Friday, March 02, 2007

The Gospel According to Sudoku

What is it with the clergy and Doonesbury? If you scroll down Septuagent’s entries for February you will find several posts including Doonesbury strips. A couple of weeks ago I heard a homily based on another strip in the Iraq war series where the Iraqi soldier tells his American military partner he cannot capture a Sunni suspect alive, because he is sworn to vengeance for the killing of one of his family members. “What? When did this happen?” asks the American. The reply: “1387.” I don’t have to tell you the moral of that homily.

I was struck lately by a message from a recent hobby if mine: Sudoku. I had never tried one—I‘m a crossword puzzle gal—until my sister in law was here from England this summer. She got me hooked. I am dreadful at them, but I find them strangely calming, even in the face of my inability to solve anything more than a simple puzzle. Logic was never a strong point of mine, and even more disturbing are the incidents where I find the right place for a number and put it in the wrong column. The ophthalmologist tells me there is nothing wrong with my eyes, so it must be plain carelessness.

When we were in Chicago, Ernie’s sister saw me wrestling with a puzzle and I tried to explain them to her. She’s a good bridge player and was soon using her thinking-ahead skills on a puzzle. At one point it was obvious she had made an error and her solution was to go back and erase the last number she had entered. I explained it wouldn’t work. I don’t think she believed me.

Last week I was working on a puzzle and realized that something had gone irretrievably wrong. When I am stuck, I usually don’t look at the solutions to the puzzle, but this time I did. What was amazing was that I must have made a mistake right at the beginning. I had managed to get half way through with just about every number in the wrong place and, in spite of the compounding of errors, it had all worked, until suddenly I came to a grinding halt.

Tangled web, indeed. Figure out the message there.

1 comment:

Septuagent said...

Septuagent says that he does not know what it is with the clergy and Doonesbury. He was taken with this particular series because ere long he and Mrs. Septuagent will be at the stage of life there described.
They have had to officiate, over the last 20 years, with three elderly ladies, their declining years, their funerals, and their Wills and all the rest of it. So, to Septuagent, it all seemed very relevant, and he is aware that there are many older bloggers out there who might not, in the normal course of events, see Doonesbury on a regular basis.

It will be interesting (to Septuagent at least) to see if Trudeau resurrects this story at some future date, as is often his wont.