What trees are they?

Edit: If you take the consonants in "monkey" you get the last letters of each of the trees.
A: ELM, LEMON, TEAK and HICKORY (with P left over)

## Thursday, March 01, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 26, 2012): The Best Actor Oscar Goes to...

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 26, 2012): The Best Actor Oscar Goes to...:
Q: Name a bird. Change its second letter to an E to get the first name of a famous actor. Then name the female of that bird, and double one of its letters. You'll get the last name of this actor. What are the birds, and who is the actor?
Little House on the Prairie?

Edit: One of the first roles for this actor was an uncredited part as "Kid" on Little House on the Prairie. Can you spot him?
A: SWAN & PEN --> SEAN PENN

## Thursday, February 23, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 19, 2012): Adjoining States Puzzle

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 19, 2012): Adjoining States Puzzle:
Q: The word "marten," as in the animal, consists of the beginning letters of "Mississippi," "Arkansas," "Texas," and "New Mexico"; you can actually drive from Mississippi to Arkansas to Texas to New Mexico in that order. What is the longest common English word you can spell by taking the beginning letters of consecutive states in order as you travel through them? Puzzlemaster Will Shortz's answer has eight letters, but maybe you can top that.
I see a number of ways to match Will's answer but I'm still working on a way to top him.

Edit: The first word I found was millions, hence the clue above about "a number"
A: Assuming we can't visit a state more than once and we can't cross the four-corners diagonally, I have these words:

Common words:
omissions = oklahoma, missouri, iowa, nebraska, south dakota
ketamines = kentucky, tennessee, arkansas, missouri, nebraska, south dakota
millions = missouri, illinois, iowa, nebraska, south dakota
missions = missouri, iowa, nebraska, south dakota
misstate = missouri, tennessee, arkansas, texas
vitamins = virginia, tennessee, arkansas, missouri, nebraska, south dakota

Less common words:
illimitate = illinois, missouri, tennessee, arkansas, texas
artemisin = arkansas, tennessee, missouri, iowa, nebraska
coregnant = california, oregon, nevada, arizona, new mexico, texas
coregonid = california, oregon, idaho
florigens = florida, georgia, north carolina, south carolina
miltomate = mississippi, louisiana, texas, oklahoma, missouri, arkansas, tennessee
nevermass = new hampshire, vermont, massachusetts
virgining = virginia, north carolina, georgia
floriage = florida, alabama, georgia
floriate = florida, alabama, tennessee
misagent = mississippi, alabama, georgia, north carolina, tennessee
misatone = missouri, arkansas, texas, oklahoma, new mexico

Finally if you are going to allow repeated visits to the same state, I have:
non-omissions = new mexico, oklahoma, new mexico, oklahoma, missouri, iowa, nebraska, south dakota
amalgamate = arkansas, mississippi, alabama, georgia, alabama, mississippi, arkansas, tennessee
amalgamist = arkansas, mississippi, alabama, georgia, alabama, mississippi, tennessee
mononomial = missouri, oklahoma, new mexico, oklahoma, new mexico, oklahoma, missouri, arkansas, louisiana
... and quite a few shorter words

## Thursday, February 16, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 12, 2012): Two Fictional Characters? Who Says?

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 12, 2012): Two Fictional Characters? Who Says?:
Q: Name two fictional characters — the first one good, the second one bad. Each is a one-word name. Drop the last letter of the name of the first character. Read the remaining letters in order from left to right. The result will be a world capital. What is it?
By the way, I'm with you - cool puzzle!

Edit: The title of the puzzle was poking fun at Will and whether or not Santa Claus is real. The other hints were By the Way and I'm With You which are albums by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the word cool which could be a synonym for chilly.
A: Sant(a) + Iago = Santiago (Chile)

## Thursday, February 09, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 5, 2012): A Stern Elk and a Rattlesnake?

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 5, 2012): A Stern Elk and a Rattlesnake?:
Q: Name an animal. Add the letters "A" and "T," and rearrange the result to name another animal. These are both animals that might be found in a zoo, and the last letter of the first animal is the first letter of the last one.
I was surprised to find the second animal has a longer lifespan than the first and will often weigh more.

Edit: Gorillas have a lifespan of 35 to 40 years while American alligators will live to 50+ in the wild. An adult male gorilla weighs around 400 lbs. while an adult American alligator will weigh around 800 lbs.
A: GORILLA + AT --> ALLIGATOR

## Thursday, February 02, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 29, 2012): An Equation for 2012

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 29, 2012): An Equation for 2012:
Q: Write the digits from 1 to 9 in a line. If you put a plus sign after the 2, a times sign after the 4, and plus signs after the 6 and 8, the line shows 12 + 34 x 56 + 78 + 9, which equals 2003. That's nine years off from our current year 2012. This example uses four arithmetic symbols. The object is to use just three of the following arithmetic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, in a line from 1 to 9 to get 2012 exactly. The operations should be performed in order from left to right. There are no tricks to this puzzle. Can you do it?
I was just about to retire for the evening, but I figured you might need some assistance in solving the puzzle, so your help is... Gee, how do I give you a hint to a math puzzle?

Edit: The hints were "retire" (Social Security Administration = SSA = subtract, subtract, add) and "assistance" and "help" (411 = number of digits to group together, with 3 being assumed for the remaining digits).
A: 1234 - 5 - 6 + 789 = 2012

## Thursday, January 26, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 15 and 22, 2012): Two Week TV Title Challenge

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 15, 2012): Two Week TV Title Challenge:
NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 22, 2012): Two Week TV Title Challenge (cont.):
Q: This is a special two-week creative challenge. Combine the titles of some TV shows, past or present, into an amusing sentence or statement. Here are 3 examples:
"TODAY / SISTERS / NAME THAT TUNE / FATHER KNOWS BEST,"
"DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES / BEWITCHED / MY THREE SONS / ONE DAY AT A TIME,"
"I'VE GOT A SECRET / MURDER, SHE WROTE / THE F.B.I."
Entries will be judged on their sense, naturalness of syntax, humor, originality, familiarity of the TV shows named, and overall effect. No more than three sentences per entry, please.
Not much to say, but here's list of television shows that might be useful.

A: "The Nanny / Lost / All My Children." (Will's pick submitted by Patrick B. of Jasper, AL)

## Thursday, January 12, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 8, 2012): Make a Game of Finding Car Parts

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 8, 2012): Make a Game of Finding Car Parts:
Q: Name four parts of a car that are also terms used in a particular game. One of the parts is spelled in three letters, two of them in five letters each, and one has six letters. Two places a car might go are also terms used in the game. What game is it, and what are the terms?
Musical Hint: Wake Up Little Susie

Edit: Wake Up Little Susie is a song by the Everly Brothers. Another song (their last top 40 hit) is "Bowling Green."
A: Car parts: Pin, Frame, Spare, Bumper
Places: Lane, Alley
Sport: Bowling
Note: Will may accept alternate words or answers.

## Thursday, January 05, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 1, 2012): Sport Scores and Another Sport

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 1, 2012): Sport Scores and Another Sport:
Q: Name certain scores in a certain sport. This is a two-word phrase with a total of 10 letters (5 letters in each word). If you have the right phrase, you can rearrange all the letters to name a different sport, also in two words (6 letters in the first word, 4 in the second). What are the scores, and what is the sport?
Looks like we are back to anagrams. Perhaps Will wants to start off the year with something familiar. Generally I despise anagrams, but this puzzle was enjoyable. Anyway, the puzzle isn't too difficult so do you think I need to provide a hint or two?

Edit: Read the first letter of each of the sentences above and you'll get LPGA. I also stopped my counting before I got to four ("Fore!")
A: FIELD GOALS --> LADIES GOLF