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Games and Puzzles



Recently constructed in Iraq. Played there too.


Royal Game of Ur Google search

They've got some great versions on etsy right now.

I'm not the only person who has wanted to rename the game, but it's not so easy.



Clay is the best material.


I've been pondering the different ways this could be constructed. That's a tangle of decisions. Recently the dam broke when I came across some dominos.

These a white, they are a hard bakelite (?) plastic and they are a bit larger than other dominos. The dominos could be assembled to form the unusual board. The special positions were marked by red star stickers from Walmart. But what to do about the lines? It seems obvious, just use a felt pen and a ruler. But .. ahh .. The other option was to use the existing lines on the other side of the domino and somehow make the dots disappear. I wound up going with the felt pen. The lines are where they are. The board was large enough. Should these dominos be somehow attached to form a cohesive board?

We just happened to have come from the lake at Hecla. We had gathered little white quartzy stones and, working out perfectly, some darker stones. Six of each of these, and you've got your pieces for the game.

And then there are the dice. They could be dice or stick dice. Why not just use popsicle sticks? Well, once you've figured out the colours, will they go through the porous sticks and warp them? Do you have to use primer? What colour will the edges be? Are popsicle sticks too light?
Anyway, your craft store sells coloured popsicle sticks, and you can glue two of them together. This is fine. They sometimes land standing on their side, and sanding edges will not work because the colour is superficial.
Toss the sticks in the air so they flip a couple of times. It's rather fun.

My dad suggested using coins as dice, and we tried it. Canadian coins can sometimes have striking faces, like a red poppy. I grabbed some black and white Reversi/Othello pieces. These have pros and cons.

The Royal Game of Ur could be made so it can be stuffed in an Altoids tin. more coming


A Dice Tower review. Neat.


The game Snakebite is going to be lost to digital rot, and it's not possible to make physically. So how about making a simple 8 x 8 board that is endless, so that going off the right will take you to the left side of the board. Pieces are normal pieces, not snakes. Like the old snakes, a piece can only move in one direction. You take a crown or whatever and win by taking it around the board to its original position.

How hard can that be?

Take a look at Beach Buttons, where pieces move two spaces at a time, and there is also the combination of an endless board and and odd number of cells. See Tablut, where pieces can kill each other but the game is really about the moving king, and the action moves around the board. See konane, where opponents are on alternating cells.

Should pieces be able to kill each other, leading to a more decisive game, or should it be a non-lethal game, like soccer? (In Snakebite snakes could be paralyzed) Should opposing pieces be on alternating cells so that they could jump over each other and grab the ball, or should pieces be placed on any type of cell? Is the goal to go around the board back to where you originally picked up the ball? Should you move one space at at a time, or two?
Setup should be easy. Setup is not an issue with a computer game, but that's a computer game.

farmer, boat, fox, chicken and corn riddle

I think this should be made on hand-drawn cutouts on something paperish, not a link on the Internet with a solution next to it.




frog failure






Tricks and Treats card game / more


Geistertreppe / Boo Who

A ghost-themed memory game for the very young. I always had a soft spot for it, partly because of the name.


I was looking forward to two Halloween projects, but after much mental effort I gave up with both of them.

I was most excited about the spider trap. When I was young I noticed that a twisted elastic band has a consistent amount of tension. I figured put this on a manufactured spider web, use candy as bait, and the spider will attack your hand. See the mousetrap below.
I tried putting this with a doorbell for Halloween. You can't do this because you can't attach things, especialy to a stucco wall. On the plus side I learned that a loop of pipe cleaner around a doorbell works effectively as a trigger, although not subtly.
Then I tried using a shoebox, and I really strained my brain figuring out the way to do it. I learned to make the trigger by putting a loop of dental floss/fishing line around, not the caramel, but a bit of the caramel wrapper so you can't see it. The spider should go precisely to your hand at the caramel, so the elastic should be longer than the spider's movement. Pulleys? The spider itself is important. A little plastic spider is not a big deal, while the big scary floppity rubber one requires too much power. Will the end result be worth the effort anyway?
If I restart this I will go back to the original idea and make a two-dimensional web. Cardboard? Yarn? How big?

And then there's the fiddler crab costume. When I was a kid I suggested to my dad making a fiddler crab costume, and he did it, using a refrigerator box, complete with a closing claw. Fiddler crabs have one enormous claw. It's a bit of a legend in our family.
I tried hard to think of how to do it, but gave up. My dad was surprisingly unhelpful. Arthropods with with their exoskeletons are just different. The biggest issue is how you attach things. This would have been an innovative handmade costume, a conversation starter, with some family history to boot. I gave up.

The costume would be for a little girl. I'm thinking about making a praying mantis costume.

If these unfocused folks get their act together at all, the most likely costume is El Kabong, with a horse mask thing. Guitars have been very prominent.

Language and Culture


Add an L to each of the words below. Then rearrange the letters in each word to form a new a six-letter word.










Justement (pronounced joostement) is a French word that means precisely.

Does just mean precise in English?

That's just what I was looking for. Just in time. Le mot juste.


Do you judge the veracity of a claim based on the skin colour of the person saying it?

If someone had a different skin colour than you, would you be more likely to trust that person?

If you heard an advertisement with a British accent, would you be more likely to believe it?


"The awfulness - and awesomeness - of being short"

A headline at BBC. What does awe mean?


At work a few years back a lady pronounced inquiry rhyming with furry. I thought that sounded weird.


Music, film, television


Joe Pesci's Life Is More Interesting Than You Would Think


Jefferson Airplane - She Has Funny Cars

A lesser-known song from Jefferson Airplane, from the album Surrealistic Pillow.


Food and Drink (mostly drink)



Mary Jane peanut butter and molasses candies were started in 1914. Apparently they were discontinued in 2018.



These have their charms, not least the box. I was looking at whether they could be made at home. It's more than just peanut butter and molasses.


Right now I'm eating something even older than Mary Janes: Sen-Sens. Do you you remember consuming these miniscule black licorice-flavoured specks when you were a kid?




And alas these are discontinued too. I feel like I should stop eating them.

I was going to give three super small presents at Christmas, including guitar picks. Can't do Sen Sens.


I had deep fried dill pickle late last summer in Gimli. It flicked a switch for me. I bought six more. I know that deep fried things are not good for you.




Junghans watches

at the Windup shop






The plot thickens.