Sunday, January 03, 2016

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 3, 2016): The Cat's Away...

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 3, 2016): The Cat's Away...

I'm unable to post the puzzle this week, but I didn't want to leave you without a place to post comments on the puzzle. Somebody help me out by posting a copy here. Then feel free to add your *hints*.

Here's my standard reminder... don't post the answer or any outright spoilers 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. Thank you.
A: By adding/subtracting a letter each time, you can go from WHOLE to HEART in six steps. WHOLE —> HOLE, HOE, HOER, HER, HEAR —> HEART.

119 comments:

  1. Next week's challenge: This is a variation on the old word ladder puzzle. The object is to change WHOLE to HEART by either adding or subtracting one letter at a time, making a new, common, uncapitalized word at each step.

    For example, you can change RED to ROSE in five steps. Starting with RED, you could add a U, making RUED; drop the D, leaving RUE; add an S, making RUSE; add an O, making ROUSE, and then drop the U, leaving ROSE.

    Changing or rearranging letters is not allowed, neither are plurals or verbs formed by adding -S. No word in the chain can have fewer than three letters.

    How many steps are needed to change WHOLE to HEART? I have my best answer. We'll compare results next week.

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  2. Happy new year, gang.
    Really to give your whole heart one must first do away with the man.
    Just sayin'. :)

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    1. zeke creek, I beg respectfully to differ. One must first do away with the OWL. (See SuperZee's Sun Jan 03, 06:57:00 AM PST comment.)
      Just disagreein'. :)

      LegoHastensToAdd:...AndThenWelcomeInSomeFowl

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    2. Man actually deals with a number that coincides with the steps.
      Ol' hoot owl Zeke.

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    3. My apologies, zeke, you wily one! I shoulda known.

      LegoAdmitsOl'HootOwlZekeIsTooWiseForFoghornLegohorn

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  3. I have an answer that is 6 steps involving a total of 7 words counting "whole" & "heart."

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  4. At the end of last week's blog, I wrote, "I had a six step solution - before noting the requirement for no words with less than three letters."

    To which, legolambda commented, "Yeah, my six-step solution dips as low as three letters, but not as low as two. BTW, in order to go from WHOLE to HEART you must subtract a W, O and L, and add an A, R and T. That is six subtractions/additions. Ergo, six is the minimum number of steps."

    I now have a compliant six step solution, but it uses an obscure word. Frankly, I found my non-compliant answer more elegant.

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  5. At the end of last week's blog, I wrote, "I had a six step solution - before noting the requirement for no words with less than three letters."

    To which, legolambda commented, "Yeah, my six-step solution dips as low as three letters, but not as low as two. BTW, in order to go from WHOLE to HEART you must subtract a W, O and L, and add an A, R and T. That is six subtractions/additions. Ergo, six is the minimum number of steps."

    I now have a compliant six step solution, but it uses an obscure word. Frankly, I found my non-compliant answer more elegant.

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    1. SuperZee, complaint?! What's all this talk of complaints? We don't have any complaining going on here in Blaine's World. . .What? Never mind. . .

      --Emily Litella--

      I have a 6 step compliant solution for this first puzzle of the hexagonal year, 2016.

      --Word Woman--

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    2. I see we've been visited by our old friend, Anna Gramme.

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    3. So, Super Zee, how many steps does it require to go from WHOLE to WHALE, or from WHOLE to WHORE?

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    4. In each case at least 2 steps are necessary since you must drop an O and add an A (in the first case) and drop an L and add an R (in the second case). WHOLE (-O)= WHLE, computerise for WHILE; WHLE (+A)= WHALE. WHOLE (-L)= WHOE, WHOE (+R)= WHORE.

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    5. Using some Hawaiian slang, I can get from Whole to Whale in 4 steps.

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  6. I'm sure there is a good reason why Will Shortz did not mention the ending today of the long running and supportive blog about him and his puzzles at Crosswordman.
    I just can't think what it might be.

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  7. I got tickets to Hamilton next week. How ...?

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  8. Yeah if you dig into your history you would find that AH was from my old neck of the woods - The Virgin Islands - originally

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    1. From Nevis, actually, a bit southeast of the Virgin Islands.

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    2. Clavicle of the woods?
      Just asking.

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    3. Much of the little I know of the area, aside from what I got from Ron Chernow's book, came from Under an English Heaven, Donald Westlake's wonderful account of Anguilla's 1967 rebellion against independence (they didn't want to be thrown in with St. Kitts and Nevis), and Britain's subsequent invasion to put down the rebellion. (Anguilla won, in that they got to remain a British colony.)

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    4. And freed their minds, instead?

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  9. I don't think the WLA would have approved.

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    1. And not just Land Girls and farmerettes. I don't think any decent, upstanding tiller of the soil would appreciate being called a HOER, even if it is in the dictionary and does apply. It just seems rude, somehow. I'l be listening carefully for Will's enunciation Sunday morning.

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    2. Paul:
      When I was a teenager, and was hired by a neighbor to do some yard work for them, I was proud to consider myself part of the oldest profession as I hoed their garden beds. I now consider myself a reformed hoer.

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    3. I'll bet there are plenty of garden beds to be tended at a certain large, happy, eco-friendly frozen vegetable company. Hoe, hoe, hoe.

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    4. Here in Seattle we call the cops, who pose as ladies of the evening in order to entrap the johns, bedding plants.

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  10. Today's puzzle seems a little tedious and boring to me. 7I think I'll just pass. But I wish each of you the best of luck with my whole heart :)

    BTW, I've been to Nevis. Beautiful place. And I (we) were treated like royalty.

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  12. I have a 6-step solution (7 total words, including whole and heart). My only doubt is that one of the words is the name of a romantic movie from several years back; as the title of a movie, it would be capitalized. As used in everyday speech, it would not be capitalized (unless at the beginning of a sentence).

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  13. Since the Puzzle asks, "How many steps does it take. . .", isn't stating the number of steps here before Thursday contrary to Blaine's "don't give it away" rule, Sports Fans?

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    1. Technically, perhaps, but I don't think answering "6" is gonna get you a lapel pin.

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    2. Probably not; only Will knows what he means by 'common'.

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    3. It is a good observation, GB. Since I (along with SuperZee) were first to broach the minimum number of steps necessary (from 5:21 to 5:52AM today at the end of last week's thread), I will explain my rationale.

      Even though Will asks, "How many steps are needed to change WHOLE to HEART?"... what he really want to know is what words did we use in our process. I realize it sounds like he is asking for a number, but what he is really asking for is a string of words.

      "Revealing" the minimum number of steps is merely stating the simple arithmethic that is involved: Minus W, minus O, minus L, plus R, plus A, plus T = six operations/steps.

      LegoBeanSpillerWhoIsAnkleDeepInGarbanzosNaviesLimasGreensKidneys&....Strings

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    4. Paul, I think by ``common'' Will means that the word is in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition.

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    5. As lego and Jan have commented, the real question would appear to be the path taken, not the number of steps.

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  14. This is half of a twelve-step program.

    So we now begin a new year. Out with the OWL and in with the EAR.

    This is so easy I solved it while still in bed. It cannot possibly be solved in fewer than six steps with a total of seven words. The next closest number would be eight steps.

    I am reasonably sure most of us have the same simple answer. One of the words is a homophone.

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    1. So why did it take you so long to drag yourself to the keyboard?

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    2. 6 of the 7 words are homophones. (All 7, if you count proper names.)

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    3. When my niece was learning to walk, she'd toddle a dozen paces before falling over, and her mom said she was in a twelve-step program.

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    4. That's a cute story, jan.

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    5. Paul,
      As usual I read the puzzle on one of my middle of the night excursions. This one just happened to coincide with jan's posting of it on last week's blog. I returned to bed, trying to get back to sleep, but could not stop working on the puzzle in my head for a short time. I did not get up until almost noon. I am not a morning person.

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    6. sdb,
      That doesn't cut any ice with my boss.

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    7. I am the boss. And retired now too.

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    8. I believe I have a 6-step answer which fits the criteria. And with the weather outside so frightful, am looking forward to spring! --Margaret G.

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  15. I seem to recall one of the Blainsvillians (I can’t find the post to give him/her credit/blame) expressing nostalgia (likely faux nostalgia) recently, yearning for a return to the “upside-down digital clock-style” NPR puzzles. Well, one of our seven puzzles on Puzzleria! this week (more specifically, one of our two “puzzle morsels” this week ) involves an answer with upside-down digits. Thumbs down, you say? I think not.

    LegoC’monFeelTheNoiztalgia!

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    1. That was Chuck last week.

      Chuck Sun Dec 27, 12:04:00 PM PST

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    2. Thank you, skydiveboy (and thank you, Chuck, for giving me an excuse to shamelessly plug my really excellent puzzle blog).

      LegoPluggolambda

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    3. Does one ever need an excuse to do something shamelessly?

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    4. Right you are, Paul, as usual...
      Thank you, skydiveboy and Chuck, for giving me an opportunity to shamelessly and inexcusably plug my really excellent puzzle blog.

      LegoSoDon'tExcuuuseMe!

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  16. Like others I came up with a 6 letter answer (and a very similar variant) almost immediately.

    But I might have a different answer, of my intermediate 5 words only 3 are homophones. And one word requires a somewhat cultivated taste.

    And Paul, in case you're razzing everyone about the timing of their response, I had a meeting this morning to review trenches and excavations. And then I was cleaning out my gutters before the rains come. My mind is still in the gutter.

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  17. I think I have it. One of my words, when capitalized, would suggest a character on the TV show that's on right now as I do this.

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  18. Using the classic "enable1.txt" dictionary (that Words With Friends uses, for example), the best I can get is 8 steps. Even then, some of the words are pretty darn obscure.

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    1. I suggest you can do better than that, and you don't need a dictionary to do it either.

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    3. Skydiveboy -- you're right -- as somebody suggested, I did it better in bed last night than after programming for an hour :)

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  19. I liked the predator/prey, owl/rat, pairing.

    One of the seven words was a pun in the Pardon My Blooper record.

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    1. hugh, I overlooked that nifty coincidence. I was hung up on ART! and didn't smell a RAT! It would have been even better if the RAT had been eliminated, only to be replaced with a burping and chops-licking OWL!... RATher than vice versa, that is.

      LegoWhoIsAProponetAndPurveyorOfLowArt

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    3. jan,

      Your link sent me to Blaine's blog, but with a message at the top reading: "Sorry, the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist.

      Please tinker?

      LegoLikesLinksFromjanButThereAppearsToBeAGhostInTheMachine!

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    5. Grrr...

      Type it in yourself!

      The intersection of OWL and RAT:

      www.pellet.com

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    6. Re: gurgitate, jan and Lego, the first link you posted, jan, did not throw up any roadblocks for me and worked perfectly. . .

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    7. Interesting... It works if you click on the link in the "Notify me" email. But it bounced you back if you clicked on the link on the blog page.

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    8. www.pellet.com has gifts perfect for the stalking stuffer - too late now.

      And Jan, grr(r) is SO last week... interestingly one of the tv stations showed Tootsie and Young Frankenstein last week, perhaps they knew...

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  20. 6 steps are required: WHOLE HOLE HOE HOER HER HEAR HEART

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  21. WHOLE -> HOLE -> HOE -> HOER -> HER -> HEAR -> HEART

    > I got tickets to Hamilton next week. How ...?

    "How does a bastard, orphan, son of a hoer and a
    Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a
    Forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence
    Impoverished, in squalor
    Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?"

    (Aplogies to Lin-Manuel Miranda.)

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  22. whole > hole > hoe > hoer > her > hear > heart

    Six steps.

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  23. My compliant six step answer, with what I consider a questionable word is: WHOLE-HOLE-HOE-HOER-HER-HEAR-HEART (with a hoer being one who hoes). I'll have to see what Will and the residents of Blainesville think.

    My non-compliant solution is: WHOLE-HOLE-HOE-HE-HER-HEAR-HEART. Although it used a two letter a two letter word, I still like its elegance.

    As to Ron's supplemental challenges, both my solutions use relatively obscure words. For Whole to Whale, my four step solution is: WHOLE-HOLE-HAOLE-HALE-WHALE. (Haole is a slang Hawaiian term for a non-native.) For Whole to Whore, my solution is: WHOLE-WHORLE-WHORE (A whorle being a part of a spinning wheel.)

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    1. Hoer is a word listed in Merriam-Websters.

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  24. I was trying to avoid the hoers, forgetting entirely that they are also humble users of garden implements. My solution has an extra letter (and thus an extra step):
    WHOLE HOLE HOE SHOE SHE SHEA (as in shea butter, lc in the dictionary) SHEAR HEAR HEART
    All in all, I prefer the hoers.

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    Replies
    1. I came up with that solution too as an alternate. But decided Hoer was acceptable for my six step solution.

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  25. I came up with the same answer as Jim, SuperZee, and probably others: whole > hole > hoe > hoer > her > hear > heart

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  26. This took a few minutes:

    whole hole hale hate hat heat heart

    If there is nothing wrong with it, I think I could come up with several more.

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    1. Hole -> hale -> hate involve substitutions, which are forbidden, not additions or deletions.

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    2. HALE to HATE involves a letter change rather than an addition or subtraction. I know, MJ, I kept doing the same thing over and over, myself.

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    3. ...which is why I failed to catch HOLE to HALE.

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  27. Like many others, I had the whole-hole-hoe-hoer-her-hear-heart solution. I threw in some lame clues:

    one word requires a somewhat cultivated taste (hoe and hoer; my favorite project right now is a 2 acre urban farm, and they have lots of both).

    I had a meeting this morning to review trenches and excavations (digging holes, though not with hoes)

    I was cleaning out my gutters before the rains come. My mind is still in the gutter. More hoes, but a different and very derogatory term. I am ashamed to have used it.

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  28. WHOLE (-W) =
    HOLE (-L) =
    HOE (+R) =
    HOER (-O) =
    HER (+A) =
    HEAR (+T) =
    HEART

    6 steps, 7 words total. I suspect most everyone has this solution.

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    1. I sent that one in also. Not sure that Hoer would be acceptable though. Glad to see others came up with same solution.

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    2. I sent in that solution, though I too was unsure about "hoer", but it wouldn't work any other way. BTW be sure to catch Puzzleria! tomorrow to see my puzzle! It shouldn't be too hard. Hope you enjoy it.

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  29. WHOLE >>> HOLE >>> HOE >>> HOER >>>HER >>> HEAR >>> HEART

    Six steps from WHOLE to HEART.

    This is not quite a hoer, but an awesome carrot harvester. From the land of " Ho, ho, ho " and the Jolly Green Giant. Enjoy!

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    1. That is an awesome machine. I especially like the spinning octopus knocking off clods of dirt. But, oh, oh, oh, it comes from a land down under.

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    2. Thanks jan. That was rather uplifting.

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    3. ^^^ (carets) Agreed. Watching those carrots plucked from down under is mesmerizing. . .

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    4. ...and we'll root, root, root, for the (farm) team.

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    5. That was oddly entrancing. Reminds me of the movie Koyaanisqatsi, especially "The Grid", with the remarkable comparison of commuters and hot dogs.

      Does an Australian Bugs Bunny say "What's down, doc?"

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    6. (Had a Tasmanian Devil of a time finding that clip.)

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    7. Thanks for the clip, jan. Odd that Bugs gets epiglottis right but messes up so many other words, especially verbs. Now that I think of it, that characteristic reminds me a bit of Archie Bunker. . .

      ecoarchitect, looking forward to watching Koyaanisqatsi this weekend. There's even a backward version of the film out there, "putting life back into balance."

      Showed the kids the carrot harvesting today. They, too, were enchanted. I wonder if they watch Bugs Bunny?!

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    8. I've always liked that Mel Blanc's epitaph reads "That's All, Folks".

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    9. Speaking of hare-brained ideas, how about this Federal court decision?

      I think I'll just kick back and watch some cute Internet videos of dumb animals!

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    10. Power to the primates.
      Power to the primates,
      Right on.

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    11. The macaque likely has no idea (nor any concern) about its image being sent around the world. And while the money from the copyright could certainly help preserve macaque habitat (which it probably is concerned about), I'm not sure that's the monkey I'd hire to do that.

      Small note, while we anthropomorphize some charm in the photo, as I recall chimpanzees and most monkeys grin and show teeth as an act of aggression, not friendship or happiness.

      WW: I hope you enjoy Koyaanisqatsi, I think only bizarre versions are available on Youtube, but Hulu and Netflix probably have it.

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    12. This monkeying around reminds me of an old cartoon, of a chimp with a copy of, "The Origin of Species." He asks, "Does this mean I'm my keepers brother?"

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    13. Which reminds me of a small section of Daniel Quinn's "Ishmael", where the "teacher" posits that were you to go back 300 million years, the jellyfish would assert they are the pinnacle of evolution.

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  30. Gotcha. I knew there was some reason I didn't feel like fooling with it.

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  32. I think it is unfortunate there are so many furrowed brows directed at us hoers, both reformed and not. Some of us are plowed of our background.

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  33. Now that I remember, I added HOME and HOMER. I had "The Simpsons" on in the background, thought I'd provide a clue about that. See now that I shouldn't have.

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  34. Replies
    1. Three of those steps use substitutions, not additions or subtractions.

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  35. Whole hole hoe hoer her hear heart
    Whole heart requires the removal of the man. The number of a man is 6 which is the number of steps required. I didn't feel the liberty to reveal the answer for the step #. :)

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  36. Replies
    1. Sigh. Let me check the calendar. Yes, it is 2016.

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    2. I know exactly what you mean, WW. Back in 30,a victim with the right connections would have been a star witness.

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    3. It is '16, and Trump is the most popular candidate for POTUS. Is it 2016 or 1916?

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  37. Did anyone else play around with a straight letter substitution word ladder? Here's what I came up with: WHOLE, WHORE, SHORE, SHARE, STARE, STARS, SEARS, HEARS, HEART. Tried to do it without plurals, but that proved much harder.

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  38. Next week's challenge: This challenge comes from listener Sandy Weisz of Chicago, who runs The Mystery League, which conducts puzzle hunts.

    This challenge isn't too hard. Name a unit of measurement. Remove two consecutive letters. The letters that remain can be rearranged to name what this measurement measures. What is it?

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    1. Gosh - "isn't too hard" is putting it mildly.
      ---Rob

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    2. I believe the answer to the challenge for 1/17/16 really takes you to the heart of the answer to the challenge for 1/10/16.

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  39. My apologies, I should not be dogging the puzzle. Well maybe just a little bit.

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  40. Something that I've said many times about many of these puzzles applies here as well:

    There are some folks out there who will solve this in two seconds -- and then be angry at themselves for not having solved it in less than ONE second!

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  41. I have a musical clue in mind - but it might be too much of a hint.

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  42. Everyone's dancing around the answer.

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