Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mind Games I - Introduction

This is the first of a series of posts describing the different games I play in my mind. It may sound strange, but for every minute of every day, I am solving meaningless puzzles based on the letters, syllables, words and sentences that I say, hear and read. If you ever catch me whispering to myself or silently moving my lips in the middle of a conversation, this is what I am doing. I don't know why I do it. It's just something that started when I was a kid, and I am completely unaware of it most of the time. Somehow when I was young I developed this "mental pathway" that just kind of runs at all times in the back of my brain. There are about 10 different games that I play, and it gets really interesting when - without consciously deciding to do so - I mix them together forming new rules and patterns with the words running around in my head. To give you an idea, I will explain one of my games. Although I have never done so, I am going to start giving them names so that when you read about them, you will be able to distinguish which one I am talking about. I will start out with one of the simplest ones. It isn't challenging at all, and you can always win. The point is that there is no point and it merely provides something for my brain to work on while it is "idling". I will call it "Vowels 4 Sale". The rules work something like this:

** You can still be my friend if you don't want to read this. :) **

1. To play the game, you need a set of words. This is usually a sentence that you have read, said or heard. Sometimes I even do it with an entire paragraph.

2. Next, take the words in the set and count the vowels. The goal is to come out with a number of vowels that is divisible by 4 (hence the name of the game). This may seem pointless since you cannot change the number of vowels. Just be patient, this mother of a cliffhanger will be continued in the next instruction.

3. What makes the game work is that fact that most punctuation can be converted into a number of vowels by replacing it with the actual word for the punctuation mark. For example, if you had the sentence "Are you hungry?" you might at first think your score is always going to be 7... not so. Instead you can convert the question mark and get "Are you hungry question mark" making the total vowel count 12. You win! Doesn't that make you feel great? :)

4. This instruction is really what makes the game work. In order to really have options on how you can make the vowels add up, you have to take advantage of punctuation that has different words to describe it. For example, the '.' character can be read "dot", "period" and "point" or the '-' character can be replaced with "dash" or "hyphen". This means that you can come up with many different totals if you have a paragraph with just a few of these symbols.

5. To wrap it up, we need to go over a couple of rules that make it more interesting. When analyzing a sentence, it is better to only read through the sentence once, and then come up with a good result by making smart substitutions along the way. This is harder than just reading through a million times and getting it right. The other thing that I haven't mentioned is that multiples of 4 are good, but there is something better. Anything that is a power of 2 and is >= 4 is a REALLY good answer, so you should try for these. Examples: 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 etc.

OK, you can roll your eyes now.

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