06 March 2008


It is a puzzlement

For a nerd, I'm surprisingly uninterested in puzzles and games. I have rarely played cards, was never into Dungeons and Dragons (didn't even read Tolkien, for that matter), don't generally do crosswords or Sudoku, get little enjoyment from jigsaw puzzles, don't enjoy chess, and never went in for those mind-bender style mathematical games from Martin Gardner and Douglas Hofstadter in my dad's Scientific American magazines. My wife taught me my first poker skills just a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, I own some M.C. Escher prints, and I was part of a regular weekly Mah-jongg game (not for money) for several years. My brain does tend to hew to stereotypically geeky pursuits. I have a science degree. I used to read a lot of science fiction, am fascinated by gadgets, have always preferred non-fiction to fiction in my reading otherwise, loved Star Wars and 2001 and Alien, was a young computer nerd (duh), and so on.

I understand why people like games and puzzles; I'm just not one of them. (Similarly, I understand the appeal of practical jokes, but personally dislike most varieties and rarely find them funny.)

But I like solving problems, if they're real ones. Getting all the gear from my band to fit just so into the car, tweaking web page code so it validates, editing audio transitions in a podcast, making a poster, taking effective photographs, or editing some writing—these are things I enjoy. They are puzzles and games too, but the kind that exist to accomplish something, not for their own sake. Maybe related, I discovered early on that I'm not really suited to computer programming, even though that is problem-solving that is practical.

I'm not sure what all that says about me, or whether that question is a puzzle worth solving. It's interesting, though.

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you just mentioned hofstadter & escher ... have you read "godel escher bach"? i just re-bought it after lending it out a few years ago to someone i wasn't likely to ever see again (stupid? like a snake!). you probably have, what am i talkin' about! :^o
Actually I haven't, though I probably will eventually.