Waxing Lyrical

Waxing Lyrical

Livin’ on the edge, jaded,
I wanna know why I’m down.
Tell me what it takes.

Same old song and dance,
Round and round,
You gotta move full circle.

You see me crying.
Write me a letter, something
Stop messin’ around.

My girl never loved a girl.
Think about it: crazy.
Ain’t that a bitch?

Drop dead gorgeous angel,
Under my skin no more:
No more monkey on my back.

Something’s gotta give.
Movin’ out no surprise.
Kiss your past goodbye.

The Joy of Darts

The Joy of Darts

A post by C. S. Wyatt started me thinking about what games and sports I enjoy, and why.

I have always enjoyed word-based puzzles, particularly crosswords, and complete at least one cryptic crossword most days – my favorite is the Daily Telegraph which I usually finish in under 20 minutes. What attracts me is the challenge of interpreting the clue in the correct way to construct the answer – it’s a combination of an extensive vocabulary, an awareness of multiple meanings of words and logical reasoning.

I occasionally solve Sudoku puzzles but find them much less satisfying because of the purely mechanical methods involved. I found it much more interesting to write a computer program to apply the methods and solve the puzzles that way.

Quizzes in various forms can be fun. I used to enjoy taking part in a local pub quiz but after a while got bored by the consistently variable level of difficulty of the questions – the first few would be insultingly easy, while the final ones would often be so obscure that they just resulted in a random choice of one of the multiple options provided. I enjoy playing Trivial Pursuit now and again but get frustrated by the element of luck introduced by rolling a die to determine where I can move my counter.

I have played card games in the past – blackjack, poker – in social settings for chips rather than “real” money in a casino. While I did very much enjoy studying and designing strategies to guide my play (I bought a copy of Hoyle as a reference), I found that the random turn of the cards and the unpredictability of other players meant I did not get nearly as much pleasure from actually playing the games.

I play pool (8-ball) on occasion – I used to captain a pub team – and ten-pin bowling, but the sport I play most has to be darts. In all of these sports, how well I do depends on my individual skill – there is no significant random element apart from the very small variation in ambient conditions – these being indoor sports – which affect all the players equally. I also enjoy the fact that, unlike in team sports such as rugby, I can play at whatever pace suits me.

In summary, I have a strong preference for games of skill rather than chance. I much prefer turn-based games. I enjoy puzzles and other activities that exercise my mind. I prefer games where it is only my individual performance that affects the outcome, although I have played pairs matches in both pool and darts. I believe that the individual turn-based nature of these is a much more significant factor than any interaction between myself and my partner in the pair – there is not the depth of strategy and real-time interaction involved unlike a regular team sport.

In fact, having considered the reasons why my preferences lie in a particular direction, I can see strong parallels between these leisure activities and my love of programming. There are the same elements of skill, knowledge, problem-solving and individual effort. Just as I am happiest and perform best when left to my own devices at work, so I prefer those leisure activities that involve solo endeavor.

Mystery Word

Mystery Word

My first is in apple but not found in plum,
My second’s in sibilant – sounds like that one.
My third is a vegetable, small green and round,
My fourth is a vowel, not a consonant sound.
My next is in rolling but not standing still,
While my sixth may be uttered when getting a thrill.
The next one in seven may be seen twice.
Letter five is repeated; isn’t that nice?
My whole forms the name of the doctor from Wien
And also a Syndrome that you must have seen.