Sunday 28 August 2016

These Cast Puzzles Are Easy....

Or Are They?

Hanayama Cast Diamond
Todays' post will need to be a quickie....I am on call again today and could be asked to go in to the hospital at any moment and so need to write about something that won't take too long. August has been a bad month for me with the on call rota - I have done the full 2 months worth of on call duties in one month! You would have thought that as the fool that writes the rota, I could avoid that situation but no....most other people have children and so wanted lots of annual leave in August and the only way to fill the 3 rotas and still allow all the requests I had received was for me to do more in that month. I'm getting far too old for all this!

Recently my friend Nigel returned home from the IPP in Japan and brought with him the 3 latest Hanayama cast puzzles for me to play with. After a little PayPal had flitted across the intertubes, my new toys arrived and I decided to try and space them out a bit and not greedily solve them all at once. I have to say that I really liked the new packaging:

Cast Huzzle?
I asked on my Facebook page why Hanayama had called them a Huzzle and got a very interesting response from my Friend Taroh who is a native Japanese speaker:
はずす: (pronounced "huh-zu-su") means 'to take apart' in Japanese,
and puzzle is written ぱずる: (pronounced "puh-zu-ru")
Hanayama combined the two words together to make up a portmanteau that describes a puzzle you take apart.

Sunday 21 August 2016

A Pelikan Extravaganza!

How gorgeous are these?
At the end of July I showed off on my New additions page a big bunch of puzzles that I had bought from Jakub prior to them being made available for general sale. I have been just soooo busy at work and at home that I have barely had any time to puzzle at all and I am eternally grateful to Mike Desilets for writing a guest blog post for me when I had nothing to write about. I didn't realise that Jakub was holding off putting these puzzles up for sale until I had written a little review for him and you. This is one of the reasons that I get advanced access (I do still pay for them) - he likes me to try them and write something to help you all decide which ones you want in your own collections.

Well this week, Mrs S was off up to Edinburgh to visit the "outlaws" and I was hoping for a little time to play whilst all by myself. This would give me a chance to solve some of these beauties and write something for Jakub too. Despite "she who must be flinched from" being away, I still had little time! She had given me strict instructions and a rather large list of chores to do!! She even left a passing comment that I must not indulge too much in the unhealthy grub that I love and must continue to go to the gym because "if you get fat....then you're out". Gulp! You will be pleased to know that as she is driving back just now, I have done all the chores, tidied the house, cleaned the cat litter tray (Yuk!) and ticked off all items on her list. I have even been to the gym twice to achieve a body "less horrific" because, let's face it, I'll never have a body beautiful!

I now can write reviews of all 7 puzzles - that should shortly be up for sale on Pelikan puzzles' site. To make up for some relatively short blogs recently, this one is rather large...I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday 14 August 2016

Guest Post - Shunting

Hi everyone, it's been a really busy week for me being on call plus long days then, with my insomnia making me crash in the evenings and having to yet again write the consultant on call rotas yesterday, I have had a week with absolutely no puzzling in it at all! Not a thing...nada! Sob!!! Even Mrs S noticed that I wasn't playing as usual. I am therefore, so grateful to the Puzzlemad roving reporter, Mike Desilets, for producing a wonderful article for me. He always seems to know just when to drop something into my inbox. I'll hand you over to him just now. I am sure I will interject the odd comment now and then.

Historical Shunting designs
(This is a screenshot from Rob Stegmann's extensive page on the subject)
Aloha Kākou readers. Just popping back into the blogosphere for bit. I was originally planning to present Part 2 of the MrPuzzle post - the workshop tour - as my next Puzzlemad hijacking (Ed - I'm waiting with bated breath!). I will do that, eventually, but this past month I was inspired by some other events and research which I’d like to get off my chest. This post is not a straight-up puzzle review, but more along the lines of puzzle advocacy. Specifically, I am advocating for some enterprising designer/builder to fill a notable, and unacceptable, void in the puzzle world - an almost complete absence of mechanical shunting puzzles. It’s an admittedly obscure subset of (I assume) the sequential movement class, but I’ve become utterly fascinated with them over the last few months. If my enthusiasm is even partly transmissible to the community through Puzzlemad, then maybe resurrection of this time-honored puzzle type is possible. Further down I’ll throw out a particularly intriguing design I came across, developed by a notable model railroader.

So how did I come to the conclusion there are not enough (or really any) shunting puzzles out there in the wild? Well, first you have to know how I even became aware of these fascinating puzzles, or rather, reminded of them. Let’s retrace my steps, shall we? Don’t worry, it’s a short trip, and I’ll even throw in some pictures to keep you occupied. Cue music.....

It all began a few months back when I was out on a run in the neighborhoods near my house. I Have recently reached the age where I can refer to myself as being at a “certain age”  (Ed - I got there quite some time ago), I’ve come to the realization that knee joints are not designed to take repetitive impact for long periods and, quite likely, did not even evolve to be useful beyond that “certain age”. That’s a problem for someone who is accustomed to a steady dose of exercise-induced endorphins (Ed - I always thought exercise was bad for you but when Mrs S threatened to chuck me out if I got fat, I took up exercise and lurve those endorphins!). A great solution for me has been running hills. There is hardly any impact running up a hill, and boy will it get your heart rate up fast. On one particular death-run, I crested the summit and paused to enjoy some well-deserved wheezing. While collecting myself for the next go, I casually inspected the ever-present pile of trash by a particular neighbor’s house. I am always fascinated by what people put out on the curb (a professional bent) so I can’t help but look over the pile. Junk, as usual. But one thing catches my eye. This:

Sunday 7 August 2016

Twisty Solving by Intuition?

It is Possible with Carl's Bubbloids
My recent splurge of puzzle acquisition has been unfortunate in its timing - I have had some very long stressful days at work and have had to work weekends. This coupled with some home stresses meant that I have had less puzzling time than I wished for. Finally, when I did have time, I just didn't have the brain power and energy for anything really complex. Last week I was really pleased to go back to some more basic puzzles - it required less concentration power but was still a pretty good challenge and was really entertaining too.

The Bubbloid twisty puzzles were designed by Carl Hoff (whom I got to meet at the London IPP) and ever since I saw his announcement of their design on the Twisty Puzzles forum and after he showed off the 3D printed version, I had coveted them. There had been some mention that they solved the same way as the Mosaic cube (and later Oscar's Mosaic cuboid) but I had never managed to acquire either of these and was left to my wistful drooling - I lurve twisty puzzles with different turning mechanisms or different geometries to the usual. Unfortunately the 3D printed versions of these (and Carl's other wonderful designs were just too expensive for me at that time - I had spent rather a lot of money!

It was a delightful surprise to find out at the beginning of July that Calvin Fan (of HKNowstore) had teamed up with Carl to facilitate the mass production of 2 of the Bubbloid cuboid series. They were renamed from Carl's original names and I think for the better as it now describes the dimensions rather than just the overlap. Within just a few weeks of the announcement they were up for sale. I bought mine from my good friend Martin who has opened up his own Twisty puzzle on line store in the UK - his prices are excellent and service is superb! If you want to buy the Bubbloids from him then click here. If you live in the Far East then Calvin's HKNowstore is a good bet.

Bubbloid 445
Bubbloid 445 Scrambled