Thursday, January 03, 2013

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 30, 2012): U.S. Four Cities Tour

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 30, 2012): U.S. Four Cities Tour:
Q: First, name a U.S. state capital. Rearrange its letters to spell the name of another American city. Remove one letter and read the result backward to spell a third American city. Finally, move the first letter of that to the end to spell a fourth American city. The cities are in four different states. What are they?
You guys are so good at this that I don't think you need a clue. But if you have solved it, you'll notice the state names have something in common. On an unrelated note, I like how RALEIGH (North Carolina) anagrams into HAIR GEL (or LEG HAIR). :)

Edit: "guys" is a synonym of "males" which is an anagram of the first two cities. And all the states start with vowels.
A: SALEM (Oregon), SELMA (Alabama), AMES (Iowa), MESA (Arizona)

91 comments:

  1. 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.

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  2. Long ago in a city in Spain,
    An abusive husband was deservedly slain.
    Awaiting the verdict, good Glenda sipped tea,
    As the king marched in and read the decree.
    "Guilty of murder, make ready for God!"
    Hs sentenced poor Glenda to the firing squad.

    The marksman peered carefully through his long scope,
    For the blindfolded woman, no justice, no hope.
    'Tis better to die quickly with a shot to the head,
    Than to burn at the stake or hang till you're dead,
    On a table in Cádiz, its last resting place,
    Lies the body of Glenda, in fine Spanish lace.


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    Replies
    1. That was beautiful, man. It brings a tear to my eye just like the song, "We Three Kings."

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    2. Wow Zeke, I knew the rain in Spain fell mainly on the Bethlehem plain, but I had no idea them wuz yer tears. You big ole good-hearted sentimental lug. ;-)

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    3. We'uns hillbillies got a soft spot for even flatlanders.

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    4. That's sweet of ya, Zeke. Unfortunately, I happen to be an ODD flatlander. Furthermore, yer demonstrated wit would seem to indicate that you are what appears to be an "educated" hillbilly (a hill-william, perhaps??)

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    5. Oll kerrect, bromigo. Seveth grade wuz the best three years of my life.

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  3. A puzzle which is more of the same. Can't wait for the Notre Dame game.

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  4. To go along with your clue, Blaine, the listener who submitted the puzzle's state has the same characteristic.

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  5. When the puzzle came online I posted this at the end of our last blog:

    "Art always comes to mind when I think of this place, which is ridiculous when you think of it."

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  6. The supremacy of males is a concept deranged,
    And should post haste by rearranged or changed.
    Like the nation of states that once were found under
    The Mason Dixon where some shared no wonder.

    But target not arrows toward men who aren't tanned,
    Rather work to bring justice and a flat of the land,
    For a broad level field will doubtless ensure,
    Equality for all and relief for the poor.

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    Replies
    1. I see we have a real Carl Sandstone in our midst.

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    2. You tryin' to say my poems are rubble, Barney? I mean, just because I've never been able get published and when my Wilma died, I was forced to sell all her outfits to Tina Turner, that's no reason to throw rocks. I think you need to stick yer foot through the floorboards and put the brakes on these insults, SkyDiveBoy---lest I be forced to withdraw my heartwarming holiday greeting from last week.

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    3. AbG:

      So many references to the Flintstones in that one reply of yours, I thought that the U.S. state capital must be Little Rock!

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  7. Is anyone else having problems submitting the answer again? I have tried to submit mine several times and it is not going through. (This is not a clue!)

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    Replies
    1. Same deal. It just went blank. Try later tonight.

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    2. I see whatcha mean, Jutch. Submitting the answer this week is like trying to pass Civil Rights legislation or avoid the fiscal cliff... People have been complaining from Dallas to Fresno, although there have been no complaints in Texas interestingly enough... I called my congressman, Rep. Lewis (D), who happens to be in DC this weekend, but he said the doors to the NPR building were locked and being guarded by a mean lookin' sheriff with some big dogs.

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    3. I didn't have any problems submitting.

      Chuck

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    4. I could not get it to go through in Windows 8. I finally got it to go through in a computer that still had Vista. Is it possibly a glitch with Windows 8? So many of you know the workings of the computer. Just curious if that is a possibility. Is this something I should report or is it something with my computer? Appreciate any comment. Thanks.
      Bev

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    5. A problem with a brand new Microsoft operating system! Who would have believed it? Well, I mean other than everyone.

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  8. Blaine, the four state names do indeed have something in common -- and three of the four have a SECOND common characteristic....

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    Replies
    1. Actually, they have THREE common characteristics. Details to follow next year.

      Happy New Year everyone!

      LMP

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    2. The three things they have in common:

      1. They are the 3 states whose cities that are not part of the solution are not their state capitals
      2. The names of the 3 states all end in "A"
      3. The 3 cities are all in close proximity (same or adjacent county) to the capital of their respective states

      LMP

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    3. typo in first sentence: "They are the 3 states whose cities that are part of the solution...."

      LMP

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  9. I just submitted my solution, so it must have been fixed. I also received their confirmation reply.

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  10. Same here. It's working now.

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    Replies
    1. Oops. Both of mine just went through. They'll boot me fer sher. as some smart allecky mountaineer.

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. Read the initial letters of the four cities backwards to name another state, briefly.

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    Replies
    1. No, see, I'm just a square.

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    2. I knew if I waited long enough someone would post a clue that would allow me to solve the puzzle. Thanks Jan.

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  13. Sorry to note only 50% overlap between my 10 new names in the news and Will's. I have to say, though, neither Mohamed Morsi nor Oscar Pistorius was new to me in 2012. Oh, well, there's always next year...

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  14. My mind kept returning to an interesting musical group from back in the day. I still have one of their albums.

    Chuck

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    Replies
    1. "March Madness." Yeah, Sousa rocks! I have that one too.

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  15. Regarding the initials of the four states, as a retired RN I am just sick and tired of the whole thing.

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  16. These cities vary wildly in population. Collectively, their population comes to 96,977 more than the entire state of Wyoming. But, that's not saying much; I live in a metropolitan area that has about five and a half times the population of Wyoming.

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  17. I think this can be solved by trial and error...whichever is easier!

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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  19. Yeah, be like Columbus. Reach your goal by talkin the talk and walkin the walk but be careful around the edges of earth

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  20. Has anyone noticed this puzzle can be continued like last week's? You can anagram the letters in the last city's name to describe something the first city's name has in common with another city.

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  21. Replies
    1. Wasn't that the title of Julia Childs's first cook book?

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    2. "I Spy Stir Fry" or "Cooking the Sleuth Gooth."

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  22. To solve this puzzle, I sought out warmer climes. After a brief stop, I travelled further, only to encounter severe storms. I panicked, so I marched to it and nervously lit up a cigarette.

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    Replies
    1. Are you sure about Butte, Montana?
      Hippo gnu ears, heavy bodies :-)
      Zeke

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    2. I worked backwards, and obtained the answer thusly:

      I sought out warmer climes--in MESA

      I encountered severe storms--a cyclone, the nickname for the sports teams of Iowa State University, which is in AMES

      I marched--to SELMA, site of a voting rights march

      and nervously lit up a cigarette--SALEM, of course

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  23. Take the name of a US city, drop the first letter, and you have the name of another US city. These two US cities may also be the only such cities to appear on the same exit sign.

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    Replies
    1. The exit sign stipulation seems to rule out Trenton & Renton.

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    2. Correction: When you drop the first letter from the name of the first US city, you have PHONETICALLY the name of a second US city. The exit sign criteria still holds. These two US cities may be the such pair of cities to appear on the same exit sign.

      BTW, the colleges from my anagrams that I submitted a few weeks ago are:

      I HATE SOOT--Ohio State

      A WISE HOLY ONE--Ohio Wesleyan

      I THEN SLICE A BRAIN--Abilene Chistian

      and my hypothetical student ED needs a BRAIN to do well in college, making the possesive form ED'S BRAIN, which anagrams into BRANDEIS. This one came to me while hearing an NPR story that mentioned Brandeis University (of course, it's also the last name of the US Supreme Court justice for whom the school is named). Colleges make for some interesting anagrams, which would make a great blog.

      Happy New Year everyone!

      LMP

      Happy New Year, everyone!

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    3. All right! I was seriously considering challenging you for overlooking a pesky "e", but I was afraid to give too much away. In the meanting I found two towns in Ontario that--except for not being in the U.S., of course--fit your primary criterion, though they too far apart and too small to expect to find on the same exit sign.

      At any rate, thanks for the clarification!

      -- "Crash"

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    4. I think I solved the exit sign cities. The sign stipulation rules out BOSTON and AUSTIN. The two intended cities have the same number of letters, right? (If not, I have another answer, but I'm sure this must be the one you meant.)

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    5. The cities in question are Nashville and Asheville, which are the control cities (this is highway engineering-speak for the next major destination shown on an exit sign) on signs for westbound and eastbound, respectively, Interstate 40, in Knoxville, Tennessee.

      When I saw these names while driving through Knoxville a number of years ago (in the postcard days as far as puzzle eras are concerned), I thought this was an amazing coincidence and itself would make for a good puzzle challenge for Will.

      Also, thanks to Orangebus and Ben for their insights about the "e" in Asheville and the 2 cities having the same number of letters.

      I'm curious what Orangebus' two Canadian cities are and Ben's other pair is. Hope you're both checking this blog for updates and can satisfy my curiousity!

      Finally, I take issue with Will's challenge where Fort Lauderdale was the answer. I do not regard Fort Lauderdale as a major city. Well-known, yes, major, no. Also, this week's challenge did require some effort, as I do not consider the 3 non-state capital cities as being major cities, but like Fort Lauderdale, are well-known to most NPR listeners (Ames--college town, home of NPR affiliate WOI, Mesa--huge suburb of Phoenix, Selma--for its historic voting rights march).

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    6. All rightie then, Prof. L. Math! Take a look at a good map (I'm using a AAA Road Atlas, for example) and check the eastern tip of the province of Ontario against the western tip of Lake Ontario. With a little effort, you should notice a name that might remind you of a middlin' city in Pennsylvania, as well as smaller localities in several other States--as well, of course, as another name with a letter conspicuously absent.

      -- "Crash"

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  24. From the Will Shortz challenge, taking the fourth city, two letter postal abbreviations of three states can be found in the first and second letters, the first and third letters, and the first and fourth letters!

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  25. For last week's puzzle, anyone else get (Michael) Keaton -> (Charles Warren) Eaton -> Aton (Egyptian sun god)? Will mentions it was a god from classical mythology, but Odin is Norse, no more Greco-Roman than Ancient Egyptian deities.

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    Replies
    1. Wow! Very good! I too, thought there was a cultural bias involved in the assumptions the question made.

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  26. I see jsulbyrne posted the same alternate last week

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  27. This puzzle totally confounds me. I've been anagramming all the Capitals, starting with the shortest and working up. Can't find anything. Working backward I get Reno from Oren; but how can I remove two "T"s and an "N" from Trenton!

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    Replies
    1. just take a walk in the park have a seat and smell the roses before going to your destination

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    2. I had the same experience as Uncle John. We just need to find a new anagrammer.

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  28. It's my puzzle this week. Just out of curiosity, did people here find it difficult? (Given the talent of this crowd, I expect not...)

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    Replies
    1. I found it harder than the Grodin/Rodin/Odin one by a long shot.

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    2. Thanks, Ben Made me work, think through without frustrating me

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    3. Lots of fun. This bunch is a riot to play with. Thanks for the puzzle. Is that you in the sharp outfit?

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  29. Congrats, listener Ben Bass of Chicago! Not particularly difficult, but certainly a legitimate puzzle.

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  30. I thought it was a good puzzle, Ben. One nice thing about state and state capital puzzles - there's a small, finite number of possible answers :)

    Chuck

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  31. SALEM, OREGON; SELMA, ALABAMA; AMES, IOWA; & MESA, ARIZONA

    MY HINTS:

    "Art always comes to mind when I think of this place, which is ridiculous when you think of it."

    Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible, a play about the Salem witch trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Clearly this is not the Salem the puzzle is referring to, but it lent itself to this hint and another I provided in a later post.

    "Has anyone noticed this puzzle can be continued like last week's? You can anagram the letters in the last city's name to describe something the first city's name has in common with another city."

    AMES & MESA anagram to SAME. Salem, Oregon and Salem, Massachusetts have the SAME name. I wonder if anyone noticed the unintended (I believe) hint where Dave posted: "Same here. It's working now." This was referring to the NPR web site being down earlier.

    To Ben:
    I thought this was a better than usual WS puzzle. It was quick and easy for me to find the answer by simply looking at a list of state capitals, but it still required some knowledge of other cities.

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  32. Salem, Selma, Ames, Mesa

    Last Sunday I said, “My mind kept returning to an interesting musical group from back in the day. I still have one of their albums.” The group is a Jazz and New Age group from back in the 70s, Oregon. The capital of Oregon is Salem.

    Chuck

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  33. "I think this can be solved by trial and error...whichever is easier!" included "trial" and "which"ever, references to Salem witch trial.

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  34. Long ago in a city in Spain,
    An abusive husband was deservedly slain.
    Awaiting the verdict, good Glenda (WITCH OF OZ) sipped tea,
    As the (MARTIN LUTHER) king marched in (SELMA)and read the decree.
    "Guilty of murder, make ready for God!"
    Hs sentenced poor Glenda to the firing squad.

    The marksman peered carefully (AMES) through his long scope,
    For the blindfolded woman, no justice, no hope.
    'Tis better to die quickly with a shot to the head,
    Than to burn at the stake (SALEM WITCH TRIALS) or hang till you're dead,
    On a table in Cádiz (MESA SPANISH WORD FOR TABLE), its last resting place,
    Lies the body of Glenda, in fine Spanish lace.

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    The supremacy of males (SALEM REARRANGED) is a concept deranged,
    And should post haste by rearranged or changed.
    Like the nation of states that once were found under
    The Mason Dixon where some shared no wonder (SHARE THE WONDER IS ONE OF ALABAMA'S STATE SLOGANS).

    But target not arrows (AMES) toward men who aren't tanned,
    Rather work to bring justice and a flat of the land (MESA),
    For a broad level field (MESA) will doubtless ensure,
    Equality for all and relief for the poor.


    ReplyDelete
  35. WE THREE KINGS - MLK in SELMA,
    also some numbies in SELMA desire
    to erect a statue to the founder of thr KKK.

    FLATLANDERS - MESA

    SOME SMART ALECKY MOUNTAINEER -
    SALEM SELMA AMRS MESA

    SOUSA'S "MARCH MADNESS" - SEMA
    surprised I didn't bet bounced.

    YER BLOWIN SMOKE - previous clue of
    SAME for the two SALEMs

    HOME ON THE RANGE - SELMA as in "...
    where SELMA is heard a discouraging
    word..." That should float if taking aim
    for AMEs does :-) Besides it does work for MESA

    BUTTE - cigarette butt - SALEM

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  36. Just testing to see if I can log in here with my Wordpress blog account, too...

    - Curtis

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    Replies
    1. "Perhaps you found some gem out in the wilderness."
      Many gems are not Diamonds, I confess, but there is a Road in the Wilderness; cf. A.J.Muste, Elwin Wilson.
      R.I.P., Miss Lillian.

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  37. Next week's challenge from Sam Loyd: This challenge appeared in a puzzle column in the Woman's Home Companion in January 1913, exactly 100 years ago. Draw a square that is four boxes by four boxes per side, containing altogether 16 small boxes and 18 lines (across, down and diagonal). There are 10 ways to have four boxes in a line — four horizontal rows, four vertical columns, plus the two long diagonals. There are also eight other shorter diagonals of two or three squares each. The object is to place markers in 10 of the boxes so that as many of the lines as possible have either two or four markers. What is the maximum number of lines that can have either two or four markers, and how do you do it?

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  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  39. It took me way too long to figure out what Will meant by "18 lines". I think he means 18 lines of 2 or more boxes. For the purposes of discussion, let's number the boxes 1-4 from left to right across the top row, then 5-8 in the next row, etc., with 13-16 from left to right in the bottom row.

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  40. Note that an equivolent (and perhaps simpler) restatement of the problem is to only place 6 markers so that as many of the lines as possible have either zero or two markers.

    I propose we number the squares:
    ╔═══╤═══╤═══╤═══╗
    ║ 1 │ 2 │ 3 │ 4 ║
    ╟───┼───┼───┼───╢
    ║ 5 │ 6 │ 7 │ 8 ║
    ╟───┼───┼───┼───╢
    ║ 9 │10 │11 │12 ║
    ╟───┼───┼───┼───╢
    ║13 │14 │15 │16 ║
    ╚═══╧═══╧═══╧═══╝
    (I realize the above square looks crummy here, but if you select it, copy it, and paste it into a simple text file, it should look great! Oh, how I WISH we could use the <font face="Courier"> tag!)
    ...and submit our solutions by listing which six numbers we chose to OMIT!

    Blaine, will you be deleting posts in which people report how many lines they were able to achieve? If anyone out there found a way to get at least 14 lines, I'd like to know!

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    Replies
    1. You may like to know, but if Blaine deletes posts in which people report how many lines they were able to achieve (which would be reasonable), you'll have to wait until Thursday!

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    2. I've just realized that anyone trying to paste my square diagram above into a new file created in their text editor will not be happy. If you're using EditPad (EditPad Lite will do), Select Convert, Text Encoding, and then select Unicode UTF-8. THEN you can paste the text and get the diagram.

      As a favor to anyone who likes to do Sudoku puzzles, but wishes they could do them on their computer using a simple text editor, I've made a Sudoku Template using the same box drawing characters I've used in the square above. Its available at http://users.az.com/~jwaters/Puzzles/Sudoku/SudokuTemplate.txt

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    3. Enya_and_Weird_Al_fan, I would like to point out that it is not equivalent to restate the problem as you claim. To discover why, consider from the perspective of your restatement what happens to any of the diagonals consisting of three boxes, or any of the two-box diagonals were they to contain two markers. In the first case, they would translate to containing either three or one markers, neither of which counts in the original problem; in the second case, they would translate to containing no markers, which would also not qualify.

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    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  41. I think this week's on-air player, Zvi Rosen, a Ph.D. student in math at Berkeley, would have no problem with next week's puzzle. Coincidentally, Will introduced the on-air puzzle, which involved adding a letter to the word YEAR and anagramming, with an example using B, for "maker of aspirin" = BAYER. Rosen's website includes an exposition of a paper by an author named Bayer.

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