Sunday 27 July 2014

A great discovery.......or Shane does it again!

The Parallelogram top view
Bottom view - he even provided a novel stand!
On Friday I had an absolutely dreadful day at work and trudged home at the end of the day expecting to finish the day with a very well earned glass or 2 of something with noxious chemicals in it to make life seem more tolerable. I arrived home to find Mrs S looking hot and bothered due to the tremendous airless heat we have been suffering recently! She seems nowadays not to like the heat much but it was 38ºC in our conservatory and adjacent kitchen so I cannot blame her from being grumpy. After a bit of a chat about the day's shenanigans, I went into the kitchen to find an unexpected parcel! I had to vociferously deny all knowledge - I only have one thing currently in the post and do not expect it for another week! It's true - I promise - although someone special is due to post another something special to me tomorrow!

Tearing open the package I find an envelope with an old fashioned seal on it and a wonderful new toy from Shane! This is the third in his series of puzzles and is even more beautiful than the previous 2! As before it has the name painted on it and on the reverse is his signature, my name and the serial number 001 - licensed to thrill! The theme of the shapes "The Block", and "The Circle" continue and this is delightfully named The Parallelogram. Breaking the seal on the envelope for my mission instructions, I am told that I need to "OPEN IT......." - very helpful. There's a little history too about his journey as a designer and craftsman, a mention of a future design yet to be made and the terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions? Is there a contract? Well sort of! Let me explain..... I have had at least 10 emails over the last year or so asking how puzzlers can get one of Shane's puzzles and I have had to explain that they are not available and unless he changes his mind, they will NEVER be available. Shane makes only 4 of each puzzle, 000 is for his personal collection, 001 is for me and the other 2 are given away to people he considers deserving amongst the puzzle community - they have either helped him or done a lot for other puzzlers. I am lucky enough to take on the burden of helping with that decision and they have received a very wide audience as a result. Why do I always get number 1? I don't understand it myself but I am eternally grateful to him for it. Over the last couple of years we have journeyed together through quite a few very tough puzzles and have done tandem solves on some of the toughest and "funnest" (is that a word? it is now!) puzzles ever made. We love doing them together and communicate a lot in the process. Nevertheless, I think I gain the most from our friendship but please don't tell him that!

Back to the T&Cs...... He has written in the accompanying letter that:
"This puzzle is a gift, the rules are that it can never be sold, exchanged or even given away. It MUST stay in your collection or be returned to myself."
Well, I cannot argue with that and I would never dream of letting them go - there is far too much emotional value in such a gift - I owe him much more than that! In fact these are so special that they are not just kept on show amongst my embarrassingly large collection, they are beautiful enough to remain one of the few puzzles on show in my living room - even Mrs S likes them enough for that and she's a very choosy wife (except in her choice of husband)!

Sunday 20 July 2014

Packing puzzles I can do....Almost!

Tea for Two
Tea for Three
"Packing" or "Sequential movement" puzzles?

I have said many times before that I just cannot to packing puzzles! In fact I have actually stopped buying them.... well almost! I do still buy the occasional one if has a particular quirk to it or is made by a good friend or is particularly beautiful! So recently Satomi (who runs the Cu-Japan eBay store) informed us that she was going to get these particularly interesting puzzles from Japan. I haven't done many puzzles designed by Mineyuki Uyematsu but those that I have tried have all had something special about them that meant that I couldn't resist! For example the Lock-y-cube and Lock-n-cube that had kept me busy for so long were designed by him. Satomi does not have these packing puzzles in stock at present but she does have a whole lot of interesting stuff and they may come back.

I picked these up at the last Midlands puzzle party and barely held back from buying a whole lot more stuff which she had in stock and managed to keep them in their packaging until the following Monday when I was anaesthetising for a Vascular surgery list which consisted of several VERY long boring operations. I reached into my trusty bag and brought them out to a few oohs and ahs and pronounced that: They would be perfect to torture my anaesthetic assistant, any interested nurses and medical students who happen to be nearby. Once the patient was set with his iPod on and safely stable the puzzling began!

Sunday 13 July 2014

EZ Galaxy

EZ Galaxy
This weekend has been a rather special one - yesterday marked 20 years to the day that I said "I do" to probably the most patient woman in the world! We have had a really lovely weekend and had a fabulous dinner, bed and breakfast stay at the Michelin starred Fischer's restaurant at Baslow Hall, Derbyshire. Just to prove how great a wife she is (I did tell the whole world and her on Facebook!), she was still happy for me to sit down and write another blog post for you all - I think, however, that it probably should be a short one! I don't want to test her patience too much!

This quick post is a review of the EZ Galaxy from the Puzzle Master metal puzzle selection. I actually used another puzzle from this series back April when I also needed to write a short post and this will be similar.

It is a very pretty shiny design by Doug Engel and is made of three colours of metal - brushed bronze, gold and gunmetal alloy, with the inner gunmetal piece taking the shape of a spiral galaxy. The goal is to take all four pieces apart and free the dark colored galaxy and then, of course, to reunite them afterwards. It is spherical in overal shape and 8.9cm across and extremely jingly!  The rating from Puzzle Master is 8 on their scale of 5-10. This should be significantly tougher than the EZ Atom which was rated a 6. There have been 2 reviews on the product page which have been generally positive and averaged at 4/5. No solution is provided but if you need it (which I very much doubt) then it can be downloaded from here.

Sunday 6 July 2014

It's my turn for a "Me too!" review

Beautiful presentation - just exudes quality
Here in Sheffield those of us who are not cycling freaks are more or less housebound for the day! The huge invasion of Yorkshire by the great unwashed French began yesterday and their advance south reaches us today! This large bunch of cycle nutters has shut down most of the city and travel is near on impossible for 12 hours from 7:30 am. Luckily I am not on-call at work and don't need to be resident for 12 hours and therefore I have lots of time to write a post for you. Although "SHE" says that she has some DIY for me to do later - time to install a new roller blind in a bedroom. No rest for the wicked!

There seems to be a trend for "Me too" posts amongst us puzzle bloggers - My review of Wil's egg puzzle was improved upon by Jerry first and then Allard and now it's my turn to review something shortly after someone else has published. The theme here seems to be that when something truly special comes out which may be only available for a limited time, we rush to get that information to you as fast as possible - I call it my civic duty! The Popplock T9 is very limited in number and nearly sold out - if you do want one for your collection then the usual suppliers are Grand illusionsPuzzle Master and Rainer himself. As far as I know only Puzzle Master have any left.

On 30th June I received an update email from Rainer Popp that his latest trick lock was about to be released and without even hesitating for a moment I shot off an email. Some time later a confirmation email was received and at that point I blinked and focussed abruptly on the price! These are hand made metal locks of the very highest quality and you should be ready for the fact that they are going to cost a fair sum of money! BUT they are worth it! So far I have not told the present Mrs S how much, but she knows that it was a lot and my excuse (as always) is that "it's an investment and will be worth much more in a year or so". She seems to have caught on to this ploy and replied that I never sell anything though - I need another excuse now - all suggestions gratefully received via my Contact form.